From the Russia-based Big Ballet Company.
Can fat people dance ballet? Yes.
From the Russia-based Big Ballet Company.
Can fat people dance ballet? Yes.
Opening Oct. 1–Mao’s Last Dancer, the true story of Li Cunxin, a Chinese ballet dancer who defected to the U.S. in the 1980s. I think the Houston Ballet is where it all goes down.
Looks like it has great potential to be a cheesefest, as is the case with most ballet movies, but the really really ridiculously good-looking Chi Chao (Birmingham Royal Ballet) is in it. Also, Bruce Greenwood– of Captain Pike fame–for the older ladies.
Color me excited.
Chan Hon Goh, or 吴振红, was one of the first Asian-descent ballerinas that I came across in my first, sheepish days of exploring ballet. Continue reading
Alex Wong first caught my eye when I was watching So You Think You Can Dance last year. His audition video was a shocker:
The SYTYCD audition piece was his Prix de Lausanne free variation, called Capture of the Tiger:
Wong is a Canadian dancer, the first ever to win the Prix de Lausanne in 2004. He joined ABT after his win, but eventually ended up with the Miami City Ballet. I believe he’s a principal soloist at this point in time. (After a rather awful and weird ejection from the SYTYCD competition as MCB refused to let him out of his contract)
It’s jarring to love an art form–dance, movies, novels, whatever–and then realize that you don’t see yourself in it. When I first became interested in ballet, that was exactly how I felt: I was astonished by how beautiful it was, how much it could say, and was surprised by how much I loved it, instantly. Then I wondered where all the dancers who looked like me were. There is a natural comfort, I think, that comes from knowing who you know you are and seeing a dancer or artist who looks like you–or who comes from the same ethnic or racial background as you. It is a way of knowing that this too is within your reach, even if the connection is purely aesthetic, and has no real connection to what you yourself could physically accomplish. It’s about possibility.
If you’re about to jump (sauté!) into adult ballet classes for the first time, you’ll want to go in well equipped. Being that not everyone has the same level of commitment when beginning classes, I’ve organized gear recommendations into categories depending on how firm your interest is, so that you won’t be wasting money should you decide that ballet is not your cuppa. Continue reading
Had been planning to go to Lines’ Dance Center’s all-you-can-dance ($5 for 4 1/2 hours!) with Lisa for a few weeks now. Sunday was the big day. Unfortunately, Saturday, I made the poor decision to down a 6 oz. serving of chai at about 4PM (I am extremely caffeine-sensitive), which resulted in me staying up for pretty much the ENTIRE NIGHT. I mentioned it to her as we were headed to Lines on Sunday that I had stayed up all night–oh, was it a hot date? No, I didn’t have a hot date. But my intestines had a hot date with my toilet.
So, on two hours of sleep, I barted over to SF with Lisa and stepped into class.
After class we had a fabulously starchy dinner at a Chinese restaurant–three different kinds of noodles! Mine had roasted duck skin in it! Decadent and wholly satisfactory. I was flexing my legs under the table and thinking, gee, if I’m sore now, I’m going to be hurting tomorrow.
Today I feel like I have been run over by a garbage truck. Everything hurts. Still, I went to ballet this morning and am planning to go to class Tuesday and Thursday as well. I can’t even imagine how professional dancers do it…they do more than twice the hours we did, at a much much higher level. That, my friends, is why a few of my ballet teachers are still dancing and teaching class in their 80s.
Getting back to my series of posts on adult ballet…hooray!
In a spurt of it’sgottocomeoffrightnowRIGHTNOW, I went to the local cheap salon last Sunday and got 6-7 inches chopped off of my head, and had bangs added. What I forgot to consider is that now I am consigned to attending ballet class with a mullet, thanks to the layers on the back of my head. I also have about 5-6 small hair clips gathered around the front of my head, in a futile effort to keep the bangs in place. There are little tufts of hair sticking out all over the place.
A few years back, when I was also dealing with a relatively short ‘do, my ballet teacher told me: there is a little curl on the back of your head. By the amount it bounces around at barre, I’ll be able to tell whether you are actually holding your upper body correctly or not. The moral of the story is that short hair/layered hair/bangs don’t make for the best ballet ‘do.
I’ve never danced so much in my life. I’m taking a 3-hour intermediate-advanced class Monday through Thursday, which means I’m in class 12 hours a week; on top of that, I’m trying finish off a few class tickets at my old studio before they expire. So this week, this meant that I was in class for a grand total of 16.5 hours. Basically, my life is just my academic work, and dancing. I know this is nowhere near what professional dancers do, but it’s been a definite challenge for me, since I usually average around 4 or 5 hours of class a week.
I get up in the morning, go to ballet class, come home, make lunch, eat, work on my project, then it’s back to class in the afternoon. Come home again, eat dinner, then reading and writing till bedtime.
The results are good, for the most part: a better sense of my center, and I am picking up combinations faster than I ever have. Even unfamiliar steps (sissone doublé, anyone?) are easier to master. I’ve also almost ripped off a toenail, and have been sore in the ol’ gluteus maximus, hamstrings, calves, quads since Tuesday. It was a relief to hear an older dancer tell me that she thought I had danced as a child–a great compliment to someone who started as an adult.
Oddly, I’ve gained a pound this week, despite the dancing, even though I’ve kept my diet steady. It’s unclear to me how this happened.
Going well: small jumps and beats. A fun combination: entrechat trois, entrechat trois, entrechat cinq, pas de bourree, assemble battu, royale. Grand jete entrelace & fouettes. Saut de basque. Flexibility is increasing. About two inches from getting fully into front and back splits.
Needs work: turnout, as always. Pique en dehors (lame duck turns). Sissone double with developpe. Pivote. Spotting with turns in a circle. Fast turning combinations, like: pique turn, pique turn, saut de basque, soutenu turn. I need to work on going faster without losing the spot.
And to remind myself that what I do is not bad at all, a day in the life of the lovely (Asian!) Royal Ballet dancer, Yuhui Choi (linked to from the balletbag’s twitter account):
Time for class!
When I began ballet, I found it useful and encouraging to know something about what I was getting into.
A few books and sites I found useful:
1. ABT ballet dictionary: a wonderful online dictionary of ballet terms and steps. The first and most daunting thing about ballet is probably the language; it’s in French, and most teachers will use the French terms as opposed to describing the motion (i.e. 4 pliés instead of “bend your knees four times”). Click on a term or step in this dictionary and there are images and videos to make the term clear.
2. Ballet talk for adult ballet students: a great community here for all different levels of ballet students. I used to read this board frequently (never did any posts, though). If you have a burning question about what’s going on in class, this is a great place to ask it. There is also some excellent information in the archives; and a great sticky on adult summer intensives, if you’re so inclined!
3. Joffrey Ballet’s Ballet Fit: a guide geared specifically towards adult ballet students. Cheap, straightforward, with lots of good general advice. There are also some exercises and descriptions of the overal arc of a ballet class, which is useful. Not a substitute for a real class, of course! There is a section on pointe in the back for the especially ambitious. Of all the books I read when starting out, this one was the best in terms of practical application.
4. The Ballet Companion: not specifically created for adult students, but a beautifully illustrated guide with descriptions of positions and ballet history. Also discusses non-ballet dance, such as jazz and modern. An elegant book.
5. Classical Ballet Technique (Recommended by puddle): I don’t own this book, but it looks to be an excellent resource for positions and steps. Over 2600 photographs, featuring dancers from ABT and the Joffrey.
Have more? Put them in the comments and I’ll add them!