Thursday Class: … I Was Dancing!

Similar barre to Tuesday, with one exception: We started doing echappe and changements at the barre from fifth instead of from first. Instead of just doing 8 of them in a row we did 3 in a row, sous-sus balance, another 3 in a row and sous-sus balance.  After this, Teacher demonstrated going from sous-sus to soutenu, which we then used to switch sides in our rond de jambe combination.  We did rond de jambe en l’air as well as a terre. While we didn’t face the barre, we didn’t use arms either, to my disappointment. I wish there were a class level between BC and IC – using arms during rond de jambes, but not some crazy tempo 4-quick-rond-de-jambes-while-the-arms-only-do-1-revolution-and-end-in-some-weird-pose thing, you know!?

Center was fun, and now that the memories of IC are starting to fade I’m finding myself looking forward to center again, not feeling impending doom… The balance combination was 4 balances, tombe, pas de bourree, releve sous-sus, other side, arms optional.  Guess who got asked to come on up to the front row? Unfortunately, it didn’t happen, as some mean lady took up two spots (we ended up with only 4 in front instead of 5), but it was nice to be mentioned 🙂  We ran through the combination several times.  As I often do during class center – got to take advantage of the huge mirrors – I was making sure my technique was as good as I could make it, all pointed feet and making sure to use my plie, and the thing is, it looked alright but it felt so stiff.  So the second time through, I don’t even know how to explain it, it’s not like I was paying less attention to technique – though I suppose I may have been – but I just kind of went with with, kind of trusted myself that I know the combination, that I have it in my muscle memory. And then… I was dancing. It felt so different from the way the first time through the combination felt!  So graceful, so pretty.  May have looked the same, or not. I wouldn’t know since I actually was not staring at my limbs in the mirror the whole time for once.  It felt nice though, like all the practice and hard work is worth it. Some ballet teacher (can’t remember which) said once that we take class so that the moves can be in our muscle memory and then they just come out and we can express ourselves once we get proficient in them. That sounds like the dream right there, to express myself through movement without having to actually think about the movements themselves.

My chaines to the left were better than to the right again today, just as they had been up until a few months ago. It’s so weird, like I’m changing best sides or something. For some reason my body just doesn’t want to turn to the right now. Perhaps I’m confusing my body, as before I started Pilates I had no idea how uneven the sides of my body were – in more ways than one – and I’ve been working on “evening out” my body more, switching up which side I lay on and stuff.   Or perhaps I’m just getting psyched out, having to go all the way across the floor of the whole studio.  When Teacher told the rest of us to practice on our own while she helped the more beginner students learn how to go from practicing the chaines turn prep (one half turn at a time, hand on shoulders. I posted a video a while back) to going up on releve to do them, I was able to turn just fine to both sides – though left did feel stronger.  A few of us began practicing pique turns as well, which was lots of fun.

We saute, echapped and changement at a much slower tempo today.  Apparently it’s supposed to be harder, but for whatever reason it felt easier than the regular speed saute, echappe, changement combination we normally do. Easier to stay on tempo, easier to jump up high and point the feet, to use the plie.  At regular tempo I either start jumping too quickly and not using my plie or jumping too slow and then trying to catch up.  I don’t know why I have so much difficulty with this. My legs are strong (as evidence by the stretches we do with a partner in which we developpe,then they pull up our legs as high as we can take it without compromising alignment, then they let go of our leg and we see how long we can hold it up. Without fail, every single time we do that I am able to keep my leg up for a long time, always surprising my partners – I guess I look weak and unflexible? I remember last summer E Teacher complimented me on my leg strength, though corrected me that in grand battements the objective is not to hold your leg up there but to kick your leg and bring it back.) so I don’t know if lack of strength is still the problem or maybe I just don’t have any natural rhythm?  Jumps are easily my worst part of class still.  Except possibly for jetes, I like jetes.

The chasse, grand battement jump with arms across the floor still has me ending class in a bad mood. (Edit: I meant a good mood. No idea why I wrote “bad” (unless it was some kind of Freudian slip…), I actually really enjoy this across the floor.) And yes, I’ve been doing it up and down the sidewalk…

As for my own practice at home, by now the beated frappes are definitely making more sense.  Don’t know if I’m being optimistic, but I think the switching front-back of the beats is starting to get in my muscle memory (at a slower tempo, of course).  I think a great goal would be to be able to do them at regular speed by the time I am able to go to Evening Class again (since we always frappe there).  I’ve also been working on the turning-your-head-towards-the-leg-that-will-be-in-front thing, and it’s getting much smoother as well.  By this point the first tendu combination we learned in IC (two tendus devant, temps lie, two tendus derriere, temps lie, four tendus a la seconde, pas de basque, pirouette en dehors) is finally looking less sloppy – only took me six weeks to get it! The across the floor waltz we learned in IC is also getting a little bit easier, though I haven’t tried to incorporate the arms yet. Don’t know if I should wait until the feet part is solid before doing arms, or to slowly work on both simultaneously.

I feel like rather than go through this whole IC disaster I could have just looked up more complex combinations on youtube and tried to see if after a couple months of practice I could do them.  I mean, I understand attending BC in order to get corrected on technique and the basics, but I think I should just practice the harder stuff on my own before attempting it in public.  It’s just completely unpredictable still which steps my body will adapt to almost effortlessly and which are just impossible for me though not even that hard in theory.

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