Adult Beginner has a melodrama of a day

Feeling pumped after my good experience with Basic Ballet at BDC, I took a readers recommendation and looked up Ballet Academy East, which had not popped up in my previous googlings.
Beginners class, convenient time of day, bam! I’m there.
Like Broadway Dance Center, the Ballet Academy East is located on a third floor.
Funny how that happens in NYC. Don’t get a lot of that in LA- we spread, we don’t build up. Studios in LA are sadly lacking in romantic half-circle floor to ceiling warehouse windows. Which is a bummer, cause, like, I bet a girl could really get her pirouette on in that kind of light. Or a dude.
Wow, that was tangental.
BAE feels a little more homey than BDC, smaller, not as slick, not as crowded with teenagers. Big dressing room, each studio has a high step up into the room, so you can really see the floors are nicely sprung.
Big open windows along one side, from the wall barre up to the ceiling.
I was super early. Got dressed, waited outside studio, stretched a little, flexed and pointed, ankle circles. Other students started collecting. About ten grown up ladies, no teenagers, no kids, no men.
A quiet bunch. Some hellos but no chatting. Guessed they were all getting their game faces on. That’s cool, save the chatter for after class.
Other class finishes, we file in, two ladies bring out a barre each and stand beside, everyone else scatters to the wall barres.
I say hello to the teacher and then stand behind one of the ladies at the barre. Worry briefly that I’m intruding on her personal barre until the teacher says yes, that’s a good place for me, I can watch the lady in front and then turn and watch one of the ladies at the wall barre.
We start the barre.
I observe:
1. The lady in front of me, who is probably a grandma, has amazingly, beautifully precise feet. I love following her.
2. Miss the way Smirnoff lavishes attention on new class members. And old class members. He’s a lavisher, that one.
3. The barre is different, but I feel up to it. Figure if I took this class about three more times I’d have the hang of it. Main differences are: use of the leg closest to the barre during some exercises, double demi pliés during sequences which fit really nicely with the live piano (love live piano), no barre adagio as part of the barre stretch.
In fact barre stretch was kind of a free-for-all do-whatcha-like whereas Smirnoff’s is choreographed. Probably to make us do all the stretches, even the ones we don’t like.
And the frappés were the kind with the flex-strike-point, whereas Smirnoff does some kind of crazy Vaganova frappé
Arms at a minimum, but thats no surprise, no one does arms like the Russians.
4. No barre pirouettes
5. More balancing interspersed through the exercises. Reminds me of how my first teacher, Sazerac, ran class.
6. Not as physically challenging as Smirnoff’s barre, like, I broke a sweat but wasn’t dangling from the barre gasping for breath. More of a mental puzzle. It would be neat challenge to become a regular and try and conquer that barre.
Barre done, time for center.
Did well with the jumps, badly with the things in sequence. Like always.
But, didn’t feel bad, like, didn’t get that overwhelmed, sinking, trembly bottom lip, I suck, everyone else here Knows i suck feeling. And this wasn’t blissful ignorance either, I’ve felt that bad feeling many many times in class, I’d recognize it if it came over me, but it didn’t.
Therefor I thought, ok, I’m doing pretty ok here.
Until I landed funny from a tour jeté I was doing badly and kinda turned my ankle. It made a pop. I was horrified. Hurt, but could still put weight on it. Weird thing is, no one noticed. Went through the sequence one more time, mostly marking, and then the class ended, with applause, (what gives, NYC? You don’t reverénce?) and the teacher called me over. Said I did a great job, and she could tell I’ve had some training, but that I should take more basic classes, really fill in the gaps, before I come back to a beginner level class. I said yes, thank you, got my bag, walked out to the hall, sat down on a bench and inspected my ankle.
And just felt angry. And sad. And freaked out. Like, what’s the name for that emotion where you want to cry and hit things?
Not upset at being told I wasn’t good enough for the class, I mean, that’s fine. Upset because I’ve been making a huge effort to not let this happen again.
Been taking the subway way more often, even though I want to walk. Love walking! Never get to walk in LA! Been stretching my feet every night. Gave up cute shoes in favor of ugly-but-supportive running sneakers.
And I’ve never turned an ankle in my entire life! Never! Not in volleyball. Not running on un-even surfaces. Not walking in high heels. Not even en pointe! Fuck!
Got up, walked to the changing room. Ankle still supporting weight. Good.
Ladies from my class still in the changing room. Still not chatting. Suddenly occurred to me that that was very odd. They all seem to be regulars, they must know each other a little, and yet there was none of that hey-girl-tough-class-calves-killing-me-like-your-leo-is-that-new? type talk going on. Weird.
Got changed in silence and left.
Walking down the stairs into the subway was painful, but I still whooped and laughed when the updraft flipped my skirt. Figured that was a good sign. Hurt ankle not hurt bad enough to kill humor.
Got to hotel. Got ice. Wrapped ballet tights around foot and ankle as a makeshift compression bandage. Elevated foot.
It is surprisingly hard to elevate your foot above your heart in a hotel room!
At home I could have just sat on the couch with the bad foot up on the couch back, but here ended up flat on the bed, feeling sorry for myself, with the bad foot propped up on all the pillows plus a balled-up blanket.
Got on iPad, did a little self-diagnosis. Decided it’s a mild sprain. Proceeded with RICE. Rest, ice, compression, elevation.
Moaned. Was miserable.
Looked at twitter. Saw that everyone on my feed was having personal and artistic triumphs as well as great hair. Was more miserable. Put hand on forehead. Moaned and wallowed in patheticness. Realized I would not be taking class tomorrow. Maybe not for the rest of my time here. And that all my plans to wander around city on foot were hereby cancelled.
How did I manage to hurt myself? Again! What is wrong with me?!
Got angry, flung everything off the bed (except pillow pyramid) and took a nap.
Husband came home and was like, “why is there stuff all over the floor?” and I was like, “because I threw it there that’s why!”
Then we went out and got banana pudding. Well, I did, he hates bananas. And I was slow but could walk. And we got some aspirin.
And today I’m a slow walker, with a nice bruise coming along, but happily not much swelling.
Think I’m gonna be ok.

