Saturday, October 22, 2016

Suzanne Farrell Ballet

I'm just leaving the Suzanne Farrell Ballet's presentation of a Balanchine three-fer: Danses Concertantes, Gounod Symphony, and Stars and Stripes. I really thought I was going to arrive late due to traffic, but I managed to get seated minutes before the lights dimmed. Whew!

I usually prefer story ballets, as I can get bored with nothing but patterns of dancers regardless of technical challenge. Danses Concertantes is an exception. I really enjoyed watching the trios do their thing. There was one duo; oddly I thought the male dancer of this duo was a bit uneven, doing some harder steps well then being shaky on simpler steps. But overall I really liked it a lot more than I expected to.

I expected to like Gounod Symphony more, as it's a classical ballet with lots of dancers. Technically they were very good, but I found myself thinking some of the principal parts were slowly paced. Maybe my preferences are shifting?

Stars and Stripes was fun. Despite the women's corp looking a bit like the June Taylor Dancers -- on pointe --  at the beginning, it got better and better. All in all a fun afternoon.

I do have one question, though. Why can't women jump? A man doing a tour jete has three movements: up, rotate, land. A woman doing the same step appears to do it as one motion, with the landing happening almost at the same time the other foot leaves the ground. Is this stylistic or a physical limitation?

Thursday, October 6, 2016

World Ballet Day

Tuesday was World Ballet Day. In honor of this I dragged myself down to the studio and took a class.

Ballet simply is not one of those things you can do once in a while. I started getting cramps in my calf muscles within minutes of the start of barre, and thanks to the big mouth of one of the other students we finished barre with a bunch of one-legged relevés. Apparently this is what our instructor calls a "restorative" class. I bailed out after barre, feeling less than restored.

Yesterday I was limping. Last night I had to get up and stretch several times. Even now, two days later, I'm still a bit sore.

On the other hand, I think my balance is still improving. I didn't try any turns but I was able to hold various demi-pointe positions balanced on one foot for longer than I remember being able to before.

I think I just need to get back into the habit of going to class on a regular basis.

Monday, September 19, 2016


Recognizing that I really need to get back to class more regularly but won't be able to make it Tuesday evening, i decided to attend class this morning. This class is officially the same level as the Tuesday night class, but in actuality is easier both in movement and in mental challenge.

Despite this, however, my legs gave the same "WTF?!" reactions, though perhaps a little less stridently. That aside, my balance seems okay and I didn't have any real difficulty with barre aside from not being as flexible as I'd like.

At the break one of the new (to me) faces approached me and asked if I was the author of this blog. For a half moment I wondered if I should deny it, but then my ego took over and admitted to it. Apparently I have a local fan! She doesn't normally go to weekend or evening classes and I don't go to weekday classes due to my work schedule, so this is the first time we've run into each other. I guess I'll have to keep the embellishments of my ballet prowess to a minimum from now on. I'll leave it to her to admit her guilt if she chooses. :-)

Center work proceeded fairly reasonably until about the 75 minute mark, when I started feeling like I'd run out of steam. Fortuitously this happened just before jumps, which I didn't want to do anyway given the state of my legs and feet, so I took a breather and watched from the sidelines instead. I did feel much better when we started turns (two step-over piques followed by a chassé, pas de bourrée, pirouette sequence) so I joined back in. The last bit was quite simple - échappé, pas de bourrée, glissade, assemblé - which went well other than finding my legs wanted to glissade right even when everything else was moving left. I guess that will go away with practice.

After class I was sore and stiff for the first few hours, but that seems to have mostly dissipated. I'm hoping that continues i to tomorrow, as the day after the previous class I walked only with great stiffness.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Worst Part

The worst part of not going to class for three whole months is the first class. I have cramps in my calf muscles, in my feet, below my diaphragm, and an ache in my lower back. And this after only 75 minutes of a 90 minute class. At least I was smart enough to leave the bottle of ibuprofen in my dance bag.

I guess the good news is that I finally got off my ass and went to class. Sitting on my butt all the time hasn't done me any good.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

A visit to the Podiatrist
So I haven't been posting much recently. This is probably related to not going to class much. See, for the last few months my feet have been aching in the heel and the posterior edge of my longitudinal arches. This happens every morning when I get out of bed, and when I get up after sitting for a while. Various massage therapists have applied the tricks of their trades, but nothing much changed.

A couple weeks ago I drove my girlfriend to see her podiatrist. I liked the guy, and while I was there I asked about getting an appointment for myself. Today I had my own appointment and he identified the problem as bone spurs on my heels at the posterior end of the longitudinal arch. These develop when the ligaments and tendons start to tear away from the bones under stress. When my feet aren't under stress things start to heal, only to be torn again when I stand up and walk. Thus the ache.

The "good" news is that he doesn't blame ballet. He points his finger at the boots I wore this past winter, saying they flex in the wrong place and twist where they should be stiff. I'm about to buy a pair of new hiking boots (the soles of my old ones are badly worn) and now I know what to look for and what to avoid.

He also says that they've learned that surgery is not indicated for this sort of problem. He thinks they'll heal over time, given the opportunity. He hand-made a pair of soft arch supports from tape and padding that slide over my feet to support the arch. Although he said I could go to class wearing these supports, I'm going to be away from classes for a few weeks more for other reasons. Maybe the break will aid the healing process.