Tag Archives: ballet running

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: Definitely A Better Day

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

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…

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…

Monday Class: Passe Releve, We Meet Again

Week 10 of the semester… Ballet class starts getting harder… No idea yet what the final combinations will be.

Lots of releve-ing in one form or another today! Besides balancing (in different positions), Teacher is having us do forward and back bends on releve as well as bringing up the working foot to coupe and passe.

Immediately after doing the degages at the barre Teacher had us plie and releve quickly 3 times, holding a balance with no hands after the third. By now I’ve noticed that my legs get super shaky when balancing if I’ve been working really hard, and the degage combination is not easy.  Especially when we then do the whole thing without holding the barre.  Surprisingly, after doing the no-hands version I was able to balance today, which I wasn’t expecting because it was the double challenge of rising up quickly (I fear I’ll fall forward!) and having tired legs.

When we did releve sous-sus Teacher said “Beautiful!” – and she was looking right at me – which was probably the best compliment I’ve ever gotten in a ballet class. Happy day!

We did echappe and changement at the barre (not the jumps but the sliding the feet out while releve-ing, and switching feet when sliding back in).  Then Teacher mixed it up a bit and had us do it without holding the barre. And I was momentarily confused, thinking ‘so when you take away the barre does it become like the jumps or is it still just like a slide?’.  I mean, I know the sliding move exists – I’ve seen the dance of the little swans – but physically doing it was sort of a miscommunication from my brain to my feet.  Teacher then paid extra attention to me and my correction was to keep my knees straighter when out to second, so hopefully besides that I wasn’t totally destroying the move.  The few girls in class that are en pointe were so fun to watch during this – I love watching echappes and changements en pointe.

In center, we did a combination that was tondu forward, grand battement forward 3 times, then after the third time we plie and go up to passe releve. If you read my class post last wednesday, you know how I feel about passe releve in center (hint: not too good).  However, something about the port de bras with this made it easier – more like actually doable – today.  We had our arms up in high fifth and when we went up we would bring them down the sides.  I don’t know if it was leverage, or if what prevents me from doing it right normally is just a mental block and this provides a distraction, but today my passe releves felt stronger and more stable than usual. Which is still not saying much…

More advanced people were to do a pirouette (en dehors) the second time through.  I have a confession to make:  I’ve never officially learned how to do a pirouette (though I’ve attempted them – with varying degrees of success, mostly en dedans – here and there). It’s still a foreign concept to me – I realize spotting is involved but other than that I have no clue how to get more than 180 degrees of rotation without using my arms for extra impulse in the beginning.  If a completely stable passe releve  – the kind where you’re just hanging out on one leg for an eternity – is needed then it’s going to be a while.

While I’m thrilled that I no longer run out of breath during the saute and running combinations, I realize that my newfound endurance, while it helps, is not a cure-all for my bad jumps.  At least now when Teacher yells “Point your feet!” I’m able to keep jumping while attempting to apply the correction without feeling like collapsing. Feels less stressful at least.

The timing of the jumps is still somewhat of a mystery to me. Teacher says that we should all be jumping in unison, to the music.  But then we start jumping and by the third or fourth saute some of us are bobbing up when others are on their way down.  It would probably be helpful if I knew whether to slow down or speed up.  Usually I’m too slow, but who knows.

The last 10 minutes or so of class we hustled from one across the floor combination to another – chaines, galloping chasses, ballet running, pas de chat, more sautes, more galloping chasses and running and jetes.  My galloping chasses are getting better, but my ballet running not so much. But I actually found myself having a lot of fun and feeling like a kid (even more than usual) . It was an awesome feeling!

Really wanted to end on a positive note but this is just bugging me and I’ve got to say it: If you’re more advanced, don’t laugh when the beginners are attempting to do a move (especially if they are on the spot and all alone). Today I wasn’t the object of such amusement but I saw it happen to a newer girl.  It’s really sad; I mean just think – some people were not fortunate to take lessons as kids.  How would you feel if you were learning to read as an adult and adults whose parents put them in school as kids were laughing at your pathetic attempts to sound out the words? Not very good I’ll bet.  Add to that additional body image issues and you have yourself a recipe for disaster. So be kind and treat others as you would like to be treated. End rant.

