Category Archives: trapeze

Break and Reset

Our run of Orpheus went well—it wasn’t 100% perfect, but it was close enough. Our audiences didn’t know it wasn’t perfect, and that’s all that matters. We got another really nice review, as well.

Surprisingly, Mom loved it! I wasn’t sure what she’d think, to be honest. She’s been an avid fan of the performing arts for far longer than I’ve even been alive. I wasn’t sure that the combination of silent theater, aerials, and modern dance would appeal to her. In fact, she thought it was great (and not just the parts I in :D). I don’t think I would have predicted that!

For me, there was definitely a trial-by-fire element. I’ve never had so much choreography to learn for one show, and we had such an oddly compressed rehearsal schedule. On Wednesday, we were still pretty shaky about some things; full of challenging doubts. On Thursday, though, everything seemed to suddenly gel. I guess that dancers, like beans, cook faster in a pressure cooker!

Anyway, it was a learning experience in all regards, and a good one. Nobody ever did call or email to tell me they’d cast me by mistake, so that was cool. Our playwright said that my portrayal of Eurydice’s strict, mean father (we nicknamed the role “Papa Eurydice”) was one of his very favorite parts 😀 (That was one heck of a fun role, too.) I discovered that I like the acting bits almost as much as the dancing bits, and the I love the acting-via-dance element like crazy.

I learned that two shows in one day is very doable.

I learned that I look rather good in a slick 1920’s coiffure 😉

Sleek, eh?

The most important thing that I learned, though,  is that I can recover from mistakes without telegraphing them. I only made a few (basically, one biggie per show), but they felt enormous—like, at one point, I wound up way off my mark before a sequence en manège, basically standing at 5:00 instead of 7:00. I still have no idea how that happened, but it did.

In a way, it was funny: I rose from a floorwork passage and thought, “Something feels wrong, here.” By the time I realized that I was way off my mark, though, it was too late to move. Instead, I jumped into the manège sequence where I was, then adjusted by pivoting around another dancer at the end so I would wind up in the right spot. She also tried to adjust, and we bumped into each-other, but we made it. The audience didn’t even notice.
This week, I think I’m going to take it easy a bit. I’m taking a day off-ish today, though I think I’ll be back in class tomorrow. Friday, we’re heading out of town to celebrate our 5th anniversary.

Speaking of which, D gave me a mind-blowing anniversary gift:

I was stunned, but not so stunned that I couldn’t break out the single knee-hangs.

The portable rig is by Ludwig; Patti at Aerial Animals made the trapeze. I didn’t think to ask D where sourced the silks. When I asked about the mats, he said, “We’re making China great again,” heh.

The amount planning and subterfuge that went into this is incomprehensible! On the other hand, if I ever need a team of aerialist secret agents who can keep a secret, I know who call! More or less everyone was in on this, and planning phase dates back to January; maybe earlier.

Meanwhile, I had literally no idea this in the works!

Review Update: WearMoi Dance Belt

You can find my initial review here.

I purchased my WearMoi belt on 5 August, 2016, and it quickly became one of my two favorites.

In terms of keeping everything contained, thus far it has been surpassed only by the BodyWrappers’ M007 in my experience (though I haven’t tried every single dance belt in the history of ever: I have a Dance Jox one on order, and I’ve never tried M. Stevens, for example).

In terms of comfort over the course of a ridiculously long day, it outclasses everything else, though this is definitely an area in which your mileage will vary.

In terms of durability, it’s been pretty freaking good, though I think it’s starting to feel the effects of being worn almost every single day (and washed just as frequently) since I lost my BW M007(1).

  1. Yes, I’m also wondering how exactly one loses a dance belt. Did I leave it in Florida last October? Who knows?

It’s still perfectly sound for dance purposes, including grand allegro, but I don’t think it’s optimal for use on the lyra at this point. Definitely better than nothing, but not perfect.

I think that’s a function of the trade-off between the power of the elastic in the waistband and the gentleness of the waistband in question: BodyWrappers’ waistbands, for example, are stronger, and as such will probably retain maximum grip longer. WM’s is softer, which makes it hella comfy right out of the box, but potentially not as durable(2).

