Charlotte Stabenau's blog

There are some performances you feel like you could see over and over again, because the dancers made such a huge impression on you. You remember every moment, every movement. That’s how I feel about a video of Natalia Makarova performing the White Swan pas de deux from the second act of Swan Lake, that I watched for the first time a couple of days ago.

 

I hate adagio. Not because I don’t like to move slowly and elegantly to the beautiful and stately music that usually accompanies this exercise, but because I don’t have very high extension. I love taking class, but I usually hit a low point (no pun intended), at the end of barre and the beginning of center, when I know I’ll have to do some disappointing developpes. I try to stay positive and visualize a beautiful, high, correct extension to help me make the effort, but the reality is, my legs usually don’t make it to where I’d like them to go.

 

Evening classes have always been tricky for me. After 5:30, I can’t seem to muster the energy to dance that is so easy for me to access in the morning, and it can be really hard to get through class. It happened to me on Monday evening. I was already tired before class even started, and about halfway through barre, I even felt my eyes getting heavy. I thought about leaving before center, then during center, and before big jumps, but forced myself to keep going.

Pirouettes! En Pointe!

 

There’s nothing about ballet that isn’t personal. Everyone has a favorite way to warm up, a favorite teacher, a favorite time to take class, etc. After talking to a friend of mine before class last night, though, I really think that nothing is more personal than what we wear to class.

 

On Monday and Tuesday, I was lucky enough to film two rehearsals for Avi Scher & Dancers, a company headed by Avi Scher, an emerging young choreographer in New York City. I was especially excited because I would be filming Sara Mearns (a principal at NYCB) and Marcelo Gomes (a principal at ABT) rehearsing together for Utopia Variations, as well as Christian Tworzyanski, who’s in the corps at NYCB and Abi Stafford, who is a principal there, dancing in Inner Voice.

This week, I was lucky enough to be able to take a class taught by Susan Jaffe, a former principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre.  I wasn’t really sure what to expect, since I’ve taken class with famous dancers before, and been very disappointed by how little of their own sense of artistry they communicated to the students.  Sometimes, although they are or were great dancers themselves, they were at a loss about how to really teach a student to do something that came so naturally, and beautifully, to them.

 

The other day, I was talking with my favorite teacher, Marisa, about a video of Suzanne Farrell that I have.  We both agreed that although she may not have been the most perfect technician compared to today’s powerhouse dancers, she had something that is very rare: an innate understanding and response to music.  Even on video, you can tell that she internalizes each musical phrase she dances to, so that she’s almost dancing in the music instead of to the music.

I’ve never been a very patient person or dancer, and this has always been reflected in the kinds of classes I like to take.  I prefer a pretty fast class in which the barre just flies by so that I can get to center and really dance.  I love petit allegro, too—the faster, the better, and since I hate doing adagio, I prefer to get it over with quickly.  I enjoy a speedy and difficult class, and when I’m enjoying myself, I feel better about my dancing.  However, I’ve recently started taking a slower class twice a week, and

           In one of my former lives, I worked in a little suburban dance boutique.  One of the things we specialized in was fitting pointe shoes, and after learning the process, it became one of my favorite things to do.  I especially enjoyed fitting the young girls that came in for their first pair of shoes, with their proud mothers in tow.  These girls were always so excited to go on pointe, and their anticipation as they answered my questions about their feet and their training was al