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!