Thursday, June 21, 2012

Learning New Skills

Ah, summer!  Time to rest, relax and . . . learn new skills!  The girls are at separate camps this month -- Maya doing the same Chinese language camp both girls have been doing for the past few years.  Zoe skipped Chinese camp to do an intensive ballet camp.  It's not that she's forsaken Chinese -- since her camp ends a week before Maya's, Zoe actually asked if she could join the Chinese camp for the last week!  That won't be possible, but since both girls will be back in Chinese School in the fall, I don't think Zoe will lose too much ground!  It's been good for Maya to be in an activity WITHOUT Zoe for a change.

Ballet camp has been good for Zoe.  In addition to ballet 5 days a week, she's learning jazz and flamenco dance for the first time.  She likes flamenco, but she REALLY likes jazz.  And unexpectedly, she garnered a performance opportunity from the ballet class.  The camp is with Ballet Concerto, a company associated with her ballet school, and the company puts on an outdoor ballet every summer (FREE lawn seating, come if you're in the local area (click on Ballet Concerto for more info)).  This year, it's Carmen (and two other shorter ballets), and a handful of girls were chosen to be "street urchins" in Carmen, basically background figures except for a few turns mocking the soldiers and cheering the bullfighter. Some of the girls' parents declined the performance opportunity because they felt Carmen, with its love triangle and violent end, was inappropriate, but I felt that standard pretty much excluded most of the classical ballet repertoire, all of opera, and 9/10ths of Shakespeare and other classic literature! And don't get me started on the famous Greek plays (Oedipus Rex, anyone?!).

So, Zoe gets a little stage time, has learned how to do "dirty face" makeup (I suggested we use dirt, but that simply produced the stink-eye stare!), and has had the opportunity to work with Luis Montero, a well-known choreographer (In addition to choreographing ballet and flamenco, he's known for choreographing the 2010 Winter Olympic gold-medal-winning ice-dancing routine for Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir).  Here he is talking to the girls about showing enthusiasm on the stage by thinking of something they get excited about (one girl suggested meeting Justin Bieber, another getting an iPad!).

Another plus for the camp is that one of the professional dancers performing and teaching there is Brandon Nguyen, an Asian dancer.  Never hurts to have Asian role models! He's the bullfighter in Carmen, and is quite impressive in the role.

I'm not as thrilled by the performance opportunityas Zoe is, only because it's Texas, it's June and it's HOT outside!  (Not so hot as to excuse the crazy lady in the park where the ballet is performed who decided to go topless last night while watching dress rehearsal!) Still, the last two nights with stage rehearsal and then dress rehearsal haven't been too bad.  I suppose I'll survive the four nights of performance this week.  Maya has had fun sliding down the hill behind the performance area (how we do it in Texas sans snow -- a sheet of cardboard!), and doesn't feel too left out not performing.  She'll have her chance to perform at the closing ceremonies for Chinese camp (and of course I'll post photos!)

I'm not really raising my girls to be professional dancers, but ballet gives them a chance to learn important skills and values like hard work and perserverence, gives them a circle of friends in addition to school friends, provides exercise and motivation for healthy eating, and lets them have fun!  Oh, it also gives me proud mommy moments to blog about!


Anne said...

Looks like fun!

-J.D. Humenay said...

I don't think it's every too early to expose kids to art. If they LOVE dance, what a great way to help them on the road to a healthy lifestyle!

PS you're right about the classical literature thing. As a theater performer and an english lit major, it's all WAY too mature for kids, but it's also almost completely over their heads.;)