Category Archives: teaching

Ballet All The Things 

Yesterday, we worked on piqué turns with our Sunday class. 

Teaching piqué turns, it turns out (sorry again), is a finicky business. 

There are a lot of little details that are actually fairly important—open the whole body, and not just the supporting leg, from éffacé to croisée; don’t fling the baby; bring the hips along with the shoulders; keep the hips level; find the right amount of attack (with adult beginners, I’ve noticed that too little attack is more common than too much); keep the turnouts engaged; etc. 

I found myself wondering whether we were overwhelming our students with information, and whether my input wasn’t just sort of making things harder. I sometimes forget, in the moment, that human beings learn ballet in tiny increments that build up over the course of many years. 

As we progress as dancers, we get used to absorbing corrections on the fly. We add their content to—or subtract it from—layers of existing information. We build and modify habits over years and years. Now and then, a “eureka!” moment leads to a swift and significant change, but mostly we learn by a thousand cuts; a million steps compounded one atop the other. 

We forget what it’s like to be completely new; to be learning not only an entirely new movement vocabulary, but an entirely new language vocabulary.

This is part of what makes teaching ballet hard.

After a while, it all begins to make sense—sure, turnout (for  example) began as pure artifice, but ballet technique evolved around it and depends upon it. A good tour lent/promenade depends on the turnouts remaining engaged—as do piqués and chaînes and all those other turns. 

You can do turns in parallel, but they’re different. They look different and rely on different body mechanics. They can be nice, but they’re not ballet. 

Ballet begins with engaging the turnout—so we harp on about it endlessly.

In the beginning, though, it probably feels arbitrary and baffling (not to mention a bit unnatural). 

You don’t really “get” it until you learn to feel your deep rotators well enough to understand, for example, that you fell out of that otherwise-nice tour lent because your turnouts unspooled themselves and destabilized the hip of your supporting leg and everything attached to it.

That can take years. 

Our AD Emeritus once called me out on failing to really engage my supporting leg before driving on through Adagio or turns. That moment is a bit of a watershed for me, because it made me really think about how I was using my deep rotators. Prior to that, I accepted turnout as a part of ballet without really thinking about it—which meant that I also wasn’t feeling about it.

I’ve noticed that understanding why helps people remember things. The challenge is to impart the reasoning without drowning students in a frothing sea of information.

It occurs to me that perhaps figuring out how to impart that sense of feeling might help—to set some time aside during each class to consciously work on getting to know the body mechanics of ballet by feel. 

Of course, this is ruddy hard to measure: asking students to report back on sensations deep within their hip sockets is inherently subjective and prone to the same kinds of reporting errors that researchers encounter. Perhaps it would be best to ask them to explore their turnout, then describe how it feels at the point at which it’s most correct and solid? 

I’m going to have to remember to talk this over with ABM. She’s a gifted teacher, and I think her insights could be helpful. 

A Break, Maybe?  

I’ve started and scuttled four or five posts this week, and just now figured out that maybe (GASP!) I should take a brief break from the ol’ blorg. I’m not really doing social media right now, either. 

Now is a good time—this week has been jammed with rehearsals and, for me, last-minute learning of choreography for a piece that lost a dancer to illness (I mean, she didn’t die, she’s just out sick; fortunately, this dance is neither long nor difficult, so picking it up in two days has been okay). Next week is the last week of Dance Team for the semester, so we’re doing an improv workshop and team banquet on Friday. I also need to check in with my own wee group of dancers and schedule rehearsals for “Work Song.”

Class updates: Thursday class is on hiatus until after Nutcracker (because BW is Dancing All The Things), Wednesday Class has a sub (who I like very much) until the end of the month because Killer B is also Nutcrackering (IIRC, on Key West!). Saturday class continues with excellent substitutes. I’m going back (finally) tomorrow, though I may just do barre. I chose to call it a day after barre on Wednesday this week, and I think that was the right decision, and while I’m feeling more like normal now, JP’s teaching, and I may or may not have it in me to do his full class. Sunday, I’m back to teaching.

I’ve put Monday class and all Tuesday classes on hold until I get my waterfowls in a linear array, because it’s the only one I feel the least bit flexible about. I’ve been having a rough time getting caught up on stuff that got behind behind at home  while I was sick (in other words, literally everything). That needs to get sorted quickly, and now (before we jump into the fray of “Work Song” rehearsals, Spring Dance Team, and Even Moar ballet) seems like a good time. 

