Thursday Class: Still Holding Up

Well, the arms/lats/core connection continues holding me up…

We did LOTS of super long balances on releve, going from arms in middle fifth to high fifth, then slooowly opening them up to the sides ( “Get taller!” calls out Teacher) and finally coming down into plie.  These long balances with moving arms used to always get me, as it felt that right when I had found my balance the motion of the arms would upset my center of gravity and down I come.  But with the engagement of the lats, much more stable.  Before I felt as though even though my abs and turnout muscles were fully engaged I was folding over from the top half – no more!

An added bonus is that since now my balance is not so precarious – because even on flat using the back has helped – I am able to work on lifting the arches of my feet.  I think this class was the first time Teacher didn’t correct me on my fallen arches.  She also mentioned to me that my back was looking much better at as well, yay!

About the whole using your back as part of the core and the amazing improvements I can’t help but feel why did nobody tell me! But the thing is, as with other non-ballet related things in my life (that once I discovered the secret to I was like ‘why did I not know this sooner?!’), people did technically tell me. I just seem to have a comprehension problem until I have that “Aha!” moment and make it my own understanding/knowledge. I don’t know how to explain it any better, but let me just say that this realization takes a lot of (both literal and metaphoric) weight off my shoulders; one cannot truly know/comprehend something until one is good and ready, and nothing else will hasten the process. (Please don’t mind my tangentiality. Even if this makes sense to no one but myself, it needed to be said. For me.)

Besides the many long balances at barre, we also did a couple new combinations.  We did piques with our degages en croix (facing the barre), and I really liked seeing how my coordination has gotten much better (as well as my legs getting stronger, as I wasn’t sore after the piques at all).  We did a fondue en croix and then 3 rond de jambes a terre combination that has the most beautiful piano music to go with it.  I especially love rond de jambes – and fondues – so it was nice to have them both in the same combination. That and the lovely music made it feel very dance-y.

In center, we added on to our 3 grand battements with arms in high fifth and passe releve balance combination: now after doing both sides we grand battement derriere 3 times and passe releve.  My grand battements derriere are not as strong as the ones to the front (obviously, as I’ve never met anyone who battements better to the back than the front (though they may exist, in a mythic land with unicorns and flying piglets…)) but they’ve gotten better since last semester.

Actually, speaking of grand battements, when I did my home practice session on Friday, I noticed that if I do the lat engaging thing it keeps my upper body from sort of collapsing on itself when I battement front.  This was something that I was having trouble with, and had almost given up on ever improving, so I’m glad to see that things are looking up.

My sautes were better than Tuesday’s class – maybe that day I’d just been a little tired? My feet were pointing at least, though Teacher corrected me on my landings (I was raising my heels at times, and lots my turnout a little). Chaines turns to the left were weak though I did manage to hold my balance in my finishing arabesque pose (once again, thank the lats!).

In our 4 chasse gallops, ballet run, and grand jete combination, remember I’d said that I was going to try going in the front of my little group of three? Well, that proved a bit harder than expected, as people always rush to the front spots (unless they’re shy), and me – being shy – usually end up in the back.  So we went across the floor that way (me in the back) and I totally felt restricted, like I couldn’t use my longes strides (or whatever you’d call the gallop version of a stride) to the fullest extent (and at one point I smacked someone’s hand accidentally with my right boob – awkward). I think one of the other people in my group noticed (or maybe I was too close to her personal space) and she offered for the second side if I wanted to go in front. Ok, sure! It went much better that time (except for the fact that it was to the left and my jetes with left leg in front suck compared to my right).  Actually, on the right side I was able to land on one leg in plie and actaully hold the balance, which shocked me (in a good way).  Once again, I’m giving credit to the back muscles.

