A while ago my teacher was instructing us to correct our posture and hold our arms at the proper angle. Keep your elbows lifted, she said, so that you don't crush your beautiful sleeves! And a few of the girls tittered, because come on, we are wearing leotards and booty shorts up in here. She went on to explain that during the reign of Louis XIV (The Sun King) in France ballet was popularized as a court dance for the lords and ladies. They were all, of course, wearing the very finest and frilliest and most cumbersome of clothing, because that was how people rolled back then (like stilettos and strapless gowns are really all that much better?). Big skirts with big panniers. big sleeves with delicate lace work and silk embroidery. And you didn't want to crush that stuff, right? So you stood the heck up and held your arms out so you wouldn't smash anything. It's not like you could take that dress to the fluff 'n fold.
Anyhow, I stumbled upon this photo recently of a court gown of the era. And check it out, yo:
I've had two dance teachers tell me I have nice feet, now. I am not sure exactly what that means, but I will take it! I have noticed that my bare feet are looking stronger. The arches are more defined, the toes are stronger and more coordinated. Wearing heels is rare for me these days but easier and less painful when I do. They've taken to acquiring big and slightly gross calluses, but meh. I don't wear a lot of sandals, anyway, right?
You have to take the rough with the smooth, is what I'm sayin'. Also, I
could use some smooth right now (oh man, don't get me started) so I will
take what I can get :D
Here are my nice feet. Oh yeah, baby, that's right.
So tonight we had a different teacher and she had us do this... thing... before rond de jambes. Where you swing your leg forward kind of like a battement and then back through first position and to the back. Swing your straight leg forward, then swing it back, then bend the leg (attitude, I guess) in front, then straight through first, then bent behind. That wasn't a good description. Sorry. Just imagine your leg being a pendulum that swings from the hip.
It was EXACTLY what I needed. A way to warm up my dicky hip joints without putting any strain on my even dickier knees. Perfect. It was also kind of fun. Because kicking has unexpectedly become my favorite thing on the planet. And OH MY GOD when I did my grands battements to the side my extension was AMAZING.
That is, amazing for me, anyway. Not like I-can-do-the-splits-now amazing or anything.
I was sort of surprised. Like WHUUUUT? Did that really just happen? WOWZA. And the hip popping wasn't as bad as it usually is.
Okay, someone needs to tell me that I don't need a rehearsal tutu. Come on, guys. Tell me that I don't have the room to store it because it is huge and awkward and I live in a one bedroom apartment. Tell me that I should be focusing my creative energy on projects that will earn money. Tell me that I would never wear the silly thing anyway so I shouldn't bother. Or that my funds are limited because I have two sick cats.
Or else this lady right here (*gesture*) is buying 14 yards of diamond net on Tuesday.
So I found this amazing tutu picture and I had to share it. It's a classical platter tutu but instead of (or in addition to) a decorative plate over the net skirt it is covered in beautiful peacock feathers. The colors here are just amazing. Check this out, guys:
Okay, but I found it on Pinterest and it had been pinned twelve million times and linked from other people's links and blogs and tumblrs, so I don't really know where it came from. The farthest back I can follow it is this site. Anyway, if anyone knows who the image belongs to please tell me as I am happy to spread the lovin' all around. And if you own it and you are super pissed that I have it up just let me know and I will take it down. But, seriously? It's all over the place, dudes, so good luck with that.
(PS: no really, I am kidding, if it's yours and you object just drop me a line, 'kay? I might talk all big and badass but I am a total smush bucket, yeah?)
So, while we do changements facing the mirror I look myself over. And there are a lot of changements going on, so I get to take in the whole picture. And let's just say, the last few times, I have noticed a bit of... uh... wiggle in my walk. So to speak. Flubby thigh stuff kind of getting jiggy with it. It's a little sad. And every single time I think to myself "oh holy cats! That is awful! DIET". But then I go home and I'm all "BLT!" and I wake up the next day and I say to myself "Cookies for breakfast!" because I Do Not Understand dieting. And, basically, cake mix cookies are the easiest thing on the planet to make?
