Saturday, September 28, 2019

Why don't YOU do that?

For much of the eight years I've been writing this blog I've been the only male in my ballet classes. Occasionally, though, there have been other men in class, and recently we've had as many as four of us in class at once. When this happens our instructor often asks that we men do the petit and grand allegro sections as a separate group. This, I suspect, is because we tend to move across the floor more than the women. Recently she's also asked for the music to slow a bit when we go; apparently this is traditional, to allow us to jump higher—which takes longer—and still keep pace with the music.

As I've written before, I'm a little bit competitive, but in a good way. When I see someone doing something really well I feel challenged to perform better. Maybe the term "inspired" would be better than "challenged". I watch them to see what it is that they're doing differently. A good example might be my efforts to improve my petit jetes and glissades. But the feeling of competitiveness is heightened when it's a group of four men, two of whom are more advanced than I am.

Still, this is me telling myself that I can do better. Before class, when I'm feeling fresh and energetic, I've completed double pirouettes. The last quarter turn often isn't nice and my spotting needs work, but I'm not falling over and the landing is stable. By the end of class, though, when I'm hot and exhausted I'm content to land a single pirouette with some measure of precision rather than hop through a sloppy double attempting to keep up with the others.

And so it was rather shocking when one of the women asked me, "Why don't YOU do that?", indicating one of the other men. I managed to suppress my initial reaction, which would have been to slap her across the face and demand, "Why aren't you on pointe like some of the other women?" Instead I blinked a couple of times before replying truthfully, "Because I'm exhausted and I'm happy to just remember what step comes next." She smiled and nodded understandingly, but inside I was seriously pissed off.

Please, folk. Don't be judgmental of others. You probably wouldn't be happy if I asked you a question like that.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Fish dive, anyone?

I don't know what was going on in the area, but traffic was surprisingly heavy this morning on the way to class. The 5-level parking garage, which usually has plenty of parking on the 3rd level, was full through level 3 and half-full on level four. It was a good sized class as it started and students continued to trickle in for the next ten minutes, all complaining about traffic and parking.

I was lucky to arrive early enough to have about 10 minutes to warm up before class. When I started my calf muscles were very tight as was my right hip flexor, and I was wondering if they would loosen at all. To my surprise they relaxed quite a bit. This made barre easier and, honestly, less painful. I'm not one of those dancers who can fold at the hips and plant my nose on my shins. The last time I bent like that was a trampoline accident in high school, and I couldn't walk for a week.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Yes, I am jumping

Last fall, a friend of mine from ballet classes called me out of the blue. What was initially a pleasant surprise turned out to be a call for help. She had taken a bad step on some stairs and had injured her ankle. After initially refusing to believe the injury was serious, she had finally realized that she needed medical care and wanted to know if I would be willing to meet her at the local hospital emergency room. Of course I said yes immediately.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Re-learning petit jeté

One of the problems I have with having learned ballet as an adult is that I didn't get any sort of structured instruction at the beginning. I pretty much jumped into a low-level adult class and tried to figure things out as I went. The result is that I find myself stumbling (sometimes literally) over what should be basic things. Like petit jeté and glissade.

Monday, August 12, 2019

A 30-second Pas de Deux

I have managed to drag myself to class for several consecutive Saturdays. There hasn't been much going on worth writing about until this weekend.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Too many irons in the fire

Wednesday I went to the "intermediate" class at MSD. I chose that mainly because it was mid-week. It went pretty well, though I left after petit allegro because I was hot and tired and that was making me grumpy. But no muscle cramps!

Today, Saturday, I went to the so-called "Beginner II" class at MYB. This is a very popular class. I've seen it worse, but with 26-ish students it was crowded. Even doing adagio in two groups, rather than all at once, I had to watch the people near me to make sure I didn't kick or backhand anyone by accident. petit allegro was dangerous, with some students barely moving and others apparently confusing glissade with grand jete. At this point I collected my things and made an early exit.

Changing after class I came to the conclusion that I just didn't have the time or energy for the repertoire class that starts next week. The idea of dancing choreography with other dancers, rather than just being one person in a sea of others doing exercises, is very appealing. But at this point I think I need to tune up some basics before attempting the repertoire class again. And I'm just juggling too many other activities to give this the attention it would require to make it worthwhile.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Wow, it's really hot!

After last weekend's class I felt better than I thought I would, though my lower legs felt quite stiff. Stiff enough that I kind of hobbled rather than walked. And that stiffness persisted until Wednesday evening.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Why do I do this to myself?

I went back to class this morning, after about 2.5 months off. It went as you might expect.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

MYB's 2019 Spring Concert

I've been very busy with other things, so I haven't gotten to class in quite some time. I'd been toying with attending MYB's Spring Concert, and about an hour  before curtain I decided to go. It was too late to get a ticket online but I figured there would be at least one seat available and the venue was only 20 minutes from home.

When I walked in I went to the person sitting behind the "Purchase Tickets" sign. She seemed unsure how to do that and motioned me over to the woman next to her. She is one of the front desk clerks and she greeted me with a cheery, "Hi Reece! What can I get you?" There is very little that makes a person feel more welcome than being recognized and greeted by name.

Having acquired a ticket about 30 minutes before curtain I got a good seat. By the time the curtain went up most of the seats were filled. First on the bill was a locally-choreographed version of "Rumplestiltskin" which was quite entertaining and offered parts for all the kids. Then "Summer", a contemporary piece for two men and one woman, choreographed by one of MYB's instructors which won awards in 2002. This approached a professional level performance. The afternoon wrapped up with excerpts from "Don Quixote".

All in all it was a nice way to spend a cold, rainy Sunday afternoon.

