Tag Archives: pointing feet while jumping

Conquering The Fear… Sort Of

I think I can tentatively say that this past week was much better…

After last week’s (admittedly whiny) post, I gathered myself together, took myself to my home barre and decided to face some of my fears head on. I mean, there’s things that are not in my control but the least I can do is practice, right? As I’d mentioned, I was afraid of being completely off the barre for pointe work, specifically quick   releves and echappes to second. So, after a warm up barre in slippers I put on my pointe shoes and started to go through my eleves, releves and echappes at the barre, at first with my hands resting on it, then with just a finger resting on it. Then I forced myself to step back from the barre, gave myself a little pep talk, and before I could wimp out, quickly sprung up in sous-sus, followed my my first echappes completely off the barre! Even though I pulled it off, once I stopped to rest I had to give myself another pep talk before doing it again. So it’s still not something that I felt confident about, but at least I knew it was possible? I didn’t know it yet at the time, but good thing I forced myself to take this next step because during our last class of the week, Teacher asked us to step away from the barre for our echappes combination and for once I didn’t feel that deer-in-headlights feeling when she has us do something new while I’m wearing pointe shoes.

This week we continued with similar barre combinations from the last few weeks, except adding on longer balances in sous-sus, coupe, retire and attitude on releve (which meant all the way on pointe for me). And yes, I even let go of the barre a little bit while up on one foot but no super long balances or anything yet. After our frappes combination we did petit battements on releve. I do think my eyes got wide when I realized what we were going to be doing, but once doing it I found that for me they are much more difficult on demi pointe. Teacher’s always mentioning how it is much less stressful on the body to be in a higher releve than a lower one, and I think the same thing goes for being en pointe instead of in demi pointe. I mean, yea, my big toe was hurting, but my calves were not even feeling it compared to all the times I’ve done this on releve in soft shoes.

By now I feel more comfortable leaving on the pointe shoes for center. Of course, I’m still doing passe releve facing the barre, still scared to do it with one hand at barre (and of course in center). However, I’m not longer using the death grip at the barre when doing 1 foot passe releves or the chasses to releve arabesque (side note: why do the chasses to releve arabesque feel much less terrifying than the passe releves? I mean, they’re both a rise up on one foot from two). I’m feeling patient with myself, I mean back when I first started ballet I practiced passe releve facing the wall every day for about six months before I attempted it with only one hand on it, both for lack of strength and fear reasons. So why should I assume that my progress en pointe should be any faster?

Since there’s a mixture of levels in the class, when the newer beginners work on tendu, close, passe releve in center I do that combination near the barre (so I can use the barre for the passe releve part), and then when we do the more beg-int combination I come out to center and do the single leg rises or pirouettes on demi, two leg rises en pointe. This week we did tombe (in efface line) pas de bourre, pirouette en dehors, pivot, pirouette en dedans, soutenu, chasse into chaines. I substituted the soutenu with sous-sus en pointe, because even though I can do the half-soutenu to switch sides at the barre (detourne?) with no hands, I still haven’t figured out how to do the full revolution soutenu while en pointe. I asked Teacher about this last class, and she said that the hardest part is the sous-sus, so if I’ve got that part I’m good to go, so we’ll see how it goes next time I practice. For now, it’s like half soutenu and half bourre turn…

I  continued with the chaines en pointe along the barre. They’re starting to feel much less scary, thankfully. I was thinking about how when I first started learning chaines, I would put my hands on my shoulders and just slowly do half turn and pause , gradually speeding it up as I improved. It suddenly struck me that if I can hold a balance in first position up en pointe then I should be able to slowly start working on chaines off the barre, using a similar approach. I don’t want to feel like I’ve become too dependent on the barre after all.

