Tag Archives: pirouettes

Ending class to applause

Improvise. Do your own thing.

That was what Mr. O wanted us to do for the final combination from the diagonal.

I’ve never been one to fully be able to do that until today’s. I was at the end of the line.

I chose to do a ton be pas de bouree assemble’ front tour en’lair combination that ends with a pirouette following the third tour.

Mr. O praised my attempt to land my double pirouette at the end of the combination on the right side.

“If you ended the pirouette down on your knee, that would look really cool,” he told me.

Challenge accepted.

I ended the combination down on my knee on the left side.

My majority company dancing classmates applauded.

It was a really cool feeling.

It was once again a really good class. The petite allegro combinations were a bit tricky, but I was able to do them even though I was a bit sloppy.

But my turns continue to be pretty solid. I did quite a few clean doubles today. Maybe I’m breaking through.

Making my day even better? Mr. O asked me if I wanted to be in a piece he is putting together in January (it will be a country music-ballet piece, not a fan of country, but I so want to be in the piece).

Oh yeah, I’m doing soldier doll in Nutcracker party scene rehearsal on Sunday (in the absence of the guest artist performing it). Wish me luck. The steps seem reasonably doable. I’ve just got to be on time with the music.

That moment when you’ve done the perfect double pirouette …

That you completely forgot the next step in the combination.

Yup, that happened to me today.

Best turning class I’ve had in a while. My turns were spot on that I kept forgetting which direction we were supposed to be doing balances’.

It was a ton be pas de bouree piroutte, ton be pas de bouree piroutee (other direction), four balances backwards alternating direction each direction. The music was the right speed for me, which helped me be spot on doing my turns.

Mr. O’s theme of the day was stamina because Nutcracker if fast approaching. We did a lot of jumps and a grande allegro combination that totally kicked my tail: Saute turn, saute turn, saute turn, pique, chasse, tour jete, pique, chasse, tour jete, pique walk around in half circle, ton be pas de bouree glissade saute chas, ton be pas de bouree pas de chat (change direction) to be pas de bouree glissade assemble’, changement, piroutte finish.

Yes, I did the combination correctly. Three times in each direction.

And lived to tell about it.

Not so “Simple Saturday”

Mr. O labeled today’s class “Simple Saturday.”

He was subbing for Mrs. O, who was working on rehearsal schedules.

His barre was reasonably simple.

Once we came to center, not so much.

Confident was how I entered class this morning. Humiliated, frustrated. That’s how I left it.

It started with the unraveling with of a good turn week. Wednesday was my best turn day in a while, and maybe class overall. I did multiple double pirouettes, and got praise from Mr. O for doing so.

I did a perfect double pirouette in practice, when no one was watching.

We had a pirouette competition (first one in a while).

We zipped through singles like it was nobody’s business. Then went to doubles with everybody watching.

Epic fail.

Then we came to a combination where we did two pique turns, soutenu (misspelled?) turn grande jete combination in a horseshoe. The leap just wasn’t happening coming out of the turn. I gave up a couple of times when we were doing to combination. And quit is usually not in my vocabulary.

Then came my usually trusty favorite part of class: grande allegro.

Only this combination completely slew me: Saute turn, saute turn, saute fi-e (misspelled?), glissade, assemble’, run around, ton be pas de bouree, glissade saute chat (repeat. zigzagging twice in each direction), then turn around and do the same combination facing opposite direction (if you were in back facing the mirror, suddenly you’re in front facing the back wall, not a good thing for me).

I did OK facing the mirror while in back. That was not the case facing the wall.

The class ended with a reverence (which I thankfully got).

I went to the only empty studio, and practiced as many pirouettes as I could muster.

A double is something that should be second-nature. Some of the company kids in class do them and make them look effort-less.

I did a couple of doubles I know I could live with. But did not reach the point where I could do it all of the time.

I’ll be honest, there was a split-second among my frustration where I felt I totally sucked as a dancer, and maybe I should give up.

But then I remembered that I was addicted to ballet … it’s my crack cocaine.

I can’t give it up.

I can’t just sit and watch.

I must do it.

Sluggish Saturday

I left last Saturday’s class thinking I was on the verge of a pirouette breakthrough.

The breakthrough didn’t happen at all this week.

So I thought, maybe today.

Only I felt a little weighty in class today. And it really didn’t help my cause that Mrs. O gave us a much different class than we normally have. The “safe” combinations that we usually do, the kind I use to build confidence, weren’t there.

We tried things today in class I’ve never seen before such as a pique kick-right, pique kick-left, tonbe inside turn, outside turn combination. Where did that come from. She even used “think Rockettes” as an example for the kicks, but still remember your ballet technique … oy!

