Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A decent double, finally

After having been too busy/lazy to get to class for over a week, I finally went tonight. Despite the uncomfortably warm (to me) temp and high humidity in the studio, the floor wasn't sticky at all. My turns seemed to be working quite well, and I was having to stop the turn deliberately rather than fall out of it. At one point I thought to myself, "Self, if you hadn't stopped that turn you'd have gone around twice." So the next time I let it go, and executed a pretty decent double pirouette en dehor.

Except for spotting, which I noticed I really didn't do. So when we moved to pirouette practice, I gave up on doubles and tried to concentrate on spotting. And in doing so I found myself falling over rather than turning cleanly. Clearly I'm doing something wrong; I just need to figure out what.

But I did a decent double! Woo hoo!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Words to ponder

I happened across a video on YouTube today entitled A Day in the Life of a Ballerina. It's well shot, well produced, and not terribly exciting. But the dancer makes a statement I thought worth sharing (emphasis mine):
"I've done all of the steps a million times. I'm completely ready to do it. This person picked me out of this company of people. I'm realizing that I will actually get closer to the performances that I want to give by letting go of trying to be perfect."
 The first three sentences really don't apply to me. I'm still learning the steps, and sometimes I have to re-learn steps I haven't done in a while. I'm not ready to perform, and I got picked by having paid to be there. But the last sentence is so true for me. I have an internal drive for perfection, and I chose ballet in part because there is, at any given moment, one right way to do something. But in dance you can't obsess over each step and still get the combination to work. You can't worry about how the imperfection in the last step because the next is coming right now.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The One with the Fake Monica

My GF and I have been watching the TV show "Friends" for the first time. We just watched the episode entitled "The One with the Fake Monica". In this episode, Monica takes a tap class. She there only to figure out who has stolen her identity, but the instructor insists she has to either participate in the class or leave. Of course, she has no clue what she's doing. Hilarity ensues. Eventually the impostor is caught and Monica can go back to her normal life.

Why am I mentioning this? Because at the end of the episode we're back in the tap class with Monica standing in the doorway looking unsure, clearly out of her safe zone. The instructor tells her "In or out!" and she steps forward and joins the class. When the instructor says "You don't know what you're doing!" (something a good instructor wouldn't say), she replies with something like, "But I'm here."

Sometimes it's necessary to get outside your comfort zone. And sometimes it's the being there that's important, not the result.

After a week break to recover from the Adult Weekend Workshop, I went back to class today. I decided to go with the Beginner II class rather than Advanced beginner so I could focus more on technique than complex sequences. Which was probably a good idea, since I'm apparently still sore in places (mainly my lower calf muscles). The bruises on my big toes are as dark as they've ever been, but they don't hurt like they did earlier this week.

My turns are getting better. At the AWW I pulled off my first decent double pirouette in 18 months, though it was in practice before class rather than in class, of course! Today the instructor pointed out that many of us were pulling our arms in rather than keeping an open first, and fixing that also helped. I'm thinking maybe I gained more than aches and pains over those three days.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Injured in the line of duty

Three days later most of my aches have dissipated except for my feet. Especially my big toes, which are still very sensitive to touch. This morning I realized that the odd shadows on either side of the nail I'd noticed were actually bruises—here's the worse of the two:

And that's after wearing soft slippers (one pair canvas, the other leather) with socks.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

It's OVER!!

The short version is that I got talked into doing the variation piece anyway. I didn't fall. I didn't do anything embarrassing. But am I ever sore!

Running on Empty

If I didn't have such a visible role in the repertory piece I'd go home now. I have no energy left and I'm sore in so many places. I sat out most of the last 15 minutes of Technique because I couldn't wrap my head around the combination, only to realize with a few minutes left that it really was fairly simple and I had little trouble executing it.

