I’m very happy tonight. I think I have finally left the bad mood of the last few weeks behind. It feels like taking off a grey veil and suddenly seeing the colours of the world, or like letting go of a weight and feeling light again, new and wonderful. I wanted to smile at everybody and didn’t mind meeting people’s eyes on the way home, I felt good in my own skin and as if life was radiating from me. This is how I would like to feel more often, how I believe we are supposed to feel.
Last night we had class with Mandy and she had a new CD, again by the wonderful pianist Alla Reznik. She plays in a way that lifts you and makes you want to move and dance and fly and be expressive. It inspired Mandy to give us new, unusual combinations. There were two more advanced students, too, which made Mandy increase the speed and complexity of the exercises. If I feel that I can handle the speed and difficulty, I quite enjoy this kind of class. Last night was just within my ability level. I struggled, but didn’t give up and just did it. And would you believe it: I didn’t do badly at all. I was able to do the fast waltz combination on the music and the first few piqué turns of a series as well. And I was able to forget the other students and try my best and be expressive, which was entirely thanks to the gorgeous music. Mandy actually praised me afterwards and said I could do much more than I believed. It was the first genuine praise from her for a long time. Not a ‘you did what was expected’ kind of praise, but a ‘you exceeded my expectations’ one. It helped my confidence which had been low for some time. I CAN do things. And I suddenly noticed that my développé to the side is now actually above 90 degrees! How did it creep up there?
Today I planned to go to AS and take the two Friday evening ballet classes, introductory and beginner level. They both only last 55 minutes and there are lots of people, so you don’t actually learn much, but they are good to work on your own and they are free, so they are useful after all. AS is a big university sports centre with lots of classes and the teacher isn’t very good. I haven’t taken these classes for months because in the winter, we have to work longer and I can’t make it, and because I need one rest day a week. But I’ve been itching to go there for weeks now. I used to go for years and knew many people by sight and knew all the phrases the teacher used in the introductory class by heart. Yes, I have fond memories of those Friday evenings. After class, I would stay and stretch in the corridors and watch the huge fitness class in the gymnasium, or use the stationary bike and then walk home, exhausted and happy because it was the beginning of the weekend.
This afternoon, I slipped out of the office a little early and went over to AS. I knew that I was over 16 kg lighter than when I had last been there, and that the level is relatively easy and most students have no clue, so I was feeling confident. I was going to enjoy it and work hard, but also enjoy being thinner and better than ever. At first, the mirrors threw me off balance. I’m used to my silhouette in the other studios, but this mirror made me look very fat and I had forgotten that. It didn’t help that I was wearing one of the smaller tops that are very form-fitting and wasn’t used to it. But I realized a few things quite clearly in those two hours: I HAVE made progress. The hours and hours of work have not been in vain. Not only was I more stable and flexible and able to pick up the combinations quickly, but I was now so USED to it that it seemed natural. If you do a ballet class every day, it becomes an ‘everyday thing’ and some things just happen with ease. My body was used to it and knew what it was doing and did it. No, of course I wasn’t perfect, but I felt AT HOME in the movements. While before, the fondu combination had regularly killed my thighs (because I didn’t know how to use the right muscles and was gripping), now my leg seemed light. There wasn’t enough space at the barre for grand battements, so I did them off the barre without thinking twice. After all, we do them like that with Mandy every week. Développés felt lovely and I was surprised to see all the others drop their legs so fast until I remembered how hard they used to be for me, before I had the strength and proper placement. The teacher recognized me. She was walking by when we did passé par terre in fondu followed by grand rond de jambe en dedans and then port de bras en avant. I was working hard, sweat dripping down my temple, and in the port de bras I used my upper back to initiate the movement as GFT had taught me, and the teacher actually said ‘beautiful, very good’. After class she spoke to me and said I was looking good, and asked me if I had been training. I said yes, every day. She seemed impressed and wanted to know where I train.
This whole experience gave me a huge confidence boost. I am working so hard, and sometimes it all seems pointless and progress isn’t noticeable, as I wrote in my previous post. But taking these old classes again has made it very clear to me that I have made huge progress. Not just leg height or a deeper cambré, but a quality. I felt I had a quality most of the other students lacked. A quality that comes from correct placement and lots of training. And I saw some students that have been going to AS for years and still look much the same. One woman whom i dislike (I call her Fish Lady because she wears a t-shirt with a fish on it for class) and who has an air of thinking she’s good (but she isn’t) stood across from me at the barre. She started some years ago and I remember she quickly took the harder classes, as so many do who are ambitious, and seemed to get into a phase of over-confidence because she knew how to move her head in tendus. I can’t help myself, but such people make me MAD. Being good is fine and being confident is fine, and I’m not saying everybody who isn’t a professional should hide in a corner, but pretension: UGH! GPS is like that and she sometimes still rubs me the wrong way. There are one or two more such people at AS and at other places where I took classes. So it was a great satisfaction to appear in that class again, much thinner and worlds better, and thoroughly upstage the Fish Lady. I only hope my own newfound confidence didn’t come across as pretension and rub others the wrong way. I want to feel confident and be brave enough to do my very best, but I want to have a positive expression, not an arrogant one. ‘I love moving in this way and delight in my own ability’, is what I want people to see, not ‘everybody admire me because I’m so good’. This picture of Natalie Kusch is a good example of this: