Rehearsals are potentially more fun than should be allowed on a job! These girls (and Mark) make rehearsals a joy.
Garland Girls rehearsing their dance "Myth" with Madame. It is during this dance that they flatter Alaina....
These girls played the villains this year! They were stretched by learning to act stoic, expending surprising amounts of energy in "flattering" the main character, dancing to very sharp beats that require perfect unity, tons of jumping and thigh work-outs, and the four on the right had a complicated measure to learn for the end of the dance where they performed 5 3rd arabesques, 3 2nd arabesques, and 4 4th arabesques in the finale of "The Voice." I'm proud of you, girls!
It's the end of the year, and that brings sadness and parties. The Cast Party is Tuesday, and it is our last hurrah as we head off into vacation and soon another year with different challenges, stories, dancers, music, choreography, and rhythms of ballet class. As classes, we fall into certain beats... the way of that class... and after the year ends and those specific girls break up and some leave, some join, and some move to higher levels... that rhythm can never be recovered. That's what I'm thinking of as the year ends.
I see how my beautiful girls have grown and stepped up to the challenges set before them. It's one of the most rewarding parts of the job to see girls reach a goal I've set before them. I'm already thinking about how I can grow specific girls or classes next year, knowing that this year I pushed them more in acting, or more in choreography, or more in teamwork, and I'm excited to dig into next year and see some of those challenges become realities within the class.
Yesterday marks the first piece of choreography completely learned! Willow, who plays Cassandra, finished learning the piece called her "mirror dance." There is a huge feeling of relief in me that says, "ok, at least one thing turned out!"
Today I start rehearsals with the adults and guest dancers on the Demons dance, the "trio" (which now has 5 dancers), and one Guest Dancer's solo to "The Rehearsal" from The King's Speech. I love that music! It's going to be SO fun to work with all of the adults today. It's just such a different experience. I'm very much a kids person and I rarely get truly tired of kids, but working with the adults really tests me. I have to have a lot ready because they can take a lot. They're constantly looking at me like, "okay, fantastic - what's next?" And I love that!
There is a new Guest Dancer this year, in addition to the two I worked with last year. I'm excited to meet her.
Ballet has become somewhat overwhelming as all of these new classes hit me over the head. I also had a really bad ingrown toenail that I had to shuffle classes to take care of on Tuesday. Both my big toes are all bandaged up and I'm not too excited about going up on releve today. Apparently this can happen to dancers a lot, and I'm counting my blessings that I never intended to go pro: I just have to dance enough to teach and to enjoy it myself. I know enough about the real life of real ballerinas to never want to be one, even if I was good enough (which I'm not). You have to be pretty much perfect to be a pro ballerina,and I'm not exaggerating.
I think it's always been the teaching that I love. Ballet is more of a hobby than a true love. What I love is working with the kids and telling a story through the movements. I suppose that's why I break a lot of rules - but that's why my choreography is unique! For instance, if you watch the earth dancers from last year, you'll notice that I threw out most of classical ballet's customs at the premise; it was very modern, and quite on purpose. I felt that told the story better than curved arms and standing in "curtsy position" (or "B plus"). I had them walk straight on and stand with feet parallel. Their acting accompanied the straight arms and the harsh, repetitive movements: I instructed them to just leave all emotion off their faces. Be stoic. The music had an African feel. What I was saying about the earth: it is hard and it does not care that it is marched over or that people carve into it. But from this hard foundation comes beautiful life: ie, the trees and plants, or the fact that the dance is still beautiful. I also wanted only 4 dancers: there are 4 hemispheres and 4 directions (North, South, East, West).
I'd best get moving if I want to write before classes! Maybe some of you don't know, but I just finished my first book in December, a fantasy novel, and I'm in the process of editing it. I've worked on it for 5 years, with a break for the last two ballet performances, so I'm still kind of in awe that I finally finished it! :) Horray!
I just finished mapping out the acting for the Messenger Faeries today. I begin working with these two slightly silly faeries next week on Tuesdays. These are the faeries who make sure everyone's where they're supposed to be on time. When someone new enters the faery wood, they tell the different groups of faeries, who then come and dance for the new arrival. They try to make heads-and-tails of the paperwork they wrote in their own shorthand (which is very scribbly) and are rather intimidated by a few special guests that come to welcome the sisters!
