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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Impossible exercise!


Guest beckster

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Guest beckster

I need tea and sympathy from fellow ballet people, as my friends think my hobby is a joke and the people in my class are too young to understand. I am having dreadful problems learning one of the exercises for my exam next month. Its a Polish character dance (mazurka), and while I don't have problems with the mood or the style of dancing, I just can't get this one exercise straight in my head! I am having extra lessons and I've been going over it in my head and still I can't do it. I think I've given myself a mental block because it's impacting on the rest of the character dances I have to do as well! It's extremely demoralising, when I'm working 10 times harder than everyone else and they can all do it and I can't. I'm so sick of it, I nearly cried in class the other day. I loved character dancing when I started ballet and I know I could do well at it, if only I could get over this hurdle. Has anyone ever experienced anything like this?

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All the time!;)

 

And not just with ballet either - it's possible to overpractice something! I had a terrible time with the character stuff for my grade 6. And I had similar troubles with my piano exams when I was younger. Often it helped to take a few days off the particular exercise and try and forget about it, and then make a fresh attempt when I'd not been thinking about it and had time to relax. It's easy to get stuck on something if you're stressing over it.

 

Hope this helps. I know it's not too long til your exam but you do have time to take out and chill.:D

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Oh yes!

 

It's the "I have to get this right now, I really really have to" -feeling, that makes absolutely certain I will not. I don't have it so much with ballet - yet? - though I seem to be developing a tendency towards that with balances (gotta watch that one).

 

But I experience it a lot with studies, math and programming and such. It's very easy for me to slip into this "I don't know how to do this but I have to keep on trying even though I feel like crying so much that I am not accomplishing anything"...

 

The only thing that helps for me is to drop the thing, do something else, and pick it up again only when I feel enough like it. The time needed off varies a lot - it usually isn't less than over night, but can be as long as a week or so. Sometimes the "dropping it" can be a mental trick only - do it, but do it purposefully half-heartedly, without caring if you make it or not - but usually I really need concrete time off to achieve that.

 

It sounds paradoxical that you cannot care too much about succeeding if you want to succeed... but for me, it seems to be exactly like that in the details. (In a more abstract level, one of course needs ambition.)

 

I might not be making much sense, this is a very difficult emotion to describe.

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Oh, and let me add that if you do take time off the particular exercise, spend the time doing things you're really good at because this will give you the confidence you need. Maybe do a beginner's class or something just to find your centre, being somewhere that it doesn't matter so much will help a lot and make you feel like you're not wasting your time.

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Oh yes, Kate, you're definitely right: for me too, the best way to spend the time off from that one particular detail is to do some other detail of the same big ambition. :D

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What is it in the exercise you can't do? Is it the steps themselves or do you have problems remembering the sequence of steps? Sometimes if I learn things in sections I can't link them all together - maybe that is the problem? I have a copy of the syllabus if that would help you. You could also watch the video (your teacher probably has it) and see if that makes it all come clear. That exercise is with a partner too (if I am thinking of the right one!) so you need a reliable partner as well...:D

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Guest beckster
"I don't know how to do this but I have to keep on trying even though I feel like crying so much that I am not accomplishing anything"

 

I couldn't have put it better, Jaana. This is exactly how I feel.

 

Lolly, its the mazurka and pas marche exercise. I really don't know what the problem is, I know how the exercise goes in my head, and I can do all the steps, but for some reason it just doesn't work. And now I've started to have problems with the other character exercises too, which I could do before. I try to laugh it off but sometimes I can't, and my teacher is getting frustrated with me!

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Hey Beckster,

with everything else going on your life and head for that mater its little wonder that you are getting stressed over this exercise.

You sound like you need a day or so to just focus on things.

Its harder if your teacher is obviously frustrated at you.

Do you have the music on tape by any chance?

If not, I would ask your teacher to copy it for you so you can listen in your own time. Listening to the music while you are doing work and at home will allow you to really feel the dance and you can relax enough to let it flow.

You obviously know your steps, so thats not the problem.:D

If you do have the music, then listen to it as much as you can, even while you work. I did just that and it all falls into place quite nicely.

 

 

With me, pas de valse...such a simple step..yet it took me forever to learn it turning. I just couldn't do it. Over and over again my teacher would show me, my friends would show me, year after year, and I never got it,I would just fluke my way through it without really feleing I had done it correctly. Until one day my friend at class asked me how to do that step, and I just showed her, and wow..I did get it suddenly it was amazing, it was so easy and simple and what had I been worried about?

 

 

Perhaps you should imagine you have to demonstrate that part of the dance to someone and just do it.

Otherwise just practice practice practice, you need to brake through this and get on with your exam :D

 

p.s. just thought as well, in case you have 4 different people showing you the step all the time, as that tends to happen. EVeryone is suddenly so helpful, that it can be overhelpful and nto help at all. Just ask one person to go through it with you....I can think of one name that springs to mind:)

 

:D

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Guest beckster

Thanks for the support everyone. I actually feel a lot better simply for expressing the problem without having to make a joke of it. And knowing that other people have had similar issues makes me feel better too.

 

I have a tape and I've seen the video (grinning children with sweaty armpits). I don't have space to practice at home, so I'm trying a new style of practice which involves going through the moves in my head and just doing the arms and head. I have a theory that if I can get them fluent, maybe my legs will just follow along!

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Making your head and arms look good is the most important thing anyway, many would argue! Glad you have a plan! Good luck.:(

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Guest beckster

Crisis over. Lying in bed waving your arms does work! I had my mock exam today with a different teacher as examiner - the real thing isn't till early December, but it went ok :( A few minor comments, and advice to "perform" more, but I don't feel too bad about it.

 

Time to stop thinking about it and get on with stupid thesis of evilness.

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