Category Archives: class notes

Sunday Class: Grand! Allegro

I woke far earlier than I intended and in an increasingly terrible mood. Headed to class once again figuring I’d just do barre.

I wound up staying for the whole thing, including a nice grand allegro. I got to whipout my Pas de Chat Italien for the first time in months. W00t!

In fact, as a whole, class was pretty good—even petit allegro, during which I managed to do acceptable petit assemblés. We also did the glissade-jeté x8, glissade-jeté x4, glissade-jeté, glissade-jeté, changement, changement, reverse, repeat combination that I enjoy because, frankly, it’s the only piece of petit allegro I reliably do well 😜

The fact that I can do it at all is fantastic: my foot held up through everything.

Anyway, I’m home now and much more relaxed, if still operating on a short fuse. Basically, I have no frustration tolerance today.

On the way home it occurred to me that I might get along with myself better if I accepted that my brain chemistry does this sometimes, and that rather than trying to change that, I can do things to keep myself from making life horrible for other people when it happens.

Maybe down the road I’ll mellow out or learn to down-regulate these moods. For now, though, just getting out of the way makes sense .

Saturday Class: Exceeds Expectations?

I was just going to do barre this morning, but then I stuck around for the rest of class, and it turned out reasonably well.

My legs are definitely tired and achy (hard floors in Cinci!), but they made it through everything.

Nothing was perfect and nothing looked perfect, but I was at least mostly serviceable and there were a couple of good moments.

I have spent some time drilling the thing where you draw a line up your shin with your toe when drawing up to passé; I need to now work on drilling the opposite side, wherein you pass to the back without dropping your foot and then draw a line down the back of your calf to close.

Anyway, JB seemed pleased with my efforts, so that’s good.

Now if I could just consistently convince my petit assemblé not to suck, we’d be rolling. I suspect that, as with brisée, I need to think about the second foot closing up.

~

Update: I just realized that part of my leg-achiness problem was simply the result of dancing on a hard floor all day, then jumping in the car and coming home and forgetting to take any naproxen or ibuprofen or whatever. Under those circumstances, it definitely helps.

I thought of it last night whilst lying in bed, but didn’t want to get up and muck about with taking pills and then having to eat something so they didn’t make my stomach hurt. This morning, I forgot completely (things were all kinds of fumbly this morning, since D was up before me, which throws off my Saturday game).

Took a couple tablets of naproxen an hour or so ago; legs feel much better now.

Choose Your Own Intensive: Days 3 & 4

Yesterday, I had nothing before ballet, so I was properly fed and rested and so forth.

As a result, BW’s class went very well.

After, I went and played at Suspend, where we did all kinds of lifty things in Acro 2.

After that, my car decided to throw a fit and D had to come rescue me (fortunately, I noticed that it sounded weird and didn’t get on the expressway). As result, an already late night got later, and I was too tired to pack lunch.

This morning, D came home early and sent me to Cinci with his truck, which was really sweet of him. I had eaten two hot dogs for lunch, with the intention of grabbing some real food when I got back into Louisville.

In Cinci, partnering class was half really frustrating: I couldn’t hear because my allergies were trolling me, and we were learning partnering phrases, so I kept not quite understanding what was going on[1]. As a result, I kept frustrating my partner, which made me nervous, which makes my brain not work too well.

  1. Also, my body wanted all the fouettés to be tour jetés. WTF, body?

Anyway, we got there eventually.

During the second half, we did group lifts, and that bit went really well. Didn’t hurt that Acro 2 last night was all about the dynamic group lifts :p

Anyway, after Partnering, my plans for food were scuttled by a traffic jam. I resorted to buying Chex mix at a gas station when I refueled the truck. I would be surprised if that even brought me back up to baseline.

Anyway, BW’s final class was more challenging than it should have been, since I basically ran out of juice. I got all the way through anyway, but my grand pirouettes weren’t really all that grand. They started out nice going right, then fizzled, going left, I just worked fourth-passé-second-plié-relevé-plié-relevé, etc, without the actual turns.

