Sunday, October 23, 2011

The well-trodden paths of ballet class

Pas de basque was the first step in a combination across the floor in class on Saturday at Mark Morris Dance Center, Brooklyn.  It's a step that can be very slow and luxurious, or it can be a quick waltz.  The first time I recall encountering the quick-waltz version of the step was in a class taught by Mary Thompson in Cambridge, Mass.  This step baffled me.  Even though I knew how to do the slow pas de basque, there didn't seem to be enough counts for the quick one.  I was used to the step taking four counts, with a rond de jambe--circling the leg from front to back--on the first count.  In the quick version, you need to rond de jambe and step forward on count one in order for it to work, and I mostly found this out because it didn't work for me. 

So this Saturday, I knew how to pas de basque quickly. My memories of Mary's pas de basque combinations returned.  Yet the memory of being nervous about doing pas de basques and losing a count or a step and not knowing why in Cambridge was somehow pleasant.  A familiar memory was pleasant, even though the experience remembered was one of anxiety. 

I thought of Mary when we did balancés toward the back corners of the room.  Dancing toward the back corner in combinations that ultimately travel forward seemed counter-intuitive to me, but it comes up all the time, and I'm ready for it.  I thought of her when we did pas de chats.  Mary said that the height of the jump, in which you move sideways and bring both feet under you one after the other, was determined by how much your torso rose, not how high you got your bent legs off the ground. 

As we did circular port de bras, rotating the upper body in a circle around the hips, I remembered how my friend and I used to try to look at the floor the whole time, a feat quite difficult when you are bending straight back.  It's a challenge that goes along with using your head in the port de bras, since if you can't bend your back any further, as any limbo player knows, you can always throw back your head. Actually, looking at the floor helped me keep my balance during the port de bras, whereas just using my head without looking at anything made me fall over, or at least feel like I was going to. 

Though these steps may not be familiar to all readers of this blog, they have layers of familiarity for dancers.  Ballet class, which has the same format every time, everywhere, is a routine in itself.  Then come the memories of all the teachers and what they've said about various steps.  "Exhale as you go forward," one teacher said every time we did a bend forward at the barre.  I think she just liked saying it; surely everybody caught on after she said it a few times, since it's an easy correction to apply! 

So during that circular port de bras, exhale as you go forward, don't cut corners, use your head, and try to see the floor the whole time!  And don't get too lost in daydreams. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


When I got to my seat in the fourth ring of the Koch Theater, a bronze orb covered in glittering circles of diamonds/clear jewels, the chandelier, hung before my eyes.  Each section of the theater's upper levels had its own matching, glittering circle.  Jewels studded the theater's rings.

I did not wear any jewels to see Balanchine's work of the same name.  I left the house in a flurry, thrilled with the possibility of making it to the ballet, knowing that I might be late.  I didn't take time to fuss with my costume, and I was right on time.  Why do people in the audience dress up for the ballet?  Whereas the performers costume themselves for the audience, the performers can't see what audience members are wearing and probably don't care.  Audience members dress up for each other.

"Emeralds" was lyrical and beautiful.  It used a Fauré piece I particularly like that made me imagine the dancers were in an enchanted wood where miracles, like ballet and falling in love, take place.  During one variation, the ballerina spun around moving her arms intricately above her head.  I tried to imagine an emerald doing so but failed.  It was just interesting choreography.  Balanchine had dancers lift their arabesques in staccato fashion to match the music.  No leg dropped or shook.  Balances were all suspended.  No one broke the spell.

Throughout "Rubies," I kept thinking that the dancers didn't look like humans at all.  Maybe this is what dancing minerals would look like:  flashy, angular, hard.  They danced turned-in and in plié with flashes of extensions to the side and turned-in back attitudes.

