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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Really quite astonishingly bad class


Guest Hattie

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Yesterday I had my first class for 2 weeks (I've been moving house) and it was awful. I knew that I wouldn't be as flexible as normal- which admittedly isn't very much. But I didn't realise I would be that bad. I have done some stretches in the 2 weeks I've been off, and have done lots of exercise (mainly carrying boxes, but running as well). I know that this doesn't mean anything when it comes to ballet, but I really wasn't expecting to be as terrible as I was yesterday.

 

I couldn't get my balance at all- and not just turns, but at all. I felt really dizzy the whole time, but that is quite a normal thing for me. For half the class I was wearing softblocks, but I kept falling off the sole. Then I put my flat shoes on, but they're quite sticky, and I couldn't turn at all... I don't know why I was so off centre, I was just so wobbly. Then my extensions... well, they were about 10 times lower than normal, and my turnout kept going when I was doing an arabesque to the back- even at the bar. And then just to make it complete, because I was getting stressed about it, the rest of my body was tensing up (esp. my shoulders- always the first to go!).

 

I'm used to having good days and bad days, but not to that extreme. By the end of the class I was nearly in tears, and when I got home I did have a little cry. I just wondered if anyone else had had a similar problem, and what did you do to get over it? There's some talk of doing a class recital, but at the moment I feel like never going back ever again. I can't face feeling so rubbish about something I like so much.

 

If anyone has any advice about how to get out of this rut and not give up on ballet, please help me. I'm so tempted to throw away all my ballet stuff and stay in bed under a duvet!!

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Oh, poor you! I hate classes like those. They really can make you feel like throwing in the towel.

 

But the thing is, you need to keep going to classes so you get better. The more you do, the less likely it is that you will have problems like those. (You'll have different, also annoying problems! :) )

 

You could also try going to an easier class so you get your balance and some confidence back.

 

Hope things work out better soon.

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I just separate emotionally from how I do on a particular day. There are good days, and there are really bad days. That's just what happens when you take two weeks off, and time off like that is good for everyone. So when it's bad, I just observe myself and figure out how I can make it better the next day, and not worry too much about it.

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And moving house is supposed to be second only in stress levels to divorce! Carrying boxes is a great way to strain and stiffen muscles. So be easy on yourself. See class as a place for relaxation and a time to try things, with the certain knowledge you won't be perfect (I bet even Margot Fonteyn never thought she achieved perfection :) ), with permission to fail, and permission to try your best to improve.

 

Well, that's what I told myself when we did fouettes on Saturday, and I haven't done them for about 10 years, and I looked like a complete beginner - shoulders hunched, arms and legs everywhere, no spot, bent supporting leg! But what could I do? Laugh, and start again and try again ...

 

Samuel Beckett has a wonderful line in (I think) either Endgame or Krapp's Last Tape on trying again: "Fail better."

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That stuff happens all the time. One day I came home, put all my ballet clothes, books, cds and anything related to ballet in my roommtes bedroom (she was just starting to get into ballet at the time) and told her through my tears that she can have all of it. Of course she just ignored me because she knew that i would get over it. And I did. Ballet is weird. Sometimes I feel really good about my dancing and then other times (especially when im in a more advanced class comparing myself to people that have MUCH more experience than me) I just want to quit and I become all miserable. Here's a tip: You feel miserable because you CARE. If you REALLY wanted to quit you wouldn't give it that much thought, you wouldn't feel bad, and you wouldn't come on this board to post about it. You would just stop going to ballet and that would be that. Also if you quit..... in like a month or two you would be itching to come back. So you don't want to quit....you just had a bad class. No big deal.

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Oh, thank you everyone!! It's lovely to have advice from people who know what it's like, and it's probably just as useful to have written it all down in the first place.

 

I'm not going to quit ballet, that would be really stupid. I know, deep down, that a lot of the problem was that I hadn't been for 2 weeks, and in that two weeks I had done a lot of pretty stressful stuff. Moving house was horrible, and then splitting up with my long-term boyfriend and losing my cat... All in all, my confidence is completely gone, and I feel quite low about everything. My teacher did say yesterday that "nearly everyone" could do the exercise we were working on, and that it was just a matter of confidence. Me being a pessimist, I presumed that I wasn't included in the "nearly everyone", though I know that isn't the best way to deal with it.

