~7 Quick Takes Friday – Episode 32~

{Episode 32}

~ 1 ~

A dear friend and fellow artist posted this article on Facebook this week.  Reading about art and the importance of beauty stirs my soul.

I know why I love being an artist, and I find it invigorating when I see that confirmed by outside sources.

Here’s a small excerpt:

“Beauty is a necessity, not a luxury.  Beauty moves us, awakens us, provokes us, bringing freshness and newness to hearts that have too easily grown old and stale.  A luxury is something extra, added on after duties are complete.  But beauty is not something extra, it is what comes first. Because without beauty, the duties prove too hard and, eventually, seem pointless.  An old, tired soul cannot move itself, cannot sustain itself.  It ultimately fails in its tasks.  Beauty renews the soul, pointing us ever back to our origins and our destiny, making life begin again.”  (Continue reading…)

~Fr. Charles Klamut

~2~

Speaking of art and beauty, this weekend is the NY Encounter 2013 Experiencing Freedom.  I’m not able to attend the entire weekend, but I am going to check out a couple of the lectures and the exhibition.

It should be an inspiring time…

~3~

I finally accessed my dancing goals for the New Year.

Read more here.

~4~

The Quadrille Ball is a week from tomorrow!  I’ve been working hard with the other Junior Committee members to ready this year’s dancers.  I myself will not be attending the ball this year, as it is the same day as Henry’s baptism, but I’m still excited for the the ball!

From last year’s Quadrille Presentation:

photo by Frank Ammaccapane of Natural Expressions

photo by Frank Ammaccapane of Natural Expressions

~5~

One of the reasons I’m excited for the ball is I’ll get my Tuesday nights back!  Because once I get my Tuesday nights back, I am going to check out the adult beginner ballet program at Joffrey Ballet School.

~6~

I will still take a class or two at Ailey Extension because I love the ballet class there as well as the Beginning Horton class, but I’m also looking forward to seeing ballet from a different perspective.

~7~

I found out on Wednesday that my cousin is coming to New York today to perform at Carnegie Hall on Monday!  I am so excited!

family

If someone would have told me when this photo was taken that four and a half years later I would get to watch Sondra perform at Carnegie Hall because I was living on the East Coast, I never would have believed it!  But I sure as heck am glad it’s true!!!  Break a leg, Sondra!!!!

(And many thanks to Br. Paul for giving me the head’s up!)

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Head over to the Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes!

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~7 Quick Takes Friday – Episode 16~

Jen is back hosting the Quick Takes this week.

{Episode 16}

~ 1 ~

Last week, I mentioned that I was taking Karl to an undisclosed location for his birthday celebration, but I couldn’t say where because it was a surprise (and yes, he did read the post on Friday).  I won’t make you wait till the end of this post to find out.  This is where we ended up and man, was it fun!

~2~

At Sunday’s rehearsal, we worked on a set of dances called Mexica (meh-shika), which are based on elements of Aztec tradition.  They are powerful and intense and a whole lot of fun!

Meanwhile, we are six weeks away from showtime!  I sure hope we can pull it all together in time.  If you would like to elebrate Dia de los Muertos with Calpulli and see whether or not we do pull it all togehter, here is a special offer from the company.

~3~

Amazon recently recommended a book that was already on my wish list, but had disappeared from my mind.  Now it’s all I can think about!  Dance Anatomy?!  Um, yes please!

photo c/o Amazon

~4~

I discovered another great blog this week: The Legal Ballerina.  I could seriously relate to her most recent post about feeling strained and tense in class versus executing movements just fine at home.  I am continually told to work on relaxing my upper body.  I think my tension comes from over-thinking my movements.  I love the technical side of dance, see QT no. 3, but I also love to just dance; to let the music move me rather than me moving to the music.  Somehow, I have to figure out how to let myself be moved by the music while not sacrificing the technical aspect of dance, especially when choreography is involved.  There is a way… Let’s hope I can find it within six weeks!

