Time, that is.
A couple days ago, I received this in my notifications,
congratulating me on my blog-anniversary. And my first thought was ‘What?! A year?! Where did the time go?!’. Ok, I guess that was three thoughts, but I’ll consider it a 3-in-1. My second thought was ‘How appropriate, given that lately I’ve been going over my video footage of my early ballet history!’ (Of course, my earliest videos predate this blog by over a year, since I didn’t begin ballet-blogging until I was almost a year and a half into balleting.)
I like to watch my videos periodically, mostly to remind myself how far I’ve come and not get too down when it feels like I’m not going anywhere. It’s a good feeling – sometimes you really have to be your own #1 fan! My whole life there’s never been anything that I was good at – not that I’m saying I’m good at ballet – and I usually gave up and quit completely, given my obvious lack of aptitude. Being an adult helps, I think. Not only because of the (presumed) maturity level, learning the importance of hard work and dedication, and knowing how steps are supposed to look, but also because it’s completely up to me. I can stop if I want, I can continue if I want. No one else is going to harass me about “Why are we spending money on dance lessons if you’re not improving?!” or “So-and-so’s daughter is already this far along, why aren’t you?” or any other similar nonsense. While I didn’t have the opportunity to try ballet in childhood, these kinds of things happened with other activites I was enrolled in, so I have to assume if I’d gotten to try ballet it would have turned out (accidental pun?) the same way.
Anyway – before I go down the trail of negativity about my childhood – starting ballet as an adult has been a great experience. Blogging about ballet has been awesome as well – I love having class notes all together in an easily accessible place to review at my leisure. And videotaping myself during those early days was a very useful idea. The only thing I regret is not having done it even more…
Here is a screenshot from one of my videos from first semester. The first thing I thought when I watched it a couple days ago was ‘Hellooo, arched back!’. It’s pretty horrible, huh? To be fair, this was during the era when I couldn’t even tendu away from the barre in any direction without falling over.
As you can see, my first semester I was too shy to rock the pink tights. I was mostly trying to blend into my surroundings. It kinda worked…
And then, for comparison’s sake, here’s a screenshot from a video a year later. This one’s only about a month pre-blog:
Now, I know I’m not wearing regulation ballet attire (and we all know that a leotard and tights is the best way to identify alignment flaws), but it does appear there’s some improvement, at least as far as tucking in that pelvis. My shoulders appear horribly out of whack though, as this is way before I learned to engage my lats. And I’m sure that’s not the only alignment issue going on, either. It’d totally be easier to tell what’s going on with a leotard and tights, but it was like 95 degrees in the apartment that day! (The same reason I’m not taking some fresh pictures to share with all of you today, actually.)
I’m really wishing I could upload whole video clips, as it shows what’s going on more that still pics or screenshots. Ballet is not a still art, after all, and without movement it’s just pretty (or not so pretty when done by me…) poses, though I do realize while dancing the dancer’s body has to go through certain poses. Or something. Anyway, I’m still trying to think of a way to upload videos without comprimising ye old anonymity…
What I will say, though, is that watching the video clips does provide me with a pretty accurate idea of what my ballet level was at any given time. In the video the first screenshot is from, for example, I couldn’t even coordinate my arm and working leg to move at the same time. My tendus, especially derriere, are slow and hesitant. Let’s not even get started about my arm movements at all…
By the next video, my tendus are quicker, almost resembling ballet. My passes are turned out, my plies are deeper. My shoulders are still much too forward, but at least my hand no longer flops there like a lifeless fish at the end of my a la seconde arm.
I’ve also been working on my feet. Besides the theraband exercises (pointing and flexing ankles and toes), I’ve also just been trying to use the muscles that stretch the toes out. It’s pretty hard, but I’m getting stronger. At first all I could go was stretch out my toes in weird directions, but slowly I’m getting them to go straight out.
You have no idea how much mental effort it took to do this at first. Like, I had to stare at my feet while doing it and feel almost like I was forcing them to do it. It felt so strange, but my foot muscles are starting to get used to it. Muscle memory rules!
From there I’ve gone on to working on pointing my feet while keeping the toes outstreched, instead of them curling. I can’t really see a difference in how it looks, but I’m assuming curling toes is bad regardless.
And then, just for comparison, how my feet are usually. A candid pose, if I was to look at my feet at any given point, not while doing the foot exercises. I think before I started doing these exercises my toes were even more curled, so I do believe it’s working.
And then, I managed to get a rare picture: Boyfriend pointing his foot! At random he’ll be sitting there pointing his feet, and I swear, I’m so jealous because his feet seem so much more suited for ballet than mine. He has a higher instep and he can point further than me. I’m always trying to get him to let me take a picture and he won’t,lol – though at least he will point them whenever I ask him. I told him if we have kids I hope they get his feet and he said he got his feet because when he was little he used to wish he was a ninja and would walk around on tippy-toes (releve) lol!
Anyway, this post is getting kinda rambley… it was fun having random-picture-sharing-time though 🙂
As soon as I clear some space on this tablet (and the weather cools down – as doing ballet in a leotard in this heat in this apartment is just not going to happen) I will film some current ones to see what other changes in my technique or alignment have occured! As well as continue to work on feet…