The Ballet Class

I wanted to take a ballet class on Tuesday, but it didn’t fit into the schedule, and I thought I would need to wait until Saturday. But I actually got some time tonight to go off for a couple of hours, to the Boston Ballet School studio in Newton. And I took the first ballet class I’ve taken since – well, certainly since Ophelia was born.

Because I had not taken a ballet class in so long, I took the Beginners class. Which was not a mistake, really. I mean, you always learn a lot by going back to the beginning. I was able to work on placement, on how I was standing, the positions of my arms and legs. The teacher explained all the moves, how they were supposed to both look and feel, and it’s been a long time since I’ve gotten those sorts of explanations, so it was a good reminder.

But the class was too slow for me. And less than a half hour of floor work, with no jumping. The jumping was always my favorite part of class. And I like to move fast, to be challenged. So this weekend I’m going to a Beginners/Elementary class, which will transition me to the Elementary class next week. And we’ll see how that goes. I suspect it will be my level for a while, since I’m just starting again.

I wonder if I’ll ache tomorrow? I suspect not, because we didn’t do a lot of the things I used to.  Still, the class made me realize how tight my muscles have gotten. The thing about ballet is, it’s the most difficult and athletic of the dance forms. There are no loose, resting sorts of positions. You have to move so that everything looks easy, but in every move, all of your muscles are engaged. So tonight I’m feeling the small of my back, the muscles under my feet. But it was lovely to be there – I felt, for the first time in a long time, fully physically alive. As though my whole body were engaged.

And another thing about ballet: it’s all about the patterns. So in class the teacher tells you what the patterns are, which moves you’re doing in what order, and you have to remember them. Often a long string of them, after being told once. I used to be able to do that, but my brain is out of the habit. It’s as though I’ve lost a muscle memory. But I think after a few more classes, it will start coming back.

I’ve posted pictures of Dissertation Dora, so today I thought I would post one of Ballet Dora. She doesn’t look quite as bedraggled, does she?

And this is just for fun, a video of what looks like a class of professional dancers doing part of George Balanchine’s Serenade. I actually think it’s more fun to see it this way than in a staged performance.

After the class, I pulled my jeans on over my leotard (dancewear: leotard, footless tights, ballet skirt and shoes), changed into sneakers, and drove back through the darkness, with nineteenth-century music blasting on the car radio. Feeling alive.

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5 Responses to The Ballet Class

  1. gleomstapa says:

    Beautiful video; partly, I think, because you can see their faces and recognize them as people, so the dance is less abstract than when on stage.

    I do contra dance, which is much less precise and demanding, but it still makes me feel incredibly alive; the feeling of being incorporated into the pattern like one molecule in a crystal and the transfers of momentum and energy from one person to another convince me of existence as only a few other things do. The music usually stays with me for days afterward, and with it the feeling of connection and the glory of being physical; I spend so much time studying that it’s sometimes too easy to forget that.

  2. Yes, there’s something about seeing the class do it that brings it to life. On stage it seems more static. I’ve never done contra dance, but I know what you mean! 🙂 The physical movement, plus the music, plus the pattern (not like boring exercises), creates a kind of magic.

    Haddayr, I didn’t even know you took ballet!

  3. Jeff P. says:

    “After the class, I pulled my jeans on over my leotard (dancewear: leotard, footless tights, ballet skirt and shoes), changed into sneakers, and drove back through the darkness, with nineteenth-century music blasting on the car radio. Feeling alive.”

    LOVE it.

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