Category: Dance/The Body/Sport (page 1 of 2)

Macaulay Deewane at Adelphi’s Best Dance Crew 2015

Upon entering college, I looked for somewhere that I belong, like everyone else. I tried Student Government and was unsuccessful, and was therefore inspired to participate in something I knew I loved – dance.

To my fortune, Macaulay was just starting up its very first Bollywood-fusion dance team, a dance I had been learning for 14+ years. All it took was one faithful audition, and I was part of the team! During our first practice in October, although I was muttering under my breath (or lack thereof) because I was out of shape and out of practice, my body had no issue remembering how to move with the rhythm, perform the moves, and my heart was definitely in it. It was quite the experience to remember.

Fast forward about 2 weeks, we found out we were to be competing in a dance competition against 4 other well-established Bollywood dance teams. Although I was nervous, I was confident that my team, as well as myself, with the practice we needed and the inspiration, we could defeat any team that came our way.

The weekends following that were a blur. What I remember most is running from bio lecture to get food, stuffing my face with that food in the subway, and sprinting to the Macaulay building to change and get ready for practice. Now, repeat for the whole weekend. Yeah, that’s right. In the weeks leading up to the competition, our captain drilled us once during the week for a few hours, as well as during extensive practices on Fridays and the weekend. All of us, at some point, said we hated going and got completely fed up of taking the LIRR and MTA on the weekend, but we knew in order to accomplish our collective goal, we all needed to put in the work.

Fast forward even farther to the weekend of the competition. I remember that day being very stressful for me, because I had an interview for an internship I really wanted that same morning, but there was nothing stopping me from accomplishing all my goals that day. After my interview, I sped from Brooklyn to Adelphi University, where the competition was taking place, for a day full of practice and anxiety.

Rehearsal after rehearsal to dress rehearsal, I was tired by the afternoon, but I knew I had to push through. As more and more teams arrived, sly glances and force smiles were exchanged because we knew that we were going to battle for the victory a mere few hours later.

After seeing my mother for good luck, we proceeded backstage where we then performed.

As with my other performances, there are never words to explain what it feels like to perform. If I had to try to put it into words – everything around me blurs, and it feels like the light is only shining on me. Besides using my peripherals, everyone around me disappears, and after the performance has ended (although while performing I feel as if I am on the brink of dying), I am ready to do it all over again.

After our performance, and seeing our final competitor, we were sure that we were over. But, to our surprise, the 1st place prize went to us.

I don’t have words for how proud I am, but I have to say – it was all worth it.

American Ballet Theatre

lolol

 

My ballet experiences have been nothing but dreadful for my entire life. I was not a big fan of ballet or dance in general. I would always respect the ability, athleticism, and compassion of the dancers but I have never really have an “enjoyable” time watching a ballet, or dance in general.  I never seemed to find a purpose in any type of dance except for it’s beauty. I couldn’t fathom what so many people but me enjoyed about ballet. However, in this ballet, I was so intrigued. I will not lie; I did find myself bored at times but also, I was very impressed and sucked in to the intensity of the ballet.  The binoculars helped me a lot to see everyone in the orchestra and in the show. I got to see the concertmaster, the clarinet section, the times the orchestra would talk. I even saw the fly-aways of the concertmaster and the conductor. It helped keep this ballet interesting for me, especially since I am one to lose interest quickly and nod off. The orchestra, for me, was the best part of the ballet. They exhibited certain qualities of an orchestra that show how professional they were and how ridiculously good they were. First, they were never “loud”, almost like very loud noise that disrupts you. They had such amazing dynamics and contrast in every style. When dancers were on their tip-toes or performing very delicate maneuvers,  the orchestra had amazing articulation, almost accenting every step in the proper way for the move. I also think that their control of how soft and loud they were was very exceptional, which ties in with that they were never loud. It seemed as though even when they were forte, they were not blasting or too loud. In a lot of high school and middle school and even in college bands/orchestras, their age shows through the control, intonation, and the dynamics of the group. However, this professional orchestra amazed me in every way. The introduction to the second movement of the show was one of my favorite parts of the show. The clarinet and oboe and the violins had a particular soli that was absolutely beautiful. It was very pretty and had interesting lines that showed how modern it was. It foreshadowed the “weirdness” but more-so the modern style/costumes the dancers would portray/wear. No matter how much I loved the orchestra in the second movement, I loved the third movement the most. I didn’t get the program for the ballet but it felt good to assume what this was about. The first scene and last scene confused me greatly but I loved the warfare scenes and the dancer representing death/war in some way. I really enjoyed the repetition of the dance moves and all of the dancing in that part. The dancers made it clear what was happening in every scene without spelling it out to us. The pianists were also crazy good and their dynamics were very good. They had very good verbal & non verbal communication and I respected their musicianship greatly. In general, after walking by Lincoln Center every day to go to school, I never thought I would be ever so intrigued in one if it wasn’t for jazz or a musical. However, I was rather pleased with the American Ballet Theatre’s performance and I respect their artistic ability. Although I can never, ever do what they did that night, I can understand and see that they are some of the best dancers in the world.