During pique passes at the barre (to prepare for pique turns), one of my classmates mentioned that I was making it harder on myself by traveling out too far. I told her that yea, it feels like I’m pole-vaulting, but if I don’t go out that far I feel like I will slide on the tip of my box instead of getting over it. I asked Teacher about it and she said to think of it as pushing off my second leg to get up there quicker and  to also think of pointing my toes more of my landing foot so I don’t feel like I have to launch myself out as far to get over the box. I will work on applying those corrections in the coming week.

This week, I actually kept the pointe shoes on for the jumps and petit allegro parts of class. I was surprised to find out that sautes and changements are not any more difficult while wearing pointe shoes. If anything, I was really liking seeing my pointed feet in the mirror. Petit allegro was glissade (right), jete, glissade (left), jete, pas de bourre (left), pas de chat (right), entrechat, royalle, other side. As I’ve mentioned many times, beated jumps are hard for me, but I think I’m starting to feel a little more confident about them. By that I mean that I’m actually attempting them mid-combination, as opposed to just taking the easier route (substituting changment for royalle or soubresaut for entrchat). One correction I got was to close my glissade a little quicker. I think I’m struggling with this because all the times I practiced glissades I would go really slow to really feel like I was pointing my second foot, and when I try to speed it up my second leg kind of drags behind a little. Doing glissade jete over and over quickly while wearing pointe shoes makes me feel like I’m tap dancing…

We  did temps leve (saute arabesque) chasse, temps leve, chasse, repeat all the way across the studio while alternating legs. Then we incorporated ballet run and grand jete into it. I took off my pointe shoes before that last part because I just wasn’t up to running and grand jete-ing while wearing the shiny, slippery shoes (though I did leave them on for one go across the floor of temps leves and chasses). However, one day when we had a slightly shorter class I technically kept the shoes on the entire class all the way through reverance (which, by the way, was lovely: cambre forward in croisse, come up and cambre back with the arm closest to the barre up, chasse backward to tendu devant, bend towards the pointed foot as you extend the arm the length of the leg, step forwards into B+ and curtsey, ronde de jambe the back leg around to do the same to the other side). I did feel like I’m getting over my mental block of keeping the shoes on for the whole class.

This week I also had the opportunity to do lots of practicing on my own – and with a ballet friend – at school. I worked on pique turns and chaines with my slippers on (since during class I’m usually working on the preparation to do these en pointe I don’t get to work on them on flat as much as I’d like). We also worked on pirouettes and stepover pique turns. I haven’t been doing pirouttes in my soft shoes lately because I’ve been wearing the pointe shoes (and turning in demi pointe), and that may have been a factor in my pirouettes suddenly coming out way better! As in, holding a balance after instead of falling out of them, actually attempting a double just by spotting without using extra force (I made it about 1 3/4), going from one side to the other consecutively. I don’t know if the improvement is from working with pointe shoes (even if on demi point) causing me to be more hyperaware of technique and that translates to stronger pirouettes, or getting over the fear of attempting pirouttes in flat shoes since they’re scarier – or supposed to be – in pointe shoes (even on demi point, just because of the satin being slippery) and I’ve in theory attempted them, so if anything I’m doing something that should be less difficult.

I ran through one of the variations I’m working on (a simplified version of Swanilda’s variation from the first act of Coppelia – when she’s trying to get the doll’s attention) a few times, as I’m trying to make sure my stamina’s up to par. In general, the variation’s going ok, but I’m still feeling a little clumsy on those pas de bourres en dessous and en dessus. Other than that I’m pleased that I have memorized it already, just need to clean it up, possibly speed up those turns…

After that, we put on some music and then just improvised and randomly danced around. It was so much fun! I love ballet improvising, and having a large space to play with. Confession: I couldn’t resist putting my pointe shoes back on and dancing around with them a little bit. I didn’t do anything crazy that I hadn’t done previously, and did lots of stuff on demi point (because all I’m doing en pointe in center is bourres, two-legged balances and echappes to second) but it was so surreal to look in the mirror and see that I was dancing in pointe shoes. I mean, seriously, when I got these I was already thinking that it was ok if I didn’t get to fully dance with them, I was just going to enjoy my eleves and feeling so lifted. And I had never really planned on going en pointe – honestly, when I decided to start ballet I didn’t even think of it as an option, I just wanted to do a beautiful barre routine with my slippers and call it a day. Dancing in the center, was still nowhere in sight for a long time. I’m so happy I didn’t quit back then, when everything about ballet seemed impossible.

