Back To Regularly Scheduled Life

 

 

It feels like forever since I wrote on this blog, though it’s only been a little over a week…I miss it so much though, so even though I don’t have anything good to share I’ll write anyway. Just a heads up though – this post is kind of a mess. Since I wrote the last post, I’ve been kind of a mess…

I haven’t taken a ballet class since the last one I wrote about. It’s been a crazy week.  My body has apparently decided to revolt against me…

In my last post, I mentioned how we were working on sissones in class. When landing one of them, I landed a little weird (meaning not quite pain, but I felt something), which translated to a soreness in my hip. For whatever reason, my thighs had been unusually sore for a few days even before class as well, so it wasn’t very apparent at first.  I thought ‘no big deal’, iced my hip and thigh, and went to sleep. Wrote the last post…

Last weekend (right after writing the post) I was helping my parents move. During the moving process, my dad collapsed (he’s a diabetic and he doesn’t manage his blood sugar all that well) and while helping to pick him up  before the ambulance arrived I pulled my back slightly. So by the start of the week I was already sore both in my upper and lower body. To make it worse, by Tuesday I was also experiencing some unexplained pain in my knee (same side as the hip).

By Wednesday I was so upset by all of the above mentioned things that I didn’t even want to get up. I blew off school completely (which is so unlike responsible dependable me, but anyone who knows me personally would start figuring out that things were not well in Kit-land). When I finally did get up, it felt like my knee and lower leg were where the majority of the soreness was concentrated, and my hip felt a little better. Or perhaps it was that it was just better in comparison to the throbbing knee. I spent the rest of the day curled up on the couch, crying intermittently.

Thursday I woke up stiff, sore and freezing cold. While the only goal I was committing to was to make it to the couch, a phone call with my dad cheered me up slightly, and I motivated – at the time it felt more like forced -myself to go spend the day with my family. The first few steps out of my apartment and into the cold sucked majorly – every step felt like it was pounding right to my knee. Getting into my car also sucked –  honestly, by this point the idea of me being able to dance anytime in the near future seemed more and more unlikely.

(And did I mention I’m supposed to have a performance coming up?!)

The weirdest thing is that as soon as I got to my parent’s and headed down the hallway towards their apartment, my leg felt so much better. This lifted my spirits and I remained cheerful and mostly pain-free for the duration of my visit. At this point I started to wonder (among other crazier thoughts, which I won’t get into here…), was my pain all in my head? After all, I haven’t fallen, or even gone jogging or practiced jumping in the days immediately before the pain started. It just made no sense.

When I returned home  that night, the pain returned, although not as intense. I think this is around the time we figured out that the cold seems to have a huge effect on my knee pain  – as long as I stay warm it doesn’t hurt. Now armed with this knowledge, I spent the rest of the long weekend bundled up underneath like 5 or 6 layers of clothing or taking boiling hot showers. I guess it’s good to know that moving up north to a higher latitude – and the accompanying colder weather – would be a terrible idea for me; my body would probably just fall apart!

So now it’s been about 12 days since the hip issue started, and about a week since the knee pain began. They good news is that my knee is doing better everyday (my hip is not doing worse necessarily, but it just faded to the background when my knee pain started to flare up). My back has recovered completely as well (or at least it’s not doing that pinching feeling when I bend over, which is good enough).

While I still have yet to return to ballet class, I have been to a rehearsal and Modern class once (today). I was really apprehensive about participating in Modern, but I told M Teacher about my pain and how any jumping or hard landings are out of the question. I actually had a really great time in class – it felt so awesome to just move! But I’ve been so anxious about returning to ballet class. I’m paranoid that the reason Modern didn’t aggravate my body (the hip, specifially) is because we didn’t really work in turnout (or at least not an extreme ballet-style turnout), much less fully crossed 5th position.

Here’s the thing: while I realize that according to some (all? most? those in the know?) people it’s not really ballet unless you’re working in 5th (as opposed to 3rd) I really don’t want to quit ballet, I just love dancing so much. But, being rational for a moment here, I don’t want to completely wreck my body by forcing my tight adult ligaments to stretch in ways they don’t – or can’t . At the age I began ballet (with no childhood stretching experience whatsoever), I feel it’s unlikely that I will achieve the kind of turnout needed to actually cross my fifth without it looking like fourth.

