Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Rest

Our Christmas show is over, and as always it's a little bittersweet. I have such fun making new friends in the cast each year, and bonding over choreography troubles.

Blurry stage light picture. Those suckers get HOT!
I do have some happy news on the injury front--I was finally able to see a PT with a background in dance medicine, and met her the week before the show. She showed me how to properly KT tape my leg, and gave me other exercises to add to my repertoire. I was also given instructions on how to ease back into full classes properly (floor barre, then regular barre, then barre AND center, then pointe, then finally jumping again). First order of business: REST for at least a week (no releves!) Weirdly easier said than done for me! I have a tendency to dance around my house more than I thought...

We don't have floor barre at our studio, so I've been investigating methods to do at home. That in itself was a little overwhelming, but I settled on the one that not only appealed to me, but was cheapest and easiest to get my hands on: Maria Fay's floor barre book. I'll report back once I've gotten to try it out a bit.

Speaking of jumping and my studio, we have been wanting to change locations, and I hope they do, because at our current place we do not have sprung floors, which EVERYONE has been telling me is a factor in my problems (which I suspected). Please cross your fingers that we can find a nice, new location and can put in some nice floors soon!

Since I'll probably have no more dance news before the new year, happy holidays to everyone out there! Here's hoping you get nice and rested for the upcoming year :)

Saturday, November 28, 2015

How much is enough?

Sometimes I see a fellow adult dancer go crazy town and DO SO MUCH (i.e. take classes at multiple studios, in multiple dance styles, every day of the week), and I start wonder to myself if I'm doing enough/dancing enough.

Then I remember how easy it has been for my body to freak out and develop issues (ahem) when I overdo it. My body is not the same as their bodies--mine gets grumpy pants if I don't rest. (As an aside, will I ever outgrow this comparison crap? UGH.)

But it makes me wonder. Fellow adult dancers, how much dancing is enough dancing for you?


I realize that your answer will likely depend on why you dance in the first place; maybe even your "dance goals." As an adult dancer who wants to continue to perform (while I can), I find that I want to dance as many hours as possible so that my technique continues to improve and I stay strong, but not overdo it. Dance is also my happy place, the refuge where all my real-world adult troubles disappear.

I just have to remember that when I start going on a "am I doing enough?" rampage.



Friday, November 20, 2015

OOPS

I was talking to the PT Monday about how I still have a cranky spot deep up inside the back/outside part of my ankle, and she suggested that maybe it was a grumpy ligament that I had mildly sprained.

My initial reaction was, "Nah," but then as I thought about it, I recalled how my ankle likes to give out, and how earlier this summer it had given out in class and I'd actually rolled it slightly. OOPS. That may have been the catalyst to setting off this most recent bout of ankle grumpiness.


In other news, I'm still being threatened with a boot after the performance if my pain doesn't go away. I'm torn about it, to be honest--on one hand, I'm worried about losing strength, on the other I just want this damn thing to get better.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Woe is Me (etc.)

I mentioned in my last post that my ankle has been bothering me again, and this time the pain was not content to disappear after some minor rest. I've been seeing a PT and a second podiatrist and apparently I have both sinus tarsi syndrome AND peroneal tendonitis, likely due to a large number of factors.

While frustrating, it's fascinating to me how connected everything in the body can be--for instance, at my last appointment the PT mentioned how my hips are slightly out of alignment, which may be causing my hamstring to be tight, which in turn is limiting the movement of the fibula, which may be contributing to the peroneal problems. OY VEY.

I have yet to determine the starting point of all this chaos, though sometimes I wonder if it stems from my injury/surgery on my left knee several years ago (causing over compensation on my right side). The doc and PT think its very possible.

I'm doing a limited amount of dancing (I took a 3 week break awhile back to no avail)--I can't do big jumps and am still limiting my releve. We have a show coming up in December, and the doc thinks we'll be able to get me through it, but if I still have irritation/pain afterwards I may be put into a boot for several weeks!

It's also making me wonder if I'll ever do pointe again. Not being able to is slightly depressing, despite all my pointe shoe woes.

