Ten questions…

Lovely Johanna of Pointe Til You Drop asked ten questions about ballet, I thought about ten answers…

1. What is your favourite time for ballet class?

I always take class in the evening as I work 9-5 weekdays so it’s a dash from the office to class. I think though, given my level of excess energy after class, that I could probably really do with taking class at about 7am and then trying to harness that energy to power me through a day in the office! Maybe I’d drink far fewer caffeinated beverages then…

2. How many classes do you take on a weekly basis?

I take class every evening after work (four regular and one pointe) and floor barre once a week after class (aka All Those Muscles You Didn’t Work Properly In Ballet Are Coming Back To Haunt You). Class is anywhere from one hour to pushing 2.5 hours – depending on how involved the teacher gets!

3. What do you eat before class?

Dependent on how much cake I’ve been eating at work… Usually it’s a bowl of cereal (granola or muesli or whatever’s on offer at the supermarket) and a banana. Sometimes it’s just the banana if there’s been a lot of cake! My diet is actually appalling.

4. What’s inside your ballet bag?

Everything AND the kitchen sink, or at least that’s what it feels like! I have bags within bags… Two pairs of ballet flats, one shawl, one wash bag (anti blister stuff, foot spray, deodorant, tin of hair grips, lip balm, hairbrush, mirror, toe tape, knee support, ankle supports, other stuff), tin of hair stuff (hair pins, hair bobbles, hair slides, hair nets), tin of ‘first aid’ stuff (plasters, blister plasters, scissors), usually a random head scarf hanging around, laundry bag, bag of spare kit (leo, shorts, tights), bag of kit (leo, tights, skirt/shorts, top made from old tights, jumper/cardigan/t-shirt, warm up trousers), slippers, change of clothes from work stuff (usually joggers and a t-shirt) and on pointe days my pointe shoe bag (shoes, toe pads, other stuff for being nice to my toes). I am that useful person who is prepared for most eventualities… and the one everyone turns to when they’ve forgotten their tights/shoes/hair pins/whatever…

5. How do you prepare for class?

I tend to get changed at work and stick my leo and tights on under a pair of joggers and a t-shirt then make a dash to class. I finish getting changed when I get to class, do battle with my hair to try and make it something like vaguely presentable then go and ‘warm up’. I use the term lightly: some days I run in ever decreasing circles around the studio, others I just lie on the floor and grab a ten minute power nap and sometimes I just sit around and have a chat.

6. What’s your favourite part of class?

All of it? I have more confidence at the barre but I really love jumping (even though my body doesn’t love it quite so much). I’ve definitely developed a lot more love for adage over the years, when it goes right there’s nothing like it at all. I also really like getting something that’s challenging right, there’s such a sense of satisfaction that goes with it.

7. What’s your biggest challenge in class?

Not looking down (even when my head’s up my eyes usually aren’t) and not dancing “apologetically” (I am forever being reminded to “dance big”) are my main challenges. Other things like being able to co-ordinate my arms and legs, remember which direction I’m facing/moving in and then littler things like certain steps: waltz turns, frappés, some jumps… and all the usual things about keeping my spine (as straight as it will go), not sitting in (or out!) of my hips, maintaining turn out, not rolling my feet, keeping my shoulders down… the list goes on.

8. What is your level?

I mostly take classes that are labelled intermediate but I don’t always feel very intermediate. On a good day I’d describe myself as “competent beginner”, on a really good day I’d probably feel that I’d scraped into intermediate by the skin of my teeth. Improving, I guess is probably the term I’m looking for.

9. Describe a “moment” you had in class.

It was a few months back and I can’t remember if it was an adage or an allegro… but it was definitely something in the centre and by some kind of miracle, I’d managed to get it all right including orientation, steps, epaulment, the lot. My completely adorable teacher came up to me when we finished the exercise, shook my hand, patted my shoulder and thanked me for getting it right (he is so completely adorable it’s not true). I guess it’s the little “moments” that make it, the yeses and the goods, the being pushed to the front in centre as a competent person to follow (although I can usually guarantee this results in me forgetting everything), and the “moments” that don’t get seen or acknowledged but you know it’s gone right.

10. What is it that you love about taking ballet class?

I love the fact that no matter how terrible my day has been up until I get to class, I can guarantee that I always leave feeling about a million percent better than when I arrived. I love being able to completely empty my mind for a couple of hours and forget all about reality. I love spending time with like minded people who understand the need to dance. I love the fact that both places I dance are so incredibly supportive of their adult dancers and encourage us to push ourselves to be the best that we can be and that they both care about me as an individual. I love the feeling of accomplishment after a good class and I love the fact that ballet is never static. One of my work colleagues commented that for me, going to class is like them going home and watching TV for the evening – essentially the studio is my living room. I like the analogy.

And I love shopping for dancewear. What’s not to love about a new leo?!

