I think I will go to pointe class today to see if all my strength training has paid off.
Oh, I forgot, there is a Nutcracker performance today at the school and pointe class is cancelled. So, I hurried to the gym in time for Pilates. South Loop location, new gym, teacher with scoliosis like me. She was hard on me, positioning me into the moves I couldn't do for lack of strength, like oblique curls. Also, in curls, she adjusted my head and shoulders to be even higher off the floor. Like me chiropractor said, it's more a problem with my shoulders and really my entire back, as I learned later in ballet class. But, back to Pilates, since I was next to the mirror, I could really see how my hips were not straight and down as we did leg swings while lying on our backs. A new exercise that I liked was, lying on our stomachs, place bent arms by chest and lift chest by not hoisting with our arms. The worst, and best, exercise for me, the teacher told me after class, is the Mermaid, where you sit sideways with knees bent and try to extend the opposite arm over your head, stretching your side. She told me when she started doing these sideways stretches, she really created more room in her bent spine. She told another lady, if you can't straighten your arm, you can bend it, as long as you stretch your side. The teacher came by me and pushed my torso sideways and it really felt good to have this adjustment. After class we talked some more and set up a free complimentary private session for next week.
Then I got on the train and went dutifully to ballet class and I found out that the regular teacher was in a Nutcracker performance and so we had a sub, a dancer from Deeply Rooted dance company. She was saying fun things like, when you do your arabesques, hold the position proudly, as if to say to the other dancers, "you can wait." Ha, ha! Her emphasis today was on keeping the pelvis still. Since I was so sore from Pilates (and the teacher said to take it easy since I had not taken Pilates regularly for a while and not to do too much and get a stress injury), and tired of being bent over, I did some of the barre exercises while holding the barre with both arms. Engaging my arms this way, as we do in my pointe class, I can feel square and really work my legs.
The barre was nice and comfortable, with lots of tendus and rolling through the feet. I especially liked the pas de cheval combination: pique pique front, pas de cheval to 5th, two degages; repeat en croix, then do swings en cloche, fondu degage front, to passe, to arabesque. We did developpes a la seconde with a fouette to attitude balance and fast grand battements. Throughout barre, I watched how the teacher did everything so effortlessly but with control and strength.
In center, we did some more pretty combinations. We started with tendus croise to tendus seconde to pique sou sou to pirouettes. We did balances and lots of steps with diagonal movements. The jumps were also comfortable: 1st, 1st, 2nd, echappe, changements. We did glissades change, assembles, jetes and later did these with beats. For the grand allegro, we started with the arabesque pose, chasse pas de bourre, glissade grand jete. A very traditional, nice class. I chatted with the teacher and another student I met who regularly travels from Iowa to Chicago on weekends to attend dance classes. We talked about the necessity of more movement in ballet and, after Pilates class, I could see how this freer type of movement is so much more expressive and healthy. Maybe this is why there are so many smaller modern dance companies around these days.
I was so tired on the bus back to the pool that I almost fell asleep but then a young couple with a little girl dressed in pink cheered me up. The girl ran on the bus and said, "I found a seat!" Her mother said, "Sit down, then." Soon I arrived to the pool and almost fell asleep again in the steam room. Then I crawled into the whirlpool, closing my eyes again, and finally, into the water. I didn't have time to swim as the gym closes early on weekends, but I did do some laps with the kickboard.
Now I'm home, resting and playing with my kitten and feel so refreshed. I dream of sugarplums, but it's water and diet coke for me. I bought a yummy banana nut muffin on the way to the gym, but it is waiting for the morning. I'm really too tired to eat it anyway!