Friday, July 27, 2012

Reconstructed Ballerina Shirt

This is only sorta ballet related, but here is what I made when I couldn't sleep Wednesday night (I had just worked an 11 hour day, so there is absolutely no excuse at all for insomnia):
It used to be one of those great big oversized sleep shirt things. It was a gift from one of my dad-types about eleven years ago. I realized eventually that I just don't like sleeping in nighties or sleep shirts, because I can't stand how they get all bunched up around your waist at night. But I loved it and couldn't get rid of it, anyway. I have been meaning to do something interesting with it for ages now and just never got around to it.
Now I can wear it to work and everyone can experience what a big nerd I am.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Skullhead Bonyhands

Since we were discussing unusual source material for ballets recently...
Did you know that there is an Edward Scissorhands ballet?
Did you want to know?
I am torn between thinking "awesome!" and thinking "god, really?"

To tell you true I have only ever seen the movie once, when I was in 8th grade, and I have never seen the ending. Does he die? Does someone die? I don't even know. Maybe they all live happily ever after. It's not that I wouldn't be down with seeing it, it's that no one really wants to see it with me and I always forget about it when I am alone with netflix.
That blonde hair on Winona Ryder kinda drives me nuts, though!

Anyway. Edward Scissorhands. Now you know. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Pretty Annoying Week

This past week or so has been really off the charts, pain-wise. I would like to blame it on the CLAM and the other stupid exercises I am supposed to be doing, but in all honesty I haven't been doing it as often as I am supposed to. Still, though, we are talking more knee pain in the past week than in the past several months. I went to class, anyway.  It adds another awful dimension to the deep hatred I have developed of assemblé.
Oh assemblé, I hate you so.

In other news I would like to share this bit of wisdom with you:
Never, after applying icy-hot/bengay/etc, no matter how much of a rush you are in to get to class, forget to wash your hands before using the bathroom.
Just... don't.
Trust me. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

I quite like the shine on the satin shoes

Fifth in a series of occasional ballet paintings that are not Degas:

The Ballet Dancers (AKA The Dressing Room)
by Willard Leroy Metcalf

Monday, July 16, 2012

I gots the crazy moves

So I may or may not have recently been sort of grumping about how I am stuck in level 2 ballet class until the end of Summer, when I can move up without a conflicting work schedule. But then tonight the substitute teacher was all "okay! Now we are going to do pirouettes!" and I was like "WHAT?" and then EVERYONE ELSE IN CLASS totally pulled off a gorgeous pirouette. Out of thin air. I had just about gotten the preparation part down. Tendu to second! Tendu to fourth! I can do this! Pow! Passé, baby! And then I was supposed to ... what? To actually manage to spin around? Like... all the way around? WHAT?
And then maybe I almost fell over. Twice. The teacher said "were you trying to do a double, there?" and I sort of cringed and said "no" and then she said "oh, there is kind of a dip in the floor, there, maybe! You just got caught in the dip!"
I sure didn't see any dip. Dress it up however you want, the fact is that I just screwed it up.
It was pretty lame.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Such a Ham

Fourth (?) in an occasional series of ballet paintings that are not Degas:

