ballet goooooooaaaaaals! … the master list
I figured I should maybe put together a page for my running list-o-goals (in addition to writing posts about them), so here it is.
2020-2021 Ballet Goals???
Or, “How have I COMPLETELY FAILED to update my ballet goals masterlist since 2017????!!!!!!!!11oneoneonebbq”
I’m sure I had ballet goals for 2018-2019 and 2019-2020, and I probably (???) even wrote about them (although I have been spottier about actually writing posts since the advent of Ye Olde Company Life). Apparently, however, I utterly failed to add them to this list.
Like, WTF, Past Me?
First, a progress review of my 2017 goals, the last set posted in this list:
- Petit Allegro:
I have improved my PA: considerably, in fact.
That said, in this Art of Moving Goalposts, PA may be the single most mobile.
My PA is quicker, faster, and cleaner. It’s not as quick, fast, and clean as I’d like it to be, though. Will it ever be? Who can say?
Since all of my recent summers have now blurred into one kind of ur-summer, I’m not 100% sure if I actually succeeded in meeting my 2017 SI goal.
I made it to Pilobolus’ and LexBallet’s SI, and that might??? have been the year I decided to do both part of Mam-Luft’s SI and a masterclass with BW in Louisville during the same week (which was, in retrospect, madness incarnate, but it was worth it nonetheless). I didn’t make it to the other adult SI that I’d heard of, but that’s fine.
- Steps & Stuff:
Ah, Ye Olde Concrete Goals Of Yore. I’ve got most of these from 2017 to a greater or lesser extent.
My double tour comes and goes, but over time it’s grown more reliable as I’ve improved my technique overall. Hilariously, it still works best when I’m furiously angry, whether at myself or someone else.
Tombé-coupé-jeté is now in my wheelhouse, though it could look better than it does if I would devote more time to polishing it.
Brisée is a reliable part of my dance vocabulary, and brisée-volé is coming along: I can do it once rather nicely these days, so now I need to work on polishing the repeated brisée-volé that shows up in so, so many variations.
Entrechats sixes I can do in my sleep. I sometimes automatically do them instead of enrechats quatres, which is a different problem entirely, since one (six) changes feet and the other (quatre) doesn’t.
Temps de cuisse made sense to me the very moment I realized that it’s simply a compound of coupé-changé and petit Sisson (no change). It was the no change part that screwed me up in the past: I would inevitably coupé over, then do a petit Sisson changé, and find myself on the wrong foot -.- Anyway, I’ve got that sorted.
Triple and “quarduple” turns also come and go, since I completely dismantled my turning technique and rebuilt it from the ground up starting in 2018.
My turns in 2nd are … erm. Well. Sometimes they work; sometimes they don’t. I think I made them harder for myself last year by screwing up my pelvic placement, so here’s hoping that they’ll improve over the coming season.
My balances are HELLA better than they were in 2017, though.
- Barre Problems:
Yeah, these are basically solved.
Occasionally, my fear of turns at the barre resurfaces from nowhere, but I’m actually decent at them these days, though I often use too much force.
- Specifically for BW:
It’s interesting to revisit these points, especially since it makes me nostalgic for the days of classes with BW, who is now firmly established in Nashville.
I have, over the course of the past few years, absorbed the directional language of classical ballet without really thinking about it, which is the best way to learn any language, really.
My chaînés are reliably serviceable and sometimes even very nice, my sus-sous is habitually tight (though, like everyone’s, it can get lazy when I’m tired).
My turnout is hella stronger than it used to be (even after a whole season [2019-2020] of overcorrecting and dancing with my pelvis tucked, like an idiot).
My passé, when I’m not exhausted, is high and level and square and generally quite lovely.
BW remains one of my strongest influences as a dancer, and he’s still one of the people that steps in when I’m feeling hopeless about my ability and reminds me that I’m not the worst dancer who ever lived and that I’ve earned my place in the realm of professional ballet.
