Little Wooden Mannequin Project #3

Seriously, this thing.
The feet rotate in a full circle, including completely backwards as you can see in the reference photo, but the hips only hinge back and forth.
Who? For What??? Eh never mind.

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Little Wooden Mannequin Project #2

She’s so confident and full of sway, but oh those feet.

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Artist Mannequin: a study in anguish, joy, and problematic joints

We got this little mannequin as part of a, like, “artist sketching kit!” or something, Mr. Adult Beginner bought the kit just so he could use the box for another project, and then all the pencils and stuff went into general supply,
Including this tiny, cheap-o, figure mannequin thingy.
Supposed to help you work out poses for drawing, except that this one bends in ways the human body prolly shouldn’t.
Anyway, I keep finding it all over the house, abandoned by the boy in poses of extreme anguish and joy.
Makes me laugh.
This one for example, poor thing.


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Gwenyth asks Adult Beginner a thing or two.

Have you ever wanted to just grab the Adult Beginner’s full attention for a minute and say “Girl. Whut???”
Gwenyth did!
You know Gwenyth brand, of the beautiful barre wear and this yummy unboxing moment?
Quick but Hard-Hitting interview right here over at the Gwenyth blog.

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Man Up.

Got an email from a dude the other day,
A hardcore airborne soldier type dude.
A dude who has jumped out of more than one airplane, On Purpose, guns a-blazing, with a knife gripped in his teeth and a Don’t Even Test Me look in his eyes. Ok I made up the blazing and the knife and the eyes part. Although could be true?
Anyway, this dude was maybe just a little bit unsure about what he was supposed to be wearing to his very first ballet class ever, and maybe just a little bit apprehensive about the whole shopping moment in general, and was hoping for some advice from a fellow knife-gripping adult beginner. Except for the knife part.
So I advised some pretty simple advice, and then asked permission to share the advice here in case anyone else is in the same situation, and he said totes, so here it is:
For your first class, wear what you usually wear for workouts. Look up “plié” online, think about whether you can do one in the shorts/leggings/sweats/yoga pants you already own. Don’t worry about buying ballet tights until later, if ever. Some male ballet students wear ‘em and love ‘em, but they’re not necessary for the non-professional.
Actually, this advice holds for the ladies as well.
What is necessary for the mens: shoes and a dance belt.
Go to a dance store and try them on. Yes, that involves going to a dance store.
Some tips to make this less horrifying:
-call ahead and make sure they even carry ballet slippers that’ll fit your big man feet.
-go at a not very busy time of day. (Ask them what time this is)
-try not to be ridiculous like the Adult Beginner.
First time I went to buy ballet slippers, the salesclerk asked if I was shopping for my child. This was before I even had a child. My immediate, crazypants reaction was, “No! Why! What are you implying! I am too fat and old for ballet? Is that it?! Well?? Is it?!! IS IT?!!!!”
No, Gentle Reader, it is not. I’ll repeat, try not to be ridiculous like the Adult Beginner. They only ask that kind of question because 90% of the people coming through their doors actually are shopping for children, not because they’re passing some kind of judgement.
-get black slippers. Ok actually this is just what I like for the mens, you get whatever you like.
If there’s really nowhere nearby and you plain old Have To buy shoes online, check and double check the return policy before you order, or, honestly, buy an inexpensive pair and wear the hell out of them while gathering information on what improvements you want to see in your next pair.
When it comes to dance belts, you might just not even want to go there in a dance store, surrounded by pink fluffy things and moms. That’s cool. But you definitely need one, it’s a safety issue. Gotta keep your man parts safe because you might need them later, amiright?
Start here with Dr. Dancebelt. Lots of belty discussion and a list of online stores.
And that’s it! Easier than jumping out of a plane.

PS, for more advice to men beginning, see this post over here from Ballet To The People.

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A guest post by Maria of Thirty-six Views, on starting ballet in Japan

Gentle Reader! I’m delighted to bring you this guest post from Maria of Thirty-six Views, who didn’t speak Japanese *or* ballet when she took her first ever ballet class in Japan. Check out the photo at the end too, it might be the most adorable thing I’ve ever seen: classmates spelling out the word “Thank You” with their bodies, for a graduating student. So. Omg. Cute.

My first ever ballet lesson was in Japan almost three years ago. I went with my American friend (who already had several years experience), to a swanky studio in the centre of town that had a drop-in adult beginner class. Sometimes there were as many as five people there, sometimes it was just the two of us, and bless our teachers for trying, but they didn’t really know what to do with us. We had only been in the country for a few months and didn’t speak the language, I had no clue about ballet and was extremely inflexible.

We did that on and off for a few months until we found a studio that at first seemed a lot scarier. The teacher was a former dancer with the Tokyo Ballet and although there was an adult (beginner/intermediate) class in the mornings, because of our jobs we could only go to the advanced class in the evenings with junior and high school students and some really good adults. I teach English at a high school and I was mortified to learn that one of my students was in this class. Then when the lesson started, every available space was filled with the legs of twenty or more girls being extended to unbelievable heights.

