April 25, 2012

From Wilis to Almost-Kitris - It's Showtime!

After last week's near-collapse at the end of pointe class, I'm back full force! I almost got a little worried after that incident, it was the first time I had ran out of steam mid-way through our routine. We had just marked the choreography (very cool Forsythe-style) to refresh our memories, and it was the first full-out dance of the class - but already too much for me. I had to step aside and out of the way. That or stumbling over my own two feet, or even worse, fainting/puking right there and then. Gave my teacher Marie-Pierre a bit of a scare, she thought I had injured myself. But I was just exhausted, and needed nothing more than to rest and sit out the remainder of the class (only 10 minutes left). Which, admittedly, was the second time in five days. Seriously, I do not recommend taking three ballet classes in one day, not when you're still recovering from a cold. I had rested for a full three days, and two more would have been advisable, but I'm kind of stubborn like that. Before you scold me (I know I deserve it), I was fine already the next day. Had a great class on Thursday, an even better two classes on Friday, rehearsal on Saturday and a very awesome triple-set yesterday. Crisis averted. :)

Come to think of it, I seem to get a cold every time we start to rehearse for our spring recitals. It has never stopped me from taking part, but it is really annoying. Luckily we still have a full month before the show, so I can practice and take class without having to hold back. At least my timing doesn't suck. Can you imagine getting sick on the eve of your performance, especially when there's only one show each year? This year there's the added excitement of two dances, the small bit from Giselle I wrote about earlier, and a big group number. The latter is an eight minutes long mini-ballet for a corps of 18 ballerinas and one danseur. The music is from Minkus, and the choreography is from.. wait for it.. Don Quixote!

Of course it is a modified compilation of the original, we are not professional dancers or pre-pro students (though a few of the younger girls have had vocational training and are very good). Our "company" is put together from all levels, basic through advanced and ages nineteen to forty-ish. Most of us are dancing together for the first time. Some have never performed, while others have been on stage since pre-school. Me, I'm hardly a veteran, despite being the oldest of the gang. I have danced in front of a real audience for only six times. Then again, those times took place in the last three years and not in early childhood. Memories and experiences are fresh, the theatre is familiar and I'm in better shape than ever. I still get very nervous, though..

Last Saturday was our first group rehearsal. Our teacher Gabriella gave us The Talk, about how everyone is equally important - even when you're standing in line while someone else gets to dance two eight-counts more than you do. She is right of course. Our ballet starts with eight dancers (I think) lined up in diagonale. They do a set of temps lié arabesque, chassé and soutenu turns four or six times. I'm still fuzzy on the counts.. This first group consists of the basic and advanced beginner levels. After they complete the opening steps and move to form lines left and right, the first of three trios comes in. I'm with the second pas de trois, the intermediate gang.

Don't worry, I'm not going to write down the entire choreography.. But in case you're interested that much, my trio's first diagonale consists of glissade - assemblé ecarté - piqué attitude (efface), times three, change direction, chassé - temps levé arabesque - glissade - pas de chat, finishing down-stage right. Every group has its own entrance. After the final trio enters and takes its place, all of us dance together before changing formations again. And so forth.. I might give you more details in my next rehearsal-post, if you like. Or even if you don't like. ;)

The video below is for inspiration. I chose this particular excerpt because at 5:06 the ballerinas are doing he same jump we are - and this one was totally new for me! It's like a small grand jeté, except you jump without prep and the back leg is in attitude. In our version we are doing six, with quick pas de bourrées in-between and changing directions for every saut. It's quick and tricky and I'm still working on it.

All in all, our dance is really fun and energetic, and I think it will be a big crowd-pleaser. There are Spanish influences (in the style of Don Quixote), hand-clapping and finger-snapping, quick steps and big jumps and we even have our own matador.. What's not to like?


  1. There is a high chance that I'm wrong, but the jump at 0:35 looks to me like a reverse pas de chat (Vaganova syllabus). It looks the same as what this dancer does in the 4 th Paquita variation at about 0:14-0:15

    Anyway, good luck with your spring rehearsal! Sounds like it's going to be an awesome show :)

  2. Thank you, Noora!

    I just realised that the jump isn't quite the same after all, the attitude to the back had me fooled. Our saut has only the back leg in attitude, while the front leg does a small jeté devant - and you come down with both legs at the same time, almost like a sissone fermé. My teacher just called it a version of a grand jeté.

    The jump you described as a reverse pas de chat I know also as a temps de l'ange, or "angel's step". There's a backbend and both legs are in attitude.. The video shows it very well - thanks for doing the research!

    1. Managed to find the right jump! My teacher told in which act to look for it:

  3. So you tried to take your blog's name a little too seriously, eh? Glad you're feeling better now, though!

    1. Joie - how did I not see that? Oh boy.. Yeah, I literally pointed until I dropped. LOL.:D

      Thanks, I'm back to health now (if not any smarter).


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, ...