Tag Archives: corrections

The Silent Treatment…

As a brand new dancer, I didn’t quite know what to make of being ignored in class. I remember, several months into it, thinking that it may mean that I was doing everything right at the barre – which sounds  really ridiculous, I know, but I had zero experience with ballet class culture, or ettiquette outside of that class. As time passed, since I did not get any personalized attention, or corrections, it was up to me to take initiative and apply the corrections that I heard others be given. Of course, at that level of experience it was hit or miss; a correction such as ‘arm at the barre in front of you, never behind’ is obviously easier to apply than ‘pull up on your standing leg! Reach energy past your fingers!’.

Eventually though, I started to get the feeling that if the teacher doesn’t correct you it might be a very subtle way of telling you that you aren’t good enough, and even with correction you still won’t be. I mean, before, when I couldn’t tell a point from a sickle I could lie to myself that I wasn’t getting corrected because I was doing it right, but once my ballet-vision was honed enough that I could see mistakes, it was obvious that wasn’t the case. For the record, I don’t consider it ignoring if I notice the teacher only gives general group corrections, but when it’s a teacher that is very hands-on I wonder if I’m giving off a ‘don’t approach me’ vibe, or if they feel that I’m not teachable. Or worse, not worth their time.

Since my second teacher did not offer me personalized corrections much either – though she did correct my sickled foot in coupe, and I’m grateful for that – I did start feeling apprehensinve about getting the same treatment from any future teacher I ever tried. My third teacher was the general-group-correction type, but then I met Teacher, who was super specific with her personal – and physical – corrections and got me whipped into shape in no time (it was during my time taking classes with her that what I was doing began to vaguely resemble ballet instead of some strange exercises in arm and leg coordination).

And,well… I really hesitate to discuss this publically… but lately in one of my classes I think I’m being ignored. And honestly, I don’t know how to feel about it. Is it that anything that could be corrected (Faster! Higher! Hold your balance longer!) is something that is beyond my physical ability, as judged my the teacher? Should I trust the teacher that if she sees anything that is within my control to fix that she will tell me? But it’s hard to just trust the teacher when you feel that they might look right past you, and therefore your mistakes might just be invisible…

I’ve read articles before about what to do if you would like the teacher to pay you more attention, but those articles are mostly geared towards teens and pre-pro kids. I feel awkward asking this particular teacher to pay me more attention, because while I don’t like it, I understand that I am not a high-priority student for her. There’s no possibility of me having a career as a dancer, and it’s not her responsibility to satisfy people’s hobby aspirations. But (and I feel like there’s no way to say this without sounding at least a little mean, but I’m trying not to/it’s not my intention) there’s other people in there who also don’t have a possibility of a career and it seems like they get a little more attention? So I start to think it means there’s something wrong with me…

This also brings up the question, what IS the limiting factor when determining who can possibly have a dance career, however short-lived, local/regional, or unpaid (which, as unpaid, would not technically count as a career, per se, but I basically mean dancing with a company, I guess, even if it was not the way the person earns a living). Is it strictly based on age? I know some dancers continue to dance well into middle age, but they did not start as adults so that’s a different story.

Well, anyway, before I go on more tangents, I’d just like to say that when I get corrected often it helps me see how I still have so far to go, while still believing that it’s possible, that the teacher believes I can do it, that I WILL do it. And I do think that just as I am aware of how far I’ve come, raising the expectations will keep me working harder and that’s something I want. But what am I to do, but keep working, working, working, and be grateful for all those teachers that do think I’m worth their time…

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Promenade Progress, Weird Coincidences, and Class Performance

After a slightly rough start it ended up being a great ballet week.

Possibly the biggest breakthough I had this week involved promenades. As you may remember, I’ve been complaining about falling out of promenades ever since … well, ever since I first attempted one – balancing issues, you know? In fact, when I made a ballet goals post abour six months ago, getting a clean promenade to both sides was in there (and most of the goals I wrote could be self-described as ‘unlikely’).

So, this past week NS Teacher gave us this combination: developpe devant, brush the leg through to arabesque, promenade in arabesque, penchee, promenade in attitude, allongee(sp?), other side. I was pretty nervous, but I told myself that I was going to really try it, not just give up on it about halfway through because I feel like I’m not going to be able to make it all the way around anyway. And. to my surprise, I did make it around, in both arabesque and attitude promenades and to both sides!

