Tag Archives: community

Best Week Ever: Memories of a Ballet Festival

balcony jump - AI13

Some of us thought a jump shot on a sunny balcony would be cool.

It’s not any day you meet and perform with over a hundred fellow dancers from 10 different countries. Actually, it was a week. So naturally, I have an urge to write about this unforgettable experience. Amazing. Inspiring. Awesome. Enlightening. Bomb-diggity. These words can only begin to describe what hosting a giant, international ballet festival at our school was like.

Nearly everyone arrived early on the first day for orientation. It was a confusing ordeal at first, as students wandered around trying to find their partners who may or may not still be in bed. Or, having found them, realized their partners  had already been taken on a tour meaning they were left feeling quite useless, standing around like a lamppost. My partner was a pretty, Indian girl who will be in the corps of the San Francisco Ballet next year and who had no trouble engaging in conversation, which made it easy for me. From this first introduction, I realized how many different experiences were being brought by everyone, and was sure it would be an interesting week!

Being the second of this tetra-annual event (think Olympics, except with dancing, and a celebration instead of a competition), we had an arsenal of organizational experience that we launched into some virtually foolproof plans. Firstly, each of us was partnered with a student from a visiting school, and each school had a contact person. It was a system of relaying any concerns between student, teacher, and artistic director of the schools without multiple people trying to fix the same problem at the same time in their own way. Binders were prepared containing weekly schedules, pamphlets on public transportation and restaurants in the area, cell phone numbers of every participant, even directions on how to get to every studio. Food was also stocked up with snacks of fruit, yogourt, cheese, and crackers and tables laid out to fill “Town Square” as we call our school’s main hall, where 180 people would eat every day. It surprised a few of us when visitors exclaimed, “Do you get to eat this every day?!” pointing to the row of hot food and salad bar.

We started each day with a ballet class, each one with a different teacher and with a different set of dancers. Throughout the week I was scheduled to be taught by teachers from the School of the Hamburg Ballet, Dutch National Ballet Academy, New Zealand School of Ballet, and Houston Ballet Academy. To think that to take this week of classes otherwise I would need to travel across the globe! Although each class was set differently, with a variety of teaching style and focus (for example, upper body expression, or petit allegro which is quick beats and jumps) it was interesting to see that many corrections were the same, just told in a different way – dance truly is a a universal language.

In the first few days, “Traditionally Timeless” was rehearsed: each school would perform a piece of repertoire that reflected their culture over the course of two programs. Each was the most exhilarating three hours I have never seen on stage. It was amazing to see everyone represent themselves and their school with so much integrity, and the diversity of styles and skills opened my eyes to how much more I have to explore in my art form. Counter-balancing acts, pure classical virtuosity, abstract, theatrical, and humorous contemporary, and impressive shows of strength in pas-de-deux – the shows had it all!

In total, there were 18 schools that participated and we had the privilege with mingling with what is, literally, the next generation of the ballet world. As mentioned, our daily ballet classes had new combinations of dancers every day, so we danced with the world, did a bit of unavoidable “sizing-up”, and collected lots of names that would surely pop up again in the dance world. It was also good practice for auditions to have to jump in and learn a class with people you hardly knew.

Another set of programs was performed in the second portion of the festival; these were named “Fast Forward” (they really liked the alliteration, didn’t they!) which featured student choreographic works as well as a live streaming project. These all had international casts, with a random scramble of dancers that had learned the dance through videos from their home country. And there were approximately four days to put it all together.

“Stream” was a 20 minute fusion of classical and contemporary styles and used projections of water and the dancers from Amsterdam on two big screens on either side of the stage. White was worn so that images would be projected onto bodies when people were dancing behind the screens. It really was a cool effect. It is amazing how technology can enable dancers from across the ocean to put on a show together with a lag time of .0-something seconds. It was a big achievement on the part of the choreographers, stage crew, cameramen, technology crew, and everyone in between.

We met many modern dancers from Juilliard, Palucca Schule, and Codarts who impressed all of us with their movement quality and style. It was improvisation as we had never seen before. And of course, they were all so nice. We got to know this cast of 35 or so people quite well since we had “Stream” rehearsal nearly every day. It was fun to learn how to communicate through language barriers and shocking for many of my friends who realized many Europeans not only speak their native tongue but also speak better English than most from North America, excluding their accents. I feel a lot of the times we are too casual with speaking properly, but that’s another topic. Other than the Cubans who spoke almost no English, we exchanged many words with everyone and nevertheless gained a valuable, international network of dance connections.

