Monday, April 24, 2017

She missed me!

After having attended the Tuesday night Beginner II classes for two straight weeks I missed last week. I had a good excuse: I had a regular conflicting activity that night. To try and keep up my involvement I went to class Saturday morning instead.

This instructor always uses the same first barre exercise, something I'm thankful for, as it lets me get settled without having to learn a new routine. It's also her habit to walk from one end of the studio to the other during exercises to get different perspectives of the class. This time, though, she came up to the opposite side of the portable barre I was using and said softly, "Missed you Tuesday."

Awww! She missed me! It didn't seem the right moment to hold a conversation so I answered only briefly, but at the break I explained about the periodic scheduling conflict and she replied that she was trying to encourage me to stick with class as a regular thing. Thanks, me too.

Our weather has been really crazy this year. After a few days where the temperature reached the low 80s it dropped back into the 50s. Saturday was cold and rainy outside, which meant the air conditioning didn't need to run to keep the studio temperature down. However, that also meant that it wasn't taking the moisture out of the air, and the studio felt like a bathroom after a shower. The windows had condensation on their insides, and walking on the normally-nice marley floors sounded like there was tape stuck to the bottoms of my slippers. I stayed into the first center exercise, then decided the heat, humidity, and sticky floor were a bad combination and excused myself to go have dinner and lots of water.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Oh wow, I'm sore!

I'm sore, and not just in the places I'd expect. I'm not surprised that my hip flexors are sore. Nor my calf muscles or feet. But my shoulders and neck? This almost feels like that achy feeling you get when you're sick. I hope that's not it.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

How I wish I was 26 again!

When you're in your 20s your body rebounds faster. Not when you're in your 50s.

Barre seems to be fine. I'm still getting some incipient cramps in my calf muscles and feet, but not as bad as last week. Last week I bailed after the first exercise in centre. This week I stayed "till the end, but skipped several of the exercises. Somehow in the last year I've gained 5 lbs which isn't helping.

It's something I've said here before, but I'll say it again. I either need to do this on a regular basis or stop. And I don't think stopping would be a good idea.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Still not dead

I went to class this evening! Woot!

My balance is good. My calf muscles are not.

Now I'm going to bed.

Monday, February 20, 2017


Instead of going to class yesterday I went to see Allegiance, a movie presentation of the Broadway play featuring George Takei, which addresses the shameful forced relocation and internment of 120,000 American citizens and residents of Japanese descent during World War II. I consider it time well spent.

I'd tell everyone to go, but there was only one showing nation-wide, and that was Sunday, February 19th, 2017, the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066, known as the the Day of Remembrance. Maybe it'll come out in DVD form, or in the cinemas again. Watch for it.

This afternoon I got a message from the ballet teacher from the school west of me, letting me know that they would be holding class tonight and asking me if I would like to attend. It's rarely practical for me to do so because I work on the other side of the city and the commute is prohibitive. However, on those occasions when my client has a Monday day off, sometimes I drop in.

I really didn't plan on it, but having missed class yesterday I decided to go. This class is only an hour, rather than the 90 minute classes I'm used to, but lacks the break after barre. I did a lot of walking yesterday, and for some reason this made my calf muscles feel tight and knotted. I didn't get there early enough to have much time to stretch before class, so I did have some issues with them cramping. Still it was a good workout.

Afterward, as I went to settle the bill, the owner of the studio remarked, "Oh! Your teacher has told all about you. I hear you're very good." Huh? What? I've been in classes with people who are good. I'm better described as "very persistent." Then I noticed a familiar face passing the desk. It was Runqiao Du, former principal dancer with the Washington Ballet, former principal dancer with the Suzanne Farrell Ballet, full-time lecturer at Towson University, and former artistic director at ADI, where I took classes a few years ago. He's now a "guest instructor" at this school. Now that's "very good." For a little hole-in-the-wall studio, they're bringing in some serious talent.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Embrace your Bowl

Every class there is some key phrase uttered that I want to use as a title. Some days I even remember them.

This one comes as part of an explanation of keeping your hips level while raising one leg. Think of your pelvis as a bowl full of hot liquid. As you raise your leg you don't want to tilt the bowl and spill its contents. This led to the admonition to "embrace your bowl", and much giggling among the students.

This is not the only key idea for today. The other is that hiking for three hours the day before will affect your performance in ballet class. Unless you do that sort of thing every day (I don't) it takes longer than 18 hours for muscles to recover. Nothing really aches any more than normal (for an hour after class) but some bits of the last 10 minutes felt a lot harder than it seems like they should have been. Oh well... that'll get better.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Another class, another ache

Last weekend I had a great time Saturday touring the Smithsonian museums with a friend, but that meant that I needed to spend Sunday catching up on chores and other obligations and didn't get to class. Today I was a little later going out the door than I liked, but I did go.

