It was a good ballet class week, although I’ve been incredibly sore. I did four ballet classes total, 2 beginning and 2 intermediate (six hours total), plus lots of rehearsing, and 3 hours of beginning Modern. Perhaps because we’re nearing the end of our sessions, both Beginner and Intermediate – and Modern, too, actually – have been picking up in difficulty. I always love these last few weeks, and wish they could last longer.
In Intermediate, we’ve been doing our tendus derriere at the barre slightly different sometimes, with our arm out to second and us looking out the side sort of under the arm, instead of the usual an arabesque arm. I like it, it’s a completely different dynamic, and a new way to work on epaulement. Also in Intermediate, we’ve been doing our tombe, pas de bourree in combinations with a different port de bras – just when I was starting to feel that I was proficient in the original port de bras. The new one has us bringing the arm opposite of the direction we’re traveling up into high fifth (I think it’s similar to the efface line in tendus), instead of the arm in the direction we’re going coming up though middle and out and then the next arm through middle and out.
In barre, also in Intermediate, we did the circular cambre (grand port de bras?) up on sous-sus, which I’d never done before. Surprisingly, it was no more difficult -perhaps even less – than the cambre forward on releve which we’ve been doing for a while. I’ve also been letting go of the barre more and more for our one-legged releve balances. Something that really helped me was when Teacher noticed that I would slightly lean towards the barre (or towards my supporting leg) when trying to hold the balance, and she told me to really pull up and push against the floor, keeping my ribs and shoulders in line with the lower body. The first time she told me I was thinking ‘what?!how?!’ but I think I made sense of it now.
Another thing Teacher worked with me on was my ridiculous excuse for a grand plie. As I may have mentioned before, I have a very shallow grand plie, in pretty much any position. She said that it’s not a tendon tightness issue, because my demi plies are actually quite deep and if it was tendon related that wouldn’t be. So she had me grand plie facing the barre so I could see myself from the side on the mirror, and I start going down until the point I’m used to and she urges me to go deeper. The front of my thighs start burning and I struggle to keep my torso up perfectly upright, but I can’t hold it for more than a couple seconds at most – probably less. She asks if it hurts and I say no, it’s not pain, it just feels weak, like I won’t be able to get back up. She mentions that I started to stick out my pelvis, and if I were to tuck my pelvis into neutral I would be able to access my rotator muscles better. Which I know, as she has already shown me this before, when we were working on developes a la second and she’d had me tuck in my pelvis at which point she’d lifted my leg up higher than before. It’s a little frustrating – I realize that in ballet (and in Pilates too, she’s always getting on me for the same correction there as well) I need to keep my pelvis neutral for a functional reason, but in my every day life I have a tendency to stick it out. This makes the changes harder to stick in muscle memory, but (and I realize this will sound super superficial…) when outside of class I plan on continuing to stick in out, I just feel it makes my body look much better; when I tuck it in my butt looks terrible and my lower stomach pooches out more than ever. So looks like I got myself a dilemmna…
(Still, I feel like I need to say “please don’t judge” lol)
(Also, a few months ago I read an article online entitled “Long Legs Suck For Squatting” and it explained how people with shorter legs are able to squat deeper without having to bring their torso forward, while those who are long-legged have difficulty. It was about regular gym squats, not plies, so perhaps it’s irrelevant but it made me feel better – it’s not my fault, it’s the leg length! Also, and I feel this part gets really underestimated, my chest is heavy! Even sitting up straight is more difficult for me, I’m always amazed that I can plie with a straight back at all.)
Our center combinations in Intermediate were really fast, and on the left side I felt lost. One combination was (saute arbesque, faille, glissade, assemble)x2, (glissade, jete)x2, pas de chat x4, pas de bourre, other side. I would start out ok on the saute arabesque, then get lost and pick it up somewhere around the pas de chats. We did the mazurka-balancé-pirouette combination from last week as well, and I was still feeling lost. Teacher divided us up, so intead of going with the other beginners I had to go with the more advanced students, which highlighted even more how lost I was. It wasn’t that the individual steps were too difficult, just the speed which leaves no room for thinking about what I’m doing next. I’m not discouraged, that’s what’s important.
Beginner class was lots of fun though. We continued with the slightly more complex barre combinations, switching working leg and using port de bras, balancing on releve for a long time. I love this part! (as I’ve already mentioned)
Center was even more fun. We did a temps lie combination: temps lie devant from croisse and then derriere (while switching the port de bras), face front and temps lie a la seconde and close, tendu derriere, chasse devant, passe releve, other side. What was even more fun is that we went from one side to the other more than once without stopping. Felt a little bad for the true beginners though, as they looked quite lost.
Across the floor we did 2 waltz turns, 2 balancés, tombe, pas de bourre, chasse to fourth, releve in fourth, then either pirouette en dehors from fourth or passe (or passe releve, all depending on level) balance. Not only did I manage to do some pirouettes, I did them to my weaker side (the one I usually don’t get around on), so I was really excited. The way it happened was just casual, like ‘ok, I’m going to do a pirouette, no one’s watching’ and I did it. Then I did it again! So of course I attempted them when we actually did the combination and it went well.
I’m sure more happened during this ballet week, but I’ve been so incredibly busy rehearsing for the upcoming show and all that (not to mention regular school work and house chores) that I haven’t been taking good notes…