Friday, February 21, 2020

Learning to swim

One of my classmates, Christina, took the time to write a thoughtful reply to my post In over her head. This post started as a reply to her, but it got kinda long so I've rewritten it as a post of its own.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

In over her head

Class today was very crowded: about 30 students in a room more appropriate for 20. One of the late arrivals was a woman I hadn't seen in class before. She ended up on the other side of a portable barre from me, sharing that side with one of the better regulars.

At first she seemed to not know which way to face, which struck me as odd. In this class, as with most classes I've taken elsewhere, a barre exercise starts with the left hand on the barre, and then is repeated with the right hand on the barre. She also didn't seem to have picked up the instructions for the exercise, so I suggested that she and the student she was sharing that side of the barre switch so the newcomer would be sandwiched between two regulars regardless of which way she faced. They readily agreed. I told her this class is much closer to Advanced Beginner than the advertised Beginner II, so not to worry if it was a bit more difficult than she expected. She spoke briefly with our instructor, who assured her that she was fine to do what she could, and if she still felt unable to keep up that she could get the class credited back to her account.

Even with experienced students to follow, though, she still seemed to be having trouble. And by "trouble" I mean not knowing what basic movements were. After the next exercise she explained that this was her second ballet class ever. Using what I hoped was a understanding voice, I quietly confided to her that when I'd first come into this class I'd had two years of ballet, and I'd felt totally lost at first. Taking the hint, she smiled and gathered her things, thanking the instructor on her way out for being understanding.

Our instructor later confided that at first she thought this student looked familiar but couldn't place her, and only later recognized her as one of her students from the Wednesday evening Beginner I class. This might also explain why she didn't know which way to face, as the Wednesday evening barre is done facing the barre rather than parallel to it.

I feel sorry for this student. She went out on a cold Saturday morning (it was 17F/-8C when I got up this morning) and fought her way through traffic to come to class, only to leave after maybe 10 minutes. But frankly, there was no way she was going to keep up. Shortly after this student left we did a degage combination that I found challenging due to its speed, and then we did it again even faster. Everyone struggled with that. And centre work was no easier. Probably smarter to leave once she realized she was in over her head and get the class refunded than to struggle and just end up frustrated.


I hope she sticks with the Wednesday evening class. It is possible to start from scratch as an adult and work your way up, but it takes time and perserverence.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Dance Ranked Most Physically Demanding Job in the U.S.

If you want to understand how physically demanding dancing as a profession can be, take a look at this article in Pointe Magazine. It points out that a study by the Occupational Information Network ranks dancers as the most physically demanding job in the US, based the level of strength, stamina, flexibility and coordination required.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Follow-up on the Adult Pointe Workshop at TSWB

It took five days after I posted the announcement of the Adult Pointe Workshop before I gave in and registered. Last night I attended the two-hour workshop, taught by Dr. Miriam Graham and Patrick Wenning of Restore Motion LLC, a group of practitioners providing physical therapy services. It is also the "official physical therapy provider for students of The Washington School of Ballet."

Miriam Graham, PT, DPT, MBA

Patrick Wenning, MPT, CIMT

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Adult Pointe Workshop at TWSB

Apparently The Washington School of Ballet is attempting to do their Adult Pointe program right: in preparation for the class later this month they're offering a workshop for prospective adult pointe students with two physical therapists. This sounds like an excellent idea to me!

This workshop is only 10 days from now, so don't delay!

Here's their write-up:

Ready? Set? POINTE! Workshop: Navigating Pointe Shoes as an Adult Dancer

This workshop, presented by physical therapists Dr. Miriam Graham and Patrick Wenning of Restore Motion, is part lecture, part movement study. More than an exercise class, the workshop will teach students about their individual anatomy so they can work with their body type for greater success when wearing or considering pointe shoes. The first half of the workshop will focus on strength training for the feet and ankles; the second half will focus on anatomy, the musculoskeletal system, and hone in on risk factors and areas to consider when working in or considering pointe shoes as an adult dancer.
This workshop will not include pointe shoe wearing. If students own pointe shoes, they are welcome to bring their shoes should they wish to ask questions regarding the shoes. All students who have an interest in learning more about the mechanics of pointe shoes and foot/ankle strengthening are welcome to attend.

This workshop is scheduled for Friday, January 17th, 7:00PM to 9:00PM, at "The Joe" studios on Wisconsin Ave. The cost is $45.

Unfortunately I've been unable to find any mention of this workshop on the Washington School of Ballet website. The instructions in the email announcement I received reads:
To enroll in a workshop or a full series class, login to your adult student account or create a new student account. Once logged in, select the "TWSB for Adults" tab, then "Adult Programs" from the drop down list.
Click "Enroll Now" for the workshop you would like to attend.

I can't claim to be that knowledgeable about pointe work, having never tried it, but as a former Emergency Medical Tech I know a fair bit about injuries. The short version is it's better to prevent an injury than to recover from one. If you're interested in pointe work I would strongly encourage you to sign up for this workshop. You might even find me sitting in on this one!