Look What the Cat Dragged In

I’ve been back from Vegas for over a week now. I did not manage to slip into an adult class as I always aspire. Lets just say 3-4 hours in the sun and private pool with some awesome EDM beats was keeping me back. It could’ve also been drinking and dancing in heels until 2 am, but I digress…

I haven’t been back to a ballet class since Monday the 15th. Tomorrow I’ll be going to eXit space in Seattle to revisit some people I met and danced with at Sun King as well as get to dance with my friend Julie who has been steadily going there the past couple of years. I danced with her last summer when I took summer lessons there.

I’ve also lassoed my friend who’s getting married in October, to take a class with me at the Allegro studio down the road from me. I hope she enjoys it and won’t get frustrated 😀 When I was in there last I noticed a vine of ivy growing in from the outside through a crack in the window framing. It made me giggle.

When there is more dancing there will be more blogging. Of course I’ve made empty promises of what I learned at SKD. Like the infamous “broken foot” technique which we only did at the barre. Which was a very safe idea. But more on that later!! You’ll have to stay tuned when I finally do something about it!

Disappointment

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I hate feeling sad when I was all jazzed! We popped into the Capezio store this afternoon only to find their fitter not in till tomorrow. And the shoe I wanted to try not even in the store. They had a gorgeous leotard for $64 and this adorable child’s tank.

Indeed adult ballet-ers. Chassé your dreams!

There’s Nothing to See Here

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I’m on vacation! Wait… It’s super foggy out this morning here in the Seattle area. I’m ready for my plane to whisk me away to Las Vegas to visit family, go to the Capezio store, shop, and lets be real, have one too many drinks and eat yummy yummy food.

I really wanted to post more this week about new things I learned at Sun King. Buuuuut, as you all know I get easily stressed out, so I just coasted on my stress by getting ready for Vegas as my main focus.

Anyways, I’ll try and keep you a breadth and will return with much more ballet blogging vigor! (I was able to get a drop in class last Monday, and my friend at another studio asked me to come dance with her next week Thursday! Book your dancing time with me now! lol)

Kale Chips

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So ballet class was a bust. Apparently no one signed up for class so it didn’t exist. Ugh.
So I had some retail therapy for my trip to Vegas next weekend. Then it was back home where it’s dinner making time. Part of the recipe calls for kale.

I always have left over kale. So I decided to try and make the infamous kale chips.

I found a simple recipe online. Stripped the kale of their stems and tossed the kale in olive oil and garlic salt. Baked. And bam! Crispy tasty kale chips.

Will make again!

It’s Time to Go Back

I’m going to get into the studio today. I wanted to go to the studio down the road from me but I really need to dance and that studio isn’t open on Fridays. Also it was an adult ballet class. If I go to my studio I’ll be joining the pre-pointe girls I dance with already, if they’re there, and will keep up with my level of dance. More expensive, but the timing is better. I was thinking of going to pilates this morning, but it’s at 10 am. Ughhhh… do not want. I’ll do pilates on Monday and dance on Friday. YUP.

Getcho Relax On!

Dancing for 6-8 hours a day you’re bound to have tight muscles. I have a massage therapist that I prefer to see at home, and though they offered a Massage Therapist for service at the intensive I stuck with my tools. I found them to be just what I needed since the 6-8 hours weren’t actually killing me too awfully.

I only had to soak in epsom salt one night, I probably could’ve done it more but just didn’t find myself craving it. If anything, every day after all my classes were finished I would’ve preferred a stretch class which was only offered to the “all dance” subscribers. It’s not like I couldn’t stretch myself I just didn’t think too much of it until the final days where I skipped pilates class and stretched in the morning to start feeling balanced again.

I brought with me these simple thingy-ma-bobs :

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– Epsom salt (walmart $3). Draws out muscle fatigue, eases those sore and stiff muscles and joints.

– a plain tennis ball (free if you know someone or $6/3). This thing is handy because it’s so compact. You can use it against your back against a wall. I often applied it by laying my thigh on top or my calf and allow my own weight on it and just rolling it around under me. This took some core work, but it dug into those tight muscles and eased them up so I could continue to dance without ligaments and muscles straining.

– a foot “rubz” massage ball ($5). Got this guy of discount dance. It’s smaller and has little feelers. It’s firmer than the tennis ball so it gets at your foot differently, but I find it too small for my calves.

