The Silent Treatment…

As a brand new dancer, I didn’t quite know what to make of being ignored in class. I remember, several months into it, thinking that it may mean that I was doing everything right at the barre – which sounds  really ridiculous, I know, but I had zero experience with ballet class culture, or ettiquette outside of that class. As time passed, since I did not get any personalized attention, or corrections, it was up to me to take initiative and apply the corrections that I heard others be given. Of course, at that level of experience it was hit or miss; a correction such as ‘arm at the barre in front of you, never behind’ is obviously easier to apply than ‘pull up on your standing leg! Reach energy past your fingers!’.

Eventually though, I started to get the feeling that if the teacher doesn’t correct you it might be a very subtle way of telling you that you aren’t good enough, and even with correction you still won’t be. I mean, before, when I couldn’t tell a point from a sickle I could lie to myself that I wasn’t getting corrected because I was doing it right, but once my ballet-vision was honed enough that I could see mistakes, it was obvious that wasn’t the case. For the record, I don’t consider it ignoring if I notice the teacher only gives general group corrections, but when it’s a teacher that is very hands-on I wonder if I’m giving off a ‘don’t approach me’ vibe, or if they feel that I’m not teachable. Or worse, not worth their time.

Since my second teacher did not offer me personalized corrections much either – though she did correct my sickled foot in coupe, and I’m grateful for that – I did start feeling apprehensinve about getting the same treatment from any future teacher I ever tried. My third teacher was the general-group-correction type, but then I met Teacher, who was super specific with her personal – and physical – corrections and got me whipped into shape in no time (it was during my time taking classes with her that what I was doing began to vaguely resemble ballet instead of some strange exercises in arm and leg coordination).

And,well… I really hesitate to discuss this publically… but lately in one of my classes I think I’m being ignored. And honestly, I don’t know how to feel about it. Is it that anything that could be corrected (Faster! Higher! Hold your balance longer!) is something that is beyond my physical ability, as judged my the teacher? Should I trust the teacher that if she sees anything that is within my control to fix that she will tell me? But it’s hard to just trust the teacher when you feel that they might look right past you, and therefore your mistakes might just be invisible…

I’ve read articles before about what to do if you would like the teacher to pay you more attention, but those articles are mostly geared towards teens and pre-pro kids. I feel awkward asking this particular teacher to pay me more attention, because while I don’t like it, I understand that I am not a high-priority student for her. There’s no possibility of me having a career as a dancer, and it’s not her responsibility to satisfy people’s hobby aspirations. But (and I feel like there’s no way to say this without sounding at least a little mean, but I’m trying not to/it’s not my intention) there’s other people in there who also don’t have a possibility of a career and it seems like they get a little more attention? So I start to think it means there’s something wrong with me…

This also brings up the question, what IS the limiting factor when determining who can possibly have a dance career, however short-lived, local/regional, or unpaid (which, as unpaid, would not technically count as a career, per se, but I basically mean dancing with a company, I guess, even if it was not the way the person earns a living). Is it strictly based on age? I know some dancers continue to dance well into middle age, but they did not start as adults so that’s a different story.

Well, anyway, before I go on more tangents, I’d just like to say that when I get corrected often it helps me see how I still have so far to go, while still believing that it’s possible, that the teacher believes I can do it, that I WILL do it. And I do think that just as I am aware of how far I’ve come, raising the expectations will keep me working harder and that’s something I want. But what am I to do, but keep working, working, working, and be grateful for all those teachers that do think I’m worth their time…

A Rough Start And A Great Ending

At the start of the week, I was feeling rather silly about being in the Int/Adv class. Feeling like what am I doing in that class when my skill level is clearly not up to par. I’m not the most beginner person there, but a commenter here once said something wise (and I may be paraphrasing a little, too tired to to look it up, sorry): just because you’re the worst one does not make you a worse dancer [than you already are], and just because you’re the best one [in a particular class] does not make you a better dancer. Horrible paraphrasing job there, but hopefully you get what I mean. Anyway being objective, and looking at where my level  is now, I feel like I don’t belong there…

I have no intention of dropping out of it though – as long as I don’t get all introspective and think about how much my dancing sucks in the scheme of things, I have an amazing time in that class (and it’s not like there’s much spare time for thinking during class anyway…). But now that I am feeling introspective (and rather melancholy – I am probably not a fun person be around right now… ), I can’t help thinking that I have no business there, with the real dancers, the ones that actually have a future in dance, the ones who are not done with their youth and well on the way to middle age.

