Saturday, March 31, 2012

Poof, Puff, Pizazz!

The problem with ballet is familiarization. You stare at tutus and pointe shoes long enough and you slowly start to think of that sort of thing as... well... pretty. It's like when I worked at a fabric store. It wasn't a Jo-Anns type place it was a real fabric store that specialized in bridal, tailoring, and formal wear. And we had racks and cases and binders chock-full of sequined lace, Swarovski crystals, tiaras, tutu netting, etc. All the theaters in town, as well as all the pageant moms (shudder) and ice-skating costumiers shop there. And when I started I was kind of icked out by the bling, but after five years I had fully embraced the glitter and glam and I now paillet far more stuff than I probably should. I like to think I do it tastefully, but it is all relative. Anyway.
So. Ballet.
I was looking through best-and-worst-dressed celebrity lists (don't judge me!) and came across this on one of the latter:
 This is some variety of popular music star? I don't know, I haven't listened to radio outside of a grocery store in YEARS.

And anyway, I kind of liked it? I am not a big-skirt person. I kind of inwardly cringe whenever I attend a wedding with a bride in a giant poofy quinceanera skirt. My own wedding dress had a petticoat but was certainly not so big it forced my husband to stand several feet away from me. But six months of looking at tutus on the internet and I think this is adorable, guys.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Famous People Who Were Dancers, Yo

Moira Shearer is kind of a no-brainer. She was
an actual ballerina with the Royal Ballet. But
you already knew that.

Audrey Hepburn. I mean, we all love Audrey anyway,
but isn't that a cool thing to know? I guess she was
in a movie that required dancing at one point, called
The Secret People. Blonde hair in that movie, though. Ick.

Leslie Caron. Known best for An American in Paris,
which I have to admit I have never seen and had only
heard of in a vague way. She co-stars in one of my
favorite movies of all time, though, Father Goose with Cary Grant.
You should watch it.

Brigitte Bardot. I love this photo. She's rockin' some 
serious eye makeup and straight bustin' out a cig in the studio.
For reals, girl, that shit will not help your dancing.

James Dean. Whuuuut? I know, right? Also, forget James for a seond
and check out the dude that is third in the row. What are you doing,
dude? I can see that the teacher has crammed herself in front of him to correct the 
person ahead of him, but that is really no excuse for whatever the
heck this guy is doing.

Summer Glau. Which should not surprise you at all if
you have seen Firefly. She straight kicks it with some peasants while
wearing big old boots in one episode. I assumed that was why
she got the job in the first place.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Red Shoesies Rockin' The House

So I earn my money by making things. But sometimes I get SUPER BORED of making clothes and working with big swathes of fabric and I just want to do something different for a day or two. So I make juggling bags and art dolls and purses and stuff and put them up online. Anyway, enough back story! Here is what I made last week while I was putting off doing real work:

 Vicky Page, guys! With tiny red pointe shoes, guys! Yeah, I know, right?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Of Pink Satin Slippers

Ballet is extremely tradition-based. Not just the actual dancing part, but everything else as well. The etiquette. The way you address a teacher, the way you end class with a bow and a round of applause (who are we applauding? Our teacher for giving a great class? Our stereo stand-in for a theoretical pianist? Ourselves? Way to go, us! Woo!) and last but not least the way we dress.
Thankfully lycra was invented and we don't have to wear baggy knitted stockings and knee-length dresses to class these days. BUT why wear tights at all? Isn't that a little silly? And the shoes! Now, don't get me wrong, I love the shoes. You all know by now how I feel about the shoes. But why the heck do we insist on wearing pink satin shoes with ribbons? It isn't really all that practical. There are better ways to do these things. Elastic happens, guys. But we still wear pink satin shoes with ribbons. Why, you may ask? Because when ballet really hit its stride as a performance art that is how women dressed. Like, all the time.  Here is what a pair of lady's shoes looked like, circa 1830*:
Remind you of anything?

*the picture of the silk slippers came from this site.

Friday, March 16, 2012

"The Very Mesh of Reality" would be an awesome band name

So we never get out of class without doing chassés and glissades. Even if it means we have to go an extra ten minutes we are going to be doing those chassés and glissades. I am beginning to think they are some sort of universal constant. Like, if we don't do glissades even ONCE then the entire fabric of the universe will tear itself apart. I have done six solid months of glissades and chassés, guys. I don't know about the more advanced classes, but us low-down schmoes are holding the very mesh of reality on our backs, here. It's such a heavy burden!
I assume we do them so freakin' much because they take a lot of practice, but also because they get your business all workin' and suddenly BAM! you are getting a cardiovascular workout whether you wanted one or not. I am certainly seeing my endurance improve if nothing else.
We line up in columns and then glissade across the floor in small groups. In my last class I was seriously booking. Great leaping strides across the floor. "Wow, Rheumatic Princess* is really moving!" says my teacher "She wants to get this excercise over with, am I right?"

