Quiet blog, loud Twitter. I have a tendency to think (and write) in bursts, and Twitter is suited for such. Until I feel wordy again, here’s a photo.
I got a little spoiled this past week. Between jury duty, temporary changes to my schedule, and the lack of any pressing social obligations, I was able to take a CRAZY number of dance classes. Let me break it down (numbers are duration, not time):
- 1:15 Tap
- 1:00 Pointe
- 1:00 Hatha Yoga
- 1:15 Beginner Ballet
- 1:15 Beginner Ballet (done in pointe shoes)
- 1:15 Elementary Ballet
- 1:30 Lyrical (my first class… awesome!)
- 1:00 Ballet Basics (done in pointe shoes)
- 1:00 Hatha Yoga (with lots of amaaaaaaazing hip opener stretches)
I only wish I had the time to go to all of these classes every week! It felt so rewarding to be able to dedicate all that time to dancing, and to be able to take my mind off of work-related stress and social life frustrations. Of course, it also brought me to some realizations about my stamina and endurance. I typically do barre in my pointe shoes during Wednesday night’s beginner class, but this time I succumbed to peer-pressure (some of it self-inflicted, haha) and left them on for the whole class. I discovered when I piqué to arabesque and retiré, I can hold the poses a little longer than I could’ve a few weeks ago (sadly, only with my left leg as the supporting leg… for now). Progress! I love it!
Of course, by Thursday night’s class, I finally started to feel the effects of working and taking classes all week… I was exhausted! But I managed to make myself go to the studio Friday night and I’m glad I did. My first proper lyrical class was fun, but for the first 20 minutes or so I felt utterly out of place. I thought, “There’s no way I can keep up,” but by the end of the class I felt I was coming along. Still not quite keeping up, but getting the hang of it. It’s so strange to be breaking some of the rules ballet holds dear, but it was also fun to find new ways to move and express myself. I am already hoping I can add the class to my regular weekly line-up.
I’m sitting here watching Phantom Gourmet, procrastinating just a little on getting motivated (okay, it’s 11am, so what!) and this seemed like a good time to run my mouth off in a blog post.
Anyway, I come before you today to talk about dreams. I’ve been having pretty vivid and interesting dreams all week, ranging from a trip to my family’s cottage in New Hampshire to a Pulp Fiction-esque nocturnal reverie (I blame this week’s episode of Community for that one). Last night, though, I had a lovely ballet dream. These are more and more frequent as my obsession — I mean passion! — grows.
In my dreams, I can developpé à la seconde up to my ear, hold my balance en pointe, hold my arabesque, pirouette (doubles! triples! en pointe!) … in my dreams, I am about 200% more talented and flexible than I am in my waking hours.
The first few times I had dreams such as these, I woke up disappointed with my self and with my limitations. Now I relish in these dreams! They inspire me, they motivate me, they drive me to be the dancer I am in my subconscious. At my age, I may never be that dancer, but the dreams push me to be better than I am now and that push is everything.
I’m stubborn, I’m a perfectionist… sometimes it feels as though I won’t rest until I get something right. Until then, I’ll always have these dreams. If my brain can do it, sooner or later my body will, too. Right?
Sometimes I wonder if my neighbours can see into my kitchen windows. If they can, they may occasionally get a glimpse of me doing ballet in front of my stove. I’m not too worried about them thinking I’m crazy, though, since I’ve gone out drinking once or twice with a few of them. They already know I’m crazy. Problem solved.
It’s become part of my daily routine. Need to get something from the fridge? Arabesque or bourrée across the floor to get there. Have to turn the light off over the stove before bed? Take some time first to practice pirouettes (I’m surprised I haven’t worn a hole in the floor in that spot). Now it’s gotten so bad that I stand in relevé or turn, turn, turn when I’m waiting for my dinner to cook (or heat up in the microwave, if I’m being lazy).
Hell, I even do that last one at work sometimes.