So I am pretty sure I’ll be taking a one-week break, and I might make it two.

But I am, as always,  Not Dead Yet. 

And for all all those celebrating all the various holidays:

So paper. Many joy. Wow

Wild Wednesday: Missing the Moment

But first, Killer Class.

This morning, I took a shower for once (to clarify: it’s not that I don’t wash myself; I just don’t usually shower in the morning). While showering, I found myself thinking, “Gee, we haven’t done saut de basque in a while. It would be really cool to do saut de basque.”

Apparently, the Divine Killer B read my mind, because we not only did SO MUCH PETIT ALLEGRO (which I managed mostly to do right), but we did an awesome grand allegro combination with sauts de basque and cabrioles.

So, basically, it was an awesome day. I also learned, by the by, that I’ve been over-crossing my arabesques, which makes my penché glitchy. Killer B came over at one point and was like, “Try not to overcross,” and moved my foot over, and then it was like, “OHAI, FLOOR!” So that was awesome, too.

On the other hand, I really missed the bus on what could’ve been a meaningful thing at DanceTeam practice.

One of the girls, who is actually a really awesome dancer when she gets out of her own way (with which, being middle-schoolers, they all struggle), randomly said while I was drilling some choreography with her and her friend in a breakout group, “I feel so fat.”

Aaaaaaand, I totally dropped the ball.

There are so, so many meaningful things I could’ve said — and while it’s true that probably none of them would’ve taken hold immediately, it’s important to hear those messages.

I could’ve said, “Don’t worry, there’s no one right body for dance,” or “The right body for dance is whatever body you’ve got” (though that one can sound a touch judgmental) or “All kinds of bodies are beautiful” (though, honestly, that might be a bridge too far for someone who’s in seventh grade and wrestle with all the stuff that people wrestle at that age). I could’ve pointed her to some amazing dancers that are shaped like she is, if I wasn’t so terrible at remembering names :/ (1)

  1. Honestly, I am stunnnnnned that I’m actually remembering the names of ALL my DanceTeam girls; it’s a bleeding miracle.

Instead, I sort of choked and said, “You look fine!” and then, over the course of the conversation, reiterated the things that I think are great about her dancing — she has attitude for days and she’s really expressive, which means she has awesome stage presence; that she’s naturally a great mover for the kind of dance we’re working on.

Maybe I should’ve just asked, “What makes you say that?” and tried to listen, but on the other hand, we were trying to get a lot of choreography tightened up in not very much time.

On the other hand, it’s cool that some of the kids feel like they can say stuff like that around me, given that they really haven’t known me very long. It makes me feel like, against all odds, I’m doing okay making connections and putting them at ease (2).

  1. Probably the smartest thing I’ve done so far was to admit that I don’t know from Hip-Hop; that they get to teach me there.

Anyway, I’m going to have to think about this: how not to be caught off my guard the next time something like that comes up, and what to say that will be both concise and, in the long run, helpful. I’ll also check in with AS about that, since she (as an actual middle-school teacher) might have some insight.

So that’s it for now. I have to run off and suffer … erm, I mean, go back to Trapeze 3 after a not-really-intentional two-week break. Eeeeeeeek.

Finally, A Thing 

So DanceTeam is going well (though I am still convinced that at any moment our dancers are going to realize that I have no idea what I’m doing and revolt/go rogue/possibly eat me). 

Ballet and modern were less than awesome last week, but the Pilobolus workshop made up for a lot of that, especially the part when one of the instructors tracked me down afterwards and told me I was a beautiful mover with a lot of presence. Definitely one of those “I can die happy now”  moments.

Likewise, today’s Open Fly, during which I started formally building a dance to Hozier’s “Work Song” that’s actually going to happen (Finally!), felt like a leap forward.
Including myself, I have four dancers lined up. Aerial A, who went to the Pilobolus workshop with me, is also in, as are my DanceTeam partner-in-crime and a fellow I know from acro (upon whose very high shoulders I have literally stood). We’ve got a tentative performance date early next year (the performance is a definite; it’s just the date that’s undecided). Aerial A happened along while I was working on choreography this afternoon and we stepped through the first 41 seconds of the dance — at least, as much as we could, since there’s some partnering stuff that requires our compatriots.

