Thursday, May 30, 2013

tututututututu too two to

I spent all yesterday (and all this morning, too) working on recital costumes.
Well, you don't just have a tutu around the house without trying it on, do you?
yes, this picture was taken in front of a door. WHAT IS YOUR POINT?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Liebster Post. Finally.

Okay, okay. I will finally post this Leibster award entry before anyone else can nominate me and thereby give me more questions to answer!
Here is how it works: A blogger "nominates" you and you have to give 11 random facts about yourself, answer 11 questions given to you by the blogger, and nominate another 11 blogs (that have fewer than 200 followers). While I am far too lazy and mainstream to actually have a list of 11 up-and-coming young blogs to link you to, I will at least give you 11 blogs to check out, that (as far as I know) have not been Liebstered yet. Thank you to Mercie et Chatons, Barre Barre Black Sheep, and The Traveling Dancer for the nominations and questions (the rest of you may skip this ridiculously long post if you want, I won't judge):
11 random facts about me:

1) If I could only eat one type of meal for the rest of my life it would be fresh fruit and french bread with butter. But if I could only eat one THING it would be raspberries.
2) I honestly do not care which way round the toilet paper is facing. For heaven's sake, why do people get so uptight about it?
3) The topper on my wedding cake was a black Dalek and a white Dalek.
4) I can float well enough to stay alive, but I never learned to swim.
5) I have no problem with creepy crawlies and have been known to gently nudge a rattlesnake with a stick to get it off the road, but I will NOT touch cockroaches and I will only take horn worms off my tomato plants via the "clip off the entire branch they are sitting on and throw it over the fence" method (but that is mostly because they make that awful noise! SO GROSS!).
6) I can juggle. I taught myself from a book when I was a teenager. It impresses the hell out of people and hey! Party trick!
7) Except in cases of unusual or extreme circumstance (camping, staying at someone's house, hotel, new apartment that I haven't had a chance to clean thoroughly yet...) I only take baths, never showers. I HATE showers. They make me feel cold and you have to go through all sorts of contortions just to wash all your bits. Forget that.
8) I have nearly no sense of direction. I still need a GPS to get to ballet class if I take the freeway instead of surface streets. I can get home just fine, however.
9) My middle name is Marie, after Marie Curie. Back when I was working retail I once wore a T-shirt with Marie Curie on it and a customer asked me if she was "that famous hooker" (tangentially, my sister was named after a botanist. Sadly, neither of us pursued science. We are both artists. Sorry, Mom!)
10) I wrote two novels when I was a teenager. They are both so bad I shudder to think of them ever being read by another human being.
11) My favorite bands of all time are They Might Be Giants and the Magnetic Fields. But I am pretty sure I'm not a hipster because I never do anything ironically.

