Monthly Archives: November 2015

Back To Regularly Scheduled Life

 

 

It feels like forever since I wrote on this blog, though it’s only been a little over a week…I miss it so much though, so even though I don’t have anything good to share I’ll write anyway. Just a heads up though – this post is kind of a mess. Since I wrote the last post, I’ve been kind of a mess…

I haven’t taken a ballet class since the last one I wrote about. It’s been a crazy week.  My body has apparently decided to revolt against me…

In my last post, I mentioned how we were working on sissones in class. When landing one of them, I landed a little weird (meaning not quite pain, but I felt something), which translated to a soreness in my hip. For whatever reason, my thighs had been unusually sore for a few days even before class as well, so it wasn’t very apparent at first.  I thought ‘no big deal’, iced my hip and thigh, and went to sleep. Wrote the last post…

Last weekend (right after writing the post) I was helping my parents move. During the moving process, my dad collapsed (he’s a diabetic and he doesn’t manage his blood sugar all that well) and while helping to pick him up  before the ambulance arrived I pulled my back slightly. So by the start of the week I was already sore both in my upper and lower body. To make it worse, by Tuesday I was also experiencing some unexplained pain in my knee (same side as the hip).

By Wednesday I was so upset by all of the above mentioned things that I didn’t even want to get up. I blew off school completely (which is so unlike responsible dependable me, but anyone who knows me personally would start figuring out that things were not well in Kit-land). When I finally did get up, it felt like my knee and lower leg were where the majority of the soreness was concentrated, and my hip felt a little better. Or perhaps it was that it was just better in comparison to the throbbing knee. I spent the rest of the day curled up on the couch, crying intermittently.

Thursday I woke up stiff, sore and freezing cold. While the only goal I was committing to was to make it to the couch, a phone call with my dad cheered me up slightly, and I motivated – at the time it felt more like forced -myself to go spend the day with my family. The first few steps out of my apartment and into the cold sucked majorly – every step felt like it was pounding right to my knee. Getting into my car also sucked –  honestly, by this point the idea of me being able to dance anytime in the near future seemed more and more unlikely.

(And did I mention I’m supposed to have a performance coming up?!)

The weirdest thing is that as soon as I got to my parent’s and headed down the hallway towards their apartment, my leg felt so much better. This lifted my spirits and I remained cheerful and mostly pain-free for the duration of my visit. At this point I started to wonder (among other crazier thoughts, which I won’t get into here…), was my pain all in my head? After all, I haven’t fallen, or even gone jogging or practiced jumping in the days immediately before the pain started. It just made no sense.

When I returned home  that night, the pain returned, although not as intense. I think this is around the time we figured out that the cold seems to have a huge effect on my knee pain  – as long as I stay warm it doesn’t hurt. Now armed with this knowledge, I spent the rest of the long weekend bundled up underneath like 5 or 6 layers of clothing or taking boiling hot showers. I guess it’s good to know that moving up north to a higher latitude – and the accompanying colder weather – would be a terrible idea for me; my body would probably just fall apart!

So now it’s been about 12 days since the hip issue started, and about a week since the knee pain began. They good news is that my knee is doing better everyday (my hip is not doing worse necessarily, but it just faded to the background when my knee pain started to flare up). My back has recovered completely as well (or at least it’s not doing that pinching feeling when I bend over, which is good enough).

While I still have yet to return to ballet class, I have been to a rehearsal and Modern class once (today). I was really apprehensive about participating in Modern, but I told M Teacher about my pain and how any jumping or hard landings are out of the question. I actually had a really great time in class – it felt so awesome to just move! But I’ve been so anxious about returning to ballet class. I’m paranoid that the reason Modern didn’t aggravate my body (the hip, specifially) is because we didn’t really work in turnout (or at least not an extreme ballet-style turnout), much less fully crossed 5th position.

Here’s the thing: while I realize that according to some (all? most? those in the know?) people it’s not really ballet unless you’re working in 5th (as opposed to 3rd) I really don’t want to quit ballet, I just love dancing so much. But, being rational for a moment here, I don’t want to completely wreck my body by forcing my tight adult ligaments to stretch in ways they don’t – or can’t . At the age I began ballet (with no childhood stretching experience whatsoever), I feel it’s unlikely that I will achieve the kind of turnout needed to actually cross my fifth without it looking like fourth.

