Thursday Class: The Right Kind Of Motivation

While I can’t speak for anyone else, I can tell you that watching a ballet video for me is the equivalent of having a double shot of espresso for the average adult – I get all hyped up and I want to dance (or at least attempt to dance)!  In between some of my classes I study in the library, not in a desk but in this open-area lobby they have with chairs, as that’s the only part of the library in which eating is allowed (and for me studying without food is like running without air). There is also a tv., which was driving me nuts during the first few week of school, but sometime in the last month whoever is in charge of changing the channel put in on the public access arts channel. Which means ballet (as well as opera, other styles of dance, or simply a live orchestra. Of course, the sound is off, so that defeats the purpose of that last one…)!

So I was settled comfortably in my chair, my books spread out before me, and I glance up – and see that it says Tchaikovski. My attention fully focused now, I read that it’s the Black Swan pas de deux with Maya Plitsetskaya and Valery Kovlun from 1973!  Ok, looks like my homework was going to wait…

Here it is for anyone that wants to enjoy it. With sound

(Maya Plisetskaya is an amazing dancer, 48 years old at the time the video was filmed.  I really like her version of Odile, though it is a different choreography from what I have gotten used to seeing.)

As they only showed the pas de deux, it turned out I had plenty of time for homework. And then off to ballet class!

At barre we once again did a mixture of facing the barre and one hand on the barre stuff, with the occasional barre-less stuff.  Our plies were facing the barre and when we turned sides to do the left almost everyone forgot how it went at some point (I noticed because when I did my cambre back and looked past my arm I saw a bunch of people hurriedly put their arm up and cambre).  It was funny, reminded me of my first semester when I had absolutely no idea what was going on during barre.

For tendus, we did tendus en croix then let go of the barre and temps lie to the right side, then other foot.  I definitely could not do temps lie during my first semester, and it took many months of me doing temps lie in all direction repeatedly in the living room to get somewhat stable. We did lots of degages once again, as well as piques.  The second time through we let go of the barre for the degages, which is something that I’d gotten used to by now.

Then we did echappe changements (the releve kind, not jumps) from fifth.  We did something like three sets and then hold the balance, like last class. Then Teacher told us to step back from the barre and do it with no hands. A moment of panic, cut short by the start of the music.  At least she said we didn’t have to hold the balance, just do 8 echappe changements in a row. Arms either hands on shoulders, hands on waist or a la seconde “if you can make them look pretty”.  As I wasn’t concerned about my arms but tipping over I went for the a la seconde arms. It went better than I expected, maybe my second position wasn’t as wide as it could be, or my fifth a little more closed, but I didn’t tip over or fall off balance. My arms were fine.

In center we did the 3 grand battements and passe balance (passe releve the second time) combination from last semester. I’ve been practicing it at home all along, so it’s gotten much better.  Teacher told me as much, before telling me to work on keeping my foot pointed on the way back down. That is something I’ve noticed needs work, as I think I exhaust all my concentration on the way up to have any left for the way down. For the  longest time I came down by falling off the (attempt at) balance, so it’s not as though I have much practice in lowering myself down gracefully.

It was a turning day for me! We did our chaines diagonally instead of across the studion, which normally feels  way harder for me.  And lately my turns have not been going particularly well even across.  My turns felt stable, I was actually spotting, and remembering to not drop my elbows. We were going across the floor in groups of three.  Which means that we’re relying on the other two people not swerving into our path or crashing into us.  Ever since I actually did collide with someone a few weeks or a month or so ago I’ve really gotten over my fear of crashing, seeing that it’s not as bad as I had imagined it (nobody fell! we didn’t go flying!). Still, when one of my classmates’ rapidly spining forms came too close for comfort I did let out a squeal. How balletic, I know, LOL.

Before doing a combination, Teacher told us to practice our balances, telling us during our balances to make sure we pointed our feet every time they come off the ground.  In one of those rare moments, she was actually looking in my direction when I did my slow-tempo-very-foot-pointed balance and said “Good!”.  From there I did the tombe, pas de bourree, finishing up in releve sous-sus with arms in high fifth. It was pretty good, actually (ugh, I worry I’m sounding all cocky here – I swear I’m not trying to!) as I finally got the hang of the coordination for the tombe pas de bourree, making sure my supporting leg was bent while my working leg was perfectly straight (and foot pointed), then going through the sous-sus position twice during the pas de bourree, as Teacher said to do. I think the reason doing these pas de bourree is so confusing for my body is because during my first semester I learned (and then practiced at home up until last semester) how to do the other kind of pas de bourree in which you put the back foot in coupe before releve and putting it down. So the kind where you step to the side to switch feet – though simpler, in theory – kind of throws me off. In IC we used both kinds and I always felt like I had no idea what I was doing.

For our balance combination, we did port de bras, two balances, then put our leg behind in B+ position with the opposite arm up high, then fondued on our front leg which cambre forward, then close to fifth and other side. It was a nice, slow combination, a change of pace from all the sautes, echappes and changements.

It was a good ballet day!

9 thoughts on “Thursday Class: The Right Kind Of Motivation

  1. imitationballerina

    I haven’t seen this video before! It was really nice to see. So different from today. It’s not as flashy. It’s not so much about how high they can get their leg, but more about the artistry. Thanks for posting!

    1. kit Post author

      She is an amazing ballerina! I was marveling at the differences between then and now, but couldn’t quite put my finger on it…

    1. kit Post author

      Good question! While each part presents its own challenges, I think different dancers find either role easier (or harder) than the other based on their own strengths as a dancer. As for me, I think I lack the speed to do a convincing Black Swan, so maybe the White Swan would be better suited. But then – and I could be totally wrong about this – I think the White Swan’s solo and pas de deux may be a bit longer (hence adding to the difficulty). And I can’t decide based on the music, because it’s all so pretty!


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