Choose Your Own Intensive: Day 1

I was, in fact, on the nervous side this morning when I left home.

Surprisingly, by the time I reached Clifton Cultural Arts Center, that nervousness had evaporated. Instead, I simply felt delighted to be returning to a place where I had a really great experience last year.

I picked up my number and the little program for the intensive and parked myself in the main studio, where a bunch of the students were watching Rosas Danst Rosas. Even that was pleasantly familiar: Rosas is one of the seminal works of progressive modern choreography that almost every dancer who’s worked in the discipline knows, and Mam-Luft & Co’s 2016 intensive  was the first place I saw it.

41

“I’m #41! I’m #41!” shouted nobody ever, except me, probably.

Improv class went well. I really actually rather love improv, though my body took a bit to wake up today. The drive up to Cincinnati is nearly 2 hours, which is a long time to sit still. Tomorrow, my class starts a little later, but I’m still going to leave at the same time.

I am not, I’m happy to report, the Onliest Boy this time. There’s another guy, and he’s quite good. He’s auditioning as well. We’re very similar in size, but quite different in build and movement style, so I’m actually kind of hoping I’ll get to work with him in the partnering classes at least a bit.

A couple of the girls from last year are also there this year, which is awesome. Regardless, I don’t feel so weird and shy and isolated this time. Like, I kind of feel like I know what I’m doing this time, and like I have some business being there.

After class, I dashed away almost immediately (partly so I could stop at United Dairy Farmers and get a milkshake, which turned into the greater part of my ultra-healthy lunch[1]).

  1. A milkshake and a banana. Don’t judge. We don’t have UDF in Louisville, so it was 100% worth it.
    • In fact, this worked out surprisingly well, really. The milkshake provided enough fuel to get me through ballet without turning into a brick in my belly.

Back in Louisville, I took a break to read things on my phone, then headed over to the ballet. We’re in the main studio downtown, which is really nice. There are only 10 or so of us in the master class, so we have a ton of room to move … which is good, because BW likes to make us travel.

Class went well. I got through everything, jumps and all, though I couldn’t convince my body to brisé during combinations, only during marks. I do, however, have my entrelacé back. I got to do grand allegro, and it was pretty good.

I took a couple of technical notes, but I left my notebook in my car and I can’t remember what they were. That’s fine, though: if I don’t remember at least some of them by the end of this week, I am probably beyond hope and should consider a career in Couch Potato Cultivation rather than in dance.

I am, in fact, the Onliest Boy in the masterclass series this week, but I’m okay with that. It’s a much smaller group than ML&Co was last year.

Anyway, I’m really tired, so I’m going to close here. I think I intended to say something more interesting, but I’ve been busily doing a billion other things whilst writing this post, and I can’t remember what they were.

~

PS: You know you’ve worked hard when you drop in at your aerial studio to say “Hi” to your friends, and the first thing someone says is, “Did you get caught in the rain?” 😀

 

A Few More Thoughts On Choreography; More Good(ish) Classes

D and I are now rehearsing our #Playthink piece.

It’s actually going much better than I expected it to.

As one does, I’ve re-written essentially the entire piece now that I’m setting it on actual people and not just on myself prancing about in the studio and waving my arms to vaguely represent the acro moves.

Initially, I had one vision in mind. Because I was futzing around with it by myself, it involved a lot of ballet.

Now, of course, that has changed. I mean, there’s still ballet: there’s always going to be ballet because, hello, it’s me. That’s kind of what I do, apparently.

But choreography has a way of getting away from you. You begin with one vision, and as you actually create a dance and actually set it on actual people, it transforms.

I suppose that this is because, in a way, a dance is sort of a living thing. It’s a little like having a child (though, of course, on a very different scale) or maybe an elaborate pet. You might think, of a horse, “I’m going to train this horse to be the best cow pony ever,” but the horse might actually not be any good at being a cow pony. It might turn out to be a dressage beastie or something else[1].

  1. My philosophy on training horses was very much shaped both by my childhood trainer and also by the trainer of my friend’s lovely Arabian gelding, which began life as what the Arabian show world in the US calls a “park horse,” morphed into what the Arabian show word in the US calls an “English pleasure” horse, did a brief stint in Arabian-show-world western pleasure, and then eventually found his calling as an endurance racer. Basically, the lady who was responsible for training the horse felt that you needed to figure out which discipline suited the horse, and then train it to be as good as it could possibly be at that discipline. I think that’s a good way to do it.