  1. I say “potentially” because I lost my M007 too soon after purchasing it really know, but BodyWrappers’ dance belts have a reputation for durability, and goodness knows my M006 is still strong enough to double as a slingshot suitable for fighting off a rampaging triceratops. If, you know, you have problems with rampaging triceratops…es in your neck of the woods.

The thing that really sets this particular dance belt apart during a long day of dancing, sitting on your butt while not dancing, and then dancing again is that the thong never starts to feel invasive. It somehow manages to be flat, soft, and strong in exactly the right proportions.

BodyWrappers’ M007 is comparable, but doesn’t quite equal it. On the other hand, BodyWrappers’ M007 is essentially maximum-security lockdown for your naughty bits and also slightly more reliably guards one’s tender modesty, if you feel what I’m saying, both of which are advantages.

The rundown:

WearMoi’s dance belts are really very nice for dance and trapeze work and good on the lyra when new, but less so over the course of a several months of constant wear. Interestingly, I would count acro with lyra, in part because there’s a possibility of someone displacing the waistband of your dance belt while tumbling you around on their feet. Just saying. M007 for acro, y’allz.

In terms of comfort, WM’s belt is absolutely perfect, and I intend to keep at least one of them around for the foreseeable future.

Seriously, if I think I’m going to be nervous because ZOMG Auditions or OMG Hard Class With A New Teacher! or ZOMG The AD is Coming to Look At Us!! or ZOMGWTFBBQ I Have A Crush On My Teacher!!!(3) I generally opt to wear the WM belt because at least that’s, like, one part of me that won’t be uncomfortable.

  1. WHICH NEVER HAPPENS TO ME OKAY I CAN HANDLE IT LEAVE ME ALONE YOU’RE RUINING MY LIFE!!! *door slam*

That said, I’m rather hard on my dance belts, and I have yet to discover an option that works better on the lyra than BodyWrappers’ M007.

Update: I forgot to cover sizing.

I’m hard-ish to fit because I have a small waist and stupidly huge glutei medii. On size charts(4) that include both waist and hip measurements, my waist is usually small or medium, and my hip is medium or large. Couple that with the irreducibly complex dark magic by which dancewear manufacturers generate their size charts, and you have a recipe for WTF.

  1. …By which I mean dancewear size charts. In normal street clothes, I’m always a small, unless we’re talking about Asian sizes, in which case I’m usually a medium.

Anyway, here’s what I mean:

01-Size-Comparison

Top: Capezio, L. Centre: WearMoi, L. Bottom: BW M006, L.

The waistband of my M007, by the way, was actually closer to the size of the WM dance belt than it was to that of my M006.

According to Capezio’s size chart, I should be a small; per BodyWrappers’ I’m a large. WearMoi splits the difference.

When I’m really on form, the WearMoi dance belt fits with a wee gap at the top and a perfect fit through the bottom half of the waistband. I could probably rectify that by ordering one with a narrower waistband, but it hasn’t caused any problems.

In short:

  • Overall Scores:
    • Comfort: 10/10
    • Security: 8/10 when new
    • Modesty: 7/10
    • Durability: 5/10
  • For Ballet: Highly Recommended
  • For Modern: Highly Recommended
  • For Acro-Balancing: Recommended
  • For Trapeze: Recommended
  • For Lyra: Recommended, with Caveat: may not be suitable after several months
  • For Averting Triceratops Attacks: Not Recommended; try BW M007 and call your local Humane Society or Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Including Those Presumed Extinct to ask about implementing a Trap-Neuter-Return program to reduce the local population of feral triceratops…i?

I don’t do tap, so I can’t really speak to that. I’m guessing the percussive nature of tap might be an important consideration, so I don’t want to make any guesses, here.

I don’t do hip-hop, either, but I think the demands it places on the body (explosive movement, rapid tempo changes, possibly floorwork?) are close enough to those placed by Modern that this dance belt should be fine.

Good News 

I got cast! (And not the broken-bone kind 😁)

Next audition on my radar is ballet-related, but I’m not sure when it is. Dates haven’t been posted yet. 

Remember That Audition Where I Fell Off The Trapeze? 