So I don’t really know my options here (once the pain is gone, of course). Stick with Basic beginner class where we mostly just work in first? Try to learn ballet only on my own at home again? I really, really, really don’t want to quit – the idea of that breaks my heart.

And I really hate feeling like I had no business even trying to do ballet, like it’s not meant for me, because I’m just so weak and fragile.

Last night, a friend of mine came to visit. We were close several years ago (or at least as close as I let people to me), but at around the time I started ballet we started to drift apart and she moved out of state.  I never told her that I do ballet. As we talked, I realized – yet again – how big a part of my life ballet has become. I still didn’t tell her, so it was apparent to me more in the gaps and pauses, all the things left unsaid. The main reason I didn’t say anything is because I’m worried she will tease me and I’ll feel dumb for dedicating so much time and energy towards ballet.  I mean, it’s like in the almost three years since we stopped hanging  together almost every single day (and wasting our time and energy, lol) our lives took very different paths: she’s been all over the place, traveling the world, and I’ve been here trying to make myself a ballerina. It’s not that I wish I had her life – I don’t even particularly like the idea of traveling – but I know that her interests have become more along the lines of “the norm” while mine are not understandable to many people.  It irritates me that I feel this way, but I have no idea how to just not care.

Issues, I have them…

Anyway, I hope to have more happy dance-y things to share soon.

Thanks for reading 🙂

A Somewhat Encouraging Week

This past week was encouraging as far as ballet went. I’m enjoying it, especially because I’ll be losing a few classes next week, so I worry when we return the week after some of my progress will have slipped away.

Barre was complicated in Intermediate class, mostly the alternating legs confusion. Some days are better than others, and I just continue to go over it slowly at the home barre when I get time. We did this nice barre stretch involving having our leg up at the barre while facing it and then reaching our other arm out behind us to grab the barre. Wasn’t really a leg stretch, but more for the torso, but it felt good.

This week we worked plenty on jumps, especially sissones. I found out there are two kinds – those that finish in an open position and those that finish closed. Before I had only known about the closed ones, and I find those much easier (though my reflection of me doing them mid air reminds me of a starfish, and I don’t know if that’s the aesthetic we’re going for…) . The open ones appear to finish on one leg, and we had the othe leg behind in attitude. What was really getting me was that the leg that was behing was the one that we ended up being on, even though we were traveling forward. The first day we worked on that it was making no sense to me, but by the second time I took Intermediate class I was able to do it. Not up to tempo during the combination, of course, but at all. That’s good enough for me for now  – I never would have believed that I could land 1-legged jumps and hold a balance.

At New Studio, we worked on sissones that traveled forward and back. The one traveling back was scary, but I’m proud that I at least tried it, not just tried to get away with marking it. Once done, it turned out to be way less scary than I had thought, and the second time across the floor I thinkI actually travelled a decent amount.

Something I like about New Studio is that the mirrors run lenghtwise instead of across the front, so although it kind of sucks for barre (I like a front view, though I understand that sometimes a side view is helpful as well – good to check if that pelvis is tilted forward), it’s awesome for going across the floor. We did a (saute arabesque, saute passe) x4, tombe pas de bourre, pirouette en dehors combination, and I actually thought my jumps looked halfway decent. It felt good, at least up to the pirouette part…

Along with the sissoes, we’ve been working on echappes to fouth, and assembles that travel forward. I find the assembles that travel forward (en avant, if I remember correctly) much easier than a la seconde. It’s much less scary, and I definitely feel like my feet “assemble” in mid air, while in the other ones I just feel clumsy and like I’m kicking my legs around.

My pirouettes were hit or miss this week (again). One day, though, my pirouettes were unexpectedly good. Like, I wasn’t really trying, and just went for a pirouette and got around all the way, finished with the correct foot in front, all of that. I think this would comfirm that I’m usually making the mistake of using too much force, because this time I was hardly giving any compared to how I’m used to doing it. I guess there’s nothing to do about it but continue practicing, and not be too impatient. I’ve been praciicing them at home, kind of going about it a different way. Usually, I make sure to try to have a good retire position, and my foot is pointed and it’s in front (not behind, where it feels much easier to me) of my knee, and then where I mess up is that I don’t get around. So I’ve been practicing just going up into a pirouette and working on spotting and getting around, just so I can get used to it.