- Variations, Choreography, and Bonus Goals:
All of these have been, in one way or another, reshaped by company life. My daily life as a company dancer involves learning variations (and variations of variations), pas de deux, and other dances. I’ve still never set Work Song, but as a choreographer I’ve created and co-created a growing roster of professional pieces.
I think I’m proudest of the Pride piece I co-created with my friend JS, my pas de deux to “Making Love On The Mountain” (December 2019, set on my friends Dot and James), and, interestingly, of a contemporary piece I created at an SI for a group of students ranging in age from 9 to 14.
I no longer feel like some kind of ersatz choreographer. If anything, creating choreography is the place in my work where I feel the most at ease.
So, anyway, after reviewing Ye Olde Goals, I feel like I’ve progressed reasonably since 2017 (which is, really, the entire reason I make goals: so I can direct and measure the progress of my development as a dancer).
I’m not sure what 2018’s goals were, but 2019’s goal was basically, “Develop your artistry.” That’s a much less concrete goal, and thus much harder to measure objectively: it’s not like being able to point to a specific step and say, “Yeah, I can do that,” or “Nope, I can’t do that yet.”
Where artistry is concerned, I must rely much more heavily on feedback from my AD, choreographers, audiences, and my fellow dancers, though I’ve found that video is an immensely valuable tool for me where artistry is concerned. Anyway, I’m definitely growing in that dimension.
So what even are my goals for 2020-2021?
Hmmm. How about:
Just be a better partner over all. Be stronger, improve technique, and be reliable in a way that makes my partners feel secure.
Continue to develop as an artist in my medium, which is to say … hm. In the realm of ballet, I fit physically and in terms of my natural movement style into the traditionally masculine framework. I intend, this year, to learn to live into that framework with a greater confidence: to take to heart the correction L’Ancien has given me time and again: “You are a prince. Be a prince.”
- Technical Minutiae
The better you get at ballet, the more you realize you still have to learn (I mean, that’s true of basically everything, but it seems really, really deeply true of ballet).
And as artistry in ballet depends upon a the foundation of clean technique (you have to be able to work within the rules before you can break them without coming off as if you just don’t know what you’re doing), one’s first responsibility as a ballet dancer is always and forever to improve one’s technique.
As such, my technical goals at this point in my career aren’t explicit steps, but the foundational framework that lets those steps shine:
2017 Ballet Goals
- Improve Petit Allegro: speed as well as precision. Right now, I can reliably manage one or the other, but not both 😦 When I get both, though, it’s like magic.
- Mam-Luft & Co, June?
- Pilobolus, July
- Aerial A and I are going together. This should be a heck of a lot of fun.
- Lexington Ballet, July
- Sun King, if I somehow win the lottery
- There might be another one—C from Advanced ballet mentioned that she’d heard about one from some other ballet peeps, but didn’t have the details.
Steps & Stuff
- Double tours (Tarasov, 409)*
- Double cabrioles avant and arrière*
- Closer than I thought, guys!
- Perfect tombé-coupé-jeté.***
- That’s “perfect” the verb, not the adjective. I can work on perfecting it; something actually being perfect in ballet is pretty much impossible.
- Reliable triple turns**
- Unreliable quarduples (or quadruples, ffs)**,***
- Reliable turns à la seconde (Tarasov, 324)*
- Entrechats six et plus (Tarasov, 267)**
- Reliable Brisé et Brisé volé**
- It’s ridiculous that I forget how to do these, then un-forget, then re-forget.
- Balances**. All of them.
- Everyone’s balances can always be better.
- Temp de
- Stop turning it into a funky Sissone!
- Sissones**. Review them. ALL OF THEM.
*Essential men’s technique.
**Essential errrrbody’s technique.
***Also, obvs I know how to spell this, but the typo struck me as hilarious, so I’m leaving it.
Barre Problems I Need To Solve
- The infuriating problem of being good at circular/grand port de bras without the barre and less good with.
- My turns-at-the-
kneewhacker-barre phobia. Seriously. WTF. This needs to go.
- Get better at managing when the barre is too low, because it almost always is, even though I’m only 5’8″.
