More Videos, More Classes, Still Not Remembering

This week I kept up the same routine of 3 classes at New Studio, supplementing with Kathryn Morgan youtube classes. This was my first week of summer vacation proper (last week was technically finals week, but I’d finished early), so I had more time to do even more video classes. I also found and did a few Pilates video classes, because unlike ballet which I just want to do every day – no excuses or motivation needed – I actually need that extra push to get off the couch and get my work out in. Don’t want to lose the strength I’ve gained, but even then I don’t feel so motivated, so I’m really glad to have discovered the world of youtube videos!

Classes at New Studio went well. I really like how NS Teacher gives plenty of hands on corrections, but at the same time there vibe feels laid back compared to my regular school. Even on the day when there was some way more advanced dancers there it still felt laid back. I also like how if there is a huge gap between the most advanced dancer there and the most beginner she’ll give us different levels of the same combination across the floor. This is a skill that I think it’d be nice if more teachers had, the ability to tailor the class to the different levels there (too many teachers seem to either cater to the most advanced or the most beginner, leaving us middle students either lost of unfulfilled).

Combinations I remember were across the floor temps leves (saute passe, saute arabesque)x3, chasse, tour jete, chasse, tour jete, pirouette en dehors, sous-sus, run off. Another one was start in B+, step out the back foot and then sous-sus and bourre towards the front foot, then turn while switching feet to repeat the whole thing. This was so fun because even though it was not a hard combination it felt so dance-y, especially when adding the port de bras and stuff. *Boyfriend just interrupted me to say “You were smiling while you were typing that”, LOL*

We did two saute combinations, one slow one fast. The slow one was a good tempo for me,  and really emphasized the plie portion. The fast one had entrechats in it, which I am horrible at, and I saw that my feet were getting not-so-pointed. I haven’t really had any improvements in my beated jumps over the past year actually (not that I had before that either). I don’t really know where to begin on that, I mean do I keep practicing them wrong just to built up strength (but risk building muscle memory of the wrong thing), or am I strong enough but it’s just something in my head (like the fear of landing wrong). It’s possible that I’m strong enough, because I’ve seen people that are weaker than me or get tired quicker be able to do them. I can do more sautes, correctly, than ever before, but when it comes time to add beats it just turns into flexed feet flopping around. Well, for starters I’ll work on my royalle, since that feels easier to me than entrechat.

As for my youtube video classes, this week I once again did the “Easy Ballet Barre” and “Easy Ballet Center” as well as the “Classic Ballet Barre, 2” and “Barre for Turnout” and “Barre for  Core and Balance”. The difficulty of all the barre videos except for “easy” is pretty tough, especially towards the end of the video, but I managed to pull through – with some modifications. Like the part where there’s was something like pas de cheval devant, releve on coupe, then two pas de chevals on releve with a mini rond de jambe en l’air, and repeat on croix, or something like that – I was all over the place. While the difficulty of the videos starts off similar to the Intermediate class I’d been going to, by the end I definitely think it’s at a much harder difficulty.  I am happy that I’m strong enough to be able to do combinations on releve at the barre, but my coordination does go down. Any frappes or rond de jambes while on releve are a complete mess.

As for center, I attempted the “Classic Center” video and, well… I guess it comfirms to me that I am still very much a beginner. Certainly makes my choice between Intermediate and Beginner at the same exact time slot a whole lot easier! I could do the first combination, but after that I was horribly lost. I switched to the “Easy Center” to finish my ballet session – love that video, by the way – but I did take some time later on to sit through the rest of the “Classic Center” class to see what the deal is. So, it seems like the first few combinations are definitely steps  I can do, I just can’t remember what comes next and then I’m behind and catching up sucks. The combinations feel so long! I know if I were to take a few hours and study the videos I’d be able to do the combinations correctly, but doing them immediately after being given them – like in a real class scenario – is currently impossible for me. I don’t think I’ve seen much improvement in this area over the past year either.

The thing I wish I knew the most is, is it because I’m a beginner and I’m still not familiar with ballet (at a little over three years of dancing), or is it because I’m not a child/teen? Like, is it because I’m an adult that I can’t remember a full sequence of steps, or it is just because I haven’t been doing it that long? Are beginner-children/teens better at memorizing combinations than beginner-adults?  By now I’ve proven -at least to myself – that I can take a combination or piece of choreography that’s several minutes long or more, study it at home on my own time for many obsessive hours, and be able to do it in class/rehearsal/ a show, but I am so slow at learning them in “real time”. While I feel like I shouldn’t care, like I should just be grateful that I’ve even gotten to perform at all, I am somewhat upset that my slowness at learning in person may be a big reason why I don’t get considered for longer parts.  If it’s just because I’m still a beginner then I can feel better that it may get better in the future, but if it is because I’m not super young – and I’m not getting any younger – then maybe it’s time to… one of two things: either learn to be grateful for at least getting to do the “beginner”parts, or stop having delusional dreams of performing. I worry that I sound whiny – I’m not whining, I just like to know where I stand, like to know the reasons for things and then see if there’s something I can do about it or not. To know that if I’m failing it is because of things out of my control, not my undedicated lack of trying, or msguided effort.

I also wonder, is learning choreography this way “cheating”? Am I screwing myself up more in the long run? I mean, I get the instant gratification of learning and performing a dance, but then I get even worse at remembering the combinations in class. Is the only way to get better at following along in class to stop doing it the slow, step-by-step video way? Even if that class-only learning style just doesn’t seem to work for me?

As you can see, I’m full of (possibly rhetorical?) questions today…

6 thoughts on “More Videos, More Classes, Still Not Remembering

  1. A Writer

    I have a hard time remembering combinations, too! Especially long and/or complicated ones. I’ve also been dancing about three years, although you’ve had way more classes than I have! I usually just take class once a week. Which is all a rambling way of getting to my point: when I get discouraged about complicated combinations, not “getting it,” and all of those worries you listed above (which I definitely have!), I remember that in “ballet years,” I have about as much experience as the average six or eight-year-old.
    And yes, I’m certainly not getting younger, but even pro dancers – if they take care of themselves and don’t get injured- are now dancing into their 40s, and adult recreational dancers into their 50s and 60s and 70s. So I figure I have a good long time left to develop my ballet skills. I’ll never be professional good, but in another three or five or seven years I’ll at least be out of beginnerland.

    1. kit Post author

      Great point about how that comes out to 6 or 8 year old in “ballet years”! Reassuring, while putting things in perspective…

      1. yorksranter

        How many times do you get to do any one variation at a session? I ask because I remember the ones I did at a weekend intermediate Cunningham class back at Easter perfectly, although it was a one-off. The difference is that we did only two centre variations, but we did both a *lot* in the same class. Also, longer format = much more across the floor time, so more repetition.

      2. kit Post author

        Depending on the teacher (and level) sometimes we do the same combination twice – once to mark it, once “for reals” – or three times max. Unless it’s a very basic beginner level combination, I usually don’t remember it exactly after only one class, but I’ll have a general idea (or at least the first half of it). One of my teachers never repeats the same combination from class to class though, so it’s starting from scratch every time. From working on stuff at home, I know that it takes me around 8-10 repetitions to remember completely anything longer than 8 counts…

      3. yorksranter

        I think that’s it – it took me a lot more time to really reliably memorise stuff we’re going to perform, precisely because less repetition concentrated on each piece, each sitting.

      4. kit Post author

        What makes matter worse is that F Teacher (our director/choreographer for my past performances) often changes the choreography multiple times – sometimes the same day – and expects us to memorize and keep track of the changes. That’s when it just becomes imposible for me.

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