Tag Archive | adult beginner ballet

Fouetté, Double Pirouette… Really?!?!

This is not a joke, a test or a fluke. This really happened. I actually did a fouetté, double pirouette. And this is something I have never done before, or let alone attempted until recently.

I am not sure what came over me. It was my last class before summer break and we were working on out normal pirouette combination. And while the instructor was helping a couple students with their technique I decided to independently give a fouetté a whirl. I prepped and executed the elusive turn. As I completed the revolution, I felt my body longing to turn in passé
once more. I thought, “Hell, I’m here let’s see if I can hold this position without falling over.” My body completed a single pirouette. Not bad! Then I felt my body working towards another swirl. And wouldn’t you know it – I did another turn! And there you have it! A fouetté, double pirouette! Boom.

Just to be sure my accomplishment wasn’t a complete fluke, I attempted the fantastical feat again. And there it was. I did it again. I wasn’t struggling or dancing outside my comfort zone. The movement felt very natural. It was wonderful.

So, in case you are wondering, what felt different than before? My supporting leg felt sturdy. I have been forced to take a step back from my multitude of classes and focus on proper technique (slowly) and as a result, my body is physically responsive to turning. It’s amazing. Plus, I am more relaxed than before. And I’m having loads of fun. My face can’t stop smiling. Even when I make a silly mistake.

So even though I don’t have a recital to blog about, at least I have something to be proud of. Turning is tough and when the movement becomes less daunting you just want to shout it to the world!

🙂

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Up, up, up and away!

What a positive way to begin a blog post. Don’t you think? Well unlike some other things in my life (that will remain nameless), ballet is a positive contributor to my world right now! Isn’t that just wonderful?!

I was reading a fellow bloggers recent post from Life and Times that focused on how you have good days and bad days in ballet. Isn’t that the truth?! One day you can land double pirouettes flawlessly and the next day you can barely spin around once without falling out of your passé. Bad days occurred quite frequently at my last Studio, but it doesn’t seem to be a real problem at this new one. Currently, I see or feel some noticeable improvement somewhere, someway in every class I take. I am actually able to execute the critiques that are given to me. Mind you, some of the critiques are pretty simple like remembering to align my hips or lift my arm appropriately in second. Regardless, I am getting better and I am finally regaining confidence in the studio. Confidence that I lost so many months ago. It’s exquisite to have my head back together.

Tonight, for example, we did a series of combinations involving pirouettes, jeté and some other movement I can’t remember the name of (something super Frenchy). Normally, I am coupled with the group of girls that are still the “beginners”. The level two students usually go first and separately because they have a higher tempo and have an expectation to execute the combination cleaner then the other students. Tonight, I was able to dance with the level 2 girls!! I am finally getting recognized that I am strong and consistent! (By the way, I hate to brag, my Jetes?? I don’t leap. I fly, yo. Hurray!)

I feel like my day is coming. I am going to be asked to move up. I heard her talking about some other girls in a different class. I think they are making these decisions because our next tuition is due soon. Will I get asked to move up (up, up) and away into a Level 2 class soon? Who knows! If not now, it may be in the near future. I inquired about taking some privates to help me progress and work on my rusty areas. Aka my tight left hip.

Well, I hope all is well. Smiling wide today.

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. 😉

Day One

As promised, I am going to detail “day one” of my new ballet journey.

But first, I would like to report that I have quit the other studio entirely. At first, I thought I would only knock down a class, but after some careful consideration, I decided I needed to make a clean break altogether. Boom. Done. I have gladly finished that chapter of my life. I held on to that place as long as I could, but enough was enough. I could not keep placing myself in an environment where I was constantly being misunderstood, and as a result, disliked and not trusted by the people I called friend and fellow student. So, I packed my pointe shoes, my fabulous leotard collection and my sparkling personality and B-lined to greener pastures. I wanted to call the General and thank her for all that she had done over the last year and 1/2 and explain why my departure was necessary, but to no avail. Instead, I texted the goodbye as best as I could. Needless to say, the General fortified my reasons as to why it was necessary to part ways. My departure is a good decision at this time.

I am also sad to report that I lost more then a mentor and studio from the mess that had developed over the last year, but a very important friendship as well. This friendship was destroyed as a result of a series of unfortunate events, and not coincidentally, centered around the studio I just left. My friend actually believed some of the terrible things said about me. That is the most frustrating thing about this whole situation and I feel there is nothing I can do to change her mind at the current moment. I think it is best that we take a break and reset. Hopefully, our relationship sill get back on track once I leave the studio and have had some time to breath.

Anywhoooooooooooo.

