About Me

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Saturday at Puppy School

Yasir's first puppy class: sit, down, stand, a/k/a the doggie pushups.  Place treat by nose and bring back behiind head, which forces puppy to sit, then coax him down using your bait until he is "down."  Stand we did not cover today.  Mainly, the trainer said never to force puppy to do something, otherwise he will never come to you because if you are mean to him, you will not be worth returning to.  But, also remember who's boss, and your dog will try to assume this role if you don't and then you will have a monster.  I think, from today's lesson, since everyone adores puppies and you just want to cuddle them all day, after your 15 minute session with him every few times a day, then you can reward him by hugs and kisses...and when he is bad, never be mean or put him in a crate for punishment because these are also negative things.  Just say, "ah ah ah ah," not NO! and you will have a calm, happy puppy.

It was a windy bleak day as I arrived early to puppy school with my shivering puppy but soon he was playing and even learned to calm down, which is reinforced after a "go play" session with taking his collar and saying "Gotcha" and then proceeding to stroke his ears and paws and rewarding him with a treat after he has learned to "settle."  Must learn terminology...

I was really impressed with Yasir's travel savvy on the train and bus today.  He is a great little traveler and mostly slept, enjoying the warmth inside, even with all the young people going to town for the St. Patrick's Day parade, wearing green gloves and green beads and generally carousing in the subway.  Yasir didn't bat an eye, he was so cool.  So now he is home with his stuffed toys and I am headed to the gym for a swim, I think...

I thought not, after going outside in the chilly wind, so I bought some groceries and went home.  I am just resting today and feel a little restless as a result, but I will do it all again tomorrow.  Meanwhile, there is me and Yasir and quality time together.

Friday, March 11, 2011


It was nice to be outside with Yasir all morning.  The sun was shining and we walked all around the neighborhood, stopping at the pet store again for more chewies.  Then I went to Pilates class and worked on small movements, trying to articulate my joints in all the tight places and afterwards I fell asleep in the sauna after my swim.  Then I went home to fix lunch and to take Yasir to the vet for more shots.  He is really a very good puppy and gets along well with everybody, except for his nipping me, but he will be going to puppy school tomorrow and they won't let him get away with that there.  I am too nice to him, I think.

So with Yasir chewing his treats, I was ready to leave him for ballet class at Joffrey Academy.  I really worked on correct technique and turnout, trying to look like a real dancer, not just someone going through the movements incorrectly.  Class was great, except for the beats we did while jumping; I still have trouble articulating my feet and with beats, my flaws show even more.  I think I need to just jump it out because some movements are learned better by just doing it and then polishing it later after you get the feeling of the movement.  I won't be going to class tomorrow because I will be taking Yasir to school, but that will be a learning experience for me, too.  Maybe all the obedience will even help with my dancing.

Dance class:
Same barre, getting easier, and I ate my tuna today (fish, fish).  Brain food.  Eat fish, teacher says...
Center was lovely, with tendu plies and pirouettes; adagio; same combinations as before.  So when I return Sunday, maybe work on the jumps.  There is always the basement tomorrow...

Late Thursday

and I am watching Craig Ferguson with my puppy.  What a day, moving more things out of storage and cleaning my apartment, only to have a neighbor complain that the cleaners I was using were too strong -- and to think this same person (I saw her sneaking down the hall) complained about a doggy smell coming from my apartment when I had a dog before.  I am so tired of people who complain when you have pets.  I know for a fact that this woman fears animals because she always crouches away in fear when she sees one.  Well, a cat breeder once told me that it is nobody's business whether you have a pet or not and I am not going to let people like this create a negative environment for me or my new pet, so there!

That said, the business of the day done, I went to a late ballet class with adults with similar problems who come to adult classes to unwind and have fun, like an architect I commiserated with.  He's not much of a dancer, kind of shy, but he's quite smart.  This is how I used to be until I met some dancers who taught me "not to be afraid of life" as one girl put it.  Yes, dancers must be bold to survive, as I read in a recent danceer's magazine article...