(I feel I should clarify that these classes are not through an adult recreational program, and there’s dancers training there who are really good, and past alumni have made it to big companies and all that. So I do feel like I’m wasting their class time or taking up space, or something. Taking these classes with the older teens/young adults is a double-edged sword; while there’s no way I would be able to afford such an intense dance course load otherwise, sometimes it just feels like a lot of pressure. And inadequacy. And this strange feeling of not belonging. Not that I feel particularly at home or like I “fit in” when I take a recreational class with only “real” adults… maybe the problem is me…) Hello, tangent!

At barre I don’t feel like i get in the way – though when I mess up obviously (like, wrong foot tendued in  wrong direction) I start to worry that I’ll draw attention to myself.  But in the center, like when doing turns across the floor, it’s pretty bad. I force myself to go faster, but my technique suffers, I feel. And I don’t want to go slow and hold up the better dancers who, for whatever reason, were not in the front of the line/group. Which may not be my fault, that the better people didn’t go forward, but I don’t want to get yelled at about it for not filling in the gap, so yeah…

Well, that was kind of a pointless ramble, but I feel better having written about it. That said, the rest of my week was actually pretty awesome. The pace in Beginner class really picked up this past week, in the form or us doing the barre one exercise after another with hardly a pause (we have a set barre for the session so G Teacher doesn’t have to give us the combination in theory) and I love it. Intermediate class, while more challenging than Beginner (obviously…) still does not fill me with the intimidation that I feel in Int/Adv. It could be because Int. class happens to be a very small class, and I don’t feel like I’m in the way. But I’d be lying if I said that the people there didn’t make a difference. The crowd in Int/Adv is more,well, advanced, and while they’re lovely to watch while in the other group waiting your turn, dancing with them is intimidating. It Int class it feels friendly and with less pressure.

As far as hip hop, there may be some hope yet? For our latest combination, instead of only working on it for a week we’ve been working on it for the past two weeks, and I’m actually remembering it now. At least as far as getting the feet and arms roughly where they should be, moving in the correct direction. H Teacher worked with me a little bit during class individually, so I think maybe I’ve made that jump between Incurable Klutz and just plain bad, and he thinks that some help will make a difference. For what it’s worth, it did.

Still, it doesn’t look like it’s supposed to, but I’m guessing that’s something that will take time. A friend told me to imagine I’m dancing alone in my room, but when I dance alone at home I want to do ballet. So that did make me question whether or not I actually want to dance hip hop. If I do, and hope to actually show improvement, I’m guessing I need to put in some outside of class time. As it is, I don’t practice hip hop on my own time, but I’m thinking it wouldn’t hurt to at least go over the combination in my head.

Another cool thing that happened this week was that through my school I got a free ticket to go watch a live performance of the ballet! It was a small touring company doing a full-length performance of Sleeping Beauty and I had so much fun. I couldn’t get over how sparkly the tutus were in real life. This was my second time watching a ballet live that is not the Nutracker. There aren’t too many opportunities to watch ballet live out where I live without having to drive out to the Big City, so even without the added bonus of the free ticket it was still a rare treat, a wonderful night.

Last night, I had a ballet dream. In my dream, I was in a full time ballet program, like the residential kind (I think I’ve been watching too much Dance Academy…), and I remember I was so thrilled because I could do every combination in class. So yeah, a peek into my subconcious – and impossible – wishes.

Like A Ballet Brainteaser

Now that we’re about a third of the way through the session,the difficulty has really picked up in Int/Adv and Intermediate. Well, I guess in Beginner too – I always get extremely sweaty in that class, working on technique at this excrutiatingly slow speed. And by now I feel that whatever strength I lost in the inter-session period I have regained (I want to say ‘and then some!’)

