After last Tuesday’s I(ntermediate) C(lass) I was having mixed feelings about my ballet-future. I love B(eginner) C(lass), how the barre combinations are so do-able and simple, so all the attention can be focused to technique – did I articulate my feet?; am I not lifting my arches or overpronating?; my timing; the point of my foot; the straightness of my knees. In center, I can focus on the details as well, make it look pretty, dancey.
But then in IC, it’s so difficult to even remember the combinations, that I’m lucky to even know which leg is in front about half the time. The complex port de bras take up so much concentration and focus that my legs are somewhat left to their own device. If I tendued or rond de jambed the way I do in IC in BC I would be really upset at myself, just sloppy,sloppy sloppy.
So all day Wednesday, and half of Thursday, I though about it. Obsessed about it, really. I just don’t know what to go with: am I supposed to be happy that I’ve progressed this much, even though I clearly suck, or am I supposed to continue to push myself because it’s never enough? Am I without a doubt a Beginner level dancer only, and IC is only meant for people who have the basics deep in muscle memory? I mean, I can do a pretty pointed tendu correctly – even in center – without falling over but the second my mind is elsewhere it’s a mess. I think. I’ve honestly been too scared to look during barre in IC. For some odd reason I do look in center – probably because it is center, and my expectations are not too high – and believe me, it’s not looking too good.
The muscle memory just isn’t there during those quick transitions, is I guess what I’m trying to say. Luckily, I haven’t actually frozen up or anything, made sure to keep moving, but there’s been times when I feel like I’m just jumping around (and ending up with the wrong leg in front, of course). Like I’ve mentioned before, I know how to do the moves, and I can do them in a row over and over and stuff like that, but mixing them up and putting them together turns me into a confused – and clumsy – mess.
I keep going on tangents, but point is, I worry that it was a mistake to sign up for IC. I mean getting to do 6 hours of ballet a week is awesome, trust me, but is there any point in taking class if I’m just jumping around like an idiot in center or flailing my legs around in barre? It’s a work out, sure, but as far as ballet technique goes, does it even benefit me to take a class that is this challenging? Would I have been much better off (assuming it was hypothetically possible, which it is not) taking that many hours of BC-level classes?
These are the things I think about as I drift of to sleep at night…
In BC we chassed – both kinds, the slide and the gallop – and we chaines-ed. They all went well, even the chasse slide to the slide that I technically hadn’t learned before. I learned something new today – yay! That combined with lots of nice slow tendus made me feel good, like I don’t completely suck at everything.
Actually, there was something I totally sucked at: getting up from the floor, not from a lunge postition but from a sitting one. Teacher wanted us to practice getting up gracefully with no hands by crossing one leg over the other in front of us with arms in a low fifth in front. I just couldn’t do it, and felt really uncoordinated. Next time I see Teacher I will have to ask her what exercises she recommends to strengthen whatever muscles I need to be able to do it (if it’s even possible – when things get tough – tougher than for the other students – I always assume it’s a weight distribution problem.)
But overall, BC went well.
I had really pondered not going to IC, is a confession I have to make. But I went. Not because Mom didn’t raise no quitter – she did, I’ll admit, as I hang my head in shame – but because it’s ballet. I have not been practicing this obsessive pursuit practically daily for 2 years just to walk away after an off day (or 2 or 3…). Another confession I have to make is that mixed in with all those days that I was counting the minutes excitedly until time for class are the days when I felt so lazy and unmotivated and hopeless that I had to force myself to go. The thing is each of those days that I have dragged myself in I have left glad I went; today was no exception.
Tendu combination was 3 tendues devant, go through first all the way to the back then close and 3 tendus derriere, then tendus en croix, and something else I’m forgetting (which is probably the reason I keep messing up). I somewhat understood the degage combination today (8 degages with arm in second, 8 degages while arm does one port de bra en dehors, 8 battements en cloche with piques after 3 and 6 with arm in second, and repeat with slow en dehors port de bras. Then repeat the whole thing except battements en cloche would go back first this time, and the port de bras would be en dedans. Soutenu and then other side.). That is a lot of information, but I was doing it ok for once. Then Teacher came over and corrected my alignment and I was like ‘I totally suck at this’, but I’ll bet to a very untrained eye it looks ok…The fondu and developpe combination at barre went ok as well. We also did promenade towards the barre, and now I honestly can’t remember what position we did it in, passe or arabesque.
