Yesterday, I crammed in two acceptable ballet classes and a fantastic acro workshop with a guy who’s here with Cirque du Soleil’s Corteo.
We expected partner acro, but it turned out to be basically floor exercise. As it turns out, a lot of my floor exercise repertoire is still very much intact. I got as far as back handsprings before I had to jet off to ballet. Aleks seemed pleasantly surprised (even impressed) with my technique and power, so I left his workshop floating on a cloud of happy.
I was, in fact, as happy as my cat in an empty bathtub. Also rather better at floor exercise.
Perhaps that’s why I spent today feeling pretty decent about myself. I’m occasionally floored by the capability of my body—simultaneously like, “Wow, cool!” and like, terribly grateful at my body will apparently do almost anything I ask of it.
Either way, during modern class I found myself staring into the mirror and kinda liking what I saw. I was wearing a racerback tank that makes me look as much like a gymnast as I do a dancer (and leaves acres of skin exposed to stick to the floor in modern class). For a few minutes what I saw was a broad-shouldered, graceful boy; strong and lean and vital; gleaming with a light sheen of healthy sweat. I saw an athlete; a rather magnificent animal, close-coupled and powerful. I saw, I suppose, what men sometimes see and admire in me. I was reminded of the time that I asked Denis what he saw in my calves, which he all but fetishizes though I have almost always disliked them, and he said one word: “Power.”
Last night, when I was feeling uncertain about doing round-off front handspring on our rather short mat, Aleks said to me, “You can do this. You have power.” It was exactly what I needed to hear: I gave the sequence more vertical punch and less horizontal travel, and there it was, just like when I was ten or thirteen or sixteen.
G-d alone knows what I’ll see when I’m staring down the barrel of the barre tomorrow morning. But it was refreshing to see what I saw tonight.
In related news, I evidently failed to inform my cirque company that I tumble, and they teased me (pleasantly) about that throughout the whole workshop. They were also impressed with how clean, graceful, and powerful my tumbling skills are. Needless to say I’ll likely be using those in upcoming cirque shows 😛
I continue to be terribly grateful that I can still do all this stuff.
Sometimes my body, like all bodies, is a giant jerk—but more often of late it seems like an old friend who’s just been waiting for me to drop by; one who has kept all my favorite games and can remember all the places I like to run and bike and walk. When I dust off a physical skill that I haven’t tried in years, it’s always with a sense of homecoming mingled with a sweet relief.
But looking at myself tonight was something else: the experience of having seen, bit by bit, a thing I somehow missed for many years, and then suddenly seeing it whole for just a moment.
Also, I’d rather forgotten how good it feels to launch yourself into a dead sprint, punch down into the center of the earth, and soar. (I mean, I that in ballet, too, but it’s in a different way.)
It’s good to have that back.
It turns out that I’m working tomorrow and the 16th. It’s handy to have useful performing skills that you can do and people will give you a money. On the other hand I could’ve had several more dates in this run if I’d spoken up quicker, which tells me that I need to be more confident.
I’m working on it. This is less actual Impostor Syndrome than simple Newest Person In The Company Syndrome. I’m still figuring out the company culture, and though my inclination is to step up for everything, I don’t want to be obnoxious about it.
Anyway, I”m beginning to get the impression that stepping up for everything is totally okay in this company. Sweet!
Anyway, on to ballet.
Tonight we had a new girl in BW’s class. She’s actually someone I know from JMH’s Sunday class—she was, fortunately, wearing ballet clothes when I saw her, so she actually looked familiar 😀
Tonight’s was a good class. Less hard than BW drives me when it’s just me, but a good chance to focus on refining things.
Lately I’ve been working really hard on keeping my chest open and forward, which makes a huge difference at center. I feel like it gets me out of my own way when it comes to balances, turns, and weight changes.
I’m also working on synchronizing my épaulement. The lesson the week before last, with its deep port-de-bras drills, has been occupying a great deal of space in my brain for the past couple of weeks.
I also seem to have finally got my chaînés back in working order, more or less. I do them in 5th rather than 1st (this is a handy trick if you have crazy-huge thighs and gigantic, hyperextended knees) and kept, for some reason, squeezing and braking like you do when you do a soutenu turn that has to finish in relevé.
I don’t even know what that was, all I know is that it’s super awkward when your chaînés grind to a halt in the middle of the combination and you have to do a sort of half-baked glissade so you don’t cause a traffic accident.
