Saturday, December 30, 2017

Oh my aching...!!

I went back to class this morning after a week off. It wasn't my idea to be off this long, but I couldn't find an appropriate class due to the holidays. I knew the result would be that this class would be harder than usual, but I didn't expect it to be like this.

Before I start ranting, I'll mention that our instructor was not wearing pointe shoes today.  She didn't arrive as early as she normally does and thus didn't get much of a chance to warm up before class, and we actually started on time for a change. This was a very full class, with 29 students by the time the last of the stragglers came in. Three of the students were wearing pointe shoes at barre -- two continuing through center -- though one of them was a school company member proudly wearing her Nutcracker Cast T-shirt.

I had an interesting conversation with a couple of the students about the difficulty level of this class. They've been taking the Advanced Beginner class that starts a bit earlier, and they believe that this Beginner II class is more technically challenging. I haven't taken that Advanced Beginner class, but it echoes my own opinion that this ain't no Beginner II class. I suspect that sentiment is also shared by the two newbies in this class who clearly didn't realize what they'd gotten themselves into, though they bravely tried to keep up as best they could.

Now on to the ranting...
I've apparently forgotten how to do a pirouette en dedans. Toward the end of class I decided part of it is that I'm not getting my working foot up to retiré, but by the time I came to that conclusion I was too tired to care. I really need to take at least two classes a week to keep my body happy.

Sometimes I think our instructor creates combinations just to mess with our minds. The petit allegro combination was this twisty sequence of shortening phrases:  
  1. Moving right: glissade, jeté, jeté, jeté
  2. Moving left:   glissade, jeté, jeté, jeté
  3. Moving right: glissade, jeté, jeté
  4. Moving right: glissade, jeté, jeté
  5. Moving right: glissade, jeté
Then the combination repeats to the other side.

Note how the number of jetés decreases after phrases two and four, then goes back up as it repeats. Notice also how phrases three, four, and five don't start on measure boundaries; and how the direction switches after the first, second, and fifth phrases but not after phrases three and four. I can see the instructional value in this, as it keeps us from becoming too accustomed to fixed phrasings, but it also makes the class resemble the Keystone Cops, with different people going in different directions and running into each other. I'm reasonably happy with my performance in this comedy, only rarely the wrong direction.

Remember the twinge in my right buttock I mentioned a couple of weeks ago? I thought it had gone away, but it came back as a nasty ache in my hamstring Thursday, competing with spasms in my quads. I had it treated by a therapist, successfully I thought, but by the end of class my leg was aching again. So I thought to myself, what better way to deal with this than to go to the Stretch class that follows the ballet class?

The Stretch class starts 30 minutes after my Beginner II class ends. I've learned from experience that footed tights are incompatible with this class, so I changed out of my damp tights and shirt and put on a pair of knee-length stretchy shorts and a fresh shirt. It was kinda cold in the hallway so I put my leg warmers back on and tried to keep moving a bit.

I both love and hate this Stretch class. I'm not flexible in the least, and I find many of the positions (some of which are taken from yoga) to be either uncomfortable or unstable. The equivalent of the yoga "downward dog" position makes my elbows and wrists hurt. "Frog" is a near impossibility, even when done on my back. The teacher always tells people to modify the positions as necessary to fit their abilities and coaches without criticizing, but by a certain point I just want to get up and walk out. Of course I'm too stubborn for my own good, and I stay.

In this case, "walk out" would probably be a bad description. After changing into street clothes I found that I was sore in so many places that my gait was something of a waddle. By the time I got home I felt like my butt had been beaten with a bat. Yes, I know, this is mostly because I don't stretch on a regular basis. But that's not making me feel better right now. Maybe the ibuprofen I just took will kick in soon.

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