It got colder and snowed this morning and now it is a sloppy mess so I am staying home this evening, but I did go to an afternoon ballet class, in between puppy walks. Just now Yasir met the two St. Bernards that live down the block and an elegant elderly well-dressed lady couldn't help smiling at the sight of little Yasir being inspected by the two "horses," as one girl in my building calls these dogs. They are, however, very sweet, the old one and their new "puppy" who is almost grown. Yasir shivers when he gets cold so I take him out for little walks and he doesn't venture far from my side, but I know that soon he will and I will have to take him to obedience school. Presently it is just nice to stay home with him and relax.
I have been so active that this quiet time is good for me; actually, I feel more energized now that I have my "friend" to share quality time with. There is no point working out and being active if you are stressed. So, I went downtown to Lou Conte Dance Studio and took class with a dancer/teacher I have known from the Ruth Page School. The dance community can be a tight-knit world and everyone eventually knows everyone else who dances. I like to take her beginner class to work on my structure and now that she has become a Pilates instructor, I am learning this from her, too, and how to use Pilates while dancing. Her plies, for instance, are so aligned since she is using the correct muscles, it is beautiful to see.
Working out at the gym makes me more confident in ballet class and this really helps, since I am so shy. Today I even stood front center in center. One thing about being right there in your face, you realize what is in your head. There was a barre exercise that went 4x tendus front, hold count 3; 3x to side, hold count 2; 2x to back...you get the picture and I asked the teacher what was the purpose of the exercise when she asked if there were any questions. She said it was "to think." So during center I noticed how I always "think" too much and scrutinize everything so that I almost look fake; that is, I am unnatural in my movements. If I stand in back the way I like to do, I am less self-conscious and enjoy dancing. I want to be this way in front, center, too, to really show what I know so that people will look at me.
So in center, after a good warmup barre, we did an adagio: developpe croise devant, developpe croise derriere, chasse pas de bourre pirouettes. We also did sou sou step forward, passe balance, pirouettes. For jumps we did glissade assemble, assemble, glissade pas de chat, pas de chat, coupe, temps leve arabesque glissade grand jete. Since it was a beginning class, time was spent on breaking down the steps, something which is not done in more advanced classes where it is presumed everyone knows how to do this already. This is why the elementary classes are vital to understand how to dance with quality. So many people take dance classes to work out, but, as one teacher said, if you want to do that, go to the gym, because dancing is an artform.
I believe that the essence of sports is also like this, since the times of the ancient Greek Olympic Games. The true athlete is graceful, like a dancer. The difference is the approach, I think. Where the athlete is looking to play the game and win the prize, the dancer uses physicality to achieve form, as a musician would when playing an instrument. Both are a reflection of the human spirit, I believe, which is innately beautiful when excellence is achieved...
1. Keep hips and shoulders aligned at barre, move in a steady rhythm, point your toes. The teacher said it is like stretching your feet. Have a pleasant expression on your face. "Do it with a smile," the teacher said. Counterbalance your body, with your hands, feet, eyes. The teacher said if one arm is weaker than the other or one side is stronger, you will totter around, much like I do now, I thought...
2. Respect the distance between you and the other dancers. Move with the other dancers harmoniously.
3. Do not move hips or pick up hips to move the legs because you lose the connection in the hamstring when your leg is not properly used.
4. Show some energy and vitality, even though you do not always feel it. It is part of being professional and mature in your work.
5. Point your toes, stretch your knees, even in port de bras.
6. Spot your head in multiple turns.
7. Balance, balance, balance, on one leg in demi-point!
8. Do not be afraid to make honest mistakes.
9. Have fun!!