Tag Archives: Dance

Toes – a haiku

Dance! Freedom in space
Go wild but careful not to
Step on someone’s toes

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Filed under Poems, Essays, and Things

Observations in the Studio (NaPoWriMo #29)

image

A child’s messy room with life-sized dolls sprawled and toys scattered on the floor.
Hands poke through the air pockets of a jacket and an imaginary T-rex claws its way around the room.

Rise and fall of chests in deep breathing
Laughter and hushed whispers and silence
Sweat and glue from stinky shoes
Bitter liquid adrenaline of coffee
Warm fuzziness of oversized sweaters

Beating of a heart through pulsing veins underneath guitar blasts muffled by earphones.

Emma announcing a trip to Canada’s Wonderland.

Therabands, chiffon skirts, and athletic tape arranged neatly beside bags and water bottles.
Sweatpants, long satin ribbons, and snack wrappers thrown carelessly into a tangled pile.

Reviewing choreography to go from “Ahhhh!” to “A’ight? Cool.”

A braided hairstyle is completed so five people leave for the washroom.

“My bottle has the brand Deer on it but the drawing is a giraffe! I love it.”

Slowly planted footsteps of an ancient spell wash over the room’s collective attention.

Beautiful, rainbow, polka-dotted legs created by bruises.

He folded his back in half to the envy of stiff girls and fell asleep in the position.

Pascal created a water puddle from icing an injured foot.

Today’s teacher will offer combinations of quick jumps and turns that will make more than the body dizzy.

A magical lotion concoction is shared to revive deceased muscle cells.

There is competition between each artist that ultimately creates an atmosphere of continuous progress got hard work and creativity without the initial direct comparison of individuals which doesn’t exist anyway since everyone wears different leotards, listens to music differently, and orders different sandwiches for lunch.

Hundred dollar shoes are stomped on and broken, c’est la vie of a dancer.

A colourful, flowing skirt and a pair of cozy, lightweight shorts eye each other across the dance bag, each hoping to be today’s wardrobe choice.

As the clock ticks its time, figures rise from gravity to stand in staggering rows of perfect increments in one identical position, ready to start ballet class.

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This was trickier than expected! Under this you will find a list of instructions given by NaPoWriMo to write this poem. It was fun, I just did not have the patience to “de-fragmentize” each statement. Turned out with an entertaining and funny style, I think. Hope you enjoyed!

1. Begin the poem with a metaphor.
2. Say something specific but utterly preposterous.
3. Use at least one image for each of the five senses, either in succession or scattered randomly throughout the poem.
4. Use one example of synesthesia (mixing the senses).
5. Use the proper name of a person and the proper name of a place.
6. Contradict something you said earlier in the poem.
7. Change direction or digress from the last thing you said.
8. Use a word (slang?) you’ve never seen in a poem.
9. Use an example of false cause-effect logic.
10. Use a piece of talk you’ve actually heard (preferably in dialect and/or which you don’t understand).
11. Create a metaphor using the following construction: “The (adjective) (concrete noun) of (abstract noun) . . .”
12. Use an image in such a way as to reverse its usual associative qualities.
13. Make the persona or character in the poem do something he or she could not do in “real life.”
14. Refer to yourself by nickname and in the third person.
15. Write in the future tense, such that part of the poem seems to be a prediction.
16. Modify a noun with an unlikely adjective.
17. Make a declarative assertion that sounds convincing but that finally makes no sense.
18. Use a phrase from a language other than English.
19. Make a non-human object say or do something human (personification).
20. Close the poem with a vivid image that makes no statement, but that “echoes” an image from earlier in the poem.

Thanks for reading,
thebookybunhead

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Copenhagen: A Summer Exchange

Copyright thebookybunhead 2012

From the moment I stepped out of the airport, I knew that my second time in Europe as a professional ballet exchange student would be no less than wonderful. Everyone was very welcoming and even Copenhagen itself seemed to greet me with its warm colours and lively streets. The next two weeks would be spent dancing with the Royal Danish Ballet and exploring the sights and sounds of the city!

We had ballet classes in the morning, one with students of the school, and one with professional dancers of the company. It was nice to have the variety of levels and intensity every day, as well as to meet many great people. We also took some other classes such as repertoire and Pilates, with Bournonville being particularly fun as a trademark Danish style with its charming expression and agile steps. It was an inspiring and exciting experience to take company class and I admit it made me feel impatient that apprenticeship starts a year earlier there!

