Monthly Archives: August 2015

These Hot, Lazy, Late-Summer Days…

Well, I haven’t been too lazy to actually do ballet – I’ve been taking class on average 3 times a week.  Just been slightly lazy about the writing about it part, though I have been doing plenty of offline writing.  WordPress has been glitching like crazy on my tablet (which I do all my blogging on), and I’ve lost some stuff that I’ve written before pressing the “save” key – argh! But I do have this obsession with keeping a timeline of my progress, so that, more than anything, compels me to write some more – eventually.

Beginning with things that are going well, I have seen much improvement in my promenades lately.  We did this nice adagio combination in center in class, developpe devant, tendu, close and brush to the back, then brush to the front again, developpe a la seconde, tendu, close, developpe derriere, tendu, close brush front, brush back, balance in arabesque and then promenade. Repeat to the other side. I’ve felt so much more stable during the promenade ever since I’ve been making my foot movements as small as possible – no more super high releves for promenades. Another thing I’ve been extra mindful of is my head placement and my core/upper back connection.  However, while I did get all the way around and not lose my balance, I did notice that my arabesque leg was significantly lower by the end of the promenade than when I first balanced in arabesque.

So then we were tortured worked on this exercise to strengthen our muscles for arabesque. It started out with us laying prone (facedown) on the floor, and pushing up our upper body with our arms (like the cobra pose). Then we had to lift our legs off the floor, trying to lift our thighs all the way off. Then (as if this wasn’t presenting enough of a challenge) we were to let go of our arms and bring them to our sides, and hold the position (I think it was for either a minute or 30 seconds, can’t remember).  We did this five times, before doing a similar exercise in which we stretched on arm out in front of us, while stretching up and out the opposite leg – so right arm, left leg. I’m proud to say that I got through the whole sequence without collapsing – not that there was much distance to collapse, since we were already on the floor.

After this we went straight into a saute combination.  As part of the combination we did turning while doing echappes from 5th to 2nd. It was similar to when we turn while doing changements, though before I had a chance to try it I thought it looked pretty intimidating. Another saute combination we did was 3 changements, pause, 3 changements, pause, 2 echappes and close, 3 changements. I liked this combination because stuff like taking a pause in the middle of jumps – in correct timing – can be tricky for me, and this day I sort of did it ok.

Another petite allegro combination we did was glissade, glissade, assemble to the right, glissade, glissade, assemble to the left, glissade assemble right, glissade assemble left, 3 petite jetes. This combinatio was fine when we marked it, but when we did it it was so fast and I sloppied it up a bit. Also, I was in the first group, so that didn’t help as I was a little nervous.

We also did this basic turning combination: chasse to arabesque, lunge position in 4th, and pirouette en dehors, then repeat with the other leg in front (and turn on the other leg, also en dehors). I was happy because I think I’m getting closer and closer to clean  en dehors pirouettes. But then, these were from fourth, so I guess it’s not something that feels as difficult for me as from fifth.

The hardest thing we’ve done, in my opinion, has to be tour jetes.  NS Teacher started giving out a combination, and it included tour jetes. I think a few of us looked terrified because she was like “Who’s never done a tour jete?” Those of us slowly raised our hands, so we worked on tour jetes by themselves instead. They’re so scary! It was like chasse sideways, then brush out and at an angle with the leg opposite of the side you’re turning to, then brush out the other leg behind you. I was starting to think it was beyond my current skill level for sure, but then at the end of class I practiced a couple of them when the whole class wasn’t watching and it felt less terrifying. I think i just don’t want everyone to see me go flying onto my face!

Another day, only one other person showed up, so it was almost like a semi-private.  There is really no way to hide then! Luckily, we mostly worked on technique at the barre and on our balance.  While my balance has improved so much over the last two years, I still need all the help I can get.

