Tag Archives: anxiety

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…

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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,

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!

Taking Lessons From Ballet Class Out…

… into the “real” world.

No, this post is not about my tendency to strike up a ballet pose at random, or attempt traveling steps the second I have an open area of more than 8ft by 10ft in front of me… though those things have been known to happen quite frequently. Perhaps a misleading title again…

Anyway.

I found myself with some rare extra free time, so I went “hiking”. I put hiking in quotes because, due to curently not having a hiking buddy for safety, my hiking options are somewhat limited; I usually end up on this local-to-me mountain – more of a glorified hill, I suppose – that, while it does have some legitimate hiking trails, the vast majority of people end up on the main trail, which is a narrow paved road. So, it’s more of a steepish uphill walk. But it’s still one of my favorite local places outside of ballet class and my garden – and a great leg workout nonetheless – so today I ended up there.

Where the ballet relevance comes in is my posture while walking. I like to use the opportunity to really focus on my posture, staying pulled up, core held tightly, collarbones open, sternum up, shoulders back, lats engaged, tailbone down, head up – all the things that a ballet teacher corrects on during class. I’ve found that doing this when I’m doing stuff around the home really helps keep the muscle memory more active than just letting it all go the second I leave class. It’s also a sign of progress for me, because back when I first started ballet – and even as late as over a year into my ballet journey – even just standing there pulled up for a long time was a huge challenge. To be able to keep that posture while doing housework and chores would have been unthinkable. I’m getting stronger, hooray!

There’s also the being in public aspect of it. A few months ago, I read this blog post online that basically stated that our posture and body language is a function of our self-esteem – or lack thereof – and that to work on the posture of the body from the outside in, rather than the other way around (work on self-esteem first, posture will follow) was foolish. I have to admit, I had a bit of a knee-jerk reaction against what he was saying. ‘No way!’ I thought, ‘Give me someone with terrible self-esteem and have me train them using Pilates and ballet, and I will get them to stand up straight!’. After all, it’s about having the knowledge of your body and engaging the correct muscles. I mean, before starting dance I didn’t even know I had lats, let alone how to engage them.

Then I did more thinking (yeah, I’m one of those people who overthinks everything, whatever…) and, well, perhaps there’s something to what he was saying. I mean, no, it’s not impossible to train someone with low self-esteem to stand up straight, but there’s more to it than that. I’ll continue to use myself as an example (I don’t know if I (still) have low self-esteem necessarily, but at times I have a hell of a lot of anxiety).

I’ve noticed, and have known this for years now, that even if I consciously choose to stand up straight, when in the presence of someone I perceive as intimidating my body will sort of close itself down. Like, I’m telling it ‘shoulders back, head up’ and I do it, but slowly start shrinking back down. I found something online that said that I’m subconsciously trying to make myself smaller, to appear non-threatening, to not challenge the other person, to avoid confrontation. Which does seem quite accurate, if I must be honest with myself.

So, I’ve been practicing keeping my good posture even when surrounded by people, especially if I feel intimidated. I’m hoping to lessen the anxiety surrounding it, until it eventually goes away completely. Will it work? Who knows, but for now I am showing signs of progress and that’s all I can ask for.

The “hike” reminded me of my old hiking buddy Lindsay (I wrote about her on here before, mostly about how I haven’t told her than I’ve been doing ballet since she moved away because I didn’t want her to tease me about it), and times past before I started ballet-ing. As a weird way of keeping the memory alive, when I came home I took a nice long bath with candlelight and essential oils, totally a Lindsay thing to do. I took a book with me to the bath, Bunheads by Sophie Flack, which I found at a thrift store a couple months ago but hadn’t had a chance to read because homework and chores. Only got about 60 pages in before the timer went off  (I had set the kitchen timer to go off so I didn’t turn into a prune in the bath…), but still, an extremely relaxing time was had.

 

Not Too Intense-ive, Yet

This week I started my near-daily ballet session at my school that will continue for a little over a month (which we’ll call a mini-intensive – my teacher’s words). Since it’s Beginner level class and this is only the first week, it hasn’t gotten too intense yet – mainly a lot of focusing on technique and engaging all the muscles. It’s been a lot of fun though, and I’ve been loving being in class that often, not to mention the extra long length of the classes (2 hours each). Though it’s a really large class size, out teachers (F Teacher and R Teacher) have been good about getting around the room with corrections and personal attention.

Here are some highlights and combinations:

Really nice long barre. The combinations themselves are not really long though, just a lot of them, which I like. I miss going directly to the second side without stopping though. My releve balances at the barre with no hands (all two-footed) were nice and stable, even after quick releves or after 8-8-4-4-2-2-1-1-1-1, which used to tire out my legs so much that balancing was especially tricky.

When we did our rond de jambe combination at the barre, R Teacher complimented my extension in our rond de jambe en l’air, but reminded me that I need to make sure my leg stays turned out (this was my left leg, which tends to lose its turnout slightly in extension – I’m working on it).  I really like the fact that I’m getting adressed personally in corrections, because it’s so much easier for me to know what I need to focus on (which, apparently, is a lot of turnout).

In center, we did ballet walks with coordinating arm (from low fifth, up  to middle and out to second), 3 ballet walks, arabesque balance, repeat. We also did chasses to arabesque across the floor, first leaving the back foot on the floor, then holding it up in the air for a balance.

We had some nice simple tendu combinations, like tendu devant with arm up in high fifth, tendu derriere with arms (not arabesque arm, like I’m used to, but the downstage arm up in high fifth (while the upstage leg tendus derriere), with the head angled like it’s looking under the arm)plie, chasse, other side. Another day we did 2 tendus each devant, a la seconde, derriere, then  2 1/2 soutenus (one to face the back, the other back to face the front again, but not a complete revolution), other side.

Towards the end of the week, out combination was 3 ballet walks,  tendu devant croisse, tendu devant en face, tendu devant efface, fondu a terre, tombe, pas de bourre, tendu a la second, 1/2 rond de jambe to arabesque.

We did walks across the floor combined with a couple chaines, alternating the walks and the chaines.  Then we did chaines across the whole studio. The right side went ok, though I was really dizzy by the time I got to the other side of the enormous studio. The left side we did twice (don’t know if that was intentional or not, since my line accidentally went twice in one of the other across the floor combinations), and during the first time F Teacher said “Good!” (and then, of course, I lost focus and started messing up. But it was nice anyway). During the second time I was either tired or something, because by the middle of the way across the floor I was done.  I mean, I still held it together to get across, but my turns were wobbly and I was having trouble spotting. Other than this last time across my spotting was actually not too bad, so I just have to learn to do more turns in a row.

Sautes went ok. We’ve been doing the basic sautes in first, second, echappes and changements. No petit allegro yet (thankfully).

In general, I’ve noticed that I’ve gotten much better at remembering combinations. Granted, the combinations we’re doing are not of the extremely long and complicated variety, but still, I’m doing much better than a few months ago. This is an area that I needed lots of improvement in, as I used to have a tendency to be too busy freaking out about what the combination entailed – and, will I fall over? – to be trying to memorize it. This may be one of those things that get easier over time, sort of on their own. Even though I feel somewhat guilty for admitting this, because I feel like I should have been doing something actively to improve, I haven’t been doing anything to improve at this. Well, other than not freaking out about it…

Other thoughts:

These classes are of the type that have a dress code and everything, and it’s been kind of nice taking class in a room full of people wearing leotards and tights. Especially since at the two other studios I go to the attire for the adult ballet classes tends towards the laid back side more than the ballet-ish – yoga pants and T-shirts being much more common than leotards and tights. Even in Intermediate class at my stricter school (where I’m taking this Beginner session), the dress code is much more lenient, and towards the end of my last session I was going along with leaving a pair of leggings on over my leotard and tights.  Sometimes I want to be in “uniform”, it makes class extra special – I mean, I dance around my kitchen in sweats everyday anyway.

Another thing, that I didn’t mention previously,  was that I was feeling high amounts of anxiety over the weekend before the ballet session started. I knew I was going to go anyway (because it’s an amazing deal that I knew I couldn’t pass up), but I was totally freaking out about … I don’t know … I guess seeing some of the same people from school, and what if the vibe of the class was too intimidating. Pretty dumb, because by now I’ve pretty much established that the Beginner class usually has a laid back group. The good news is that at some point I recognized that I was being irrational. I still didn’t know what to do about it, but then I started playing with my hair and put it up in a silly hairstyle, then imagined going to class like that, and the reactions I would get. That seemed to take the intimidation out of it, and by the time the first class came about I was feeling much less anxious.  I think I’m going to try that one whenever I start freaking out.

Introvert-Girl Problems

One of my ballet teachers once said something about ballet attracting the quiet people, the shy people, introverts. And perhaps she is right –  after all, the chatter heard from dance students of other forms of dance seems much more boisterous than from the ballet students (I’m specifically thinking of the jazz class that has the studio before my ballet class, or the hip hop class that was in the studio before my ballet class a couple sessions ago). So yes, she is right, to an extent. Yes, those of us who are quiet and shy may gravitate towards ballet, but this definitely does not mean that all ballet students fall into the quiet and shy category either.

As I may have mentioned once or twice, I am an introvert.  Being introverted, combined with having anxiety, being socially awkward,  and somewhat emotional can make things – sometimes everything – complicated. I feel extremely uncomfortable in group conversations (though 1 on 1 conversations work much better for me), shy away from eye contact, and seem to have a much larger personal space bubble than others. I’m prone to tearing up, suck at picking up social cues, and often times I’m terrified that others are upset at me.  Those who are the closest to me have said that I build a wall around myself, and they’re somewhat right. What they don’t seem to understand is that I do it not because I’m upset or angry but because I’m afraid of being hurt. Again.

You can imagine how much fun my teen years were… *sarcasm*

Anyway, one of the things I like about ballet class is that there’s not a huge emphasis on it being a social occasion. I mean, once class starts it’s expected that we’ll all shut up and give our undivided attention to the teacher.  The pre-class period though, when everyone is kind of sitting around sort of stretching while waiting for the teacher to arrive, that is the worst. I mean, there’s some days when I have a ballet friend, another quiet-ish girl like me who’s content to warm up off in the corner, as we quietly discuss the latest happenings in our ballet lives. But when there’s no one there that falls into my “ballet friend” category, yeah, those days suck…

(why can’t I make any other/additional ballet friends, you might ask? Well, for whatever reason, most – though definitely not all – extroverts scare the crap out of me (plus they tend to prefer groups to one on one like I do). In turn, they seem to think there’s something wrong with me because I’m so quiet. “Why are you so quiet?” or “What’s wrong?” I’ve heard dozens of times. It’s like, nothing’s freaking wrong! I’m just thinking!)

Those ballet-friendless days, the pre-class period is so awkward for me, as (mostly) everyone sits around talking.  I used to never know what to do! Now I just go off to a spot as far away as possible and warm up, facing the wall. I worry that they all think I’m unfriendly – or worse, stuck up – but in truth I’m just scared.  Everytime I’ve tried just sticking around and being part of the group it really hasn’t worked out for me – I just don’t know what I’m supposed to do! Like, just sit there and smile? Laugh when everyone else laughs? Look down at the floor and pretend there’s something fascinating there? It doesn’t help that we don’t seem to have much in common, besides ballet. They talk about things like clothes (but not ballet clothes), hair/hairstyles (but not ballet-specific hairstyles), t.v. shows (not ballet related, but by now I think you get the picture), and other non-ballet things.  Sometimes without participating I like to listen, other times I’m bored out of my mind so then I escape to my own world – welcome to Kit-land; population: me!

Despite growing up feeling like there was something wrong with me, I do like my introvertion.  I just wish there were more of us out there, or there was an easier way for those of us that are shy and quiet to befriend each other.  When both people are shy it’s hard for one of them to make the first move, you know? Like last year, I shared a barre in silence with another quiet girl until we finally became ballet friends near the end of the term – all that wasted time!

Wrapping up with a funny and completely non-ballet-related story about my introvertedness: when I was five or six, my mom invited over a small group of girls my age to have a playdate of sorts with me. She left us in my room, then went off to the kitchen to prepare dinner. When she checked on us, she found all the girls playing in my room with my toys while I sat quietly in the living room with a book by myself. She was so mad (and I felt like such a disappointment to her)! I tell this story because I feel like I’ve come a long way, to be able to accept and love my introverted nature instead of feeling like it’s something wrong with me. We’re all just different, with different strengths and weaknesses, and there’s plenty of room for all types of people. 🙂

Wednesday Class: Fun, Fun, Fun!

As I’m still on Spring break and there’s no class schedule conflicts, I was able to take Wednesday evening class at Adults-Only Studio.  I realized how much I miss going to this place. It was so much fun, and the difficulty seemed a little higher than the last few times I’d been there (which is a good thing), but to be fair it’s been a couple months.

