Tomorrow is Studio Dress for Coppélia! I’ve written numerous posts on Studio Dress — you can read them if you want. Also, I wouldn’t really argue if you wanted to buy tickets for Coppélia.
I’m so excited. I spent a good part of this semester telling myself not to be nervous, reminding myself to enjoy my final months at Butler. The spring of my sophomore year, I was one of the Little Swans in the Butler Ballet’s Swan Lake. I was nervous all the time. I couldn’t eat without feeling sick to my stomach, and I had nightmares that one of the dance professors locked me in the smallest ballet studio in the basement and wouldn’t let me out because he wanted me to practice.
Even last year I was nervous for Sleeping Beauty far in advance of the actual shows because I found out I was the last minute understudy for Aurora and learned the whole ballet in about three days. I had a dream that I had to go in because my friend who actually dancing the role decided she didn’t want to do and it and was laughing at me from the wings while I tried to do the grand pas, only I decided to change the choreography at the last minute and didn’t tell my partner… This dream = a nightmare.
This year, I’ve thrown myself in the fun of the role. As I’ve said before, Swanhilda is a real girl, not some remote princess or swan maiden, which makes her more approachable. When I leave the stage angry, I play over dialogue in my head so if I have to enter slightly more cheerful, I know how I got there; if I am to be upset, I cover my face in my hands sometimes so the other dancers don’t see what weird faces I’m sure I’m making. Keeping track of the emotional story gives the dancing purpose and makes it fun.
I did have one dream where the dance faculty told everyone that due to copyright issues, we would be performing Dracula instead of Coppélia, and I had three weeks to learn everything. The subconscious is an amazing thing…
Yikes, this title is like the first second day post at the beginning of the semester.
It’s Monday, and I’m back at Butler after the busiest spring break I have known. I had a wonderful time, but I also didn’t sleep in past 8 o’clock at any point during my break.
- Sunday: Up early for church before the BalletMet audition
- Monday: Up waaaay early to catch a plane to Tulsa
- Tuesday: Up early to prepare for a company class with Tulsa Ballet
- Wednesday: Up waaaaaaaaaaay early to go to the airport. I was supposed to fly in to Richmond at midnight, but my flight was cancelled, so I had to stay overnight in a hotel near O’Hare. But I bought $10 worth of soft pretzels with the meal voucher the airline gave me… and got to visit my boyfriend for an hour or so, since he’s near Chicago.
- Thursday: Up early for a breakfast date.
- Friday: Up early for a coffee date.
- Saturday: Up early to get a plane back to Butler.
- Sunday: SLEEP IN TO 8:15!!! (before an audition in Cincinnati)
Now school has started, I can sleep in. Maybe…
So the last part of the last semester. Off with a boom and a bang, we are. Rehearsals, papers, HUGE papers, mini papers, ice cream dates, warm weather, picking up caps and gowns… Everything’s rushing in toward the close.
Also, I have a new phone and can do fancy things like send myself pictures of my sister's guinea pig.
Wow. This Midwinter Dance Festival has been amazing — the perfect way to say goodbye to a dance department tradition. As you probably know, I had the good fortune to perform Nacho Duato’s Por Vos Muero, set by guest Kevin Irving and rehearsal-managed by Butler professor Derek Reid. Dancing such a brilliantly inventive and detailed work was amazing. It feels weird to know I won’t be performing it again tonight or tomorrow.
Even in the studio, once we progressed further into the rehearsal process, dancing the piece became very emotional. I don’t mean emotional in the sense of getting choked up or anything terribly sappy, but each run required a complete commitment of focus and intention — and finally it stemmed from someplace authentic, rather than existing as superimposition. My goal now is to inject this type of artistic expression into the movement much, much earlier. Ideally, it happens right away. That’s what maturing as an artist is all about, I suppose.
Onstage, dancing for an audience? What a thrill. The audience, the lights… (The lighting throughout the show came courtesy of the talented Laura Glover.) After we finished, we shared a group hug. (Well, we has group hugs before each show as well.) Then we went down to the dressing rooms to change into street clothes and go home. How odd it was — I felt like surely I should be doing something else — perhaps still walking extremely slowly with a downcast focus or stepping in a stately back-driven pattern.
Then I saw my family, many of whom had come long distances to see me before I graduated. My grandparents, my parents, aunts, a sister, an uncle, cousin-in-law, cousins… We went to my apartment and sat and talked for about an hour after the show, just catching up. I love to hear others’ impressions of all the different pieces in the performance — and this program was supremely diverse, which was wonderful — but more than that, I relished the chance to leave performing mode gently, rather than in an abrupt see-ya-later-it’s-been-great departure.
I went to bed late (because it takes me a while to wind down after being onstage) and very, very happy.
The snow was falling in the extra large, soft flakes Tuesday morning, just in time to set the scene for Butler Ballet’s Midwinter Dance Festival. The Dance Department planned this on purpose, of course.