 

Pretty Chill Ballet

Prior to Thursday I had 0 experience watching ballet, I was initially worried I wouldn’t get it. The first act (Brahms-Haydn Variations) was where I really enjoyed the music.  I often stared at the conductor’s wild movements or looked at the sides of the orchestra to see what instruments were producing certain unique sounds. The dancing was wonderful too and fit the music tempo very well.  The second act was very “meh” for me because musically, and on stage, everything seemed to flow very slowly.  I recognize how skilled the performers are, but it’s not something I would want to see again. Part of this is probably due to me being an impatient person, the other part being the music I listen to is typically a lot more fast paced, throughout the performance I was kind of just waiting for something to happen.

Finally, The Green Table.  Everyone seemed to like this one.  I LOVED the beats the dancers banged out on the table at the same time, it was an intriguing source of sound because until then the stage was meant to be quiet, sounds come only from the orchestra or the piano.  Marcelo Gomes’ black outfit and ?face paint? were really awesome as well, he was a glaringly obvious metaphor for death.  The flag made interesting colors as it was waved around, and through my binoculars it really was just a white flag with red and black splotches, maybe another color as well (the colored lighting made it difficult).  The way he kept a beat by stomping his boot was satisfying as well.  I think the meaning was fairly obvious, the politicians/diplomats sitting at the green table had a disagreement, leading to fighting, leading to war, leading to death, and the cycle repeats.  It was just a really satisfying act to watch and a great way to end the show.

American Ballet Theatre Reflection

images

 

I went to LaGuardia High School, and I passed by the American Ballet Theatre every day on my way to school, never thinking it would be something I would enjoy. Prior to this trip, I had never been to a ballet and the American Ballet Theatre was definitely a great introduction to this one of a kind form of art. The first ballet was the Brahmn-Haydn VariationI think this was a good ballet to start with because it was how I imagined a traditional ballet to be like. The costumes, the music, and the story were what I expected to see the whole evening. The second ballet was the Monotones I and II. I really liked this ballet because I got to focus more on individual dancers and how their movements corresponded with each other. The three dancers in the green costumes were my favorite. I thought the music in that dance was extremely haunting and beautiful and the way the dancers synced their bodies with each other and seamlessly followed each other’s moves without looking at one another was incredible. The last ballet was called The Green Table. This ballet definitely had the strongest story line and was captivating from the beginning until the end. I loved the beginning of this ballet and how untraditional it was. I did not expect to see the dancers wearing masks and dressed in suits, surrounding the green table. I really enjoyed the storyline of this ballet. The way I interpreted it was that the people around the Green Table were politicians who were all pro war and the dance was a representation of how war effects the actual citizens who have to fight, as well as their loved ones and families. The main dancer in this ballet was amazing. His repeated movements were so precise and identical each time that it almost felt like he was a machine rather than a human.

It is incredible how much strength these dancers have. It all looked very easy and light, but I’m sure that it took unimaginable amounts of practice to get it to that level. I liked how the evening altogether was split up into three ballets. I felt like each one was so different and for someone who doesn’t know much about ballet, it was interesting to see the varying styles.

My ABT Experience

Going to the American Ballet Theatre for me was like a dream. The 6-year-old in me was jumping and dancing, the 12-year-old was trying to do all of the moves they did, and the present version of myself, 17-year-old, was mesmerized and melancholy at the same time. My initial reaction walking up into Lincoln Center was that it was a beautiful square. The fountain in the center surrounded by huge buildings on the sides was a beautiful architectural layout. I thought it was interesting to see women in ball gowns walking around next to little girls at the ice cream truck. I loved the marble floors and high ceilings of the actual buildings. Everything seemed like it was one giant piece of art, like the theatre was a museum itself.

