The Born-Again Balletomane's Blog

Just another WordPress.com site about the love of ballet

A little OT June 15, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — theworstat @ 8:53 pm

I’m trying everything to break in a pair of Capezio Arias.  They were gifted to me a long time ago, as were a pair of Bloch Eurostretch shoes.  I am working out at home and feel ready to do some simple pointe exercises at the barre (which is as far as I’ll go without a teacher present), so I took these shoes out of storage and tried to break them in.  Crikey, almost broke my feet.  They are SO frickin’ hard, and as square as the box is (I believe it may be the squarest box of any stock pointe shoe — at least it’s the squarest I’ve ever seen), there’s still a nasty little taper on the inside of the box that kills my big toe.  Told you I had duck feet!

So I’ve been going after it with rubbing alcohol, then gave up on that and poured water on the box (not a good idea with Capezio, I guess — it stained), and then started hammering.  Since I’m not doing much with pointe and these shoes were a gift (and they’re definitely not anything I’d use in a real class), I’m determined to use them for my first stabs at going back on pointe.  But they seem to be made out of concrete, and they seem to want to stay that way.

The Eurostretch shoes are quite another story — so soft and sweet that they feel like bedroom slippers.  They fit like they were made for me.  But I’m saving them for when I can actually take a real pointe class.  They’re too nice to beat up on at home.

Has anyone any breaking-in techniques for the Arias that I haven’t tried?  Jeez…..

Update: got ’em up and running, finally, after about 5 tries.  Dousing them with water again and hammering INSIDE the box did it (thankfully I already owned a small, heavy hammer).  I very much doubt that if I were a person who used lots of pointe shoes, I’d choose this model.  Too much work to get them in shape.

Advertisements
 

Interesting words about corps work

Filed under: Uncategorized — theworstat @ 4:53 pm

A 2015 video from the Royal Ballet about rehearsing and performing Swan Lake.  I chose this video because of some very interesting words about corps work, and corps dancers.  You seldom see that level of respect shown to corps dancers.  Considering how hard it is to get into a major ballet company at all, I think that needs to change.  Once the kids reach the corps, it’s a mark that they are already great (or at least very above-average) dancers.

Royal Ballet Swan Lake

 

The tattooed dancer June 11, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — theworstat @ 5:55 pm

My new YouTube favorite, Salty Sugar Plum, uploaded a video on the subject of tattoos and other body decorations on dancers.

First let me get one thing out of the way: this will not be an attack on Millennials.  The issue of piercings goes back at least two faux generations (for those determined to segregate populations by these false “generations,” this includes Millennials, GenX and possibly Generation Jones and the Baby Boomers before them).  Piercing became commonplace, albeit in earlobes only, at least 50 years ago if not longer.  Tattoo mania spans back to the 1980s.

The only difference is that nowadays, tattoos and piercings are accepted in many work environments.  It used to be that you were counseled to hide your tattoos with clothing and makeup, and to remove your nose ring (or any other facial piercing) before going on an interview.  That still happens, but is not a complete and absolute rule anymore.

Which brings us to ballet, where it still is a rule.  Salty Sugar Plum believes this is a very bad thing, because art.

I halfheartedly agree.  Reason: yes, you can cover your tattoos with makeup.  Yes, you can remove most visible piercings.  Of course piercings and tattoos should not be used as excuses not to hire a talented dancer.  Of course what you look like on the outside does not automatically indicate who you are on the inside.  The last argument has been heard since the 1960’s, and had its start with a very serious issue: racism.

And here’s where I split from SSP: I believe this entire issue of self-adornment is not especially worthy of Martin Luther King’s “judge by the content of character, not the color of skin” maxim.  Self-adornment is a choice, after all.