In Int/Adv though, the tempo is usually rather quick, both in barre and center. Lately, F Teacher has had us do diferent variations on the 8-8-4-4-2-2-1-1-1-1 theme. One of them was still facing the barre, but  afterwards we did three quick degages in first, followed by flexing the foot and quickly beating/closing fifth in front, back and front, then temps lie and then the other side. Yeah, so I may have been  a bit lost on that one, hoping we’ll repeat it in another class…

The other version we did was not facing the barre, and it was 8 degages devant, taking the full 8 counts for the arm to arrive in high fifth, then 8 degages a la second with the arm taking 8 counts to get there, 8 derriere with the arm slowly going to arabesque, then a la seconde, and then repeat the whole thing with 4 degages, then 2, then 1, then soutenu for the other side. The first time F Teacher had us try it, it was so fast that most of us were all over the place. So then she picked us a slower piece of music, and it started to become do-able but still really hard.

Another brainteaser-ish aspect is changing facings at the barre. For example, after our four on dehors rond de jambes (with port de bras so the arm takes the four rond de jambe’s worth of  time to make the transistion through all the positions), with each rond de jambe we pivot, so that at the end of the first one we’re facing away from the barre, then after the second on we’re facing the opposite side, after the third we’re facing the barre, and by the time we close the fourth one we’re facing the way we were. These are challenging not only because of the changing facings/instability aspect, but also timing it so that we’re facing the next direction as the rond de jambe closes. And, of course, going the right way since we do these en dedans as well, with the pivots taking us the opposite direction… I mean, it took me about a year and a half to realize that the slow port de bras follows the same direction as the quick rond de jambes, so yeah… (at my most paranoid times, I imagine some of those quick-natural-dancer-people coming across my blog by coincidence, and reading confessions like these while snickering at my slowness and seeming ineptitude…)

Center has also been getting progressively more difficult (but so much fun; I hate to sound like I’m bragging or gloating, but center – even center in a difficult class – has stopped being the time of class to dread, quite the opposite), with combinations including several direction changes of travel, a quicker tempo overall (both during the combinations themselves, amd also the way we very quickly switch groups from one to the next – picture those company class videos on youtube, that quick) and a variety of turns in even the first combination. Here’s an example of one such combination: 2 tendus croisse devant, 1 tendu efface devant, 1 tendu ecarte, fouette to arabesque, chasse to arabesque, coupe back foot, then bring it up to attitude and promenade to other side, allonge, sous-sus, tombe, pas de bourre, pirouette en dehors, pivot, pirouette en dedans, repeat with degages instead of tendus, and attitude pirouette for pirouette en dedans, other side.

Waltz combinations are a little trickier. They usually start with waltz en tournant and balancés, then F Teacher changes it up every class. One time it was a series of pique arabesques in a circle, followed by pique turns and a series of chaines. To the right we marked it as a class several times before breaking into groups of three, to the left we didn’t mark. It started out alright, but once we got into the pique arabesques it seemed we each went a different way and chaos occured.

We also do piroeutte drills, including one when we’re supposed to do pirouettes continuously/consecutively while the music plays (supposed to prepare us for fouette en tournant, I believe F Teacher said). These are hard but they take out some of my overthinking associated with pirouettes, at least some of the time. They’re from fith, which besides being more difficult, helps me to work on bringing my retire foot to the front of my knee (lately I’ve noticed that on pirouettes from fourth sometimes I get lazy about bringing my foot all the way to the front instead of (incorrectly) in the back).

In Intermediate class, the combinations are less complex, but it does help bridge the gap between Beginner and Intermediate. We’ll do tombe, pas de bourre, pirouette, repeat, or balance, balance, tombe, pas de bourre, repeat. Also our passe releve, pirouette and promenade combination for strength. However, sometimes things get a little more dificult. Lately we’ve been working on fouette (not en tournant …yet… hopefully not for some time, I don’t think I’m ready yet…) across the floor. It goes something like, step, step, fouette saute, step, step, fouette saute, repeat, all the way across the floor. I’ve gotten over the fear factor, but my coordination is still off and I get confused which way I’m going.

