Archive | January 2014

Progress (and) Needs Improvement.

Since my ever so revealing post (thanks for all the support, by the way), I have really focused on developing the skills I need to advance in the next class. As in the General’s studio, I really want to earn the right to advance. I don’t want to be asked out of obligation. I had no idea how much I enjoyed, nay missed, just learning classical ballet technique. The whole class is dedicated to balance, strength, foot work and ballet terminology. When we pirouette – we only do singles, and they are not that often. Wow. That’s a change. I’m glad I can finally start polishing my single pirouette before putting the pressure on myself to pulling doubles or triples. In fact, I love that we are not pushed to kick too high, turn too much or to generally overreach ourselves before we are capable of executing more. We don’t even stretch that much. (Regardless, I’m still pretty flexible. Score!).

I have been at the studio for a month and I believe I am getting better at the things that were initially preventing me from moving up. I am struggling less with the combinations. Maybe my confidence is up? That’s a definite possibility. I also do like a challenge. I want to do better and it feels possible at this studio. Like, it’s within my reach and not beyond my capabilities.

Anywho, I think my instructor is starting to challenge the class a bit. Well, I am being challenged for sure. She placed me in a group with a slower tempo combination (not the slowest though, so cool). But after we went once, she asked my group to do it again and increased the tempo. Well, I know I could do it and I did it. Sooooo my assemblé to my left wasn’t perfect, but I rose to the challenge and finished the combination. I finished it and I was proud. [Boom.]

So now that I am feeling better with barre work and combinations in center, I am hoping to improve on two other things in the 4 weeks (1) keep my hips in alignment when doing leaps. We often do a traveling arabesque-pique-arabesque-pique-arabesque-run-run-run-jete(!) at the end of class. I have good height, but I think when I look in the mirror to check my form is actually throwing my alignment off. I just need to remember to keep my eyes focused on the direction I am traveling in and I should be good. (2) I having turnout problems. Well, when I do tendus or dégagés en dedan. I mean, what in the hell is up with that?? My turn out is decent everywhere else, except for the back. It’s ga-ross. I stretch my hip flexors all of the time, but still I dread simple tendus or dégagés en dedan. If I make my turn out proper, my alignment gets messed up. If I keep my alignment proper, my turn out looks like garbage. Any suggestions?? What can I do to improve this??? Need to keep truckin. TRUCKIN.

Well. I’m done ranting. Ta-ta-for-now fellow ballerina/o’s!!

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Confessions of an Adult Beginner

I have not posted in a little while. I was required to face some hard truths. I didn’t want to post about it at first; I was too ashamed. I didn’t want some people to know of my apparent failure. But after some thought, and some really good classes, I got over myself and realized I have to blog about it. I think that my followers, friends and “non-haters” will not judge me harshly. Plus, I am hoping to help some of the discouraged beginners out there. I eventually found a silver lining to my black cloud; maybe I could help another beginner find his/hers.

…..I have a confession to make. After taking only one level 1/2 ballet class at the new studio I was asked to take step down and remain in the “adult/teen” class only; including NO pointe. At least for the time being. I was devastated. I cried my little eyes out; I couldn’t even lift my head for 3 hours. I thought my dream had ended. My heart broke.

“What happened?” you may ask? Well, a really bad class. Like, I stood on the side and watched the last two combinations, bad. It also didn’t help that I was 20 minutes late to class (I got the evil eye from my new instructor; so embarrassing), I had a fall out with my best friend, and the always faithful, giant ball of nerves at in the pit of my stomach for the majority of the class. To top it off, I realized something very quickly at the barre. I think my basic ballet technique just sucks. I know it sounds crazy, but let me explain.

In the last studio we focused a lot on flexibility training. For instance, the General would have us stretch a lot during class. I would say that in a 2 1/2 hour class (on average) about 45 minutes would be spent on stretching. Yeah – that is a lot of stretching. Needless to say all of the General’s students are pretty flexible. In my current studio? The class stretches for 5 minutes prior to warming up at the barre. That’s it! I was worried my flexibility would regress, but it has not. In fact – I can almost do my right split again. Wahoo! The healing has finally begun! [But I digress]

Furthermore, the General was really into teaching the students how to execute difficult turns. Double/triple pirouettes, fouettes, turning attitudes, you name it. We were all expected to attempt these more advanced moves regardless of skill level. I was surprised when I wasn’t asked to do any more than a single pirouette in class. I was actually a little disappointed. I wanted to show these ladies what I can do and I was shocked I wasn’t requested to do more!

Lastly, the General always pushed the students to get strong. It seemed every movement we did centered around getting stronger so we could perform the difficult combinations that she envisioned her students doing at the end-of-the-year show. My current studio definitely wants their students strong; but it’s not the main focus of the class. Not by a longshot.

So, enter LB at the new studio and I am one of the strongest, more flexible students in class. Yet, I am the most pathetic ballerina. HA! How sad is that?!

My alignment is off. My hips and chest, CRAP. I can do ballet movements, but cannot put them together to save my soul. Let alone do them quickly. Strong, classical ballet technique is the focal point at the new studio and I felt completely unprepared. Initially, I thought there was no hope for me; I wasted all of my time and energy and endured a LOT of pain to come up with a big ol’ fat goose egg. “What’s the point?! I am back to square one. Why keep doing this? I am never going to get any better!” I really questioned my future in ballet. I wasn’t sure if I was going to show up to the next class.

After many tears were shed and my ragged pride was swallowed, I threw on my favorite Lady GaGa t-shirt and went to class. Then I went to another. And you know what? I actually had a great time. At first, I was kind of discouraged about my “handicaps”, but then I quickly realized I am capable of correcting my problem areas. The things that need improvement are not that tough to correct and its significantly easier to do now that all of the stress of the studio environment has been alleviated. *sigh.

Not only do I feel like I am physically able to improve, I have the incentive to keep improving. I will not get to put my pointe shoes back on until I show my instructor I can advance/polish my basic ballet technique. My instructor has her eye on me and I can tell she wants me to move into the other classes. She is very attentive (as she is with all of her students) and corrects my mistakes, but she is very positive too. She is not super friendly, don’t get me wrong. She certainly dominates the classroom. Her technique is different from the Generals. Not better necessarily, just different. Plus, since I don’t have a friendship with the new instructor, and drama to go along with it, there is no pressure in the studio. I always wanted to please the General, and with the new instructor, I am not so worried I am going to disappoint her. All I want to do is show her I can dance so I can advance (and then prance with a lance until I find a guy named Vance). [Sorry, that sentence rhymed and I always feel the need to just see how far I can take it. Ha!]

So, I confess. LB has stumbled a little; but she won’t stumble for long. I am going to take the skills that the General gave me and earn my way into pointe and the Level 1/2 class. I know I will be able to accomplish this goal (with a little hard work). And when I do, it will feel so very, very good.

A wise man once said, “Sometimes you take two steps back in order to take twenty forward” (aka my brother-in-law. He said something like this to me, but I don’t remember exactly because I was crying when he said it. HA!).

Keep your positive vibes coming my way. I will do the same for all of you. 😉