Monthly Archives: March 2015

Fitness Goals Update 11

Whoa, it’s been a while since a Fitness Goals Update! No class today – ballet or otherwise (school holiday, Cesar Chavez day) – so I will be discussing Fitness, Pilates and how far I’ve come in the last 6 months or so.

As you may know – if you’ve read through the archives – I started working out last September after acknowledging that I was just not improving at certain things in ballet (like sautes, it’s always the sautes!) without some additional help.  After starting out with some general strengthening I moved on to jogging a couple of weeks later.  At my most active, around December and January, I was running 4 or 5 times a week.  Since mid-February though, my school schedule has completely destroyed my running schedule, and now I’m lucky to get to run Friday thru Sunday – though of course I took advantage of my day off today.

Anyway, as I’m not running as frequently as I was a couple months ago, I’m not too surprised that my running abilities have not improved since then – though when I first started I quickly improved from a 1 minute jog to my current level.  Still doing around 10 laps at the field (give or take 1 lap), or two miles on the treadmill. Occasionally I’ll use the elliptical after the treadmil just to get a more well-rounded workout, but in general I prefer running outdoors. Just wish I was disciplined enough to get up at the break of dawn to avoid running under the hot sun (with the added bonus of getting to run before it’s time for school).

Pilates has been going great. My whole body feels so much stronger and flexible since I started in the beginning of January (taking on average 2 hours of class Monday through Thursday, on my own on weekends).  While my workouts on my own did help, it wasn’t until starting Pilates that I gained a greater understanding of my body – actually, the body – and how the muscles work in harmony with each other for efficient, injury-free movement.  I’m actually quite passionate about Pilates now, and definitely want to work on bringing this amazing method of body conditioning to a broader audience (as there seems to be a belief that Pilates is unaffordable to most people).  My school offers a Pliates teaching certification program which I’m currently pursuing while deciding where I’m going with my other educational goals, so at some point in the future hopefully I will get to do some teaching.  As it is I’ve taught a few exercises and stretches to a couple of friends and they’ve said it’s helped them with their back pain and shoulder issues.

One of the Pilates classes I’m taking is focused specifically on dancers, and we do exercises that complement the moves that dancers do.  We did the funnest thing the other day: on the Reformers (the medival torture device looking thing) we put something called a Jumpboard (which is just a padded wooden board that fastens to the Reformer) and practiced our sautes.  It is such a weird feeling, jumping as high as you can while being horizontal, but a great way to practice the pointing of the feet. As the Pilates studio has mirrors all the way along the wall it is possible to see what we’re doing, and it was so cool seeing myself jump with perfect – though horizontal – form.  The pointed feet were not a problem, though when landing I did notice that my heels have a tendency to lift.  I actually think I need to talk to Teacher about this, as my heels tend to want to lift during regular sautes all the time. This combined with the fact that even my best grand plies do not go that far down make me think I may have Achilles tendons that are on the shorter side.

My abdomen area – the core – has gotten so strong.  One of my classmates poked me and then exclaimed “Wow, you’re buff!” LOL.  Sadly, I don’t think I’ll ever have a six-pack as the flabby loose skin from when I was more overweight remains around my lower abdomen.  Actually, on that note, I’ve gained weight since I started working out.  Not sure how much, since after I noticed the numbers on the scale climbing I stopped weighing myself – didn’t want to stress myself out. I’m sure some of the weight is muscle, but it’d be real optimistic if I said it all was.  Some days I’m ok with it – I actually have a butt now – and others I miss my smaller shape (and fitting into some of my tighter pants).  When I’d first started working out my appetite increased, but I figured you got to give the body fuel, you know? I’m not too worried, as I know how to lose weight quickly, but I don’t want to lose my muscle either.  Ideally I would like to get to the point where I don’t care how much I weigh as long as I have a healthy and fit body, but overcoming years of social conditioning is hard!

(Wearing a leotard in front of a large number of people does not help.  When  I’m totally thinking of overindulging I always have to remember the leotard.)

My arms and upper body strength have increased as well.  While I still can’t do any pull ups, my push ups and planks (called “Front Support” in Pilates) have improved so much. We do lots of exercises for the triceps, biceps, shoulder rotators, back extensors, and chest and the result has been that my arms finally look toned. All my life my arms have been one of my problem areas, so I’m glad to have found some exercises that work for me.