So I have read a couple of articles lately that say you should not stretch before a workout. One even included this amazing and colorful quote from none other than fitness guru Jack LaLanne : "Warming up is the biggest bunch of horseshit I've ever heard in my life. Fifteen minutes to warm up! Does a lion warm up when he's hungry? 'Uh-oh, here comes an antelope. Better warm up.' No! He just goes out and eats the sucker."
But as any dancer can tell you, stretching is important! Right?
Well, maybe yes, maybe no. My teacher advocates stretching (at least the calves and thighs if nothing else) after class/running/etc. And stretching is important for overall flexibility and extensions, yes?
Well, it turns out you should really only be stretching after you work out, rather than before, and not just plain cold, which is what I usually do on days when I have no class. But... hmm. I can't really jog or even walk much these days. I labor along with a very short and relatively mild bike ride most Friday mornings, but we are talking a few miles at most (as opposed to the 20+ I used to be able to do). And my hip joints pop so very uncomfortably and disconcertingly every time they hit a développé or grand battemant. So maybe I will just keep up with the hip stretches before class and then only do the other stuff afterward?
Ugh. So confusing.
A study in the different meanings of the word "pink". My Pink leather motorcycle jacket (yes, I have a motorcycle license. It is much easier than ballet and is only slightly more likely to result in a broken ankle. Sorry, Mom!) versus my Ballet Pink leather dance slippers.
Of the top 9 Google search terms that direct traffic to this blog 6 are about Princess Leia. One is about Hugh Laurie.
How about them apples?
I'm exhausted today. I don't know why, really. After Friday's class I felt okay. And then Saturday my husband and I went out picking up trash along the river for a little while, which involves walking and hiking up and down inclines. But I didn't feel too bad after that, either. Sunday I managed to not get any sleep (I could blame the fact that we're adjusting my meds again, I could blame the pain that started up in my knee, but really it is because I was on a Pinterest tear. Oh joy! A place to pin all my favorite pictures of shoes and ballerinas! It's like it was made just for me! Sigh.) so I felt kind of awful all day yesterday. And there was this horrible deep ache in my right knee. Worse than usual. But I spent some time giving myself a deep massage in the area that hurt the worst (let me tell you, it's not a soothing massage. It's like finding a spot that hurts and then shoving on it so hard and for so long that you need to go take a lie down. Remarkably, however, it helps.) so I haven't been as bad today.
But class kicked me to the curb. Fondu usually kills me, but this was a remarkably long stretch of fondues. Oh man. KILLER.
And then there were 48changements. I tried to do them low and as gently as possible.
But Jesus. It's like she's trying to kill us.
Ballet is NOT for pussies.
So, I have special underpants that I save just for ballet. I know, I know, it sounds stupid. And, if you want to be serious about it, like professionals and students who are headed for ballet stardom, then you don't wear any panties at all.
I don't know. I just wasn't born to be a freeballer (or whatever the female equivalent would be. I can't think of anything that isn't SUPER RUDE). My mom was a supporter of the underpantless cause, but we were still trundled in to them as kids. And then a terrible thing happened when I was about 3 or 4. I was put in rhumba panties (you know, with the ruffles on the butt). And it was all over. I freakin' LOVED my rhumba panties. I was especially fond of a bright red pair. I wanted to wear those things constantly. Oh man. I've been an underpants fan ever since. I love fun underpants! So I never really go au naturel, or Scots proper if you prefer. And I am just not comfortable with clothes on without the panty barrier.
I could claim it was my professional wisdom speaking (underpants are a pretty important part of keeping your clothes clean and long-lasting. A bit of vajay goes a long way, as they say. Poetry unintentional. But run with it!) but to be honest I just feel a little squicky without my undies (you know. Stuff happens down there).
