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Towards The End Of Summer

 

It’s over – summer session, that is. Classes are on break until the end of the month. And now that I’ve had some time to process everything a little more, I’m ready to talk about my summer.

Our little summer performance has come and gone, my group choreographic debut. Such a mixture of feelings! In a way it’s sad, knowing that we will never dance this dance again. I mean the choreography can be recreated, but it wouldn’t be the same people, so it wouldn’t be the same – what each of them brings to the table. If I’m honest, i have gotten attached to every dance I’ve performed, but this time’s different – when it’s something you’ve created, it’s yours, you’ve brought it forth from where it existed in a realm of possibilities and made it happen. During each of the performances I saw people recording during it, and that makes me happy – i feel like this way my work lives on.
In general, the audience response was positive- i mean, if anyone thought it sucked they either kept it to themselves, or I didn’t hear of it. On the other hand, lots of people told me they enjoyed it. They can’t all be lying to me, right?
I didn’t know what kind of response it would receive. I mean, I loved it, the entire process from when it was one of infinite possibilities in my mind, as it began to tak shape. I didn’t know (or care, if i must be honest) if the audience would “get it”. There’s different levels of understanding and I don’t thing art requires to be understood to be appreciated…yes, i think i just referred to myself as an artist, no offense meant to those true artists, if there is such a thing… I’ve come a long way… but my point is that I created the piece that I felt I must create, not a piece meant to be a crowd pleaser. That it be enjoyed is a bonus, and it pleases me, but it wasn’t the point.
The process, as I metioned in a previous post, was stressful as can be. I would plan out the details for my next rehearsal at home (I’m a big time planner, definitely), videotaped the end of every rehearsal so there was no confusion about what we got done, and took copious amounts of notes. I worked my butt off, but it was all a pleasure, because I was committed to getting this to work. I was desperately hoping that my organization, planning and just pure effort would make up for all my shortcomings. The finished product – and the recordings that I have seen of it – make me so proud. I’m not one of those obnoxiously self-assured people, quite the opposite, so I have no way of knowing if I did a good job. But I really like the outcome, that’s enough for now. And this has been the most fun I’ve had performing, ever.

But the shortcomings were there. I learned so much throughout this entire process. For someone who usually hates working in a group, I had my work cut out for me. Yes, I confess at some point I found myself searching online for information about how to be a leader, and especially, how to lead more “dominant” people (for the record, the closest I found to useful information was to give them a task or responsibility). Despite having a carefully thought out plan of what we’re doing, there were some moments when I felt so incredibly overwhelmed. Having a plan and getting people to follow it are not the same thing, I soon learned. I also quickly figured out that being a leader is hard work! There are sometimes difficult decisions that you have to make, or decisions that are easy to make, but hard to inform the person that they affect. In my dance piece I had different parts for different dancers, depending on their skill level (I had everything from brand new beginners, to people who have danced for years, just not ballet, to some ballet experience), and one of the most difficult parts was dealing with people that ummm, overestimate their dancing ability. People that have the confidence, but not the moves – so awkward to tell them that they aren’t getting to dance a certain paet, and dealing with the reactions… I’m a people pleaser, unfortunately, and giving people news they don’t want to hear is very difficult for me. It’s something I struggle with still.
But in the end we did it! And honestly, I would do it again – am I a glutton for punishment, or do I just require tasks that force me to focus and step out of my comfort zone in order to grow? Don’t know, but I know that I feel like I’ve learned a lot, not just about what it takes to put on a show successfully but also about interpersonal interaction and human nature. I value all my lessons.
***
The summer modern session ended as well, and I had a great time throughout. I am so much more comfortable with floor work than ever before. One of the other pieces that I performed in in the show had lots of floor work including falling down from standing or jumps and I was able to do it all (with the help of my trusty knee pads!) and live to do it again the next day. In the modern classes I took a couple years ago (wow – has it really been that long?!) we did more warming up and less across the floor or combinations, but in this summer’s class we got to everything. So sad that this teacher is not going to be teaching modern at my school this fall.
I’m feeling a bit out of practice with ballet. While all the rehearsals and modern classes were going on, I was not able to keep up my ballet practice – I was lucky if I go to do ballet twice a week or so. And during the last show someone landed on my foot, so I’ve been taking it easy for the past week. But today I pulled up Kathryn Morgan’s Advanced Barre on youtube and gave it a try. It was so fun to attempt that level again! Not that I was anywhere close to mastering it, but it felt so good to try. The improvement from the first time trying the new combinations to the second time was actually really encouraging!
But this reminds me, I don’t know which classes to sign up for come fall. I mean, I almost feel like I would like to take the int/adv class again… I’ve taken it before, I was strong enough to be in it last year in the Fall, but I discontinued last Spring. Instead I took beginner class en pointe. While beginner class en pointe was really fun, I don’t know if I was feeling challenged enough. Int/adv is a good challenge, but if I may be honest, I really don’t like some of the people in the class – mean-spirited, stuck-up people – especially when contrasted with the fun atmosphere in the beginner class. The unpleasant people really make the class not fun, especially because I would like to attempt the more difficult options for the combinations (you gotta start somewhere…) but I feel like they are judging me, or staring me down. In short, I don’t feel welcome. And no, it’s not in my head that some of these people don’t like me – one of them was involved in this past show, and as part of the pre-performance we usually all have a group warm up. One of the exercises we did for warm up was walk around and when the music stopped we were supposed to partner with the person nearest us and stretch together, then repeat. Well, at one of the times when the music stopped, this person was right in front of me, closest to me, and she turned around and walked away trying to find someone else (there wasn’t, every one else had paired up). I mention this not to get sympathy but to show that there are some mean-spirited brats out there masquerading as “adults”; often times people like to believe the best in others (“maybe she didn’t see you…” but I was right there) , and I just wanted to prove that this is not in my head or a product of my anxiety. But anyway, haven’t decided yet which class to take – I guess I have a few weeks to figure it out. Also have a about a month to figure out if I will audition for the next show. A lot can happen in a month…

Midsummer

 

This summer i find myself in a unique situation: my school is having a break as far as ballet, but they’re offering modern dance. So rather than just dancing on my own, I’m taking classes, just not ballet. As a result, I’m a bit concerned about losing my technique.
The past two years we had a summer ballet session, four times a week, and I had such a great time. Three years ago there was no ballet, but i didnt take any classes in other dance styles. This year, I’m in modern three days a week ( would have been four, but one of the days interferes with my work schedule, so three it is) for a little over two hours per day. Im doing ballet through New Studio, but only two classes a week, an hour each.

What this results in is more hours per week doing modern than ballet, even if i practice at home, which I’m having trouble doing more than twice or maybe three times a week, both due to time management with work and just sheer soreness. Oh, I didn’t mention that in addition to the six hours a week or modern class i also have about six more hours a week for rehearsals? More modern…
Don’t get me wrong – I find modern class to be lots of fun, and I’m so glad my school at least is offering some form of dance over the summer. It’s just that some things in modern are so different from ballet class that I worry about my muscles picking up some habits that will be the opposite of what we want in ballet. There’s this move we do on the floor laying on our back. We have our knees bent with the feet on the floor, then we let the knees drop to one side and the leg that is now on top swings free. And if you do it correctly your foot completely sickles the whole time, because you’re supposed to trace your toe along the floor not your ankle…it bothers me a little honestly. Alignment is not focused on as much as in ballet, so I have to check myself especially when it comes to not tilting my pelvis anteriorly while standing. I’ve been corrected to flex my foot. My partner in one exercise told me to tilt my upper body forward while doing an arabesque even though I didn’t need to (which kind of annoyed me), just because the teacher said we could. Which reminds me, there is a huge interacting-with-people component here compared to what I’m used to in ballet… and at times that’s just awkward. I understand that I may be a bit antisocial and not like human interaction as much as the next person, but it’s not just talking, but full on body contact – in ballet the most contact was partner stretches at the barre.
On the other hand, I love the warm up exercises, and the teacher plays some really cool music throughout class. We go across the floor a lot and that’s really fun. And while alignment and technique are not focused on, some of those exercises can really try your balance. Stuff like kicking the leg out (I’d call it a grand battement) then bending the knee to make passe (like a turned in enveloppe) while coordinating arm movements. I’ll save the part about how this class would have been impossible back when I first started dance due to my lack of balance…
Only a few weeks left of this class, then a short break before the fall classes begin. Don’t know yet what my schedule is for the fall, or if I will continue with modern. My work schedule so far has worked out that I will only have to miss one of the evening ballet classes and none of the morning ones, but if any changes occur it wouldn’t be the case. And I definitely want to take some cross training Pilates classes as well. But at the same time I dont want to overschedule myself and feel like I’m rushing from one class to work, back to class, run home to cook, back to work, etc… I feel like with my current schedule I’m not getting enough time to just relax, didn’t realize at the time what a big commitment it would be to do this summer modern session, and partucipate in the show, and choreograph.
