Since I hadn’t had class since exactly a week ago, I was really looking forward to today. I love practicing at home – no distractions, no pressure, no feeling on-the-spot and you get to pick the music – but you can’t beat the floor-to-ceiling mirrors, square footage by the thousands to move in, learning new moves, and the occasional correction that makes everything click.
We had a completely different – and easier, at least for me – port de bra for our plies again, which was nice even though I’ve been practicing last week’s port de bra and finally getting the hang of it. In this one during grand plies our arm goes to high fifth, where it stays for our forward and backward bends. Later on, during a different barre exercise, we did forward and backward bends while in releve sous-sus – luckily, with a hand on the barre. My legs felt stable during the bends – nice straight knees, legs tightly together, high releve – but I know without the hand on the barre I would’ve collapsed forward. I’m so glad I’ve been practicing doing more exercises at home on demi point because at least my calves don’t get tired. Unfortunately, after coming back up from our back bend we did have to let go of the barre, balance for a bit, then soutenu (still with arms in high fifth) and do the other side. Sometimes I mess up and have my shoulders lifted when trying to hold a balance with arms in high fifth. Really need to work on remembering to not do that!
During our degage exercise – still at the barre but with no hands – I was focusing so much on tightening my core, pointing my foot off the ground, and not slamming my heels together when bringing the foot back in (a mistake I keep making, as no teacher before current Teacher had caught that and brought it to my attention), that I was totally off on the music. Seriously, ballet is so hard!
I was actually looking forward to center today – though I love barre – because I was hoping to see whether my sautes would show improvement after all the jumping practice that I’ve been doing. The good news is that I no longer felt out of breath at the end of the 32 sautes. My legs felt powerful! The bad news is that my jumping practice didn’t teach me anything about timing or quickness. It’s so much easier to just do things at one’s own speed! It’s like there’s not enough time to go down into a plie for the next jump because by then I was supposed to have taken off already for my next jump, or something. Frustrating! But the way I see it, jumping practice has made me more comfortable with the act of jumping so I will continue to work on it.
As for changements, I’m still having trouble with them. Once again, I wasn’t out of breath at all but switching the feet, pointing the toes in the air, landing in a plie, and not stepping on myself is just too much multitasking for me. I definitely did feel stronger though. At home I’ve been working on my chaines to the right (my weaker side) way more than to the left, hoping to even it out. I think it worked – for once I made it all the way across the enormous studio while turning to the right without losing my spot or having to stop and restart, even finishing in 1st arabesque. It’s awesome when practicing actually pays off!
Our center combination – 8 balances (balan-SAYs, the rocking, waltzy-kinda move), tendu a la seconde, arabesque, bend supporting leg, pas de bourre, switch to other side – did not go so well today. Unfortunately I keep doing a jump with my balance, it’s in my muscle memory from last semester so getting my body to remember to do it more like a step than a jump is challenging. And my arms during the whole combination felt so awkward! I like doing balances – they feel so dance-y – but, just like my jumps, it’s hard to do them on any timing other than my own. It seems like I either do them to slow trying to get it right, and fall behind the group, or try to speed it up and then they’re sloppy.
On the bright side, after we finished going over the combination twice – oh, and did I mention that I was also practicing it while the other groups went (with Teacher’s approval; it was her idea) – I was not feeling out of breath at all. I wonder, if this is only after about 1.5 weeks of jogging, while I have waaaay more endurance after I’ve been jogging for a while? Of course, assuming my jogging learning curve is better than my ballet one.
We finished up class by doing the 4 galloping chasses, ballet run and jete. Once again, left leg forward jump felt very awkward compared to right leg forward. Sometimes I feel so lopsided – for turns my left is stronger, for jumps my right side is.
A completely different group from last week taking class today. After seeing the same classmates every single class in morning class, it’s a change of pace. I like it – for some reason it’s less pressure (and therefore less stressful, less anxiety-inducing, less self-judgment and therefore lots more FUN!).
Writing this makes me realize how much I like evening class studio’s atmosphere. Unfortunately, out of the multitude of classes they offer, there’s only 2 ballet classes and the other is full-on Advanced. In other words, they offer 1 class a week I can take, but I would love to take more classes here if they were available (ok, now I put that out there – who knows, it could happen!)
We didn’t do as much “involving the brain” stuff, as E(vening) Teacher says, at the barre as last week 😦 but class was still fun. My (two-footed) balances at the barre went pretty well, at least for me. I managed to not mess up at any of the barre combinations, and avoid making dumb little mistakes like closing back instead of front.
Once again, I was not tired at all after we did our jumps. Considering how out-of-breath I would feel before – as recent as a couple weeks ago – this is an awesome improvement. I realize it doesn’t sound like much – I mean, I’m bragging about not panting after doing 2 sets 16 jumps. But I have to appreciate even seemingly small inprovements, or else I will just feel like a ballet failure. Especially because of the aspects that are not coming along.
Like my one-legged releve balances. None of this week’s barre combinations involved those – they were saved for center. The combination went: starting from fifth (right foot front) tendu a la seconde, rond de jambe back, then be in fourth position (right foot back), passe releve bringing the right foot front, loooong balance, then back down to fifth (right foot back), then passe releve (right foot front), another looong balance, back down to fifth (right foot back), then either piroeutte or yet another long passe releve balance.
I’ll be honest; I didn’t even attempt the passe releve balance. Instead, I just balanced on passe flat. As E Teacher was explaining the combination, which I remembered from last week, I came to a decision – I’d rather not worry about the releve balance and just focus on making the rest of the combination look cleanish (and I think I did) than attempt it unsuccessfully yet again and look like a clumsy oaf. Last week I had been in a more experimental/adventureous mood and the results were not pretty. I know how to quit while I’m ahead!
Passe releve balances in center are definitely a weekness of mine. If they are what separate a brand-new beginner from a semi-beginner (someone who can make it look decent-ish – possibly even good – at barre), well, I feel like a total noob. It is not a good feeling. It pisses me off – I practice so much and try so hard but it just takes me so long to improve. If the jogging and jumping practice really improves my jumps then at least I’ll be ok at that. I just hate being the worst at something in class (like passe releve balancing), and for whatever reason one-legged balances on releve are apparently easy to people with little-to-none ballet experience.
However, we wrapped up the class by doing chaines. Evening class’ studio is tiny compared to the gigantic gym-sized studio at school, so chaines-ing across (even to the right) was nothing. I’m just going to brag: I turned faster than everyone, kept my legs close together, and didn’t lose my spot. And it felt so good, Great way to end class!