Summer Program Diary: Mia Ortega

We’re taking a brief break from our Wednesday Meet the Artist series to spotlight a young voice from our education programs.

Throughout this summer, young dancers around the world participated in the LINES Ballet Summer Program: three sessions of intensive online training that challenged students to discover themselves as artists and as human beings. We have been so inspired by the work of these hungry, curious, receptive students as well as the incredible dedication of our faculty, pianists, and staff. Like our in-studio program, our online summer offerings were rooted in Alonzo’s philosophies and included a diverse curriculum of Ballet, GYROKINESIS®, LINES Ballet Repertoire, mentoring and more.

For an insider’s perspective, we asked student Mia Ortega to share her reflections over the course of the Advanced session. A resident of Oakland, California, Mia was introduced to LINES Ballet at our Discovery Project workshop back in January, where she was awarded a scholarship to the Summer Program.

DAY ONE

On my first day, I experienced my first GYROKINESIS® class. My feet and calves/achilles have never felt so stretched out before a ballet class.

My favorite class today was Repertoire where we learned part of Rasa with Caroline Rocher. It was a challenge because we were given fast music and you had to execute the poses in a short amount of time. But you also had to connect it, and just be staccato. When we watched Rasa before we learned part of it, what I enjoyed most about it was that – no matter how slow or fast, low or high they were while executing every shape and position – the dancers were always in control. It was so inspiring!

Excerpts from Rasa

DAY TWO

With what I said yesterday, as I learn more of the Rasa choreography, my goal today and all week is to find that control that I saw in these professional dancers. How can I execute all of these shapes into a short period of time, without looking like I’m crazy, while maintaining feline movements?

It’s a lot, and it’s so fun at the end.

Moving to my next class, Movement Research was focused a lot on entering more thresholds. David [Harvey] had us close our eyes – it allowed me to let my body control me instead of me. It felt a lot different which led me to an unknown territory making this exercise successful.


DAY THREE

The highlight of my day was working with the guest artists Tiffany Tregarthen and David Raymond. We learned rep that Tiffany performed a couple months ago. It was so fun. We portrayed revisers and each movement followed a word. This piece was a challenge for me because I’m used to imagining I am a natural element or an animal. My job was to be funny and literally translate the director’s words with my body.

The mentor one-on-one meeting was very beneficial. I asked Caroline [Rocher] not only about the repertoire class, but also my next steps to my life in dance and her early professional years in dance. It’s nice to know how these amazing dancers began their careers.


DAY FOUR

Leonardo da Vinci’s “Vitruvian Man”

Improvisation with David [Harvey] brought a whole new aspect to improv. I learned so much including the nine point diagram and invisible bubble like da Vinci’s “Vitruvian Man”. The goal was to find points with your body not only in the front, but also in the back. I discovered the importance of stillness – finding parts of my body to articulate and then suddenly stopping. After the end of this class, I was given so many new ideas.

This summer program gave me the platform to talk about my feelings as a dance student in training. Critical Perspectives in Dance with Molly [Rogers] was very eye-opening. We talked about the #boysdancetoo movement. It was awesome to have the opportunity to hear dance students express their feelings. As people who go through this art form, we never get to speak on it. It’s always the outside world coming in with their opinions and stereotypes. All of us today got to share how we felt in this specific world because we actually go through it, not news reporters from Good Morning America. They just want to make fun of these hard working bad asses which is ridiculous because these reporters pay to see them perform. So I don’t get it. I am looking forward to next week’s discussion.

Some other thoughts: Experiencing a summer dance intensive during a pandemic is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It’s good and bad. The bad is shown through my Zoom kicking me out multiple times during my improvisation class on Thursday and some of my dance mates experiencing a power outage mid-ballet class today. It’s such a fun experience because nothing can stop us dance students from receiving the training we need. It will be funny to look back on.


DAY SIX

It was such a nice experience working with Alonzo King. It was definitely a challenge, but it was a great learning experience. I wasn’t as connected with my body today as the past few days, but the corrections he gave helped a lot with the choreography. Class with Mr. King made me appreciate my knowledge of ballet vocabulary and terms, because Mr. King was seated all of the two hours. But he was so clear to what he wanted, so it was easy to understand the material.

Mr. King said something that really stuck with me and made me realize something about myself. He said, “coming into the habit of action, cuts off imagination.” This made me realize how much I stay inside my bubble. I need to push myself out of my comfort zone. What can I do to push myself to my fullest potential? Never play it safe, take risks! You only learn from your mistakes.

An excerpt from class with Alonzo King

FINAL REFLECTIONS

My overall experience at the LINES Summer Program was amazing. I have learned so much. I see growth in myself between these two weekends. The teachers I have learned from were so welcoming and they shared with me so many concepts, corrections, and ideas to help me on my dance journey.

LINES Ballet Online Advanced Summer Program participants at the final showing

In these two weeks, I have been faced with challenges everyday that have pushed me out of my comfort zone. I am sad that this program was only for two weeks – it really flew by fast. Attending the program via Zoom has been a difficult experience for me and everyone else. However, even though I was looking at my dance mates for multiple hours a day on a screen, I was still able to feed off them and stay inspired.

I would recommend this program to all of my friends. LINES has created a safe and friendly environment!

Photo of Mia: © Mark & Tracy Photography