Sunday, December 28, 2014

MYB's 25th Anniversary Nutcracker

Last night we attended MYB's 25th annual Nutcracker. It was great, as usual, despite half the cast being sick. The guy who was supposed to dance the part of the Nutcracker was so sick they had to bring in someone who graduated a couple of years ago but knows the parts and still dances.

This is the closest I'm going to get to dancing for a bit. I've been sick since Wednesday, though I'm mostly recovered, but my GF is just hitting the worst of it. Not the way I'd hoped to spend my holiday break.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The word of the day

Tuesday evening's class was the opposite of the huge one a couple of Saturdays ago, with only nine students. The instructor wasn't even sure if we'd have a pianist, but we did.

The word of the day, or month, seems to be fouetté. They're showing up in barre, in turns, and in jumps. I wonder if the instructors have periodic meetings in which they agree on something everyone will work on. I enjoy the jump version, but the turns are frustrating. I'm no longer risking life and limb in my attempts, but I'm still falling out of many of them.

I guess this is how one learns.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Busy before the holidays

Class today wasn't as big as last week, but it was still crowded. I have this odd tightness in my shins, under the knee and medial to the tibia, that's been annoying me when I walk up stairs or plié. I ended up sitting out one of the more complex center exercises and the warm-up jumps. Otherwise it was a pretty good class.

A few classes ago we were introduced to fouetté turns. Not the tombé-battement-twist jump I've done since the 1980s, but the proper turn similar to a pirouette. Développé avant to demi-plié, rotate the leg en dehor to seconde, then pull it in to retiré relevé and rotate. At first it felt very awkward. As the instructor says, it requires no force, only coordination; I have plenty of force but the coordination is somewhat lacking on this one. But we keep at it.

Today we ended class with a relatively short combo: from fifth, tendu to second then fourth with a demi-plié. Pirouette en dehor ending in a demi-plié avant, straight into the fouetté. Fall into a balancé to the side, other side, front, back, then coupé, tombé, pas de bourrée, pirouette en dehor to fourth, and again to fifth. Repeat back and fourth a total of four times.

With so many of us in one room we broke into three groups, and I went with the second group. I seriously botched the first attempts at the fouetté. The second time through I was feeling better about it, and when the instructor invited anyone who wanted to try it again to go after the third group finished their second attempt, I jumped onto the floor. I guess third time is a charm, because I actually managed the whole sequence, fouetté and all. Score!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

A really BIG shew

Does anyone remember Ed Sullivan?

I showed up for class this morning, took my normal spot at the barre a few minutes early, and watched the others wander in. And they kept wandering in until there were 33 of us. That's two on each side of every portable barre, and the rest along the sides of the room. I don't recall the he last time I was in a class that big.

And there were two other men in the class. The one I could see during barre followed the basic outline of the exercises, but he seemed to be off in his own little world. As we started center work I realized that neither of these guys should have been in our Beginner II class — not when they're doing double pirouettes like they're nothing. And the occasional triple en dedans. Sheesh.

After class I chatted with them, opening by saying, "so I'm guessing you aren't just moving up from Beginner I". Not even close. They are performing in The Nutcracker this afternoon and this evening in a nearby town, and this class was their warmup. That's the sort of people I meet at this place.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Raleigh School of Ballet

I spent last week on business in Raleigh, NC. I try to get to a ballet class or two during the week even when I'm traveling, so I spent some time trying to find a suitable studio.

Kaija suggested two schools, but neither had classes at times I could make. Finally I decided to try the Raleigh School of Ballet.
I dropped in on the Tuesday night "Ballet Level 2" class. The facility has three separate classrooms, each with heat-sealed Marley laid over a sprung floor. Music is provided via CD players with speed adjustment controls and nice-sounding speakers, rather than the live pianists I've become used to. There is a proper, if tiny, changing room for men with an attached bathroom; I think it's safe to presume the women have a larger facility. There is parking on-site, which was quite crowded when I arrived due to kids classes that were about to let out.

I was told the average size of this class was about 14, but that night there were eight of us. Supposedly there is a male student who takes this class fairly regularly, but he wasn't in attendance. This night I got to try both of the smaller of the three classrooms because the CD player in the first room died part way through barre. Neither was as big as the classrooms at either Ballet San Jose or back home, and the center work involved some running back in the middle. Still, I enjoyed the class, and would have taken another class Thursday night except I had to work late.

Over all I was quite pleased with the place except for one thing: their prices. Their single class rate of $25 is quite a bit higher than others in the area, and $5 more than I'm paying in the Washington, DC, suburbs. They do offer discounts if you're willing to pre-pay for a block, but their 6-class rate is still $1 more per class than the just-raised 10-class rate I'm paying now, and is only good for 5 months rather than a full year. I'm not sure how they justify these rates, but they don't seem to be lacking for students.