Thursday, April 12, 2012


On Thursdays since January, I have been taking a ballet barre class.  I never took any formal dance classes growing up, although I did do gymnastics.  I have had an interest in getting into dance for a while, and when I saw a listing for this class, I registered.

I absolutely love it!  The class focuses primarily on leg work and the core muscles.  After my first class, I ached for a couple of days.  I noticed my legs becoming more toned after only three classes!  I now am used to working those muscles out more so I don't hurt for days afterward anymore.  I enjoy the class and the instructor so much.

This session I have registered for the ballet yoga class the instructor also teaches as I like her so much.  The first class was this week.  I have been doing yoga intermittently for six years.  My practice has focused mostly hatha yoga, though I have tried vinyasa yoga.  In this class, the instructor focuses on flowing movements and incorporates some ballet leg work.  It's actually quite a work out; I have never broken a sweat in a hatha yoga class, but I did in this one.

These ballet classes have made me think back to an exhibit I saw at the Vancouver Art Gallery just before I left for France in 2010 for which Degas' "End of the Arabesque" was used in its promotion.  "The Modern Woman: Drawings by Degas Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec and Other Masterpieces from the Musée D'Orsay" was a fascinating survey of the female form in the art of the nineteenth-century Impressionists.  Having just taken an art history class my last term of school, I was so glad to have visited this exhibit and shared it with my mentor and fellow art-loving friend, Jacqui.  
In the 1850s, some artists turned away from the traditional themes of painting . . . to take their inspiration from "modern" life . . . . They began to take a different view of the female form, abandoning representations of saints and goddesses in favour of real women, portraying them in a fading continuity or in modern life at its harshest.
As I recall, the "fading continuity" was especially evident in the traditional poses many of the artists still employed, even if the settings were contemporary.  There were some repeating themes in the depiction of modern women, though it has been so long I do not remember if they were all by the same artist(s): women bathing, (ballet) dancers, and working women.  

I really enjoyed this exhibit and I remember how excited I was about being able to visit the Musée d'Orsay for the first time just a few weeks later. 

(image: "End of the Arabesque" by Edgar Degas via Musée d'Orsay)


Caylena Cahill said...

I danced almost all of my life!! I started when I was like 3 or 4, doing something my studio called "Tumbling Funk" - but I soon realized I was no good at it and switched to ballet. I started doing tap around the end of elementary school, in addition to the 'performing team' in lyrical - necessitating a modern and ballet dance class. I did these for a while and even dabbled in dance in college. I didn't as much as I had wanted to. for various reasons... but I did start to take a contemporary ballet class in Sainté - but hurt myself in the first lesson and never returned.

All that to say... I love Degas and always have. I loved seeing his work in NYC and in Paris, as well as having purchased some replicas of his sculptures and postcards/greeting cards of his paintings in various European cities. :-)


Vanessa said...

That's so cool! I really like dancing. I remember a faint desire to do ballet when I was in fourth or fifth grade, but by then it already felt like I would be too old to start. I didn't get the impression that they were very welcoming. I'm pretty flexible still. I just think of what if I had started even sooner, the things I could do! I definitely want to find an adult ballet class to take because I've been pirouetting and dancing around the apartment so much this last week!