Tag Archive | Ballet Class

Doubles. Clean Doubles.

Yes. Yes. I know. I’ve been a little vacant lately. I’m a busy, little lady. Kids. Work. Husband. Parents. In-laws. Illnesses. It’s enough to drive a sane woman cray-cray. Or just crazy. Depending on your mood.

I was inspired to post because this evening’s class was very eventful. In many different ways.

The bad news – I started feeling an aching pain in my left calf. Did I injure my calf? No. My lower back injury had been officially aggravated. Oh yes. I know the difference. My back is “junk” (as my good friend describes a chronic injury) and that, is that. I was feeling pretty shitty about it in the beginning of class. Just a little (constant) reminder that my body isn’t what my desire wants anymore. I don’t recover from injuries overnight. Sprains are not fleeting. I have to wait for my body to decide to do what is wants to do. And it’s depressing.

But then the “good” happened.

I landed (consistently, mind you) clean double pirouettes during class tonight. For all of you real ballet enthusiasts, you know what a “clean double” means and for those who don’t, it means staying in passé en releve until the movement has been completed. It sounds easy, but it isn’t. When you cannot do a single cleanly, you fall out of the passé too soon. Same with the double. Or even a triple! (Dream on LB). Regardless, when you do a clean single or double? You know it. It feels different. Yes. It feels….exquisite. Perfect. Beautiful. It just feels right.

So guess what? I did a lot of clean doubles tonight. Albeit they were mainly on my left, but they were clean. So clean that my normally rigid instructor said that the class had a good turn night. And when I was performing my left doubles, everyone was watching. I knew it. And I didn’t falter. Booooooom. If made me so happy. Regardless of my aching lower back, I felt accomplished.

It was a good day.

And that is the end of my post. 😘

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Summer 2014 Ballet!

So I just saw the summer schedule for my studio and I’m happy to announce that there are two teen/adult classes offered! I am so very excited. My instructor did say she was going to put a word in for me about adding a class, but I didn’t think it was actually going to materialize! So from June to August I will be ballet-ing two times a week with a curriculum that will actually help me progress. I am excited and actually touched the studio wanted to help accommodate my needs, even if not just mine but other students who desire the extra classes! (Boom).

An important side note, I have been continuing to progress despite the lightened schedule. It seems that stress was my biggest inhibitor after all. It also doesn’t hurt that I have been working out like a maniac for the last two months. I have serious muscle again, not to mention that I can jump like a squirrel on steroids. (Well, kind of.). All thanks to good old plyometrics!

So what are my ballet goals? Honestly, I am still struggling to figure out how to get a decent grand battlement. I am strong and relatively flexible, but my leg will not extend much past 90 degrees in first position. Then I see younger, weaker girls who just put it up there with no problem. What in the hell am I missing?!?! My theory – I am utilizing the wrong muscles when I extend. I focus on my hamstrings and not on my butt and feet to help lift the foot into the air. So how do I practice this? Anyone have any suggestions on improving this or should I be resolved to defeat?

Hmmmm. I guess only time will tell. 😉

Plyometrics + Ballet = Bliss

Hello dear readers. I hope all is well with all of you. I am doing great!! So many things to talk about. I know – “LB? What’s the haps, yo?! Have you quit ballet? Quit blogging? What’s the deal?” (In my head, everyone is under 25 and uses trendy lingo in his/her everyday conversations. Using words like “haps” and “yo” is totally the norm. In fact “totes” is often used, but I don’t want to scare you off with all my “cool” talk.)

Anywho – I have been here. Ballet-ting, working out and (the not so fun part) dieting. Yes dieting. Sweet Baby Jesus do I hate dieting. But the outcome is always worth it. I am actually on a “Weight Watchers” type of program. I down loaded an app that provides me with “points” and tracks the foods I eat. At my height, weight and age, I do not get many points. [Insert frowny-clown-face here.]. This diet is not always easy. I get hungry, but there are foods that don’t count as points (fruits and veggies), I literally munch on baby carrots between delicious meals of protein shakes, eggs with stir fried vegetables and hot sauce, ground turkey (turkey chili, shell-less tacos), fish and more and more and more vegetables! Mmmmmm. Are you salivating yet?! (The sad thing is, I am. Ha!). I also eat rice and raw oatmeal, but I limit my intake and I measure everything. I also eat spaghetti once a week because life isn’t worth living without noodles. So that is my diet. Pretty simple and sometimes boring, but it gets the job done. Oh yeah, and I no longer drink at all during the week. No more glass of Shiraz before bed for this fitness buff! Boring. [Insert frowny-faced-hobo here.]. It really isn’t that bad, but man do I miss fast food. I have abstained from crappy food for so long that I was even yearning for a cartoon (yes, cartoon) hamburger that I saw on the show “Bobs Burgers” the other night. Awesome show. Awesome food. Yes, I’m hungry. Enough said.

