Also known as the "Wilis" from Giselle, according to the Washington Ballet's Artistic Director Septime Webre. That's how he described them to the young audience at today's open house. How better to help a group of 21st century kids relate to a 19th century ballet classic?
In the movie "A Chorus Line", there's a dancer who is always looking down. Zack shouts at him to stop looking down, which he does. For about 5 seconds, then he's looking down again. Sometimes I feel like that. At the barre my focus is level, but in the center I catch myself looking where the downstage wall meets the floor. I'm pretty good at knowing where my body parts are without looking in a mirror, and I find seeing myself in the mirror to be distracting.
Today I forced myself to look toward the mirror as we did combinations. It helps with my balance, but I still don't like it. I guess I can learn to deal with it.
In my Saturday classes I struggle to keep pace with the music. I seem to be just a bit behind the music and everyone else. I suspect I'm lagging because I don't feel sure of what I'm doing, even when I know what I'm supposed to be doing. I need to push myself to go full-out, and accept that it'll mean that I'll make mistakes.
In my Sunday classes I feel more comfortable, and except for new steps I don't have trouble keeping up. The one truly new step for me is the contretemps, which I'd never heard of until this summer. And then there's the whole class of steps done "backward", like a petite jeté that finishes with the working foot in the front, or a pas de bourré that goes "front-side-back" instead of "back-side-front". Since I have no muscle-memory for doing these steps this way, it's like learning them all over again.
As foreshadowed above, I dropped in on The Washington Ballet's open house after class today. It was a total madhouse. I didn't even try to get into the rooms that attracted the children -- that would have been like squeezing into a sardine tin. One of the staffers said they'd planned for about 400 people over the course of the afternoon, and they had more than that show up in the first hour.
I got to watch the company perform bits of Giselle, which was quite interesting. Normally dancers disappear off-stage and then reappear, but since this demo was in one of the practice studios there was no "off-stage". The dancers would dance to the edge of the room in-character, then drop out of character until they were due back "on-stage". In between they'd do what dancers do off-stage: stretch, flex, adjust their costumes, make jokes. But this time it was visible. Quite a different view. I can hardly wait to see it on stage next month.