Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Recital Ramblings

My last post (which dealt largely with the topic of cartoon characters from our misspent youth appearing in modern pornography) is now officially my most popular post EVER. Way to go, guys. You people have issues.
I love you anyway, though.
Maybe I should label all my posts "porn" and "gross out" and watch my numbers skyrocket?

But, no. We are here, my friends, to discuss the worlds of ballet and rheumatism and the exciting, sometimes dreadful manner in which they collide.
Out of a horrible pang of guilt at the thought of always refusing to participate in the studio's annual recital (let's face it, honey, even if I wasn't working on weekends this Summer I still wouldn't be signing up) I volunteered to alter and mend (and generally "clean up" and "make pretty", which are the nice terms we use in the professional world when something really heinous crosses our path) the rather elderly and decrepit costumes the ladies (and... possibly a gent. At this point they are considering an en travesti Romeo, because we don't appear to have any dudes available) will be wearing. There is a lot of shattered chiffon and several oddly not-quite-complete bodices going on here. There may well be a few atrocious sequined powder-puff tutus at some point, as well.
We shall see how badly I regret this offer a month from now.

In preparation for said recital tonight we practiced a lot of ballet running. I did well at it, as I generally do with ballet walking. My teacher declared that I must have been practicing but I will let you in on a secret: I haven't been. There is a story behind this, though.
When I was about 14 or 15 my pet cat was hit by a car. She was in terrible condition for a long time afterward. One of her hind legs was dislocated at the hip. The other was mangled so badly that it had pins in it for a while, but in the end it had to be amputated. She needed a lot of serious care while she was recovering, and so I would pick her up and carry her very carefully. I realized that the impact from stepping while holding her was hurting her and so I started to mindfully mimic the way a ballet dancer walks whenever I carried her. Toe first, gentle knee bend, toe first, gentle knee bend. For the rest of her life I was the only person she would allow to carry her.
So, my mad ballet walkin' skillz are entirely thanks to a little grey cat with three legs.
Thank you, baby girl. I miss you.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Doom and Gloom While Things Go Boom

Oh GEEZE, internet! Is nothing sacred? Must there be an active fetish community for EVERY cartoon character ever created? Yeesh. It's gonna take a month of eyeball scrubbing to get over it.

Anyway. The point. I had one, I swear!

Uhmm... back when I first started taking ballet class I told my husband that if I ever went en pointe I would walk around the house like that all day. And he said okay, as long as you dress like Mom from the cartoon Dexter's Laboratory. Because she perpetually walks en pointe, you see. Another character, the annoying sister Dee Dee, always dresses in a pink tutu and ballet slippers, and is known for being a ditz and dancing around at all times. It's possible that back in college my boyfriend used to call me Dee Dee.

Anyway, I was just trying to find a little video of Mom walking around on tiptoes to post here. I was NOT looking for creepy-ass cartoon porn.

 At least not today *wink*

Monday, April 22, 2013


Last week was a bugger. Thursday class was once again conducted by a substitute, and (while the sort of bizarrely loud Enya soundtrack for barre was amusing) by the time we were ready for center work (an hour in to class) I had been shrieked at enough that I was done for the evening. It was not a proud ballet moment, but sometimes you just have to quit while you're ahead. So I left early and spent the remainder of the evening talking to my mom on the phone and ordering new books on Amazon.
After the week had run it's course and I spent some time looking through all the "OMG NEWS BLOTTER" posts on Facebook Friday evening I decided that what I needed, what I really needed? Was a break from the media. So I went the entire weekend without radio, internet, TV news, or even reading the newspaper while I spent some time at my parent's house (I know, right? They are probably the last people on the planet who actually get the paper delivered. The entire print newspaper industry is relying on those guys!)
While I would like to say I spent my two days of distraction-free life practicing pirouettes and working my core, the fact is that I spent a lot of time playing computer games, reading a book I don't care much for, touring and applying for new apartments (and stressing/fretting over the entire proposition) and eating sugar. I did spend about half an hour on an exercise bike. The display told me I had burned a whopping 35 calories at the end of it. I checked the back of the package of chocolates I had just eaten 5 of and learned that a 5 piece serving contains 210 calories. So I ate another one for good measure.
Today I attempted to do a 30 minute "ballet-inspired" workout video. I got 6 minutes in to it before I started sweating so much I had to take my glasses off (and chuckling under my breath about how ridiculous the entire workout video phenomenon is), and alllllllmost 20 minutes in before I gave up and declared that I had had just about enough cardio for one day, thank you. All those constant, pulsing pliés! I about died. Which probably means I should keep doing it. Ugggggh. I look at it this way: I hate pilates. Something needs to break up the pilates, right?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Fashion and Ballet: Together As Always

