I Need Some Speed

Last weeks ballet and yesterdays jazz class have both been marred by the same thing: my lack of speed in certain moves. In one instance, the culprits were my frappés, in the other, my core isolations.

As the only ballet move (at least in the beginner’s repertoire) that requires you to flex the ankle of the working leg, frappés are universally considered to be «a bitch». My class never meets them with much excitement. I actually like them when done slowly, and can manage a little more tempo devant and de côté without falling over. Frappés derrières, however, have been invented solely to make me suffer. At low speeds, they just look weird. At higher speeds, my brain gives up all conscious control and just makes my leg jerk around randomly.

The same thing happens in core isolations we do in jazz. With her very varied dance background, Y. makes us do latin- and afro-type isolations. You clasp your hands in front of your chest, keeing your arms rounded. Then you lift your ribcage towards your hands and let it sink back down again. It’s a fairly small movement that doesn’t involve either shoulders or hips (hence isolation). Then she accelerates that to several reps per second.

When I first started jazz, I couldn’t do this move at all. It took some surrepticious practicing in my everyday life, especially in bed before sleep, to learn to isolate the relevant muscles. (Which muscles are those, anyway? Something tells me the erector spinae and the rectus abdominis are in on this.) By now, I can do it alright, but I cannot do it fast. Whenever Y. insists on double speed, my body stops performing nice isolations and starts performing «A Fish Being Electrocuted». Which honestly isn’t a piece anyone wants to see.

These latin isolations and the sexy hip swings are the only thing that I really don’t like about Y.’s class. And if I’m honest, I have to admit that I don’t like them because I suck at them. Googling this issue has not provided me with an easy excuse (i.e. «some people can never learn this»), or even with a trick to get better quickly (i.e. «you just have to sacrifice a black rooster at a crossroads at midnight, silly»). The only solution appears to be to actually practice the moves. *sigh*

Though if you do know of some secret way to get faster fast, I’m all ears!

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