Step 30: Apprenticeship – the Reality

Hello fellow bloggers and readers,

I am terribly sorry I haven’t written in many many months. All I can say is that LIFE IS HARD, but there are moments that are so rewarding. This might be a lengthy post, but it is a recap of everything I’ve been through from my California leave to now.

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Being a dancer

Why else would you waste money and time being here [in the studio], if you’re only going to leave without making any money and tired? You need to have those moments that make you realize that you love doing this!

-Kristina Flutey 

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Backtracking:

When I moved to Chicago, I did so with a single two-week paycheck and no prospect of any job here. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to my mother before I moved here since I was spending a lot of time with my partner, at the time. I am sure that 90% of everyone was disappointed that I left a very promising future in Physics for the pursuit of happiness in dance. A week or two after moving to Chicago, my partner and I broke up. It was the one relationship I wanted more than anything, the most serious I’ve ever had, but it wasn’t right to begin with. Right from the start of it – I wasn’t enough and people will get what they want, no matter where it is they get it. That is how I knew it was serious – I went through a deep heartbreak, but stayed to try to work it out – in the end, it wasn’t meant to be.

This caused a temporary rift between my best friend, Marco and I. He saw that I deserved better, when I was blinded by the “rose colored eyes”. Thank goodness he forgave me and is my number 1 supporter now. 

When I arrived in Chicago, I was lucky enough to have a great friend, and fellow scholarship student, English S, who allowed me to live with her. Unfortunately, we had a bad housing situation with the couple we lived with and both had to move out of there. I had finally found a job, a week or two later, at the LEGO store. 

Working for LEGO has to be the most depressing job I ever had. The people I worked with were relatively nice, but they seemed so involved with the store’s drama that it was hard to breathe. The customers were the worst part of it – so needy, greedy and bitchy. I’d grow so frustrated that I’d always hate the thought of going to work. It didn’t feel as though my days off were really days off.. it just drained the life out of me. I would choose not to do anything the days I had work – other than the required scholarship classes in the morning to midday.

When the snow hit, I was in an even worse state. Coming from California, I didn’t realize what snow clothes were. I also didn’t realize what cold was. Period. Enough said about that.

After the holidays, where I had the chance of going to see my mom, I was lucky enough to find a new job. I had a Donation Call Center job, which was a step up from LEGO, but still quite bad. The company had a very iffy feel to it, and they worked by having people crank out high money through these phone calls while paying them bare minimum wage, with the promise of higher pay after a month. I didn’t have experience with these type of companies, and soon realized the meaning of the term “the revolving door”. They would work people to the bone for a month or two, on “probation”, then fire them and get new people who would go through the same cycle. In-genius, but awful.

In the month of February, I had the opportunity to visit a local suburb, Crystal Lake, and perform with the amazing Becky Mikos for her church. We did a splendid and lovely duet, which made many people a bit emotional and fulfilled me in every way as an artist.

During my time with this company, I began auditioning. 

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Auditions Attended and Results:

*Giordano Dance – Made it through 3 rounds of rep

*Oklahoma City Ballet – Made it through until after pirouettes

*Visceral Dance Chicago – Made it through ballet class

*Hubbard Street Dance Chicago – Made it through ballet class

*River North Dance Chicago – Made it through first round of rep

*Thodos Dance Chicago – Made it through interview, but was called a week later with unfortunate news that there was nothing I could be offered.

*Adidas Runner Model – Got through the callback 

*New Dances (show for Thodos) – Got cast in Annie Duetz work

*Hedwig Dances (male audition) – made it through first day

*Hedwig Dances (company audition) – made it past callback 

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After the Thodos audition, I went looking for another job. That is when my luck turned around. I found the best job I’ve ever had and my place here in Chicago at COOP Gym. I am very happy here, and love it immensely. I work out there before going to my scholarship classes and it has given me an extra boost of power. I love every single person that I work with and I’m lucky to have them and the members in my life.

I was given the opportunity of working with Annie Duetz for her work for the New Dances show. It was such a great experience which taught me so much! 

Here is a promo of her work:

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/100526891″>Choreographer Spotlight: Annie Deutz</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/thodosdance”>Thodos Dance Chicago</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

It turns out that I was even luckier than I thought to be in this work. I was given the opportunity to have a duet with Sarah C, another great friend and former scholarship student. The day of our dress rehearsal, we had auditioned for Hedwig Dances and got to partner with each other. The next day, opening night, we found out that we both had a callback!

Fast forward to a couple of weeks later, and we both showed up to the callback. Once again, we got to partner with each other at the audition. Today, Aug 1st, we were both offered an apprentice position for Hedwig Dances. 🙂

You just never really know.

Now that I have an apprenticeship, which doesn’t start until later next month with an intensive, the real work begins. I’ve gone through such pain, injuries and trials this year alone; but that is nothing compared to the work I need to put into this to hopefully get a position as a full company member with Hedwig. I’m so more than excited to be working with these incredibly talented and mature dancers and I have so many people to thank!

Here is a clip of some of Hedwig’s work:

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/74125033″>LineofSighsSelectionweb</a&gt; from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user2972120″>Hedwig Dances</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Before there was the Lou Conte Scholarship Program at Hubbard Street Dance Center, there was my home in California:

Mom, who is the center of my whole Universe. I owe her nothing, yet I would give her my life.

My blood family and my Carreon family, who all have helped shape me into who I am now and have supported me through thick and thin.

Darlene Z, this lady gave me the biggest opportunity of all. She gave me a dance scholarship and believed so much in a boy who had known nothing about dance.

Doris Ressl, one of my best friends now and the one person I battled at first. She showed me that dance was my truest of passions and helped me discover that this was what I was meant to do. 

Marco C, my bestest of all friends and a huge part of my family. He, along with Doris, helped me get to where I am now. He is my number 1 fan and will always be a huge part of my life.

Kenneth W, who gave such great kickass ballet classes.

While in scholarship I learned so much thanks to the great instructors we had. 

Beruite, Monday ballet, as well as second ballet class instructor who taught us more than just great technique. She taught us that there needs to be life and joy in dancing. “People with circus bodies are nice to watch, but not for two hours! I want to be an individual on stage, not a circus performer.”

Lizzie, Monday contemporary, she taught us to find new ways of moving, precision and expressive technique. 

