ABT’s, ‘Manon’ Review

Not many people have the chance to see the 3 act ballet, ‘Manon’ simply because not many regional companies arround the US are doing it. It isn’t your Cinderella, your Midsummer Night’s Dream- with princesses or fairies or a Disney movie version. It isn’t at all family friendly and therefore not a sure ticket seller. Unless of course, we’re talking about American Ballet Theatre performing a rare-and-scandalous ballet with Roberto Bolle and Julie Kent in the lead roles. Should this be the case, people will fly across the country to see it. And by people, I mean me.

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‘Manon’ is based on the Abbe Prevost novel of the same title with music by Jules Massenet (using none of the Opera). Original choreography and direction came from Sir Kenneth MacMillian. Here is a quick Cliff Notes, Bodies Never Lie-style- on the plot for those unfamiliar:

Boy sees Girl. Boy fall for Girl. Girl steals random old man’s money and runs away with boy only to be tracked by her often-drunk brother and yet another rich old guy interested in pretty girl. Girl then leaves ditches boy in favor of rich man despite love for boy and tells boy to cheat at cards at upcoming party so that boy wins new rich man’s money. Boy is caught cheating and he and Girl rush away. Rich man has girl arrested as a prostitute and woops, kills newly-minted hooker’s brother. Girl is sent to America with a bunch of other ‘ladies-of-the-night’, followed by Boy. Jailer also falls for girl but is killed by stalker boy. Girl and Boy run off to the Louisiana swamp and girl dies.

Why more companies, aren’t doing this over ‘the Nutcracker’, I will never know. Sounds like a holiday classic to me.

I could watch ABT’s June 2nd evening performance of this masterpiece and it would feel like Christmas every time. The Massenet score is incredibly beautiful, rich, and cinematic and orchestration and arrangement from Martin Yates served the material well. Lighting by Christina Gianelli was masterfully done, creating environments eerie and or intimate that alternated between pockets of shadow and reflected every detailed costume borrowed from Houston Ballet. MacMilan’s original choreography begs litter tampering but it does require phenomenal technical ability from the performers. ABT did not disappoint.

Dancing the male lead of Des Grieux, Roberto Bolle was exquisite in a way that almost seemed feminine, due in turn to both choreography of his solos and finesse of line. His opening solo was a slow adagio, rare for a male variation, and showed less traditional male bravado and more of a gracious, gentle quality through controlled promenades, deep bows to Manon, and held balances. It bordered on a reserved feeling and came off more sweet than seductive. Passion seemed to build through the ballet as the character took darker turns. Throughout the performance, Bolle was a believable character but almost unbelievable in terms of ballet technique. One particular moment of marvel was a dead profile enveloppe in contraction devant with the downstage leg through passe to arabesque releve, repeated three times, each arabesque increasingly slightly in height, extension of the chest towards the sky, and balance. In such a step, there is no room for less than perfect turn out through the passe, the lifting of the leg to the arabesque. Throughout the entire performance, Bolle was nothing less than perfect.

(I’ve clearly been drooling over Bolle for years)

I'm going to pretend that it's me hugging Bolle here.

I’m going to pretend that it’s me hugging Bolle here.

Equally impressive was Daniil Simkin, as Lescaut, showing his famed-technical brilliance along with a wonderful sense of humor during Lescaut’s drunken scenes. How he manages to at one moment jump like a rocket into a cabriole devant almost hit himself in the face with his own leg midair and the next, stumble over his own feet, clumsily partner an oblivious mistress, and fall to the ground is just hilarious. Slap-stick buffoonery is even funnier coming from one of the most gifted dancers on the stage today. I’ve occasionally heard stories of what it was like to watch Baryshnikov during his hey-day, knowing that genius was taking place before your eyes,  and I can only imagine it’s something like watching Simkin.

