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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Just Wondering

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It's not quantum physics, but being observed changes the nature of the event, just as it does in that branch of science.

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If you are repeating something at home, it’s generally easier because you already have done (or tried) it in class. Things get easier with repetition.


At home we can stop and review, or figure out, things that are being given to us quickly in class.


Often your mind sorts out the logic and structure of a combination or movement in between class and doing it at home.


At home we often do movements (at least at first) without music, which lets us move at our own pace rather than at the pace set by the music.


Usually at home we feel comfortable wherever we are practicing and have a good sense of the space, which makes everything easier. Ever notice how much more difficult a combination is when you try it facing a direction of the room other than the front? That’s what I mean by sense of space.

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Aha, some serious replies. Here is the long version.


I did an experiment yesterday. I've been out of class for a while due to holiday schedules, and so more than usual have been going up on to demi, or trying out a pirouette or this or that at home and my balance has been remarkable (well, for me). Then I went to class. I could only hold balances in attitude back, not even in coupe or passe. Our first exercise in the center was a pretty standard fondu (croise front, derierre, ecarte, a la seconde, tombe, pas de bouree) and I was really struggling with it.


So then I got home and did it just fine. And then I did it going to releve. And then I did it with a rhond de jambe to 2nd with a few rhonds en l'air thrown in. On demi pointe. And it was easy. :wink:


So what gives? There must be something I can do to transfer the competence I have in my room to the studio. I don't feel nervous about being observed in class, but I think that must be it. Anybody got any instant relaxation techniques?

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I have had this same same frustrating observation about my own home versus studio work. One thought that I have had is that the mirrors in the studio are both friend and foe. On the one hand, they give very important feedback that can enable self correction. On the other hand, all that additional visual stimulation I think really distracts me. Once, when rehearsing for a performance, the class was asked to do the routine facing the back of the studio (no mirror) and things were just somehow easier. I have no mirror currently where I practice at home and I do wonder if this is a factor for me.

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I think it is because in class you are under constant observation by your teacher and this might add some nerves to what you are doing. Plus I think if at home alone without a teacher you do not necessarily find out all mistakes you make and think you did do a clear pirouette or set of pique turns although a teacher would still find things he could correct.

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I think Shulie is right. At home, you probably dont realise your mistakes as there is no outside eye to watch :thumbsup:

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What I think what I hear Dido describing in this thread are not rather subtle dancing

differences between home and studio, but more basic things -- ie, being on balance or not,

and literally being able to do something or not... I mean, I know that when I try things

in a hotel mirror, or at home I am less observant (and less unbiased :devil: ) and therefore less

aware of my problems than my teacher in school. So I agree with everyones points about

that, etc. But I too have had this "I can do it at home (expletive)" internal monologue in

class, and I wanted to comment on that.


So here are some thoughts on your experiment:


1 -- When I am in class and I botch something, and especially when I "flagrantly"

botch something, it is harder to shut off the internal critic. Harder than when I am

practicing at home. I think this is normal -- I hate screwing up in front of others, and

that makes it hard to silence the little voice that says "dork!" (or worse) when I am in

class. In fact, I see my mistakes in class more severly (ie "screwing up") and less severely

at home ("oh, I rushed warming up," "oops" etc).


2 -- I'm in more control at home. I can take as long as I want to fiddle with my shoes,

and I start the music exactly when I want to, etc. How many times in class do you find

yourself saying to yourself "not yet"? I think that makes a difference. And, at home I

am always 100% sure that I know the combination before starting it! Even for relatively

simple combinations, that makes a difference.


3 -- It sounds silly for me to say this, because lord knows I am at the bottom end of the

bell-shaped talent curve in my ballet classes, but I find that other peoples' mistakes affect

me. And not even mistakes, but when I am in a group of dancers and Jane is off the music,

or Sally is about to invade my airspace (again) it throws me off. I don't have to contend with

that at home.


4 -- I want to think of myself as rational uber alles, but you know, I am really superstitious

sometimes about ballet class. So, I find that the whole "I can do it at home" thing almost

becomes a kind of self-fullfulling prophecy. When I miss a turn I sometimes catch myself

saying "Just you wait -- I'll nail it at home!" While it's good to try it again later, I worry that

the "I can do it at home" superstition is a problem. I've already got a problem with the fact

that my lucky gumby t shirt is getting overused -- I don't need more superstitions.


How to get around it? I think Dido has the right idea already -- relaxing. I find, over and

over again, that when I am enjoying class I do much better. If I find I am involuntarily

saying "wheeeee!" to myself while I am turning, or enjoying the random glimpse of myself

in the mirror when I am doing a step well, that can lead to a string of non screwups :)

And don't most superstitions come from anxiety, really?


Anyway, I hope this helps...

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My extension looks higher at home. I think endurance plays a factor. In class, maybe we're a little more tired after working so hard at the barre.

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DPR has put his finger on the difference; I'm not talking about a little shading of ability here and there or a "teacher corrects in class but just fine at home." I'm talking wildly, stupidly, bizarrely different.


The more I'm thinking about it, the more I realize that it simply must be nerves(though distraction via mirrors and tiredness/lack of endurance might be contributing factors). I wonder if being aware that one is anxious is going to be beneficial or detrimental? Report after class tonight.

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