Tag Archives: summer ballet session

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.

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Summer Session Summary

Alternate title: What I Did On My Summer Vacation (ahhh, memories)

Even though I didn’t have much time to write about it while it was going on but a weekly little summary, my ballet summer session was pretty awesome. I learned so much and I really feel that my dancing has really progressed. It was Beginner level, but I do feel that I needed to fill up gaps in my technique in order to be better prepared for Intermediate, should I decide to take it again (and who are we kidding – I probably will).

Here’s probably the most important thing I learned: When you actually use your technique to the fullest – believe it or not – it gets easier (there is a catch though – you have to actually have enough strength in  your muscles to begin with to be able to physically do it. Back when I started, I was so weak that I couldn’t physically do a lot of things that feel like second nature now). If I’m actually holding my turnout and pulling up and not tilting my pelvis (and staying untilted at the pelvis has a huge impact on turnout) I have an extremely higher likelyhood of not losing my balance. My problems with balancing before were partly (at least – I’d say mostly, but there is that little issue of my weight distribution and center of gravity) caused by the fact that I kept losing my turnout and not pulling up. Of course, back then I wasn’t strong enough to even stand up completely straight, let along pull up, so yeah…

But anyway, I’m much stronger now, so when I remember to fully use my technique – and I’m hoping that writing this down will serve as a reminder – it results in much better dancing. I think the promenades issue is a clear example of this. Back a few months ago, I would start feeling like I was going to tip over anyway, so might as well just let it go. But now I’ve realized that when I feel like I’m going to lose my balance is a great time to pull up even more, and not let my leg drop! Same with the turnout, if I feel like I’m off balance I need to check myself and see if I’m actually holding my turnout and not bending my knees when they should be straight. Also, another thing G Teacher would constantly remind me of was having the weight on the toes not the heels – he said if the weight is on the toes I would not wobble. I really took his advice while rehearsing my dance and it was true – the change was obvious and I feel like my dancing improved so much. I’d always heard that when you rest back on your heels you’re “heavier” and therefore slower, but it was one of those things that you have to be strong enough to be able to do it first.

Another thing that helped me extremely: The turnout exercise we did (super slow (16 count) rond de jambes en l’air with a flexed foot, from fifth,  four counts devant, four counts to a la seconde, four counts to derriere, four to close on right working leg en dehors, then left working leg en dehors, left working leg en dedans, right en dedans, and repeat the whole thing with supporting leg in plie) did much to help me with my balance and stability, but also with my confidence level. In the start of the session, I liked the execise because I could really see it helping with strengthening my supporting leg and my hip flexors and rotators of my working leg, so that was all good. But then G Teacher said he wanted me to do it with my hands off the barre. At first it was very wobbly, and I thought I would lose my balance, so I held my hands very near to the barre, just in case. But by the last two weeks of the session it was like ‘I’m going to do this!’, and I held my arms confidently in second the whole time… and I didn’t fall off balance. Not even when G Teacher would come around with corrections (usually involving turning out more my supporting leg while in plie). And every day, after completing the exercise successfully my confidence would grow. By the end of the session, if he had said ‘do it in center!’ I think I could have! (well, I have at home, but you know how it seems easier to do stuff when everybody’s not staring…at least for me…)

I will say that this exercise in particular – sans barre – has the power to wring sweat from my body more than any exercise I’ve ever done. By the end of it every time I was dripping and ready to remove the warm ups, looking like I just stepped out of a sauna. So this will be a good exercise to remember this winter when i need a way to raise up the old body temperature!

Something I really liked was that I got a lot of attention from the teacher (ok, that sounds horrible… let me try to explain). G Teacher was really generous with both corrections and praise. When I take a beginner level class, often times the teacher focuses more on students that are more beginner (and I can understand why, if they need the help more), and if I’m not really being watched, how will I know if I’m doing it correctly? G Teacher often said ‘Good!’ or ‘Nice!’, but he also pushed me harder and expected more from me. And, I’ve always been somewhat nerdy, so I kind of like that feeling when teachers expect more from you, i respond to it real well.