But it all HELPS. I posted back in January that my goal for the New Year was to get over my fear of turning, and I’m pretty sure I have. I still worry about falling — it’s a lot harder to bounce back up at 26 than at 6! — but I have finally found the fun in turns. A few weeks ago, I could barely complete one pirouette successfully, but now I’m finally getting the hang of it… more or less. Tonight I almost “made it a double” starting from sous-sous! It’s so exciting to feel like I’m starting to make progress in ballet, and it’s been an interesting experience to realise that the main thing holding me back from said progress was my own fear of failing.
My only hope now is that I can be half as good in class as I am in my kitchen.
During barre last night, as we did grand battement, I watched my leg and thought, “Is this my leg? Really??” I mean, it’s not like I have amazing extension, I’m lucky to reach 90 degrees… I think it had more to do with the fact that I was noticing the overall image of my feet, clad in European pink pointe shoes that were poking out from under my maroon stirrup legwarmers, and wondering when did this happen?! I’m starting to feel like I’m a legitimate dancer (but not necessarily a good one, ha!), even at 25 with no real hope of taking this much further than a hobby/recreational obsession. I’m a dancer, and what’s funny is that I think everyone else who knows me has known this about me since I was a child. I just never believed it, so I gave up. I’m so glad I let dance find me again.
Where to start? I haven’t really kept a blog in years — aside from my Tumblr, which is merely a series of reblogged ballet and Doctor Who-related photos, so that hardly counts for much. This blog originated mostly from the name, Short and to the Pointe, which was my answer to the questions “What would a TV show about your life be named?” Instead, the lightbulb went off, and I decided to bring myself out of blogging retirement.
I’ll start by introducing myself. My name is Laura, but I also go by Lola or Penguin (and many variants thereof). I’m 25, and about a year ago I made my return to the world of ballet after a prolonged absence. This winter, I began the long and arduous journey of learning pointe, something I had missed out on during my years in ballet classes as a child. Now you see where the blog title came from, no? I’m 5’1… short, and learning pointe.
With that out of the way, and with this being a new year and all, I’ve decided to start this blog with a list of my goals for the year:
- Improve my flexibility. I had been seeing an improvement, but due to scheduling conflicts, I had to stop attending my weekly yoga classes and one of my technique classes. After that, I found it harder to set aside time every day for stretching and I slowly saw the little flexibility I had gained start to fade away. I hope to get it back in the next few months.
- Become stronger en pointe. Yes, this is a pretty general goal, and I do feel like I’ve been making progress in the last month or so since I started, but there will always be room for improvement and I will always strive for it. I’d love to be more confident in balancing on my toes… I feel like I have to capacity for it, but I get spooked whenever I let go of the barre! Mind over matter, I suppose.
- Overcome my fear of turns. Which is more a fear of falling on my face, really. I still haven’t quite mastered spotting, and for some reason that makes me hesitant to even try (unless I’m in my kitchen in the middle of the night). I received some excellent pointers for pirouettes from my teacher a few weeks ago, and they all make sense in theory, but in practice I have about a 40% success rate.
- Attend more classes per week. Unfortunately, the thing about starting ballet again as an adult is that you will always have to let it play second fiddle to your professional life. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to take the classes I have been taking for the last year, but I need more… I need to feed my obsession! I’m hoping, though, that between two or three different studios, I will be able to bump myself up from two classes a week to at least three or four. It will be difficult, but worth it.
- Make more friends through ballet. I’ve met some amazing people through my current studio — people who share this strange love I have for dance — and I truly hope to meet more. It’s hard, sometimes, because many of my friends do not really understand. I have a few friends from my childhood ballet classes with whom I am still in touch, but our lives have gone in different directions over the last 15 years, so it’s hard to stay in touch. I’d love to be able to dance with them again someday soon.
That’s about all I can come up with right now, but it’s a start, right? Oh! And one more goal… to post my experiences (trial, tribulations, etc.) with ballet and pointe to this blog. Thanks for reading, and feel free to comment with any questions or ideas for future blog posts. I need all the help I can get!