Simpkin and Abrera

Simpkin and Abrera

The men overall in the performance should be praised. The three gentlemen, danced by Joseph Gorak, Blaine Hoven, and Eric Tamm were wonderful in incredibly difficult turn sequences including double attitude derriere into passe, straight into step-over pirouettes (or lame ducks, or whatever term is popular these days). There were tiny musical differences in a few moments for these three early on- a faille saute arabesque sequence for one-, but they seemed to unify better as the performance went on and then each was stunning individually, even more impressive collectively. ‘Manon’ also has what looks like very tiresome, intricate partnering for the men and everything was seamless. One particular moment was a diagonal downstage with Manon held aloft, diving headfirst towards the stage and swooping back up into the air like a serpent slithering towards prey. Lifts such as swinging held by arms and legs between two men, or Manon’s assemble double tour caught midair, and passed down the line were unusual, not your typical press, and executes with perfection.

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And what of the women? The corps were wonderful, sensual, and lively. The surprising disappointment was in Stella Abrera as Lescaut’s Mistress. While her every step was astounding, it all seemed calculated. There was something of this particular performance that did not seem to reach her eyes or radiate from her soul. There was one moment when Abrera and the female harlot corps were performing a simple balance entournant around a circle and each of the corps women seemed to let their neck relax a bit more, let the head swing, giving the very classroom step a bit of verve. The incredible dancing, double piquee turns in a low extended devant that carried into a fan to high a la second still on releve*, somehow did nothing to bring the story to life, much as it pains me to say so.

More Stella Abrera here (I guess I liked her in this performance, and I’ve always liked her in this add)

Manon herself, danced by Julie Kent, is really, if you think about, an unlikable, selfish, stupid character. However, there was no choice but to love someone so delicate, charming, beautiful. In the first act, there was one moment when Abrera actually was dancing in the center and I thought, ‘is that Manon? No, I just have the feeling I’ll know when it’s Julie Kent’- whom I have been a fan of for years, but have never actually seen perform live. (Watching Center Stage at every sleepover between the ages of twelve and fifteen doesn’t count does it?)

Even McDonalds reminds me of Center Stage. Don’t judge.

Kent did not always hit 180 with her penchee. Her extension, while amazing, was not that of Svetlana. I don’t recall ridiculous amounts of pirouettes. What I recall was sharing the feeling of youthful joy when she bounded post stunning pas de deux onto the bed in act 1, the temptation that came with the heavy necklace placed around her pale throat by Monsieur G.M., the shame when she was imprisoned, and the heartbreak of her death. Her line is just perfect and her feet are so amazingly arched I wonder how she can perform many of the things she did on them- a partnered off-balance coupe turn with one hand for instance. Those feet were always pointed, even when she was being dragged on the ground only to be pushed upright again atop those arched pedestals. In every fiber of her being, she has presence, the awe-inspiring perfect presence of a ballerina, even if the character is a rather despicable one.

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Hard to say if Manon was the ballet I’ve most enjoyed seeing in a very long time because it was danced, staged, lit so excellently or simply for the novelty of it. I may perhaps need to see it again to determine an answer. Would anyone like to buy me a ticket?

* I know that the description of this step makes very little sense. It defies description. I could perhaps attempt to do it and tape it but only if someone prepares a big ice pack for my hamstrings and a warm, soft something for my ego.

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When it is Appropriate to Say to a Dancer, “You’re in Good Shape…Beautiful!”

I know it’s hard to keep up with the gems of eloquence falling from the mouths of our political leaders, especially if they aren’t posted ever-after to Twitter, but have you heard this one?

Trump praised a woman’s body. Foreign minister wonders if she could say the same about him.

The in-shape woman happens to be the wife of the leader of France, introduced to President Trump during a so-called diplomatic meeting. Very professional.

Since it’s pretty tough to decide when to comment on the body of a foreign leader’s spouse, Reebok made this handy flow chart of when this comment is all good.

You're in such good shape beautiful

I don’t think that anyone is surprised by this type of rude remark. However, did you know that there are times when this exact phrase is not only appropriate, but welcome and encouraged?

