(Not So) Thoroughly Modern Monday

Modern class this morning was interesting.

I was a complete space cadet, having failed to take both allergy meds and Adderall, and having also slept for a loooong time.

Nonetheless, I did a reasonable job getting combinations into my body and responding to corrections.

At least, I did up until Part B of the left side of the final combination when somehow, inexplicably, it dawned on me that I was on the wrong leg. I felt a little exclamation point appear above my head, then threw in a little changement to switch legs, and just went on. After, Modern T was like: “Asher!  On the left side, use the left leg!

We all got a laugh out of that. I sorted out on the repeat.

I missed my choreography session with B because Denis needed to go to the doctor, so I did M. BeastMode’s Monday night class.

I should seriously do this class more often. It was really good — especially the big dance-y parts at the end.

Having begun my journey back into dance as a Ballet Squid, I now find that my arms generally know what to do with themselves. This is a fine thing. It allows me to think about other details, like rocking the épaulement.

I generally bag no trouble remembering combinations tonight, though I didn’t nail the final one 100% on the left (for one, though, it was because I added something that wasn’t really there).

There was also one enormous and effortless saut-de-chat, which was awesome. SdC and grand jeté have been my nemeses this year: I’ve been working through that gap between how high they were and how high they could be and trying to get out of my own way, but it hasn’t really come together until tonight.

Anyway, it was a good class and a good night and I’m glad that I went.

Tomorrow will be cleaning and mixed apparatus day.

If things keep going this will, l’m going to write a letter requesting that we change the name of this month from “May” to “Can.”

The Time I Weekended Like a Champ

Okay, one of these days, I really need to take an actual weekend.

I cleaned the bejeezus out of the bedroom on Friday (we were supposed to go to a party, and then drinks after said party, and then the party was cancelled and, as a result, so were the drinks).

Saturday, I did juggling and ballet class (which was something of a disaster, y’all, and I have no excuse, except maybe the lack of breakfast), got costuming details sorted, showered, then ran back out the door to do dinner, a Cirque show, and drinks afterwards with my cirque peeps (we resolved to do the “getting together for drinks” thing again some time soon).

Also, YOU GUYS, I SHOWERED. The fact that this feels like an accomplishment suggests to me that I may be overscheduled*.

*To be fair, I do bathe pretty often, but that’s more like physical therapy than washing up.

We got home around 2AM, managed to get to sleep by 4AM, then got up again at 8AM to go do Acro, Open Fly, and the Sunday dance class.

Though we both did quite well with the dancing and the teaching, both Aerial A and I were defeated repeatedly by technology during class. I chalk this up to sleep deprivation, you guys. Because, seriously, we were both like, “OMG WHAT IS THIS THING I HAVE NEVER USED THIS BEFORE” as our phones trolled us. They were like, “Tendu music?  Imma let you fi-NO I’M NOT!!!! HAHAHAHA!”

I gave my Sunday class a rond de jambe combination with that lovely fondu-rond-allongé thing. To be honest, I was kind of expecting at least one person to fall over, and nobody did, which was pretty impressive. I should reiterate that these guys are doing all this without a barre. Fortunately, aerialists already tend to have strong core muscles and to know how to use them.

What we’re working on, in this case, is lines: using turnout through the full range of motion in order to maintain a beautiful line. (In case you’re wondering: hands on is the best approach, here. Rond de jambe definitely really benefits from poking and prodding, not to mention grabbing and rotating and pulling and guiding.)

This is really very relevant to performing on aerial apparatus — I use rond de jambe all the time on trapeze, lyra, and silks. Right now, it’s especially handy in my trapeze choreography to transition from gazelle on the right leg to horse on the left leg.

Oh, and then I started in on the Handstand Challenge. Gentlefolk of the internet, here is how you do not do a handstand for more than 8.4 seconds:

handstands-week01

Three words: HOLLOW BODY POSITION. That is how you hold a handstand for more than 8.4 seconds. This is not that. Also, my upper body is officially skinny, I guess?

I’m home now and in the process of making dough for French rolls and cheesebread (breakfast of champions?).

After we turn them into meatball sandwiches and stuff them in our faces, my big plan is to collapse into bed and SLEEEEEP.

