I know The Nutcracker is over, but since it’s been snowing for the past few days, I’m putting up one more pic of me as Snow Queen. Yes, those are snowflakes on my warm up sweater. I lived in that thing for the entire rehearsal periods and performances each time I was SQ. Gotta get in the mood! And there are snowflakes in my crown and my earrings are big snowflakes too. (Shoes by Freed.)
…where I was the “Snow Queen” for the umpteenth time. Don’t get me wrong, it was my favorite part and a bit of type casting since I can be…well, icy.
That year my partner was Alexei Khimenko, orginally from Leningrad, but had been dancing for a while in Nashville, TN. Everyone loved Alexei. He was fun, charming and an intuitive and helpful partner. He was SBC’s own Baryshnikov!
He taught us a lot, even some Russian. Most wanted to learn how to count to ten, but I wanted to learn something I could use, so I politely asked him to teach me how to say “F*$# off!”. After laughing, he obliged. Before we went on stage each show for our pas, instead of wishing him “Merde”, I would tell him – lovingly – to “F*$# off”.
In the picture above, I not only certainly have a cramp in my hamstring and back, but I’m pretty sure I’m telling him (through clenched teeth) that my boob was falling out. Photo shoots are a bitch.
SBC gals post-Nutcracker sometime after electricity was invented.
Oh Nutcracker…and memories.
Pictured: the “Trinas”. One’s husband is in the background (Hi Chad!), one had recently given birth, one was kinda, sorta, not-so-secretly dating my boyfriend (or maybe that came later), and I just had knee surgery. But, we pulled off a great show. Although we did change the entire pas to be on my left leg and I wasn’t a very dainty Sugar Plum – just ask my poor partner (Sorry John).
RB as Snow Queen in "The Nutcracker" with Ben Houk.
That one time where I backhanded my partner in the face on stage. Oopsie daisy.
It was an almost perfect performance. Almost. It was the very end of the pas after we “make it snow” calling the snowflakes on to dance. All that was left was a a back attitude/penche promenade and a lame duck/step over turn into another promenade, then exit. I was stoked because the pas went so well thinking we’d just take it easy and do a few pretty floating turns to finish. My partner was thinking let’s do 15,000 pirouettes and finish with a bang!
I wasn’t ready for the major push off he gave me – add in the fact that I’m not a good turner with spotting issues – and I went all cattywhampus and smacked him in the face hard. We recovered enough to finish, but our slow romantic walk off turned into a grab-the-back-of-the-tutu shove/run exit. Boo.He was pissed.
The rest of Snow Scene went well with a stoic smile etched on my face, but the screw up left a mark on me…and his face.
Over Thanksgiving weekend I was lucky – and thankful – to have dinner (which consisted of lots of fried things!) with two of my BFFs from back home. While catching up, we brought up one particular Nutcracker that was memorable for all the wrong reasons.
While breaking in a new brand of pointe shoes, my friend developed blisters on the back of her heels. Tech week is hard core, so those blisters soon ripped and she found herself with large, deep holes that were bleeding and raw. Obviously there was no time to heal, so she powered through – I’m not sure how – by having Lidocaine shot directly into the wounds before the perfomance. It was painful to watch. I can’t imagine how it felt. However, she danced a beautiful pas and Sugar Plum variation complete with a dazzling array of turns and a big goofy smile. She insists she has no recollection of even dancing. Good drugs, I guess, but that was her final Nutcracker. Hmm…I wonder why?
RB as Lilac Fairy and the Fairy Court in "Sleeping Beauty".
This Throwback Thursday is in honor of the opening night – tomorrow night – of Ballet West‘s Sleeping Beauty at the Auditorium Theatre. My first full-length ballet with the Springfield Ballet Company, way back in the day, was Sleeping Beauty. I was a “maid-in-waiting” and a “lilac sylph”. It was some hard corps dancing for my first thing aside from Nutcracker and a lot of it. The hardest part was standing in “B+” for the entire Rose Adage. Good lord. Feet asleep, hips cramped…now dance!
