Tag Archives: falling arches

Monday Class, A Little Under The Weather

Honestly, all weekend I was concerned that I may have to miss class today…

Last week, around Tuesday or Wednesday, Boyfriend showed up and home with the symptoms heralding the beginning of a cold.  Last Thursday during class (not ballet, but academic) my lab partner kept sniffling, so I knew it was a only matter of time. What do you know, I spent all Friday, Saturday, and Sunday sick as a dog (seriously, where did that expression come from? My dogs are extremely healthy and even when they aren’t feeling at their best they still don’t really show it, I handle being sick more like a baby than a dog.) Luckily, I don’t stay sick for long – I credit my healthy diet full of vitamim C – and my worries of missing class were all for nothing.

I slept in until 6:15, instead of my usual 6 a.m. sharp on ballet class days.  Figured since I already had my freshly washed leotard and tights set out from the night before I didn’t need a whole hour to get ready before leaving home.  Or was it  because I was feeling lazy and a little under the weather? Yeah, perhaps more of that than it being a carefully thought out plan.  And this is barely week 3 out of 14 of having ballet during what feels like the wee hours of the morning. Good thing once daylight savings time hits I can lie to myself that I’m getting up an hour later to get through it (which works great because it actually is  an hour later).

Despite heavier-than-usual traffic, and damp dreary weather, I made it to class with time to spare.  Had a quick snack/breakfast of plantains and honey in the car and then speedwalked to class.  Did some stretches on the floor then a few warm-up plies and then it was time for class to begin.  

At the barre we did our usual plie and tendu exercises.  Once again Teacher had us let go of the barre completely during our second run-through of our tendu exercise. Unlike the first moments of panic the first time, I’ve found that I enjoy it. It’s like a way of forcing me to engage my core and find my balance instead of overrelying on the barre. We also let go of the barre for the degages, which also went much more smoothly than the first time.

Once again I was corrected on my ankle overpronation (rolling in) while standing in flat.  I like how this teacher is really on top of that. I’ve been working on the ankle overpronation issue but it’s good to be reminded when I forget until my body finally commits it to muscle memory.

My balances at the barre today were pretty good, though we didn’t do anything too advanced. Just balancing in releve and passe in flat.  But I did feel more stable than last class, so I was pleased.

As for the exercise in which we tendu our working leg back and then swing our leg through first position into attitude devant and then swing back through first position to attitude derriere and then back front, etc, that we did last week, this time I made sure to notice what exactly was my malfunction in performing it.  You know, the whole not being in timing thing? Turns out I was right, I was doing it too slow.  When Teacher counts out the timing I can keep the timing and swing my leg on the counts, but as soon as she would just have us keep timing in our heads my timing would fall apart.  It’s like the timing that she counted was too fast for me to naturally keep up with it, but if I make myself hurry up I can do it. It’s a strange feeling actually, or maybe (unless I consciously attempt otherwise) I’m just always moving in slow motion?  

We must have done over a 100 sautes, no lie.  First we did four sets of 8 at the barre ( that’s 32 right there). Teacher wanted us at the barre so we could focus on our feet, specifically on pointing them while in the air and landing correctly, toes first then the rest of the foot.  We were allowed to hold on to the barre for balance, or for really beginning students, to actually use the barre to push up if the jumps didn’t have enough power.  I’m not a first-time-taking-ballet kind of beginner, but my jumps are definitely not one of my strong points, so I was getting help from the barre.  It was pretty cool to really get a feel for how it feels to point the feet while in the air. Oh, and we did the 32 sautes twice, so that’s 64 so far.

In center we did several 8 counts of sautes as well as several 8 counts of sautes and ecchapes (which I apparently forgot how to spell).  So while  I don’t have the exact count (though it could be 112) of how many times my both my feet left the ground completely, I am willing to bet it’s over 100!