So I don’t really know my options here (once the pain is gone, of course). Stick with Basic beginner class where we mostly just work in first? Try to learn ballet only on my own at home again? I really, really, really don’t want to quit – the idea of that breaks my heart.

And I really hate feeling like I had no business even trying to do ballet, like it’s not meant for me, because I’m just so weak and fragile.

Last night, a friend of mine came to visit. We were close several years ago (or at least as close as I let people to me), but at around the time I started ballet we started to drift apart and she moved out of state.  I never told her that I do ballet. As we talked, I realized – yet again – how big a part of my life ballet has become. I still didn’t tell her, so it was apparent to me more in the gaps and pauses, all the things left unsaid. The main reason I didn’t say anything is because I’m worried she will tease me and I’ll feel dumb for dedicating so much time and energy towards ballet.  I mean, it’s like in the almost three years since we stopped hanging  together almost every single day (and wasting our time and energy, lol) our lives took very different paths: she’s been all over the place, traveling the world, and I’ve been here trying to make myself a ballerina. It’s not that I wish I had her life – I don’t even particularly like the idea of traveling – but I know that her interests have become more along the lines of “the norm” while mine are not understandable to many people.  It irritates me that I feel this way, but I have no idea how to just not care.

Issues, I have them…

Anyway, I hope to have more happy dance-y things to share soon.

Thanks for reading 🙂

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27 thoughts on “Back To Regularly Scheduled Life

  1. Trippmadam

    Did you see a doctor about your pain? He/she might be able to identify the cause and do something about it. When we dance, especially those of us who started later in life, we need to take good care of our bones and ligaments. After all, we want them to serve us for a long time.
    About the (in)famous fifth position: that you are not able to stand in fifth position now does not mean you will never be. Adult bodies often need more time to adjust to new activities. I, for example, have been horrible at turns most of my life. Suddenly, in my early forties, some things fell into place and now I can do beautiful turns most of the time.

    Reply
    1. kit Post author

      I haven’t yet, especially since I noticed that the symptoms are mostly aggravated by the cold. I’m taking it super easy on my body, staying as warm as I can, and we’ll see from here.
      While I don’t doubt with enough time and practice I could slowly adjust to new things (like fifth position), my main point – which I think I did a terrible job of getting across and I think I’ll write a new post specifically about it when I get some free time – was that the ONLY class available for me to take (with my budget) in which they don’t push fifth very strongly is Basic beginner class. And I really do want to give my body the time to adjust. It’s not been MY impatience to get to a crossed fifth that’s been stressing my joints and ligaments, as I’d be fine with working in 3rd and just slowly over the years crossing more. It’s been more of a teacher pressuring me about it every single class issue. I have been reading a lot about adult bodies and flexibility ever since this pain happened and the recurring theme seems to be that adults need to take it slow!

      Reply
      1. Trippmadam

        If your teacher insists so much, perhaps she can also tell you what to do to improve. Some exercises you could do at home. I have a feeling that teachers do not ask for things we won’t be able to do.

      2. kit Post author

        She’s been working with me on exercises to strengthen the hip rotator muscles for turnout, and a lot of different stretches for flexibility. And since the right side side seems to be responding beautifully, it gives the impression that I can possibly become very flexible. However, the left side (the hurt side) has been slower to improve as far as flexibility, and my turnout in that side is less than on the other.
        I think the teacher is well-intentioned, but in my opinion, someone who has been dancing since they’ve been walking would not be able to comprehend first hand how difficult some things can be when you’ve been sedentary and unathletic for pretty much your whole life before attempting ballet (I know it’s not the same thing, but for example, I started learning to read when I was two. This would be like if I told someone who was illiterate until the age of thirty and has been only reading for two years to keep up with college students). And since she’s used to working with kids and teens, I think she expects a faster recovery rate than my adult body can do.