Ballet dancers make a choice to look like all other ballet dancers when they enter the corps of a company.  Therefore, even though they should be hired no matter what adornments they prefer, perhaps it’s wise to minimize the impact of personal adornments while trying to get the job in the corps.  This might help emphasize that you’re aware that if/when you are playing the role of a Wili, she probably will not be tattooed, pierced, and distinguishable from the rest of the Wilis.  (Come to think of it, Wilis are pretty hard-core, anyway; they don’t need tattoos and piercings to prove it.  Hanging around in deep nighttime forests dancing stray males to death…well, it isn’t for everyone.)

And it isn’t just ballet that imposes strict rules about how you can look.  I have a friend who is in nursing school and recently had to dye her pink hair ordinary blond in order to get a job in a hospital.  When I was working as a cook, nail polish and jewelry were forbidden.  You even had to watch how long your sleeves were.  And you had to cover your hair with an ugly net.

The thing is that ballet, as life, is full of rules and norms.  Sometimes it’s better not to push your point just for vanity’s sake, or for ‘art.’  There’s a saying I honestly hate, but in this case it’s true: “it is what it is.”  Accept it and concentrate on your dancing.

 

 

Kremlin Ballet June 1, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — theworstat @ 3:31 am

This is a documentary/reality series from RT.  This particular video features the Kremlin Ballet.  Thought it was interesting.

RT Series

 

The Old American Ballet Theater School April 20, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — theworstat @ 12:19 pm

This 60 Minutes report is from the mid-1970’s.  These kids were my generation.  You will see that there is no comparison between their dancing and the dancing of advanced-level kids today.  Nowadays none of the kids in the video would be placed in a class beyond intermediate level; in fact, it’s likely that few or none of them would be accepted into a elite academy at all.

Also note the differences in acceptable extensions (nobody in the video has an extension beyond 90 degrees — imagine trying to get into a prestigious academy today without being able to kick your left ear with your right foot!), and look at the brief segment where a girl is dancing on pointe.  This particular girl had thick ankles and weak feet that wouldn’t impress anyone today, but look at those SHOES!  I see those and remember all sorts of pain.  Pointe shoes these days still aren’t fun to wear, but back in the day they were sheer hell.

As I remember, ABT wasn’t good about hiring graduates from its own school.  As a result, the school died under a decade after this video was made.  I think all told it existed less than 20 years, but I may be wrong.

However, in its day it was quite the accomplishment to be accepted into the school; it really had prestige.  I remember seeing ads for auditions for the school and drooling.  Of course, I never got anywhere near there.

I think part of the problem may have been that they were taking kids from here, there and everywhere into the advanced class .  I don’t recall if the ABT school had a lower division during these years, but I don’t think it did.  It was basically a finishing school, and they were trying to polish coal into diamonds by taking in a barely-prepared mishmash of kids from around the country and trying to quickly force-feed them some advanced ballet tricks before the clock ran out and they had to start their careers (or more likely, quit).  Since the kids were already in their mid-teens, there was no time to start over from day one.  Plus there was no curriculum to start over with, even if they’d had a junior division.

Of course the end product wasn’t great.  A few stars emerged from the school, such as Fernando Bujones, but the majority of ABT’s dancers came from elsewhere.  The result was a scatterbrained corps that the acid-tongued critic Arlene Croce said had “jelly thighs.”  It was also the place where the careers of U.S.-born and bred dancers went to die.

Things are much better now.

P.S. I should add that there was in fact a cathedral of ballet training in the U.S. in those days, a school that produced dancers who were sought-after not only by a major company, but around the country.  It was the NYCB School.

 

Some interesting words April 16, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — theworstat @ 7:49 pm

An article about the demise of ANB and its devastating effect on the dancers.  There’s an interesting tidbit about use of social media in here too.

Pointe Magazine

 

Note about JW April 3, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — theworstat @ 1:34 am

Her photo is finally up on the Universal Ballet’s website; she is indeed a principal.  Thank goodness they did not use that awful Vampira portrait that she used when with the Kremlin Ballet; however, this one has a very strange and somewhat unsettling depiction of the musculature in her back.

Anyway, she’s finally there.