Mid-Year Progress Report, 2017

You guys, WTF?!!!



This blog has now reached a point at which I can recycle images at will for almost any topic.

Anyway, as you know, ballet goals: I haz them.


Some of my ballet goals, affixed to my copy of Tarasov’s (ahem) *man*ual pour les danseurs (Get it? *MAN*ual? Whomp, whomp, whooommmmmp… :V).

Anyway.  (Yup, it’s about to get long in here, so have a cutscene thingy.)

Let’s have a look at the list-o-goals, sans all the notes that make the list even longer than it already is.

Here’s a handy-dandy guide to how I’m annotating them:

Those in underlined italics have been soundly achieved (insofar as one ever “achieves” a ballet goal, anyway).

Those in underlined plain text have seen really good progress, though they’re still works-in-progress for the purposes of this list-o-goals.

Those in blue font have been retconned in because I didn’t set them as goals, but I’ve accomplished them anyway.

Those in orange font haven’t been started yet, either because opportunity has yet to arise or because I’m in no great hurry.

Those that have been crossed off definitely aren’t happening this year.

HINT: not many have been crossed off.

2017 Ballet Goals

The Biggie

  • Improve Petit Allegro: speed as well as precision


  • Mam-Luft & Co, June
  • Lexington Ballet, July
  • Pilobolus, July
  • Sun King, if I somehow win the lottery :/
  • There might be another one
  • Louisville Ballet’s Masterclass Series: Ben Wetzel, Leigh Ann Albrechta, possibly Philip Velinov

Steps & Stuff

  • Double tours: I have, at any rate, done one out of sheer terror, which means I can do them.
  • Double cabrioles avant and arrière. Like double-tours, I should be able to do these, since I can do them with a hand on the barre (or on a shopping cart).
  • Perfect tombé-coupé-jeté
    • That’s “perfect” the verb, not the adjective. I realized after making this list that I really meant “get this sound enough to use it in combinations.” It’s there (as long as I never, ever try to think about it whilst I’m doing it).
  • Reliable triple turns
  • Unreliable quarduples
    • I now reliably have quads on good turning days. Sometimes they’re even decent ones.
  • Reliable turns à la seconde
  • Reliable arabesque turns
  • Reliable turns in attitude
  • Entrechats six et plus
  • Reliable Brisé et Brisé volé
  • Relevé Balances—here’s the breakdown as it stands: Attitude devant, attitude derriere, all the arabesques, passé/retiré, coupé. I’m not itemizing balances on flat, as I can do those all day.
  • Temp de Puisse Cuisse
  • Review Sissones
  • Pwn the Penché—yeah, there’s still room for improvement, but holy snap, my penché is a different animal these days.

Barre Problems I Need To Solve

  • The infuriating problem of being good at circular/grand port de bras without the barre and less good with.
  • Resolve turns-at-the-kneewhacker-barre phobia.
  • Get better at managing when the barre is too low, because it almost always is, even though I’m only 5’8″.

Specifically for BW:

  • Directional stuff (croisé, effacé, etc)
  • Strengthen them turnouts
    • I don’t think one is ever finished with this goal, but they’re so, so much stronger.
  • Use that crazy-high passé/retiré without having to think about it
    • Okay, I’ll own a little cockiness about this. My passé is bangin’.
  • Sus-sous: get it to a point at which BW never has to say, “Get it tighter!” even when I’m super tired. NO MORE LAZY SUS-SOUS!
  • Effing devil turns.  Chainês. Polish these turds up until they shine, ffs.


  • Revisit Albrecht’s variation (Giselle, Act 2). Work out the kinks.
  • Revisit the first-act Peasant Pas from Giselle.
  • Learn at least 2 more solo or duo variations.
  • Learn at least one pas de deux.
  • Learn and perform at least one piece with partnering. “Vivaldi Variations” covers a multitude of goals.


  • “Work Song:” Set & perform.
  • “Fade to White:” Set & Perform. This replaced “Work Song” in April’s Instructors’ Showcase.
  • Finish at least Act I. Possibly look into setting and staging a few pieces.
  • Peace: finish it, set it, and perform it.

Bonus Goals

  • Maybe revoltade?
  • Apollo jump, b*tches. I’m still hella chuffed that I not only learned this, but got to use it in a performance. It’s fun and impressive and looks way harder than it is.



I know I’m assessing myself, here, so I’m going to state right up front that I am, of course, less than entirely objective.

Like many dancers, I’m comprised partly of wild overconfidence and partly of horrible insecurity and harsh self-judgment.

That said, when I actually sit down to think about it, it turns out that I’m really immensely pleased with my progress thus far this year.

First off, my petit allegro is so much less bad. I’m still not Eric Bruhn, of course, but I can at least carry off the average Intermediate- or Advanced Class petit allegro exercise without wanting to shoot myself in both feet when I’m done. Meanwhile, the ones in Beginning and Intro classes tend to actually look, dare I say it, good. And, in fact, one of the best bits of “Vivaldi Variations” was pure petit allegro, and I kinda rocked it.