from Merci et Chatons:
  1. If you could ride any animal fictional/dead/alive what would it be? A velociraptor. Obviously. I would keep him in my yard and paint his talons with sparkly nail polish and he could eat intruders. I would ride him to work and I would never be stuck in traffic again.
  2. If money was no problem, where would you vacation in the world first? Well, it's not an exotic dream locale, but I would like to just explore up and down the coast of California for a while, then up through Washington and Oregon. Eventually I would like to visit England/Scotland, Switzerland, and Sweden.
  3. Do you like sparkly things? Who doesn't like sparkly things? I mean, come on.
  4. Can and will you draw me a picture? I'm on my laptop right now, so sorry. 
  5. If you have to fart in public how do you go about doing it? a) crop dust b) go into seclusion c) blame it on the innocent. I didn't realize these were all such carefully planned options. I guess just hope no one notices?
  6. If sharks could talk, like in Finding Nemo, and you only got one question, what would it be? I don't really have any deep personal questions I need to explore with a shark, really. And I am pretty shy, so it would probably be something like "hey. Nice weather we're having?"
  7. If you were asked to perform a dance in space, would you? I was actually just thinking about this while reading Packing For Mars, (which is a pretty interesting book, actually, and not nearly the epic drag you might expect from the description.) And I was thinking about how, in zero gravity (or the approximation of zero gravity as induced via freefall) all your muscles would have to work in very different ways. You could finally achieve that glorious extension, because you wouldn't have to work so hard just to hold it up there. Of course, there are some really interesting possibilities with tippy toes and graceful launching of oneself off of stationary objects. But also, even a regular person's body gets pretty jacked up in space, and I imagine that a dancer's body would be doubly so. Luckily, if the trip was a short one it wouldn't be too much of a long-term problem, but otherwise we are talking possibly irreversible bone damage (not to mention exposure to much higher levels of radiation than you might think). And then I read that they don't take showers up there, they just use moisty wipes. And then I said never mind.
  8. What are your favorite barre/floor combinations? We usually don't do combinations more than a time or two before switching to something else, but since the class is working on recital stuff right now we've got a few routines. The bit from Les Sylphides is probably my favorite, but mostly because the Raymonda thing requires a partner and my partner and I keep shocking each other whenever we touch. ZAP!
  9. If you could slap a celebrity for their idiocy, which one(s)? Jim Carrey and Jenny McWhatserface. Mostly for their outrageous and ill-informed anti-vaccination crusade. Seriously, people, celebrities are not doctors. Do NOT listen to them.
  10. Salad dressing on or on the side? Side. Because I don't like very much of it.
  11. Glass half full or empty? Half broken.
From the Traveling Dancer:
  1. What is your best recommendation for new bloggers? Find a theme and stick to it. You'll be amazed how many topics you can cover in the course of exploring your theme. Also? You have to choose a theme that you WANT to write about. That you will write about regardless of whether or not anyone else bothers to read it. Your blog should, first and foremost, be for you.
  2. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? Mendocino, CA. Does that sound horribly boring? Because it probably is. But, I love it there and spend a week there every year. On the other hand, I am pretty sure that moving away from my ballet studio would be traumatic, and there aren't any really amazing ones down in that area if my internet research isn't steering me wrong.
  3. What types of posts and blogs do you tend to comment on the most? Ones that I actually have something to say about.
  4. Favorite youtube dance clip? Definitely the parotia bird.
  5. Would you give up your day job to dance? Professionally? No, I know what a professional dancer's life is like, and I wouldn't be interested in that so much these days.
  6. What is your favorite dance studio? The unassumingly named Ballet Studio.
  7. Do you like being corrected in class/what type of corrections work best for you? Hells yes! You won't improve if no one corrects you! Gentle physical manipulation is good (note: not running behind me shoving me forward or grabbing my leg and hiking it up waaaay past my ability to actually hold it in place. Both of which I have experienced from some teachers) and spoken explanations are also good. Even just standing next to me and demonstrating.
  8. Favorite book? Favorite quote? I read a lot so I can't really pick out just one. My favorite series are the Discworld books by Terry Pratchett, Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, and Diane Duane's Young Wizards novels. I have a particular fondness for classics, as well as fun and fluffy books that do not follow the "modern lit" template of a deeply unlikable main character and an awkward sex scene that serves no purpose within the plot. Favorite quote: always changing. 
  9. Best snack between class? Peanut butter toast with honey. Plus lots of water.
  10. What’s your favorite leotard? (brand, style, color) totally not any of the ones I actually own right now. I am really drawn to the ones with mesh or lace bits, but I can't stand the kind that have super open backs. And I prefer black, because I am boring.
  11. Best advice you wish would have known when you were younger? It doesn't matter. Seriously. Let it go. No one will be less proud of you. (I'm still working on that, though)
And last but not least, the questions from Barre Barre Black Sheep:
  1. What do you hope to get out of blogging? I created this blog as a way to continue writing non-fiction prose (which is one of my great loves) after my regular personal blog at basically went under. Everyone abandoned ship to Facebook. At the time the only things I really wanted to write about were my health problems and my new ballet class, so that is what I did here! I eventually went back to my personal blog, as well. Mostly for bitching about stuff.
  2. What is your dream job? I would like to do exactly what I am doing now, only it sure would be nice if people would give me money for it.
  3. Do you bulk-blog and schedule the posts, or do you post as you write? Sometimes I write more than one post in a day so I schedule the second one to kick in a day or two later. I often start writing something three or four times and let it default in to my drafts folder before I actually figure out what it is I am trying to say and how I would like to communicate that.
  4. What three words would your best friend use to describe you on your best day? My best friend is delusional. She thinks I have my shit together in a way that I most decidedly do not. She would say that I am cool and wise and funny or something... and I so am not those things.
  5. What is the one thing you want to improve on before the end of 2013? I would like to improve my productivity. HOWEVER, my shop business has been painfully slow over the past few months, so I am taking a bit of a break right now. There is no use making all this stuff if no one is buying it, right? It's all very frustrating.
  6. What's your biggest regret in life? I do not regret choices I've made or things I have done. I do not regret people I have loved or places I've been. My only regrets are my personal reactions and emotional responses to those situations.
  7. What do you think is the best way to increase readership of your blog? Reading other people's blogs and commenting in useful and thoughtful ways. Don't just go to someone's blog and leave a totally unrelated post comment saying "visit my blog to see what I wrote about cat food, today!" That annoys the hell out of me.
  8. What caused you to start blogging? My first blogging experience was with my personal blog. I started it as a way to connect with people during a particularly painful and difficult phase in my life.
  9. I'm obviously a fan of your blog; have you ever read mine? Just curious. I do! In fact, I just read it, which inspired me to get off my butt and post this before the questions section could become any longer than it already is!
  10. What's the best advice you've ever received? My father once told me to never hesitate to apologize.
  11. Where do you hope your blog will be one year from now? Oh, just like it is only I'll be telling you all about the amazing craftsman house I just bought and the incredibly lucrative design contract I just signed and, of course, the fabulous new treatment for rheumatism that my doctor's have designed just for me. Haaaaaaa.

