About Me

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Saturday at Ballet School

"I don't know why you don't want to go forward more," my teacher said after class.  She has been trying to correct my pirouette preparations.  I instinctively go forward on my right side but I just don't plie enough on my stiffer left side.  It was good that she is correcting me and placing me so that I can feel the correct stance.  As my other teacher said, pretend your bad side is the same, and as my yoga teacher said, there is nothing like an adjustment.  So, it is all gelling together.

It was a good class, especially at the end, where we quickly marked the grand allegro, the teacher saying, we can't always take our time.  It was temps leve arabesque balance 2x, releve arabesque, developpe efface, chasse pas de bourre grand jete (straight leg), step step pique arabesque tour jete, flip over, chasse pas de bourre grand jete with 3rd position arms.  The jumps were 1st 5th 2x, then jumps seconde releve, then glissade jete, glissade jete, ballonne pas de bourre, glissade assemble, then with beats.  The adagio was to Bayadere music: chasse forward reverse 5th position arms, chasse ecarte, elonge arms, chasse back, small bow; developpe ecarte to arabesque, plie pas de bourre, attitude turn, faille, step, temps leve.  We also did a variation where we stepped to the side with romantic 3rd position arms, to sou sou, developpe croise, to seconde, to 4th arabesque step, circle leg back, tendu croise, arms 3rd, deep back bend.

While we were practicing pirouettes, the teacher came up to me and tried to adjust me as I was moving and I brushed her head accidentally!  After class, I remarked that her husband was always telling me to get out of the way while dancing -- I'm so clumsy sometimes, at least I can be courteous.  I really think I need to learn better etiquette, but it's because I am such a tomboy and go to the gym and used to go fishing and climbing trees and never was very feminine growing up.  Oh, dear, and now I want to be a ballerina -- well, at least the teacher is a good sport and didn't smack me back.  I felt so bad about it, though.  She is a tough teacher, but dedicated and patient.  Now I am watching the advanced class in adagio as I wait for pointe class and try to be graceful once again, before hitting the gym for my swim...

At the pool I compared notes with a triathlete.  She said she sees me a lot at the pool and asked about my routine.  I told her I try to swim regularly because it is easier that way to build strength.  Today I felt really solid in the water, swimming laps with a newfound consistency and power.  I really think that the Pilates and yoga are saving me and I hope to continue this, although my gym membership may have to change.  It will be worth it because, like swimming, consistency in these disciplines is important, too.

Now I'm watching women's figure skating championships on TV -- such strong women!

Pointe was fun and my feet are okay.  I use plastic bags now...

1. No shoes, rise in 1st position and stand on tips of toes, pushing the barre with elbows.  Alternate feet, pointing each foot.  Walk through feet.
2. With shoes on, plie and releve in parallel, then in 1st position; then step away from barre and step into barre; then same in sou-sou.
3. Standing in 2nd position, arch foot and lean over foot, bending knee; go through feet in plie.
4. Echappes from 1st; sou sous; sou sous and echappes.
5. Plie passe, balance.
6. Bourres at barre.
7. Pas de bourres; reverse pas de bourres; lateral pas de bourres.
8. Pique fouettes.
9. Pique arabesque to barre, plie and raise working leg -- teacher comes and stretches everybody.
10. Releve in 1st, turn in, turn out -- teacher adjusts turnout in everybody, pulling thighs out.
11. Center - temp leves along barre, rolling through feet after working leg reaches cou de pied.
12. Piques along the barre; pique developpes along barre.
13. Arabesques along barre.
14.  Cool down; take off shoes and plie releve in parallel; go to barre and plie releve on one leg alternating, stretch calves.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Fitness Friday

You probably know by now that I would rather work out than work, but come next month, a few days away, work I must.  I envy people who have jobs doing what they love, but they, too, had to work at some point to get there...

I love Pilates more and more, went to class today with my favorite teacher, the one who told me I have weak hamstrings, weak glutes, weak abs, what's left?  But I appreciate her honesty.  Today I could not do planks from a prone position to save my life, so I concentrated instead of just pulling my core together.  Anyone can just get up in bits and pieces but that requires no effort or strength.

We did a lot of nice, different side leg work today:  lie on side with knees bent at right angles to body, do clams -- keeping feet together, lift knee up and down, then pulse up, up, up.  Then, lift both legs off the floor, still with knees bent sideways, and do the same -- harder!  Bring legs down, knees still bent, lift knee up, then dip down to touch other knee, like reverse turnout...

