Monday Class: Ballin’ and Balances

Can’t believe it’s week 5 of the semester already…

Also, WordPress just informed me that this is my 50th post. I’m guessing that’s some kind of milestone or something, or else they wouldn’t have so graciously brought this to my attention. 

We did our regular barre that we usually do, plies, tendus, degages, piques, ronde de jambes. The new thing we did in during barre was bringing up our foot to coupe and passe in the back of the leg and then taking our hands off the barre to balance. While I’ve been practicing my balance with my foot in coupe and passe, I’d only been working on it with my foot in front, so it was one of those moments of uncertainty that keep occuring in ballet class.  (I just typo-ed and it said “baller class” instead, which made me giggle. Well, the way some classes cost, sometimes you gotta be a baller also?)

During grand battements, teacher corrected me on my standing leg because it was slightly bent.  I have hyperextended knees, so sometimes bending it just enough to give it that “straight” appearance but not too much is tricky.  My working leg was looking good though, and I like how I can point my feet while they are  in the air. It took me so many months to be able to do that!

Then it was time for center. Today we worked on balances. Not balancing,  though we did work on balancing as well, but the move that kind of rocks side-to-side.  Pronounced balan-say.  As soon as I heard we were going to be doing balances I got excited in that “Yay! A move I’ve done before and practiced excessively. What could go wrong?!”  As it turns out, plenty.

First of all, last semester’s teacher (the strict, scary, you-aren’t-really-trying one, from here on known as Strict Teacher) taught us to do our balances with a jump. As in, jump out onto a toe-pointed right leg, then bring in left leg to back coupe, step down onto left foot and straighten left leg and releve on it, bringing up the front right foot off the ground (remembering to point!), then bring down right foot, kickout left leg and jump onto it and repeat on other side.  Strict Teacher explicitly said that she wanted to see a jumping motion in there, lots of ballon (French for bounce).  This is the way I’d been practicing my balances since.

But, as I found out today, not every style of ballet does balances the same way.  Teacher wanted us to pas de cheval our right leg out to the side, then we bring the left foot to coupe back and straighten the left leg, releve, bring up right foot, repeat.  There was no jumping involved! The non-jumping way is actually easier that the jumping way – to be fair, I don’t like to jump – but in class the much slower timing was really throwing me off.  Last semester’s combinations involved quick, jumpy balances and today we were doing more of an adagio with balances.  Also, even though I have been practicing the balances at home for a while, my port de bras during them is very awkward.  And that’s just the arms; don’t get me started on the part where the upper body kind of has to lean in to it ever so slightly! In other words, during class that part of class I almost felt like I didn’t know what I was doing.  Looking on the positive side, at least I was doing a decent job of not losing my balance.

It could just be in my head, but I think I noticed some improvement in my sautes.  It may be all the theraband exercises I’ve been doing, or it may be that my brain is finally relaying the messages to my feet in a timely manner, but I managed to somewhat point my feet while in midair.  And I managed to land with my feet in something that almost resembled first position, keeping in mind my previous corrections to land with my feet closer together.

 When we do echappes with changements I’ve noticed that my foot-pointing concentration runs out a bit, though. It’s especially harder for me to point my feet when jumping from second position. However, by the end of the 16 counts my feet landed in the right position and my arms were sorta doing what they were supposed to.  Also, I didn’t step on myself at all!

One thing I’m grateful for is that we stand too far from the mirror to see in close detail.  The reason for this is that I’m pretty sure I make a face like I’m trying my hardest, which doesn’t look ballet-ish at all. It would also be nice if I didn’t visible run out of breath and end up panting in between set of sautes,

During chaines, I tried really hard to keep my arms in the right position – elbows up! – and to keep my feet close-ish together.  What really helped (sorry if this sounds mean) is that when it was time to go across the floor I lined up with some students that were more beginner than me.  This meant that there was no pressure in performing the chaines quickly but instead I could focus on accuracy.  We were going longways across the studio, so there from where we start it looked like a football field length away to the other wall.  Not only that, the clock that I use to spot is not there, only mirrors!  It was more challenging for sure, but not the low point of class by far. That honor still goes to sautes.   

Oh, and one of my classmates clapped for me when I finished my turns.  That was really cool of her. I think it’s the first time anyone’s ever clapped for me during ballet class. Just wanted to write that down so I can read it if I’m ever feeling really down on ballet class and/or myself again.

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