About adultbeginner

Had my first ballet class Ever at the advanced age of thirty-two. Yikes.
This entry was posted in Technique and Class, the Body and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to Adult Beginner has a melodrama of a day

  1. Well that sounds like a major drag, to say the least. One thing that confused me was that at my studio, beginner level is before basic level (basic is the level at which open classes start coming, and you would take beginner and beginner plus to get to that level).

    But the injury – wow, while travelling that is really a shame! I hope it doesn’t affect your pointe classes. I’m so scared to get injured. I have a back issue that I’m waiting until August to see a doctor about because I fear it will require a few weeks off ballet (there is no class in August).

    Also, I have been having anything BUT personal/artisitic triumphs, plus some terrible hair – it’s all posted on my blog if you would like someone to wallow along with. Misery loves company.

  2. Jen says:

    I am SO sorry this happened. I totally know the feeling of dread you had in the pit of your stomach. I tripped on the stinking CUFF OF MY PANTS last winter and sprained my ankle bad. If you buy some good tape at a drugstore and tape your ankle along the ligaments you should be ok to walk as long as you don’t have much swelling. I don’t want to encourage you to walk hurt, but you can walk with a sprain. I have. :) Just don’t walk much without it taped.

    So basically, Advil. Tough-tough sports tape (coach tape), scissors. Use this page ( to figure out what ligament feels sprained, then tape over it to support it in the direction the ligament goes. Cut about three six-inch lengths, so one goes on straight and the other two cross it like a narrow X. If it’s either of the two on the outside of your foot, stretch one over the outside of your foot starting just below your ankle bone and continuing straight along the side. Two should cross it one way, and three the other. No need to tape your whole foot but you can do that if you’re worried it will give out more on you. Put on a sock, and test it out.

    Also, massage your leg on the outside up near the knee, directly on the side where the calf edge is. If you have a trigger point in there it can really prevent your ankle from tightening up properly again. I got a click after mine, when I flexed or walk. It was a trigger point that developed after my injury, and massaging that muscle takes care of the click.

  3. amy says:

    Ohhh nooo …. ! I feel so bad that you got hurt! Maybe it will be better in a few days??? Doesn’t sound like you broke it.

    I do want to mention that if you take evening classes at Ballet Academy East you will experience much more cameraderie and chatting amongst your classmates. And each teacher there is quite different from the others. I’ve taken ballet all over NYC and that studio is one of the friendliest, in my experience.

    Hope you feel better!!

    • Yeah, you know, it felt like a friendly place. And the teacher was very encouraging, even while telling me I was like totally way out of my league. Maybe the class was having an off day. Really glad I went though, always good to know more places, wouldn’t have found it on my own.

    • Oh, and it’s definitely not broken, it feels much better today and doesn’t look nearly as bad as the sprained ankles my google image search turned up.

  4. Um, I just re-read my comment and realize I sounded like a knob. What I meant to express is that it SUCKS that you rolled your ankle. I really hope it doesn’t keep you down for long. Gotta hate the uneasy pit-of-the-stomach feeling. I hope you’re still able to enjoy the rest of your NYC visit and that you can get back to regularly scheduled dancing very soon.

  5. Johanna says:

    Oh dear.. I know that feeling too well, have been injured many times. That moment when you realize that you are hurt and that classes will be off, and all your plans cancelled.. I´m so sorry for you, and I hope that the ankle heals as quickly as possible!

