Chapter 6 – Would you rather?

From my experience as an adult beginner, I have taken part in many different ballet classes.

If you have been following my story for a while, you know that I haven’t found the perfect fit for me…yet.

I just can’t work out what I want.

There seem to be the classes that are, for lack of a better word, „easy“

These are the types of classes where I feel under control. I feel in my element.

Then there are those classes that really push me. Everything is just a little bit above what I am able to achieve nicely. I come out of the class feeling either happy that I managed to nail a couple of the combinations, or feeling a bit low because nothing worked.

My ideal course would be one that would slowly build up to harder and harder combinations.

RAD is good, but it is very repetitive. We literally do the same combinations every week. Yes I am getting better at those combinations, but it’s getting a little stale.

I did a similar type of RAD course when I was about 13. It was the Australian version, BAL, and I can’t remember repeating everything over and over again.

What would you rather? A class that is your level where you are in control? Or a class that pushes you to the point where you feel you are just managing to keep your head above water?

You know what I want? I want to be one of those damn Master Ballet Academy students. Have you been watching their youtube or following them on instagram? They are amazing!! Like, they have such flawless technique. I just think „wow“ the whole time I see them.

Apparently they are going to release instructional videos soon.. I will definitely be watching.

I received my leotards from MStevens and I am in love. Having a new leo really makes a difference.

I’m still waiting on my perfectfit pointe inserts.

I am really torn with them.

One of the problems, I feel, of being an adult ballet student with their own money is that I can spend it where I want.

That might not seem like a bad thing, but I think I am susceptible to gimmicky things..

I keep thinking „oh maybe this will help me!“

In the end… I guess it is hard work and practice that will ultimately be the way to go.

At uni ballet this week, I had a bit of an off class. Barre was fine, although it was relatively easy compared to normal. I sucked at centre, but there was one combination that I really felt like I nailed. It involved eschappés and chassés.

But at the very end my teacher told me to make sure I don’t over-cross my feet.

It’s hard sometimes because a critique can be a double edged sword.

On the one hand, it means your teacher is watching you and feels that it is worth telling you because it will make you better.

On the other hand, it can be a bit of a blow. Especially when you think you nailed it.

In my RAD class we have a new girl. She is actually pretty good. Considering she managed to pick up the combinations and execute them pretty well in her first class says something. I’m guessing she is about 14-15.

She said she has been dancing ballet for 11 years.

We are worlds apart. I have been dancing for about 3 and a half years and I am 29.

Gosh there are times when I really wish I didn’t quit ballet as a kid.

Anyway, there is no point regretting the past.

Advertisements

Chapter 5 – umm.. remember me?

You have no idea how often I have thought about this blog. It’s weird, like a virtual friend.

I kept thinking „oh I should tell them about this!“

But I never made the actual steps to writing anything.

What have I been up to?

Apart from going to class I have been busy eyeing things I want to buy.

With Christmas coming up, I feel justified in my purchases…

Here is a list of things I have bought:

– Mstevens leotards (finally! I ordered them straight from company…and they are hopefully on the way to me)
– perfectfit pointe inserts (I’ve been eyeing them for ages and I think I want to give them a go. I am curious. I feel like I want a bit of padding in my gaynors, because I feel like I sink in them a bit, but I don’t want a whole pad)

What I am eyeing:
– The leotards by Claudia Dean (Collections by Claudia.. they look amazing!)

hmmm actually, that doesn’t seem like that much when I look back on it. Maybe it’s because I have also been buying a lot of non-ballet things as well.

Like I said, I am still taking class. I am going to the uni ballet class on Wednesdays, and my RAD classes on Thursday.

Last week, my RAD intermediate foundation class teacher asked if the class would prefer to take a mock exam in front of the head of the school, or wait to take the official exam around easter next year.

The class was pretty happy with taking a mock exam, they said it would be one less thing for them to worry about with school. Plus, they are all pretty bored with the combinations. They have been doing them for about 6 months longer than me.

What do I think?

Well, it kind of feels like I have been studying really hard for an exam at school, and suddenly the teacher says the exam doesn’t count towards our final mark.

In one way I am happy because it does relieve some of the pressure, but I am a little disappointed because I have been working hard. It was one of my goals to see how I faired against the RAD standard.

It would be nice to move onto the intermediate curriculum though. It will definitely be a challenge.

My teacher also asked another question. How would we feel about a new class uniform?

This I could definitely agree on. Our current leotard is a Burgundy colour and it made out of a soft material. The leg line cuts me off quite unflatteringly.

She said she was looking at a plum colour and that she will order a sample so we can see what we think.

Other then that, I don’t think I have been up to too much else.

Hope you have all been well in my absence!

Chapter 4 – Not the same Gaynors?

