About Me

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Saturday at Ballet School

So I went to the ballet school in my neighborhood, to the intermediate class.  The teacher is strict and corrected me when I sat in my plie, didn't go forward in pirouettes (it's the hips, not the torso), and to straighten my legs.  The class was fun, except for jumps and not pointing my feet while jumping, but I am hoping that theraband exercises will correct this.  Later, while stretching, I watched a dancer in the advanced class who pointed her feet so beautifully.  It seemed that her toes were really touching down in the ground, whereas mine are always at a bias.

After a good technical barre, we proceeded to do tendus and pirouettes in center. Stand croise, tendu en croix, then double time, tendus to the side, coupe pas de bourre, pirouettes.  Pretty straightforward.  All throughout class I really concentrated on using my arm muscles to better support me.  It also feels better when I dance this way.  I think that anytime correct technique is used, it feels better in the body, less effort somehow, except it is hard to achieve this correctness.

Actually, before this, we did a short adagio:  chasse ecarte with arm elonge, chasse forward to 4th, cambre forward and back, stand, present attitude, promenade, straighten leg to arabesque, developpe efface, rise, tombe pas de bourre, pirouettes.  Then we did the same pirouettes with working leg behind the knee, and after turning, extend leg to arabesque.

Then came jumps:  changements with echappes, pas de bourre, pique sou sou.  Then, glissade jete to both sides, ballonne pas de bourre glissade pas de chat glissade assemble -- then the same with beats.  Last was grand allegro: balance balance pas de basque balance forward, coupe releve arabesques, coupe saute arabesque, releve developpe ecarte back, chainnes, glissade grand jete.

I wish I could have gone to pointe class, like I like to do on Saturday, but I am home showing my apartment now.  Later, I think I will go to the gym and relax and swim.  Might as well, because my part-time retail job will keep me busy over the holiday, I'm sure.  I wish there was a way I could work in the fitness area.  I have applied numerous times to work at my gym and some people who know me even think I could teach ballet, although I don't have any credentials, except that I am so interested in fitness and have learned a lot over the many years I have been a student.  Maybe someone will give me a chance.  A dancer friend told me I am like a treasure that you don't see at first.

All in all, a great day!  My friend went to New York but his last words to me were "keep dancing!"

Since the Michigan Avenue lighting ceremony and parade was taking place, I could not take the bus to the gym further north.  Instead, I decided to visit the Gold Coast, "city" gym, which is also being renovated.  The locker room looks really nice, with new showers and decorated tiles by the whirlpool.  However, the sauna is still as cold as ever.  So I went for a swim like a good girl, finished my laps, and now I'm visiting my favorite bookstore on Rush Street for a while.

The bookstore I frequent on Michigan Avenue is being replaced by a store, The Top Shop.  I guess the average person would rather shop than read books.  Well, it's nice to view the action on Rush Street from the bookstore anyway, with all the couples dressed up and going out to the bars.  But I am having my coffee and reading my magazines before I retire and get my sleep for the night.

After all, I'm in training!  Happy Saturday!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Beautiful Friday

What a lovely day.  The sunlight was beaming through the falling leaves as I got to the gym after cleaning my apartment.  I think I will take out my bike this weekend, too.  So here I am eating my green salad with chicken and watching the NFL Live sports channel.  There is no one in the pool!

...While swimming, I worked on extending my strokes, like in ballet, to feel the muscles underneath my shoulders.  Also, when I warmed up before laps by walking and doing developpes (!), I used the kick board to press down with my hands to feel these elusive muscles I must use in ballet class.  It makes sense, because this pressing the arms and extending the legs creates a balance and tension that helps free my often pinched waistline area and lets my torso breathe.  One of the many things I also love about swimming is being able to fully breathe, something that is hard for me when grounded on the earth.  In the water, I feel so free...now on to class to recreate this feeling...

...Going to the bus stop, my body felt so light from all this extending...bus ride was forever, Friday traffic to the city to the Joffrey Academy, where our guest teacher was the Joffrey ballet mistress.  I admired her technique as she showed the steps for class.  It was a nice, slow, technical class and she gave many good corrections, like using the arms:  you can move your arms anywhere if you hold your back, she said to the girls.  Also, she said to look up and forward and keep the shoulders down.

Then in center we started with pirouettes:  tendu front, turning a quarter; tendu back, turning another quarter; tendu side, side, then en face 4 times sideways to pique sou sou, passe balance, then two pirouettes, pas de bourre en tournant, pirouettes en dedans.

Next was adagio, my favorite.  It was waltz in line twice, chasse first arabesque, developpe efface, developpe ecarte.  Then we progressed to balance, balance, releve developpe facing back, chasse developpe to front, balances back, pique soutenu, chainnes to chasse pas de bourre pirouettes.

