You guys, remember when I said that Giselle would be really cool reworked as a zombie ballet?

Turns out that our Wilis go out and do the Zombie Walk every year.

…So why aren’t we doing Zombie Giselle already???!!!!111oneoneoneone

Ballet Squid Chronicles: Schedule Juggling

I got my most recent math exam grade on Sunday, and I’m sorry to say that I bombed it.  Seriously, it comprised the second-worst grade I’ve earned in the whole of my university career: an actual, honest-to-G-d D.  I think I did a little worse on one exam in another math class I took, but I also seem to recall that I had a horrible cold or something (and I earned an A- overall in that class).

Your humble Ballet Squid doesn’t do Ds (in fact, I don’t generally do Bs, even).

Last night, I had a long conversation with Denis about how to amend my schedule to allow for more time to work on math. I had been thinking about putting down either the Monday night or the Wednesday night ballet class for the time being, until either I’m really on top of my math class or the semester comes to a complete stop.

Denis’ suggestion was more radical: since there are only about five weeks left in the semester (not counting Finals Week), he suggested that I step back from the evening ballet classes entirely until finals are done.

I resisted, of course: that wasn’t my plan.  That wasn’t what I wanted.  And, besides, I told him (and myself), my ballet training is important to my long-term career plans.

And then I thought about it a bit more and came to the following conclusion: ballet is, in fact, immensely important to me.  It is also, in fact, important to my long-term career plans.  However, my grad school application deadline — the thing for which I need to get my ballet really polished — won’t roll around until December, 2015.  My graduation deadline at IUS, meanwhile, is May of 2015, and it would be nice to not have to repeat my math class.  The prospect of somehow finding myself still whacking away at my undergrad work after this May because of one little math class is depressing beyond measure.  Not gonna do it.  Not gonna happen.

As it stands, I can still pull my math grade out of the fire, provided that I do well on the remaining hour exam and on the final exam (which accounts for 25% of my grade o.O).  Doing so, however, is going to take some work: right now, I have a class average of 76, which is in serious WTF territory if you’re me, but which isn’t irretrievably bad.

This is entirely the result of the impact of the two exams we’ve had so far.  Homework and class participation make up only a tiny fraction of the overall grade for this class, so the fact that my homework and in-class work averages are pretty good (high 90s and low 90s, respectively) doesn’t make any real difference.

I feel like a big part of the problem (besides the usual absolute nightmare where error-checking is concerned; you guys, I am the world’s worst error-checker when it comes to my own work, especially math) is that I just plain forget how to do stuff.

I think part of the reason for that is that my current approach to homework amounts to what People Who Know Things call Massed Practice: in short, I sit down and bang out an entire assignment at once, instead of doing a little each day.  I’ve been doing this because assignments are due when they’re due and not getting home until 10 PM two nights a week made it hard to do anything else (and while I can write papers and stuff on the bus, I find it difficult to do math homework on the bus, since it requires juggling paper and pencil and calculator).

I know myself well enough to know that massed practice doesn’t work for me.  I just somehow failed to grasp that that was exactly what I was doing.

Anyway, the upshot of all this is that I’m going to try Denis’ approach.  He suggested that I take advantage of the Friday morning ballet class to try to keep things moving forward ballet-wise; I think that’s a reasonable goal (because of the bus timing, I also wind up losing a lot less time in transit that way).

I don’t think a more relaxed ballet schedule for a few weeks is going to impact my long-term goals.  I am a bit more worried that it might, in fact, impact my mood stability.  I’m planning to revert to using the bike for more of my homebound commute as a way of compensating (that makes the trip home quicker, anyway), unless my knee starts bothering me again.  We’ll see how that goes.  If things start to feel unstable, I’ll try adding one evening class back in and see if it sorts things.

So there you have it.  As loathe as I am to admit it, I think that Denis has suggested the best plan for the time being.  Here’s hoping it will get my math stuff sorted and I won’t have to repeat my math class (which would kind of hose up my plans for next semester, since I’d actually have to go to campus, which would entail commute time, etc.).

