Saturday Class: Re-Beating Myself

Today’s we had class with John, who sometimes teaches Advanced Class, and it was very good. He’ll be teaching next Saturday as well. Huzzah!

During his really excellent barre, John noted that even at barre we should remember that we’re dancing.

There was more to that point, but you must forgive me; I’m exceedingly tired.

Nonetheless, it was a reminder I quite liked — it lines up well with my philosophy of practice. It’s easy to think of barre as “just exercises,” but any performer will tell you that you perform as you practice. If you dance at barre, you’re more likely to dance at center (as opposed to just moving from step to step without really dancing).

John also pointed out that, in order to master the timing of the slow port de bras-fast rond de jambe thing, you can simply use the number of ronds and the four points of the port de bras compass to figure out timing.

If you’re doing four ronds, for example, the start of each rond corresponds to one point — second, fifth, first, en bas (or the reverse) — and you use the remaining time to move between them.

Obviously, you’d need to modify this if you’re doing an odd number of ronds, but for any even number you can just multiply or divide as needed. I’ve never bothered to think about this before, but it’s really quite a nice way to make the pat-your-head-and-rub-your-belly thing that’s happening in that sequence easier (so you can then do it more gracefully).

That said, for the record, this is the only ballet class I have ever attended in which the instructor proudly announced, “It’s math!”

(To be fair, much of ballet that isn’t technique or expression is basically math. It’s just math you do with your feet.)

At center, during our lovely adagio (which we, as a whole, eventually did quite well), John noticed that, rather than drawing my working leg up through coupé, along the shin or calf, and to passé during my turns, I kept coming through second.

That is, of course, what you should do … if you’re turning from second.

If you’re turning from fifth and coming through second, though, you’re Doin’ It Rong: throwing your working leg wide at the start, which makes for messy turns.

Predictably, I applied the correction in question and, what do you know, my turns sucked a lot less. It seems like every class my turns suck less. Perhaps, eventually, they’ll stop sucking altogether!*

*I really shouldn’t complain so much about my turns. I have seen worse.

Baby steps.

After a lovely adagio (full of attitude, literally — and also full of renversé, which we haven’t done in aaaaages) and so forth, our petit and grand allegro segments were full of beats.

I got the entrechats down, but didn’t manage the brisée. Next time.

B and I also finally got my audition video done. Parts of it are very pretty.

We wound up having to rework some of the choreography to spare an injury, so it’s still very obviously a work in progress, but a nice one. Except for the freaking cabriole. There is one jump in this piece. One**. And I hosed it up. I was tired by then (Denis and I were out quite late last night) and should have substituted a sauté of some kind — but, meh. Worse things have happened.

**There will be more, but we took them out to try to reduce the strain on B’s Achilles’ tendon. The cabriole, however, is important: if you watch footage of cranes dancing, they kind of cabriole at each-other, so it’s part of the cranes’ leitmotif, so to speak, in this dance — and since it’s not necessary for both (or all) the dancers to do it, I left it in.

Obviously, given that we were working on choreography, there are definitely moments where one or the other of us sort of hesitates either to remember what’s next (after all the last-minute rewrites!) or to decide whether a given step or movement is actually the right one for a given place in the music.

That clearly wouldn’t fly if I was auditioning for a technique program or a company position (ha) or whatever, but this context is a little different. A lot of those moments are about give-and-take between two people working and improvising together, which seems like something that could be useful to see if you’re the admissions committee for a DMT program.

On the other hand, watching the video made it very plain to me that, when I hesitate, I drop my arms and sort of curl into myself. Basically, I forget to dance, or at least look dancer-ly, while thinking.

Oy vey.

So, breaking that habit is now on my list of Subtle But Important Ballet Corrections. It’s like, don’t curl up; just stay placed and keep going (file under: Do Something Even If It’s Wrong).

I also discovered that, when I get tired, my turns get ugly. This is probably universal, but still an annoying discovery. I completely failed to apply John’s correction from this morning while we were recording. Ah, well.

Still, the end of the thing is quite lovely, as are some of the partner-y moments. My opening developpé was also nice, but I’m facing in such a way that my leg points directly into the camera, so it loses some of the effect. Next time I have occasion to record a video, I’ll have to keep this in mind when placing the camera.

The second developpé — to ecarté derriere — came through rather well, and looks good — though, being the nitpicky jerk that I am, I feel that my working leg could stand to be straighter and more pointed. There’s an absolutely lovely moment in which B and I both fouetté to first arabesque on essentially identical lines, then penche rather beautifully.

Sadly, when I stepped through to begin the next phrase, I paused to run a mental check on the choreography and dropped my chest. Meh.

I’m learning an awful lot from my own videos, to say the last. I plan to play around with videorecording a lot more, even if it’s only at home.

I didn’t get to roll my legs out last night, nor did I have much time to do them this morning before class or between class and the video thing, so I plan to roll everything thoroughly tonight.

Tomorrow will be a rest day — which is to say that I’ll try to remember to keep my extensions at 45 or below when I find myself dancing in the kitchen or what have you.

So there you have it. My balancé video is STILL UPLOADING (and, sadly, is queued behind two others). Last night’s upload died for some reason. I still hope to get it posted tonight, but if I don’t, it’ll be something to post tomorrow.

And now I’m going to go lie in the tub and read, or something, until it’s time to eat dinner.

À bientôt, mes amis!

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About asher

Me in a nutshell: Standard uptight ballet boy. Trapeze junkie. Half-baked choreographer. Budding researcher. Transit cyclist. Terrible homemaker. Getting along pretty well with bipolar disorder. Fabulous. Married to a very patient man. Bachelor of Science in Psychology (2015). Proto-foodie, but lazy about it. Cat owner ... or, should I say, cat own-ee? ... dog lover. Equestrian.

Posted on 2015/12/12, in balllet, class notes and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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