About Me

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


So, I slept a little late and got up and magically got to the Joffrey Academy for another class with Alexei Kremnev, Academy Artistic Director.  He will also be teaching class on Sunday at 11:30 am.  I will be eating Subway sandwiches for a while to afford this.  He is a very charming man and great teacher.  He kept saying in class that everyone needed to have more energy and after class he showed some Academy students a drill for this:  run forward for 7 counts, run backwards for 7 counts; run forward for 4 counts, run backward for 4 counts; then forward and back for 2 counts each, then run forward for 7 counts to finish.  The point is to get yourself into the movement and not drag behind.  It is like football, he said, you must get the ball and run with it.

So, after class, while some girls were trying this, I started to do fast glissades in the back of the studio, back and forth.  It is harder turned out, I commented.  But, as for class, Alexei walked in with a shocked look on his face because the room was packed.  I found my old spot by the door again.  I could not see myself during barre but maybe that was a good thing, because I focused more on the work at hand and not my appearance.  This is the whole point of his class, I thought; he concentrates on the physicality of the movements and not necessarily on how you look, because while you are learning you cannot aspire to looking perfect.  More important to learn the movements and they will look better once practiced.

We started class facing the barre, doing tendu front, rotate leg in and out; tendu side, turn leg in and out; ronde jambe to back, demi-plie into first position.  Also, cambre sideways and back.  Then we started class with tendus and demi-plies, with port de bras.  The barre was much like the one on Monday, with epaulment and moving the head.  For grand plies, we were to move our working arm into elonge position, something which really made me feel the depth of the plie.  Also, we did battements en cloche, with elonge arms.   We practiced developpes efface, croise back, to passe with ronde jambes en l'air.  We did beats and then tried balancing in a la seconde.  We also extended our inside leg to attitude and tried arabesque elonge letting go of the barre.  I always feel I cannot control my left arm and so when I let go to balance in passe, my left shoulder and side cave in -- it is part of my scoliosis problem.

Barre is something I do well, probably because I hold the barre for support.  Without the barre, in center, I feel naked and listless; but this teacher corrected many other students for the same thing when their middles swayed while moving through steps.  Holding the middle is not easy; it requires strength and discipline.  At center we did the same opening combination:  fondu tendu croise front, swing body around to croise derrierre; from 5th position developpe to 4th arabesque, developpe a la seconde, flic back, attitude promenade to passe, plie attitude turn, chasse forward, glissade to other side -- a slight variation on the Monday adagio, with a turn thrown in.  The movement patterns of this teacher are strange to me, almost jazzy, how they switch sides as in epaulment.

After this, we did the other combination:  tendus 2x front croise, changing ecarte, 3x degages to arabesque, swing leg forward to soutenu turn; detourne to 4th position, pirouettes.  I like the change of directions of this combination and the different angles of this teacher's combinations.  They make you feel very centered and help you learn the different directions of the body.  Then we proceeded to another short, tricky allegro dance which flowed across the room.  It began with pique arabesque, chasse forward, glissade grand jete, pique arabesque, fouette, chasse, fouette, point tendu croise, glissade grand jete, contretemps chasse step grand jete.  Before this, we also did pique arabesque with glissade jete en tournant to pique croise to chainnes to posse elonge arms.

Jumps were big also.  We started with jumps in 1st, 2nd, 5th with glissades jete en tournant, sissonne back to point tendu to chasse pas de bourre glissade assemble.  We did assemble soubresaut to both sides  with the same types of jetes.  Then we did echappe to second position, sissonne attitude on both sides, jump with double ronde jambe chasse coupe back to assemble into 5th position.  A lot to remember and a lot to do well in a short time.  I will have to return to this page and do some editing.  If only it were that easy to correct my dancing...

Well, then I went to the gym and swam and then took a yoga class followed by a Pilates class.  The Pilates teacher was a sub and I really liked some of her move.  We started the session by lying on our backs with our knees turned over to either side, arms in a "T" -- then we took either arm and crossed it over to our legs (spinal twist) and then brought our arm back.  Simple but effective.  We did the abdominal series and the side series and, using the magic circle and rising up into a bridge, we squeezed the magic circle, which was between our inner thighs.  We did pushups and I could almost do them, since we had done so many planks and downward dogs in yoga.  We ended Pilates by rising to our toes and stretching our arms over our shoulders.  I remarked to the teacher after class that, while I could rise up, it was difficult to control coming down.  I told her I was a ballet student and asked her about this and it is, really, because you need to maintain the vertical alignment throughout and not bend in the torso and give in to gravity.  Another nice thing about this class was how it was stressed to use the core when making leg circles.  Another new move was sitting in yoga position and doing twists to the side with our arms in "T" formation.

The yoga class, which was taught by the Pilates sub from the Halsted gym who is really a yoga teacher, ha, was very Pilates-like.  We did the locust pose, where you lie on your stomach with your arms clasped behind your back and then pick up your chest and legs, stretching your arms up at the same time.  The teacher said to press the shoulder blades together and pull up the sacral area and with these corrections I was able to rise into a higher position.  We also did one-legged planks, where you raise one leg back high and then go down into plank position.  We also did the triangle pose and the teacher corrected my stance, telling me not to let my left derrierre hang out.  Also, sitting on yoga blocks, we put our feet together, letting our knees go out and down.  I was trying hard to touch the floor but the secret is to rotate the inner thighs.  The teacher said one reason why people can't sit on their feet with knees bent is because the thigh muscles are weak.  I discovered this myself when I tried bringing my foot to parallel passe underwater and noticing how much I had to contract my thigh.  The same would apply to passe position in dance.

Underwater, I tried the ballet runs from morning class.  I ran forward for 7 counts, back, etc., and thought, this is a great exercise for stamina.  Also, the ballet teacher showed us how he jumped from side to side; I didn't try this in the pool but I always walk sideways across the lanes, something I learned from physical therapy when I hurt my leg last year.  I had been attacked by a large dog who bit my thigh and decided to see the doctor, who prescribed physical therapy, which I love.  There were all sorts of leg exercises, leg lifts up, sidways, and back, and pushing my legs against a board on a fitness machine.  Hardest was walking sideways with elastic wrapped around my ankles.  After a while, my outer thighs were burning.

I really enjoy working out at the gym.  I never thought I would, but it is a great way to feel better about yourself and get strong.  Also, the atmosphere is good, with other people working out.  I especially like the attitude of the men in the weight room.  They are all very serious about working with weights and will often watch me to make sure that I stand up straight.  Being a tomboy, I always enjoy working out with men and it is truly beautiful to see a man who is physically fit; also, to see a man who can dance with control and sensitivity.  Fitness is really not just for girls who want to keep their figures.

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