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slow allegro - coping strategies?


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I've been wanting to ask this for a while - and since I cannot seem to solve the problem myself... perhaps someone else can help.


I'm temporarily living in a small town with not a lot of ballet opportunities. I cannot bear the thought of not taking class... so I go to pretty much any ballet class I can get to.


I am left with taking classes which are quite basic. The barre, adage, and even the center tendu/pirouette combinations provide a good opportunity to work on the technique basics and I have even noticed an improvement in some areas. I am patient enough that although I miss the more advanced skills I know that these will come back with time (and work) and hopefully a little muscle memory!


So - in the meantime - any tips for executing painfully (unfortunately literally) slow petit and grand allegro combinations with relative grace? Without coming to a near standstill (okay - not a standstill... but a very defined plie-stretch-plie) I cannot seem to find a way to stay with the music.


I am 'the odd one out' in these classes so I know I need to adapt to the class and not expect the class to be adapted to my needs... so are there any suggestions?


I have talked to the teacher of this class who didn't seem to understand my troubles... perhaps I am weird :) you all can tell me that too!

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I guess that is a contradiction in terms, a slow allegro, defeats the purpose surely..


Some, if not allof us on this board take at least one low level class together with higher level classes. Some out of choice, or some because those are the only classes that they have available. So you are definately not the only one.


But I know what you mean. The trick is to be patient and not show your utter impatience with the teacher and the rest of the class. Sometimes I get fed up and end up doing the combination double time and throwing in double pirouettes and royales, instead of just doing passe releves and changements. If you are going to change the combo, stand at the back of the class and adapt it slightly to fit your needs a little bit more. But don't do it all showy, just subtle, so no one but you can tell.

Make your developes higher and your jumps better.


Do you get a chance to go to any more advanced classes at all? Where are you situated? there are so many ballet alerters now from all over the place, you might be surprised. Is there no chance at all of a higher level class in the school you are in now?


The problem you might find, if you are more advanced (and I don't know how many years you have been dancing for,) is that your ability to perform fast and precise combinations will be lost slightly if you are not taking a fast paced class at least once a week to keep your mind sharp.


You said you had talked to the teacher. What did you tell him/her?


Sorry, lots of questions, but it will hopefully help.


Jeanette xx

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Here is what I would try to do if I were in your shoes.


First, I would start doing my own class. Buy the music, the space, seek out combinations from books, remember old combinations and use a little of my own creativity to create my own class. Hopefully, my own class will give me some challenges and let me work things that I need to work.


Second, during class, I would spend more energy trying to connect with the music while doing the exercises. It is possible to move at almost any slow speed, but if you are not used to it, it may seem excruciatingly painful at first. In fact, I might even forget entirely about technique for a while until I develop a good musical connection with the exercises I am doing.


Third, I’d set aside some money to travel to some classes that I feel are more appropriate to my ability. Driving an hour to a class is no big deal, in my opinion.


Fourth, I might reorient myself a little to take advantage of any other dance opportunities I might have in my area or that the school might offer. Yes, it isn’t ballet, but it is dance. Under this scenario, I might tend to think of ballet as basic training rather than as an end itself.


Fifth, I would try to be more patient and accept the class for what it is. Find the dance that is in the class and consider class as much an opportunity to dance as an opportunity to learn.

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The only suggestion I can add, and I sympathize because I've been in that position, is to use the 'slow allegro' as a way of really feeling your plie when you land -- making sure it is stable, that you don't bounce out of it, etc. It gets old real fast, I know, but especially on jumps like sissone ouverte, I find that moving slowly really tests my plie and balance.

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I DO know what you're talking about..... in fact, I hurt my right foot in a slow, slow class for beginners, out of a mistaken attempt to apply some attack to the combination and make it feel like dancing.


You MUST be patient in classes like this -- and if the music is boring, learn to find the music in it, if you can.... The main thing I find for classes like that is to learn to dance a little behind hte beat -- as you would for grand allegro, so that you rise when the music is rising and you don't have to die in your plie before starting the next step....


It's a good time to practice going straight up and coming straight down, and to think about lifting your rib-cage from T-12 and keeping your ribs over the standing leg..... which means getting hte ribs over hte NEW standing leg if it's a petite jete or something like that....


