Taking Requests?!

… and other instances of “culture clash” (ballet class vs. modern)

Something that shocked me just a bit happened during my latest modern dance class. We had finished our very extensive group warm up (which was really fun actually. It was a cold day, so Modern Teacher had us walk around the studio – literally in a circular pattern around the studio – then pick a shape and walk in the pattern of the shape (I picked a parallelogram, lol). Then we went faster into a sort of prance-walk, first around, then in shapes, then backward(!). Then we did all of our ab work and pushups and all that good stuff, followed by the barre-less ballet steps), and were getting ready to do our center combination. As we lined up to do the combination, and the accompanist retook his seat behind his drums, one girl raised her hand. I’m assuming she was going to ask about the steps or something. But instead she asks “Hey, can we listen to the piano music instead when we do this? It’d be really nice.”

My jaw dropped. In all of the dance classes I’ve taken, I could never imagine requesting a particular piece of music or style of music. I figure that’s completely up to the teacher and accompanist, and to make a request would be seen as disrespectful. When I think of some of the stricter classes I’ve taken, it just makes me want to shake my head at her boldness – and I admit, for a supershy person like me there is the slightest bit of admiration in there as well. Modern Teacher was very cool about the whole thing though. She said something like “A request, huh? It’s up to him,” (the accompanist), and he obliged. But this really showed me the difference in culture between different dance styles.

I mean, I don’t know… I’m new to modern dance, so maybe this is something that happens regularly or is not frowned upon, but it’s just so different from how I’ve seen ballet classes run.

Then there’s the issue of hair.

When I first started modern class, I decided that I didn’t want to wear my hair in a bun for that class – I didn’t want to look like a bad wannabe “bunhead”. I mean, in this class I wear my leotard underneath my leggings (plus a T-shirt. I don’t think I can rock the leotard-under-tights-and-nothing-else look.) Besides, I’ve watched enough Dance Academy to know that you don’t dress for ballet class when doing other types of dance (or did that only apply for hip hop? Can’t remember…).

So I just threw the hair in a ponytail, and got on with it. And it worked out fine for the first couple of weeks, but now that we’re doing more complex, and longer, combinations, my hair is getting on my nerves! I’m wondering, how can people dance with all their hair going everywhere? I can feel it getting stuck to my neck, and in my face, blocking my eyes, obscuring my vision – so annoying. I actually fixed it quickly during class, pulling the ponytail through the elastic halfway so it at least wouldn’t keep getting caught on my neck.  Now that we’ve started turning – and spotting – I’m finding the hair to be evn more problematic. SInce I’m not particularly good at spotting, I need all the help I can get, and tidy, secured hair helps me.

From now on, I think it’s a bun for me. Hey, it’s functional!

(Not that I think there’s anything wrong with being a bunhead. I feel like I’m a total bunhead on the inside, especially when I know all the terminology better than most people in the class and obsess over ballet class nonstop. But due to my body – and age, compared to my classmates – I feel like I don’t look like a bunhead, so I thought I should tone it down. Save the wannabe bunhead-ness for ballet class, perhaps.)

10 thoughts on “Taking Requests?!

  1. Trippmadam

    My hair tends to get in my way all the time and everywhere. So, a bun is the best solution for me, even at work. I am long past worrying if I am making a fool of myself. I tried a ponytail, too, but it does not work well for me. My hair is quite long, but not very thick, so it looks better in a bun (vs. thin ponytail).

    1. kit Post author

      It’s funny – I wear my hair in a bun outside of a dance class context all the time too, but for whatever reason I was feeling weird about it for modern. My hair is just the right length for the ponytail to whack me in the face if I bend over, or get stuck in my neck or armpit if I bend to the side, so it was driving me nuts!

  2. Basia

    Be a bunhead! What the hell!
    I haven’t been to a modern class…but sure get you with hair going everywhere and all. You’re a true bunhead regardless of what you look like 😀

    1. kit Post author

      Yep, I’ll be a bunhead, lol!
      Even in ballet class (with a not-so-strict teacher) I’ve seen wild flying hair. Other teacher have told us horror stories of hair getting caught on things, so I’m thinking ‘It’s a safety hazard!’

    1. kit Post author

      French braids are so pretty! I think I will try that on days when I’m feeling up to spending longer on my hair. Or even that pretty French braid bun I’ve seen around.

  3. A Writer

    Maybe try a messy bun? The oh-I-just-threw-my-hair-up-(and-there-are-forty-pins-keeping-it-from-falling) look? Still out of the way but less “bunhead.” I’m sure you could find something on Pintrest or YouTube.

    1. kit Post author

      That’s a good idea! I realized this morning that a messy bun was the way to go. It’s somewhat different from my neatly pinned up ballet bun, thus less “bunhead”ish.

  4. asher

    Funny, you’re so dead-on about the cultural thing, here: I really can’t imagine anyone making that kind of request in a ballet class.

    Also, second for the “messy bun” idea, simply because I think they always look fabulous on everybody.

    I hear you about hair, though: I wish I could remember what people with longer hair in modern class in high school did. For medium-length hair, the “contain it in an Alice band” thing was popular, but I’m totally drawing a blank about anything longer except for our teacher. She did the relaxed, low-slung bun for a while, then came back with super-short hair.

    I panic whenever my hair reaches that length at which it suddenly gets in my eyes during turns (which, of course, I never notice until it’s too late), and then immediately go get it cut.

    In related news, I have been much better about getting my hair cut on the regular since I started dancing again.

    1. kit Post author

      I know, right?! I can see how ballet appears to be too “formal” for some people, but I think I like ballet class ettiquete precisely because it’s so different from other – much more informal – dance-related contexts.
      Yea, unfortunately my hair is too long to just do a head band. Well, I shouldn’t say “unfortunately” since I’ve had an obsession with long hair since forever. The messy bun idea has been working nicely, though. And since it’s a messy bun, I don’t get irritated when my bun goes lopsided after having to get down on the floor for all those sit-ups and related warm up work.
      I can relate to having ballet class serve as a motivation/reminded to do something else though. Ever since I started taking more classes I’ve really been on it to make sure laundry gets done on time. Can’t risk having no clean leotard or tights for class!


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