Ballet-inspired fashion is nothing new, they've been doing it since fashion inspired ballet (which was always. Hello, turnout so you can see my expensive shoes!) but this one impressed me mostly because it appears to have actual dancers in it:

All I can say is "chaînés turns on carpet, man." That's hardcore. I assume that shiny satin shoes makes such a thing possible. If I tried that in canvas I'd probably break my foot.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Men in Tights. TIGHT tights!

Tonight we had a substitute teacher, and it was interesting to see the contrast in teaching styles. The sub was definitely of the "if you did it badly you have to do it six more times" school of instruction. And the "reach up up up, ladies!" school, as well.
Interestingly, she set us to our first bit of partnering, which was a little awkward. Not because we are all chicks (though it wouldn't kill us to get a few dudes in there, that's for sure) but because the class had an uneven number of students and, like any shy person knows, that means the one person left in the lurch is... ME. So I had to partner the sub. It was kind of interesting, actually! It would be awesome if some guys would power through their testosterone long enough to give it a whirl! We had a couple of male students for my first year or so, but it looks like the higher the level the fewer male opportunities present themselves. Which makes it a good thing I'm already married and therefore not on the prowl.
Back when I was devastatingly and unhappily single my mother used to regale me with advice like "well, your sister met her husband at work!" (I work in a costume shop. I will give you two guesses how many straight dudes I work with) and "go out and do the things you enjoy! That way you are sure to meet someone with similar interests!" Mmm hmm. Because sewing and dance class are super great ways to meet men, right?
Moms. Gotta love 'em, I suppose.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Health Stuff Blah

I'm feeling less dire about things today, but I decided to publish this post from a few days ago, anyway. For the sake of ... honesty? Completeness? Who else thinks the word "completeness" is stupid? It's one of those that should really have another tense. Like "completion" would sound better, but sadly it means something else. Sigh...

So, the horrible foot tendon thing that I was experiencing last week has (mostly) gone away. I babied it so much that I actually started getting foot cramps from lack of use! Silly. Silly and yet...

My shins splints are edging very slowly toward feeling better. I can jump! Sort of! (I mean, I am capable of jumping. Not that I am good at it.) It's been a very long and slow process to get to this point. And they still twinge at me when I try to do something like a ballotté, cabrioles, or hopping turns. Well... hmph. Hopping turns are dumb looking, anyway.

It's funny (not like "funny ha ha") the way I have become so utterly terrified of every new and unusual ache, pain, or click. I feel like at any moment I will "lose" another part of my body, but I never know which part, or when. Will it be my lower back, which has been aching for the past few days? Or will it be that pole of tightness down my achilles on cold mornings? My hips, that clonk and grab at me when lowering out of développé? Which part of me will fail completely enough to be in constant pain? And will it be a part I need in order to make it through my day? My work? My hobbies? I had to stop shooting my bow several years ago, will I have to stop dancing, next? Driving? Living in an upstairs apartment? When does it reach the breaking point, the point at which my doctors will believe me when I say I need help? When I finally test positive on their bloodwork will I be confined to a wheelchair?
Truth to tell, it's all kind of nerve-wracking.
I try not to think about it too much, or I'd never get anything accomplished.

