Archive | November 2012

“Mature” Professional Ballerinas DO Exist!

I checked out a recent post by the Adult Beginner Ballerina blog, which provided a link to a recent 60 Minutes segment regarding the New York City Ballet Company.  The second video provided a profile of a professional ballerina that is in her 40’s!  I thought they retired in their 20’s! It’s like equivalent of finding out that Santa Claus really does exist!  What a wonderful batch of news, don’t you agree?

I urge all of you aspiring ballerinas out there to take a gander at this video from 60 Minutes.  I mean, let’s face it.  Who wouldn’t want to meet Santa?  Am I right?!

NYCB Goodness

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Discouraged Beginner

Whoever wrote me an email entitled this, would you please resend it to me? I accidentally deleted it!! My finger slipped on my phone and bam! It was gone. I’m so sad. I really love getting emails from my readers.

So please please please resend me the email. I want to help!!

Sincerely,

The klutz

Barre Work

I am happy to report that I have discovered a new adult beginner Ballerina!  Well, to be precise, she actually discovered me and now I want everyone, in turn, to discover her.   It’s important that we all stick together, agreed?!

Her name is Antoinetta13 and her blog is called Barre Work.

Alright ladies and gents – lets let this fellow adult beginner feel welcome in our blogging community. OK?

🙂

Discovered New Muscles

I was looking in the mirror during class and I noted something strange about my body.  At first I thought it was a new fat deposit by my hips.  That would be no bueno.  However, tonight while I was preparing my children’s bath I noticed that it wasn’t a fat deposit, but a new butt muscle! Sa-weet.  I am starting to develop that neat indentation on the sides of my butt that dancers get.  I have always been envious of the way dancers butts look so defined and strong, as opposed to just “round”.  I also noticed that my quadriceps muscle that connects into my hips is much defined now too.  I think it is the new theraband exercise I have been doing (see last post).  Isn’t it fun to discover new muscles! One of the best parts of becoming a ballet dancer is gaining new muscles that you never knew existed before.  I always wanted a dancer’s body and it seems I am well on my way.  *Nice.

Speaking of ballet bodies, you should have seen the stuff that the General was making us do last night during class.  I told her it wasn’t nice to make such an old woman, like myself, contort her body in such unnatural ways.  Ha!  This morning my thighs, hips and lower back felt like kneaded pieces of dough.  It was a solid class last night.  I love feeling my body all fatigued; it means your body worked.  One of the things ee were worked on was this:

It’s called a penchée or arabesque penchée.  Much to my surprise, I was actually able to lift and hold my leg higher than I thought.  I was like, “BAM! Now what?!  You children have nothing on me! I am a ballet ANIMAL!!!”  (roar)

We also worked on flexibility and fouette turns.  Flexibility is coming along and, I suppose, so are my fouettes.  It has been a while since the General had us work on them in center and she made us do pique/fouette turns across the whole floor, alone.  It was scary knowing that the General was going to see my fouettes again.  I was actually relieved that she didn’t scold me too much about them.  On the plus side, she was able to pinpoint my problems with my right fouettes and I was able to modify my movement to see some immediate improvement.  It always blows my mind when I am actually able to phsysically correct something when asked.

I am feeling pretty good about my progress as of late people.  I have definitely had some good lessons in between the bad ones lately and it is really picking up my spirits and giving me a little confidence.  I wish I could stay in Disneyland FOREVER!!! 🙂

Turkey POWER

We had a make-up classes today.  The General said that I was able to take the ballet 1-2 and the ballet 3 class  today, so it was about 3 1/2 hours of straight dancing.  I have to admit, I was nervous to go to class today.  I have taken a little break from my normal workout schedule this week, given it was a holiday and all.  I thought I was going to be tired, weak or just OFF.  Well, the opposite happened – I think I had an (overall) good class!  Me and Ms. Disney wore pointe shoes the entire first class and I felt balanced, strong and secure/comfortable in my shoes.  Totally awesome.  These Gaynors were a good purchase.  I was turning well on my left and my right! My piques were off the chain! (Well, it felt like they were).  I was goofing around at the bar and I worked on my attitudes en pointe and even the General said they looked nice.  I just adore a pretty attitude, don’t you?!

I was surprised that I felt as strong as I did today, given the amount of calories I consumed over the last 2 days.  But I realized that it is probably all those extra calories that gave me the energy to power through both classes without much trouble.  The General worked us hard, but my Turkey Power kept me going.  I’ve got Turkey Power.  Don’t hate the player ladies, hate the Turkey Power. HA!

Well, after all my “powerful” eating, it is time to diet (again).  I am going on a cabbage soup-esque diet over the next couple days to help purge all of the crap that I put into my body over the last week.  I feel like a horse and I don’t like it.  After that, it’s back to normal eating.  The holidays are tough, so I need to be strong in between the parties and frequent get togethers that occur during the month of December.  So, for the next week, I am consuming only a protein shake for lunch, cabbage soup for lunch and dinner and peanuts, meat and humus for snacks.  Yummm.  It is actually a really balanced diet – My morning shake has protein, spinach, berries, oats and skim milk; the soup has cabbage, carrots, spinach, celery and beans (that’s it!); and with nuts, meat, humus and veggies for snacks.  It’s a high fiber, high protein and low sugar diet.  My husband and I are going to the Nutcracker on Friday and I want to look good.  Who knows? I may meet a real live ballerina!! If so, I better look killer.  You feel me?!

Well, I hope all of you had a great Thankskilling, I mean, Thanksgiving too.  Next stop Christmas baby! WAHOO!

🙂

Am I the Only One?

Question: Am I the only person who actually practices ballet in front of people?

