Errrrrrrrrrrrbody talkin’ bout the Bolshoi

Visiting Australian is visiting again!
You may remember Visiting Australian from such posts as this one.
Met up at the bar after ballet, Visiting Australian is all, “Class was good then? You’ll be auditioning for the Bolshoi next week?” and I’m all, “Nah, maybe week after next.” and she’s all, “Good on you.”
Next class, about to leave the house, MIL is all, “You’ll be back soon?” and I’m all, “yes, two hours.” and Visiting Australian is all, “Unless you get snatched up by the Bolshoi!” and I’m all, “yup, ’cause I gots what they need.”
Impressed that it’s Bolshoi references she’s making and not Black Swan references. Good on her.
And then in class today, it’s the longer class, so we have time to do the facing the barre elevés and entrechat royales and entrechat quatrés. I love doing the facing the barre stuff. It feels very technical and Real Ballet.
And for the first time Smirnoff mentioned that this section of class is called batterie. (As in Assault And Batterie.) He said his father believed that this section must be done in every class.
In fact, Smirnoff said that when his father was ten, and entered his first class at the Bolshoi, the very first day the teacher lined up all the boys by height, and then assigned them each a spot at the barre, and told them to face the wall, and they never turned away from the wall for An Entire Year. Smirnoff’s pop memorized every scratch and bump on that wall, held the details of that patch of wall in his mind for the rest of his life! And since they faced the wall, they only did exercises to the side and back, never got to tendu or anything front until the next year when they were eleven and allowed to stand sideways to the barre.
And then Smirnoff said, “My Dears, come forward along this line, I will teach you how the Girls Classes at the Bolshoi begin.”
Who knows if they do this anymore, but man, love it when he pulls out this living ballet history stuff.
Apparently there was none of this laying around on the floor, stretching cold before class, which is very bad. Also none of this digging around in dance bags or doing Phone Stuff.
None of that!
Instead, as Smirnoff sez:
“Class starts with greeting the teacher. All the girls line up facing the teacher, (he has us all line up on the line closest to the mirror, facing the mirror and him) and now a little reverénce to the right, no no just a little one, (step right, left foot pointed behind, little dip) now step left, bring your right foot behind. No no, not a reverénce, just point it behind, now turn to that back foot, now walk walk walk walk to the barre, (he’s tapping the floor with his foot) Heels forward My Dears! Heels forward! Now come to the barre, both hands on the barre, finish in first position, and we are ready for class! There, wasn’t that nice!”
Best part of all? This class-opening-ritual has an ulterior motive. It’s not just a show of respect, it also gives the teacher a chance to see, as you walk to the barre, who is energetic and who is draaaaaaagging their sorry butts to the barre.


About adultbeginner

Had my first ballet class Ever at the advanced age of thirty-two. Yikes.
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10 Responses to Errrrrrrrrrrrbody talkin’ bout the Bolshoi

  1. Heather says:

    Assault and Batterie oh dear I made a most unattractive snorting noise.

  2. We do this batterie thing in every class! Although I didn’t know it was called “batterie”!
    We don’t do reverencés, though. Shame, because they are so nice. =(

  3. Jeff says:

    Ha, love it. It’s like reviewing the troops. And NOW we dance!

  4. oh I love the reverence. I’m doing two classes a week, with different teachers and just one of them does the reverence at the end. I wish we did it in the other too – it just suddenly ends and we’re all like, uh, so that was it? sometimes we clap, sometimes we don’t, and everyone just leaves the room, while me and one or two others stay and stretch while the Afrodance class starts…it’s sad.

  5. Hannah says:

    we used to do this in my old classes. my teacher always said she taught in the russian way. guess that’s why.

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