Category Archives: life

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Insta thinks I’m into:

  • ballet
  • cats & dogs
  • …bodybuilders?

2 outta 3 ain’t bad (not that I mind body bodybuilders or anything)

shows and stuff and things

On Saturday, a bunch of us from only weeds will rise in winter descended upon Churchill Downs’ opening night Fund for the Arts gala to perform excerpts from the show in pop-up form.

It went well (though I was a complete disaster on Sunday because I got dehydrated :P). We were a tad awkward at first, but as the night went on we got things nailed down and started tacking on a long-form improv after the set choreography. That just got better and better: the last round was awesome, even if almost no one was left to see it!

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We also demonstrated that modern dancers don’t have to be so hecking serious allataimz.

Anyway, I’m feeling more and more confident about weeds, even if I was a complete PITA[1] to our choreographer-director on Sunday (sorry, AMS!).

  1. I was having an exceptionally difficult time with receptive language processing, but didn’t realize it ’til after rehearsal was over, so I was constantly screwing things up and being mad at AMS about it. Ugh.

In other news, I’ve started working on choreography for my PlayThink piece, and I think it’s going to be quite cool indeed. A friend of mine might be joining me, which would be even cooler. There are parts of it I can’t do very effectively in my house (too many obstacles!!!), but the performance takes place at an outdoor venue that doesn’t have a fancy floor, so now that it’s warm I can practice it in my back yard.

I’m hoping to have settled a group of dancers for shadowlands or whatever I’m calling it soon, because SUDDENLY IT IS ABOUT TO BE MAY WTF.

I am so not good at recruiting people, and really really not good at recruiting people when I have no idea where I’m going to take them to rehearse. Blargh.

On the other hand, L and I have come up with some really solid choreography for the CL/UofL collabo show, so that’s going quite well.

We also just launched rehearsals for the SPA show, which is going to be amazing.

Obviously, my schedule is completely wack right now, and I’m trying to learn how to eat and sleep in the midst of it. What works best food-wise, of course, is simply to cook a couple of huge batches of whatever when I happen to have time. Sleep-wise, on the other hand … eek, who knows?

So that’s it for the moment. Class notes later probably?

Topless Boys Live: Seven(?) Months Later

So it’s been, heck, like seven months or whatevs, and I haven’t updated the Topless Boys Live series in a bit.

Anyway, here’s where things are, with the new glasses as well (no special reason, just hadn’t put my contacts in yet).

Evidently I was bored with life this afternoon? Also, this angle makes my head look tiny.

These scars act like a warm-up indicator: they show more when I’m cold. They’re fairly faint on this side, now, except that weird little fold under my arm where the drain was.

They don’t show much under direct light, either.

Because dancers gonna dance.

I didn’t mean to include only my right side. I just like how my shoulders look in this one.

There are two little spots on the left side where I got itchy, scratched off the tape early on, and wound up with irritation that led to a slightly different scar type. These are still kinda pink right now, but they’re my usual hypotrophic scars. They’ll eventually turn white. I’m not worried about them.

I am also finally getting some definition back after several months of feeling podgy.

The most interesting thing about these scars is that the scars themselves are now thin, whitish lines–healing of some kind is still going on simultaneously alongside them, so my skin is a little pinkish there, especially when I’m cold.

I’m used to the way my body feels, but maybe not to liking the way I look. It still surprises me how much I do like how I look most of the time.

Long day tomorrow: class, rehearsal, different rehearsal, performance, different performance. Class starts at 9 AM; second performance ends at 11:30 PM.

Tonight, though, I’m going to go review choreo for an hour or so, then come home and crash.

Thursday Night Notes

I got back to aerials today. Worked on rope for the first time since Intro class (so very, very long ago, that seems!) and realized, holy heck, I like rope. We did some trapeze, too, and I learned a new sequence that works for my bendy, snaky body.

After, we chatted about the personality of the apparatuses. Ultimately, we decided that rope is like that big, kinda rough punk kid who maybe doesn’t shower enough but will stop and help you change a tire in the rain, while silks are totally Mean Girls (pretty, but bitchy as hell and complicated, and they’ll drop you like a hot potato if you set a foot wrong). Trapeze, which we didn’t discuss, strikes me as a little aloof and superior. Probably a bit kinky, too. Dance trap is definitely kinky.

After, L and I set a new phrase for my incredibly complicated acro-ballet-ball piece.

Tonight in class, my body remembered how to ballet (though my right quad decided to involve itself in an relevé lent devant one, which was weird and annoying and promptly made it cramp right up the rectus femoris o_O). We were a little boisterous, but still BW gave us some challenging combinations and some good corrections. I did the petit allegro as if I was, like, actually decent at petit allegro. Go figure.

I have, at most, a few more classes with him. I’ll miss him rather more than I care to admit.