With the dieting, comes the exercise. I decided that since I am not in so many ballet classes, I might as well use the time wisely and get my ass in fighting shape. And I mean fighting shape. I want to successfully wrestle a giraffe to the ground with my bare hands. (Anyone? Answer: Step Brothers. Boom.). Honestly, I have wussed out with my workouts for long enough and I need to get my fitness-body back. Beautiful, brainy and brawny. That’s what a real woman is made of! Ha!

My plan of attack? Plyometric training. I created an intense circuit that is a combination of upper body weight training. and plyometric exercises. It takes 45 minutes to complete the entire circuit and by the time I’m done, I am toast. (Mmmmm. Toast. With jelly. *drool.). No breaks, no stopping, no excuses. I’m such a glutton for punishment. I have been at this program for one month and I am finally acclimated to it. I’m actually at the point where I can add one more circuit of exercises (I currently have 3 circuits, each has 4 different exercises and I do 4 sets of each). I’m seeing progress and I am finally leaning out and getting cut. I have a little more to go and I am confident to reach my goal by next month. I’m going to Disney and I want to look good. So what if it’s a place for kids! I want to be the most fit mama there!

Now with this program of dieting and exercises, you need to be patient. Remember folks – slow and steady wins the race. Stick to your diet, even if you don’t see the scale go down immediately or you reach a weight loss plateau. You need to keep plugging away at the training, no matter how tired or hung over you are (aka last Sunday – I had to make up for lost time!). In the end, you will see results and you will be so proud at yourself from setting, sticking with (and hopefully) meeting your goals! LB has spoken!

As for ballet, clearly my training has helped my progress. But the best part, I am feeling so confident in class now. My feet actually do I want them to. I thought the connection between my feet and brain would never happen. I am doing combinations with ease and have actually picked up my pace. It feels wonderful! My instructor, who still has us work on single pirouettes, asked me to start working on my doubles! Yeah! She thinks I’m ready for doubles!! (Ha!).

I need more practice and my instructor want me to take more classes. The problem is, in not ready (for her standards) to move up. That’s fine, I just have to find somewhere else to practice. And I did. There is a studio nearby that just opened up, and low and behold, they have an adult ballet class on Saturday afternoons! There is just one thing – the class is very, very beginner. I am not a beginner. However, this really isn’t a problem because only goal is to work on my alignment and improve basic technique. The teacher is spunky and has a youthful perspective on ballet. It’s quite refreshing. She makes me laugh and I have fun working on the combinations I learn at the other studio. The other day we were working on jetes. Well, the beginners were just running and then hoping over a stuffed alligator. Nope, the days of aimlessly leaping over children’s play thugs are over for me! I asked the instructor if I could work on my jete combination instead. Of course I can! The moto is “free you body and let your soul free with dance” here! When it was my turn, I tombe pada bourre glissade jete-ed across the floor (repeat 3 times!). I’m actually able to control them now. (Boom). When I was done, the women in my class liked it so much they wanted to do it too! I was happy to inspire the group. It is kind of weird being the best in the class. That’s a real first. Mind you, there are only two other students in the class, but I will happily take the title anyway! LB has no shame!

I am having fun with ballet again. I missed that feeling and I was without it for so long. No more stress. No more pressure to perform. Just a regimented, predictable, professional classical ballet technique class. Add awesome workouts at the gym and getting fit to that and that is what I call “pure bliss”, my friends. Pure bliss

I hope you are all doing well. I would love to hear from you so give me a shout!!

Kisses. LB

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Up, up, up and away!

What a positive way to begin a blog post. Don’t you think? Well unlike some other things in my life (that will remain nameless), ballet is a positive contributor to my world right now! Isn’t that just wonderful?!