Aerial A likes what I’ve got, and I think it’s going to really work.

Needless to say, the explosion of dance stuff in my life is both exciting and a bit overwhelming. I’m still in that phase during which you just kind of white-knuckle it whilst you adjust to your new schedule. Hence less posting. I’m somehow managing to scrape paint off the trim in the midst of all this, also, because miracles evidently do occur. 

This week, we’ve got a dance event on Monday evening (a sort of “live interview” with Wendy Whelan), then I think a “normal” schedule again — wait, no, DanceTeam performs on Friday! 

Anyway, here’s hoping that in class this week I won’t do dumb things like choosing too shallow a line in a bidirectional combination and almost colliding with someone in the next group.

Intensive plans for next summer are also in the works. Aerial A and I are hoping to hit at least one of Pilobolus’ week-long workshops. In addition, I’ll probably go to Cinci and Lexington again. There’s a remote chance of doing Sun King if our finances are okay, but in the current economic climate it’s really hard to predict.

No worries there, though. If I don’t get to go til 2018, I’ll be even better prepared than I will next year.

There are also a few audition-y things on the radar, but let’s file those under, “To Know, To Will, To Dare, To Keep Silent.” At least for now.

So that’s where I am at the moment. Still percolating other choreo projects, especially Simon Crane — but one of them is finally taking off. 

Modern Monday: Amazingly, Modern Is Not Ballet (Go Figure, Eh?)

So I’ve decided to stick with modern for the time being. I’ll try to add a second class in somewhere, though it may mean taking class somewhere else, with someone else, maybe, if Friday mornings just prove to be impossible.

I’m still flailing my way back into it. I felt a little better today (even though I started out with a knee I somehow tweaked whilst watching ballet, rather than whilst doing ballet) — a bit less like a cartoon character broadly approximating modern dance; a bit more like, you know, a dancer who’s adapting from one discipline to another.

There were only two of us today, so Modern T gave us both some really, really specific guidance. For me, a big part of it was a question of how I’ve been using my back, shoulders, and head. This was, in every sense, a MOAR MODERN, LESS BALLET kind of day.

I think this is particularly hard for me at this particular moment in time because, right now, I’m all about the back, shoulders, and head in ballet as well. My legs more or less know what to do with themselves most of the time, so now I’m really working on bringing the rest of like, basically everything up to speed.

As such, I spend a lot of time thinking about port de bras, epaulement, placing my back and pelvis, and all that jazz (or, well, all that ballet, since I don’t actually do jazz).

This morning I had to basically force myself to shove all of that onto the back burner and do something else entirely — or, well, all the same things, but in a completely different way. Grounding the spine, in particular, does not come easily to me (because hypermobility).

On the other hand, all of this made several of the things we did in our floorwork make a lot more physical sense, so there’s that.

This was definitely a “struggling to remember the combination” kind of day. I feel less frustrated about it than I used to, though. My experiences in ballet — in which I’ve now developed a pretty strong ability to pick up choreography on the fly — have taught me that it’ll come. I just need to get the vocabulary into my body so I can start thinking about phrases instead of just individual “words.” I was starting to get there at the end of last semester and during the Mam-Luft intensive, so I know I’ll get there again.

All in good time.

Anyway, today I’m going to go help my friend AM (whose modern:ballet ratio is the opposite of mine) with dance team auditions. She teaches and coaches at a middle school. 

Should be interesting — I haven’t been inside a middle school … well, more or less since I graduated from middle school. It’s a tough age for kids, and I think dancing is a good way to get through it.

Depending on how things shake out, I may be jumping in as assistant coach for the rest of the year. I told AM I have no idea what I’m doing, and she said, “That’s okay; even though I was on a dance team and earned 6 national titles, I don’t have any idea what I’m doing either!”

So, basically, we can be clueless idiots together, the blind leading the blind leading the … well, hormonally-challenged, socially strained, and probably also blind. Fortunately, AM is a qualified English teacher, so she at least has prior experience working with kids in this age bracket.

