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!