Ballet Squid Chronicles: Attack of the Pros!
Tonight I took Tawnee’s beginner class for the first time.
Her teaching approach is closer to Margie’s — slower-paced, with a lot of focus on precision and clean technique (and occasional hands-on assistance — at one point, she grabbed my leg mid-extension, turned it out a bit further and simply lifted it painlessly into a much higher extension: she then said something like, “There’s your turnout,” to which I mentally replied, “Wow?” — because, seriously, I had no idea that A) I could get my leg that high in an extension à la seconde and B) it wouldn’t hurt at all*).
Bizarrely, I was the most advanced regular student in class for once … though I did not acquit myself accordingly once we left the barre (I promptly forgot how to count and how to remember combinations, and I probably made faces as well).
Then the Pros showed up.
Brienne (my teacher! In class with me! OMG!) and a fellow who I’m fairly certain is at very least quite an advanced student came to do class as well (he said off-hand as he entered, “I was going to do company class but…” and I missed the rest).
So our little band of four became a band of six, and I found myself alternately standing behind, then in front of, a really well put-together guy whose technique was pretty solid. (Also, his arms were beautiful. Just sayin’.)
So. Um. Apparently, I can be intimidated**.
Obviously, it wasn’t too scary standing behind him (if anything, it was edifying). What was intimidating was standing in front of him.
Needless to say, I suddenly found myself very, very focused on remembering the combinations and executing them with the best technique I could manage.
Which, of course, led to thinking. Which occasionally led to screwing up, because thinking + dancing = bad dancing. Sort of. Sometimes.
Also, I apparently respond to intimidation by forgetting to pull up my knees, then pulling them up like my life depends on it. This was an informative insight, as the mid-section jelly phenomenon I’ve previously described seems to pretty much stem from loose knees (who knew? — loose
lips knees sink ships dancers!). Once the knees pull up, everything else is like, “Oh, better get in line.”
I guess this shouldn’t be some kind of ground-breaking discovery, but there you have it. Each of us comes to understand the whys of ballet in his or her own time.
Anyway, while I executed one totally lovely pas de chat (if I do say so myself — and I do), I was largely of useless at centre (I kept losing track of my legs, and my arms, and the combos, and probably everything else).
I think I might actually have overdone it with the caffeine, which might have contributed to flighty-brain syndrome.
Perhaps I should cut back***?
Surprisingly, the roughly 20 fast miles on the bike didn’t really seem to phase me. So there’s that.
Anyway, even though I feel like I was a mess during enormous swathes of this class, I actually don’t think it was that horrible. Compared to the first few classes when I was just starting back, I’ve come a long way in a short time.
So that’s it for tonight. No stunning insights other than, “Oh, if I tighten my knees, things work better,” which I think I’ve covered before.
So, um, sunny side up, leather side down; head in the air, wheels on the ground (yeah, I know it’s “feminine rhyme,” but whaddaya want?).
More to come.
*Actually, I should have known this — I think it was one of the times that either Margie or Jessica taught the Saturday beginner/intermediate class that we did basically the same thing while stretching — manually turned our legs out a bit further and discovered that, ohai, we could tuck them behind our ears while standing. At least, I could.
**Also, blubbery. I am way leaner than I was a couple years ago — lean enough to look pretty good on the bike these days — but seriously, ballet kit hides nothing. And ballet is one of the areas where Other People Can Be Fat And Look Fine But I Can’t because of my stupid brain and its stupid double standards.
***Yes, I should cut back. Caffeine and bipolar go together like horseshoes and hand-grenades, as we like to say around here.