Tag Archives: fun ballet class

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.

 

It’s Official: I’m Terrible At New Things

Class at New Studio was lots of fun. It’s open level, so the difficulty varies depending on who shows up that day. Everybody that showed up this last time was sort of around the same level, so we were given a nicely challenging  (by my standards) barre and center.

Highlights:

Barre combination with fondues (3 fondu devant, the first with the foot barely off the floor, the second a bit higher, the third as high as we can, bring the leg back around to arabesque, holding it at that height, tendu down and close, reverse starting with fondues derriere) that felt so pretty. I just love fondues! We’ve been working on fondues at Beginner class at my regular school too, doing a similar combination (in this case, fondu devant a terre, then off, bring leg back to arabesque, fondu in to coupe ad reverse, all facing the barre).

We did a similat echappe releve combination to the one from class a few days ago. It was echappe to fourth, close to fifth, echappe to second, close to fifth, echappe to fourth, close fifth, sous-sus, reverse. This time it went much better for me, I don’t know if it was that it wasn’t the first time we did that and I wasn’t feeling completely rusty on my echappe releves, or the fact that NS Teacher insisted that  we use the mirror as we did the combination, making sure to keep our turnout in each position.

We started center with a tendu combination (2 tendu devant in croisse, 2 tendus ecarte, 2 tendus derriere, brush leg forward, failli, pas de bourre, other side) that was really fun to do (I still get a kick out of doing basic tendu combinations because for so long – back when I kept falling over in center – I wanted  to be able to at least tendu in center and make it look pretty).

Another combination we did was 4 balancés, tombe pas de bourre, chasse, pirouette en dehors from fourth, repeat. During one of the pirouettes, I did a 1 1/2 revolution. It was weird, because I know I went around at least once, but when I came down I was facing backwards (which really sucked for getting the rest of the combination done correctly). The rest of my pirouettes sucked. We did 2 pique turns, followed by three counts of chaines, repeat, across the floor after this, and at least those went ok.

Then we did 2 waltz turns, tombe, pas de bourre, glissade, assemble, repeat across the floor. The tempo was much too fast for me – it was time for the pas de bourre around the time I was mid way through my second waltz turn – so I struggled along,but even then I’m grateful, once again, that I can do this kind of stuff without falling over, even when it doesn’t look pretty yet.

We then did cabrioles, which I’d never tried before. They look so impressive when done correctly, but my body just did not want to cooperate. When we did cabrioles to the front, my legs kept wanting to assemble instead. When we did then to the back my body just had no idea what I was trying to tell it to do. I remember when F Teacher taught it to the more advanced students a few months ago (I didn’t try it), she explained it as something like a saute arabesque, then the supporting leg comes up. But even thinking of it like that  wasn’t helping my body cooperate. None of the other girls there were amazing at cabrioles, but I was the worst one. That’s always a good reality check, lest I start thinking I’m actually good – whenever we do something brand new, I’m often the worst.

Beginner class at my regular school went well also. Just as I suspected, Annoying Girl (from last post) does keep it down when F Teacher is teaching, making it a much mre pleasant environment. Barre was a little more fast paced, with more combinations going from one side to the next without stopping (including one where we went back and forth between sides several times, and was so fun). We did ronde de jambes, piques with port de bras, and frappes. I really like F Teacher’s frappe combination for beginners, because it really focuses on foot articulation. I remember back when I first started ballet I could not keep up with it at all, so I would practice it over and over at home until it started feeling somewhat automatic – it took so much time! So I do feel a bit like a fraud standing there doing it all smoothly and confidently

For center we did tendus devant, derriere in croisse, then change to en face tendu devant, a la seconde, chasse to other side, repeat other side, then the whole thing with degage instead of tendu. Nice basic combination, so I worked on making it look as pretty as possible, with epaulement and port de bras.

We did a waltz and balancé combo across the floor, first without turning on the waltz, then with the turn. It kept throwing me off because I’m used to starting from B+, with the upstage leg stepping, and the downstage leg brushing on the first waltz, and we were instead going right to brushing with the dowstage leg from first. So even though in theory it’s easier, since my body didn’t have it in muscle memory it felt harder. This is also a perfect example of what I mean about me still being really slow at picking up new things. (But as i often find myself thinking, ‘at least by now I more or less have my balance, so things – even new things – are not as hard as they were in the beginning’).

Another fun thing we did was a 4 glissade (with alternating leg in front) and sous-sus combo. Glissades are somethign else that took me forever to get decent at (and by ‘decent’ I mean, able to hold my balance and not fall over while landing, but also being strong enough t push off from the one leg), but the thing that was confusng me about these was the switching of the leg. A previous teacher had taught me that glissades never switch legs, so I’d gotten used to that. This whole doing-things-that-are-not-in-my-muscle-memory thing continues to present a challenge to me, so I’m hoping this will make me a better dancer.

