OMG Technique!

Our ballet class has been missing something and we hadn’t even noticed. Amy is super-nice, but then again, she’s super-nice. Beginner ballet is not supposed to be nice. It’s not supposed to be this totally chill class you just go to to relax a bit. And yet, that’s what it has become.

On Thursday, a sub came to teach us. Amy has a couple of shows coming up on the week-end and probably had to rehearse. The sub that showed up, Bee, turned out to be amazingly adorable. She also switched fluently between almost perfect English and almost perfect Swiss German, but with a clear preference for English, confusing us for a bit. We couldn’t hold it against her, though, because first, we all understand English, and second, she possesses an insane reserve of weapon-grade cheerfulness and class with her is a delight.

Her class also turned out to be wonderfully technical, making it both difficult and rewarding at the same time. At our level, the right technical correction is all it takes to massively improve certain moves. Leaning forward slightly with your upper body while engaging your lower abs and raising your chin might seem counter-intuitive and uncomfortable, until your perpetually wobbly relevé in fifth becomes rock-solid. Then you can’t get enough of it.

After I complained about us being terrible at pirouettes last time, she practiced them with us, and what do you know… suddenly my mom, who last time angrily declared she would never be able to do this, did a full turn. I got my usual correction of not forgetting to bring my shoulder along, but she also told me I was sticking my butt out at the bottom of the preparatory plié. Et voilà, a perfect single just happened! And then it happened again! Technical class is the best!

Mostly, class with Bee can be summed by two phrases: «KEEP YOUR BUTT IN!!!» and «Smiiiiile!», which were part of every exercise. She had us do a little port-de-bras as preparation before every exercise, which always ended with «Smiiiiile!» on the count of eight. This, she demonstrated very convincingly and contagiously, thanking us for smiling every time. She was also super-happy every time we managed a turn or improved something else.

We fell in love with her so much we flocked over after class to ask her where else she teaches. Unfortunately, she mostly teaches kids, but has the occasional workshop. Judging by her Instagram, she also performs quite a bit. And the moral of the story? Teachers are  very different. If you are unhappy with a class, check out another!


8 thoughts on “OMG Technique!

  1. ” Beginner ballet is not supposed to be nice.”

    Yes, this! We’ve had our share of struggle over this at my primary studio, though from the opposite end (at the secondary one, nobody ever breathed a word, they just stopped showing up :P).

    People enter the stream of ballet with no concept of how hard and how alien it is, and either quickly adapt to the rigors of the form or complain about it.

    Fortunately, our instructors pay no mind to the complainers. They are not of the opinion that class should be dumbed down so that people can feel better about themselves without actually learning technique. But every now and then we acquire a persistent complainer who fails to understand that ballet isn’t about being handed a gold star just for showing up, and would rather not be bothered with the minutiae of technique.

    BTW, I love your description of the technical correction for your balance. It sounds like Bee and BW have a great deal in common 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. True! There are usually so many dance classes available that complainers can easily find another. I’m leaving my jazz class behind because most people never want to try anything difficult. That’s alright for them, but I need something else.

    M., our first ballet teacher, didn’t go easy on us. The people who remain in that class now, after almost two years, take all the corrections they can get and make the right choice when asked “Do you want to end the lesson here or do this super-difficult exercise again?” We curse often, but we never give up. 😀

    That correction was magic! It seemed like such a weird thing to do, but the point becomes very evident once you do it.


  3. I think most of our complainers quickly move on to something less technical and more fitness- or fun-oriented as well.

    I think I would enjoy class with your cabal of M.-acolytes! I’m forever throwing everyone under the bus in exactly that way.

    Another cool thing about that correction: excepting had positioning, it’s almost identical to the method for achieving solid handstands!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a great idea! It would be fun to have you as a teacher! Now, you just have to come to Switzerland.
    I didn’t know about that! Putting them on my list. For now, the biggest thing between me and solid handstands is… everything.


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