About Me

Thursday, October 27, 2011

October Thursday

Nature is so colorful lately, rainbow colors everywhere.  It rained this morning as I was going to the gym for yoga class and I barely made it but managed to fight the traffic somehow. Once there, the yoga teacher started his difficult class, telling me at the end, "with you, Dorothy, I think you don't push enough...etc.," and he says I could do so much better.  If I can do it, anyone can do it, he said in class, as he did handstands with piked legs. I did the wheel pose over a Swiss ball when he was walking in the room, and then he said in class, for you backbenders, you need to focus on bending the back in each pose and then it won't feel so difficult. He remarked I was getting ripped biceps from using my arms in yoga class.

In his class, I feel going into the poses deeper and deeper; toward the end of class, he twisted me on my tight left side so that I could feel what the binding position with hands clasped together behind my back with my knee pulled into my chest would feel like and I felt the muscles of my back getting some needed relief. Believe in yourself, I thought, as I left class and swam for a while.

Then I took Yasir to the park to play with his friends.  He had a great time wrestling with a boxer puppy, running with a Jack Russell terrier, and bouncing around with a young Great Dane. I walked home, taking in the colors of the park as the day came to a close.

I got home and realized I had just enough time to go to dance class at the neighborhood school, so I packed my clothes and got there, seeing the teacher taking a break outside the studio.  She asked me how I was and I told her about my foot, which I had hurt somehow, and was limping on for a week.  I think it was the plastic shoes I had been wearing at work, but I told her I now have some very good shoes and wearing compression socks helped the swelling.  I had wanted to go to the podiatrist but now it seems to be getting better.  "You need your feet to walk on," my sister said.  True, so it's epsom salt soaks for me, prescribed by the pharmacist at the local drug store.

Paradoxically, my feet feel better after ballet class, although I noticed today how flat they were.  I always had trouble pointing my feet in ballet class.  Some girls have such nice feet, I thought, but yoga classes have helped me tremendously in getting over my feelings of inferiority.  Yoga has balanced me to realize that nothing is as important as your inner self and no exterior entrapments should ever get you down.  We didn't jump in tonight's adult class, but we did do a full barre and some lovely turns in center.  It was nice to pirouette again, and yoga class has taught me also to examine how I am standing and correct my stance, the way my yoga teacher does, so when I noticed how I dumped my back while I was turning, I was able to fix it.  "Good, Dorothy," the dance teacher said!

The teacher focused on turnout in class tonight.  I had just been thinking about this very subject while in the pool at the gym, feeling how the water helps me rotate my legs and really feel which muscles to use.  They are the deep inner muscles and you can feel them working but can't see them, like something coming from the gut.  The teacher said to move the hip bones foward and allow the hip crease to happen without tilting the pelvis and looking like a drunk pigeon.  I believe the connection is in the inner thigh, which must move forward also, and the teacher also said to rotate the calves forward, so that everything is moving inside out, kind of like yoga, too.

I must work on my feet, I told the teacher after class, and she said, just worry about standing up. Stance is everything.  No more slouching, not if you want to dance...then I watched the advanced girls in pointe class, their teaher remarking, if you don't pull up your thighs, I will kill you.  I noticed how he corrected a girl who was not turning her head correctly, telling her to see her back before moving her head.  It's nice to be able to have a school nearby, I thought, as I walked home in the drizzly night. Dancing always makes me happy.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Another ballet class...

     Run to 5th, elonge arms, releve to 4th, developpe 2nd swinging arms, step arabesque, ronde jambe leg front to back, pas de bourre en tournant...nice.
     That was our opening combination, something new, which always makes me nervous.  When you take a class long enough, you become used to the teacher's style, as a substitute teacher told us last Saturday.  Her class was delightful, lots of chasses, body positions, very feminine.
     Today's teacher likes killer extensions, but I remember what my yoga teacher said yesterday, don't hurt yourself to please someone else.  He always tells us not to pay attention to the other people and just enjoy the moments for ourselves, very true. Still hard to do, but reinforcements and comments like this help you grow.
     Then we did waltz in line twice, two piques, and two fouette turns, in diagonal across the floor; also, chasse pas de bourre grand jete.  I wish my legs would open wider in the air, but my extensions are what they are, still, just taking class was good for my form.  We did a pirouette combination and I almost fell backwards in one pirouette, but I am taking more risks now in a positive way, I hope.
     After class I told the teacher I wasn't sure how much I could do because my foot was sore, probably from too much walking.  Since I was running late this morning and the buses were slow, I walked to the subway and then took a cab from the subway.  I told the driver I had to practically walk halfway to class and he said if I had good shoes I could walk better.  True, in fact, I just ordered some very good shoes online, getting ready for the cold...
     It was delightful to take the bus back to the end of the line into the park and the cold air and colors were so lovely.  I got home and tried to walk my puppy there but we got as far as the zoo and the clouds looked menacing, so we headed home, me going to the gym for a bit, just to stretch in the steam room and sauna, after walking underwater.  Contrast therapy, cold and hot, good for the muscles.
     It didn't rain except for a drizzle, but tomorrow is supposed to be windy and nasty.  I wish I could take more ballet classes like this and try to repair my turnout without forcing anything, and just letting my legs go under me, like in the fast music in class where we did the allegro combinations over and over.  Surprisingly, the more I did, the more energy I had.  I didn't get tired at all, probably because of my working out, and maybe even the long walks with Yasir, my puppy.
     Like my puppy, I am always happiest after working out, and I even eat better, too.  This is the life!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Autumn Saturday

I haven't written for a while, so, for a quick catch-up, I have discovered yoga! I took a break from my usual non-stop dance classes to learn yoga, practicing it almost every day in the summer and now continuing into the fall.  My form and posture has improved and I have gone down one dress size, too. I am really fortunate that I can always go to my gym when I want to work on myself.  I was going to lots of dance classes but not really improving significantly because I first had to fix certain problems of form and also change my approach to training, to become more focused on the discipline of it and not just to have fun dancing.

So, today I attended a free yoga class at a yoga shop in my neighborhood and then I went to my local ballet school.  I met my neighbor whose daughter was all dressed in pink, about to take class. I wore my usual basic black leotard, pink shoes, pink tights, and a lavendar knitted warmup brief, which I took off after barre so I could see my lines better in center.  I don't like a lot of coverups because it distorts the line and hides flaws which should be fixed, something I learned over the years from some very good teachers.

This intermediate class was sparsely attended, which is my favorite kind of class, because the teacher can really scrutinize you.  We did a very correct barre, focusing on lifting the head up and not looking down at the feet to see what you are doing, because lowering the head makes you lean forward, which ruins your erect spinal posture.  The teacher talked about being able to feel yourself in space and not just to see yourself visually. In arabesque, for instance, she said it is not the height of the leg but the way it goes out as far as it can reach.  Similarly, when doing chasses in center, she told us to really chasse out because this develops power.  She corrected my passe balance at barre and told me not to contract my hip but really let it move forward.

During barre, after warming up a little privately before class, I decided to purposely stand forward of myself, like the other teacher who usually teaches this class (she had just had surgery so we have a very good substitute teacher) so as not to slump into my side.  I noticed, too, that I could stand to turn out more on my supporting leg and use the bottom of the turnout, rotating more, which creates the correct shape.  The teacher made us do an exercise where we held the knee in the passe leg and let the whole hip go down and under, kind of like turning inside out in yoga.

After class, I ate lunch and took out my puppy, training him a little, too, walking him backward and then changing directions, which he did happily, on a windy fall day...now I'm home, thinking about ballet and how the same principles apply to ballet positions that I have learned from other sports and it shouldn't be so intimidating.  Sometimes it's good to take a few steps back, pardon the expression, to learn how to move forward...
Exercises
1. demi plies with grand plies, rise and balance.
2. tendus from 5th position, coupe inside leg over, changing.
3. Balancoires with passe through.
4. Frappes with double frappes to the side.
5. Developpes and envelopes
6. Grand battements.
Centre:
1. Adagio(to come)
2. Chasses to 4th position, chainnes, balance en tournant, pose to 5th position.
3. Saute arabesque, arm en haute, pas de bourres. En diagonale.
(Much time was spent correcting body stance, turnout, and epaulment.) 
Notes: Use the arms like heavy curtains and really move them to extend the back.  Elongate the legs. Move your head.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Terrific Tuesday!