Ballet Squid Chronicles: Shoe Adjustments; Philip Glass Project Update

When I was packing our dance bag on Saturday, I noticed that the straps on my Sanshas are sewn in a different spot at the heel than the ones on my Capezio Romeos.

I’ve had issues with the Romeos (which are a touch on the wide side) rolling down at the back, so I decided to try re-sewing the straps.  Snipped them just above the seam, then sewed them in again right behind the old spot (pictures to follow, but I’m too lazy to go get my phone right now).

I’m wearing them now, rubbing my heels against my therapy ball (because leather + vinyl = friction) to see if I can get them to peel off.

So far, so good.

I’m going to try them again in class tomorrow.  I’m still not sure if I like the little sole pads on the Capezios as much as the ones on the Sanshas.  If the adjustment to the heel attachment works as well as I’m hoping, I’ll probably adjust the anchor point at the front as well.  Right now, it’s a bit too far forward, so the strongest support is just ahead of my arch.  If I move the strap back, I think the Romeos will be even more comfortable.

In other news, Denis and I sat down to listen to the music for my choreography project today.  He was having trouble finding the pulse in “The Poet Acts,” and since I’ll probably be working with at least a few non-dancers, we looked around for a piece with a more detectable pulse.  We decided on “Escape!” instead, also from The Hours.  We’re sorting choreography.  He likes my ideas, which makes me feel like maybe they’re not crazy.

So that’s it for now.  More tomorrow.

G’night, everybody.

The Problem of Privilege

I should be doing my Exercise Science Homework right now. Instead, I’m ruminating on the idea of privilege.

It’s something I’ve thought about a lot lately, mostly as a function of losing weight.

Thin privilege is huge in the gay male universe and in the dance world. It’s something I’ve enjoyed most of my life. It’s also something I didn’t have for a while, and which now — as someone who is once again pretty lean in a way that’s fairly typically dancer-ish — I have again. I feel very, very differently about it now than I did before I lost it for a while.

It’s not specifically thin privilege I want to talk about, though (don’t worry, I’m working up a whole post on that; it’s just going to take a while to write, because it’s a sensitive topic for everybody). What I want to talk about here, now, is the problem with being a person who has privilege.

The problem is, succinctly, that if you have a certain kind of privilege, you probably don’t know it exists, even if you’ve heard of it. You may have rational knowledge of it, but in some sense, it’s probably not real to you — kind of like you’ve probably heard of Montréal, but if you haven’t been there, it might not be really real to you.

Growing up as a skinny kid with a fat sister, I knew that my sister got picked on and stuff about her weight, but I didn’t know there were what one might think of as systemic forces involved. I got picked on about other things entirely, so getting picked on just seemed like a normal part of life as a kid. It didn’t occur to me that the bullying my sister experienced was an ugly manifestation of a socially-acceptable norm.

Likewise, I knew my sister had kind of a hard time finding clothes, but I didn’t know that the selection of clothes available to her was in any way different than that available to other kids. (To be fair, as a kid, I hated shopping for clothes — which struck me as irretrievably boring — with a fiery, burning passion, and avoided all involvement therewith.) I think I figured she was just picky. She was into fashion, after all.

I knew my sister got bronchitis every single year (we both have seasonal allergies, and they weren’t treated when we were kids). I didn’t know that her doctor blamed it (and basically everything else, apparently) on her weight.

Nor did I know her doctor assumed that she was lazy and self-indulgent just because she was bigger than some kids. My sister was no lazier or more self-indulgent than any other kid — having me as a sibling kept her pretty active, in fact, and she was stuck eating the same selection of salads, terrible baked chicken, and so forth that I ate (in fact, we often picked violets together to toss in the salad).

