Lesson Learned?

This past week I didn’t take too many classes, because of a combination of the long weekend, family events, and rehearsals, so by the time I got to class I felt a little rusty in my technique. As luck would have it, the first class I took in four days (and only second in about a week, because rehearsals) was Intermediate, so I came out feeling   somewhat discouraged. Lesson is, if I haven’t taken my regular amount of class in a couple weeks, perhaps Intermediate is not the way to go, especially if it’s the end of the session (with a higher difficulty level).

Barre went ok, sort of. I remembered the leg changes of working leg from outside leg to inside leg and the slow port de bras during quick rond de jambes. While I wasn’t able to replicate that super long balance in retire on releve from last week, I did hang up there  for a little while, several seconds.

Center, in short, sucked. I wasn’t feeling paticularly confident, and Teacher was overwhelming me with the new combinations and too many corrections. She usually does the same combinations for the week, but since I’d missed the last class before I felt lost.

The first combination was (as well as I remember so I might be missing something) balancé x2, pique arabesque, promenade, passe, developpe devant in efface line, tombe, pas de bourre, pirouette en dedans, sous sus. I was all over the place, struggling with the promenade about half the time, not sure how to prepare for the pirouette. Of course this was all complicated by the fact that I can’t remember the combination until like the fourth run through…

During pique turns across the floor, Teacher corrected me on my arm going too far behind me, but when I tried to do it without having my arm there I felt like I wasn’t getting around enough. Ugh, I hate it when I realize that  something I thought I was getting better at I was doing wrong all along. Especially when I think that the reason I was doing it wrong was to compensate for weaknesses in by body, and I’m not strong enough yet to be doing that particular step at all…The way Teacher words the correction, “Stay up longer so you can get all the way around” cracks me up because it’s like ‘I’m trying to stay up!’.

We did these turns while doing little temps leves and the other foot in coupe devant, I think. It was hard for me, really hard. Not the turning part, but the one-footed jumps. Teacher kept calling out corrections to me by name, but I couldn’t really understand what she wanted for me except to jump higher perhaps (because it’s hard for me to separate jumping while pointing my feet to jumping higher and harder). I was apprehensive about it because, as I mentioned in my last post, if I fear that I’m not strong enough to land a jump safely I don’t jump it as hard as I can. It was stressing me out though, because I feel like sometimes when things are way beyond my current level I should just … I don’t know, work on a preparatory version at the barre for a month or five until my body has a general idea of what’s going on. I told Teacher, “I don’t think I’m strong enough to do this yet,” after about the twentieth attempt, which is probably a huge ballet faux pas, but it was the truth and, I felt, relevant to the situation.

We’re not even going to get into how much I sucked at petit allegro (can’t remember the combination exactly, but it was fast, and the second time through we were supposed to beat our jumps, which is something that I’m still afraid to try because I think at this speed I’ll get my feet tangled together or something). I was mostly just trying to keep up and go the correct direction in the traveling jumps to not crash into the others.

This is around the point that I wonder if I’m not ready for Intermediate, because I still feel as lost as I did when I first tried Intermediate class a year ago. Beginner class is so fun, but it doesn’t get challenging until the latter weeks of the session. I feel like I’m at the level of  between-the-end-of-session-in-Beginner-class, and the beginning-of-the-session-in-Intermediate. It’s a tough place to be; people that are more advanced than me danced for years and years as children, and other beginners I know (and take class with) have only been doing ballet for around a year. So I feel like I’m still in that no man’s land between beginner and intermediate that I was in a year ago. Yes, progress in ballet does come rather slow for me…

I know I’m not a ballet teacher (obviously), but I really do feel like it’s not particularly productive for me to be attempting things that I clearly can’t do and am nowhere close to be able to doing. Perhaps with children – “normal” (ugh, hate using that word) children, not a spacially uncoordinated child such as I was – it’s a different story and they do well by just being thrown in the deep end (which didn’t work for me as a child either, this being thrown off the deep end, because then I would cling on to the swimming instructor and pull them in with me…). But as an adult, I definitely don’t think so. If I think it’s not safe for me to do something, I’m going to be reluctant to do it (and especially so soon before the recital).

I hope all of this doesn’t sound bad, like I’m criticizing Teacher (because that’s not my intention – I think she’s been a great Teacher and I owe much of my progress to her and her patience with my detailed-and-at-times-dumb questions)), but I really think it’s hard  (or maybe even impossible) for her to undertand how my body works and responds, not only as an adult beginner but as a person who was inactive and  in terrible shape during my early years (when other people were building muscles and muscle memory). I realize that I’m not that much “older” in the grand scheme of things, like old enough for muscle loss to have significantly occured – if at all – but the fact that I wasn’t building muscle during my prime years does worry me, like I have a much lower maximum potential of total top strength (not to mention bone density, and that really concerns me, especially as far as the force of landing jumps is concerned…). Or perhaps I just have a much lower tolenrance from pain than this dancer high tolerance for pain I’ve heard about. I don’t like thinking these things because then I feel like I have no business dancing, like I’m not really a dancer,  like I’m trying to force the unnatural (well, any more than ballet already is forcing the unnatural). I realize that probably makes no sense, because I’ve tried talking about it and I seem unable to articulate what I mean. But I guess I just want there to be a record that I felt like this at this point…

I’m not trying to sound all down about any of this though – I’m not contemplating quitting ballet all the way, nothing like that. Just thinking that perhaps I should stick with Beginner class only for a bit again and work on the fundamentals. I know I had the same debate with myself at the end of the last session last December, and I ended up taking Intermediate anyway (because  Teacher had asked me, not because I’m a good dancer but because if not enough people sign up the class may get cancelled). And I just may take it again, I’m just frustrated at the moment. In Beginner class I feel like I can actually do some dancing, but at the same time the first 2/3 or so of the Beginner class session can be too slow paced. Wish we had an ‘Advanced Beginner’ class!

Next session at my regulal school starts in a couple weeks, so we’ll see how that teacher is. In the meantime, I’ll be taking class at New Studio and perhaps – hopefully – Adults Only Studio,


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