Archive | August 2012

The Week Before Fall Session

I have one whole week without class, which is just enough time to gather my physical/mental bearings before fall session begins.

I have reviewed the fall session classes and it has been decided that I will be taking the Ballet level II and III class on Mondays (7 – 9 pm) and Ballet II and Pointe on Thursdays (5:45 – 8:15 pm).   The General thinks I should be able to keep up in the Level II/III class during the fall , but says that the class will be moving at a pretty strong clip by winter.  I may have to take a level II on a different evening in the winter, if I start to fall behind. I would not be offended if that is the case – hell, I am just glad she thinks I can remain in the Level II class.  Just 5 months ago I was just a beginner.  Crazy.  Even though the company students will be taking (on average) 9 hours of class per week, I do not intend to simply sit back and wait around for my next class.  My wonderful husband is building me a small studio in our basement.  While I have grown accustomed to practicing on my magical kitchen floor, I damn near slam into the light fixture and wall when attempting any more than 3 turns on my left side.  My goal is to be able to remain in the level III class throughout the whole year.  But even if I fall short, I will still improve, which I think is still pretty super.

The General is already thinking of music and dance routines for the recital next June. Honestly, I have no idea how she does it.  It is quite incredible how she can create a new, original, routine for every level/style of dance in her studio (with the exception of hip hop) every single year.  That is creativity at it’s finest.

Since there is no class, I am left to my own devices at home.  I practiced again tonight.  I had to see if I could land a double pirouette and multiple fouetté turns like I did the night before.  Well… I did.  Unexpectedly, it was no fluke.  How did I go from barely completing one pirouette to completing 2 in a matter of a week?  Maybe my BFF is right.  It could be the fact that I am practicing in my socks.  It is easier to turn when the floor is more slippery.  However, how do I explain the fouettés?  While they are not perfect, at least they are happening.  Plus, it take more than just a slick floor and a pair of striped socks to perform them – you need strength, coordination and balance too.  This only suggests one thing – I AM getting better.  Not 5 months ago I was failing at every attempt at a pirouette. Now, they are more graceful, smoother and easier.  I feel sturdier on relevé and even my husband noticed that my movements were achieved with more ease than they used to.  The true test is doing them in the studio.  We will just have to wait and see.

So – there is much anticipation for the fall session.  I am hopeful that this will be the start of a great year in my dancing career….Ha.  Still sounds silly to me.

Ballet Pictures – Take Two!

Today was the General’s second attempt at taking my pictures and this time it went much, much smoother.  I wore my black leotard with a black tutu and alternated it with a short, black lace dress I bought at H&M.  My BFF and the General took pictures while they but screamed commands at me.  Some of them included: “Bring your leg in!  You are not a dog peeing on a post!”; “Bring your chest in Dolly Parton” and (my favorite) “DON’T MOVE.”

The pictures were taken all around my small town’s main square.  Unlike Sunday, there were a lot of people milling about.  A lot more driving around the square staring and the weird lady posing in a door with a tutu on.  My BFF told me that she overheard a teenager tell her friend that they thought I was getting my senior pictures taken.  HA!  Do you hear that people?! SENIOR pictures.  I am a senior alright, but not in high school.

Luckily, the weather was perfect and I didn’t sweat too much.  Don’t want my hair to look “fluffy” on camera (I hate that).  My old pointe shoes are extremely broken by now and provide absolutely no support, which is not especially comfortable when standing on uneven surfaces or hard cement.  That sucked.  Plus, posing an arabesque in relevé on a broken pointe shoe while standing in dirt is harder than it looks.   The models in the Ballerina Project make it look so easy.  I guess that is why they are the professionals and I am just an attorney.  Woah is me!

Something I didn’t expect – I had no idea how dark my hair appeared on camera. Who knew I was so gothic!  “Let us welcome, Elvira!  Mistress of Ballerina!  Muhahahahahaaa!”

I can’t wait to see which ones the General ultimately chooses for her website.  Honestly, I am happy I look good in any of them.  It was also fun and apparently we are going to take more pictures when the season starts changing.  The General said something about “winter”….Um – Isn’t it Shelby’s turn?!

Magic Kitchen Floor, Meet Magic Striped Socks!

I practiced at home on my magical kitchen floor tonight and yeah, you guessed it – It was magical.  Plus, I wore my favorite striped knee-high socks today, and you know what else?  Those seem to be magical too!  Two things happened tonight that was worth noting:  I (gracefully) landed a double pirouette, a total first for me and I did 4 fouettés in a row!  I have not even been able to do one fouetté, let alone multiple before tonight.  I am thinking the floor and the socks joined forces to create one unstoppable force.  I was on fire tonight.

