Category Archives: Dance

Blue-ish Skies, Bright Lights, Blue Shawl

Today’s Saturday Sky (Skies) I actually got to see, before and after work:

Cloudy, snowy morning.

Glimmers of blue around the high clouds later.

As the flurries came and went,  chased by a north wind.

However, last weekend, I only saw the sky in the early morning.

That’s because after work, I spent the rest of the day indoors, watching this:

Yes, the show choir competition season has begun!  The RockStar is in the varsity high school show choir this year, as a sophomore.  Rehearsals started late July, believe it or not.  Competitions run through March.  Weekends are going to be a different proposition from now until then…

She loves it, though.

And, as an excellent dancer, she is in the front most of the time, and has two dance solos as well.  Brava!

I spent the rest of my day after work at the competition, which was local; the show choir performed in the early afternoon, finalists were announced at dinnertime, the choir performed again in the finals in the early evening, and then the results weren’t announced till after my bedtime.  (Their choir did well overall, placing fourth among 16 or so (I forget exactly).  Plus one of their vocalists was selected ‘best female vocalist in show’.)  Long day for everyone.  But I hung in there…. aided by knitting.

I worked on my Aestlight Shawl, my third iteration of the border, trying for smaller borders taking up less and less yarn since I am running short.  This border, I ‘unvented’, in the words of Elizabeth Zimmermann, though I am sure it’s published somewhere.

This is as small as I think I can get the edging and still have it balance the body of the shawl.

And I really like knitted-on edgings, which is what the shawl calls for in any case.

So do you think I’m going to make it?

Nah.  Me neither.

More yarn is coming from the dyer!

The Blink of an Eye

Saturday Sky

Sunday Sky

(If you’ve spent any time in a Midwestern winter, you know that particular look to a winter sky means it’s brisk.  Not to say, frigid.)

And the annual Nutcracker Ballet is done, just like that, in the blink of an eye.

That Saturday Sky meant logistical problems for Saturday’s Nutcracker audience.  In my family, my aunt, my cousin and her family, and my father-in-law all had to (separately) cancel.  Darn!  Well, there’s always the DVD that will be made, I guess.

I could not take pictures during the performance, of course, but here are some dancer photos from Saturday, when we saw the ballet:

My teenage RockStar is on the right as a Reed Pipe (aka Flute Dance) dancer, here with one of her friends who danced in the Chinese variation.  She was also in Waltz of the Flowers, here posing for a picture with a fellow flower:

Flower & Reed Pipe 2

And, as you know from a prior post, she was a Snowflake. The Snowflakes and their queen were on the front page of the local paper!

The Gothlet took her bows as a Rat: here at rehearsal, with an askew ear (later fixed)

and below talking to her adoring public (i.e. old friends) after the show.

And as a girl in the party scene before the Battle, she needed ringlets.  Lots and lots of ringlets.

Beauty is pain

(actually, the foam rollers aren’t too bad, mostly a pain in the BUTT to put in and take out in a ringletty fashion)

but the results were grand, and very boingy!

Despite being still convalescent, the Gothlet pulled through and performed very well.  She was exhausted afterwards, though.

It was a quiet day yesterday, post-Nutcracker.

Well, other than shoveling out from the blizzard (no hyperbole, it really was an official blizzard by Saturday evening)…

Not that I didn’t do my share — I shoveled those steps twice the day before, and a good part of them the last time also — but may I say that child labor does rock big time.


My Rat has the stomach flu.

Here, yesterday before the onslaught, with her sister in Reed Pipe costume.

I just had a tooth pulled today for a failed root canal, and the timing could have been better for that.  (Could have been worse, too, though.)

And I am not going to have enough yarn for the edging of my Aestlight shawl as written.  One repeat took 0.8 grams.  I have 14.8 grams of yarn left.  There are 30 repeats needed. Nope….

Though I do like Astrid the dyer’s idea of ordering more of this absolutely gorgeous yarn, I also want to get this done, AND I confess that the edging (which is more complex than the rest of the shawl, being ‘knitted lace’ worked on both the right and the wrong side) took me longer to do even one repeat than I would like, and required a surprising amount of concentration comparatively — thus I will probably first try changing the edging to a smaller and easier edging.

