Tag Archives: wilis

In a word…Giselle

29 Jan

I finally watched (a) Giselle in its entirety, with my maiden viewing going to the made for film production with Carla Fracci and Erik Bruhn by ABT.  I honestly didn’t think I would like Giselle all that much…I was sure it would be quaint, lovely, but more than likely a little too sappy for my tastes.  You know, the kind of mooniness that provoked Balanchine to coin the term “Gisellitis,” and probably want to shake her and say “get a grip, girl!”  I didn’t “get” Giselle, but I also knew that having only seen the pas de deux performed once as well as a few video clips really wasn’t enough to make a good judgment on the ballet (but judge did I want to!).  Turns out I kind of like it…maybe even really like it and despite the ever dreaded enchanted forest scene, I actually added a Giselle to my Amazon wish list (that one being the Royal Ballet of course, with Alina and Johan.  So magnanimous is that pairing one need not even refer to their surnames).

The film version has some great things going for it…among them, Erik Bruhn as Count Albrecht, who has the most beautiful pair of legs I’ve ever seen (man or woman).  It’s one of those moments where you hesitate to use the word perfect because you try to convince yourself that everyone is flawed, but really his legs are perfect…pencil straight in arabesque and always landing in impeccable fifths in his jumps.  He’s the kind of dancer you watch, then think about your own legs, give yourself a moment to sulk while a trombone goes “wah-waaaaaah” and then remind yourself that dance is not about comparing yourself to others and their genetic gifts, but being the dancer you are with the body you have.  Public service announcement aside, it’s worth the watch for him alone and I believe it’s the only full length performance of his ever recorded so it’s a wonderful piece of history.

He partnered Carla Fracci in the title role, who showed a wonderful range of doe-eyed innocence as a young girl in Act I to a forlorn yet forgiving ghostly apparition in Act II.  I always figured it was the dramatic range (along with technical skill and grace) that drew women to want to perform Giselle so much (here’s looking at you Veronique Doisneau) but I wonder if there’s more to it.  Especially considering the fact that on the surface, Giselle would seem to be a…clingy, antifeminist character.  This day in age, if a man pulls a stunt like Count Albrecht and cheats on his fiancée (Berthilde, with Giselle as the “mistress”), both women are expected to dump him because a cheater is still a cheater and is inevitably bad news to the both of them.  However, my interpretation of Giselle was not antifeminist at all.  The fact that she forgives him strikes me as more empowered, with her death only being symbolic.  We can’t look at a romantic era ballet and realistically compare it to a relationship between actual people and yet I see more truth in Giselle than I do in say, the countless pop songs about breakups you hear on the radio.  Maybe this is hopelessly romantic (or sappy) of me, but I think if you really love someone, a part of you always does and that’s why it’s hard to let go of relationships even when people you trust get in your face and tell you to dump his/her ass.  Giselle is the representation of love itself…she doesn’t technically love Albrecht (she didn’t even know who the hell he was!) but she was in love with the idea of being in love and I think her purity is the language of the heart.  She is the “butterflies in your stomach” feeling and because she is love personified, she is the most powerful character in the story…able to stand up to Myrtha, queen of the Wilis and ensure that Albrecht survives Myrtha’s forcing him to dance to death.  She is the heroine even if she dies…but as I said, her death and transformation into a Wili is symbolic.  Love changes when somebody hurts you and you may be able to forget about it someday but it probably never goes away for good.  Which Bruhn probably understood better than anyone, given his relationship with Nureyev…which by the way, HELLO.  I had no idea that ever happened…how behind the times am I?  Bruhn & Nureyev is huge…like bigger than Alina & Johan huge…hell, bigger than Brad & Angelina huge.  This is galactic huge.