We did not do frappes and I was glad; those beated frappes are really making me dislike frappes. I used to enjoy them when they were just simple tendu-flex-frappe-frappe-frappe-point-close-tendu-flex-frappe, etc. but the way we do them in IC is just too advanced for me. I’ve tried practicing the beated frappes at home but I don’t even know where to begin. There’s a lot of things in IC that I would love to practice more if only I didn’t forget immediately how they go as soon as I walk out of the studio.
Center was a bit easier today, perhaps slower. Well, except for the petite allegro, that was as fast as ever (and completely destroyed by me. That would be the part when I was jumping around at random, or so it seemed.) But the tendu combination went much better, as did the hard across the floor waltz step with turns. Chaines diagonally across the studio are so much more challenging than just straight across like we did in BC. Anything involving angling the body in any particular way (other than en face) is still not coming to me. And ecarte and the whole looking-at-your-hand thing is really hard for me; I feel driven to look at myself in the mirror, I don’t know why (see, earlier I said why not (the whole lower expectations thing) but I never said I know why.).
Let’s see, good things. I was putting my passe foot correctly in front during pirouettes today, so I am learning and improving, gradually. I have a theory that it was already in my body to do it, but being focused on doing all the other (harder, newer to me) things made it so that I could just be on autopilot and allow my body to just DO IT. Same with the balancing on passe releve. I’ve actually been going up into passe releve like it’s nothing, even when it involves bringing the leg up from the back and lowering it down in front. There was no way I could do this last semester, so I’m pleased with that progress.
In other news, I’ve been considering making the blog private, or visible only to followers or something, if possible. Or if WordPress has a feature for blocking certain parts of the country (or the whole country) I could just do that. Reason is, I feel like the original reason I created the blog (to discuss my experience with starting ballet from scratch at my age and with my body type, so that I didn’t completely destroy my relationship by babbling nonstop about ballet and the happenings in ballet class to my completely disinterested Boyfriend) is getting lost. There are a lot of things I would like to say, but don’t, because I don’t want people from Real Life to know (and sometimes I worry that they’ve found the blog). I really mean it when I say that I absolutely detest drama, confrontation, or any negative feelings. But sometimes these things arise, and I’m not really comfortable discussing them on such an open forum. At the same time, I feel like I just need to let it out, you know?
The closed-ness, “small world” aspect of the dance world really freaks me out. I don’t want to censor myself – I don’t think that’s fair to myself, to be honest – but I don’t want any Real Life drama.
Case in point. In between classes, while eating our inter-class snacks, a girl who is in both of the classes – and is an amazing dancer, by the way – and I were chatting outside. She asked about the other teachers at the school, and I was giving her my honest opinion. Isn’t that what we share when asked, our opinion? Anyway, when I was telling her that I don’t recommend Strict Teacher, but maybe First Teacher would be ok, this other kind of loudmouthed girl buts into the conversation and started arguing with me, interrrupting me, raising her voice and talking over me, contradicting everything I was saying (as in, while I was talking to the Great Dancer Girl she was loudly saying “No, no!” and blabbing on about what an awesome teacher S Teacher is (In her opinion, I might add. In my opinion S Teacher is nothing short of sadistic, unless you get on her good side. S Teacher is actually a very polarizing topic; most people either love her classes or hate them.)).
As a quiet introverted person, I don’t do much of sharing my opinion and viewpoints, unless asked. So already as it is, I go through life keeping my opinions to myself for the most part, unless I’m speaking with a very trusted individual. I thought Loudmouth Girl was being beyond rude and I was getting super pissed. I ended up raising my voice too, and then it was time to go back inside for IC, but then afterwards I was feeling sick with anxiety. I HATE arguing! I’m torn between wishing that I’d just kept my mouth shut and thinking that I was in the right in sharing my opinion (which had been asked for, after all).
If this was just a regular drop-in class I’d probably go take class elsewhere for a bit until the situation cools down, but I don’t have that option. I’m still feeling very anxious about the whole thing, to be honest. Really considering going somewhere else for future semesters, as Loudmouth Girl is really involved in the dance department here. But then, like Boyfriend said, it’s not just that girl, it’s always the same situations with a different person. Perhaps I just never learned (and somehow need to learn) to get along with people with a certain (annoying, in your face, loud, know-it-all) temperament.
I may erase some of this later if my anxiety persists, so read it while it’s hot, LOL.
Edit: As it turns out, it was nothing personal with Loudmouth Girl. We actually spoke briefly a few times later in the semester – even shared a barre a couple times – and she was perfectly nice, if a little on the more, um, assertive side, especially compared to a quiet one like me. Anyway, I’m sure she didn’t mean to be rude to me, and I was probably having a crappy day. I definitely learned both about myself and about interpersonal interaction from all this though…