Speaking of getting over the fear factor, I did some beated jumps! Mostly royalles, entrechats are still harder for me. I attempt them, but my feet end up not-so-pointed in there. F Teacher said we should have our  entrechats by this level, but I clearly don’t. I’m going for it more though, so I do feel like I’m (slowly) improving. As for the royalles, it’s much harder for me when the left leg is in front, so I’m still trying to figure out if it’s a strength discrepancy from left to right issue. Perhaps I need to work the left side more at the barre at home with some quick footwork exercises? I’ve been working on my left side as it is. Lately I’ve been taking a spot at the barre in class where I can see myself in the mirror for the second side (left), because I feel like if I have the mirror to answer to it makes me really work hard. There’s also the advantage that since we usually face the mirror when marking the combination, by being on that side I get to work that side just a little more. I can see how always marking on the same side can contribute to one side becoming much stronger than the other.


Mini-Review: Bunheads Gel Knee Pads

Making modern and contemporary possible for the aging dancer! Kidding… but some truth to it…

Bunheads Gel Knee Pads

Bunheads Gel Knee Pads

For the most part, when I think of kneepads I think of those big bulky white ones that we wore in junior high p.e. when playing volleyball. So when a dance classmate mentioned wearing kneepads during modern (and feeling much more confident about floorwork with them), I did get sad – and feel positively geriatric. But then I saw a different classmate wearing some that looked much more streamlined, and hope grew.

I searched online and apparently the item I was looking for was the Bunheads Gel Knee Pads. After calling my local discount dance store and finding out they don’t carry them (or any style of knee pad, which was surprising given how huge the store is), I called the local not-so-discounted dance store which did. Said not-so-discounted shop is actually quite close to home, so off I went.

The store carried two styles of knee pad, a bulkier type for around 10 bucks, and the Bunheads Gel Knee Pads for around $40. Yes, $40 for some knee pads! So about as much as my three favorite leotards and leg warmers put together. But…cheaper than a knee replacement, so I paid up, grumbling on the inside.

The view from inside

The actual knee pad part

I feel like I have to justify why I picked these out instead of the bulky ones for 1/4 of the price. Well, as the back of the package boasts, these are ‘the first gel knee pads made specifically for dancers’ and are supposedly able to be hidden underneath tights on stage, as well as don’t slip around or roll up. And while I’d have to say that they are visible under tights (I haven’t tried wearing two pairs of tights, but I may do that for the show) – picture below –  I wouldn’t  say they’re distracting. It doesn’t look like, hey that girl’s ready to go to the volleyball game right class! or anything like that. If I wear black leggings – well any actual leggings that are opaque, not tights – they are invisible. I’ll see if I get around to taking another picture to put up.

The store carried two sizes: S/M and L/XL. I got the L/XL and the first time wearing them they felt uncomfortably tight (after several wears they feel much more comfy). I was anticipating this, since some dance stuff tends to run small, which is why I didn’t even bother with the S/M. My legs are rather thin by “normal” standards, but by “dancer” standards they’re XL apparently. Measurements are 14″/35.5 cm circumference around knee, 16″/41 cm around the top of the knee pad band, for comparison. For length, I’m 16″/41cm from hip/greater trochanter to knee, 15.75″/40 cm from knee to ankle/malleolus. (The store had great customer service, as the shopkeeper let me take them out of the package before purchase so I could see what I was getting into. But if you have to buy online, just know they run SMALL)

So, do they work? Yes! I’m able to get on my knees and not be screaming in pain, both then and there and after. At first I doubted them and their effectiveness, and still played it really careful (and besides, this just takes care of my knees and there’s no padding to protect other delicates like my tailbone), but soon as I was feeling completely unhindered. My worries that I wouldn’t be able to continue doing anything that involved any floorwork at all melted away. I only wish I had discovered this product sooner (and, of course, if the price tag was slashed by at least half…).

Here are some truly awful pictures that show how the knee pads look once worn:


Under ballet pink tights

Under ballet pink tights

I assure you they look much less lumpy from farther away.

