Part of my new dance cross-training is to do some ballet. Rather than wait for 2011 to roll in, I’ve decided to start changing or adding patterns, behaviors, whatever whenever I see fit and can afford to do so.

Monday I attend beginner ballet at an adult-only studio. I hadn’t been there in about year, due to time. It is amazing how much my body has changed in a year. Most notably is the muscle memory I’ve acquired from Bharatanatyam. If you are not familiar with Bharatanatyam, one of the basic postures is called aramundi. It is where the heels touch and the toes and knees are bent and turned out from hip rotation. The ballet first postion foot position is identical to aramundi, as well as the turn out. The only difference is that in first position in ballet, you stand up.

All last night, I ended every exercise in the deep bent aramundi, vs. the straight-legged first position. I didn’t realize why until I was thinking about it later that this is an artifact from Bharatanatyam; you are expected to end every adavu or short combination in aramundi. Students are scolded for leaving the posture at the end. I didn’t realize how much muscle memory I’ve obtained with Bharatanatyam already. I’m curious how cross-training will change my dance skills in Bharatanatyam now. While I cannot afford, time-wise, to dedicate myself to ballet the way I have with Bharatanatyam and Middle Eastern dance, I do want to gain some proficiency. However, I don’t want to lose my Bhartanatyam skills, even though the adavus are really about training your body and mind to perform complex pieces, so the dancer may leave the aramundi position for something straighter-legged.

What are other people’s experiences in cross-training?

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I began this week with extremely sore muscles from Bharatanatyam on Sunday. Basically, we did some floorwork-esque dancing. My quads- well, I could feel my muscles working every step of the way; straightening my leg was difficult. Today is the first day my quads feel normal. That made everything take at least twice as long. I also attended dance class Tuesday and found out that was tougher than I had anticipated because of my quads. However, I don’t believe that attending class exacerbated or prolonged my achy quads.

The second big time consumer this week was that someone tried breaking into my apartment. Nothing was stolen and no one was injured, thank goodness (my SO caught the guy trying to come into the window), but it is still nerve-wracking. The police were called, they came out to investigate, etc. Although I am thankful that the local police were very concerned and did a fine job, it did take time. My landlord is supposed to stop by this weekend to ensure secure windows. This set back my week, because I had work that I needed to cram in today and tomorrow.

Hopefully, due to the holiday, next week will go back to normal.

I didn’t realize how much wear my body had from the practices and performance until my Bharatanatyam class. My legs were giving out halfway through, which was shocking. Bharatanatyam is intense, but I haven’t felt like that since my first Bharatanatyam class.

While I need to practice for Bharatanatyam and want to work on my own projects, I now know I need to take it easy. Which is fine by me; I was looking for an excuse to start working on my website now. With all the other things going on in my life, that project has gone by the way side.

There hasn’t been much to write about on my end, because I’ve been either at a dance class or working on personal things (to be discussed later). The rehearsal schedule has been ramped up, due to the performance being less than 2 weeks away. I’m surprised how taxing dance classes/rehearsal have been on my body, though. I consider myself to be in good shape. Maybe not triathlon shape but good shape that I didn’t think 2 hours or so a day of dance class, 5-6 days a week would be so tiring. I’ve woken up a few mornings feeling achy. Anything from my hips to my neck/back. The rehearsals are intensive, not only because of the choreography but also because of the heat/humidity. Most of the places we rehearse lack good air conditioning. Boston has been abnormally hot and humid (at least from what I remember/have been told). We start off class, without even moving, warm and a bit sweaty. By the end, most people are quite sweaty and unfortunately, the weather provides no relief.

In short, if you don’t see me around, it’s because of being busy.

With the show fast approaching, I need to obtain a bra and belt set. It turns out that I cannot borrow one and for me to make one- well, there isn’t enough time. There isn’t enough time to comission someone else to do it, either; my plan was originally to get a nice costume for this local designer named Shadia. Shadia’s work is gorgeous, I hear she’s very reasonable with cost, and she’s local, so that means I can get things fitted to me by her. Even with sending your measurements to the costume designers abroad, people still end up having to adjust. I figure that I’d rather have something fit me right away.

But I digress. I’m learning why I have never bought a bra and belt set of any flavor. They’re kind of pricey. That isn’t to say that they aren’t worth it, but a few hundred dollars is a lot, even if it’s great quality and will last. The ones that are cheaper may fall apart significantly faster, and most of them honestly are not my style. There’s also the issue of fit. I’m short, and on the smaller side; a lot of costumes are not surprisingly made for people of average proportions.

I’ve posted on Bhuz just now, in hopes someone has an amazing bra and belt set that I can purchase. On one hand, spending that much scares me. I try to be cautious with my money. On the other hand, a good bra and belt set should carry me for quite awhile. I’ve remained more or less the same size for the past few years, and I’m always impressed with how different accessories and skirts can change the look of the bra and belt. Even though finding a good set is a current struggle, I’m excited to own my first real costume.

Barefoot has been my pick for dancing since I began. I like the feeling of the ground beneath my feet while I dance.

However, the many turns/spins in the choreographies I’ve been learning have been rough on my feet. While I’ve experienced no pain, I have come home to discover the skin is ripped off or sagging  off the ball of my feet from the spins. I figure that it isn’t good, even if there is no pain. I’ve bit the bullet and decided to wear ballet slippers. I considered other options, like FootUndeez, but I figure that I’d rather have my entire foot protected.

I’ve been slowly adjusting to wearing shoes. I don’t love it, but the well-being of my foot is the more important than the minor weirdness of wearing ballet slippers. Spins are easier, which is nice but will be an adjustment.

The shoes are likely not to be a permanent fixture in my life (I don’t wear them for my other Middle Eastern dance class and I can’t wear them for Bharatanatyam), but they’ll probably make their appearance every now and then.

By sort of, I mean I’m going to try to maintain a constant practice. Keeping myself motivated to practice that much daily was difficult. I skirted it a few times (practicing mudras instead of really dancing), but I think I overall did a good job of maintaining a practice.

I discovered that I can’t be terribly structured with my practice, like plan it out weeks in advance. I do best when I make decisions that day.

My body is physically stronger and a bit more flexible. I feel less stress after practicing, despite having to find a summer job, and I have managed to stave off some illnesses with exercise. All good things.

What would be most helpful in maintaining my practice would be having something to work towards, like a performance. While I don’t believe performance is the end all, be all purpose for dancing, I realize I was practicing diligently before the Halfi for Haiti or that I practice the choreography for Bharatanatyam because there will be a performance.

Dedicating myself to dance definitely helped improve my dance and gain further insight into where I am and what I need to work on.