October 16, 2011

Cabrioles, Cake and Cinderella

Sunday evening, and my vacation week is just about to close. Normally I would not suffer from the Monday Blues, but this time I have come down with a very annoying cold. Which means that there will be no dance classes for me! Work, if I can manage it, but afterwards straight home and back on the couch. Did I already mention that I hate missing classes? You guessed? Alright then..

Terence Kohler: Cinderella – A Tragic Tale
Pictured Tiina Myllymäki, Michal Krčmář
  Photo: Sakari Viika.

But let me recap my vacation week just a little, because it was all dance from Monday to Friday! To kick the week off, I took my usual intermediate-advanced class - but followed by a basic level class in pointe shoes. The last time I did this was way back in summer, when there were no actual pointe classes available. But I liked it, and it helped me a lot. Even doing a simple developpé in center becomes a challenge in those boat-is-rocking pointe shoes! Which means you get a better sense of feeling the floor, and your balance will improve. So I asked my teacher if it would be okay to squeeze into basic level, and then tied my ribbons.

It was fun! We did a basic barre, but there were some pointe exercises as well: sous tenus, piqués, and added relevés. I did my fondues facing the barre, because I´m not strong enough to do a clean set with just one hand for support. But I tried to do the entire and very long frappé set entirely in relevé. Cramp alert! Center was good, and no cramps. The pirouette exercise was too quick, but I braved single turns nonethless. Doubles? Not there yet. To finish the class, we did chaînés déboulés: three turns, pause (come down) and repeat. On my right, more newborn giraffe than graceful ballerina. On my better left, hello chaînés! Now I´m seriously considering adding this class to my permanent rep. That would mean a total of three pointe classes each week. I might have to buy my new pair sooner than I had budgeted for..

Tuesday it was time for Madame´s classes again. My favorite time! Right along with my Friday classes, and please never ask me to choose. I love them both; their styles are different but compliment each other in the best way! Anyway, Tuesday class was solid goodness. Our teacher was in an especially good mood and gave us a tough, pro-level class. Just the way I like it! There was a bit of Balanchine, some Denmark (as in Bournonville), lots of French school and plenty of Madame´s own elegant and fluid style - you can´t really ask for more. Having said that, my pirouettes from Monday have gone missing but I´m hoping they haven´t travelled too far. Miss you guys!

Class note: when jumping grand allegro, do not neglect the second leg! Let it go higher!

Pointe class with Madame was brilliant. Hard work, but she calls it "money in the bank". Seriously, you have to do the killer relevés. Nothing comes from nothing. There was this one move where we did a big honking grand plié in second, on pointe, and all the way down. Then took one hand from the barre and used it to push and stretch our arches. In center we did a small variation with piqués and ballonés, which I´m finally getting.. And our usual balances up in fifth, with battements lent in all directions. I don´t know why it feels easier to piqué into balance and stay there, than to degagé from a closed position in relevé - but it does.

Wednesdays I usually recover from Tuesdays, but hey - vacation! As in sleeping late and relaxing. Which is why I decided to take another class with another teacher. Except she was ill, and my own teacher surprise substituting! I hope that other teacher is feeling better already, but at the time I was not complaining! It was a good class and I had a fun stretching-chatting session afterwards with a dance buddy. Get me talking about dance and there´s no end to that conversation!

Thursday we went to see the last dress rehearsal for the Finnish National Ballet´s new production of Cinderella. The choreography by Terence Kohler is not the traditional fairy-tale, but a psychological and dark retelling of a tragedy. It´s a story about loss and loneliness and the need to be loved. Despite its sinister overtones, there is hope and in the end, love heals. We were really impressed by Kohler´s cinematic storytelling, by Auerbach´s equally cinematic score and by the dancers. The choregraphy is a mix of modern dance and dance theatre, but the language of classical ballet is not forgotten. Cinderella´s pointe shoes play a significant role..

After our ballet at noon, we of course had to have some après-ballet cake and coffee. Cheesecake with sea buckthorn berrys and capuccino. Delish. Followed by pointe shoe shopping! My friend bought Bloch Heritages and I bought me some big-toe gel tubes. It really was a good day for ballet. And cake. Yes, you can have your cake and dance too! :)

This is the cake I had. One piece only!

Did I say short recap? Okay then. Friday was another double set of advanced class, followed by pointe class. I was already feeling the upcoming cold, lead in my legs and hardly any lift-off on my jumps. But I do recall something.. Yes! I love doing cabrioles to the side!

Class note: when doing rondes de jambes en terre, remember to stretch the working foot before you pass it through first.


  1. Yum! That cake looks delicious :)

    Hope you feel better soon...better enough to go to ballet, but maybe not to work...LOL! I remember when I was a child and my parents would tell me that if I was too sick to go to school then I was also too sick to go to sports practice or friends' houses, etc. The first time I called in sick to work but dragged myself out in the evening to one of my beloved activities, I had a shining moment of "YEAH! I am an ADULT and I can do WHATEVER I want!" Silly but satisfying. :P

    Rest up and recover quickly :)

  2. Hi Kaija!

    Thanks, feeling better enough to go to work - but sadly not ballet! The adolescent in me would have gone yesterday, but my adult self stopped me. Good thing too, because I would have been blowing my nose between every exercise. I don´t think my teacher would have been impressed..

    But I totally get your "YEAH! I am an ADULT and I can do WHATEVER I want!" I mean, I started ballet as an adult. And these days homework always comes second! I have also hauled my ass to class when I´ve been a lot less than 100%. Hey, we take responsibilty for ourselves!

    And yes, the cake was yummy. I don´t know if you´ve ever eaten those berrys (tyrni), they have loads of c-vitamin. Which outweighs the calorie content of that cake :D

    Thanks for commenting!


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, ...