A Little More Time 

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Roll it out

Ballet at the Barre

Ballet was pretty good this week, considering I was pretty tired when I went along at 5pm last night. We did our warm-up followed by some plié relevé foot exercises, and then some coups de pied, tendus, glissés, grand battements, fondus and developpés. We finished the lesson with some jumps – petit jetés, and our favourite exercise of chasses and changements, which I was asked to demonstrateargh! I was complimented on the fact that when doing a 2nd arabesque I lifted my toe off the floor on a particular note in the music. I really wasn’t aware I had done that! My weaker left knee did bother me a bit during the hour, but it will get stronger.

Rhythm Tap

I was there in almost a haze really. The two girls who had also been chatting last week when 4 of us were late going into the studio were, like me, watching the clock, and we went in the MINUTE the music stopped! K, who was already in there for level 1 said it’s alright to come in and start getting ready.

I think I was a little thrown by the amount of extra people who were there from the Wednesday night classes, and found it difficult to see what was being demonstrated at times. Or we were too close together.

We warmed up, did a couple of exercises and then got into our routine. I was all geared up to demonstrate the fact that I’d practised what we’d learnt the previous week, but we moved on to learning a new bit instead. It kind of went over my head. I think I could get it if I had more time going over it, but it was going too fast for me this week 😩

Chatted afterwards to a girl who does level 3 tap and does Swing dance classes. I asked her about level 3 and she said it’s really hard. Yikes!

Refresh 

Ok, I did it…I redeemed my City Lit discount voucher and booked a place on the Ballet at the Barre course starting on Wednesday 20th September! It starts a week after tap begins, and runs for 12 weeks. Tap runs in 6 week blocks (Thursday lunchtime) so I may pause after the first block is finished and concentrate on ballet until January.

I wasn’t going to enrol, but all year I’ve felt like my body has seized up a bit and I’ve lost my core muscles, posture and ankle strength since solely doing tap, and I really like the strengthening and flexibility that ballet provides.

I’ve forgotten everything I learned, so I’d better refresh my memory while I’m away in Cornwall next week!

Good things…

…come to those who wait

 

Citylit
Image courtesy of Hotcourses

Last week I got an email with a £10 voucher code to entice me back to Covent Garden’s City Lit. I have been considering booking onto Ballet at the Barre on Wednesday nights, which I absolutely loved and miss the discipline (and conditioning) of, but:

a) last time I tried to do that and tap the day after, I was exhausted and my memory wouldn’t extend to two different routines, even though the ballet one was ridiculously easy.

b) I need to cut back on my spending as the house move approaches and all the (many) expenses that go with that.

I think I might have to delete that email and just wait until next year :(((

I’ll let you know.

Third Position 

I haven’t done ballet in over a year, so just checking if I’ve still got it LOL. Even if I don’t sign up to a class in the autumn, I have several DVDs of traditional ballet barre class (and some that are more of a fitness workout) as you can see below!

Actually, my achilles tendons are aching a lot and I need to sort out my posture and alignment…head to toe!

(Lace-up Shoes from TK Maxx)

Memory 

Since I started doing two Rhythm Tap classes back to back, I have to say I am struggling to remember both of the routines that we are learning.

I don’t know if it’s because I’m going after work when I’m tired and/or frazzled or if I’m just no longer able to remember multiple routines anymore…nooooo!

Turns out I’m not the only one! Another lady in my class said the same thing. I think my problem is that I remember bits of both, especially if they share a common step (like step-heel-step-heel-step-heel-heel).

When I was doing Ballet and Tap (Weds and Thurs respectively) I found I could remember the tap routine but couldn’t remember the barre warmup sequence in Ballet, which was actually really easy.

Anyway, my tap colleague asked if the level 2 routine could be filmed, so I was delighted to receive the video link last Friday so I can practice 😀 (sorry, I can’t share this with you).

DVD Review: Sleek Barre Technique

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Seeing as I missed Floor Barre on Thursday due to illness, I decided to use Sunday morning to try out one of my new Ballet workout DVDs from the gals at Sleek Technique, Sleek Barre Technique. (Although you can see that there are 3 DVDs in the box set, I am reviewing Barre today. More to follow!)

