Amy said something in ballet class a while ago that’s been making me think. It was something along the lines of «Ballet is more than just the positions. Dancing takes place in between.»
She was encouraging us to put a little individuality into our port-de-bras. I realise that proper ballet beginners are supposed to learn the technique first, but I doubt anyone will mind an adult class enjoying themselves occasionally. Amy has a completely different teaching style from Bee. As the lovely Swiss saying goes, «a small world will be mad about this».
When you think about it, it’s fairly obvious. What good is a perfect arabesque if you proceed to slump out of it? The beautiful line of your arms in fifth is as naught if you then transition to second through «plucked chicken pose». That’s also the reason that our ballet teachers have been slowly trying to wean us off draping ourselves over the barre after every exercise like gravity is just too much to bear.
It makes sense to learn the positions first, since they are essential in ballet. But it wouldn’t hurt to remind myself of the transitions every once in a while. Amy has been doing a great job: she tells us to keep our movements fluid and not to forget to express and enjoy ourselves. The fact that she does a brief warm-up before the pliés and ends the class with a little port-de-bras, stretching and reverence routine helps me get into my body and feel the dancing part of ballet much more consciously.
Incidentally, this consciousness of your body and its movement as well as the room you’re in and the people you’re with is one of the things I love about modern and really miss in jazz class. Sure, once you get used to this mindfulness (buzzword alert!) in one class, you can practice it yourself in all the others. But I feel like it makes for a much better experience if the teacher starts the class by encouraging people to be mindful of their bodies and surroundings. It certainly helps me to feel like I’m dancing! Then again, I have three other dance classes for that. I’ll settle for technique in ballet.