Adult Ballet at Evolution Studios

Review By: Adult Beginner
Class Is Called: Adult Ballet
Where: Evolution Studios, North Hollywood
When: The schedule on the website seems to be kind of screwy and there/not there, so I’mma help: it’s Tuesday evenings 6:30pm and Saturday mornings 10:30am. For more information call the studio and maybe mention that their schedule is screwy. That’s what I did.
How It Is:
If your dream class involves personal corrections, this is your dream class. The teacher learned my name, and used it right away. Lots of corrections, delivered in an encouraging way.
This class is probably best for people in the mid-range, your IB’s through TI’s (key for class level Here)
TB’s (those are your absolute beginners) might have a hard time keeping up with the barre exercises, which move along really quickly with minimal explanation. New people are encouraged to follow, so I found it helped to know some vocabulary and be able to roughly recognize the things I was seeing. It’s not too complex, it’s just that it moves fast. And sweaty too, hoo boy fast and sweaty. Eschappé sequence and petite batterie, I’m looking at you.
TA’s on the other hand might be frustrated that the emphasis is more on a strong, complete, entire-body-working barre and less on show-off-ish center nonsense.
Size: small, five or so
Age Range: 30’s up
What To Wear: Pink tights happen here! But black tights remain, as always in LA, in the lead. The major look is leotard, black tights, shortie-shorts, ballet slippers. Everyone in this class wears ballet slippers.
Amenities: You guys, I am such a sucker for repurposed warehouses. Seriously. Just clear out a big space, drop in a bunch of studios rooms with sprung floors, polish the concrete in the hallways, leave the beams exposed and I’m so in love.
Such a sucker.
That’s what they’ve done here, and it’s beautiful, and it’s brand spanking new. They opened January 2015.
There are six studios, a kitchen, dressing rooms, separate bathrooms, small but free parking lot in back, some couches to check twitter on, wifi, vending machines. Sighhhhhh.
One negatory though: instead of regular wall barres they have these fancy new adjustable things. They are about the length that one student would need, and you have like four choices of height, which is nice, but one lady in class had hers slip out of adjustment and fold shut during barre stretch, plus I can’t help but wonder what happens when class is super full. Instead of everyone sliding closer along a long barre, you’d have some people sharing these clearly one-person spaces…just seems kinda over-engineered. My prediction: they’ll get regular barres once enough of these break or get stuck in some weird position or whatever.
Any Dudes? none that day
In Conclusion: Great, intense, friendly, sweaty, stretchy, jumpy, correction-y class. Get your slippers and go.

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Ballet at Hollywood Wilshire YMCA

Review by: Adult Beginner
Class is called: Ballet
Where: the Hollywood YMCA 
How it is:
The barre in this class really works articulation of the feet. One neat thing we did involved coming to a demi-pointe on the working foot and then doing a quick motion to come to full pointe in the air, and we were encouraged to make it a quick! sharp! tiny! controlled! flick! kind of motion and it was really specific and small and very difficult actually and kind of exciting, like I could really see the difference between the mush I was achieving and the sharp snap I can work toward.
This class has a very flowy feeling. People say that dance is in the space between the steps, and this is a really neat class for feeling like you are getting into that space: the barre, center, all of it is like a dance.
An absolute beginner or True Beginner would do fine following along in this class, more experienced people would get in some good refinement time.
Odd room though. Dim lighting and low ceilings. Pretty sure it was designed with yoga in mind. So don’t wear your t-shirt that says BIG JUMPS OR GTFO. No big jumps here.
Regarding the strange lighting situation, one fun bonus is that it’s possible to very casually, as if it’s not even on purpose, position yourself directly within your own personal spotlight. I mean, if you’re into that kind of thing.
Class Size: 5 or so
Age Range: 30’s up
Amenities: This is a YMCA, so all the regular YMCA stuff is here. Locker room, showers, gym, childcare, water fountains, pool. Parking sucks because Hollywood, but there are three parking lots right there that charge an extremely small fee with YMCA validation. I think it was like a dollar.
Also fun about this being Hollywood: all kinds of interesting conversations to listen in on while walking from your car. Like the one dude I overheard screaming into his phone, “I don’t want to hear about it! I just want you to buy it!” What was he yelling about? A sandwich? A script? An island? Everyone is wearing workout gear, at a glance you can’t tell the sandwich-screamers from the island-screamers. Hooray for Hollywood!
Any Dudes? none that day
What to wear: Work-out stuff. Sweats, leggings, tanks, sports bras. Socks or slippers. Didn’t see any pink tights although one lady had a really beautiful tulle skirt and the teacher wore a crushed velvet biketard with an intricate back that showed off a contrasting-color leotard underneath.
In conclusion: This class is about articulation and lyricism. The vibe is friendly, gentle, and welcoming.
As far as I can tell, this is the only YMCA in LA that offers ballet for adults, and it’s not just one class either— there are daytime, evening, and weekend adult ballet classes with two different teachers. So if you’re a YMCA member, get in there and take advantage of it.