Nicole, Tuesday Pilates. She might be little but she is quite fierce. She taught me strength, and to never underestimate myself.

Claire, Tuesday and Friday ballet and Friday Pilates, who really should be called Momma Claire. She mentored us all, and through her we have found new heights. I owe her the majority of this. She gave me a chance and an opportunity. She also gave me the inspiration to be more.

Victor, Tuesday Cuban Contemporary, my main man! Victor is someone who I looked up to always. He showed us that we could go so much further with our movement, and he taught me all I needed to know to get this far. Streeeeeetch!

Laura, Wednesday ballet, who taught us that ballet isn’t just 2-D. You need to feel the spiraling of the Universe! It is because of you that the Universe spirals!

Anna, Wednesday Gaga, she taught me about me Lena! A shake is a quake that happens to you!

Meredith/Lucas/Terry, Thursday ballet subs, who really taught me so much in the Hubbard Street Intensive and throughout the year. I especially owe so much to Meredith, who without her, I probably wouldn’t have chosen to move to Chicago. She’s a huge inspiration.

Frankie/Ricky, Thursday contemporary, these guys who taught me to be much more expansive than I was being. See every corner in the room. Let the air move through the fingers and back.

Kristina, Friday Laban. Kristina is such an inspiration to me and she will never know it. She is the kindest person alive, so full of knowledge, and has such a love of dance. She has probably helped me progress the most with my body awareness and development. Another big inspiration of mine.

Erin, Horton sub, who tried to teach me to be SNATCH!

Also, the following subs: Jessie G, Michele R, Kristina I, Margie C, Wini H, Ben W, Glenn E, Robyn M, Jamie M, Patti E, Kirsten S, G Bagley, Kim C, Shannon J, Trae T, Sarah S, Ariane D, Ethan K, Tammy M, Melinda W, and everyone I forgot to mention!

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Almost a whole year has passed since I left, and I never thought I’d see this day. It fills me with happiness, but also fear and sorrow of what is to come.

The journey hasn’t ended at all. On the contrary, it has just begun. Once I leave scholarship (not for another couple of weeks), will I have to juggle trying to prove myself in this company by working to my fullest potential, keeping up with my ballet classes on my own, my job at COOP, and everything else that is involved. 

I’m not quite sure what the future holds, but I know I ain’t going down without a fight.

Much Love,

Ruben

Week 14&15: Buddies and Injuries

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Haven’t posted in a couple of weeks because I have been SO BUSY!

Of course, last week I continued the 6:30a yoga at Chicago School of Yoga. It went very well, except for the fact that I did not get much sleep at all last week. That weekend wasn’t much help either since I had another paid photo/video-shoot and work all weekend. Needless to say, this week has gone somewhat better.

I did commit to the 6:30a yoga only on Monday and Tuesday of this week. However, by Wednesday, I was so exhausted that I couldn’t handle waking up so early. I skipped yoga on Wed, Thu and Fri! But, my body and mind have felt so much better with the added rest. Unfortunately, I got injured a bit on Thursday and still decided to take ballet on Friday. Because of this, I couldn’t finish off my Friday classes and now I’m lying in bed (lazily) watching Lord of The Rings and eating chocolate cake + popcorn. I’m sure this isn’t conducive to my pre-audition regimen but I think I deserve it!

This week I have committed to taking at least three dance technique courses per day (meaning two ballet and one modern/contemporary) and a Pilates class when it fits the schedule. I believe the fact that I just abruptly did the second ballet class everyday (even after being exhausted and with little rest AND a morning yoga class each morning on Mon and Tues) is the reason why I am now lying in bed like a cow. But I like cows, so its okay!

Last week was very nice because I got to meet Maxine Patronik! Now you might be wondering why this matters at all. Well, Maxine is an incredible dancer who I met through this very blog! She actually started reading my blog, then contacted me, which eventually led to her adding me on Facebook, and lastly, her getting back home for winter break and taking Claire’s class with me!!! 🙂 Maxine is originally from the Chicago area, and so she has danced here before. She even has her own blog!! Check it out: http://truthofthemovement.wordpress.com/
She’s in the LINES Ballet BFA program. 🙂

This weeks highlights:

  • First official week of doing the 2nd ballet class everyday!
  • Guest instructor – Monique – on Thursday. I love her class!
  • Taking HSDC Company Class THU morning because our studio was ice cold when we got there. (O.M.G) 😀
  • Pulling my groin. 😦 (working too hard, possibly?)

Not much else to say. Auditions are right around the corner and once this injury/sprain/pull heals I will be so on it! 🙂

My audition list for this season:

  1. Giordano Dance – Feb 2nd
  2. Oklahoma City Ballet – Feb 16th
  3. Visceral Dance – March 2nd
  4. HS2 – March 8&9th
  5. Thodos Dance – March 15th
  6. Milwaukee Ballet – March 16th
  7. River North Dance – March 23rd
  8. Minnesota Ballet – April 5th

I might add or subtract some. But this is the rough outline. So… Ya’ll have something to look forward to VERY soon. 😀

If you have any suggestions on any other auditions, or know of any that I didn’t post on here that I’m attending, please let me know!

Ruben

Week 13: Christmas-Wedding-Sketch-Shoot 2014

Welcome back!
I haven’t updated in a while.

I went on a hiatus because it was the Christmas break, which meant that we had TWO whole weeks of off training. My body really needed that. I did absolutely NOTHING! I know that sounds bad, but I think I recovered in areas that were in a bit of pain before. Although, I did lose A LOT of my physical fitness and dancer-related muscle.

The first week I would wake up and feel so much unusual pain in areas I hadn’t felt all Fall semester long! I think it was my body rejuvenating itself, the hard way.

I did go back home to California for the break, which was SO fantastic! It was nearly 80 degrees the entire week I was there. 🙂 (This meant that Christmas didn’t really feel like Christmas.) But it was great to see all my friends and family.

On my first few days, I stayed with my best friend, Marco, and went to Doris Ressl and Royce Acosta’s wedding. (My first conscious wedding!) It was the BEST wedding EVEEERRRR!! If I ever get married, I want one just like theirs! I would say that his ring was the best male groom ring I had ever seen: it had a gear in the middle which moved the top and bottom bands. They had their wedding at the little dog park by their house in Long Beach, Ca. They also had a beautiful little lady making unlimited (note: the unlimited) crapes for the reception. I learned how to line dance from Doris’ cousin. And we finished the night with Marco’s enchilada casserole and Chanandra&Darrel’s peach cobbler! YUM.