The most interesting man in the world doesn’t always fall off the trapeze, but when he does, it’s during an audition … and lands him a callback!(1)

  1. Okay, so falling off the trapeze may have had exactly nothing to do with it. But still! I got a callback!!! YASSSSSSS!

Pretty much a perfect depiction of how I’m feeling right now 😀

Very Funny, Universe

Before tonight, I had managed never to really fall off the trapeze before. I’ve dumped myself off handstand-style once, but that doesn’t really count.

Tonight, I managed to take a legit fall—during my audition.

In retrospect, I made the wrong call abotu my music: instead of just going for the piece I’d intended, “La Mer,” which was a little too long, and letting them cut it off, I opted for “Beyond the Sea” (Bobby Darin’s version).

It turns out that the tempo of Darin’s “Beyond the Sea” is actually quite a bit faster than the recording I have of “La Mer.” I was tired and attempting to adapt, and somewhere along the line my brain decided halfway into an egg-to-pike inversion that I was actually doing the arabesque roll to sit that comes at the end.

20161004_085517.jpg

Uh-oh. Here comes the Failboat.

Since one wraps one’s arms for the inversion in question, it’s not possible to do the roll in question without breaking said arms. I’m more afraid of breaking bones than of falling, so I basically just let go.

Failboat

Allll Aboooooaaaaard!

 

Apparently it was a pretty spectacular fall—and a technically-correct one 🙂 I tucked and rolled, and as a result the only parts of me that hurt are my forearms, which is what happens when you wrap your arms and then do crazy shizzle.

I popped back up and was ready to hop back on the trap before they even had a chance to cut the music (though they did, in order to make sure I was okay). I sorted my way through the rest of the trap routine, though I didn’t do the arabesque roll at the end; my arms weren’t digging that.

Ironically, the rest of the audition went pretty well, and apparently my trapeze improv looked pretty great (the fall was evidently quite exciting as well :D).

So, that’s my life for you. When I do finally manage to fall off the trap, it’s in the middle of an audition.

the-most-interesting-cat-in-the-world

At least I didn’t fall down during the dance portion? I did fall down during the acting part, but that was on purpose.

So there.

~

Oh, also, ballet was good today, petit allegro was far less bad than usual, and we discussed rehearsals for showcase, etc.

We also had a Physical Theater workshop, and afterwards I was chatting with the teacher, and she said something like, “So, you dance ballet?”

And I said something like, “Yeah, a little modern, but ballet is really my first language and my first love.”

Then she said, “I could tell—the legs!”

😀

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to Eat All The Food.

&*@# Detraining

So there is a phenomenon that is called detraining.

It’s what happens when first you train your body—whether through the conscientious application of strength and aerobic workouts or as a byproduct of being the kind of wacko who spends all his time in ballet class—and then find yourself forced to sit on your duff for a while.

In case you’re wondering, the better part of 7 weeks (roughly a month of illness followed by about three weeks on break) will do ya just fine.

So, as of yesterday, my schedule is back in full swing now (well, except for the fact that we’re having a snow day today). Wednesday began with Killer Class (not as killerific as usual, but even a mild Killer Class is still pretty killtastic). Next came two hours of attempting to teach some pretty athletic choreography to some Dance Team kids, then a quick break to stuff a burrito in my face. I got to the aerials studio early, so I spent roughly 30 minutes of dancing because there was music and I couldn’t sit still. Then came Trapeze 3 (during which I admitted to myself and to everyone else that I am hella weak right now), chased with a nice shot of Acro 2 (during which I attempted to both base and fly everything).

Today, perhaps unsurprisingly, significant portions of my body feel rather like they might be full of the kind of fine grit one sees on sandpaper. I suppose I should be grateful that it hasn’t reached the “My Body Is A Bag of Ground Glass” point on the DOMS scale, though (also, I’m pretty sure it’s not going to, so hallelujah to that).

Anyway, this sucks (#FirstWorldProblems, I know), and I’m feeling whiny (because we dancers are super tough until we aren’t), so you get to read about it.

That said, it’s good to be back, so to speak.

