Saturday, February 28, 2015

Back To Technique, Partner Dances, Teaching, tldr

     I can't believe I was away from technique classes for so long (about a year, maybe a little more), except for tap, which I took last semester. I have a crazy schedule this semester. Mondays, I have Dance Production 1, Ballet II/III/IV (we just call it Ballet II), and Modern II. Tuesdays and Thursdays, Dance Production II (it's from 4pm-8:45pm so that's enough, lol). Wednesdays, Dance Production 1 It's 9:30am-11am, but 9:30-1 on Fridays...yeesh), Jazz II, and Women's Choir. Fridays, after Dance Production 1, I have a few hours before I teach my two Friday classes. It's insane and I must be insane for doing this voluntarily. But would I give it up? Not a chance.

     On Monday, in ballet, class was relatively easy, as it's the start of the semester and N slows it down a bit for those transitioning from Ballet I. We had a few things facing the barre, for instance. Because I jacked up my knee in December, I am having trouble with doing things involving plies on JUST the right knee. I'm fine with the plie sequences, but when it comes to things such as piques or jumps, I have some sharp pain and that's not fun.

     Wednesday, I had Jazz II. I haven't had an advanced Jazz class since the teacher that used to be there teaching it retired around maybe 2007/2008. My technique is muuuuch better than it was back then so everything's easier and I understand combinations/terminology much better. I was not, however, prepared for like 45 minutes of stretching. Holy balls. I was so sore the next day. There is also an entire song of ab work, which I loved. I've never before held my foot to second (while my back is on the floor) and rolled INTO the splits from there. That's going to take some work! After stretching and ab work and MORE stretching, we did plies, tendus, and degages at center, which wasn't too bad. Then we did across the floor. After doing jazz walks on both sides, we then did a combination where we did four jazz walks, prepped and then did a pirouette en dehors. These went mostly well, but I need to work on speed for my doubles. K was asking for whatever we could do and I can do a double on one side, but they're so. slow. The last thing we did across the floor was piques. The combo was single, single, single, double. I got doubles every other time or so but

    So far in Dance Production 1, N has us learning a modern dance I did before so I'm in the front (yay), a Lyrical number (front again...double yay), and a ballet number (second row so far). In Dance Production 2, we've got a modern number where there are couples doing the tango in between. I'm doing the modern part and I did this dance before so will probably be in front...I hope. Then, another modern number that I'm not in love with and has lots of jumps that hurt my right knee (when landing). Then we are learning an advanced modern piece that I absolutely love and will be an auditioned piece so I'm crossing my fingers I can nail it (it's got a 11/2 revolution attitude turn into a layout...technique, please be with me!). Then a waltz I'm dancing with Boyfriend. There is a lift we are trying to get but it's his bad shoulder and so far, it's rough. Thursday, we began learning a salsa. I'm hoping I get to stay dancing with Boyfriend. I'm a plus-size dancer so I feel like I have to fight for any chance I get to do partner work, as L loves lifts.


     Friday is one of my teaching days and the only day I currently have students, it seems. Go figure, the little ones have flaky parents, so Mondays, I'm never sure if I'll have anyone to teach! Fridays start with Adult Ballet. My student in there right now is Jenny and she is wonderful. We met when in Hairspray together in 2011, when she was a teenager. We always have so much fun together. We still don't have center barres and the only one is on the wall, and you can only see the mirror when the right hand is on the barre, and then we're facing it. Not ideal, but we are working with what we've got. This week was "Bring a Friend to Class Week" so she brought her fourteen year old sister. We started with abs (I did an entire ab sequence to Uptown current obsession) and then floor stretches. Then we moved on to the barre. I showed JS (Jenny's sister) how to do each move/step (the word is failing me) and then combo before we did them. I stood away from the barre in JS's sight so she could watch and copy. We then did chasses, bourrees, degage walks, and chaines across the floor before moving on to the dance. I didn't give new choreography this week since we had JS, so we got up to the part where we do the emboites, and then JS sat down so me and Jenny could finish to where I stopped choreographing last week. Jenny is coming so far so fast. I could not be more proud. She is so dedicated and her sister seemed to really enjoy class, and that made me happy!

