Wednesday, April 14, 2010

22. Take a ballet class

A bunch of people have asked me why I haven't posted this one on my blog, since my friend and colleague, Crystal, and I have been taking beginning ballet since mid-January. There are several reasons, but probably the biggest is that this is the thing on my list that I'm the most self-conscious about. Ice climbing was scarier, but this one made me the most anxious because it combines two things I've always been horrible at -- anything athletic and anything remotely artistic or expressive.

All the classes, including ours, will participate in a performance on May 18. I was guiltily relieved to realize that I'm going to miss it because I will be arriving in the Dominican Republic that day with the rest of the Saint Mike's service team. So, I thought I'd go ahead and bring my camera in and do a post. My plan was to make Crystal trade off on snapping some pictures, but alas, she didn't come to class tonight. Happily, though, Jamie, a more advanced student from the class after ours (pictured here standing next to our teacher, Elizabeth) agreed to take some pictures during our last 20 minutes, and they're posted above with my everlasting gratitude to Jamie.

For anyone who, like me until very recently, has found ballet a strange and mysterious thing, I can at least fill you in how a beginner begins. Basically, it's about learning some simple moves and exercises, and a little bit of French. We begin each class with some stretching in a circle, and then go to the barre. You hold on with one hand and stand in rows learning how to move your feet, legs and arms in moves like demi and grandes plies (half and full bends)and eleves (rising up on the balls of your feet or toes) and releves (rising from a plie). After 20-30 minutes of exercises at the barre, we put the barres to the side and space ourselves out to try the exercises in front of the wall-length mirror and put them together with other moves like tombes and pas de bourrees, both kinds of traveling steps, and jumps and turns (I'm much better at the jumps than the turns so far). The last major set of exercises are usually ones where we cross the floor in lines doing easy (except for me) runs, simple traveling steps and jumps.

There's pretty much no chance that I have discovered a new aptitude. I'm not very flexible, my sense of timing is awful, and it takes me forever to memorize any sequence of steps. But with all that said, the class has been a great experience. First, it's been a chance to hang out with my friend Crystal once a week in an atmosphere that has nothing to do with our academic lives. Second, my teacher, Elizabeth, and fellow classmates are awesome. No one takes it too seriously, and I think we're all enjoying learning something new. And that part-- learning some new things -- has been pretty great, too. I may not have any particular talent for it, but if you stay with it, you can't help but improve, at least moderately. I can tell that the ballet is helping my figure skating, for which I have bit more natural aptitude, and that's a nice confirmation of something I'm always telling my students -- that learning is never wasted, and that the applications are everywhere, if we just remember to look.

So, if you think that the opportunity to do beginning ballet (or beginning anything for that matter) expired on your 10th birthday, I say think again. You only live once (if the monotheists are right, anyway). You might as well keep learning things as long as you can.

52 Ways to Say I love You
In Afrikaans, with thanks to my brother in law Brian's dad, Pat, for yet another bit of language research.

Hello Hallo

Good by Totsiens

I love you. Ek het jou lief.

May I have two beers, please? Miskien hek et twee biere asseblief?

Coming Attractions

Vermonster Eating. Wednesday, April 21 at 8:00 (note time change), the Saint Michael's Dominican Republic service trip group will be meeting up at Ben and Jerrie's to down a massive mound of ice cream. Guyana service group may be joining us!

Bird watching. My friend and colleague Kimberly, has agreed to lead an excursion, in the next two weeks, and Valerie is definitely in. It might be on a weekend morning, but is equally likely to be very early in the morning on a weekday, so if you're dying to get up and see some birds, let me know so I can keep you posted.

Camel's Hump hike in all four seasons (Spring). I pasted the verbatim description from my last post, because I liked the idea so much I just had to put it in again. Who wants to hike and hit Claire's afterwards? It's arguably the perfect late spring Vermont afternoon.
Here's the original description: At Pi Sigma Alpha, our political science honor society dinner last night Luke, Nigel, Josh H., my colleague Mike and I hatched a fabulous plan to combine two new things in the coming weeks. As soon as it's hike-able, a bunch of us are going to do the Camel's Hump spring hike and then head to Hardwick, Vermont to my favorite restaurant, Claire's, (and of which my colleague Mike is a part-owner) where I will do something I've been saying I'd do for over a year -- eat a dessert for dinner and a dessert for dessert. Fun times.

Auto maintenance. Nigel has offered to teach me to change a car tire and learn some basic auto mechanics this weekend if we can find a good time. I'd like to do it on Sunday but don't know if that works for him. I know Amanda and Lauren are interested, and a long time ago Nicole wanted to join in. Are you guys still in, and anyone else want to learn? (Sadly, postponed due to rain. I'm in New York City this coming weekend, so hopefully the one after...)


  1. daaaayyyyuuuummm Trish. You know how to work a leotard ;)

  2. What? No tutu? Lemme repeat my offer to bring a camera. (Thanks again for your help next week!)

  3. so amazing Trish! I am very proud of and inspired by you :)