Wow!  Two ballet classes today, with my favorite teachers!  I think for you, the evening teacher said, you need to find the structure of the step and make your movements clear and really feel the energy.  Don't try to control everything.  You have to take a risk and find for yourself where is your center.  You will find it and then you can move.  I told him mentally I understand but physically it's hard.  It's hard, he said, but it's there.  The steps are the path but you can play with the steps and find for yourself the movement.  Don't try to control it, just feel it.

This conversation all came about after a very "structured" class with adult women.  I was thinking about the morning class and how the teacher said to use your turnout while you are moving.  So I told the evening teacher that I was trying to work on my turnout, especially with the supporting side, because otherwise you are imbalanced.  Hence, the conversation about balance.

Now suddenly I feel very tired but more will come soon...

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Summer Master Classes...

It was an exciting week at the local ballet school, with a special guest teacher who recently retired from dancing and has won many awards.  I was honored to attend some of his classes.  The classes went beyond technique or steps or exercises and I could feel artistry, something which happens too infrequently. Most of the time we are taking classes and trying to stay motivated and then when a true artist comes our way, we find ourselves inadequate and unprepared.  Really, it is up to you to make dancing what you want it to be...

So the first day this guest teacher did something really cool in center.  It was a pirouette combination, after a barre that focused on moving the head and really standing tall and using the arms and generally becoming bigger than life.  It is what makes dancing interesting, he said.  During the pirouette combination, which went something like tendu croise and derrierre and seconde and then chasse pas de bourre in efface, the teacher made us pair up with a partner and told us to look at our partner during the entire combination.  The mirror is an evil person, the teacher said, don't look at yourself in the mirror.  Yes, I thought, this is what dancing on the stage with other dancers must be like, relating to the other person.

I skipped a couple of days (master classes are expensive) and returned to the class...this time the teacher said to the class to finish the combination you are doing, not just to end it or abandon it, because people are watching.  He talked about watching a performance in Washington, D.C., where the front dancers in the corps all looked nice but the dancers in the back just slacked off and it looked terrible.  Don't think people don't see this, he said.  Every step you take somebody is watching, so you need to present yourself, your best 5th, your best port de bras, and then end the step as gracefully as you started it.

The next day he continued with moving the head with the arms and correctly using the leg muscles. I watched the teacher a lot to see how he used his body and because he was just so interesting to watch in general. In the whole class, this teacher was the best dancer of all. After this class I watched him teach the pointe class and how he said to the girls to open and close the arms when turning and, when moving the feet, to arrive through the same place.  Make your feet go in a line and arrive at the same place, no waivering.  During class, he said this, too, to be true to the positions, not to fidget at barre because this leads to fidgeting while doing pirouettes and so on.  Always do the movement with the correct execution and don't make unnecessary movements, kind of like what a horseback riding teacher once told me about economy of movement...

Finally, today, he asked, what did I tell the girls yesterday about the arms, and since I had been watching the pointe class, I knew.  In fact, one of the teachers of the school remarked to another teacher, you can learn a lot by watching.  I always enjoy watching the young girls learning how to dance...it is so charming to see them emerge into graceful dancers, something I never had as a child, since I started dance late.  I often imagine what it would have been like had I started early and if I would have ever made it...but I nevertheless take my dancing very seriously, because I enjoy it so much and it is one of the things in my life that will always be there, even when I stop.  It will always interest me.  I always read books about dance and watch dance and it will always be a part of my life, although I can't imagine not dancing.  But, for now, I will continue to learn...

So the teacher left us with the thought of using the face and making the movements "more than what you think."  Stand tall, taller, like your head is trying to touch the ceiling...when you do soutenus, I want to see your face.  Your face, turn, your face, not your bun.  Also, he corrected me during the week and told me to hold my stomach in and not to stick out my back.  There was a lot of emphasis during the week on holding the back and holding the chest up.  "I would rather have you stick out your ribs than slump," he said.  Significantly, today, he told us that when we prepare to pirouette, we need to go through our working foot when we tendu back to prepare to turn, because it is the use of the feet that makes the turn happen.  He said also not to crash down in our jumps, illustrating with his noiseless feet how we should come down from a jump.  I tried it that way and it felt so much lighter but, most of all, it really aided the movement and made it much more effective.

As for combinations and learning steps..."let's learn this," he would say when showing a combination, I got the idea that you really need to concentrate on what you are doing at all times.  He would often say during the week, if you are in the third group, I expect it to be perfect, because you saw all the other dancers do it. You know what happens when you make mistakes, he said, you must do it again until it is perfect.  No mistakes!

I really hope this teacher returns next summer and during the next year, maybe I can apply some of the things we did in class and really think about how I am dancing.  I heard him say to another teacher one day, while talking about what another teacher said...you know when you make a mistake, you know when you do it wrong...you know.  In other words, you must fix it and dance beautifully, because you love it.

These were my impressions of class this week and I will hopefully try to add more detail as I remember it. It was a lovely week and I have many memories of how I danced and what it felt like to learn how to dance beyond the steps, how to make it come alive...

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Summer night...

It's lovely outside.  I just took Yasir for a walk around the neighborhood.  There were some horse carriages passing through and he stopped when he heard the hoofbeats.  He is so alert in the evening, always looking around.  I spent the day in the suburbs to take class with one of my favorite teachers, even though I had worked the night before and just barely made it there.  I was lucky I made all my train/bus connections!

Class today reinforced what a Pilates/dance teacher at Joffrey Academy told me in class on Friday afternoon.  It is so important to understand how movements are executed in order to perform them effectively.  She talked about how children are corrected at an early age like this but, sadly, adult students don't always get this type of attention, or it doesn't sink in until injuries and aches and pains happen which make you think about how you are doing things, as with me.

The Pilates teacher corrected the placement of my hips, telling me to keep them down and to hold the sides and later she explained about the psoas and obliques to me after class.  In order to allow the arms and legs to move, space must be created in these areas.  They also wrap into the back and if something is not correct, you will feel a pain.  Also, she said in class how the large seat and thigh muscles always want to take over, the same thing Saturday's teacher said to another girl in class.

There are exercises to do to pinpoint the areas that should be working, namely, the backs of the legs and inner thighs.  In doing the standard clam, the movement of these muscles is felt at the top of the clam movement.  Also, it is effective to wrap a theraband around the thighs and try to move the thigh in and out, or bend and extend the leg into the floor while sitting down...

I told the Pilates teacher that the problem is in the turnout and there is no exercise except dancing that will develop this.  So, dance I must.  It is such a contrast to the gym in that I must feel more "feminine" and lighter in my movements.  More girly.  I looked at myself in the mirror and saw also how my feet were starting to sickle, even my good right foot!  The feet must turn out, too...

So I asked the teacher today how I can be stronger in demi-toe and how to keep my legs straighter and he said it is because I have weak calves in comparison to my thighs and when I am at the gym I should work on my calves.  So, once I got home and finally got to the gym, I went for a swim but since I was tired and the water was cold, I just did laps with the noodle, which is a good workout, too.

But, the point is, everyone is so concerned about having a workout and burning calories.  If you want to dance, I thought, it is the knitpicky things that must be done, as I said to the ballet teacher today.  So, I spent some time in the water doing calf lifts against the resistance of the water, as well as rehashing some of the steps we did today, like developpes, tombes with pas de bourre, noticing how my legs were moving underwater.  I saw how tight my upper hamstrings were as I did a "barre" stretch at the side of the pool and what was necessary to do a good releve, trying to keep my feet from sickling.  Hard work, but now I feel so much better...

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Saturday

Sad to see spring go.  It's my favorite season and I have accomplished a lot and there were changes, too, such as getting a new job in a restaurant.  This last week I was busy taking ballet classes almost every day at Joffrey Academy with the artistic director, a treat, since he is such a good technical teacher.  It was also nice to see his academy students in class.  They are so accomplished, and all the girls took class wearing pointe shoes and they made pirouettes and jumps on pointe look effortless, although I know they work hard to get to this level.  It is such a pleasure to take a class where everyone is so dedicated.  Even though the class was really over my head, they all accepted me as one of their own, including the teacher.

