As of Friday, the five week ballet summer course is over. Next Thursday, regular classes with M. will resume and I may or may not see Birdie again. It was a very enriching, even if occasionally depressing experience. Thanks to both her precise technical corrections and the fact that she kept reminding us that ballet is still a dance and we should try to make it look like it, I certainly learned a lot.
Just so it doesn’t all go to waste, I’m going to write up the most important corrections I received. This way, I’ll be able to come back to them and to check if I’m still trying to implement them in class. Let’s see…
- I have to keep my working hip down during battements jetés and grandes battements. This is accomplished quite easily if you think of the technique as the continuation of a tendu and keep the toes on the floor for as long as possible.
- My passé relevé needs some work: Engaging the core, keeping knees straight and pushing off the floor all need to happen for it to work. And then there’s the brilliant, I-should’ve-thought-of-that-myself suggestion from Birdie: If you keep falling backwards out of the passé, lean slightly forward instead. Falling forward is easier and eventually you’ll be able to find balance this way.
- Maintaining proper turnout during pliés – I need to remember to keep my knees over my toes. Which requires the mythical turnout muscles of the hip.
- Keeping the pelvis straight during tendus requires core engagement. Simply not consciously moving it doesn’t work. (I tried…)
- In ballet, it doesn’t only matter what you do, but also how you do it. This includes fluidity of movement during port-de-bras, pliés, fondus etc. I’m sure I can manage the plié exercises at the barre without the jerky stop-motion effect eventually.
- And finally, my personal nemesis: tendus (and everything else, really) to the side should go where your toes are pointing. And not exactly 90° out to the side. Unless of course that’s where your toes are pointing. Ahem.
Oh, and remember the «No Eyebrows» story? Well, eyebrows are still not a part of ballet. Eyeballs, however, are. In a curious insight into this perfectionist world, Birdie explained to us that we should always consciously keep our pupils centered within the eye. Because if you follow your hand with your eyes in port-de-bras, but forget to bring the rest of your head along, at least half of the audience will be presented with the whites of your eyes only. Which is slightly creepy.
Even though the eyeball control will probably take some years to work out, I feel I improved somewhat, or at least didn’t lose any of my previous skill, as modest as it was. So: Thank you, Birdie!
I wonder if M. will notice the difference between the two of us who went to the summer class and the others who didn’t? Also, do I have to think of a symbolic animal for M. too? Hmm.