Double Dose of Ballet Wednesday

It’s wednesday, you know what that means! Two ballet classes, one day again.  Also, bringing my weekly ballet class total to 3 classes, a new record for me.

Wednesday morning class

As this semester progresses – I can’t believe week 3 is already over – something I find myself thinking quite a bit is “I love the way this teacher teaches class, but I’m so glad it’s not my first semester taking ballet!”  Class has been so much fun, but if it was my first semester I would have been so miserable and discouraged.  There are so many things that this teacher has us do without holding on to the barre that there was just no way I could do until I had been practicing on my own at home for a while.  Like grand plies in center, degages without the barre, balances in releve for a long time, chasse to arabesque with arms, and I’m sure there’s other moves that I can’t recall right now, but those are all things that at this time are possible but challenging.  A year and a half ago? Just downright impossible for me. 

 So far though, this teacher is my favorite teacher I’ve had at community college ballet (I’ve had three different ones here).  She’s really nice and I love when she demonstrates a move because it just looks gorgeous.  I believe she said that she’s an ex professional ballerina and I think that is so cool to take class with a retired professional dancer teaching.  Her feet, extensions, and turns are amazing!

Today, after our warm up plies and tendus we did a different tendu exercise that included rond de jambe, so that was really nice.  Rond de jambe is one of my favorite barre moves – and I can actually do them right, so that might have something to do with it.  No, it’s because I like them that I made myself learn to do them right, like it would be a shame to ruin such a pretty move.  They remind me of drawing circles in geometry class. 

The port de bras that we do at barre during our tendu combinations is nice.  Besides just bending to the side (I think that’s technically called a port de corps but anyway), and to the back, we also this this like circular arm movement (it’s really hard to describe) in which we take our arm out to side and then bend back, kind of following our arm, but our upper body kind of does a circle too.  It was just as hard to perform it the first time as it is to describe it , but luckily my first time with that move wasn’t today but a few weeks ago in wednesday evening class.

Apparently the leg swings through first into attitude devant then back through first to attitude derriere have a name : en balancoire, which means like a seesaw.  Today teacher passed out a list with over 70 ballet terms on it, so that’s the only way I knew how to spell that, I didn’t acquire awesome French spelling overnight. 

When we did grand battements a la seconde, I was facing the mirror and when we all kicked I was like “Is that my leg!? OMG!”  To be fair, it is a beginner class, but I could kick higher than a lot of people, and the initial shock was just incredible.  Besides the height – which honestly isn’t that impressive, just about chest height, but it’s impressive for me – it was also cool how my leg did not come crashing back down to the floor, but landed gently, the way teacher said it should be.  She actually said “Good!” to me!   Now, to be fair, this was holding the barre.  If I had to do a grand battement without the barre I would probably (though hopefully not) fall on my face.  Given this teacher’s love of doing things while letting go of the barre, I could see barre-less grand battements in my near future. Hopefully not too near…

In center, we did the same combination we’ve been working on for the last few classes.  I have to say, the idea of a grand plie in center is scarier than the reality of it at my current skill level, but I still get sooo nervous before doing it.  Teacher is so nice, and says that it’s ok if we fall, so it’s not even that there’s a lot of pressure or anything (unlike last semester’s teacher) but I still don’t want to look all clumsy.  

Of course, with that in mind (not wanting to look clumsy), we had a new across-the-floor move today.  Teacher said it was a chasse, but wednesday evening teacher calls a different move – an almost skipping, hopping, traveling move, where the same leg stays in front – a chasse.  This morning’s chasse involved starting in plie and then sliding one of our heels forward to fourth position and then pushing off with our back foot.  While doing first arabesque arms, unless the coordnination was too much for the particular student.  The arm coordination was not a problem for me, as I always practice stepping into arabesque at home with the arms as well.  The problem was that I’m used to stepping into arabesque from standing in first position and this move involved moving/sliding  our foot forward while plie-ing and then pushing up to straighten our leg in front. Balancing was a bit hard to come by on this part and I felt so much better when one of the girls said that she wasn’t able to balance. That makes two of us!

Obviously, I will be obsessively working on that move at home until my next class with this teacher.  

We did many sautes,  echappes, and changements today, though less than last class.  If I had to guesstimate I would say we did 64 of them total, based on the 8 counts.  The foot strengthening exercises may be helping because I felt as though I could point my feet in the air just a tiny bit more than on monday. Yay, inprovement (however minuscule)!

Teacher said next week we will be focusing on turns and she mentioned chaines, at which point I saw a fellow student make a panicked expression.  I’m guessing she doesn’t much care for chaines, while I’d rather turn all day than have to jump. It’s crazy how we all have our own individual strengths and weaknesses!        

Wednesday evening class

There were 10 of us for class today, 9 ladies and 1 young man.  Before class one of the other ladies started a conversation with me and apparently one of the other students,  whom I had previously thought was her friend, is her daughter! That is so cute, I would’ve loved to have that kind of relationship with my mom.  But no, my mom is still passive aggressively hinting that she’d rather I not take ballet, so that’s not going to happen.  I’m starting to recognize some of the other students at this studio so slowly but surely I’m getting comfortable.  Feeling like part of the group is not a prerequisite for me to have a good class, but it sure helps!  

I like how even though this is a basic beginner class, at the barre we work up to using arms instead of just leaving them in second.  It definitely makes the tendu exercises way more interesting.  Since things like keeping my leg turned out while tondu-ing or remembering to not bend my knees are things that I’ve known and applied for a while, it can get a bit boring if we don’t incorporate arms.  Sometimes when just starting a class with a different teacher I mess up because I’m not familiar with the exercise – and my memory can sometimes suck – but I feel like I’m familiar enough with this teacher’s combinations now that I can focus on actually trying to dance, rather than how many times am I going to tendu in each direction.  Or especially things like the circular motion port de bras I mentioned earlier, which I’m finally starting to feel confident about.

We practiced the wrap-around coupes a lot today, slowly bringing the foot up to passe and then back down, possibly because we didn’t do developpes since there were too many brand newish people.  My wrap-around coupes have improved a bit since I was first introduced to this way of coupe-ing back a couple months ago when I first came to this studio.  Back then the movement was completely foreign to me (like if everything in ballet wasn’t at first!) but now I’m able to do both styles of coupe. I may post progress pictures in the near future if I remember, can’t right now because my “photographer” is not home.

My center sautes were a visible improvement over last week.  I actually saw pointed feet, and it happened more than once.  We then did echappes and chagements.  It’s a bit harder to point my feet when we do echappes and I start the jump from second, but I’ll get there.  For changements, the teacher said that when we bring the legs together we should squeeze them together in the air. I tried doing that and kept landing on top of my own feet.  No, I know your supposed to literally land on your own feet but what I mean is I kept landing kith part of one foot on top of part of the other foot.  This is something I need to work on, but at least the pointing of the feet is sort of coming along. Continuing to do the theraband exercises every day should show some results by next wednesday hopefully.

We also did jetes across the floor. Last time I attempted a jete was before my ankle incident – I had been too afraid to attempt any jumps that involved landing on only one foot – but I wasn’t afraind and went for it. There was no pain at all.  That doesn’t mean it looked right, of course.  I need to figure out a way to get that back leg straightened, but I’m glad I didn’t freeze up and not jump as I’ve seen happen to other people (including one lady today).

Another great ballet day, despite the chasse fail in morning class. The positives just happen to outweigh the negatives regardless!

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