Oh pointe, I actually miss you!
I found out that, were I not injured, I would have had the lead dancing role in our show, so that was a big bummer. On the other hand, I'm still able to dance in the show, so I'm counting my blessings!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Just the usual

Things have been crazy busy, so I've been a blogging slacker.

Updates!

I started doing my own strength training circuit at home through August, and was pretty good about sticking with it. I did both arm and legs exercises every other day throughout the month and definitely saw and felt some improvement. Now I just have to keep up with it because I've been a slacker so far into September. No surprises there, really.

My stupid ankle is bothering me again, so now I'm seeing a PT (who is a former dancer, yay!) To the shock of no one, she told me that I have tight calves. What was surprising was that I have weak calves (for a dancer), and likely some muscle imbalance. We'll be working on that, and also checking my pelvis for any other imbalances. My first homework assignment is to stretch my poor calves every day (especially after class). Good times.

The Pointe Shoe Saga also continues, because I dislike the Airess. I have two major problems with them:

  1. I can't seem to pad them comfortably*, and 
  2. I feel like I can't get up in them properly, which has never, ever, happened to me in the history of pointe shoes.
I don't know if its the weirdly rounded platform, that the vamp is too long for my short toes, or what. Oh well. I can't exactly do a lot of pointe right now anyway, so I'm not too worried about it for the moment. (*Side note: apparently other folks with the Airess have had problems with the platform going soft too quickly, or cracking, which might be why I feel like my big toe is never comfortable).

Capezio claims that this roundness helps you get up onto pointe, but I'm not so sure.
Planning for our winter show will be starting soon, and I'm in charge of the babies this year because I'm their teacher. I'm a little nervous about choreographing (again), but as long as they're cute (which they are by default), everything will be fine.



Saturday, August 8, 2015

Final Challenge Update

Slightly delayed due to my being out of town! Apologies.

I finished all three of my 30 day challenges, and only missed one day the entire month (my shoulder was bothering me and I didn't want to push it), which I'm pretty proud of.  Things I realized:
  • Planks are still evil. The longest I was able to hold one was 1:20. Ugh.
  • Lunges are evil but also kind of awesome? I hurt for a couple of days but in that weird good-hurt kind of way? (I may be slightly insane)
  • I can't seem to do back flies without making my shoulder grumpy, so I stopped doing them and just did the others instead.
  • My butt seems perkier (?) but everything else looks the same.
All in all, I want to continue doing strength work (both arms and legs), but maybe as more of a circuit type deal, which I'll try to do every other day (as I keep seeing recommended). We'll see how THAT goes. I think blogging about these challenges was good motivation because I felt accountable SOMEWHERE. I'll try to keep at it!            

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Planks are Evil

Today is the 1/2 way point for all of my challenges, and everything is going well except the stupid plank. I hit the minute mark a few days ago, but have been having a hard time making it any further (even 1 minute 10 seconds is too much). I don't know if its because I'm more tired this week (my schedule is rather crazy), or what. Frustrating!

As for the other two challenges, I like the exercises and the fact that I can get through everything fairly easily and quickly, but think it would be more beneficial if I increased the reps. For example, this past week it said to do 12 of each exercise, but I'm wondering if I should treat them as reps and do 2-3 sets of 12 (or something). Will have to investigate further!

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Very Latest in the Pointe Shoe Saga

I mentioned back in May that my Grishko Novas had started giving me problems because they were twisting (especially on my left foot). I changed my elastics (used something heavier and criss-crossed them) and that helped some, but not completely. My AD thought I might want to try something with a higher wing.

So, when I went on a family vacation at the end of May/beginning of June, I did my usual and looked up all the dance shops in the areas I'd be visiting and ended up being fitted at two.

