Monthly Archives: July 2016

Promenade Progress, Weird Coincidences, and Class Performance

After a slightly rough start it ended up being a great ballet week.

Possibly the biggest breakthough I had this week involved promenades. As you may remember, I’ve been complaining about falling out of promenades ever since … well, ever since I first attempted one – balancing issues, you know? In fact, when I made a ballet goals post abour six months ago, getting a clean promenade to both sides was in there (and most of the goals I wrote could be self-described as ‘unlikely’).

So, this past week NS Teacher gave us this combination: developpe devant, brush the leg through to arabesque, promenade in arabesque, penchee, promenade in attitude, allongee(sp?), other side. I was pretty nervous, but I told myself that I was going to really try it, not just give up on it about halfway through because I feel like I’m not going to be able to make it all the way around anyway. And. to my surprise, I did make it around, in both arabesque and attitude promenades and to both sides!

Then another day at another class at NS it got even more intense. We did this combination with sets of three petit battements while going down in plie (I guess fondue?) then petit battements up to retire as we straightened the supporting leg, extend leg a la seconde, fouette so the leg is in arabesque (no, not fouette en tournant, the turns from the Black Swan variation; just the facing change kind of fouette), promenade, faille through, pick up pas de bourre, repeat other side. Wow, this was a challenging combination! As NS Teacher first gave the combination I started feeling a little panicky, because, I mean, petit battements in center (!) and then following that up with promenades, that’s a lot of pulling up on that supporting leg. But I got through it again without losing my balance. I’m not saying I did the combnation perfectly or anything – I think my fouette resembled a partial rond de jambe en l’air more than anything – but still, I’m pleased with my progess on promenades.

In regular school we did a nice and long – yet slow and doable – waltz combination that was really fun because of how dance-y it felt. It was balancé right and left, then balancé front and back, this little turn that took six counts with a step that felt like half pas de bourre and half easy waltz step, then tombe, pas de bourre, pique sous-sus, soutenu, other side. One of the times we did the combination we forgot to stop after going through both sides twice and G Teacher let us keep going and the next thing we knew the music was over and we’d danced the whole thing! It was a lovely moment.

Then – coincidentally – both NS Teacher and G Teacher gave me corrections on “moving bigger”, on playing it less safe. With G Teacher it was at the barre when doing our chasse en avant and en arriere and with pique sous-sus, with NS Teacher it was also with pique sous-sus.  They both want to see me really travel, and gave me a literal little push to get me started in the right way. You know… for a while now I’ve found it a little odd when two or more teachers (especially at different schools) suddenly start giving me the same exact correction they hadn’t given me before. It’s like, do I pick up glaringly bad habits overnight that come to their attention the same day… or do ballet teachers talk amongst one another? I know that sounds unlikely (even though I do think the local ballet/dance community might be small enough that they all know each other, I think they probably have better things to do with their time than compare notes on individual students), but often times I’ll go to two different classes at different schools the same day and the two different teachers will either give out very similar exercises to the class, or have us work on the same exact things. And no, we don’t do the same things every day, or have time to do it all on the same day, which is why it seems even more coincidental. I’ve been noticing this for almost two years now, ever since I first ventured away from my main school to try out other classes. Is there like a place where teachers get their lesson plans (like, ‘this week we should work on glissades’, for example), or communicate with each other and that’s why they end up coordinating, or is it truly a coincidence?

(For the record, at my wise old age I personally believe there’s no such thing as coincidences… feel free to think I’m weird – if you didn’t already – all you want…)

This other really fun combination we did was two sissones ferme (left and right), passe releve and bring it to fourth in back, pirouette en dehors, repeat to other side. The hardest part was the pirouette, of course, but I kept up to tempo and found it enjoyable. This combination was during a class that had mostly more advanced students (I think two of them are teachers as well) and I was one of the beginners, so it was nice to keep up. And only once did I accidentaly do a glissade instead of a sissone.

