Thursday, June 12, 2014

Do you know the way to San José?

I decided to drop in on the Ballet San José's adult beginner class this evening. I was quite rushed when I arrived, and barely finished changing in time to help put out the last few portable barres and take a spot at one of them. There were about a dozen students in total, most in their 20's, I'd guess, and two of the others were also men.

Barre began with exercises to limber the ankles and legs, then pliés, and finally a seemingly endless repetition of quick relevés that left my legs aching and twitching. We then did fondues, frappés, petit battements, grande battements, and eventually developpés. All in all a thorough workout, but it consumed about 2/3rds of the 90 minute class.

When we finally did center work, it was a simple adagio of tendu, lift and hold, tendu and close to fifth performed en croix. My balance hasn't completely returned, made worse by the (over)work at the barre and a health touch of jet-lag. I'm just not used to class starting at 9:30pm and ending at 11pm. This was followed by a sequence of plié, sous-sus, plié, passé relevé, plié in fourth, pirouette en dehor to fourth, rise to tendu derrièrre, close to fifth, and repeat. My pirouettes still leave much to be desired, but I'm getting all the way around and not falling over.

We also did a sequence of "lame duck" (en dehor) piqué turns, which are apparently new to most of these folk. Last Sunday I realized that the reason I had so much trouble with piqué turns was I was stepping too far out, which throws me off balance. This instructor pointed out the same problem to another student which reminded me of my realization and after that I did much better.

While I wasn't the best in the class, neither was I the worst. During the piqué turns I found myself going first with the more advanced of the other guys because everyone else declined to go first. I felt pretty confident so it was no great stress to be there.

Once again, though, my biggest complaint is the almost total lack of feedback from the instructor. During pliés she did suggest opening up my second a bit, but other than that I might as well have been invisible. It could be that she doesn't want to criticize someone new to her class and potentially scare them (me) off. Or she might think I'm doing well enough that I don't need specific correction and will just get better with practice. Or, like when I'm struggling in my Advanced Beginner class, it's just easier to not embarrass me with lots of criticism. Whatever the reason, though, I'd really like to know how I'm doing and not be left wondering.

Now it's time to collapse on this nice hotel bed.

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