~5~

At least that should keep me busy while I wait with eager anticipation for this:

Incredible!!

Maybe I should re-read the book…

ht – The Deacon’s Bench

~6~

Both of my teams won again last weekend… I am praying my heart out that they can keep the streak going and keep this football fan smiling!

~7~

Karl and I are hitting up SalsaMania tomorrow night with some friends for Part 2 of Karl’s Birthday Extravaganza!  There is a lot to celebrate when it come to that man, but I think tomorrow will be end of this year’s celebrations, though I’m sure Karl wouldn’t mind if we celebrated until the close of the month.

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Head over to the Conversion Diary to find out how the filming went…

~7 Quick Takes Friday – Episode 15~

Jen is terribly busy filming a reality show this week, so today’s Quick Takes are hosted by Grace at Camp Patton.

{Episode 15}

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The company only had two rehearsals this week – a long one on Sunday and a shorter one on Wednesday.  Wednesday’s rehearsal was men only, so the ladies had the night off!  I love what I do, but it’s nice to have a little break here and there.

~2~

And how did I spend my free evening?  Checking out another dance class I’ve been dying to try, of course!!!  It’s not the same as the Thursday night class I kept missing (I’ve given up on that one for now).  This other class is a Beginner Horton class.  For those not versed in Modern Dance, Horton is a dance technique based on core movements that will help increase range of motion, created by Lester Horton (source).  The class was AH-mazing!!!!  I was nervous because I didn’t know what to expect, but the instructor, Iquail Johnson, immediately put me and the other four newbies at ease.  He was easy-going, fun, and engergetic, and man – did he make us work!

I was able to keep up because a lot of the company’s rehearsal warm-ups are based on Horton, which I didn’t realize until Wednesday, but there were definitely some exercises I had never done before!  I loved it!  Iquail was somehow able to challenge us and crack us up at the same time!  I don’t think I’ve ever laughed that much in a dance class!

I am looking forward to my next Wednesday night off, because I’m going to crash Iquial’s class whenever I can!

~3~

Concerning Beauty ~ Volume 1

~4~

Quote from Troy Ogilvie on Why I Dance (Dance Magazine):

Dance, as with all art, can loosen the constraints of reality, allowing definitions to blur and logic to get lost in fantasy and desire. Happily, our bodies provide anchors, enabling us to use our gut and our heart instead of only our heads. When my mind threatens to paralyze my body with theories of “why,” I welcome the simple distraction of groove, allowing my body to do the thinking for me.  (Click here to read the entire piece.)

~5~

I discovered a new photography blog this week: Through Harold’s Lens.  This is the photo that captured my attention:

Check out more of Harold’s colorful tribute to Mexico.

I wish he could photograph our upcoming show!

photo credit: Harold Green

~6~

Five years ago today, I put on the loveliest yellow dress, and my sister and I helped our cousin put on a glorious white dress.

Thing 1 and Thing 2 (aka Cecilia 1 and Cecilia 2)

I can’t believe it’s been five years already!

Happy Anniversary, Cecilia & Curt!

~7~

Both of my teams won last weekend.  I hope the same will be true tomorrow.  I won’t be on hand to watch either game though, because I’m taking Karl on a Birthday Extravaganza to an undisclosed location.  (It’s a surprise and I know Karl faithfully reads every post so I’ll share that info in next week’s Quick Takes Episode.)

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Until then, head over to Camp Patton for some great Quick Takes!

~7 Quick Takes Friday – Episode 14~

Joining Jen at The Conversion Diary for another Quick Takes!

{Episode 14}

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We had back-to-back rehearsals this week: six hours on Sunday and three hours on Monday.  I thought I was going to die!  Well, that might be an exaggeration, but I was concerned that my calves might explode.  I stretched them, rolled them, taped them, but nothing helped.  They still felt like massive rocks on the backs of my legs.  And then I remembered some advice from my mother: lay on the floor and put your legs up against the wall to help drain any lactic acid build up (darn that lactic acid again!).  What a difference!!!!  Also my podiatrist suggested using heat to help relax the muscles.  I feel like a new woman!