We jokingly say this school is in a slightly different time zone because every class seems to start 5-10 minutes late. Today I was perhaps 3 minutes late and the class was already a quarter way through the first barre exercise. I wasn't the last student, though. One was rapidly stripping off her street clothes in the hallway just outside the door as I ran in and she begged me to stay with her so she wouldn't have to walk in alone, but I declined. And then another student or two arrived after she scurried in.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Well THAT was stupid!

I thought I saw a typo in my previous post ("We're gonna die") so I went to edit the page, then changed my mind and tried to cancel the edit. Poof! No more post!

After some flailing about I realized I'd reverted the page to draft state rather than deleting it. I've reposted the page. Whew!

After the one-legged relev├ęs we did at the barre Sunday I was expecting to be sore this week, but I wasn't. I worked late today so I didn't go but I am starting to think about going back to two classes a week at some point.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

We're gonna die

I was determined to get to class this morning to avoid missing the next step in whatever our instructor is developing. My knee-length shorts haven't gotten through the wash yet, so I dressed in full-length tights. It's winter, right?

Checking in at the front desk I was reminded that our regular instructor was out, and the instructor from the Saturday morning class was substituting. Yes, the instructor who teaches Beginner 2 as if it's 2.75. I love her dearly, but I'm still ramping up from my months-long layoff. If I wanted to be in her class I would have shown up yesterday.

Quite a few of the regulars were absent, and there were a fair number of new (to me) faces. Two of them were younger women who showed up because they knew this instructor and wanted to take her class, and the three had an animated chat while I warmed up.

Barre was fairly typical for this instructor, meaning most of this class's regulars were puffing and sweating from exertion. When we broke after barre I went out to fill my water bottle. As I passed the two women I overheard one say to the other "We're gonna die!" The other nodded in agreement. Hey, this is not your average Dolly Dinkle ballet school; even the adult classes require real work.

Center went pretty well. I've been working on stretching my hip flexors and psoas so I can maintain a more erect posture with less work. I spend much of my life sitting so these are abnormally tight on me. I think it's working because my balance continues to improve in tiny but noticeable increments. Most of my turns are more stable than they ever have been, which allows more attention to things like spotting and how my working leg is positioned. I did have to sit out part of one exercise as recovery time, but that was a conscious decision that I'm comfortable with.

I may be a year older but I'm not the ones thinking I'd die.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

On a roll

Does twice in two weeks count as a streak?

I made it to class today. Even got there early enough to get my "regular spot" at the barre. The ladies at the front desk clearly recognize me, but I've been coming too irregularly for them to remember my name. How quickly fame fades!

I think I did reasonably well. A few twinges in my forefoot when pointing really hard, but otherwise no cramps or other nastiness. I'm not expecting more than a little stiffness in my legs tomorrow, unlike last week where I could barely get up and down steps until Wednesday. We still seem to be in the early part of some nominal semester, and I'm going to try to not miss any classes for a while. Some things my brain remembers how to do my feet seem to have forgotten, but nothing that won't come back with a little practice.

My balance seems to be pretty good and my turns continue to improve. One of the key things I'm learning to focus on is staying upright -- the more "vertical" I am the better my turns are. This also seems to be true when merely balancing in arabesque and attitude, and especially so during a slow promenade turn.

The instructor has begun to offer me more corrections, and even tease me a bit in class. This is a good thing, by the way. Maybe she's forgiven me for my transgressions.

I made the comment to someone (not someone from this studio) that I was going to sit and decompress after class for a bit. She replied that ballet classes were decompression for her. Frankly I was a bit nonplussed by this. Ballet doesn't come naturally for me, and requires a lot of concentration. It's also completely different physically from anything else I do on a regular basis, so it's quite a workout for me too. I would have expected someone who has taken ballet in the past to understand better.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

The start of another year

Happy new year, folks!

I'd planned to go to the stretch class yesterday, but it was snowing. I don't really have a problem with snow, but too many drivers in the DC area have no clue how to deal with it, and I just didn't want to be on the roads.

So this morning I attended the Beginner II class. I'm rusty. The studio was closed both new year's and xmas weekends, and there was ice the weekend before that. According to this journal I got to a stretch class December 10th, a ballet class October 4th and two in September. Bleagh.

To top things off, I overslept and didn't arrive at the studio until after the time class should have started. They never manage to actually start on time, so I walked in as the instructions for the first exercise were being given and didn't have time to warm up first. Fortunately there were only about 18 students and I found a place at a barre easily with minimal disruption to the the class.

Barre was long, lasting about an hour. Nothing terribly strenuous, though, as if this was the start of a new class and not just the continuation of the year-round drop-in class. On the other hand, that's pretty much what I needed. My muscles aren't really happy about being stretched in now-unfamiliar ways, but my balance was pretty good. In center we did a series of exercises that built in complexity, and when we added pirouettes I didn't have too much trouble with them (I'm sure my form is off, but I got around okay and felt stable doing it). If I tried to focus too much on any one of my problems other things fell apart, but I figure that will get better as I get back into the routine.