Ballet Squid Chronicles: Attack of the Pros!

Tonight I took Tawnee’s beginner class for the first time.

Her teaching approach is closer to Margie’s — slower-paced, with a lot of focus on precision and clean technique (and occasional hands-on assistance — at one point, she grabbed my leg mid-extension, turned it out a bit further and simply lifted it painlessly into a much higher extension: she then said something like, “There’s your turnout,” to which I mentally replied, “Wow?” — because, seriously, I had no idea that A) I could get my leg that high in an extension à la seconde and B) it wouldn’t hurt at all*).

Bizarrely, I was the most advanced regular student in class for once … though I did not acquit myself accordingly once we left the barre (I promptly forgot how to count and how to remember combinations, and I probably made faces as well).

Then the Pros showed up.

Brienne (my teacher! In class with me! OMG!) and a fellow who I’m fairly certain is at very least quite an advanced student came to do class as well (he said off-hand as he entered, “I was going to do company class but…” and I missed the rest).

So our little band of four became a band of six, and I found myself alternately standing behind, then in front of, a really well put-together guy whose technique was pretty solid. (Also, his arms were beautiful. Just sayin’.)

So. Um. Apparently, I can be intimidated**.

Obviously, it wasn’t too scary standing behind him (if anything, it was edifying). What was intimidating was standing in front of him.

If you dance, you know these feels.

If you dance, you know these feels.

Needless to say, I suddenly found myself very, very focused on remembering the combinations and executing them with the best technique I could manage.

Which, of course, led to thinking. Which occasionally led to screwing up, because thinking + dancing = bad dancing. Sort of. Sometimes.

Also, I apparently respond to intimidation by forgetting to pull up my knees, then pulling them up like my life depends on it. This was an informative insight, as the mid-section jelly phenomenon I’ve previously described seems to pretty much stem from loose knees (who knew? — loose lips knees sink ships dancers!). Once the knees pull up, everything else is like, “Oh, better get in line.”

Else, jelly.

I guess this shouldn’t be some kind of ground-breaking discovery, but there you have it. Each of us comes to understand the whys of ballet in his or her own time.

Anyway, while I executed one totally lovely pas de chat (if I do say so myself — and I do), I was largely of useless at centre (I kept losing track of my legs, and my arms, and the combos, and probably everything else).

I think I might actually have overdone it with the caffeine, which might have contributed to flighty-brain syndrome.

Perhaps I should cut back***?

Surprisingly, the roughly 20 fast miles on the bike didn’t really seem to phase me. So there’s that.

Anyway, even though I feel like I was a mess during enormous swathes of this class, I actually don’t think it was that horrible. Compared to the first few classes when I was just starting back, I’ve come a long way in a short time.

So that’s it for tonight. No stunning insights other than, “Oh, if I tighten my knees, things work better,” which I think I’ve covered before.

Pull these muscles up.  Then pull them up some more.  Then a little more.  Then unlock your knees, and you're good to go.

Pull these muscles up. Then pull them up some more. Then a little more. Then unlock your knees, and you’re good to go.

^^^Remember this one?

So, um, sunny side up, leather side down; head in the air, wheels on the ground (yeah, I know it’s “feminine rhyme,” but whaddaya want?).

More to come.

*Actually, I should have known this — I think it was one of the times that either Margie or Jessica taught the Saturday beginner/intermediate class that we did basically the same thing while stretching — manually turned our legs out a bit further and discovered that, ohai, we could tuck them behind our ears while standing. At least, I could.
**Also, blubbery. I am way leaner than I was a couple years ago — lean enough to look pretty good on the bike these days — but seriously, ballet kit hides nothing. And ballet is one of the areas where Other People Can Be Fat And Look Fine But I Can’t because of my stupid brain and its stupid double standards.
***Yes, I should cut back. Caffeine and bipolar go together like horseshoes and hand-grenades, as we like to say around here.

About asher

Me in a nutshell: Standard uptight ballet boy. Trapeze junkie. Half-baked choreographer. Budding researcher. Transit cyclist. Terrible homemaker. Neuro-atypical. Fabulous. Married to a very patient man. Bachelor of Science in Psychology (2015). Proto-foodie, but lazy about it. Cat owner ... or, should I say, cat own-ee? ... dog lover. Equestrian.

Posted on 2014/08/06, in balllet, class notes and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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