On Ballet! — Monday Class Notes
First, On Unhelpful Thoughts
If you do ballet, you already know that ballet class affords very little time for indulgent mental wanking. Especially when you’re new, or “re-new,” as I currently am. However, because our minds are capricious, every now and then an unhelpful thought finds its way in.
Like, for example the following:
- Is my butt really shaped like that?
This is the unhelpful thought that I had last night. It actually wasn’t judgmental or anything … just. You know, like, WTF? Because my butt was all, like, pointy and triangular in profile in the mirror while we were doing something facing the barre (I can’t even remember what, now!). I didn’t know butts could even be pointy and triangular, but there you go.
I don’t remember any other random, unhelpful thoughts from last night, so there probably weren’t any. But that one was amusing enough to last a good long while.
And Now, the Round-Up
- Our teacher! She is awesome and does not hesitate to provide extremely useful corrections. It helps that she puts them in terms that work really well for me.
- Sautés: I felt pretty good about these last night. Good enough to take the point position once when we were doing passes across the floor in two groups of three and to focus on remaining synchronized with the girl who was in the point position when I was in back. Now, if I could just stop being surprised when I come to the end of the diagonal … oddly enough, it’s the same length every time ._.
- Grand battement: Felt pretty good about this, too, particularly à la seconde. I seem to have regained the feel for it, so I focused on working from the hip and keeping the rest of me still, like it’s supposed to be.
- Surprisingly enough, sous-sus. It’s weird when your body suddenly says, “Oh, you mean we’re doing that! Why didn’t you say so? We haven’t done that in ages!” and you find you are really kind of together after all.
Arms! Why won’t you do what I tell you to do? (Admittedly, they’re getting better at this.) Why do you insist on coming decoupled from the rest of my body and doing crazy stuff sometimes?
I blame cycling for this. My arms are now exacting vengeance after years of being mostly ignored. After class, Denis said, “Sometimes your arms aren’t doing what everyone else’s arms are doing.” At least they were cooperative about the arabesques and the sautés.
- Counting. Still. I am still not great at counting, and I really seem to lose it during degagés every single time. At least now I have figured out that if I get off the count somehow, I should not so much try to catch up by doing degagé-on-crack. Rather, I should treat it the way I would treat a missed beat on stage. Interestingly, I came to this realization while practicing the organ.
- Relevé retiré — for some reason this just wasn’t happening last night. I think I was over-correcting and pulling my weight out of alignment to the back while trying to look, you know, all upright and princely. Note to self: Princes do not fall over backwards.
Clearly, more core work is in order.
- Staying connected. I am still doing too much of executing one thing, then executing another thing without really making any connection between them. This is my great weakness in all life’s activities (except singing), so should I be at all surprised that I do it in ballet class? No. Our teacher called me out on this at least twice during class.
- And, of course, freaking chaînés. I keep over-rotating. I think I need to mark the crap out of these, walk through them slowly, and then try again*.
In class, though, I tend to go for the, “WHEE! SPINNING IS FUNNNN!!!!!” approach, which is dumb.
I asked Denis last night what he’d like to see in a beginning ballet blog, and he asked for explanations of basic positions and stuff with links to videos, so I think I might put together a wee series of that sort of thing.
That’s it for now. I must go forth and clean, then try to learn not to fall over whilst executing chaines.
Notes on the Notes
*Unfortunately, we do not yet have a surface at home on which one can practice more than two chaines at a time, because I cannot do chaines small enough to fit more than two in our tiny kitchen, any everything else either has carpet or huge area rugs. We are in the process of planning a studio for the basement, and — come to think of it, there’s always the storage room and my backup slippers.