Then another day at another class at NS it got even more intense. We did this combination with sets of three petit battements while going down in plie (I guess fondue?) then petit battements up to retire as we straightened the supporting leg, extend leg a la seconde, fouette so the leg is in arabesque (no, not fouette en tournant, the turns from the Black Swan variation; just the facing change kind of fouette), promenade, faille through, pick up pas de bourre, repeat other side. Wow, this was a challenging combination! As NS Teacher first gave the combination I started feeling a little panicky, because, I mean, petit battements in center (!) and then following that up with promenades, that’s a lot of pulling up on that supporting leg. But I got through it again without losing my balance. I’m not saying I did the combnation perfectly or anything – I think my fouette resembled a partial rond de jambe en l’air more than anything – but still, I’m pleased with my progess on promenades.

In regular school we did a nice and long – yet slow and doable – waltz combination that was really fun because of how dance-y it felt. It was balancé right and left, then balancé front and back, this little turn that took six counts with a step that felt like half pas de bourre and half easy waltz step, then tombe, pas de bourre, pique sous-sus, soutenu, other side. One of the times we did the combination we forgot to stop after going through both sides twice and G Teacher let us keep going and the next thing we knew the music was over and we’d danced the whole thing! It was a lovely moment.

Then – coincidentally – both NS Teacher and G Teacher gave me corrections on “moving bigger”, on playing it less safe. With G Teacher it was at the barre when doing our chasse en avant and en arriere and with pique sous-sus, with NS Teacher it was also with pique sous-sus.  They both want to see me really travel, and gave me a literal little push to get me started in the right way. You know… for a while now I’ve found it a little odd when two or more teachers (especially at different schools) suddenly start giving me the same exact correction they hadn’t given me before. It’s like, do I pick up glaringly bad habits overnight that come to their attention the same day… or do ballet teachers talk amongst one another? I know that sounds unlikely (even though I do think the local ballet/dance community might be small enough that they all know each other, I think they probably have better things to do with their time than compare notes on individual students), but often times I’ll go to two different classes at different schools the same day and the two different teachers will either give out very similar exercises to the class, or have us work on the same exact things. And no, we don’t do the same things every day, or have time to do it all on the same day, which is why it seems even more coincidental. I’ve been noticing this for almost two years now, ever since I first ventured away from my main school to try out other classes. Is there like a place where teachers get their lesson plans (like, ‘this week we should work on glissades’, for example), or communicate with each other and that’s why they end up coordinating, or is it truly a coincidence?

(For the record, at my wise old age I personally believe there’s no such thing as coincidences… feel free to think I’m weird – if you didn’t already – all you want…)

This other really fun combination we did was two sissones ferme (left and right), passe releve and bring it to fourth in back, pirouette en dehors, repeat to other side. The hardest part was the pirouette, of course, but I kept up to tempo and found it enjoyable. This combination was during a class that had mostly more advanced students (I think two of them are teachers as well) and I was one of the beginners, so it was nice to keep up. And only once did I accidentaly do a glissade instead of a sissone.

The other exciting thing was that we did our small in-class performance! This one wasn’t in the real theater with real costumes and everything, just in the studio for the rest of the class, but I managed to get a video (the main downside of performing in the real theater is that there is No Filming Allowed). I did the Spanish dance from Coppelia, which was short and relatively straightforward, but very fast. When I have a choice in th matter I tend to gravitate towards slower, more adagio-like choreographies, so this was out of the comfort zone and Iiked it.  First I marked it at home to commit it to memory, then I worked on getting it up to tempo in a practice room at school. The most challenging aspect for me was the quick balancés, because the floor’s so slippery and when you’re moving that fast and the floor feels slippery it can get scary. So while practicing I made sure to keep the soles of my slippers damp (by stepping on a moist paper towel, which I save and reuse for next time) to provide more traction and that helped with the fear or slipping.

Unfortunately, when it came time to perform it instead of rehearsing, I didn’t remoisten my shoes, and of course I remembered when I was already starting the dance. It was just like a repeat of the show a couple of months ago in which I forgot part of my costume backstage and realized as soon as I stepped onstage! Luckily, I get through it, and I didn’t slip, or lose my balance, or freeze up, or any of those things that can happene while performing. I’ve watched the video a bunch of times, and besides this part where I’m carrying my arms a bit too behind in second, I’m satisfied with my perfromance. I’m not saying it’s great, but for someone who started ballet (for the first and only time)  when they were almost 30 and has only been dancing for as long as I have, I’m impressed. It’s ok to be impressed with youself, I think…

The rest of my classmates also performed their dances, and they were quite impressive too. I especially enjoyed watching the Bluebird variation, the Lilac Fairy (both from Sleeping Beauty), and Basilio’s variation from the grand pas of Don Quixote. There were also a few original short choreographies from the more beginner dancers, which were quite good. I know they don’t believe me, but I always tell my newer classmates how their dancing is really coming along. Peer support, I believe in it.