I didn’t know that she felt squeezed out of things she loved doing, like dancing, because there just wasn’t a place for bigger people in ballet. Being both a skinny kid and pretty oblivious, I didn’t really notice, at the time, how the bigger kids sort of faded out as we progressed. I never really thought about it (oblivious, much?), but if I had, I probably would’ve assumed — just like everyone else did — that they dropped out because they were lazy (and also that they were fat for the same reason). From what I’ve seen, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Being a skinny kid, I didn’t notice that images out there in the world didn’t reflect my sister’s existence. In TV shows and movies, fat boys could at least be sidekicks; fat girls? If they showed up at all, they were uncool objects of derision: the kids it was okay to hate. Nobody ever rooted for the fat girls.

Meanwhile, I got to keep dancing. I got to ride bikes, ice skate, ski, do gymnastics, ride horses, swim in public. I could identify with the weird kids who are often the heroes in kids’ books and movies, because I was weird. I could crush on the fat-boy sidekicks in movies because they were there to crush on, because it was okay for boys to be fat, up to a point (as long as they were okay with being sidekicks, I guess).

No matter how much I hated it, I could buy clothes wherever I wanted (mostly: I remember kvetching about not being able to find a size that was small enough at PacSun when I was 19 and weighed about 120 pounds, but that’s a different problem entirely).

I didn’t recognize any of that stuff as privilege. To me, it was just, you know, life. I didn’t feel marginalized by the lack of fat girls in the media, because I wasn’t a fat girl. I didn’t notice whether or not there were cool jeans for fat boys, because I wasn’t a fat boy (not that I would have noticed, anyway, because I also wasn’t cool).

I didn’t feel alienated by the lack of fat kids in ballet class (or the lack of fat dancers on the stage) because I wasn’t a fat kid. I never realized that my pediatrician was kind of a fat-shaming dick about fat kids. I was a skinny kid. I was the default. I never noticed the pieces that were missing.

Flash forward to now. I can eat French fries at Burger King or buy sundae cones at the supermarket and nobody looks at me funny. I rock tights and a t-shirt in ballet class and out, and maybe people might look at me funny because they don’t expect dudes in tights, but nobody says a word about my size. I can go to the doctor’s office and kvetch about my asthma or whatever and nobody assumes that I’m sick because of my weight.

If I hadn’t been fat for a while, I wouldn’t recognize all that as privilege. In fact, I wouldn’t know most of it was happening.

A similar thing happens when white people think non-white people are being histrionic when they talk about experiencing racism. White people say, “I’ve never seen that happen.”

Of course we haven’t. Unless it happens really obviously, and right in front of us, we don’t know it happens at all — because it doesn’t happen to us. It’s hard for us to quite conceptualize what it’s like to be treated poorly because you’re a shade or two darker or a few kilos bigger than the next person.

Discrimination isn’t always super-obvious. In fact, it doesn’t usually come with a big, flashing neon sign. Privilege works the same way, only it’s even harder for us to imagine, because those of us who are on the “right” side of privilege benefit from it. Those benefits just seem normal, to us, so we figure everyone must get them.

Not everyone does.

Too few fat people have access to fun outfits for the weekend or stylish officewear (and that’s more important than it sounds), or health care without conclusion-jumping (my sister’s recurrent bronchitis has never been a function of her weight), or the chance to just freaking enjoy a meal out without being judged by everyone in sight (and, yes, praising someone for choosing the salad still really kind of implies judgment, especially when you’re scarfing down the fish and chips).

Too few women have their opinions taken seriously in business meetings or in academic settings.

Too few Muslims get to walk out their front doors without having to steel themselves against unwarranted comments.

I don’t think I would have ever really seen what thin privilege looks like if I hadn’t been, well, not-thin for a while. Surprisingly, I feel like it would be pretty easy to lose sight of it again (especially in the current cultural climate in the US, which is totally into making people who do lose weight feel pretty good about themselves).

I hope I won’t forget what it looks like, now.

Ballet Squid Chronicles: Two Tiny Classes

For what might be the first time in the history of ever, there were more people in Essentials than in Beginner/Intermediate class today.

Essentials was lovely, except for the part where I randomly clicked into doing some combination from another class that begins just like one of Margie’s but then changes halfway through and everyone followed me. I guess I should be flattered that apparently the whole class was following me, even though I led them all astray!

