You guys, I never thought I’d get to take pointe.
You know- too late to the game, why would anyone bother teaching such a difficult and unnecessary thing to someone so much older, taller, heavier, less flexible and less career ambitious than your average twelve-year-old girl.
Really thought, here is something I’ve missed all hope of opportunity to try…
…and then bam! There I was, on the floor of the studio, wrapping my ankles in satin ribbon under the watchful eye of a classmate.
Got laced up, Smirnoff called me over to check my shoes, poked the spot between my ankle and Achilles tendon and said, “the knot must be here, in this hole. Feel this? Must be in this hole, there can be no pressure on the tendon or the bone.”
Walked awkwardly to the barre and re-tied, looked up, and Smirnoff was up! On both canes! Ski pole-ing straight at me! Gentle Reader, I have never seen this happen. It was alarming. At most, I’ve seen him stand, supported with both hands on his chair, and demonstrate a step, but never have I seen the man double-cane it across the room like that.
He arrived at the barre beside me, hooked his canes over, and said, “My Dears, let’s get to work now, come closer, both hands on the barre.”
We got closer, then closer still, until we were all lined up side by side facing the barre, and then, without music, he called out the exercises.
They were completely different from the ballet class barre.
Usually we practice technique at the barre. Pirouettes, pas de bourré, frappés, ronde de jambes. Usually I am feeling it by the time we reach the tendu glíssades, and I can watch as the leotard on the girl in front of me progresses from one dark spot at the small of her back to completely dark with sweat.
-and not in a bad way, not like that one yoga class where I would look back from downward facing dog and see sweat dripping off the giant honking gross door-knocker of a nipple ring on the guy behind me and I would instantly get the willies, no, Smirnoff’s ballet class has a long, hot, strenuous, intricate barre, sweaty in a good way and I was expecting the same, just en pointe, but no ma’am!
This barre was about warming up the feet and getting me to stand correctly.
Which is not where I thought I should stand! Seemed logical that one would stand en pointe on the flat of the platform, right? No, apparently one must always be pushing through the big toe. Several times the girl beside me reached down and tapped the big toe, or lightly pushed my heel forward and whole foot to rest more toward the big toe, before I started to get it. Meanwhile Smirnoff was on my other side, saying, “feel the toe!”, pushing me forward from the hip and tapping my knees.
Heres what we did, that I can remember: feet parallel, one stays flat, one points, bend the knee all the way to touch the wall. On pointe with both feet, bend knees to wall, straighten. Relevés, eschappes, pas de bourres.
Closing fifth en pointe is really fun, you guys! The shoes, like, fit together nicely? And hopping up en pointe is fun. Smirnoff is a hop-up not a roll-up kinda guy.
In fact, we did not do anything through the demi-pointe.
En pointe in second position involved a little scoot inward thing I will have to figure out, it was like, instead of being in second on flat, and then hoping directly up onto the pointe exactly where it was, the pointe lands where the middle of the foot had been? Maybe has to do with really arching the foot?
We did another exercise with kicking the legs back from the knee while en pointe, without letting the working knee move forward, which involved a lot of tapping and, “this knee is good. That knee must learn from this knee!” then we turned from the barre, still kicking back, and everyone walked away from the barre.
And I was like, holy crap!
Took a few steps away, and Gentle Reader, it was terrifying!
Omygawd! I mean, the Adult Beginner is over six feet tall in pointe shoes. Had this image of keeling over like a felled tree while Smirnoff yelled, “Timberrrrrr!” and ballerinas scattered in my wake.
Heels met the floor, I stepped back to the barre. Smirnoff said that was fine, I should stay with the barre as long as I need.
Class did some temps lié, which I love, and followed along at the barre, thinking, this is so cool how we close fifth! But how the hell am I gonna get out there on the floor?
Was amazed at how being en pointe made my body feel. Taut, like a bowstring. That whole, ‘imagine someone is pulling you up by one hair on the top of your head’ thing has never made sense because I always think, ‘wow, that would be annoying. I would swat at them and yell Quit It.’ but just then I felt pulled tight from the tip of the shoe to the top of my head.
Also, found myself wondering what the hell good does jogging do? Why do my thighs feel so trembly? Sheesh!
Not to long after the temps lié I started to get a kind of blister-y feeling along the outside of my left pinkie toe, and switched out to soft shoes.
But for the rest of the class I felt incredibly pulled up and placed forward. Really think this is going to improve me a crazymassiveton in ballet class.
And of course as soon as I took the shoes off I wanted to put them back on again.
But it’ll have to wait.
Although he did say I could practice the pahh cah-roo at home.
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