Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A twofer

Last night I went to the Beginner II class. I did OK, but the instructor keeps changing up the sequences which keeps things mentally challenging. By the end of class I'm mental Jello and the various sequences run together. A case in point: I stayed a bit late to practice the last sequence, and found myself confused as to which way the turn went. When I asked I got the most baffled expression out of the instructor, as she pointed out that there wasn't a turn in that sequence. Oh. Right.

One of the new (to me) steps last night was the step-over piqué turn, more properly called a "piqué tours en dehors". Or "lame duck turns", I'm told. We did one combination that had two of these following two pirouettes (with a couple of linking steps between). I tried my best to emulate the all-too-brief demo the instructor did, but really couldn't keep up with the tempo.

Early this evening I found myself at loose ends, so I changed into dance gear and headed down to take the Beginner I class. It's the same instructor, and I figured I'd be able to work on the finer points of some of the same steps. Sure enough, we got introduced to lame duck turns. Only this time it wasn't at the end of a rapid-fire combination, it was taught in bite-sized chunks with lots of practice. So THAT'S how it works!

I have to say that I was amazed at how slowly-paced tonight's class was compared to last night's. It hasn't been that long since I was taking this class regularly. Based on the other students' reactions, I don't think they thought it was particularly slow. It's amazing how rapidly my perceptions are changing.

The part that amazes me is the difference in my turns from last night to tonight's. Last night I attempted the pirouettes and basically walked through the piqués. Tonight, at a slower pace and without the pirouettes, I could figure out the piqués and finished the exercise by doing a series of them across the room with a reasonable posture and spotting. I got the feeling that the other students were impressed, but my own expectations have been reset to the B-II standards. By those, I'm still struggling to keep my head above water. But it certainly was nice to be able to figure out the new steps at a slower pace without feeling like I'm holding back the rest of the class.

I wonder if my body will tolerate taking back-to-back (Tue/Wed) classes on a regular basis?


  1. I just wanted to let you know how much I'm enjoying your blog. I started ballet last year at 34 and am having similar struggles. I have no dance background.. I just woke up one morning and I was obsessed with it.

    (edited for a spelling error :)

    1. Yes, it is rather addictive, isn't it!

      I'm of the opinion that those people who say that children learn more easily than adults are full of it. I think the difference is that kids try and don't worry about how good it is, while adults compare themselves to Baryshnikov or Jaffe and get discouraged. Who wouldn't?

      Your struggles to learn are totally normal. The only one you should compare your progress against is yourself six months or a year ago. If you're progressing against that measure celebrate it. That's one of the reasons I keep this blog -- so I can go back and see how far I've come instead of how far I have to go.

      Out of curiosity, what triggered your obsession? I've been told that "Black Swan" caused an influx of new students. Did you see something on TV? Pick up a new book?

  2. Although I'm not progressing as fast as I would like, I did lose all my pregnancy pounds and I'm in better shape and more flexible than I have been since high school. So that makes me happy.

    Ballet was one of those things I quit after a couple of months when I was a kid (like violin, gymnastics... etc.) I have always regretted it. I guess it never occurred to me that anyone over the age of 10 could start ballet until I heard that there are 3 schools in Santa Fe that offer adult classes. How could I not take advantage of that? :)

    I liked the movie Black Swan, but it doesn't make ballet seem very appealing. Natalie Portman is in town doing a movie right now, and I'm half-expecting that she'll show up at a class one day. That would be something!


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