waverlywindsor: (Default)
Whether in a cultural sense or simply in the day-to-day demands of coping with a region's weather, we're all influenced by where we come from or where we live now.

Where does your character live? How have their geographical surroundings influenced them? It could be something as minor as having given them a taste for seafood if they grew up in a port city, to as complex as a world traveler having a broad global perspective on everything from race to religion. Show us the city, region, or planet they call home, and what influence it has had on them!

Dalton's Corner, Maine

She grew up in this tiny, tiny town in Maine, near the coast and of course there was lobster and other shellfish. Her mother even once worked at the docks, sorting seafood, banding claws and doing other smelly, damp tasks. Cold weather, long winters, lots of ice and snow. She learned to dress in layers and to stay warm by keeping active--fortunate that she danced from a young age, working up a sweat in below zero temperatures was a joy.

As a little girl, the close knit community felt like an extended family to her and was a comfort Waverly enjoyed. They supported her endeavors and gladly joined in to fund raise so she could attend that coveted school in New York. They were there for her mother when, at eight, she left home to live at the school. They were there too, to welcome her home between terms and to send her care packages while she was away.


NYC, NY

As a child she attended the School of American Ballet. Starting there at age eight, Waverly refused to let herself feel homesick or cry often, after all there were six year olds there. Kindergarten babies that could do this so she could too. It gave her a sense of independence that differed from the one she found in dance itself.

By the time she was twelve, Waverly had a firm mind of where she wanted to dance professionally. The American Ballet Theater. She wanted this over Joffrey or any other company so she begged and pleaded, worked and weaseled until her mother agreed to help navigate the paperwork nightmare and audition process with her. The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School fed (and still feeds) into the post-secondary dance program at ABT and then into the company itself. So young and already with that competitor's fierce determination to get what she wanted.

She didn't see much of the city during her years as a student, her focus was on her feet. Her career. The sights and the tourist traps would always be there. Ballet was ruthless enough to have a time frame and a small window of opportunity. Of course this meant she experienced little that the city had to offer even once she did join the Corps de Ballet. What she did find and take from the city that never sleeps was the sense of being alone in a crowd and fending for herself, in that sense, the city itself reminded her of a ballerina. Trust no one (except your partner) and stay alert.

Dalton's Corner, Maine

Coming back home, her dream career effectively over, Waverly found (still finds) the small, close-knit town smothering and its inhabitants nosy. They no longer provided a sense of comfort but rather raised her hackles against intrusion and lack of privacy. She preferred her extended family to consist of the small circle of friends she'd managed to keep over the years--more effort on their parts than hers, she'd admit.

More than anything, Dalton's Corner serves to remind Waverly of all the tings she misses about NYC, a city she thought she knew very little about. It's too quiet in Maine. No one is ever busy enough and sleepy towns just don't feel alive or urgent. The only thing she didn't feel in Maine was the constant pressure to perform. There wasn't anyone to impress and those that were? It took relatively little on her part.

Besides, toddlers in tutus are hardly the likes of Irina Dvorovenko.
waverlywindsor: (Default)
Show us some of your achievements! Bring out your trophies, your proud moments, your fourth grade spelling award - anything goes.



This is me, showing off and wanting to ask, "So how many of you can do this?" To someone who isn't a dancer, this pose (and many others) probably looks like quite the achievement. For students still learning to keep their balance while practicing their turnout, flexing and pointing their feet under the dinner table or as they lay in bed every night, mentally moving through barre drills in the backs of their minds...this is a goal to reach and surpass. To the accomplished dancer, this is simply one more step in a repertoire of many.

For me, someone who used to dance, it is a challenge. One I try to meet every day. Every morning when I have the studio to myself, before the first rush of students arrive for class. When it's just me and the barre. Me and ballet. Me and the constant battle of wills that I have with my body. Some days I win, other days the aching muscles and injured bones, the leg that was once shattered and refuses to to be abused any longer...sometimes they win.

But not today.

Today, I danced through the pain and then I danced with it. Agony was my pas de deux partner, accompanying me and supporting me, driving me forward and lifting me up. It egged me on, encouraged me to not give up. I was in control, my body would bend and stretch, turn and jump at my say, under my command. Today I danced the way I used to, full of passion and certainty, ego and hubris.