Back To Double Dose of Ballet

See Tights

See Tights Run

Run Tights, Run!

My new tights have a run already. What the hell!

My new tights have a run already. What the hell!

Just trying to find humor in the fact that after wearing them only, like, 3 times my new favorite tights have a run in them already, as I discovered when it was time to get dressed.

wednesday morning class

The new port de bra for our demi plies at the barre is still unfamiliar and awkward for me.  It’s almost feeling like the patting-your-head-while-rubbing-your-stomach feeling.  We start with arm out in second and it doesn’t come in until we are at the bottom of the plie, then low fifth when we go up.  On the next plie it goes to middle fifth on the bottom, and opens to second when we come up.  The time coordination is the part that gets me, I keep wanting to bring in the arm prematurely and then I’m ahead of the count.  Will excessively work on it at home for sure.

On our tendus we did a lot of slow foot articulation stuff.  Tendu-ing out to second, flexing the toes and then the foot, then pointing the ankle (but not the toes), and finally the toes.  While the ankle flexing part is not a problem, my toes didn’t want to cooperate on the toe flexing.

We did releves sous-sus and then brought one foot up to coupe.  Strengthwise it was ok, didn’t feel like much of an effort. Then Teacher said to let go of the barre and try to balance as long as possible.  I let go and promply started to fall forward, reminding me of a felled tree – someone yell “Timber!”.

The expected learning curve scares me.  Things that are introduced in class one week – no pressure, most people mess up – are then expected to be drastically improved several weeks later.  That is not my learning curve; it took me about 6 months to be able to pull off any two-footed releve balance at all, for however short a time.  Even now I still struggle with my balance on two-footed releves at times (though magically it always works out at home, when I’m alone).

It sucks, because most teachers approach it from the premise of “if you’re not balancing it’s because you tend to fall backwards.”  I tend to fall forward (because of the chest, weight distribution), so when I releve I make sure to not go up too quickly, that way my momentum won’t push me over, while at the same time making sure to  not fall back.   It gets desperately discouraging at times, especially seeing how other, much newer, people don’t have trouble with the balancing part.  But then I see pictures of full-term pregnant women balancing either on releve or en pointe and I’m like ‘no, there’s a way. I just have to get even stronger.”

We did a flexibility exercise with a partner, involving developpe-ing to the front and a la seconde, but the catch was that after you developpe your partner pushes your leg up, to the limit your flexibilty can stand. Then we had to use our strength to keep our leg that high and sloooowly – with control – bring it back down.  Imagine my surprise when my partner kept pushing my leg up and it was past my head and it still didn’t hurt! And I still remember when I couldn’t even touch my toes – an unflexible child can grow up to be a sort of flexible adult!  Once she let go I was able to keep it up there and lower it slowly with no problem.  Yay, maybe there is strength in me after all!

During sautes I did feel less out of breath and exhausted, though that’s probably mental because I don’t think my 2 days of (very little) jogging have made that much of a difference.  But I am interested to see how my endurance for jumps will improve after I’ve been jogging awhile.  My sautes were ok – feet somewhat pointed – but the changements and echappes not so much. However, looking on the positive side, I no longer step on myself when I do changements and after the changement and echappe combination I did end up with the correct foot in front.

Across the floor we did 4 chasses (the galloping kind), ballet run and jete.  On the right side it went ok, my jetes with the left leg in front could use some additional improvement.    But it was so much fun, sometimes big movements are just what I needed!

wednesday evening class

Double checked and made sure I had my wallet AND my shoes.

We had a small class today, all with some ballet experience, so as Evening Teacher says “We can do stuff that involves the brain more.”  It was a change of pace, and for the most part I kept up.