I took my first pointe class since the summer holidays this week. I was both excited and a bit apprehensive because I would finally be wearing my new gaynors to class.

The only time I put them on previously was to make sure the ribbons and elastics were sewn in the right place.

I didn’t want to wear them too much because I didn’t want to dirty them..

However, even just putting them on for those few minutes felt a bit strange. I just assumed it was because I hadn’t worn gaynors or pointe shoes for a while.

However, as soon as I put them on in class I could tell that they just didn’t feel right. My big toes were hitting the box before I even got on pointe.

How could they be too small??

They are meant to be the same size as my old gaynors, except with satin tips. They have the new gaynor code, but why would that make a difference?

I persisted with them during the last bit of class but I felt a bit worried.

We did piques on pointe across the diagonal and I was a bit disheartened. There was a time where I was pretty good at doing them on pointe on my right hand side, but that feels like years ago now.

I won’t even talk about the left hand side.

After class finished I decided to play around with the padding in my gaynors.

I tried them in class with only my toe spacers and the box liner.

Then I tried taking out the box liner and putting in the bunheads pro pad.

Then, to my excitement, I noticed that the class that usually takes place in the other studio wasn’t happening for some reason. So I put on my gaynors and tried pique turns towards the mirror. I actually managed some decent ones on my right side. My left side was hit and miss.

I wish that studio was always empty!

However, I just couldn’t shake the feeling that these gaynors aren’t right.

What is really strange, is that when I got my very first gaynors I was fitted with those thick silicone toe pads. This kind:

I think mine had an even thicker tip than those pictured.

I remember when I decided to stop wearing that padding my gaynors felt biggish… so I started using lambswool and a box liner. All was good.

So what is the problem now?

Well, I contacted gaynor and this is what they wrote:

„We do routinely make small updates to the way our shoes are made, to make sure that the shoes are being made using the most current methods and technologies. Between the satin and suede tips, you shouldn’t feel a difference in the fit of the shoe, since the change is being made to the outside of the shoe. However, depending on when the shoes were made, there may be some slight production differences – but nothing that should really affect the fit of the shoes.“

She asked me to send her the codes underneath the fitting code to see if there were any changes in production.

I really feel like that if I was trying these on in the shop I would have gone up a half size.

I thought that was the point of gaynor… that you can get the same shoe and it will feel the same.

I noticed that the padding at the tip of my old shoes has been pressed down where my big toes were, so maybe if that happens to my new pair than they will feel ok.

Or… do I sell these? or try and see if gaynor will take them back?

Can I wash my old ones and wear them to class in the meantime. They really are too dirty looking to wear them to class at this point:

IMG_9335

Plus I pancaked them.

Can I use sandpaper to get rid of the black off the leather?

I can’t remember if I admitted this in my blog anywhere. But I was browsing ebay a while ago and saw some gaynors in the size my fitter originally liked me in. They had a box 3…which I didn’t like. The only difference was that these shoes have a hard shank and I like the worn in shank.

I got them because they were cheap and I thought I could practice in them at home.

Although I never really used them to practice, I did experiment with them in terms of darning and pancaking.

Well, I decided to throw these ones in the wash to see what would happen. Maybe I can do this to my old class ones?

They came out of the wash a few minutes ago, and while they seemed to have survived, the pancaking didn’t budge. They also don’t look a whole lot cleaner…

I sent gaynor minden the codes of my old and new shoes, so I guess we will see what they say.

Have a great week!

 

Chapter 3 – Getting my Groove back

There are many great quotes about ballet. They talk about the beauty, the passion, and the artistry. However, a lot of them talk about the struggle too.

Take this quote:

„Ballet is a harsh exercise… Unforgiving to those who pursue it“

or this one:

“You have to love dancing to stick to it. It gives you nothing back, no manuscripts to store away, no paintings to show on walls and maybe hang in museums, no poems to be printed and sold, nothing but that single fleeting moment when you feel alive.”
― Merce Cunningham

Do professionals feel this way too? Because I know I feel this way pretty often.

I feel like I am constantly trying and trying, and sometimes I nail something and it is like a light bursts out of me.

During uni ballet this week we had a combination that included a double pirouette straight into a balancé. While I didn’t nail the double, it inspired me to add in a double spot into my spot practice routine at home.

I described this spot routine a long long time ago, but it is an exercise that a teacher recommended to me to practice spotting for pirouettes.

Basically you stand in front of the mirror and you just try to spin around whilst focusing on nothing else but your spot. She used to say that we should pretend we are little children who are just turning around and around.

Well, for the past couple of months I have just been focusing on making a good spot for one turn.

After being inspired by uni class, however, I decided to add in a second spot.

And guess what! It worked!

Our usual teacher was there for uni class this week.