While my feet pointing needs some work, I’m glad that at least I can do the arms while doing sautes and ecchappes (spell?). I remember the first time I took ballet not only could I not point my feet, I also couldn’t coordinate the arms or even stay within the same square foot of space on the floor while jumping. So, I know it’s slow, but it’s progress and I’ll just take it and be grateful.  Sometimes, when I see other (beginning) student’s beautiful jumps and get sad,  I have to keep reminding myself that before I started ballet a year and 8 months ago  I had seriously not jumped in like 20 years.   Always have to remind myself to keep it in perspective.  

The center combination that involves tendu a la seconde, plie, close to first, repeat other side, with port de bras and then releve, balance, while bringing up the arms, actually went well today.  I did not lose my balance even though my arms were moving. At some point I felt a wobble coming on and I remembered to tighten my core as hard as I could and that stabilized me. Yay, I’m learning!

No ankle or foot pain today at all, going on seven weeks since I sprained it. 

And even though I had been worried about any of my cold symptoms popping up – especially during all those sautes – I managed to not run out of breath and I only coughed once.  Of course then I coughed the whole way home, but who cares – I survived another awesome day of ballet!

 

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Wednesday Ballet Overload (In a Good Way!)

The day I made it to two classes. Hopefully not the only day…
Wednesday morning class

Before class, I ran into a girl that had taken ballet with me last semester. I asked her if she wasn’t taking it this semester, since I hadn’t seen her in class. She replied that she was actually taking intermediate but she would be taking this class too. It was pretty cool because I had the opportunity to ask her about intermediate. What’s it like? How is it different? She said it’s faster and the teacher calls out the moves, which you are expected to know (in French, of course). Less demonstration and explanation, more calling out the names of moves and doing them! Sounds like fun, hopefully someday for me. Or will I be in “beginner” level class forever?

Once again we did the slow tendues in which it takes two counts to point our foot. I’m starting to get the hang of staying in timing for the slow ones instead of rushing ahead. This time the teacher had us leg go of the barre during the slow tendues instead of the degages. Quite a bit easier!

We did plenty of releves, in first and in second position, and then balancing. While balancing we put took our arms from middle fifth to high fifth and then brought them down to second as we lowered from our releve. To be honest, I’m still finding balancing while moving the arms to be difficult. If I keep my arms still, whether in middle or high fifth, sometimes I feel like I could literally hold the balance for minutes. When there’s arm movement though, it all falls apart. Perhaps it’s an engaging-the-core issue? I hope so, I hope it’s not just the screwy center of gravity issue coming back to haunt me. I thought we had gotten past that.

We also did one-legged balances on flat, with our working leg (foot?) in coupe and then in passe. Since we weren’t moving our arms during that it went ok.

At barre, the main correction I received was regarding my arches. I was letting them fall again. Oops. I’ve been wondering if doing ankle strengthening exercises would help me strengthen whatever muscle it is that needs to be stronger so I can consistently keep them lifted. I can lift them, but them I forget.

For center, after learning my lesson last week, I made sure to stand somewhere where I could see everything the teacher did. This weeks combination was different but still involved port de bras, tendu a la second (right foot), plie, tendu to first (left foot), releve while bringing the arms up. Easy-to-remember combination, but the balancing while releve with the arms was killing me! My lack of balance can sometimes make me feel so ungraceful!

We went across the floor doing our 3-step-fondue-releve-releve-walk (seriously don’t know what to call this!), this time incorporating the arms. It looked so pretty! Well, the people who were doing it right, at least. I was having some coordination issues with the arms and the walking-releveing-fondueing so I won’t say it looked pretty while I did it, but it could have been so much worse!

Next we incorporated a turn into our 3-step-fondue-releve-walk. Something like this: 3 steps to turn (while fondue, releve, releve) and then 3 steps in a straight line (while fondue, releve, releve), the 3 steps to turn (fondue, releve, releve), etc. until we reached the other side of the (HUGE) studio. It sounds way more complicated than it was, I swear. We started with our right side and then did the left.

