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.

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