It does not feel like I’ve been here for only two and a half weeks! But I mean that in a good way – not in the sense that I’m bored or don’t like it here and time is dragging by…because that is most certainly not the case! Rather, I mean in the sense that I don’t feel new here; I feel like I belong and like I’ve been living here since forever. It’s a good feeling!
I think it goes without saying that much has happened since my last post! On my first day of class – which was actually a Tuesday because on Monday I was allowed to watch, as I mentioned in my previous post – I was greeted first and foremost with the steepest slope I’ve ever danced on! Ok, in all fairness, that was actually the only slope I had ever danced on. In Perm, much to my surprise, the floors were not raked; not in the school, not in the school theater, and not in the big theater. Here, however, the floors are definitely raked🙂 I knew that ahead of time, but I had so many other things to think about that I forgot about it and only when I entered the studio I remembered: “Oh, yeah…!” I was the teeniest bit apprehensive since I had never danced on such a floor, especially for turns on pointe. As it turns out, I really like the floors here! Turning on pointe is fine, somehow; actually, if anything, I feel more stable in my turns here. My jumps are better which I am so happy about because I’ve always been a good jumper, but I had lost some of my jumping ability lately because I wasn’t doing as much. Even on my first day, when my body felt so out of shape [and let me tell you, that is an understatement if there ever was one], my jumps felt fairly alright – and they’ve been getting better day after day since then! My teacher told me once that it’s very fun to jump on that floor going downstage; she was right! But, as a matter of fact, my jumps aren’t just better because the floor is sloped downwards. Nope! Even when we’re jumping in place or side to side – and therefore on the same level of height on the floor – I’m jumping higher and more…”naturally”, I want to say. So, I’m very happy!
Remember how I said my body felt so out of shape? I didn’t do enough during the two weeks of holiday break, so that is mostly to blame; it was emphasized, I’ve no doubt, by the 30 hours of travel and the 12 hour time difference and all the other goodies that fall into the category of adjustment. Anyway, being out of shape, that was the catch. During my first class, I was enjoying myself so much during jumps that I didn’t think twice about the fact that I was not at full strength and that I would need to hold back a bit in order to ease into the full workload. Instead, I jumped right in [pun most definitely intended]! The result? Half-way through jumps, in the middle of an assamble back, I felt my back catch and do something weird and immediately I knew I had done it again. I mean, what else is new, right? It’s a pattern I’ve repeated too many times to want to count: I have a break from ballet; I don’t end up doing enough on my own to stay in shape despite the most sincere intentions of coming back with a 160-degree arabesque and 32 fouettes I start getting restless after a few days without class and antsy after a week, until my eagerness to go back to class is about as strong as a blood-thirsty vampire starved for days; finally the day arrives to go back to class and I’m so impatient from going too long [read: 2 days or longer] without class that my body goes ahead of my brain and I end up injuring myself. Ta-da! Lesson learned? Finally…? I hope so! Or, better yet, I hope I just know better than to take long breaks now (but it is unbelievably difficult to find classes during holidays…I know, I know, do class by myself…I’m working on that one).
Anyway, it turned out to be no big deal – a huge relief, since I’ve been battling my back on and off for the last year and a half or so. The amazing thing to me was that I had back pain for months on end between June and November 2013 that I was treating with frequent physical therapy including not only exercises they had me do but also lots of manual work that they did on me (massage, e-stim, dry needling, ultrasound, manipulation/mobilization techniques, I even went as far as to do internal PT/muscle release, and finally – what gave me the most relief – iontophoresis, a patch that uses electrical currents to pass steroids through my skin to the affected area). It took so long for it to get better, although it did eventually get better. But it was bad for so long, some days bad enough that it hurt to get out of bed. It really sucked. Back to the point I want to make, though – in Perm, Fall 2012, I also had some back issues at some point during my time there. Several days of going to our school’s doctor for massage, heat therapy, and 20 minute of laying on spikes (serious), my back was better than ever. Just for the fun of it, I’ll throw in a mention of my ankle which also hurt there but was completely pain-free within a few days of treatment (2 or 3 days not dancing, wearing a compression bandage, and a special cream…and massage therapy…)! All of this to say that, guess what? My back is completely pain free right now. I don’t know what kind of magic is in the school doctors’ hands here and in Perm or in the air in Russia, maybe. All I can say is that I went to our doctor for three days in a row for massage and a special cream and it got better and better until it was finally gone altogether. AWESOME! But maddening at the same time, seeing as how much of a struggle I had with the same injury while in America.
Back problems aside, now that they’re nonexistent…
Everything for me here has been just super!
Some bullet points:
- Our school has its competition in February/March, and I was told to prepare a variation for it; initially I showed Medora’s first act variation from Le Corsaire, but I’m considering switching to a different one; maybe the peasant pas variation from Giselle or one of the two variations from the scene in Swan Lake that the girls do (not swans).
- I’m trying hard to learn (…and, I guess, first of all choose) some scenes for acting that I will perform in the exam at the end of the year. I can’t say how it’s going yet as I’ve yet to actually decide on some for sure, and I haven’t really started practicing. It should be interesting, at the very least, because I’ve only ever learned variations, never acting scenes from ballets. However I think it will be much more than interesting, I think I will love it, and I am really looking forward to really getting to work on it!
- Duet. Duet, duet, duet. It’s difficult! My experience is limited to two summers several years ago, so basically none😉 I do like it, actually, very much so. I just have a lot of catching up to do with it and I think the fact that my confidence in duet is not high enough is probably hindering my ability to actually do as well as I could be doing! I’ve only had a few classes so far, so at the same time I shouldn’t get ahead of myself by evaluating myself in that class so early, with so little practice! My biggest issue at the moment is that for some reason, while I have no problem remembering combinations during classical, I have been going mad trying to remember each combination he gives us during duet! Why is it harder? I don’t know. I don’t think it’s because I’m psyching myself out, because it’s not that I feel particularly nervous. Maybe it’s because it’s not just me, myself, and I dancing, but also someone else with me. Maybe because I’m trying to figure out where to put my hands and how to hold them at the same time. Maybe because if I come off pointe during a turn it affects my partner too and not just me – like I have me and him to worry about, and not just me. Well, really, I don’t know why! I guess the most reasonable explanation is that it’s just almost entirely new to me. Even though, is it really, since it’s part of ballet, which is he farthest thing from new to me? Anyway. My second biggest problem is that during pirouettes I sometimes can’t finish the turn. I discovered that when I just go up to a pirouette but barely turn, like enough force for a single or maybe a double, it goes much better, because all I have to do is spot, keep my position strong, and balance (and even then he’s supporting me), and he just keeps on turning me. I’m going to try to remember that this week. Remember not to jump up on pointe (which I accidentally found myself doing a few times and it ruined it), remember that I don’t need a lot of force, and remember to remember the combination😛
I’ve written way too much already, so I’ll stop here for now. I think if I blog more frequently, then I can make my posts shorter, which is better for you and better for me🙂 When I blog in more infrequent intervals and a ton of stuff happens, I want to share it all! And most of the time it doesn’t all fit. So, I’ll try. Now that my internet is working properly (don’t even get me started…that was a different adventure altogether), it should at least be possible to post more!