You know what’s the weird thing? I’m not a lefty – I write with my right hand – but for some reason it’s always easier for me to turn to the left than to the right, whether it be chaines, pirouettes, pique turns, and I can 1-legged balance way better on my left foot (even though it’s the ankle I hurt 6 weeks ago). I can throw better with my left arm than right as well. Boyfriend has a theory that I’m really a lefty but my mom “forced” me to use my right hand, lol. Could be possible, I guess – my little sis is a lefty and my mom did totally try to force her to use her right hand.

We also did a lot of sautes – great way to work up a sweat! I hadn’t done this many sautes since before spraining my ankle. No pain at all, awesome! I don’t remember if I mentioned this before in a post about a different class, but at some point (when I wasn’t thinking about it too much) I figured out the concept of letting yourself land into a plie. It’s something that every teacher has said, but hearing the words and actually doing it are two very different things. I was corrected in my sautes though, because even though I leave the floor with my feet in first position I land with them slightly apart – though not enough to be full-on in second position. But I am getting the hang of pointing my feet while in the air, so I’m still feeling pretty content with my jumping progress.

So I left class happy but with my legs feeling like wet noodles – probably due to all the sautes. Tangent: where does the phrase “wet noodles” to describe tired legs even come from? Wouldn’t it be worse if they felt like dry noodles, you know, stiff and easily broken? I’m picturing horrible bone cracking over here.

Oh, and I picked up my theraband, so I can get my home foot stretching and exercising on!

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This cool oversized rubber band thing is cool.

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You can do stuff like this with it.

Evening class
After triple checking my purse for my wallet – and the $10 specifically – as well as my shoes and snack, I headed out for my evening ballet class. I hadn’t been to this studio for a couple weeks, due to a rainstorm and forgetting my wallet, respectively.

Today’s class had seven students (including two who had never done ballet before) and it was the first time with no guys. There was a pregnant lady, though, who was 7 months pregnant. That got every one talking about that youtube Royal Ballet class video in which a visibly pregnant dancer takes class, as well as other instances of pregnant ballerinas they have seen or known. I thought it was a cool topic because it’s something I would like to do sometime in the next several years ( have a baby or two), so it’s good to hear I may not have to completely give up ballet during some of that time.


This video! If you haven’t seen the video before, the pregnant dancer first makes an appearance at around 15-17ish second into it, near the left side of the frame.

We did this class’ usual plie, tendu, and degage exercises. During the rond de jambe with port de bras part, for the first time I felt like I kind of knew what I was doing when it came to the port de bras, though I still have a ways to go. But last time we did this combination I literally had my arm out when it was supposed up be up, or in front when it was supposed to be out, so at least today I felt like I was following along. I’ll take whatever small accomplishments I can get!

Today in both of my classes we did this exercise I’ve never done before that involves tendu derriere, then swinging the leg forward in to attitude, then back through first and swing back to attitide derriere, then back through first, etc, for 16 counts or so. I find it hard to keep in timing while doing this exercise, but I wasn’t self aware at the time enough to figure out if the problem is that I’m going too fast or too slow. My legs are longer proportionally than my torso, so I have wondered before if my long legs make it so it takes longer to do things like kick or walk. Physics and trigonometry would say yes – rotational inertia, and r, and the longer r is the longer time it takes for a point to travel the same distance, r stands for my leg length, etc.

My sautes sucked – it was my second class of the day, after all, so I can give my self a break. Yes, my legs were landing in plie, but my feet were refusing to point. I was also not getting very far off the ground. However, I was in timing and when we went to a la second and then did changements I didn’t completely mess up. So that’s cool.
Overall, a great, but tiring, ballet day. I think my calf is started to feel the slightest twinge of wanting to cramp.

