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re: diary of a sparkly kid
By SeniorLadyPremium member
On Mon Nov 18, 2013 09:39 AM
After a totally brutal and not-welcomed 5am wakeup call followed by a boring hour-long wait at the walk-in clinic (which had only been open for 13 minutes when I walked in, sigh), I’m now in possession of a bizarre and decidedly-not-helpful diagnosis of “abnormal foot pain” as well as an appointment for an x-ray, a referral for physiotherapy, and some advice I’ll largely ignore about reducing the amount of dancing I do each week. The doctor was admittedly puzzled as I described my persistent pain and its onset as well as how much it hurts and when it hurts and where it hurts. He pushed and pulled and twisted my foot for a really long time and eventually admitted that he didn’t really know what was going on because there didn’t appear to be anything actually wrong with it, though he was able to find the most painful and sensitive spot just above my ankle near the top of my foot almost instantly, which leads me to believe there is some sort of broken-down-dancer epidemic all over the city: “Mysterious Foot Pain Strikes Again: Feet Deemed Abnormal Leave Physicians Puzzled.” ANYWAY. I will dutifully go and get an x-ray done, although I already know it won’t reveal much (if it even reveals anything at all), and I’ll make an appointment, or many appointments if my aches and pains warrant them, to see a physiotherapist. I may even begrudgingly dance less, if such a thing is even fathomable. I figure there are quite a few dance things I can accomplish while physically dancing less, including: studying for my exam; thinking of ways to improve last year’s group choreography so that it can be even better when my dancers compete in this year; helping two of my advanced students choreograph a duet, though they are certainly more than capable of doing the work themselves; and searching out even better and cooler performance opportunities for our group. I can do all these things from my couch, which, incidentally, is where I spent most of yesterday. I did manage to accomplish quite a bit this weekend including cooking big batches of an assortment of healthy meals to get me through the week (especially tasty is a whole wheat pasta with crispy kale, sundried tomatoes, bacon, cheese, and Brussels sprouts as well as an avocado purée and a super flaky salmon filet baked in lemon and a Za’atar spice mix that was an impulse buy for no discernible reason). I baked cookies too, stemming from another impulse purchase -- I really can’t be trusted in a grocery store without a list.

On this week’s agenda, I’ve got teaching tonight, but my SO is coming to work with my students, so I’m hoping to get a couple of administrative tasks done, followed by a dance class of my own. Tomorrow’s I’ve got the night off for dancing followed by a class on Wednesday to work on some choreography with my duet partner. I teach on Thursday and Saturday, and then I’m off to a nearby city for a day trip on Sunday. Somewhere in there I plan to tackle some Christmas gift-giving: I’d really like to enjoy the holidays hassle-free this year, so I need to get a head start.

Comment #10154800 deleted
Edited by SeniorLady (72324) on 2013-11-18 12:55:40 double post
Removed by Sumayah (204191) on 2013-11-18 12:57:19 What double post? :D

re: diary of a sparkly kid
By SeniorLadyPremium member
On Thu Nov 28, 2013 12:29 PM
I had a mostly successful first visit with my physiotherapist, Faithful Reader, where after a careful examination of my little injured foot, she assessed that the bigger issue was my calf muscle, which I could have sworn felt totally fine until she started massaging it, digging her fingers inside the muscle and pointing out all the various kinks and knots that shouldn’t be in there and how they were affecting the muscles in my foot and impacting their range of motion and consequently causing pain. I did a few diagnostics tests to measure the stretch (average) and flexibility (slightly above average) of my muscles as well as my strength (passable) and balance (abysmal). I have a series of stretching and strengthening exercises that I have to do, which I did yesterday and will do again today (and dutifully every other day until my next appointment). My physiotherapist also suggested a dry needling technique, which is a little bit like acupuncture but significantly less soothing, with no fluffy spa towels or meditation music playing overhead. In layman’s terms, which is how she explained it to me, needles are used to stimulate a muscle, causing it to twitch, releasing some kind of helpful chemical, and aiding in its recovery. Basically, she stuck a needle into my calf muscle and sort of jiggled it around for a bit, and it really, really hurt. I’m certainly not impervious to pain or anything, but holy cow did I ever not enjoy that. She did it twice on two areas she felt were especially problematic, and then she asked if I wanted her to tackle a third bigger and even more problematic one, and I said no because honestly? There are only so many times I can stand to have the inside of my leg jabbed at with a needle. ANYWAY, I’m super motivated to do my PT exercises now because the more I help my broken calf on my own, the less likely it is to necessitate any more needling in the future. (Dance teachers take note: this could be an excellent motivator for class! “Ok, ok, I’m practicing my hornpipe! Seriously, stop chasing me with those!!”)

In Highland, most of our time now will be dedicated to working on various choreographies for a competition in the new year. I’m doing a duet and a trio and have started to learn both. My duet partner, who is also 1/3 of our trio, and I have similar dancing and learning styles: we are long-legged people with pointy feet who learn slowly with no particular methodology that we’re aware of. Instead, we need a lot of repetition at snail speed until the movements are firmly embedded in our feet and brains. The third dancer in our trio is physically much stronger than we are with the brain of scientist -- she learns and dances differently, so it will be interesting to see how we get on with this dance. She wasn’t there last night when we started working on the dance, which was probably for the best: we got stuck on a particular sequence that happens four bars in and spent a good portion of the class trying to sound it out. ONE (step). TWO (change). THREE (step). FOUR (wait). I’m excited for both dances though, ‘cause I think they’ll look pretty awesome when we’ve mastered them. I’m working on a few modifications to the group piece my adults will be performing too, and I like the changes so far, but there is one section I want to change in its entirety, and I haven’t had any strokes of genius just yet. I just know that I want it to be quick, lively, and jiggy, know what I mean?

