About Me

Saturday, March 5, 2011


Went to the vet with Yasir and he didn't want to leave, with all the attention.  They trimmed his nails and told me to start putting dog toothpaste on my fingers to work his gums, since he is teething and it would be irritating to brush.  He gained 3 lbs.! Then I left him to play and went to ballet school to Miss Dolores.

Miss Dolores is on my case.  You're too old to stop between movements, like if you were learning things for the first time, she said.  Dance is about movement, in my class you move.  Stretch your legs.  Don't stand with your hip up and leaning into the bar.  Stand on your leg.  Your body doesn't plie, only your legs. Stand up straight.  Better, Dorothy, now you have it, girl.  I really do appreciate all this, you know, because I want to do it right.  It was intermediate class with adults and children and towards the end the advanced teacher was watching me trying to feel what it's like to dance ballet.  Am I dancing ballet?  Yesterday I commented to a girl in class that though I may be in shape, I don't know how to dance.  So am I dancing? I would like to think so, whatever ballet may be.

Afterwards I wolfed down my roast beef sandwich with spinach and headed for the pool.  I am feeling comfortable in the water, as Michael Phelps would say.  It feels like home to me, even though I still have to warm up by walking around, forwards, backwards and sideways, until I feel warm.  A lot like dancing, lol!  Now to feel comfortable on the dance floor!

Workout done, I can spend the rest of the day playing with my puppy and maybe doing some more spring cleaning.  I want to be ready for the nice weather and just roll...

Dance Class
1. Stretches into the barre and away for the back.
2. Plies with stretches forward and back.
3. Tendu front, fondu flex foot, point, plie, en croix. Tendus in seconde, 1st 5th, 5th 5th.
4. Do same with degages.
5. Ronde jambes with passe extend.
6. Fondus with developpes.
7. Frappes en croix, seconde with point fondu, balance in cou de pied.
8. Battements en croix with balancoire.
1. Tendus croise devant and derriere, releve passe, tombe pas de bourre, pirouettes.
2. Balance front, back, pique arabesque, step developpe ecarte, turn developpe efface, chasse pas de bourre, pirouettes lunge.
3. Jumps changements with echappes pas de bourre, glissade assemble.
4. Jete, jete, assemble, assemble, temps de cuisse sissonne, glissade assemble.
5. Sissonne arabesque pas de bourre, temps de cuisse sissonne, assemble, assemble.
6. Arabesque temps leve, faille, glissade grand jete, glissade assemble.
Important Class corrections:  pick up leg using inner thigh.  Bring the thigh up.  Keep arms in front of body.  Don't stick out. Push the floor, don't hop in jumps (to me specifically), put a smile on your face, if the music feels good, show it; dancing is about movement; point the feet, stretch them out, like you are pushing the air; don't be late in the music; think!!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Rainy Friday and not much better weekend

When the weather is lousy, it is always good to work out.  On a nice day, it's hard to be indoors, so today was the perfect day to head to Pilates class, after taking Yasir out shopping a little.  We went to American Girl Place, a store that has beautiful dolls, and they let Yasir come in because he was in his stroller.  Now that he is small, I take him around this way, and he seems to like being in stores.  Of course, Bloomingdales and a few other stores let any size dog in, so we can always go there...

Pilates class was packed again and we went through the usual regime.  My rollups are getting more fluid, although I still get stuck in the waistline area, especially when I have to do the teaser.  My planks from a lying down on my stomach position are not happening yet, but when my waistline gets more supple, I think it might work.  Hard for me also is rolling up with my hands behind my head, where you can only use your abs to pull up.  I think it is a matter of shoulder stability, too.  Definitely have to get stronger arms, so I went swimming again, with the pool to myself again.  Then I took puppy out, and then it started raining again.

I like to be alone like this and just let my thoughts happen, like when I went to ballet class and was early, so I just lay down on a bench and stretched until the others came.  I thought of how silly it is to stress over things and make yourself crazy...then I got dressed for class, trying to get through the confusing combinations at barre of this very good dancer's class...

