Chaînénanigans

1 Apr

20The jokes, they keep getting worse! I may have taken three years off ballet, but I didn’t take three years off my COMEDY.

So I’ve been going steadily to class, pushing and sweating and grunting (how unballerina-y of me). My extension is still terrible, but let’s face it. When was it not?

At least in class yesterday my instructor congratulated me on having gained a considerable amount of strength back. Score! Now if I could just make it all the way through barre without having to stop for a quad-breather. “Tch,” my almost 31 year old muscles say, giving me the side eye while shaking their heads. “Look lady, this was easy when we were 26, but you’re just gonna have to give us a MINUTE here, alright?! We will shake violently if we so choose!”

That said, my body is going through what I like to call “second puberty” so other interesting changes are becoming apparent.

Balance? Nailed it. I’m steady as a rock most of the time. Remembering to keep my arm à la seconde stretched out further? Muscle memory, GO! We got that on lock. Which leg of mine is better at flexibility and which is better for standing work? It’s so obvious now that it’s painful. Each one went and got better at what it’s good at and worse at what it’s terrible at.

And turning. Interestingly, I am better at turning than I was for the majority of my time training before. My pirouettes aren’t as absolutely craptacular as they were before. And chaînés?! Just whoa. I never ever was able to do it well, but now I’m all spotting and using my arms like a pro. They’re still sloppy since I’m rusty, but I’m very curious to see how they shape up over time since it feels like my base is stronger.

I also ought to try more than two in a row to see how well I can stay on a path. My favorite way to do it before was to lazily fling off to one side like a drunken college kid. Maybe now my lines will be less drunk and more responsible since I’m an “adult.”

Oh who am I kidding?

 

FitBit-tement

18 Feb

fitbit-flex-wireless-activity-sleep-wristband-fb401flexpink-isetOh yeah this blog title is a really terrible joke. Just awful. But that’s why you come here. Ballet and bad jokes. And sometimes art, too I suppose.

I went to my second “Going Back to Ballet” class yesterday, and I didn’t die. Hooray! Also, my legs are fully functioning today, and despite sore calves I was able to, y’know, walk.

That’s a huge improvement over last week! The walking, I mean.

But now that I’ve taken part in a session without the “deer in headlights” pure panic that the first class invoked in me, I’ve had a chance to think about a few things:

  • FitBits (I have one) are a really interesting technology. I wore it to class, and to my dismay, ballet counts as a whopping 600 or so steps. Now, I was sweating and dying as much as the next dancer, so that seems unfair. BUT… the more I think about it, the more I realize that ballet doesn’t require you to move your arms very much. I mean, you DO, but not in comparison to walking.
  • Thinking about arms (and my teacher’s scolding) made me remember that since I hadn’t done ballet in awhile, I’d lost my strength that gave me the finer arm control I’d developed. I have hypermobile joints and am very flexy-flexy… so that means my arms like to wildly flail about. Doing an arabesque? That back arm is, like, pointing backward. Or in some other weird direction.
  • It also made me think that upper body strength is just SO not something that you get from doing ballet. Holding your arms à la seconde for awhile will certainly make you feel the burn, but we don’t do any pushups or anything.
  • Maybe I should do more pushups.
  • I don’t like that idea.
  • Nevermind, forget I said anything.

I’m very much looking forward to my next class! Even if my Fitbit doesn’t count ballet as a lot of steps, at least I can color coordinate my wristband to my outfit– and everyone knows THAT is the most important thing in dance.

I wonder if I can get a Fitbit band with sequins on? Hmm…

Witchsona 2016

11 Feb

witchsonafinal

This was a piece of artwork I did last week that’s very ballet-related! Bal-ated? Ugh I bet you forgot all the bad puns I make around here. WELCOME BACK you know you love it.

Anyway this is my “Witchsona,” which is essentially a yearly fun challenge artists do where they draw a cartoony, witch self-portrait themed to their favorite hobbies/interests/etc. Mine is, of course, ballet and star-themed.

Doing this was actually part of what made me finally go back to ballet class this week. I drew this self portrait and chose ballet as one of my themes. It helped me remember that ballet is a huge part of my identity and interests… and I’d been neglecting that part of myself for too long. It helped me stop being a Scaredy Pants and just get it done!