Since Last Time…

It’s been a few weeks (I think?) since I wrote any class notes, but there’s actually been stuff to write down, just busy-ness combined with a healthy dose of blogging apathy. Anyway, since I last wrote some class notes I have:

Actually consistently landed some pirouettes en dehors, both from fifth and fourth (and then noticed and psyched mysel out…). Yeah, I was surprised, en dehors is not my best kind, but as a whole I am feeling much more confident about them. My en dedans pirouettes – the kind that feel easier for me – have been pretty much reliable… hope that didn’t jinx it…

Then I landed some  prouettes in attitude (en dedans). Still though, they’re a mystery to me – the ones I’ve landed have felt purely by chance – although I did look up on youtube the Kathryn Morgan tutorial for these. They’re hard, however, arabesque pirouettes are harder…

I’ve gotten really comfortable with en dehors promenades (I’m used to going en dedans, so now I can do both), possibly because of this little combination from Intermediate: (tendu a la seconde, close in plie, passe releve)x2,  (tendu a la seconde, close in plie, promenade en dehors)x2, (tendu a la seconde, close in plie, pirouette en dehors)x2. All on the same side  – often twice thru – before doing the other side, major strength building there.

We also do a similar combination, but for 1/4,1/2 and full pirouettes instead. And I got happy when I realized that this means I can do at least 16 consecutive full releves on one leg in center. Sometimes at barre (especially in Int/Adv class), on one of those ultralong single leg balances on releve, after the third combination or so of having to do this I feel like I just can’t anymore and I feel like I’ll never be strong enough, so to be able to find the strength to do that in center is just like… incredible. I still remember when I couldn’t even do one single leg releve at the barre (never mind center). When ever I tell people in person they don’t believe me – “But you’re so strong!” – and that annoys me a bit. I feel like I need to hold on to my identity of the-girl-that-started-off-weak-and-terrible, and I’m still working out my issues on that. I don’t see a resolution to that anytime soon though…

My waltz en tournant has gotten much more fluid, especially at hyperspeed or doubletime or what ever it’s called (the tempo we do in Int/Adv class). I’ve grown to really love waltzing.

It hasn’t been all improvement and such, of course.  Apparently gotten into the (bad) habit of opening up too much when I tendue a la second, like my hips are no longer square to the front. Two different teachers have corrected me on this in the past week, so it means I need to pay some serious attention to this.

Ballet running still sucks. I don’t quite mean the slow, somewhat dreamy run off at the end of the combination with the windmill arms, but this quick, almost urgent kind of run, the kind that leads to a pique arabesque or sous-sus mid-cimbination. Don’t know how else to describe it…the Best Dancer Girl in Int/Adv class (the one that was rude to me a while back) does it perfectly, but she’s ridiculously good. There’s a lot of great dancers in that class, but she just takes it to a different level. I’m doing that thing when you learn from someone despite not liking the person, because I think having someone in class who is at a really high level can be really educational. Of course, this is Int/Adv class; in Beginner I think it would  make the atmosphere kind of intimidating.

My futile attemps at dancing continue in hip hop class. I had to miss a class at the beginning of the week because I wasn’t feeling well, and when I returned for the next class I was hopelessly lost (new combo every week). I do like that H Teacher allows us to videotape the combination, so I’m planning on learning them on my own at home (if I find some time that’s not allocated to ballet!).

I’m also still a really slow learner, despite the fact that I can remember longer combinations now in ballet. I still need to go over certain parts of choreography over and over, dozens of times, in slow motion until I can attempt it at anything approximating normal tempo (more on that later). Also – and I found this out in Pilates, not ballet, but it definitely applies as well – I’m distressingly bad at following without some sort of visual or physical cue. What I mean is, when the teacher gives a combination or directions, if they demonstrate it it’s ok, or if I’m able to mark it (preferably with my feet, but I can deal with that obnoxious hand marking if needed) it’s much better. But if it’s 100% verbal, I kinda… I don’t want to say zone out, but yeah…either that or I’m trying to make sense of it, and I can’t so I have to make a little video of it in my head to try to understand and then I’m behind. Once something’s in my muscle memory it’s not such an issue, but mostly when learning new things. I can’t say that I like this about myself…but whatever. The way I see it, at least I’ve figured out a way that works for me (as opposed to not being able to do it at all), so I’m not going to feel bad that I don’t learn the exact same way as everyone else. I’m just going to enjoy the dancing.

