Daily Dance

There are some performances you feel like you could see over and over again, because the dancers made such a huge impression on you. You remember every moment, every movement. That’s how I feel about a video of Natalia Makarova performing the White Swan pas de deux from the second act of Swan Lake, that I watched for the first time a couple of days ago.

 

I hate adagio. Not because I don’t like to move slowly and elegantly to the beautiful and stately music that usually accompanies this exercise, but because I don’t have very high extension. I love taking class, but I usually hit a low point (no pun intended), at the end of barre and the beginning of center, when I know I’ll have to do some disappointing developpes. I try to stay positive and visualize a beautiful, high, correct extension to help me make the effort, but the reality is, my legs usually don’t make it to where I’d like them to go.

 

Evening classes have always been tricky for me. After 5:30, I can’t seem to muster the energy to dance that is so easy for me to access in the morning, and it can be really hard to get through class. It happened to me on Monday evening. I was already tired before class even started, and about halfway through barre, I even felt my eyes getting heavy. I thought about leaving before center, then during center, and before big jumps, but forced myself to keep going.

There’s nothing about ballet that isn’t personal. Everyone has a favorite way to warm up, a favorite teacher, a favorite time to take class, etc. After talking to a friend of mine before class last night, though, I really think that nothing is more personal than what we wear to class.

 

On Monday and Tuesday, I was lucky enough to film two rehearsals for Avi Scher & Dancers, a company headed by Avi Scher, an emerging young choreographer in New York City. I was especially excited because I would be filming Sara Mearns (a principal at NYCB) and Marcelo Gomes (a principal at ABT) rehearsing together for Utopia Variations, as well as Christian Tworzyanski, who’s in the corps at NYCB and Abi Stafford, who is a principal there, dancing in Inner Voice.

Like most dancers I know, I can’t stand watching myself on film. Really, I’m that slow? It’s not that I dance behind the music, but I never look quite sharp enough. Innately smooth, lyrical and calm, my natural movement quality works all right in adagio choreography, but if you ask me to “hit” a position I’ll probably “lightly tap on” it and then flow through to the next step.

But recently I’ve noticed this weakness improving. Surprisingly, it’s not due to more petite allegro; it’s because of hip hop. 

It seems like ballet dancers have been popping up in all kinds of fashion spreads these days! First we noticed a few of ABT's most beautiful men in the February issue of Elle magazine, lounging at the ABT studios with model Nataša Vojnović (and some JKO School students). Then New York City Ballet soloist Ellen Bar appeared in a gorgeous gown in J. Crew's March catalogue.

This week, I was lucky enough to be able to take a class taught by Susan Jaffe, a former principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre.  I wasn’t really sure what to expect, since I’ve taken class with famous dancers before, and been very disappointed by how little of their own sense of artistry they communicated to the students.  Sometimes, although they are or were great dancers themselves, they were at a loss about how to really teach a student to do something that came so naturally, and beautifully, to them.

 

Have you ever had a moment of epiphany while watching a dance group perform--a realization that if you were a professional dancer, you'd want to make that company your home? Because that's exactly what happened to me last night at The Joyce Theater. As I witnessed the awesomely versatile members of the Lyon Opera Ballet tackle three wildly different stylistic worlds--those of Merce Cunningham, William Forsythe, and Maguy Marin--I couldn't help but think, I wish I were up there with them.