Thursday, June 14, 2012

Hope for Bunheads

     I'm a little late in giving a review on the show "Bunheads," but that's not entirely my fault.  On Monday night I sat on the couch in front of the T.V., ready and excited to watch it debut, only to discover I was three hours too late.  I had gotten the wrong information about the exact time of the premiere, but since the first episode would be shown again on Tuesday night, I figured that was okay.  I recorded it, then finally got the chance to watch it last night.
     I'd almost given up on "Bunheads" about halfway through it.  It wasn't holding my attention, and as is typical for just about anything shown on T.V., it had its distasteful moments that I didn't care for.  Furthermore, the acting tended to come off as forced and awkward, and I cringed at the predictability of the characters.  For example, one ballet student had the ideal dancer's body but lacked any passion for ballet, while another girl who wasn't blessed with the physique of a ballerina longed to be one.  
       As the show carried on however, I began to see something worthwhile.  It may be headed in the right direction, although I wonder if this potentially engaging story will be wasted.  The justification for such a negative outlook is based on how shallow everything felt.  But in remembering that the first episode for any show is only to be used as an introduction to the characters and their world, I'll hold out hope that "Bunheads" will eventually turn out to be a decent show.  Obviously there has not been enough time for the people, setting, or story to develop, so I must be patient.  I plan on viewing the second episode, this time with a few expectations that I hope will be fulfilled.
1.)  I will look for indications that the characters' personalities, as well as the plot, will deepen and become more interesting as the series goes on.
2.)  I desire to see more dancing in future episodes.
3.)  Something I don't want is raunchiness.  I know it's to be expected on T.V. and that there are quite a few shows that contain much more than the little bit that was in "Bunheads," but I still wish for a higher standard.

So what did you think about it?  Did you watch it?      

Monday, June 11, 2012

A New T.V. Show For Ballet

     "Bunheads," a new T.V. show about ballet dancers, premiers tonight on ABC Family.  I was excited when I first found out about this new series that will center around one of my passions.  I even wondered if it could be one of the select few that I follow.  I'm not attracted to most of what's available on T.V., but occasionally there are some good shows I enjoy.  I'll admit, I get so interested in the story and the characters that, at least during the time I'm watching the show, I almost feel as though I'm visiting their world.
     Sadly though, the few clips I've seen of "Bunheads" failed to impress me.  Maybe I'm just overly picky, but I started to lose hope that it would be any good.  Of course, I've seen so little that it's probably not fair for me to claim that I've given it an adequate chance.  So I will watch the first episode tonight.  I promise I'll keep an open mind and that I'll be willing to admit if my initial evaluation was wrong.
     What do you think?  Are you going to watch it?  Are you looking forward to it?  Do you think it will be worthwhile?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Appreciating Past Ballerinas

     Has anyone ever noticed that the most celebrated ballerinas in history would now be considered severely deficient in technical ability?  When watching old videos, I can't help but compare those dancers to the dancers of today, which is far from fair.  For their time, the ballerinas of the past were phenomenal, and I think in terms of artistry they still are.
     In anything time brings advancements, improvements, and changes.  Ballet technique should be pushed forward (although not at the expense of artistry), and witnessing the evolution of ballet excites me.  One must remember though, that the accomplishments of our current dancers take nothing away from legends such as Margot Fonteyn, Anna Pavlova, and  Alicia Alonso.
     I'll sometimes see comments on Youtube that downplay the greatness of ballet dancers who deserve respect.  They must not understand that what former dancers contributed to ballet helped bring this art form where it is today.  Ballet couldn't start out the way it is now.  It had to go through different stages in order to morph into its present state.  
     It's also vital to realize that the ballet dancers from generations past showed amazing artistry that pulled audiences in.  They were musical, emotional, dramatic, gentle, transparent.  I get goosebumps watching Anna Pavlova's dying swan, simple as it is.  Let us never become disillusioned and believe there is nothing we can learn from past ballerinas.  They have so much to teach us.    

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Running Again!!!

