Oh wow, I had a lot of ballet in my life this past week! Between classes at my regular school and at New Studio, I was in class for twelve hours. It’s been pretty amazing, especially one day when I took class for four hours – including what was possibly the most challenging class I’ve ever taken (details below).
While I’ve been having loads of fun, it’s definitely been a huge reality check. The classes at my regular school are picking up in difficulty as we’re midway through our session, and the classes at NS have been with dancers who are far more advanced than me. Lots of combinations that I feel like I’m lucky to gt through it rather than focusing on making it beautiful. I mean, there’s been some of those too, but it’s been mixed in there with the times I struggle to keep up. It’s been a balance, I guess… I suck and then I don’t suck… and then I suck again. It’s pretty funny to me in a twisted way actually.
That said, combinations I remember plus comments (I did a terrible job of taking notes on combinations this week, because I managed to hurt one of my fingers on my writing hand pretty bad (not during ballet), so I’ve been taking it easy with jotting down notes or typing. Strangely enough, it didn’t hurt to place my hand on the barre.):
In Beginner class, we did a longer than usual (for that class/level) center combination: (failli, assemble)x2, tombe, pas de bourre, pirouette en dehors, tombe, pas de bourre, glissade pas de chat, tombe, pas de bourre, glissade, grad jete. I manager to remember the combination, and even figured it out to the left side, but it was definitely an increase in challenge from the combinations we’ve been doing in that class. For the more beginner students there was a slightly easier version, something like switching out the first part with just tombe, pas de bourre, glissade, assemble.
Also in Beginner class, we did 2 waltz step, 2 balances, soutenu, what looked like a temps lie back, chasse into chaines. Another combination that was on the more complex side for this class, although quite fun for me. There was a version for the more beginner students as well, just waltz step without turning and a pique sous-sus instead of the soutenu. I went with both groups, to get the max of my ballet class time.
At NS we did this combination that was (2 balances, tombe, pas de bourre)x3, contretemps, tombe, pas de bourre, glissade, grand jete. It wasn’t particularly difficult, but after all those tombe, pas de bourres that we’ve been doing I kept forgetting about the balances and wanting to go straight into the tombe, pas de bourre part which was so incorrect.
In Beginner class, we did a somewhat slowed down petit allegro. It was eight of these petit jestes in place, where the foot doesn’t brush out but just goes back i coupe, then four petit jetes with the brush of the foot, with an optional temps leve for each on of the brush out ones. It was good practice to have a petit allegro that I could actually keep up with.
At NS, the “easier version” of petit allegro was 4 changements, sous-sus, pick up front foot and passe releve, pirouette en dehors, repeat. It was actually manageable for me, the tempo was not too fast. The more advanced students did a crazy fast combination that included some kind of frappes as your supporting leg fondues coninually, and this jump in which you do little rond de jambes in the air, kind of like an eggbeater. Either way, stuff I can’t do yet.
I also noticed this week that my echappe releves in center feel much more stable that ever. I used to wobble pretty comsistently when out in the echappe on releve position, but now I seem to be holding my core much better. Same does for my pique arabesque.
Now as to my most challenging class ever, I think it was a solidly Intermediate level class, not watered-down Intermediate level. Barre combinations were long, woth port de bras, and the second time through on releve. We did frappes on releve, grand battements on releve, circular cambre/port de bras on releve, and more. there was this one barre combination where we developpe up to releve, tendu down, bring the leg back up and around to the next position (from devant to a la seconde, etc), tendu down, developpe up to releve, etc, then reverse the whole thing. Our degages were so fast that there was literally no time to think about technique.
Center was rough. The tendu combination went ok: 2 tendus devant, temps lie, two tendus derriere, temps lie all in croise, then two tendus a la seconde en face, then pique arabesque, sous-sus, pas de cheval, sous-sus, other side. Then we did chaines across the floor and that went ok as well, After that though, it all kind of fell apart.
The next combination was pique arabesque, glissade, grand jete, pique arabesque, (chasse, tour jete)x2, tombe, pas de bourre, saut de chat. To the right was ok, but my tour jetes on the second side are absolutely dreadful, so that sucked. And honestly, I didn’t quite catch the combination when it was given, so I had to carefully watch the first two groups so I had an idea what to do.
Petit allegro was something like 4 changements, 4 sissones (front and back), petit jetes, and entrechat, repeat. Besides the fact that I can’t do entrechats – still – the tempo was impossibly fast for me. I flailed around a bit…
I don’t have any other combinations from that class written as they went over my head. Given the difficulty I still had a great time. It was a master class taught by a new-to-me teacher. And he was amazing! When I first entered the studio, I was quite intimidated, like ‘what a commanding prescence!’. Although pretty much everyone else in the room was much more advanced (I’m talking some pre-pros and ex-pros), I appreciate that he did devote time to correct everyone and I definitely wasn’t ignored. I’m also honored that my usual teacher thought I was ok at ballet enough to keep up in this class (not everyone in the adults class was invitedto the master class.)
Here’s some random corrections I remember:
The arms come down last when landing a jump, so the audience gets fooled that you’re still in the air. I really like that one!
In ballet, if in doubt where to look, look at your hand.
While at the barre, to prevent gripping, preferably no thumb when hand is on the barre, barre arm relaxed. He also told me to make my a la seconde arm just a little rounder, and my hand a tiny bit softer with less tension.
Don’t let your back start going in arabesque until your leg forces it to.
Since I’ve been taking mostly beginner classes for the last month or so, it was an adjustment at first. But I did surprise myself with what I was able to do. I’ve never done that much barre on releve, one combination after another. I attempted all the combinations, even the ones that were incredibly fast and I knew that what I was doing looked nothing like how ballet is supposed to look. I proved to my body that yes, I can dance for that many hours without needed to be carried home. Most importantly, I had a blast.
And isn’t that the most important part?!