About Me

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Spring is Coming...

I love the spring.  I took two ballet classes today and took Yasir to the beach on this warm day.  He is really coming along, and aside from occasional barking and biting bouts, he is really being a surprisingly angelic dog...

So this morning I went to advanced class because I have to use up my class card and I asked the teacher if this class would be okay for me and he said, "Probably," but told me to stay out of the way of the other professional, stronger dancers.  A sort of compliment...

Everyone in class looked so fit and moved so well.  We really moved a lot, which is why I like advanced classes, because there is more dancing.  But, you have to work.  The barre was a good warmup for what was to come, which were a lot of structured movements that flowed together.  The teacher peppered the class with comments and corrections, such as using the back, the supporting side, and spotting for the rhythm and momentum of the turns.

Then I went to another class in the evening, except my favorite classical teacher wasn't there and we had a sub, but it was a really worthwhile class that made me realize that a good working dancer really works;  that is, the teacher told us to stretch out the steps and really enjoy the movements.  He came up to me and corrected my torso, saying there is so much more space there to use.  Of course, he is right, there is no good in slumping.  Paradoxically, stretching and elongating would seem to be counter to using the muscles, but, as another teacher said, you need to breathe.  So when you are balanced and in the most vulnerable positions, you can actually still be strong.  And, it looks so much better.

Now I feel like a teenager, with a young body that will bend and move, after a lot of hard work!  But, this is what is required of a dancer, and anything less is just too mediocre.

You probably wonder where is the description to these classes.  Well, I am so sore this week from taking too many classes, but I like it.  Look out...I took another advanced class at Lou Conte Dance Studio this morning and the others wanted me to stand in front and lead them!  It was during tendu croise, plie, devant and derrierre, then tendus ecarte, step attitude promenade extend fondu arabesque pas de bourre en tournant, chass forward pirouette en dedans ending in arabesque plie, to chasse front, pirouettes en dehors, pirouettes a la seconde, pull in to more pirouettes.  Legs, legs, legs, I thought...

For jumps we did changements, jump to second, fourth, fifth, changements to warm up.  Then jete dehors coupe jete dedans, assemble, assemble, glissade assemble.  Then the reverse of this.  The teacher said to keep the knee over the toes when we turn, which is the same as hips forward...everything has to go into the movements.  No chickens here!  I told the teacher I was still sore from last night's class, which included temps leve, jump developpe ecarte, pas de bourre, grand jetes.  Also, tendus with renverse pas de bourre to attitude turns, arabesque turns, chainnes, step over pirouettes.  The teacher told me, there is so much space in the torso.  Extend everything...  As I feared, though, while we were doing pique attitude turn step attitude turn chasse pas de bourre more turns, I got too close to a male dancer, which is why I have to be careful in these high energy classes.

Afterwards when I discussed this with the teacher, I said it was a good thing in general to be conscious of the others around you.  Whew, at least he didn't seem angry, like some other teachers I have had would.  I think all my teacher see I am really trying to improve, so they put up with these unprofessional actions sometimes; also sometimes I still feel slighted because I am older than everyone but the "kids" today at Lou Conte were really welcoming, and I think really good dancers will support their fellow dancers.

I am feeling a little under the weather so I did not go swimming; however, I did go to yoga yesterday and today and now feel very serene, especially after the class tonight, where the teacher grabbed my arm and really extended it behind me so I looked like something out of the exorcist, but now I feel great, except I am ready to sleep...zzz.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I'm not Irish, but I admire the spirit of the holiday...

I really am quite religious and love to go to church and it doesn't matter what church, just to be in a church, because of the spirituality of it.  There must be more to life than just existing on a physical level, I have always thought.  When I was a student, I had the luck of being in Dublin on St. Patrick's Day and so I woke up to see a crowd of people all walking down the road, so I followed them -- to church, where I bought some Shamrocks and then went to see the St. Patrick's Day parade.  My favorite float was the Guinness float, all done in black, with men dressed in black wearing black glasses sitting at a table, drinking Guinness beer.  The crowd cheered!

Dublin has a lot of poverty, too, and I saw little children begging for money and little boys smoking on the street, looking like wary old men.  Then there was the amazing Book of Kells at Trinity College, going back to the days when people actually wrote on paper, or perhaps parchment, a lost art.

Well, I digress, but today of course I attended ballet class and of course went to the gym and I will do the same tomorrow, because I feel that discipline of the body is important to discipline of the spirit.  Meanwhile, my puppy played a lot all day again, because it is important to have a childhood, which these Irish children have missed...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Monday, really Tuesday, thinking of dad, Yasir is growing up...

