We were doing waltz steps around the room in ballet class the other night, regular ones, and then the turning ones, and three things happened:
Thing 1. I was wearing a ball gown, in my mind.
It had a massive skirt, and with every slow step of the slowwwww-quick-quick that is the waltz, I would use my whole leg all the way from hip to toe to push the weight of that full skirt and all the ruffled underneath layers of petticoats, I’d push it all forward and then during the quick-quick I’d catch up before the heavy skirts fell back into place.
Also, I was keeping my weight slightly forward (with a very straight back because imaginary corset), partly so I could peer over the skirt, and partly to make sure the entire ballroom wasn’t missing out on how the imaginary low-cut bodice was presenting my fabulous rack.
Thing 2. I figured out the mystery of the waltz: it’s just walking.
Just regular old left-right-left-right, but with a count of three to confuse everything.
I’ve been doing the waltz correctly pretty much for a while now without thinking about it or knowing how I was doing it right, just doing it and trying not to ruin it with thinking, but then we did this adorable thing where we all held hands and waltzed around in a circle and then changed direction, like something out of a Botticelli, and I didn’t know what we were doing at first so I was just walking, just regular walking, and then started walking in time to the slowwwww-quick-quick of the music and then was like WHOA. STOP. HOLD THE PHONE.
Thing 3. I shared this waltzing revelation.
This one girl was getting called out, and of course when you get called out during the waltz it does not help At All, and I know because that was me all the time, I’d be, like, adding a hop or trying to sneak in another step and he’d be like, “My Dear! Your right foot! Your right foot!” And I’d be like OMG STOP I HAVE NO RIGHT FOOT THEY ARE ALL LEFT FEET.
So after class I told this other girl about how the waltz is just walking, and Dude, Gentle Reader, I felt really hesitant about even bringing it up, I mean, I’m not the teacher, and maybe she was over it and just wanted to go home and look it up on YouTube or forget the whole thing and who am I to give tips anyway, it’s not like I’m even slightly an expert, but I told her anyway,
And she was like, what do you mean, walking? And then tried some more and was like, Oh FFS. It’s Walking!
Seriously though, it’s just walking. My mind is still kind of reeling.
I was going to a kid’s birthday party so I made this:
It’s from a commercial pattern, McCall’s 2758, but of course I had to mess with it, because of course, so the parts that are me and not the commercial pattern are that I cut the halter-top ruffle on the fold, because that’s easier and looks better than a turned hem, plus it made it so I could add a lining and make the whole thing reversible, and then with the shorts I invented that ruffled pocket and asked my husband if it should go on the back or front and he said, “front, then she can put things in it” because he’s smart, and instead of a fully elasticized waist I made the back elastic and put a drawstring in the front, mostly because I don’t have any clue what size the kid is, so now it’s super adjustable.
And best of all I used the little bit of leftover fabric to wrap the thing, and that was smart because otherwise I would’ve put the little scraps right back on the shelf, and the goal here is to use things up dammit, plus once the bundle was all tied up with a ribbon it looked so intriguing that the birthday girl chose it Third of allllllll the presents to open,
But anyway, I’m not just showing this because I’m a show-off,
I’m also showing this because see the weave of the fabric? The one with the lawn chairs and beach balls? See how it looks kind of like a basket weave?
That fabric is cotton piqué.
Piqué in the fabric world is defined as having threads raised in a pattern.
As if they’ve been pricked.
And it’s pronounced “pee-Kay, just like the ballet word, because they are from the same meaning, piqué meaning “to prick”.
In the ballet world it’s not a pricked thread, it’s quickly stepping onto one straight leg like a pricking needle.
So that’s neat.
I thought this drawer was just for ballet tights…
Just as soon as I use up all this fabric.
Whoa Gentle Reader. I just learned what a muscle knot actually is.
I mean, I figured it wasn’t a literal knot, since there’s no free end to tie, but I didn’t know exactly what else to imagine and had a vague image of, like, when you twist a rope so tightly that it hyper-twists back on itself, which is freaky when you think about that going on in your muscles,
But that’s not it, it’s worse.
My legs have been really stiff and cranky lately, probably from not stretching enough after spin class, which I’ve only been taking to increase my stamina for ballet class, so like that’s not cool, so I was googling “stretches for spin class” and a bunch of hits were talking about rolling out your muscles so then I was googling, “what the hell is so effing special about rolling out your damn muscles” and then I found out about adhesions.
