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 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:
wedding1

Wedding cake + lego cake-topper (courtesy of yours truly):
wedding2

Bride&Groom interpretive ritual wedding dance:
wedding3

ME and Abbey with the bride (we both caught the bouquet!!!!!!):
wedding4

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:
download

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 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 🙂

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 🙂 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. 🙂

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.

Week 10: Workshop and Black Friday: The good, the bad and the ugly

Okay, so I had an amazing start to the week, and then it all went downhill from there.

Monday-Wednesday:

Beruite and Claire’s classes were pretty stellar! I felt quite powerful and amazing. 🙂 Pilates with Nicole on Tuesday was also fantastic. Unfortunately, I was only able to take barre (and even then I was quite sloppy) during Laura’s class, so I can’t say much about it. 😦 I became quite ill on Wednesday morning, which lasted most of the day. I had a stomach bug, and by body was quite achy. I had to sleep, at school, after barre.

Lizzie and Victors classes were great! Lizzie taught an amazing phrase, which is my favorite yet. Victor taught a new styled class, at least it felt that way. Again, sadly, I was not able to take Kristina’s class because of the illness.

Each day after contemporary we had workshop with Robyn Mineko Williams, former HSDC, and one of their amazing choreographers. She was a scholarship student when she was younger, which is quite inspiring. Her workshops were improvisation and repertoire based. The great thing about the improv was finding the movement quality for the rep. Since it is quite challenging. We learned rep from Fluence (her Fall HSDC work)!!!!!! I indulged in it each day. I rested enough on Wednesday to still be able to take it! I learned a whole lot and feel that I grew as a dancer. Here is a video of some of her work, Grey Horses:

Thanksgiving was great! I spent it with scholarship student, Federica. She’s the best ever 🙂

After thanksgiving, the weekend seemed to go downhill from there. BLACK FRIDAY. This day was extremely stressful and the biggest challenge yet,

20131130-152642.jpg

People, there is no need to be mean to anyone, just because you’re shopping. I mean, I can’t count how many times I got boxes thrown at me at register… Oh oh and credit cards tossed at me too, even though I’m not supposed to swipe them. Sigh. Unfortunately, I had an interesting situation:

I went to a thrift store after work on Friday and I was in a lady’s way. The isle was quite small and she said “can you please move?!”. I got very frustrated, and wanted to say something, since I had been yelled at all day by greedy customers, but I just moved and apologized. At that moment I saw her shopping cart was very full, and she had her two children with her.. I realized she was honestly shopping for her family! My god, how awful I felt! I hope she didn’t think I was mean to her after all. She was buying her children stuff they needed and Christmas gifts.. It broke my heart. While I get yelled at by DUMB wealthy and ungrateful LEGO customers, there are people who can’t afford much. I understood she was probably stressed and just wanted to do the best for her family.. ❤ much love for them, I understand their situation.

Saturday and Sunday was just as bad as Friday at lego. A lot of undeserving people getting more than they need. I'm awful, I know, but I wasn't ever wealthy or privileged so I'm quite biased. I'm just a realist. There were a few great customers, thank you for being nice. 6 in total for the entire weekend. 2 per day, average.

Ruben

Week 8a: Project 606

Today, other than the extremely long and exhausting work day, I was given the ability to go see my friend, Lauren, perform! I mentioned her a few weeks ago (when Raoni and I went to her house for pancake brunch along with Beasts of the Southern Wild), so you would already know that she is an amazing person and dancer.. yep yep yep! 🙂

I got to meet the amazing Robbie, Lauren’s fiance. He is a pretty wicked cool guy, and after getting to know him a little better, I’d say he and Lauren are a match made in heaven. They are both some pretty stellar people!!!! It doesn’t get any better than them. It was so clear that he was in such deep love with her, just by the way he spoke about her and how his face would express certain things when he’d tell me how they met 🙂 Very cute.

Okay, so here is my review on the dance company, Project 606, show Momentum:

The show took place in an art gallery, the Ballroom Dance Chicago, which is a beautiful space. It had mirrors (for ballroom dance lessons) and columns throughout the center (which did obstruct some of the viewing, but it did make it for a more interesting show). The floors were a beautiful sandy wood, and the rest of the building was very contemporarily set: cemented, red bricks, art pieces hanging everywhere, etc.