It was still pouring rain when I headed home and since I lost my umbrella, I got soaking wet but I'm used to it.  Tomorrow it is supposed to snow and then it will be icy.  Yasir, my puppy will not like it -- he did not much like the rain today, but he is so tiny that the weather is too rough for him and I have to hold him a lot, like a baby.  He is being very good, though, and being quiet when I am gone, but soon he will become more active...

Dance Class
1. Tendu front plie, front, side, tendu back plie and straighten, two tendus; repeat reverse.
2. Degages en croix, 3 front, 3 back, 2 side.
3. Ronde jambes with battement passe to arabesque.
4. Developpe fondu front, developpe front, back, side, balance in attitude.
5. Ronde jambes en l'air, extend seconde, pirouette, soutenu, ronde jambes on demi-toe.
6. Frappes front side, side front, back en croix, with pointed feet, double front, double back, double front, double side.
7. Battements en croix, 3 front, 3 back, 2x side.
1. Tendu plie front, back, glissade to pirouette, detourne with pirouette en dedans.
2. Adagio croise fondu front, pique balance attitude, developpe seconde, plie pique, fouette to arabesque, promenade, plie pas de bourre, attitude turn en dehors, plie pas de bourre en tournant.
3. Chasse pas de bourre pirouettes, detourne, pique turns, chasse pas de bourre pirouettes, detourne, inside pique turn, chainnes, pique arabesque balance.
4. Jumps 1st 1st, 2nd, 2nd, 5th, 5th, 1st, 5th 5th.
5. Jete temps leve right and left, assemble right and left, repeat with glissades.
6. Chasse arabesque, chasse arabesque, change directions, glissade grand jete, step assemble front.
7. Echappes with ballonne front, back, step assemble.
I am going to try this class again on Sunday and try to also be more specific with the steps.  Confusing as they are to me, they do teach you to think and this leads to more intricate footwork, with also develops technique by firing the muscles--I noticed in class tonight how I looked much straighter and my feet looked better because I was trying to articulate these steps...

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Thursday Workout

After taking Yasir to the park, I went to morning ballet class, where all the old crowd was.  I greeted the Russian pianist, telling her she looked as glamorous as ever.  She always dresses up for class and she takes regular yoga classes, too.  There were a lot of professional dancers there who sometimes make me feel inferior, but, surprisingly, I ignored them and danced away, so it went quite well.  Then I went to the gym right away for a swim, where I was alone in the pool and just let myself go.

I took Yasir to the beach today, meeting a fellow dancer who has two dogs who lives down the street.  All the dogs played together and Yasir had fun running through the sand.  I got home just in time for restorative yoga class, whew, ate a Luna bar, and stayed for a really grueling but great Pilates class.

Then I went to the grocery store and felt amazingly strong, carrying a 6-pack of diet coke with vitamins like it was nothing.  Yasir was a good boy when I got home, no noises from the hallway, and then we took a walk around the block, where I saw the doorman from my old building and I went inside his new building to show him my new puppy and a couple of girls gushed over him.  Details...

Barre was simple yet effective.  Afterwards I stretched with my theraband and noticed how my left side was bent inward.  Also later in yoga and Pilates I could feel how my hips went back and broke the line of my side.  In center, we did a nice adagio after a basic tendu combination with pirouettes.  The adagio had a promenade a la seconde which I did well after remembering one teacher say to look over the arm when doing arabesque promenade...then there were jumps such as sissonnes, assembles, jetes, beats.  We ended the class with menage jetes and then I stretched the pain away...

Sitting in a comfortable seated position, we closed our eyes and then moved our arms around.  Then we did the downward dog with cobra and lots of leg stretches.  At the end, we placed props under our backs and rested our legs against the wall.  The teacher told me to place the rolled over extra mat vertically along my back and I could feel how my sides were uneven.

No props, just us and the mat.  Started with rolls up and down our spine and bridge pose, moving feet alternately.  Then we raised one leg to the ceiling and raised it up and down while in bridge, keeping our hips square.  We did side stretches with rolling through the spine, and then lifted our legs up and stretched our hamstrings, and also did leg circles and oblique crunches. We lay on our sides and did leg lifts and circles.  Then we did the plank, holding for 60 seconds.  Just 20 more seconds, ladies...