As you all know, I had to cancel ballet yesterday because it was too cold (AGAIN!?!).
Instead of normal classes, I taught Callie one of her extra classes (her family had my brother at their house and had to bring him home, anyway). When we came inside after class, there were three huge boxes in the kitchen! It was so great to have Callie, Elaina, and Paula over to experience that exciting moment with my sister Anna and I!
We pulled out different costumes and "ooo"ed and "aww"ed over every one! Seriously, I just LOVE Curtain Call Costumes. I found them last year when I was searching desperately for a Dryad costume (as the deadline approached nearer and nearer). To my surprise, their costumes arrived in COSTUME BAGS. (who does that?) And they were high-quality, tend to be on the modest side, and arrived early both then and this year!
I've got one last group of costumes coming in from another company, and they're on backorder (again), so that's nervewracking. UGG. I hate it when I order costumes from a costume company and then sit on backorder for months and months. This is why I try to order earlier and earlier each year. Technically, I could order Jan 1, have them here by March 1, and take pictures the second week or so. But since I sit on backorder forever, I have to get them in early to be sure I have them by the performance, at least!
If there had been enough different, pretty, modest costumes from Curtain Call, I would have ordered from them for that class as well, but I'd already used their 7 best costumes. :) And I really like the one I ordered from them. I just hope it gets here in time.
One thing I love to death about Curtain Call is the texture in their costumes. They aren't afraid to go big, or to put things slantwise or in multiple layers. The Imperial Guards costumes have 3 different colors of tulle under the heavy, embroidered layer of their poofy skirts! And seeing the multiple colors through the top layer is what gives it such originality!
I'm back from Florida. I had a fantastic time. I swam in the pool, laid on the white sand beach, ate chocolate from The Chocolate Strawberry, read The Hobbit: Official Movie Guide, went on bike rides, read poetry, and generally did my best to just enjoy myself. :) Kind of rare that an opportunity to JUST enjoy yourself comes along. I tend to want to work right through vacations; sometimes it's hard to shut off. I've gotten so much better at learning to relax when the time comes to relax since last year this time, praise the Lord for that. "There is a time to work, and a time to rest" (Ecc. 3). I write about that a fair bit on my personal blog, www.joybetweenhispaws.weebly.com.
For more pictures of Florida, I refer you to my personal blog.
I am gearing up for my busiest two months of the school year. In February and March, I will have class 4 days a week instead of 2. Besides my regular Monday afternoon-evening and Thursday evening classes, I'll have extra classes for about 2 hours on Tues afternoon and 3-4 hours Friday afternoon-evening. Gets kind of busy, and also kind of confusing, as I will be teaching... let's see... 11 dances at once, plus learning my own, plus the Climax Scenes, which are a big mish-mash of acting and dancing. This is the part where last year I had headaches every day and I felt like bits of choreography were falling out of the back of my brain. I choreographed some pieces 4 times because I would FORGET the choreography! I was trying to remember approximately double what I am this year.
I thought this was so adorable.... I overheard these snatches of conversation last week at Monday classes.
Lydia: "Do you know Willow?"
Callie: "She's gonna be my big sister in the play!"
Lydia: "Oh yeah! I LOVE the name Cassandra!"
Willow plays the Older Sister "Cassandra."
There is a GORGEOUS picture of her on my personal facebook, by the way. I'm Joy Wieters on Facebook. I haven't yet figured out how to share it as Heart to Toe Studios. Anyway, the picture is by a friend of Willow's Mom and it's of her doing an arabesque under a streetlight in a perfect snowfall. LOVE it. :)
The costumes are shipping out on Monday! Horray! :) I'm so excited to get them and see them. I'll have to post some iPod pictures of when they arrive! :) Unfortunately, I won't get to see them until NEXT Monday. Not-so-unfortunately, that is because I am going to Florida!!! I will be gone from this Tuesday to next Sunday, staying with grandparents, my Mom, and some siblings for a fun vacation. Very excited!
I'm planning to take my books, swimsuit, sunglasses, and not too much else, so don't expect much in the way of posts from me! :)
St. Cloud classes, don't forget that there's no class next week!