Ballet 422, for a slightly melancholic evening of reflecting on the nature of art. Plus gusset-flashing.

I watched Ballet 422 the other day,
You know, the one where the camera follows Justin Peck around while he creates the 422nd new work for the New York City Ballet.
Mr. Adult Beginner was in the room, but mostly not paying attention to the movie, so I kept shouting things out to him,
Like, “Oh my god, these wishy-washy theater types are driving me insane,” and he’d be like, “Good that the movie is giving an acurate portrayal though, I mean, you know that’s exactly how theater is.”
He’s right too, I do know, that is totally how it is, theater gets made through a series of “I think….?” and “maaaaaaaaybe….?” and a bunch of feelings and metaphors and vague gestures, but the really interesting thing about theater and apparently dance too is that there’s a certain, like, tipping point where ideas go from Vague to Definite. Metaphors become decisions and decisions become instructions, and it’s not just a tipping point, it’s a tipping person, and that person is the the one right in the middle of the chain of command, between the creators and the people who actually build the show.
Basically its the person who takes in soft ideas and gives out hard instructions.
It was really interesting to me, watching this movie and thinking about how important this Tipping Person is in the process of producing live art. I mean, an inspiration is not a specific thing with measurements and dimensions, but reality is, so to get your art to travel from inspiration to reality, you need that middle person who speaks both metaphor and measurement.
Look out for that, Gentle Reader, when you see the movie, look out for that point in the process where things tip from being ideas to being lines on paper and scoops of dye in a dye-bath and cues and steps.
I thought it was interesting to see how often the dancers were asking for specifics, not feelings. I mean, actually, I can’t remember any time a dancer ask for a nuance, only for specifics in timing and steps and where is my weight, while the lighting dude was all, “maybe a little softer…..?” and someone a little further along his chain of command was translating his soft words into “knock it down ten percent.”
Oh theater.
Anyway.
It’s an interesting movie. It made me feel a little sad, which is maybe just my own state of mind a little: it’s been a not-super-dancey spring for me: between everyone catching colds and me gathering bizarre ailments (ankle impingement? What do you mean I have to stop sitting on my heels with the fronts of my feet crushed into the cold hard floor? I thought I was invincible! This sucks!) I’ve missed a lot of class and been kinda shocked at how out of practice I am when I actually do get to class.
Where did all that muscle memory go? And all that strength? I thought I was invincible! This sucks!
One of the sad parts was seeing how rarely Justin Peck smiled throughout the film. I shouted that observation out to my husband and he called back, “I think his face is just like that.”
The new work is not shown to us in the movie, which I found to be a super anti-climax but not super surprising. Seems to be how they do things at NYCB. What did surprise me was the further anticlimax of Justin Peck having to basically run through the dressing rooms to congratulate his dancers, then run up to his own room, dress, and head back down to stage to dance another piece.
I mean, maybe that is exhilarating for dancers, to get to be both choreographer and dancer in the same night. It is what they love and want to be doing, right? I don’t know. I think I would want to, like, revel in seeing my work performed a little more, like luxuriate in it a little. Roll around in it, enjoy it, process it.
Also noted: the scene where Peck goes to visit with the orchestra is super awkward.
The conductor sets it up for maximum awkwardness, and Peck delivers, poor guy.
The little outfit of striped shortie-shorts and tiny retro-bathing suit top is adorbs.
I liked all the costumes for the dance piece a lot. Would’ve loved to have seen more of them.
Tyler Peck is adorbs. Nice to see someone smile.
Is there no smiling in the ballet? Or was I just watching with my Sad Eyes?
Tyler Peck danced with her sash like it wasn’t there, like didn’t fuss around with it or let it get in her way or insist that they shorten it. Costumer High-Five to you, Ms. Peck.
FLAGRANT gusset flashing though. Lolz.
Felt for that one girl who kept opening her arms out in the wrong direction in that one rehearsal scene. Been there girl. I mean, on a way lower level of course, but been there when everyone’s looking and you can’t seem to do it right.
I liked seeing how Justin Peck corrected her, just kept saying “No, this,” like, didn’t get angry or impatient. He seems like a good guy.
Did you see Ballet 422 Gentle Reader? Whadjya think?
We watched The Untouchables the night after Ballet 422. Both good. Not very similar.

