About Me

Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday and more...

So now I am recovering after a day of Pilates, swimming, and ballet class. The more I do, the more I want to do. I feel strong and ready to tackle the world. Everybody was complaining about the cold today but I think that when you are really fit, it doesn't bother you. I remember as a kid I wondered how the neighborhood guys would play hockey for hours -- I used to watch them through the window across the street in the park, wearing t-shirts in the -10 degrees cold. They would always shoo me away when I put on my figure skates and went across the street, wearing my skate guards, to try some figure skating. But it was okay, because I learned a lot from them, too.

I am really learning to like Pilates. Today I had class with my favorite teacher who works a lot with going through the parts of the body -- keep the shoulders pressed down, tuck the hips up...in bridge pose, she tells us to lower and lift the hips, the lift and lower, to get those little nuances of movement. This really burns up my glutes and then I can almost feel my thighs working. Surprisingly, my thighs are my weakest muscles, and they are such a big muscle. The teacher said in class today that if you have tight hamstrings, you probably have a weak back, and she is so right about how one thing affects something else. Today we did a new move, to sit halfway down in a "C" curve and then rotate our torso to each direction while slicing our arm through space, kind of like the swim arms I was taught by a guy at the gym who used to shake his head whenever he watched my stroke.

Then I swam. I was the only one in the pool, but the water was pretty warm so even though it was cold, swimming was good. I rushed home and the bus was there to take me to ballet class. My favorite classical teacher was teaching tonight and the class was packed, even on such a cold night. There was one young girl there from a local dance company wearing a beautiful purple leotard (by Repetto, I asked her) who really stood out in class. She had control and looked lovely. I talked to her after class about how I always feel inferior because I can never compete with someone who has studied since childhood and she told me that there is always something to learn and I said she was right, I can get better for myself and I don't have to necessarily compete. Good dancers can be the nicest people and I love talking to them about what they love and what I love, too.

Barre was solid and structured; we did grand plies with balances and port de bras, then tendus with plies and port de bras, then tendus en croix with passes and attitudes, then developpes a la seconde moving to arabesque (a really back cruncher, and the teacher used the girl in the purple leotard to show where the muscles in the mid-back should be held to achieve the proper arabesque line), and penches, balancoires and ronde jambes. The teacher said throughout to keep the hips square and not tilt the body. I watched my supporting side in the window to see if my legs were straight and I noticed how my left leg always wanted to bend in weird places. When I tried to straighten it, my left hip would compensate by going back. There is something pinching my leg in the back hip area that is preventing me from pulling my leg out; however, in center when I practiced pirouettes, I noticed how if I really just stood on my leg and moved my torso (like the oblique stretches in Pilates), I felt more secure.

The center combinations were flowing and graceful and I thought, at some point I am going to have to stop being so shy in center and let it go. A dancer a long time ago said I was so good at barre but I lose it in center, and this is why. I just like to hide at barre but if I truly love my craft, I am going to have to change. As my pointe teacher always says, and I want to take pointe class tomorrow, it's not a big deal and dancers have been doing these things for years and I am just making too much out of it, so, as they say, just do it...

1. Pas de bourres, tendus front and back; tendu front, pirouette(s) from 5th to 4th pirouettes.
2. Tendu croise derrierre, pas de basque; pirouette dehors, rotation, pirouette dedans, detourne, chainnes, inside pique turn.  The teacher said here to spot, spot, spot...and after I looked at where I was going, my turns were much easier.  Like a cat, he said, you throw it out the window and it will turn its head and land on its feet.

...Then the teacher explained his theory of turning, that all the Russian and French and other techniques set  you up to try to rotate in these impossible positions and they say to use the arms but the arms will throw you off, too.  He said that the whole thing is gravity and if you plie and push, you will turn, like a corkscrew (another Pilates term, I thought as I listened intently, something I need to do more of, too!).  Also, do not use the arms, use the shoulders.  Notice how the shoulders are aligned nicely over the hips, he said, commenting that if he used the force of his arms, he would fall down to the ground for sure.  

I stood there and listened, thinking, this is really what Pilates teaches, too, to be square and feel the internal muscles working inside to pull you together.  It's scientific, the dance teacher said.  After seeing him turn, I am thinking that his method is the one, and since I have been studying with him, my turns are so much more secure.  I was never good at turning, but at least now it works.  I think, again, my problem is to just let it go.  I notice how the other girls just relax more when they dance...

3. Jumps: 16 changements; 2 changements with two echappes, echappe to 4th, pirouettes.
4. Changements with sissonnes a la seconde, soubresaut, changement.
5. Echappe glissade assemble, chasse assemble, step assemble; echappe 4th pirouettes.
6. Grand allegro: Tendu croise, glissade jete, glissade jete, pique arabesque, tour jete to arabesque fondu,  temps lie arabesque to other side, step croise tendu, chainnes to pique arabesque, or do another inside turn if you are secure, the teacher said.  The girl in the purple leotard was amazing here.  Such clarity...
7. Menage:  Pique turns, soutenus; chainnes, inside pique turn.

End of class, everyone curtsied to the teacher and then, when he held the door for us to go downstairs, I stepped on his foot.  I will just have to become more graceful if it kills me, I thought, and then I took the subway home, running into another girl from class who happens to live in my neighborhood.  More dancing tomorrow, but now I am going to read, since I can't figure out how to set up my digital box.  Well, TV is such a waste of time, but I find that turning it on makes me feel less alone and I like to watch the actors, too.  Oh, well, I have too many books to read...

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