Learning to Leap

At the Washington Ballet open house this weekend, I was fortunate enough to attend an open rehearsal of La Vie en Rose, a new production inspired by French art-song and cabaret.

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IMAGE: @TWBallet
The dance was a mad blast of energy. One vignette included three dancers who created a multitude of shapes with dizzying speed and electric precision.

As the rehearsal progressed from a warm-up to a full recital set to music, I was struck by how self-directed, engaged, and friendly all the dancers were.

As visitors filed into the rehearsal room, the dancers were already busy warming up. Some worked alone at the barre, doing pliés and jumps. Others were stretching together. A lead dancer demonstrated a move to her colleagues.

When Artistic Director Septime Webre called the dancers forward, they immediately drew their attention to the music, their steps, and each other. Every ounce of energy was focused on the task at hand. At one point, one of the dancers even had to alert Webre because his heart rate was getting too high!

There was also a beautiful camaraderie among the dancers. All the dancers seemed to be good friends – no doubt forged from many late hours working together on their art. I’m sure they compete for many of the same roles in the ballet, but they clearly respect and honor each other.

These are skills that dancers are taught from the beginning. In rehearsals, dance students are part of the group, but they are monitoring their own progress. These are skills learned outside of school, but which translate well to the classroom, and will serve the dancers in all they do.

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