Observing the barre

Mr. Adult Beginner is out of town this weekend, and since he wasn’t here to entertain me with Saturday morning ride-in-the-car-coffe-shop-bank-grocery-store-maybe-yard-sale, and yes I am that easy to entertain,
I went to ballet class!
My goals were two fold:
Fold 1. Make sure Smirnoff doesn’t forget me.
Fold 2. Give him visual proof that I have Not succumbed to my tendency towards fatness.
And I was kinda nervous!
I mean, I have gone over the fifteen pounds he granted me, and we all know he’s, like, scary good at pinpointing exact weight gainage and is not afraid to call it like he sees it.
So I did what you do when you’re nervous. Put on a great outfit.
Long black dress with tiny shoulder straps to highlight all the parts that still look like regular old Adult Beginner: arms, shoulders, collarbones, neck, basically everything north of Newly Bodacious Rack, plus a belt at midriff to give newly bodacious rack some love and show off the belly. And some dangly earrings ’cause he’s never seen me wear jewelry.
Hair in a bun.
Because that’s how I wear it all the time anyway because hello ballerina.
Then realized class starts like right then so Ran out of the house and to the car and zoomed there and parked and ran in-
And ofcourse there’s no Smirnoff yet, just two girls laying around on the floor stretching and chatting.
Of course!
This is one of the things I have Not missed about Smirnoff’s class. It never starts on time. In fact, there was this one time where I got to class like one minute early, started setting up the room, and there was this dude in full-on male-dancer get-up, black tights, white T, all correct, the poor bastard had arrived twenty minutes early and had been sitting there, wondering what the hell, and was like, “um, so, is there a class here today?” And I had to be like, “yes! And it’s a really great class, it just never starts on time.”
That guy didn’t become a regular. Dude must’ve moved on to prompter pastures.
Anyway, so I was like, “Hey girls!”
And they were like, “Hey! Omg look at you!”
And then we made fun of the fact that Smirnoff is never on time.
And I got myself a chair right up front by Smirnoff’s chair and caught up with them and checked out the studio,
Which has somehow, after not changing for two plus years, suddenly managed to get all fancified in the four months I’ve been out. That one creepy upholstered wall had been re-upholstered in a less ugly fabric, the barres have been remounted more securely, and that one adjustable barre on the other wall that would always re-adjust itself crooked during class has been entirely replaced with a non-adjustable barre.
Portable barre is still missing one of it’s cross-braces though.
Floor still taped at seams.
So that’s good, not too much different.
Another girl comes in,
Then another,
Half an hour late, Smirnoff and Lé Assistant roll in. And I stand up like, braced and ready. Like, “Bring it on, Old Man, lay it on me, do your worst” but no, he’s all like, “Well look who is here! I am so glad to see you! You look beautiful! How are you? How do you feel? We have missed you! You look wonderful!”
And Lé Assistant is all like, “it’s so nice to see you! How far along are you? You look so slim! When are you coming back to class?”
So, yeah, gosh.
So kisses on both cheeks for Smirnoff, and then he settled down to getting his cd’s all lined up and getting out his ledger and greeting all the other girls in class and collecting the money and complimenting everyone’s outfit and sun tan and smile, like he does,
Meanwhile Lé Assistant is telling me all about Other Pregnant Girl who must be having her baby any minute now but stopped coming to class a while back because she wasn’t liking what she was seeing in the mirror, even though her doctor told her she could dance right up until her due date, and Lé Assistant is pretty sure that if I just had a different doctor I’d be allowed to still take class because everyone has a different opinion and blah blah blah,
And a couple more girls show up, more hugs, more catching up, shoes going on,
Finally Smirnoff calls out “Ladies, Let’s Get To Work”,
And it’s amazing how all the pre-class chaos is gone the second he presses play.
He’s got a new plié routine, with more elaborate peeking under the arm when it’s raised in third. Looks straight up Vaganova. Involves that turn while in fourth plié that makes the Vaganova barre such a continuous, pauseless, choreographed thing,
And then the same tendus, same glissades, and then something new, and something I recognize, and something else new,
And, Gentle Reader, if you ever have any reason to observe your own class, Totally Do It.
Because you might suddenly see things I was suddenly seeing,
Like that everyone looked gorgeous and really Purposeful. Like, I wasn’t noticing the things I worry about when I’m doing barre: I wasn’t noticing who had the nicest feet in tendu or who could bend back the furthest below the barre in cambré, or whose leg could developé highest, instead I was noticing the whole pose and that everyone’s whole line from head to toe was just that, a whole line, not a collection of good-foot-bad-shoulder-good-chin-bad-arm.
Also neat: as exercises I find difficult came up I’d tense and be like, oh, this is one I’m no good at, and other times I’d be like, Oh, this is the one thing I’m good at! And just realizing how ingrained that thinking is. I’m not even doing the exercise and I’m giving myself kinda negative self-talk about it. Making a mental note to be more yoga about the barre: exist in the now, approach it as a clean slate, try and don’t get so pre-judgey with it.
Also fun to see How Effing Intense a barre Smirnoff gives! That thing is brutal! Man, we who can complete that barre are Strong!
Of course by “we” I mean not me. There’s no way I could do that barre right now. I’d’ve had to drop out, even if I’d been given the green light all the way up to my due date. An hour walk or a wall-assisted hand-stand is way more my speed right now than grande battements times eight in each direction followed by petite batterie.
Pretty excited about getting back into it post-baby though.
The barre lasted a full forty-five minutes, everyone went from smiling, freshly-showed and layered-up to red cheeked, covered in sweat, layers gone, still smiling.
And that was when I had to leave.
More cheek kisses to Smirnoff, promises to let them know when the baby comes, Lé Assistant encouraging me to just bring a crib and let the baby chill by Smirnoff during class, said goodbye to girls, told them they all look beautiful, and then I ran out of there.
Kinda worn out but happy.
Goals achieved.
Oh, and on a side note, here’s the official Ballet Skirt Tally:
Out of seven girls in the class, two were wearing chiffon skirts.
Use that information however you like.