Bodies Never Lie proudly presents to you a flowchart of when it is ok to say ‘You’re in Good Shape…Beautiful” to a dancer.

You're in Such Good Shape

This sentence is a good thing to say to a student who has achieved a nice line in an arabesque. It works and is welcome when you see a colleague find impressive height in a jump. I will gladly say it to any partner who can get my a$$ of the ground during a lift.

I would say it to anyone in the studio capable of doing this with their impeccably trained, stretched, and strengthened body..

You're in Good Shape...Beautiful

Get your Beach Body- photo via pinterest

You're in Good Shape...Beautiful

Actually, I think these ladies might be in trouble. It’s called traffic! Beautiful shots via Omar Robles

You're in Good Shape...Beautiful

the amazing Micheala dePrince- via pinterest

I might also say it to my computer screen when I come across photos of American Ballet Theatre star, Roberto Bolle, but who’s being sexist now?

You're in Good Shape...Beautiful

Photo via TwittoSpia

5 Reasons To Stay for Curtain Call

Going to the theater to see live dance, music,, plays, etc. takes a lot of effort.

First, you have to figure out what to wear to the theatre. Got your big red ball gown on? Check.

Then you have to consider how to attend a performance. Are you sitting with your head at the correct angle. Double check.

What about after curtain falls? Is there a final bit of etiquette to consider? Why, yes there is. It’s called:

Curtain Call Etiquette. And it’s pretty simple. It goes like this… Clap if you liked it. This is hard to do if you aren’t there when the performers, choreographers, directors, conductors, come out to take their bow.

Here are five reasons to observe proper Curtain Call Etiquette.

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  1. The show isn’t over just because the story is.

Seeing the curtain call provides you the audience member with a chance to see the performer as a person beyond the realm of their character. Are they serious and grandious with their bow, do they gesture to the orchestra, give a flower to their partner, impart a sense of humor? These are all choices made by the artist. If you leave early, you might miss something, like seeing confetti falling on several years of ABT Prima Ballerinas

Julie Kent's farewell performance

Julie Kent’s farewell performance

ABT in Manon 2014- Simkin and Abrera

ABT in Manon 2014- Simkin and Abrera

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ABT Manon Julie Kent and Roberto Bolle

ABT Manon Julie Kent and Roberto Bolle

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ABT Manon

ABT Manon

2. Leaving early means you must have somewhere really important to be very soon.

There are a few times this is acceptable, like if you’re going into labor or the new episode of Game of Thrones is on. Most people leave early because they do not want to get caught in the slow line exiting the theater or face the crowded parking lot. In other words, people that leave early basically think they are more important than all of those other suckers who stay to clap. It’s the theater equivalent of cutting in line. What makes you so special? Not cool at all.

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THe typical Trader Joe's line

The typical Trader Joe’s line

3. Actual face-to-face payment for services rendered. 

When was the last time you actually purchased something from the person who made it? We do so much online, or through the mail. In more simple times, I might have had to go to a carpenter and ask for a table instead of ordering every single piece of furniture in my apartment from an online catalogue to be delivered and putting them together myself with these really helpful instructions.

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I can’t think of the last shop I went into where the sales people had also made the goods for sale except maybe for the UNion Square Farmer’s Market. Talking to the interesting people who grow tomatoes like these is part of the charm of the shopping experience, and gives a greater value to the product itself because I connect it to the labor and life of another person.

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The curtain call is a moment to acknowledge that a living, breathing person (or many people) put effort into whatever you just heard, saw, or felt.  The only other times I can think of that kind of interaction is if a construction worker like the plumber has to come over and fix your darn sink again. And while that service is definitely appreciated, it’s a service of necessity not luxury.

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4.Stretch and exercise.

If you’ve just attended a concert or performance, you’ve probably been sitting down for a while. Getting up and running out of the theatre as fast as you can is dangerous for your health. You might get a cramp. Giving a rousing standing ovation offers a chance for blood-flow to return to your muscles before beginning to move again.