While I’ve been loving taking class this often (and my body hasn’t been complaining too much), I’ve been feeling guilty at times about aspects of doing ballet. With this frequency in classes my dance wear’s taking a beating, especially my tights, with most of my pairs getting visible runs by now. I don’t want to just get the cheapest ones I can find (in my case the Theatricals brand from Discount Dance) if they’re going to run after wearing them once -literally – but the times I got the more expensive brand (Bloch), I wasn’t too impressed with the quality and they stretched out relatively fast as well. I’d like something that lasts for a good while without needing to be replaced. So I don’t know yet what I’m going to do, but I feel guilty about all the hidden costs of dancing, I guess. I know this is probably an unpopular topic – dare I say even a taboo topic? – but it’s a reality in my dancing life, and I’m hoping by writing about it I can help sort the issue out. I may just end up switching to leggings for my non-dress-code classes,  but then I’ll miss those unbroken lines…

 

A Very Ballet-ful Week

Wrapping up my week, I took two more ballet classes, Basic Beginner class and open level Adult Ballet. They were both really fun and I definitely think I’m over my fear of returning to ballet class sice my little break.

One of the things I’m having trouble with is remembering to hold back. Since I’m not feeling any pain I tend to want to throw myself into it full on, and I often need to remind myself to take it easy. Then the next combination begins and I’m trying to bring my leg up super high again or really fly in those galloping chasses across the room…

Even though I’m feeling so much better, I have to remember that I’m not at 100 % strength yet – well, the slightly shaky ankles during the first class I took this week reminded me. Gotta do more of the theraband foot exercises to rebuild my strength back to before my break. I managed to keep up my core strength by doing lots of core work and doing lots of bouncing on my exercise ball, keeping my torso upright and not letting myself lean forward on the “down” part of the bounces.

At the barre, I continued to feel like I’m remembering where I left off. These classes I had few mistakes as far as closing front or back, and stuff like that. Corrections involved working on my turnout (which I am being conservative with, at least until more time has passed since I hurt my hip. At home I’m doing turnout-muscle strengthening though), and keeping my pelvis from going into an anterior tilt. You know, the usuals…

I did feel like my musicality has improved (at least at the barre). I don’t know exactly when it happened, or who was the teacher responsible for fostering it, but I’ve definitely come a long way. This makes me happy because I’ve heard before that musicality cannot be taught, and I’d been worried. Perhaps it wasn’t something that was taught, but something that was there all along, just waiting to come out?

At center, we did pretty simple combinations, which I love because I can keep up and not spend the whole time worrying about what I’m doing next or how to not fall over. In one class we did tendus en croix with port de bras in croisse, then releve with arms in high fifth, pivot so that the standing and supporting legs switch, and do the other side. In my other class we did tendus devant, a la seconde, and derriere, then two pique sous-sus to the side, repeat other side.

We worked on pirouettes from fourth, and I was happy to see that at least my pirouettes have not gotten horribly worse (the last time I took Intermediate I had felt really off my game). They haven’t gotten better either, but after not really practicing pirouettes for a few weeks I couldn’t really hope for that.

Another really fun across the floor combination we did really let us combine different steps while still keeping it beginner and do-able. We balanced (the waltzy step) once, then did three either pique sous-sus balances or soutenus (or mix and match!), repeat, all the way across. So much fun! I worked mainly on making in clean and pretty and oh so dance-y. It was also a measure of progress for me, because I remember around six months ago I could do sloppy soutenus in center, but I couldn’t do nice slow clean ones, landing in a plie and holding it between each one, and apparently now I could. So yay!

We also did some sautes, which were not horrible, although not great either.  I have lost some of my stamina over my break, but I am still ahead of where I was a few months ago, which is a relief. Toward the end my feet were not so pointy, but a quick reminder from NS Teacher had me pointing again. My changements are not crossed enough, but that’s something that will take time, so I’m not stressing it too much.

My performance happened, and it was singlehandedly the most wonderful experience of my life! It was just absolutely incredible to have the opportunity to take part in this, truly a dream come true (except I don’t think I would have dared to dream this big back when I first started ballet). To think that I, a true beginner who took her first ballet class EVER only a couple years ago and doesn’t have the typical body shape chosen for ballet, got to dance on stage in this production alonside dancers who’ve been dancing their whole lives… it just amazes me. I am so incredibly grateful to one of my teachers, F Teacher, who put all of this together and allowed me the opportunity to be in her ballet (actually, I’d like to thank ALL my teachers, as all their corrections and help made this possible, from NS Teacher’s inclusion of bourres during barrework, to F Teacher’s emphasis on port de bras and really dancing and emoting at all times). I don’t think anyone would or could understand how much it means to me. This is one of the moments in my life that I can say that I’ve truly felt happy. I feel almost guilty about it, but I feel like now I have something amazing in my past to look back to, and I don’t think I’ve ever felt that way about any event in my past – not graduating, not meeting anyone, not any celebrations or milestones. (My many apologies to other events and people in my life)

I just felt so there. Like, for once in my life there was just definitely no way my mind could be elsewhere, and I was moving to the music and it felt like my whole body was happy. One of my main goals in ballet was to get decent enough that I could actually perform without it being a complete joke, so I definitely feel like I accomplished something. Though I tend to err on the side of modesty, I can honestly say that – especially since I worked my butt off to get here – I did a good job.

