August 24, 2011


Home alone and sniffling my time away - yes, flu season has officially begun. Being sick is boring and not nice, but being a sick dancer equals being one unhappy camper! Yesterday I still gave it all I got, and did 90 minutes of advanced ballet class and 60 minutes of pointe. I knew that Flu was hanging out around the corner, but I told It to wait until Wednesday. See, there is no ballet today and none tomorrow (no class that I would hate to miss anyway). It´s really amazing how much ballet can motivate you! Sadly, it can delay but not chase viruses away. So, rest it is. I would very much like to be in acceptable shape by Friday, and being generally of sturdy disposition, that might just be possible. With a little help of some nasal spray - because no one likes to turn chaînés déboulés with a runny nose!

In the meantime, I´m drinking loads of hot honey-water and emptying my trusted vaporub jar. Hmm.. there should be some Tiger Balm somewhere too.. Luckily, this Flu around I´m spared the light-sensitive eyes and can at least while my day away in front of of my dear little macbook. Thank you twitter, facebook and youtube! And thanks to a generous dancer friend, I also have the entire Bournonville School borrowed, that is a 2-disc DVD-set of all the classic lessons! I just finished watching the "Monday Lessons" and was pleasantly suprised to find the beginning port de bras of our Friday´s adagio in lesson nr 2! The pirouettes from grand plié fifth, and the turning positions with foot in coud-de-pieds also rang a bell, as did some steps sequences. I mean, I knew our teacher was incorporating some Bournonville into our classes, but only when she had told us. I had no idea that so many moves are straight out of Denmark. :)

Wish I could share at least one lesson here, but even if copyright were a non-issue, I don´t have the tech skills to do that. Really, how do people clip those videos on youtube? Well, it does not matter as I found this very lovely video of Bournonville´s Flower Festival in Genzano, danced by The Royal Danish Ballet itself. I happen to be quite partial to RDB - my own teacher G´s first teacher was a soloist there, and my other teacher M-P was a principal dancer at RDB until 2008. The soloist who dances in the clip below, Gudrun Bojesen, is also featured in the School DVD, so there you go. What I find so inspiring about Bournoville is the apparent effortlessness - especially since it is the hardest thing of all! Minden does list Bournonville´s Choreographic Creed in her Ballet Companion, and I find this quote particularily convincing:

"Dance, with the help of music, can raise itself to poetry but it can also sink to buffoonery through an excess of gymnastics. The so-called difficult has numerous adepts, while the apparently easy is only achieved by a chosen few." 

When I get tired of being online, or of watching videos and daytime-TV - and yes, that can happen, there are books to read. You know, actual books made out of paper and ink. Not kindles. That very nice dancer friend of mine, the same who borrowed me her Bournonville, just happens to have an amazing dance-book library! Right now I´m reading Gaynor Minden´s Ballet Companion (Book Depository), and Eric Franklin´s Conditioning for Dance. I´ve also got my own Inside Ballet Technique by Valerie Grieg, which I definetely recommend! Now, I gotta share some of Minden´s wisdom with you.. Especially as I´m working on a Balletiquette co-post with fellow blogger Bead109. Here goes:

"Always finish every combination. Even if you flub it completely, the discipline of ballet requires that you finish it, and finish it with as much poise as you can." - So very true! And never mind that it is required, because it actually makes you a better dancer. Your technique wil improve heaps if you never give up!

"Know where to stand." When you go to a new school/class, look out for fixed barre spots. "Dancers are as territorial as lions." - Hahahhaa, guilty! :D Seriously, it makes sense to rotate barre spots and center placements. But sometimes set barre places make for speedy beginnings. And for some reason it´s just comforting & familiar to have "your own place". For instance, in Madame´s class, spots just fixed themselves as the same crowd kept coming back. I will not give up mine, so back off. Thank you, darling. ;)

"Stay after class and practice any step that´s given  your trouble." - This does not relate to etiquette, but it´s good advice nonetheless. Of course this option is not a given, as often there are other classes after your own. Or you really have to rush to the bus/home/work/wherever. Or the studio is closing. But when there is opprtunity, use it! As for myself, I  have never been able to rush out of class. Even when new people are streaming in, I quickly try out some moves (then get out of the way, just as quick). When our class has been the last, I often practice until I´m kicked out. Sometimes I´m lucky and get extra help and coaching from my teacher.