Then, tired as I was, I swam as a basketball game was going on in the court, which is visible from the pool.  I watched the players and coaches and they watched me swim, sort of, and I realized that, as much as I swim, I am nowhere at the level that they are in terms of hard work and professionalism.  As they watched me get my tired self across the water, they probably thought, oh, poor gym patron.  This made me keep going.  As a teacher said to another student in a recent class, you are too soft.  It's true.  Even a mother I met in another class said the same thing, that people in general are too soft.

That is why I love my dog.  He will never be "soft" and he tests me every day to see if I am tough enough to control his wicked puppy ways.  I have learned to love it, the animal side...

A lot of "dancers" in the adult class (one teacher I had always called his students "dancers") remarked how nice the combinations were in tonight's class:

1. Demi-plies, plies, demi-toe balances.
2. Tendus in 1st position, tendus with plies repeat.
3. Degage soutenu to next position, balance in passe.
4. Ronde jambes with balancoire.
5. Degages with pirouettes en dehors and en dedans at barre.
6. Frappes with fondu efface beats; repeat on demi-toe.
7. Fondus with developpes.
8. Grand battements.
1. Tendu croise, ronde jambe with other leg to temps lie. Balance, balance, pique arabesque, releve developpe efface, chasse pas de bourre, pirouette en dedans with detourne, pose.
2. Adagio: Face back croise, chasse with high arms, turn to face front step step arabesque, fondu chasse pas de bourre, step attitude, sway arms, extend leg to pique arabesque promenade, chasse circular port de bras, step attitude to passe to pique arabesque promenade, detourne, chasse to beginning pose.
3. Jumps 1st 5th, 2nd releve, 2nd, pas de bourre.
4. Jete coupe assemble both sides, glissade jete 3x to coupe assemble changement, jete assemble.

The teacher corrected my arm coordination a few times as well as not turning out from behind with my arms and legs behind my shoulders...time to sleep and take Yasir to the vet bright and early, and then Pilates!  Also, a job interview coming up soon...still wishing I could apply my many talents and gifts to a purpose, but I much prefer this life of a starving artist.  As a coworker once said when designing a document on the computer, I'm an artist, it must be pretty...he was actually a rock musician who had a day job. So, time to dream some more...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ash Wednesday

Here I am back again, after taking a nice, serious ballet class on Tuesday with some dancers who were using the class as an audition. I, too, felt competitive and did my best. After working out at the gym, I looked in good shape and felt right at home with this group. I tried to really dance the steps and move, like my other teacher said, and the more I tried to use artistry, the better I used my technique as well. Another highlight of the day was a good yoga class, where I really tried to feel grounded. It's good to have good teachers like this who see your flaws and try to help you. Yasir is getting bigger and stronger, too, and we have been walking more and this weekend I plan to start him in a puppy class!
Whew, went to my favorite Pilates class with Swiss balls and weights, asking the teacher how to fix my shoulders because my back muscles are weak, and she said, yes, women usually have weak back muscles. Then to the pool workout, now back to puppy!

Well, after Pilates and pool workout, you would think I would look super in class, but I'm still no match against the younger girls who have been dancing from birth.  While I struggle to point my toes, watching them do it so effortlessly and naturally puts me to shame.  However, though I was never physically a beauty, I still shape my movements better, which is why I am frustrated because if I could get a better technique, I could really do what I feel.  So, off to class I go.  As the teacher told a new student, come back tomorrow, and the next day and if you come every day, you will learn to dance!  This teacher is such a dancer, and I feel how dancers exist to dance and they dance to express themselves, like other people talk to each other, and so on...but it is all such fun.