On the other hand, I cracked out some nice grand allegro: it was kind of my way of saying, “I value your class and, dammit, I’mma try as hard as I can!”

That backfired, of course, when we proceeded to follow the second grand allegro combo with even moar petit allegro.

Oh, I can now check entrechats six off my goals list. Or, at any rate, I can mark them as done with baseline success but in need of werk, werk, werk, werk. They’re not pretty, but they’re there.

We did 36 of them.

Also, after that, so many Royales, which are my least favorite jump. I mean, seriously, in France there’s a hamburger named after them[2].

  1. I may be employing artistic license here. Who knows?

    Anyway, my legs felt weak and resentful (I suspect that, if you’re a dancer or a cyclist, you understand what I mean), and I resented their resentful attitude (note to self: I need to draw a resentful attitude 😁) until I realized that it wasn’t fair to resent them when it was my own fault for not feeding them.

    Evidently, it takes a lot of calories to run this body at peak performance, or at any rate more than the ≈600 I have it before tonight’s ballet class.

    …Oh, well.

    At any rate, I’m pleased with myself for not giving up. There were a few times in class tonight that my dark side whispered,”You could just say your foot is unhappy!”

    But I didn’t.

    So there’s that.

    Anyway, I’m going to go have a wee soak in some Epsom salts. Tomorrow, I have to leave at 7 AM for Cinci because evidently I’m insane, so after that I’m off to bed.

    Choose Your Own Intensive: Day 2

    At ML&Co, it was partnering day. I paired up with a girl who was frankly awesome at partnering. She made us both look good!

    I landed hardish a couple of times on my healing foot, but still made it through everything in BW’s master​class except grand pirouettes going left. My foot complained about those, so I decided to play it safe and only do a couple.

    Even grand allegro went reasonably well. Still can’t get out of my own way doing brisées in medium allegro, though :/

    Or, well. I managed a couple going right, but literally got off on the wrong foot going left and failed to actually recover.

    I guess that’s going to be a goal this week.

    The combo is:

    Glissade, jeté, jeté jeté; balloté x4; coupé-balloné; brisée, brisée; temps de cuisse, entrechat quatre x2.

    I think I’m going to have to mark that at home.

    On the other hand, some of the stength-y things and some of the balance-y things felt easier today, as did the crazy petit allegro brainteaser that BW has us running (the one from last Thursday with the incredibly confusing assemblés).

    So that was today. No ML&Co class tomorrow, so I plan to catch up on housework, make friends with the foam roller, and review the crap out of that medium allegro.

    Choose Your Own Intensive: Day 1

    I was, in fact, on the nervous side this morning when I left home.

    Surprisingly, by the time I reached Clifton Cultural Arts Center, that nervousness had evaporated. Instead, I simply felt delighted to be returning to a place where I had a really great experience last year.

    I picked up my number and the little program for the intensive and parked myself in the main studio, where a bunch of the students were watching Rosas Danst Rosas. Even that was pleasantly familiar: Rosas is one of the seminal works of progressive modern choreography that almost every dancer who’s worked in the discipline knows, and Mam-Luft & Co’s 2016 intensive  was the first place I saw it.

    41

    “I’m #41! I’m #41!” shouted nobody ever, except me, probably.

    Improv class went well. I really actually rather love improv, though my body took a bit to wake up today. The drive up to Cincinnati is nearly 2 hours, which is a long time to sit still. Tomorrow, my class starts a little later, but I’m still going to leave at the same time.

    I am not, I’m happy to report, the Onliest Boy this time. There’s another guy, and he’s quite good. He’s auditioning as well. We’re very similar in size, but quite different in build and movement style, so I’m actually kind of hoping I’ll get to work with him in the partnering classes at least a bit.

    A couple of the girls from last year are also there this year, which is awesome. Regardless, I don’t feel so weird and shy and isolated this time. Like, I kind of feel like I know what I’m doing this time, and like I have some business being there.

