Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Road to Pointe

WARNING: lots and lots of ballet-talk ahead!! :P

Not me... but someday soon! :)

So this quarter, since I'm not taking any classes, I am auditing an intermediate ballet class on Mondays and Wednesdays, and taking one through our rec-center on Tuesdays and Thursdays (yup, that means 2 hours of class a day, 4 days a week!).... It's fun, but I feel like as soon as I have recovered over the weekend, I start back up again on Monday.. :)

All in all, I've been really loving ballet-- in fact, it's sort of my childhood dream come true.  Everything about it is just so... awesome.  And also, really, really, freakishly hard.  Which only makes it more awesome.

However, I tend to get bored when nothing big changes, and since this is my second time in intermediate (usually you have to take each level 2-3 times in order to get to the next one) nothing much is new.  Which means that I space out, I get frustrated with myself, I don't enjoy it as much, and I get competitive.  

..Not to mention, about 6 girls from last quarter's class are starting en pointe this quarter.  And I'm not one of them.

To be honest, I'm probably not quite ready for pointe work yet, but neither are some of them.  A few of them are just at the right level to start, and a couple of them were en pointe when they were younger, but are re-starting now that they're back to dance, but there are at least 2 who I know for a fact should NOT be en pointe.  And I, being the competitive, easily bored person that I am, am bugged to nooo end by this. Ugh.  It bothers me that it bothers me, but watching a couple of these girls wobble around en sousous ON HALF POINTE, and then attempt to go en pointe (and wobble some more, grab the barre, almost break their ankles, and look superawkward while doing it) just makes me mad.  Being a soccer player and general athlete, I know that I could physically go en pointe, and my teachers have told me such. But no no nooooo, I'M waiting until I'm perfectly ready, so that I don't get hurt, and ultimately will be a better dancer for it in the long run. Ugh.  Being smart sucks.

So today at my other dance class (the rec class), which doesn't have anybody en pointe in it, I went up to my teacher and asked her about going en pointe and what I need to do to get there.  She told me that I would probably be fine, but she wants to wait until I improve a couple of things.

First of all, I tend to get lazy/bored/space out, which means that I lose my posture.  This means that I sink into my hips and don't pull up out of my feet (which can either be super dangerous en pointe, or instantly fixed by going en pointe). I need to constantly be focusing and thinking about my body position and weight the entire time I am dancing in class, pulling in my stomach, tightening my abs, and LIFTING OUT of my standing leg.  Fun.

Secondly, since I have hyper-extended knees, I tend to get away with being lazy about my extension; I don't follow all the way through on my tondus and arabesque, and I'm not using my full strength and support en eleve.  Basically what this means is that, since it looks like my legs are straight even when they are slightly bent, I am not entirely flexing my muscles to build strength and support for my feet... another thing which could be bad en pointe.

Lastly, I need to work on my arms.  I tend to focus so hard on my feet (or apparently, lose focus altogether), that my arms start to drift up and back.  If your arms go behind you, your center of balance starts to fall backwards-- bad bad bad!!  I need to be tilting slightly more forward and thinking about keeping my arms in front of me at all times so that my weight is centered and I can more easily go en pointe-- it is a lot easier to rise up en pointe if your body is pulling you up and over that way in the first place, and not back where you just fall onto your ass.  Not to mention, arms forward generally looks a lot better and less farmer-like than weird chicken-y arms (wow, just called myself a farmer and a chicken in the same sentence. yay me.)

So that sounds like a lot to work on, but luckily it's not actually as much as it seems like.  It is all stuff that I understand, and know how to do and why I need to do it.  Actually, the main problem is just my focus.  I sink into myself and forget that ballet should be work, and stop remembering simple beginner things like RISE UP! ARMS FORWARD!! EXTEND YOUR LEGS ALL THE WAY! They are really not difficult concepts, and my strength and understanding is there, it's just a matter of working hard and thinking about every single move I make every single minute of all 8 hours I'm dancing per week.

Honestly, I think that if I were to go en pointe, it would probably give me that extra inspiration/motivation/focus to make me improve on a lot of the silly little things I forget about, but I don't want to risk getting hurt or anything, so I might as well be as perfect as I can be before taking the next step.



  1. Yay, I love reading about your ballet exploits. :) If you keep going at this rate, just imagine where you'll be in a few years!

    Have you seen this documentary? (it's on Netflix Instantwatch)

  2. But of course! It's a great movie.. wish there were more like it! :)


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