Wednesday Classes, Dancing In The Now

In order to not hit traffic (which increases by the minute, it seems) and be late, I usually leave home for ballet class fairly early, which means that I then get to sit in my car in the parking lot for about 45 minutes waiting for Teacher to arrive and open the studio.  Not one to waste time, I use that time for eating my breakfast and, unless I have to study, reading a book.  My latest read falls into the “motivational/self-help” category, and as I sat there reading and shoveling slices of plantain in my mouth, the words I was reading really hit home. I had a realization, an epiphany, you might say: if all we have is now, then it’s pointless to be concerned or obsessed about the “future” – or the past for that matter . In other words, applying it to ballet: dance because you’re loving it in the Now, feeling it in the Now, living it in the Now, not just dreams and wishes of future improvement (though it may still happen!), with “if only’s” and regrets,  with thoughts of “one day I’ll be good enough”, or with memories of past failures (hello, first ballet semester!).

No, I’m going to do it because I enjoy it, because I love it! How lucky I am to get to be doing something I love to do. I felt so grateful for even having the opportunity. So with those thoughts fresh in my mind, I happily walked to class.

morning class

Today we did promenade (which means to walk) at barre, after we did our developpe derriere. It basically involved keeping our leg out in arabesque, and then raising up on our toes – just a little, not a full releve – and somehow turning in a series of little up-down up-down movements.  It was my first time ever, ever, ever attempting to do this move, so I know it looked a little clumsy – ok, a lot clumsy. I started out with my leg in a nice arabesque position and then by the time I had completed my turn it was either way lower than when I’d started or not directly behind me or bent slightly.  Don’t know how far I’ll get on practicing this one at home, either; the floor in my apartment, though wood, is not as slick as the floor in the studio.

My petit battements still need work. It’s so hard to keep the knee still while swinging the lower part of the leg in and out, alternating front and back.  My First Teacher had taught us a similar move, also done immediately after frappes, but it involved a flexed foot instead.  I wonder if they’re similar moves, just different styles of ballet? Regarless, I’ll bet they’re a great thigh workout!

Today I also soutenued without holding the barre several times! I was pretty excited. And then, while holding a balance after 8 plie releves with arms in high fifth, Teacher came by and said “Now lean forward slightly, it’ll feel like you’re going to fall forward but you won’t,” So I leaned and she was right!

In center, I was watching the mirror when we did two changements, echappe, two more changements, echappe, etc. and it did not look right at all! Since my sautes have gotten so much better, I’m thinking it may be as much of a multitasking problem as it is a lack of being in shape problem.  If I could have the studio to myself I would practice them obsessively in slow motion (or in sets of 4 at a time or something), so I could get used to how it feels without the added stress of timing… or people watching me bounce.

The 4 balances, step to arabesque, pas de bourree, passe releve (optional pirouette), other side combination continues to come along, looking more graceful, fluid and dancey.  The passe releves are getting more and more stable every day. If we have the passe releve pirouette combination in evening class I think I may finally go for that elusive en dehors pirouette.

We also revisited the 3 grand battements (front, right leg), passe releve and bring foot down behind, 3 grand battements (front, left leg) passe releve and bring foot down behind,  3 grand battement derriere (left leg), passe releve and bring foot to front, 3 grand battemnts derriere (right leg), passe releve.  The passe releves, especially on my left supporting leg, felt stable but I’m still working on really “kicking” my leg up  without feeling thrown off balance.

Chaines went well.  There is not so much of a discrepancy between my stronger side and my weaker side as there was in the beginning of the semester. In fact, at times I even find myself forgetting which is my weak side which is awesome.  For me a lot of things are mental, and if I psych myself out by thinking “This is my bad side” before starting it tends to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. I’ve been making a more concious effort to not put too much thought into it!

It’s funny, because one of the other girls – my “partner” for critiquing the balance combination – and I were talking about chaines and our weak side. She said she can turn better to the right, but she’s left handed; I (usually) turn better to the left, but write right handed.  It cheered me up to know that at least one other person is “backwards” when it comes to stronger side vs. dominant hand. It really irritates me how I have this big hang up about not wanting to be the “only one” that is a certain way, though. It’s irrational, and I know some other people (like Boyfriend) are the opposite; they want to be “unique”.  I still have so much to learn about maturity…

evening class

We had a sub today. No, not that sub, my ex-classmate from my first semester, of that horrible class two months ago.  This sub happened to be one of the studio’s owners and she was awesome! Lot’s of explanations, interesting barre combinations, really supportive and friendly vibe and absolutely no pressure yet encouragement.  I would definitely take more classes with her.

We did fondues at the barre (a rare thing in evening class) and not just any fondues but the kind in which the foot doesn’t touch the floor at any point after it has left the ground from the initial fondu.  My favorite kind!  I really need to find out if there’s a name for this particular kind of fondu… Anyway, that was really fun, and I liked feeling it in my supporting leg – and my turnout muscles as we held an extremely long passe releve after fonduing (fondueing?) en croix both en dedans and en dehors.

I successfully soutenued with  no hands on the barre a few times times (well, technically 4 times, if we want to get specific.). Keep this up and I may call it consistent!

In center, after chaînesing (look, I learned how to put the little accent thing on the “i”!) in both direction, Owner Teacher announced pique turns. Awesome! I’ve been practicing them at home hoping that I’ll get the green light to do them in morning class some day, so it was really cool to have the opportunity to practice then in an area bigger than my living room. Today I discovered that, unlike chaînes, my left side is not my good side. The pique turns to the right were not bad, but on the ones to the left I felt unstable and forgot to keep spotting.  I will practice more, but it was so fun. I love the feeling of turning – well, when I remember to spot, that is.

Oh, and if anyone wants to read about The Other Sub, here’s some links (yes I’m aware there’s a better way to link involving clicking on the text in the post; WordPress hasn’t let that function work on my browser since, like, 3 months ago. Sorry.:

The Class

The Aftermath

6 thoughts on “Wednesday Classes, Dancing In The Now

  1. Basia

    Agreed on being in the now wrt ballet…I find I’m never good enough. There’s a saying: that “Now is a gift, that’s why it’s called the Present”

    Do you feel you have more fun when you’re getting it right? I’m trying to enjoy the journey rather than just focus on where I want to be…it not easy

    Anyway, you made me have a good think about whether I’m a person wanting to be unique or fearing being the only one… Thanks.

    1. flowergirlkit Post author

      I hadn’t heard that saying; I like it! 🙂
      Honestly, I do have more fun when I’m getting it right. Just the other day I was thinking about how about a year ago I was still getting the hang of weight shifts (on flat) w/o the barre, and when I would try to do center combinations to practice at home I would frequently lose my balance and turnout. Now stuff like that is no big deal, and I find myself enjoying the practice sessions so much more. Then I go to class and it’s like my progress is not good enough, but on my own at home I’m thrilled with it.
      Glad I gave some food for thought. 🙂

  2. kitteacat

    About handedness and turns: I’m a righty, and most of my turns are stronger to the right (“Strong” is probably not the correct term, as my pirouettes suck in general!). BUT in gymnastics, my left side is dominate. Weird, right?!


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