~2~

I came across the following quote this week:

“Mexico and the world are full of problems more important than the loss of culture. But that’s what makes us so crazy, to lose the small things that at the end of the day make us more human, that thing called art.” – Issac Hernandez, a ballet dancer from Mexico

~3~

I still haven’t made it to that blasted Thursday night dance class!  I was fine all day, but when late afternoon rolled around, I began to feel exhausted and sore.  On top of that, lunch had decided to host a rebellion in my stomach, which added to my exhaustion.  Thus began the now weekly debate: to go or not to go.  I decided not to push myself.  I’ve suffered enough in the past to know what can happen when I ignore my body’s need for rest and recovery.  So I went home, relaxed, and did laundry.  I’ll try again next week… And I think I’ll aim for the Tuesday class instead of the Thursday one…

~4~

Here’s the latest Adventure of C & K: Days Apart

~5~

The company has been working feverishly to finish a new trio of dances for our upcoming performance in November.  There is a lot of footwork to remember, as well as a ton of choreography.  I decided to write out the steps and draw the choreography on paper so I would have something to reference.  One of my co-workers walked by my desk as I was working on my choreo flash cards and asked if I was working on football plays.  It sure looked like it with all the x’s and o’s and arrows.

x o    x o     x o  >

<   x o     x o    x o

-

          x o     x o     x o

x o     x o     x o

-

and so on…

~6~

And this is where you can see it all come together:

~7~

This weekend, I am laying low at Karl’s, and I hope that means watching my favorite boys win some football games!

~

Head over to the Conversion Diary for more fabulous Quick Takes!

In Athletic Solidarity

I fully intended to take some extra dance classes during the company’s week-and-a-half break, but I didn’t.  Little things kept coming up and before I knew it the break was over.  The new wave of rehearsals started up this week with back-to-back rehearsals on Sunday and Monday.  I certainly regretted letting the break slip by without making it to any classes, much less failing to keep  up with my personal daily workout, when I could barely get out of bed on Tuesday morning.  My body was mad at me, especially my hamstrings and glutes.  Thank goodness I had restocked on KT Tape or I wouldn’t have survived!

Every time I use KT Tape, I am reminded of one of my favorite scenes from the movie Cool Runnings:

And I am feeling especially Olympic today with the backs of my legs covered in black tape and the 2012 games in full swing, since several Olympians have been seen using the unique colorful sports tape in years past.  So instead of focusing on my whining hamstrings, I am focusing on being in athletic solidarity with the greatest athletes in the world, and I’m pretending that it’s helping my little muscles…

Living in Plié

My first year with the dance company was mostly spent in a overwhelmed state, as I adjusted to my new environment, to new expectations, to new choreography, and to new relationships among the dancers.  It was a good year, and I learned a lot, but it was mostly an expansive overview.  When rehearsals resumed after the holidays, we received both general and individual rehearsal notes from the artistic director (A.D.).  And I find, with the beginning of my second year, that I am more settled and am therefore able to focus on specific areas in which I struggle.

The A.D. encouraged me to work on one major area that is lacking in my technique: staying grounded.  “Bend your knees when you dance,” she would say, “really feel the floor with your feet, use your plié.”  I did notice a difference every time I made the conscious effort to bend my knees.  My movements were more controlled and the footwork was actually easier.  But I would end up going back to my old ways somewhere in the middle of rehearsal.

“I know this sounds funny,” I mentioned to another dancer as we waited for our train after rehearsal one night, “but there’s a part of me that doesn’t like bending my knees so much because I’m short enough as it is!”

