Ridiculous eyes and elastic hearts

You know how when you give someone a gift, once you give it to them it’s theirs? It belongs to them?
As in, you have given it completely, you no longer have ownership over it, you can’t get all butt hurt if they don’t use it the way you intended,
(Why don’t you wear that shirt I got you tonight? You look so nice in it, I wish you would…)
I felt like that while watching Sia’s Elastic Heart video for the first time. And the second and third.
Here’s a link to it on YouTube.
My husband came home and was like, “Sia issued an apology for this video, let’s watch it,” so we started watching and I was like, ok, it’s about…he’s representing Human and she’s representing Other, like as Animal specifically…maybe…No…omg, he represents Parent and she represents Child, omg I think I’m crying…
I mean, it hit me in a super overwhelming way that the video is about being a parent and seeing this thing before you that is so foreign and beautiful and terrifying and yours, I mean, you can protect your own heart and keep it safe but then in your child is your own heart that you can’t protect anymore, it’s got it’s own journey and you’re not in charge of your own heart anymore, and that’s terrifying,
And you’re fascinated and in love and terrified and you can’t look away,
And the cage they’re in, that’s the scope of the parent’s influence, or maybe even the span of the parent’s lifetime, encircling the parent but not the child, and at the end of the video they push and pull through the bars because it’s hard to break free of your parents and it’s hard to let go of your child but ultimately the parent is confined in this circle,
Oh man, I felt this so strongly, like the meaning could not have been clearer,
Is Sia a parent? I don’t know, I don’t even care, that’s not the point, the point is this is what she was saying to me, she gave me this gift and and this is how I am wearing it.
So it was interesting to read Sia’s own discussion of the video, that her intention was to represent two parts of the same self, battling, and later in a Making Of Video someone referenced the cage as being the mind in which these inner selves chase and bite and hit and play and carry and comfort. I can see that now, but I didn’t see even a hint of that before I read her take on her own work.
This is one of the neat things about dance.
It’s the most open to interpretation of all the art forms, I think.
Like if we had a scale where on one end the audience receives exactly the message the artist intended, and on the other end the audience receives a meaning that maybe has nothing to do with the artist’s intention, I’d say that scale goes from writing to dance, with music and visuals in there some where.
Maybe I’ll draw it out someday.
Right now I need to go dry my ridiculous eyes and go get my sweet baby up from his nap.
Peace out Gentle Reader.

Posted in ce n'est pas une mom blog, Movies, tv, and live stuff | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Strong! Fast! Zzzzzush! Fire!

Frappés, man.
I have heard more than one teacher say, during class, while telling us to do frappés, “I don’t know why we do frappés!”
Which makes me think, “well then why Are we doing frappés! I though you were in charge!”
I actually kind of like frappés for the tricky tricky way they go against everything ballet: that not-pointed foot, and the way you are actually supposed to make a noise against the floor, plus if you take a Russian style class it’s a whole different exercise but it’s still called frappé, like they ran out of words and were just like, ‘Meh, let’s call it the same like that other thing that it doesn’t resemble at all.’
One thing I don’t like about frappés: when teachers give a helpful image, it’s pretty much always the bug.
As in, “Imagine there’s a bug right there on the floor in front of you! And you smash it!”
No, dude, I don’t want to smash it. Especially not in my ballet slippers, gross. And then what, there’s a smashed bug on the floor? We stretch there. Double gross.
So imagine my grande joie the other day in class when the adorabablay French ballet teacher was all, “Frappé means to strike! Strike the floor as you would strike a match! Strong! Fast! Zzzzzzush! Fire!”
That’s hot. I can do that.

