Ballet.. Ayudarme!

by leighcburrows

Today was the last day of our first week of training here in Valencia. I did a contemporary class which I thoroughly enjoyed, which involved a lot of improvisation and working with other members of the class. Then we went to try a Ballet class. In Falmouth, we do Ballet for contemporary dance, but here there are three separate degree strands which are Contemporary, Classical or Spanish Dance. The students on the classical course study mainly Ballet techniques and have done Ballet for a long time before coming here, similarly the Spanish dance course know Flamenco and Spanish Bolera techniques well and Contemporary dancers have strong technique. This information should have prepared me for the technical level of the Ballet class… but I definitely was not prepared.

We entered the class which seemed very full, and everyone was dressed in their leotard, tights and warm-up clothes. I found a place at the bar and waited for class to begin. I thought I may be able to follow a little more with Ballet because the movement language is french but here it wasn’t. There was a lot of swiftly spoken spanish, a few hand gestures and the first exercise had began. I did not have a clue what we were doing. I felt slightly comforted when after the first exercise, one of the girls pointed out to the teacher that she needs to explain in more detail for the Erasmus students. I thought this would mean slowing down and explaining the exercise, but it didn’t. It just involved her expanding slightly on the explanation, still spoken in fast Spanish, and then onto the next exercise. I did my best to keep up and relied on copying the girls around me but I was relieved when we moved into the centre.

I was never very confident at Ballet having not studied it before I went to Falmouth, but here I just felt uncomfortable as everyone was so strong and technically correct. The centre was not any easier so I took to watching the rest of the lesson. Another girl tried to help me by slowing the exercise down, but I felt to self conscious by this point, thanked her and said I would observe. The rest of the class continued and then it was over. I felt relieved but also disappointed in myself for being so fazed by the whole experience.

This experience made me evaluate how I could have dealt with it better. I think had it been contemporary techniques or a style I felt more confident with to start with, I may have coped better but I have always lacked confidence in Ballet. However, I think that any self doubt or feelings of embarrassment need to be forgotten whilst I train here as I am sure I will feel like this many more times to come. It will hold me back if I am constantly worrying what the rest of the class is thinking about me, when in fact they probably haven’t even noticed and are just getting on with their own training. Whilst I am here, my own training is important and what I can take from the classes. Even if I can’t keep up I take from it what I can and remember that it does not matter what others think in a situation such as todays, and I should have turned these feelings into determination to succeed instead of doubting myself and becoming disheartened resulting in me giving up.

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