This next week my classes at community college start up again, so I’m excited about that. Yay, full dancing schedule! Possibility of ballet 6 days a week! Of course, how many days I actually do end up going to class per week is going to depend on my soreness level.  Sometimes I have days when I just feel so sore and it’s very discouraging – it’s the closest that I ever get to feeling old.  I still feel really energetic and hyper, but then I stand up and it’s like everything is sore. Makes me feel like I should take it easier, but at the same time I have all this energy and if I don’t work it off I feel so restless – and grouchy.  I still do my best thinking on my feet.  In order to not be excessively sore for ballet I’ve been refraining from running or hiking on class days, and it’s been frustrating. I think I’ll just stop this train of thought before it starts getting really whiny and negative…

Boyfriend and I have been playing tennis lately, which is kind of random.  The new place we moved to has a tennis court, and nobody else seems to ever use it, so we’ve been out there working off some of my excess energy.  Ballet has done wonders for my coordination – surely I wouldn’t have been able to actually get to and hit any balls before doing ballet.  And since Boyfriend is still refusing to take class with me, at least this way there’s an activity we can do together. Well, we’ve been watching Dance Academy on Netflix together lately, I guess that counts. Oh, and we just got tickets to see a production of Swan Lake in about a month and a half. Yay, getting Boyfriend to do ballet-related stuff!

Bun cover, by Danskin

Bun cover, by Danskin

Wrapping up this random blog post, I finally got a little bun cover!

My Leotard Shopping Do’s And Don’ts

(…or would that be “don’t’s”?)

Anyway, I went leotard shopping this weekend, as I’m getting ready for an increased load of dance classes. Came home with several new leotards, and my head full of leotard-shopping advice!

Obviously we all – referring to adult non-professional dancers/dance students – have different body shapes and sizes, as well as style preferences. So rather than saying stuff like “avoid halter tops” or “stick to solid colors” I’m just going to give some (hopefully) helpful general guidelines for leotard shopping time.  With the exception of my very first time leotard shopping (when I picked up my black Capezio short sleeve leotard – my first leotard ever) I’ve gone to dancewear outlets where there’s a vast variety of styles and brands to choose from (and the $10 price tag definitely doesn’t hurt!). As I walked out of the store after my latest leotard shopping experience, these guidelines came to mind. Wish I’d realized some of them sooner!

My new leotards!

My new leotards!

1) Do be ready to try stuff on – lots and lots of stuff. I mean, that’s the main advantage to buying dance clothes in person vs. online (where stuff may be cheaper), the opportunity to see how each of these unique garments looks and feels on your unique body (well, that and the instant gratification! 🙂 ). Also, this may sound like a no-brainer, but the way the leotard looks on the hanger or in the bin is almost irrelevant to how it’ll look while being worn – try on anything that is even remotely a possibility. If you tend to run out of energy during things like long clothes shopping marathons (as I do), try having a snack prior to going leotard shopping.

2) Don’t compromise.  Hold out until you find a leotard that’s a definite “yes”. Don’t settle for “maybe”s,  but continue to try stuff on until you find that leotard that will help you feel – and dance – your best.  It is out there – it just may be hiding behind the 15 or so leotards that you try on first.  Seriously, you should see the piles and piles of leotards that I take to the fitting room only to emerge with 2 or 3 perfect picks! At times it can feel very discouraging, and I worried that nothing would look quite right. But then, I found something that was actually somewhat flattering!

3) Do be selective. Just say no to anything that is short of perfect for your body. If you do not see yourself wearing it DO NOT get it, no matter how pretty the color is! Your wallet and your drawer/closet space will thank you. This latest trip to the dance store I found several gorgeous leotards in bright, vibrant colors, and dramatic styles. Unfortunately, despite the beautiful hues they looked much better on the clothes hanger than on me. So as hard as it was to say no to some of them, I did. After all, I need pretty and fuctional dancewear, not wall decorations.

4) Do mind the logistics. What I mean by this is, will the leotard be practical for you to get in and out of? If you’re constantly rushing to prepare for and arrive to class on time, perhaps something with a lot of buttons or clasps will not be as practical as a leotard that you can just pull on. As I tried on various leotards, I struggled so much with the ones with buttons (perhaps I have clumsy fingers?) that I decided they were a no-go even if they looked ok once fully on me.  Same goes for zippers, especially the kind running up the back – I struggled to get myself zipped up and knew that I couldn’t rely on having a trusted classmate help me zip up every day (or at all, lol), so I didn’t get a zipper-back leotard.  Zippers in the front may be easier to work with, but I’m leery of them – wouldn’t want that to accidentally unzip mid-class!

5) Don’t be limited by the size tag. I’ve found sizing for leotards to be incredibly innacurate and it can vary widely depending on the brand or style of the leotard. One brand’s small is another brand’s large.  This may be even more so if you will be shopping at an outlet store, where some of the items may have in fact wound up there because they ran larger or smaller than usual.  Grab anything that you think may fit for trying on purposes, regardless of the size advertised.