Okay, here are my questions for other people, I suspect most of them will not answer, but there you go:
  1. What is your musical guilty pleasure?
  2. A movie or book you liked but no one else does?
  3. A musician/artist/etc that everyone else thinks is amazing but you just don't "get"?
  4. Do you read any children's/YA books now that you are a grown up? Which ones and why?
  5. What is your favorite board game?
  6. You've just inherited 10 million dollars. What do you do?
  7. What is your favorite holiday? Season? 
  8. What modern amenity or technology could you never live without?
  9. What is your snack food of choice?
  10. A period in history that you are particularly interested in?
  11. You can travel back in time and give your younger self a hug. Would you?

OKAY. Now. For blogs that I "nominate".
To be honest, I don't even know how I would find out the readership numbers of other blogs, so I am just going to pretend that the rules state "nominate 11 blogs you like" rather than "11 blogs with less than 200 readers".
Here are some good blogs, guys (ballet blogs in bold):
  1. Linnea's Garden (she's my sister and a botanical illustrator)
  2. The Ornamented Being (costuming)
  3. Dancing Over The Hill
  4. The Offbeat Chronicles of a Tutu With Tea
  5. Enchanted Doll (dolly related, do not click if you think dolls are creepy)
  6. The Inner Ballerina
  7. Little Girls R Better at Designing Heroes Than You
  8. Knit Two, Pointe Two, Bake Two Together
  9. Fashion in So (Star Trek and fashion)
  10. EPBOT (geeks and girly stuff)
  11. Leotards and the Buns in Them