Lots of turns -- we did piques and chainnes, and then jumps:  1st, 5th, 1st, 5th, 4 changements, jetes entrelace, jazz slide (and I went the wrong way, but it was really a matter of keeping on changing the feet, I discovered, as I marked this to myself in a corner).

After this was contretemps pique arabesque, tour jetes, temps leve arabesque or cabriole, run around in half circle, small developpe, glissade, jetes, each getting bigger than the next.

The reverence was a Mr. Arpino favorite: temps lie back, cambre arms to open from 1st position, to both sides.  After class, I thanked the teacher and asked her how I might space myself better in center, because I always feel clumsy dancing with the others and keeping my spacing, and she reminded me that center is not like barre and it is more free and I need to move more.  Also, she said I hop in pirouettes and said to just think of doing a nice, calm turn.  Yes!!

Well, I don't know where I will dance tomorrow because I am showing my apartment and have to stay home.  I like being in the city but I will be much happier in a less expensive place with more space, although I don't quite know where that may be.  My parents were both farmers...

Thursday, November 18, 2010


and I can't wait to get back to class.  After an inspiring Wednesday spent with working dancers, I want to work, too.  But first the gym and yoga and then a swim...after a little sleep.

...swim over -- instructor is giving me thumbs up looks.  He was disciplining the children today: "Do you hear me?  I am shocked at your behavior."

As a friend said, dancing is not the gym.  The regular teacher has been detained with rehearsals so I am having Thursday class with the director of the school, but I'll have a go.  After all, professionals can do anything anyone tells them.  I will try to remember what my teacher has said:  squeeze muscles, activate quads, hold your back, straight legs, don't bend knees, point your toes, spot, hold your arms, plie straight down with your legs, not your body; don't lean forward, bend your torso, it looks so much more interesting.

What did I leave out?  Well, that's enough for a start...nervous, but I really want to take class.  Courage!

Deltoids and lats -- you can use the incline or over your bed.  Stretch your arms out to full span and press back.  Feel the muscles under your shoulders in back.  Shoulders down, arms in 1st position and push down against me...if you had a partner, that is where you hold yourself, otherwise your partner has a hard time....   Class was great!  I am so intimidated by people.  Dance it, mental you get it, but physically feel it.  Use your incredible turnout, rotate more.  Barre was fun:

Plies, arch outside foot, arch inside foot, grand plie, port de bras, roll down parellel, stretch away from barre parallel.  Temps lie, plie, flex foot, bring to first, plie second, tendu use metatarsals.  Developpes and attitudes to developpe, arabesque, pas de bourre.  Frappes, higher, higher, swing attitude, straight leg to passe, balance, frappes double en croix.

Center:  Grand battements with pirouettes, soutenu pirouette from 5th; pique attitude, step step, pique attitude, developpe seconde, rotate to arabesque, promenade, plie, releve, faille, cambre pas de bourre, fondus grand ronde jambe, plie arabesque pas de bourre, your best pirouettes, sou sou, back leg to passe, hold, walk off.

Jumps were glissade jete, ballonnes, ballotte sou sou, quatre, trois, pas de bourre en tournant, sissonnes, changements.  Jete goes up, only the glissade moves.  Assembles front, back, side, sissonnes.

Grand Allegro:  chasse, saute de basques, jetes, walk, pique third arabesque, tour jete, chasse pas de bourre, grand jete.  Again, use the lats when jumping...and this helped my legs.

Corrections:  in attitude, extend arms to first balcony, keep extending your arms in all poses.  We use our legs so much, why?  To work the backs of our legs, to turn out.  I want you to use your arms the same way.  Expand your chest and rotate your arms to use your back.

Now I am drinking water, stretching and listening to a live African singer and some amazing African dancers.  I think I heard some French...well, time to go home and do it all again tomorrow.  And use my carriage, thank you.

About being more professional, I think I need to present myself more.  We all have faults and we are afraid to show them, but that is what makes us human and unique.  So, I should not be afraid of being more physical and showing off my feet, even though they may not point, or showing off my legs, although they are not always straight, etc.  And hold my head up, focus...I always want to look down, thank you teacher.  I should take this class again, hmmm...because, like you said, you can always do everything the same way, or you can do more and go farther to the other place.

Honestly, if it is done in good faith, nothing can look bad.  Now back to stretching my feet with my new theraband!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wednesday Reflections

Good weather still but the days are dark now.  Went to advanced morning class, not my speed, but it's great to see the other dancers rehearsing for Nutcracker.  After a tricky class, I watched one of my teachers from the past dancing the Snow pas de deux with another familiar face from class.  She was wearing the traditional blue tutu and looked so pretty, her face all smiles.  The man moved elegantly, lifting her effortlessly.

