Something Weird I’ve Noticed…

The first time I noticed this was during that month or so that I was also taking Intermediate class a few months back (and honestly, I had all but forgotten). However, a couple days ago I was practicing at home, doing the tendu combination off of Kathryn Morgan’s “Classic Ballet Class Center Workout” video on youtube – which is excellent, by the way, highly recommended – and it included some pirouettes en dehors, which reminded me of my experiences in IC.

It is so much easier – well, not necessarily easier, just smoother somehow – to do pirouettes mid-combination than by themselves.  What I mean is, if I set out to just practice pirouettes, like tendu, close fifth (or fourth), and pirouette, odds are very high that I will mess up. Not get all the way around, lose my form during the turn (losing turnout, foot not staying in passe), not spotting at the end, the usual.  But then, when I go into a pirouette as part of a combination, with little to no prep time, for whatever reason I actually get all the way around. Not only that, I actually keep my turnout. By no means am I saying that I have perfect pirouettes – trust me, I don’t – but there is a visible difference. (Of course, the spotting is still not there, argh!)

So now I’m wondering why this is. And, I guess, is this normal?

I have a theory, of course.  When I’m just doing pirouettes I may be overthinking it, and not letting my body do it’s thing. But in the middle of a combination, there’s not much spare time to think, just time to do.  This may be just like how it was so hard for me to go up to passe releve until all these (mid-combination) pirouettes were thrown at me. Suddenly, going up into passe releve wasn’t such a big deal anymore.  Turns out my body had the muscle memory and the strength to do it, it was just a mental block of some sorts. Is that what’s happening now with my pirouettes?

I’m also wondering, should I even question this or just go with it? Like, instead of wondering why my body is so weird like this should I just be happy that I found something that sort of works for me?

I guess I’m just confused because I thought if I just practice pirouettes repetitively they’ll get better, but they’re not.  So then, I try a combination, thinking ‘Here goes nothing!’ and I actually get all the way around. Every single time. So weird. But a good kind of weird, I think…

Oh, and just had to clarify: I am by no means skilled enough to get through that entire video. I’m working on the tendu combination, and was hoping to work on the adagio, but it is freaking hard! In the comments, someone requested a beginner version of the video and I am so with the commenter on that. Still, it’s nice to see what more intermediate combinations entail, and to have them broken down step by step how she does. She’s doing an amazing public service – much thanks! 🙂

14 thoughts on “Something Weird I’ve Noticed…

  1. PointePerfect Admin

    Oh my gosh I know exactly what you mean! I think about this every single class and have been meaning to blog about it, LOL!

    In my ballet routine this year we have a combination where we developpe front, tombe pas de bourre, prep double pirouette repeat. In the combination I nail my double every time, but my landing is a little shaky, so I think “hey I should practice my landing”. Practicing just pirouettes, I can’t get a full double rotation, let alone land them nice! So frustrating!

    1. kit Post author

      Wow – I had no idea this was common. Frustrating, but nice to feel that I’m not alone!
      I’m still a long ways away from a double pirouette though, mid-combination or not…

  2. Basia

    Maybe over thinking it is the problem… Its a physical activity after all. Maybe try smiling whilst doing pirouettes, it might relax your mind???
    Im also doing Kathryn Morgans classes, love them, I feel I’m improving so much even if i can’t quite keep up with her classes.

    1. kit Post author

      Hmm, smiling to relax me – I got to try that. The funny thing is that I think I usually WAS smiling during my pirouettes while in beginner class this semester. It was weird, but something about being in the middle of a group of other individuals who also couldn’t pirouette yet were having fun anyway made it so fun. Very no pressure. At home, however, I don’t think I smile during pirouettes (though I have caught myself smiling during other moves), so I’m going to be trying that and seeing if there’s a noticeable difference. Have you noticed a difference in your pirouettes, or ballet moves in general, if you’re smiling versus not?
      I love the Kathryn Morgan videos! I’ve watched all of her technique-related videos, but this center work one is the first I’ve gotten around to trying. I’ll definitely be trying out more!

      1. Basia

        Ive only just done her barre one, it was a bit hard to do…and i only got halfway through the centre, i kept stopping to start again… Hopeless, but they do say repetition ensures learning!
        I had been doing Ballet Blast over and over (bought off amazon
        With the smiling, it makes everything seem more joyful, easier and fun…but like you, I often don’t, I get too serious….and I’m always wiser after the event or when commenting on other’s experiences LOL!!

      2. kit Post author

        Yeah, it was especially hard because I would try to remember how the combination goes before even attempting it. One of these days I’m going to not be lazy and pull up youtube on the tv so I can watch it while attempting to do it. Or I could try getting a ballet dvd…
        I was remembering that whenever I visit my little sister and show her little ballet routines she’s always saying “Why do you keep smiling?”. I always tell her “‘Cause I’m having fun!”. Smiling definitely makes it seem easier, not just look easier. During practice though I do tend to get over-serious.

      3. Basia

        i got myself an AppleTV box which allows you to connect to youtube via the TV. Very happy i did that. Its transformed my practice 😃

      4. kit Post author

        Oh, cool! I usually youtube on the big screen using Boyfriend’s PS3, but I get so lazy about it that I only do that when I’m trying to watch a whole ballet performance or something. The rest of the time it’s the trusty Ipad…

  3. wedoballet

    You are totally NOT crazy. I’ve experienced the same thing with anything I get in a rut about… but turns generally. My theory is that there is actually something wrong in the technique for the turn that is correct in the surrounding steps, so you maintain the better alignment you have in the other steps as you move into the turn.
    I know for me, I actually do my best turns when they come in the middle of jumps. I stay forward and push strongly through my supporting leg, which are just strong jumping technique carrying over.

    1. kit Post author

      I think there may be something to that theory. It makes perfect sense for the technique from the surrounding steps to carry over to the turn. I know my actual turning technique is not great, as evidenced by my bad spotting, so there we go…
      I haven’t done any turns with jumps yet. It sounds fun – and advanced, lol. My jumping technique needs work too, so that would probably not help with my pirouettes,lol.

  4. A Writer

    I have also found that mid-combination pirouettes are way easier to execute (one of my dance teachers put them in our center grand battement combo, which was great). I’ve also found that I choke/get over analytical if I’m practicing pirouettes alone, and can usually sometimes get a clean single (finally!) in a combination. It’s totally a mental thing for me – but then, what isn’t in ballet?

    1. kit Post author

      Yeah, everything in ballet is a mental thing – I never would’ve guessed! I think on my own practice time I do have way too much time to get analytical. I’ve noticed I tend to put pressure on myself at times, and it’s so counterproductive.
      I’m still feeling so much better that this better pirouettes mid-combination thing seems to be common.

  5. kitteacat

    My pirouettes suck, and I know they do, so I worry about them. In my last couple of classes, my first in each direction is awesome (well, in an almost-a-clean-single sort of awesome). But as soon as I think, “Hey, maybe I get this turning thing!” they fall completely apart. The mental aspect is right on. Eh. Give me jumps all day long!

    1. kit Post author

      I hear you on things falling apart the second I think “Hey, I think I got this!”. In my case, I’ve found jumps to be surprisingly mental as well – the anticipation before we start just kills me and I psych myself out, though slowly I’m getting it 🙂


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