Birdie is really laying down the law in ballet class. While our class is generally hard-working, very few people are willing to stand in the front. This behaviour is pretty common in beginner dance classes, university lectures and certain conferences. But Birdie decided she wasn’t going to tolerate it in her class.
Last Thursday, she used masking tape to draw a long line across the studio, about a metre off the back wall (the terrible apricot-coloured one). During center, no one may dance behind this line. Not even our one very shy girl, whom Birdie sweetly but firmly asked to come in front of the line a couple of times during class.
It’s not a bad idea actually. The back wall serves as our central bag storage area and dancing too close to it is an actual safety hazard. Plus, the corridor created thusly gives you a convenient, dancer-free space to traipse back into position when working in groups.
The pace Birdie set last week continued. She is still evaluating our skill levels and will frequently ask us whether we’ve done glissades / pas de basque / grand jeté / whatever before. To this question, I usually reply with ‘yes’ while most others simultaneously reply with ‘no’, mostly because the French names are not easy to remember if you don’t spend way too much time reading and writing about them. Most people recognize the technique once it’s shown.
My favourite thing about Birdie’s class is that we finally have time for all parts of center. With Amy, we never got to the allegro, but Birdie sets a very good pace and squeezes in a good amount of everything – in such a way that it doesn’t even feel squeezed. I particularly liked last week’s adagio, except for the fact that it started with a grand plié. In a complete lack of foresight, I had selected the day before as the day I would finally resume doing pistol squats and I really wasn’t feeling the pliés after that.
Birdie’s corrections are still on point and, most importantly, tailored to the needs of each student. For example, she corrected the line of my arms in second position during an exercise, but ignored the arms of another girl who was still figuring out the legs. This is probably the biggest advantage of a small class: the teacher can give much more time and attention to each individual student.
And she can always see when you’re dancing behind the line.