I got to wear a tutu!  *excited high-pitched squeal*

There’s a lot more details, so many more that it gets its own post:

https://balletandorbust.wordpress.com/2015/12/13/the-details/

And I’d like to once again mention how much WordPress’s new interface SUCKS. It took me forever to figure out how to get it posted correctly. When before it was just a simple click on a pull down menu, I just had to go through literally the whole WordPress dashboard to get this done. Argh! So much wasted time!

Expressing Myself And Social Experiments In Modern

While I’m happy to report that my minor injuries are doing much better (especially given the fact that the cold has not eased up at all), I still haven’t officially been to a ballet class since the last one I mentioned over two weeks ago. Part of it is that I’m still really nervous about reinjuring myself by doing any position besides first and second, part of it is just scheduling (I was really hoping to squeeze in Basic beginner class this weekend, but there was just no way, time-wise). This last week has been beyond hectic with long hours of rehearsals, studying for finals and other school stuff. However, as I’ve found, when you’re obsessed with ballet, somehow it finds its way into your life anyway.

 

I’ve done barre a couple times at home, though a very conservative beginner level barre. Plies, tendus, degages, releves, and a little bit of fondues – nothing too crazy. When I’m feeling better I desperately want to leap and twirl, but there’s the feeling of not wanting to reinjure myself before the performances. So I hold back, which is harder than I anticipated on the days when I’m feeling like my old self.

Another unexpected way ballet has crept in has been in Modern class. This week we did more improvisation stuff, instead of our usual structured warm up and class. M Teacher had us partner up and assigned one person in each set as the leader. The person following was to do exactly as the leader did. First there was a walking exercise, where we walked around at various tempos, depending on what the leader was doing.  We both took turns being the leader. Then, M Teacher switched it up and said that there was no leader, but we were to stay in our partnerings and stay close together to see what happens. That was so weird!

Then, after switching partners, we began a new exercise, which we started off seated facing each other.  This was an exercise in mirroring. My partner was the leader first, and she just had me do basic hand motions (and I think she ran out of ideas pretty quick). Then it was my turn, and I brought some ballet into it. We did pretty seated port de bras, going through the different positions first slowly, then at a quicker tempo. I had us doing swan arms, then stretching our legs out to the sides so we could do side bends resembling a barre stretch. As M Teacher called out that we were free to move and didn’t have to just stay seated, I got more into it. We stood up (in the way I figured out how to not stress my knees, by going into a plank and pushing up my hips to a downward dog position, then planting the feet and rolling up gracefully. More port de bras, then I added chasses and tendus, then temps lie. The girl I was partnered up with and I had spoken before, and she had told me that she’d never done ballet but she was curious about trying it (though afraid of wearing a leotard, and the body size pressure). So I kept it relatively slow and simple, but very flowy and graceful, sort of similar to the moves we’ve done before in a ballet class reverance (but without the bows). It felt so lovely to dance! When M Teacher told us to finish in a pose I brought us to a chasse into arabesque, holding first arabesque with my back leg just barely touching the floor. It was so pretty, and my partner told me she had a lot of fun.

The second day I had Modern this week we did more improvising, this time going across the floor. M Teacher divided us into groups and would call out the theme that she wanted us to do, like ‘slow’ or ‘fast’ or  ‘heavy’ or’melting’, etc.  There were some awesome displays of creativity from some of my classmates (especially the guys who’s theme was ‘heavy’ – they did this thing where they were almost dragging themselves across, simulating increased gravity. It was very entertaining to watch).

The first time my group went across, our theme was ‘low’ (as in low to the ground), so it was a little hard to pull off. The second time we started off with ‘melting’, so I did chasses, making sure to not lift my feet off the ground, nice and slow. Then, mid way through, she changed it to ‘happy’. I don’t know what it was, but I was totally feeling it. I took off, doing little leaps and saute arabesques across the floor, enjoying the lightweight flying feeling, feeling free, feeling actually happy. Afterwards I was really hoping that I wouldn’t regret all the jumping, but my body didn’t complain to me.

It’s funny, because I’ve heard from several dancers who were ballet trained but then prefer modern that the reason they prefer modern is because they feel like they can express themselves. But whenever I’m asked to improvise I find myself doing ballet. There’s nothing wrong with feeling like that’s how you express yourself the best, I hope. This may sound bad, but I really love doing ballet during modern because as long as you remember to use your plie it’s not quite wrong, and I can just dance without having to correct every single thing.

We also found our that for our Modern final we are going to be choreographing a short dance in partners. I love choreographing (not saying I’m good at it, just saying I enjoy it immensely), so that was a pleasant surprise.

I learned stuff about myself during this week of Modern though – and not just that I like to express myself balletically (which I think I already knew?) : while it’s hard to be a leader (unless it’s doing something I love, like ballet), and I am comfortable following, I was absolutely at a loss of what to do when there was no appointed leader. Like, I wanted to take the lead, but I was afraid the other person wouldn’t follow, so I kind of left it up to them.  And  the thing is, I’ve totally seen examples of this in real life, where I’ve been like ‘why is so and so telling us what to do?’. However, with my second partner, since she was so… I don’t know, I want to say ‘submissive’ but that sounds bad, it was easy for me to assume the leadership role when the teacher left it up to us. It’s like I want to be a leader, but I can only lead if the other person is content to follow, and anyone that’s more stronger willed won’t let me lead them. I don’t know, it sounds weid but I feel like I understand  myself – and society – a little better now. Like, there can never be a vaccum, it will always be filled by the person who exudes the most control, I don’t know how to explain it better.

