Tag Archives: social awkwardness

Midsummer

 

This summer i find myself in a unique situation: my school is having a break as far as ballet, but they’re offering modern dance. So rather than just dancing on my own, I’m taking classes, just not ballet. As a result, I’m a bit concerned about losing my technique.
The past two years we had a summer ballet session, four times a week, and I had such a great time. Three years ago there was no ballet, but i didnt take any classes in other dance styles. This year, I’m in modern three days a week ( would have been four, but one of the days interferes with my work schedule, so three it is) for a little over two hours per day. Im doing ballet through New Studio, but only two classes a week, an hour each.

What this results in is more hours per week doing modern than ballet, even if i practice at home, which I’m having trouble doing more than twice or maybe three times a week, both due to time management with work and just sheer soreness. Oh, I didn’t mention that in addition to the six hours a week or modern class i also have about six more hours a week for rehearsals? More modern…
Don’t get me wrong – I find modern class to be lots of fun, and I’m so glad my school at least is offering some form of dance over the summer. It’s just that some things in modern are so different from ballet class that I worry about my muscles picking up some habits that will be the opposite of what we want in ballet. There’s this move we do on the floor laying on our back. We have our knees bent with the feet on the floor, then we let the knees drop to one side and the leg that is now on top swings free. And if you do it correctly your foot completely sickles the whole time, because you’re supposed to trace your toe along the floor not your ankle…it bothers me a little honestly. Alignment is not focused on as much as in ballet, so I have to check myself especially when it comes to not tilting my pelvis anteriorly while standing. I’ve been corrected to flex my foot. My partner in one exercise told me to tilt my upper body forward while doing an arabesque even though I didn’t need to (which kind of annoyed me), just because the teacher said we could. Which reminds me, there is a huge interacting-with-people component here compared to what I’m used to in ballet… and at times that’s just awkward. I understand that I may be a bit antisocial and not like human interaction as much as the next person, but it’s not just talking, but full on body contact – in ballet the most contact was partner stretches at the barre.
On the other hand, I love the warm up exercises, and the teacher plays some really cool music throughout class. We go across the floor a lot and that’s really fun. And while alignment and technique are not focused on, some of those exercises can really try your balance. Stuff like kicking the leg out (I’d call it a grand battement) then bending the knee to make passe (like a turned in enveloppe) while coordinating arm movements. I’ll save the part about how this class would have been impossible back when I first started dance due to my lack of balance…
Only a few weeks left of this class, then a short break before the fall classes begin. Don’t know yet what my schedule is for the fall, or if I will continue with modern. My work schedule so far has worked out that I will only have to miss one of the evening ballet classes and none of the morning ones, but if any changes occur it wouldn’t be the case. And I definitely want to take some cross training Pilates classes as well. But at the same time I dont want to overschedule myself and feel like I’m rushing from one class to work, back to class, run home to cook, back to work, etc… I feel like with my current schedule I’m not getting enough time to just relax, didn’t realize at the time what a big commitment it would be to do this summer modern session, and partucipate in the show, and choreograph.
As for choreographing, it’s been fun, but at the same time so stressful! I’m not used to managing a group of people, and I’m probably about as opposite of a people person as you can get. I fake it really well at work, but let’s face it, interpersonal skills are not one of my strong points. So I find myself with a dozen young dancers and aspiring dancers, and I’m just the idea person but I have to get them to listen to me, and do what I say, and give some effort… the effort part being the most important, the willingness to try. I know that it takes me a long time to get things sometimes, so I try to be patient with people who are a little slow – I know that sometimes slow and steady wins the race. But what I just dont know how to deal with is people who just won’t even try, if you ask them to do a step they say “i’ve never done that” and just stand there instead of “ok i’ll try it”…it can be frustrating. By now I’m kind of just in this weird state of acceptance about it, like it’ll work out the way it works out… i dont want to put too much pressure on myself. It’s been an educational experience for sure. Don’t know yet if I am interested in choreographing again, for a group – for myself it is practically inevitable that I will. But this group thing, it can be stressful… I definitely need to work on my communication skills, it’s hard when I know what I want my dancers to do but I’m unable to communicate with them. Also difficult for me is being able to tell people things they don’t want to hear, and the thought of having to remove some dancers from certain parts (re:lack of trying) fills me with anxiety. I suppose in the end we will see what wins out, my desire to choreograph or my desire to close to my comfort zone.

Coming Up With A Title Is The Hardest Part…

Since the last time I wrote on here I’ve had a few really enjoyable classes…

In intermediate, we did this really fun center adagio: developpe croisse devant, cloche  thru to arabesque, go into attitude and promenade with the working leg going into retire by the time the turn is done, and from there developpe out again in ecarte line, bring the foot down into a pique pas de bourre, developpe same working leg in ecarte line, balancé  onto that leg, soutenu, now facing other side, chasse to a fourth position lunge, port de bras/cambre front and back, tendu close, other side. It was so pretty!

We also did tendus to work on our facings: croisse devant, en face, efface devant, close, hold; ecarte derriere, a la seconde en face, ecarte devant, close, hold; efface derriere, en face derriere, croisse derriere, close hold. The confusing part was when we got to derriere, because I wasn’t sure to which side I was supposed to angle my body next, and I ended up doing croisse when it was supposed to be efface. I got it by the last time we did the combination, but it was something I think i should practice more. We do a very similar combination in one of my beginning classes, but in Intermediate it’s about twice as fast – no time to think, just do – which really tries that muscle memory.

