Thursday, February 26, 2015

Pet Peeve III


When someone is doing a big flexy straddle stretch as a "warm-up"

But her feet are SO SICKLED!


(The horror.)

Previously: Pet Peeve, Pet Peeve II

Monday, February 23, 2015

My Head Goes Where?

There's nothing like taking a new ballet class to show you exactly what you DON'T know.

This blog entry will be very dance journal-y, as I don't want to forget certain things.

The class I took yesterday focused a lot on some things that my normal classes don't.  Including: use of head, épaulement, connecting / travelling steps, chaine turn preparation.

So the use of the head thing has been kind of a mystery (despite many a Google and attempts to copy people in class), but I finally formally learned a thing yesterday!  So when you go en croix for tendu or whatever, when you go front you turn your head towards the leg, when you go side you turn your head straight, when you go back you...incline / tilt...the head.  This actually feels pretty natural and is easy to coordinate.

What did not feel natural or easy to coordinate was épaulement at the center.  We did a very long combination that started croisé and went effacé.  The combination felt very pretty and dance-y, but was a bit confusing to keep track of.  I realize now that I'm so used to being square.  I think I did understand a bit better though what a previous teacher had said about using the movement to help the arms and shoulders move.  (I.e .the weight transfer of a temps lié creates the lift to open in effacé...I don't know, something like that maybe?).  Ironically, we first learned the combination without the arms at all (hands on shoulders), and I just found that bizarre and unnatural.

Speaking of temps lié, the center combination had both temps lié and chassé (but not the jump kind), and I got confused between the two not infrequently (oops).  As I said, there was a focus on connecting / travelling steps in this class.  We also did a lot of pas de bourrée, including with détourné, and the teacher really focused on using the plié in these.   We also did balancé, and I learned (re-learned?) that you are supposed to brush to initiate the movement.

As previously mentioned, turning is hard for me.  I'm pretty used to practicing pirouettes now, even if I don't always get all the way around, but we did a completely different turn exercise, which was supposed to be preparation for chaine turns and practice for spotting in general.  It was: tendu side, plié in second, chassé to sous sous to one side, do it back to the other side, then tendu side, plie in second, half turn to sous sous (bringing the non-leading leg to the front), and then again half-turning the other way.  It was the second half-turn that I found super confusing for some reason.  ::insert shrug emoji here::

The most useful correction I got in class, which BFT also mentioned last week, was not to collapse into the plié when coming down from relevé, keeping the resistance and engagement instead.

I think this would be a good class to add into my rotation.  I feel like it fills in certain gaps that are missing.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Don't Kill the Mouse

Friend Ballet Teacher likes to get us to lift our arches when we're standing by saying that the arch of our foot is the mouse's house, and you can't collapse your foot, or you will kill the mouse.

In our private this week, we were standing in preparation for an exercise and she walks up to me, stares me straight in the eye and says,

"Your mouse is dead."


Thursday, February 19, 2015

The More You Learn, The Harder It Gets?

Isn't it annoying how in some ways the more you learn, the harder it gets?

When I first started, it was like, muscle engagement, what?  I'll just dégagé with hips swinging away!  Hoist my leg up there in développé using my hip flexors without butt or inner thighs?  Why not.

Now that I ostensibly know a bit better, every little thing is harder.  Can't plié without thinking about resistance and using all those under muscles.  Can't sit in my hips instead of pulling up.  Etc., etc., etc,....

And all the mistakes become more noticeable and drive me crazier than ever.  Especially when my mind knows what I'm doing wrong, but my body won't cooperate.

But I wonder if that is what drives people like us to ballet, that the most basic thing can always be better and more perfect.