Here are a few pictures:

Sonia, Marco, the pups, and the bride&groom:
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Wedding cake + lego cake-topper (courtesy of yours truly):
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Bride&Groom interpretive ritual wedding dance:
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ME and Abbey with the bride (we both caught the bouquet!!!!!!):
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After the wedding, I went to spend a few days and Christmas with my momma! ❤
It was the best seeing her. She is so hard working and just an all around amazing mother. Seriously. I couldn't ask for a better role model, friend, mother, and mentor in my life. She is everything I want to be when I grow up. Luckily, she didn't work the entire time I was there, so we spent a lot of time together. 🙂 Most of everyone came over on Christmas Eve… Then on Christmas Day, my mother woke me up (like she used to when I was a little boy, by shaking me, hugging me, and getting me excited about something cool) and she took me on a little road-trip through the Yosemite Mountains (my first time). It was the COOLEST and most BEAUTIFUL sights to see, even if we didn't actually go in the park. That is a moment I'll never forget.

The next day my momma went back to work and I went back to Marco's since I'd be flying out a day later. I spent more time with Doris&Royce, which was so nice. (Like old times)

I returned to Chicago the next day, got here quite late and went straight to bed. I had Pilates the day after my return, as well as work. Eventually, later in the week, I found a Groupon for unlimited yoga at the Chicago School of Yoga: http://www.chicagoschoolofhotyoga.com/
I now go to the 6:30a classes before warm up and sometimes to the evening classes, too!

Monday showed me the WORST of the worst when it comes to Midwestern weather.
Tuesday was also quite rough. My friend Emely from work and I went to the 6:30a and got there a bit late. This was awful because we didn't get to take class and we had to hang out in the cold (eventually at McDonalds) for an hour. We started our new semester with 9a Pilates, then returned to Ballet and Contemporary. It was good to see all of my amazing instructors again. Although, it was rough to be back. All muscle and control I had was gone, but luckily, so was the tension. That night, all the tension came back though, during work. :-/ ha!

Wednesday: 6:30a yoga was fantastic! It really woke me up. Started warming up at 8:30a, followed by Ballet and Contemporary after. I was drastically sore from the day before, but Laura did help by pointing out a few of my many mistakes in class. I really love corrections, it just escalates your growth. Laban was just what I needed after extreme soreness.. But it just showed me how tight I had become after a day of dancing.

Thursday: 6:30a yoga, woke me up. I feel like the 6:30 yoga classes are a bit more physical since they treat it as the people's only workout for the day. Its hard having a challenging class, followed by a full day of dancing! Warm up, ballet and contemporary. We had Meredith for ballet, which was SO AMAZING. Her classes are one of my favorites, and her energy really inspires me so much! I learned a lot from this class (as I do from all classes). This evening, I went to take the inversions class at the yoga studio. I learned to do many new inversions, which was so awesome!!!!!!!! I was inspired by this video:

Friday: 6:30a yoga, exhausted at this point. Warm up, ballet and contemporary. Today we had a guest for contemporary, which was Rebecca Lemme. Her class was a SUPER released based, floor wildness class. I was EXHAUSTED halfway into this one. A lot of inversions. 🙂 Instead of Pilates, we had a Physical Therapy lecture/activity class. We learned and did, a lot of effective warming up exercises which can help prevent injuries and strengthen. We also learned new rolling out techniques, one of which HURT like no other!

After that, I rushed over to an interview I had. (Still no word back from them :-/) I grabbed lunch after the interview and went to perform at Chicago’s Annual Comedy SketchFest! I was performing with a group called THUNDERDOME: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Thunderdome/222463937894033
They’re quite funny and such great people. This wasn’t the type of performance I thought it’d be, but it was fun! There was a lot of improvisation on the spot, due to lack of information, what they wanted and stage size/slipperiness. We did a dance to “It’s Raining Men”, a tribal dance, and a sped-up-clown-chase-song-dance-thing… Not what I expected, but again, it was FUN! Also great to be in front of an audience again.

Saturday: Had a photo-shoot early in the morning before work. Then I worked. Then I had another photo-shoot. The second shoot was a promotion for a run that’s sponsored by Miller Lite and themed of Rollie Fingers.
This guy:
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It was my first group shoot. And it was really fun. Me, one guy, and three girls. All wearing sweat bands, running shorts, shirts, long socks, curly mustache’s like Finger’s, wigs, beer hats, and sporting Miller Lite in some shoots. It was really fun to do this one.

Well.. That’s all I have for ya folks. Gonna watch my favorite web-series The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl:

You gotta watch up to the 6th episode to REALLY get into it. It is HILARIOUS!

Oh and I have one more FUNNY video to show. It is a sketch on the Chicago-style Pilates class. Go to this link: http://clearlyinc.blogspot.com/2009/06/chicago-style-pilates-class.html?spref=fb

Ruben

Week 7: Shooting for the top

To my own sorrow, this week flew by so darn quickly! In some ways it was good, and in others, too short!

Sat/Sund:

I worked all of last weekend, which in itself is uneventful, except for the fact that I had a photo-shoot! It was on the beautiful Sunday, with a ton of sunshine and warmth (which was a fleeting moment in Chicago), the shoot took place at Millennium Park and its surrounding areas. I really enjoyed this shoot, since it was just plain fun! Here are some of the pictures I took:
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Other than the photo-shoot, I spent my time immersing myself at the Cultural Center, which I consider to be my second home. Literally. If I am not working at LEGO or in dance class, odds are that you will find me somewhere in this magnificently beautiful building. I feel at home here, I have since the summer, for some reason. I love everything it has to offer: art, architecture, peace..

Monday:

Began my day with Beruite’s ballet class, which as usual, is fantastic, except myself!!!! Argggg to myself today for not being better. I’m assuming since I didn’t dance all weekend beforehand, nor did I do any type of conditioning, that my body was pretty wonky today. I felt very weak, tired and in pain throughout this class. I was pretty much out of placement, more than usual at least, the entire class. I tried my best though.