Andrea and I laughed over my ridiculous theory.  “But you can’t think about that,” she said.  “I know you think that’s easy for me to say because I am tall, but really, don’t think about it.  I’m working on the same thing and it isn’t easy, but I made the decision to live in my plié.”  Andrea’s eyes shined as she demonstrated.  “You should join me here!  I’m serious.  If you live in your plié, you won’t have to think about bending your knees before every step because you are already there!”

I attempted to reside in my plié at our next rehearsal.  Old habits are hard to break so I was not immediately successful at living in a constant state of being grounded and centered.  Even so, ‘living in plié’ brought a natural, effortless element to my movements.  Andrea’s advice, along with other helpful rehearsal notes from the A.D., have made the beginning of this year amazingly productive.  And I am on my way to becoming a permanent resident of plié.

Here’s to one full year with the dance company!

photo by Graeme Malcom

Thoughts of a Novice Dancer

As much as I love to dance and despite the fact I’ve been dancing for years, I consider myself a novice dancer (click here for my dance resume).  I don’t mean to discount any of the classes I’ve taken but they only skimmed the surface*.  I often felt as though I was taking the same class over and over but with a different instructor.  Once in a while I would find a class that pushed me, but my ever-changing life never allowed me to stay long.  My work schedule would change or I would move, and I’d find myself searching for another challenging class only to find myself taking a basic course because that was all that could be found and it was better than nothing. 

It would be easy to focus on what could have been had I received quality training when I started taking classes at age eighteen.  I see and hear other stories of dancers who got a late start and wonder about the dancer I could have become.  But life is what it is.  I cannot change the past.  I’ve learned that I can’t allow my lack of training to impede my enjoyment of dance or my participation in its various styles and expressions.  All I can do is focus on becoming the best dancer I can be in this moment. 

Of course there are days when it is rather difficult to watch an exquisite dance performance and not experience a twinge of jealousy.  But instead of wallowing in the sea of what-could-have-been, I allow the beauty created by other dancers to further motivate me as a dancer. 

My journey through dance has been more about becoming the woman God has created me to be than about becoming the best dancer in the world.   As I pursue my passion, I continue to gain insight and grow in self-knowledge. 

And so my training continues.  My most recent dance classes have been amazingly helpful in this pursuit by pushing me beyond what I thought myself capable of.  I choose not to think about the dancer I might have become because I’d much rather enjoy the dancer I currently am.

*Disclaimer: This has not been the case with my current class, which has been challenging, bad habit-breaking, grueling and great fun!

My Dance Resume

As I mentioned in my first post, I have been dancing for years.  My dance experience has been both formal and informal.  I started dancing when I was quite young in my parents’ living room with my siblings.  We would create lavish dances with unique choreography, inspired by the musicals we watched over and over.  The only reason we knew the word ‘choreography’ existed was because of the song by that title in “White Christmas”. 

When I was ten, I began performing traditional Mexican folk dances with a semi-professional youth dance troupe.  Even though we were young dancers, our director taught us on a level that was as professional as one can get for ten to fifteen year olds.  We learned the valuable lesson of stage presence, and she encouraged even the most shy dancers to overcome their fears.   

I took a break from dancing during high school.  Actually, I should say I took a break from performing dance during high school, when I decided to try my hand in other areas.  Somehow, my sister and I managed to find time to teach ourselves how to swing dance, thanks to the movie “Swing Kids”. 

After high school, I took different dance classes here and there to learn the basics of the various styles: ballet, jazz, modern, ballroom, latin, and irish; but never pursued one form over another.  I didn’t think a career in dance was possible since I had gotten such a late start, but that didn’t matter.  I loved to dance and wanted to learn as much as I could. 

Even as I took these other classes, my desire to return to folklorico dancing grew stronger and stronger.  I returned to the stage as a folklorico dancer in June of 2008 after a fifteen year absence.  I continue to perform traditional Mexican dance at various festivals and private parties in my hometown.