Friday, October 28, 2011

"Teacher, my shoes are making noise!"

Sometimes, at the beginning of every tap class (also during most lulls or breaks), I feel a little like Ralph Wiggum as he exclaims "Teacher, my shoes are making noise!" I realize that I've only been doing this for less than two weeks, but so far, I have not been able to get over the fact that I have noisy shoes... because let's face it, they're pretty awesome. Don't get me wrong, I still can't make them make any pretty noises yet (in fact, I tried showing off some of my newly acquired skillz to Hannah the other day, and it probably took me 10 minutes to finally get out a decent sounding shuffle ball-change), but the novelty of it is pretty fun! As you may have guessed, I love novelty.

Sometimes I fear that I'm going to have to get Professor Frink
to make me some self-tapping shoes, but at least I haven't fallen over yet.

My love of novelty is actually what made this week's tap class particularly fun. Last week (week 1), we pretty much focused on the basics. We learned basic shuffles, shuffles with toes, shuffles with heels, shuffles with hops, flaps, flaps with toes, flaps with single heels, and flaps with double heels. We learned the technique of it all and did exercises to improve our muscle memory. We only finally left the barre (which I had previously thought was exclusively for ballet) in order to learn traveling flaps (which as the name suggests, meant that we were traveling across the room, making it a bit difficult to stay on the barre). It was very technical, informative, and helpful. For a first class, it was exactly what I hoped for and expected. By the second class, though, we were finally able to mix it up some (granted, not much, as we're all still extremely green). While we still started on the barre for warm ups, our instructor shortly moved us into the middle of the room and started teaching us a routine (and kept joking (hopefully) about us performing it in the recital). This class involved a lot more movement and was much faster paced, which was awesome. We even got into groups to perform the routine for each other. What made it even better was that halfway through the class, our instructor handed us all chorus line canes to use while we danced (she usually teaches the children's class, and children, much like myself, love gimmicks).

I'm really enjoying these classes thus far, and don't foresee that changing any. The instructors have been really nice and all of the other students have been extremely friendly and supportive of one another. Since the studio is across town from me, it's a bit of a hike for a one-hour class, but I think it is definitely worth it.

Are there any classes you've always wanted to sign up for but made up a bunch of excuses not to, then when you finally did realized how fantastic it was? Do you remember how surprisingly awesome Ralph Wiggum was at tap dancing? In the event that we get to use the canes again, should I just stow my pop-up top hat in my dance bag?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Phew! That was a close one...

Yesterday, I narrowly escaped what was sure to be a disappointing, painful, and all around unpleasant experience. That's right, Maddy, Hannah, and I had plans to go rock climbing. usually, I would jump at the chance to go rock climbing... especially a few months ago, when we were climbing at least 3 times a week. Last night, however, I was wary. To be honest, I was terrified. Last time I went climbing was about a month and a half ago during labor day weekend. Looking back, attempting to climb that day was foolish enough.

You see, earlier that week, when climbing, I had made an egregious error, misjudged some distances, completely ignored the existence of some aspects of the wall, and as a result, bashed up my hand pretty bad (more specifically: my thumb). At first, it wasn't an issue. My thumb was bruised, sure, but it didn't hurt very much... hence why I saw no reason to forego climbing that weekend. After that, however, things took a turn for the worse (note: I tend to be a little over dramatic... in reality, it wasn't actually that big of a deal). About a week after the incident, my thumb (and by extension, the rest of my hand/wrist) started really bothering me. It was time to take matters into my own hands (take on my own hand matters? take my hand matters into my own hands?). I tried self treating the problem (at the suggestion of my pretty knowledgeable brother-in-law) by getting one of those wrist support/carpal tunnel friendly bracelets (which probably made things worse for my thumb, as it had the opposite of support for it; my wrist, on the other hand (not literally the other hand... it's just an idiom), felt better than it has in years). After 2 weeks of that brace having little effect other than making my usually impeccable penmanship look wonky, I decided to finally go to a doctor (or hand off the responsibility?). The lady at the Minute Clinic took an x-ray, told me my thumb was jammed, and put me in a splint to wear for a few days. Then she said, in no uncertain terms, that I was not to rock climb until I was fully healed (she also said not to partake in any other activities that would aggravate my thumb, which, to my dismay, included piano playing, X-treme thumb wrestling, and marbles).

About a week later, she called back to tell me that they took another look at the x-ray and discovered that I might have a chip fracture (they weren't sure as the x-ray was kind of fuzzy) and instructed me to go to an orthopedic doctor to have it looked at again. Needless to say, because my thumb was feeling better already, and I didn't cringe or angrily hulk out when typing anymore, I decided to ignore her suggestion and not follow up with anyone (I'm pretty good at both following directions and making smart choices in regards to my health). I haven't really had any issues, and the only times my thumb has really hurt were times when I was doing something weird that equally hurt my other, uninjured thumb.