"Diamonds" began like a dry version of "Swan Lake," with dancers in white, accompanied by Tchaikovsky, doing balancé after balancé, but toward the end, it was magical.   As in "Emeralds," the dancers looked like humans perfected, my image of ballerinas. At one point, the entire corps de ballet put on long gloves, and the dancers waltzed around the stage in pairs, the diamonds glittering off the women, so that it looked like a ballroom scene from My Fair Lady.  Though Audrey Hepburn wore black gloves and pearls for Breakfast At Tiffany's, I thought of her, here, too.

This is my take on the ballet itself.  Since I'd never seen it before, I can't comment on the quality of the particular performance apart from the choreography.  Technique was brilliant, as expected.  Some places could have used more turnout, but the dancers used more turnout than I ever will!

 It's important not to let one's own humility toward dancers and their amazing abilities prevent one from being critical.   Just because I don't always turn out well doesn't mean that I can't fault City Ballet on the point.  It's the same concept as science journalists not being so enamored with science that they don't critique it. If I could dance that well, I'd be onstage!

And that was my night at the ballet, the last for a while, since next week, City Ballet is going off on tour?/taking a break?/not performing in New York!  Meanwhile, I'll be concerned with my own academic performance.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Mother just as iconic as daughter

"I really have to pee," the little girl says in the crowded dressing room, as she changed out of her leotard and tights (oh so loose at that age).
"Makes sense; you've had quite a workout," the mother says.
"How do you know I had a workout?" the girl asks.  She's at the question age.
"I sar you dancing."
"Oh.  Did you see when I...?" Of course, the mother doesn't remember that very moment.
"Yes, yes; you're vehry graceful when you're dancing," the mother says, with a hint of sarcasm the daughter would not detect.  Maybe daughter isn't always graceful, particularly not when throwing a tantrum.
"Hey, you're a dancer, right?" mom says to a middle-aged woman changing out of her dance clothes. "What do you do for a sprain dankle?"
"I'd ice it and isolate it," the dancer replies.
"Ice it.  Okay.  And, like how lowng do I have ta wait?  Not like two weeks, right?"
"Can I, like, work out?  'Cawz otherwise, I'll kill myself."
"Well, just be careful.  Take Ibuprofen, ice it, isolate it."
"Is she a doctor, Mom?"
"No, she's not a dawctor, she's a dancer."

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Homesick for José's

I'm looking for a ballet class I love so much that I'll do anything to get there.  Something that can light my life.  I had classes like that in Cambridge, MA, but I'm in New York, and I haven't found the equivalent here.

I like a class that starts very slowly and works its way up so that you are exhausted by the end of barre.  Mary Thompson's class at José Mateo Ballet Theatre is that way.  It starts with an exercise facing the barre, then pliés, then infinitely slow tendus.  But the class overall is infinitely fast!  That's the beauty of it.  There's an opportunity to practice every move slowly at least once before doing it fast.  It's like the development of an embryo, starting with a single cell and developing into a fetus.  It starts simply and becomes complex, and it doesn't skip steps. You don't do a pirouette until you've done passé on flat and relevé passé without turning.  This thoroughness not only prepares you for what comes next but it wears you out and warms you up. By the end of barre, I'm sweaty and warm, ready to do a split.  Too tired to talk.  (Talking was always a mistake in Mary's class, anyway.)

When classes start with shrugging the shoulders, I worry.  Not having done modern dance, I fear "ballet for modern dancers."

In some classes I've taken around here, teachers basically go from pliés to fast dégagés to ronds de jambe.  There should be so many more tendus in there!  Tendus from first, tendus from fifth.  Then fondus and ronds de jambe en l'air for strength.  I don't like a barre without développés.  That's a workout.

Class at Peridance with Alexandre Proia may not have been ballet for modern dancers, but it was ballet for someone other than me.

This class was more about teaching style and choreography than teaching technique.  In my opinion, the barre was scanty.  Center was interesting and had its own merits.  The teacher made jazzy combinations and demonstrated them fully, which many teachers don't do. It was wonderful to watch. We had a great pianist, too, who played tunes close to my heart (Edith Piaf and Khatchaturian).

