Blog 27 Back to the basics
Only a few students showed up last Monday. There were only four of us. So we had a lot of personal attention in a relaxed atmosphere. Which led to a few corrective comments by our beloved teacher.
Like performing a correct stance. Lyda checked if the weight of my body was correctly centered over the feet, with the armpit and the hipbone vertically aligned, shoulders low, the ribs in and flat, thus controlling the lower back and stabilizing the vertical placement of the torso directly on top of my supporting legs. Lyda commented that my left shoulder is higher than my right shoulder.
And looking in the mirror, of course, I tried to correct myself.
As we were practicing the cambré at the barre, Lyda noticed that I was placing my hand too far away from my body, though I held it correctly on top of the barre. I had to bring my elbow more close to me. And she reminded me that I had to keep my hand and arm on the barre side relaxed. The barre should help me to maintain my stability but at the same time is not meant to lean on or to grip firmly to compensate balance issues.
And there was that other thing, a real eye-opener. When in tendu I seem to have my working leg a bit bent in de knee. It's hard work for me to stretch that knee. Until Lyda remarked that my working leg was not properly turned out. So when I focused on turning my leg more out, the bent knee simultaneously became a stretched knee.
It is not yet part of my system that in ballet, all movements are performed with the legs turned out. The correct use of the turn out when performing the tendu was my Aha Erlebnis of the lesson!
But I have to confess that turning out is the most difficult thing for me. I have to train a lot to increase my outward rotation. I remember that in de the first year I tried to compensate this by forcing it up from the floor to the knee. And that is fundamentally wrong. The force from the turn out of the legs has to come from the hip down and not from the floor up! So my first position now is about 45 degrees. When I started ballet, it was about 30 degrees. So I made a little progress. But I think 90 degrees is out of my reach.
For now, ballet training provides a way of developing healthy musculature, bones, and joints. I have to remember that ballet's practice focuses on the repetition of simple motions at the barre and basic jumps, and that's the way to establish pathways for all later movements. In that aspect, training is quite a subtle mental and physical process.
And the beauty of it is that I build an aesthetic awareness so I can enhance my body image. I must say: I have never looked more often at my mirror image to study my posture and movements!