Thursday, January 21, 2016

Forced to Move Up...

So I was taking class at the lowest level the other day because I wanted some more time and space to really work on LF's corrections.  And the end of class during little jumps, the teacher (who I don't take very often) was yelling me to have more energy through my legs.  My legs were so dead though, so I couldn't really do it.  She was talking to someone else as I was leaving, and I waved to say thanks and she told me to wait.  I thought she was going to say something more about my jumps, so I apologized and explained that my legs were dead and that I wasn't a great jumper to begin with...

And she says, "Why are you taking this class?  You have to take the plunge and move up.  I never want to see you in this level class again!"

Now, I DO take class at the higher level, just not with her, because her class one level up is acknowledged to be the hardest at that level and I'm intimidated by it.

But I guess I've been officially promoted.  Or at least kicked out of lowest level class, haha.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

First Private with LF (I CAN'T EVEN)

Okay, I think I MOSTLY kept it together yesterday with LF.

I started out my day (I was off!) with class at the studio.  I wanted to be take class before my private because I really do need to get my joints and muscles going before I can actually do ballet.  This is why I do my morning warm-up every day, even though I won't be taking class until much later.  It's just so much easier to get on my leg and turnout in class if I get my body going early in the day.  I would have even done my warm-up before class yesterday, but I decided to treat myself with sleeping in a bit.

Class was so fun.  It was at the lowest level, and one of my good ballet friends was there.  I really need to stop standing near him at the barre when we take class together, because we crack each other up a little bit too much.  Especially when we're trying to hold a balance.  It felt good to do a class that is so familiar and not stressful.

Then we had lunch and coffee for like 4 hours waiting for my private.  When it was getting closer, I couldn't tell if I just had way to much tea or if I was nervous (maybe both), because I had to pee every 5 minutes.

Before we started, LF asked if there was anything I wanted to focus on, and I just said I would love to go over basic alignment things with her in detail.  I feel like this can be the kind of thing that gets lost in class, and it's the kind of thing FBT would go over with me in private before she left.

In class last week, she corrected me about my elbows.  Because of my hyperextension, I have to be even more careful about not hanging out in my arms in second, bending them more than non-hyperextended people and making sure I really use my back.  She continued this yesterday.  I think I had improved my arm position in second, but she corrected me on moving through the positions.  Apparently I have a bad habit of straightening a bit when I go from second to bras bas, and again because of the hyperextension it's really obvious and ugly.  So she described it as a bird's wing, and I think that helped for some reason.

She also corrected me on my hands.  So I've heard the thing about using your arms like moving through water many a time before.  But I always thought of it more of a metaphor for how your arms should be supported and for the hands to be soft.  LF wanted more of a "trailing" effect with the hands.  Like, how they would slightly drag behind a bit more if you were moving your arm through water.  This was kind of hard for me going from second to fifth.  It's especially hard on my left side.  Because of my shoulder injury, sometimes things feel weird and I can't tell what's happening as well.  It was so beautiful on her though, and now I have more of a concept of what I'm supposed to do.

We did an exercise from fifth and I finally had an opportunity to ask about my knees knocking.  So again, it's definitely because of my hyperextension (which is why the problem is worse when left is front, as I'm way more hyperextened on that side and there's no space for my other leg!).  So she told me not to straighten all the way.  Also contrary to what is said usually in class, apparently I have to think about my hip turn out and my calf rotation a bit separately in fifth.  I guess when you have hyperextension, if you think about rotating the leg in one piece from the hip, it can make you sit in your knees.  Anyway, it's about the thighs pressing more than anything apparently...and if I soften the front knee I can do it without my knees knocking!

Sadly, the problem that FBT had pointed out to me about my left side when I first started is still a problem.  From the beginning, FBT had told me that my left side is way more flexible but weak, so the hip tends to open up.  Apparently I'm so used to that, that it's kind of hard for me to tell true square is anymore when the left is my working side!  So I really have to pull it forward more when working to the side and back.  LF kept pushing it forward, and I kept being like, "Really!??!"

