Friday, July 31, 2015

Back from Vacation

I got back from vacation a week ago.  Honestly, it was kind of hellish.  It was too hot, there were a ton of bugs and "in-laws" around, and there was nowhere to take ballet.  I tried to do a barre on the balcony one day, but it was carpeted, which made everything difficult.  Rug burn on feet!  I wound up doing yoga in town a few times to not go completely crazy.  I practiced port de bras and extensions in the pool (I love the feeling) when it wasn't too hot.  Seriously, it was so hot.

Anyway, I went to class the day after getting back.  On the schedule it had one of my favorite teachers subbing for one of my unfavorite teachers, so I was pretty excited.  Got to class and it turns out that was a mistake, and the unfavorite teacher was there instead.  However, it actually would up being an pretty good class.  The pianist was really good, and the music was beautiful.  I understood her class a bit more and it felt less random that day.

Unfortunately, my week of mostly sitting around had its effects.  I noticed my shoulders riding up a several times, and that lovely pulled up feeling I had discovered before vacation was somewhat absent.  It wasn't atrocious or anything...I just felt off.

I went to class again the day after that.  There was a sub who clearly doesn't usually teach beginners and her class felt more like one level up.  I did like the challenge, but as I was still easing back in, I did wish it was a little more beginner.  The barre was fast paced so I wasn't able to focus on my technique as much as I had hoped.  

There was on exercise I really liked for arabesque.  She had us cross the opposite arm over on the bar to keep the shoulder and hips really square.  I think my practicing arabesques in the pool during vacation really helped (and maybe the flexibility coach I've been seeing?  more on that later), as mine was at least 90 and looked pretty well aligned!

Center was a bit tricky, but mostly enjoyable.  Thank god I'm somewhat more comfortable with turns now, as this teacher just put them in combinations (a more one level up thing in my experience).  As usual, most of mine were terrible, but I had one good one en dehor to the left.  There was one combination I really liked.  It went: échappé, pas de bourrée, 2 x changements, 1 soubresaut front, 1 soubresaut back, passé back leg to a relevé balance, close front, repeat soubresaut and passé balance section on other side.  The teacher described the soubresaut as a "boing, boing" and that surprisingly helped!  We did sauté arabesque with arms in second, which I did not like.  I feel like it was too easy for the arms to go back in that position.

Anyway, because I was feeling a bit off, I wanted to go to floor barre yesterday to reset a bit.  But the subway was super messed up and I wound up getting there too late (womp, womp).

Going to class tonight and hopefully it will be better.  

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Level Up

I decided the best way to kick off my week long vacation was to take the class one level up for the first time on Saturday morning before going to the airport (where I wrote this, as my flight had been very delayed).

I had a lot of fun!  The barre was actually very doable. The tempo was obviously a lot faster and the combinations longer and more complex, but it was okay!  It is interesting how the combinations are given in this higher level, with the teacher not really demonstrating all of it, just giving a lot of it verbally.  I did hold my own, and didn’t really mess up anything too egregiously here.  I did notice (and got corrected on) a few times when my technique got sloppy (knees got a bit floppy) because I was so focused on getting the combination right.  I can’t remember a ton of the barre combinations because it just kept on moving.  Oh, balances actually went pretty well!  Arabesque ones, and attitude ones, and passé ones.  I felt very pulled up.

I was really nervous about centre, but parts of it okay, even good.  I wrote down some of the things we did (but couldn’t remember it all), so here is what I remembber:

This is one combination that went well. Start in croissé plié arms to demi second, plié arms from first through second, plié sous-sus, close, developpé front (opposite arm up), developpé other leg to second arabesque, developpé effacé with downstage leg, developpé effacé up stage leg, fondu pas de bourre, tendu back leg, plié in fourth to a pirouette en dehors. I will say, I feel like I really rocked this except for the turn.  My extensions have been great lately and I can now hold a développé to the side with the foot at shoulder height even in center with good alignment.  The turns were obviously tricky for me.  I got all the way around, but the position in them was pretty hideous and the landings were horribly sloppy.

