Feature: Ballet / Ballet - Adult Dancers

Get the Pointe #41: Special Adult Dancers Issue Featuring DDNer - pols (karma: 3)
By smileywomanmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Sat Sep 22, 2012 09:12 AM
Edited by smileywoman (141214) on 2012-09-22 09:15:01 ..
Edited by smileywoman (141214) on 2012-09-22 09:16:05 ...
Edited by webdeadmaster (251) on 2012-09-23 09:22:50 Make feature

Get the Pointe #41: Special Issue – Adult Dancers
By Maria aka smileywoman a 50+ ballet dancer and long time DDN member.

DDNer – pols
pols is a 26-year-old dancer who has been dancing seriously since she was nine years old.


BEGINNING

QUESTION: What was the spark that keyed your interest in dance, and where / when did you begin to study?
ANSWER: I actually began dancing because I had just moved primary schools and my mother was looking for after-school activities for me. There was an Irish Dancing class in my school hall on Tuesday afternoons and it all started from there. I wasn't very keen beforehand but it only took one class for me to know that I would be dancing for the rest of my life.


QUESTION: Were you a "natural"?
ANSWER: At Irish, no! I was surprised to find that I am much more suited to ballet. I had to fight every step of the way to get to championships in Irish. Ballet was never a fight like that.


QUESTION: Have you danced all along? Or did you start / stop / re-start like many of us adult dancers?
ANSWER: I stopped dancing in year 12 due to school commitments. It took a few years for me to start again because I honestly believed that I was too old and that I would never make anything of myself. It wasn't until I started dancing again at the age of 20 that I realised I am much better off dancing just because I love it, not because I have to 'get' anywhere with it.

…I am much better off dancing just because I love it, not because I have to 'get' anywhere with it.


QUESTION: Has ballet continued to be a lifelong passion?
ANSWER: Absolutely. I live and breathe ballet.


ROUTINE

QUESTION: What motivates you at 8 a.m. on a Monday morning?
ANSWER: Not much! I don't have ballet on Monday. Tuesday morning is my first class of the week and it is really important for me to get to class because I work a night shift afterwards and it sets the tone for my day. I find my work life a lot more enjoyable if I dance beforehand.


QUESTION: What is your daily routine?
ANSWER: I work two jobs so this routine changes a bit depending on work. If I'm not teaching, then my week is:

Monday - work 3pm to 10:15pm
Tuesday - ballet 11am to 1pm, then work 3pm to 10:15pm
Wednesday - ballet 11am to 1:30pm, then work 3pm to 10:15pm
Thursday/Friday (I go on one of these days, not both usually) - ballet 11am to 1:30pm
Saturday - ballet 3pm to 5:30pm
Sunday - off

If I'm teaching, then there's no ballet on that day. I usually get called up the night before or the morning off if I'm needed to teach.



QUESTION: Ballet is a never ending quest for perfection. What parts of your technique are you most satisfied with? What parts are you least satisfied with and how do you work on your technique to improve it?
ANSWER: It's very hard to think of things I'm satisfied with because I’m a perfectionist. I believe I have a very good ear for timing and musicality so that helps with most things. I have good placement and extensions but they can always be better. My main problems are with turning. I am trying to work on my shoulders (I hold stress in my shoulders) and keeping my neck long when turning.


QUESTION: Do you workout in a gym? Or have other forms of exercise/condition besides ballet?
ANSWER: No. I used to be a bit of a gym addict. I'd be there at least five days a week working on cardio and weights. I'd also run every morning. All I did was exhaust my body, get stress fractures, and put on muscle that I didn't want or need. Now I let ballet be my conditioning. I really believe that if you work hard in class and go often enough, your body gets everything it needs to dance well.


QUESTION: How do you prepare your pointe shoes?
ANSWER: I'm currently using Gaynors so all I need to do is sew them and they're ready to go. In my Blochs I used to step on the toes and rip out the toe foam.

QUESTION: Do you have a ‘signature step’ – one that comes naturally to you?
ANSWER: Développés and extensions a la secondé.


INFLUENCES

QUESTION: Do you dance any other style other than ballet? If so, how does the other dance discipline influence your ballet dancing? [Please elaborate on type, differences, why you do?
ANSWER: I used to do Irish. I don't do it anymore but it has had a lasting effect on my dancing. Notably, I have to watch overcrossing. On the other hand, exercises like frappés and musicality in general come easily to me.


PERFORMANCE

QUESTION: When did you go onstage for the first time? Can you tell us about it?
ANSWER: I can't remember. It could have been dancing at the nursing home. I was so excited and we got to talk to all the lovely oldies afterwards. They kept telling us how wonderful we were even though we were terrible. I was very proud to be all dressed up. I think I had a ribbon in my hair.