The Daily M n t n u s Grind: Choreographed by Jenny DeMuth, I found this work to be the most interesting of the evening. Although not my favorite, even though it was a great work, it did find its way to be the more interesting. What I mean to say is that it had the most unique motif for movement initiation and it also had very interesting follow through. I found it quite funny, at times, and other moments I found it to be very fun. It definitely had a theme, which kept coming back repeatedly, and then it would branch away into larger, almost African-like vocabulary of movement. All dancers performed very well. The costumes were perfect: boring. Ha ha ha. Not in a bad way, but I found them very stale, which completely added to this work (you’d have to see it!). In the end, as I said at the beginning, this is one has the award as most interesting work.

During the intermission Robbie gave me his interpretation of what he thought it was reflecting. He is quite a dance genius because after he told me, then I saw the big picture!

BACKBONE: This was my favorite work of the night, choreographed by the artistic director of the company, Meghann Mueller. Why did I choose this one as my favorite..? Well.. simply put, I just enjoyed it so much. I felt as though the dancers were a lot more involved in this work, both mentally and physically. I enjoyed Lauren’s performance A LOT in this work.. But I’ll write about her later in this post (I’d want to touch on her more closely, so I’m not as biased!). I did feel as though the dancers, as committed as they were, could have given a tad bit more. Otherwise, they were fantastic! Whatever this work was about, it WORKED! I immensely enjoyed watching it, and felt as though I was in it. Superb! Also, great music selection, very unique. The costumes were simple and effective.

During intermission I overheard a few females “giving their opinion” on what worked and what didn’t so far in the show. I did get a bit defensive on the inside (but didn’t say anything), since I thought the evening was going great.

Fixed in One Long Gaze (excerpt): This work was the finale of the show. Again, choreographed by Meghann Mueller, featuring previous and present members of the company. This was the only work with a prop, which I thought worked out very well, it was efficiently used. This was an excerpt of a much longer work, with a wide selection of music: from very classical to contemporary instrumental. The costumes didn’t seem to fit in with the space provided, although I’m sure they were fantastic on stage. I had a moment of glee during this dance when one of the females that was “giving their opinion” gulped during this dance.. that single gulp says SO MUCH. Plus, I feel that if a dance can have you talking, whether you’re crazy about it or not, then it did its job well. All dancers were fantastic in this dance. I will say that I noticed that there were similarities in the movement and initiation of movement from all the works, which is not bad at all, however, I would like to see some of the movement initiated from different parts of the body, or more use of the pelvis-region a bit more.

Lauren is a fantastic performer! She was in the first two works. Usually, I only get to watch her in class, which is good enough, BUT seeing her live (detaching myself from movement) and just enjoying her perform for the audience, which I was in, was such a treat! I was able to analyze and study what makes her exciting in her performance environment. In the first work, I loved seeing her apply what we learn in scholarship. I could see her using every bit of information in her body. Lauren is a devilish genius.. I noticed this primarily in the second work. While everyone else was willingly giving themselves away to the audience, which is very nice, she kept herself reserved from time to time. She would let us in, but only for a moment, as if she had calculated it perfectly. It was very exhilarating to want more from her, and when she gave it she gave it. It wasn’t until work became more involved that she let us in, especially during her solo. I enjoyed her patience because dancers are so reluctant to give themselves away, willingly, which most people expect, but to let the audience work for it… genius. 😉 Bravo on such an amazing show Lauren. You are everything!

All in all, it was a great show which I enjoyed very much. I am grateful that Lauren and Robbie for allowing me to come and watch. I am glad to know them, and to see their passion for each other. There was a very cute moment where I saw Robbie searching for Lauren and following her everywhere she went in the room while she danced. When she would bow, he clapped the most. Its sooooo endearing! 🙂

They are performing again tomorrow, so I’d suggest that if you’re in the area and can make it, GO! It is a wonderful show, with such talented ladies.

