When Simple Isn’t Easy

Today we had a substitute teacher for my regular Sunday class.

Ordinarily, one of the things I love about my usual teacher is her ability to encompass the wide range of ability that a ‘beginners’ class usually contains. When you have people just starting out, who may have never danced before, in with dancers who are returning to ballet with a considerable amount of practical experience and knowledge, it’s a real art to make a class that caters to everyone.

Usually my teacher offers up simple exercises, with variations for the more advanced dancers in the class. Many exercises can be done as a ‘double’ or on a rise and so forth.

Today however, the substitute (who we hadn’t had before) was clearly unsure of the ability level in the class. Exercises were very basic, set to a slow tempo and very thoroughly explained. There was no optional advanced variation, although I must admit I snuck a few of my own in there!

But you know what? Simple sure as heck isn’t easy! At slower tempos, every mistake and misalignment becomes glaringly obvious. Positions are held an aching second longer, and shaking legs developpe with excruciating slowness.

In ballet, going back to bare basics is such an opportunity to fine tune. When you aren’t concentrating on remembering the combination, there is time to go through that mental checklist of things that should be pulled in, turned out, pushed down or engaged.

So although I’ll be glad to be put through my paces again with my regular teacher next week, an ‘easy’ lesson is never an excuse to not work hard.

–D. D.



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