Overall, I’d say I’m in great shape though.  We’re learning new exercises in my Pilates classes all the time, so I can’t wait to see how I’m doing by the end of the semester. Now, has all this helped with my ballet technique? I would say yes, as you can never have enough leg strength. The stamina gained from all the running has helped me when doing countless sautes or petite allegro. My “turnout muscles are much stronger as well.  I can finally identify my lats and know if I’m engaging them for my port de bras. My calves are much stronger – and, incidentally, bigger – and I can do one-legged releves super easy (though balancing while up there is still hit or miss). We have done stuff for our balance (like standing on the foam rollers on both feet and then one at a time), but I still struggle with balance.  Perhaps I always will…

Physics, man. Blame it on physics!

The start of my work out adventure:

All other fitness-related posts that followed are under the category “fitness for ballet”, for easy viewing, if interested…

The Dance Bag Challenge, Kit Edition

Questions in italics, answers in regular type. From   (oops, for whatever reason link doesn’t want to work – even though I could swear I have no typos…)

What’s in your dance bag and why?

Now that I get dressed for class at school rather than at home, a lot of stuff:

All the gear: leotards, tights, leg warmers, slippers, hair supplies, brushes, and the bag in the background. Not pictured: tennis ball, theraband

All the gear: leotards, tights, leg warmers, slippers, hair supplies, brushes, and the bag in the background. Not pictured: tennis ball, theraband

2 leotards (I like to feel like I have options, I guess?), tights (2 pairs, an emergency pair that stays in the bag, and a pair that I’m planning on wearing), ballet slippers, extra pair of ballet slippers, extra sports bra, leg warmers, little cover-up  sweater, brush, small pouch containing: lots of bobby pins, hair elastics, hair nets, and ummmmm, “girl products” (really don’t want to get caught wearing leo and tights and nothing else without that…), theraband, tennis ball, water bottle, snack. Oh, and once I start going to drop-in Evening Class again, I should keep some cash in case I forget my wallet and can’t pay for my class again like that one time…

I keep spares of (almost) everything because I tend towards scatter-brainedness and forget my slippers on average once a week. You have no idea how many times I’ve been comfortably about to drift off to sleep and then it’s “Oh crap! I have to take my freshly washed leotard and tights off the shower curtain rod and put them in my bag so I don’t forget them tomorrow. But I don’t want to get up – what to do?”

At least if I know I have spares it helps me to relax a little (instead of staying up half the night worrying about it). All the hair-related stuff will ensure that I get – and keep – my hair in a proper ballet bun, instead of it flying around during turns.  A tennis ball and theraband are good to warm up, strengthen, or massage the feet.  Water and a snack are necessities.

Bun-making supplies! I recently switched it up to both straight bobby pins and these newer curled ones that hold better.

Bun-making supplies! I recently switched it up to both straight bobby pins and these newer curled ones that hold better.

Of course, if I forgot the whole bag at home I’d be screwed. Lately I’ve been thinking about having a back-up dance bag that stays in the car at all times…

Where did you get your bag and how long have you been using it?

Funny story: The day that I first bought my ballet gear – at least my very first leotard, slippers , and (now long-dead) tights – was the same day that I picked up my textbooks for the semester. I went by the dance store right after finishing up with my classes for the day, and when it came time to put away the ballet stuff, so that I wouldn’t forget it the next day, I stuck it in the textbook’s bag.  The pretty pink dance bag store ripped fairly quickly, but I noticed the textbook’s bag was super durable. A dance bag was born!

(Just realized I didn’t answer the question until later – at the school bookstore and for 2 years.)

Is there anything dance-related you keep in your bag at all times?

All the stuff listed in the first question is in my bag at all times (except while it’s getting washed. Then only the spares would be.)

Is there anything you keep in your bag for good luck?

Actually, no. Now I’m thinking maybe I should…

If your bag had a name what would it be?

Oh gosh, I don’t know…I am terrible at naming things.

“Name me!” says the still-unnamed bag, pictured here with a theraband.

How badly does your bag smell right now?

It smells lovely 🙂 No, seriously, when I get home I immediately take out the slippers I wore that day to air them out. And since I don’t change again after class, but wear my ballet gear home, it doesn’t sit in my bag to stink it up and doesn’t wind up in the bag again until it’s been washed and aired out.  (And according to one of my classmates, my homemade lotion smells like cupcakes, so yeah, yummy…)

If there is anything you could change about your bag and its contents, what would it be?

If there was an unlimited supply of leotards that sprouted out of it, that would be nice 🙂 Or if it had magical ballet-powers that would make me a good dancer that’d be even better…

Anything else you want to mention?

Yeah: when we started our relationship two years ago I never dreamed we’d make it this far. Here’s to many more years of our dance bag-dance student partnership!

