Sunday, December 1, 2013

Changing perceptions

My ballet school was closed Thursday for the US Thanksgiving holiday and I opted out of classes Saturday, so today were my first classes since Tuesday afternoon. Strangely, that now sounds like I've been slacking off, but it was my norm six months ago.

First was the Beginner II class. I left home late so I ended up walking in as the instructor was explaining the first barre exercise. There were more students than we've had recently, and I'm guessing that all the Turkey Day feasting has prompted some folk to come out and burn off some calories. It still feels chilly in the studios, and I made a mental note that I need a sweater or sweatshirt that is lighter than the one I've been using, because I end up too warm with it on and too cold with it off. I was smart enough to wear my WearMoi tights instead of shorts, which I think helps keep my lower legs and ankles warm.

One of the things I really like about this Beginner II class is that it's challenging enough to really hold my attention without being so difficult that I don't have time to work on the finer details. The break seems to have helped my turns (or they cleaned the floors!), but I've lost a bit of the fluidity through the combination we've been working on. I earned a couple of compliments this class, which left me feeling pretty good.

Next came the Advanced Beginner class. I had a couple of hiccups during barre, but no more than anyone else. I'm really working on getting my working leg straight during tendus derièrre, which is one of this instructor's hot buttons; I've heard it said she has X-ray vision for her ability to spot bent legs even through loose-fitting sweatpants.

In the center we're working on several combinations. One goes something like this: during the introductory chords of music, piqué to sous-sus with the right foot front. On the beat, plié in fifth into a pirouette en dehor, chassé to fourth, pause a beat, pirouette en dehor ending with the right foot degagé devant, tombé, pas de bourrée to fourth, pause, another pirouette en dehor to fourth, pirouette en dedans to fifth, piqué with the back (left) foot to sous-sus, and repeat to the other side. I was having trouble with the timing until I realized that because the working foot in the two pirouette en dehor doesn't come around to the back the turn can be a lot slower (or a perfect setup for a double, which I was tempted to attempt but didn't). A few weeks ago I was stuck just getting out of the initial turn from fifth and into the next step, but now I'm working on getting the timing on the two turns from fourth to work out.

Another combination I really wanted to describe has almost completely escaped my mind. I can only remember the first couple of steps and a few in the middle. A memory like a steel... Ooh! Donuts! I really wanted to remember it here because I got a compliment from the instructor on it, which is a first for me in this class. I'll start a new posting and save what I remember as a draft; maybe I can reconstruct it later.

I still bailed out of one of the combinations. I understand the "vocabulary" but can't execute the steps as fast as required yet. Or I can execute them, but not while also keeping track of what comes next. But that's getting better. And while I'm definitely challenged by the AB class, the B2 class seems to be getting easier and easier. And that's why I keep this journal: to remind myself that I am making progress.

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