After our weekend off it’s back to BBS-Newton for the second and final week of the adult summer dance program.
Modern — Getting into the flow there. Knowing better what to expect with the warmup. We’ve had one combination that we add to a bit each class. It’s been a lot of choreography to take in, but I once we start to get the hang of the steps it is fun. Only problem is there are a lot of changes in direction and I get claustrophobic when people get too close to me. Sometimes when I hang out in the back of a classroom it’s not because I don’t know the steps, it’s because I have more control over my space and have less fear of someone running in the wrong direction towards me like a charging bull.
Technique — We had Carlos Molina, who had taught our rep class on Friday. He’s a soft-spoken, easy-going guy. But he gave a good class with nicely sequenced exercises that led naturally from one to the next. I felt generally strong and clean in this class, which was a good way to start the new week.
Repertory — This class was originally listed as “workshop on pirouettes & grand allegro/repertory” or something like that, but Christopher Anderson was all, “Um, we need to get through the rest of the choreography if we are going to be ready for Friday.” Friday the different levels show each other what we’ve learned during the rep classes. And I think there’s only one other opportunity to practice before then. So no workshop. Which was okay with me. Not that I don’t need all the help on pirouettes I can get, but it’s slightly more fun to learn rep. We finished up the part of the polonaise that we’re learning (it’s not the entire dance) and got it relatively clean. Only bad part had nothing to do with the class itself and everything to do with the fact that I started to get a silent migraine during it. Everything right in front of my eyes went blurry. I get these every so often and have learned to ignore it as best I can… it’s annoying as all hell, but usually there is enough of my field of vision that’s normal that I can continue to function and the symptom generally only lasts about 30 minutes or so before resolving, leaving me with the feeling of someone jabbing an ice pick behind one eye (which I realize sounds unpleasant, but compared to the full-blown migraines I used to get it’s really not that bad). I was mostly preoccupied with worrying that the blurriness wouldn’t go away by the time I needed to drive home. I’ve had them hit while I’m driving and end up having to pull over to wait it out. There’s no way I’m hurtling down the highway in a 3000-lb object without being able to see everything going on around me! It resolved before class was over though. Phew!
Pilates — Pretty much what we’ve been doing with maybe a few elements of added difficulty. The teacher did ask towards the beginning whether the class was leaving us too wiped for the following technique class. I guess that came up during the beginner/elementary session. We all shook our heads. There are some exercises that are definitely difficult, but we don’t do anything to the point of exhaustion, so I’m not sure what their issue was. In fact, I really like having it before technique because I tend to feel much more centered afterwards!
Technique — We had a guest teacher, Andrew Kelley, the Associate Director at Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre. I looked him up and he danced with the Dutch National Ballet and has also worked in Hungary and Germany before coming State-side. He’s another relatively soft-spoken sort of guy, but his quiet nature belied the killer workout he gave us. Lots more stuff in rélevé than we typically do, which I actually like… I find that — as counterintuitive as it may seem — when my calves get fatigued I balance better. I think it just forces you to engage all the other muscles: core, etc. He also focused a lot on port de bras. Good stuff. It’s not dancing until you add some expression, but sometimes you need a little guidance as to what exactly you need to do to give your dancing an elegant expression rather than appearing to be a deranged traveling windmill and he was great at helping us decipher that. I also had a minor revelation about petit allegro. I am terrible about putting my heels down and pliéing in jumps. Yeah, I know, unsafe, whatevs… I prefer to think that I jump Balanchine-style. I get more height that way which I find far more entertaining. It’s nice to feel like my thighs are good for something in ballet! But when he had us do a basic 16-changements exercise he specifically told us to stay low to the ground. He’s the boss, so I did. Happened to be standing towards the front so I could actually see my feet in the mirror. And that low jumping really did give me a nice elastic feeling that appeared far more refined than my typical attempts to launch myself towards the rafters. Realized that maybe I don’t need to go ALL out on the first allegro combination and this low-to-the-ground business might be a better way to work into the bigger allegro steps. Hm. Really enjoyed this class.
Variations — Christopher Hird worked with us on the Swan Lake pas de trois we’d started last week. Which, unfortunately, I’d promptly purged from my mind shortly after learning it. Not that I didn’t enjoy it… Just that I was trying to remember the rep stuff and that crowded out whatever else I had learned. We went over the original bit a few times and then got a chance to dance it across the floor in actual pas de trois arrangement (again, the two lone guys got quite the workout partnering all the ladies, but they were good sports). Then we learned another phrase or two and got a chance to dance it through again in our trios. I got strangely nervous about going across the first time. What’s that about? But second time through I was actually able to enjoy it without over-thinking.
Coming up before all is said and done: Q&A with current BB dancers, PT lecture, and end-of-program display. I’ll be glad to get back to having full nights of sleep, but end of program so soon? 😦