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Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States

I am a dancer with Minneapolis based James Sewell Ballet, a small, contemporary ballet company. I also choreograph independently.

Thursday, May 01, 2008


I saw Scapino Ballet Rotterdam tonight and I find that I am restless, frustrated, and generally not at my ease. (Funny how neurotic I can be. Old patterns are hard to break, and a general sense of restlessness has a history of following me around, ready to strike, when I am vulnerable.)

Why am I vulnerable? Perhaps because this “Aida” project is winding down. Perhaps that, coupled with the fact that despite Monday’s rockin Limon class I feel profoundly out of shape. Ok, so I’ll get myself to class tomorrow. (There’s a reasonably timed one at 12:30 that I’ll check out.)

Why do I still battle that one, getting to class? I love class. It makes me so happy. And yet there’s this perverse part of me that resents having to go when I’m “off”. Ah, there’s the rub: a dancer is never “off”. Nope, no dice. (Though I did manage to steal many weeks last summer when working on other projects.) But here’s the thing: I do not feel good, or “myself” if I don’t take class. There’s something in me that just can’t forgive myself the luxury of time off. And yet I’ll grab at it anyway, like a kid stubbornly refusing to do something (or not) just because.

So I know all this about myself. That’s progress. I’ve been here and back a time or ten, and I will see this through. Anyway, what does this have to do with the ballet tonight?

Because I am not quite “myself”, because I feel mostly out of shape, I cannot freely watch, absorb, honestly take in. Nevertheless, here’s what I can honestly say about tonight: I am frustrated because the fabulous, gorgeous dancers made the choreography look better than it was. The audience ate it up, and that just slays me. Yes, it was virtuosic. Yes, there were some amazing images. But! the choreography repeated itself such that by the last piece it was rendered ineffective. All four pieces on the program (by 2 different choreograpgers) featured the gesture of a spastic, flapping hand motion. Potentially brilliant if used sparingly, but in all four pieces!? Nope, I just can’t buy it. And truly, the movement vocabulary in general simply wasn’t “all that”. Again, it was virtuosic, with masterful falling and recovering into and out of the floor, but the intersection of ballet and modern (for lack of something more poetic), was not as thrilling as it could have been. And I guess I mean to say, as it should have been, given this company’s reception and reputation.

And so I write. I wring out my frustrations on my keypad. I look forward to class tomorrow and to discussing the show with folks who’ll get me. I ramp up to brave class at Oregon Ballet Theatre with my friend Christopher who has kindly welcomed me. I wrestle my demons even as my sweet piece in Dance Magazine hits the newsstand. (More on that later; a mighty thrill it is…)


Anonymous Gary Peterson said...


Just picked up the May issue of Dance Magazine last night and read your piece. Congratulations!

9:35 AM  
Blogger Brittain said...

So here I am at home and viewing your blog for the first time! And let me tell you how excited I am to see and now know the skills and talents for which you hold Miss Penelope Freeh. I am inspired, in awe, and absolutely amazed at the work you do and the love you have for it. Truly, you exemplify the words you write and speak! I am most grateful to have this opportunity to work and be around you. I don't often get a chance to meet such enlightened spirits as you but gee-wiz I am so blessed that you agreed to have me on board for this production of AIDA! Thank You Thank You Thank You!
Britt Britt

2:34 AM  
Blogger Lightsey Darst said...

Penny! I'm so glad you're blogging again. I missed you. And very happy to hear you've launched your dance writing on a "more official" basis. Good for you--better for the rest of us!

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