Lizzie gave a fantastic class, with a gorgeous phrase at the end. She touched upon committing to the movement, rather than going through the motions. She said that we should dance everything, even the little movements like roll ups. I was giving everything I had in her class, which wiped me out!!!! I will say that the class has come a long way, as a whole, when it comes to the improv-follow along exercise..its nice because it allows everyone to grow and explore, much much more!

I decided to take Beruite’s ballet class afterwards, but, unfortunately I only made it to the end of barre. 😦 Even during barre I was all over the place. My body was exhausted, completely. I was just everywhere, and she told me not to feel bad to be leaving after the barre. She is right, I need to listen to my body.

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Tuesday:

Nicole gave an amazing Pilates class this morning. I enjoy Pilates because I focus on the little muscles that I never access during ballet (even though I should be!). Today’s favorite exercise was the side-kick series. Basically, it is an exercise that is done throughout all of Pilates which allows you to engage your rotators, but FORCES your awareness to the hip and leg connection. It is pretty obvious when you are hiking your hip up and when you’ve let go of your power-house. I recommend this exercise to anyone, especially right before a ballet class!

Claire gave an incredibly difficult class: challenging and fun. I was still a bit off, but the Pilates class did help a huge deal! I wont say that I was perfect, or even close to it, but I did try my hardest in this class (well…in every class). I just wish that I had less “off-days” than I do “on-days”. My thought was that the previous week’s progressions would have rolled along to this week, but I didn’t find that to be so. Either way, I still look in the mirror and am so proud of myself everyday. We all should be.

During Victor’s class, we expressed our tiredness and asked for an easy class. He agreed, thankfully!! His class wasn’t “easier” it was just slower with more details, which was perfect! He broke down the Cuban-Contemporary technique to a T.. But I’d say what I learned most from this specific class was what he told us in the beginning, he said, “When you are tired, it is a good time to pull back and focus on the details of your technique, instead of trying to push through and getting bad, sloppy habbits..” he also said, “…I trained in this style for many, many years, and the company didn’t perform works from the technique, it was taught to make us move differently as dancers..” I would say that these two combined where ideal, since I needed to hear that. I focused on the details of this style, which essentially initiates movement from the pelvis through spinal contractions and waves, etc. I love his classes.

Work.

Wednesday:

In Laura’s ballet class, I was showed the spiraling of the back required to do a proper arabesque. I was also taught that I shouldn’t try to keep my hips and pelvis statically square, because then I’ll never go anywhere! I should allow my pelvis to tip, and hips to open up slightly during arabesque. Genius. Also, I completely “ate it” during this class, while going across the floor… It was very embarrassing. At least I can say that I’ve fallen in class now.

Kristina’s class was phenomenal. We explored more of the 3-d dancing, through spacial dimensions. We learned the differences of planar, linear and dimensional dancing through spoking, carving and spiraling. I enjoy how my mind and body must work together through her Laban training, its very interesting and engaging. We also started this class standing, which was different, but very exciting! I was told that in this class, I could splay my ribs and stick my tush out as much as I wanted!!! ha! I love her. 🙂

Work.

Thursday:

Started with Terry’s guest ballet class. This was a phenomenal class since I felt more in tune with my body and was giving it all I had. I felt like I did great! It was also nice to have the second company there taking class with us, to inspire and observe. I’m guessing we weren’t using enough plie because a chunk of the roofing fell onto the studio floor during grand allegro and he attested that it was the “gods fury” by tossing stones, since we did not plie upon landing. He also gave a word on contemporary thought during ballet class, without leaving the essence of ballet behind. Very knowledgeable and inspiring class.

We had Ricky, again, as a guest instructor for contemporary. I enjoyed his class so much, even the phrase at the end was great (although, I was not a fan of the song choice. I think it might have been Justin Timberlake..) I focused more on the expansion of my body, but while trying not to allow my body to become discombobulated.

After classes were done, I was too exhausted to try to take Beruite’s ballet 😦 so I stuck around and spoke with my great friend, Federika. I must say she is such a sweetheart. She has a heart and personality of gold, and she is a FANTASTIC dancer! I enjoy her energy in and out of class.. she just makes you feel as though anything is possible. She is originally from Italy, and is a scholarship student, too. We spoke about auditions and companies and agreed that we will shoot for THE TOP, no matter what!!!! 🙂 If we don’t try then we wont ever find out what could have happened. Also, it was upon speaking to her that I realized that if I didn’t believe in myself, no one else would. I will begin to have more faith in myself and let go of myself and just DO IT. She really is a treasure. I can write novels on her, but I will hold off for the moment. 😉

Friday:

Today, I spoke with someone else who I found to be quite inspiring (ever since I’ve seen him, and more so after speaking with him).. I’m not sure what his name is, but he is a fantastic dancer who takes classes every now and then. He used to be in HS2, a few years ago, but got injured and had to stop. His dancing is phenomenal but what gets me is his personality! Just speaking with him is inspiring. It was such a pleasure, and I hope to speak and learn from him again.

Before Claire’s amazing ballet class began, Federika did something soooooo amazing….She gave me HER superman t-shirt. Oh my god.. I almost cried! It was the most random and amazing gesture. I mean, Superman is my favorite superhero, but it just meant so much more to me than that. He represents someone who can do ANYTHING: strong, bold and fearless. With her help, and drive, I will be just that. WE will be. I really do appreciate having her in my life SO MUCH.. words cannot describe.

Claire’s class was amazing after the morning. I had my friend Chloe go in separate groups as I, so we could analyze each other and give corrections. I will say that this helped me out A LOT. One thing I focused on, which she pointed out, was to dance LOOOOONNNNGGGGEEERRR, since I was starting to look short. When I did this, I felt my Pilates training and I felt different… but GOOOD!!!! It was fantastic! I just felt great in this class. Afterwards, the super awesome nice guy taught me a few foot stretches since my foot has been cramping and painfully, hurting.

Gaga with Ana was just a dream come true. I was able to feel my skin and bones. I felt new areas that were left un[dance]touched, they felt out of place yet familiar. It was such a great feeling to get to them.. I can equate the feeling to a hot night, lying on your pillow and turning it so many times until you find that ONE patch of untouched cold.. then it fades slowly and warms up. It is such beauty to the body to move in such an organic and primal way.