Speaking of turnout, I hit the pool right after.  I thought I was hungry after Pilates but after I drank water out of my birthday water bottle present, I felt okay.  I started with walks back and forth on tip-toe (demi-point) and then did the same sideways, and then the same in a kind of jog.  Then I did parallel developpes, trying to feel the crease in my hip socket to strengthen my psoas.  Then I did passes underwater and these are great because you can't cheat and lift your hips when the water is holding them down.  Then I floated on my back, supported by a noodle, then on my stomach, doing flutter kicks.  Then I swam 3 laps and I'm done.  Time for that lunch!

After a steak sandwich with spinach and guacomole, I walked downtown (about 2 miles) to a free ballet class at Joffrey Academy (1st Fridays are free).  I wanted to go to the earlier beginner class, too, but when I got there, taking my time walking past all the stores on Michigan Avenue, including one place that advertised fur coats on sale for 75% off and past the Chanel Boutique (I love the sleek lines, and to think Chanel's mother was homeless, according to a biography I read), the beginner class was packed like sardines.

So there I was in the advanced class with the Joffrey Academy cream of the crop.  The teacher was very nice, a really good dancer himself, and he proceeded with his confusing class.  It makes you think, because his combinations are so off the wall and he just indicates the movements and there we go...demi, demi, grand plie, port de bras forward, grand plie.  Tendu front, plie, side, plie, port de bras side; tendu back, plie, etc., tendu side 1st 5th, 5th 1st, 5th 3x, releve balance.  Fondu side, fondu front, developpe front, developpe seconde; repeat reverse.  Frappes front, side, back, double side, front front, 3x side.  Ronde jambes with degage around, attitude swings.  Grand battement front, side, back, balancoire, side, side.  Oh, yes, ronde jambes en l'air with pas de bourre to 4th position, releve, pirouettes, rotation pas de bourre to other side.

Then was center after we did our own stretch:  tendu croise, plie, tendu side, plie, tendu back, arabesque pas de bourre, pirouettes.  Tendu croise front plie, side plie, swing leg to efface, pas de bourre, pirouettes en dedans.  Adagio:  grand plie to pirouette, rotation, pirouette to plie efface, pique arabesque, chasse tour jete, rotation, pique turns, inside pique turn.  Then balance, balance, releve developpe ecarte, fondu plie, turn, balane front, side, waltz in line, chasse pas de bourre pirouettes.  Jumps were 3x 1st position, 3x seconde, 1st 1st 5th, 1st, 1st second.  Then changements with echappes, glissade assemble assemble, glissade jete, jete, glissade brises.  The combinations are tricky in that they are kind of syncopated movements, not the 4 square type of things I'm used to...

Then it was freestyle, different students trying out steps they wanted to refine or master, and then the walk home, stopping to get some bananas and cereal for breakfast tomorrow to prepare for more ballet and my Saturday pointe class.  I had wanted to go to the gym and yoga class with my sister but somehow the Saturday class with my friend Noah was discontinued.  I though, ha, ha, my sister would really get it with him, but it will have to wait...she keeps saying she wants to try yoga...I want her to take ballet class, too!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thursday at the Dance Studio

Waiting for my second ballet class of the day.  I used to take three classes a day when I was younger and it's really nice to be able to take two classes a day, if you can afford it.  The second class is always better because you are warmed up.  I met an old friend from my past dancing days and we shared barre in today's afternoon class.  She, being a professional, was more concerned with what she could do, not how she looked.  Also, in center, I noticed how she really pushed herself to do everything, whether her body wanted to or not.  This is real dedication and this is how you get better, I thought.

After we finished a very structured barre, and went on to center, the teacher saw her kind of fall apart and commented that she looked so nice at barre and "I know a part of you wants to find the freedom in space to move," and kind of made her feel more comfortable.  I, too, struggle to be good in center, without the use of the barre.  With the barre, it's easy to pull up and stand straight but in center you are on your own, vulnerable and exposed.

