Week 12: One Thousand Pieces

Hello,

I continue to take much longer to update with new posts because I have so much to do, especially as Christmas draws nearer. All my classes were phenomenal this week! The only change from this week to the regular week is that we had Monique (former River North dancer) substitute for Lizzie. Monique’s class was extremely demanding since it was an afro-contemporary jazz fusion class. Regardless, it was FUN!! I found my true port de bras, thanks to Mrs. Claire, during Pilates on Friday. It felt completely different, compared to what I have been doing the entire time, ha! We also had a potluck for the scholarship and work study students, which was very fun! A lot of desserts, and PIZZA, from giordanos!!!!! GAAAAAAHHHHHH, HEAVEN πŸ™‚

The best part of my week was seeing Mrs. Claire’s old video of herself dancing a number to “Georgia”, choreographed by Mr. Lou Conte himself, performed on television! HOLY COW! She is STUNNING! Note: If you ever get to meet Mrs. Claire, and you’re around her at an extremely exciting time, do try to see her dances, she is beyond words πŸ™‚ It was very sexy, sensual and beautiful. Inspirational, too!

I moved on from Star Wars and onto original Planet of the Apes (which I have the entire collection back home, with my best friend Marco, but didn’t bring them since I have no tv nor do I want one).

I shot a couple of videos for people to help me with my technique, earlier in the week, so here they are:

En dedan turn: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10152440262039908&l=931250423499404087
Saut de chat/Jete: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10152440263134908&l=2868583035186852492
A la seconde turns: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10152440265389908&l=2400487923976261380

If you have any corrections, hints or advice, please do let me know. πŸ™‚

The most exciting part of my week was getting to watch Hubbard Street perform One Thousand Pieces, which I had been waiting for ONE YEAR to watch. I originally watched this video:

This performance was… ughh… I cannot put into words what it did to me, to be honest. It was far beyond what I had ever expected it to be, and I expected A LOT. I mean, I expected perfection. This was the best performance and show I have seen in my life, so far!!

So, basically, this work is choreographed by the fantastic Alejandro Cerrudo (company member and resident choreographer at HSDC). This work features both companies, Hubbard Street and HS2,one-thousand-pieces-5

in an evening inspired by Marc Chagall’s American Windows:
Chagall 'America Windows' to be Temporarily Removed May 2

The entire evening also featured musical works by Phillip Glass, who is amazing! I must give a HUGE shout out to the set and lighting designer.. And of course, the COMPANY!! This entire night was like NO OTHER.. Without ruining a lot, I just want to say that there were PLENTY of surprises involved in this show. Stellar dancing.

I must say that I got misty eyed and shed a few tears during both halves of the night. I was also gasping a lot, because of all the surprises. I was in awe with all the changing sets and lighting. It just has to been seen. There was a moment when I looked onto the stage, during a set change and the floor had “clouds” in it (you’ll know what I’m talking about if you saw the floor during the performance). It reminded me of the scene in Donnie Darko where the evil bunny tells him to flood the school, funny! The entire night had so much stimulation, in EVERY GOOD WAY, but my heart stopped toward the very end in the second half of the evening when there was a duet, and the music slowed waaaaay down, and the couple on stage had such a delicate way of moving. It really made me emotional. They went from very strong movement to almost being careful not to “hurt each others feeling” kind of soft, it was so touching.

If you didn’t get to see it, or if comes to your town, I URGE you to go see it. Whatever you have to pay, it will be worth SO MUCH MORE. :’)

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago 1000 Peices

Hubbard-Street-Dancers-Ana-Lopez-Jacqueline-Burnett-and-Jessica-Tong-in-ONE-THOUSAND-PIECES-by-Resident-Choreographer-Alejandro-Cerrudo.-Photo-by-Todd-Rosenberg.

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Week 9: Do or not do..There is no try

This week hit me like a flash of lightning. Very quick, and with unexpected surprises. Not bad, it was actually a great week, but it was filled with learning a lot of lessons (the hard way).