A nice gentle stretch! (lephysique.com)

A nice gentle stretch! (lephysique.com)

5. Your appreciation is appreciated!

I can’t speak for all of the art forms, but dancers don’t usually make a lot of money. For me, the best performances were the ones where I felt a personal sense of fulfillment, was happy with my effort, felt that those efforts reached people. The only way I can know about the latter is through the curtain call. Or maybe a knowledgeable review but those don’t exist in many places do they? Money is of course important and necessary to live. However, ask ten dancers did they choose dancing as a profession and I’ll bet not one is going to say, ‘the money’. If the relationship between audience and performer is built upon give-and-take, it’s easy to think that paying money for a ticket is your way of giving. And that is correct and very much appreciated. But at least for me, real fulfillment from a show after I’ve given everything I had to give, came through my own sense of purpose and what I perceive as the audience reaction. Seeing bodies fleeing up the aisle before a curtsey honestly hurts a little

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Bonus obvious reason: it’s called respect. I don’t think I really have to explain this one.

Go forth and applaud!

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Baryshnikov in Hollywood, Jess in NYC

Today was Graduate School Orientation for NYU students in the Dance Education program…or was it, the dance education department in the Music and Performing Arts Program? They told us to think of it like Russian Nesting Dolls (like these funny little Matryoshka?) but I, and the four 2nd years present I might add, forgot how they nest.

I got to meet my classmates, all ONE of them where males are concerned, and the faculty who seem wonderful. And then, we went uptown to the ABT building for a tour and to see all of their glorious studios. The company is away, touring in Paris at the moment, so it was quiet. This also meant we were allowed to see the private company spaces. Guess what color the ABT company lounge couches are: yellow, green, red? See below for the answer.

I start classes on Tuesday, and the mornings kick off with an hour and a half ballet technique class followed by lecture/discussion of curriculum, etc. with Sascha Radetsky- former star of ABT, graduate  student of the JKO School, model in the best Capezio add to date, and heart throb of the beloved cult classic, Center Stage. Yes, he was on the tour with us today.Yes, I had that Capezio add featuring Professor Radetsky and wife, Stella Abrera also of ABT, plastered on my dorm room wall at Interlochen Arts Aademy. You can see it if you look to the left of the bright pink Fosse poster. Was I cool or what?

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I wish I could have told myself then, taping that ripped out page of Dance Magazine to my wall o’ inspiration, that I would be taking class from him. I cannot wait to see what his class is like, and how much I will learn from it. You never know who your teachers will be.

Oh good, I love taking class from a guy with better feet than me (image via Listal.com)

Oh good, I love taking class from a guy with better feet than me
(image via Listal.com)

With that, I leave you with another great idol in this rare video footage of Gene Wilder learning dance steps from Baryshnikov. Who is the great idol- the teacher or the student? The dancer or the comedian? You choose. As Gene says about 1 minute in, ‘I’ve got it!’

About those couches (yes, the ones I was sorely tempted to sit on just to say that my butt has been where Roberto Bolle’s but has been)….if you guess that they are green, you are correct! Would I mention it if they were anything else?…probably.

A Cartoon Strip (tease): Tutu Trucks

The Dream Job= doing professionally what you do in your spare time anyways

Dog-Walker

Dog-Walker

Meteorologist

Meteorologist

Bouncer

Bouncer

Professionally Ridiculous

Professionally Ridiculous

I”m honored to say that my doodling skills have landed me a spot as a contributing Illustrator for The Bunion (the Dance-inspired version of ‘The Onion’)

My first cartoon begs the question,

Could the dance industry jumo on the food truck bandwagon and serve up ballet to lines of hungry culture-vultures on the street? Who would sell out the quickest?

excerpt from my cartoon- 5 points to whoever can guess the dancer in this illustration

excerpt from my cartoon- 5 points to whoever can guess the dancer in this illustration

Check it out by clicking here. (There’s the tease I mentioned, sorry!)