Vaslav Nijinsky en Danseur Oriental 
by Jacques-Emile Blanche 1910

Friday, July 13, 2012

My Favorite Ballet Costume of All Time or: Why I Am the Google Master

Okay. So I work in fashion and stuff, whatever. The point is that I have been in to it for a long time and over the years I have amassed a great collection of images of designs that I find inspiring. These days most of it is on a flash drive that I occasionally load with pictures from my super-special file folder, which acquires a new image at least twice a day. But back in the day it was a binder of magazine clippings, and on the very rare occasion that I actually do buy a Vogue or something (every few years, when the big one that is almost nothing but advertisements comes out) I still snip out a few choice pieces and stick them in the binder. Many years ago (1995 or something around there), when my Nana passed away, I came in to possession of a rather odd thing that, honestly, I love to no end. It is a Town and Country magazine (circa 1990) with the cover torn off. Between the pages there are lots of clippings from other magazines, crammed in pretty willy-nilly and mostly showing a fine collection of opulent jewelry and long fur coats. Needless to say, my family has never been known for it's copious wealth. There were also a handful of really dramatic fashion plates from 80s and early 90s magazines. I took some of them out to display to better advantage within my own design binder, because holy cow, they are fabulous. I am particularly taken with this incredible red and gold split gown, which is of course displayed in a much more fabulous manner in the magazine clippings.
Enough back story. In amongst all this treasure was this photograph, which I have scanned for you because it's a thing of beauty and hence a joy forever:
I love it. I have loved it since I first clamped eyes on it. Stripes are one of my favorite things but what always got me here is the skirt. The black glove shapes radiating out from the waist on a white background. Wowza. Love it. I've always wanted to do something with the concept but was afraid the hand-theme, taken away from context, would look a bit too much like a cute "Manos the Hands of Fate" costume. Not that that wouldn't be appropriate at ComicCon or something.
But this was all I knew about it. Just that little scrap of text under the photo, because this is exactly how it was originally cut out by my Nana lo these many years ago.
Susan Jaffe as The Glove Seller in Gaîté Parisienne, for the American Ballet Theater, in it's 60th year of existence.
Great, that is REAL helpful. Costumes can be SUCH hard nuts to crack because of the way they are created for one company and then rented or sold (or both) to other companies for as long as the fabric can stay mostly cohesive (and then a liiiiiiittle bit longer than that).
But I have searched for it online for several years, anyway, out of hope.
BUT! The internet finally caught up with me and my labor of love has born sweet fruit! Check it, guys. This baby was made in 1983 (1983! I was 2!) for ABT and designed by Christian LaCroix, who apparently has a long and beautiful string of ballets under his design belt. As it were (as an aside, I cannot cannot cannot hear of Christian LaCroix without thinking of Lucien LaCroix, from the early 90s Canadian vampire TV cop show Forever Knight. CANNOT. But anyway.)
So, there we have it. BUT EVEN BETTER!
We have more pictures, guys!
Here is the first one I found:
And then, paydirt as it were, I found this one:
Okay, I think I am done being a total ballet costume nerd, now.
Okay, no. No, I'm not.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Get on it, Choreographers!

Okay, okay. So maybe I have strange ideas, sometimes. Recently our local professional ballet company was playing around on Facebook and asked it's fans to throw out ideas for any story they would like to see translated in to ballet. No matter how crazy! And so I said "OOH OOH OOH The Prisoner!" because the Prisoner is probably my very favorite TV show of all time ever in the whole history of the entire world. I don't mean that horrible mini-series thing that ran a couple of years ago and was awful, terrible, stupid, horrible, and also crap. I mean Patrick McGoohan reveling in the pure masturbatory pleasure of being allowed to do whatever you want with a beautiful location and an audience that was probably taking a certain number of mind altering substances. Amazing. And hear me out, here. Because I think it would be a really awesome showcase for a strong male lead. I am always a little sad to see male dancers relegated to standing around in unflattering tights holding on to a ballerina while she does all the interesting stuff. Really *good* ballet uses both sexes really well, you know? And when was the last time you saw a ballet that was about a DUDE, am I right?
And the costumes would be all mod and adorable and the sets would be neo-classical-slash-crazy-drug-trip and it would have all manner of ridiculous, dramatic, carefully planned music (note how the music for the final act paraphrases "Dem Bones" at appropriate moments). And the ending would just be a total trainwreck and there would probably be a gorilla suit, and no one would leave the theater having any idea what just happened. IT WOULD BE SO GREAT, GUYS.
And so that was what I commented. And you could pretty much hear the crickets chirping before someone broke the awkward pause and suggested yet another Alice in Wonderland.
Pssh! People have no imagination!

Monday, July 9, 2012

DIY knee ice packs

Since I have been instructed to ice my knees five times a day I have to keep masses of ice packs in my freezer. I also needed some to take to work with me, and here is how I made them. They have little velcro straps to hold them on my knees (or ankles or whatever) and polar fleece covers, but you don't have to do all that fancy stuff if you don't want. Pardon my photos, they suck and they know it.