  2. Basia

    Don’t be so hard on yourself!!
    Remember for whom are you doing ballet. It’s for you, and it’s your experience – your friend travels, and thats her experience… She’s probably not expecting people to judge her choice right or wrong.
    What I guess I’m saying is that it’s for your enjoyment (you’re allowed to enjoy it…says your virtual fairy godmother waving her wand)
    It seems much of your choosing whether or not to continue stems largely from the judgements that you’re making about whether you’re good enough etc. I had the same, and I realised that I’m doing this for me, and I’ll be as good as I can be for me, and I’ll give my 100%.
    I’m sure gym goers, bike riders, runners all have the same doubts and judgements about themselves relative to others.
    Most of the time I find people don’t really care what I do, they only care about their own stuff. I mean, you wouldn’t judge me if I suddenly dropped ballet…. You’d maybe wonder why, but I’m guessing you’d spend less than 10min thinking about me and then thinking back to what you’re doing…. Anywho that’s my 10c worth, and I’m hoping you’ll feel better soon and go back to your joy 😂 😀😀

    Reply
    1. kit Post author

      Hmm, I realized that it does sound like I’m saying that if I quit it’s because I’m not good enough. Which I guess I am saying indirectly, but I comletely failed to make my point (and will write a later post to clarify).
      First off, yes I completely and totally do enjoy ballett, and have been enjoying it ever since I’d only been doing it for a few weeks and my arms had bent pointy elbows and I couldn’t even point my foot. It does bring me lots of joy, which is why I’d be so saddened to quit.
      As for quitting, the source of my distress is that most of my teachers keep trying to insist that I cross my fifth completely, and it’s just too much too soon for my body. While I’ve been doing ballet almost 3 years, for the first year or so I worked in only first, then in third for another year, but now my teachers (with the exception of Basic beginner class) keep insisting on fifth and my body is protesting. And it’s not a general class correction either, but “Hey, you right there! Cross that fifth!” during every single exercise, pausing the class until I do it correctly, etc. And the source of my anguish is that I know I would absolutely thrive in an adult-beginner-centered environment where they’re not expecting to turn you into a pro, but my budget can only afford these classes (where “adult” mostly means 18-20). So, when I feel like I’m not good enough, it’s more like “silly poor lady thought she could break across social/class lines”. I know I’m not as good at ballet as the children (well, they’re starting to look like children to me), and I’m fine with that, since I started from scratch as an adult. I just don’t want to injure myself trying to keep up (because I do have a tendency to give it my all, even though I’m regretting it later). Hope this makes sense.

      Reply
      1. Basia

        Oh I’m so sorry I misunderstood!! Hopefully I didn’t come off sounding nasty! I guess I should read what I write aloud so I get the tone right.

        That’s really tricky if you keep getting corrected – I know of one girl in my class that gets the correction too. It’s hard to say to teacher “I’m trying! Body doesn’t want to! ” The teacher ignores it and if they’re hands-on they grab your foot and force it.
        I think they are just expecting it to be like for children…
        You can’t force your body too fast if not ready. I have improved bit by bit but not through force.
        I guess you could just ignore that correction and just keep going to class and improving.
        I do hope that your hips heal and you can go back. Sorry if I came off as condescending or similar ☺

      2. kit Post author

        No worries, I’ve whined about that before too (feeling like I wasn’t good enough so I should quit), after all, LOL 🙂
        Yes, it is like that exactly! She corrects, gets hands on, and it’s like ‘I understand what I’m supposed to be doing, but my body doesn’t want to cooperate’. And it IS because she’s used to working with children and pre-pro teens. Since I started taking class with her when I’d already been doing ballet for over a year and a half, she never got to see first hand just how terrible I was when I started. I think if she had that perspective she would definitely go easier on me (when I took class again with my first teacher ever, she kept checking with me to make sure I was ok with everything. I think she remembers…)
        I want to just ignore the correction but I’m scared she’ll correct me hands on about it – or other scary hands on corrections like taking my leg in arabesque waaaay to high for comfort. For now, she knows I’m hurt so she said to just work in first.

      3. Basia

        Sheesh! I guess it’ll be a while before ballet teachers start to reassess their approach to real adult beginners… Its only just taking off in the whole world, where it would have been unthinkable once that a 25+ year old to attempt ballet as a non work interest.
        My school has just gone totally all adults only – no pre professionals anymore. So they are recognising a need that people have.
        It will take time, but not thaaat long given the changes in the world in the last 100 years due to technology…

      4. kit Post author

        That’s true, being an adult ballet beginner is still a relatively new thing – we’re pioneers in a way!
        One of the places I go take class at has said they will be starting an adult program for ballet, but more than being for actual adult beginners it’s for teens that reached the age of majority and have been doing ballet for years.
        I think a lot of people don’t even understand that there is such thing as being an adult beginner. Many of the adults (actual adults, like my age group or older) at classes I’ve taken always keep referring to back when they were younger and how well they danced then. Since now is the best it’s ever been for me, I do feel a little weird sometimes.