First, can I just express my annoyance that, when I called these shops looking for specific shoes, I was informed that yes, they carried them, only to get there and they had ONE pair that was not in my size? That doesn't count as carrying them, people!

http://www.capezio.com/airess-tapered-toe-5
Capezio Airess
Anyway, at the first shop the fitter was REALLY into the new Capezio Airess (in fact, I think the girl before me was trying them on too), and I was subsequently fit into the 1133 (tapered) model. I haven't tried a Capezio shoe yet, and I was intrigued by the Airess. It comes in a variety of widths and box shapes, and wasn't horrifically uncomfortable (though the Nova will forever win on that front). I went ahead and bought them because I was like, "Why not?"  They look very nice on my feet in comparison to the Grishko, but I definitely feel more big toe pressure :(

At the second shop, I compared the Airess to several other shoes. The fitter at this shop was MUCH more willing to give other brands a go, and tried me in pretty much every shoe they carried (that would work for my foot). She thought the Airess would be okay to try, and gave me a secondary option of the Russian Pointe Lumina (Plan B--or by now, probably Plan K).

I tried the Airess in class for the first time last week (I didn't want to wear them/break them in for the show), and they were decent.  However, as a note to anyone else that might try this shoe: they are like BRICKS, and you will DEFINITELY want to break in the shank and maybe squish up the box a little (I did minimal squishing to the box, because I want the wings to stay as long as possible, but the shank needs serious bending). I thought I'd done a pretty good job with the shank (I get paranoid about over-working my shoes before I even wear them), but BOY HOWDY, I had some moments were it was hard to get all the way over and the shank of my Airess is only a 1/2 shank!  LIKE BRICKS, YOU GUYS.

I'm also having a hard time padding them correctly. I tried them on initially with both my Grishko padding (which was only a Big Tip and a sock toe), as well as my Ouch Pouches, but I'm getting a lot of big toe pressure, so I'm having to play with it. Luckily, I have lots of options because I seem to have collected every toe pad and toe padding device in existance during this very, very long pointe shoe journey. I think my best plan is to try to spread the weight over more toes, so put a little more padding (maybe lambs wool) in the negative space above my shorter little toes. We'll see how it goes!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

July Challenge Time

While my dance school does have a summer session in the month of July, the schedule tends to be a little more relaxed. With that in mind, I decided that I should amp up some of my other training and start working on (what I consider to be) problems areas. For me, that's my core, arms, and glutes (side note: I read this fascinating article via the Dance Training Project's Facebook page that talks all about how tight calves (!) can be a by-product of weak glutes).

So, I decided to give this whole 30 day workout challenge thing a whirl, and on July 1st I started a couple of them. The big one is the 30-day plank challenge (I'm trying the one from here).

http://ahealthylifeforme.com/52-weeks-of-health-and-fitness-tips-7/#_a5y_p=2525932Having a strong core is super important for so many aspects of dance that I thought it would be a good place to start. Plus, I kind of want to be a bad-ass who can plank for 4 minutes. If you feel like joining me, comment here and keep me posted on your progress! We can all be bad-asses!

That being said, I'm already a little torn about this one--there are several places were you only spend 1 day at a certain increment and I feel like it might be better to space it out more. I may revamp it.

As I mentioned above, I also want to work on my arms and glutes, so I'm also doing a 30-day Arm and 30-day Glute challenge. Both of these challenges are from Alive & Well Fitness, and I really like them because they switch up the exercises you do each day, so its not horrifically repetitive.


http://www.aliveandwellfitness.ca/30-day-arm-challenge/http://www.aliveandwellfitness.ca/30-day-glute-challenge/

I'm 10 days in at this point (today will be Day 11), and so far I've been able to stick to it; only 20 more days to go!  I'll report back near the end of the month and report on any differences I notice with my strength. A lot of the arm and glute stuff I actually like, and may keep doing once the challenge is over  (which is saying a lot!)

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Post-Recital Relaxation Time

Our summer show was last night, and I finally feel like I can relax. The whole week was stressful, what with fretting over the little ones and getting ready myself (and trying to remember all my choreography). Luckily, things seemed to go pretty well for the bitties.  Me, however? Ugh.

I messed up little things in both tap numbers I was in, though both jazz numbers went well. We had two pointe pieces, one more modern in flavor, and one classical (a variation from La Bayadère). The modern piece went super well, but the classical piece? My strong suit? I totally botched it.