What you need:
-water (duh)
-rubbing alcohol
-gallon-size freezer bags with zippy tops (2) make sure they don't have those slider things on them, and are just plain zippy bags.
-food color (optional)

If you are using food coloring (I like it so that it's easy to tell what is in the bags) put two drops in one of the zippy bags. Then pour in your water and alcohol. The standard ratio is three parts water to 1 part alcohol, but I find that to be too squishy and liquidy for my taste. The more alcohol you use the squishier it will be. For this one I used 3/4 cup alcohol and 3 1/4 cups of water. Adjust to your own preference (you just want four cups total of liquid when you are done)
Squeeze out as much of the air as you can and zip the baggy closed. I like to write on the bag with a sharpie so I know exactly how much of each ingredient I put in the bag, for future reference.

Fold the bag in half. You can put some tape on the edges to hold it together if you want to be fancy about it.

Then stick the whole deal inside the second zippy bag and fold (and tape, if you want) that one as well.

Pop it in the freezer overnight and ba-da-bing-ba-da-boom, you are done. POW! Ice pack. You can use it just like this, if you want, just put a towel between the pack and your skin. 

Now, me, I have to haul these puppies to work with me. And use them during the day. I find it nearly impossible to be given free-reign to lay on the floor with ice packs on my knees for an hour a day. So I like to strap the ice packs on with ace bandages. It helps get them in closer contact with my knees, anyway. But ace bandages take up lots of room in my purse, and lots of time when I would rather be doing my job and/or eating my lunch. So I made these little pouches for them. Also, it means you don't need a towel. 

What you need:
-polarfleece fabric, about half a yard (I used this because the thickness is right, it won't unravel in the wash, and it is stretchy)
-18 inches of sew-on velcro (hook side and loop side)

Okay. Cut  a piece of polarfleece about 13 1/2" square, and another about 4" X  25")

Cut your velcro in to 6"strips and pin all of the scratchy (hook) side on one end of the long strap piece. Pin all of the soft (loop) pieces on the opposite end of the strap. Before you sew it down wrap it around your leg to make sure it's all in the right spot.

Then sew the velcro down.

If you want to serge the edges go ahead and do it now. Polarfleece won't unravel too badly, so you can skip this step. I serged mine just for the heck of it. Serge all the way around the strap and down one side of the square.
Then arrange your strap on top of your square, about two inches down from the top edge (parallel to BOTH unserged edges). I put the scratchy side of the velcro facing UP so that it wouldn't be likely to scratch me when I use it later.

Then stitch through both layers in the center of the strap. I went in a sort of zig-zaggy pattern on this one, but you can just sew a square or a few lines, it doesn't matter.

 Okay, you are almost done! Fold the square in half.

Fold up the end of the straps to get them out of the way.

Now stitch together the unserged edges, 1/2 inch from the edge. Leave one end open so you can put the ice pack in later. I just stuck it through my serger so it trimmed off all the extra.
There! It's done! Now you can slip the ice pack in through the open end and pop this baby in the freezer. Did and DONE.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Note to the people who have tried to contact me:

Note to the people who have recently e-mailed me through Rheumatic Princess: my e-mail address can't deal with outgoing mail right now so I have been replying with a different (Yahoo) address. Check your spam folder if you haven't received a response.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Feel the Burn

So I am taking this coming Monday off from ballet. It was a tough call, but Monday nights are dress rehearsals at the theater where I work, and while most of these are totally passable for me (Music Man? AGAIN?) this one is going to showcase costumes that have basically been my waking world for the past month+. It's going to be a really stupid show, honestly, but the costumes I have broken three nails on and acquired four fingertip calluses over are making it a must-see for me. Besides, there is a chance that someone might spontaneously combust, so I have to be there for that, right?
So, I am taking Monday night off. I took a make-up class tonight, just to try and even out the number of days between classes. It wasn't super awesome fun times after my physical therapy yesterday (and the lamentable ten minutes I spent on the couch last night attempting to "do the clam". My husband says if I injure myself doing this silly exercise he is just dropping me off at the emergency room and leaving me to explain to the nurses how I did myself bodily harm while "doing the clam". GOD, it can't just be me that thinks it sounds like a HORRIBLE euphemism!) but it was alright. We had a substitute teacher, though, while my regular instructor is on vacation (which she TOTALLY deserves after teaching 17 classes a week!). And after class, while we were all on the floor doing stretches with the pre-beginning class that meets after us, she made us do CRUNCHES! Oh GIRL! Argh! And then we flipped over and did some sort of backwards crunches! It was probably terribly good for me and I am sure that I need to be doing such things on my own time every day... but I am such a workout pussy. I did a pilates "crunch and burn" video a few weeks ago... I hurt for the next week!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

