Maintaining Your Mojo For Your Online Barre Classes
Do you feel that it’s a challenge to stay motivated for your online ballet class? Are you feeling the frustration of ‘barre only’ ballet classes due to the lockdown? You’re not alone! Our new normal is challenging us in many ways, even when engaging in our favourite activities. Read on for guidance in staying engaged and ballet safe, whilst dancing in your home ‘studio’.
Pay Attention To You
How are you feeling? In your head, in your heart, in the world? As dancers, we express ourselves through movement, so it’s important to understand that how we feel reflects in how we move. The state of our world right now means that emotions we may only deal with in passing are our companions more often than not. Whether it’s anger, sadness, frustration, or anxiety, it’s important to acknowledge that feeling and to be aware that it will impact how you move. Try to allow this emotion to flow through your movements so that it is expressed rather than kept inside. If you don’t feel that you can face class on any particular day, try it anyway. You might begin as though you are ‘going through the motions’ but it often will morph into true enjoyment and an ability to switch off from the rest of the world, much like what happens in the studio. The times that we don’t feel like doing class, are usually the times that we need it the most!
Admittedly, tuning into your ballet self – body and mind – can be quite difficult when in your own home. For many of us, our homes are now our entire world – places of work, play, and social connection, as well as sanctuary and safety. It can be difficult to use your space for ballet, especially when part of the ballet experience is going to the studio. Give yourself time before your next scheduled online barre class. Notice how you are feeling and allow time to tune into your ballet headspace. Adequately warm-up, so that your body and your mind are in sync. Respectfully ask to be left alone by those you share your space with, and have your water nearby and your phone on silent. It’s easy to take these small acts of respect for your ballet self for granted when in the studio, but committing to them in your home is vital in helping you make the most of your class time.
Pay Attention To Your Fundamental Technique
Think of the time that is being spent in your home studio as a blessing in disguise. It’s true that your teacher isn’t able to scrutinize everything you do (!) however use this as a golden opportunity to refine your fundamental technique. The pace of your online class allows time to give greater consideration and care to your work. There are many things that can’t be done in the home ‘studio’ for spatial and safety reasons, but now is the perfect time to maintain strong 5th positions, dynamic plies, and super stretched tendus. If you work with this in mind, the integrity of your basic technique will be intact for when we can be in the studio, dancing freely in the centre, jumping and turning again.
This is a time when, unfortunately, trying a higher level isn’t a good idea, and your teachers appreciate that this can be frustrating. Without being in the studio it isn’t safe to work beyond your current level, as your teacher isn’t on hand to guide you. It’s important that (unless directed by your teacher) you don’t ‘add-in’ or embellish the work that’s given as this can lead to incorrect technique and potential injury. Your technique will be re-established and developed with kindness and care when back in the studio. Remember that your ballet journey isn’t a race – there is no time limit for your achievements, and your teacher will help you to achieve your goals.
Pay Attention To Class Corrections
Whilst the nature of the screen makes it difficult for the normal connection, your teacher will still give corrections for you to work on in your online barre class. All corrections are useful and should be applied, even if it hasn’t been directed to you – think of corrections as gifts from your teacher to help you progress. Try to stay tuned in, take on corrections, and be kind to yourself in the process. Now is not the time to berate yourself for getting something wrong!
Corrections help you to develop your strength and refine your movements. If you feel that you can add in more, try taking a general correction from your previous class into the next one. It might be keeping your elbow lifted in 2nd position, or making sure that your extension devant is in front of your hip and not wandering out to the side. Actively working on that correction throughout your next class, will bring a sense of achievement and help you to feel proactive with your technique. Practicing corrections in the class setting (even at home) is an important skill, so you will benefit from putting this work into your body and brain.
Technology has had a starring role in keeping us (literally) on our toes throughout this pandemic, though there is only so much that a screen can reveal. Try to enjoy the benefits of working at home – even with the challenges of space, children, or pets! Enjoy the flow and stretch of every port de bras, embracing your ballet class, even if the setting is less than ideal. Yes, it’s different, but not all different is bad and nothing lasts forever. The day will come when you are driving to the studio in the pouring rain thinking, “I wish I was doing this at home!”