We didn't have Floor Barre this morning, so not as much warmup before Technique. The next two classes, Variations and Repertory, are switched today, allowing me to put off until last my decision on dancing the variation. It really isn't that complicated, but I'm not sure I want to attempt it anyway. Then we get a 30 minute break before launching into the recital. I may need a wheelchair to get back to my car.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

A quart low

I seem to have survived the second day of the Adult Weekend Workshop. Technique class was a bit harder, with both a faster tempo and more complicated combinations. In Variations I managed to fall again while attempting a tour -- but this time I rolled down instead of slamming into the ground which hurt less. Repertory class added even more to the stuff we learned yesterday, but it seems to be shaping up quite nicely. Tomorrow we do it all again, with a recital (I won't call it a "performance") at the end of the day. I may skip the Variations segment, but I'm good with the Repertory.

That doesn't mean I don't hurt. My feet feel like they're swollen and they throb even when I'm not moving, and little motions (like driving) make it worse. My back is stiff more-or-less evenly from side to side below my shoulder blades. And don't even get me started on my legs.

There was a big discussion between the other two guys and the instructor on recital attire. When they seemed to reach a decision point the instructor turned to me and asked, "Do you own a white leotard?" I do, and apparently that settled it: white leo, black tights and shoes. Somehow the girls got to go with all black. Sometimes life isn't fair.The crazy thing is I'll probably sign up to do it again next year.

Oh! I almost forgot! I seem to have lost two pounds between yesterday morning and this morning. Since I don't believe I've lost that much fat in only one day, it has to be water, despite pouring it down my throat seemingly at every available moment. And since water weighs about 8 lbs per gallon, that's a quart.

Friday, June 12, 2015

There I was, flat on my back...

While this could refer to Floor Barre, it actually refers to what happens when you stick a lower group student into the upper variations group just to keep all three men together. I attempted a turn I shouldn't have tried, slipped on landing and slammed onto my back. Thanks to the efforts of my GF, the trigger point therapist (and a couple ibuprofen) the growing stiffness in my back where I landed seems to have diminished.

Aside from that I don't have too many complaints. Day One has been fun and it looks like I'm going to get to do some very simple partner work after all. Now let's see how I feel in the morning.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Death by Ballet

The Adult Weekend Workshop starts tomorrow at 9:30am with Floor Barre. I took this class once a few years ago. I hurt for days afterward. Following that are technique, variations, and repertory classes, for a total of 5 hours each day.

Somehow I thought this sounded like fun. What have I gotten myself into?

Thinking rationally, I've done back-to-back 90 minute classes in the past and felt okay afterward. But I haven't done anything like that twice in one day. I think I'm going to pack several changes of gear. And clean towels. And Gatorade. And a BIG bottle of ibuprofen.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Back at it, but still jet-lagged

I've always said that flying west is easier to adjust to than flying east, because you just sleep later and later each day. Somehow that's not working this time.

I acclimatized to the east-bound time shift surprisingly easily this time, and settled into a routine of waking up around 6am British Summer Time (BST), which is about when I'd been getting to sleep (1am EDT). Of course, this meant going to sleep around 10pm, but that suited me just fine and I got all the sleep I needed. The first night after returning home I was up fairly late, and woke up around 4am EDT. Progress!

Well, not really. Last night I was exhausted, and fell asleep around 8pm EDT. Waking up at 2am, I got up for a few minutes before going back to sleep until 4am. Giving up I started my work day. I really wanted to get to my regular ballet class tonight at 7:15, but the idea of trying to stay awake, let alone comprehend a dance combination, until 9pm seemed improbable. And the drive home afterward would be down right dangerous. Instead, I showed up for the noon class.

I've never taken this class, although it's the same level with the same instructor as my Thursday evening and Sunday afternoon classes. But the makeup of the students is a wee bit different. How different? I shared the barre with a woman who I believe is a professional dancer with a ballet company in Europe. I recognized several others as graduates of this school's pre-pro program who (I believe) are now working their way through college.

All is not doom and gloom, though. I fit comfortably near, but not at, the bottom of the skill levels. I thought I acquitted myself pretty well, having not danced in two weeks, until the last combination. And that I gave up on merely because I couldn't hold the lengthy sequence in my head, not because it was technically out of reach.

I have less than two weeks before the three-day Adult Weekend Workshop, and my schedule for this coming weekend isn't going to allow time for classes. I'm hoping the classes I can get to will knock enough rust off before then.