Anyway. I digress.

So this dance is now almost a steady stream of rather-balletic acro and physical theater, and I’m okay with that. One of my goals was to build a dance that tells a story, and in this case, the story is kind of funny and implausible, and acro and physical theater are good ways to tell it.

I’m not going to try to force this dance to be something it isn’t. I have an entire lifetime in which to craft ballet pieces on ballet dancers (I keep joking that I have this entire three-act ballet in my head, now I just need about fifty dancers and a million dollars or so to get it off the ground … but, really, I do have an entire three-act ballet in my head, and it’s taking up a lot of space!). Right now, I’m working with one ballet dancer (me!) and one Denis, and that presents its own set of challenges and limitations.

Honestly, in creative work, it’s so often the limitations that free us to innovate (just as necessity—or, just as often, laziness—gives birth to invention).

The neat part is that this has led us to inadvertently create a new acro move. I mean, probably someone, somewhere has done it before, but I’ve never seen it. It happens to be one that requires that the flyer have a legit center oversplit (among other things), so probably there are a lot of people who can’t do it. Bony impingement is real, it’s just not something that I experience.

Anyway, the sequence involves moving from this:

stag

Kind of, erm, scorpion? thing…

…to this:

stag-x2

Double stag…

…to this:

superman

Superman? Deep sea dive? Front balance? Limbs bird?

…via returning to a standard vertical candlestick, then opening to a straddle and rolling down onto the base’s feet, and then rotating your legs back and around into the position above (the arms also have to do a thing, obviously).

The same basic end could be approached by moving from the vertical candlestick into a pike candlestick and lowering both legs down that way, but I don’t think it would look anywhere near as cool.

Annoyingly, when I snagged these screenshots, I completely failed to get one of the straddle transition. At the time, I think I was like, “A still photo of this isn’t going to impart any useful information.”

Anyway, you really have to have a perfectly flat straddle for this particular sequence so you don’t just rip your legs off, because your hips take a lot of your weight in the middle of the transition. Basically, if lying face down in a center split feels stretchy, this isn’t the sequence for you.

You also kind of need really good turnout in order to do the rotation bit.

The fact that D literally cannot straighten his legs in an L-base also means that I kind of drop myself onto his feet. Eventually, I’ll reach a point at which I can do a complete smooth rolldown whilst upside-down in a full center split, which will make things a little easier, but right now there’s a gap between the end of my smooth rolldown and the end of Denis’ range of motion (because my core strength is still only pretty good, and not completely awesome).

I wanted to use a sort of grand rond de jambe as an exit, but that also takes more adductor power than D has right now. If I bring my downstage leg to second, then rond it over, the force makes his right leg (which supports my left hip) shift, and I fall off 😀

We’ll get it eventually, but not in the next two weeks.

So there’s that.

Anyway, classes were good-ish yesterday and today.

Yesterday’s, in fact, was fairly lovely. Today’s was our first Advanced Class with JAB (OMG, his initials are seriously JAB!!! XD), who really does actually give an advanced Advanced Class.

On the upside, I’m finally (FINALLLLLYYYYYY) jumping again for real: grand allegro and everything. Cabrioles with turny bits, even (though I think I kept turning them into some kind of cabriole-scissor hybrid and landing on the wrong leg).

On the other hand, possibly because I went to a party last night and didn’t get to sleep ’til almost 4 AM (and then had to wake up and eat a sandwich, which was surreal because I was still pretty tipsy and more than half asleep), my brain was for the birds today.

I struggled because there were gaps in my recall of Every. Single. Combination. once we left the barre. The bits that came off, though, mostly went pretty well (except for a weird disaster in adagio during which I basically fell off my leg and then couldn’t get back on because gravity is the worst thing sometimes).

I also hit up a new class at Suspend, which is basically floorwork for acro.

You already know how much I love floorwork, soooooo…

Anyway, we got to break out our improv for the last 10 minutes of class, which resulting in some video that’s party really cool and partly like WHY DO YOU KEEP NOT COMPLETING THE MOVEMENTS WITH YOUR ARMS, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU.

But, anyway, here are a few nice shots from this morning’s video, just because I like them:

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Also, I feel like in the arch picture, my butt looks like a couple of angry badgers having a fight. Muscular angry badgers, though.

