About Me

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Saturday at Puppy School, lesson 3...

There are two more weeks to puppy school.  We have reached the main stretch and Yasir has come around magically from a beast to a quite civilized puppy.  He has learned to sit, stay, go down, and today he learned come and leave it.  The trainer was there with her 5-year-old dog today and she told us it was important to train our puppies for 10 minutes each day, twice a day.  I asked her if they learn by repetition and she said, yes, that is how they learn.  They think and can problem solve, but practice makes perfect, like in ballet.

I did not have a ballet class today but I did go for my swim after leaving my sunny apartment in the afternoon to head out into the icy cold.  My hands felt cold today, really bad for a spring day.  There were lots of swimmers at the gym today and the water was quite warm, so I plowed away, feeling a little weak at first, but I made myself do the "repetitions" and now I feel lighter and stronger again.  I won't let the cold get me down, and it is supposed to get warm come April, so I must continue onward.  I am persistent, if nothing else...

Not Really Friday anymore...

I got to Pilates, yay, and the class was structured really well and we used the small Pilates ball to squeeze our legs together and retain stability with marches while lying on this small surface.  Planks were a little easier today but I still can't do pushups very well.  I am trying to work on my shoulders and torso more, and so when I went to a late ballet class, I could see the difference in my alignment, although my hip flexors would not work.  So, I did what a teacher told me, raise my legs a little lower and work those nasty flexors, instead of just hoisting myself around.  That paid off, too, because after barre, in center, I sparkled! I just don't see the point of doing things incorrectly when doing the same things correctly looks and feels so much better...

Yasir has been more quiet today and I think this phase he is going through will soon pass and he will be a more sensible puppy, or maybe I am learning to be a more sensible pack leader!  Tomorrow is a big day for him, puppy school, so I am signing off for now...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Thursday

After dance class, my senses are always sharper.  As I walked home, the cold spring air didn't seem as cold, but then I did stop at the gym on the way home to soak in the whirlpool, steam bath and sauna, which I hadn't done lately.  I tried to swim but did not want to walk home with wet hair, so this will be on my agenda tomorrow morning, before Pilates class.

The adult ballet class was spartanly attended and two people dropped out, making it even harder for the remainder of class, but I enjoyed the extra exertion.  I only do better when I am near the point of fatigue anyway, because it's in my peasant blood, I guess, to finish something no matter what.  We did a nice warmup barre and the teacher told us to focus on pulling up the backs of the legs all the way up and I needed this reminder because I always tend to have my knees slightly bent.

Before class I asked the teacher if she had ever experienced back problems and asked her what I could do and she recommended arching my back more, which is what another teacher said.  During the end of class, she also told me not to bend forward when I did plies, after I asked her how to stop a pirouette.  Just bend down, she said, and I again complained that my back wouldn't let me...it is often hard to do plies because of my stiff back and I think it is because of years of training in the old days where they always told you to have a straight, flat back.  Now, everyone knows there should be a natural arch in the spine.

That is why I appreciate the gym and working out, and learning about the body, but there is nothing that has ever kept me in shape as much as ballet.  It has always helped me stay slim and vibrant and also feel feminine.  The gym is great but the danger is to be too sporty and when form is gone, so goes grace, I think.  That is why I am such a stickler, and it was good to be in class again after being depressed after hearing about a rude comment about me in yesterday's class.  I know that people may laugh at me for having such discipline, even in my eating habits, which have radically changed over the years so that I can't imagine not eating healthy, but it is my way and I never feel my best when I veer off my track.

Now I am with puppy again, whom I took out in spurts today because of the cold, and we are winding down, although puppies will be puppies...

Class:
1. Tendus sideways with circular arms, chasse pirouette en dehors, rotation, pirouette en dedans...
2. Adagio: Stand 5th position, move arms to side and then to 3rd position, rotate arms in elonge, circular port de bras, pirouette en dedans, rotation, pirouette en dehors, developpe a la seconde, ronde jambes en l'air, plie, dedans turn, chainnes...
3. Jumps changements to echappe releve, 5th, glissade assemble, glissade assemble, assemble, assemble, jete, jete.
A great part of this adult class was devoted to corrections and body alignment, with emphasis on port de bras and coordination.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wednesday and where is spring?

Brrr...even my puppy wanted to turn around and go to his indoor toybox.  I got to my favorite Pilates class with Swiss balls and weights after a nice morning romp in the park with Yasir.  The cold made him quite frisky...about his barking and biting, I went to the bookstore again for expresso and looked through two books, one entitled, "Help I Just Got a Puppy, What Do I Do?" and basically I thought, let him be a puppy.  I have to find an old book I had about how to train a hunting dog, where the trainer said the same thing.  Leave a young pup alone to explore his world and he will be a more confident dog.  I think there is too much overtraining about how to react when your puppy barks and so on.  It's normal and he's a puppy and if other people don't like it, well, it's life...