This is a former City Ballet dancer.  Have to respect him and his approach.  I agree with him that learning a long, complex combination is good for the brain and that expression is important.

I do live in a glass house, made even more fragile since school started and my dancing became more sporadic.

But I do know what kind of class I want, and Proia's was not it. I suppose the class would be better for people who take many classes and have already had a workout for the day, people who want to work on style.  Not a bread-and-butter class.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

City Ballet Report: "2 and 3 Part Inventions" and "Apollo"

"E107" was my seat at New York City Ballet for $15, the student rate.  At first, I assumed I was in row 107, which made sense for the price of my ticket. Not so, as I found out later.

Out in the courtyard, the fountain I'd read about in The New Yorker was doing its magnificent display.  The water suddenly shoots up from its percolating resting position into patterns that suspend in the air for a second, then fall.  They were like fireworks made of water.  Soon the rain decided to join the show.

I headed to a Starbucks for dinner and bought a bistro box, a very nice pre-made lunch of prosciutto and salame, cheese, olives, lettuce, crackers, and a piece of chocolate for dessert.  Because of the rain, I chose the bistro box over something that might have been less expensive and farther away.  Standing room only in Starbucks.  I stood at the counter where people pick up their specialty drinks, like in the Italian cafés you hear about where people pay extra to sit.  What I refused to do was buy bottled water.

Back at Lincoln Center, I went to the bathroom where, to my surprise, there were stalls available, as a woman in black pointed out.  I told her I just wanted a drink, washed my hands, cupped them, and made up for not buying bottled water.  At intermission, the same woman was in the bathroom again telling people which stalls were available.  I took another drink.  She had a little white, ragged apron on, ragged like Apollo's tunic, and I realized then that Lincoln Center probably paid her to monitor the bathroom. The loo lady. 

When I got to my seat, I found that "E107" was fifth row, center.  I felt like a phoney, sitting there dressed up as if I had bought a very expensive seat.  Of course, I didn't pretend complacency but trumpeted my luck to people nearby.

To the ballet.  The first piece was "2 and 3 Part Inventions," choreographed by Jerome Robbins for a School of American Ballet workshop performance.  It's traditional to open a show with a white ballet, but in this one, the men broke dress code by wearing blue tights with their white undershirts.  A live pianist in her own spotlight played the inventions, in which the two hands play a duet with each other, taking turns with the melody.  In the ballet, pairs of dancers took turns at series' of steps.  The ballet seemed appropriate for a school performance in that the dancers really seemed to be playing with each other.  During one dance, two women slap their palms together, like in a handclap game, then shimmy up and down in that position.

This ballet was danced by very good company members, not principal dancers.  I was so close that I could see their smiles and the seams of their tights.  Each dancer had his or her own, unique part and individual flair to go with it.  Not at all a corps de ballet.  As a dancer starting out, City Ballet must be appealing for that reason (among others!).  By the way, one of most featured dancers had her hair not in a bun but in a French twist, another bit of individuality.

As a watched a dancer in white alone on the stage, I realized why dancers say that performing is freeing.  For so long, that concept evaded me.  Performing took what I could do passably well in the studio and made it ten times harder as my nerves took over.  Not freeing.

I realized last night, sitting in the packed house, how free the lone dancer was in so many ways.  She had space, time, and license to dance her heart out.  This dancer had the whole stage to herself in the middle of a crowded city.  She had the right to go up there and dance not her own steps but the choreography the way she wanted.   The whole audience was there to see her dance.  And unlike in rehearsal, there was no ballet master to stop her and tell her to do it differently.

In New York City, where else can you dance alone in such a big space?  You can't just start dancing on the sidewalk.  Before ballet class, everyone stretches, no one dances, and even if the big studio is there to dance in and leap across, it feels awkward to do so alone in front of everyone.  In class, you do the prescribed steps in a group.  In your apartment, you worry about making too much noise.  On stage, the dancer can go all out in a way she can't anywhere else.  She's free.