For example, the solo at the end of the session, when I first approached him I hadn’t expected that he would have me learn a real variation. I had just been checking what we were doing for the end of session so I could begin working on one of my own chorographies if I needed to (and hoping to avoid having to work in a group to create one, because that just does NOT work out for me, as I’ve found out). So I was surprised to be assigned a real choreography to learn, and I was pleased when I ran it by G Teacher and he said he was impressed (I’m trying not to think that he was impressed because he expected much less…). Also, and I think I mentioned this before, since it was a bit fast it took me stepping out of my comfort zone. While stepping out of my comfort zone scares me quite a bit, the anticipation of it, afterwards I do I feel… not just relieved, and not just somewhat incredulous, but like I’ve grown as a person (and not just as a dancer, but that too).

And, amidst the constant correction to stop tilting my pelvis (also known as sticking out my derriere), I finally asked the question I’d been dreading to ask – more like dreading to hear the answer I feared I already knew: In order to keep it from happening through muscle memory, does it mean I have to stand with my pelvis untilted even when I’m not in class or trying to stand in a balletic manner? G Teacher answered ‘yes’. Ok, so officially no more excuses – if I want to be able to access all of my turnout and maintain my stability while balancing and turning, no more tilting of the pelvis, even outside of class. Ugh, despite the fact that an untilted pelvis makes my butt look horrible and my tummy pooch (yes, even if I hold my core as tight as I can – I have stubborn flab and loose skin left over), I will have to sacrifice whatever vanity I have left for the sake of ballet. Seems like a fair trade…I guess… I hope…?

Editted to add: Can’t believe I forgot to mention this other thing, also falling under the category of confidence – going in the front row. I think during this session was the first time that I was completely ok with going up to the front row for center work without hesitating. Previously, it had been that I could do it, if the teacher told me to, but out of my own, no way. But something appears to have changed, because now I’m ok with it. I think part of it has to do with how my own classmates seemed to accept that I’m kind of an intermediate-beginner, so that helped to reinforce it to me that even though I’m the same person who couldn’t even balance on one leg long enough to lift the other foot of the floor for a milisecond, that has changed. Which sounds really bad, because I think it sounds like I’m saying that I can only define myself by how others see me? Which is not what I’m trying to say necessarily – I define myself, in my own company (which I love); in the company of others, especially others who I find intimidating, I tend to freeze up, and so their defining of me becomes the only one… perhaps that’s closer to it. I realize it might not make much sense to anyone reading, but these are some of my struggles, and not just in dance, but in life. But it does seem that through dance I’m tackling my issues, so that helps.  Anyway, I’m hoping some of this new confidence will stick around for a bit.

I’m sure there was more, but that’s all I can think of for now. Next up, my thoughts on my yoga summer session.

Summer Fun And Ballet

This post is somewhat  and undetailed, but having spent the weekend having some summertime fun – picnic-ing and swimming at the lake – I am tired.

Second week of my summertime ballet session! The week was fun – the level of the class is something like Beginner 2, more challenging than basic beginner level but definitely not intermediate (both regular Intermediate class, and that Beginner-Intermediate class session from last summer). Well, actually it’s a little difficult to narrow it down to which level it is. At barre we’re using port de bras for some exercises, some of us are working on releve a bit more, and in center we’re using the body facings instead of just facing front for tendus. At the same time, we haven’t worked on any turns and have hardly jumped. I’m hoping this coming week we will do more of that, since I don’t want to feel out of practice. I actually started freaking out the other day at home, thinking about how I hadn’t done any jumping at all in about a week, and I haven’t had time to go for a run or even a walk, so what if I lose all my stamina. My fears turned out to be groundless (I had a home practice session with plenty of jumps and I was fine), but still, I got myself all worked  up. Since it took me so long to build up the strength to jump through a whole saute combination without ending up with flexed feet, I’m pretty worried of losing it again.

