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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Richmond bound!--Day 1


Guest luna

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I thought I would never get out of Asheville and on the road to Richmond. It's amazing how many details I had to take care of before I could start my vacation--pet care, teaching lesson plans, car maintenance, etc... To make it even more hectic, my hubby was preparing to go to Sweden, so he was frazzled too. We ended up leaving the house for our respective journeys at the same time.

 

I left my Mapquest directions at the office and didn't want to take more time to retrieve them, so I decided to just wing it--I remembered the route, but underestimated how much time it took. As a result, I was late for dance camp check-in, and missed the introductions of the other campers. Pedro (teacher extrordinaire) and Asimina (Heidi's assistant) were there to welcome me with smiles and hugs. I had just enough time to dash over to the hotel to check in and change into my leotard and tights.

 

The placement class was challenging for me, as I hadn't danced in several weeks due to a pulled calf muscle. Pedro taught the level 4 class--he's probably the most challenging of all the instructors at Richmond. I was red in the face and dripping sweat in no time. I had to really force myself to concentrate because Pedro usually goes over combinations only once, and my mind was still in the car, having had no time to transition from highway mode to dance mode. I was thrilled that Pedro's first comment to me was that my pirouettes had improved over the past year. Hurray!

 

After class I went back to the hotel to unpack and take a hot bath. The hotel staff gave me directions to a small grocery store, where I bought all the toiletries I had forgotten to bring (can't do without razors and toothpaste for a week!), as well as bottles of water and juice.

 

Once back at the hotel I set a wake-up call, filled out a breakfast order card (oatmeal--cheap, and it sticks to the ribs), and went to sleep early, eagerly anticipating my first full day of dance camp!

 

More tomorrow...

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I slept well and had no problem getting up and to technique class with Kathy. She is a new teacher this year, so I was curious about her style of instruction. I immediately felt comfortable with her calm demeanor and helpful corrections. In particular, she noticed that when in left tendu to the seconde I was twisting my supporting hip in slightly. I wasn't aware I had picked up such a bad habit--I think it's because my left turnout is not as pronounced as my left and I was unconsiously trying to compensate. My home teacher never noticed this, so I'm grateful to Kathy!

 

Pointe is my weakest area, so I was curious to see how I'd do in Tristi's class. I think I did okay at barre, but had some trouble in center, not having as much strength on pointe as the other level 4 ladies.

 

Before camp started, I had decided to be nice to my calf and not try to take every class each day. Pirouettes was the 3rd class of the day, and I watched and stretched rather than take the class.

 

The catered lunches at the camp are yummy. I ordered the "Aegean"--a vegetarian sandwich I'd recommend. Yum! After lunch I changed into a dry leotard. To all of you adults going to Richmond in August, plan on wearing two leotards a day, especially if you sweat a lot like I do.

 

The first afternoon class was jazz with Tommy. He was a riot--very animated and "over the top." He used to work on a cruise ship and did some pretty funny characatures (sp?) of cruise ship dancing. We did some combinations across the floor that I thought were pretty simple, but I didn't mind because the whole point of the modern, character, and jazz class offerings is to have some variety in the day.

 

Repertory with Kathy followed. She and Heidi had danced Balanchine's "Serenade" together several years back, and so they chose the first movement of this piece for us to do. The music is beautiful, as are the poses. I'll try to attach a photo or two of our stage rehearsal of the piece.

 

Next was Heidi's stretch class. This was an excellent way to relax those tight muscles and calm the mind. After the stretch class there was a kinesology (sp?) lecture, but my muscles were screaming for a hot bath, so I went back to the hotel.

 

A little later we all regrouped in the hotel lobby for a shuttle trip to Ellman's, the local dancewear store. I didn't buy anything, as I had ordered from Discount Dance before camp, but it was fun to look at all the pretty leotards and chiffon skirts.

 

After dinner we all went to an Italian restaurant near Ellman's. I thought the food was mediocre, but it's hard to mess up pasta too terribly, and good service made it a pleasant meal. And I can't forget to mention that Sheila the gracious winelady kept us in good reds!

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Xena,

I want to attach a photo to my previous post, but the little message box at the bottom of the page says "you may not post attachments." Is this something you can help me with? Thanks,

Luna

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Hi Luna

 

This is great, I really enjoy reading your reports. I will see what can be done with regards to attaching a photo. If you want to you can send it to my e-mail address

 

j.hobbs@umist.ac.uk and I can attach it for you, or you may want to e-mail Alexandra and ask her advice, which is actually probably the best thing to do as I was only going to e-mail her.

 

Keep the reports coming:D

 

Jeanette x

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I slept fitfully, as did my classmates I think, because everyone seemed a little groggy this morning in Pedro's technique class. Maybe it was all the wine the night before! Anyway, we danced in the HUGE upstairs studio. It is so big that I had a hard time seeing the combinations demonstrated without my glasses:) The studios I dance in at home are relatively small, so having enough room to dance grande allegro "full out" was a novelty for me. We were also treated to an accompanist, which is really a luxury. There were some local professional guests in the class, which increased the overall difficulty level. I probably would have been more comfortable in level 3, but I thought why not push myself, since the week is such a unique opportunity to improve?

