"Do I dare disturb the universe?"
~T.S. Eliot

Monday, July 2, 2012

One week of dancing at Interlochen, come and gone

Yesterday and today, I finally got to breathe for the first time in about 8 days, since Interlochen weekends are Sunday and Monday (don't ask me why).  It's been a heck of a week getting into the swing of my classes, and each day is physical and full of activity, which means I pretty much am crashed by the end of the night. It's exhausting but incredibly fulfilling.  I was honestly quite stressed and seriously nervous before the start of classes, but I've found myself actually almost surprised at how well it's been going (or at least, I can put on a facade of confidence that may actually be blending with true, real confidence, building each day.)

My class of juniors was the most challenging--these kids are 8-12, and they are all studying other disciplines as their concentration, or doing a general arts study.  I've worked more extensively with kids both younger and older than this range, so this provided me with a new challenge.  I also had two classes of Intermediate kids, which were also general or non-dance majors.  Intermediates are about age...13-16 or so, which is my more preferred age group.  I was able to work more dance technique into class with these groups, teaching them the basics of modern dance (prances, contractions, high releases, triplets, double-stag leaps...) and classic choreographer movements (from Graham and Humphrey). Especially my afternoon class was honestly a blast--I had the more advanced kids (whereas my other two classes were the lower groups), and not only were they more skilled dancers (which doesn't matter to me much, I have loved working with beginners before), but they were more enthusiastic students who really wanted to learn.  They were seriously such a joy to work with, and I'm sad that we are switching next week--they go on to the ballet portion of the rotation, and I get a new set of kids.  On Saturday, our last day, I took them outside for the last 15 minutes of class, where they danced the final combination we had been working on the lawn in front of the Bowl, and our percussionist joined us as well.  Ah, how awesome it is to see kids be so receptive and passionate!

I've also jammed with the accompanists a couple times on horn for the Improv class, which has been seriously great.  I was pretty wary of joining them at first, because I hadn't played horn in a year 1/2, and though I used to play for improv sometimes in college, I never really knew what I was doing or had a huge grasp on music theory/harmonizing, etc.  I realized here though that improvising musically is really no different from dance, and as long as you are aware of what is going on around you and are creating something that jives and compliments, you are golden.  And though my chops give out much faster than they used to, and my range isn't complete....I'm really not quite as rusty as I imagined I would be. :)  Also, maybe it's because I'm older now, but at U of I there was part of me that was always a bit embarrassed to be seen with my horn.  Maybe it was because the dance department was so intense and I felt guilty for devoting some of my precious time to something else.  Or also because I was still concerned about appearances and being in band was definitely revealing my ultra-nerd.  But here at Interlochen, the kids seem to actually think it's really awesome that I have this unique skill, and they applaud and thank me for my talent.  Everyone's a nerd here, so if you play an instrument in addition to whatever you're focusing on....it seems to kindof bump your status as an uber-nerd, which is actually making you cooler...in an extremely geeky way that only Interlochen can be. :-)

Next week my schedule will get even busier, as I add a high school class (which I'm very excited about, I love working with high schoolers!) and will have some rehearsals for a faculty concert.  So I'm not sure if I'll have a ton of time for extra classes I've been doing (not just the accompanying, but I've been doing ballet barre every day).  We shall see....there's an awesome coffee stand on campus that I've been spending too much money at but is often my saving grace.

Last night was the first WYSO (World Youth Symphony Orchestra, the top orchestra here) concert of the season, and it was beautiful.  It featured work of American composers, including the two famous Olympic fanfares (Arnaud was the orignal, now the NBC theme, and John Williams'), which highlighted awesome brass, and Barber's Adagio for Strings, which was expressive and beautiful.  The last piece always played (or sung) at any music concert is the Interlochen Theme by Howard Hanson.  I confess I got seriously choked up and was crying at the end.  It's almost as if I couldn't fully believe I was here on this campus until that moment, when I heard the haunting horn melody....at the end, the house lights rise and the stage lights dim, and as per tradition there is no applause at the end, the last notes hanging in the air to linger on into the night.

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