At the same time, I’m trying to look forward and plan the next phase of my training. I’ve had a stellar mentor in him, and while hope we’ll keep in touch a bit, it makes sense to build that kind of connection with someone local. I think Killer B might be a good fit. Did I say that already? Predictive Text seems to think so.

Oh. Lastly, I submitted my proposal for a piece for the next choreographers’ salon thingy. Now I need to round up my dancers and get to scheduling. I’ve decided to set the piece for seven dancers, and I think I have enough victims volunteers, but whether I can lay hands on all of them at once remains to be seen.

things you realize

…when you poke through your kindle library at 3 AM

I just finished reading Howard’s End, which is both beautiful and vexing, as Forster’s novels can be.

Since I have to be downtown at eight for a couple hours’ circusing, and I’m not feeling sleepy, and I’ve decided to simply accept this facet of my nature for the moment instead of railing against it, I’ve been poking around for something else to read.

Anyway, I’m trying not to buy any books right this second, so I’m looking through my library, and it dawns on me that my Kindle library stands as a record of my thoughts, in a way, since a bit before I began at IUS. And many of those thoughts were me trying to figure out where to put myself; about who I was and how I should be in the world.

And I realize, now, that for all my sense that I’ve been sort of ducking the bit of adult life, I have in fact been settling into it instead. It’s just that it has happened while I wasn’t looking–that is, while I was dancing, and because I was dancing.

This would be positively ruinous to my marriage if D had imagined that he was getting a finished article. Fortunately, neither of us expected that. We’ve moved so, so far from what I first expected that we haven’t yet sorted out how it all works. My schedule is implacable and impossible and my world is terrifyingly rich and full of other people, and somehow in the midst of all this we are trying to figure out how to actually be together sometimes, and not simply under the same roof occasionally.

When we met, the idea of dancing, of being a dancer, was latent in me. Now it’s simply the air that I breathe. It’s not as important to define what you are when you’re busy being.

To be a dancer is to do dance. To work as a dancer is to live a life consumed by dance. I would say that I don’t think it’s a life one sticks with long if it doesn’t fit, but I’m probably wrong. If it fits, nothing else will work.

So it seems that while I’ve been busy just working, just undertaking this mad project, my life has sort-of gelled. Not that I mistake this for permanence: as a dancer is made of dancing, so a life is made of living. Every step moves forward, forward into the unknown.

But I feel, finally, like I’m trying to move towards things instead of away from things, and to be as I am instead of remaking myself perforce in an image that perhaps doesn’t fit. Not to say that I don’t chafe at my own shortcomings: I will probably never be BW, who apologized for making pies (from scratch) ahead while in the thick of rehearsals for Swan Lake, and who is gentle and temperate.

But I’m more willing, maybe, to work with what I’ve got than I was in 2010. Dancing forces you, eventually, to countenance your own limitations (my turnout is good but my fifth position depends deeply on keeping myself lean because I’m muscly; I’m swaybacked; sometimes it seems my arms will be a trial forever…).

When you find your strengths, your weaknesses stop scaring you so much.

Little by little I’m finding my way.

I suppose it’s worth mentioning the card that my favorite high school English teacher gave me was a cut-out swan in which she’d written, simply: “Find your way.”

I think about that often.

That, and the fact that sooner or later, ballet always involves some manner of enchanted swan.

halp

Saw Giselle last night.

Pros: really good performance, and the hops-en-pointe section didn’t seem random and wtf-y. Which, tbh, sometimes it does.

And as silly as ballet mime feels sometimes (I may have leaned over to my friend L during the second act as Mirtha mimed at Albrecht and whispered, “Make me an omelet, mortal!”), Giselle’s mom in Act 1 flat-out ripped everyone’s heart out with it during the death scene.

Cons: one of my favorite people was the guy in the peasant pas (he was lovely), and between that and the fact that I learned the male variation a couple years back, I was all kinds of paying attention, and now the music is STUCK IN MY HEAD FOREVER.

You guys, I would much rather have Tchaikovsky stuck in my head, for reals. Adam is so … errrrrgghhhh.

It’s that class of ballet music that’s fine as long as there’s a ballet to go with it, but nigh unlistenable on its own. (I should note that the male peasant pas is fairly inoffensive … the first two or three times.)

Also, to be honest, I don’t feel like Adam quite understood the story. Like, seriously, listen to Albrecht’s variation. Then ask yourself whether it sounds like the kind of music that goes with the concept these angry dead ladies are trying to dance this guy to death.

To be honest, it sounds more like, “Jovial wine merchant announces his engagement,” or something.

But we accept it, partly because the choreography is awesome and possibly also because by the time the second act begins many of us have had a drink or two.

Maybe it works better when they play Albrecht as a philandering jerk who just kinda vaguely feels bad about stuff (now that it’s Much Too Late)? Then we’re all on the side of the Wilis, and maybe they think it’s funny.

