Tag Archives: helpful pirouette advice

New Class, Soreness, And More Crappy Pirouettes

Another busy week with plenty of dancing, after last week’s almost-break. Predictably, I’m very sore – ha. I’ve been rolling out my roller and tennis balls like crazy. Some of it just needs time to rest though, like my bottom. This week, in Modern M Teacher had us doing much more floorwork, and my behind is especially sore from rocking back and forth on it as we rolled from one side to the next. The thing we did was like a spinning in a circle, but on the floor (from the middle laying down to each side coming to seated, then using our arms to rotate. I can’t come up with a better way to describe it) and it made me so dizzy. I guess there’s no such thing as spotting your turns when you’re on the floor! I was dizzy enough that I was grateful I was already on the floor, actually.

This week I took a ballet class, Beginner, with a somewhat new to me teacher I’ve mentioned before, G Teacher. He seemed to recognize me/remember me since the last time, so that was kind of nice. It was a good challenge and change of pace to take an unfamiliar barre, because with my other teachers, even if they change it up slightly from class to class, I still somewhat recognize their “patterns”. G Teacher’s barre is just so different to the other classes I’ve been taking, and I’ll make sure to ask what style of ballet it is next time I make it in to that class (which I don’t know when it’ll be exactly, since the time is quite inconvenient for me).

At barre, the grand battement combination included that swivel leg thing where you grand battement a la second, then bend the leg and turn in and bring it across the body and then back out, you know, that thing. The newer beginners looked mystified, even after it was demonstrated a couple of times. I don’t blame them – the first time I saw that in person it was like ‘what is that?!’ It’s one of those things that gets more fun with familiarity, and feels so good (I especially like doing it after a grand battement on releve). There was also a rond de jambe conbination that had the ronde de jambes with fondu and port de bras, like the ones we do in Intermediate.

In center, we did lots of glissades (just one after another all the way across the floor), and then tombe, pas de bourre, glissade, grand jete over and over. This is a Beginner class, and we usually only do that in Intermediate, so it does seem that G Teacher’s beginner class is more advanced than F Teacher’s or Teacher’s. Either way, I really like – and find very helpful – the amount of repetition in center. By the end of class I was feeling pretty confident about all the steps we’d done. During the glissades, G Teacher told me “Good!” (and for once, I didn’t start messing up immediately afterward), and I do feel proud of how far I’ve come in glissades.Back when I first started ballet I couldn’t glissade at all because I was too weak and my balance was terrible. I wasn’t able to land glissades without losing my balance and tipping over. Then, once I was able to land, I was able to start working on pointing my feet and all that. And now, my glissades, at least a la seconde, are not bad if I do say so myself…

In Intermediate class we did  4 balancés, pique arabesque, plie down, pas de bourre, pirouette en dehors, soutenu, hold sous-sus balance, other side. Focusing on the good things:I can hold the balance after the sous-sus well, also the plie down from the pique arabesque. Bad things: I’m a little hesitant about my pique arabesque, and the pirouettes to the right are more often than not terrible. That said, I actually landed a pirouette en dehors from fifth to the right (basically, my hardest pirouette), which was nice. To my better turning side (left), I’ve actually felt a little off lately, weird.

We also had a tendu combination that I can’t remember, but it was different from the tendu combinations we’ve been doing. It included a pirouette en dedans, among other things.

This week, across the floor we did saute arabesque, saute coupe, saute arabesque, faille, pas de chat x2 instead of the usual combination. Teacher had us focus on making sure our working leg’s foot was super pointed when we jumped off it for our sautes (technically, temps leves,  I guess). The ones in arabesque are much easier for me to point my feet during, but the ones in coupe not so much – Wonder why? It was the same way to both sides, so it wasn’t a right-left side imbalance.