The tape, by the way, is just there because a tree stabbed me in the foot yesterday :/

Anyway, I was being annoyed with myself for not making the effort to do quadruple turns today, and then realized that I’ve somehow, like, sideswiped my ballet goals without realizing it. Like, basically, I’ve made a significant dent in them and didn’t even notice.

Basically, one of my major goals for this year was to nail down reliable triples and unreliable quadruples, basically. And, bizarrely, I have achieved that goal. I had this weird epiphany on the way home from class yesterday: I realized that, like, a year ago or so, even doing one little triple turn more or less by accident was the most amazing thing ever.

And now I’m like, “Meh, triples, yawn,” when I don’t try for quads.

So, basically, I need to pause and appreciate how much progress I have made.

For what it’s worth, I’ve also got turns in second sorted. They’re not always beautiful (or, let’s be honest, even pretty), but I can always do them. Just not always sixteen of them.

So, yeah. There you go. I feel like I’m “back,” more or less, right now.

Of course, Choose Your Own Intensive begins Monday, soooo… . .  .

Finally, a Mostly-Good Class

mostly-dead

From The Princess Bride, via blatant heckin bamboozlery.

First of all: THANK FREAKING G-D. I have broken my week-long streak of disastrous classes, FINALLY.

Today in BW’s class, I was not a giant freaking disaster area.

I did not feel weak.

I did not forget every single combination (in fact, I managed to remember all but one of them, though for some bizarre reason I kept doing inside-out turns on one of them).

I did not feel horribly nervous or completely unworthy of BW’s tutelage and as such didn’t spend have the class talking, though I did ask several clarifying questions (another really nice thing about private class).

My legs didn’t fall off and my foot didn’t start screaming at me.

…Which is good, because it was, once again, the All Asher, All The Time show.

When you’re having a terrible week day, nothing will make you feel worse than a private class.

When you’re having a fairly decent day … erm … well, you’ll probably come out of your private class feeling fairly decent.

Today definitely fell into that zone: I can tell I’m making progress, but the goalposts keep moving, so I keep thinking I’m so bad at this one thing, but I also think, I’m way better at this other thing.

I wouldn’t say that I’ve got 100% of my strength back, but I’m also not sure that’s accurate. Were it accurate, I think the 8-8-4-4-2-2 grand battement would’ve killed me.

In case you’re wondering, that particular grand battement is fairly hard, but still not as hard as Rayevsky’s which, if I remember correctly, went: 8 front, 8 back-inside, 8 side, 8 back, 8-front inside, 8 side, EFFING DETOURNE, straight into the other freaking side. Honestly, I feel like I’m probably missing something in there. Regardless, it’s clear that Mr. R wants his dancers strong—and he teaches with enough precision to warrant it.

In the hands of an ineffective teacher, that combination could easily become a turnout-destroying exercise in futility, but Mr. R is one of those teachers who have 27 pairs of X-ray vision-equipped eyes arrayed all over their heads so they can call you out on failing to engage one wee finger of your deep rotators even when they’re looking at someone at the far end of the barre.

Edit: I suspect invisible eyestalks may be involved.

BW also teaches with that kind of precision. I am still totally in awe of the moment when he shot me exactly the right correction with his back to me and no mirror for guidance.

Anyway, I think I’m in that in-between zone: kind of between levels. I’m working on sustaining higher extensions and so forth, and that requires a greater degree of strength in the supporting leg. I’m working on cleaner, sharper, turns with higher turn counts[1], which requires a better spot and more accurate placement[2].

  1. …Though, today I was just having a remedial “don’t turn the wrong freaking way” kind of day. There were singles and doubles and one triple, and that was fine, since we were aiming for precision.
  2. …And a steady supporting leg, which in my case also comes down to strength—or, more accurately, the balance of strength, as do extensions. BW noted that, for me, the challenge is balancing the extreme mobility of my hips and the natural strength of my quads by strengthening the rotators and other muscles that oppose the quads. Basically, I need to work on my butt. Even more. And not ever do anything extra with my quads, period, end of story. He might not have actually said that second bit, but it’s kind of implied?

We also managed to get our petit and medium-ish allegro on, though we skipped entrechats this week. BW was pleased with my changements, which we’ve been modifying to improve my tours[3].

  1. This works because ballet is systematic and sequential: sus-sous balance begets soutenu turn and soubresaut, which in turn begets changement. Soutenu turn and changement together, combined with a strong plié, beget tours and then double tours (or, if you’re me, 1.5 tours >.<).

