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Thursday Class: Wait, Which Left Hand Again? 

Class today started out with a heaping plate of WTF.  

BW gave me the first combination facing the barre. I had the counts alllllllll wrong and couldn’t figure out where my body was relative to my legs (you guys: WHAT EVEN IS THAT?!). 

Then he gave me the second combination. Not only did I hose up the counts, but I forgot the middle of the thing and started on wrong side. Which I figured out when I went to do the combination left and then realized, “Frack, I just did this side!” 

Fortunately, it was not all downhill from there. I mean, I felt weak as hell for some reason[1], but mostly didn’t completely screw things up, though it took a while to convince my knees that, yes, they needed to be all the way straight.   

  1. Read: probably A) that I hadn’t eaten enough and B) my allergies are on Security Alert Hot Pink OMG OMG Definitely Panic, which led to asthma acting up, which led to me taking my inhaler, which jacks my heart rate up through the roof, which obliterates my recovery capacity.

Anyway, things eventually got better, and we did a stretch/fondu/extension exercise that is both pretty hard and a good measure of progress. Last time we did it, I had to content myself with extensions at 90 degrees front and side. I could get them up there flexibility-wise, but I couldn’t hold them any higher. This time, I found I had gained several degrees of sustainable extension and the ability to actually make my rotators operate whilst holding my legs up there (which, really, means I’ve figured out how to turn off my big, stupid quads). 

BW also gave me a nice adage that involved slow half-fouettés followed by half-promenades into pdb-to 4th to en dedans turns, then reversing. That proved to be a nice little brain teaser and a nice piece of choreography. It’s also a great way to figure out if your butt has decided to take its lunch break without clocking out, so to speak: if your rotators and your butt check out, your supporting leg is gonna have a bad time with that transition from the fouetté lent going one direction into the promenade going the other way.  

The highlight of the class, though, was a, little break we took to hone my waltz turns. I’ve never really been clear on what my head is supposed to do, which coincidentally turned out to be exactly what BW wanted address.

So here’s a brief description of the technical bit, via the mental visualizations I used to keep it sorted:

  • First you lift your gaze to the Wilis on the far corner of the stage. 
  • Then, as you make the first half-turn, you sweep your gaze to the Wilis on the opposite corner of the stage (that is, the one where you’re starting out). 
  • As you make the second half-turn, you briefly make eye contact with the audience, then lift your gaze back to the Wilis awaiting you in the far corner. 
  • Repeat until you run out of waltz turns, room, or hit points*, whichever comes first. (*Because Albrecht’s Variation is basically a Ballet Boss Battle.) 

If you’re wondering why this is all about Wilis, it’s because last year, when we were learning Albrecht’s Variation, we had all forgotten that it was from Act II’s scene where the Wilis are dancing Albrecht to death, and we were like, “What’s with all the gesturing to the sides of the stage? Where even is Giselle? Is this Giselle over here? Or is this Giselle over here?” 

And then we went and watched videos and we were like, “…Oh.” Because, like, all that romantic gesturing is basically like, “Please! I’m too handsome to die this way!”   

So now it’s always Wilis, Wilis everywhere when I’m trying to figure out where to point my limpid gaze. 

Or, well, Wilis, Audience, Wilis, moar Wilis (because you have to populate the back of the stage with somebody).

Honestly, whilst your mileage may vary like a mothertrucker, this visualization works like crazy for me.

And, also honestly? I don’t want to know what that says about me o_O 

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