The other exciting thing was that we did our small in-class performance! This one wasn’t in the real theater with real costumes and everything, just in the studio for the rest of the class, but I managed to get a video (the main downside of performing in the real theater is that there is No Filming Allowed). I did the Spanish dance from Coppelia, which was short and relatively straightforward, but very fast. When I have a choice in th matter I tend to gravitate towards slower, more adagio-like choreographies, so this was out of the comfort zone and Iiked it.  First I marked it at home to commit it to memory, then I worked on getting it up to tempo in a practice room at school. The most challenging aspect for me was the quick balancés, because the floor’s so slippery and when you’re moving that fast and the floor feels slippery it can get scary. So while practicing I made sure to keep the soles of my slippers damp (by stepping on a moist paper towel, which I save and reuse for next time) to provide more traction and that helped with the fear or slipping.

Unfortunately, when it came time to perform it instead of rehearsing, I didn’t remoisten my shoes, and of course I remembered when I was already starting the dance. It was just like a repeat of the show a couple of months ago in which I forgot part of my costume backstage and realized as soon as I stepped onstage! Luckily, I get through it, and I didn’t slip, or lose my balance, or freeze up, or any of those things that can happene while performing. I’ve watched the video a bunch of times, and besides this part where I’m carrying my arms a bit too behind in second, I’m satisfied with my perfromance. I’m not saying it’s great, but for someone who started ballet (for the first and only time)  when they were almost 30 and has only been dancing for as long as I have, I’m impressed. It’s ok to be impressed with youself, I think…

The rest of my classmates also performed their dances, and they were quite impressive too. I especially enjoyed watching the Bluebird variation, the Lilac Fairy (both from Sleeping Beauty), and Basilio’s variation from the grand pas of Don Quixote. There were also a few original short choreographies from the more beginner dancers, which were quite good. I know they don’t believe me, but I always tell my newer classmates how their dancing is really coming along. Peer support, I believe in it.

 

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Preferential Treatment?

Before I start, I’d like to say that I am well aware that this post makes me sound whiny and immature – but one of the wonderful things about having your own blog is that you get to prove that old adage about opinions and everyone having one …

🙂

Also, I am aware that I am not completely blameless in this either, but still, everyone has one…

Anyway.

So, there’s this young lady who, every day, is anywhere from 40 minutes to almost an hour late for (a two-hour) ballet class. Every single day, assuming she doesn’t just blow it off completely. Now, this class is at a horrible early morning time, the kind of hour where if you leave home 15 minutes earlier you’ll then hit even more traffic because then there’s all the school buses blocking traffic with their little flashing stop signs, and you get to your destination at the same exact freaking time! Trust me, I’ve done it; I set my alarm earlier, dragged myself awake, left home ealier and STILL got there exactly on the dot or a minute late. And, I’m sorry, but I am not going to get up before the sun rises to drive a couple of miles and wait in an empty parking lot – like I said, I may come across as immature, but I have plenty of responsibilities to take care of at home, and if I’m going to be awake two hours earlier than usual I’m going to be doing my chores!

Anyway, our teacher gives us a lecture on being on time. Except, Miss I’m-An-Hour-Late-And-I-Don’t-Care is so late she doesn’t even catch the lecture! Then our teacher decides that the door will be locked right before class begins, as motivation. Once again, Miss IAHLAIDC is so late that by that point the teacher has unlocked the door (I think because it’s a fire safety hazard to keep the door locked the whole time?), and, rather than having to wait outside, knocking repeatedly, she just waltzes on in.

By this point I’m annoyed. I understand that the teacher’s personal belief is that it doesn’t matter if you’re late by 30 seconds or an hour, but – I mean, seriously! – if you’re so late that the rest of the class is done with barre completely then perhaps it’s not the same thing as running in there right as class is starting. Scratch that – I’m not annoyed, I’m quite angry.