…And then tomorrow it’s Monday again, so modern class.

I feel that, as a kid, this is what I was probably imagining when I imagined what weekends would be like when I was An Adult. Like:

“DO ALL THE THINGS! ESPECIALLY THE AWESOME THINGS! Then fall down and sleep!”

So there you have it. My weekend.

Jeez, guys, I need a break**.

**Not really complaining, here; also, totally aware that this whole post is like FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS OMG.

 

In Which Budgetary Constraints Make For Easier Decisions, For Once

As a physical therapist who specializes in adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities, Denis is reimbursed for his services primarily through Medicaid.

Upcoming regulatory changes both to reimbursement rates and the delivery of services mean that right now he’s considering taking a full-time staff position rather than continuing in private practice.

I started to write about the details of that decision here, and then realized that was going to be a really, really long post; it it’s a question of regulatory changes that reflect both good intentions and terrible implementation, and it really deserves a thorough treatment in its own post.

Anyway, as such, we’re keeping our belts a little tighter until we know what’s what, and both Sun King and Mam Luft’s full-day track are off the table until the dust settles.

Realistically, that might not happen until mid-June, and since Mam Luft & Co’s summer intensive takes place the first week of June, that’s obviously a spanner in the works.

Fortunately, Mam Luft & Co has an evening track which costs roughly half as much as the full-day track — and which falls well within the scope of my monthly discretionary budget.

Thus, I’ve signed up for Mam Luft & Co’s evening track. On one hand, I’m a tad disappointed, because I really wanted to do the Contemporary Ballet classes offered as part of the full-day track. Likewise, I’m kind of bummed that I won’t be able to participate in the performance at the end, since that’s specific to the full-day track.

On the other hand, I’m really excited about the partnering, improv, and music awareness classes that make up a big chunk of the evening track’s course load, and I can add the Contemporary Ballet class if I want to by adding a “Pick 3 Classes” registration (which, at $54, is a reasonable add-on; I’ll need to do something during the day, after all).

Since Contemporary Ballet is on the second day of the program, I think I probably won’t be too cooked to handle the early-ish start (evening track classes end at 10:10 PM; the Contemporary Ballet class starts at 9 AM o_O).

I didn’t check the “I want to audition for the company” box on the the application, because I’m not sure that I have anything like enough modern dance experience, but maybe I’ll write to them and ask about that. Apparently men are strongly encouraged to audition, so there’s that?

It doesn’t make sense to car-commute 2 hours each way the whole time, so I’ll find a place to stay in Cincinnati for the week (I’m hoping for some place with a swimming pool; that would make an awesome counterpart to dancing), and then I’ll have to find ways to entertain myself during the day.

Honestly, that shouldn’t be a huge problem: I’m pretty good at keeping myself entertained. I plan to do some research over the next few weeks, find fun cheap-or-free things to do by day, and bring my bike (because if all else fails, I can always amuse myself by riding the bike … probably very slowly, and only in the flattest parts of Cinci I can find, but riding the bike nonetheless).

And, of course, there’s always the magical land of IKEA.

For July, Lexington Ballet’s week-long adult summer intensive is very much on my radar. At $275, it’s also quite affordable.

LexBallet’s program is evenings only, but like Cinci, Lexington is a nice place to visit, and I’m sure I can amuse myself during the day for a week. I also know my way around pretty well, and I will definitely bring my bike, since there’s some very nice riding in Lexington. If I’m lucky, I may be able to stay with friends, or with friends-of-friends, since I still know people there.

I’ll need to register by June 15th, but that seems very much doable even if things are still up in the air, financially speaking.

So it looks like I’ll probably be doing two one-week summer programs this year, in addition to my usual ballet-and-modern schedule.

So that’s my summer planned:

June:

Suspend Spring Showcase
Mam Luft & Co Intensive (Evening Track)
PlayThink Festival

July:

Lexington Ballet Adult Intensive

August: 

Burning Man!

And that’s it for now. I should go finish my various houseworky things, as we have all kinds of crazy plans all weekend.

Like Wednesday Class, Only Bigger

Posted a day late, again. Posted two days late, because apparently I am increasingly able to remember complex modern dance combinations involving crazy nameless movements, but I can’t remember to change the status of a single post from “Draft” to “Publish.”

