I woke up at 9:23 am and my class was at 10:30 am -- yikes!! I stumbled into my shoes at the door and just missed the bus! So I walked for about a mile until another bus came and arrived at my destination at 10:10 am, ran into the studio and rushed into class, my heartbeat still not settled. In walks the teacher, oh, no!
Slapping my face a few times, I knew the class would not be good because I didn't have my usual morning coffee and warm-up, but this was my last class for a while with my favorite teacher, who dances with the Joffrey Ballet and will be performing in the Nutcracker. Another dancer from the Joffrey was there, too, what a treat. Someone at barre commented that they needed to stand where they could watch someone and I remarked, look at the teacher!
I notice his stance and mostly at how good his plies are, really deep, controlled and rotated. I find it hard to control myself when I dance. I noticed how the girl I was standing with was able to balance herself in passe and then attitude, something which eludes me. I always feel that my back is like spaghetti and my arms are limp and then I sag and sit into my bones. In fact, that is what the teacher corrected me for at barre as he passed by -- don't sit!
Say what they will about working the arms and being strong, there is nothing like plain and simple good technique -- no frills, just accuracy and application. That is what I like about this class; there is no one quite like this teacher and I have told him so. Not only as a teacher, but because he performs, I am learning this other dimension, which my other teachers are noticing. Now I dance, finally! I have given my body a heart...
Now for the face. I watched the other Joffrey member's expressions. I am always afraid to look at myself in the mirror; I can't stand to see the naked truth. But, Cher on TV last night said the same thing, she hates to look at herself! Dancing is human, I feel vulnerable. How to overcome this, because I know I must...
Class was basic barre with lots of good stretches in between. Center was: four tendus, grand plie in 5th, developpe seconde, pas de bourre, pirouettes. Then another pirouette combination. I watched the Joffrey professional push from the floor and I was corrected me here, too, for lifting my heel from the floor before pushing with my foot...the connection between the knee and the ankle. I thanked him later for this very valuable correction and later the dancer I watched emphasized how I should put my whole foot down and push.
For jumps, we did lots of assembles, sissonnes and beats. I was a bit frazzled throughout and hope no one noticed, but rushing to this class was well worth it. Wistfully I watched my teacher give a private lesson to a student who just turned 12, thinking it would be a good idea to save my money to have one really critical class to correct all my faults once and for all.
Then I walked endlessly on this beautiful, breezy afternoon and eventually got to the gym, swam, and now must end today's episode before they throw me out of my favorite bookstore. Time, time is not my friend today...
Home and still reflecting...my back feels great and I feel so light...it is just the pure technique of today's class. My Saturday teacher remarked, form is everything. As she corrected me about having my hips forward, so does he today, demonstrating the wrong way to pirouette, falling back. No, no. I watched the private lesson briefly where he told his pupil to turn endless pirouettes, telling her, you're not tired, you're not tired and I began to see the form of a pirouette, as in a mantra. Everyone says go up because it's true, a pirouette is a linear turn which happens in a specific form and if you think about going around you will look like an amoeba -- it is not hoisting yourself around with your hip, it is pushing into the floor. Then he said to the young girl, see, your body will find a way to do it. It's all mental that you can't. Don't give up.
At the age of 12, I never knew what a pirouette was and this girl is lucky to have a teacher who is dedicated to seeing improvement. At my age now, I will never be as limber, I just wish to end graciously and with respect for the art form that has given me so many years of pleasure. I will miss this class even though it is tough, but I know performance is what it's all about, so *Happy Nutcracker to all, and to all a good night!
(*literary references coming from an English major, of course -- Shakespeare and Clement Clarke Moore)