Monday, January 19, 2015

Pointe!!! And Back to Class.

I've been sick for quite a while now, so haven't really been to class (any of them, ballet, other movement, etc).  But I was feeling better yesterday, so decided to start off this week with a bang!

But first I should give you my background ballet and pointe story.  I had tried to get into ballet classes several years ago, but it never really clicked.  I then got super into my other movement study, and have been training intensively in that for the past (almost) three years.  This past summer, the studio / company I train other movement with added a weekly ballet class by FBT (friend ballet teacher).  And all of a sudden, it REALLY clicked.

It may have been because I have much more body awareness than before, and more flexibility and strength.  It may have been because FBT is a fantastic teacher (she is).  Regardless of why, I found myself really loving ballet, which led me to taking other classes regularly in other studios, going to watch ballets, reading ballet books and forums, and all that lovely adult beginner stuff.

My other movement studio switched the teacher for their weekly ballet class, but FBT has always been willing to help me with things when I ask.  Toward the end of 2014, she told me that she thought I could do pointe.  I of course protested.  At that point I had been doing ballet regularly for less than a year, and not even as regularly as I wanted to. All of the blogs and forums I read always warn about the dangers of going on pointe too early.

FBT told me that I had a lot of body awareness and strength, and that my body had a lot of natural facility as well (what???).   So she had me go over to her house and tested my balance and foot and ankle strength.  Then she had me try on her pointe shoes, and I was able to get over the box and do some basic things at the barre.

A few weeks ago, she went with me to get fitted for my pointe shoes.  I was super nervous getting fitted, because I kept thinking they were going to throw me out for being an imposter!  FBT didn't say anything, but the fitter wound up putting me in the same shoes as her's (Grishko 2007s), except hers are the professional version and mine have a super soft shank.  It turns out my feet are really asymmetrical.  I always knew my right foot was bigger because of the way shoes fit, but I thought it was slightly longer.  The fitter pointed out that it was in fact much wider!  She didn't want to sell me two different shoes because I'm a beginner and that's expensive, so I got two different pads instead.

Then I was sick, which sucked, but gave me plenty of time to sew my shoes in bed.  Which brings us back to the present.

Yesterday I had my first real pointe (semi) private with FBT.  My other friend that was a dance major in college but never did pointe (she obviously did ballet, but  more modern) took it with me.  Again, I was nervous that they were going to realize that I was an IMPOSTER and make me leave, but I was actually able to keep up just fine.

We did a thorough warm up for our feet (plies, tendues, temps lié), and then moved on to relevés.  We did one set with plié, sixteen on two feet, eight on right, eight on left.  Then we did it all again as a rise (without plié).  The first set was fine, because we often do that in my usual class with my regular teacher.  My legs were really feeling it in the second set, and I had to go a bit slower on the one legged ones to get my weight properly placed, but I got through it!

Then it was time for pointe.  We spent some time just making sure our ribbons and elastics were properly placed, and having FBT work on our shoes.  As mentioned, my left soft is more slender and smaller than my right, so she had to flatten the box on that side some more.  Then we worked in parallel, going through plie, demi-pointe, to pointe and reversing.  Then relevés in first.  Then my friend and I took some pictures of our feet for reference, and our private was over.

I talked with FBT on our way to the subway, and she said that my right was very good and mostly over the box, but my left was weaker.  It was interesting that I felt like I was fighting my shoes a bit more than when I first went on pointe in her shoes, which were way more broken in.  Going through demi in the shoes is a lot of work right now.

Then I went to other movement and trained for about two hours.  I got a nice compliment on one of my sequences.  Went home and re-sewed my elastics tighter.  Slept and woke up pretty sore in my legs.  But because I love pain or something, went to ballet class with my regular teacher this afternoon.  Usually I go at night on Monday's, but I took advantage of my day off.

I was allowed to be an end of the barre girl for the newer beginners to follow!  Although I was a bit tired and sore, I felt really good in class today.  I feel like being en pointe really teaches you to pull up, and I was able to maintain that feeling for most of class.  Also I'm much more aware of engaging my inner thighs.  There were a few times where my teacher was coming over and I corrected myself on this engagement and she just nodded instead of correcting me.  I also felt way more comfortable in my port de bras.  Finally, I feel like I made a breakthrough in my jumps across the room.  We did sauté arabesques, and I just told myself to focus on stretching my legs and feet and covering as much space as possible.  I was able to get across in four jumps, and got a "better!" from my teacher.

I did get corrected on tendu on my left.  It is just so much harder to maintain my turnout on that side.  Like I have correct my feet in first when closing on the left side.  I don't have that problem on my right at all :(  She just stood by me saying, lead with the toes (closing from front), toes, toes, toes!  This month has been learning about just how much my left side is weaker and more messed up (hip flexor and back wise).  My left foot is prettier though, because it is more slender and more flexible, so there's that.

Tired now, but happy.  I am about to go away on vacation on a sunny beachy island for my birthday, but am resolving to do my relevé exercises everyday.  And handstands on the beach.

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