Oy to the gevalt.

ANYWAY. Here you go:

It seems as if, every week, Wednesday Class gets bigger.

As far as I’m concerned, that’s excellent. I really think it makes us focus down and work. Likewise, it tends to bring out a really good collective vibe.

That last bit sounds a tad hippy-dippy, but if you’ve participated in group-based physical activities, you’ll know what I mean. Dance classes, aerials classes, group rides, runs, group horseback riding excursions (and quadrilles) — I’ve experienced this sensation in all these settings. I chalk it up to the fact that humans are social animals and subject to a kind of social synergy.

Today, though I was working with a pulled groin and the iliosacral joint weirdness that has happened as a follow-on, class just felt good.

Barre was reasonable (mediocre extensions notwithstanding), and everything went fairly well at centre and beyond, basically.

The only bizarre thing was that, for some reason, I kept forgetting about chaînes whilst going across the floor. Like, no matter where they were in the combination, I would just basically forget they were there. If I got one set, I’d forget the next. Oy vey.

So, basically, we had this combination:
Balancé
Balancé
Sous-sus turn (arms in fifth)
Chaînes x4 (arms in that kind of demi-2nd thing)
Tombé
Pas de Bourée
Fourth
Double turn
Fourth
Something I’m forgetting maybe?
Chaînes x4
Attitude Balance
Run away!

Easy, right?

… Except I kept somehow forgetting the chaînes, then remembering them a half-beat too late and having to either leave one out or rush them to catch up. Feh.

I can’t really complain, though, because much of the rest was pretty respectable dancing, and I pulled off some very nice attitude balances.

I made myself redo the left side so I could finally get it right. I honestly don’t recall whether that succeeded, though.

I also couldn’t seem to remember the pas de bourré in our petit allegro combination, which was:
Glissade jeté
Glissade jeté
Glissade temps levée
Temps levée
Temps levée
Coupé balloné
Coupé balloné
Pas de bourré
Entrechat quatre x2

(Or that-ish: the counts seem slightly off in that write-up.)

I was like, “… Coupé balonné, coupé balloné, oh crap forgot my pdb again, straight into entrechats because I am awesome, maybe no one will notice :P”

Our last combination had elements from one of the fairy variations from Sleeping Beauty, which was cool, though now I can’t remember which one.

In trapeze class, I made up for my balletic shortcomings (or, as autocorrupt would have it, “Balrog Zirconia”).

Our choreography involved inversions in the ropes and I got to do them on the high trapeze (though not on the highest one, because the ropes aren’t long enough for the inversions we were doing). That’s a vote of confidence — it’s too high for spotting, so Aerial M. needs to feel pretty confident to let you do inversions up there.

We also did half-mills (which I can do in my sleep) and half- Russians (which are hard for me because, proportionally speaking, I have t-rex arms). Aerial M have me some pointers on those, but they’ll need more work than anything else I’ve done on Trapeze thus far. I look forward to working on them:)

Anyway, my love affair with trapeze continues apace.

To be honest, before today, I would have told you I wasn’t strong enough to straddle up into and inversion on the ropes, since that depends entirely on upper-body strength (including abs). There’s no jumping into it.

I would have been wrong.

Sometimes it’s nice to be wrong.

Choreography Workshop #1

But first, a few thoughts on teaching.

I gave our Sunday class an exercise with temps-lie (in open fourth) today, and they rocked it out.

There are a billion reasons to love and to use temps-lie — it’s great for teaching how to transfer balance, it helps students figure out how to use their feet, it feels dance-y, etc, etc. Today, though, I discovered one that I’d never thought of: it helps you spot students who are struggling with turnout.

Temps-lie in fourth with turnout is an unusual motor pattern.

In parallel, it’s actually a pretty common kind of movement — you’ve probably done something similar balancing yourself on a moving bus, train, or boat, for example, or reaching for something on a high shelf.

In second, even with turnout, it’s still not terribly unfamiliar.

The combination of turnout and open fourth, however, can make for a really challenging kind of movement. Suddenly, a student faces the potentially brand-new problem of shifting weight through their center of mass while continuing to rotate the hips open.

