Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Challenges and limits

"My back's bothering me," I whisper to Brian as we line up at some point during Monday's class. "I was doing something in ballet that 44-year-old ballerinas should not do!"

This is what I was doing in ballet: a penché --like the ballerina above. Well, not exactly like hers :-), but you get the idea.

In a penché, you begin in arabesque position, like this

or as close as you can get to having that back leg at 90 degrees. Then you lift the leg higher until your torso tilts forwards ever so slightly. You have to fight against the lift of the leg and hold your shoulders up as much as possible.

It's beautiful, but painful. It causes a pinch ("eagle's claws" says Suki) to your back. Legs don't bend backwards at the hip. The way it goes up is for the back to flex and the leg to turn out at the hip.

Suki's been having us do them in ballet, and it has come back to haunt me later--with a sore muscle somewhere between my left shoulder blade and my spine (the left penché is more painful for me).

So, OK. Why don't I skip it? Or not push so hard? I'm not sure. I'm not one of those "no pain no gain" types. On the other hand, I keep penchéing. Maybe I'm trying to deny the fact that I'm 44 and my back just doesn't go that way. Maybe I'm really a "no pain no gain" type. Maybe I just don't know my penché limits.

I like the idea of pushing myself--like I did in Ms. Pryor's class Monday. The tricky part is, of course, finding your limits. Especially when my limits might be different from other peoples'. Like I'm pretty good at
balance in TKD and petit allegro in ballet. But it bugs me that I'm not good at stuff that takes a flexible back (penchés) so maybe I push harder there.

It's worked a bit in ballet. I've pushed myself when we do arabesques and now my arabesques are now much nicer than before. Except when my back hurts . . .

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