Sunday, September 14, 2014

Still going... and going... and going...

I'm up to my neck in work, and updating this blog keeps falling off the list of things I have time to do. But I'm still getting to two classes a week, most weeks. It's a lot more fun than going to a gym, so I make time for it.

Today in my Beginner 2 class several things happened that hadn't happened before. During barre we did one sequence which ended with a sous-sus, passe retire on demi-pointe with a pause at the highest point, and back to sous-sus with the working foot on the other side. Going to sous-sus I had both arms in high fifth, and decided to try keeping them there. And it worked! I was stable all the way through raising my working foot, the pause, and lowering my foot, all without reaching for the barre. I wish I could say I did this on both sides (I can't) but it was something of a thrill.

In centre we were doing pique turns at (for me) an excruciatingly slow speed. The first time across the room I was having trouble matching pace with the music, and our instructor made a general comment that we should treat each turn independently rather than as a series. The second time across I did just that, and found I was able to hold the demi-pointe balance after each turn before deliberately stepping down for the next. This is a new experience for me. Maybe there is benefit to these slowly-paced turns that I hadn't considered before.

My spotting is also improving. I don't have the rotational flexibility to be able to track a spot far enough that I can flip my head around and immediately see it (and the need for glasses doesn't help) but its becoming more instinctive to look for the spot as I turn. Hypothetically this should help avoid getting dizzy.

Unfortunately, one of my other new experiences was a serious bout of motion sickness after all the turns. So much so that I had to sit down in a corner for the last few minutes of class. I've been dizzy in class on many occasions, but I don't think I've ever felt sick to my stomach. Bleagh.

Still, I decided to challenge myself by taking the Advanced Beginner class immediately following B2. Fortunately I'd stuffed a second shirt in my bag so I didn't have to do barre in a dripping-wet shirt. I didn't have much trouble with barre, aside from one sequence that confused many of the regulars. One of the sequences went from degage a la seconde on demi-pointe to a fondue derrierre, to attitude derrierre on demi-pointe, through enveloppe to a tendu avant with a demi-plie. We did this sequence a couple of times on both sides, and once I did the whole thing without touching the barre. This is starting to feel like dancing! Woo woot!

Friday, August 15, 2014

A hurting puppy

Here I am in San Jose again, recovering from another beginner-level class at Ballet San Jose. Kudos to the instructor for remembering me from the two classes I took from her two months ago!

I managed to get to class a half hour early, giving myself time to stretch beforehand. Unexpectedly we scored a live pianist for the evening, which was nice.

Barre was a faster pace than I'm used to, but I didn't find any of the patterns terribly difficult. Releves, though... I just can't do as many as the instructor expects. I made it through two of the three sets in parallel, then had to stop. I was counting myself lucky until she started again in first. I'm just going to have to learn to quit earlier and not try to keep up with this crazy woman.

Center started with a lot of balancing on one leg. Developpe en croix followed by a rond-de-jambe en l'air, all while standing on one foot. Mostly stable with occasional falling over. I think I'm clenching my standing foot, because it started hurting about half way through.

The turns across the floor were pretty simple: two regular pique turns, a step-over pique turn closing to fifth, and tendu to prepare for the next set. I acquitted myself pretty well, though the floor was seriously sticky. The music was a bit slower than I'd have preferred, but a bit too fast for me to feel comfortable attempting to do it double-speed as a few of the better students did.

Jumps were nothing exciting, though by then I was tired and ready to be done.

As I was leaving, the instructor told me she thought I'd done quite well. It's good to hear that on occasion. I told her I'd try to make it to Friday night's class.

I don't know if I'm going to keep that promise, though. Not quote re-hydrated from the 5+ hour flight out here, I had a bout of nasty cramps in my quads early this morning. I've been drinking water like mad ever since, hoping to avoid a repeat, but my calf muscles are still badly knotted from all the releves. Tomorrow I may go in search of some Gatorade. If I do make it to class tomorrow, I'm definitely going to skip some of those releves. Otherwise they'll have to wheel me onto the airplane Saturday.

Monday, July 28, 2014

(Re)Learning to turn

We had a substitute instructor yesterday. She normally teaches at The Washington Ballet school, but is covering for our regular instructor who has personal obligations this week. She's really good, but unfortunately doesn't appear to teach adult evening classes.

One of the sequences in center included two pirouettes en dehor. The humidity level was lower, and floor didn't feel so sticky. While we were marking the sequence I found that my turns in one direction felt far more stable than usual, with less of a tendency to fall out of it at the end. I concentrated on repeating that success, and by the time we moved on most of my turns in both directions ended with the feeling of being balanced. If I can do that consistently I'll be much happier.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

That's dancing

Has it really been over a month since my last post? Wow. I suspect it's because my usual time for blogging is while eating after class, and recently I've spent that time being social. Cuz it's not because I haven't been going to class.

Tuesday evening the instructor was apparently feeling inspired, having recently returned from a reunion of sorts with her dance academy classmates. This resulted in the center work being rather lyrical with a lot of emphasis on making the steps flow together. Thus the comment she made to the effect of, "It's not a series of separate steps; they blend together. That's dancing!"

Despite getting to two classes a week (Tue & Sun) on a regular basis, I've been feeling quite tight. Yeah, yeah, not enough stretching between classes. Somehow, during barre, I managed to overstretch something in the outside of my left heel. Not a "pop" but just a little ache. This is the tendon that supports a lot of the weight when on demi-pointe, and the ache got a bit worse as class progressed. I ended up skipping most of the jumps at the end of class as a result. I limped a bit after class as it tightened up, and I'm still walking a bit stiffly. I'm going to give it more warm-up time before class Sunday.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Still almost invisible

Ballet San José is experimenting with holding an adult beginner class on Friday evenings, and I managed to go. The same instructor in the same room; the big difference is that I arrived 30 minutes ahead of time so I could stretch before class. I think seven of us showed up, one of whom is a young man who I think said he'd just started a college dance degree.

Again, barre took over an hour. I thought the instructor was going to give us a break on the relevés but I was mistaken. This time, however, rather than trying to hang tough I simply stopped when my legs said so, thus avoiding the later lack of control due to twitching, shaking, and other signs of muscle exhaustion. Aside from that it was a good workout.

With only about 20 minutes left for center work we only did a few exercises. We started with a simple tendu, lift, hold, close to fifth sequence en croix. Then we did a variation of the pirouette preparation exercise, which is something I want to practice on my own, followed by the combination tombé, pas de bourrée, plié in fourth, pirouette en dehor to fifth avant, tendu and repeat across the floor. We then did some simple jumps (changement and echappée) in place, which was followed by a sequence of sauté arabesque with opposite arms, step through, chassé and repeat. Then came reverance and we were done.

I was going to entitle this posting "still invisible", but I did get two comments. One was to raise my arms higher during pirouettes, and the other I've forgotten. I'd guess I'm in the upper 1/3rd of this group. I'm not terribly impressed, but it's an OK place to go so I don't miss a whole week of classes on these trips.