Category Archives: the basics
Today I took my first class with my company’s ballet teacher. She’s fantastic.
I particularly like her focus on strengthening the elements that are really essential to technique (her approach is very Vaganova-based; I think Ste. Agrippina would approve)
She also has a fantastic eye for the small-but-important elements that really solidify technique.
When we finished, she asked us what specific things we were going to remember from today’s class. Here are mine:
- *Really* connect the retiré, and connect it a little closer to the kneecap (I’ve been connecting mine about a cm or 2 too far towards the inside of the knee, which functionally means that a lot of the time I’m not really connecting at all, even though I THINK I’m connecting). Also, send the knee all the way to the side, and be a revolving door.
- In petit allegro, using pas de bourée en l’air can help you keep your legs contained. Basically, you tombé and close the back leg in a little assemblé, then do the “side, front” bit of the PdB. This gathers your power under you instead of sending you forward.
- In exercises battu, think about whether the beat changes or doesn’t change. If you pay attention to this when receiving the combination, you won’t find yourself desperately doing FeetMath en l’air
These are really elemental things—things that as dancers who’ve been dancing for years and years, we probably think we’re doing already.
It’s remarkable how much difference it can make when someone gives you an effective correction on one of these things.
Anyway, that’s it for today.
I am, of course, planning to steal these ideas and bring them to my students tonight, because part of becoming an effective teacher is cribbing things directly from other teachers who are themselves highly effective.
I’ve been thinking for a while about trying to make a habit of posting my class notes.
Sometimes they’re silly, and often they’re impossible to read, but I try to write down my corrections and other points that seem really helpful.
In that vein, here’s today’s:
A transcription (which I probably won’t include every time):
- Engage! (Those arrows are pointing at the muscles to either side of the rectus abdominis. My friend SF pointed out that it looks like they’re pointing to the kidneys 🤣)
- It frees up your hips 😶
- Like, really frees them. 😲
- Relax, it’s just turns 😑
- Pull (and push) towards your standing leg!
- That way, if you tip over, you can correct
- Your free foot has to PUSH OFF so you’re centered on your standing leg
On that last note: you would think I knew that already!
And, I mean, I do. I did. I have. And yet!
I just realized I haven’t really been actively using the soon-to-be free foot as much as I should when initiating turns, so I’m not always pushing myself onto my standing leg as effectively as I could.
My focus at the moment is staying on my leg (or legs, as applicable) and really using the floor.
And also not allowing my arms to do ridiculous BS like they did today during our medium allegro, because ffs, arms 😑