Despite coming down with a monster of a cold over the weekend (which practically had me bed-ridden for a day) that I’m still fighting off, I managed to make i through Tuesday’s class without too much trouble – or coughing or sniffling. And it was a pretty awesome class, if I do say so myself…
Before our plies we did this exercise facing the barre that we would do in IC: slow tendu (from first), close in plie, slow tendu, flex, point. I think this was so we could work on our foot articulation especially. After than we did our plies with full port de bras and cambre front and back, and circular cambre after going through plies in all feet positions.
For the first time in the semester we did our tendus on croix from fifth with arms! It was pretty cool, though the newer students were a bit confused about the arms. After going through the tendus en croix twice, we balanced in releve sous-sus, my favorite – and most stable – releve balance. During the combination Teacher came around and said “I want to see you working in fifth, not third. I think you can definitely close in fifth.” It was a good correction, I was like ‘It means she believes in me!’.
(Around this tiime Teacher gave us a lecture on ballet class etiquette: some of my fellow under-the-weather students were leaving the barre mid-combination and then returning also mid-combination (which honestly, surprised me, as in I know better.) Teacher said “You must wait until the combination is done to return to the barre.” At this point I realized that I have actually absorbed quite a bit of ballet class etiquette in my 2 years of ballet, and I had a quick reminiscence of how intimidating it is to be a brand new ballet student and not know any of these sometimes unspoken rules.)
Before going on to degages with and without hands on the barre, Teacher had us partner us and do this exercise where our partner holds down our foot by the instep and we’re supposed to “push” their hand off with the force of our degage, to help us to learn to use the strength in our feet. My partner commented/complimented me (well, I’m taking it as a compliment 🙂 ) on my feet and how strong both they are (I guess some people have drastically mismatched feet), though she did say that on the way back in I have to relax my foot so that I have that much power available to me for the next degage. I was still thinking ‘Yay! My feet are strong!(Thank you, theraband!)’ and this girl is en pointe, so I presume she knows about what’s consdered strong for feet.
The degages themselves felt very stable as far as balancing, even without the barre, and I did try to work on the whole relaxing the foot when coming back in thing. I think I put so much effort on the pointing while in the air part that I tend to forget to relax when the foot makes contact with the foot again.
We did rond de jambes a terre and en l’air with passe releve after each side (like after going en dehors for our rond de jambe en l’air, we closed back to plie and passe releve going up the back of the leg, then bring the foot back down to do rond de jambes en dehors and after that on en l’air whe closed front in plie and passe releve up the front of the leg.) Something that I’m tryng to work on (since I heard Teacher give this correction to someone else), is making sure the ankle of my supporting foot doesn’t pop up before the working foot, when I passe releve from a plie. I think I may have gotten this bad habit back about a year and half ago when I first started working on passe releve at home and I barely had the strength to releve on one leg. Now that I’m much stronger, I can passe releve without a plie (would that be a passe eleve instead?), and keep my working foot’s heel down until the working foot has started going up, but when starting from plie I still subconsciously feel like I need the leverage I guess. I’m working on it…
After a nice long barre stretch, including foot-in-hand stretches and some leg swings we put away the barres for center.
Once again we did our grand battements devant with arms in high fifth and passe releve, then grand battements derriere and passe releve. The way it was different this time from previous classes was that we didthe same working leg for both devant and derriere before doing the other leg devant and derriere. It felt a little bit trickier this way. Also, when closing the battements we didn’t stop at tendu but closed all the way to fitth, which also makes it trickier (though I think it also means that I was relying too much on the tendu part). Overall though, my grand battements in center – yes, even derriere – are absolutely amazing compared to last semester, so I’m feeling pleased about that.
After that, we swiched lines, and I found myself in the front line to do our 4 balancés (with arms), step to arabesque, pas de bourre, other side combination. We went at a nice slow tempo, so I really enjoyed this combination. While the arms coordination is really coming along, I’m still mystified by that “lean” to the side that some (I guess, more advanced) people do when doing their balances, the one that makes it look much more ballet-ish. I think since I can actually do balancés without tipping over it’s something that I should try to start working on…
Chaines went ok. I think I’m starting to form muscle memory about holding my arms up in front of me with my lats, and in turn (pun?) it’s really helping me with my stability.
My sautes were not the best this day. In my defense, I was/am still getting over a cold, and I even told Teacher before class that I may have to end up sitting out the more strenous part of class (but I ended up sticking it out). I’ve noticed that I actually jump pretty high, but I really have trouble with staying in timing, and of course, pointing my feet. After regular sautes in first we did a 4 changements, echappe, 4 changements, echappe combination which was fun (but was I out of breath or what!). I managed to have the correct foot in front, so that was nice.
