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Barre None: Rehearsal In The Raw

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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

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.

REHEARSAL IN THE RAW

One of the best feelings in the world, for me, anyway, is watching your colleagues and being completely in awe and inspired by their performance.

I went to a performance tonight at the Joyce Theater to see a ballet company called
Ballet Collective, which was started by corps-de-ballet member Troy Schumacher. The company is compiled of both corps-de-ballet and soloists of New York City Ballet with choreography by Troy and live newly composed music. It was absolutely thrilling and aspirational. I grew up with all these amazingly talented young dancers and now look at what they have accomplished! You just never know where life will take you.

This week on my video blog, you are watching rehearsal footage of my colleagues and me learning a Jerome Robbins ballet called Concertino. We have an amazing coach, Bart Cook, who knows every step, every count, every head and arm like it is part of his own being. It's one of those ballets with hundreds of counts and everyone is doing something different but at the same time. We, unfortunately, have to do a crash course lesson so we can perform it next week in Spain. Luckily, all three of us dancers have been brought up in the NYCB school of learn everything in one day so we are able to download the information and spit it back out quickly.

But what has been truly amazing are the words of wisdom Bart Cook has shared with us just casually between teaching us an arm and a beat. My favorite is, "In the transitions is where the dance lives, it's where the artist is created and lives." He keeps stressing it's not about the end result or punching each step, it's how you get there and what lies beneath all the counts, turns, plies, and jumps. Anybody can do that but not everyone can get from one place another with grace and poise. "Don't ever lock your arms, the energy is completely cut off and you become short," he says. For him, teaching us this ballet has become his moment to impart knowledge that we will carry with us for the rest of our careers. We may not master it now in front of him in rehearsal, but some day, on stage, we will experience that feeling he wanted us to have, and at that moment, his job, his mission will have been complete. He notes that today, all people care about and want to see is how razzle-dazzle you can make each step or position, but not how you got there, and that the artistry has been left behind.

He is a true coach, a patient and kind soul who has a love and passion for his artform. His graciousness will carry me for the rest of my career and I hope I will be able to work with him again some day. It has been a great honor to work with him all week and I hope all of you find those great people who instill in you what he instilled in me--an awareness of movement and feeling, not just the obvious.

Check out last week's video blog here.

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