– literally “the stick” ($27). I was researching before I left things that may help me, including a foam roller. Well the rollers were back ordered 3-4 weeks and “the stick” came highly recommended by marathon runners and olympic athletes. Okay. Come to the Intensive and nearly a 3rd of the group owns one. It really does work magic and is a fabulous relief tool.

– dog (priceless). Having Buddy Cash show up on the 4th of July was awesome. He made my day and I slept easier knowing he was by my bedside. Also a Hubby. But for sure, it was awesome to have my dog with me 🙂

Learning to PDD

PDD is short for Pas De Deux. A dance for two. It could be M F or F F or even M M. It’s not gender specific. I got to experience 3 days of PDD and it was just too short and sweet.

Day one had us get adjusted to our partner and our partner us. As a female en pointe we had to hold our balance and our positions tightly. We had to be comfortable being touched and manipulated. This sounds strange but I’m a touchy feely person and I don’t mean to be all “hey, touchy touchy – sexy sexy” I just have limited personal bubble space. If it’s a place though, like a club, where I shouldn’t be touched inappropriately then I throw some punches and some bad words. Anyways. We rotated amongst partners because lets face it, girls like ballet more. Though I hear there’s a growing trend of boys enrolling into ballet again 😀

First we went to sous sous and our partners grasped us by the waist. You have to firmly lock your body, I like to imagine it to the game red light green light. When you have to stay firm it’s red light. Every muscle in your body is frozen and you can’t move again until you get the green. There are exceptions of course but it’s just the idea. So you have to engage all your muscles to stay frozen. Your core needs to be rock solid, your back needs to be firm and held, your butt needs to be squeezing that toosh and your legs need to be fast and tight. Now the guys do a balance test. This requires them tipping your forward, backwards, and side to side while you stay completely solid en pointe sous sous. I imagined I was a 2×4″ or a pole. He literally would tilt me to the front of my pointe shoe and then bring me back to balance on both toes, or all the way to the back of my one pointe shoe, etc. He was very good!

THIS WAS SO MUCH FUN. I was lucky to start out with the professional dancer since he understood partnering. It was a little frustrating to be with beginner male partners because they would make me fall off pointe of catch me in a way that would twist or hurt me and that’s not fun. I didn’t mean to be rude or incredulous but I think I came off that way.

We ramped it up quickly by doing piques to arabesque turns/promenades. You pique into them, you grasp their hands like a barre (so not really grasping but palms down!) they balance you and hold your weight. It can’t be too forward or too far back, they have to read your body by your applied pressure and your balance. It takes time and experience for a partner to figure your balance. Your challenge is to hold your balance in the right spot. Many a times you end up saying forward or back and it kind of confuses the guys. I would have guys drift backwards/away from me so my weight would shift forward and forward and then I’d be falling into them. Anyways, promenades. You’re in pique arabesque. One foot established with your weight, your other foot in the air, your arms outstretched and supported by your partner in 2nd and then you red light! STAY STIFF. Your partner then steps in a circle and rotates you on your pointe! After the promenade you finish in sous sous and roll down and ta-da!

We did attitudes too, where you come up to their shoulder in pique, attitude, place your weight on their shoulder with your one arm and raise the other arm in attitude 5th. This was hard because as soon as your arm goes up it wants to twist your upper torso backwards, so you have to have a strong core and back muscles to keep you in place. Then maybe your partner could turn around and you’re face to face but he’s kneeling and you developĂ© your attitude foot onto his shoulder and he promenades you around on one pointe again. HAH. FUN!!

We did some leans, where you stay in sous sous leans you to one side and then you have one arm up one arm down and you face towards him when you’re completely tilted. And you think I am a pole. I am a telephone pole. I will not relax my legs.

Second day we got to do leaps! OH GOODNESS!! They use your jump to lift you higher and then they softly bring you back down. You start in 5th, plie, and then zoom!!! You’re in the air. The deeper the plie the better the launch. I had a hard time keeping my legs together, they wanted to changement or something which was stupid. I was also so amazed how high I was that I forgot to plie on the way back down. Which is hard on the guys backs, so don’t do that. We also got to do pirouettes which I suck at. My partner was still trying to figure out my balance on that because I have a tendency to lead with a shoulder which kilters my balance and makes me land funny. So he was having difficulty with me on that. I don’t blame him, poor man!

