The Pilates teacher today said that proper posture is the key and this creates less tension to the joints. To the muscles, too, I feel. I spoke to the teacher after class about my tight left shoulder and she gave me some exercises to do: take a yoga strap and hold it with your hands behind your back and do a backbend, starting with the head, not the lower back. Like a back dive, I remarked. Also, back against a wall with arms bend overhead, begin to "walk" down the wall with your hands. See how far your back will bend. Also, hold your elbows behind your back and move the shoulders out as far as they will go. I said it's all stress and she said it is the stress we put on ourselves. Still, it is a strong person who can resist the goings of the world and be so disciplined. Funny, but in a ballet class last week, when everyone followed a barre combination and consequently everyone did it wrong, the teacher said, you are all afraid to trust yourselves...
Wrapped in a ball shape, curl your abdomen into yourself and feel how stretched and less tense your back becomes. There are shapes your body needs to make, not just walk like a robot....well, yoga class later will be my chance to make more healthy shapes. I will forego ballet today because my budget will not allow. Thank goodness you go to the gym, the Pilates teacher said. Maybe I will try a barre by myself today, which I have done during past Christmases, when ballet classes were not to be found.
The day has merged into night. Last night I stayed up late to watch Jane Eyre on PBS TV, but could not manage to see the end. It is a masterpiece book about a governess and her employer who become drawn to each other, even though she is not of his society. Well, tonight, I am at the bookstore now, waiting for yoga class, reading magazines. There is an interesting article in the winter 2010 Dance International about Degas.
Degas lived in the Montmartre district of Paris surrounded by artists such as Renoir, Mary Cassatt, Toulouse-Lautrec and van Gogh. He was close friends with Manet. What a place to be! The area itself was a mix of the rich and the poor and a not-so-nice place to be, but the art world flourished. Degas was interested in capturing movement on canvas, "a snapshot of a moment in time," the article, Ballet and Brushstrokes, goes on to say...in the article, Degas is quoted as saying, "People call me the painter of dancers, but I really wish to capture movement itself." How interesting that I have been thinking about the same thing today, movement...the last paragraph was especially intriguing:
"Degas saw the ballet dancer in all her working glory, not the glamour of make-believe. He gained an appreciation for ballet as a career, which required years of endless practice and dedication, much like his work as an artist. Having devoted more than half his oeuvre to ballet, Degas reveals the hidden life of a dancer in 19th-century Paris. Each painting is a portrait, an artist's memory frozen in time."Well, it's almost time to try to do my own barre before yoga...plie, tendu, degage, ronde jambe, fondu, frappe, battements. Then maybe some turns and jumps...hmmm...interesting article about beauty in Psychology Today magazine. If people think the quest for intelligence is admirable, why don't they feel the same way about the quest for beauty? I have been in the bookstore too long!
Now I am home after taking another Pilates class and then the yoga class with Noah right after. On the way home, I felt like a different person, actually enjoying the cold winter air. I feel more powerful than I did last winter. I am watching a fascinating program about the pianist Glenn Gould and how he was so artistic but lonely. I can imagine how, after giving everything to music, life would seem empty as a result. "My favorite motto has been that behind every silver lining is a cloud."
Yet he found joy in clowning around, like singing a German art song to elephants at a zoo. He wanted to live on a farm with a soprano he had met and raise puppies. He many films of himself dressed in outrageous clothes, portraying outrageous characters, like sitting on an empty beach dressed in an overcoat, hat, gloves, glasses, and just sitting there. He died, finally, at the age of 50 after having many strokes. He lived for his art.
I enjoy so much reading about artists, especially when I can get glimpses into their character. Artists are my superheroes, bigger than life. I wish they would be appreciated more for all they do for the betterment of all; they are so often underrated. In the show, I learned that Mr. Gould's approach to the classics was to bring them out of their jaded existence by rendering new interpretations. He absorbed music internally so much that he gave it new life. I love art and always will.