Knees Up

Last night I went to my ballet class with knee support in tow. Bumped into my teacher on the stairs, so I explained that I have a dodgy left knee, and he told me to take it easy.  I managed it until performing a fondue derriere, using the weaker left leg as the supporting leg. I didn’t fondue as far as when performing it on the other leg, but the very action upset my knee. Thankfully we weren’t working on jumps this week!

Besides that, it was another great class. We did some exercises using 4th position (where I had to be a bit careful and reduce the turnout), battement glisses, and I particularly enjoyed the sequence of attitude avant, through 1st position to attitude derriere and back again, fairly quickly. With speed, it was a challenge to control the working leg! This was part of a longer sequence that began facing the barre and rolling the knee in, passing the working leg through first position and sweeping the foot out behind in a figure of 8, if that makes any sense. Then on the 8th time of doing it we turned to the side with a sweep of the leg into a grande battement forward and HOLD.

My pint-sized Italian class colleague told me when I get home to get some olive oil and rub it into the knee. Good advice! In the end I didn’t use olive oil, but an aromatic massage oil from Neal’s Yard.

I have to say the walk back to Charing Cross station after the class was a bit on the achy side, but I will probably be taking a break next week…to hopefully move house!

Barre Only

Okay, last night’s ballet (barre only) class nearly killed me off. We packed quite a lot in, and although I was doing okay, my co-ordination went out the window towards the end (left? right? devant? derriere?)! And once again, I seemed to be the sweatiest person there.

We were all finding it challenging, especially after a day at work, and I had just had my annual appraisal in the afternoon. In dance classes, I think we often think everyone else is getting it but us.  This is probably because we don’t tend to be watching other people, and just assume they’re getting it right… until you hear the teacher giving feedback, and realise it’s not just you finding it challenging. It helps that our teacher keeps reiterating that we should remember to breathe, and also that it is NOT an exam!

I’ve had to miss the last Rhythm Tap 2 of the block today, and I emailed my teacher to say I’m now taking a break until January. Looking forward to a nap later!

*This Week’s Classes*

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Ballet

At ballet this week we learnt how to do a petit jeté…

I left work earlier than last week after what was actually a good day (it has been a while!) and got changed and warmed up before the class began – yay! We were fuller than the previous week, so I tried my hardest not to kick or headbutt anyone’s clenched buttocks in front of me. There were a few more ladies who I recognised from previous courses, but I’m not sure they recognised me as one lady assured me she wasn’t the teacher.

We did a lot of work on our turnout and on our feet. My feet will eventually get better, and I even remembered some corrections from last week, but I know I do find it hard to isolate parts of the feet. Like, I’ll never be the person who starts to use their toes to type on a keyboard… Unless I had to 😂

One thing I concentrated on was continuing to breathe, relaxing and “indulging” in the movements. I definitely enjoyed it more this week because of that.

My rond de jambes were “almost there” but I now need to whoosh the movement bit more. One point our teacher made to the class was that we need to make sure we’re not moving our hips and upper bodies as we do it, and proceeded to demonstrate (with exaggeration) what some of us were doing, with his hair flying backwards and forwards – very comical!

I really enjoyed learning the petit jeté  towards the end of the class! It literally means ‘small throw’. I’ve never done one before in my life, but my teacher thought I was familiar with it. No, I just give that impression LOL. I think it probably helped when M demonstrated it, that I could recognise the movement from watching ballet in the past. I am definitely a visual learner.

Rhythm Tap 

Tap seems to be ramping up a bit these days in terms of difficulty level! I think perhaps I am finding only 45 minutes a week too short a time to really cement anything in my mind, but that’s how it needs to be for now. It also made me think that I would like to go back to basics and perhaps learn syllabus tap next year. I had no experience of tap dancing prior to beginning classes back in 2014, and then didn’t start regular classes until a year later. K said something similar to me last week about perhaps doing the syllabus class on a Monday to learn it as you would if you were starting tap as a child.

Anyway, back to today’s class: we practised again our swung flap exercise which included turning on the spot. We also did the heel-toe-back tap-jump back-heel-toe-scuff, which is like a skipping action. I need to remember to keep it on the toes – weight placement again! We also learnt another complicated combination, let’s see if I can remember:

R: Side shuffle-dig-heel drop L: forward shuffle-ball change.

Then to change sides, you have a break where you do the combination 2.5 times, finishing mid-way through the ball change. I guess a ‘ball’ without the ‘change’. Then you can start on the other leg. Took a while to get it, but we got there in the end!

The routine is really cool, and I worked out the song is Cornflake Girl by Tori Amos. My teacher kept asking me if I knew what song it was, and it just wasn’t familiar at all. But on looking it up, it was released in 1994 when I was still a newbie at secondary school, so maybe I had too much other stuff on my mind to notice that song!

We learned the next part of the routine, and oh my, it got complicated! I’ll get it with time, I just need to practice from what I filmed at the end of class today.

 

 

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)

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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End of Term

Ballet_MemorizeBalletBarreCombos_02Yesterday I schlepped along to Covent Garden to my final class of the 12 week Ballet at the Barre course. I was so tired and a bit stressed from a lot of restructure chaos at work that I wasn’t in the mood for physical exertion, concentration or recalling stuff from last week, but I got there and REALLY ENJOYED IT. There were only 6 or 7 of us, plus our teacher and it was a great class! I decided on my way there to throw myself into it. Remember turnout, engaged core, toes pointed, use the floor, pull up….Dance!

Along with a fellow classmate, I got to perform a sequence on demi-pointe! OMG.

At the end we had time to stretch and fill out our course evaluations. I spoke to my teacher individually and he asked what I was intending to do next. He recommended Ballet Improvers, which I would love to do, but it finishes too late for my one hour journey home to the suburbs afterwards. He also asked if I’ve ever done any Jazz! A little bit, but I’d LOVE to do more. Anyway, he said I can try out the brand new Street Jazz course for free in July if I’m interested, and then that will run properly in September.

I’m really confused because I promised myself I would return to Rhythm Tap at Morley in September (and I’m obsessing over getting those Jason Samuels Smith shoes), but now I don’t want to stop Ballet, but Improvers Ballet at City Lit is too late, and then there’s a new Afro-Contemporary course starting (WOW!!!). What to do?!?!?

In the meantime I start Floor Barre in July for 5 weeks with a one-off Rhythm Tap General class in the middle! 🙂