Some dance moves:
Barre
1. Foot cominations facing the barre:   point, flex, tendus, cambre back, port de bras.
2. Plies with port de bras, elonge arms, head moving with arms.
3. Tendus a la seconde with demi-plies, inside tendus, demi-plie, balancoire, tendu front with inside foot to balancoire back, tendu 5th to reverse.
4. Degages front 2x with piques, back 2x, side through 5th, cambre front, back, side, penche, developpe with inside leg.
5. Ronde jambes with fondus, developpe passe, balance with foot into ankle, arm elonge.
6. Double fondus with ronde jambes, developpes ecarte, attitude balance, extend.
7. Battements one slow, 2 fast, en croix.
8. Stretch.
9. Releves facing barre with force pointe, developpe arabesque to passe balance.
Center
1. Developpe croise, ronde jambe en l'air to arabesque with elonge arms, balance.  Balances side to side, run to arabesque elonge, lame duck turns.
2. Grand plie in 4th position, pirouettes, promenade in atttitude to arabesque extend, fondu, pas de bourre, attitude turns.
3. Developpe seconde, tombe pas de bourre, pirouettes, run around, soutenus with inside pique turns.
4. Jumps: changements with quatre beats, glissade side to side, reverse with glissades over.
5. Pique arabesque, passe to lunge, repeat, waltz in line, soutenu, pirouettes, arabesque balance.
6. Chasses with grand jetes a la Bourneville.
7. Reverence, port de bras front, back, side.

Then today I took class with a substitute teacher who was none other than a Joffrey company member and this wonderful flowing class was much appreciated because it resolved the tight muscles I had developed duriing a week of grueling classes with the artistic director.  Nevertheless, I feel great and although I am tired and feel broken all over, it feels great to really use my body and I learned what it feels like to dance to full potential.

I will always remember how this teacher said to me to extend my arms out away from my body, something another teacher recently said, too.  Bend the body opposite the croise tendu, use the torso.  This teacher's torso is so flexible and when he said to a very accomplished young girl to really look up in arabesque and move her hand up, using the torso, I could see how this would alleviate much pain in the back from slumping and not pulling up out of the joints.  Also, jumping is easier this way...

Class
Tendus, really savor the experience, port de bras, let it go, easy, dance with the rhythm; in center, tendus croise, side, passe pirouette, move the arm forward and elongate into the turn; developpe croise front and back, efface to passe to seconde, tombe pirouettes; walks, pique arabesque faille, soutenu, inside pique turns; developpe front, chasse assemble; jetes with assemble; step jete pique passe 2x, jump second 1st, 5th, 5ths; menage waltz-in-line, jete entrelace, temps leve 2x, glissade jete.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sunday I awoke with dancing...

...9:30 am, my alarm was not set properly (I can't see because my puppy ate my glasses!) and class is at 10:30, so I brushed my hair, my teeth, threw on my clothes and walked down the street past all the art fairs and there was no bus, walked as far as I could, then took a cab, and got there early.  The door was still locked!

Started reading my smartphone and then the owner of the studio unlocked the door, I almost ran into her, apologizing because I couldn't see, in fact, walking across the street earlier, a "lady" yelled out her car window, look where you're going, ha, ha...

Class resumed as usual, starting with force arch, demi-plie on both sides, grand plies, facing barre, with releve balance -- every time I balance my knees look crooked, and this teacher will always correct me for that, saying, straight knees, tighter.  Today, though, I had trouble with my usually good turnout.  Last night I was so stiff, I went to the gym and was happy just to go to the sauna, steamroom and whirlpool.  My new part-time job at the restaurant is taking it's toll, I guess...

The job is nice, I like it, but will they like me?  This week my hours were cut and the boss even mentioned there is someone else who really wants the job.  I try not to stress, but you know from reading my blog that I always do.  It's just a job and I'm too old to really care...I think I fear I will lose face and what will people think.

Even in class, the teacher said, you cringe and mentally tell yourself you can't pirouette and set yourself up for failure because you worry that it doesn't look the greatest, so you give up.  Today I read something about being able to accept your faults, but, getting back to turnout, my barre turnout was good, but as another teacher pointed out, it's going through the movements turned out that is hard.  Yes, I saw how my legs wanted to tangle inwards.  So when we stretched, I did a yoga straddle and then it was even harder to turn out after this parallel stretch, but now I was aware of the difference and how I needed to constantly bring my knees back and not "cringe."

As for pointed toes, the teacher said, you, you need to stand by a wall and just push out your foot, forget the theraband.  We spoke about flexibility and how I saw a really flexible girl, but her friend commented that at this point, it also becomes a matter of strength.  I told the teacher about a contortionist I saw on the web and he said it's not good and damages your cartilage.  Stretching reasonably helps, he said, if you do it the right way...

Barre
1. 2 grand plies with port de bras, front, side, back.
2. 4 tendus front, 3 side, 4 back, balancoire to reverse; penches and passe balance.
3. Degages from 5th front, side, back, plie; reverse.
4. Passe balances; repeat.
5. Fondu front demi-toe, battement front, balance; repeat en croix.
6. Developpe a la seconde, ronde jambes, ronde jambe en l'air to arabesque, balance.
7. Frappes en croix, 2x front, side, back, sou sou coupe balance.
8. Grand battements 1x, 2x fast en croix.
Center
1. Tendus a la seconde backwards, tendu croise front and back, glissade, glissade passe balance.
2. Coupe arabesque plie, releve, passe balance.
3. Passe releve, 4th, pirouette, reverse, pas de bourre releve, plie pirouettes.
4. Adagio: Developpe seconde, ronde jambe en l'air to arabesque with port de bras from seconde to high 5th, releve balance.
5. Changements with echappes and passe balance pirouette.
6. Changements with echappes and assembles, coupe assemble front, back, side, side, soutenu passe balance.

End of nice class where I felt so stiff.  During break before center, I grabbed some dumbells and tried arm exercises from the gym and the studio owner corrected my shoulders.  Down and out, bring in more to sides.  I thanked her...my arms look better.  Now to get the legs to look less wobbly.  Now I'm off with puppy, who is getting bigger every day, although his discipline still needs work. We are quite the pair...After class the teacher remarked about how animals are such awesome movers.  It is because they are confident and real, I said.  People have too many hangups, I think, including me!


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Wednesday - it's June!

Time trickles by and before you know it, weeks have gone by.  My fitness routine continues much the same, and puppy is growing.  I have a new job, or I hope I will, after training.  There is lots of competition but I will give it my best try.  I felt like writing an update today because I am so inspired after taking a ballet class and then watching Twyla Tharp, guest artist/choreographer/celebrity, at one of the dance studios I frequent.  I had read about it and looked around, finally thinking it would be a closed event, but there she was, coaching the dancers who would be performing her choreography.  She seemed like a goddess, and every move she made was so artistic.

I also had a revelation yesterday while watching another young choreographer after class yesterday who appreciates classical ballet.  As I watched the dancers assume their classical positions and work on various moves, I realized that this was how the old courtiers must have perceived themselves; that is, they would practice for hours to get their elaborate steps down so that they could perform their spectacles, much like it is done today.  Nothing really changes after all!

I noticed how Twyla Tharp showed her movements, with economy of movement, and yet every step reached beyond itself and the energy flowed from her into precise forms which were all perfect.  Her plies, her arms, her turns, it was all there, all the painstaking technique, but she did not dwell on the technique to show it off.  She was using it as a tool to get into her dancing -- her body reached out for expression and you forgot the work involved.  It just became one beautiful seamless burst of joy.  She was like a kid playing, inviting you to do the same!

True art communicates like this.  Communication is an art in itself, in whatever form.  It is what transforms the ordinary into something special and makes you think about the precious moments of your day.  It can teach you to be a better person and try to be one of those people who makes a dent in time for everyone else.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sunday news

Since my workout routine has been pretty much the same, I have not written lately but have stepped back to take care of other matters, including work prospects.  Hopefully, I can still continue working out and I still wish to pursue a job in the fitness field, my passion in life.  The puppy is fine, also.

I did go to Sunday ballet class and then walked my puppy in the park and finally went to the gym for a restful swim.  Now, after the end of a beautiful spring day and lovely night, it has begun to storm.  So, I will gather my resources and get some rest for another week of hard work, in both meanings of the term...

Monday, May 9, 2011

Monday

I haven't written about my activities for a while and I need to get back on track because things have a way of slipping away if you don't pay attention.  Time just drifts aimlessly by sometimes and we often have nothing to show for it, so I need to get back on my toes....my puppy was found eating my pointe shoes but I managed to salvage them before they were completely ruined.  Now to fix the ribbons and straps on my ballet slippers.  Puppy takes a lot of my time lately, but he won't be a puppy much longer and it's such a sweet time.  Well...

I went to morning class because puppy kept me awake with his activities.  I was going to sleep but he kept nudging at me to wake up, like he knew what I wanted to do, and that if I did it early, he would have more time with me.  So I went downtown, kind of sleepy, into class...