Anyway, that wraps up this ramble. I am committing myself to attend ballet class this week, so we’ll see how it goes.

Basic Beginner Class – Just What I Needed!

After the past week of super hard ballet classes, I decided to take basic beginner class at Adults Only studio. As usual whenever I take this class, I came out smiling excitedly about how much fun I had. It feels incredible actually being able to do things with your body, especially things that you couldn’t do for a long time (On the other hand, as we were leaving I overheard some of my fellow dance students discussing how challenging and intense class had been! It’s amazing what 2 years of hard work can do). I really wish I could take this class on a more regular basis, but at more than double what any single one of my other classes costs to take, I don’t feel like it’s a consistent, reasonable option. Since I’m taking so many other ballet classes at the moment I feel especially guilty sometimes…

Anyway, on to actually discussing the class!

We did the majority of  barre facing the barre. Slow tendus and  degages, even slower rond de jambes, and lots and lots of plies. So I made sure to pay attention to all the technical details, On thing I was working on during the plies was the concept of using up all of the music. I don’t know if all beginners have this issue, or if it’s just me, but I tend to have a tendency during my demi-plies of kind of just dropping down and then coming back up. Not meaning that I’m not engaging my turnout muscles or core, just that they have a very distinctive up/down feel to them. I’ve been corrected before on how we should be using up all of the music, having a slow descent before reaching the lowest point and returning to stretched legs, also slowly.  Well, I worked on that during class as well as keeping my back straight and not leaning forward during grand plies. The slow rond de jambes were a good way to work on not losing any turnout when I pass through first, especially when doing en dedans rond de jambes, as I have been doing during the fast and complex port de bras kind in Intermediate Class.

We wrapped up barre with a fondu combination. It was fondu, close first, fondue, bring it up to passe, fondu,  extend, point, close.  We were still facing the barre, so we did en croix, both sides without resting. I liked how the emphasis wasn’t on getting our extensions really high (something I really like about basic beginner class.) I really liked how we did everything in first – turnout is so much easier in first. I’ll continue to work on my turnout, but it was nice to not have to worry about closing in fifth for one class.

Since I knew it was basic beginner class, I wasn’t dreading center. We started off with basic plies and tendus with arms going from low fifth to middle and a la seconde, then a short balance in passe releve. After that we did balancés, with and without port de bras.  Then balancés and waltz step across the floor, chasse to finish in first arabesque. During this part of class especially I enjoyed myself extremely (though the rest of class was fun, too). The combination was nice and slow so I could just dance without having to worry about trying to keep up.  I really like slow balances, and transitioning from the balaces to the waltz steps went pretty smoothly. It felt so dance-y!

Sautes were just in first, at a nice slow tempo. It was a nice change of pace. Since I finally feel strong enough to do them without sacrificing technique I’ve been disliking basic sautes in first much less. My new nemesis is the dreaded beated jumps…

Later on, I found myself at a family party/large gathering. I watched as the children at party played on the dance floor as the music played. They were twirling and spinning, some of them at times doing other things that looked like rough approximations of ballet steps – thought I saw some changement-looking jumps, pas de chat, and even some tour jetes. Children sure are fearless (though as one I remember having plenty of fear when it came to physical activity). They looked like they were having so much fun and I wished I could join them. I want to play, too! It made me think ‘Is the only place us adults can twirl, run around,  jump and have fun dance class?’ It was a sad thought, to be honest. I hadn’t felt that constrained by my age ever (that I remember).

That probably sounded weird…ehh, I guess I’m in a weird mood

A Good Long Weekend And Some New Shoes

A long weekend usually means extra days without class, but this time I think I managed to make up for it. Of course, the weekend had its low points as well…

Started off my weekend with a really fun class at New Studio. It was a small class, just 4 of us, so we were able to get lots of individual corrections, particularly in center.

Our first center combination was tendu devant from croisse with a nice port de bras, brush back through first while changing arms, into arabesque, then attitude, promenade, plie and allonge, pas de bourre, other side. I found  myself really enjoying this combination. Usually when we tendu devant from croisse I’m used to a different port de bras (the “downstage” arm opens to second, and the “upstage arm” goes to high fifth), so I find the port de bras NS Teacher gives us (“downstage” arm almost in the same placement, but the upstage arm stretches forward really delicately, almost like an arabesque arm) to be so much more pretty and graceful.  The first time we ran through the combination I did the port de bras I’m used to out of habit, but then NS Teacher called me out on it. The second time through I watched in the mirror as I did the new port de bras, and I actually was liking what I was seeing. When we brush back trhough first into arabesque our arms would change, “downstage” arm coming forward, then when our leg went into attitude “downstage” arm went up into high fifth, while “upstage” arm opened out to second. We kept this port de bras as we went around in our promenade. My promenade, by the way, felt so stable! I went around without losing the position for both sides for all the run throughs of this combination. I know promenade with an outstretched leg can be much more difficult than it attitude, but for now I’m glad to see improvement in any kind. A big difference I’ve noticed is that I feel really pulled up during the promenades, really using my muscles like if I was trying to balance in releve, but making small, barely off the ground, sideways movements with my foot.