There was one pirouette section in particular that I've always had a little trouble with because I don't get my weight forward enough, and last night I lost my balance a bit and had to fake the last turn. Ugh. I also messed up the beginning entrance, and a bit at the end I've never had trouble with before. I'm annoyed with myself because the last few times we did it in rehearsal it was actually going really well.

We also had another fun modern (but flat) ballet number, and a re-do of a favorite piece from last year styled after The Wizard of Oz. That number is totally fun and went off perfectly, so it was a great ending to the show.

Gee, I wonder which character I was? *wink*

We now have a couple weeks off before the summer session. I definitely feel like I need a little break, so it should be nice. I can't stay away from dance for too long, though, so I'll probably rest up completely for a week, then start doing barre again at home. I also have new pointe shoes to break in (more on that later), and I want to come up with some fun things for the little ones to do. Maybe "break" was the wrong word....




Thursday, May 21, 2015

A Little Bit of Everything

Sorry for the radio silence, y'all!  I've been pretty busy and haven't had a proper chance to sit down and blog, which of course means that I have a backlog of things to say (this is a little long). (Also, apologies for my liberal use of gifs.)

Teaching Update
Because of the whims of fate, I have suddenly found myself teaching three days a week! The teacher of the tiny pre-ballerinas got injured, so the AD took over and had me assist her teaching the class. After only 1-2 classes AD decided I was fine on my own and let me take over--eep!
On top of teaching them three days a week (there are 3 different classes--so many precious tiny ballerinas!), I have also had to come up with new dances for each class to do for the spring recital. I have no experience choreographing whatsoever, so that has been a bit of a learning curve. Luckily, this is the 3-5 year olds, so the steps are very simple, and they're cute no matter what they do.

Class/Rehearsals

As for us "big girls" (heh), one of our teachers went on an adventure for a few months, so just this week we had a new one take over. She has taught at the studio before, but before my time, and I had great fun in her class yesterday. She was very complimentary, which was nice--I was told that I have very nice feet (this always makes me smile--the one ballerina part I have are my feet), and later after we had rehearsed our pointe piece she asked me if I had ever auditioned for a company. I was surprised, and told her no, and when she asked why, I explained that when I was younger I'd been very shy and didn't like the competitiveness of that kind of thing. She asked if I performed with other groups in town, too, but I don't (yet?) 

It was uplifting, especially after my recent jealousy over other adults getting such opportunities, that a totally new teacher (and former Russian ballet dancer) thought I was good enough to actually perform with some kind of company!

Pointe

 
That pretty much sums it up. It was going really well, until maybe last week when I noticed my left shoe seemed to be getting really twisty. The twisting shifts me to the outer part of the platform, and is probably a reason I keep having tendonitis issues. I tried adjusting the elastics and that helped a little, but not completely. My AD thinks I need a shoe with a longer wing, so the never-ending pointe shoe hunt continues (I am sobbing quietly in a corner).

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Serendipity

In a weird but wonderful twist of the universe, we had a (former) professional dancer drop into the adult class at my dance school earlier this week. If that wasn't amazing enough, it turns out her new career is as a physical therapist! My AD asked her if she would be willing to look at my foot, and she was gracious enough to give me a little exam before attending class (awesome!)

She told me that my symptoms were very similar for having an os trigonum, which can be hard to detect (I told her my podiatrist had checked for that and nothing had shown up on my x-ray, but I guess sometimes they can be super hard to see).

All the balancing!
Alternatively (and equally as likely) it may be the result of my tight calves in conjunction with my having had previous ankle sprains to that ankle many moons ago. Because of the sprains, I've lost stability in my ankle and now my peroneal muscles are overcompensating when I do all my balancing/pointe work. Makes sense to me!

She gave me a bunch of exercises to do to help, and I have to keep taking it easy for awhile (limit jumping, limit relevé if it starts to hurt, make sure to ice/contrast, etc. etc.) For those that are curious, the exercises involve controlled rises (up on both feet, lower on my bad foot), rises with a theraband wrapped around my ankle, and using a balance board/disk. I'm also keeping up with my calf massaging.


