Had another fun class. Really love these later weeks of the semester!
New port de bras for plies: arm starts low, goes only to demi-second (that’s what Teacher called it, basically not as high as a la seconde) for two demi plies, arm up to high fifth whle doing eleve,arms out to second and then all the way down for grand plies, repeat in second and in fifth (with cambre towards the barre in a la seconde, cambre devant and derriere in first and fith), tendu to first, then circular cambre, plie, arch stretch, and balance. I was feeling pleased that I actually remembered all of it even though this is the first time we do this particular combination (at least this semester, and I would have to go through my archives to see if we did it last semester), it means my ability to remember combinations is getting better!
A new thing we did this class was frappes. We did them en croix which was pretty cool because I think last semester we only did them a la seconde. We did tendu a la seconde, bring back the foot flexed, then 4 frappes in each direction. Today I feel like I like frappes, at least these simple ones. I’m still working on the ones that switch or beat at home (and slowly I’m getting the hang of them). Teacher also demonstrated the pointed foot ones – my first time ever seeing them, though I’d heard of them – though we didn’t try them.
When we did our barre stretches and foot-in-hand stretches, after we had our leg stretched out and up a la seconde, Teacher said to try letting go of the leg and see if you can hold it up there. I let go and the leg just continued to float there (though I did worry that it was looking show-offish) until I controlledly brought it back down. Don’t know if I’m using the correct muscles to keep it there, but at least some muscles in me are strong.
In center, we started we a new adagio combination: Port de bras, 3 pas de cheval devant (otherwise known to myself as the “fondue-walk”), close to fifth, port de bras to second, 2 balancés, passe back leg to developpe devant while bringing arms up to high fifth, releve sous-sus, and chasse to the side of the back leg while bringing arms down through middle fifth (first?) and ending up with the arms up high in an open position (which I don’t know what it’s called, but I’ll look it up at some point in my copy of Classical Ballet Technique), other side. It was a really nice combination, beautiful music and simple enough in difficulty that I could really dance instead of worry about what I was next or how am I going to ruin it by not balancing. Loved it! I always make sure to remember center combinations so I can practice them at home (and eventually get good at them, from repetition alone, as doing a combination only a few weeks at class and then going on to a totally different one does nothing for my improvement) since “real” combinations from class just feel more official than any random stuff I make up – glad to have another one to add to the list!
We practiced pirouettes, first doing 4 one-quarter turns (going up in passe releve and only turning to the side), then 2 half turns (this time facing the back of the room, and then to the front), then 2 full pirouettes. The good news was that the 1/4 turns were super easy, and the 1/2 turns were almost as easy. As for the whole revolution, I can get around, but not really land cleanly. I don’t think I’ve ever done a clean piroeutte, being honest, though I do get around around 50% of the time. Also, I’m going up in passe releve like it’s no big deal (which is only a big deal because I was struggling with this so much last semester). I still haven’t gotten the hang of spotting for pirouettees, as well.
It was not really a good jumping day, just seeming like everything was going wrong. In regular sautes from first (16 of them), Teacher called out “K, where’s your first?!” (since I have a tendency of landing with my feet slightly separated, nowhere near being second, but not touching together at the ankles either) but at least I was managing to point my feet. We moved on to changements (also 16) and now my correction was that I wasn’t crossing the feet over enough on landing – and of course foregetting to point my feet. So then what do I do? I start going faster, which besides throwing me way off tempo, also makes it even more unlikely that I’ll manage to point my feet. I’d noticed before that my timing for jumps sucks, but this is the first time I’ve made that connection that when I realize I’m doing it wrong I start to do it faster (I think in my head I’m thinking that if I do it faster I’ll get that number of jumps out of the way quicker… go figure). Now that I’ve actually realized that I hope to be able to work on fixing it, like ‘don’t jump faster, jump better’ or something.
For the next combination (3 echappes and pas de chat, repeat other side, x2) I was trying really hard to watch the timing, while also pointing the feet. And I was feeling pretty exhausted and out of breath as well. I’m not completely over my cold yet, after all.
In other exciting news, I made a ballet acquaintance/friend! Honestly, I’m a little hesitant to say “friend” (when does someone become a friend anyway? Especially if you have trouble making friends, are horribly shy, and more than a little awkward), but what I mean is the girl I shared the barre with and I had a nice ballet-related conversation prior to Teacher’s arrival. We got into discussing favorite leotards (and I gave her the tip of going to the discount outlet where I’ve gotten most of my stuff), favorite teachers (Strict Teacher is scary, LOL) and just gushing over ballet in general. It is so cool to actually discuss ballet-related things with someone in person – not that I don’t enjoy writing about and reading about ballet-related stuff on the blogs, of course. It was nice to meet someone whose been doing ballet about as long as me through the school, made me feel less like I’m a total weirdo. (Seriously, most people who I come across ask questions such as “Ballet? Why are you taking that? You’ve taken it before? Why are you taking it again, did you fail it?” and can’t seem to wrap their heads around the concept of ‘I’m taking it because I like it. And taking it again because (well, besides because I like it) I want to continue to get better. Ballet’s not something that you get good at in a couple months (or even a couple semesters, or years). And I take it through school because it’s nice to be able to afford it.’ I try to not get too exasperated though, and once in a great while I even meet someone who says “Hey, that’s pretty cool!”)
And in (somewhat less exciting) other news, lately I’ve been feeling quite a bit discouraged. The reason? My feet. Though my feet are pretty strong, thanks to all the theraband exercises, my toes are, for lack of a better word, weird. A few months ago I wrote about how my fingers are either double-jointed or something, giving them the ability to bend crookedly (They say a picture is worth a thousand words…link at the bottom of this post). Unfortunately, my toes seem to have some of the same ability, except there it becomes a problem. It is extremely hard for me to stretch out my toes without them bending. I can point my feet (especially when doing adagio and at barre), but my toes themselves have a tendency to scruch up. My second toe is constantly bent, and my fourth toe is halfway under my third toe. It is possible for me to stretch out my toes manually, but the muscles that should be there to make the toes stretch on their own are very underdeveloped. I am hopeful that I can work on this by teaching my toes the correct muscle memory to stop being scruched up, but I know that it will take a very long time (if it’s even possible). And let’s not forget my falling arches (which have gotten better, but still, I’ve had to work so hard to get to this point). Out of all the hobbies in the world, why did I have to pick the one that my feet are horribly unsuited for?!
(Because ballet is awesome, that’s why)
Well, despite these setbacks there has been progress, so I will continue to ballet on 🙂