We broke up for Summer Shutdown last week, so an entire 6 weeks without a ballet class. Obviously I’m keeping myself busy with online classes, via Sleek Technique, and learning Benesh notation, but I wanted something else that I can do from the comfort of my own home. So, I looked into a few ballet workout books, that you can buy online, and came across two that I ordered and have had a quick ‘once through’ on some of the exercises. The two that I went for was ‘Ballet Beautiful’ by Mary Helen Bowers and the New York City Ballet Workout’ book. Both of them came very highly recommended, so that I’d give them a go. I’ll do a proper review of them both as soon as possible, but on first impressions, I’m really happy with my selection. Both books look great!
‘I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to dance better than myself’ – Mikhail Baryshnikov
I have decided to teach myself the basics of notating ballet, using a technique called the Benesh method.
I was looking for something that I can do, to ‘keep my hand in’ whilst my regular ballet classes have 6 weeks off over the Summer holiday period, and was introduced to the Benesh method via the Royal Academy of Dance website.
It is a method of notating ballet choreography in a similar was a musician notates a piece of music with a musical score. In fact, there are some big similarities between writing music and notating ballet. Both use a 5 line ‘stave or staff’, both are written in musical bars, and both use various symbols to represent what the player ‘musical or balletic’ is to do.
The positions of the hands, legs, direction of head, movements, stage directions, etc are represented, in graphical form, for ease of practice and accuracy.
Benesh notation plots the position of a dancer as seen from behind, as if the dancer is superimposed on a stave that extends from the top of the head down to the feet. From top to bottom, the five lines of the stave coincide with the head, shoulders, waist, knees and feet. Additional symbols are used to notate the dimension and quality of movement. A frame is one complete representation of the dancer.
A short horizontal line is used to represents the location of a hand or foot that is level with the body. A short vertical line represents a hand or foot in front of the body, whereas a dot represents a hand or foot behind the body. The height of the hands and feet from the floor and their distance from the mid-line of the body are shown visually. A line drawn in the top space of the stave shows the position of the head when it changes position. A direction sign is placed below the stave when the direction changes.
It’s an incredibly interesting aspect of ballet, that adds a whole new aspect to my introduction to this incredible art form. The Benesh method is certainly something that I would like to continue my education in.
My ballet school closes for 6 weeks over the Summer Holiday! Oh my word, what on earth am I going to do????
Fortunately I still have my online ballet classes, via Sleek Technique, to do, but I am so going to miss the weekly routine of packing my ballet bag and driving off to my class.
Rumours have it that one of the teachers sometimes runs a holiday class over the Summer months, with all differing abilities, but this hasn’t been confirmed yet. Fingers crossed it will happen otherwise I am going to be ridiculously underpracticed by the time the new term starts.
Some of the other adult ballet dancers that I speak to, from different parts of the country/world are also having this happen to them, and some of them are even going to the lengths of hiring their individual studios, bringing in their own music and having a ‘class of their own’. Not sure that this would be possible with where I dance, so if the Summer class doesn’t happen, then I will just have to make do with ‘home study’.
Maybe I could learn a new (and additional) ballet skill??? Like ballet notation, possibly……
We had out Tunic/Tutu Tuesday at class yesterday and it was such good fun! It was really lovely to get dressed up in character outfits and take class. I’ll be honest, it did add another level of difficulty, mind you. What with having to worry about cuffs and sleeves and coat tails. And it was considerably warmer with additional clothes.
I totally sympathise with professionals who dance in full costume now. I remember when I saw Swan Lake in The Round, how much tougher it was for the dancers when they came out in full costume. It was hot, and tough enough, when they were dancing with less clothes. I can only imagine what sort of effect it has when you have to ‘kit up’.
But, it was such fun, and everyone joined in! I’m looking forward to the next one already, whenever it may be.
When I used to rock climb, I would always seem to climb better with new shoes on. Rock climbing shoes, similar to ballet shoes/slippers, are purpose-built and technically designed to work with your feet to provide the best support necessary for you to execute specific moves.
Now, call it psychosomatic, but it always did seem to have a more positive effect, and I am finding that in ballet too. I find that if I dress like a dancer, think like a dancer and act like a dancer, then eventually I will be a better dancer. ‘Self-fulfilling prophecy’ and all that!
I don’t really care if I’m the only one in the class that is wearing a ‘ballet uniform’ of sorts. I don’t care if I’ve only been dancing for 6 months but have gone out and bought warm-up pants, or specific ballet clothes, where a tracksuit and tshirt would probably suffice. I guess it’s that if I feel I ‘look the part’, then I’m going to feel better about myself, and in turn dance better, because I’m not worried about what I’m wearing.
I guess a lot of it goes back to being a kid, where I may not have had the most expensive pair of trainers, or the coolest bag for school, or the ‘right’ type of pencil case, or whatever was ‘socially important’ (sic) back then. Well now, being an adult, and having an income where I can spend it on (to a certain extent) where I like, I can go out and ‘splash a bit of cash’ on some new ballet gear. And hey, if it makes me feel better about myself, then who am I to argue?
The ballet class I attend, is having a ‘Tutu Tuesday’ on the 12th July. And being the only guy in the class, I am having a ‘Tunic Tuesday’ instead! This is the outfit that I’ll be wearing.
Have decided against the white ballet tights though, as I hear that they can be rather revealing, and I’m not sure I’m quite ready for that just yet. LOL. I’ll leave that to the pros!
Being a typical ‘Pay-day Millionaire’ I went out and splashed some cash on some new ballet gear. I’ll do a proper review for this kit, but I’m all excited now, as I have new clothes, etc, and wanted to share! 🙂
I bought myself a pair of Intermezzo Panraimez warm-up pants, a pair of Bloch warm-up boots in black, the Bloch large, black Messenger Bag and a pair of black Intermezzo Pantalpie footed tights. These are the first pair of footed ballet tights that I’ve ever bought and honestly wouldn’t go for anything different now. What a difference!