Something Old, Something New

I mean, something classical and something modern  🙂

The semester has started, so I’m back to twice-weekly ballet classes at community college (Intermediate), as well as classes at New Studio.  However, as if I didn’t have enough dance-related stuff on my plate (can you ever have enough dance-related stuff? Rhetorical question…) with all those ballet classes, I decided to try out something new – modern dance!

The first day of intermediate ballet class went pretty well actually. I felt much less in over my head compared to when I took that level last semester.  A big part of it – at least I think – is that this time I’m not overhyping it up in my mind.  I went in there feeling much less unprepared this time (and less like I don’t belong there), and as a result I felt more prepared. I don’t know, it’s weird…

It had been almost 3 months since I’d taken class with Teacher, and I had missed it.  I mean, my other teachers (especially F Teacher over the summer session) have been pretty awesome in their own ways, and I’ve learned so much from them too, but Teacher’s been the teacher that I’ve taken class with the longest. As such, she has a better idea of what i can do, what I can’t do (yet), and what I need lots of work in. Let the corrections begin!

Unlike last semester, I felt like I was keeping up in barre. I know it’ll get progressively harder throughout the semester, but if you’re struggling from day one (as I was last semester), it’s probably not a good sign. Still, it’s been feeling challenging, but not at that level where I feel overwhelmed and can’t even mind my technique.  Teacher complimented me on my grand plies (regarding the alignment issue – before I used to stick out my pelvis), so apparently I have improved on that. She also mentioned that I seemed more flexible.  There were mistakes, here and there, but in general I felt like I was remembering combinations at barre better than I used to a few months ago. It’s been allowing me to focus more on technique and actually doing it instead of just trying to figue out what’s next (or following someone and being late). I also felt much more coordinated than I did last semester, and my port de bras and even head movements felt less stiff. There’s this one girl that has the most awesome port de bras, and sometimes I feel like I’m learning just by watching her. Ok, I admit I try to copy her, i watch how she moves her arms or head and try to imitate it. That sound kind of weird, I guess, but I’m used to applying everyone’s corrections and this seems like the next logical step.

Center went well, and by well I mean I managed to do everything, though not necessarily well, and at best mediocre (That sounds kind of bad, but I’m actually pretty happy that that’s the worst I could say about it) . We did tendues a la seconde alternating feet with the head motion – head turning towards the side that will have the leg in front – and then pas de cheval, pique sous-sus, passe releve, close down in fourth and pirouette en dehors.  It was not consistent, but I got around on about half of my pirouettes. Of course, then I kept messing up by wanting to finish the way we do at NS class instead of just in fifth position.

We did a 4 saute, echappe to second and 4 sautes in second, then 3 echappes and pas de bourre, repeat combination as well, asnd I managed to point my feet and not trip over my own feet, though by the end I was panting.  so i felt strong but a little out of shape. The second time I took this class though I was already feeling stronger in my jumps.  All that jumping practice I’ve been doing at home has really paid off. During the basic 16 sautes in first, I noticed I was actually in correct timing, which was great because I usually go off into my own tempo around 9 or so. I’ve also been seein improvement in my pas de chatt, specifically the second leg’s foot pointing.

We also did pique turns across the floor, and Teacher was watching me like a hawk.  I got corrected when we went to the right on not going down into plie enough in between each turn, to the left on losing my turnout.  The tempo was also on the fast side, and I hadn’t done pique turns across such a large studio in over a month. Ok, no more excuses…

Then we waltzed, and except for my arms being all over the place (except 3rd arabesque, going through the middle, then first arabesque, as they were supposed to be…) I felt like I was getting the hang of it. I was right – the reason I would get confused before was because I would begin the turn too soon.  So today I focused on not doing that, though it’s my first instinct. For whatever reason my brain thinks that if I begin to turn sooner will make the overall speed of it faster. Clearly that wasn’t working.

Now, as for modern class… first off, I’d never taken a modern dance class before – ever.  So I had no idea what to expect.  When getting dressed I had to fight the urge to put my hair in a bun and wear my pink tights (I did end up wearing a leotard though, under some black leggings and a T-shirt).  The biggest shocker, I think, was the whole barefoot thing.  I felt so naked! My feet are usually covered when I’m in public, even if it’s by something thin like tights, so it felt quite odd having my feet exposed.  I’m hoping I will get used to it.

Class itself was fun, different from ballet, but at the same time I can see how my ballet training has made me stronger. Unlike ballet, we did not start off at the barre. We worked both in parallel (6th position), and turnout. At some point Modern Dance Teacher told us to go to second position from first and I tried to tendu to second out of reflex. With my bare feet it did not exactly work out – more scraping than sliding. How do people that do ballet class barefoot with no socks or tights manage to tendu I wonder? We also did a lot of stretching, sort of like ballet stretches but without the beautiful port de bras or the ballet hands. For across the floor we walked, first at a steady tempo, then aternating between a normal speed walk for 4 counts, a super slow walk for 4 counts, and a really fast walk. Once it appeared we had that down MD Teacher has us changing directions for the different tempos. I know it sounds like it was so easy compared to ballet, but coordinating the arms and legs took some work. However, I noticed that I was picking up the combination somewhat quickly, which I’m totally giving credit to ballet for.

Overall, modern dance class was fun. I’m not sure yet if I’ll continue with modern after this semester, but I wanted to give it a try – you won’t know until you try, right?  I’ve read that ballet dancers train in other styles as well, so I’m hoping it’ll help me become a more well-rounded dancer.

I’ll try to write down some combinations (from ballet and maybe even from modern) once we settle into some sort of routine and I can actually remember them longer than it takes to just do them.

Also, I am so incredibly sore right now. I just wanna lay here on my foam roller now while simultanousely rolling out my calves with a tennis ball.

6 thoughts on “Something Old, Something New

    1. kit Post author

      Lol, really?! Well, Boyfriend and I HAVE been discussing that lately, but after 13 years of “being together”ness it seems almost redundant …
      Yeah, I’d never even known modern existed until after I started ballet and went to my school’s semester end shows (which are heavily modern, with maybe a couple pieces from other genres). But I’ve noticed that the kids from modern tend to pick up ballet technique – especially center work – much quicker than non-dancers, so I figured it would help me with the whole body-awareness-in-space thing. Plus, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try 🙂

  1. nadiainherownworld

    I think dancing barefoot is just one of those things that starts to make more sense after you do it for a while–your feet build up enough callouses so they don’t stick as much during tendus and turns, and you figure out how much pressure to put into the floor. I used to hate being barefoot when I started doing modern, but now I love the grounded feeling of it (unless it’s an extra-sticky floor!)

    1. kit Post author

      Oh good, I’m glad to hear it gets better with experience! Our studio’s floor isn’t particularly sticky – if anything, it’s slippery in certain spots with ballet shoes on – but my bare feet (in their current uncalloused state) make up for it with my skin’s natural sticky “gummyness”.


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