The focus of the class was on the triangle of the back and maintaining a straight back, straight meaning held and firm, while moving around.  The teacher said it may at first feel stiff, but it's the only way to have the freedom to move from your center.  We started center with an adagio and then went on to pirouettes, finally to jumps and graduating to grand allegro.  Afterwards I stretched on the stretcher that was in the studio, draping my back over it, trying to get the kinks out.  As class was disbanding, I asked my friend, who teaches children, what she tells her students who can't bend their backs and she said to warm up with little movements, otherwise "you'll hurt yourself."  I told her about the girl in yoga class who, standing on her knees, could bend all the way back until her head touched the floor, and she said, "that's a lot of work right there."  I didn't realize it, but it is, and my yoga friend must have worked hard to get there...

"Did you all have a hard day today?" tonight's ballet teacher asked.  Everybody seemed drained.  Well, I have been conditioned to take class no matter how I feel, so there I was, fussing with my alignment again.  I think I irritate teachers because I am so obsessed with body structure.  After class, the teacher asked me to just do plies and said that I was always trying to control the movement instead of just letting it happen, like, poop down, splat.  I told him I am always afraid to let go and he said, "I can see that."  I told him I was afraid that if I really pulled up my legs and did strong pirouettes, that I would fall and he said, if I feel that way, to be careful.

I stood at center barre with another young bendy girl who seemed to be able to turn herself out.  She doesn't understand my pains, I thought.  Young girls are so unforgiving to more mature women in class and it's almost like I feel teased.  It was interesting that the teacher remarked, look, this is your stance and you just hold yourself together, push the floor, and move around.  Yes, I thought, it's that simple.  All these contrivances don't really matter; what matters is being honest, and, honestly, when I see myself in the mirror and how my left side caves in because my leg is crooked, no wonder I look dangerous when I turn.

There was another really good student who was having problems today and the teacher asked her where did it hurt, is it a surface thing or deep inside, do you feel the pain around your waist, he came and tried to find the spot where she felt the pain, and said it was her psoas.  After class, too, he showed her how she had to be able to bend in the crease between the hip and leg and she would feel much better.  I think that's a big part of my problem, too.  So I will stretch my psoas every day, along with my hamstrings and tight glutes.  I always feel this pinch, too.

Even though I thought I looked terrible, class was fun and I didn't make any major mistakes, aside from not looking as graceful and happy as I would like to appear while working hard at dancing well.  Put a smile on your face, my other teacher always says.

Some class moves:
1. Plies and releves facing barre.
2. Tendu front, plie, tendu inside leg 2x; tendu side, plie, tendu inside leg 2x, etc.
3. Two tendus front, 3 side, two back, 3 side, plie passe leg go of the barre and balance.  (My arms just don't want to stay solid and I tilt.)
4. Pas de chevals and enveloppes.
5. Tendus with plies, tendus en croix, tendus side, 1st 1st 5th, 5th, 5th.
6. Pique front 2x, 2x faster piques, two degages, balancoire; repeat en croix.
7. Plie releve cou de pied, releve passe, releve attitude, stretch to arabesque and swing to front.  All this while balancing.
7. Developpes ecarte and efface, penche, back to arabesque, balance.
8. Ronde jambes with plie, passe to arabesque; reverse.
9. Port de bras circular, front, back.
10. Frappes en croix, 1x, 2x, 3x frappes.
11. Beats.
12. Grand battements 2x front, 1 side, 2x faster side, 2x back, 1x side, soutenu to other side.


Center:
1. One tendu croise, 4 tendus side, 2 tendus side, side, 2 degages, side, side, pirouette from 5th position to 4th, pirouettes.
2. Adagio developpe seconde 2x ronde jambe, promenade dehors in seconde, swing leg to arabesque, tendu. (Trick here is to lift leg a little higher for better leverage, if you can!)
3. Pirouettes from 5th, pas de bourre, pirouettes en dedans, attitude pirouette extend to arabesque, plie pas de bourre, inside pique turn
4. Jumps, changements, with echappes and pirouettes.
5. Glissade assemble, sissonne, faille, glissade assemble, sissonnes seconde, pas de basque, pirouettes.
6. Allegro: Bourres to pirouettes to fouette turns. 
STRETCH-

I don't know that it is wise at an older age to have more than one class.  The advantage would be that you could work your rotation, which sports doesn't do, but strengthwise, I find the gym better training, which this afternoon's friend also said, that you need to find ways to work on yourself so you can look better when you are dancing.

One thing I did notice tonight was that I am beginning to feel my entire back, due to extensive Pilates training this month.  I thought that Pilates would help my stiff hip joints, but it is much more than that -- it teaches you to be aware of your entire back, the carriage of your arms, your neck, as well as your pelvis. Really, for me, if I could maintain a better integrity in my turnout, I think the pelvic tilt problem would be solved.  I really believe that most problems in ballet are due to incorrect turnout, which is so foreign to life.