I have to come up with one first, though.   Which will take me a bit of time that I currently don’t have, between Nutcracker, work, recovery, and all!  So in the meantime, I’ve picked back up a project that was dormant, but that I should be able to finish by Christmas:

A Chevron Scarf (Ravelry link to pattern) in eye-popping colors requested by the RockStar.  I don’t have a decent picture yet, but soon, I hope.

Speaking of Nutcracker, thankfully the Rat is feeling better tonight and should be able to make final dress rehearsal tomorrow, as well as play percussion in her band concert.   Whew.  Now to hope and pray that no one else gets the flu….

First Snow

Yes, we had those flurries before….but yesterday, Saturday morning, I awoke to the first real snow of the season.

The Saturday sky started out cloudy, as it continued to snow in the morning, and then gradually cleared up as we dug out.

I had snow on my lap inside the house, too.

No, no roof emergency, nor open windows.

This snow.

My older daughter, The RockStar, is in the corps de ballet in the Snow scene in the Nutcracker ballet this year.  (Yes, ’tis Nutcracker time again.  The performance is next weekend.) She volunteered me  — when I was not there — to sew her Snow tutu.  I needed to hem the bodice and sew it to the skirt, then fit the bodice to her and sew alternating hooks and eyes.  I haven’t really sewn since middle school, and my teenager doesn’t sew at all, more than sewing ribbons and elastics on her ballet shoes.

Mom?  I’m  sorry about that Madrigal singers dress with the train that I volunteered you to hem in high school.

Really sorry.

Where’s That Pause Button When You Need It?

Another crazy weekend done, and now only 3 days until Christmas.

Gulp.  Possibly the least-prepared I’ve ever been.  The house is a disaster area, we don’t have our tree up, I’m not even sure which presents I don’t have yet.

But I haven’t been sitting around eating bonbons!

Going in reverse:

Just got done portraying “Esther”, the matriarch of a nomadic shepherd family coming in to Bethlehem to try to sell a couple sheep. Unfortunately, the village is very full and the village elders (like the one below) wouldn’t let us in to sell our sheep because there was no room yet to do so.  So we pitched our tent outside the city to bide our time, and talked to people coming through for the census.  And I spun wool into yarn, naturally.  Pictures to come at some point (from other people’s cameras).


(That village elder would be my father!).

Lots of fun, I’m exhausted, and I now have six balls of singles to ply.  Not the best yarn in the world, but it IS yarn (and will be plied yarn soon.  Well,  after the holidays).

Night before that, shepherding not sheep, but six preteens through the snow to see the movie “Twilight”  (the majority for the second time; I think they’re in love with Edward).  Plus an Urgent Care visit (nothing serious, just annoying).

Night before that, a piano recital. The Gothlet’s.  Here she is, demonstrating (under duress) the latest in Wisconsin evening fashion.


Well, OK, she changed her footwear for the actual recital.

It’s always fun to see the recitals, remembering that it wasn’t that long ago that she was the size of the kindergarteners at the same recital, whose feet are nowhere near touching the floor.


And now she looks like this.


This recital was a bit of a stressor for me, too, as we played a duet; the which I only found out about two weeks beforehand (getting not so good at the telling me about these things, the Gothlet is — or isn’t).  Then, because despite finally getting on the stick and practicing her little fingers off, she was NOT getting the hang of the duet.  (I think it was a little above her level.)  She could have just skipped it, but we ended up changing to a different duet — 3 days before the recital!  LOTS more practicing ensued, on my part too (I’m really not that good a piano player, I only took piano for a few years, and this is starting to approach my limits).  But we pulled off  “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers” with a few minor wobbles but a strong finish.

The night before:  The RockStar’s choir concert (she had a short solo).


Though I recorded her solo on my not-so-great-sound-quality camera, I’ll spare you that.  However, I will want to share with you the choir’s rendition of “Silent Night”.  Her choir director performed it in a way that seems to be becoming a yearly tradition now: first sung as an a cappella solo (duet this year) with accompanying ASL signing; then choral singing with accompaniment; then humming with choral signing; then signing silently: truly a “Silent Night”.   It rather gives me goosebumps.  The RockStar’s friend did signing and another friend sang the alto part for the duet.  I thought I had uploaded the song to YouTube, but it was the wrong song.  Thus I’ll add in the YouTube video once I get it uploaded, or blog it later…I didn’t want to delay this post ANY MORE.