At home, I had Boyfriend film me going over the choroegraphy as full out as I could in our kitchen to see what specifics I need to work on. Well, specifically I need to work on my attitude devant (higher, more turned out, just cleaner. Actually, this week both Teacher and NS Teacher pulled my leg higher during my attitude balances, so maybe it’s a hint), my bourres (smaller, tighter, and quicker steps), and, of course, that piroeutte en dehors that I’ve mentioned before. Ugh, I’m pretty discouraged about that part right now honestly. Advice, both requested and unrequested, had not been helping me. And yes, I can intellectually undetstand the concept of ‘I’m overthinking it and trying too hard’, but that’s not helping me to put in action ‘under thinking and not trying hard enough’ or whatever would be the opposite. Or maybe I’m just supposed to go for a happy medium, something like thinking and trying just the right amount? But seriously, so frustrated!

But – there’s the bright side –  in addition to practicing my pirouettes, I’ve also been working on my placement and balance, just trying to make sure I have a solid muscle memory platform to build on (and my balances in center on releve retire have improved so much, as a nice bonus).  Since I’ve gotten told by teachers to use a smaller fourth position, I’ve been working on that. I have disproportionately long legs, so it feels really strange, and not too far from a really bad fifth. However, it does seem to keep my alignment in place, so I’ll trust that my teachers know what they’re talking about. I also practiced rising up to passe releve, balancing, and closing in front in fifth, then I did it with closing back into fourth, before trying my pirouettes again. One thing I noticed is that I come off my highest releve some time during the turn, and that’s what may be causing me to fall out of it. So, just to rule out that it’s not lack of strength that is the issue, I made myself do something like 24 single leg releves and eleves (no, not all at once on one leg – I’m not going to lie and pretend I’m at that level of strength – though that is a goal I’m working towards. I did three sets of eight, alternating legs with a pas de bourre). I think I’ll be doing this often, as well as my rotator muscle exercises. I should do the feet theraband exercies (flex and point with articulation) as well, but when I do them it almost feels like they’re not doing anything. Maybe I need to switch to the heavier resistance band, or just do more of them.

Even if it doesn’t improve my pirouettes, I’ll have freakishly strong and powerful feet. Which is kind of cool.

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.



The mirror and barre



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



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

A Somewhat Encouraging Week

This past week was encouraging as far as ballet went. I’m enjoying it, especially because I’ll be losing a few classes next week, so I worry when we return the week after some of my progress will have slipped away.

Barre was complicated in Intermediate class, mostly the alternating legs confusion. Some days are better than others, and I just continue to go over it slowly at the home barre when I get time. We did this nice barre stretch involving having our leg up at the barre while facing it and then reaching our other arm out behind us to grab the barre. Wasn’t really a leg stretch, but more for the torso, but it felt good.

This week we worked plenty on jumps, especially sissones. I found out there are two kinds – those that finish in an open position and those that finish closed. Before I had only known about the closed ones, and I find those much easier (though my reflection of me doing them mid air reminds me of a starfish, and I don’t know if that’s the aesthetic we’re going for…) . The open ones appear to finish on one leg, and we had the othe leg behind in attitude. What was really getting me was that the leg that was behing was the one that we ended up being on, even though we were traveling forward. The first day we worked on that it was making no sense to me, but by the second time I took Intermediate class I was able to do it. Not up to tempo during the combination, of course, but at all. That’s good enough for me for now  – I never would have believed that I could land 1-legged jumps and hold a balance.

At New Studio, we worked on sissones that traveled forward and back. The one traveling back was scary, but I’m proud that I at least tried it, not just tried to get away with marking it. Once done, it turned out to be way less scary than I had thought, and the second time across the floor I thinkI actually travelled a decent amount.