I realize there’s nothing I can do about it though. I could just decide to sleep in for the rest of the session and not even bother with class, I guess. This is a character flaw about me that I really dislike, but I tend to be the kind of person that once I decided that something is unfair it’s very hard to change my mind. But I find this incredibly unfair! If I was the teacher I would have made her (Miss IAHLAIDC) sit out and watch, not allow her to take part in class. It seems incredibly messed up to me that those of us who are making an effort to be there on time- and occasionally don’t make it – get punished more (by having to wait outside until the door is unlocked again) while absolutely nothing for her, who clearly is not making an effort. You don’t get somewhere 45 minutes to an hour late daily by making an effort! To me, that just shows that you don’t care and decided the party won’t start until you get there…

Perhaps… maybe just maybe… could it be because Miss IAHLAIDC has extensions to die for? I’m talking 180 degrees devant and a la seconde, and about 150 derriere, not to mention a perfectly overcrossed fifth position (it’s seriously beautiful) and none of the rest of us come close to that. Do teachers tend to cut much more slack to students that they consider to be “naturally talented”? I mean, this got the gears in my head turning, and now I feel like I can remember plenty examples of people who got many chances, who got away with ditching rehearsals and routine tardiness, but… teachers are willing to look the other way for people that they either consider to be “good” or that they just plain like. I realize at the professional level this may be commonplace (playing favorites, and politics), but it just seems ridiculous at a Beginner class where most of us are true beginners and will only dance recreationally.

Of course, this doesn’t make me feel better; if anything, it makes me angrier. Perhaps I’d be less angry if I hadn’t wasted my time, my gasoline, and my food (I usually don’t eat in the early morning unless I have class), and had just decided to stay home and sleep in since there was no way I was going to get there way early. Well, I guess I’m not angry anymore now that I’ve had my opportunity to rant. Now I just don’t know what’s going on for the rest of this session of classes…

Any thoughts? Yes, I realize that I was technically in the wrong by not being early to class, but I’m mostly upset about how some people get away with it…

Several Things I’ve Noticed, And Looking Back

As my summer ballet session nears its end, this week I noticed a few things. Definite signs of progress, I’d say.

The first has to do with my balance. It was possibly there already, but during this week was the first time that I’ve felt like I didn’t have to stop and make any tiny little adjustments in order to keep my balance while doing our center tendu combination. We do two croisse devant, two en face devant, two efface devant, one ecarte, then the same with the other leg, then reversing it. Tempo’s pretty quick, so if that time to adjust was actually needed it would put me behind the music. I don’t even remember really how I came to trust myself that I could do it, that I didn’t need to take that millisecond to make sure I was really on my leg.  Perhaps all the no-hands-at-the-barre stuff G Teacher’s been having me do has helped me?

The second thing is glissades. Not just a la seconde, but also en avant and en arriere. I struggled with glissades for a long time, at first not making them look pretty but just doing them at all without losing my balance and coming close to falling. While I’ve had my glissades a la seconde for at least a year now, the ones front and back – especially back – have been slow to progress. Even though I felt like I had the coordination for them finally, it was the balance that would get me. Maybe this still falls into the first category then, since it’s mostly a balance thing. Well, either way, this week I was doing glissades in all directions and it was going just fine, only took me three and a half years to get to this point…

The last thing is my jumps. Anyone who’s been reading my ballet struggles for a while now will remember just how much jumping has been an uphill battle. First, my legs were to weak to even help me clear the floor, then I could clear the floor but my feet were too weak/I was too scared to point my feet, then I’d start speeding up the tempo because I (subconciously) just wanted to get it over with and I’d forget to breathe. And of course all the alignment adjustments needed, not losing my turnout, etc. Finally, I noticed this week that everything is lining up; I’m able to remember to breathe during my jumps, which keeps me from feeling panicky out of breath during them, which keeps me on tempo. And, when we’re finally done, I discovered that I’d  enjoyed it quite a bit, that my legs felt happy (I realize that sounds a little silly, but I don’t care) . It’s no longer the thing that causes me much apprehension – that special spot is now exclusively saved for pirouettes.

Ever since I actually started feeling like I was dancing, instead of just trying to not make a complete fool of myself, I haven’t been super fixated on progress… but it’s still nice to take note of it, I think. The same way some people like to have a snapshot of a moment in a particularly nice day, something like that.

Anyway, this ballet week was pretty awesome. In my regular school classes (the summer session) we got to do quite a bit of across the floor work. We had a relatively long (by beginner class standards) adagio, that I struggled the first time with because of my memory (you’ll notice I didn’t say earlier that I’ve noticed any improvements in remembering combinations…), but by the second class session working on it I nailed it. It was all steps I could do (demi plies with port de bras, sous-sus balance, tombe, pas de bourre, ballet walks), but the length did intimidate me at first.