Day one. I am born. I am born a ballerina. Well, more like an aspiring ballerina, but a ballerina nonetheless. The new studio is 20 minutes from my home, which is much farther then my last studio. But hell, driving is a small price to pay for some tranquility in my life. I had to try the adult class to see what classes I would be eligible for. The instructor is very old school – quite, strict, yet helpful and encouraging. It was a welcomed attitude. I was nervous I was going to disappoint. The class went much better than I thought. The pace was slowed down a bit, but that’s ok. I need to work on so many things. Breaking everything down is exactly what I need.

Then came pointe. Ummmmm yeah. So nervous about that. I could tell the instructor was skeptical of my abilities, since she was aware that I had only taken ballet for 2 years. Well, the class went great! We did this combination across the floor where we bourree’d, while turning and doing our port de bras. So awesome. I felt so pretty. Then we did a waltz step in demi-pointe into a pirouette. I was able to do that too! At the end of class, I was happy to hear that I was good enough to take level 1-2 and pointe classes there!!! Yippeeeeee!

Although, I have to say. I know I have a lot of work ahead of me. There is so much I still struggle with, like executing combinations beyond an 8-16 count, keeping my upper body aligned and controlling my “gymnast” arms, as my instructor calls them; I worry I will look like a goon in the level 1-2 class. However, the instructor did say that it takes years to get good at ballet and that she was impressed as to how far I have come in just a short period of time. Well, that was encouraging! Also, I was not asked to do one triple pirouette! Hell, I wasn’t even asked to do a double! I just did my single pirouettes with a big old smile on my face!!! So, I think if I just focus on adjusting to this studios repertoire, I should be ok. *Squee.

Classes begin January 4th. I am so thrilled that I was afforded the opportunity to join another studio and take classes beyond a basic beginner level. I’m so excited to start classes in the new year. I can just burst!

I’ll keep you all posted. Thanks again for all of your encouraging words! You give me strength. Kisses!!!!

Time for Change

I need a change, because guess what. Things have changed and I have not adapted yet.

I realized something recently. Well, to be honest, two hours ago. When you are an “adult” ballet beginner, your goals are drastically more different then beginners in their adolescent years. Adult beginners are never, ever, going to go pro. I don’t care how bad you want to. That shipped sailed many years ago, my friend.

Adult beginners will always have limitations. A split or a decent turnout may never be accomplished, no matter how often you stretch. Or even spin without feeling dizzy or be able to do a clean triple pirouette without falling over. Work, work, work. It doesn’t matter. To an adult beginner – these forms of accomplishments may all be mere fantasies. Like unicorns and chupacabras.

However, “ballet reality” is different for an adolescent beginner who is, and I’ll be generous, 8 years old. The 8 year old will likely be able to become super flexible, turn without losing focus and even land quadruple pirouettes, if they work hard enough. Time is on the adolescent’s side. The world of ballet is at his/her finger tips. They need only reach out and grab that unicorn; right by its pointy, majestic horn.

Don’t get me wrong; I know that most adolescents who study ballet will never become professional dancers. I’m am not at all delusional about the realities of that career path. My point is that most people will never get decent at ballet unless you start early in life. Period. Reality just slapped you in the pie-hole and she is really, really ugly. Like throw a paper bag over your head, stick you in the basement and never tell the neighbors, kind of ugly. Yup. She’s a real beast.

You are now asking, “If you are not going to be any good, what’s the point of taking ballet as an adult then?” Valid question and well deserved. Allow me to enlighten you.

When you are an adult and take the deep plunge into ballet, your goals are different from an adolescents’. Sure, adolescents and adults want to learn how to dance, but adults need something more. Something added that may not ever be articulated, or even realized, by a much younger student. As adults, we need the experience. The whole enchilada. (Mmmmmmm. I really could use a burrito right now…..). This means: ballet education with lots of fun. That’s right – fun. Fun fun fun. Because what’s the point of working your ass off, pulling a muscle or herniating a disc unless you are having the time of your life doing it. You feel me??

When I started ballet I had education and lots of fun. The last several months – my experience lacks the fun. Like, entirely lacks it. As a result, I have been super miserable during every class.

So what happened? Well, a lot of things. Some of which I cannot go into. What I will say is that some of the friendships that were subsequently formed because of ballet (which I cherished, deeply) have disintegrated. Ok. Destroyed. Not by choice; by chance. Maybe it was entirely my fault. I don’t really know. I am not an easy person to like. Either way, the loss of this “interpersonal connection” has had an adverse effect on my ballet progress. So much so that every time I walk into the studio I cannot concentrate. I cannot function. I tense up and I shut down. It’s terrible and I cannot proceed at the pace I am going.

I need to rediscover the “fun”. I love ballet and I know I can have fun again. I just have to muster up the courage to make the change I so desperately need. Well, guess what? I am. January, 2014, I am going to take ballet back and remember why I started this journey two years ago. Time to kick ass on my terms. No excuses. This is my path and I’ll be damned if I am going to allow a minor set back in this process derail all of the effort I have made thus far.