Lately, she has been correcting me about my tailbone in class.  I thought it was a pelvic tilt thing, but actually it's not really!  I think it's more of a weight shift thing.  So a lot of my teachers are more Balanchine trained (LF is NOT), and they don't always really insist on getting your weight back onto two legs when you close.  They say TECHNICALLY and CLASSICALLY it's correct, but for Balanchine speed you might not do it fully and you might keep your weight where it's supposed to go next.   I think this has made me sometimes lazy about getting my butt back under myself.  LF will not have any of that. If I think about it as always going back to equal weight, I think the tailbone problem goes away because there's space in the front of the hips to get your tailbone down.  She also had me more back in my fourth plie (we did some combination with weight transfers), and again this made sense.  And suddenly other teacher's corrections of taking my pelvis with me made sense too.

She also corrected me on my arabesque.  She put me way more forward than I'm used to.  I was's not supposed to feel more backbendy than this?  And she was like, I don't know about that, but this is correct.  So I've been mulling it over and even looked it up in Gretchen Ward's Classical Ballet Technique this morning.  And I think I've figured out how I've been thinking about it wrong.  So looking at the book, the shoulders DO have to move more forward with higher extension.  I had been moving mine forward, but I have been putting them where it's supposed to be for 45 degrees and because I have a back oversplit, I've just been lifting my leg from that position to 90 or above without moving my shoulders more forward.  So basically I have been thinking about it more as a back oversplit / needle situation than a proper classical arabesque.

She complimented me on all of my passé positions!  FBT really got me to understand the rotation in this before she left, and lately I've been getting a lot of compliments on it in general.  It just really makes sense to me.  I think also the wing in my foot shape is coming along really nicely, and I got a few "Beautiful!" comments from LF based on that I think.  Her wing is actually the most amazing, and she is really picky about this, so I think I'm learning!  Also she said I did wonderfully and that I'm a hard worker when she ran into my friend who bought the private as my gift later in the day.

I wound up taking class AFTER my private as well!  I asked LF if she thought it would be okay, and she said it might be nice for me to apply the corrections straight away.  So I wound up taking class with the same teacher I took class with in the morning, with my same friend, and somehow we wound up standing in the same place again.  It was kind of hilarious.  But what was great was I was able to make such a direct comparison with my morning class.  I was definitely way more on my leg, more pulled up and aligned.  I focused a lot on my janky left side, and after class my friend said I looked way more square than this morning!  My extensions were great.  I feel like my tailbone situation was better.  The arms and hands thing still felt kind of unnatural, but I definitely worked on it.  OH, even my turns felt better!  Which you all should know is a big deal for me.

I can't believe I have another private with LF soon!  I hope I didn't totally disgrace myself and I hope she likes me a little bit....

Sorry that this is so long and rambly.  I'm just trying to keep it as clear as possible in my minds eye so I kind of wrote this stream of consciousness style.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Quotable IV

Non-ballet friend:  Ballet seems like the most difficult.  When I was young, I thought they were using wires, like in martial arts movies.


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

A Rough Class

I've been feeling kind of off in class lately. I can't tell if maybe I'm hitting a different level of awareness, or taking harder classes, or am just tired or what...

Tonight's class was legitimately rough though.  I know this because it wasn't just me.  Most of us did not look good, even one of the really good girls who usually does triples on the turns and beats all the jumps seemed to have some trouble.  My friends and I had a drink after to cope.  Because it was for reals super rough.

Most awful combination of the evening for me? 2 x balancé, 2 x piqué arabesque, tombé pas de bourré, pirouette en dehors from fourth landing in fourth, fouetté to fourth, en dedans pirouette to pas de bourré en tournament, other side. So yeah, there was no way that was going to be good on me.  Whatever.  I was fine with being bad at that.

I was pissed though that I couldn't do the adagio, because it theoretically played to my strengths!  We did it first at the barre and then at center.  In center from croisé: fondu, passé, developpé front, carry to the side, passé, staying in passé to change to the other corner, developpé arabesque, carry to the side, tombé pas de bourré (not changing the direction), other side.  I felt good about this at the barre, but I could not get on my leg at all in center.  This annoyed me, but to be fair my legs were pretty dead because I had done reformer pilates right before and it was harder than usual.  My instinct was to skip ballet after and rest, and perhaps I should have listened to it.

