Standing in the Front of the Studio.

Posted by on 07.09.2010

On Tuesday, one of the teachers at Miami City Ballet, Geta Constantinescu asked me if I would help her set selections of Balanchine’s “Swan Lake” on the summer program’s Advanced Two students. When I was a student in the school, Geta was my teacher, so having her ask me to work with her was not only exciting, but an honor.

Maria Calegari set this ballet on the company for our 2008-2009 season. Geta knew that I had the opportunity to work with Ms. Calegari and learn the ballet from her, so she enlisted my help. She asked me if I would come to rehearsals to share with the girls what Maria specifically wanted, and to help teach some of the choreography. I was of course very eager to work with the girls, as this would be a great opportunity for me.

So I did my homework. I watched the company’s rehearsal video over and over. I took notes and drew pictures of the patterns the dancers made. It suddenly occurred to me how difficult it is to know what EVERY person is doing at ALL times. While I was taking notes I had to determine where each head was, each arm, and each foot. Heaven forbid they all do the same step at the same time! So right off the bat I was enjoying the challenge.

I walked into rehearsal the next day feeling so prepared and ready to help Geta set this dance on the girls. As I would quickly realize, I was not as thorough as I had thought. When it came to the complicated patterns, I realized I have over looked quite a few little details. It is so hard to observe all the elements of choreography! As we continued to figure all the steps out, the girls remained so patient and eager to learn. I have a whole new appreciation for how hard it is to be a ballet mistress and to set ballets; there is so much to keep track of, and so much material to know inside and out.

Today in rehearsal, we worked on the material the girls had learned over the past 2 days. Geta put in different casts and reviewed the steps. I have to say this was such an amazing experience for me. Watching them try it for the first time, then seeing how they evolved over the rehearsal, was just so exciting. They listened to everything that Geta had to say and applied it to their dancing. Geta was allowing me to give them corrections as well, which is such a bizarre and exhilarating experience. I used to be one of the girls in the back of the studio listening to whomever was talking in the front of the room, and now I am the one giving corrections from the front! It is truly surreal for me.

At one point while the girls were dancing, I turned to Geta and mentioned that the girls were not watching each other and making eye contact while they were dancing, which consequently is very important when dancing in the corps de ballet. She agreed with me and mentioned it to the girls when the music stopped. She explained how important it is to feel what the person next to you is doing, as well as the person across from you, behind you, etc. She said, “That is how you stay in line and stay together.” She told the students that by watching one another, they would become united and add performance quality to their dancing. As that message sank in, she played the music again from the beginning. As they danced, each girl watched each other. Every line was perfect, they were in perfect unison, and they seemed so in tune with each other. Seeing that kind of improvement made me so excited. “That was so wonderful girls! You were perfectly in line the whole time! Everything was just right!” I exclaimed with slight tears in my eyes. In response all the girls giggled and Geta told them,”You see girls, when you do something beautiful, that is the response you get.”

Already my experience working with these girls has been so inspiring. I can’t wait to see what’s is to come for me next week. More updates to come on my lessons from a great teacher.

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