(Insert Natalie Portman Black Swan I Was Perfect GIF here)

I most keenly feel how imperfect I am when I take privates with FBT (Friend Ballet Teacher).  When you have that much undivided attention, you get corrected on everything.  It's when I make the most improvement, but it's also the most daunting.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

How to Fix the Lost Drawstring on Your Ballet Slipper (without Fancy Tools)

1.  Feel for where the ends of the drawstring are.

2.  Cut a hole into casing and pull end out.

3.  Thread a needle and stitch into end of the drawstring, pull the needle through the channel until drawstring end is out.  Secure with safety pin or knot.

4.  Repeat with other side.

5.  Except it doesn't work as easily.  Struggle to get drawstring to enter channel.  Curse and get frustrated.

6.  Enlist boyfriend to be extra hand in project.

7.  Fight with boyfriend about bossiness and taking over.

8.  Finally get the other end out, but don't secure it because you figure you can just knot the ends together and be done with the whole thing.

9.  Lose the end into the shoe again trying to tie the knot.

10.  Give up on life.

Okay, so I managed to fix my Capezio Juliet shoe.  Because I cannot with the Bloch Pro-Elastics.  As in cannot turn without feeling like it's going to fall off my foot.  Maybe it was't entirely the shoes fault, but it was definitely a little bit the shoes fault...since it did get all twisty.  So back to the Juliet for now, until I figure out my next move.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Pet Peeve II


When an instructor demonstrates oh-so-beautifully...

At the expense of observing and correcting the class

(Maybe not so pet of a peeve?)

PreviouslyPet Peeve

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Looking for a New Ballet Slipper

As previously mentioned, I lost the drawstring on one of my slippers (Capezio Juliette).  Maybe because of this debacle, I decided to buy a pair of Bloch Pro-Elastics, which forego drawstrings all together.

...I really don't like them at the moment.  They might be half a size too big, but the heel is really baggy.  And the shoe is cut really low, so it feels like it's going to slip off, especially on my left thinner, smaller foot.  There are also some weird gaps when I go up on demi.

I do like the way they hug my arch though (my previous slippers were a bit baggy there which I hated).  I think the vamp is good for my long toes too.  And the elastic around the top doesn't dig as much as drawstrings.

I'm going to wash them to see if they shrink.  Then I'll either try sizing down or a new slipper.  Maybe a stretch canvas shoe?  My friend suggested leather for if I really want to mold the shoe to my feet, but I really hate the way leather squeaks.  It makes my brain itch.

Monday, February 9, 2015

I Didn't Fall Over and Die

I did bourrées en pointe across the room all by myself in my private with FBT (Friend Ballet Teacher) yesterday.  And I didn't fall over and die!

I am exhausted though.  I essentially wound up doing two privates in a row yesterday.

First was my aforementioned regular private with FBT.  I had let FBT know that I felt like I wasn't placed evenly between my feet in fifth  and fourth, so we worked on that a bit before doing pointe.  Stupid left lazy buttock is to blame of course.

Then I headed over to Other Movement studio to take ballet there.  It wound up being only two of us in class, so we got tons of individual attention.  We really worked on maintaining our turnout from the hips.  He kept talking about spirals, like screwing down our standing leg in order to pull up in opposition.  He said I have to avoid falling into my hyperextension instead of using my muscles.

As always, his combinations were a bit tricky and fast, but I felt like I did better than usual.  I just felt so pulled up that things like super fast degagés felt (a little bit) easier.

It was a long day.  We had a company meeting about upcoming performances (something I'm really excited about is in the works, but can't announce it here for a while yet probably).  I didn't really sleep.  I am still going to ballet tonight even though I am exhausted.  #Resolutions.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

I Did Something Not Smart

Went to class yesterday afternoon and did piqué passé on my sprained ankle, because I wasn't thinking.  Then I stayed for center.  It was really hard to do sauté arabesque as a step and I wound up jumping.  Because I am an idiot, and probably shouldn't have done this part of class at all.

My ankle had shooting pain after.  It's better today, but I feel really stupid.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Pet Peeve


It kind of annoys me when

Dancers who seem to fancy themselves more advanced

Do the next thing in the combination really quickly

Almost as if to show off that they know it so well

But then they are ahead of the music


(Real, or just my imagination?)