An outtake with my cat Mudgey, reponsible for destroying my first ever pair of pink tights

An outtake with my cat Mudgey, reponsible for destroying my first ever pair of pink tights

Thursday Class: … I Was Dancing!

Similar barre to Tuesday, with one exception: We started doing echappe and changements at the barre from fifth instead of from first. Instead of just doing 8 of them in a row we did 3 in a row, sous-sus balance, another 3 in a row and sous-sus balance.  After this, Teacher demonstrated going from sous-sus to soutenu, which we then used to switch sides in our rond de jambe combination.  We did rond de jambe en l’air as well as a terre. While we didn’t face the barre, we didn’t use arms either, to my disappointment. I wish there were a class level between BC and IC – using arms during rond de jambes, but not some crazy tempo 4-quick-rond-de-jambes-while-the-arms-only-do-1-revolution-and-end-in-some-weird-pose thing, you know!?

Center was fun, and now that the memories of IC are starting to fade I’m finding myself looking forward to center again, not feeling impending doom… The balance combination was 4 balances, tombe, pas de bourree, releve sous-sus, other side, arms optional.  Guess who got asked to come on up to the front row? Unfortunately, it didn’t happen, as some mean lady took up two spots (we ended up with only 4 in front instead of 5), but it was nice to be mentioned 🙂  We ran through the combination several times.  As I often do during class center – got to take advantage of the huge mirrors – I was making sure my technique was as good as I could make it, all pointed feet and making sure to use my plie, and the thing is, it looked alright but it felt so stiff.  So the second time through, I don’t even know how to explain it, it’s not like I was paying less attention to technique – though I suppose I may have been – but I just kind of went with with, kind of trusted myself that I know the combination, that I have it in my muscle memory. And then… I was dancing. It felt so different from the way the first time through the combination felt!  So graceful, so pretty.  May have looked the same, or not. I wouldn’t know since I actually was not staring at my limbs in the mirror the whole time for once.  It felt nice though, like all the practice and hard work is worth it. Some ballet teacher (can’t remember which) said once that we take class so that the moves can be in our muscle memory and then they just come out and we can express ourselves once we get proficient in them. That sounds like the dream right there, to express myself through movement without having to actually think about the movements themselves.

My chaines to the left were better than to the right again today, just as they had been up until a few months ago. It’s so weird, like I’m changing best sides or something. For some reason my body just doesn’t want to turn to the right now. Perhaps I’m confusing my body, as before I started Pilates I had no idea how uneven the sides of my body were – in more ways than one – and I’ve been working on “evening out” my body more, switching up which side I lay on and stuff.   Or perhaps I’m just getting psyched out, having to go all the way across the floor of the whole studio.  When Teacher told the rest of us to practice on our own while she helped the more beginner students learn how to go from practicing the chaines turn prep (one half turn at a time, hand on shoulders. I posted a video a while back) to going up on releve to do them, I was able to turn just fine to both sides – though left did feel stronger.  A few of us began practicing pique turns as well, which was lots of fun.

We saute, echapped and changement at a much slower tempo today.  Apparently it’s supposed to be harder, but for whatever reason it felt easier than the regular speed saute, echappe, changement combination we normally do. Easier to stay on tempo, easier to jump up high and point the feet, to use the plie.  At regular tempo I either start jumping too quickly and not using my plie or jumping too slow and then trying to catch up.  I don’t know why I have so much difficulty with this. My legs are strong (as evidence by the stretches we do with a partner in which we developpe,then they pull up our legs as high as we can take it without compromising alignment, then they let go of our leg and we see how long we can hold it up. Without fail, every single time we do that I am able to keep my leg up for a long time, always surprising my partners – I guess I look weak and unflexible? I remember last summer E Teacher complimented me on my leg strength, though corrected me that in grand battements the objective is not to hold your leg up there but to kick your leg and bring it back.) so I don’t know if lack of strength is still the problem or maybe I just don’t have any natural rhythm?  Jumps are easily my worst part of class still.  Except possibly for jetes, I like jetes.

The chasse, grand battement jump with arms across the floor still has me ending class in a bad mood. (Edit: I meant a good mood. No idea why I wrote “bad” (unless it was some kind of Freudian slip…), I actually really enjoy this across the floor.) And yes, I’ve been doing it up and down the sidewalk…

As for my own practice at home, by now the beated frappes are definitely making more sense.  Don’t know if I’m being optimistic, but I think the switching front-back of the beats is starting to get in my muscle memory (at a slower tempo, of course).  I think a great goal would be to be able to do them at regular speed by the time I am able to go to Evening Class again (since we always frappe there).  I’ve also been working on the turning-your-head-towards-the-leg-that-will-be-in-front thing, and it’s getting much smoother as well.  By this point the first tendu combination we learned in IC (two tendus devant, temps lie, two tendus derriere, temps lie, four tendus a la seconde, pas de basque, pirouette en dehors) is finally looking less sloppy – only took me six weeks to get it! The across the floor waltz we learned in IC is also getting a little bit easier, though I haven’t tried to incorporate the arms yet. Don’t know if I should wait until the feet part is solid before doing arms, or to slowly work on both simultaneously.