As for choreographing, it’s been fun, but at the same time so stressful! I’m not used to managing a group of people, and I’m probably about as opposite of a people person as you can get. I fake it really well at work, but let’s face it, interpersonal skills are not one of my strong points. So I find myself with a dozen young dancers and aspiring dancers, and I’m just the idea person but I have to get them to listen to me, and do what I say, and give some effort… the effort part being the most important, the willingness to try. I know that it takes me a long time to get things sometimes, so I try to be patient with people who are a little slow – I know that sometimes slow and steady wins the race. But what I just dont know how to deal with is people who just won’t even try, if you ask them to do a step they say “i’ve never done that” and just stand there instead of “ok i’ll try it”…it can be frustrating. By now I’m kind of just in this weird state of acceptance about it, like it’ll work out the way it works out… i dont want to put too much pressure on myself. It’s been an educational experience for sure. Don’t know yet if I am interested in choreographing again, for a group – for myself it is practically inevitable that I will. But this group thing, it can be stressful… I definitely need to work on my communication skills, it’s hard when I know what I want my dancers to do but I’m unable to communicate with them. Also difficult for me is being able to tell people things they don’t want to hear, and the thought of having to remove some dancers from certain parts (re:lack of trying) fills me with anxiety. I suppose in the end we will see what wins out, my desire to choreograph or my desire to close to my comfort zone.

Wow, Time Flew!

I’ve been neglecting my little blog again… being busy is no excuse – in our own ways we’re all busy – but either way here we are over a month later… I promise I will write an actual post soon, for anyone who’s still around… WordPress glitches a lot on my tablet and that doesn’t help to motivate me haha

Anyway, my school is on break as far as ballet goes, but I’ve taking modern, which is available. I think I may have finally grown comfortable with the floor! Shocking, I know… but I’m really enjoying modern. Then again, my butt is so sore right now!

During this summer break I’m taking ballet at New Studio. Being down to only 2 classes a week from the 6 I was used to is rough, but what can you do.  I’ve been practicing on my own, doing Kathryn Morgan barre and doing strengthening exercises in my pointe shoes. The floor at home is inadequate for center work on pointe (and the floor at New Studio is terrifying even on flat haha), so I’m still debating what to do. Considering ordering some marley to lay over the linoleum, but that might just be craziness, right? I mean, I only got to wait like 7 more weeks ’till classes resume normal schedule.

My school is putting on a show this summer though, and I’m one of the choreographers (as well as dancing). Honstly, I don’t know what I think of it yet – on the one hand I’m super excited, on the other hand I’m so overwhelmed ..like, is this for real? Oh my gosh! So far the rehearsal process has been so fun! I’m doing a hybrid ballet and modern piece and I’m torn between saying it will be amazingly awesome and I have no idea what the hell I’m doing…

And that’s about all I have time for right now. This time I will try harder to get back on here a little sooner…

Long Time, No Write…

Wow, it’s been over a month since the last time I got around to writing on here… life’s been hectic… actually, it’s been really rough the past couple of months, for personal (non-ballet related) reasons. Immersing myself in ballet has kept me sane; so grateful to have something positive to focus my energy on when things around me  seem to be falling apart. It hasn’t been all bad – many wonderful things, both ballet-related and not – have happened, but I’ve also suffered a terrible loss in my family…and I’m still dealing with the very stressful aftermath. I’m still not at the point  that I’m able to discuss it calmly, so I won’t be getting into it on here yet.

Back to discussing ballet…

Good things:

I’ve gotten much better  at remembering combinations, pirouettes are much less scary, and overall I feel more comfortable and balanced.

