Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Popped Ballon

Right now petite allegro and I are not getting along. Okay. No. I should say "Petite allegro is killing me."
It is sucking the very soul from my tiny, withered husk.
I see my little improvements in other things. I can do double frappes, now. I have mostly figured out the front, back, side, front (whatever the hell that is called) pattern for barre work. I try to keep my spirits up with this stuff. But petite allegro. Man. It's so defeating.
Don't get me wrong, I'm fine with the component parts. I can do glissades and assemblés (patooie!). Pas de chats and jetés. But... at the kind of tempo I am being asked for I can basically just trip over myself repeatedly. I just sort of flail around randomly and try not to run in to anyone until the music is over and I get to stop. Apparently we are supposed to be aiming for "ballon" which is basically a fancy French way of saying "you don't hit the ground like an elephant" but right now I can't even get myself OFF the ground in the first place. I kind of look like I'm doing a very confused tap dance for a minute or two. A little soft shoe routine.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Dear Ballet People,

I just saw this on Pinterest, but it is only one of MANY examples:

Don't do this. Do not allow your personal quest for perfection (and the innate competition and voyeurism of your art) to become an excuse for publicly being a total douche nozzle. Just... just don't do it.
Because you know what? No one is perfect. No one. Not ever. That is the great irony of ballet. She isn't perfect, but she's a lot closer to the mark than I will ever be. And probably closer or just as close as YOU will be. So just knock it the hell off!
I've said it before and I will say it again: if you want society to treat dancers and dance people like SANE HUMAN BEINGS then all y'all are going to have to stop acting like neurotic pains in the ass.
Keep calm (as they say) and don't go all Black Swan.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Challenge Accepted

If nothing else the adult ballet blogging community keeps me motivated (this blog included). I am wretched at self-discipline. I basically have none. I have to trick myself in to keeping up with classes twice a week by paying in advance when I am not thinking about it. Oops! Nope! I already paid! I have to go! So, keeping up with doing pilates once a week and convincing myself to get down on the floor and stretch once a day has been ... well. I won't say it's been a challenge, because that would imply that I've been winning or overcoming or something. Honestly I've been pretty dreadful about it all.
One of the blogs I keep up with is written by an adult dancer who keeps making me feel awfully lazy about not getting my self-improvement on. I'm feeling terribly inspired by her 30 day challenges to herself and so I think I will steal the concept for the next month and attempt to work seriously and with focus on the little and annoying things I really need to improve. Balances and building up strength in my core/ab muscles, feet, and legs. I have been working on it here and there, but I forget about it more often than not. Perhaps having a goal and deadline in sight will encourage me to actually get on with it. There is nothing harder for me than trying to self-motivate for an inarticulate and foggy future purpose.

In ballet class news: we started doing cabrioles. Which is the name of a small model car from the 80s or something, isn't it? My spell checker informs me that, no, it was cabriolet. Well, fine then. Never mind. Cabrioles, on the other hand, are not anything like as easy as you would think. Also: stupidly painful with shin splints! There are days when I just can't figure out why I took up ballet. There is so much jumping! I should have taken a country line dancing class or something...



Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Just Do It, I Guess

So I've decided that the secret to life is just ... doing it. I mean... not in a Nike commercial from the 90s kinda way. At least, I hope not. But if you want to try a harder class or a new step or... whatever... you just have to do it. Go for it. Take the leap of faith.
I was looking at my bucket list (there is that term again. Hate hate hate!) and thinking to myself I did this one, and this one. And this one was easy because it was reading a book and I have that pretty much covered. But! Then there are all these other ones. Like walking over the Golden Gate bridge (I'm sure I've driven over it, but, like most Californians, walking it seemed like a distant option for maybe if you some day need to off yourself, otherwise: too touristy.) and dancing en pointe and visiting the Smithsonian. And some of those are little things that I'm not doing because I'm not doing them. And that is silly, so I am trying to be more proactive about crossing some of those things off the list.
And then are are the nervous things. The things we aren't doing because we are a little afraid of them. Because they are easier to ignore, and possibly fret about until they look like a bigger risk than they actually are. Now, all the best things in my life have come from small, nervous, terribly brave bursts of uncharacteristic plunge-taking. That's how I met my husband, got my motorcycle license, started taking ballet class, etc.
So, this is just a note of encouragement for people hovering on the edge of a tiny risk that seems more daunting than it really is. Just go for it, guys. If you belly flop ain't no one gonna judge ya. We'll just be impressed you gave it a shot.

