As I’ve mention I’m in Alabama at Huntsville Ballet this week Guest teaching for my good friends Phil and Rachel Otto. Also here teaching this week is a wonderful dancer
(St. Louis Ballet) and former student, Lori Wilson. Thought it would be fun to have Lori do a couple of articles as my newest “Guest Blogger”.
Please enjoy the first of her articles below
My Best- The Traveling Ballet Master
Title: Ahhhh Nostalgia…. You are officially kicking me in the Ass.
But before that, I was a student, aged 15, dying to dance at the Rock School for Dance Education’s Summer Intensive. So I head to the audition without having any breakfast. I was just too nervous. I spent the next two hours with a hungry, nervous stomach- not a good mix for taking a cardio ballet class! Finally we get to the final combination across the room and I think “ahhh, relief” because so far, the audition went pretty well. And then Chris says, “chase entrelace…” and continues describing the combination. WHAT?! Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. Luckily I saw a girl in the corner practicing the step (basically a big jump) and realized I just knew it by another name. “Phew!” Thankfully I was invited to the Rock School that summer and the two following summers. After two years training with Christopher year round, too many recommendations from him to count, and a solo from him to call my own (performed at a competition) I GOT A JOB!!! (Thank you Chris).
Currently, I’m teaching with Christopher at Huntsville Ballet’s summer intensive directed by Philip Otto and Rachel Butler. Sunday Rachel and Christopher picked me up at the airport. We got to Phil and Rachel’s and made (yes, MADE) some sushi. Well, Chris made sushi, while Rachel and I ate it. While we were chatting, I, idiotically, mentioned maybe Chris putting me in his piece he would set for his advanced choreography class. WHAT WAS I THINKING?! And now, I’m getting my ass kicked in his rehearsals all over again. (Which, I must note, I totally love.) These rehearsals bring me back to summers spent dancing to Smash Mouth’s “All Star” and that song from some Pixar movie “Move It”, you know the one, “I like to move it move it, I like to move it move it…”. Every time I hear “Footloose” or “Viva Las Vegas” coming out of the speakers, I remember past pieces Chris choreographed during the years he worked with me. However, 22 is no longer 15, and my body may not be as happy with me. Although I dance about 5-6 hours Monday-Saturday during the season, there’s something particularly exhausting about Chris’s rehearsal after a day of teaching ballet to the little kiddos. Today, I taught the advanced master class and gave the kids a break with some yoga and stretching and a quick warm-up before Chris’s rehearsal.
So here is what happened… Chris enters. We walk through his piece with music.
Chris says something like, “Let’s start from here, just MARK”. (Meaning just go through the movements easily, don’t strain yourself because we would do the piece full out soon enough) My thoughts “Uh-Oh”.
I remember specific rehearsals with Chris, and he doesn’t baby anyone, no matter who they are. And if you didn’t mark CORRECTLY, boy were you in trouble. Marking correctly consists of: traveling to where you need to be when you are dancing full out, being on time with the music, and making the step decently recognizable. Namely, don’t just think the steps in your head and kind of move (which the kids sort of did). So, we danced full out, from the same spot, about 4 times! (Think about the hardest your heart has beat while working out and multiply by 2, Yup, that’s how I felt!) My thoughts… “(Heavy breathing) it’s good for me, it’s good for me, it’s good for me”, and it really is.
Although I’m pretty tired there’s something so very rewarding about all of the deep hurt, muscle throbs, knots and stiffness that all takes me back to the summers spent performing and rehearsing the Traveling Ballet Master’s pieces. So thank you nostalgia, you are kicking me in the ass.