Students who are still developing the ability to maintain turnout from the rotators and intrinsic muscles at the tops of their legs tend to start to turn in, particularly on the leg that’s passing the weight along — that is, in temps-lié avant, the back leg may tend to turn in as the body is carried over the front leg, for example.

Those who are doing a little better but still not quite on top of the turnout problem will tend to roll the arches of their feet as their knees travel out of alignment. Their thighs may not appear to turn in much, but the rolling arches are a dead giveaway. (The turnout issue becomes more readily apparent when you look at these students from the side.)

Hands-on corrections can make a huge difference in both these situations: first, to indicate which muscles a student should activate to keep turnout going; second, to gently guide the movement of the knees so they track correctly.

Some students may initially feel like passing through temps-lié in fourth without rolling in at the knees is impossible, but it’s not (as long as they work within the purview of their natural turnout). Gentle hands-on guidance can usually solve that problem pretty quickly.

Some of our Sunday students are still finding their turnout, period, which is fine. Given that they’ve only been at this a few weeks, for the most part, I think they’re coming along rather swimmingly.

Next: Choreography Workshop #1

Today, most of us who have submitted acts for the Spring Showcase met to discuss our ideas, get a better sense of how getting-to-the-Showcase will proceed, and so forth. Denis brought his printed spreadsheets of our act, which more than one person found impressive. Heck, I’m still impressed.

After the group discussion, we broke out and worked on our pieces. This was the first time I got to try most of the sequenced choreography for my part.

I must say, I’m quite impressed with the work Denis has done: not only do the moves hang together well (there’s only one spot where the transition isn’t essentially automatic, and I worked out a graceful solution today), but there’s a natural coherence to everything. Incidentally, the moves also sync with the music really nicely, which is a bonus, since Denis’ only music-specific concern was trying not to make the whole thing too freaking long.

Evidently, I also look good doing my part of the act, which is nice. There was a conversation going on about my lines that culminated in someone asking me how long I’d been dancing. That was pretty cool:)

I ran through the core of my routine about a dozen times or so — enough to really make the choreography start to gel, since I probably won’t be at the aerials studio again until Tuesday.

All told, between dance and trapeze, I spent about two and a half hours doing physical stuff.

For some reason, I seem to be very hungry. Hmm. Wonder how that happened.

Pilobolus Master Class All Up In My Drawers

 

…Wait, what?

Kids, this is why punctuation is important. That should read:

Pilobolus Master Class; All Up In My Drawers

First: Pilobolus Master Class!

You guys, it was so great.

I feel like I learned a great deal about the process of creating dances through improv, and it was cool to dance in an environment where technique wasn’t even a thing. The guys from Pilobolus basically said, “We love dancers and we love dance technique, but if you’re someone who spends hours every day in class, please check your technique at the door.” As someone who loves technique but can get a bit too invested in it, that idea was very freeing.

I am a horrible person, and have forgotten the names of our ambassadors of Pilobolus, but they were both very cool guys and very good teachers — though this process was as much one of bringing out what’s already there as one of teaching. The teaching part was more about figuring out how to use what’s already there.

I must admit that I went into it a bit worried that I’d be all stiff and horrible because…

OMG STRANGERZ!!!11!!!1one1oneomgwtfbbq

…But apparently I overlooked the part where, like, you know, dancing? …When I was worrying about that.

If dance is involved, I seem to do relatively okay in groups of new people.

At the end of class, we broke into three groups and created three short (about 4 minutes) dances in the span of about five minutes, performed them, critiqued them, refined them over another two (two!) minutes, then performed them again.

All three dances were completely different, and all three of them were cool, but one (not my group’s; ours was silly) was really stirring and moving. I hope some of the dancers will take it and run with it, because it was really, really good.

I feel like I want to let this whole experience percolate a bit more, then write about it at greater length. It was, in short, just an amazing two-ish hours (happily, we ran over the original 1.5-hour class time).

It turns out that Pilobolus holds a 3-week summer workshop series (in Connecticut, yay!). I’m going to have to seriously consider whether I can figure out how to afford at least one week this year. Curiously, the name of the third workshop, Vision & Revision, was also the name of my favorite writing class when I was in high school.