This marks production week for the Butler Ballet. Monday was a full run through in the dance studios, and Tuesday afternoon/Wednesday morning was spacing in costume onstage. Wednesday afternoon: Tech rehearsal. Thursday: Dress. Then opening night comes Friday, February 17 at 8 pm in Clowes Memorial Hall.
With each show I perform here, I feel more confident — not so much in the technical sense (though the hope is to improve there as well!), but because I feel more relaxed, more able to project an emotion, whether that be horror at the curse cast on baby Aurora or the regal poof! of the snow queen sweeping away the snowflakes, or simply the happiness of a peasant-type character. (There are aproximately five million peasants in Coppélia. I’m getting ready!)
Por Vos Muero‘s beginning section is rather emo in a way, and I love to watch the duets the most. To dance, though, my favorite is the middle group dance and three girls’ dance. The group dance is supposed to be a sort of social dance, and the three girls’ dance is quick and (when I jump in the air, shaking my head as wildly as I dare during my little solo) saturated with such gleeful abandon.
The moment before the music starts, I breath out and think about something silly my boyfriend told me about analytic chemistry, and I can’t stop the beginnings of a smile. Then the music starts and I’m swept away in the movement.
And… Just like an elementary school book report, I won’t tell you how the story ends. There’s also:
- Bournonville’s Flower Festival staged by Marek Cholewa — a demonstration of technically brilliant footwork. Bournonville offers one of the most playful permutations of classical ballet; I had to smile while watching it.
- A piece by visiting assistant professor Michael Johnson — with live music. Every time I see this piece, my brain starts firing away different memories or emotions. You’ll want to watch it more than once.
- A brand new, large-scale piece by professor Cynthia Pratt, with music by The Black Keys, detailing an argument between two lovers. The piece is narrative, funny, visually engaging, and a bit mischievous. My friend is the principle dancer, and I think she’s just the bee’s knees.
- Stephan Laurent’s Enigma Variations offers an object lesson in theme and variation choreography. With supremely inventive partnering and lifts, along with creative use of gesture, the piece leaves one still wondering at the end… *cue dramatic music* …perfectly fulfilling the implied promise of the title.
You’ll have to come see it for yourself!
The last second day! Okay, okay, I’ll stop with the count-downs. I wasn’t this nostalgic in high school as a senior. I think I feel closer to some of my friends here in college because I actually live with them, whereas high school’s senior year had me living with my family, attending half-days at my high school with my school friends, and dancing the rest of the day downtown with the Richmond Ballet. Not that I love my high-school-era friends any less. The schedule just didn’t exactly facilitate a lot of hanging out.
I’m busy at college, but I can work in my socializing with things like making dinner, cleaning, doing laundry — because I live with all my friends, who of course perform the same chores in the same space. I have a feeling this might be the biggest adjustment I’ll face when I leave school. Plus a more rigorous schedule. Plus, you know, the job thing.
However, what I might miss, high school seniors can surely anticipate. College is fun. As my Grandpa says, it’s the best time of your life, and everything goes downhill afterwards. Now I hope that isn’t quite true, but college has been very good to me. Commencement is in May. Yikes. We’ll both count down to ends of our senior years — and let’s hope we can find some excitement in what comes next!
Requisite graduation photo
This was the last first day of my undergraduate education. Except, as people have been quick to point out, there will be a last first day in January, a last first day in February, a last first Wednesday of the fourth month of study, etc.
Basically, I’m getting sentimental, but only a touch.
I had Teaching Analysis of the Classical Technique 2, ballet, rehearsal, and my senior essay class today. Besides catching up with friends after the winter break, the day was a whirlwind of learning choreography. Kevin Irving is currently at Butler University to set Nacho Duato’s Por Vos Muero for the Butler Ballet’s Midwinter Dance Festival, so the first day back in the dance department was full speed ahead as usual.
The Tulsa Ballet in Por Vos Muero
Then I had my Senior Essay class (soon to be renamed as “Advanced Academic Writing” which really sounds much more impressive) and dredged up the past with my BSI paper.
I should tell you more, but I’m ready to drop. Time to get ready for the last second day!
I’m sure I will spend much of this year falling further into sentimentality as the final months at Butler pass by. This Sunday marked the last pledge ceremony I will attend for the honorary dance fraternity, Sigma Rho Delta. After the ceremony, we all took pictures of families (as in social sororities — like Steph’s great depiction of the sweatpant family)… and we took one of the first (of many) senior photos.
However, with all the seniors posing for the photo, we needed a non-senior to take the photo. And it seemed as though none of the non-seniors were really interested. We came to the conclusion that we were horribly unloved and unappreciated. So dramatic.
Well, someone or two came over and obliged us by taking photos of us goofing around in a tree. We even obtained an overhead shot courtesy of a tall dancer on a tree branch.
I can tell this is going to be a period of ups and downs as I relish my final year of undergraduate study even as I bid it farewell. But enough sentimentality. I’m sure I will encounter enough emotion about being a senior as the year continues without encouraging the habit in October.