Specifically for BW:
- Directional stuff (croisé, effacé, etc)+.
- Strengthen them turnouts++.
- Use that crazy-high passé/retiré without having to think about it++.
- Sus-sous+++: get it to a point at which BW never has to say, “Get it tighter!” even when I’m super tired. NO MORE LAZY SUS-SOUS!
- Effing devil turns. Chainês. Polish these turds up until they shine, ffs++++.
+This is for BW because BW is the person who made me understand it in the first place. I totally failed to really learn this as a kid. I just kinda faked my way through.
++These are basics, obvs, but they’re sort of advanced-mode basics. BW knows I have the capacity for 180-degree turnout and a really high passe and expects me to use them.
+++BW has giant thighs and knees just like I do, so those don’t fly as an excuse with him. Besides, life is easier when your sus-sous is nice and tight. Which just sounds … kinda inappropriate, really.
++++Honestly, I really hate chainês, but I hate them because I’m far worse at them than I should be. When I do them, BW just looks … I dunno, dejected. Especially since they usually follow piqué turns, which I do LIKE A BOSS.
- Revisit Albrecht’s variation (Giselle, Act 2). Work out the kinks.
- No flappy hands, frealz.
- Connect all the steps.
- Revisit the first-act Peasant Pas from Giselle.
- See above. No flappy hands, connect the steps better.
- Also, no half-assing the balances.
- They’re important.
- You rocked them in rehearsal.
- Learn at least 2 more solo or duo variations.
- Probably not Le Corsaire, but I would’ve said that about Albrecht’s before I learned it.
- Possibly Prince Florimund, Act II, from The Sleeping Beauty?
- Maybe one of the ones from Apollo???
- Learn at least one pas de deux.
- This really depends on scheduling. Obviously, I can schedule myself, but I need a partner for pas de deux who dances at a similar level (or, ideally, better than I do :P). BB is a good fit, but her schedule is, shall we say, challenging. C might be a good fit, too, if she has time (and she makes me look tall :P).
- “Work Song:” Set & perform. This hits the stage in
MarchApril! (Except it’s not “Work Song” anymore; it’s “Fade to White,” set to Anthony & The Johnsons’ cover of “Knocking on Heaven’s Door”)
- Simon Crane: Finish at least Act I. Possibly look into setting and staging a few pieces.
- Peace: finish it, set it, and perform it.
- Maybe revoltade? I’m not making this a primary goal because I think my goals for the year are already front-loaded with grand allegro pyrotechnics. Those play to my strengths, and I need to focus more on things that aren’t my strengths.On the other hand, if I manage to knock out my other goals quickly enough, I’ll add it to the list. It’s a skill any male dancer does well to have in his bag of tricks.
2016 Ballet Goals
- Reliable double turns
- Suck less at port de bras
- Hella check!
- I realize now that this is a really, really vague, but still. The nice part about being actually terrible at something is that you can improve really fast if you put in the work.
- Suck less at petit allegro.
- Kinda check?
- This one was too vague as well. I am less bad at petit allegro than I used to be, but it is not my forté. Not at all. Got beats, though, and at least least it’s usually just bad petit allegro these days and not the desperate flailings of a a baby giraffe on rollerskates.
- Barrel turns
- Check, surprisingly enough.
- See “barrel turns.”
- Saut de basque
- Check! Check! Triple Check!
- Like a boss, mofos. I have one heck of a nice saut de basque.
- Check! Check! Triple Check!
- Pas de Chat Italien
- I didn’t know this was a goal until someone asked me if I could do it. Then it was a goal for the 5 minutes it took me to remember how.
- I don’t know why it’s so hard to “get,” but once you really have it, you want to put it in everything. It’s like saffron or fleur du sel.
- Summer Intensive: attend at least one!
Eventually I suppose I should make a list of the skills that I’ve legitimately nailed down. Then, when I have one of those days on which I’m like:
I AM THE WORST DANCER I SHOULD NEVER BE ALLOWED TO DANCE
…I’ll be able to take a look at it and be like, “Yeah, actually…? That might not really be true.”