(readers, sorry for the long post length… Just saw the word count and was like :0

Like A Ballet Brainteaser

Now that we’re about a third of the way through the session,the difficulty has really picked up in Int/Adv and Intermediate. Well, I guess in Beginner too – I always get extremely sweaty in that class, working on technique at this excrutiatingly slow speed. And by now I feel that whatever strength I lost in the inter-session period I have regained (I want to say ‘and then some!’)

In Int/Adv though, the tempo is usually rather quick, both in barre and center. Lately, F Teacher has had us do diferent variations on the 8-8-4-4-2-2-1-1-1-1 theme. One of them was still facing the barre, but  afterwards we did three quick degages in first, followed by flexing the foot and quickly beating/closing fifth in front, back and front, then temps lie and then the other side. Yeah, so I may have been  a bit lost on that one, hoping we’ll repeat it in another class…

The other version we did was not facing the barre, and it was 8 degages devant, taking the full 8 counts for the arm to arrive in high fifth, then 8 degages a la second with the arm taking 8 counts to get there, 8 derriere with the arm slowly going to arabesque, then a la seconde, and then repeat the whole thing with 4 degages, then 2, then 1, then soutenu for the other side. The first time F Teacher had us try it, it was so fast that most of us were all over the place. So then she picked us a slower piece of music, and it started to become do-able but still really hard.

Another brainteaser-ish aspect is changing facings at the barre. For example, after our four on dehors rond de jambes (with port de bras so the arm takes the four rond de jambe’s worth of  time to make the transistion through all the positions), with each rond de jambe we pivot, so that at the end of the first one we’re facing away from the barre, then after the second on we’re facing the opposite side, after the third we’re facing the barre, and by the time we close the fourth one we’re facing the way we were. These are challenging not only because of the changing facings/instability aspect, but also timing it so that we’re facing the next direction as the rond de jambe closes. And, of course, going the right way since we do these en dedans as well, with the pivots taking us the opposite direction… I mean, it took me about a year and a half to realize that the slow port de bras follows the same direction as the quick rond de jambes, so yeah… (at my most paranoid times, I imagine some of those quick-natural-dancer-people coming across my blog by coincidence, and reading confessions like these while snickering at my slowness and seeming ineptitude…)

Center has also been getting progressively more difficult (but so much fun; I hate to sound like I’m bragging or gloating, but center – even center in a difficult class – has stopped being the time of class to dread, quite the opposite), with combinations including several direction changes of travel, a quicker tempo overall (both during the combinations themselves, amd also the way we very quickly switch groups from one to the next – picture those company class videos on youtube, that quick) and a variety of turns in even the first combination. Here’s an example of one such combination: 2 tendus croisse devant, 1 tendu efface devant, 1 tendu ecarte, fouette to arabesque, chasse to arabesque, coupe back foot, then bring it up to attitude and promenade to other side, allonge, sous-sus, tombe, pas de bourre, pirouette en dehors, pivot, pirouette en dedans, repeat with degages instead of tendus, and attitude pirouette for pirouette en dedans, other side.

Waltz combinations are a little trickier. They usually start with waltz en tournant and balancés, then F Teacher changes it up every class. One time it was a series of pique arabesques in a circle, followed by pique turns and a series of chaines. To the right we marked it as a class several times before breaking into groups of three, to the left we didn’t mark. It started out alright, but once we got into the pique arabesques it seemed we each went a different way and chaos occured.

