I got off on the wrong foot today. Which, as far as sayings go, probably not the best one for a dancer. On Sunday one of my lower molar teeth chipped, just like that, leaving a sharp edge to rub against my tongue. I have a dentist´s appointment tomorrow, but eating and talking has been no fun at all. Even eating chocolate hurts. Then I decided to color my hair, freaked out by the appearance of two silver strands - hello Grey Swan! - but the shade came out darker than I intended. More goth than glam. I gave my hair another wash this morning, to get rid of the excess color but only got squeaky-clean fly-away hair that won´t bun. It took me three orange-sized applications of thickening mousse, half a can of hairspray and 7 attempts before I got the slippery strands into a half decent bun, just short of a nervous hair-breakdown.
Made me seriously reconsider cutting my hair off! But, if I cut it short enough for a not-in-your-face-when-turning-ponytail.. Then I can´t wear a proper bun when I want to! And it´s not like I have a stylist with hair-pieces at my service. Also I´ve only recently grown out my bangs, which do make me look younger, but are really a nuisance. If you don´t want to pin your fringe, it hops whenever you hop. Which is great if you want to dance with a prop! And if bobby-pin you do, you can´t remove them after class, unless you´re willing to go public with the dorkiest hair possible! For now, I´m sticking with my bunhead, goth color and all! Interestingly, a new article just came out, "Bob or Bun - A Ballerinas´s Tough Choice", about dancers´ many hair issues like thinning hair-lines (yikes), cookie-cutter images and making up your own head. Read it at New York Times.
I could finish here, make it a short post about bad hair days and bunheads. But there is ballet stuff too, waiting to clear my brain! So, after late trains, a chipped tooth and sore tongue and goth hair that won´t bun (hey, it rimes), I finally rushed out of the office, ran to the train, which amazingly was on time - and relaxed. The closer I got to our school, the more my ballet self took over. Work stuff faded into the background, worries dissipated and I started to think in terms of dance. What variations we did last time, the corrections I received and whether my pirouettes would be back this week (they were not, but what the heck). I had only 10 minutes to change and warm-up, but I was good and ready when we started.
I loved the challenging class Gabriella gave us! Even the stuff I always mess up first, like flic-flacs at the barre. And sure enough, my teacher made me do them again. I get the theory, and can do them slo-mo, but if you throw flic-flacs into a fast frappé exercise: help! But on the repeat, I got them right. Yay. We also did entrechat quatres and cinq combinations, big jumps like cabrioles in all directions, pirouettes in seconde, and pirouettes from developpé in seconde.
In center we did a beautiful adagio, which required actual interpreting and delicate emoting! It was a temps lie movement at the end; step forward, tentative arm reaching out (to your love), step back, arm sweeping behind body, gaze turned away, all shy and timid (or coy), then step forward again, reaching out once more, longingly, brazenly.. And that final gesture, where I retract my hand, so that it is held somewhere between chin and chest.. Today I not just a nutty bunhead, but for a fleeting moment I was Giselle and Anna Karenina and Manon..
And I could finish here, because that last line left me all dreamy and dramatic, but there is more! For one, the sudden and kinda weird onset of more flexibility, which really deserves a blog post of its own. Can I just say this: I have never, ever been closer to six o´clock!
Then there is the story of my pet-peeve: the new lady who literally squeezed in front of my barre spot, after we had done four exercises already. Apparently the girls in her previous spot were also more or less new (and not advanced enough) and she could not copy from them. So she thought it a good idea to jump in front of me (and my mirror), just as the music started. Our teacher had to stop and start again, and I told lady to stand at least behind me. But as my mental state for the day had been a bit fragile, I totally messed up the entire exercise. I hate it when stupid stuff like that gets to me! Anyway, I really don´t know what she was doing in advanced class, as she had to copy every single movement. And poorly, might I add. After the first mess, whenever she was in front of me, I had to mentally block her out, otherwise I would have screwed up my entire barre. You can tell that it bugs me still, and I really should not get overly annoyed at this late hour. Maybe there is a balletiquette post in the future? Anyone want to share any pet peeves on that subject?
There is more still - it really was such a terrific class, but I have to go to bed now. Tomorrow there is no dance, but early morning dental repair. Yay. Wednesday and Thursday I have two advanced technique classes and one basic level on pointe (or two). On Friday we celebrate Midsummer´s Night in Finland, one of the most loved and legendary festivities of the year. I leave you with one last note:
With all its ups and downs, dance is still the shortest route to happiness.
Photo above post: Gene Schiavone. Dancer: Elizabeth Farina.