About the tendus with facings that I mentioned, I was so glad that during my weeks of completely from class I did the Kathryn Morgan Easy Ballet Center, because it was very similar to it – tendus croisse devant, en face, efface (we did ecarte as well), and reversing it, all with port de bras. I felt super on the spot, especially after one of my classmates made it clear she was going to follow me, but it went pretty well even the reversing. I think the facing I’m least familiar with is efface, but I’m starting to become as comfortable with it as I am with the rest. This body facings thing was something else that took years for me to understand, but to be fair not all of my teachers have taught the body facings to the Beginner class.

Class at NS was also fun. There was not one, but two(!) couples taking class together, a fact that I immediately mentioned to Boyfriend when I got home, as a hint somewhat. He’s still not going for it.

Barre went slow and detailed, with lots of work on our plies and tendus. Then for center NS Teacher had the more beginner students work on passe releves and pique passe along the barre while some of us did a turning combination. It was pique turn x2, stepover/lame duck pique, pique turn x2, pirouette en dehors from fourth, repeat. It was pretty tricky – basically, from the second pique turn, momentum takes you all the way to a fourth position preparation for the pirouette. That part scared me a little. I wasn’t really trusting myself and making it a fluid motion, so I’m sure I looked far from graceful. But a couple of my pirouettes were ok, in the sense that I made it all the way around, but not great. I had a few definitely bad ones in there as well… As for the pique turns, they were ok, but by the end I noticed I was getting a little tired. I feel like that’s because I haven’t been working on single leg releve lately, so I’ve gotten weaker. Or perhaps I was just tired, since it was my second class of the day.

We also did the temps leve combination (saute passe, saute arabesque) which is always fun for me. We started from B+ with the saute passe instead of saute arabesque (which I’m more familiar with), which makes it seem like it’s more difficult. Once we start it becomes just muscle memory, but the start just feels like it would throw me off, as I watch the first group go. But I’ve noticed more advanced dancers do this thing where they kind of plie and spring off their supporting leg when they start a combination from B+, and  think maybe this could help get me in the habit of that?

I’m still doing my yoga session (4 days a week, 1.5 hour per day), and the results have been interesting. Throughout the first week I was thinking ‘yeah, this is ok, but I feel much more of a workout with pilates’. But then in the middle of this past week, something changed – while doing/attempting to do one of the poses, I realized that my shoulders could open up even more than I previously thought possible. In pilates it’s always like ‘engage your lats!’ or ‘relax the shoulders!’ (which seems a counterproductive cue for me, since my shoulders feel relaxed in  their slightly forward incorrect posture, and to bring them back and down I actually feel like I’m contracting a muscle, not relaxing it), but in yoga the instructor said to ‘open up our side chest’ and ‘lift the shoulders up and back’, which somehow did the trick. It’s like I discovered even more muscles that I didn’t know I had and it felt awesome! So I’m defintely becoming a bigger fan of yoga. Don’t see myself stopping pilates though.

My body imbalances from left to right have also become apparent to me while doing yoga. There’s poses that I find it much easier to do one one side than the other. There’s also poses that I can’t really do all the way (I feel like I should clarify that this class, just like my ballet classes, are based on a session system and get increasingly more difficult or challenging as the session goes on. Since we’re barely at the end of the second week, we’re not doing anything crazy challenging, or even headstands, yet), including one where you stand, cross one leg over the other, bend your supporting leg, and try to wrap the foot of your working leg around your supporting calf – sort of the anti-coupe (or at least that’s how I think of it, and it’s the final wrapping the foot around part that I can’t do).

We are going to get to handstands and headstands by the end of the session, and honestly I feel a little worried about that. The instructor really emphasizes safety, but still, when it’s something that’s completely new to me I hesitate to just trust my body. And for me, there’s something about being upside down – as a kid I was obsessed with it. but I could never do it,so I have this, like, mindset about it. This can be so hard to overcome sometimes, the idea that I’m doing  the same action so why would I expect a different result. But then, this past weekend at the park I was doing cartwheels wth Boyfriends nephews and nieces, having a great time, and I barely learned how to do a cartwheel a year and a half ago for the first time ever. I turned 33 this past week, and I’m so happy that at least I’m getting to experience at my age now what I never got to as a child.

And that paragraph just went on the biggest tangent ever.