Something I like about New Studio is that the mirrors run lenghtwise instead of across the front, so although it kind of sucks for barre (I like a front view, though I understand that sometimes a side view is helpful as well – good to check if that pelvis is tilted forward), it’s awesome for going across the floor. We did a (saute arabesque, saute passe) x4, tombe pas de bourre, pirouette en dehors combination, and I actually thought my jumps looked halfway decent. It felt good, at least up to the pirouette part…

Along with the sissoes, we’ve been working on echappes to fouth, and assembles that travel forward. I find the assembles that travel forward (en avant, if I remember correctly) much easier than a la seconde. It’s much less scary, and I definitely feel like my feet “assemble” in mid air, while in the other ones I just feel clumsy and like I’m kicking my legs around.

My pirouettes were hit or miss this week (again). One day, though, my pirouettes were unexpectedly good. Like, I wasn’t really trying, and just went for a pirouette and got around all the way, finished with the correct foot in front, all of that. I think this would comfirm that I’m usually making the mistake of using too much force, because this time I was hardly giving any compared to how I’m used to doing it. I guess there’s nothing to do about it but continue practicing, and not be too impatient. I’ve been praciicing them at home, kind of going about it a different way. Usually, I make sure to try to have a good retire position, and my foot is pointed and it’s in front (not behind, where it feels much easier to me) of my knee, and then where I mess up is that I don’t get around. So I’ve been practicing just going up into a pirouette and working on spotting and getting around, just so I can get used to it.

This week there were some new students at New Studio, and I was in the position of having someone follow me, both at barre (both sides) and across the floor. I have to admit that I like it, especially for barre – knowing that someone is watching, possibly closely, makes me pull up just a little better. If the across the floor combination is something I can somewhat do, it also helps me to try harder to make it pretty. If it’s a difficult combination though, and the other person is newer and there’s no one else for them to follow, that kind of sucks. And it definitely happens – sometimes I’m intimidated by the more advanced students, so I group up with other beginner-ish students like me. Then the strongest dancer of the group gets followed. I remember one time a teacher yelled at us for doing this. I should be really thankful that Teacher is so nice that she never shouts at us, just suggests ‘maybe so-and-so should go with so-and-so’ and stuff like that.

But the biggest surprise was in Modern class, when these girls said ‘I want to go behind her so I can follow her’ – about me! In that class I actually feel confident enough to go in the front group (and I’d discovered weeks ago that it was the best way of avoiding being seeing bouncing by the other dancers as they’re always behind you and there’s no mirror there), and it’s a nice change of pace.  We’ve been doing a lot of across the floor stuff in which my ballet training has come in handy, like chasses, leaps like grand jetes, and these little prancy kicks that are sort of like emboites. Since M Teacher doesn’t specify, sometimes I do them in turnout to practice. My across the floor jumping and leaping have improved so much ever since I started Modern, and I’m more familiar with traveling more distance in my dancing. I could really like Modern, but if only there wasn’t painful floor work! Sometimes I think I’m too old for that…

I’m not going to say I wish I’d discovered dancing 8-10 years earlier than when I did. I don’t like to torture myself like that. Besides, this girl I know from school told me she wears knee pads to Modern class so she doesn’t have to fear getting on the floor. So there’s options. And I can’t decide if that’s humor or if I’m serious…

11/22: Editted for typos. I wrote this while half asleep and I think a bunch of them escaped me the first time.

Whoa There, Dude – Hope You Don’t Drive The Way You Dance!

There was this guy at one of my classes this week, and he was all over the place. He insisted on traveling twice as fast – or faster — than everyone else when we went across the floor. It was really scary, especially when we were doing turns across the floor. One of the times I wasn’t anywhere close to finishing up my turns when he comes out, doing the other side, and almost crashes into me. He would’ve, if I hadn’t stopped my attempts at turns and just ran out of the way (very un-balletically, by the way).  At this point I was getting beyond irritated. Like, what was his problem?! Obviously he can see that whoever is already going across the floor is not up at his level and won’t be able to turn as quick or travel across the floor as quick. I know it’s the person in front’s responsibility to not stop and to keep moving (and I did keep moving, though not as quick as him), but is there some kind of responsibility to move faster than my ability permits as well? I could’ve sworn that the ettiquette was that the person who’s following is supposed to not run over the person who went before them? Or was I in the wrong? Either way, I was getting upset and feeling like I was being cheated out of my class time, not being able to complete my turns and stuff. This is the regular class that I signed up for the whole term, and he’s just an occasional guest, so it’s not an everyday problem. But how obnoxious! And unsafe – what if I hadn’t just abandoned the turns and ran off? He would’ve tackled me or something!