    After class, I dashed away almost immediately (partly so I could stop at United Dairy Farmers and get a milkshake, which turned into the greater part of my ultra-healthy lunch[1]).

    1. A milkshake and a banana. Don’t judge. We don’t have UDF in Louisville, so it was 100% worth it.
      • In fact, this worked out surprisingly well, really. The milkshake provided enough fuel to get me through ballet without turning into a brick in my belly.

    Back in Louisville, I took a break to read things on my phone, then headed over to the ballet. We’re in the main studio downtown, which is really nice. There are only 10 or so of us in the master class, so we have a ton of room to move … which is good, because BW likes to make us travel.

    Class went well. I got through everything, jumps and all, though I couldn’t convince my body to brisé during combinations, only during marks. I do, however, have my entrelacé back. I got to do grand allegro, and it was pretty good.

    I took a couple of technical notes, but I left my notebook in my car and I can’t remember what they were. That’s fine, though: if I don’t remember at least some of them by the end of this week, I am probably beyond hope and should consider a career in Couch Potato Cultivation rather than in dance.

    I am, in fact, the Onliest Boy in the masterclass series this week, but I’m okay with that. It’s a much smaller group than ML&Co was last year.

    Anyway, I’m really tired, so I’m going to close here. I think I intended to say something more interesting, but I’ve been busily doing a billion other things whilst writing this post, and I can’t remember what they were.

    ~

    PS: You know you’ve worked hard when you drop in at your aerial studio to say “Hi” to your friends, and the first thing someone says is, “Did you get caught in the rain?” 😀

     

    Finally, a Mostly-Good Class

    mostly-dead

    From The Princess Bride, via blatant heckin bamboozlery.

    First of all: THANK FREAKING G-D. I have broken my week-long streak of disastrous classes, FINALLY.

    Today in BW’s class, I was not a giant freaking disaster area.

    I did not feel weak.

    I did not forget every single combination (in fact, I managed to remember all but one of them, though for some bizarre reason I kept doing inside-out turns on one of them).

    I did not feel horribly nervous or completely unworthy of BW’s tutelage and as such didn’t spend have the class talking, though I did ask several clarifying questions (another really nice thing about private class).

    My legs didn’t fall off and my foot didn’t start screaming at me.

    …Which is good, because it was, once again, the All Asher, All The Time show.

    When you’re having a terrible week day, nothing will make you feel worse than a private class.

    When you’re having a fairly decent day … erm … well, you’ll probably come out of your private class feeling fairly decent.

    Today definitely fell into that zone: I can tell I’m making progress, but the goalposts keep moving, so I keep thinking I’m so bad at this one thing, but I also think, I’m way better at this other thing.

    I wouldn’t say that I’ve got 100% of my strength back, but I’m also not sure that’s accurate. Were it accurate, I think the 8-8-4-4-2-2 grand battement would’ve killed me.

    In case you’re wondering, that particular grand battement is fairly hard, but still not as hard as Rayevsky’s which, if I remember correctly, went: 8 front, 8 back-inside, 8 side, 8 back, 8-front inside, 8 side, EFFING DETOURNE, straight into the other freaking side. Honestly, I feel like I’m probably missing something in there. Regardless, it’s clear that Mr. R wants his dancers strong—and he teaches with enough precision to warrant it.

    In the hands of an ineffective teacher, that combination could easily become a turnout-destroying exercise in futility, but Mr. R is one of those teachers who have 27 pairs of X-ray vision-equipped eyes arrayed all over their heads so they can call you out on failing to engage one wee finger of your deep rotators even when they’re looking at someone at the far end of the barre.

    Edit: I suspect invisible eyestalks may be involved.

    BW also teaches with that kind of precision. I am still totally in awe of the moment when he shot me exactly the right correction with his back to me and no mirror for guidance.

    Anyway, I think I’m in that in-between zone: kind of between levels. I’m working on sustaining higher extensions and so forth, and that requires a greater degree of strength in the supporting leg. I’m working on cleaner, sharper, turns with higher turn counts[1], which requires a better spot and more accurate placement[2].