Just be glad that I didn’t draw in detail my first idea; a Roberto Bolle, Marcelo Gomez, me sandwich -me in the middle, obviously.

 

Gymnastics Vs. Dance

Thanks to a summer filled with 200+ kids in beginner dance and music camps, intensives, lectures, and demonstrations I have absolutely seen my fill of that hideous gymnastics trick, the chinstand. I’ve also therefore, seen my fill of little girl underwear since they do these backbreakers regardless of the fact that they’re usually outfitted in crocks and a dress.

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It’s always interesting to be able to observe kids and their behaviors, who comes from what kind of school, how certain structures affect their ability to function independently or in a group, and of course, parents. I always learn so much about what NOT to do to/with kids during the summer.

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This year I noticed a new trend in the little gymnast kiddos that have come to learn to sing and dance.I had one student that really stands out to me-my little ‘Shawn Johnson’ came eager to lean, attentive, and oh-so-flexible. She was probably the only one in class that enjoyed the stretch portion, the part where I made them do the plank or push-ups. I looked at this little capable body that was constantly mid-cartwheel, backwalk-over, or doing a full split and thought to myself, ‘hooray! A star is born!’ And that was when I realized…

A stretched-out hamstring does not a coordinated, musical person make. A spine that is capable of bending in weird ways does not mean the mind will be any quicker in picking up footwork for steps, say..like the grapevine -or other steps your average clumsy uncle at a wedding can accomplish that are for some reason, hard for these little bendy straws to grasp.

I also noticed that my students with experience in gymnastics couldn’t help themselves from constantly showing their tricks; splits, flashy jumps, and yes, those dreaded chinstands. These flashes of brilliance would erupt out of nowhere and quickly retreat away into an awkward body struggling to stomp on the beat. They wanted to do these amazing things over and over and then weren’t any better at picking up basic dance steps.

I will say that the gymnasts usually had better focus in learning the dances, loved the idea of being in the front, and seemed to enjoy challenges more than the non-gymnast kids. By the end, they usually ‘got it’ the best, probably because they were the most determined to make their bodies do what I asked.

And vice-versa, young kids that take serious and quality dance lessons are not necessarily flexible. They are focusing on learning positions, technique, posture, grace, spacing, blocking. in the early stages. Their heads are so filled with these specific ways of holding the body that they seem to forget that dance, and ballet in particular, is supposed to be more than correct, supposed to be physically dazzling. If I were a bird, you would know me in the wild by my bird call, ‘higher leg! higher leg!‘ or perhaps, ‘dance like you love it..‘ because I so often see the concentration on their faces which is ok for gymnastics and not at all ok in dance.

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Nina Ananiashvili as Odette in ABT’s Swan Lake/ David Hallberg as the Prince in ABT’s Cinderella- images from Nancy Ellison’s ‘In Classic Style’

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It seems to me that gymnastics and dance do indeed help each other, but mostly by complementing each other’s missing parts. Gymnastics seems to teach fearlessness while dance teaches organization. Gymnastics teaches big wow moments while dance (early on) teaches many steps and positions that must be memorized in particular spaces set to music. Both teach balance and athleticism, determination, and body control.

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the stunning Herman Cornejo in ABT’s ‘The Dream’

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If I’m honest, I don’t much recall my gymnastics lessons at a kid. I remember what we did, oh sure. But I don’t remember what I was feeling, besides rushes of adrenaline and the strong desire to ditch the barres and beam and jump on the trampoline. I remember feeling proud of what I could do, if I mastered a new flippy-thing. (I did seem to like the acrobatics from this review of mine translated into Chinese)

What I remember from ballet lessons, early on, was the sense music and performance, of being a different character that changed between a sharp frappe at the barre to a graceful adagio in the center. I of course remember if a teacher praised execution or if I learned a new step but for me, dance was always more of a wholistic experience. I could sink my entire being, my body imagination soul into dance in a way that I personally never did with gymnastics. I think this is the truest difference that I see in gymnastics and dance done at their highest level:

In gymnastics, I see the emotions of fear, determination, pride- all things that cannot occur without deep love that somehow does not resonate in the physicality of the sport. What I see is physical spectacle.