As far as the actual ballet, I absolutely loved the first performance, The Brahms-Haydn Variations. I’m into big productions like that and I could only imagine how long it took to practice and perfect (though I did, of course, notice a few imperfections). The second performance, Monotones I and II, I thought was very seductive in that there were only three dancers. We were drawn then to every detail of their movements, they could hide no mistakes. It was interesting to see how the three bodies interacted with each other. The third performance, The Green Table, however, I completely hated. I know by saying that I’m going against mostly everyone else, but I came to see classical ballet, not a comedy. These dancers did not train their whole lives to wear outrageous masks or, in the case of the Marcelo Gomes, repeat the same 4 steps over and over again. I understand they were trying to tell a story, but there is still a story in the bodies and movement of the first two performances, and the dancers did not have to make fools of themselves. Watching the ballet made me a little nostalgic for the days when I thought I would be one of those dancers on the stage, and my body twitched with muscle memory, aching to move like that again.

Lincoln Center

Lincoln Center

The fountain in the middle of Lincoln Center

The fountain in the middle of Lincoln Center

The program

The program

Classmates from across the mezzanine

Classmates from across the mezzanine

My illegal photo of Monotones I and II

My illegal photo of Monotones I and II

Ballet Reflections

Ballet had always seemed like one of the more boring styles of dance. I had only ever seen short clips of ballet while watching a movie or show, and this was my first time watching a full performance (and watching it live!). Being my first, I realized I was wrong. Ballet = elegance, obviously, but this performance was so much more. How hard must the dancers have practiced to move their bodies so flawlessly, and so in sync with their partners. The performances would not have taken place without the musicians and the lighting technicians. The lighting was so  important in all three performances.

We watched the Brahms-Haydn Variations, Monotone 1 and 2, and the Green Table. The only performance I didn’t enjoy was Monotone 1, although Monotone 2 was amazing. The Brahms-Haydn Variations was beautiful. The colors of the costumes, gold and white, were gorgeous and really suited the dancing. The lighting changed throughout the dance, and at one point the stage was slightly orangish and it looked like sunset (is that what it was supposed to look like?), while the dancers seemed to be angelic birds. Basically, romantic. Although amazing, at one point it got boring as the performance seemed to be unnecessarily long. Monotones 1 was extremely boring and I can not really guess why, since I really liked Monotones 2. Was it the green color of the costumes? Monotones 2 had only 3 dancers on stage, working together. The movements were amazing as they supported each other all the while twisting their bodies. The black of the stage and the shiny white of the costumes added to the effect. The Green Table I also enjoyed especially as I had never imagined ballet being used to explicitly tell a story, full with costumes.

Lincoln Center was gorgeous on the outside and even more so on the inside, which all added to the atmosphere. A really old lady sitting in front me was so excited at the end of one of the performances I really had to smile.

In conclusion, Thank you, Macaulay, for allowing me this opportunity as I would never have otherwise volunteered my time to watch ballet.

Ballet Reflection – Jack

IMG_4376

 

Last Wednesday night, we went to the David H. Koch Theater at the Lincoln Center and saw three different, short ballets – The Brahms-Haydn VariationsMonotones I and II, and The Green Table. Looking back, I would say The Green Table was the most interesting, simply because it told a clear story. However, The Brahms-Haydn Variations definitely appealed to me the most. The splendor and grandeur of this particular piece struck me. Looking through the binoculars, I was amazed by the elegant movements of the ballet dancers, and astonished by the amount of dancers on stage, all moving in perfect sync.

 

The second piece, Monotones I and II, was much easier to follow than the other two. Having only three fixed dancers on the stage allowed me to better focus on the individual movements of all three dancers. (However, I must admit, it wasn’t until about halfway through Monotones I that I realized that two of the dancers were males.) I also really liked the music in this piece, as it was in sharp contrast to the grand, uplifting music of The Brahms-Haydn Variations; this music was more romantic and intimate. The story portrayed was also very interesting in that at some points, it seemed like the two members of one gender were fighting for the sole member of the opposite gender, while at others, at seemed as though they were “sharing” him/her.IMG_3442

 

The Green Table was probably the easiest piece to follow and understand. The story was pretty clear, even though some of it was cryptically hidden behind the majestic movements of the dancers (ex: the women being raped by the soldiers). I’d say the music and lighting contributed greatly to this piece. The other two pieces could be done without music or off-stage. This piece, however could only be done with its musical score and specified lighting patterns because they contribute to the atmosphere of the story itself and the message being portrayed.

