Weekend Workshop

I attended an intense ballet workshop last Saturday and Sunday. It is Wednesday now, and I can still feel my muscles – especially the inner and outer thighs and my shoulder and back muscles. This is good, I like it!

This was a workshop with a teacher I had never learned from. And it was just great! Do you know this impression that every teacher focuses on the same things and on different ones at the same time?

With the almost ten ballet teachers that I attended classes of, I have learned something new from each and every single one of them. Now this one told me how to hold my arms correctly, and how to move the shoulder blades so that the movement comes actually from the upper back. I am pretty sure I had heard this before, but he found a way to finally make it crystal clear to me what the correct posture is. And believe me, I do feel the newness of the sensation in every part of my back and arms.

And this led my thoughts to the following point: Sometimes, my body is just so slow. My mind does know what to do in the combination tombé, pas de bourré, chassé, pas de chat. I know each of these steps, I can explain how to do them in words, but when I actually have to dance them in the diagonal, something might just as well go wrong as I might get it right.  My body just doesn’t get what it has to do. Of course, I have been told about this by teachers, about the “body memory” that makes practice so important, and I know that everyone has this feeling or knows this phenomemon. It’s just that sometimes I get this feeling that my body works sooo much slower than my mind that I get frustrated. And I don’t know what to do about it, except for more practice. Are there mental trainings that can help?

 

Hmm, I guess I will do some research on the world wide web….

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Finding Home in a New City

One of the reasons why I haven’t been writing on the blog for a while was that I had to find a new job, which is a frustrating and tiresome experience. I was writing and sending out resumes and motivation letters to every one who wasn’t interested in reading them and then traveling to a few rare opportunities of meeting with a potential hirer until I finally found a job in – once again – a new country and a new city. This took a lot of my time, and sometimes of my mood, I tell you.

 

Then, something totally unthinkable in the Asian part of the world, ballet schools close over summer for a few weeks because every one is on holidays. Some of them do have a summer program, but limited options of taking class, so I ended up not taking classes for around four weeks now.

 

But, as of today, I am officially back to being a ballerina and a gallerina again. My first class of ballet in the new city is taking part tonight, and I started my new gallerina job a few days ago. The job started very well, and I am so much looking forward to taking baby steps towards ballet again. I am sure it is going to be difficult today, after such a long break, but I am keen on giving my very best.
And I am sure this is going to be the best way to make me feel at home in this new town of mine.

John Neumeier’s “The Little Mermaid”

Spent a sick weekend in bed and in front of the TV. I hate it when the weather is responsible for my feeling unwell, but it really seems this is happening here in Hong Kong more than everywhere else. I don’t deal well with the heat and humidity here.

So, I had bought like 12 DVDs of classical and modern ballet pieces a few weeks ago, and then finally watched “The Little Mermaid” in a performance by The San Francisco Ballet. Tan Yuan Yuan, named THE Chinese ballerina here in Hong Kong, played the mermaid.

I had loved the book when my mother read it to me as a child, and in the version we had of Andersen’s fairy tales, there were some pretty dark illustrations, so I always thought the story a little scary, too. A few year later, I love Arielle, of course, which was the Disney-ized version of the story, and I still sometimes sing the songs.

In February, I had seen John Neumeier’s “A Streetcar Named Desire”, and had loved it a lot. The flexed foots, the beautiful costumes in pastel colors, the original and powerful choreography, the elements of boxing and theater, the stage setting, …

These were three imageries were what I had in mind before I watched the ballet.

Now, in short: I loved The Little Mermaid.

It started with the beautiful entree, the excellent stage design, incredibly beautiful dancers and choreography, and an amazingly strong and wild Tan Yuan Yuan. I read a blog entry here, and could not describe it better. I regret I only saw it on DVD, and I can’t wait to see it live – somewhere, somewhen.

Fun night at the ballet

Now, I hadn’t mentioned the upcoming attendance of this performance yesterday, because, to be very frank, I hadn’t thought about this as a ballet – more of a fun performance. But I was impressed and proven sooooo wrong… I guess sometimes it would be worth to read up beforehand.

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo

These 14 men were dancing en pointe, every single one of them! When the first one went en pointe, I was just sitting there with an open mouth. They were dancing en pointe for almost two hours, with jumps and turns and everything, and I am sure that all the comic scenes make it even harder to dance.

I don’t think that it is funny already just to see a man dressed up in a tutu and wearing make-up like a woman, and some of the funny gestures were maybe repeated a little bit too often for my taste, but all in all, I was impressed by their technique and skills, and by how they easily succeeded in getting the audience all hot for them.

And I guess I have an additional word for my blog now: mallerina.

Hardly the Best of Self

Dear Readers (if there are any),

Do you also sometimes feel like a word that consists of four letter and that I don’t want to spell out here? Today certainly is one of these days. Some people would say they had gotten out of bed on the wrong leg, but I feel like I have gotten into life on the wrong path from beginning. Now I have always been someone not easily accepting my fate and hesitating about my talents, decisions, and all. There is this nice word in German for that: “hadern”, which means not accepting, not being satisfied, challenging and defying. I’ve had better and worse phases of this, and recently, I have entered the worst ever. But don’t worry, this is not the place to talk about this.

Anyway, today is a rough day at work, and I have hardly been the best of myself for a few months now. This really shows in my work. I am used to being a very good worker, hardworking, motivated, enthusiastic, always on top of all my tasks, thinking ahead, and whatnot. Well, not right now. My boss tells me I have to do things better, for the first time ever in my career. I feel so bad about it, and I know he is right. Just, how? 

Dance Photography Day I: Arnold Genthe, Fe Alf

I will publish some of my favorite dance photographs in the next 24 days, not in any specific order. They are not organized by priority or by “most favorite” to “least favorite”, as all of them are special and unique, and it would be impossible for me to give them an exact ranking.

Arnold Genthe, Fe Alf, no date

This beautiful photograph of dance Fe Alf is in the Library of Congress (http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2002715285/). I couldn’t find a lot of information on the dancer, but isn’t she just beautiful? I love this image because the dancer is taking a very exceptional pose, with her arms behind her back, and her hands flexed away from the arms. She looks as if leaning on something invisible, while at the same time conveying her strength that she would never have to lean on a table or any other object with her well-trained body. Her feet, her dress, the rhythm between black and white, I like everything. And what interests me most is the fact that you can see the vertical boundaries of the panel she is standing in font of. There is ample space above her head, so Genthe could have gone a little closer in order to avoid seeing those lines. Why didn’t he do it? Did he want to leave room for the lighter part above her head? Did he want to show a larger stage?

I will show you more works by Arnold Genthe, and I will surely research more about his life and work, but in the meantime, you can read more about him here.

Dance Photography

There was an exhibition at the Royal Academy of Art in London last year’s fall called “Degas and the Ballet: Picturing Movement”. Unfortunately, I have not seen it, and I am still thinking about spending the money to buy the catalogue. I am sure it is a wonderful book, but I’m a little cash-strapped right now. Unfortunately, my birthday is in late year, and no other special days are coming up, so I will have to wait for a while.

This book is one of those who actually combine my two passions, ballet and the arts, but there is one thing that is an even more perfect fit to my passions is dance photography. Dancers have been photographed ever since the invention of photography, and the capture of the movement has always been an important topic in it.

In the next few days, I will try to collect some of my favorite dance photographies and explain why I like them: From an art historical as well as from my personal point of view. Maybe I will do it in the style of an Advent calendar-one every day for 24 days. Oh, what a nice project, I just found a lot of enthusiasm for it.