I feel like rather than go through this whole IC disaster I could have just looked up more complex combinations on youtube and tried to see if after a couple months of practice I could do them.  I mean, I understand attending BC in order to get corrected on technique and the basics, but I think I should just practice the harder stuff on my own before attempting it in public.  It’s just completely unpredictable still which steps my body will adapt to almost effortlessly and which are just impossible for me though not even that hard in theory.

Tuesday Class: Beginner’s Rule!

Lately I’ve been hanging out (well, I guess you don’t really hang out in ballet class. I meant “stand near and occasionally shoot nervous glances at, as well as even hide behind…”) more with the beginner students.  You  know, beginners who are taking ballet for the first time ever (since the beginning of the semester), as opposed to all of us in BC – with our various skill-levels and histories with ballet.

I like it, takes off the pressure (which may not exist outside of my head, but to me it’s real) to do any better than my own personal best. Trying to be good enough for IC was just not working out for me, and ever since I’ve decided to just take BC it’s been so much more fun.  Being around all the first-time beginners reminds me of that time when I just couldn’t wait – or even imagine – being able to do beginner-level combinations in center, or even barre for that matter.  Back then I would watch the other students doing even a basic barre (like what we did today), and they looked so graceful and fluid and lovely and I wanted that. Not to blow up my own ego, but I’d say my basic beginner-level barre looks passably graceful, fluid and lovely, at least to someone with undiscerning eyes.

Shared the barre with a ballet beginner, and we had a short chat while stretching before Teacher showed up.  While she is a ballet first-timer this semester, she told me about her dancing background: no ballet, but all through high school she was on a dance team and they rehearsed for 5 hours a day. Oh wow, during high school I mostly sat on the couch reading books (lol, pre-internet) and stuffing my face with pizza.  Yeah, I really need to remember that even all of us first-time ballet beginners do not start off at the same place. Nevermind that for me it’s been 14 years since high school, and for her like 2…

We did plies with one hand at the barre, yay! It was nice to get to incorporate some port de bras into it.  Cambre forward was introduced (to the people who haven’t taken this class before, I mean) and I remembered when I first started out how I was like ‘I’m totally gonna do that one day!’ and at the time my legs were so weak that I felt like I was going to fall over while trying it.  I’ve really come a long way ballet-wise, and will definitely be thinking more about that than how far I still have to (hypothetically) go.

Tendus and degages were still facing the barre, though the second time around each combination we did it with no hands on the barre.  Once again, as I said at some point – many times – last semester: so glad that Teacher was not my first ballet teacher ever; if I’d had to tendu and degage with no hands my first semester I would have cried (and fallen over, repeatedly).

But then we did a passe, 2 rond de jambe en dehors, balance in second arabesque, cambre forward, 2 rond de jambe en dedans, balance with leg out in front (straight, so it’s not an attitude, but don’t know what to call it) combination with one hand at the barre. So I guess there was a good variety for barre work this class.

We did a slightly different – though very similar – balance combination in center, this time doing a really slow and pretty port de bras (which was mostly just bring up our arms from low fifth up to high fifth then open, one at a time, while looking at our hand, then both arms together, but it looked pretty) before 4 balances, tombe, pas de bourree, other side (which meant starting the port de bras with the other arm instead). The balances had a nice slow tempo, and Teacher said it was ok to do arms (which I find super helpful) or not.  I love slow tempo balances, as it gives ample time to really point those feet and coordinate the arms.  When we do faster balances I always feel my feet look sloppy, the back foot not getting enough time to point, the front one coming too far forward.

My chaines to the right were horrible today. I just could not get my head to spot fast enough, and Teacher noticed and corrected me on it.. To make matters worse, I was feeling a bit ill already before class, so I think I was subconsciously keeping myself from whipping my head around super fast.  To the left they were better, as there was just no way they could suck more that the right side ones.

We did way too many sautes and echappes.  I was really starting to feel ill by this point, lol.

