Tuesday, July 23, 2013

It's Not Brain Surgery, It's Ballet!

I love TV shows and movies about ballet. I won't even call them a guilty pleasure, because I am proud to admit my obsession with them. You should see my Netflix rental history. Anywho, when the season 2 premiere of Breaking Pointe came on yesterday, you can imagine my excitement. If you haven't watched the show, I insist you find season 1 and start watching immediately, but don't blame me if you get addicted.

I thought I'd give you a little run-down of lessons learned from the episode, which was titled "It's Not Brain Surgery, It's Ballet!" (Which, for the record, I think is a terrible comparison, but whatevs, I didn't say name it.)

  1. I need to get back to the gym. And do it regularly. I love that they showed the dancers cross training, and talked about the importance of it. It is something I don't do nearly enough of, which is probably why I'm always getting injured. Speaking of which...
  2. Everyone gets injured, even the pros. But everyone tries again. Even if it means more injury. This makes me feel better about all the times I've been injured yet, like the masochist I am, come back for more.
  3. Ballet fashion rules. Such colorful leotards in this episode!
  4. Cost of living appears to be much lower in Salt Lake City than where I live. Their apartments are much bigger and nicer than mine. I'd be jealous but for the fact they live in SLC, and I live in Awesome Big City That I Love. This is even more ironic when you consider I was born just outside SLC.
  5. There's nothing wrong with kissing up to the teacher if what you're really doing is trying to become better.
  6. There ARE straight men in ballet. 
  7. Real ballet dancers do shots. And get a little drunk sometimes and say stupid things. In short, they are normal people. This, also, makes me feel better about myself.
  8. Adam Sklute likens Ballet West to high school, in terms of corps/soloists/principals, etc. I'd say this analogy extends to adult recreational ballet too - there are definite hierarchies, even within open classes - but with much less drama....most of the time.
  9. I want to wear a rehearsal tutu. All. The. Time. 
Do you watch Breaking Pointe or other dance-themed shows? What's your favorite? Comment away!

Monday, July 22, 2013

"Thank you for being a friend..."

Last Friday I got together with the Ballet Buddies (aka Ballet Fight Club) to say goodbye to one of our own, who is moving to The Big Apple to go back to school. When you think about it, it is quite remarkable that our little group has bonded so deeply over something as, well....strange, as ballet class. Our group ranges in age from 24 to 37. We all have varying degrees of education, diverse backstories, and come from all over the U.S. Some are super-duper smart (here's looking at you, medical professionals), some are super-duper flexible, and some have a super-duper innate ballet ability that makes me green with envy.

Why am I telling you this? Because when it comes to the things you love, having a support structure of those who understand you and what you are doing is essential. If we were doing this as children, we'd have classmates who we grew up with and became friends. As adults, that bonding process is much more difficult. As we all sat around the table (after a few cocktails, natch) it seemed perfectly normal to talk about the height of our arabesques, the fluidity of balanc├ęs and strength of pirouettes.

We may be as different, diverse and motley as they come, but we have ballet in common. It is something I cannot effectively share with non-dance friends....the passion, the idiocy, the injuries, the frustration, the joy....I am thankful for my little group of Ballet Buddies, and I don't think I'd enjoy dance as much as I do without them.

My advice to you today is to talk to someone in your class. Even if it is just to comment on a particularly challenging combination, or to ask where they got their legwarmers - make a connection. Over time, the friendship will develop, and you'll be better for it. As humans we are naturally social beings, and while forging new friendships was easier when we were 7, it is infinitely more gratifying 20 or 30 years later.

To my departing Ballet Buddy: You will be missed, but we wish you the best of luck in NYC - and I can't wait to come crash on your couch. Like the Golden Girls theme song said, "Thank you for being a friend."

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Ballet and Self-Diagnosis

After a certain point in ballet studies, you get to know your body REALLY well. Like med student well (OK, maybe not med student, but seriously advanced anatomy student for sure). Not because you're particularly smart, but because you are so attuned to every creak, pop and pain that you immediately freak out and go on an all-night bender Googling everything under the sun.

Or maybe that's just me.

As you all know, I had knee surgery in November to clean out my cartilage and plica. Not fun. Recovery has been slow but steady, but over the past two months or so I noticed both knees doing a lot of aching.

Let the Googling commence!

Found a gold mine for dancers - The Rudolf Nureyev Foundation Medical Website (http://www.nureyev-medical.org/). This site is about dance health issues - BINGO! One night around 2am I finally came across a solution to my knee pain I hadn't really thought about, that it wasn't actually my knees causing pain, but tightness in the connecting muscles and tendons. After a week of foam rolling my quads, hammies & hip flexors 1-2 times per day....no knee pain. I have now made it through two classes with no pain AND no knee brace. [does happy dance, pain free]

On the other hand, a new nagging injury has popped up. After some trusty Googling, I'm self-diagnosing myself as a potential case of flexor hallucis longus tendonitis, commonly referred to as FHL tendonitis. Now, I'm not 100% sure on my diagnosis so I have an appointment set for next week with my trusty ortho group, whom by now know me by name, but I'd say odds are 60/40 I'm right.

Sigh. To be continued....