As for me, I have discovered that kids often like me reasonably well because I take them seriously and don’t talk down to them (in part, I suspect, because I was raised by adults who didn’t believe in treating kids as if our thoughts and dreams and so forth were less important than those of adults). I hope that’s still the case, and that I haven’t become the annoying kind of adult in the interim between the last time I interacted with kids on a regular basis and now.

Anyway, this could be interesting.

After Dance Team it’s dinner, scrape the trim on the house, and then … honestly, I can’t even remember. I should probably check the online calendar and see if I’m supposed to be dangling from the ceiling in one way or another tonight.

Tomorrow, my goal is to finish scraping and get painting, and then I’ll be going to a Flexibility & Mobility class and to Acro 2.

In other news, I’ve invented a new word (if only in my head). Linguistically, it’s a terrible one — but it’s a useful one.

The word is eyerollment. Think of epaulement, and just replace epaule- with eyeroll.

Eyerollment is, for the most part, the wrong way to use your head in ballet.

Perhaps because we’re frequently reminded that the eyes follow the hands, when we’re learning to use epaulement, often we lead the movement with our eyes — literally rolling the eyes first, and then turning the head only when the eyes can go no further.

That, my friends, is eyerollment at its worst(1).

  1. At its best, it’s something that can add a touch of character — this weekend’s Swan Lake included at least one imperious “Guardian Swan” who somehow managed to use a small degree of eyerollment to convey grace, gravity, and superiority).

The best fix I’ve found for eyerollment is to think of the eyes pushing the hand instead of the hand pulling the eyes. 

If the eyes roll  around in their sockets, they’ll lose contact with the hand and won’t be able to push it. So you keep the eyes mostly fixed and turn the head to use them to push the hand.

I wish I could remember who suggested the idea of pushing the hand instead of pulling the eyes. It works really well for me and largely prevents the host of stupid things I routinely do with my head when I forget to think about it that way.

Coincidentally, nixing the eyerollment also prevents that ridiculous thing where you go into, say, first arabesque and then just roll your eyes to look out over the extended hand. If your eyes are more or less fixed, you are forced to use your head — and, in my experience, you’re less likely to do something crazy with your head, since your eyes aren’t all over the place.

So, basically, in short, ballet is a good reason to be glad we don’t actually have eyestalks, no matter how useful they might seem.

I’m off to middle school in a few. Wish me luck!


Another moment from yesterday’s class with JP:

“In sus-sous … You know what a mullet is? The hairstyle — short in the front and long in the back. That’s how you want your body to be; it helps you balance.”

I borrowed this and used it with my class today (properly credited, of course). They’re just starting to learn sus-sous.

It works — they did a great job even though sus-sous felt weird and new.

After class, Aerial A said I’ve come a long way as a teacher, and that my explanations work now.

That means the world to me.

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. It certainly is in this case. I crib constantly from the lessons my teachers give us, and i do that because their teaching works.

Anyway, it turns out that I can be taught — and not just taught to dance, but taught how to teach effectively.

Teaching Adult Beginners: They Grow Up So Fast!

My Sunday class is making amazing strides — their tendus, dégages, and even ronds de jambe looked so great this week.

I also experienced one of those great moments in which I grabbed a student’s leg and demonstrated how rotation and placement could help her A) keep her RdJs smooth and B) balance her arabesque, and then got to see that amazing thing where the light-bulb inside just clicks on.

And then she did it again, completely on her own, without my meddlesome, grabby hands 😀

That was the best part, and really the highlight of the day. Such a cool moment!

I also guided her into a first arabesque (really, I just offered her my hand so she’d extend her arm to the right spot) so she could feel how the working leg and opposite arm connect through the back and counter-balance each-other, and she totally got it.

(Also, her arabesque looked awesome! Her back is really strong and flexible, which really helps — thanks, aerials! Likewise, because she wasn’t fighting to try to get a super-high extension, she was rock-solid.)

Something I’ve learned through my own experiences returning to ballet and teaching:

New dancers don’t just find it hard to locate the center-line of their bodies when the working leg is to the rear.

They also (and perhaps more importantly) often find that working to the center-line seems a little weird, unnatural, and sometimes even scary … until they try it and it clicks!

