2016 Is Looking Pretty Good From Here

Okay. As promised, I’m backed with the 2016 year in review. I’ll try to keep it brief.

But honestly, there were some really excellent moments in 2016 (didn’t feel quite that way in December, but now that I’ve had a glimps of 2017, I’ll take all the 2016 I can get):

  • In January, BoyMowgli and I were both cast as supers (supernumeraries… ballet extras) in ABT’s Sleeping Beauty. Full disclosure, we had actual parts. The kid actually danced two kind of biggish kid roles and had his name all big in the program (he was “Hop” of “Hop o my Thumb and his brothers.”
  • In March, the kid was back at the Opera House, sporting a kilt and dancing front and center with New York City Ballet!
  • By the end of the spring, it was hard to remember what it was like not to have rehearsal. We were just relaxing into our usual routine when…
  • I fell out of a tour jete and shattered my fifth metatarsal! So yeah, that sucked.
  • I had surgery to repair it… it was yucky in there… I was put on bed rest for a month, found out I was allergic to my cast, was off of work for 6 weeks, couldn’t bathe myself… yeah it sucked.
  • PoorPapa had to take over all the ballet transport, school work checking etc… The kid slacked.
  • In June I finally graduated form crutches to a walking boot!
  • Then in July PoorPapa and I got married! (What?!?! We weren’t married? I know, right?)
  • I limped around through our honeymoon and took exactly zero cool ballet on the beach pics because, ugh. Le sigh.
  • BoyMowgli did just two weeks of class at the end of the month. Which was fine. He needed a break to reset. He wasn’t promoted at the end of the school year, and I really needed him to take a summer off and think about what he wants (or doesn’t want) out of dancing.
  • He decided to spend the summer getting serious about his flexibility. I taught him to do pilates circles. By the end of August he was about an inch away from his left splits and two or three inches from the right.
  • Obviously I did not go to SunKing this year.
  • September was back to school and The Ballet School. He refused my offers to transfer to a recreational ballet school, or take a year off of dance. He says he’s refocused. So fingers crossed.
  • Fall meant another Opera House audition. This time for The Nutcracker. This was our first nerve racking audition. It was late at night and crowded and they were cutting boys! The kiddo made it through (exhale). He was cast to be the cover for Fritz(!!!) but ultimately didn’t get to perform that. Instead he danced as a party boy. Had I been blogging then, I might have had a long post about the trauma of that… but (as with most things) it passed. He did a great job, met some new kids, we both made new friends.

And that’s what you missed in 2016.

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Once more, and this time with feeling!

Hello friends!!!

It has been so long since I last wrote in this blog, that it feels a bit insincere to go on about why I’ve been ignoring you (er. it… but you through it), so I won’t explain.

I will, in a separate post, give a belated Christmas letter summary of our 2016 should you feel moved to be caught up on the ins and outs of the ongoing saga that is life in this household.

All that being said, I logged in today to say “HELLO.” and “Let’s give it another go.”

Tonight I took my first ballet class in almost a year (you’ll have to read up on that in the un-Christmas letter). It was painful, and terrible, and ugly, and wonderful. I am out of shape, and not totally healed from injury, and my body will undoubtedly have seven or twelve things to say about that in the morning… but tonight I took class. And it felt so good.

Tomorrow we’ll be back at The Ballet School, of course, for BoyMowgli’s third day of classes for the week, so I’ll get to sing my sad sore song to the ladies at the front desk (since I haven’t been dancing chatting with them has become my primary ballet related outlet). I’m sure I’ll go on too long, and say sometime slightly socially inappropriate about something that happened during class. And we’ll all crack up. And I’ll know it’s time for me to leave. And they won’t try to stop me, because seriously Mommy, they’re trying to work!

So yeah. I’m back. We do ballet again.

Later!

I think we’re ready to talk…

Just kidding. We’ve been busy, not traumatized. But seriously, friends. It was a week!

If you’ve been following our very sporadic posts (I’m sorry. I’ll do better. Giving up flaky-ness for Lent) you know that BoyMowgli was cast to appear in Big Ballet Company’s gigantic production of The Sleeping Beauty at the Opera House, and I, his lovely though less talented mother, auditioned after him and was also cast in an adult super role.

