A bit about the Waltz

The waltz step is hard.

Beginners often struggle with it, and I am no exception.  Oh, I get the step.  I know what I’m supposed to be doing.  I get the rhythm.  I know where my feet are supposed to go, where my arms will end up, and the corners and directions I should be travelling towards.  But actually DOING it is another story.

Actually, that’s not quite true.  I can do it.  I have done it.  But I know it’s not pretty.  It’s not graceful, or fluid, or any of the lovely things the waltz step is when I watch the other girls in class perform it.  Either my feet get sloppy, or I add and extra step, or my arms never quite match my legs.  It’s just hard.

Until it’s not.

I feel like ballet is always this way.  Something is difficult, impossible – until it’s not.  Until one day you can just do it.

Last night, my waltzes to the right just clicked.  It all worked.  And I felt graceful, light, and lovely.  The left wasn’t as great, but the whole class was worth it for that One Perfect Waltz.

 

On a side note, I have not abandoned Sunday Splits!  I took this week’s pictures, but my phone and tablet are clearly in a fight and they refuse to cooperate to upload photos.  Once they are reconciled, I will post!

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Visions of Sugar Plums

You guys.  Something happened last week after class.  I was walking out with my ballet friend (who I shall call Running Ballerina, as she is a serious runner).  Madame was talking to a new student, but motioned for us to wait for her to finish.

(I don’t know why, but I immediately got that butterfly-in-the-stomach-the-teacher-asked-you-to-stay-after-and-you’re-in-trouble feeling.)

But she told us that a couple of the women who usually do the party scene in Nutcracker were unavailable for some performances.  Would we like to fill in and be part of the show this year?

WHAT??

So let me repeat – Madame asked us to appear, on stage, as part of one of the studio’s performances.  With the Real and Serious Dancers.

Unfortunately, I have plans that take me out of town for the entire performance weekend.  It’s crappy luck, because my theatre-loving heart fluttered at the thought.  So sadly, I had to decline.  I think Running Ballerina will do it though.  She’s never been onstage, and I hope she has a blast!

Even though I can’t do the show, the point is that Madame asked me.  ME.  Me who has been taking ballet at the studio just over a year.  Me who feels like she constantly struggles with parts of class.  Not several of the other girls who have been taking classes longer.  Not the other girls who are, as far as I can see, better dancers.  Talk about a confidence booster!

So, alas, no Nutcracker debut for me.  But maybe next year??

Sunday Splits Update!

Or rather,  Sunday Splits clarification with better photos??  I suppose since I cheated and started on Friday, there won’t be much progress.  But here’s to sticking with it for two whole days!

IMG_1418 (Right leg front splits.  Confident this one will get there!)

IMG_1420 (Left leg front splits.  Definitely easier to see in this photo.)

IMG_1422 (Middle straddle splits.  Yuck.  Anyone have stretching suggestions??  But check out my adorable “Adopt” tee!)

See you with some splits next Sunday!

Sunday Splits

I really want my splits.

I know it’s silly.  I’m too old for splits.  Splits aren’t necessary to dance ballet.  There is no class that will kick me out after failing to produce a proper split.  But none of that matters.  I want it anyway.

It takes time and stretching.  That’s all.  Keep working, and it will get there.  Or so I keep telling myself.  So, in an effort to reach my silly little goal, I have decided to begin a segment henceforth known as Sunday Splits.

Every Sunday, I will post photos of my splits.  Hopefully, there will be improvement.  But above all, I think a weekly post will force me to keep up with my stretching.  Should any Sunday pass without a post, feel free to say, “Hey, KitTeaCat, where the heck are your Sunday Splits?  Get cracking!”

Without further adieu, the first installment:

IMG_1405 (Right leg front split.  I think the shorts make is look closer to the ground than it actually is, but definitely my better side.  Also notice Francisco in the background clearly asking “What the hell is Mama doing?”  I hate him a little because of his effortless flexibility. 😉)
IMG_1406 (Left leg front split.  Long way to go.  And now Loki has joined in on the fun.)
IMG_1407  (Middle straddle split.  Ewww.  Needs SO MUCH work.  I hate this one.  And also, sorry for the lovely butt view.)

(I, of course, realize it is Friday and not Sunday.  Nevertheless, I begin Sunday Splits today.  Because I am a rebel.  And an overachiever.  And Friday Splits doesn’t have the nice alliterative ring to it.)

Reverence

Ballet class follows a predictable progression.  Barre work begins with plies, moves to tendu and degage, and so on.  We move to center, then across the floor to end with jumps.  No matter where you  take class, the progression is the same.  And if you take class repeatedly with the same teacher, you get a feel for which combinations come next.

Madame always ends class after grand allegro with “Lovely work, that’s all we have time for,” we applaud, she takes attendance, and we each thank her in turn.

Except last night.

Last night, after we had landed the last grand jete,  Madame said “Find a place in the center.”   She put on new music, stood in first position, and motioned for us to follow along.

Halfway through, I realized I was doing my first ever reverence.

What a beautiful way to end class!  It was relaxing, and lovely, and thankful – even though we had no idea what we were doing.  I am really hoping this is a new tradition for class.

First Balletversary: What I’ve Learned

This week marks the 1st anniversary of my first ballet class. I am now consistently taking two classes a week (and wishing for a third!). Through the year, there have been good classes and bad classes, an injured ankle, and several new leotards.

All in all, a wonderful year.

Here are some of my favorite lessons:

  • I will never look like a ballerina – or, at least, I won’t look like the stereotypical version of one. I’m too tall, my feet are flat, my boobs are too big, and my shape is too curvy. But it doesn’t matter. The most beautiful dancers in my classes aren’t the ones with the perfect shape or size.
  • Spotting is impossibly difficult for me. But nearly throwing up after a few chaînes isn’t so great either – so I’ll keep trying!
  • Dancewear shopping is addictive. My latest obsession is with warm-ups.
  • Getting away from what’s comfortable is necessary. Every new step is terrifying the first time, but can only improve after that.
  • Magic can happen in tiny ways. Last week, Madame walked up to me when we were balancing in sous sus at the barre and pushed my shoulders forward a fraction of an inch. BAM! My balances were twice as long for the rest of the class!
  • Adult ballet students are wonderful. This is true of my classes, and the huge blogging community I’ve discovered (that’s you!).
  • I love jumping. I like big steps and big movement.
  • My feline companions also love ballet. Or rather, they love napping in the window while I do my barre exercises at home.

And the best lesson of all is that the lessons will keep coming.  Off to class!!

The Large and Small of It

I had a unique experience this week.  I showed up to my Monday class – usually jammed packed full of eager ballet students – and found myself as one of three students.

THREE.  One, two, three.  Three students is too damn near being the only one who shows up for class and accidentally getting a private lesson.  And it’s terrifying.

You can’t hide in a class of three students.  There is no chance that Madame was watching everyone else, and missed my horrible excuse for frappes at the barre.  She definitely saw me fall out of my balances in center.  And she most certainly saw me screw up the combination across the floor.  Because I was the only one doing it.

But after I got over the initial shock of being highly noticeable in class, it was actually kinda fun.  I got some new corrections – new because Madame probably hadn’t seen those mistakes before with a full class.  And I had no choice but to dance.  There was no one to hide behind.  No one’s feet to watch and tentatively mimic.  It was just me and the music and my clumsy feet.

But Thursday came, and class was back up to its normal levels.  I was (somewhat) anonymous again.  I felt relieved . . . but also a bit sad.  Because I found myself dancing a little smaller, looking down a little bit more, and not trusting my body to just DO it.

Something to think about.