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Modern, Rehearsal, Thursday Class, Shadowy Cabal Ops

Modern today felt good. It was just me, and LF gave me a cool visualization thing to start with. We did lots of floor work and work with using weight and the head-tail connection to move through space. Very cool stuff. 

At first my legs were like, “NO. NO, NO, NO. Nope. Screw you, buddy.” I’m experiencing the kind of achy, fatiguey weirdness that I have when my hormone levels are more out of whack than usual (read: when I’m essentially running on empty), which probably explains it. Seeing an endocrinologist is definitely in the plans for … meh, some time this year. 

That said, the legs got over themselves by the of class, and I feel it was a good class overall. I finally admitted to LF that I get stressed out about remembering modern choreography, and she told me not to worry so much about it. On the last run of our final combination, I didn’t. Oddly enough, I remembered way more of it than I thought I would.

Dance Team was awesome today. They did some really good and really original work, and AS and I were really impressed. My own rehearsal also went well.  

Ballet with BW was partly a private class—one of the owners of studio was with us much of the time, but had to pop out now and then to take care of admin things. Such is running a business! 

Class was very intense—in a good way, as always. Interestingly, I got the exact same physical correction from BW tonight that Killer B me yesterday (or, well, one of them…). Obviously, my shoulders, neck, and chest are a hotbed of ballet problems right now.

I’ve realized that, too some extent, this grows out of a deeply internal focus. When I’m working hard, I to draw into myself mentally—and, it would seem, physically. I’m working on it, though!

Curiously, though, my legs had overcome the morning’s meh-ness … which is good, because I would have died of the rond de jambe combination alone, never mind the fondu and the grand battement, if my legs had continued to suck.  The fondu/adagio, in particular, was challenging: slow fondu, slow relevé, slow fondu, extend avant then fondu attitude, hold forever, extend, sus-sous, continue pattern inside leg back, etc. The pace was what made it hard—it’s that combination of precision, restrained power, and grace that makes your blood boil at adagio tempo. 

Speaking of grand battement, I realized that I haven’t been leading with the heel when closing from the back. It starts that way, then gets lazy in the last inch or two, which is no good. It makes for a lazy fifth and, over the course of the combination, works the supporting leg loose. I mentioned that to BW, and he gave me an extra set to the back only (though still finishing with plié-passé-attitude devant) to sort it.

We also did the dreaded Kneewhacker Turns, which went better than usual. Interestingly, I did whack my knee quite resoundingly once. It didn’t particularly hurt, but startled the heck out of me.  I didn’t do it again, that’s for sure 😀 And, in fact, The Kneewhacker Turns that followed were whack-free. 

At center we tendued (with turns) and then drilled double turns from fourth and second. BW had many thoughts my turns, all of which tie into problems I’ve been attempting to solve. My spot wasn’t as slow as it was the other day, except when I was being afraid of the Kneewhacker. 

I called it a night after a nice waltzy combination across the floor. My toe had started complaining a little, so I decided to take the conservative route. Little jumps Saturday, maybe, and we’ll see how it goes from there.  

After class I my fellow Bike Commuter Cabal operatives for a drink and a late supper. Ben and Jenn Folsom were in town, a rare treat for all of us. It was good to catch up with my bike peeps! 

D took one look at this and said, “No one would ever guess which one of you is a dancer!” 😀


    

Thursday Class: On the Spot

We were back to BW’s Thursday class tonight after a two week break (one week for Swan Lake, one week while I was watching Pilobolus).

It was a good class. Just BB and me, so we got to do a fairly complex (and long!) barre. I tried to remember to relax my upper body, since I realized on Wednesday that when my upper body is tense, I tend to lose the ability to really control my deep rotators.

Sometimes that’s a losing battle, the upper-body-relaxing bit. Tonight, it went fairly well. Sometimes a little too well, at which point my hands when from Don Quixote! to Dead Birds 😦

handy-guide

…Unless, of course, you are actually in “Don Quixote,” or dancing a character role that calls for Emphatic Flamenco Matador Hands. But there is no place in ballet for Dead Birds, unless they’re the Dying Swan, and even she doesn’t get to have Dead Bird Hands because, I mean, like … birds don’t even have hands, man.

Anyway, at barre, BW corrected my grand battement à côte, which I was allowing to drift too far backwards (and, like everyone else this week, got on me about my working knee not being straight in arabesque; for some reason, it has decided to choose this week to give me … ahem … attitude :V).

Curiously, I think this is a new-ish development. I’ve started doing them mostly with the arm in 3rd, because it forces me to keep my shoulders down and, frankly, just gets the danged arm out of the way. Before I adopted that approach, I used my arm as a handy-dandy guide: as long as I shot my leg to the front of my arm, I was fine. Now I need to, like, actually feel where it’s supposed to go.

Speaking of attitude, he also sorted my attitude balance-to-allongé. For some reason, I kept doing it to second arabesque. Have I always done that? Now that I’m thinking about it, I don’t think that I have. That said, I have no idea when I started doing it or why. For all I know, I’ve been doing it like that for a year and it originated as a way to get my arm out of the way without cracking the back of my hand on the wall or the mirror.

We also did a kajillion turns. BW noticed something weird about my spot: I was, in essence, spotting twice — like, getting stuck briefly in the mirror on the way to the actual spot. Apparently, this problem is contagious, because BB was doing it, too.

I very much get how this came about: I’m attempting to watch my turns in the mirror.

Specifically, my wonky proprioception makes it really hard for me to feel whether or not I’m actually snapping my leg to a proper open passé (or retiré, as is sometimes required), and I’ve developed the habit of attempting to catch a glimpse on the fly.

Apparently, that plays havoc with your spot, even though the hesitation it produces is minuscule.

The really annoying part of all this is that it really probably isn’t necessary. Snapping to a proper, open passé/retiré is one of the things I do naturally. There is absolutely no reason for me to be checking that in the mirror when I’m doing turns.

Keeping my foot attached at the knee until I really finish my turn, on the other hand… Eerrrrm, yeahhhhh. Sometimes I start stepping out of my turns a little early. It’s a thing.

That said, I mostly managed to stay attached tonight. Maybe the mini-spot in the middle was the problem?

Anyway, with regard to your working leg in turns, it’s fairly easy to tell whether you’re staying placed: if you can finish in a clean fifth when you do turns to fifth, you’re probably keeping your foot attached. For me, this works for turns from fifth, fourth, or second(1).

  1. Are turns from third  even a thing?

On the other hand, if you find yourself finishing everything in a sort of sloppy 4.5th position, your foot is probably wandering. Or, at least, that’s how it works for me.

So here’s the rundown:

  1. Allongé from attitude: it is not the same thing as an extended second arabesque.
  2. Grand battement à côte: don’t let your leg drift behind you, and if you have trouble feeling where it is, do it in the mirror a whole bunch of times and figure out how to feel it.
  3. Turns: don’t get stuck in the mirror; the extra mini-spot just screws it all up.

Oh, and one more bonus: when you’re doing a simple combination of piqué turn – piqué turn – soutenu  turn – soutenu turn – piqué turn – piqué turn – step-over turn – step-over turn, don’t get so into it that you nearly crash into the wall at the opposite corner.

Pro Tip: crashing into the corner is not how you ballet (though IIRC Nureyev totally launched himself off a stage once, in front of like all the people).

 

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