The Bad Comes With the Good

Lately I’ve been feeling like I’ve taken such a huge step back in my dance progress due to my stamina issues. Last night I realized the I’m having stamina issues because I’ve progressed so far forward.

That might seem odd on the surface. Obviously, if I have been working hard at dance I would have developed a good fitness base and performing the moves would come easier for me, adding up to an easy slide through class.

What I discovered last night, though, was that all that adds up to an easier slide through a beginner-level class and beginner-level effort. But not only am I trying to perform more difficult moves, I’m working harder at perfecting them, which leads to running out of steam. It’s not that the moves have become easier, but rather that going through the motions has become easier and thus I am jumping harder, keeping my knees tighter, and focusing on getting up on and pointing my toes better and all of that takes way more effort than just trying to noodle-leg my way through a drill.

All the clicked last night because I finally, for the first time, performed a butterfly jump. The jump is similar to a cross key, except in the air. Cross keys have always been a favorite move of mine. They require turning in, and I’ve always been waaaay better at turn in than turn out! I couldn’t find a good gif, but here’s an attempt to show what the move looks like. It’s basically switching which foot is in front by doing a small jump, sliding down on your heels with toes touching, then sliding back up with feet switched.

So on to the butterfly, which requires doing that move with a jump (in the air). Flexed feet, turned in…the total opposite of Irish dance rules! But I finally nailed it. Below is a nice example of someone doing a butterfly.

Beyond that, I made it through my hard shoe (a great feat considering last Tuesday!) both in drills and in teams class. We had six people in teams so did the Duke Reel. If you haven’t done a proper sanctioned céili before, there are a few standard pieces: the lead around, the body, figures, and an ending. Usually we only do the body once in class, but the standard is to do the body in between all figures. We decided to be brave and properly dance the body in between the figures, so it was: lead around, body, figure 1, body, figure 2, body, ending. That’s four straight minutes of dance, and somehow we (a) all survived and (b) managed to both practice and dance straight through Warriors, which is two straight minutes of intense hard shoe that, after the initial two hornpipe steps, is a two step reel that continuously picks up speed (so basically two dances smooshed together, as Novice level dances are two steps long). Take a listen if you haven’t heard the music before. I do love the music and the dance, even though it destroys me. My part comes in at 1:05 in the linked music video.

It’s supposed to snow tonight, but I’m hoping it will hold off being too much so that I can make my class. After last week’s burn out, I’m hoping to make a better showing tonight.


Staying With It through the Home Stretch

The universe doesn’t want me to train, I’m convinced. Not right now, anyway.

It’s been difficult to stick with my already scaled-back training. I’ve been having some weird physical symptoms that make me feel nervous (I’m the “slight pain = cancer” type) and lethargic. These are most likely physical manifestations of anxiety, but it’s been a bad week.

For the most part I’ve been sticking to a reduced-calorie diet and seeing the results slowly but surely, which I’m sure will help all aspects of my well-being. I took my drills, teams, and solo classes for Irish last week, skipped champ class, and took ballet. No running last Sunday but that was for the best with how I was feeling.

Drills and teams night is always tough, but I had my worst time in solo class last Tuesday.


Turns out this is not sufficient to prevent foot pain and blisters.

I have a perma-blister/callous on my left heel from my hard shoes that just won’t let me be great, and I get very very winded very very easily. It will take time to overcome, but in the meantime it feels pretty demoralizing.

Ballet was tough too. We have a substitute teacher while the regular teacher is knee-deep in Nutcracker rehearsals. On one hand, it’s very helpful to have different teachers as their different style, methods, or class objectives may speak to you more than your regular teacher, and something may “click”. On the other hand, doing things different = hard! We did a lot of 5th (or 3rd, if you prefer) position which was great for me because Irish, but we also did a lot more arms which is impossible for me, because Irish. After my disastrous arms and trying to keep up with the fastest rond de jambe’s (1 count for a full circle instead of our normal 2), we did a waltz step in center that was just beyond me. But I learned some nice things about turn out mechanics, and our reverance at the end was jumps in 5th…which was very similar to Irish switching jumps! I was all about that.

The title mentions home stretch, and I do hope I’m in it. We close on our house on Thursday, will do a few updates before I take off for Christmas, then I should be moving in the first week of January. Back to my hobbies after that – meaning dance training resumes in force!