first physical therapy appointment for my knees

So the PT came in, poked at me, and made me lay in various positions while bending, lifting, and otherwise manipulating my legs. Then he left the room and came back with a life-size plastic model of the structure of a healthy knee and pointed to a join between the unnaturally blue tendony thing and the plastic bone. "This is the problem" he said "you see this thing? It's right in the middle of the leg bone? Well, on you it's not there, it's all the way over here" and he poked the little bump under my knee. " So, when you bend your knee the tendon isn't moving through this groove above the kneecap, but is grinding against the edge of the bone. So, it's already real susceptible to inflammation. And right now you have a LOT of inflammation going on in here."
And there is that word again.
So, the verdict is that I am put together all wrong (tell me something I don't know!) so when you add in a ton of inflammation you get a ton of pain. He gave me these day-glo rubber tube things and instructed me to do an exercise called "the clam" (No. Really. They thought that was a good name for it). And to ice my knees "aggressively" which means five times a day, both sides. And then we'll see how things are in another month. The thing in my knee that forms a little lump that clunks around when I squish it is the muscle supporting the inner edge of my knee cap going in to "emergency spasms" (or some damn thing) in an effort to deal with the effects of my shitty skeletal structure combined with my shitty auto-immune thing. Well, that explains that, anyway.
While I would dearly love to address the root cause of all this pain, the inflammation, there is very little that Kaiser can do for me besides give me anti-inflammatory drugs. But, hey, at least I *can* take them and haven't had any serious troubles from them yet. I bleed like a stuck pig when I poke myself in the finger at work (constantly) but otherwise I am not experiencing trouble. And it keeps me, at least for now, from having to try disease modifying drugs like TNF inhibitors (which my sister uses because YAY this is genetic and she can't take the anti-inflammatory drugs, but you have to give yourself injections and I am pretty sure that would make me throw up)

The good news is that the PT was very impressed with how strong and flexible my legs are, which is all thanks to ballet. When I was first starting in September my legs positively shuddered during pliés. After my first class my teacher spent quite a while with me, sitting on the floor showing me exercises I could use to strengthen my janky thigh muscles to protect my tricky knees. Aside from enjoying dancing I feel better when I think I am doing something positive for myself, being proactive and taking command of my own body. Also, considering I wouldn't have quit anyway even if he'd told me I was just doing myself more damage... I am glad to hear that that is NOT the case.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Errythang is Zoloft's Fault: the saga continues

So I have noticed that I am increasingly less willing to read blog posts longer than a couple of paragraphs. Even blogs I really like and have been following for a long time. I just sort of skim over them and touch on what is going on, and if something exciting seems to be happening I go from there. But ... why? Am I just becoming too much of a lazy internet-age instant-gratification-demanding thirty-something who acts like there is no time to spare in life? Or am I really and truly suffering from a concentration problem? Could it be Zoloft's fault? After all, EVERYTHANG is Zoloft's fault.
The only other time I took antidepressants (during a particularly stressful and awful year in college) they made me totally flunk a class I was more than capable of (I mean, seriously. It was smack-dab in my major and I use the stuff I learned in that class constantly. Like, every single day. But I totally got an incomplete. Way lame.) because I could NOT concentrate for more than three minutes at a time. Also, because the teacher was being a dink, but that is another thing entirely. Anyhow, lectures were tortuous. So I decided that the drugs had to go. But that was a tranquilizer-type antidepressant, rather than the SSRI that Zoloft is.
I should stop typing because I just realized that if this was someone else's post I probably would have clicked over to Pinterest already!

There will be a ballet-only-no-whining-about-my-health post ASAP.