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Wednesday at ballet school

After I downsized my storage space, I was so tired that I took a nap with my puppy.  When I woke up, my feet were again leading me out the door to ballet class.  Some people will find it hard to understand why I have this obsession, but after watching a PBS special about music featuring Carole King where she said that since she was a little girl, she just wanted to be around music, it is the same with me and dancing.  I will always want to dance, even though I am not a little girl who is attending her first ballet class.

But this is the way I feel every time I go to class, which is why it irritates me when these teen girls go to class and carry on while I am "trying to stand up straight." The teacher said I looked so twisted in class,  but she did give me credit for trying.  I chatted with her after class and commented that I do not use my feet well and engaging the feet exercises your entire leg in a better way, and she said, "You sure don't.  You have such pretty feet." Like she said to a young girl in class, you have some major work to do on your body.  I can see..

I don't know if it was the pain of hauling truckloads of stuff in the storage building or because perhaps all the gym work is making me work contrary to the principles of ballet.  Ballet is a strict discipline that trains the muscles a certain way, and I remember the days when this is all I did for exercise, just go to ballet class once, twice, even three times a day.  Being in class was when I felt truly alive.

Now that I am older, my vanity still has not changed, which is why I work out, but also because it invigorates me.  Going to the supermarket today, I chose to buy a mango, bananas, strawberries, Greek yogurt, and some protein bars and avoided the cakes, pizza, and all the items that "normal" people want to eat. Subconsciously I must have thought of maintaining my body and finding the foods that would feed my muscles and joints.

But today, since it was a cold day, I stayed home, which I am doing a lot because of puppy, but I feel again like I did in the simple days when I would be home, go to ballet, and then go home again. There is an inner peace from this type of discipline and working on training my body for dance. I love it!

1. Stretches before plies: stand back to barre, stretch away from the barre, arching back, then bend down with flat back, scoop up.
2. Facing barre, push away from barre into squat, rise up to demi-toe, push into barre.
3. Second position, port de bras sideways, then bend one knee and crouch all the way down, shifting side to side.
4. Plies with arms, stretch parallel foward and back.
5. Tendus front, back, side, side, balance in sou sou.
6. Degages front with plies, back with plies, side...only move the legs, nothing else...
7. Ronde jambes slow, 3x fast, developpe front, passe, back, penche, balance in attitude, extend to arabesque.
8. Frappes doubles point tendu, ronde jambes side.
9. Fondu with developpes, hold in seconde.
10. Grand battements: passe, fondu battement, straight battement, developpe battement.
1. Tendus to side, passe, pirouettes.
2. Passe hold, pirouettes.
3. Passe croise, pirouettes en dedans.
4. Changements, sissonne, temps de cuisse, assembles with quatre beats.
5. Faille, assemble, coupe sissonne developpe, assemble.
Lots of jumps in this intermediate class!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Tuesday -- another good day

I think Yasir is starting to get used to me leaving him although he still loves it when I hold him and "share" his toys.  We just sit on the sofa and I do little puppet things with his stuffed birds and the new pale blue ice cream cone stuffed toy I got for him at the dog show.  He is also making quite a hit in the neighborhood with the other dogs and people and so far he is being a very good puppy.  He is even understanding the sit command.

As for me, it was a pretty active day, too.  I moved some more things in storage after a morning ballet class.  I dread tomorrow because I will be downsizing storage lockers and will be stuck there in the morning until everything is tidy.  But downsize I must...

Class was great.  There were a few center combinations that the teacher made us do faster, like something in a waltz tempo, and I just though one, one, one instead of one, two, three, trying to see the whole picture more, as a Joffrey Academy girl told me last week, and trying to find the "lines" of the combinations instead of breaking them into pieces.  Also, my new beige warmup top emphasizes my arms and so lately I have been working them more, which always looks nice.  Good arms are so underrated in dancing, it seems.  The first center combination had some tricky "detours" and I commented to the teacher after class that I still don't know which way to go, but at least I don't bump into the other dancers so much anymore!

