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Week 5ish Wrap-Up: Be Confident, Atreyu!

I’m not sure that break weeks count as weeks in the company calendar, but I’m counting them anyway.

This week was a step forward. I began figuring out how to adapt to the fact that I have inadvertently assigned myself to a barre that’s significantly too short for me (and for my counterpart, who’s about my height) so it doesn’t screw up my entire day. I remembered how to use my turnout muscles. I realized that I’ve been letting my standing leg be lazy … or, well, not so much lazy as shy.

For whatever reason, I’d been having a gigantic crisis is confidence in myself as a dancer (partly because I had a rough several days distributed between weeks 2 and 3). I also realized that my innate shyness was probably coming off as standoffish. As such, I decided to take it upon myself to actually, like, talk to people this past week, and to apply every performing artist’s favorite maxim:

Fake it ’til you make it.

Basically, I decided that I’d pretend to be confident in hopes that it would actually work.

Lo and behold, it did. What a shock (yes, I’m being sarcastic).

When you’re not confident, the natural tendency is to kind of shrink into your body. Not only does that look ridiculous on someone with my build, but it makes ballet about a thousand times harder. You can’t do a good piqué turn on a tentative leg, let alone the triple-turn-on-demand that our AD routinely requests in class. You can’t do a double tour if you don’t commit.

The funny thing is that when you start acting with confidence, you dance better, and that makes you more confident.

On Friday I actually got a positive shout-out from another dancer in class while we were doing turns … and, amazingly, I did not then proceed to hose up the rest of the combination.

I did eff up the left side, but not unexpectedly. I’m having an intermittent issue doing things when the right leg is in the standing role due, I suspect, to way the heck too much driving. I’ve figured out how to work on that, though (pop the pelvis back together as needed, then do the piriformis stretch and all the hip flexor stretches as frequently as possibly).

Anyway, we started in on Nutcracker this week, and I’m learning my rôle and enjoying it. We’re two weeks out from our next show, I have a Cirque show the week after that, and then we’ll be in the teeth of the Nutcracker before we know it.

That said, I also have an audition this morning, so I must close here and get my butt in gear. I have some thoughts on technique that I’ll try to write up soon.

Danseur Ignoble: Back on the Bus

There’s something deeply satisfying about the long, golden light of an October morning at this latitude.

I live in Kentucky now, but I’m a Yankee by birth and long heritage (one of my maternal great aunts has been known to make noises about “those Mayflower upstarts;” her side of the family — Québécois, Métis, and Iroquois with deep pre-Mayflower roots in this continent — still only half-jokingly regards the English as a bunch of arrivistes). New England suffuses my blood; informs my bones — and here, now, briefly, this glorious light reminds me of home.

The memory of bones runs long and deep.

It’s good, also, to be back in the rhythm of my normal routine, heading to Monday class.  It’s good to be wearing one of those ridiculous outfits in which we arrive at class on cool mornings; good to be stuffing apples in my face as quickly as possible between busses.

Curiously, even though part of me has been bathing itself in chagrin, selectively recalling all the worst parts of my audition (seriously, sometimes my brain is like an obnoxious roommate who won’t turn off the TV), another part of me feels significantly more confident as a dancer simply because I got up there yesterday and tried (okay, the one really precise and gorgeous turn that Denis caught on video doesn’t hurt, either).

I suppose in part it’s a function of suddenly having this very concrete goal — I am making a dance, and I know it will be a good one once I nail down the choreography.  It will force me to home my technique to a degree that probably should seem daunting, but doesn’t.

And even if it isn’t selected for this performance, I will keep working on it, finish it, and bring it somewhere; do something with it.

Anyway, I’m almost to class, so that’s it for now.

More later.

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