Despite this initial impression, there was a wonderful atmosphere in class. The teacher speaks some English but I picked up the vocabulary for the parts of the body fairly quickly, and she uses the French ballet terminology. I’ve gotten used to the Japanese accent (pu-ree-ey = plié), but because I don’t really know the terms that well, I’ve found that sometimes I overcompensate on the translations. So when I heard pa-du-bu-rey, I translated it in my head to pas de blé (instead of pas de bourré) so now I associate that step with wheat. And as I was checking the spelling while writing this, I realised that I’ve been mishearing allongé as arrangé, I just thought we were arranging ourselves.

Most of the girls have been dancing since they were in elementary school and they are amazingly good. I thought it would be humiliating to dance in the same class as these lithe little dancers, but it’s been amazing. Everywhere I look I see an almost perfect example of what I’m supposed to be doing, and if I don’t understand something, I can ask them and they’ll happily show me how to do it. Although I know I am missing out on the basics by being thrown in at the deep end, I’m learning a lot just by example. I can’t compare it with any other country, but my American friend said she’s never been to a class with such a friendly, supportive, yet professional atmosphere.

When the students are in the younger class, they have to wear navy leotards with their name embroidered on the front, but when they graduate to this class they can get different colours or styles (always sleeveless though). Leotards with strappy details in the back and velvet busts are popular. Dancewear is really expensive in Japan. Maybe it’s possible to find bargains, but the most common brand costs about $100 for a leotard. Even wrap skirts cost about $70! The younger girls wear pink tights, their leotard and an alignment ribbon around their waist. Their hair is always slicked back into a bun and decorated with a cute clip or ribbon. There are some really good older dancers (in their thirties), who cover up more with shorts, skirts, long-sleeve leotards and t-shirts, but they always look stylish. I just wear a black leotard and shorts with my pink tights.

When I arrive in class, most of the girls are already there stretching and they set up the centre barre before the teacher comes. We greet and then start the barre exercises. The teacher demonstrates every exercise and will give pointers on potential mistakes. She always stresses using the inner thigh and she regularly warns us that we’ll look like rugby players if we only rely on our outer muscles. One thing I love about the Japanese language is the onomotopeia, for example when she’s demonstrating how to get up into a sous-sus, she will say ‘kyuu-p’ or ‘shoo-p’ to show the stretch and then stop. I also like how when she’s singing the music, instead of saying ‘da da da’, as I would if I were imitating classical music, she says ‘chan chan chan’, which I think has a much more orchestral ring to it. While we are doing the exercises, she walks around fixing us, and she often calls me out on my bad posture, which is called nekoze, meaning ‘cat back’ in Japanese.

We do barre exercises for 45 minutes, then the other girls change into their pointe shoes, and if it’s a normal class we will do floor exercises for the next 45 minutes, with her demonstrating each one and then we do it across in groups. When class is over there is a cleaning rota, so the students themselves clean the mirrors and the toilet and the floors to get rid of all the dust and hairs. It’s something to behold – if you’ve seen in Spirited Away when they race across the floor on all fours with a cleaning rag, picture Japanese ballerinas doing that across the studio. When students move away either to go to university or to continue their ballet career, the girls will organise a memory book where they will stick photos and pictures and write messages, and they might do a little skit where they spell out a message with their legs. One of the girls went off to train in Australia and she appeared in this advert:


In October, we will be having a recital, so for the past few months, the last part of the class is for practicing the dances. The studio has a recital every 18 months and it’s a big event. It’s in the city concert hall, professional male dancers are brought in from Tokyo to dance with the best dancers of the studio and a special teacher comes to give workshops to prepare for it. I didn’t take part in the recital last time but I am this year. The recital is funded pretty much totally by the performers and it costs quite a bit. The costumes they rent are exquisite and the quality of the dancing is practically professional. There will be a variety of different dances to show the abilities of the different classes (there are little girl classes too), and a series of dances from a big ballet. This year they are doing the party scene from Swan Lake so I’ll be in the Hungarian dance with some fellow Japanese adult beginners from the morning classes.

I’ve never taken a ballet class outside of Japan and I’m really going to miss the studio when I eventually leave. I never expected to take up ballet when I moved to Japan, but it’s a wonderful experience to have.


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I see you baby, shaking that ass

WordPress sent me an email recently, saying Congratulations On Four Years Of Total Blognation.
Ok they didn’t word it exactly like that but they did say congratulations.
Four years!
Maybe you’re looking over at the archives right now and thinking, “Girlfriend, those archives go back to February 2010, this here is July, them congratulations is Late.”
Which would be true except that Adult Beginner was self hosted for those first few months, and had a crazy address that was like a string of un-google-able numbers and letters and never got any views and I felt like I was failing at internet, but now I really appreciate having had those few months to get used to the idea of talking to the entire internet before any of it could talk back.
I highly recommend it. Getting a few posts stacked up in the archive, getting used to talking in your own voice, then pa-POW! Explode onto the bloggy scene! I mean not that I exploded. It was more like: (hi!). And not that you need my advice. You’re awesome already.
But anyway, four years of ballet and blogging.
What has changed in four years?

A really blurry and oddly lit photo of Shorts!
Really short ones!
I made them!
The inseam is like one-and-a-half inches, there outta be a law!!!!!
Four years ago the Adult Beginner did not wear shorts, even in summertimez.
So thanks ballet! Thanks blog!

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