Captain Shakylegs and the Mystery of the Grand Allegro
“Dear heavens, it’s 8 AM already,” he said.
Or, at any rate, he tried to. What came out, instead, sounded more like, “Mrrrghghhhh.”
You’ve probably guessed that today wasn’t the best day I’ve ever had in class. I don’t think it’s so much the getting in at 1:30, which isn’t the end of the world really, or the getting up at 8 on slightly less than 6 hours of sleep.
I suspect that it was the combination of NyQuil (taken to fend off a sinus headache and extra congestion brought on by dry air and so forth: not sleeping was not a viable option) and getting up at 8 on slightly less sleep than it would’ve taken to give the NyQuil time to wear off.
Possibly adding Adderall, a further decongestant, and a cup of coffee to the mix this morning wasn’t the greatest idea.
On the other hand, I made it to class without dying, killing myself, or forgetting my shoes, so there’s that.
At any rate, I wasn’t alone. In one way or another, everyone was heroically Living The Struggle this morning, including L’Ancien, who was mysteriously detained (he apologized profusely).
I do think, however, that I was the sole member of the class who began barre with legs that trembled like the voice of an ancient soprano on Easter morning.
Even standing in fifth was, erm, challenging. I mean, standing in fifth is inherently challenging, and some days your body does it better than other days … but I can’t remember any other specific day on which the challenge in question involved, like, vibration.
So that pretty much alerted me to the fact that it was going to be an interesting class.
By the time we got to the section of our highly-compressed barre that I’ll call “fondu de rondu,” the trembling had stopped. I was grateful for that, and because frankly it was, in fact, a little frightening: imagine balancing, for example, at passé in the midst of a rolling earthquake, for example.
However, the end of the tremors and the lovely high extensions that showed up out of nowhere (and with no conscious effort on my part) conspired to lull me into a false sense of security.
I should’ve realized it when I could tour lent in the mark, but not in the actual run. Obviously, something was rotten in Denmark.
Still, I bulled my way through the adage, through some not-great turns, and through the little jumps (in which I made L’Ancien a little happy by actually jumping, which his the one thing I can do reliably, almost (see below).
And then came the grand allegro. It was simple: pique, chassé, entrelacé, failli, tombé, pas de bourré, glissade, grand jeté, then four more grand jetés just for the hell of it, en manège.
Except when L’Ancien gave us the combination, somehow my amazing brain decided that the first phrase (pique, chassé, entrelacé) was performed left, and that it changed directions via a fouetté or something.
Evidently that wasn’t at all correct, and I can now tell you that it’s quite alarming to fund that you are unexpectedly grand-allegroing yourself towards the person on the next corner and yet, simultaneously, that you can’t seem to make yourself stop…?
That’s not where the mystery comes in, though.
The mystery is that we ran it again, and I did the same thing.
I DID THE GRAND ALLEGRO BACKWARDS TWICE, YOU GUYS.
So, all told, far from the best class I’ve ever had. Not quite Depths of Despair quality, just a whole lot of WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME THIS MORNING?.
To which the answer is obvious. I’m cooked, and perhaps too many drugs. In short, the equivalent of taking class with a hangover, minus the headache.
At any rate, I’ve managed to eat some lunch and now I’m thinking about having a lie down before my audition (though, at present, only thinking, because I’m horrible at taking naps and I’d really rather just power through and get it behind me).
Here’s hoping that things will go a little better this afternoon. We’ll see, eh?
All Forward Motion Counts?
Today’s class was a … you know what, the French do have a term for it: a melange. A mixed bag. Tutti frutti, perhaps.
Barre was good. Then bad. Then good. Then bad. I’ve mostly recovered my strength, anyway. There were some very nice balances, some very nice fondus … and some balances that weren’t, and some fondus that were really very much fondon’ts.
