You've seen it from Steven's eyes, now here's a look at what a day is like for Mia Leimkuhler, another OBT dancer that has agreeably let us virtually job shadow her for a day.
My very interesting life:
Gavin's been sending out emails, cajoling us for war stories, and I've racked my brain for a few. But really, I have nothing. Sure, I have odds and ends of mishaps and sordid details of behind-the-scenes type things, but they all seem like inside jokes: I'm not wholly sure they're amusing to anyone else but me and the people directly involved. I'm not sure, for example, that most people would find it funny that when we found out we'd have to run Nutcracker Act II all over again during one rehearsal, Matthew Pippin announced that Christmas was cancelled. But the fact remains that I'm pretty sure my life as a ballet dancer isn't exactly thrilling or wildly interesting. If they made a TV show based on my life I'm pretty sure people would change the channel after about five minutes because 1. it's exasperatingly boring, or 2. they can't understand the random things that are coming out of my incoherent mouth. So, my normal day:
I wake up every day at 7:40am. There, that's one hint to the deep-running OCD that accounts for so many of my idiosyncrasies--I wake up at 7:40 because it's ten minutes more sleep than 7:30 but five minutes more time than if I woke up at 7:45. And by wake up I mean that I am up, I am resetting the alarm that rouses me from my slumber with the classical radio station. I know a lot of dancers who don't eat breakfast (something about not being able to eat anything early in the morning), but I can't imagine that. Breakfast gets me out of bed. I honestly get excited if I wake up and remember that I have fresh berries in my fridge or a shiny, brand-spanking new box of cereal to rip into (for the record, I'm disturbingly addicted to the frosted flakes they sell at Whole Foods). I learned the hard way, though, to put my glasses on before embarking upon breakfast; when you're groggy and partially blind the carton of chicken broth looks identical to the carton of soymilk.
I drive to the studio around nine-ish, earlier if I have physical therapy that morning or later if I couldn't manage to put together a decent-looking normal, pedestrian, non-lycra/microfiber outfit. Once at OBT I change into a non-pedestrian lycra/microfiber outfit, coax my hair into something that resembles a French twist and stretch out my major muscle groups before class begins at ten. Once class begins we all focus and work very hard.
Rehearsals are scheduled in blocks from 11:45 to 2:30 and 3:30 to 5:30, and depending what I'm rehearsing/involved in I could have a short day (read: out of the building by 2:30) or be at OBT until 5:30. We rehearse the ballets that are to be performed in the next program, or even in the program after that. There's always something to be rehearsed, fine-tuned and perfected, and I'm happiest when I'm in the studio pouring myself into a piece of choreography. Fun fact: In a rehearsal day that lasts until 5:30, I usually go through a wardrobe change of about three or so leotards. Those things become un-ladylike-ly (I'm fully aware that that isn't a word) sweaty and stinky and really, it's no fun being in a wet lycra onesie. So by the end of a full-day rehearsal week I've plowed through at least fifteen leotards and just as many pairs of tights. Not to mention a week's worth of normal-people clothes. So much laundry! This is why I dream of having a lovely washer and dryer set in my own apartment. Not in my own building, which I have, but physically in my apartment. My heart flutters at the thought of never having to make that desperate run to Trader Joe's at 8:57pm to buy, oh, a tin of mints and ask for a roll of quarters as my cash back.
Once home I throw down my bag, kick off my shoes, open my fridge and think about dinner. That's a lie, I've most likely been thinking about dinner since four pm. I'm quite good about cooking for myself. It's a good way to save money, I make lunches of leftovers, and by cooking for myself I ensure that I'm eating exactly what I want prepared exactly the way I want it. My fridge is abnormally full; I've learned this by peering into the fridges of friends and coworkers. Not only does my Fridgidaire contain aforementioned leftovers from previous meals, but the leftovers of the ingredients that went into said meals, various condiments for various cuisines (Asian sauces, salsas, jams and confits, the ubiquitous ketchup/catsup and about half a dozen mustards), and the binding building blocks of baking (hello, alliteration!)--eggs, butter, sugar, flour. The only fridge I've seen that resembles my apocalyptic food vessel is that of my downstairs neighbor, and she has two other mouths to feed. I only have to account for my own. But I like cooking, and a little pottering about in the kitchen is a nice way to unwind. Except for when I burn myself or realize I'm missing one crucial ingredient. Then it's not so relaxing.
After dinner there's email, the gym, French class on Wednesday nights, television (sweet, sweet HBO), shower, reading, bed. Elaboration: the gym happens because it helps keep my stamina up if I'm not rehearsing much in a given week, plus I enjoy the endorphins and it ensures that I'm wiped out and will hopefully sleep well. French class is a recent development, I'm enjoying being back in a school environment and fall upon my homework with what can best be described as furious purposefulness. I indulged in HBO this past summer and, like any true addict who's "only trying it and will give it up really soon," I'm, well, not. I climb into bed squeaky clean and read until my eyelids become very heavy and I realize that I've been reading the same sentence for the past five minutes. I click my bedside lamp off, compile a mental list of what needs to be done tomorrow, and with any luck I'm out.
It's not all that interesting, and aside from the spandex part it's probably close to any other working stiff's day. Granted that I have to pay more attention to the upkeep of my body more than, say, the guy at Trader Joe's who begrudgingly hands me a roll of quarters, but everything before and after the OBT part seems like a fairly common routine. When people ask me to describe what my life is like, what my working hours are and what I do with them, I explain that my job as a dancer with OBT functions like your given nine-to-five job, except that instead of sitting at a desk behind a computer I'm on my feet, dancing around. They then nod and look at me as if I'm five. Or crazy. Or else they ask me if I'm going to school (ha, I can now say yes, thank you non-credit French class!) or if I went to school. Usually I'm honest, explaining that instead of going to college I took my job with OBT, that essentially I found a job right out of high school (you know, just like Kobe Bryant).