Before that:  working late, some child had to go shopping emergently as I recall also, and then there was Nutcracker, of course, with a band concert in the middle.

No action pictures from the Nutcracker performance (not allowed to photograph in the theater), but here’s the Chinese dancer in the dressing room..


Who received a floral tribute….


She danced beautifully.  And in a very rat-like manner when appropriate.

Phew.  I think that brings us up to speed.  Now for choir rehearsals tonight and tomorrow night for a Christmas Eve cantata, and a RockStar home puking today.  (Cross our — frequently washed — fingers that no one else gets the bug.)

Now, I’m still looking for that TRULY Universal Remote with the Pause Button!  The one that works on Life too!  Seen one anywhere?

A little yarn, a little music….

Trying to keep you posted (ar, ar) so I’m not even farther behind!  (I have told you nothing about my trip to the Twin Cities, other than getting stuck in Rochester, nor about spinning and knitting with friends last weekend….)

But let me show you what came in the mail this week!

A Ravelry swap led to this wonderfulness arriving from Janet in British Columbia!


(I *love* getting packages from Canada!  Especially from knitters in Canada who have excellent taste and also the ability to pick out my very favorite colors!)  Look at the Opal yarn and its gorgeous shading.  It’s a touch richer and darker than the flash (sadly necessary as we approach the darkest day of the year) makes it look.  But still all my favorite jewel tones, as you can see.

The beautiful ornament next to the yarn will unfortunately need a little surgery, thanks to the postal service; he has a left arm fracture.  However, it’s at the shoulder, and (unlike in real life), that should make it easier to fix seamlessly).  Love (1)! Then, look at the CHOCOLATE!  Some awesome Droste pastilles (I usually only am indulged with this at Christmas, and then not the pastilles, YUM) and then some Nestle’s which I have never had, but which combines two of my favorite flavors, double YUM.  Below that:


A handmade, hand-woven book mark.

Am I spoiled rotten, or what?

Thank you, Janet!!


Quick but photo-filled proud parental update:

Today’s Nutcracker school performance apparently went well.  (RockStar alone is in it this year, the Gothlet decided not to audition as she wanted to see it and at her age, roles are limited also.)  More on that Saturday when I get to see her perform.

Few scenes from the band concert:


(the band gets a bit smaller every year in middle school).

Here’s the RockStar, second row, second from the left:


Two of her best friends are also in the picture, one behind her, and another on the far right of the picture.  Hmm.  Maybe that, as well as locking horns with the new band director, has something to do with her band grades slipping even though she’s a good musician?  Silly girl.

Here are the French horns doin’ that spit valve thing that they have to do, in some musical pieces more than others.


And, lastly, here’s another of the RockStar’s friends, who plays percussion (the Gothlet would like to do this next year), who has impressive cymbal technique during their last piece, a band arrangement of “The Great Gates of Kiev”.




They played it nicely.  (Of course, that piece reminded me of this cafepress design which I just gave to my friend, an accomplished horn player.  Love it!  And it’s so true!)

Now for equal Gothlet time: last week was open dance classes at their dance studio (i.e. we get to watch).  The RockStar is only taking two classes this year, due to schedule conflicts/interest/time.  The Gothlet is taking every class she can – probably too much.  But I got to see most of her classes last week.  I didn’t have my camera for all, but here she is in Music Theatre Dance II (turquoise cami), and ballet.




She and her friend are certainly well matched as a pair in this choreography.


Now, a little ballet:



Wish I’d had my camera for Tap: I think that’s her favorite and best class.  But that really needs a video to capture!

MidWeek Quick Update (or, Not Dead Yet)

1)  First (of three) Nutcracker performance tomorrow (school performance during day).

2)  RockStar also has a band concert tomorrow night.

3)  Finished the Gothlet’s Noro Striped Scarf.



She wore it today, out into the -2 degrees F (-19 C) morning.   To do morning safety patrol.  Brrrr.  It seemed to be well received, however; it got a smile.

4)  There was just about enough yarn left to make a similar hat for me.  No pictures yet.  (And I had to borrow about 5 yards of yarn from another skein of Silk Garden to complete it.)

