On focus and the wiggle-bottoms

When I started ballet,
You know, way back four years ago,
I thought A Lot about whether I could have been a dancer if I’d gotten in as a kid. You know, Was I Robbed, Was The World Robbed Of MEeeeEEEEEeeee????, that kind of thing.
Friend asked me once, “Could you have been a dancer?” And I answered, “No, my torso is too long.”
Which is such an answer, I can’t even find the right word, it’s like not exactly a humble-brag but it’s got that same tone of back-handed self-flattery while at the same time being, like, so self-delusional, I mean, of all my physical flaws, my torso length is pretty much the very last thing that would have kept me from making it.
Also my torso is totally average. I don’t even.
Anyway, every now and then since that question and my wtf answer, things have popped up in my reading or listening and I’ve been like Oh, That! That is the real reason! Or at least a better reason. Or at least a more interesting reason to a question that doesn’t even need an answer anymore because NO REGRETZ!!!!!!!!
Here are a couple of the more interesting reasons.
1. Focus.
I’ve been meaning to write a review of The True Memoirs of Little K, by Adrienne Sharp, for like a year now.
Someday I will get around to it, in the meantime, short review: It’s really good. Seven thumbs up.
After reading I looked up Adrienne Sharp and found this interview (here) with Raiford Rogers on the Macmillan Publishers website. There’s this one part where she describes being back home at age seventeen, completely directionless after making it to New York on full scholarship but then not making it into a company and having no idea what to do next. No other interests. No experience other than dance. No hobbies. Almost no education, she says she was lucky to even get accepted into college at that point.
I mean, do you remember seventeen, Gentle Reader? Do you remember all the stuff you were into? Can you even imagine if all that wide world of interest were narrowed down to one thing? And it was you who did the narrowing? Not life circumstances or whatever?
It kind of horrifies me. I mean, I’m sure it’s not like that for everyone who studies intensely, and I’m glad it worked out for Ms. Sharp because that book kicks ass and I’m glad I got to read it and I’m glad there are people out there with that kind of focus, so I can watch them perform, but…yikes, man, can you even imagine?
2. The Wiggle-bottoms.
Was listening to a TED talk on the radio the other day, the one with Sir Ken Robinson where he talks with Gillian Lynne about how she got started in dance. The actual theme of the talk is nurturing creativity, here’s a link to a written transcript, which unless I’m mistaken is not complete, because I swear I heard on the broadcast version some audio of Ms. Lynne saying that as a child her teachers described her as having the wiggle-bottoms, but I don’t see it in the transcript.
These same teachers advised her mom to take her to a specialist, because she was doing badly in school and disrupting the class and always wiggling, but instead of prescribing medicating or labeling her as sick, the specialist told her mom to put her in dance classes. And you can read or listen to the TED talk to see how that turned out.
But anyway, it hadn’t really occurred to me that some people have the wiggle-bottoms and they need to move, or as Ms. Lynne puts it, must move in order to think, and I don’t have that. In my spare time, when I’m not doing things on purpose, like not out for a run on purpose or taking ballet or spin or yoga on purpose, I don’t wiggle. In my spare time the things I’m drawn to are non-wiggling things. Reading, drawing, playing with fabric.
So, I guess next time anyone asks me if I could have made it I’ll just say “No, my focus has never been laser-like and I don’t have the wiggle-bottoms.”
Or maybe I’ll just say, “Nope. Hey, let’s go sit still and eat chocolate!”