Ballet Reflections

Although it was the first time I ever went to see a ballet performance, I definitely realized the appeal of it towards some people. Despite the fact that these acts only took around 30 minutes each, it definitely took many years for the people performing them to master their skills. In The Brahms-Hayden Variations, for example, one of the main performers, Gillian Murphy, was clearly one of the more talented dancers on stage. Upon further investigation, I found that she joined the American Ballet Theatre in 1996, and performed ballet for more than 18 years. In order to have that much motivation, and to continually practice day and night, one would have to love ballet itself. As discussed earlier in class, most people would not want to undergo this grueling, should I say, torture. Only if someone truly enjoys this, would they continue doing it. From that night, it was proven to me that professional ballet dancers do this as a result of their love of this form of art.

As for my favorite act that night, The Green Table would definitely be at the top. Even though it had a lot of dancers, it was somehow easier to follow as a result of its plot. Like many people said, the first act was somewhat hard to follow because of the amount of dancers in it. Although I cannot disagree with this, I can argue against this. By providing a specific story line in The Green Table, the audience was better able to follow what was going on. Because of this reason, I would have to choose this act as my favorite.

Finally, I realized some very minute details which others may not have noticed. In every act, the performers had a different facial expression, which added to the overall mood of the performance. Aside from this, and especially visible with the pianists, the orchestra did not play in a pre-determined rhythm. They always looked at the dancers and determined their own pace from there. Instead of the dancers fixing their pace in accordance to the music, both fixed their pace in accordance to each other.

Ballet Review – Sandy Mui

I’ve never been to a ballet before so I didn’t really expect much. To be honest, I thought I would hate it. Boy, was I wrong!

The first ballet piece was my least favorite. I didn’t hate it and it wasn’t actually that bad, but relative to all of the other ballet pieces, I definitely liked it the least. There was just so much going on with so many dancers on the stage, which made it difficult to focus. After the first piece, I thought, “hey, maybe this won’t actually be so bad” since it was far from what I expected and it only got better from there. I thought it was interesting how the audience applauded for particular dancers after the first act was over when each dancer bowed on stage. If I recall correctly, this only happened after the first ballet piece.

My favorite piece was the second one. I loved the costumes and how there were only three dancers on stage, so we could really focus on their individual movements and it wasn’t too overwhelming on stage. My favorite part of that piece was when the three dancers dressed in bright green were moving together on one leg. Sorry for my horrible description – I have no idea what this move is called. I also really loved the costumes because they were so bright and flashy – lime green is really not the color I would picture with ballet. However, the most interesting part of the piece was how the music started before the curtains were gone and I thought that was really helpful in setting the mood of the piece.

I was intrigued by the third piece since that was the only one that had more of a story. The gunshot noises made me flinch and I thought it was cool how they could incorporate sound from besides the music into the piece. The story also made it easier to understand what was going on, compared to the first piece. I really liked the use of characters, a story, and dance in this piece, but the second piece was still my favorite.

I never thought I’d say this, but I like ballet and I’m looking forward to the opera!

 

Ballet Thoughts- Adam Sulaiman

Ballet never interested me. Even when we saw videos of it in class, I still was not too engaged. This applies to dancing in general, but ballet especially never appealed to me. My reaction to the ballet completely transformed upon actually watching it at the theatre. It is really a testament to the fact you need to experience something with your own eyes, and not a screen, to really appreciate it.

At first, I was mesmerized by the body movements. When I put on my binoculars and payed close attention to  individuals, I actually felt physically hurt upon observing some of their movements. The way they stretched and moved their bodies is really a feat of human ability.  The quality of their movements wasn’t the only amazing thing, but the quantity as well. It is beyond me how they memorized all the diverse set of moves as elegantly as they did.

The music element of the ballet performance was in my opinion essential. The dance choreography fitting with the beat of the music made it all the more powerful. It also helped to tell the story more. Often it was difficult to make out the story from the choreography, but the music added that extra information (via atmosphere and tension) for me to better understand and contemplate.

It was not only the ballet itself that caught my attention. Often I found myself taking the binoculars and focusing on the conductor’s (of the orchestra) hand movements. That was an art by itself and it was really entertaining to see just how engaged and in tune the conductor was with the music.

I really appreciate being able to experience this. I doubt I would have ever gone to the ballet on my own initiative. I’m glad I was there.

Older posts