Tag Archives: summer session ballet

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…

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Week 4: A Rough Start

Not the best class… I’m going to go ahead and blame it on my body still being exhaused after all the hard physical labor of the past weekend. Still though, it felt so great to take class despite not being at my best.

We did a brand new barre, after doing different variants of the same combination for the last 10 classes or so,  and it did not go so smoothly.  I got confused during a few combinations – there was a lot of shifting weight and using the inside leg, and the frappes were lightning fast! There were a few things I did alright, but by “alright” I mean barely just adequate, not particularly well.

Even 8-8-4-4-2-2-1-1-1-1 was harder than usual – the speed was so fast that I wasn’t focusing on technique, just making sure I was keeping up with the tempo. Like, no time to worry if my foot is pointed (though hopefuly it is).

In center, we started off with a new adagio combination.  Then a waltz combination, which wasn’t necessarily difficult, just much too fast. It was two waltz turns, 2 balances, from then tendu out and into a soutenu turn, stay up in releve and bring the foot up to passe, close back in fifth and developpe a la seconde, close and do 3(!) pirouettes. I feel like if it was about half the speed I would be able to do it right (except for the pirouettes, lol), but for now I was just rushing through the steps, struggling to keep up with the music.

Pique turns and chaines across the floor went ok, or at least better relative the the previous two combinations.  The first time across we went much too fast, and I started to mess up my pique turns, not coming down off releve between them.  The second time the tempo was a little bit slower, and I did well enough for F Teacher to say “Not bad.” I will definitely take it as a compliment. 🙂

In saute arabesque, saute coupe  across the floor, I got a correction on my arms when going through middle fifth to first arabesque – basically to make them more balletish, and less “like I’m splashing some water” (You really had to have been there – the way F Teacher made the motion was hilarious) . I’ve been working on them since I got home, using the glass backyard door as a (huge) mirror.

During sautes I remember consciously telling myself to point my feet, and to stay on timing. I was watching the mirror and saw the difference immediately. After that we did glissades and jetes to the right and left, followed by temps leve on one foot. No assembles today…

Reverance was nice, and slow enough to actually pay attention to the details. I love the slow graceful port de bras, and also, it’s a reminder or my progress. I remember back when I first started I used to fall over during reverance…

Week 3: Exhausted, But Happy

Oh my gosh.

We reached the point in the moving process when I found myself without internet access for 4 days. Four whole days, lol. No youtube ballet video watching, no blogging (reading or writing), no random websurfing – though in fact, I hardly had any spare time at all. Practically the only times I wasn’t doing something moving-related (up until right now) was when I was sleeping, eating, or in class. It was interesting though, being without internet … sort of reminded me of being back in 1999 or so (we didn’t get internet at home growing up until 2000) and it was kind of nice, though I missed all my ballet-related internet stuff.  I did get good use of my Classical Ballet Technique book to get my ballet fix during that occasional rare rest moment…

Anyway, this was week 3 that just ended of my ballet summer session, the halfway point.  F Teacher said she is going to change up our barre combinations next week, and we’re going to start working on speed.  I’m a little nervous – when things speed up I tend to get a little sloppy.  However, since the worst part of this whole moving thing is over I hope to be able to get more practice time in.

She gave us a few glimpses into a faster barre: before 8-8-4-4-2-2-1-1-1-1 facing the barre (which reminds me, I really have to practice at home so I can remind myself that I can do it with no barre, since we don’t do that in class) we did this thing where we would degage out three times really quick, then two slow ones (it was incredibly hard!); super fast beated frappes after the regular speed beated frappes; this soutenu at the barre when we turned en dehors instead of towards the barre as I’m used to.

Since I’ve seen some progress in these last several weeks, especially in my beated frappes, I’m not feeling horrible discouraged – though when I do arms at a faster speed they tend to get ugly. Particularly my arabesque arm…

I’ve also started to let go of the barre for slightly longer periods of time for the passe releve and passe coupe balances, though I’m not yet getting my second arm in middle fifth. F Teacher said that we have to see it in our mind before we do it, sort of will ourselves to do it, I guess. I got to remember to try that…

One day we did this adagio center combination to one of my favorite pieces, Mozart’s piano concerto 21, 2nd movement.  The combination was a bit long, here’s what I remember: ballet walk four steps, then turn and ballet walk 2 steps before ballet run for 2 counts ending up in a sous-sus releve balance. From there, grand plie (you know, without falling over…), straighten up and tendu devant, shift weight to fourth, go into  a deep forward lungue and port de bras cambre forward, then from fourth push up to passe releve, sous-sus, and passe releve again from sous-sus.  The music was so beautiful, but since it was hard to remember what step came next it was not the amazing experience it could have been. I hope we do this combination again though.

We also did promenades during a different center combination (that I can’t remember), with the option of having the foot in coupe, or the leg in attitude derriere.  I find it easier to promenade on my left leg, but promenades are something that definitely needs work. Still, “needs work” is a definite impromeven over “I keep falling over”.

I think I figured out the problem with my assembles: it’s a jump off of one foot!

We did this drill at the barre in which we brush out our back foot while plie-ing our supporting leg, then quickly close front into releve sous-sus. So far it’s not impossible, just takes some mind-leg coordination. Then, instead of closing into sous-sus we jump and close in the air. Why does it suddenly become so hard?!

I think the short answer is that I don’t have enough strength on a single leg yet. But other jumps from one leg, like jetes (not grand jetes, just regular) I don’t feel particularly weak. Saute arabesque and saute coupe, both also off of one leg, feel ok as well, at least the jumping part, though my arm placement can get a lopsided by the end.  Then we did these one leg jumps called lemps leve and those were super hard. I know more leg strenght certainly can’t hurt, but I wonder if there is anything else involved here, like something I’m overlooking.  Well, in the meantime F Teacher said next week we will be doing more one-legged releves at barre, so that’ll help, right?

During the developpe partner leg stretches, when we developpe and our partner pushes our leg up higher and higher and then we try to keep it there and lower it down controlledly, I was again complimented on ym leg strength for keeping the leg up there. But why can’t that leg stength translate over to strength for jumps?! It’s either different muscles, or different methods of training the muscles, but which, I don’t know yet…

We also did floor barre one day.  I’ve done floor barre at home before, following a youtube routine, last year when I sprained my ankle and couldn’t do any weight-bearing ballet.  It’s a lot more intense when you’re in class that by yourself for sure. Though I walked out of class totally ok, if anything less tired since we’d done shorted center, the next morning I was so sore! It was really fun though, and I think we’re going to do it again at some point.

Floor barre started with us working on turning in and out, pointing our feet and engaging our turnout muscles. From there we went on to tendus and plies while being on the floor, using the floor to guide us into maintaining proper alignment. We also did cambre, coming up off the floor while bringing our arms up into high fifth. When we we up from the floor all the way to a sitting position with arms in high fifth and the slowly back down I was soooo glad that I’ve been doing Pilates. There was no way my abs would have been capable of doing that previously. Anyway, floor barre is a great conditioning exercise for ballet, though it didn’t feel like doing ballet. F Teacher said we will have an accompanist during the next time we do it, so I am curious if it will feel more balletish then. If so, I’m sure it will be an amazing experience. If not, still a great workout, like a cross between ballet and Pilates.

Balletwise, it was a good week 🙂

Now, off to continue getting myself reacquainted with the internet. And sleep, of course…