Tag Archives: tornado pirouettes

Unpleasantry in the dance world?

28 Sep

I’m really into these search terms that bring people to my blog.  One of them being, “microscopic eyebrow bugs.”  But here’s one that not only made me laugh, but is actually relevant:

Why are people in the dance world so unpleasant?

Why indeed!  Dear friend, this is something that I largely attribute to three things, and contrary to popular belief, I don’t believe it’s jealousy that fuels negative behavior in the world of dance.  After all, I tend to live by the philosophy that jealousy is really just misguided admiration.  I say misguided, because I think those people simply refuse to admit to themselves that they do indeed admire someone else, and it’s their choice to be resentful that is regrettable.  I say I’m jealous of people all the time, out loud and to their faces, and nobody thinks that it’s out of spite.  So here we go, the three things that make SOME dance people so mean.

Competition breeds crazy

Competitions in general are a breeding ground for hostility, because some people never learn to live, learn and LET GO.  Not surprisingly, dance competitions are the same, but it extends into studios and companies where people are constantly trying to get noticed by teachers to get bumped up into the next level, auditioners to make it into the company, and artistic directors to get promoted in the hierarchy to soloist or principal.  Accordingly, a lot of dancers end up in a constant state of evaluation of themselves and others, which like all things in life is fine in moderation.  A lot of people see competition as good motivation to push themselves, and a fraction of those people cross a line when the fool themselves into thinking sizing up the competition and putting them down is going to make them a better dancer.  WRONG.  These are the kind of people that need to be shaken silly and reminded that dance is first and foremost an art.  Competition is just an aspect of dance, like salt in a cookie…it should be there, but it’s not the dominant flavor you taste.  That’s one thing I really took away from my limited experiences in modern dance, and I’m not talking lyrical…like actual modern dance.  People are much more supportive of each other, with no egos (or at the very least suppressed egos), no hierarchy and it makes for a more productive environment.  It’s an attitude that can be applied to any dance form, but I do suggest for people who can feel their mental fortresses buckling to try a modern class, see the difference in how people act, and take that with you to whatever it is you prefer to dance.

Opinions…MY opinion

We all have a desperate and human need to have our opinions be heard.  Why do you think I write this blog?  People are always talking, but with the advent of the internet, anonymity came into play which turns people into little demons (the YouTube piranhas for example).  Suddenly, people feel more courage to talk when they know they can say whatever they want and not be responsible for it.  This is why I personally, try to always write and comment on things in a way that I would not be afraid to say to that person’s face.  Just because it’s the internet, it doesn’t mean I’m excused from being responsible for my words, and it’s the jerks who take that for granted we all have to watch out for.  I mean, heck yeah if I had the opportunity I might tell Angel Corella he pirouettes like a tornado…but I’d say in a way that ensures he shouldn’t take my opinion seriously.  That’s a problem with the internet…there’s no intonation or context to frame some comments with, so they come across as abrasive when many times people are trying to be constructive.  But on the flipside, people should consider exercising restraint in some of the technical advice they give, because they forget the context with which to frame the situation…most dancers do have teachers after all!

Not being what you are

The last and my favorite is addressing the issue of being yourself.  Being the dancer you are, not the one you were, wish to be, or even the one you “think” you are, because that becomes extremely problematic.  People who overestimate their abilities are setting themselves up as hyena bait, and people who constantly say “I suck” get really old, really fast.  So if you feel pressure and negativity from people around you, make sure you’re not making yourself a victim.  I should know, because I’m pretty prone to self-deprecation, and still struggle with it to some degree.  Unsurprisingly, on days when I think I’m worse than I actually am, I dance worse, and feel cranky.  Not being yourself makes anyone and everyone cranky, so don’t put yourself in a bad mood by doing so.  It’s important to note too that it’s not just a matter of a dancer affirming who they are, but the audience as well.  So many YouTube sharks are attacking people who post videos all the time, and it’s like “dude, you just harpooned some poor adult beginner’s recital.”  Again, a lack of information has caused some hot-tempered moron to lambast something they didn’t understand.  Even with professional dancers and companies, you can’t expect Royal Ballet quality from say, a local company.  Royal Ballet has more money and resources to create more elaborate sets or hire more acclaimed dancers.  It’s downright shameful that some people criticize some production out of the whazoo just because they know what major companies and internationally acclaimed dancers are like.  It’s evil, and an irresponsible use of knowledge.

So there you have it…my theories as to why SOME dance people are unpleasant.  And again, I say some because there are many wonderful people in the world of dance, and it’s a matter of conditioning ourselves to identify with positive rather than negative behavior.  It’s like that saying about how one bad apple can ruin a barrel, or if you watch the Deadliest Catch, you would know that if one Alaskan king crab dies while in storage, its carcass releases a toxin that will kill all of the other crabs.  Fortunately, we as humans have a greater capacity than apples and crabs, and can reverse the trend with good vibes and a genuine smile.  So my fellow dance fans, ducklings and such, we kind of have a sucky reputation right now…let’s do our best to fix it, shall we?

Ok, that's actually a Japanese spider crab, but I don't have any pictures of an Alaskan King Crab (same order, but different family).  Just be impressed that I picture of a large crab at all.  Oh, and the human is my friend Liz.

Ok, that's actually a Japanese spider crab, but I don't have any pictures of an Alaskan King Crab (same order, but different family). Just be impressed that I even have a picture of a large crab on hand. Oh, and the human is my friend Liz.

