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 😦
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).
- 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:
- Allongé from attitude: it is not the same thing as an extended second arabesque.
- 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.
- 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).