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March, by numbers

The problem with using everything via apps on my phone is that when I try to log into anything properly, I forget my password and get locked out… Sorry, poor neglected blog – especially when April is whizzing by and I haven’t got round to rounding up March yet! So without further ado:

Books 22 (vg)
Books that made me cry in public 2 (the book thief caused ugly uncontrolled sobbing on the train and one moment, one Morning caused all kinds of unanticipated emotions)
Ballet classes 21 (vg)
Pairs of pointe shoes killed dead 1 (grishko proflex)
New pairs of pointe shoes to formed my toes with 1 (Bloch sonata)
Pairs of new flats holey and beyond dead 1 (Bloch pro elastic)
Pairs of new flats still in their packaging 1
Ballets seen 4 (good)
Ballet companies seen 2 (ballet black and Birmingham Royal ballet)
Pieces I cried at during ballet black’s triple bill (excellent, also apparently anticipated… Heh)
Times I left London 2 (good: the Shire and Manchester)
Cuddles with my new Baby Nephew 3 (also featuring a LOT of pacing)
Visits from the Bestest 1 (\o/)
Miles walked during said visit innumerable
Knitting projects completed 2 (a colour work hat for Mutti and a shawl for me, must knit more)
Knitting WIPs 1 (second hat for Mutti which is being quite disastrous)
Viewings of the Dancing on Ice tour 1
Emotions had over watching Torvill and Dean perform Bolero from the front row ALL OF THE EMOTIONS

Well, there you go…

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Something’s wrong

There is something wrong with the pair of the flats on the left. To quote Rolf Harris, can you tell what it is yet? ;)

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Panic first, think second…

…and cast on six times (each time with increasing frustration) then realise that the chart you’re following is so ludicrously, deceptively simple you don’t know what the problem was to begin with.

Now if only I could feel that way about pirouettes.

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The ones that got away…

In my long and illustrious* pointe career, there has been one particular make of shoe that has, despite general agreement that they’d be ace for my feet, consistently got away: the Bloch Sonata. I’ve never been able to be fitted with the right length/width combination until now. I admit I’m a little apprehensive in case they don’t live up to the hype but hopefully we’ll wind up the firm friends that we’ve promised to be on more than one occasion in the shop…

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Let’s just not talk about the giant holes in the toes of my soft shoes which haven’t been replaced because I accidentally spent that money on a new Designed by Alice skirt instead. Shhhhhh.

*lol, irony

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February, by numbers

Books read: 17 (vg)
Books bought: probably more than 17, ffoqs given: precisely zero
Ballet classes taken: 15 (excellent given I was on holiday for a week)
Times I skived barre stretch during class: 1 (excellent, and it was only because my spine was completely unhappy everywhere)
Pairs of pointe shoes killed: 1, must replace
Ballets seen: 4 (Giselle with Laura Morera in the lead, oh my ~feeeeeeeeeeeels and a triple bill)
Ballet companies seen: 1 (Royal Ballet)
Knitting projects completed: 2 (an iPod cover and a phone case)
Knitting projects cast on and in progress: 2 (a shawl for me and a hat for my mother)
Metres of alpaca silk I bought because my feelings were so strong I almost licked it: 800
Times I cut my own hair off before a job interview: 1
Times I accidentally got a new job in spite of hair cut: 1
Times I made cake for work: 2
Times left london: 3 (vg: Derbyshire, Orkney and Hampshire)
Days spent getting to Orkney: 3
Cameras left behind on Orkney: 1
Nephews acquired: 1

Today it is March which I don’t quite understand. BUT that means tonight I get to go and see Ballet Black! In the LINBURY! Bring on the capslock and the ~feeeeeeeeeeeeeels

Anyway, have a picture o the sea on Orkney:

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And in this crazy life…

I feel a little like life has been happening at about a million miles an hour for the last couple of weeks. You know when everything seems to happen at once? Yes, that.

All good, I hasten to add.

I got a new job. Well, not new new, I’d been acting up in the role for the last six months but now it’s all permanent and official and suddenly I’m in charge and have responsibilities and Stuff. It’s a bit daunting and overwhelming, but also a bit exciting.

Then I spent three days getting to Orkney because we were thwarted by the weather and a sleeper train that never left London meaning we missed out flight. But after two trains, a bus, a ferry, an overnight in Edinburgh and an afternoon in Aberdeen we finally got there! It’s somewhere I’ve wanted to go since I was 16 and I think I inadvertently left a whole piece of my soul behind, which definitely means I have to go back, right?

And on top of all that I got a new nephew. He is terribly cute and adorable (and looks exactly like my Big Nephew did as a brand new born) and it pains me that I’ve got to wait another three weeks to go home and see him. He’s going to be practically grown up by then!

Anyway, I’ve bought myself a yarn bowl and it is quite nice and calming in this midst of this crazy whirl…

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