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.