This morning's class was a killer. I whine and moan here semi-seriously, but I was hearing groans and muttering from my classmates from about half way through barre onward. We may need to stage an intervention and substitute decaf for our instructor's regular morning coffee.
It's not that she's really asking us to do anything terribly difficult, but it becomes difficult when done with the speed or repetition she wants. For example, she's rightly complained about our petit battements and frappé with beats. Concluding that part of the problem is trying to do the motion while holding a pointed foot, she came up with a new barre exercise. Starting with the working foot in tendu a la seconde, you flex the foot and with a straight leg and flexed foot you rapidly close to fifth in front then fifth in back then out to tendu a la seconde again. It's a good exercise; the problem is the speed with which this has to be done to keep up with the music. The first time we did this I didn't really follow the pattern, and I certainly couldn't get my feet to follow it. The second class where this showed up I could follow the pattern but not keep up with the music, and I kept catching my heel on the floor. After practicing on my own at about half speed for a while I've been able to develop enough muscle memory that I can now keep up most of the time, but it's an effort. Those who are just learning the exercise are having real trouble with it, which seems to frustrate our instructor.
We also did a lot of developpés and fondues and other hip flexor killers, followed by a bunch of relevés in parallel. The latter seems to really bother the women, though I don't find it all that tough despite outweighing most of them by 40 pounds or more. By the end of barre everyone seemed to be hurting in one way or another.
Tuesday evening we learned a new center combination. It's mostly a combination of chassés and sauté arabesques. For no reason I can see, other than that it was introduced at the very end of class, my brain kept trying to make the combination more complex than it was. Eventually I stopped thinking about it and just did it, and discovered that it's a simple sequence. Of course it showed up again today. I'm still having a bit of trouble remembering where the arms go, but the feet seem to be working pretty well. I really don't understand why my brain keeps trying to make simple things complex.
My balance continues to improve, though slowly. During barre I was able to hold a attitude derriere with both hands in high fifth for a bit, something I hadn't tried before, and arabesque with both hands off the barre for a surprisingly long time. What I don't do well is any position which requires my upper body to be aligned with my standing leg. Part of this is that I spend most of my life sitting, and there's tension in my abdomen and the fronts of my hips when standing fully erect. We've started to do another new exercise, which is a series of three passé relevés with a pirouette en dedans thrown in. I'm finding that I'm consistently off-balance during these fast transitions. I'm hoping to find time to practice this sequence on my own.
After all this, I met with a friend and went walking on the C&O Canal towpath. It's nominally closed due to the government shutdown, but the weather was warm and sunny today (high temp of about 92F/33C) and most people ignored the "Closed" signs. We hiked about 2.5 miles (4 km) down the towpath before turning around. It was a lot of fun, but between that and the killer class I'm sore in a bunch of places. I finally resorted to and ice pack on my adductors, hip flexors and glutes, with an ibuprofen and Gatorade chaser for good measure.
Time to go to bed -- I have another class in the morning.