Because I didn't have enough stuff
in my dance bag already (ha!)
Later this week, I also chatted with my former dance teacher (from my youth), and she suggested taping my arch/heel in sort of a figure-8 shape. I tried this for class yesterday and it felt pretty good! I don't know if its a psychological thing or what, but I liked it because my foot/ankle felt supported and it didn't limit my range of motion. 

I may have to do both KT tape and the ankle taping and see how things go (and will therefore be the most taped up dancer ever, whee!)  Luckily, it seems like everyone is used to my crazy KT tape shenanigans now.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Spring Break

We just finished a two week Spring Break, and I actually (gasp) took a break. I decided that if I wanted to be able to do pointe for our spring show, I should probably let my foot rest. The latest news on that front is that it seemed to be some peroneal tendonitis, which is an overuse injury (everyone is shocked, right? haha). Besides the increased pointe in class, I have been walking more than usual, and because I walk turned out and supinate (all of which is bad), I think I aggravated that entire area. Le sigh.

In completely non-foot related news, I am still struggling with finding something both comfortable and flattering to wear for classes. I mean...I don't mind wearing leotards and tights, but the leg holes of many of my leos squeeze things a little too much for my liking, which makes me feel like they don't fit and, therefore, aren't flattering. It's a little frustrating. I also continue to hate normal tights and how the elastic forever makes me look like a sausage. Thank God for body tights.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Finicky Calves

As I had predicted, the steroids the doc gave me for the foot didn't help much. I saw him again and he felt around more, finally finding the sensitive spot just behind my outer ankle bone (the lateral malleolus for those of you who are medically inclined.) Seems like it may be my peroneal tendon/muscle, which is an overuse injury (of course). It can also be caused by tight calves (which the doc noted I had while he was flexing my foot around), so I have lots of stretching and massaging in my future.

Also, super sexy KT taping!
I did the math, and I was definitely dancing more in the winter, but I am doing more pointe which does a nice number on the calves, so I think that's my problem. I'm going to have to be religious about massaging and stretching my calves at night.

Things that are worrying me, though? Our spring showcase. As of discussions right now, I may be in as many as NINE numbers (two tap, three ballet/ballet-esque, and four jazz!) AHHHHHH.

Monday, March 9, 2015

In which I might be cursed

My stupid ankle/foot is bothering me again. It feels very similar to the problem I was having over the summer, so I saw the foot doc again. This time he thinks it might actually be my sural nerve, but I don't really feel like that's it because I don't get any weird tingling or numbness. It's more of an ache/pinching feeling? Sigh.

However, because it seems like my calves are forever tight (I had problems with shin splints early on), I asked if tightness in my calf could cause problems in my ankle and he said yes--tight calf muscles can restrict ankle mobility(!) so that's also a big possibility (yay relevé!)  Time to break out all my self massage tools and see if that helps.

And maybe one of these fancy calf stretching deals:


(They had me use one during my PT recovery for my knee injury a few years ago and it was the best thing ever).

In any event, whatever this is seems to be pointe related. I've come to this conclusion because during the winter I was dancing a TON (in HEELS) and had no problems whatsoever, but now that we're back to our normal dance schedule I'm back to doing pointe more regularly (though its only 1 hr once a week), and the stinker is bugging me again. GRUMBLE. I just can't win with the whole pointe thing, can I?

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Ballet is Exciting!

My first teaching experience went pretty well, though I could tell near the end (before we played a ballet version of charades) that the girls were getting a little bored. They were very well behaved (likely because they're not sure what to make of us yet, heh), but I still want them to have fun, so we'll have to see what we can come up with to make things a little more exciting.

I also somehow ended up teaching the beginning/intermediate adult class when the teacher had to cancel last minute. I only had three students (all of whom I've taken class with), so it was relaxed and quite fun. They were good sports, and I have a suspicion that I might like teaching adults over munchkins. I said something about it to the AD later, and she kind of smiled and nodded and said, "Everyone is different." It's obviously very early in my teaching experience though, so time will tell.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Learning to Teach

The AD of the dance school I attend has been hinting that she thinks I should try to teach. I was hesitant, because I've never taught anyone anything before, and ballet can be kind of complicated.

