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.
Music From Within the Kennedy Center
Someone asked me recently to give them a quote in two sentences about how I feel when I step on stage and I am dancing to a live orchestra playing classical music. At first I didn't even want to respond. I thought to myself: Is it even possible to describe the feelings that emerge on stage? Would any word or sentence do justice to the harmony that dance and live music create? All my answers were 'no,' but I had no choice and after an exhausting line of emails, a quote was settled on. I don't blame them for wanting to know what it feels like, but I do blame the fact that it is not possible to describe what takes over me and carries me through.
Even as I am writing this, I'm listening to one of the most beautiful violin concertos written, 'Barber Violin Concerto'. I don't remember classical music always being such an inspiration to me, but I do remember always being surrounded by it. It's the only thing my mom would play in the car. It's what I would dance to everyday in ballet class. It's what I would perform to starting at age four. However, it was only when I got to New York City Ballet and started to hear all the unbelievable pieces being played that I really started to have a passion for it. It has come so far now that I try to get to the New York Philharmonic at least once a week to hear whatever they have to offer (and yes, even during New York City Ballet's performing seasons, I am that crazy.). How can you not take advantage of something right across the plaza from your theater?
Anyway, I am not sure why I am writing about it this week. Maybe because I am dancing to incredible music like Swan Lake, Vienna Waltzes, Serenade, and Symphony in C. All these ballets are choreographed by George Balanchine and he only used the best music. Everytime one of these ballets begins, I stand there in the wings just listening to the orchestra play its heart out and I start to tear up, and smile, and goosebumps cover my entire body. I am the luckiest girl in the world to be dancing and pouring my heart and soul into something so beautiful. Tonight during Swan Lake, I reached a point of no return and I feel like I am exploding from the inside out. I even start crying on stage at the end when I have to leave my partner on stage, heart broken. I guess you could say I am one for the dramatic. Haha!
My advice to anyone reading this, particularly young dancers, is this: In order to be a true artist on stage, you have to know what music you are dancing to and you have to really understand it and fill out every inch of it. Never cut a note short, never go before the note has happened. The music will tell you what to do. I have at least 25 playlists on my iPod of all my favorite ballets. In my opinion, the music must be your first passion and the dancing will follow. I promise you: Trust the music with your emotions.
Check out last week's video blog here.
You can find Sara Mearns on twitter here: @nycbstar2b.