This week there were some new students at New Studio, and I was in the position of having someone follow me, both at barre (both sides) and across the floor. I have to admit that I like it, especially for barre – knowing that someone is watching, possibly closely, makes me pull up just a little better. If the across the floor combination is something I can somewhat do, it also helps me to try harder to make it pretty. If it’s a difficult combination though, and the other person is newer and there’s no one else for them to follow, that kind of sucks. And it definitely happens – sometimes I’m intimidated by the more advanced students, so I group up with other beginner-ish students like me. Then the strongest dancer of the group gets followed. I remember one time a teacher yelled at us for doing this. I should be really thankful that Teacher is so nice that she never shouts at us, just suggests ‘maybe so-and-so should go with so-and-so’ and stuff like that.

But the biggest surprise was in Modern class, when these girls said ‘I want to go behind her so I can follow her’ – about me! In that class I actually feel confident enough to go in the front group (and I’d discovered weeks ago that it was the best way of avoiding being seeing bouncing by the other dancers as they’re always behind you and there’s no mirror there), and it’s a nice change of pace.  We’ve been doing a lot of across the floor stuff in which my ballet training has come in handy, like chasses, leaps like grand jetes, and these little prancy kicks that are sort of like emboites. Since M Teacher doesn’t specify, sometimes I do them in turnout to practice. My across the floor jumping and leaping have improved so much ever since I started Modern, and I’m more familiar with traveling more distance in my dancing. I could really like Modern, but if only there wasn’t painful floor work! Sometimes I think I’m too old for that…

I’m not going to say I wish I’d discovered dancing 8-10 years earlier than when I did. I don’t like to torture myself like that. Besides, this girl I know from school told me she wears knee pads to Modern class so she doesn’t have to fear getting on the floor. So there’s options. And I can’t decide if that’s humor or if I’m serious…

11/22: Editted for typos. I wrote this while half asleep and I think a bunch of them escaped me the first time.

A Question Of Formality

 

By this point, I’ve had a handful of ballet teachers, ranging from somewhat old school to casual, and I would definitely say that I’ve learned something from every single one.  However, sometimes there are things that differ from teacher to teacher – and I don’t just mean the style of ballet – and sometimes things get a little confusing for me. (This is the me who is terrible at interpreting social cues, remember that!)

From my more old school teachers especially, I’ve learned a lot about ballet class etiquette.  But I guess where the confusion sets in is when I’m taking class with a more laid back teacher. I know common sense etiquette, like don’t talk while the teacher is talking, not letting your cell phone go off, or don’t show up twenty minutes late and disrupt the whole class while you get settled in, would apply anyway. Don’t those things kind of apply to classes that are not ballet – or even dance – after all?

One of my teachers told the class that it is expected that after class every student should personally thank the teacher (and accompanist, if applicable). Ok, I took that as a hint, and whenever I take class with that teacher I would always make sure to do so.  But with my more casual teachers, I don’t.

You may be wondering ‘what’s the problem, then?’. Well, as it often is, the problem is other people (LOL). I’ve been noticing that some – not all – of the other studets will run up at the end of class after reverance to personally thank the casual teacher – with a little curtsey and everything. Since I’ve been taking class with her for a while (long before these other students came to that class), and she never told us that she expected this (or even that this is something common), I’m not in the habit of doing it. However, I’m feeling like maybe I should (at the very least, to show that I have manners)? At the same time, it’s a little awkward because that’s not really the dynamic in that class. At least, I didn’t think that was the dynamic in that class…

I guess what I’m asking is, should I emulate the other students even though that isn’t the way things were done in that teacher’s class the other sessions I’ve had with her? Can the dynamic of a teacher’s class sometimes change and you didn’t even realize it?

Or, as things often are, am I overthinking it?

On a completely different note, apparently the reason WordPress was glitching for me was because they changed the user interface again –  and I absolutely HATE it! Why must they keep trying to fix something that’s not broken?!

More Of The Same …

Honestly, reading over last week’s progress-report post, I feel like nothing new or particularly exciting or different happened in my classes this week. So this may seem a bit repetitive. Sometimes repetititve is good. Besides it’s realistic; we can’t make huge leaps of progress every single week (though that would be nice!).