On the bad side, my turnout still sucks. It’s called  starting ballet for the first time ever when you were almost 30… I will continue to work on the feeling of being turned out – engaging the deep hip rotators – but will I ever have 180 turnout? I’m not betting on it.

Combinations (that I remember):

developpe devant crosse, plie on single leg, tombe into attitude derriere, close. Repeat to a la seconde and derriere, then in a lunge do a circular port de bras/cambre. Then another day we did the same combination, except added on promenades after each of the tombes (one in attitude derriere, a la second, and attitude devant). My promenades have improved so much! This was a big goal for me last year, so I’m feeling so accomplished haha.

developpe a la seconde, fouette to arabesque, fouette back to facing front, promenade a full 180 turn en dehors with the leg extended a la seconde(!), plie supporting leg and pas de bourree, tombe, pas de bourree to the other side, and repeat the whole combination to the other side. Did I mention this was in Beginner class?! What a challenge to promenade with the leg  out in second! I noticed a tendency at first for the leg to come in, somewhere between a la seconde and devant, as I was about halfway through the promenade. But when I applied the correction of using opposition and ‘leading with the leg’, as well as having the leg carry it’s own weight, it became more possible. Fun, even.

in my other beginner classes, the ones I do pointe during, I’ve been feeling pretty challenged, We do plenty of single leg releves (from fifth to retire) in the center, as well as 1/4 (which I attempt, but definitely don’t feel comfortable with yet), 1/2 and full pirouettes (both of these which I don’t attempt yet – I am cautious when doing newer things en pointe away from the barre. I don’t know if what I would call it is “fear” necessarily, it doesn’t feel like the same feeling as back when I started and I was terrified away from the barre. Perhaps it’s just a lack of comfort, or familiarity). I’ve gotten comfortable with pas de bourre en pointe and balancé, pique arabesque, soutenus, as well as chaines, but only to the right on the chaines. I attempt them to the left too, but those need more work….way more work…

A couple of firsts – I took my first jazz class and a booty barre class (I’m aware booty barre is not a dance class, but I was curious and the place I work at lets me take any class for free, so why not). Jazz was so much fun! I’m so glad I let one of my friends convince me to go. My ballet training definitely came in handy, because we did a lot of turning and going across the floor. It was so fun to just pirouette without constantly being corrected on your turnout, haha. At the same time it was challenging because there was a lot more, umm, dancing without being told specifically what to do. I would definitely take jazz class again.   Booty Barre was not a dance class, but there were some hints of ballet  thrown in there as well. I found myself using epaulement when doing the exercises, haha. And the ladies were impressed by how far up I could battement my leg.  I had a blast, but my glutes were burning waaay more than they usually do after ballet… probably means I should regularly attend for the workout.

Our performances are coming up, so I’m a little nervous about that. This year I’m actually doing a solo up on stage (not on pointe, just had to clarify), as well as several small group dances and lots of corps. Actually, all of my performing is on flat, which is kind of a bummer, but what you gonna do…

Until next time, hopefully not too long…

Coming Up With A Title Is The Hardest Part…

Since the last time I wrote on here I’ve had a few really enjoyable classes…

In intermediate, we did this really fun center adagio: developpe croisse devant, cloche  thru to arabesque, go into attitude and promenade with the working leg going into retire by the time the turn is done, and from there developpe out again in ecarte line, bring the foot down into a pique pas de bourre, developpe same working leg in ecarte line, balancé  onto that leg, soutenu, now facing other side, chasse to a fourth position lunge, port de bras/cambre front and back, tendu close, other side. It was so pretty!

We also did tendus to work on our facings: croisse devant, en face, efface devant, close, hold; ecarte derriere, a la seconde en face, ecarte devant, close, hold; efface derriere, en face derriere, croisse derriere, close hold. The confusing part was when we got to derriere, because I wasn’t sure to which side I was supposed to angle my body next, and I ended up doing croisse when it was supposed to be efface. I got it by the last time we did the combination, but it was something I think i should practice more. We do a very similar combination in one of my beginning classes, but in Intermediate it’s about twice as fast – no time to think, just do – which really tries that muscle memory.

In Beginning, we had as center combination of  tombe pas de bourre to both sides, then this new one (to me): tombe backwards, then pas de bourre by closing in front instead of back. It felt weird to tombe backwards, as I’d actually never done that before, but I was so grateful for my improved balance that made it actually do-able and fun.

Also in Beginning we did lots of piques to prepare for pique turns, first at the barre, then in center on flat, then on releve and finally adding the turn. While I enjoyed myself, I was thinking that I would’ve hated to have been an actual, brand -new, several-weeks-into-ballet kind of beginner (like some of my classmates in that class are), which kind of confirms to me that the learning curve expected in these classes is more than I could do with the fitness level – or more like lack of fitness – I had going into ballet. So many of them have a dance, cheer, gymnastics, or sports background  that it is perhaps expected to have such a background, but those of use that didn’t start off with one can really struggle at first. At first, being the operative words – sometimes I feel like my initial struggles did serve to motivate me into working harder, and if so then it was a blessing in disguise.

Speaking of pique turns, I  did my first pique turn en pointe, then I did a few more, but not in a row. What happened was that I started to muscle-memory my way into the second turn, then my brain caught up and I realized what I was doing and when it came time to pique into the turn I just when to demi pointe. I’m annoyed because I think I could have done it, but I wimped out. But at the same time I love it that I actually did a pique turn en pointe! And I piqued onto a straight leg, which I know because an advanced dancer classmate was scutinizing my every move – she even insisted I do it with correct arms instead of just doing nothing with my arms. So far it’s only been to the right, but in general with every thing en pointe for me the left side lags behing the right by about 2 to 3 weeks, like once I become comfortable with something to the right it takes on average for my left to catch up.

I also started working on balancés and pas de basques on pointe. I’m pleased about this because they feel so dance-y and I can start to feel like I know enough steps to put together a dance. Exciting times in my ballet journey!

Since we had break from my regular school, I had the opportunity to go on down to New Studio and take a class there. It was great; the people who showed up that day have been going there for several months so we got a nicely challenging class. Short barre, then right into an adagio in center: developpe croisse devant, close, developpe ecarte, close, developpe to arabesque, rond de jambe the leg back to the front keeping it up the whole time, tendu down to fourth, pirouette en dedans (my fav!). Not only did my adagio-loving self love the combination, but the teacher mentioned that she finds en dedans easier and I was like ‘Yes! Someone understands!’ Haha.

We also did a lot of across the floor. Tombe, pas de bourre, chasse to arabesque, pirouette en dehors, pirouette en dedans, repeat, first at a slower tempo, then in double time. Then lots of waltzing and this really cool combination in which we did a saute arabesque and landed into a balance en tournant, then repeated, all the way around. We went in a circle around the room for this one and it was so awesome, like we were a corps de ballet gliding across a stage. Good times.

***

There is something else that happened that made me happy, but I feel weird just saying it, so first some background: I am extremely socially awkward and have anxiety over it. Like, you wouldn’t believe how socially awkward I am, and I wouldn’t wish this on anybody. You know those situations when two people find themselves in the same place, in each other’s way, and there’s this hesitation/pause, kind of like you’re deciding who gets to go first, and then ultimately you always let the other person go out of awkwardness? Yea, that’s me, pretty much every moment that I come across anybody… (Strangely enough, I don’t have this issue while driving, go figure)

I think I wrote on here over a year ago about how one of the most challenging aspects of ballet is when we come out to center and we have to line up and I struggle with that because I don’t know where to put myself – like I start going for one particular spot but then I think someone else wants that spot and my first reflex is to let them have it, to avoid a “confrontation” (put in quotes because while the intelligent/logical side of my brain knows it’s not, the traumatized/scared side of me thinks it is, and self-preservation, and yea…). Well, now it’s been years of training in ballet – 4 years to be exact – and I still have this issue; I’ll “back down” to people who are brand new beginners. It’s not that I don’t want to be in the front – let’s be honest, I do – or that I don’t know the combination and need someone to follow, because by now I’ve actually gotten decent at memorizing combinations, especially beginner level ones; it’s that I’m terrified of the potential drama, and I feel guilty, like I’m taking someone’s spot. One of my teacher’s said something along the lines of ‘with ballet, you have to stake your territory’ and I felt so depressed because if that’s the case, well, I’m kinda screwed…

Anyway, in one of the last classes I took, we were lining up to do pique turns across the floor. I was ready for the more,ummm, assertive, I guess, people to crowd the front as usual, but then one of my classmates said to me “You should go first – you’re more advanced.”  !!! I can’t even describe how pleased I was! This probably makes me sound like a weirdo (but let’s face it, if you’re still reading you probably already knew that about me) but I felt so validated – like someone has noticed my hard work.  I mean, in a different class I took recently, someone crowded me out of the front and they didn’t even know which leg to start on (and I’m not saying any of this to be mean), and this makes me feel like I’m not taken seriously as a dancer. Like no matter how much I advance I’ll always be the person that gets pushed around… and, being honest, I feel that it has to do with the fact that I don’t *look* like a ballet dancer. So this little moment was very refreshing and still brings a smile to my face,

A Short Update

Surprise, surprise – I actually felt up to writing here again! I’ve been well, at least physically, but you know what?  Things have definitely been worse before, and I will get through this.  While i still feel conflicted and restricted about what I can discuss publicly here, I figured there was no harm in reflecting on things I’ve been improving on…

In no particular order of importance:

— My promenades have really improved. I can actually do some pretty good promenades, both en dehors and en dedans to both sides, even after a slow adagio combination when the legs are sooo tired.  Even more impressive (to me), once,  when I realized I was promenade-ing the wrong direction I was able to fix it and start going the opposite way without losing my balance.  I’ve also gotten much better at weight shifts; we did this combination in center in Intermediate that went something like 3 tendus front, then cloche front, back into a fondue with the foot off the floor, then a pas de bourre ( i think? Or maybe a pique sous-sus, or was that the other combination…?) then reverse, but I was just thinking how before there was no way I could have even balanced during it, and now I’m able to focus on arms and epaulement. Yay!

– I’m beyond consistenly getting around on my pirouettes both en dehors and en dedans, sometimes cleaner than others but in general end with the correct leg in front, foot goes to retire correctly in the front, stuff like that. However…

– spotting; once it was identified that the problem was that I was looking through the thing i was supposedly spotting, instead of at it, that explained a lot, one of my teachers in particular makes sure that I look directly at her, makes sure im not cheating and just doing the head spot motion.  It helps, a lot. In beginning class we’ve been doing lots of chaines, and working on spotting as well.

– I got a correction to keep my chin down on releve arabesque, like at the end of chaines. It’s something I need to work on, to make sure I’m really puling up and notjust lifting my chin. I also confirmed that the rond de jambes en l’air are quick out, slow in.

As for pointe, I’ve been on my own a lot lately.  As you may know (or if you didn’t I guess now you will, haha) my school doesn’t have a pointe class, so I have to wear them during a regular class. At this moment it’s mostly just barre in Intermediate class. We’ve been doing more difficult things, like passe releve with one hand at the barre; pas de cheval a la second closing to sous-sus; balancé away from the barre and pique arabesque back to the barre. While these are all things I practice on my own at my home barre, the challenge in class is that the tempo is quicker (it *is* Intermediate class after all…).

However, I’ve also started going to Teacher’s Beginner class, during which I do pointe for the whole class (I’m also taking 2 other beginner classes without pointe shoes). We do lots of echappes without the barre and I’ve been attempting the chaines en pointe in center. We had a combination with a chasse to releve arabesque and I did it en pointe (but I can’t figure out how to come down for  the pas de bourre, bcause I keep doing a faille instead of a controlled plie down…). I’ve also been working on my pique soutenus and arabesques, in order to keep my leg nice and straight -no bent knees!

 

The Last Few Weeks…

It’s been a hectic last couple of weeks, but I’ve been continuing to take class and dance it up. since I haven’t been very good about taking notes immediatly after class, I’ll just write about whatever things seem especially memorable…

I’ve been wearing my pointe shoes for barre in Intermediate class and it’s been going pretty well for the most part – the combinations are fun but nothing too crazy. There was a combination that ended with 2 pas de cheval a la seconde. The seccond time thru closing up to sous-sus instead of fifth, required that extra push to pointe. 2 combinations involved a quick passe releve, one with a port de bras. I was nervous, but I pulled it off. I’d realized when I asked if I could wear the shoes that some of the combinatons involved passe releve with one hand on the barre, and that motivated me to get over my fear of trying it. I worked  up to it at home by doing something like sous-sus, sous-sus, passe releve, repeat to both sides while facing the barre, then immediately did the same thing with one hand on the barre before I could wimp out. I found it to be much less scary on my right foot (what else is new?) but I was able to do both sides. As of the time of me writing this, I have been able to go up to passe releve en pointe without the barre to both sides, but it’s still not something I would say I’m comfortable with…like it requires a lot of mental preparation and me going ‘ok, here i go’ to myself and taking in a big breath and all that. I keep telling myself that when I first started pointe work this is how I felt about going up to sous-sus with no barre, and that helps. It also helps to just be patient – I mean, I’ve only been en pointe for about 2 and a half months…