There were only about 6 people in class, which used to make me uncomfortable but now I am used to it, since ballet is not as popular as hip hop or jazz, it seems, but I actually like pretending to be a fairy princess.  The teacher interrupted me at one point to say, Dorothy, listen to me, I am saying....when I asked her a question about engaging the glutes in turnout.  The whole class focused on turnout and moving the thighs inside the joint without disturbing the hips or torso.  Since the teacher said to use the backs of our legs and hold our muscles, the question came to mind about what muscles to use, and just as someone else always said, you never relax these muscles.  "Let them pay rent," as the teacher said.

After class, another student asked if there were exercises to get these turnout muscles stronger and the teacher spent some time showing us what she used to do when she was dancing, saying that the exercises, the clam, turning the leg in and out in parallel, pushing against a wall, were tedious but, if done, class will seem easier and you will be working correctly and not just faking it.  Really, it is the only way to get better and the teacher said there will be a difference in the way a jump looks and the way it feels and it will lead to stronger dancing.

Then I got home and took puppy out and he was surprisingly good, walking nicely on his leash with the help of his new harness.  We went to the beach and to a little park near the boulevard.  When we got home, I got ready for the gym and Pilates and yoga.  Taking these two classes together really has boosted my stamina, although it was hard at first.  Now I can get through both and after Pilates, yoga was very relaxing.  My favorite teacher who is a dancer taught and he always gives me new insights into the practice of yoga.  After class I just floated home, feeling 10 years younger...

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Thursday

I started the day with ballet class in my neighborhood.  It's so nice to be able to wake up and walk down the street in my neighborhood to attend class.  It makes me feel like I'm living in a small village and everything is here for me.  Some things in life are so sweet and these are the memories to hang on to...

After ballet I went down the street a couple of blocks to the gym and swam, ending with a soak in the steam room.  Then I went home to walk puppy.  We went out for a long time because Yasir always wants to explore everything and everybody.  I have trouble walking him on a leash for this reason, but everyone seems to understand the way he is.  Still, I must be careful who he plays with and to keep him away from children, since he likes to jump on top of people, like puppies do.  He is best when running free, but I always must take care who is around before I can let him be free, as well as making sure he is in a secure spot where he won't run away.  When his puppy days are over, I don't think it will be a good idea to let him run like this, although other people do.  So, I am enjoying his puppy days in this idyllic existence I am living for the present.

I wanted to go back to the gym for Pilates and yoga but Yasir just played and played today and it's okay, because now I am home attending to business of the day, busy on my computer, cleaning up my place, and generally relaxing.  I should be on a tighter schedule but it is a balance of enjoying the day and getting things done and trying to accomplish things with pushing too much...

Wednesday

I had a really nice morning walk with puppy.  He looked so happy bouncing down the street and it was enough just to let him go around the block.  The sun was shining and everything was blooming and young, including puppy.  Later, he played for a while with some other dogs and then at night I just walked him around the block again.  Nothing special, just being home.

Same with ballet.  I went to my local school and then to the gym for yoga, to conclude this day of simplicity.  It was basic yoga and it made me realize how important it is just to feel at home with yourself and not just things so much.  A day of grace...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Tuesday chill

So cold outside today.  Coming home from ballet class I had to duck inside a hospital building to stay warm while waiting for a bus to go home.  Then I went home, dressed warmer, and took out puppy.  We walked through the park and headed to the aquarium shop in Old Town, then we saw an artist putting up a new sculpture in Old Town, made of chain links welded together in the shape of a human.  It is called Boundless, the artist said.  Trailing off the hands of the "human" were some more chains.  I commented, that's how I feel when I walk my puppy, because he always pulls me.  Still, I have to remember that he is very young and not to be too upset when he wants to play.

Then I went to the gym for Pilates and a swim.  Now I feel great, not exhausted at all.  The more I work out, the more energy I have.  The Pilates class was hard but really great and although I did not want to swim in the cold weather, I made myself do it.  Sometimes you have to make yourself do it, my pointe teacher always says.

I am not writing much detail but I will return and write down what I remember from my latest workouts. Sometimes when you have fun like this, you don't want to think about mental things, like writing.  You just want to feel good and keep going...

Monday-Tuesday

Up late again.  So much activity during the day that I don't get around to being on the computer until late at night.  Puppy keeps me busy, to be sure and I feel like a mom, but it is so rewarding to have a dog friend.  He had such a good time at the beach today and loves to be outside, which I love, too.

But I did manage to get to ballet class in the afternoon and I ran into an old dance friend who is now professional and I asked her a few questions after class about detail in class, to which she replied that as a professional, the choreographers are looking for detail, how you move your fingers, because that is how you get picked for a part.  Very important.

The teacher said near the end of class to her young students, look at this professional because this is the way you should dance.  True.  It's the way I learn the best.  She remarked to the teacher after class that she was just as naughty as a student but then she changed and she remembered all the things the teachers were trying to tell her.  This is why in class you really need to try and listen and do and pay attention to every detail.

A student didn't get a jump combination and the teacher said, you have to be a quick study.  This is how it is, learn the combination and do it.  It's a hard life but it is the only way you will learn.  This is the discipline of dance.

After class I went to the gym and took Pilates and yoga class.  My stamina is improving.  The classes like this at the gym are a joy, and yoga was fun tonight.  I said to the teacher that I used to think that I couldn't do the poses but now I have changed my attitude, mentioning what a dance teacher told me about your mind telling you that you can't do it.  Not that you should jump off a building, I said to another girl, but there are lots of things that are possible if you give yourself a chance...

Monday, May 2, 2011

Just Monday morning...

and I can't sleep.  Still want to stay up all kinds of weird hours...my mind is restless with thought.  So I went to dance class this morning, which started off warm and sunny but in the afternoon, walking home, I was kind of freezing.  I put my jacket back on and walked Yasir to the park, where he had fun playing with a French bulldog and a chocolate lab named Moose.  Then I went to the gym to squeeze in some underwater jogging and suddenly I felt warm again.  Maybe it was the sauna, whirlpool and steam room...

Friday, April 29, 2011

Royal Wedding Friday

It's Thursday night but it's Friday in England and the royal wedding will begin.  I never really sleep so I will stay up to watch it shortly.  I danced today and now I feel human again.  The gym is great but dancing makes me feel alive.  The adult class was well attended and although we all had our aches and pains after a long rainy cold day, the class brought out the child in everyone...

Class
Barre:
1.  Face barre, lunge sideways with port de bras, roll through feet, tendus front and back.
2.  Plies with port de bras.
3.  Tendus front, back, side with port de bras.
4.  Degages en croix, balancoire, port de bras.
5.  Ronde jambes with fondus and developpes.
6.  Fondus with degages en croix.
7.  Developpes with promenade to other side and penche.
8.  Frappes en croix with beats.
9.  Grand battements.
Center:
1. Tendus croise front and back, glissade with pirouettes.
2. Pique attitude devant, contretemps same to other side, back to first side, balances with chainnes to pirouettes.
3. Developpe ecarte, passe back, passe front, chainnes, pique arabesque pose.
4. Jumps changements with jetes and quatres.
5. Grand battements a la seconde with echappe to 4th and pirouettes.


I went to the gym before class, hoping to swim but only had time for some underwater jogs; however, after class I muttered to myself that I have to stay strong, so even though it was late, I walked to the gym to resume my swim.  There I met a young girl who was racing with her two male friends and I thought to myself, how strong she is to compete with men.  Sometimes you just have to keep going, like my dad said.

Yasir had fun in the park today, too, and was quite obedient on his leash until we headed home and I guess his attention span had ended.  Still, I am constantly reminded by people who admire him, he is a puppy and needs to play and explore...so when people complain that he is out of control and why anyone will complain about a puppy is so mean, I think of all the nice people in the world and the others can just go on and be miserable if they want to.  I have found, though, that being miserable is really a waste of time...

So I woke up to the ring of my phone.  Wrong number, but sleeping for a few hours was good enough for me to get my day started with a long walk with puppy.  Then it was already 4pm and I headed for a swim but I really wanted to dance again, so after walking underwater, I got downtown for another dance class.  When I am restless, dancing always brings me together again.  The teacher corrected my attitude at barre, adjusting my frame ever so slightly so that I was balanced.  It felt nice to be square...