     This was the second week for my Lyrical class. I finally got a student last week. She is thirteen and so adorable! I didn't know they were so little at that age. lol. Bella has never danced before and just naturally turns out and wings her feet without me ever having to say anything. It's great. We did plies, tendus (turned out and then parallel), degages, and then battements at the barre. During the plie refresher (reminding her of what they were) before barre, I noticed her leaning forward to I had us go to the mirror and showed her how you can pretend you're sliding down a wall, so to keep correct posture. At the barre a few minutes later, I saw her correcting herself. This was only her second class. This is going to be a great season. She's such a treat to teach, just like Jenny. I won't bore you with details of the rest of the class, but her mom is just as sweet, and we were all laughing quite a bit, because I tend to joke a lot. I like to be funny, lol. Randomly draw a bat scribble on the mirror after Bella says "Batman" after I say Battements were next? Yep.

2015 is shaping up to be pretty awesome.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Back To Production 2

     Today was the first day of the new semester at ye olde community college. I mostly take dance classes, essentially using it as a dance studio, since it's so much cheaper than a regular studio. But guys, the productions are phenomenal, as are the instructors.

     The Dance Production classes are basically classes where you just learn dances to perform in the dance concert. No breaking down technique...just learning the numbers. It's expected that you have or are simultaneously taken/taking technique classes. I always try to take technique as well.

     I am in two Dance Production classes, as usual, so what I'm going to do is call the more ballet class Dance Production 1, and then call the more difficult more modern/ballroom one Dance Production 2. It's just easier.

     So, today was the first day back. After taking roll, giving out new codes for those still needing to add, and going over the syllabus, the instructor, L.G., took a few minutes to go to the faculty locker room to change, and then we were off! We start dancing the first day in that class, so it's good for those of us returning because we know to be dressed for dance already.

     We started off with a modern number I've done twice before. It's to a Leonard Cohen song, and I just love it. So I'm standing in front, because I learn best that way, ...and love being in front. We learned like...a minute of it? Yeah. Intense, but I love it.

     She had actually broken the class up into two groups: partners and non-partners. I'm not really thin and there are a ton of lifts/aerials, so I get put in the non-partner group but stuff like that. Sometimes it upsets me, but there's not much I can do, except continue to work on losing weight. I've already lost about 80lbs and have another 80 or so to go.

    This particular piece has a lot of contractions, non-ballet attitudes (on forced-arch foot, or side) and some floor movement, for example. I really love modern.

The next dance we started working on was a modern 1 (less advanced) dance I started learning in Modern 1 class last Spring. It's to an Avicii song I'm not crazy about, but the dance is alright, I suppose. Not my favorite, but not bad. Just kind of resides somewhere in the middle for me. Honestly, Modern 1 dances are usually like that for me. I like Modern 2 dances. Tougher, faster, more ...stuff. Which brings me to...

    Modern 2 dance. It's to an apparent popular song, which I wouldn't really know because I mainly listen to musical theatre music. lol. I didn't take Modern 2 last semester so the whole thing is new to me but guys...I LOVE IT. It's sad sounding (I love sad shit, ha), lots of turns, and technique. Perfect. I can't wait to continue with that one. As it's more advanced, it's going to be auditioned, but I'm hoping it will be alright. I usually do well with these, but quite a few people in there knew it already from last semester's class.

     L.G. was going to let everyone go home after that but she changed her mind. She decided that since it was so early, we would start the waltz. We don't often do waltzes, it's usually more tango or chacha/salsa, so I was a bit excited. And...NO LIFTS. I was sooo hoping to be partnered...especially since my boyfriend is in the class (though he was partnered for someone else for the first modern one...sigh). We did a cha-cha together last Spring and took Latin Ballroom together that semester, so I was crossing my fingers. But then, L.G. said she would keep the same partners that were paired in the first number. *cue saddest face ever from me* BUT THEN, L.G. said "...except for...Erika, why don't you go partner [Boyfriend]?" His other partner went and sat down and L.G. said it was due to the fact that we've taken Ballroom together and dance well together. YAY!! I'm so have NO IDEA.

     So, we started rehearing the waltz. The song is beautiful and so far, I'm loving the choreography. It's seriously lovely. This semester is shaping up to be completely awesome.