Fun across the floor: one glissade (the gallop, not the slide kind), one grand battement, all the way across the floor alternating legs, with arms  (out to second for the glissade, up in high fifth for the grand battement). Which (to a beginner like me) sounds incredibly hard – I mean, when Teacher first demonstrated what we were going to do it looked  so freakin’ hard – but it was actually not that bad and turned out (oops, a pun – my actual turn out was probably terrible to nonexistent…) to feel like actual dancing.  Once I marked it and realized it was actually possibly (as opposed to my clumsy fumbles in IC) it was so much fun.  We didn’t do this particular across the floor last semester as far as I remember – time to read some archives!

This last combination was extra fun, made me feel like skipping to the car 🙂

Thursday Class: Intermediate?

Pretty fun class overall…

Still facing the barre for most of barre, though Techer told the “intermediate” students to do some combinations with one hand on the barre (arm still in second though, not full port de bras).  I didn’t dare try to include myself with the intermediate students, which is way easier on me now that I’ve decided to stop going to IC.  However, when Teacher said that the intermediate students could test their balance during the tendus and degages by letting go of the barre all the way, I tried it out.  I’ve found it’s much easier for me to balance on my left supporting leg, which is the foot that Teacher always corrects me on lifting my arch in.  My right supporting leg takes a bit more effort to balance on, as I’ve noticed when I balance on passe releve as well.

We did a nice and slow fondue and rond de jambe combination which was fun because, as I may have mentioned a few times, I enjoy fondues so much – something about the coordinted movement of the working leg and the supporting leg. I really do enjoy doing nice slow barre combinations and focusing on all the little technical details. Just wish we were doing arms already!

We worked on the attitude leg shape to the back after barre stretches. Teacher said that the knee and foot should be the same height, making a sort of spiral shape. A student from IC demonstrated, and this lady had perfect attitude derriere, her hips and shoulder square to the front, her leg a perfect spiral to her pointed foot.   I’d love to have such a nice attitude one day, and it cheers me up somehow that she’s not one of the younger teens but a slightly older lady. I wonder if she’s been dancing her whole life, she does everything so well. While explaining the attitude derriere position, Teacher also said if you have the foot way up high it’s more of a Russian-style attitude. I love Russian-style attitudes!

My chaines to the left sucked, possibly more than usual.  Then it was time for sautes and echappes. Before we started, Teacher said to look at the person next to us, and try to jump higher than them.  “No fair, you’re taller than me,” said the lady next to me.

“It’s ok, I’m not a good jumper.”

“Yes, you are.” What? This is the second time I”ve had this conversation in the last two classes.  Now, I know my jumps are not my strong point, so what gives?  Are they trying to be nice or polite, perhaps thinking I’m fishing for compliments? Do they mean “good” relative to a brand-new beginner? Surely it’s not that I’m actually a good jumper, right? In echappes I’m especially bad.  When we close back up it’s sp hard for me to jump high and powerfully, while pointing my feet and not landing incorrectly.  But of course much improved since I first started and I could barely manage a saute.

On across the floor run and jetes, i tried going for two – or was it three – in a row, as I saw that some people were doing that.. Kinda tricky, couldn’t figure out if I’m supposed to leap again immediately after landing or run a few steps in between. Felt kind of awkward, especially going to the left. But I do like how we’re doing more fun across the floor stuff. It seems this semester the progression of classes is not going exactly the same as last semester, we’re learning different things at different speeds.

A couple of students from IC (who usually don’t) took BC with us, making this class slightly more full of experienced dancers than usual.  Teacher had all of them do the balance combination at a tempo twice as fast as we’ve been doing with arms, so that the beginners would see what it looks like to do it faster I guess. They did it a few times, as I watched with the beginners.  I wasn’t expecting to be included, so when she asked a couple of us to try it along I felt a bit unprepared, couldn’t get the timing right. It was fun though, and my balances have gotten more fluid and pretty. I wish I knew when I can do intermediate student stuff or not…

Been practicing all the other stuff that I’d learned in IC at home. My beated frappes (at a pretty slow tempo) have been improving, I’m starting to get the coordination of where to beat and where to strike.  Also working on those fast degages with the slow port de bars. Really wish I had a bigger space to practice center combinations… though looks like things may be looking up on that soon. *fingers crossed*

Tuesday Class: BC For Me

Tuesday I took Beginner Class only. I was hoping that knowing I would go home immediately after instead of staying for Intermediate Class would make BC more enjoyable – after all, ballet class comes at the end of a long (12 hour) day away from home at school and my ballet skills are not really coming out after spending so many hours hunched over a book.  For the most part it worked, BC was fun and it was nice to be able to focus on technique without feeling lost and behind the whole time. It was nice to be home an hour and a half earlier than usual and catch up on little household tasks.

