Rock School Summer Intensive Part II

So week one is complete and week two has begun. Here is what I have to share.

Week one had a rough end, I’m not going to lie. Wednesday was filled with good teachers and I had partnering, which I always enjoy. It’s just a nice variation from everyday dancing. Thursday was when I started to feel not great because I didn’t feel I had worked very hard in class. Friday and Saturday were good classes, but the days themselves were pretty bad. I won’t go into detail, but those days showed me things can go wrong despite your best effort and you just have to brush off and get back up.

I will say I have high hopes for week two after seeing how today went. The morning started with a refreshing class after a lazy weekend. The afternoon followed with class from Bo, the school’s artistic director. Not only was his class a nice pace, but the combinations were different and challenging. Another huge pick me up was definitely Bo complimenting my weak point, my turns. After those technique classes I had a pointe class that went back to the basics. I didn’t love the class itself, but glad I had it because it forced me to work out kinks. Like medicine, it doesn’t taste good, but it’s good for ya.

I’m looking forward to the last four days that come with this intensive. I know this post is brief, but I’ll be back Friday with one last post on the Rock.

Seniority or Merit?

Piggy backing off of my last post with casting, I’m going into the debate of seniority or talent. It is a well-known issue on whether the oldest people with the most experience get the coveted role/position or do the most talented. This occurs not only in ballet, but everything such as school sports or who to hire for a job. I’ll give my stance on each side and hopefully you’ll comment your thoughts below.

Let’s start with why seniority should get the best part. Seniority has (to go with the classic argument) been there the longest. The people of seniority have waited their turn and now they deserve their chance. It isn’t fair to let someone younger get the better role if they’re brand new after you have been waiting years to get the better role. Another reason to choose seniority is that eliminates the chances for favoritism. You wouldn’t want the same talented person getting the good roles year after year.

Now let’s think about why the more talented person should get the role. The first reason to choose the more talented person is that it motivates. If you have to be the best for the reward, you will work harder to get there because you have incentive. Another reason why the talented should get a better part is that it may give the best product in the end. With the best person performing the role it will result in the best performance.

Overall, I prefer rewarding merit with better roles over rewarding seniority because it pushes people to work a little harder. I think both sides have their benefits and downfalls. Sorry the post is so short, but be sure to check back next week and let me know what you think down below, seniority or merit?

Reality of Casting

Today, I’m discussing the realities of casting. While it would be nice to think casting goes to who truly deserves it, that isn’t always the case. There are so many factors that play into casting that it can sometimes be a struggle when it goes an unwanted way. Some factors that play into casting beyond talent are schedules, seniority, and sizing.

The first way casting can go, is that you aren’t cast at all. This can be very upsetting, but you just have to keep a positive outlook. As said before there is a lot that can go into casting, beyond who is technically best for a role. All you can really do after not being cast is get back up and better yourself, so you’ll get the next part.

Another way casting can go is being cast, but it in a role you don’t care for. I think everyone experiences this at least once in their dance career and it can be very hard to handle. The first thing I have to say about being in this scenario is it is out of your hands. Ultimately we have no input in casting and it is what the caster sees fit and best for whatever the casting is for. As dancers we are under the director’s (or whatever other position’s) control and we need to respect their decision even if it upsets us. The other thing I have to say about getting a role you don’t like, is be grateful you got one. Even if it isn’t your ideal role, you should be happy you have one at all.

The final way casting can go, is getting the role you want. Even when you get the role you wanted, there are things to remember. The number one thing to remember is to be humble, especially if it is a major role. You should be happy you received that casting, but not so over the top about it that you put down peers. The other thing to remember is that now that you have the casting you worked for, you must continue to work to keep it. Just because you received a role, doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to perform it if you slack off upon receiving it.

Overall casting can be either very upsetting or very exciting and no matter which way it goes you need to do three things. First, keep a positive out look on the scenario no matter how cheesy that may sound. Second, always keep working, whether it’s to keep what you have or to advance to better casting. Lastly, remember it is out of our hand. Casting can go anyway depending on many things, so keep that in mind.