We did fondues, which I love.  We did the kind of fondues where the leg straightens so that the working foot is in the air, not the floor, which are even more fun. We also did the rond de jambes that are combined with a fondu, as well as plenty of rond de jambes en l’air.

Something I like about this class is that E. Teacher uses music that changes tempo midway. So we do stuff like 8 slow degages and then 6 in double time or two tendus and then a pique on the third.  It’s nice to mix it up a bit; I would say “keeps it interesting” but it’s already interesting.  Ummm, I guess it increases the interesting factor.

We did lots of frappes also, which was nice.  Such a weird motion at first – the flexed foot and all – but now that I got used to doing them they’re ok.

During our grand battements en croix we did something different: after front, side, back, on the next side one we were to turn in to the barre with both our supporting and working legs bent and then straighten the working leg back out, then tondu it in releve sous-sus, soutenu, and other side.  The “turning into the barre with bent legs” move looks super intimidating but E. Teacher broke it down enough to make it possible.  I love the “no pressure” vibe in this class, as I’ve said before.

My only problem at barre was that E. Teacher wanted us to take a long balance in passe releve, which I can only hold for about two seconds (on left working leg) and not at all on the right leg.  So I alternated between holding passe releve with one hand at the barre or balancing with no hands on flat passe.

We did changements, echappes, and some kind of jump to fourth position that I’d never done before.  This was probably part of the whole “engaging our brain” thing. Unfortunately, my brain was occupied with trying to jump period, so I probably looked like I was doing lopsided jumping jacks or something.

During center, there was all this balancing in passe releve and then pirouette craziness that I pretty much messed up on.  Since barre went so well I took it all in stride.  So I can’t balance at all, no big deal, I can fondu! Or something like that…

At least I’m feeling cheerful tonight though.  I was feeling a little upset after morning class (re: my lack of balance) if the truth must be told, sometimes my flatlined learning curve just really gets me down.  Makes me feel like my efforts are hopeless, like I’ll never be decent at ballet. Such a sad thought…

At Least a Positive + a Negative Still =’s Neutral

Ever have one of those days when it feels like your day got flipped a whole 180 and you’re left wondering what the hell went wrong? If not, consider yourself lucky, and if you care to see what that is like, read on.

Original half of the post (up until the beginning of evening class part) was written way earlier and has not been edited since.

Wednesday morning class

As morning class ended, I was so high off ballet happiness that I practically floated to my car. If only after every class I could feel this way – but then maybe when I do it wouldn’t feel so special… Food for thought.  But seriously, I was in such a great mood that I didn’t even notice traffic on the way home. More evidence for our thoughts influencing our reality, I guess.

What was so great about today’s class? Let’s see, not only did plenty of things go right but, more importantly, nothing really went wrong.

During the plie and tendu exercise with port de bras, Teacher very enthusiastically said “Good, K (insert real name)!”  Then as we did our tendu and degage exercise without holding the barre I felt more stable than I had when we previously tried it.  I may be closer to finding my one-legged balance (while moving the other leg) than ever before. Then we did a coupe, passe and ronde de jambe exercise, again without holding the barre, and that also went without a single wobble.  Teacher also complimented me on my releve-sous-sus balancing with arms in high fifth, which for once I did without legs shaking.  The theraband exercises are really paying off!

One thing that struck me is that when I hear Teacher say “Ok, put away the barres!” when it’s time to go to center I actually don’t get this impending doom feeling at all anymore.  Or maybe that was just today.  But I have realized that I actually enjoy center, which would have been inconceivable as little as 3 or 4 months ago.

We practiced different ways of ballet-walking across the floor.  My pas de cheval walk is feeling more stable every day, and  I’ve finally overcome my fear of looking at my reflection in the mirror at class while in center.  Before there was just this constant fear of it looking so horrible – wrong arms, wrong posture, wrong lines, wrong everything – that I wouldn’t ever want to attempt doing anything ballet related in front of anyone again. We also did this other walk that just involved tiptoeing but pointing the feet when they are off the ground and slightly crossing in front.

