Dancing in ‘exile’

Today marked the beginning of the summer session at the ballet school.

Summer session is nine-weeks long, with the first two weeks and the last two weeks being summer intensive weeks. The five weeks in between are “regular classes.”

We have open classes for those of us not participating in the intensive, which you can take week-to-week. Such is the case for me this week.

During the regular year, the morning open classes and all company classes are in studio four, which is maybe three times as large as the other three studios. For me, during the regular school year, studio four is home.

But each year during the intensive weeks, the open classes are held in the much smaller studio one, the farthest away from “home.” I told one of the company kids this morning who was taking the open class that it felt like “dance exile.”

The six company girls in the open class talked about how summer classes are “different,” how you don’t know which teacher you’re going to have from week-to-week. One of the girls referred to it as “teacher roulette,” which was kind of funny. And the same can be said about who you’ll be taking class with.

There were 10 of us today, four of the “adult recreational” variety and six company girls. And the boy-girl ratio? Let’s just say I was out-numbered 9-to-1. That’s the way it will probably be for most of the summer except the week I plan on taking the intensive. It’s a totally different vibe when it’s a female teacher, the girls and me, which is how it will be most of the summer with Mr. O usually elsewhere and the couple of guys who danced with the company this year are in transition to college and another company.

But I’m cool with it.

Open classes, especially during the intensives, are pretty much all about technique. You can’t travel that far in the smaller studios (which is why I’ll miss studio four). But we did have a few “dancing” combinations, including a sissonne-assemble’ dominated grand allegro combination, which is pretty cool. I made an effort to keep my legs straight in the sissonnes and beat the assemble’s before landing. And I got praise for it.

Because we were in a smaller studio, and our numbers were smaller, the corrections were more numerous and more individual focuses. I’ve got to focus more when I spot. And I’m still working on my arms in second to achieve a much better line. I think I received more corrections today than I have in about a month.

Our teacher today was Susan K., one of my regular teachers. I pretty much expect more of the same Wednesday and probably the rest of the summer. During the open classes in intensive weeks, the numbers fluctuate. Ten is closer to max. Five is not unheard of. So there will be no place to hide during the next couple of weeks.

There was a time when I felt like that was a bad thing. But really it’s a good thing.


2 responses to “Dancing in ‘exile’

  • The Dancing Rider

    Being outnumbered probably ups your game a bit (?). I know I almost always felt that way in skating – really pushed to become a bit better. Love that you got some praise for technique, and also tailored corrections.

    • loveballet89

      I don’t really think I up my game. It’s different experience. Usually if there are a couple of other guys in class, we tend to push each other, especially a couple of the young guns who danced with the company. They push you to soar higher, travel farther.
      As a rule, the girls in the company are more fundamentally correct, more precise in their steps. And when it’s just me dancing with them, I find myself concentrating more on the technical aspects, because I gleam so much from their technique.

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