I’ll attitude your pirouette and raise you a venga!

15 Jun

Today marks the inaugural day of the Columbus Summer Dance Festival, TWO THOUSAND AND NINE.  And in the name of Billy Elliot, it is a RELIEF to be dancing again.  One week off and already my battus are not battu-ing.  Although it may just have been the fact that the petite allegro included a series of assemblé battu and brisé, which quite frankly is just unfair. It’s like asking someone to make 2 bacon cheeseburgers for every 8 regular cheeseburgers.  Meanwhile, thankfully it appears as though my leg muscle that I tweaked has healed, as it actually functions now instead of dying every time I try to lift it in second.  But what a glorious day for dance…beautiful weather that I can easily admire from my perch at the barre by the window.

The ballet teacher for the festival is Marden Ramos, who studied in Cuba and has this long and exhausting résumé, as all accomplished dancers do and should.  Anyway, the inside scoop on ballet in Cuba is that they’re very Russian about it, meaning a barrage of turns and jumps.  Although in Cuba, since it’s apparently 85 million degrees there they don’t need as much at the barre to warm-up.  He’s a pretty intense (not in a bad way…it’s not like he slapped our wrists with a ruler like a cranky Russian might do) and passionate teacher, and quite different from other teachers I’ve had before.  Don’t get me wrong, all the teachers I’ve previously had of course love their art too, but they express it differently and in class are still mindful of technique, maintaining proper placement, and carry themselves with an elegant demeanor (with the exception of Yen Fang, who despite her lovely leg line and posture, swears like a sailor.  An angry sailor).  It’s a nice change of pace though, to just keep moving and forget about the finer details.

I will say though, that like Russia, Cuba must be big on forcing turnout, since he totally came up to me while in a tendu using my left leg (my stupid leg), and wrenched it around until it was turned out more.  I remain uninjured, but it was an eyebrow-raising moment, for I am delicate and frail like a tree branch in the dead of winter.  Gangly too.  But maybe I should force the issue a microscopic bit, since I so often have the tendency in life to back down instead of taking something to the limit, so perhaps it’s time to dig deep and will those hips to shake off the years of a sedentary lifestyle and open sesame.

So you know how I once said every dancer should have their “go-to move,” something they do better than most, and with relative ease?  His is the pirouette en attitude en dedans.  It appeared in several combinations, and even when they didn’t he would demonstrate it (I’m not entirely sure what the connection was).  Clearly, it’s his favorite move.  And he was all “Venga! Venga!” (Spanish for something I’m sure), so his excitement for that particular move was rather amusing.  Actually he inserted quite a bit of Spanish throughout class, even though most of the students don’t speak it, but as someone well versed in the ways of pretending to know what’s going on when there are language barriers, I didn’t mind.  Without that skill, I’d seriously be lost in the middle of nowhere China (aka Guiyang) surviving on spicy chicken heads and fried bugs, or still crying in some train station in Tokyo with only the homeless to console me.

The point is, I want to be good at attitude turns, and I have till Thursday to extract whatever he’s doing to make them work, and ideally make them work for me too.  Venga, venga!

A few days may not be so much time to achieve such a feat, and yet taking a mere week off left me a jellowy mess.  Seriously, my brain probably exploded somewhere around degagé, and by the end I was spazzing during the petite allegro and tripping over my feet during the grande allegro.  Yup.  The floor was slippery?  (On a serious note, what is SERIOUSLY up with Sullivant Hall’s floors during the summer?!  They become frictionless death traps!).  If you can imagine throwing a fossilized Gumby figurine down a flight of stairs, I’m pretty sure that’s what I looked like today.  But as is the mantra of this blog, some days you just have to dust yourself off, let out a hearty laugh it and remind yourself “I dance funny.”


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