Sunday, July 15, 2018

I took my car to a mechanic, and...

Ever take your car to a mechanic because it's making an annoying noise, only to find it won't make the noise when the mechanic is listening? I just had the dance equivalent happen.

But first I'm going to whine about aches and pains for a few paragraphs.

After being out of classes for a while I went to class Tuesday evening. It wasn't a particularly strenuous class, but I was fighting cramps in my calf muscles and feet all evening. After getting home I was so stiff it was hard to walk into the house. Wednesday wasn't much better, with palpably hard knots in my upper calf muscles on both sides. At least I didn't have any of those really nasty Charley-horse type cramps that make me whimper and curse like a sailor.

I'd planned to go to class Thursday, thinking a relatively easy class would help loosen things up, but at the end of the afternoon I was still hobbling around and decided to skip it. Saturday morning I made the conscious decision to go to the easier class Sunday morning instead.

This morning (Sunday) I felt pretty good physically, though the completely inexplicable activation of my smoke detectors at 1:30 am left me feeling a bit out of sorts. Arriving at the studio I was informed that the instructor who normally teaches my Tuesday and Saturday classes was substituting today. Yes, the one whose class I was trying to avoid by showing up Sunday instead. I love her but her classes are not easy. At least I knew she'd tone down the class a bit for the Sunday students.

Yes, yes, yes... I'm getting to the mechanic bit.

Tuesday in centre we did a pair of chaînés turns, and I found myself falling over backward during them. I know I do this during other turns as well, and the rare occasions when I've tried even a single tour en l’air I've ended up flat on my back. Literally. Since this class was rather sparsely attended (14 students) and this instructor sees me fairly often, I asked if she'd do me the favor of noting if she saw what I was doing wrong. She said she would.

A large cactus. Hug this with great care!
During centre she was giving feedback to one of the students who was having difficulty with a turn, in this case a pirouette en dehor to the right. He was keeping his right arm close to his body in front, while his left arm trailed behind him somewhere near his left hip. Not nearly the "hug a large cactus" first position arms we've been taught. Even when a particular bit of feedback doesn't directly apply to me I try to listen closely and pick up whatever I can from it. I was standing a row back and off to the side, comfortably "out of the spotlight" I thought, and after he'd tried the turn again I tried one. This was probably the best turn I've done in a month: upright, balanced, and unhurried. The instructor immediately pointed at me and said, "Yes, that's right!" Oops! I really didn't intend to distract from him while he was getting instruction.

Still, I was surprised that the turn worked so well. Never one to squander the occasional moment when the ballet gods are smiling, I thought, "maybe I should try a double!" So I gave it a try. The spotting wasn't good and I stopped just a fraction short of a full 720 degrees of rotation, but my cactus and I were upright, balanced, and unhurried. I even landed it cleanly rather than falling out of it. I'm pretty sure this was the first clean double pirouette I've done in over four years.

Of course this is classic. I primed the instructor to look for a problem and the problem doesn't present itself. Just like taking your car to the mechanic and the noise won't happen even when you try to make it happen. Don't get me wrong, I'm very happy about doing the double. But I made no progress on the problem I wanted to fix.

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