I ran for the first time last Friday morning after a strange pain in my leg forced me to take a two week break.  I woke up that morning excited to get moving again, although I knew I would have to stop at twenty minutes.  Anything longer will aggravate my leg, so for now I must refrain from running as much as I want to.  Still, just being out in my peaceful neighborhood allows me to get a taste for my new interest that's slowly growing into a passion.
Since last Friday I've gone on a total of four runs, and each time I feel less apprehensive about my leg.  At first I was worried that my leg would protest, keeping me from running at all, but now I feel confident that as long as I control the length of my runs my troublesome leg will keep quiet.  I can't wait to go running tomorrow morning, bright and early.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Battement Tendu

     How is it that such a simple, seemingly uncomplicated move holds so much importance? Battement Tendu, that boring exercise that dancers are forced to practice in every class, is essential to developing impressive technique that amazes audiences.  It may be hard to believe, but in order to perform jaw-dropping leaps, one must first master the tendu.
     I personally never dreaded this humble move, most likely because I actively engaged my mind during each tendu I ever practiced. By evaluating how I was executing the movement, I  determined what needed further refinement, then attempted to carry out the desired changes.  I was never fully satisfied with my own tendus, and no matter how many years had passed since my introduction to them, I always felt like they could be improved upon. Other dancers should also give this rudimentary step the attention it deserves.  The dancers who continually challenge themselves to polish their tendus may be able to expect a greater return for their efforts.
     Most dancers probably realize that tendus are necessary, considering they are included in every class, but I wonder how many dance students truly understand why they are so valuable.     It would be helpful for dancers to know that tendus are used to attain certain critical aspects of ballet, such as:

Strength in the feet and ankles
2.)  Precise articulation of the feet during jumps  Jumping becomes easier and safer when  technique learned from tendus gets carried over to jumps. 
3.) Better balance  Keeping the standing leg steady and strong while the working leg moves and changes positions teaches dancers how to remain on balance during movement.   
4.)  Ingrained habit of pointing the toes Classical ballet requires the toes to be fully stretched.  Regularly pointing the toes for a simple move makes it easier to remember to do so during more difficult steps. 
5.) Awareness of how to work the legs and feet in every movement  Correct tendus call for proper placement while moving the leg, the ability to maintain turnout, remembering to point the toes, brushing through the whole foot, and slight shifts of weight.  These basic skills that are needed for every move in ballet are partially obtained through diligently practicing tendus.     

     George Balanchine expressed his opinion that quality tendus are necessary when he said, “If you just do battement tendu well, you don't have to do anything else.”  If one of the greatest choreographers and major contributors to the ballet world believed in the importance of tendus, than they must be worthwhile.
     These other bloggers wrote some great information about tendus that deserves a look.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Ballerinas Aren't Supposed To Turn In

      Remember my post about how the inner ballerina never dies, regardless of whether the dancer is still dancing or not?  I proved that yesterday at my doctor appointment.  I wanted his help for a running injury, but as usual ballet followed me.
     To test for pain the doctor gently moved my leg through various positions.  At one point he grabbed my knee, turned my leg in, and started to push it towards me.
     "What's wrong?" he suddenly asked, taking me by surprise.  "You just made a face."
     I felt no pain, not even the slightest bit of physical discomfort, but I was still cringing inwardly.  Apparently though, I had let my emotions slip out and show on my face, which I was completely unaware of until he pointed it out to me.
     "Now what am I supposed to say?" I wondered to myself.  "How is he going to understand that I'm a ballerina and I'm not supposed to turn in?  He's going to think I'm crazy!"
     I explained as best I could (while feeling a little ridiculous) that I felt no pain, but as a ballet dancer I never turn in.  It just felt wrong.  Luckily for me he was professional enough to keep any comments to himself.  Although he did tease me when he pushed me leg in a turned out position, saying something like, "Is this more natural for you?"
     Later on he asked me to jump up and land without bending my knees.  After my first attempt I thought I had done what he wanted, until he said to do it again, this time without landing on my toes first.  Whoops.
     It's great to know that I carry my ballet training with me; however, next time I'm doing something un-balletic I'm going to try to refrain from making any unflattering faces.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Visit To The Doctor

     I'm so relieved!!  I had my appointment with the running injury specialist today and found out why my leg has been bothering me.  Doesn't it always feel better when you have answers?
  Apparently the flexibility that had helped me as a ballet dancer is not great for me as a runner.  To simplify what the doctor explained to me, my joints have little stability because of their wide range of motion.  This lack of security affected my hips as I ran.  Now that I know what is causing the problem, the doctor is going to guide me through a personalized program that will prevent the pain from occurring again.  In the meantime, I've been approved to run as much as my leg allows.  That means shorter runs than I was previously doing, but that's okay for now.  I'm just thrilled to be out on the streets again.