Do you have a Witchsona of yourself? Has doing a piece of artwork/poetry/writing/etc ever helped you make a tough decision, do something you’d been wanting to do, or helped you through a tough time? Share in the comments, I’d love to hear about it!

I Did a Thing

10 Feb tired-ballerina_yolandaedwards

Hello gentle readers… it’s been a real hot minute since the last time I posted on here. August 22 of 2013, to be exact. Long enough for WordPress’ interface to… you know. Change completely.

So what have I been up to these last THREE YEARS? A whole lot of NOT ballet, that’s for sure. I finished grad school, settled into a full time job, then made the transition to freelance (art, fulltime), and have been doin’ the freelance hustle ever since.

Why haven’t I been doing ballet? After a few failed studio attempts… I gave up. I know, I’m lame. Driving in Los Angeles is a huge pain, and I got frustrated with the types of studios I kept finding. So I stopped looking, even after I got a car.

So what’s this, then? WELL. I’ll have you know I finally dragged myself off my butt and tried out a new studio that I discovered near my house. I’ve… actually known about it for the last year, but after being out of the game for so long, I was scared to go. I KNOW I’m a sissy. But I did it finally.

And how did it go? I did prepare a bit before I tried going back to class. I’ve been working out off and on for the past year (a… lot of off because summer always throws me), and really making a concentrated strength-building effort the last 6 weeks. I finally felt strong enough to attempt the class.

And oh. OH oh. Ho. I got through it. I did. My muscles remembered How to Ballet. What they did not remember, however, is How to Strong. I was hitting muscle failure within 15 minutes, and started having to cut back on my relevés and extensions. My legs were shaking badly enough during the stretch to disturb the others on the barre.

The teacher was delightfully supportive though. I told her it had been awhile, and the class was quite a high level to jump in headfirst on. She helped remind me to alter some of my moves and not push myself too far. That said, I probably still will have trouble walking tomorrow. By the end of the class, I was practically lying on the marley floor.

The point was that it was fun. Even now that I’m 30 years old, ballet is still fun and challenging and I want to be doing it. This studio is full of friendly faces and they’re laid back. The other dancers are here for exercise and art and camaraderie, which is what I’d wanted all along.

Now! I MUST DANCE! … you know, next week… after a nice hot Epsom salt bath, a lot of Ibuprofen, and stretching.

(Photo credit: Yolanda Edwards)

Ballerina Sketch

22 Aug
A quick colored sketch from my August Sketch-A-Day project.

A quick colored sketch from my August Sketch-A-Day project.

This month I’ve been working on a “Sketch A Day” project, wherein I try to complete a sketch (hopefully with some color) every single day. I’m on day 21 and still going strong! In other news, I got a job! I’m employed full time now, and can hopefully soon afford to return to ballet classes! You know I’ll be blogging all about it as soon as it happens!

Aside

Dancing Corgi

29 Jun

corgarina02

I unfortunately haven’t been to ballet in a few weeks, and I miss it so much! I did this cute little cartoon of a ballerina corgi that I thought I’d share with everyone. Hopefully I’ll be able to get back to class soon!

It’s All About the Music

17 May

Ballet-class-musicI’ve been feeling a little “blah” about ballet recently. It’s the weirdest thing, since it’s my one hobby that I’m super passionate about. Is it boredom? Is it because I am preoccupied with my thesis and graduate school final review (I graduate next Friday, y’all– yay!)? Is it because I’ve not been able to make class every single week, so my body/technique isn’t getting stronger? Maybe it’s because my knees are starting to give me problems. Whatever the reason– I’ve been feeling quite “meh” and not able to get my head into the game.

Today in class we had a different instructor– and he did something interesting. At the beginning of class, we spent 20 minutes doing some stretching and floor barre that felt really nice. What really struck me about it though was the music. For once it wasn’t boring ballet piano music (because my goodness am I tired of THAT!). It was a variety of orchestral, asian-influenced music along with some slower songs that were extremely slow, emotional, but powerful. There was something about it that really gave me that bit of… whatever I needed. Even though we returned to ballet piano music afterward, I still felt more energized than normal.

How about you? Does the music used in class affect you strongly? What is your favorite type of music to hear in ballet class?