In dance, I see the performance, while the fear, determination, pride embedded within the physicality are hidden- the emotional, mental, and physical tools used to accomplish the steps are dressed up as if it’s just who this character or performer is. Effort is shown for the sake of tone or message, not for simple exertion.

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Roberto Bolle and Alessandra Ferri in ABT’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’

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These two forms don’t seem to be mutually exclusive but also don’t seem to help each other in early training as much as I would have originally thought.

The Annual Valentine’s Day List of Love

Happy Valentine’s Day all you heartbreakers!

I hope everyone indulges in some good company, unnecessary sugar, and a healthy dose of fantasy. Here’s some of mine:

The Top Men I would like to dance withand the top 10 dances I’d like to do with them:

1. ‘La Spectre De La Rose’– I will be the young girl and the current ABC BAchelor, Ben, will be the Dancing Rose. Basically, I will sit back and sleep while he flails about in a unitard and women’s bathing cap. Then he will make his ‘Jessica, I just can’t give you a rose this evening’ speech before jumping out the window. Don’t let it hit you on the way out my little flower basket.

2. This pas de deux from ‘Still Life at the Penguin Cafe’- I will be the lady with the lion head and will dance with the only person chipper and dapper enough to pull this off- the guy that plays Kenneth on 30 Rock. Rawr! – I would also pay every cent I own to have someone do the following variation for me. Now that’s a true Chippendale! ( I can really see my friend Nick Nolan doing this one)

3. I do not have footage of this- but the Dracula pas de deux between Mina and Dracula by Ballet Met Columbus is absolutely one of the most gorgeous things I’ve ever seen- it’s eerie, dangerous, controlling, passionate…so I could only do this dance with someone who embraces all of those qualities: the one and only, Gollum. Or Stephen Colbert.

4. I loves a bad boy, a guy that can’t be tamed, can’t be caged, those slippery son-of-a-guns who end up doing things their own way. THat’s right, I want to do this dance of love with the snake that escaped from the Bronx Zoo. I’m a slave..for snakesin.Also the Bad Boys of Ballet, particularly Shame Ohmer are welcome. The ‘Mayhem’ actor from those all-state insurance ads can understudy (but only if he wears the ‘hot babe out jogging’ sweat band- ersatz  hot Britney from 10 years ago)

5. Now I know I said that Daniel Radcliffe, admittedly drunk Harry Potter, would not make the list this year but I found the perfect dance for us. Enter in Twyla Tharp and the drunken duet ,‘One for My Baby’ in Sinatra Songs. (I couldn’t find a clip of the whole pas so enjoy this little demo from Miami City Ballet. In all honesty, I could do any of these and be a happy chocolate-covered harlot)

6.I want to be the star of ‘Bolero’ (THIS  Maurice Bejart version, NOT the version with that Richard Simmons tranny) My entourage can be the New York occupy Wall Street Movers-and-shakers. If they look and dance anything like most of the fellars in this video, I want to be the solitary girl. That is a 1% I’m ok with being. (Do not watch if you are bothered by fit, sweaty people. Hot and bothered, by all means)

7. The letter scene pas de deux in Eugene Onegin– the lifts are absolutely amazing. I love how he just throws her around. Wow, this is what you get from writing a letter? Man, communication is a lot nicer in ballet. I clearly need to learn this with the master of eloquent exchanges from man to woman- Anthony Weiner.