Monday:

Beruite ballet class was successfully fantastic! I saw growth, and was very pleased (even if I was all over the place).

Lizzie continued with her phrase from the week before. Thankfully, I felt more comfortable this day to dive into the work and focus on refining and experimentation. She always says how class time is “lab” time and I couldn’t agree more.

Work.

Tuesday:

Nicole was stuck in traffic, but thankfully she was able to give us an accelerated Pilates class in twenty minutes! It helped.

Claire’s ballet class was great. A few (or a lot) of corrections given, but I love being corrected (a lot), I felt fantastic! Today seemed as though yesterday’s good juices were still flowing inside me.

Victor was back this week, and he gave such an awesome class. He mixed it up a little bit with his combinations, which made class much more exciting!! I really focused on initiating movement from my pelvis and allowing the gaga ripples or waves to affect my entire body. Oh yea!

Work.

Wednesday:

Laura’s ballet class went well. Focused on my back and arms, as well as turn out. I was trying to be as detailed as I could with my placement, alignment, and focus.

Kristina’s class was fantastic! She was focusing on various different aspects of movement analysis based off of her own experiences. We did a few more inversions, which I completely love doing! I wish this class was offered more than once a week at the pro level, and more than twice a week total.

Beruite’s ballet class was great, but I couldn’t help but worry about her. I believe she was in some sort of pain. I couldn’t imagine not having her classes each week. 😦 I do hope she recovers nicely.

I went to get my first ever spa and massage experience. It was… heaven. Swedish massage. Ahhhh

Thursday:

Okay, so far, everythings been great…until today. Julie (director of DanceWorks Chicago), whom I had taken the workshop a few weekends ago, taught ballet today. This was the lowest point of my week. I’m not sure why, but this class did not enter my body. She gave a great class, but I was not able to get into it. Actually, I ended up feeling a little bad about myself. A sense of doubt or pain, of longing to be better.. This class didn’t end well with me. But I tried to gather it up for the next one.

Frankie’s class was very good. I felt like I was doing something well, but the thought and the overwhelming FEELING of the ballet class prior led me to doubt myself the entire class. This feeling actually overcame me for a little bit after class. Thankfully, I have fantastic friends here who were kind enough to give me hugs. πŸ™‚

Work.

Friday:

Seeking to redeem myself, I worked my butt off in Claire’s ballet class. I found inspiration from Yoda (which I’ll talk about later). I tried pushing myself in this class and found that I was quite successful, at least in my own eyes. I felt fantastic in this class and know that I will continue this trend from now on.

Gaga was great, but very exhausting! Its one hour and fifteen minutes of non-stop moving/improvising, then another half hour of choreography, or more improv. Today we worked on choreography, in pair, using the techniques we learned in class. I focused on light/heavy, curves, swirls, distance, and waves. It was a great class.

Lastly, we had Claire’s scholarship Pilates. We had more laughs than anything in this class, but it made it more fun. I do love Pilates!

I treated myself today to buying thrift store sweat pants, watching Catching Fire, and being restful with myself. πŸ™‚

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Okay, so I learned a lot this week. For one, not to take anything for granted. We only get one body, and after the spa/massage, I realized that we need to take better care of them. Even as dancers, we cannot just work our bodies like machines and expect maximum output. We do need to give ourselves days to express gratitude to ones self.

Secondly, I learned that I have no limits. Actually, I learned this Thursday night. From Yoda. I saw this clip, and it made me realize that he is COMPLETELY correct! We cannot just be “in the middle” with something, we either are or we aren’t. And I am.

Hubbard Street and HS2 are having auditions in March, and you better be sure that I will be there. I will work MY BUTT off to give myself the best chance that I can ever give myself of making HS2. There is time to grow and improve, and yet no time at all. I will stretch myself beyond my reaches.

At this audition, I go in as Ruben.

Week 8: Call me Joseph Pilates

So very EXHAUSTING week, but I feel great about myself! πŸ˜€

So I’ve had a very fortunate work schedule which allowed me to take extra classes this week. And you better believe that I took full advantage of this opportunity.