That class was definitely the low point of the ballet week, The presence of professionals had Teacher adjust the class level harder, even barre.  I was messing up on everything! The center combinations were really long (so long that I can’t remember how they went), and petite allegro was much too quick. Something I remember we worked on was balancés en tournant, which is a balancé while turning. Never done those before, so it felt super awkward to my body. We did ballote again, and that felt even weirder. Defiitely need to youtube both of those…

The glissades forward (as in right before a grand jete) are still not making much sense to me. I’m just working  on how a glissade forward should even feel for now, and doing it as part of a series of connected movement is not working for me yet. Luckily, we worked on glissades en croix in Basic Beginner class, so I got in some extra practice on those.

This week my pirouettes weren’t as horrible as they were last week, so that was good.  At New Studio we worked on both types of pirouettes en dehors from fourth – the kind with both legs in plie and the working leg in front, and the back leg in a lunge and working leg in back. The ones with the leg in the back feel easier for me, and I was happy to be somewhat getting around. NS Teacher was emphasizing the “passe” part of the pirouette – she said since “passe” means to pass, make sure the leg passes though and makes it to the back during the pirouette (when starting with that leg in front). After she said this, I was making sure to get the leg to the back after the retire position, and I think my pirouettes got a little stronger.

NS Teacher mentioned again that I’ve improved, which is always good to hear. I hope she really does mean recently and not since the first time she met me (I took class with her about 6 months before I started going to the studio where she teaches). Well, either way it’s something, I guess, and she also did invite another girl and I to take a different class offered at the studio (a higher level class, and not just adults, so I probably won’t).  I have been improving (and not just by my initial ultra low standards), but the things that feel completely foreign to me, like ballotes or beated jumps, make me feel completely out of my element. Then I’m able to do something somewhat cool, like begin a center combination with a developpe on releve and it’s like, wow, I never thought I’d be able to do stuff like that. Those moments are so encouraging!

At Intermediate Class we’ve been doing things to work on challenging our muscle memory. Changing up the arms when we do our grand battements (like arabesque arms for grand battements devant, or high fifth for grand battements derriere), or balancing up in releve while keeping the arms relaxed. This is so much harder than it sounds for me! However, every time we do it it’s a little bit easier.

A Rough Week In Ballet-land

So, this past week has been one of the hardest weeks I’ve had in a while, as far as dancing goes. At times – many times – I’ve been feeling like I can’t do anything right at all.  Then I get so frustrated at myself, because even though there’s no rushing it when it comes to learning technique – it needs time, repetition, PRACTICE – why can’t I at least not screw up at remembering combinations? I feel so unfocused when this happens.  I mean, during the combinations my mind is definitely focused on doing the steps, but before the part when we do the combination, I’ve caught myself getting distracted. Whether it be by a classmate’s ridiculously high extensions, the kind of flexibility I’ll never have no matter how much I stretch, so why bother (I realize this is sounding really negative – I apologize), or just by random intrusive thoughts. It’s driving me nuts, but I’m hoping desperately that it’s just a passing phase.

There’s been some memorable class moments though, as well as some things that have been of great help.  At New Studio, we had a sub for one of my classes this week, and some of the things she had us do were pretty helpful.  During tendus, she would have us close to first, and then squeeeeeze our thighs together into fifth. At first it was weird getting used to it, but afterwards my balances on releve seemed much more stable, and my sous-sus much tighter.