Anyway, it didn’t happen tonight, which is good, because ain’t nobody got time for that. And also because we had this lovely combination that went:
piqué 1st arabesque
piqué 3rd arabesque
piqué 1st arabesque
piqué 3rd arabesque
failli tombé (coupé the back leg)
chaînés (4 counts)
sweeping rond de jambe
posé arabesque à terre (effacé, arms in 5th opposing direction of the hips)
I really liked that one. It was one of those simple/tricky combinations: simple enough choreography, but the counts were interesting and the facings were very explicit—the chaînés had to be executed towards the back corner, etc.
I think we acquitted ourselves rather nicely, in the end.
We also did a fun combination for warm-up jumps—just your ordinary 8 in 1st, 8 in 2nd, 8 changements in 5th, 4 echappés (2 counts each), but we alternated. It created the immediate impression of a nice little choreographed piece, which is exactly what BW said when we finished: “That was like a little show!”
I think the fact that each of us tended to watch the-other while waiting added to that effect.
I’m finally feeling reasonably friendly with petit allegro again, though it still sometimes leaves me feeling like I need to drill another hole in my head for breathing … jeez. My congestion has been worse than usual of late. But, at any rate, I keep making myself smile during petit allegro exercises.
I am forced to admit that sometimes it’s actually fun. And now that I’ve told you, I’ll have to kill you. Nothing personal, just, you know.
Trade secrets and stuff.
A couple years back I noticed that my tuchas has developed an oddly triangular profile.
Recently, I noticed that it has once again returned to a triangular shape.
Today I realized that it’s a function of conditioning: as I progress from (relatively) out of shape to stage-fit, my butt progresses from “round” through “triangular” and finally to “square.”
Huh. You learn something new every day.
In other news, we left at the crack o’ dawn yesterday for Atlanta, checked into our hotel at 3 PM, established a CirqueLouis outpost, then proceeded to regroup with the crew before dinner and Cirque du Soleil’s Luzia.
And speaking of Luzia—you guys, it knocked my socks off.
Luzia is a beautiful show—funny and tender and full of love for a place and for the people k and cacti) who make that place shine, not to mention packed with the high-calibre circus performances that give Cirque du Soleil its stellar reputation.
B on the straps was, for me, the pinnacle—he’s beautiful and performs with ardor and pathos. I don’t really have language to describe his act. It was breathtaking.
We also got to roam around on the stage—which is fecking amazing, you guys; the technology!—and backstage, where the CduS cast trains and gets physical therapy and does everything else and where the giant amazing puppets live.
After we chatted with the cast about circus stuff (and other stuff) over drinks, which was awesome. I tried to do a lot of listening. You learn a lot that way.
There’s much to be said for a life in which a business trip means watching a phenomenal performance and talking shop with phenomenal performers, then conducting a 5-hour long mobile meeting—part post-mortem on their show, part post-mortem on ours, and part spitball session for the next show—on the drive home the next day.
Little by little I feel like I’m starting to understand circus as an art form of its own, discrete from ballet and modern dance and so forth. I really owe that Jordan, our AD, who has been in love with circus all his life, who has built his life around circus, and who is teaching me (the company’s resident ballet boy) to really love circus in its own right.
Depression-wise, I’m making it back now, I think. The edges are still raw, and I need to respect that and not push myself off a ledge by diving back into too much at once. This is going to mean very consciously taking rest days, especially as I reset and shift back to a different rest-day schedule.
We’re halfway through November, somehow: I have roughly six weeks til it’s time to start hitting auditions.
When I headed to Florida back in September, January seemed unimaginably far away. Now it’s right around the corner.
BG, Killer B, and BW are rebuilding me as a dancer. Jordan is refining me as a performer. I’m not yet back to the place in which I feel like, Yes, I should go audition for ballet things, but I’m at least in a place where auditioning for cirque things and ballet-adjacent things feels like it makes sense.
I want to say, “Let’s see where I am in six weeks,” but I kind of think that’s giving myself too much room to weasel out.
Anyway. That’s it for now. I’m exhausted and ready to turn my brain off for the night.
Acro-Balancing tonight. It was fun, although quite challenging at times.
I discovered that being all legs makes mounting more challenging, but balancing easier when you’re the flyer. It makes being the base kinda weird sometimes — thigh stands are okay, but short arms and long legs makes a steep mount in foot bird or candlestick.
Ballet also makes a lot of it easier — if you have a good arabesque, you know how to use the muscles in your back for the foot bird.
I also discovered that I can still do a tripod headstand forever and ever and do cool stuff with my legs during. I’ll have to see if I can get my handstands back. They are awesome for for stability and balance, and I think that would be handy (no pun intended, I swear) for partnering.