So yeah, I think that’s it for IC. It was an eye-opening experience, it really has been…

Back to BC.

The only guy in the class (absolute beginner five weeks into it) shared my barre today – front and center  – as it was the only spot left.  No one else wants to share my barre; all the people I knew from last semester insist on being at the wall barre, and all the newer people kind of paired up. I have a good spot though, we had the mirror right in front, the way I like it.  Of course I embarassed myself by falling out of my first first-position-no-hands-on-barre releve balance of the day (yes, I still do this. By the time I’m completely warmed up I can do brief passe releve balances or releve arabesque balances, but one the first balance of the day I sometimes can’t find the old center of gravity right away.), which is something I’ve almost started to expect to happen.  I feel so embarassed, but like I said at times I almost expect it as a fact of life. I just wish I didn’t feel as though everyone noticed – which they probably inevitably do, as like I mentioned, I had a barre in the front.  Oh yeah, and we’re still facing the barre for most of barre.  Probably good for lower body technique, but other than cambres back and to the side we’ve done absolutely nothing with the arms (at least at barre).  All this time I’d been getting my use-the-arms fix in IC, so now I’ll have to wait until later in the semester when BC picks up a bit more. (And of course the whole practicing at home thing.)

We did lots of releve echappes, but only from first so there was no changement action.  Kind of boring, but I guess we’ll be waiting until later in the semester to do those too. Today we did them holding the barre, luckily.  I really don’t like doing releve echappe changemens without the barre because I feel almost certain that I’ll tip over.  Right now I’m so paranoid writing this, that someone out there is snickering like “Girl’s got her priorities twisted; she wants to do something less ‘boring’ but she can’t even balance!” And maybe I do have twisted priorities, but to me doing more complex stuff at barre is more fun than trying to force myself to do stuff that seems impossible. It was a great calf workout though.

Teacher corrected me on my left foot’s arch not being lifted (on flat, not releve). One of my bad habits, for sure. I have the muscle to lift it, I just forget.  It’s not even my weaker foot, so I don’t know what my deal is. I do think that it started off as an adjustment to be able to balance barre-less at all when I first started (when I first started I could barely balance in my ballet slippers on flat woth two feet). Being forced to balance barre-less before being ready is (in my totally non-expert and quite possibly uninformed opinion) a huge contributor to Bad Habits, or at least it was for me. All I know is that I wasn’t thinking technique, I was thinking ‘How do I get myself to balance so I don’t draw even more attention to myself!”

In center we worked on the same balance combination from last semester (4 balances, tombe, pas de bourree, other side, to refresh the memories).  Chaines the long way across the enormous dance studio, twice as long the distance.  It’s harder, of course, but I start off strong and then, I don’t know, maybe my neck gets tired for spotting? Still, they went ok.  We didn’t do pique turns (too early in the semester) so I did a few after class which were hopefully not taken as showing off. I just really felt like turning!

Sautes and echappes (the jumping kind), still not my favorite part of class. Ever since school started I haven’t been able to go running as often (I’m down to 2-4 times a week, and only around the weekends) and I can’t help but feel that my legs are  getting weaker for jumps. Or is it that I feel slightly more out of breath? It’s probably in my head but it just feels like my jumps are doing the opposite of improving (worsening?), like the power I had a couple months ago is gone..

We chasse galloped across the studio, and then did a ballet run and two jetes or saut de chat (bigger than a pas de chat, and in a forward direction – student choice.  I did the jetes (I hope. At least that’s what I was trying to do…) and I do think my jete-ing ability has improved since last semester, somewhat surprisingly (I don’t get to practice jetes outside of class). Now if only I didn’t have so much difficulty with sautes and echappes…

On the note of the importance of knowing ballet terminology, today Teacher asked one of the really good dancers to demonstrate a move and she got the move wrong; definitely not from lack of skill (seriously, this girl dances so pretty) but from lack of vocab.  I couldn’t believe it, but I guess it’s like firsthand proof of the importance knowing those terms. Not that I have to worry about it, as I don’t get asked to demonstrate moves, but like, good trivia to amuse your friends with and stuff, right?

Anyway, class was mostly fun, and hopefully soon we will be incorporating arms. I’m thinking I should go over my blog archives from last semester to see if I wrote down when we finally started using arms at barre.