5) Received a wonderful package which I need to photograph and tell you all about.  Thanks, Janet!!

6)  I need to send the corresponding package, which I have pretty much ready to go (I just keep thinking I should add to it, but I need to SEND it).

7)  My girls are “Twilight” obsessed.

8)  Barnes & Noble has ‘Breaking Dawn’ back ordered.  This has caused some angst in our house.  But is probably good for the homework situation.

9)  Kittens make eating breakfast extremely difficult at times.  Especially irrepressible kittens who feel that your bowl is their bowl.

10) Kittens curled up sleeping on one’s lap while blogging are both warm and extremely endearing.

¡Hasta la vista!  Could be on the other side of Nutcracker.  Hopefully earlier….

What Kind of Nerd am I?

All sorts, apparently! But music and books are right at the top. (Sounds about right.) Found on kmkat’s blog.

What Be Your Nerd Type?

Your Result: Musician

Doo doo de doo waaaa doo de doo! (<– That’s you playing something.) Everyone appreciates the band/orchestra geeks and the pretty voices. Whether you sing in the choir, participate in a school/local band, or sit at home writing music, you contribute a joy to society that everyone can agree on. Yay! Welcome to actually doing something for poor, pathetic human souls. (Just kidding.)

Literature Nerd
Artistic Nerd
Science/Math Nerd
Social Nerd
Drama Nerd
Gamer/Computer Nerd
Anime Nerd
What Be Your Nerd Type?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Work’s been crazy busy (apparently not so busy that I can’t take a quick nerd quiz at the moment) but this weekend should find me with a little more time, other than Nutcracker insanity starting (first performance is in one week). (And speaking of music/artistic/drama nerds.) I’m not in it (was in the past) but just the RockStar being in it is a big time suck. As in, “Mom, I need fill-in-essential-object-of-choice tonight/tomorrow!” plus chaperoning/volunteering at rehearsals & performances. Well, it’s a huge time commitment from everyone involved. But so wonderful to see. And the countdown begins….

Girl On The Run

It’s been a busy day — after a busy few days.

On this perfect July morning, the Gothlet awoke WAY too early for her taste (particularly after watching fireworks the night before), carbohydrate loaded (translation — got to have donuts for breakfast) and ran/walked (mostly ran) a 5K as part of Girls on the Run.  (Check out the link if you have time, this is a really cool idea and organization.)  She’s never run before the last couple months.

Here my 10-year-old Gothlet is, checking out her time as she crosses the finish line with her friend

(though her actual time was a little less, as measured by the radiotransmitters chips the runners wore.)

My friends’ daughters who were also in Girls on the Run ran, and my friends Karla and Lee ran with them (I’m no runner, though I’d happily walk a 5K, & I had to go to work as soon as the Gothlet was done running); and my father ran too, to keep his granddaughter company. I saw many other people I know running (obviously, this was a big race, which was held to coincide with Riverfest). And friends of mine are this year’s Riverfest Commodore and First Mate; they were there cheering runners on too.

After getting the girl carbo-fueled, chipped, and to the starting line where they discussed race strategy (NOT!),

they were off,

and I had about, oh, half an hour to sit on a curb and work on Forest Canopy, before proudly cheering her finish.

I also worked on my Forest Canopy shawl last night while waiting for the Independence Day fireworks at Riverside Park

(believe it or not, there were thousands of people behind me as I took this picture; I didn’t photograph the full crowds, but here’s a picture from earlier in the evening elsewhere in the park)

The boats on the river, which were going back and forth in droves earlier, had by the time of the photo already been herded up- and down-river to clear this part of the river for the fireworks, which are set off from the park across the Mississippi (where we got married, by the way!)

I even knit on Forest Canopy during the fireworks, of which I have no pictures, not simply because I was knitting, and not because I did not wish to take pictures — but because the battery feeb’d out on me.

And I knit on Forest Canopy during the two exhibition dance performances by my daughters (and their dad) yesterday and the day before.

(Gothlet tapping)

(Gothlet and the Preteen in their Dads and Daughters “Blues Brothers” routine, to “Soul Man”)

(the Sole Man, aka Elwood, is on your left as his daughters watch in awe from the non-existent ‘wings’).