About adultbeginner

Had my first ballet class Ever at the advanced age of thirty-two. Yikes.
This entry was posted in ce n'est pas une mom blog, Technique and Class and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Observing the barre

  1. RainStorm says:

    How fantastic to have such a great teacher – he sounds like a character :) And lovely to have the chance to observe and enjoy the dancing. I bet it made you miss dancing even more!

    • Totes.
      But I’m also really happy to see a good number of people in class, and that the class continues to change and get more complex. Nice to know it’s still the for me to come back to.

  2. Amber says:

    I observed my class the last week of my summer intensive, and it was a real eye opener. Granted, I dance with preteen/teen girls (but I love them and miss them terribly) since we don’t have an adult dance program where I live. But from a dancer/outsider perspective, I realized just how difficult the barre exercises are and was like ‘how do I do this at all?’ because one combination may last like five minutes and I was keeping up just fine. It made me realize just how far I’d come in one year, which is how long I’ve been dancing.

    I think all teachers should assign their students days (individual students) that they sit and just watch the class instead of dancing because I learned so much more that way. At least, if I were a dance teacher, I’d totally do that because it is helpful to be able to sit there and go “Oh! So that’s what Miss So and So means when she tells me this and that, and that’s what it looks like when I’m doing it wrong!”

  3. chrisgo says:

    Two skirts ok, but more importantly how many were wearing tights with seams? I’ve become ever vigilant checking the backs of the legs in all of my classes (doing this on the down low of course, I don’t want to become “that guy who…”), some things just get stuck in your mind, much like a terrible song on the way to work. Last Thursday was an all time high, 6 of 15 girls, plus the teacher all had seams. Mine, not so much, but the back up pair in my bag, totally seamed.
    Oh, I’d love to have the chance to sit and watch my class, maybe I’ll fake an injury and watch.

    • Just tell them you’re pregnant.
      Interesting about the tights! I think in general my class is kind of a seam-free zone, no idea why. There was only one girl in pink tights, mostly covered up with black thigh-high legwarmers, all the rest were seamless black tights, black leggings, and one pair of black knee length yoga pant type things.
      It was a very black day. Somehow the class tends to do that, very pink days, very black days, sometimes a blue day.
      I like seamed tights! Might have to get some and start the trend.

      • Bippidee says:

        Seamed tights are evil unless you have incredible turnout. Then you look amazing in them. I have horrible turnout and wouldn’t dream of wearing seamed tights – I don’t need anything to point out just how bad the turnout is!

  4. Ballettmieze says:

    By the way: Looking at ballet classes is excercise! Studies have shown, that your brain is almost as active while watching the movements (especially when you know the basics steps and how they feel like) as if the body would perform them…
    So why not excericing that way through pregnancy/injury?

    All the best from Germany, Ballettmieze

  5. lalatina says:

    Lovely! :) I really like watching ballet classes, I notice a lot of things and learn a lot from it.

  6. Pingback: Go easy on yourself | Adult Beginner

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