  3. ladyintweed

    Screw people who say it’s only ballet if you’re in 5th, that may be true for professionals but unless you’ve had vocational dance training or you’re very lucky that’s not always feasible for the rest of us.

    I started ballet as an adult beginner 5 years ago, I can only work in 3rd and my flexibility is still poor but I have more strength and stability than other people at my level with better turnout.

    One year, two years, three years from now you may still not have a perfect fifth but who knows what else you’ll be able to do? I spent a year working on my backbends and now I can go as far (and sometimes farther) as any of the girls with pre-professional training and most of the ex-vocational dancers. I started beginners pointe a year ago and I danced in the second school show this year.

    Don’t stop.

    Reply
    1. kit Post author

      Thank you – your comment really cheered me up!
      I’m amazed with what I’ve been able to do since I’ve started, and sometimes I do feel like if I stick around with it the possibilities are endless. And I personally have no problem working in third. Someone once said that as long as your upper body looks like it knows what it’s doing (which you clearly seem to with the backbends, and my upper body is coming along nicely, too) and you point your feet, no one else can tell the difference. I’m inclined to agree…

      Reply
      1. ladyintweed

        I’m glad it helped. My teacher only teaches adult beginners and I think that makes a huge difference.

        I love your Learning Curve, it’s important to keep those sorts of reminders around when you have bad ballet days (or weeks).

  4. asher

    I haven’t yet read through all the comments, so someone might have already said this, but here goes…

    The pros I take class with don’t hesitate to work in 3rd if they’re injured and healing — sometimes Brian (who is a working professional dancer in addition to teaching) works in 3rd even if he’s not injured (presumably, he has tight hips or something). I’ve even heard my teachers specifically instruct people with certain injuries to work in third, so you’re in good company all around.

    When you do go back to class, definitely let your teacher know what’s up — she might be able to help you cope with it. My experience with the calf injury early this year indicated that good instructors will kind of guide you through your healing process — as in, they’ll know when to give you the go ahead, but also when to hold you back, provided that you tell them what’s up (totally different from gymnastics, where the philosophy seemed to be, “Are all your body parts still attached? Yes? THEN GET BACK OUT THERE.”).

    I have found that cold also aggravates some of the issues that stem from my joint hypermobility thing (so much for my hardy Yankee blood!), and that — perhaps unsurprisingly — losing body fat (which is, of course, an insulator) has exacerbated this. I am now your stereotypical hothouse flower of a ballet person.

    I’m planning on acquiring a pair of those sweater-like warmers that go all the way up to the top of the hips (some go even higher) in an effort to combat the cold months to come. A lot of dancers in my classes use them, and they look super cool, so if you’ve got room in the Ballet Budget, a pair of those might really help (you can even add regular leg warmers under them if you’re really cold). A pair of fitted sweatpants you can wear during the beginning of barre (or maybe all the way through) could do the job as well (and that’s another thing some of the pros in my classes do; so it’s totally valid :D).

    The other thing that helps the bejeezus out of me is an electric mattress pad — these are pricey, but worth it. They even come in dual-zone models so you can pleasantly bake away while your better half shivers in Spartan misery. While they’re conceptually a bit terrifying (“electric mattress pad” sounds something you expect to follow the phrase, “The tragedy began when their…”), ours has been going strong for like a decade (it predates my tenure here, which is a little weird to think about sometimes! o.O) … and it can make a huge difference on cold mornings (or in the evening, if you’re sore after class).

    OTOH, it can also make getting out of bed stupidly hard.

