Three excellent classes this past week. And I might have learned something that my teacher has been battling to get me to understand for the past eight months or so. Ready for it, it’s a lot bigger than I previously expected – stop looking down. Stop it!
First of all, when you lift your chin up, voila! it corrects the line like you wouldn’t believe. We were working on arabesques on releve at the barre and Awesome Ballet Teacher has one of the girls go up as an example and like pretty much all of us had been doing, her chin was down. With one slight, gentle move of his hand, he raised her chin and it was a complete transformation, she looked fabulous. Her leg didn’t get any higher but her chest did and the whole line was positively beautiful. Getting my chin off of my chest lengthens the neck, the shoulders, and the chest. It also allows my chest to open up so that I can expand into the movement rather than sink into my hips.
Not that I was ready to give up my floor and feet watching ways entirely but when we started doing across the floor exercises, Awesome Ballet Teacher challenged us to cross the floor without looking down once. As I reached the other side, Really Talented Classmate leaned over to me and said, it’s easier if you look at yourself in the mirror in front of you to stay up and in a straight line. Okay. So no looking down and looking ahead into the mirror. It was easier. Where did I think my feet were going to be? They pretty much stay under me, I mean, they are attached, they can’t really run off too far without my okay. I’m sort of in charge of where they go and I don’t actually have to see them in order to control them.
“You’re being very cautious, too cautious, you don’t have to be so cautious.” I was being terribly cautious, I was watching my feet, trying to calculate my steps and orchestrate my movements hoping to get them right. But as soon as I stopped looking at the floor and my feet, as soon as I took a chance on dancing a step instead of achieving a correct position, I was able to really move across the floor. No, the movements do not look that great, I can readily see that, but there is more fluidity and I can feel the movement in my body. My brain may not get it but my body is starting too! I realize that I am no longer worried about watching my feet and my chin does not want to immediately hit my chest so that I can look down. I’m just going and its starting to feel like dancing.