Monday:

Started my day with Beruite and her challenging ballet class. It was great and after a while, as my body became progressively warmer, I began to get a nice groove. It was a good way to begin the upcoming week. The only problem which I ran into during class was the weakness of the body, so I dedicated the remainder of the week to improving my strength. I was noticing very tiny strength and technical flaws in my body, which was the motivating factor for my week.

Usually, I will feel fantastic after Lizzie’s contemporary class, however today I did not feel as great. My body felt a bit wobbly and tight, so I could not move as fully; also, I couldn’t get into the right headspace during class, to focus on class, I believe this happened because I was thinking more about the latter part of my day: work.

Tuesday:

I managed to get up extra early to take a good morning Pilates class with Nicole! It was a challenging class but she did something that helped me feel something different: she pulled my leg, from my foot, outward. Having her do this gave me a sense of more range of motion, strength and made me feel as though I was dancing in Pilates. It also made me feel longer and taller. It was nice πŸ™‚

Claire taught ballet afterwards, which was a great class. I felt much more stable, especially since I had Pilates right before. Although, I did feel more stable, I still knew I needed more strength in my body, and more ballet. However, I did enjoy this class and loved the challenge it posed. I felt more dancer-like.

Unfortunately, Victor was not here today so, fortunately, Johnny (HSDC) taught class. It was very different, but mostly fun! It was a jazzier class, with a whole lot of character and laughing. Also awkwardness, but the good kind. πŸ˜‰

Lastly, I ended my day with Beruite’s ballet class. It went very well! She even complimented me on doing real en dedans turns, and not fake ones! Yes, score one for the home team.

Wednesday:

Laura’s ballet class was mighty challenging but very luscious and luxurious. I felt much stronger and definitely much more aware of my body this class. I was able to assess myself and use my knowledge of the day prior, was is the cherry on top.

Kristina’s class was exactly was I needed midweek. I applied the use of the eyes, relaxation of muscles and jaw, and internal awareness more. It’s strange because I only truly ever see myself, dancing and body as having any beauty during this class. I recommend this one to everyone in the area, or Laban, in general.

Beruite kicked my butt once again. Although I felt much more exhausted at this point. My muscles highly sore but I pushed through and did as much as I could, which was a ton!

I waited around after ballet to take Pilates with Nicole again. Before I took class though, I felt an extreme cramping and gripping, with eventual tensing of inner thigh muscles each time I tried to sit or bend my knee. It was quite the painful experience. It’s the first time it has ever happened. It also affected my during Pilates when I tried doing rolling like a ball. I pushed through and knocked out the minute I arrived in my bed!!!!!

Thursday:

I could not think of a better way to take ballet on Thursday than to be taught by Lucas (HSDC rehearsal director). His classes are gooey, resistive and infinitely expansive!! I highly enjoy it, always. His classes are always giving different perspective on ballet than the other classes. Both are necessary nowadays. Exciting class!

Frankie came back and taught class. It was an extremely fun class. His best yet, I’d say. It had more of an EDGE PAC feel with the ending phrase to Royals. It was more fun than usual, with an ease to class. I needed that this Thursday.

Work.

Friday:

Claire’s ballet class was amazing. I definitely felt the strongest I have, yet! I enjoyed the combination that had the battement into a coupe fondu. But she had us emphasize the melting of the legs and body, which took a lot of control. But overall, my best ballet class yet, mess ups and all. πŸ™‚

Gaga was fantastic. I focused more on the tiny details and crevices of my body. The places that never get any attention or notice. It brought about moments of different movement which felt great!!

Scholarship Pilates with Claire was killer. But a great way to end the required week. We did a few new Pilates exercises, highly difficult, but she had me demonstrate one that I hadn’t done and said that I was getting stronger!!!! Well… Call me Joseph Pilates!

Saturday:

Woke up extra early to come and take some Pilates thus morning.
Took basic with Nicole. I went extra slow and tried to be as detailed as I could be in this class, which made it more challenging. But there were moments where I felt my hip flexor a release and just the stomach working. It’s a creature-esque feeling!

