Thursday, August 29, 2013

When all else fails, dance!

Last week my garbage disposal died. As best I can tell it's rusted solid, and nothing I tried would break it free. So this weekend I spent a few hours replacing the thing. Since I installed this one when the original one corroded through and fell off the sink in 2004, it wasn't a big challenge.

I didn't get to class Tuesday because of a work-related commitment. Since I was home earlier than usual I washed some laundry. I'd like to say I dried it too, but the dryer took that opportunity to die. I bought it new when I moved into the house waaay back in 1987, so you can't say I didn't get my money's worth out of it. Either it or the washer (of the same vintage) has taken to biting holes in my clothes of late, so I decided to replace the two as a pair. The new ones get delivered the middle of next week.

Maybe it's time to rent The Money Pit again. Or the original 1948 version of that movie, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House.

Wednesday morning I visited my dentist to have him look at a rough spot on a tooth. I left several hours later with half my face numb and an appointment for the installation of a crown in two weeks. Have I mentioned how much I hate dentists? The only reason I don't go postal on the whole profession is that I fear being without them even more. Talk about love/hate relationships.

Having missed Tuesday's class, and with the school being closed this weekend for the Labor Day holiday, I decided I really needed to show up for the Wednesday evening class. Somehow all of this sharpened my concentration (or maybe it was the ibuprofen) because I think I was one of very few who got all the combinations at the barre. I screwed up once because I let myself get distracted by those I could see in the mirror, then realized my error and got back on track. I did pretty well in the center, though I still can't do full inside turns worth a damn. Ah, well... some day.

I got talking with one of the school regulars during one of the breaks and we got to talking about the course offerings. I inquired about the Advanced Beginner class, as I'd like to make my schedule Sat/Sun/Tue/Thu, and the only Thursday evening class is AB. She said it was a significant step up from B2, which is what I suspected. She then demonstrated the risks of succumbing to Ballet Addiction and suggested I could take classes Mon/Tue/Wed/Sat and twice on Sunday. I smiled politely and backed away slowly. You never know what an addict will do if you make sudden moves.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Committing to my addiction

The school where I take classes offers single class, 10 class, and unlimited/4-month pricing plans. The way it works out, if you're going to take classes regularly, but average 2 or fewer classes a week, the 10 class plan is cheapest; the break-even point for the unlimited/4-month plan is 2.54 classes a week over the ~17 week period. As readers may have noticed, I've been taking two classes a week for some time, which means I've been buying "cards" about every 5 weeks. The staff is very good at reminding you of how many classes you have left when that number gets to about 3 or fewer. This is important as they don't take credit cards and not everyone carries a check book regularly anymore.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

More Less is More

Last Tuesday I again skipped class, this time to see Pat Benatar in concert. The last time I'd seen her perform, as best I can tell, was 1986. She still rocks!

Ok, back to dance. Wednesday I again attended the Beginner I class, this time with a determination to make the most of it. I really tried to work on my pirouettes en dehor (we don't do them en dedans in Beginner I). I'm getting better, but am still a bit wobbly. More on that later. Most of the rest of class went well, until the last combination where I just couldn't get my head around the footwork.

This morning I went to my regular Beginner II class. The first sign that this would be a challenging class was when the instructor walked in carrying her Bubba mug of coffee, saying it was "one of those days". Full up it holds 34 oz (1 litre) of coffee, which is a lot of caffeine. Even 3/4ths full, as she indicated, it suggested that she was going to be more energetic that usual. Meaning we were going to be more energetic!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Review of Wear Moi men's tights

Last Saturday I decided to got for the classic tights and a T-shirt outfit. It'd been a while since I'd done a dancewear review, so I pulled out my Wear Moi "Solo" style tights to update my impressions.

I got these because I'd been whining to the owner of a local dance store (Footlights Dance & Theater Boutique) about how "plastic-y" the M. Stevens Milliskin tights felt in comparison with my Capezio 5945s. She said she'd recently decided to stock the Wear Moi brand, and would put aside some in my size when they came in. A few weeks later I got a phone call to tell me my order had come in -- how's that for customer service?

