Ballet classes have been super quiet of late. For the past 2 weeks it's just been me in pointe class!
When it's just you and the teacher in class it can be pretty awkward at first but once you get over the initial embarrassment, those classes ended up being incredibly enjoyable and extremely beneficial.
For the past 2 weeks my teacher, Constance Deverney, has given me really insightful corrections that I wouldn't have otherwise gotten in a full class. In pointe shoes, it turns out that I have a tendency to roll my foot inwards in plie, which I didn't even realise I did, so she got me to lift my arches more which stops me from rolling in. She also says I tend to lead my plies with the outside of my thighs, rather than the inside turnout muscles. Again, I didn't know this. I put it down to having a poor turnout, but actually when I engaged the proper muscles my plie did improve and become more turned out. There were many more excellent corrections and I've been given lots of things to work on.
I also think these one-to-one sessions gave me the confidence to do my pirouettes more freely, as it's easy to become embarrassed in front of other classmates when you are doing things badly, even though they aren't judging you at all. That embarrassment leaks into your confidence which stops you fully committing to the pirouette. We didn't do pirouettes this week but we did do pique turns. I love a pique turn. As we broke it down though I realised how bad I was at them! But as we worked on each tiny individual part of the turn, it gave me the opportunity to see where I was going wrong at each part of the turning process. Whilst I still didn't get it right, I now know what I should be doing and can take those learnings to my other classes as well as my next pointe lesson.
Barre & stretch has also improved dramatically. It's very hard for the teachers to decide which level to teach the class at when there are so many varying levels of experience in each class. In barre & stretch, for example, there have been extremely flexible dancers and extremely inflexible dancers take the class. Our current teacher tended to keep it simple for the benefit of the less flexible girls, but last week she changed it so it's more challenging for everyone.
New stretches include a penchée arabesque stretch against the wall, which is an amazing stretch for the hamstrings and for improving your front splits overall.
We also did an arabesque stretch at the barre, which involves resting your extended back leg on the barre with your body in penchée position, then bringing your body up as far as you can (the ideal is body and back leg at a 90 degree angle to each other, 45 degrees if you can manage it!) into an arabesque position. It's a hard stretch if you don't have a flexible back but it does strengthen your back immensely.
We have also started to include frog stretches to improve our turnout. I have started doing this simple stretch at night too whilst I'm watching the telly. The teacher says it's one of the most effective stretches to improve turnout, even at this age! I can't believe we haven't been doing this all along as it's a great stretch and benefits not just turnout but anything that requires opening up the hips.
So overall it's been an eye opening (and eye-watering!) two weeks in ballet. Not only that, by the time we come back from summer break, I will have a brand new pair of Grishko Miracle pointe shoes to try. It's all go go go!