 

Week 6: Short But Sweet

Short week, only 2 days of class. It was a great couple of days!

We had a nicely challenging barre, lots of work on releve and  pretty quick combinations.

The plies combination included 2 grand plies with port de bras, which are really fun to do.  The hardest part of the plies combination is remembering the little changes from one day to the next that F Teacher gives us. For example, one day we may start in second, then go to first, then fourth then fifth. A different day we’ll start in first, then go a la second, fourth with working leg in front, fourth with working leg behind, then fifth.  Sometimes we only cambre forward, sometimes forward and back, or to the barre only and not away from the barre.  I like it because it keeps me from just going into autopilot, keeps me on my toes you might say, lol.

Four count port de bras with four degages en croix easier than eight count, I found out.  When we do it with eight counts I tend to either rush the arm or do it in little bursts as opposed to a smooth fluid movement.  I will definitely be working on this at home during my upcoming free time. As for the rond de jambes with 1 slow port de bras, we went a little slower and I actually did my rond de jambes to the correct side. I also noticed that when doing them en dehors the arm also moves en dehors, and when we do them en dedans and the arm is reversed the arm goes en dedans. This is probably a “Duh!” movement, but I feeli like it made so much more sense once I realized that.

I also really enjoy all the temps lie combinations we do. We’ll temps lie forward (sometimes closing the back leg, other times not), then back, then a la seconde, then reverse. But first we’ll do it at a nice slow tempo and it feels so pretty, then at a faster tempo (this is harder).  Then we’ll do the same thing but instead of with tendus it’ll be with degages. This means that when we go a la seconde it’s a quick weight shift to balancing on one foot.  But you know what, I’ve actually gotten way better at this than I thought was possible.

After doing the combinations the whole way through both sides on flat, we had the option of releve for fondues and passe releve and developpe combinations.  For fondues it was just fondues en croix with arms, and the releve part was no big deal. The developpe combination on releve was a little more challenging.  We would do a developpe with arms on releve, then stay on releve for 2 grand battements, en croix.  While I have done a grand battement that goes up to releve before, I’d never tried to do them while already on releve.  I was a little nervous, but I’d already decided that I was going to try the more advanced combinations, so I went for it. It was a different feeling, though not as hard as I had thought it would be.  When we did the combination on flat, F Teacher had been telling us about how when you grand battement you’re supposed to have a feeling of pushing the floor with your working foot, that way the correct muscles are used to get the leg up. Well, it’s definitely harder to get the feeling of pushing the floor when you’re already on releve and the foot loses contact with the ground a lot sooner! It was a really fun combination though.

I do a bad job of remembering exactly which ones did what, but all of our combinations ended in a releve balance.  After 8-8-4-4-2-2-1-1-1-1, or whatever more difficult variant of it, it’s usually a balance in releve in first.  Then we go on to balancing in sous-sus, then coupe releve and finally passe releve.  I’m still working on letting go of the barre for short periods of time on the one-legged balances, and I almost got my second arm in middle fifth once or twice.  Ok, to be honest, the closest I came to death-gripping the barre – though not as bad as me trying to do tendus in my second week of class ever – was towards the end of that grand battements on releve combination.  It wasn’t just the releve aspect of it, but the speed as well.  That’s my excuse…

Center was fun.  We didn’t do any adagio this week (boo!), but we did work on the combination we’ve been doing throughout the term in different tempos.  The faster it gets the sloppier, but I’ve been able to more or less keep up.  I really liked how we went right from the right side to the left without stopping.  The combination had a pirouette en dehors from fourth and I actually got around enough to get the correct foot in back.  I definitely prefer my pirouettes from fourth than from fifth.

We also worked once again on the 1/4 turns, 1/2 turns, passe releve balance, and full pirouette, all from fifth. Yeah, my pirouettes from fifth still need work…

Across the floor we did 4 soutenus, 4 pique turns, and 4 chaines.  Of all of these turns, the newest  to me are soutenus – prior to these last few weeks I’d only done soutenus at the barre to change sides.  I feel like my soutenus across the floor are somewhat hesitant and slow, but when we do the piques i feel like I’m flying. I really enjoy pique turns! Something I need to work on though is facing the correct angle when I do my chasse to first arabeque finish.