Like these 2... one's a size large, the other a size small, and they look - and fit - exactly the same. In fact, I think the small one looks bigger...

Like these 2… one’s a size large, the other a size small, and they look – and fit – exactly the same. In fact, I think the small one looks bigger…

6) Do check with your teacher first if there is a dress code, regarding color and style. It’s sad if you buy the perfect new leotard, and then find out you can’t wear it! A few semesters ago I took class with a very strict teacher who only allowed solid black leotards in specific styles.  May be a rarity as far as adult ballet classes go, but better to be safe 🙂

7) Do, if possible, wear the same type of undergarments that you will be wearing to class when you go leotard shopping. This’ll help ensure an accurate fit. Not following this rule is how I ended up with more than one otherwise perfectly-fitting leotard (at the store) that unfortunately shows way too much cleavage when worn with my 2 sport bra combo for class.  Learn from my dumb mistakes, LOL!

This one! Looked way more modest when I wasn't all pushed up...

This one! Looked way more modest when I wasn’t all pushed up…

8) Do have fun! Ballet class is the most fun you’ll ever have while sweating buckets and dressing for it should not be a drag. Happy dancewear shopping and dancing!

Any other dancewear shopping tips welcomed in the comments, of course…

New Studio, New Moves

In New Studio class we’ve been working on lots of new to me stuff, which makes barre more challenging that normal. I really like it though, as it seems that this will make me a better dancer.  I still can’t believe that I’m actually referring to myself as a dancer – perhaps soon I will start to feel like one.

Something I really like about this class is that when we change from one side to the other at barre, sometimes instead of doing a soutenu we do bourree.  This has been the first class I’ve taken that we do bourree at all (not pas de bourree, but just bourree), and I do remember before ever coming to this studio wondering when I would take a class in which we’re taught bourree.  It may have to do with there being several people en pointe in this class, but I’m just glad I get to be in the middle of it!

Another new thing I learned is something called serrie (my spelling’s probably off), which is kind of like these tiny little piques in the front.  Well, like piques but much quicker.  Then, in another combination I learned what is known as flic flac. This move was much more difficult for me than the serrie. Flic flac involved brushing out the working foot, then brushing it back in to the front (in coupe, perhaps?) while turning into the barre, and then brushing it to the back while completing the 1/2 revolution and now facing the opposite direction to do the other side.  NS Teacher came around and worked with each of us on the flic flac, having us do it for her until we got the general idea of it. I was struggling a bit, but she assured us that it’s something that gets easier once we stop overthinking it. As a lot of things in ballet do, apparently – or so I’ve heard.

We also do fondue-developpes, which is how it sounds: part fondue, part developpe. It starts out like a regular fondu, plie-ing our supporting leg, and bringing the working leg to coupe. Then we developpe the working leg, while staying in fondue, only straightening it as we close. These look so pretty the way the more experienced students in the class do them, but for now I still feel a little awkward doing them.

My rond de jambes en l’air, the small kind, are terrible. In my other classes, the majority of rond de jambes en l’air we did were the kind where the leg goes around from the front to a la seconde to the back. In this one we’re also doing the kind where the thigh stays a la seconde and only the bottom half of the leg does a little rond de jambe. I am so not good at those! I feel like it looks like I’m just ramdomly waving my calf and foot around – or perhaps even trying to shake something off. However, I do like how we do lots of extending the leg out and then bringing it back to passe in releve. I’m sure it’ll help with leg strength.

We also worked on echappe releves at the barre, which is something I hadn’t done in class in a while, months at least. It was 4 echappe releves, sous-sus balance, turn in bourree, otherside, repeat twice all with one hand at the barre. Another good strengthening workout for our calves, and I felt so much more stable than my last time doing this.

Once again we did lots of jumping in center, though at least this time I had a more appropriate leotard. The combination we did was 8 sautes in first , 8 changements, 4 changements while turning a revolution, 4 entrechats (!), glissade, cabriolet (to the side), then repeat to the left.  I was good up until the entrechats, which I have no idea how to do, so I think I just jumped to try to keep up with the tempo.  A regular jump with no beats uses up much less time than a beated one, and there was 4 jumps. So I ended up off tempo anyway.  Then there’s the cabriolet. This one to the side looked easier than the ones to the front that I’d seen in class before, but still not easy enough for me to actually do. NS Teacher said that you jump with one leg out, then have the second leg meet the first leg in midair and push the first leg up, and I at least attempted to do it, unsuccessfully.

