Ballet Squid Chronicles: Analyzing Last Night’s Class
I’ve been being lazy all morning and trying to finish Felice Picano’s Like People In History (and playing with AT&T uVerse’s Interactive Workout feature — we finally got uVerse in our neighborhood, so Denis made the jump), so I feel that I can take a few more minutes (or, you know, an hour and a half…) to avoid my homework and talk about ballet instead.
This morning, while waiting for my breakfast/lunch to finish
microwaving cooking, I tried to run through some of the combinations from last night’s class, and I think I figured out part of the problem.
Besides the usual problem of putting changes of feet in places where they don’t belong (G-d bless Tawnee for noting that; because I don’t always realize I’m doing it until the next morning, and I was able to fix it a few times), I realized I made one enormous mistake: I kept sissoneing the wrong way.
So: when the combination went sissone devant, I kept going sissone derriere. The problem was in the translation: Tawnee initially gave us the counts in Ballet Frenglish, so it was “sissone front, sissone back,” etc., which is totally valid, but somehow my brain decided that “sissone front” meant that the, um, kicky leg* goes forward.
Even though I freaking well know better.
In case you’re wondering, “sissone front” doesn’t mean your kicky leg goes forward. It just doesn’t, y’all. When you sissone devant, you sissone to the front. This means that your back leg is the one that makes a pretty, pointy reachy gesture — and it does so to the freaking rear. Your front leg, meanwhile, kind of points downish, like this:
So every time everyone else sproinged** forward, I sproinged backward, and vice-versa (amazingly, nobody crashed, probably because Brienne, who was taking class with us, was behind me and is a genius). And somehow failed to understand why I was doing this. And, of course, having done it once or twice, I fell into Stupid Zombie Robot mode and did it a bunch of times. Seriously, there are times that I totally know I’m Doin’ It Rong, but somehow can’t stop myself***. Does this happen to other people?
And now I totally get it: my brain was still in barre mode! So when Tawnee said “front,” my brain interpreted it as it would “tendu front” or “close front” — front leg reaches — and so on and so forth.
I am actually rather pleased with this revelation, because I think it probably explains a lot of the bizarre things I do from time to time in ballet class. I definitely have a bit of language-action disconnect in general, and I hadn’t really thought about how it applies to ballet.
So, anyway. That’s something I’ll have to think about and work on.
*In sissones, the kicky leg — that’s the technical term, I am sure — is Very Important.
**Also totally a technical term.
***My first memorable experience of being stuck in Auto-Rong mode? I was maybe nine or ten and was riding Marquis, the horse that I leased, in the ring at my barn. I had just dismounted, and some loud noise happened. Marquis panicked and bolted, and even though I knew that chasing a horse was a completely stupid idea, my body automagically gave chase while my brain went, “NONONONONONO! Don’t chase him, stupid!” I literally could not stop myself from chasing Marquis. Nor could I explain the concept when my riding teacher (very reasonably) chewed me out about it; in fact, I didn’t even try.