Thursday, October 11, 2012

Getting serious

I'm slowly coming to the realization that I need to get serious about working out between classes, or else drop the Wednesday night class.

A pro-dancer friend of mine has been badgering encouraging me to do this for some time. Her argument is that I'm going to get hurt (physically), but I'm pretty good about knowing my limits. As long as I don't take a two-week break between classes, I feel tired but otherwise good after class.

No, the reason is the difference in expectation between the old and new places. At the old place we do a fairly consistent 20-minute barre routine, 10 minutes or so of barre stretches, and 20 minutes in the center. There is a mix of pliés and relevés, balance work, and some turns. A good workout, but not strenuous.

For comparison, I'll try to reconstruct last night's class as best I can. We started at the barre, of course, with a mix of demi-pliés, relevés, and foot and ankle stretches. At the end of each repetition we did upper body and core stretches to the side, up and over to the other side, then forward or back, with port de bras. We received corrections and compliments on hand position and focus points. This was followed by a series of three grand-pliés in first, second, fourth (demi), and fifth, with relevés at the end of each. On both sides, of course.

Next came tendus. Eight to the right, eight to the left, all closing to a fully-crossed fifth. Four to the left, four to the right, closing to first. Two to the right, two to the left. Right, left, right, left. Then repeat the entire sequence starting on the left. Repeat all of that at twice the tempo. After that things get a bit blurry in my mind. There was a sequence that included tendus, demi-pliés and rond de jambes. Another long sequence of passé relevés. Some tendu à la seconde, demi-plié, passé relevé, close in fifth, with an attempt at a full turn en dehors every fourth repetition. Slow développés en croix on demi-pointe, including a flat-back forward bend while in sous sus. I honestly feel like we spent about a quarter of this in demi-pointe, a lot of that on one foot.

There were some deliberate breaks in this, with suggestions for calf stretches and the like, so it wasn't continuous frenetic movement. That said, we were moving for most of the 45 minutes that elapsed to this point. Most of the catching of breath took place while our teacher demonstrated the next sequence.

With about 15 minutes left in class we moved to the center. We did three glissades to the right, a changment, three glissades to the left, a changment. Back and forth. The same thing with pas de chat, during which I learned I've been doing it wrong. After each foot rises, our teacher wants it to end in what I believe is properly termed retiré devant before lowering. Most of us were keeping the back foot to the rear. I don't know if this differs from style to style; most of my instructors have been ABT trained, but this one has a RAD background.

As you can see, this is a much more intense class, both from the physical demands and the level of precision requested. I say "requested" rather than "demanded", because our teacher is clearly willing to make allowances for individual capabilities. For example, the other guy in the class seems totally unable to point his feet. His grand battement looks like a high school cheerleader's, with the toes fully flexed. He even bends toward his foot, as if he wants to reach out with his hand and touch his toes. Same flexing on a sauté or changement. He was in this same teacher's class last winter, and I suspect she's accepted that this is all she's going to get out of him because she never says anything about it to him.

Oh, wait, I had a point to make. As much as I'm enjoying the extra challenge, the only way I'm going to get better is to practice on my own. I'm not getting cramps in my legs anymore, but I don't have the strength to spend minutes or more in demi-pointe on one leg. I'm ending class drenched in sweat. I'd like to lose the extra weight I'm carrying. And since we're doing almost no barre stretches in this class, I need something to help gain some flexibility.

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