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.
Waking Up in Vegas...
Nothing prepares you for what you will witness and experience when visiting Las Vegas for the first time. Fortunately, I wasn't going for a bachelorette party or to gamble, both of which I hope to never do in Vegas, but I was there to perform at the beautiful new theater, The Smith Center for the Performing Arts.
We flew into Vegas at night so I got to be welcomed by the huge light show that the city shoots up into night sky. I had never seen anything like it - a pyramid next to the Eiffel Tower, next to the massive, over-the-top structures called Caesars Palace and the Bellagio. I knew this was going to be a trip to remember no matter what happened on stage.
Our hotel was in the older part of town and seemed to represent what the original Vegas used to look like, quite cute in places. Yet, I found it hard to actually tell a taxi driver or a friend that I was staying at the "Golden Nugget." I mean, you try saying it without laughing or cringing at the same time. Ha!
NYCB dancers were definitely the youngest people staying there, besides the occasional babies running around, which I found very strange. The pool had a shark tank in the middle of it and you could ride a water slide/tube through it, so of course many dancers had fun with it.
I was lucky enough to have my two dearest friends there with me, who are not dancers. They changed their trip to be in Vegas at the same time. So every night after the show, I would take the absurdly over-priced taxi to the Vegas Strip and meet them wherever they were. That's when I seemed to not take my hands off my face in shock and amazement at what I saw around me. It seemed all surfaces, ceilings, tables, walls, and buildings were one big mirror. Everything was reflecting off something else and had lights flashing around it. I had also never seen so many slot machines in my life, making it take at least 10 minutes to reach where I wanted to go in the casino because I had to walk through all the slot machines and poker tables.
Safe to say that the food and the service in Vegas is top notch. All my dinners were amazing. Yes, overpriced, but I guess that's allowed in a place like Vegas. I also went to a Burlesque show production called "Jubilee," which is what the movie "Showgirls" was based on. I really wanted to be able to share that with you, but the outfits and subject matter at times were just not appropriate. But wow what a show! It included gymnasts standing on each other's heads, a man swinging from a single piece of fabric, and then, of course, some of the most outrageous feathered head dresses you have ever seen. The women were dressed in nothing but jewels, and there were about 100 of them standing on stage at once.
We then went to a place called The Chandelier, which was literally a massive chandelier built in the center of the casino, scaling at least three stories high with thousands of real crystals strung all around us. It was actually beautiful. We were literally sitting in a chandelier drinking champagne! Fabulous.
Besides being part of all that, performing in Vegas was really a lot of fun. The audiences were great, and I had some really good shows. I danced a Jerome Robbins piece titled In the Night and a Christopher Wheeldon piece, Polyphonia. My partner, Jon Stafford, and I had a really magical performance during In the Night. It's like it all came together, and we were one. After all these years of doing this ballet, I never really felt comfortable in the role until now. It was definitely a show I will never forget. Just goes to show that all the hard work and rehearsals will pay off one day. Just be patient and never stop trying.
Las Vegas is a place that everyone should visit at least once in their lives. There are some beautiful, spectacular shows to see and good food to eat. And I guess if you like to gamble, then have at it! I hope you enjoy the video and now off to St Louis!!
Make sure to follow me on Instagram to see more fun photos of my trips and updates on my upcoming performances! See you next week...
Check out last week's video blog here.
You can find Sara Mearns on twitter here: @nycbstar2b.