    I don´t know if you were talking about my artistic triumphs and good hair, but yeah, managed both this week. Also had a weirdly acting knee which freaked me out. No pain, but intermittent weirdness. When you´ve reached the retirement age of pro ballerinas you worry much more that something will prevent you from dancing. Even if you take good care of yourself, shit happens. But so far, I´ve always bounced back. Think you will too!

    Side-note: the beginner-basic level confused me too. We have beginner first, then basic. Go figure.

    Weird about the not talking ladies. I would not thrive in such a silent environment (except for in class). Love the socializing, sharing and debriefing too much!

    • Yeah, that socializing is so necessary! Not just fun; important!
      In the beginning when I was new to Smirnoff’s class and worried that I was holding the class back with the Great Depth of my ignorance, it was really encouraging to just to chat about tv or work or whatever while changing shoes after class (home studio has no changing room) and feel reassured and welcomed.
      And then there are so many little things I’ve picked up just by seeing how the other girls care for their gear and what they use and how they stretch and all kinds of stuff I didn’t pick up during class or from books.

  6. :( Feel better soon! On a positive note, if you want to “reverénce your pants off” come to Dawn Hillen’s class this Saturday at Steps 3:30pm! Its an easy-to-follow class with tons of positive energy!

  7. William ward says:

    I know how you feel. As a new yorker, the cold atmosphere in the studio can get old. The instructors intimidate at times. but I am not dancing for them but for myself. you on vacation! do what you like! go see the urgent care if you need to, beth isreal runs a 24 hr clinic on 14th and 6th or so.

    done Steps yet?

    • No, I haven’t done Steps yet! Had big plans to do Steps! Was all excited about going to the famous ballet place where all the famous ballet people go! The people watching alone was gonna be priceless!
      Gah! (shakes fist at sky)
      Maybe next week. A super low-level pre-beginnery type class. We’ll see what the ankle says.

      • William ward says:

        Ok. I also adore Dorit Kopel at BDC for her Tue/Thu basic class. I love this city, so many choices!

        • I agree, love this city, so many choices!
          Got to take Dorit Kopel’s class last time I was here, and loved it. Gracious seems like a good way to describe her, like: elegant and welcoming. And omg her feet- the best example of feet-as-flexible-as-hands I’ve ever seen up close in real life.
          Also, she made a girl leave class for chewing bubble gum. Loved that. I mean, what the hell, who chews gum in ballet?!

          • William Ward says:

            There are all kinds of people. Some of them seem to have difficulty with decorum! Agreed on all counts about Dorit. She inspires me even when I’m not in class, which, due to grad school, has been awhile.

  8. chrisgo says:

    I prefer my pirouettes in the dark.

  9. carahe says:

    Oh, how traumatizing! I’m so sorry to hear that you got injured (and that you had to endure studio silence!). This just reinforces my theory that home-field advantage counts for a ton!

  10. Hope RICE helps! If you need something stronger, one of my students highly recommends KT Tape Haven’t tried it yet but she swears it’s magic. Be well!

  11. Kaija says:

    Ugh…so sorry to hear about your ankle (I have a historically problematic knee that swells up on me from time to time and I hate when it keeps me from dancing) AND the traumatic class (I so know that feeling you described)…hope you heal up and feel better soon. *Hugs*

  12. A lot of girls in my class are wierd like that too; not chatty at all! I guess it depends on the class.

    Don’t worry about your ankle, if you continue with the ice and rest you will be in tip top shape in no time! I know how frustrating it is though! I pulled my groin earlier this year (I was a little too enthusiastic about getting my splits fast) which really limited my ability to go to class and practice. It healed alot sooner than I thought! Maybe you will wake up tomorrow and be miraculously healed; pray to the ballet gods before bed!

  13. JP says:

    Oh that’s a classic problem with adult ballet! Beginner is a lie. I’ve taken ballet for years and I’m still a beginner (or, maybe I’m just physically retarded). Nonetheless, every beginner class I’ve taken has some students who’ve been studying for years; I’ve taken beginner classes with dance teachers (taking the class, not teaching it), women who also do pointe (proof of non-beginnerness). I remember, a few months after I first got back into ballet, I took an intro ballet class, survived bar, only to sit out the nicely executed grand jetes the class ended with. “Beginner my ass” I muttered in the dressing room. Inevitably, I see someone take a class for the first time and end up traumatized because they are the only person who does not know what to do.

  14. Reece says:

    “Or a dude.”

    Thank you. :-)

    Sympathies for the sprained ankle. Don’t “tough it out”; give it time to heal.

  15. Pingback: Fear. The other eff word. | Adult Beginner

  16. Pingback: Adult Beginner walks into a barre. Or two. | Adult Beginner

  17. Pingback: O hai pointe shoes | Adult Beginner

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s