Serendipity, much?

 

And Now: All Up In My Drawers!

I did manage to make it to IKEA afterwards.

My one real goal was to acquire a second Big Blue Bag, which will greatly improve my laundry system. Heretofore, I’ve been using one Big Blue Bag and any of my various not-quite-as-ginormous shopping bags.

The second Big Blue Bag wasn’t essential, but it will make the system run more smoothly, since now I’ll have two dedicated laundry bags of the same size.

While cruising through the store (you guys, it is so nice to walk through an IKEA all alone), however, I found something even better: specifically, Drawerganizers(TM).

Since keeping tights and so forth corralled is a fairly regular topic of conversation among dancers and aerialists in my life, I thought I’d share the current iteration of my system, which mostly comprises hair elastics, a plastic crate, and IKEA’s set of 6 Skubb boxes. (Sadly, the Cincy IKEA didn’t have the aqua ones in stock.)

I’ve been meaning to implement a boxes-in-the-drawers system for a while, but hadn’t found Drawerganizers that worked for me (shoeboxes would have been fine, probably, but we didn’t have any). The Skubb series works really nicely, and I couldn’t argue with the price — something like $8 for the set — or the portability factor. The boxes fold up rather ingeniously; when you set them up, little zippers in the floor panels add tension that keeps them in shape.

So, here’s how things are organized now:

image

First Floor: Cycling Apparel, Men’s Shirts, and The Occasional Sarong

Bottom Drawer (technically the second drawer from the bottom; the real bottom drawer houses bed linens): this one’s full of bike kit, a few pairs of shorts, and a bunch of t-shirts that I should probably donate, since I don’t wear them enough.

Bike kit used to share the dance clothes drawer (which was the Bike Kit Drawer until I had too much bike kit to keep it all in one drawer), but then the dance kit kind of took over. Anyway, I’ve used the two medium-sized Skubb boxes to contain bike kit.

Overflow bike kit lives in a vertical organizer in the guest room closet, because I am apparently unusually sentimental about my Cabal jerseys, even the ones I don’t wear very often.

And, yes, there’s even a sarong in there, though I don’t think you can see it in this shot.

Next time I’m at IKEA, I’ll pick up a couple more Skubb boxes to corral the things that are still roaming free.

image

Second Floor: Dance Apparel, Fuzzy Socks, and Thermal Tights*

Top Drawer: Dance kit and almost nothing else.

Until recently, I’ve alternated between folding and rolling my tights, and found that neither really prevents everything from coming undone when I’m digging for that one pair with the pictures of mountains on it or whatevs.

The other day, I hit on the solution of buying a package of brightly-colored hair ties to keep them contained. It works brilliantly.

In combination with the hair ties, the Skubb boxes keep things corralled and controlled. No more tights rolling into the base-layer section; no more dance belts hiding under legwarmers (right now, for decency’s sake, they’re hiding under a pair of socks instead).

Things that didn’t really fit anywhere else take up the extra space in the drawer in front of the Skubbs.

image

Rooftop Terrace: Aerial Apparel, Clutter, and Mayhem

On Top Of Ol’ Dresser: Denis’ tights live here, along with our white-noise machine (which is really an air purifier), a photo from our wedding, and a terrifying doll that predates my tenure in this establishment. There are also some foam panels that insulate our air-con when it’s installed, but right now it’s still on vacation.

I found the plastic basket at a place called Five Below, but you can find similar ones just about anywhere.

The fact that Denis has his own tights-basket means he no longer asks me where his tights are (when they’re right freaking there!) or roots through my dance-kit drawer, leaving chaos in his wake. Seriously, the man is like a water buffalo sloshing around in a pond when he gets in there.

My married peeps (and anyone with kids or particularly egregious housemates; similar things can happen in kitchen drawers) will understand how this helps keep me out of prison.

image

La Pièce de Resistance

A cheap keychain-grade carabiner slipped through a convenient opening in the “weave” of the basket holds the hair elastics that aren’t currently in use. I’ve oriented it so the gate can be operated without removing the whole carabiner: you just slide a band up to the top, open the gate, and the band comes right out. The process for replacing one is similarly painless.