Can you tell I’m determined to finish Forest Canopy? I’m knitting it bigger than designed, since I’m knitting with fingering rather than sport weight yarn and since I want a shawl-sized shawl rather than a shoulder shawl. Therefore, I’m now about up to double the number of stitches called for, and it’s taking me a half hour to knit two rows. So I’m ready to be finished (especially since I’m also knitting Wendy‘s Kay’s Diamonds and Purls Shawl (that’s very awkward to type, let alone say), and it’s hard to concentrate on two shawls at once and get anything visible accomplished).

The good news is that, as calculated by weighing my yarn before and after said two rows (twice), I’ve calculated how much yarn is needed for a pattern repeat, that is, about 24 g now (allowing a bit extra for the fact that every other row gets four stitches bigger). And, in order to have enough yarn to finish the shawl and knit the edging a bit longer also (for balance), my careful mathematical calculations would seem to indicate that I need to knit just one more pattern repeat — then start the edging! And, oh so fortuitously, it seems to be the perfect size; stretched (roughly approximating blocking), it reaches from fingertip to fingertip.

So now, I must bid you adieu and go watch “Little Shop of Horrors” and —

knit away on Forest Canopy!

Tomorrow, the results! (I should at least be on the edging, so I can show you something that looks different.) And a request for opinions. Also, a sad frogging story, and the project I should not have cast on yet, but did. (I should feel guilty, but I don’t!)

Lastly, here’s the Saturday Sky while walking along the Mississippi to work after the run:

and upon arriving to work, our patriotic crane.

Hope everyone had a wonderful Fourth of July!

J is for Jeté

Petit jeté.

Well, technically, what you’re seeing is coupé derrière en plié, I suppose, but petit jeté begins and ends in this position.

And although I’ll blab a bit and tell you that ‘jeté‘ means ‘thrown’, and is part of the full name of a number of moves in ballet; and that ‘grand jeté‘, what most people probably visualize if they visualize anything when they hear the term, is the exhilarating leap with legs split (but I don’t particularly want to photographically immortalize my gravity-laden version of it, as fun as it is to do), and that petit jeté is a small Jump, starting as above, where the back leg then brushes the floor to propel you up into the air, and you land on the opposite leg in the same position, a very light, springy small Jump (see this glossary with videos from ABT for this and other dance terms in this post): as I say, although you have just been subjected to Jeté 101, this post is not really about jeté, the step.


I’ve always enjoyed dance (enjoyment, of course, does not mean automatically that one possesses a talent for it). Growing up, I know I subjected my parents to little dance shows in the living room. When I was small, my family lived in Germany for several years. I took a couple years of ballet and a year of tap then; there is photographic and Super 8 movie evidence. I remember the teacher as quite strict, very traditional and European.

By the time we moved back to the United States when I was almost 7, I think I was burned out on my strict ballet classes (though I remember tapping around in my school shoes for quite a while). I didn’t ask to take dance again. I was on my junior high ‘pom pom’ squad (kind of like dance team, but far removed from dance teams of today), and I could do the splits and kick high and shake my booty in time, but I didn’t take dance classes.

Then, in college, one of my acquaintances in the dorm invited me to an adult ballet class she was attending. It sounded like fun. Unfortunately, all the other college students taking it had taken years of formal ballet; I was way over my head; I couldn’t turn my feet and hips out 180 degrees, like some of the others, and I hurt my hip trying. I stopped after a few months, and decided ballet was just not meant to be, for me. Instead, I learned ballroom dance through the University of Minnesota Ballroom Dance Club, which was wonderful. (In fact, the first date that my now husband and I went on, was when I dragged him to the BDC’s Halloween Costume ball; I was Queen Titania and he was an extremely good-looking pirate, as I remember; I taught him to waltz — really waltz — and some new swing moves. Nostalgic sigh.)

Fast forward two decades. Out-of-shape, overweight, overly busy mother of two brings her younger daughter to her first three-year-old dance class at the dance studio where her older daughter already goes. The new artistic director, daughter of the owner, is wonderful with a rather shy Gothlet. O-O-S OW O-B mother sees that a new class is being offered for adults who ‘have never danced or been out of dance for some time’. With some trepidation, she signs up.