Surprisingly I felt much much better in class. It’s weird. That first week it felt like everyone was speaking a foreign language, but this week I was speaking the language too.

After class another girl, who I kind of know, said that I looked like I had definitely found myself in class again.

Looks like I am on the way to getting my groove back.

Every week since the summer holidays began I have been practicing the Intermediate Foundation exam. I feel pretty confident with most of the combinations, however there is one particular petit allegro combination that is driving me insane.

It is the second petit allegro in centre.

I just can’t seem to coordinate myself fast enough. I can get through it, but it aint pretty.

I also have trouble practicing it over and over again because I just run out of energy.

I made the mistake of filming myself doing it…from the side. Holy crap it looked awful!! Like, truly horrible!!

I feel like this is one of those unforgiving moments that first quote mentioned.

What I decided to do was to play the music a little bit slower to see if I could sharpen my movements.

I tried at half the speed, but that was too slow. So I tried it at 75% and I felt a lot better.

I hope this idea will help, rather than hinder me.

75% aint that much different to 100% right?

I can’t tell if its better to just keep trying it at full speed, or work my way up.

It is times like these that I really really appreciate the art of ballet. How on earth do those Balanchine dancers do it??

Anyway, hope you all had a productive week!

Chapter 2 – Correlation does not equal causation

But in this case, I think it might.

Pretty much every night I have been doing elevés in first, second and parallel position as I brush my teeth. Admittedly, some nights I am too lazy to do them, and there have been weeks where I just got out of the routine…but I feel like I have been pretty consistent.

Well, I visited the dentist the other day for the first time in about 4 years and..

She commented on how nicely I take care of my teeth!

I think part of it surely has something to do with me brushing my teeth for longer while doing elevés!

Anyway, this week I feel like I have returned to my old self. I think it is mainly because I have the month off work and I have all this free extra time to do ballet stuff.

This week I practiced the combinations for the Intermediate Foundation exam. Oh, and despite my efforts I wasn’t able to find a studio to hire during the holidays. They just didn’t reply. I guess I left it too late and the people responsible for organising it are on holidays too.

I also did some old Kathryn Morgan beginner ballet classes.

I honestly forgot how much I enjoy her classes. I was so sore the next day. I couldn’t lift my legs up properly!

I would really like to keep doing one of her online classes a week, but I know it’s difficult to keep the motivation when I’m working.

In other good news, I had a breakthrough with pointe work this week.

Something that has always frustrated me on pointe has been my eschappe’s. They are so haphazard. Sometimes the are good, sometimes they are tiny. I definitely jump up to pointe and it all feels wrong.

Well, Claudia Dean posted a video about tips on pointe. If you haven’t seen it, check it out:

In regards to Eschappe’s, she talks about sliding onto pointe. I have heard this before, but I never really „got it“ until she explained it.

I think I have always been too quick to pop up onto pointe, that I don’t slide out enough before going up.

Maybe this problem has something to do with my strength. Maybe all the theraband work I have been doing has done something to help.

I think I am slowly starting to correct my bad jumping habit now, but it is hard and frustrating. It’s mainly frustrating because I don’t have the stamina (or patience) to practice over and over again.

What you might be more interested in hearing about, however, is how my second class back at uni ballet went.

Well, I definitely had a better attitude this time around. Maybe part of that had something to do with the fact that our teacher wasn’t there.

Do you remember that student I mentioned whose mother teaches ballet? Well, he took on the role of teacher in class this week. I guess our usual teacher was on holidays.

I have a feeling it was his first time teaching because the combinations were a little hard to follow in terms of musicality. However, I still had fun.

I also think he must take a class somewhere else where they focus on combinations for men. He threw in quite a lot of turns and jumps that men traditionally do. It was interesting, but I struggled a bit for sure!

You will be pleased to hear as well that I tried every combination this week!

I bought a new yearly planner this week too. It has definitely given me an extra boost to keep motivated.

Hope you all had a lovely week!

Chapter 1 – Loosing my nerve

As you might have noticed, my blog title format changed a little bit.

It didn’t seem fitting anymore to title my blogs per week. It is becoming pretty obvious I am not blogging weekly anymore.

However, this week I am blogging twice!

Basically, I just couldn’t wait to tell you all about my experience at uni ballet.

Well, for starters it was really weird going back. Have you ever gone back to your old high school, for example, and realise that everything is familiar but you don’t fit anymore?

There were so many familiar faces, but I didn’t know how to react to them. I was never particularly social in the class and I never made „friends“, so maybe that is why. I kind of felt like some people were wondering if they knew me from somewhere.

I greeted the teacher (and I narrowly avoided a „do we hug or not?“ kind of situation).

Now, when I attended this class last time it was a beginner class. Now it is labelled as an intermediate class. I just assumed for some reason it would still be like a beginner class..