About ten years laster, I was cast as the “Lilac Fairy” and I was ecstatic. I may have gone a little overboard (only wearing purple leos, lilac lotion and acting nice and fairy-like), but I wanted to be “in character”. During the rehearsal process, I was also falling in love with the boy I was dating. Things were good.
Tech week is always stressful transitioning from the comfortable studio setting to the “big girl” stage. Things change and you freak out. The first full dress rehearsal my crown got stuck in netting of the forest. A lovely apprentice finally freed me after I’d severely missed my cue and yelled (I’m sure with profanity) for help. Then my wand got stuck on my tutu in a series of chaine turns. But as they say, a terrible dress means a great show.
Our officiall dress rehearsal is also taped and performed with a live audience of friends and disabled persons from local area, so I consider this a “real” performance. It was also the last time to get out any kinks before “the boyfriend” was to see me dance for the first time. Ahhh! I’d had a terrible cold that I inadvertently gave to “Princess Aurora” (sorry Alicia!), so I hadn’t seen “him” all week. After warm up and photos, I decided to call and let “him” know where to pick up his tickets for the Saturday matinee and…he broke up with me..over the phone…while I was backstage…20 minutes before curtain.
This isn’t quite as dramatic as Ballet West’s Allison DeBona’s longtime boyfriend not showing up to see her dance as depicted in Breaking Pointe this season, but I was heartbroken. Since the “show must go on”, I hooked up my tutu and danced. There’s a lovely video of me nailing all my pirouettes and not smiling once. Blergh.
This is an old shot for the marketing campaign for Springfield Ballet Company‘s (SBC) Rockballet, a Billboard-esque show of pointe, jazz and contemporary works set to rock music. And that’s my dear friend and partner-in-crime Paulie!
We were on the posters, t-shirts and billboards to promote the show that year, but I can’t seem to find anything with that shot on it, so this is what you get.
Rockballet was always my favorite show of the season. It was first. It was more artistically satisfying than The Nutcracker. Plus, I was way better at contemporary works than being the pretty, pretty princess. Winning! We used music from U2, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Elton John, Hole and whatever was hot at the time.
Merde to my friends at SBC for this weekend’s performances!
About a million years ago, when I was still dancing, in pointe shoes no less, I had another sign of rogueness. I was feeling in a rut and expressed to my Director (and dear friend) that I was thinking of cutting my hair off. After telling me I couldn’t do that (which is the fastest way to get me to do something), she relented, but said I would have to wear a fake bun for the Spring show. Fine.
Instead, I was cast as the Evil Queen and was put in a hood/scull cap. So, I got to cut my hair short, got a kick-ass part (basically looking pissed off and kicking people in between battements, and I’m pretty sure I hissed at the audience at one point – aka, typecasting) and had a blast. Winning.
Snow Queen in "The Nutcracker" with Alexei Khimenko. Photo by someone's dad?
The other day I was home working on my November column for Windy City Times. My iTunes genius list was set to “classical”. A little Corigliano, some Yo Yo Ma and then more familiar music came on. Music I’ve known intimately for years. I first remember being moved by it when I was much younger. I was in the kitchen of the house I grew up in. The rest of my family was downstairs watching who knows what (probably basketball), but I was upstairs standing in the kitchen watching Baryshnikov’s The Nutcracker on PBS.
It was the beginning of the snow scene – or snow pas. Misha had just magically turned from a “wooden” soldier to a prince and was asking Gelsey Kirkland (“Clara”) to dance. The setting was beautiful and romantic. The dancing…well, it was Misha and Gelsey. It is still my favorite version of my favorite scene and I still watch it every year. And, yes, it still makes me cry (but don’t tell anyone, I have a reputation to uphold).
Luckily, I got to dance a version of the snow pas many times in Springfield. I still get a little tingly with anticipation (and a bit nauseated with nerves) when I hear the first few notes. Walking out to do the pas was nerve-wracking, but once you got through it, you were home free for the rest of the scene. The flakes come on and you get a break, then basically just a few quick jump passes and lifts – oh, how I love the lifts, especially when your partner is 6’5″ – and you’re already in the blizzard. Slow down, resolution, make it snow and scene.
I know it’s only the beginning of November, but the snow scene will happen, real and on stage, soon! So here’s a little something to get you in the mood.