Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Hardest Thing

Last night's 2.5 hour block of class was taught by a substitute instructor. She's a nice gal, one that often attends those classes herself, but is obviously a ballerina extraordinaire. Like, seriously ass-rockin'ly good. Does those one-footed relevés en pointe without so much as a twitch of difficulty while I laboriously haul myself up there using 10% muscle power and 90% barre. That sort of thing.
It's okay to have subs, but they do throw off your groove. You learn to expect a certain type of combination with a certain type of port de bras to a certain type of music and then BAM! Suddenly you are trying to figure out what the hell is going on and you haven't even made it past tendus at the barre, yet. And you spend the next hour+ sort of shaking your head and guessing and/or flailing around hoping you hit a ballet position of some sort by blind luck.
Anyway.
When we would universally botch the hell out of an entire combination this teacher would give us another shot at it (or torture us by making us repeat something we obviously can't figure out? You be the judge.) which meant we ended up doing quite a few things over and over again. After watching us glide gracelessly across the floor for the requisite bourées en pointe she stopped us with a question. "So. Who here loves doing bourées?" and everyone just sort of stood there, listening to the crickets chirp (honestly, I enjoy them more than most things en pointe, but after two hours of class there are few things in the world that I like). SO! "Okay, you are doing them again. AND I want to see those happy faces and softened arms. You're performing, guys! You can do this! Smile!"
I suppose we smiled. Or perhaps we just grimaced in a convincing approximation. 
I think smiling is probably the hardest thing about ballet.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Changing Seasons

In traditional Chinese medicine the closest translation of Rheumatoid Arthritis is fengshi bing, literally "wind-damp disease".
It's actually been fairly warm, here, despite the season. It will get cold for two days and then be 80* for the next solid week. The rheumy cat and I would just like it to settle on something so we can put the correct number of blankets on the bed and turn the heat on or off for more than six hours at a time. We wouldn't mind, really, if it wanted to be cold. We own three heating pads and an electric blanket, and this pile of old love letters scrounged out of my parent's attic ain't gonna burn itself.


Saturday, November 1, 2014

Maybe She's Born With it... Maybe it's Photoshop

From this Huffington Post article: Anna Pavlova in a famous picture you've probably seen before. But now in high enough resolution to see the century-old "photoshop" job on her pointe shoes! She was famous for having her photos retouched to make her feet look extra pointy and small, because she got a certain amount of crap for wearing modern-style shoes. This same crap-flinging tendency still exists in ballet, of course, but now it's mostly aimed at inovations like plastics and anything that reduces your pain level. Because dancers are crazy mofos.
Anyway, I just thought this was great.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Minor Improvements That Must be Fought For

Sometimes breakthroughs are exceptional. A moment of clarity and suddenly you are doing something you've never dreamed of.
But, let's face it, mostly you get tiny imperceptible improvements over the course of three solid months of work and the final product can really only justifiably be called "less bad than it was".
Take this petite allegro combination that the students have all come to dread. It's not even complicated, it's just glissades, jetés, and assemblés. But it's quick and it changes directions halfway through and pretty much everyone hates it. Last night, for the first time since we've been working on it (ages! Ages have been put in to this damn thing!) I watched myself in the mirror and felt like it wasn't pitiably terrible, just kind of a wreck. There was, perhaps, a slight bounce in my proverbial bungee. PERHAPS.

Also new: apparently the studio where I take ballet has been voted "best yoga studio" in the city. Which is interesting, I must say, because they don't actually offer any yoga classes. We all think they should accept the award and put it on the front desk just to mess with people.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Stretch Ribbon

I like using stretch ribbon on my pointe shoes. Forget like, I was instructed to use it by the woman who fit me for the shoes. I have a terrible tendency toward tendonitis (thank you, rheumatism) and the stretchy ribbons take a lot of the pressure off your achilles. The kind I got at the time was great, but the kind you can buy from Discount Dance, frankly, sucks. It pulls and shreds and looks like an utter disaster after being tied once or twice. It's also too flimsy to offer even the slightest support. It's like wearing ribbons strictly for looks. Anyway. So I've been doing a few searches online to see what I can find.
You see this stuff?
This stuff that is sold as "stretch ribbon" basically everywhere right now? This stuff that you can buy little headbands and hair ties made out of for several bucks a pop*? This is not stretch ribbon. This is "fold-over" elastic. It's made for lingerie. You fold it over the edge of a piece of fabric to finish it. It can be found gracing bras, slips, and underpants, but you don't recognize it because it's folded over. Please, people. PLEASE stop calling this stretch ribbon. It's making the quest for the right pointe shoe accessory down right interminable. 

*also, it's super cheap. Like, really really cheap. Stop paying so much for it made in to hair ties! It's ridiculous!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Rose by Any Other Name (with too many asides)

My pointe class recently acquired a new student. A 12-13 year old. The only trouble? We have the same name. Now, my parents were kind enough not to name me Sarah or Christian (yeah, so I kinda grew up in California's bible belt and there were a LOT of Christians, believe it or not) so it's rare for me to be in that situation. Sometimes at the theater we get a character with my name and then I complain for an entire month (you know how even when you aren't really listening to someone's conversation you can instantly recognize your name being spoken and you sort of go on the alert? Yeah, so imagine that happening every twenty minutes for eight hours a day), but another girl with my name? So rare. It happened to me once at work, when we had an intern considerably younger than me (though she pronounced it sliiiiightly differently). My name, okay? My name? No one had ever heard of it until I was ten. Then ERRYONE started using it and it's become really common for people under 20. So this was bound to happen eventually. Still. It's weird. And this other RPrin and I will be doing our thing and the teacher will shout a correction to one of us... and then we both try to do it, regardless of whether or not there was anything wrong with us in the first place... and then everyone gets confused and the teacher goes "AAARGH! No! Not RPrin! The other RPrin!"
Anyway, it's obnoxious.
Last week after MiniRPrin had gone home and I was lingering to fit skirts for a few girls who are doing a performance at a dentist's convention (I know, right?) my teacher called me "the real RPrin"
That's right, little girl. I'm the REAL one.
Snerk.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Well, she impresses ME, anyway

My 10 year old niece is utterly unimpressed with me. I love her to the moon and back, and she loves me, too. BUT. But she just doesn't think I'm all that exciting, let's be honest. I had always thought that when she found out what I do for a living that she'd be impressed. And two seasons ago when I was working on an incredibly beautiful stage version of her favorite Disney movie was she awestruck? No. And yesterday when I took time out from sewing pointe shoe ribbons to show her how Aunt RPrin can stand on her tip-toes? Totally didn't even bat an eyelash.
KIDS! What the hell, yo?