Then came ballet running.  I’ve written on this blog previously about my difficulty with ballet running, which is aggravated by my fear of drawing attention to my chest.   Luckily – see, today’s class was awesome – the guy that made the comment about breast-weight a few semesters ago was not in class today.  Or else I would have felt so uncomfortable, and it would have potentially ruined this so-far-perfect class day…

I know it’s irrational to let one person have such an impact on one’s mood but to feel publictly called out about an issue that I feel is out of my control (body type) is really embarassing me for me.  Also, sometimes some of the more advanced students have this mean-girls, sort of catty behavior and I just try to fly under their radar.  Thankfully, that was mostly a first semester phenomena and I have seen way more diversity the following semesters as far as body shape and size, age, and even ethnic background which is really cool. I love diversity in ballet!

Today I wore my black tights, which had been a little tight (pun?) in the waistband area last time I tried them on (2 months ago), giving my torso a sausage-like appearance.  The good news is that they felt a less tight around the middle. The bad news is that even though I rarely wear them – only one time last semester – they appear to be really stretched out or worn in the legs.  So strange, because I don’t think I’ve worn them a total of 20 times since getting them.  Oh well, they’re just my emergency tights anyway.

Rather than doing sautes (like I said, today’s class was perfect! ), Teacher spent the last few minutes of class teaching us different ways to bun our hair.  Some of the girls’ hair tends to fall out during turns so that’s what brought on our bun tutorial. Last semester, Strict Teacher taught us how to do a ballet bun, but today I also learned other ways of doing it. Looks like a ballet-hair blog post is in the near future…

Evening class

Why, oh why did I not just stay home and call it a day after morning class? I know, because I’m a ballet addict.  But seriously, I should have just taken the night off and celebrated or something.

We had a sub.  That in itself would not be a problem, escept fot the fact that it was a girl that I took class with during my disastrous first semester taking ballet!  A girl that I remember often giggling as we beginners stumbled and collided through across the floor combinations.  I’m not really comfortable giving too many specifics on this public blog – and it somehow seems immature of me to completely trash some girl a dozen years younger than me –  but I will just say that this girl is not very nice and I don’t think I would have even liked to take class with her again.  Certainly not have her as my teacher.

Unfortunately, I was already situated comfortably at a barre with the other students by the time she walked into the room.  I’m much too shy to take such bold action as to walk out on class. And, like I said, I’m a ballet addict. So I decided to stay for the class.

She asked the group how class was usually run.  Out of the 10 or so students, no one spoke up except for the 2 most advanced students. So she gives us this long barre combination that includes grand plies in fourth! Of all the times I’ve been going to this class ( I’ll later check my archives to update the exact number), about 9 classes or so, we have never so much as stood in fourth.  We had at least several students who don’t even know how to tendu, but since the 2 most advanced -one of whom is really advanced, possibly even an ex-pro – were the only ones who were not too intimidated to say anything, we went ahead and tried the combination.

It went horrible.  I was unable to find my concentration, and while I wasn’t completely messing up, I know I could do so much better. There was no way I could just focus on what I was doing when I kept having flashbacks to my first few months of ballet. I mean, I remember back then I would try to get a barre spot somewhere where she would never be in a position to see me. That’s how intimidated I felt! So out of nowhere I felt like someone who’s only been taking ballet for weeks or something.

It didn’t help that her variations of barre exercises for the more advanced students were way too advanced for me. This is going to sound so bad, but the last couple of weeks I’ve almost gotten used to being among the more experienced people in class.  Mostly because the more “beginner” version of the move is too basic, like not using arms at all or something. Well in this class it was like all or nothing: either you held your arms out in second the whole time, or you can do things that I’ve never seen in class in person before.  Like stuff the pros do in class on youtube.

The craziest thing is that thanks to the newfound strength in my legs, I was actually able to hold all my releve balances.  Every single one.  If I hadn’t been so preoccupied with the whole teacher fiasco I would have been thrilled.

Center. Ah center, I think we have a love/hate relationship. Earlier I was singing it’s praises and now… I just don’t know anymore.