During the last few minutes of class, someone I’d never seen before came in – probably for IC – and she looked so officially ballerina-esque.  I think my classmates felt that way too because I noticed we kept looking curiously in her direction as she started to warm up while we waited our turn. After that this one male dancer that took IC class with us once – the one with the awesome beated jumps with hang time – also came in. It was so tempting to ask Teacher if I could stay and observe IC just to get an opportunity to watch these dancers (probably pros or ex-pros) take class. But I was worried she would ask if I was staying why didn’t I just take class rather than observe so I didn’t.

Oh, and we did reverance (a rare occasion with Teacher).  It was a pretty port de bras, then chasse slide side and chasse slide front, foot goes behind in B+, and curstsey, other side.  To be honest, my curstseys suck – I think I’m doing more of a fondue movement, bending my front leg while sliding my back foot along the floor. Other people are bending the back leg as well, not keeping it straight. Off to youtube for clarification!

13 thoughts on “Thursday Class: Still Holding Up

  1. Trippmadam

    Believe it or not: when I still did ballet, my battements to the back were a lot better than those to the front. But I was the only one in my class, the other students did front battements better, too. I have no idea why I am/was different.

    1. kit Post author

      Hey, that’s pretty cool! In center also or just at barre?
      At barre I have a tendency to either let my knee bend, on not do so much a kick but a slower lift of the leg (when going to the back). In center, I’m wary about my balance and tend to battement low, but then Teacher says “Kick! Higher!” so I’m still working on it…

      1. kit Post author

        Yeah, to be fair I’ve practiced the front ones way more (as 3 out of 4 of my teachers taught the front ones much sooner in the term than grand battements to the back). I will continue practicing…

      2. Ilde

        Interestingly, Kit, that slow lift of the leg is actually a step. It’s called “battement long” – not sure of the spelling, but you pronounce it just like the normal “long”. Also, for the life of me I cannot find any info on the web about it. But I’ve had it in a class, I promise! It’s the same principle as a developé – aka really slow move – but with straight legs like a grande battement. Death on the thighs.

      3. kit Post author

        That sounds like a cool move! Since after my first semester of ballet I practiced at home without instruction (or corrections) for 6 months or so before taking a class again, I think that’s where I got in the habit of doing “battement long” instead of grand battement. At the time I didn’t know enough to know that we were kicking, all I say was legs going up way high. It wasn’t until last summer when E Teacher corrected me on it that I even knew I wasn’t doing a proper grand battement. Still, I’d love to take a class in which we battement long, as slower moves seem to come easier to me that quick moves…

  2. Trippmadam

    Believe it or not: when I still did ballet, my battements to the back were a lot better than those to the front. But I was the only one in my class, the other students did front battements better, too. I have no idea why I am/was different.

    1. kit Post author

      I am happy with ballet again 🙂
      As for the curtsy, eventually it’ll happen (I hope). Last year there was no way I would have been able to curtsy (and hold my balance) and last summer I still couldn’t even stand in B+…

  3. Ilde

    I’m really impressed at how you focus on various parts of the body to get the total effect. I find it difficult to focus on all the things at the same time. I think once beginners start focusing on those things, other than just getting the combinations right, they realise even more so that ballet is, indeed, not easy. But ja, isn’t it great making this discovery of “oh THAT helps! Why didn’t I think of it sooner!”

    1. kit Post author

      Thanks! 🙂
      I definitely agree that ballet is hard! To focus on all the things, I started with one thing at a time. First, back when I first started, I just focused on my feet, making sure to not overcross when I would tendu (but not to go out to the side either, unless I meant to go a la seconde), and “presenting my ankle” and pointing my feet and keeping my hips square. Back then my arms would just be out to the side (though NOT in a la seconde proper) and I had no idea what do even do with my hands! Then after focusing on that for almost the whole first year I was able to add on arms that didn’t look bent and scarecrow-like, and I started to work on my hands. But I still have lots to learn (obviously) as I’m barely now getting into how to move the head…
      Oh, and at first I could most definitely not even get the combinations right! It was the hardest thing actually; I wanted to practice at home, but I couldn’t even remember what it was I had to practice. I’m definitely excited about my latest discovery, and wonder what else I will discover that will help as I go along!


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