Our main socializing time was lunch hour. I had always told myself I would be the person plopping myself down at a table of foreigners, but I learned it’s not as easy as it looks. For the most part, students from the same school stuck together, so it could be a little intimidating. What I also learned is that having the courage to put yourself, as an individual, out there seems friendlier than approaching others in a group. By the end of the week, we were all quite comfortable with starting spontaneous conversation with anybody and could only wish that we had more time to hang out as our days were packed with dancing and rehearsals.

Wrapping up the week was a conference that was titled “Creative Challenge” after its topic, since “conference” seems to bring up the wrong sorts of ideas to young dancers (you pictured stern faces jotting down notes in an auditorium, didn’t you?). It started off with an interview with world-renowned modern choreographer, Wayne McGregor, and our main speaker, former Principal of the Royal Ballet, Deborah Bull. It was so cool to hear him speak about the projects he had done and how he built his company, but I don’t know if it was fatigue or the extremely hot temperature of a packed theatre, many of us started nodding off after 45 minutes, which was too bad because it is such a special opportunity to be sitting with two significant advocates of the dance world.

So the break-out sessions came at a good time. We split into groups in different studios to brainstorm ideas for a dance project that: a) is performed in an unconventional venue (meaning outside proscenium theatres) and b) collaborates with young artists from various disciplines (ex. composers, costume designers, filmmakers, poets, painters). Due to the economic times and the trend that companies are hiring older and more mature dancers, developing entrepreneurial skills is valuable to create opportunities for oneself. The projects are to be broadcasted through the internet and a hub designed so we can update each other on our progress and learning experiences.

The idea is also a way to expand the reaches of the art form to the public since theatre tickets can be considered elitist, especially when it comes to price. Our group extended the discussion to how the audience can become a participant instead of observer, and to work with “non-performers” as well, perhaps construction workers, the blind, or mathematicians. Everyone had different ideas and was enthusiastic about the new endeavour, which is good, since our director was worried it might have been too far “out there” for the current ballet community.

Ms Bull said something that really resonated with a lot of us, “You may think of yourselves as students that are about to enter the dance world as professional artists in companies. But actually, you are the dance world.” I just thought, “Wow, I am a part of this family that I’ve always envisioned to strive for. And I am a part of the future.” When the conference was wrapped up, a roaring standing ovation rose and our director performed a spontaneous dance of joy to the cheers and hoots of two hundred young dancers, giving the documentary crew quietly filming in the corner the exciting footage they had been waiting for. It felt like the beginning of a revolution and I hope we always remember the indescribable solidarity of that moment.

If that didn’t wrap up the week with a bang, the closing party sure did! We danced the night away, simultaneously introduced ourselves and said farewell to people we had or hadn’t met yet, and even saw some of the top directors and teachers of these highly prestigious schools break it down on the floor! A slideshow of photos from class, rehearsal, and performances played and there were tables of food: desserts of macaroons, cupcakes, fruit salad, and tarts; a bar for the legally of age (saw a director sneak his student a drink – very funny), and savoury treats of sliders, shishkabobs, cheeses, you get the idea. It was a fun evening, bittersweet, but only slightly thanks to the wonder that is Facebook. We joke that we are set for life from our connections all across the globe now.

It is hard to sum up my thoughts for this festival. I met so many wonderful people and was inspired by every single one to always be the best artist and person I can be. We shared many memories in the seven days the world gathered together in Toronto, and I feel very lucky to have been a part of a learning experience that I will treasure all my life. It will be funny if the t-shirts we received become rare collectibles one day; maybe we will recognize each other from them, or the grey booties that we also got, when our paths meet again.

April – May 2013
Thanks for reading,
thebookybunhead

17 Comments

Filed under Dance, Life, The happenings

The BIG Award Extravaganza! (1/4)

tag-image65I think it is only fair to share the support and generosity that I’ve received; I have many to thank and spotlight, so stay tuned! Rules are posted at the end. Anyone who feels like sharing their opinion, please feel free to answer the last 11 questions as I am genuinely curious.

The Tag! Award

Thank you to Shaun at his inspiration blog for giving me this one.

11 facts about me:
1. I own a pair of bright neon green converse.
2. I lam ambidextrous. In cartwheels.
3. I always feel narcissistic doing this part.
4. I love amusement parks.
5. I love raspberries.
6. I love blackberries.
7. I love strawberries.
8. Berries are my favourite kind of fruit.
9. I wish I had the willpower to be a full-time vegetarian.
10. I swear by Mozilla Firefox as my internet browser.
11. I collect newspaper comics irregularly.