We did that pas de cheval walk that I’ve become quite proficient at. Of course, she did give me a correction: to look up. In morning class I know to look up because I just look straight ahead into the mirror. But at this moment I was, however slightly, reverting to first semester behavior.

The more advanced students were supposed to do the walk for the first half, and then ballet run the rest. The idea of ballet running – and bouncing – at this movement were more than I could bear.  So I huddled with the beginner students, waiting for my turn.

What cheered me up – and really kept me from wanting to cry – was these two adorable little girls, probably around 3 or 4, outside the studio windows who were trying to dance like us.  It made me smile.

She gave out a combination that apparently the advanced students were familiar with, while the rest of us stood there dumbfounded. She told us to just leap or do something. I managed to produce a couple mediocre jetes, and I forgot my arms completely. So I guess it was below-mediocre jetes.

Then we did sautes. On my first one I pointed my feet more than I’d ever seen them point during a jump before. Unfortunately, after that I was either tired or didn’t want to bounce – or both – so I never got that height or pointing again.  For the advanced version, she like, fluttered her legs in the air or something I’ve never seen in person before.

There was no reverance. Boy, was I ready to get out of there though! Classes like these make me wonder if I’m better off just practicing at home instead.

The little girls were still dancing outside as I walked out. They were putting on a “show” for a passerby lady by that point. Too cute!

I only run if I’m being chased

I’ve been enjoying my new practice area complete with giant mirror tremendously.  It’s really been helping me get an idea of how I look in motion while I’m moving (so I can instantly correct it, rather than try to remember what I need to adjust).  I’ve especially been enjoying practicing glissades, pas de bourees, and balances (the jumping side to side move, not actually the art or balancing, which I am also improving on.)  Since I have so much space to work with, I’ve even been working on one of my weakest points, running.

I am not one of those people who enjoy running as a hobby or way to stay in shape.  I’ll take hiking and uphill walking over running any day.  I’ve had friends tell me that they love it, it’s relaxing, etc, but I must be missing something because I just don’t see the appeal.

Now, ballet running, I’m not sure how I feel about it.  I’ve seen it done right, and it looks beautiful, graceful, like the dancers are so lightweight and about to float away.  How do they do that?! It appears that I am having trouble making sense of the instructions the teacher gave us on how to ballet run.

She said to keep our feet turned out. Ok that makes sense, since it is ballet after all.  Then it gets more confusing because she said to run fast, like you’re being chased or the building is on fire.  The problem is, when I try to run faster I tend to look even less graceful.  Like I’m doing some kind of crazy sprinting thing complete with bent arms.  She also possibly said to keep our knees bent, or was it to always land in plie?  At times like these I wish I could have just recorded everything the teacher ever said so that I can listen to it again and again at my leisure and practice it repetitively at home until I get it right.  In private.

Because there’s another problem, one that the other girls in the class didn’t have: when I run, I bounce. A distracting amount, for sure.  I mean, even when practicing by myself at home the bouncing manages to distract me!  In class, more than once I caught someone blatently staring at my chest as we were doing the bouncier, more running-ish part of class.  It was so awkward!  It remind me of p.e. class in high school when the more well-endowed girls would always cross their arms during the jumping jacks segment to hide the bouncing.  Except in ballet class, instead of crossing your arms to hide the bouncing, your arms are wide  open and everything is like RIGHT THERE.  Not to mention that besides the whole aesthetics of it, when your boobs are heavy and they bounce, it hurts.  A lot.  So there you are, trying to hold your balance, make sure your arms are in the right place, and make sure you get that grimace of pain off your face!

I’ve seen for myself that practice, while it may not make perfect, it does make improvement.  And improvement is all that I ask for.  But this ballet running thing is so discouraging!  I don’t know if all I can hope for is a teacher that doesn’t include a lot of running in her combinations or if there is actually hope for me improving on this particular aspect.   I’ll keep a positive attitude and continue to practice but this may be one of those things which my body just may not be made for.