Monday, January 30, 2012

Move Tube: Learning to Watch Ballet

Today, I want to share one of my favorite online dance resources.  Ballet is pretty to watch, but I like things more when I know what I am watching.  Not just narratively, but technically as well.  Like when you watch ice skating and they explain to you salchows, axels and such.  This column from The Guardian does that.  Luke Jennings picks out ballet videos from YouTube and explains why they are good.  Below, a video from 1966 of Valentina Simukova dancing the pas de deux from The Nutcracker.  Visit his post here to read about her short tragic life, and what makes this video so awesome!

My favorite moment is from 4:15 to 4:30 when she brings her arms down around her partner, all languid and graceful.  Arms are hard y'all.  I've been practicing secretly in front of my mirror and they look so stiff.  I think the hyperextension in my elbows doesn't help the line at all!  I know how to correct this biometric flaw in yoga, but I'll have to figure it out for ballet.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Red Velvet at Crunch

CC Image courtesy Punctuated on Flickr
I was going to write a Debbie Downer of a post about my second ballet class and how I am BAD at things.  But, I had this really entertaining class at Crunch Gym yesterday that gave me a more positive perspective, so I'll roll with that instead.

I'll give you all a short summary about how I am bad at things for your amusement.  I had my second ballet lesson this Tuesday, at a different studio, because I'm still trying to find that unicorn of an absolute ballet beginner class in New York.  This class went a little easier because the teacher actually explained each move thoroughly.  I didn't look like a complete ass at the barre.  A completely different story at centre of course.  We had to do piqué turns across the room three at a time. While OTHER PEOPLE WATCHED.  Apparently, I cannot turn and remember which foot is which.  It's like in college, there was this five sided building that I would try to cut through as a shortcut but I would get turned around and exit through the same door I came in through instead.  Every time I did a turn, I had to pause and think about which leg was the leading leg that I was supposed to move.  Also (whisper), I think I'm afraid of turning.  It's all about release in a way, and feeling slightly out of control.  I got the same feeling trying to do a turn as when I first started doing inversions in yoga.  Which would be a scared feeling.  It took me two years to start doing inversions regularly!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Happy Weekend - Ballet Video

Photographer Ryan Enn Hughs used a bunch of cameras to capture dancers from Canada's National Ballet School in 360 degrees to put together this amazing short film.

BALLET 360 (The 360 Project) from Ryan Enn Hughes on Vimeo.

Happy weekend, everybody!  I'll be taking more ballet next week and blogging about it.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Pas de Deux: Yoga & Ballet

CC Image courtesy Shereen M on Flickr

The idea that yoga and ballet go together is not unique to this blog.  In fact, I've missed the did-it-before-it-was-cool curve because ballet yoga workouts, with programs like Yollet (clever name, right?), Figure 4 at Pure Yoga and the Yoga Booty Ballet Complete Work Out System (yes this is frealz), are everywhere you look.  I am sure there is a New York Times article to back me up on how this is the hottest thing ever, titled something punny like Yoga-Ballet is on Pointe or Meet You at the Barre.*  And yes, I will be subjecting myself to these bizarre experiments in exercise miscegenation in the near future to entertain you, my dear blog readers.

But really, how well do yoga and ballet go together?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Baby's first ballet class

So how did my first ballet class go?

Overall, from a scale of nicht sehr gut to sehr gut I would say it was medium gut!*

I was really nervous when I first got to the studio, and despite its high ceilings, large windows and charming New York decrepitude I was getting the urge to bolt. Everyone was chatting with each other, presumably about ballet, saying things like "I'm so sore from my auditions today!" and doing fancy warm-ups. And, as I mentioned previously, there was a girl in pointe shoes. Flipping heck! Keep in mind this was listed as a fundamentals class, so I was hoping for more newbies like me.

Why ballet?

First classes are always scary. They are particularly scary when it's a ballet class and you are an individual who has bad kinesthesia and an inability to tell left from right sometimes. That individual would be me.

So why would such an individual choose to take ballet? Well, for me, my interest in ballet had been piqued at a young age because of this book: Masquerade at the Ballet. It's a story that's like It Takes Two except with ponies and ballet! It's set in Northumberland! Which I thought was in Canada until I found out there is one in England too-- the book is set in the English one. It talks about Harrods and Covent Garden and realizing your dreams. And childhood crushes on men who are kind of sketchy. What more could a young girl want in a book? Did I mention the PONIES!?

Anyway, fast forward fifteen years or so to an adult me. Twenty-five year old me is in the midst of a stint of unemployment. I do yoga three to five times a week, and applied for yoga teacher training, but otherwise sleep a lot and watch television from the 90s. I had been thinking about adding another movement based activity to my repertoire for a while now, but wasn't sure what. Something circusy like tight-rope? Something martial arty like kick boxing? While I was debating the merits of acrofitness boot camp blast versus core fusion body sculpt, I reread Masquerade and suddenly I'm on the internet buying ballet slippers and researching adult ballet in New York.

I had my first class tonight and I love it. Stay tuned for my post tomorrow about the nitty gritty of being new in a ballet class that's supposed to be fundamentals but OMG there's a girl in pointe shoes over there. I also went to a restorative yoga class afterwards so I'll also be posting some thoughts about yoga and ballet. Let's just say my yoga teacher was yelling at me about things I was doing with my arms.

P.S. dear sister of mine, if you are reading this, I still believe you stole my original first edition with dust jacket Masquerade at the Ballet, and I will never forgive you because I now own another first edition but it doesn't have a dust jacket.