Greasy hair and pirouettes

I wasn’t planning on taking class on Tuesday since I had an early lecture the next morning. I decided to go in the end because—wait for it—I had discovered that my hair was finally just long enough for a bun and it was also in the perfect just-greasy-enough condition for it to hold. I haven’t had long hair (past collarbone) since 2012 so yes, it was definitely a big deal. But I digress.

Class turned out to be amazing! Not only because one of my favourite teachers was subbing, which meant it was guaranteed to be fun and super engaging, I also had an epiphany during post-class practice.

Despite being a wee bit nervous that I wouldn’t keep up with the Elementary level after so many months off, it ended up being nowhere as intense as I had thought. In fact, we slowed things down by revisiting a lot of the groundwork like finding the correct placement of the arms and even weight distribution, as well touching on basics like how to use the foot to brush the floor in a tendu—all of which were very much needed for my transition from my sedentary state (my turnout is crying). As a meticulous person and technique driven balletomane, I always look forward to precisely and correctly nailing down the foundation. A few important notes and corrections I gathered from class:

  • Always, always remind yourself to distribute your weight on the ball of your feet, especially during centre, otherwise you *will* fall backwards!
  • A stiff neck is not going to help you to spot and turn.
  • Balletic runs feel awkward if you don’t “get low” (my teacher’s words!), meaning bending your knees when you run across the floor.
  • For the arms in balancé de coté, think of resistance, like pushing against air, when you bring the arm in.

Some of these things I already knew but always forget or don’t practice enough (anyone else with the stiff neck?). That ‘air resistance’ imagery was really helpful for avoiding sloppy or dead arms. I thought the case of dead arms wasn’t a (huge) issue for me but video recordings of myself say otherwise… -cringe-

Speaking of arms, they were the catalyst of my pirouette epiphany. Because of an adjustment in the use of arms, I finally experienced that woosh feeling you get from a good turn! It was undeniably one of the most profound moments in my ballet journey. What I did differently was making a conscious effort to fully open my arm from third to a second as I turned. It sounds silly when I write it out because it seems obvious that using arms would help propel you. But turning freaks me out, making it difficult for me to concentrate on remembering to do everything—straight back, pelvis tucked in, relaxed neck, strong plié, turn out, spotting, etc. Sure, I knew you had to use your arms but for some reason it never crossed my mind to focus on that. Feeling so delighted by this sudden success I even attempted them in en dedans and it worked! It was like the magical cure for my pirouette woes.

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A video posted by Candice (@balletorama) on Jan 8, 2016 at 3:50am PST

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Imagine if my hair wasn’t greasy, I probably wouldn’t have made it to class. I wouldn’t have figured out why I sucked at turns. So thanks, greasy hair!