Friday, May 24, 2013

Very Serious Tights

So yesterday I had to buy new tights. You see, because all of my other pairs were dirty. Totally a reasonable excuse. Well, no, I had one pair left, but they were about 12 years old and have begun to go all thin and see-through in the lady region, and so I only keep them around for those emergencies when I can wear a skirt over my leotard.
Anyhow, the only dance wear (dancewear? dance-wear?) store in town is a teeny weeny little Capezios that I have only been to once. More than a decade ago. And I took the bus to get there. So, with my very vague memory of it's location I set out trying to drive to it. I actually managed it, and didn't really get lost. Not so's you'd notice, anyway.
I decided to go for it and get my first pair of back-seam mesh tights (twice the cost of regular tights, Jiminy Cricket! ). I feel so very professional, now! Look how serious I am! I have back-seams! I have always held off on them because the meshy stuff irked me (it's not actually a seam, it's just a little stripe of a different knit pattern, which makes the different material rather unnecessary, don't you think?)
During barre last night we had to hike our legs up on the barre and fold forward over them (it made something go KER-POW! in my thigh, but it's fine). Staring at my knee in my new tights I discovered that A) the mesh knit pattern acts as a dreadful optical illusion and makes your eyes go all cross-y, and B) the mesh pattern looks like a bunch of little hearts! 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Crown of Dead Bugs Sounds So Much Less Appealing

Oh, guys! Oh, guys! You know how my lifetime project is to make a classical tutu embellished in beetle wing embroidery? Well, I just found this incredible tiara online:
Did you just DIE? It's part of a parure (set with tiara, necklace, and earrings) made in 1884 or 1885 for Lady Granville from beetles given to her husband (the foreign secretary at the time) by the ambassador of Portugal.

On a different note: I am in the process of moving right now, and I am feeling decidedly low on energy as well as time. So, I apologize for the lateness of this announcement, but I want to thank Mercie et Chatons and The Traveling Dancer for nominating me for a Liebster Award. The "award" is actually not an award at all, it's a sort of meme, a pay-it-forward kind of way to help promote blogs that you read and love. I have basically no time (or brain power) to address it right now, but I will get around to it, I swear. Right about the time I can fish my actual computer out from behind the pile of boxes that is, in theory, supposed to transform a rather stuffy bedroom in to a sewing studio. I will keep you posted!

Monday, May 20, 2013

To Ze Lumber Yard!

A couple of times now (pretty sure it's going to be in the recital) we've done this combination across the floor. It starts with a standard set of chassé-sauté arabesques and then all hell breaks loose and you bring one foot in to coupé derriere and then some piqué craziness happens and... well god only knows.
But today, in the lumber aisle at the hardware store (we're moving. I spend like ten hours a week at the hardware store, these days.) while I was waiting for my husband and the wood-cutting dude to finish their tête-à-tête, I sort of veeeerrrrrry slooooooooowly cranked it out. No one was watching me, I feel like I should mention that. Then I did it on the other side. You know, so I would be even.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Maybe Tuesday Will Be My Good News Day

For the last few weeks we've been using a song during barre work that is excruciatingly familiar. You know the kind, the kind that you KNOW you know, but it hovers right off the edge of your memory like a word you can only remember the first letter of. Compounding the problem is that ballet class music is usually tailored specifically for barre or center work, going so far as to shorten or rework songs to fit specific exercises (I honestly couldn't tell you which exercise we've been using it for, in much the same way that I honestly cannot tell you what type of plug the bathtub in my last apartment has, even though I used it less than a week ago). The tempo was changed quite a bit, and that can make a song sound like something entirely different (not having any lyrics made it tricky, too).
I know that my teacher uses a lot of songs from musicals when she's in the mood for it (she choreographs musicals for a local student theater) so I was searching my mind's vast catalog of show tunes (I, admittedly, also work at a musical theater. I can tell you two things about it: 1- through-composed musicals are proof of an evil entity at work in the world, and 2- there are a LOT of sex jokes in old musicals.) and coming up trumps.
Tonight, finally, she mentioned the name of the song: "The Man I Love" by Gershwin. AH HA! I knew it was something I recognized! Not from musicals, though. No, I recognize it from my collection of Billie Holiday tunes (I freakin' LOVE Lady Day) that played near-constantly during a certain period in my life. I have always been rather fond of the sincere simplicity of the lyrics in songs of the era. Simplicity you couldn't (or shouldn't, more like) get away with now for fear of sounding trite and precious, cliché and condescending. Can you tell I don't listen to a lot of popular music these days?

