Had my first class of 2012 tonight! I swear you can’t beat that post-ballet feeling: after a really productive day at the University it was the perfect end to the day. We worked our way through pretty much all the RAD Intermediate Barre – my practicing over the break certainly helped as I seemed to be the only one who remember all the combinations! We moved to centre and worked through the Port de Bras which I’m getting reasonably confident with, then the pianist started playing the Shostakovitch that goes with the en dehors pirouettes combination…
Tonight my pirouettes were completely MIA. I guess they’re still hiding in 2011 because I was struggling to even do clean singles, never mind doubles! I really don’t know why they were so bad – I guess a couple of weeks without turning wouldn’t have helped. And what made things worse was I started getting frustrated which didn’t help in the slightest.
But the positive side of this was that I got a five minute one-on-one mini-masterclass with my teacher (the amazing ex-Royal Ballet Principal). Her first question was what goes through my head when I’m about to do a double pirouette. I answered honestly: “I’m usually scared”. I think that those nerves are definitely a big part of my problem but there is also loads of technical things I need to sort out.
So after the five minutes of intense pirouetting here is my (long) list of things to work on:
- Keep bottom foot turned out – when my retiré turns in it is usually because of my standing leg;
- Keep arms ‘big’ – I tend to contract/collapse them;
- Think of lifting ribcage and armpit of standing-leg-side to keep it strong;
- Don’t think of landing – just keep going and see how far around you get;
- Practice standing in retiré and lifting to high demi-pointe while retaining a stable, ‘secure’ feeling;
- Get the feeling of turning the whole circle – I seem to rush parts;
- Especially concentrate on the first part – savour the slight opening of the arms and initiation of the movement;
- Don’t throw myself up to demi-pointe – can be fairly relaxed in getting up there, being stable is more important;
- Keep forward on my leg – when I collapse I tend to fall backwards due to contraction;
I’m pretty sure there was probably some more things, but this was everything I noted down after class in my Dance Journal.
I also got some awesome advice from Lauren Cuthbertson, Principal at the Royal Ballet, on Twitter. She recommended thinking of my demi-pointe lengthening into the ground to counterbalance the “up up up” feeling – Lauren’s definitely earning her “Golden Tweeter” award from my DaveTriesBallet awards! This advice was echoed by Mark Panzarino, also emphasising the need to push down to connect with the floor which will allow the body to react upwards. He recommended I look at William Forsythe’s Improvisation Technologies – which talks about how the body moves, acts and reacts in a very scientific and precise way. Here’s one video Mark suggested to get the idea of reacting forces – fascinating stuff!
Anyway, there’s certainly lots to think about and I’ll be working on some of the pointers on my own when I get into the studio at University (I’m so lucky to be able to get it for free pretty much whenever I want). It’s going to take some serious effort but I’m determined to get these doubles sorted!
Until next time, keep dancing!