Adagio started out awkwardly and progressed into beauty (thank freaking G-d). The waltzy terre-a-terre thing was actually fairly nice going right (musicality! literally effortless triples! literally acceptable chaînés!) and terre-a-terrible going left. I mean, so bad that on my second run left (when I inserted myself back into the last group for a remedial run), my badness became contagious and BG, who was taking class with us, blanked on the second half of the combination.
- Okay, so I’m not actually sure that was really my fault, but it was funny. What I think really did us in was this: as we prepped our run, BWK said, “Really travel on those waltz turns, gentlemen!” and then we put everything into traveling through the waltz turns and promptly forgot what the heck was supposed to follow them. For once, I remembered first, and stage-whispered, “Piqué arabesque! Turn!“
I then tweaked my mostly-healed toe and bailed out mid-run going left on the next thing, a very similar-but-rather faster terre-a-terre. I couldn’t get it taped fast enough to make it back in for the warm-up jumps, so at that point I was done. Meh.
So, basically, several points in the “progress” column and several in, depending on who you ask, either the “regress” or the “congress” column[2,3].
“If pro is the opposite of con, then the opposite of progress must be Congress.”
—Attributed to Mark Twain, anyway
- Yes, that was a cheap joke.
- No, I’m not sorry.
After, I joined AMS for swimming and roller-coasters (and inventing fake rides for an imaginary theme park of our own), which may have been completely irresponsible, but which was also completely worth it. I now have a season pass to an amusement park that’s located barely more than a stone’s throw from my house and actually literally on the way home from ballet.
Since there’s a water park there where I can swim my brains out in a wave pool, I intend to use the bejeezus out of said season pass.
As is the way of these things, the season pass is less expensive than paying regular admission twice. It’s also comparable to or less expensive than a membership to various local swimming pools that don’t have waves and gigantic waterslides (or rollercoasters).
This solves my “How can I do cardio without overworking my quads?” problem quite nicely. I can now go swimming a few times each week … and if the occasional roller-coaster or two sneaks into the deal, that’s probably okay.
- For your amusement, here are some of our imaginary theme park rides:
- The Wheel of Poor Decisions: Located close to our Unlimited Drinks Buffet, but at the furthest possible point from all restrooms, our giant Ferris wheel will cause you to question your life-choices.
- The River of Punishment (AKA Time-Out River): There is no splashing on this contemplative lazy river-style tube float. Also, no talking, no smiling, and absolutely no horseplay or fun of any kind. You should use this time to sit in your tube and think about what you’ve done.
- Hangry River: Located at maximum distance from all food service venues, Hangry River offers a ride on doughnut-themed inner tubes through a veritable degistive tract of slow, sinuous curves. Fear not: as you exit the ride, you will pass through our otherwise-inaccessible Hangry Valley Food Court, where you can stuff yourself on pizza, doughnuts, and ice cream to your heart’s content.
I Just Can’t Even (Finish A Post Right Now)
So I’m going to write a short one and just get it doon.
After last week, during which I lacked A) higher cognitive (and any executive) functions and B) the ability to actually execute a decent pirouette, I appear to be regaining my faculties.
The weekend was highly mediocre ballet-wise, with a really nice moments lightly sprinkled on a field of “meh,” “Wait, what’s the combination?” and just plain “WAT.” Highlights included half-awake me and pre-coffee BG attempting to follow each-other at the barre, with about the degree of success one might predict under the circumstances.
Last night I took class because, in short, I’m an addict. Even though I was late (and made friend L, who came with me, late) thanks to challenges resulting from last week’s brain fog(1), it wasn’t half bad. I managed some nice doubles and some intentional, if not awesome, triples.
- Dear Sunday-Evening-Just-Past Me:Where did you put my keys?! THIS IS NOT FUNNY 😦 😦 }:(
Today’s technique tidbit: take a second before launching your turns (with all guns blazing, if you’re anything like me) to feel a few things. Where are your trochanters in their hip sockets? Is the pelvis rotated or tilted? If so, can you adjust it? (Unless you’re in a ridiculously huge 4th,the core muscles can usually correct the pelvis.)