 

After technique we had variations class with Kathy. She chose one of Aurora's solos from Act III of "Sleeping Beauty" for us to do. The piece is a pretty one--very delicate and expressive, with nice music. However, although the piece looked simple at first, my classmates and I soon found out how deceiving looks can be! Most of us were massaging our calves in agony before the hour was up--almost everything in the piece is on releve, especially on the left foot.

 

Before lunch all of the BalletAlert folks gathered to take a picture to post on the board. Unfortunately, it did not turn out! I think my camera battery was weak, thereby causing problems with the autofocus. How disappointing! Anyway, Sheila, MKDance, After Five, Skippy, Dancerlegs, and others were there--it's tough for me to remember all the online names. PrinceRob was still with Pedro, working on the men's variation.

 

After lunch we had repertory with Kathy. We worked hard on coordinating the timing of the introductory poses in "Serenade." Kathy brought a NYC Ballet video of the piece, which helped tremendously.

 

The next class was modern. I don't really get excited by most modern, so I chose that hour to rest. I used the time to watch the video from last year's August session, as I hadn't purchased a tape of my own. I'm actually sorry I watched it, because it was agonizing watching myself mess up during partnering. That, in combination with the scrutiny of my less-than-sylph-like body made me depressed, but only temporarily.

 

That evening I chose to stay in the hotel room, since I had gone out the night before. I did some stretching and massaged my tight leg muscles, took a hot bath, and watched some mindless television. At home I don't have the cable service necessary in the mountains to get more than a couple of stations. I was curious to see what I had been missing. The answer? NOTHING!

 

I went to sleep at a decent hour, and this time dreamt of pirouettes instead of grading essays! Hurray--my mind had finally switched from work to vacation!

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A note re attachments -- Xena, your advice was exactly right :) Luna did email me, and this is the situation.

 

We've turned off the attachments feature for all but administrators and moderators. Photos cost a lot of bandwidth and slow the loading of the page down, especially for those with dial up modems. I've seen sites (not dance onces) that have so many photos and drawings and cartoons that people don't read them anymore, and we had people starting to put photos and cartoons in their signature lines, so we thought we had to turn off the feature.

 

I know we had attachments last year and people enjoyed them (including me!). That feature is turned on for administrators and moderators (we can't turn it on for individuals, only groups). Xena, if you're willing to do it, you could have people email you and you could post photos.

 

Hope that helps!

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Wednesday, midway through the camp. Tristi's technique class was pretty challenging. I'm always impressed with how prepared Tristi is to teach--she always works out her combinations in advance, and she does a nice job of tying the barre work in with the center work. I think most of us were too tired to appreciate it, however! Many students, me included, had to bow out and watch from the sidelines, either due to simple fatigue or to cater to a particular sore muscle. My calves were killing me! I'm going to really do a lot of strength and stretching exercises for my calves before I go back to Richmond in August.

 

The second class of the day was pointe with Kathy. I really liked her pointe combination--they were very "dancy." Unfortunately, my toenail had started to come off and was moving around painfully inside the shoe, so I probably didn't do my best work. Pictures from the class show me with a grimace on my face!

 

Variations was with Kathy as well. We finished learning the choreography and started to fine tune the details of the Aurora solo. I decided not to do it on pointe since my toenail hurt, but it looked like it would have been fun and challenging.

 

After lunch was repertory, again with Kathy. The day ended relatively early to give us a chance to rest and regroup for the rest of the week. This was a change from last year. Some people went exploring Richmond, while others just rested in their hotel rooms. Being the quilter I am, I made a beeline to a couple of the city's fabric stores.

 

Sheila and I met some other dancers at a funky diner within walking distance of the hotel, and then I went back to the hotel to get some much needed sleep.

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Guest karenfixe

Luna,

 

It sounds like you're having a fabulous time! Did you do the dance photos on Wed? Were they the group photos or individual? I'm going in early August and wanted to plan ahead. Thanks!

 

Karen

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Karen,

 

The moderators have changed the policy concerning posting attachments on this board, so that's why I haven't included any photos thus far. Sorry! Which August session will you be attending?

 

Chris

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Guest karenfixe

I'm going to the Aug 3-9 session. Are you going to attend that one too? I wasn't so much concerned about seeing the photos here online, but was wondering which day the group photo is done and which day is set aside for the professional photographer to do the studio portraits. :)

 

Are ya having fun?