Barre:
This was adult beginner and so I tried to make all the movements precise.  As I worked, I thought, this is what it's all about, doing things right and not kidding yourself.  Everyone is so impatient for results without really working.  Now to add a little expression...
Center:
Some lovely moves, including tombe pas de bourre with pirouettes 2x, balance, balance, pique turns; jumps 1st, 2nd, echappes with changements; temps leve 1st arabesque, chasse to 2nd arabesque, fouette to 1st arabesque to other corner, chasse temps leve; tendu croise devant plie, tendu seconde, chasse pas de bourre, pirouettes.  Also, there was adagio: developpe croise devant; croise derrierre, seconde, plie pas de bourre, pirouettes en dedans.
The teacher said why are you hopping and I realize I do this because I do not completely straighten my legs.  Push down, the teacher said.  I read something about this in connection with the abs, too, the abs push down.  Everything should be grounded, I thought...


Then I took out puppy and now must sleep because tomorrow there is dog obedience class and it is going to be a warm, sunny day.  Hard to sleep early after staying up all last night, but I will go and unwind and sleep...

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Wednesday - It raineth every day

I would have wanted to take Yasir to dog training tonight but I have opted to return to Evanston to continue his training and take him to the dog beach there.  I think it would be fun and he is supposedly a better dog out of the city anyway.  Still, I will miss taking him to my former trainer but perhaps we can take another class there in the future.  I have always loved learning things and always feel a disappointment when I miss an opportunity to learn more.  Maybe I am being selfish and want to go to the class for myself and I wonder what Yasir's preference would be.

Today I did not dance but spent a lot of time at the gym.  I went to Pilates class with weights in the morning and then swam before going home to play with my puppy.  I love taking him out and he found a nice poodle to play with.  I took him out later, too, after I returned to the gym for yoga.  A girl I had seen earlier in the day saw me and said, so, you are back...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tuesday/Wednesday

The days flow together lately and time is moving too fast!  I went to ballet class, swam, and then went to Pilates class.  Wow!  I feel great, but it's hard work, too.  When I went to Patricia Stevens Modeling School for business classes (no modeling), it was necessary to take some modeling classes, too, and a model/teacher would always tell us that to be beautiful was hard work.  Yes, but the reward of feeling and looking great is the best payoff.  So, on I go.  Personally, feeling great physically is the best thing on earth. To be vital and caring for yourself, transcends the materialism of life.  I wish I could put it into words...

Dance:  We did the standard barre and then some nice dance combinations in center.  We made little groups and I danced with another girl in a small group and it was fun dancing with someone.  This made class less of a chore and more of a performance.  After the standard tendu combination, we did an adagio: developpe a la seconde, tombe balance balance, pique arabesque promenade, penche, step pas de basque to repeat.  Then we did waltz in line pique arabesque, tour jete, step pas de bourre, jump of choice.  Also we did pique and soutenu turns with chainnes.  Not too many pirouettes today and the focus was on turnout and dancing through turnout in order to stop using the large hip and rear muscles to move, which makes them large and cramped.  So, I see why I feel better when I turn out...
    The swim at my favorite pool was refreshing, as was the whirlpool and steam room.  Then home to take puppy to the park and try to discipline his puppy ways.  Home to eat and then Pilates, which was tough, side planks, which I need to work on, since my hips are uneven due to scoliosis and after talking with the teacher, she agreed that modifications are necessary sometimes to prevent injury.  Leg circles, bridges, just moving the arms side to side, and especially obliques made me feel great.  Trouble is, now I can't sleep from all this activity, but I know it is necessary to repair my tissues.  Being beautiful is hard work!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Rainy Monday

I'm looking out the window at the pouring rain.  I just got home from the gym, stopping to buy some Easter lilies along the way.  They loved all the humidity.  Earlier today I went for a swim and then I took out Yasir, my puppy.  We went shopping, to the hardware store and later I took him to the park briefly but we mostly walked around the neighborhood today.  Not a good day for a romp.

Pilates and yoga class were great and I really tried to push myself, even though the weather is making me feel stiff.  Lately I feel I have been too lazy in class and moving too slowly but after spending Easter with my health-conscious family, I have new motivation.  Everybody on my sister's side is involved in the health field and I found it refreshing to be around people who really care about their health and are so knowledgeable.

So, in Pilates I was next to a girl who had never done Pilates before and I noticed that, although she was younger and stronger than me, I was the one who knew all the moves and had the best efficiency of movement.  Later in yoga class when I said to the teacher that I was too old and stiff to bend, he said that age did not make a difference.  I believe it's true.  Of course, we all want to be young, but there is an advantage to being older and wiser, too.  I hope I grow old gracefully and stay strong.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

It was a nice day for relaxing and visiting my family so I did not work out much, except I did go down to the basement gym in my building after returning from family dinner of ham, sweet potatoes, asparagus and fresh fruit for dessert.  My family lately has been on a health kick, too and we discussed carbohydrates and sugars and the fact that most cereals have no nutritional content.  Best to eat oatmeal...

I went to church at St. Michael's in Old Town, which was renovated a few years back.  It was a welcome change from my usual church in the city and I said to the priest afterward that I miss living there and he agreed that it had a more neighborly feel.  The mass was full of good music and I got a chance to sing and the woman in front of me even complimented me on my voice.  I wish I could sing in church again.  My eight years in church choirs were amazing fun.

I took puppy out before going to family dinner and we went to the beach and he had a nice run in the sand, the best exercise for him, and the sand provided a cushion for his young bones.  Earlier in the day before church I had taken him to the park for a similar run and he had the whole place to himself, as everyone else was in church.  So, it was workout day for puppy.

I realize even more now how working out defines me as a person and no matter what my problems in life, I am lucky to have that to fall back on.  After a good workout, everything falls into perspective and I realize that taking care of oneself and one's business is paramount in today's restless world.  It brings energy into your life and makes living worthwhile.  There is the sun and the sky forever and it is free to everyone, for the taking.  As the priest said in church, the gifts of God are there if you take them...

Saturday

It was nice to take class from a dedicated dancer again, an academy student who really knows how to teach.  There were a lot of people in class and it was a good working class where we all made interesting patterns at the prompting of this talented young student.  We worked through a traditional barre with plies, tendus, degages, ronde jambes, fondus, frappes, developpes and finally grand battements.  Everything was straightforward, a welcome change from yesterday's tricky barre, so I could really feel my placement and work on my port de bras.  Often when the footwork is tricky, it's hard to use the arms because you are focusing on the steps.  Someday I will master both...

The teacher gave us several stretch periods and then we proceeded with center.  We started with tendus croise with temps leves and pirouettes; and then we reversed the tendus and temps leves, which is always a little tricky because going backwards is not how you normally move, unless you are a dancer, of course.  After tendus we did a combination that started with pique arabesque, faille into attitude turn en dehors followed by chainnes and lame duck turns.  We also did an adagio composed of developpes, arabesque promenades and turns en dedans.

After these flowy movements we started jumping in 1st, 2nd, changements and echappes with beats.  Then we did assembles with glissades, jetes and ballonnes.  Finally the class ended with chasse pas de bourre pirouettes and grand jetes.  Very basic but effective class, after which I stretched and felt really great.

As I went home, I noticed a change in the air and suddenly it felt like spring.  The sun made patterns in the sidewalks, the birds were singing and all the flowers were standing at attention in the daylight.  My puppy greeted me and started jumping excitedly, ready to go out.  We ended up walking to the zoo and back, a good 2 hour walk.  Yasir was an angel outside, coming when called, just a delight to be with.  Of course, everyone admired him again and laughed at his puppy ways.

I went to the gym but only walked around the pool and did some laps with the kickboard, retreating to the sauna to relax my muscles.  Then I went home and watched TV with puppy, almost falling asleep while watching a history program about the young Queen Victoria, who fascinates me.  It seems she was a feisty child with a mind of her own at a very early age...

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Friday night

I am staying up way too late again.  I got to the gym late and swam and swam and now I feel so light and strong.  It was good to stretch in the steam room after going to another ballet class this morning.  Dancing is just so much fun I just want to do it every day.  We had a sub but the class was good and I enjoyed being there with all the other diehard dancers who showed up on a Good Friday.  It was another rainy day but I managed to take my puppy out between showers and we had a nice walk to the pet store, as I am still trying to teach him to walk on a leash, young as he is.  Next week he starts obedience class and I will have some help to curb his playful habits.  After all, when he is bigger, it will not be such a pleasure to walk a dog who pulls his leash.  The man at the pet store told me I should be more low key and just ignore him but stop him before he starts a bad action.  I am sure I spoil him and certainly should be more objective, but it's hard because playing with him is so much fun...