Much Better Ballet Day

I had a much better ballet day today 🙂
Made sure to spend A LOT of time on warming up. Ever since I remembered the falling arches correction I’ve been working extra hard on applying it. Today I did my plie warm up exercises in just socks so I could notice my arches in the mirror.It just seems much easier to tell if I’m letting my arches fall when I don’t have my ballet slippers on.
I can see that this is something I am going to have to keep being on top of (literally) until I finally commit doing it the right way to muscle memory. I think this bad habit is one that has been with me since the earliest of my ballet days. At the time I didn’t have anywhere near enough muscle in my legs to be able to keep my balance even in first position and rolling my foot just a little seemed to help just a bit. At least enough so that I wouldn’t tip over and draw even more attention to myself. Of course I didn’t realize that this shortcut was a big reason why I was having trouble balancing once I had to shift my weight. In other words, I could balance given that I was standing still. Any kind of movement would throw me off.
Now that I’ve been doing ballet for a year and a half I think my legs are strong enough that I don’t have to cheat by not holding my arches up. I’ve also been really conscious of my arches as I walked around the house, and even when I went for a walk. I read on Wikipedia that if someone overpronates their feet they will not be pushing off their feet properly when they walk. Definitely something I need to keep an eye on.
I think the extra time spent on warming up totally helped because I was feeling nice and flexible by the time I got to my developpes. I love doing developpes on a good ballet day, slowly unfolding my leg into attitude and finally pointing it straight out in front of me. It feels like I’m doing ballet for reals! I also find fondus and rond de jambes to be specially fun in a “this feels ballet-ish” way.

My turns still need plenty of work though. It feels like I’m actually getting worse at those. I’m hoping the lifting the arches issue is a factor in why
i’m so terrible at turning because then that means I can do something about it. As opposed to if the issue is bad balance because my heavy chest.
But overall today was a great ballet day!

Arches+lifting them= better balance

A couple months ago, it was brought to my attention that I was not lifting up my arches while doing barre exercises.  Gotta love ballet, there’s always something else to work on! Well, besides the obvious, like not falling on my face or behind.  I mean there’s always things that seem so little, tiny adjustments that end up making a BIG difference.

And when I was given this correction, at first I was a bit confused. Like, “what do you mean lift my arches, how do I do that?”  kind of confused.  And me being shy and my teacher at the time being just a bit unnaproachable, I didn’t really ask.  And then, to be honest, I forgot about that correction (since there were other glaring errors in my technique that needed to be addressed anyway).

As a kid my mom told me that I was flat footed.  But since I’ve been doing all the ballet stretches that I could find on youtube since I started doing ballet, I figured my feet were doing way better.  I may never have a “banana foot” but I am able to point finally without feeling like it’s stretching or cramping.  And when I rise up on demi-point I can go up all the way and my feet look kinda archy.  But I guess the problem is when I stand with both feet flat.  I tend to overpronate my feet and as a result my weight is not balanced correctly.  When I have both feet together on the ground (like in first position) then I don’t really notice a problem, though I guess it is obvious to others.  However, when my weight is shifted onto only one leg, that’s where the problem becomes obvious.

I had noticed that when I shift my weight, for example like to step into arabesque, I had trouble balancing.  At first I thought it had to do with the uneven weight distribution that I have going on.  Odd thing is, rather than losing my balance to the front, as I used to in releve, I was losing my balance to the side (the side towards the working leg).  I figured the problem had to do with not tightening my core enough but even with all the tightness I could muster it was still sort of happening.  But last night while having my ballet session, the correction about lifting my arches came to mind.  So I applied the correction and was it a big difference or what!

My balance was so much better!  I was actually able to hold balances way longer than before.  I’m gonna have to get used to the way it feels though, I had to keep checking to make sure that I was actually not just on the outside of my foot.  It’s weird because I guess I have the physical strength to lift up my arches but my body got into the habit a long time ago of just resting on the whole foot.  Probably around the time that it also in the habit of overextending my knees backwards while standing or my spine curving into a relaxed position.  Good thing is, now that it’s finally been brought to my attention I can do something about it.  Yay!