About Me

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Spend a great deal of the day attending to business, but I did manage to start the day with a Pilates group class. It is the one with arm weights where you sit on a Swiss ball and then do arms exercises such as lifting the arms up and down sideways, bringing the elbows to the chest and then raising the weights up and down, bending the back over to a diagonal position and then bringing the arms with elbows bent back to work the triceps. Then, walking over the Swiss ball, bending the knees in a crouching position on the ball; then getting into a plank and doing pushups. Also better today was the exercise where your back is at a right angle and, holding the ball for balance, lift legs sideways. I could see that I lacked mobility in my left hip joint, which is why I have trouble straightening my left leg in ballet class...
So I concluded the day with a great beginning ballet class with my favorite classical teacher who always brings me back into the correct form. Near the end of class, when we were doing glissades, I tried closing my eyes to really feel the movement: demi-plie, lift right leg up, jump with the left leg and bring it to the right leg in the air. The teacher said, while I was doing this to the left side, point your toes and straighten your leg. I still don't quite feel it on the left side the way I can on the right side. It is good to close my eyes like this and just concentrate on the feeling because some things that look right in the mirror are not always internally correct.
For example, when I look at the backs of my legs in the mirror, I see that I am still not using my glutes correctly, which is why I cannot fully use my legs. I must feel the whole leg muscle from the top. Pilates is really helping me isolate my legs, though, and I felt much more solid in class today, even marking some of the combinations away from the barre successfully, like fondus, which are hard. When I demi-plie on my left leg, which is weaker, I can see how I start to turn the muscles in instead of using them. So, the glissade to the right is weak because I cannot jump and straighten my left leg successfully still. But I cannot give in to it. I must work it until it is strong...
So, we did a lot of plies and demi-plies, which are so important for the strength of the legs. We did a great part of barre facing it, doing tendus, degages, fondus with developpes, ronde jambes, letting go occasionally to see if we were transferring our weight successfully. Tonight the teacher stressed weight transfer. You must learn to stand on one leg in ballet, he said. We concluded barre with grand battements and I could see, standing near the teacher, how his torso did not move, while mine jerked as I moved my legs. Also, the teacher was watching my legs throughout to see if they were straight, a bad habit I have, of relaxing the leg.
Even with tendus, when you tendu, your weight is transferring. There is always this weight transfer. We did tendus in center and I found that my legs got straighter if I really tried to move my legs out as far as possible, really stretching out the movement. The teacher talked about the torso being still, just the thing I was thinking of at barre. Then we moved on to jumps, glissades and changements with glissades. Today there were no pirouettes, although we did do balances in passe and then rising on demi-toe and coming straight down with both feet, the teacher stressing that it is very important after a demi-toe balance to arrive back to 5th position with both legs.
Trying to look pretty and graceful while working hard is hard work, but I tried my best to look pleasant and ladylike in class, remembering what my other teacher said about not sagging in the waistline. There was a new girl in class who was a yoga instructor and we talked and I said that yoga mentally destresses me. I think it applies to ballet, too. Ballet relaxes me and the more I use my mind and focus, the better I look and feel.
Then I walked halfway home in the fresh powdery snow until the bus finally came. I felt so energized, I'm sure I could have walked all the way home if I had to. The night was quiet and warm for January, perfect walking weather. Nobody was outside, and I felt at peace with the elements.

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