In general, i think we (meaning the recent influx of beginners from summer ballet session, which I am a part of) slowed down the general level of this class because the first class ever here after summer session ended went much, much faster.  There’s a lot more explaination now between combinations, and now there’s more demonstrations. NS Teacher seems cool with it, which is awesome. Even though the level is still quite a challenge, the atmosphere is more laid back than during my regular semester classes, so that makes it seem much less intimidating. Yet I still feel like I’m learning so much.  I’m so glad I found out  about this place!

Getting (Somewhat) Comfortable…

So, I’m still taking class (Adult Ballet, no level specified) at New Studio, my third week there now, and class is as challenging as ever.  However, I think I’m starting to get into the groove a bit.  Or at least with all the stuff I’m messing up on I somewhat have an idea of why or how I’m messing up… and that’s good, right? I figure it’s improvement to be able to at least recognize what the issue is.

As far as barre goes, I’m starting to get the hang of the general pattern barre combinations go in this class. The port de bras is different from what I’ve gotten used to in all my other classes, more… I don’t know… dramatic. In all my other classes we would just do arms in high fifth or a la seconde at barre,  but here there’s definitely more going on.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s absolutely beautiful to look at, it’s just been giving me a bit of trouble.  But like I said, I’m starting to feel much less lost. I also get confused because when we fondue or developpe devant, our arm opens out to second instead of high fifth, and that’s taking me more to get used to than I would have imagined.  And the tempo for our plies is so fast! While the slow plies we did in summer session were a heck of a workout (and I think my turnout muscles definitely grew), I’m now finding it hard to stay on timing with these quick ones.

At the end of each barre combination we take a long balance on one leg and NS Teacher comes around and gives some very hands on corrections, which I really like.  Hands on corrections are the best, in my opinion, because sometimes I hear a correction and think I’m applying it but my interpretation of it and what my teacher wanted are not the same thing. With hands on corrections there’s no room for ambiguity, and that helps me a lot.

The barre stretch portion of class is pretty hardcore as well. After we plie and bend towards the leg, NS Teacher has us lift the leg off the barre 8 times before finally having us just hold it up on the ninth count and then bring it to arabesque.  It’s challenging, but I’ll bet it really helps with the leg strength.  Last class I took though I noticed that everyone else uses the high barre for their stretches (except for me). That motivated me to start using the high barre when I stretch at home. Perhaps I was just being lazy? I mean, I am able to stretch with the high barre, it doesn’t hurt or anything, so perhaps I should be pushing myself harder instead of just coasting by in the comfort zone.

Now, as for center combinations, they are challenging! Or is it that it just seems that way because of the port de bras? I don’t think I have done any correctly all the way yet… but I do feel like I’m getting closer that when I first started coming here.  I do feel a little alarmed when she says 2 at a time for across the floor. The worst part is that there’s not enough room in the back to mark the combination extensively before it’s my group’s turn.  This usually results in a mess, lol.  There’s one thing that’s been going through my mind though: I’m so glad that this class is not the level I started at when I was brand new to ballet. While my across the floor combinations need work, at least by this point I don’t often fear losing my balance on basic moves.  I mostly need to work on timing, remembering combinations, and the (unfamiliar)port de bras.  And pirouettes, of course. When going to the left I keep switching to en dedans pirouettes instead of en dehors beacuse the tempo is just so quick that I do what comes more instinctively.

Last class we did an extended petite allegro – lots of jumps! One of the combinations we did  8 sautes in 1st, echappe to 2nd and 8 sautes in 2nd, 8 changements, then brush out (I guess like a very small glissade that doesn’t travel?) and petite jete x2, and 3 quick jetes, then whole thing again to the left. Next we did a combination  with  8 changements en face, 8 changements while turning to the right (8 changements = 1 revolution), 8 en face, and 8 changements while turning left.  Since in the past I’d done only 4 changements per revolution, I completed my turn way too fast. However, I was super proud of myself that I didn’t run out of breath during the whole petite allegro segment (though I suspect I was not on tempo by the end).  

Also, it was a bad idea to wear my spaguetti strap leotard – now I remember why i don’t wear it to my regular classes with a dress code. During the middle of my changements I had to adjust it really quick because I was scared everything was going to pop out! But that was pretty awkward, and I worried everyone noticed in the mirror when I hastily yanked up the top of my leotard.  I resisted the urge to adjust during the second combination, but I was pretty anxious about it.

