Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Shut Up and Dance

Sometimes, invariably at the barre, the teacher will show a combination and it all looks simple enough. UNTIL. Until someone has a question about it, and the answer confuses someone else, and the explanation of the answer confuses the first person again plus four or five other people. And the teacher says "okay, enough! Let's just do it and see what happens!" and someone who is More Serious Than You argues that without understanding the proper choreography the entire thing is wasted... and by the time we actually get around to attempting the silly thing no one has any idea what is going on. EVEN THE TEACHER. And now everyone at the barre is doing something different and all you can hope for is a quick transition to the next exercise. Because DAMN.

Also: PMS

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

I Don't Need No Stinkin' Splits

So. My teacher recently instituted a break between barre and center work where we are all supposed to stretch. Which sounds great, because I really miss the guided stretches at the end of my level 1-2 classes and have no self discipline so nothing ever gets stretched at home. But we are all supposed to be using this time to work on our splits. And I decided a few months back that A) There is basically no way in hell I am ever going to be able to accomplish the splits, and B) I am okay with that.
Now, hear me out.
I did try at it for a little while (okay, for a week or two back in November), because I was all inspired by other adult dancers and their splitty achievements. But... I realized it wasn't really a goal for me. A Goal with a capital G.
You know what I really want to be able to do? Fold in half. Like this:

or like this:
from I Have No Idea Where. Let me know if you do.

It looks easy, but it's not! Try it! I (occasionally, you know, when I remember) work on this and I can get my hands flat against the floor but closing that distance between the chest and the legs is a lot harder than it looks at first blush.
To heck with your splits, man! I couldn't even do the splits when I was a kid. And I was a super flexible kid! I was one of those that can hook her feet behind her head FOR NO REASON KNOWN TO MAN. But still! No splits! In class tonight I actually heard (and FELT HOLY COW) something in my hip go TWANG! while doing these split-achieving stretches in class. Can't we do stretches at the barre? I am okay with stretches at the barre that make my parts go twang. But on the floor? ARGH.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Understanding Your Limitations

Knowing and understanding your limitations has been on my mind, lately. While stretching at the barre at the end of class the other day one of the students (we've been in class together since the very start) was talking to our teacher about taking more classes. Two days per week just isn't enough! Etcetera. And the jealous little demon whispered to me "I love dancing. I want to take class more, too! I am just as dedicated! I want to advance like she is!" but really...
The fact is that I enjoy spending some of my evenings at home with my husband, going out to see shows, or visiting friends. Class every day would be too much like a job. No one wants that. I have a job I actually love, which is more than most people can say, but you know what? Sometimes (a LOT of the time) I don't want to do THAT, either. I don't want to feel that way about dancing. I want to look forward to it. Because seriously? Sometimes? I get a little worn out and have to drag myself in to class. I am always glad I went, after the fact, but getting there can be a real struggle against my lazier and more fatalistic tendencies.
And then there is the physical stuff. I want to push myself. I want to get better as quickly as possible. But my body is old and broken and requires a certain amount of TLC just to get out of bed on some mornings. It gets exhausted really easily (really really easily). Things get pulled or thrown out of whack at the least provocation. That toe joint on my left foot is prone to flare ups. My knees, my hips, my shins. I have so many parts that don't work properly anymore.
So, while it's hard (or annoying, take your pick) to watch people that I started class with lapping me at the barre, it's also not really anything I can fix. I can't push too hard physically, or I might mess myself up or speed the degeneration of my condition to the point that I can't dance at all. I don't have to prove that I am dedicated by giving up my myriad other hobbies and interpersonal relationships. My BFF isn't in to ballet. I'd like to go see shitty movies with her once in a while. My cats need petting. My husband needs snuggling. There are rose bushes to prune, blogs to write (hello, yes, this is one of my hobbies), corsets to sew. I have a whole art project that I have barely started on, moving boxes that have yet to be unpacked.
Know your limitations.
Understand them.
Accept them.
Keep dancing. Keep writing. Keep working. Keep going.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Pre-pointe: how it went down

Okay, so pre-pointe class. How was it? Brutal. Stone. Cold. Brutal. But I lived to tell the tale! After a full 1 1/2 hour technique class I limped in to pre-pointe. It was pretty fun, actually. Lots of strength building. Relevés at the barre. Piqué arabesques. Chaînés. You get the picture. Lots of stuff where you are hanging out on your toes. Which is good, because I actually really enjoy that strengthening stuff. Whenever the teacher says "time for piqué roll downs" or "okay, put your leg up on the barre" everyone else groans and I go "awesome! Let's do this thing!". By the time we hit that last set of continuous relevés on one foot, though, I was ready to call it a DAY.
Today I feel it in my hips more than I had expected. Probably because I was focusing really hard on proper placement when we were at the barre. Holding turn-out properly and rising directly over my second and third toes rather than wobbling up there like (let's face it, ladies) we usually do.
Today I feel like I've been in some sort of accident, only I paid for the privilege and I'm raring to go back and do it again next week! Ballet, guys. It's hard.
I gotta tell you, though. Do not pick a fight with a ballet dancer. All that tininess and fragile grace is a total illusion. She can probably kill you with one swift kick in the junk.

Related: ballet class is probably the only place where someone you don't know very well can walk up to you and stroke your inner thigh and be like "that is great, RPrin!*" and it isn't even awkward at all.

