Hitting Another Dance Plateau?

My ballet classes this week have been more on the challenging side. That, or I’ve been having a really off last  few days. I’ve heard other people blame the long weekend for their dance problems, so although I’m not sure that’s why I’ve been sucking, it makes a good excuse.  Well, either way I haven’t been feeling much like a dancer lately; more like a dance impostor.  What makes matters worse is that since I’m taking so many dance and dance-related classes through school, other people have been asking me about them, sort of taking me seriously. Which then makes me feel like even more of an impostor, a fraud. Like if they were to actually be in class with me they would realize how terrible at dancing I actually am. How I’m not really a dancer, just a person – a “grown-up” (!) – who happens to take a lot of dance classes. Which then makes me feel really insecure when I’m trying to dance (except at home of course. In the comfort and privacy of home I love the feeling of dancing) …

Anyway, enough about my whining…

In my community college class, barre  started off with a pretty complicated tendu combination. Complicated in the sense of swtiching working leg to the inside foot and tempo changes. It’s not stuff that I hadn’t done before, just stuff I hadn’t done lately. I guess at New Studio there’s more of an emphasis on a beautiful port de bras than on speed, and besides frappes I can’t think of any combinatons we do at barre there with tempo changes or a fast tempo overall. Anyway, as I’ve mentioned before, when I speed it up my technique starts to get sloppy. So I had to work extra hard.

We did  8-8-4-4-2-2-1-1-1-1 not only away from the barre, but with port de bras. It was intimidating, but once we started doing it I felt like I was getting the hang of it. Immediately after that followed echappe releves, also without holding the barre, and those were hard. I’ve noticed I have trouble balacing in second position releve compared to other positions. It may be related to me not holding my turnout properly while on second. I want to ask Teacher about it, but at the same time I kind of don’t… I’m scared then she’ll go even harder on me, and I’m not interested in calling extra attention to myself as I fail to find a balance in second on releve.

There was also this lovely (assuming I’d been able to do it right) fondue combination, featuring double fondues, which were as hard as they sound. It was fondue, straigthen supporting leg only leg, keeping other foot in coupe, then fondue regular, repeat a la seconde and derriere. I was getting so confused, though right now it seems to make sense. And I was also getting confused in the port de bras,  especially arm out to second or high fifth in fondue devant. Then the whole thing on releve. By then at least I was getting the hang of the pattern. After the fondue we brushed the leg forward and back, en cloche I guess. But by then I was just so overwhelmed!

Center started off with adagio, port de bras, chasse, developpe devant, brush back to arabesque, promenade in arabesque (which i did horribly compared to the high arm and attitude position which is so much easier for me), tendu to fourth position, pirouette en dedans (my favorite!), close in fifth, and then I’m pretty sure I’m missing something, but that’s about it. Oh, and this deep lunge with a circular cambre/ port de bras. It was tough, holding my turnout in the deep lunge without falling over while trying to bend to the sides. But it was another one of those things that was so pretty when done well (not by me, of course).

Across the floor 4 pique turns, soutenu, chasse into chaines turns for 8 counts (so that means I can do about 3, maybe 2 and a half?), repeat.  The tempo was fast, though Teacher let us slower people go in a second group with slower music.  Event then I made a mess of it, I was not understanding the transition from a soutenu to a chasse, or chaisse to chaines. Oddly enough, I had fun twirling across the floor, but at the same time I felt so inadequate. Some of the other students are ridiculously good, and going across the floor in front of them felt so… I don’t know… awkward or something. Like, why am I wasting their class time, you know?

I noticed (as did Teacher, since she complimented me on it) improvement in my jumping, as far as pointing my feet, in first and second. I attribute it to the fact that I’ve been practicing jumping at home now that we no longer live on the second floor. However, my jumps In fifth (for changements), not so improved.  The 4 saute each in first and second, 3 echappes, pas de bourre, sous-sus balance, repeat other side, combination went ok the first time we did it, but then I started to overthink it. That made me start to mess up more.