8. Butterfly Ballet pas de deux– I have a friend/ fellow teacher at COCA who teaches many things including circus art. We were chit-chatting last week and somehow the conversation turned into ‘No, its not hard, just stand on my head Jess!’ And I tried. I got one foot on that big buzzed platform before I went tumbling 6 feet to the ground, in front of the parents of many of my students, curled up like a beetle moaning about a doctor bill. Therefore when I do this pas, I need the biggest, flattest head on any person in the universe: Channing Tatum, Eddie Murphy, and Tyra are all options. Also Jay Leno’s face. And I want Grape lady and Scarlette (takes a tumble) there to catch me if I look like I might fall. They know how it feels.

9. It would be blasphemy to include a dancing Vday list without mentioning ‘Petite Mort’. The name itself means ‘little death’ aka- orgasm. And this choreography is nothing short of one. Especially if I could learn it with any of my favorite dancing partners from real life; Kevin Wiltz, Tim June, Toby (tubby!),

me and Kevin Wiltz- my dear friend and true love

or imaginary partners, Roberto Bolle (ABT), richard Armitage, Sean Bean (back off Emily!) or Ricky Gervais.

10. And this one- the pas de deux from ‘An American in Paris’ done by Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron. Who would I want to dance this with? Well, some people don’t kiss and tell. Or in this case, dance and tell. 😉

Dancing on the Front Porch of Heaven

Supposedly, the day of judgement is upon us. I’m not all that concerned.

I had a conversation with a couple of friends about the upcoming Apocalypse, and if I were to build myself a ‘Panic Room’ shelter somewhere, where would I put it? I said Borders. I personally could never be bored with eternity if I had all the time in the world to read and listen to music. PLus I wouldn’t have to deal with the terrible barista that constantly puts my coffee in the wrong size cup.

Another part of the question was ‘who are the five people you would want with you?’

I found that part really hard to answer- I guess I could leave it up to Mitch Albom and his silly ‘The five people you meet in Heaven‘- but I’m not taking life advice from a sports writer. Besides, this is, ‘the five people in my apocalypse borders bomb shelter’. Heaven can wait.

If I were to only have people int he dance world, I think I would want a mix of people I already knew and some I didn’t- there would be opportunities to reminisce with loved ones and you could fill some of the endless time with that horrible ‘getting to know someone’ process.

A few names that pop into my head are: Christy Corbitt Miller from Louisville Ballet Company and Julie Cobble from Roxey Ballet- they are the nicest, most fun, and always inspiring people you could ever spend the remainder of your life in a bookstore with. For intellectual purposes, my old friend Stirling Matheson, currently with Maryland Theatre Ballet, would be a good one for lengthy philosophical discussions. He’s probably a packaged deal with his wife, Sabrina- also of Maryland Theatre Ballet- but I’m ok with that. And obviously, Roberto Bolle from ABT is invited. I don’t THINK he’s dumb as rocks, but even if he is, I’m also ok with that.

Other people who I don’t know that I might invite are –Mark Morris– notoriously both rude and genius choreographer. It would be nice for me not to be the worst-mannered person left on earth. Bob Fosse– he is fascinating and perverted, just my type of person. And one of my favorite choreographers, the late Ulysses Dove. I have a DVD of Alvin Ailey performing ‘Episodes’ which he choreographed and introduces and the work is brilliant enough, but he is also incredibly articulate and seems like a pretty deep-thinker. There is reason behind the movement, the lighting, and a lot of it is personal and drawn from his life.

Anyways, if the world ends today this whole discussion is moot point. And If I only get to meet 5 people in Heaven, I still hope that Ulysses Dove is one of them. He will take my hand and lead me past the pearly gates into a studio where he will teach  me the choreography from his work, ‘Dancing on the Front Porch of Heaven’. I will learn the section done by the two males with my good friend Kevin Wiltz (I know it’s done by men, but I don’t find it gender specific).

In Heaven, I never mess up and everyone claps at the end.

Too bad I’ve been a brat my whole life and I’ll probably not be ‘On the list’ with Saint Peter, and I’ll probably spend eternity being a backup dancer at a Branson-like Rodeo show where I wear a ten gallon sequined hat and the whole place smells like pork chops. Oh dear end-of-the-world theorists, let me not be judged!