Until next time! (Hopefully tomorrow)

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Why Are The Barres Always Gone?

     Today my Intermediate Ballet class finally started back up. My student Jenny (name changed) is back and when she walked in, I was so happy to see her! She is 20 and an adult beginner. She took my class for about 2 months before we had our studio's first annual winter show. Because she came in so late, but determined and passionate, we had quite a few long rehearsals, going as long as three hours!

     Today started like most have, with floor stretches. Ouch, that hurt, as I haven't been stretching nearly as much as I should have been. I do floor stretches and barre with her, so that she can follow the combination. I introduced an ab routine. I have yet to smooth it out, as today I basically jumped into it, but I am going to make a regular routine to some faster, catchy song. Since we were just back after a month and a half, I went easy on her, but the ab routine will be more difficult next week. I was just doing it on the spot today.

     After that, I went to start our regular barre session, but looked around and discovered the barres have been, once again, removed from the room by the owners of the studio next door (the two rooms were one studio before but has been split, literally down the middle since new ownership took over our side). This barre thing is really becoming a problem. I mean, it's BALLET. Barres to ballet are like bananas to a banana split. We could do it in center, and we did, but as she's still relatively new, I didn't want to do that to her already. She's still building the foundation and it's much harder to get used to everything with also having to worry about balancing everything in center.

     We went through plies, tendus, degages, battements (for all of these these, the arms were altered for center), and rond de jambes. After that, I skipped our developpe/enveloppe combination because of time and also, I wanted to teach a few new things. I showed her frappes, with the working foot flexed in between. We spent some time going over singles, and then I showed her how for any even numbers (when to the side/in second), you put the working foot to the original direction and then the opposite vs odd numbers, where you put the working foot to the opposite from where you came first...and so on. This took some time. We did singles, doubles, and triples.

     I also taught a new (to her) combination with fondues and glissades. It's fondue en croix and then the second time to the side, leave the foot out, glissade away, glissade back, returning the outer foot to the back to reverse the whole thing. The second set of glissades returns the outside foot to the front to sous-sus to turn and do the other side. In this case, we had no barre, so I had her skip the sous-sous turn and we instead just did the other side.

     Because this all took so long, and we only had an hour, we then skipped across-the-floor and I instead worked it into learning the first section of the dance. I explained degage walks, as we do them to start the dance. I added some funky arms (basically, flexed hands, with eppaule), as the music is a funky French song. Then, we did a few degage walks with more fluid arms and prepped to go into two side pique arabesque steps. We did all of this basically across-the-floor to practice/learn then worked it in with the music, traveling forward.

     I then showed her emboites. I gave her a quick tutorial, but as time was running slightly over, we will work on them in more detail next week.

     I am so thrilled that she loved my choreography so far. She actually smiled so huge and said "Oh my god, I LOVE it!" This is a great start to this season. I'm so excited!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Lighting for the Spring Dance Concert (Post from 2012...not sure why it reposted)

     So today we had our lighting tech rehearsal for our dance concert. For Nancy's class, rehearsal was from 9am to 1pm. For Lynn's, it was 1:15 to 5. I'm in both classes so I'm required to be there for the whole day. Although it could have gone better it seemed to go by fairly quickly.

     Nancy started off going through the dances from her Monday and Wednesday classes. She basically wanted to get the beginners out of the way first so they could go home as soon as she was done with them. Fine by me. Any time to warm up is awesome. I know it's lighting and having done this so any times, I know we probably won't actually dance, but shuffle from spot to spot, but I want to be warm just in case. She went through Mischief Makers, Too Darn Hot and The Wedding Celebration. I was in Mischief Makers years ago and the Wedding Celebration music is from Brigadoon, which I was in in 2009. I thought it would be the same choreo but only part of it is, I believe. It was hard to tell as they weren't running the dance but just the spacing.

