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Ballet Talk for Dancers

A String of Dud Classes


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I've been going through a three week stretch of totally lousy classes. I imagine this is something we all go through and I was wondering about others' thoughts about this, methods for coping, ideas on what we can get out of these "dead" periods.

 

I'm finding that I can't turn for spit, my legs feel like lead, my arms look like sausages, I can't remember combinations, and if I can I can't do them: I can barely stand to look at myself during class.

 

As koska mentioned on the support group thread I suspect this is partly to do with the readjustment after a couple of weeks off but I'm finding it very depressing. I know from experience that "this too shall end" and I also know that skipping class won't make it end any sooner, but only prolong it.

 

I also suspect that these miserable periods of complete incompetance often herald a new jump forward. Can I maximize it? Or am I doomed to just suffer through it?

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I can only offer one remedy- try to take a class below your level if possible. I did a make up class on Monday in the level I was in last year, and I was really able to see my improvement. Nothing new was introduced in the class, instead I reflected on how things that were so difficult last year, were now things that came naturally. The teacher, who I don't have this year, but did last year, gave me what I consider a huge compliment "Your head moves this year!"

 

As for miserable classes, that's what I felt like in pilates last night. I came home with abs that felt like they had worked out, so I must have done something, but overall, I felt like it was a complete waste of time.

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Dido I think you answered your own question. Yes, it will pass. We progress, regress and plateau and quite frankly I don’t think there is anything we can do to cause our bodies to do other than what it chooses to do. Physically, we are probably pretty steady, but our perception and attitude get seriously messed up along the way.

 

My advice is to do something different. I don’t think it makes much difference what it is or whether or not it is dance related. Sometimes a change provides a little spark that at least gives you more of a positive outlook on what you do.

 

You might try skittl1321’s advice. That approach never worked for me, however. I’ve always done better when being around people who were better than me. But that’s just me. I tend to behave toward the middle of whatever group I associate with.

 

One thing I used to do when I was experiencing a bit of dancer’s depression was to do what I called a remedial ballet class. I stole the idea from a ballroom dance teacher. She always called it PSP—painfully slow practice. I’d do a 2-hour home class in my kitchen without any music. Essentially, I’d do a bunch of barre exercises as center exercises, adding a lot of turns (because I like turning) to those exercises, and do an adagio and pirouette combination or two from a recent class. The neat thing I did was to do everything (except the turning obviously) extremely slowly. My purpose was to feel the movements and feel every correction that I’d heard (whether for me or anyone else) recently. I’d repeat combinations until I was completely satisfied that I had a total sense of what I was doing. The whole emphasis was on feeling. Oh yes, just to mix in some other things I’d go to the dining room and hold on to the back of a chair and do some sautés just to do some jump. Just for fun, sometimes I’d see how long I could hold a balance (any). I loved holding these until I had to get out of it because my calf muscles were experiencing some serious pain.

 

I also rationed these kinds of sessions because I wanted to save them for when I needed to do something different. I probably only did these sessions twice a year. That’s a guess but in the ballpark.

 

I’m not suggesting that anyone should do what I did. I just give it as an example of something I think is useful yet totally different from what we normally experience. As I recall it at least put me in a positive mental space for a while.

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Also, try to remember (I know it's hard) that often bad classes lead to frustration, frustration leads to lack of confidence, and lack of confidence leads to more bad classes. Vicious cycle. You just get stuck into a mental rut. This TOTALLY happens to me with pirouettes - I can hit triples on a good day without too much trouble, but other days I just start psyching myself out and falling out of doubles. :-P So just remember that every day is brand new day that you get to dance, and you can CHOOSE to be different today from how you were yesterday.

 

Another remedy: treat yourself to new dance clothes! My good luck bright red + orange + purple striped leg warmers alwasy help give me a boost when I get stuck in a rut. :thumbsup:

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