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Oh. Duh.

This morning, Ms. B’s barre was fantastic: really good and really challenging (as often happens, we had a handful of professional dancers in class; even they found the barre challenging!). I got some excellent guidance on my penché — the result was one of those, “Oh, it’s the floor! Hi, floor!” moments.

Apparently, my port de bras was also beautiful, and a quick adjustment I made early in the class (totally cribbing off my friend B.) made for some amaaaaazing balances. w00t!

In between combinations, I kept catching sight of myself in the mirror and thinking, “Is that really what I look like?”

Like, when did I turn into this surprisingly broad-shouldered person?

After class, B. took me out to lunch, and we got around to discussing various First World Ballet Problems (as is our wont), and it suddenly hit me: of course I’m having trouble with turns.

My body is surprisingly different than it was just a few weeks ago.

Though, really, that shouldn’t be surprising. I’ve been spending 10 – 15 hours each week on cirque training. I seem to have sprouted, like, arms and stuff.

So, basically, all of that is going to impact my center of balance, and of course it’s going to make my turns a hair wonky until I sort it out again.

Thus, for the time being, I’m going to go back to Channeling Baryshnikov — preparing for turns as if they were some kind of Zen exercise, which maybe they should be, instead of sproinging into them with All The Power whilst simultaneously throwing myself off my axis.

This also explains a previously-inexplicable new problem with my balance during tour lent, promenade, and penché. So, basically, I need to adjust for the fact that I’ve added muscle upstairs. Eep.

Since it’s my birthday, I got to choose a step to work on, so I chose saut de basque (and we got to do Grand Allegro, finally — it’s been a while). We did a fabulous combination that I’ll try to record later, if I can remember, but for now we need to jet off to conditioning and Trapeze.




I mean, wow, video editing is kinda fun.


Sorry. It keeps going to my head. (Worse: I’m editing ballet videos today, and they’re full of music that makes me want to dance, but NO! It’s a Rest Day. NO DANCING. Or, well, less dancing.)

*Although the attempt fails.

I say, “You don’t want to use your arms…” when that’s blatantly, obviously wrong; what I mean is, “You want to use epaulement and a soft bend in your upper body to create that beautiful diagonal line in the arms…”

Anyway, here’s my rambly little video about balancé. You’ll notice, near the end, that I attempt describe what NOT to do with your arms*, and then proceed to do exactly that.

You guys, sometimes it is really hard to think, dance, and explain all at the same time.

Anyway, in addition to a handy way to remember how to balancé, you now have a great visual example of how NOT to use your arms while you’re doing it.

You’re welcome! ^-^

For what it’s worth, I think it’s kind of hilarious how my head occasionally disappears into a cloud of light. My house is not well suited to filming anything dance-related; the rooms that have good light are either tiny and jammed with furniture** or have concrete floors, while the one room that is large enough and has a wood floor also has terrible lighting and a carpet (which is beautiful, but obviously ill suited as a ballet surface).

**Seriously, Denis adheres to an updated version of the Victorian approach to furnishing a house — in short, cram in everything you can, then add doilies.

It’s still the best option out of the available rooms, though, so I’m going to have to figure out how to work with it if I’m going to make this a regular thing.

One last thing: the tights technically belong to Denis, not that he ever gets to wear them. They’re Joe Boxer brand, from K-Mart, and they’re so freaking comfortable it’s not even funny — just enough compression, excellent wicking qualities, stretchy-but-not-too stretchy, with no angry-python waistband. They’re also just long enough to tuck into your shoes, if you’re me.

If you go looking for a pair, make sure to either pop them out of the box if you can, or at least try to find the so-called “seamless” ones (which do, in fact, have seams). Some of the others do, in fact, have horrible waistbands.

And now, your feature presentation…

Ballet: The Hardest Easy Things

TL;DR: If you’re (still) struggling with pas de valse en tournant, balancé, or the mystery of what the heck to do with your head, don’t worry — everyone else probably is, too. Meanwhile, if you’ve got a solid double tour but still can’t pas de valse without tournant-ing into a jibbering idiot, don’t worry — you’re not alone.


The other day, during the lull in class between barre and center, I traipsed across the floor and tossed off a random cabriole that my classmates immediately remarked upon: “That was beautiful! Such lovely suspension!” and so forth.

Even I thought it was a particularly nice one. It just felt good — high and light and easy; as if I had all the time in the world to beat my legs before floating back down to earth. If it had been on a Bad 1980s TV show, it would’ve been accompanied that cicada-like sound effect (if your sister was ever obsessed with The Bionic Woman, you know what I mean.)

A few minutes later, we did an adagio combination with waltz turns, and that’s when the wheels came off.

And I don’t mean the training wheels, either. I mean all the wheels.

Read the rest of this entry

Danseur Ignoble: Saturday Class At Last

You guys, Brian is amazing.

Today, we spent most of barre working slowly without accents. Very different feeling, but exactly what I’ve been needing.

Working workout accents forces you to focus on doing the entire movement correctly — so if you’re working a tendu from fifth, you make all the stuff in between the two pictures (“fifth” and “out”) really, really count.

I realized, for example, that when I tendu a la seconde from arrière, I don’t always bring my heel through, and thus I wind up losing some of my turnout.

We also tuned up balancés. M., who has only recently joined Brian’s Saturday class, wasn’t super clear on them, and Brian said, “Don’t worry — I’m 33 and I’ve been dancing since I was 14, and I’m still working on balances.”

He also gave the single most concise balancé exercise ever. I’ll have to create a little video of it — it’s amazingly easy and makes balancés crystal clear.

That makes me feel much better about my slowly-improving balancé — which, coincidentally, was 100% better when I walked out of class than when I walked in.

Little jumps were beautiful this time (Light! Buoyant! Quick!), and going across the floor I tossed in some cabrioles, a few of which were good (and at least one of which was horrible).

I think I liked our adagio and pirouette combos best, though — they were as follows:

Adagio (ish, anyway):
Balancé – quarter pique turn (x4)
Repeat on opposite side

Pas de bourré
Arabesque turn
(repeat the above twice; on the third repeat, add a double pirouette)

So there you have it. Not bad at all for my first class in a month, I think, though my port de bras was a bit chaotic.

It’s good to be back.

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