 

Developing That Developpé, A Trick For Balancing, And An Amazing Find

If there was something that I surely got out of my last class this week, it was this group correction from F Teacher: when doing a developpe, after the part when the foot is in retire, bring up the thigh first before the extension (once again, I’m doing a horrible job of describing it, but all I know is that since I started applying this correction my extension – in all directions but especially devant and a la seconde – got much higher). While it makes perfect sense, I had not actually been doing this before. Lift and extend works much better than extend and (try to) lift and the leg feels much lighter. I think NS Teacher had mentioned this before during her class, but it had been during center and I had been focusing too hard for the correction to make it to long term memory. But now it’s definitely stuck in there.

Also, she told us to make sure our weight is not over the heels of our feet, throwing off our alignment (while doing developpes this was said, but F Teacher is constantly reminding us to shift our weight). A suggestion was made that it should feel like we’re going up on releve, except we’re still on flat. While developpes on releve are no problem for me strength-wise (at the barre, and once  I did one one on releve in center at NS), I did notice that after she mentioned this and I started to actively shift my weight forward when doing them on flat. It appears I need to work on doing this all the time as well, and this may have to do with why my alignment is a little wacky on one-footed releve.

R Teacher mentioned to me that I’m not using my core to the fullest, and this may be what is throwing off my balance on pirouettes. Since I did feel that I was using my core somewhat, at first I wasn’t understanding what she meant. It took a practice session with me constantly checking on my side alignment to really understand, and she was spot-on – I appear to be engaging my lats more than my deep lower abdominals, giving me the appearance of my weight being back just a bit. This is something I will be working on during class now that I know what to look out for. This is the part where a beginner class will make you so sore from having every muscle in the body engaged and pulled up.

Speaking of which, something I’ve been doing to help me improve my balance further, especially with little tiny weight shifts and adjustments, is standing on my roller at home. First I would practice doing this up against the wall with my fingertips lightly resting on it, then when that seemed easy  I moved away from the wall and started working on it there. At this point I’m working on doing port de bras while balancing up on the roller. I do think this has helped me with holding long balances because I must be pulled up as much as possible to not lose my balance and fall off.

In center, we did pique sous-sus as preparation for soutenu turns across the floor. My pique sous-sus derriere (en arriere? I don’t know, other than ballet-french, I know absolutely no French) was the most precarious, but I think it may have been because I wasn’t feeling ultra confident about that one. When we did them a la seconde across the floor (like if we were going to turn,  but without the turn) it felt a bit odd because we were closing to the back, so we could do the next pique sous-sus, and if we were turning we would have closed to the front. I adapted quicker than my usual slowness though.

We did chasses across the floor as well, both to arabesque pose and into saute arabesque. So fun! Also these little leaps, not quite grand jetes but like a prance, like we’re skimming across the floor (not emboites).

For sautes we devided up into the men and ladies, for different tempos. (since we actually have like 6 guys during this session) The girl’s tempo was quick, but I think I’ve improved since last summer at keeping up with it. The guys’ tempo was slower, to allow more time for powerful jumps. After each group did the combination twice (sautes in first and second, changements, echappes), we all did the slower tempo. My legs were already tired, but I still enjoyed the slower tempo jumps, as I do seem to prefer jumping up as high as possible rather than staying as low to the ground as I can and still point my feet. I also noticed that my changements are getting more powerful, and I’m starting to see that ‘sous-sus in the air’ as F Teacher puts it.

While out for a neighborhood walk, we saw that one of the neighbors had thrown out a mirror (it had a sign that said ‘Free’ on it. In its previous life, I think it was a closet door.). Boyfriend returned in a car, picked it up, put it on the wall, and now my home barre has a (much larger) mirror to go with it! Oh my gosh, it makes home practice even more fun!

Some pictures of my home-studio-in-progress. Barre is still holding up nicely six months later.