I've found myself with much more free time than usual, and when she asked again, I decided why not? So another student teacher and I have been assigned a class together (ages 7-10ish).

I'm both super excited and nervous. We went over with the AD all the things we'll work on, things we'll introduce later, things to watch out for. It's a lot, but I'm looking forward to making up combinations and digging up fun music.

There are way more results on iTunes than I expected...

I'm also finding myself wondering what kind of resources there are for a beginning dance teacher? Are there manuals/books for this kind of thing? Will I be able to break down steps in a way that is easy for a 7 year old to understand? Will I be able to make the class both fun and disciplined (e.g. no kids running around and hanging on the barres)? Time will tell, I guess, though if anyone out there has any suggestions, I'd love to hear them!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Wait, what?

As previously reported, I am a right/clockwise turner, so you can imagine my surprise the other day in pointe class when I managed a lovely pirouette to the left, but barely turned at all to the right.

I don't...what? I don't even know.

My problem on the right is that I just don't seem to GO anywhere--it's like I lose all my momentum. I suspect that I'm springing up onto pointe too much on the right side, but I'll have to ask my teacher about it. SO WEIRD.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

In which I am ridiculous and jealous of nothing important

Sometimes I get frustrated with myself, and generally its because I'm doing that horrible thing I think a lot of dancers do, where I compare myself to others and always come up short. I think many of us are perfectionists, and so we get ourselves into trouble when this kind of thought process starts (me especially, as I have a history of low self esteem and eating problems, boo).

(Under a break because this is LONG.)

Saturday, January 31, 2015

What's in Your Bag?

I was cleaning out my dance bag the other day, and started thinking about how personal a dance bag can be. Some people have small tote bags and only carry the necessities (e.g. tights, leotard, shoes), while others (like me) pack every possible thing they could ever need.

In my defense, the dance studio I attend has an actual "dance bag requirements" list for the advanced students, which does actually include me (unlike the dress code). Subsequently, I have a giant dance bag filled with a ton of stuff:

The whole shebang.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Stereotypical New Years Post

The last month has been a little intense, and not just with dance things. Two weeks before Christmas, I suddenly found myself unemployed. The company I had worked for for 10 years lost a contract, and thus all of the planned work for the next year; nearly everyone in the office was laid off. It was very sudden. Ironically, I had been considering a career change (to what, I have no idea, but still wanted a change). I guess we'll see what the future holds?

Luckily, I had dance to focus on right after it happened, as we had tech/dress rehearsals and our Christmas show. Everything went really well--I had a small solo bit and managed to not mess it up once in any of the three shows. Go me!

We had a two week break and started classes up again this last week, though not everyone is back yet so things are slow. Going back to class after a break is always an interesting time, and while I somehow managed to get in some decent double pirouettes to the right, the left was a complete disaster as per usual. Things to work on once again.

That, as well as Remedial Ballerina's recent post about goals, got me thinking about what dance goals I have for myself this year. Most of my goals have to do with turns, because those are my arch nemesis in dance, apparently.

Dance Things I Hope to Accomplish in 2015:
(I'll probably stick this in a page up on the top banner eventually, just to remind myself).
  1. Consistent triple pirouettes on the right and consistent CLEAN doubles on the left (flat). If I can get triples to the left, too, that would be nice.
  2. At least 16 consecutive fouette pirouettes on each side (flat).
  3. Doubles en pointe on both sides.
  4. Develop more back flexibility. It's getting better, but I'd like my arabesque line to be a little nicer.
  5. Continue to work on my extensions--I'm able to get 90 degrees pretty well (except to the front with the right leg, for some reason). I'd like to have it above 90 for adagio in the center.
I'll probably adjust this list from time to time, and I'm sure I'll think of more things to add. Yay perfectionism.

I do have one other goal this year: to post more pictures on this blog!! (Obviously failing to start out with since I have no pictures to go with this post, ha!) I'd really like to share more of my dance world on here, but I do like having a bit of anonymity. I'm not sure I'm brave enough to post pictures of myself here (except for my feet haha), so I'm going to have to get creative about it.