We watched company rehearsals, and though it was too early in the season to see a performance, we got a tour of the beautiful, golden, traditional theatre and saw excerpts of ballet pieces in an annual outdoor show that promoted the Det Kongelige Teatre. It became chilly after sunset, yet the audience of thousands stayed sitting on the grass wrapped in blankets until a standing ovation at the end of the night; it was a kind of cultural appreciation I was quite impressed with.

Throughout the afternoons walking the streets of Copenhagen, we discovered many parks, observatory towers, and pretty buildings, and realized it was impossible to walk a few minutes without snapping pictures of a cool fountain or statue. I had the chance to ride in a canal tour, go to two of the oldest amusement parks in Europe, look at art (including a Degas exhibition) in a couple of the many museums that offer free access, and just enjoy the street and night life.

I once read that Denmark was named the happiest country in the world, and I can say I easily believe it with the relaxed, “go-with-the-flow” atmosphere I felt during my stay. Everyone I met was so nice that I often forgot I was a foreigner, at least until Danish was spoken, which I found out has absolutely no resemblance to English. I was sad to leave but was looking forward to bring back everything I had learned to grow more as a dancer and a person in my final year at NBS! Between the ballet and the excursions with friends, I had a grand time in Copenhagen and hope to visit again someday.

So, this is part of why my summer was packed to write as much as I wanted. The first month of gr.12 has been so busy but I’m really hoping to get this blog up and active again.

Thanks for reading,
thebookybunhead

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Filed under Dance, Life, The happenings

Brain Melt: Another update, sorry

https://i1.wp.com/distilleryimage1.s3.amazonaws.com/dc419a32e32a11e2b67922000aaa047d_7.jpg

Artist on the Toronto streets, putting his brilliant mind to work much unlike the author during this past week.

My mind has been on holiday for quite some time now, but with the beginning of summer school comes a rescheduling of life, and blogging shall once again be a part of daily, or at least, weekly, routine. At the end of exams and school I automatically went into brain dead mode and indulged in not doing anything that required reading, writing, or any amount of focus longer than 10 seconds. Yes, it was that bad. But now I’m back!

Not that I’ve been completely wasting time, either. We went to the Toronto Pride Parade and Canada’s Wonderland, I enjoyed two barbecues, and even got to spontaneously sing at a parish’s farewell performance.

It’s been about a month since I had an accident dislocating my knee, and the injury is healing very well. It’s still a bit bit upsetting that it should happen so close to summer school (which I haven’t mentioned yet is dance only, and therefore just tons of fun) and my exchange to Copenhagen, Denmark next month. I might write some thoughts about it in an upcoming post.

I have also been thinking about, or rather my parents have been dropping some not-so subtle hints about what I have to do for my gr.12 year. I can’t believe I am graduating so soon and must plan for a career in both dance as well as applying for a few universities in a branch I must decide on shortly.

Lots to do, so let the summer begin! Thank you all you bloggers for continuing to share your experiences and for following my journey here on WordPress.

Thanks for reading,
thebookybunhead

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Filed under Just another person, Life, The happenings

Exam Bound

Crunch time! (Original content)

Crunch time! (Original content)

bound (adj) 1. Heading toward somewhere 2. Restricted or confined to a specific place

The end of the year is speeding along and I am feeling exhausted. It has been a marathon for the past few months with the dance festival, spring performance, and now final recital and academic exams. We get a free weekend without class, except there is a LOT to do: science reviews specifically, culminating assignments, procrastinated stuff, and extra credits squeezed in, hopefully. Our grade is in charge of an annual flower sale by tradition and many of us are catching summer colds due to bipolar weather of heavy rain (once pouring enough to collapse our church’s roof) and summer sun (we’re talking shorts and tank top weather here). It is also a personal tradition of mine to create handmade cards for my teachers, and I hope to continue it. Now I completely understand the phrase, “Time flies.”

So this is basically my excuse for my absence on WordPress; my “Drafts” category is growing drastically to the point that I doubt I could complete all these ideas in the summer. In the meantime, let’s get cracking on the notes fellow students (those of you unlucky enough to be on the same pace as my irregular school) , and exams here we come!

Thanks for reading,
thebookybunhead

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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

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A Work in Progress (with Guest Artwork)

ballet3invertedballet2inverted

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” ― Confucius

It has been a very busy week preparing for our annual showcase. Long days leave us with hanging limbs, aching muscles, cracking ankles, and lots of homework waiting in our school bags. And I love it. Even when it means the rest of Canada is celebrating a long weekend while we have rehearsals in two out of the three days.

