Cold Monday Morning Class

So cold in the morning, glad I just got one of those little flimsy dance warm-up sweaters! It looks like it wouldn’t keep anything warm, but when you’re freezing it does the job.

Little warm-up sweater. Remember, staying warm is about not letting the body's heat escape, not about the sweater providing heat.

Little warm-up sweater. Remember, staying warm is about not letting the body’s heat escape, not about the sweater providing heat.

Today, at barre, Teacher brought up a correction that I hadn’t received before – though now I realize that I’ve probably been needing it for a while: when I cambre back I scrunch my neck. Teacher said “Don’t keep your neck scrunched!” but I was having a hard time understanding what she meant until she got hands-on with me.  I like how at community college ballet classes the teachers are hands-on when necessary. Nothing scary, like the stories I hear about hitting a fallen elbow with a ruler, or slapping the side of your face if you’re not spotting correctly (!), or anything like that, just a good hands-one placement correction.  I think all my best corrections have involved some physical placing, sometimes spoken verbal learning and I just don’t mix.

After class I asked Teacher if there where any exercises I could do for the neck scrunching problem. She suggested that I put my hand behind my neck and then practice putting my head back, feeling the head go back and out at the same time.  The upper back/neck area is an area I carry a lot of tension in – my bra straps, especially my sport bras, kill me – so I’m going to be working on this area some more.

When we did our leg-on-the-barre stretches, today for the first time I used the higher barre! Well, only when putting up my right leg, the left was feeling just a bit too tight.  It felt kind of cool to have my leg up so high for once!

We passe releve’d at barre a lot today, as well as did longer barre combinations involving lots of releves. We also did both sides of some barre combinations without stopping in between, by doing soutenu turns to switch sides.  Luckily, we were allowed to hold the barre; I’ve technically done soutenus without hands before – with arms in high fifth, even – but it’s not a move that I’m confident about yet.

In center, for our 4 balance step, arabesque, pas de bourree, passe releve (or pirouette), other side combination, Teacher divided us into two groups, and assigned us a “partner” in the other group to watch us and let us know if there were any obvious corrections we needed. My partner told me that other than the arms when doing the passe releve – going from arms in third (prepare) to middle fifth (when up in passe releve) to arms in second (when preparing to do other side) – it was looking good!

These partner critique things are a somewhat nerve-wracking – it’s necessary to use lots of tact, I think.  There’s such a fine line between constructive crticism and just criticism sometimes.  I’d hate to go really hard on critiquing someone who’s only been ballet-ing for a few weeks, especially about center work.  It’s not necessarily about doing it incorrectly because you don’t know better, but more like not being able to hold your balance. So I focus more on things like hands (no “broken wrists”) or fallen elbows.

My passe releves are getting stronger and more stable every day.  I’ve been able to hold balances of varying lengths, as well as bring the foot from the back (from fourth) to passe, and then back in fifth.  My right leg standing left leg in passe side is still my stronger side for this move, but my weaker side is coming along too.

Sautes were looking pointy, but still not quite right.  There are so many intricacies to sautes, sometimes I wonder if the only way to get them right is to have been doing them since childhood.  If it’s not the lack of foot pointing, it’s that the feet land too far apart. If the feet land together in first, then they were wrong by coming closer in midair.  If all the distances are correct then the timing is off. If I land all the way down in plie, then I sound like a crashing elephant, but if I try to land lightly I feel like I’m not putting my heels all the way down. Arrgh, so frustrating sometimes!

The good news is that I’m consistenly landing in plie between jumps, pointing my feet, and definitely not running out of breath, even after multiple sets of 16 soutes. Progress is good…

Only two and a half weeks left in the semester. Then I’ll be down to one class a week (plus home practice) for a little while until the next semester starts. Unless I can find a different class to join, something not over an hour away otherwise inaccessible.

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