I was reading a fellow bloggers recent post from Life and Times that focused on how you have good days and bad days in ballet. Isn’t that the truth?! One day you can land double pirouettes flawlessly and the next day you can barely spin around once without falling out of your passé. Bad days occurred quite frequently at my last Studio, but it doesn’t seem to be a real problem at this new one. Currently, I see or feel some noticeable improvement somewhere, someway in every class I take. I am actually able to execute the critiques that are given to me. Mind you, some of the critiques are pretty simple like remembering to align my hips or lift my arm appropriately in second. Regardless, I am getting better and I am finally regaining confidence in the studio. Confidence that I lost so many months ago. It’s exquisite to have my head back together.

Tonight, for example, we did a series of combinations involving pirouettes, jeté and some other movement I can’t remember the name of (something super Frenchy). Normally, I am coupled with the group of girls that are still the “beginners”. The level two students usually go first and separately because they have a higher tempo and have an expectation to execute the combination cleaner then the other students. Tonight, I was able to dance with the level 2 girls!! I am finally getting recognized that I am strong and consistent! (By the way, I hate to brag, my Jetes?? I don’t leap. I fly, yo. Hurray!)

I feel like my day is coming. I am going to be asked to move up. I heard her talking about some other girls in a different class. I think they are making these decisions because our next tuition is due soon. Will I get asked to move up (up, up) and away into a Level 2 class soon? Who knows! If not now, it may be in the near future. I inquired about taking some privates to help me progress and work on my rusty areas. Aka my tight left hip.

Well, I hope all is well. Smiling wide today.

I Have Found the Glow

Something terrible happened this week – the General badly fractured her wrist. She had to get a lot of hardware installed and she is out of the studio until she has recovers. I am so lost without her presence there. It’s so lonely. It’s weird. But, in order to keep her spirits up – the dancers are pushing forward. The General’s daughter (let’s call her Willow – because she is wispy, graceful and beautiful) has been teaching class and she is doing a great job keeping us all focused and motivated. Keeping high spirits has been exceptionally difficult for me lately because I have been preparing for one of the biggest trials of my career – nothing but work for weeks now. Soon it will be over, but until that time comes I am a little distracted.

Willow has been doing her best to keep us on track to improve in the areas the General was concerned with prior to her injury (I.e flexibility, stronger turn out and higher grand battement). However, the last thing we worked was the waltz. Ahhhh – the waltz. It seems simple enough, until you do it, let alone to music. A lot of adult beginners struggle with getting the rhythm and footing. If you have never danced – it seems almost impossible. You fumble, you trip. Nothing seems natural about it. Now that I am more then just a mere “beginner” (ha! Still seems hard to believe) I am finally starting to catch on to the waltz’s crazy ways. Yes, the waltz seems less complicating to me now. (Yeah!)

So in spirit of keeping the Generals desire to have us improve the Waltz step, Willow had us work on the waltz this Thursday. Something happened during class. I don’t know how it happened of why. Maybe it was the music or my mood. Either way – I finally let myself dance to the waltz. I couldn’t help but smile through the combination across the floor, even when I flubbed a step. I kept my chest upright and my head held high and for some reason, it helped me dance better. I looked at myself glide across the floor and I looked like I was glowing, just like ballerinas do. I was secure and I was happy. It was so amazing.

It seems that confidence IS key with dance. Once you feel a sense of security in what you are doing, you carry yourself better. When you carry yourself better, you dance better. It’s a (scientific) fact. I even utilized my new poise in my pirouettes and wouldn’t you know it?? I was actually landing my doubles more consistently. Frig-yeah frigger!

My point? Keep your head up, shoulders back and you back straight. More importantly – Smile. 😊. Even beginners can find the glow. When you do – you have finally shed your newbie status. (*joy).

Silver Lining

Last night’s lesson was kind of odd. The General had something on her mind and was a little distracted. We spent a majority of the class stretching and the rest was dedicated to leaping and working on grand battements, which are tough because of my hamstring injury. I really needed a good stretch, though. I was able to thoroughly stretch everything. Call me Gumby, baby.

