Thursday, October 14, 2010

Of Art, Colin, Ballet, and a Competition: My last couple of weeks-10/14/10

So I am embarrassed.  I love to blog, I really do.  I enjoy the writing, I enjoy putting my thoughts into a logical order, I enjoy sharing, I enjoy the process.  But I am also a master of procrastination.  These topics are near and dear to my heart and yet they have weighed so heavily on me during the past two weeks that I get emotional when I talk about them and hence write about them.  A couple of FaceBook buddies suggested I just write and free myself and they are absolutely correct.  So here it goes:

OF ART: There has been painfully little art.  After the Art of the Land show, which was a huge success for The Land Conservancy and a great show for the artists including myself, I basically crashed.  Actually I think it was a little before the show that I crashed.  My muse has flown the coop.  I have little motivation right now and I have some reasons why that is, although they are not excuses.  So I am a little burned out for one, I have a lot on my mind both consciously and unconsciously, its Nutcracker season and I am on the run, my classes are not taking off at the Studio School of Art (in my defense, a lot of different classes are not taking off).  Enough said.

Of Colin:  My son is a wonderful ballet dancer.  All of his childhood and teen years (he is 15 now), have been spent  in the dance studio.  Being a male ballet dancer as a youth and teen is a difficult thing for a boy in America, but I am so proud of how he has weathered the storm thus far.  You can imagine what I am talking about.  He has been called some names and bullied and excluded from outside activities because of his "sport." And through this all he has held his head up and forged forward.  To my point, I worry about him all the time.  I can't help it. And strangely enough, I know I can't control other people and how they treat him.  I do hope he does not lose sight of his goals nor lose his passion for dance.  He is really good.

Of Ballet: Both Colin and Claire are in the throws of our annual Nutcracker. The rehearsal time is added onto their already very long class schedule.  Claire will be dancing with her brother in the Chinese scene and she is trying to get in shape for that.  Colin has been lifting weights three to four times a week for all the lifting (of dancers) he will be doing.  The physical demands of this beautiful performing art are daunting.  To keep Colin in food, for example, is like trying to put an elephant on a diet. He eats all the time and we have to remind him to down those protein shakes and gator aides before and after his classes.  I have been doing some creative cooking to keep meals healthy but at the same time, not look so healthy (Colin hates anything green) so they get all the  micro nutrients and vitamins.  Oh yea, and then there is something called home work and of course sleep. When they do not get enough sleep, both are prone to injuries.  Shin splints are common, especially with all the extra rehearsals. Blisters from extra time in point shoes (Claire), sometimes 6 hours or more, are also occurring more frequently.  In the end, I know it will be worth it...I just don't see any light yet at the end of the tunnel.

Of a Competition:  My Colin was asked to enter a local competition (in Chicago).  We looked at this as a great opportunity for him in more than one way.  It would serve as the first time that he would be seen by the whose who of the Chicago dance scene, it would be an "audition" experience for him, and he would meet and observe other guys dancing and at least get a feel for his talent.  He began rehearsing in late June, once per week with one of his dance instructors, a variation from the ballet Don Quixote. And then in late August, a special modern piece was choreographed just for him by another dance instructor to the music The Boxer (Simon and Garfunkel). The competition was held the first weekend of October but it seems like I have been with him in this since the summer.  OK so the experience got mixed reviews from both of us.  First of all, he was the only male of about 27 other contestants. Next, no one really talked to us or him.  Parents stayed in their little pods as did the competitors. 
 We had no idea where all the other dancers haled.  It was very apparent that no one was going to give us the time of day.  I am not sure what to make of that.  Was it rudeness, was it that because it was our first time in a competition that we did not know what the etiquette was?  Gosh who knows, and we probably never will know.  Colin did not win anything.  That is OK because I understood where the judges were coming from and what they were looking for.  I am OK with that really.  But what I found utterly amazing was that after the competition was over, not a single judge (and there were 5 of them) came up to Colin just simply to say hi, or come back again next year, or its nice to see a boy here, or offer any words at all of encouragement (have they all forgotten how hard it is for dance schools to recruit boys or how hard it is for boys to stay in ballet in this country) I mean come on.  I just found that incredibly rude.  I saw that one of the judges was on his blackberry (or whatever) and another fell asleep during some of the performances.  Anyway, it seemed that all the judges knew the first pace winner though and that is who they flocked to after the competition.  So am I way off base here.  I am obviously biased, big time biased... but geesh.  Here is what I think I took away from this all that was positive:  The judges did offer their own individual  comments to all of the dancers collectively at the end.  What they said to them had one consistent theme and that was while there were many good technicians (Colin of course was one of those) they wanted to see a performance, passion, expression.  And for what it is worth, I agree.  What separated the winners from the great technicians was just that, the fire and passion, being present in their performance, smiling once and get the idea.  Its not like Colin has not been told that a thousand times, it is just does not come natural to him.  He dances with his head and he's got to include his heart if he wants to take the next step.  I am not sure if Colin bought all of this.  He was pretty upset after the competition.  Time will tell.  I just hope that my experience wasn't typical for ballet competitions. 
waiting for results with Claire


Amelia said...

wow - what a lot to go through. I've not had experience of this, although many other things and yes, people are rude and thoughtless at times I guess.

It's great that your son has you and your support and great he is sticking to his passion.

I hope you find time to be creative and get over these hurdles.

Thanks for stopping by at mine and wishing me success. I hope you can join in if you are able :)


Undaunted said...

Oh Kathy I'm so sorry. Life is so heavy at times, especially when we're worrying about those closest to us.

I really feel for Colin in his situation, and admire him too. The stupid prejudice of other people really annoys me, when it's so obvious that male ballet dancers (have to) excel in physical strength, and strength of character. (Ok, I'm going to leave that there because ignorant people really annoy me!) Bravo to Colin though :) And just look at Patric Swayze! People don't think of him as a ballet dancer, but that's what he was, and he met his future wife at 18 and they stayed together for life. Wow, I saw a beautiful dance that the two performed together. Imagine sharing a passion like that with the person you're married to.

As for the rude people... no, I'd better not get started on that one either! I've met a fair few! There are elitists in many areas of life, you must have met quite a few yourself in the art world! I just try to laugh at them and move on, though I understand it can hurt at times.

You've raised your children to excel in their art and to still remain human. You should feel very proud of yourself :)

Kathy L said...

Thank you Amelia for your comment. We artists are gentle souls.... And Linda, You words lifted my soul. Thank you dear friends!