Posted in the stuff drawer | Tagged , , , , , , | 19 Comments

The Adult Beginner review of Beginner Ballet at Debbie Reynolds Studio

Review by: Adult Beginner
Class is called: Beginner Ballet
Where: Debbie Reynolds Studio, North Hollywood
Website: drdancestudio.com
How It Is:
I’m in love with this place. Completely.
To paraphrase the website, it was established in 1979 by Debbie Reynolds with the idea of providing, in addition to excellent dance space, some of the small luxuries that most studios lack. Simple things like easy free parking, showers, a place to sit that’s not the floor, a water fountain, a kitchen counter, a place to change clothes. It’s amazing how many dance studios in LA still, in 2014, do not offer these rather modest comforts.
That said, this place was luxurious thirty five years ago and it is now kind of a luxuriously run-down time-capsule. The sinks in the ladies room are FABulous 1970’s avocado green. The hallways are carpeted to comfort and quiet your tired feet, but the carpet has seen better days. The parking lot is huge and free, but there are signs all over the place saying Park At Your Own Risk, because, oh yeah, the studio is, like, deep in the heart of North Hollywood, like, Noho Arts District this ain’t. But who cares because the studio room that holds Beginner Ballet is huge, wooden floored, with two ancient pianos, nice sturdy portable barres, and an entire back corner partitioned off, hiding —I’m not even kidding— a golden chariot, a bunch of scenery flats, and a whole bunch of mannequins. I’m seriously in love with this place.
The teacher is charming and British and is the only teacher I’ve met while doing these reviews who is aware of how hard it is to find an actual beginner class in LA, and who makes an effort to keep her class accessible to the beginners, no matter how many professionals show up. Her approach is to emphasize strength rather than going for crazy complexity, so most of the barre exercises are given on flat and then again on demi pointe, and I’ll just say here, as a person accustomed to death-gripping a wall barre, ronde de jambes en le air on demi on a portable barre: I was sore for the next two days. Also I’ll just say here the girl on the other side of my barre was very kind about not making a big thing about it while she pulled the barre back into place after every single exercise. (Gosh I don’t know why it’s traveling like that ha ha face-palm)
If you are a true beginner or TB (see key here), the teacher will modify some barre exercises and center stuff for you, which is awesome, if you are an IB or AB you will fit right in, if you are a TI or TA, you’ll get a nice work out.
Class size: ten or so
Age range: 20something and up, mostly twenties, I think? But a good amount over thirty?
Any dudes? yes
What to wear: black
In Conclusion: I think I mentioned that I’m in love with this place?
If you want to have the best day ever, drive south on Lankershim after class and get a shake at the In&Out and then drive over to Circus Liquor at Vineland and Burbank Boulevard and re-enact that scene from Clueless. Best day ever.

See below: Is that a toy piano or IS ANN MILLER A GIANT???

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See this Ibis-headed Sphinx? A pair of them guard the entrance. Also, note Debbie’s parking space. Aw yeah.

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What one additional special thing should there be in The Stitch Kit?

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Friend came to visit this summer, and brought me this sweet gift: the Stitch Kit made by Bunheads Dance Accessories.
I wasn’t taking pointe at that moment but she knew I’d totally enjoy this as a small thing filled with small things, and she was totes correct.
Something so delightful about little kits like this, funny little self-contained things full of things, with built-in features, like this kit has a little notch punched out of the lid that serves as a thread cutter so you don’t have to worry about scissors.
I unscrewed the lid and dumped it all out right away so we could admire all the exciting tools inside, which are:

Spool of strong shiny peach-colored waxed nylon thread
Two sewing needles
Little pamphlet with sewing instructions

We were delighted with all the little things and the pointe shoe photos in the little pamphlet, but both wanted there to be one more thing.
Not sure what.
One more special little luxury or witty little inside-joke-y dancer thing to balance it all out.
Like, one stick of gum. Except no gum in ballet class.
One bobby pin. Except one hair pin is useless plus not very special.
Maybe one bobby pin with a rhinestone. You know, for emergency sparkle situations.
One feather.
One pointe ribbon would take up too much space, same for elastic, it’s gotta be something small.
One miniature pixi stick.
One roll of Smarties.
One pre-loaded glitter eyeshadow brush.
One bandaid.
One packet of instant coffee.
One snake-on-a-spring to jump out and startle and delight other dancers when you lend it out.
One tiny tube of arnica gel.
One strip of beef jerky.
Three almonds in a plastic sleeve.
One miniature nail file.
One inspirational quote handwritten on rice paper.
One good luck charm on a safety pin to be pinned inside your leotard. Actually a safety pin would be a good idea.
One pair of stick-on earrings.
I could go on for days.

Posted in Ballerina Class, and other pointe-y stuff, Drawings of great sillitude, reviews | Tagged , , , , | 12 Comments

