Monday, September 9, 2013

Beginner two-and-three-quarters

With apologies to Harry Potter fans everywhere...

I did get to Wednesday evening's class. Half the number of students as the preceding evening, which allowed our instructor to provide more individual attention. That's a good thing.

Saturday morning's class again was crowded, though I didn't make a count. Challenging as usual, I walked out after class with my shirt absolutely dripping. My initial thought was to change and have lunch, as I had an appointment in the area a few hours later, but I decided to sample the "Stretch" class instead.

There's a half hour break between the two, and I ended up in a conversation with one of the regulars from the Saturday morning class. She's been taking this instructor's Beginner II class for quite some time, and it had been several years before she started feeling comfortable in it. When I said, "I usually describe it as 'Beginner two and a half'" she shook her head. She's taken the Advanced Beginner classes and said that about the only difference between the two is that in AB they expect you to get the combination from description, rather than from demonstration. "It's closer to 'two and three quarters'" she thought.

She then asked me if I'd taken the Beginner II class taught by the other instructor who teaches it. I said I hadn't, but planned to take it Sunday morning. She thought that was a good idea, saying it was more of what she thought of as a Beginner II level.

Next came the Stretch class. It's basically Yoga using ballet terms. Instead of "Pyramid pose" she said "parallel fourth, then flat-back forward". Another pose whose name I missed entirely was a dead ringer for "downward dog". I don't know what the Yoga term for "pretzel" is, but it's pretty descriptive. I've never been one of those flexy-bendy people but the instructor complimented me on following along well. Although it sucks up a good chunk of the early afternoon I think I'll try to make one of the weekend stretch classes on a regular basis. The one thing I want to do differently is to bring a change of clothes. I really need to change out of the wet ballet gear in the break between classes.

Sunday morning came all too soon and I made the 25-mile drive yet again. I'd actually taken this class twice before (described here and here), but never with the regular instructor. There were about a dozen students. The pace was slow and deliberate, almost at the pace of the Wednesday evening Beginner I class, but a bit more complex and more focus on form. This instructor calls out people by name for the errors they make, gently describing the error and how it should be corrected. Somehow she does it in a way that is both instructive and inoffensive. I got dinged for how I hold the barre, of all things. I was basically allowing the heel of my hand to just touch the barre as a reference point, which avoids my unconscious tendency to grip it and use it for balance. She wants the hand flat on top of it with the thumb curled under it. I seem to recall getting a similar comment from the director of another school -- a retired principal dancer with a local professional company -- so I guess I should take the correction.

We ended up using 60 minutes of the 90 minute class on barre. I am not used to holding my arms in second that long, and my shoulders were sore long before then. I did ok in center work, though my brain kept trying to add steps in the middle of combinations. We did everything several times, which allowed me time to figure out most of what I was doing wrong. When class was over my shirt was wet in spots, but not the overall dripping wet of the Saturday classes. This is definitely more what I expected of a Beginner II class, and I think that other student was right when she said that what I'd been going to was more like a Beginner III level. I think I'll try to get to both classes if I can.


  1. How encouraging ... and that you can hit all these classes is amazing. I so can't attend any of our local company classes. I'm just grateful I'm able to go to ANY class at this point! Loved the entry. Good for you!

    1. There's a simple reason I can make all these classes: I have no social life. ;-)


Comments are encouraged! It doesn't matter whether you're a total newbie asking a question or a professional offering advice; I want to hear from you.

That said, Blogger sometimes quarantines comments for reasons I can't explain. If your comment doesn't show up immediately it may be waiting for approval. I'll approve almost anything relevant, but I have to notice it first! Spam will be trashed, of course.