Saturday, February 24, 2007

Pancakes Anyone?

Unlike some others I have heard about recently, I do not possess fabulous boobs. They are small and, apparently as I found out today, dense (densely tissued, not unintelligent). I like them just fine, but right now, they do not like me.

I just got back from my very first mammogram, or as I prefer to refer to it, my first pinch-a-gram.

Gents, you are lucky. It's really not as bad as the horrors I have heard from several women, but if y'all had to disrobe in front of a male doctor, whose first action is to put a little sticker on the end of your member, only to then have it handled, hauled and hurled in different directions only to be squashed flat, not only vertically, but diagonally too, I'm sure you boys would find a cure to cancer about as quickly as the time it takes to chew all of the flavour out of a stick of Juicy Fruit.

Plus D'answers

Oh Hulles, of course I know you weren’t serious about the WMS and the GGMD (Generally Gay Male Dancer). How could you not like at least some of the WMS? It can be great. And about the GGMD? Exaggerate away – it came through the way you intended. My problem is that I can’t convey my sarcasm as well as you do. I come off sounding preachy, but really, my tongue is also firmly planted in my cheek. A different mouthhold of sorts.

So, you’ve inspired me to get out this weekend and drown myself in dance. I went on and looked up some theatres. Turns out Garth Fagan is going to be in Lake Worth (going on Saturday night by myself) and New York Theatre Ballet is going to be in Delray (going, again, by myself on Sunday for the matinée). Guess what NYDT is doing? AGNES DE MILLE CRAP!! Our favourite whats-his(well, her really)-name’s Rodeo! Ahahaha! It’ll be a glorious night of Copeland. Actually, I think I may have written this in the comment that got eaten not so long ago, but I love Copeland’s scores. Sorry! His sweeping plains, vistas, laments, tenderness. Ahh…I could dance to it forever. It’s the hoedown-ey kind of stuff that gets to be a little too much. Have you heard his score to The Tenderland? That’s the pic with my and my partner Joral (Jor-al, not Jor-al as in Superman’s father fame). Now that’s some meaningful music. Maybe just to me though. His Billy the Kid and The Tenderland were kind of breakout ballets for me in Oakland.

I love what you said about RFBCC’s mistakes and flaws. They are very noticeable in this form, not so much in WMS. Maybe that’s why I felt more comfortable in moe-dairn stuff…I felt more free to make mistakes because there was always a way pull them off if you had your artistic head about you. I liked the availability of thinking on your feet (no pun), staying on your toes (oh please stop!). There’s a wall of perfection around classical dance, and there was no room for anything – not even heavy breathing. I make it sound like I hated pure ballet – I didn’t - honest…but the neo-classical, the modern really spoke to me. I loved it when I found it. And BTW – had you seen me dance you would have loved me! I mistaked and flawed all over the place! I had a nasty habit of falling down. Mostly it was embarrassing, but sometimes it was hilarious.

Let’s see, where are we up to now? I need to refer to your message. Hmm, hmm, hmm, ah yes. The marriage thing. Uh-huh, I was related to one of them. I was married to Michael Lowe for almost ten years. That’s a saga in itself – and in looking at your Mythos page (thanks for including me! When do I leave the little known status and move on to the next level?), I notice you have had a saga or two yourself?

An aside: It’s midnight and I have the choice to watch Taxicab Confessions or Def Poetry Jam. I think I will go with the poetry, though I am always on the lookout for the Confessions episode where my ballet company coworker N______ is one of the strippers on a pole in the musical interludes…couldn’t believe it when I saw her there the first time. Bud Light please.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Late Bloomer

I'm having a bloomer thing at the mo'. I like the pink bows on these ones. Not as expressive a picture as the previous bloomers, but these will do.

That is all.


Dear Hulles,

I’m going to start my response to your post about the ballet with this paragraph:

Basically, there are two kinds of dance: classical ballet and weird modern shit. The weird modern shit could be anything from Lucinda Child dancing in a square over and over and over again to a Philip Glass recording (yes, I saw her perform it, and no, I don't want to talk about it); to Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, which is a bunch of fat guys dressed in tutus (really); to the breathtaking agile magic of Pilobolus.

Most of the time, I am partial to the WMS over the RFBCC (really fucking boring classical crap). In respect to watching RFBCC, I often want to creep out of my seat because it is predictable (Balanchine) and uptight (everything else). WMS can be exhilarating, fresh, wacky and usually has much cooler music. In respect to performing WMS? Way better. Let me tell you why. RFBCC has been performed over and over again for years and years by every bunhead and her dog. How individual can you truly make your Giselle? What kernel of originality can you stamp on an Esmeralda? The steps are what they are, everyone has to do them the same (basically) and you spend most of your time trying to live up to the best performance you’ve ever seen or heard about. Me? I prefer the WMS because you can make it your own. The choreographer is more often than not creating something on you directly, you are a part of the process, your mistakes and stumbles can result n the most amazing movement or mood, you live inside what comes out in the studio…not on top of it. Don’t get me wrong. There is a certain pride in doing a classical role (I was very pleased to become a part of the Sugar Plum Fairy alumni in the mid ‘90s), but to have something choreographed for you, on you, about you? Brilliant. You are the pace-setter, not the chaser.

