Friday, November 19, 2010

In Appreciation of Professional Performers

Jackie Burns as Elphaba, Chandra Lee Schwartz as Glinda
Toronto production of Wicked - November 2010
I've been fortunate enough to take in two stellar live performances this month. I saw the musical Wicked with my sister-in-law last week, and this week took my daughter to the National Ballet's Cinderella.

Both have got me thinking about discipline and determination. I am pretty good about getting daily exercise and working hard at the gym, but I'm not pushing myself much further than I can already go. Don't get me wrong - I'm much, much fitter than I was 2 years ago, but my progress has been very slow and steady. There's decent exercise but not a dramatic amount of challenge in a lunchtime walk, a few flights of stairs, 30 minutes in a circuit. I've never trained for a marathon, half-marathon or anything like that, and have a hard time understanding just how much sheer determination it takes to train, rehearse and prepare for a competition or for a series of physical performances.

Sonja Rodriguez as Cinderella 
National Ballet of Canada, November 2010
The Toronto Star published the following about ballet dancers this week. I've never come anywhere close to anything like this - you?

In rehearsal — seven hours a day, five days a week — dancers pursue beauty, some call it transcendence. Still, it stems from an earthbound work ethic, sweat beading above arched eyebrows and streaking along exquisite jaw lines. T-shirts darken at the neck and in the small of the back. Breathing hardens. There is pain. It always hurts, dancers say. Bunions, corns, tendinitis, stress fractures, aching backs. Toes, red and swollen, are bandaged. Slender calves are on ice. Some roll foam cylinders up and down their thighs.

...In rehearsal, dancers work to the point where they don’t have to think about each step, [Principal Dancer Sonja] Rodriquez explains. At 37, she is delicately constructed, doll-like, but with muscle and sinew. “You do it over and over until the mechanics become second nature, so you get past the point where your brain is thinking so much about what the body has to do and where muscle memory takes over.”

Wow. Here's a recap from this week -

Love the poster from the Toronto production - 2010
Saturday - Beautiful day. Rode my bike to Curves and back (5K round trip), worked out. Hopped on the subway with my daughter in the afternoon to catch the Cinderella matinee.

Sunday - Amost had a lazy day...but got off my butt in the afternoon and rode my bike to the grocery store and back, a 6K round trip. Feeling great! 

Monday - Stairs to 7 in AM, 0.75km walk + stairs to 7 at lunch; hit Curves after dinner for a special Monday "power half hour". My abs felt great after!

Tuesday - Feeling stiff this morning! Stairs to 7 in AM, 2.25km power walk at lunch, light Curves workout after dinner.

Wednesday - Still oh, so stiff. That power half hour kicked my butt. Skipped the stairs (sore hamstrings), but went for a lunchtime powerwalk with Lynda. We hit 2.64km in 22 minutes. We are officially in training for the Santa Shuffle on 12/4. GO GO GO!

Thursday - Stairs to 7 in AM; power walk to my doctor's office (checkup) and back at lunch. 2.0K round trip, 9 minutes each way. Wow, are my abs feeling strong with this power walking. My doctor is very pleased with me :-)
Friday - Walk to work from my doctor's office in the AM (1K), power walk with Lynda at lunch (2.65K in 22 minutes), Curves workout after work. TIRED NOW!
What I'm reading this week - The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. Talk about discipline and determination - Lisbeth Salader has epic amounts of both! Also reading Growing Up Jung by Micah Toub - one man's story of what adolescence is like when both of your parents are Jungian therapists.

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