Class:
Barre was tricky with lots of changes of feet and too many steps.  I would have liked a simpler barre but sometimes it is good to move fast and think, I'm sure...
Center:
Some lovely dance combinations but the class moved so fast it's hard to remember specific details...I will keep trying...

Friday, April 22, 2011

Thursday

Sometimes it's good to rest.  I went to ballet and then later to Pilates and that was my day, aside from walking my puppy, an activity in itself!  Ballet was all about keeping hips forward and not bending at the waist and so losing your core.  My focus is currently using my legs better and really turning out from the upper thigh.  Pilates was great -- I applied myself to the movements and didn't try to overdo anything.  It's good to rest...

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Wednesday night

I saw a dancer from the Eifman Ballet before my ballet class today and I just floated through the class conducted by a guest dancer, like I had wings.  Just seeing her and how tall and proud she looked elevated me to another level and made me respect the artform even more.  During barre I thought of standing tall and loose and having the ballerina stature I saw in her.  She was so tall and slim and had beautiful feet.  She had just taken off her pointe shoes to go home.  Tonight I saw a star, I commented to the teacher as I walked into the studio.

The teacher said to really hold the arms, showing us how to hold the arms in second position and not let them droop.  I tend to do this and since this was a beginning adult class, I worked on correcting all these fine points that say so much about you as a dancer.  Also, extending the feet in pointe in center, spotting the head, moving the torso sideways in balances, keeping the shoulders and hips down, and so on.

I had been walking with Yasir earlier and I took him along on some errands with me also, stopping to mail a letter and so on.  Everyone always stops me when they see him, commenting on how beautiful he is.  Tonight, after class, I took him out again, just to walk around the block to the side street I had discovered while walking from ballet class that had a flowering tree and smelled fragrant from new spring flowers.  It was a clear night and a welcome relief from the soggy, rainy day yesterday.

So my puppy is playing with his toys and I am winding down, still thinking of this amazing dancer and how discliplined she looked and how proud she was to be a dancer...

Class:
Do pushups before barre:
1. Plies with port de bras, emphasis on staying with the music.
2. Tendus from 1st with plies and port de bras.
3. Tendus en croix, really cross the 5th, hold arms out, relax (the teacher was standing tall but relaxed looking); in fifths, tendus 1st, 5th, to the side.
4. Degages front, back, side.  Then face barre and do degages sideways.
5. Degages en croix front and back, circular port de bras, balance in coupe.
6. Ronde jambes with preparation and fondus around, balancoire with extension through passe and into arabesque.
7. Battu and frappes from a pointed foot which has to flex when reaching the ground (there are many different ways of doing frappes, which means to strike the foot, the teacher said).
8. Developpes en croix.
9. Grand battements front, back, side with tendu to side.  Balance in passe.
Center:
1. Tendus sideways with tendus croise and derrierre, pirouettes from 5th and then from 4th.  Use the arm to turn, go out and around.
2. Adagio: developpes with arabesque promenade, pas de bourre.  Use the torso with developpes, bending back while going forward, using head when going sideways.
3. Balance, balance, using obliques, soutenu, chasse forward with port de bras, pirouettes, lunge.
4. Jumps 1st, 2nd, echappes with echappes in 4th, 2nd, 4th, quatres. To learn quatres, we lay on the floor and moved our feet in beating motions.
5. Temps leve arabesque, temps leve, glissade assemble, waltz in line (how to do this: move leg forward, back, like walking, arms extended going forward, gesturing back hand going backwards, so we can tell Megan we learned this and quatres...), run, run, run, releve arabesque.
For cool down we did superman banana again: do teaser from lying on back, roll around to stomach and do the swan, roll to back and pulse.  I will miss this guest teacher's class because it really made me feel like I was extending my entire body.  I will look for him in his future performances for sure and I thanked him for teaching me and helping me learn about how to move and no matter how you look, it's beautiful... 
there will be another guest teacher Friday morning.  I love taking class from such wonderful teachers!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Tuesday night...

Restless, can't sleep, but what do you expect when I worked nights for so many years.  Went to ballet early in the morning and the teacher said I looked better.  Made my day, really, but I need to stop being so chatty in class.  Even though a dance class can be an informal event, there are still others there and you must respect their thoughts.  I am just too friendly sometimes.

So after class I went on some errands and filled out some job applications and finally got home.  The weather was cold and damp all day and I thought it was just as well because my puppy is healing and he didn't miss much.  Then I went to a Pilates class at the gym and went home and called it a day.  I got drenched on the way home so I got home, lit some candles and incense, and watched TV with doggie.  Very cozy.

Class:
Barre:
1. Stand parallel and roll head, then roll head with shoulders, slowly bend down and walk forward, bend alternate knees to stretch calves, then bend elbows down as far as you can to floor.
2. Plies with port de bras.  1st, bend sideways and over; 2nd, in and out; 4th, around; 5th, down and outward.
3. Tendus en croix through ball of foot.
4. Tendus 1st & 5th, en croix.
5. Degages facing barre, degages front and back very fast.
6. Degages seconde, en croix 2x, sou sou and turn to other side.
7. Ronde jambes, chasse forward, back, pas de bourre towards barre; move leg en l'air, then front through passe to arabesque, penche.
8. Stretch leg on barre with plies, take opposite leg with arm and stretch.
9. Splits on floor, bend forward, sit up and point and flex foot, bend backwards.
10. Lunge and releve in arabesque, promenade to other side.
11. Frappes with "beats."
12. Developpes en croix after tendu, squeezing legs from open position.
13. Grand battements and plies.
Center:
1. Tendu combination croise, wrap foot, elonge, tendus to side, repeat derrierre.
2. Pique arabesque contretemps to other side, pas de bourre over, pirouettes en dedans, soutenu, releve efface run off.
3. Waltz in line, chasse pas de bourre pirouettes.
4. Jumps in 1st, turning, 2nd, changements.
5. Pique turns en diagonal.
6. Pique arabesque glissade assemble, faille assemble.
7. Roll down in parallel and stretch.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Monday

I woke up and my puppy's face was swollen.  Oh, no, so I called the vet and managed to get him in the office for an checkup.  The vet said it could have been a number of things, but he was gouged by something.  I believe it was the cocker spaniel at the beach because I heard him shriek, although he often does this while playing.  I remember my last dog's trainer said that you must always watch who your dog plays with.  Some people think their dogs are angels when they're not, and they always blame you when your dog is rough, but they let their dogs run around and don't care about you.  Lesson learned, I thought.  Seems like all good lessons are learned the hard way, unfortunately.  Still, I have to admit that Yasir's biting everything, including me, gets out of line and the other dog was probably trying to put Yasir in his place, but it is up to me as an owner not to get into this situation in the first place.  Safety first...

I did manage to get to early Pilates with Pamela, a dancer I know, before getting Yasir ready for the vet. Might as well use the hour to profit, I thought, and the early Pilates prepared me for the rest of the day nicely.  It was cold and rainy later in the day after I got puppy home but I went to ballet class anyway, not really having time for a swim, but there is always tomorrow.  I finally got the pet stroller I purchased through the internet assembled and it was fun taking Yasir out in his "baby carriage."  He really liked the ride, too, looking out at things and relaxing in his new resting place.  This is a good way to keep him conained and away from other dogs until he heals, I thought.  There is just so much to learn about working with animals.  My dad lived in a farm and he knew all these things...

The class was taught by the same guest artist as in Friday's class and he will be teaching quite a bit, which is good, because he is a wonderful dancer who keeps telling us to extend our torso and head and curve the arms.  It adds so much dimension to steps, to elongate the body this way.  After class, we did the "superman" banana, lie on back, arch arms and legs like a swan, roll over on back and do Pilates teaser, roll over again and do the swim, roll over one last time and do pulses up with torso and legs; repeat other way.  Fun and good for the core...