Posted in Technique and Class, Word Nerd | Tagged , , , , | 23 Comments

The Adult Beginner Review of Beginning Ballet & Floor Barre at Heartbeat House

Review by: Adult Beginner
Class is called: Beginning Ballet & Floor Barre
Where: Heartbeat House, Atwater Village
Website: heartbeathouse.net
How it is: Totally fun. Starts like a regular ballet class, then the portable barres are carried off into the storage room and we all get down on the floor. The Adult Beginner has never done a floor barre before, and it was good! Really intense turning out and hip opening and pushing the heels forward, it’s amazing how much more you can focus on proper feet when you’re not, you know, standing on them.
I really enjoyed the teacher, Cati. She is French, and incroyablay adorabablay absolutaymont. Very fast, friendly, smiley, kind of whacky even, like making sound effects and occasionally playing this piece of music that made me feel like we were in Fame. She demonstrated every combination, but kept everything moving along really quickly, and once we were on the floor was a lot more hands-on with placement and corrections. There were one or two absolute beginners in the class, and she didn’t change the exercises for them or fuss over them excessively, which I think is nice. Indicates a certain amount of trust.
So I’m not sure exactly what level to call this. It’s not an absolute beginner class, but the absolute beginners in the class did fine? I found it good and tough, but a friend said it was the easiest beginners class she’s ever taken. So, your basic no-level all-levels “beginner” beginner class.
Class size: a dozen or so
Age range: mid-twenties to mid-forties/fifties?
Amenities: Parking is metered street, or free in the surrounding neighborhood. There are little towels available for free! Return them before you leave! There’s a bathroom, no changing room. There’s a little entryway where you can sit and watch the class before yours while they finish up. This is a store front studio. A tiny tiny place. So definitely no coffee, no water fountain although they will fill your water bottle for fifty cents.
That’s cool though because after class you can just walk a couple doors down and keep that French feeling alive at Bon Vivant with a baguette and butter. The butter comes in a cloche de beurre! Yes!!!! Or hell, walk down to Sew LA and keep that adult beginner feeling alive with a beginner sewing class.
Any dudes? not that day
What to Wear: Uh, you don’t even need ballet slippers for this mug. Half the class was in socks. This class actually had a great variety of clothing, I would love to go back with my iPad and stylus and just draw the class except that that might be weird for them. Examples that come to mind include just leotard and tights (quite a rare look here in LA) , a short dress with leggings, cut-off sweats and a tank top, leotard and leggings with leg warmers, yoga pants and a baggy T.
In conclusion: If this was my neighborhood I would be so puffed up with neighborhood pride right now. Great class, great place.

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No really, City Councils should get on this.

Took a class at Heartbeat House the other day,
but before I talk about that I wanna talk about this other thing.
Ok, Heartbeat House has this deal for new people. First class costs five dollars, and all the other classes you take within your first week keep on costing just five dollars.
Totally great.
I was getting all excited about how totally great until I remembered how a $5 class would cost me an additional $15 worth of babysitter. Or actually more like $30 or $45 worth of babysitter when you throw in travel time, plus what if I want to hang out after class and get a coffee and wander around Atwater Village —which is suddenly cu-ute you guys, last time the Adult Beginner bothered with Atwater Village was an evening like ten years ago at Club Tee Gee and Canelé and I sure don’t remember wanting to come back and hang out in the daytime like I do now—
But anyway, in addition to the cost of babysitting there’s the planning, I’d have to call a few days ahead, schedule, blahhhhhh.
Thinking about babysitters and stuff made me wonder for the millionth time why why why there are no drop-in flat-rate child-care centers in these Arty Neighborhoods in LA.
I mean, like, a friend of mine runs a drop-in half-day child-care in her home, and it’s lovely, but her home is super far away and not near anywhere I want to be. If I’ve got a four hour window and two hours are spent driving back and forth, well, that’s a big ol’ Eff That.
If, however, there was a child-care in an adorable little store-front right next to Heartbeat House, or someplace in, I don’t know, whatever other cute neighborhoods are there in LA, like Larchmont Village, Los Feliz, Noho Arts District, Silverlake, Tujunga Village, Venice, York Boulevard, whatever, if there was some adorable little storefront childcare where I felt like my boy would be safe and happy and get some socializing in, so like it’s a fun day for him too, I would happily spend four frivolous hours finding things to do. Me and my wallet. Just frittering the half-day away, instead of sprinting out of class to get home in time to stop the meter on the babysitter.
Bottom line is:
The easier you make it for Mama to hang out in your shopping district, the bigger handful you can grab of Mama’s sweet sweet cash.
I’m talking weekday cash too. The sweetest cash there is. City Councils outta be subsidizing this, seriously.
But until they do, Gentle Reader, when you open a dance studio, consider inviting a non-enrollment flat-fee drop-in child-care to open up next door. Adult Beginner says thanks, and so do all your neighboring businesses.

