Tuesday, pointe class with Madame. Dancing on pointe is no picnic in the park, but I look forward to this class every week. I don't care that my toes are all squished before the hour is over. This is real work that we do - and I love it! Yes, even those slow killer relevés. Sometimes Madame "apologizes" for the muscle burn that she is imposing on us, but I'm happy to work my butt off, literally, and to keep that popo under me and to pointe and stretch and turn-out. I have taken pointe technique with Marie-Pierre (we don't actually call her Madame) since November 2010, and I still can't believe my luck. We get so much positive feedback, expert guidance and hands-on corrections. Seriously, it's master class every week!
|My pointe shoes, before and after.|
Of course, I'm a long way from being advanced on pointe. I'm just working my way around pirouettes (singles so far) and there is heaps of basic-level technique yet to be learned! But we have advanced to rises on one leg (in center), to fondues, to ballotés in center, to balances, to adding épaulement and fancier port de bras, to jumps on pointe, to steps I don't know what to call, and to choreography. There are even Balanchinean poses!
And turns in diagonale. We did this exercise: Start from fifth, croisé. Step up to relevé wide fourth, effacé. Arms correspond to first arabesque. Close back leg to fifth - turn - degagé front leg - step into big fourth again - repeat. You stay up on pointe the whole time. It's almost like chaînés déboulés, except for the degagé leg, the wide fourth position and the back leg closing in fifth before turning. We have done this exercise before, could have been in spring, don't really remember. I have practiced them a couple of times since, on my own, and I was feeling pretty confident.
Madame demonstrated the turns in slow tempo, which as we all know, is even more difficult. You have to be in control of your balances and you can't cheat. Not that I would ever cheat! Anyway, it was single file and I was first: relevé into fourth, step into fifth, tried to turn but stumbled down. Again and again. Yikes. I was told to keep my weight forward (always good advice) and some other things that were lost in the flailing about. But I did not give up. Never give up!
As the rest of the class turned along the diagonale, I practised on the side and tried to work out the dynamic and rhythm of the turns. Before we embarked to the left, Madame gave some general corrections, and I tried once more - but with more speed. And you know what? I figured out the flow! It worked! Madame must have agreed: "Johanna, that was excellent!" Can you imagine how happy I felt at that moment? Of course, our class is neither pre-professional nor company-class. I know there is "excellent", and then there is excellent. And our teacher is always very generous with her praise. But I think I deserved it just the same!
The best part was when Madame told me I could do the turns at double tempo. No more slowing down, but full speed ahead!