Slow But Not That Slow

New Ballet Teacher: “*French French French French French French French*, close to fifth and rest.”

I think he says that “rest” at the end as a tease because no sooner are my feet flat on the ground when he says “turn” and then there is an onslaught of more French. Shouldn’t “rest” involve getting to sit down, have a drink of water, toweling off sweat… that sort of thing?!

“This combination is very slow, one and two and three and four, very slow stretching up from the top of our heads…” he says in a soft sing-song-y tone walking down the line of the barre. Then he gets to me and, this is why I DO NOT play poker, seeing the look on my face and says, “Well slow but not really that slow. It’s a single graceful movement but yeah, you are moving through it at a good pace. See that’s the illusion of ballet, that everything is moving slowly and easily but in reality you are working hard and controlled. It’s not really slow, it’s your job to make it look slow.”

And the man must read minds or maybe I have a bit of a habit of making faces… “…close to fifth and rest. This few seconds that you get to rest, that’s real, that’s ballet… and even that is not really resting because you are still holding a position, right? You are in fifth with arms in preparation, standing tall, standing strong, that’s powerful. But it is the few seconds that you have as a dancer to find your center before moving on, but you’ve got to be ready to move again! That is what preparation is all about, right?”

Yeah, it is. Rarely in ballet as in life, do we get to “rest” in the sense that most of us would like! That few seconds of “rest” we still have to stand tall and powerfully, we may only get a few seconds to center ourselves before having to dive back into the fray of partners, jobs, kids, family, friends, pets, house, school, and on and on. Such is the chaos of life, but in those few seconds we can stand, breathe, and using our own brow sweat as hair product push back that stray hair from in front of our face and slick it back down, turn, and dance some more. Okay, I get it ballet teacher, I literally only a get a moment of rest so I better use it wisely but the point is that I am here to dance not to rest and I am here to live not to sit out my life.

Okay, everyone, rest… now turn,other side, we have more dancing to do.

2 thoughts on “Slow But Not That Slow

  1. Sometimes rest tends to be overrated. I’m currently in three ballet classes a week, I feel that I do much better in the two classes that are just a day apart rather than the ones that are a several days apart. I’m currently in the longest stretch of days off between classes, Saturday afternoon to Wednesday evening. I’ve got too much time off, time to get just a bit rusty, forget what I need to work on, and forget to stretch as much as I really should… Plus, it really sucks to have a bad class then have multiple days off, It’s so much nicer to bask in the glow of a good class than to beat myself up after a bad class and not get back in there and fix what’s broken.
    I’ve began to notice since I’ve worked my way up a class or two that when we do have a few seconds between exercises as the teacher messes with the cd player that nearly everyone in class is doing something; stretching, reworking what we just did, or whatever. Rarely will I see anyone just standing there. I find myself getting antsy if there is nothing happening.
    It seems to be one of those things you would never think about until you find yourself in that situation.
    Great post, I very much enjoy tweets and blog!

    • Thanks, Chris.

      I hear ya. I always do better with more on my plate than less. And I do love back to back classes. I would go everyday if I could! My teacher is very very organized, we don’t take breaks and he doesn’t mess with his iPod, it is literally the amount of time it takes to say “rest, turn… french,french,french.” When he is giving directions, explaining, correcting, we are already moving and he expects us not to stop. He’s very focused, which I like, but, man, two seconds to work out a foot cramp would be nice every once in a while!

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