Amazingly, I think my inside turns were about the best thing I did during that combination.

And we did a pirouette from fifth drill, where we did them over and over. Pirouettes from fifth aren’t my favorite. I tried to concentrate on the basics and SPOT, but I was forcing my spot and the music was moving faster that I could think and prepare. It was a mess.

When you are the only “adult recreational dancer” in class with company kids, you come to expect classes like that from-time-to-time.

The silver lining from today’s class? There wasn’t a thing in class that we did that I couldn’t do, albeit yet sloppy. And many of the company kids were struggling like I was.

I just want a class where I’m spot (pun may or may not be intended) on. And one where the majority of my pirouettes are clean and multiple.

My spotting is a mystery …

The reason it’s a mystery isn’t because I can’t spot, it’s because I can spot in ballet when I do certain things such as chaine turns and pique turns, but struggle when I do other things like pirouttes and tours en’lair.

My first year back as an adult dancer, I mastered spotting because of a green shirt that hung in the line of sight in the lobby in the direction I was doing chaine turns. That’s where my head would go when going right (and to the fire alarm when going left).

When I do pique turns, I pick that one spot and aim for it. That’s where I had.

But for some reason, I can’t seem to whip my head around for pirouettes and tours en’lair. It’s the reason I can’t do triples when I pirouette and doubles doing tours. How to change it, I still struggle to figure out.

Sometimes, I try to force things when I try to spot and it totally messes me up.

Plie, releve’, spot

One thing I love about Mrs. O’s class is that so many tips you want to try in areas you struggle in.

If you’ve read my blog long enough, you know I struggle with pirouettes.

Those three words were her recipe yesterday.

Pretty simple, huh?

Yes and know. When I thought and applied those three words (and had the time to do so), my pirouettes were much cleaner.

But for me, it’s also more complicated. I try so hard at times to show Mr. and Mrs. O I can do a clean double that I use too much force. I still struggle spotting. I look down, I try to steer with my upper body (goes along with too much force).

I am beginning to attack them with a little more confidence. Maybe I’m closer to a break-through.

That might also be the case with a step that has become the scourge of my existence: Coupe’ jete.

This turning step is something male dancers must master. It’s one that I’ve struggled to process despite help from Mrs. O and a former male dancer with the company.

Yesterday, Mrs. O had the male dancers do it in a circle. I did something I rarely do: I sat out for fear of looking foolish. There was a photographer there taking pictures for the company page in our performance programs.

I used the time to watch their steps in a circle.

Mrs. O put the step in our final combination: Saute, balance’ turn, ton be coupe’ jete.

I decided to break down the final part: ton be couple’ jete’, and probably did them better than I’ve ever done them.

They weren’t spectacular.

But for me, it was an improvement.


Welcome to ballet boot camp

This is “maintenance” week at the ballet school.

The school year starts next week. The intensives ended last week.

To help dancers stay in shape during the week break, Mr. O schedules maintenance class.

The classes: A. Kick your butt into shape if you haven’t been dancing as much, B. Help you maintain what you’ve built up if you went to a summer intensive, and C. Serves as audition for the company and junior company.

It’s like boot camp. It’s a lot more cardio than your normal ballet class, with faster and more complicated steps. And no, I didn’t audition for the company, just took the class (I pretty much serve as the adult dancer-volunteer they use if they need me).

The class served its purpose. It totally kicked my tail. And I think it served as a good kick start for me to lose 40 pounds by Nutcracker week (yeah, I know, ambitious).

I was looking for oxygen when we were doing eternal royales, jumps in second (with beats), and doing quarter turns over and over. But hey, I did them. I didn’t ask for mercy.

There was the petite allegro where my steps have probably have never been sharper, although it was fairly simple (glissade jete, glissade assemble’, two jump seconds with beats, two royales, repeat other side). And I stayed with the music.

But the highlight of the day … getting praise from Mr. O himself while I was doing pirouettes in a trick combination (my doubles were a lot cleaner today) … and it was tricky combination (ton be pas de bouree pirouette right, same thing left, ton be pas de bouree right, balance’ to the right front corner (turn) and balance’ to the left back corner … then repeat on the left side).

And for the record, for some reason my pirouettes are better on the left. They are about the only thing I do better on the left.

As physically taxing as it was, it may have been the best class I’ve had since the summer started.

Only one combination did I botch. It contained my good friend tendu quisse before two sissones and a pas de bouree. I need to, in the words of Mrs. O, shorten my range of motion while I do them. I tried to do them too big, and therefore got behind when it was time to do the sissones.

Fortunately, we did a relatively simple grande allegro right after that which helped me regain my confidence.

I’m still feeling the class with the good sore.

And can’t wait to go at it again tomorrow.