Saturday Class: Progress is Relative

I can’t say that I was at my best this morning, but I can’t say that I was at my worst, either.

Ballet is funny like that. Progress is always relative.

You have not-so-great days, and you have to remind yourself, “Six months ago, I would have thought this was a great class; I would have been really proud of my adagio and really impressed at how well I remembered the combinations.”

So by my current standard, today was, as they say, “Fair to middlin'” — mostly great Barre (though my mental block about flic-flac continues unabated); fairly good adagio (though there was a little too much “making it happen” on the first run); turns … Eh.

Here’s the combo:
Waltz turn and waltz turn
Pique arabesque
Extend
Down (plie)
PDB
Chassée
Fourth
En Dehors*
Fourth
Relève
En Dehors*
Fourth
Détourner
Chassée
Fourth
En Dedans (as many as you can, obvs)
Pliè
… Repeat until you run out of room.

*These could be singles, doubles, triples — whatevs.

Not a hard combination, but pretty, unless you for some reason keep screwing up your turns.

Little jumps would have been better if I hadn’t switched into a totally different combination halfway through and then gotten scrambled trying to get back into the right one.

This is the danger of strong kinesthetic learning abilities! Your body is all like:

“Cool! I remember this from yesterday! :)”

And your brain goes:
“No, that’s not it! :/”

And your body goes:
“But I thought…? :O”

… And so on.

We ran out of time and didn’t do grand allegro, but that’s probably okay. My lungs are still a little verklempt. Slow and steady heals the lungs.

At the end of the day, my technique is about a thousand times better

Anyway, that’s today. We’re off to the Met Live in HD.

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 2016/04/02, in balllet, class notes, healing, health and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Report back from harder-mode Cunningham! Same time, same place, so everything about The Place applies. We were even in the same studio. Important distinction: we had a pianist.

    The class: much smaller this time (I think a round dozen students). 3 blokes (so the % was much, much higher). A lot of…serious…looking people, including someone who was obviously “the turns girl” (she did a few warming up and didn’t really stop throughout the class).

    Content. Lots of fast tendu combinations (front, in, glissade out, front, in, heel, glissade back in, front, in, plié, repeat to the side but hop up to passé retiré, other side, repeat until you crack and tell them the sekrit code). In the centre, we had a slow passage like this:

    tendu front left from parallel, step forward, and swingback down into like a pique arabesque, extending the right leg. rotate to your right, push up into relévé, and get the right leg into passé. reset as you were.

    repeat as far as the arabesque, but promenade it en dedans until you’re at 240 degrees (a bit like a really, really slow attitude turn). now, piqué lower and extend more, into a flatback variation (this was given as an extra/challenge option, but everyone tried it and moreover everyone could!)

    stand up and change leg. lift your left leg up bent to your front, lean back, and curve your back with your arms in second. reset in second. repeat, but now the promenade is in the opposite direction, so you arrive on the main diagonal like you were in the first movement.

    phew!

    we did this like 12 times, which was worth it – the promenade seemed impossible on repeat 1, doable at least to the left by about 6 or 7.

    the across-the-floor phase was just packed with turns – take open 4th, plié down a bit, 2 steps forward, into parallel, come up on relévé, another step forward into 2nd, chassé right and tilt, repeat to the left, repeat both, pirouette en dehors, weird curved back plié thing in 5th, open into 2nd facing the mirror, shift your weight to the right in prep, another pdh, step forward, another pdd, and repeat the whole thing until you run out of space.

    this got absolutely hammering repetition, too. (turns girl looks like she’d accidentally had an extra birthday)

    finally, last 10 mins or so, a lot of jumps: first small ones then fuck-off big ‘uns. I was kind of relieved about this – I tend to lose it in the last 10-15 mins, and it was good to have a change from obsessing about technique and instead hurl myself around. So, I’m seriously considering taking class there as a second string.

    • Ye gods, I thought I had replied to this already.

      I love your write-up on this class — and I would swear to you that I know Turns Girl, or at least her cousin (and her brother) 😀

      Frankly, this class sounds amazing. Engaging, creative choreography, some room for freedom at the end, and lots of repetition — there’s so much to be said for repetition. One of the things I like about Modern T’s class is that we do a lot of repetition. It seems like working each combination for a couple of weeks and building on to it is a norm for her, and each class we do several runs of each combination in each direction. As with the promenade you mentioned above, I find that really helps me nail things down.

      I frankly love the idea of “fuck-off big jumps.” As adults, we don’t get nearly enough time to turn our heads off and play in the studio, and this sounds like a really healthy antidote to that. It seems like that might be a really good way to prevent technique becoming precise, but stiff and dead.

      Likewise, just having a chance to hurl ones’ self around the studio sounds like fun.

      I hope you do get to take class there on a regular or semi-regular basis — it sounds like such a great approach.

      • I don’t want to give the impression that turns sequence was anything other than a struggle, though. I kept doing that “hit it when you mark it waiting for the other lot to finish, then fuck it up when it’s your turn to go across” thing.

        Nick Bodych doesn’t lead class regularly there, but if that was at all typical, I want more. When they come up from the Easter break, there’s a midweek L1/2 Cunningham class I might double up on.

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