We also did rond de jambes with a new-to-me different port de bras.  It was challenging to do, but I liked it. It went something like when the foot comes up to the front the arm goes to low fifth, when the leg goes a la seconde the arm goes to middle fifth (first), when the foot goes back arm goes to high fifth, and when the foot closes the arm goes a la seconde. Reversing it was the exact opposite, when foot goes back arm foes a la seconde, foot goes side arm goes to high fifth, foot goes forward arm goes to middle, foot closes and arm comes down. Well, those were the slow rond de jambes. The quick ones had a slightly faster port de bras – it took two rond de jambes for the arm to make the same port de bras as the slow ones. Like I said, it was confusing but fun.

Across the floor we did these super slow chaines, with our arms up on our shoulders. The tempo was really, excruciatingly slow, just a half turn at a time, staying up on releve. The teacher told us to keep our ankles touching the whole time.  This was one of the hardest things I’ve done recently (I wanted to say “done ever”, but honestly, during my first year of ballet everything was the hardest thing ever). My calves were so sore! Then after we’d gone across the floor twice in both directions we did regular speed chaines, which my legs were too tired to cooperate during.  If I’m having a bad chaines day by this point I know it’s not a good ballet day…

Then we did pirouettes. First 1/4 pirouettes, then 1/2, then full, en dehors from fifth (which are my least favorite – and hardest to do – pirouettes).  As usual, the 1/4 and 1/2 ones went fine, the full ones sucked. And here’s when I heard some new pirouetting advice, which I’ll now share, I guess: the teacher told us that if we feel like we’re not going to make it around, rather than just flop down to the floor, stay in sous-sus so that our muscles are working anyway.  Once I started doing this my turns felt smoother. I guess I realized that I was just kind of letting go, giving up halfway through the turns when I felt my balance starting to go.  For the rest of that class I felt much more confident about my turns, though that didn’t do me any good in Intermediate Class the rest of the week…

At that class we also did a petite allegro that was fun, though a bit on the fast side. It was petite jete, temps leve x2, echappe releves (no idea how many, becuase it was about 3 times faster than I’m comfortable doing), 2 passe releves on opposite legs, 2 changements,  entrechat (yeah, wasn’t happening), pickup pas de bourree. I think our pickup pas de bourres were pretty bad because then the teacher had us practice those over and over. Then we went to the barre to work on entrechats, where I manage to kick myself.  I’m definitely not good at beated jumps, at least for now.

Intermediate class this week was tough.  Our barre combinations have been getting increasingly complex, and with my full dance schedule I haven’t been making enough time at home to slowly go over the combinations. One day I had time, but I was so sore from the two preceeding days of classes that I just lounged about at home on the couch. So that didn’t really count as free time…

We did a lot of switching our working leg between the outside leg and the inside leg (like 3 tendus devant with outside leg, 1 derrier with inside, 3 a la seconde with outside leg and 1 devant with inside leg, etc), and instead of going en croix we would do a totally different thing after derriere, like a pas de cheval, or a passe balance. Oh, and all this was with port de bras, of course, and Teacher wanted us to use epaulment as well. I try, but at some point there’s only so much I can do, you know? Lately Teacher has been correcting me on my fifth position, saying that I need to cross it even more, more!, even though my far-from-perfect turnout makes it look less nice, my feet farther away.  So yeah, during barre I’ve been feeling flustered.