Pilates was hard and I really like the arm movements with weights the best, which is why I go to this class. There were no more light weights so I had to use heavier ones and the worst part is when your arms are at right angles and you have to pulse up and down; otherwise, my arms feel great now, more stable and aligned, too, since in Pilates there is so much emphasis on correct form.  The leg movements to the side while leaning over the Swiss ball were a little better, too, and I was surprised at how my body just took over and I instinctively clutched my abs and glutes to stabilize my legs.  All this daily nitpicking is showing results...

After another stroll with puppy, I got to the afternoon ballet class with the children for some nice movements.  This teacher is all about movement and how a woman should move and her little secrets on things, like, when the music is fast, you should not do the huge glissade you would otherwise do.  It's all the nuances she teaches that I like so much.  Sometimes I think the young girls don't appreciate this valuable training and I wish this teacher would teach more adult classes like she used to.  She was my teacher for years until I got into the more advanced level, but there is something to be said about taking a more basic class.  Everyone wants to be an advanced student but I have seen some "advanced" students that have quite bad form.  The best part about an advanced class is learning from the professional dancers and I owe a lot to all these nameless dancers, but in the end, it is up to you how to dance.  "You're your own dancer," a teacher, also one of the nameless teachers to whom I owe so much, said to a girl in class.

Class:
1. Tendu croise devant and derrierre, tendus side, passe pirouettes...
2. Balance, balance, step developpe ecarte, balance, sautes, pique turns...
3. Sissonnes arabesque pas de bourre, glissade, temps de cuisse, assemble, jetes...
4. Step developpe croise, chasse pas de bourre grand jetes.
Because this class is so "classical" it is teaching me to be more comfortable with these movements so that I can relax and just dance...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tuesday audition class...

Everything remains the same, like in the song "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay," and I can't find a job.  They tell me I need more experience, but I know it's because I will never fit in the mold.  I should have been an artist, and I am really enjoying writing this blog.  When I went to the local bookstore after my interview to browse through dog magazines, I noticed something called "Writer's Digest" and thought, I wish I could follow the "thread" as one dance teacher put it, and get a job doing something I would enjoy, like maybe working in the gym.  Still, life is full of compromise, so I continue to try to fit into the structure...

Class this morning was another "audition" and there were a lot of young dancers.  Notable among these was a blonde wearing black who did strong, fast turns in one combination that I struggled with in terms of sense of direction.  It was all great fun to "compete" with these young dancers.

Yasir is starting to fill in his hoody, although he has been bouncing around and barking today because the weather is so rainy and cold that we didn't have much of a romp.  I think it's time to show a little "tough love" as the trainer said before.  After all, he is a working dog and his baby days are ending and he will become "headstrong" if I don't act like Caesar Milan.  I mean, I need to be firm.  He is very trainable but bites my hands and barks and I become exasperated and so I must just stop myself and be calm and carry on, as the popular saying goes.

Tomorrow will be more relaxing now that the much anticipated interview is over.  Next time I am thinking of faking it, like a college counselor of mine even said.  Who will really check and what do I have to lose?  So, I need to polish my image, or as I call it, faking it, although it's not really; it's just putting myself in a more "professional" light.

I long to find my real self, though.  In class today, I realized that dancers have to be human, as another good teacher who was in the Alvin Ailey company told me.  It's not just technique and pretty poses.  It's how you feel and not being afraid to show your humanity.  Another thought, all the gym training makes me realize how the body needs to be upfront and everything is forward, so that good dancers in my eyes are like extroverts who are uninhibited.  As another teacher said, don't be shy.  So, chest up, hips forward, stand up tall, be proud of who you are.

Class (Classic barre):
1. Run to center, passe releves, step forced arch, demi-plie, releve developpe arabesque...
2. Tendu croise combination with arms; reverse...
3. Waltz in lines, pique arabesque faille, detourne, inside pirouette...
4. Glissade assemble, faille, chasse pas de bourre grand jete...
I found it a challenge to move with so many dancers and the class was so big we could not experiment as we did in a more intimate group; however, this should happen in a big group, too.  No need to get lost in the shuffle...

Monday, March 21, 2011

Is it Monday?

Yes, and I slept late because of my "cold."  I postponed my dental appointment and then went to the beach with Yasir.  It would be good for him to romp in the sand, I thought.  Surprisingly, no one was there, except for the usual joggers, so Yasir enjoyed his spring morning on the beach.

Then I went to the gym to Pilates class and found that I had no strength and so I concentrated on making small movements, which are often harder and so I got my technique in that way.  Then I went swimming, feeling tired, but pushing myself to do my laps, and then I felt better afterwards.