Don’t  get me wrong, I enjoy being lazy. There truly is nothing like lounging around on a couch reading a book, watching nostalgic television shows, and blogging away here on WP, but being busy is satisfying. Having work and goals leads to personal growth that makes us feel like a contributing part of society. Vacation is great, but I think, as human beings, if we had all the time in the world we would still find some project to work on, because we are naturally curious that way.

In ballet, it is much the same way except we can’t decide when we dance from when we want to, but also when we need to – it’s about discipline as much as desire. Maintaining strength and stamina is especially important the days leading up to a performance because often, muscle memory isn’t enough. After getting into the routine, our bodies crave the exercise, and sometimes even the soreness, strangely enough.

Ballet is a never-ending process of discovery. Each day, we get into class practising the same movements we’ve been doing for years. But then again, it’s never the same because bodies change and we are constantly finding new ways to engage our muscles and refine our artistry. Perfectionism is a raging epidemic in dancers because everyone is in pursuit of pure, classical, virtuosity. There is an internal hunger in all of us to reach the ideal, ballerina whose picture only becomes more perfect the closer we get. It’s what keeps us on our toes.

The older I get, the more I realize you cannot have a successful career unless you are head-over-heels-flat-on-your-face in love with ballet. Work is paired with passion, and learning about the art form and yourself is just as important as the performance onstage. With the words from my teacher, I’ve realized that there is never a finished product and that we are not “finished dancers”, especially as students still in a school. There is always more to learn and more to improve on to fulfill the potential that sometimes we don’t see in ourselves. And this does not only apply to ballet.

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http://greenembers.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/ballet1inverted.png?w=179&h=319
I would like to acknowledge Bradley for his beautiful sketches (that he drew for me a LONG time ago) and that inspired me to write this post. Please check out the original art and his blog here!

As you’ve read, I have incorporated an excuse for my inactivity in this post and am itching to complete all the ideas that I had a few weeks ago in my What Now? list. There is a lot of school work to be done this weekend, and as I’ve mentioned, rehearsals, but I am determined to write at least one little something each day.

Thanks for reading,
thebookybunhead

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Around the World in 8 seconds (NaPoWriMo #28)

globe               Bill Zindel

Art by Bill Zindel

Today I met people from
San Francisco
England
Germany
New York City
Spain
New Zealand
Cuba
Australia
In one room.
Talking.
Dancing a universal language.
Traveling more of the world through smiles
Traded internationally in the hallways.

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I had school on Sunday, and it was great. Sounds crazy, but it really isn’t. Today was the first day of a big dance festival with professional ballet academies from around the world. It is all SO exciting, I can’t believe it’s here, and I promise myself I will enjoy this week to the max.

Thanks for reading,
thebookybunhead

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Filed under Dance, Life, NaPoWriMo Challenge, The happenings, Words

Hello (NapoWriMo #17)

The only person you should try to be better than… is the person you were yesterday.

I am ecstatic you have returned again
My inspiration, my friend.
Maybe you can dispel this cloud of fear,
Would you like a cup of tea, my dear?

There is a person in each person’s life
Strong in joy, and grief, and strife
Determined and free-spirited in every respect
How can anyone be that close to perfect?

A person that everyone can look up to
I want to grow and become more like you
Work will let this dream be
Then I finally see
That I am you. And that person is me.

As Whitney says, “Learning to love yourself, that is the greatest love of all.”

And in one of my favourite quotes from the movie Wreck-it-Ralph, Bad-Anon’s motto: “I’m bad, and that’s good. I will never be good, and that’s not bad. There’s no one I’d rather be than me.”

Thanks for reading,
thebookybunhead

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Dance Competition (NaPoWriMo #7)

Image of dance trophy from Aford Awards

My baby sister made me proud today.
She swept medals and trophies, was a star.
I was never a competition dancer, I say.
But, would I have gotten that far?

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Our family was at a dance competition all day, explaining this short, late post. My sister won three special awards, three overall prizes for her ballet, tap and jazz solos, judges’ choice, and highest overall for the top mark of the competition. It was a very long and tiring day, but it was worth it to see the joy on her face onstage, and to support her in a surprisingly extraordinary outcome. I am completely unmotivated to go back to school tomorrow after spring break, but time waits for no one, so good night all!

Thanks for reading,
thebookybunhead

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