Saturday 22 June 2013

Is returning better?

There are some really obvious differences between me (returning to ballet) and many of my fellow adult ballerinas who have never danced as a child.

The first one is the terms. Ballet is all in French. Now I don't speak any French (apart from a little bit via Coffee Break French podcasts!), but say plié or tendu and I know exactly what to do. As a teenager I also learnt the "ballet translations" of many words:
Developpé - unfolding the leg from a closed to an open position and holding it there
Rond de jambe à terre - rounding of the leg on the floor
Port de bras - carriage of the head, body and arms

This amazing port de bras illustration comes from the very talented Adult Beginner. Check out her blog for all things ballet, sewing and running.

However, I've just had to look all of those terms up in my online ballet dictionary! I don't have a clue how to write them and often don't recognise them when I see them written. My ballet notebook from aged 16 (an essential class item as I remember) was full of phonetical spellings that were nowhere near the real words! I wish I still had one to compare...

Another great thing is how my body remembers specific sequences; ask me for a "coupé, chasse, pas de bourrée, pas de chat, pas de chat" and I'm off across the studio in a flash (and with my long legs I travel!). The same is true for pique turns or jeté, temps levé. It just works.

There are two downsides to this useful feat:

1) Give me a new combination (especially a variation on one I know) or a new step and I am totally at sea! Lame ducks leave me spinning on demi pointe whilst repeating "down up down up" over and over in my head. Beating (especially during assemblés) gives me bruised and battered feet and angles as I miss frequently :(

2) I get lazy. For example I assume that my feet and legs are always turned out because I'm used todoing  it. But sometimes in class I look down or catch sight of myself in the mirror and am shocked at the poor position of my legs. I could do so much better!

And there's one thing that previous experience has no effect on: poor flexibility. The more I stretch, the better it is. That's it.

Many thanks to the Wikipedia glossary of ballet - this post would not have made sense without it!


Christy @ My Dirt Road Anthem: A Runner's Blog said...

the French words are so pretty, I found myself repeating them, and no doubt saying them wrong, but they just sound pretty. Funny how the body remembers the movements, I can still pull of some of the dances I did as a cheerleader in high school but I bet if I tried to learn something new I would be lost!

Elle said...

Love the sound of the words.

I recall in a ballet class the teacher telling us about tendu and comparing it to stretching cheese!