Sir, that’s a negatory. We have a no-go on tours, repeat, that’s a no-go

Told my ballet teacher no.

Ok I’d like to be able to say it was a loud and firm You’re-not-the-boss-of-me style no. But no. It was more of the timid no-if-that’s-ok?-with-you sort.

Ok, see, we’re in class, and he’s really pushing me for the first time since The Sprain. He’s all, “it’s been five weeks, it’s time to work.”
And I’m like, “yes!”
And he’s like, you are feeling better? You are ready to begin to work again?
and I’m, “yes!”
And he’s like, you may feel some soreness, you may need to ice your ankle after class, but this is normal, your tendons have shortened from under-use, you must begin to use them again, lengthen them.
And I’m like, “yes!”
And we begin barre, and instead of calling out to me to stay in demi plié, he’s telling me don’t baby the right, make it work now.
And we get to center and we do some sissóns and it’s the first time my toes have left the ground at the same time in weeks. And they’re barely leaving the ground, but still, five weeks, it feels great. And he’s calling out “Good. Now close fifth. Solid! More solid! Both heels press the floor! Hard! No favoring!”
And then we get to that one combination of changement, changement, changement, eschappé to second; changement, changement, changement, tour sauté.
Last few weeks I’ve been stepping back to the barre to do low relevés during this combination. This time I stay in center and substitute a (low) eschappé for the tour.
“No, my dear! You didn’t go around! Why didn’t you go around? Jump straight up and go all the way around!”
My jaw kind of falls open and I say, “But I, um, no, I don’t think…?” and he jumps right in with, “yes! You can do this! You must work now!”
And I’m horrified. I mean, Gentle Reader, I was already a little afraid of this jump. Before The Sprain.
You jump up from both feet, use your arms to whirl you through the air in a full circle like a corkscrew, and land on both feet exactly where you took off.
It’s fun and exciting but I never really fully got the hang of it, not consistently at least, and it involves twirling, and landing, and you can’t watch yourself in the mirror so you can’t guide yourself you just have to do it-
and mostly I’m horrified because I have to say,
“um, no, I um really don’t? think I’m ready for this? Yet?”
And while I’m freaking out about what he will say next and will I have to say no again and maybe muster up a little backbone this time when Lé Assistant busts up in there with, ‘Old Man! You leave her be! Almost no one in this class lands this jump right, even with two good ankles!’
So he concedes.
And I’m super relieved.
And then later I think, holy crap, I just told an old Russian ballet master No. In the wussiest way possible, but dang, I kinda did it.


About adultbeginner

Had my first ballet class Ever at the advanced age of thirty-two. Yikes.
This entry was posted in Technique and Class, the Body and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Sir, that’s a negatory. We have a no-go on tours, repeat, that’s a no-go

  1. mathematicalstateofmind says:

    Good for you. Now one knows your own body like you do. Btw, lucky you for having a Russian Ballet master. I’m jealous!
    Ok, with respect to Lé Assistant, you are so patient and forgiving. If she actually said that to the class I would have told her where to go! Was she saying that to be sarcastic, or did she think she was helping? I’d have said,
    “I’ve paid to be here, you’re getting paid to be here, I don’t need to take your shit”

    • Ha! That’s so funny! Never even occured to me to be insulted! Was too busy being relieved to have her on my side on this one.
      She and Smirnoff have a particular teaching style that is mostly him encouraging us to try and get the basic shape of any new thing, while she makes grumbly comments in the background about all the little things we’re doing wrong. Usually this annoys me and I ignore her and keep trying to rough in the basic shape and figure out the details later, but her obnoxious attention to detail is really helpful those times when I need to refine, and I can ask a quick, “where are my arms?” type question.
      So, yeah, wasn’t offended at all because that’s just Her Way and we’ve all become accustomed to taking it or (mostly) leaving it.

  2. Johanna says:

    Don´t beat yourself up over it. No way would I attempt tours en l’air after recovering from an ankle sprain. As you said, they were tricky enough even before. Come to think of it, tours are are really steps for the male danseurs, even though there´s no reason for girls not to attempt them. But I do wonder.. I know that after 2 years you do not in fact qualify as a beginner anymore, but that saut is pretty advanced stuff. Well, at least intermediate. So much control is necessary, especially on the landing.

    You´re a grown-up, smart (and witty might I add) woman – and certainly no longer a newbie to ballet. Like the commenter before said, you have to trust yourself on occasion and go against a teacher´s demands or wishes, however well intended. I would also seek out another teacher (in addition to Sminrnoff), just to balance things out a bit. Maybe someone with a Checcetti or RAD background, or French School..

    As for myself.. dancing here in Finland, the Russian influence prevails – and it is not always good. Many of the old-school teachers are stuck in the Worship of Vaganova, not taking into account the ballet-perfect physicality it demands. Tendus to the side, at 180 degrees, perfect fifths, holding legs up 4-8 counts, endless repetitions, building bulk.. Of course it is not all grim, the best teachers know how to get it right. Still, I´m happy to have discovered other styles and schools of ballet!

    I maybe overstepping a bit here, but as a fellow adult dancer (and former adult beginner), I´m proud of you! Making your own discoveries and finding out what is unique and special to you is all part of becoming a dancer. Sometimes that means saying no. You go girl! :)

  3. Good for you! It is good to push yourself but not too hard; if you couldnt land it properly before your injury, then landing impropery this time may have brought you back to square one with your sore ankle. :)

  4. Acacia says:

    Get you! All standing up (kinda) for yourself! I’m sure your instincts are right, given that this was your first class at full tilt. It says something about his faith in you that he insisted you could do the jump, and the respect he has for you by acceding to your judgement (after his assistant stepped in and insulted your entire class. She should pull a Principal Skinner and say “Prove me wrong children! Prove. Me. Wrong.”)

  5. Nina W says:

    Hahahaha good for you! :D

  6. Kaija says:

    Way to go! Sometimes you have to listen to your body and go with your gut instinct. You know yourself better than even the most experienced instructor. I have said “no” in class as well and it CAN be very scary to disagree but if used judiciously, it can even enhance your instructor’s opinion for you. My graduate school advisor said at my post-defense party that he knew I was ready for launch when I started disagreeing with him (in an appropriate and defensible way, of course!). I hope you finish healing fast and keep dancing with your positive spirit :)

  7. lalatina says:

    Hahaha! This is such a cool story :) I hope you finish healing soon!

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