At any rate, I didn’t really feel sorry for Bruhn’s Albrecht…not enough Jewish guilt for me to sympathize.  Naturally, I would feel more for a character like James in La Sylphide because he forsakes a relationship he doesn’t want to be in only to accidentally kill the Sylph he pursues…Albrecht knows full well what he’s doing all along, that he’s fooling Giselle into thinking he’s just a villager named Loys and not Count Albrecht, fiancée of Berthilde.  Rather than finding him passionate or romantic I kind of wanted to whack him on the schnoz with a rolled up newspaper (which by the way, I don’t think is very effective for training dogs.  Humans on the other hand…they can be taught).  But I do understand him…if Giselle is the personification of love, we have to remember that love makes us do stupid things.  More than understand, I can forgive him too.

As far as the film itself, there were some interesting moments of cinematography that added another dimension to the ballet, particularly in the second act with having Albrecht dance in the middle of the Wilis in the round (which I think makes them more menacing and enhances the sense that Albrecht is really trapped), with some beautiful aerial shots that would make Busby Berkeley proud.  Also the way the camera focus was blurred for when the Wilis would materialize from in and out of the trees added to the etherealness.  However, I think the editing needed to be edited…as in, there was too much different camera angles and unimportant shots of random animals in the first act or rippling reflections in the second act (like, yeah I got it the first time…but it was quite unnecessary).  There’s even a scene with a hunting part on horseback and they shot it from the horse’s perspective, so the camera is tossed around while the horse gallops and you get lovely images of another horse’s ass getting all jiggy with it in front of you.  I really could have done without that.  But all in all, a good first Giselle experience and I enjoyed Fracci and Bruhn very much.  If you’re impervious to motion sickness and frenetic editing, you may want to give this one a watch.  Whole thing on YouTube, in nine parts:

Rattle me bones

4 Oct

First post of October, one of my favorite months of the year!  I’m also writing this on about two hours of fragmented sleep, which is probably not a good idea and guarantees zero well thought out…content…but you only live once.  I love October because it puts me in the mood for many things…the changing leaves (I’ve always loved the smell of dead, wet leaves), anything involving pumpkins, and All Hallow’s Eve.  It doesn’t really make sense that Halloween would be one of my favorite holidays, considering I don’t go trick-or-treating, attend costume parties, or go to haunted houses, but there’s something about the cheery atmosphere, the symbolic characters, the massive amounts of discounted chocolate (the solution to all problems), and yes, pumpkins.  I do think some aspects of Halloween are pretty lame, and the lengths to which some people will go for costumes is wasteful, but I can’t help but admire the festive spirit.  Plus, one of my favorite memories of one of my best friends occurred on a beggar’s night, when a little child jumped out of a bush and startled her, and without thinking she said “God damn you!”  Good.  Times.

In terms of music, Halloween is ALL about Camille Saint-Saëns Danse Macabre for me, one of my absolute favorite pieces of all time.  Although in a past life I was definitely an orchestra patron who walked out of a Stravinsky concert outraged, I was most defos fascinated by Saint-Saëns.  Most balletomanes would know his name from The Dying Swan set to Le Cygne from Le Carnaval des Animaux.  Although, let it be known that Le Cygne is not my favorite movement, but rather Aquarium and Fossiles are instead.  It’s all a part of my geeky nature…just as I had aspirations to see Carlos Acosta, the Bolshoi Ballet, etc. so do I have aspirations to see certain sea creatures, with whale sharks being the current flavor (it was sea otters before, which was accomplished at the Seattle Aquarium where I bought a magnet).  Whale sharks are going to be tricky though because they’re raised in captivity in far fewer places, most of them in Asia, and I’m banking on my best bet being the Georgia Aquarium, which is also one of the few aquariums to house a manta ray.  Ideally, I would love to dive with whale sharks off the coast of Thailand or Australia, but that’s a much more complicated matter.  Anyway, Saint-Saëns, Aquariums, awesome, Fossiles, wonderful, and the latter quotes Danse Macabre in a major key, bringing us back to the original topic.

People who hang with me are forced to pose with dinosaur bones.  And yes, I've made her do this on more than one occasion.

People who hang with me are forced to pose with dinosaur bones. And yes, I've made her do this on more than one occasion.