At first I did feel pretty anxious, as there was a bunch of brand new people – and by “a bunch” I mean it was a full class, about a dozen people.  I was the only one in a leotard and tights. While I feel the most comfortable taking class in a leotard and tights – and the one time I tried taking class without my “uniform” I felt so unballet-ish – I also feel awkward being the only one wearing them.  Like I take myself too seriously or something… like a “hey, this is basic-beginner ballet class – what, you think you’re auditioning for an intensive/performance or something?” kind of feeling. I really don’t like that feeling… (and I’m still learning trying to learn the concept of “don’t notice anyone else, and just do you”. It’s hard, I tell you!  Damn this anxiety! (Seriously, if someone gives me (what I perceive to be) a mean look I can feel myself shrinking back into myself – which is really counter-productive if you’re trying to do ballet and appear “taller” and specially “confident”, LOL))

Anyway (enough about my personal problems).

We did plies with one arm at the barre, full port de bras including cambres.  I love how it was in this class ( a few months ago) that I learned than when you cambre away from the barre in second your arms go through middle fifth on the way back.  When I took IC I’d seen that that was, in fact, how the more advanced students do it, and I was pleased that I had known that. I’d forgotten about the super long balances (and I mean long it feels like half a minute!) we do in releve at the end of the barre combinations in this class.  Thanks to my back/core, I was staying fairly steady, even when not warmed up yet.

After the super slow tendus facing barre we did tendus en croix with full port de bras. This was nice – the times before that I’d come to Evening Class (EC?) we’d only kept the arms in second so it was nice to get to use them.  This was actually more advanced than what we’ve been doing so far in BC (where we’re still not using the arms with our tendus at barre), and so fun.  I’d forgotten though that E Teacher’s combinations often include 4 tendus (or degages, or battements) instead of 3, so I was getting a little confused when going a la seconde. I mean, I know that when it’s an even number you don’t switch on the first one and when it’s an odd number you do, but I guess I’d gotten used to operating purely on muscle memory.  By the time we turned around to do our other side I had gotten the hang of it, sort of.  For sure by the time we did degages en croix with arms. We balanced both in passe flat and passe releve.  I’m still not up to putting my arms in middle (or high) fifth for the passe releve balance, but I’m easing into it by having a super light touch on the barre.

For our rond de jambes combination, we did 2 slow rond de jambes and then 3 quicker (en dehors), 2 slow and 3 quicker (en dedans), then cambre forward and back, then  angle towards the barre, tendu back leg (the one that had been the inside leg) and fondue front leg into to a lunge position, then cambre forward and bring both arms up in high fifth and cambre back, recover and balance in 2nd arabesque.  This combination was so fun! Loved it! Wish we would do more stuff like that in BC…

Then it was time to stretch, which is not really lead, we just kind of do our own thing. I always take the opportunity to do my pretty leg-up-on-the-barre-and-cambre-towards-and-away stretches from BC, plus some en ballancoire leg swings to loosen up the hips.

We then did this combination that was kind of a fondue developpe (as in, we developped, but starting from a bent supporting leg) en croix with arms. We didn’t stop after the first side, but closed to fifth, did releve sous-sus, soutenu, and other side (see, it’s that higher difficulty stuff I was talking about). Then we did frappes facing the barre, just a la seconde.

For our grand battements en croix w arms we also did a soutenu and other side without stopping. At least by this point I was remembering that we were doing 4 to each side, and to close back in front after my first one a la seconde. I was also remembering to keep my back/core engaged to not let my upper body slump forward when battement-ing to the front.

In center we did the tendu a la seconde, close and plie,  passe releve balance, other side, then repeat with pirouette (from fifth en dehors) instead of the balance. My pirouettes sucked – what else is new? – but I was able to recover from the failed pirouettes in time to do the other side without messing up the timing too much.

Then we did a really fun combination: glissade 3x (towards the right, right foot stays in back), pas de bourre, other side (now left foot stays in back). I think I really enjoy doing glissades – well, at this speed, not like that crazy glissade-assemble combination we were doing (more like I was attempting to do) in IC.  When I first started ballet, and for the first year or so, I couldn’t do glissades at all ( a combination of not being able to balance and my legs being too weak to push off with just one leg) so I do feel a bit accomplished doing them. Pointy, pointy feet!

And for across the floor we did  step and  jete.  It was much easier with the right leg in front, but fun either way. Then we did reverance, which I was sort of able to mimic correctly what E Teacher was doing.

So yeah, I had a super fun Wednesday evening! 🙂