*that isn't my real name. My beloved parents were crazy, but not that crazy.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Streeeeeetch it Out

Okay, so for the last couple of weeks I haven't been doing daily stretches, just to see how that would work out for me. Because they say you shouldn't be doing them cold, right? So. My final analysis: YUCK. Basically, while I love not having to spend ten minutes on the floor every day (which I always put off, and then put off again, and then suddenly it is midnight) my turn-out is crappier, my extension is crappier, and just trying to stand in fifth is kind of awkward and painful. SO forget that. Seriously. The hip warm up jobby is still awesome, though!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

My Humps My Humps My Lady Lumps, As They Say

I was just checking my page stats. Apparently "rheumatology hot booties" is a Google search term that leads to Rheumatic Princess. I am unsure what it implies about my readers, I just thought I would share!

la danse est la raison

Joseph Campbell in his book The Masks of God: Oriental Mythology relates an interesting incident... A western sociologist had been taken to every Shinto shrine in Japan, and had become very confused by this uniquely Japanese form of worship. “He had observed the stately procession of the priests in their white vestments and black headdresses and black wooden shoes. He had heard the eerie risings of the spirit-like music, the pluckings of the koto, the alternating light and heavy drumbeats, the wind instruments and great gongs mingling with the sounds of wind and pines and sea. He had watched the heavily garbed dancers, some masked, others not, moving in dreamlike trance against intoned utterances. Then the whole thing would be over, the ritual done. But what did it mean?
“Finally at a lawn party in a Japanese garden of rocks and lakes and pagodas and paths leading into unforeseen vistas, he confronted a Shinto priest with his dilemma. ‘I’ve been to your Shinto shrines and I’ve seen quite a few of your ceremonies’, he explained, ‘but I still don’t get your ideology or your theology.’ The Japanese priest pondered the visiting sociologist’s question and then respectfully answered with a smile. ‘We do not have ideology. We do not have theology. We dance.’ ”

Thursday, March 8, 2012

6 month check in

So, it has been six months since I started ballet class!
Time for a retrospective? Hmm. I think ballet has done good things for me physically. I am stronger, more flexible, and generally more mobile than I was six months ago. My joints are never going to be pain-free, but being able to use them at all is pretty good. Dance has also been good for me mentally. Because I enjoy it and there are not that many things that I enjoy a whole lot sometimes. Because it gives me a chance to spend some time working instead of thinking. I spend an awful lot of time in my own head, which is good because I like my own company, but isn't perfect because no one in the world can screw with your mind like YOU can, right? Sometimes not thinking about things is just a nice break. And also, ballet makes me turn my standard modes of thinking on their head.
 If I have a fatal character flaw (aside from hardly ever spelling "character" correctly on the first try) it has got to be my deep frustration with myself when presented with something I am not immediately good at. This goes along with my other worst traits: perfectionism and an unfortunate tendency toward fatalism. I had a terrible time in school, the entire time, because aside from being bored out of my mind half the time and ignored academically almost entirely, I just didn't feel like I should have to work so hard at anything. Like, it never felt fair that I wasn't good at anything right out of the box. In my head I was totally awesome at everything, from music and dance to sports and science. All of it came so easily in my mind. But in reality there is all this frickin' effort and time and patience. Ugh, I was just so annoyed by that. This is why I didn't get my driver's license until I was TWENTY NINE YEARS OLD. Like, work ethic? What the hell? I don't need no stinkin' work ethic.
I always get kind of annoyed when people prattle on about my "talents". I actually had a customer congratulate me on my talent, once. Which is nice I suppose, in a way. But talking about "talent" makes it sound like my work comes easily to me and there is no effort involved. Like I sprang from the womb with mad design skillz and a firm grounding in clothing construction techniques. As much as I love and admire my mom, I must admit that my pre-birth experience was rather unremarkable and pretty much limited to growing limbs and floating around in goo. I went to college for this skill, and worked so very hard at it. I cannot find words to encompase the vast oceans of tears involved in the 4+ years that went in to honing those "talents". But, while it bugs me when people  find out what I do and say something stupid like "oh, I could never do that" or "that is so cool, I wish I could do that" (then... do it?) I understand where they are coming from.
Ballet totally reroutes this pattern of thinking, though. I won't ever be particularly good at it, but the process is enjoyable. And I need to keep that in mind because it is very easy to compare yourself to others and worry that you are lagging behind them in dedication, skill, or a hundred other things. Just because Sally Sue Someone was taking four classes a week and by the end of year one was en pointe every Saturday doesn't mean that you have to be, too. Your own path can be as slow or as fast or as exciting or as cucumber-cool as you want and need it to be. It's hard to let go of the knowledge that every day, in every single moment of your existence, someone is judging you and finding you lacking. But, at some point you also have to realize that an awful lot of the time that person is you.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


100th post! Woooooo!
Not a lot to say, though, I'm afraid.
The last week or so has been really difficult. My cat was diagnosed with a chronic illness. My husband started a new job while also suffering from an endless migraine. My rheumatism flared up so bad I just wanted to sleep through it but couldn't lay down for very long. I was PMSing, which makes it even better. I got a zillion custom orders all at once (which is nice, don't get me wrong. Those vet bills ain't payin' themselves) so I am working and sewing and attempting to communicate with people all over the country while keeping them all separate (my brain is not an organized place).
My hips are going out. They have been for a while, but I have been trying so hard to ignore it. This weekend was the first time they had been so bad that they were my main focus, though.
So, basically, everything is super crappy all around.
But I am going to class in spite of everything. Next week I am going to take an extra class. The harder one. I am a little nervous about it! My other option is to take the class immediately afterward, which is basically pre-beginning. I suppose it couldn't do me any harm to take it. Or maybe I could just do barre of the harder class? Does it really matter? This Monday we were doing those ridiculously hard chaînés turns again. Even when I try to spot I just get dizzy and need a sit-down. I will get them eventually but until then I look super dorky out there.
Sigh. Chaînés turns. You are not my BFF.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Twirly Time

Straight up bustin' out pirouettes on my kitchen's 60+ year old janky linoleum floor while wearing baseball socks two sizes too big, yo!
Don't be too impressed, though. They aren't good pirouettes.
And when I land I always seem to have the wrong foot in front. Also, my body refuses to turn backwards. It's like "En dehors? PSSHH. En dedans is where it's at. Only the stupid kids turn en dehors."