We also do piroeutte drills, including one when we’re supposed to do pirouettes continuously/consecutively while the music plays (supposed to prepare us for fouette en tournant, I believe F Teacher said). These are hard but they take out some of my overthinking associated with pirouettes, at least some of the time. They’re from fith, which besides being more difficult, helps me to work on bringing my retire foot to the front of my knee (lately I’ve noticed that on pirouettes from fourth sometimes I get lazy about bringing my foot all the way to the front instead of (incorrectly) in the back).

In Intermediate class, the combinations are less complex, but it does help bridge the gap between Beginner and Intermediate. We’ll do tombe, pas de bourre, pirouette, repeat, or balance, balance, tombe, pas de bourre, repeat. Also our passe releve, pirouette and promenade combination for strength. However, sometimes things get a little more dificult. Lately we’ve been working on fouette (not en tournant …yet… hopefully not for some time, I don’t think I’m ready yet…) across the floor. It goes something like, step, step, fouette saute, step, step, fouette saute, repeat, all the way across the floor. I’ve gotten over the fear factor, but my coordination is still off and I get confused which way I’m going.

Speaking of getting over the fear factor, I did some beated jumps! Mostly royalles, entrechats are still harder for me. I attempt them, but my feet end up not-so-pointed in there. F Teacher said we should have our  entrechats by this level, but I clearly don’t. I’m going for it more though, so I do feel like I’m (slowly) improving. As for the royalles, it’s much harder for me when the left leg is in front, so I’m still trying to figure out if it’s a strength discrepancy from left to right issue. Perhaps I need to work the left side more at the barre at home with some quick footwork exercises? I’ve been working on my left side as it is. Lately I’ve been taking a spot at the barre in class where I can see myself in the mirror for the second side (left), because I feel like if I have the mirror to answer to it makes me really work hard. There’s also the advantage that since we usually face the mirror when marking the combination, by being on that side I get to work that side just a little more. I can see how always marking on the same side can contribute to one side becoming much stronger than the other.

 

A Mixed Week, And Headstand Progress

If I had to use one word to describe the past week, it’d be ‘inconsistent’. Not as far as my class attendance and practicing – for that I get an A for effort – but as far as my actual dancing. I’m not too worried, because by now I’ve noticed patterns and sometimes it does appear that I’m getting weaker or my dancing’ getting sloppier right before it gets better. And besides, if all my classes went super well and it was all compliments and not corrections i would start to feel like something’s off. I guess at this point in my training I need not-so-encouraging classes just as much as encouraging ones, to keep my perspective balanced.

The biggest inconsistency/disappointment this week had to do with extensions on releve. At home I’ve been doing the  Pointe Barre video (which is by far my favorite of all the youtube barre videos that I have tried, and it is really challenging. A year ago or so, when I first started to do youtube barre videos at home, I remember I was most comfortable with the Easy Barre video, and would have been so lost on this), where my favorite combination is the  adagio (developpe devant, plie, pique attitude derriere, plie, allonge, developpe a la seconde on releve, close, cambre, reverse this time developpe derriere, pique attitude devant). I actually rewind and do the combination 2 or 3 times, I love it that much. I love the fact that I can actually do this combination without feeling like I’m about to fall over, and it actually looks ok in my mirror, and I can’t help admiring my extension because it seems so unbelievable for me considering the less-than-mediocre extension capabilities I brought to ballet.

Anyway, during class we did a combination at the barre that was not similar but did involve an extension on releve. We were bringing our working foot up from coupe to passe on flat, then rising up to releve before extending a la seconde and holding it there, then back to passe and coupe derriere. For whatever reason my extension was absolutely terrible, I felt like I’d used up all my energy just going on releve. Which made no sense because I’d done the video class at home the day before and the developpe on releve had been fine. I think the part abot having to hold it out there may have had something to do with it? But either way I did feel off.