After that we worked on ballet running – ugh. I do NOT enjoy ballet running at all. It is so hard – like, how do I run while pointing my feet, while slightly bending my back leg (but not the front), while keeping my head at the same level? Not to mention that the whole time my chest is going bounce-bounce-bounce and it’s so awkward with my arms out in second like ‘Hey everyone, look over here at the place where I most definitely want to avoid attracting attention!’. I think ballet running is arguably more awkward than sautes, and I used to think sautes were bad…
We finished up class with 4 chasse gallops (arms in third), ballet run (only for 4 counts though, arms in second) and saut de chat with arms in high fifth. This was much more enjoyable than just straight ballet running. I like how I’ve finally figured out how to point my feet while chasse galloping.
Teacher announced that there would be no class on Thursday, so the rest of the week I’ve been on my own practicing. Since we’ve been working on passe releves quite a bit, both at the barre and in center, I wonder if next week will be when we start doing pirouettes. Hopefully it will go better than last semester…
Ever have one of those days when it feels like your day got flipped a whole 180 and you’re left wondering what the hell went wrong? If not, consider yourself lucky, and if you care to see what that is like, read on.
Original half of the post (up until the beginning of evening class part) was written way earlier and has not been edited since.
Wednesday morning class
As morning class ended, I was so high off ballet happiness that I practically floated to my car. If only after every class I could feel this way – but then maybe when I do it wouldn’t feel so special… Food for thought. But seriously, I was in such a great mood that I didn’t even notice traffic on the way home. More evidence for our thoughts influencing our reality, I guess.
What was so great about today’s class? Let’s see, not only did plenty of things go right but, more importantly, nothing really went wrong.
During the plie and tendu exercise with port de bras, Teacher very enthusiastically said “Good, K (insert real name)!” Then as we did our tendu and degage exercise without holding the barre I felt more stable than I had when we previously tried it. I may be closer to finding my one-legged balance (while moving the other leg) than ever before. Then we did a coupe, passe and ronde de jambe exercise, again without holding the barre, and that also went without a single wobble. Teacher also complimented me on my releve-sous-sus balancing with arms in high fifth, which for once I did without legs shaking. The theraband exercises are really paying off!
One thing that struck me is that when I hear Teacher say “Ok, put away the barres!” when it’s time to go to center I actually don’t get this impending doom feeling at all anymore. Or maybe that was just today. But I have realized that I actually enjoy center, which would have been inconceivable as little as 3 or 4 months ago.
We practiced different ways of ballet-walking across the floor. My pas de cheval walk is feeling more stable every day, and I’ve finally overcome my fear of looking at my reflection in the mirror at class while in center. Before there was just this constant fear of it looking so horrible – wrong arms, wrong posture, wrong lines, wrong everything – that I wouldn’t ever want to attempt doing anything ballet related in front of anyone again. We also did this other walk that just involved tiptoeing but pointing the feet when they are off the ground and slightly crossing in front.
Then came ballet running. I’ve written on this blog previously about my difficulty with ballet running, which is aggravated by my fear of drawing attention to my chest. Luckily – see, today’s class was awesome – the guy that made the comment about breast-weight a few semesters ago was not in class today. Or else I would have felt so uncomfortable, and it would have potentially ruined this so-far-perfect class day…
I know it’s irrational to let one person have such an impact on one’s mood but to feel publictly called out about an issue that I feel is out of my control (body type) is really embarassing me for me. Also, sometimes some of the more advanced students have this mean-girls, sort of catty behavior and I just try to fly under their radar. Thankfully, that was mostly a first semester phenomena and I have seen way more diversity the following semesters as far as body shape and size, age, and even ethnic background which is really cool. I love diversity in ballet!
Today I wore my black tights, which had been a little tight (pun?) in the waistband area last time I tried them on (2 months ago), giving my torso a sausage-like appearance. The good news is that they felt a less tight around the middle. The bad news is that even though I rarely wear them – only one time last semester – they appear to be really stretched out or worn in the legs. So strange, because I don’t think I’ve worn them a total of 20 times since getting them. Oh well, they’re just my emergency tights anyway.
Rather than doing sautes (like I said, today’s class was perfect! ), Teacher spent the last few minutes of class teaching us different ways to bun our hair. Some of the girls’ hair tends to fall out during turns so that’s what brought on our bun tutorial. Last semester, Strict Teacher taught us how to do a ballet bun, but today I also learned other ways of doing it. Looks like a ballet-hair blog post is in the near future…
Why, oh why did I not just stay home and call it a day after morning class? I know, because I’m a ballet addict. But seriously, I should have just taken the night off and celebrated or something.