And as Garyecht suggests, check out the other possibilities for dancing in hte area -- salsa is real dancing, so is tango, so is square dancing.... A few years ago during the swing craze, I got very involved myself with a WONDERFUL crowd of people, all ages -- 16 to 65 -- doing a studied revival of Lindy hop around here, and golly could those guys dance...... VERY impressive dancers. ANd the fun part was the group of people who were STILL doing it hte peple who'd gone through world War 2 with it and are still dancing can teach you so much about the actual DANCING of it..... I know this sounds bizarre, and really, there is NO place else like Berkeley, California -- except maybe Austin Texas and Ann Arbor Michigan -- but the dancing around here is just amazing. THe IRish dancing jigs and reels-dancers, the Scottish country dancing -- those people can really move, they'e got rhythm and style and they're so playful, you cna get some of hte satisfactions you'd have gotten from a really good ballet class doing pas de basque with htem....

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Guest grace

i second the advice of garyecht and pleaides. 'slow allegro' is very strength-building - but also probably thigh-building (!) if you do too much of it, unrelieved!


- try to really USE the plie and use it well, with pliability, not getting stuck: "plie is a movement, not a position".


- stretch frequently, in between the exercises, the muscles which are being repeatedly used.


hope that helps. :)

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I had originally written a long (too long!) response will will try to be more clear. Sorry if I haven't replied directly to all of the advice given - I have read it all and do value it very much.


Let's try again...


First of all, thank you to everyone who replied - it helps to know that there are others who understand. I am happy to know that others think it's okay to add beats - I agree that I should go to the back. I also agree with the advice given on the plie. Probably an area I should practice more anyway given my troubles with these exercises. I think part of the problem is that I'm so used to doing e.g. a glissade assemble in such a way that I'm already in the air for the assemble 'during the ade of the glissade' that perhaps I just need more practice in doing everything slower.


Secondly, I hope I haven't given the impression that I am one of those bratty sorts that pouts when not given exercises I like! Truly, the reason why I am asking for help is that I am finding it embarrassingly difficult to do these 'easy' slow allegro exercises with the same coordination and flow as ones done at twice the speed. Since the solution to difficult things is usually finding out the problem, figuring out the solution, and then lots of practice... I just wanted opinions from people who have been there. I will treat this as a learning experience.


Thanks again... now I have some more things to think about and improve on in my last couple of months here (here = small town in mainland Europe, seemingly far away from anyone I've seen posting on this board).

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Good grief Garnet, no one thought you were the bratty, pouty type at all, I am the great pouter! no one can pout more than I can;)


You still don't say more about what other classes you go to, or if this class is the only one you can do, or what your background in ballet is, it can only help us to give you better advice. I'm not trying to be nosey or pry..honest.

Afterall, if you had been doing ballet for only a year, then different advice would be offered compared to if you had been up to pre-professional level in your teens and had stopped for a few years.


Jeanette x

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Xena - You are right that without more info it's difficult to give advice. Here is a little more detail about my current situation/ability level.


I am fortunate to have found at least one open (ie. int/adv/prof) class that I can get to. It's truly the highlight of my week. When I first arrived I would put my ability at perhaps the middle of the class. Dissapointingly, every week it becomes more difficult to do the class as my feet and my brain get slower and slower. There are 2 other classes of such a level somewhat near here (1-1.5 hours away each direction) but they fall during work hours.


My other classes are pretty much low level. I usually attend 2 of them a week. This is quite different than the 5-6 classes/week I was attending before moving here!!! Definately never was a pre-pro student as I started in my early 20s but am what my physio termed a 'serious recreational' student if you know what I mean. I think there are lots of others on this board who can empathize. I currently do a barre at home as well as releves, balances (e.g. retire, arabesque, attitude, etc.), stretching, and basic pointework to keep my feet strong... but it's the allegro work that is truly suffering - in addition to the fact that I worry about picking up bad habits without a teacher around to point out those little things you miss since you can't see yourself.


Like I said... this is not a permanent arrangement... was just looking for some pointers to carry me through the last couple of months... and perhaps some people that understand... so I guess I found what I was looking for!


Hope to contribute more in the future to other discussions. I have to admit that I'm the sort that would rather be helping others than bothering people with my complaints! I guess the nice thing about a board though is people can just stop reading if they're tired of the whining! :) Thanks all for listening!