My dad was a dinosaur -- they don't come like this anymore.  He was a man of the earth with no pretenses and had the guts to stick to his beliefs, something very hard to do.  He lived a long life, until 91, but you wish people like this would never die and now that he is gone I can only wish I had appreciated him more.

Yasir is continuing to be a good puppy, after a few bouts with insanity and generally being hyper, but he is a puppy and I will probably miss his puppy ways later, too.  As for me, my dance teacher caught me in the hallway as I was leaving and said "you did good today, much straighter."  Well, what can I say... :)

So to continue with Tuesday, I woke up early, took out the dog, and went to ballet class, where a lot of dancers were "auditioning" to be in this teacher's company.  Like last week, it was nice to be around such good dancers.  People who work hard always inspire me.  Hard work doesn't have to be a chore; in fact, sometimes it makes things more enjoyable, once you get over the initial resistance you may inwardly feel.

Then I got home and took Yasir for a good play in the park.  I let him run around and chase one of his dog toys and he was really good at retrieving, so he learned something, too, while he was having fun.  Just like ballet class!  He really is great outside, where he can channel his energy.  When he is home, he is restless and doesn't really like to sit around.  It seems he constantly has to have something to do and it is now my challenge to be assertive and control him, because discipline is just as necessary as playing and working hard, as I know...

So then I went to the gym and yoga, followed by romping around underwater briefly because I wanted to get to Pilates class.  I appreciate the structure of these two disciplines and my body always feels better -- I notice the difference without yoga and Pilates -- I just don't feel as strong.

Now I am home and will sleep late for a change, except for taking out puppy, but I enjoy getting up at sunrise and feeling the morning air.  My grandmother got up every day like this to feed the animals on her farm and there is something really nice about going out and being with nature.  It clears the mind and puts life in perspective, kind of like yoga or dance or Pilates or anything that makes you realize that life is more important than your immediate problems...

Workout Highlights:
1. You get a gold star, Dorothy...good barre...
2. Tendus with passe releve, pirouettes.
3. Walk like you normally do, don't drag your feet, really step forward, don't linger back.  Step into the movement...
4. Jumps require precision, I think...
5. Grand jete -- jump high!
6. I breathe so naturally in the water now...
7. Yoga -- relax, sit up straight, think about being square in the hips, sink down into your weight.
8. Pilates -- Keep shoulders back, keep neck and everything, really, neutral.  Side planks...hold.  Squeeze your butt
9. Really spot harder when turning, get the head around faster.
10.  Use your back, extend the movements.
11. Go through first position, waltz in line, step releve ecarte developpe, pas de bourre, pas de chat, land on knee.
12. Tendu croise with arms, epaule, reverse derrierre, do away from mirror.  Tendu tendu, coupe, epaule, efface, turn tendus over; reverse.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


Today I got to go to ballet class at Joffrey Academy!  The class was a repeat of the previous classes of the week, since a lot of the students are still trying to master the quick steps this teacher gives.  After these classes, I find that I am amazingly loose and I think it is because quick movements often release muscles so much better than slower movements.  The problem is to nail the combinations!

Then I went home to take Yasir out in his stroller.  Since he is small enough to take on the bus, we headed to the South Loop, where there are many dog friendly places.  I took him to a small enclosed park and let him romp around freely.  Hopefully I can take him there often so he can release some of his puppy energy. He is still quite hyper at home, growling at his toys and working himself into a frenzy.  I hope the neighbors will understand that he is in a puppy phase, oh, dear!

He is at his best outdoors, of course, being a hunting dog, and it is a pleasure to take him "travelling," which he loves.  We visited historic Prairie Street and, walking around, I felt like I was transported into the past somehow.  I really love this street and wonder what life must have been like in those days 100 years ago.  Yasir enjoyed it, too, and he met several lovely dogs that reside in this neighborhood and generally had a good romp.

Then I went to the gym and into the pool, just relaxing, like my ballet teacher said I should do.  I asked him after class what to do when my muscles feel tight and my bad back starts to bother me and he said I should learn to breathe and just relax when I move.  Movement is the key, breathing and relaxing, not gripping and holding tension.

So I am home now with Yasir, who is having trouble calming down and is bouncing all over my apartment.  Maybe the stimulation of the day was too much for him, or maybe we need to start going for longer walks, now that he is getting stronger every day.  I am afraid of wearing him out because he is so young, but I don't think I have to worry about that too much!

Dancing away, I really got into the music:
Balance, balance, releve developpe efface, pas de bourre en tournant pique arabesque faille, releve attitude renverse, pas de bourre, pique turns...assemble, assemble, jete temps leves, glissade assemble assemble, glissade jete, brises...I am really beginning to love these swirling turning movements.  Beats looked better, too!  Teacher said not to hop, really straighten the knee and spot, spot...