What really made my night worse was that this random woman corrected me in the dressing room after on my extensions.  Not gave me a friendly tip or advice or anything but a very condescending correction. So I usually try to be positive here, but I need to vent tonight.  And this is not coming from me thinking I'm good at ballet or anything, but her technique was not good and the correction she gave me was something she should have been applying to herself.  And honestly even though I was off tonight in my extensions, I'm fairly sure I understand them better than her from what I saw.  I am actually pretty livid (and a little tipsy)!


Thursday, January 7, 2016


I have the best ballet friends in the world.

They bought me a private with LF for my birthday!!!!!

Now I just have to figure out how to not like...fall over when she talks to me because I'm so in awe of her.


Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Turn Anxiety

Leigh Purtill very kindly left a comment on my blog a few weeks ago where she mentioned the idea of petit allegro and pirouette anxiety.   Thankfully, my petit allegro anxiety seems to be fading!  Lately, I find myself just doing it.  As long as it's all steps I know, I can now stay on the music and not get lost!  And sometimes my feet even look good.  (Although there was a combination recently that went something like: sauté arabesque, faille, glissade, jeté, ballonné to retiré, assemblé forward...and I was like, WTF is a ballonné?? I had never done one before.  That wasn't so fun.)

However, my pirouette anxiety is really ratcheting up.  It's so frustrating that everything else in my technique has gotten so much better, but my turns are lagging so far behind.  It's gotten so bad that I'm getting increasing comments about it from my teachers and peers.  Like several teachers have said that all my partial pirouettes (with sustained balances at the end!) are well placed and pulled up and whatnot, but when it comes to a full turn, I get all weird and twisty and lose everything.  I had lunch with my ballet friend after class recently, and she said "You are getting quite good, but you really can't turn!  I was watching you, and your face and body get SO tense when you have to do a pirouette.  I've never seen you look so freaked out."

Sigh.  I don't really know what to do about it.  And I can feel it as it's happening.  I kind of freeze, which makes it impossible to use my plié or properly hold my back because my shoulders start getting super tense and it's just awful.  I hope if I practice at home, I can get more comfortable and get out of my head.  Sometimes I think, this sucks that I can't do this's been more than a whole year!  But other times I think, it's okay that this's only been a bit more than a year.

A recent pirouette combination that I loved and did well except for the actual pirouette:
3 Ballet walks, fondu arabesque, pas de bourrée, pas de cheval, pique sous-sus, chassé forward, fondu attitude back, pas de bourreé, tendu croisé, en dedans pirouette turn from fourth.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Modern Challenges

My friend convinced me to take modern today at my regular ballet studio.  I will admit I was kind of freaked out.  I've only taken very basic modern classes two or three times before, and this class is open level.  And as I mentioned, in my normal studio!  With people I see all the time in ballet class!

It was harder than the classes I had taken before.  Not necessarily in the combinations, but it was much more technical.  Like the teacher corrected much more on placement, alignment, how to use your weight, etc.  I understood this much more as a method/system than in the previous classes, especially in how things were supposed to be moving with oppositional energy (this also might be because this was more Graham based??).

It's kind of like in ballet, how you initially think a tendu is just moving your foot but when you learn more, you realize all the muscles that need to be activated and how you need to use the floor and all that.  In the (admittedly few) modern classes I had taken before, I was copying the movement but I didn't get what was happening behind them.  It's not like I'm doing it right after this class, but now I have at least somewhat of a conceptual grasp of what it's supposed to be and the principles behind it.

So will there be more modern for me?  On one hand, I feel like it tackles a lot of my weaknesses.  For example, you are really forced to move through space (I feel much earlier on than in ballet).  I also feel like the movement is really beautiful.  There were a few people who were really good, and I loved watching them.  I feel like this could help me develop movement quality.  I also really really love doing floorwork.

On the other hand, I felt really bad for my classmates.  The teacher obviously was making the class more basic for us newcomers. and I hope the regulars didn't feel too put out.  And uhm, do I really need another thing to be bad at in my life?

I kind of want to take class elsewhere, so that I can do modern and be bad at it and nobody will know me and I won't feel as much pressure.