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Barre None: Concrete Jungle Explorations

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BAR NONNE SARA MEARNS
In this image released by the New York City Ballet, dancers, from left, Amar Ramasar, Sara Mearns, Robert Fairchild and Georgina Pazcoguin in Paul McCartney's "Ocean's Kingdom," Thursday, Sept. 22, 2011 in New York. (AP Photo/New York City Ballet, Paul Kolnik) | AP
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Welcome to Barre None, my new video blog exclusively on Huffington Post. I'm Sara Mearns and I hope to be your tour guide into the world of classical ballet. You might ask yourself, "Why a video blog that goes behind the scenes of a classical ballet dancer's daily life?" Because what you see on the stage does not begin to capture what ballet or our lives are all about. You see the performance, but what you don't see -- the rehearsals, the costume designs, the frazzled nerves, the learning of a new ballet, the constant travels around the world, the injuries and the oftentimes long, painful road to recovery that lead us to wonder if this is the injury that can end a career -- it's all a part of what we do and who we are.

I'm only one dancer, but I hope that by giving you a window into my life as a principal ballerina at New York City Ballet, a door will be opened to more interest, curiosity, and enthusiasm for this artform that I, and so many others, love and work so hard for. So come on in, pull up a seat, and join me every Friday. You'll have a great time. I promise. Barre None.

CONCRETE JUNGLE EXPECTATIONS

Spending two weeks away from New York is good for anyone who lives in New York. Space and time is something that no one has living in New York so you must leave to find it. So I did--to London and the beach. I am back now and couldn't be more excited. Not only am I booked every night for shows and dinners but I am working all day on a brand new ballet being created for me by Justin Peck. Starting a new creation is always a little nerve racking, especially if you haven't worked with the choreographer or partner before, which is the situation for me. I am dancing with a principal dancer from Amsterdam named Casey Herd who is a gorgeous, tall, manly man dancer who also happens to be a great partner. I wasn't nervous about working with him but I was nervous about working with Justin who is someone I see everyday in rehearsals and class at NYCB. I have watched his ballets for a year now and observed his rehearsals while I'm waiting for mine to start. To be honest, his movement is fast, expansive, exact, light but heavy, and challenging--everything I have wanted to be but haven't had the opportunity to take on. So I am finally getting the chance and all my fears of maybe not meeting his standards have faded. I feel like every time I walk into a new work, I have this fear deep down that I will fail the choreographer and that he might think he made the wrong choice in picking me.

As a dancer and an artist, you want--and your job is--to make the choreographer's imagination come to life. They are looking to you to realize their dream, to realize the music, the space and the movement. This can take time. At NYCB, time is cut in half and we have learned to realize and visualize those dreams in QuickTime. As soon as Justin and I got past the first half hour and uncertainty, it was like we were running a marathon and no one could catch us. He showed a sequence once and I did it. He showed me arms twice and they moved. The musicality in his body was immediately imprinted into mine and I heard everything he did and more. Today will be our fifth day working together and I trust we will finish the piece. It has been such a pleasure and world wind to work with such a young creative mind that gets my dancing and ran with it. Not once this week have I felt like I failed and let Justin down. I only hope that means I am realizing his imagination and that it will allow me to run with it all the way to the finish line.

Patience with yourself and with the choreographer is key to a successful partnership and to a successful piece. Study the music they have chosen to explore and make it become a part of your being. Feel every note as it's played and go beyond the barriers you've set for yourself. I feel so lucky to have had this collaboration fall into place and showcase to New York Justin Peck's vision and artistry for dance. If it wasn't for dreamers like him, dance would not be moving forward and it wouldn't be the coolest thing to be a part of.

See you next week.

Check out last week's video blog here.

You can find Sara Mearns on twitter here: @nycbstar2b.