Ballet Lessons: Get Out Of Your Own Way
Little by little, piece by piece, Ms. B of Hard Mode Ballet Class is making a dancer out of me.
Not just a guy who knows how to execute a bunch of ballet steps, but a dancer — someone who executes a bunch of ballet steps with élan; who uses his head and his eyes and his port de bras; who relates to the music intelligently and expressively; who doesn’t grip with his neck, for frack’s sake.
In order to do that, one must learn one’s own body in depth: how to feel the minute muscles in the hip socket; how to knit the ribs together without collapsing; how to open the collarbones without throwing the shoulders back behind the hips.
One must also learn how to get out of one’s own way.
There’s a magical thing that happens when you learn how to get out of your own way: suddenly, things get easier.
In order to execute a high, smooth grand rond-de-jambe, you must know where to place your pelvis so you don’t block either your extension or your turnout. The first time you find that balance (perhaps after having had it and then lost it), it’s like magic.
Curiously, some dancers naturally find it early in their training only to lose it again as they begin to work more consciously on turnout, placement, and extension.
That’s pretty much what happened to me: I started really thinking about pelvic placement about a year ago — and at first I over-corrected, as is my wont. As I began to work into more advanced classes and to work towards higher extensions, I found myself inexplicably blocked at times: and then Ms. B got around to sorting my pelvis, and it turned out that I was basically getting in my own way.
Once I let my pelvis find its own neutral spot and stopped thinking so hard — once I got out of my own way — my extensions got better, my turnout got better, and I could start really thinking about other stuff.
Ironically, the whole source of the problem with extensions and turnout resulted from a conscious effort to place my pelvis so I could … like … better access turnout and alignment.
I think this makes a good allegory.
Often, in life, we get so concerned about being correct that, in fact, we over-correct. We try really hard to do things just right, and we find ourselves stumbling into unexpected road-blocks; tangled in the intricacies of the details.
In short, we get in our own way.
Sometimes, the best answer is to stop thinking, stop concentrating so hard on being correct, and get out of our own way. (This is, I am almost certain, a corollary to the rule, “Don’t make it happen — let it happen.”)
So there you have it. If you’re having difficulty in your dancing or in your life, maybe try loosening the reins and getting out of your own way. It might just help!
So that’s my Ballet Lesson for today.
In other news, I apologize for my recent absence. I’ve had a sinus infection, and the first really noticeable symptom (besides, randomly, pain in my teeth) was a wicked fatigue that seemed to come from nowhere. I haven’t been posting because, in short, I’ve had nothing to post. I’ve basically been asleep, for the most part, for the past week.
I did do part of class (and part of juggling class) on Saturday, but I was actually too tired to write about it afterwards, which pretty much tells you everything you need to know. If I’m too tired to write, I’m probably too darn tired to do just about anything.
Posted on 2016/02/24, in ballet lessons, balllet, class notes, health and tagged Ballet Lessons, don't make it happen - let it happen, get out of your own way, pelvic alignment. Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.
Before I got to your “this could be an allegory,” I was thinking along the same lines. Same with most of your posts–it’s that they’re so … um, en pointe! So centered in the ‘minute particulars’ that they resonate all different directions.
Could have written a parallel to this for painting.
OMG, I kind of love you right now (puns ftw!) — also, thanks! Edit: especially since there’s always a part of me that thinks, “Come in, Danseur Ignoble, what business do you have offering life lessons in your silly little dance blog?!” It’s good to know that I don’t come across as un chapeau des fesses! ”
The arts seem to have a way of being annoyingly allegorical all the time. All these pushy Muses with their “We know what’s best for humanity” and their “I think you could learn a life lesson, here!”
(Just kidding, Muses, you’re awesome, keep doing your thing!)
This made me think of you. https://jacobrussellsmagicnames.com/2016/02/24/no-beauty-not-won-through-pain/
I added a couple of paragraphs to that post on my blog–on how your write about dance. I thought you might enjoy them.
Thanks! …Checking it out now 😀
Yep. One of my favorite mantras for unnecessarily-extreme-try-hards (me) is “No bonus points for effort” (i.e. harder does not necessarily mean better)
I’ll have to remember that one! I sometimes (okay … often) suffer from Unnecessarily Extreme Try-Hard Syndrome as well, and (predictably) it sometimes backfires 🙂
Hey, I had the unnecessarily-extreme-try-hards-syndrome the last weeks, too. By the way, we need a fancy buzzword for this.
Pressing myself to consistent double pirouettes leeds to wobbly single ones…
So true! So, so true. Great post.
Too true! Thanks for a great post!