With regard to steps & stuff, I’m really surprised how much of that list I’ve nailed down at this point—turns, especially. To be honest, I actually expected to complete the “leaps & jumps” component of the list before the “turns” bit.

In fact, it appears that I’m actually kind of good at turns when I don’t do crazy, stupid things.

On Saturday, for whatever reason, I could not get my working leg to stay in passé. I kept anticipating the landing and unfolding from the knee. I still pulled off a couple of triples. JB mentioned it and said, “Honestly, I have no idea how you can do that,” and pointed out that the fact that I can somehow pull of triples that way sort of indicates that I am, in fact, actually a strong natural turner.

So, basically, I’m just making things harder for myself.

Imagine that. Me making things harder for myself.

That, like, never happens .__.

For what it’s worth, both the double tour and the double cab are mental-block problems. There is literally no reason I shouldn’t be able to do them: I am physically strong enough, I have the technique, and I have demonstrated that I can do them under the right conditions (sheer terror for double tours; a magic feather for double cabs).


Dumbo with his magic feather. (c)Disney, ganked via Teh Googs as always.

The biggest surprise, really, was entrechats sixes. To be honest, I put that in the list mostly to make sure that I’d keep my quatres in shape. I didn’t really expect to be able to do sixes on demand.

So, um, yeah. That happened.

I have mostly managed to resolve my barre problems, and my abject hero-worship has served me well concerning my goals specifically for BW.

Where variations are concerned, I figure that “Vivaldi Variations” counts—not because of the title of the piece, but because it kind of worked out to being one long pas de however many for me, with bits of folding into and out of the corps.

I’ve had time to revisit Albrecht’s Variation and the 1st-act Peasant Pas briefly in stolen moments in the studio, and I’ve spent a lot of time visualizing my way through Albrecht’s (less so the Peasant Pas, initially because it was easier but now because I don’t remember it as well because I haven’t thought about it as much). I hope to review them formally in Lexington, though I also hope we’ll learn something new in Variations this year.

I don’t know if I’m actually going to manage to learn a proper pas de deux this year, though, because that involves so many variables: someone to teach it, time to work on it, a partner who both dances at a comparable level and has time to work on it, etc.

I have a kind of vague fantasy of asking to learn a pas de deux at LexBallet’s intensive, but since we don’t actually have a partnering class, that probably isn’t going to happen.

As for choreography, I’d still really like to set and perform “Work Song,” but it’s back-burnered for now. Structurally, it needs an even number of dancers, and I had an odd number to work with. I could have re-set it, but then I heard Antony & The Johnsons’ cover of “Knocking on Heaven’s Door,” was visited by a piece that demanded to be set, and the rest is history.

As for Peace, it’s too late in the year to think I’m going to find some way to set the whole thing. I wouldn’t mind setting a couple of the smaller pieces, though—particularly the opening dance from Act II, which is a dance for three pairs of dancers set to the traditional canon, “Dona Nobis Pacem.”

(You guys, it was shockingly hard to find a halfway decent recording of this on the Tubes. They were almost all either badly sung, recorded under difficult conditions, or sung at a tempo that I can only describe as, “Let’s just get through this as quickly as possible.” That’s a shame, because when well-handled this is an absolutely beautiful piece. The thing is, though, you have to feel it and let it breathe.)

Act I of Simon Crane is more or less mentally choreographed, though of course once you start setting things on actual living, breathing dancers, change is inevitable. The opening of Act II is sufficiently sketched that, if I can get hold of enough dancers and a rehearsal space, it would be very possible to set it.

Obviously, bonus goals are exactly that—just extra stuff to fit in if time allows. I haven’t bothered trying to learn revoltade, at least not on purpose. Maybe I’ll get to it, maybe I won’t. I have, however, a rather sound command of that one jump from Balanchine’s “Apollo,” which is simultaneously really impressive and not that hard. It’s basically just a giant sauté fouetté, only once you’ve brushed the first leg through and launched yourself, you bring the second leg to passé, more or less.


Also, if you happen to have a lute handy, you hold it above your head. Sadly, I was not issued a lute. (Image via Pinterest via Teh Googs.)

Alternately, you might call it something like pas de chat Italien en tournant (avec ou sans Lute), I guess? Only the landing is different; you land in a lunge and then open your arms, whereas PdC Italien lands either in a balance a la seconde or closing to 5th (given the choice, I land it in a balance, because it impresses the hell out of people and I’m a big showy show-off in my big show-off pants).

Anyway, this is probably more than long enough. Knowing me, I’ll probably post some notes after class tonight (though maybe not; we’ll see).

In other news, I didn’t actually mean to post my long-unfinished draft about pursuing your wild, impractical dream, but I’m actually kind of glad I posted it by mistake. I thought it wasn’t finished, but it seems finished enough, and that’s one more thing out of my queueueueueueue.

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 2017/06/27, in balllet, goals, steps and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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