More thoughts on quitting pointe

It’s fun to say I quit my pointe class, because it sounds all dramatic like I stopped mid-chainé and yelled EFF THIS and tore my tutu off and slammed it down on the studio owner’s desk and stomped out all defiant (and loud, because pointe shoes are loud),
but the whole truth of it is that while I was in the yucky process of admitting that this class wasn’t working for me, the class was totally loosing attendance and dwindling down and about to be cancelled anyway. Which I could totally feel happening around me. In fact I considered not leaving the class at all but just sticking with it until it’s bitter end just so I could feel all virtuous like I hadn’t given up, you know, like I wasn’t one of the ones who flaked, but that would be dumb and not honest.
What is honest:
Earlier this year when I was in a vague goal-making mood, I made a vague goal to work back up to pointe in a couple years, like add classes to my week so that I’d be up to the two to three classes per week they recommend for pointe,
You know, They,
Figured that would probably be a goal for maybe 2016. With a new teacher. Because as much as I love my teacher, his style is to sketch out the general gesture of a thing and then refine it, which works well enough for regular ballet class, but I knew, in the back of my head, in my vague goal-making planning sessions, that I hadn’t enjoyed that approach to pointe and I wanted to try it a different way next time.
But then this pointe class just happened, like bam out of nowhere, and I already had shoes and it was actually a time I could do on a day I could do, and, you know, it’s like when someone hands me a piece of cake, I’m not going to be all like, “Oh, no thanks, this isn’t the exactly perfect cake to fulfill all my super-specific cake needs, I’ll just wait a couple years until The Right Cake comes along, thanks though.”
No, I’m gonna shut up and think ‘Oh what a nice treat! How lucky I am!’ and take the pointe class. I mean cake. This is just a reality of taking ballet as an adult. Pointe for adults is rare, it might never be available again, eat it while you can.
Actually cake is a bad example because the Adult Beginner routinely turns down cake. Unless it’s an especially good looking cake or there are political ramifications to turning it down, I’d rather just not and have a mocha later. Or ice cream. Or a mocha ice cream. But I’m kind of whatever-y about cake. Remember back when you were a kid and all you wanted in life was the giant icing-rose from the corner piece of a big ol’ cheap grocery-store sheet-cake? God, those things loom mythological in my mind.
Anyway.
Some specific things about this pointe class:
1. Regular ballet class is an hour and a half and costs $20. Pointe was just a half hour but cost a whole ‘nother $20. That is a lot, even when you are working. I’m not working. When class starts late and that first plié slides to five past, ten past, fifteen past, more, and suddenly you realize you are paying $40 for a slim hour and a half total, you start to feel like some kind of chump. Or at least I did. I should note here that Mr. Adult Beginner is totally cool with me spending his money on ballet class as long as it makes me happy, but I wasn’t happy I was some kind of chump.
2. This class was started at the request of the students, with the condition that there must always be a specific number students or else the class would have to be cancelled. And everyone swore up and down that the core group would always attend, and anyone else was icing (giant sheet-cake-rose icing). Not me, I made it clear that I couldn’t commit because baby, so don’t count me in. I ended up being in. Last pointe class I took, I was one of two. Two! Down from ten at the first class! Not cool. Not cool for anyone.
Moral is: if you are starting a pointe class for adults, it can’t be drop-in. Make all them bitches pay for like two months up front. As a show of commitment, and to get everyone to actually look at their damn calendars and figure out if they can really be there or not.
3. This is kind of a weird one, but I gotta tell you Gentle Reader, I felt really apprehensive about even telling you about quitting pointe. I dreaded it.
I totally appreciate the advice and encouragement you’ve given while I was in the pointe class, and I appreciate that you understood when I left.
Thanks friend.

Posted in Ballerina Class, and other pointe-y stuff | Tagged , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

From fear to acceptance in like two seconds. #Maturity #Whiplash

I was sitting on the floor in the hall of a new dance studio the other day, with, like, my world all spread out around me —shoes, warm-ups, bag, phone, other bag— wondering why I always show up for ballet class so stupid early, like before the teacher is even there early, why don’t I learn,
And I hear a voice and look up it’s this little girl, like maybe seven, all happy smiles and pink leotard, hand-in-hand with her mama, and this tiny kid is walking right toward the room where I’m about to take class,
And I totally ice-over and think “FUUUUUUUUUUH!!!!!!!!”
And think, “Oh help me it’s about to be one of those classes oh no not children this is the worst just kill me now,”
And then think, “Nah, you know what, it’s fine, totally fine, actually it’ll be really really interesting to see how a teacher works with adults and kids all together in the same class, this’ll probably be awesome,”
And then think, “wait, what? WHO EVEN ARE YOU ANYMORE, ADULT BEGINNER?!”
But then at the very last second she zigged left instead of zagging right and totally went off to a different class, so all that for nothing.

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It’s not you AB, it’s the non-disclosure.