Class
Barre:
1. Demi plies with port de bras.  Extend the arms, look at the fingers.
2. Tendus in 1st with plies and releve balances.
3. Degages front, back, 1st to side.  Really extend legs out...
4. Ronde jambe 4x, fondu ronde jambe around 2x, 8 ronde jambes forward, 8 back, fondu developpe leg through passe to arabesque.
5. Fondu front, plie and extend to seconde, fondu side and extend to arabesque; reverse; ronde jambes en  l'air, passe balances.
6. Battu with wrapped foot, frappes en croix and doubles to side.
7. Developpes front, side, extend to "wrap in attitude" and extend.
8. Grand battements front, side, back, balanacoire.
Center:
1. Tendus croise, en face, efface, swing leg through, passe and turn pirouettes.
2. Adagio: grand plie, developpe a la seconde and ronde jambe to arabesque, promenade in arabesque, move arms to second position and developpe leg through.
3. Pique arabesque balance en tournant, chasse pas de bourre pirouettes, pirouettes again, turn to back of room and pirouettes again, tendu croise, plie fondu, pique developpe efface with arm moving in circle toward body, ending in sou sou with arms elonge. (Pretty).
4. Jumps 1st, 2nd, 5th, 5th, 4th, 2nd, 5th, 2nd with beats.
5. Chasse in efface 2x, pique arabesque temps leve, pas de basque temps leve, chasse forward, chasse back, temps leve arabesque temps leve, chasse pas de bourre pas de chat.  (Fun but I kept stumbling over the steps and the first time I forgot what came next -- shame, shame).

Paying attention is the key to retaining movements and being able to remember them and take notes like this, which reinforces the movements and adds to your memory bank...

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sunday

Class:
Barre:
1. Facing barre, plies and releves, end with balance.
2. Plies with port de bras front, back, side, circular.
3. Tendus en croix with demi plies.  Port de bras.
4. Degages front, side, back, passe balance; reverse.
5. Fondu tendus en croix.
6. Ronde jambes with circular port de bras.
7. Frappes en croix, demi-toe en croix, beats.
8. Developpes front, back, side, plie attitude, ronde jambe
    around to arabesque balance; ronde jambes a la seconde.
9. Grand battements en croix.
Center:
1. Tendu side with pas de bourres, plie 5th pirouette, plie 4th releve, then pirouettes.
2. Adagio: grand plie, pique arabesque, pas de bourre, pirouettes.
3. Developpe a la seconde, ronde jambe to arabesque, releve.
4. Jumps: 16 changements, changements with echappes.
5. Glissade assemble 2x, jete temps leve 2x, assemble.
6. Sissonnes arabesque pas de bourre glissade.

There, I wrote down today's class, although it's difficult to remember things when I don't write them down regularly.  I will have to pay more attention to detail in class, I think, because I am so busy trying to learn the movements that I don't see the whole picture, that is, it's really a lot easier than it seems.
It was great to be in class with my friends again with this wonderful teacher and I lingered afterward to stretch and chat.

Then I did a little shopping in my old neighborhood, remembering the days my mother would take me here, and then I got home and took my puppy out to the beach and then we circled back through the park.  He is still good running off-leash, but when he is bigger and stronger, I think I will have to take care where he runs.  I saw a lot of dog friends who wanted my puppy to play some more, but I must remember that he is a growing puppy and can't be out too long still...

So then I got home in time to hit the gym for a swim before they closed on Sunday.  I was alone in the pool again and it felt great, and then I soaked in the steam room and almost fell asleep.  Now it is time to call it a night and think about working through the week.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Weekend

I miss writing out my classes in detail.  I am so much more receptive when I write things down and it really changes the way I think.  So much to say about class tonight, taught by a guest dancer.  He had so many good things to say, he told us to think about using our arms more because we all may have limitations with what our legs can do due to physical structure, but we have the use of our arms, mostly more.  If we think about our arms, it will make us look like thoughtful dancers...

Also, dance the exercises at barre because we must never forget to dance.  Move the torso more at the advanced level and do not be so academic.  Follow the fingers, use the head, go into movements, turn away from the audience slowly...what else...extend yourself because it feels good to expose yourself to he moment.

The exercises and steps made me feel like I was flowing more and I thanked the teacher after class, saying that, for me, it feels best to stretch the body and get out of achy joints and tight spots.  We spoke about the benefits of Bikram yoga, something I want to try, and just the good old tennis ball or even a kong.  So, I will rob my puppy's toy...

I look forward to being in this dancer's class again, as he will be subbing for my regular teacher next week and I will try to write down the exercises so I remember the class, too!  Since I am out of practice with this, the following is not quite accurate.  It seems like the memory must be exercised as well...

Class:
Barre:  We began facing the barre in parallel, point forward, turn out foot each side, tendus en croix through 1st, plie, releve balance.
1. Tendu point flex front, back, sides.
2. Tendu fondu pique fron, back, sides.
3. Degages front, back, side 1st 5th, 1st 1st 1st, 5th.
4. Ronde jambes 4x, battement front through passe to arabesque, ronde jambes side, balance in attitude, promenade to penche.
5. Fondu developpes en croix, ecarte front and back.
6. Beats with frappes en croix.
7. Battements front, side to tendu, fondu side developpe, repeat back.
Center:
1. Tendu croise devant chasse to other leg tendu, chasse back to tendu derrierre, other side, pirouettes from 5th.  Pirouettes from 5th each side, chasse pirouettes from 4th.
2. Waltz in line, chasse pas de bourre pirouettes, detourne pirouettes en dedans, soutenu pique arabesque...tour jetes, tour to attitude, chasse pas de bourre, grand jete or jump of choice...
3. Jumps: 2nd to changements, soubresaut, coupe, coupe, assembles.
4. Echappe faille arabesque, fouette jumps, pique arabesque, tours en tournant...
5. Glissade jete, ballotte ballotte, pique developpe a la seconde, pas de bourre en tournant, glissade ballonne, jete, brises.
6. Fouette turns.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wednesday...

This is something the children learn, you should know better, the teacher said as we did temps leve passe in a circle.  She came around to me at barre and, placing a stick upon my back, said, don't stick out.  Finally I understand not to hold tension in the back.  We all try to muscle through things and sometimes it is just not necessary.  So my new habit will be to relax my back and not grip everything.  Just hold the muscles and allow the flexibility to happen in the back.  It will take time to understand this feeling, but it will make me a better dancer, I know.

Then today there was a small class and we did pique turns, waltz-in-lines with pas de bourre detourne to pirouettes.  We also did the tendu combination with arms, tendu croise, coupe, tendu epaule, then to back, coupe, efface...  We worked on inside pirouettes: lunge, releve attitude, faille, then turns...

I went to Pilates class at the gym after doing some shopping with Yasir.  He has a new collar and leash which are much stronger than his small collar, also more expensive!  But, this time is so special, his puppy time, like having a young child, it will not come back, this time to savor with your "baby." So now I am tired and puppy is sleeping and I am content that everything is the same and all is well.

In Pilates, the trick of coming up from the ground with a strong back is all in the stomach and abs; that is, you must engage the muscles around the lower back and breathe and come up with a straight back.  Since the teacher did all the exercises with us, I followed her movements to understand what I was supposed to do.   This I think is the best way to learn, to shadow someone more experienced.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Friday, really Saturday and I'm feeling better

People are people.  I have to be more in control, as with puppy, too.  I am just too soft and being soft these days will not get you very far.  So, I went to advanced ballet in the morning at my neighborhood school and consequently had a great time.  Better not to be negative, it doesn't suit me, I thought.  So, class was great and I stayed afterward to watch the teacher and a dancer coaching some young students who will be performing a pas de deux.  The young girl kept going too far away from her partner and the experienced dancer said, just look him in the eye and walk right toward him.  Funny, I thought, that is what I'm trying to achieve, being more direct...

Then I took puppy to the vet and when we got home he fell asleep and so I took off for a swim at the gym, which was great because I had the whole pool to myself.  Then I went out and everyone was out on a Friday night, but I was happy to just be relaxing at the gym, working on myself...

Now it is already Saturday and I can't sleep because I am wound up from working out.  That's okay, I don't really sleep anyway.  Later will be puppy school, my puppy's graduation.  And then will come more lessons and obedience school.  I tried to coach him on walking on the leash a little and got frustrated when he wouldn't behave, but I have to realize he is a puppy.  I am always too hard on myself and need to ease off, I thought.  Being a perfectionist, you would think I would have everything under control, but it is still in my mind and not in my actions.

The teacher in ballet school said ballet is movement, a plie is a verb, a movement.  Life is a movement, not just thinking about doing something.  More conviction, more direct, that will be me, I hope...