"Apollo," choreography by Balanchine, music by Stravinsky, surpassed my expectations, which were  a serious man in white tights and tunic dancing austerely.  No, it was a lighthearted ballet.  Apollo and his three muses danced and flirted in so many ways.  It seemed to me that the muses were vying for Apollo's attention and that he wasn't particularly interested in them.  At times, they seemed to be creating architecture with their arms and legs.  They made archways and went through each other and wove among themselves in the style of a folk dance. At the end, the dancers stagger their arabesques to create a stunning final pose.  It reminded me of that drawing of the supposedly perfectly-proportioned man whose outstretched arms and legs fit in a circle. 

One thing I didn't like about "Apollo" was the beginning, when Apollo pretends to strum a mandolin-like instrument as a solo violin plays double-stops with a bow.  Incongruous.

I noticed that a lot of the dancers looked younger than I am.  An odd realization.  Not only am I not good enough/not cut out to dance professionally "when I grow up," but I'm also getting old!   I'm still young enough to be taken seriously in classes.  Cherish it!

I didn't stay for the third ballet of the night.  I got my money's worth, and I'll be back again!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Why My Journalism Assignments Are Not Easy

When I studied biology, I used to think a lot about what kinds of experiments I wanted to do.  I wanted to study the intricacies of the central dogma of molecular biology (DNA->RNA->protein).  Yet I came up with few experiments.  It's much easier to have a given question and design experiments to answer it. 

Researching a given question is what I did in my undergraduate lab internships.  I didn't allow myself to think much about how important I thought worm defecation was to the world when I aspired to work in a lab studying the process.  I decided that the question didn't matter.  In my view, science was about how cleverly and thoroughly people went about answering their questions.  "It's not what you do; it's how you do it."  The so-called elegance of an experiment was what interested me.

In the popular science articles I read, experimental design gets very little mention.  Not the original questions, not the scientific methods, but the results are what the stories describe.

Now my assignment is to come up with several news story ideas.  In one case, the ideas have a given, broad topic (climate change); in the other, any scientific topic is fair game.  I find myself reading websites about climate change and getting background information and asking myself lots of questions.  But unlike in my idyllic, imagined scientific world, in journalism, all questions are not created equal.  I can't just pick a random research paper and analyze it to death.  A mediocre experiment about HIV will mean more to readers than a clever experiment about periodic pooping in roundworms.  What I choose to write about matters.

 I haven't come up with any story ideas for the class where I can write on any topic because I haven't picked a topic yet!  I could write about anything, and that makes it hard to choose a topic.   

I might like to write something about the various consequences of glacial melting.  I'm interested in how reduced salinity in the ocean water near the surface would affect ocean levels and levels of ocean ice.  On one hand, the melting of freshwater glaciers would raise the sea level.  But decreasing the salinity of the ocean's surface would make that water freeze at higher temperatures.  A higher freezing point would counteract the melting of ice on the ocean surface:  because the glaciers melt, the ocean water is more likely to freeze at a given temperature.  So on one hand, global warming may be causing the ocean's ice to melt, but glacial melting could actually counteract the melting of the ice in the ocean, even if that effect is small.

So for what it's worth, my scientific mind thinks about this stuff.  But what of all that thinking, by me and by other scientists, would make a good story idea?  That's harder to decide.  It's also about being analytical but in a creative way.

I wish I could just draw a story out of a hat or pick from a list the way I did when I wrote for The Somerville News and me being free the night of an event was reason enough to cover it.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Gorilla Coffee!

"20 20 20 24 hours to go!  I wanna be sedated."  Maybe you shouldn't be in a coffee shop, then.  But this is the music playing at Gorilla Coffee, Brooklyn.

It's one of the first places that stood out on the Google map of Brooklyn.  What a good name!  For the next few days, I talked about wanting to go there.  "It's special, Brooklyn coffee," I said, as if every coffee shop doesn't call their coffee special.