Posted in Bark! Bark! Bark!, ce n'est pas une mom blog | Tagged , , , , | 17 Comments

Men, The Blogroll.

This week’s blog roll: Men!
Men who take ballet and blog about it.

Ballet Chap here
a Ballet Education here
Dancing Over The Hill here
Dave Tries Ballet here
Leotards and the Buns In Them here
Love Ballet 89 here
the Music and the Mirror here
My Beautiful Machine here
Rahyuhn Jeymz Takes On Ballet here
RMedina49 here
Tights&Tiaras here
You Dance Funny, So Does Me here

Dudes, you inspire more people than you know. Thanks dudes!
Let me know if I’ve missed any blogs, I’m totally happy to add to the list.

Posted in the stuff drawer | Tagged , , , , , | 13 Comments

Noodling On about Sickles.

Was making lunch for my little boy the other day and noticed this:

Check it out, she’s holding a sickle.
Let’s looks closer:

Gosh she’s pretty.
At first glance I thought she was standing and had weird proportions, but on second glance you can see she’s not weird she’s just seated, giving us a glimpse of her foot.
Which is not sickled.
Which got me thinking how weird it is that The Sickle is such a heavily used metaphor in ballet.
I have never held a sickle in real life. Certainly never used one.
I’m not sure I’ve ever even seen one in real life. Pictures, sure, in fairy tails and on flags, but a real one with my own eyes?
Maybe at one of those living history museums where you watch a lady in a bonnet churn butter and then later at Ye Olde Sweets you buy a stick of horehound candy? And it turns out to be kinda gross tasting?
I remember in my first ballet classes hearing, “careful to never sickle your feet” and thinking, “Sickle? Like similar to a scythe? How would my foot even make that shape? How do I even imagine that? Ok let’s work this out. Maybe my leg is the handle and my foot is the blade. Wait that doesn’t seem right. Maybe it’s like the sickle is on the floor and I’m standing right where the blade meets the wood, and my foot is curving out and back in like a half circle? This is so convoluted…”
I think eventually all of us ballet students stop hearing the word “sickle” at all and just start thinking about presenting the heel, leading with the heel, winging the foot, and the sickle becomes totally divorced from its original meaning as a hand-farming tool and we start using the word in ways that don’t exist in nature.
Autocorrect doesn’t even want to let me use them. These are only real words when used in ballet class. In the farming context you’d say Reaping, Reaped. As in The Grim Reaper who carriers a scythe. Or sometimes a sickle. Which could add a certain something to ballet class. “Oh girl, you are reaping a little on those landings, you gotta be more careful.”
Who among us 21rst century ballet students has ever used a sickle? Or even held one? So weird for this metaphor to be so prevalent.
Thinking about that made me try and remember what hand farming tools have I actually used, and then I got out my copy of The Foxfire Book*, which is a collection of folk-knowledge and stories collected in the Appalachians in the late sixties and early seventies and is an especially neat book because all this lore was collected not by researchers on an arts grant or something but by high school students. So you’ve got high school kids interviewing their grandparents and neighbors about things like, for example, building a spinning wheel to spin yarn.
Did you know the yarn doesn’t go around the big wheel? I thought it did but nope. That big wheel is just there to turn the little spindle that twists the yarn and pricks the finger of enchanted princesses.
Also: This Just In: spindles are not needle-sharp. Unless I’m wrong it would take some doing to draw blood with a spindle.
I wouldn’t know though, I’ve never used one.
I have used a maul and sledgehammer, and then an ax to split firewood though. My parents heat their house with a wood stove, and although it wasn’t one of my chores it was made clear to me from about age sixteen on that if I wanted, I was totally welcome to go out and split wood. Once or twice I actually did it too. When you’re a student, and you don’t have much to show for yourself, it can be very satisfying to point to a bunch of split wood all around your chopping block and say I Did That.
But then of course you have to stack it by the house and that actually was one of my chores and it was OMG SO BORING.
Sadly for me, Maul, Sledgehammer, and Axe pretty much never come up in ballet class. I would totally get those metaphors. Oh well.

