It is so intriguing to discover how well Russian Ballet is thought through. I experienced this quite intense in this week’s classes. It gives me a strange sense of proudness that I’m taking part in this beautiful art!
Thursday, we practiced the cambré. Cambré means bent over. A movement curving the spine forward, sideways or backward. We did the backward one.
In a backbend, your fulcrum descends down the spine. It initially supports the weight of your head, then more and more of the torso, as the bending becomes more extreme. And then stay in balance! That bending backward is quite an exercise. I can hardly make a proper backward bend. My shoulders and upper back are stiff. But so is my spine. And of course, the muscles of my back need to be trained.
I discovered (again) that I’ve got some work to do. Lyda gave me a few exercises to practice at home. The exercise starts with you lying on your belly, prone, hands beneath the shoulders and the legs in a slight second position. Push off, gently raise your torso, arms loose from the floor, stretch them in front of you and hold this position, as high as your torso can get, 8 counts and then release slowly. Do this a few times. Then gradually raise your legs, turned out, and your feet pointed, hold it as high as you can for 8 counts, and slowly lower. Again a few times. The crescendo of this exercise is that you slowly lift both torso and legs, hold it for 8 counts, and slowly lower, do this say 3 times.
We practiced the temps lié in the center, Lyda said this was the official version, but it is also the simplest version. For you know: I’m a beginner.
You start standing in the fifth position croisé, the right foot front. Then do a demi plié, both arms in the first position. Your right foot glides forward into croisé, your left foot remains in demi plié. Then shift your weight on to the right foot and point your left foot behind. Bring your left arm up and your right arm out to the side. Bring the left foot from behind into the 5th position en face in demi plié, shifting left arm into the first position, right arm remains in the second position. Slide the toe of the right foot to the side, leaving left in demi plié, shift weight on to outstretched right leg (opening left arm into the second position), with pointed toe slide left leg into the 5th position front in demi plié. Drop your arm into a preparatory position, and repeat the whole movement on the left foot.
Mind the transference of weight onto the front leg that is accompanied by an oppositional extension of the back leg (pointe tendue derrière croisé), the back foot pushes the weight onto the front foot. So exquisite and elegant.
We had some chit chat in the classroom about the Bolshoi Ballet Company. Lyda showed us some pictures of young ballerina’s training the cambré, or arabesque. The alignment of the head, torso, arms, legs, and feet gives it its artistic beauty. So perfectly aligned! And she told how the young students grasp every moment to train their flexibility. The boarding school has carpets all over the place, so students can do their stretches on the floor.
And it’s time to buy new black tights. Lyda advised me to try another brand so I can feel the difference in texture, and fit.