BW has a way of saying to me, when we are in the midst of Accidentally Private Men’s Class,We do this this way…” and then explaining some subtle point of men’s technique and what makes that subtle point important.

A solid double-tour requires that one’s legs squeeze together and stay there through the change of feet and through the rest of the jump, essentially because physics.

If you ever had the opportunity to play on one of those rotating tire swings as a kid, you probably remember that you could make it spin faster by tucking yourself into a ball or slower by stretching out and leaning outwards.

If you’ve done dance trapeze, lyra, rope, or any of the other free-spinning aerial circus apparatus that allow it, you also know that you can create insanely fast spin by making yourself into a vertical line that runs right up and down the vertical axis of the spin.

The same principle applies to tours: the closer everything stays to the vertical axis, the faster you can turn.

You can’t have your calves flapping around when you have to rotate twice around your own vertical axis before you land (facing the correct direction). That means you have to snap-squeeze your legs right the heck in from the tips of your toes to the tops of your thighs[4].

  1. …So if you’re a dude and you’re going to work on double tours, wear your best dance belt (and a smile, I guess?).

To build this habit, you do a billion changements in which you do not snap the legs out and bring them back (as pretty as that is), but instead sort of pivot them around each-other as you would in the midst of a soutenu turn[5].

  1. This is moderately counter-intuitive, because in a soutenu turn it doesn’t feel like that’s happening … but it is.

Anyway, that’s about all the braining I can manage tonight.

The funny part is that I remembered our medium-ish allegro combination, but still proceeded to do it wrong because my brain would not engage. It ended with assemblé back no change, assemblé changé. That assemblé back no change tripped me up soooo many times, because (like every dancer on earth) I do assemblé changé a lot more often.

In the end, though, I ran it until I got it right, which is another nice perk of flying solo in class. If you need to get a thing down, you can drill it ’til ya kill it.

Anyway, I’m taking an extra class tomorrow in honor of BG’s birthday, and then the usual assortment of weekend shenanigans, and then it’s onto my self-imposed Dancer’s Hell Week; my wee Choose Your Own Intensive.

You guys, I cannot believe it’s June already!!!!!!!

Trolled By My Own Foot

This morning, I awoke to a weird[1], intense pulsing pain my slowly-healing toe.  

  1. Though not as weird as the fact that I’ve awakened by 8 AM without an alarm for several days running. #NightOwlProblems

Obviously, this made me a wee bit angry. 

And then, after about an hour, it just stopped.

Seriously, foot, what the hecking heck? 

I  did awake with my foot tucked under the opposite thigh[2], though. There’s a decent chance that I slept with it in there all four hours that I actually slept night. Maybe that just made it angry?

  1. I entertain a hypothesis that dancers, in general, sleep in positions that suggest we’ve been dropped from a great height. My entirely scientific sample of, like, three ballet people has thus far confirmed said hypothesis. Weaknesses of this ongoing study include a subjective operational definition, poorly developed survey instruments, nonrandom sampling, and the complete lack of anything resembling a proper control group.  

All Forward Motion Counts?

Today’s class was a … you know what, the French do have a term for it: a melange. A mixed bag. Tutti frutti, perhaps.

Barre was good. Then bad. Then good. Then bad. I’ve mostly recovered my strength, anyway. There were some very nice balances, some very nice fondus … and some balances that weren’t, and some fondus that were really very much fondon’ts.

Adagio started out awkwardly and progressed into beauty (thank freaking G-d). The waltzy terre-a-terre thing was actually fairly nice going right (musicality! literally effortless triples! literally acceptable chaînés!) and terre-a-terrible going left. I mean, so bad that on my second run left (when I inserted myself back into the last group for a remedial run), my badness became contagious and BG, who was taking class with us, blanked on the second half of the combination[1].

  1. Okay, so I’m not actually sure that was really my fault, but it was funny. What I think really did us in was this: as we prepped our run, BWK said, “Really travel on those waltz turns, gentlemen!” and then we put everything into traveling through the waltz turns and promptly forgot what the heck was supposed to follow them. For once, I remembered first, and stage-whispered, “Piqué arabesque! Turn!

I then tweaked my mostly-healed toe and bailed out mid-run going left on the next thing, a very similar-but-rather faster terre-a-terre. I couldn’t get it taped fast enough to make it back in for the warm-up jumps, so at that point I was done. Meh.