As for leaps, while my right leaps are not so great right now, my left were looking not too shabby. I feel so much more in control of my body in mid-air. I used to flail about. Much like a fish out of water. It was funny, and sad. Ha! During our leap exercise, one of the students proposed doing a calypso leap. For those who don’t know – it involves you first doing a series of prep chaines and then into a turn-leap while you try to literally kick the back of your head. Does that make sense?? YouTube it. My description kind of sucks. Anywho – this time last year I could not do the turn no matter how hard I tried. So when it was proposed that we do these leaps I was less then confident I was able to pull it off. I watched the more advanced students do it a couple times and I just went for it. Guess what???? I did it!! I really did it! I was so excited I could barely contain my enthusiasm! I just kept doing them over and over and over again! Sure, they were not perfect, but who cares! I did something I couldn’t do last year! The mental block has been removed!! “Look at me! I’m a calypso-er!!!! Whoopie!!!”

Then guess what else happened?! Yup – it gets better and I am going to boast. The General was giving me tips on how to improve my left grand battement and she says (wait for it)

“Your leaps look great by the way. Have you been practicing in your backyard??”

*Squee 😆😆😆

I replied, “Nope! Just been working on my stretching!” And then followed up with, “Do you remember when you said that I may never be able to leap well because I started too late?? Well – I guess you were wrong!!!” She laughed (I was being silly). Well, how was she supposed to know? She had never trained an adult before! I only hoped she would be wrong and I’m so glad that se was!! So, not only did I get another compliment from the General, but my leaps are really improving! Wow. What a good night.

Then – it happened. With all that good news, it didn’t help me feel much better about the next news I received. I found out that the General allowed another student to takes some Company classes and she didn’t ask me. Whaaaaaaaaa! 😢. I know it doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it is to me. I personally feel that it is a real accomplishment to get the “ok” to dance alongside with the best girls in the whole studio, even if it’s just practicing. I don’t want to be in the company necessarily (well, I would but then I would be delusional), but it would mean so much to me just to be asked to join a company class. I work so hard. I practice, I stretch, I push myself in class, I am always trying to learn and be a better dancer. And with all of my improvement, I thought maybe she would offer the same opportunity. Well, I guess it’s not my time yet and that’s ok. I’m a little disappointed in myself for not being good enough, but I am getting better every day and that is still a great accomplishment, right?? I will never ask the General to join a company class, not ever. And until she asks me to join a company practice (which may never happen), I will not be a part of one. I want to try to earn it. I will keep pushing to do so. Even if I never get there, I will still end up being a pretty stellar adult beginner ballerina!

So – there is still a silver lining to my little grey cloud. I did a calypso leap (slam!), I have confirmation from the General that my leaps have vastly improved (double slam) and I am going to work even harder to try to earn my way into a company practice. ☺️

Interested Ballet Beginner

Well hello y’all!

I recently received an email from a fellow ballet blogger and/or reader and I thought I would post my response. I just think it is super neat-o that there are actually people out there who read my blog, and then to top it all off, want my advise. Super-de-duper people!

An interested ballet beginner writes:

Hello! Your blog is very interesting and I truly enjoy reading it. I haven’t gone thru the whole archives yet but I would like to know how many years of training you had before you danced on pointe? I’m about your age and recently started weekly beginner adult ballet classes. How many classes per week did you take until your teacher approved for you for pointe?

Thank you!

My (awesome) response:

Hello interested blog reader!

I actually went en pointe a year after I started taking ballet classes. The only reasons why this occurred is because: (1) my teacher is extremely progressive and wasn’t opposed to putting a dancer en pointe before having years of training. Every teacher is different on this issue. However, I have noticed that adult beginners have more opportunity to go en pointe earlier because of the fact we are older and our bodies have stopped growing. That means less chance of injuries. Yes, going en pointe can be risky, but you are not walking a tight rope. If you are physically unable, you will know it. No big deal. (2) I am physically able! I am strong (years of running and weight training) and my feet are naturally flexible. I never realized how arched my foot was until I started dancing and saw other girls en pointe. So I do, surprisingly, have some natural ability.

So, there you have it. I hope this helps.

So for all of you adult beginner ballerinas out there – don’t fret. You will advance to pointe some time in your ballet career. Going en pointe really is possible for all of us. It doesn’t matter how hold you are, what your body type is, how talented you are or how long you have taken classes! Keep the faith and your dream will come true!!

🙂