I was fortunate to play Danse Macabre as a part of an orchestra, although my favorite arrangement is a chamber version for violin and piano, from the album Devil’s Dance, by Gil Shaham and Jonathon Feldman.  Another great track on there is Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s Caprice Fantastique, but the whole album is really good and highly recommended, with endless potential for great dances.  As far as Danse Macabre is concerned, I love the time signature (it’s a waltzy three), and the texture is a bizarre juxtaposition of lyrical and bony…a lot like me, which I guess makes it easy to feel at home with it.  It has an element of playfulness to it that you wouldn’t expect from a dance involving death, and interested in seeing how people would interpret this, I of course carried out my usual excavations through YouTube, this time coming up with three unique interpretations.  The first is a fairly run of the mill “the Wilis have come out to play” group dance called La Melodie, and I have to say that I wasn’t particularly moved.  It was a little too technical and got “stuck” in several places, and although not every dance needs a story, I do think that it should evoke some kind of feeling and it was rather flat.  Are the Wilis happy to be playing?  Or are they somber as they journey into the underworld?  In all fairness, the choreographer mentions that it was their first classical work, but I do wish there was some more risk taking.

Next we have a solo from now San Francisco Ballet principal Tan Yuan Yuan, performing a modern solo entitled “Startling Dream,” and accordingly stiffness in her port de bras and the pencil straight lines of her legs were used as a way to convey the awkwardness of the music itself.  It’s an interesting solo, marred by a heinous competition number fluttering from her leotard.  It doesn’t say who conceived the choreography, but I like the real sense of desperation and terror that we often feel in nightmares.  Interestingly enough, I’m not bothered by the lack of a setting, and I think the all black stage enhances the piece, kind of like a body floating in nothingness, which my nightmares sometimes look like.  And sometimes in those nightmares I’m wearing a high cut leotard too.

Last, is a brilliantly disturbing interpretation by a famous Norwegian choreographer, Kjersti Alveberg.  I looked for a website on her, and her bio alone screams “creative mind” (something about her being a gypsy living in the universe of her unconscious where it matters more “who we are than who we want to be.”  She’s deep…and this coming from someone who takes fortune cookies seriously).  Her Danse Macabre is by far the most imaginative and the most grotesque (maybe even too much…I mean speaking of nightmares, her dance might give me them for a week), and her imagery is so creative…reminiscent of Cirque du Soleil but without the concern for acrobatics and impressing audiences, just pure art.  I think it really touches on an innate morbid curiosity humans have, where you can’t look away no matter how unsettling it can be.  It’s an utterly fascinating video dance, although I was a little disappointed with the very end, because the end of Danse Macabre is a cheeky plucking of two notes, which is one of the moments in the music that I find just a little saucy, and pardon the imagery but it’s like a “giving of the finger” if you know what I mean.  It’s a great moment that was purposely edited out, but I have to question that decision.  Tan Yuan Yuan’s solo only used an excerpt and didn’t have this, and La Melodie had it, but didn’t give it enough pizzazz.

So, I’m exhausted, and I’m sorry this entry isn’t particularly funny…when I’m tired most of my humor manifests in slapstick, and I’m glad none of you saw how I tripped coming up the stairs or shampooed my hair twice because I wasn’t paying attention to what I was doing.  And WOW I had a lot of typos…

They SHOULD make them like they used to

11 Aug

So I thought today I would talk about something besides ballet, but I lied.  Who am I kidding?  I adore ballet and I’ve been wanting to put some of my thoughts into writing on that hoot-and-a-half, Maurice Bejart.  I couldn’t decide on whether I wanted to talk about my favorite of his 2.5 works that I’ve seen on youtube, or whether I wanted to tackle the beast of Stravinsky, and include Bejart’s works in an unintelligent analysis of The Rite of Spring and The Firebird, and how it seems like a number of ballet choreographers feel some burning need to do their own version.  Which means one of two things…the music itself is either highly inspirational (quite possible) or ballet choreographers are neurotic about competing with each other (less likely, but still a possibility), in a “my Firebird can beat up your Firebird” kindergarten kind of way.  Sometimes I even picture the Wilis of Bejart, Michel Fokine and Uwe Scholz (among others I’m sure) slapping each other in the afterlife while engaged in a heated argument over Firebird.  Obviously, were they all alive and in the same room, as artists they would have a mutual respect for each other and discuss their visions in a scholarly fashion, but this is my imagination, not theirs.