So yeah, in order to learn my choreography (contemporary ballet) for the school show and be able to actually pull it off, I need to practice – a lot. The other day, one of my classmates made a comment, something along the lines of ‘Must be nice – at least you have lots of time to practice, some of us don’t’ or something like that, but I felt I could detect some passive-aggresive tones in there. It made me upset, to be honest. I mean, it’s not like I tell people ‘must be nice to have had parents that put you in dance as a kid’ or ‘at least you got to dance when you were young’ or ‘must be nice to get stuff quickly and be so strong without working at it’ or anything else indicating bitterness about the diferences between us. I don’t know, perhaps I’m being hypersensitive, but I really dislike it when people make it out as though my situation (as far as dancing goes) is somehow perfect. I mean, I started ballet for the first time as few months before I turned 30, and it was such an uphill struggle, still is much of the time.

But apparently I decided I valued it enough to prioritize it above other things (I have no social life to speak off – but then evenif I didn’t have dance I probably still wouldn’t), and yes, I practice, I watch videos repeatedly searching or all the subtleties, I obsess. It may seem contradictory, writing it here publically and all, but I feel like it’s no one’s place to judge me on the amount of practicing I do or the amount of energy I devote to dancing, they should just focus on themselves. Boyfriend makes me feel better when I rant to him though; he says ‘they’re just jealous because their hobby’s not really ballet – it’s buying oufits to wear to ballet class – and they’re mad you actually practice and improve!’  That sounded like a cheap shot, but sometimes I get really upset when someone says something ignorant to me and I don’t stand up or myself.  I should work on that…


Is It ‘Cause Of The Turnout?

Because I just don’t get it! Having tried out more styles of dance now, I still can’t understand why practically every dancer I personally know claims that out of all the dance forms ballet is the most difficult. I mean, do they mean ‘difficult to do well’? To make it look like it’s supposed to? For people who are naturals at dancing to pick up? Or to do at all (as in, without resulting in bodily injury…)?

(Notice that by no means am I saying that ballet is anything short of extremely difficult. I’m saying that I don’t see how every other genre of dance is presumed to be less difficult or less taxing on the body.)

Well, regardless, I’m not seeing/feeling it…

Recently I auditioned for my school’s next production (multi genre, some ballet pieces). Even though I was only interested in ballet as far as performing, I let some of my classmates talk me into the idea of staying for the whole thing. ‘It’ll be fun!’ they said. ‘It’ll look more ‘professional’ I thought, letting my age show (haha).

The audition started with ballet (luckily, though I didn’t know it yet). We were given a simple, beginner-2-ish level combination (something like ballet walk, pique arabesque, faille, pas de bourre, pas de chat, soutenu, glissade, sous-sus, bourre, soutenu, chasse to arabesque finish), the kind of thing I could sort of do sloppily a year ago, almost do two years ago, and didn’t dream of doing three years ago. The nervousness I’d felt over the audition sort of melted away, and I found myself able to remember the combination pretty well. We went over it a few times as a large group, then split off to do it in groups. We didn’t even have to do the left side  which made this easier than the audition i did last year.

Regardless, many of the auditioning dancers were grumbling. I heard mutterings of ‘This is so hard!’ and ‘I don’t get this’. I assume they were there to audition for one of the other genres?

Anyway, the next lady comes out to give us the combination for the Modern part, and I guess I should have taken the fact that she was wearing knee pads as a sign. She has us start kneeling and I’d say 75% of the choreography involved either kneeling, scooting around on our knees, or rolling on to the shoulders on the floor. Not only that, it was really hard for me to remember the choreography, with the steps being unfamiliar and yes, I did end up reverting to freaking out over why I can’t do the combination instead of focusing on remembering. Around this time I started considering the possibility of sneaking out the back door quietly…

And it’s not that I dislike Modern. I took Modern last year for two sessions, but to be fair I specifically chose to take M Teacher, who only does about maybe 15% floorwork at most (not counting warm up/conditioning). This style of Modern was different. It wasincredibly hard on my body, and I found it difficult to pick up steps/moves (are they called steps when you’re only the floor and there’s no literal stepping going on?) because they seemed to blend into each other, like the roll on the floor that becomes a different kind of roll but at some point the legs swithched so you can use the back leg to push off, and roll some more, andI get lost. Oh, and there was no tempo given – we were supposed to go at our own speed while this recording of static and spoken word played.