No matter what, though, I will always love ballet, as I told these two girls in the dressing room who were talking about hip hop and jazz.  It may not love me, but as they say, it is sometimes more important to love than to be loved...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wednesday

Survival of the fittest, and who is the prettiest at the gym.  Just finished Pilates and my swim, sharing a lane with an 82-year-old woman!  Pilates weight series breakdown:

1.  Sit on Swiss ball, holding weights in hands, lift arms straight up, so you are in balled 2nd position.  Hold.
2.  Hold weights at sides with elbows bent, lift arms at right angles up to shoulders and down to sides.  Hold at top and pulse.
3.  Hold arms at sides, elbows bent, lift arms up and down, making W shapes.
4.  Hold arms at right angles and squeeze elbows together.
5.  Incline slightly with straight back, bend and straight arms behind you.  Change wrist positions and pulse; with straight arms, try to bring hands together behind you.
6.  Kneeling, walk over the ball until you reach plank position, bend knees so you are moving the ball, then do the same with straight legs.  Then do pushups.

There is so much rivalry in our species, I find.  I personally am happy when I see someone achieve something, not jealous, because it means we have all gone one step further.  People will always try to tear you down, psychologically and physically and those who set tracks away from the norm will always be criticized.  I say, do what you feel because, as Mother Theresa said, it's between you and God, not between you and the other person...

My ballet class was cancelled!  So, I just walked around the 'hood and walked 2 miles home, stopping at various places, a boutique, a running store, the gym, and the grocer.  I had an interesting conversation with the boutique owner about shopping and style.  She could relate to my finances and said that she always plans her wardrobe and does not shop impulsively like many do.  I realized how everybody is pressured in our society to buy and we actually feel bad when we don't or can't buy something.  It makes us feel inferior somehow...

I stopped at a dog school on the way home where I trained my last dog and said hi to my dog's trainer and watched the intermediate agility class.  It was so nice to see a huge German Shepherd sitting peacefully on the floor, biscuit placed on paw by owner but not touching it until the owner said okay.  The dog just looked into his mistress' eyes and seemed to smile.  Clever, good dog.

Walking around, I realized how much fun it is just to do ordinary things and be a part of my community. No pretenses, just being myself.  The night air was crisp as I headed home alone, just me and the deep blue sky, powered by electrolyte candy from the running store...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Gray Tuesday

Da da da da, da da da da da da, da da da, da, da da da da...The last cool down...walk forward, lunge, port de bras dehors and then walk, lunge, port de bras dedans...piques with soutenus, chainnes...point croise with left foot, step developpe seconde, pas de bourre en tournant, chasse, releve fouette arabesque, faille, developpe devant, sou sou, coupe arabesque fondu, rotation to other side.  Fouette turns...we just kept doing them over and over and I see how I can't stand on my left leg because my thigh gives out and also I move my hip too soon instead of holding it back.  There was a young girl in class who did them perfectly, and you could see all her muscles, too.  On the other hand, I kept getting around and my arms were working properly!

My tendus stink.  My legs are mushy, like the teacher yesterday said, and because I don't use my thighs, I am getting football player muscles from squeezing in the wrong places.  I can't point my feet because I am not holding my leg muscles, I realized today.  Okay, maybe I need to lighten up a little bit, but, starting late like I did, I am always afraid I'm not keeping up with the others and I can't imagine not dancing...so I feel frustrated a lot, but I'm still happy, too.  Oh, the life of a dancer!  Sometimes I wonder how they do it...

Now that I am constantly at the gym (going there now), I am noticing how muscles on people's bodies in class are working...at the cool down, I watched the backs of all the other dancers to see how they worked their trapezius muscles.  Maybe the world is not ready for my analytical approach, but it feels good to dance right...now to relax in the pool...listening to the rehearsal music here, I wish I could keep dancing, though.  Well, there is always the basement in my building...

