Danseur Ignoble: A Bad Dream And A Good Class
This morning, after staying up way too late yet again because apparently I’m too dumb to realize that starting to read a new novel at 11:00 PM is a terrible idea, I had a terrible dream.
I was in Brienne’s class. We were at the barre, doing one of her wicked fondue-and-developpe combinations. Every time I would try to developpe, I would either fail to get my leg (which weighed a million pounds) above about 60 degrees or, even worse, I would, but would instantly fall over backwards!
Fortunately, things went better in actual class. I felt more together today. I’m starting to get a little speed back at the barre — it hadn’t occurred to me that some of my Petit
Largo Allegro problem is a returning-to-training-post-injury thing (more on that below).
Tendus and degages went well, even with lots of weight transfers (ye gods how weight transfers vexed me when I first started dancing again; now, it’s basically just like, “Oh, no biggie, inside leg taimz…”); rond-de-jambes (with attendant merciless fondu) went much better than last week. Not back up to my usual standard yet, but they’re getting there.
Our grand battement combination was far less sadistic this week and involved frappes, of which I shall be doing many in coming days (again, see below). For some reason, my brain held on to that particular combination like a seive ._. I got most of it, but for some reason couldn’t seem to remember that there was a little frappe-en-crois in the middle.
Apparently, my body has finally gotten the memo that, yes, I am going to make it do this stuff every Wednesday (and soon on Monday and Friday as well — we’ll see how the leg fares; I might do Tawnee’s class this Friday). My core was not awesome, but it was not non-existent, either. I’m working on it.
I also remembered (though not always at the right moment) how to developpe correctly. No more construction-crane technique: it turns out that the method I sussed out some while back while mucking about in the fridge (because, yes, I am that ballet student who is like BALLET ALL THE THINGS!) is exactly what Brienne describes.
In short, engage the core (imagine it, if it helps, pulling your body towards the working leg) and the muscles beneath the calf and buttocks; that way you’re not trying to haul forty pounds (or more*) of leg up by your quads and hip flexors alone.
Bizarrely enough, all of this adagio stuff went rather brilliantly at center. Brienne called us on the carpet about it: she was like, “I just saw you guys do all this stuff right, so now you’re going to do it right out here, and you’re going to be all pretty and musical.” (Okay, those weren’t her exact words.)
When we weren’t as pretty and musical as we could have been the first time we ran through our adagio combination, she gave us this hilarious demonstration of what not to do (seriously, it looked like she was trying to use semaphore to land two planes at the same time — one with her arms, one with her legs) and made us do it again. We did, and — lo and behold! — it was actually very nice.
My turns were also pretty stellar today until I got tired and kind of started to fall apart. Some while ago, I realized that when I don’t prepare well, I over-do it with the spring, and my supporting foot tries to leave the ground, and that is exactly what started happening when I got really tired.
It took me longer to reach that point, though, which is a very good sign (and at least in part the result of a more organized start this morning, which meant I didn’t completely cook my legs riding to the bus stop).
Petit allegro was … um … well … less bad. I was hitting more of the jumps, but still slow. More like Petit Largo, though maybe I’ve moved up a few beats-per-minute this week.
After class, I asked Brienne about what I should focus on to get speed back. Her answer? Do tons of tendus, degages, and frappes**.
Which, ultimately, is ballet in a nutshell, if you throw some plies in there. Which you should, or you will be very, very sore later.
So that’s what I’ll be working on for the time being: zillions of tendus, degages, and frappes every day to get my speed back.
That said, I’m done for today. I put in a bunch of miles on the bike (being mindful about spinning light gears and stretching adductors and rotators and stuff when I got home), and my thighs just can’t even right now.
The next thing I buy myself is going to be a foam roller, you guys. Seriously.