In life news, I think the Boy and I might be buying a car tomorrow. Then I just have to learn to drive it.
re: diary of a sparkly kid
By SeniorLadyPremium member
On Fri Dec 06, 2013 02:10 PM
So it turns out, Faithful Reader, that dutifully doing one’s PT exercises every day, stretching, rolling uncomfortably on a tennis ball, dancing less, and frequent trips to the microwave to heat up a magic bag does not result in fewer needles in your calf muscle -- it will actually result in MORE. Seven of them, to be exact. I asked my PT if there was anything more I could do to speed up the process because I really, really, really do not enjoy the trigger point dry needling at all. I don’t think it’s too much to ask, is it, not having things stuck in my legs? But she said no! She said I had to focus on healing the muscle first before any work could be done to strengthen it and prevent any more injuries, gah.

(By the way, you won’t catch me reluctantly admitting that my leg might actually feel better, even after just two weeks, nuh-uh, nope.)

I’m getting increasingly worried about my dancers’ group piece because it went from a piece for six dancers to one for five, and now it’s up to eight. Not knowing who’s fully committed is stressing me, so up until now, I’ve just been focussing on teaching the steps to a dancer who is completely new to the piece as well as reworking one or two spots I don’t think worked too well last time. Next Tuesday, I’ll start working with three other dancers who have never been taught this piece before, and hopefully I can bring everyone up to at least the halfway point before we break for the holidays. It won’t be much of a break for me, however; I already feel way behind on my Christmas gift buying/making. This evening, I’ve got to pick up a gift for my grandmother (her usual, a calendar of angels for her kitchen) and gifts for my niece and nephew (likely vinyl -- I’m not done foisting my musical tastes on my brother’s offsprings). Then I need to stop by the post office to pick up a package, write cards, do a bit of baking, do some laundry, and finish a gift for a friend. Tomorrow I’m taking my little knitting project on the road as I accompany a student to a competition (I’m actually pretty excited at having something productive to do between my student’s dances), and then I’ll be off to a performance. Sunday is my so-called “rest day” -- I’ll be buying groceries and cleaning my house, the usual.

When will I have time to rest, you ask? Well, it turns out I probably won’t.
re: diary of a sparkly kid
By SeniorLadyPremium member
On Tue Feb 04, 2014 12:49 PM
I don't want my unloved journal to lock itself again as a result of my laziness towards it, so here is a little list of things I've been grateful for in 2014 so far.

--coffee, obviously, especially my usual venti nonfat blonde misto from Starbucks.

--the fact that I can always justify watching "just one more" cat video on the internet.

--my little students, young and old, who continue to amaze me with their hard work and dedication and willingness to be thrown on stage in all sorts of bizarre new situations.

--the person with no shady or ulterior motives (that I'm aware of) who complimented my rhythm the other day, which I will concede is much-improved now that I've joined the Big Kid Step Class and am very obviously the worst one in it and since my Irish dance teacher decided to not only make us all do an a capella piece but to make me wear shoes with jingly taps a.k.a the loudest shoes ever, and both these things have scared me into paying attention and practicing because whenever I can't keep up at step class, my teacher makes my 10-year-old classmate demonstrate, and whenever I stomp out of line in the group piece, a classmate pointedly turns and makes a disapproving face at my feet, as if she could somehow will them to dance on time (wish she could, but nope). So I'll take all the compliments I can get.

--my husband for taking up new hobbies and spending more time out of the house (enough that I don't have to feel guilty about not being at home either).

--any time the weather reaches single digits before windchill (-6C? HEATWAVE).

--the time I accidentally nailed lowcutting to music, which I have yet to replicate, but the hope is there.

Happy Chinese New Year, Faithful Reader. Sorry I missed the other one.
re: diary of a sparkly kid
By SeniorLadyPremium member
On Wed Feb 26, 2014 12:59 PM
I’m taking another self-imposed hiatus from Highland dancing, this time because I’m determined to spend less time at the studio and more time doing other things, whatever those may be; between our big competition weekend, a performance with my Irish class, and my commitment to a local theatre company, I’ve had no time to even think about other things—in fact, I think I wore myself out in the worst possible way: with a debilitating cold that I staved off just long enough to compete and that’s still around more than a week later, like a well-meaning but annoying friend. What started as a headache that I attributed to stress and largely ignored morphed into a scratchy throat, a raspy voice, a runny nose, and a persistent cough. I’m still coughing today! This sickness has been a complete nuisance—as most of them are, of course—and I’m sure I’m not helping my case by trying to ACCOMPLISH ALL THE THINGS. So I’m doing fewer things, kind of.

