The continuing saga of the pirouette. Sorry first of for boring those of you who don't dance and secondly for whining at those who do! I know we do have lots of dancers following the blog now so hopefully you'll bear with me.
One of the pirourette exercises in graded class is actually what RAD would call pique turns. I enjoy pique turns immensely but have great trouble spotting. It's so new to me and I've had a difficult time getting the hang of it, as have all the girls in class who didn't dance when they were young. Whipping your head around at a different rate to the rest of your body is an alien concept. So whilst I'm just pottering around the house, I've been practicing my pique turns. I pique turn from the kitchen into the living room. I pique turn to go from the sink to the fridge. I pique turn from the window to the sofa. Basically anything that involves walking, now becomes a pique turn instead! The result is that I'm getting pretty decent at them. My landing is awful and messy, but the turn and the spotting is slowly but surely getting better.
The improvement started when I began thinking about what a turn is and I started to imagine I was 'presenting' the turn to the audience.
Generally, when opening from first to second, I prefer the hands to 'present', since you are opening up to the audience in preparation to show them something. In my head, putting my hands in the presenting position when my arms go from third position and opening to second as I go round, allows me to mentally offer the space around me an imagenary circle in which to present a turn. It traces the motion my body must make. I'm not explaining it well but for some reason is has flicked a switch in my head.
Our teachers are always using metaphors to get our bodies to assume the correct positions and to associate those positions with feelings; an upper backbend should look and feel like you are wearing a corset and can only bend from the shoulder blades; pulling up should feel like a string attached to the top of your head that travels all the way through your body and someone is pulling it, lengthening your whole body. Mostly, these metaphors don't really work for me therefore I assumed I'm just not the kind of person that this technique works for, but I now realise it's just finding the right metaphor for me.
So for the last 2 weeks I have been using these 'presenting' hand positions in the pique turn exercise in graded class and I've done them better than ever before. Yes, my landing still sucks, but I'm actually getting round, I'm spotting and I'm not too wobbly.
This won't work for pirouettes per se, as the arms positions are different in so much as what gets you round in a piroeutte is the motion of the arms closing from third to first, rather than opening, therefore you can't present but that said, my pirouettes were definitely better since my pique ephinany. Perhaps the success of that gave me a confidence boost overall?
When our usual pointe teacher is off touring with Scottish Ballet we have another teacher who takes us. She's great too and last week she got us to try to do slow rises onto releve on one foot. That shit is impossible! Getting from flat foot, through demi, onto pointe slowly is incredibly difficult. The strength required to actually execute it is more than any of us possess. She calls this our 'medicine' - those horrific exercises we need to try to do in order to build strength. Part of the reason I struggle to roll through demi is that my Grishko pointe shoes simply won't allow it, even though they are well worn in, soft even. But the Russian method of releve isn't to roll up, but to 'spring' up, therefore Russian made pointe shoes, such as the Grishko shoes, are designed for the Russian springing method primarily, therefore don't lend themselves well to rolling up.
I'm going to continue to pique turn and pirouette all around the house and hopefully one day I'll do a perfect turn. A girl can dream....