——————————————————————————————-
11 questions I must answer:

1. What is your favourite colour? green

2. Where have you been to in the world, away from your country? USA, Indonesia, France, Hong Kong

3. If you had a time machine where would you go and why? Possibilities are endless! Besides meeting family, one place I would like to go to is the 60’s or 70’s so I can be a flower child and dance at the disco.

4. What food do you love most? Noodles

5. What is your favourite TV show? Arthur and Big Bang Theory

6. Who is your favourite Actor? Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway

7. When was the last time you were in Hospital? 5 years ago for a fractured wrist

8. When did you 1st fall in love, if not, when would you like to? I fell in love with life before I can even remember.

9. Do you understand String Theory? Nope

10. Where IS Waldo? Downstairs in my basement library

11. What type/make of Mobile phone do you have? Don’t have one. Here’s why.

———————————————————————————————

My 11 questions for you (I’m going to reuse some good ones):

1. Pen or pencil?

2. If you had a time machine, where would you go and why?

3. Now I’m curious. What internet browser do YOU use?

4. What type/make of mobile phone?

5. What is your favourite household chore, or rather, one you least mind?

6. A bucket list item?

7. Will you check out my blog? (Ok, I’m sorry, that was a cheap one.)

8. First classical composer to pop into your head?

9. What do you think of Canada? (Honestly, spill some dirt if you wish.)

10. Alligator or crocodile?

11. How long can you hold a handstand?

——————————————————————————————

The 15 Nominees!

1. greenembers – a person full of heart (check out the Rome Construction Crew!)
2. discoveringgarrett – musician in the making!
3. thenerdyscribe – humour and sophistication
4. willowdot – always heartfelt
5. digitalhegemon – fun bits of video and music
6. ambitious poet – diligence in creative poetry
7. myadventureoflife – honesty in everyday chronicles
8. Saunved – thoughtful and artistic pieces
9. TOKIDOKI – diverse photography of San Diego
10. women’swindow – for building a community of inspiration and faith
11. Delawhere Comics – quirky, original comics
12. beyondtheflow – beautiful writing on a “philosophy of life”
13. lblivingbetter – generous with helpful tips and life experiences
14. sandbagheart – thoughtful words (the name is quite an image, isn’t it?)
15. GeoSans – deep meanings in simplicity

And here are The rules:

1.  Post a picture of the award on your blog

2.  Tagback the person who tagged you to let them know you’ve accepted the award.

3.  11 facts about you.

4.  Answer the 11 questions I’ve asked you.

5.  Tag the same amount of people as their are letters in your name.

6.  Ask your OWN 11 questions to the people you’ve tagged.

7.  Contact the people you’ve tagged to let them know they’ve been tagged.

Phew! That’s it, Part 1 is done. It only gets better, so stay tuned!
Thanks for reading,
thebookybunhead

8 Comments

Filed under Words

For me? Oh boy! (My first awards)

After being absent for a week or so, I happily logged on with an itch to write something, anything, one of the things filling up my thoughts; only to find in surprise that I had gotten my very first award! And not for the most inconsistent or all-over-the-place blogger like I expected would be the only title I could deserve at the moment.

Thank you to my friend at greenembers.wordpress.com for nominating me for the Liebster Award and the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. I am honoured and will do my best to live up to it. Little did I know how long a process this post would have… but here we go!

As per requirement, here are 11 random facts about moi:
1. I love earmuffs almost as much as scarves.
2. I set my alarm at least a half an hour early in the morning so I can press sleep a couple of times.
3. I buy $100 pointe shoes that last about a week because I love dancing.
4. My parents let me buy the above because they love me.
5. I enjoy car naps.
6. Some of my favourite things to watch are Planet Earth, The Big Bang Theory, Nostalgia Critic, The nature of Things, Dragon’s Den, and Arthur.
7. I own an Acer Aspire One notebook laptop.
8. They say don’t judge a book by its cover but sometimes I do.
9. HARRY POTTER not Twilight.
10. I think it’s funny that people so love to talk about themselves as to make this a rule to receive this award.
11. I am currently studying Stoichiometry in chemistry.

