This week I started my near-daily ballet session at my school that will continue for a little over a month (which we’ll call a mini-intensive – my teacher’s words). Since it’s Beginner level class and this is only the first week, it hasn’t gotten too intense yet – mainly a lot of focusing on technique and engaging all the muscles. It’s been a lot of fun though, and I’ve been loving being in class that often, not to mention the extra long length of the classes (2 hours each). Though it’s a really large class size, out teachers (F Teacher and R Teacher) have been good about getting around the room with corrections and personal attention.
Here are some highlights and combinations:
Really nice long barre. The combinations themselves are not really long though, just a lot of them, which I like. I miss going directly to the second side without stopping though. My releve balances at the barre with no hands (all two-footed) were nice and stable, even after quick releves or after 8-8-4-4-2-2-1-1-1-1, which used to tire out my legs so much that balancing was especially tricky.
When we did our rond de jambe combination at the barre, R Teacher complimented my extension in our rond de jambe en l’air, but reminded me that I need to make sure my leg stays turned out (this was my left leg, which tends to lose its turnout slightly in extension – I’m working on it). I really like the fact that I’m getting adressed personally in corrections, because it’s so much easier for me to know what I need to focus on (which, apparently, is a lot of turnout).
In center, we did ballet walks with coordinating arm (from low fifth, up to middle and out to second), 3 ballet walks, arabesque balance, repeat. We also did chasses to arabesque across the floor, first leaving the back foot on the floor, then holding it up in the air for a balance.
We had some nice simple tendu combinations, like tendu devant with arm up in high fifth, tendu derriere with arms (not arabesque arm, like I’m used to, but the downstage arm up in high fifth (while the upstage leg tendus derriere), with the head angled like it’s looking under the arm)plie, chasse, other side. Another day we did 2 tendus each devant, a la seconde, derriere, then 2 1/2 soutenus (one to face the back, the other back to face the front again, but not a complete revolution), other side.
Towards the end of the week, out combination was 3 ballet walks, tendu devant croisse, tendu devant en face, tendu devant efface, fondu a terre, tombe, pas de bourre, tendu a la second, 1/2 rond de jambe to arabesque.
We did walks across the floor combined with a couple chaines, alternating the walks and the chaines. Then we did chaines across the whole studio. The right side went ok, though I was really dizzy by the time I got to the other side of the enormous studio. The left side we did twice (don’t know if that was intentional or not, since my line accidentally went twice in one of the other across the floor combinations), and during the first time F Teacher said “Good!” (and then, of course, I lost focus and started messing up. But it was nice anyway). During the second time I was either tired or something, because by the middle of the way across the floor I was done. I mean, I still held it together to get across, but my turns were wobbly and I was having trouble spotting. Other than this last time across my spotting was actually not too bad, so I just have to learn to do more turns in a row.
Sautes went ok. We’ve been doing the basic sautes in first, second, echappes and changements. No petit allegro yet (thankfully).
In general, I’ve noticed that I’ve gotten much better at remembering combinations. Granted, the combinations we’re doing are not of the extremely long and complicated variety, but still, I’m doing much better than a few months ago. This is an area that I needed lots of improvement in, as I used to have a tendency to be too busy freaking out about what the combination entailed – and, will I fall over? – to be trying to memorize it. This may be one of those things that get easier over time, sort of on their own. Even though I feel somewhat guilty for admitting this, because I feel like I should have been doing something actively to improve, I haven’t been doing anything to improve at this. Well, other than not freaking out about it…
These classes are of the type that have a dress code and everything, and it’s been kind of nice taking class in a room full of people wearing leotards and tights. Especially since at the two other studios I go to the attire for the adult ballet classes tends towards the laid back side more than the ballet-ish – yoga pants and T-shirts being much more common than leotards and tights. Even in Intermediate class at my stricter school (where I’m taking this Beginner session), the dress code is much more lenient, and towards the end of my last session I was going along with leaving a pair of leggings on over my leotard and tights. Sometimes I want to be in “uniform”, it makes class extra special – I mean, I dance around my kitchen in sweats everyday anyway.
Another thing, that I didn’t mention previously, was that I was feeling high amounts of anxiety over the weekend before the ballet session started. I knew I was going to go anyway (because it’s an amazing deal that I knew I couldn’t pass up), but I was totally freaking out about … I don’t know … I guess seeing some of the same people from school, and what if the vibe of the class was too intimidating. Pretty dumb, because by now I’ve pretty much established that the Beginner class usually has a laid back group. The good news is that at some point I recognized that I was being irrational. I still didn’t know what to do about it, but then I started playing with my hair and put it up in a silly hairstyle, then imagined going to class like that, and the reactions I would get. That seemed to take the intimidation out of it, and by the time the first class came about I was feeling much less anxious. I think I’m going to try that one whenever I start freaking out.