I Survived Mam-Luft & Co’s Summer Intensive…
…And it was basically one of the best weeks of my life, even though I felt all shy and weird and awkward at first.
I even took notes (and occasionally remembered to apply them in class) … though they’re still in the car right now, because yesterday I had an epic (and completely unnecessary) meltdown on the way home from Cinci and then did a cube workshop (pictures to follow). Needless to say, I was kind of tired when I got home.
Some quick highlights:
The masterclass series. I keep finding myself being like, “Jeanne’s masterclass was THE BEST!” or “Demetrius Tabron’s masterclass was THE BEST!” or “Gina Walther’s masterclass was THE BEST!”
In fact they were all THE BEST! for entirely different reasons — and that, my friends, is how a masterclass series should work.
Every master teacher reinforced concepts we worked on with the others, but every one also brought unique insights. In short, Mam-Luft & Co knows how to assemble a masterclass series.
Remembering the choreography (or not). For basically the whole week, I thought I was the only person in the entire class who didn’t have the choreography 100% down in rep. I was wrong. Almost everybody was missing bits here and there, it just took me ’til Friday, right before the final showing, to figure that out because I was too busy being anxious about not having it down (and about that whole eldritch god thing; see below).
Partnering. I freaking love partnering, y’all. I think I already said that, though. Partnering class was the first one in which I felt really confident; that transferred to the parts of rep where we lifted people.
There was one part of the choreography in which we collectively lifted G into a high side-plank lift, and then, as everyone else stepped away, I wrapped my arms around her and lowered her slowly to the floor. The moment when our instructor Susan said, “It’s okay, guys, he’s got this,” was literally one of the best moments of my life.
You guys, there was a time not all that long ago when I figured I would always kind of suck at partnering because, frankly, upper-body strength has never been my strong suit. Turns out that has changed considerably. It is good to feel capable, and it is amazingly good to feel capable of adapting myself to meet a goal.
Wednesday. Basically, all of Wednesday was pretty awesome for me. That was the day when I started being less terrified that my fellow students were, like, going to sacrifice me to an eldritch god or something. (Seriously, WTF is wrong with me?) Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was also the day that my brain went, “Oh, wait, this is dance, we can do this.”
Ir probably helped that ballet went well (Triple turns on demand! Like it was no big deal! …Which was totally not the case on Friday, btw, but that basically owes to a nasty blister* in a horrible spot which consequently made me super-stiff — I was constantly afraid I’d rip my foot open and render myself unable to dance).
“Cheetah eyes.” At lunch on Thursday, one of the other students mentioned that one of her teachers once said something like, “If you were a cheetah, your spine would enter your skull in a different place, and your eyes would be in a different spot in your skull. Imagine you’re a cheetah, and imagine where your eyes would be. Now go back to being a human and use your cheetah eyes (as well as your human eyes, obvs).” No an exact quote, but I hope you get the gist. Holy crap, did this ever fix the frack out of my alignment.
Release technique stuff. We do a lot of this in Modern T’s class, and bits of it had clicked here and there — but I discovered in Cinci that I actually really love it when I get out of my own way. In Leslie Dworkin’s masterclass, especially, I was able to briefly stop being an incredibly shy, uptight ballet nerd and just really use my whole body.
Repertory class. I started out feeling downright timid about this class, and it ended up being a highlight (and a bit of a crucible, I think).
I walked in afraid that I would literally never nail down the choreography; that I’d be so freaking bad at it that they’d ask me not to dance in the showing.
By the end, I felt like I knew enough to try to start making something out of some of it (though I still forgot to add the whole performative element to one of my parts, feh). Not that I didn’t make some mistakes during the showing (the most glaring one being the part where I wound up on the wrong leg in a static pose).
Also, we all kind of bonded over the lift-y parts and turned into a cohesive group. That was just plain cool.
Perhaps the most important thing I learned is that I automatically adjust my game to the level of expectation — when, for example, our ballet instructor called for triple turns in a combination on Wednesday, a small part of me went, “I don’t know if I can do that,” but a bigger part went, “Welp, better crank out some triples.” So I did.
This didn’t happen every time, but on average, when I got the hell out of my own way, things went better than I expected them to. When I got all tense and weird, things did not go so well.
I need to learn to hang onto my confidence in the things I do well and not freak out about other stuff.
I’ll try to post my more detailed notes later. Suffice it to say that I had a blast, learned a great deal, and will definitely be going back next year.
*nasty blister picture below the cut, because seriously, if you want to know what happens when you start to get a tiny blister right on the ball of your foot and then don’t think to tape it, this is what happens
You guys: if you’re doing a class that requires you to go barefoot, guys, TAPE YOUR BLISTERS. With cloth tape (put blister pads on them first). The kind that doesn’t roll up and make them worse, or roll off and make them worse.
This one looked like a little tiny blister, but bubbled up from the inside all the way down to the red, raw, meaty layer full of raw nerve endings. The dead layers then tore off, leaving another extra-sore spot right at the top.
Had I had the sense to use cloth tape, this wouldn’t have happened. Transpore® is great for a good many applications, but it won’t hold up on the bottom of your foot in a barefoot modern dance class. You live, you learn.
On the upside, I’m apparently much better at keeping my weight over my 2nd and 3rd toes than I used to be, so there’s that?