In my last post I talked a lot about how I was having some trouble in duet; having had very little previous experience meant that I had more things at once I had to think about and that I had to focus harder than usual on each of those thoughts – and let me tell you, even in a normal technique class, although many things become automated and instinctual after so long, you still have plenty to think about and a lot of focus is still required – so, you can imagine that it proved to be an extra challenge for me. I’m always happy to take a challenge (actually, I wouldn’t hesitate to say I feed on challenges, ha!), but it’s understandable that it was somewhat intimidating (although I don’t feel like that’s quite the word I’m looking for).
I don’t know if writing about it is what pulled the trigger for things to start coming together for me in that class; all I know is that today – despite a really shaky start to the day – I had made such an improvement in that class and I was so relieved! Proud of myself and excited, yes, but most of all relieved. Mainly I just felt calm and able to focus, and I found myself just looking at the combinations, learning them, thinking about where I should put and how I should hold my arms and what relationship my position has to my partners, and then I just did the combinations. I was able to do that because what I wasn’t thinking about was “I don’t know what I’m doing, I didn’t understand that last movement he only marked, what if I mess up, I hope my partner has patience for me, please please please let me do this combination well…etc.”, which actually left room for me to be able to just think (calmly, not frantically) about what is actually important, and I was able to just do it!
That really helped bring my spirits up from earlier than morning, because in classical I wasn’t at my best, to put it that way. It was just one of those days, I suppose! I am tired when I wake up in the mornings: class starts at 8:30, which I think is insanely early; in the morning I make sure to wake up between 5:30 and 6:00 to allow myself enough time to warm up and do everything that needs doing before class. It’s not that I need two and a half hours to warm up, although if I have the time then I will always gladly find more ways to do it by adding exercises and stretches, it’s just that having an amount of time that I know is more than enough keeps me calm in the morning and lets me enjoy my warm up as I do it because I don’t have to worry about fitting all my exercises in. It gives me just the right amount of time to do everything I need to do and allow some time for any early-morning mishaps, so that I am not stressed [and these days I have learned to make a conscious effort to control my stress levels and not let them get out of hand]. For various reasons that I won’t go into for fear of making this post overly-lengthy, I’m usually exhausted by 9 or 10 pm and most days I try to be in bed by then; however, despite my best efforts, I more often than not only end up falling asleep by 11 or 12.
I don’t think it’s surprising, then, that some mornings I find the thought of planting my face back into the pillow much more appealing that getting up and getting moving. The reality is that once I start my warm up, I am totally fine – it wakes me up and I enjoy it and I completely forget that not long ago at all I was debating getting out of bed at all! The hard part is just getting up and starting to do stuff. But the other reality is that I don’t always remember to tell myself that when I wake up; delayed gratification is a skill I am rewarded with for having, but occasionally instant gratification is just the name of the game! This particular morning I held a thorough 2-minute debate with myself and decided that I would resign myself to a very short warm up right before class started and that I would sleep until the dorm people came to wake us up, which ended up being around 7:10. Surprisingly, I didn’t freak out, but I just had a really hard time in class – emphasized by having a larger breakfast than I am comfortable with right before class and lingering tiredness and what-have-you. Today was Wednesday, and on Wednesdays and Saturdays we skip barre, do it all in center, and then do pointe. That is killer. I also happened to be breaking in a pair of new pointe shoes today, which gave me some trouble (speaking of which, any tips for making a shoe a bit smaller? No drawstrings and it’s a big bigger than I’d like around the edges). So I was not happy with my work in class today!
I went to my room, took a magical potion and a half hour nap, and woke up ready to rock, apparently, in duet. And that’s what happened!
Later today we had rehearsal; I was schedule for three rehearsals in a row, one right after the other. My second one was rehearsal for the variation I was told to prepare for the school’s upcoming competition. Originally I was doing Medora’s first act variation from Le Corsaire, but I wasn’t so excited about it and all week I was thinking about a different variation that I’d want to do instead. Today I came to rehearsal ready to ask to switch my variation – I remembered the Peasant Pas variation from Giselle, and instantly knew it was the one I need and want to be doing right now! I was right – it went so well!!! I was absolutely thrilled! My main corrections were to turn out more and to use more epaulment. And my absolute biggest correction was to be calm, and not use so much excess energy for movements by being tense, nervous, stressed, or whatever. I was actually surprised to hear that from her because I was feeling so comfortable with the variation itself that I made a conscious effort to just have fun with it and perform with my face and play with my movements as well, which I did. So I don’t know what she saw through my dancing that she in fact spotted that as being something that was actually holding me back and making it harder for me to dance from overly tensing my muscles, but she did notice it and she was right! Once I took all of her corrections – including being calm – I loved the variation even more! It was wonderful! I felt wonderful and free and so happy And you know what, maybe even more rewarding that all that, my teacher seemed happy with me too and seemed to have enjoyed working with me instead of getting frustrated like with some others before me (it was really interesting to see the difference between the girls that kept making the same mistakes over and over again and had her screaming and them in tears by the end, and the girls that applied the corrections at once and didn’t make any faces or complain, to which she was much calmer in handing out corrections and nicer in them since she was pleased).
And that was my day! Aaaaand, that’s the end of this post…because it’s almost bed time. I don’t want to be tired tomorrow!
I’ve included some pictures below – enjoy!
Until next time!