     The first number we ran that I'm in was the pointe piece, which is titled Pas De Quatre ("Step of Four"). This one, we went through fairly quickly, just stopping a few times for light queues. The music has a Spanish feel, with castanets throughout. Our costumes are black and red and frilly and definitely Spanish looking. We were originally supposed to wear pink tights but we changed Nancy's mind. She sometimes has an awful idea of which tights should go with costumes. She will almost ALWAYS select pink tights, but they don't always look right. We also helped her to see that pink tights would look awful with our black and white dresses for the ballet piece and those are now nude tights. Anyways, we were just doing lighting so we started in different shoes. Kat in her jazz shoes, Sierra barefoot, Lauren in ballet shoes and me in my white wannabe Ked's (my Hairspray/Grease shoes). When Nancy was running Sierra's and Lauren's solos (made so Kat and I have more change time), I took my shoes off because I thought I would look prettier barefoot. So we ran the number kind of (no music) and then we moved on to Raymonda Ballet.

     In this number, Kat is the soloist and does it beautifully. She's so darn adorable and she knows it. lol. This is the number with the black and white costumes. They're so beautiful! I wore one of them when I danced to Listen To Your Heart, which I loved! This number is not too exciting but it's cute. I'm in the core but I have a demi-solo with Sierra. Well, the other girls are doing some cabriolles back and then they do a port-de-bra in a way to present me. I run out, slide my right foot forward and do a port-de-bras, mostly to fill time. Then I do 3 chasse en tournants. I hate those but when Nancy asked who knew how to do them, I was the only one who did. lol. So anyways, I do three of them then do a pique arabesque in center and a bouree turn. Then I do three chasse en tournants to the right as Sierra comes out doing three to the left. So we cross each other. Then we do a pique arabesque and bouree turn all facing away from each other, then coming toward each other, we pique arabesque, recover, pique arabesque, recover, pique arabesque and do a I-forgot-what-it's-called with our backs to each other. Then we develope, pique arabesque past each other and run into another formation with toi, pas de bourees and so on. That dance went pretty smoothly.

     The next dance we did was Danse Macabre. I need to start out by saying that I have no idea what Nancy's problem is with me lately, but she's driving me insane. I have a lead in this number as the devil and she's stressing me the fuck out. I had to get my own devil costume, which I expected. The only one I could find that was anything close to what she wanted was like $70. I liked it but I was afraid just in case Nancy didn't like it. In the end, I couldn't really afford to get it because RENT, but I found a red dress at a thrift store and cut it up to look just like the devil costumes I saw online. All of my friends loved it and it looked pretty good on me, which was awesome, but then Nancy was doing lighting and from the sound booth, she asked me to come forward so she could see the costume. She had mentioned in weeks prior that I could take one of the poofy black and red tutus that she had gotten the demons and I could use it to spruce up my costume. I had no intention of wearing the tutu though because how in the hell do you wear a tutu with a dress? So she's in the sound booth and I stepped forward and everyone starts clapping and whistling, which embarrassed the hell out of me. haha. I'm sure my face matched the red dress. So Nancy says "Didn't I give you one of the tutus?" And I'm like "Yeah..." and my tone said "Yeah, and what the fuck's wrong with what I've got on?!" So she says that it looks like a Flinstone costume and I turned around and walked back upstage, totally pissed. My friends said Nancy's on crack or something because my costume looks good. So Nancy could probably tell that she upset me because she said something like "Well, with the fishnet gloves and " blah blah blah... and then she says asks that I will be wearing black jazz shoes, right? Um, no Nancy. I've only worn black jazz shoes every day but today by pure coincidence. Grr. So we ran the number and it went well and I'm still pissed but dammit, I did awesome.

     Next we did the modern piece, Don't Give Up. The music is by Josh Groban with a song of the same name. It's an anti-suicide piece and one of the better things Nancy has choreographed. The performers split up in two. Half of us are depressed and half are rescuers. I'm a rescuer. Jadie is my depressed beauty. We all start out as a group but then the rescuers run forward and we do something different from the depressed. Then we join our partners and it's partner work for the rest of it, basically. At the end, everyone goes off and Becka, who plays the Jumper, comes up the stairs onto the stage and is about to "jump" but Manny comes onstage, looking like he's trying to talk her off the ledge. She walks back, past him, looking like she's stressed and then runs past him to jump off but he catches her in a lift and it's...beautiful. She runs and jumps again, they do another lift, both lower to the ground and it's beautiful. It really is.

