LexBallet Intensive 2017: Days 2 & 3

Tuesday, after a fairly hard conditioning class and a not-difficult-but-demanding technique class, we began learning variations.

Wednesday, after a very restorative conditioning class and a lovely technique class, we continued with them. 

The girls are doing the Swans’ entrance scene. There are only four of them, so they have a lot of ground to cover, but they already looked pretty great at Tuesday night’s brief “show ‘n’ tell” session.

Meanwhile, my variation (one of the many versions of Seigfried’s) is a challenge in the small studio even though there’s only one of me—it’s packed with big leapy bits, all of which seem to land me precariously close to the walls when I do them full-speed. Thus, I wind up doing a lot of marking and semi-marking. There seem to be a lot of walls in that studio.

Still, I was quite happy with the sauté arabesque-balancé-tombé coupé jeté sequence last night (it varies from the video we’re using as a model, which involves a bunch of revoltades, which I still am not sure how to do on purpose). Also feeling better about Bournonville jeté, although I still tend to jump through my arms. We worked on that a lot last night.

I couldn’t remember about 20 seconds of the version that C taught me (which doesn’t have tours in it), and since I was working with J last night, we subbed in some tours just because. They feel a lot better this year—I’m figuring out how to use a relaxed plié in grand allegro instead of hanging onto tension, which makes a huge difference.

To be honest, though, just having another year under my belt also makes a huge difference. I don’t have to think about choreography anywhere near as much: I’m better at remembering chains of steps, instead of individual steps. That makes a huge difference.

Likewise, even though we don’t get to do grand allegro anywhere near as often as I would like at home (especially since BW is in Europe for the summer), there are a lot more steps I can do without having to think about them at this point.

The most invaluable corrections this far have been as follows:

  • In saut de chat, focus on travel rather than on elevation (the elevation takes care of itself)
  • In Bournonville jeté, imagine leaping over a hurdle. This imparts the graceful ballon that makes it such a nice leap.
  • Also in Bournonville jeté, think about reaching forward with the arms, then opening them. This both looks better and prevents me from hyperextending my back and shoulders, which screws up the momentum of the jump and looks weird (though probably okay in modern contexts?).

The central thing I’m taking away from this intensive is that I need to focus on one idea:


I used to ride a horse with whom the same basic principle applied. You had to ride him forward, or he would just slope lazily around and pretend he didn’t know from dressage.

The highlight of last night was when I came in way too hot on the first tombé-coupé and instead of the standard jeté, it turned into something spinny and impressive whose name I don’t know. It’s definitely a thing—I’ve seen it in other variations—I’m just not sure which thing. I’ll have to see if I can find it in Tarasov when I get home. 

Anyway, J said, “Ooh, that was fancy!” Sadly, since I’m not actually sure how to do that particular thing on purpose, I’ll just have to file it away for now (with revoltades) and save it for some future date.

Last year, I think I was a bit wary of speed and power. I was forever doing Albrecht’s variation as if I had a check-rein on: behind the motion, without abandon. I was too busy thinking about the steps and trying to be precise, and I was definitely a little afraid of running myself over.

This year, I feel like I’ve made friends with speed and power, and when I get out of my own way, I can harness them. Confidence goes a long way!

In other news, my adductors are pretty sore, which is okay, since they’re one of the bits that need to be stronger. My beats look better for it, though in class yesterday I kept doing jeté battu on the wrong foot (wtf?) and decided to just do plain jeté like everyone else. I should try breaking out the entrechats sixes today. Quatres were nice yesterday.

Anyway, I should go do my laundry. I’m not going to walk down there this time; it’s 3 miles round-trip.

Tonight we polish up the variations; tomorrow we get to show them off.

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 2017/07/13, in balllet, class notes, intensives, repertoire, summer intensives, technical notes, uggghhh...technique, variations, work and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I’m better at remembering chains of steps, instead of individual steps

    Not so long ago I saw a Cog Sci paper that argued precisely this – BIGGER CHUNKS! – was what differentiated the excellent in all kinds of fields. Which kind of makes sense when you think of how often the “aggregate up the basic unit size” pattern comes up in computing.

    • Yes! We learned about that in my cog sci course as well, and I recently ran into the same concept in an article about remembering choreography. One of the central bits of advice was to chunk both ballet “stock phrases” (tombé-pdb-glissade-assemblé shows up so much at the end of basic comminations that I started to think of it as Ballet’s answer to “shave and a haircut, two bits”) and also to chunk phrases within the choreography.

      The version of Seigfried’s variation that I’m doing begins “tombé-pdb-glissade-saut de chat-contretemps R, repeat L” then proceeds to “tombé-pdb-glissade-assemblé battu-sussous,” which makes the beginning ludicrously easy to remember … Though yesterday, at one point, my brain skipped straight ahead to the “assemblé-sussous” phrase at one point 😀

      I think that concept—bigger chunks making the difference—has merit. It’s making a huge difference for me.

      It also makes it much easier to write down my own choreograph 😀

      • I noticed the latest time that I remember contemporary choreographies much better than classical ballet. Perhaps because they are more emotional (to me) than classical ballet – even when you can’t really name the movements.
        Ballet steps say nothing to me – they are beautiful, I like it, but it’s more like a beautiful ornament in comparisation to a emotional story.
        Or ballet is a bit like a standard dance like Wiener Walzer (of cause danced by an professional not beginner) – nice to look at, but that’s all.

        They add mimic to ballet during shows to overcome this – but this you can only see in the first 5 rows.

        When I grab for help and then collapse on the floor(from stretched releve direct to the floor in free fall, only a little damped by a few tricks) in my choreo, it can be seen in the last row. And then reviving and recovering by getting more and more body tension and more lively movements to the end.

        Yes, I like dance theatre. But I like beautiful ornaments, too.

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