We also went across the floor with the waltz step that turns, then 2 balances, and some soutenus.  If this combination was slower I feel like I would find it so pretty, but as it is I struggle to waltz quick enough. The pianist played the Sleeping Beauty waltz though, so it was quite pretty.  I also noticed that the reason I waltz so slowly is because I turn too early in the sequence of steps. Another thing I’ll be working on…

Sautes are rough, still.  I think the hardest part for me is to jump quickly with not compromising technique.  I so would rather just jump higher and slower, but the quick little jumps ar a mystery to me.  I’ve improved so much though, so I’m just going to practice more, and when I least expect it I might find myself doing it right. I hope.  While glissade-jete is making more sense, I haven’t yet figured out how the arms for it go. Last, but not least, F Teacher had us working on royales. It beats to the front and then changes once.  Seems more manageable than entrechat for sure. It’s funny how I can do all these beated jumps on the Reformer, but upright I just get scared of gravity. Perhaps I should try on a trampoline and cheat a little bit…

Class ended with an exceptionally long and lovely reverance.  I seriously love reverance, it’s one of my favorite parts of class (along with pretty much all of barre, and most of center. Except sautes, and petite allegro…). Oh, but I don’t like the fact that it means that class is over, that’s for sure.

End Of Week 5: Some Improvement And A Whole Lot Of Sloppyness

This week I feel like I caught little glimpses of improvement in between all the stuff I keep messing up on.  It was nice to have little reminders of progress. I had fun during classes, though honestly I am feeling a tiny bit burned out at attending class, specially the same level, that often. I really miss taking a beginner class and getting to work on technique obsessively. But there’s only one more week and I know I’m going to miss going to class, and there will be a month or so until the next semester starts. Speaking of which, it looks like due to scheduling conflicts I won’t be able to take a beginner class, just intermediate, at least through my regular school. I really miss beginner class… though I do love the more complex stuff we work on in this class.

At barre, while I have the general idea of how our new barre combinations go, I still haven’t got any of them down yet. As in, I mess up each one, except perhaps plies and the slowest tendus. Plies have been really fun actually. Specially with the new pretty port de bras we’ve been doing. The faster combinations are not always  a disaster, but  things like closing fifth instead of first, or bringing the arm in through middle fifth instead of going from high fifth right to a la seconde.

But then, we’ve been doing stuff to work on arm-leg coordination and that’s hard! Stuff like taking 8 counts to bring the arm up to high fifth while doing 8 degages devant,and then en croix, taking 8 counts per side to do the arm. Devants ok, but when we do a la seconde we’re supposed to switch (we’re doing them from 5th, not 1st) and that makes it so much more challenging. Reversing it is a mess…

It’s a similar thing with doing the 4 rond de jambes while doing only 1 port de bras. Sometimes I get so confused that I do my rond de jambes to the wrong side.  I get confused because we start the rond de jambes from a tendu a la seconde not first or fifth. And apparently in a split second my brain can’t decide on which direction to send the leg while also trying to do the slow arm. One day I think I accidentally did both sets of rond de jambes en dehors, except I managed to realize it on the last one.

Center has been pretty fun, though if the tempo during average combination was slower it’d be great. Once I actually feel like I kind of know how the combination goes the faster speed is ok, but I’m only that certain about one or two combinations. When the faster group goes though it’s fun to do the combinations in the back and then get to do the slower version and then it feels so much easier than before.

We did an adagio combination with 4 counts ballet walking starting in B+, then pretty port de bras, grand plie, developpe devant and a la second, 2 pas de bourre (right and left), developpe derriere, close in fifth and pirouette en dehors from fifth. And possibly one more step that I’m forgetting… possibly a promenade? I do remember that there are promenades (with working leg either in coupe or attitude derriere), i think en dehors but I can’t remember for certain, in at least one of the combinations we do. I’ve gotten better at them, and once in a while I might actually get almost all the way around.  My arms were absolutely terrible while doing it though.