The competition weekend went well. I’m not particularly happy with how I danced, though I felt that I was as prepared as I could have been. Being sick didn’t help; I spent most of the weekend in a fog and found it difficult to find a rhythm and actually concentrate. I made a lot of uncharacteristic mistakes. The judge had a clear preference for traditional, straight-up highland choreographies, which I know worked to my advantage: I appreciate (and often prefer) dances that show a bit more creativity and incorporate music and dance styles that aren’t totally traditional, but when it comes to my own dancing, I don’t think I’m versatile enough to do that, and that’s fine; when a piece is choreographed for me, it’s all flowing lines and pointed toes because that’s what I do best. I watched a video of my duet, and I can see why my partner and I work so well together: we have similar body types and dancing styles, and we’ve been dancing together for so many years now that we always know where the other is on stage, so it looks good no matter what. ANYWAY, the tl:dr version is that I don’t necessarily think I had the best technique or the most visually-interesting and crowd-pleasing choreos or even the best showings that weekend, but the judge liked what she saw, and I’ll leave it at that. I was really proud of my dancers though—they performed their group piece the best they had ever done it. It was so great to see them looking genuinely happy and confident onstage, and the judge gave them really positive feedback afterwards too. I’ll be sorry to see this little choreo go, but it’s time to move on. They need something different. The adult broadswords looked great too. They really pulled it together at the last minute, and it was so nice to see them working as a team, encouraging each other, and ultimately performing well. I was a proud dance momma.

With that weekend come and gone, it’s back to the daily grind: I teach Mondays, Thursdays, and every second Saturday, and I’m excited about those classes. I have a new dancer in my Monday-night class, someone who is getting back into it after a nearly 15-year absence. She’s got a great attitude and looks to be a hard worker—and she has natural turnout that’s kinda to die for. I love when enthusiastic dancers come my way. The Saturday class is a mixed-level class with dancers working on bronze through Blue Riband, but they all have some experience and work well independently, so they’re a great bunch to teach. I’m excited to bring them all together for a choreography for our recital! In addition to teaching, I also have my own dancing, of course, though with my Highland Hiatus, I hope there’ll be less of it: I have Irish on Mondays (memo to self: practice hornpipe) and step on Tuesdays, but no other class, and that’s kind of refreshing. I’m doing choreography for a theatre company, and I’ve been really enjoying that. The choreo is really quite charming, and they’ve all impressed me with their efforts. Most are non-dancers, although there is one woman who is 67 and from Ukraine who made it a point to teach me a few steps of the Ukrainian dancing she did as a child. There is another woman whose presentation is just lovely: when the cast performs their waltz, she looks like she’s in a Disney movie. I complimented her on it, and she said, “I’m putting on airs!” There are a lot of rehearsals, however; they’re keeping me busy. I’ve managed to get out of next Monday’s though, so I’ll be going to my Irish class (other memo to self: maybe practice reel too). Although I liked working on choreo for our performance, I prefer working on dances in class (not just in Irish but in Highland as well), so it’ll be nice to do that again. Step dance is keeping me busy too: I like being in the big kid class because I definitely work harder when I’m dancing alongside others who are better than me, and this particular class works out in my favour because my classmates are always late, so for the past few weeks, I’ve been getting super helpful (albeit brief) private lessons as they’re rushing through the door. We just finished learning a clog/jig/reel routine, and now we’ve moved on to a choreo (I think this might be my teacher’s default setting for “I don’t really know what to teach you next”). We learned the first step of this choreo last night, and I had moment of triumph when I got it right away … not because I’m suddenly a much better learner but because I’m a not-exactly-closeted seannetta fangirl and have been watching her do the same step in one of her dances for the past few weeks, so I was, like, “I know exactly what that step looks and sounds like—I got this.” Anyway, it was a nice little moment for me because a classmate had said, just a few minutes earlier, that there was no need for our teacher to break down the step because it was so short we could just learn it in one go (me: LOL NO SNAIL SPEED PLS), and then she struggled with it and had to write it down and recorded our teacher dancing it and ultimately came over and asked me to help her with her rhythm, and I definitely don’t have enough feel-good moments when it comes to dance forms involving shoes that make noise, so my feet and I are pretty pleased. Fangirling pays off, people.
re: diary of a sparkly kid
By SeniorLadyPremium member
On Wed Apr 30, 2014 07:42 AM
Edited by SeniorLady (72324) on 2014-04-30 07:44:57
Well it certainly has been a long time, Faithful Reader; my little unloved diary has grown dusty with disuse. Thanks to a mod for unlocking it from its stupor – again. I promise to try to try remember to take better care of it this time.

A lot happened in the weeks since I last updated, both good and bad, but I won’t bore you with most of the details. I won’t chronicle all of my aches and pains, although there are many (I will, however, ask that someone please, please remind me to go to the clinic and get a new prescription for physio because I need my left leg massaged and prodded and perhaps entirely replaced). I won’t tell you about all the things I’m NOT doing, all the PT exercises I skip “just this once”, all the classes I talk myself out of going to, and all the practicing I never get around to accomplishing. I did get momentarily inspired to practice after a friend, who is new to Irish dance, asked me to demonstrate something for her, and I had to sheepishly admit I still couldn’t do it after years of trying, and I was further inspired by watching the adult-centric episode of Jigs & Wigs (like there really is no reason I can’t dance my new reel step to music when there is a 50-year-old out there recalling at the All-Irelands). I know I complain about my rhythm and timing often, but I can honestly say that it’s so much better now than it has been in the past, and I definitely credit Irish and step dance for that. It’s not particularly difficult for me to dance on time in Highland where the most complicated step, rhythm-wise, isn’t necessarily that complicated. Before, I couldn’t tell when I was dancing off-time, and I never really understood how steps fit to music, but now I can do both of those things (being able to tell when you’re off time is an especially useful skill to have, by the way, which probably took me longer than most to discover). My Irish teacher is really good about counting things out for me (and patiently explaining the same thing 800 different ways -- THANK YOU). My step dance teacher is so chill she just keeps telling me to worry about getting the movements first before trying to make them fit to music; I’ve tried explaining to her that I just want to know what a step sounds like without music, nevermind dancing it at whatever impossible speed it’s supposed to be performed at -- You know what’s deceptive? Swing steps. They’re like a little jaunt in the park when you’re practicing without music, and then the music comes on, and it’s, like, WHAT IS THIS CRAZY VOODOO? My step class is an odd mix: besides me, there is also a young dancer who has an ear for rhythm and can get his feet to replicate any sound instantly, and his mother, who doesn’t learn as quickly and can’t perform as well as he does, but who works incredibly hard and comes to class every week better than she was the week before. I have noticed though, that while I’m always the one struggling to keep up when the music is fast, whenever we run through our dances more slowly, I definitely fare much better than my classmates. I think slow music is less intuitive for some dancers because it leaves you with too much time to think, but I need all the time in the world for my brain to send signals to my feet. I think that’s why I haven’t been able to dance that reel step to music: my brain is saying more things than my feet can keep up with in the time the music allows. So now my brain is thinking of fewer things, which seems to help, and I’ve found that I don’t have to add filler skips to make the ending fit to music if I just take more time on my leap … so I guess some sort of core-strengthening shenanigans are in order, like planking in my living room so I don’t have to stop watching my television.