Obviously, this is easiest to do when the music is slow, so use your discretion, but it can be really helpful. More than once, I’ve caught myself preparing turns with one hip cocked, which isn’t what one might call a Best Practice.
Still couldn’t stop second-guessing myself during petit allegro, though, which resulted in a petit allegro that looked as if I’d been told, “Using the medium of ballet, interpret the behavior of a ball in one of those showy random-number generators they used to use in televised lottery drawings.”
What’s the rule, again?
“There’s no THINKing in BALlet!”
—Not Tom Hanks in A League Of Their Own, but close enough.
…So that was Monday, also known as Logical Friday The Second, because my schedule is FUBAR.
Oh, and I think I acquitted myself decently in our lone grand allegro, which is good, because I kept running over myself in a high-momentum tombé-pdb during Sunday’s.
It’s Not Just About Conversation Starters
In real life, among strangers, I am shy in a way that’s remarkably specific and to a degree that can fairly be described as crippling.
I’m fine on a podium. Fine in a classroom discussion (unless the instructor utters the dreaded words, “Divide yourselves into groups…”). Fine if I’m with someone I trust who will let me stay close. Fine in a ballet class, because the protocols are generally pretty clear.
But usually I’m not fine.
It took me a long, long time to really understand the problem—in fact, it was only in the past year or two that I was finally able to pick the most important thread out of the pattern; the thread that forms the warp(1) of the whole thing.
- In weaving, the warp is the straight thread that forms the matrix around which the fancy stuff is woven. It may may not look like much, but without the warp, a beautiful loom-woven rug is nothing but a ball of yarn. BTW, there’s an easy way to remember which is which: the word weft(2) relates to the verb “to weave”—and if you think about the action of weaving (whether weaving fabric or weaving through obstacles), it will help you know which word is which. The weft is woven around the warp.
- Some weavers use the word woof in place of weft. I forget exactly where I first learned basic weaving (it was a school thing; we made hand-looms), but the woman who taught us used woof. I use both, interchangeably. A different bent on the same mnemonic applies: weave > woven > woof instead of weave > weft.
The warp of the problem, for me, is that I can’t read (or even see) the subtle signals that say, “Hey, it’s cool if you join me/us” or “Stay back, weirdo.”
Being as I’m a fairly benign weirdo who doesn’t like to go where he’s not wanted, I have no idea who to approach—and I also have terrible feelings associated with the times that, as a kid, I tried anyway and found myself harshly rejected.
I’m okay if someone approaches me, but if I’m put in the usual free-for-all kind of situation, I’m completely screwed, and I tend to quietly panic.
I doubt this helps me seem approachable.
I don’t know if there’s any complete solution for for this.
I have grown marginally less anxious about approaching individual strangers. Most adults aren’t obnoxious jerks who will openly heap scorn on beleaguered randos who approach them, and I think I’m pretty okay at picking up on the signals that say, “Okay, it was nice meeting you, I’m out.”
Groups are harder, because I can’t tell when a group is open and when it’s closed. To complicate matters, I live in a place where people feel that is impolite to say so directly, or indeed to say anything directly …but in which the conventions surrounding polite, indirect communication are quite different from those I learned growing up. Argh.
So I dread the “divide yourselves into groups” moment with singular intensity.
I’m not sure what to do about all this, exactly—but at least it sheds some light on why all the. “quirky conversation starters” articles out there seem, from my perspective, to miss the point (though I’m sure they’re a big help to a lot of people).
It’s not that I can’t think of something to talk about. Everyone loves ballet, dinosaurs, entomology, and etymology, right? RIGHT?! ;D
It’s that I can’t figure out who is and isn’t open to talking to me (unless, like the guy at the last party I went to, they make the first move).
I’m writing this mostly for myself. Writing about these things helps me think about them. Maybe if I can start thinking concretely about this problem, I can start to develop a strategy; something that will help.
I don’t think this will will ever be easy or natural for me—but that’s okay. If I can figure it out just just enough to get by, that will be, as they they say, gravy.