Irene Hsiao

Things that Suck in Ballet Class


1. When everyone else is jumping to fifth, and you’re vigorously jumping to second (no way to cover that up).
2. When you are standing in the front line but don’t know the combination and have to look in the mirror to watch the person behind you, who is standing behind you because she doesn’t know it, either.
3. Turning out.
4. Pirouettes (fuck them).
5. Turning of any kind: your body says yes but your eyes say no, no.
6. When the teacher says “repeat” at the barre, and you are not sure if that means “front-back” or “front-back-front-back,” and you and the person in front of you turn and start the left, and then you’re staring awkwardly at the person behind you, but if you turn to the first side, you’re staring awkwardly at the person in front of you, and then you either stick to your guns and end up doing one side three times and the other side one time and are now incorrigibly uneven, or you keep flipping (ahem — performing soutenus) back and forth and do both sides an unsatisfactory and pathetic 0 times through — this one is complex, but I think you know what I’m talking about… of course that can also be an intense moment of eye contact/shared experience, if only the other person would go there with you.
7. When you start the combination to the left and mysteriously discover your body inexorably committed to going to the right again.
8. Ronds de jambe en l’air: what are those for, who likes to look at them, and why are they so uncomfortable?
9. When you are having a White Swan moment but the accompanist decides to play a polka for adagio instead
10. Somehow everyone else decided to wear all black and you decided it was time to bust out your traffic cone orange bellbottom unitard for the first time (please note that this one only happens in my head. I always wear black for precisely this reason. And I always like to see what Hanna Brictson, Sharon J. Kung, Natalie Dowling, and Sarah Olson are wearing)
11. Having to pee, ever, during anything, according to Kelly Eileen (no longer a problem for those of us who have decided “dehydration” is a myth).
12. Eli Tamondong brings up the petit allegro that isn’t fully demonstrated but only described using the “vocabulary” – and you’re trying to figure out what the heck is going on but all you see are the advanced students adding beats to everything or others just doing the hand gesture marking thing — (Right — can your hands teach my hands how to do this dance???)
13. Eli also makes note of that moment during barre when the teacher says stretch and the two people on either side of you go right into the splits, and you’re just like, “cool I’m gonna lay here and rest for a second” (honestly, this is when I would go to the bathroom when I used to drink water, unless Donald White or Tyrone Boyle was playing, and then I would do a butterfly stretch and weep because music is so beautiful). Kelly Eileen says that she is one of those assholes whose crotch is always showing (PARTY SPLITS!!) but we love her anyway.
14. Eli, on fire: that awkward moment at barre during an exercise where you move forward or back and you accidentally grab the hand of the person on the other side of the barre. or when the two of you can’t figure out a system of where to place your hands during the exercise (agreed; that is so uncouth)
15. Mary Garcia Charumilind says, “When you are testing your balance at the barre while wearing a ring and every time your hand goes back down it clinks really loudly?” (but we bitter spinsters have no idea what this is like, and anyway we are clenching the barre too hard to ever find out)
16. Tutus: are they even skirts??? I’m pretty sure that clothing that does not cover your ass does not fall into that category, even in public school (though I bring it up myself, I am kind of conflicted on this point, since I’ll still put one on whenever possible).
17. Laura Henry: When teachers say one thing and demonstrate another (v. annoying! #6 is a variant of this — but what I genuinely hate so much it makes my head want to burst is when teachers interrupt their demonstration with commentary every six seconds (or at all). I am like, Brain does not compute!! What is “ONE! pirouette, and don’t forget that whenever you are turning out with one leg, you’re turning out with the other leg, too, and keep your butt down, and engage the lats with your arms directly across from your sternum, (three four) tendu tendu, and when you tendu keep your heel coming forward and brush the floor, and when you face croisé that means the body is crossed, but that’s just a side note because this is en face, (five six) plié and sous-sus (seven eight), but don’t sous-sus without crossing the heels, and try, if you can, to look more Russian before you TWO fouetté from a preparation that was from 4th — by the way, some people like 4th with a straight back leg; some people like it bent — you can decide, but I like it straight because it puts you over your standing leg and Balanchine was a God — and he was also straight — SEVEN pas de bourrée to tour or step-up turn, dancers’ choice” meant to describe???? (I honestly cannot get combinations at all unless they are spoken from start to finish, rhythmically (NOT with counts! Cannot count either!!), with spatial demonstration, and we get to mark with music (or just show me with music (like fifteen times), and I’ll probably get it (do you feel this, Julien Christopher, Marc Macaranas, Hannah Chazin, Emma Tehrani, Alex Cornacchia, Adia Sykes??)) (sorry, Molly Diemer; I hate not getting to do a mark with music — I mean, I view it as a challenge!! — and also, there is a big risk that I think we’re going to be Woodland Sylphs About to Kill a Man, and the accompanist thinks that we’re going to be Depressed Romanian Circus Acrobats on Strike, and that disconnect is also distressing at times, right, Sharon J. Kung, Daniel Berkman, Ben Juodvalkis??).

[Somewhat revised from this Facebook post of 22 April 2016]


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This entry was posted on May 3, 2016 by and tagged , , , , .
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