Sunday, December 30, 2018

HOW many ballet schools?

This is being written on my phone. When I get to a real computer I'll translate initials in the first section to names and links.

I'm told the Berrend Dance Centre in Olney, Md., is moving to Derwood (the no-man's land between Rockville and Gaithersburg) early next year. That means there will be three schools with quality instructors in a fairly small radius (the others being MSD and MBT). Expand the radius a bit more and you pick up MYB and TSWB. Child, teen, or adult, there's no shortage of quality ballet instruction along I-270.

I wonder if I should post a map?

The holidays this year have screwed with my ballet class schedule. Both Christmas and New Year's fell on Tuesdays. Last weekend I went to class Sunday morning. This weekend I made the questionable choice of attending Saturday and Sunday morning classes. I'm wondering how hard it will be to get out of bed tomorrow.

I may have mentioned a month or two ago that a classmate had missed the last step on a flight of stairs and sprained her ankle badly. And by "badly" I mean unable to put any weight on it, needing crutches to get around at all, and even driving being impractical. This is bad for anyone, but for someone who dances ballet (and en pointe at that) it's worse. Not only does it affect simple things like being able to go grocery shopping, but the muscles, skills and balance you've spent years developing immediately start deteriorating.

Her physical therapists were telling her she might be able to get back to class in mid-January. She told me she expected to start back in the Beginner I classes for a bit to get her flexibility and strength back, which would be the safe, rational thing to do. So I was surprised to see her in the Beginner II class Saturday. So much for safe and rational, eh? But I know the frustration.

During class I really can't pay much attention to anything but what I'm doing and the space immediately around me, but from what I did see it looked like she was doing okay. Some of the exercises she took on demi-pointe, but a lot of the time she stood on that foot flat to keep the stress and strain down. Wisely she took her leave just before we got to jumps in centre. She's always been one of my favorites to watch during class and I hope she recovers well and completely.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

After three weeks...

I promised myself I'd work my way back up to three classes a week. Then I caught a nasty bug which kept me out of work for over a week, and out of class for three. Tuesday I finally got back to class.

I've learned that I really need to devote warm-up time to my hip flexors. Doing so dramatically increases my stability in turns, probably because I can stand more erect with more effort when I'm not fighting tight hip flexors. I managed to get to class about 15 minutes early, and after stretching I managed one decent double pirouette and several 1.5 turn pirouettes before class started.

Barre was fine and I didn't have any real trouble following even the tricksey little patterns our instructor had us do. On the other hand, I was more stiff than usual and my calf muscles felt really tight, and I felt more winded than usual. Centre was going fine until I started getting muscle spasms in my back, probably more from lack of exercise than anything else. I ended up bailing on the rest of the class.

Thursday morning my calf muscles felt really stiff so I didn't even pack my dance bag.

This morning I convinced myself that I really needed to go to class, but left so late that as I ran past the studio on my way to the dressing room they were already starting barre. So much for my pre-class warm-up! I'd dressed in my dance gear at home with jeans over my shorts for warmth and appearance, so all I needed to do in the dressing room was take off my coat, shoes, and jeans. Which is fortunate, as yet another father decided that the men's dressing room was the right place for his young daughter to change.

Remember my rant last month about this very problem? And how the desk unicorn... err... staffer had jumped up to make a sign? Here's a picture of the men's dressing room door. Note the prominent labeling "MEN'S DRESSING ROOM". As in, a place where men may be changing clothes. Note also the newer sign explicitly stating "do NOT change your daughters in the men's dressing room". Do people really not read?

Maybe there are just too many words for them to absorb. Maybe they should just mount this sign on the door?

There are a whole bunch of signs like this on Amazon and other sites. Apparently they're intended for "Man Caves". Wouldn't a men's dressing room be considered a "Man Cave"?

Anyway... I managed to scurry into class (remember... class?) about half-way through the first barre exercise. This instructor always gives the same first barre exercise, so it wasn't a problem to jump in. Overall class went pretty well. Some of my turns were pretty well executed (and some not, but I see improvement) and I felt like I remembered the sequences pretty well.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

The staff are not idots. But the patrons are.

Thursday I was all set to go to class in the evening, but life intervened. I'm really trying to get back to a regular schedule for the winter, so I told myself I'd definitely go this weekend.

This morning I was kind of ambivalent about going to class. Eventually I convinced myself to get ready and made it to the studio with enough time for a brief warmup. Barre was good, though it seemed a bit more challenging than usual. One of our regular classmates who takes barre on pointe came in just before we started, and I honestly think this instructor tailors her class based on who shows up; for example. a student on pointe pretty well guarantees more releves.

I didn't get as much sleep last night as I would have liked, and I burned a lot of energy during barre. Normally I recover during the break before centre, but today I was still feeling very tired when class started again. I walked through the explanation of the first combination with everyone else, and while it absorbed the sequence pretty well I just didn't feel up to continuing. I grabbed my bag, nodded to the instructor, and took an early exit.

Normally I'd consider this a partial waste of time, but not today. It was an unusually long barre and I felt like I got a good workout. I just felt like I'd run out of energy, and if I'd forced myself to continue I doubt I would have been very stable.

Maybe I'll go again tomorrow morning.

We now interrupt our regularly scheduled blog entry for a rant...

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

A Double Pirouette! And Tours!

Recently I've been having trouble with turns, which I've been blaming on the humidity making the floor sticky. Now that we've entered heating season the floors are dry and no longer sticky. Today after barre I seemed to be doing piroouettes pretty well and I decided to try a double. It worked! This is the first time in years. I'm pretty happy about that.

Last Tuesday evening we had six or seven students. Tonight we had 15 or 16, including three other men. Something about Halloween, I guess. Speaking of which, the two front desk staffers were dressed as a unicorn and a llama.

Our instructor decided for some reason that we should do tours. We've never done tours in the 5(?) years I've been in her classes. I tried these a couple of times during the Adult Weekend Workshop a few years back and every time I ended up flat on my back. And I mean that literally. This is one of the reasons I knew I was leaning back during turns and I've tried to train myself out of that. Since everyone else was going to do tours I figured I might as well try, and while they weren't pretty I didn't fall. So that's two good things tonight.

The sad news is one of my favorite classmates, one who usually takes class in pointe shoes, missed the last step of the stairs she was going down last week and sprained her foot. Nothing is broken, but even now she can barely put weight on it and still can't walk. Nothing is broken, though, and her doctor thinks it should heal just fine in time. She's understandably very unhappy about it and will be out of class for several weeks.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Dancing ballet is like a drug addiction

Someone asked me today why I was walking slowly and rather deliberately. I explained that I'd gone back to class after a few weeks away. Like a drug addiction, staying at your usual dose is fine, and while taking too much is bad, quitting and restarting is worse.

Okay, so it's an imperfect analogy, but it's the one that came to mind.