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

When Everything is a Little Off

Vacation time is definitely over, and yesterday was my first class back at my regular Monday night class, and everything was a little off.

I lost the drawstring in my shoe before class, so it didn't fit right.  And I was wearing an ankle brace because of my sprained ankle, which made me feel weirdly disconnected to my right foot.

I was also just kind of tired and unfocused.  There were times I just actually forgot where we were in a combination.  Like for ronde de jambes we did ronde de jambe en dehors à terre four times, one raised, tendu, arabesque, close back and then reverse the whole thing en dedans.  I was so out of it, I did it en dehor once, but forgot or something and started doing them en dehor again instead of reversing it.  Oops!  And then just some other little things, like forgetting to hold something a count or whatever.  The teacher caught me on two of my mistakes, but I corrected myself as soon as she looked at me, and we just smiled and shrugged at each other.

I didn't stay for center because my ankle started hurting during frappé.  I talked to my teacher and she was really nice about it.  And she said even said she loved when I came to class!  Which was nice but...I'm still not 100% sure she remembers me all the time.  She used my name then because she was looking at the class roster between barre and center, but I just have a feeling.  I guess I just have to come to class even more!

Compliments: I think she may have complimented my developpé à la seconde, but I couldn't tell if she was talking to me, because I wasn't looking at her and she didn't use my name.  It was in my general direction.

Corrections: Rounder arms in fifth, remember to keep shoulders down (very bad habit / structural imabalance from Other Movement).

Even though everything was a little off, I still enjoyed myself.  Because it's ballet, and ballet is fun!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Easing Back In

I'm easing back into my training schedule after vacation last week and an ankle sprain.  Got back into Other Movement on Friday.  I was super careful about my ankle, and it felt okay afterwards.  Saturday we had company class; it was a lot of improv, nothing too strenuous.  

I was a bit sore this morning, but pleasantly so.  Had a split private with FBT (Friend Ballet Teacher), in which we focused on PT exercises because of our various body problems.  Did a bunch to strengthen my butt and inner thighs (side walks with theraband around legs, adducting with theraband tied to couch) to help my hip flexor.  Did toe strengthening with that toe scruncher thing, because FBT says my toes are so long we have to strengthen them to decrease chance of injury en pointe.  Balancing and relevés on a cushion to strengthen my sprained ankle.

Then we headed over to Other Movement studio for ballet class there.  I really love this teacher's warm up.  He dances modern professionally, and there are a lot of contractions and roll ups and rolls downs in parallel leading with the head.  It feels really dancey in a different way that I like.  

The rest of the class moved a bit slow.  He likes to explain a lot between exercises--I think for the benefit of some people who aren't too familiar with ballet as they primarily do Other Movement, but I do wonder if they would benefit more from learning in their bodies!  However, the exercises are a bit difficult in some ways, as he likes to do tricky counts (to me anyway).  I do wish we had a more thorough barre, as I didn't feel warm enough for the grand battement that we did at the end.  And I just wanted more ballet!

A really good correction I got was not to pull up with my chin so much, and to have elongation and space in the back of my neck as well, instead of tilting back.  Balancing felt excellent today, especially in sous-sus.  I didn't do passé relevé on my sprained ankle, but held a really good one on flat on that side.  Annoying that my right ankle is sprained, as that is my better side.

Oh!  And I got a really nice compliment from one of my Other Movement teachers who was taking the class.  She said my wrists, arms and hands were looking nice and have improved a lot.  I wonder if my practicing my port de bras in the water when I was on vacation helped!  It's nice to have an objective eye weigh in on progress.

Planning to take my regular class tomorrow, but am thinking about skipping center because FBT says I absolutely should not be jumping on my sprained ankle.  What is the etiquette on that???  To Google I go.