We also did more across the floor jumping, temps leves (saute arabesque, saute passe), and alternating chasses with saute arabesque.

At New Studio, I had a couple of fun classes as well. We did a fun adage-y combination with developpe devant, rond de jambe the leg to a la seconde, close back, developpe derriere, carry to second, close, changement to face other corner and repeat. I really enjoyed it because I felt so steady on my single leg balance.  I was glad we did this combination first, because the next few were quite fast and I felt like I was struggling to keep up with the tempo. One of the combinations was just glissade x2, assemble, passe releve, repeat, but it was just so quick that I felt I barely had time to fit it in there. Our other equally fast combination was 2 balances, balance en tournant, pirouette en dehors, pirouette en dedans. The en dehors pirouettes didn’t go so well (as usual). It frustrates me that even though I can do them to the left much better, since we start to the right, by the time we get to the left I already have this “I suck at pirouettes” mindset. Sigh.

On a more positive note, one of the combinations (can’t remember which) included that pivot thing from facing one way croisse to the other way efface, which I barely figured out a couple of months ago, and even though I haven’t been actively practicing it often I still remembered it!

Also, I was rereading over some of my old blog posts, and I happened upon the one from a year ago almost to the date. At the time I was concerned with being “in between”, not knowing if when a teacher says something is only for more advanced people if I should try it. Also, not feeling like I was capable of actually dancing when I just felt so silly and like i didn’t even belong there.  Now, it may be that I’m only taking Beginner and Open Level class right now (not the scary Intermediate, with people who’ve been dancing for decades and are Really Good), but I find that I’m not having any of those problems anymore. For the most part I feel confident that I should try the harder option, and I have no problems with really dancing instead of just trying to go through the motions. I guess I only mention this for the benefit of my one-year-ago self, but it gets better! So that means that even though I’m struggling with some things now (like those en dehors pirouettes!), I might in the future look back and wonder what the big deal was. The reminder of the change in perspective does much to cheer me up when I’m having a difficult day.

P.S. If you’re still reading, person who found me by searching, please DO wash your leotard! If you don’t, it’s apt to get stinky, and then you may try to belatedly solve the problem by spraying yourself all over with body spray immediately before class, and just, please don’t. I don’t need that fake fruity/flowery smell burning the insides of my nostrils as I breathe in deeply during and after a particularly strenuous combination!

Public Service Announcement time: Please don’t douse yourself in body spray or perfume before going to ballet class (or yoga or pilates) or any other activity that involves a small enclosed area with no windows! It’s not fair to your classmates. We all have a different opinion of what a pleasant smell is, and it’s not cool to force your version of it upon others.

 

Annoying Classmate, But Overall A Good Week

Recently, I took a class with a new classmate who was.. a little irritating. Ok, a lot! Since I was in an extraordinarily chill mood already as it was, it still turned out to be an extremely fun class, and didn’t really give it thought until later. (I have this worry deep inside that if I had not been in such a great mood as it was, it would have been a disatrous situation)

The reason this lady was so irritating (to me) was that she kept putting herself down in a repetitive and contradictory way (and maybe also because I thought that she had looked at me in a not-so-friendly way in the lobby, though due to my anxiety I can’t really trust myself on that call at the moment). Like, “I’m so not flexible!” as she does the splits or brings her leg up to barre level in arabesque, or “I’m terrible at this!”  (no you’re not, trust me) or “I haven’t done this in forever, I’ll probably struggle to keep up” over and over as she, in fact, does. This all made me feel inadequate because if someone’s more flexible than me, and they say they’re not flexible, what does that make me?  I like to think I’m not that inflexible – I mean, my yoga teacher called me flexible and she’s seen it all! And besides, when people constantly bag on themselves like that, I think they’re just fishing for compliments, which is soooo annoying. Either that or trying to put everyone around them down. Perhaps this all goes back to how I can’t relate very well to people, or understand social cues, so many times I’m just left wondering ‘huh? what was that supposed to mean?!’

