November 13, 2010

Friday Evening - Happy Hour at the Barre

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 French Ballerina. At times I get a little distracted, because of her insanely high extensions and wonderfully expressive port de bras. It's a great class. She is a lovely person and a terrific teacher, giving everyone lots of personal attention and positive feedback. The barre is fast-paced, with 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 silly, and excited because I feel like I could express something with my dancing! And I even managed to pull off a couple of triple pirouettes! The class ends late, with no time for reverance, but there's big applause and I quickly rush to change into my pointe shoes.

I had given up on the idea of doing pointe. Too old, too late, too hard. However, after some 16 years of practicing ballet in soft shoes, I started to feel that not learning pointe would be something I was going to regret. So, when our teacher Gabriella Serra told us that she would start teaching pointe classes this August, beginners included, I jumped at the chance! Not too late after all! Pointe class turned out to be much more challenging and difficult than I anticipated, but fast-forward ten weeks and ten classes, and I'm still excited about every new exercise. Then, just as I'm getting the feel of pointe shoes (and first blisters), Ms Serra goes on maternity leave. Happy news, but I wonder what will happen to our adult beginners pointe class... Enter our new teacher, Marie-Pierre Greve, aka The French Ballerina. 

We are all a bit dumbfounded to have such an elegant principal dancer teach our adult class. Ms. Greve retired from the Danish Royal Ballet just two years ago, at the age of 38, and it shows. One of my friends tells me that she would buy a ticket just to watch her port de bras. I've had many good teachers over the years, but taking class with Ms. Greve does feel a bit like winning the ballet lottery!

There I am, standing at the barre, on pointe, in a really scary wide second position. Ms. Greve is sitting at my feet. She takes hold of my left foot, molding the arch and telling me to point 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 other foot all un-pointed 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 to do, that I have 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. I keep nodding my head, as my power of speech is frequently lost in ballet class. But I know what I want: to learn how to dance on pointe!

Class is more difficult now, with quick echappées and single leg passée retirés in center. I feel my legs no longer belonging to me, and have the hardest time getting up and staying there. But Madame is très sweet, encouraging and correcting everyone. She even takes hold of my hands to help me with a challenging balance, and I try my hardest to get it right. At the end of class, my feet are smokin' hot 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, red cheeks, glowing skin and grinning from one ear to the other. It's been another happy hour at the barre!

Pointe in my kitchen. November 2010. 


  1. Hitsi että joku osaa kirjottaa! :)

  2. Kiitos, Kris!

    Tuli kyllä vähän pitkä jaaritus...Mutta kiva kun jaksoit lukea :)

  3. No niin, vihdoin muistin! ;) vitsit tosiaan, joku osaa kirjottaa..tuntu ihan ku oisin kattonu videota viime perjantain tunnilta! :D
    jatka ehdottomasti kirjottamista :)

  4. My goal is to find a class and teacher like yours. Doing just barre en point is fun and a challenge, but I feel like I'm missing something more. I'm not looking to be all ballerina like, I just want to see what I can do with these shoes.

  5. Patience, young man :)

    It takes a lot of training before you really get to do something. And it´s harder for the men as pointe variations are choreographed on the ballerina. Unless you want to take the route of the Trocs..

    Otherwise contemporary ballet with gender-neutral choreo, or something specifically for the male danseur on pointe.

    My teacher would not mind a guy in pointe shoes. I know for a fact that her principal danseur hubby used to train pointe tech for added strength!


To That Special Ballet Teacher

To that special ballet teacher, who not only teaches you about technique, but helps build your confidence, nurtures your inner artist, ...