Class Drift

Had a private ballet class,
But not on purpose.
Nobody else showed up! Just me, Lé Assistant, Smirnoff, and a couple tumbleweeds passing through.
Wasn’t terrified, which is, you know, a nice sign of progress. Instead of being all omgomgomgomgsomebody-else-please-come!!! I was like, ok, sweet, I will so stop this class with dumb questions whenever I wants!
But it got me thinking about Class Drift, as in: the way an open-level drop-in adult class will go through these weird, unpredictable shifts in attendance.
I mean, in the year-an-a-half-ish since I’ve been in Smirnoff’s class, one person has moved away, three have gotten pregnant, one has suffered the sort of chronic, achy, life-time-of-dancing type injury that makes one look for a new and gentler kind of exercise,
And there’s the domino effect: if that girl’s not coming anymore her mom might not want to make the drive alone,
A few people have just drifted away, who knows, didn’t like the style of class, didn’t like ballet?
And then you never know when someone new will just show up, try the class, maybe become a regular? Like me? Or maybe never show up again?
Smirnoff had all these conspiracy theories about my surprise private lesson, primarily that Best Girl has become disgruntled. His word. Disgruntled. And if she’s not coming she’s creating a domino of not coming.
After class when I was relaying all this to Mr. Adult Beginner I was all like, “What, like it’s So Hard to be the best?” and Mr. Adult Beginner was like, “She pays for that class just like everybody else.” and then I was like, Dang, he’s right. She is the one asked to demonstrate every single hard or new thing we do, and she gets critiqued mercilessly, in an effort to achieve a clean, correct demonstration for the rest of us slobs.
She should practically get teaching credit.
I have some theories of my own, including the fact that it was one hundred and seven fucking degrees that day, and even I barely managed to wrastle on the Lycra and get in the hot car. Easy to imagine my classmates looking over at their pink tights and saying, “uh-uh. Fuck that noise. I’mma stay here under the air conditioning vent and eat a Popsicle.”
And my other theory: school is just starting up again, and all the mom-types are like, “Dammit! Who is picking junior up after school?!” and all the student-types are like, “Dammit! School!”
The thing about class drift is that not only does attendance change, abilities change. A year ago I couldn’t have handled a private class, because I really really needed someone to follow, and then I got better. And then I got hurt, and had to stop coming for a bit, and then a had to come but only give it my half, as opposed to my all. And now I’m getting better and Smirnoff spent a good part of the barre breaking down his new barre adagio, because, as he says, if I know it, people can learn it from me, but if nobody knows it, it is a disaster.
Funny that children are actually more reliable than adults, at least in the Showing Up For Class category.


About adultbeginner

Had my first ballet class Ever at the advanced age of thirty-two. Yikes.
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15 Responses to Class Drift

  1. mladen says:

    we’re having trouble getting enough people in the new school year in our morning pretend-you’re-advanced-and-the-class-was-meant-for you advanced ballet class. so we still haven’t started and i’m worried that enough people would mean, like, some two people, one of which would be me, still pretending, and the other person.

    it happened once before, only one girl and me showed up and it was actually marvellous. or it could have been if i wasn’t to bloody nervous and every time we did a grand plie, my bloody knees would crackle and pop…

    give me another two years and then, maybe, i can face to barre alone.

    • I bet you could do it.
      You can borrow my giant chicken head if you need some courage-inspiring mental imagery.
      That’s the worst, when you can’t start class because there aren’t enough signed up, and then you start trying to recruit all your friends, and they get annoyed for some reason…not that I’d know anything about that.

  2. Acacia says:

    I’m always amazed by how the class dynamic changes between people leaving and new people coming and I think the difference between a student and an adult class is that for students, not showing up isn’t an option unless you’re sick or injured. For adults, classes are a hobby, and other things (understandably) take precedence. You are a student.

    How lucky to get a free private lesson! For me I’d hope it would give me a chance to do combinations more than twice so I could get the hang of them.

    • Ah, it’s that old devil Student Versus Hobbyist, bane of adult teachers world over.
      And oh yes, there was definitely some, “ok, so it’s balancé balancé assemblé-turn, waltz turning left? Oh, right! Ok then balancé balancé assemble-turn, sissone back? This arm up? That arm? Then sissone front, assemble, sous-sou? Ok!” which I usually never ever do because usually there are so many Aggressive Combination Askers in class, and I’m always kinda like, ‘guys, stop arguing, just chill, he’s gonna call it, let’s just do it already!’
      Also got a chance to confirm some really basic things I don’t feel like interrupting a large class for. Things like, are my hips supposed to be level in penché? Yes? Darn.

  3. Kaija says:

    That happened to me once too…no one else from our small class showed up and it was just me and Mr. E. I was terrified at first, but then I came to the exact conclusion you did: “So now I can ask ALL the questions I have without slowing everyone down or irritating the advanced students? Yes!” Because, like you, I am always chock FULL of questions :)

    I like the distinction between “student” and “hobbyist” for adult dancers…that clarifies a lot of things in my mind!

  4. Hannah says:

    I once paid 80 bucks for a private class. Yup. All the adult classes were during my work hours and I was desperate. I definitely (still) need people to follow, so during the lesson I couldn’t hold any combinations in my brain. The teacher went real slow, and I learned lots about placement and technique. It was a good experience, but of course I can’t afford to do that regularly. It was a one time phenomenon, I suppose. I remember being really, really nervous. My teacher was a retired professional. She moved beautifully. I didn’t, haha.

  5. lalatina says:

    A private class! That seems great to me, especially if you could ask aaaaall of the questions you wanted. I can’t afford one right now and in my school (almost) everybody always show up- we are a bunch of 16 people I think… So the chances that something like what you had will happen to me are very small, we’re all ballet freaks! Besides, we’re a young group (ages 14 to 25), so most of the girls take it very seriously and go to class no matter what. Most of us are students and have no “real” jobs yet, I guess if we were a little older it would be totally different..

  6. marisa says:

    Can anyone recommend a studio in the Los Angeles area? I’ve had such a hard time finding a ballet home, it’s either WAY too serious (professional dancers and SYTYCD contestants) or so inconsistent and unreliable. Help!

  7. “She is the one asked to demonstrate every single hard or new thing we do, and she gets critiqued mercilessly, in an effort to achieve a clean, correct demonstration…”

    You say that like it’s a bad thing. Especially when she’s paying the regular class fee and NOT for a private lesson.

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