Anyway, there are only a few excerpts from Scholz’s version available, which is no fair.  And although there is video (with sheety sound quality unfortunately) of the Bejart Ballet doing Firebird, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater did a production and might release a DVD, so this whole Firebird shebang will have to wait.  To do otherwise would damage my already waning credibility as an amateur dance critic and enthusiast.  The point is, I lied about lying; I’m not going to discus ballet in this entry.

I’d like to take a moment to pay a little homaggito to tap because my previous entries regarding tap were far from profound.  Not surprisingly, this should be interesting, because although when tap was at its peak in the glamorous sparkle of Hollywood during the big band era, one of my FAVORITE periods in music, I know nothing about tap (secretly or not so secretly, I’ve always wanted to learn and even have the gall to think I could be good at it, although to be honest I’d take tap classes just for the big band music).  I don’t even know a single step.  I don’t know how it works, but I know what I know, I like what I like and I find it fascinating.  Rhythms in general are pleasing to the soul, and wouldn’t you know it…I just typed “fascinating.  Rhythms” which means I can bring up my favorite tap dance to Fascinatin’ Rhythm.  But not now (aren’t I full of surprises?) because the performer who made it famous deserves to be mentioned first…the one and only Eleanor Powell.

Ellie was mostly trained in ballet and even danced en pointe for one movie, but this will make you sick…she didn’t even like tap at first and almost quit but stuck with it, and by stuck with it, I mean she took TEN formal lessons.  Then she skyrocketed like a prodigy and the rest is legendary.  Now I kind of missed out on the whole Fred Astaire hysteria because my parents and grandparents didn’t really watch movies and had no tradition to pass down, and even now I’m not particularly obsessed…but I fell in love with Ellie without hesitation.  Fred himself said Ellie was a better dancer than he, which is monumental and unfortunate considering he got more recognition than she did.  But it doesn’t matter…she was born to dance and it’s a wonderful thing that so many of her performances were captured on film.  She had machine gun feet, and thanks to ballet could do huge battements, the splits, and a flurry of turns that would even make a ballet dancer jealous (and trust me, they do).  Makes you wonder how talented she was at ballet, but lucky for us she found her calling.

It wasn’t that she was just a good dancer either…she had a magnetic and vivacious personality to boot.  In fact, I think one needs that to truly be a great dancer, and sadly that’s severely lacking today in so many ways.  Bland personalities make for bland performances, and while the “pretty faces” make money for no reason, the real personalities and talent out there suffer (something tells me if Ellie were alive today she’d be pissed about this too).  There’s a video of her giving a short speech at Fred Astaire’s lifetime achievement award ceremony, and just listening to her in that couple of minutes gave me goosebumps, made my ferociously cold heart melt and make my eyes tear up.  On the one hand, it’s kind of ridiculous that one can get all choked up from a teeny video, but on the other hand you can’t help but feel the power of her presence; almost as if her warmth is reaching out to you.  You just can’t help but like her.  Either that or I’m becoming way too sappy for my own good…I can’t even watch Extreme Makeover Home Edition because I cry every single time, and I even tear up at commercials for The Biggest Loser.  COMMERCIALS.  And this coming from the kid who once said “I would cry if I were a real human.”  Times have changed, folks and folkitos.

Le sigh.  Now as previously mentioned, Fascinatin’ Rhythm was my favorite dance that she did, and it was an epic little bugger, with the way the set had to be moved around (by hand!), multiple piano players, a band, a chorus of dancers.  This was the first dance of hers that I ever saw, and it was one of those moments where you can’t tear your eyes away and you just have to watch with a smile on your face.  And the music was CHOICE.  Hello, Gershwin! ::swoon::

Another similar vid (higher quality):

Now here’s another video where you can see her huge battements and get a better sense of her delicioso leg line, and how in control she was of her body.  And isn’t it fantastic to see a solo female dancer with a male corps, and NO partner?  Although I swear if classic tap weren’t such a suit and tie deal, I’d be completely sold (I HATE dressing up).


