Having missed class last week, I have returned to summer ballet with Birdie. While my two-week break had a less detrimental effect on my performance than I had feared, Birdie’s still unfamiliar class has unearthed new depths of my balletic ineptitude. Such as…
1. Remembering combinations
I tried to be smart and stand in the middle of the barre today. However, the studio has acquired an additional barre that faces the mirror instead of running parallel to it and Birdie put two of the students there. As there were only five of us, it was either me or the new girl in the middle, and I figured she needed it more. It’s not like I could follow her anyway, she literally just started ballet two weeks ago.
I would like to make it clear that I got the plié combination right this time. Everything else was somewhere between oh là là (which in French is an expression of annoyance, not innuendo) and outright merde. Even craning my neck around inelegantly to look behind me didn’t help much. Birdie has this quirk, where she’ll be walking along the barre and counting out the exercise, and then she’ll suddenly stop counting and go tutor someone in some particular detail of the technique. To the credit of the class, everyone except her «victim» continues the exercise – or an exercise. Basically, each student just does her own steps to her own beat, and then we gracefully conclude it with a joint port-de-bras when the music ends. Which brings us to…
2. Staying in time with the music
I have occasional trouble with timing in jazz, but ballet just kills me every time. Usually, I tend to be too fast. This goes for tendus, fondus and especially the circular port-de-bras that Birdie is extremely fond of. The latter I complete in about half the time it should take (probably because I can’t look around to see how far along the others are when I’m doubled over). I’m sure it looks like some extreme form of headbanging from outside.
Going too slow, on the other hand, only happened to me once today. And that was because I suck at…
3. Battements jetés
To be fair, they were ridiculously fast. The biggest problem here is probably insufficient core muscles. I need to acquire moar coar ASAP.
During the adagio, Birdie kept chirping on about how each movement was basically a natural continuation of the previous one and we couldn’t get it wrong if we just went along with it. One part of that statement was true. The other was not. Can you guess which is which?
Let’s just say it was catastrophic and leave it at that.
But then the events took an unexpected turn. Apparently I’m not bad at…
We did those across the floor and after the very first round, the new girl said to me: «Your turns look really good!» She even came up to me in the changing room after class… and then she said it again! She also added that they looked natural and not forced or wobbly!
Once I resumed my normal shape after having a minute as a molten puddle on the floor, I thanked her and realised she has a point. By coincidence, both my jazz teacher, Y., and my regular ballet teacher, M., had taken a particular liking to soutenus several weeks before the break started, so I ended up doing those twice a week for a month or two. While Y. still has a lot to say about my turnout and the placement of my feet, I can hold my balance pretty well by now.
So hooray for progress and for new girls who are not afraid to compliment people!
PS: Don’t get me wrong – today’s class was hard, but I enjoyed it immensely and learned a lot! This blog has had an unexpected effect on my ability to navigate difficult classes. I fall into the pit of negative self-talk a bit too easily, especially when the going gets hard. But now, instead of thinking «I am shit an this» repetitively, I think «I am shit at this and I will write a funny post about it.» And, believe it or not, that helps.