Throwback Thursday: Nut edition #tbt

RB as Snow Queen w/ Alexei Khimenko.

…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.

Throwback Thursday: Nut edition #tbt

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.

Throwback Thursday: Monkey edition #tbt

RB with wildlife on the Rock of Gibraltar.

Yes, that is a monkey on my head. Fun times. Technically it’s an ape, since it doesn’t have a long tail, but…regardless, it was on my person.

I was in Spain on vacation with friends. We decided to rent a car and take a day trip to see the Rock of Gibraltar. We rented a tour guide to take us to the top in his van. These apes/monkeys were all over the place and he had a fake rubber snake in the van to scare them off when they jumped on the car. (Btw – I have a completely irrational fear of snakes. Even fake ones.) He told us how there were two “gangs” of apes living at the top of the rock and to make sure not to eat anything, especially anything sweet outside once we got to the top because the monkey/apes would swoop down and steal it. Note taken.

We toured the caves and went to the gift shop. I was jumpy since the monkey/apes were everywhere and still afraid of the rubber snake from the car. We walked outside to take some photos from the top of the rock. My friend thought it would be funny to get a staged picture taken with a monkey on her back placed by the guide. She chickened out, but in the meantime, one monkey scaled my back and sat on my shoulders, another jumped on my back and yet another jumped on my arm. Two of my friends thought it was hilarious and started taking pictures. Another high-tailed it out of the area on his way back to the van.

What was going through my head? 1. They were going to scratch my eyes out and take my sunglasses. 2. They were going to rip my hair out. 3. They were going to pee on me. None of these things, in my mind, were good. Staying calm, I eventually, asked the guide to please take them off of me. Laughing, he complied. Being the fierce rogue that I am, I promptly burst into tears. It turns out my favorite vanilla perfume (that I still wear) was the culprit. Needless to say, it was a jittery ride back down and I not-so-nicely told the guide he’d better not even think of busting that fake snake out again.




Throwback Thursday: Peep edition #tbt

RB and Todd Michael Kiech at ACDF circa 1987.

Oh, the 80s. Picture it. Central Illinois – 1986 – a girl from Decatur meets a guy from the Chicago suburbs at a dance rehearsal. There is laughing, lots of laughing. A friendship is born amid leotards and leg warmers.

Todd Kiech is many things: a dancer, choreographer, teacher, actor, psychic, burlesque star, bartender, but most of all he’s my dear friend. He has the most infectious, boisterous laugh around. He makes me giggle every time I see him. He’s my original peep.

We’ve done hundreds of shows together over the years. I will never forget the sage advice he once gave me in rehearsal. “Vicki, do…something!” Back in the day, I had big hair and he had hair. I love my Todd Kiech. Happy 27 years, my friend.

Throwback Thursday: Cindy edition #tbt

RB as Winter Fairy in "Cinderella".

This #tbt is inspired by Breaking Pointe*, the CW docu-drama series following Ballet West**. This season on the show the company is performing Sir Frederick Ashton’s Cinderella. (The filming took place during their 2012-2013 season.) This past Monday the cast list went up and had me meandering down memory lane.

Cinderella is one of my favorite ballets. Prokofiev’s sparkling music, the magical transformation with the carriage, the hilarious ugly step sisters (Yes, I was one. Too fun.), the whimsical choreography (I’m fairly certain all versions take liberally from Ashton) and the story. Even though I take issue with the lesson that everything is “happily ever after” once you meet your prince…I’m still a sucker for this romantic tale.

I really, really wanted to be Cinderella. It was my dream part. Alas, my best friend and roommate got the coveted role. As awkward as that sounds, we immediately discussed any hurt feeling and I ended up sitting in on her rehearsals for moral support. (She was fabulous, by the way, and admittedly a better dancer than me.) I was cast as the Winter Fairy, which has a beautiful, but slightly boring variation. I also had to wear a powder blue tutu. Yuck! I coped by wearing copious amounts of blue eye shadow. Blue rogueness.

While the solo variation wasn’t particularly challenging , the group fairy variations with the Fairy Godmother were fast and fun. The tick-tock clock countdown in Act II was hard and a blast, but the Act III interlude before the wedding pas, where we bourree in place forEVER killed my poor hips.

* I live-tweet the episodes on Monday evenings. Follow along @rogueballerina

**Ballet West will be performing in Chicago at the Auditorium Theatre this October. Get tickets here!

Throwback Thursday: Evil rogueness

RB as the Evil Queen in "Snow White".

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.

#Throwback Thursday: Tales of Early Rogueness

Hey - these shoes are made for running!

There were early signs of rogueness. The “old school” walker was just an accessory. According to my Mom, I would pick it up and run with it, then stop, sit and rest. Sounds about right.

One day, wanting to follow my big brother, I rode it down the 12 steps to the basement. Wee!

Another sign happened at the public swimming pool. While my Mom was talking I jumped into the deep end diaper and all. She found me at the bottom, looking up at her with bubbles coming out of my mouth. Hi!

Sorry Mom 🙂

Throwback Thursday

Backyard Betty posing for the camera.

Last month I was at the Chicago Repertory Ballet performance (great show, Wade Schaaf’s The Rite of Spring was awesome!) and a pre-show song jogged my memory.

Peaches & Herb’s Shake Your Groove Thing was my first solo. An acro-jazz combo with some hips, a few turns and lots of flips and sass, the piece was right up my alley. While excited, the news that I was to perform it not only at my studio’s recital but at the local mall, threw me into a state.

My hopes that no one would be at the mall on a Saturday were dashed as the crowd gathered before the show. Gulp! My nerves (which became infamous in later years) were getting the best of me. First rule when you’re nervous before a performance? Go over your steps. I knew the steps. I just didn’t necessarily want to do them in front of all these people…in the day light…on stage at the center the mall!

Ok, I thought, I can do this. I can do this in my sleep. What do I need to do? 1. Point your feet. 2. Don’t flip into the brick wall. 3. Don’t fall into the water moat at the front of the stage. 4. Smile. Crap, don’t forget to smile. Obviously I made it through, since I wasn’t shamed into hiding. But it was close.