Dear Body, behave. Sincerely, Me.

Looks like I probably pushed myself just a little too hard in class on Wednesday. Never mind the fact that hours later my big toes were still aching if I put pressure on the tips (oh hello new point shoes, I’d forgotten what a bitch you are to dance in when brand new…) having woken up to a major calf cramp that morning that was so bad not only did I wake up Eric, I woke up the dog. Even after a minute of trying to not scream in pain, it was still tight and I couldn’t stretch out. Ah potassium deficiencies, my old friend. We need to talk… Even two days later, the calf is still unhappy, and my back has joined it, I almost couldn’t sit up this morning it was spazzing so badly. Remind me why I ever stopped dancing again? This is entirely my fault. Sigh.

We’ll see how much of class I can actually manage today. I’m going to try doing barre, may not make it through center work today, especially since we have rehearsal after class. Still need to get shoes and the skirt for that, seems like I’m going to have to order the skirt online – I’ll probably end up rising it too. Wonder if Amazon carries that stuff. Should look.
But yay for Kiri hopefully being able to help me design and make the skirt topper. Love this chick, so damn happy I’ve met her.

And now for today’s new dance selection.

The above variation is actually a pas de deux, but is most often preformed solo. The ballet was originally choreographed by Marius Petipa, the same genius behind such little known classics as Cinderella, Swan Lake and The Nutcracker.

In a nutshell, Raymonda (the titular character seen here) is a princess, waiting for her betrothed to return to her and is being amused/distracted by her court until his return. All is not well, as a wealthy competitor tries to steal her affection. Thanks to a friendly ghost Raymonda figures out his game, her beloved shows up, has a epic sword battle with the bad guy and they happily get married.

I looked at several variations of both this sequence and as well as a few others, but I specifically chose this one because while this is the one is the oldest variation and so quality isn’t the highest, her timing and musicality are fantastic. Someone in the comments complains that her clapping isn’t noble enough, but I agree with the second commenter that the performance is full of attitude and meant to command the audience’s attention. Certainly caught mine. Gorgeous.

Not all ribbions and rosin, but it’s home.

I’ve recently returned to the world of Ballet, something that was once a huge part of my life and has been sorely lacking in recent years. I mean, at one point I was dancing 6 days a week (prior to going to BSS), and then as I got older it was a pretty strict regiment of 3 days a week, at least an hour and a half (sometimes two or almost three when you figured in pointe class). And then came high school. And then University. And then getting a job at EB. And then it became a matter of “I can’t find time” or “I can’t find a school” or, or, or…

It got to the point this January when I realized that telling myself “maybe in a few months from now…” and I stopped myself at that point. I realized that I was getting myself into a bad pattern with exercise in general, and that it had to stop. So I started looking immediately for places that had classes for adults. And man have I lucked out. Issaquah Dance Theatre has a FANTASTIC open adult’s class, held twice a week. This is not a beginner adult class, and all the women whom I am slowly beginning to get to know are prior dancers, some professional but many picking it back up after years off, raising children and in one case, grandchildren! The primary instructor Danela Lewis is phenomenal, having taught for longer than I’ve been alive (her own professional career was cut short after a knee injury at a young age). She’s graciously allowing me to rebuild some stamina before completely tearing into me, but everything she does tell me and what I can observe from others is fantastic so far.

The biggest obstacle I’m facing at the moment (other than my body fighting me every step of the way for flexibility, stamina and just flat-out muscle strength – or rather the lack there of, is the fact that the language is actually a little different. I grew up studying the R.A.D. method, (short for Royal Academy of Dance) which is a little stricter in its movements, foot placements, etc. I feel like I’m cheating at times with the differences. At other times, I’m simply struggling to match names I know to different ones, trying to remember steps, etc. Forget remembering to hold my stomach muscles properly (something I’m constantly having a mental conversation with myself about), I have to first figure out if my right or my left foot is going next. That’s a consistent battle right there.

But I love it.

I’m currently working my way slowly through Apollo’s Angels, by Jennifer Homans. I had seen it in a Barns & Noble downtown in December, and had quickly perused it there. I’ve read other ‘histories’ of Ballet before and haven’t been too impressed, but this book is proving to be fantastic. I’m a quick reader, but the writing style is both informative as well as with passion and I find myself not wanting to rush through it. Honestly, I will credit it in large part for pushing me to start dancing again – unlike watching performance which always depresses me when I’m not dancing, this drove me back to the studio and I’m so happy it did, words on a page cannot describe how giddy I feel every time I get into the studio. I know it’s going to hurt like hell, but even when I’m mentally berating myself for loosing my balance and falling out of a pose or something, I don’t care. I’m happy.

I’ve started part two of Apollo’s Angels, and the below clip was mentioned in the book so I decided to look it up. This piece is part of a much longer ballet, and originally was performed by 84 dancers. Even at 32, it is an incredible example of Russian dancing. I lost count of the number of arabesques they do (the move where they stand on one foot, arms out stretched, with the other leg extended out and/or up behind their heads!) and before someone says “oh that’s easy”…don’t. I’ll punch you if you do.

I’m incredibly jealous of their feet, even in point shoes, their points is amazing!