Lovely Johanna of Pointe Til You Drop asked ten questions about ballet, I thought about ten answers…
1. What is your favourite time for ballet class?
I always take class in the evening as I work 9-5 weekdays so it’s a dash from the office to class. I think though, given my level of excess energy after class, that I could probably really do with taking class at about 7am and then trying to harness that energy to power me through a day in the office! Maybe I’d drink far fewer caffeinated beverages then…
2. How many classes do you take on a weekly basis?
I take class every evening after work (four regular and one pointe) and floor barre once a week after class (aka All Those Muscles You Didn’t Work Properly In Ballet Are Coming Back To Haunt You). Class is anywhere from one hour to pushing 2.5 hours – depending on how involved the teacher gets!
3. What do you eat before class?
Dependent on how much cake I’ve been eating at work… Usually it’s a bowl of cereal (granola or muesli or whatever’s on offer at the supermarket) and a banana. Sometimes it’s just the banana if there’s been a lot of cake! My diet is actually appalling.
4. What’s inside your ballet bag?
Everything AND the kitchen sink, or at least that’s what it feels like! I have bags within bags… Two pairs of ballet flats, one shawl, one wash bag (anti blister stuff, foot spray, deodorant, tin of hair grips, lip balm, hairbrush, mirror, toe tape, knee support, ankle supports, other stuff), tin of hair stuff (hair pins, hair bobbles, hair slides, hair nets), tin of ‘first aid’ stuff (plasters, blister plasters, scissors), usually a random head scarf hanging around, laundry bag, bag of spare kit (leo, shorts, tights), bag of kit (leo, tights, skirt/shorts, top made from old tights, jumper/cardigan/t-shirt, warm up trousers), slippers, change of clothes from work stuff (usually joggers and a t-shirt) and on pointe days my pointe shoe bag (shoes, toe pads, other stuff for being nice to my toes). I am that useful person who is prepared for most eventualities… and the one everyone turns to when they’ve forgotten their tights/shoes/hair pins/whatever…
5. How do you prepare for class?
I tend to get changed at work and stick my leo and tights on under a pair of joggers and a t-shirt then make a dash to class. I finish getting changed when I get to class, do battle with my hair to try and make it something like vaguely presentable then go and ‘warm up’. I use the term lightly: some days I run in ever decreasing circles around the studio, others I just lie on the floor and grab a ten minute power nap and sometimes I just sit around and have a chat.
6. What’s your favourite part of class?
All of it? I have more confidence at the barre but I really love jumping (even though my body doesn’t love it quite so much). I’ve definitely developed a lot more love for adage over the years, when it goes right there’s nothing like it at all. I also really like getting something that’s challenging right, there’s such a sense of satisfaction that goes with it.
7. What’s your biggest challenge in class?
Not looking down (even when my head’s up my eyes usually aren’t) and not dancing “apologetically” (I am forever being reminded to “dance big”) are my main challenges. Other things like being able to co-ordinate my arms and legs, remember which direction I’m facing/moving in and then littler things like certain steps: waltz turns, frappés, some jumps… and all the usual things about keeping my spine (as straight as it will go), not sitting in (or out!) of my hips, maintaining turn out, not rolling my feet, keeping my shoulders down… the list goes on.
8. What is your level?
I mostly take classes that are labelled intermediate but I don’t always feel very intermediate. On a good day I’d describe myself as “competent beginner”, on a really good day I’d probably feel that I’d scraped into intermediate by the skin of my teeth. Improving, I guess is probably the term I’m looking for.
9. Describe a “moment” you had in class.
It was a few months back and I can’t remember if it was an adage or an allegro… but it was definitely something in the centre and by some kind of miracle, I’d managed to get it all right including orientation, steps, epaulment, the lot. My completely adorable teacher came up to me when we finished the exercise, shook my hand, patted my shoulder and thanked me for getting it right (he is so completely adorable it’s not true). I guess it’s the little “moments” that make it, the yeses and the goods, the being pushed to the front in centre as a competent person to follow (although I can usually guarantee this results in me forgetting everything), and the “moments” that don’t get seen or acknowledged but you know it’s gone right.
10. What is it that you love about taking ballet class?
I love the fact that no matter how terrible my day has been up until I get to class, I can guarantee that I always leave feeling about a million percent better than when I arrived. I love being able to completely empty my mind for a couple of hours and forget all about reality. I love spending time with like minded people who understand the need to dance. I love the fact that both places I dance are so incredibly supportive of their adult dancers and encourage us to push ourselves to be the best that we can be and that they both care about me as an individual. I love the feeling of accomplishment after a good class and I love the fact that ballet is never static. One of my work colleagues commented that for me, going to class is like them going home and watching TV for the evening – essentially the studio is my living room. I like the analogy.
And I love shopping for dancewear. What’s not to love about a new leo?!