You may also remember that Snowzilla tore through the area, and arrived just in time for theater week! Like literally the day that the company staff arrived in the area and just hours before we were due at the theater for rehearsals.

That was Friday.

Then Saturday.

Then Sunday.

By Sunday night we received the message. Come hell or (frozen) high water, we would rehearse Monday! Eight hour days were rescheduled for twelve hours to fit in all the rehearsals plus missed costume and wig fittings. The show would go on!

There were two feet of unplowed snow in our street, and the County snow removal app actually laughed at me when I submitted a plow request. “Um. No!” is a close paraphrase.

After a bit of a circular conversation with PoorPapa who suggested that we just couldn’t go, a proactive email to BBC stage managers who assured me that they understood and asked only that we do our best to get there as soon as we could, and finally route planning better suited to the Iditarod, I went to bed.

Monday morning BoyMowgli and I, dressed in snow gear, holding dance bags stuffed with three days of overnight gear over our heads, waded across the lawn… down the street… around the corner… then hiked up the most packed street we could find. From the highway we called a cab to the nearest open Metro station… took the longest metro trip to date hopping between running trains… and finally arrived near the Opera House. More walking and yay!

CollageNokiaImageSDK_5e5085a1-7d7f-433f-b9ea-dd3cee4adc5e 1The week itself, though long, and at many moments teetering too much for children (three consecutive eleven hour days? Really, dude?), was as expected in the theater. I was incredibly thankful to have the chance to participate in the production. I wouldn’t want to do it again this week (BoyMowgli does, he’s already busy rehearsing La Sylphide for the next Major Company coming through at the end of the month), but I had an unfamiliar chance to see him in this little element in which he has thrived but until now been secret from me.

For a funny little introverted kid, he manages to know everyone! And I mean everyone. Leaving through the stage door every evening, dancers from the corps would give him a pat on the shoulder, or say “see ya tomorrow.” After a lovely rising star dancer grabbed BoyMowgli in the wings to hug him and tell him congratulations after his first show in his cast B role, one of the bigger little boys in the production pulled me aside.  Assuming he knew the dancers through me, perhaps hoping for an introduction, and he asked”How exactly do you guys know That Dancer.” Sorry buddy, that’s really BoyMowgli’s friend. He’s the one to ask. He met her last year and they’ve kept up. I only know her through him.

Of course he was adorable on stage. He always is. The amount of dancing he’s doing in these productions is growing faster than I can keep up. I tell myself he’s learning things he can’t learn in the studio (true); and he’s so tall for his age the window on “children’s roles” will close for him in the blink of an eye (also true). But mostly it just makes him so happy!

It’s worth the hours of waiting at auditions, the early mornings and late nights, the negotiating with public school, the driving, the Opera House tickets, and even the snowshoeing. It’s his element. They’re his people.

This is his dance.

Anyway, we’re back at it again. La Sylphide this time! The kiddo’s dancing in the wedding reel. Another leap. More dancing, faster, more precise. This time keeping up with the company dancers behind him. I have no doubt he’ll do great, and this time I’ll get a ticket and watch him from the front of house!

But Mother Nature’s already displaying her distain for scheduled rehearsal. The Ballet Mistress is here from New York to rehears the kids this weekend, and an ice storm threatens looms in the forecast. At least this weekend is a bit off of the performance and there’s time (if not conveniently) to make it up.

Ah well. Snow. What can you do?

Snow My Gosh!

The blizzard that stole our rehearsal weekend has been dumping snow here since yesterday afternoon.

Of course it arrived just as the Big Ballet Company staff was returning and has totally disrupted what were to be our first days at the Opera House: costume fittings, and rehearsals with company.

BUT… at least it’s here this weekend and not next. The show will go on!

Last night was to be the first rehearsals for acting/non-dancing adult roles (normal super stuff). Canceled. We were sent emergency access to video to pre-learn the parts. That works okay for me… not sure about folks who have never been on stage, but it can’t hurt.

Today was to be an all day affair at the theater with rehearsals, costumes and wigs.

We open Wednesday night, so I’m bracing for the reality of combined minimal rehearsal and extremely long days once the roads clear to fit everything in.

