Last Week’s Ballet Fun

Although one of the places I take class at has already gone into break as of last week, the two other studios I frequent had regular class schedule this past week. So I made it out to four ballet classes (as well as a local Nutcracker performance – another ballet-ful week!). On days with no class I did barre and a very basic center (tendus, degages, passe releves, pirouettes en dehors from fourth) and some slow sautes in first, second, and changements. That’ll be my routine for the days until regular class schedules resume. Maybe some days I’ll do a video off youtube.

The classes I took were Adult Ballet (Open Level) at New Studio, and Basic Beginner and Intermediate at Adults Only studio. All very fun in their own way,and with their own challenges

Here are some highlights:

We did the tendus en croix in croisse, releve, pivot, other side center combination from last week again, as well as a similar one (on a different day) that went something like tendu devant (or was it a fondu, the kind where your working leg’s foot slides alond the floor as your supporting leg plies? I forgot…), rond de jambe to second, close back,tendu derriere, lift leg off and promenade, and end up with the other leg in front to do other side (there may have been a pas de bourre in there? This is what I get for not jotting down some notes immediately after class…) What was memorable about this combo was that my promenades actually didn’t suck (for me). I was surprised, as my promenades weren’t particularly good before my break, and I know I lost some strength. Perhaps it was the pressure of knowing that the more beginner new student was following me and I had to at the very minimum get all the way around without losing my balance that did it? Or maybe it was knowing that there was no pressure of getting my leg up any higher than I can manage for my current skill level? Either way, not my sloppiest day.

Really fun combination- (3 pas de chat, assemble)x3 first traveling right, then left, then right again, sissone devant, sissone derriere, sissone left, sissone right, 3 pique turns, chaines, ballet run away. The tempo was fast, and I mean fast. So instead of focusing on making it look pretty there was a lot of just trying to keep up. A shame, because I was really loving the music and would have loved to make this combination presentable.

We did attitude devant turns, en dehors, first from fourth then from fifth. While my attitude turns still have a ways to go, I’d previously only tried them from fourth. From fifth they were exponentially harder for me. All kinds of turns are harder for me from fifth! It doesn’t help that I got into turns from fifth with a negative attitude…

Get it, attitude?

In Basic Beginner class, we worked on pas de basque. I’ve done pas de basque before in Intermediate class since last spring, but I was going about it in a copy-what-the-person-in-front-of-you-is-doing-and-try-not-to-fall kind of way. In BB class, our teacher (B Teacher?)  broke it down for us step by step, with the port de bras included (and, I might add, that doing it with the port de bras does make it much easier, just like she told us). We practiced it all as a group, then went across the floor. This repetion of a single step is exactly what works for my body, so it went fine, although I am not familiar enough with this new cleaned up version of the step – I guess with any version of the step… -to make it look decidedly graceful. Then I remembered how much more unstable on my feet I had felt back when I first attempted the step back last spring, and I felt really good about my current level.

At the same studio I’d also asked B Teacher about the Intermediate ballet class she teaches, and she told me that she thought I would do fine in it. So I tried it out for the first time. Adults Only studio is a little out of our budget, but since there are no classes at this studio for the next couple of weeks I felt I could justify the expense. I figured if I liked it (and I did – loved it!) I could look into getting a multiple class pass instead of just paying per class as I’ve been doing. That way I’d be only spending a couple extra dollars per week but I’d get to take both classes.

The class was fun, and definitely at a more challenging level. I’d been curious what “Intermediate” meant at this studio, since it caters strictly to recreational adults. Would it be on “easy mode” with no expectation of triple pirouettes, 120+ degree extensions, and entrechats like those frequently found in my other school’s Intermediate class? Yet still offer a higher level of challenge than Beginner class, perhaps using epaulement and working in croisse instead of en face in center, using port de bras for all of barre. The technique and complexity without the intimidation, I guess. Actual adults that are over a decade past their teens, perhaps even some adult beginners. For me personally, the opportunity to work other than in first withoutgetting chewed out over my crappy turnout…

The barre combinations were really long and somewhat complex, so I got to work on my memory as well as the strength of my supporting leg. Here is a combination I remember: 2 tendus devant, tendu en croix, 2 tendu derriere, tendu en croix, 4 tendus a la second, coupe, 2 tendus a la seconde, tendu en croix, reverse the whole thing, all with port de bras. When B Teacher first gave out the combination I was feeling so overwhelmed, but then my body started to somehow “get it”, and it felt like I was doing it right out of reflex or something. It was a nice feeling, but so strange, like my body reacted before I had time to even process what to tell it to do. I’d definitely take this class again just to experience that alone…

We also had a very long rond de jambe and fondu combination that involved rond de jambes en l’air, rond de jambes with fondu/while fondu-ing, lunges into the barre, and lots of cambres. It was really lovely, and continued the theme of giving my supporting leg a work out.

In center, we worked on pique sous-sus, plie, passe releve, repeat other leg. The tempo was a bit fast, but I wasn’t feeling completely lost. Then B Teacher gave us our across the floor combination, and once again I felt overwhelmed. It was 2 pas de basque, soutenu, tombe, pas de bourre, pirouette en dehors, pivot to change facing, pirouette en dedans, soutenu in place, soutenu traveling, pique turn, pique arabesque. Once we went over it a couple times I committed it to memory, but I was still a little apprehensive because of the pirouette and tempo. The first few times through, I forgot the soutenu immediately after the pirouette, but by the time we got to the second side I was remembering. Not that it made it look pretty when I did it or anything. I wish I could make a combination like this look good, but I guess it’s one of those things that will take more time and practice. Some of the parts I feel are better than others, my personal favorites being the pirouette en dedans, tombe pas de bourre preparation for the pirouette en dedans (though the pirouette en dehors itself sucked).

Also, I realized that I have difficulty with soutenus in place – not the half-soutenu like at the barre to switch sides, but the kind that makes a full revolution without traveling. I don’t quite seem to understand where the feet go. The traveling kind where you sort of pique into it, soutenu, plie, then step out again, repeat one makes sense to me, but starting from a fifth position plie I have no idea how to go about it. Non-traveling soutenus are not something I’m used to doing, so it could just be that I need more familiarity with it than actually understanding the mechanics of it.

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