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Clocks is always good for a title-sequence, in my mind

Two things about Dancing Through It by Jenifer Ringer:
Thing 1) it starts in the wrong place
Thing 2) it ends in the wrong place
Ok, regarding Thing 1)
The book starts at the beginning.
It shouldn’t though, it should start at the moment the internet exploded with Ringer’s name.
Instead of Jenny Ringer age 7, it should open in the morningtime kitchen of Jenifer Ringer: professional, on her game, top of her game even, easing into the day while her daughter and husband run back and forth laughing through the apartment. It should open with Ringer holding her phone, scanning reviews, scrolling down to find the words,

…one sugarplum too many…

And then cut to Title Sequence, driving piano-beat of Coldplay’s Clocks jumping you out of your chair then dropping you into flashback where we meet Jenny Ringer, age 7, and fill in the story that leads back to that moment and those words.
I mean, that’s how the movie version would go.
Or maybe instead of the review, the movie would start on the set of The Today Show with Jenifer being asked, live on television, if she feels that she is owed an apology from Alastair MaCaulay.
Boom! Title Sequence! Clocks piano!
I have no idea if there’s a movie in the works, or if they will get the rights to Clocks.
What I do know is that this was a hard book for me to get into, and that surprised and frustrated me. I mean, it’s the autobiography of a NYCB dancer. I love that stuff. Oooooh, let me count the ways: Once A Dancer…, A Winter Season, Dancing On My Grave, this is a super-compelling genre within the already interesting genre of Real People In Ballet.
I think part of my difficulty getting into the book was I’d never heard of Jenifer Ringer before all the outcry over that review,
(I’d never heard of Alastair MaCaulay either for that matter. I don’t read professional critiques of dance performances. Pro reviews are boring.)
So it jarred me when I began reading, expecting to approach the story from the perspective of discovering the woman behind the public outcry, but instead the book is written almost as if that quote and the erruption of fame/infamy that followed was just another chapter, (the 9th Chapter to be specific. 191 pages deep) not the impetus for the book. No, I don’t think One Sugarplum Too Many is the most important thing that has happened to Ringer, defintely not. but I do think it’s what set the book in motion.
Which brings me around to Thing 2).
I really really wish the book ended with Ringer and MaCaulay meeting up for a drink.
But it can’t end that way, because that never happened. Which is a shame because within that perfect storm of his flame-baity turn-of-phrase and her history of struggle and recovery, they brought ballet into national news.
Not just ballet either: disordered eating, mental health, gender issues, the responsibility of critic to artist, company to employee, so many things.
I mean, she was on Oprah FFS! What percentage of Oprah’s viewing audience had heard about the New York City Ballet before that day? Hopefully most but surely not all of them, right?
What percentage of Oprah’s viewers started on a path to getting help that day? For an eating disorder or an obsessive behavior or any particular thing?
Some? Probably?
They reached the world that day, togther, in a way.
In case you missed the Today’s Show episode, by the way, her answer was no. No apology owed. Because that lady is top shelf. Which is why I love the idea of the two of them getting together and just saying wow, that was terrible for both of us, cheers friend, let’s never ever do that again.

