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 18&19: Stronger in Marriage

So, last week I was only able to do ballet class and Pilates. I had the Hubbard Street 2 workshop where we took ballet from terry, improvisation, and the HS2 dancers taught us small portions of two rep pieces. It was such an amazing day! Then we got to ask them about their experiences and such, which was very insightful.

The next day, Sunday, I was able to audition for Oklahoma City ballet, which was very scary since it was my first ballet audition and for a company! I noticed how tense and scared everyone else was, which helped me relax a lot – maybe way too much. 🙂 either way I had fun, but was eventually cut (much further along than I had thought!).

This past week has been great! Unfortunately, because my body felt a bit off I didn’t attend class on Monday; which was good because there was a snowstorm, practically! But for the remainder of the week, I took ballet, Pilates and contemporary. Thursday there was smoke at school so we had to evacuate the building. Contemporary was cancelled. But things are fine now, it was just a transformer.

This weekend has been quite special to me. I had the opportunity to come out to the suburbs to perform with Becky Mikos, a superb dancer and friend. I was so excited but I had heard horror stories about the suburbs. What I found was unexpected… I loved it. I felt so much stress melt away being here; in fact, it reminded me of home. Here are some pictures!!!!

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Two of those pictures were of willow creek, a contemporary styled Christian church where we performed for the Stronger series, our focus this weekend was: stronger in marriage. Tech and run-throughout went well. Performing three times: Saturday evening, as well as Sunday morning and late morning (9&10:45a)! It was such a beautiful cause, and we got much praise for it. A lot of couples crying, and coming up to us letting us know how we impacted them. It felt GOOD!!!

I’m not religious, but the great thing about willow creek is that it’s all inclusive! They don’t make you feel left out, and don’t judge. The sermons are more up to date and practical, by using passages of the bible and relating them to real life. The building is ginormous and beautiful. The stage was impressive. I was so lucky to have this experience.

Becky and I listened to the service after we performed the last time. I’m not religious.. At all.. But it was a powerful message. And I needed to blog this, to my ex:

Hearing the service, stronger in marriage, I feel that I never explained myself to you. Nor you to me. It puts me through so much pain to know we didn’t work out. Now that I’ve been in Chicago long enough, it has given me time to reflect on my life, especially those last few months when we shared a home with each other. Those were the best days I’ve had. I miss them, I miss you. I never stopped loving you and I still feel the same. But, I couldn’t ever go back because we weren’t fixable. I’m so sorry for everything. I was hurt by you when you lied and cheated. What you did, might not be considered cheating to you, but having a second life of intimacy of any sort with everyone but the person next to you in bed is cheating in my eyes.

I know I said I forgave you for everything but I never did. I probably should have. I was in so much pain, and all that time we were divided. We never ONCE came together and forgave each other. I put you through hell, taking away your liberties to appease myself, and that wasn’t right. I wish I would have acted differently, I wish I could have given you everything you wanted. Maybe I didn’t love you enough, or show you enough. Like said in church “you should ask those scary questions. And hear those scary answers.” I always asked those scary questions, but I was too afraid to LISTEN to your scary answers. I wish we would have communicated better. I wish we could have those moments back on the couch, eating biscuits, pizza, watching adventure time, and keeping Claudia (cat) away from the food. I wish you didn’t have to “work” on my graduation so you could’ve met my family. I wish we would have both been honest with ourselves and each other. I wish you could have talked to people through any means as though I was there; to avoid temptation. I wish we could have had decades and durability. I loved waking next to you each morning, and sleeping next to you each night. I loved hugging you tightly, even though you always complained about it being too hot. I loved waking you up dead into the night because we’d seen a scary movie and I thought there were aliens on our roof. I loved our runs followed by ice cream. I loved watching you dance. I loved being with you.

I see that we both had our own lives, as dancers. I chose to come to chicago and pursue dance – I gave everything I had up, even you, to be here. You did the same everyday I lived with you. I wish we would’ve known our time was limited. I wish I, or you, wouldn’t have gone for walks after arguments; we should’ve stayed and discussed it. I wish you would have moved with me. I wish I could’ve been there for you in your bad times, instead of holding what you did over your head. As much as we fought, you would’ve thought we put more emphasis on US. We didn’t take time for us. We didn’t forgive. We didn’t ask, listen or answer those scary questions truthfully.
Honestly, we didn’t try.