I was thinking recently that it had been a while since I’d had to learn anything new, step wise, because after a certain point, the focus of Highland moves from learning new steps to learning new ways to perfect old steps. This is why I’ve been wanting to get my hands on old text books and books from other associations because I know there are many more dances out there that we’re not teaching our dancers because they’re not included in the exam syllabus or danced in competition. But anyway, yesterday I learned a swing step, three twostep steps, a hornpipe step, two treble jig steps, and parts of an Irish set. Add to that the piece I choreographed for my adults and the 64-bar Highland solo I choreographed for myself (for my step dance recital, obviously), and I’d say there’s probably enough in my brain to keep me busy for a while.
re: diary of a sparkly kid
By SeniorLadyPremium member
On Mon May 12, 2014 09:55 AM
I thought I should start this update on a happy note because I’m sure, Faithful Reader, that you can’t be bothered to read another word about my bum hip, my temperamental knee, and my rapidly-deteriorating arches (other forbidden topics include my wonky timing, my made-up rhythms, and my reel-steps-induced ADHD, ha), so I’ll spare you all of that for a paragraph or two at least. This weekend, the Boy and I traveled to a nearby city for a semblance of a vacation (a true vacation, of course, involves time away from home and time not spent at work), the highlight of which was me accidentally purchasing a pair of $300 boots -- and by accidentally I mean I accidentally looked them up online before leaving, accidentally made note of the store hours, accidentally mapped out the address, and accidentally planned our shopping route to take us there first. (I’d like to point out that I not only have awesome taste in shoes, but I’m also super fiscally responsible, like I totally checked my bank account beforehand to make sure I could buy the boots and still be able to pay for the 9000 hours of physio I need for my gimpy leg, which I know I promised not to bore you about, so I’ll just very briefly touch upon the fact just because your Dr. Marten’s are “orthopedic” doesn’t mean you should walk 13k in them).

Other fun weekend highlights: we made friends with an adorably fluffy dog who broke free from his owner, ran across an entire park, and ambushed us for cuddles; I bought ridiculous cat-print leggings for no reason; I reached gold status with my Starbucks card, which is just a fancy way for people who drink too much Starbucks to pretend like they’re not consumer whores; and I finally figured out my e-reader and downloaded my first e-book, a Newsflesh novella by Mira Grant because ZOMBIES, like a proper member of the 21st century.

This week, I’ve got a bit more dance scheduled than I’d like, with classes I’m teaching tonight and Thursday and classes I’m taking tonight and tomorrow, plus I’m filling in for a friend’s teaching exam on Friday and have to be at the studio Saturday morning and all day Sunday to help guide my students through their exams. I also need to finish choreographing a recital dance for my adults, and I need to finalise details for a summer gig I might be taking my performance group to. I’ve also got a couple of social engagements this week as well, on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and while I like pretending I’m a social butterfly with a busy calendar, I’m still suspiciously eyeing my dwindling free time -- when am I going to sit on my couch? That’s a to-do list item of its own, of course: buy groceries, choreograph dance, sit on couch.
re: diary of a sparkly kid
By SeniorLadyPremium member
On Thu May 15, 2014 12:36 PM
I do love warm weather. My friend and I are currently scouting out possible summer vacation spots in warm climates, the exact opposite of what most people choose to do in the summer months (Miami in August? Yes please!) In a past life, I was likely a reptile, probably some sort of lizard with a sloth-like disposition sunning itself on a flat rock in the Arizona desert. I hate it, however, when my office is a stuffy sticky mess -- I hate coming in from the hot outdoors to even hotter temperatures indoors. Where 30C buoys my spirits when I’m enjoying heat under clear blue skies, it has the opposite effect when I’m spending seven hours at a desk under the glare of fluorescent lights -- like I’m doing right now, and it’s making me miserable.

Aside from the greenhouse-like climate inside my workspace, I’m having a pretty good week. Every so often I revert back to not being able to focus on any one dance form because there is too much going on in my brain: I’ll mistakenly apply a correction I’m given in one class to another or will use technique that’s really only appropriate for one dance form in one where it has no place at all, for example. (My Irish teachers are always telling me to cross my feet more, but over the last couple of weeks, my step dance teacher has repeatedly commented on my steps looking decidedly crossed and “Irish” -- I’ve even caught myself using the word “treble” when describing a new step to a classmate this week.) Anyway, I like to liken this newfound confusion to learning a new language and the period where you really can’t speak either all that well -- and I attribute it to the fact that I’m learning lots of new things at once. It keeps my aging brain sharp, ha.

