Friday, 29 April 2016

Back to the Barre #2

Here's the latest update in my adult ballet learning adventure...

March 2016

I'm learning more of the RAD Intermediate centre exercises, and the recurring theme is speed! The centre practice involves tendus, grand battements and pirouettes with quick changes of weight and little time for preparation. My single pirouettes are just about passable, but my doubles currently involve a lot of hopping/falling/faking.

Likewise, the second allegro exercise is all about rapid footwork and changes of direction. I feel like my feet are getting tied up in knots, so I’m practising with a slower alternative music. Particularly trying are the brisés that conclude the exercise. Mentally I know what I’m trying to do, but my body seems incapable of bending over my legs and I frequently find my feet landing one on top of each other rather than side by side in the perfect fifth position I intend. 

On the plus side, I have the opportunity to practise in front of a mirror for the first time while staying in a hotel. I'm pleased with how things are looking and am able to give myself a few minor corrections, such as ensuring my arabesque is right behind me. 

I also teach myself the third (grand) allegro, which is a lovely dancey exercise full of hops in lots of different positions. It's tiring in a wonderful way (I feel like I've really worked hard by the end of the exercise) and finishes with two grand jetés and a free jump. I choose a pas de chat and chassé taking one arm to fifth and one to my hip to give a satisfying Don Quixote feel (and match the Don Q music!). 

April 2016

I'm focusing on adage and pointe work. The RAD Intermediate adage exercise is extremely challenging with long-held leg lifts and tricky timing, but it has some lovely moments and I can feel my strength building each time I perform it. 

I've now learnt all the syllabus pointe work and my favourite exercise is the posé and coupé fouetté raccourci, though I don't really have enough space to travel it along my kitchen worktop! I particularly enjoy its rapid pas de bourées piqués. 

The centre pointe work is pretty exhausting, with four repetitions of each exercise (twice on each side) and I struggle to land my relevés through the foot each time. I mention this to a friend who works in dance heath and she suggests I add rises onto demi-pointe into the leg presses I already do at the gym. 

I go to a free ballet class and get some advice on those pesky pirouettes. Apparently I'm holding my arms too high in first position which is forcing my weight back and knocking me off balance. Next month, I'm signing up for syllabus classes.