Posted in Movies, tv, and live stuff | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

The truth about ballet etiquette 

Dude, I witnessed some super bad behavior the other day.
Here’s what happened:
Big big studio. Not my regular ballet class. One of those places where you get to class and there are like fifteen barres already set up and arranged throughout the room.
This particular day was a holiday, so instead of tons of people warming up and laying all over the floor stretching out, there were only ten of us spread out over the usual fifteen barres, and a couple here and there had paired up on the same barre for chatting purposes, leaving the rest of us with our own nice open barres plus several complete empties.
So: Lots Of Avaliable Barre-Space. Tons. Spaces close to the mirror, spaces far away from the mirror. Spaces in profile to the mirror, spaces en face. Spaces close to the teacher, spaces far away. Near the speakers, away from the speakers. Near the door, away from the door. Whatever your preference for barre spot, it was open.
So class is about to start, the teacher is over by the ipod dock, starting up some kinda ambient warm-up music, and this woman walks in and goes to the stack of extra barres piled up against the wall, disentangles one, and drags it to the center of the room.
The teacher calls out, “Oh honey, the barre can’t go there, there won’t be enough room for the people over there.”
And the barre-pulling lady stiffens up and frowns and shouts, “You! Should speak to me with more respect!”
And then storms out!
And all of us are like, “uh, whut?” and the teacher is like, “Was that my bad?” and we are all like, “No way man, that was nuts, there are all these empty barres, why’s she trying to pull out another one, plus you’re the teacher, she should be respectful to you is what, right?”
So two people clear away the offending barre while the teacher, looking a little shaken, goes out to the front desk to let them know what happened and comes back ready to get on with teaching, and we all start class.
And it got me thinking about ballet class etiquette.
Beginners worry about ballet ettiquette. I worried. I still sometimes worry five years in.
As a beginner you have the vague sense that ballet is full of old traditions, it came from the courts of France, it’s hierarchical, it’s full of manners, there are a lot of unspoken rules. Not knowing all the rules can be kinda paralyzing and fill you with fear like how can you avoid crossing a line if all of these rules are antique and mysterious and unwritten.
You can read up on ballet etiquette, and that is good, there’s a lot of good info here for one.
But at the heart of it, this is what ballet etiquette comes down to:
Try and don’t be an asshole
Just like in real life.
For example:
Don’t yell at your teacher.
I mean duh.
Just like how you wouldn’t yell at your teacher in any class.
And about where to stand:
Beginners worry about where to stand, but really, just find an empty space at the barre and get in it. It’s that simple. If you are worried, ask if the spot is taken.
Maybe they’ll say, “well, usually so and so stands there…” but most likely they’ll say, “god no, we’re not like that here, we’re all just here to have a nice time and learn, you stand wherever you like.”
After all, we are talking adult recreational ballet, we’re not joining a company, this is not the Bolshoi, there maybe a class heirarchy of sorts but it does not involve pay-scale, so everyone can just chill.
And on the flipside, try not to be super rigid about you own special barre spot. If someone is in my (“my”) spot, I try to remember that although I am super-awesome, I am not an actual primadonna.
And if I really want my special spot, I should just get my lazy butt to class earlier next time is what.
Just as in life, in ballet class: don’t be an asshole.
The craziest thing about this whole barre-dragging, shouting-at-the-teacher event, was that the shouty lady came back in during pliés and did class, using that same barre which was now pushed against the wall into the pile of extra barres. Like nothing. Nuts.

Posted in Technique and Class | Tagged , , , , | 13 Comments

And the OFF BALANCE winner is….

Two Winners! Surprise!!!!!

I received a note from Terez Mertes Rose (author and generous provider of a signed copy of her new novel Off Balance) that read, and I quote, 

Pick two winners, okay? Tell them I adore their enthusiasm and it’s been a gift for me to read the comments

So there are two winners! Isn’t that really cool? I think that’s really cool. 

So off to the random number generator, and the results are:

Yes, I totally use the free online random number generator, screen capture, and sloppy-edit them into one picture. You can make fun of my computery ways if you want, it’s cool.

Congratulations to Comment Number 40: That’s you Aino! And yes, it was still Friday in Los Angeles when you commented.

And congratulations to Comment Number 10: That good luck came right back atcha, Cerise

Yay Aino and Cerise! Ms. Rose will email you directly to arrange delivery of your super-hot book wins. 

Thank you to everyone who entered! I know I’ve said this before, but I’mma say it again: you’re all winners to me. 

Please feel free to visit the book info page to learn more about Off Balance, and while you’re there on the classical girl blog why not explore and learn more about the author? Here is a link to Amazon where you can buy Off Balance in paper back or for digital. 

Big Thank You to Terez Mertes Rose for providing two (!!) signed copies to give away, and for being cool with shipping worldwide. It’s been an honor to host you and your book, Terez! 

The disclosures: I got to read the book for free, and Ms. Rose is sending me a print copy for my very own, but I was not paid to review or host the giveaway and none of the links I’ve included are affiliate or bring me anything other than the joy of helping people find a good book. Happy reading friends. 

Posted in Books! | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Hey Cool Girl, what’s in your dance bag?

  

  1. Old worn out pink canvas slippers. They might’ve been Bloch at one time but you can’t see logo anymore. 

That’s it. There’s not even a dance bag involved, she just, like, tucks those mofos into the waistband of her giant satin basketball shorts and strolls off to class. Damn, girl. 

Don’t underestimate her. This is not nonchalance. This girl means business and remembers all her corrections, all your corrections, all the corrections from three weeks ago. She is here to learn and teachers LOVE her. Try and stand behind her at the barre but don’t try to make her smile. 