The cold weather continutes to bother me when it comes to dancing. I don’t want to be one of those people who complains non-stop about the weather, as I see it as pointless to complain endlessly about something that is out of one’s control. So, I won’t complain, but I’ll just mention that the cold makes dancing more difficult for me. As far as my legs go, I’m doing pretty ok with wearing leggings over my tights and legwarmers for barre, then losing the leggings for center. But the problem is my feet – how to keep them warm? It’s my feet that are concerning me mostly, because even though I try to pull my legwarmers so that they’re covering the tops of my feet, I still find them getting cold. And when my right foot is cold, it starts to hurt (from my car accident years back). I’ve thought about wearing socks over my tights, but don’t want to  stretch out my slippers. So that’s what I’m dealing with right now…

This week was another difficult week in Intermediate class. I’m not too worried because I know as the end of the term approaches, class does tend to increase in difficulty. Barre has been throwing me off. Were were doing our tendus and degages in this pattern that was alternating outside leg, inside leg, and during class I was just not getting the  hang of it at all. I think the part where I completely lose it is when instead of just alternating outside and inside going devant and derierre, the outside leg goes to a la second and switches to the back (or the front, depending if you’re reversing the combination). Now, in class I had no idea that was the issue, as I was just lost by that point. It took me going over it slowly – very slowly – at my home barre one day when my class was cancelled and I gave myself a class at home. Teacher said that it is a common pattern that comes up, so it’s good to learn it and recognize, so I’ll be working on that.

A correction that keeps coming up for me is that I need to cross over my fifth position more. To the back when I close it’s fine, Teacher says, but to the front it doesn’t close as much as it should. The problem is my bad turnout (especially my left leg, which turns out much less than my right), which leaves little room for the other foot  to slide in front of. When we’re going at a slower tempo it’s much easier, as I found out during Basic Beginner class, and I’m able to close in a good tight fifth position from tendus devant, but when I’m closing from a la seconde it’s less likely that my front foot will get all the way closed. Like I metioned, this happens specially on my left supporting leg.

My imbalances in flexibility and mobility from my right to the left side have been somewhat discouraging to me lately. It’s not a tiny imbalance, but enough for my teachers to notice. NS Teacher also mentioned something recently about my left side hip being so tight. I stretch out both sides all the time, but I do wonder if there is a limit as far as my body will go, but the odd part is the discrepancy from one side to the other.  I’ve also taken what feels to me like the next step: I’ve been aware ever since I started Pilates a little under a year ago that one side of my body is tighter, from my abs to my hip flexors and hamstrings, and that this may be posture related. Not so much when I’m standing, but when  I plop on the couch to write on my laptop or watch videos on youtube, I’d noticed that I rarely sit up, but sort of lean or slouch to one side for long periods of time. This then causes muscular imbalances in my body and makes me lopsided. So all this week I’ve been forcing myself to sit upright, hoping that it will eventually become a habit. I’m also hoping this will balance out my left and right sides, and this will show in my dancing.

At center we worked on attitude turns some more. This week we worked on them both with attitude front and attitude derriere, both en dehors. I found that it’s much easier for me to do them with attitude front, and attitude derriere feels somewhat scary and off-balance. We also did the balancés en tournant, which still feel really clumsy and awkward. Since it’s a turning step, I haven’t been able to get a good look in the mirror of what I’m doing (and, do I really want to?!) but going from feeling alone, they feel totally wrong. The waltz step while turning is getting better though, at least at a slower tempo (like Basic Beginner class speed).

I did a couple of pirouettes en dehors from fourth to the left that were almost decent (meaning I got all the way around, and closed the right foot i the right place), and a few en dedans that were all right. These were all in the middle of a combination, because whenever we just practice them I tend to psyche myself out and mess up, either using too much or not enough momentum (well, it’s probably not that it’s not enought – our floor is pretty slick – but I’m doing something wrong. It may be related to spotting. But the point is I don’t get around most of the time.) Spotting is difficult for me during pirouettes still, but for chaines and other traveling turns it seems easier. Not always though…

Petit allegro during Intermediate class definitely didn’t get any easier, thought thankfully there were no ballottes. Instead there was an echappe from fifth to fourth, while turning the body from en face to croisse, then some beated jumps. I always get lost at the part where the echappe to fourth happens, so from that point on I just try to catch up but I’m behind. The echappe to fourth is just so incredibly difficult for me at this point. I think the foot that was in the back is the one thhat come to the front, so I just can’t figure out how to do that without tripping on myself. I tried practicing it at home, and even there it felt horribly clumsy. Right now that my foot is acting up from the cold I want to take it easier on the jumping, so mostly I’m just practicing really slow sautes with correct form to keep up my leg strength.