 Another combination was two balancés to a piqué arabesque, failli, tombé pas de bouree, pirouette en dehors from fourth, repeat except ending with a pirouette en dedans.  Again, everything was fine except for the turns.

Petit allegro was an unmitigated disaster.  The combination was glissade jeté on each side, glissade assemblé on each side.  Which I can do….on my on...slowly.  Once it was at tempo with music, it was really, really bad.  I felt so tangled in my feet, it was horribllleeeee.  Like, couldn’t remember to close back in the glissade to be set up for the next thing.  Ugh.  ::hides face in shame::.

Across the floor was also not great.  Two sauté arabesque, saute passés, one more sauté arabesque, glissade, pas de chat.  Actually, everything was fine except for the glissade, which I always sort of had to pause and think about.  I really need to work on these.

Despite those hiccups, I didn’t feel like I didn’t belong.  My teacher was wonderfully supportive, saying to me during plies, what a way to start your Saturday morning, graduating a level!  And she also said that it wasn’t going to be perfect, but it is never perfect, even when you’re a pro, you just deal with it better!  It was also fun because there is a guy who I see in class quite often who has been taking ballet for about the same time as me (a little less than a year), and we support each other throughout class with little comments / faces, which makes it all more fun and bearable.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

What I Wear to Ballet as an Adult Beginner

It seems there is a lot of adult beginner ballet discussion about what to wear to class.  Pink tights versus black, tights over or under, footed or footless, leotard or no leotard, which warm-ups, etc.

I wear a leotard, usually black, and tights, also usually black.  Why so much black?  Because it was the company uniform for Other Movement.  Also as a New Yorker, I pretty much live in black all the time any way, and this way I can just layer my civilian clothes over!  I have a few color leotards...grey is a color, right?  I am actually slowly collecting more color ones, as I sometimes indulge in getting custom leos nowadays, and basic black seems kind of a waste with custom.  Cutwise, I don't like anything with too high of a neck (no mock turtlenecks for me), and tend towards leos with open or low backs.  No halters because I feel they make my shoulders look too broad.

I wear transition or footless tights, because I wear pink (canvas, split sole) shoes, and black footed tights with pink shoes is a no.  Sometimes I wear nude tights.  Never pink though, it looks weird with my (olive) skin tone.  I always wear tights under, because gussets look strange.  Once in a while I'll wear a "biketard" (awful word) with no tights at all...a more contemporary feel.

I don't wear ballet skirts because I feel like they shorten the leg line, and I like to clearly see what my hips are doing.  I usually don't wear shorts, again because of the leg line thing, but I'll wear little (black) shorts once in a while because a few of my leotards have a weirdly cut leg.  I try to avoid those leotards, but sometimes fall behind on doing laundry (and by "doing laundry" I mean taking it to the laundromat a block away for them to wash and fold for me...).

In winter I will wear legwarmers (black) if it's cold in the studio, but never ones that cover my knees, because I don't want to hide any problems there.  A shrug (black) sometimes makes an appearance, and I also have a few "tops" made out of old (black) tights with the crotch cut out.

OH, and I wear underwear under my tights.  I just feel better with underwear.

There.  Everything you (n)ever wanted to know about what I wear to ballet class as an adult beginner.

Monday, July 13, 2015

So happy

This isn't really a ballet post, more of a post-ballet post.  I just want to set down this feeling.  FBT came with me to class today, and my best friend from high school was there and it was just amazing.  I worked well in class. And seeing FBT being gorgeous and knowing she was there made me work that much harder.

We all had wine and Chinese food after and FBT and best friend from high school got along really well, and it just made me really happy.  FBT said the teacher gave me a lot of attention and that she saw how much I have improved.  And we tipsily worked on my arabesque and attitude line.

Correction from teacher: don't sit in my back letting my ribs open in passé relevé.  Correction from FBT (after class): more toes and straighter jumping leg in sauté arabesque.