Book is Dancing Through It, my journey in the ballet, by Jenifer Ringer-Fayette, copyright 2014, published by Viking Penguin Group 

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Moar questionable ballet trends

While we are talking about questionable trends in ballet class,
What do you think about socks?
I’ve been noticing this lately:
Socks, either dark colored and pulled up to the knee, or short and scrunched up under the arch leaving the heel free.
No slippers.
And this is not on the new people who haven’t bought real ballet slippers yet. This is on the best dancers in class. Sometimes even the teacher.
Men, women, whoever.
And it’s definitely not socks over top of pointes to warm the shoes up, either. This is just socks.
Kind of a you-can’t-define-me-with-your-rules/shoes look.
I accidentally went for this look this one time when I forgot my bag. I’ve only forgotten my dance bag once. Ever. Usually I hold onto that thing like it’s a security blanket. Luckily it was winter and I was fully dressed and layered, including socks, which I wore in the scrunched-down method because I was pretty sure I was going to slip and fall and die, but at least this time I’d have an excuse.
I didn’t fall.
But next class I made damned sure I had my bag with several choices of ballet slippers inside.
Also: the socks got really really dirty.
Gentle Reader? Are the edgy Best Girls in your classes wearing socks, or is this just a too-casual-for-school SoCal thing?

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Under/Over: the great Tights talk

A long long time ago the Adult Beginner wrote this post about people wearing pink tights over their leotards.
Almost five years later, as an older and hotter and wiser Adult Beginner, I have heard tell that lots of people wear their pink tights over, and there are some good reasons (smoothing the leotard line) and some silly reasons (all the cool kids are doing it).
I’m still Team Pink Tights Under. It’s the gusset. You know.
Black tights over is not an issue IMO because the gusset is less horrifyingly visible.
Where do you stand on tights, Gentle Reader? Are you Over or Under?
Has there been a major trend shift toward Tights Over while I wasn’t looking?
How does one style the Pink Tights Over to avoid looking bare-bottomed, anyway?
I’m all curious and no judge on this one, you guys, if you are Team Tights Over we are still totally friends, I just want to understand!!!
Let’s get to the bottom of Pink Tights, together!

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A real outfit on a real person in a real ballet class

What I like here is the contrast of wrists covered up by long slouchy sleeves —modest almost— with visible leotard bottom.
Don’t see much VLB in Los Angeles. I like it though. It’s cheeky.

(Ok the shirt wasn’t really that sheer in real life. Artistic license.)

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Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name, and then there’s other times.

Went to ballet at Millennium Dance Complex the other day. It was my first class after about a month off, and I went to Millennium because I needed a ballet class that is the exact opposite of Cheers.
Know what I mean?
Sometimes I want to go where Nobody knows my name, and they couldn’t give less of a damn if I came. So far the only place I’ve found that’s crowded enough to give me that level of anonymity is Millennium.
Still got a couple corrections though, because that Kana is totally looking out for everybody in the room, not just the good ones or the regular ones. I pretty much heart her.
Anyway, when I’m in a new class and especially when it’s above my level AB review of Millennium here, I pick someone to follow.
My criteria for choosing someone to follow is 1) they appear to know what the hell they are doing.
Most ballet classes in LA are small, which means it’s obvious who I’m going to follow because it’ll be the one person who knows what the hell she or he is doing.
Like I said though, Millennium classes are crowded, and mostly everyone knows what the hell they are doing, but this time I noticed something interesting:
Knowing the barre exercises, the correct order and all that, and doing things correctly, doesn’t necessarily make you easy to follow.
I noticed this because on the first side of each barre exercise I had a choice of several girls to follow. There was Beautiful Feet, Serious Face, and Socks. All three of them were impossible to follow. Very beautiful movements, extension, precision, doing things correctly and on the music, but somehow, I don’t know, they were just no help.
I know I know, they’re not there to help. I should be listening and remembering and marking and not relying on others. I know. And I was listening and marking! But, you know, I just wanted a little guidance ok?
But on the other side of each exercise, there was this guy with one pant leg rolled up, let’s just call him LLCoolJ, and he was an excellent leader. Everything he did was broadcast in a way that made it clear what we were doing next.
I don’t know what it was. I don’t think he was making larger gestures, I don’t think he was going slower or lower or higher or really anything different, he was just a better broadcaster is all I can think to describe it.
Have you encountered this? It blew my mind a little, like whoa, it’s not just a matter of not screwing up.
I took a tribal belly dance class a couple times a while back, and in tribal they do a lot of unspoken leading and following, but they teach the leaders to give certain signals, like clear preparations and sometimes even eye contact and a wink or something to say, “Hey Ladies! Shimmy left, now!”
This dude was definitely not winking or anything though. Hmm.
Anyway. I only stayed for barre. Good ease back into ballet, and next class was back to Cheers.

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