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Ballet Squid Chronicles: Saturday Class, Now With 100% More Kelly!

We did Essentials this morning, which was enough for my recovering respiratory system.  Our friend Kelly came and was able to hang in throughout class.   Yay!

Barre was lovely.   A week off the bike means my hip flexors were nice and loose, so I had high extensions and an effortless full left split.   It was just like, “Oh, look, here I am on the ground!”   (The right was pretty close, but not all the way there).

Except for chaînés across the floor, we didn’t do turns today (not even at the barre).  Just little jumps followed by grand jetés.  The grand jetés were fun, as always, and I focused on keeping my upper body together and not going all squidly.

At one point one of the girls whose names I don’t know because I’m a  horrible person and I went together, perfectly synchronized but on opposite legs (this makes sense to you if you’re a horse person :D).  We looked really cool in the mirror, even if it wasn’t actually something we planned (I started on the wrong foot, somehow).

I was reminded of that cool synchronized dressage drill where you and a partner canter (with lots of collection, ideally) down the centerline on opposite leads and turn off in opposite directions at C (looks even cooler in counter-canter).  Ballet: it’s people-dressage!

Margie wanted us to focus on really traveling in our leaps.  I didn’t quite have the aerobic capacity today to manage to clear the studio in two jetés, but I got across in three every time.  A couple even looked pretty 😛

In other news, my chaînés are magically becoming solid.  This feels awesome, because chaînés are basically my nemesis, you guys, and also something I shouldn’t struggle with at this point.  I made the mistake of noticing this during my first pass and promptly ceasing to spot halfway across the floor. (You know how it is: “OMG I’M DOING IT AAAAAAAUGH!”)

Fortunately, because I have bizarre ear problems sometimes and thus have tons of practice moving while dizzy, I managed to finish my pass and not fall down at the end, even if I did wind up tracking a bit diagonally.  So that was cool, too. Thereafter, I paid attention to my spot.

For what it’s worth, while Kelly would disagree, I think she looked very good considering that this was her first class back after a significantly longer break from dancing than mine. 

She has beautiful feet, and her leaps may not yet have been super high, but she did them with straight knees and pointed toes.   She also has a very graceful way of carrying her upper body and arms.  Her musical theater (like, actually-performed-in-New York musical theater!) and modern dance backgrounds come through there.  She’s also not at all afraid to ask questions in class.

I am happy to have Kelly in class and very much looking forward to watching her re-emerge as a dancer.   Exciting stuff!

Ballet Squid Chronicles: Lucky

We’re going to visit my parents in Connecticut in January, and I’ve been looking around for a ballet class to squeeze in while we’re up there. I’ve been surprised to find few options — there are adult options at a number of schools, but most seem to offer only one or two classes a week (and so many happen to be on Thursday — is there something I don’t know about Thursday?).

There are a couple of notable exceptions — Hartford City Ballet, for example, offers five adult open technique classes (and a conditioning class, which is one offering I wish we had — we do have Pilates, though).

I’m reminded again how lucky we are to have access to Louisville Ballet School’s robust adult class offerings — nine ballet technique classes per week, not counting the 6-week Intro Pointe class that happens once in a while. I’m not even counting non-ballet offerings (tap; something called “fitness fusion,” which might be ballet conditioning masquerading as a general fitness class; and Pilates, which doesn’t appear to be on our Winter Break schedule).

It surprises me that LBS, a school attached to a small company in a small city in a part of the country where the arts are vibrant but always struggling, offers such a robust adult program in what is presumably a much smaller adult-ballet market than one would expect in the Northeast. Not that I’m complaining! I’m just surprised.

I think the topic of how to cobble together a reasonable class schedule sorted has been bandied around the adult ballet boards at Ballet Talk for Dancers quite a bit, but I guess I still hadn’t realized how challenging it can be.

Any thoughts out there on why things shake out the way they do? How do class offerings look in your necks of the woods, fellow dancers? Do you think LBS’ offerings are more typical or more atypical for a ballet school in a moderate-sized city?


The New Haven Ballet has a nice selection of Open Division classes, so I think I’m going to try to work their Friday morning class into our visit. I’d love to visit Yale’s Peabody Museum while we’re up there, so it works out nicely for me.

Ballet Squid Chronicles: In Which Everyone Has a Terrible Class

I try not to make excuses, but I think maybe I need some today.

So here’s the litany:
I had an asthma attack last night.

For the first time in months!  So if course I spent half an hour in denial, hacking my lungs out, which was pretty exhausting.   Then, of course, I used my inhaler, and because albuterol is a powerful stimulant and I was already sleep deprived, I took a sleeping pill. 

Predictably, I then overslept, so I made it to the bus stop by the skin of my teeth without having eaten breakfast (and still groggy).

Today in class I felt like I could neither learn combinations nor execute anything correctly.   I was a mess at barre (seriously, we did turns at the barre and I cracked not one, but *both* knees!) and literally did not make it all the way through even one combination correctly at center. 

Or, wait – I did the first set of little jumps right.  So there’s that?

On top of not being able to think, my legs felt super-tight.   This is what happens when I miss Wednesday class and then have to haul bacon to the bus stop on the bike.

The thing I did do right was persist.   I wasn’t injured and I was still learning, so I kept going.   Even though I didn’t know the combinations.   Even though my balance and coordination were, um, less than perfect.

Once in a while I did something nice.   Sometimes I did things that were wrong (that is, not in the combo), but which still looked nice.   Sometimes I just a hot mess — and that’s fine.

For what it’s worth, I wasn’t the only one having a bad day.   At least three of us (B, Brian, and I) missed breakfast and were not especially sharp, mentally speaking.  Another lady (whose name I didn’t catch) hadn’t been in class in a while.  The one remaining member of the class (didn’t catch her name, either) seemed to be doing well, at least!

For what it’s worth, I know my standard of badness, so to speak, has improved.   When I first came back to class, a bad class was one in which I could barely manage to balance in a 45-degree extension without trembling and wobbling.  A couple of months ago, a bad class was one in which I did Every.  Single.  Turn.  the wrong way.

In this class I found and held 90—degree extensions without really trying or even realizing it.  I would glance at the mirror (in hopes of confirming that I was doing the same thing as everyone else) and be like, “Ohai!   Look at that!”

I turned the wrong way exactly once, and that was because I got ahead of the combo mentally.   It had turns both en de dans and en de hors and a change of direction. 

I also slipped coming out of a turn and made it look good by dropping into a nice kneeling lunge.  Cool stuff.

So there’s that, too.

Perhaps just as importantly, I now feel comfortable enough with my fellow dancers to (GASP!) talk to them before and after class.  

Even Brian (aka PDG) has somehow evolved, in my mind, into an actual human being and not an Intimidating Ballet Demigod.

It helps that he’s humble and funny and so forth.  And, of course, it doesn’t hurt that he struggles with his arms as well (Brian!   Of the Beautiful Arms!  Struggles with his arms!).

So there you have it.   Friday class.   Kind of a disaster, but a good disaster nonetheless.

Essentials tomorrow, then opera.

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