The first thing I noticed is that they don't feel plastic-y at all. They're more like a cotton T-shirt than the silky feel of the 5945s, but not scratchy like the MT-11s. They're plenty stretchy and don't sag or bag, but at the same time they don't feel constricting. I quite forgot I was wearing them, and they didn't need pulling up during class. I have only two slightly negative things to say about them: they're not as opaque as the other styles I've worn, and they're warmer than I'd like. Not clammy, as they breathe quite well, but warmer. I'm sure those who wear a sweater in the studio even in the summer will think that's just dandy, but I'm quite warm even before class begins and get hotter as I get more active.

On the whole I think I like them a bit more than the M. Stevens Milliskin style.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

A better pace

Today's Beginner II class was comparatively sparsely attended. Rather than the normal 20-25 students we had 15, with none of the really exceptional folk. The result was a slower-paced class, with less complex combinations and more focus on getting them right.

The advice on turns continues to prove its worth, with my pirouettes en dehor working better than they ever have. My pique turns have also benefited, both en dedans and en dehor. However, this being the Beginner II class, we also did pirouettes en dedans, which I'm still finding to be a serious challenge. I thought I'd figured them out before, but that involved a lot more energy than they should, so I'm sort-of starting over with them. The instructor advised us that it's more important to get the motion right than to get a full turn; that if we only managed a quarter turn but did it with proper form she'd consider that a success, while a full turn with poor form was a failure.

Last Saturday, toward the end of class we were doing some rather complex combination, in groups of 5 or 6 at a time. I was standing in the front of our group, and I kept getting lost. As our group finished the instructor said, "If you don't know the combination, get in the back of the group."

For some reason, few people are willing to stand near the front of the room. Even if they're in the front row, they'll stand as far away from the mirror as possible. This means those in the second row are often crowded against the back wall with no room to move. This is why I often move to the front of our group: that's the only place I can go without standing on the heels of those in front.

Her comment wasn't addressed to me by name, but I felt like it was directed to me. So I replied, "But it's crowded in the back!" I think I got my point across, and I hope I didn't sound petulant.

With today's combinations being simple enough and slow enough I found I could pretty much keep up. Although there were moments where I was a fraction behind the music, there were also times when I could think ahead to the next step. This made me feel like I'm making progress. Maybe I won't need to be in the back much longer.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Less is More

In last Saturday's class our instructor made a comment that stuck with me: when it comes to pirouettes, less is more. You don't need to put much energy into a turn. The only thing the body needs to do is rise to the proper position, and the arms provide all the impetus needed to turn. I didn't get much chance put this into use that day, but it stuck in my head.

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Return of the Musty Odor

For the last few months I've been wearing my Capezio CA222 leggings rather than tights. They feel cooler than the tights, and are a lot faster to put on. However, I've noticed that they're prone to picking up a slightly musty odor even right after they've been washed.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Not your classic ballet poses

I was chilling out after class and I noticed this picture on the wall. Look closely at the poses and the facial expressions. Not your typical formal picture.

Several of these dancers are now instructors at the school. I've taken a class from one of them.

Edited to use a larger, better snapshot of the picture.

Friday, August 2, 2013

A Lyrical Evening

Tuesday evening the world conspired to prevent me from getting to class on time. First, I wanted to finish what I was working on before leaving, so I left my office a few minutes later than usual. Then I got caught in a discussion in the elevator lobby, which robbed a few more minutes. Still, I should have arrived with time to change and stretch briefly. The final straw was traffic: not only was the highway dead slow because of an emergency response on the shoulder (everyone has to stop to look!) but the exit I took to avoid that turned out to be blocked for a period due to construction. By the time I walked in the door I was already almost 10 minutes late. I changed quickly and found a place at the barre, but I'd missed most of the first set of warm-up stretches.