Class on Monday was really good, despite that I had felt somewhat reluctant to even go. I wasn’t seriously considering skipping class, but I wished I hadn’t eaten so much on Sunday or drank so many beers on Saturday. It was definitely a day for slimming black tights. I also kept a tank top on over my leo all class, which I don’t usually do.
The first thing I did was test a few plies to see if my right foot/arch was still sore. I felt the slightest soreness in the same place, but other than that it felt fine. I’m very relieved it got better and not worse.
Usually, in both the classes I take, there are around 10 women attending (no men so far!). This time, there were only five of us. Probably because of the “Columbus Day” (read: Indigenous Peoples Day) holiday (although, having recently moved from government contracting back to the civilian world, I still had to work *sob*), as well as a lot of kids being out on fall break.
The Monday teacher, whose name is Calla, is kind of the polar opposite of the Wednesday teacher (Taylor). Excluding that they are both great teachers in their own ways. Calla is more reserved, and the mood of her class is a bit more studious and somber (which I don’t mind at all!). Taylor’s class has a more “fun” and energetic vibe (although I find a more serious vibe equally as “fun”!).
At one point during class last night, Calla said “Just so you know, I love questions, don’t be afraid to ask any random question you have …” and it sort of loosened the mood a bit and many more questions were forthcoming for the rest of class—and it was a nice intimate experience with such a small class size. I think some of the students might have been a bit intimidated by Calla’s personality, which seems to be similar to mine: perfectly nice but not at all gregarious. When you don’t talk a lot people always wonder suspiciously what exactly you’re thinking about.
The positive change in mood after Calla’s little disclaimer got me thinking that I myself should make an effort to talk to the other women in class. I just never do. I’m not opposed to making ballet class friends, but I guess it’s such a low priority, and I’m kind of awkward anyway, that I just run out of the studio after class and avoid eye contact. Yeah, maybe not the best approach. This can be something to work on later as I take more and more classes with all the same women. I’m fine with being a quiet weirdo (with a secret ballet blog!! Why am I like this) for now.
The class was a bit slowed-down and simple for many of the combinations, which I really enjoyed. We focused a lot on turnout and feeling the floor with our feet. We did some slow tendues that felt amazing. This caused me to think about my own turnout and vow to really work on it this time around. I think I have a bad habit of being *too* accepting of my own genetics and natural strengths and weaknesses. I think the same thing has exacerbated my low releve problem. “Well, I’m never going to get there (a beautiful archy releve, perfect turnout) so why bother working on it,” I think, when really I have tons of room to make significant improvements. Frog poses in front of the TV, here I come!
Sometimes I envy women with hyperextended knees, because it can make such a nice, classic ballet line. In fact whenever I draw ballerinas I will give them that hyperextended line because I feel that it’s the most aesthetic to draw. But hyperextension has its drawbacks! And if I concentrate on drawing up and keeping my legs and knees firmly straight, I can have nice lines too. But yeah, I am bow-legged. If I stand with my feet in a tight parallel, my legs don’t touch from the tops of my thighs to the bottoms of my feet. This is not conducive to good turnout. In fact this is not very conducive to ballet technique in general (think of that classic first position when a dancer’s knees touch but her heels are a few inches apart… yeah, that’s never gonna be me). However, I remember hearing somewhere that bow-legged dancers make for better jumpers. And I do love to jump!
^What I will never look like when posing next to a giant, metal ball of yarn
I shouldn’t lament too much about things like being bow-legged or having small feet. I should check my ballet privilege here because I do have long arms and long legs that lend themselves to classical lines without a huge fight. (Do I sound like a smug jerk? I hope not. I feel like a hard-won healthy body image has given me the ability to assess myself realistically…) And of course this is one of the big areas where ballet becomes problematic. The fact that there is this ideal look that many classic ballets are based around. But I hope anyone who is considering ballet classes doesn’t take that into account whatsoever. Whatever size and shape your body is, if you have that burning passion for ballet that has stuck around over the years, you should come to class. You might be surprised what advantages you have when it comes to ballet, because it’s such a weird beast with many twisty heads. I actually like adagio. I hate turning, waltzes, and turning waltzes. My musicality isn’t great. I’d rather do a pas de chat than a grande jete. There are so many things to be good at, and so many things to be bad at! There is enough to go around for all of us! Am I hyping you up yet?
An update on my releves before I go: I feel like I am trying SO HARD. I just have a long ways to go. I was giving it MY ALL during some one-legged releve, maybe arabesque, just thinking HIGHER HIGHER HIGHER and I glanced over into the mirror and my heel was like two inches off the ground. SIGH. I need to find some exercises to do at home.