I have now been to
three four classes since I last wrote. I’m going to focus on Friday’s class but first: SHOUT OUTS
- Shout out to the dude who looked like he was some kind of high school sports guy/jock who came into Beginning Ballet on Wednesday in sweat pants and jazz shoes with little/no dance experience and a great attitude. I really hope these younger and upcoming generations of young men are getting a different idea about ballet and how fun and awesome and beautiful it is no matter what gender you are or are not.
- Special shout out to the young woman who I mentioned coming in with a group of other brand-new beginners a month or so ago, who has been coming (by herself) EVERY SINGLE WEDNESDAY and improving so much. She has a bit of a punk rock appearance so I feel especially happy about her finding something in ballet
On Friday I decided to check out Beginner Modern. Just to mix it up. The class was at my “alternate” studio location. I wore a leo and some leggings and a t-shirt. When I entered the class, a woman in ballet shoes was stretching on a yoga mat in the corner. Then the teacher came in, but just to be sure, I said, “Is this beginner modern?” She said, “Yeah…” in what I was certain was an apologetic tone! Then she ignored me. I felt confused. I considered introducing myself and telling her I had minimal modern dance experience and usually do ballet, but decided to just wait and see.
Finally it was time for class to start and no one else had come in. They always cancel class if at least three people don’t show up, but she offered to teach us like a half class or give us a voucher, etc. Me and the other person were like yeah we’ll just go to the ballet class instead. There was beginner/intermediate ballet scheduled to start in 15 minutes. Luckily I had brought my slippers.
Before the final decision was made, the other student told me that the woman was a sub (that explained her apologetic tone!) and that the man who usually teaches is AMAZING and is also a performing professional. She really raved about him and I felt disappointed I had picked the wrong random day to come. Anyway, we shuffled down the hall to ballet class.
Here I am taking ballet class in my stupid leggings and t-shirt. Great. I look around the room and it doesn’t look too intimidating, although there are a few advanced-looking ladies.
Then the teacher walks in and OF COURSE it’s a man. A young-ish (my age? 30s?) man in a BOLSHOI BALLET t-shirt that looks suspiciously brand new. Class started and at first it was okay. A little tricky but I hung in there.
I guess petit allegro is where things took a turn for the worse. The steps were so simple, but they included glissade-changement. Which apparently is impossible for me. Like a tongue-twister with your legs. Not to mention it was super fast. The teacher said, You know why you guys are struggling? Because your glissades are too slow. Then he did a lightning-fast gorgeous glissade the likes of which I have only seen in videos of professional dancers. Oh ok thanks for that tip.
I had also noticed during barre that he would demonstrate the combination once, and then if anyone had questions, he would explain it again using his hands. Which is fine, it’s a thing many teachers do and I mark things with my hands all the time. But he’d be explaining like pretty advanced (for me) choreography with steps I wasn’t quite comfortable with, using vague motions of his arms? It was… unhelpful. So he’d do the arm swirl thing with center combinations as well and by the end I was just like ooooook I give up
I dunno. I hadn’t really felt like going to dance class in the first place that day. But I inspired myself to go with the promise of a new, fun activity, Modern Dance! To be honest, familiar old ballet actually sounded great when modern was canceled, because I was tired and in a bad mood, and at least I know ballet stuff already.
What I did NOT WANT was to attend an extremely difficult and challenging advanced ballet class that made me want to cry.
Oh the worst part was that he gave everyone the option to try the final diagonal combination one more time (“optional” he said!) and although I hadn’t like TOTALLY flubbed it, it was tricky and I felt like doing it once was torture enough. I mean it’s good to practice, and to try, I know that, I was just not in the effing mood after that whole entire unexpected emotionally-trying class I had just taken! So it was one of those things where a few people volunteer, a few more fall in line and before you know it EVERYONE BUT ME is going again and I was just standing there like a cowardly doofus.
I seriously did want to cry by the time I left.
I’m just really frustrated by ballet class labels sometimes. At my studio the key seems to go like this:
Intro Ballet = Baby Ballet
Beginner Ballet = Intermediate Ballet
Beginner/Intermediate Ballet = Advanced Ballet
Intermediate Ballet = Professional Company Class
Advanced Ballet = ????? I can only assume it’s …… impossible?
I mean maybe there’s not really a perfect solution for adult open classes, with the huge variety of backgrounds you get (as a teacher) in every single class. And there are not a lot of people like me, with many years of experience but no foundation of pre-professional or professional dance. On the other hand, adult ballet is becoming more popular (I think?) and there WILL be more people like me so, I dunno, maybe more studios should tailor classes to adult beginner students of different levels? Instead of teaching to the ex-pros? JUST A THOUGHT
Ok sorry I guess this is a rant. And honestly, that ballet class on Friday seemed like a great class if I had been better prepared/in a better mindset. Nothing against the teacher. He was actually friendly, charming and encouraging (to a point). There is also the very real phenomenon of getting used to teachers, their patterns and styles. If I had jumped into Taylor or Calla’s class after taking class regularly somewhere else, even those classes might have seemed too hard (although… not sure about that actually. They like, call out combinations for us if they see us struggle! This guy was just ruthless lol). But anyway if I took this guy’s class every week, I’d get used to him, and I’d probably improve a lot? Like even up to the level of the class…. eventually…
But then you have to think, as an adult student, what do I really want? What are my goals? Of course to improve, but do I want to be so challenged that ballet class itself is emotionally taxing and terrifying? It’s like, high risk high reward. Do I jump in over my head and sink or swim, with possible faster/more drastic improvements as a result? Or should I just keep on truckin, slowly but steadily, with classes that are challenging but FUN, and somewhat comfortable… with the understanding that improvement may be slower?
With everything I have going on in my life right now, I’ll just be honest with you, I’m not up for the challenge of that Friday class. Maybe in the future. But if I can fit a regular Friday class into my work schedule (I think maybe I can, I have to just adjust a little to come in early so I can leave early), I think I’ll just try out that modern class again instead.
Cover photo is class at the Bolshoi, can you tell which one I am? I’m the one who has never been there