We did 8-8-4-4-2-2-1-1-1-1 away from the barre and with port de bras. We also did 8 degages a la seconde with no barre and with a slow port de bras that took the whole 8 counts to do, and battement cloche for 8 counts.  I have to keep reminding myself that even being able to do stuff like this with no barre without falling over is signs of progress, though as barre progressed the combinations get harder and harder to do. During rond de jambes there was this bending of the upper body going with the port de bras that felt like I was doing it totally wrong (and there was no clear view of the mirror from where I was).  As I focus more on that I start losing my turnout.  I really like rond de jambes, so I’m especially displeased if I’m messing them up. Still, I struggle to keep up…

But then, we did frappes on releve.  It was horrible – horrible, I tell you! It was 3 devant, hold, flex, and point; 3 a la seconde, hold, flex, and point; 3 derriere, hold, flex and point; then doubles en croix, reverse the whole thing – all on releve! Focusing on not losing my balance with all the fast motions, there’s not enough brain power to devote to actually doing a nice frappe with a pointed foot and to the correct place. So hard! On the second leg (my right foot, my weaker foot), I actually fell off releve during the reversing – there was only so much the barre death grip could do. This was definitely not one of my finer ballet moments…

Center started with an adagio, which I kept forgetting the order of steps the first day we did it, but my memory was much better the second day. It was 2 steps ballet walk with port de bras, pique sous-sus. 2 balances, soutenu, chasse into arabesque, promenade, developpe devant then a la seconde, chasse, pirouette en dehors from fourth, tendu, pirouette into a temps lie, repeat other side. As I got better at remembering what step came next I got better at doing it, but it was still a pretty challenging combination.

Across the floor turns was 3 pique turns, soutenu, chasse, chaines, all of this happening in the space of 8 counts. It’s hard enough to do this at a slower speed, but that fast it was so messy. I started not getting all the way around during my pique turns while trying to do them faster, which gave me a crooked trajectory across the floor. The hardest part is that after the last chaines we are supposed to go back into doing pique turns.

Petite allegro was also much too quick and involved the dreaded beated jumps. Unlike what F Teacher had said (and how I had started to teach myself) Teacher said that a royalle opens up before it beats and changes. This is considerably harder thanjust doing a soubresaut and closing in back. So I guess I can’t do a entrechat or a royalle then. The combination was changement, changement, echappe, close, 2 pas de chat and pas de bourre, royalle, other side.

Across the floor jumps was a little better, perhaps because I do enoy this part of class more than petite allegro. It was saute arabesque, saute coupe, saute arabesque, saute coupe, tombe, pas de bourre, glissade, pas de chat. While actually doing the jumps was a little bit easier this week(instead of stumbling around and randomly putting legs in different places after the first 4 jumps), my timing was off. After that we did it again (yes, the whole class had to do it again because I was off) and as long as I go in the back and see the others doing it I have a better chance of staying on timing. Once again, ballet is so hard!

Also, Teacher said she will push me because she knows I can do it. She belives in me more than I believe in myself, it appears. She said I’ve already improved so much (and I totally have, at least from those early days of not even being able to plie on flat without losing my balance) and to not get discouraged. It’s not hard to get discouraged when there’s extremely good dancers there though.  Sometimes I feel that no matter what I’ll always be a beginner level dancer, due to the fact that I didn’t grow up dancing. I mean, I can do a lot of steps, and back when I first started I would have loved to be able to do this much (and I still do), but when there’s a step I don’t know yet I tend to mess up horribly. This lack of natural grace combined with being a slow learner really gets me down.

To end on a good note, I noticed during my last class of the week that my balancing in second position and fourth position releve have been really improving. And I managed to get the second arm in high fifth during a balance at the barre in passe releve, instead of my usual quick tests of letting go before I quickly put my hand back down. I’ve been working on my turnout in second(mostly in the form of standing in a wide second while making sure to turn out from the hips, so that my knees are also facing the sides not just my toes) randomly at home.  When I take Modern class I also feel like I have a big ballet advantage over people that are also taking the class for the first time.  We do plies, tendus and releves, and I continue to forget to not do ballet arms. Since we don’t use a barre at all I do think that it will help me for center in ballet class. We’re also going across the floor, doing something that looks like chasses, then shifting out weight to only the front leg, or turning.  I’m still having fun with it, but I don’t know yet if I’ll be wanting to continue the way I did with ballet once the semester’s over.

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!