I know it is kind of strange, but I will bust out an arabesque, attitude or passe in releve when I am in public.  I just can’t help it.  I love to practice.  I love to make my body contort in these positions even if it looks strange.  At home, the office, friends, family, strangers (?) you name it.  I am ready to perform at all times.

I’m sure I look odd.  I mean, who does that?  Who just shoots up into passe for the hell of it and then tries to balance? You would think I would be embarrassed, but I don’t even think about it.  I just do.  I do the same thing with singing, really. I will sing in front of people, even if I do not know them.  I have nothing to hide.

Maybe I am a little proud of myself.  Maybe I just want someone, anyone, to consider me as a dancer and not just a “wanna-be” dancer.  Just like going to law school and becoming a lawyer, it took me a long time to even admit what my profession was until I was satisfied that I had earned my title.  I don’t feel I have earned the title or “ballet dancer” yet and I yearn for others to start associating it with me.

The question is: Am I the only ballet dancer (or one in training) who does this?  Do other ballet dancers do this, or am I handi-quacked or something?

Please tell me I am not the only one.

More on Sciatica

Kate writes:

Hi, I’m a ballet dancer too and having huge trouble at the moment with bad sciatica pain. I’ve searched google for some advice but any exercises are for non-dancers or for people who do dance for fun. However ballet is my life and taking it easy is just not an option, which I’m sure you understand! It was reassuring to read that you have a similar problem to me and I wondered if you have any advice or exercises that could help? The pain gets worse with arabesques and back bends and working on turnout, but these are things that I have to keep working on! The pain gets better only when I take time off, but as you know these days we’re expected to be like contortionists so I really can’t give stretching a rest. However the pain is terrible and leaving me very miserable. I’d really, really appreciate any advice you have for relieving pain and also how to prevent it! I do pilates and I always warm up gently and slowly, but this doesn’t seem enough…

Hope to hear from you soon!

Thanks in advance,

Kate

My response:

Oh Kate – I know what you are going through.  The pain associated with this type of injury can be unbearable at times.  I thought the pain would never go away, but it has significantly subsided over the last couple of months.  I still have it, but it does not get as inflamed as it used to.  Thank you, Jesus.

The sciatic nerve is a big, nasty ropy nerve that runs down your butt and into your legs.  Activity like working your turn out and stretching your hamstring muscles can cause inflammation in the surrounding ligaments and thereby irritate the sciatic nerve.  Hence, why you have pain when you practice or stretch and have none when you rest.  The only cure for sciatica when you are a dancer is not to dance.  Not an option, so the question is what can you do to help alleviate the pain while continuing to pursue your passion?  Here is what I did:

The pain got so bad I went and saw my doctor. I was terrified that he was going to tell me to stop dancing.  Quite the contrary.  He actually said, “Well, it hasn’t stopped you yet. Why would my advice change your activity now?”  So right.  My doctor wanted to do an MRI of my lumbar spine.  I say (politely), “Hell-to-the-No”.  Why?  As an injury lawyer I know a lot about the costs of certain medical procedures and what happens after the MRI is administered.  I’m sorry, but for $1,000 I just didn’t think it was going to tell me anything I didn’t already know.  Then my doctor suggested physical therapy.  I gave him another “no”.  Why? Once again, cost and the fact that two of my husband’s best friends are physical therapists.  I see one in particular all of the time and he already said he would give me exercises to do (which I will get to later).  I asked him whether he could give me some cortisone to help with the inflammation (who is the doctor here?).  I got one of those 7 day packs and I have to say it helped a lot.  I think the inflammation was so bad that Advil was just not cutting it.  So, I suggest that you contact your doctor and see if this is an option for you.

As for physical therapy, my husband’s friend stated that I may be having so much pain because my hamstring muscles and the muscles around my hip flexors are not as strong as they should be.  He said the stronger your muscles are, the more control you have in your movement and the more protected your surrounding ligaments are and may prevent inflammation.  Makes sense to me.  He gave me a couple of exercises to do at home and, once again, I have definitely seen improvement.   The exercises are as follows:

Tie the theraband to the bottom of a sturdy post.   I usually use the bottom of my bed or the couch.  Lie on your stomach in front of the post, wrap the theraband around your calf muscle and pull your leg towards you.  Do you feel your hamstring working (not to mention your butt)?!  You should! Here is a picture to illustrate this (I drew it myself!)

The next exercise is similar.  Turn over onto your back and put the theraband on your knee.  If the band is too high, it is going to roll down and that hurts!  Now pull the knee to your chest.  You should feel this in your hips and abs muscles.  Then, try the same exercise but pull your knee to second position.  Think Grand Battement, but with only your knee.  DO YOU FEEL THAT NOW?! Holy crow.  THEN try the same two movements together! Front to side, side to front (and so forth). Good stuff.  Here is another picture!

If you are having pain when doing arabesques and back bends, you may need to work on your back muscles as well.  The exercise I do to strengthen my back is lie on my stomach and while keeping my legs and hips to the floor, pull my chest up as far as I can.  You can use your arms to push your back further.  Hold the position for 60 seconds and then do it again.  Make sure you are forcing your back muscles to hold the position (as opposed to your arms).  I also grab my ankles and rock back and forth on my stomach.  I can’t draw this one, but I think you understand what I am talking about.

Well, there you have it.  Beyond sitting/sleeping on ice packs and taking Advil (which I also suggest your do) this is what I did to finally address my ass pain, I mean, sciatica.  I really hope this helps, Kate.

Remember, I am not a doctor. These are just of the things I did to help my pain. If your pain does not resolve within a month or two, go see a doctor.  OK?

Happy Thanksgiving!