Category Archives: injuries

Tandem Troubles


That’s two people doing the same thing at the same time, ostensibly together, though often in opposition — intentional or otherwise.

It’s complicated.

Tandem kayaks have earned the nickname “divorce boats;” likewise, “divorce bike” is a not-uncommon term for tandem bikes.

I suppose that’s understandable, given that on a tandem bike, both partners have to work, but only one gets to steer. I’m not sure if that’s better or worse than the situation with a tandem kayak, where both partners can work or slack off and both partners can (attempt to) steer.

Regardless, Denis and I actually do pretty well where both tandem bikes and tandem kayaks are concerned (okay, so I do kind of yell at him on the climbs sometimes on the bike).

Tandem trapeze routines?

That might be harder.

Not that I think we’re anywhere near “divorce trapeze” territory — just, now that we’re into the meat of rehearsal, I’ve realized that he works a lot more slowly than I do.

In fact, that’s true in more than one sense — he memorizes choreography more slowly, but he also works through his movements more slowly.

The memorization part is mostly under control: he’s pretty much got his routine down, so we’re more or less online to actually really run things now.

The movement part — well, that’s a different challenge.

On one hand, it’s kinda cool. It imparts stylistic spice. We’re not two perfectly-matched RoboTraps doing almost the same moves (but in a different order) with exactly the same style. For the purpose of our piece, I think that works.

On the other hand, it’s kinda weird in terms of trying to get everything synchronized.

It makes working out the timings (which falls to me as the musical member of our daring duo) a little more challenging. It means that we’ll definitely need to rehearse the piece together a couple of times, which means somehow finagling a chance to rig two single-point trapezes at the same time.

In case you’re wondering, that doesn’t happen terribly often at our studio. We usually have two double-point traps rigged and at most one single-point; people just don’t use the single-point as much (well, people who aren’t us). I’m not sure why, though it could be a function of the single-point offering some challenges that the double-point doesn’t.

Case in (single?) point: if rigged with a pivot — as ours are — the single-point trapeze can spin.

Likewise, because there’s a significant taper from the bar to the rigging, moves in the ropes can feel quite different on the single-point trapeze than on the double-point (some seem easier; some, harder — the distribution, there, seems to be highly individual).

Don’t get me wrong, though — as a performer, a choreographer, and a problem-solver, I’m rather enjoying this process. As a glutton for punishment masochist trapeze addict aficionado, I like having an excuse to play around on the trapeze more.

Doesn’t hurt that I now know that I can run my routine three or four times back-to-back without feeling over-worked, either.

Anyway, part of the solution for this challenge involves adjustments I need to make anyway — slowing my execution of the individual “tricks” (ye gods, how I cringe at that word) and transitional movements; Using All The Music; adding expression.

Another part of it involves the well-considered use of pauses; that’s fine. I don’t want to create a routine that’s mostly a series of pretty poses, but it seems reasonable to incorporate a few attractive pauses in the interest of giving Denis room (musically-speaking) to work.

We also discovered that, although I have about 1 minute and 30 seconds of actual trapeze wrestling in my routine, the other bits (we have some acro-balancing elements as our mount and our dismount, as well as a tiny, tiny bit of character dance) don’t fill all of the music.

All of this has come together to produce a kind of turn-taking format in parts of the routine, which works into our theme (the piece is called “Duelo Trapecio” — “Trapeze Duel”).

The remaining challenge will be sorting out Denis’ spin tolerance. The highlight of our piece, really, is the executing of a set of moves in the ropes — but his are done in an inversion, which makes him dizzier than it otherwise might.

Since our current final move is a two-man counterbalance that requires him to support my entire weight, that could be problematic!

At any rate, we’ve got a few more weeks to work out the kinks, and I’m pretty happy with the progress we’ve made.

I’ll be even happier when I’ve got clearance to do all the moves in my routine again. Right now, I can’t do the demi-mill roll because of my injury, which makes me haz a sad. (I know: #FirstWorldProblems.)

I shot a brief bit of video tonight, but mostly it’s me faffing around on a spinning trapeze thinking about what to do to fill a time gap in my bit of the choreography, so I’m still on the fence about posting it. OTOH, my iron cross-stag-switch-stag-iron cross looks better than it did in the previous one (I wasn’t less tired; it’s just that watching the previous video helped identify things I need to work on).

And I’m wearing bike-length shorts, so you can see my blazing calves of solid alabaster. Bleh.

Okay, well. This is now about 3 times as longer than I intended it to be, so I’ll shut up.

Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow, we have Killer Class, Trapeze 2, and Conditioning.

Only I won’t actually be doing Killer Class, because #StupidInjury.

Modern Monday: Strangely Enough, Injuries Are Distracting

I think this might not be as true in an improv setting — but working technique, I really wrestled with it.

There was a lot of, “Can I do this?”

Or, well —”Should I do this?”

Can hasn’t been the problem, generally.