I got home and took Yasir for a walk to Bloomingdales, which is pet friendly, and then I had enough time to get to yoga class, a very slow, soothing one, and then I had enough energy for a swim, which was great, since I haven't had a chance to swim much lately.  A good, full day, and now I am playing with Yasir's toys again.

Barre as usual, impossible leg stretches with opposite hand raising opposite leg...splits, extreme barre...I need to really work on my feet because I am not using my leg if I don't point my foot, a former teacher of mine used to say.  Maybe I need to do tendus around the apartment, as Balanchine said about cooking soup and doing tendus.
Center: (after the standard tendu combination with port de bras)
1. Waltz in line, soutenu, developpe a la seconde, pas de basques in a circle, pas de bourre or step over, releve developpe arabesque going back, soutenu, waltz in line, etc...
2. Pique turns with chainnes, very fast.

Monday, February 28, 2011


Back to the old grind for me...today I went to Pilates after a trip to the dentist.  I was able to take Yasir down the street to the park but once there, a fierce wind forced us back, in time for Pilates -- what a crowd!  It was hard to get back to class after such a relaxing weekend with puppy, but I was glad I got there.  Afterward, I felt very weak and so I went to get lunch and walk puppy again.  Then I went to ballet class, and the teacher said, Dorothy, where have you been?  It was good to dance again, too.

Then I went to the gym and walked underwater front, back and sideways and something made me get out of the pool and head to yoga class.  Yoga was great, even though I was by now really tired, and it turned out to be the last class with my favorite teacher  for a while, since he is a dancer and will be getting ready for a performance.

Now I am home again with my restless puppy, but he has been a good boy, quiet and well behaved.  It turned out to be a very good day!

Ballet Class:
1. Plies with parallel stretch forward.  Stretch away from barre, stand on toes and lean forward.  Elbows bent into barre a bit.  Balance in passe.
2. Tendus 1st, plie; degages with plies.  Brush the floor and extend the toes like you are pushing the air away -- it feels good to do this!
3. Ronde jambes with plies and arms.  Fondu front, passe, arabesque, penche, balance in attitude.
4. Frappes with pointed toe, then on demi-toe.
5. Ronde jambes en l'air without moving the thigh.  Just knee action.  Also, try to move the leg while keeping hips still.  Think of moving out, not up.
6. Fondu developpes.
7. Grand battements with balancoire.
1. Tendus to side, passe balance, pirouettes to lunge, to 5th position. Then pique to sou-sou and pirouttes.
2. 4x changements, sissonnes side, assembles, quatres, brises.
3. Sissonne arabesque, pas de bourre, sissonnes side, assembles.
4. Ballotte, ballotte, assemble a la seconde, glissade jete jete assemble.
5. Tour de finis.

Yoga class was lots of downward dogs, upward dogs, chair pose with forward stretches; triangle pose, reverse triangle.  Warriors, step wide sideways and bring head down to floor, bending arms back.  Pick up straight leg and move to side, looking opposite way, bow to leg and raise up and hold.  Stretch leg forward, other leg bent or in lotus, with binding.  Inversions, shoulder stand, legs against wall, bend knees, lift one leg up.  Corpse pose.

Pilates was lots of squeezing legs with magic circle, roll-ups, roll down and hold; hamstring stretches with magic circle.  Hold leg up and lift bottom leg one inch off the floor, feel the stomach burn.  Round back into a "C."  Lie on stomach and hover with chest. Planks with pushups.  Stand up, roll down, releve.

Sunday Reflections

Just living today.  No workout, except I walked endless blocks to the dog show because I love the neighborhood around McCormick Place.  It was once the social hub of Chicago, around Prairie Street, and I often walk there and feel ghostly presences and others have felt the same.  Weird.  I even have recurring dreams of seeing children playing there and I can see them but they can't see me.  I should write a short story about it, it would be fun.

I loved seeing the show dogs work.  They are just dogs but they have a certain look, like being celebrities, so they are not completely relaxed when in the show ring.  They work and try to get things right and win for their owners.  Very fascinating.  I got some treats for my puppy and walked around some more and, that's it!