Margie led a lovely class as always and gave us a nice fondue combo that we haven’t done before.

There were only four of us in the Beginner/Intermediate class, and Claire worked us all like a bunch of cheap carthorses (I mean that in the best possible way, of course). I was having issues with my coupé balance today, and she gave me epic corrections which I hope I will be able to apply reliably.

In short, I am still letting my shoulders get too far back during coupé balances at the barre. I need to make some space at home for barre stuff. Right now, where there’s room for a chair or something like that, there’s carpet. Work on our mini-studio is stalled right now.

Going across the floor, we did a nice combination with a fouetté. Very cool stuff. Also lots of turns. Some of my pirouettes were nice today.

Having missed an entire freaking week (because math, then knee problem) I was completely whipped by the end of the second class. My bigger jumps were crap. Tony’s looked amazing, though.

My knee felt fine all day today, so I’m hoping a week off the bike and out of the studio has sorted it. This is a recurring problem, though, so sooner or later I need to get it checked out.

For what it’s worth, mood-wise, I definitely felt the lack of ballet — enough, in fact, that I am pretty sure I should probably try to get to class and just take it easy on the left side if my knee starts being stupid again. It was not a pretty week either for Denis or for me.

Anyway, that’s it for now. I expect to be pretty swamped this coming week, but I’ll try to keep on top of posting.

We’re Asking The Wrong Question

Okay, so I’m totally being held hostage by math right now. I am skipping YET ANOTHER ballet class so I can try to actually make a solid grade on my math exam — I want to go in knowing I am 100% on top of this material. This is First World Problems to the max: I have really never had to study before. So, yeah. I apologize to my best friend, Robert, for all those times I was like, “Who needs to study? Screw that! Let’s go run around outside until three in the morning!”

Exam is Wednesday, so on Wednesday night I will be back on the marley dipping (rather than shaking) my tailfeathers like it ain’t no thang. Probably also mixing my metaphors like a grand champion on fire, or whatevs.

Anyway: I am forever reading about ballet (who woulda thunk?!). And I am forever running across articles that read like this:

ZOMG Everyone is afraid that ballet dudes are gay and feminine and stuff! But don’t worry! We are the manliest.

Okay, so they’re usually at least a bit more reasoned than that. But, to be honest, it still ruffles my (tail?) feathers just a little.

Here’s why: sure, a lot of ballet dudes aren’t gay. (Apparently, about half of us? Has anyone done an actual scientific study, here?) On the other hand, a lot of us are gay. (Again, about half of us? Has anyone done an actual scientific study, here?)

And instead of saying, “Yeah, half of us are gay. So?”, we’re terrified of Looking Gay to the Not-Gay Universe. We hold up straight male dancers as shining examples and tuck gay male dancers back into the shadows.

For the record, I will straight-up concur (you know, assuming a gay ballet dude even can straight-up concur?) with the notion that manly ballet dudes are, in fact, the manliest. Seriously. I have done one sport that offered an equivalent degree of physical intensity, and that was Muay freaking Thai, people. You know, pretty much like ballet, only you get to kick people in the face. With your shins (they mostly discourage that in ballet; it puts runs in your tights, which seriously ticks off the costume department and/or whoever pays for your ballet kit).

Ballet dudes are hardmen (so are ballet chicks: if I had to choose between a back-alley brawl with a footballer and a back-alley brawl with a ballet lady, I’d go with the footballer). In fact, ballet dancers are so freaking hard that people have to pretty much chain us to things to make us stop dancing when we’re injured (so we won’t permanently damage ourselves) or ill (so, presumably, we won’t A) go all Closing Scene From Black Swan halfway through class or B) infect the entire ballet universe).

In short, the only thing as determined as an injured ballet dancer is an angry rhino(1).

Seriously, don’t mess with injured dancers.

Even those of us who are little androgynous gay dudes, like me (or, to be fair, tall androgynous gay dudes, like David Freaking Hallberg, Prince of the Universe), are pretty freaking manly even within the bounds of the limited, Western-culture specific definition of the term. We may not sport hulking muscles, but we are freaking strong (and unlike some dudes with hulking muscles, we can generally put our arms down and go through doors without turning sideways).