Ballet class:
The teacher kept refining the combinations after we did them once to bring out things such as syncopation and not just having everything the same, moving the arms which means moving the back.  Use the torso, use the head.  We did adagio with pirouettes and lots of jumps leading into grand allegro with grand jetes.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Thursday and Everyone Hates Me

...or so it seems.  Everybody wonders why I am so obsessed with fitness.  But aren't we all?  Why do I see so many women at the gym, trying to get in shape.  Or at the dance studio?  It is not all for honorable motives and my dance teachers probably feel that I don't care about the dance part, just keeping fit.  I don't know, but I can't stand people who make life harder than it should be.  If it makes you happy, why not?

So, I continue with this blog, although some people don't appreciate my efforts.  Still, I think there is a place for my opinions; heaven knows, the internet is full of girls talking endlessly about sickled feet, toe exercises, how to do fouette turns.  Why should I be different?  I didn't dance today because I lost my dance clothes but then I found them again -- they were at the studio and it was too late and puppy was running out the door and so I went to the gym because I find the gym at least less stressful than being in a dance class and trying to be polite to everyone.  It is the formality of dance, which is great, but some days you just feel like, well, exploding, ha, ha.

So I went swimming and later I attended Pilates class, which I love, and now I feel like a carefree young girl.  If only it was that easy...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Quiet Wednesday

It was a chilly raw kind of day and once again I felt like I was living in the countryside in Europe somewhere.  I had mislaid my cell phone yesterday and so Yasir and I went to retrace my steps and ended up in the health club.  I walked in with my puppy and the manager had my phone in an envelope.  He was very interested in my puppy, as was everyone else.  Yasir was very calm and relaxed -- I think he liked the atmosphere in the club, with everyone working out.  A bootcamp instructor saw him and said, hi, buddy.  He just fit right in.

So then we went home and I started to do my taxes on the computer, among other things.  Necessary evils that get in the way of enjoying life.  I was never very good at practical things, although I know that being tidy about oneself promotes better leisure/fun time.  Eventually I got to afternoon ballet and struggled to be like the young girls, who were learning technique.  Pure technique is hard, I thought.  It's more fun to go to a class where you just move around and have fun, but I am drawn to technical challenges in my dancing.  This teacher insists on good execution and I found myself getting more tired trying to execute the proper movements than in other classes.  I was sweating even trying to stand up correctly.  The teacher corrected a girl who stuck out in plie before pirouette, telling her she would never look right this way and said that I was getting better with my stance.  Crooked posture will never get you good turnout either, I thought.  I am learning...

Then I went to Pilates class at the gym and found that I did better strengthwise than my last attempt at Pilates directly after ballet class.  Again, I tried to execute the movements correctly and this is always harder than just doing things any old way, and so much better for your figure, too.  Look out summer, if I can just resist the urge to nibble sweets!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Tuesday

Dancing today was fun with all the young dancers going to this class with a most creative teacher whose company will perform this weekend.  After my revelations from yoga class, I was in good spirits and kind of reached a dance nirvana where I ceased to exist and became a dancer...

After the usual barre, which always has a lot of stretching and also room for becoming creative with the movements, something I always appreciate about this class, we started center and the class seemed to flow and ended too soon.

Then I went home to puppy and we had a nice walk in the park, where we romped around and encountered some other dogs.  Yasir was in good spirits as he ran after a tennis ball I tossed at him and he had a good workout.  Then I went home and got ready to go to the gym, to yoga.  However, the class was an hour later than I expected, so I swam and got done with my laps just in time for power yoga.

I did not expect power yoga, but the regular class was changed, and so we did a lot of planks and core work, which I appreciated, since I didn't have a Pilates class today.  It was your basic yoga class, but a little more extreme, and I even tried breathing deeply, something that was easy after coming from the pool.  Afterward I discussed hip flexors again and the teacher said she noticed my hips were crooked as I was doing the splits and she said that now that she sees my problem, she will work with me to get a better alignment, which is achieved by bringing the navel to the spine, really holding the abs, and tucking the tailbone under.  Also, broaden the shoulders, too.

I met my Japanese friend in class, who happened to be in Tokyo during the tsunami and she said she was walking her baby in the stroller when it happened and everyone ran out of the buildings, which were all shaking.  It must have been the worst experience to see her country suffer, I thought.

I haven't been too descriptive about my dance steps lately, but I will post some soon so that I can get an exercise in memory and describing what I have been doing, but I have just been enjoying it all so much and not being so analytical lately, which is maybe a good thing, too.

P.S.  Maybe another good thing, my blog will no longer post because it has been reported as spam, so I am signing off for now.  It was a good run, so I guess I will continue with my notes and maybe write a book instead...  Since it was my first blog, I have learned a lot and hope to continue writing!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Monday

It has been a chilly day, reminding me of spring student days in Europe.  I walked my puppy in the bleak air which was invigorating.  The wind was raw but I don't mind days like this because I can be introspective and it was nice just being with my puppy all day, although I had other things to attend to, like taxes, job applications and managing my apartment.  That is why I really enjoy having a dog, to take out and take me away from my problems.  Holding my puppy, everything is okay and I can face life with a smile because my dog will always be my friend.

I opted to wait until the afternoon for my workout and so I went to afternoon ballet class and then I went to the gym and made it through Pilates class, followed by yoga class.  I felt like I couldn't go on, but I talked to the teacher afterward about my sore joints and how another teacher from Friday had said it takes more practice to get more flexible.  I said to him that it's true, you can't give up on your body.

Now I'm home with puppy and the night is quiet, but things will change tomorrow when the weather turns warmer and there will be more activity outside, so I am enjoying this quiet time at home...

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sunday

And I danced!  I felt rusty but the rustiness made me more aware of using my joints properly.  I guess I will never be the bouncy, juicy sort of dancer.  My style is more stern and severe and it was nice to stand next to a really good dancer at Joffrey Academy who matched my style.  This is what I like, working with women in a non-competitive but serious way.  I am so not the smiley, giggly, bubbly type, personally, that is.  This is not to say that there is anything wrong with this type, but when they impose their way on you, I disagree.  Everyone should be free to be an individual in dance, which is what Claude Bessy of the Paris Opera has said.  Dance is not about personality, it is about the physical ability to execute movement and no one should be judged in terms of their private affairs and lives.  I agree completely and welcome diversity and different opinions because it is the only way to grow, to accept other points of view.

End of speech...class was fun!  And then I went home to puppy and he had his workout at the beach, running in the sand.  Running in the sand is hard.  You try it sometime!  I don't know how dogs do it, but they are animals and are incredibly strong.  This is the beauty of animals and why I admire them so much.  I recently read an article in a pet magazine about how the nervous system was created to coordinate body functions with the brain and I think after reading this that physicality is very important to mental growth.

After being at the beach, I couldn't think of anything else but swimming, so off I went, having a great time in the pool, which was empty except for a man who was churning away, as was I.  There was just my arms plowing through the water and blowing bubbles with my mouth and it felt great.  Now I am home, watching "Superman."  I love science fiction...

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Saturday

I danced underwater, I mean, I did my lane walks and then opted to do an underwater barre instead of swimming, as it was late and I had been with puppy all day, at puppy school, and then just enjoying the day.  My dance teacher said she did this often when she was sore, and it really does help to feel the power of the water and doing barre steps against its resistance.  It works your muscles but you are not sore because the water takes the pain away by acting as a sort of cushion.  I think this would be a good way to strengthen my legs and hips and especially, to work my turnout, since the water provides equal tension on all sides, as another teacher commented when I told him I liked to swim and practice dancing underwater...

Puppy school is so much fun and I wonder who is learning more, me or puppy.  I agree with this trainer that it is the owner's responsibility to control a dog and do what's best for their dog.  A good owner will make for a good dog.  So, I must be more consistent with the exercises, as dogs learn through repetition.  There is just so much to raising a puppy and it is a very short time that they are small, so you need to really devote some time to them at this stage of their life, and it is so rewarding to love your dog.

After puppy class I took Yasir to the park and lake, where he met some other dogs, and I loved to watch him playing and discovering everything for the first time.  He is still young enough to run freely without running away and since a puppy will follow you around, I am using his youth to impress upon him the importance of returning to me, although once he is bigger, I will have to really watch him.  Even now, there is always the danger of running into something or someone, so you must always guard your dog against harm.

Now he is home, sleeping and playing with the large beef trachea I bought him, since he is teething and needs something interesting to bite on.  He is outgrowing his toys and starting to take the stuffing out of his once-favorite bear, but he seems to be more gentle with his stuffed objects than my previous dogs, perhaps because he has been the youngest puppy I have had and I remembered my vet's words about training young, which is really paying off...