I didn't make it to the grocery to buy milk last night, and since I don't drink black coffee, I had an excuse to go to a café this morning.  I'm so glad I ran out of milk!  This coffee shop is pushing all my buttons at once.

Here I am at last sitting at a red table listening to hard rock music (the kind a gorilla might play) and drinking a delicious cup of dark-roast, special Brooklyn coffee, roasted here, I think.  At any rate, I can take a bag of Gorilla coffee, black bag with a red gorilla face, home with me.  The gorilla's eyes, inner lips, and nostrils are recessed and black, its brow, chin, and wide upper lip stand out in red.  This is the gorilla playing the drums on the radio, I think.

This place really is guaranteed to wake you up:  coffee, rock music, and red Christmas lights.  Plus, the walls are decorated with maps of Southeast Asia, Africa, and South America.  There are no captions explaining which gorillas lived where, but still, cool.

And then a former biology classmate from Oberlin who lives in Brooklyn and is also going to NYU walked in the door.  I hadn't seen her since the summer of 2007.  Could this get better? 

Gorilla Coffee!  Be there!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


I've never watched Balanchine's "Serenade."  An old friend of mine, then my one and only best friend, danced this ballet at St. Paul's School, a boarding school in New Hampshire with a stellar dance program.  Annie gave me a CD of the music (Tchaikovsky's "Serenade For Strings In C") and the pointe shoes she wore in her big performance, and I've listened to it countless times.  I haven't danced the ballet, but I've danced to the music, countless times.  I wonder how my choreography--full of attitude turns and sudden balances at the ends of fast passages--compares with the real thing.

Though I haven't watched the ballet, I've seen the blue dresses and the women with their hair down in photos.  They look like dancers in their natural state, one so ethereal to people who don't dance or those like me, who dance at an amateur level.  If only wearing pointe shoes were my natural state. 

The slow movement of "Serenade" expresses the reverence I feel for ballet.  It's slow, quiet, lonely, an elegy by its title.  When the music is on, I feel more serious about whatever I'm doing, in this case, writing.  Imagine your ballet teacher knocked on your door right now.  How would you act?  Aside from freaking out and being nervous, you might try to be polite and considerate and do things right.  This music makes me feel reverent even when I am alone. 

I'm sure many of the dancers I know have danced in "Serenade."  I can name three, and there must be more.  I recently took class with one of them, Elizabeth Walker, of the Los Angeles Ballet, when she taking a break from professional ballet to study at Harvard and took the open classes at José Mateo Ballet Theatre.  I didn't realize this "good" (actually amazing) dancer was a professional, and then I saw a photo advertising Los Angeles Ballet's 2010 production of "Serenade," with her in a beautiful arabesque.

(I'm starting to realize that most people who dance like professionals are professionals.  Why not?)

Knowing that Liz danced this ballet makes me think about her differently.  However she behaves in your average social situation, just a friendly, regular person, I know that she is, in fact, part of the other, ethereal realm, or has been there.

Of course I would like to visit that realm through dance, not just through my imagination.  But I won't make light of the ambition with "Serenade" in my head.  No clunking of dropped extensions.  No haphazard arms.  Can't be anything but earnest when you let Tchaikovsky and Balanchine in your bedroom door.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Life as a reality TV show?

You know on the reality show, "Project Runway," when the competing designers have 30 minutes (or something) at the fabric store to buy everything they are going to need for their clothing line?  I have the feeling that my master's program is an equivalent time in my life.  I need to gather up all the knowledge I can during in the next sixteen months.  

Of course, I'll always be learning, but this period of school, unemployment, and bachelorhood is the time when learning will be easiest.  So many things could happen during my twenties:  education, career, love, children, and using my physically mature body for whatever it's capable of before it starts declining (I'm thinking ballet, but yes, 'children' is a related topic, here). 

