Two classes yesterday. The first, a very, very beginner class, which I love. It is an opportunity to focus on the simplicity of a clean tendú, a well-rotated demi-plié, and a strong foundation.
It cracks me up when I recognize how much harder classes are at a pre-professional level as compared to the daily warm-ups in professional companies. I understand why this is the way it is, and yet, I tell myself that if I do indeed get back into a professional company, I will vow to always come back to the pre-professional classroom to keep that strong foundation in place. Case in point, there are two dancers in this beginner class with me who are both with pro-companies but on the off-season. I listened to them after class as they commiserated in the surprising difficulty of this “basic” class. They, too, understand how much harder it is to buckle down and do a glissade with full plié and a perfect fifth every time.
We did jumps across the floor – not diagonally, but instead parallel to the mirror, all in first position. No cheating here: you can’t use your pelvis, you can’t thrust your head forward, you can’t let your lower legs fall behind. It is all in stark relief against that unforgiving mirror, letting the teacher know immediately what your body is trying to hide.
My arabesque is slowly coming into place so that it may elongate and elevate. I feel like there is tension in my back preventing my upper back and shoulder area from releasing into a more pliable back bend. When I perform an attitude derrière with the arm in fifth position, I can feel my shoulder cuff hit a wall of resistance, as if someone has put their hand on my scapula and is pushing against it, refusing to let my raised leg come any higher. The resistance can be felt from my shoulder up into my neck and head. I must figure out how to release this area of my body. I will reference Eric Franklin’s book “Conditioning For Dance” and research other suggestions online. Perhaps Feldenkrais or Alexander technique is the answer… what I do know is that merely stretching the back and attempting to force my body into a position is counter-productive.
The second class was adult-level, and the teacher was hilarious – AND helpful. She came over to assist in my second-split stretch, giving me the opportunity to fully relax into the stretch, which really helped. We discussed the dreaded piriformis muscle and how it may be the key to my extension going much higher. I will unlock this mystery. I am determined! However, I must remember that it may take longer than I want, being a Type-A personality, and allowing this goal to have its own timeline is tantamount to success. This reminds me to reinvest in daily meditation around the idea of release and patience.
I did the barre and part of center en pointe, in very dead shoes, which encourages my body to rely on proper alignment and use of core strength to hold a position rather than letting the shoes do the work. I felt a release in the pirouettes in center. While they still do not look pretty, they are progressing. Again, rotation and turn-out, engaging the inner core muscles to come to the party and hold the position of passé relevé, is my focus for the month of June (along with strengthening my obliques) and I feel excited to see what comes out of these goals.
I got in 16 fouetté turns on both sides, on demi-pointe, with a double-turn or two here and there, and that felt good. My hip is staying rotated and in the socket for the turns, as evidenced by the teacher observing, and my spot is continuing to strengthen.
Never Give Up. Never Stop Dancing.