I had a big sandwich for lunch, took Yasir to the park and then got to afternoon ballet class, where everybody in the class seemed lethargic, also.  I think because the weather is warmer, we are not used to the warmth and actually sweating, after a cold winter.  The teacher was surprisingly nice to us in class, giving us an "easy" battement combination and so on.  She is very kind and loves to dance, that is why I continue to attend her class, although she can be really mean, too, but if you work and try, she will love you...

I went home in the chilly night and found my puppy was uncontrollable most of the night and so I did what the "Puppy Primer" said, play with him and his toys, try a little crate training and so on, and now he is sleeping!!  So tomorrow I will go to a job interview and it is supposed to get cold again, so I need to repair my coat that my puppy constantly wants to bite, but according to the Primer, that is how they learn about their world.  I went to my neighbor's apartment to look after Tiger for a while.

He is doing just fine and probably likes being with his young mistress who pampers him.  He recognizes me and it is nice that he is nearby.  I am glad he has a good home and is happy, although I wish I could have kept him, but I really do like my walks with puppy and watching him grow.  It will be a challenge to control his puppy energy, but I love a challenge...

Some class moves:
1. Tendus croise devant, derrierre, degages efface, petit developpe pas de bourre pirouettes.
2. Balance balance through 4th position, chasse pas de bourre pirouettes lunge, pas de bourre, pirouettes en dedans to developpe arabesque fondu pas de bourre.
3. Glissade side to side with assembles, quatres.
4. Glissade assemble sissonnes side to side with pique pas de bourre pirouettes; reverse.
5. Adagio:  grand plie, developpe seconde to attitude, promenade in attitude to arabesque, chasse pas de bourre pirouettes en dedans.
--Barre was very concerned with rhythms and timing...piques with frappes fondu, slow fondus en croix, use the feet..it's so hard to point your feet, the teacher said...

Sunday, March 20, 2011

First day of spring...

So I took Yasir for a walk around the block and went to ballet class with my favorite classical teacher and now my bones feel loose as a goose.  Actually, I saw my old friend Pinky on the walk home across the river, stopping for some green salad at Whole Foods and watching some amazing young folk singers.  At first I thought it was a girl singing, and then when I walked in to pick out an orange, there was a young boy singing and strumming a guitar.  Fantastic!  I don't know who they were but I took a picture.

I got home and turned around to take Yasir to meet my old dog's trainer and she picked him up and admired him.  Then she gave me some good tips.  Don't let your dog be an experiment for another dog, she said.  Better to be conservative when meeting other dogs.  Also, about the barking at night, he needs to learn how to be alone, so practice crating him, letting him walk in the crate for a short time, then longer, with the door open, then with the door closed, then walking around the crate with him staying put.  After all, she said, what if you have to live somewhere that is not your own space and he damages the walls, etc.

We had a fun walk coming home, me wheeling him part-way in his little cart which he is quickly outgrowing, until we got halfway home and then I let him chase me through the park, which he loved.  This he can do until he gets bigger and stronger and then it won't be safe to let him run off-leash.  Now he is sound asleep, after I tried some crate exercises so he would be a better puppy...

Class:
1. Plies facing barre with releves.
2. Plies with port de bras.
3. Tendu front, plie, back, plie, side, plie, en croix with port de bras.
4. Degages front, back, side, side, side, balance in passe.
5. Ronde jambs with fondu, balance in attitude, extend.
6. Fondus front, front extend to side with ronde jambes; repeat from back.
7. Frappes with fondus to side, beats.
8. Grand battements front, back, side side; en croix in single beats.
Center:
1. Tendu devant croise, derrierre croise, glissade over and under, pas de basque, pirouettes, pas de bourre en tournant, pirouettes en dedans.
2. Adagio: grand plie, pique arabesque promenade, pas de bourre, pirouettes.
3. Plie passe, pirouette from 5th, from 4th, pas de bourre pirouette en dedans.
4. Jumps: 16 changements, changements with echappes, jump to 4th, pirouettes.
5. Pique arabesque balance, emboites, step assemble, pique arabesque step step assemble.
The teacher said to go beyond the balance and keep growing into the arabesque.  Also, spot, Dorothy, spot.  The position is okay, just relax, look, and look again.  Don't get tense about it.  So now I know I need to work on getting my left side stronger so I can really be on my leg, like I am on the right side.  It was good to feel my bones move in this class, after all the different rotations.  Rotation is so important to classical ballet and how you use it.  Work on the feet, of course, but extending the entire leg taut.  Then I stretched while watching part of a private class where he told the student to recite the steps, matter-of-fact, something a dancer has to do, not a big deal...also, stretching everything.  My yoga teacher was right, extend the [left] arm out and try to touch something.  I tried to touch the rainy clouds outside...