The class that I’m taking at the moment is Grade 5, an exam that I passed about 13 years ago, and today I experienced a delightful flashback as we worked on an exercise that was my favourite then (back when I was 15).
It’s called ‘Round the Room Step’ and consists of a chassé temps levé, (a sort of slide, followed by a jump) in first arabesque position (standing on one leg, with the other stretched out behind; the arm on the weight-bearing leg is stretched out in front, and the arm of the pointed leg is stretched out behind), followed by a couple of jeté en attitude devant (two wee jumps in series, with the non-weight-bearing leg held bent in front). It is really hard to explain, but see the pictures below for some help, if you’re a little confused by my description (which would be perfectly understandable!).
You perform the steps over and over again, around and around the room (hence it’s called ‘Round the room step’) and I used to love it because it is quick and big and feels like dancing, in a way that many Cecchetti (the Italian ballet method I dance) exercises don’t. Cecchetti was all about precision, which is good and helpful, but can feel pretty rigid at times, so any chance to fling yourself around the room was pretty appealing to me.
However, now that it’s 13 years later, things have changed.
Basically, I’m not 15 any more, and this is showing itself in a couple of ways: firstly, flinging oneself around the room is pretty knackering and I’m afraid I don’t have the stamina that I once did; and secondly, with old age comes injury, and in particular a really dodgy shoulder. I have a frustrating and painful case of tendonitis in my right-shoulder, and whilst some of the slower and more precise ballet exercises (port de bras and adage) are helpful for loosening the tension and easing the pain, the rather violent and dramatic ‘flinging’ of arms involved in my rather violent and dramatic attempts at the Round the Room exercise this evening haven’t done my dodgy shoulder any good at all.
Sad times for Ellidh.
But despite all of these reminders of the steady trudge towards old age, I’m still really loving the return to dancing.
In summary: suffering for my art.