Across the floor we did tombe, pas de bourre, glissade, assemble (using our change of feet to change our direction) , then to other side chase gallop, run, pas de chat devant.  Going towards the right I felt somewhat confident about the combination. It was quick, so there wasn’t a lot of time to think in between steps, like ‘wait, is my glissade pretty?’ or ‘how do you assemble again?’. Actually, these “traveling” assembles are much easier for me that the kind where you don’t do much side to side moving, though I still need to work on the arms. To the left though, I forgot what I was doing mid-combination and had to start from the beginning. Luckily, due to the small class size we were going once at a time. Or else I would have been ballet student roadkill…

We did tour jetes, which were much less scary today than the first time I was introduced to them.  Tour jetes to one side were actually fun, though to the other side they remain very awkward. I’ll take awkward over scary. The side that felt fun was traveling towards the left, which meant that the first leg to take off was the right leg.  We did 4 times chasse back from arabesque then tour jete then soutenu back in the opposite direction, and balance in sous-sus with arms up in high fifth.  To the other side, it felt so off, like I couldn’t get the fluid motion of it down. It may be that I’m much weaker on one side than the other, but I don’t have such a discrepancy from side to side when doing turns in general. I really like my improvement in doing them to the first side, at least. It was a really fun class though, the kind that feel definitely more towards the encouraging side.

A few hours later, I managed to get a splinter (or some splinter-like piece of debris) in my foot, right under my right toe. Ouch. The initial sting hurt, but we discovered that it was pretty deep up inside my under-toe. It had to be removed with a sewing needle – double ouch.  Thinking back on it, I don’t know I managed to do it, sitting there with my foot propped up as Boyfriend – wearing a head-light of some sort – performed minor surgery on me with a sterilized needle.  Oh yeah, I remember – breathing and more breathing. But I did keep thinking about ballet to distract myself, especially being grateful for the long weekend and the extra time for my foot to heal. It’s crazy how when you dance any “injury” – however small, and loosely the term is used – that’s foot-related can be feel like an inpending disaster

With a band-aid, post splinter removal

With a band-aid, post splinter removal

It’s been a couple days now. My under-toe is all healed up and ready to go! Even got in a home ballet practice session since there was no Monday class.

Then on Monday we went by a dance store store that I’d never been to. The reason I’d never checked it out is because I’d heard that they mainly just carry dancewear and shoes for children. But I had a coupon, so after calling to find out if they did carry a selection of items in adlut sizes (they did), we decided to check it out. My main motivation was tights, as the other dance store I go to had been out of my size in my preferred style the last time I’d paid them  a visit. I lucked out and found two remaining pairs of tights, and snached them up.

While there I also decided to check out their shoe selection. Before finding their selection of ballet slippers I did come across a clearance bin of pointe shoes – selling for $9.95!  So many pointe shoes! Not that I have a current need for pointe shoes or anything… but I did want to see what my foot would look like inside one, just out of curiosity…. I picked one up at random – I’ve never even held a pointe shoe before – and saw that it said size 9. Ok, so maybe I slid my foot inside it and just enjoyed seeing my foot all shiny, satiny, ballet pink… I didn’t get them. I’d like to say that it was because they would’ve been a source of temptation to actually use the (beautifully shiny, satiny) things – and they would’ve been – but the main reason was because the fit was tight. I didn’t attempt to put weight on them, or stand in them or anything, but after just sliding my foot inside the shoe it felt tight. Not that I even know how ponte shoes are supposed to feel or anything. But yeah, i didn’t bother looking for some that would fit because I started to feel a little awkward over being an adult who’s not en pointe nor shopping for a child who’s en pointe body looking through pointe shoes. And, you know, the whole temptation thing. I got to be responsible…

Anyway, I went off to try on some soft ballet slippers. I initially had my eyes on this shoe that instead of a drawstring had elastic all the way around, as well as the two across. This girl in my summer session had those, and she’d said they were very comfortable. Besides, I’m always fussing with my drawstring ends, so I thought it’d be a good option for me.  They were by Bloch, split sole.  I’m a little apprehensive about split-soled shoes, as the last split-soled slippers I’d bought did not really work out for me, but I was willing to give it a try. Unfortunately, the elastics on the top were too snug, and I could really see that becoming a problem.  It sucked, I really liked how they looked on my foot.

