Monday Class: Passe Releve, We Meet Again

Week 10 of the semester… Ballet class starts getting harder… No idea yet what the final combinations will be.

Lots of releve-ing in one form or another today! Besides balancing (in different positions), Teacher is having us do forward and back bends on releve as well as bringing up the working foot to coupe and passe.

Immediately after doing the degages at the barre Teacher had us plie and releve quickly 3 times, holding a balance with no hands after the third. By now I’ve noticed that my legs get super shaky when balancing if I’ve been working really hard, and the degage combination is not easy.  Especially when we then do the whole thing without holding the barre.  Surprisingly, after doing the no-hands version I was able to balance today, which I wasn’t expecting because it was the double challenge of rising up quickly (I fear I’ll fall forward!) and having tired legs.

When we did releve sous-sus Teacher said “Beautiful!” – and she was looking right at me – which was probably the best compliment I’ve ever gotten in a ballet class. Happy day!

We did echappe and changement at the barre (not the jumps but the sliding the feet out while releve-ing, and switching feet when sliding back in).  Then Teacher mixed it up a bit and had us do it without holding the barre. And I was momentarily confused, thinking ‘so when you take away the barre does it become like the jumps or is it still just like a slide?’.  I mean, I know the sliding move exists – I’ve seen the dance of the little swans – but physically doing it was sort of a miscommunication from my brain to my feet.  Teacher then paid extra attention to me and my correction was to keep my knees straighter when out to second, so hopefully besides that I wasn’t totally destroying the move.  The few girls in class that are en pointe were so fun to watch during this – I love watching echappes and changements en pointe.

In center, we did a combination that was tondu forward, grand battement forward 3 times, then after the third time we plie and go up to passe releve. If you read my class post last wednesday, you know how I feel about passe releve in center (hint: not too good).  However, something about the port de bras with this made it easier – more like actually doable – today.  We had our arms up in high fifth and when we went up we would bring them down the sides.  I don’t know if it was leverage, or if what prevents me from doing it right normally is just a mental block and this provides a distraction, but today my passe releves felt stronger and more stable than usual. Which is still not saying much…

More advanced people were to do a pirouette (en dehors) the second time through.  I have a confession to make:  I’ve never officially learned how to do a pirouette (though I’ve attempted them – with varying degrees of success, mostly en dedans – here and there). It’s still a foreign concept to me – I realize spotting is involved but other than that I have no clue how to get more than 180 degrees of rotation without using my arms for extra impulse in the beginning.  If a completely stable passe releve  – the kind where you’re just hanging out on one leg for an eternity – is needed then it’s going to be a while.

While I’m thrilled that I no longer run out of breath during the saute and running combinations, I realize that my newfound endurance, while it helps, is not a cure-all for my bad jumps.  At least now when Teacher yells “Point your feet!” I’m able to keep jumping while attempting to apply the correction without feeling like collapsing. Feels less stressful at least.

The timing of the jumps is still somewhat of a mystery to me. Teacher says that we should all be jumping in unison, to the music.  But then we start jumping and by the third or fourth saute some of us are bobbing up when others are on their way down.  It would probably be helpful if I knew whether to slow down or speed up.  Usually I’m too slow, but who knows.

The last 10 minutes or so of class we hustled from one across the floor combination to another – chaines, galloping chasses, ballet running, pas de chat, more sautes, more galloping chasses and running and jetes.  My galloping chasses are getting better, but my ballet running not so much. But I actually found myself having a lot of fun and feeling like a kid (even more than usual) . It was an awesome feeling!

Really wanted to end on a positive note but this is just bugging me and I’ve got to say it: If you’re more advanced, don’t laugh when the beginners are attempting to do a move (especially if they are on the spot and all alone). Today I wasn’t the object of such amusement but I saw it happen to a newer girl.  It’s really sad; I mean just think – some people were not fortunate to take lessons as kids.  How would you feel if you were learning to read as an adult and adults whose parents put them in school as kids were laughing at your pathetic attempts to sound out the words? Not very good I’ll bet.  Add to that additional body image issues and you have yourself a recipe for disaster. So be kind and treat others as you would like to be treated. End rant.

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