Monday, January 16, 2012

Baby's first ballet class

So how did my first ballet class go?

Overall, from a scale of nicht sehr gut to sehr gut I would say it was medium gut!*

I was really nervous when I first got to the studio, and despite its high ceilings, large windows and charming New York decrepitude I was getting the urge to bolt. Everyone was chatting with each other, presumably about ballet, saying things like "I'm so sore from my auditions today!" and doing fancy warm-ups. And, as I mentioned previously, there was a girl in pointe shoes. Flipping heck! Keep in mind this was listed as a fundamentals class, so I was hoping for more newbies like me.

As my craving for a Xanax mounted, I reminded myself that I am in fact one of "those" girls in yoga. I chat and joke with the teachers and regulars before and after class (shout out to Hosh Yoga). I usually do a bound lotus pose before class starts, which is probably extremely obnoxious and intimidating to the beginner's eye, but I find it opens my hips and shoulders nicely. So I decided that if I, Ms. Obnoxious Did You READ The New York Times Article This Weekend**, never judge beginners because they are looking around uncertainly, these ballet people probably weren't judging me. It also nice that the teacher took some time before class to ask me about my ballet experience (none) and to tell me that it'd probably be confusing at first but not to worry too much about it.

And it WAS confusing. We started by doing some things lying down with our backs on the floor which mimiced the moves that we would be doing at the barre. For example, we would come to fifth on our backs with our legs up in the air. I couldn't really see because of the whole lying on the floor thing and I wound up flailing a bit. Luckily the teacher adjusted me a ton here so I wasn't completely lost. Then we did barre work like pliés, tendu, rond de jambe, and relevé balances. This part was way easier for me because I could basically just follow what the way more experienced people next to me were doing. I also found if I went along with the music, the movements felt really natural.

And then...disaster! We went to centre where the teacher would demonstrate the choreography and then you had to do it. As mentioned in my last post, I have a pretty poor sense of kinesthesia and proprioception. It sucks in real life when you walk into door frames all the freaking time, but it REALLY sucks when you're in a ballet class and bump into people jumping and turning across a floor. And you can't copy anybody because they are all going so fast! I watched from the side for a bit because I felt terrible about being all turned around--left and right are confusing--and I was falling into people constantly. Then I decided to just go for it. And that, my friends, turned out to be super fun. The teacher kept saying "Don't think about it; just do it" and it's true!

At the end, there was the reverence, where you all curtsy to each other and applaud. I love that! It's always nice to have a definitive ending ritual to acknowledge the work that everyone has done. In yoga, I love oming in unison and bowing to yourself and then to everyone who shared your practice at the end of class. Over the top curtsies with flourishes are also nice.

After class, the teacher told me that I did beautifully. What!? Another student, who told me it was his second class, added that he thought I did so well that he didn't realize it was my first class until we moved to the centre and got all confused. And the girl who was next to me at the barre gave me a high five! I think the takeaway here isn't that I'm naturally amazing and gifted at ballet, but that adult ballet class people are NICE.

I was going to talk a little bit about how I think yoga and ballet work together in this post but it's long as it is, so it will have to come later. (Spoiler alert, the answer is: in some ways sehr gut and in other ways nicht sehr gut).

*I like speaking German, even if I can only remember how to count and say not so good and very good (see above).

**THE ARTICLE would be How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body. It is super controversial and everyone is talking about it...if the only people you socialize with are yoga people. Read about how the yoga community is reacting here.

1 comment:

  1. I did not read that article. Not so much of a surprise, really. In my book, today's top recommended article from the Times is the queen's granddaughter's husband danced with an erotic dancer while dwarves were present. I love it because the Times does it under the pretense of covering the "media coverage," but really it gives them a chance to gossip themselves. Which, hey, who doesn't love gossip?

    Anyways, love, I'm really glad to hear about your first dance lesson. It sounds like you did fantastic.

    Thoughts soon on the differences between how yoga teaches you to move your body vs. ballet?