Scholarship Pilates with Claire… Hmm.. I would say that this has been my BEST session, so far!!! I felt an odd feeling (which turned out to be my deepest abdominals) during this class. I also felt a very long length through the body and power through the rotators. It is my belief that if I were to take Pilates more often, then I’d allow my body to remember it and access it during ballet. I must do this from now on. I want to be stronger. I will be.

Work.
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The week began quite challenging, within the body, but progressed very quickly. I feel great at the end of it all. I do need to focus on doing more Pilates, and stretching throughout the week. I should also do these two on the days I can’t make classes (Sat and Sund). I am so lucky to have all the people I have in my life.

I believe in myself, and I just want you all to know that I am shooting for the TOP!!
Like Yoda says, “Do or not do, there is no try.”
I will do.

Ruben

Week 6: Gaga

This has been the most tiring week I’ve had here, but also, it has been the best week, too!

For starters, all I can say is: everything.is.sore.

Sunday:

Volunteered for the Lou Conte Dance Studio bi-annual open house, where anyone from anywhere can come and take open classes all day for free (we have a set schedule). It was such a fun day! We offered beginner classes in all genres of dance, from ballet to Bollywood! We raffled a few prizes: a t-shirt, 10-class card and 2 tickets to see Hubbard Street in their December show (my favorite)! We will be hosting another one, in case someone out there would like to attend! I highly encourage it!

Spent the rest of the day working on this little film, which is now DONE, ENJOY! *and please, let me know what you think about it!*

Monday:

Ballet with Beruite, never missing a beat. I find that the start of the week is always MUCH harder than the end of the week. Particularly with Mrs Beruite, whose ballet class is tougher and rougher than most expect it to be. It was a great class, where she focused on pulling up the two little muscles underneath the pubic area to find turn out, rather than clenching the butt, forcefully tightening muscles and restricting movement by doing so.

Lizzie went further into detail with her phrase from the last week.. God, this one really touches the spot. Today, it reminded me of my best friend Marco.. I really miss him. It also reminded me of my mother, and sisters. Here is a phrase from the spoken word that we danced to:

This is my heartbeat
Like yours, it is a hatchet
It can build a house, or tear one down
My mouth is a fire escape
The words coming out don’t care that they are naked
There is something burning in here
When it burns, I hold my own shell to my ear
Listen for the parade when I was seven
The man who played the bagpipes wore a skirt
He was from Scotland- I wanted to move there
Wanted my spine to be the spine of an unpublished book
My fate, the first and last page

Following contemporary, I took another ballet class with Beruite. This one, strangely, much more difficult than the one in the morning. What I enjoy most about taking Beruite’s classes each week, other than the required Monday morning ballet, is that she emphasizes one majorly small but crucially important detail, all week. Eventually, it sinks into your body and becomes ingrained into your mind, almost like second nature.

I picked up The Hobbit to read as my CTA Silent Sustained Reading time! 🙂 I am planning to begin with The Hobbit, continue with the Lord of The Rings Trilogy, then get into the Star Wars Saga collection.

Tuesday:

Began my morning with Pilates! Nicole taught a very challenging Pilates class, which focused on core (duh) but she also focused on turn out. I learned a new exercise, which is now my newest FAVORITE exercise in Pilates: The Clam-shell! It really helped me feel where my turn out was coming from, and what it felt like! It also helps to feel how to raise your leg, while keeping the turn out, without hiking up the hip. I’d suggest anyone, especially dancers, to try this – against a wall.

Claire taught class today, and it was fantastic! She has me so warmed up, by the time center came I was very ready. I focused on my arms and connection to my back all week, beginning with this class. I felt as though I did great today… exceeeeept… There was a moment where I was going across the floor with someone, during grand allegro, and he messed up and stopped going, but I was giving it my all – going harder than ever – only to stop mid-allegro, before the big finish because everyone started to cheer me on and…I FORGOT!!! I forgot what came next!!!!!! Arrrrggggggg, such a nice moment otherwise 🙂 I love her classes! I felt great!

Victor’s class was very fun and difficult, as usual. What I enjoy about this class is the reminder not to cut the movement short. Also, the engagement of the C-curve and use of the back to initiate movement. He said that we can’t always initiate movement from the top of the head, which is what most dancers do. Ingenious.

Wednesday:

Laura’s ballet class was phenomenal. Unfortunately, by this point in the week, my body was extremely exhausted. Ballet for me was a bit rough, but I would say that I am still seeing daily improvement, even when tired, which is all I can ask for. I learned that you should point the foot by lengthening the toes, rather than trying to crunch them or grab them.. Most people do this, especially since it is perceived that the toes are reaching back inward, which is incorrect, I am guilty of this.

Kristina’s class was very recuperative and healing. We explored dancing with our eyeballs attached to the ceiling and with our mouths open..and you know what..? THIS WAS AMAZING. I truly enjoy every bit of her classes. I feel like I get to use my body, and dance very 3-dimensionally. I also feel myself accessing something different within my dancing.. its beautiful. She said, “I can feel that some of you have a DESIRE in your body to just move”. She is very correct, I think we all do and sometimes we get afraid to just do what we desire, myself especially.

Beruite’s ballet class was difficult, once again but even more this time. And being as tired as I was, even after Kristina’s class, I decided to try my best but not expect perfection. I did just that, and even while super-extremely tired, I did even BETTER! 🙂 She even said I was improving after class was over, which is good to hear… and Claire agreed!!!

Thursday:

Happy Halloween!

Today we had Ballet with Patricia. At first, I was very scared of her, but after a few barre exercises I began to enjoy her class very much! Although difficult, she made me realize a lot about my technique by giving us little things to focus on, which make a HUGE difference. Firstly, always try to close in first or fifth during tendus, degages, etc so that you can activate your turn out and be stable. Secondly, try to push the boundaries of your turn out, especially in a la seconde, even if it doesn’t seem to be moving try to rotate it from underneath and it will give a better line. Thirdly, an emphasis on raising the knee slightly higher and pulling it out during fondu. Amazing class!!

Next we had Frankie’s class where we learned two little phrases, then used them for some more compositional type stuff. We also did a walking phrase, which was pretty cool.

I ended my dance day with Beruite, once again. However, this was the ultimate of hardest classes she had given all week! It was fantastic, except for the fact that the afternoon Beruite classes are supposed to be intermediate and the Monday morning is supposed to be the Advanced/Professional. 😛 Either way, I love all her classes! I tried my best, then died right after.. ha!