For more information on the show, and the company, visit their website: http://www.project606dance.org/

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 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.  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. 🙂  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.  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 🙂 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… 🙂 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.  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 🙂

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!! 😀

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. 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 🙂

I made pancakes for breakfast with nutella, peanut butter and jelly 🙂

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 28: Week 1: New Scholarship Student

Oh my gosh, so I just started the scholarship program –> completed my first week of required dance classes from the training program. Unfortunately, can’t update daily YET because the place I’m living in has now wifi 😦

So, at the moment, I’m living with English, a wonderful ballerina who is also in the program. She’s a great dancer and person, I’m quite lucky! I just had my interview with the LEGO store! Hoping I get the job, crossing my fingers. So now onto the juicy deets about the scholarship program:

We take a required advanced/professional ballet course each morning, followed by a advanced/professional contemporary class and on Fridays we also take a scholarship Pilates class. Following these required courses, we are allotted unlimited class access, free PT, a free pass to each of the Hubbard Street Dance Chicago shows, free workshops, free lockers, etc all for $30 a week and a required chore (sweeping or cleaning one studio). It’s pretty sweet! 🙂

Monday:

We had ballet with Beruite, who is one of the toughest ballet instructors ever had! She’s amazing, but after no dance training in the previous two months, this was a failed attempt. It’s not easy to go from zero to professional in ballet. My body had forgotten the simple things such as balance and waltz. I hardly had the strength to raise my leg beyond a tendu! Her class was fast moving and physically/mentally challenging. Quickly taught combinations, difficult phrasing.. God it hurt all over!

Next I had contemporary with Lizzie. She gave an amazing class, where I felt more comfortable. She gave amazing insight, like not letting your insecurity show and dancing from within. Her style is very juicy and grounded. I really enjoyed her class! But it was very challenging!

Later that day, English and I took intermediate ballet… Also very difficult. My muscles started to give out, and trying to remember what ballet terms where was a bit hard! When I got home I was in more pain than I had ever felt! I could not believe it! It hurt more than the intensive! Don’t go from zero to hero, trust me!

Tuesday:

Advanced Pilates kicked my butt! Took it before ballet to get me warm… And it did just that.

Being extremely tired and unbelievably sore, we had Claire for ballet. She is the director of the school and program. Her class, also challenging. I felt a bit more in my body, until I saw Meredith in the window and rolled over my foot across the floor trying to impress. :-/ ha!

Next we had Victor, who taught a Cuban contemporary class. It was very challenging, but he was amazing and so was the class. He had fun music. His class was Horton-esque, in the sense that it was challenging and a pure technique class. Loved it.

Later I took yoga, which helped me release a lot of tension. It wasn’t an easy class..

Wednesday:

Ballet with Laura. She was very sweet but her class, also hard. I felt a bit more into my body… Kind of. She was sweet and gave great combinations. I really loved her. I learned that going into attitude by rond de jambing the leg through arabesque would give a true attitude, without the raising of the hip! She’s a genius!

Modern with Kristina was different. It was very similar to NRD, very modern. She was so sweet and a bit out there, but I wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much if she wasn’t. She has a warm heart and has Laban training. I loved it. Very dizzy from all the rolling!

I took basic Pilates, it was just as hard as advanced Pilates, if not harder! But it was great to get the basics and mechanics!

Thursday:

Thursdays are guest ballet day. Today we had Ben. He was AMAZING! It wasn’t classically classical ballet, but it was still amazing. It seemed like ballet for contemporary dancers. It was a hard, and he was AMAZING! I hope eh subs again. I felt more good in this class.

We had Frankie, very famous by scholarship, and hew as great. His class was a faced paced contemporary. Quick combinations followed by a duet creation amongst the students. It was very fun!

Friday:

Ballet with Claire was no joke today. She helped me with my turns/developpe. I was so nervous when she was helping me out… She’s a great ballet instructor! She gives amazing corrections and is so full of warmth. I love her!

Next was modern with Erin! She is HILARIOUS! Horton with Erin, which is always difficult, no matter what level Horton you take. I loved it though, very much! She had us laughing the entire time!

Lastly, Pilates with Claire. Very challenging, and grueling, but doable! 🙂

That’s been my week! Tomorrow I plan to take basic ballet, and yoga on Sunday! That’s my ‘rest’. I’ll get back in shape in no time,

Thanks everyone for making this possible!

Ruben