    1. …Though, today I was just having a remedial “don’t turn the wrong freaking way” kind of day. There were singles and doubles and one triple, and that was fine, since we were aiming for precision.
    2. …And a steady supporting leg, which in my case also comes down to strength—or, more accurately, the balance of strength, as do extensions. BW noted that, for me, the challenge is balancing the extreme mobility of my hips and the natural strength of my quads by strengthening the rotators and other muscles that oppose the quads. Basically, I need to work on my butt. Even more. And not ever do anything extra with my quads, period, end of story. He might not have actually said that second bit, but it’s kind of implied?

    We also managed to get our petit and medium-ish allegro on, though we skipped entrechats this week. BW was pleased with my changements, which we’ve been modifying to improve my tours[3].

    1. This works because ballet is systematic and sequential: sus-sous balance begets soutenu turn and soubresaut, which in turn begets changement. Soutenu turn and changement together, combined with a strong plié, beget tours and then double tours (or, if you’re me, 1.5 tours >.<).

    BW has a way of saying to me, when we are in the midst of Accidentally Private Men’s Class,We do this this way…” and then explaining some subtle point of men’s technique and what makes that subtle point important.

    A solid double-tour requires that one’s legs squeeze together and stay there through the change of feet and through the rest of the jump, essentially because physics.

    If you ever had the opportunity to play on one of those rotating tire swings as a kid, you probably remember that you could make it spin faster by tucking yourself into a ball or slower by stretching out and leaning outwards.

    If you’ve done dance trapeze, lyra, rope, or any of the other free-spinning aerial circus apparatus that allow it, you also know that you can create insanely fast spin by making yourself into a vertical line that runs right up and down the vertical axis of the spin.

    The same principle applies to tours: the closer everything stays to the vertical axis, the faster you can turn.

    You can’t have your calves flapping around when you have to rotate twice around your own vertical axis before you land (facing the correct direction). That means you have to snap-squeeze your legs right the heck in from the tips of your toes to the tops of your thighs[4].

    1. …So if you’re a dude and you’re going to work on double tours, wear your best dance belt (and a smile, I guess?).

    To build this habit, you do a billion changements in which you do not snap the legs out and bring them back (as pretty as that is), but instead sort of pivot them around each-other as you would in the midst of a soutenu turn[5].

    1. This is moderately counter-intuitive, because in a soutenu turn it doesn’t feel like that’s happening … but it is.

    Anyway, that’s about all the braining I can manage tonight.

    The funny part is that I remembered our medium-ish allegro combination, but still proceeded to do it wrong because my brain would not engage. It ended with assemblé back no change, assemblé changé. That assemblé back no change tripped me up soooo many times, because (like every dancer on earth) I do assemblé changé a lot more often.

    In the end, though, I ran it until I got it right, which is another nice perk of flying solo in class. If you need to get a thing down, you can drill it ’til ya kill it.

    Anyway, I’m taking an extra class tomorrow in honor of BG’s birthday, and then the usual assortment of weekend shenanigans, and then it’s onto my self-imposed Dancer’s Hell Week; my wee Choose Your Own Intensive.

    You guys, I cannot believe it’s June already!!!!!!!

    All Forward Motion Counts?

    Today’s class was a … you know what, the French do have a term for it: a melange. A mixed bag. Tutti frutti, perhaps.

    Barre was good. Then bad. Then good. Then bad. I’ve mostly recovered my strength, anyway. There were some very nice balances, some very nice fondus … and some balances that weren’t, and some fondus that were really very much fondon’ts.

    Adagio started out awkwardly and progressed into beauty (thank freaking G-d). The waltzy terre-a-terre thing was actually fairly nice going right (musicality! literally effortless triples! literally acceptable chaînés!) and terre-a-terrible going left. I mean, so bad that on my second run left (when I inserted myself back into the last group for a remedial run), my badness became contagious and BG, who was taking class with us, blanked on the second half of the combination[1].