Center varied immensely from a day with only brand new beginners (we did tendus with basic port de bras, and then sautes and changements)to a day with crazy fast combinations that were close to impossible at my current level. At some point NS Teacher had us do 16 entrechats, and then we were supposed to start with the other leg in front and do 16 more and there was just no way. I don’t think I’ve ever even done one entrechat correctly, but I tried the combination anyway. It was pretty awful. The whole time I think I was doing it in half time, taking a small rest between each jump to charge up, not on purpose but because i just can’t jump that fast yet, not even with unbeaten jumps. I also wasn’t really able to fully cross on the beats, but at least my feet didn’t do some wierd flexing thing, I guess. Another combination that day was glissades with assemble battu. I’d never tried to beat my assembles, so I was unsure about how to go about it.  NS Teacher said we didn’t have to beat them, possibly noting my apprehension, but omitting the beat sort of threw off the timing.

At home, for center, I’ve finally gotten through the entire Classic Center video (except for grand allegro, because there’s just no room, I do my petit allegro and sautes on this rubber mat thing I have that I put on the carpet), being able to do all the combinations. The way I approached it was to repeat the exercises several times in each practice session, until I started to remember them (it also helps that she goes over the combination several times). Another thing that helped was that I’ve just been going up on releve retire instead of the pirouettes (so I can devote the energy spent to pirouette anxiety on remembering the combination instead).  The combination that I’d had the most difficuty remembering was the adagio, because there’s all the changes in facings and chasses and temps lies with port de bras, and honestly at first (and second, and third, and tenth…) glance those kinds of steps majorly confuse me and I have trouble remembering them until I’ve marked them many times.  I’d set the goal for myself that I wanted to get though the Classic Center video before my regular classes resumed for the Fall and I wouldn’t have much time to practice at home. I found it really fun to work on the same combination until I was able to remember it, and then actually feel like I’m dancing it, which is something that I don’t get much opportunity for during regular classes outside of the beginner level. I’m hoping this continued exposure to a more intermediate-ish kind of combination will help if/when I return to Intermediate class. I’ve also become really comfortable with promenades in attitude.

In non-ballet-related news, I have  leveled up on my headstand skills. I no longer need a doorway to walk my feet up to get into the headstand. I’d been practicing the doorwya method for the past few weeks, and finally this week I decided I felt brave enough to try it by myself (still against the wall though). I’m still not kicking up, just getting in the clasped hands and head between the arms position, and really pulling up with my core then lifting up one leg and pushing off a little but mostly just using my core. The first time I tried it I was pretty scared, but by the third or fourth day it was starting to feel very muscle memory-ish. My next goal is to be able to do it without a wall at all, but I imagine that one will take a little more time…

Also, i never got around to publishing my yoga session thoughts, and that is because it turned into a rambling mess, and I’m still not sure what I want to say on the topic (not to mention I’m torn with guilt because I get it that yoga is Good For You, but I just don’t feel as inspired to do it as I do ballet, and I hate that you-should-know-better feeling). But I do have to say that besides the headstand progress, yoga did help me improve my flexibility even more and even out the flexibility gap between my tighter and less tight side. I’ve noticed that my extensions on either side are becoming more or less comparable, although as far as strength goes I remain uneven.

 

Once You’ve Been Sprung You Don’t Want To Go Back

And other ramdom thoughts from my ballet week.

Recently, I had the opportunity – the priviledge – of dancing on a sprung floor studio for the first (and so far, only) time. It was amazing – I felt like I could jump all day. The landing is so much more cushioned and smooth. Then, I returned to reality my regular studios. Anyone who gets to work on a sprung  floor on a regular basis – I hope you realize how lucky you are. But then, I get to dance at all, so I should consider myself lucky as well. (And I do)

This week, there was a sub at NS, and it was a cool experience, as it often is taking class with someone who is not one of my regular teachers (if anything, I seem to get different – and extremely helpful -corrections when taking class with a new teacher.) One thing I really liked was that for the balance in releve retire at the barre, she had us just rest the hand lightly on the barre, the only use one finger to rest on the barre. I find this so much less abrupt to switch to no hands than to just take the hand off, espccially since I’m still working on my balance and confidence. That one finger does so much for my confidence, but at the same time I’m having to work much harder to pull up than if I had my whole hand on the barre. This sub in particular is really big on pushing us to go for a deeper plie, which is something that I need. I also like this intense stretch we do at the wall barre: from the croise leg at the barre stretch, she has us twist back with our leg still at the barre and grab the barre behind us with the opposite hand. I’m not good at describing it but it looks so hard to so that I felt a sense of accomplishment just for being able to get into it, like my flexibility’s come such a long way.