New shoes in the bag

New shoes in the bag

So then the salesguy brough me over a pair of basic leather, full sole slippers, also by Bloch.  I tried them out and the felt more comfortable than the last pair, but huge.  I asked for one half size smaller and they were pefect. They still have a drawstring, but I guess I’ll have to continue dealing with it. I needed to get a new pair of back up shoes though. In my favorite pair of shoes I’ve noticed recently that the sole wants to come off  la ittle in a spot in the front where the thread has worn through. Also, the inner sole has also started to come loose. While I still want to continue using those shoes, I didn’t want to find myself without a pair of back up shoes that are molded to my feet and feel natural in case I need to switch to them. So I’m going to alternate between pairs of shoes for now. They’re both full sole leather shoes anyway, though the new ones feel so comfortable. The leather is so soft, too.

and on my foot

and on my foot

Anyway, it was a great long weekend! (Except for the ouch-y part, but maybe I’m repressing the memory!)

Note To Self…

… Don’t go out partying the night before ballet class! Last night we went dancing, and this morning I was just so tired and sore, specially my  legs and feet (despite having worn low, relatively comfortable shoes shoes.) Not painful though, just sore and overall feeling lazy. Really didn’t want to get up, even snoozed my alarm. But I had planned on going to class, and I did want to go to class (just didn’t want to get up, lol), so I hurried last minute to get myself together. I’m so glad I did, because it turned out to be an extremely fun class!

We had a different teacher at Adults Only studio, so it was a little different from last week’s class. Most of barre was facing the barre, but that didn’t mean there wasn’t plenty to think about. We did super slow foot articulation tendus and regular tendus, degages en croix, and super slow and regular speed rond de jambes (during which I was focusing on making them smooth and fluid, not pausing when getting to the front, side, or back). Still, a lot of thinking involved! Specially during frappes, which went something like frappe devant slow x2, 2 fast frappes and 2 piques, repeat to side and back and then petite battements. Once I got the hang of it it was fine, but I did screw up a little on the first side. It was just an unfamiliar pattern. I will say though, that it was nice doing frappes without worrying about beated frappes!

We started out center with a tendu combination: tendu devant x2, chasse devant, tendu a la seconde x2, chasse a la seconde, tendu derrierre x2, chasse derriere,  ronde de jambe en dehors, passe balance, then other side, then reversing. So start with tendu derriere x2, chasse derriere, etc. and the ronde de jambe was en dedans. I loved this combination! First off, it wasn’t at a tempo that I had to scramble to keep up with. Secondly ( a la seconde-ly?), I dodn’t have much experience with chasses to the back and I did it much better than expected. I learned how to do chasses (without losing my balance completely) less than a year ago (I remember writing about it on here!), and even then it was just to the front, so I’m really happy with the progress there. I did get a correction from Different Teacher to not lift up my heel during the chasses, so then I worked on that.

We then saute-ed, and the tempo was slow enough for me to at least have time to think about pointing those feet! But I was off on the tempo…

We went across the floor with 4 balancés, the four waltz steps, repeat if there is room. The first time across we did the waltz steps without turning, the second time with turns.  I loved this combination as well, though I do tend to take too long on my balances, which makes me a little behind on the tempo. But I did have a lot of fun. It was also so lovely to watch my classmates! As a whole they just moved so gracefully across the floor. Though it was basic beginner class, this week there were some students there than definitely have some ballet experience. I certainly wouldn’t mind taking class with this group of people again.

Next was jumps across the floor. It was step forward and saute while kicking up our left leg forward, take three little steps and saute on the left leg while kicking up the right leg, then half turn and saute arabesque with the right leg up, and three little steps (backwards!), and saute arabesque on the other leg. Confusing, right? But also so fun! What helped me to not be completely lost – and at first I was, specially how the working leg switches when we go backwards – was what F Teacher had told us repeatedly during our summer session: the downstage leg (toward our audience/mirror) goes first! So that helped me kick up the right leg in the right order – even when we went to the left. While I love doing saute arabesque, it is a bit harder doing them when you’re walking backwards. I don’t think this day’s class level was that “basic” of a beginner level, but it was just awesome!

We finished up with a quick reverance. I was so hyper and excited after this class that I was getting on Boyfriend’s nerves, just kind of excitedly buzzing around like a little kid. Oh, and I have some more exciting sort-of-ballet-related news and happenings from this weekend, but I’ll save that for it’s own post. Coming up!

🙂

Wednesday Class: Fun, Fun, Fun!

As I’m still on Spring break and there’s no class schedule conflicts, I was able to take Wednesday evening class at Adults-Only Studio.  I realized how much I miss going to this place. It was so much fun, and the difficulty seemed a little higher than the last few times I’d been there (which is a good thing), but to be fair it’s been a couple months.

At first I did feel pretty anxious, as there was a bunch of brand new people – and by “a bunch” I mean it was a full class, about a dozen people.  I was the only one in a leotard and tights. While I feel the most comfortable taking class in a leotard and tights – and the one time I tried taking class without my “uniform” I felt so unballet-ish – I also feel awkward being the only one wearing them.  Like I take myself too seriously or something… like a “hey, this is basic-beginner ballet class – what, you think you’re auditioning for an intensive/performance or something?” kind of feeling. I really don’t like that feeling… (and I’m still learning trying to learn the concept of “don’t notice anyone else, and just do you”. It’s hard, I tell you!  Damn this anxiety! (Seriously, if someone gives me (what I perceive to be) a mean look I can feel myself shrinking back into myself – which is really counter-productive if you’re trying to do ballet and appear “taller” and specially “confident”, LOL))

Anyway (enough about my personal problems).