 All my mad Google skillz couldn't locate the original source or credit for this image.
As always, if you are or know the creator please let me know so I can properly attribute it. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

I'd Like to Thank the Little People. Oh Crap, Did I Already Use That Joke Title?

More compliments? They had better watch out or I might start, I dunno, believing them or something.
After mixed-level class tonight my teacher assured me that I had "improved dramatically".
Of course, when I started taking class a year and a half ago I could barely make it through pliés, so YES, there has been dramatic improvement. It just never feels like it when you are the only person in a room full of students that is doing a pirouette and everyone else is doing the thing they are actually supposed to be doing.
For example, during petite allegro tonight I was having one of those "I totally can't follow what the music is doing so I am just going to have to make it up as I go" moments. I have a lot of those moments. I came away from class with this thoroughly stuck in my head:

What can I say, Dad played me a lot of 60's music when I was a kid.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Shoes Heard Round The World. Or Something.

Many years ago...
I took a belly dancing class once a week, along with my mom and sister and a family friend. It was probably terribly good for us. Anyway...
As I was practicing turns in the living room one day I caught my toe on the carpet, thereby folding it under my foot. And quicker than you could blink I stepped on it, breaking my toe. It was pretty dreadful. This risky barefoot tradition (with the attendant way your feet get all grubby on the floor during class) remained in my mind as the peril of belly dancing.
Fast forward to a couple of years ago. I had recently quit my retail job and I was stoked to start expanding my online store. I had been tossing around the idea of dying shoes for a while so I was on the prowl for cotton canvas shoe blanks that could be experimented with. I remembered my previous experiences with belly dancing class and decided that some canvas ballet slippers would probably be the perfect medium, with the added bonus of having an obvious market. Breaking toes is just so outré.
So I went online and bought some canvas slippers from Discount Dance Supply...
Which reminded me of all the pretty ballet shoes there are in the world...
Which reminded me of how much I wanted to dance again...
And the rest is history.

PS: I did dye those slippers! But then I discovered that the dye makes the leather soles go all crunchy and cardboardy... and I really hate lumpy soles anyway, so...
Yeah, I never actually put any of them in my shop.
But here they are, anyway, the shoes that started this whole crazy thing:

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Alliterative Reflections After Class

You know you're an adult ballet student/arthritic old lady when... you find yourself saying "you know what I'd really like for an anniversary present, honey? Compression socks"

After class last night a couple of people told me that I had improved a lot in the last couple of months. One of the compliment fairies (like tooth fairies? Only they bring you compliments instead of taking teeth?) was our perpetually perfect, pretty, and perky (puhpuhpuhpuh) teenager who always kicks all our old asses out there on the floor. It was nice but seemed really strange. I always feel a bit like the class I am in is the hardest class I have ever taken, you know? Like... maybe I'm getting worse. Or more tired. Or for some reason I just haven't got the mojo working this time. But then the next class comes along and I feel the EXACT SAME WAY. I think the rush of endorphins dulls your memory.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Who needs feet, anyway? Not me.

You learn something new every day. For example last week I learned that trying to do chaînés turns  in your jammies is a great way to have your glasses fly off your face and possibly to step on them at the same time.

Tonight in class we were doing a new turn across the floor: attitude turns. And I guess my foot decided to cop an attitude (har har, see what I did there? I kill me. Okay, no. Sorry. Never mind.) because I suddenly felt something go "POP!" and for the rest of class it felt remarkably like I was being stabbed in the foot. The internet tells me it was probably a ... something something digital something tendon. Annnnnnd... great. Another foot injury. Hrmph! I swear, if it isn't one thing it's another.
It still hurts, though not as badly. I am trying to go easy on it tonight, anyway. I am telling myself that it was probably brought on by all of the intense driving I did over the past few days (Easter visit to my dad's place in the hills) regardless of the fact that the trouble is quite clearly in my LEFT foot.
No, no! It's driving that did it! It's driving that is terrible for me!

Also: tonight for center practice we did a little piece of choreography from Raymonda. We looked just like this, only not even at all: