For plies, Teacher let us do the port de bra of our choice today! I used the port the bras I’m most familiar with (start with arm in second and bring it in when going down in demi plies, back out when coming up, stretch out and slightly lift to bring all the way down on grand plie) and not having the added stress of “Am I doing this right?” made it so much easier and even beautiful. I love when it feels like beautiful dancing rather than just a very difficult exercise routine – when it’s like I can feel the music, not just hear it.
Still, today took forever for me to feel warmed up, and then suddenly it just felt too hot in the studio. Weird.
Teacher introduced frappes and petit battements to the class. My frappes are ok – we do them all the time in evening class and I practice at home – but the timing of the petit battements was really throwing me off. We were doing them facing the barre, probably because it’s the first time we’ve done them in this class, but from what I could see without the mirror most of my classmates were lost too.
We had a visitor in class – one student’s friend, I think – so I was feeling a little apprehensive about center because of that. Otherwise, I found myself looking forward to center. It’s been a week since I’ve had an enormous studio to dance in, after all.
Center was actually pretty great today! The 4 balances, step into arabesque, pas de bourree, releve sous-sus, repeat other side combination was looking like dancing. I’ve really been working on it at home and I was glad to see that it looked so much more fluid. It felt like I was dancing “for reals” instead of just going through – or attempting to go through – the motions.
Our 3 grand battements with arms in high fifth, plie and passe releve, then other side combination had a new twist today: after we finished the second leg (left), rather than doing the first leg again to the front we were to grand battement our left leg back 3 times and then bring it to passe releve and bring it down in front, to do 3 grand battements derriere with the right leg. After the initial shock of “OMG we’re going to grand battement derriere in center!” , which I’ve never attempted, it went ok. I would like to see my derriere grand battements as high as my devant or a la seconde, but we’ll get there. The passe releves are steadily improving and I’m happy with that.
Chasse gallops have really been improving ever since I’ve been practicing them on the grassy field. I can feel luch more power in my legs that wasn’t there before. Then Teacher mixed it up and had us do something that went like: a chasse gallop, then a sort of skip with our other foot in coupe, then chasse gallop other foot and a sort of skip with the foot in coupe, just continuing to alternate legs. It was my first time doing this, so I got confused a few times about which leg am I on and I just kept the arms still. Not hard, just involves coordination and, for me, lots of practice.
My sautes looked pretty good today; my feet were pointed, I was landing in plie, and my feet were not landing too far apart from each other. I still need to work on the timing though…
8 of us for evening class today, 2 brand new, a few familiar faces.
At first, I felt a little off because I was wearing my new split-sole slippers – which I will be writing about in more detail in a future post, as well as other ballet-wear adventures. I’d saved them to wear for evening class rather than morning class because evening class is only 1 hour and mostly barre. I wasn’t sure how I would feel about running across the studio until they are broken in. Don’t know if it was the split-sole-ness or the cloth-ness but the floor just felt so Right There compared to my usual shoes. It took me a couple barre combinations to get used to it.
As typical for evening class – unless there’s only a few of us and we already know basics – we mostly did plies, tendues, degages. We went slow but for once I was glad, as I was really getting a kick of of the visible articulation that is so much better displayed in split-sole shoes. We also balance quite a bit in this class, mostly in first or releve sous-sus. Once I got used to the shoes I was able to balance really well, though lately I’ve been noticing that I’m much more stable in releve sous-sus than first.
During grand battements, E Teacher corrected me on my grand battement derriere. She said that I wasn’t putting enough “energy” into it, that I was just slowly lifting it up rather than kicking it up. She’s given me this correction before, I think about 3 months ago, but since she had also given me other corrections that day I may have forgotten. The ones to the front and a la second are more kick-y though, it’s just the one to the back. I think I’m afraid that if I kick it I will bend my knee or something.
My sautes were good, but by the time we made it to changements they were looking very unpointed. Changements are much harder than sautes and echappes, in my opinion.
We finished up by doing chaines, which in evening class are enjoyable since the studio is not enormous. Still, it’s bigger than my living room so it’s the perfect size. In this class we usually go to the right – my weakest side, so it’s good to get the extra practice – but today E Teacher surprised me by saying “Ok, now to the left” after we had chaines-ed to the right twice. I like how this studio has plenty of things that stand out for spotting, like a clock, several exit signs, and even the (2 non-mirrored, non windowed) walls are painted with colorful silouettes of dancers or something.
As we were taking the barres back to the storage room – because that’s how we roll in this class – one of the new students made a comment, something along the lines of “Which one of you is a “real” ballerina?”. This would have been fine if she then hadn’t followed up by pointing out different ladies in the class, which led to a discussion of some of the student’s bodies. Awkward, and it kind of soured my mood, although I’m trying to not let it. Being reminded of how I don’t have the expected body type for ballet brings my mood down some days, while other days it spurs me to work even harder with a defiant attitude of “I’ll show you!” – the attitude that got me through my first year or so until I really started to see improvement, It’s ridiculous feeling this way, probably, but what can I say? It’s how I feel.
It really sucks because just a few weeks ago I was saying on here how this studio was the only place where I had felt complete acceptance. When people say that I don’t look like a dancer it makes me feel like they are saying that I have no business there. Perhaps I’m being overly sensitive – ok, I’m probably being too sensitive – and I’m not going to quit ballet over it, but things like this really bug me. And the fact that it bugs me bugs me even more!
Other than that, I really did have a great ballet day today. 🙂