Center continues to be super fun – 2 balancés, waltz turn, (tombe, pas de bourre, pirouette) x3, chasse thru into chaines and finish in fourth lunge with nice arms. I love this combination, especially because ever since I went en pointe I’ve completely gotten over my fears of pirouettes in slippers. Like using the amount of force needed to get up and around is no longer terrifying, it no longer sets off warning signs in my brain screaming ‘what are you thinking?! You trying to go flying across the room?’. The thing is, it’s been a long time since I’ve had the capabilities of doing (at least single) pirouttes, but the fear because of those early, out-of-control attempts had held me back for so long… now I feel I’m past that.

Across the floor we’ve been doing (sissone, assemble)x2, saute arabesque, faille, glissade, pas de chat. Other times we do (glissade, assemble)x3, soutenu, repeat, then other side. Both are fun; the assembles are really coming along even on the left side.

In int/adv, barre combinations were mostly crazy fast, but I think it’s not impossible for my current level, just will take more work and focus. I did  catch myself unconciously falling into the incorrect tempo by going along with the classmate in front of me. Once I noticed I was able to stop it and keep from getting distracted.

The thing I’ve noticed I struggle with a lot at barre is the little rond de jambes en l’air, the kind where your leg is out to a la seconde and then you make an oval (but we’ll call it a “rond” anyway)  with your lower leg in the air. I feel like mine look really ugly… our teacher in intermediate was saying to move it out quick and slowly in – or was that out slow and quickly in? Ok looks like I’m going to have to ask her again and maybe write it down immediately this time…

Center in int/adv class is more complex with direction changes, and sometimes faster or changing tempos, but I’m getting better at remembering the combinations in general. Like I mentioned a few weeks before, a thing I struggle with is those little subtle pauses, knowing where they are and where they aren’t. When we’re there in a group doing the combination it can get a little confusing because I don’t know if others aren’t doing anything yet because it’s one of the pauses or because they have forgotten what comes next – you know, that awkward pause when you don’t know which step comes next and you’re waiting for someone else to do something? So when I do the next thing I don’t know if I’m getting ahead or it’s just right…and it can be a little frustrating. Well, whatever – ok, so I’m not a ‘real’ dancer because I can’t just ‘feel the music’, I guess (in some people’s opinion) – so what! I do the best I can, put a lot of time and effort into practicing, I enjoy taking videos of me dancing (ha, am I even allowed to call it that?), and it makes me happy… to me THAT’s real.

We did these pirouettes from second, don’t know if they’re pirouettes a la seconde, but the way they go is we tendu out to second and then do a regular pirouette from there instead of fourth or fifth (not a pirouette with our leg held out to second). I was surprised to see that they were not particularly more difficult, but then it helps that on my own I’ve been practicing going up to releve retire balance from second position (isn’t that cool when I’m able to predict what skills I should be working on ahead of time?)  The most complex part of class was when we had to reverse this combination including tendus, grand battement and chasse then pirouettes and pas de basque. The regular way had grand battements devant and we traveled to the front and did a pirouette en dehors, the reverse had grand battements derriere and traveling backwards with pirouette en dedans. The first time I attempted it I was a little lost, but I managed to figure it out to the right side.

Now, time for some real talk…where to begin…? I’d like to say that I am strongly contemplating letting this blog go. There’s a few reasons why, and I guess I should eleborate (in case anyone’s still reading, if not then at least for myself).