Ballet Math and My Pretty Picture Frame

Had a (ballet-related) conversation with Boyfriend this morning…

“Ok, so you know how there’s so much importance on how long  you’ve been doing ballet for? But it’s so arbitrary – I mean, what if you’ve been doing it for ten years but you only take class one a week (rare, I know, but bear with me…) versus someone who has been doing it for two years but goes five times a week? Assuming the classes are the same length wouldn’t they have both been taking class for the same amount of time? Has the other person really been doing it for longer? Or have they both been doing it for the same amount of time?” In case you couldn’t tell,  I am pretty intimidated by people who’ve been doing ballet forever.

“It would appear so…” he answered, almost absentmindedly, and I wasn’t expecting more of a reply.  So then he surprised me with: “But what if it’s not just about the time spent in class?”


“Think about it.  You go to class and you come home and think about what you guys did and you practice it over in your mind. If you’ve only been doing it for a year then you’ve only been doing that for one year -”

“- and they’ve been doing that for that many years, most likely,” I finished, satisfied with our logic. Leave it to ballet, to make everything, even simple math, harder.  “Not only that, when you’re younger time just seems to last longer, like experiencially, you know? Like when you’re 5, a year will be a fifth of your life, and when you’re 10 it’s a tenth and so on. So I’ve been doing it for a much smaller fraction of my life as well.  Good thing it’s not a race ’cause there’s just no way I’ll ever catch up, it’s mathematically impossible!”

“Yes, Kit.”  LOL, something I love to hear…

Believe it or not, it feels good to have that sort of resolved. Will do absolutely nothing to fix my feelings of being intimidated, but it feels good to understand why.  It helps me keep it in perspective, I am doing just fine for my small fraction. It is not that there’s something wrong with me.

Ignore all my creepy cat knick-knacks in the background...

Ignore all my creepy cat knick-knacks in the background…

In other news, Boyfriend and I went by my favorite thrift store (the one I found a leotard at last October) and I found this cute ballerina picture frame.  I showed it to Boyfriend and he was like “You gotta get it and we’ll take pictures of you doing ballet and put them there.”

Awwww. He’s being really supportive about the my latest ballet-related struggles.

So we got it. Have yet to take the pictures, but I did so a series of pique turns in celebration at the store. So fun, definitely still enjoying ballet and dancing, just need to learn to not be so hard on myself during class.

A more close up picture of the frame

A more close up picture of the frame

And of the ballerina.

And of the ballerina.

Password-Protected Posts

As I’ve decided to go ahead and make some of my (future) posts less public, they will need a password to view. I’ve made an email

Edit: unfortunately, since then the email has been cancelled (out of my control), sorry

at which I can  be reached for password inquiries (Lol, so formal). Or, I guess, if you’d like to engage me in less public forms of communication…

If you’re  a previous commenter or fellow blogger, just email and I’ll grant you access. If you don’t fall into one of those categories I’ll probably want you to prove that you don’t live within 100 miles of me or something…How, I do not know yet…


My phone does not have internet, or rather I should say, don’t have internet access (and therefore, email) on the go.  My email gets checked when I happen to be at home (or anywhere else where I can get some wifi on my tablet) when I remember to check it.  So, what I’m trying to say is, don’t despair if I don’t respond ultra promptly – or a couple of days later.  I know some people check and respond to emails within minutes pretty much at all times.  My phone and I just don’t have that kind of relationship…

On my part I promise I will try to remember to check the email at least every other day once or twice a week…

Please be patient with me.  I’ve lost so many email accounts because I didn’t check them as often as the required 1 time/ month, so once or twice a week is a huge increase, believe me.  It does not mean I’m ignoring you or your email. A quicker way to get my attention is still to leave a comment, as I probably get on WordPress more often than I do email.

Also, most of the posts will remain public.  Just stuff that feels identifiable, controversial (or both) or mortifying/ completely pathetic will be less public.

Umm, I guess, sorry for the inconvenience…?

(I guess my first password protected post is not showing in the reader? The url is   but you still need to email me for the password…)

Two-Class Tuesday: Withdrawn

“We call it passe when talking about the position, but this was an actual real passe,” Teacher said as she demonstrated a real passe, “passe means ‘to pass through’. The position is actually retire, but I use ‘passe’ even when it hasn’t passed through.”

“What does ‘retire’ mean?” a student asked her.

(And no, it’s not pronounced like retire, it’s pronounced re-tee-ray, or possiblie even more French-sounding, for anyone who’s never heard of it.)

“I’m not sure,” Teacher said. She turned to us, “Do any of you know.”


Withdrawn, I thought. It means “withdrawn”. Withdrawn, like me. More silence.

“No one?” she asked. “Well, I guess that’s your homework; look up what ‘retire’ means.”