When we did the left side of this combination immediately after the right (2 tendus devant croisse, arms switch to efface and ecarte, tendu back into a fondu, change facing to the back, 2 pique turns and a soutenu, a form of pas de bourre that crosses over and then under to the other side, bring the back foot to the front through coupe, 2 glissades and chasse to finish in first arabesque) I actually didn’t get thrown off. Of course I messed it up after the soutenu the first time around to the right. Like, I just blanked out about what move came next. I made myself remember the next few times though. I also get confused by all these different types of pas de bourres!

The petite allegro with glissades and jetes felt much smoother towards the end of the week. Like it’s finally starting to become muscle memory after weeks of trying to do them. But I did feel like I was able to do it a little faster, and not fall behind as much. The combination also had soubresauts towards the front and – unfortunately, lol – assembles. Definitely my least favorite jump in ballet this far…

The ballote and saute arabesque across the floor is still most likely hilarious to look at.  I feel completely ridiculous when doing this, and have decided to record myself next time I practice so I can have a rough idea of how bad it looks. And perhaps, give me ideas of what to fix.

Going across the floor diagonally did not go so well this week. We did across the floor 4 soutenus, 4 pique turns, 4 chaines, and chasse to arabesque to finish. The hardest part for me is being distracted by worrying about crashing into someone or someone crashing into me. And the faster I try to turn the more sloppy my turns get, I think.  But otherwise, it was fun. I like combining different kinds of turns, though sometimes I do get confused. Before that we were just doing soutenus across the floor, and I was accidentally doing pique turns instead. I caught myself after only two or three turns, but it was still pretty awkward, like in a people-had-noticed kind of way.

Also, when the saute arabesque, saute coupe combination became more complicated, now to include switching arms to 2nd arabesque at some point, as well as some counts of ballet running mixed in there… I got totally lost. But just kept moving, hoping for the best. I actually like saute arabesque-saute coupe, I just wasn’t able to remember how this new combination went, at which point we switch, etc.  We had a pretty full class this one day and I felt crowded out, so it was harder to mark it. Yeah, that’s my excuse…

At some point F Teacher mentioned that the combinations we work on in class are somewhere in a level 3 or 4 (out of 6 I think?) from the syllabus she teaches at her other studio where she teaches. So that’s pretty cool, doing work that is somewhere out towards the middle of the spectrum. Of course, I’m not saying that I’m actually doing the work – specially center, but barre as well – at a high level, but I’ve noticed so much improvement in my dancing. Also, I’m not discouraged by center because I was thinking about it the other day, and for the first year almost since I started ballet I never practiced center, only “barre”.  So, it would make sense that I would be better at barre than center. I also know that when I first started practicing center it was so awful compared to what was I was doing at barre, but I’ve gotten so much better. And I feel so graceful just randomly chasseing into first arabesque on impulse at home…

Week 4: In The In-Between Stage

Have you ever had that awkward moment in class when the teacher says something is “for the more advanced students” or “not for the more beginning students” and you have no idea if it applies to you? Like, should you try anyway, even if you think that if you do actually do it, it will be super sloppy? Should you only avoid trying something (instead taking the easier option) only if to try it would be to risk serious injury?

More and more I find myself truly not knowing in what category to place myself.  I mean, there’s been stuff that I feel for sure I could do, like fondus on releve en croix, that I’ve gone ahead and done even though it was the harder option. Or using the arms when doing a tendu combination.  And in center, obviously I’m not going to try the doing a cabriolet mid-combination, or entrechats or royales.

Today in center, F Teacher gave me the choice of which group I wanted to go in, the easier version or the harder.  The harder group went first and while it was all steps I know how to do, it was much too fast and I got lost about halfway through the combination (though I did remember the tip I read a while back on someone’s blog – no idea who, so if it’s yours, let me know so I can give you credit 🙂 – that as long as you get the last step right it looks less horrible. Or something like that. At least I ended with the correct foot in front, I guess.