This class also got me thinking: good teacher will find a way to challenge everyone – even the girl that is showing off that she knows what she’s doing (and insisting on multiple pirouettes when everyone else is struggling with singles, yet she’s late on the count every single time (reminded me of that scene in CenterStage when one of the characters – I think her name was Anna? – kept trying to squeeze in an extra revolution, and the teacher called her out on it)). I tend to get intimidated when there’s a more experienced dancer – and I know I’m not the only one, but when the teacher corrects them too instead of just heaping praise upon them it makes the class atmosphere so much less intimidating. Or maybe it’s just me..

Speaking of showing off, I still struggle with the whole idea of me being one of the more advanced dancers in a particular class. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m taking a beginner Modern class. M Teacher has us do almost the same exact exercises she had us do the last session, so they’re familiar to my body. I’m at the point where I’m focusing more on making them look as they should rather than just holding my balance. During warm-up, as we all stay in place, I’m able to stay more or less inconspicous. But when we go across the floor, there’s nowhere to hide (as we all know). My classmates are visibly struggling with the across the floor combinations and I feel really guilty going through them seemingly effortlessly. I mean, they can’t know the huge amounts of effort it took me to get to this point just from looking at me. It’s so awkward when we line up to go across the floor and even though I didn’t set out to be in the front they just line up behind me anyway, placing me in front by default. Then we went across in partners and there was an odd number of people so I ended up going by myself. It was a somewhat challenging (for beginner level) combination, including balances on one leg, this weird plie/lunge/glide walk, direction changes and quick turns. I didn’t feel shy or awkward about dancing, or going alone, but about being able to do it. I suppose I’m just a weirdo, because I fully realize that the exact opposite (being the only one who cannot do it) is a place I don’t want to be as well.

There’s a girl who starts randomly dancing around (not doing the steps M Teacher set out, just kind of shimmying around), and I find myself feeling irritated, so maybe I’m just projecting.

On the happier side of things… fun combination of the week: balancé, balancé, soutenu, developpe devant croise, tendu close, brush back to arabesque, plie and hold balance (I could have sworn a promenade would follow, but not this time), close to pas de bourre, pirouette from fifth en dehors(that I kept accidentally taking en dedans because that seemed more natural in a hurry), land in fourth, pirouette from fourth, other side. This was in Intermediate class. Pirouettes from fifth continue to be my weakness, but from fourth I’m starting to feel more comfortable.

I continue to work  on straightening my knee. A big part of it was just needed the reality to sink in. Now that I’m super aware of the issue I’m making sure to really feel like I’m pushing the floor away every time.

In Beginner class our combination was port de bras with plies fo four counts, developpe devant, developpe a la seconde, close back in coupe, pas de bourre x2, passe releve balance, other side. We also worked on our chaines across the floor and lots of jumping. The easier combination was 4 sautes in first, in second, 4 changements, and 2 echappes – standard jumping combination. The more challenging one was the same except instead of the 2 echappes at the end there were 3 jumps where we jump in second, beat the legs, and land in second again, followed by one jump from second, with a beat and landing in fifth, then reverse the whole thing to the other side. I remember last summer I definitely couldn’t do those jump-from-second-and-beat jumps – I think I was too weak to attempt them – but I tried them and they could have been worse. My comfort level for beats is increasing, as well as my leg strength. And at least I no longer flex my feet while attempting to beat.