I think about you all the time now. I have nigtmares. I even have some suppressed memories – of us being happy – that come up more and more nowadays. It’s hard going through this. And knowing what I don’t have, and won’t ever have again, with you.

I’m sorry it didn’t work out. I’m sorry I didn’t give you what you needed or that I wasn’t what you wanted. I’m sorry we didn’t try.
I love you and will always love you. I hope you’re doing well, and that you’ve overcome all those obstacles you had in life. I hope you find someone who brings you those things that you need and want.

Love,

Ruben

Week 16: Mr. Conte & First Chicago Audition

So this week I have been ATTEMPTING to recover from a pulled groin/abductor. To do so, I have only been able to take one ballet class per day. That’s it. It has been quite difficult to watch everyone dance and be able to do more than myself; especially when I feel less and less fit each day because of this “resting” and “recovering” period. I did take Pilates on Tuesday and Friday, but both attempts were quite difficult and I didn’t manage to do it well.

I tried to make the most of my spare time this week by building Mrs. Claire’s elliptical machine. Its a bit shaky (I think because the materials are so light and it was on SUPER discount off groupon), but she runs smoothly otherwise, if I do say so myself. 😉

This weekend has proven to be the BUSIEST weekend that I’ve had so far.

  • Friday: I attended DanceChance! Unfortunately, I didn’t participate (there was a mix-up), but it was a really FUN event to attend. If anyone is in Chicago – this event takes place on the last Friday of every month at Lou Conte Dance Studio at 7pm. It was a really fun event. Basically, every month, 3 choreographers are chosen – at random – and an alternate. These choreographers must find ways to gather dancers, rehearsal times, space, and create a work no more than 15 minutes; and they only have a month to do so. It is very interesting the works that were brought. They were so good and so fun! I highly suggest this event to those in the area. Best of all – its only $3!! And better yet, you actually get a Q&A with the choreographers afterwards. (In case you didn’t understand it, or you want to know more!)
  • Saturday: I had rehearsals with my friend Becky (a workstudy) for her church’s event: The Stronger Series. I also took basic jazz with Mrs. Shannon (which I highly recommend, it was VERY fun!). I scrambled to get a haircut + print out my headshot for today. Lastly, I got to meet Mr. Lou Conte himself! I worked the 40th anniversary party and got to hear all of his amazing stories and insight. What a wonderful event it was.
  • Sunday: I had my first Chicago audition: Giordano Dance!

The Giordano audition was quite a challenge, especially since I’m no jazz dancer! The audition, for me and a few other scholarship students, started with the class (optional) to get warmed up and into their style, then the real audition began. Ballet center was the first cut, basically some pirouettes and jumps. Made it, cool. Then we learned a phrase from their rep choreographed by Koresh, which was quite cool. Got through, phew! Next we learned a work, Jolt, which was super fast. At this point, it was just Marissa (another scholarship student) and I. I really had to pee, quite badly. But we both did Jolt. We were learning a salsa-ish piece when we were both cut. I was so proud of myself for making it that far in the audition!! It was very fun, but I’m a bit happy that I got cut. I don’t think I quite fit in with their style of movement. Not that I wanted to get cut, because a contract is a contract, but I know there were a lot of people who REALLY set their minds/lives on it and have worked in their style through classes and workshops that probably deserved it more. So in that sense, I’m happy for those who made it! 🙂

One bitter thing I realized is that auditions are expensive!

 3.99 – headshot. 

   0.50 – resume + references (although, Federica – yet another scholarship student – was nice enough to print mine out!)

   15.00 – optional warm up class

+ 10.00 – audition fee

~40.00 for one audition. That kinda stinks. But I guess that’s life. Well, it was fun today but now I’m quite exhausted. I’m so ready for all of the other auditions yet to come! Stay tuned.

Week 14&15: Buddies and Injuries

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

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

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

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

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

This weeks highlights:

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

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

My audition list for this season:

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

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

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

Ruben

Week 13: Christmas-Wedding-Sketch-Shoot 2014

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

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

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

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

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

Here are a few pictures:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ruben

Week 11: Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter.

This past week has been a very extensive and eventful week full of a lot going on. I do have much to tell.

