Another Double Dose of Ballet

Obviously wednesday is quickly becoming my favorite day of the week…

Wednesday morning class

Now that this teacher’s barre combinations are becoming more familiar to me I find I’m better able to work on doing the moves right instead of just remembering how the combination goes.  We did plenty of balancing with our foot in coupe and passe, both with arms in middle and high fifth.  Teacher also went into more detail about coordinating the arms with our plies.  The demi plies’s arm movement is nothing new, but for grand plies we are to take our arm (which should already be in second) and raise it up a bit, straightening our fingers a little. The arm stays there while we go into demi plie and then when we go into grand plie the arm comes in an an almost sweeping motion to low fifth. We then bring the arm up through the center as we rise back up to demi plie and straighten up as our arm goes back to second.  Lots to think about, if I ever heard this during my first semester of taking ballet my brain was too busy focusing on maintaining my turnout during the grand plies to even think about arms.

During barre, teacher actually said “Good!” to me when we were doing releve sous-sus with balancing, and it startled me so much that I came back down instead of staying up in releve.  But I was still pretty pleased.

On to center. Teacher said we were going to work on ballet walking, and if I’m not mistaken  (which I could be, since as I’ve previously mentioned, my short-term memory sometimes is crap)  she said what we were doing  was called a pas de cheval.  And I totally recognized it as the “fondue walk from wednesday evening class which meant both that I wasn’t freaking out because it’s a new, unpracticed-in-private thing and I could actually do it without losing my balance.  The feeling of relief that washed over me was incredible! Of course there’s still things to work on, like making sure my arms in second while walking don’t look “like a scarecrow” as teacher told someone, but the feeling off there being no pressure and “What if I can’t balance at all?”  wasn’t there and it was great.

Chaines across the floor were practiced again.  This time teacher didn’t correct me on the distance between my feet, so hopefully that means I did at least a little bit better than on monday.  She did correct me on my arms though, first saying that the circle in front of me was too big (or was that too small? Well, the point is, it needs work!) and then about my elbows.  I was a bit confused so I did something that’s out of my comfort zone and stayed after class to ask.  She clarified  that what I was doing was dropping my elbows, and showed me the difference, so now it’s clear what I need to work on.  She said “other than that it’s beautiful” which was really, super nice of her.  Even if she was being too nice it totally made my day!

In sautes, I think my pointing of the feet is improving gradually. Wednesday evening class is smaller – and the distance to the mirror is also closer – so I’ll be able to focus on my feet in the mirror and check to see how the pointing is coming along.  Teacher corrected me on landing because I always seem to land with my feet further away from each other than in first. The crappy thing is that since I live in a second story apartment and have neighbors living directly under me I can’t practice sautes at home (well, I could, but when I land it sounds like an elephant crashing down and all I can think is “if someone lived above me and did that daily I’d be super pissed and treat others as you want to be treated,” so no)  which means all the saute practice I get has to be in class.  Since I only take classes on mondays and wednesdays I do wonder if I would improve faster if I had another practice day in there. It’s a long time from wednesday to monday!

The low point of class was when we were standing in center awaiting instructions and my inner critic was like “You call those tights ‘ballet pink’? That’s more like ‘faded discolored ballet cream’.” It’s true, my tights have either faded from too much washing and wearing or something because they are looking really beat up. Besides the holes and runs that I previously tried to stop with nail polish, there appears to be almost space between the individual threads.  I don’t really want to spend $16 (plus 10% California sales tax) on a new pair but I just may have to.  Not yet though.  I have been thinking of either wearing the ill-fitting black tights to evening class or not even wearing tights and a leotard to it, since only about 20% of the class does on average.  Morning classes have a dress code though, so I need my dancewear to last for those.  At the same time, wearing my leotard helps me make sure that my back is straight and all the other alignment issues that street clothes hide, so I may just wear it anyway.

Oh, almost forgot. One of the more advanced girls did – rather, has been doing, but her class attendance is a bit sporadic – barre in pointe shoes and the rest of us were totally watching curiously.  Today I was watching her do her releve sous-sus. Pointe shoes are loud!

Wednesday evening class

I’ve come to the conclusion that I should do a preliminary “barre” warm up at home before evening class. At least a few run through of plies in every position and some releves. Having had another class 6 or 7 hours before is not warm up…

There was 10 people in class, including 2 who never had tried ballet before.  One of them was a guy who did other types of dance and the other was a lady with no dance experience.  For whatever reason though it felt like the teacher was going through the barre kind of quick with minimal explanations, which was strange given the two beginners.

The new lady and I shared a barre. During our little stretch break we had the chance to talk a little.  We talked about the ballet learning curve, I encouraged her to be patient,  and assured her that it does get (at least a little) better.  By the end of class she didn’t seem too encouraged though.

The music the teacher played for ronde de jambes was really nice, and vaguely familiar.  The timing was weird though, and I found myself a beat too fast or too slow. Actually, both happened (too fast and too slow) during the course of the exercise.

We did glissades, a move which after a few months or so of practicing became do-able and eventually, even fun. We hadn’t done them in this class before on the days I’d attended.  The combination was something like 3 glissades to the right (left foot front, no feet switching), pas de bourree, then 3 glissades to the left and pas de bourree.  Pretty simple, but a nice opportunity to not feel clumsy outside of my living room. The pas de bourrees also did not involve the coupe  at the end, only in the beginning. I wonder if this is like a “beginner” variation of it or if my first teacher’s version was just extra hard.

On the sautes, the foot pointing seemed to be about the same as last week still. However, I did manage to not step on myself during the changements, which was good.

My across the floor fondu walking (pas de cheval?) went well.  For whatever reason I have really improved on it in the past  week or so.  Not once did I feel like I was going to lose my balance, which was a nice feeling. The first time I ever tried that move  was in wednesday evening class, a few weeks ago. Perhaps even a month. And then I just realized “I blogged about it! I could look it up.” But I’ll finish writing out first, before I forget.   But anyway, the first time we tried it, I was really having trouble balancing, though I did understand what we were supposed to be doing.  (Editted 9/19/14:  Ok, looked it up. My introduction to this move was on 8/13 which would place it at 5 weeks before this class.)

Then we did jetes. The ones with my left leg in front were terrible! The right ones were mediocre (in other words, not good, but luckily no one in today’s class were particularly great either)  but at least I kind of knew what I was doing. Except I  wasn’t doing it good enough. The left legged ones, for whatever reason my brain was done cooperating. The weirdest thing is, I just did a few right now to verify that I wasn’t getting the legs mixed up, and my left one was now almost equally mediocre as my right.

Reverance in wednesday evening class is so weird.  The way it usually works is the teacher tells us to copy after her and then she does this crazy hard – though beautiful – port de bras combination that absolutely none of the students can do.  She just tells us to follow along as best as we can.  In all my other ballet class, reverance was taught to us by the teacher, and then we did pretty much the same thing every time.

After class, since I was already having such an interesting day, I decided to do something out of character again and ask the teacher a question after class.But I will be saving that for a later post…

4 thoughts on “Another Double Dose of Ballet

  1. kitteacat

    Don’t spend $16 on a pair of tights!! Go online and buy a couple pairs of “off” brands – I like Natalie and Balera, and I’ve tried the Theatricals ones too. They ALWAYS have tight sales – in fact, Discount Dance Supply has the Natalie convertibles on sale for under $5 right now. Save your extra money for a pretty leotard =)

    1. flowergirlkit Post author

      Thanks for the suggestion. Buying the tights online sounds like a good idea. Have you previously ordered from Discount Dance Supply’s website? If so, was it a good experience – reasonably quick, no card overcharging, received same item as ordered, any customer service issues, etc? Boyfriend’s a bit apprehensive about buying anything that’s not from amazon, lol.
      A new leotard also sounds great. That’s a buy-in-person-and-try-it-on kind of item though. I’m planning on hitting up a dancewear outlet in the nearish future for that.

      1. kitteacat

        I’ve never had any problems with Discount Dance or All About Dance – they’re both really easy and quick. They a great return policy too if you want to try new leotards – I’ve sent several back that either didn’t fit or I didn’t like the style on me. As long as the tags are on, they’ve taken it back! Can’t return tights, of course =)

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