An aside: The Trock? Hilarious fun – just don’t make it the first foray into the ballet world. It might scare one off. Must see companies? Pilobolus, Alvin Ailey, Mark Morris, ABT, PNB, NYCB, SF Ballet to mention a few. Ballets that pop into my head immediately? Twyla Tharp’s In the Upper Room, Val Caniparoli’s Bow Out, L’Homme at la Mort, Gaite Parisienne, The Moor’s Pavane, Carmina Burana, etc.

The women are really really skinny. But even if the female dancers you see are blimps compared to the way they used to be, they will still look really thin to you. Some of this has to do with simple physics: your gay male pas de deux partner (see below) can't lift you and hold you in the air with one arm if you weigh 180 pounds.

Our director used to have a saying, “Gentlemen, push-ups! Ladies? Lettuce…” I was always mistaken for an anorexic dancer, but I never was. It’s just really hard to get the fuel to energy output right. We never had enough time to get the food in – we were always working so hard. Oakland Ballet was a great place because the director liked his men to look like men and his women to look like women. Curves and muscles were totally acceptable, preferred in fact. I was the anomaly there – I had a tiny pinhead and was very thin – more like the Balanchine outline.

p.s. Hulles – not all the men are gay. Point of fact, most men go into ballet so they can be up close and personal with all the half naked, sweaty, and for the most part, liberal (meaning sexually loose) chicks. Whoo-ah! It’s basically a straight man’s heaven.

But it is very unlikely that you will attend a performance where it is all classical ballet, at least in the U.S. Whether this is pandering to imagined American taste or simply because the classical repertoire is so small is something I don't know. It might just be that an all-classical performance would be too physically taxing for most companies. I'll try to find out the answer and let you know.

I have to think that most companies don’t do all classical repertory in an evening because it is RFBCC (emphasis on the RFB). From the performing stance, classical ballet is actually easier, in my estimation, to do because it is reserved, there is a lot of restraint and it follows a certain pace, a certain breath. WMS is more taxing because of the athleticism and unconventional pacing – you can be on stage for the entire performance, or go like a bat out of hell for ten minutes only to appear back on stage after a brief breather for another ten minutes. You can also go completely apeshit on this style of the dancing - sweat is permitted, use of breath is permitted.

In the second segment I'll talk about some of the dance terminology you should know, what to watch for in a performance, how female dancers smell, what kind of shit the dancers are wearing when you see them, and what it's like to be a little girl growing up and wanting to be a ballet dancer.

Truth be told – some of us (I’m not saying who) smell like smoked chipped beef after a show. A little sweat, a little exertion, and a little drying time can conjure up all kinds of pititude.

Actually, the proper term is balletomane, but that sounds even more gay than "ballet aficionado" plus I don't know how to pronounce it, so let's just stick with the former appellation.

Balletomane? Bah-lett–oh-main.

When I left you you were just sitting down in your decent seats in the auditorium about to see American Ballet Theater perform Miscellaneous Weird Modern Shit, Intermission, then the classical ballet Giselle. You're in for a treat. This is a fantasy performance, so Martine van Hamel is dancing Giselle as well as a pas-de-deux or two in the first part's MWMS.

I preferred Martine as Myrtha – holy hamstrings that woman could jump. She leaped like a man – therefore she was another hero. Jumping was my forte…couldn’t turn for shit, the scoliosis you know (Yay Heather!)…but in my ballet days, “jumping for joy” was not just an overused phrase. Jumps elated me, literally and figuratively.) I never Myrtha-ed but I did do one of her sidekicks…Moyna? No, Zulma…Moyna? I don’t know. Whatever. We boureéd a lot. And kicked Albrecht’s ass.

Toe shoes are the funny pink shoes the female dancers wear in classical ballet. They cost $14,000 a piece at your local Capezio store and most people need two of them, so as you can see ballet is not a poor woman's avocation. Toe shoes have wooden plugs in the toe to allow the dancer to spin like a top as she's dancing, hence the name.

Hulles and I have already addressed this, but for those of you not in the know, there is no wood in pointe shoes – sometimes I wished there was because it would last longer than the burlap, canvas, satin and glue that really makes up a toe shoe. Various materials + glue + sweaty feet + two hour performance + a little blood = soggy tissue paper. You can dry out the shoe, stuff it with newspaper, pray to the capezio fairy and hope for a useable shoe in the morning, but it almost never happens. Recently, various shoe companies have been experimenting/utilizing plastic in shoe tips, but really it diminished the ability to “roll-through and in my opinion, leaves the dancer looking clunky and a bit uncoordinated. I’m a Freed snob (Freed is the largest, and oldest I think, pointe shoe company).