So, basically, several points in the “progress” column and several in, depending on who you ask, either the “regress” or the “congress” column[2,3].

“If pro is the opposite of con, then the opposite of progress must be Congress.”
—Attributed to Mark Twain, anyway

  1. Yes, that was a cheap joke.
  2. No, I’m not sorry.

After, I joined AMS for swimming and roller-coasters (and inventing fake rides for an imaginary theme park of our own[4]), which may have been completely irresponsible, but which was also completely worth it. I now have a season pass to an amusement park that’s located barely more than a stone’s throw from my house and actually literally on the way home from ballet.

Since there’s a water park there where I can swim my brains out in a wave pool, I intend to use the bejeezus out of said season pass.

As is the way of these things, the season pass is less expensive than paying regular admission twice. It’s also comparable to or less expensive than a membership to various local swimming pools that don’t have waves and gigantic waterslides (or rollercoasters).

This solves my “How can I do cardio without overworking my quads?” problem quite nicely. I can now go swimming a few times each week … and if the occasional roller-coaster or two sneaks into the deal, that’s probably okay.

~

  1. For your amusement, here are some of our imaginary theme park rides:
  • The Wheel of Poor Decisions: Located close to our Unlimited Drinks Buffet, but at the furthest possible point from all restrooms, our giant Ferris wheel will cause you to question your life-choices.
  • The River of Punishment (AKA Time-Out River): There is no splashing on this contemplative lazy river-style tube float. Also, no talking, no smiling, and absolutely no horseplay or fun of any kind. You should use this time to sit in your tube and think about what you’ve done.
  • Hangry River: Located at maximum distance from all food service venues, Hangry River offers a ride on doughnut-themed inner tubes through a veritable degistive tract of slow, sinuous curves. Fear not: as you exit the ride, you will pass through our otherwise-inaccessible Hangry Valley Food Court, where you can stuff yourself on pizza, doughnuts, and ice cream to your heart’s content.

My Car Is Horrible Right Now; Brief Notes on Modern; Also, I Made A Thing

At the moment, my car smells like the inside of someone’s dance bag.

In fact, it smells like the inside of a dance bag belonging to someone who shoves his sopping-wet warm-ups into said bag after class and then forgets about them and goes home and the next day is like wtf did I do with my warmp-ups and then finds them when he goes to get his shoes out in ballet class the next day and shoves them back in his bag and forgets about them again until he finally remembers to bring the freaking bag in so he can wash them, which might take like an entire week[1, 3]. Ewww.

  1. I can neither confirm nor deny that this has actually happened to me[2].
  2. Possibly more than once.
  3. For the record, this problem is pretty specific to commuting by automobile, since taking public transit or riding a bike rather prevents leaving your dance bag in the car all week, doesn’t it? Though I did once leave legwarmers in my bike’s trunk bag ._. Good times, good times.

So I’m planning on going after my car with some carpet foam tonight. Possibly also mowing the lawn (completely unrelated, but still something I should probably do), but we’ll see.

Anyway, fairly good day in Modern today.

I am still madly in love with floorwork.

Perhaps I always will be? The lights (which are on sensors) clicked off about a quarter of the way through our floorwork combination, and we were just like, “Ahhhh.”

C&amp;W_kittens_(544411242)

TFW the lights go out during floorwork. (Credit: Paul Holloway from Birmingham, UK – C&W kittens, via Wikimedia Commons)

Modern dance naptime, you guys. For real. It’s as refreshing as a nap without all that annoying napping.

Meanwhile, I’m back to being able to withstand light pressure on the outside of my right foot, so it’s now possible to safety-release into various rolls from an upright position. It’s still iffy about turns, but TB (who has been in class with us a few times now—yay!) suggested a different way of taping it that might help, so I’m going to try that tomorrow and Thursday.

I’m also continuing to work on knowing where UP is, which is remarkably hard (TB finds this unsurprising about me; I suspect it’s part of the “ridiculously hypermobile dancer” package).

I’m also also continuing to work on not being so freaking terrible at scheduling myself. As such, I created a dance-specific calendar, and because I figured, “Why not?” I’ve posted it as a page. That way D can find it easily and figure out where in hell I’ve gone, which can be a problem when you’re married to a dancer who won’t stand still for 5 minutes.