I was really luck I got to work with Josh most of the time in my partnering. He seemed to like working with me too because we seemed more on the same wave length than others. He danced with so many people though so I’m sure there were plenty of reasons why he liked dancer with other people too! It is extremely nice though to find someone who can manage your balance cooly.

Josh is a wonderful dancer and I’d love to see him dance in person :D… I mean… when I’m not dancing with him. In… another piece kind of thing.

We learned our choreography through out class which included a lot of the elements they were teaching us. I was in the basic PDD class so the other PDD class actually had a combination that goes across the floor. Simple tombĂ© pas de bourre glissade I think they did a series of echappes and passe releves. The guy has to follow the lady doing this and hold her waist at the right time so when she leaps, like in the glissade she has a moment of ballonĂ©/floating appearance. It was I think more challenging to the men than the women 😀

Overall, I would simply go back to the dance camp JUST for PDD if I could. Many schools in my area have very few boys so there is very little opportunity for me to PDD. SIGH. Personally I like to perform solo. I like the stage and the audience to myself. I do not enjoy being part of the corps. Dancing though in a PDD, is wonderful. It is exciting and exhilarating and different from corps where everyone has to look like each other. PDD is where you work as a team and work as an individual to make a dance that is often gorgeous. I love it I love it I love it.

We only had 2 hours each class and it was filled with basic maneuvers needed for the choreography and then choreography. Very short and sweet.

Thoughts about SKD Vancouver

I’m sitting here at my computer with bed hair and a cup of coffee trying to conjure up thoughts and feelings from the past week that felt like a month, yet short like the week it was. My general feeling, and I hate to say, is that I felt “meh” about the experience. I am though an extremely harsh critic. It was a great experience, and I got to meet many dancers and try things I may have never had the chance to do with professional and ex-professional dancers.

I found myself middle of the pack. I was not an exceptional dancer with many previous years of dancing under my belt or a brand new dancer just escaping my egg. So I found I received little critique or attention. Or really I felt few people received critique to be honest. Things were brought up that I have been told by my Mentor, but nothing absolutely revolutionary to me besides a few things.

Saving grace was my Mentor always yelling at us to “dance” at the barre. You are to be seen and perform so DANCE! Which I did, and was given nice props for that at least. Also doing my balancĂ© with pointed toes.

There were a many grievances that I was surprised that none of the teachers really corrected, scyled feet in B+, people placing toes in demi in B+, hip alignment, some very basic but important factors in making a dancer look and dance like a dancer. My assumption to this personal faux pas is that they didn’t want to bog down the minds of beginners with small details. Yet in my fledgling dancer classes we (my Mentor and I) highly lecture them on the small details of proper foot placement and alignment. Though, there were some beautiful dancers from remote areas who had great alignment and stances just needed the epaulment and conviction. Extra effort into those tendus to make them stronger. What’s the point of making a half hearted tendu? It’s to make you strong… I never understand half hearted-ness in ballet.

3 Choreographies to learn in a 5-6 days was a challenge. A nice one personally. Again though I didn’t feel I was critiqued enough about my body when doing the choreography so I feel my performance was extremely lack luster. Like was my shoulders down? Was my attitudes at a good angle with a strong arched back or was I slumped? Was my knee down and my leg extended properly for my attitude? Or was it just mish mosh that no one wanted to comment on because … what? I don’t know. I felt certain things were held back and it drove me crazy wondering what, what could I do better?! I know that wasn’t perfect!! I found many pictures taken by my friends with me in those issues, not erect back, shoulders forward, I could’ve beveled my foot many a times, I should’ve been going ecartĂ© but there I was just going across, I was running into one of my dancer friends and didn’t know it, etc. Gosh, I bet there’s a lot of times where my back collapsed and my shoulders rolled forward- UGH! IT makes me so angry.

Two of the choreographies I enjoyed. One was a tame version of Petipa’s Raymonda Scarf variation. I attempted once in pointe shoes and realized my feet were not strong enough to do this so I opted out. It was  “classical” variation. I enjoyed it and it probably showed because I was complimented on this dance and the PDD.

 

Then there was the modern/classical ballet pas de deux piece. I forgot and changed a lot of the choreography by mistake on this and wasn’t ever really corrected. WHAT?? Don’t you want me to do the choreography the way you want?! Also a lot of forgetful back usage in this. UGH.