The workout is split into sections, with an introduction and tutorial at the beginning to cover the main feet and arm positions, ballet terminology and tips, such as lifting out of your waist. After this comes a warm up of squatting and fairly quick arm swinging to get those muscles ready for the next bit.

The main workouts are Barre 1, 2 and 3, which are 20 minutes each and each have some floor work before launching into the familiar exercises we do at the barre, such as plie, tendu, pique, fondu, grand battement, arabesque, retire, attitude. I used a chair in the living room rather than my barre and I really enjoyed the practice of these exercises, especially on Barre 2, but I did find them quite fast, particularly the transitions between them.

If you are a complete beginner to ballet, I think it is best to watch the sequences through first to get an idea of what you will be doing and to gauge the speed of it. As someone who has been doing ballet classes for about 2 years on and off and having danced other styles a lot longer than that, I struggled to keep up or perform the correct technique before they had moved on to the next thing. As a dancer, I don’t want to get into bad or sloppy habits or injure myself, so that’s probably why.

The demonstration of the movements is good, the filming is good (no legs cut off at vital moments!) and I love the warehouse setting and their Bloch leotards. Barre Technique is excellent for toning, strengthening, lengthening muscles, building a strong core, posture and speed. I looked up some reviews on Amazon and lots of non dancers seemed to say it was a great workout and easy to follow, but the dancers like myself had the same issue of compromised technique!

Verdict: a good fitness supplement to regular ballet class attendance. Practice makes perfect!

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Foot Flexibility 

It is good to regularly stretch the feet and toes when you dance, for health and for flexibility. I have a tendency to grip the floor with my toes (like cat claws!) and last summer I had plantar fasciitis (inflammation of the band of muscle along the sole of the foot) from repeatedly wearing a pair of unsupportive memory foam Skechers, so I got into the habit of stretching my feet to sort it out. However, as soon as it got better… I got out of the habit.

Deciding that 2016 was going to be my ‘year of dance’ (as in dance all year) I’ve been pounding my feet a lot with Tap and Ballet, so I really need to look after my them.

I have a set of 3 Pilates Stretch Bands (light, medium, heavy) and two spiky massage balls. Every evening I roll the massage balls along the bottom of my feet to loosen the muscles and improve circulation. I then use the stretch bands to pull my toes towards myself. I also do some point and flex exercises while sitting on the floor. It definitely makes a difference.

Point your tootsies

After missing a week of Ballet at the Barre due to being stuck at work in a boring training course, I was back to it on Wednesday, pink leotard in tow!

This week I was a little nervous about our warm up section because I KNOW I keep turning my head the wrong way and then don’t know which arm I’m supposed to be reaching up and over with. Martin stopped us last time and ran through it again, and I thought it had gone into my brain. Not sure it had! Anyway, I have since practised that bit at home.

This week’s feedback was on my hip alignment (need to keep an eye on that when working the outside leg in say, ronde de jambe) and on the need to remember to point my toes during changement. I love jumps, but I did find this one quite challenging! I think it was the speed of getting in and out of 5th position more than anything. I need to make more use of the barre to get height. Another thing to practice at home!

A helpful article from Dance Spirit Magazine: https://www.dancespirit.com/how-to/ballet/hop_to_it_/

Definition: A changement is when a dancer performs a jump from fifth position with the feet, jumping and changing the foot position in the air so they land with the opposite foot in front. (From Ballet Hub – https://ballethub.com/ballet-term/changement/ )

Term Starts Next Week!

I’m really excited because the Summer Term begins next week, and I am booked onto 2 different courses:

Ballet at the Barre at City Lit on Wednesday – 12 weeks

Rhythm Tap 1 at Morley College on Thursday lunchtime – 6 weeks

I am currently doing Aerobics Oz Style from Youtube every day after work to limber up. A complete 90s throwback!

It is probably a good idea to just do the six week block of Tap and then have a six week break from that until Ballet at the Barre is finished.

My tap teacher asked if I wanted to be more challenged, so I will probably try Rhythm Tap 2 after the summer.