Avengers Assemblé

Are there any ballet-themed superheroes? Widowmaker, the sexy sniper from Overwatch, has a ballet background, but she’s really more of a villain.

Anyhow, I continue to feel like a superhero in ballet class. A few weeks ago, I was all frustrated, and now, I feel like I’m rocking it. Weird.

My higher relevés have a major drawback, as I found out when Birdie had us do frappés on demi-pointe. Different muscles are involved in balancing on a higher relevé, and mine, while finally strong enough to get me up, lack endurance. At some point, I forget all about the frappés because all my concentration goes toward staying up there. I feel like spending time in the company of that theraband is going to be inevitable.

The individual corrections, which make class with Birdie so much fun, continued. She’s currently working on my arms. The past few weeks, she kept reminding me to keep my elbows up. Now that they stay up most of the time, the correction I got most was about turning my palms slightly more towards my face and slightly less towards the floor.

My battements jetés (I believe some styles call them dégagés) also got a correction. Birdie wouldn’t let me get away with half-hearted attempts and instructed me to perform the movement itself faster and with more precision, lingering at the top for the rest of the time. She told us all to raise our legs to 45 degrees, with the very reasonable explanation that doing low jetés is easy if you can do high ones, but not vice versa. I can actually do all this, even without the barre, but only if I concentrate on elongating my standing leg and keeping that core engaged. Which is exactly what Birdie wants us to do.

Turns went much better this time, as they sometimes do. Pirouettes are starting to work out more and more often. For those of us who forget to bring their shoulder (shoulder? what shoulder?), Birdie suggested we touch our navel with our fingers while turning. Lo and behold, I went around almost one and a half turns on the first try. Now, if only I could replicate these results with my arms in their proper place…

As always, just as I was getting entirely too full of myself, Birdie sprung something on us that I sucked at: assemblés! Our old teacher, M., never did teach us assemblés, preferring to focus on jetés. The first few times I tried it, my legs went rogue and did… things. It looked interesting in the mirror, but it certainly wasn’t ballet. Realising I wasn’t the only one who has never done assemblés before, Birdie had us practice at the barre and I did manage a couple among all the uncontrollable twitching and landing like the Hulk. So maybe there’s hope!

The motto of this week’s class was something Birdie said during barre: «Do it if possible. If impossible, do it anyway.»

I’m starting to believe that is the general spirit of ballet.

6 thoughts on “Avengers Assemblé

  1. I’m going to have to borrow the “touch your navel” tip for turns—it sounds like a great teaching aid. It also trains you to bring your arm in just enough—no further than the midline. Overcrossing is definitely a common problem, so having a physical target at the midline is a great idea.

    Congrats on your 1.5, by the way!

    Assemblés are weird. On one hand, they’re a basic part of the ballet toolkit; on the other, they come in nearly infinite varieties. The basic idea is the same, but they physical path to get there can be quite different.

    Possibly the most generally-applicable note I’ve heard on them is to think about closing on the way up.

    That might not, however, be enormously helpful.

    Also, I’m so with you in the extra challenge of having a high demi-pointe. As a dancer, my feet are probably my best asset—but they’re also a pain in the (ahem) assets, to be honest, because it takes longer to get good feet and hyperextended knees to their destinations in petit allegro, which means I have to learn to be faster than people with less-bananaesque feet, and balancing on them requires a lot of physical training. On the other hand, that high demi-pointe, inner you master it, will make you more stable in turns and balances than dancers who can’t get as cleanly over the ball of the foot.

    If you have access to a BOSU-style balance trainer, I highly recommend augmenting your resistance band training with one (it’s not as hard as it looks!). The BOSU platform forces you to really concentrate and feel deeply into your feet, which is a great help.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Do that, it worked great, and not just for me. Now if only I could do the 1,5 reliably and not just when my fingers are touching my navel, the moon is in the seventh house and the wind blows from the west.

    Birdie also mentioned closing straight away! And I have to remember to get that leading foot off the ground immediately, lest I try to inelegantly co-opt it for pushing off.

    Yes, I’m really happy with the way this is turning out (not literally, haha, my turnout is still lacking!) And thanks for the tip! My gym does have a Bosu ball. I do single-leg squats on it, which has been great for the strength in my hips that I now use to do and hold nice high jetés without the barre. I’ve tried using it for my ankles, but so far, I can only balance on it on two legs when in relevé. Balancing on one is often hard enough on flat ground. I’ll keep working on it!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Awesome tip for pirouettes! I’ll have to try it. I can do pretty clean consistent doubles to the left but a single to the right. I’ll have to test if I can get around more using that tip.

    Funny thing about the title…I’ve written “Avengers Assemble’ ” on the mirror when teaching before. hahaha. How funny we both thought that!

    My problem with demi pointe is that my right foot gets much higher than the left. Ugh. I need to work more on the left but I injured my upper left ankle in December and it’s not fully healed yet and don’t know when it will be since I’ve been dancing and teaching and working. Double ugh.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Are you planning on getting physiotheraphy after you’re healed up? It can work wonders! I broke an ankle and had to have my leg in a cast for six weeks, twice in a single year. The mobility in that ankle was all but nonexistent, but physio got it back to normal again.

    We’re not the only ones to think of “Avengers Assemblé” – Jeff (The Dapper Dancer) linked me this on Twitter: https://www.cloudandvictory.com/collections/tops/products/the-assemble-tee
    How cool is that?! 😀

    Like

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