Also the contemporary ballet repertory piece. Which was done to the Princess Bride “Friends” song. Which for some reason just rubbed me the wrong way and I did not enjoy it. The teacher was adorable and her barre was hard, but I’m not sure if it was the choreography… which probably it was, that just didn’t make me happy to do it.

We had some interesting guest teachers. One was an ex PNB artist. Her first name is Gavin I forget her last (here she is!). She had like- no body fat. She was a total principal dancer in the flesh and I did enjoy her barre. I also liked how she explained to “zip” up your legs which I’ve been told before, but she emphasized in a way that struck a cord and I was able to stretch and contract muscles to bevel my foot in a way I’ve been wanting. Also creates the tightest sous sous possible which is a new balance point for me since my old one has a decent gap. Also the way she could gyrate her torso was unbelievable. She taught us pilates one morning it her ability to manipulate her body totally. blew. my. mind.

I realized my inner thighs/abducting muscles were not as strong as I’d like, if not very weak.

There was an ex principal from the SF ballet, she was fun and I enjoyed her barre too. I can’t remember her name right now D: I’m horrible guys!

There was Randall Marks, FABULOUS man. I think EVERYONE loved him. His barres were hard because he did a lot of weight shifting which meant you had to move and not think and my mind was not ready for that. He’s the one who really emphasizes dancing at the barre and or just dancing all the time. Period. He choreographed the PDD I was in. Also in his barres you warmed up so fast, I think that was the deepest back cambrĂ© I had ever done and I’m still recovering from that. My back is all sorts of  whack and does not want to cooperate in back cambrĂ©s at this point and time.

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Discussing with Randall the PDD

I didn’t get to take too many classes with him. He did the Mens variation and Mens technique, so overall he was a busy man. I did get to take a Mens technique class with him which I successfully made a fool of myself and failed miserably at the fish jump LOL. You start in 5th, leap, and create a curved appearance but your legs must stay together in sous sous. I couldn’t keep my legs together hah. There was also an attitude jump and assemble that I failed at too.

He also emphasized not to follow Balanchine method because of tendonitis. You never allow your achilles to stretch and contract like it’s supposed to causing to to work really hard. Which then enflames your tendon. Also he was determined on teaching everyone a “proper” tombĂ© in which you don’t “fall” like I was taught, you kind of glide. Your pelvis guides you, and you kinda let yourself dip into your leg and bring the whole torso. While I learned you drop weight onto a leg and then kind of hinge your hip and keep your chest up kinda fall-y method. I wonder what my Mentor will think. And it’s not a chasse because you’d want to slide your foot in a chasse.

6+ hours of dancing turned out not so bad. Sure I was sweaty and tired by the end of the day but I would still manage to go out or linger awake until 10 or 11pm. Having a sports drink with me, a bottle of water, a banana and a protein bar was the perfect amount of junk. I would eat half my lunch so I wouldn’t be too full to dance but you’d still end up sleepy. Some nights the other half of my sandwich would be dinner. I tried to avoid going out to eat to save money and did relatively okay.

A typical morning for me was to get up around 6-7am hop into the shower, pop out brush your teeth, moisturize, tights and leo and over clothes, I wore my sneakers with orthotics to rebalance my feet and legs. Brush and put your hair up into a bun, contacts and a bit of make up. Get downstairs for breakfast. Breakfast was neat. We could make our own waffles, some times there was yogurt, there was cereal and fruit, also instant oatmeal, occasionally a bagel but those went fast, toast, scrambled eggs, and either sausages or bacon. It was nice to fill up on that before going to the studio and if you didn’t eat plenty you would starve before 1pm lunch. Which happened once. I learned then to eat bananas at certain times.

I guess the big question is, would I do it again. Maybe. If this upcoming year I spent 5 days a week in the studio and became more proficient I feel I may get more attention from the teachers. I think I’m one of those few lucky dancers who feels fulfilled and has  Mentor who puts a lot of time and effort into her dancers. So when I get no attention I get buggered to bits about it. If I do go back I’ll try and be more vocal for sure to my teachers to insist they bug me about my back and nit pick details. Also cost was a big thing. The classes were $800+ and the week stay with gas and food factored in was $1000. I’d like to go back improved, and see all the people and dance with all the people again. I just don’t know if it’s in my cards. MAYBE next year I can room with my Texan friend and that will really save us both money. Breaks down a room to about $30-$40 a night instead.