Bodies bodies bodies…

29 May

So I figure a good introductory post, before talking too much about dance would be to address the body.  I define dance as a movement of the body with an artistic intent, which is probably just vague enough to not really mean anything.  If you can take one thing away from that statement, it’s that dance obviously has its foundation in the human body (those who argue, are WAY modern…so take it outside).  Now there’s this popular stereotype that a lot of dancers, especially ballerinas have body image issues, and are starving themselves, yadda yadda yadda.  That might be true in some cases, but you can’t dance without fuel, and do you have ANY idea how embarrassing it is to have your stomach growl ridiculously loudly during an adage?  I’ve seen it heard it.  Not cute.

Dancers can give you a laundry list of bodily flaws that most people would never imagine.  I find the ballet dancers in particular to be the most entertaining.  The most common, which even the average Joe can understand would be “not enough turnout” and “not flexible enough,” but dig a little deeper and you get into all kinds of crazy.  Disappearing heels, compressible feet,  protracted shoulder girdle, anterior/posterior tilt, hyper extended joints (both a gift and curse), Greek feet, Egyptian feet, lucky rabbit’s feet, and many more genetic and muscular ailments.  The body is a science and we are all massively screwed up.

Take my feet for example, which I am pretty sure are the worst feet possible for dance.  I have Greek feet (which means my second toe is longer than my first), tapered toes (which means toes 2-5 are at a sharp angle), wide metatarsals, skinny toes with massive spaces in between them, low arches, low insteps, poor ankle flexibility (thank you, anterior tibialis), even tailor’s bunions (I’m a guy and don’t even have to do point).  They. Are. Hideous.  And my lower legs are also bowed outwards and my right foot has some tibial torque although my left is the opposite and sickles inward.  I was not built to dance at all, but I enjoy the irony.

Anywhodle, moving upward…whatever the opposite of hyper extended knees is, I have, in addition to poor turnout, a slight anterior tilt and some rounding to the shoulders.  And ridiculously tight hamstrings, hip flexors, and my joints move like rusty door hinges.  I’m quite gifted at cracking them actually…I can crack my hips in several places, my spine, shoulders, elbows, wrists, my thumbs and fingers (knuckles and whatever the smaller ones are), knees, ankles, all 10 toes, some joint in the middle of my foot which I haven’t figured out what it is yet, and first thing in the morning I can pop my sternum and usually one of my collarbones (I think that’s what’s crackin…I can’t tell for sure).  I’m a walking xylophone, but I don’t crack my neck though…THAT is weird. 

Where was I…oh yes, my body is not built for ballet.  And flexibility tends to be harder to achieve for guys, so the splits?  Forget it.  Although I did have a teacher who once told me if I could get down into the splits I would turn into a prince.  She was also a teacher who swore a lot in class and beat me on occasion.  I miss Yen-Fang.

It turns out that 90% of dancers will tell you they suck, and identify things about their body that limit their abilities.  The other 10% is comprised of people who are really good and don’t worry, the people who don’t care if they’re good or not, and the whackadoodles that think they’re awesome even if they’re…well, not so hot.  So, my little ducklings, the truth is, there are two things that can help you get through the challenges your body presents.  Numero one, somebody always has it worse, and you can smile contently knowing that I for sure do, and keep chipping away at class happy as a hummingbird, and numero second, find one little thing that you ARE pretty damn good at, and linger in it for just a wee bit.  For a guy, I have a fairly mobile spine and thus, cambré derrière is practically my favorite thing in the world.  I always spend an extra second or two in it, just for me and to say “hell, I can do this!”

Meanwhile, I totally bought tickets to see the Bolshoi in Washington DC, SPECIFICALLY to see Natalia “jumps-like-a-man (in a good way)” Osipova, and sometime in between my purchase and today they changed the principal casting (jigga-what?!?).  Ekaterina Shipulina is lovely, according to the visions in the crystal ball (youtube), but will my heart flutter when she saut de chat?  Will she put the “olé!” in brisé volé?  Ask me after June 19th.

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2 Responses to “Bodies bodies bodies…”

  1. Hilary June 15, 2009 at 3:39 pm #

    No Natalia?! For cryin in the mud…there better be at least one man jump.

    • youdancefunny June 15, 2009 at 11:05 pm #

      Seriously, the Bolshoi has some nerve.

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