Saturday, December 20, 2014

Busy before the holidays

Class today wasn't as big as last week, but it was still crowded. I have this odd tightness in my shins, under the knee and medial to the tibia, that's been annoying me when I walk up stairs or plié. I ended up sitting out one of the more complex center exercises and the warm-up jumps. Otherwise it was a pretty good class.

A few classes ago we were introduced to fouetté turns. Not the tombé-battement-twist jump I've done since the 1980s, but the proper turn similar to a pirouette. Développé avant to demi-plié, rotate the leg en dehor to seconde, then pull it in to retiré relevé and rotate. At first it felt very awkward. As the instructor says, it requires no force, only coordination; I have plenty of force but the coordination is somewhat lacking on this one. But we keep at it.

Today we ended class with a relatively short combo: from fifth, tendu to second then fourth with a demi-plié. Pirouette en dehor ending in a demi-plié avant, straight into the fouetté. Fall into a balancé to the side, other side, front, back, then coupé, tombé, pas de bourrée, pirouette en dehor to fourth, and again to fifth. Repeat back and fourth a total of four times.

With so many of us in one room we broke into three groups, and I went with the second group. I seriously botched the first attempts at the fouetté. The second time through I was feeling better about it, and when the instructor invited anyone who wanted to try it again to go after the third group finished their second attempt, I jumped onto the floor. I guess third time is a charm, because I actually managed the whole sequence, fouetté and all. Score!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

A really BIG shew

Does anyone remember Ed Sullivan?

I showed up for class this morning, took my normal spot at the barre a few minutes early, and watched the others wander in. And they kept wandering in until there were 33 of us. That's two on each side of every portable barre, and the rest along the sides of the room. I don't recall the he last time I was in a class that big.

And there were two other men in the class. The one I could see during barre followed the basic outline of the exercises, but he seemed to be off in his own little world. As we started center work I realized that neither of these guys should have been in our Beginner II class — not when they're doing double pirouettes like they're nothing. And the occasional triple en dedans. Sheesh.

After class I chatted with them, opening by saying, "so I'm guessing you aren't just moving up from Beginner I". Not even close. They are performing in The Nutcracker this afternoon and this evening in a nearby town, and this class was their warmup. That's the sort of people I meet at this place.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Raleigh School of Ballet

I spent last week on business in Raleigh, NC. I try to get to a ballet class or two during the week even when I'm traveling, so I spent some time trying to find a suitable studio.

Kaija suggested two schools, but neither had classes at times I could make. Finally I decided to try the Raleigh School of Ballet.
I dropped in on the Tuesday night "Ballet Level 2" class. The facility has three separate classrooms, each with heat-sealed Marley laid over a sprung floor. Music is provided via CD players with speed adjustment controls and nice-sounding speakers, rather than the live pianists I've become used to. There is a proper, if tiny, changing room for men with an attached bathroom; I think it's safe to presume the women have a larger facility. There is parking on-site, which was quite crowded when I arrived due to kids classes that were about to let out.

I was told the average size of this class was about 14, but that night there were eight of us. Supposedly there is a male student who takes this class fairly regularly, but he wasn't in attendance. This night I got to try both of the smaller of the three classrooms because the CD player in the first room died part way through barre. Neither was as big as the classrooms at either Ballet San Jose or back home, and the center work involved some running back in the middle. Still, I enjoyed the class, and would have taken another class Thursday night except I had to work late.

Over all I was quite pleased with the place except for one thing: their prices. Their single class rate of $25 is quite a bit higher than others in the area, and $5 more than I'm paying in the Washington, DC, suburbs. They do offer discounts if you're willing to pre-pay for a block, but their 6-class rate is still $1 more per class than the just-raised 10-class rate I'm paying now, and is only good for 5 months rather than a full year. I'm not sure how they justify these rates, but they don't seem to be lacking for students.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Concert

Friday evening I attended a performance of the Suzanne Farrell Ballet. The first piece was Balanchine's one-act version of "Swan Lake" at the Kennedy Center. I didn't recognize the other pieces on the program, other than that the second and third were also Balanchine's, and the fourth was by Jerome Robbins.

I enjoyed "Swan Lake", though I'm really looking forward to TWB's production with Misty Copeland. The second and third pieces were modern, with atonal music that sounded like the soundtrack to a 1970's detective TV show. Even my girlfriend, who prefers modern to classical ballet, wasn't terribly excited by the piece, though it was technically well-performed.

The fourth and final piece was Robbins's "The Concert". I hadn't had a chance to read the notes on it in the program, so I had no idea what to expect. I soon realized that this was a comedy composed of shorter scenes. All of the scenes were fun and had me and many others laughing out loud. But one scene had me in stitches, because it reminded me of so many dance classes where everyone is going one way except one who is going the other. At the end one dancer has the wrong arms, and slowly corrects it as the others hold their positions. I could hear the voice of one of my instructors saying, "Whatever you're doing, commit to it. Don't look around and second-guess your decision."

Monday, November 10, 2014

Classes while traveling?

Sorry about the rare updates. I used to write most of them on my phone using Bloggeroid, but for some reason I haven't been able to get them to post unless I have a WiFi connection. If I try using the cellular data connection, everything goes poof!

I've been getting to class a bit less regularly, but for good causes. Like an absolutely killer Halloween party only a 3.5 hour drive from home. No way to get to a weekend class when you're two states away late on a Saturday night. Still, I've managed to improve in some areas. It's becoming more common, though not yet routine, to be able to hold my balance in passé relevé on demi-pointe for longer and longer; Sunday I held it for several measures (not beats — MEASURES). I even got a called out by name for it! Woot! If I'd managed decent turns later in class I'd be even more excited.

Speaking of turns, last Tuesday's class is worthy of noting. We were doing a sequence which alternated piqué and soutenu turns, and the instructor wasn't happy with us. She felt we were sort-of going through the motions, rather than dancing with energy. I decided to really attack the combination while paying attention to spotting. Based on the whoop and compliment from the instructor, I must have done pretty well. Unfortunately that burned a lot of energy, and by the last exercise in class I was wiped out.

While I have your attention... does anyone have a recommendation for adult drop-in ballet classes in the Raleigh, Durham, or RTP area of North Carolina? It seems I may spend a few weeks there in the next few months.

How about the Boston suburbs out near I-495 nearish Rt 2? I guess I could trek into Boston proper for class, if it starts late enough in the evening.