So anyhoo, I have these perfect underoos for dance class. They aren't specially made dance underpants (yes, they make those) or anything, they are just super sleek and snug and made with flatlocked elastic that is micro thin. So, no panty lines. They are awesome for skinny jeans and leggings, too. Cuz there ain't NO WAY I am wearing a thong. Okay, seriously? I hate to get sidetracked and all, but I have to rant a little about thongs. They are evil and wrong for anything other than personal sexy times. I used to work in a maternity store (it was HORRIBLE) and our hottest sellers were packs of maternity thongs. REALLY? Come on ladies. Be serious, now. What the what? Sheesh. Okay. I am done being sidetracked now.
The whole point was that I got these silly fabulous underpants at Costco about a year ago (which means they don't have them anymore, of course. That is how Costco rolls) and so I have to be super careful to sort them out of my laundry and pack them up with my leotards and tights so that I don't get caught half an hour before class running around the house like a crazy chicken shrieking "WHERE ARE MY UNDERWEAR?? YOU HAVE THEM DON'T YOU? I KNOW YOU DO! GIVE THEM BACK!"
Especially because I'm the only one home at the time...
313 page views in the last 9 hours? WHUUUUT? I always sleep through the interesting stuff.
I don't even know where they came from as the referring ip addresses seem to trail in to nowhere. Any-old-who... hello to all of you, where ever you came from!
That was what my teacher had to tell me at one point tonight.
So, I took a different class tonight than I usually do. One that is just a liiiiiiittle bit more advanced than mine. Like, six months and I will have this stuff down, but right now not so much. This was my first experience at attempting chaînés turns at any tempo other than painfully slow. There has got to be an in-between stage, though, because if I try to do them fast I just whirl away like an out of control ground flower on the 4th of July.
Barre was good. Solid. And then there were combinations in which we had to insert pas de bourrée in the middle of doing a bunch of other stuff. And do port de bras while also trying to remember which foot is supposed to be doing something. Anyway, that was interesting. Challenging. I am going to seize "challenging" instead of saying "oh mercy me, but it was so terribly difficult and I was all aflutter. Now, I must go lay down, as I think I have the vapors".
Or. You know. Something. I think that one got away from me.
Also, still struggling with assemblé. I am not getting better at it. Because I HATE IT. And so I don't practice it. See, I finally feel like I have gotten the hang of turning pas de bourrée, and I even feel confident about not tripping over myself too much during waltz steps. But, I practiced those. Because they are fun! And they look interesting! And they don't suck! Not like assemblé. Because assemblé is dumb and poopy and smells like pee.
That's right, assemblé. You suck.
Assemblé can't come to my birthday party, and that's that.
NOBODY LIKES YOU, ASSEMBLÉ.
So I had a really great class on Monday. Which is nice, because last week felt so terrible. I get really clumsy around my period, maybe that is what was going on. Too many hormones. But seriously, Monday was nice. There were only 9 or so people in class, if that. We've regularly been topping 15, so the extra attention and space at the barre was great. Trying to grand battement when you have long legs (I don't! I actually have short legs for my height. I'm like 90% torso. But still!) and everyone is standing so close you feel like you are going to kick them straight in the rump (even when we are standing at an angle) is no good. I like to bust loose with my grand battements. They are my favorite thing ever! The last thing I want to do is worry about kicking the girl in front of me in the tuckus. Tuckus. I just had to look up that word to see if I was spelling it wrong. For the record I wasn't, but it isn't in the dictionary or thesaurus! I did find this fabulous definition of butt, though!
Definition of BUTT
the part of the body upon which someone sits <butts in the seats and keep quiet, or I'm turning this car around>
Be careful not to kick anyone in the fundament at the barre!
Oh man. I am not 12 years old, I swear! I think I had grown out of booty humor long before twelve. Perhaps I am 8. 8 is pretty good! Second grade! I had an American Girl doll and hadn't discovered boys and pretending to be sick so I could stay home from school, yet.