We did plies with one arm at the barre, full port de bras including cambres.  I love how it was in this class ( a few months ago) that I learned than when you cambre away from the barre in second your arms go through middle fifth on the way back.  When I took IC I’d seen that that was, in fact, how the more advanced students do it, and I was pleased that I had known that. I’d forgotten about the super long balances (and I mean long it feels like half a minute!) we do in releve at the end of the barre combinations in this class.  Thanks to my back/core, I was staying fairly steady, even when not warmed up yet.

After the super slow tendus facing barre we did tendus en croix with full port de bras. This was nice – the times before that I’d come to Evening Class (EC?) we’d only kept the arms in second so it was nice to get to use them.  This was actually more advanced than what we’ve been doing so far in BC (where we’re still not using the arms with our tendus at barre), and so fun.  I’d forgotten though that E Teacher’s combinations often include 4 tendus (or degages, or battements) instead of 3, so I was getting a little confused when going a la seconde. I mean, I know that when it’s an even number you don’t switch on the first one and when it’s an odd number you do, but I guess I’d gotten used to operating purely on muscle memory.  By the time we turned around to do our other side I had gotten the hang of it, sort of.  For sure by the time we did degages en croix with arms. We balanced both in passe flat and passe releve.  I’m still not up to putting my arms in middle (or high) fifth for the passe releve balance, but I’m easing into it by having a super light touch on the barre.

For our rond de jambes combination, we did 2 slow rond de jambes and then 3 quicker (en dehors), 2 slow and 3 quicker (en dedans), then cambre forward and back, then  angle towards the barre, tendu back leg (the one that had been the inside leg) and fondue front leg into to a lunge position, then cambre forward and bring both arms up in high fifth and cambre back, recover and balance in 2nd arabesque.  This combination was so fun! Loved it! Wish we would do more stuff like that in BC…

Then it was time to stretch, which is not really lead, we just kind of do our own thing. I always take the opportunity to do my pretty leg-up-on-the-barre-and-cambre-towards-and-away stretches from BC, plus some en ballancoire leg swings to loosen up the hips.

We then did this combination that was kind of a fondue developpe (as in, we developped, but starting from a bent supporting leg) en croix with arms. We didn’t stop after the first side, but closed to fifth, did releve sous-sus, soutenu, and other side (see, it’s that higher difficulty stuff I was talking about). Then we did frappes facing the barre, just a la seconde.

For our grand battements en croix w arms we also did a soutenu and other side without stopping. At least by this point I was remembering that we were doing 4 to each side, and to close back in front after my first one a la seconde. I was also remembering to keep my back/core engaged to not let my upper body slump forward when battement-ing to the front.

In center we did the tendu a la seconde, close and plie,  passe releve balance, other side, then repeat with pirouette (from fifth en dehors) instead of the balance. My pirouettes sucked – what else is new? – but I was able to recover from the failed pirouettes in time to do the other side without messing up the timing too much.

Then we did a really fun combination: glissade 3x (towards the right, right foot stays in back), pas de bourre, other side (now left foot stays in back). I think I really enjoy doing glissades – well, at this speed, not like that crazy glissade-assemble combination we were doing (more like I was attempting to do) in IC.  When I first started ballet, and for the first year or so, I couldn’t do glissades at all ( a combination of not being able to balance and my legs being too weak to push off with just one leg) so I do feel a bit accomplished doing them. Pointy, pointy feet!

And for across the floor we did  step and  jete.  It was much easier with the right leg in front, but fun either way. Then we did reverance, which I was sort of able to mimic correctly what E Teacher was doing.

So yeah, I had a super fun Wednesday evening! 🙂

Wednesday Class; Some Exciting News!

A few weeks ago Teacher had announced that she will be teaching both beginning and intermediate level ballet next semester, back to back. So today, as I lingered after class to purchase a new theraband – away from other classmates prying ears (LOL) – I casually asked her if I could take both. And she said yes!

I was beside myself with excitement, but I kept my exterior cool demeanor – yay, introverts and our “powers” of Keeping Calm on the outside!  But I seriously wanted to do a little happy dance or something.  She said I need another semester before doing only intermediate, but that’s more than ok with me.  It’ll be two hour and a half classes in a row with a 10 minute snack break in between – 3 hours of ballet!  The best part is that it’s not on the days of my wednesday class (or else there’d be a time conflict), so I can continue going there too.

Up until the part when she said yes I had been worried she was going to laugh and say “You’ve got to be kidding!” or something along those lines…I had actually been putting off asking for that reason for a while now…

morning class

It was slightly less cold today, so my joints were not revolting as much as they have been the last couple weeks.

With the exception of our first combination (plies) we did both sides without stopping, by switching with soutenus.  Teacher also had us balance in first position releve, let go of the barre, cross over to sous-sus and then soutenu several times without holding the barre.

A new combination for tendues that involved 2 regular tendues then tendu to plie in 4th when going front and back, and in second when tenduing a la seconde with a brand new port de bra that involved the arm up in high fifth when returning back from the plie was challenging the first time through, fun tehe second.