Turns out that it loads desperately slowly (read: about the same level of urgency as an unhurried sloth), but whatevs. It’s a start. I thought about making a separate calendar page for intensives, but that seems excessive. Instead, I made two separate calendars with joint output. The intensives show up in a red font; everything else shows up in blue.

calendar

A visual representation of a visual representation of a conceptual representation of … anyway, it’s a calendar.

Why?

Because I’m crazy awesome. Or something like that.

That said, it turns out that I’ve YET AGAIN double-booked myself on so many levels it isn’t even funny, so now I’m trying to finagle my way out of the Cultural Dance workshop I can’t take because I’m in Lexington during half of it. That sort of forces me to take our AD’s masterclass, though, which I’ve been semi-dreading because, like, he’s our AD and therefore inherently terrifying.

In other news, I guess it’s time to Order All The Dance Belts before I jet off to Lexington and then Connecticut. I have three that I like well enough; I would really like to have five so I never, ever have to worry about whether or not they’ll dry on time.

I need to make up my mind whether to order another pair of Yumikos or to order some M. Stevens tights, also, mainly because there’s some lead time involved in acquiring another pair of Yumikos.

Though, come to think of it, my Very Own Personal Yumiko Rep is about to jet off to a tropical paradise for an intensive because he is, in fact, awesome (no, really; last year he got invited to dance at Jacob’s Pillow), so that might sort that for me. I’ll have to find out when he comes back from Ballet Paradise.

Forget The Moon, Memory’s A Harsh Mistress

Okay, confession taimz. 

In class on Thursday and Sunday, I caught my balancé in the mirror and thought, “Hey, that looks really nice!” And I gave myself a mental pat on the back[1].

  1. Don’t worry, my humility was immediately restored on Thursday when I couldn’t remember which was my left leg on the return trip and again on Sunday when I traveled too much, did too many loose-canon chaînes (which, for some reason, my legs insisted on doing in fifth), and lame-ducked myself right into a fecking doorframe.

This has been fairly consistent of late, at least when I remember to make note of which flavor of balancé I’m supposed to do. 

If, on the other hand, the choreography calls for leading off with arrière and instead you travel à gauche, your beautiful balancé will shortly turn into an awkward evasion[2] as you attempt not to crash into the poor soul who has rolled up to go behind you in your group.

  1. I, for one, favor the “jump straight up like you’ve just been stung” approach, particularly when you’re supposed to be channeling Balanchine. I feel it fits well with the glittering verticality of Mr. B’s style. For a more Russian approach, however, gracefully and dramatically collapsing to the ground might be a better fit: the Russian style places so much emphasis on expression and character, after all. Or I suppose one could simply try to remember the entire combination.  

    Either way, I’ve grown rather pleased with my balancés, and it seems that in the process I’ve forgotten what bastardy horrors they were to re-learn.

    Tonight, an old entry of Dorky’s reminded me of how gum-blisteringly weird balancés feel before you brute force  finagle your way into them, and how infuriating that can be given that they look like such a natural, breezy step. 

    Of course, I say all of this after first receiving the Secret Brute Force Balancé Hack from BG, and then being constantly corrected and guided and occasionally actually manhandled until my balancés, too, look springy, fluid, and effortless.

    Which, it turns out, more or less seems to sum up the way one learns ballet. Each step, each skill, is drilled into one’s bones by a process of repetition and refinement that begins with, “I’ll never find it! Never, never, never!” passes through the murky waters of, “I can do this, ish, but I suck at it,” to the Island of, “Hey, I don’t even really suck at this anymore!” and eventually to the distant port of, “I’m actually kinda good at this, though not as good as X Famous Dancer/Company Member /Turns Girl (to borrow someone from Yorksranter)/Adagio Wizard/Jumps Boy[3].”

    1. “Jumps Boy” is the role I’m growing into in my own cohort of Ballet Nerds. It sounds better than “Impulsive Grand Allegro Fanatic.” 

    And in time, you lose the savor of those early days of struggle. 

    And then Memory comes along and slaps you with a dead salmon and says, “Oh, you’re not so great! Here, have an outtakes reel of everything horrible you’ve ever done with balancés!” 

    And for a minute, you stand there gobsmacked, because Memory really is a first-rate b*tch sometimes. 

