About Me

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Thursday Eve

I attended the last class with the artistic director at Joffrey Academy.  We were in Studio A upstairs again, where the Joffrey dancers take class and there was actually a dancer from the Joffrey Ballet in our class today.  I saw him in the elevator and didn't realize he would be in class; then, when I walked into the room, looking for a spot at barre, there was an empty space behind him, so I boldly went there.  He asked me if I wanted him to pull out a barre and I said that maybe I could learn something by standing behind him.  I found a foot stretching slab of wood on the floor and, sticking my toes into the strap, tried to stretch my entire leg taut, remarking to him that, this was as far as my foot would go.  But, after doing my elastic band stretches, I tried the stretcher again and somehow my arch popped up more.  I am inventive that way in class...

The teacher walked in and started to show the first combination, which we always did facing the barre.  I have taken to marking the combinations with him, moving when he does, to feel the movements.  It is one thing to know the movements and another thing to do them well and so I always try to imitate dancers who are more experienced and trained than I am.  So we did tendu side, plie touch working heel to ground,  tendus to the side, then tendus en croix bringing foot in a wrap to 5th.  Then we started class...

I noticed how the Joffrey dancer would often let go of the barre and move his arms with the leg movements.  Of course, he made no mistakes following the teacher at barre, or in center as I saw later.  And, he was bold and really moved, not a shrinking violet like me.  That's part of my problem, like the problem the dancer in Black Swan has, being more confident -- the director character in the movie told her to stop being so cowardly.  Insecure or not, you become what you do, I think.

Well, the class was the usual, with plies, tendus, ronde jambes, etc.  There was one nice combination where we did 3 degages front, 3 side, then bring inside leg in front and start from back.  Also, we did a temps lie movement in fondus.  Fondu front, step, temps lie, fondu back, temps lie, double fondu side, ronde jambes en l'air, passe to attitude, plie around and extend leg to fondu arabesque, then balance in passe.  We did en cloche legs with pique front, side, front, then to back, then fondu developpe into passe into fondu developpe the other way, developpe ecarte and flic foot derrierre and balance on demi toe.  We did plie push arch of foot, tendus side, same with inside leg, to plie and repeat.  We did beats with fondu to efface, to efface derrierre, to side, then demi toe and beat around the ankle.  Finally, there were grand battements:  face efface at barre, tendu, degage, battement, repeat efface derrierre in arabesques, then side battements.  We also did a combination with tendus to plie to detourne, then tendu inside leg back, soutenu, etc.

I went dutifully to drink some water and returned and the teacher promptly began showing the first center combination.  It was similar to what we had previously done in that it started with fondu croise, rotate to step derrierre with opposite arm, then back to front with developpe a la seconde, fouette to arabesque, promenade dehors in arabesque to fondu croise front, 2 glissades to renverse pas de bourre en tournant, pirouettes.  Then we did a similar tendu center combination:  tendus croise front 3x, back 3x, degages to side in 1st position, pas de bourre over and under with picked up feet which the director likes to do, into pirouettes.  We also did another pirouette combination where the teacher said to lean backwards as we developped into efface on demi toe and then did tombe pas de bourre into pirouettes en dehors.

We did a combination where we went to 5th position sou sou and then developped the leg to seconde while on demi toe into tombe pas de bourre pirouettes en dedans.  The teacher emphasized that when we do movements like this from fondu to developpe to move the head into the movement in order to keep a better balance.  There is a lot of torso movement like this in this teacher's class and the Joffrey dancer I saw today also said that this teacher does this all the time.  I think it's a nice feeling moving the body this way, instead of just feeling like your center is a dead fish.  The center is your core, but it is an interesting concept to move your core as well as your head and arms and not just the legs.  The legs do the work, but the rest of the body is important, too, in terms of muscular sensations.

I thought, watching these dancers who really moved in class so that it was hard for me to find my space in which to move, I will never really be a true dancer like this because I enjoy using muscular concepts too much.  I will always think of ballet as athletic, not just being in pretty poses and so I struggle to look feminine in dance class.  I was never the girly girl, but there is a place for dancers like me, too.  Why not?  I just need to be bold enough to stand by my convictions.  One thing I learned in class today, I can't stop myself to scrutinize my looks.  I need to feel freedom or I will cramp up and retreat into myself...

Well, it is almost time for restorative yoga class at the gym.  I missed going to the gym yesterday and today I was not quite as strong in class, but more of that later...

Restorative yoga was just what I needed.  We laid our heads on blocks and also placed yoga blocks under our middle back, to open our chest.  Then we did the standard yoga poses, downward dog, cobra, forward bends, but mostly we just relaxed into the yoga blocks.  Then I went for a brief swim -- I just had to -- emerged, and still wet, towel over my head, went to Pilates, which was difficult for me because there were a lot of positions where the legs were in 45 degree angles from the floor and it felt hard on my hip flexors.  Afterwards I asked the teacher if more reformer work would open up these deep areas, since on the reformer you have the machine as a brace.  It is interesting how machines can help you, I thought, after my experience with yoga today.  All the standard Pilates exercises done, I went home and almost fell asleep watching television with my kitten.

But the program was too interesting, so I ate a chocolate nut protein bar, something new I found at Trader Joe's today, because nuts are good for the brain and help you think, so I was jolted into a state of half-sleep to watch a BBC program about the history of Paris.  The hostess was a kind of intellectual student type of person, just the kind of person I like.  She spoke about the royals and how chocolate and cafes and fashion came into existence centuries ago when foreigners would travel to Paris for these things.  I learned that Marie Antionette was the first super model and her pictures illustrated the current fashion vogue.

Also, we visited with her the Bastille and all the famous historic places, including a Paris bar that had an actual guillotine, a small but deadly device.  Then she spoke of the old French intellectuals like Robespierre and the Rein of Terror and we saw the coffins with the remains of Louis XIV and other kings.  Then she spoke of the original Bohemians, thinkers who would get together in cafes and discuss culture and art and we visited the first cafe that existed in Paris.  This cafe culture was later adopted by the Paris students and we saw the Sorbonne and heard some students talking in French about philosophy.  I thought, I would love to be there in a cafe right now.  I love cafes and drinking coffee and thinking about intellectual things.

The program concluded with the modernization of Paris and the struggles of the poor, who live in tenements on the outskirts where there have been riots because these people feel slighted by the other well-to-do Parisians.  The hostess said Parisians will continue to be rebellious and avant-garde because that is what makes Paris stay vital and new.  It was nice to see camera views of Paris throughout, and I almost felt like I was there vicariously.  I love to watch programs like this that entertain and educate at the same time.

I know I am still being a thinker and not facing reality.  I want what she said in French in the show about having your butter and bread, to have my cake and eat it, too.  It is hard to stay real and still be imaginative, but it will come...

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