Ended this dance day with beginning Pilates with Claire. I am lucky to be alive, gosh this class was hard! Two Pilates classes in a row will knock you out for the day. I’m completely exhausted from today, and the week in general.

I will finish up this day and weekend by working, a lot. Next week brings a lot of work at LEGO :-/ now if only the pay was as high as I needed it to be..anyways: 12 technique + 5 Pilates = 17 classes within 6 days..if I am not stronger next week, I don’t know what would help. But I feel accomplished, in my own way. I’m working my way to the top, one step (or roll up) at a time!

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.

**

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. πŸ™‚

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!!!! πŸ™‚ 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. πŸ˜‰

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! πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ™‚ 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! πŸ™‚ 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. πŸ˜› 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 πŸ™‚ 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.. πŸ™‚ 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 5: Bolle

This past week has been very spectacular, on so many different levels!

Saturday:

I had the privilege of going over to a great friend of mine, Lauren (amazing dancer and person!), with my other great friend, Raoni (also amazing dancer and crazy but good person), to have pancakes and watch Beasts of the Southern Wild!! This was an amazing start to a great weekend. Β Lauren is a great cook, and her pancakes were spectacular! Actually, I am doing what she does now: adding nutella and/or peanut butter along with jelly to pancakes, rather than using syrup, which is not necessarily my favorite. πŸ™‚ Β I think we all had a blast! I worked the rest of my Saturday away, which was great because it flew by so quickly!

Sunday:

Not much to say, just worked. It was quite slow at the LEGO store.

Monday:

Started the day with Beruite’s ballet class, which was a great class, but I just couldn’t get into it. Β I got into the ballet, but my body wasn’t warming up, which kind of reeked for me this class. Otherwise, it was a phenomenal class, as usual. I just couldn’t get my body warm..

Next we had Lizzie… Oh my gosh, talk about tear jerker! She gave an extravagant class, with a lot of improvisation, followed by an extraordinarily emotional phrase at the end. It was a beautifully set dance to a very emotional spoken word song. I was holding back tears the entire class, but my nose wouldn’t lie.. it kept running the entire time. To me, this phrase was about body image and disabilities.. It reminded me of all the people I’ve known in my life with these issues, which touches me deeply within. I really connected with this work.

I finished the day with the slowest day at LEGO.. I was surprised with how slow everything was at the store. But, I got through it and went home to rest!

Tuesday:

Claire’s ballet class was great, however, once again I couldn’t get my body warm. I did appreciate her having me “demonstrate” the petite allegro. I obviously didn’t do it so well, and we kept starting over, and we did it snail slow..BUUUUUT, I did it πŸ™‚ I’m starting to get into those quick little movements.. It excites me so much. By the end of class my body was externally warm, but internally cold! She suggested that I focus more on rolling out my muscles first, a lot, then warming up, since rolling out the muscles will get the blood flowing to all areas of the body and thus produce heat when needed.

Victor’s class was very fun. He taught some new technique phrases, some more difficult, some more fun. I love his classes. He even had a new soundtrack! I really loved this so much! He always plays very nice, fun music, but his new soundtrack was super amazing!!

Raoni came over to watch Hunger Games and the Fountain. We had a sleepover, ate some pizza, and watched some Sylvie Guillem… πŸ™‚ It was super duper fun!!

Wednesday:

I took Claire’s advice and rolled out, which proved to be very effective in Laura’s class. I felt much more secure in my body, and mind. Β Laura’s biggest correction for me this day was to not look down, I do that A LOT. I guess its more of a confidence thing, which you need when dancing ballet. I appreciate all of the corrections I’ve been getting, since they help me out so much!

