En De-What?

On Thursday, the director of the «Movement and Sports» department of the adult education school where I take ballet came to us before class to clear up some confusion about which classes would take place when and would be taught by whom. My Thursday 19:30 class will remain untouched but will be taught by Birdie starting December, as I already knew. We seized the opportunity to ask the director to make the class fifteen minutes longer starting next semester and she promised she’d consider it if Birdie was up for it.

Because of all the chit-chat, our actual ballet class was cut a bit shorter than usual, so our center work was limited to one exercise only: pirouettes. Well, half-pirouettes at any rate. We used to do pirouettes with M. all the time, and while landing is still a matter of luck, we were fairly acceptable turners for our level.

Not so on Thursday. We completely disintegrated and several people started moaning to various degrees about not understanding anything anymore. I had my share of struggles, barely making a half-turn at first. Weird, I thought. It’s not like this is a particularly hard exercise.

And then it dawned on me. Thanks to you ballet blogging people, I knew the distinction between pirouettes en dehors (outward) and en dedans (inward). M. used to practice en dedans with us. The exercises Amy gave us were en dehors, explaining both our ineptitude and our confusion. Amy was surprised when I told her, saying that our old exercise, en dedans pirouettes from fourth, was actually much harder. But we had spent a considerable amount of time practicing them.

Clearing that up took some time, so it was already past the time the class usually ends when Amy asked us whether we wanted to do the exercise again or call it a day. She was very impressed when we all voted to do it again. But that’s adult ballet students for you: what we lack in youth and mobility, we make up for in drive and hard work. By the end of that exercise, the turns worked, although tentatively. I’m sure they’ll be much better next week.

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