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Ballet Talk for Dancers

I don't want to go back

Striving for Grace

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This morning one of our regular teachers was sick so we had a substitute who had a totally different style of teaching. I can normally pick new things up quickly, but this teacher seemed to expect waaaaaaaaaay too much of us for the level that our class is at. Every barre exercise she gave us was long (more so than what I'm used to- in each one of her exercises she included - to front side and back- plies, temps lies, ports des bras with epaulements, directional changes, releves, passes, arabesques, attitudes, allonges, and at least 2 balances). We did an hour and 15 minutes of barre in a 2 hour class (not that I mind). Every exercise took about 3 or 4 minutes to each side... I survived the barre work and even got a compliment on my line here and there.


However, center work was incredibly challenging. Again, the combinations were super long and for across the floor or "from the corner" exercises, we started in the center of the room, moved left then right then in large circles, and no two steps were the same. One salient example is: temps leve, saute arabesque, another jump that I can't remember, pas de bourre, glissade, jete, pas de chat, grand pas de chat, failli assemble, changement, balance right, balance left, balance front and back, classical walk into chasse, attitude en releve, allonge into releve arabesque, grand jete, soutenu en tournant, pirouette, fouette, double fouette, soutenu en tournant, hold, pose, and close... and, to the other side! And all this with coorinating reverse ports des bras and epaulements and a few dramatic character poses thrown in.


I thought I was going to die. The others were just like, whatever, or "yeah, that's gonna happen" and didn't care if they missed steps, but I do...


At one point I stood back and wasn't going to even try because I was freaked out by all the new steps and ways of putting them together, and she was like "what's happened? are you ok?" And I said I would just sit this one out, I couldn't get it. She made me do it and was really encouraging, even saying the steps as I was about to do them. I did the combination, but felt like an idiot, looked like an idiot, had a paralyzed expression, didn't spot, had wobbly balance and stiff arms, and all the ballet joy was sucked out of me. Still is, in fact... I have class again in an hour (with our regular pointe teacher), and for the first time ever, I don't want to go... :green::blushing::):D

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Okay, so, you had a bad class. We all have them. You don't know how many times I was just "off" one night and decided that I had no business doing ballet. lol. One night after a particulary challeging class I went home and informed my roomate (who was just starting at the time) that she can have all my ballet clothes/books/etc because I was done. I'm sure other members here have had those experiences. It especially happens when it's a different teacher/class we aren't used to. I do have to admit that in my opinion an 1:15 minute barre is very long, and that combo you describe is long as well. I'm not sure what level your in, but I know that it's way above mine. And subs are the worst because we aren't prepared for it. We go happily looking forward to our normal class and then...boom!...you find out there is a sub and it's usually too late (and quite rude) to duck out. At least when we plan on taking a different class we are more prepared for the unexpected. My advice is to just chalk it up to a bad class. Go to your pointe class tonight and have a good time. The lack of joy for ballet you are feeling is usually a tempory thing, and very normal after the experience you described.

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I just had the exact same type of class. But it was my own fault!! I'm traveling and took a class at a studio that I have visited before, but many of the students in tonight's class were "graduates" who are home for the summer, "so the teacher likes to challenge them a bit," I was told....NO KIDDING!!!


I had the ballet joy sucked right out of me with no one to blame but myself...but that's ok...chalk it up to experience...good to push myself occassionally....I sometimes get very comfortable and I'm going to consider this a really good experience and try not to hate ballet - or the way I do it - any more for tonight.......

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Is it OK to say "this is too advanced for me, can I do something simpler?" - particularly if its a one-off class with a different teacher?



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Striving for Grace, the fact that the teacher was encouraging you to do the combination most likely meant she thought you were doing a good job, so don't be too hard on yourself. :P


Jim, usually it's a good idea to just give the combination your best shot, or if there is a step in it that you truly don't know how to do, ask the teacher for more detail ("I haven't done that step before, could you explain it more?) and s/he will probably get the message.

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Hans - I always try combinations, but sometimes after a few times I'm still confused and also know that I'm not going to get it sorted out. Then I try to do just some of the elements which I know will be a sufficient challenge but will allow me to (potentially) learn something. But I always give it a go first - I suppose I have a hope that one day I'll have one of the breakthroughs that I dream about!



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Oops, I left a bit out of my post--this will teach me to log on to the board before I'm truly awake! I meant to say that as the teacher is giving the combination, if you see a step you don't know how to do, ask about it then--before everyone starts dancing. That way there's time for the teacher to modify the combination if s/he decides that it's really too advanced and it also gives him/her a better idea of what the students can do.


Keep hoping--you may not notice a breakthrough when it happens, but after some time has passed you might look back and think, "I couldn't do that step at all last week/month/year and now it's no problem!" :P

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Being a guy, what I’m going to say is totally biased from a male point of view. I’ve notice over the years I’ve danced that regardless of level, from beginner to professional, males are more prone to making mistakes than are females. Having been a parent of both a male and female, I’ve seen the same thing in just growing up—males being the goof-###### while females striving to “do it right.”


