Tag Archives: dancer

Stage Entry – Thursday Doors.

Welcome to Another Thursday Doors.

Sorry I’ve been rather intermittent lately. Life has been uber hectic what with school holidays and performances and I’m longing to put my feet up and relax.

Rowena & Amelia Coastquest

In so many ways, this week’s door is very ordinary. However, for the performers at Coast Quest, our regional dance eisteddfod, it was the point of no return where they embarked on the exhilarating thrill, or abject terror, of being on stage. For many of the dancers, it was probably a mixture of both.

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Of course, this eisteddfod could have been anywhere. Held in any school or local hall where the stage has that worn out look of a bygone era and there’s no signs of the bells and whistles which come with performing at the likes of the Sydney Opera House.

Yet, these local competitions and performances have their place bringing the best local talent together and extending the dancers’ experience beyond the four walls of their studios. While they might not be the big time, they celebrate a moment in time or might even be a stepping stone. Moreover, for the doting audience, it means the world to see our dancers up there on stage. Indeed, we had a good group of supporters from the studio in the audience and there were cheers and applause as our dancers took to the stage. It was fantastic!

Of course, whenever my daughter competes, I naturally believe she’s the best. I’m absolutely dazzled by her performances. During her new lyrical solo, I even had goosebumps. That’s what it is to be Mum and it’s not my place to be critic. I’m simply her adoring fan. She did very well and naturally we’re very proud. However, quite aside from the results, it was the experience which mattered and it was also very helpful to receive the judges feedback. No doubt, this matches what her teachers have been saying. However, having those thoughts written down in a report by a judge also adds weight.

Tomorrow night, we’ll be off to see our son perform in the Scout & Guides Central Coast Gang Show. So, I’ll be returning with a different stage door next week.

Thursday Doors is hosted by Norm 2.0

What, if any, experiences do you have of stage door? I’d love to hear from you.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Flying with the Green Fairy…Friday Fictioneers.

We call her “Le Petite Danseuse“, after that sculpture by Degas. The story goes that she wears a long white tutu, and pirouettes round and round like a music box dancer. As yet, I’ve never seen her. Not that I haven’t looked. Waited. Even played my violin hoping she’d come. Nothing.

Pierre from accounts captured a blurry, white image on his phone. Reckons this was a dance studio, and a young ballerina died when the Brits bombed Paris.

Bet it’s only steam from the kettle. Or, that he’s drunk too much Absinthe, and gone flying with the “green fairy”.

99 Words

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This has been another contribution for Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff Fields. This week’s photo image was provided by Yarnspinner.

I also wanted to let you know that I’ve been participating in the Blogging A-Z April Challenge. My theme this year is Writing Letters to Dead Artists. Here’s a link to my  Weekly Round up

If you are participating in the challenge, please leave a link to your blog and a brief intro in the comments below.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

I wish I Had Dance Feet…

People often say to me, ‘I don’t know anything about dance.’ I say, ‘Stop. You got up this morning, and you’re walking. You are an expert.’

Twyla Tharp

As you may recall, I’ve been attending a weekly adult dance class for roughly the last year. This has been a huge step for me, because I live with a severe muscle-wasting auto-immune disease as well as hydrocephalus and let’s just say mobility and coordination are not my strengths.

However, as I’ve mentioned, my daughter dances quite seriously and after watching countless open days, concerts and at times having serious difficulties getting her to class, I started getting sick of being stuck in the driver’s seat. I wanted to dance myself.

My motto – sans limites.

Isadora Duncan

Dance is the hidden language of the soul of the body.

Martha Graham

At first, I started dancing in my head and was amazed by my grace, poise and ability to jeter across the room.

Well, to be honest, it wasn’t exactly me. Taking a leaf out of the bower bird’s book, I sub-consciously “borrowed” or perhaps you could even say, that I moved into Miss Larissa’s feet and became a legend inside my own head.

That’s when I first started feeling like a dancer, even though I was unable to dance and to be perfectly honest, often struggled to walk, especially on public footpaths, which are forever trying to trip me up. In what felt like a very bold leap at the time, I gingerly approached my daughter’s teacher and confessed. Naturally, this felt rather “weird” and I wondered if I’d finally tipped the scales of madness to the point of no return. Dancing was light years away from “me”…a writer, photographer and someone living with a chronic illness.

writing

So, it was from this very tentative and reticent corner of the room, that I arrived at my first adult ballet class fully expecting to spend most of the night sitting in a chair. From where I sat, this wasn’t so much a position of defeat. Rather, even being in the room as a class member was an achievement and it felt incredible just to be a part of the inner sanctum. As I didn’t know what to expect of myself,  I simply hoped to have beautiful, ballet hands at the end of the six week course.