I also felt incredibly awkward because I’d taken my usual barre spot near the front (where I usually get put anyway by NS Teacher, so brand new beginners can follow), and she gets directly behind me while saying that she’ll just follow. And maybe I’m just weird or whatever, but I feel so nervous and on the spot being at the barre right in front of someone new who does not need someone to follow – like if they’re thinking ‘why am I following her?’ and I just feel even more pressure than if it was someone who truly needed to follow. Yeah, hard to explain that one, but in conclusion, by the time we’d gotten through the second combination I was feeling beyond awkward.

After a relatively short barre, it was time for center. It was a small class, just three of us, so at least we’d all go across the floor at the same time. We did tombe, pas de bourre, glissade, assemble, sissone, balance en tournant, chasse en arriere, pose, repeat, across the studio and a combination I can’t remember that involved balances and a pique arabesques. The whole time I was terrified of a combination heavy on the pirouettes being given. Luckily, instead we moved on to jumping.

Even though for the longest time jumps were the part of class that I looked forward to the least, ever since I actually figured out how to point my feet in midair I’ve come to somewhat enjoy them. Except for the beated ones, those still suck. Our combination included none of those, just a very long configuration of sautes, changements, and echappes, with a balance in sous-sus at the end. It went well – like I said, it’d been a really fun class.

Then I went home, and told Boyfriend about it, how I’d felt inadequate, and how it’s annoying when someone has the habit of putting themselves down while showing off at the same time. I said how it’s even worse when it’s a stranger, because I’m extra shy and weird around new people as it is, but if they are acting like how this lady was it’s just, like, distractingly irritating. And yes, I admitted that part of my irritation was rooted in jealousy because I still don’t have my splits all the way down (and possibly never will, because if stretching regimens can bring me from nowhere close to a several inches away in a few months, but there’s been no progress since then in years, that may be all my body’s willing to give me, and I’m ok with it, most of the time), and it makes me want to scream when someone can do something and still puts themselves down about it while I’m struggling. I said something like “At least when they’re your friend and they do that you can call them out on it. Or if they can do something awesome you can’t do, you can still be happy for them because they’re your friend – even if you’re a tiny bit jealous – and you don’t wonder if they’re giving you a dirty look the whole time!”

I think he replied something about how normal people will befriend the person theyre intimidated by or something. Oh well,  “normal”  sucks anyway.

My classes at my summer session at my regular school are going geat though. This week G Teacher really picked up the pace, having us go through the entire barre pretty much without stopping between combinations. I love it! We’ve also been doing more center work and across the floor. We’ve been working on tombe, pas de bourre; on pique sous-sus in all directions (I guess en croix); on soutenus and chaines; and, of course, lots of ballet walks and bourres. It was really fun when we did tombe, pas de bourre back and forth, left and right, because it felt so waltzy. I’ve never done just tombe, pas de bourre without it being a preparation for the next step, like glissade assemble, or something. So that was nice, a way to see how sometimes steps fit together in ways I hadn’t thought of before.

During the soutenus, G Teacher corrected me on my second leg (not the one that piques, but the one that closes onto it) turning in. He was really watching, instead of just giving the correction and walking away, and so I was able to make adjustments until he said “like that!” It was a foreign feeling, making me think that I have been turning with my leg turned in this whole time. Something new to work on! Reminds me of how two years ago I was learning to temps lie in all directions and I would lose my turnout every single time, like my foot would go completely parallel. So I had to really focus on keeping the muscle engaged, nothing passive about it at all. This is sort of like that, but while turning and on releve. The fact that I was able to figure out the temps lies while holding my turnout eventually reassures me that I can improve at this,  just need lots of time and repetition.

We also did my favorite temps leve combination (saute arabesque, saute coupe, repeat), after doing chasses across the floor. I was having so much fun and one of my classmates said “You look so happy!” which is not something I’m told often (Boyfriend says I usually look either upset or worried, which is something I really dislike about myself, but I just don’t know (yet) how to make a neutral-to-pleasant relaxed face). But I was happy to hear that, because I’ve seen how sometimes people have that look of exertion or concentration while dancing, and I knew I want to avoid that…

