Lack of skill, Surplus of Enthusiasm

Was thinking to myself the other day, “Self, what am I Good At in ballet class?”
Not super flexible, although much improved from my pre-ballet self.
Not super extendy. I’m the one at a barre-height developé while Smirnoff calls out to the class to “go right up to your ears!”
Not super turned-out.
Not a super high jumper.
Was starting to think, good gravy, why do teachers even bother with people like me?
But then thought, “Aha! I’m good at Being a Student!”
Case in point:
Tried out a class the other day, taught by a highly amusing and petite Asian lady who had danced with a ballet company in Japan. After pliés she turned to the class, (an older lady, two much younger girls, and the Adult Beginner) and told us to think of mochi. She said, “You know mochi?”
Blank stares from everyone else in class, while I’m making a spherical gesture and saying, “it’s a, um, round dessert?”
She said, “Yes! Verrrrry streeeeeetchy. Yeah? When you plié, must be very stretchy, like mochi. Ok?”
Ok! Smile and nod!
Then she said, “What happens when mochi gets old?”
I made an I-don’t-know face.
She called out to the youngest girl in class, and said, “Yuki, you know what happens when mochi gets old!”
But the girl wouldn’t answer.
So the teacher explained that mochi gets hard and looses it’s stretch, so we must always be fresh mochi, not old mochi.
And I though, ‘Dang, that was rough.’
Because, here’s my point:
By the time you’re an adult, you’ve had the experience of teaching something to a group. At least once.
And you know how Soul-Crushingly God-Awful it is to be faced with a bunch of passive information-receivers who just, like, totally leave you hanging when you ask questions.
You have a certain empathy with teachers that you never ever had as a child student, so you become a more active participant when you take classes, which makes you a valuable class member, whether your leg is at your ear or not.
I hope.
(Still gonna try and get that leg up there)


About adultbeginner

Had my first ballet class Ever at the advanced age of thirty-two. Yikes.
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5 Responses to Lack of skill, Surplus of Enthusiasm

  1. Jen says:

    Ooh, ooh! I read on a ballet blog where it said 90 degree develope is actually the hardest to maintain! Because that is when your leg is farthest away from your body. This explains why my ballet teacher always tells us to aim for 90. Higher up looks impressive, but really, the leg would sorta be resting on your legs.

    Also, think Morgot Fonteyn! She has pretty poor turnout/extension/arch, but she has amazing stage presence and was lovely to watch :) (this is how I console myself as an adult beginner). Also as an adult beginner, you appreciate it and love it more than some teenagers who take ballet classes for granted.

    • Jen says:

      Lol, I mean that the leg would sorta be resting on your hips.

      • Margot Fonteyn. So pretty.
        Next class I’m going to try pulling my leg up higher with my arm, just curious to see what it feels like and see if I can keep it there once it’s up there.
        Probably going to get in trouble!
        But that is very encouraging, that it feels so difficult at 90% because it, like, really is.

  2. candice says:

    Try sometime (when completely warmed up) doing attitude to the front or side. You’ll see the height, at least, even if you can’t hold the extension.

    Extension takes a lot of time, though. Mine took years to loosen up – it’s only now that I can do a grande ronde de jambe en l’air at 90, and I’ve been at ballet off and on for the last five years. (but a lot for the last three.)

    Hi. Not exactly sure how I got here, but I was looking for motivation while trying to break in a fresh pair of pointe shoes.

    • Oh, that makes sense- with the leg bent in attitude I’ll probably have it a tiny bit more rotated and be using the inner thigh more instead of trying to power through with the big ol’ Quad Monsters. Huh. Gonna give it a shot, thank you!

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