The risk of elimination from the contest, life, is always there.  But the moment when the British lady in the sky says, "You're out," may well be due to chance, unrelated to success, failure or how well you chose your fabrics at Mood.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

New Place, Same Old Me

Deciding what to write about can be difficult.  There are endless possibilities: past, present, future, or imagined situations past, present, and future.  You can sit outside and watch people and write about what you see, like Harriet the Spy, or you can sit with your eyes closed and write about what you think.  My mind is worrying me at the moment, so I prefer to escape by writing about the outside world.  But in times when the outside world is, say, monotonous (like working at a grocery store) or horrifying (being in the hospital or in worse situations, like war), people can escape by being introspective.  Or they can turn something horrifying into art, creating a beautiful version of an ugly reality.

What has this paragraph been?  Introspection, of course.  Enough of that.

I am starting a master's program in science journalism at New York University this fall.  I had my orientation on Thursday, and classes start on Tuesday, after Labor Day. I'm staying in a Brooklyn brownstone with parents of a childhood friend.  My room is on the third floor, and the kitchen is on the first floor, and the intervening stairs are narrow, creaky, steep, and dark unless I bother to turn on a light.  The first floor consists of an austere living room, music room, and dining room with ornate dark wooden molding everywhere.  There are sliding doors separating these rooms, but some of them don't slide.  When the doors are recessed into the wall, there's a little button you push that forces out a hook used for pulling open the door.  So intricate!  Update:  it is possible to close off the stairwell from the living room and kitchen to keep sounds from carrying upstairs.  At the back of the first floor, the kitchen window overlooking the garden is a beacon of light.  I am writing in the kitchen now.   The second floor has the master bedroom, a study, and a bathroom.  The third floor has three bedrooms (for three children, now grown), a bathroom, and a laundry room.  In order to get to the third floor, I have to walk up the creaky stairs, down a creaky hallway adjacent to the parents' bedroom, and either be in the dark or turn on a light in the hall, then up another flight to the third floor, where I'll be the only inhabitant.  As my friend's parents said, we'll hear everyone's comings and goings.

I don't mind the stairs, but it interests me that the layout of this house makes simple things seem worth describing.  For example, no bathroom on the first floor.  If I come down early in the morning before others are awake, I risk waking people up by going to the bathroom.  I can either go to the bathroom next to the bedroom of sleeping parents (fewer stairs, less noise walking to and from the bathroom, more noise in the bathroom) or walk down the creaky hallway to the third floor to use my own bathroom (more noise commuting, less noise tooting, or whatever).

The bathrooms have old, spacious bathtubs/showers.  There are four knobs, two faucets, and one shower head.  The bathroom sinks are unusual in that the faucets don't extend much beyond the back of the sink so that you almost brush your hands against the sink to wash them, and it is hard to drink from the faucet. 

That's about it for introspection and inspection of this house from the inside.  Did I mention the old dumbwaiter, which is now just a closet with its own working doorbell?  I'll let you know when I meet the ghosts. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Une valse

Cosmin, one of the teachers at José Mateo Ballet Theatre, Cambridge, likes to do “slow waltzes” instead of adagios. A euphemism for trying to stand on one leg to measures of three. But today’s slow waltz was quite lovely because of the music the pianist chose: the pas de deux from Les Sylphides (Chopin).

When I was in middle school, I did very slow waltzes to Les Sylphides as a member of the corps de ballet, slow not just because of the music but because the corps mostly poses and changes positions only during breaks in the soloist action.

This waltz is traditionally a pas de deux between a man and a woman, but our teacher choreographed it on two girls, both of whom I admired.

The ballet Les Sylphides is accompanied by an orchestra, but pianists also play the Les Sylphides pieces as solos. It’s a piece that lends itself to rubato, speeding up and slowing down. So romantic. I found videos of dancers doing the pas de deux, but the orchestra did not seem in love with the music. This piano version is more the way I like to think of the music:
I don't know why the video does not just show up.  Sorry!  Please go to the link!