For me, that light-bulb moment came when I realized that I could keep my turnout more easily and effectively in RdJs if I really got the working leg all the way back to the center-line, and then that the same applied to tendus. This happened more recently than it should have, if I were better at A) listening and B) applying corrections :/

Prior to that moment, I guess I kind of felt like I’d lose my turnout that way. Sometimes, ballet can be pretty counter-intuitive.

If you’re engaging all the (right) things, though, drawing the arc of the RdJ or the line of the tendu right freaking back from the tailbone lets you stay turned-out without lifting (or dropping) a hip.

(That, by the way, is the other part that’s hard for people: they feel like they need to lift that hip even when they don’t. Which, if they’re using correct technique and working within the ever-evolving limits of their own bodies, they shouldn’t at this level, or almost ever.)

This is still one of the best ways I know to gauge my own placement: if my working leg is taking too much weight in a tendu to the rear, or I’m hiking a hip in a RdJ en dedans, usually the problem is that I’m not getting my working leg behind myself.

Exception: if my pelvis is jammed — which happens with ridiculous frequency at the moment because Bodies Are Weird™ — I can’t RdJ without lifting the hip on the jammed side (very nearly always the right).

Instead, my working leg is usually kind of camping out in … I don’t know, 2.5-ième position? Working back to the center line by rotating and reaching generally resolves the related problems.

In some ways, and as much as part of me really hates to admit it (in part because I feel weird in third because I use it so rarely), I feel like this is a really good reason to teach adult beginners to work in third position before introducing fifth.

Then, when they come to tendu derrière  or RdJ derrière, they have to think about moving the working leg in towards the center line (by rotating the heel forward and adducting, of course, rather than just by unraveling the working hip, letting the knee point to the floor, and shoving the toes over), which creates the opportunity to feel the difference that it makes when that happens.

Working from fifth, new dancers often tend to let their legs turn in when they extend back (see above re: unraveling, etc.).

Likewise, they often finish an RdJ or point a tendu a little to the side when working from fifth with the working foot closed in back — possibly because early on that seems like the only logical way to get your foot out there.

Later, of course, we get better at pulling up through the pelvic floor and lower core (also known as “pulling up through the hips” :D) and placing our weight to keep the working foot free when it’s in back — but early on, really subtle core cues and weight shifts are anything but intuitive.

With a little hands-on guidance, the sensation of bringing the leg back to the center line through (for example) a rond, on the other hand, can become a powerful physical illustration.

I doubt my student, C, will soon forget what it felt like to “get it” any more than I’ve forgotten.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that she’ll be perfect all the time — but it does mean she’ll be more perfect a lot more of the time, because now she has a memory that connects body and brain through the awesome feeling of an “Ah-hah!” moment.

In other news, the class as a whole is coming on like a house on fire.

Today we worked piqué balances at retiré going across the floor, and so many of them were bang on. It’s really cool to see a group of new dancers experience the thrill of springing on to the supporting leg and being able to just hover there, perfectly balanced, then come down.

We gave them a simple combination: piqué balances at retiré along the diagonal, to the count of:

Brush up – stay – stay – stay – down up – stay – stay – stay – down up – stay – stay – stay 

(..etc. The number of piqué balances varied based both on the length of any individual dancer’s legs and how willing she was to really step out beyond herself.)

On the first run, we let them try it on their own. A few really nailed it, but several were shaky because, as is often the case, they felt unsure and tried to bring the supporting leg under themselves instead of launching themselves onto the supporting leg.

(Really, it’s kind of like throwing a BBQ skewer into the lawn — I’m not old enough to have experienced proper lawn darts, so I can’t say that’s exactly spot-on. Either way, that’s the image I should give them: your leg is a lance, and you’re spearing a reclining mammoth … or maybe something flatter, like a giant crocodile.)


What could possibly go wrong? (1)

On the second run, we simply rolled out the very-most-basic partnering, offering them a hand on which to steady themselves. Most of them literally put no weight on the hand in question, but knowing it was there made them feel safe, and the piqued more boldly.

So, lesson of the day for me: hesitant piqué balances might be the result of a little bit of fear. With new dancers, a little hand-holding (or, well, hand-offering) can really help.

(With more experienced dancers, though, yelling works just fine :D)

Anyway, that’s it for now. Sadly, I won’t be checking in with my students next week, as I’ll be off in the desert, doing tendus in the pool (and then building a freaking enormous theme camp at Burning Man).