So then G Teacher suggested I do cabrioles in place of the saute arabesque, and my smile slipped right off. Ok, no, it wasn’t that dramatic, but there was the change from ‘ok, I got this, let’s just make it even better! (and have fun, of course)’ to ‘ummm… I’ll try it?’ And if I’ve learned one new thing recently, it’s that it is not truly ballet without confidence. Unfortunately, I find it incredibly hard to be confident when I’m… not. All the stuff I can already do, it’s in muscle memory, but when it’s not there I look like an idiot and I know it. So I get over the awkwardest part of that phase by practicing in private until I have a rough idea of what I’m trying to do. And I’m honest about it to anyone who asks, too – I didn’t get my chasse jumps and saute arabesque, saute coupe by taking class and learning it then and there in front of ALL THESE PEOPLE; I would get up early and go to the park and practice them after jogging. Same goes for my barre work – hours and hours of practicing at home, slower and slower at first if that’s what it took. So, naturally, I expect to learn new stuff by taking it home and going over it at my own pace. Then, once I have a rough draft, I submit it to my teachers for corrections, and it’s all good from there. In short, if I don’t have a rough pattern for a move, it seems like I just can’t do it.

Anyway, back to the cabrioles… one of my classmates pointed out that if I’m not afraid to do assembles – and I’m not – then in theory cabrioles shouldn’t scare me either. True, just got to remember to open the leg again after they beat. Perhaps that will work.

Also, I found out that at the end of the session we’re going to have a small performance for the class, yay! G Teacher gave me a solo to work on and I’ve been going over it repetitively to memorize it. So far it seems that other that reduce the number of turns per four counts of music I’ll be able to do it directly from the video without too much modifying needed. I’m pretty excited about that.

So I guess overall I had a great week in ballet!

‘En De-don’t’s, Fun Turns, And Scary Jumps

 

 

It was another incredibly fun ballet-filled week. The class tempo level picked up a bit, resulting in lots of calf soreness. Seriously, I think all week my calves felt completely solid, like no give at all when I would press into them with my hands. It was a job for the tennis ball for sure.

G Teacher is really pushing for the whole class to learn the ballet terminology in French. He’ll randomly quiz different people on what step we’re doing, and what direction. I remember he asked someone what direction we were going, and they were like “En de… dont ?”, which is a closer approximation to en dedans that I would have had after three weeks (back when I first started, I thought F Teacher was saying ‘on the dot’, and ‘on the rough’ for en dehors, which I realize makes no sense, but yeah) . Then, when we did  our rond de jambes, I forgot the combination (my own fault, for spacing out when G Teacher was giving it), and rather than stop and look around I followed the person in front. Who, of course, was going the wrong way, so G Teacher corrected me ‘No,  we’re going en dehors’. It was ‘an en de don’t’ indeed!  I made sure to not forget that combination again (for the record, it was 1 4 count rond de jambe, 2 2 count rond de jambes, and 3 1 count, all en dehors, then repeat the whole thing en dedans, then grand port de bras (circular cambre) in both directions, and long sous-sus balance).

We also learned an extremely fast frappe combo: 2 en croix, 1 en croix, soutenu, other side. I’m pleased that my frappes have really improved, especially those tricky frappe derrieres. I no longer feel like I’m going to stomp my toe on the floor. I still think of the “strike” in the frappe being more like striking a match than striking something with a stick – it helps me a lot.

In G Teacher’s class we have a set barre, but some of the exercises are so long that it’s hard to keep track or not mix them up… like is this  the one with the long balance at the end, or not? Or the one that we stop in between both sides, or go right to the next one?

We also worked on fondues (he let a few of us go up to releve) facing the barre: fondue, stainghten in coupe, fondue, leg out devant, fondue, staringten, fondue, leg a la seconde, fondu, straigten, fondu, leg arabesque, fondue with leg out still, pull in it to sous-sus, other side, then repeat whole thing en dedans. I hadn’t worked that much on releve in a while, and it was a workout!

For our rond de jambe turnout exercise at the barre, G Teacher came around and said to me “You should be doing with no hands”, which I then attempted. It was a challenge, but I willed myself to not lose my balance and got through the rest of it without the barre. The exercise, which I think I mentioned a few months ago back when I first took G Teacher’s class, is a slow (16 count) rond de jambe en l’air with a flexed food, first en dehors right foot, then en dehors left foot, then en dedans left foot, and en dehors, right foot. Then you get to do the whole thing with the supporting leg in plie.