In any case, I am already excited about Friday's class. WOO!
Where is my waist? I know I had one. I left it right here (*gesture*). Who took my waist? Look, I won't be mad or anything. I will turn around and close my eyes and when I count to ten someone had better have left my waist on my desk.
So I have a couple of cats, and they are both very much Up In Our Bidness. But one of them (they are both about 8 or 9 years old) appears to be the most inflexible cat on the entire planet. Cats are supposed to be sleek and agile, right? But she is clumsy and kind of awkward. We occasionally complain at her because sometimes she just doesn't bother cleaning her posterior. And she sleeps on the bed, so SOMEONE has to clean it, right? Anywho. I have been watching her lately and I think the problem is just that she is not even vaguely flexible. To clean her rump she has to dig her claws in to a soft surface and then hike herself around to get in position. I wonder if maybe she had some traumatic injury as a kitten, or if she is just developing cat arthritis.
Because I know the feeling.
Not butt licking, of course ( I shouldn't have to add that "of course"). But, I have an awfully hard time getting up and around these days myself. Ballet is helping the flexibility, but my knees are shot all to heck. And I refuse to take showers because I think showers are gross. So I have to figure out how to get myself out of a bath tub on a regular basis. Right now I have a clawfoot tub with the original plumbing, which means exposed pipes that travel between the faucet and the shower head. So I can just grab on to the pipe right over the faucet, and sort of HAUL my ancient and creaky patoot out of the tub. I shudder to think about what will happen when we move. I am hoping, here is what I am hoping, I am hoping that the house will have been lived in by a very old woman. And so there will be one of those bars in the tub. For old folks.
They say you are only as old as you feel.
I think that makes me about NINETY.
edited to add: I forgot, this is the internet, so including a picture of said cat is practically required. The inflexible cat is madame on the left:
Oh my goodness!
You should read this article, it isn't very long and there is a video! With kind of not very good costumes! Anyway, I think it's interesting that the same music was considered awful while being danced and revolutionary and brilliant when the dancers were removed from the equation. Also, did you know that Stravinski hated the Rite Of Spring bit in Fantasia? I can't say it's my favorite part, but that is mostly because the 1950s idea of dinosaurs is all blocky and brown. Like boxy T-rex battling a big lumpy stegosaurus! RAR!
Okay so I don't watch TV much. I mean, I have a TV. I watch Netflix streaming. I watch reruns of Star Trek TNG and Princess Tutu and the like. I have lots of TV shows on DVD. And my husband might conceivably arrange to acquire in a perfectly legal and aboveboard way the latest episodes of Doctor Who and Sherlock.
But as for modern American television programming, I am a little in the dark. I don't want or need cable or a mini dish, so I basically have to take your word for it if you say some new show is great.
So everyone has been talking, for years now, about House. And how I ought to watch it because it's AMAZING OMG. So. Fine. I tried it out. I was at my parent's house doing laundry and there was a House marathon running, so why not?
First and foremost. Hugh Laurie. I have nothing against Hugh Laurie per se. Hugh Laurie + Stephen Fry is a joy to behold. But his American accent is Deeply Annoying. Also, I am sorry, but to me he will always be George:
And so taking him seriously just isn't going to happen. I know, I know, House is supposed to be funny. And he's a good actor with great comedic sense. But. That doesn't make his character at all likable. He's just a mildly amusing SON OF A BISCUIT. You know what I mean?
But the point of this whole post was that during the House marathon that I forced myself to watch while using mom's exercise bike there was an episode with lots of discussion about autoimmune disorders.
And OH BOY. I am SO GLAD to learn via the medium of vastly intelligent medical procedural televison that autoimmune diseases can be instantly diagnosed by these two fabulous methods:
1) put some blood in a test tube. Then plop a paper clip in the tube. Shake. You have now diagnosed your disease. And,
2) Go outside on a cold day. If you have an autoimmune disease you will instantly feel better.