And now I shall conclude with some memorable and chuckle-inducing quotes:

“A tap dancer is really a frustrated drummer.”

“I’d rather dance than eat.” <–TRUESIES

Inspiration Sensation

8 Aug

I went to see Julie & Julia today, and I liked it a lot.  It’s my kind of movie; light humor, vivacious personalities and unfettered by…crap.  You know, like people acting like they have something to prove.  Not that Meryl Streep has anything to prove to anyone, but she does a pretty damn good Julia Child.  But the movie got me thinking about inspiration and passion, qualities that are so critical in dance.  Julia Child was such an approachable, charming and unabashedly warm personality that you can’t help but like her.  The fact that she made an empire out of cooking so late in life breathes hope into my complaining muscles and bones…that life isn’t completely dependent on timing; it is a choice to pursue our passions and it is a choice to be in control of our own destinies.  We just have to be open to an unexpected end result…like pavlovas being too soupy and cracking in the oven when they’re not supposed to (don’t mock me, I’m no pastry chef.  Or an Australian).  Or how about deciding to go to a movie all about food when you skipped lunch…and let me tell you I was DYING.  I never skip meals but somehow ran out of time today, although I must say that the stuffed chicken breast with Yukon gold mashed potatoes I had at Bon Vie, all circumstances considered was one of those most satisfying meals I’ve had in a long time.

Anyway, as I said before, I love that she found herself later in life, especially when it seems like in our generation there’s a rush to know who you are as soon as you graduate (or even before).  What’s the hurry, really?  Why not live for the present and grow as people as we do, delighting in the now?  Ironically, when I went to see the Julia Child kitchen at the Smithsonian earlier this summer, it was my dad who was cranky and fed up with the museum visit, and he’s also one of those people who thinks I have to carve my life goals into stone now.  I get that people need to get jobs to get money and I need to be among those people, but unlike him, I can’t bear the thought of living so far into the future to render myself a Wilis in the present.

I recently had the pleasure of reading an essay by Rob Dobson, entitled Dance Liberation, and he puts into eloquent words how I feel about dance and how it does indeed put us in the present:

Dance is one of the tools for ‘stopping the world,’ for helping me to enter the eternal present, letting each moment be fresh and new, exploring the infinite universe, making endless discoveries, untainted by anything I’ve ever been told about the nature of things.  It’s like what Walt Whitman says about trusting nothing but your own experience.  It’s my favorite kind of play and also my favorite kind of work.  Both.  Nothing more enjoyable, nothing more serious for me.  It’s immeasurable therapeutic, of course, but I don’t like to focus on the benefits only.  They just seem to come about as by-products of the creative efforts.

Wow.  And here I was thinking that the juxtaposition of super-serious and super-fun made me a tempestuous nutcase.  We’re trained from the beginning not to mix business with pleasure, but why the hell not?  I think for some people, it’s the right thing to do…necessary even.  Apparently I feel this way because I’m an “erratic and emotionally charged” person according to my parents (based on my refusal to enter the corporate workforce).  But in truth, some of us can’t survive without harmonious relationships between the biggest things in our lives.  It has to work that way or we lose sight of the big picture and worse, suffocate.  We can’t sit in cubicles and offices not because we are incapable, but because it will crush our souls.  Just thinking about that kind of work makes me want to find the closest ten-story building with an open window, and pretty much every friend I’ve ever had that was worth having laughs at the idea of me working in an office.

Dobson elaborates further:

Dance is the language of awareness.  Human bodies, their movements, and their shapes and postures (which are formed by their movements) are more immediately, potently expressive than words or any symbols or representations could ever be.  Dance is not an interpretation or a translation of life; it’s the experience of life itself.  People who understand this can share the experience together.  They can speak to each other with movement, exchange energy with each other, and celebrate life in and through their bodies.