    And then you realize that the very fact that you can even be horrified at how very, very bad you were at balancés means that you’ve come far enough to know how very bad you were, which is at once terrifying (“One year from now, I am going to cringe so hard about literally everything I think I know how to do right now o____O'”) and edifying (“But you guys! Look how much LESS BAD I am now than I was one year ago!”).

    Oy, vey. Last year, amirite? 😂😂😂 (Not actually a balancé.)


    So there it is. Pretty much the whole reason that ballet is Not For Everyone (even though, in a greater sense, it is for everyone): you need a strong stomach for your own shortcomings; an ability to say, “Well feck this right out the window; it is literally the most unreasonable thing,” after class on Tuesday, then show up anyway on Wednesday, because somebody has to show the newcomers how it’s (not) done. 

    Back To The Log

    I think one source of my difficulties, this past week, was not eating enough, so I think I’m going to get back to logging everything for a couple of weeks.     

    We dined out with friends last night at a local Mexican place. I inhaled two sizeable burritos (together, they were about the equivalent one of Qdoba’s edible depth charges), which is way more than I can usually in one meal. Evidently, red warrior needed food badly[1].

    1. You guys, I played Gauntlet exactly once[2], aeons ago, as a kid. Why is this still so funny? (Blue elf shot the food!)
    2. I was terrible it, not least because I couldn’t stop laughing. 

    Anyway, between actually eating yesterday and foam-rolling my entire body and re-upping my Flonase, I felt better today, and class went fairly well. Some of it even went really well. 

    Oh, and I managed another quarduple. 

    Not smooth enough yet to call it a proper quadruple turn, but better than the last one. There was no hoppity-hop of shame this time, just, “One … Two … Threeeee … Oh, heck, I have time, Ffffffffoooouu…ur. Phew!” Actually landing properly fourth on the correct diagonal and everything. What the how, you guys.

    Evidently, it really does help if you just stay UP.  It’s the learning where UP actually is that’s the hard part. 

    Of course, after that I got excited and kept giving my turns too much force, so I’d have to forcibly stop them, then rotate so I was facing the correct corner. 

    Oops.   
    Going left, I made myself do a balance, then a single, just so I’d calm the heck down. 

    Also, today’s warm-up jumps ended with me going on merrily by myself, then asking, “Oh, there aren’t four more changements?” JMH just looked at me like, “U crazy.”

    Derp.
    Honestly, though, was just nice to feel capable(ish), which made it easier to relax and enjoy class. 

    On the other hand, my left leg doesn’t want to support eff all today, so there’s that. Adagio was glorious going right and a train wreck going left. Oh, well. 

    On the otber other hand, my efforts at using my eyes are working. 

    Anyway, this coming week I’ll make sure to Eat All The Things. My legs still feel kinda weak, but they’ll get there.

    ~

    PS: Bonus “sweat angel” pix. You’re welcome 😛

    It was Dr. Dance, in the studio, with the grand allegro!

    Product enlarged to show detail 😛

    Things That Can Make You Feel Weak

    …When you’re a dancer.

    The body of a dancer is a precision instrument[1]

    1. You guys, autocorrupt really wanted this to read, “…is a prison.” WHAT. THE. HECKING. HECK.

    It responds like a top-flight racing bike combined with a masterwork violin. To the dancer, it delivers sublimely subtle signals (okay, and sometimes obnoxiously loud ones) and offers exquisite controls.

    It’s also persnickety as all hell, though, to be honest.

    Like, there are a million things that can, for ballet purposes, just make you feel weak. For example:

    • To much sleep
    • Not enough sleep
    • Eating too much
    • Eating too little
    • Drinking too little
    • Drinking too much
    • Allergies
    • Allergy meds
    • Needing a day off
    • Taking more than one day off
    • Disruptions in the daily routine
    • Boredom with the daily routine
    • Overtraining
    • Undertraining
    • Too much class (see: overtraining)
    • Not enough class (see: Chicago, The Musical [mildly NSFW: coarse language :P])
    • Yesterday’s grand allegro
    • The fact that we haven’t done grand allegro since Taft was in office
    • Etc.

    So, basically, to sum it all up: like everything else in ballet, keeping the body strong and tuned-up is all about desperately fighting for balance whilst making it all look effortless.

    Feeling inspired yet? o_O’

    This post brought to you by a conversation with BW that more or less concluded with both of us giving up on trying to figure out what might be making me feel weak, because obviously the answer was YES.

    And the numbers 1 through 8, because #dancermath.

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