 

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The mirror and barre

 

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With my old mirror next to it in comparison – quite a size upgrade

 

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And I can put the barre lengthwise if I want to get a front view instead

A Class Story, And Some Class Notes

This is really random, a story – or more like just a happening – that happened in ballet class about a year ago.  It’s been kind of swirling around my head, ever since I got my new shoes, so here goes. It’s a little gross though, so if you’re weak-stomached you may want to skip on down to my class notes.

We were at the barre, facing it, and I think I was at the second barre from the mirror (relative to where I was facing). To my right there was the side wall of the studio.  At some point, while looking down towards the floor (probably tucking in that stupid drawstring), I noticed some movement.  It was an insect of some kind walking along the wall towards the front, a beetle perhaps, something substantial  and hard to miss, unless you’re completely focused in class (as I should have been before, apparently).  Well, it starts deviating from it’s path along the wall, and my barre mate and I are kind of like “Ewww, I hope that thing doesn’t come near us when it’s sit on the floor stretching time.” (in silence – all about the facial expressions and body language!).  So, it passes by our barre and by this point in class we’re practicing releves, just going up and coming back down, with and without a plie.  The insect/beetle/whatever it was keeps walking and right when it gets to the barre in front of us the student there comes down from releve – right on it. My barre mate gasped, quietly enough to not draw any attention. To this day I don’t know if the lady in front of us ever found out. She was wearing pink, cloth, split-sole slippers, so I always wondered if her shoes were ruined, the fabric stained, and if she ever knew why. It’s just been bugging me lately…and I sort of know her, so sometimes I get this crazy idea to mention it to her. I won’t, off course.  I think that’d just be mean. Perhaps we should have alerted her,… but I feel like in ballet class you don’t talk to your classmates out of respect to the teacher.

What would you have done?

The latter part of the week was much better dancewise, thankfully.

During class with Teacher, I focused more during barre combinations, and managed to avoid making dumb mistakes involving using the wrong leg or closing back instead of front. I got corrected on my rond de jambes though, the timing specifically. When doing them fast I tend to get overzealous and go too fast. Teacher just calls out “Listen to the music!”. I need to work harder on that, because I get so caught up in technique things like keeping my leg straight and turned out and stuff. Must work harder!

Center felt much better as well. By this point I’d memorized enough of the adagio that I could focus more on doing it instead of trying to remember it. One of the things that I figured out is that the promenade does not do a whole 180 revolution – we start from croisse right and then promenade until we’re facing croisse left.  That makes holding the balance so much easier! The deep lunge circular port de bras cambre thing is still feeling precarious, but I think I could get more range of motion once I stop worrying about falling over. I really do like this combination, but then, I’m usually partial to adagios.

We did this chaines combination that was different from the one last class, but just as hard: chasse a la seconde and then chaines for either 4 or 8 counts (I forgot), then repeat. My whole across the floor group was not on timing and by the end I had no idea if it was the chaines or the chasse portion of the music. Needs work for sure, but I think this may be a little out of my skill level for now.

Teacher told us that our saute arabesque, pas de chat x2, saute coupe, repeat across the floor was looking much better than last time – yay.  To the left I messed up a little but to the right it did feel smoother. After class I practiced it to the left for a few minutes.

At New Studio, we started with a shorter barre than usual so that we could do an extended center. I wasn’t feeling super stiff during barre, surprisigly.  I remembered to slide my feet into a smaller second position when balancing on releve and my balances were much more stable. Since NS Teacher is always telling us to slide our feet close to the body’s midline when we releve on fourth, I was hoping she wouldn’t mind. When I remember to do this in fourth my balances are much better, I’ve noticed. I can actually do the balance in fourth  with arms in third arabesque when I bring my feet in more towards the middle.

Extended center translated to a lot of pirouettes, from fourth with the leg in front and from fifth. NS Teacher taught us this little trick for holding our arms when doing pirouettes. She said to keep our arm ourt in front, and the other arm that comes to meet it should be the only one that moves.  She said as proof that our arm stayed in front we should “hit” our hand with our other hand. I tried it, and got around (and these were from 5th!). She also told me to stop focusing so much on getting around, to just focus on going up with correct technique and it’ll happen.

Across the floor we did this combination that was saute arabesque, failli, and then a turning balance, repeat all the way across.  The turning balance was like a turn while taking little steps, with the arms going up one at a time.  They were fun, and less scary to do than they looked. I though of this combination as the opposite of the chasse, tour jete combination combination we did last week.