Was walking with my sister the other day, pushing the boy in the jogging stroller,
—And feeling pleased that at least this time we hadn’t seen Other Jogging Mom, the one who I only ever see when she’s jogging her stroller but I’m just walking mine. Never mind that I might have just finished a super long run, Other Jogging Mom and I only cross paths when she’s jogging and I’m lazy. In fact, the other day it was like 100 degrees out and I was in my car and I saw her out jogging that jog stroller and I totally wanted to roll down my window and yell, “I’m driving to the gym!! To work out!! I’m not lazy!! Your Face!!!”
Actually Other Jogging Mom is really nice. We chat at crosswalks. I like her. But man, gets me so competitive!
Anyway not the point. Point is, the other day, strolling the jog stroller back from coffee, we walked past some kind of film shoot and I was like, “Ooh! I wonder what they’re filming?” and my sister was like, “I love how you always just bust up in there and ask,” and I was like ,”yeah and I love how they always tell me. You know they like never tell [Mr. Adult Beginner]? They totally say something lame like ‘it’s a Tv Show’ and he’s like ‘No duh, Power-Mad Clipboard-Wielding Nineteen-Year-Old, it’s obviously a tv show, but fine, don’t tell me, jeez.’ “
I think they just tell me because I’m all adorable pushing a stroller. Plus maybe it’s because I never ask the nineteen year old with the clipboard.
Didn’t find out what they were filming this time though because the shoot was on the other side of the street.
But reminded me of the other day after another not-awesome pointe class, I was sitting in the lobby all sad times, taking off my sad pointes, trying to decide if I need better shoes or a better attitude or what, and there was some kind of big audition going on in one of the other rooms, maybe something hip hop, and two of the auditioners were sitting on the other couch all slumped over not talking and staring at their phones, like they were maybe sad times too, and after a little while I asked, “What’s the audition for?”
And they both kinda looked over at me side-eye and said, “An artist.”
Oh.
Man.
I kinda just said, “oh.” and then got my shoes on and walked out all Extra Sad Times thinking, “Oh Come On! An Artist? Really?!!! That hurts my feelings! I’m cool! I think? Ok Fine! Don’t tell me JEEZ. It’s obviously either a commercial or a tour anyway! I know stuff! Jeez!”
Didn’t occur to me until later that they’d probably both signed a million non-disclosure agreements, they probably really couldn’t tell me, like, legally. Like I was probably kind of putting them on the spot by even asking.
All I could think in that moment was that they looked over, saw that I was not cool, not a real dancer, plus too old and fat and what was I doing with those pointe shoes and what was my hair’s problem and nobody wears new balance anyway like ‘nice mom-shoes, lady,’ and just decided to shut me down.
Why am I so drama? I think pointe class makes me a little bit sad and insane.
Therefor:
Gentle Reader, I’ve quit pointe.
Gonna write Adult Beginner LOLZ in fancy script across the toes of my pointes and try again sometime in the future with new shoes and a different teacher.

Posted in Ballerina Class, and other pointe-y stuff, Bark! Bark! Bark! | Tagged , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Pretty in pink. Isn’t she.

How about a bunch of pictures of meeeeeeeeee? Wearing the gwenythbrand Modern Classic tunic, in ballet pink?
Ok!!!!!

Ruche those ruches, girrrrrl. Tie that bow. Wear those shorts.

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Kind of a 70’s Portrait Of A Leotard feeling going on here. I like it. Let’s keep going…

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Whoops, too sexy, AB, who you trying to fool?

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That’s more like it. Such a pretty face.

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Eames, you’re nothing but a photo prop to me. I stand on you. Eat my pointes.

Gentle Reader, you might remember I got to be a tester and feed-back giver for Gwenyth brand on the Modern Classic tunic, way back in the 1.0 kickstarter days?
The Modern Classic, which is a length-adjustable top, tunic, and dress all in one for Pilates, ballet, barre class, coffee dates, etc, based on vintage ballet rehearsal clothing, updated for the modern lady who likes things like stretchable fabric, and a bra?
Here’s a post showing the super satisfying unboxing experience, just if you’d like a reminder.
Gwenyth is now onto the 3.0 version of the Modern Classic tunic, new and improved with feedback from feedbackers.
For example Gentle Reader, if you get one, and you appreciate the strap across the back that attaches to the hidden internal bra and holds taut for added bust security, that was Totally My Feedback!!! You are totally welcome for that one!!!!!! It was my pleasure!!!!
I mean, I think that’s really cool, to see my own feedback implemented in a helpful way.
I mean.
The strap can be removed and used as a headband too, if you wanna. That part wasn’t my idea. But it should’ve been because it’s awesome.
How about one more picture? Ok fine.

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Posted in OMG outfits you guys! | Tagged , , , , , , , | 20 Comments