BoyMowgli and I are getting our own rehearsal time in, however: doing what we can in the living room. Thank goodness we’re doing this together.

We haven’t gotten any instruction on undergarments, and once we make it to the theater I’m betting there will be precious little time for running to the dance shop this week. I’m hedging my bets that a dance belt and white t-shirt will be all BoyMowgli needs and a nude cami leotard will do the trick for me. Luckily we already have BoyMowgli’s dye shoes and the rest are being provided, so we’re off the hook there…

Fingers crossed for a smooth (but not slippery) next few days.

All Covered Up…

For the last couple of weeks BoyMowgli and I have been in rehearsal for Big Ballet Company’s Sleeping Beauty. We were both cast as supers, of course, but we’re doing a ton!

BoyMowgli’s dancing more in this than he did as a party boy in Nutcracker, and I have a somewhat involved “non-dancing” role and am also covering three small “dancing” characters… actual dancing… who knew adult supers danced?

In the dancing rehearsals, I’m a cover, so I’m generally in the back of the studio, marking or dancing as best I can, alternately running the parts of the three (beautiful teenaged) women I’m set to go on for in case of emergency.

But last night I rehearsed as the Ogress, so I got to dance the entire rehearsal!

An Ogre was finally  cast, so our Beloved Ballet Mistress asked me to stand in as his partner and help him learn the dance. I got to teach him the steps (which really helped me make sure I knew them) and then run it throughout the entire rehearsal as his partner who was missing… The Ogress is also blank on the casting so perhaps something is up (er not up).

There was a joke between us as we were practicing on a break, and BBM suggested that “You never know” I may end up dancing this part. I reminded that the Ogress (in a puppet costume head) is to be tall… and played by a man… and I’m neither… and she said “You’ll be surprised how many compromises can be made. You’re here. You can dance, and you know the part!”

Of course BoyMowgi (who dances with the Ogre and Ogress) had immediate fingers crossed from the hallway. He thinks that would be the coolest thing! I think it’s about the least likely thing ever. But it sure was fun last night!

In which Mowgli and Mommy both audition for the ballet!

Well, New Years Resolution Gee-it-would-be-fun-if #1 is becoming a reality (we act quickly in this house).

Big Ballet Company held supernumerary (supers… ballet extras… kids sometimes dance… often just stand or pose… adults -who are rarely called for- always just pose, or walk… or gesture) auditions yesterday for their upcoming visit and performance of their new, fancy storybook ballet. BoyMowgli and I were both cast! Yes, I said both… more on that in a moment, but the backstory is, BoyMowgli asked me to audition… then insisted… then pleaded. I figured, how many chances will I get again to be on stage with him (well not literally with him, as it turns out we’re in different Acts of the ballet, which I told him was possible before the audition), but you feel me.

The kids’ auditions were first. Early. The building was cold and industrial. The studios were even colder and the stage manager stopped me as I told BoyMowgli to take off his sweats and go line up. “Actually, he should leave them on. We’re working on the heat, but it’s very cold.”

BoyMowgli and the other boys were in the audition studio for over an hour. I kept thinking they’d be out soon. It’s supers. Their boys. Either their the right size to carry the cake/basket/staff/lamp, or their not! Then a boy we knew from Nutcracker came out. I thought, they must be done, but no one else followed. Oh, man. They’re cutting boys! Be strong BoyMowgli. And I wrapped light and love around the passel of little girls anxiously waiting to be called into the studio whose mothers I was talking to. There had to be over a hundred little girls in each size category. How many roles?

BoyMowgli finally emerged and ran down the hall (passed me actually because I’d seen the door open and walked over to it to hear announcements and he’d run to wear I was. Our life). When I made it to him he was already being congratulated and loved by the Nutcracker moms.

He’s learning two rolls. One is his, the other he’s covering, but may get to dance (because they try to get the covers on once). Both parts are featured! The part he’s covering is the lead in a boys group dance… and the boy he’s covering is easily one of the strongest dancers I’ve seen… he’s older but tiny… but WAY TO GO BOYMOWGLI!

