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Monday, June 10, 2013

Rigors of a ballerina : The beginning is usually the hardest

I am having my holidays now! Unfortunately,that does not mean that it is an absolute luxury to do whatever I want. I have a tendency to feel guilty when I sleep too much and really cannot control the number of hours I sleep. Lately,having so much free time on hand,I was able to do more research about my hobby:


Ballet



It was something I used to do in my primary school days,but I stopped right before I took my grade 5 exam because of PSLE. Heck,I was also suppose to perform! But I didn't continue after my PSLE. Then it went on until last year,when I decided that I want to dance again. I did a bit of dancing while in secondary school because my secondary school wanted us learn more than just studying alone,so I chose street dance with my friends. And of course,we did a short performance in school with Black Eyed Peas song that made the audience call for an encore. Hey,I think it's pretty good to have the whole school gathering to watch you,some even leaning over the railing to call for an encore y'know!

With my ex-teacher's words echoing at the back of my mind: "Keep that head up high! Poise! Tuck your bottom in! BOTTOM IN! Turn out!",I went on and started learning once again. Hopping right into intermediate foundation class,I am now on advanced foundation. I am just one step away from going en pointe! And that makes me really excited,yet frustrated at the same time. I think I am a perfectionist and also a very impatient person. I took more than 10 years to attain my diploma in Guzheng and yet I somehow expect myself do ascend quickly in ballet with what,less than a year? Non non non,that's not that way. But I simply can't help it. I gawk at my friends who can lift themselves up so effortlessly,and can't help but wished that I can do the same!

I often watch YouTube videos and here's a few that I would like to share with you! First of all:
First Position

This movie features some of the most talented young dancers in the world as they compete for ballet scholarships. It is about a love of dance and a drive to succeed that trumps money, politics and even war.

In case you wonder how much effort is put into a performance,that number of hours of training apart from years perfecting your technique,here's another video of how ballet teachers coaches ballerinas before they send them out to perform for audiences from all around the world.
Royal Ballet in rehearsal: The Nutcracker

Répétiteurs Jonathan Cope and Lesley Collier coaches the Royal Ballet dancers Fumi Kaneko and Nehemiah Kish in the Sugar Plum Fairy pas de deux from Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker.

You know,I have often heard horror stories about going en pointe can result in leg injuries such as bunions and chipped toe nails,but I was not prepared to hear some girl breaking her ankle due to insufficient training. And she couldn't dance anymore afterwards. Or this,hearing your feet crack and you wondered what happened. I had a minor injury awhile back,for over-splitting. If I'm not wrong,it injured my piriformis muscle (muscle at the hip). I asked my fellow friends who dance and some said it took a few days,some said it took more than a year to fully recover. Mine thankfully,recovered within a few weeks. But I cannot do my grand battement(high kick)without the fear of pulling that muscle.

Worst of all,today I just found out that I may not be cut out for ballet after all. My arch isn't perfect! By arch,I meant this:

Most people have normal arch. But I often seen ballerinas with high arch,which makes their feet really beautiful when they go en pointe. People with normal arch can try to push with the help of an arch stretcher,which costs hundreds of dollars.

But there is only so much you can push. Needless to say,a flat arch will have more difficulty. "Then won't this mean that you have to somewhat be a born-ballerina?!" I exclaimed in disbelief when my friend told me this. She merely smiled and shrugged. I heard from them that the Russian ballet sets very high criteria in their selection for ballerinas to enter their ballet school,to the extend of getting them to x-ray their bone density. Wow,impressive. I suppose you really have to be the best,or a born-ballerina to get into the Russian ballet school! When I research on the authenticity of that,here's what they say on wiki:
The audition process is divided into three sections.
  • Aptitude: to assess the candidate's proportions, height of jump, degree of turnout and general appearance etc.
  • Physical: an examination by a specialist medical practitioner to assess the physiological possibilities of the candidate
  • Artistic: to assess the candidate's musicality, rhythm, co-ordination and artistic talent
-Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet
Without a nice arch,you will look like this somehow:

But with a nice arch:


And when you dance,it makes a world of difference. Now,after reading all that,you should know which one has got a better arch.



Well,my thoughts after doing all these research? I am passionate about it,I look forward to ballet class each time and tried to persevere. But now,I am considering to give up ballet already. Just on the fence,you know. You might say it's stupid but hey,no doubt it is a lot of work and rigor to perfect my technique. I am not sure if I am up for it. Even after having 3 leotards,3 ballet flats and 2 tights,I now do have my doubts about my capability to dance. And it is my last ballet class next week before ballet term break for two weeks. Yes? No? What do you all think?

A very recent episode of Tuesday Report on Senior ballerinas going en pointe:

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