Though, to be entirely honest, I suspect that Giselle’s BFLF[1], Mirtha, didn’t even think anything was funny even before she became a Wili. Definitely not as she was played last night. There were some seriously fearsome vibes rolling up off the stage.

  1. Best Frenemy Literally Forever

~

In other news, I’m horribly swamped with dancing stuff right now, which I suppose is a good problem to have.

But alas, BW is leaving us for bigger things, so I’m also all kinds of moping about that. I’ll miss him as a ballet mentor, but also as a friend. That said, he won’t be so far away that I can’t go watch him dance once in a while.

I’m glad we have L’Ancien teaching advanced class, but my relationship with him is very different. I had BW entirely to myself for months, and he understands my body better than anyone (better, in fact, than I do) where ballet is concerned.

So until he departs, I plan to make the most of every class with him. I mean, not that I didn’t plan to in the first place. But you know what I mean.

Anyway, it’s late and I’m exhausted, so off to bed with me.

Mr. Merkah demonstrates how I feel right now

Reveille*

(n) An advanced step in which—after falling catastrophically out of a turn, jump, or lift—one rises from the ground with such an air of grace and mastery that the audience (ideally, even the choreographer) believes the whole disaster was part of the original choreography. Example: “Mistaknov’s glorious reveille left us questioning whether Seigfried’s variation was not, in fact, actually supposed to open with a glorious saut de chat followed by a fluid, cat-like tuck-and-roll to the knee. Indeed, we wondered if we’d ever seen it done right before.”

I am definitely recovering. Yesterday, I still woke up feeling fairly exhausted, but by late afternoon some of the fog and fatigue had begun to lift.

Every time I do this to myself, I’m stunned by how thoroughly a fairly minor illness can sap one’s energy (or, at any rate, mine). When you know you’ve got a sinus infection but you let it go for several weeks because you know the antibiotics you’ll take to get rid of it don’t play nicely with ballet and you’ve got a show coming up, you lose track of what “normal” feels like.

Anyway, today I feel almost like a human being, which means that by the end of the week I’ll probably be my usual hyperactive self.

Tonight, I’ll be back in class—I’ll do barre and see how things sit.

There was a brief period in this whole process in which I thought, “I wonder if this is what ‘normal’ feels like.” I wasn’t yet overwhelmingly exhausted, but I could sit down for more than five minutes at a time and could also fall asleep easily without having to spend eight hours furiously dancing first.

It lasted maybe a week. It was nice, in a way, but it wasn’t quite like being myself.

Maybe someday when I’m older I’ll find my way back to that place and it’ll feel like home.

Maybe I won’t: we tend to measure ourselves by our peers, and I’ll probably always be a bit of a live wire by that yardstick.

*not an actual ballet term … BUT IT SHOULD BE

Netflix & Ill

Can’t really do anything today because my health status has rather abruptly careened from “grumpy and under the weather” to “cheerful but really quite ill,” replete with fever and the inability to stand upright without appearing to be either quite drunk or on a sinking ship.

I’m now really, really glad I made an appointment to see my GP back when I was just feeling a bit sinusy and fatigued, because this is ridiculous.

Anyway, being as I’m not able to really do anything at all, I just watched Icarus on Netflix. It was surprisingly good. Worth a watch.

Also, everything tastes weird, which for once in my life is causing me to crave sweets (normally, my cravings are for salty, fatty things). It’s weird, y’all.

In Which Your Humble Author Sucks It Up

… And stays home.

I’ve had a sinus thing going on for a while, and it has finally run me to ground.

I’m just flat-out exhausted despite having slept 10 hours plus per night for the past several days, and since sinus pressure and fatigue are key indicators of sinus infection, I’ve made an appointment with my doctor for Friday morning.

To be fair, I really meant to do this sooner. I got through theater week and the week that followed purely by the good graces of pseudoephedrine, basically, which allowed me to keep going without really solving the underlying problem (which, to be fair, pseudoephedrine isn’t designed to do). Oh, well.

That said, I’m also bored stiff. It’s possible that there’s nothing as ridiculous and pathetic as a dancer who currently lacks the energy to dance. You would think a lifetime of recurrent sinus infections would have inured me to the mental restlessness associated with being physically “on the bench,” but no.

Even though I escaped yesterday evening to help transport some stuff from CL’s old headquarters to our new ones, I’ve reached that point at which one begins to entertain bad ideas (“Maybe I’ll just do barre!”) in order to allay the weird restlessness.

And if this all sounds like so much First World Whining, don’t worry—it 100% totally is, and I know that. It’s not really that horrible to be a sick dancer, just annoying and inconvenient.

So drama. Many tragedy. Wow.

Per husband’s orders, I’m playing it safe and most cooling my heels until I can see the doc (though I do have to go to rehearsal tomorrow, because work). With any luck, she’ll declare me fit to fly while we’re getting this sinus thing handled.