Juicy pliés and tornado pirouettes

24 Sep

I have added some new linkage, the first being The Ballet Bag, a blog by the two “bag ladies” who know all, see all, and are constantly updating their twitter feed with the best tidbits about what’s going on in the world of ballet (with a special affinity for everyone’s favorite Royal Ballet).  Forget being in the loop…they ARE the loop, so be sure to read up on their blog for super-informative posts and follow them on twitter or you’ll be left in the orchestra pit (they never know what’s going on).  The second link I’ve added is for Libby Costello’s blog, and she is an expert in alien language labanotation and dance educator extraordinaire among many other things.  Currently a member of the Faculty of Education at the illustrious Royal Academy of Dance, she writes reviews and reports on the London dance scene and we can be sure to expect some personal contemplations soon (she just started bloggin’).  She too, be on twitter, so follow her feeds like you do.  Say what you will about New York or maybe even Amsterdam, but I’m on board with London being the capital of dance.  So much so that should the wallet stop being such a jackass, I’d seriously consider a move (although citizenship and naturalization laws in the UK are pretty daunting).  And by the way, if the 3.5 other people who read this blog ever have suggestions for links (doesn’t even have to be a blog, about ballet, or even dance related, provided it’s your link to share) please lemme know!

Anyway, on the topic of blogs, WordPress users like yours truly have a dashboard, where there’s a little section that tells me some statistics like how many visits I’m getting, which entries are being read and how people are getting here.  It’s really good for my vanity, but on occasion there will be some interesting topics people are searching that somehow bring them to this blog (including a number of inquiries as to how tall Kristin Chenoweth is.  For the record, she’s 4’11”).  One in particular, was a curious soul wanting to know if the degree of turnout affects the speed of a pirouette.  This interests me, so I shall indulge.  I’m going to say, “no.”  For one thing, jazz pirouettes are done in parallel, but they can still be quite fast.  As far as ballet is concerned, certainly, more turnout equates to a more open retiré, and one might think that allows for more room to “throw the knee.”  But all pirouettes come from a turned out position of the feet, so even though we open the leg to the side, it doesn’t actually slingshot to that position.  Rather it starts in a turned out plié and goes up into retiré maintaining the turnout the whole time.  In my experience, speed comes from starting with a robust (and in the words of former teacher Daniela, “juicy”) plié, arriving in retiré as quickly and efficiently as possible, and is probably most dependent on the speed of the spot.  I actually used to have a problem with overcooking the plié (maybe I still do), and using enough force for like ten pirouettes when my brain was intending to do a double.  So if aforementioned inquisitor should return, I hope this is a suitable answer in your quest.  Personally speaking though, speed in a pirouette should not be thought of as a technique, but rather a tool to express musicality.  It’s the slow pirouettes that are really hard anyway.  It’s one thing to do a triple pirouette to fast music and shoot your leg back into fourth or fifth, and it’s a totally different beast to do a triple and actually have to slow down to stop, and then place your foot into fourth or fifth.  My flute teacher would probably find this hysterical because she always yelled at me for playing too fast, and that slower and cleaner is always better…but she doesn’t have to know that she was right.

Meanwhile, I went to the library today to pick up a book I had reserved, and decided to look for ballets.  A long time ago when I searched the database, all that came up was the Nutcracker, a bunch of DVD’s to teach ballet, the movie Ballet Shoes and Angelina Ballerina stuff.  Needless to say I didn’t think Columbus libraries had a decent selection, but it turns out I was the fool because all of the good stuff was located deeper in the results.  After paging through, I fond a treasure trove of goodies, reserved a ton of things and walked away with Royal Ballet’s La Fille mal gardée (1981, Leslie Collier and Michael Coleman), Paris Opera’s La Sylphide (2004, Aurélie Dupont and Mathieu Ganio) and against my better judgment, La Scala’s Romeo and Juliet (2000, Angel Corella and Alessandra Ferri).  Nothing against La Scala, Corella, or Ferri…in fact they were the reasons I borrowed it.  It’s just that Romes & Jules is not my favorite ballet.  How I decide I like a ballet is largely based on a triangular system, with score, libretto and choreography at the points.  When it comes to Romes & Jules, I hate two of the three…the score and libretto.  Like the Montagues et Capulets theme drives me crazy, and conjures images of seasickness and ancient ships with rows of slaves manning the oars, a ruthless captain with a whip to “motivate” them.   As for the libretto…some people find the story a romantic tragedy, but all I can think about is how annoying I find it when young teenagers think their puppy love is the real deal, and for Romeo and Juliet, was worth dying for.  It reeks of teen hormones and stupidity…get a grip.  It bothers me now when twelve year olds think their “dating” is legit.  Juliet was thirteen, and I suppose she at least she had the excuse of a shorter life expectancy and the culture of Shakespearian times.  Oh well…I am at least looking forward to watching Ferri and some of Corella’s freaky tornado pirouettes.  You know, how his pirouettes are lightning fast but he adjusts his torso the entire time and it creates this illusion that he’s wobbling, but somehow he manages to never fall over.

Speaking of things we don’t like in ballet, I shall close with a laugh worthy moment that happened on twitter when friend Hilary with one L, who likes full length classical ballets and especially the Russian tradition, but is not a fan of enchanted forests (or gardens) and ghosts, told me she’s going to see the Washington Ballet’s production of Don Q in a couple of weeks.  So she asked me what the “enchanted forest forecast” was and I had to break it to her that Act III would be when Don Q has his dream of Dulcinea in an enchanted forest surrounded by nymphs.  Maybe next time.