Thursday, September 7, 2017

Some people don't know when to quit

Some years back I was taking classes at the American Dance Institute. This started as a ballet school, then shifted focus to sponsoring new dance works. In 2015 they decided to stop offering classes altogether. In 2016 they rebranded themselves "The Lumberyard" (no, I don't get it either), closed up shop in this area and moved to New York.

A couple of weeks ago I discovered where many of the refugees from ADI ended up: the Maryland School of Dance. Their adult program is pretty sparse, but it does have a "Beginner/Intermediate" ballet class Thursday evenings, and I know the instructor from classes at ADI. I've been looking for a class Thursday nights, and the only one available at MYB is an Advanced Beginner class which is more of a challenge than I'm looking for at the moment.

I'd thought about going to this class last Thursday, but when I got to work I realized I'd left my dance gear at home. This evening I had a conflicting appointment, but that got canceled at the last minute. Since I'd already planned on leaving work earlier than usual I had time to drive home, change, and get to MSD early enough to check out the place. There are several studios, though some have small columns in them. The floors are synthetic over plywood (I'm not sure if they qualify as "sprung" floors or not) that are reasonably comfortable to dance on. When I arrived there were two different children's classes in progress, one of which was their Pointe I class and the other their Pointe II class. Interesting to watch!

There were several folk in the Adult class that I recognized; one or two from ADI, and one from MYB. Unlike the classes at MYB, which vary from a dozen to as many as 25, this was a class of 7 or 8. I chose an unfortunate place at the barre which had me facing away from everyone else during the first side of each exercise, and of course I was unfamiliar with the exercises. This meant I botched bits of most of them as I tried to remember the sequences. I'm also still kinda tight from class Tuesday resulting in a bit of cramping in my calf muscles, though that actually got better as the class went on. Overall I'd put this on par with the difficulty of the Sunday Beginner II class at MYB, and much easier than Susan's Beginner 2.75 classes. The students ranged from two or three who were clearly much better than the rest down to a few who struggled with basic steps. I'm still not doing double pirouettes, but I fit nicely just below the top few. Maybe this is a way for me to get three classes a week without having to flail in the Advanced Beginner classes.

Speaking of pointe classes... I spoke with Susan after class Tuesday evening. Apparently Joy of Motion is pretty insistent that a series class needs to run 13 weeks, and she isn't sure she wants to commit to a 13-week series. I'm feeling like I really can't encourage her any further without becoming really annoying. It's really up to her, so if y'all want this class to happen you should probably talk with her yourselves.


  1. Hi Reese -- I am glad you found a class at the Maryland School of Dance. Thank you for all your legwork in encouraging Susan to start a beginner adult pointe class. You have done a lot and I will ask her when I see her (which is not often but I will try). Hopefully see you in class in a couple of weeks after my Achilles tendon rests more.

    1. As someone who hates the enforced idleness that is sometimes needed to allow my body to heal itself, I understand what you're dealing with. But you do need to let your body heal. If you do, you'll be back in the studio as good as new; fight it and it'll become a nagging issue that never seems to go away.

      Re the pointe class, if Susan opts not to teach it, remember that there are other instructors and other schools. But I wouldn't give up on Susan yet.

  2. Thanks for your encouragement, Reece. Even my daughter, a pre-professional ballet dancer who has endured surprisingly few, minor injuries over her 10+ years of dancing advised "Mom, don't be stupid and return to class before you are fully healed like I've done!"
    While Susan may not want to teach a 13-week adult beginning pointe class, Michelle pointed out that we should feel encouraged that Susan is open to the idea of adults learning pointe. I have been nervous in asking past ballet teachers about adult beginner pointe classes and have met only resistance (but so far no one has laughed in my face). Thanks for opening the dialogue with Susan.


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