~

In other news, Killer Class got a new boy. He’s quite good and actually very nice, so of course I immediately did not think to ask him if he, for example, has a name.

Now he is cursed to be New Boy forever, which could be problematic, because yesterday we automatically turned into Team Ballet Boys and if we continue to be Team Ballet Boys, we should probably know each-others’ names at least.

All told, I have few complaints about yesterday’s Killer Class. It wasn’t a great class for me, but the way in which it wasn’t great was very much the way one expects when one hasn’t been in class in ages and ages and ages. I felt weak, but it wasn’t like I had forgotten how to dance. I just wasn’t strong enough to do things as well as I usually do.

Turns went well, though. We used them both in our adage and, of couse, for terra-a-terre. My doubles not only have not abandoned me, but are much better now that I’m not A) flinging the baby or B) leaving my hips behind(1).

  1. My new rule for turns and partnering: during turns and lifts, I pretend that my torso is basically a block of wood from the bottom half of the ribs down; that way I don’t bend in places where I shouldn’t. It’s a mental visualization thing that keeps me from detaching at the navel(2).
  2. I mean, not literally detaching at the navel. That would be, erm, messy.

Now I just need to stop anticipating the spot. I’ve realized that one of my problems, turns-wise, is that I don’t leave my head behind until it needs to turn and then whip it around, I do this crazy thing where I’m somehow starting off that way, but then whipping my head around early so it’s actually ahead (no pun intended :{) of the rest of the turn. WTF, head?

Anyway, terre-a-terre was basically, “Turns, followed by turns, followed by even more turns.” (Though, in fact, it began with B+, step right, developpé avantdeveloppé avant. There was also a piqué arabesque in there somewhere.) So that was nice.

New Boy and I started out as two thirds of the first group, then ran back around to repeat the first side. No one followed us back around, so we wound up at the back of the line on the second side, and then the class sorted itself into Team Professionals (Dancers & Doctors), Team Tall Girls en Pointe, and Team Ballet Boys.

Also, I remembered both my Garmin Vivofit and my heart rate monitor strap yesterday. The hilarious outcome of this breakthrough in planning was that I noticed, to my great puzzlement, that my heart rate was significantly higher during adagio than during either terre-a-terre or jumps.

Then I realized that ultimately boiled down to one thing:

you guys, it really helps to breathe.

Trapeze Thingy

This afternoon, things went well. “And So It Goes” (got the title wrong before) sets really nicely for an adagio dance trapeze piece. I roped Denis into doing some acro for the opening, though it was awkward because our portable crash mat is mas squishy — not particularly stable.

The performance piece was very much a work in progress. I forgot to do a couple of things I meant to do, which meant there was more improv than I intended, but the improv resulted in some nice moments, so I really can’t complain.

Our friendly photog, Kevin, shot pictures, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing them. After I finished, essentially everyone wandered up to em and said, “I wish I had your back flexibility.”

I am learning to basically just say, “Thanks!” without launching into a long and boring explanation of how one achieves that kind of thing.

Secretly, inside, I’m like, “BALLET, Y’ALLS.”

Well, okay, ballet and genetics.

But mostly ballet: ballet will make the most of whatever genetics you’ve got. The secret isn’t so much flexibility — it’s strength. Nothing teaches you to use your back like ballet. If you want to be able to draw your body up into an arc while dangling from one knee, do a billion arabesques (but they have to be good ones).

Anyway, after I did my thing on the trapeze, we also got to play on the lyra and do some crowd-pleasing acro. We had extra time because we all kept forgetting that we had 10-minute time slots 😛

That’s it for tonight. I’m itching to see the pictures, but also completely exhausted.

Belated Notes 

Since Ms B got married and there are no longer two BWs among my ballet teachers, I shall henceforth refer to Company B simply as BW (because I’m lazy and it’s easier). 

Anyway, class with BW was, as always, good. I didn’t dance as well as I usually do, but everyone has those days. Only three of us again, so once again there was much drilling down deep in the technique. There was also more than the usual array of conversation; we were all tired and disorganized (I arrived earliest, only 5 minutes before class time; BW arrived just after, and everyone  else was late). 

