Turn. This mutha out

Lately I’ve been taking Adult Open Level Ballet with Smirnoff twice a week.
And for some reason, the class that’s earlier in the week is always jam-packed, while the class later in the week is practically empty.
Scary empty.
Like, I get to the studio 20min or so before class, turn the lights on, get out Smirnoff’s chair, warm up All Alone, meanwhile internal monologuing, ” Please-oh-please-oh-please somebody, anybody! Show up for class! I’m not ready for a private lesson!”
Not so much afraid of being the sole object of Smirnoff’s scrutiny for an hour and fifteen minutes, although that is not the most cuddly of prospects, more afraid of the what happens when you pair a beginner with a teacher who physically can’t demonstrate. Not looking forward to the Massive Frustration Festival of me doing things wronger and wronger while Smirnoff tries different ways to describe things using only words and hand gestures.
To his credit, it’s amazing how much he really does get across with only words and hand gestures. But a lot of this physical stuff needs to be learned by mimicry or re-positioning, which is when I really need another, more advanced student in class.
Like the other day, a much more advanced student showed up just as Smirnoff and I were starting pliés.
Phew! Such a relief!
We got to the end of the adagio at the barre, and Smirnoff stopped the music to point out that when we put our leg on the barre for the barre stretch, and we bend toward the leg and press the toe down, I press it the wrong way.
He said, “do it! Put your leg up, let’s see.”
So I put my leg on the barre, folded over it, pressed the toe toward the heel, making more of an arch through the foot and he said, “there! That’s where you’re going wrong. Push the toe Down.” So, I pushed it toward the heel again, thinking, ‘isn’t this down?’ and he said, “No, my Dear. Toward the barre.” and I was like, ‘um, isn’t that toward the barre? And down? Have I entered some alternate plane of existence? Would this be a good time to start Freaking Out?’
Which was when my classmate reached over and pressed my toes to the direction I had been thinking of as the side, turning them out, so they just touched the barre, and I was like, ‘A-Ha! Down! To The Barre! It all makes sense now! This is a turning out exercise, not a foot arch stretch, who knew?!!!!!’
I mean, the bad news is I’ve been doing it wrong for a year, but now it’s fixed, thanks to the increased scrutiny of the nearly empty class.
Of course the next thing to fix was the arabesque barre stretch, during which I always wrap my foot around the barre like a monkey. Apparently that’s wrong too!
That one is going to be harder to fix because it all happens behind me. Always harder to visualize what the heck my feet are doing back there without me.
So, just a note, Gentle Reader, if you are an advanced student in an open level class, we the beginners appreciate and salute you! And hope we are not holding back the class too much. And encourage you to come to class!


About adultbeginner

Had my first ballet class Ever at the advanced age of thirty-two. Yikes.
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9 Responses to Turn. This mutha out

  1. Ok, sure enough, getting the foot to not hook itself around the barre is proving to be a difficult mental and physical puzzle. Plus, working toward the correct way involves bony ankle parts pressing into the barre. Hurts! Gonna have to practice this one at home on the back of a chair or something, try to set it in my mind.

  2. Andre says:

    I think he wants you not to sickle the foot. See if that helps you with the arabesque stretch.

    • Oh! I bet it will!
      Also seems to involve a Lot more turning out than I was doing in the arabesque stretch previously.
      Don’t Sickle is good, I’ll add that to the mental checklist.

  3. flyingwind66 says:

    I love going to beginner classes! I do everything with much more care and precision because I don’t have to concentrate as much on getting the combination right… and I’m probably the anomaly in the pointe shoes >.> it’s nice getting to do more pointe-work

  4. ketutar says:

    “it’s amazing how much he really does get across with only words and hand gestures”
    Oh, the Russian hand gestures… so… ah. Expressive!

  5. Bonnie says:

    Wow! Apparently empty classes are more beneficial to beginners I guess!

  6. Celene says:

    I agree with Bonnie. I’ve had this experience a couple times with some of my toughest teachers. Of course there’s the fear of messing up and not being able to hide behind other people. But when I did mess up my teachers took more time to work on my problems step by step. I found that taking class alone in itself gave a me a bit more confidence in classes when other students came.

    And yeah since I’m sort of a beginner, when more advanced student come, I do worry about holding them back. It also makes me feel impatient and frustrated like, “when am I gunna be that good?!” But then I figure I should just take it one day at a time and that I shouldn’t stress myself about it.

    Great pictures at the end by the way :)

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