The Imbalance of Irish Dance

Every time I take my ballet class, I’m reminded that I’m not really a dancer. I’m an Irish dancer who can’t bend her knees very far.

Summer is starting and so now my ballet teacher’s romp around the country to guest teach at different workshops. Saturday was our first day with the summer substitute. She was actually my first ballet teacher ever, since I started ballet last summer while she was teaching. Which means – almost a year in ballet for me! Though, to be fair, I do only go once a week if I’m lucky.

There were only three of us in class, and substitutes are great for switching things up and focusing on different techniques. We did a lot more in fifth position than first position, which is where we usually stay, as well as prepping for standing with one hand on the barre to the side rather than straight on with both hands and the mirror as we usually do. Also – it was a very hard class! Quick movements, jumps, and the end of me: plié into retiré relevé and balance forever. I figured out that I can barely bend my knees because in Irish it is not a thing to have one’s heels on the ground and/or bending the knee except during a trick like a leap. I knew I struggled with the plié, but it’s especially apparent in fifth position. Well, ballet is supposed to help with these imbalances after all!

Another tough part of the class came from center. We usually have maybe 15 minutes in center out of my 75 min class, but this time we had a full half an hour. While I still can’t stand still on my retiré relevé (and I figured out this is because in Irish we’re usually hopping all the time with a still balance lasting maybe 2 seconds), I did finally, finally, FINALLY figure out the waltz step. The teacher was demonstrating it again after another one of my totally failed attempts, when she said “down down up” to signify when one’s heels should be on the ground versus up in demi pointe. Bam! Finally got it! I certainly don’t look graceful and I still don’t know how to use my arms, but it was awesome when that finally clicked and I can now at least keep in time and vaguely correct technique.

Last week was also my traditional set/ceili class. We had a last minute substitution for my teacher so it was a bit difficult for the sub not knowing what we were learning, but I’ve now learned most of Job of Journeywork. I won’t be able to use it at my competition on Saturday, but hopefully I will at the one in July. I also learned that my patience with small children not paying attention is low, and this is why I don’t teach.

Oh yeah, and my new solo dress is ready to bust out at Saturday’s feis!



One thought on “The Imbalance of Irish Dance

  1. Cool dress!
    I go to ballet once a week, too, and it sure helps anyway! You’ll keep getting even better if you keep at it. 🙂
    Especially with plies, not holding on with both hands will help you find your balance.

    Liked by 1 person

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