Wow. I was in love. We learned ballet and Jazz. We were a range of ages, weights and ability levels, but no one was like the 10-years-of-ballet bunheads I’d had in class as a college student. I liked it all, but I loved ballet. The discipline, the engagement of mind with body, the music, the serenity, were just what I needed in a physical activity (I’d TRIED to like aerobics but just couldn’t get into it). I wanted to do more. We performed in the spring studio recital (to Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary”, the slow part with ballet choreography, the rowdy part performing Jazz); it was so fun! I took the class again, but wanted to move beyond. In a small city, however, opportunities are limited (in, for example, Minneapolis, there are adult classes at different levels, sigh). I took a few private classes, struggled with the ‘advanced/adult’ ballet, dumbing the exercises down to what approached my level (though I incurred a hairline crack of one of the bones of my foot, trying something I didn’t know how to do; should have taught me something).

At about the same time this was going on, the artistic director asked my husband and I if we would play parents in the annual Nutcracker Ballet that the studio puts on. (I think she needed guys and knew I could probably talk my husband into it.) The (now) Preteen was barely old enough to be in the production, but we didn’t think she was nearly ready, she was a wild child, always hanging on the barre and causing trouble. So my husband and I were in the Nutcracker that year, and the kids watched! In fact, we were the parents of Maria and Fritz (and a multicultural family were we, with an Asian ‘daughter’ and a red-headed ‘son’!).

The next year, we reprised our roles, and the Preteen was a mouse (seven years old). But there was a lack of teen dancers for all the variations; there are only so many quick changes one can do, instantaneous changes are not possible, and it was just a number (or lack of numbers) thing that year. So I volunteered, if there was an easier part I could dance to help out. There was, and it would be helpful, so that year I danced Reed Pipes as well (with my sorely-missed young friend Katie).

The following year, the Gothlet was old enough to be in the ballet as well. I actually auditioned this time, and (numbers still being a factor), I was given three roles: Frau Catherine Silberhaus (the mom of Maria again), Reed Pipes, and also Chinese. My husband was asked to be Godfather Drosselmeyer. Now, he can dance; but he’s not a Dancer. (Though he was forced to take ballet when he was boxing competitively, but it didn’t stick.) He is, however, an Actor (where the Preteen gets it from). He worked very hard for months, learning ballet, and he was incredible on stage. The Preteen was a small girl in the Party Scene, and a buffoon in the Mother Ginger scene; the Gothlet was a Snow Angel. Here we are:

Wow, that was an insane time. Talk about ‘jeté‘ meaning thrown — we certainly were thrown into the madness! But awfully fun. (I was working less than full time, and took off essentially all of tech week! Otherwise, there would have been no way.)

Then the next year: there were enough intermediate dancers coming up that newly middle-aged moms weren’t needed any more. A good thing. And the roles rotate (there’s been a different Godfather almost every year, for example). My husband and I wanted to be able to actually see our girls dance; we did watch from the wings, but it’s not the same, actually. So that was the last year we were all in Nutcracker. The Gothlet’s been in it every year; the Preteen took a break (after missing the same birthday party three years in a row, I think she wanted to have time off) but now was in it again last year. It’s still a crazy time, but not nearly as crazy as when we were in the midst. I do miss it, though, at times.

So, before this, if you had told me I would get up on a huge stage in a fine arts university in front of hundreds of strangers, and dance a pas de trois with two girls half my age — I would have questioned your sanity. Afterwards — well, a lot of other experiences in my life have seemed less intimidating in comparison!

I continued to take ballet. And love it. Now I had a goal, achievable for some adult beginning dancers after years of study: Could I do pointe? I was taking 2 -3 classes a week. A friend of mine who taught ballet was encouraging. I took a pre-pointe evaluation class, and was told that I probably could do pointe, though I still needed to work on alignment & strength. But because I was an adult, and listened to my body (much more sensibly after the foot fracture), they trusted that I could take things at my own pace.

A few summers ago, then, I started studying pointe. It was not easy. I had lost weight, but was no sylph; and my flexible bunion-y long-second-toe feet were hard to fit in pointe shoes. But I was enjoying the challenge.

Then, a few months later, in regular ballet class, a simple move, plié passé, involving springing up to one foot en relevé (tiptoe). My right ankle popped audibly, then felt — strange. Then started to hurt a little. Not bad, unless I was on relevé or jumping. When I got home, it was a little swollen. Hmm.