Dance-wise, its been fantastic. For the most part. Beginning my week I took extra classes, and stretched a whole ton on Monday. This led to an aggravated amount of soreness throughout the rest of the week, so bad was this soreness that I was unable to fully dance on Wednesday and couldn’t show up to morning ballet or contemporary on Thursday. (I made it up by going to second ballet class on Thursday). Also, in the first ballet class on Monday I landed on my second toe during a grand jete.. Yea, I know, it sucks. Its still quite bruised and hurts a bit, but I’m good for the most part. I mean, I can dance.

I did feel myself improving the entire week, after the soreness. I also had the pleasure of watching Hubbard Street at the Art Institute of Chicago. This was the funniest and most entertaining performance, for Christmas, I have ever seen. They were interpreting their vision of the Creche, which is a new display at the Art Institute (which is FREE on Thursdays for all Illinois residents, I HIGHLY suggest)! I thought I’d be watching a very pretty dance (and who wouldn’t want to?!) but they were interacting with the audience, yelling, improvising, and just having a great time. They turned the entire stage and audience into a living Creche. It was the highlight of my week. There isn’t anything they can’t do! They even had a Q&A for all those who wanted to stay afterwards and know more about the process or the dancers. This upcoming weekend is ONE THOUSAND PIECES, do not miss out on this chance to watch! You will not regret it. http://www.hubbardstreetdance.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=proditem&id=213:winter-series&Itemid=58

Also, last night, when I got home from a long days work I was able to watch the CSUDH dance concert’s LIVE streaming of Origins. I enjoyed myself watching all my old friends dance, so much! I really enjoyed the energy of the African, Hip Hop, Bollywood, and Belly dance. Those were a lot of fun. I thought Ken Walker and Nathan’s works were very nicely done! I completely understood what they were getting at, and thought it was lovely. I was astounded by Marco (my best friend), Jeff Hendrix and Doris Ressl’s works!! Marco did a contemporary interpretation of the traditional-folk dance of the deer, which I had seen the solo being worked on when I returned from the HSDC Summer Intensive, except he added a few more people to help develop this traditional tale. Jeff’s work was about the Holocaust, showing shocking images of the event (along with quotes) in a video, but the dance was a jazz-ballroom fusion to a beautiful traditional blues-y song. Doris’ work was a flawless trio, set on two faculty and an alumni. This is my favorite of all her works, thus far. The costumes, lighting, and choreography, it was all there! Bravo to ALL of my DH friends, I miss you all so much..Very happy I got to see you all and all of your growth. 

Lately, I have been watching all of the Star Wars epsidoes: I, II, III, IV, V, and VI. I just finished VI. I must say that it got me quite emotional. Something VERY strange happened this week. So here is the back story: I don’t quite remember my father much, from when I was younger, so I don’t really know him at all. I was raised by my loving and AMAZING mother (and wouldn’t have it any other way, for anything in the world). Ever since Thanksgiving, I have been in contact with one of his daughters, who sent me a couple of pictures of him (since I have never seen him). It was quite strange to see how he looks, I mean I’m not too familiar with the feeling of having a father or anything. The biggest thing that happened is that I spoke with my mother about this and she said I should talk to him and get to know him, since he is my father, so I gave his daughter my number to give to him. She said she would give it to him when she saw him. Later that night, while I was sleeping, someone called with a private number and left a voicemail. The voicemail said: “Hey mijo, I love you.”. I am more than certain that this was him, and it is a very WEIRD feeling, I’m not so sure how to react. He, or they, haven’t called back since.. A part of me was excited, and yet, another part of me was a bit confused. What should I do? So many emotions going through my head and heart. Do I forgive and hope he calls again, then build a relationship.. or do I build barriers because he never tried to make contact with me growing up?! Ahhh… I just finished (2 mins ago) episode VI and watching the story of Luke and Vader, I can’t help but feeling like Luke. 

This song gets to me. I suggest you close your eyes, open your heart and listen to it. See how it makes you feel:

I am a Jedi. 🙂

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,

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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

Rant: A letter to customers, employees and one lady in general…

Hello,

I hate to write this letter, but today was such an experience at LEGO that I felt that I needed to let it out. Especially given that I work more this week than any other, so far. I hate to rant, but I must; however, at the same time, I must honor those whose shoes I have been in.