My turnout took a while to turn on — back to Trap 3 last night meant back to Single Knee Hangs (with ronds-de-jambe), and those make the turnouts tight. (I’m going to have to contemplate that, as I plan to use SNH w/ RDJ to open a trap performance on Saturday.) Not that it was non-existent; it just wasn’t up to the standard of Wednesday’s class.

On the other hand, my grand rond got its stuff together after a fashion. Coming from behind, I was rotating the turnouts later than necessary and thus losing much of the quality of the movement. BW laid on hands and fixed me: he proved to me that I can rotate my hip much further in arabesque than even I thought possible, which made for one high extension coming  à la seconde. Like, BW even commented on it to B: “See how high that is?”

I appreciate the fact that my teachers aren’t afraid I’m the least to touch me. 

Going terre-à-terre, though, my brain was absolutely determined to leave our the waltz turns. This kept making me end up facing the wrong corner. This may have been fatigue (I’m sleeping better, but still not really well, as you might gather from the fact that I’m posting at 2 AM), or it may have been  a lack of Adderall. I forgot my second dose until it was legitimately too late to take take it. Ironically, I was so busy cleaning… Anyway.

I discovered that I haven’t lost my attitude balance, and that I can pretty reliably élevé into it now. After class, BW worked on my arms, which are slowly becoming graceful. Minor miracle, there, all things considered. 

So that’s about it. 

Trap performance on Saturday should be interesting. I’m resetting some existing choreography to Billy Joel’s “You’re The Only One Who Knows.” Here’s hoping I get through without bursting into tears. Seriously, that’s why I’m not even thinking about using “Leningrad.”

Also, a picture from Burning Man, below the fold since it’s mildly NSFW:

Read the rest of this entry

True Story

image

In fact, I was exactly as tired as I look, here.

This picture happened because none of us thought to bring a single hand mirror to our Road Show performance on Tuesday. 

Pros (or kinda-sorta-quasi pros) we may be. Organized? Um. Wellllllll….

I thought my eye makeup was uneven (it was); wound up with a highly consternated selfie by accident. Ultimately decided to keep it because I enjoy the look of blank desperation on my face (Is it uneven? I think it is. I’m not sure. I can’t go on like this! My kingdom for a mirror…)

Also, I forgot to take the sunglasses off my head — but don’t worry, the first inversion on the trapeze got that job done!

Wednesday Everything, OMG 

Summer Intensive being over, Killer Class with Ms.B is back. 

It wasn’t too bad yesterday, though I was too bad yesterday.

Sure, a year ago, I would’ve killed for a class in which I was like, “Yeah, I’m hella tired; I’ve only got half-baked double turns and single assemblés battu.” 

Still, I felt like an ongoing disaster: my rotators didn’t want to stay rotated, my balances were Meh, my balancés were Meh, I had trouble keeping things in my head, and at one point I forgot we had already done both sides of a combination and stood there blinking with the wrong hand on the barre while everyone else patiently waited for me arrange my waterfowls, etc.

Still, I made it through. Even managed beats in petit allegro, which was mercifully slower than Ms. E’s on Monday, during which I mentally grumbled about wishing we could do men’s tempo for once whilst simultaneously observing that any Danish-trained danseur could certainly manage this tempo so that’s no excuse. 

Grand allegro was better than I expected it to be, if not quite awesome.

I think les turnouts (which, regardless of Autocorrupt’s delightful suggestion, are definitely not “turbos” right now) and the leg-springy muscles need a day off. They might get one today, but I’m still on the fence — do I go take class with Company B, or do I acknowledge the fact that I’m rapidly careering towards two straight weeks without a rest day?

Anyway, afternoon and evening comprised a therapy appointment, my first Trap 3 class, Hoop 1, a break during which I stuffed hummus wraps into my face as I tried not not to heckle Denis during his Trap 1 class (which he’s intelligently taking to supplement Trap 2) and then some futzing about in the Dance Corner, where I discovered that I really shouldn’t more than mark Albrecht because that floor beats the holy hell out of your legs after a couple of runs of big jumps (to be fair, it’s not intended for grand allegro executed by someone with a lot of jump).

