“How can ‘something so well practiced…start to slip out of reach after a few days away’?”
How can I still be (fairly) young (not telling), yet feel so ancient, in terms of ballet? A mere couple days off from the ballet barre can lead to a challenge like no other. Turn out, epaulement, articulation of the most finite body parts-toes, fingers, length in the back of the neck-the list of intrinsic details is lengthy. It is phenomenal, and similarly terrifying, that something so well practiced since birth can start to slip out of reach after a few days away.
Now I’ve already previously emphasized the importance of taking class. But when you’re caught within the grasp of paying bills and indulging in all the delights of summertime, time in the studio can become an irregular occurrence. I cannot even begin to explain the guilt trip that weighs on me as my time away from the studio increases. And there’s the fear that mounts with the knowledge that my next class will be a difficult one…I’m definitely in “summer-mode”, but I have entered the studio at least weekly thank goodness. There’s nothing like the fresh and casual feel of summer class—new faces mixed with old friends, and a shared appreciation of the importance of taking class that can only be felt amongst a small and random mixed age class, lined up at the barre in the early evening of a summer night.
“There’s one key thing you should do when you start feeling ‘ancient, in terms of ballet…’ “
My saving grace when I am “off-season [and] off kilter”, is and always will be some good ol’ fashioned stretching. Again, although I preach this, sometimes it is a task that slips away from me. I must give a shout out to my amazing mother, who makes a point of completing her ballet stretches (your traditional butterfly, front to back splits, middle/straddle splits, frog) at the beginning and end of each day. The value that comes from this is priceless.
Although I know of this great value, it can be so hard to embrace the habit of consistent daily stretching, especially at this time of year. I do reverently recognize that as I grow older in age as a dancer, the process of stretching will not only help to preserve me physically, but also help me to maintain myself as a ballet dancer. It’s really very simple when you think about it. It’s just like getting enough sleep, taking vitamins, drinking eight glasses of water a day, and following a healthy diet-it’s for you. You can do it, or you can break the routine, but I guarantee you’re going to feel amazing if you just take care of yourself.