We did 8-8-4-4-2-2-1-1-1-1 degages without the barre only today – no “practice” run through holding the barre – and afterward (also barre-less) 8 echappe releves, with a balance in the final echappe releve. My balance was actually pretty good today, way less shaky.

During our really fast tendus with piques (4 quick tendus, 8 piques) en croix, Teacher said “Good timing!”. Yay! Unfortunately, even though last semester Strict Teacher was really on us for our posture, this semester I keep finding myself sway-backing and get reminded/corrected on this often. I really need to stop standing in a “stick out your butt” kind of way at all times, not just ballet class, to get rid of this habit…

My fondues into releve were much better today. Still can’t balance on releve with no hands on the barre when my leg is outstretched in front or behind me, but today I was able to raise up much easier than on monday.  I made sure to squeeze my core so I wouldn’t tilt towards the barre when my leg was in front or away from the barre when my leg was in arabesque.

For center, we used a nice slow waltz for our 4 balancé, step into arabesque, pas de bourree, passe releve balance (optional pirouette), other side combination.  The slower tempo made it much more possible to stay on timing and it was so fun.  I’m still just working on the passe releve balance for now, since my pirouette still only goes around about halfway (see, why I was worried Teacher would laugh at the idea of me in intermediate; an “intermediate” student who can’t pirouette and still (occasionally) falls out of (two-legged) balances, not to mention my unpointed changements and soubresouts).

The echappe, echappe, saut de chat, soubresout, saut de chat, changement, other side, combination was faster today, and pretty much the whole class was lost the first time through. The second time through was much better, though.

Pique turns to the right are coming along, and I’m starting to get comfortable with spotting and doing them one right after another. To the left they are slower and I still pause in between each one.  My passe/retire position with my left leg up is not as open as with my right leg up – for whatever reason my left hip is tighter and won’t open as much – so my pique turns to the left don’t look as nice as the ones to the right. I’m hoping the theraband turnout exercises will eventually even out my leg turnout discrepancy.

evening class

Looks like tonight I didn’t make it in to evening class. Several out-ot-town friends were in town and I ended up helping them make – and eat – delicious foods and drinking hard cider.  And I wasn’t even sure if we were having class tonight for sure anyway…

World Ballet Day Wednesday

First of all, happy World Ballet Day and happy October!

Morning class

Rather than have class we watched streaming footage from World Ballet Day.  I’m primarily a youtube ballet watcher – I haven’t actually been to a professional ballet performance in real life before, yet – and I enjoy watching company class videos as much as full scale performances, so I was having a grand old time.

It was awesome watching ballet with other people who also like ballet! In a way, it’s like now I know why people who are into sports look all disappointed if they ask me if I’m into it and I say “Well, I’ll watch it if it’s on, but I won’t seek it out, and I could care less who wins or loses.” It’s just more fun when the other people watching it with you are as into it as you are! Now I know…

We were all specially into the part when the company men were doing their jumps and turns.  I love how the men in ballet are able to jump so unbeliebably high.  It was also nice watching ballet with someone knowledgeble about it (Teacher), so we could ask random questions about the pros.

I know it wasn’t like a regular ballet class, but it was still a great way to spend a morning.

Evening class

Evening class went well. Our regular teacher was back (yay!)

Actually, I’m getting ahead of myself. The good news is that I remembered my wallet so I was able to attend class. The bad news is that I forgot my ballet shoes at home.  Why does it seem like I always forget something?

I have this checklist on (one of – those things aren’t big enough for all those veggies) our refrigerator(s) that reminds me what to pack for lunch for school, so my absentminded self won’t leave an item behind.  Before I had that list I seriously used to pace around the kitchen, wasting like 20 minutes, trying to remember what to pack (and often I would forget something anyway. Which is not good since I only eat food I bring from home, for budget and/or health reasons.)  Anyway, I think I need to make a ballet class checklist also.

So I did class in my socks today.  As I’ve previously mentioned (I think…) balancing is easier for me while wearing socks or barefoot than while wearing my slippers, so I got to take advantage of that.  Nice long balances today, even while moving the arms. It is also so much easier to point my feet without my shoes since I wear full sole slippers.

In class I didn’t really make too many mistakes, or maybe it was just that I didn’t get many corrections.  When balancing in releve sous sus with my arms in high fifth I had my shoulders high, so I got corrected on that.  But mostly the teacher focused on correcting the newer students that were not keeping their legs straight while tonduing or sticking their butts out while plieing.  I always do that thing of whenever a correction is given to anyone I check to see if it applies to me, so I still feel like I’m learning either way.

In between classes I did do a home practice session since I am getting used to my double dose of ballet wednesday.  Let’s see, what can I report? My degage and piques without holding on are getting more stable every day, and I’ve discovered that I love doing balances (balan-says, not balancing) to the Sleeping Beauty waltz. The timing just seems to fit perfectly. I’ve also been practicing “finishing” after my chaines. Teacher said she wants us to chasse and then 1st arabesque arms, but so far the best I got is to tendu one of my feet – for some reason usually the left leg regardless of which direction I was chaines-ing – back while doing the arabesque arms.  But I’ll get there!