Modern Contemporary: ROFL

When I was announcing my decision to join Beans’ Friday Modern Contemporary class to all and sundry before the holidays, everyone from her class was very supportive, but warned me that Beans does a lot of floorwork. Great, I thought. I like floorwork. I’m heckin’ good at floorwork. Last Friday, I had my first actual class with Beans and one of those statements was proven wrong. Can you guess which one?

I have always enjoyed floorwork for some reason, even though it leaves me with a nice assortment bruises in exciting places. Being good at floorwork, however, is very relative. Like, relatively to some people in Monday class who haven’t been dancing that long and have therefore hardly been exposed to any floorwork, sure, I’m good. Relatively to Beans’ class, that has been doing that stuff for at least a year… yeah, not so much. The fact that there was not a single new student in class except me didn’t help.

I was insanely grateful for Mr. Adorable’s Summer of Strength Exercises as well as the ones I did on my own. Turns out floorwork is bloody hard if you do enough of it. And we did enough: We started out on the floor and spent more than half the class there! The great thing about this class is that it is an hour and fifteen minutes long, as opposed to Monday’s hour-long class, so you really have time to go into every combination.

After the lengthy warm-up floorwork combo, we did strength and stretching, followed by more floorwork travelling across the studio and an upright travelling combination with insane amount of pliés. I’m not sure what you would properly call such combos in English, but we do them in almost every class. As opposed to choreographies where you stay roughly in one place (or at least move in different directions) and learn a longer piece, these combos are made to cover ground, so they are done across the studio. Some of my teachers call them «diagonals». They are comprised of various steps, turns and jumps, or, in the case of floorwork, rolls, slides and floor jumps. What do your teachers call these?

Finally, we did the first steps of our new choreography, which starts off with a jump and, unsurprisingly, goes straight into more floorwork. This is where the L in ROFL comes in. We were supposed to do an acrobatic-looking transition through a shoulder stand and quickly discovered that this was much harder than it looked and that our first attempts looked and sounded like so many half-dead fish flopping about.

Exactly what I felt like during all the floorwork.

Modern dance is much harder to write about than ballet, because the techniques are far less codified and different teachers often call them different names. The best I can do to describe what we did is: lying on your side in a contraction – pushing up into a one-shoulder stand – bending your back and lowering your legs one by one backwards into the bridge. It was fun, challenging floorwork – exactly what I joined this class for. My shoulder is super-bruised, but that was to be expected.

I will definitely need to keep up the strength cross-training if I ever want to think I’m good at floorwork again.

My recovering adductors also found the class quite challenging, but at least the tendon had no opinion on the matter. The sore muscles are easily relieved with rest and foam rolling. After Monday’s modern I was beginning to think I don’t need all the additional physiotherapy. I stand corrected.

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