(Apologies for the long absence. Work has gone through an upheaval and I've been very busy! But I am still skating!!)
In an effort to improve my flexibility, turnout, and choreographic processing skills, I decided to try a dance class. Most of the people in our rink go to a dance studio right up the road, and just my luck, there is an Adult Modern Beginner class on a weekday evening. I had my first try last week.
I was a little nervous, but figured how bad could I be. I got into my stretchy pants and best Alex from Flashdance getup, headed out into our weirdly warm winter evening and hoped I wouldn't be too terribly awkward. Remember, it takes me awhile to process movements. I went up to the desk, and was greeted warmly. "Oh, yes, that's a great class," said the desk person, wearing dance clothes herself. There was a long awkward pause.
"Do you need payment?" I asked finally. "Any information?"
"Yes, the computer is slow," she sighed.
Being a trusting person, I tossed her my ID and credit card, and headed back to the studio. Studio 4. I ran into some other adults taking the class, some who were longtime dancers, and some newbies like me.
The class ahead of us filtered out, all lithe and willowy kids in dance gear, and we adults wandered in. It was a typical dance studio; long mirror on one wall, barres on the other wall. A piano, marley floor, a box of random props. And I was in it!
The instructor came in, introduced herself to us and set up at the mirror. We paced through a few short routines, which I did with varying degress of success. I had a hard time with extension, and turning, which I expected and I kept reminding myself, "This is why you are here." In some ways I was glad to see that it wasn't just on the ice, it translated off the ice, too. I learned a few awkward ballet moves, and I had to smile when we did an arabesque and I saw my foot come up above my head. "No, no," the instructor came to correct me. "Head down, make a straight line with your body."
I tried it, but it seemed really weird. We did some neat kicks and leans and it was all terribly fun, even if I was having problems. "You're trying, I can see that," the instructor was trying to be complementary of my efforts. At one point she turned my whole upper body outwards in a leaning thing and I discovered new muscles in my ribcage.
Then we tried some running and jumping steps. "Run, Run, Run, jump up (ballet jump, ok) then turn around (Like a half flip, ok) Run back, back, and spin," she explained. Okay this seemed easiest so far, and I had it okay, until she tried to make us go the other way. And I had to try and jump and spin the other way. I could not do it. My body stubbornly jumped up and spun to the right. "Go the other way," she tried to gently correct. "Turn to the back wall, not the mirror."
"I can't! I don't turn that way!" I was really trying.
Then we tried the final routine, which she said was the hardest. Lots of plies, and roundy leg things, roundy leg behind you into an arabesque, then plie/lunge, "And then we do a handstand," she showed us a small handstand. "Then leg behind and start again."
"Wait a minute," I bit my lip. "This is the beginner class, right?"
"Just try it, you don't have to go all the way up."
"Don't worry." But I did try it. I was fine on my good leg, but my bad hamstring refused to let me get up off the ground, and I didn't want to push him.
We ended with a lovely stretching routine, and at the end of the class I was sore and exhilarated. I explained to the instructor that I was a skater, and was here to improve my skills, and there was a valid reason I had trouble turning to my left. "Yes, that explains a lot," she smiled at me. "Will we see you next time?"
Yes, absolutely, and next time I will wear dance shoes. The next morning I nursed a coffee and several milligrams of ibuprofin and watched Flashdance.