Sometimes, Teacher will switch up the music she plays for class and she will ask the class if they know which ballet the piece is from. This week, I must have been feeling bolder than my usual self, because I actually spoke up and named quite a few of them. Then one of my classmates made a comment about it and I felt like a total nerd. I don’t get it though – why take ballet (as an adult) if one is not enthusiastic about it? I couldn’t imagine devoting so much time to a hobby if I didn’t feel very interested in it (and as such, spend countless hours watching it on youtube). But I guess we’re all different and it is not my place to understand…

Double Dose of Ballet Wednesday

It’s wednesday, you know what that means! Two ballet classes, one day again.  Also, bringing my weekly ballet class total to 3 classes, a new record for me.

Wednesday morning class

As this semester progresses – I can’t believe week 3 is already over – something I find myself thinking quite a bit is “I love the way this teacher teaches class, but I’m so glad it’s not my first semester taking ballet!”  Class has been so much fun, but if it was my first semester I would have been so miserable and discouraged.  There are so many things that this teacher has us do without holding on to the barre that there was just no way I could do until I had been practicing on my own at home for a while.  Like grand plies in center, degages without the barre, balances in releve for a long time, chasse to arabesque with arms, and I’m sure there’s other moves that I can’t recall right now, but those are all things that at this time are possible but challenging.  A year and a half ago? Just downright impossible for me. 

 So far though, this teacher is my favorite teacher I’ve had at community college ballet (I’ve had three different ones here).  She’s really nice and I love when she demonstrates a move because it just looks gorgeous.  I believe she said that she’s an ex professional ballerina and I think that is so cool to take class with a retired professional dancer teaching.  Her feet, extensions, and turns are amazing!

Today, after our warm up plies and tendus we did a different tendu exercise that included rond de jambe, so that was really nice.  Rond de jambe is one of my favorite barre moves – and I can actually do them right, so that might have something to do with it.  No, it’s because I like them that I made myself learn to do them right, like it would be a shame to ruin such a pretty move.  They remind me of drawing circles in geometry class. 

The port de bras that we do at barre during our tendu combinations is nice.  Besides just bending to the side (I think that’s technically called a port de corps but anyway), and to the back, we also this this like circular arm movement (it’s really hard to describe) in which we take our arm out to side and then bend back, kind of following our arm, but our upper body kind of does a circle too.  It was just as hard to perform it the first time as it is to describe it , but luckily my first time with that move wasn’t today but a few weeks ago in wednesday evening class.

Apparently the leg swings through first into attitude devant then back through first to attitude derriere have a name : en balancoire, which means like a seesaw.  Today teacher passed out a list with over 70 ballet terms on it, so that’s the only way I knew how to spell that, I didn’t acquire awesome French spelling overnight. 

When we did grand battements a la seconde, I was facing the mirror and when we all kicked I was like “Is that my leg!? OMG!”  To be fair, it is a beginner class, but I could kick higher than a lot of people, and the initial shock was just incredible.  Besides the height – which honestly isn’t that impressive, just about chest height, but it’s impressive for me – it was also cool how my leg did not come crashing back down to the floor, but landed gently, the way teacher said it should be.  She actually said “Good!” to me!   Now, to be fair, this was holding the barre.  If I had to do a grand battement without the barre I would probably (though hopefully not) fall on my face.  Given this teacher’s love of doing things while letting go of the barre, I could see barre-less grand battements in my near future. Hopefully not too near…

In center, we did the same combination we’ve been working on for the last few classes.  I have to say, the idea of a grand plie in center is scarier than the reality of it at my current skill level, but I still get sooo nervous before doing it.  Teacher is so nice, and says that it’s ok if we fall, so it’s not even that there’s a lot of pressure or anything (unlike last semester’s teacher) but I still don’t want to look all clumsy.  