So we really focused a lot of, basically, the falling down part of modern — the safety release, wherein you fall through a roll over a sickled foot  and, amazingly, A) your ankle doesn’t break and B) Agrippina Vaganova does not appear in a cloud of sulphur to drag you away to the place where Bad Ballet Dancers go. Mainly because, let’s face it, she doesn’t countenance modern to begin with.

So I managed both to lay down some impressive bruises on the metatarsophalangeal joints of both my feet and to finally lay down some nice safety releases, even in the ones falling from a standing position, which make my inner Russian completely foam at the mouth.

Beyond that, I couldn’t remember a sequence to save my life today, in part because of the ever-present fear of exacerbating my injury (so confuse — very distraction — wow) and in part because, I dunno, wrong phase of the moon, or what have you.

Sadly, even Modern T eventually caught my Sequence Learning Disorder, and we all got pretty confused.

Fortunately for Modern T and my fellow student, R, however, I had to stop before we really worked the final sequence.

Ah, well.

The afternoon’s choreography session became more like a planning session with dancing, and that was fine. It is really hard to remember to turn off the turnout. On the other hand (other foot?) we percolated some cool stuff that involves one dancer in a more modern style (with strong ballet lineage) partnering another who uses a strictly classical ballet style.

It yields an effect like two people speaking two dialects of the same language, sometimes with great harmony and sometimes with miscommunication — which, in turn, really works for the production we’re hatching.

We also made some programming changes, which is fine. Little by little, we’re creating a thing that is coming to have a shape and a structure. Elements of the actual choreography are beginning to gel, so for the next few sessions I’ll be selecting a couple of pieces of music for each so we can begin to create more detailed sketches.

Some will be a challenge to implement because we have two dancers and not six (or twelve) — but we can begin to lay down paths and shapes, and that will be a good start.

I also blood to regard my current injury not as a frustrating in this process, but as the kind of limitation of uses to challenge one’s self.

I need to think, “Okay, I shouldn’t jump right now — what can I do here instead?”

Tomorrow I’m the aerials studio, though with limitations and with and supervision by my charming PT/husband 🙂

Time To Get Serious*

*Insofar as I am capable of ever being serious about anything, ever, because I am a focused person, a dedicated person, an all-of-that-kind-of-stuff person, but serious? I’m not sure that’s the best descriptor, really, where I’m concerned.

So, yeah.

I am thinking about injuries, and my history of accumulating them, and being like, “Ha! Ohai! I haz hurted myself again,” and then basically making jokes about it because that’s way easier than actually admitting that I’m hella pissed at myself.

But, like, I am.

Pissed at myself, that is (for my Brits: I don’t mean I’m drunk at myself, I mean I’m mad at myself … this time … which you probably already knew from context because you’re smart, but somehow my inner Smart-Alec just wouldn’t let me not say it).

Or, well, I was.

And then I realized that I’m looking at this incorrectly.


Denis recommends a change in perspective.

I have a habit of injuring myself mildly, which just happens in Teh Ballets and in life at large sometimes, because humans can be careful but can’t be perfect.

Injuring myself mildly from time to time wouldn’t be a big deal in and of itself.

The problem is that I also then have a problem of doing things that exacerbate minor injuries and turn them into major ones, like I did this week.

I’ve been mad at myself because I was like, “That’s just careless.”

Except, it’s not. Carelessness isn’t the problem.

The problem is that I don’t perceive pain normally and I’m stupidly hypermobile (okay, and my drive to do things like dance and aerials often exceeds my limited supply of common sense).


Shamelessly stolen from Monty Python by everyone ever.

So, basically, parts of me don’t start hurting when they should, then stop hurting before they should. The level of pain I experience does not accurately reflect the severity of any given injury, nor do they reflect how much it has healed.

Theoretically, the deep muscle in my “thut” (that’s thigh-butt; you can thank my aerials instructors for that one!) that I could barely use yesterday should be causing a shedload of pain today, but it actually doesn’t hurt at all**.

**Maybe it would if I tried to do the things I’m not supposed to do. Maybe it wouldn’t. I don’t plan to find out the hard way. At any rate, it should at least be sore.



Everything is fine. (Shamelessly ganked from

Likewise, parts of me stretch in ways that increase the likelihood of injury under certain circumstances. This is partly due to associated abnormalities in proprioception and pain perception (see above) and partly due to the fact that greater flexibility often correlates with reduced strength.

Not that I’m not strong; I’m just not necessarily strong in the places that will prevent me from doing things like yoinking the crap out of my turnout muscles.


Seriously, there is absolutely nothing wrong here, guys. Everything is definitely under control.

I haven’t been treating this seriously. I’ve been too busy being delighted about the things that my abnormal pain perception and hypermobility let me do to be willing to countenance the fact that they also predispose me to injuries that I could better avoid if I was, basically, less weird.

As they say: “You take the good with the bad.” And I’ve been trying only to take the good, without accounting for the bad.

This past week, I turned a minor strain into a major one and bought myself several days off dancing and a term of about six weeks to full recovery (with appropriate management).

I wasn’t being careless. Things just didn’t hurt, so I carried on as usual. My leg was a little stiff and sore in the morning, but felt okay enough by the time class rolled around, and really quite okay indeed by the time trapeze class rolled around — so I proceeded with business as usual.