Question still remains…Will I lose the magic as soon as I leave the floor and take off my socks?  My BFF thinks I may.  And me?  Well, I think I have something to do with my small accomplishment today.  Yeah for me.  Yeah for my floor and socks too.

Strike a (Ballerina) Pose

So the General asked if she could take some pictures of me for her website.  I was like, “WHAAAA?! Me?!?!”  No one has ever wanted to take pictures of me before (with my clothes on – kidding).  I was deeply honored and flattered that anyone would want to take my picture. Not to mention putting it on a website for the whole world to see.  The General would like the pictures to look like the ones from the Ballerina Project.  For those of you who are not familiar, here is a link to their website.  http://ballerinaproject.com/  The pictures are beautiful and display ballerinas posing in obscure places.  Some of these pics are truly breathtaking and I was so excited to try to look like one of these women…GULP.

We had a dry run on Sunday.  We started late (overestimated the amount of light available) and we were not exactly organized.  We had street clothes, dress clothes, tutus and leotards.  The General had ideas of where to take the pictures, but not exactly any idea how we should pose in them or what we should wear.  We ran around the fire station and my small town square frantically trying to be inventive and beautiful and we fell a little short.  I took a look at the pictures we took and out of all of the shots, we had 4 decent ones.  Not bad, really.  Especially for a first try.  But I know we can do better.  After much discussion, this is what we concluded: (1) The General needs to direct and help us pose and we need someone else to take the pictures.  It was too much for her to do both.  [Note: We are still on the hunt for a photographer. Anyone interested?!] (2) We need to start earlier in the evening so we are not rushing.  We started at 7:30 pm on Sunday and that was NOT enough time.  (3) We need to organize and coordinate costumes, location and poses.  After the General and I reviewed everything, we agreed that we need to stick to leotards, tutus and plain dresses.  Our legs need to be the feature and we need the ability to freely move in our clothes so we can pose.  We have the potential locations, but we don’t know what poses we should do.  If we practice our poses and coordinate our costumes in advance, we should be able to execute these pictures more smoothly.

Did I mention that General is also taking pictures of her daughter?  I will call her “Shelby”. We are polar opposites when it comes to looks – I have very long dark brown (almost black) hair and am kind of short in stature (5’3).   Shelby is tall, blonde, thin and beautiful.   She is young and I am “mature”.  And apparently, I also look significantly more muscular than she does on camera.  When they say that a camera adds ten pounds, they are not kidding. However, all my weight goes right to my biceps and chest muscles!  HA!  I am thin, but I am strong.  The General and I are thinking that I have to camouflage them somehow – by way of sleeves or arm positioning.  Either way, I do not want to look like She-Ra on her website.  (“She-Ra! Princess of Power!!”)

Then there is my FACE.  Ok – I am no dog. I know this, but I have never felt that comfortable on camera.   My husband says that I have “natural beauty” and should not stress about being photographed, but I can’t help it!  Plus, I am not supposed to smile in these photos, but if I am not smiling, I look mean! I really need to practice my non-smiling face.  What did Tyra Banks say to the contestants on America’s Next Top Model? “You need to smile with your eyes?”  Ug – I feel silly.  Shelby looks fine when she is not smiling. My question is how did those ladies in the Ballerina Project look so graceful while conveying an emotion with their faces and body?  Maybe they are actually feeling something when these photos are taken…I need to work on this.   I need to practice a pose (which I printed out a ton from the website), wearing my costume and while attempting to project some kind of emotion on my face and body.  I need to do all of this before Wednesday, because that is when we are re-convening for our second attempt at these pictures.

Wow, this is harder than I thought.  Who new modeling was so intense?  Wish me luck.

Watching Ballet Videos on YouTube

It seems that Tuesdays are going to be my days off from practicing, stretching or working out.  “And the seventh day (she) rested.”  I have to take a break every so often, ya know?  While I sit and think about not practicing, I usually read blogs about ballet or watch them on YouTube.  Today I watched a wide array of videos.  Ranging from SUPER DUPER AWESOME to “Oh boy; get those pointe shoes off that poor woman before she snaps her Achilles.”  I would love to show you some of the more terrible videos, but I am not a mean girl.  Who am I to judge?  I may very well look as pathetic as some of those people in pointe shoes.  As the saying goes: “People (or here – ballerinas) who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.” I am not professional dancer by any means, so I have absolutely no room to judge others on their abilities in this recreation either.