We had a sub. That in itself would not be a problem, escept fot the fact that it was a girl that I took class with during my disastrous first semester taking ballet! A girl that I remember often giggling as we beginners stumbled and collided through across the floor combinations. I’m not really comfortable giving too many specifics on this public blog – and it somehow seems immature of me to completely trash some girl a dozen years younger than me – but I will just say that this girl is not very nice and I don’t think I would have even liked to take class with her again. Certainly not have her as my teacher.
Unfortunately, I was already situated comfortably at a barre with the other students by the time she walked into the room. I’m much too shy to take such bold action as to walk out on class. And, like I said, I’m a ballet addict. So I decided to stay for the class.
She asked the group how class was usually run. Out of the 10 or so students, no one spoke up except for the 2 most advanced students. So she gives us this long barre combination that includes grand plies in fourth! Of all the times I’ve been going to this class ( I’ll later check my archives to update the exact number), about 9 classes or so, we have never so much as stood in fourth. We had at least several students who don’t even know how to tendu, but since the 2 most advanced -one of whom is really advanced, possibly even an ex-pro – were the only ones who were not too intimidated to say anything, we went ahead and tried the combination.
It went horrible. I was unable to find my concentration, and while I wasn’t completely messing up, I know I could do so much better. There was no way I could just focus on what I was doing when I kept having flashbacks to my first few months of ballet. I mean, I remember back then I would try to get a barre spot somewhere where she would never be in a position to see me. That’s how intimidated I felt! So out of nowhere I felt like someone who’s only been taking ballet for weeks or something.
It didn’t help that her variations of barre exercises for the more advanced students were way too advanced for me. This is going to sound so bad, but the last couple of weeks I’ve almost gotten used to being among the more experienced people in class. Mostly because the more “beginner” version of the move is too basic, like not using arms at all or something. Well in this class it was like all or nothing: either you held your arms out in second the whole time, or you can do things that I’ve never seen in class in person before. Like stuff the pros do in class on youtube.
The craziest thing is that thanks to the newfound strength in my legs, I was actually able to hold all my releve balances. Every single one. If I hadn’t been so preoccupied with the whole teacher fiasco I would have been thrilled.
Center. Ah center, I think we have a love/hate relationship. Earlier I was singing it’s praises and now… I just don’t know anymore.
We did that pas de cheval walk that I’ve become quite proficient at. Of course, she did give me a correction: to look up. In morning class I know to look up because I just look straight ahead into the mirror. But at this moment I was, however slightly, reverting to first semester behavior.
The more advanced students were supposed to do the walk for the first half, and then ballet run the rest. The idea of ballet running – and bouncing – at this movement were more than I could bear. So I huddled with the beginner students, waiting for my turn.
What cheered me up – and really kept me from wanting to cry – was these two adorable little girls, probably around 3 or 4, outside the studio windows who were trying to dance like us. It made me smile.
She gave out a combination that apparently the advanced students were familiar with, while the rest of us stood there dumbfounded. She told us to just leap or do something. I managed to produce a couple mediocre jetes, and I forgot my arms completely. So I guess it was below-mediocre jetes.
Then we did sautes. On my first one I pointed my feet more than I’d ever seen them point during a jump before. Unfortunately, after that I was either tired or didn’t want to bounce – or both – so I never got that height or pointing again. For the advanced version, she like, fluttered her legs in the air or something I’ve never seen in person before.
There was no reverance. Boy, was I ready to get out of there though! Classes like these make me wonder if I’m better off just practicing at home instead.
The little girls were still dancing outside as I walked out. They were putting on a “show” for a passerby lady by that point. Too cute!
“That’s a lot of weight to carry,” I heard a voice say, as I sat on the floor of the dance studio, stretching before class.
I blushed. Even though I had not been mentioned by name, and had been looking down at the floor so I had no way of knowing if this person referred to me, it was awkward. They had been discussing breasts and previous to this I had never in my life heard anyone refer to boobs as “weight”. And so, as far as “carrying weight”, well I had a lot to carry.
Before signing up for ballet, I had been so excited about my weight loss that I didn’t stop to think if my top-heaviness would be a problem. Short story: it was. Quick physics lesson: When an object’s center of gravity is located closer to the top of the object than the bottom, it becomes more and more unstable the closer it is to the top, assuming the bottom doesn’t compensate for it. Well, I was the picture of instability! In real life (meaning while not in ballet class), I had a habit of leaning back slightly to compensate for the weight. Especially since my bottom half does not match my top half. That went out the window the first time the teacher corrected me on my posture. “lean forward, shift your weight to the front onto your toes, not your heels” she said. I heard, I understood the words, there was just no way that my body was going to be able to physically pull it off. I resolved to work on my back and core strength.
So, this was the first time it came to my attention that my body type(shape?) was going to present an additional challenge. At the same time though, I was super motivated. I would show them! When there’s a will there’s a way and nothing strenghthens my will like a challenge.
I would do ballet, my “extra weight” and other’s opinion of it be damned.