Clearly, this guy is a modern dancer (which he clarifies elsewhere in the essay).  One of my personal tests for identifying a modern dancer is to hold up a blue crayon and ask them what color it is.  If they say something like “it’s the space between two sunsets” then you know you’ve got a modernisto on your hands.  They might mask their true selves and answer with “blue” or hint at their true identity with a “cerulean” but don’t let that dissuade you.  I myself have only dabbled in modern, and find it easier to relate to his words with modern as the vehicle rather than ballet (since classical ballet is kind of stuffy and conservative), but I think his words resound across the board.

I highly recommend his essay to any dancers, because he really puts into words the way I think most dancers feel about their art.  His essay is also a good read especially for gay men in dance, because he addresses issues of identity and saying that there is more to dance than clubs (where movement is codified and restricted) and dancing professionally in a company (which sometimes just requires an innate talent and certain physical attributes).  I found many of his experiences to parallel my own (it’s almost creepy…although uncanny would be the nice way to say it I suppose):

Why hadn’t I been doing this all my life?  I realized in a flash that dance could be the means of going beyond self-consciousness tied to my body.  I had always thought that dance would only enhance nervousness about my body (one-two-three, point your toe, and does it look pretty, am I doing it right?).  But through improvising, focusing on letting the impulses come from inside somewhere (how much of that first year did I spend dancing with my eyes closed?) I felt good about my body for the first time in my life.  I was the kind of skinny kid who got C+’s in gym class and nearly died there in the competitive macho jockworld.  No one ever told me that there were ways for me to enjoy my body without straining and exercising and fighting and comparing myself to everyone else.  No one ever told me that coordination and sensitivity and expressiveness counted for much of anything.  Consequently, when I began to dance I suddenly felt strong, empowered.  Here was something I could do, and I could do it well, simply because that meant doing it in my own way, meeting no one else’s standards.

Praise be to Billy Elliot!  I was a tree branch (still am) but I’m on the same page (p.176, more specifically).  Modern classes always made me the most nervous because improv freaks me out, but he’s right.  I was good at improv when I decided to be.  Although, that wasn’t very often…sorry modern, but you always injure me and my brain speaks classical.  I dabble in you, but cannot fully commit at this point.

Meanwhile, I love what he says towards the end, because it’s true…dance has never ceased to make me feel better:

When I’m feeling the most ineffectual and overwhelmed by the world, if I manage to get up and start moving I feel better instantly.  For me, every time I dance from my inner impulses, it becomes an affirmation, not only of my own worth, but of life itself.  The introspection, the self-criticism, the endless mind games fade as the movement gently dissolves my self-consciousness.  It seems that faggots especially could find value in this experience, being so burdened as we all seem to be with the ‘I’m ugly and worthless’ syndrome caused by so much internalized oppression.  More than any other activity, dance makes me feel good, makes me feel whole, makes me feel like a living thing, like a healthy member of the world community of beings.  Dance reminds us.  The Zuñis say, ‘We dance both for pleasure and for the good of the city’

This essay is over thirty years old and I find it one of the most inspiring things I’ve read in a long time.  Thank you, Mr. Dobson!

(And you too can read the entire essay in Lavender Culture, edited by Karla Jay and Allen Young.  Ohio State students could check it out from the library if I didn’t have the book still.  ::cue trombone:: waah-waaaah!)

Emeralds and Rubies and Diamonds! Oh, my!

21 Jun

Prepare yourself for a scattered entry with miscellaneous thoughts:

I forgot to mention that in Le Corsaire, Volchkov did these INSANE assemblé to grand plié, and effortlessly exploded upwards into a huge sissone.  That was crazy impossible, although someday if I’m bored and there are no people around as witnesses, I might try it for funsies.  If no one’s watching, what’s the worst that could happen?