    Reply
    1. kit Post author

      I had no idea even the pros use 3rd! That’s very reassuring, thanks. I also had no idea that gymnastics culture was even tougher than ballet culture! An acquaintance of mine who is an adult gymnastics beginner broke his leg in two places and tore a ligament landing a jump a few months ago, ending my desire to get in there and add gymnastics to my adult beginner repertoire.
      Hmm, I hadn’t though that my knee issues were related to my hypermobility, but it makes sense. When my knee was feeling at its worse it felt like it wanted to go into hyperextension very easily – much more than normal – so I don’t know why I didn’t get the connection sooner.
      I got myself a pair of those leg warmers that go all the way up the thigh a few months ago, in anticipation of the colder months. Unfortunately, while they ARE long enough to reach my leotard, the elastic band is too tight to pull them all the way up, so I just wear them to mid-thigh. I think I will try wearing some pants over them as well.
      The electric mattress pad sounds like a good idea, but I don’t actually have a mattress – I sleep in a hammock (with about a million blankets). I have something called a heat dish that’s like a portable heater. I’ve been getting in the habit of taking it with me everywhere I go while at home, and aiming it directly at me. If only I could take it with me to class…

      Reply
      1. asher

        Glad to help!

        I’m not sure gymnastics culture is exactly tougher … just crazier 🙂 Kids’ competitive gymnastics assumes that your career will be over by the time you’re, like, 21, so they’re more willing to let you blow up your body.
        To be fair, adult gymnastics programs tend not to be as insane, and newer competition regulations for competitive junior programs have at least backed things down a little, in theory … but there’s definitely still a higher risk profile.

        I’ll have to see if I can find a link to the thing I’m thinking of — there’s a name for them, but all I can think of to call them is “sweater overalls.” I think I’d have the same problem with really tall leg warmers. Discount Dance Supply has the things I’m thinking of here (http://www.discountdance.com/dancewear/style_M1102.html?pid=8784&Shop=Style&SID=777587343) but they’re $40 … ack! o.O There are also less expensive versions, though. Brienne uses these when it’s cold, but she has cool cable-knit ones. Meh. I think I’m going to have to stick with sweatpants or something, myself.

        A hammock sounds lovely — like a nice nest. I love hammocks! Definitely probably wouldn’t work with an electric mattress pad, though.

        A portable heat dish sounds like a great idea, too. Yeah … definitely too bad you can’t bring it to the studio. On really cold days in studio 5 (which is ridiculously cold at night in winter; incidentally, that’s where I blew up my calf) everyone clusters as close as possible to the space heater …(meanwhile, in studios 2 and 3, where I usually take class, we start out freezing but have to open the doors by the end of barre so we don’t sweat to death … oy vey).

      2. kit Post author

        I’d never seen those dance overalls before – and I love them! I feel like if I got them they’d end up creeping into my everyday wardrobe, like my thigh-high legwarmers have. I figured I need to stay warm outside of class, and the hole in the ankle makes them comfortable to wear in regular shoes, like built-in arch support.
        I think studios always tend to fall into either the “too cold” or “too hot” category.

  5. Zoë Simms

    Okay, so I had to post this here, in case you don’t see my post…
    http://zoedoesballet.com/2015/12/02/zoe-does-ballet-the-short-story/

    My thoughts on your situation? If you can only dance in third, so be it. Don’t stop ballet because of a foot position. If it feeds your soul, then give it to your soul.

    Or, stop it and find out. You can always start up again.

    In the end, what do you want to look back and remember yourself doing?

    Sorry to hear about your pains, hope they keep mending. A good physio might be a help, too.

    Reply
    1. kit Post author

      I’d like to dance in third for a while, and slowly ease into closing it more, if my body feels up to it. This means that I’m limited to only certain classes and working on my own, but I think that’s a good idea for a while.
      I read your post, and wow, I’m so sorry to hear that you haven’t been well. At the same time, I’m glad to hear that ballet has been helping you.

      Reply
      1. meetatbarre

        Sorry that things have been crazy, but it sounds like you have a good plan for moving forwards. I think cross training is absolutely essential the more you do ballet, especially working in parallel, to prevent injury. if you can, perhaps you could see a PT to get some exercises to specifically target any biomechanical issues?

      2. kit Post author

        I definitely agree on the importance of cross training, and since I’m still doing Pilates regularly I have been taught exercises that target specific weaknesses (like my knees. In my kinesiology class we were specifically talking about exercises to strengthen the little muscles around the kneecap, and when the teacher used me to demo, she was surprised about how weak mine were relative to the rest of my legs). I think this serves as a wake up call that even though I know the exercises, that doesn’t make any difference if I don’t find time to actually DO them on a regular schedule.
        Also, since I have taken off several weeks worth of classes by now, I’ll especially need to remember to not jump in at full blast once I’m ready, but to ease into it to prevent reinjury.

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