I often worry that the anonimity of this blog has been compromised. While I never posted any face pictures, or my location or what I think are identifying details, I think it’s only a matter of time before someone discovers you, and this makes me feel like I can’t express myself to the fullest. I know there’s this idea that one shouldn’t complain, but sometimes I feel like complaining, darnit! I’m not looking for ‘real’-life drama, so often times I just don’t say what I got to say, but then what’s the point of having a blog?! I have a bad tendency towards people-pleasing and avoiding confrontations, and this leads to me often feeling silenced (not to mention heavily taken advantage of). Yes, what I have to say is often unconventional and unpopular (if not straight-out bizarre to some); yes, some feelings may get hurt – but what about my feelings (they’re in there, I promise, underneath my stoic facade), don’t I have a right to express them in my corner of the web? Aren’t they just as important as everyone/anyone else’s?

Secondy, I wonder that I’ve outgrown this blog? I started this blog as a lonely young woman who was frustrated with just how difficult everything-ballet was; how I couldn’t tendu without falling over half the time, how I’d fall over in grand plies, how I couldn’t balance in releve for longer than a millisecond (and kept falling forward, though I noticed that everyone always assumed that if you fall out of balances you fall back), how I was just so freaking slow to learn anything, the ‘distracting’ bouncing chest (which I will forever be convinced is a problem, even at the amateur level – like why can’t I also wear cute colorful things to class occasionally like everybody else without having to worry that my body will be offending someone’s sensibilities?)  etc. None of the blogs that I came across back then were relatable to my experiences (as a “true” beginner who didn’t take a single ballet class as a child or teen; who had no prior sports/fitness background; who didn’t have the luxury of taking classes with only people in the same age group or shopping around for different schools; who didn’t have a career, or a long list of accomplishments that I could use to console myself with due to my ballet failures [I think to date my main accomplishment has been that I’m still alive, that I survived my abusive and traumatic childhood, and the aftermath, the mess that was the first few years of adulthood, and I’m still here]), so I decided to start my own since I was attempting to track my progress anyway. Many of the comments and emails I have received over the last several years – it’s almost been three years since I started this blog, wow – were from others out there who could relate to my struggles, some of you wrote about how my blog helped you, or made you feel better. And now, well, I don’t feel like that person. Don’t get me wrong, there are still many things that I struggle with, in ballet and in life, but it’s not the same. When I write about how I’m doing well, and progressing en pointe, and taking really challenging classes…I almost feel guilty… like I’m forgetting where I came from… but if I keep dwelling on where I came from and keep reminding myself, then I feel I don’t get to really focus on where I am and where I’m going…

When I first started this blog, I needed this outlet to discuss ballet so I wouldn’t bore and frustrate my now-Husband, but now, I actually know people in ‘real’ life to talk ballet with. At some point last year I realized I wasn’t writing as much because I was actually talking and interacting with people before, during, and after class. While I am still very, very much a shy introverted person, in Beginner classes people actually want to talk to me! This is new, uncharted territory for me, and I’m still adjusting, but I want to enjoy this… which brings me to…

I feel that ballet has given me so much… this has been the first time in my life that I’ve actually progressed at something, that I’ve done something that didn’t come naturally to me and it’s shown me that…I can learn things. I know, sounds rather strange to be saying at my age that I barely discovered that I can learn things, but it’s true. I was raised with the mindset that some people are good at things – or they’re not – and there’s nothing that can be done about it. And for the longest time I believed it – that some are naturally smart, or flexible, or beautiful, or strong, etc. While I now know that this is not completely true (to say the least), it’s one thing to just ‘know’ and another to actually experience it… and I feel that thanks to ballet I have experienced this. I know that if I work really hard and give it my effort – if I really want it – things can be different. This has inspired me to work on other things, in other areas, when before I would have just given up and let things be, just have thought ‘well, it’s because that’s how that person is…’ but now I’m like ‘no, I want to learn to do that too!’. So yes, I do have ballet to thank for that…I don’t know if I would call it confidence, per se, but it is a feeling that I didn’t really know before. So even though in ballet class I’ve had some unpleasant experiences, and met some unpleasant people – though I’ve met plenty of amazing, friendly, and supportive people as well – it’s been a learning experience in so many ways and for that I’m truly thankful.

By this point I realize that I’m rambling…perhaps because there’s things I want to say but can’t (refer to 4 paragraphs ago, re: anonymity or the lack of)…I’m not saying that I’ll never post again, but maybe I’m taking a break? Giving it some space…we’ll see what the future holds.