 

Karen

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Like Luna, I absolutely loved Richmond last week! Karen - The group photo was taken at 9 am on Monday morning (it actually turned out very well...we didn't all look half asleep as I expected!) The professional individual photos were taken on Saturday at the studios following the performance and lunch. I didn't have them done (wanted to save the money), but Pedro and Kathy helped pose people who did. A friend and I decided to take photos of each other instead...of course they won't be as nice, but a lot cheaper, and it was fun! I really feel that the week was very beneficial. It was great to have such awesome teachers and to see what is available to adult dancers (I was the youngest there, so I was not previously aware of all the opportunities...and that there are some really excellent amateur dancers out there!! :D ) I feel like I got a bit stronger, especially in pointe work, but there is really not a whole lot of physical improvement that can happen in just one week. However, I did learn lots that I can continue to work on...and new ways to think about things I already knew. Also, I really enjoyed the physical therapy, kinesiology, and other lectures....I learned many helpful things about anatomy. For example, what exactly happens physically when one executes an arabesque (there was a whole lecture on arabesque with Tristi and Heidi) I also found the "Foot Class" very beneficial...Heidi taught strenghtening and stretching exercises that were taught to her as a young student. (I've been doing them every day so far...we'll see how strong my feet get! ;) ) If anyone has any specific questions, I'd be happy to answer them, but that's about all I can think of right now. Luna - I'm really enjoying your daily journal, and seeing what you felt about our classes day-to-day! Hope you have just as much fun in August. :)

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Thursday we had Tristi again for technique. It was funny because she said something to the effect that we had done so well with her combination the previous morning that she had planned another challenging class. I think we must have looked worried about that, because she immediately backtracked and said she'd simplify for us since we looked so tired! Really, I think one of the most challenging things about Richmond is endurance--no matter how well you pace yourself, it really is a shock to the system to go from 1-2 classes a day to 4 or more. The class did end up being slightly easier than the day before, except for one coordination excercise...our port de bras were in a series of 3, while our tendus were in a series of 4. It was quite difficult for me to keep the two different patterns coordinated. It must have been difficult for my classmates too, because Tristi said afterwards in amused irony, "Well, THAT was fun." I'm going to practice the combination this summer and maybe I'll have it down by the time I return to camp in August. Tristi noticed my same hip problem which Kathy had noted earlier in the week. Now that I'm conscious of it, I'll work on correcting myself. Bad placement habits are hard to break once they're ingrained, unfortunately.

 

The second class of the day was Variations with Kathy. She broke us up into performance groups of 4 or so, depending on which version of the solo we had chosen to do. The series of quick sissone ferme (sp?) switching directions was giving some people trouble, so Kathy had a couple of optional simpler versions. A couple of people tried the variation on pointe, but only 1 or 2 ended up wearing them for the performance. The series of 8 releve arabesques backward would have been too advanced for me to do on pointe, especially for a performance.

 

The next class was a "foot class" taught by Heidi. I opted out of it to go back to the hotel to retrieve my forgotten character skirt and shoes for Ms. Grace's afternoon class. Sheila reported that the foot class was very helpful--Heidi demonstrated foot strengthening and flexibilty exercises. If it's offered in August I'll be sure not to miss it.

 

After lunch we had partnering taught by Pedro--level 3 and level 4 took this class together, assisted by all men available. I was delighted to be assigned to Doug from the Richmond Ballet, who was helping out to improve the male/female ratio. What a Prince Charming he was! It didn't matter how badly I messed up, he still made me look good. He was also very courteous, and offered suggestions in a helpful but not condescending manner. About halfway through the class Pedro told us to switch partners. I and the two other women assigned to Doug barricaded him in protest! We shouldn't have worried, however, as our next partner, Scott, was very skilled and courtly as well.

 

I had been looking forward to the afternoon character class with Jasmine Grace. She is quite a lady--very knowledgable and dignified. Some of the younger campers who sometimes let indecorum slip into their interactions with other teachers used their best behavior for Ms. Grace. The class was fun, even though we were all a little pooped from partnering class. Ms. Grace introduced us to various character steps from Russia, Hungary, etc... and explained how they manifest themselves in traditional ballets as well as contemporary works.

 

We weren't finished yet! After character we briefly met with Kathy run through our repertory piece, just so we wouldn't forget any choreography before our longer meeting on Friday.

 

Pedro taught our afternoon stretch class. He put on some "new-agey" windchime music that was very soothing, and it was a nice way to end the dancing day.

 

Back at the hotel, I hit the hot tub with lots of other folks, and then went to bed early for some much-needed rest.

 

That's all for now--I'll be away from the computer this weekend, so don't look for more entries until Monday. I hope you're enjoying them!

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Guest donna f

Hi Luna -

 

It's great to hear about the Richmond experience from your perspective. I was there also, and thought it was the best thing I've done for myself in years! I've taken 3 classes this week (back to my normal schedule) and I must admit that trying to remember the corrections I got from Pedro, Kathy, Tristi, Heidi and Denile, adds a whole other dimension to my normal class routine. I utterly recommend it to anyone who hasn't gone.

 

Have you practiced the 'tendu en quor' (sp?) with arms in threes?? I tried it once or twice this week. I think it will take the rest of the year to get that down!

 

On another note - how do you find out the actual name of the varieties of pseudonyms I see on these boards? I'm curious about who from Richmond June '03 is talking.

 

DF

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