QUESTION: What roles have you danced and what are your favorite roles? Why?
ANSWER: Although I have never performed them, my favourite variations are definitely from Swan Lake.


QUESTION: Was there a role that you danced or will dance this year that you are looking forward to?
ANSWER: No. I’m not performing at all these days.


QUESTION: What thoughts or feelings do you have when you perform?
ANSWER: I feel sick in the stomach and then I imagine myself as a character. I'm playing a part and I'm the part of this wonderful, emotive, beautiful dancer. Everything is in its place and I'm just going to fly. If I believe that before I go on I'm fine.


QUESTION: What does your warm-up consist of before a performance? Other preparations?
ANSWER: Coffee, banana, cigarette, stretch, drink water, and then get into the right headspace (as above).


QUESTION: Can you remember a funny story, blunder, something that happened to you in the middle of a performance that you’d like to share with our readers?
ANSWER: At a dancing competition an announcement had just been made for total silence. I was walking back from having danced and was going back to my seat. A split second after the announcement, when everyone in the auditorium was completely still and silent, I slipped over. I fell heavily and grabbed the nearest chair to steady myself. I ended up pulling down an entire row of chairs with a gigantic crash. When I looked up from the floor not only were my underpants on full display but everybody in the room was staring straight at me.


QUESTION: Most dance pieces are with other dancers. Have you done solos, and if so do you have to change your technique when you are on stage alone?
ANSWER: With solos I find two things. The first is not to get so carried away with the music that you lose yourself because no-one is there to remind you of where you’re up to. The second is where your eyes go. For some reason I find that I look down much more when dancing solo. Looking out into an audience that you can barely see with emptiness all around you can be really hard. You have to own that space. I try to think of the space as my partner.

Looking out into an audience that you can barely see with emptiness all around you can be really hard. You have to own that space. I try to think of the space as my partner.



QUESTION: What kind of dance do you respond to most strongly now?
ANSWER: Classical ballet. Simplicity and emotional honesty speak much more to me than they used to.


QUESTION: How do you think ballet (uniquely) communicate as an art?
ANSWER: I think it is something to do with the juxtaposition between the incredible complexity of ballet and yet its simplicity as a form of expression. I don’t know that I can articulate it properly but somewhere in that juxtaposition there is a beauty that is very human and just...honest. I think that’s why people respond to ballet even when they’ve never danced. The uniqueness, I would say, comes from the subtle and restrained way that ballet presents itself to you. Even in the most melodramatic part, the beauty is understated and quiet.

the juxtaposition between the incredible complexity of ballet and yet its simplicity as a form of expression. I don’t know that I can articulate it properly but somewhere in that juxtaposition there is a beauty that is very human and just...honest. I think that’s why people respond to ballet even when they’ve never danced. The uniqueness, I would say, comes from the subtle and restrained way that ballet presents itself to you. Even in the most melodramatic part, the beauty is understated and quiet.

This is smileywoman’s favorite answer in the entire interview! :D

QUESTION: What professional dancer would you most like to dance with (why? ) and what would you dance?
ANSWER: Baryshnikov. I find him mesmerising. His energy and intensity blows me away. I don’t think I’d care what we were dancing!


QUESTION: If you could dance anywhere in the world (not only in a theatre), where would you dance?
ANSWER: I’d love to dance somewhere completely silent. I don’t know where that is.


INSPIRATION

QUESTION: Who inspired you to dance?
ANSWER: I don’t really know. The other dancers in my life, I guess. I grew up dancing with some amazingly talented people.


QUESTION: Who are the three people in dance that have inspired you most?
ANSWER: Sylvie Guillem for her grace, Matthew Bourne for his vision, Baryshnikov for his passion.


QUESTION: What has been the high point of your ‘career’ as a dancer, so far?
ANSWER: I don’t know. I keep thinking of the little things. One of the best moments that I keep returning to is when we were running through an adage combination for the first time and my teacher told me (and the class) “That was absolutely beautiful.” I don’t think I would have felt that good even if I’d just been accepted into POB.


QUESTION: What is your best piece of advice?
ANSWER: There’s nothing wrong with having a bad class. It’s okay.


CHALLENGES

QUESTION: Can you tell me about any challenges that you have faced as an older dancer and what you have done to overcome them?
ANSWER: This is a boring answer but it’s the truth. Physical limitations are my major challenges. I have an ongoing back injury. I am currently seeing a specialist about it and continuing to dance at the same time. I have to watch that I don't get too excited and overdo it in class and I am learning to let myself have a day off from dancing if my back is too sore.


FUTURE

QUESTION: What is your feeling/thinking about your future as an adult ballet dancer? [Goals? Retiring? etc.
ANSWER: I will keep dancing for as long as I can. As long as my body allows me to, I will be in class. I would love for my friends and family to see me dance again one day. That’s a goal, although I don’t know how yet. One day, I think I would like to teach dance. Maybe once I’ve retired from my ‘career’ job.


