My (Forgetful and Weird) Brain and Ballet

I’ve mentioned how I’m not one of those people who learns how to move easily and through  observation only – I need to practice a movement to get an idea of what I’m doing rather than just watch a demonstration.  This is fine at the barre, because I usually (discretely) mark the combinations as the teacher is doing them.  In center it can be a bit of a challenge, as we’re often lined up, packed pretty tightly, and I don’t wish to draw any unecessary attention to myself.  Usually, I tell myself that  I will practice at home, so that I don’t full-on freak out when I can’t figure out how to do something.  Unfortunately, my short term memory is not the greatest, so even though I try to jot down basic corrections in my car before coming home from class to write about it, I end up forgetting a good deal of what the teacher says.  Thankfully, my brain does seem to remember things the second time around, so teacher’s repetition and consistent class attendance have saved me thus far.

Been practicing the chasses ( as taught by wednesday morning class ballet teacher), hoping to find my balance – or at least not feel completely lost.  At some point on thursday afternoon (yesterday), one of the teacher’s corrections popped back into my head : push your ankle forward.  Ok, that helped – before I had been trying to point out my foot. We were starting from a plie, so I guess I was trying to tendu from that position and then shift my weight over to the front foot.  Any other method of moving my leg just did not seem to make any sense to my brain at the moment. I don’t know what it is, but in class my brain and body sometimes just don’t want to cooperate, especially when learning new-to-me moves. Familiar moves kind of have become etched onto my muscle memore, so my conscious brain can’t mess me up too much.

Anyway, at home, in private and with no pressure, it just clicks.  So I tried the move again, this time pushing my foot forward but not to a point, just so that it was resembling fourth position.  And then when I shifted my weight I actually did not feel off balance. That’s when I remembered that the teacher had  mentioned something about fourth position, though I don’t know why I thought she meant to go through fourth, not go to fourth.  Nevermind that she was demonstrating it while saying it, but like I said, my brain works in weird ways. It was crazy, a complete 180 of how it had felt when I had tried to do it with a pointed foot. At first it was almost unbelievable, because as I had left class on wednesday morning I had felt like I had an almost impossible task ahead of me : figure out a way to not be tipping over as we make our way across the floor in this move.

Overnight, from thursday to friday , my body apparently forgot how it felt to do it correctly, because during friday’s practice I started to feel a little off balance.  I have no idea why my body instinctively wants to point the foot!  Then I remembered more that the teacher said it was almost like a skating motion and I realized that I had been doing it way too slow. Once again I had one of those everything clicks moments.

Notice how I was slowly remembering the information piece by piece over a period of time of two days. At this rate I would be lost trying to remember everything I did if I ever did make it to one of those all-day ballet class thingies! I want to think that if given the opportunity I would still try though.

I showed Boyfriend, who said he could actually see the difference and how I was more unbalanced by doing it the pointed foot way. I then told him how during class it’s hard for me to learn brand new things, how I have to repeat it a bunch of times at home, how I wish I didn’t have that issue with learning new things, especially when it comes to movement or dancing.  I realized that any time we are away from the barre I start to panic, and this keeps me from being as focused as I could be. He said that I need to worry less about falling, so I can focus more on my body and following the instructions but I said “I can’t help it. The whole first semester I took ballet I was always tipping over, and I couldn’t do anything without holding on to the barre at all.  So whenever we’re about to do something unfamiliar I start getting nervous.”  He made me realize that I am stronger now than I was then, so there should be no reason to be always assuming that I won’t be able to do a brand new move automatically.  Hopefully I can remember this…

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