If I had to be critical of anything, it's that the quality of the men (boys?) is uneven. This isn't the fault of the dancers; it's simply that there are so few boys in the program that they get pushed into roles they're not ready for yet. But what can you do? It's not like the Soviet system where kids were plucked from elementary school and ordered to go to a dance school.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Shoulda checked the calendar first

After class Thursday I was looking forward to the class this afternoon at Berrend. Though I woke up in time to go to my usual Saturday morning class at MYB, I'd decided that attempting two classes in one day would not be smart so I didn't go.

As got ready to go out midday I wasn't sure whether class started at 4:00 or 4:30. I checked their website and found Berrend is closed for the weekend. Oh well, I figured I'd just go to class Sunday at MYB. Except that while they were open today, they will be closed tomorrow. I guess I'm not going to class anywhere this weekend!

Nor next weekend, as I'll be busy. I guess it'll just be one class midweek again.

Friday, April 19, 2019

I can walk again!

As I mentioned in my reply to my previous post, the day after class I was a hurting puppy. I had tickets to The Washington Ballet in downtown DC, and to avoid parking nightmares we took Metrorail. That meant a fair bit of walking. Normally I'd love that, but I suspect the Ministry of Silly Walks would have had something to say about my technique. Thinking it might be better to give my calf muscles a rest, I skipped class the following Tuesday. That was probably a good idea, as it wasn't until late the next day, four days after the class, that I could walk without inhibiting discomfort.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

You can run but you can't hide

Once again it has been proven to me that there is no way to remain anonymous when you are a man taking ballet classes.

Friday, March 15, 2019

The answer is always "Tour Jeté"

Tonight was the last Adult Repertoire class of this session. I'm exhausted. My feet hurt. And I'm both relieved and sad.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

My first Pas de Deux

Due to conflicts in other classmates' schedules, only two of us were able to attend last evening's repertoire class. Their loss was our gain!

Monday, February 18, 2019

Saut du Basque

The Powers that Be took pity on us, and okay'ed the repertoire class to go ahead with only 5 students registered, though a sixth signed up in person the evening of the first class. Only five of us showed up that night though.

Before class, while I was loosening up in the hallway, Jeff (our ballet master for this class) asked me two questions: first, did I know how to do a tour jeté; second, did I know how to do a saut du basque?

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Pas du Groundhog

We've had unusually cold weather this week. Snow canceled classes Tuesday. I decided not to go to class Thursday to be rested for Friday's repertoire class, but it was canceled Friday mid afternoon due to yet more snow and cold, shifting the start date of the 5-week class back a week.

Today (Saturday) I went to my usual class. When I checked in I asked how many were registered for repertoire: 5. They want 8 to make it economically viable. Uh oh.

Just before we started centre I made an appeal for anyone who was interested in the repertoire class to sign up this weekend. One is a probable; others asked questions but I don't expect they will.

Barre was grueling. Fortunately centre was easier than it might have been. This instructor deliberately builds from one week to the next, so most of the exercises were familiar. This is especially important when I'm tired and my IQ drops off. It's also the reason for the title of this post.

After class I talked with Jeff, who teaches the repertoire class. He has one other person who said they will sign up, which would bring the registration to seven. Is anyone local interested in signing up for this class?

We're tantalizingly close to the minimum registration for this class to go ahead. It now starts next Friday, February 8th, and runs for 5 consecutive weeks at 7:30pm.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Selective amnesia

I've always wondered why women are willing to give birth to multiple children. It seems that after all the complaining and swearing that they'll never do it again there would only be families with single children. Apparently some sort of amnesia sets in.

Yet, after swearing I'd never do anything like the Adult Weekend Workshop again, I find myself signed up for the Adult Repertoire class starting February 1st. (link) Here's the class description:
Use your years of ballet training to experience the joys (and discipline) of learning a group dance from one of the world’s finest choreographers. Emphasis will be placed on presentation and working as a corps de ballet. A single dance will be taught over the 5 class session, building weekly, and includes a quick warm-up. Level – Intermediate. No performance. Lead by Jeffrey Luke.
I'm actually a bit intimidated by this class. The original announcement specified "Advanced Beginner" level and up. When I spoke with Jeff he suggested that I could watch one of the classes and decide whether I wanted to sign up for the next session, but I never got around to doing that. One of the participants says he thinks I'll be okay, but then again he's the same person who roped me into the Adult Weekend Workshop. Now it says "Intermediate" level; I've never taken above Advanced Beginner, and I haven't been in one of those classes in a couple of years.

In other news...

The knot in my right thigh is all but gone, and the spot is only slightly tender when palpated. However, the bruise has developed colorfully:

My back is pretty well recovered, so with an abundance of caution I went to class Sunday, that being the easier of the two weekend classes. Neither my back nor leg caused any real difficulty. In fact, I was pretty happy with the state of my turns and got some positive words from the instructor.

Tuesday rolled around again, as it does every week, and I braved the unusually cold weather to go to class yet again. The instructor commented that she had been feeling a bit lethargic in the late afternoon, so she'd treated herself to an extra glass of green tea. By the time class started she was wired on the extra caffeine. This always makes for an amusing class.

I am definitely noticing that I'm feeling more confident with my dancing. Our first centre exercise involved pirouettes en dedans, which I've always found challenging. For the first time I found myself wondering if I could manage a double, though I didn't try it. The pirouettes en dehor I think I could have done doubles, at least early in the class before I got tired. Again I didn't try, but that's because I need to focus on proper form (working foot position, for example) and consistency before I try for anything showy. I see a few other classmates doing sloppy doubles while struggling with other basic steps. I think a well-executed single is a better goal than a sloppy double.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Ow! Ow! Ow!

If you want to read about muscle cramps, feel free to read on. Otherwise go read something else. It's my blog and I'll whine if I want to!