After class, NS Teacher spent some time after class going over the across the floor combination with a few of us, and I actually did some decent almost-pirouettes (from fourth). Meaning, I got around all the way, kept my foot in passe (retire) devant for the whole revolution – the only thing missing was that perfect landing with the arms in arabesque and the leg stretched out behind me.  Also, and this is somewhat of a big deal for me, when we tried the combination for her I actually didn’t mess up in the freezing up way I do when I know for sure a teacher is watching. She even said “Good!”.  I tend to freeze up and make a big mess of things when it’s my turn and I feel on the spot, so this is a big step for me. It made me wonder if I’m actually feeling comfortable in this class…

Don’t know yet if I’ll still be going here for class once semester starts. I’d like to (since I’m starting to feel at home, and all), though if I do, and still go to Adults Only studio,  I’ll be taking class 6 days a week – wow!  Last year I never would have dreamed that I could even have the possibiity of taking class six days a week! New Studio is much more affordable than Adults Only studio, but I love how in Adults Only studio we get to drill the basics in basic beginner class.  Well, we’ll see what my schedule looks like once the semester starts, but I am excited about the ballet opportunitites.

In other news (home practice), I totally did a royale! I was praticing soubresauts, and I remembered that F Teacher had said that a royale was just a soubresaut that changes feet before landing.  While doing my soubresauts I was feeling pretty strong, and I was really enjoying the feeling of my thighs coming together in mid air, like jumping up into a tight sous-sus. So I decide to just go for a royale and I did it! Then did it like eight more times just to believe it was really happening. Still no luck on an entrechat though… (Funny ballet history factoid: King Louis XIV invented royales because he couldn’t do entrechats… they even named them after him! )

Just Going For A Promenade…

Ahhh, promenades… First, of all, I really like the word “promenade”, saying it out loud or in my head. Like, prome-nahhhde, not prome-naid like lemonade (and if you never, ever saw the word “promenade” and thought it was pronounced promen-aid (yes, this was long, long ago, definitely in my pre-ballet days), you’re clearly much more sophisticated than I).

Now, actually doing the ballet step, that’s much harder. And my classes at New Studio include a lot of promenades, both at the barre and in center. Sometimes, in center, I almost get all the way around, but that’s with the working leg in attitude or coupe.  The other day in class we did this combination with promenades with the leg in arabesque – actually, started from developpe a la seconde, then bring the leg back to arabesque – and I just could not get around. Ok, who are we kidding – I couldn’t even get a quarter of the way around.

My balance while moving (dynamic balance, I guess, as opposed to static?) with my leg outstretched is not coming to me so easily. When we do promenades with the leg in coupe or attitude I think I make it around – or at least halfway – through sheer willpower. It’s hard! Much easier to just walk (which is what promenade means, to walk, just in case you didn’t know…).

Then the oddest thing happened in class the other day: We had just finished a center combination (in croisse: tendus, rond de jambe, pirouette en dehors from fourth, pas de chat, assemble, en face: tendus (same working leg), rond de jambe, pirouette, pas de chat, assemble x2, other side), and NS Teacher had just told us that for the next combination (tombe, pas de bourre, chasse, pirouette en dehors from fourth, repeat x2), which would be across the floor, we would be going in groups of two. The girl next to me and I were in the fourth group. And honestly, I was a little nervous, as going across the floor in groups of two still makes me at times (specially since NS Teacher had told some of my classmates that she expected double or triple pirouettes!). So my partner turns to me and asks “Do you know where the restroom is?” I figure it’s a bit of an odd time, specially since we just had a long stretch break before center, but I tell her where it is anyway, hoping that she’ll be back by the time it’s our turn. So she walks out, and the first pair goes and I’m waiting… and waiting… and doesn’t come back. Like, at all, for the remainded of class!

I don’t think NS Teacher even noticed. The only reason I noticed was because she was supposed to be going across the floor with me. Good to know in case you ever feel like sneaking out of class, I guess?

