Talk to the Hand

Let’s all get in the Way-Back machine and visit one of my very first ballet classes, ever, with Sazerac, who was waging an epic battle to get me to follow my arm movement with my gaze and not be just a big wooden block of wooden wood.
‘Look at your hand!’
(I take a lightning fast peek in my hand’s general direction)
‘No! Look at your hand! Look right into your palm! What’s in there? Better look! Better see what’s in there!’
So, of course once she said that I was Totally Curious and freaked out and was like, oh my god, am I holding something, what am I holding?! Seriously couldn’t tell without looking, so intent on paying attention to every freaking other body part.
So I rubber-necked around and of course there was nothing in there.
But her little trick got me to turn my head, and moving the head is a huge part of creating a sort of inquisitive, lively feeling in ballet.
Got me into the habit of checking in with my hands during ballet class. You know, just having a little chat.
‘Whatcha got there, Rightie? (grande plié, head inclined to the left, gaze to the right hand) Oh, a big invisible marshmallow? Nice!!! Ok, keep it real, I’m gonna go visit with Lefty now. (head travels in a graceful incline to the right, gaze to the left) Hey Left, how’s it hanging?!’
It’s crazy how much trouble my hands will get up to if I don’t keep an eye on them.
Recent example: we’re learning this jump, I deduce it’s a called a sauté turn? Because it’s a jump from both feet to both feet?
We jump up, turn completely around in the air, and land.
If life were one of those oldie timey how-to-dance charts with the footprint diagrams, the diagram for this step would be two feet, a big swirl, and then two feet back in the exact same place.
When Smirnoff gave instructions for this craziness the first time, I did what I usually do: I took a surreptitious peek to my left and to my right to see how the most experienced girls in class were taking it in.
If they look unconvinced, then it’s cool, I’m not alone, this request ridiculous.
But in this case they were totally on-board.
This thing is do-able! I’m going to have to figure out how to do it! Right now!
Oh, and it’s a jump from fifth and switch your feet in the air while making the full circle to land with the other foot front in fifth.
First few weeks (Weeks, people) of trying this I am totally ridiculous, landing half way through the circle, then three quarters through the circle, then finally making a full circle but landing with butt stuck out in a very nice pas de Duck.
But this is good, because it means Smirnoff can start giving me real corrections.
Like jump up, straight up, height helps.
And, “look at your hand!”
And when I look, my arm is not waiting patiently at my side in second, ready for the jump. No! The damned thing is way the hell behind me, gearing up for a big swoop through the air!
So I check in, say, ‘ok Left, you stay here now,’ get it in a good second position, look away and get ready to sauté when Smirnoff stops me and says again, “Look! Look at your hand!” and I look and I’ll be damned if it hasn’t gone right back to it’s wind-up position, where I specifically told it not to go just two seconds earlier!
The only way I have ever made it through this sauté turn successfully is by addressing my hand with a firm warning that I am on to it’s tricky ways, and that I will be watching it all the way through.
And I point two fingers at my eyes and then point them at the offending hand.
And throw in a finger-gun for good measure.
Pyew pyew!

About adultbeginner

Had my first ballet class Ever at the advanced age of thirty-two. Yikes.
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13 Responses to Talk to the Hand

  1. Christina says:

    You have a wonderful blog! Been following since I stumbled across it last month. :) Love your posts, they are funny, and most of all, real. Thank you! ;D

  2. Oh gawd, I definitely LOLd my way through this post. My arms are sometimes uncooperative like that too. They seem to think that Leggy Left and Leggy Right have already stolen the show so why would they bother to compete with that? I keep telling then that I really want, no, NEED them in order to appear graceful but to my chagrin, they freeze in the spotlight.

  3. mladen says:

    great post :)

    last week, my ballet teacher decided i was ready to include my hands in the routine, other than the second position. and i agreed. i just wish my hands would too.
    seems they think it’s more fun holding cramped zombie positions and refusing to cooperate. i’ll try with threats next week…

    but seriously, i’m waay over my head with everything the feet are doing, and with the head and the shoulders and pelvic, now with the bloody arms needing to be coordinated, i’m just a mess. can’t i just do ballet waist-down and riverdance wait-up?

  4. Juliet says:

    When I try these jumps, occasionally, one foot lands on top of the other instead in of a proper fifth (and I yell ouch accordingly).

    I really enjoyed this post! I think it’s one of my favorite Adult Beginner posts so far. :)

  5. Nichelle says:

    The jump (in brief) is called a tour :) And typically it’s a ‘guy jump’ but good for the chicas too. Not easy but fun. Tricky part is keeping the body from spiraling – shoulders over hips – & spot the heck out of that puppy!

  6. Hey Abs – Here’s a young man working on a double tours en l’air in a classic enchainement with coaching from Roudnev:

    I had a girlfriend years back who could do 2.5’s. But that’s just weird! ;)

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