Now that I know what song it is I can totally sing you the entire thing by heart. Here is the version I am familiar with. The barre version is an up-tempo piano number, naturally.

Bird Dance

My husband insists that this bird looks like a ballerina in a tutu. Also? My cat loves this little guy.

Still ten times more graceful than the girls out clubbing in their "sexy black swan" costumes.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Hyperbole and a Half

I'm posting this because it is tangentially related to RP (clinical depression is a symptom of rheumatism, no one knows why but there is probably some genome craziness involved. I am currently medicated to the hilt, which became necessary when my pain meds made me manic, but I have been medicated previously, as well) and because I think it's important enough to share with you. Everyone should read this post by Allie of Hyperbole and a Half, especially if you have never experienced clinical depression. After my very worst bout with what is slightly-chronic depression the only explanation I could come up with is this:
Happiness and sadness are flip sides of the same coin. Depression is like paying with a $20 bill, and not getting any change.
Click the image below to read Allie's take on it:

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Science Guy Goes En Pointe

While toodling around on Google Patents a while back I ran across this weird thing:
which is supposed to be the internal support structure of some kind of bizarre pointe shoe. And all I could think was "good grief, how the heck is that supposed to work?"
I never looked at the inventor's name or gave it any thought, really.
This afternoon I was looking for an image online, of a ballerina "floating" while holding a balloon. And one search term led to another and I learned that this insane contraption (and I mean that in the nicest possible way) was invented by none other than famous edutainment personality Bill Nye.
Well. There you go. You learn something new every day.

And now I wish that someone actually produced this crazy thing. Because, as a ballet and science enthusiast, I would totally buy some crazy Bill Nye shoes.

Friday, May 3, 2013

La Esmeralda: A review that won't help you

In the past month I have attempted to sit down and write a review/synopsis/bitchy rant about watching La Esmeralda several times, but to properly express my feelings about it the post always ends up about ten chapters long. It would be faster to WATCH the silly thing than to read my synopsis!
For the record:
It took me a while to find a full-length version of it, because apparently it's rarely performed that way these days. Mostly people stage shortened one-act versions. Am I the only one who gets kind of annoyed when they go to see a ballet and it's super short and preceded by some plotless razzmatazz Balanchine thing? Anyway, I digress.
Luckily, in Russia it is actually performed in it's entirety. So! I found a pretty Bolshoi version (starring Natalia Osipova, who is basically a ballet rock star and now I see why) and settled in for three acts.
It's basically the story of the hunchback of Notre Dame (Notre Dame De Paris) but with a weirdly happy ending attached to it. Which was the part that bugged me. I mean, okay, I can see why you might possibly want to make the ending a little more upbeat than the source material (AND THEY ALL DIE THE END) but it basically ends with Esmeralda being reunited with the TOTAL D BAG she was infatuated with who broke her heart (and then tried to get in her pants anyway). And the only nice character, the dorky but sincere poet that is in love with Esmeralda, gets totally shafted. Not even fair. He was the only one distraught when Esmeralda was being tortured. He was the only one who tried to cheer her up after D Bag broke her heart. He even slept in the barn with the (actual live) goat for her. You know what, Esmeralda? Your priorities are all screwed up.
Anyway, if you want to watch it, this is the one I watched (the acts are all separate videos). Like I said, Osipova as Esmeralda is gorgeous and brilliant. Her dance of dejection when she finds out D Bag is fooling around with another lady is sadness in a bubble. Completely heart-wrenching.
But seriously. That guy was a D bag.