Another thing I wasn’t expecting was the return of someone who, for some reason, really intimidates me.

Very very long time readers of my blog might remember her from this post. I also saw her again at a different studio, but I can’t seem to find the post on it (did I make one?)

I don’t know why this girl intimidates me so much. Maybe it’s her ice princess stare? Maybe it’s the fact I tried to talk to her once and she gave me a closed response? Maybe it’s all in my head?

Anyway, whatever the reason, I wasn’t too happy to see her in class.

The guy she used to come to class with wasn’t there, but she was with someone else. He was really good.

The class was a lot harder than I remembered. It definitely wasn’t beginner.

I was also having trouble figuring out the combinations. Not because of the difficulty, but more because she was demonstrating the opposite side to me and she was using a chair as a barre.

She always used to demonstrate like this, so I have no idea what was wrong with me.

Then we moved to centre. This is where I went weird.

I felt really slow and self conscious. At one point she wanted us to split into two groups for the adagio. I didn’t go with either group.

Than we moved to the diagonal. There were two grande allegro type exercises…and I didn’t do either.

Even though the majority of the students in the class are at a similar level to me, I felt too intimidated.

I thought about the combinations I missed later that evening and after practicing them in my head, I decided that I should be ok to try them next week.

I do have a question though..

How do you feel about „show offs“ in class?

I could be completely judging this guy totally wrong, but that one guy I mentioned as being really good kept changing combinations.

He put beats in everywhere, as well as a bunch of tours en l’air.

He is obviously a good dancer and was obviously too good for the class.

For some reason it kind of annoyed me.

I mean, maybe he knows the combinations are too easy for him and he is just adding things in to make them more challenging. However, something about it put me off.

I am all for taking an easier class to concentrate on the basics. However, if you then change the combinations to make them harder, doesn’t that defeat the point?

Maybe it is just my jealously rearing its ugly head?

Maybe I am meant to look up to him?

I know, I know, I need to concentrate on myself and not compare myself to others. That seems to be a big issue for me.

But, while I am talking about it, I also noticed that some of the other students had improved quite a bit.

One of the guys is pretty amazing now. Though he did mention his mum is a ballet teacher, so maybe that has something to do with it.

Even that guy who was all over the place is managing to hold some pretty nice balances.

At the end of class I signed up to continue class next semester. I just hope I grow some balls (and that that girl finishes her degree and doesn’t come back :P).

So, all in all, it wasn’t exactly the welcome home I expected…but it can only go up from here, right?

Week 120 – Going Back

If you haven’t noticed, I have been M.I.A

That is pretty much because ballet has been M.I.A in my life.

As I have mentioned in a previous blog post, my commitment to ballet has been waning.

Well, not necessarily my commitment. I still want to dance, I want to get better, I still have goals… but something is missing.

This hasn’t been helped by the fact that I have been working a lot lately and that all the studios seem to be closed.

The good news is, I have pretty much all of august off because of all the overtime I did at work over the past few months.

So what am I going to do with this time?

Well, I realised that there was one ballet class that I had completely forgotten about… the uni sport ballet class!

Long time followers of my blog might remember me going there for almost a year. I left because they restricted the number of students who could go per class. As I am not a uni student, I thought I might be bumped out of the class if a uni student wanted the spot.

Did I ask the student office if I was still allowed attend if I paid the fee? No.

I saw it as an opportunity to find something better. l wanted to go to an RAD school.

Did I reach my goal? I guess.

However, when I think about the class that I enjoyed the most in terms of class content, it is the uni class.

We did a decent barre, we did some core strengthening exercises, we did petit allegro, grande allegro and exercises across the diagonal.

I did moan a lot about one of the other students who kept invading everyones personal space. However, that is something I am willing to accept if it means going to a class again.

I also remembered that the teacher usually keeps giving class over the holidays.

Plus, when I left she told me in my last class I was welcome to come and visit.

So, I decided to email her. Classes were always pretty quiet over exam time and uni holidays, so I thought she might be able to squeeze me in.

And, in a ballet miracle, she said yes!

So I am going to go to her class tomorrow evening.

I am actually a bit worried that I will see that I have become worse as a dancer. I haven’t done grande allegro in forever. Pique turns? What are those again? Heck, even pirouettes are become foreign to me (except for the exercises I do at home – I am up to balancing 3/4 turns!).

I don’t know if I have to pay the fee yet because the semester is almost over. I am more than happy to.

The price for the the 1.5 hour class is €2. There is also a fee for non students per year which is €120. I think when I paid the yearly fee it was only around €50. Even so, it is still a lot cheaper than a traditional ballet studio class.

If I enjoy the class again I will definitely consider signing up… though I’ll have to get online quick to hopefully get a spot!

So, wish me luck and I will let you know how I go.