Tag Archives: ballet and big boobs

Why “ballet and/or bust”?

This is kind of a random ramble…

A recent comment sort of reminded me of something that I’d been thinking about recently. I’d been thinking about the name and focus of this blog. In fact, I’ve been sort of pondering changing it, but not getting around to it, and then changing my mind, and back and forth. Reason is, sometimes I wonder if it’s still relevant to my story. I guess I should back track a little…

Back when I first started ballet-blogging (june 2014), I was in a different place than now – both literally and metaphorically. I’d been ballet-ing for a little over a year at that point, and was super discouraged. Besides the fact that I wasn’t very good at ballet, I also felt… how should I put this… ummm… externally discouraged.  I hadn’t had a very good class experience with the last session of ballet I’d taken, and felt like I was it was hopeless. I hadn’t really met a ballet teacher that was accomodating to my slowness at learning (if anything, the opposite), and I was really beginning to feel like doing ballet may not be for me (as in, I felt like others were disapproving of my choice to do ballet). But at the same time, I was doing it, so then that means it could be for me, right?

If I’d been blogging just a few months prior, it would have just been a blog full of rants (and I know – I have journal entries in my private journal that chronicle my experiences while taking that session). I was having a really hard time keeping up in class at times (especially considering how long I’d been doing ballet for), and, since I’d seen how much stronger my legs had gotten in that year or so, I blamed my lack of progress on my chest. It did seem as though that was the issue – after all, when someone falls off balance, teachers would assume that they would fall backwards, whereas I would always fall forward. I struggled with balancing for quite a long time actually, and didn’t get a reliable two-legged releve balance until around the time I’d been doing ballet for two years. In the end, the culprit turned out to be my previously weak back and core. So, although perhaps the heaviness of my boobs was the immediate cause, it was completely fixable with time, practice, and lots of conditioning cross-training work.

My point is, as a commenter reminded me, the stronger you get, the less your body’s shape gets in the way of progress. I’ve experience it firsthand, so I know it’s true. I mean, yes, sometimes progress will come slower than for someone who has less weight being carried around in certain places (and I remember how pissed I was back in first ballet session when a guy had referred to breasts as “weight”, lol. I totally get – in a dancing context – what he meant, though at the time it was perceived as rudeness by my new-to-ballet ears), and walking around  while carrying a heavy purse is enough to remind anyone of this fact (or to experience it for yourself, if you happen to not be one of us who is carrying around extra padding in certain areas). In fact, it was my discomfort at carrying my purse while standing in the same place for long periods of time that reminded me that I was going to ramble about this subject. Simply put, the closer the body’s weight is distributed to the body’s midline, the easier it will be for that person to balance. Some of us have to work harder. (I should mention at some point: since I didn’t watch much ballet before I started doing ballet, I had absolutely no idea about what body types can usually be found in ballet, or why, or anything like that.)

But, it’s not impossible. It certainly doesn’t get in the way of me doing ballet. And, even though it may not seem so obvious to some, this is a huge deal for me. I’ve never really discussed this on the blog, because it’s personal-ish and embarassing, but for years and years I hid my body in enormous baggy sweaters, ashamed of my body. If someone had told me that I would be comfortable one day prancing around in public in a skin-tight garment and nothing else with my chest I would have said they were out of their mind. I was way too embarassed of drawing attention to myself, or hearing innapropriate or mean comments, or getting stared at. I effectively put my life on hold for years while I hid and watched everyone else live their life. (Of course, other factors that I won’t get into played their part as well, but the body issues were deifinitely a big part.)

I am so grateful that due to ballet I’ve become so much more comfortable with my body. This ease in movement, this lack of self-conciousness, has been amazing.  Not that it’s always perfect, or that I have a completely healthy relationship with my body – I don’t – but the simple freedom of feeling like I can leave the house without a heavy coat in summertime is something I never had expected to experience.

So, is the fact that I am top-heavy relevant when it comes to my ballet adventures? Yes and no.  While the physical aspects – holding balances without toppling over and such – have improved so much, there are things that happen here and there that remind me that yes, it certainly is still relevant. Thigs like going to the dance store and having people just unabashedly stare at me, and my chest, as I do my shopping. It’s not even the kids, but their moms, which is really irritating – like, great way to teach your kids by example how to behave. Or not being able to easily find dancewear that fits without feeling like it’ll rip off any second. Or when the more immature dance students in my classes make comments, or if I take class with people I’ve never taken class before, and before we start I feel their eyes on me, like they’re sizing me up. I realize I don’t look like the typical ballet student, but at least once we start our barre work I can prove that I am just as serious as the next dance student.

Anyway, ramble over (for now) 🙂

Advertisements

Getting (Somewhat) Comfortable…

So, I’m still taking class (Adult Ballet, no level specified) at New Studio, my third week there now, and class is as challenging as ever.  However, I think I’m starting to get into the groove a bit.  Or at least with all the stuff I’m messing up on I somewhat have an idea of why or how I’m messing up… and that’s good, right? I figure it’s improvement to be able to at least recognize what the issue is.

As far as barre goes, I’m starting to get the hang of the general pattern barre combinations go in this class. The port de bras is different from what I’ve gotten used to in all my other classes, more… I don’t know… dramatic. In all my other classes we would just do arms in high fifth or a la seconde at barre,  but here there’s definitely more going on.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s absolutely beautiful to look at, it’s just been giving me a bit of trouble.  But like I said, I’m starting to feel much less lost. I also get confused because when we fondue or developpe devant, our arm opens out to second instead of high fifth, and that’s taking me more to get used to than I would have imagined.  And the tempo for our plies is so fast! While the slow plies we did in summer session were a heck of a workout (and I think my turnout muscles definitely grew), I’m now finding it hard to stay on timing with these quick ones.

At the end of each barre combination we take a long balance on one leg and NS Teacher comes around and gives some very hands on corrections, which I really like.  Hands on corrections are the best, in my opinion, because sometimes I hear a correction and think I’m applying it but my interpretation of it and what my teacher wanted are not the same thing. With hands on corrections there’s no room for ambiguity, and that helps me a lot.

The barre stretch portion of class is pretty hardcore as well. After we plie and bend towards the leg, NS Teacher has us lift the leg off the barre 8 times before finally having us just hold it up on the ninth count and then bring it to arabesque.  It’s challenging, but I’ll bet it really helps with the leg strength.  Last class I took though I noticed that everyone else uses the high barre for their stretches (except for me). That motivated me to start using the high barre when I stretch at home. Perhaps I was just being lazy? I mean, I am able to stretch with the high barre, it doesn’t hurt or anything, so perhaps I should be pushing myself harder instead of just coasting by in the comfort zone.

Now, as for center combinations, they are challenging! Or is it that it just seems that way because of the port de bras? I don’t think I have done any correctly all the way yet… but I do feel like I’m getting closer that when I first started coming here.  I do feel a little alarmed when she says 2 at a time for across the floor. The worst part is that there’s not enough room in the back to mark the combination extensively before it’s my group’s turn.  This usually results in a mess, lol.  There’s one thing that’s been going through my mind though: I’m so glad that this class is not the level I started at when I was brand new to ballet. While my across the floor combinations need work, at least by this point I don’t often fear losing my balance on basic moves.  I mostly need to work on timing, remembering combinations, and the (unfamiliar)port de bras.  And pirouettes, of course. When going to the left I keep switching to en dedans pirouettes instead of en dehors beacuse the tempo is just so quick that I do what comes more instinctively.

Last class we did an extended petite allegro – lots of jumps! One of the combinations we did  8 sautes in 1st, echappe to 2nd and 8 sautes in 2nd, 8 changements, then brush out (I guess like a very small glissade that doesn’t travel?) and petite jete x2, and 3 quick jetes, then whole thing again to the left. Next we did a combination  with  8 changements en face, 8 changements while turning to the right (8 changements = 1 revolution), 8 en face, and 8 changements while turning left.  Since in the past I’d done only 4 changements per revolution, I completed my turn way too fast. However, I was super proud of myself that I didn’t run out of breath during the whole petite allegro segment (though I suspect I was not on tempo by the end).  

Also, it was a bad idea to wear my spaguetti strap leotard – now I remember why i don’t wear it to my regular classes with a dress code. During the middle of my changements I had to adjust it really quick because I was scared everything was going to pop out! But that was pretty awkward, and I worried everyone noticed in the mirror when I hastily yanked up the top of my leotard.  I resisted the urge to adjust during the second combination, but I was pretty anxious about it.

After class, NS Teacher spent some time after class going over the across the floor combination with a few of us, and I actually did some decent almost-pirouettes (from fourth). Meaning, I got around all the way, kept my foot in passe (retire) devant for the whole revolution – the only thing missing was that perfect landing with the arms in arabesque and the leg stretched out behind me.  Also, and this is somewhat of a big deal for me, when we tried the combination for her I actually didn’t mess up in the freezing up way I do when I know for sure a teacher is watching. She even said “Good!”.  I tend to freeze up and make a big mess of things when it’s my turn and I feel on the spot, so this is a big step for me. It made me wonder if I’m actually feeling comfortable in this class…

Don’t know yet if I’ll still be going here for class once semester starts. I’d like to (since I’m starting to feel at home, and all), though if I do, and still go to Adults Only studio,  I’ll be taking class 6 days a week – wow!  Last year I never would have dreamed that I could even have the possibiity of taking class six days a week! New Studio is much more affordable than Adults Only studio, but I love how in Adults Only studio we get to drill the basics in basic beginner class.  Well, we’ll see what my schedule looks like once the semester starts, but I am excited about the ballet opportunitites.

In other news (home practice), I totally did a royale! I was praticing soubresauts, and I remembered that F Teacher had said that a royale was just a soubresaut that changes feet before landing.  While doing my soubresauts I was feeling pretty strong, and I was really enjoying the feeling of my thighs coming together in mid air, like jumping up into a tight sous-sus. So I decide to just go for a royale and I did it! Then did it like eight more times just to believe it was really happening. Still no luck on an entrechat though… (Funny ballet history factoid: King Louis XIV invented royales because he couldn’t do entrechats… they even named them after him! )

Tuesday Class: Rough Starts, Good Endings…

Had another great class, though it did get off to a rough start.  It wasn’t until about 15 minutes before class that I realized that I had not packed my extra sports bra (I could have sworn I grabbed it, but apparently I packed the wrong thing), which was making me not look forward to the jumping part of class. Also, my favorite – and enormous – bathroom stall was occupied so I had to change into my ballet gear in the most cramped quarters ever.  By the time I made it into the studio quite a few of the students were there, though the barres were not set up yet. I wasted no time in setting up a barre at my favorite mirror spot. Chatted with my barre-mate about the possibility of taking Summer class…

Barre started easy enough: two demi plie with arm in low fifth going up to demi-seconde, then eleve and open arm, grand plie bringing the arm all the way down, and cambre, in first, second and fifth. We also did the circular cambre port de bras that either is done right and looks awesome and is done wrong and looks terrible, at the end.  Tendus combination was a little trickier. Mostly becaus it involved a lot of flexing the foot when out in tendu and tenduing only to demi point first (to work on foot articulation, I guess).  It also serves to make sure we are really on our supporting leg and not using our tendu foot as a “kickstand” as Teacher says, I suppose.

Rond de jambe combination was sort of complex. We did 4 rond de jambes en dehors, fondues, then balance in 3rd arabesque, 4 rond de jambes en dedans, fondues, balance with leg out in front and arm in high fifth, close, releve sous-sus, soutenu and other side.  It was fun, though the girl on the next barre over and I kicked each other’s foot during the rond de jambes.  I love how ballet class is all you-don’t-say-anything-and-just-keep-going about little accidents like than, because it seems so different compared to how it seems people are quick to react over little things like that in the  “real world”. Or something…

The hardest part of barre was definitely the 8 echappes without holding the barre and a long balance out in releve a la seconde before finally coming back down.  It felt wobbly and  unstable, but could have been worse.

Wrapping up barre, we did the partner developpe stretch. We were holding on to the barre behind us, then developpe as high as we can and have our partner guide our leg up even higher, as high as we can. The they would let go and we would try to hold it up there for as long as possible.  Besides devant and a la second, we also did derriere, having our partner push up our leg as we went to penchee arabesque.  I think I can get my legs up higher now than the last time we tried this, especially my left leg which is usually tighter and less flexible.  After this, as we had our water break before center, a couple of the students asked me about my stretching routine. Do I stretch everyday? “Yeah, kind of. Like 5 days a week?” How long have I been stretching? “Since starting ballet two years ago.” I also made sure to mention than I’m not naturally flexible, that as a kid I couldn’t even touch my toes.  It’s been hard work every step of the way. I’ve always been more impressed by people who’ve worked hard to accomplish something as opposed to having a facility for it.  Perhaps because it makes it seem like anything can be possible if you just work hard enough/want it bad enough, and sometimes I need to think something reassuring like that…

Teacher had everyone go along the wall barre practicing steping out from a pique on to a passe releve.  Pique out the right leg, put right foot down in demi point, left leg in passe (and then the opposite to the other side of course). But she had a couple of the students from IC do pique turns instead – and she had me join them! I instantly wished that I’d practiced pique turns more recently than last weekend, but they went ok. At least to the right.  My spotting to the left still needs work, though I did manage to pique turn across the whole huge studio. I still believe pique turns are a million times easier than pirouettes.

We went over the balance, step to arabesque, pas de bourre, other side combination.  Teacher wanted us to work on bringing our arabesque leg up even higher.  That made balancing harder, of course. Something to work on at home…

While sautes seem to continue improving, changements are still leaving much to be desired.  My feet frequently land in the wrong place, or I land a good 6 inches to the side of where I took off from.  After this we did a new jumping combination. We jumped out to second, then pas de bourre three times total, then pas de chat twice, then start the whole thing to the left.  It was fun to attempt, but as I’m still lacking in speed it wasn’t looking too good. It reminded me a little of one of the combinations from IC, and I think I did do a better job at it than I did when taking IC a few months ago. And, to my surpirse, I completely forgot about the missing extra sports bra…

Then it was time to practice ballet running.  Since I was missing my second sports bra there was quite a bit of bounceage going on, but since we were all running at the same time I felt camouflaged.  Teacher told us to make sure our arms were not wobbling whele we ran, so it was nice to work on the stuff I can control and keep from bouncing. It did feel a little silly to be running around in a circle.  It wasn’t until hours after class when I realized that when Teacher has kept mentioning that we were running like a corps de ballet she actually meant this as a serious exercise.  I think I’d had a dumb grin on my face the whole time we were running.

We did the 4 chasse gallops, ballet run for four counts and pas de chat combination.  Teacher didn’t correct me on pointing my feet during the chasse gallops, so hopefully that means I was doing them right. They did feel strong though, and I could actually feel the part where the ankles touch in sous-sus in midair.  It was as good a way as any to end class (though you know how much I love reverance)…

Only one more class left in the semester.  Sad 😦

Tuesday Class: Sniffle, Sniffle, Plie, Plie

Despite coming down with a monster of a cold over the weekend (which practically had me bed-ridden for a day) that I’m still fighting off, I managed to make i through Tuesday’s class without too much trouble – or coughing or sniffling.   And it was a pretty awesome class, if I do say so myself…

Before our plies we did this exercise facing the barre that we would do in IC: slow tendu (from first), close in plie, slow tendu, flex, point.  I think this was so we could work on our foot articulation especially.  After than we did our plies with full port de bras and cambre front and back, and circular cambre after going through plies in all feet positions.

For the first time in the semester we did our tendus on croix from fifth with arms! It was pretty cool, though the newer students were a bit confused about the arms.  After going through the tendus en croix twice, we balanced in releve sous-sus, my favorite – and most stable – releve balance.  During the combination Teacher came around and said “I want to see you working in fifth, not third. I think you can definitely close in fifth.” It was a good correction, I was like ‘It means she believes in me!’.

(Around this tiime Teacher gave us a lecture on ballet class etiquette: some of my fellow under-the-weather students were leaving the barre mid-combination and then returning also mid-combination (which honestly, surprised me, as in I know better.)  Teacher said “You must wait until the combination is done to return to the barre.”  At this point I realized that I have actually absorbed quite a bit of ballet class etiquette in my 2 years of ballet, and I had a quick reminiscence of how intimidating it is to be a brand new ballet student and not know any of these sometimes unspoken rules.)

Before going on to degages with and without hands on the barre, Teacher had us partner us and do this exercise where our partner holds down our foot by the instep and we’re supposed to “push” their hand off with the force of our degage, to help us to learn to use the strength in our feet. My partner commented/complimented me (well, I’m taking it as a compliment 🙂 ) on my feet and how strong both they are (I guess some people have drastically mismatched feet), though she did say that on the way back in I have to relax my foot so that I have that much power available to me for the next degage.   I was still thinking ‘Yay! My feet are strong!(Thank you, theraband!)’  and this girl is en pointe, so I presume she knows about what’s consdered strong for feet.

The degages themselves felt very stable as far as balancing, even without the barre, and I did try to work on the whole relaxing the foot when coming back in thing. I think I put so much effort on the pointing while in the air part that I tend to forget to relax when the foot makes contact with the foot again.

We did rond de jambes a terre and en l’air with passe releve after each side (like after going en dehors for our rond de jambe en l’air, we closed back to plie and passe releve going up the back of the leg, then bring the foot back down to do rond de jambes en dehors and after that on en l’air whe closed front in plie and passe releve up the front of the leg.)  Something that I’m tryng to work on (since I heard Teacher give this correction to someone else), is making sure the ankle of my supporting foot doesn’t pop up before the working foot, when I passe releve from a plie.  I think I may have gotten this bad habit back about a year and half ago when I first started working on passe releve at home and I barely had the strength to releve on one leg.  Now that I’m much stronger, I can passe releve without a plie (would that be a passe eleve instead?), and keep my working foot’s heel down until the working foot has started going up, but when starting from plie I still subconsciously feel like I need the leverage I guess. I’m working on it…

After a nice long barre stretch, including foot-in-hand stretches and some leg swings we put away the barres for center.

Once again we did our grand battements devant with arms in high fifth and passe releve, then grand battements derriere and passe releve.  The way it was different this time from previous classes was that we didthe same working leg for both devant and derriere before doing the other leg devant and derriere.  It felt a little bit trickier this way. Also, when closing the battements we didn’t stop at tendu but closed all the way to fitth, which also makes it trickier (though I think it also means that I was relying too much on the tendu part).  Overall though, my grand battements in center – yes, even derriere – are absolutely amazing compared to last semester, so I’m feeling pleased about that.

After that, we swiched lines, and I found myself in the front line to do our 4 balancés (with arms), step to arabesque, pas de bourre, other side combination.  We went at a nice slow tempo, so I really enjoyed this combination.  While the arms coordination is really coming along, I’m still mystified by that “lean” to the side that some (I guess, more advanced) people do when doing their balances, the one that makes it look much more ballet-ish.  I think since I can actually do balancés without tipping over it’s something that I should try to start working on…

Chaines went ok. I think I’m starting to form muscle memory about holding my arms up in front of me with my lats, and in turn (pun?) it’s really helping me with my stability.

My sautes were not the best this day. In my defense, I was/am still getting over a cold, and I even told Teacher before class that I may have to end up sitting out the more strenous part of class (but I ended up sticking it out).  I’ve noticed that I actually jump pretty high, but I really have trouble with staying in timing, and of course, pointing my feet.  After  regular sautes in first we did a 4 changements, echappe, 4 changements, echappe combination which was fun (but was I out of breath or what!).  I managed to have the correct foot in front, so that was nice.

After that we worked on ballet running – ugh.  I do NOT enjoy ballet running at all.  It is so hard – like, how do I run while pointing my feet, while slightly bending my back leg (but not the front), while keeping my head at the same level? Not to mention that the whole time my chest is going bounce-bounce-bounce and it’s so awkward with my arms out in second like ‘Hey everyone, look over here at the place where I most definitely want to avoid attracting attention!’. I think ballet running is arguably more awkward than sautes, and I used to think sautes were bad…

We finished up class with 4 chasse gallops (arms in third), ballet run (only for 4 counts though, arms in second) and saut de chat with arms in high fifth.  This was much more enjoyable than just straight ballet running.  I like how I’ve finally figured out how to point my feet while chasse galloping.

Teacher announced that there would be no class on Thursday, so the rest of the week I’ve been on my own practicing.  Since we’ve been working on passe releves quite a bit, both at the barre and in center, I wonder if next week will be when we start doing pirouettes.  Hopefully it will go better than last semester…

Tuesday Class: When It Picks Up A Little…

Had a pretty good class.  I’d forgotten how much more fun BC is during the second half of the semester!

We did a different port de bras for plies, the one I found so confusing last semester (starting from arm out in second, stetch out the hand and arm(like if doing a grand plie) when going down for the first demi plie, bring arm to low fifth when coming up from first demi plie, bring the arm to middle fifth (first?) when going down for second demi plie, open arm out to second when coming up from second demi plie,), and it was so much easier this time around, like second nature.  Yay, progress! Teacher didn’t come up behind me and shift my pelvis into correct position, so I’m taking that as a good sign as well. When we  balanced at the end of the plies combination I felt as though my balance was a little better than last class as well.

Which reminds me, Teacher made a remark about how it’s better to fall forward than fall back when balancing.  I would love to ask clarification on this (since I usually fall forward when I go off balance, rather than back), but honestly I would not like it to turn into an awkward movement.  It often feels like my chest is the elephant standing in the corner of the studio, the thing that must not be mentioned  or acknowledged in any way…

New – still pretty basic,but slightly more challenging – tendu combination.  From first, en avant, a la seconde, and derriere 2 tendus, third tendu flex the foot before pointing it again and bringing it back in. After tendu derriere, we tendued devant and closed fifth, tendu a la second and close fifth derriere, tendu derriere and close fifth, tendu a la seconde and close first. Repeat in en dedans direction.  I liked how it was slightly more complex than our usual BC tendu combinations, but not a super fast speed like in IC.

We did a long rond de jambes a terre and en l’air combination, going both en dehors and en dedans twice.  After the rond de jambe en l’air, we would bring our pointed foot down to the floor out in tendu, close in plie, and then rise up to a passe releve “balance” (in quotes since I don’t think a single one of us let go of the barre).  We worked on passe releve at the barre quite a lot, actually – which you know means that we were going to be doing plenty of that in center.

Finishing up our barre, we did more of those fun foot-in-hand stretches.  I love doing these, they make me feel so flexible!

We started off center with a balancé combination, similar to what we’ve worked on before (4 balances with arms, step into first arabesque, pas de bourree) but this time adding on a releve sous-sus balance the first time through, and  passe releve balance the second time. I continue to work on keeping my foot pointed on the way down, but in general my passe releve balances are getting more stable.  (I’m going to try to not be jealous of any brand new beginners that can balance already, as when I had been balleting that long I couldn’t even rise up in one-legged releves.) My balancés have gotten much more fluid as well, though to be fair we were going at a pretty slow tempo.

During chaines I was remembering to engage my back and it totally helped with stabilty.  I wish I could say that engaging my back during turning is in my muscle memory but that would not be very true.  It’s one of those things that I know I’m supposed to be doing, but when I find myself in class, lined up with the other students and Teacher tells us to go it’s a little nerve-wracking.  So I forget what I’m supposed to be doing and focus/freak out about the (seemingly) immediate objective of Cross The Enormous Studio – And Quick!  Today though, as I started my series of turns I was like ‘Ok, arms? Check. Back? Check Spotting? Check’ and tried to not think to much about the fact that other people turn way faster than me, or the possibility of a collision.

After we did a few sets of regular sautes, Teacher told us to split up into 2 groups for our echappe, echappe, echappe, soubresaut, soubresaut repeat combination. The first group was going to go at a slower tempo, then other group at a faster one. Or we could choose to do both (I did both).  During the slower tempo, I was able to focus on stuff like pointing my feet and landing in plie.  My jumps from a la seconde, like to close the echappes, have gotten much stronger than a few months ago.  And for whatever reason, I find it much easier to point my feet in soubresauts than sautes from first.

At the faster tempo it was hard! I was able to remember what kind of jump I’m doing next, and land with the correct foot in front, but other than that it was sloppy.  My feet were nowhere near pointed, and I may have been losing my turnout. However, it was so much fun! By the end of going through both combinations twice I was really feeling like I was getting a cardio workout.

We ran out of time for reverance, but it was ok – I was exhausted.