    1. Okay, so I’m not actually sure that was really my fault, but it was funny. What I think really did us in was this: as we prepped our run, BWK said, “Really travel on those waltz turns, gentlemen!” and then we put everything into traveling through the waltz turns and promptly forgot what the heck was supposed to follow them. For once, I remembered first, and stage-whispered, “Piqué arabesque! Turn!

    I then tweaked my mostly-healed toe and bailed out mid-run going left on the next thing, a very similar-but-rather faster terre-a-terre. I couldn’t get it taped fast enough to make it back in for the warm-up jumps, so at that point I was done. Meh.

    So, basically, several points in the “progress” column and several in, depending on who you ask, either the “regress” or the “congress” column[2,3].

    “If pro is the opposite of con, then the opposite of progress must be Congress.”
    —Attributed to Mark Twain, anyway

    1. Yes, that was a cheap joke.
    2. No, I’m not sorry.

    After, I joined AMS for swimming and roller-coasters (and inventing fake rides for an imaginary theme park of our own[4]), which may have been completely irresponsible, but which was also completely worth it. I now have a season pass to an amusement park that’s located barely more than a stone’s throw from my house and actually literally on the way home from ballet.

    Since there’s a water park there where I can swim my brains out in a wave pool, I intend to use the bejeezus out of said season pass.

    As is the way of these things, the season pass is less expensive than paying regular admission twice. It’s also comparable to or less expensive than a membership to various local swimming pools that don’t have waves and gigantic waterslides (or rollercoasters).

    This solves my “How can I do cardio without overworking my quads?” problem quite nicely. I can now go swimming a few times each week … and if the occasional roller-coaster or two sneaks into the deal, that’s probably okay.

    ~

    1. For your amusement, here are some of our imaginary theme park rides:
    • The Wheel of Poor Decisions: Located close to our Unlimited Drinks Buffet, but at the furthest possible point from all restrooms, our giant Ferris wheel will cause you to question your life-choices.
    • The River of Punishment (AKA Time-Out River): There is no splashing on this contemplative lazy river-style tube float. Also, no talking, no smiling, and absolutely no horseplay or fun of any kind. You should use this time to sit in your tube and think about what you’ve done.
    • Hangry River: Located at maximum distance from all food service venues, Hangry River offers a ride on doughnut-themed inner tubes through a veritable degistive tract of slow, sinuous curves. Fear not: as you exit the ride, you will pass through our otherwise-inaccessible Hangry Valley Food Court, where you can stuff yourself on pizza, doughnuts, and ice cream to your heart’s content.

    My Car Is Horrible Right Now; Brief Notes on Modern; Also, I Made A Thing

    At the moment, my car smells like the inside of someone’s dance bag.

    In fact, it smells like the inside of a dance bag belonging to someone who shoves his sopping-wet warm-ups into said bag after class and then forgets about them and goes home and the next day is like wtf did I do with my warmp-ups and then finds them when he goes to get his shoes out in ballet class the next day and shoves them back in his bag and forgets about them again until he finally remembers to bring the freaking bag in so he can wash them, which might take like an entire week[1, 3]. Ewww.

    1. I can neither confirm nor deny that this has actually happened to me[2].
    2. Possibly more than once.
    3. For the record, this problem is pretty specific to commuting by automobile, since taking public transit or riding a bike rather prevents leaving your dance bag in the car all week, doesn’t it? Though I did once leave legwarmers in my bike’s trunk bag ._. Good times, good times.

    So I’m planning on going after my car with some carpet foam tonight. Possibly also mowing the lawn (completely unrelated, but still something I should probably do), but we’ll see.

    Anyway, fairly good day in Modern today.

    I am still madly in love with floorwork.

    Perhaps I always will be? The lights (which are on sensors) clicked off about a quarter of the way through our floorwork combination, and we were just like, “Ahhhh.”

    C&amp;W_kittens_(544411242)

    TFW the lights go out during floorwork. (Credit: Paul Holloway from Birmingham, UK – C&W kittens, via Wikimedia Commons)

    Modern dance naptime, you guys. For real. It’s as refreshing as a nap without all that annoying napping.