As for the combination, it went much better than I had expected, at least to the right. To the left, I got confused and by the end I was accidentally doing the pirouettes en dedans. I’m glad I didn’t just freeze up though (or walk out, lol).  Thankfully, someone else went across the floor with me, since their partner decided to sit out the across the floor combination as well. (I did have my introspective moment, in which I wondered if I would be too shy to sit out an impossible-for-me-at-the-moment combination – attracting attention to myself – as opposed to just silently slipping out the door… but no, I’d be worried that I could never come back to that class. )

The dumb thing is, before class I thought that this girl was totally intimidating looking. She had the stereotypical “ballet body”, and she just looked like she would be good at ballet. When we did barre though, I noticed her arms – whoever said you can tell how long someone’s been dancing by their port de bras was spot-on – and felt much less intimidated. I guess this is one of those “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” situations…

… or maybe I should be focusing more on my own dancing instead of my classmates.

A Barre!

Phase 1 of my home studio!

Over the weekend, Boyfriend and I built me a ballet barre! Well, it was more like Boyfriend built it, but it was my idea, and I helped.  I did such useful things as find the instructions online and hold on to the freshly-cemented pieces while they were fitted in with the other freshly-cemented pieces. Oh, and I tested it out!

For the longest time now I’d been wanting a ballet barre to practice with.  I’ll just say right now that practicing with a barre is so much more fun than using a countertop or the wall (which is what I’d been using for the past 2.5 years)!  Like, every single time I pass by it I can’t resist doing a whole bunch of plies and releves, or port de bras. I’m as excited as a kid with a new toy!

At home we took some rough measurements (I wanted the low barre to be at a good height for me to get my leg on to stretch, and the high barre to be a comfortable height for placing my hand without my shoulder riding up), and then headed to the hardware store.  We’d already decided that we were going to make the whole thing out of PVC pipes, to keep it lightweight, portable and – most importantly – affordable. So, we get down to the hardware store, and I’m so excited, probably the most excited I’ve ever been at a hardward store.  Though I’m sure the day we go get my mirrors I’ll be real excited too.  The hardware store has nice floors to practice turns on, by the way, and I couldn’t resist doing a bunch of pique turns and soutenus. Fun!

The barre-making supplies... and my nosy little cat

The barre-making supplies… and my nosy little cat

We added up the measurements, and decided we needed to get 2 10ft long 1 1/4 pvc pipes. It just added up to 20 ft perfectly. We needed to get it cut though, so we asked the guy working there if he could cut it for us, since the store had already confirmed that they do offer the service of cutting. He gave us such a hard time! He asked us “What are you trying to make?” (Boyfriend hates it when they ask that, lol), and Boyfriend’s like “It’s called a ‘barre’.” and the guy looked lost, so he showed him a picture.  The guy’s then asks “What are you going to hang from that?” and Boyfriend’s answers “Legs!”. I couldn’t help butting in and saying “No! If you’re hanging off the barre you’re doing it wrong! Go back and try something easier and build more strength first!” LOL. Anyway, Boyfriend just told the guy he was going to mark off the different sections at the various measured lengths, and then the guy could cut it. So without any further delays we bought or cut lengths of PVC pipe, the elbow and t-shape connectors and a small bottle of cement glue. Total came out to the very reasonable price of $30 and change – a fraction of what some pre-made barres online are going for.

At this point I think we hadn't glued it together yet...

At this point I think we hadn’t glued it together yet…

Putting it together for a test fit went smoothly.  Then we put it together with the cement glue. The fumes were so strong, even with two fans going at the same time. The instructions had said to do this in a well-ventilated area and he was not kidding!  I think if we hadn’t had the windows open and the fans running we would have started hallucinating little ballet dancing hippos or something…

Anyway, I couldn’t wait to try out the barre the second it was assembled, but Boyfriend suggested that I wait until the glue had time to dry. It was one of those delayed gratification things…

The finished product... and my horribly inadequate mirror until we get the home studio all set up

The finished product… and my horribly inadequate mirror until we get the home studio all set up

But that was then! Been using it intermittently throughout the days since.  I’ve only had one full-length practice session with it (I don’t like to go all out on the same days I have class), but as I mentioned earlier, I’ve done countless plies, releves, stretches and port de bras. So far it’s been working out great! Boyfriend mentioned wanting to add some non-slip thingies to the bottom of the feet to keep it in place, but so far it’s definitely not the flimsiest barre I’ve ever had the pleasure of using.

Some pics! Don’t mind my crappy turnout and unpointed feet…

The bottom barre did come out a good leg-up-on-the-bare-stretching height

The bottom barre did come out a good leg-up-on-the-bare-stretching height… though apparently I forgot to point my foot


And the high barre for a good releve stretch!

And the high barre for a good releve stretch!