Also, I didn’t mention anything about my last day at the Columbus Summer dance festival, since I was in a hurried and flurried rush to pack and get to the airport to fly to DC, but as for class that morning, nothing really out of the ordinary happened.  I’m sure you get the picture…attitude turns and “venga!” as usual.  Although Marden did finally tell us that “venga” means “come on” in Spanish.  Did I ever mention that he calls the accompanist “maestra” and asks for things in increments of “teeny-weeny-bombini?” Like, “Maestra! A teeny-weeny-bombini bit slower?” or “Maestra! How about a teeny-weeny-bombini reverence?”  And this coming from the same man who will tell you every other minute to “Move your body! Bam-bam-bam-bam!” (The “bams” referring to every time you spot while turning.  Although I’ve never done a quad.  Intentionally.).

Next, as it was Hilary’s birthday the day after we went to see Le Corsaire, I decided to give her a ballet DVD since her love for the art only became known to me somewhat recently.  I ended up picking Balanchine’s Jewels, and I even found the last copy in all of Columbus, Ohio.  I quickly called the specific Barnes and Noble that had it, in order to stake my claim and ensure that it would be mine to buy but they told me they didn’t have it.  Their website said they had it in stock so undaunted and determined, I called again the following day and lo and behold the bookseller found it after some searching and voila!  After this epic retail journey I thought to myself I deserve to say that I had found the perfect gift.  And then at dinner before the ballet she told me she was not a fan of Balanchine and felt his style is overrated. OH. BILLY. ELLIOT.

Panicked, I realized my options were to give the DVD as is and claim that because I had no knowledge of her lack on enthusiasm for Balanchine, it was an honest mistake.  Although, after looking at one of the gift shops at the Kennedy Center, I found that they had a lot of DVD’s for sale and was very close to purchasing a the Kirov production of Don Quixote (no ghosts, if I recall correctly although there is a dryad scene).  But this was just a few minutes before the show so I thought I’d give myself a minute to think about it.  I even thought of coming back the Kennedy Center in secret the next day if the gift shops were closed by the time Le Corsaire was over, but they were indeed open anyway.  However, the gift shop on the lower level had a more varied selection whereas the gift shop on the main floor did not.  They had Swan Lake (ghosts, enchanted forests, a definite no-go) and one copy of Baryshnikov’s Don Q, which for whatever reason I wasn’t as enthusiastic about buying.  Running out of ideas, I ended up telling Hilary I bought her Jewels, which spoiled the surprise but perhaps dampened the blow of the thought of having to own Balanchine choreography.  So I just told her if she didn’t like Balanchine’s style to just ignore Rubies, and only watch Emeralds and Diamonds.  So 2 out of 3 isn’t bad, and hey, no ghosts or enchanted forests right?  (What are they officially? Wilis?)  In the end, I’m glad to say she was happy with the gift because she doesn’t own any dance DVDs, and something, even Balanchine is better than nothing!

And last, but not least, in the interim of being here in DC I of course investigated some adult drop in classes, this time at the Washington Ballet.  Now, I have NEVER danced anywhere besides Ohio State, so I was prepared for a traumatic and terrifying experience.  Not because of anything Washington Ballet would do, just because I can’t ignore my natural tendency to freak out in new situations.  And of course there were a bunch of girls who were amazing, with gorgeous lines (although one had some severely winged scapulae…yikes!) but there were adults at various levels too so I really had nothing to worry about.  It’s a good experience to dance at different studios and learn different exercises and combinations, and I suppose meet new people.  Although, this morning there was a guy I had a brief conversation with who actually went to school at Oberlin in Ohio (and it really isn’t everyday you meet someone who knows Ohio outside of Ohio) and seemed to be a perfectly nice person, but again, I freak in new situations and rather than see that as an opportunity to meet a new person I ended up leaving without even introducing myself.  I have some serious issues and a curious, but skittish mentality like a baby bunny.

What I’m trying to say is, in dance, allow yourself to meet new people.  You obviously have something in common and it’s a great opportunity to just connect with kindred wilis.  Trust me when I say you don’t want to end up fickle like me, and then 5 minutes later when you’re walking down the sidewalk realize you should have at least said “My name is Steve(n).”  It’s almost embarrassing to think that I need one of those name tag stickers, as a fully grown (in age, but not in stature) adult.