The corps (pronounced "core," this is important, write it on the back of your hand before you go) is short for the "corps de ballet." These are the dancers that flutter and swarm here and there during the course of the ballet, always in groups. After all, that's why she gets the big bucks, somewhere around $700 a week for a major company for a 36-week season. It works out to about $25000 a year, to save you the math. And bear in mind that this is in the Major Leagues of the dance world; these are the top pros in their field.

This is true if they are in a union company – for those poor sots (me and plenty like me) that were in non-union companies, not so much...starting salary was 350 – 400 a week. I never made 700 a week, even when I was a principal dancer and by the time I retired, we were down to a 12 week contract. This is a year y’all…12 weeks at 6 fiddy. Do the math because it depresses me too much to do it for you. When I first came to the company, we had a 42 week contract and lots of touring (extra per diem money to save!!) Whopeee!). 13 years later, attention to the arts had diminished so much that even the Principals had to hustle with extra teaching, guesting and summer jobs. I became extremely proficient at house painting. My specialty was the five-story outdoor scaffolding. Almost fell off once, but that’s another story (no pun intended…)

The last terminology you will learn is two French words, "jeté" and "plié." I can no longer recall what these words mean but they are ballet terms used to describe various stylized dance movements that occur during the course of the performance.

Jeté – to leap
Plié – to bend
I can go on and on Hulles – let me know if you remember more terms and need an interpreter.

Male dancers suck. They are never well choreographed, they have totally lame moves and don't go en pointe, and they seem to exist solely as foils for the female dancers. Fine. Who gives a shit? The female dancers are cracking good and they more than make up for the sorry-ass male dancers.

Hey, hey, hey. We couldn’t do it without them – those boys were a necessary fixture. We liked our forklifts and bike stands. They did a fine job most of the time…unless they had been out drinking the night before and were sweating Absolut all over you. Or smoking pot that day just to round out the week/month/year. Or were just plain stupid and could never remember the steps. It was like being pregnant with those types…you were definitely dancing for two! On the whole though, my guys were outstanding. I was never dropped and the sacrifices were always on their part.

If you would be lucky enough to find yourself in the dressing room after the performance, you would quickly notice that God's own deodorant and antiperspirant couldn't begin to make a dent in the, shall we say, closeness of the atmosphere. What did you expect? Dancers sweat. Men and women perspire, horses and ballet dancers sweat. Look at what they were doing out there, for crying out loud. Of course they sweat. And they don't smell like smoked chipped beef either, no matter what some would have you believe. They smell like victory.

Well then, I smelled like victorious smoked chipped beef.

I welcome specific questions and will be happy to answer them if we care to continue the ballet convo. If not, I will join you shortly with my life’s ramblings. I should really promise an account of our time in Wine Country, but I am so sick of grape juice at this point that it would probably make me feel ill.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Falling Up

It warms my heart to know that a dear, dear friend is falling in love right at this very moment. He is in a sea of people, but I'm sure he only sees her. I wonder if he is at her side, or if he is working his way through minor conversations to gain the seat next to her. Did he buy her first drink? Will he see her to her car?

Or is he watching the night take its course from a mild distance, enjoying how her spectacular smile lifts his soul...up where the colors blend into the sounds.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Nick Is Not My Name

Hulles asked recently if he could call me LL and it led me to ponder my nicknames... I was inspired to make a list of names past and present...

By family and friends alike:
Larly Charley
Auntie Larva

By Vincent and then the whole ballet company:

By Bob the lighting designer:

By Stephanie (aka Stevie, Swizzle Stick, Twurlgirl):
Pixie Stick

By Omar (in trio with Stevie and Kendra aka Kennie):

By my first husband:
Laris von Larus

By Shandy:

By Sherrie (aka Banana Nose):

By Joy (aka Joybee):

By Nana:

By me:

Monday, February 05, 2007

The Batteries That Died Today

  • Ryder's bouncy seat was singing a very mournful took me a while to realize that the PMS induced weeping was not only from "my pre-time of the month" but the sad/creepy slow motion tempo of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.
  • E's mouse (meaning my mouse that I haven't seen in like 5 months).
  • Mine. Around 3:30. Transportation Conference Proceedings data input, no chocolate to be found, no coffee creamer. It was a sad, slow, sad day.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Mountain...Meet Mohammed

I'm feeling quite pleased with myself. I have been waiting for a really long time to have a friend, or a friend's friend say to me, "You know what? We have a Book Club and I think it would be really nice if you wanted to join us."

Never happened.

So today, I decided to introduce a man to a particularly large piece of rock. I went to Barnes and Noble, bought six copies of Anita Shreve's A Wedding in December, and handed them out at my brother's Superbowl party. We ladies have a date in the beginning of March, and honestly, if it turns out to be a crap read and the gathering is 2 minutes of Book and an hour and 58 minutes of Club - I don't care. People are reading and I am getting everyone out of the house for a bit of child-free girl talk. Wanna join?