For instructions, I searched “build your own ballet barre” and we mostly went off what I found at a blog called Leotards And The Buns In Them. If you’d like to make your own barre, you can find that here:

I don’t recall him giving the exact measurements though. We used 4 1ft pieces for the legs (where we attached the feet), held together by a T connector. The T connectors are attached to a 2ft 9in section (on opposite sides of the barre), then to another T connector for the lower barre to come out of.  Between the low barre and the high barre we used a 6 in piece, which when added up to the extar length for the connectors gives about 8 in between top barre and high barre.  For the length of the barre we went with almost 5 ft, which seemed a good length to get to stretch on, while keeping the barre prtable. Like I mentioned earlier, it added up to 20 ft of PVC (2 10 ft pipes), and we used 6 elbow connectors and 4 T connectors.

If you’re feeling fancy and PVC alone just isn’t cutting it for you, I also found some instructions that include wood as well as PVC. It looks nice, but just too much effort (and probably cash, lol) 🙂

Note To Self…

… Don’t go out partying the night before ballet class! Last night we went dancing, and this morning I was just so tired and sore, specially my  legs and feet (despite having worn low, relatively comfortable shoes shoes.) Not painful though, just sore and overall feeling lazy. Really didn’t want to get up, even snoozed my alarm. But I had planned on going to class, and I did want to go to class (just didn’t want to get up, lol), so I hurried last minute to get myself together. I’m so glad I did, because it turned out to be an extremely fun class!

We had a different teacher at Adults Only studio, so it was a little different from last week’s class. Most of barre was facing the barre, but that didn’t mean there wasn’t plenty to think about. We did super slow foot articulation tendus and regular tendus, degages en croix, and super slow and regular speed rond de jambes (during which I was focusing on making them smooth and fluid, not pausing when getting to the front, side, or back). Still, a lot of thinking involved! Specially during frappes, which went something like frappe devant slow x2, 2 fast frappes and 2 piques, repeat to side and back and then petite battements. Once I got the hang of it it was fine, but I did screw up a little on the first side. It was just an unfamiliar pattern. I will say though, that it was nice doing frappes without worrying about beated frappes!

We started out center with a tendu combination: tendu devant x2, chasse devant, tendu a la seconde x2, chasse a la seconde, tendu derrierre x2, chasse derriere,  ronde de jambe en dehors, passe balance, then other side, then reversing. So start with tendu derriere x2, chasse derriere, etc. and the ronde de jambe was en dedans. I loved this combination! First off, it wasn’t at a tempo that I had to scramble to keep up with. Secondly ( a la seconde-ly?), I dodn’t have much experience with chasses to the back and I did it much better than expected. I learned how to do chasses (without losing my balance completely) less than a year ago (I remember writing about it on here!), and even then it was just to the front, so I’m really happy with the progress there. I did get a correction from Different Teacher to not lift up my heel during the chasses, so then I worked on that.

We then saute-ed, and the tempo was slow enough for me to at least have time to think about pointing those feet! But I was off on the tempo…

We went across the floor with 4 balancés, the four waltz steps, repeat if there is room. The first time across we did the waltz steps without turning, the second time with turns.  I loved this combination as well, though I do tend to take too long on my balances, which makes me a little behind on the tempo. But I did have a lot of fun. It was also so lovely to watch my classmates! As a whole they just moved so gracefully across the floor. Though it was basic beginner class, this week there were some students there than definitely have some ballet experience. I certainly wouldn’t mind taking class with this group of people again.

Next was jumps across the floor. It was step forward and saute while kicking up our left leg forward, take three little steps and saute on the left leg while kicking up the right leg, then half turn and saute arabesque with the right leg up, and three little steps (backwards!), and saute arabesque on the other leg. Confusing, right? But also so fun! What helped me to not be completely lost – and at first I was, specially how the working leg switches when we go backwards – was what F Teacher had told us repeatedly during our summer session: the downstage leg (toward our audience/mirror) goes first! So that helped me kick up the right leg in the right order – even when we went to the left. While I love doing saute arabesque, it is a bit harder doing them when you’re walking backwards. I don’t think this day’s class level was that “basic” of a beginner level, but it was just awesome!

We finished up with a quick reverance. I was so hyper and excited after this class that I was getting on Boyfriend’s nerves, just kind of excitedly buzzing around like a little kid. Oh, and I have some more exciting sort-of-ballet-related news and happenings from this weekend, but I’ll save that for it’s own post. Coming up!