June, 2014 - La Bayadère - Kingdom of the Shades - originally published January 13, 2015 right after she'd stepped down to the smaller studio. This photograph was taken in June, 2014
She made it through the first audition but not the second. I suppose I shouldn't be so disappointed as I'd placed her in 7 to begin with, setting expectations one year below company but she'd done well enough the first day and come out bouncing that both sets of expectations bounced off the scale.
We shouldn't have done that. The Artistic Director makes the final decision with and will take into consideration feedback from the first instructor but I think the bottom line is that two hours on pointe on dead shoes was too much. I watched her struggle and I had one thought while I'm sure the artistic director had another entirely. My thought was, my god, this kid isn't giving up! She's going to the mirror when she's not getting it instead of caving in on herself and she's laughing it off and meanwhile I expect, after listening carefully the artistic director was thinking, kid, you are not ready for this and you are slowing me the fuck down. I have a room full of 6, 7 and 8 dancers and you are not ready to keep up with my 8s in this class. For this semester, she tells me, Elizabeth will be placed in 7 where the Friday instructor will slow it down. I'm thinking, OK, slow it down and what you're trying to teach her, those variations, can be learned a little more slowly on a new pair of shoes. I'm good with that.
Friday rolls around and I witness the tail end of class and there are three 7s in there and there is a world of difference. A gulf between them. Years. OK, maybe just 2 but enough. Elizabeth has been going non-stop since summer, 2013 and these girls and the 8s go no more than 10 hours at best, the 7s no more than 7, maybe 8 if they have a lyrical or jazz class and they're moving ever so slowly. They have been on pointe for two years and they are where she was more than a year ago. She will lose her extension at the very least if she remains in this class.
But there is nowhere for her to go.
I contemplate laying down a marley floor in my living room. This can be done. I am insane.
I realize she can practice in an empty studio on Tuesday evenings for an hour and on Saturdays for 45 minutes. She mustn't lose her extension. I think this is probably more important than anything else. She struggles with it anyway. Adagio is at 4 count here and she's been doing 6 count and the 7s don't really do that much. I feel sick thinking about what will happen. I think about those turns too which is what had me worry about the gap between 7 and 8/company. There is almost no center work in 7. This is so not good. So she has to do this on her own. It's very hard to do work on your own; really it is. The best you can do is try to remember the variations you've been taught, bring your music in and practice those over and over again. Kingdom of the Shades is all about adagio and the music is beautiful. She will be in studio B tonight which is in the back which means almost no one will be watching her. She will feel safer. She won't have so much room for the diagonal but she'll be ok.
The question is whether she needs someone sitting in there with her. She has a few variations from the land of the sweets but can any of us really stand to hear one more piece from the nutcracker? I'm about ready to gag, personally. They were about to learn something from Giselle when she left which is another Vaganova ballet but what the hell. She's likely to pick that up from a YouTube video if she gets tired of Shades, which she will. And there are only so many piques you can do around the room before your head gets ready to explode.
We've added her to the Jazz III class which comes 45 minutes after the Ballet 8 technique class on Saturdays which she's also attending. This is the kid who originally just wanted to be in 7 so she wouldn't have to go more than 3 days a week and now I've got her up to 9 hours a week and she's wondering, where's the rest of my meal? This is a snack, Mom.
Violin lessons are on Monday nights. She doesn't go anywhere. The lovely instructor comes to her. 45 minutes later she leaves again. The thing is, there is no commuting. She was in the studio from 10:30 - 2 on Saturday but she didn't leave the house until 10:05 and she got home at 2:25 as opposed to leaving at 9:30 and returning at 4. Ish. Unless there was rehearsal in which case it might have been 7. Ish. After dropping off two other girls.
There is nothing wrong here. We're just not all the way there and it's mid-year. If I were the artistic director I wouldn't want to throw her into the mix either if I was intent on having a truly cohesive group. I'm not convinced she couldn't keep up but then I'm not the one that needs to be convinced. It's not my company.