I hope this article helps dealing with casting struggles and be sure to check back for another post on Monday!

The Balancing Act

Today is all about balance, not only in ballet, but with school and ballet. To me there is a triangle of ballet, school, and sleep. All of those things are really important, but it’s really hard to have them all. While I don’t always balance these things, I do have some tips on how to get there.

  1. Manage Your Time

This is harder than it sounds, but try to plan out way ahead of something. Being a dancer takes time, so figuring out when you will get school stuff done is essential. It will be hard to do this in the start, but once you get into the habit of planning out your school life with your ballet life, it will get easier.

2. Learn to Say No

I myself struggle with this, but it is necessary with tight schedules. Whether it is deciding to take an easier class or saying you can’t do that optional piece, know your limits. Yes, you want to challenge and push yourself in school and dance, but if it’s too much then it’s counterproductive.

3. Ask for Help

If you need help, don’t be afraid to ask. Go to your teachers and ask for help with those harder questions and material. You have nothing to lose and it can only make your life easier if you understand things better.

4. Routine

Getting into a routine will make it easier to get things done. If you have a routine it helps you know what you need to do next and makes it harder for you to get distracted and procrastinate.

5. Sacrifice for Sleep

Final tip, forget the rest and get some sleep. Above all else you need to feel rested and healthy, so once in a while (not everyday) just tell yourself this one homework assignment doesn’t matter or I can skip strengthening for one night.

None of these tips are easy to do right away and it takes time to get used to it, but once you have them down it makes merging ballet and school just a little bit easier. I know I definitely struggle to say no and I struggle to just set everything else down and go to bed, but once you do it, you won’t regret it!

You Are What You Eat?

There is a quote that goes “First we eat then we do everything else.” by M.F.K Fisher. I feel that this quote is true and that sometimes ballet dancers and everyone else should be reminded of it.

To me this quote says that we are fueled by our food and must eat to fill the tank before we start the day. This is a good way to see our relationship with food if you ask me. Food is what fuels us and gets us ready for the day and keeps us running through it. Of course there are other things food can serve as, but that is a different conversation.

I feel like society and young dancers especially think they need to eat for the body they want instead of eating to fuel the body they have. This notion of eating a certain way for a certain body type is definitely an impression given to dancers by society.

I remember I was at a party and wasn’t eating much because I wasn’t hungry, but someone there made a comment along the lines of “Trying to keep your ballet figure?”. I’ve also come across an Instagram account where the girl shares what little she eats and the captions consist of how she is thinks is overweight at 110 lbs. She believes she must be skinnier for ballet. It’s upsetting to see this girl keep from eating and have people make comments like the one from above.

My point in sharing this is just to give a friendly reminder that we shouldn’t eat a certain way in hope to obtain a different figure. Instead, we should eat to take care of our body and give it the fuel for those long days at the studio.

Beyond eating enough, we need to eat the right things. Obviously you shouldn’t just eat brownies and tacos, but you also don’t have to avoid them entirely. We can eat those things and others while being healthy as long as we eat the proper portions.

Overall my advice is to most importantly, eat enough and secondly eat what you want in moderation. Food is your fuel not your fattener and sometimes we forget it in the slim world of ballet. We are hard-working athletes that need energy, so let’s eat up!

I hope you found this post helpful and check back next week for another post!

 

Flexibility

Talking about a topic that I relate to a little too well, lack of flexibility.

We all at some point in our dancing careers lacked flexibility (unless you were lucky enough to be born with it) and I think we can all agree it sucks. While flexibility is such a vital part of dancing, I think it isn’t being seen something it isn’t. It has become another way for dancers to compare themselves with one another and to self depreciate. Through social media revealing only the most flexible people on the popular accounts, the common dancer feels lesser.