...and that was only half of my dance day. But I'm out of time. lol

Subbing Foundations

     Today I got to sub for a Foundations class. I was asked to about a week ago because the instructor for the class (the studio's owner) was having surgery today. I got there after that class started because I was told more than likely, nobody was coming. One of the seven year olds that takes that class was sitting in the parking lot with her mother in their car. Whoops. I opened the studio (we normally open at 4pm and it was well after 3. After being asked if the class was going on, I said I could teach in my 4pm slot as I was not expecting students until next week. I teach my 17+ ballet at 4 (and then 12+ Lyrical at 5). The mother said that would be fine and I called the manager so the mother could pay over the phone and then the mother went to wait in the car. I actually prefer the parents to not be in the room as I find it to be distracting for the kids. We don't have a hallway or anything, just some beautiful handmade wooden benches that are right on the sideline of the dance floor and sometimes the parents/grands are a little bit...loud. I love them but yeah, it's sometimes difficult working with them right there, sometimes saying things to the kids.

     Anyways, I had "A" color for a bit until 4pm hit and then I had her sit on the floor so that we could start with some stretches. I have subbed a class that had her once before, months ago, so it was nice to be able to work with her again (though it was just half of a modern class before, as the instructor was running behind, and this was ballet technique, basically). After some stretching, I had her do some ab work. She is only 7 so it was fairly easy. After around a minute and a half of that,it was time to do some barre so we dragged it to center and got to it! One of the things stressed that I do was to work on getting her to remember some vocab. That was good since I try to do that with my Littles class that her age falls into (my class is 5-8 year olds). I have noticed that no matter how many times I've had my Littles repeat terms after me and no matter how much I say the terms as we're at barre (a lot), it never seems to stick, so I thought I'd try something new today. I wrote out everything we would be working on at barre and center/across-the-floor on the mirror with a dry-erase marker. After I felt she knew that term, I had her find it and cross it off. We were pretty much going top-to-bottom, left-to-right so that was easy enough but I wanted her to see what the words looked like as well.

     We started with just foot positions, which she mostly knew. She did get stuck at 4th and did 5th in it's place but I told her we could go 1,2,3,5,4 because to get to 4th, I do find it easier to slide forward from 5th. After she got the feet, I showed her the arms for each, which she hadn't done before. After I felt she had them all down, I crossed that one off because it was too high for her to reach. Then I moved on to plies. We, again, went through all five positions (both hands on the barre...the young ones do that here). Then to help with tendus, I told her to imagine drawing a line in the sand , but had her going ball THEN point the toe. We did these en croix. Then we did degages en croix. Then after both were done, I showed a tendu and asked what it was called and she said "Degage?" so I gently reminded her that degages pop up off the ground. Then I mixed them up, doing a degage back, tendu side, degage side, tendu front (for example) until I was certain she could remember the term to the move. She was excited to cross two things off of the mirror. She was so adorable!

     Next was rond de jambes. She said the first two parts right and then was having trouble with "jambe" so I asked what she thought "rond" meant, and I held my arms overhead in 5th. She said "Round!" so I said "Very good! And 'Jambe' means 'leg,' so 'rond de jambe' means 'round of leg'." Then she caught on to what I was talking about and showed me a rond de jambe, so I told her she had it and we did them en croix a terre. Then I went over the difference between a terre and en lair. Once she had those, she crossed them off. We then did battements. I had her say "Batman" and then "Bahtmahn" and she recognized it and we were golden for that one too!

     She was really bright, enthusiastic, and had an excellent memory. We were almost finished with barre at that point, and across-the-floor was just as fun. I swear it was! Once we were done with everything I had for class, we had under ten minutes left, so I went over the whole list with her, but this time, I'd point (must resist spelling it "POINTE"!) to a word and have her say it aloud and then demonstrate it for me. Would you believe this seven year old girl got all but one right? I was so happy! I rewarded "A" with a handful of marshmallows once we were done and sent her on her happy little way. I seriously had a blast and I'm certain she did too. I will definitely be using this method in my Littles class.

P.S. This kid's feet were incredible, by the way! When seated on the floor with her legs extended, her toes were nearly on the floor. Flexible feet and strong ankles already. I'm jealous.