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.
I moved back to my old home country on Sunday, and I had spent many hours before leaving Hong Kong finding potential ballet classes for myself back in lil old town. I had found none in the village where I will spend a few more weeks, one in the little town close to it, and some in “little big city”.
Yesterday, I tried one lesson in town. It was a “Advanced II-III” class, and the teacher had told me on the phone that I could come and try it. It was great to finally wear my ballet slippers and tights again, but I tell you, I was totally embarrassed. It started at the barre where I got into a very bad spot and couldn’t watch the other girls doing the exercises, and the teacher only showed them marginally. And thus it continued… I don’t want to go into too much detail, but I felt during 80 out of 90 minutes that I would love to just sink into the floor – open the ground and let me in, please.
It also felt pretty frustrating, because I didn’t even succeed to do a row of pique turns, which I normally can do. So it felt like I had forgotten everything I had ever learned, and being more awkward and shy than ever. Now, you see, there are people who would just be brave and strong and say that it was the totally wrong fit of class and dancer, and take it as a good lesson. I am trying to do this, but I am also thinking that I suck, that I made the teacher angry, and that I waisted everyone else’s time, and I see myself as a burden. Too much of that negative thinking, although some of it is probably correct. But how much time do you spend thinking about someone who once was in the same class with you- one single time?
I missed my classes in Hong Kong more than ever yesterday night, and driving back home on the train crying, I felt like going back there immediately. The reverse culture shock and catastrophal ballet class totally got to me: tiny little towns, people speaking their dialects, shops closed at 7 pm, rainy weather, the same old people who are so happy with their tiny little lives spent in the same village for 40 years, and this whole sense of wealth and superiority.
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.
So, here I am, doing everything to save three nights of each and every single week for ballet: Monday, Wednesday, Friday. The perfect combination, with one day of rest in between, and the perfect variety of classes: Intermediate – basic beginner – intermediate.
Last week, I didn’t attend a single class.
On Monday, on my drive to work in the morning, my stomach was telling me that it didn’t really feel comfortable, and in the course of the day, pain in my shoulders and exhaustion added on top of it, so I decided to go home and take an early rest. Less one ballet class. And hard feelings on Tuesday that I should have just forced myself into going and would have felt better after it.
On Wednesday, I had to stay back at work on very short notice. I normally finish at six, while the gallery stays open until seven, and whenever someone needs to leave early, I am the one extending my hours. I made it clear that I would leave at 6:30 to be on time for my ballet class. But, then, between six and 6:50, there was someone lingering in the gallery all the time. Normally, no one comes around that time, but Wednesday, no one wanted to leave. So when I was finally able to close down the gallery without having to throw someone out, it was too late to even bother to go to class. With the MTR ride, the walk, the changing, I would have arrived no earlier than center work. Once more: hard feelings on the day after, but this time towards my colleagues. And some cursing my sense of duty.
Friday, last chance to ballet this week: I feel fine, am looking forward, I even tell friends I will meet them after class and they will have to wait for me. Then, after lunch, a sudden outbreak of nausea and the feeling feverish. Although I took two cold pills immediately, by six my stomach is still really upset and I don’t feel like I should be dancing. So, I go home and to bed, and I couldn’t sleep the whole night.
Summary: No ballet for a whole week. I feel fat, I feel weak, I feel clumsy, and stressed. Ballet not only makes me feel better about myself in my body, but also with my soul. It relaxes me.
I was happy on Saturday. I went to see the contemporary program by the Ballet de l’Opera Nationale de Bordeaux, 4 Tendances, and in my layman’s eyes, it turned out to be much better than the classical one. I still spotted some mistakes, but then, I guess you always do, and I was fascinated by the depth and emotionality conveyed in the dances.
My favourite piece was the last one, Petite Mort, a choreography by Jiri Kylian. I loved the music, the costumes, and the choreography. Everything fit together wonderfully in my eyes.
Here is a video on youtube by another company, the Netherlands Dance Theatre.
I went to see “In the Steps of Petipa” yesterday, and had much anticipated this opportunity of seeing ballet. Now, dear readers, be patient and forgiving with me, as this is going to be my first ballet review.
First of all, I need to stress that my ballet education, both by watching and by dancing myself, started less than a year ago, so this is far from being an expert review – it is just my amateurish two cents.
They started the evening with excerpts from Paquita, then Don Quichotte, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, and finally, Raymonda. In my memory stay the Don Quichotte and Raymonda. The rest of it kind of blurred in my memory, so I won’t be able to go into much detail.
I was slightly disappointed with the dancers after a few minutes. There was a row of dancers doing developpes in front, and their extensions were different by, I’d say, 70 centimeters or so. While one of the girls only lifted her leg up to her knee, most of the other ones lifted them up to their shoulders, so the impression I got was not one of equality and harmony, but more of chaos and disorder.
It continued like this: Dancers were out of line, out of tune with the music. Some of them were out of balance when doing an arabesque, and not even on demi-pointe, but on the whole foot. The jumps of the male dancers were low, and well, somehow nothing fit really perfectly, all seemed to be a kind of patchwork.
It seems very harsh to say this, especially as I don’t have a lot of experience with this, but yes, I guess this is what it felt like. I was impressed by the Don Quichotte part and by the technical abilities of the ballerina doing the Swan Lake pas de deux. And I thoroughly enjoyed the evening none the less. Such a good opportunity to see and watch and learn. I am looking forward to seeing their modern program “Tendances” tomorrow.
If you want to know more, read the post of fellow blogger Cynthia.