Trap 3 was revelatory. I got bumped up from 1 to 2 and from 2 to 3 very quickly because apparently that whole thing about lacking upper body strength was some kind of delusion and I’m naturally flexible, while ballet has imparted enough grace, coordination, and kinesthetic awareness to successfully tackle all the things. 

Trap 3, on the other hand, is going to be harder. I expected, for example, to nail meathooks yesterday because I have solid single-knee hangs, a stellar center-split, and controlled v-ups. Ha! In Mother Russia, it turns out, meathook nails you. 

Our instructor, who I’ll call Siren (because I somehow just realized that there are two Aerial Ms!), pointed out that for for me it’s not a question of strength, but of figuring out how to get all the parts to work together in an unfamiliar way*.

  • *This, by the way, typifies my learning process even in ballet: I fumble through the first several attempts at almost any complex new motor pattern, and then it just gels and I have it. The notable exceptions have been tour jeté, single cabriole, assemblée en tournant, and single tours, all of which I apparently learned by divine inspiration. You should have seen me trying to figure out Sissone double, though. Oy to the vey. 

In short: meathooks are … hmm. Ronds-de-jambes that you do in a different plane whilst in a long-arm hang with your head down and your junk up against the bar in such a way as to finish folded over your own arm or arms.

They should end up looking like this (thanks, YouTube!), more or less.

Our meathook exercise involves transitioning from inverted straddle to left two-handed meathook through inverted straddle to right two-handed meathook and back. So far, when I’m lucky, I can get from inverted straddle to an approximation of one meathook or the other — and that’s it.
Trying to convince your shoulders to continue to engage and your body to remain upright while you patiently rond first one leg, then the other around the barre is mind-bogglingly difficult.

I think part part of my difficulty, though, was that I set my grip too wide, which (because T -Rex arms) makes it potentially impossible to engage correctly through my shoulders and and chest. I have this same problem with the arrow/pencil inversion on lyra (and its children, pike and Verukai [sp?], when I don’t remember to set my grip a little narrower than instinct suggests). 

Still, I managed to finagle my way through the Cuddles sequence (I can only assume its name is at least somewhat ironic), which opens with an inversion into a pike across one of the ropes (or, in short, a kind of inversion into a meathook sans straddle) — and the fact that I’m very much capable of managing that inversion suggests that, indeed, strength is not the problem.

After the initial inversion, “Cuddles” involves more or less waving your legs around artfully to tie yourself in a very complicated sliding knot, from which you next glide first into a split and then into a leana, slipping yourself free of your knot as you go. 

It’s a devilishly complex motor sequence, roughly akin to the opening phrase of Albrecht’s variation in terms of coordination and motor planning (though not in the modulation of force, which is part of what makes Albrecht’s variation hard).

After all that, Hoop 1 felt like a walk in the park (which is good — I wasn’t sure that lyra as a chaser for a hefty  draught of trapeze was anything like a good idea), though I made the same grip-width mistake on my first go at the day’s enchaînement.

After, I shot some video of Albrecht’s variation broken into phrases so I could work on properly  sequencing my arms. I think, though, that I’m not going to run it on that floor anymore — I tried to turn down the jump on the cabrioles, but when I do that, the result is cabrioles badly executed, with the top leg dropping to meet the bottom as it swings up to beat (to be fair, it does have the decency to spring back up again — but it shouldn’t drop in the first place). Not a habit I want to cultivate! (I also need to get out of the habit of doing tiny, cautious tours, which I won’t on that floor). 

So I think from here out I’ll either run it on the mats or just mark the legs and train arms and épaulement, depending on whether the matts are free.

Port de bras and épaulement are definitely major goals, now. It doesn’t matter how high you jump or how well you travel if your arms aren’t up to speed. At the end of the day, in fact, that’s the thing that makes me fall in love with Russian dancers every time I see them — they can stand around doing nothing with their legs and break your heart just by lifting their arms.

I want to bring that both to my dancing and to my trapeze and lyra work.

So there you have my new Wednesday schedule in a nut-shell. Killer Ballet followed by Hard-Mode Trapeze, then a lyra class that feels like a break!

%d bloggers like this: