The day has come!

Guys, guys, I have great news!

Last Wednesday, I had a ballet class.

*opens bottle of champagne*

I’m still a little sore, to be honest, but that’s the best part. My muscles have been reminding me of that ballet class for two days now, so I wouldn’t forget that it’s real. This has been my first dance class since the end of last June. Which is a long, long time. It was quite the struggle to find ballet classes here though. I didn’t expect it to be so difficult… If you want to do salsa or sexy dance though, worry not, on every corner of the street you will find a dance school for that. But ballet? Hoh no. And the classes that should be given, couldn’t happen because there were too little people to take part.

But luckily, one of the dance schools managed to gather enough people, and now there are dance classes!

The level was quite basic, because one of the girls started from scratch (and did a good job, seeing the circumstances!). But even for me it was sort of challenging, because I have no condition anymore. That is clear. After the class though, the teacher told me that I’m actually too good and that there are dance classes somewhere in a professional theater here, where I would fit better. That was quite the compliment! I’ll see what will happen, but at least there are dance classes, so that’s already very very good. And well, it can do no harm to work on your basic technique I suppose.

Also, when your in a dance class, you have no time to think. Or at least, the only thoughts crossing your mind are ‘stretch your leg! turn out! oh, and breathe, maybe!’. There was no time to think about my ongoing love-hate relationship with people, which has been haunting me this entire week. I’ve had a great time, because the weather was lovely and warm and sunny and I have been walking and walking, but on the other hand I’ve been so annoyed by certain people. Sometimes, logic doesn’t explain behaviour. I can be the queen of ratio, but when I try to understand boys, it fails completely. I wonder why they say women are difficult to understand, because honestly, I think I’m way more clear in my behaviour and everything. I’m never the one going all weird all of sudden. It annoys me endlessly when people aren’t clear to me.

But I’m not letting it get in the way. I’ve had a good week, I’ve had a good time, and in the end I am happy. And sore. Just perfect!

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To Dance Or Not To Be

One of the first things most people get to know about me, is that I am a dancer. It’s one of those most present, obvious things about me, apparently. NBI the dancer.

But I’m not taking dance classes anymore. I didn’t enroll myself, because of a few reasons. The first one, obviously, is that I believed I would be in Russia now. When I decided to stay, I only had one more week to enroll myself. But I also suddenly had to start my life in Belgium over again. The second reason is that I didn’t want to pay for a whole year while I could only attend classes for three months. And last but not least, they would be preparing a show, which I couldn’t take part in, because I will be abroad then.

Long story short, I’m currently not taking dance classes.

But how I miss it, how I miss it… Mentally, physically, I think I underestimated this. I don’t mind not getting up at 8 every Saturday morning, but that’s about the only bright side so far. I just really want to dance, I always feel the need to dance, but now I lack the space to properly do exercises. Every Saturday, every, every Saturday evening, I do dance in my room at home. It’s something. There is not enough space to do all the fun stuff though. No real jumping, no going from one side to the other while turning, no such things are possible.

There is also no good teacher who makes up new exercises, who corrects me, who makes good choreographies. What I do every Saturday evening is mainly to do something physical, to stay in shape a little, to not lose my technique and flexibility. Also, I do it to move. I still feel good when doing ballet exercises, even when space is limited.

I’ve come to realize that dancing makes me deal with things as well. It’s a form of meditation. You think of the music, the steps, all that, but you don’t really get the chance to think of the assignment you still have to do, that one thing you said to that person, what you still have to buy for dinner. And sometimes, when you’re really struggling with some issue, it helps to dance it out a little. Therapy in the dance studio. Yes, I know I’m getting cheesy.

I don’t just miss it mentally though. I’ve never had back aches so often, and I think I now where they come from : I move too little. The best cure for back aches so far for me, is to use my back, bend it, dance. It helps. Backs should be used often, and when you sit for too long, it will protest.

So you see, I’m made to dance. I’m not made to dance professionally, but my body screams for moving when I hear music. I still can’t go from point A to B without throwing in some arm movements or kicking legs. That’s what I’m made from still, that’s what I’m made for still. So I can’t wait to take dance classes again, to be in a dance studio again and to move, and to sweat, to feel elegant again.

I don’t want it. I just need it.

(To breathe, to feel, to know I’m alive – bonuspoint for anyone getting that Tool reference.)

Of course, no post on dance without a good video. This dance duet is so powerful, so beautiful, so heart crushing and impressive (all those lifts!). Warning: may beat you up mentally. But trust me, it’s worth it.

 

Is there something you cannot live without? What defines you for most people? Do you love dance? I promise not to hate on you if you don’t, however hard that will be 😉

Hunted down!

Great news: The Indecisive Eejit has hunted the music down! Wonderful, wonderful. I would like to thank everyone who has commented and tried to help me. I knew that asking help here would lead to something, like it has done before already. I can now present you the one and only piece of music used for the Simple Things pas de deux:

Silouans song!

 

You see, the harder it gets to find something, the more you want to find it. And now Juls has helped me out, I can listen to this music without the coughing and background sounds. I like this piece of music a lot. If you know some of Arvo Part’s music, you can immediately recognise it as his work. I’ve never known any other composer who works with silence like him. He builds in these quiet moments, where you almost want to hold your breath. And strings, how I love strings. It’s such beautiful music and I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do, especially now it’s got a name!

Thank you so much, Juls 🙂

Treasure Hunting # 8 : The Hunt is On

It’s been a long time since I took out my gun to go on a hunt. The hunt for music, that is. I think I kind of forgot this more or less series. But I need your help. Recently I stumbled upon a video of a danced duet including my favourite ballerina (Ekaterina Kondaurova, if you’d like to know). I immediately recognised the music as being Arvo Part’s work, but I couldn’t figure out what it was exactly. Even after using my high tech systems (Shazam, Google music recognise thing) I couldn’t find it. I’ve searched on YouTube for a while, but this piece of music seems to be hidden away.

So now I would like to ask your help. Do you recognise this? Do you know a way to find out what it is? Pretty please?

I think I have found the choreographer on Facebook, but I find it a bit weird to send him a message asking what that particular piece is. He’s Russian though, so it would be good to send him something in Russian. Still I’d first like to try it this way. The last time I asked your help, it worked, so I have good hope that this time you will hunt the treasure for me.

The music I am searching for starts at 2:03 and ends at 7:24. Meanwhile you can watch the interesting pas de deux. It’s a good pas de deux if you ask me – especially with such music!

Side Effects

Note: fear no dance clips or dance talk! I will only talk about the weird things you start to do when you are a dancer. Because it affects your life in the weirdest way… I have been dancing for twelve years now, and let’s take a look at the weird habits I’ve got now thanks to that.

1. Looking at feet and legs and having full conversations about them

Nice feet and legs are important in dance. Archy feet are admired. So you can easily spot dancers: when you hear someone having an entire conversations on feet, it’s prettyy safe to say you found him. Plus: as a dancer you tend to look at legs and feet, whether they belong to a boy or girl, and judge them by how they’d work out in dance.

2. Random arm movements

My arms are my weak spot in dance, so I tend to train movements when I’m not using them. Mostly when I’m studying or moving from spot A to spot B. My family is used to that by now, but I sometimes forget that I shouldn’t do that when there are other people around…

3. Moving from spot A to B by pirouettes

Or arabesques. Or piqués. Or whatever. It’s very hard not to throw in some moves when you get the chance. Though just like the arm movements, you should watch out where you’re doing that…

4. “I can’t have short hair, how am I supposed to tie it up in a bun then!?”

Look. This is a nice leg and a good foot. Not hyperflexible, but with a nice line. From Pointe Magazine I believe. Ekaterina Kondaurova.

5. Appreciating the smell of hairspray

It’s the smell of performances, so it’s a good smell, because performing is fun. I really like the scent, though I’m probably one of the few people in this world…

6. Turning out your legs when waiting in line

Why not train your turn out when you get the chance, right? Turnout is not as easy as it looks. So when you’re waiting in line, it’s the perfect setting to train it. Unless you don’t like to get weird looks, that is.

7. Having an extended knowlegde of classical music and French

It’s not unusual to like classical music, but as a classical dancer, chances are high that you know more about it than your neighbour, to name someone. You hear it so often, dance to it, see performances with it, it’s just a common thing. Right?
Everything in ballet has a French name, so wherever you live, you will know a bit of French.

8. Judging music on it’s ‘danceability’

I tend to like music when I can dance to it. I know I like music a whole lot when I really, really, want to dance to it. That’s why dubstep is a no-go for me. You can only dance it to it when you’re high or drunk, which I am not. So what’s the fuss about then? I also see movements in my head when hearing music. Thinking about dancers can keep me busy until I fall alseep. Making up random choreographies to the music playing in my head. It’s very calming.

They should put a warning on dance. ‘Affects your life in a serious way!’

So what are your hobbies and what weird habits have you got because of them?

Inspiration came when discussing feet over here.

Arrival of the Birds and Spring

Not to make you jealous or anything, but spring has arrived here, with his flowery hat and a big smile. Here ducklings, some sun for you. At first , it was just sunlight that woke you up. But then gradually it started becoming really warm. It started becoming spring. The world somehow seemed brighter at moments, and there is this sense of possibilities that spring carries with him. Though these possibilities never really turn out to be true, at least you get that feeling.
The biggest problem with spring is that I don’t want to be locked up inside. As soon as I see the sun from behind a window, something in me starts screaming GET OUT GET OUT THERE’S SUN. I haven’t had a productive week. I spent quite some time outside a cafe, embraced by sun beams, discovering a new beer to add to my list of Favourite Beers. Despite all the work I have to do, I have been just enjoying what we get. It could soon be over – last year it started snowing again at the end of March. While this year that seems unlikely, you just never know.
Next to that you should always try to enjoy what you get. A few days ago I heard the news that one of the people I went to high school with, who’s as old as me, has gotten cancer again, for the second time in about a year. It doesn’t look good. It looks really bad actually. I don’t know this guy all too well, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s really confronting to hear this kind of news. Therefore I completely forgive myself or not doing anything this week. It’s the worst thing to say these days, but you only live once is true after all.

So I’m just trying to take what I can get, try to have fun while it lasts, try to get more vitamin D and beer. Healthiest of healthy things. Next to that there’s other great news. This weekend I have a dance show – I like! As we always have dance shows when the weather’s nice, I associate sunlight and warmth with nights spent at the theatre. I’m really looking forward to being on stage again. And even better, we’ve got great music to dance to. I believe this is the closest to perfection one can get: spring, sitting outside a cafe with beer, having a dance show with very beautiful music.

Hell yeah.

The World’s a Stage

With the exams currently happening and a lack of sleep, my emotional balance is a bit off sometimes. Mostly I’m just tired and sick of learning, but I know from experience that everything can become a huge drama if you don’t hold yourself back. And often, mostly before an oral exam I worry for, I tell myself one should always maintain one’s dignity and self-control. Like the exam is a stage, you’re going up, smile and wave, and if you need to breakdown, do it backstage.

If there’s one thing you learn from dancing, it’s to keep going no matter what’s hurting, no matter how tired you are. Unfortunately this virtue mostly only exists in me when I’m in a dance class, and not so much when I’m studying. Though I must say I have become pretty good at smiling and waving when I actually really want to cry. I used to take the test when I was really angry, then I’d go to a mirror and smile as charming as possible.

But the same counts for physical pain. I remember hitting someone during my last show and it hurt like hell even weeks later on (poor me). What to do what to do? Easy – you smile and that’s it. The world is a stage and even when you hit someone, or someone hits you, you have to smile and keep going. I know it’s easier when you’re really on stage and there’s music playing, but in the end you’ll be the one curtsying elegantly, so you win.

Ballet has this really good tool to help you train this ability. They’re called pointe shoes and make you dance on your toes. Really on them? Yes, on top of your toes. Is that uncomfortable? What do you think, darling? It’s not the most comfortable thing ever, no, but when you have the right shoes and they have been molded a bit, it’s actually not as bad as you might imagine. I had my first pair of pointe shoes when I was 13, but I didn’t have class, so I trained a bit by myself. They got too small, but I still kept using them. This year though, my teacher decided we would have pointe class, so now I’ve got a new pair which really supports my feet and look great.

Me is happy!

015

Am I a ballerina now?

Getting pointe shoes is a big step for every dancer. It’s like a dream coming through – even if that dream kills your toes. It’s the cherry on the cake. Because really, pointes give a kind of magic you can never really get without them. They make you look so light you can just dance on your toes like it’s nothing, while in fact it needs year of training. Also, in ballet lines are very important. When you’re not on pointe, your line always gets broken by your toes sticking out. Eech.

020 - kopieFor those wondering, it are Blochs serenades. For others wondering, that’s the door to my room. I don’t think the floor is real wood, but it is very cosy.
Now, where was I? As you can see lines keep going in these. Together with the ribbons showing off how small and nice your ankles are – I must admit I like slender ankles – it makes you look very elegant, perhaps fragile, while in fact you are really strong, especially in the legs, and your toes probably look bruised and battered. But you know, it’s all about illusions, as you might remember.

002It might be due to the many years of practice in the too small pointe shoes, but I’m actually quite okay in them. I managed to do a double pirouette already, I am able to do some rather inelegant fouettés, and the hops Giselle does across the stage (hops on pointe indeed!), I should be able to do those too. Though of course I only practised everything in my room. In our dance class we’re doing the obligatory exercises to strengthen your feet and ankles, but I’m not patient enough – I actually want to dance in them!

Now the only thing left to do for me, is to be ‘discovered’ by a ballet company and become the ruling star there. I feel like I’m getting closer already… But above all I get to learn to stand on my toes and smile though they feel a bit crushed. However much they get to hurt, you just keep going because it looks good and is fun somehow, and in the end you will get to curtsy, just like you deserve.

018If you’re wondering now whether it was all just an excuse to show you my feet in pointe shoes, well, it totally was.

Team building with Igor

I started Slavic studies at university quite out of the blue. There was no clear reason, no Russian grandmother of Polish boyfriend, it just seemed nice to me. Actually it went like this: I was browsing through a brochure of one of the universities and eliminated negatively. Medicine? No. Law? No. Science? No. Engineering? NO. Communication sciences? Perhaps… But there are already so many people doing this. No. Art sciences? Perhaps… But as soon as I discovered this also included knowing what copper is exactly made of – no no no. Japanese studies? Naaah, I have nothing with Japan. Slavic studies? Yeah, why not?

Considering how hard it is for me to take decisions, this was fairly easy. After I had found that and did some research, I stopped looking for other things. Partially because I felt this was a good choice, but probably also because I was lazy and I didn’t want to end up in a giant dilemma. So after let’s say searching for two, three months, I had made up my mind.

I went to university unprepared, and ended up in a class where everyone seemed to be passionate about either Russian or Polish. There were people who had family there, others knew the Russian alphabet and some grammar, some knew the history. I knew nothing. It was a bit ridiculous. But I went to university to learn all these things – I assumed it had no use to learn them in advance if I’d be learning them there. Call it lazy, but it paid off. Never do too much effort.

“Russian language to the best” or something like that. Source.

I quickly fell in love with both languages. I enjoyed the worlds opening up for me since I now understood some words. Love at first sight. Never did I regret my decision – it was one of the best I ever made. But this year, things changed. After a billion trillion exercises I knew nothing of, I kinda broke down and started hating Russian. Let me put it this way: let’s say Polish is a guy named Jacek, and Russian is a guy named Igor.
Jacek and I would be sitting in our garden, reading poetry together while listening classical music and some ’80s music. We’d have calm conversations and make delicious pierogi in the evening.
But Igor and I… We would be throwing plates at each other, screaming and raging, ignoring each other a few days and then slowly make up with a bottle of vodka and a balalaika playing in the background. For me, Russian has alway been the language of passion and heavy feelings- both good and bad…

You see, Igor and I, we need team building to keep the bond strong so we can be buddies for the rest of our lives. Which might sound ridiculous, but really, team building with your language is very important in case you want to graduate in it.
So here are a few steps in order to keep the love burning.

1. Fall in love

If you don’t fall in love at least once, it will be very hard to maintain and keep on going. Fall in love once and you’ll always know what made you start this – even when you almost throw up after making all the exercises.

2. Find a music band that sings in your beloved language

You will hear the sounds of your languages, which is great, and you’ll want to know what the lyrics mean. You’ll get used to certain ways of saying things, certain phrases and so on. (Warning: it is possible that sometimes in classe, you will feel the need to sing out loud when someone uses a phrases from a certain song.) Music really helps me getting a grip on Russian. The band I’m at the moment crazy about is Louna.

I love their jackets in this picture! She’s totally badass and has a very, very good voice. A crush on the second from left is optional (but kinda inevitable).

3. Buy a good grammar book

In case your syllabus isn’t all too clear. And honestly, chances are high. But a good grammar book gives you a feeling of certainty. You can always rely on it and all the information is nicely put together. I myself was lucky enough to buy one in a group purchase. I’m very grateful to the older students for organizing that purchase. My grammar book is my best friend at the moment.

4. Find an idol who speaks your beloved language

I found one, and guess what she does for a living! If you guessed ‘ballerina’, you’re very right. Ekaterina Kondaurova is my current girl crush because she appears to be an amazing dancer and smart, kind woman. In fact she has many things in common with who I am and above all who I want to be. Though there are many good, great, astonishing dancers, she caught my eye with her maturity and attitude (not only the ballet attitude). It would be totally awesome to meet her in real life!
The best thing about this, is that I watch her talk in videos on YouTube. By that you get to hear the sounds of the language again. Understanding natives speakers is the aim, so listening to them is a good exercise. It will only get more fun to hear your idol talking when you understand him or her.

5. Use it

Talk. Try to find people who speak the same language. Write. Listen. Do something with it and you’ll feel how much fun it is – regardless of all the frustrations it caused you to have, it will feel good once you can use the language. Then it becomes worth it. That’s what you want!

So, in case you want to learn a new languages, keep this in mind, and you will succeed.
I hope.

Evil is the new sexy (part 2)

I don’t feel the need to be evil as much anymore since it stopped raining and the sun every now and then shows up, but still, there are too many good examples of evilness to just let go of the subject. Don’t miss out and read this too!
First, I want to show you a short dance clip from So You Think You Can Dance – the Flemish-Dutch version. This clip is about a writer and his muse, with Mad World from Gary Jules. Look at the setting, the clothes, the light! It’s one of the best pieces in that show as far as I have seen. But more importantly: look at the evilness of the girl. She is really good, really playing with him, and obviously in control. I’m still impressed every time I watch it. Look at the way she uses the table, her movements are so… great!
But I’ll stop talking, here’s the clip. (For those of you fearing dance: it’s only a short clip!)

Slightly unrelated, but I find this song a bit funny. He sings ‘When people run in circles it’s a very, very mad world’, and at my high school, people actually walked around in circles during the break all the time…

Okay, breathe again, the next part is not a dance clip, but a scene from Inception. If you haven’t seen this movie, see it asap. Seriously. Mal is an evil character in it, but that’s because she only appears in a dream version of herself. Scary, but with that dress and that look pretty impressive as well. But very, very scary above all…

Oh dear, oh dear. I’d be running for my life… Even though this is only in a dream!

If you start to think this is only a fiction phenomenon, think again. Have you ever heard the name Lyudmila Pavlichenko? She’s considered one of the best female snipers in the world, with 309 kills. She was a Soviet sniper during World War 2. It seems that she’s quite respected by everyone, of course in the first place by the Soviet Union, but she also traveled a lot and was greeted enthusiastically. I mean, I do respect her talent for shooting, but on the other hand it’s a bit of a scary talent… (Though I would like to learn how to shoot a whole, whole lot. I just wouldn’t be able to kill people. But things are different during wars of course.)

Forgive me one more dance clip, but this one in particular has to be mentioned. Most people have heard of Swan Lake already, but if you believe it is only about white swans running on stage, you’re wrong. This is a story of intrigue and deception, betrayal, honour, love! Oh the drama. In fact the main roles are two swans: the good white one, and the evil black one. The black one tricks the prince, makes him believe she’s the good white swan, and by that she nearly kills the white one. She’s obviously the more sexy one, the stronger one, she’s evilness pretending to be good.
My favourite ballerina, especially in these kinds of role, is Ekaterina Kondaurova. I’m aware that most of you probably don’t really care about turn out or perfect lines, but look at her eyes instead, her expression, the way she tricks the prince- it’s not just dancing, but acting as well. She’s so good with her eyes. It’s very real. You can put it in HD so you really see her face. It is especially that face of her that will trick you as well! So sit back and let yourself be deceived by the evil but sexy black swan, and see you next time for more evilness!

 

A Perfect Woman

A perfect woman should be …

1. Elegant, like a dancer.

This is a picture of Gelsey Kirkland, and to me it shows the ultimate elegance a ballerina can have. The long neck, the neat hair, the attitude… Dancers have a specific way of moving. Every tiny step is filled with a kind of attitude that you barely see anywhere else.

In this video, you can see the extremely graceful Altynai Asylmuratova dancing one of the most beautiful variations in ballet history. And yes, enthusiasm sort of takes over… What I mean to say though, is that she is so elegant though she is standing on her toes – which isn’t quite what toes are meant for. Dancers know how to move their body, there is some kind of harmony in their movements which requires ages of training. But in the end, they rock this elegance like no one else.

 

2. Somewhat cheeky, like Anne Boleyn.

Because, admit it, she’s got fire. The look in her eyes, the way she moves, what man could resist that? But it’s something you can’t really fake. If you do so, you will look a bit ridiculous, unfortunately. I guess it’s something you either have or don’t have. She’s got it, and every woman wants it too. And it’s not about being really brutal or saying ‘let’s skip the conversation, where’s your bed?’. This is about something in your movements that is subtle and at the same obvious enough. After all, you want someone to get your message while not looking like a slut.

 

3. Dignified, like Queen Elizabeth.

Apparently the Tudors-era is a good source of inspiration if you’re looking for virtues. Like Queen Elizabeth, I consider it to be a good thing to have this poker face and majestic behaviour. She’s not controlled by emotions, she’s not embarrassed, she is the Queen and she knows it. It demands a kind of strength, a kind of view on the world to establish this. But I think it’s really important to sometimes feel this majestic. You should always have this sense of dignity, otherwise you’ll just become a woman who doesn’t care about what she looks like and how she behaves. But that won’t get you much respect… Just don’t be afraid to have class. It’s totally okay.

 

4. Able to party well, like a Gatsby Girl.

Because seriously, those parties over at Gatsby’s looked amazing! All glittery and glamorous, good-looking people and dancing until the sun comes up again. Isn’t that the most wonderful party you can imagine? Those people knew how to throw a party and have fun. The fact that there’s a tragic story behind all these wild events isn’t important. What matters is that from time to time, you’d better have a drink and fun. You can’t be a pokerfacing queen all the time…

 

5. Intriguing, like a mermaid.

This video is from the last Pirates of the Caribbean movie. It’s probably not very hard to be intriguing when you’re in fact just swimming around naked, but still, these mermaids have something that makes you interested. Especially with that voice… Hypnotic to say at least. They could make you do everything, and you will never fathom them. Which makes them all the more attractive I guess.

 

6. Real, like you and me.

The best part of great women is the fact that they exist. Perfection is nowhere to be found, but I still believe it’s better to find/be a nearly perfect real woman than a non-existing perfect woman. Being real is a big deal. Rhyme not intended.

So, this is my view on what a perfect woman would more or less look like. This is mainly meant as a source of inspiration (and an excuse to share some great videos). I’m not even close to perfect, no one is, but everyone’s got something that makes him/her great, right? Which doesn’t mean you can’t be inspired by some good examples. Therefore this post.

Feel free to add something, or to disagree!