Monday Class: Lonely At The Barre

Today I had a whole barre to myself, though some other students were crammed 3 or 4 to a barre.  It was weird, and gave me anxiety that no one wants to be my barre-mate because I suck so much they don’t want to follow me, or I have cooties or smell or something.  Yes, illogical, unconstructive (and ridiculous) thoughts – I know the combinations, I showered! –  but they were there and I have to acknowledge them.  Tried to play it off like I didn’t notice, but was secretly hoping some of the later arrivals would join me.  Nobody did, and I had to put on my game face and pretend that all was well.

At barre, Teacher introduced a new port de bra for plies, so it threw me off somewhat. By now I’ve learned that I get used to the way movements go together and learn how to do them in that order but when the order is changed the difficulty increases way more than I thought it would.  It’s crazy how something as small as “instead of bringing arm in from second, take arm out to second” can throw me off!

We did some tendus  a la seconde and weight shifts at barre but away from the barre – no hands! I liked how I didn’t mess up that exercise and my feet looked so nice and pointy.  My balance during the degages without holding the barre has gotten better as well.  We do the 8-8-4-4-2-2-1-1-1-1 exercise (8 degages right leg, 8 left leg, 4 right leg. ect.) and I’ve noticed my 8 and 4 count degages are strong but by the time we get to 2 on each side I feel a bit wavery.  Not enought to fall over but enough that my foot may not be as pointed as it could be by the 1 counts.

We worked on the wrap-around coupe (sur le cou de pied),  bringing it up to passe and developpe, holding a balance with our leg out in front or the side of us.   Luckily, unlike during my first semester of ballet, by now I can sort of balance during this.  Developpe-ing was so hard back then when I couldn’t manage to balance on my supporting leg  long enough to even bring up my foot to passe. How embarassing!

As for the developpes themselves, they’re easier when standing on left leg, right leg working.  On the other side I’ve noticed that it is a bit harder to hold my turnout through attitude and developpe and in order to hold it I have to not bring the leg up as high.  If my leg is not turned out to my fullest, besides it being bad form it’s also slightly uncomfortable. So I guess what I’m saying is that my extension is higher on the right leg when developpe-ing froward.  My developpes a la seconde are better than the front ones  on the left leg.  Right leg, much better.  When we stretch out our hamstrings my left leg is much tighter than the right, so I’m guessing that has to do with it the whole turnout not staying turned out and all that.

The rond de jambes, both a terre and en l’air, – something familiar, something newish – with a one-legged balance after each direction went well.  If everything in class was as fun as rond de jambes class would be so awesome!

The first thing we did in center was a pas de cheval and balance combination.  Starting in fifth with right foot front, 4 pas de cheval then 4 balances, then with the other foot in front 4 pas de cheval and 4 balances. It was a do-able combination, and when Teacher told us to practice while she checked off the roll sheet I was feeling confident. But then, when we did it in groups, to music, it kind of fell apart.  It was like I had a choice: do the moves accurately and fall behind the music (and the group), or stay with the music (group) but do the moves sloppy and rushed.  The first time through I opted for accuracy, the second for speed.  It’s so hard for me to do things at a quicker tempo! Oh, and by “sloppy” I mean my feet weren’t as pointed as they could be, legs not as straight as possible – we’re not even going to go there about the arms!

On our chaines across the huge studio, predictably my chaines to the left were better.  The ones to the right felt wobby.  However, I did manage to (sort of) finish in arabesque after both sides.  I’ve been wondering though, if we did the ones to the left first before the ones to the right would it make a difference?  When I practice chaines at home I go to the left first and I wonder if that made it my stronger side or if it already was. Because although the ones to the left are easier somewhat, at home my right ones are almost comparable. In class there’s a big difference between the sides.

During sautes I had a breakthrough and realized that if I use my plie and “push” off the ground it gives my jumps more power – you know, what teachers always say, “Use your plie!”.  Just goes to show that hearing something and actually understanding it and implementing it are two different things.  Anyway, the sautes went ok, thanks to this new-to-me realization.  Can’t really say the changements and echappes went well, I’m still feeling underpowered on those. Then dumb thing is that even though ballet-wise my jumps suck, I’m somewhat impressed with just the fact that I’m jumping and feeling almost light on my feet. Even as a kid I wasn’t much of a jumpy, light on their feet person so if I compare myself only to myself there has been so much improvement.

Only compare myself to myself, once I get that through my head – and keep it there! – I feel like so much less of a failure.  Still, today felt like an “off” day, let’s see what next class brings.

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