So today I had a doctor's appointment after waiting almost a month and I will have another one next month, for a physical. I'm trying to make the most of my insurance money and, since I'm exercising so much, I am curious as to the state of my health. As they say, do not exercise unless advised by your physician...
I put on the baby blue hospital gown and stared at myself in the mirror while waiting for the doctor. There is something nice about looking at yourself clinically like this, seeing all your flaws that you try to hide, and you shouldn't. You should face your flaws, ugly or not, because they are a part of you. Well, the doctor said I was fine, no worries. Good, because there is nothing worse than being sick and helpless. I am thankful that my health has always been relatively good.
Then I walked home and got on the bus for ballet class. Everything was so busy today, since Christmas starts tomorrow. I got to the studio an hour early, not wanting to take the chance to take a later bus and be in the rush hour traffic. So, once settled, I read my emails and answered some phone calls in the dressing room, since the studio room was full of parents working on their MACs while their children were attending class. No room for me there, either, I thought. Besides, it was nice to stretch out on the dressing room floor and be alone with my thoughts.
Class was taught by a sub, a regular teacher at this studio that I had not seen in a while because of scheduling conflicts, so I was happy to take her class again. She is trained in the feldenkrais method and makes you aware of relaxing the muscles and not forcing movements. She told us to stand in a wide second position and we began the class with plies. She walked around the room to see how everyone was standing and walked past me several times during class, as she had not seen me for a while. She told us to hold our knees back, and to keep our hips square and not do everything with our dominant side.
We did tendus, degages, ronde jambes, with port de bras. Then we did her dreaded frappe combination, which was doing frappes on flat, and then, letting go of the barre, doing the same frappes on demi-toe. I cannot master this but, from all my Pilates training, I can see that this is only possible by holding the core, which is what the teacher said also. Still, I cannot move my working leg while standing on a supporting leg that is in demi-toe. My feet are just not strong enough, so I tried letting go of the barre and doing the exercise this way, while letting go of the barre. Then I tried it on demi-toe but while holding the barre lightly, which is how the barre should always be held, and not gripped, because this does nothing to train your muscles.
I noticed my weaknesses. Also, another exercise this teacher does is, after a barre combination, to face away from the barre and pique into arabesque and balance. I cannot do this either, because my back is not flexible enough to form the correct arch in my body. Therefore, I cannot balance well in arabesque. I watched a young pretty girl stretching her back before class, doing the Pilates chest raises, and noticed how far she could lift her chest off the floor, effortlessly and with suppleness. The young children can do this so well.
It is sad that we lose our mobility of our bodies as we age, becoming stiff and awkward. It shouldn't be so, and part of it is that, as adults, we are stressed by the cares of the world. A cab driver once told me, the children live like princes. No worries. It's sad that life can get us down like this, making our bodies twist painfully. Sometimes I think we think about everything else in the world and ignore the source, ourselves. Like the fable about the goose that laid the golden egg...it's not being selfish, it's just being kind to the beautiful life God has given us.
Well, I digress...exercise will make me reflect on all sorts of things. It actually helps me think and even though sometimes I don't feel like it, it always makes me feel better. So, back to class...after barre, we did tendus with developpes and the teacher remarked that the ecarte position is not to move back but to move our working side forward. There is a lot to work on in the working side, which is often ignored. It is the base from which we elongate into the other movements.
We worked on pirouettes from 5th position, or tour de finis. The teacher said, stop, you are all looking awful! She said, plie and turn and when you land, go through 5th position sou sou instead of crashing down and eventually your turns will look better because they are under control. I also experimented with my arms, moving my shoulders more into the turns. I have been noticing in my classes that the coordination of the arms and legs is really important, and the regular teacher of this class said this to us the last time he taught -- coordination is everything.
Then we did a nice flowing combination: balance, balance, really moving the body at angles, releve attitude turn to pose; chasse pas de bourre, pirouettes and repeat to the other side. Then we did another nice combination: balance, balance, developpe temps leve to chasse pas de bourre grand jete; contretemps pique arabesque to grand fouette to chainnes, ending in chasse pas de bourre grand jete. The teacher told us to bring our arms more forward; everybody want to hold their arms behind their bodies. Also, she told us to put our arms behind our back and run toward her as fast as we could, leading with the chest. This is how you should move across the floor, she said, with your heart. Without the heart, there is no dance, she said.
We jumped, starting with 15 changements and the teacher said here to rebound off the floor, which is what the regular teacher told me to think of while jumping. It's called jumping, this teacher said. Then we did glissade jete, coupe, ballonne, pas de bourre en tournant step jete entrelace to brises. The grand allegro was chasse pas de bourre, developpe croise en avant, glissade pas de bourre grand jete, pique arabesque, contretemps pique fouette, step tendu, chainnes to pas de bourre grand jete. We ended class with a reverence: step, beat ankles, cambre to pointed foot, repeat other side and then the teacher wished us all a Merry Christmas.
After changing, I walked around the studio, not wanting to leave for Christmas break, watching the other dancers in class. I was drawn to some dancers doing Irish dancing and watched them for quite a while. They were being coached by a woman wearing black leggings and a sweat shirt and all the dancers were young teenagers. There was only one boy. I was amazed at their footwork...some wore tap shoes and some wore aerobic shoes. I watched the boy tapping and the way he was dancing through every piece of his feet with such clarity and articulation. The girls were all very athletic, wearing shorts with bare legs, dancing forward through a kind of 5th position and doing what would be tours and then continuing forward. The coach said while doing the tours to keep their feet in a 1st position with their legs tight together. All the girls had well defined calf muscles and were all lean and muscular and toned. Later I found out they were from the Irish Trinity Dancers!