Meanwhile, my aging body is getting a workout of its own with physio appointments and exercises. I call one exercise “the beached whale” because it makes me feel like one: it’s really just massaging a particular muscle on a foam roller, and I’ve watched others doing this and looking graceful, but there must be some sort of technique I haven’t quite mastered yet because I’m just getting an unwanted upper-body workout while I try to roll out that one muscle that you find when you’re leaning precariously on your thigh halfway between your side and your stomach. (I would also personally like to smack everyone who has ever told me that a foam roller would “feel really nice” because it doesn’t; in fact, it actually hurts more than the dancing that injured me in the first place.) Other things I’m meant to be doing: being mindful of workplace ergonomics (this is my preferred working stance, and it is most definitely not allowed -- my PT asked if I had a footrest, and I said yes but omitted the part where my footrest is actually just a laptop under my desk I’ve been propping my feet on), standing up like a normal human (that’s a matter of moving my pelvis about a inch, and while I’m sure the difference isn’t discernible to the untrained eye, to me it feels like the most unnatural thing in the world), massaging my butt on tennis ball, and going to regular PT appointments where I’m continuously discovering muscles I didn’t even know I had. I certainly never thought they could all hurt.

This weekend is our dance exams and despite the fact that each one of my students is as prepared as they’re going to be, I can’t help but feel a little nervous about the outcome. I’m seeing some of them tonight and am going to try to hammer in a couple of last-minute corrections if I can. After that, it’s all up to them, isn’t it? Gah, my babies are all grown up!
re: diary of a sparkly kid
By SeniorLadyPremium member
On Fri May 23, 2014 01:45 PM
Can we all just take a moment to appreciate the fact that, although I’ve been dancing for approximately 97 years now, the moment someone suggests I do 60 single leg calf raises, I suddenly forget what I’ve known since I was barely a year old, and that’s the very act of remaining upright? This is me, doing calf raises:

* does one * This sucks.
* does a second * I hate my life.
* does a third * Why am I not eating ice cream right now?
* does a tenth * I’m dying.
* does a twentieth * Call the funeral parlour because I’m actually dying.
* does a fiftieth * I died, and now I’m in hell, and my penance for a lifetime of sin is more calf raises.
* does a sixty-fifth * I LOST TRACK I DID TOO MANY THIS IS THE WORST THING THAT COULD HAVE EVER HAPPENED EVER.

I’d like to point out, Faithful Reader, that I brought this on myself by dutifully doing the previous set of exercises assigned to me by my PT and showing up at my next appointment only to be told, after I had demonstrated all of them, that they were too easy for me and should be progressed to something harder. I do not support progress, by the way, especially not when it means lying on my living room floor with a ball between my knees and my pelvis up in the air trying to lift one foot off the floor (“trying” is the operative word -- it turns out my bum muscles are really only developed in one area, and that’s supporting the rest of me on my couch). I’m meant to be doing 60 reps of that exercise too -- 30 with each leg -- and last night I managed about seven. So, um, yeah. GO TEAM.

In happier news, my students all have their muscles in order, and they used them to reach an unprecedented number of honours and highly commended marks on their exams last week. I was really pleased with how well they all did, especially my newest student whose dancing I was particularly worried about given how few classes she had been too and a persistent foot injury she had sustained last year. Her Seann Triubhas was the best she had ever danced it though, and the examiner seemed really pleased afterwards. She gave lovely, positive, and constructive comments to all even telling my most advanced student that her dancing was very pleasing and commending her for her good effort. She was very impressed by that student’s knowledge of theory too, saying she was very well spoken and had an excellent understanding of the theory. So now I can relax because that period of intense craziness is over … but of course I won’t get to relax too much longer because it’s nearly June, and that means ALL THE RECITAL PLANNING! I’ve choreographed a piece for all 10 of my adults that I think is simple enough that even my newest dancer will be able to do it but still visually interesting for the audience. My biggest challenge right now is getting all 10 dancers together to rehearse, ‘cause I’m not great at visualising.

This weekend, I’m going to attempt a 5k run (well, I’m going to do more than just attempt it, actually, since it’s a proper race that I paid to sign up for, but I haven’t exactly been training to run either, so the jury is still out on whether it will be an actual run or just a bit of a lively waddle), and I’ve got a dance performance as well, so I’ll be busy but hopefully not too busy. I need to keep exercising my bum, you know, by continuing to sit on it.
re: diary of a sparkly kid
By SeniorLadyPremium member
On Tue May 27, 2014 12:00 PM
Recital progress: two of my dancers now know the entire dance; four know a little less than half; and three have learned about a quarter. I’m seeing the 10th tomorrow to get her caught up, but I feel pretty good about this piece. One dancer is struggling a little, which I expected (although I tried to make the piece as easy as possible while still being interesting from the audience’s perspective); she’s a dancer whose circumstances dictate that she can only attend class once a week, and she very much prefers traditional dances to choreographies, so I’m a bit worried that she might not have it by recital day. I don’t want to have to scramble to replace her, and I don’t want to have to step in and do it myself. It’s much more enjoyable for me to sit back and watch -- I can’t appreciate a choreo when I’m in it, you know? I’m excited to get all 10 dancers together, whenever that may be (soon, I hope), because I’m not quite getting the feel of some of the formations with so many people missing, and I think it’s difficult for those dancers who are there to commit movements to memory when their only direction is “just reel that way!” I also need to see everyone about their stepabout sections -- I’ve tasked my dancers with coming up with eight bars of something for themselves and their teammates (they are in groups of two or four). Ideally, they will choreograph something for themselves, but I think most of them will just pick steps they already know. That’s fine, but I was really hoping they would get creative, so maybe I’ll give them a nudge in the direction I want them to take.