Dang, I´m running out of kleenex. Glad though I got some writing done, despite my scratchy throat and runny nose. Now, excuse me if I sink back into my couch and watch Tuesday´s lessons. Nothing like the prospect of ballet class to fight the flu!


  1. That is some determination!! If I have a cold, I can barely keep my eyes pen, let alone write a lovely post :D

    Feel better soon! I am sending you virtual chicken soup!

  2. Hope you feel better soon!

    So true about staying after class. Granted, I am guilty of having bolted right after class to get changed and catch a train, but especially if class is fast-paced or challenging, it's nice to have those extra few minutes to practice and stretch, or ask questions.

  3. Thank you Nina and Jeff! :)

    I´ve been sleeping all afternoon, really tired but great to have my support group online :)

    Jeff: It´s the best time to practice - you´re still warm and there is space! No way you can jeté across your living room. Or if you can, I would be seriously jealous! ;)

  4. "Always finish every combination. Even if you flub it completely, the discipline of ballet requires that you finish it, and finish it with as much poise as you can."

    Thisthisthis! One of my teachers is always telling us to 'finish with a smile, nobody will ever know you went wrong' or 'even if you do it wrong, do it with conviction'. It kind of works if you can shut down the part of you going 'oh nooooo, can't, nooooo, oh bother!'.

    And get better soon!

  5. Oh drat, I only now saw this post! I had no idea that you were sick (I've been away from FB, Twitter and blogistan due to work). :/ I hope you feel better already, and are slowly getting back to non-flu world. And I'm glad if my entertainment section have been of help, just say when you are finished and you get another round of material. B-)

  6. Hi penguinshuffle!

    Basically you gotta dance as if your live & rent depends on it ;)

    For real, don´t give up mid-dance. If you mess some part up, just pick up and continue. No faces, but smiling definitely allowed. Begin and finish with style, no matter what! And silence those nay-sayers in your head.

    Thanks for stopping by :)

  7. Hi JV!

    Thanks :) But I´m already back on my feet - this was the quickest flu ever, I was in class already yesterday! Just a bit tired and red-lobster-faced afterwards :) I really was expecting worse.

    The B-ville DVD is wonderful, but needs plenty more hours of watching. I would so love my own! Have recognized lots of steps & some enchainements. New G incorprated B-ville, but not how much. She´s actually quite an expert!

    The GM book is also very good.

  8. Take your time, I won't need it back soon. :) And I'm always a lobster after class (or any exercise) so my usual state...

  9. I love reading your post! I just started as an adult how many years do you think it will take me to just follow an advanced ballet class? I dont even think about going on point, if I can just follow an intermediate advanced class I'd be more than happy! All the best to you! Ana

  10. Hi Ana!

    That is one difficult question to answer. It is very individual with adults, depending not only on your motivation and perseverance, but also on your physical abilities, potential and exercise background (and age too).

    A really good teacher is also very important! Not all teachers demand & push adults in the same way as they would younger (and possibly vocational) students. And still take into account that adult bodies are different..

    If you can take 3 classes per week, at a good school with a progressive curriculum and excellent teachers, you might advance in 3-5 years to an intermediate level. At least 6-8 years of consistent study to be secure in an advanced class. Although you might take one earlier to challenge yourself.

    But again, it depends on the school and teacher. Levels vary from one to another. One school´s advanced might be another school´s intermediate. Morning 10 am classes are usually for the pros, and require some sort of formal & "completed" dance study..

    Just try to be consistent and always bring your best to class. Listen and apply all corrections, not just the ones given to you. Most of all, enjoy the process. You´re never done learning in ballet!

    As for myself, I started when I was 21-22 old. In my third year I danced already as often as 6 times a week and 2 x 90 min classes per day. I was allowed to attend advanced class at about the same time - but had a lot of catching up to do! And I´m still learning :)

    Now I don´t dance that much anymore, but three classes a week are the minimum for me.

    Ana - I wish you many happy classes! :)


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, ...