We did lots of jumping this week, enough to make up for not jumping the other ones. First up, saute combination: plie releve 3 times, hold plie, 1 saute, hold plie, straingther, 1 saute, hold plie, straingten, 2 sautes, hold plie, 3 sautes, hold plie, 4 sautes, hold plie and slowly straigten for 4 counts. It was a brain teaser, but I happen to prefer slow sautes so I liked it.

Then we had an echappe combination: start croisse in fifth, echappe to fourth changing facing to croisse other side, close to fifth, echappe to second en face, close fifth, repeat the above twice, then 3 changements and repeat the whole thing to the other side. I had a classmate take a video of me, and I was shocked to see the whole thing was 28 seconds. 28 seconds! But when you’re jumping it can feel like half an hour. We also did echappes to second while traveling forward (all the way across the studio), hands on hips, and those were hard!

This week I also went to New Studio, for 2 classes.  One of the days, as I was parking outside the studio, I saw that there was a few advanced dancers there, and for a brief second I contemplated turning around and going home. But I reassesed the situation, and it was more lazy than tired, so I went in. And yes, NS Teacher gave us a more challenging class, like barre stretch with no hands on releve, and super fast degages with port de bras, fondues up to releve and fouette at the barre.

In center our first combination was balancé x2, balance en tournant, pirouette en dehors, repeat. I kept messing up because I would do a chasse into preparation with the pirouette, instead of just going into the pirouette, which was way harder (after NS Teacher corrected me on that I was struggling way more with it).

Another combination we did was cabriole devant, temps leve (1 legged saute in attitude derriere), tombe ,pas de bourre, attitude pirouette en dedans, repeat. This combination was fun. That does not mean I’m saying that it was easy, or that I could even do it right, just that I enjoyed really moving around after doing more beginner classes recently. My main difficulty with it was the cabriole. Cabrioles frustrate me because I don’t even know where to begin. I think I’m scared of falling, so even though I can get my legs to touch in midair, i always bring my top leg back down too, sort of like a really ugly assemble. I always get corrected ‘Don’t bring the top leg down!’ and I feel like ‘I know! But I’m scared!’.

The rest of the combination was so fun though. That temps leve in attitude looked intimidating, but it was actually so much fun, and my attitude derriere has improved so a lot in the last few months. The attitude pirouette was also fun, and because it was en dedans, I actually had a hope of getting around for a single. The most advanced dancer in class was doing maybe 5 or 6 revolutions in all her pirouettes, which was amazing to watch in person. She also has incredible feet. The things we notice!

So yeah, cabrioles scare me. But, this weekend we went to the lake again, and I got an idea. I decided to work on my jumps in the water, that way there was no fear of falling and getting hurt. I managed to work not only on my cabrioles but on my entrechats and royalles. It was very encouraging (not to mention fun!). At least now I know I can do it under conditions of reduced gravity.

Summer Fun And Ballet

This post is somewhat  and undetailed, but having spent the weekend having some summertime fun – picnic-ing and swimming at the lake – I am tired.

Second week of my summertime ballet session! The week was fun – the level of the class is something like Beginner 2, more challenging than basic beginner level but definitely not intermediate (both regular Intermediate class, and that Beginner-Intermediate class session from last summer). Well, actually it’s a little difficult to narrow it down to which level it is. At barre we’re using port de bras for some exercises, some of us are working on releve a bit more, and in center we’re using the body facings instead of just facing front for tendus. At the same time, we haven’t worked on any turns and have hardly jumped. I’m hoping this coming week we will do more of that, since I don’t want to feel out of practice. I actually started freaking out the other day at home, thinking about how I hadn’t done any jumping at all in about a week, and I haven’t had time to go for a run or even a walk, so what if I lose all my stamina. My fears turned out to be groundless (I had a home practice session with plenty of jumps and I was fine), but still, I got myself all worked  up. Since it took me so long to build up the strength to jump through a whole saute combination without ending up with flexed feet, I’m pretty worried of losing it again.

