So… let’s talk about the class I took on Wednesday! This is the “beginner” class as opposed to “beginner/intermediate” but in reality, the two levels are pretty similar. I have to say I like the bit of extra hand-holding we get in the Wednesday class. I mean like the teacher calling out steps, giving heads ups as to which side/step/leg/arm is coming up next… just because it gives you the opportunity to work on technique instead of fatiguing your poor brain with remembering choreography after a long day of work.
I’ve decided to make a conscious effort to work on my releves*. I’ve been trying really hard to get as high up as possible especially when balancing on only one leg. I’ve never had a high releve, and I think some of it might be genetics, because I see some women who are brand new beginners just get up there like it’s no big deal, with a big beautiful arch and everything. So maybe I’m starting from a disadvantage, but I’m sure that with some extra attention and strengthening, I can get up there too. The top photo on this post is actually my own feet in a fairly nice releve! But I was dancing a lot at that time, including pointe classes.
If you know me personally, you will probably start to roll your eyes right about now, but I also think my struggles with releve are related to the fact that my feet are disproportionately small for my body. I am 5’7” and change, yet my feet are a tiny size 7.5. I always feel like my overall proportions are off when I wear certain shoes, and I joke that my feet look like hooves instead of human feet when I wear high heels. Most friends from whom I can borrow shoes are around 5’4”. I may or may not complain about my small feet (hooves) slightly too much, and basically everyone I share this with thinks I am out of my mind, but I swear it’s a thing!! And ballet is not a great activity for those with small feet. Balanchine preferred dancers with small heads, long necks, short torsos and LARGE FEET! HELLO! (Disclaimer: I just googled this and couldn’t confirm the large feet part. But Misty Copeland referenced it in her autobiography, because she has a large shoe size for her height and says it helped her!)
My plan so far re: higher releves is to simply think about it more (am I up as high as possible??) especially during barre, and also to take any releve option when given (you know when the teacher gives fondues or frappes and says “you can do this on releve IF YOU WANT” like ok I guess I’ll try due to peer pressure but is “want” really the right word here?)
Another thing I’ve decided to concentrate on this go around is to really *dance* every step, every combo, all class long. It’s so funny how easy it is to forget that ballet is a DANCE CLASS. Now that I’m in my 30s, I find it so much easier (and less stressful!) to “go for it” during class. Who cares if I get the steps wrong while simultaneously going crazy with epaulement? Seriously, who cares? Maybe that makes me look foolish (so what?) but MAYBE my performing pizazz distracts from the fact that I was totally using the wrong foot the whole time. Ever think of that??
It does take a long time to get to that point though, whether by getting comfortable with ballet classes or more generally getting comfortable with your own self and body so that you can let go a bit. And often it’s after a struggle with both. And I’m not exactly saying “Just do it! Just relax!” (“Whatever you feel… just dance it” …aaaaand that was your first Center Stage reference of the blog! *air horns* *confetti*) because I know how completely utterly difficult that is. So don’t feel bad if your dancing is still reserved or you feel self-conscious using epaulement without being told to. It will come!
…Who am I talking to? Well, nobody so far. My fantasy target audience are people who are considering taking ballet classes as an adult but are maybe unsure or nervous about doing so. I’m talking to YOU. JOIN US, COME ON IN, THE ROSIN IS FINE (I am very, deeply sorry I just said that). Is this how you do marketing?
This post is already long and I haven’t even recapped class. I don’t know if that’s a thing I’ll even do, because more often what I want to get out on the virtual page are random ballet thoughts, i.e. what I just wrote about above, and not exactly how class went or what happened. But I can maybe try to do both and see how it goes.
Let’s see. At barre I was just thinking about my releves, and feeling very stiff, and then I realized my foot hurt (when I did my first plie), which was pretty concerning. As long as I’ve done ballet, I’ve also run for fun/exercise, and so before I got back into taking ballet classes I was running a lot. Of course everyone says running and ballet is a bad combo and I’ve known for a few years that my running days are limited anyway. It’s so hard on your body (this is said without irony while writing a ballet blog). My latest running injury, of many, was to my foot over the summer. When I googled it (I didn’t have health insurance at the time), it seemed like posterior tibial tendonitis fit my symptoms. I couldn’t lift even 1 inch off the ground in releve on my right side, and the side of my ankle would swell up after running. So that was fun. I thought it was all healed up at this point, but then that first plie pinged it into a weird soreness. So all through barre I was slightly preoccupied with panicking about that. I think it’s okay though. We’ll see.
What else? An attempt at a double pirouette was made. (Why tho.) I think I’ve done a clean double like 3 times in my life. I’m not a great turner. What I love most is jumping. Grande allegro sometimes, and not so much petit allegro, but like, when we do a million changements and echappes to warm up? Those are my ballet forte.
We did a promenade in adagio. I always kind of liked promenades. I liked that whole adagio combination (developpe a la seconde, fouette to arabesque, promenade, change arms, through passe to developpe croise, close fifth, chasse to grande port de bras, close and finish… something like that) except for the grande port de bras at the end—you know that thing where you’re in a lunge and then you swoop your body around and back into a backbend? I love port de bras and grande port de bras at the bar but the lunge in center is so awkward to me. Plus I always forget which leg is supposed to be bent which is absurd, it’s a lunge, why does my body forget how to lunge??
We did zig zags from the corner which I love! The combo this time was tombee pas de bouree, glissade, pas de chat going to the right and left, then same thing but a saut de chat at the end, right and left. FUN
Hm I feel like that recap was boring.
*I am sorry for my French spelling. I actually studied French in college so I understand how egregious omissions of accents are…. Well I guess I don’t have an excuse I just wanted to apologize and I will make an effort to spell correctly in the future… but not right now JE SUIS DESOLEE (I did it again)