Anyway, over the past couple weeks, my hand has been doing much better, so when Maddy invited me climbing last night, I figured that now was as good of a time as any to pick it back up. Then I got nervous. What if climbing would aggravate my hand? What if I'm not fully healed yet? What if I should have gone to the doctor, as I was instructed? Even best case scenario, I haven't climbed in so long that I don't have my callouses or my super toned arm muscles anymore (... yeah... no one is believing that I ever had super toned arm muscles... and with good cause). As excited as I was to finally get back into the swing of things, I was kind of flipping out (as I am extremely apt to do), so when Maddy contacted me to let me know that her flight back to town was cancelled due to debris on the runway, I was all too happy to put away my climbing shoes and head over to Hannah's to work on her Halloween costume (or more accurately, eat ice cream and watch Better Off Ted).

I think I'll give my thumb just a little bit longer to heal... then I'll be good to go. In the meantime, I'll stick to hands-free activities like tap dance!

When avoiding an activity due to injury, at what point does it shift from healing to stalling? If my hand has been feeling better, should I jump back in the metaphorical saddle and get back on the wall, or should I actually follow the doctor's advice and follow up with another doctor? Did you ever realize how many hand-themed idioms there are?

P.S. While I'm actually relieved that we didn't go climbing last night, I feel bad celebrating considering that it meant that Maddy was stuck at an airport for what must have seemed like eons. Sorry Maddy! Welcome back!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Everyone is happier when we do the tap-tapioca!

I've been watching a lot of movies as of late. And yes, since the beginning of October, they have been almost exclusively Halloween-esque movies (with the one exception of a late night viewing of Sky High because Kirsten was too scared to go to sleep after watching Scream). What I've noticed is that even Halloween movies, with all of their blood, guts, and all around terror, can hardly resist the lure of dance sequences! Beetlejuice (Beetlejuice Beetlejuice) features Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis using their newly acquired other worldly powers to make an entire family sing and dance to the Banana Boat Song. Leslie Neilson got to show off his (or probably a body double's) dancing ability in both waltzes and tangos in Dracula: Dead and Loving It. We get to see "Madonna" shakin' it with "Dadcula" in Hocus Pocus, Frankenstein and Frankenstein's monster acting as a chorus line in Young Frankenstein, and a romantic floating slow dance in Casper the Friendly GhostSuspiria (fantastic suspense-thriller from the 80s directed by none other than Dario Argento) is about a ballet academy run by a witch/ghost. From Dusk Till Dawn is rife with vampire strippers, so some slight dancing is involved (or at least some jiggling... or whatever vampire strippers do). Gomez and Morticia Addams almost never stop dancing with each other (especially after Morticia speaks in French; Gomez loves when she speaks in French). And let's be honest, I can't be the only person who mentally superimposes the video from "Thriller" at least once during every zombie movie. Even the makers of Mad Monster Party (also the makers of classics such as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Santa Claus is Comin' to Town) decided to ignore the naysayers and look past the fact that swing dance translates horribly in stop motion animation movies when they made Dracula and Francesca (Dr. Frankenstein's lady robot assistant) lindy hop (Dracula's stop motion tap-dance translated even worse).

In Mad Monster Party, both Dracula and a zombie came on to Francesca
 way too strongly for a children's movie, in my opinion

In spite of how bad Dracula's tap dancing was in Mad Monster Party (Frankenstein's monster wasn't that much better), this was one of many dance numbers I've watched recently that has gotten me all the more excited for next Tuesday. "What's happening next Tuesday?" you're probably asking yourself. Well, I'll tell you! Starting next Tuesday, I will spend 8 weeks learning to shuffle, scuffle, chugg, and slap in an adult beginners tap dance workshop! (Note: it's only one 60-minute class each Tuesday, I won't be doing this for 8 weeks continuously.)

I have always wanted to tap dance. When I was young, I would frequently try to trick my mom into getting me tap shoes whenever we'd be buying dress shoes, but something about them being super loud usually tipped her off (she claimed that tap shoes were inappropriate attire for Easter Sunday mass, but I have my suspicions). I even signed up for a tap class one semester in college, but the mixture of tap shoes not being free and the school's request that all dance students wear nothing but leotards and tights (in a class where you're surrounded by stick-thin girls) was enough to make me drop it. But now, after watching Singing in the Rain, Thoroughly Modern Millie, and that one episode of Psych where Gus is an awesome tap dancer, I finally decided to get on the Google and find me a tap class in town. How fortuitous for me that there was an adult beginners workshop starting up so soon!

Even if it does mean that the next 8 weeks are going to be extremely exhausting and hectic (I also joined a recreational kickball league on Wednesdays that lasts 8 weeks... not to mention the fact that holiday season is upon us), I'm really excited about what's in store!

Have you ever tried tap-dancing? Do you think it's odd that the title of this post references one of the only dance numbers in Thoroughly Modern Millie that didn't involve tap-dancing? What's your favorite Halloween movie?