Edit: fixed a thing. I don’t know why I was thinking these piqué balances were at coupé. They were at retiré. We’re planning on teaching these guys piqué turns sometime soon.

Further edit: just so you don’t think my Sunday class is really, really perfect, we still have to remind them about thinking of plié as a continuous movement. Today I explained this as:

Don’t drop and pop — melt and … um … smelt. Yeah, we’ll go with “smelt.”

Thank dog that Aerial A backed me up on that mnemonic 😀

Further, further edit: They have definitely turned into a dance class. Before class today, several them were attempting to figure out pirouettes (and kinda-sorta succeeding: they were upright, weren’t falling over, and were getting around, but they weren’t turned out or spotting).

Kinda warms my heart a little 😀


  1. By Mushy [CC BY 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

balancé (en tournant) under >.<

After what feels like a jillion years being confused about part of the naming convention vis-a-vis balancé, I just finally (while thinking about how to re-do my balancé video) figured it out.

The over/under ones (en tournant) are named based on where your foot is going.


Having heretofore failed to make this distinction, I couldn’t even properly link the terms “balancé under” and “balancé over” to the concepts of en dedans and en dehors*.

*There is a part of my brain that is perpetually nine years old and always chooses to translate “en dehors” as “in the out” and then snicker about it.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, when someone says, “balancé under*,” what they mean is that the working foot passes behind (sometimes expressed as dessous: under, in the same sense that the leg to the rear is “under” in sus-sous or that coupé dessous means “cut under”) as you come through the turn.

*So, with all the French, balancé (en tournant) dessous, which works out to balancé (en tournant) en dedans.

So, say you’re doing balancé à droit – balancé à gauche – balancé under – fourth?

In the balancé under, you:

grab your Metro strap with the right hand (à la Strap-Hanger Waltz)
brush out with the right foot, step onto it – pivot – plié
as the left foot comes around in coupé derrière
continue the turn as you step onto the left foot and plié
pique back onto the right foot and complete the turn
tombé onto the left foot in fourth

This will make my life so much easier, as it’s easy to miss the distinction if you blink when you’re watching the combination, and it helps to have a meaningful description to fall back on.


Why did it take me this long to figure this out? And WHY HAVE I NEVER ASKED? FFS. This is why I remain a Danseur Ignoble: if I had thought to ask all the questions I should have asked by now, instead of just quietly puzzling away in my pretty little head, I’d clearly be a proper danseur noble by now (SHUT UP. OF COURSE THAT’S HOW IT WORKS. LALALALALALALA I CAN’T HEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAR YOUUUUUUUUU.).


…On the upside, I will now be capable of actually teaching balancé under (and over) to my Sunday class, instead of just going, “Um, you sorta go like this?” and hoping they’ve all had their coffee and Adderall.

Thinking About Teaching, Dancing, and Being Good Enough

Back in January of 2015, I discovered that I love teaching neuroscience-y stuff (which probably shouldn’t have surprised me, since I am both a gigantic know-it-all and the kind of person who delights in watching other people make discoveries).

Unsurprisingly, this year, I’ve discovered that my fondness for teaching transfers really well to teaching dancers.

Full disclosure: where teaching dance is concerned, I literally have the worst case of impostor syndrome I’ve ever had. I’m totally like, “How are they allowing me to do this?! I could completely ruin this whole class with my generalized incompetence AT ANY SECOND!”

It’s significantly worse than the voice in my head that shouted, NO YOU CAN’T, DON’T AGREE, SHUT UP, SHUT UP, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! every time I was offered some exposed or otherwise significant piece of choreography in rep class in Cinci. (Which, btw: I screwed up some stage business — returned to my starting place at one point when I should’ve gone to a different place — but I reminded myself that the audience has no idea it’s not supposed to look like this and it shook out just fine. So there you go.)

What I’m learning, though, is that I have good ideas, sometimes, and that Aerial A and I teach synergistically. My ideas and hers work really well together.

I’ve also learned that, while it can still be hard for me to articulate things verbally, I’m really solid with the physical corrections — those moments in which you actually grab someone’s leg and sort of show it what to do, or (as Claire once so usefully did to me) tap something and say, “Lift this.”