I spent the night at my friend, Brian’s, house. We watched an episode of the Blue Planet series. It was about the deep sea creatures, below sea level.. They are fantastically interesting and magnificent! This was my “Halloween” movie, since I’m awfully terrified of horror movies (but enjoy watching them from time to time).

Friday:

I began my day with Claire’s ballet class. I really felt in-tune with my body, and tried my hardest. I must say that I now do not fear petit allegro. I’m not any type of master of it, but I find it to be more fun now. I am able to complete them without running off, or back and forth. I am pleased with myself 🙂 I also feel more connected with my body in ballet now. I am beginning to SLOWLY get it!

Next we had the first of our 6-week GAGA workshop courses!!!!!!!!!!!!! We are being taught by Miss Ana, who is fantastic and amazing. All I can say about Gaga, other than the fact that I love it to death, is that it is very unlike any other form of dance. If you haven’t done it before, it is a very personal type of class. The windows and mirrors are covered up, and you do it for yourself, rather than for an instructor or spectator. It is a beautiful genre of dance which allows you to explore every cell in your body, in detail. It is just… amazing. I thought “oh gee, my body is so beautiful: the way it is” after taking this class. It was exactly what I needed.

Here is a video, in case you don’t know much about Gaga:

Lastly, we had Claire’s Scholarship Pilate’s class. It was very detailed and difficult, but I always love the Friday Pilate’s classes. I think it is THE BEST way to end the dance week. I am wiped out from all the intense dancing this week.. but so pleased with all the results that I have seen.

Went to work, received my paycheck and almost cried at the amount I was shown. After working two weeks (since we’re paid bi-weekly), I wasn’t paid very much.. Unfortunately, I’m not making enough working at LEGO 😦 This will be a very rough winter, to say the least. I just hope I can find a way to visit my family somehow.

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Gosh, I feel like a whole new dancer this week. I feel much more powerful, in every way. I am so grateful to not fear petite allegro as much as I used to. I also am grateful for all of the information given, and all of the corrections my body is able to apply. I am so inspired by those around me: the students, instructors and most of all, the main company!

Here is the preview for their Winter Series show, One Thousand Pieces, which will be shown in December. I am so grateful that scholarship students get to attend for free… This video is just… ughhhhh.. 🙂 My heart is melting every second I watch it! I am so grateful for all of this.

I am giving every cell in my body to improve and to become better, inside and out. I really hope I can achieve beyond whatever I thought was possible. To be honest, I believe I’ve already surpassed what I thought my limitations were.. I will go all the way. I’m ready to go all the way.

Ruben

Week 4: The Hunger Games

Such an interesting week it’s been, but all full of good stuff!!!

Weekend:

Saturday I went to the DanceWorks Chicago workshop, which was phenomenal. Unfortunately, I was still not feeling it, so ballet didn’t come out so good, even though it was a great class.. But rep was fantastic! We quickly learned sections of three of their works, one of which was first set on Hubbard Street 2!! I enjoyed the “light tunnel” phrase, which had very interesting choreography. The last phrase was fun, but it was a jazz number and a female solo, so all I can say is that I tried my best. 😉 I couldn’t stay after rep though, since I had to work at LEGO. 😦 I’d say the highlight of this day was seeing Sarah, a previous scholarship student who convinced me to do it, she now dances with them… She’s amazing 🙂

Sunday was just another work day, not much else happened.

Monday:

We kicked the week off with Mrs. Beruite’s ballet class, which as always, is fantastic. She has such a wealth of knowledge, but unfortunately I still wasn’t feeling it. I tried to take in information, even though my body didn’t want to correspond. Being a dancer with no motivation is tough, it sets you back, majorly.

Lizzie’s contemporary class was kick butt!!!! It was nice to have her teach again. She gave such a beautiful combination which, to me, revolved around the focus of the eyes and opening doors. She gave us freedom to play with it and find new ways of doing things, so long as we hit specific cues. She also emphasized the separation between the strictness of ballet while dancing contemporary.

We ended this day with a photo shoot!!! It was for the Lou Conte Dance Studio. It was a very fun shoot. Five guys and two girls. I had a lot of fun shooting with a dance photographer, even though having Claire and him analyze our technique was very nerve-racking. Can’t wait to see the pics!!!

Tuesday:

Claire’s ballet class was great, except my body again and mind. The exercises at barre and center were so luxurious and wonderful if I could just get the motivation in my body!

Victors class was very fun and fluid. He challenged us with dive rolls today!!! Ahhhh I certainly love challenges, especially those that are a bit more risky! As usual, he made it all look easy while we all… 🙂

Work ended my day today.

Wednesday:

Laura’s classes are usually some of my favorite, but today was the worst. Not the class, but me… I could releve or turn or developpe! My body completely stopped… And it was a great class too 😥 it was here that I decided not to take it anymore. I am going to make a change! And change I did…

Kristina’s class is what my body years for midweek. I usually feel more accomplished and relaxed, also more in tune with my body after her classes. This is the class where I learn to enter… The twilight zone 😉 kidding. It’s where I learn to dance three dimensionally!

After a new found flame within, I took Beruite’s ballet after… I rocked my socks in this class. Not only had I found my motivation again, BUT I finally finished my first ever FULL PETITE ALLEGRO combination!!!! I was so stoked! Not that I did it completely perfectly, but I was able to execute all steps until the finish line! Also.. According to Beruite, I look like ratatouille! Haha, she said that he’s a cute mouse and I will just say that I’ll take it as a compliment! 😀 I felt amazing in this class, really. Her speech at the end of class, about letting go of the idea of being perfect was what we all needed to hear.

Thursday:

We had a miss Courtney guest teach. My passion was back, so I felt great in class, however I just didn’t feel her style of teaching for me, personally. She was very mellow and didn’t give out many corrections, but that’s okay, class was good. And more importantly, I was back!

Frankie’s class was great. Warm up then we spent the rest of the class trying to create a dance. It was very beautiful, and Hunger Games themed, I think! ;-D

Work, work work. But on my good note about work, after one day on register, I got a shout out by a customer online! I gave great customer service! Seven more then I get a free meal, or to make my own schedule. 🙂

Friday:

Ballet with Claire wasFANTASTIC! I felt great, even though I wasn’t perfect, I felt great. Like a dancer.. A real one. She had me do a section of the petite allegro step by step, by myself, and it helped a lot! I also ALMOST finished another petite allegro! Booya! Very soon, I’ll be skippin and a hoppin! This entire class felt great!