Well, back to class. The cold weather is making me stiff and so my extensions were not so great today.  I stood by the mirror, something I don't like to do but it was good to watch my posture and see how my back was really not straight enough.  After barre, the center was more fun.  There was one combination I particularly liked:  balance, balance, waltz in line, developpe croise, 2 pique turns, sountenu, chainnes, releve attitude jete, temps leve.  Something like that, anyway.  Standing behind another dancer friend, I was able to flow more easily.

I did not feel like jumping today, either:  1st, 5th, 1st, 5th, sissonne simple, assemble, quatres, echappes...well, I think I have come to a turning point.  I need to get straighter and more to the point with my dancing.  So, after class, I went to a dance shop and bought a theraband and a small ball and watched all the people shopping in the city, inspired by the other dancers and seeing them rehearse, thinking that if I truly love dancing, I will have to improve a little bit.  Today, though, my pirouettes, which were somewhere in these combinations with all the endless steps, looked better.  I think I surprised them!

Later I barely made it to a performance at Cafe Rumba by Elements Contemporary Ballet.  I have taken class with Mike, artistic director (!) for years and I'm so proud of him and his company.  I couldn't miss this performance.  Also, it was a treat for me to go to a club, since I never get to go out and dress up.  It's awkward going alone, but at least my friends were there.  It was so nice chatting with everyone -- I met one of the dancer's mother and got to eat some amazing Latin food.  Then, powered by Sangria, I walked home.  It's always good to see performances, a former teacher told us in class, because that's what it's all about.

I watched from the side and saw how each dancer seemed to look directly at the audience while dancing.  They were showing the dance, something I can't do in class.  I learn in class, but on the stage is where the real dancing is.  This dimension is necessary to better dancing and inspires me to be less introspective and more giving in class.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tuesday morning -- Class with Mike

Mike is the most wonderful teacher.  His classes always make me happy.  I never sleep through the night, but I must go back to bed and rest for class.
...Class over and his dance company is rehearsing for a benefit performance tomorrow.  It's so inspiring to see his company dancers in class.  I wore my pointe shoes at barre and somehow my hip was better today but my feet wouldn't point!  After barre, I drank water for 10 seconds like one of my other teachers told me to and tried walking en pointe.  I noticed how weak my upper legs were.  Need to do leg lifts again, I think.
Center was walk out to front, developpe arabesque, lunge back in efface, soutenu, developpe seconde, developpe croise devant, walk off.  We practiced the arms and head positions over and over.  That is what I like about Mike, he pays attention to details.  Then we jumped:  temps leve arabesque, glissade assemble, faille, assemble, assemble.  Cool down was walk out at random, lunge, port de bras away and to the "audience."  We also practiced the first adagio facing away from the mirror, to feel it.  Of course, one girl went the wrong way, because the perspective changed.  I laughed, but I always do this, go the wrong way. Now what I do is pay attention to the steps, like Mike said, and then I don't get disoriented anymore.
...I have to continue to stretch out my torso and not sag, which I find myself doing.

Well, I went to the pool, which was a maze of little children learning to swim.  I heard the teacher talking about Michael Phelps and how, when you use your arms and legs together, you can get a lot of speed, but you have to skim the water and stay on top of it.  So I did my laps and then dried off...oh, and I forgot the pirouettes in class.  I guess I don't want to think about them, but they were: tombe pas de bourre, pirouettes en dehors, tombe pas de bourre, pirouettes en dedans; alternating.  We also did pique turns, inside and out! I tried something new, just trying to stay on the tape line.  It seemed to steady me to not be all over the place, like I am when I'm turning.

Later, a friend remarked I need to stretch a lot more, not bend my knees, and use my abs.  Now to watch TV...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday Dance Class

So I walked downtown, good exercise, had a coffee and some chocolate and got ready for class.  I stood next to a girl in center and really couldn't see my legs because of a big box in front of me, so I watched my torso and expression.  What a revelation to notice that my left hip has a mind of its own.  It's the SI joint again, making movements difficult.  I will have to loosen this up at the gym.

After barre, class was fun.  Pirouettes to the music of Carmen:  chasse pas de bourre, passe, tendu front, chasse pas de bourre, single turn, tendu front (whoa!), chasse pas de bourre, double pirouette to fourth position, waltz in line, pique first arabesque, change arms to second arabesque.

Jumps:  4 changements, 2 echappes, coupe, coupe, assemble, to sailor's hornpipe rag.
Grand Allegro:  sissonne arabesque 2x, third sissonne coupe, releve attitude, faille, chasse pas de bourre, grand jete.

Monday and a new blog...

Well, since I have so much to say, I have created this blog.  So, I finished my swim.  Underwater is where I  often practice my ballet moves:  developpes, tendus, ronde jambes, and, yes, even jetes.