Honestly, the reason I watch these videos and read other people’s blogs is so I can learn more about myself as a ballet dancer and what my future could be. I want to know what professionals can do, what amateurs usually do and compare what I currently can do.  Clearly, I am nowhere near a professional level.  [Ha – that’s funny.]  In all likelihood – I will never even get within a stones throw of that level.  However, I am not as sucky as some of the amateur videos I watched.  I see movements that I believe are possible for me in the future; even with this “slightly” aged body of mine.  So, I feel my future lies somewhere in the middle of these two.  Doesn’t sound so bad, actually.  No complaining here.

I also find hope in the videos as well.  There are an astonishing amount of adult beginner ballet videos out there.  I was surprised to see so many people, like myself, taking the necessary steps to fulfill a dream that has commonly been reserved for young people…Ahhhhh…Feels good to have company.

If any of you actually seek some of these videos out – please, do not judge.  In my opinion – they have a big set of brass low-hangers.  Any woman (or girl) who has the courage to get out on that stage or studio floor and dance without inhibition is truly commendable.  I know my dancing will reach a whole new level when I am able to do the same.  How does the saying go? “It takes an athlete to dance, but an artist to be a dancer.”  Yup – that is what I want.

Wow – I am full of famous quotes today.

Sciatica – Oh, How I Long for Relief!

I have a wicked case of sciatica.  For those who are not familiar, sciatica is the condition caused by the irritation of the sciatic nerve (which is a “big, ropey nerve” as described by my sis-in-law) that is located in the lower back that travels down into the left hip.  Irritation is caused by the inflammation of the surrounding muscles and/or tendons.  In my case, it is caused by both the hamstring I injured in late spring coupled with the turn out muscles I have been stretching over the last several weeks.   Last night I woke up at 5 am and was thinking about the pain that is ever-present in my left butt-cheek.  I know I have blogged about it before, but it has really, really, really been bothering me.  Normally, it does not bother me during practice, or when I lay down, or even when I stand, but it interferes with my work.  YES, my work. I am one of those lucky few who has a cushy office job.  Probably the best office job there is.  The problem is that sitting is exactly what causes the pain to start.  Even worse is that the pain started traveling into my left calve muscle.

I am extremely knowledgable about these types of injuries.  My line of work lends itself to the sick or infirm.  Especially individuals who suffer from orthopedic injuries.  Now I am like one of my clients – complaining of chronic pain that is interfering with my concentration and overall comfort.  I swear I spend 60% of my day wiggling around from one butt-cheek to the other trying to relief the ever-present, stabbing, sharp pain.  I thought I could handle it.  I thought, “What’s the big deal?  Every dancer or athlete has an injury.  You just have to man-up and power through it.”  Well, I am no longer able to.  I made an appointment with my (awesome) doctor.  I am hoping he is not going to tell me what I think he is going to say, “Stop the ballet.  You are never going to get better unless you stop.” And I would retort, “Oh, I’m sorry.   That is simply not an option.  Now shut up and give me some Flexeril.”  Flexeril is an anti-inflammatory medication.  Pain medication is not an option and Advil is no longer cutting the mustard either.

I hate that I have this blasted injury.  I would take a lost toe nail to this incessant pain any damn day.  I suppose that having an injury like this is somewhat normal for an over-30 ballet beginner, like myself.  I mean, shit happens right?!  “Life is tough.  Get a helmet” kind of stuff, right?!   I am hoping (praying) that my beloved doc will tell me that all will be well and I just need to ice, rest, ice some more and take a Flexeril (or two).  Cause guess what?!  I am NOT stopping now.  I have come too far.

Longing for Pointe

So I have already posted that I mis-sewed my shoes. Well, I have bestowed the duty of re-sewing the elastic to the General.  She is supposed to get them to me tomorrow, which is Sunday and is my big practice day of the week.  I feel if I do not get them soon I am going to start regressing. I know it sounds silly, but I do not want to start getting complacent so early into my training regiment.  I am looking forward to getting my pointe shoes back so I can start working on my turns.  I want to make sure I am in tip-top shape so the General will feel comfortable enough to put me in a more complex pointe recital this spring.  I really want to make her proud…..and my husband, and my kids and my close friends! I feel so lucky – I have made so many new friends this last year!  This is truly a new adventure for me; I have a past time that make me proud to be me!  I just hope I live up to all that I am actually longing for!