Ballet Squid Chronicles: Tuesday — Now With More Productivity!
Last night’s class was excellent!
I mostly maintained my waterfowls in a linear array throughout barre and even occasionally did Pretty Things With My Arms.
We were a smaller-than-normal class (possibly because of Dire Warnings of Weather-Related Doom — that, or maybe everyone else felt like last week’s class with the dancers from Paul Taylor was just too tough an act to follow), so I had my own private barre on the end, which meant I had to concentrate on actually knowing the combinations. I think that helped me keep myself together. Sometimes thinking too hard about technique is the best way to mess up; you can’t overthink your technique when you’re busy making sure you remember the combination. It seems to prevent the whole getting-in-your-own-way thing.
Not to say you shouldn’t think about technique at all, of course — the challenge seems to be finding that balance between thinking just enough (Toes back on close!) and too much (toestoestoestoestoestoestoestoestoestoes….)
I also worked on trying to keep my barre arm a bit further ahead than I have been. It continues to help with balances, though my balance overall was a wee bit off tonight for some reason (even at center). Coupé releve is still better than passé releve.
Meanwhile, the girl next to me, whose name I still haven’t caught (and who is amazing — people constantly ask her if she’s a professional dancer) popped up into a nice passé releve and just hung out there for, like, a minute. I’m pretty sure she could, like, knit some legwarmers while balancing at passé releve (in which case she’d be better than I am at both ballet and knitting; I can make scarves, but that’s it).
At center we did pretty adagio with More Graceful Arm Stuff, and I wasn’t terrible at that bit. Claire sorted my arabesque — she noted that I don’t need to drop my body forward to get my leg up there; I have the strength and flexibility to get the leg up and carry the upper body. Gave it a go and turned out an arabesque that received applause, so I guess it was pretty 😉
My waltz-balancé thing still looks a bit goofy, though. I think mostly my arms just aren’t sure how to get where to be when they need to be there. Looks like a job for Practice At Home!
Going across the floor I managed a double pirouette (because, as she so often does, Claire told us, “Do it again, and this time bring something new into it!”). It sort of went down like this: first turn completed in what felt like a Time Pocket (you know, that thing where time suddenly stretches out and becomes much longer than it usually is?), I thought, “I guess I could go for another,” spotted again, et voila! Double pirouette.
Once again, not the prettiest double pirouette ever, but still a double, and better than my last one. Claire saw it and I got a shoutout (the good kind) for that 😀
I’ve also discovered that I can do that cool thing where you land your pirouettes on one knee. It looks really cool, and evidently requires a fair amount of strength? If so, go bicycles! Now, if I could only remember the extra plié in the combiation…
Our petit allegro was fun; Claire threw in some tours at the end of a glissade-assemble-changement-changement-glissade-assemble-changement-changement-sisson-sisson combination, and I did them without too much terrible ridiculousness. A couple were actually, you know, good, except for the part where I sounded like an elephant on the landing (which totally made me think of my first ballet teacher shouting, “Ladies and gentlemen, we are not a herd of elephants!” as we did sautés).
Perhaps predictably, it went better when I didn’t think too much.
Little by little I look more and more like a dancer — I mean, more graceful and more intentional and less disastrous and squidly. Obviously, I’m not perfect yet (Who is? David Hallberg, maybe, but I bet he’d claim he isn’t, even if the rest of us know better!) or anywhere close to it. But, as I so often do on Monday nights, I feel like it’s coming along.
So there we go. This week I am going to focus on arms, balances, and not letting my upper body fall forward during grand battement and arabesques. Oh, and tons of stretching, because my legs have been way tight lately.
This morning I’m up and about and getting things done, which feels nice (I’m on the second load of laundry and have prepped a batch of bread dough). I’ve learned not to go, “Yeeeeeaahh! Now I’m going to live like a real grown-up from now on!” whenever this happens — instead, I accept it for what it is; a nice boost to my available time.
While my mood has been more stable for the past few months than — well, possibly ever in my entire life, really — I try not to take it for granted. There are definitely harder and easier days, and it still requires a lot of active management. I’m trying to learn to be grateful for days like today — easy days on which I wake up ready to roll — and not get ticked off at myself about the hard days.
Ballet makes an enormous difference in my life. At this point, it makes my schedule significantly more demanding, but also seems to make me more capable of handling the demands of my schedule. Ballet has become an organizing principle, so to speak; class, in and of itself, has become an organizing element.
Right now, I’m feeling more capable than usual. I’m trying to keep in mind that there might be moments in my life during which I’ll be less capable than I am right now, and that it’s okay if that happens. I’m learning to live life on my own terms — which includes accepting the terms imposed by my own neurology.
Anyway, I’ve put about half an hour into this post, and I hear my dryer buzzing, so back to being productive!