At the beginning of January, we started cirque training.
You’ve seen pictures of that progress, so I won’t bore you with réitération…
Oh, okay. Just one little picture, if you insist.
Instead, I have a few thoughts about fitness.
Given that, physically, I am not always the best at starting healthy, I was concerned that I’d struggle with the new schedule.
The first two weeks, I found myself complaining more than usual. One day, though, I realized I was kvetching to Ms. B or Ms. T — both of whom teach five or six days per week and perform — about my two measly classes the previous day having left me a bit tired. Kvetching to someone who spends way, way, way more time busting her butt than I do (and does it on pointe).
That stopped me in my own tracks. In addition to training and working as a Dance-Movement Therapist, my long-term goals include performing, as much and as frequently as possible. I am doing as little physical activity right now as I’m likely to be doing for the next goodness knows how many years.
Anyway, I decided that I wasn’t going to whinge about it anymore*. The tiredness was part of the process of adaptation, and I knew that it would pass.
*It’s fair, of course, to give a heads-up when you come to class already cooked so your instructor can tell you to back off if you look like you’re going to hurt yourself.
The cool part — the Progress part — is that it has begun to pass.
The human body is an amazing thing.
A couple of weeks ago, I felt dead on Wednesday morning after one Intro Aerials class (or whatever it is we were doing on Tuesday evening).
Yesterday, I did a pretty zippy ballet class (sans grand allegro, admittedly, but I’m pretty sure “16 kajillion royales” is about an equivalent rate of effort) and a tough conditioning class. Today, I woke up ready to rock. Tonight, we’ve got another conditioning class (fitness & flexibility) and Open Fly, and I feel entirely confident that, while I may feel a little tired and whingy when I get up tomorrow morning, by the time I get to Ms. B’s killer class, I’ll be fine.
There’s some things worth noting here.
First, my body was never willing to step up to meet this kind of workload on the bike. I got sick a lot more when I was riding more. The weak link was always my respiratory system — the constant exposure to cold air or bad air quality wasn’t something this particular body was going to adapt to**.
**Oh no, a danging participle — someone get this sentence a dance belt!
Second, I’m still working on learning to respect injuries.
I think I mentioned whacking the medial epicondyle of my left knee — an injury which sounds like it barely bears mentioning (in its lesser forms, it does barely bear mentioning).
The thing is, I whacked it really, really hard, which led to all kinds of swelling and stuff, which can precipitate further injury if not dealt with carefully (especially in a knee joint; especially, especially in a hypermobile knee joint). I took it easy on the jumps and turns, took a couple days off, wore a brace, iced the bejeezus out of the knee … and, miraculously (ha), it’s pretty much fine at this point.
If I hadn’t respected that injury, I’d still be wrestling it — so that’s a good lesson, there.
Third, I’m learning to work a little differently when I’m tired.
Yes, pushing through fatigue is a necessary skill for any athlete or dancer — but that doesn’t mean you should do it all the time. Sometimes it’s better to back off, take the non-relevé option, work at 45 degrees, mark the grand allegro, and not get hurt.
It’s like that old song — you’ve gotta know when to tendu, know when to fondu, know when to grand jeté, know when to mark.
Or something like that.
So that, too, is progress, especially for anyone who comes from a competitive gymnastics background (in which the basic ethos about injury is, “If your body part is still attached, you can and will keep going”).
So there we have it. My fitness is progressing nicely, as evidenced by a reduction in overall tiredness.
I’ve also noticed improvements in performance, including ballet improvements that stem from cirque training: today I was doing what I’d like to describe as a “meditation on balancé,” which is to say a combination that goes:
pas de bourrée
…repeat on other side ad nauseam.
It turns out that all the core work is good for those balancés. They’re prettier if you don’t get all sway-backed.
Remember: we’re going for Swan Lake, not Geriatric Dairy Cow Lake. Not that Geriatric Dairy Cow Lake would be a bad show, necessarily, but I’m pretty sure that the technique involved is squarely in the purview of modern dance ;)
That’s it for now. Off to round up all the dance belts, get changed, find a food, and go kill myself at circus school some more.
À bientôt, mes amis!
You got to know when to tendu,
Know when to fondu,
Know when to grand jeté,
And know when to run.
You never run the combo
When you’re nursin’ a hurt tendon—
There’ll be time enough for dancin’
When the healin’s done…
…With apologies (and a tip of the imaginary hat) to Mr. Kenny Rogers, from whose ouevre someone should definitely create an epic ballet about life in the American West (but probably not me, because I have enough on my plate, what with Simon Crane and school and all that other stuff I seem to be doing all the time).