In Beginning, we had as center combination of  tombe pas de bourre to both sides, then this new one (to me): tombe backwards, then pas de bourre by closing in front instead of back. It felt weird to tombe backwards, as I’d actually never done that before, but I was so grateful for my improved balance that made it actually do-able and fun.

Also in Beginning we did lots of piques to prepare for pique turns, first at the barre, then in center on flat, then on releve and finally adding the turn. While I enjoyed myself, I was thinking that I would’ve hated to have been an actual, brand -new, several-weeks-into-ballet kind of beginner (like some of my classmates in that class are), which kind of confirms to me that the learning curve expected in these classes is more than I could do with the fitness level – or more like lack of fitness – I had going into ballet. So many of them have a dance, cheer, gymnastics, or sports background  that it is perhaps expected to have such a background, but those of use that didn’t start off with one can really struggle at first. At first, being the operative words – sometimes I feel like my initial struggles did serve to motivate me into working harder, and if so then it was a blessing in disguise.

Speaking of pique turns, I  did my first pique turn en pointe, then I did a few more, but not in a row. What happened was that I started to muscle-memory my way into the second turn, then my brain caught up and I realized what I was doing and when it came time to pique into the turn I just when to demi pointe. I’m annoyed because I think I could have done it, but I wimped out. But at the same time I love it that I actually did a pique turn en pointe! And I piqued onto a straight leg, which I know because an advanced dancer classmate was scutinizing my every move – she even insisted I do it with correct arms instead of just doing nothing with my arms. So far it’s only been to the right, but in general with every thing en pointe for me the left side lags behing the right by about 2 to 3 weeks, like once I become comfortable with something to the right it takes on average for my left to catch up.

I also started working on balancés and pas de basques on pointe. I’m pleased about this because they feel so dance-y and I can start to feel like I know enough steps to put together a dance. Exciting times in my ballet journey!

Since we had break from my regular school, I had the opportunity to go on down to New Studio and take a class there. It was great; the people who showed up that day have been going there for several months so we got a nicely challenging class. Short barre, then right into an adagio in center: developpe croisse devant, close, developpe ecarte, close, developpe to arabesque, rond de jambe the leg back to the front keeping it up the whole time, tendu down to fourth, pirouette en dedans (my fav!). Not only did my adagio-loving self love the combination, but the teacher mentioned that she finds en dedans easier and I was like ‘Yes! Someone understands!’ Haha.

We also did a lot of across the floor. Tombe, pas de bourre, chasse to arabesque, pirouette en dehors, pirouette en dedans, repeat, first at a slower tempo, then in double time. Then lots of waltzing and this really cool combination in which we did a saute arabesque and landed into a balance en tournant, then repeated, all the way around. We went in a circle around the room for this one and it was so awesome, like we were a corps de ballet gliding across a stage. Good times.

***

There is something else that happened that made me happy, but I feel weird just saying it, so first some background: I am extremely socially awkward and have anxiety over it. Like, you wouldn’t believe how socially awkward I am, and I wouldn’t wish this on anybody. You know those situations when two people find themselves in the same place, in each other’s way, and there’s this hesitation/pause, kind of like you’re deciding who gets to go first, and then ultimately you always let the other person go out of awkwardness? Yea, that’s me, pretty much every moment that I come across anybody… (Strangely enough, I don’t have this issue while driving, go figure)

I think I wrote on here over a year ago about how one of the most challenging aspects of ballet is when we come out to center and we have to line up and I struggle with that because I don’t know where to put myself – like I start going for one particular spot but then I think someone else wants that spot and my first reflex is to let them have it, to avoid a “confrontation” (put in quotes because while the intelligent/logical side of my brain knows it’s not, the traumatized/scared side of me thinks it is, and self-preservation, and yea…). Well, now it’s been years of training in ballet – 4 years to be exact – and I still have this issue; I’ll “back down” to people who are brand new beginners. It’s not that I don’t want to be in the front – let’s be honest, I do – or that I don’t know the combination and need someone to follow, because by now I’ve actually gotten decent at memorizing combinations, especially beginner level ones; it’s that I’m terrified of the potential drama, and I feel guilty, like I’m taking someone’s spot. One of my teacher’s said something along the lines of ‘with ballet, you have to stake your territory’ and I felt so depressed because if that’s the case, well, I’m kinda screwed…

Anyway, in one of the last classes I took, we were lining up to do pique turns across the floor. I was ready for the more,ummm, assertive, I guess, people to crowd the front as usual, but then one of my classmates said to me “You should go first – you’re more advanced.”  !!! I can’t even describe how pleased I was! This probably makes me sound like a weirdo (but let’s face it, if you’re still reading you probably already knew that about me) but I felt so validated – like someone has noticed my hard work.  I mean, in a different class I took recently, someone crowded me out of the front and they didn’t even know which leg to start on (and I’m not saying any of this to be mean), and this makes me feel like I’m not taken seriously as a dancer. Like no matter how much I advance I’ll always be the person that gets pushed around… and, being honest, I feel that it has to do with the fact that I don’t *look* like a ballet dancer. So this little moment was very refreshing and still brings a smile to my face,