Of Swans and Needles

So, my latest acupuncture appointment was canceled (usually at the last second) THREE times. I finally got in yesterday, for the first time in two months. So, basically, everything good that we had accomplished through regular treatment was completely thrown out the window and we started again from square one. And now I just hurt everywhere. She did work on my shins, though, but it remains to be seen whether or not it does anything useful for me. Annoyingly (because of the whole holistic approach to medicine that acupuncture encourages) the woman kept insisting that I have shin splints because I must have some horrible digestive issue. No. I have shin splints because I have an overwhelming and badly-controlled inflammatory response to, basically, life.

In totally unrelated news:
I finally got the ballerina mechanism for this ugly music box reworked and ready for the box. I refuse to admit how many hours of work went in to repainting this silly creature. She still needs a coat of varnish, and the lighting is bad so you can't see the iridescent finish on her costume, but here she is:

Now I just need to finish the BOX. Hahahahaha. 
Why do I get myself in to these things?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

ice ice baby

It was a stunning nearly-80 degree day and I had to take the train to class. So I was wearing a camisole-type top thing and my tights and stuff under jeans. I have mentioned before that I walk to class through the ghetto, yes? And as I was walking I not only got a honk and a whistle but the dude stuck his head out the window to check me out as he drove away. Now, don't feel flattered. These guys out here would honk at any woman that had the qualities they really like in a girl (two X chromosomes and a heartbeat. In fact, that second one might be optional).
But as he stuck his head out all I could think was "that dude looks like Vanilla Ice".
Which is also, very much, not a compliment.
It just cracked me up.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Not a real blog post

Just a video. Because I was compelled to watch it three times in a row yesterday...

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Shins: an Update

I think that what my shin splints really needed was for me to take a week off from class. Probably two or three weeks, really, but fuck if I'm doing that unless I have to, right? In any case I felt good enough tonight to do petite allegro (you know, not well or anything, but I certainly won't blame that on shin splints) AND sauté  arabesques. I skipped changements, though. I figure if I am only recovered enough to do half of the stuff, then it's going to be the stuff that doesn't suck.
We also started a new thing: pas de basque. Which is a silly little rock side to side and is a lot of fun. I think character roles are probably way more fun than classical roles. I know, I know. The mere thought is some sort of heresy. But you know? I just like to dance. It doesn't really matter what type of dancing it is. I had a great time when I used to take belly dance lessons. When we were young and hip enough to know all the bands and go out to clubs every weekend I thought drunken swirling around was pretty fun. Heck, I even enjoyed the dreaded square dancing in elementary school.

Oh, and I know I've been having some sort of ballet-related dreams lately, but I get all distracted by other stuff and forget all about it. You know, stuff like... being on a space station and flying rapidly toward the window, knowing that I'm going to break through it and implode in a vacuum. Or being at some symposium on historical reenactment and idly fooling around with the claymore (the sword not the land mine. ALTHOUGH...) of the audience member sitting in front of me and then realizing it's my ex boyfriend. Yeah. Like that doesn't mean anything...

Who is the Patron Saint of Bloggers? There Must be One.

Warning: I don't know nothin' 'bout nothin' when it comes to religious razzmatazz. I just happened to run across a list of the patron saints of stuff tonight and I spent a few amused minutes searching for random afflictions and seeing what popped up. There is a saint of insect stings, guys. No, really.
Did you know that there is a patron saint of rheumatism and rheumatoid arthritis? Actually there are SIX! This guy here has got you covered: he's the saint of rheumatism, arthritis, milliners, veterinarians, and blacksmiths among many (and I do mean many) other afflictions, professions, countries, and whatnot. I'm particularly taken with him because his name is usually translated as "James" but can also be translated as "Jakome" the name of a beloved childhood pet cat.

And, in case you were wondering, there are not one, not two, but three patron saints of dancers. Here is one of them, Saint Vitus. Who also, apparently, has a metal band and a neurological disorder named after him:

I wonder if that makes him the patron saint of metal bands, too.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Friday, March 8, 2013

Don Quixote: a Synopsis That Won't Help You

So I was home sick and away from class for the second time this week (I was just TIRED yesterday, you know? And I am opting out of a make up class today because I suck and am lazy, okay?) and decided that I should use some of this just-sitting-around-not-doing-anything time watching ballets on YouTube because hey, who knew you could watch full length ballets on YouTube, right? And I am particularly partial to story ballets so I went and found Don Quixote. I had never seen it before but I have always been rather fond of the original story. I knew that the ballet had very little to do with the actual story, but heck it was better than trying to watch Swan Lake again (I got halfway through and just DIED of boredom. Sorry, ballet people! I WANTED to like it, I really did! But, though the music was lovely, the choreography was SO BORING that I couldn't make it through two solid hours. OY, there has got to be modern choreography that spices that bad boy up! Anyone have suggestions?)
So, anyway, I watched this one:

