Walk Like A Ballerina

When I was only just starting out in ballet, M. showed us an adagio combination that included two simple walking steps. Except they were not: We watched M. glide elegantly across the floor, but followed in a waddle. I had ascribed this lack of succes to our inexperience.

Now it turns out that there is much more to it. Last week, M. actually taught us how to do the step properly. It has two important components: your feet have to be turned out (duh, it’s ballet) and you have to articulate your foot from the toes to the heel when stepping on it, while keeping your knees perfectly straight as soon as the toes touch down. The turnout does lovely things to your hip adductors and the straight knee really goes in for the quadriceps.

For those not of the ballet persuasion: «straight knee» in ballet doesn’t mean what you think it means. Not only does your knee have to be not bent (as per the standard definition of «straight»), you also have to visibly pull up your knee cap. Pulling up your kneecap while trying to step onto the leg in question is much more difficult than it seems. Hence the quadriceps involvement.

Afterwards, we did some lovely combinations involving the balancé, one of the first steps M. taught us back in spring. I had joined the group after the step was explained and  somehow failed to get it ever since. Last week, we moved on from side-to-side balancé to front-to-back balancé, which was entirely too confusing. Steeling myself for the «How do you not get this step yet» glares, I told M. that I had no idea what I was doing and whether she could possibly explain the bloody thing again.

And then several other people were like, «Yes, please!» and «I was afraid to ask because I thought I was the only one not up to speed on this» and M. let the whole class skip jumps and just practice balancé for the rest of the lesson. I definitely understand it now!

M. calls it «the waltz», by the way. This confused me at first, because I assumed it to be synonymous with pas-de-valse. A Google search tells me this choice of vocabulary is not uncommon for a German-speaking environment. Maybe it’s to avoid confusion with balance, which is pronounced the French way hereabouts?

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