After this was what I presume was jazz. The first half of the combination – the part when we were upright – was really quick, but after we’d gone over it a few times I found it really fun. But it was too good to be true, because  then came extremely quick floorwork. It was even worse than the Modern. There was this fall onto the side that looked terrifying, then some rolling on the floor and jump back up only to fall to the floor again, several times. Everyone seemed to not be struggling though, like during the ballet portion. I was starting to feel inadequate, like when I was new, like an impostor dancer, Also, everything hurt. I ended up sitting out the last time we went over it.  Couldn’t wait to get home and collapse in the couch and ice whatever needed to be iced – which at that point was looking like a full ice bath. I wondered if my dismal performance in the other genres had affected my audition for the ballet parts . Hoped that it hadn’t all been for nothing – because I’d have to disagree with the classmate that said It’d be fun… (Yes, I did get into the ballet portion. However, it’s contemporary ballet, so still out of my comfort zone. I’m keeping an optimistic attitude about it…)

I mentioned last time, I’ve also been taking a hip hop class. That, too, is incredibly difficult. If I had started off there instead of ballet I know I would have had a hard time. I mean I get it that the vibe is about a million times more relaxed than in ballet class, but the dancing itself is not easy. H Teacher is very specific about the placement and movement quality, and there’s so many things to think about at once, much like in ballet. At this point I’m mostly still focusing on getting the feet where they need to be, and occasionally the arms – usually a count or two behind. On some days I’m undoubtedly the worst dancer in there, but I still manage to have fun. This may have to do with the laidback vibe or maybe it’s because I don’t love it like I do ballet. Who knows?

As far as ballet, I’ve been taking Int/Adv class with F Teacher, Beginner with G Teacher, and Intermediate with A Teacher, Int/Adv class is predictably very challenging. We do some center combinations in two group, one more advanced, one more do-able. I’m doing so much better as far as remembering combinations, but my petit allegro is nowhere near allegro enough for the faster group. In Beginner class we’re mostly working up a sweat with the super slow tendus, working on technique. Intermediate class is fun because it’s at that  level that fits in between a beginner class and intermediate that I’ve taken before (though the barre work is considerably quicker and more complex than center).

I haven’t been writing on here much lately. I could say “I’ve been dancing all the time I could be writing” – and it’d be somewhat true, I’m dancing up to 6 hours some days – but that’s not it, not the whole truth at least. Part of it is that I feel I have to censor myself, or that I can’t give out details at times because I may be identified. And also, I’ve realized that some of the difficulties I’ve been facing would apply regardless of what activity I’m doing, as long as it’s not a solitary one. Rather than writing about ballet class I feel like I would have been just writing about my inadequate social development, anxiety, unrelatable worries,, and issues – and by ‘writing’ I mean whining, just whining and whining without ever doing anything about it. That ties back into the feeling like I have to censor myself part…like it’s ok to admit to the internet that just how much I sucked at ballet, but it’s not ok to admit that I think I suck at being a person…and how much…

Well, that’s a rather low note to end this on, but I’m starting to ramble and I’m tired. But yeah, I’ll write some more when I can do “cheerful” a little better.



A Week Of Firsts

First week of the new session of classes after about a month break. I was excited, but very nervous. The main reason for being nervous was that the Intermediate class I signed up for is actually called Intermediate/Advanced. My first class with the word “Advanced” in the name! Of course, I’m nowhere close to being an Advanced student, I even doubt I’m at the Intermediate level. Petit allegro keeps me firmly grounded in the reality of my (current) ballet abilities, haha.

The first day of an Intermediate class session is always a little nerve-racking because the teacher reserves the right to send you to the Beginner class is you don’t hold up well during class. Barre went well though even though the girl right in front of me was so distractigly good that I was a bit distracted. I don’t know if other people were also feeling the intimidation of dancing with dancers that were Really Good, and if it was obvious, because F Teacher gave us a little pep talk about not being intimidated or concerned with the level of other people in the class. As it was, I was doing my best to just focus on myself and the music and not let myself get psyched out, not feel like I’m not a “real” dancer.

