I tried out a new class: Beginner/Intermediate on Thursday at 7:30. I’m so glad I did! I loved it! I think it will be a great addition to my existing schedule.
I liked the instructor, Terese, instantly. I feel really lucky to have access to so many excellent teachers at my studio. I was ready for a tough class, but Terese came in exuding a friendly and light-hearted energy that immediately put me at ease.
When she recommended the Thursday night class to me, my ballet-friend Miranda warned me that Terese likes difficult patterns, but that she repeats a lot and you get used to them. Indeed, Terese started off with some tendu-pliés facing the barre that she prefaced is always the same and has been the start to all her classes for more than 10 years. It was a little tricky but I think I have it now.
There was a great diversity in the class, as usual, including five (!) men. One of the men, Jim as I later learned, sauntered in and took the spot in front of me at the barre. “Good evening…. Nasa,” he said to me, eyeing my NASA sweatshirt. “Good evening,” I said. I was a little miffed as I had selected a small section of the barre where there was nothing blocking the mirror so I could see my body/feet, and when he moved in front I had to step back and I lost the mirror spot. Later Terese told us to follow Jim if we got lost, and called him “our cruise director” as he likes to keep everyone on track. How cute! I’m not sure what Jim’s dance background is, he didn’t appear to be an ex-pro, yet he did seem to have a vast and comprehensive understanding of choreography.
The men decided later that they should have a group of men for one of the center combinations, since we were splitting into fives anyway. So that was pretty cool. Fully one-third of the class!
I really liked the barre. Miranda was not kidding that it was brain-teaser after brain-teaser. Inside legs all over the place, fouettés at the barre – no stones in our dance-brains were left unturned. However, it wasn’t so complicated that I couldn’t properly keep up; I fumbled often to be sure, but I was able to catch up and get a complete work out. And of course I’d never taken her class before, so I will definitely be able to keep up better after a few weeks. When the choreography wasn’t complicated, it was physically difficult, which I really appreciated. For example, we did a “Dégagé Marathon” which involved eight dégagés in various directions (of course not en croix, that would be too simple lol), reversing the combination, doing it all to the other side right away, and then repeating the entire thing with arms.
Center was similar in feel to barre. Our warm up jumps were so fun: changements, échappés, jumps to fourth and a pirouette! Then came petit allegro, myyyyyy faaaaaave. Petit allegro was also super fun and involved temps de cuisse (temps des cuisses??), which I had totally forgotten about, but my feet kind of remembered. A temps de cuisse is a combo-step of a dégegé and a sissonne fermé. Except this one was a little coupé instead of a dégegé? Which seemed also familiar? Is it always like that rather than a proper dégegé? Is a coupé a dégegé?
I like how I went from a Ballet Authority explaining something to you, my reader, to getting totally confused and asking YOU what something means. Help? Hello? Dear Reader, are you there?
Okay so I actually remember our petit allegro combination. I will try to film myself doing it you can see the various positions as well, if I remember to do that I’ll post it later or on instagram. And I’m sure that will be hilarious but it will be for demonstration purposes only.
Anyway, here were the steps:
Glissade, assemble, jeté, jeté, balloné, coupé, pas de bourée. Temps de cuisse, temps de cuisse, sissonne ouverte, assemble, changement!
I guess it was getting late (the class goes to 9pm!!) and after a long day of work my brain was very low on whatever fuel my brain uses. Blood? Um.
I was trying so hard to drill the steps into my deflating brain. I’d do a few steps and then it felt like I had to manually crank a lever to get the next step to appear in my brain and then arrive at my feet. I finally marked it all the way through a few times, and Jim’s voice came down from on high behind me (he’s like 7 feet tall) to say, “That was it! You had it!” “I did??” I said excitedly, and then we joked about the pauses in my mark while gears turned.
Then we did it a few times in a two groups. I think one or two times (to one side or another) I very nearly had it, but there was just too much mind-body-connection breakdown. Frustrating! Finally she gave us one last chance to give it another shot as a group, and I couldn’t even get my act together for the first step, and by the time I managed to jump in it was over. Urrrgh!!!
We did some pretty waltzes… oh our tendu combo involved pirouettes and grands battements, that was earlier. And the tendu combination, while the steps were pretty fun on their own, was done to that Pink Panther song, (dadun, dadun, dumdumdumdumdumdumduda DUMMMMMdadadadum) (you know you know what I mean) which made it extremely fun to do. THANKS! Basically everything we did was so fun and pretty. If she repeats a lot at promised, I’m so excited to nail some combinations in the future because they are the kind where you can really have fun with it and get all dancey. Ah!
I can’t wait to go back. We will have class next week but then that location goes on Spring Break (while the other locations don’t, confusingly) the first week of March, booo. Actually I guess I wouldn’t go in two Thursdays anyway because I’m going to New York. Anyway I’m rambling.
Best new class!