Ballet Squid Chronicles: Taking It Easy
Ballet is basically the ultimate sport/art for masochists (short, I guess, of the Sun Dance). Dancers push themselves hard; we push ourselves ’til it hurts, and then, generally speaking, we push a little more, because we figure that’s A) how you grow and B) how you prove yourself.
As such, we dancers can be a bit silly about recovering from injuries. First, there’s the “No Fun” factor (What do you mean, no jumps?! But I love jumping!); second, there’s the eternal fear of (GASP!) falling behind. :::shudder:::
Needless to say, after re-injuring my now nearly three-week-old calf injury last Saturday, I’m taking one for the team. Sucking it up and cooling it down.
Today, I did class, but I skipped the jumps, the one-foot releves and balances (on the right), and even the little springing sous-sous/echappe exercise that I normally enjoy so much (because it lets me show off, basically).
I’m also working slowly and carefully through just about everything, paying constant attention to whether or not that calf hurts. It’s not my natural approach to dealing with injury (which is, more or less, to pretend the injury hasn’t happened and continue apace), but, well … I think there might be something to it.
Taking it easy in class is giving my calf time to heal — but it’s also allowing me to focus on really sharpening up my basic technique, and I think that’s an invaluable opportunity. I’m working on really feeling turnout in all the right muscles (without clenching; I am like the King of Clenching, people, you don’t even know!), really feeling where my weight needs to be, and so forth. Pretty cool stuff.
The weird part of working through this particular injury is that it has made me very conscious of just how hard the muscles and tendons in my calves are working even when balancing at releve on both feet. My sous-sous is just not as stable right now as it usually is: my right leg isn’t all the way there.
Also, it was really weird doing barre stretch with no releve on the right foot. You develop routines; habits (dancers are rather infamous for being creatures of habit anyway). I had to think about how to get from a la seconde to en face. The answer? One very un-balletic shimmy. Like, work that booty, baby. But it got me there, so it flies.
I spent the time that everyone else was doing little jumps working my plies.
I do not use my plie sufficiently in jumps anyway: I have way overdeveloped the muscles that let you spring off of your toes, so I under-utilize the rest of my leg when jumping, and that’s how I injured myself in the first place (Ballet peeps! When your teacher yells HEELS ON THE FLOOR!!! as you saute across the room, that’s why!).
As my calf comes back online, I plan to spend a few weeks really concentrating on getting my heels on the ground and using the bejeezus out of my plie, even if that means smaller jumps for now. Eventually, it should let me manage even higher, more powerful jumps — which is pretty neat, since I’m already pretty good at high, powerful jumps: but first, I need to retrain my muscle memory and neural wiring so using the plie fully is part of the jumping process.
Going across the floor I worked on ballet walk and then little chasses on the right leg; on the left, I was able to do the saute arabesque-chassee combination. Switching back and forth every couple of strides made for one heck of an effective coordination exercise; I was able to get my legs to do it, but my arms got hella confused. I also got off one little cabriole — but just one.
I feel like this means I should probably play with doing different combinations on each leg on a regular basis, to familiarize myself with the process of rapidly flipping back and forth between two different choreographic elements. Though, now that I think of it in those terms, it feels like it should actually be easier to do than it was.
Anyway, that’s it for now. Time to go collect a movie and some stuff to throw together for dinner!