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En DeDon’t

I went back to advanced class today.

All things considered, it went reasonably well. Our AD Emeritus came just to watch, and—to my great amazement—this did not cause me to completely forget how to dance. I’m hoping that this means that this particular hex has worn off, or at least only takes effect when the current AD is present (I should specify: I mean the ballet’s AD, not Cirque’s AD, who doesn’t appear to have this effect on me).

Rather, it caused me to remember a correction he gave me ages ago and in an incredibly memorable way: specifically, to make sure the supporting leg is stable before you start waving the working leg around in the air.


Like this. (Image credit: Howcheng, via Wikimedia Commons.)

This isn’t to say, however, that I didn’t make any really stupid mistakes. I did, in fact, make one.

And, in fact, I made it twice.

We had a lovely adagio that ended with what should have been an en dedans turn. As you probably know, I am in favor of en dedans turns: they’re easier for me because I err on the side of falling backwards, so the physics of the en dedans turn overcome that tendency.

However, immediately prior to executing said en dedans turn, we executed what you might call an en dehors tendu: opening from fifth front to a la seconde closing to fifth back. A balance at passé derrière followed, then the pirouette en dedans. The trick was to prepare the arms accordingly on completing the tendu. Sadly, I figured this out too late to save myself.

The first time, I managed to do it right by sheer main force on the first side, but didn’t correct in time on the second side, and the turn wound up being en dehors instead of en dedans.

The second time, I made an even worse mistake: I told myself:

It’s not en dehors!

This meant, of course, that my brain was full of en dedans, and accordingly I did the final turn the wrong way on both sides the second time.


Anyway, in short, this demonstrates one of the basic principles of learning: the human mind (and indeed, almost any kind of mind) works better if you give it a positive input than a negative one.

In other words, it’s more effective to say, “Do this!” than it is to say, “Don’t do that!”

And, as such, I completely screwed myself, and probably would have been fine if I’d just told myself, “Prepare arms for en dedans … Turn is en dedans.”

Given that my mind is very visual, it goes a step further: it’s stupid hard to execute the right thing while visualizing the wrong thing. That’s just not how we work.

Anyway, everything else—including petit allegro!—went fairly well. There were no moments of full-on Baby Giraffe Mode, and I was able to easily recover from picking up the first petit allegro combination incorrectly (thought started fifth with left foot front instead of right, which made the whole freaking thing not work right).

The combination, by the way, was simple but a little bit of a mind-bender, since it begins with échappé. It went:

Version 1:
jump to 5th*
(other side)


Version 2:
jump to 5th*
petit assemblé
(other side)

*This could be accomplished via petit assemblé or petit assemblé battu changé.

I also didn’t die—not even a little. In terms of physical intensity, I would actually place this class third for this week–Killer B’s was the hardest, BW’s the second hardest, then this one, then JMH’s Monday class.

HD spent a lot of time working on me today, which is always reassuring. She also mentioned that she’s been following my adventures on Instagram, which I think is pretty cool 😀

Beyond that, for the first time in a while, all through class I looked at myself in the mirror and didn’t hate what I saw. I’m assuming that’s more mental than physical, though I am starting to feel like I’m making it around the bend reconditioning-wise (especially given that I’m actually, like, enjoying petit allegro).

Next week, we may or may not have class, depending on how things roll for HD. She’s working on getting over a nasty cough and also Nutcrackering in addition to teaching our class. She’s currently the only person available to teach advanced class (everyone else is also Nutcrackering, some here and some elsewhere), and we would rather that she didn’t kill herself trying to do everything at once.

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