Basic Beginner Class: So Simple, Yet So Challenging!

As my session of almost daily ballet classes is over, this weekend I found myself taking Basic Beginner class at Adults Only studio.  It was something I was looking forward to (taking a basic beginner class, not my session of classes being over), so I forced myself to get up at a way too early hour considering it’s the weekend.  It was pretty fun though, so I’ll probably do it again.

The class was more basic-beginner level than I remember, though in the time since I last attended months ago they switched to a different teacher. We did a lot of stuff facing the barre, and we started off with some warm up exercises and in sixth position (parallel). New Teacher gave combinations that were pretty complex, yet not hard if you figure out the patterns.  When I came out I told Boyfriend, “This class was so easy but so hard!” and that about sums up how I felt about it.

For example, we did tendus with no arms. The combination was tendu devant to demi point, full point, demi point, close in first, twice. Then tendu devant 4 times, tendu a la seconde four times. Then tendu devant 3 times, a la seconde once, then tendu devant twice, a la seconde twice, then tendu devant once, a la seconde three times.  That is a lot of tendus! The part that was throwing me off when we were marking the combination was that I kept waiting for the tendu derriere to come (we didn’t do any in this class), but once I realized we weren’t doing that it was a nice exercise.

Of course, we later on did the same thing, but for grand battement.  And honestly, that was a little difficult.  I mean, that is a lot of grand battements without resting.  My first sets of them were nice and high, but by the end of the sequences I’d noticed that my battements just weren’t getting up there as much as the previous ones.  N Teacher gave a general correction to not sink in the upper body while doing the grand battements and I worked on applying it, but I was feeling so tired. It looks like I have identified something that needs work!

We didn’t use arms for any of the combinations, which I really missed.  I like doing the little preparation arm thing before each exercise, and I felt like I wasn’t supposed to do it.  This is something that happens to me often in basic beginner class, actually – I feel like I’m not supposed to do the more advanced things that I’m used to doing because no one else is. Stuff like finishing the exercise with arms in low fifth, head turned away from the barre, or following the hand with the head.  For example, we were doing some combinations with one hand on the barre, the other on our hip, and everyone  else was starting with their hands already on the barre and hip, but I wanted to do a preparation from low fifth.  Later on, N Teacher reminded the students to do a preparation as soon as the music starts but before we start moving our leg, so I felt a little better.

Some stuff I really liked was how we did about a million releves and eleves, I’m assuming for strengthening. I was actually really feeling it in the calves by the end of that combination. I also really liked how we took this super long balance in releve first position, which I’ve mentioned before that for the longest time I had trouble balancing in. Once on releve, we brought our arms up to high fifth, looked to the right, then left, then brought the arms out to second then back up to high fifth.  I was so proud of myself that I didn’t lose my balance, though I did feel the slightest bit of a wobble when we looked around.

Center was low-key and fun.  We did tendus a la second with temps lie, then tendus devant (with no temps lie). All with no arms, and just facing en face, but I still enjoyed it.  We then did chaines. I was a litle worried that we were all going to do them super slow and with our hands on the shoulders, but N Teacher said we could go at our own pace.  So I went at a moderate speed, working on my spotting. I didn’t finish in chasse to arabesque because honestly I didn’t want to seem like I was showing off. Only 2 of us out of the whole group were wearing leotards, so I wasn’t looking to stand out more than I already was!

For sautes, N Teacher had us do four slow sautes (plie, saute, land in plie, straighten up, repeat), before doing 8 at regular speed.  The super slow sautes were more tiring than I had expected, even though we didn’t do changements or anything more complex. See, this is what I mean by the class being both easy and hard at the same time.

We also did the waltz across the floor, without turning, and it was so nice and do able.  I would have liked to work on the arms, but it was just hands on the hips again. But working on the basics is one of the pluses of taking a basic beginner class, so I took advantage of it!

I had a great time overall – and taking a basic beginner class really helps put it in perspective that I have improved so much since I started. Glad I forced my lazy butt to get up!

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