Friday, 14 May 2010

Isn't it great when things work out for the best?

I have a job! It's the job I wanted (even several posts ago) and I couldn't be happier.

Yesterday my boss took me to one side to tell me that he was extending my contract. He'd agonised over telling me as I had another interview today and he didn't want to stop me from interviewing. My opinion of him has gone through the roof over his whole approach to this. Most people would have advised against (or even insisted I retract) going for the new job, but he made it a condition of offering me an extension on my contract. I feel I really have a boss who is looking out for me for the best. How lovely was that?!

I didn't get the job today, but I am so so pleased I didn't. I did my best, and I am proud of what I did, but it would have been such a wrench to drag myself away from my wonderful colleagues and a job that I love to start afresh. If I had got the job, I would have felt compelled to do so for my professional development, but I didn't, so I get to consolidate, enjoy and settle down for a year. I am SO pleased!

I was so sad that I didn't get the job a week ago, but things have worked out. I could sing with joy I'm so happy!

So happy, in fact, I'm going to try on some new pointe shoes tomorrow! Yay!

Monday, 10 May 2010

My feet and perfect pointe shoes

I promised Madeline that I would post a picture of my feet for her perusal, so here it is. I always thought I had a square toe, but I may be mistaken. They look pretty tired as I've been on my feet all day, so this is probably them at their most swollen/flabby looking, but you may be able to help me identify my toe type, which, in turn, might help me on my new quest: to buy a new pair of pointe shoes.

A couple of weeks ago I trimmed my toenails far too short and my pointe class was PAINFUL as a result. I cursed myself, and thought nothing more of it, but since then, I've been thinking more about the fit of my pointes, and that, although they are pretty, I really don't think they're the best ones for my feet. I have a really small (probably compressible) bone structure, and at the moment, my shoes (bloch serenades) feel like they're just not supporting my feet. My metatarsals feel like they're taking all my weight and although I was able to pull up and out when they were new, the shank feels like it's not supporting my foot anymore. It certainly isn't hugging my arch as I would like it to, even when I'm on pointe, I feel like my entire foot is only being supported from the demi-pointe region.

Look at the picture of my foot on pointe, and where the shank arches, my arch sits about half a centimetre above that, which is really frustrating! My dance teacher has suggested I try 3/4 shank pointes as she had this problem and needed something that really pushed into her arches to help her to lift out. I've been looking and the grishko proflex with 3/4 shank looks ideal. I come up really quite narrow in the grishko (just an x) though and the local dance store needs to order me some in. Has anyone had any experience of Grishkos - a friend has them and they seem very loud to me, but then I've heard people say that about blochs (and mine are very quiet).

It's all either a) very exciting, or b) very frustrating if this is the beginning of my perfect pointe journey.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

(Thank goodness for the) Meditative benefits of ballet

Tomorrow's a big day for me, not ballet wise, but I have a job interview that means a lot to me. It's for the place where I already work, so there's a lot at stake, and there are no certainties as there are 2 internal candidates for 1 post and they're interviewing 5 people (not to mention it starts at 9am and doesn't finish until 4pm). To put it bluntly, it's really very stressful, and a horrible situation to be in.

I was going to forgo my ballet class this evening in favour of preparation for said interview (I have been preparing most of the weekend) but I am so glad I didn't. Two hours of technique work later and I feel so much better than I could have imagined; cleansed, more balanced and everything in perspective where it wasn't before. I worked so hard today, there was no brain space to think about ANYTHING but turning out/pulling up/lengthening. Even if I do say so myself, I actually did really well today. I picked up all the combinations, and responded well to some general corrections; I felt focused and empowered to be able to change and I could feel the difference in my dancing.

Although not exactly meditation, I can't imagine an hour of meditation could have been more useful to my state of mind (or my technique). The only thing left then, is to hope that this new focus and confidence lasts me through tomorrow and the interview day! Wish me luck!

Sunday, 2 May 2010

The Cuban National Ballet does Giselle (and I see Alicia Alonso in real life!)

Oh my goodness, please forgive my gushing whilst I just repeat my title. I saw Alicia Alonso. Live. On stage. The dancers brought her on at the end. Replete with headscarf and red lipstick. Live. For real. Wow! Wow! Wow!

Now we've got that out of the way with (I kind of feel a little like I would have done had I ever seen Margot Fontein!), I will say, I was also totally blown away by their Giselle. There was so much passion, it was so alive and the dancing so beautiful I don't know where to begin. So I shall begin with the ballet itself. I've never seen Giselle before and I didn't really know what to expect but I shouldn't have worried. The precision and clarity of the dancing didn't detract from the story, and I really felt that as much as they danced the roles, the dancers really acted. Passionately and realistically, with all of their hearts. Sometimes I am wowed by the dancing but I don't always believe the dancer IS the character, but I couldn't fault the dancers' (Annette Delgado and Javier Torres in the lead roles) commitment to character. Their eyes spoke the words they couldn't say, and their bodies pulsed with the rhythm of emotion beyond the tempo of the dance.

Mr Ballerina (as I have been instructed to stop referring to him as my husband (as it makes him sound too old and sensible, apparently) - this will be my new name for him, or rather, Mr. B) said, "It was the most beautiful ballet I've ever seen. Especially the Wilis!" And I have to agree. The whole of the second act was utterly mesmerising, the dancing beautiful and I loved the Wilis too. I thought they moved so seamlessly together, and by turns were both sinister and magical: moving in and out of formation as if controlled by some higher force. It took my breath away..!

My last comment, really, links more to my own experience of ballet. One of the things that I loved most about BNC doing Giselle was that their technique was so clean, so musical and spoke so clearly of the story that they did what many great experts (of anything) are able to do, which is make it look beautifully simple and effortless. It was, perhaps, the first time I have watched a ballet and have been able to identify the steps, how they are put into sequences and how they are danced and feel that I could, with practise, perform the same. Clearly I am completely deluded, as I could never perform with the perfection and precision the BNC did, but it's a nice thought...

Saturday, 1 May 2010

A ballet filled day

Just a quick one - I'm about to go to my Saturday ballet lesson. Who knows what will be in store today. The teens have all completed their exam so I'm just going to go with the flow and see what happens. There was talk of a carnival...

More exciting, then, is the fact that I'm going to see the Cuban National Ballet (Ballet Nacional de Cuba) dance Giselle at the Birmingham Hippodrome tonight. I've never seen Giselle, so I'm really excited, but I'm even more excited that I get to see the Cuban ballet since I've been desperate to see them since I saw the documentary about the Royal Ballet in Cuba at Christmas.

I shall review (or pass comment, at least) here in the next few days!!