August 13, 2011

Back to School!

It´s that time of the year again.. The Finnish summer drawing to its close, days getting shorter, mornings colder, sun-sets more spectacular. The Rowan trees lining my street are heavy with orange berries, and that August moon looms large above the sky. Fall beckons. It is time for harvests as much as it is for new beginnings. Schools all over Finland start next Monday. Our dance studio introduces its fall/winter semester. How much fun is it to go back to school and actually look forward to it?

My kind of class-room. Dance-center Footlight.

Of course I never left (dance school that is). Those of you who read my summer posts know that I´ve been on a Summer Dancathon from beginning of July until now. I got back into the habit of daily ballet class (excluding weekends), which is awesome. So, if there have been no breaks for me, why am joining the back-to-school chorus? For one, the dance schedule is all new. But more importantly, my favorite regular teachers are back. It´s been seven weeks since I had class with G, and over 3 months since M-P´s last ballet class. I absolutely love their teaching, so you can imagine how much I´m looking forward to a new semester!

Do you remember what it was like going back to school (not dance-) after those long summers? The excitement of seeing your friends again, who appeared at once familiar yet different? You all had grown, experienced new things, and changed in the process.. I feel a bit like that right now. Except for that growth spurt which I´m still waiting for. Seriously, something is different. You know how five classes a week can do wonders for the body and technique? Well, it´s true. Although, my pirouttes have made only rare appearances. For that I still blame my teacher G, who told Summer Sub that I had advanced to triple turns the past year. I guess she was a little proud, but my Pirouette Fairy took it as a cue to take off on holiday, laughing all the way to the beach, mojito in hand.. Silvia, our Summer Sub, never saw a single triple. Singles, yes, and shoddy doubles, but no triple pirouettes. Sorry, signora G!

That´s our fabulous teacher M-P!

Pirouettes aside, I think I learned a lot this summer. I have grown more confident in my use of épaulemant, and in the phrasing of movement to music. In class, there has been more focus on performing, on dancing before an (imaginary) audience, and on interpreting the mood of the music, not just counting the beats. I have learned to relax more. We tend to get caught up in technique, often tensing up instead of dancing with the optimum amount of effort. Dancing 100% all the time is actually counter-productive! I have also learned to be more conscious of my transitions - to be fluid in movement, not superfluous.

My "own barre-spot" is in the corner, next to the speaker.

I had a great time learning & dancing with our Summer Sub, and I´m really going to miss her teaching. But I´m also eager to apply my new and improved skill to our regular classes! I wonder if my "own" teachers will notice anything.. So, beginning next week I have three advanced and two pointe classes lined up. One of those pointe classes is actually marked as basic (last year was beginner), but with our teacher M-P, basic is more closer to intermediate. I just hope she goes easy on us for the first classes! I´m still gathering courage to even try out those pirouettes en dedans! Rising onto one foot while turning at the same time - scary! But piqué pirouettes - so much fun! It´s a good thing that there is balance between the two. I seem to remember it was a bit like that in school too, fun and sometime scary.

Now, let´s see.. My hair is freshly cut, favorite leo washed, new pointe shoes broken in, still need to sew elastics on flats, read that "Inside Ballet Technique" book and call it an early night come Sunday. I am ready - back to school it is!

Putting theory into practice.


  1. This is the first time in YEARS that I've taken a summer vacation! It's true that I got more of a feeling of "going back to school" because of it :)

    Enjoy your weekend before going "back to school" hahaha, sounds like you have a terrific week lined up! I'm looking forward to hearing all about it!


  2. The start of something new is always a bit exciting, isn't it? Enjoy!

  3. @bead109 - Are you serious? First vacation in years? Well, you sure made the most of it! :)

    The other thing about "getting back to school" is seeing all your dance buddies again!

    Thanks, L - I let you know how it turned out :)

  4. @Jeff - Thank you, I will definitely enjoy. And I plan to get my pirouettes back in line! :)

  5. I'm 'just' going back to work tomorrow, so end of my summer holiday. But soon I'll have the real "back to school"-feeling and I'm already looking forward to it: both real school and ballet. :)

  6. @JV - Right, you´re back at uni! Awesome! I might do that too, one day :)

    Hope to see you sometime in ballet class. Don´t worry too much about not being as good as before (in the beginning). Just getting started is a huge improvement to not dancing at all! Soon enough you´ll pick up where you left off :)

  7. I think I'm officially in love with your studio :) I've been dancing all summer (and a lot of my classes are 'drop in' anyway) so I'm jealous of your 'back to school' feeling!

  8. Hi Penguin!

    hey, if you´re ever in Helsinki - welcome! :)
    Our school is open-class, and you can drop in anytime. But our teachers (at least mine)also teach according to a progressive plan, which advances over the "school year".

    Yesterday "back to school" was more like "back to work" - our teacher was taking no prisoners! Now it really feels like I was on vacation :))

    Thanks for stopping by!

  9. Glad to hear you've done the Most Important Thing Of All For Starting The New School Year: picked out your outfit.

  10. But of course. We all know how an outfit can make or break a career. Personally speaking, I turn better in purple leotards.

  11. What a lovely studio. Ours was once a corner grocery store but has been a ballet studio since about the 1960s.

    The prettiest one I can think of in the city is at a museum, they have these stunning windows at just a little higher than street level.

    A year or so ago I made the leap (so to speak) to the center freestanding barres to work on a misbehaving foot. It's forced me to get better at pattern memory because there is very often no-one to follow. :)


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, ...