Half way though barre yesterday, Awesome Ballet Teacher, begins to point out the importance of keeping the upper body straight and not caring how high our legs get as much as the maintaining the alignment of torsos. This is one lesson we hear often because clearly this is one of those things that need to be added to the Why Don’t I Ever Learn list – personally I have a tendency to collapse but that’s a whole other blog. In a moment of all seriousness he said, “I promise you, I promise each and every one of you, that the height will come, you will achieve that extension if you can maintain your alignment…”
That was interesting, which is also an expression my ABT frequently uses… although when he says it he means “what in god’s name was that?!?!” but is entirely to sweet to be mortified to your face. Whenever he says “That was interesting” we just have to laugh because we know it means we just did something insane/bad/very very wrong as a group and then we wait for our correction en mass.
Anyway, that was interesting because it’s not often someone is willing to promise you something even in an exchange and I couldn’t help but hear an amount of pure belief which is also something I’m not used to experiencing. But there it is the exchange that comes in a balance of belief and action that is ballet. If I keep my torso straight and strong, if I keep my arms in front of my body, if I keep my head up, if I plié deeply, if I brush the floor and know that it can be done and that I can consciously and with concerted effort, do it… there is a reward. And I began to wonder – after class of course because who than let their brains wander in ballet class but I have a long drive home through LA evening traffic – about the importance of belief in ballet. If I snort a noise or roll my eyes and make a face when ABT talks about the real dancing we will be able to do later on in our training, will I ever be able to get there? I’m native Los Angelean so I have sarcasm and disbelief practically stamped on my DNA but somehow I choose to believe him no matter what he says.
Awesome Ballet Teacher says that so much of actual ballet is an illusion, perhaps, but I think it’s because there’s also an amount of magical belief. It’s that magical belief that makes us get teary over a fate of a swan-girl and her prince, that makes us believe in willies, sylphides, and fairies, and that makes us believe so much so that we keep on working toward our perfect pirouette, a développé up to our ear, and a beautiful fully extended arabesque.