A very inspiring and exciting ballet week!
It was cold last Monday. In-class exercises went slow and stiff. So Lyda told us to do a few warming up exercises. And it helped. Body temperature rises, joints become more smooth, and the muscles more flexible. In an earlier blog, I wrote about the importance of warming up. Usually, at home, I prepare by doing a few routine stretches. And while waiting in the dressing room at Bayadère, I continue to do this. And at the end of November, that’s not a luxury.
We had an interesting and motivating extra changement exercise. While in the center, Lyda asked us to take off our shoes and put one of them a few inches in front and the other a few inches at the back of our feet. Then she challenged us to do the changement 32 times on our bare feet, remaining in the confines of the shoes. This gives an extra dimension to the changement, and maybe you think I’m exaggerating a bit, but I love these kinds of exercises.
The Thursday lesson was one of a kind. Only Marion and I were in class, the rest of the students didn’t show up for various reasons. So Lyda decided to offer us an alternative lesson. With as she said, hard work for the calves and in the second half of the lesson a few basic techniques for the pas de deux. We eagerly chose for this special lesson.
First a half-hour of exercising the calves: plié to relevé on two feet, then on the right foot, then two feet and left foot then two feet, countless times in series from 8 to 16 movements.
Then from standing to the relevé, the same order of using the feet as mentioned before. And again in series of 8 to 16 movements. They were making fun out of me, fantasizing about the horrible calve cramps and stiffness I would get this weekend.
Well, to be honest, yesterday, Friday, I felt a bit of stiffness in my upper calves. But today that’s already gone. And I made a long run this morning, so I’m doing fine ladies.
Then it was time for the pas de deux. Marion put her hard blocked pointe shoes on. These are satin shoes with stiffened, reinforced toes, the tips of which are squared off to provide a small platform on which the dancer is able to balance.
I learned that it can be harmful to the Achilles tendon to tie the pointe ribbons at the back of the ankle. There is a small indentation just in back of the inside anklebone where the knot can be hidden under the ribbon; in this spot it is both comfortable and invisible Marion told me.
Only advanced dancers are advised to dance on pointe shoes.
The goal of the pas de deux was for her do to some pointe work, with me holding her in different positions.
We practiced some basic techniques. Marion stood in front of me, in plié in the 4th position, I behind her back, in the second position, a bit in plié, with my hands on her waist. Then she springs upward, straightening the knees, simultaneously drawing the toes across into a straight line front to back, aligned with the center of the body. And of course, me acting along with her to achieve harmony of movement. So my partner was sur la pointe, in balance, and now my task was to shift her to the right and to the left, her feet remaining on pointe on the floor. That’s when gravity comes in, and holding and supporting her becomes my task. With safety first! The aim was to develop mutual trust. But also to feel the effect of movement. I actively became aware of spatial dimensions and shifting weight in working together. And correct body positioning in relation to my partner. For me, it was a great way to make my next step into ballet. Marion uttered directions to me when on pointe. I felt honored to exercise these basics with her. Later on, we practiced the arabesque, Marion, in this position, while I rotated her. Thanks, Marion, for your trust! And Lyda for this opportunity to do some more advanced work.
It was a great lesson!