“Mommy please do the dancing adult audition.” It seemed like a decent idea in theory a week ago when I registered BoyMowgli. But as it was the actually day it started to feel… I don’t know… silly maybe… scary too… just a lot. But the child was insistent, and my mothering self said I should at least go in and do it because he just did. Plus there’s something so endearing about your kid wanting to do something with you. BoyMowgli is, perhaps, more attached to me than other kids his age to their mothers. But even he is growing up. He likes his space. His privacy. But ballet is still ours. And my boy thought this performance would be better together. How could I say no to that.

The adult audition was that night. Late. BoyMowgli had been in rehearsal all day and dinner for each of us ended up being brunch leftovers and a buffet of snack foods picked up at the drugstore down the street.

The audition was… real.  The dancing was super simple. Just a few steps.  But other than that, it felt much more like a real dancing audition than like what I’d expected from a supernumerary audition! There were probably forty of us in the studio repeating the same little phrase across the floor… first to counts, then faster, then to music. Then again. Then numbers were called “Please make a line for ladies and a line for men.” (Not girls and boys… has ballet changed, or is that because we’re outsiders who might be offended? Or because we’re sooooo old.)

My number was called and in an American Idol moment I couldn’t tell if I was about to be cut or moved forward! I tried to look discretely at the other women being called to figure if they were “good.” I couldn’t remember. I glanced at the men’s line. The best man was there. A beautiful pre-pro teenaged girl was called to stand next to me. I exhaled.

We weren’t close to done!

We ran the simple combination a thousand more times in groups, with “our group” together. Numbers were called again. Fewer this time.

The rest of the group was told to stay for the next phase of the audition (the non-dancing parts) and we’d continue with our group (we weren’t cast… just paired down!) We went from the left. And again. Took some correction. And again. Then started lining up as numbers were called.

Like BoyMowgli I was given a good non-dancing but featured character role (which is more than I thought adult supers did anyway) as my own and the best roles to cover (I’m learning three featured dancing parts… tiny featured simple dancing super parts… but they are actual parts), but unlike the kids, adult covers are actually just covering… I won’t go on unless there’s a problem! Ego boost though… The women who actually got those roles are all beautiful teenaged girls… so if I can cover them… thanks for the genes (and the ballet lessons) Mom! The role I do get to do is a non-dancing, but featured group role. I’m excited. BoyMowgli is coming out of his skin.

I have my first rehearsals of both parts tonight. BoyMowgli has his second rehearsals for both parts this afternoon.  There’s gonna be a lot of drop-off pick-up logistics for a couple of weeks, but it’ worth it!

It’s gonna be a WDB twofer!

 

 

Happy New Year!

Some years I have clear resolutions… things I want to do that I need the courage and push of a new year to force myself to do…

This year there are some goals I guess, but they feel more like “gee, it would be fun if this year we get tos” so here goes.

  1. It would be fun to get on stage together! The first chance possibly to make that happen comes tomorrow. BoyMowgli is auditioning for a children’s role in a Big Ballet Company production. They’re calling for adults (some “dancing” and some “non-dancing” which actually means some moving on cue from one place to another or curtseying, and some standing still like a prop in one place the entire time)… The kid will go first. If he is cast, I’ll give it a try. Wish us luck.
  2. It would be fun to go back to SunKing in August. I’d like to re-see the folks I met last year, and I’m trying to get some of my other dance friends to join me because I feel like it’d be even better with dancers who think/feel about ballet in a way that I can get into.
  3. It would be fun for BoyMowgli to do a children’s summer workshop outside of The Ballet School. He’d be happy at TBS, of course, but there is a kids intensive held at another local professional school that offers more of the complementary styles and exposure to new teachers. I’d like him to have that audition experience if nothing else.
Well there you go, three’s a good number 🙂
Oh, and just because I’m greedy (well maybe also because I’m a packrat and can’t figure out  how to carry less stuff), I ordered a new dance bag from Vera Bradley yesterday! They were on sale and the heart wants what the heart wants 😉
BoyMowgli and I will have to do an upgraded “what’s in your dance bag?” post with our fancy new bags soon.
I hope everyone is off to a safe, healthy, peaceful start in 2016. Hopefully we’ll have lots of adventures to share with you in the next 366!