In other news, I found out that during January there’s going to be a ballet session at my school of almost daily class – and it’s going to be Beginner level! While I have been taking Basic Beginner class almost every week, it’s been months since I’ve taken a session of Beginner class though my school and I miss it. I’ve been taking only Intermediate for the last few months (with the exception of the Basic class I mentioned), and I feel like I would benefit from the slower tempos of a beginner class in order to work on the details. And if it’s everyday, it’ll really help to cement it into my muscle memory. I can still go to Adult Ballet class at New Studio as well, so I’ll have a full ballet schedule. Yay!

Why “ballet and/or bust”?

This is kind of a random ramble…

A recent comment sort of reminded me of something that I’d been thinking about recently. I’d been thinking about the name and focus of this blog. In fact, I’ve been sort of pondering changing it, but not getting around to it, and then changing my mind, and back and forth. Reason is, sometimes I wonder if it’s still relevant to my story. I guess I should back track a little…

Back when I first started ballet-blogging (june 2014), I was in a different place than now – both literally and metaphorically. I’d been ballet-ing for a little over a year at that point, and was super discouraged. Besides the fact that I wasn’t very good at ballet, I also felt… how should I put this… ummm… externally discouraged.  I hadn’t had a very good class experience with the last session of ballet I’d taken, and felt like I was it was hopeless. I hadn’t really met a ballet teacher that was accomodating to my slowness at learning (if anything, the opposite), and I was really beginning to feel like doing ballet may not be for me (as in, I felt like others were disapproving of my choice to do ballet). But at the same time, I was doing it, so then that means it could be for me, right?

If I’d been blogging just a few months prior, it would have just been a blog full of rants (and I know – I have journal entries in my private journal that chronicle my experiences while taking that session). I was having a really hard time keeping up in class at times (especially considering how long I’d been doing ballet for), and, since I’d seen how much stronger my legs had gotten in that year or so, I blamed my lack of progress on my chest. It did seem as though that was the issue – after all, when someone falls off balance, teachers would assume that they would fall backwards, whereas I would always fall forward. I struggled with balancing for quite a long time actually, and didn’t get a reliable two-legged releve balance until around the time I’d been doing ballet for two years. In the end, the culprit turned out to be my previously weak back and core. So, although perhaps the heaviness of my boobs was the immediate cause, it was completely fixable with time, practice, and lots of conditioning cross-training work.

My point is, as a commenter reminded me, the stronger you get, the less your body’s shape gets in the way of progress. I’ve experience it firsthand, so I know it’s true. I mean, yes, sometimes progress will come slower than for someone who has less weight being carried around in certain places (and I remember how pissed I was back in first ballet session when a guy had referred to breasts as “weight”, lol. I totally get – in a dancing context – what he meant, though at the time it was perceived as rudeness by my new-to-ballet ears), and walking around  while carrying a heavy purse is enough to remind anyone of this fact (or to experience it for yourself, if you happen to not be one of us who is carrying around extra padding in certain areas). In fact, it was my discomfort at carrying my purse while standing in the same place for long periods of time that reminded me that I was going to ramble about this subject. Simply put, the closer the body’s weight is distributed to the body’s midline, the easier it will be for that person to balance. Some of us have to work harder. (I should mention at some point: since I didn’t watch much ballet before I started doing ballet, I had absolutely no idea about what body types can usually be found in ballet, or why, or anything like that.)

But, it’s not impossible. It certainly doesn’t get in the way of me doing ballet. And, even though it may not seem so obvious to some, this is a huge deal for me. I’ve never really discussed this on the blog, because it’s personal-ish and embarassing, but for years and years I hid my body in enormous baggy sweaters, ashamed of my body. If someone had told me that I would be comfortable one day prancing around in public in a skin-tight garment and nothing else with my chest I would have said they were out of their mind. I was way too embarassed of drawing attention to myself, or hearing innapropriate or mean comments, or getting stared at. I effectively put my life on hold for years while I hid and watched everyone else live their life. (Of course, other factors that I won’t get into played their part as well, but the body issues were deifinitely a big part.)

