Friday, January 18, 2008

is age only a state of mind?

Warning: this post kind of goes on and on about nothing really, but it's just me thinking out can ignore me :)

For the past 2 days I've been doing a workshop with the company I was understudying with last week, and instead of standing in the back trying to learn choreography by staying out of the way, this week I actually get to dance. A LOT.

We've had a short contemporary barre/center before learning repertoire, and I really like the alternative way of taking class. It's very different from a traditional ballet barre (specifically in the music, which is WAY more fun than the overly-familiar melodies of the classics). She has a lot of emphasis on moving really big and feeling the movement through your body.

Class itself is defintely a challenege because after years of doing tendus, your brain goes a bit on auto pilot...even though I constantly feel a struggle in turning out and pointing my feet in an easy tendu combination, there's still a level of monotony. With this kind of class the combinations of familiar exercises are different, and different parts of the body are used (the head, deep in the lower back).

Moving on to the rehearsal aspect of the workshop, we've learned a long exercept from a piece her company has done and it's all taught really really fast. Then we put it all together and do it in different small groups a few times before learning more. Again since some of the movement and style is foreign to my ballet brainwashed body it's tough to pick up all the nuances of the choreography. It's great though! And since there's only 9 of us in the workshop (3 are in the company, the rest are other dances from various places in the city...all of whom are at least 4 or 5 years older than me...) the teacher can really see us...

After we put together 3 or 4 sections of the long work, the teacher (who is wonderful, by the way) stopped after me and another girl did it as a group and said she wanted us to go deeper inside to feel it. She proceeded to give me an excellent, lengthy "lecture" (it wasn't really a lecture but...) on how it's important to FEEL the movement and show it, especially through your face. She complimented me a bit but said that I AM young, and I haven't really 'suffered' (which got a laugh from the others) but that that comes with age.

It was a very inspiring speech because to this point being drilled into ballet land nobody has asked me to actually FEEL anything while dancing. Besides 1 teacher in particular, they demand turnout, feet, etc etc, but not that you really reach inside and express it through your face. Isn't expressing emotion through movement was dance is really all about? I was really thankful she took the time to say this all during the middle of rehearsal because it made me think.

Isn't it ironic that one of the major values of ballet, youth, is the same thing that causes a disadvantage in modern/contemporary dance?

In recent years I have been reminded time and time again that "a ballet career is short" and if "you're not in a company by the time you're 18 then it's not worth it" and, particularly in my last year of real pre-pro training, being made to feel as if I'm too old for a career since my body won't allow for the level of technique necessary or whatever. And now, not just in this one instance, but a few times recently, my 'young' age has cropped up as a (minor) issue.

Is age really a state of mind or a number or a level of experience or what?

All of this comes just a week before I graduate from college at age 19. I'm starting to think that I've overcompensated in my real-world life for not being a ballet prodigy child, and now it's coming back to bite me. Or confuse me.

Anyway, all in good spirits. I'm exhausted from rehearsal, but I'm off to class tonight as always, followed by our Friday night rehearsal thing. Hopefully tonight we're going to start the Rose Adagio for the student showcase thing. If I can muster the energy ;)

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