A few months ago one of my fellow adults was commenting on the sweaty state of some of us others. She noted that she rarely sweats. Someone (may have been the teacher, actually) said, “Well, in order to sweat, one must exert oneself.” Sounds mean, but in the atmosphere of our class it simply became the next inside joke.
“Oh my, So-and-So, is that sweat? You must really be exerting yourself today!”
“Oh wow, you’re really sweaty… if I exerted myself I bet I’d be sweaty, too.”
And so on…
So here, for your reading pleasure, is Rori’s Sweat-Based Guide to Ballet Exertion. For these purposes I have assumed that the environment is a ballet studio in, say, spring or fall, thus no a/c or heat is running and the studio is around 70F (for the US people… around 21C for the rest of the world).
Not Exerting Oneself at All: Warm-up attire stays on throughout barre and perhaps through the entire class (pretty much only happens if not actually participating in class)
Low Exertion: The shrug comes off around rond de jambes, the legwarmers stay on throughout barre, maybe into centre (rare)
Normal Exertion: Shrug comes off between pliés and battements tendus, legwarmers are tossed after rond de jambes, mild under-boob sweat.
High Level of Exertion: Shrug is avoided entirely or tossed in between sides on pliés. Legwarmers are tossed after battements tendus. By rond de jambes there is a waterfall down your back. Leo ends up mostly soaked front and back.
Getting One’s Ass Kicked: Shrug? Legwarmers? When you see this teacher you know to not even bother and simply make sure you bring a large bottle of very cold water with you to the barre. Waterfall down back starts during battements tendus. By rond de jambes your entire body is shaking. By barre adage (if not sooner) sweat is beading up on your forearms. Mascara has started to melt into your eyes making the rest of class blurry (really do need to start investing in waterproof mascara). By the end of barre you sound as though you are having an asthma attack even though you don’t have asthma. At centre you find your ears becoming blocked (maybe this only happens to me). After petit allegro you feel lightheaded. And after class you contemplate whether it is absolutely necessary to wear clothes in public, then realize that if you don’t put clothes on over the nasty wet dancewear you will soak the upholstery in your car so concede to a t-shirt and jeans (but say “no way!” to the fleece jacket you wore in!), get in the car, blast the fan, drive with the windows open, and then get home and find you have to have a stern talking-to with yourself before going in to convince yourself that, because you are a dancer, no, you do not have a good excuse to take the elevator up to your condo, you must walk up the two flights of stairs. You then pause between the two flights to rest while pretending that you are really just stopping to let your neighbor with the two full garbage bags pass by unimpeded. Make cup of coffee to keep self awake in the shower.
Guess which level I experienced this morning? Phew!