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Ballet Talk for Dancers

July celebrations


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Ami, you're going to laugh - I have avoided ballet, movie (and various versions) and book since I was in my mid-20s. I have to admit to having a block on that one - deliberately. I wasn't familiar with any of the variations because the last time I had to deal with it was when I was about 18. And it's the one time I can thank heavens for a brain like a sieve. I wonder if maybe some teacher somewhere just forced it on me sometime, but am not really bothered to dig that deeply to find out. LOL!


I expect that now it's come up, I suppose I could at least force myself to see it. But if I do, I'd rather see it on stage than on screen. I did download and watch some of the Kitri parts that are on YouTube - and still didn't like it.


I must admit that I DO like watching some of the girls in my class do it, though. One especially. She does it so well and with such saucy-ness.

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  • Serendipity


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Well Serendipity, I avoided Sleeping Beauty for a while because of some bad memories, but am over it now...... I think maybe finding a performance that grabs you -- like the girl in class -- might be the key. For me, it was while I was down with dancing right after the Sleeping Beauty fiasco that I discovered a video of Maria Alexandrova as Kitri (this same video is no longer available, from my limited sleuthing) -- she was so full of verve, sauciness, fun...... JOY..... that it made me cry! That joy of dancing is really what it's all about, no?


And I've said it before and I'll say it again, watching dance and learning variations is SUCH an important tool, especially as we move onto pointe and if we are teaching others as well. I've often seen teachers mix in a bit of a 'variation' into a longer exercise, or ask their students 'do you know what that's from' (either in terms of steps or music) -- really important to their learning, and, even though we are older, to ours as well. Case in point is the Sizova video I posted -- a great tool in observing what it really looks like to be over your leg and to make those weight transfers subtle yet crucial. It's a fairly simple step, but here done with such a high level of technique that it becomes art. Further, as an educator who deals with students who are at different ability levels -- I plan for them. Some tasks I give them may be difficult for one student and somewhat easier for the other, but still vital to an overall path of learning that I see for them. Good ballet teachers do this too, obviously!

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ROFL! Sleeping Beauty and it's accompanying variations are my fave, apart from Nutcracker, that is. I know more of SB's than any other ballet. Saw the girls do the variation full out today and must admit when it's done well, it's quite pretty.


So I shall seek out a professional performance and re-acquaint myself. At least, I shall TRY to deal with it. :-)


I certainly understand setting tasks that are challenging for students, although if one sets them too high, a student can become so frustrated that s/he loses an immense amount of confidence. It's a fine line to walk, as a teacher.

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Oooo--kay... one suitcase done for Richmond. Time to get on to the second one. Rather pay a $20 second bag fee than a $75 overweight limit fee. That bag is all survival food and ballet stuff (mostly ballet stuff - I'm not THAT dim as to put it all in one place!) and weighs only (!) 42 pounds.


Now on to the second....normal clothes, toiletries....dance bag with the survival ballet stuff. And, yes, I'm taking a day's worth on the plane with me, just in case, although as I have a non-stop, well....I won't tempt fate! I expect that bag MIGHT weigh a bit more but it's hard to tell. All the "costume" stuff is in the first bag, too. Don't know if the tutu will make it as is but it's not an expensive one and likely won't be used for pictures. It's very red and very plain. But, get this...it's a small and it fits!! Well, it fits as well as my recital costume does, and that's not too awful-looking (one of them, in any case).


Other celebration - non necessarily dance-related but certainly helps me leave here with a sense of satisfaction. A little gal I've been tutoring for reading just made a major breakthrough today. It started yesterday - got glimmers - today, she was reading fluently. She got the phonics!! Poor kid's going into 3rd grade and couldn't read at all (should be in special ed, smart, but very dyslexic - and I know it because that's my graduate degree and 20 years of teaching experience!!). Her gran and I taught together some years ago, and she brought the girl to stay with her for the month specifically so I could tutor her. We've had daily lessons - kind of like what I was doing for myself before Richmond: daily lessons to prepare, including "being tutored" by my own private teacher.


I nearly cried, listening to her whip through those words, sentences, and the stories, sounding out instead of guessing at the word, using the strategies (corrections, as in ballet) taught to her over the past four weeks. I re-tested her: she has done 6 months' worth of improvement in just four weeks. If I could keep her for another month, she'd be placed in the next level - and she hasn't even finished the FIRST level! :-D It's very exciting!!


I liken it to the muscle memory that came back - and so far, even with the ankle complaining, has stayed. Doc has diagnosed the real problem with the ankle, gave it a shot for now and I have to come back to get it properly fixed after camp. He said I will do it no harm regardless of what I do at camp (apart from doing something so stupid as to truly sprain a different part). It's "posterior tibial tendonitis" - mild. Does work when warmed up, hates jumping (pre-shot, of course). I have today, tomorrow and Saturday and must keep it booted, up or iced when I'm not dancing, but was given the green light to go as far as I feel I can. I likely won't jump in the first couple of days, though, just to be safe.


So many good things today!! And no panic attacks! :-) Now off to do the other case.



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Congratulations Serendipity to you and your student! You've given that little girl a priceless gift. I could not imagine a life without reading.


My big celebration for July was last night's master class. My favorite master class teacher gave a wonderful class last night and I was able to attend. The one "bad" thing is she always attracts a large amount of students, so the studio is more crowded than what I'm used to, but the good part of attracting a large amount of students is that I get to meet and see new dancers, which is always nice.


I really love this teacher because she has a fantastic way of explaining the physiology of dance movement (the mechanical and physical aspects). She also has the most beautiful combinations! I finally got to see a pas de basque done in a combo that looks beautiful. I've always seen this done as more of a character step but she incorporated it into a lovely combo. She also appreciates the older dancer and her combos are less tricks more dance. ***sigh*** It was a wonderful way to end a rainy dreary month!

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That sounds lovely! Our entire intensive, apart from the DQ variation, was much more dance-y than last year. It's lovely to be able to "emote" vs. just doing technical steps.

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