Posted in Drawings of great sillitude, OMG outfits you guys! | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A Give-Away: for Your Eyes Only…

*{give-away now closed, winner will be announced Monday, big thank yous to everyone who entered!}*

…because it’s a Book, haha!

See, ’cause it’s for your eyes? To, uh, you know, read? Anyway, here it is! 

  

Off Balance by Terez Mertez Rose, who you know from world-famous blog, the classical girl, and from the twitters: @classicalgrrl
Terez asked a while back if I’d be interested in reading her novel, and I was like yes of course times a million, because 1) it’s a ballet novel duh and 2) I gotta say, you guys, I feel really pleased whenever someone from the ballet blog world does a project. Like, I feel all proud and One-Of-Us-ish about it, and like I want to run around the Internet and give everyone a high-five for being part of such a creative and productive and interesting group.
But enough about me and my dorky group-hug feelings, lets talk about YOU, Gentle Reader!
You can win this book!

A signed (!) paperback copy no less. Just imagine it: on your bookshelf…in your gym bag…on your face after you fall asleep trying to stay up all night reading it..

Enter by leaving a comment on this post (one per person please), you have from now until midnight Los Angeles Time on Friday May 15th.

One super-lucky winner will be chosen by random number generator and announced in a post next Monday the 18th, after which Ms. Rose will contact you and mail the book directly to ya.
This give-away is open to the whole world, so, yay for everybody and thank you Terez Mertez Rose!
Here is a link to Amazon if you are too impatient for give-aways. There’s a kindle version as well as the paperback, and here is a Link to the book info on the author’s blog, and here’s a link to an excerpt from the prologue.

And let’s talk about the book: I really enjoyed it. It touches on a lot of interesting parts of the ballet world that don’t usually feature in ballet novels, such as the game of pursuing and securing wealthy patrons,
And the funny balance of power between performers and administration and how that power can change depending upon whether you are standing on one floor of the theater or another,
Plus a lot of interesting things outside ballet: violin people, there’s good stuff in here for you; San Francisco people, you too.
Plus there’s a version of one of my favorite things of all time: The Transformation. My fave is when The Transformation involves a hair cut a lá Roman Holiday or Girl On A Bridge, but in Off Balance there’s just No Time during the transformative moment it’s all go-go-go-get-to-the-party, which is exciting enough that I totally enjoyed it even without my beloved haircut moment.
Ok, the give-away is now open!
Thanks again Terez Rose, author and classical girl, and best of luck to all readers!

Posted in Books!, reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , | 42 Comments

Hey Mama, what’s in your dance bag?

Type: mother
description: The good news is she made it to class. The bad news is she brought the wrong bag. It’s a net win.

 

  1. The Plié Chassé Jeté All Day canvas tote from The Australian Ballet Shop. It’s not currently in stock, and to be real it’s a little oversized for a diaper bag, considering that mom types tend to carry many heavy items simultaneously such as bag, purse, and child. But it would be so cool as a diaper bag. 
  2. The Patemm changing pad, shop it here. I have this one, great gift from a great friend. It folds out to a circle, so it’s always right-side up. Brilliant! Mine is dots on orange with brown binding. I love it. It is well designed and beautiful and sturdy and a pleasure to look at. 
  3. Unscented baby-wipes, because the best fragrance is clean. 
  4. Honest sunscreen, website here, totally does not rub in all the way, but is all natural and stuff.
  5. Babiators. No really, I’m not making this up. A hilarious gift from a hilarious friend.
  6. Tiny socks
  7. Tiny shirt
  8. Tiny pants. I love it when baby clothes have pockets. What are they going to put in those baby pockets? Baby wallets? Bwah! 
  9. Not pictured: extra napkins from every restaurant, water bottle, sun hat for baby, sun hat for mama, business cards from businesses you’ll never employ but are too polite to refuse such as children’s hair salon, children’s portrait photographer, roller derby. 

This was inspired by a recent recycling rampage I had, where I tore out all the pages I liked from my giant stack of Pointe Magazines and then threw the empty magazine shells into the recycling bin, and noticed that the one feature I saved from every single issue was the What’s In Your Dance Bag page. That mess is always fascinating.
I’ll probably do some more of these.
Regarding the links: none of these are sponsored or affaliated or providing me with any compensation or money or anything, these are just things I like and use, with the exception of the Plié tote bag which is just a fantasy of mine as long as it remains out of stock.

Posted in ce n'est pas une mom blog, Drawings of great sillitude | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

Shave hair don’t care

  

Saw this girl in ballet class the other day. 

Pink tights, pink slippers, black leotard, black chiffon skirt, high ballerina bun. Totally classic ballet student look, except that half her head was shaved and then there’s the neck tattoo. 

I love you, Los Angeles. 

Posted in Drawings of great sillitude, OMG outfits you guys! | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments