Tag Archives: ballet at community college

Tuesday Class: Definitely A Better Day

Had another fun class, feeling much better from last week ūüôā

It was one of those I-love-ballet-class days…

Tendu combination was complex enough to make it more interesting than usual with slow tendus with lots of articulation, tendus at different speeds, and using arms for tendus en croix. Can’t remember exactly how it went, but it may have been the slow tendus en croix, then quick tendus en croix with arms with some plies in there. ¬†During it I kept up really well, and I was glad, though I wish I could remember exactly how it goes so I could practice it at home.

Rond de jambe combination included a passe releve balance on flat after 3 en dehors a terre and 1 en l’air, and then a passe releve (attempt at) balance after the same number en dedans. ¬†From there we were to bring our foot down into sous-sus, then cambre front and back. ¬†I love this kind of stuff, since this is the kind of stuff I practice at home. It’s great to actually get to do stuff like this in class and get corrected on possible ways I’m doing it wrong and stuff. ¬†Ok, that and I love having an enormous mirror to watch ¬†myself sort of doing ballet in right in front of me. ¬†If I had mirrors like that at home I’d be so motivated to practice every single day even more than now. Anyway, it was a nice combination.

During the barre stretch and foot in hand stretch part of class I didn’t have to worry that I was showing off by keeping my leg up, as there was this really advanced male dancer took class with us, and there his is one barre over with his foot up over his head. It was pretty cool to watch him do barre though, so flexible and graceful.

We used arms for our grand battements en croix, which made it funner – and of course, more challenging. ¬†Muscle memory is nice to have though, and using arms is something I’ve gotten used to by now. ¬†When demonstrating, Teacher told us where the leg goes relative to the arm when doing grand battement a la second, and I think she said behind but now I’m not ¬†so sure and I wish I’d written it down faster. ¬†Behind is ¬†where I do them to anyway, but it’s nice to know if you’re doing it right. ¬†Some teacher had said it didn’t matter whether it went behind or in front, and that had seemed odd. Like, rarely in ballet is something just left up to where ever the dancer feels like it, I had thought, but maybe I’m wrong…

During pirouettes, Teacher identified the reason for my crappy pirouettes (though ok quarter and half pirouettes): I was not spotting at the end. ¬†She said I start out spotting ok, but then lose it – which was news to me, as I didn’t even realize I’d been managing to spot¬†at all. ¬†Spotting almost makes sense when doing across the floor turns, like chaines or piques, but for stationary turns I just can’t seem to get the hang of how to spot. Does this mean that when doing across the floor turns I wasn’t really spotting? Was I just pretending¬†to spot? ¬†So confusing, though I’m sure I’ll have fun figuring it out.

We did the full pirouettes from 4th instead of fifth, which used to feel easier in the past. By now we’ve done so many from fifth that they’re both feeling around the same difficulty. I haven’t practiced my passe releves from 4th in a while, now that I think about it…

Ballet running practice was next.This time we ran with our arms in third, which is a million times less awkward for me than with arms in second for obvious reasons. ¬†I’m pretty sure that did not have any effect on my ballet running though, as it remains terrible. It looks so pretty when done right, and there’s a couple classmates who’ve really got it down. ¬†This one lady in particular is so entertaining to watch do pretty much anything (I’ve mentioned her before as the lady with the perfect attitude derriere), but especially her running and grand jetes. She is amazing.

Sautes went much better than last class. I caught myself starting to speed up the tempo, and forced myself to slow it down. ¬†Working on taking each individual jump at at time, just focusing on pointing those feet, landing with the feet in something at least resembling the position they’re supposed to be in. All this stuff that i could be focusing on, instead of just getting high off the floor as many times as quick as possible. ¬†If I keep it up I’m sure my body will eventually figure out what we’re doing here…

On another, sort-of-related ¬†note, I’ve been working more on my toes, trying to activate all the muscles that spread the toes out, or stretch them out. ¬†I’ve been thinking of taking before nd after pictures of what happens, to see if there’s any improvement. ¬†Maybe see if any improvement in my ablity to stretch out my toes results in an improvement in my dancing. So we’ll see if I get around to that anytime soon…

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Thursday: Ugh, What A Day…

Don’t worry – there is a happy ending (ballet class) in there…

Day started off like any other (recent) Thursday: I got up early, packed up my school stuff, ballet bag, and food for the day, and headed off for my long day at school. ¬†I get there, and there is absolutely no parking, as apparently there’s some kind of event going on at the school. Had to park clear across the street on the opposite side of campus as any of my classes in the overflow parking lot – how annoying. ¬†Go to my morning class without incident, and I’m back in my car having lunch when it starts to rain. ¬†Did I mention that I have no umbrella, raincoat, or even a plastic bag to hold over my head in the car? (Well, I had my ballet bag, but the point was not to get my ballet gear wet.) ¬†By this point I’m more than a little irritated…

So I start my long trek to my second class of the day, and I’m trying to walk at a brisk pace to minimize the level of soaked that I’m getting (though I think I remember reading somewhere that if you run in the rain you get wetter than if you had walked the same distance. Well, either way, it was cold, and I didn’t want to linger outside for too long.). ¬†I don’t know exactly how what happened next happened – one second I was walking quickly along, the next I’m flying through the air. ¬†The good news is I didn’t land on my knees, or sprain an ankle. The bad news is than I found myself on my derriere in a shallow puddle.

(It’s ok, go ahead and laugh. ¬†I’d be laughing too if it hadn’t been so embarassing (which is probably why it’s funny.)

I got up as quick as I could manage, without slipping and falling again. ¬†Now besides my entire hood and front of my sweater being soaked, so was the back of my pants. Goody. Trying to preserve whatever was left of my dignity – and so grateful that I hadn’t worn even more light-colored pants – I walked (at least I wasn’t limping) slowly to the nearest restroom. Washed off my hands and spent about 15 minutes drying off my clothes under ¬†the warm air hand dryer (and it worked! Best idea ever.).

A few hours later came ballet class. Well, after another soaking by the rain on the way back to the car, which was still parked across the street on the other side of campus. By this point my behind felt a little sore, but I chalked it off to the cold, and since I could walk normally I went to class. (Besides, Teacher had spotted me earlier, so ditching was not really an option. ¬†And I didn’t want to go to class just to observe.)

We started barre and my body felt fine, no soreness or any stiffness out of the ordinary.

For tendus we used arms (yay!), 1slow with articulation, 2 regular speed en croix. I love it when we use arms!

After 8-8-4-4-2-2-1-1-1-1 twice, we immediately went into lots of releves and eleves, then echappes without really having an opportunity to rest. I wasn’t tired from my calves, just glad we were facing the barre so there was no pressure to hold a balance. It’s like one of my strong points in dancing is my strength, but my weakest point is my balance. ¬†I’m still using my core but on some days I just can’t find a good balance (at least in first, sous-sus is no big deal.)

We did 3 ronde de jambes a terre and 1 en l’air, then fondue passe balance, second time around with passe releve (attempt at) balance. ¬†I tried letting go of the barre for a couple seconds, but so far my passe releves in center are much better than those at barre.

We worked on frappes again, different combination: 3 frappes, on the thrid one instead of closing back we did 2 piques and then close with a flexed foot to do the next side. ¬†It was fun. ¬†I really enjoy doing piques, and when we do a combination that is not super slow and I still manage to it ok (like the correct foot going to the correct place at the corrrect time kind of stuff, not necessarily that everything was perfect) it is a big ego boost. I really need to focus on what I’ve improved on so that i don’t get discouraged.

After barre stretches and leg swings, the last thing we did at barre was grand battements and 3 changements. Around this time I realized that jumping freaking hurt.

Luckily, Teacher announced that we were going to start off center with the same adagio combination from last class (3 pas de cheval, 2 balanc√©s, tombe, pas de bourre, bring back leg to passe and developpe devant, releve sous-sus, chasse towards the side of the leg in front, repeat other side), and since I (sort of, at first I forgot that the releve sous-sus comes¬†after¬†the developpe) remembered the combination ¬†I got to be in the front line, so people who weren’t there last class could follow. It was a little nerve-wracking, but I managed not not mess up too much. ¬†My timing was a little off, but then, I think we were all¬†off on timing. ¬†It was so much fun though – I love longer combinations, especially when they consist of moves I can do. ¬†A few months ago and before I think that level of combination would have been disastrous, to be honest.

After that we did our 4 quarter turns, 2 half turns and 2 full pirouettes combination. ¬†The quater and half pirouettes continue to be fun – and doable – but the full pirouettes are so hit or miss. ¬†I’m convinced the spotting is a bigger issue here than a stable passe releve, especially since lately I’ve been balancing on passe releve in center for around the time it would take to complete a revolution (though at barre my passe releve balance isn’t doing too well, as I mentioned earlier). ¬†I work on keeping my arms connected to my core, going up in a really high passe releve and it works out fine for the half and quarter turns, but when it comes to doing the full pirouette I overcompensate and end up using too much force. ¬†Some of the times I got all the way around I landed with my legs a little overcrossed, or apart from each other. Definitely something to keep working on, but considering how much more I sucked at pirouettes and passe releves a few months ago, I’ve improved.

Then came the jumping. We did sautes (16), changements (24), echappes and pas de chats. ¬†I had really been planning on focusing more on my technique for my jumping this class, making sure to not speed up towards the end, forcing myself to point my feet, really just work hard. ¬†Unfortunately, due to my fall it was taking all my concentration just to get through them. ¬†With every jump I felt more and more sore. ¬†I was silently praying that Teacher wouldn’t notice me where I was hiding in the back, and i wasn’t jumping up with full power, trying to minimize the impact on the way down. ¬†This may sound really dumb, but at times I was thinking ‘I feel like a real dancer, dancing through the pain (but of course with horrible technique).’ I guess saying that is an insult to dancers… Well, anyway, I made it through. ¬†In hindsight, if I’d known how much it was going to hurt ¬†landing jumps I would have probably not gone to class…

Thankfully, by the time I got out of class it had stopped raining (temporarily), so I managed to crawl in to the car somehow (by now it hurt to lower down to a sitting position).  Drove home, hobbled upstairs (Boyfriend helped me carry my stuff upstairs, how sweet), Boyfriend examined me for bruising or swelling (there was none), rubbed some of that arnica massage oil that I made last year for my sprained ankle all over my lower back and bottom, and  went to sleep.

(And yes, I learned a lesson in all of this: I now have an emergency rain coat and hat in the trunk of the car in case any more situations like this occur. ¬†As for learning to watch where I’m going, I’m still working on it. ¬†But how was I supposed to know it would be extra slippery where I stepped?)

I’m happy to report that I’m feeling much better now, 2 days later. ¬†And in a few hours Boyfriend and I are going to go see a live ballet by a local company. ¬†Can’t wait!

Tuesday Class: Fun Dancing, Bad Feet

Had another fun class. Really love these later weeks of the semester!

New port de bras for plies: arm starts low, goes only to demi-second (that’s what Teacher called it, basically not as high as a la seconde) for two demi plies, arm up to high fifth whle doing eleve,arms out to second and then all the way down for grand plies, repeat in second and in fifth (with cambre towards the barre in a la seconde, cambre devant and derriere in first and fith), tendu to first, then circular cambre, plie, arch stretch, and balance. ¬†I was feeling pleased that I actually remembered all of it even though this is the first time we do this particular combination (at least this semester, and I would have to go through my archives to see if we did it last semester), it means my ability to remember combinations is getting better!

A new thing we did this class was frappes. ¬†We did them en croix which was pretty cool because I think last semester we only did them a la seconde. ¬†We did tendu ¬†a la seconde, bring back the foot flexed, then 4 frappes in each direction. Today I feel like I like frappes, at least these simple ones. I’m still working on the ones that switch or beat at home (and slowly I’m getting the hang of them). ¬†Teacher also demonstrated the pointed foot ones – my first time ever seeing them, though I’d heard of them – though we didn’t try them.

When we did our barre stretches and foot-in-hand stretches, after we had our leg stretched out and up a la seconde, Teacher said to try letting go of the leg and see if you can hold it up there. I let go and the leg just continued to float there (though I did worry that it was looking show-offish) until I controlledly brought it back down. ¬†Don’t know if I’m using the correct muscles to keep it there, but at least some muscles in me are strong.

In center, we started we a new adagio combination: Port de bras, 3 pas de cheval devant (otherwise known to myself as the “fondue-walk”), close to fifth, port de bras to second, 2 balanc√©s, passe back leg to developpe devant while bringing arms up to high fifth, releve sous-sus, and chasse to the side of the back leg while bringing arms down through middle fifth (first?) and ending up with the arms up high in an open position (which I don’t know what it’s called, but I’ll look it up at some point in my copy of¬†Classical Ballet Technique), other side. ¬†It was a really nice combination, beautiful music and simple enough in difficulty that I could really¬†dance¬†instead of worry about what I was next or how am I going to ruin it by not balancing. ¬†Loved it! I always make sure to remember center combinations so I can practice them at home (and eventually get good at them, from repetition alone, as doing a combination only a few weeks at class and then going on to a totally different one does nothing for my improvement) since “real” combinations from class just feel more¬†official than any random stuff I make up – glad to have another one to add to the list!

We practiced pirouettes, first doing 4 one-quarter turns (going up in passe releve and only turning to the side), then 2 half turns (this time facing the back of the room, and then to the front), then 2 full pirouettes. ¬†The good news was that the 1/4 turns were super easy, and the 1/2 turns were almost as easy. As for the whole revolution, I¬†can¬†get around, but not really land cleanly. I don’t think I’ve ever done a clean piroeutte, being honest, though I do get around around 50% of the time. ¬†Also, I’m going up in passe releve like it’s no big deal (which is only a big deal because I was struggling with this so much last semester). ¬†I still haven’t gotten the hang of spotting for pirouettees, as well.

It was not really a good jumping day, just seeming like everything was going wrong. ¬†In regular sautes from first (16 of them), Teacher called out “K, where’s your first?!” (since I have a tendency of landing with my feet slightly separated, nowhere near being second, but not touching together at the ankles either) but at least I was managing to point my feet. ¬†We moved on to changements (also 16) and now my correction was that I wasn’t crossing the feet over enough on landing – and of course foregetting to point my feet. ¬†So then what do I do? I start going faster, which besides throwing me way off tempo, also makes it even more unlikely that I’ll manage to point my feet. ¬†I’d noticed before that my timing for jumps sucks, but this is the first time I’ve made that connection that when I realize I’m doing it wrong I start to do it faster (I think in my head I’m thinking that if I do it faster I’ll get that number of jumps out of the way quicker… go figure). ¬†Now that I’ve actually realized that I hope to be able to work on fixing it, like ‘don’t jump faster, jump better’ or something.

For the next combination (3 echappes and pas de chat, repeat other side, x2) I was trying really hard to watch the timing, while also pointing the feet. ¬†And I was feeling pretty exhausted and out of breath as well. ¬†I’m not completely over my cold yet, after all.

In other exciting news, I made a ballet acquaintance/friend! ¬†Honestly, I’m a little hesitant to say “friend” (when does someone become a friend anyway? Especially if you have trouble making friends, are horribly shy, and more than a little awkward), but what I mean is the girl I shared the barre with and I had a nice ballet-related conversation prior to Teacher’s arrival. ¬†We got into discussing favorite leotards (and I gave her the tip of going to the discount outlet where I’ve gotten most of my stuff), favorite teachers (Strict Teacher is scary, LOL) and just gushing over ballet in general. ¬†It is so cool to actually discuss ballet-related things with someone in person – not that I don’t enjoy writing about and reading about ballet-related stuff on the blogs, of course. ¬†It was nice to meet someone whose been doing ballet about as long as me through the school, made me feel less like I’m a total weirdo. (Seriously, most people who I come across ask questions such as “Ballet? Why are you taking that? You’ve taken it before? Why are you taking it again, did you fail it?” and can’t seem to wrap their heads around the concept of ‘I’m taking it because I like it. And taking it again because (well, besides because I like it) I want to continue to get better. Ballet’s not something that you get good at in a couple months (or even a couple semesters, or years). ¬†And I take it through school because it’s nice to be able to afford it.’ I try to not get too exasperated though, and once in a great while I even meet someone who says “Hey, that’s pretty cool!”)

And in (somewhat less exciting) other news, lately I’ve been feeling quite a bit discouraged. ¬†The reason? My feet. ¬†Though my feet are pretty strong, thanks to all the theraband exercises, my toes are, for lack of a better word, weird. ¬†A few months ago I wrote about how my fingers are either double-jointed or something, giving them the ability to bend crookedly (They say a picture is worth a thousand words…link at the bottom of this post). Unfortunately, my toes seem to have some of the same ability, except there it becomes a problem. ¬†It is extremely hard for me to stretch out my toes without them bending. I can point my feet (especially when doing adagio and at barre), but my toes themselves have a tendency to scruch up. ¬†My second toe is constantly bent, and my fourth toe is halfway under my third toe. ¬†It is possible for me to stretch out my toes manually, but the muscles that should be there to make the toes stretch on their own are very underdeveloped. ¬†I am hopeful that I can work on this by teaching my toes the correct muscle memory to stop being scruched up, but I know that it will take a very long time (if it’s even possible). ¬†And let’s not forget my falling arches (which have gotten better, but still, I’ve had to work so hard to get to this point). ¬†Out of all the hobbies in the world, why did I have to pick the one that my feet are horribly unsuited for?!

(Because ballet is awesome, that’s why)

Well, despite these setbacks there has been progress, so I will continue to ballet on ūüôā

http://www.balletandorbust.wordpress.com/2014/12/05/you-need-special-shoes-for-that/

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 ūüôā ) 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 balanc√©s (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 balanc√©s 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 Рstill pretty basic,but slightly more challenging Рtendu 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 balanc√© 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 balanc√©s 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.

Thursday Class: Some Good, Some Bad

We did not really have class on Tuesday, so Thursday’s class was my first ballet class in over a week, since last Wednesday. It felt pretty good to be back in class, though my body has been incredibly sore all week.

For the first time in the semester we did everything with only one hand at the barre. Well, with the exception of the barre-less 8-8-4-4-2-2-1-1-1-1 and releve echappes.  Plies with complete port de bras and cambres.

Then 3 tendus en croix, one super slow with foot articulation, two regular speed, no arms (arms out in second). ¬†I positioned myself so that I would face the mirror on the second side (left working leg side) because I think that’s the side that needs more attention. Sounds weird, but I prefer to face the mirror for the second side, as I think my tendus are more technically correct on my right working leg, at least the foot part. Teacher corrected me on my pelvis positioning. ¬†A few of my classmates were having confusion issues about which side to be facing or which leg they were supposed to be using. ¬†Though I don’t remember my first semester’s confusion that vividly (just in general), how lost I felt when I was attempting IC helps me remember (and completely sympathize with them).

We did 3 degages en croix with eleve (not releve) after each direction before the next, arm in second during the degages, high fifth for the releve. Didn’t let go of the barre for this one – that would have been … interesting.

When we did echappe changement releves we first did them with one hand at the barre then with no hands on barre, arms either out in second or on shoulders (I chose to the the arms in second). A classmate in a nearby barre made the funniest expression – kind of like a raised eyebrows “Whoa!” look – when Teacher said to step away from the barre and do them. ¬†It went ok, I managed to not tip over, and my calves didn’t hurt at least. Teacher corrected me on my pelvis placement.

For our rond de jambe and fondue, balance in arabesque (and with leg out in front after doing it en dedans), soutenu and other side combination we had a super pretty piano piece again.  This is definitely one of my favorite combinations in this class.

New, more extensive barre stretching, similar to what we had done in IC (grabbing the foot and pulling the leg up in front and a la seconde and grabbing the foot behind us with the opposite side hand, pulling up our leg into attitude derriere, then if possible down to a penchee position.) ¬†This was fun. Despite my sore muscles I was able to get my leg up nice and high in my attitude derriere, and I love how when i grab my foot behind me and bend forward I can bring it up much more higher. Of course, I have been working on a similar stretch at home for a few months now, so I’m sure that has a lot to do with it.

In center, we started off with our¬†3 grand battements with arms in high fifth, passe releve balance combination. ¬†Teacher corrected me again on keeping my foot pointed on the way down from passe releve. ¬†She said we’ll be doing pirouettes soon.

Chaines went ok to the right, to the left I was having trouble spotting my head quickly enough. ¬†Then we did sautes, changements and echappes with arms at different tempos. ¬†I find it much more difficult to stay on timing if we’re going at a fast tempo. ¬†And I definitely have no idea how to manage to point my feet if I jump lower (to accomodate the faster speed).

Across the floor we did 4 chasse gallops, ballet run and pas de chat (instead of jete).  I find it much easier to the right side, as I did with the jetes.

We finished up with reverence. Reverence is quickly becoming one of my favorite parts of class – and probably my favorite part of center. ¬†No, not because it means it’s almost time to collapse into the car in a mess of tired, sweaty muscles and go home and rest (though I do enjoy that part, believe me. ¬†This girl once told me she was going to go running immediately after ballet class and even though I try super hard to be respectful of others I’m afraid I may have looked at her as if she had two heads. Running¬†after ballet? How?! (To be fair, she ended up dropping the class, as I haven’t seen her in weeks)). Anyway, the reasons I love reverance is that it’s one of the only times in BC we use epaulement, as well as it being a nice adagio-ish combination that feels very ballet-ish, graceful and pretty. ¬†If we could just do adagio all the time I would be so happy…

As I mentioned earlier, this was my first ballet class in over a week.  I had not expected to be this sore all week, though I think that has more to do with my Pilates classes than ballet.  But I had expecxted even less that in that short period of time my ballet skills would seriously decline.

My balancing was not as stable as it had been pre-spring break, despite me remembering to engage my lats. ¬†Teacher corrected me several times on my pelvic placement, which I had improved upon right before the break (but is now doing it’s swayback thing). ¬†If I may be honest, I’m feeling very discouraged and sad. ¬†Actually, now that we’re getting honest, that’s the reason I didn’t even feel like writing on the blog lately. ¬†Here’s my train of though: if my skills deteriorated so bad after just a week or two off (and yes, I did practice at home during spring break, though not during the school week), and the semester is over halfway done then there’s only so far I can improve.¬†I saw firsthand how much improvement I lost from the end of last semester by the beginning of the semester. ¬†It feels like for every 3 steps I take forward I end up taking 2 back…

It may seem like I’m having one of those ballet-is-making-you-miserable moments, in which case the solution would seem logical: quit. The thing is, it’s not¬†ballet ¬†in itself that makes me miserable, no way. ¬†When I practice at home and I see my perceived improvement I feel so happy, so alive. I love going over the now-familiar motions, love feeling the strength, the beauty, the music. ¬†At random throughout the day I’ll find myself standing in a ballet pose; I’ll walk past my practice mirror and try to balance; when accompanying ¬†Boyfriend to a boring store I’ll practice chaines and pique turns down the aisle; when I hear a beatiful song I make chorography up for it in my head; out in the field after my run I’ll do gallop chasses, saute arabesques, pas de chats; I have so much fun with it, I feel like a kid again (or at least the active, in shape kid I wish I would have had a chance to be…)

Putting it simply, I cannot imagine my life without ballet in it (which sounds super corny, but whatever, it’s the truth).

No, what makes me sad is that the way things are going there will always be a limit to how much I can improve. Just when I’m starting to get much better the semester ends and then it’s almost back to square 1. When I practice at home I pick up – and reinforce- bad habits, and to be honest, I’m upset at myself for not having enough body perception to be able to correct myself and stay in alignment. If I don’t practice my strength will decrease, but if I do practice unsupervised for long periods of time (weeks or months)I learn how to do it wrong…

In short, it won’t be¬†real ¬†ballet, no matter how good it feels, no matter how happy it makes me. ¬†I can continue dancing for myself, but to try to improve at ballet is setting myself up for failure.

So yeah, been feeling very down lately. Getting into any more detail will exceed the scope of this blog, and I really don’t wanna go there, as I realize that nobody likes a downer, even if it is the truth…well, my truth. ¬†I will try very hard to make the best of it, enjoy the rest of my semester, be very grateful that I at least have this opportunity to take ballet, because some ballet is better than none.

Flashback: Notes From Second Semester, Part 1

This week I have spring break, and therefore, no college ballet class (and no class notes). However, for your ballet-related reading entertainment, here is Class Notes From ¬†My Second Semester. While I was not blogging yet, I took (at times detailed, at times not) notes on what we did in class so I wouldn’t forget. And to assess my progress as time goes by. Kind of like how I’m doing with the blog, I guess…

Anyway, without further ado, here it is copied word for word.  Comments from me will be in italics throughout.

Week 1

Today, after a long delay that seems like¬†forever, I finally had my first formal ballet lesson since last spring semester. Which ended last June (Ed: june 2013) so we’re talking about a 7 month break! Of course, I’ve been busy practicing on my own, but it was nice to be back in class. The last time I began a term of ballet I didn’t previously have any ballet experience whatsoever, so it was a lot harder to keep track of the movements (keep track? more like actually do them without falling over!), remember the counts and steps, and just overall not feel completely lost.

Well, what a difference a year makes! This time around I almost feel a tiny bit confident. Not that I’m saying that I’m super proficient or anything. Kinda like this: Last year, imagine I started school and I didn’t even know how to read or my ABC’s. This year, knowing my ABC’s and how to read words means that I might actually be able to read my first whole book (Ed: yeah, you got overconfident there, girl…)! So while I can tell that I have improved tremendously, I know I still have my work cut out for me.

These are the things we worked on today:

We did alignment stretches sitting on the floor, legs out in front of us: Point foot, turn out, flex foot, lift entire leg off the floor, point foot. All while keeping our back straight which is so much harder for me sitting down than standing up. Then we laid down and flattened our backs against the floor, to get a feel for what it’s like to not arch our back. ¬†The floor hurt, and no matter how hard I tried I could still slide my hand in between the floor and my back (Ed: I don’t have this problem now…).

Then we pulled out the barres. We did plies, releves, tendus to the side and front facing the barre, then tendus to front with arms in second, and tendus to the second and third positions of feet (Ed: No 5th position I see…). ¬†This was review for me, but it’s always good to review the basics. After going over each exercise a couple of times we put away the barres for our first center work.

For center, we worked on our port de bras (again!), plies, releves, and sautes. ¬†Then it got a little bit more complex: sautes with a 180 turn, saute in parallel and land in 1st, saute in 1st and land in 3rd. I completely surprised myself by enjoying this part of class; last year center had been my least favorite part of class for sure. Mostly because at barre I would start to feel somewhat graceful only for that grace to be lost in center. My balance was terrible and really messed with my confidence. But if practice doesn’t quite make it perfect at least it makes it¬†possible.

Another issue last year was that I had been afraid of jumping. ¬†Part of it was because of my ankle. Last year I was still afraid that it wasn’t strong enough and that I might reinjure it (from landing wrong because of the whole balance thing). ¬†By now I’m pretty sure that my ankle has recovered its strength. ¬†The other reason was because jumping leads to bouncing. However, this year I came equipped with not one but two sports bras, so I was ready to go.

The very last thing we did was reverance. It consisted of doing a tondue to the side and then taking the other foot and putting it behind the foot that had tondued (Ed: Huh? You mean “coupe”, last year self? Or B+ position?)

So overall, it was a fun class back. I am totally looking forward to what else I may learn this semester and improving at ballet. I am a little concerned about making my hair stay in its bun, since my other teacher last year wasn’t quite so strict on it. I’m totally with putting up the hair in a bun, it’s the part where I hear “hairspray” or “gel” that makes me anxious. Which is a whole other topic for a different essay… (Ed: I am happy to announce that my buns always stay put and NOT ONCE have I had to use hairspray or gel. Yay, my thick unruly hair is good at holding bobby pins at least…)

Week 2

We did our alignment exercise again, plies in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. We worked on tendu devant, a la seconde and derriere. Grand battement devant.

In center, we did port de bras, sautes and echappes. ¬†Across the floor jumps that i was not able to catch the name of (Ed: and now I have no idea. If I had to guess I’d say it was chasse-gallops, but who knows. ¬†Reverance.

