Looking Back and Ahead

posted in: Musings | 0

Janus is the Roman god of beginnings and transitions. He’s characterized by having two faces – one that looks forward, and one that looks behind him. It’s appropriate, then, that our month of January is named for Janus, as the new year offers a great time for looking back on the past year to learn from our accomplishments and mistakes, and to look ahead to set goals.

Janus, Roman god of beginnings and transitions

2014 was a monumental year for me. This year, I saw one of my long-cherished dreams come true when I published my first novel! 2014 began with a flurry of revisions. In the beginning of the year, I tried to submit the book to agents and publishers, and then, when that didn’t pan out like I’d hoped, I sunk into a short-lived funk in which I thought my dream would never become a reality. In September, signing with Meryton Press revitalized me. The run-up to publishing The Muse involved so much work: revision, editing, web design, social networking, and book marketing and promotion. When it finally released a few weeks ago, I stared at my Amazon author page, basking in relief, joy, anxiety, and exhaustion, and thinking, “What now?” I spent so many years being an “aspiring writer.” Now that I’m an “real writer,” I’ve had to shift my identity and my priorities a little bit.

Here’s what my year of The Muse taught me:

  • Revision is hard. Plan first. Don’t be afraid of the Delete key.
  • Find and keep a network of writers. This year, I joined the Romance Writers of America’s NYC chapter. In addition to soaking up the advice of some very savvy writers, chapter meetings inspired me to keep writing, revising, and submitting. The authors in the Meryton Press network also share writing and marketing ideas, which proved to be very useful as I embarked on this journey. I can say with 100% confidence that, had I not had these writing networks, I would not have been able to publish my book.
  • In that same vein, being a part of a reading community has been essential, too. Writers need to read. I use Goodreads and Facebook to interact with other readers and shared books, articles, pictures, and jokes.

Looking ahead at 2015, here is what I hope to accomplish:

  • Continue to build my network of fellow readers and writers by participating in RWA meetings, becoming more active on Goodreads and Facebook, and perhaps even attending a writing conference or two!
  • Prioritize writing in my life by carving out and protecting time to write daily and weekly. As a writer with a full-time job and full-time life, it’s easy to schedule work, friend dates, time with my boyfriend, Internet surfing, etc. into all of my free time. This year, I’m going to start scheduling writing dates with my MacBook into my calendar. Similarly, use school breaks (winter, spring, and summer) to write.
  • Start (and finish!?) my next book. I have a few ideas for the next project. The problem is choosing one and going with it!

What about you? What has been your biggest accomplishment of the year? What have you learned? What goals will you set in the coming year?

Ballet Basics Part 2 – Company Class

posted in: Ballet | 0

In this installment of Ballet Basics, we’re going to learn about the ritual of company class, a routine so fundamental to ballet that I chose to begin The Muse in Ballet Theater of New York’s company class. Company class, or “class,” as dancers call it, is the morning ritual of barre and center exercises that warm up the body for a full day of rehearsals and performances. All dancers from the 18-year-olds in the corps de ballet to the 40-year-old principal dancers take company class.

Class usually lasts around an hour-and-a-half. It begins with exercises at the barre that build upon each other in difficulty, which is why the exercises are performed in a set order. The movements start off small, as in pli

Half-way through class, the barres are removed to the sides of the room for center excerices. Again, exercises begin small and in-place. Women may choose to put on pointe shoes at this time to begin warming up their feet. For jumping exercises, men and women’s exercises might be split up, with women’s exercises emphasizing quickness of feet, and men’s exercises emphasizing height and jumping turns.

At the end of class, dancers move across the floor in a waltz, petit allegro, with smaller jumps and turn series, and grade allegro, with those enormous and exciting leaps that usually make it onto ballet promotional posters. Class always finishes with reverence, an exercise in which the dancers bow to the ballet master and the pianist.

This video, featuring the Royal Ballet of Canada, does a great job of showing what company class is like.

Ballet Basics

posted in: Ballet | 0

Some readers alerted me to the fact that they wanted to know about all of the ballet terms that I use in The Muse.  So here’s your ballet basics tutorial.

One of the most common steps that I refer to in The Muse is the plié. In French, plié means “to bend.” That’s exactly what the knees do in this step. Dancers can plié on one foot or both feet.

The “opposite” of a plié is a relevé. A relevé is where the dancer will rise to the balls of her feet, or, if she is wearing pointe shoes, to the tips of her toes.

Here’s an example of a plié-relevé exercise at the barre:

 

Tendú means “to reach.” When a dancer does a tendú, she extends her leg in front, to the side, or behind her, with the toes touching the floor, like so:

 

The first step that William Darcy choreographs on Elizabeth in his piece is a piqué arabesque. In a piqué arabesque, a dancer steps onto the tip of her toes, with her leg extended in the air behind her. It looks like this:

Pique arabesque

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll be covering some other ballet basics topics on my blog, but let me know in the comments if there’s something in particular you’d like me to cover.