We males, being quite experienced in goofing up, often don’t let things like that bother us much. In fact often we try to learn from our mistakes, use mistakes as something to work on, things of that sort. We have our defense mechanisms well tuned. To we males, females seem to obsess on doing things right, something we have difficulty understanding. Females tend to interpret our attitude as innate slovenliness. Nevertheless, I think sometimes our slovenliness works.


I know all of that isn’t helpful to Striving for Grace, but it is what came to my mind immediately.

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If I hadn't learned to look on my mistakes as Opportunities To Learn, I'd have quit a year ago. :blushing: I learn combos VERY slowly and often sit out or stop in the middle going duuuhhhh?!? :blink: One night a friend noticed my trembling lower lip, asked what was wrong, sympathized, then pointed out that:


1) that's why they call it a lesson -- we're LEARNING

2) everybody else is so worried about how THEY look, they're not really looking at you anyway

3) why would you care about the opinion of anyone who would dare to look down on you?


I don't think I'm being presumptuous in saying that we on the ABSBB are proud of you :D Hang in there!

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Thanks for all your replies and encouragement. :blink:


I went to all my classes yesterday and am going again today. Yesterday I was fine, since we had only our regular teachers. One of my teachers commented to me: "Where's that dynamic today, Grace? Where's the artistry? I'm just not seeing it... You look as though someone is forcing you to dance!" :blushing::blink::D I tried harder but just couldn't seem to dance well. Technically I was ok, but like she said, no artistry. Mentally, I feel too drained/ashamed of myself to even bother with artistry... Everyone else has been dancing for so long and I've just been doing it for a year... so who am I to try to be artistic/dynamic/ to dance "beautifully"anyway?


In my next class I tried a lot harder, and the teacher (not the same one as before) said "Grace, you've got the steps down. Stop concentrating so hard... Just dance it, feel it, try to enjoy it." She also told me to smile a couple of times.


It's amazing how difficult it can be to "shake off" one bad class. It's also amazing how criticism can make you realize that when you thought you sucked, you probably weren't as terrible to watch as you thought. For example, I know realize that in all honesty, up until yesterday I truly used to have a dynamic, I used to feel the music, I used to enjoy myself even on tough days, I used to smile, I used to... well, dance, I guess. I want to do well, but I just don't know if the joy will ever come back... :shrug::blushing:

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I tried harder but just couldn't seem to dance well. Technically I was ok, but like she said, no artistry . . . "Grace, you've got the steps down. Stop concentrating so hard... Just dance it, feel it, try to enjoy it."


Grace, years ago I had the same problem in my voice lessons after a few months with a ragingly perfectionist teacher. I could hit the right notes with the right technic, but I wasn't singing. Finally, my lovely new teacher gave me a cartoon that showed two centipedes. One of them was in a crumpled heap, legs everywhere, with a disgruntled look on his face; the other was saying "Don't think about it, just walk!" :D It really helped.


Everyone else has been dancing for so long and I've just been doing it for a year... so who am I to try to be artistic/dynamic/ to dance "beautifully"anyway?


EXACTLY!!! And who is someone else to question that? This is what my more advanced friends have to remind me of when I get discouraged. You are to be commended for even being there, swimming with the big fish. You might have a frank talk with your regular teacher to let her know how discouraged you felt by this substitute's methods.


Remember: ultimately, your audience is yourself and God. Please those two and who cares about the rest?

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"Don't think about it, just walk!" :D It really helped.


Too true! I find that at home when I absentmindedly, say, stand in retire, I can balance beautifully, but in class when I'm so focused on myself in the mirror and *trying to do things perfectly* I begin to wobble, look stupid, and wonder how much more I can possibly perverse this art.


We all have had at least one horrible day in the studio, Grace. If we all decided to quit right after that, well, this board wouldn't exist! I have a hard time shaking off bad days, too, but in the end, I convince myself that dwelling on it isn't going to make me a better dancer. No worries! :wub:

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The joy will be back, Grace! It can take a little time to shake off a blow to the confidence but it does return, I promise. It's very difficult to adjust to new teachers if you're used to one or two regular ones, it always takes me months. But I now make myself try new classes sometimes despite tripping over my own feet and not knowing what other people obviously see as really simple steps. It's a trade-off between embarrassment and learning! Besides, as Kasaba says, everyone is too worried about how they look to look at anyone else...

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But I now make myself try new classes sometimes despite tripping over my own feet and not knowing what other people obviously see as really simple steps. It's a trade-off between embarrassment and learning!


So glad to see there's someone else down here on the floor with me . . . Remember, all those other people didn't always see those steps as simple!!!

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