I am so grateful that due to ballet I’ve become so much more comfortable with my body. This ease in movement, this lack of self-conciousness, has been amazing.  Not that it’s always perfect, or that I have a completely healthy relationship with my body – I don’t – but the simple freedom of feeling like I can leave the house without a heavy coat in summertime is something I never had expected to experience.

So, is the fact that I am top-heavy relevant when it comes to my ballet adventures? Yes and no.  While the physical aspects – holding balances without toppling over and such – have improved so much, there are things that happen here and there that remind me that yes, it certainly is still relevant. Thigs like going to the dance store and having people just unabashedly stare at me, and my chest, as I do my shopping. It’s not even the kids, but their moms, which is really irritating – like, great way to teach your kids by example how to behave. Or not being able to easily find dancewear that fits without feeling like it’ll rip off any second. Or when the more immature dance students in my classes make comments, or if I take class with people I’ve never taken class before, and before we start I feel their eyes on me, like they’re sizing me up. I realize I don’t look like the typical ballet student, but at least once we start our barre work I can prove that I am just as serious as the next dance student.

Anyway, ramble over (for now) 🙂

Thought This Was Really Cool

I was doing some youtube surfing, came across these videos, and thought they were really inspirational. I love seeing ballet danced by actual adult beginners. The way the teacher/choreographer simplified the choreography for their level really shows me that it totally can be done (which is where the whole ‘inspirational’ part comes in, I guess?). I wonder, is this a rehearsal or a class? Even if it was just for a class and it wouldn’t involve any performing, I think it’d be so fun to learn choreography and do whole dances.  Unfortunately, the only classes I know of that teach any choreography for ballet without the required performance are only at a more advanced level…

I’d love to see more pieces being danced by actual beginners who are adults in the future!

No, I’m not in any of these clips. I’m hoping it is not considered inappropriate to post videos of amateurs that are not yourself on your blog (I figured, if it’s on youtube, it’s fair game). If it is, please let me know!

Taking Class In The Cold, Lots Of Turns, Ballottes, And Performance Anxiety

It was an odd week, ballet wise. While I had been eagerly waiting for the time to change (so I could have my extra hour of sleep), the temperature drop hit me by surprise. I didn’t go to as many classes as usual this week, and although the cold seems like an invalid reason to miss class, I just felt more like staying in with a blanket than changing into a leotard and tights. Of course, I began to feel guilty about it as soon as it’s class time, but I tried to convince myself that a little extra rest once in a while is good for my muscles to have time to repair and rebuild (thus leading to better future ballet-ing.

On the days that I did make it in to class, my choice of attire was definitely bulkier than usual. For one class I wore my leggings over my leotard and tights for all of barre, another day for all of center as well.  For modern, I wear two pairs of pants to start off with, then take off 1 layer when I feel warmed up. If I was taking the Beginner class at that school where there is a dress code (leotard and tights only, no leg warmers unless injured), I do’t know what I’d do. Luckily, Intermediate class, and Modern, and rehearsals don’t really care about following the dress code. I usually am one of the few that are in “uniform”, but when it’s cold I gotta choose between looking like regulation ballet student or staying warm and not stiff. But it felt nice to get really warm, even though I usually do work up a sweat during Intermediate class. But then by now I’ve turned into one of those people that will even sweat during Beginner class, not because it’s necessarily difficult but because I’m focusing on the details so hard.

One of my ballet classes turned into a private lesson, which was a brand new experience. I’ve taken class before when there was only several of us, so I know that it’s hard to hide when there’s less students. But when you’re completely all alone, it’s so much more than that. Since there was no one to follow, it was completely my responsibility not only to make sure I knew the combination, but that I knew how to follow the music. In a way it really drove home the concept of not being a great dancer even though there was no one to compare to. It was pretty cool though, and a great way to get plenty of corrections. My main ones are that I need to keep my chin up when balancing, and work on my turnout, and I need to close my fifth position more – the last two are related, because it’s my crappy turnout that keeps me from being able to close it better without feeling like my feet are so far away from each other that it’s turning into a lopsided fourth.