Wow. Thanks House! I am so glad to know that it is easy and amazingly fast like that! I don't know why my own doctors have spent the last five years pooking around with blood tests and x rays and experimental treatment when it is actually SO EASY.
Thanks, TV! You are amazing!
Okay. So when I decided that I needed to take ballet lessons or I would die inside I had to cut a certain amount of chaff from my budget. Especially because last year I had a real job, and now I quotey-quote "work from home" which is sort of like saying "I am unemployed" only I have to feel guilty about sleeping in. Anyways. That $500 I spent on shoes last year was not going to be repeated this year (for the record, though, I got some REALLY AWESOME shoes last year) and the ridiculously expensive dolls were just going to have to wait.
Okay, okay, I admit it. There. Are you happy now? I admit it freely. I am a dolly addict. I don't mean creepy porcelain dolls or collector barbies or anything else that accrues any sort of value over the years. I mean gorgeous and stupidly expensive resin ball jointed dolls from Asia. If you aren't already familiar with them, you need to go look at this site. You will have a heart attack. Especially when you look at the prices and realize that those $600 dolls are BASE prices. Hair, eyes, and wardrobe sold separately. *Siiiiiiiiiigh* (It's not as silly as it sounds, I actually earn a pretty significant percentage of my living by making and selling teeny tiny 1/6 scale corsets and underwear. No, I am not joking.)
Anyway, like I said, ballet is expensive. So, sorry Too and Bee-A, but you will have to wait.
And just as I had finally made this decision and was feeling very secure about it?
I discovered these:
Do you hear that sound? It's the sound of my soul crying.
Much less shaky this week. Also a touch less sweaty, though still *too* sweaty, IMHO. But how much of that is that I didn't take the zoloft this morning, and how much of it is that we had a substitute teacher who made us do different stuff?
I am feeling very neutral about tonight. I felt weirdly awkward and annoyed at some of my fellow students. Maybe the zoloft makes me a better and more tolerant person. Or maybe that woman really *was* being deeply obnoxious?
The world may never know.
I dunno. Tonight I felt like... like there was some competition going for who was the most fabulous. Or something. Like I said, I don't know. I was feeling extra spazzy and like I was miles behind everyone else. I mean, it doesn't matter, right? No one cares how good or bad you are at what you are doing. No one is going to look down on you because you keep screwing up the combinations. Or will they? This is the first time I have asked myself that.
You know the big pink title on my main blog page? The one up there (*gestures up*) that says "Rheumatic Princess"? It can't decide what font it wants to be. Every time I log in it is something new. Mostly it just switches between two fonts, but it is pretty weird. Blogger, WTF?
A couple of days ago I went ahead and whipped up another shorty leotard, exactly the same as the last one. They are pretty fast when you have the pattern down. For people who are curious about that sort of thing, here is what the pattern looks like. It is the style that has seams running down the center front and center back rather than down the sides:
So I am letting my hair grow out.
Ugh. I have, for the past 9 years or so, gone in every five months and had my hair cut and layered and worked to within an inch of it's life so that I could sport short, wavy, pixie hair. It looks good on me. And it takes no time at all to care for or style. Like, wake up, muss it around with your fingers, and off you go. Who needs a hair brush? But, ahem, I am broke. So $60 hair appointments are not even remotely in my budget. My budget is ballet and health insurance right now. Oh, and taking my aging cats to the vet. Sorry Anita, hairstylist that I love, you are not on my books right now.
So, out it goes. And right now it's at an annoying in-between phase where I have to bundle up the back of it with a clip for class, but still have to wear a headband to keep the layers around my face out of my eyes. Sooner or later it's going to have to go in to some sort of wannabe ballerina bun. Most of the gals in class are sporting high ponytails but yucka. I mean on me, it's a bad look. My face is sort of sticky-outy in the nose area if you catch my drift. So I am going to have to relearn how to keep it out of the way.