*new abbreviation for this blog's title. Because it takes too long to type the whole thing and I am king lazy bones. Looks a little like a celebrity couple name, but I promise not to divorce myself so it's okay.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


So, I am going to take pre-pointe on Thursday. I've decided. I asked and it was okay. I think 3 solid hours of class will probably kill me but I am going to give it a go.
On Tuesday I got to witness the pointe "test" for a couple of my classmates. 32 relevés on each individual foot, one at a time. 32! No barre. And balance/placement count. I died just watching it. Four people took the test, two passed it. I think I will go sit down with my compression socks for a while and just pretend I don't know what is in store for me.
I have a bunch of make up classes that will carry me through the next two months+ without paying extra tuition for the pre-pointe class. Because FO SHO our vet bills right now are STUPID expensive. This cat can start eating on her own again any old time. I found myself working overtime today and thinking "hmm. Well. Two hours of overtime equals three pointe classes." which probably says something.
Also, I guess I am going to be doing relevés every time I go to the bathroom for a while.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


One of my many (many MANY) great loves is paper dolls. I was poodling around online reading an article on the subject when I came across these: antique Marie Taglioni paper dolls.

Here's the one in the article.

And here is a link to many more fabulous costumes, as well as back story type stuff. It's pretty great.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Selfies Because Tutu

I apologize, but the following post is pretty darn gratuitously narcissistic. You have been warned.

I didn't want to put the tutu on. It just happened. You know how it is.
Decent posture, kid, but you look pretty grumpy. Also: pinky fingers WHAT.

I'm coy because I am leaning against the wall.

Channeling Anna Pavlova (ignore my foot in coupé, it knows better than that. On the other hand
I would like to send this image out into the intervoid
I know it's not that amazing compared to a lot of dancers, but I
am pretty damn impressed with myself)
 OH THE TRAGEDY! (don't look at those feet, either)
This is probably the most honest picture of myself I have ever taken.

PS: those sequined straps suck and itch like the devil.
And they aren't even cute. What a gyp.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Commando Like a Ballerina

This week was a grand experiment in underthingies. I am an underwear girl, I just am. But, dancers don't do the underwear thing. I decided to try it out when I had to skip a week of laundry and was down to one pair of Spanx to wear in lieu of proper shorts or a leotard. Well, I gave it two classes and I have a verdict: meh.
With regular tights it was pretty much standard operating conditions down there, but with mesh tights it was a lot less cozy and a lot more wedgie-making. I refuse to search for the proper word, there. Wedgie is as wedgie does.
Anyway, so that is how the experiement went. You know. In case you needed to know that for some reason.

In other news: our car got a flat tire yesterday and I only got to class by running to catch a commute train and squeaking in right as the previous class was ending. I would probably have just skipped it and stayed home but I have missed my Thursday class for the past two weeks (one because it was Independence Day, the other because I was an emotional wreck after dropping my cat off at the vet for 48 hours to have god-knows-what done to her) and I was in no mood to miss another. Annoyingly, I also had to take the train home afterward. Which I didn't have time to think about in advance. So I rode home in a sweaty leotard and pink tights. If I had thought about it I would have at least brought a sweater to toss on. As it was it was pretty embarrassing.
It reminded me of the pizza place. There is a pizza place that is on the way home from class so we only ever stop there when my husband has picked me up and we are going home. And we have been hitting it pretty hard the past couple of months because we've been all stressed out. But I only ever go in there in cutoff yoga pants and pink transition tights rolled up to my ankles and a sweaty leotard. They must think I just dress that way.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The courage of men TOTALLY fails

Sitting up late nursing a headache and waiting for the cat to calm down so I can administer subcutaneous fluids (YUCK, guys. Yuck.) and watching grainy and slightly (okay more than slightly) crooked videos of our studio's ballet recital (last Saturday) on YouTube. Thinking to myself oh how pretty they all look! And also OH I am glad I didn't try to do that. Seriously, guys. I get lost during tendus at the barre, trying to remember an actual ballet variation would be an exercise in ridiculousness. Especially right now with the moving and the cat stuff (and the gas tank on my commute vehicle being drained on two out of the past 3 work day mornings, and the plumbers in and out of the place every other day, and the having to work overtime several days a week, and and and...) I don't think my brain has room for choreography.
Maybe someday (as Aragorn once said) but it is not this day.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Catting Around

I've been a bit scarce lately because life has been stressful to the point of overwhelming. Along with my ulcer, my Summer work schedule starting, and moving to a new apartment (which has neighbors that party loudly until about 5am on work nights. So great.) one of our cats has been deathly (not exaggerating) ill. She was our big fatty fat pants, but as soon as we moved she promptly stopped eating and dropped a third of her body weight within a few weeks. After many MANY trips to several different vets (and a whole damn lot of money. But whatever, we totally didn't want to buy a car anyway, right?) she finally came home with a feeding tube (temporary, thank god) and a diagnoses:
I will now give you a moment to let that sink in.

Done? Okay.
So, the good news is that it's totally treatable and when she starts a course of medication (to treat the inflammation in her digestive system) she should start feeling better pretty quickly. And this explains a lot. For example, she has always been slightly bulimic and has a pretty obvious lack of flexibility that we have often wondered about (cat rheumatoid arthritis?).
Now. Can we talk about how it took five thousand dollars and a team of five dedicated veterinary specialists two weeks to diagnose my cat's rheumatism... but after 8 or 9 years and countless visits to my human doctors Kaiser still refuses to even perform the tests necessary to properly diagnose my own rheumatism?
You would think that being a human being who can talk and describe symptoms and provide family history would make it easier, not harder.
You'd think.

(on a totally tangential ballet note: we were discussing grande pas de chat in class on Tuesday and someone translated it as "really big cat". So. Uhmm... there you go.)