 

I love ballet so much, even though I know I will never be any good (especially not as an adult- though my childhood teacher always said that). I do work really hard, but I'm quite impatient and want instant results. I have another class tonight so I'm going to put yesterdays behind me and try my hardest tonight. The teacher tonight is different, and we get on really well, so it will be harder for me to be so pessimistic!

 

Maybe part of the problem yesterday was me comparing myself to other people in the class. There are some people who I think are much better than me, and I was comparing every move I did to them. I thought I'd stopped doing that so much- I was kind of "cured" at university last year when my professor told me not to compare myself to others as I'd always come off worse. At the time I thought it was a really mean thing to say, but now I'm thinking maybe it isn't- maybe it's unrealistic to think that you can be the best at anything.

 

I'm also going to go to a beginner class at the weekend sometime, probably on saturday. That'd mean going to pineapple, which I dislike, but I find the beginner classes relatively easy (as in, there are no new steps to learn, so I can concentrate on really working on the basics). I would go to the beginner level before mine tonight, but I can't get there on time (I finish work at 6.30).

 

So thank you all once again for your reassurance.I think Kellylynn hit the nail on the head saying that I feel miserable because I care, and that if I didn't I would quit. I'm not really a quitter (I'm very stubborn!) but I wouldn't want to give up on ballet. Sadly enough, it's one of the few things left that I enjoy (such has been the upheaval of the last few weeks!).

 

I hope to write a much more cheerful post tomorrow!! H xx

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Oh no. Don't compare yourself to others. Your professor was right. It's the oldest saying in the book. There are always going to be people who are better than you are and there are always going to be people who are worse. Of course its a nice ego boost when you are the most advanced in the class but at the same time sometimes I like to be on the lower end because it gives me something to work towards. If you stay in a beginner class just because you like being the best your never going to have an opportunity to push yourself. Sometimes when I take a class outside my comfort zone I see more advanced dancers doing the steps the way they are suppoesd to look. It's actually quite amazing to think that even though you may be one of the better dancers in your normal level you still look very "bad" compared to people who are years of study ahead of you. Instead of getting all down about it I just take it with me. I watch at how they do it and disect their moves and I incorporate that into my own learning of the step. One time I saw a professional do a perfect pirouette. I watched how she spotted her head and how her whole body was in perfect alingment and she was so pulled up. So instead of comparing yourself to the better dancers, I just learn from them. Good luck in class tonight!

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my professor told me not to compare myself to others as I'd always come off worse. At the time I thought it was a really mean thing to say, but now I'm thinking maybe it isn't- maybe it's unrealistic to think that you can be the best at anything.

 

I don't think he meant that OBJECTIVELY you are worse than anyone else. Only that you probably will always PERCIEVE yourself to be that way, whether or not that's the reality. So better not do it., cause you'll always *think* you're worse, even if that's not the case :thumbsup: .

 

You're probably a perfectionistic person who's too hard on yourself. I think a lot of us here are like this. In a lot of ways, you'll probably do quite well at ballet. The people who stick with it almost need to be this way. As long as you don't make yourself miserable in the process (too often :wink: )

 

Yeah, just expect to be "off" after a break. Of course you are. You'd be a robot if you weren't. The best dancers in the world look "off" after vacation. That's called being a human being. Simple fact that we tend to forget sometimes. Tune into your body every day. It changes all the time.

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Oh it is so easy to judge ourselves and be hard on ourselves in this endeavour!

 

May I add something, and this is not just from my own observations but from my basic sociological observations on this board! :thumbsup:

 

'Tricks' aren't everything. (I say tricks because they are what people often consider 'impressive' or so...) So many times I have come home from class, having an off pirouette day, and felt that class was horrible. And let those pirouettes affect the rest of my class - no matter what else goes right. I'm also not super-flexible, and I'm hugely shorter than most girls I dance with so my leg looks even lower than theirs. Sometimes this makes me feel that class was horrid as well.

