Or, well… they’re getting it.
Gosh, it just makes me so proud when I look at my students and see real, true progress. And I swear I’m not being delusional when I say that they improve by leaps and bounds every single week. Sometimes it takes weeks of me harping on a point, but all of a sudden *bing* the lights go on.
Last week it was demi-pliés during centre barre. Beautiful posture. No more see-saw backs. Hallelujah! This week it was foot position à la seconde. For the longest time any battements tendus and the like were going off at a diagonal behind them instead of following the working toes when going to the side. This week in unison they all kept their legs going where they should go. Did they all drink the city water before class and if so was there something magical in it? Because they made it look like they had been doing it perfectly their whole lives!
Then there was the horror otherwise known as sur le cou-de-pied. Sickle sickle, everywhere! I tried demonstrating sickling and then demonstrating proper sur le cou-de-pied. I tried molding feet into nicely wrapped positions. I repeated mantras about toes pointing away from the leg. Finally last night after one side of rather unsightly petits battements I said, “Your toes are always behind your standing ankle, it’s just the heel that switches from front to back.” Et voila, beautifully wrapped sur le cou-de-pieds throughout the second side. We’ll see if that little tidbit gets retained for next week.
It really is nice to see their technique grow from week to week. So now to decide what to focus on next. My goals for the next few weeks are: 1) start working on combinations at the barre (including putting endings on the exercises, i.e. port de bras or simple poses at the end of an exercise), 2) teach more positions of the body (écarté and arabesque positions), and 3) start working on jumps. Do I do a little of each every week? Or start with one the first week and add another one the second week and the third the third week?
Or should I just repeat this week’s lesson one more time to reinforce what we’ve learned so far? I’m trying to find the balance between building confidence in the steps we’ve been doing and challenging them to stretch themselves. I know they want to get each step down perfectly, but, as any dancer can tell you, the pursuit of perfection is a lifelong journey. I don’t want them to get lost in the weeds and lose sight of the fact that ballet is meant to be a performance art.
I must say, selfishly, that I love the challenge of teaching this class. I spend more time and effort preparing for that one hour (actually they agreed to start 15 minutes early so we can do 75 minute classes!) of my week than any other, but it’s probably also the most rewarding thing I do all week.