A Different Class And Some Performing

Been neglecting this blog again… just been so busy and… yeah… I guess I’ll discuss my week a little now.

I went to a different class, Beginner level, that I hadn’t been to, but with a teacher I have taken many times before (I hadn’t taken her class in a bit because of scheduling conflicts and I really miss it). Besides getting a great correction about not throwing my weight back while doing pirouettes – which is a bad turning habit I have in general – I came out of it having had a pretty awesome time.

So much so, that I started to wonder why was it that I had so much fun… There’s the obvious reason: it’s a beginner level class! While I love my Intermediate level classes, beginner class is that time when it seems like maybe I might actually be doing it… somewhere close to good? Which makes me feel weird saying it, like in a how-dare-I-say-I-did-good-in-ballet kind of way, and that really sucks. But anyway, getting past that, I love taking beginner class – the barre exercises are manageable enough that I can focus on all the little details (which results in me possibly working even harder and sweating like crazy), and in center petit allegro is actually doable (changement, echappe, changement, echappe, soubresaut x2, pas de chat, changement, reverse). I can go in the faster group! Good times!

But the thing is, besides my Intermediate classes, I already am taking a beginner class a couple times a week – I got to thinking, why am I not having the same happy, fun experience there? (And this is by no means a commentary on either of these teachers, they’re both great.) I realized it’s a classmate issue – a mixture of different attitudes leads to a completely different class experience.

At this point I feel like I should mention that I’m not a jerk – hopefully at all times, but definitely in ballet class. As this was not my regular class, I didn’t go in there with an attitude (not that I usually do);I went in there fully conscious that it was a beginner class and maybe, just maybe, the people who regularly take the class would feel threatened by someone who was slightly more intermediate-beginner than them showing up and acting like they’re some kind of “real dancer”. I don’t do the things that I sometimes see more advanced dancers get away with – I help put the barres away; I ask the people there (if applicable) if I can stand at a place at the barre; I don’t insist in going in the first group; I don’t stare – or worse, snicker – at people who make mistakes; if asked I offer help; I’m friendly to anyone who talks to me – in short, I try to be a decent person, not a prima donna (or a wannabe prima ballerina LOL). I remember being worse at ballet than anybody else in the class, and that keeps me in the mindset that, under the wrong conditions, ballet class can be a terrifying place. I don’t want to contribute to making it scarier, more intimidating, to anybody – that’s just not what I’m about. I know some people, when they get better than the average person at something they like to hold it over them – that is not me! Ok, so I’ve moved up the ladder a little, but I don’t want to hold that over those on the lower rungs; I want to help them up. Like I’ve said before, whether this is a quality or character flaws, who knows, who cares…

That said, in the beginner class I take regularly I feel some tension.  There’s a few people who make me feel uncomfortable, I feel like they stare at me in a not-so-friendly way, sometimes make comments, and then I feel guilty for being ok at beginner level ballet combinations, and it just makes class not as fun as it could be… like it turns into a competitive vibe and I’m not interested in competing but it just seems like others are and it just feels… awkward and horrible. So I haven’t been really getting my ‘fun ballet class’ experience, unfortunately. Perhaps this is my own fault for noticing and caring… but sometimes it makes me so mad! It’s like, no I’m not doing the barre exercise facing the barre with no hands to show off, I’m doing it to get stronger and improve my balance. Argh!


In other news, it was peformance week, for my school’s show. For the most part it went alright, although I almost twisted an ankle during one of the performances. Thankfully, I’m strong enough that even though I stepped on it wrong, it didn’t fully roll and I was feeling much better by the next day.  This year I found myself much more nervous that last year. I’m not sure why, except that perhaps last year a part of me didn’t believe it was real, and thought that at any point I would wake up from the dream (and since I’m dreaming why be nervous?). Well, also this year we had at last one fewer dress rehersal, so that may have had something to do with it.

However, I’d also say that I had more fun performing this year (which almost makes no sense to me since last year we totally went the classical ballet route with one of my favorite ballets and this year it was more original contemporary works). Part of it comes from having slightly more experience as a dancer, and being more comfortable with the steps. At the time of the performance a year ago I’d only taken one session of intermediate level ballet and lots of things I struggled with at the time are now completely in my comfort zone (like controlling pique arabesques or super quick weight shifts into a balance).

It was fun, but in a way I’m glad it’s over? I’m still unsure about whether I want to continue in the  ‘performing arts’  (but of course I want to continue to dance, as I’ve mentioned before). At my school most of the dance as far, as performing goes, leans more towards modern than ballet. To be honest, at some point I start feeling like there’s something wrong with me for still preferring ballet to modern. i get used to hearing my classmates say that ballet is so ‘technical’ – which it is – and limiting (which I don’t think it is, but perhaps I just can’t understand what they mean by ‘limiting’) and that modern isn’t, but that doesn’t make it easy (contrary to their implications)!

It’s really frustrating because I actually find modern to be much more difficult than ballet. I get it that you don’t need as much ‘technique’, but I just find it hard. If anything, the technique aspect of ballet makes it more do-able, like I know what I’m striving for, even if I can’t do it yet. With modern I just feel lost. Like I don’t have that ‘creativity’, which then makes me feel like I’m a screw up as a dancer (and, if I may be honest, as a person – is being creative all it’s cracked up to be? Is to be creative to be human?). Maybe modern’s just easier for people who are not as hopelessly uncoordinated, shy,  and body unaware as me? Ballet, and all the codified steps – the either-it’s-right-or-it’s-not aspect – is so helpful to me, like, for the first time in my life I can dance! The fact that I love to make my own choreographies makes me feel like I am creative, but the fact that I rely on ballet steps alone makes me feel like I’m not – like I can only create out of already existing things, just rearranging, in a way. This is so confusing! I apologize for my ramblings, but as you can (possibly) tell, I’m just trying to figure things – or myself – out.

I still have a couple of performances left, but these are not in the theater, just us performing our own choreographed pieces for the class. One of them is completely done, I’ve just been working on cleaning up the details. The other ones still need work, but I’ve been so busy with the show and all the rehearsals that I haven’t had much time. So that’s what I’ll be working on for the next week or so. After that, a well-deserved break, and then we’ll see.

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