Sorry stupid incoherent entry, but a little drunk and just really really happy to have had some of my favorite people have a good ballet class and a good night together.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Comfort Zone

I asked the teacher who I take class with most regularly if I could take the class one level up that she is teaching this summer...

And she said yes!

I have to admit I'm pretty nervous.  In my normal class with her, I'm comfortable with everything that we do.  I can take pretty much any thing she throws at us. She puts me at the end of the barre and in the first line.  (Eeps, again, really not bragging about this.)  

I know when I move up, it'll be challenge....I mean that's why it's a level up right?  But a post on balletandorbust had me thinking about when I first started ballet and could barely do anything at all.  I will just have to start that struggle again with this class, hopefully with enough of a foundation to not work counterproductively.  Of course I'll still be taking 2-3 other classes a week at my normal level, this will just be a weekly push beyond my comfort zone.

Internet spirits, grant me courage!  And also the ability to wake up in a timely fashion, as it a rather early in the morning for a weekend.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

A Compliment

In the class I took on Friday, the teacher said I had nice lines!

Of course it came with a caveat "but you're sitting in your hyperextension a bit."

But still, nice lines!  Me!

I feel funny about posting this because I don't want to sound braggy.  But this means a lot to me because I started this ballet journey to improve my lines for Other Movement, where I definitely was NOT told that I have nice lines.  It's almost been a year since I've started ballet and it's nice to feel that I'm improving.

It was a great class (and not just because I got a compliment).  This teacher gives a lot of individual correction, and is not afraid of being hands on.  He corrected me on tendu back, saying I could open the hip just a bit to maintain my turnout better.  I also got corrected on pulling up from my standing hip more, as if there was a hot poker under my butt.  He put his hands around my waist like a corset and physically pulled me up!

We also did some center combinations that were new to me.  One was pas de cheval to pique sous-sus en croix twice, followed by two soutenou turns en face.  Another was two balancé followed by three chaine turns.  (Wow do I suck at spotting.)

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Balletomania: Cinderella

I ended my ABT season yesterday with a matinee of Cinderella.  I frankly wasn't expecting to like it too much; I thought it was going to be pretty silly.  But actually, I would up liking it a fair amount!

Part of it was that Cinderella was danced by Stella Abrera, which was very fitting as she is having a bit of a Cinderella moment herself.  Everyone and their mom knows that Misty Copeland was promoted to principal this week, but so was Abrera, after 19 years with the company and 14 years as a soloist.

If you have been following my ballet going adventures, you may remember that I liked Abrera in pretty much everything I've seen her in this season and that her Giselle was unforgettable.  Her Cinderella was very lovely as well, and she was well matched by Joseph Gorak as the Prince.  They are both very elegant dancers with beautiful lines.  I also thought Devon Teuscher was well cast as the Fairy Godmother.  Very pretty and fairy-like.  All of the season fairies were very good, but Sarah Lane stood out in particular as the Spring Fairy.

However, Cinderella doesn't really seem to be about its characters, but rather beautiful moments and images that stay with you.  They include: Cinderella and the Fairy God-Mother mirroring each other's movements when they first meet, the Fairy Godmother throwing the pumpkin into a puff of smoke and the silvery carriage coming on stage, Cinderella descending a set of steps en pointe without looking down while courtiers hold a diaphanous train behind her, the season scrims successively raising to reveal the next, pinpoints of star light emerging from the dark before the dancers do their beautiful configurations, and Cinderella and the Prince walking off into a gorgeous shimmering shower of confetti.  (Seriously though, I loved that confetti).

I could have done with less of the slapstick stepsisters characters, danced by male dancers in dresses.  It just wasn't that funny and grew tiresome pretty quickly.  I also didn't really like the ball corps scenes so much, although I can't put my finger on why.

Dance critic Alastair Macaulay of the New York Times loves this production so much that he is going to see all eight shows of it this week.  I wouldn't go so far as to do that, but it really was an enjoyable and beautiful production.