Saturday, May 7, 2011

Have a Cigar.... senior thoughts

"Have a Cigar" -- Pink Floyd

Wow, this week has been crazy.  Rehearsals, second-to-last week of school (yeah seniors 11 !!!), senior outings, zumba, and unfortunately being sick during all of this.  I actually feel waaaay better right now, and I'm not any meds at the moment!  Double-yay!  I do however feel extremely sorry for all of the kids here.  I managed to get my partner, my partner's parter(s), and two other girls sick.  Ouch.  I am so incredible sorry to these people.  Hopefully maybe it wasn't me, and it was a different virus going around.  Oh yeah, that's right, I have a virus.  Doc tested me for strep, and then she thought I had mono, so she did the whole finger-prick thing, and I was tested negative.  yay!!!

As a member of National Honors Society, we celebrated Teacher Appreciation Week by gathering all the students into one of the studios and giving the teacher's chocolate-covered pretzels.  As president, I also had to make the "speech".  I ended up improving it, and it didn't come out as well as I had wanted it to.  When I was speaking, I was especially addressing one of the teachers in particular (will leave her name out) whom I really appreciate.  She is the most dedicated teacher I have ever had the privilege of learning from.  Sometimes her class is very frustrating because she is so demanding and so technical.

In the end however, I've realized how important it is for a teacher to not lower his/her standards and to be challenging.  I could be wrong, but I think that perhaps the reason why she is so dedicated is not because she cares about us, but because she cares about the ballet art form.  Don't get me wrong, I know she does care about us, but the main reason why she is so demanding and critical is because of her regard for ballet.  This is something I share with this teacher because it is important to maintain standards and traditions; afterall that is why great companies like the Mariinsky and POB have persevered for centuries.  I do think that innovations are necessary because as Ray Bradury  said, "ignorance is fatal."  It is necessary to update and re-new, but we must find a way to combine the old and the new to make masterpieces.

I always find myself youtubing old videos of ballet because they are far more interesting and artistic.  When they dance, they don't just dance, they dance.  The dancers of today seem to be too obsessed with tricks (not even technique so much anymore).  One thing I noticed at the YAGP finals this year was how distinguished the students from my school looked compared to the other kids from all over the world.  Most of the kids at the competition were just turning and turning for days and putting their legs not just above their head, but past it.  Yes, it's amazing to see these cool tricks, but what do they signify?  Take for instance, Sylvie Guillem.  She has the most perfect anatomical body since ever, but her face is expressionless and her movements are actually too controlled.  Then you can look at Gelsey Kirkland, who yes, does have a  beautiful body as well and she is controlled, but she is controlled because of the way she moves.  Every movement she makes has a purpose and connects with the next.  There are no "empty" moments, and no excessive actions.  "Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!" as Henry David Thoreau said.

Gelsey Kirkland- Romeo & Juliet balcony pas

Sylvie Guillem Don Q Act I Var.

Alina Somova, La Bayadere, Mariinsky Ballet.  Another example of a dancer with amazing lines, it's too excessive, and if you watch a  video of her, it's just way to flimsy and phony.  There is a difference between flexibility and strengthened flexibility.

Getting back to topic... I am incredibly thankful for this one teacher who has helped me so much these past two years even though they've sometimes been tricky.  I'd like to also thank her for coaching my variation for my competition this past March.  I am glad that there is at least one person in this world who cares enough about the ballet art form to be non-conforming yet innovative.

Thank you.


Nakis said...

With regards to Sylvie Guillem I could not disagree more. Her face expresioneless? Have you seen her dance in "L'histoire de Manon" by MacMillan? I saw her at La Scala last January at the première where she portrayed the part with Massimo Murru and she was heartbreaking. The audience was in tears and it was a huge triumph. You can see everything in her face and her body is the ultimate instrument of poetry and dramatic tension. The movement flows naturally, beautifully and reaches to the heart of the audience. I still shiver with awe when I think of that performance.

Rachel Carina said...

appreciate your comment! yes she's great in manon, but I still think she is too stiff, and I don't see enough in her face in other pieces which are more classical.