Business as usual (actual video to follow … eventually).

This is the same approach that bought me a layoff of a couple of months last year, followed by a long reconditioning period.

Obviously, a rate of one serious injury per year is quite a bit higher than is really sustainable.

So, in additional to healing, I plan to spend the next several weeks learning how to prevent injuries to my specific body. Clearly, this will mean developing both better awareness of what’s going on in my body and a greater willingness to turn to my live-in Physio (AKA my husband, Denis) when I think I have a minor injury and follow his advice.


This is me, not following advice (because I hadn’t asked for any). For the record, yes – that *is* the leg I strained, though this is not how I strained it. Bizarrely, that involved neither aerials nor ballet. In other news: yup, I am still pasty.

And, of course, because I like to write about everything (if nothing else, it serves as a kind of external backup drive), I’ll probably be writing about this process here.

So there you have it. Some insights about injuries that I don’t think I really had before.

Also a terrifying picture of my butt. Holy chromoly. Who stuffed ‘roid-raging weasels down my tights?!

More Writing About Writing

… A little literary navel-gazing today.

I’m making some adjustments to Strangers, but also trying to figure out the answers to some writing questions.

Specifically, Toby and Phinny are co-protagonists, and it’s clear to me what Toby is after, as a character: he really wants to understand a dark, painful, and muddled period in his past so he can, like, move on with his life or something (okay, yeah, that sounds pretty vague). He also wants Phinny.

Phinny continues to be a bit of a problem child: I don’t know exactly what he wants in the story. To an extent, I suppose he wants to avoid the exact confrontation with his past (that is, his and Toby’s mutual past) that Toby wants and needs, but that avoidance thing serves Toby’s story better than it serves Phinny’s. Likewise, he is attracted and even a bit drawn to Toby, but not with the singularity of intention that draws Toby to him.

Beyond that, he is mostly a guy who has what he wants in the world: he’s spent his life preparing to become a dancer and has done so with no small success; he has grown up in a loving-if-somewhat-distracted family and maintains a good relationship with his parents and his kajillion brothers and sisters; he has good friends within his company; he likes traveling and as such enjoys the fact that I Travesti spends most of the year touring. He certainly wants love in the romantic sense, but I don’t think he feels any pressure about it — he is focused, instead, on dancing.

This doesn’t mean he’s a well-adjusted “whole person” — he absolutely isn’t, and in some ways he has constructed his entire so he never needs to deal with the trauma of his past. He never stays in any one place very long; he lives a secure, cloistered life in which he is almost never alone with his thoughts, let alone with a potential romantic partner; his relationship with Peter is at once primary, quasi-romantic, and asexual (Peter is basically the straightest man who has ever made a living by performing classical ballet in drag); he is at once aware of his own desirability and protected from its consequences by the people around him.

So getting to grips with his own past is a thing Phinny needs to do (or will, someday, need to do), but also a thing he feels no pressure to do, as he has carefully crafted a life that prevents situations in which he might feel said pressure.

Likewise, he doesn’t suffer from Toby’s central problem, which is a nagging guilt. Toby’s as driven by a need for absolution as he is by a need to understand what the frack actually happened; they are faces of the same coin. Phinny’s damage is more abstract (possibly because, ironically enough, the Bad Things in his history are more concrete — though also because he avoids it all so effectively).

So there’s that question: What is Phinny after, if he isn’t just a passive vehicle in this story? And, of course, does he reach whatever his goal is?

None of these difficulties get in the way of actual writing, of course — I’m a “Write first, ask questions later” kind of guy — but they will, sooner or later, come to bear on the novel as a whole.

Since I’m Taking A Couple of Days Off, I plan to spend a bit of time with Toby and Phinny and see what comes of it.

In other news, this injury means keeping work in turn-out to a minimum for a bit, and my inner Ballet Wonk is busy throwing a fit about that. I mean, in the long run, it’s important — the muscle I’ve managed to injure (which was secondary to the Groin Pull of Doom) is one of the major turnout muscles, and if I want to keep my turnout in the long run, I need to let it heal. But FFS, how do you ballet when you can’t turnout? Bleh.

(Yeah, I know — #FirstWorldBalletProblems)

I have also decided that I need to educate myself on how to manage minor injuries so I don’t turn them into major ones. Abnormal pain perception has its advantages, but it also has its disadvantages, and this is one. Things don’t always hurt when they should (especially once my muscles are warm), so I wind up exacerbating injuries or adding new ones.

The groin pull wouldn’t have been a terribly big deal by itself, but I wound up injuring another muscle because of the way muscles compensate for one-another, and that’s the kind of thing I need to learn to avoid.

On the upside, I managed to prevent myself from sleeping in a face-down turned-out left retiré (seriously, I sleep that way most of the time, or in the butterfly/frog position — I mentioned this to B, and she said, “No wonder your turnout is so good!”), so I at least woke up far less sore than I have been.

Anyway, onward and upward, what what.

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