Like, we push through all kinds of pain on a regular basis — oh, and we have to do it while looking relaxed, or even smiling, and while tossing around full-growned wimmins like they don’t weigh a thing(2). We know how to fail, and fail, and fail, and keep on comin’. And also we have thighs like steel-belted radials. Seriously.

Like, we have the confidence and je ne sais quois to step into our dance belts(3), step out in our tights, look out at the world, and say, “How you like them apples?”

If courage is the yardstick by which manliness is measured, every male ballet dancer in the world (even those of us who aren’t professionals) pretty much wins right there. Sometimes, perhaps counter-intuitively, true manliness means being willing to step outside the “rules” by which men are bound in our culture. It means having the fortitude to say, “Who cares? Imma do me.”

However, at the end of the day, the whole matter of manliness strikes me as a distraction (an important one, I guess, but a distraction, nonetheless). The question I keep hoping to hear someone ask is: “So, yeah, ballet is one of the traditional bastions of the gay male universe. So what? Who cares?”

The thing is, every time we harp on about how manly ballet is, and how it’s a perfectly acceptable occupation or hobby for straight dudes, and how dancing isn’t “feminizing” at all, we’re sort of overlooking a problematical cultural assumption. We’re overlooking the fact that what we’re doing is reinforcing the idea that there’s only one acceptable way to be masculine; that feminine guys are not okay; that women (and other feminine beings) are lesser people.

Instead of saying, “Yeah, there’s room in ballet for masculine guys and not-so-masculine guys, and that’s fine,” we’re forever trying to sweep the association between gayness and ballet-ness under the rug.

I’m sure there are a lot of folks out there who would argue that, right now, that’s kind of what it takes to get straight guys to consider trying ballet (which everyone wants, because everyone wants more guys of any orientation; no argument with that part, here).

I would argue that kowtowing to that paradigm isn’t going to make meaningful change. Yeah, we’ll see a few more straight guys in the studio if we work to convince people that ballet as Acceptably Manly — but I think what’s really going to raise the numbers is the burgeoning acceptance that there’s more than one way to be manly; that you can’t catch The Gay in the locker room; and that even if you could (and you can’t!!! And we don’t want you to!!!), nobody would care.

So there you have it. Generally, ballet asks us to be pretty freaking masculine on stage (in fact, I sometimes find myself mystified by the weird cultural disconnect between American society, which totally fails to grasp that classical ballet dudes can be masculine, and the gender roles in classical ballet, which are about as rigid as they come) — but what’s so wrong with guys who aren’t?

Nothing. That’s what.

One last bit: if you’re a straight guy, and you’re considering taking up ballet, but you’re afraid you’ll be the only straight dude in your class, or your school, or whatever, remember this: regardless of ridiculous pr0n tropes, most gay dudes have no interest in trying to convert you.

Especially not in ballet class, during which nobody has time to think about anything but ballet in the first place. Seriously, if you can think about anything else during class, you’re either some kind of Zen-Master Level Dancer or you or your teacher are doin’ it wrong (or, you know, taking an easy day, I guess).

Meanwhile, the ballet studio is full of intelligent, super-fit women who (if they’re anything like the women in the cycling world) would love to be able to share their passion with the man in their life (assuming, you know, they’re even into men). And some of them are even single.

Okay, and one more last thing: I do appreciate the efforts of people who point out that ballet isn’t emasculate, or whatever, and that ballet dudes are manly. I do appreciate those efforts. I just think we’ve reached a point, as a culture, at which we can start expanding the conversation a bit.

Anyway, one of these days, I’ll get around to writing a serious, well-reasoned, well-researched article about all this stuff. For now, this is just a catch-all for some thoughts that have been kicking around in my head for a while. So that’s it.

G’night, everybody. Back to the maths.

