Tuesday Class: Beginner’s Rule!

Lately I’ve been hanging out (well, I guess you don’t really hang out in ballet class. I meant “stand near and occasionally shoot nervous glances at, as well as even hide behind…”) more with the beginner students.  You  know, beginners who are taking ballet for the first time ever (since the beginning of the semester), as opposed to all of us in BC – with our various skill-levels and histories with ballet.

I like it, takes off the pressure (which may not exist outside of my head, but to me it’s real) to do any better than my own personal best. Trying to be good enough for IC was just not working out for me, and ever since I’ve decided to just take BC it’s been so much more fun.  Being around all the first-time beginners reminds me of that time when I just couldn’t wait – or even imagine – being able to do beginner-level combinations in center, or even barre for that matter.  Back then I would watch the other students doing even a basic barre (like what we did today), and they looked so graceful and fluid and lovely and I wanted that. Not to blow up my own ego, but I’d say my basic beginner-level barre looks passably graceful, fluid and lovely, at least to someone with undiscerning eyes.

Shared the barre with a ballet beginner, and we had a short chat while stretching before Teacher showed up.  While she is a ballet first-timer this semester, she told me about her dancing background: no ballet, but all through high school she was on a dance team and they rehearsed for 5 hours a day. Oh wow, during high school I mostly sat on the couch reading books (lol, pre-internet) and stuffing my face with pizza.  Yeah, I really need to remember that even all of us first-time ballet beginners do not start off at the same place. Nevermind that for me it’s been 14 years since high school, and for her like 2…

We did plies with one hand at the barre, yay! It was nice to get to incorporate some port de bras into it.  Cambre forward was introduced (to the people who haven’t taken this class before, I mean) and I remembered when I first started out how I was like ‘I’m totally gonna do that one day!’ and at the time my legs were so weak that I felt like I was going to fall over while trying it.  I’ve really come a long way ballet-wise, and will definitely be thinking more about that than how far I still have to (hypothetically) go.

Tendus and degages were still facing the barre, though the second time around each combination we did it with no hands on the barre.  Once again, as I said at some point – many times – last semester: so glad that Teacher was not my first ballet teacher ever; if I’d had to tendu and degage with no hands my first semester I would have cried (and fallen over, repeatedly).

But then we did a passe, 2 rond de jambe en dehors, balance in second arabesque, cambre forward, 2 rond de jambe en dedans, balance with leg out in front (straight, so it’s not an attitude, but don’t know what to call it) combination with one hand at the barre. So I guess there was a good variety for barre work this class.

We did a slightly different – though very similar – balance combination in center, this time doing a really slow and pretty port de bras (which was mostly just bring up our arms from low fifth up to high fifth then open, one at a time, while looking at our hand, then both arms together, but it looked pretty) before 4 balances, tombe, pas de bourree, other side (which meant starting the port de bras with the other arm instead). The balances had a nice slow tempo, and Teacher said it was ok to do arms (which I find super helpful) or not.  I love slow tempo balances, as it gives ample time to really point those feet and coordinate the arms.  When we do faster balances I always feel my feet look sloppy, the back foot not getting enough time to point, the front one coming too far forward.

My chaines to the right were horrible today. I just could not get my head to spot fast enough, and Teacher noticed and corrected me on it.. To make matters worse, I was feeling a bit ill already before class, so I think I was subconsciously keeping myself from whipping my head around super fast.  To the left they were better, as there was just no way they could suck more that the right side ones.

We did way too many sautes and echappes.  I was really starting to feel ill by this point, lol.

Fun across the floor: one glissade (the gallop, not the slide kind), one grand battement, all the way across the floor alternating legs, with arms  (out to second for the glissade, up in high fifth for the grand battement). Which (to a beginner like me) sounds incredibly hard – I mean, when Teacher first demonstrated what we were going to do it looked  so freakin’ hard – but it was actually not that bad and turned out (oops, a pun – my actual turn out was probably terrible to nonexistent…) to feel like actual dancing.  Once I marked it and realized it was actually possibly (as opposed to my clumsy fumbles in IC) it was so much fun.  We didn’t do this particular across the floor last semester as far as I remember – time to read some archives!

This last combination was extra fun, made me feel like skipping to the car 🙂

8 thoughts on “Tuesday Class: Beginner’s Rule!