That's what ballet is at the core. Pain and perfection. When you manage both, then you're a dancer.



Here's my proof.

Evidence of my accomplishment.

This is what I'm proud of.

What did you do today?

Symbols

Jan. 18th, 2009 02:34 am
waverlywindsor: (Default)
Think of an item or symbol from every day life that could stand for your mother, father, spouse, best friend, or other person who is important to you. If you don't want to use someone from your life, pick something that you think needs to be symbolized. Write about why that symbol stands for that person or thing.




Toe shoes. My old, worn-out and broken in toe shoes. The ones torn up and the inside of the toes stained with blood. They smell. They're ugly. And if I were to put them on right now? They'd feel comfortable and like they belonged on my feet.

These shoes symbolize everything about me, my life, my mother, my friends...everything we all worked for to get me into the academy at the American Ballet Theatre in New York. Blood, sweat, tears, sacrifice. Time. Determination.

My mother worked her ass off at two, sometimes three jobs to pay for my tuition. To keep me in leotards and shoes. For train tickets so I could come home for holidays. She let me go at eight years old, to go to school and to dance the way that she thought I was meant to dance. I was eight. I lived in New York until last year. Twenty years. She basically gave up twenty years of seeing her only child on a daily basis. She settled for phone calls--when I felt like talking to her. For letters--if I could bother to write. Of course, once I actually graduated, I saw her more often, came home a little more frequently but the truth was, my life was in New York, not Dalton's Corner.

I look at these worn out, used up things and I see all the hard work she put into giving me the chance to dance the satin right off a pair of slippers. And these are just the the pair I kept. There are so many others I threw away.

Then there are my friends. Greg and Mia and all the rest of them here in Dalton's Corner. The ones I went to grade school with. Mia who was always my penpal, who wrote the longest letters in the world to fill me in on everything I was missing out on. Andy, who I'd flirt with when I came home--every last one of them cheered me on and welcomed me back and when I'd leave again, they saw me off. Matt and Julie spent their honeymoon in NYC just so they could see me dance in the chorus of a show. Greg, Marsha and Ham used to take road trips to come see me.

They bent over backwards, tired themselves out, put their cars or their wallets to the test just to spend a day or two with me. Never complaining, never feeling as if they put more effort into our friendships (even though they really did at times). I look at these shoes and I see all the good wishes they had for me.

I look at these shoes.

You know what? If it hadn't been for all of them, there is no way I would have danced long enough, hard enough, to wear out even one pair of toe shoes.

These nasty, ugly, smelly shoes symbolize love. A lot of love.
waverlywindsor: (Default)
I was a member of the American Ballet Theatre and I've danced with some of the modern greats. Maxim Beloserkovsky in La Sylphide, for one. Of course, he was the principle cavalier as James and I was only a sylph in the corps de ballet but we did share the stage and we did see each other at rehearsals. I might have even worked up the nerve to tell him how genuinely amazing he was.

That is my one claim to professional fame. La Sylphide. Being part of the corps for the entire performance and being able to use that experience to land an audition for Giselle. That audition was the last time I danced on stage at ABT. What I had convinced myself was only a pulled muscle turned out to be something far worse. The pain in my leg had been a stress fracture not musculature-related and I went down like a ton of bricks during a ballonné compose. The start and finish of my career as a dancer.

Of course, there are hundreds of times I danced before that. My classical training started at eight years of age and continued all through school. And I still dance, but now my audience is a lot smaller and I don't just mean the headcount. No, my little cavaliers (I have a grand total of two) and ballerinas are anywhere from five to twelve and pretty tiny. I call them my pixie parade most of the time.

As an instructor I've gotten to dance far more than I ever would have with the company. All the great parts. All the leads in all the famous ballets. I've been Juliet and I've been Cinderella...I've trained legions of Sugar Plum Fairies. I've worn pointe shoes and tutus, tiaras and leggings. I'll even wear flat shoes with my jeans these days. Mademoiselle Waverly may never be anyone's virtuoso but you won't be able to convince any of the round little faces waiting for me at the barre every afternoon at three.

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