Notes

  1. So, um? You guys? If you Google Angry Rhino, it turns out that apparently it means things, um, other than just “furious quadruped.” I had no freaking idea; there were definitely no questionable subtexts intended here. Sorry :(
  2. Okay, so I haven’t reached the level yet where they let you toss the girls around. BUT I WILL.
  3. Or, you know, alligator-wrestle our way into them, which totally NEVER happens to me. Or at least the dance belt never wins. Man, that elastic is freaking STRONG.

Another Reason to Watch Ballet

…As if Ballet Geeks needed more reasons.

This weekend, we caught Louisville Ballet’s “Studio Connections” performance. It was super cool for many reasons (not least that we got to sit with Claire and Tony :D). The whole idea was pretty cool: the performance took place in the big studio downtown (the one where company classes and rehearsals are held, as well as the advanced class that I aspire, someday, to join).

Padded bleachers were set up to give the audience somewhere to sit, and we got to watch the dancers “up close and personal.” (It was comforting to know that I’m not alone in sounding like a freight train when I dance while congested). For those of us in the audience who dance, this provided a really great opportunity to observe technique.

I was watching one of the guys when the solution to my waltz balancé problem suddenly materialized in a flash of light (or possibly a glint off a rhinestone; there were definitely some sparkly costumes).

It’s the same problem that was afflicting my arabesques, promenades, and penché — I’ve been dropping my chest for some reason.

When we got home, I tried a more vertically-oriented balancé, and — what do you know — it worked quite nicely (even strung together a little combo — balancé, balancé, pas de bourree, fifth; plie, turn (en de hors); plie, turn (en de hors). The second turn was impeded by the door to the dishwasher, which I’d forgotten to close. Such is Practice At Home.

Anyway, there you have it. I remember noting that Brian’s balancé looked rather different (and, of course, better) than what I was doing, and now I’ve figured out how and why. That feels pretty cool.

So watching ballet is most enjoyable, but it also makes us better dancers.

So, there you go: another excuse to cram all the ballet you can into your eyeballs. You can thank me later ;)

It’s Research Time!

I think I’ve mentioned this semester’s research project here once or twice. Well, it’s been approved by our Institutional Review Board, and it’s data collection time! If you’d like to participate, read on.

I’m conducting research into attitudes about body size and health at Indiana University Southeast and I’d like to invite those of you who are at least 18 years of age to participate.

My study has been approved by IUS’ Institutional Review Board and assigned protocol number 14.55. Below the cut, you’ll find a full description and a link to the survey, which should take around 10 minutes to complete and which is housed on the Qualtrics website.

Please feel free to forward this link to anyone who might find it interesting. Together, I hope we can learn a little more about how people feel about the relationship between body size and health.

Thanks!

Read the rest of this entry

Where Did It Go?

So, apparently, we’re now more than halfway through this term. Hooray!

We have our second math exam a week from now. As such, I’m taking a break from ballet class tonight to make sure I’m caught up and on top of the material, math-wise. I will hit up Friday class to make up for the gap, even though I think a Monday-Wednesday-Saturday schedule is more effective for my purposes than Wednesday-(long freaking gap)-Friday-Saturday.

I’ve decided to be okay with this particular concession. Maintaining a high GPA now will help me get where I want to go later.

So that’s it for now. Next week I should be back to my usual schedule.

Ballet Squid Chronicles: Tuesday — Now With More Productivity!

Last night’s class was excellent!

I mostly maintained my waterfowls in a linear array throughout barre and even occasionally did Pretty Things With My Arms.

We were a smaller-than-normal class (possibly because of Dire Warnings of Weather-Related Doom — that, or maybe everyone else felt like last week’s class with the dancers from Paul Taylor was just too tough an act to follow), so I had my own private barre on the end, which meant I had to concentrate on actually knowing the combinations. I think that helped me keep myself together. Sometimes thinking too hard about technique is the best way to mess up; you can’t overthink your technique when you’re busy making sure you remember the combination. It seems to prevent the whole getting-in-your-own-way thing.