Horton with Erin was great! She’s funny, and amazing and everything! I can’t believe she always has the power to make us so cheerful! Otherwise, her class hurts in a good way.

Pilates with Claire was painful, but I can see its effects in my dancing and body. Pilates is so essential to a dancers vitality and longevity.. It also completely skyrockets the technique! It’s amazing! And Claire is a fantastic instructor, we are so lucky to have her. 🙂

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Okay so you might be wondering why I titled this post “The Hunger Games”? Well, other than the fact that I just finished reading the first book (thank you CTA), I have noticed my life has been like the story… Meaning, I’m OBSESSED!!!!!!!!!!!

Firstly: I volunteered to come to chicago, from a very poor background with hardly as much dance training as the other scholarship students. I consider some of these guys to be from districts 1,2,3 and 4. The careers.

Secondly: I’ve needed tiger balm, excessive amounts lately, which is like the use of the medicine given by the sponsors.

Thirdly: I’d say I’m more of a peeta, a guy who is nice and romantic. 🙂 and I have my rue, katniss, prim, and gale in the scholarship program.

Fourthly: I’ve been scarily low on funds lately, so much so that each time I spend I get closer to not having money to pay a bill… This is like the rations which leads to your name being thrown in multiple times into the reaping jar!

Fifthly: I promised everyone back home that I’d be successful. Of course I want everyone to be, but I promised that I’d be… I haven’t forgotten about everyone back home. I miss you and love you all, very much.

I have drive and motivation.

I am, Ruben, the boy on FIRE!!

Week 3: inFluence

Such a loooong but amazing week!

So last weekend, I took basic ballet, had a photo-shoot and relaxed, somewhat!
Here are some of the pics that I took:

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He’s a genius 🙂 also here is the video:

I really enjoyed myself that weekend. Also went through a few personal changes, but nothing that I can’t overcome. 🙂

Monday:

Bruite is a genius! She has a very delicate way of explaining things that make it all ‘just click’. Not sure if many of you out there have had that, but I do at this studio everyday! It’s awesome!! Today’s class was more focused on our weight placement over our feet. It was great the difference it makes to shift the weight from the ankle rather than tip the body or hips. Genius.

Next we had a sub, Ricky, who taught an amazing contemporary class. It was more focused on breathing with the body and extending through infinity to have these movements be fulfilled. I guess that’s what all of dance should be like…. But we forget. He also focused on giving the arms meaning, rather than just flailing them around wildly.

Tuesday:

I got there early to take the adv/pro Pilates at 9am. I must say that my focus, after this class and the entire week, was to make sure that I was pressing away with my lower back to strengthen the abdominals and the lower back. It prevents the unnecessary arching and crunching which helps with lower back pain.

Next we had Claire! Her ballet class was fantastic. She even threw in an andedans a la seconde turn in one of the center phrases! It’s hard not to turn in or raise the hip while doing it. I also had an epiphany in this class, which is common sense to all dancers, except me: turn out more in each and every plié!!!! Halllaaaakazzuuuuuuuuuuuuu!! Amazing things happen when you do this… It also hurts more.

I had my first day at LEGO, which was soooooo fun. It’s not really work, it’s just fun 🙂

Wednesday:

Ballet with Laura is always a treat. She just ‘gets it’. She also has ways of explaining things that just give you a different approach to ballet technique. She makes it all look so effortlessly. 😉 I enjoy her classes because they give you an opportunity to move. Plus, I experiment a lot in these ballet classes…. Why not?

I would say that this was an emotional day for me. When I took Kristina’s class, I asked her how I could move without looking like a dancing 2-D stick.. She gave such great advice, and feedback. I enjoy her classes more and more. She’s very intelligent about movement analysis due to the Laban-Bartenieff approach to her dance methods. I felt great afterwards. I just need to dance in all the dimension and spatially dynamic. I also learned about effort… Stop forcing everything and just MOVE. I’ve been forcing a lot of dancing which has led to choppiness, and stiffness. Allowing myself and body to flow like body feels great and gives me a great quality. I like 🙂

Next I took Beruite’s int ballet class, immediately following Kristina’s class. Note that I haven’t done three consecutive classes since the intensive, so this was new and it’s own challenge. I entered this class with thoughts of the one prior.. Moving with a flow like butter.. Soft and smooth.. My body was relaxed and I felt amazing! Also Beruite’s exercises on releasing the butt muscle and turning out from the back of the legs, not the front, and drawing the back of the knees together when you plié was great! Such huge differences I thoughts and executions!

Thursday:

Started my day with Terry as our guest ballet instructor. I always enjoy his classes. I feel more free on Thursdays ballet classes. Maybe because they usually have more of a contemporary flare to them… Who knows. All I know is that I need to work on my petite allegro, very badly.

Next we had Frankie again. He recycled his phrase from the class he taught before he went away. It was a great class! Always gets me sweaty. He challenged us by using different music each time for the same phrase.

I finished my training at LEGO and even got a certificate of completion!! Ohhhhhhhh yea 🙂

Friday:

Today started good… I got myself a copy of The Hunger Games, so I can start reading while on the CTA. I read it during my commute to class, arrived extra early with time to warm up, felt pumped, then…. Drained, instantly. I tried to warm up but I was lacking motivation… It’s really hard to push yourself to do anything when this happens.

Unfortunately, I reaped the anti rewards of this during Claire’s ballet class. 😦 I wasn’t able to engage any muscle correctly, I felt like I was just going through the motions, and my body wouldn’t warm up. I felt dry and unmotivated. I also began to look around and start thinking that I was the only one NOT improving :-/ I know that’s not true, I’ve improved tremendously, but I was in such a limbo state and couldn’t get out of it. It lasted the entire class. Maybe it was because it was an off day or because I was still hungry or maybe because I went to bed late last night.. Either way, it affected me badly.

Erin taught her Horton class. I needed her perkiness to get my spirits to lift. It helped but still no motivation or drive. It’s a bit hard to go through classes this way. I noticed myself fluctuating in and out of positive and negative in this class. She always makes me laugh and smile hard, so I’m grateful for this. She’s a hoot!

