Monday, March 23, 2015

Do you speak ballet?

Recently I was teaching a pointe class to my adults and I watched how most of their ballet knowledge flew out the window as soon as they put their pointe shoes on. They "climbed" up to their pique; they forgot how to do a proper glissade.


Because they were not thinking in ballet.

Yes, the vocabulary of ballet is primarily written and spoken in French and Italian but beyond that, there is a language to it that is not just words but also visual images and physical movement. This is why we do the same exercises every single class. We do our barre the same way every week so that we drill into our brains what a tendu is, what a fondu means, how to connect our head and arms with our feet, and so on.

And just as it's much easier to learn and speak Spanish or German if we immerse ourselves in it, the same is true of ballet. Constantly translating English into Spanish is hard and prevents us from truly learning the language.

This brings me to an important point about pointe. "Am I ready for pointe?" students ask me. Well, are you fluent in ballet? Are you still translating what croise means? Are you still trying to recall what en croix refers to? Then no, you are not ready. You need to think in ballet so that when it comes to pointe work, you are not constantly translating. You know what pique means and you would never in a million years climb up to it with a bent knee. It's one thing if you don't know how to keep your knee straight when you are in pointe shoes but if you don't know that you have to keep it straight, you will have that much more to translate.

Happy dancing~

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