Two Class Tuesday: Dancing In The Dark

Alternately titled “Gee, I Really Suck At Ballet”. (And I’m exhausted and had no time to proofread, so yeah…)

In B(eginner) C(lass), we did the no-hands tendus and degages and I noticed that I’ve gotten much more stable since last semester.  Possibly as a result of all the core strengthening I’ve been doing.  My balancing has improved as well, as I noticed during our releves in center (in first, sous-sus is much more stable) that I was keeping myself steady, even while doing port de bras.  We did the easy waltz step, both with and without turns as well.

Plenty of sautes, some echappes and changements.  When we switched lines I found myself in the front for the sautes, echappes and changements and that was not cool.  While I prefer being toward the back (so long as I can still get a little “window” of mirror space) during center, I’ll deal with being towards the front, but with sautes it’s super uncomfortable.Felt like I could feel the whole front of my leotard bouncing up and down, and even my little sweater couldn’t disguise it.  The woes of the non-typical-ballerina body!

In I(ntermediate Class) we did a really fast tendu combination, followed by another fast tendu combination, followed by yet another fast tendu combination.  All involving either changing the working leg (like two tendus front with right leg, two tendus back with left leg, then switching it up somehow in a way that if I could figure out how to explain enough to write it down I’d probably have an easier job actually doing it.) or changing direction (like doing croise, efface or ecarte) or a a super slow port de bras to go with lightning fast tendus. It was beyond challenging, I was late often and most likely closed the wrong place – which really did not help if the next move was a soutenu and I had the wrong leg to the front.  But yeah, so hard, definitely feels reminiscent of my first semester when it seemed I couldn’t get one single combination right.

The spot I usually start at barre is facing the mirror for the first side. I’m starting to think this may be a bad move (and, strangely enough, I think I did figure this out last semester, but in my time away from class I appear to have forgotten…) because that leaves me no one to follow.  I just may change this up and start on the side that gets the mirror for the second side and see if things improve a little bit.

So then we’re in the middle of yet another challenging barre combination when, all of a sudden, the lights went out (hence the post’s title). I had been concentrating so hard so that maybe this would be the time that I get this combination right, that at first it was like a stunned pause.  Since the enormous dance studio has no windows it was plunged into blackness, nothing visible except the emergency exit sign, looking farther away than usual.  After a couple seconds – that felt much longer – my classmate’s voices began to ring out and it felt slightly less creepy (Though only very slightly – I did have a few panicked moments of freaking out that someone had cut the wires and was planning to kill us , like “The Great Ballerina Massacre Of 2015” or something. The power was out for minutes (apparently all thoughout campus), and Teacher was just about to dismiss class, when the lights came back on just as abruptly as they’d gone out. Class continued.

Center was pretty disastrous. Just when I’d been getting the hang of the tendu combination Teacher switched   it up – now instead of the 2 tendus and temps lie it’s 2 quick tendus, a degage, and two grand battements before switching to the next direction (derriere with the other leg, and a la seconde in ecarte with the original leg).  It sounds easy written out like that, I guess.  But as my learning style involves lots of sloooow repetition, I was just not getting it.  Can’t say I’m too hopeful about getting it for tomorrow’s class, as I haven’t had any time to practice at all.

There was a glissade, assemble, glissade, assemble, saute de chat x2 pas de bourree, glissade, assemble, changement combination that was about 3 times faster than I could possibly do it.  It’s like, I know how to do glissade, and assembles and pas de chat but doing them quickly and strung together like that it so hard. I’m pretty sure I looked like an idiot.

Then came the saute,  changement, echappe, pas de bourre combination that by now I was too exhausted mentally to even remember.  And this waltz step which is a million times harder than the one in BC.  Seriously, I didn’t even use arms, that’s how bad I had no idea what I was doing.  At least the saute arabesque, saute coupe, saute arabesque, saute coupe, saute arabesque x4 across the floor combination went ok – well, ok by my somewhat low standards.

I feel like instead of focusing on how much I’m sucking I should mention some good things:  I’ m reliably going up into passe releve and actually balancing for a couple seconds in center; I’ m getting around all the way on my pirouettes a good amount of the time, both en dedans and en dehors; I actually ended up facing in the correct direction a couple times (that one’s directly related to the pirouette’s mentioned above).

Given the amount of time I’ve been dancing – or attempting to dance, depending on how I see it on a particular day – and my age, I’m doing great, I’d say.  Comparing, let’s not even go there…