 

But that's silly! I work hard in class. It's good if I 'get' something new, if I'm applying my knowledge more consistently, or if I *finally* reach a stage where I'm not heavily thinking about something because it's become a part and parcel of how I dance. My rond de jambes may have been fab, or the petite allegro, or or or. Or maybe my arms were softer. Maybe actually physically nothing appeared different but I was making mental connections in my head. *These are not small things*!!!! Rather, these are the foundations of what make our technique - what Hart said on the other thread is right - getting the foundations in everyway: thinking, executing, expressing, etc... is what helps us dance. They are the base of our pyramid, which undoubtedly will take the most wear and tear and require maintenance.

 

I have to tell myself this, especially to get through those low times, and through those classes which don't seem right for whatever reason.

 

And, as kellylynn said - it is all because we care. :wink:

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It's the oldest saying in the book. There are always going to be people who are better than you are ...

True story, hopefully not too far off topic:

 

Some years ago, my wife and I foud ourselves on Easter Island. Now Easter Island is a long, long way from anywhere and pretty exotic. We were feeling pretty darn good about ourselves as adventurous world travelers. Then we met a couple there who had just come from the Strait of Magellan, at the very southern tip of South America, and at least at the time, much more rarely visited. They told us how good they had felt about their adventurous world-traveler status, until they met a man who had just visited Tiera del Fuego, the island archipelgo on the southern side of the Straight. In fact, he had just finished kayaking around the main island! When they expressed their admiration of HIS adventurous world traveler status, he said something like - you guessed it -

 

"...it's the oldest saying in the book. There are always people who are better [or have done more] than you..."

 

It's hard to remember in this world that most things (including ballet and world travel) are not contests, and winning is not the point.

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Olddude...thats a good little story. Compared to people who haven't even left their city even the traveler who just left the country is "more traveled than them." In the ballet world there are tons of people who can turn better than me...but amoungst my family and friends and other non dancers I am by far one of the best turners! Its all relative. You will drive yourself so nuts comparing yourself to the person dancing next to you that you will fail to realize that you probably don't look so bad yourself.

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Thank you all once again for your advice! I went to class last night and had a much better time. Everything seemed to work a bit better (but I think it was a slightly easier class!) and my balance was much better. I felt on a real high afterwards, so I'm much happier.

 

My professor who said I shouldn't compare myself said some other stuff too that I thought was quite mean, which is probably why I don't look at her comments in such a positive way. And this was just before my finals! I know, of course, that I shouldn't compare myself to others, and I don't really nowadays (I did a lot when I was younger- I had a very competitive family environment!!). I watch other people in the class and try and learn from them, but if someone's got a higher leg or whatever, then there's nothing I can do about that, and I'm (only just!!) mature enough to understand that. The problem the other day was that I felt like I was about 10 years behind everyone else, whereas normally we're all about the same.

 

I think perhaps it's good that I had such a bad class, because it made me appreciate yesterday's great class. In the bad class, everything went wrong, starting at the barre. But last night I felt a lot stronger. My tendus felt much better, whereas before they felt like I had Cheestrings for legs! I can't believe how much difference a 2 week break makes. I suppose it's been quite emotionally tiring as well though, and that didn't help my mental state.

 

I'm going to stop worrying about pirouettes. When I'm less worried, I can do very nice ones. I kind of surprised myself last night with a good one that just snuck in. I was like- where did that come from?!

 

Now I can't wait for my next class. I'm going to try and watch some advanced classes too (just so I can steal their style- I'm not even going to attempt the steps they do!). Oh yes, and do my stretches every day...

 

Yay- my ballet blues are over (I think)...

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Hattie, I can relate to the nicer pirouettes when not worrying issue - I only started to get retiré balances when I decided that I am not going to learn them ever anyway so I can as well stop really trying and do sloppy ones... Not the best attitude ever, I know, but it helped. :blushing::(

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Guest adancingartistforlife

Hey Hattie

 

You're going to have your good days and your bad days. You are going to have days when you were sure you were going to do well, and you dont - and conversely there will be days when you feel like crap and you're just "there" and you do 4 pirouettes, and you say "Where did that come from?"

 

Thats the Beauty Of Being A Dancer - You keep doing it, you take what comes, work on getting better, and don't get phased by adversity.

 

And you can't quit because you love it so much

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