I had to think long and hard about how to implement this bit, because my husband is a lazy slob (and will happily tell you so himself). The idea is to make it so freaking easy to put the bands back that it’s basically easier than not bothering.

You guys, I seriously believe in the power of harnessing the path of least resistance. Remember, when (ahem) shaping (ahem) the behavior of spouses, appealing to the natural laziness of the human animal will save you many headaches.

So, there you have it. A tour of how things are staying organized all up in my drawers (dancers be like, “Wait, isn’t that what dance belts are for?” :V).

…And, now, on to the rest of the house.

*gulp*

 

 

 

*So organize. Very boxes. Wow.

Holy Cow, My Cheekbones, Y’all

OMGOMGOMG PILOBOLUS YOU GUYS!

I am apparently having an unsociable week. My apologies for the comments to which I have yet to reply (I keep saying to myself, “NEXT TIME YOU LOG IN, DanseurIgnoble, REPLY TO PPL!!!” and then not doing it) and also for relative radio silence.

I am doing class and things are going pretty well, actually, I’m just feeling peopled out and my language co-processor keeps being like, “Feh, you want me to craft a cogent response to somebody else’s thoughts? Here, why don’t we look at more memes instead.”

So! It turns out that, this weekend, Pilobolus is teaching a master class in Cincinnati! At 10:30 AM! FOR ONLY FIFTEEN DOLLAS (if you register in advance)!

If you’re in the area and you can go, you totally should. You will run into me and get to watch me flail through said class. Assuming you’re not also flailing away so hard that you can’t spare the energy to do so.

Pilobolus occupies a huge space in my heart. I grew up on their home turf (Connecticus is tiny, y’all), and they were the first modern dance company I ever saw, way back when I was but a wee bairn (like, seriously, I was probably about three?) and had no idea that dance came in different flavors.

Anyway, you can thank Modern T, who informed us of this minor miracle, for this particular FanBoy Moment.

…Which sounds like some really awful blended tea flavor. “After a hard day at the con, settle down in your hotel room and relax with a piping-hot cup of FANBOY MOMENT.”

Or maybe it’s an equally ill-advised cologne, I don’t know. I imagine that it either smells like a freshly-opened pack of Magic cards did in 2002 or maybe like the scent of convention centers and sleep deprivation? I’m rooting for the first one, because I have never been to a convention center that didn’t have that “brand-new-carpet and brutalist concrete architecture” smell.

Anyway. Come do class with Pilobolus! It will be awesome! And then we can go to IKEA together, because Louisville is apparently not good enough to have its own IKEA.

Or, well, we can if we can still walk after an hour and a half of Pilobolus masterclass. Or maybe if they have those little electric carts. I don’t know.

Oy, Vey

Today my ear was screwy and my brain didn’t want to work — so of course today our AD dropped by to watch my class while I was screwing up the most basic combination ever. #FML

Two for the Road

On Monday, M. BeastMode drilled us all about conservation of motion. Since I seriously need to work on that — I’m all about the attack, but sometimes at the expense of letting myself sort of fall apart — that was a very welcome topic.

Anyway, today, while catching up with the Tweeters after literally months of trying really hard not to look at Twitter ever because, seriously, it’s like being kidnapped by some secret spy agency; you go in and then you wake up and it’s three days later and you don’t know what happened and it feels like someone hit you in the head with a brick.

Okay, maybe minus the part about the brick, except when eyestrain occurs.

ANYWAY.

So today I saw this fantastic tiny video from Miami City Ballet, and I went, “HOLY CRAP. THIS IS IT.”

It’s in time-lapse, and that’s what makes it work. Here are these dancers, and their arms and legs are like all over the place, and their bodies DO. NOT. MOVE.

This, people, is how you use your core. This is conservation of motion. This is what will make your turns a thousand times better and your renversés and balances all Balan-shiny. This is what Ms. B picks on me about now that my pelvis seems to be more or less reliably sorted😉

So, here you go. Watch (you may have to click through; I’ve never tried to embed a Twitter video before) and absorb, and then the next you’re in class, install and run this mental image. I am dead certain that this will help me, and pretty sure it will help almost anyone.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

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