Apparently your muscle fibers and the fascia that covers them can get stuck together. And when you stretch they just stay stuck together. So you use a foam roller or a ball or your thumbs or a massage therapist to break apart the stuck together parts.
Gross gross gross.
Gross me out the door.
(Ok and some other sites said knots are little contractions within the muscle that kinda get stuck in the on position, so you roll them to get them to quit it)
So I went to the dollar store and got these:
So we’ve got here a racquet ball (the blue one, came in a pack of two), some tennis balls, and the spiky yellow thing on the rope is actually a dog toy. The spikes feel nice underfoot, and the rope keeps the ball from rolling away. I looked in the laundry section hoping for some kind of fabric softener ball but struck out. I guess that’s a little fancy for the dollar store. Also looked for a pool noodle, but no luck.
The green ball and the orange ball actually belong to the boy.
Little bit ago I finally got to take a series of Align Ballet Method classes.
Align is a teaching style designed by Michael Cornell specifically for adult beginners, with classes at a few different locations all over Los Angeles.
Specifically for adult beginners, you guys.
This is awesome because if you’ve looked you know it is hard to find a class that is really for reals for beginners, and simultaneously really for reals for adults.
No tricks here, beginner doesn’t mean two years of experience, beginner means beginner and everyone else in the Align 1 class is also a beginner (or returning after years off) and you all start on the same day together, all beginner-y together, and you begin ballet.
I wish Align had existed when I started.
But it didn’t exist yet. Align Ballet Method was established in 2012, and the Adult Beginner is not an absolute beginner anymore so I jumped in at the Align 2 level, with Kate, who you can see dancing in a very pretty video here over at Darling Magazine.
I really really liked my class series. I wish it could’ve gone on forever.
The combinations at the barre were kept very simple with a huge emphasis on correct alignment, as per the name. I received a ton of corrections on tiny little things that I could feel making a massive difference right away.
The class was organized in that style (I don’t know if this is based in a particular school?) where each combination is followed by a period of time finding and holding balance, in fifth position sous-sou and later in passé, before moving on to the other side. Having this moment of quiet in between all the quick work was excellent for incorporating corrections and kind of clearing my head to start the other side fresh.
During balancing time Kate would come around and help people individually with their posture, and seriously dudes, my balance improved so much from taking this Align series that I can feel it in my regular ballet class. I can feel it walking down the street. I can feel it in spin class and yoga and in line at the grocery store. I want to take more Align to hold that feeling.
So, if you are in LA and you’ve been waiting for the Adult Beginner review of Align Ballet Method (totally kidding, who would do that, but if you have been:) I give it two thumbs up and a swirl.
I’ve been kind of thinking of Align as being like sculpting with an armature. You know, you start with this simple inner structure, and you get it right before you add the clay, as opposed to my regular open level class, where it’s more like starting with a big lump of clay and warming it and stretching and pulling bits off and refining down to correct.
You can make something beautiful and strong with either method, and trying one way when you’re experienced in the other can only improve your mastery of the medium.
I brought my little boy in to meet my ballet teacher the other day.
Stopped by the studio at the end of one of his classes, waved from the door during reverénce and then turnt the boy loose once the floor cleared.
Smirnoff: Good. He’s very steady on his feet. That is good.
Lé Assistant: He’s very much like you; he’s aloof.
Which I thought was funny, the aloof part.
I mean, I’d go with Busy for him (he had found some pens on the floor that definitely needed to be picked up and marched over to the trashcan past mama playing trashcan defense) and Shy Trying To Pass As Misanthropic for me, but hell, I’ll take aloof.
And that’s the funny part, as soon as I heard myself think “hell, I’ll take aloof” I had a flashback to my twelve-year-old self who, if given the chance to declare a public identifier, would have 100% chosen the label of Shy Not Stuck-Up.
Which is bizarre to me now, because 1. I don’t even think they look the same anymore and 2. aloof is great, fits right in with my passing-as-misanthrope thing. Twelve-year-old me could’ve used some of that.
Maybe Past Me was worried that people like to test confidence? And knew I couldn’t maintain aloof under even the mildest scrutiny, and that’s all you get in middle school is scrutiny?
Maybe that’s one of the reasons I like ballet class, it commands you make the shapes of aloofness with your body.
Maybe at a more advanced level you might be asked to express what’s going on on the inside, but at least here, now, in my classes, I get to leave the truth out of it.