About Me

Friday, February 11, 2011

Friday night

I got up late today but got to the gym in time for Pilates with a great teacher who always makes me feel so aligned.  We started on our backs, knees bent and feet on floor, moving the arms overhead and down to sides.  Then we lifted our heads and shoulders up from our mats a few times before finally doing the Pilates 100 series.  Then we did the oblique crunches with alternating knees and doing scissor movements with straight legs.  Then we used the magic circle to stretch our hamstrings by placing the foot inside the circle and stretching the leg as far as it would go, also pointing and flexing the feet.  After this, we held the circle in one hand and stretched our entire leg away and toward our centers.  We lay on our stomach, hands crossed over the forehead and lifted our torso up as far as we could, repeating this with hands at sides.  Then we lifted both arms and legs and did the swim and also did the swan.  On our sides, we moved alternate legs forward and back, up and down, and made leg circles, both large and small; also, we swung the legs and tapped our foot forward and then tapped it back a few times.  Up on all four, we lifted alternate legs to work the glutes, and then pushed the knee toward the chest and swung it out.  We proceeded to pushups and then, my favorite, placing the magic circle inside the ankles while standing up, we lifted one foot off the floor and squeezed it against the other leg.  We rolled up and down, stood up and did Pilates releves.

After this, I soaked in the steam room before heading to the pool to do my usual routine laps, walks, even trying the tricky jump combination from yesterday's ballet class underwater.  It's fun to do ballet steps underwater -- I often do grande ronde jambes and developpes through passe and try to do arabesques and walking on demi-toe.  Then I went to the whirlpool and sauna and felt great, so light on my feet and yet strong.  Pilates and swimming continue to get easier after these daily drills and I feel more power in my body.

I ended the day with ballet class at the Joffrey Academy, with a guest teacher from the company.  He explained that his style was more contemporary and encouraged us to really move and not dance like we were in the 18th century.  We started with plies with arms going in and up, trying to move the arms from the elbows and use the fingers like a Balanchine dancer, letting all the fingers be seen.  The teacher walked past me while I was doing plies and said, good, good, although later he came by as we did degages and took my foot and said, try to do them from the ball of the foot going out.  I asked him about this after class, how to articulate the feet better and he said it was really mental, to know what you are required to do and do it.  I told him my worst foot exercise was frappes and really trying to articulate the feet, like other dancers I see in class.  It's not just holding the leg muscles like my other teachers say, but there is a separate movement in the foot and ankle that I need to master...

We did a lot of sweeping gestures, like temps leve ronde jambes and then a rotation to the other side, doing the same.  The teacher had worked on William Forsythe dances and said that this particular choreographer would draw this step in shape in the shape of an ellipse and that is the way your body should feel.  He also said to involve the whole body in movements, especially the eyes, and not just to look down at the feet and not be involved totally.  The whole barre was flowy like this and I really felt loose and warmed up and comfortable at halfway point...

We started center with tendus, really moving the arms through traditional positions, and then getting into pirouettes.  We did an adagio where we did developpes to pique arabesque to promenade in attitude to grand plie.  I tried to lead the movement of the promenade with my head and outside arm, something another teacher had said, which seems to help the balance.  We also did balances with sweeping arms into attitude turns, inside turns, and chainnes.  The jump combination, although tricky, was easy compared to yesterday:  glissade jete, coupe drag foot, step on it, jete coupe assemble, sissonne, quatre beat.  Sometimes when I got off tempo I dragged the wrong way and so practiced this several times to get the flow of it.  I even ended up doing a solo, since when I marked, I was the only one continuing and the pianist kept playing for me!  I liked this jazzy step which made me feel like a show dancer...

Then we ended with a grand allegro which consisted of grand jetes and tour jetes to chasses.  We ended class with reverence, bowing to the teacher, the pianist, standing in B plus position while the "curtain" went down, then bowing to the balcony, and to the other side of the audience.  I walked home in the freezing cold night, as I had walked to class, thinking that all this walking is a good workout, too.  Now I feel like Wonder Woman...

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