Why did I not answer? If asked, I’d possibly respond that I don’t like to show off (But that’s not quite true.  I don’t show off, true, but that’s because I don’t feel I have anything to show off. But if I did – if I had even a fraction of the majority of my classmates’ (in IC when the story took place) ballet talent – would I? It’s easy to say you can turn it down when it’s not being presented to you…).  But a truer reason is that to me it is so sad to be the person who can correctly answer the most ballet terms yet sucks the most at doing them.

(True story: I’ve mentioned here and there how my first semester in BC was a total disaster – kind of how IC is going, I guess – as far as the dancing goes, but I seriously got like the first ever 100% on our ballet terms and history of ballet test.  And that’s the day I realized that although ballet class for me is technically at a community college, this class has absolutely nothing in common with regular college classes.  Here, study habits and flashcards were not going to help me…)

I suppose you can tell by my cheerful tone that IC was a booming success? Lol, NOT.


During plies, Teacher told me that my hip alignment (tucking my pelvis) was looking better, at least better than the last couple of weeks. We weren’t holding our grand plies down forever, so that may have helped.  Overall easy barre.

In center, we did balances, the easy waltz step with turns, chaines, sautes and echappes, and finished up with chasse gallops across the floor,  My post de bras with the balances is getting more fluid. The chaines were feeling solid, especially to the right (weird, I remember when left was my better side).   In sautes, I have a diffficulty staying in timing. While my sautes have inproved considerably since I started working out last semester, they are still not some of my best moves.  While doing chasse gallops I kept thinking about how much easier they are with running shoes on (as I usually practice them out on the field after finishing up my run) than in ballet slippers.


Very challenging and quick set of barre combinations. So glad that BC essentially functions as one super long warm up, as there’s no way I’d be able to jump right into that straight off the street. Kept getting confused as to what direction we were going, which leg was in front. Or multitasking with the port de bras. During one combination that involved both degages and piques, at some point I was just flinging my leg to the side, neither pique-ing nor degage-ing.  I caught myself though, but it was just so hard to stay focused on everything that was going on.  It’s like either I obviously mess it up (like wrong leg, wrong direction), or I mess it up in more subtle ways (like the whole bad alignment, sticking the pelvis out, and not leaning my upper body forward thing).  I think I managed to get the plies combination correct at least…

Center.  New tendu combination, 2 tendues a la seconde with epaulement alternating legs, 4 degages a la seconde also alternating legs. Forgot the rest of it, but I do remember that I didn’t completely mess it up.  I was actually getting the whole “turning your head towards the leg that will be in front” thing, improvement since a few weeks ago (and that was at barre).

A combination, possibly the extremely-difficult-waltz-step one, included promenade in center, leg bent back in attitude.  No idea which direction we went in, too busy thinking “What?! Holy crap!” when Teacher was giving out the combination.  After the promenade the leg was to go through passe (retire) to a front extension – I guess a developpe, but a quick one – then not really sure what happens, and then chaines off into the sunset (or the corner of the studio).  On the left supporting leg (right leg in attitude)  the promenade went surprisingly better than I expected – not that I had expected much.  On the right supporting leg I couldn’t really find my balance and the direction we were supposed to turn and the direction my body wanted to turn were not matching up.

Never thought I’d promenade in center; last semester I couldn’t even promenade at barre. I enjoyed that part of the combination.  As for the rest of it, I was always behind, and at times moving random. The waltz step (that I had been feeling proud of myself for practicing at home and almost getting it right plus arms) was being done about three times faster than I could keep up with.

Petite allegro (glissade, assemble, x3, pas de chat x2, pas de bourree, changement, other side) was making a little bit more sense as to what I was supposed to do. Actually doing it was another matter.I smacked my foot on the floor doing – rather, attempting to do – one of the assembles. Instead of the changement, Teacher gave the option of doing this jump, called a royale (spelling?) that looked so light and fluttery.  Looked so pretty, but I knew that I wasn’t going to be taking that option.  Then Teacher said we were going to be doing more beated jumps during the semester and I groaned on the inside.

For most of the combinations I was just hoping to hide in the back, away from Teacher’s watchful eye. I am beyond corrections, it’s just like “Hey, it’s terrible, all of it! Where to even begin?

Why did I even sign up for IC? WHY?

(I know why, but I’ll save it for a later post…)

I do like how I can do BC level stuff a little easier and more out of reflex/muscle memory. I don’t like how at times – many, many times – I have no idea whatsoever what I’m doing.  I especially dislike being the worst dancer in class.  Not that I’m even good in BC either apparently…