We then did saute arabesque, pas de chat x 2, saute coupe, repeat, across the floor.  This combination also made me feel clumsy and slow. I just couldn’t get the timing right, like that little pause between the saute arabesque and the first pas de chat. It was still fun though, despite the whole feeling clumsy thing…

Class at New Studio was also a little rough. At barre I felt stiff until about three combinations in, my plies didn’t feel deep enough and my sense of timing was not coordinating with everyone else’s (and the music). I think around the time we got to grand battements I was finally starting to get focused or maybe frappes.  And my balance felt off (which may have had to do with the fact that I was wearing my new shoes. I’m still getting used to them, but they are so soft and comfortable. I do hope I get used to them soon), which didn’t help at all.

In center there was lots of pirouettes, including from 5th, which are still the hardest for me. I didn’t manage to do any correctly, but I did do some pique turns and soutenus, so I can’t blame my bad turning on my shoes just yet.

Across the floor we did sissone, assemble  x3, tombe pas de bourre, glissade, pas de chat forward. I don’t know the port de bras for this combination yet, which makes my attempt at it less pretty. My sissones have gotten better than a couple months ago during summer session, but  just as far as the legs go. My arms just go every which way, and it looks so ungraceful.

All the people that are more beginner than me or at around my level didn’t show up, so class may have been on the faster side. At least that’s what I’ll tell myself…

Modern dance class has been kind of… slow. Not that I’m complaining – I’m definitely not complaining – but we’ve mostly just stretched and done side bends while plieing and listening to live percussion music. And done these stomach contracting things where we’re supposed to imagine that we’ve been punched in the stomach. And lots of roll downs at various tempos, and stuff like that.  But I do enjoy the class, though it’s so different from ballet. It is nice to move my body without worrying about being pulled up and technical precision – though that makes me miss ballet, lol.  And we use ballet terminology there too, like “plie” and “port de bras”, etc. It must be that whole all dance comes from ballet thing…

So yeah, a rough first half of the week. Let’s see what the rest of the week holds for me dance-wise.

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6 thoughts on “Hitting Another Dance Plateau?

  1. Basia

    A week off can totally help. Doing something different can bring back the buzz. I’m having a week off ballet and gym at the moment. Lost momentum and hadn’t been feeling great, although I wasn’t sick.
    Last time I took a whole 2 weeks away due to circumstances unrelated and teacher said I was improving!!

    Reply
    1. kit Post author

      Yes, I’ve told myself that if it gets to the point that I’m miserable I will take some time off. And I have noticed that when I actually have taken off some time, I do feel stronger when I return.But I’m too obsessive to take off more than a few days, 2, maybe 3, at most unless I absolutely can’t. If I don’t feel up to it, I may cut back on the number of classes I’m taking. Just take some time to absorb all the stuff I’ve been learning.

      Reply
  2. meetatbarre

    Just wanted to say that from an outside perspective, it really seems that you have grown a lot ballet wise recently. Sometimes you don’t feel the progress, but if you look back, I’m sure it’s very evident (even just from this blog!).

    I find balancing in second the hardest as well. In this Royal Ballet company class on YouTube, the ballet mistress corrects a dancer by saying she was too wide to balance properly in her second. I know I like to go a little wider sometimes in my second, so I have to make sure I am back into a narrower position for the balance. Don’t know if that is applicable at all.

    Reply
    1. kit Post author

      That’s a good idea, to go into a narrower second to balance – thanks. I’ll be trying it out next time I either take class or practice.
      I agree that I’ve improved a bit lately. My summer session was a big part of it, and being able to take so may classes a week. I think that I just figured out the issue: since I’d been improving so much I thought I would keep on improving. Like I was actually able to forget just how much of a beginner I am. That sounds dumb though…

      Reply
  3. Sarah Doudna

    I love your blog. Good for you for pushing yourself. Balance may be tricky in releve 2nd because of core or ankle weakness. This is good–means you can fix it! And yes absolutely you are a real dancer!

    Reply

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