*my copy is The Foxfire Book, hog dressing, log cabin building, mountain crafts and foods, planting by the signs, snake lore, hunting tales, faith healing, moonshining, and other affairs of plain living. Edited with an Introduction by Eliot Wigginton, copyright 1972 by Brooks Eliot Wigginton, Anchor Books, USA

Posted in Books!, Technique and Class, Word Nerd | Tagged , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Interview with Miss Jones Dance

The other day The Adult Beginner received an email from this girl in Australia with an Etsy store, making leotards to support her ballet studies, hoping I would consider sharing her work with my readers.
And I was like:
Ok, two things. Thing 1: sewing is the best, ballet is the best, sewing to fuel ballet sounds like my kinda girl and Thing 2: I’m impressed that she thought to ask. I mean, it usually doesn’t even occur to me to ask for help when I want to spread the word on something. I’m just like “lalalaa, put it out into the world, get on out there, Little Idea, you’re on your own now lalala”. Which doesn’t super-work. So I admire that instinct, especially in someone so young.
Also Thing 3: leotards are hard. Most people are afraid to sew them.
Also Thing 4: I haven’t tested these garments in real life, so I can’t make an endorsement, but the whole thing was intriguing, so I set up this little interview so I could ask a bunch of obnoxious sewing questions because that’s my area.
I’m in the italics, Sarah Jones of Miss Jones Dance is in the regular typeface.

Leotards present so many construction and design challenges. Please tell us about the first leotard you made, who it was for, and what you learned from it.
The first leotard I ever made was for myself, I actually listed it on Etsy, it has a turtleneck and a zip going up the front. I had been making wrap skirts for a while and just decided to take it a little further. I used some leotards that I already had for reference and just kind of improvised from there. It was a bit of an experiment but it actually turned out quite well, the only problem was that at first the zip was too short and I couldn’t actually get the leotard on!

What type of machines do you use and how do you seam your garments?
To sew my leotards I use a Singer Stylist sewing machine which I was given for Christmas. It has a special kind of stretch stitch which is straight and gets reinforced several times so the stitching doesn’t just snap when you put on the leotard. I don’t have a serger at the moment because they are very expensive, but I’m saving up to buy one hopefully in the near future.

How do you finish the legs?
To finish the legs of the leotard I use a kind of rubber elastic which you often find in swimwear. It’s really useful because it curves nicely to fit the shape of the leotard. All I have to do is fold the fabric over the elastic then finish it with a row of double stitches.

I see the leotards are described as front-lined. Is that a shelf bra or a flatline of the whole front piece?
The lining really depends on what the customer wants. If the leotard has a separate bodice and lower half I will usually just line the bodice without a shelf bra, but if the leotard is all one piece I put in a shelf bra. I can make any if the leotards with a shelf bra, bodice lining or a full front lining if that’s what the customer prefers.

Quick off the top of your head: name your favorite dancer, fashion designer, and leotard brand other than your own!
Sorry to be obvious but my favourite dancer would have to be Svetlana Zakharova, her lines are just stunning and she is so incredibly elegant. My favourite fashion designer is either Chanel or Pucci, they are both so colourful and effortlessly chic. I love the leotards made by Elevé, they are the only big brand I know that does patterns and they are custom as well!

Ok, Adult Beginner here in the regular typeface again.
Thanks Sarah!
Totally lol-ing over the leotard with the too short zipper that was impossible to get into. We’ve all been there right? Right???
Ok, now for some pictures!
The Adult Beginner has been window-shopping the hell out of this one below. Too bad it would never hide my sports bra. Lé sigh.


This one below could hide all manner of lady-underpinnings though. Look at that large-scale paisley go!


You may go here to see more designs and pictures: Miss Jones Dance, and thank you Miss Jones for granting the interview. Best wishes to you in dancing and in sewing.

Posted in Guest Post yo! And interviews, yo! | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments