April 7, 2012

High (On Ballet)

I always leave ballet class happier than I came in. No, that is not entirely correct. Most of the time I'm as happy going in as I am coming out, because I know what to expect. There is the familiar sequence of barre and center, of course, and that of adagio and allegro. I know that my teacher is going to put us through our paces and that there are going to be lots of corrections. Real work and sweat. Praise too. Also moments of self-doubt and of frustration. But class is more than the sum of its parts. Any which way I do my reckoning, it all adds up. Ballet does me good.

A good ballet class is already a fine thing to have and behold, but sometimes it gets even better than that. Call it pay-back for doing time on the learning-plateau, or call it a really good day. Or call it like I do: the bestest high! I had such an awesome class last Tuesday, and I'm still riding it. Actually, it was class times three: my Super-Tuesday-Triple-Bill with Marie-Pierre. Not the official name in the class schedule, but it might as well be! First off, the basic level with mostly barre-facing exercises. You might think that after 20 years of ballet there is not much to gain from a beginner's class, but then you would be wrong.

For one thing, there is always room for improvement. For another, a basic class lets you work on your basics, clean up and maintain what technique you already have. When you have four counts for one ronde de jambe instead of two, there is that much more time to be aware of your turnout and your heel alignment. Let me explain how it worked out for me.. Since November 2010, Marie-Pierre has been persistently coaching and coaxing me to realise my full potential en dehors, along with improving the arch and instep of my pointed foot. And you know what? The results are finally showing off! By no means has it been an over-the-night-success; I had to do both the mental and the muscle work. But this past Tuesday, when my leg was in degagé derrière, my teacher told me once again to turn out more - and I did. Then she took hold of my foot (again) and showed how much more I could and should pointe, and how to hold the turnout at the hardest part of the ronde - and I did. The difference was real and visible and it felt totally awesome. Better than any A+ I ever got in school!

That alone would have had me on a ballet-high, but there were still two more classes to learn and to dance. Really, how lucky can you get?


  1. So true-ballet class always makes me feel better. It's nice to walk out of a class and know you improved! :)

    1. It is one of the best things about ballet! Even if you don't always improve visibly, you are still getting a good work-out for the body - and something much more important for mind & soul! :)

  2. So true, I have the same :) Btw, everytime I read one of your posts I feel like moving to Finland and join your classes (too difficult for me anyways, but still!) :p

    1. Well, you know you are welcome here anytime :)

  3. Hi,

    I found your blog and I love it, trying to "catch up" and read all of it. I did ballet for a few years in school but I quit to do other activities but I always regretted it. I am 25 now and started and adult beginner ballet class in January and I love every minute of it! No matter how tired I feel after work, I refuse to skip it. I go three times a week at the moment and I think that I am improving a bit :) We don't do exams, we do it because we all enjoy it. There are a few ladies who are in the classes who are over 40 so I can still keep going for a while! I am hoping that maybe one day I also get good enough to dance on pointe shoes. I know it will take hard work but it helps a lot when you have great teachers who support you and who know what they are doing.

    It's great to see that you keep going with classes and you don't give up because you enjoy it so much, regardless of your age. You are a great example that even as an adult beginner, with hard work you can also get to that level to dance on pointes and still have fun doing ballet. Have fun!

    1. Thank you!

      I know how you feel - I never miss my classes because I love it so much! Only if I'm really sick (which happens rarely), or if I'm traveling someplace where there's no ballet or no time (which happens rarely).

      With three classes per week you're bound to make good progress, just remember that learning is not always linear. Sometimes there are ups and sometimes there are downs. Don't give up when you feel that you hit a plateau. Improvement isn't always visible, but it's still happening!

      Right now I'm far "too young" ;) to even think about quitting ballet. Of course time doesn't stand still.. In ten years or so, I'll be one of the ladies instead of one of the girls. But then again, if you put in the work and do your best, you can always be praised a "good girl" ;)

      I wish you all the best with your classes, enjoy the dance! :)


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, ...