We also did this combination that was assemble, chasse backward, assemble, developpe upstage leg, chasse forward, assemble, sous-sus balance, repeat other side. NS Teacher chastised me for following another student instead of remembering the combination. I was having trouble remembering the seemingly easy combination because off the direction changes. Oh, and the fact that assembles are one of my weakest jumps and I was focusing more on that than doing the combination.

The saute combination was 8 in first, 8 in second, 8 changements, balance in sous-sus and bourre turn around, then repeat the whole thing.  It was pretty fun, and I liked that I didn’t mess it up too bad (or at least as bad as the across the floor combination).

Hope next week’s a good dance week!

Also, there’s a private post if those of you with the password  (same one, as always) want to check it out at https://balletandorbust.wordpress.com/2015/09/12/whatd-i-get-myself-into/

If you don’t have the password, send me an email at balletandorbust at inbox.com. Don’t be shy, LOL, I have some exciting news!

Some More Insight Into My Crappy Pirouettes

While the exception of the somewhat rare good turning day, I consistently struggle to do cleanish pirouettes – still.  Quarter pirouettes, half pirouettes, no problem – it’s only when I go for a full revolution that my pirouettes fall short (except for those previously-mentioned good turning days, but even then, if I make it all the way around it doesn’t mean my landing will look pretty).

In class at New Studio we were working on pirouettes, both standalone pirouettes and pirouettes in the middle of a combination (which I mentioned a few months ago are more likely to work out).  It was definitely not one of those good turning days.  However, I was able to come out of class with some ideas of where exactly the problem lies in my technique when it comes to pirouettes.

NS Teacher corrected me on losing my turnout mid pirouette, on my working leg. It reminded me that I have received this correction before, but I have no idea how to go about applying it.  In the instant before going for the pirouette there are so many things I’m thinking about like remember the foot in passe goes to the front of the knee, and remember to pull up, and remember to engage your core/lats. And I’m so focused on these things that apparently about mid-way through the pirouette my working leg’s turnout muscles relax enough that I’m not turned out anymore.  Or maybe the rest of me turns but my leg decides to stay behind? I do wonder if that may be a big part of the reason why my pirouettes suck…

Also, one of my classmates pointed out to me that my supporting leg bends a little bit. Apparently I start out going up in a high passe releve, but sometime around the middle of the turn I bend my supporting leg slightly. I had absolutely no idea that I do this. It may happen around the time my working leg loses it’s turnout. She also pointed out that I’m not spotting.  This I did know, as I still struggle to spot during pirouettes.  When doing pique turns, chaines, soutenus, or other turns that travel it’s much easier for me to spot, so I’m not sure why I find it incredibly hard to spot during pirouettes.

The rest of class wasn’t quite so discouraging though 🙂

At barre we worked on fouette (not the turns from the Black Swan coda in Swan Lake, (thankfully, as I’d probably go flying across the studio then!) ), which involved having our leg extended out in front of us andthen quickly pivoting 180° towards the barre so that we’re facing the other side with our leg out in arabesque.  Then in center we worked on a different move that NS Teacher also referred to as fouette.  This time we were standing in fifth croisse, then tendu devant, then fouette which meant that we quickly turned around (towards our back leg) so that we were now facing croisse in the opposite direction with our other foot already tendu out in front of us.  When NS Teacher demonstrated it looked so hard! But then we tried it a few times and it was one of those things that looks way more deceptively harder than it actually is.  The rest of the combination had the same looks-hard-but-try-it-and-it’s-not-so-bad feel actually. After the fouette, we pique-stepped onto the foot that was out in front and closed the back leg into sous-sus, then brought  the front foot up to passe releve and down the back of the leg to fourth position, then pirouette en dehors from 4th.  This combination made me feel really good about my progress because stuff like bringing the foot up to passe releve from sous-sus used to be way past my current skill level, so I’m definitely improving. Of course, the pirouette portion of the combination was the sloppiest part…

We also did a tombe, pas de bourre, chasse, lunge, pirouette, repeat across the floor combination. It was fun, and felt almost graceful. And by this point my body was somewhat cooperating on the pirouettes, at least.

Getting (Somewhat) Comfortable…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adventures In A New Studio

So what have I been up to since my summer ballet session ended? Moping around, missing ballet? Nope! I’ve been taking class!