I will totally feel like I seriously have no business being up here, but I’m also learning that a lot of people feel that way a lot of the time. I’m learning to overcome that feeling: maybe not to make it go away, but to more or less thumb my nose at it. I remind myself that Aerial A is particular about her teaching staff and that our dancers are coming along so unbelievably well.

In short, it looks like I am, in fact, good enough — though maybe not in the way my brain means when it thinks, “But I’m nowhere near good enough!”

I’m not perfect. I’m new. I’m inexperienced. I’m learning.

But I’m serviceable. I get the job done. I’m, you know, good enough. Maybe not The. BEST. Teacher! — but still a teacher with some value.

Nobody ever knows everything (not even insufferable know-it-alls) and everybody has to start somewhere.

I’m trying to keep this thought before me as a dancer, as well: in a field where basically every working second is more or less a potential audition, there’s really nowhere to hide. People judge my ability based on what they see, not based on the things I say about myself or the things I think about myself. When people ask me to dance for them, then, the part of my brain that thinks, “She had no idea how awful I really am at this,” is wrong. People who have seen me dance can probably judge my strengths and weaknesses better than I can.

It’s up to them to decide whether, for their purposes, I’m good enough.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if that means “good enough” as in “This guy is clearly to compete in the highest echelons” (hint: I’m not!) or, “Eh, he’ll do all right.”

Good enough is good enough if it gets you in the door.

The Time I Weekended Like a Champ

Okay, one of these days, I really need to take an actual weekend.

I cleaned the bejeezus out of the bedroom on Friday (we were supposed to go to a party, and then drinks after said party, and then the party was cancelled and, as a result, so were the drinks).

Saturday, I did juggling and ballet class (which was something of a disaster, y’all, and I have no excuse, except maybe the lack of breakfast), got costuming details sorted, showered, then ran back out the door to do dinner, a Cirque show, and drinks afterwards with my cirque peeps (we resolved to do the “getting together for drinks” thing again some time soon).

Also, YOU GUYS, I SHOWERED. The fact that this feels like an accomplishment suggests to me that I may be overscheduled*.

*To be fair, I do bathe pretty often, but that’s more like physical therapy than washing up.

We got home around 2AM, managed to get to sleep by 4AM, then got up again at 8AM to go do Acro, Open Fly, and the Sunday dance class.

Though we both did quite well with the dancing and the teaching, both Aerial A and I were defeated repeatedly by technology during class. I chalk this up to sleep deprivation, you guys. Because, seriously, we were both like, “OMG WHAT IS THIS THING I HAVE NEVER USED THIS BEFORE” as our phones trolled us. They were like, “Tendu music?  Imma let you fi-NO I’M NOT!!!! HAHAHAHA!”

I gave my Sunday class a rond de jambe combination with that lovely fondu-rond-allongé thing. To be honest, I was kind of expecting at least one person to fall over, and nobody did, which was pretty impressive. I should reiterate that these guys are doing all this without a barre. Fortunately, aerialists already tend to have strong core muscles and to know how to use them.

What we’re working on, in this case, is lines: using turnout through the full range of motion in order to maintain a beautiful line. (In case you’re wondering: hands on is the best approach, here. Rond de jambe definitely really benefits from poking and prodding, not to mention grabbing and rotating and pulling and guiding.)

This is really very relevant to performing on aerial apparatus — I use rond de jambe all the time on trapeze, lyra, and silks. Right now, it’s especially handy in my trapeze choreography to transition from gazelle on the right leg to horse on the left leg.

Oh, and then I started in on the Handstand Challenge. Gentlefolk of the internet, here is how you do not do a handstand for more than 8.4 seconds:


Three words: HOLLOW BODY POSITION. That is how you hold a handstand for more than 8.4 seconds. This is not that. Also, my upper body is officially skinny, I guess?

I’m home now and in the process of making dough for French rolls and cheesebread (breakfast of champions?).

After we turn them into meatball sandwiches and stuff them in our faces, my big plan is to collapse into bed and SLEEEEEP.

…And then tomorrow it’s Monday again, so modern class.

I feel that, as a kid, this is what I was probably imagining when I imagined what weekends would be like when I was An Adult. Like:


So there you have it. My weekend.

Jeez, guys, I need a break**.

**Not really complaining, here; also, totally aware that this whole post is like FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS OMG.


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