Ornamental Plaster Sculpting, Mural Painting, Faux Finishing, and Imaginative Interior Design.

Ornamental Plaster Sculpting, Mural Painting, Faux Finishing, and Imaginative Interior Design.
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Monday, November 10, 2014

Raising the Barre

Folks who have toured my home, Belle Amie, know she's pretty much all creative space with a bedroom, a guest room, and a bath.  Oh sure, Belle's a 4 "bedroom" house, but one of those is the office where I write stuff like these blog posts, and the other has been my dance studio for years.  That's the room originally intended as the master bedroom, but what grown-up needs an acre for a bed and dresser?  I decided to sleep in a smaller bedroom, and put this space to better use.  To be honest, despite my intention to have my dancer's body back by my 50th birthday in 2015, I've used the room infrequently these past few months.  I might have reached the goal anyway, but something happened recently that just about insures I'll make it, or at least work blessed hard at it.

About a month or so ago, I was giving a tour to a house guest, and our mutual friend Jill was tagging along.  Jill happens to be the mama of Artgirl, who's been featured frequently in my blog posts over the last four years (Scroll down or back a few posts and you'll find her).  When we got to the dance room, my guest Yvonne, an accomplished Irish dancer, was a bit disappointed she hadn't brought dance shoes, and wouldn't be around long enough to play, anyway.  Jill, who's seen the room a dozen times, suddenly lit up with an idea.  Her younger daughter would really love to play in the dance room...maybe with a little dance instruction...maybe I'd like to consider...?  Jill is one of those people who has a hopeful "maybe???" face nobody can say no to, which explains why my thighs are now screaming every Monday afternoon, even as my heart leaps and sings with joy.

Dancegirl has relocated the "ugly machine" to this corner, and the wicker chaise stacks on top of it during dance class.  This is probably as much to get the chaise out of the way of her leaping as to keep me from collapsing onto it after a dizzying series of turns.  I am expected not to just keep up, but to lead, after all.  Nothing like a child's faith in your abilities to bring out reserves you thought were long gone! 

You see, I've always loved dance (used to be pretty serious about it, in fact) but I haven't taken classes myself for nearly twenty years, and as I've said, I'm not exactly (snort!) in dance shape.  Jill didn't think this not-so-little detail mattered one bit, since Ava is just nine, and has only taken beginner level classes.  Jill's problem was that ballet, jazz and tap classes aren't available here in town, and Ava doesn't really like kickline, which is a competition dance sport done in the school gym.  Not that she totally loves recitals and (most especially not) itchy costumes, either.  She just loves to dance, and she loves the atmosphere of a proper dance studio.  Sooooo, since I have several years of (rusty) ballet, tap and jazz training, and the requisite hardwood floors and a few mirrors, Jill and I stuck a deal:  

Artgirl on Monday mornings, Dancegirl on Monday afternoons.  (When the bliss of that sinks in, feel free to envy me every Monday as you groan your way to the office.)   I LOVE MONDAYS!

"Instrument of torture", a.k.a. "ugly machine", a.k.a. generously gifted Bowflex.  (Thank you again and always, Sarah and Oscar!)  Little dancers don't need to work out, but I find it helps grown ones tremendously!

After sifting through the pins I sent her on Pinterest, a Youtube video from So You Think You Can Dance caught Ava's eye.  It involved stairs, which of course I don't have in that room.  I do have nice wide cement steps up to my front porch though, so for the past few weeks, we've done a quick warm-up, using a chair as a ballet barre, then headed out front to dance on the stairs.  

If you've never toured my house, you may also not know that it is in the heart of downtown, on Main Street, directly across from The Sparetime Tavern.  Yes, I have been tap dancing up and down my front steps, during afternoon rush hour, on Main Street, in yoga pants.  Secretly, I've always wanted to dance down Main Street here, like I did with my friends back in high school, but somehow in the fantasy, I'm a good bit sleeker, the dance is a bit more polished, and passers-by are charmed.  But hey, guess what?!?  Do this with a delightfully vibrant 9-year-old, and passers-by actually are totally charmed, and I'm positive (more or less) that not one of them even notices my butt in yoga pants (this is my current fantasy, and I like it just fine as is, thank you).

"I got this."  Dancegirl has been watching her older sister, Artgirl, get to play with power tools for a few years, now.  Today, she finally got her turn.  Obviously, she's been paying close attention all this time. 
Today, however, we could not dance on the steps.  Nature has done her natural thing, and the season has turned.  We did not get the 12 inches of predicted snow, but we got a dusting of it just wet and cold enough to make things slippery, so Ava agreed that it's time to bring dance back indoors.  We were ready for that, as she's directed the rearranging of the space over the past few weeks.  Well, mostly ready.  

She's been patiently waiting for me to install a proper ballet barre, and was happy to see I'd at least scrounged up materials from the treasure trove in the basement.  I'd wanted to shop for prettier brackets and a heavier pole, but function was needed now, so I'll upgrade in the future, when I find just the right thing.  I was about to promise her yet again that I would install it during the coming week, when it occurred to me she might want to help.  She's watched her big sister and me use power tools on several carpentry projects over the years, so wondering if she wanted a turn at it, I gave her the choice of doing a chair-barre warmup , or installing the barre... like, with power tools.   Yup.  Kid after my own heart, I tell ya.
It's all about centering.

...and keeping at it until you get it right.  Carpentry and dance have a lot in common, I guess.

Look out world!  Like any ballerina, Dancegirl here is strong and fearless and coordinated.  She can manage a tape measure and a cordless drill just fine, thank you very much, and she'll follow it with a fine grand jete' (that's a big leap) and a few pretty pirouettes. Ta-Da!!!

So today, while my not-exactly-fit body got a break, my dance student raised the barre.  Not only did she install it, but she expects me to use it, so I can teach her all those moves I used to do.  I'm actually pretty excited about the challenge.  My nearly fifty year old knees, and my comfortably padded derriere maybe not so much, but they'll come around.  By the time Spring arrives and the snow melts, it will be recital time on Main Street.  Dancegirl will steal the show, but I'll be keeping up with her, as we dance with sleek polished style down the front steps, and on down the block.  We'll keep you posted on the date, in case you'd like a front row seat at the Sparetime Tavern.  (Oh, look Jill!  It's everything you ever wanted in a dance class, plus beer served at the spring recital!!!)

Seriously, when's the last time you evaluated how you use the space in your home?  Whether you have kids or not, you probably have a creative soul that's longing for room to sew, craft, dance, paint, or something, and most homes have rooms that really aren't used to best advantage.  Look with fresh eyes, and if you need help with imagining how this could possibly work in your home, don't hesitate to email me!  

Have you repurposed a room in your home?  Tell us about it in the comments, below! 

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