My first time in center was a disaster! For an extremely shy person such as myself, it was also like a point of no return. I mean, once you’ve stood in a skin-tight leotard, tights and nothing else in front of 20-something snickering 19-year-olds and an accompanist that keeps looking at you and shaking their head, it doesn’t get any worse, right?
The reason for the snickering and head shaking was that it seemed like once I was away from the barre I couldn’t balance at all. No, I don’t mean in releve or passe (which obviously at the time I wasn’t going to be doing anytime soon). I mean, we were in first position and the teacher wanted us to tendu to second and practice shifting our weight. Well, I couldn’t do that with out having to correct for it by losing what little turnout I had. There was a lot of wobbling. Then she wanted us to tendu degage and actually lift up the foot. Yeah, that wasn’t going to be happening for me for a few more weeks.
Then we practiced sautes. Have I mentioned that I have never been good at jumping? So, the exercise was simple in theory: we were going to saute to the beat of the music, then turn around halfway while in the air( I don’t know if this has a name besides saute while half turning), then jump into second position and back to first. The first two sautes were ok, I was not in correct timing, but at least I left the ground. The turning sautes were not ok. I near lost my balance on my first attemp to turn and almost fell. And even though we were supposed to stay in place while jumping, I think in the course of the exercise I travelled about three feet backwards, almost landing on a felow student.
This was around the time the accompanist started giving me the stink eye. I got to be honest, I almost couldn’t blame him. Here he was, playing this beautiful music for us to have class to, and I was ruining the beauty of it by clumsily heaving myself around. I was mortified, though at the same time indignant. After all, if only experienced students were allowed they should have said so, right? I was a beginner, who signed up for a beginner’s class and I would have never dreamed that it would involve much public humiliation due to my obvious beginner-ness.
Just when I though it wouldn’t get harder, we went across the floor. We did chasses, which (of course) I couldn’t really do, but watching the people who did know was nice. They looked so graceful! I vowed to one day be that graceful, haha. I decided that my practice at home, which had so far just consisted of plies and rising up to strengthen my legs, should be updated to include some kind of center. Before my plan had been to wait until I sort of had my balance before attampting center but if in class we were going to be expected to do it, then better to be pRepared than sorry.