    Meanwhile, I’m back to being able to withstand light pressure on the outside of my right foot, so it’s now possible to safety-release into various rolls from an upright position. It’s still iffy about turns, but TB (who has been in class with us a few times now—yay!) suggested a different way of taping it that might help, so I’m going to try that tomorrow and Thursday.

    I’m also continuing to work on knowing where UP is, which is remarkably hard (TB finds this unsurprising about me; I suspect it’s part of the “ridiculously hypermobile dancer” package).

    I’m also also continuing to work on not being so freaking terrible at scheduling myself. As such, I created a dance-specific calendar, and because I figured, “Why not?” I’ve posted it as a page. That way D can find it easily and figure out where in hell I’ve gone, which can be a problem when you’re married to a dancer who won’t stand still for 5 minutes.

    Turns out that it loads desperately slowly (read: about the same level of urgency as an unhurried sloth), but whatevs. It’s a start. I thought about making a separate calendar page for intensives, but that seems excessive. Instead, I made two separate calendars with joint output. The intensives show up in a red font; everything else shows up in blue.

    calendar

    A visual representation of a visual representation of a conceptual representation of … anyway, it’s a calendar.

    Why?

    Because I’m crazy awesome. Or something like that.

    That said, it turns out that I’ve YET AGAIN double-booked myself on so many levels it isn’t even funny, so now I’m trying to finagle my way out of the Cultural Dance workshop I can’t take because I’m in Lexington during half of it. That sort of forces me to take our AD’s masterclass, though, which I’ve been semi-dreading because, like, he’s our AD and therefore inherently terrifying.

    In other news, I guess it’s time to Order All The Dance Belts before I jet off to Lexington and then Connecticut. I have three that I like well enough; I would really like to have five so I never, ever have to worry about whether or not they’ll dry on time.

    I need to make up my mind whether to order another pair of Yumikos or to order some M. Stevens tights, also, mainly because there’s some lead time involved in acquiring another pair of Yumikos.

    Though, come to think of it, my Very Own Personal Yumiko Rep is about to jet off to a tropical paradise for an intensive because he is, in fact, awesome (no, really; last year he got invited to dance at Jacob’s Pillow), so that might sort that for me. I’ll have to find out when he comes back from Ballet Paradise.

    Back To The Log

    I think one source of my difficulties, this past week, was not eating enough, so I think I’m going to get back to logging everything for a couple of weeks.     

    We dined out with friends last night at a local Mexican place. I inhaled two sizeable burritos (together, they were about the equivalent one of Qdoba’s edible depth charges), which is way more than I can usually in one meal. Evidently, red warrior needed food badly[1].

    1. You guys, I played Gauntlet exactly once[2], aeons ago, as a kid. Why is this still so funny? (Blue elf shot the food!)
    2. I was terrible it, not least because I couldn’t stop laughing. 

    Anyway, between actually eating yesterday and foam-rolling my entire body and re-upping my Flonase, I felt better today, and class went fairly well. Some of it even went really well. 

    Oh, and I managed another quarduple. 

    Not smooth enough yet to call it a proper quadruple turn, but better than the last one. There was no hoppity-hop of shame this time, just, “One … Two … Threeeee … Oh, heck, I have time, Ffffffffoooouu…ur. Phew!” Actually landing properly fourth on the correct diagonal and everything. What the how, you guys.

    Evidently, it really does help if you just stay UP.  It’s the learning where UP actually is that’s the hard part. 

    Of course, after that I got excited and kept giving my turns too much force, so I’d have to forcibly stop them, then rotate so I was facing the correct corner. 

    Oops.   
    Going left, I made myself do a balance, then a single, just so I’d calm the heck down. 

    Also, today’s warm-up jumps ended with me going on merrily by myself, then asking, “Oh, there aren’t four more changements?” JMH just looked at me like, “U crazy.”

    Derp.
    Honestly, though, was just nice to feel capable(ish), which made it easier to relax and enjoy class. 

