We did not really have class on Tuesday, so Thursday’s class was my first ballet class in over a week, since last Wednesday. It felt pretty good to be back in class, though my body has been incredibly sore all week.
For the first time in the semester we did everything with only one hand at the barre. Well, with the exception of the barre-less 8-8-4-4-2-2-1-1-1-1 and releve echappes. Plies with complete port de bras and cambres.
Then 3 tendus en croix, one super slow with foot articulation, two regular speed, no arms (arms out in second). I positioned myself so that I would face the mirror on the second side (left working leg side) because I think that’s the side that needs more attention. Sounds weird, but I prefer to face the mirror for the second side, as I think my tendus are more technically correct on my right working leg, at least the foot part. Teacher corrected me on my pelvis positioning. A few of my classmates were having confusion issues about which side to be facing or which leg they were supposed to be using. Though I don’t remember my first semester’s confusion that vividly (just in general), how lost I felt when I was attempting IC helps me remember (and completely sympathize with them).
We did 3 degages en croix with eleve (not releve) after each direction before the next, arm in second during the degages, high fifth for the releve. Didn’t let go of the barre for this one – that would have been … interesting.
When we did echappe changement releves we first did them with one hand at the barre then with no hands on barre, arms either out in second or on shoulders (I chose to the the arms in second). A classmate in a nearby barre made the funniest expression – kind of like a raised eyebrows “Whoa!” look – when Teacher said to step away from the barre and do them. It went ok, I managed to not tip over, and my calves didn’t hurt at least. Teacher corrected me on my pelvis placement.
For our rond de jambe and fondue, balance in arabesque (and with leg out in front after doing it en dedans), soutenu and other side combination we had a super pretty piano piece again. This is definitely one of my favorite combinations in this class.
New, more extensive barre stretching, similar to what we had done in IC (grabbing the foot and pulling the leg up in front and a la seconde and grabbing the foot behind us with the opposite side hand, pulling up our leg into attitude derriere, then if possible down to a penchee position.) This was fun. Despite my sore muscles I was able to get my leg up nice and high in my attitude derriere, and I love how when i grab my foot behind me and bend forward I can bring it up much more higher. Of course, I have been working on a similar stretch at home for a few months now, so I’m sure that has a lot to do with it.
In center, we started off with our 3 grand battements with arms in high fifth, passe releve balance combination. Teacher corrected me again on keeping my foot pointed on the way down from passe releve. She said we’ll be doing pirouettes soon.
Chaines went ok to the right, to the left I was having trouble spotting my head quickly enough. Then we did sautes, changements and echappes with arms at different tempos. I find it much more difficult to stay on timing if we’re going at a fast tempo. And I definitely have no idea how to manage to point my feet if I jump lower (to accomodate the faster speed).
Across the floor we did 4 chasse gallops, ballet run and pas de chat (instead of jete). I find it much easier to the right side, as I did with the jetes.
We finished up with reverence. Reverence is quickly becoming one of my favorite parts of class – and probably my favorite part of center. No, not because it means it’s almost time to collapse into the car in a mess of tired, sweaty muscles and go home and rest (though I do enjoy that part, believe me. This girl once told me she was going to go running immediately after ballet class and even though I try super hard to be respectful of others I’m afraid I may have looked at her as if she had two heads. Running after ballet? How?! (To be fair, she ended up dropping the class, as I haven’t seen her in weeks)). Anyway, the reasons I love reverance is that it’s one of the only times in BC we use epaulement, as well as it being a nice adagio-ish combination that feels very ballet-ish, graceful and pretty. If we could just do adagio all the time I would be so happy…
As I mentioned earlier, this was my first ballet class in over a week. I had not expected to be this sore all week, though I think that has more to do with my Pilates classes than ballet. But I had expecxted even less that in that short period of time my ballet skills would seriously decline.
My balancing was not as stable as it had been pre-spring break, despite me remembering to engage my lats. Teacher corrected me several times on my pelvic placement, which I had improved upon right before the break (but is now doing it’s swayback thing). If I may be honest, I’m feeling very discouraged and sad. Actually, now that we’re getting honest, that’s the reason I didn’t even feel like writing on the blog lately. Here’s my train of though: if my skills deteriorated so bad after just a week or two off (and yes, I did practice at home during spring break, though not during the school week), and the semester is over halfway done then there’s only so far I can improve. I saw firsthand how much improvement I lost from the end of last semester by the beginning of the semester. It feels like for every 3 steps I take forward I end up taking 2 back…
It may seem like I’m having one of those ballet-is-making-you-miserable moments, in which case the solution would seem logical: quit. The thing is, it’s not ballet in itself that makes me miserable, no way. When I practice at home and I see my perceived improvement I feel so happy, so alive. I love going over the now-familiar motions, love feeling the strength, the beauty, the music. At random throughout the day I’ll find myself standing in a ballet pose; I’ll walk past my practice mirror and try to balance; when accompanying Boyfriend to a boring store I’ll practice chaines and pique turns down the aisle; when I hear a beatiful song I make chorography up for it in my head; out in the field after my run I’ll do gallop chasses, saute arabesques, pas de chats; I have so much fun with it, I feel like a kid again (or at least the active, in shape kid I wish I would have had a chance to be…)
Putting it simply, I cannot imagine my life without ballet in it (which sounds super corny, but whatever, it’s the truth).
No, what makes me sad is that the way things are going there will always be a limit to how much I can improve. Just when I’m starting to get much better the semester ends and then it’s almost back to square 1. When I practice at home I pick up – and reinforce- bad habits, and to be honest, I’m upset at myself for not having enough body perception to be able to correct myself and stay in alignment. If I don’t practice my strength will decrease, but if I do practice unsupervised for long periods of time (weeks or months)I learn how to do it wrong…
In short, it won’t be real ballet, no matter how good it feels, no matter how happy it makes me. I can continue dancing for myself, but to try to improve at ballet is setting myself up for failure.
So yeah, been feeling very down lately. Getting into any more detail will exceed the scope of this blog, and I really don’t wanna go there, as I realize that nobody likes a downer, even if it is the truth…well, my truth. I will try very hard to make the best of it, enjoy the rest of my semester, be very grateful that I at least have this opportunity to take ballet, because some ballet is better than none.