My point to all of you adult beginners is to remember why you chose ballet or why it chose you. You may all have different goals, but in the end, we all want the same thing – fulfillment. If you are no longer getting the fulfillment from ballet, you need to be proactive and start reevaluating shit. You work way too hard and spend way too much money to compromise in what you set out to receive in this venture. Don’t be afraid to lose a little at first, because in the end, you may find exactly what you are looking for.

Happy dancing people. Happy dancing.

Happy. Happy. Happy.

Another (Unexpected) Master’s Class

Recently, I received word that there was another master’s class being offered in my area. The class was being taught by Ashley Bouder, soloist for the New York City Ballet Company. Big time stuff. Jessica Wallace, the founder of Ballet in Cleveland, sent me an email asking whether I would like to attend. I feel a little guilty – I didn’t respond right away. I didn’t think I was going to go. While I would like to think I have improved a great deal over the last two years, I am still a mere “novice” compared to the young ladies that attend these master’s classes. I usually end up feeling silly during a couple of the barre exercises and a complete fool during majority of the center combinations. I did not want to derail my confidence by placing myself in a situation where I would end up comparing myself to people that are more experienced and qualified to be taught by someone as prestigious as Ms. Bouder. That’s not fair to myself and I do not need any more “mental” delays.

Ms. Disney had been talking to me about the class. I told her I didn’t really want to go. She kept at it though! So, I thought I would just email Jessica and ask whether it would be ok to sit out during some of the more advanced combinations if I decided to attend. Not to my surprise, she said it would be perfectly acceptable to dance at my own pace. What was surprising was the fact that Jessica actually discussed me and Ms. Disney to Ms. Bouder and wanted to make sure we attended. Ms. Bouder stated that she wanted all levels and ages to enjoy the experience of her class. Well, how in the hell could I say no to that?!

The day came and Ms. Disney and I were very excited. In order to ensure I kept my good spirits, I wore my faux fur coat and red lipstick to class. Yup, I may be oldest ballerina in the class, but I am the most fabulous bitch in the room. Period. Holla. Next question. (Ha!).

Anywho – there were a ton of girls attending the class. I was a little surprised by that – I figured all of the better dancers would be preparing for the Nutcracker. I was wrong, so wrong. Ms. Disney and I took a spot at a bar at the far end of the studio. Little did I know that that decision was probably the worst I could have made. I could not hear, let alone see anything Ms. Bouder was teaching. I swear her voice was on mute the entire time. Because I was at the far end of the giant studio filled with exquisite pre-professional GIRLS, I could barely see Ms. Bouder show the combinations. At one point I even crouched onto the floor to see if I could just catch a glimpse of her feet. Fail. To top it off, the combinations she was doing were crazy difficult. I mean – at one point I just stopped trying. I stood there like a giant goon. Ms. Red-Lipstick-Gooner at your service. Look at me! I do nothing, fabulously. Blech.

Then came center…..center of hell was more like it. The combinations went from hard, to hardest, to non-professional-dancers-need-not-apply. I only tried one of the five that were done. I when I say “try” I mean I fumbled in a corner and tried not to be noticed by anyone, especially Ms. Bouder.

After that (pathetic) display came the pointe combination……..yeah. I wanted to learn the combination so bad. It was just so fast and complex. I just, I just….couldn’t do it. I threw up my arms and said “Enough!” and I (angrily) took off my shoes. As I was leaving I saw Jessica and thanked her for the opportunity she gave me and Ms. Disney. Jessica is so nice, I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I felt like a pile of ballerina poop and I just wanted to go home and drown my sorrows in red wine. Besides, it wasn’t her fault. She just wants me to be a part of it. I love that about her and I would never turn any opportunity she bestows upon me.

So – what did I learn about this experience? Well, honestly, nothing. While Ms. Bouder is a phenomenal dancer, her teaching skills were too advanced for this budding ballerina. Ms.
Bouder’s style was very fast paced and more in tune with students who are in actual dance schools and maybe training to be “professionals” in some capacity. And that is clearly not anything close to what my level is. I was so out of my league, I didn’t even do enough to break a sweat….. So pathetic.

So, do I feel bad? No, not really. Like I said before, I feel pretty good about where I am at. In the last couple of years I have have learned so much. I can do so many things. I have nothing to be ashamed of. I am confident enough in myself to know that even though I am not able to learn choreography in millisecond (literally), doesn’t mean I have not accomplished anything. I have received so many emails from people who have felt “inspired” by my accomplishments (you know who you are, wink) and even though they are probably being very kind it still feels good. I started this blog so I could show others that anydream is possible, not matter how big it may seem. I think my blog is actually doing that. That makes me feel good.

So, even though my Bouder experience wasn’t “super”, I think I may have walked away with something. That being – I can take a dance “hit” and keep going; my readers are the bestiest; aaaaaaand I look great in red lipstick and faux fur. Boom. And what. 😊