The Corps de Ballet Confessional…

corps de ballet

You were the best one at your local school, and then you went to a professional school, and you basically kicked ass. Teachers fawned over you. You excelled in the curriculum, and you knew. You knew that one day you would get your company contract. You land your apprenticeship and then get your corps contract. Ten years later, you are standing on stage in B plus, on the side of the stage in a beautiful white tutu. Yup. All of that hard work, all of those hours, killing yourself over and over again. Learning every part, understudying every principal role, and finally… You wonder, “What was the point?” The greatest role you ever did was some random pas de trois in a matinee showing. You might have done Spanish or Chinese in the Nutcracker. If you are lucky you did Marzipan and Dew Drop for a matinee… So, what was the point?

Working in the corps makes life difficult. Every time a season is about to close you are questioning if you will have your contract renewed. Then you are questioning yourself at the beginning of the season, wondering who they have hired? Who is the next hot shot of talent coming up? You start to question yourself as an artist, and you feel completely unchallenged. You have danced the repertory twice and then some. You know every girl part in Nutcracker and have probably danced in every role. Yup, this is the life of a corps de ballet member. You start to think about your sixteen-year-old self, the person who wanted it so badly. Who anticipated the moment you got to step onto a stage. The person who excelled and wanted every moment of ballet… Where did that person go?

Life in the Corps de Ballet is hard, and they are probably the most under appreciated position in a ballet company…. So now… I am honoring the amazing talent in the corps de ballet of ballet companies. Without the corps there isn’t a flock of swans behind Odette, and there aren’t any Shades in Bayadere… It would just be Solar smoking some opium for giggles. lol. So, what is it like to have the job a million girls would kill for? Get ready for our #corpsdeballetconfessional series. A series of posts dedicated to the corps de ballet, mostly interviews with working ballet dancers.

If you are interested in being interviewed for these installments write me aballeteducation@gmail.com

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Check out this video from AOL originals narrated by Sarah Jessica Parker!

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The Craziness that is Giselle

Most ballets can be summed up in one word.

Swan Lake: Dramatic

Corsaire: Pirates

La Bayadere: Sexy

Nutcracker: Whimsical

and then there is Giselle: Tragedy.

Giselle is the ultimate tragedy. It is the ballet of a love scorn woman and the fiery that comes to haunt cheating men. The story of Giselle is summed up in two short sweet acts that showcase a ballerina in all her glory. In Act 1 Giselle comes out as a wide eyed, beautiful and naive girl. By the end of Act 1 she is going crazy, which in this scene, it will make or break the performance. Yes, we all care about the ballerina’s hops on pointe in her first act variation, and we live for her extensions in the second act, but we really just care about her mad scene. Then in second act, she is revealed as a willie, and is now just an afterthought. As second act progresses, it is more womanly, and in control. The ballerina dancing must now be spirit like, floating across the stage, mournful in the beginning, angered by Alberecht’s visit, and then sorrowful to his downfall. Yup, a whole lot going on for such a short performance. It is crazy to think of how we have compacted it, but if Giselle was any longer it would be boring.

So, here are 5 things that make a good Giselle:

  1. Don’t over do it. That painful face is painful to watch.
  2. Please have good feet, and high extensions, because if you don’t… second act isn’t really that great.
  3. When going mad, make sure your hair looks good down. Sometimes, it looks like it is still wet from hair spray, or it doesn’t come undone well. Please practice. If your hair is thin, use extensions. Hair should not be dead.
  4. Make sure your bourres are seamless in the second act entrance. There is nothing more exhausting to watch than bad bourres.
  5. Don’t look constipated in second act.

In retrospect, Giselle is really easy to mess up.

Alessandra Ferri, this ballet just might truly belong to you….