When I first took ballet I had looooooong hair and every single time I would braid it to look, well, like this actually:
my style icon: Princess Leia on Hoth
I had it DOWN, man. I could whip that thing together in five minutes. Two hair elastics, half a dozen bobby pins, and I was GOOD to GO. But... I am so very lazy now. So. Very. Very. Lazy. I hate having long hair these days and I'm only doing it grudgingly with the intention of selling that shiznit for some serious bread in a couple of years. Until then, I suffer in hair kerchiefs every night and my husband whines about not being able to find me under all the hair. MEH.
I'd like to take a little moment here to thank all the wonderful ballet blogs that have added Rheumatic Princess to their blogrolls. If you haven't yet, make sure you check out Adult Beginner, 4Dancers, Barre Barre Black Sheep, and Leotards and the Buns in Them.
Also, if you know of any others that I have missed, or if you own one that I didn't mention, let me know! I find it all exciting and lovely, really. And a little embarrassing! But also really cool! Thanks, guys!
Did you know that it is international tutu day? Yeah, me neither. I am not sure what you are supposed to do on tutu day. Wear a tutu? Make a tutu? Watch a ballet with tutus? I dunno. Support tutu awareness? Save the tutus! Go door to door asking for donations for the tutu research and education fund. Tutu-in? Where you all gather at the capital building wearing tutus and hold up signs like "give tutus a chance!"
I was looking at my bucket list about 6 months ago and realized that making a full-on classical (platter type) tutu was on there. I would get on it, but I live in this tiny little apartment that is about three rooms too small for all the stuff we have in it. Someday, though. What I will do with it after it's done is anyone's guess. I suppose I can just wear it around because WHY THE HECK NOT, am I right?
Anyway, so I guess today I will take a lunch break to watch a couple of episodes of Princess Tutu. There, that sounds festive enough.
So... what is the thing with wearing pointe shoes to beginning ballet class? There are three ladies (out of about 14-15 some nights) in my class that are wearing pointe shoes, now. One has them deshanked that I know of, and says she is wearing them to build up foot strength without going up in them. One girl is definitely wearing those things as is, because she is Showing Off before class (I am not saying that in a snarky way. If you've got it, babe, flaunt it). The other... I am not sure because I don't pay much attention to what other people are doing in class to be honest (I just always notice that they are Super Candy Pink). It's all focusing on keeping my own sorry butt from falling over.
Anyway. I was just wondering what is up with that.
I think, if I had pointe shoes that were fully functional I would probably be too careful of them in a regular class. Not want to go in to demi pointe too much because I would not want the shanks to get broken before their time had come.
Also, I want my future first pointe shoe purchase to be The Event Of The Season. With maybe a glass of (pink!) champagne afterward and blurry iphone photos posted to facebook with comments like "HOLY SH*T LOOK AT WHAT I JUST BOUGHT GUYS I AM A SUPER TWIRLY BALLERINA NOW OMG"
But, anyway. That is just me.
So the most embarrassing thing happened in class on Monday.
I get sweaty. I mean, sure, of course, everyone gets sweaty in class, right? That is how you know you are doing it right. And the weather in my little slice of "paradise" (quotation marks intentional) has been unseasonably warm and gross, lately. But I wasn't just glowing. There was nothing ladylike about this. I was sweating so much that halfway through barre it was actually, honest to god, dripping off of me. So gross. And my leotard? The new lighter weight one that I just made? SOAKED. Like, everywhere. All the way totally freakin' soaking wet. Even my headband was soaked through. I did feel like it was a particularly challenging barre, but seriously. Yucka. I came home and greeted my husband and he asked me not to touch him, okay? Like, yeah.
I think maybe it is the Zoloft. I know, I can't blame everything in the whole world on zoloft (sure I can! This weather? It is TOTALLY ZOLOFT'S FAULT) but the thing did say increased sweating was a possibility. Well, it also says prolonged erections are a possibility, but I certainly don't have any of those.