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Ballet Talk for Dancers

how to perform your best without rehearsals


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I was put in the second cast of a new ballet being choreographed for my universities' spring show in early april. The choreographer is a new faculty member and choreographed the ballet one day at a time (meaning he didn't have a clear idea of what he wanted before rehearsals just vague "sketches" of what he wanted). The choreographer is definitely a perfectionist and has spent the last two months re-staging and cleaning while the ballet remains unfinished. He set everything on the first cast and rarely ever let the second cast run the ballet. Because of this he decided to make the entire second cast understudies. He said it was simply because we didn't know the ballet well enough. Last week he picked a few of the understudies and told us that he wanted us to perform but he would have to evaluate us during a run through and see how we did. If this wasn't enough stress on me, he's also had me understudy every guys part in the ballet and didn't tell me which part he was considering me for until the day before the adjudication. I've had more opportunities to dance in rehearsals than most of the other second cast because whenever any of the guys are out i step into their spots. This has been good and bad, because while I know all of the pas de deux sections for each of the guys i get very confused on ensemble patterns and the like since every male has different directions. Because he changes the choreography so often its really hard to keep up with without physically doing the movements.


Tonight was the adjudication run through. It was also the first time any of the second cast had danced the ballet all the way through. It was also the first time I danced two of the pas de deuxs that i'm in full out. I think i did ok considering the circumstances, but I know I would have done a hundred times better had i actually been able to rehearse the ballet full out. After tonight's rehearsal he said he was still unsure whether or not I would get to perform and he would reevaluate me in a few weeks. I guess I'm just looking for advice on how to really perform well without having much (or any) rehearsals where I get to dance the choreography full out. I feel like I've become a pro at marking the ballet and i always mark my arms full out but it's hard for me to remember some of the more complicated patterns and sections without getting it into my muscle memory. any advice?

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It is always difficult for understudies, and certainly more so if you are learning more than one role. The only thing I can suggest is to try and rehearse it as full out as possible in the back, or the corner, or on the side, or anywhere there is a space! If there are female understudies for the various pas de deux sections, try to get them to work with you during and even after rehearsals. If the choreographer is not going to rehearse you, you are just going to have to take it upon yourself to do it somehow and be ready. I know it's not fair, and you should get rehearsed, but, unfortunately, it doesn't always happen. :yucky:

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