  1. Sarah

    Lol, you’re almost skipping to the car after class now instead of coming home and picking a fight with your boyfriend! I’m so glad you’re having having fun with again 🙂

    Your beginners class sounds much more advanced than mine. It’s my last BC class next week and I have to decide whether to move on to the Improvers class or repeat BC. I think I might find BC too slow to do again though, as I’d covered most of what we do in BC in my Absolute Beginners Class. On the other hand, I still can’t balance on one leg in centre (although I can do it without any problems at home, grrr), so I’m a bit scared that IC might be too advanced for me. Plus, I might not be able to transfer back into BC if IC is too much because places are limited, I’ll have to have a word with the teacher before booking the next semester me thinks.

    1. kit Post author

      This semester of BC it does seem slightly more advanced than last semester, at least as far as center goes. Two hands at barre is waaaaay too basic for me, though it is helping me focus 100% on my foot articulation and alignment. As far as balancing in center on one leg goes, I can do it as long as I pronate my left foot (right foot doesn’t seem to have this problem). Unfortunately, it is not correct technique to pronate the feet, and I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to balance without that (blame my low arches!).
      Do you know if your teacher goes in the same progression of exercises/moves every semester? If she doesn’t, there may be new moves introduced that weren’t introduced last semester. I don’t know how your IC is set up, but in my IC the students were expected to already know the moves previously – no actual teaching, just a quick demonstration and it was our turn. I’ve heard horror stories of IC teachers who don’t even demonstrate at all…
      Yeah, my post-class attitude seems to have improved ever since I quit IC. This is going to sound strange, but here goes anyway (as it sort of fits the theme of the post anyway): When I was doing IC, I was trying really hard to be an “intermediate” student (since I was taking IC), and my repeated failures and lack of progress were just too much for me to handle. But ever since I demoted myself back down to just BC, it feels so liberating. Like, I’m just a beginner, but I’ve come so far as a beginner and it makes me happy, rather than being upset because I’ll never be good enough for IC (or to be considered an “intermediate” student). I was really feeling like all my hard work and dedication was wasted, and it was making me angry (at all the factors out of my control). Now, I’m back to being happy I can tendu without falling over again 🙂
      Good luck with whichever class you decide to go with!

      1. Sarah

        I completely get what you’re saying about feeling liberated in your BC, all that pressure to pick stuff up instantly will have gone, so you can just enjoy what you’re doing instead of beating yourself up over it. I think that’s what I like about my teacher, even though my BC class is slow (too slow sometimes), I like that everything is drilled into you just by the sheer repetition and there’s a lot of emphasis put on correct technique. Plus, if you don’t get it right that week, it doesn’t matter, because we’ll go over it again next week. Saying that, I am ready for a bit more of a challenge I think, although if IC is going to be a big step up in level from BC I’d rather stay in BC and concentrate on my balance and technique rather than be overwhelmed with combinations and turns I can’t keep up with. It’s great that your teacher has altered your BC so it’s not the same as last semester, this is something I’ll be asking my teacher about, if it’s going to be exactly the same, then I’ll be more inclined to go for the IC.

        It seems really strange to me that your IC had steps/combinations you’d never even encountered in BC, this suggests that they expect some previous ballet training from somewhere other than the BC they teach at your school. As for some IC teachers not even demonstrating steps, that’s a terrifying thought!

      2. kit Post author

        Agreed about it being strange to expect us to already know certain things that weren’t taught in BC. However, since this semester has been slightly different, I do wonder if I’d taken BC with Teacher several times I would have been exposed to the moves (I’ve taken BC 3 semesters now, but first 2 were with different teachers).
        That said, I wish she would have warned me of what was going to be expected of me in IC. As our first assignment we each turn in a paragraph or two outlining our previous ballet or dance experience, and I was very clear about all my experience being 3 semesters of BC. I do wonder if she was just too polite to tell me that there was no way I could handle it (but then, ballet teachers are not exactly known for their tact..) and instead just let me find out on my own.
        That is so cool that you’re able to talk to your teacher about what class you should take though. I admit, I’m too scared to ask, as I fear the answer will make me sad. It was so hard to even work up the nerve to ask if I could take both classes and I was so happy that she’d said yes, but now I know that it was a mistake. Still, I didn’t actually talk to her about it…

    1. kit Post author

      Thank you 🙂
      I was just reading your blog last night, your post about improvement and progress reports. So true that the more one advances the more infrequently the improvement seems to come!


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