In terms of my own recital planning, I’ve got an Irish recital this weekend, but that’s the only recital dancing I’m planning to do this season, and that’s both refreshing and incredibly weird. I tried to opt out of the Highland recital last year but ended up having to dance in a teachers’ reel as well as three times with the babies and in the mass fling at the end. This year, I don’t have any babies, so I’m hoping to enjoy the recital from the audience as much as possible. There is no step recital, which admittedly I had been looking forward to because, although it gets a little tedious at times, it’s still fairly short, and it has a feel-good sentiment to it. (The good news is that I won’t have to stand on stage with the whole school and feel slightly embarrassed at not having earned any certificates because I haven’t actually learned anything this year with the exception of a reel I’ll never be able to dance to music, the beginnings of a twostep, a smattering of swing steps in no discernible order, and a reel I was never actually taught but picked up from watching a friend’s class.) ANYWAY, not having to be in a million places at once, and having my head mostly clear of choreos, is a odd change to say the least.

On Saturday, I did a 5K race, and it went pretty well. I was worried my legs would explode from the continuous effort (I trained for this race by running once since last November), but they held up just fine. My time was a little slower than I had hoped it would be, and I attribute that to the fact that I was extremely careful not to speed up at all ever to avoid hurting anything, and the fact that I’m not an elite runner, so I don’t get the benefit of starting first and instead have to fight my way out of the starting line with thousands of others (we actually walked the first few 100 metres because there were so many of us, and for whatever reason, there were no barriers keeping the audience away on one side, so they were spilling into the streets). At last year’s race, I managed a personal best (I never thought I’d be talking about running in terms of PBs or whatever, ha, especially since in that case, it was like five seconds off a previous time, which is hardly anything to write home about), but I was secretly hoping to do better this year. That was my optimistic goal, the one you set for yourself where you might need some divine intervention to make it happen. My realistic goal was to run 5k under 30 minutes, and in the end, my time was 30:02. Those extra three seconds are annoying, but I suppose I was close enough.

This week I will practice my new hornpipe, try to dance my new step dance reel at a slightly faster speed (albeit still not fast), and attempt more than seven reps of that PT exercise I really haven’t been able to manage at all up to this point. And then I will watch TV! Yay! TV!
re: diary of a sparkly kid
By SeniorLadyPremium member
On Thu Jun 05, 2014 02:17 PM
Recital progress update, part II: one of my dancers emailed me this morning to let me know that she would not be participating in the recital this year. I was expecting it, and I had planned for it by having someone else learn her part, but I’m still slightly annoyed, mostly because it messes with the symmetry I had envisioned for the beginning of the dance (instead of shortest kid, short kids, medium kids, tall kids now it’s shortest kid, short kid and six-foot-tall kid, medium kids, tall kids). I am really hoping there will be ten dancers at rehearsal tonight because I need to see that this piece can look like I want it to (and because we are less than a month away from the recital, so we’re running out of time) -- and I’ve lost track of who knows what, though hopefully after this evening, everyone will know everything, and the onus will be on them to go home and practice and not on me to teach and nag. The good news is that I appear to have nudged my dancers in the right direction in terms of their stepabout materials: every team has choreographed something and isn’t simply doing a straight up step. I even convinced (forced/voluntold) two dancers to do a quick shoe change and step dance. I’m really hoping it comes together.