Then I went with the easier group.  And it was, in fact, much easier. It was nice to not be guessing about the next step – though when we did the left side I did momentarily forget what was next..  It seems to me that a big part of the problem is that I just can’t seem to memorize combinations. Short and basic ones, sure, but anything involving more than 6 steps or so, not. And it sucks. I mean, the harder combination was so fun! There was even a pirouette en dedans from fourth – my favorite kind of pirouette (and the only kind in which I can get all the way around and end with the correct foot in front). I wish I could remember the whole combination, so I could practice it and make it better, but if I remembered it I would have probably been dancing it better.

Anyway, I don’t know if this means the more advanced versions are not for me.  Afterwards, we did a saute arabesque, saute passe, saute arabesque, saute passe, run in a small circle (whatever this is called), saute arabesque, alternate legs after running again to a daute arabesque on the other leg, glissade, 4 brises or assembles (yes, assemble was the “easier” version), pas de chat, other side combination.  It was pretty fun, but as I’ve mentioned in other posts, my assembles are not very assemble-y and my arm transitions from middle fifth to arabesque need work. The more advanced people did cabriolets. I think I’m a long way from doing that…

At barre, we’ve been doing a lot of work from a plie position, like tendu and close in plie, they stay in plie for two more tendues.  We’ve been doing more stuff on releve, as well. The frappes have gotten ridiculously fast, and we’re switching it up, like instead of en croix we do three front, three back, en croix, then four  a la seconde, then reverse.  It’s so hard to not get lost, and thinking about which one is next while also actually doing frappes instead of just swinging your foot at the ground is a huge challenge.

F Teacher also worked with us on the concept of it being a dynamic movement, to try to project energy out through your fingertips when doing arabesque arm, that kind of thing.  Honestly, it’s something that I struggle with. If I had to summarize it in my own words, I would say to do the moves like you mean it , not like you’re just marking the combination or, in my case, like you feel like an impostor in ballet class.  I think I have a fear that I’m taking myself too seriously and that if I really try to do it I will look ridiculous.  But it’s something that I need to work on, I just don’t know where to begin.

Overall, I think the level of combinations in class (so far, there’s still a couple weeks left) is a good fit for me, though I don’t really know where I fit in the whole scheme of things. Beginner or beginning-intermediate/ beginner 2?  And everyone in this class has extensions of at least 90°, which is intimidating, just a bit.  I’ve been stretching my butt off, but the discrepancy between my flexibility in my right leg and left leg seems to increase daily… At least by this point I’m not really feeling like ‘why am i even in this class’, which is a good sign. I’m feeling more like ‘I’m not very good at ballet, but this is still probably the funnest summer I’ve ever had’. And yes, I know that “funnest” is probably not a real word…

I Guess Home Is Where You Hang Your Tights…

Doing dancer-laundry did not feel like a chore, compared to the drudgey of moving...

Doing dancer-laundry did not feel like a chore, compared to the drudgery of moving…

Finally, today I felt like I took the day off, doing no moving-related things at all. Could that be why I felt like I had a good class, despite at times floundering about in center?

We did this cool new thing at barre, which I was not able to catch the name of, but it basically went like this. Do 4 rond de jambes while doing a promenade, turning a quarter turn every rond de jambe. When F Teacher had this girl demonstrate what we were about to do, my jaw dropped, just a little. It looks so intimidating! So when we did the combination, when we did the first side I just took the option of doing 4 regular rond de jambes. But when we did the second side, F Teacher happened to be right near by, and I kinda felt like I had to just do it . So I sort of did, having no idea how I was supposed to do this.  I actually made it around, I can’t believe it!

Center was hard. We did a more contemporary piece and the speed was really getting me. There were a couple slower moments, when we did stuff like passe releve balance, or grand battements on releve that were fun even, but the quick parts were not very good. I loved the music though, but it was hard to really just dance instead of worrying about keeping up. Can’t believe I consider a passe releve balance (from fourth, to then come into releve sous-sus) an easier part of the combination. I guess it just goes to show that a move that was once considered impossible and some point becomes do-able.

Overall, I felt I had a good class. Been going over the new center combination a little, trying to work off my post-class hyperness/adrenaline rush. At a much slower tempo, of course…