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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Late Wednesday

I slept a lot last night -- not used to working out like this.  But away I went to Pilates class again and arrived five minutes before class was to start!  So, we worked with the arms -- holding 2 lb. weights, we went through a series of arm toners, sitting on Swiss balls and trying not to fall off while moving our limbs.  First we just marched with our feet, keeping square.  Then, weights in hand, we lifted our arms up and out to the side; then up and forward; then, elbows at sides and arms making right angles, we pushed our elbows up and down, up and elbows touching, pulsing and holding at the end of 10 reps.  Then we pulled our chests out and moved our arms behind us, pulsing and holding; then, arms back, pressing our palms together; moving elbows up and down behind us.

Next were the planks on the Swiss ball and, in plank position, moving our knees toward the chest while on the Swiss ball, then flipping on our backs, lifting the hips up and down.  Then, standing, we bent our backs over the Swiss balls at a right angle and moved opposite legs sideways.

The next series of exercises were my favorites:  Swiss ball behind small of the back leaning against the wall we did squats while holding weights.  Then we stood and rose on the balls of our feet and did the same thing.  I could feel my hips crunching.  Lastly, we shrugged our shoulders, rolled up and down to the ground, and balanced on our toes.

On the way to coffee, I stopped at the nearby ballet school to ask about today's class -- most places are closed or have shorter hours today; that is why I opted to go to the gym early and I don't feel like walking around in the rain all day.  So, there is a class later which I will attend...the Pilates teacher wished us Happy Thanksgiving, saying there was no class on Friday, the day of recovery.

I danced again.  I went to intermediate class and I was the only adult except for another lady I have known from classes for years.  This teacher is strict but good and, since I have faults, I would rather be with the children and get corrected than be in an advanced class and get lost in the shuffle.

I stood at barre next to the young girls, wishing I had their youthful bodies.  Even so, I tried to stand up straight and noticed how much I always wanted to lean forward -- so I tried leaning back, a trick another teacher had told us.  It felt strange, but at least I looked straighter.  The barre went well except at the end when we did balances on demi-toe in passe and attitude and the teacher came up to me and said, "You're off your leg.  Do you see how much you are leaning.  Your hip is sticking up."  Then she poked the back of my standing leg, saying, "Get forward, you have to have something to counter the balance."

And she's so right.  I was glad she corrected me because, afterwards, I felt so much more secure in the balances.  Now to have the discipline to continue in this track.  "Part of the reason you can't lift your leg in arabesque is because you're sticking out in the back," she said quite objectively.  Right again.  From Pilates I am learning that I must isolate my leg from the rest of my body.

After a critical barre, I looked much better in center, which is the reverse of how I used to be, that is, my barres were always perfect but my centers were too rigid.  Now that I have been picked apart, I am beginning to look more comfortable with my dancing skills.  We started with 2 tendus croise front, 2 croise derrierre, fondu croise releve efface, pas de bourre to 4th, pirouette en dehors.  Then we did the same beginning but releve efface, seconde, back, pas de bourre en tournant, pirouette en dedans.  The teacher said, "Dorothy, you're not forward enough on your leg.  She teaches that to pirouette, you must be really forward.  This is one method, and I have heard of others, where you should be equally balanced on both legs, but, as she said at barre, when in class, you must do what you are told.

Then we jumped:  4 changements, 2 royales, chasse coupe assemble, quatres.  She said to her young girls, say it, "chasse coupe assemble.  I wish I could have more pointed feet when I jump -- I still look like a duck.  The last combination, or grand allegro, was temp leve arabesque, chasse pas de bourre, glissade grand jete with back leg in attitude, arms forward (Dorothy!  Arms forward -- you must think!), coupe same in other direction, once more, with glissade assemble, and land the pose.  The teacher said at barre, when you dance, you want to finish, because this really excites the audience.  You must learn how to control your movements.

Then we curtsied to the teacher and I went away to stretch, watching the next class, the advanced dancers.  I watched one dancer who is also another one of my teachers at barre and noticed how her pointed feet went down into the floor and how she balanced on a high, high demi-toe, and mostly, how straight and turned out her plies were.  The teacher kept telling them, plie, plie.  I was amazed when she corrected this wonderful dancer at barre, finding fault with even the best dancer.  Everyone can get better.

It is still raining outside but I made the most of it and went back to the gym and swam for an hour, surprised at how strong and fast I churned up the water.  I had seen my teacher of the day earlier when I checked on the schedule of classes and overheard her talking to a dancer, when you're old, you can't eat so much anymore.  So, tomorrow, even though it is Thanksgiving, I will listen to the teacher.

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