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Guest attitudegirl

I agree with Garyecht 100% about listening to and feeling the music. Squeeze out every last drop of the music. After all, this is why we are dancing, to make beautiful movements to beautiful music. I find that my lower classes are the ones in which I really develop nuances that I call my "artistry". these are feeling from within that only come when I really use the music. :(

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THinking about your main problem, which is that the petite allegros and grande don't really challenge you at a level where your instincts/reflexes are stimulated.....


Maybe you need to make up your own......I've been tracking my OWN responses to the fascinating ways Sally Streets challenges us in her class -- the combinations are SO much fun, they are SO interesting, and so challenging, challenging in so many different ways -- for they are always somehow exercises and real dances, and htey force you to clean up your footwork, and to stay forward, and to DANCE....


one thing she does is to work on the grapevine step -- turned out, made classical, but it's amazing how many variants she can come up with for it....



Like yesterday, we had to a quick waltz a 9-count over pas de bourree, where you just kept going sideways over and under and over and under (waltzing, right foot front, it was "and LEFT RIGHT LEFT RIGHT LEFT RIGHT LEFT RIGHT LEFT balancee, on 5-&-uh you changed directions and did tombe pas de bourree to a prep on 6 for a fast double en dedans turn; repeat other side). it was SO CUTE!!! but you see how it's NOTHING but GRAPEVINE?


And today she gave a completely different version -- it was (right foot front) over pas de bourree, glissade (changing) assemble (changing) over pas de bourree, glissade (changing) assemble (changing) failli coupe assemble (croisee); repeat other side....


the change to the oher side is the hardest thing in htis one, it usually is; hte nest hardest hing is to get on the front foot after hte assemble to do the over pas de bourree, the third hardest hting is to get thse sefcond foot IN on hte glissade -- well, I didn;t mention the failli coupe assemble, that's got to be small, and quick esp the failli coupe..... the assemble can be kinda generous....


make up little ditties for yourself, taking folk steps and classicizing htem.... that will keep your attack in shape......


remember that failli pas de basque is ALSO a version of grapevine; that's an important sequence one to keep in good repair......


And every now and then give yourself echappee pas de bourree, chassee pas de bourree, tombe pas de bouree, change, change, just to make your feet behave..... if that's too square, for hte two changes substitute echappee with 2 QUICK changes (half-time).....


but these are ALL-jump combinations --


it's also REALLY useful to practice combinations that are mixtures of piques or releves and Jumps -- like Pique ballonne, pique passe, pique ballonne, pique passe, coupe, tombe pas de bourree jete, pique ballonne, pique passe; repeat other side....


or jete over releve in coupe back, holding hte releves for different numbers of counts, and occasionally doing 2 very quiick jetes in the same time you'd normally do one.... those are very good for you....


For grand allegro you could give yurself some combinations with big steps that have different weight transfers -- such as grand jetes where the first one you need to keep going forward, but the second you need to be ready to reverse d irection and go back ... like say (Waltzing) saute, step jete, step jete, chasse back pas de basque turn, tombe pas de bourree saut de chat......


it's fun, you can stretchit out nice and big, while the changes in direction make hte 3 jetes feel very different.....

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Thank you so much Paul!:)


THinking about your main problem, which is that the petite allegros and grande don't really challenge you at a level where your instincts/reflexes are stimulated.....


Sigh... I do miss that feeling of 'what does she/he want us to do??? ...oh! that's what' when given a real 'thinker' of an exercise. The next time I get some studio time (sometimes I can sneak in a couple of minutes after class) I think I will try some of what you suggested. (Am definitely printing off the page). It sounds like the class you go to is quite the inspirational experience. It's so nice to hear about.


I try to make up my own exercises... but I think the problem about making up your own things to do is that your brain automatically seems to gravitate towards things that 'make sense' if you know what I mean. I do remember many combinations from former teachers... but after several months they don't involve much brain power anymore... so thanks again for some new ones!


I will continue to be patient with my current classes and probably will keep on doing the combinations as given without too many changes. I don't seem to have a problem adjusting the barre, adage, or pirouette combinations to be more challenging but yet visually similar to what everyone else is doing. When things get too painful in allegro I guess I will just have to quietly excuse myself and go stretch. I'm not the sort that likes quitting on an exercise... but I am being convinced that there is a certain limit to how slow a 'glissade-jete-temps leve-temps leve' can be performed correctly before it becomes damaging to (my somewhat weaker than I'm used to) legs.

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