Class today was ridiculously hot, and during barre, I thought to myself, “This was a bad idea. Mom was right. So when am I going to leave?” But I stayed the whole class. I was annoyed at my progress from good singles to bad doubles. I was annoyed that I didn’t try hard enough to turn out as I stood on one leg (waltzing…). Yet after class, as I took the subway home, I had that waltz stuck in my head. I imagined how it could be sped up or slowed down. I imagined how my dancing could follow the music. I wondered if I could put my love for the music into my dancing. Such a strong feeling about that music couldn’t be ignored. I was in love with a love song. And so I went from hot and frustrated to elated. I wanted to dance more, to see if I could do more than just technique, to show that love through my arms and head. I started walking in sets of three steps: BIG small small; BIG small small. And I knew that I wanted to go to class again the next day.
Edith Piaf sings a waltz ("Une Valse," no YouTube video available) in which the she/the singer remembers her youth in Russia, relives it as she sings, then comes out of her reverie to find herself in the bar of a hotel in Pigalle. I hope I don't come out of my reverie to a hot studio and poor turnout. But the waltz lets us escape reality a bit. And maybe it will carry my dancing along, too.
Here's a link to a less moving waltz sung by Piaf, with great rrrrroooobaaaaato.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Don't Sweat The Small Stuff--Easier Said Than Done

Figuratively speaking, dancers have to sweat the small stuff. Ballet is all about tiny details, and teachers will tell you that if you don’t think about certain things, like turning out, they will not happen automatically while you smile at the audience. Dance is all about paying attention to small details. Literally speaking, all of those tiny motions make me sweat. So yes, I sweat the small stuff.
I sweat “a lot,” as a younger dancer once pointed out to me, wide-eyed. There are no spots of sweat. By the time we have done three or four barre exercises, my leotard develops dark patches and my back is covered with droplets. Then drops the size of dimes start appearing on the floor next to the barre. Because some of the barres at José Mateo are rusty (they are, after all, iron pipes), some of the drops are brown, making it look as though I’m on a jungle adventure instead of in ballet class. The sweat travels from my hands to the barre to the floor. Eventually, my whole leotard changes to a darker shade.
When I asked the teacher about ways to deal with sweat, Mary suggested I wear socks under my ballet shoes “if I didn’t want to wear tights.” I had been avoiding pink tights (not because I didn’t own many pairs of them) by wearing black footless leggings. Next class, the socks got soaked, as did the pink, footed tights the following class. How about purple tights?
Another person suggested bringing two pairs of shoes to class and changing shoes between barre and center. I brought some brand new shoes to class today and put them on triumphantly after barre, thinking I had outsmarted my enemy. Yet after one combination, the baby-pink shoes were darkening to salmon, and soon after that, they were soaked, too. At that point, afraid of other dancers slipping on the spots I was leaving on the floor, not to mention slipping on my own shoes, I decided to sit out the rest of the class. I moseyed over to the corner and sat down to stretch, leaving sweat everywhere I touched down. It was a relief to no longer worry about wiping it up. I grinned thinking about how it might be a good time to pull out a yellow “Caution: wet floor” sign.
On my way home, I bought some spray-on antiperspirant, thinking that I could spray it on my feet and inside my shoes. Some online research suggested that was a good idea. Though the deodorant says “for underarms only,” I’m going to try it anyway. Now, where, besides “on my feet and under my armpits,” to apply it? I don’t know how others in a crowded dressing room would feel about me using spray deodorant. Perhaps I could do it in an empty corner of the studio or in the bathroom. There, though, I would risk leaving concentrated fumes that might offend the next user. I could spray it at home, then put on my socks and wear the same socks under my shoes. Or I could spray it on outside the dance studio. How romantic: me sitting or standing/hopping around next to the church/ballet studio, its surrounding flower beds, and the bronze statue of a dancer, spraying on deodorant. How about they erect a statue of a dancer spraying on deodorant (as it would be possible to misread that last sentence)?
Tomorrow, I will go to class (under)armed with a spray can of antiperspirant, a spice container filled with baking soda, pink tights (for good luck), two pairs of socks, two pairs of dry ballet shoes, and a towel. We’ll see how it goes.