I was corrected on my posture (I was swaybacking it), and told to work on shifting my weight forward.(Ed: I wonder if this was the day that while S Teacher was telling me about my posture (to shift more and more forward, beyond the point which it was comfortable and I thought I was going to fall over), one of my nearby classmates had ¬†gestured towards my chest. S Teacher caught that and said “Your body shape has nothing to do with your posture” or something like that. Awkward. ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†¬†

Week 3

Work on body alignment: buttocks in and tight, lean forward, chin up, tight stomach/core (Ed: as I learned recently though, there’s more to a tight core than the stomach…)¬†Work on keeping legs straight and turned out, work on lifting up ankle to prevent sickle. When plie-ing, make sure to press knees outward, and keep buttocks tucked in.

For tendus, keep leg turned out, keep hips square, make sure foot slides across the floor, leg stays straight. For devant and derriere, toes of foot in tendu should be directly in front/ back of supporting foot.

Grand battement devant and a la seconde: keep hips square, foot should not come crashing down.

Center:

port de bras combination: open arms to second, then third (right), third (left), brava (Ed: I think this meant “bras bas” or something like that. It’s basically like preparation, I think), high fifth, second, step plie (right foot), hold, step plie (left foot), step plie right again while lifting and lowering the arms, quick little steps backwards, brava, repeat in other direction. (Ed: I’d forgotten all about this combination until I reread it. ¬†Now I wanna get up and practice it. I’m sure I can do it much better now…)

Saute combination:  releve, saute, saute, releve, saute, half turn (toward right), saute, half turn (so now facing front again), saute in first 2x, saute in third 2x, saute parallel, plie, repeat other side (Ed: Whew! just reading that made me tired! Dang!)

Across the floor: step-hop (like a skip) across. Remember to point your feet!

Step-hop, step-hop, step, step, step, step-hop, with and without arms. Arms went (middle fifth, second, middle fifth, second).

Practice half turns with spotting. Turn halfway while skipping (and spotting). (Ed: These were so hard! They were supposed to be to ease us into chaines turns, but, at least for me, chaines  are easier)

Notes: Jumping is hard and makes me out of breath. My legs are somewhat strong and don’t hurt, it’s mostly the aerobic-ness of it. Spotting is hard when you’re on the spot (no pun intended), at home I can kind of do it. To help remember the combination it’s a good idea to break it into smaller parts, repetiton and muscle memory helps tons as well. By now I’m starting to muscle memory the tucking the butt in and leaning forward part, my arms are looking way better, and I think my turnout has improved since I started tucking in and pressing my knees outward during plies. ¬†I feel a little uncomfortable during allegro because of my boobs and bouncing. In sautes I worry that if I jump with enough power my boobs will come crashing down when I land and it’ll hurt. I need to remember to point my toes.

Week 4

New exercise on the floor to teach us how to pull our ankles up, prevent sickling: sit with your feet together, knees apart, and try to lift up you ankles while pointing down your toes. Try to bring the feet closer to you while continuing to do that.

Grand plies at barre for first time this semester. We did fondues, and releve sous-sus as well.

In center we worked on “shouldering”, en face and croisse to either side. We did sautes, saute half turns, echappes, sobresaut, and changements. More preparations for turning.

(Ed: this weeks entry is rather short. I have a feeling I was overwhelmed. S Teacher’s class progression is so weird. On the one hand we barely started doing grand plies at this point, on the other hand we did all kinds of jumps and scary center stuff. The preps for turns are harder than the turns themselves, in my opinion…)

There was no week 5

Week 6

New things:

Degages or battement glisse, from 3rd devant thru first to derriere, thru first devant, close 3rd, repeat a la seconde and derriere. Fondue and fondue with leg kick out to a point (don’t know what it’s called), devant, a la seconde, derriere. Releve sous-sus and soutenu in grand battement combination.

Center: Balances (the waltzy move) with arms

Saute combination: saute, saute, 2 saute to turn, saute to first, to second,to first, third x2, first, repeat other side.

Assembles: jump and kick out one leg, try to bring other leg together in midair.

(Ed: I remember this day! Assembles are super hard, but at least we only did them forward. They’re even harder a la seconde. I remember at the time I was having a really hard time with the releve sous-sus and soutenu as well. I went home and practiced over and over!)