While I clearly didn’t have much in the way of personal expectations, even turning up was brave and courageous. That being there in itself, represented a huge gear shift I could be proud of. After all, wasn’t most of the world parked in front of their TV, computer or mobile phone screens, while I was stepping out and being challenged by something completely out of my realm.

Sometimes, you deserve  a bit of praise and enthusiastic applause simply for getting out of bed. and if you make it out the front door that’s a bonus.

That’s where I was coming from. So, my expectations of being able to dance weren’t great.

So, you could just imagine my delight when I was somewhat keeping up with the class. That I didn’t spend the entire class in a chair and wasn’t as uncoordinated as I’d thought. After all, there’s nothing like a bit of brain surgery and tinkering away in your head to get the cogs moving.

Those early nights of adult ballet classes, almost feel like a dream a year down the track. I’ve since done two short contemporary/lyrical classes under Miss Karina Russell. She’s not only been teaching us about dance and choreography, she’s taken us on a journey through various choreographic styles and given me something to Google when I get home. I was as proud as punch of my research and the growing list of dance quotes I’d compiled, until she asked me if I’d actually watch them dance. Of course, not.  Yes, I was still very much the writer and researcher than a dancer…a woman of action. Yet, it was still early days.

Last night, we had our last contemporary class for the time being and next term, we’re switching to tap. So, last night was special and a bit like performing at the end of year concert. I wanted to put my best feet forward and perfect our routine. Or, at least, be facing the right direction at the right time.

However, after going on our long walk on Sunday and obviously overdoing it round the house yesterday, my systems were overstretched and I couldn’t get it together. For the very first time, I was struggling with left and right as we attempted pirouettes, and was facing all the wrong directions doing our warm ups and stretches. This was so bad and as much as I laughed it off, there was also that frustrated, annoyed dancer stuck inside me trying so hard to get out, yet battling the mortal realm.

Why couldn’t I have dance feet? A dance brain? I was feeling like someone had switched all the wires over and when I meant to go left, I went right. Or, I just ended up in a mental knot…a spin which was anything but a shanay turn.

Aside from the fatigue, there was another sound explanation for my brain-body confusion.

While watching Miss Karina so intently, I was absorbing her moves as my own and couldn’t understand why my body wouldn’t cooperate. Why didn’t my foot point like that. Why couldn’t I stand on one leg while rotating my hands and foot without wobbling and falling over like a house of cards? It was like I was having some kind of massive computational error…Miss Karina in, Rowena out. There was a definite bug in the program!

However, I’m not that hard on myself that I didn’t know I was tired. That I wasn’t dancing at my best. Or, that Miss Karina not only has natural talent, she’s also worked exceptionally hard for a very long time. As  she will testify, there’s no fairy Godmother and no magic wand either.

“Destiny, quite often, is a determined parent. Mozart was hardly some naive prodigy who sat down at the keyboard and, with God whispering in his ears, let music flow from his fingertips. It’s a nice image for selling tickets to movies, but whether or not God has kissed your brow, you still have to work. Without learning and preparation, you won’t know how to harness the power of that kiss.”
― Twyla Tharp, The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life

Yet, I am simply grateful to be a part of it, find acceptance even on an off night, and to be able to see Miss Karina dance up close and appreciate all the detail that goes into being a brilliant dancer. Not only for my own benefit, but also for my daughter. Since I’ve been doing these adult dance classes, we’ve been able to share a common language and last weekend when I saw her draw a semi-circle in the sand with a pointed foot, I knew exactly what she was doing.

“Think of the magic of that foot, comparatively small, upon which your whole weight rests. It’s a miracle, and the dance is a celebration of that miracle.”

Martha Graham

 

dance feet

Secret dance business. We only reveal our feet.

“My feet are dogs”.

Rudolf Nureyev

So, last night at the end of our class, I lined everyone up for a few photos. I’ve really been hanging out to photograph all our feet. While this might seem strange, for me our diverse range of footwear reflects who we are. There were socks, joggers, toe shoes, jazz shoes… as well as me wearing my pink satin ballet slippers with the satin ribbons to a contemporary class. We are a motley crew who take our dance seriously and work hard. Yet, there’s also this constant laughter, good humour, fun personalities as well as the joy of belonging and being part of the dance, which is an incredible feeling all by itself.