QUESTION: How do you see the future of the world of dance?
ANSWER: I suspect there will be even more fusion of dance styles and a focus on athleticism and ‘tricks’. I think people will eventually get sick of that and at some point there will be a reversion to more traditional aspects of dance as an art (rather than a competitive sport). I see ballet as less foundational to a dance career in the future, but I don’t think it’s going anywhere as an art form.


QUESTION: Are there changes you would like to make or that you see happening?
ANSWER: I would dearly love to see strong technique have preference over showy dancing. At the moment, that’s pretty hit-and-miss. I would love to wave a magic wand and shut up the entire dance world about dancers’ weight and that includes dancers, companies, nutritionists, everyone. When will we all get over ourselves?

I would dearly love to see strong technique have preference over showy dancing.



QUESTION: What advice do you have for younger dancers?
ANSWER: You would be surprised how few people are judging you or care what you do. Dance because it’s your love, not to impress anyone or achieve anything. Achievements are nice but the only person you should be satisfying is you.

Dance because it’s your love, not to impress anyone or achieve anything. Achievements are nice but the only person you should be satisfying is you.



FOR FUN

QUESTION: If you were asked to design your own ballet costume, what would you create?
ANSWER: I want a purely black costume, no sleeves, with a halter-neck top and a short, dropped-waist tutu. Flattering, functional and a chance to get to wear a tutu. Perfection.


QUESTION: You can ask six famous people to dinner - who would you invite and why?
ANSWER:
1)Virginia Woolf. There’s so much I want to talk to her about.
2)Emma Thompson. She’s hilarious and genuine and seems like someone who would just be so much fun. I’d like to hear what she has to say to Virginia Woolf too.
3)Maggie Smith. She seems very quick-witted in interviews and has my sense of humour.
. . . This is really hard. I’m sitting here trying to think of who else I want and I’m failing dismally.



QUESTION: What would surprise people about you?
ANSWER: You guys know most of the secrets I have in life. It’s easy to be honest online. I guess one thing that might surprise you is that I have never lit a match in my life. I’m terrified of them.

QUESTION: How do you feel about being interviewed for this special issue of Get the Pointe?
ANSWER: Incredibly nervous. Sometimes I feel like such a fraud on DDN, even though everything I say about myself is the truth. It’s just that there are clearly some amazing dancers on our boards and I worry that I’m not a ‘real’ dancer. Doing this interview is a chance for me to prove to myself that I belong on these boards as much as anybody.

… there are clearly some amazing dancers on our boards and I worry that I’m not a ‘real’ dancer. Doing this interview is a chance for me to prove to myself that I belong on these boards as much as anybody.


Editor’s Note: I think that everyone would agree with Smileywoman after reading pols interview that she is indeed a real dancer. Her passion and love for dance are very clear. Keep dancing pols, and thank you for the chance to be a part of a great interview! :)

5 Replies to Get the Pointe #41: Special Adult Dancers Issue Featuring DDNer - pols

re: Get the Pointe #41: Special Adult Dancers Issue Featuring DDNer - pols
By pols
On Mon Sep 24, 2012 04:55 AM
Just want to say a BIG thank you to Maria for going to all this effort for us on DDN. It's a privilege to be your interview subject.

And an extra thank you for the 'real dancer' comment. That made my day (and it's my birthday!).
re: Get the Pointe #41: Special Adult Dancers Issue Featuring DDNer - pols
By Attitude1407
On Mon Oct 08, 2012 02:13 AM
I loved the interview and the chance to get to know you better, Pols! :) Belated Happy Birthday wishes!! :)
re: Get the Pointe #41: Special Adult Dancers Issue Featuring DDNer - pols
By dancer7210
On Mon Oct 08, 2012 03:03 AM
Awesome issue! I was wondering, when are you going to get back to regular "Get the Pointe" issues? I mean like not only adult ones? And I would love to thank you for taking time to do this for DDN!
re: Get the Pointe #41: Special Adult Dancers Issue Featuring DDNer - pols
By hummingbird
On Mon Oct 08, 2012 04:57 AM
Thank you to both of you for the interview, it's a very interesting read.
re: Get the Pointe #41: Special Adult Dancers Issue Featuring DDNer - pols
By Dancerat50member has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Fri Oct 19, 2012 03:45 PM
That was so enjoyable. Pols, you are a real dancer! You have the heart and soul to prove it and don't you ever let anyone tell you otherwise. Maria, thank you for taking the time to publish this excellent interview. You give us so much and I for one am truly grateful. Have a wonderful day ladies and happy belated birthday Pols.

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