Hate to be so negative, but that's how I feel when I don't do as well as I know I can.  There is something inside of me that always prevents me from letting go of my gut feelings.  Oh, well...I didn't swim today because I just went out and enjoyed the warm day and did a little shopping and then I went to the bookstore and then Pilates class.  Pilates class has been amazing for me.  I like it better than yoga now:

1.  Lie on floor, knees bent and feet on mat, raise arms over your head and towards the opposite wall, bring arms down, repeat.  Next, bring head and shoulders off floor, arms hovering, hold and breathe.
2.  Make pelvic imprints, then raise hips off the floor and roll down one vertebrae at a time.
3.  Take your magic circle and put your foot against it, stretch hamstring, point and flex toes.  Pull leg as far as you can toward your face, put circle down and make leg circles.  Bring head and shoulders off floor and raise lower leg up an inch, pulse top leg.
4.  Place magic circle between your ankles, legs up in table-top, do 100s.
5.  Do oblique crunches; roll down to sit bones and move arms side to side.  Take magic circle between arms, palms pressing in, and squeeze; move torso sideways and squeeze the circle.
6.  Do scissor legs.
7.  Place magic circle inside knees, squeeze thighs together, after rising to bridge pose.  Then move hips up and down and squeeze circle at top.  Repeat with legs inside the circle and squeeze thighs out.
8.  Lie on stomach, forehead resting on hands, raise torso up and hold.  Put arms at sides and raise torso. Do the swan pose, pushing arms into the floor and rising up as high as you can; then do the swim arms.
9.  Kneel on mat with one knee, arm down on yoga block, raise opposite leg and do pulses, circles.
10.  Get on back and do the teaser.
11.  Stand up and roll arms down to plank, do pushups.
12.  Stand up and place magic circle between ankles and standing on one leg, squeeze the circle with the other leg; move circle to front, squeeze foot in, move to back and repeat.
13.  Standing up, put circle on hip and squeeze into hip with arm, elbow bent.  Raise circle above head and squeeze arms together.
14.  Put circle down and do Pilates releve.


The exercises are endless, but they all focus on using the core muscles to maintain body stability while moving the appendages against your powerhouse.  Then I went in the sauna for a while and let my muscles stretch, something a Pilates teacher told me, to just stretch and let your body do what it needs and not force the stretch.  Then I went home and watched Natalie Portman on the David Letterman show, wearing a very pretty yellow ruffled dress.  A lot of people are criticizing this movie as an inaccurate portrayal of ballet life.  She was very diplomatic on the show and just talked about how she prepared her body and losing 20 pounds and how there were a lot of professional dancers in the movie.  I think the movie sets a kind of stereotype of a dancer from the old school, where everybody starved, but I don't think it is cut-throat like she describes it.  There will always be jealousy in life, at the gym, too, but there is also this camaraderie among dancers that I enjoy.

There is nothing like the dance world.  I love the gym, but the reason I work out is to be a better dancer.  Today in class when we did fouette turns over and over, I was surprised that I was able to keep on going.  It is because I work out and I'm getting stronger.  Now, if I could only feel as comfortable dancing as I do at the gym, if that's possible...

Monday, January 24, 2011

Monday Morning

Well, I finished Pilates and my swim.  I was tired after Pilates but I just made myself do it, as my pointe teacher always says.  Now I have a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment that comes with effort.  My favorite teacher led the Pilates class and we worked with magic circles and I tried today to focus on my shoulders.  I noticed that when I placed the red Pilates ball under my neck how stiff my neck was, which is probably why I can't keep my shoulders settled.  So, in ballet class, which is coming up, I will really try to use my head, as one teacher always used to say.  I did not realize how important this is until I played with the ball today.  That is what I like about the gym; I get to experiment with my body and see what works and what doesn't.  In ballet class, you are not always permitted that luxury of indulgence in yourself...

The hardest part of Pilates today was the planks from a prone position and the side work:  kneeling on one leg, we did leg lifts with the free leg, leg circles, and pulses and my side was burning.  I think that working the sides, or obliques, is often overlooked and with this side motion, ballet is very hard, especially to do attitudes and arabesques without lifting the hips.  I am sure the teacher will grill me on this shortly, but I would rather get grilled and get better...

So the teacher came up to me again and said I wasn't using my leg muscles.  She said when she was a student they told her to pretend she was squeezing a newspaper between her thighs and then she commented to the all girls' class that we tend to get mushy in our thighs.  Then in center when I was having trouble standing up straight, she said, that is why she is making me engage my thighs.  Well, at barre also, she told me I was late with the rhythm.  As for plies, she said they were better, except when I moved back up, I was still releasing my back.