I don’t know why more creatives don’t cross-train and do some painting, dance, try some artistic photography with an SLR instead of their “camera phone”. While cross-training has become standard for athletes, I get that sense that creatives are still very much absorbed by their thing and it’s a rare soul who ventures beyond the usual streams which go together. In the performing arts, you hear about being the “triple threat”. That means you can dance, sing and act. Yet, I’m not aware of an equivalent term for someone who can write, do photography and say graphic design.

There’s so much to be gained from stepping beyond our comfort zones and what we’re naturally good at and enjoy. Instead of every writer writing about what it means to be a writer, you can write about the exhilaration of dance from an inside perspective instead. You’re not just a voyeur watching life pass by through the keyhole. You’re living it too.

That is, even if you’ve only got duck feet.

Do you dance?

xx Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share December 11, 2016.

Welcome to another Weekend Coffee Share!

Not quite sure how many sleeps there are before Christmas, but there’s no sign of Christmas at our place yet. There’s only a tub containing my daughter’s dance costumes after Saturday night’s concert and some stray camping gear. The kids are under tent tonight at the scout Christmas camp. Fortunately, we live in Australia or they’d be hooking up some generators and a sneaking in a few heaters.

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Our daughter after the dance concert.

Our Christmas tree will be arriving tomorrow. We have a real tree each year and I simply can’t bring myself to buy a fake one. I blame my Dad for that after hearing him wax lyrically about the wonders of fresh pine scent all my life. Christmas isn’t Christmas without the smell of Christmas tree in the house…along with the debris and mess! That said, I hate seeing Christmas trees standing upside down in people’s wheely bins waiting for the garbage truck. Such an ignoble end for a magnificent tree!

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On what has suddenly become yesterday, we went to our daughter’s dance concert. Of course, it wasn’t her dance concert as such but she was in three items…jazz, modern and ballet. A friend drove her to the dress rehearsal beforehand and she did her own hair, so it was quite different to the past where I was fretting over her hair slapping on lashings of gel and almost asphyxiating in clouds of hair spray. It’s liberating. Yet, the more independent they become, the less involved you are…for better or worse. Today, I was more of a spectator something was missing as well.

It’s been a busy week for my daughter and I. She attends a selective Opportunity Class and will be sitting for the selective high school exam in March next year. On Friday, students of the two local selective primary school classes were invited to an enrichment day at the selective high school. As a parent, this was obviously a great opportunity, but my daughter was refusing to go. Her teacher wasn’t going and she didn’t want to be with strangers, even though she knew most of the kids that were going. Although I’m an extroverted extrovert and love talking to strangers, I do get where she’s coming from but trying to convey that was hellish. Trying to explain that it’s more about anxiety than the trigger. I have been an incredibly anxious driver but the more I drive, the less anxious I’ve become and most of the time, I now jump in the car without a second thought. Life is a constant learning experience.
Anyway, she went along and loved it. They made biscuits and she told me they have a fantastic kitchen and she wants to go to school there.

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Meanwhile, I had my son home from school for the morning on Wednesday while the teachers had a student-free pow wow. He loves playing Risk, a board game using loads of strategy. Anyway, he was particularly thrilled that he completely wiped me out. I didn’t mind. I was playing to spend time together and we had a lot of laughs along the way. (Note to self: Laugh more. Life doesn’t always have to be serious!)

Meanwhile, I’ve been getting stuck into my memoir about my time in Paris in the Summer of 1992. I’ve been typing up diary notes and have deviated into writing a bit of fiction as well. My time in Paris was, as Charles Dickens so aptly put it: “the best of times and the worst of times.” I could easily turn this time into a terrifying horror story yet there were also the best of times and it’s weaving these two paradoxical threads together which is going to give the story quite a lot of punch. At least, that’s the aim! Light doesn’t always triumph over darkness. It depends where you start and finish the story. So, I’ll be looking into all of that.

Anyway, I’ve posted a few poems about this time during the last week:

Welcome to the Yellow House.

Slide Night…Dumped In Paris.

I also participated in Friday Fictioneers again. My contribution this week Dancing For Life. This looks at the choices we have to make between love and success.

How was your week? I hope it’s been great. All the best for your preparations for Christmas, Hanukah, the Holidays. One more coffee share to go!

xx Rowena