Dear Customer (especially that one lady from today),

My name is Ruben Medina, and I must let you know how I feel about interacting with you, so far. There are those of you, very few, whom I’ve been so lucky to run into at the store because you fill my heart and mind with joy and laughter. There are those of you who don’t mind a casual conversation with employee’s (even if it has nothing to do with the nature of the business). But, there are also those of you who hate this altogether. This letter is for you.

I am terribly sorry that you are inconvenienced by a welcoming “Hello”, followed by a smile. I guess nowadays it is just annoying to try to have positive and friendly people welcoming you to somewhere you might or might not want to be. Countless times I try to stay cheerful and smile as large as I can, but you either ignore me, wave your hand in my face to shut up or glare at me as you walk in. People, you’re walking into a TOY STORE, show some joy. Geeze.. I mean, you CAN shop online.

Now the greets are not as large as a problem as trying to see if the customer is doing well. A simple “How are you today?” or “Are you finding everything okay?” is responded by “Yes, yes.” with some sort of indignation, or “Just leave me alone”. People, I just want you to know that it is in my JOB REQUIREMENTS to talk to you, its not necessarily a choice. I had a lady once yell at me to “leave her alone” because too many people had greeted her before I did. I should’ve known that because I’m somehow psychic.

I understand, as a customer myself, that sometimes I just want to be left alone but there is no reason to ignore someone who is standing right next to you, talking, or brush someone off like they are dirt. I hope you know that just because someone is working retail, fast food, or any other job, doesn’t mean that they are worthless or uneducated. Some of us have teaching credentials in history, degrees in biology, accounting, and PHYSICS. Yes, I have my degree in physics and I am an aspiring dancer. So guess what.. I’m not as bad as you think. Actually, if you get to know me, you might like me or my co-workers. We’re all pretty interesting people with very diverse backgrounds. But that is the bottom line: we’re all people.

And to the special lady from today: I’m sorry. I mean that from the bottom of my heart. I am sorry that you were annoyed and frustrated by me, and your situation. I’m sorry that you signed up for a membership, which YOU didn’t fully complete, that didn’t allow you to use your discount. I’m sorry that you felt as though you were somehow let down, even though your parents paid for you children’s toys ($600). I’m sorry that you yelled at me, which initially led me to remove myself from our conversation and left me a little cold. I’m sorry that I didn’t want to talk to you afterwards, and that I didn’t show my face around you. I was trying to let my eyes air out a bit and face to turn to its normal color, since I was so frustrated by the way you treated me that I was near a bursting mode. I’m not as wealthy as you are, and I might never be. I don’t have rich parents that pay for my, or my children’s, toys. I’m sure you were having a bad day, but so was I. You probably don’t have to work retail and deal with various customers that think less of you. You also probably don’t have a job where being told that you’re doing something wrong comes more frequently and natural than breathing.

I can assure you though that you did me a favor, lady and all other customers. You give me a reason to fight to get better. You light up that inner torch within me, the flame, that burns so brightly and furiously to achieve what I want. I will be a dancer, thanks to you all. And maybe one day, lady, you will be sitting out in the audience as I dance my heart out and you will think, “WOW, what an incredible dancer! I wonder who he is? I bet he’s a great guy!” and you will come backstage and thank me for a wonderful performance. Lady, this will be the day that I shake your hand and thank you for the compliment. Peace.

This letter is to all the customers out there, never forget that every person out there is a person. Treat them with kindness, respect and don’t be angry if they strike up conversation or if they cannot change company rules to tailor to your wishes (they have no power over it). This letter is for and from all the employees that work in fast food, theater, retail, and so on; don’t give up the good fight. I feel you. I walk in your shoes. I know how tough it is, and for that I am sorry. I just hope you know that one person believes in all of you. We will overcome. And when I get on that stage, representing a dance company that I can be proud to be a part of, I hope you know that I will be dancing it for all of you.

I wont give up.

Thank You.
Yours Truly,
Ruben

P.S. Here is a note for someone that I found in the “Fellowship of the Rings” which I bought today after getting out of work and found quite inspirational:

Wishing you adventures filled with friends, challenges, and great accomplishments. The road is long, but worthwhile as the Hobbit found on hand so will you.

Once again, I’m sorry for the rant. I just needed to get it all out. In no way did I intend to insult anyone, and if I had done so, I am terribly sorry.
Here is my inspiration once again (I posted it before, but I think we all need a bit of fuel):

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 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