Opposites Attract?

Considering my latest post was about how people learn at different speeds, I have a little story…

Yesterday, I looked up from my tablet to see Boyfriend do something that resembled a chaines turn from Modern, a single traveling turn, as he crossed the living room. I did a double take, but by then he was in the kitchen. “What was that? Did you just twirl across the living room?!” I asked, more incredulous than anything.

“Huh? Yeah, I guess I did,” he replied.

“Do it again!” I watched as he repeated the movement. Sure enough, it resembled the turns we’d done in Modern class, the ones that took most of us half the session to figure out. “How’d you learn to do that?!” I demanded.

He shrugged. Apparently one day he’d been walking forward at work, and had turned to the side to check on something while still walking, looked behind himself and figured that doing a complete 180 was more efficient than turning back the way he had in order to continue walking. “And besides, you’re always practicing ballet, so maybe I saw it there…”

So there you have it: not only does my Boyfriend have stronger and more flexible feet than me, he learns dance through osmosis as well. I guess opposites attract?

Last week, I started my ballet summer session with G Teacher who, if you’ve been reading along, you might remember that I took a couple of classes with a few months ago, but the time of class didn’t really fit into my schedule. This new session is at a slightly better time (meaning: after hitting the snooze button a couple of times, I ask myself “Do you really love ballet? Prove it!” and drag myself up to get ready for class). Officially it’s Beginner level, but I did notice when I took classes with this teacher before that the level does go a little higher than other teacher’s Beginner class. This is the class where we did those partner-assisted promenades that gave me the idea that I wanted to try partnering (which was a whole ‘nother story…).

We did plies with full port de bras, super long tendu combination facing the barre(en croix, but alternating side, slow tendus, slow tendus closing in plie, demi-point slide out to tendu, fondus a terre), then quicker tendu combination (three slower, then two faster). Then, after the first couple of days we went on to doing those tendu combinations with one hand on the barre. We also did a degage combination that went tendu devant, lift leg up so toes come off the ground, tendu down, close, repeat a la seconde, and derriere, then chasse devant, and reverse with chasse derriere this time.

Center work was mostly ballet walking, first with no arms then with port de bras. Then, to add extra challenge, we did ballet walks backward, which I’d never done in a class before but, since I have this habit of ballet walking front and back repeatedly in the kitchen at home while I wait for the stove timer to go off, it was actually in my muscle memory (yay!). We also did tendus a la seconde closing in fifth (or third for the more beginner students) with alternating legs. One day we did bourres all the way across our huge studio, twice. The dance studio at my regular school is about three times bigger than the studio at NS, even bigger than the stage we’ve performed on. So this is officially the farthest distance I’ve ever bourred across, and it was intense – if I was any weaker I would have thought my ankles would give out. Still fun and dance-y though, especially when adding port de bras.

I also went by New Studio for a couple of classes there this week. One of the classes was very barre-centered. My classmate was wearing pointe shoes, so NS Teacher had us do pre-pointe strengthening exercises after our regular plies and tendus. One I remember involved tendu to demi-point only, then bending the working leg and “forcing” the ankle over the anch (which my friend wearing the pointe shoes said was really challenging), en croix. Another exercise involved rising up without plies (eleve) 8 times and then holding the balance on releve, which once again, was not that challenging while wearing flat slippers.  I mean, it wasn’t easy but my classmate with the pointe shoes seemed to be doing a lot more work. It was a great opportunity to see how my balancing has improved so much though.

The other day at NS we  worked on fundamentals at the barre but also did a center pirouette combination (that went tombe, pas de bourre, chasse, pirouette en dehors from fourth, pirouette en dedans, sous-sus, run off). Those landings on the en dehors pirouettes are still getting me, but I did land the en dedans one correctly. NS Teacher didn’t call out any corrections about my working/passe leg turning in, so hopefully I did alright.

Another thing I (re)started this week, in the name of cross training, is yoga. If you’ve been reading along for a while, you might remember that I wrote a post back almost 2 years ago – feels like yesterday – about the similarities (through beginner’s eyes) of some yoga poses and dance. (link, if you want to check it out: http://www.balletandorbust.wordpress.com/2014/10/14/getting-reacquainted-with-yoga-and-jogging/       )

I’m a yoga beginner, having previously just done yoga at home off of  videos (and video games) and my friend’s instruction, but my ballet training and pilates has helped me so much that I am keeping up quite well in a formal class. Of course, not with the remembering parts so much – I wouldn’t be able to tell you the names of most of the stuff we did –  but with the balancing, alignment, flexibility and stuff like that. Since I signed up for a full session of yoga as well as ballet for the summer, I’m hoping by the end I’ll be familiar enough with it to continue cross training at home.

So far, the biggest challenge has been that we work in a parallel, almost turned in, position (not actually turned in, but the instructor cues us to feel as though our thighs are rotating towards each other). And when we lay there in corpse pose at the end I have a hard time quieting my mind so instead I think of ballet choreography. Which is probably not what I’m supposed to be doing…

6 thoughts on “Opposites Attract?

  1. Dancing Dork

    I’m looking forward to trying yoga during the summer break as well. I don’t think I’d ever have enough courage to go to class, but my grandmother will be visiting and she’s an ace at yoga. She’s seventy and I had no chance of keeping up with her the last time I tried… I wonder if my six months of dancing will have improved that.

    1. kit Post author

      Well, I’m definitely better at yoga than I was before dancing, so I’m sure it helps, whether it be because of increased strength, flexibility, or just simply body awareness. That’s so cool about your grandmother. I have an acquaintance who’s in her mid seventies who’s been doing yoga for decades and I find it so inspirational how she doesn’t let her age get in the way of anything (she’s also very active, and jogged and horseback rode until her late sixties when she had her hip replaced).

  2. ladysquadron

    I’ve been off wordpress for a while, so it’s great to be back and reading your posts, and remembering the moves in my head! Thanks so much! Had to give up ballet for work this year 😦 I’m planning to restart AND to go for yoga too, so your post was amazing. All the best, it sounds like you are making awesome progress and I’m so glad. Btw I have no idea how to do chaines… T_T and your boyfriend is a natural at doing them 😮 Do you have any tips for chaines, please? I get so dizzy and nauseated 😥 Thank you!

    1. kit Post author

      Welcome back! Good to hear from you again 🙂
      Let’s see, chaines… my main problem was – who am I kidding? IS – losing balance and spinning out of control/in the wrong trajectory, but I’ve never really gotten that dizzy or nauseated so I don’t know if this will help. But what worked for me is learning them super slow, on flat not releve, with hands on the shoulders -like, half turn, pause, half turn pause, etc, and I did that for about a year and a half before I progressed to doing the same on releve, then after a few months without stopping in between turns but still hands on shoulders, then finally with arms in 1st/middle 5th. I heard from youtube and from my teacher at the time that having the hands on shoulders instead of arms in front really helps with not letting the shoulders come forward and out of alignment, which helps balance. For dizziness, I’ve heard spotting is key, so I would recommend working on spotting. I admit I lose my spot after the first 6 or 8 or so turns, so I need to work on that myself… that’s when I start to go crooked.

      1. ladysquadron

        Thank you so much! I felt like i had to know it immediately. Been practising with hands on hips but by the third turn i am lost. Will use half-turns!

      2. kit Post author

        You’re welcome 🙂 I’d also recommend hands on shoulders and not on hips – according to my teacher it will really help to keep the alignment and shoulders open, which will help with stability while turning.

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