Friday evening, and nothing feels better than finishing the working week at the barre. First up, 90 minutes of advanced ballet with our new ballet teacher, the Famous French Ballerina. At times I get a little distracted, because of her insanely high extensions and wonderfully expressive port de bras. But it's a great class. She's a lovely person and a terrific teacher, giving everyone lots of corrections. The barre is fast-paced, with plenty of quick degagées, developpées and enveloppées, and lots of balances. In the center we do a beautiful adagio, which has me both terrified and excited. Terrified, because there's a real chance of looking totally pathetic, and excited because I feel like I'm about to go on stage and actually express something with my dancing! And yay, I even managed to pull off a couple of triple pirouettes! The class ends late, with no time for reverance, but there's lots of applause and I quickly rush to change into my pointe shoes.
I had long ago given up on the idea of doing pointe, ever. But, after some 16 years of practicing ballet in soft shoes, I started to feel like maybe I'm missing out on something. Could I really call myself a "ballet dancer" (albeit recreational), if I had never shared the experience of dancing en pointe? Although, way back when I was still a young adult beginner I did have one short-lived experience with pointe. We had, what, maybe 4 or 5 classes (15 minutes at the end of regular class), before the teacher left and pointe was off again. As I didn't want to switch my otherwise fabulous dance-studio, I just left it at that and never looked back. Until..
I began taking classes with G about two years ago. You know the kind of teacher who pushes you out of your comfort zone and challenges you to step up and do better? If you do, I bet you know just how lucky you are. It's rare to find a ballet teacher who takes adult dancers' ambitions seriously, and is both willing and able to go the distance with you. We began doing stuff and steps I had always thought were out of my reach. Like fouette-pirouettes, brisé volées, entrechat-six, higher extensions, more turn-out, more flexibility, better jump, cleaner technique, then recitals.. and finally, pointe. So, when my teacher put pointe on the curriculum this August, and confirmed that she would teach both beginners and more advanced students, I jumped at the chance! Not too late after all! Pointe classes turned out to be much more challenging and difficult than I ever could have anticipated, but fast-forward ten weeks and I'm still just so happy to be here. Then, G leaves to welcome baby number two. Enter our new teacher, the Famous French Ballerina..
|My Left Foot|
What a privilege, I think again, to have such awesome teachers. And what luck to be dancing, still. So there I am, on pointe, in a really scary wide second position, with the French Ballerina at my feet, and I mean that literally. Taking hold of my left foot, she molds, presses and urges me to point and arch my foot more and more, and I do my best to comply. “There, you see, you can do it!”, she exclaims, looking quite delighted at the result, until she sees my sorry right foot all straight and starting to turn in. At that point(e), I feel the need to apologize but instead I merely nod when she tells me that there is plenty of work for me to do, that I need to get stronger and that there would be no pointe for me (sorry, pun intended) if I could not get properly over my box at all times. Again, I nod.. because I'm in it for the long haul! Class is more difficult now, with quick echappées and single leg passée releves in the center. I feel my legs no longer belonging to me, and have the hardest time getting up and staying there. But our teacher is so nice, encouraging and correcting everyone (did I mention that it's a mixed-level class?). She even takes hold of my hands to help me with a tricky balance, and I try my hardest to get it right.
At the end of class, my feet are smokin' and I'm feeling slightly disoriented. It's like I had one drink too many, in a foreign bar where I don't quite understand the language. Then I catch my reflection in the mirror, all red cheeks, glowing skin and grinning from one ear to the other. Yeah, it's been another Happy Hour at the barre..