Monthly Archives: July 2009

Progress update

I’ve never danced so much in my life. I’m taking a 3-hour intermediate-advanced class Monday through Thursday, which means I’m in class 12 hours a week; on top of that, I’m trying finish off a few class tickets at my old studio before they expire. So this week, this meant that I was in class for a grand total of 16.5 hours. Basically, my life is just my academic work, and dancing. I know this is nowhere near what professional dancers do, but it’s been a definite challenge for me, since I usually average around 4 or 5 hours of class a week.

I get up in the morning, go to ballet class, come home, make lunch, eat, work on my project, then it’s back to class in the afternoon. Come home again, eat dinner, then reading and writing till bedtime.

The results are good, for the most part: a better sense of my center, and I am picking up combinations faster than I ever have. Even unfamiliar steps (sissone doublé, anyone?) are easier to master. I’ve also almost ripped off a toenail, and have been sore in the ol’ gluteus maximus, hamstrings, calves, quads since Tuesday. It was a relief to hear an older dancer tell me that she thought I had danced as a child–a great compliment to someone who started as an adult.

Oddly, I’ve gained a pound this week, despite the dancing, even though I’ve kept my diet steady. It’s unclear to me how this happened.

Going well: small jumps and beats. A fun combination: entrechat trois, entrechat trois, entrechat cinq, pas de bourree, assemble battu, royale. Grand jete entrelace & fouettes. Saut de basque. Flexibility is increasing. About two inches from getting fully into front and back splits.

Needs work: turnout, as always. Pique en dehors (lame duck turns). Sissone double with developpe. Pivote. Spotting with turns in a circle. Fast turning combinations, like: pique turn, pique turn, saut de basque, soutenu turn. I need to work on going faster without losing the spot.

And to remind myself that what I do is not bad at all, a day in the life of the lovely (Asian!) Royal Ballet dancer, Yuhui Choi (linked to from the balletbag’s twitter account):

Time for class!

Adult ballet: recommended reading

When I began ballet, I found it useful and encouraging to know something about what I was getting into.

A few books and sites I found useful:

1. ABT ballet dictionary: a wonderful online dictionary of ballet terms and steps. The first and most daunting thing about ballet is probably the language; it’s in French, and most teachers will use the French terms as opposed to describing the motion (i.e. 4 pliés instead of “bend your knees four times”). Click on a term or step in this dictionary and there are images and videos to make the term clear.

2. Ballet talk for adult ballet students: a great community here for all different levels of ballet students. I used to read this board frequently (never did any posts, though). If you have a burning question about what’s going on in class, this is a great place to ask it. There is also some excellent information in the archives; and a great sticky on adult summer intensives, if you’re so inclined!

3. Joffrey Ballet’s Ballet Fit: a guide geared specifically towards adult ballet students. Cheap, straightforward, with lots of good general advice. There are also some exercises and descriptions of the overal arc of a ballet class, which is useful. Not a substitute for a real class, of course! There is a section on pointe in the back for the especially ambitious. Of all the books I read when starting out, this one was the best in terms of practical application.

4. The Ballet Companion: not specifically created for adult students, but a beautifully illustrated guide with descriptions of positions and ballet history. Also discusses non-ballet dance, such as jazz and modern. An elegant book.

5. Classical Ballet Technique (Recommended by puddle): I don’t own this book, but it looks to be an excellent resource for positions and steps. Over 2600 photographs, featuring dancers from ABT and the Joffrey.

Have more? Put them in the comments and I’ll add them!