Kristina’s class was superb! We explored some more spirals, rib cage, and head-tail connection. Her class had me sweating like a mad man, but it also relaxed all my muscles while working them out.. It is very hard to describe, but I enjoy it πŸ™‚

Beruite’s class was phenomenal for me! After having Kristina, I felt more in tune with my body. She told me that my ballet posture had come a long way, which makes me sooo happy!!!!! Today I got my nickname changed from Remy (from Ratatouille) to Bolle (the amazing ballet dancer, Roberto Bolle), I am EXCEPTIONALLY happy with this. I got the nickname, not because of the dancing, but because of the face she says. Either way, I am inspired!! πŸ˜€

We all had our conferences with Claire this week, where she gives us a review on how we’ve been doing. I got my notes and will immediately begin to apply them!

Thursday:

We had Eric, from who-knows-where, who gave SUCH AN AMAZING BALLET CLASS!!! We focused on turns, tours, et cetera. I was able to barely manage to get a double tour!!! I’ve never been able to do that, but this class got me to do it. I was also more managed in the petite allegro. My second turns felt good in this class. I was very on my leg, and as extended as I could be. I took Claire’s advice and have been focusing on my 5th position, turn out, and fundamentals of ballet.

Frankies class was a composition class again. Everyone created such amazing work, which I enjoyed watching and being a part of!

Work work work.

Friday:

Began the day with Claire’s ballet class. I felt super amazing today, since I focused on rolling out all my muscles, stretching lightly and warming up before class. Claire’s class seemed exceptionally difficult today, but I loved that about it! I loved every exercise that we did, so beautiful and full. I felt so much more accomplished, even though I know there is more to work on. I also appreciate all the corrections she’s begun to give me now in class. I know that this will push me further than ever.

Next we had Jackie again. I loved this class. I felt bad because Raoni and I turned at the same time but hit each others arms.. It hurt pretty badly. Her phrase was amazing!!!! I love having her.

Claires pilates class was detailed and difficult, just the way I like it.Β When I was at work, I sneezed and felt all my abdominal muscle’s tense and the soreness began… Even now, on Saturday morning right before clocking into work… I sneeze and they are extremely sore. Thanks for that πŸ™‚

I made pancakes for breakfast with nutella, peanut butter and jelly πŸ™‚

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. πŸ˜‰ 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 πŸ™‚

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… πŸ™‚

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 πŸ˜₯ 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 πŸ˜‰ 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! πŸ˜€ 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. πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™‚

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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. πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ™‚ 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. πŸ™‚

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 pliΓ©!!!! 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 πŸ™‚

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. πŸ˜‰ 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 πŸ™‚

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 pliΓ© 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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚ 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. πŸ˜‰ 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 πŸ˜€ 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 πŸ™‚

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 22: Omnimon!

So for the past few days I’ve been doing the outdoor yoga, which has been amazing, along with the HotHouse project with Jeremy, which has also been great. I’ve been getting quite tired though, and I feel a little sick today. I think outdoor yoga at 10:30a, then 4 hours of improvisatonal dance take a lot out of you. Luckily, I have a few days off. Again, I need to find a job and funding.

I haven’t been able to take ballet over the past few days, since I’ve been doing the yoga/rehearsal thing. I am hoping to take ballet again tomorrow and sometime this weekend, maybe. Yoga has been a great experience, I enjoy having the different styles of yoga from different instructors. From ‘Breath of Fire’ to total Meditation. As my body gets more and more tired, I find that even the most trivial of flows are a bit difficult, such as moving from plank to updog to downdog.

As usual, please share thing link and blog, and contribute to my cause:

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

My time is running out, and I really need to get back soon. To be honest, I’m trying my best to be as positive as I can be without allowing myself to get down but it’s getting quite difficult. Each day keeps passing without a job, and my money is reducing at such a rapid pace: food, travel, donation yoga, and the now-rare ballet class. I know something good will come my way, but gosh its just so difficult to see it coming. I’m not losing hope, I know it will work out.. It always works out.

On a positive note, I’ve been watching A LOT of Mighty Morphing Power Rangers and Digimon.
This is a clip of how things will turn out for me. I’m going to give it all I got, and everyone reading this will help out and help me conquer it all! I might even digi-volve πŸ˜‰

Ruben