Lastly, Claire’s scholarship Pilates. I wish I could’ve begun my day with this… I totally felt my juices flowing, and my body warming up. It hurt, obviously, but I felt more awake afterwards. I also felt more in pain, ha!

I went to Goodwill with Lauren, another scholarship student (she’s amazing, inside and out, they all are). I found some cool stuff, dropped it off at the studio, and headed for downtown. I hung out there until it was time for……..

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HUBBARD STREET DANCE CHICAGO!!!!!! Fall concert 🙂 as said before, scholarship/training students get one comp ticket, in the orchestra level!!!!!

The show is FANTASTIC! I seriously look up to them so much!!

The show began with Robyn’s new work Fluence. A very visually stunning work, with a lot of great use of space, lighting, special effects and choreography, of course. I’d say the leading dancer, in this ensemble, was the spectacular Meredith, who did an amazing job at stunning and wowing the audience. Every time she moved it was silent. This work was very interesting, with moments of depth, then disconnection from the dancers, then they’d bring it back. Very well done, with a stunning visual surprise at the end. 😉 must see.

Next was a crowd favorite, Alejandro’s new work Cloudless. A powerful female duet. The set was great, as well as the music, choreography and the intimacy between dancers. These are two ferocious women who can dance… But the best moments we those where they were so extremely close… It was tender and beautiful, even quite emotional.

Ohads duet.. I cannot spell and too lazy to copy it from the internet or program, :-p was spectacularly great! He is a genius with music and choreography. I’d say it was a romantic comedy 😀 the dancers did great, having the audience laugh a whole lot.. I think this was English’s favorite, at least I think she really enjoyed it. Very funny and cute 🙂

Lastly, but certainly not least, was Mats Ek Casi-Casa…. TO DIE FOR! Not just because we learned the rep in the summer intensive, but because Mats Ek is… Something else. This work is enchanting, in every way. I really love seeing it come to life. I find the choreography to be so unique and enticing as an audience member and a dancer! Who wouldn’t want to do this work?! It was a great finish to an amazing show!

Just like that, my motivation is back. I look up to this company, a lot, and want to have at least a portion of their talent. I will work harder now. My flame is kindled and I am on fire!! We have a workshop tomorrow morning with Chicago DanceWorks. I’m excited. Now… Time for rest.

Ruben

Step 26: Humbling Experience

Hello all,

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So I have been working my butt off at my evening job, that one famous theater, on Hollywood blvd. To be honest, the work is not the hard part, it’s standing on $7, worn out, black-leathered dress shoes from Goodwill, kills your feet. It’s also unflattering to be seen with a favored kids large white button up along with my $5 two sizes larger dress pants, also from Goodwill. I’m a thrift bandit, but these items were very last minute and not necessarily by choice. The only aspect of my uniform that is somewhat okay is the bow tie, unfortunately, it’s a clip on.

The work involved so far:

standing for several hours on concrete floor, wishing people would show up and need my professional concessions knowledge, trying to convince people that the same panda bear cookies priced at $3.75 (also found at Target for $1) is not a rip off, and doing my best to resist the urge of wanting to walk out, uttering ‘C-ya‘.

It isn’t as bad as it sounds, at a fashionable $8/hr, we are lucky we get free movie privileges, oh and don’t forget the free popcorn and soda! I like it so far, the people are interesting and very kind, most of them. I keep telling myself that any amount of extra money is well worth it, to reach my Chicago dream goal. I worked at an AMC before, my first year in college, when I quit I swore I’d never have a minimum wage job, which is why this is a humbling experience. It’s tough, a recent physics grad working for so little. I look around this theater and cant help but think ‘these people deserve MUCH more than minimum wage...most of them‘.

There are kids (ages 18-20) at this job that inspire me. Most have moved from far places: Florida, Colorado, etc. to Hollywood, and got jobs at this theater just to pursue acting, filming, and such. I know that I’m at that point in my life where I am able to do what I want and follow any crazy dream.

I’ve decided to move on September 21st. They have flights from LAX to ORD starting at $98! I know I said I’d never fly Spirit, but I might have to… I still need your help with fundraising money for my mission, any amount will help:

http://www.gofundme.com/2wwe1w

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I’ve been doing all my regular exercises, but not much dancing, other than the occasional improv at Griffith Park. Dancing, it’s expensive!



I was about to attempt to buy my flight today, but something stopped me. Other than being so low on funds, the thought that I can just sacrifice all that I have for dance is astounding! I have TWO jobs, live in Hollywood, working things out with my partner, live in the same state as my mother and friends… If I move, I need to find a job, place to live, possibly lose my relationship AGAIN, and try to find ways to visit home. It’s tough. I’m still going to do it, but it’s difficult. I always have that little voice wondering if I’m doing the right thing.. All I know is that I’m doing it, regardless.

Tomorrow I start my second job. And another reason to make moving difficult. Humans create these bonds with one another so easily. I can’t say that I’ll miss LA much, not nearly as much as I will miss my friends and family..

It’s always better to try than not.
I won’t go through life asking myself ‘what-if?’
All I know is that there are several people who believe in me, and I’ll use that much to fuel my drive to succeed. Nothing will stop me.

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Ruben

Step 20: Short Dance Film

Hello all!

This week is going by so fast, but its picking up nicely.
So I’ve been doing more of the outdoor yoga, which does wonders to my body. I did it on Tuesday, but yesterday I did two sessions! An afternoon session and an evening session. It was amazing. I’m feeling it this morning. 😉

I am very happy to say that I was able to do my headstand! It isn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I guess maybe the grass just adds a level of security, where a hard floor adds worry.

I also got my short dance film now! I am very proud of it!

http://www.gofundme.com/2wwe1w

If you have any little cash around and can donate, I’d really appreciate it. I really hope this video shows my passion and love for dance. It would be such an honor to go back to Chicago to become the dancer I’ve always wanted to be. If you can, share this blog/fundraiser link with your friends and family. I need all the support I can get to propel me back to a place that can give me the training I’ll need.

Without further ado, here is my short dance film!!!!!!!

Let me know what you think about the film. Also, I am interested in knowing peoples interpretations as to what the film tells them and what they think its about. Can’t wait to hear from you all!!! 😀

Ruben