In other, less interesting news, I had a physio appointment yesterday, and I think I managed to dumbfound my PT with my bum hip. The pain hasn’t been getting any worse, but it’s also not getting any better; it mysteriously did, for a while, and our sessions were just me in the gym, balancing on foam rollers, doing squats and calf raises, and trying to will to life muscles that will keep me from crash landing to the floor during a one-legged bridge raise. Now I’m spending as much time getting treatment as I am standing on one foot on demi-pointe and trying to lean forward without falling. I can’t figure out what I’m doing differently that would be causing me pain -- I have to make a conscious effort to note what I’m doing when it hurts, or what I did the night before if the pain doesn’t manifest right away. I think part of the issue is that I’ve gotten used to a certain amount of pain; it used to be a given that I’d be sore after dancing, ‘cause I’m certainly not getting any younger, and over time, it just progressed to mean I’d be sore most, if not all, of the time. And I don’t have any debilitating pain or sharp pains or pain that keeps me up at night etc., so I never know what to answer when my PT asks how I’m feeling. I feel ok. My summer vacation request got approved. I ate ice cream for dinner. Also, my hip is sore and my calf feels tight and there is an odd twinge in my knee. I know it’s not normal for things to hurt all the time, but it’s my normal, you know? But I will dutifully roll out my yoga mat and do my homework.
re: diary of a sparkly kid
By SeniorLadyPremium member
On Thu Jul 17, 2014 10:12 AM
I went to a highland class last night for the first time since February, which in dance terms is the equivalent of not having taken a class for nearly a decade. It went far better than I had anticipated; I didn’t get too winded, didn’t make any huge mistakes, and even managed some not-too-shabby extended highcuts. The bad news is that, after a weeklong vacation of slothfulness and a few not particularly taxing performances, I’d been operating relatively pain-free, and now I’m not. I felt that familiar twinge in my hip as soon as class ended, so I dutifully did a few PT exercises, stretched, iced my hip, and even kept my cat away long enough to use the foam roller without it being attacked, but I knew as soon as I got off my couch to go to bed that it was going to be a rough morning, and it was -- I woke up at 4:30 after barely getting any sleep at all, and I spent the rest of my mostly-sleepless morning with an ice pack and my cat watching infomercials from my couch. So that was fun. At my last PT appointment, I felt well enough to not need any treatment, which is how I like it -- I would much rather be doing exercises, no matter how awful I am at them, than being made into a human pincushion (of course I took a selfie at one particular appointment where I such an odd assortment of needles in both hips that the PT assistant who came to check in on me actually exclaimed, “oh, that’s different”). At that appointment, we determined that I was no longer awful at one particular set of exercises and should instead focus my efforts at being awful at another. One of these new exercises involves standing on one foot with the other one raised behind me, reaching my arms up above my head, leaning forward without shifting my pelvis, and holding that position for X seconds, and I can barely get past the standing on one foot part. Another exercise I’m awful at involves lying on a foam roller and balancing on one foot with the other and both arms off the ground. I do this with the grace of a manatee stampeding through molasses. (One thing I am surprisingly good at, however, is planking; I felt pretty smug at class last night when a classmate told me that I made planking look easy. Ten points to the manatee!) Because I have a whole new set of exercises, and because I genuinely felt good last time, I don’t have an appointment this week, and although my PT said I could come in if the pain flared up again, I actually can’t fit in an appointment on such short notice, so here I am. Fun times indeed.
re: diary of a sparkly kid
By SeniorLadyPremium member
On Thu Jul 24, 2014 01:48 PM
I’m happy to report, Faithful Reader, that I feel significantly less broken today than I did at this time last week. Because it took me so long to recover from my last highland class -- just a little under five days of holding onto railings to make my way down stairs, needing to warm up and stretch just to get out of bed, and being exceptionally slow to accomplish anything because I had to walk at a snail’s pace -- I was worried about last night: a short performance followed by a two-hour class. The performance was fine: I made sure to warm up first (I have to sheepishly admit I often don’t), and I didn’t dance full out. I wasn’t purposely sloppy or lacklustre with my performance, but I used the small bouncy stage as an excuse to not power through anything, and I felt mostly fine afterwards. Class was a little bit more difficult but not insurmountably so (although highland felt the same way last week too, but this time I was at least better prepared, I think, and I did a pretty good job at balancing dancing things as close to full out as possible, marking things through, and tending to my old lady hip.) I think my dancing was not-too-shabby -- it could be stronger and sharper still, but overall, I’m pretty pleased.

I had an appointment with my PT yesterday, and she seemed genuinely puzzled with the progression of my hip injury. I mentioned the highland class and the resulting malfunctioning body parts, and she thought it was interesting that I said my hip hurt while I was dancing because I never have in the past (and it’s true that I never noticed any pain while I was dancing before). She also thought it was interesting that the exercise I’ve been struggling with the most involves standing on one foot -- that’s more or less the very basis of Highland, isn’t it? I had to hop around for a bit, first on one foot and then on the other, and although I couldn’t see myself, I knew that my form was good. I can usually push off and land on the ball of my foot without it sickling inwards or outwards, but if I’m just standing without any elevation to propel myself upwards, I don’t do nearly as well. That is interesting. I had to go into the gym and demonstrate that balancing exercise, and of course there were 97 other people in there who all got to watch me fail spectacularly at standing still. I got sent home with instructions to stand on one foot as often as possible -- while brushing my teeth, while checking my emails, while watching my television -- and I should practice dance movements without any elevation and while holding onto something to work on stabilising my supporting foot and stopping it from wobbling. I’m considering taking a ballet class or a barre fitness class in the fall, something where basics are the focus. My PT has a theory that my lack of balance may be what’s causing my hip pain if it means I’ve been using the wrong muscles to hold myself up. It would make sense then that I wouldn’t be as sore this morning as I was last week because Irish dancing doesn’t use the same repetitive jumping on one foot that highland does, so it’s a theory worth investigating.

In a week I’ll be on vacation, but in the meantime, I’ve got a bunch of things to get done: fun stuff like dinner with the Boy for our anniversary, dinner with my brother and his famjam, and dinner with my dad before he jetsets across the country for three weeks; boring grown up stuff like cleaning, laundry, and groceries; and fitness stuff like finding a quiet time to sneak down to the gym to use their mirrors to watch myself do a million slow relevés (but mostly to watch TLC on the television).
re: diary of a sparkly kid
By SeniorLadyPremium member
On Wed Jul 30, 2014 10:26 AM
My bum hip has been relatively pain-free this past week, which I’d like to attribute to the fact that I’ve been dutifully doing my PT homework (with noticeable results -- I can do a one-legged bridge raise without wobbling, for instance; I can hold a side plank for over a minute; and I can balance on one foot for considerably longer than even just a week ago), and the fact that I haven’t been back at highland since that two-hour class that left me in pain for five days. I’m obviously not in any position to diagnose the cause of my various aches and pains, but it may be a little bit telling, I think, that highland had that effect where Irish didn’t, although it’s not necessarily highland that’s the culprit (I haven’t really factored in the length of the classes, the repetition of the movements, and the different types of flooring) -- my PT had a theory that my poor balance might be causing my hip pain, and balance is more of an issue for me in highland than in Irish, so it makes sense. I don’t envy the job of my PT, and I liken it a bit to solving a Sherlock Holmes mystery. If you see a patient with an injury where the cause is obvious, like a rugby player who suffers a knee injury after a particularly bad tackle, that’s one thing, but if you see someone with pain and no underlying cause that’s immediately discernible, that’s another, and it becomes harder to treat. I’ve gotten used to having a certain amount of pain, so I haven’t been particularly good at noticing it, but I’m trying to be more conscious of when things hurt and what I’m doing when they do, but even that’s not always clear. For example, last week at Irish, we ended the two-hour class by working on our treble reel, and that really hurt, but was that as a result of a lot of stomping about or because it was the end of a two-hour class, and I was already tired? I wouldn’t say that all hardshoe dancing hurts, although I can’t remember now whether working on my hornpipe at that same class did. It didn’t hurt on Monday when we were working on a set dance, but that choreography isn’t stampy the way a treble reel is, and it was at the start of class, not at the end (and that dance was new to me, so I wasn’t actively dancing so much as trying to commit it to memory). It's tricky, you know?