(Thanks to a former classmate) I found a(nother) local studio that advertised an adult ballet class. Not only that, class is more than once per week, and it’s affordable!  An offer like that was just too good to pass up, so I mustered up all my courage, called on the phone for more info., and the past week I’ve found myself taking class at a brand-new-to-me studio (Which I’ll refer to as “New Studio”, I guess?). I know that may seem like no big deal, but if you’re a long time reader – or have gone through the archives – you may remember what a big deal it was to me back when I first tried going to Adults Only studio last year.  Trying out new things tends to terrify me…it’s a wonder I ever even worked up the courage to try ballet at all! (Though at the time I had absolutely no idea what was in store, so I’m sure that made it easier to get myself in there.)

The class itself is more towards the intermediate side of beginnerland.  Definitely would not have been suitable for me back when I first started, or even a year or half-year ago. It was just listed as “Adult Ballet”, so I had no idea about the level, though I had figured it may not be too advanced since a leotard was not required (though each time I’ve been there the majority of the class did wear leotards).  If I would have known, I would have been super anxious about going in, so I guess I’m glad that I didn’t know…

The teacher (New Studio Teacher) is pretty chill and laidback, though she doesn’t skimp on the corrections – always a good thing.   She said to really push the floor when we do our single leg releves, and I swear I felt like I grew an extra inch! I love when a correction really speaks to me, you know? There’s also hands-on corrections, like when we were in releve a la seconde she came over and moved my feet closer and turned them out more – of course then I couldn’t balance anymore…

Since I’m still new I haven’t yet figured out how the combinations go, both barre and center. So I keep messing them up… I also keep winding up in a spot where I have no one to follow when we do the second side, but I’m definitely not going to barge in and try to get a good spot in someone’s way.  When I’m new somewhere I always feel specially awkward, but I’m hoping it’ll wear off soon. The combinations are really pretty, so I do look forward to a time when I’ll be able to do them better. Or at least have the correct leg in front…

Center has been challenging, for the most part (and this is where the whole “a few months ago I wouldn’t have been able to keep up” part comes in even more).   Combinations include pirouettes, and we even did this thing where we did a pirouette en dehors into a soutenu turn. Well, the class did that, I kind of fumbled about. While I’m glad that class is more often than once a week, I’m even more glad it’s not daily so I can have some time to work on stuff at home. This combination went like this (I may be forgetting  a step here and there): pas the cheval devant, pique sous-sus, pirouette en dehors from fourth, into soutenu, developpe  a la seconde tombe pas de bourre, pirouette en dedans from fourth, tendu close, other side.

We also did this other combination that was tendus while changing facings and doing port de bas and pirouettes at the end.  I could sort of do it without the arms, and the pirouettes…

Petite allegro was fast, really fast.  I saw in the mirror that the speed had me reverting to unpointed feet for sautes and changements – ugh. There was also an entrechat in the combination, which I’m not even close to being able to do.  I remembered F Teacher had told me a few weeks ago just to modify a combination if I felt like I couldn’t do a step, so I tried just doing changements (which did NOT fit into the tempo somehow). We also did this other jump that I didn’t catch the name of – kind of like part pas de chat, part petite jete, but with one leg kicking out instead.  In another combination we did changements on demi point (the people en pointe did them en pointe) which I found much easier than regular changements – getting the ankles all the way down in the regular ones is the hardest part for me. Across the floor we did sissone-assemble, and at least I was doing that less horribly than I had been doing them during summer session. My assembles still suck, but I didn’t freeze up on the sissones, so I’ll count that as improvement.

We also practiced 1/4 and 1/2 pirouettes.  NS Teacher taught us about different preparations for pirouettes: starting from fifth with our right foot behind, then tendu a la seconde and close fourth in front, or starting with the right foot in front, then tendu a la seconde and close in fourth in back. I hadn’t ever tried the ones where you close fourth in front before, but they turned out to be about the same difficulty as the closing in the back ones. NS Teacher said that the ones closing in front are Russian style and closing in front are Balanchine style, which I didn’t know.  She also taught us the difference in arms and hands for both types of pirouettes. I still think pirouettes from fifth are the hardest though…

Anyway, I’m happy that I found some ballet classes to take while I wait for the next semester. While the level is a little bit out of my comfort zone I think it might help prepare me for intermediate class in the fall.  And of course I still have the option of going to Adults Only studio to take basic beginner class…