One of my ballet teachers commented that after a break it’s easier to re-learn proper technique and new ways of doing things because the body has “forgotten” the bad habits and it’s like a blank canvas. I agree with her; returning after a long hiatus is not necessarily just a “bad” thing and challenging but also an opportunity.
I’ve really enjoyed my classes, morning class on Monday and some classes on Wednesday, evening class on Tuesday. One thing that I don’t like is clashing schedules: I’d have a lower level class on Tuesday with a good and nice teacher, but in another school there’s a higher level class with another teacher, a former principal dancer with Royal Danish Ballet at the same time. I hate this kind of choices but eventually I had to make up my mind and I chose M-P because it’s not very often you will have this kind of teacher. And she’s teaching French style which is very different from Vaganova and it really challenges me and my body – it’s amazing how hard it is to be (or: trying to be) lyrical and artistic when one is used to simple, clean lines! I truly regret for not being able to take regularly this other teacher’s class but I hope I can take it still sometimes if and when I can’t make it to the other class (it’s a bit earlier).
My notes so far has been that physically I’m not in such bad shape that I was afraid of, but I definitely lack strength in “ballet muscles”. Also my flexibility is gone, although I have to add as a disclaimer that I’m not the rubber band type at all so I don’t know if my flexibility ever was very good… ;) On the other hand I seem to remember a lot and I’ve had already moments when I felt like truly dancing which is weird because I rarely had them earlier. But I’m happy about those moments because I feel that I may have “got” something, understood something important.
Sometimes I’ve really got the combinations (surprisingly) fast and I suddenly remember them and again, I’ve had classes when I’ve experienced mental blackouts one after another. It’s amusing how it is even possible that e.g. on Monday I may remember the whole center adagio and “perform” it quite ok but on Wednesday I’m totally lost and I go all the time to a wrong direction and turn around like a spinning top. :D Oh well, live and learn.
I’ve tried to take a new approach to classes: I don’t have any expectations (or try not to have any) but I’ll try to take each and every class as they are and come. I may be doing well or bad but it’s “just” a class. I try to rehearse being present and learn that a bad class is just a bad class and the next one may be better. Or not, but it doesn’t matter. The main thing is that I go with an open and alert mind and try to do my best & learn what I can. There are so many things to be remembered so I should aim for doing the basic work properly all the time and only then add “extra”. Clean feet and legs are more important than height, proper body position, aligning, placement and carrying the arm maybe just in the second position are more important than trying to wave one’s arm here and there and losing the whole “package”. Of course I try to do everything what is asked but sometimes I’ve “improvised” and kept it simpler if I’ve felt that otherwise I ruin the whole exercise. And so far all the teachers have been fine with that because my guess is that they’ve realized that I’m not being rude but merely trying to stick to the basics.
I’ve also noticed that after I’ve been walking in my Nike Free+ shoes almost the whole summer, I’ve probably strengthened the small muscles in my feet which I had some problems before. The usual cramping has been absent, also my bunions have been ok. *knocks on wood* It’s interesting to see what happens after I slowly start pointe work again, which should be in a week.
Besides ballet I try to go to gym at least once a week, preferably twice to gain muscle strength and balance the body. I also surprised myself and participated in my very first running event: Midnight Run Helsinki (10k)! The time wasn’t anything special, and I ran in the slowest slot, but after my heart-related problems and not running that much during the summer I was just happy participating. :) I also started to think about maybe running a 1/2 marathon at some point but at least for now I try to take it easy (maybe for the first time ever :D) and increase the amount of exercise gradually to avoid overstraining.
EDIT: I found a good set of stretches for runners – text is in Finnish but photos can be understood in any language. ;)