This is even more important in center, I think, because then there’s no hiding at the barre. Our first combination started off  with grand plie, releve sous-sus, developpe devant, developpe derriere to attitude, promenade, pas de bourre, pirouette en dehors and I forget the rest. Grand plies in center still scare me if only for the memory of when I couldn’t do them without falling, so it was a shaky start but I remembered the combination. We were doing the combination in groups, so it did feel like the pressure was on.

For tendus we did tendu croisse devant x2, temps lie devant, tendu croisse derriere x2, temps lie derriere, tendu ecarte, pivot to efface, tombe, pas de bourre, chasse, pirouette en dehors. Even though I felt intimidated, especially since I wound up in the front row, I made sure to do my preparation port de bras and everything. F Teacher said “Good!” To me and since she definitely doesn’t just give away compliments I was thrilled.

For across the floor we did waltz en tournant, balance x2, tombe pas de bourre, chasse to fourth, releve in fourth, pirouette en dehors, pivot to other side efface, pirouette en dedans, soutenu, run off. Once again I amazed myself by actually remembering the combination and not horribly messing up.

I’m also taking Beginner class this session, with G Teacher from the summer session, but since it’s beginner level we mostly worked on alignment, posture and conditioning this week. Since I wasn’t ultra tired from all those classes, I stopped in at New Studio for a class. The drop-in level was pretty good that day, and we did a really fun combination in center ( 4 pas de chat with a slight pause between each one, contretemps, pique arabesque, chasse, tour jete, pirouette en dedans, sous-sus, balance x2, waltz en tournant x2, run off). We got the opportunity to mark it plenty of times, so by the time we did it as a class it was already in my memory even though it used a variety of steps and direction changes.

Another first this week, I took my first hip hop class. It was mostly unplanned – I originally had something else scheduled for that time but those plans fell through. My ballet friend mentioned that there was the hip hop class, and since I’ve been thinking of trying hip hop I figured why not. How’d it go? Well, it’s a good workout, and I had fun – I certainly laughed a lot – but I absolutely looked ridiculous!


The teacher, H Teacher, gave us our first combination: 8 counts of poses (we were supposed to improv our own, and I quickly asked a girl I knew to give me some pointers), then these side steps right and left, four little steps to the front, then step to the side three times quick and bring in the other leg, step the right foot forward and behind, then 1/2 turn to the left, and something called a body roll (which I could not figure out for the life of me), then bring in your right leg and jump on on leg to face front again, then this step I coluld not figure out at all, these arms movements I couldn’t remember, and then these jumps alternating legs that I could do, then 8 more counts of dreaded improv. The arms were up to us. So I looked around and it seemed like everyone knew what they were doing. I was just glad that we went over the combination enough times that at least I wasn’t going left when everyone else was going right. Safety, you know? But I definitely don’t know how to dance, and it shows. I’m ok with it, if anything because I know that it could be so much worse. Even though I don’t think what I was doing could be called dancing, I felt so in shape keeping up with all the jumping. I also think it will help me with the memorizing of combinations because since these steps don’t really have a name like every single ballet step, it’s a bigger challenge for me. And of course, if I actually get proficient in hip hop dance I’m thinking of all the awesome fusion choreographies that I could do.

Another first for this week – this one not so good – my first time being snubbed by a classmate. We were in the Int/Adv class at the barre, and this more advanced girl at the barre I was at asked a different classmate if we were using the inside leg for the second part (we weren’t), and they answered something like ‘I think so?’. I said something like ‘No, because after we do en cloche the outside leg ends up in the back’ and she didn’t reply, but asked the other person again. I repeated what I’d said (just in case she didn’t hear me?) and once again she didn’t acknowledge me at all. Rather than being upset it made me want to laugh. I mean, you must have some serious insecurity issues if you’re going to be rude for no reason to someone you don’t even know, or maybe you’re buying into the ‘prima ballerina’ attitude a little too much. Either way, it didn’t ruin my day or my class experience, but was a good reminder that there’s snotty people out there, and for me to be extra nice to the more beginner people to make up for it.