Tomorrow, I leave for a short but predictably awesome vacation, which is all I should be thinking about, but after a series of emails from dance teachers, I am admittedly thinking about the fall. I don’t want to spend more than three days a week at the studio this year, and I couldn’t manage it last year, so I’ll really have to enforce it this time around. I think it’s doable, but thinking about my fall schedule is already making me antsy. I’ve committed to another year of teaching highland, and those classes are as good as locked (Tuesdays and Thursdays). Provided that nothing changes with step dance and Irish, I should be able to stick to my three night maximum. I’m also looking to add a ballet class, something at the beginner level with lots of barre work for balance and core strength, and I’m hoping to find something for early Monday evenings. I’ve also committeed to helping teach step dance if the numbers warrant it, and my friend wants to put together a team for Oireachtas, which I’d really like to be part of, but I’m already worried about the time commitment for that. I realise most people don’t plan this far ahead, but it kind of boggles my mind that not every dance studio has their fall plans set in stone yet, that there are people out there sunning themselves on beaches and having picnics or carelessly relaxing on patios when I’m wringing my hands about what I’ll be doing five weeks from now. I just feel more at ease when I know what’s coming. (VACATION! That's what's coming!)

During my mini-vacation, I plan to limit my exercising to walking from one cool place to the next and lifting buckets of fried chicken to my mouth (if I choose not to simply dive in face first), but when I return, I promise I’ll review the following: the competition step dance reel (don’t let the name mislead you -- I’m not planning to compete it), the swing choreography, the 21-step jig, the few waltz steps seannetta has taught me, my new hornpipe and reel steps, the set of King of Fairies and the step of Garden of Daisies, and a highland piece for my adults, which has a section that needs entirely new choreography before they can compete in next winter. Obviously I can’t review everything at once, so I’ll come up with a plan post-Nashville jaunt. I’m hoping I’ll be totally rejuvenated by then and ready to tackle dance again, but we'll see.
re: diary of a sparkly kid
By SeniorLadyPremium member
On Thu Dec 04, 2014 09:53 AM
I got a text from one of my friends the other day who noted that my sparkly little diary had moved to the top of the page, but that there didn’t seem to be any new updates in there, so what the heck? I had asked a mod to unlock it -- because it was obviously too old to edit -- and that pushed the thread up to the top, at which point I realised I still had nothing to say …but now I owe newsockspooky an update, so hi there, Faithful Reader.

Let’s see, then. On Tuesday, I went to step dance for the first time in however many weeks (because I’m a slacker). In my big kid class, we’re working on a swing and a reel, and in my medium kid class, we’re working on a breakdown. The reel is meant to be vaguely reminiscent of a Riverdance-style treble reel (complete with Michael Flatley-esque arm movements), and I’m just meh about it. It sounds cool, and I know that reels are an audience favourite, but I’ve always been kind of indifferent to them: I’d rather do a jig or a swing (or my little Irish hornpipe) to step dance reels or treble reels. Not that I can dance the swing or breakdown to music yet, but I can dance them, and I find both easier to remember than the reel. I actually wish there was a level between the medium kid class and the big kid class just for me where I could learn the steps faster than we learn them in the medium kid class but spend more time working on rhythm and timing than we spend in the big kid class. Mostly, I just miss watching seannetta’s classes and seeing firsthand what all my dances are supposed to look and sound like.

In Highland, I’m working on a couple of choreographies for my adults: a group piece that’s loosely based on the dance they learned for the recital (very loosely based, actually: the introduction is the same, but it’s pretty much a whole new dance after that -- don’t worry, newsockspooky, there is still ceili dancing in it), and a duet for two of my more advanced dancers. My juniors are perfecting their 4-step fling, which they are going to debut for their moms and dads in a couple of weeks (they’ll be dancing to a rendition of Jingle Bells on the bagpipes recorded specifically for them by our school piper, and they’ll be wearing the jingle bells bracelets I’ve been painstakingly crafting in my spare time). I have a private student who has expressed an interest in someday becoming a teacher, so she and I have been doing theory together, and I’ve invited her to come help out with my juniors, which she seems to have really taken to. And my adults are all well on their way to becoming better than me, so it’s looking like a good year, so far.

In Irish, we’ve been mostly working on a choreography that we’ll be performing at an event in February. It’s been described as “controlled chaos” with lots of moving in and out of shapes and weaving lines and impossible speeds, which I’m not great at keeping up with. I’m also not great at following vague instructions like “just run that way”. Ok, but where exactly do I run? And also how fast do I run? I’m like a sad sheep. If you don’t explicitly tell me where to go, I’m just going to run around in circles. I need a border collie.
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