About the tendus with facings that I mentioned, I was so glad that during my weeks of completely from class I did the Kathryn Morgan Easy Ballet Center, because it was very similar to it – tendus croisse devant, en face, efface (we did ecarte as well), and reversing it, all with port de bras. I felt super on the spot, especially after one of my classmates made it clear she was going to follow me, but it went pretty well even the reversing. I think the facing I’m least familiar with is efface, but I’m starting to become as comfortable with it as I am with the rest. This body facings thing was something else that took years for me to understand, but to be fair not all of my teachers have taught the body facings to the Beginner class.

Class at NS was also fun. There was not one, but two(!) couples taking class together, a fact that I immediately mentioned to Boyfriend when I got home, as a hint somewhat. He’s still not going for it.

Barre went slow and detailed, with lots of work on our plies and tendus. Then for center NS Teacher had the more beginner students work on passe releves and pique passe along the barre while some of us did a turning combination. It was pique turn x2, stepover/lame duck pique, pique turn x2, pirouette en dehors from fourth, repeat. It was pretty tricky – basically, from the second pique turn, momentum takes you all the way to a fourth position preparation for the pirouette. That part scared me a little. I wasn’t really trusting myself and making it a fluid motion, so I’m sure I looked far from graceful. But a couple of my pirouettes were ok, in the sense that I made it all the way around, but not great. I had a few definitely bad ones in there as well… As for the pique turns, they were ok, but by the end I noticed I was getting a little tired. I feel like that’s because I haven’t been working on single leg releve lately, so I’ve gotten weaker. Or perhaps I was just tired, since it was my second class of the day.

We also did the temps leve combination (saute passe, saute arabesque) which is always fun for me. We started from B+ with the saute passe instead of saute arabesque (which I’m more familiar with), which makes it seem like it’s more difficult. Once we start it becomes just muscle memory, but the start just feels like it would throw me off, as I watch the first group go. But I’ve noticed more advanced dancers do this thing where they kind of plie and spring off their supporting leg when they start a combination from B+, and  think maybe this could help get me in the habit of that?

I’m still doing my yoga session (4 days a week, 1.5 hour per day), and the results have been interesting. Throughout the first week I was thinking ‘yeah, this is ok, but I feel much more of a workout with pilates’. But then in the middle of this past week, something changed – while doing/attempting to do one of the poses, I realized that my shoulders could open up even more than I previously thought possible. In pilates it’s always like ‘engage your lats!’ or ‘relax the shoulders!’ (which seems a counterproductive cue for me, since my shoulders feel relaxed in  their slightly forward incorrect posture, and to bring them back and down I actually feel like I’m contracting a muscle, not relaxing it), but in yoga the instructor said to ‘open up our side chest’ and ‘lift the shoulders up and back’, which somehow did the trick. It’s like I discovered even more muscles that I didn’t know I had and it felt awesome! So I’m defintely becoming a bigger fan of yoga. Don’t see myself stopping pilates though.

My body imbalances from left to right have also become apparent to me while doing yoga. There’s poses that I find it much easier to do one one side than the other. There’s also poses that I can’t really do all the way (I feel like I should clarify that this class, just like my ballet classes, are based on a session system and get increasingly more difficult or challenging as the session goes on. Since we’re barely at the end of the second week, we’re not doing anything crazy challenging, or even headstands, yet), including one where you stand, cross one leg over the other, bend your supporting leg, and try to wrap the foot of your working leg around your supporting calf – sort of the anti-coupe (or at least that’s how I think of it, and it’s the final wrapping the foot around part that I can’t do).

We are going to get to handstands and headstands by the end of the session, and honestly I feel a little worried about that. The instructor really emphasizes safety, but still, when it’s something that’s completely new to me I hesitate to just trust my body. And for me, there’s something about being upside down – as a kid I was obsessed with it. but I could never do it,so I have this, like, mindset about it. This can be so hard to overcome sometimes, the idea that I’m doing  the same action so why would I expect a different result. But then, this past weekend at the park I was doing cartwheels wth Boyfriends nephews and nieces, having a great time, and I barely learned how to do a cartwheel a year and a half ago for the first time ever. I turned 33 this past week, and I’m so happy that at least I’m getting to experience at my age now what I never got to as a child.

And that paragraph just went on the biggest tangent ever.