Friday, January 9, 2015

Binge ballet?

Perhaps these first decades of the 21st Century should be called the Binge Years.

We binge on television: watching seasons of "House of Cards" and "Orange is the New Black" back to back (to back to back).

We binge on reading: book challenges on Goodreads ask us to set goals of reading weekends or even days, and we devour entire series like "Harry Potter" and "The Hunger Games" in 24 hours.

We binge on writing: thousands participate in NaNoWriMo, devoted to writing a 50,000 word novel in a single month.

We binge on food and alcohol, of course, and social media. But can we binge on ballet? And even if we can, should we?

I do see people who discover ballet and throw themselves into it, taking three classes a week or more. Or they have been away for a while and decide they want to get back into it with a vengeance - and at the level they left it. Much like people who suddenly decide to take Zumba classes or start running or lifting weights, these dance students love it immediately and want to binge.

But bingeing on ballet doesn't make you better exponentially. Look at ballet as building blocks. You start with plies and tendus and degages and you get those under your belt and you move forward. But you can't do a jete without knowing how to do a degage and a coupe. You can't do a pas de chat if you don't know retire. You can't do much adagio if you can't stand on one leg without holding onto the barre. And you certainly can't do that if you don't take your time, find your core muscles, and practice.

It takes time to learn what the building blocks are. For one thing, they are all in French. And for another, they are not steps and movements we do naturally. They must be learned and if they aren't learned properly, the next steps built upon them will be skewed, like the Tower of Pisa.

The class I will teach this month, my Elementary Ballet Workshop, is a crash course in the sense that I will give people the basic tools for a beginner class. Plies, tendu, degages, and so on. The students won't master these steps as it takes years to truly master ballet but they will have the first layer of their building, the preparation for their structure.

Be patient with ballet. Don't binge. It's a lifelong pursuit, not an end goal. Happy dancing!


Renaissance Woman said...

What this written with me in mind?


PS: Are you teaching tomorrow at VDC?

Leigh Purtill said...

Ha, Rachel!!

Yes I am teaching tomorrow as usual at Vonder Haar.

Thanks for stopping by the blog!