Learned something new…
“Use your core!” I’ve been told countless times. I’d always taken this to mean my abs, and taken my terrible balance as indication of either weak abs or completely forgetting to squeeze/engage them in the spur of the moment. Over time, I gradually remembered to contract my abs and seen a small improvement in my balance (though stronger ankles and feet may have something to do with it too). But not an extreme improvement by far (and my balancing, especially when releveing quickly, was really hit or miss).
Earlier today I was reading in my Pilates textbook something about how your abdominals will support you, but it’s your back extensors holding you up. I remembered reading a few months ago that the core includes not only the abs but also some of the back muscles. Suddenly all of Teacher’s analogies about imagining “pushing down” on something with your arms to use your arms to help you balance on releve made sense. And by core it didn’t just mean squeeze your abs! Couldn’t wait to try it in class!
Of course, between the time I figured this out and class were several hours, and I was close to forgetting that I’d even had the thought at all, if it wasn’t for Teacher reminding us to use our lats and feel our arms push down.
After plies with port de bras we did tendus with one hand on the barre, though no port de bras yet. At some point, possible after the 8-8-4-4-2-2-1-1-1-1 degages with no hands, we did 8 releves, holding a long balance after the last. Remembering to use my back muscles, I was able to hold the balance! I think this may have been the piece of information I was missing, the key to why I could never balance no matter how much I worked out my core. I’m really excited to see if this holds up – and holds me up – in future classes.
In center, we did the 3 grand battements with arms in high fifth, plie and passe releve balance (while bringing arms down to the sides, yet not in the usual a la seconde position) combination again. My passe releve balances have come a long way since last semester and I’m pleased about that. Still working on keeping my foot pointed on its way down…
My chaines turns were ok, to both sides. Lately I’ve been working on keeping my arms in a nice middle fifth position in front of me, and it’s possible that this made me engage my back muscles which improved my turning stability. Was able to finish the series of turns in first arabesque with my working leg off the floor and hold the balance. Not bad. It’s been one of those things that I can do at home but then when I’m in class I screw it up for a while now.
Sautes were horrible however. I was having a lot of trouble with them, my feet were not pointed and I felt as though trying to point them while remembering to land in plie while not leaning forward was too many things to multitask. Then we did a 3 echappe changement, pas de chat, other side combination that was kind of fun. I think I do enjoy jumping, it’s just so difficult for my body. Perhaps after enough practice on the jumpboards in Pilates class I will have the muscle memory to jump with pointed feet and land in plie.
We finished up with a 4 chasse (the gallop kind), ballet run and grand jete across the floor combination. It was fun, though I felt limited for space; my chasses seem to take me traveling forward quite a bit. When we line up to go across the floor, 3 at a time, I end up usually in the back behind the other two. While I’m more comfortable in the back, I hate feeling like I’m going to land on the person in front of me. Maybe it’s time to consider going in the front.