She also said how important it is to really use the floor.  We move in ballet from our feet because we also have to balance, she said, not with our hips, like that other kind of dancing...

The center was very dancey again, with tendus and degages and pirouettes.  Then we did an adagio where we did degage ronde jambes with pirouettes en dedans and we also did tour de finis, and she said to try to throw in a double for the last one.  The allegro was nice, too, chasse pas de bourre glissade grand jete, pique third arabesque to fouette back, chasse pas de bourre glissade grand jete.  A simple class but one requiring structure and attention to detail...

Yoga class at the gym was very relaxing after all the day's activities.  I stood next to an amazing girl who who so flexible, she just could curl her back into a ball and bend backwards and touch her head to the floor, in the camel pose.  I aced the others with the lotus position and then, placing my arms between my crossed legs, trying to touch my face with my hands like a happy baby.  "Good," the instructor said.

I finally figured out how to set up the new digital box I got in the mail, so now I will watch TV and catch up on my mail and other "business" things.  I loved working out all day, though.  Even a dreary day is fun when you can spend it doing the things you love.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Birthday Sunday

"Keep your chin up...big arms," the swim instructor said as I am winding up my day with a good swim.  My arms are getting better, I think, so I don't get so tired going through the water.  Yesterday at pointe class I practiced my arm positions while waiting for my group to dance.  Everything in ballet is important and execution is everything.

Today the teacher said to us after class that when you don't like something it is important to change your energy and think of something good about a bad situation.  Just like yesterday's teacher said, you are the one who thinks you can't do something.  Your mind is talking to you so that you hear these voices telling you you'll never make it, so you have to trick your mind...

It couldn't have been a nicer day, lots of sun and pretty snow, and a little warmer in the afternoon after I left the dance school.  I was presented with a water bottle for my birthday and I brought cake and jam for everyone to eat and we sat around for a while and chatted and also discussed pointe shoes -- the other girl in class had some new Freeds and the teacher was explaining how to darn the toes to create a larger balance area and all the things that ballerinas do to prepare their shoes.  I am thinking now maybe I should get some Freeds.  I wanted to shop for them today for my birthday but my sister told me not to go anywhere because of the Bears game traffic.

The barre flowed nicely today.  Tendus with plies and releves, swing the legs, ronde jambes with fondus and balances; beats, balance in passe; developpes in all directions.  I stood on the right side of the barre today to see if my working leg was straight in arabesque and remembered the teacher's comments about using the muscles in the mid-back to create the arabesque line.

Then in center we did tendus to the side, tendu front, pirouettes in 5th to pirouettes in 4th.  We kept on doing these over and over and I really tried to have the correct form, although I still felt I could have looked more natural!  This was the whole point of doing them so many times, to get comfortable and not make such a fuss.  Students do these all the time in class and you need to learn this in order to advance in class, the teacher said.  It's true, there are a lot of good students and if you don't work, you won't be able to keep up, so you have to really try and push yourself to do things you might not like.  I prefer adagio and other movements and don't really relish pirouettes, but they must be learned.  They really are pretty, too.

We did a lot of pirouettes in class and throughout the class I tried not to sit and to stand on my supporting side, like I was taught yesterday.  I tried to make my arms look nice, too.  The teacher said that it isn't any harder to do something right and it's actually easier, when we did an adagio in center:  developpe croise to seconde to arabesque back to seconde, ronde jambes en l'air, coupe pas de bourre.  I believe this, too.

We did a lot of jumps without a break, which made me just tired enough to benefit my endurance.  This teacher understands about pacing, I thought and gives us exercises that achieve a result so that your body can build on your previous level.  It is important not to get discouraged, though, and he is easygoing enough that you feel like you can move without feeling restricted.  Strict and yet not confining, and this makes you want to try harder and he is always so encouraging and supportive, so it's okay not to be perfect.

The jumps were 16 changements, then 2 changements, 2 echappes, pirouettes (!) from echappe 4th.  Later, when giving the lessson after regular class, the teacher made his student keep on going, saying, "I know you're tired," and this is very smart, I thought, to just keep doing it over and over until your mind finally gives up and your body takes over.  Then it was changements with sissonnes and I completely lost my strength and couldn't point my feet anymore, but I finished the steps.  Then we stretched.

Now I am ready to tackle the week -- the Bears lost, by the way -- after a very nice birthday Sunday.  I love birthdays, I love Sundays, and I loved ballet class today -- all ready to tackle the week...