Fast forward again: eventually, after persistent problems for several months (I couldn’t run up steps, bike riding was a bit of a problem, but mostly I just couldn’t dance), an MRI found the problem; a split in one of the ankle tendons, basically a tear that didn’t go all the way through. Next, predictably, surgery; after which I found out that I absolutely was not going to be able to do my job while strictly non-weightbearing (luckily only 10 days), then six weeks of crutches with partial weightbearing and NO DRIVING! FOR A WORKING MOM! And they only told me shortly before surgery!

Then the usual months of rehab; then I could dance again.

I danced and trained for six months before reattempting pointe. But it was no good. My ankle just doesn’t function quite the same way, in the position you are in for pointe (part of a muscle had to be removed for the repair). And I started having a pinched nerve in the foot on that side, probably related.

So I have my old pointe shoes on, above, only for nostalgia’s sake; though I can still fake it

(here’s the painterly version of sous-sus), I won’t be dancing in these. Yes, I’m a little wistful, but it’s OK, I like my soft shoes.

I still take ballet, but I’ve had to increase my work hours back to full time plus, due to the needs of the job, not by my choice, and that’s gotten in the way. This last year, I could only get to one class a week most weeks. Though I’m a little above their level, I ended up taking the same class as my daughters for convenience, as I was starting not to make it to the one class, even. That was fun! I’m not sure they always thought so, but I enjoyed it.

One last little anecdote, then something amusing for those of you who have hung in here with me:

When we joined the church we’re at now, as part of the new member orientation, we were asked to tell about a teacher who had a big influence on us. Well, I was a little stumped; school came easy to me, and though I had many excellent teachers, I didn’t really need encouragement, and I couldn’t think of one particular amazingly influential teacher in high school, college, junior high or whatever.

But then I thought of a teacher who HAD made a big difference to me. The then-new artistic director who had started the adult dance class, who by her positivity and wonderful teaching ability gave me the courage to try dance again. Dance is not something you can study for, or do at home with no one seeing you. It did take courage to get in front of the mirrors and just do it, imperfect as my attempts might be. Her enthusiasm and encouragement transformed me from someone who ‘couldn’t do ballet’, someone who felt clumsy, sluggish, with unshed pregnancy weight, who couldn’t even get her foot on the barre to stretch at first; to someone who loved dance, and who wasn’t afraid to try new things. Even in public. Even, eventually, taking classes with a bunch of slender teen and preteen bunheads, me being practically twice their average weight and three times their age. Even on the stage of a fine arts university, dancing Nutcracker variations. And having a blast! My first ‘adult dance’ teacher truly gave me the gift of dance, of having it back in my life, of saying, “Yes, I can dance.” I’m glad my girls have pursued dance further too, following their own leanings and talents. But even if they didn’t, or when they are no longer at the studio, I still plan to be dancing.

Jeté — Thrown. I plan to keep throwing my heart into my dance, and the rest of me will follow as it can, lame, halt, chubby or what have you.


Visible proof that after that Nutcracker stage, it’s harder to faze me now:

Here’s the last part of the dance I performed at the Blue Moon Fiber Arts Sock Camp Crows Feet last month. A short piece to a Tchaikovsky theme — the world première of my original choreographed piece, “Pas de Corbeille”, “Dance of the Crow”. I actually knit while dancing!

Yes, during much of the dance I was doing dance steps while holding my sock-in-progress in first position, but I did actually, for real, knit stitches while doing bourrées and piqués. (And the stitches looked fine, after.) My friend MJ started filming about two-thirds of the way through, right after I had been doing little jumps, changements and entrechats quatres, and then pretended to drop a stitch. Fear not! I have dpn’s in my bun!

(If for some reason, the video doesn’t work, here’s the link. And, by the way, the head in the foreground taking pictures is Stephen of HizKNITS, blog and podcast. At the end, as I ballet run out into the hall, you can see along the far wall Cat Bordhi with the very blond head, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee is the not-too-tall person in green moving fast, and I believe also that’s my new friend Sam who is a frequent columnist on Lime & Violet’s Daily Chum, and my new friend Ariel who is knitting me Sock Camp Souvenirs. And many, many of my friends in the audience! Thanks, MJ, for sharing the video!