Which was all very well. I am not entirely sure why they called it Don Quixote. He's just sort of... doddering around in the background for a few scenes. So, for anyone else who hasn't seen it allow me to sumarize it for you:
Act 1 opens on Don Quixote just basically standing there. Nothing happens. Cut to village square where a super cock tease of a young lady (is cocktease one word or two? Why do I even get in to situations where I need to know these things?) named Kitri is flirting shamelessly with Whatisname. After a lot of flirting and being coy at one another they get all sexy-times and her dad comes out and says "seriously, girl. No. You is gonna marry this old rich dude." She's annoyed about it and then Don Quixote wanders in and decides she is ... well, I am guessing he thinks she is Dulcinea (though Dulcinea never actually appears in the book, but WHATEVER.) and she is kind of at least nice to him. Some village rogues come along and make kissy-face at the village girls. Kitri and Whatisname use the confusion to give her dad and fiance the slip and run off.
They meet some gypsies. For some reason. The Macho Man gypsy and the Sultry Lady gypsy get jiggy for a while, there are strange overtones of domestic violence. There is a puppet show. Which Don Quixote walks in on and takes exception to. For some reason. So he flails around a little bit while everyone laughs at him. And then a windmill shows up. Because they do that, you know, windmills. Walkin' around like it ain't no thang. And of course Don Quixote rushes off to deal with them. But at this point, you know, maybe he isn't so cray-cray after all. Because if windmills just started walkin' in to my parties, I'd be a little freaked out, too.
Later on... there are a bunch of cupids... just hangin' around... and Kitri and a bunch of other girls dress up in froofy skirts that sit weirdly on their bottoms (maybe that isn't part of the story, I don't know) and frolic around all pastoral-like for a while. I am unsure if this was supposed to be a wedding or a statement about maidenhood.
In the end there is a big kerfloo, where Whatisname pretends to have stabbed himself to death for the sake of losing Kitri to the old guy, but actually he's fine and when he bounds up her dad is like "way-hey! Oh no problem, actually you can totally marry my daughter". For. Some. Reason.
The ballet closes with a newly be-tutued Kitri and Whatisname engaging in what I can only assume to be an interpretive dance symbolizing marital harmony.
The end.
Don Quixote was sort of in there, mostly just kind of bowing at Kitri a lot and clasping his bosom like he's having a heart attack.

Now, don't let's think it was a bad ballet. It certainly wasn't. It had good music and excellent dancing and was fun. It was engaging, which is more than you can say for Les Sylphides or the aforementioned Swan Lake. And I have to make allowances, because in all honesty I kind of enjoyed Man Of La Mancha, and that is not terribly faithful to the story, either. But... I guess I don't understand why Don Quixote was in it at all. Was he the big name that drew in the audiences back in the day? Oh, and I forgot the weirdly inappropriate belly dance number. Which is a thing. That happens.
Next on my watch-this-while-procrastinating list: La Esmeralda.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


I'm sick, so I can't really do anything besides lie around and complain. So I'm watching videos that ballet companies post on YouTube. Why not, am I right?
I thought this one was interesting primarily because you get to hear an actual Spanish person say the name "Don Quixote" which sounds NOTHING like we Americans have been saying it since time immemorial.

How did we get it so wrong?

Built For Tutus

So we had all congregated in the lobby after class one night, and as is our norm some of the students were talking to our instructor. It's coming up on recital time, she reminded us, and we should start thinking about signing up! Well, said one of my classmates, I'll do it if I get to wear a tutu. And our instructor said, heck yes! If you want to wear a tutu you can TOTALLY wear a tutu. Rheumatic Princess, she says gesturing to me as I stumble in to my pants, would look GREAT in a tutu!
Hmm. I wonder what part of me has the look of "tutu" about it. She can't claim to not see that my proportions are all backwards. After all, she sees me in tighter clothing than anyone else EVER. Truly, I am pretty sure that I could get a tutu bodice to fit me with no problems. Because, thank god, dancers rarely have much by way of boobs and I am certainly as ethereal and waif-like on top as I am brick house-like on bottom.
Well, regardless of whether it would look good on me or not I intend to own a couple of tutus eventually. I figure as soon as I hit pointe I am buying a congratulatory rehearsal tutu, and then when I move in to a house with a separate sewing room I am buying the fabrics and beetle wings for my lifetime tutu. Because why the hell not.