1. Stretches away from the barre, pull away barre, bend down, rise; pull away from barre, stretching back.
2. Plies with fondu flex foot.
3. Tendus with plie a la seconde to passe balance.
4. Degages en croix, pushing toes into 5th position.  Teacher said you are doing this, clop, clop, I could do this all day but you are not using your muscles...
5. Ronde jambes with battement passe arabesque, whereupon teacher said she would leave class if combinations were not done right.  She told us a story about her days in class where the teacher would take a student by the hair and push her across the floor in anger for doing a step wrong...
6. Frappes en croix with pas de cheval beats.
7. Fondus with developpes and port de bras.
8. Grand battements, swinging leg through 1st position.
1. Tendu passe pirouette combination.
2. Balance combination with pirouettes en dedans.  I noticed how it was hard for me to do these because I could not plie out of the turn, partly because of faulty alignment and "sticking out."
3. Changements with echappes beat trois.
4. Pique turns with soutenus.  The teacher said, you girls who can't turn, pique passe in diagonal to me...

Then I went home and took out Yasir but even after our walk around the block in the misty rain, he is still hyper and carrying on.  I hope the neighbors don't complain...he is just getting to be a bundle of energy.  Another thing, the management frowns on me when I carry him in the passenger elevators, yet everyone else does the same thing with no slack.  I guess I am just too sensitive.  It is really nice to come home to puppy, though, even with all his faults.  I am too perfectionist, too!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Is it really only Monday?

Yasir continues to impress me with his poise and manners.  He waits quietly for me by the door when I come home and does not bark hardly at all, except when he is excited by too much playing or get frustrated when I don't let him bite me or jump on me, two bad puppy habits that, although they may be cute now, will not be so cute when he gets his real teeth and becomes bigger.  So, I am trying to discipline him, although it would be nice for him to go to puppy kindergarten, if it wasn't so expensive.  I am looking into other places, perhaps in the suburbs, that might be cheaper...

So after spending the morning at home attending to matters and playing with Yasir, we ventured out and he just wanted to keep walking, so we went for a longer walk and visited a pet-friendly luggage shop, where the salesgirl had fun giving Yasir biscuits if he sat for her.  "He knows how to sit," she said, and I said, yes, I had been teaching him the sit command.  She reminded me not to spoil him, cute as he is and said he should work for his treats.  I think I will have to stop letting Yasir run free, too, since he is starting to run off further and is no longer to be trusted on the busy streets until he is old enough to go to a dog park that is confined by fences.  I once read a book on pointers that said you must have a 6-foot high fence around your property in order to keep a dog like this, and now I can see why...

Then we went home and puppy soon fell fast asleep from his long walk, so I went to ballet class and then headed to the gym for Pilates and yoga afterward.  Now I am home and Yasir greeted me at the door, stretching in a downward dog, ha, ha, still sleepy.  I took him out and around the block and now he is tearing into his toys again...

Ballet class:
1. Stretches pulling away from the barre, degage forward, stretch away.  Good for the back...
2. Tendu flex en croix.
3. Tendus in 5th, degages 1st 5th 5th.
4. Ronde jambes with developpe passe penche.
5. Ronde jambes en l'air with beats.
6. Frappes en croix with fondu frappes to side, beats.
7. Developpes en croix.
8. Grand battements with passe fondus.
1. Tendus to side with passe releve, then pirouettes.
2. Balance balance pique arabesque pirouettes, developpe ecarte, chasse fouette fondu.
3. Jumps changements, echappes with trois beats.
4. Lunge glissade grande jete; releve attitude cambre.
Much of the class today was spent on corrections.  Hips square, stand up straight, pull up legs, use the feet, hold the arms.  When I was told to stand up straight, I felt like I was leaning backwards, but your torso must be held.
Later in yoga class the substitute teacher (the regular dancer-teacher is getting ready for a performance) said to think of the bottom from the waist down grounding into the floor and the torso being free and expansive and this would alleviate much of your lower back pain.  Also, the yoga teacher said to really sink the feet into the floor and pull up the thighs, just like in ballet.  Also, in triangle pose, he came up to me to ensure that my hips were held forward to get a better stretch and that the inside of the legs should be held up, just like if someone was underneath you and your legs would open like the pages of a book.  Interesting analogies and very helpful to me...
Pilates class was horrible -- I had no energy after getting there straight from ballet class.  I realize how important it is to wind down and stretch after a ballet class; otherwise, your muscles are being really burned.  I didn't realize that Pilates would be before yoga because yoga after dance class is okay -- it is relaxing while Pilates is not.  Pilates is about strength, which might come to me eventually, but doing planks and pushups after a dance class did not feel good...although I'm sure my body will thank me tomorrow.  Afterward, I asked the teacher if it is better to do a little bit and not push yourself if you don't have the strength you might have on a better day and she said, yes, do what your body will allow.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sunday with puppy