Not to say you shouldn’t think about technique at all, of course — the challenge seems to be finding that balance between thinking just enough (Toes back on close!) and too much (toestoestoestoestoestoestoestoestoestoes….)

I also worked on trying to keep my barre arm a bit further ahead than I have been. It continues to help with balances, though my balance overall was a wee bit off tonight for some reason (even at center). Coupé releve is still better than passé releve.

Meanwhile, the girl next to me, whose name I still haven’t caught (and who is amazing — people constantly ask her if she’s a professional dancer) popped up into a nice passé releve and just hung out there for, like, a minute. I’m pretty sure she could, like, knit some legwarmers while balancing at passé releve (in which case she’d be better than I am at both ballet and knitting; I can make scarves, but that’s it).

At center we did pretty adagio with More Graceful Arm Stuff, and I wasn’t terrible at that bit. Claire sorted my arabesque — she noted that I don’t need to drop my body forward to get my leg up there; I have the strength and flexibility to get the leg up and carry the upper body. Gave it a go and turned out an arabesque that received applause, so I guess it was pretty ;)

My waltz-balancé thing still looks a bit goofy, though. I think mostly my arms just aren’t sure how to get where to be when they need to be there. Looks like a job for Practice At Home!

Going across the floor I managed a double pirouette (because, as she so often does, Claire told us, “Do it again, and this time bring something new into it!”). It sort of went down like this: first turn completed in what felt like a Time Pocket (you know, that thing where time suddenly stretches out and becomes much longer than it usually is?), I thought, “I guess I could go for another,” spotted again, et voila! Double pirouette.

Once again, not the prettiest double pirouette ever, but still a double, and better than my last one. Claire saw it and I got a shoutout (the good kind) for that :D

I’ve also discovered that I can do that cool thing where you land your pirouettes on one knee. It looks really cool, and evidently requires a fair amount of strength? If so, go bicycles! Now, if I could only remember the extra plié in the combiation…

Our petit allegro was fun; Claire threw in some tours at the end of a glissade-assemble-changement-changement-glissade-assemble-changement-changement-sisson-sisson combination, and I did them without too much terrible ridiculousness. A couple were actually, you know, good, except for the part where I sounded like an elephant on the landing (which totally made me think of my first ballet teacher shouting, “Ladies and gentlemen, we are not a herd of elephants!” as we did sautés).

Perhaps predictably, it went better when I didn’t think too much.

Little by little I look more and more like a dancer — I mean, more graceful and more intentional and less disastrous and squidly. Obviously, I’m not perfect yet (Who is? David Hallberg, maybe, but I bet he’d claim he isn’t, even if the rest of us know better!) or anywhere close to it. But, as I so often do on Monday nights, I feel like it’s coming along.

So there we go. This week I am going to focus on arms, balances, and not letting my upper body fall forward during grand battement and arabesques. Oh, and tons of stretching, because my legs have been way tight lately.

This morning I’m up and about and getting things done, which feels nice (I’m on the second load of laundry and have prepped a batch of bread dough). I’ve learned not to go, “Yeeeeeaahh! Now I’m going to live like a real grown-up from now on!” whenever this happens — instead, I accept it for what it is; a nice boost to my available time.

While my mood has been more stable for the past few months than — well, possibly ever in my entire life, really — I try not to take it for granted. There are definitely harder and easier days, and it still requires a lot of active management. I’m trying to learn to be grateful for days like today — easy days on which I wake up ready to roll — and not get ticked off at myself about the hard days.

Ballet makes an enormous difference in my life. At this point, it makes my schedule significantly more demanding, but also seems to make me more capable of handling the demands of my schedule. Ballet has become an organizing principle, so to speak; class, in and of itself, has become an organizing element.

Right now, I’m feeling more capable than usual. I’m trying to keep in mind that there might be moments in my life during which I’ll be less capable than I am right now, and that it’s okay if that happens. I’m learning to live life on my own terms — which includes accepting the terms imposed by my own neurology.

Anyway, I’ve put about half an hour into this post, and I hear my dryer buzzing, so back to being productive!

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