Step 30: Apprenticeship – the Reality

Hello fellow bloggers and readers,

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

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Being a dancer

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

-Kristina Flutey 

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Backtracking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

During my time with this company, I began auditioning. 

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Auditions Attended and Results:

*Giordano Dance – Made it through 3 rounds of rep

*Oklahoma City Ballet – Made it through until after pirouettes

*Visceral Dance Chicago – Made it through ballet class

*Hubbard Street Dance Chicago – Made it through ballet class

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

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

*Adidas Runner Model – Got through the callback 

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

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

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

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

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

Here is a promo of her work:

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

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

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

You just never really know.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kenneth W, who gave such great kickass ballet classes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Much Love,

Ruben

Week 14&15: Buddies and Injuries

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

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

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

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

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

This weeks highlights:

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

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

My audition list for this season:

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

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

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

Ruben

Week 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. 🙂

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. 🙂

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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! 😀

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 🙂

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. 😉

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. 🙂

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 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 4: The Hunger Games

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

Weekend:

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

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

Monday:

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

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

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

Tuesday:

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

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

Work ended my day today.

Wednesday:

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

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

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

Thursday:

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

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

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

Friday:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I have drive and motivation.

I am, Ruben, the boy on FIRE!!

Week 3: inFluence

Such a loooong but amazing week!

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

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

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

Monday:

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

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

Tuesday:

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

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

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

Wednesday:

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

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

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

Thursday:

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

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

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

Friday:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ruben

Step 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