Puppy wants my constant attention, but that's okay.  It's so nice to hold him and share his toys while he's young like this.  He is used to walking outside and is always eager to go.  It has been cold and I have to remember not to go far, just around the block, until he gets bigger.

So after the morning walk, I went to ballet class and had fun trying to look graceful.  I must say that my classes with Miss Dolores are making me more mindful of my posture and general appearance.  Also, after class I asked the teacher about this and he said you always have to think about rotation.  So, this is another concept to remember because I struggle to turn out my legs properly so they are "straight."

After a very careful barre (that is, I chose to be careful and not just get my legs up high and distort myself in general), we did some nice dancey steps in center and when I left the studio, I even had a glow on my face on this cold day.  Good things happen when you work hard, I thought.

I went to the pet store and got a huge bag of the dog food he was raised on, and some dog toothpaste and a new toy, a caterpillar.  I will take him with me so he can see all the toys but I wanted to get the food this time so he would have it.  Then I checked in on Yasir at home and he was just a little angel again.  I am so thankful for my friend's suggestion to come and go every few hours and also I have been reading books on how to raise puppies which say to have a playtime with puppy and always be positive.  We went outside again and everybody fussed over him a usual.

Then I went out again when it got dark, to go for a swim -- except since it was so cold, I just practiced leg kicks so I wouldn't go out with wet hair and get sick.  Better to swim during the day because it just gets too miserable at night.  It felt good to stretch my legs underwater and feel the pressure of the water align my legs -- it's hard to really feel this but, suspended in the water, I have a better sense of this correct alignment.  I always feel so free underwater, that is why I will go even for a short time on a cold day.

Now I am home again with Yasir and he is really playing hard with his toys and barking a bit, but the books say not to fuss when he barks for attention.  I like the diversion tactic, too, getting his mind on another toy so he forgets about the barking.  The weather will be miserable for a while still, with more heavy rains coming, so maybe I will take Yasir on the bus this week while he is little so he can go to the pet store, see my former trainer, and just get used to travelling in a car.

Dance Class:
1. Tendu front, plie, tendu front, tendu side; tendu side, plie; repeat reverse. Tendu 1st 5th, 5th 5th, tendus en croix.
2. Degages 3x front, 2x side, 3x back; 3x front, 3x back, degages in 5th.
3. Ronde jambes with developpes.
4. Frappes front, side, front, side change, repeat back, repeat en croix, repeat double en croix, frappe efface, derrierre, balance cou de pied.
5. Passe, fondu front, coupe, developpe back, fondu ecarte, developpes ecarte.
6. Ronde jambe en l'air, chasse pas de bourre pirouettes en dehors and en dedans, chasse pas de bourre to barre, double ronde jambes on demi toe.
7. Battements with balancoire.
1. Tendu croise plie, tendu side, tendu croise back, pas de bourre, pirouettes.
2. Adagio developpes croise front, croise back, seconde to arabesque, chasse grand fouette, chasse pas de bourre, pirouettes, pique turns, chainnes.
3. Balance, balance, chasse pas de bourre pirouettes, pirouettes en dedans, chainnes.
4. Jumps: 1st 3x, 2nd 3x, 1st 5th 1st 5th, 5th 5th, 2nd 5th, changement.
5. Assemble, assemble, temps leve both sides, assemble assemble, jete, jete, glissade assemble.
6. Assemble assemble, ballonne coupe assemble.
7. Arabesque chasses, temps leve passe, arabesque glissade grand jete, pas de courru, assemble.