January 18, 2011

First Fondues and Diving Arabesques

Last Friday, and this year´s première pointe class with Madame. We did our first fondues en pointe (well, my first anyway) -  and my initial reaction: gulp.. But surprisingly, I actually managed to roll through demi-pointe all the way up! I guess all those nasty (Madame´s word, not mine) exercises finally paid off. Not that it´s going to get any easier from here! Still, I fully expected to be shamefully out of shape with smoke rising from my burning toes.

Our barre was grueling work nonetheless. We did another first: relevés on a single foot, with passé retiré, then plie and up again. Of course lots of echappés as usual and sous-sous in 5th, with Madame watching every move under the microscope. I learned that to rise into 5th (without jumping), you have to do a tiny little "lick" with the toes of your back foot. It made me think of a cat´s paw, which kind of works since Madame often tells us to move like cats! (Not like the musical.) We also did a new enchainement in the center. Pictured right: the divine, not diving, Paloma Herrera. Photograhper: unknown.

Moving in the diagonal:
Glissade - piqué arabesque - plie - pas de bourré - repeat - and repeat - and, well you get the idea.. 

By the way, our class room is really long. As in too long for chaînés déboulés, piqué pirouettes, anything that requires some serious head-spotting! But that´s a different story. The thing is, you have this exercise which is fun to do but not that challenging in soft shoes. I don´t mean the arabesque - which can be improved upon forever, but rather the steps in between. On pointe however, oh boy.. The moves are all there in my muscle memory, except for those blocks underneath my toes getting in the way! Coming down into plié from a high arabesque - I almost dived head first into the floor, not just once but thrice! It´s a real challenge,  making those feet feel like they belong on pointe. 

I wanted to post this video here, because we have been dancing a lot to the music of Romeo and Juliet. Madame always tells us to respect Prokofiev´s beautiful score, and we try our best. Especially knowing that she herself has danced the role of Juliet not so long ago! The dancer in this clip is of course not Madame (though I wish we had her on film), but Dorothee Gilbert of Paris Opera Ballet. One of my favorite dancers..


  1. Pointe....*sigh* burning toes would so be worth it. I like your cat-paw-flicking analogy, and the idea of moving like a cat. Tonight was only my second class, and I was already moving a bit less like an ox and a bit more like a lady. I'm going to keep "move like a cat" in my mind.

  2. Kim, you have the cutest cat to copy moves from! :)

    Second class.. I think we were still sitting on the floor and flexing/pointing feet. There might have been some port de bras in the center, and possibly the concept of first and seconde positions. So loong ago..

    Love that you´re feeling like a lady. It´s also what Madame keeps telling us: you always have to "present" yourself, be (and feel) beautiful..

  3. I miss pointe so bad. My goal is to get good again so I can get back up on the tips of my toes.

  4. Hi J! Thanks for stopping by :)

    I read that you returned to ballet after a 8-10 year long hiatus? Way to dance! My longest break from ballet lasted three years, but eventually I just had to go back. Once a dancer, always a dancer! ;) In the beginning it was hard, oh boy, but you can and will improve! Unlike you, I never did pointe before my hiatus. Now I can´t imagine not doing it :D

    You should be able to get back on the tips of your toes in no time! :)

  5. hahaha! In the beginning when I saw your title I thought of the swiss cheese meal:"fondue" and did not understand where you had eaten a fondue and what was the link with the ballet :-P

  6. mmmm... Swiss cheese fondue :)

    Eliane, you can invite me over any time! I´m still hungry from yesterday :D

  7. Johanna, I love your blog! I'm so happy your blogging about dance :)

    Congratulations on your fondues en pointe :)

  8. Thanks Aileen, that is so sweet of you to say :)

    How are you doing with your ballet classes? Or did you need to take a break after Nutcracker? I haven´t forgotten those gorgeous pictures, wish I could have seen you live on stage!

  9. It's funny that it feels like a break going down to five classes a week - dancing for 7 1/2 hours a week. The rehearsals were intense and I'm happy to just focus on class now and go deeper into technique. :)

    Hope your love the rehearsals for your spring recital :)


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, ...