At barre for Intermediate, we did more combinations involving changing the working leg to the inside leg. We did a lot of combinations like this during my summer ballet session, but not so much in this class, so my body had kind of forgotten. By the end I was getting it, so I think the memory’s still in there. Crazy how quickly my body forgets some things (even though it still knows, just needs to be remided) – ever since I’ve been doing ballet I’ve realized that my body is defiitely lazy and will take the easiest way out unless reminded otherwise. This is another reason why I love ballet, because it forces me to work harder than I normally would if I didn’t have someone constantly critiquing my posture.

We worked on attitude turns. We did them from fourth position with the working leg in front. It was my first time trying them, so I didn’t get all the way around and I’m pretty sure I had the wrong arm up (well, there’s a strong possibility I had the wrong arm up, since I have no idea which am it was supposed to be), but they were so fun and pretty. I’m sure how it feels to do something and how it looks to someone watching are two completely different things!

One turning combination I really enjoyed included plenty of en dedans pirouettes. I was something like tendu devant, fourth position lunge, en dedans pirouette, tendu devant (other side), en dedans pirouette, repeat both sides, pas de bourre, en dehors pirouette from fifth. I really don’t like en dehors pirouettes from fifth. The en dedans pirouettes were fun, and I even got the correct foot in the front at the end of a few of them. Teacher said I still need to work on not losing my turnout during the pirouettes though.

We’ve been working on ballotte, and I think my problem is simply that I’m not strong enough yet. Teacher mentioned that they’re like those jumps in which you bring up both legs, kind of like to make a diamond in the air. Well, I’m not able to do those yet, so if I’m not strong enough to do those yet then it logically follows that I’m not strong enough to do ballotte (correctly) yet. So in our petit allegro combination, during the part with the ballottes I just kind of jump around awkwardly while kicking my legs up. It’s pretty bad, LOL. Perhaps I’m not that upset about it because I don’t think it’s a particularly beautiful looking step, so I’m don’t mind that I can’t do it well. Regardless, I am now practicing those diamond-in-the-air jumps at home. So far not so good…

I think something finally clicked regarding the glissade to the front (the kind that goes before a leap). Since it’s supposed to be a kind of brushing motion, I asked Teacher it it’s kind of like a grand jete, but you know, a lot less grand. This way of thinking about it seems to have made it easier for me to do it, for whatever reason. So when we did our across the floor saute arabesque, saute passe, tombe, pas de bourre, glissade, grand jete combination it went much better. In Modern we’ve been working a lot more on leaps across the floor and chasses, prances, and all kinds of little jumps. Definitely been helping me with feeling like I can get off the floor in ballet. At the same time, it feels so different without wearing ballet shoes! Never thought such a thin piece of leather can make my foot feel so protected.

There’s something else that’s been on my mind, but I’m hesitant to bring it up, because I don’t want it to come out like I’m complaining or whining, or in any way ungrateful (and believe me, I’m not – as an adult beginning dance student with so little experience, and the “wrong” body type, I am so extremely grateful for having been given this opportunity).

It has to do with the upcoming recital. I’m feeling increasingly uncomfortable about the idea of inviting anyone to watch (meaning anyone who would be coming out somewhat on my behalf, not because they have to be there already). This is primarily because the whole program is about 2 hours, and I’m only in one of the numbers, and even then I only get to dance a little bit and I’m mostly in the back row.  When people at school have asked me about it, I make sure to remind them of this, but they’ve kind of blown it off, like ‘Oh, but it’s still fun to be in it, right?’, and the issue is not whether I’m having fun (which I am; it IS ballet, and one of my favorite pieces, so duh, of course it’s fun), but me feeling silly claiming that I’m in something when I get practically no visible stage time. People at one of the other places I take classes at have asked me as well, and I’ve said the same thing about having a small role only (and gotten a similar answer back about ‘but isn’t it fun for you?’)

I guess what I’m saying is that I don’t what it to turn into one of those things where the parent goes to their child’s sports game and the child is on the bench most of the time. While I never had the oppotunity to do ballet as a young girl, I did get enrolled in other activities for short periods here and there and I remember my mom specifically asking me about ‘Why don’t you get to play more?’ or ‘why doesn’t the teacher move you up to the next level?’ (the answer is because I’m unathletic and suck at sports, but mom wouldn’t hear of it). I really don’t want to be asked ‘That’s it? I thought you were going to be dancing more!’ because I’ll feel so bad that they drove that far and had to sit there for a long time with the hopes of their daughter being a star or something. (and yes, honestly, it’ll probably hurt my feelings too 😦 )

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