Oregon Ballet Theater hosted a free ballet course tonight. For the first time in years, maybe the first time since I've volunteered in the venue, I was in the Newmark Theater at the Portland Center for Performing Arts, in different socks than usual. Little socks. Ballet socks. Not in pointe shoes. My feet may have rebelled at those.
People, including good friends, have been surprised in the past to learn I appreciate ballet. I like the power and grace of it. It takes strength. I've also found quite many ballet dancers, and dancers in general, damn, damn attractive. (It's not an ulterior motive if I mention it!) I can always see more of it. Why not try doing it? Sore parts of my body are telling me why, but that's needed.
I can always move better, and move more flowing-ly. I already do, to an extent, but after a full day of office-monkey work, stretching is smart.
To the Newmark stage came over two dozen of us, kids to adults, quite a few of the adults being members of the Cascadia.fm collective of internet radio broadcasters: grand pooh-bah Robert Wagner of Suck It, his co-host and lead button-pusher (and host of other shows as well) Sabrina Miller, even Cort and Fatboy (Cort with his oldest kid also on stage). Several Timbers Army members were there, too. More typically, there were young girls. OBT employees, the non-dancing people, were also there.
Retired OBT dancer Gavin Larsen, lithe (of course) and ripped (of course) and both gladdened and amused by all these amateur and not-even-amateur dancers showing up, led us through stretches and practices. Actually, maybe the hardest thing for me happened almost right away: sitting with my hands behind me, trying to touch the back of my wrists to the back of my rump, fingers close to flat on the stage. Larsen, having done this long enough that she's retired from it, was doing it no problem. (Those arms. Impressive.) She told us and showed us how important posture is to ballet: it can be the difference between being able to be pushed over and not being able to be pushed over, and as falling over is bad in ballet she wanted to be sure we didn't. At one point she tried pushing me. I was standing correctly, and only barely jiggled. I passed that test. Strength!
We moved our bodies in ways we're not used to, and were amused by it. It felt good. We pointed our feet. We mostly only bent our knees when Larsen told us. I managed to turn on my heels in a ballet way, propelling myself with one leg. I've done similar moves before, but not in a taught way. (Not in a taut way, either.) Some moves can close to naturally to me; some didn't, but you don't have to get it all the first time. I'm good with my arms, thank goodness. Not bad at landing on the balls of my feet, either. Larsen gave us the rule of thumb that one should pick up one's feet from the stage as if there were light tape or Velcro holding your foot to the floor, and you needed to unpeel it, heel to toe...and that one should put one's foot back on the stage in the opposite way, ball of foot first and then the foot's back end. I flashed on the Velcro booties in 2001: A Space Odyssey. (And when the pianist started playing accompaniment, I flashed on Whose Line Is It Anyway?, because my pop culture-soaked mind remembers such stuff.)
At the end we had more of an audience than expected: KGW Live at 7, Steph Stricklen's evening show, sent over reporter Joe Smith and a photographer, so the lesson didn't end as planned because it had to accommodate live television and Smith trying to direct us. So it ended in a less focused way, after about 90 minutes of stage time.
But me moving in ballet-like ways: possible.
I left the Newmark, and headed for the Transit Mall, wanting to still move in a more flowing way. Keep this up, body. You'll like it and get better at it.
Sleep should go well soon. And if I wake up sore, there's a warm shower waiting.
There is now video at this link of me and the rest of us making our limbs and trunks move in exciting ways:
Or will embedding work?