Sunday: Get On The (Struggle) Bus

This morning, perhaps due to the time change but perhaps also due to the fact that we’re all up to our eyeballs in alligators right now, the struggle was really, really real.

Barre was … well, meh about sums it up. It wasn’t the worst I’ve ever done, but I also wasn’t entirely awake, and my legs felt like they weighed about 48 kilos each.

Center tendus were … ugh. More like tendon’ts. I got through the first version without too much awfulness, but when we ran the reverse I kept changing the facing of my hips when I shouldn’t have and, as a result, winding up on the wrong leg, and then having to do this tendu-failli-tendu thing, and then sometimes I’d have faillied the wrong leg somehow and I’d still be wrong, and I’d just go, “Feck it,” and coupé over in whatever way would get me to the right place ’cause ain’t nobody got time for dat.

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“Wait … which inside leg???” –Basically me. Via Pexels. (This one’s for Anna :D)

Adagio was at least back to meh, instead of actively WTF-worthy. When I’m “on,” adagio feels fairly effortless. When I’m off, I adage like a spatially-challenged stork with some kind of substance-use disorder. I still get through it, but it’s … um.

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Also basically me. Also via Pexels.

So basically I made it through the adage at a more-or-less acceptable level while lamenting Thursday’s effortless extensions and wondering why my legs continued to experience enhanced gravity, whether last night’s sleeping pill would ever wear off, and exactly how much postnasal drainage could actually dump itself down my throat before something horrible happened (the answer: a lot, apparently, as nothing particularly horrible happened during the remainder of class, regardless of the constant stream of sinus goop working its way down the back of my throat).

Going across the floor, things finally began to improve. First off, the talking-to L’Ancien gave all of us about using our weight and our plié shook free of the cobwebs (I think it probably happened while we were doing 6th port de bras in the adage) and rolled into play, and some very, very nice turns resulted (though there was that one triple with way too much force … sometimes I get excited about turns and forget that you don’t need to use all the grand allegro booster rockets).

Second off, I realized that we were all struggling along together.

To whit: uur first turns combination was exceedingly simple—tombé-pas de bourrée to 4th-en dehors-repeat-repeat-rotation-en dedans, then straight into the second side—and did exactly what we all expected it to do so nobody had to think.

Our waltz, on the other hand, was simple but remixed familiar elements in a new way.

We’re all good friends with balancé-balancé-waltz turn-waltz turn-tombé-pas de bourrée and then whatever.

This time, JMH gave us:

balancé-balancé-waltz turn-waltz turnCHAÎNÉ-CHAÎNÉ-CHAÎNÉ (petit developpé)-tombé pas de bourrée to fourth-en dehors-tombé back-en dedans (dancer’s choice: I did attitude turn en dedans because it’s in our Showcase piece; finished to arabesque allongé).

We all had to mentally yell at ourselves to keep from going balancé-balancé-waltz turn-waltz turn-tombé-pas de bourrée… I suspect that must’ve been pretty funny to watch. There was much visible gnashing of teeth, though we mostly kept the wailing on the inside.

Still, the waltz overall managed, amidst great struggle, to somehow turn out quite nicely. Against all odds, the repeat was rather lovely.

By the time we got to little jumps, my brain was beginning to light up, and the major mistake I kept making was adding extra jumps—in one combination, I kept adding extra changements when the prescribed step was a simple sussous balance. WTF.

I actually yelled at myself about this out loud at one point. Specifically, I said, “Why am I punishing myself?!” as I failed, yet again, to prevent myself from putting in extra changements. Jeez. On the other hand, they were quite decent jumps, so there’s that.

Moreover, my petit assemblé has stopped being a disaster area (my legs actually assemble in the air like they’re supposed to, you guys!), and I finally seem to have programmed that weird coupé-coupé weight shift into my brain somewhere along the way. We finished with jeté-temps levée-coupé coupé-brush jeté, and it was just … there. Like magic.

Huh.

Anyway, today’s Theater Week Prep Day, during which I will Make All The Food and Clean All The Catbox and Wash All The Dishes and Finish The Stray Laundries and basically prepare for the fact that for the next six days I am unlikely to accomplish anything other than dancing.

The primary goal, really, is to make enough food in advance that I won’t have to really cook until a week from today: instead, I’ll just be able to throw things in to reheat as needed. Obviously, things like scooping the catbox that can be done quickly will still happen. Just not a lot of cooking, because I am unlikely to feel like cooking, but extremely likely to feel like eating, when I get home after rehearsals.

So that’s it for now. My legs feel like blocks of lead, and I plan to soak them in epsom salt solution for as long as my conscience permits later on. If the cat ever deigns to return the use of my left arm to me, anyway.

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Halp, I’m trapped. Please send snacks.

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