    On the other hand, my left leg doesn’t want to support eff all today, so there’s that. Adagio was glorious going right and a train wreck going left. Oh, well. 

    On the otber other hand, my efforts at using my eyes are working. 

    Anyway, this coming week I’ll make sure to Eat All The Things. My legs still feel kinda weak, but they’ll get there.

    ~

    PS: Bonus “sweat angel” pix. You’re welcome 😛

    It was Dr. Dance, in the studio, with the grand allegro!

    Product enlarged to show detail 😛

    Thursday Class: Wait, Which Left Hand Again? 

    Class today started out with a heaping plate of WTF.  

    BW gave me the first combination facing the barre. I had the counts alllllllll wrong and couldn’t figure out where my body was relative to my legs (you guys: WHAT EVEN IS THAT?!). 

    Then he gave me the second combination. Not only did I hose up the counts, but I forgot the middle of the thing and started on wrong side. Which I figured out when I went to do the combination left and then realized, “Frack, I just did this side!” 

    Fortunately, it was not all downhill from there. I mean, I felt weak as hell for some reason[1], but mostly didn’t completely screw things up, though it took a while to convince my knees that, yes, they needed to be all the way straight.   

    1. Read: probably A) that I hadn’t eaten enough and B) my allergies are on Security Alert Hot Pink OMG OMG Definitely Panic, which led to asthma acting up, which led to me taking my inhaler, which jacks my heart rate up through the roof, which obliterates my recovery capacity.

    Anyway, things eventually got better, and we did a stretch/fondu/extension exercise that is both pretty hard and a good measure of progress. Last time we did it, I had to content myself with extensions at 90 degrees front and side. I could get them up there flexibility-wise, but I couldn’t hold them any higher. This time, I found I had gained several degrees of sustainable extension and the ability to actually make my rotators operate whilst holding my legs up there (which, really, means I’ve figured out how to turn off my big, stupid quads). 

    BW also gave me a nice adage that involved slow half-fouettés followed by half-promenades into pdb-to 4th to en dedans turns, then reversing. That proved to be a nice little brain teaser and a nice piece of choreography. It’s also a great way to figure out if your butt has decided to take its lunch break without clocking out, so to speak: if your rotators and your butt check out, your supporting leg is gonna have a bad time with that transition from the fouetté lent going one direction into the promenade going the other way.  

    The highlight of the class, though, was a, little break we took to hone my waltz turns. I’ve never really been clear on what my head is supposed to do, which coincidentally turned out to be exactly what BW wanted address.

    So here’s a brief description of the technical bit, via the mental visualizations I used to keep it sorted:

    • First you lift your gaze to the Wilis on the far corner of the stage. 
    • Then, as you make the first half-turn, you sweep your gaze to the Wilis on the opposite corner of the stage (that is, the one where you’re starting out). 
    • As you make the second half-turn, you briefly make eye contact with the audience, then lift your gaze back to the Wilis awaiting you in the far corner. 
    • Repeat until you run out of waltz turns, room, or hit points*, whichever comes first. (*Because Albrecht’s Variation is basically a Ballet Boss Battle.) 

    If you’re wondering why this is all about Wilis, it’s because last year, when we were learning Albrecht’s Variation, we had all forgotten that it was from Act II’s scene where the Wilis are dancing Albrecht to death, and we were like, “What’s with all the gesturing to the sides of the stage? Where even is Giselle? Is this Giselle over here? Or is this Giselle over here?” 

    And then we went and watched videos and we were like, “…Oh.” Because, like, all that romantic gesturing is basically like, “Please! I’m too handsome to die this way!”   

    So now it’s always Wilis, Wilis everywhere when I’m trying to figure out where to point my limpid gaze. 

    Or, well, Wilis, Audience, Wilis, moar Wilis (because you have to populate the back of the stage with somebody).

    Honestly, whilst your mileage may vary like a mothertrucker, this visualization works like crazy for me.

    And, also honestly? I don’t want to know what that says about me o_O 

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