Processed with VSCO with b1 preset

My right side splits.

I personally have struggled with flexibility my whole life. It has definitely made me feel bad about myself as a dancer that despite how much I work to be flexible I could only get my rights side splits in the last year. I constantly stretch, but my body just isn’t built that way. It was and still is hard for me to see more flexible people praised and put first because their bodies were capable of what mine was not.

Processed with VSCO with b1 preset

My left side (almost) splits.

I’m not saying flexibility shouldn’t be such a big part of ballet, but I do think it should be looked at differently. Everyone should continue to work towards those oversplits because it does matter in the dance world. You should always be stretching to get those better lines, but you shouldn’t feel bad that your body isn’t as flexible as someone else’s.

Processed with VSCO with b1 preset

Middle splits

Processed with VSCO with b1 preset

Middle splits

To put it short, I just want dancers out there to know that you are not a lesser dancer for being less flexible.Don’t beat yourself up about flexibility like I did, but work hard instead to achieve it. Lacking flexibility doesn’t take away from you dancing, it’s just that having it can add to you dancing.

I hope you enjoyed this post, feel a little more comfortable in your skin, and keep working to gain flexibility! Stay tuned for a new series of posts on ballet shoes starting Monday and remember to follow below.

 

Summer Intensive Reality

          Summer intensives, one of the most exciting things to do as a young dancer. You get to experience new schools, teachers, styles, choreography, and cities. It is a great way to make new connections in the world of ballet and is a priceless experience you will cherish even after you have finished dancing. In honor of auditions for the tremendous programs beginning I thought it would be only right to talk about theses programs in a more honest tone. While I most definitely agree with what was said at the beginning of this post, there is so much more to summer intensives that are not discussed. Let’s start with the obvious, pressure. There is immense pressure to go to these programs, especially if you want to dance professionally. With ballet becoming increasingly more competitive it is seen that attending summer programs is a must. It is true that you should continue to train in the summer, so you don’t lose what you have worked so hard to achieve, but are big name programs essential. I know from my own personal experience that it feels as if you’re even less likely to make it as a dancer if you don’t attend one of these programs. That just isn’t right. As a young teenager, no one should feel as if they need to attend a program once a year because their future depends on it.
          The second reason why summer intensives are just plain stressful, cost. The cost of these programs is overwhelming. It gives me anxiety to think that for me to attend one of the smaller lesser known intensives it would still cost up to over a thousand dollars to have decent summer training. Yes, scholarships are offered, but that only covers tuition and not the most expensive aspect, room and board. Scholarships are also very scarce making it not even a factor for dancers like me. I work my butt off to be where I am as a dancer and I do well, but I know that I am not the best and I know it is unlikely I will receive a scholarship. Whether scholarships are based off of merit or financial aid, it is unlikely you will receive one that can help you out the way you may need. In addition there are an abundance of other expenses. You must pay for pointe shoes, audition fees, travel, and activity fees for whatever intensive you choose. Some may wonder why you don’t just get a job to pay for it, but that is just near impossible. As ballet dancers, we spend all of our time dancing and have no time to work. The stress of money is extreme unless you are very wealthy or one of the lucky few that get a scholarship.
         Don’t get me wrong I love summer intensives. Some of my most cherished ballet memories have happened at summer intensives. They have provided me with new views and appreciations for the art form. It has been at summer intensives, that I have had ah-ha moments about my ballet career. I just want people that can’t go and feel like they are the only ones, to know that they aren’t. This year I will probably do a very small program because I just can’t afford to go to a bigger program this year. That isn’t the ideal situation, but that is real life because not all of us are the next Dusty Button or can afford it. So if you feel defeated or frustrated about summer intensives this year, for any reason, know that you are in the majority and there are other people going through it too despite what you see on media. Keep working and giving your best effort because that is what will really help you succeed.
P.S.
This is not a bash on summer intensives, just an honest perspective on them. If you can go to one this summer, congratulations and have fun!