Of course, with that in mind (not wanting to look clumsy), we had a new across-the-floor move today.  Teacher said it was a chasse, but wednesday evening teacher calls a different move – an almost skipping, hopping, traveling move, where the same leg stays in front – a chasse.  This morning’s chasse involved starting in plie and then sliding one of our heels forward to fourth position and then pushing off with our back foot.  While doing first arabesque arms, unless the coordnination was too much for the particular student.  The arm coordination was not a problem for me, as I always practice stepping into arabesque at home with the arms as well.  The problem was that I’m used to stepping into arabesque from standing in first position and this move involved moving/sliding  our foot forward while plie-ing and then pushing up to straighten our leg in front. Balancing was a bit hard to come by on this part and I felt so much better when one of the girls said that she wasn’t able to balance. That makes two of us!

Obviously, I will be obsessively working on that move at home until my next class with this teacher.  

We did many sautes,  echappes, and changements today, though less than last class.  If I had to guesstimate I would say we did 64 of them total, based on the 8 counts.  The foot strengthening exercises may be helping because I felt as though I could point my feet in the air just a tiny bit more than on monday. Yay, inprovement (however minuscule)!

Teacher said next week we will be focusing on turns and she mentioned chaines, at which point I saw a fellow student make a panicked expression.  I’m guessing she doesn’t much care for chaines, while I’d rather turn all day than have to jump. It’s crazy how we all have our own individual strengths and weaknesses!        

Wednesday evening class

There were 10 of us for class today, 9 ladies and 1 young man.  Before class one of the other ladies started a conversation with me and apparently one of the other students,  whom I had previously thought was her friend, is her daughter! That is so cute, I would’ve loved to have that kind of relationship with my mom.  But no, my mom is still passive aggressively hinting that she’d rather I not take ballet, so that’s not going to happen.  I’m starting to recognize some of the other students at this studio so slowly but surely I’m getting comfortable.  Feeling like part of the group is not a prerequisite for me to have a good class, but it sure helps!  

I like how even though this is a basic beginner class, at the barre we work up to using arms instead of just leaving them in second.  It definitely makes the tendu exercises way more interesting.  Since things like keeping my leg turned out while tondu-ing or remembering to not bend my knees are things that I’ve known and applied for a while, it can get a bit boring if we don’t incorporate arms.  Sometimes when just starting a class with a different teacher I mess up because I’m not familiar with the exercise – and my memory can sometimes suck – but I feel like I’m familiar enough with this teacher’s combinations now that I can focus on actually trying to dance, rather than how many times am I going to tendu in each direction.  Or especially things like the circular motion port de bras I mentioned earlier, which I’m finally starting to feel confident about.

We practiced the wrap-around coupes a lot today, slowly bringing the foot up to passe and then back down, possibly because we didn’t do developpes since there were too many brand newish people.  My wrap-around coupes have improved a bit since I was first introduced to this way of coupe-ing back a couple months ago when I first came to this studio.  Back then the movement was completely foreign to me (like if everything in ballet wasn’t at first!) but now I’m able to do both styles of coupe. I may post progress pictures in the near future if I remember, can’t right now because my “photographer” is not home.

My center sautes were a visible improvement over last week.  I actually saw pointed feet, and it happened more than once.  We then did echappes and chagements.  It’s a bit harder to point my feet when we do echappes and I start the jump from second, but I’ll get there.  For changements, the teacher said that when we bring the legs together we should squeeze them together in the air. I tried doing that and kept landing on top of my own feet.  No, I know your supposed to literally land on your own feet but what I mean is I kept landing kith part of one foot on top of part of the other foot.  This is something I need to work on, but at least the pointing of the feet is sort of coming along. Continuing to do the theraband exercises every day should show some results by next wednesday hopefully.

We also did jetes across the floor. Last time I attempted a jete was before my ankle incident – I had been too afraid to attempt any jumps that involved landing on only one foot – but I wasn’t afraind and went for it. There was no pain at all.  That doesn’t mean it looked right, of course.  I need to figure out a way to get that back leg straightened, but I’m glad I didn’t freeze up and not jump as I’ve seen happen to other people (including one lady today).

Another great ballet day, despite the chasse fail in morning class. The positives just happen to outweigh the negatives regardless!