And these are my answers to the questions that have been bestowed unto me:
1. What is the best way to spend one dollar (or currency equivalent)?
A forgotten gem at a used book sale.
2. What is your biggest pet peeve?
The sound of velcro hooks being ripped from the loops. Oh, and people reading over my shoulder.
3. What is your happy thought that makes you fly?
I am alive with a fully functioning body.
4. Who is your favorite Doctor?
Doctor Who? I don’t know, maybe my orthodontist.
5. If you could be one super hero, who would you be and why?
Superman because he can fly.
6. The question is this: Given that God is infinite, and that the universe is also infinite… would you like a toasted teacake?
Of course, who has time to ponder about such things when there are teacakes?
7. What is your quest?
To figure out who I am. And save the world from global warming.
8. What is your favorite color?
All colours! If you must, green.
9. What… is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?
Faster than a laden swallow.
10. What is your favorite sport?
Ballet. If I wasn’t a dancer, probably swimming. Or basketball.
11. Who is your hero and why?
Hmm… my parents because they moved to a whole new continent on the opposite side of the globe for their family’s future.

The rules of the Liebster Award:

liebster1. Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog and link back to the blogger who presented this award to you.
2. Answer the 11 questions from the nominator, list 11 random facts about yourself and create 11 questions for your nominees.
3. Present the Liebster Blog Award to 11 blogs of 200 followers or less who you feel deserve to be noticed and leave a comment on their blog letting them know they have been chosen.
4. Copy and Paste the blog award on your blog.

My nominees for the Liebster:
1. http://doompaul.wordpress.com/
2. http://thebeliefblog.com/
3. http://twoworldsonegirl.wordpress.com/
4. http://maykayart.wordpress.com/
5. http://michaelremkewritting.wordpress.com/
6. http://noblogintended.wordpress.com/
7. http://atekkaiqbal.wordpress.com/
8. http://that-blog.co.uk/
9. http://threeamblog.wordpress.com/
10. http://myadventureoflife.wordpress.com/
11. http://foundations21stcentury.wordpress.com

Oops. I almost forgot. Here are my 11 questions for you:
1. What’s the name of your alter ego?
2. What is your favourite Disney movie?
3. If you could meet anyone in the world, living or dead, who would it be and why?
4. What is your angry music?
5. Milk or juice for breakfast?
6. When do you find the time to do your blogging?
7. Fly the highest places on earth or swim the deepest depths of the ocean?
8. Is the grass always greener on the other side?
9. Have you ever seen a ballet, if so, which one? (And if you haven’t, you really should. Cough, biased, cough. But seriously.)
10. Buttons or zippers?
11. What is your most recent goal in the journey of life?

The rules for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award:

very-inspiring

1. Copy and place the award in your post.
2. Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog.
3. Tell 7 things about yourself.
4. Nominate 10 bloggers for the award, tell them by posting a comment on their blog.

Because I do not have much time and do not want to feel obnoxious, the 7 things about myself are just going to be counted in with the 11 I already wrote.

My nominees for the Inspiring:
1. http://lesplaisirssimplesdelavie.wordpress.com/
2. http://thewisdomoflife.wordpress.com/
3. http://thebottomofabottle.wordpress.com/
4. http://leafandtwig.wordpress.com/
5. http://kurtrees.wordpress.com/
6. http://michaelcargill.wordpress.com/
7. http://timpanogos.wordpress.com/
8. http://anotherwanderingsoul.wordpress.com
9.http://meganhasocd.com/
10. http://hikingphoto.com/

Because I don’t want to spam people as I understand not all participate in these awards, I won’t be commenting on every nominated blog. I am also feeling tired and lazy so I might get around to doing it anyway at some point.

And because WordPress is full of such wonderful people, check out these blogs as well if you have time:
http://patheticsillacy.wordpress.com/
http://browsingforlaughs.wordpress.com/
http://dougpete.wordpress.com/about/
http://wordsofbirds.wordpress.com/
http://mylasttwenty.wordpress.com/
http://artlesspoems.wordpress.com/
(And don’t forget to have a look at nominator greenembers as well 🙂

Thank you all bloggers for sharing your thoughts and inspirations – I am always excited to discover more of what humanity has to write. How I appreciate this articulate side of the internet…

Thanks for reading,
thebookybunhead

9 Comments

Filed under The happenings

Subway people

Teetering over on one sitting bone I glance up from my book for the station’s name to see baseball cap, beanie, and bed heads; cellphone, iPod, crossword handlers; lipsticked, bearded, and braced faces; eyes that are sleeping, alert, glazed, spectacled;  baby backpack and Longchamp holders; briefcase, hockey stick and guitar carriers… and realize I know nothing of each story but that.

SUBWAY

(The picture doesn’t correspond perfectly with what I’ve written, but it was a pretty little design, so enjoy.)

3 Comments

Filed under Idle Thoughts, Just another person, Life, Words