Tuesday, May 31, 2016


Halfland has but one rival for my love, focus, and time. Ballet. Permit me to explain why.
(Last Sunday, during my second class of the morning, one of the extremely talented young male dancers, Roman Frey (portrait below), asked me to work next to him at barre. Stills taken from stolen quick clips of class barre work.)

My 42 Year History With Dance.

My first ever in life ballet class was at age 11.5 with the very man who teaches me today. The man is an absolute Master Teacher of Classical Dance. I am smart enough to know he has no equal on earth. I watch his every move and word to every student and am regularly in awe of not only his extraordinary grasp of body dynamics and mechanics, music, artistry, and meaningful expression at every level of experience, but also his wisdom about living life.

When I was a little girl, he took me into his world and shaped me as a dancer. I was shy and quiet, utterly intimidated by everything, but he saw a quality in me that was worthwhile and was the first person to elevate how I saw myself. Forever after knowing him I was a dancer. I studied with other teachers in other places as my houses kept moving but he was always the one that made enormous impact for the better in my life.

At 18, I was in a small ballet company in Santa Barbara when they ran out of funding. I objectively looked at the circumstances and determined that I didn't have enough drive, looks, or talent to pursue a career in dance further. I decided to quit completely and see what the rest of the world lived like. I learned and danced a bit of Jazz but no ballet classes or performances at all for 25 years after that.

Then by chance, 10 years ago, I saw my first teacher on television. He was alive, teaching still, right near where I lived. I was floored. I had been repeating stories about him to my husband for decades to the point that the teacher became a mythological creature, like a unicorn, to us. Yet here he was. I convinced my husband, whom I had met in my spiritual group, who was then aged 55, never having in his life taken any dance classes, to come and experience for himself a True Master for the enriching experience. Just once, I said.

Well, I'm somewhat bewildered yet thrilled to report that one class turned into a decade of profound transformation in every way for both of us. The teacher lived up to every anecdote from my history and continues to exceed them again and again. (Can you imagine the cosmic collision it was for me to witness my ballet world and my spiritual and personal world coming together?!) It was surreal and yet this second epoch with our teacher has proven to be even more transforming (and longer) than the first!

I have spent the last 10 years taking the teacher's basic beginning classes so I could attend with my husband, Paul. It was he who asked me such astute questions, I was forced for the first time to observe the correct placement of every part of the body and figure a way to explain it to him and other beginning students of the teacher's (with his express permission). I attempt to slowly break down the teacher's technique, like a translator for those with no prior experience and help them to take better advantage of their classes with the master. I aspire to explain his dynamics and form, repeating his wonderful metaphors and stories, taking extensive notes in every class and doing whatever I can to support him in his work.

(The barre behind us held the other two fantastically talented future stars of dance, one of which, Larkin Miller (with the blonde head; clip linked below of his audition video from a year ago), is my favorite dance artist to study where I do ever. He has become one of the warmest, sweetest people I've met. And even before I knew that about him, was the finest, most devoted artists I've seen. A total inspiration in every movement. Being liked and accepted by these boys for my work makes me feel strong and right in step with them, even at more than twice their ages.)
The thing you should know about this teacher and the profound impact he has on myself, my husband, and every one of his other thousands of students he has taught over the decades is that how you dance ballet is only the beginning. And here's where we get into some deeper matters.

How We Move Reveals Who We Are.

Recently, my teacher lectured me privately that it was time for me to move past the level on which I was working. It was time for me to stop seeking some sort of perfecting of the technique and learn instead to dance at a more professional level. He suggested I take his more advanced classes, once again calling me forward into a new world. I needed to expand my understanding of the more complicated combinations that make up the center work in the longer, more advanced classes. And, as I'm now finding out, to also exceed my limitations of expression on the physical, mental, and emotional/psychological levels.

It isn't enough for me to get the combinations right, or to master the technique of a difficult step. The challenge before me now, the one I am taking up, is to fundamentally change how I react to life. Where I have been tense and nervous, I am to be relaxed and at ease. Where I have been convinced I am inadequate, I am to know I am wholly enough. I am to express a greater sense of well being as I move. And when I think that I can no longer do any better, I am to once again excel further regardless.

So that's what I've been doing since I have recovered my health (largely thanks to the ballet again, but that's for another story, perhaps for another time), Taking class nearly every day and napping to help recover from the physical exertion. Helps me get to bed before too late too.

The challenge isn't comfortable but it's an opportunity for an authentic revolution of who I am and how I navigate in life. And as a rising tide raises all boats, the new way I think and operate are bound to affect how I can get Halfland truly done.

Thank you for listening to this underground tale of things. I thought it appropriate to try to explain where my attention has been divided and why to my Halfland followers.

*I don't name my teacher to keep our location/wherabouts private/secure.

**A year old clip of my favorite inspiration in classes right now, the blonde that can't been seen well above, Larkin Miller.

***Roman Frey (the beautiful dancer in the striped shirt and mauve leg warmers next to me above.)