Sunday, April 12, 2009


One pirouette was easy to learn how to do. (Pirouette: it's a French word for "spinning top." In ballet it's an act of spinning on one foot, typically with the raised foot touching the knee of the supporting leg.)

I just whirled around. On two feet, then on one, and then, imitating the teacher, with my foot raised, did it a hundred times till I didn't lose my balance. Right away I started trying to do two turns. How many pirouettes you can do, is one of the ways people measure a dancer.

Another student who saw me practicing said "Hold in your stomach and spot." Holding my stomach in, sucking it in I could do two turns, but couldn't ever absolutely totally count on two. Even so, two revolutions could be fudged, not done in relevé (on half toe) -- if you fling your arms strongly, you can turn fast, with the standing foot almost flat on the floor.

"Three" pirouettes eluded me. I wasn't a "technical" dancer. My mind, when I dance is on the feeling. A famous ballerina once told me "You can't ever be sure about a pirouette." Even if you're truly into being "Giselle," you turn off the emotion, and turn on your technique.

I was a rehearser, dancing full out when others marked the steps. I'd rehearse in emotional distractions, figure out what to think about, continually inventing new things to have on my mind, like "catch a firefly," or "push a balloon"--so the technical feat didn't bug me or scare me, as I spotted.

(Spotting: You pick a particular place, point, or position, keep your eye on it for as long as possible as you're spinning, turn your head quickly back to it the moment you lose sight of it.)

But three pirouettes (I'd go for it sometimes on stage) was never safe. I didn't own three. I'd do it for me, the me who loves a challenge. I've tried four when I'm alone in my studio. It's easier to try it competitively when other dancers are pirouetting with you, but I don't ever try to do four in public.

What's all this pirouette talk about? Am I trying to teach you who are reading this, how to pirouette?


I'm talking about four, because I dreamed last week that I was in a room with mirror and a pale linoleum floor like the floor in my studio, and I did four ... in balance, effortlessly, perfect position, "on one leg, with the other at the knee" like the "Basic Principles of Classic Ballet" describes, effortlessly spotting, smoothly spinning.

It was dream. It was glorious. I didn't do four on a stage, but I did it. I know from having done it, four pirouettes is better than three, or two, or one.

I guess I'm writing this because of The Readery. I want you to know, you who are reading my blog, that I'm exulting. My work is out there. I did it -- stopped rehearsing -- doing it over and over -- planning, strategizing, waiting, hoping and praying for something to happen, I just DID IT.

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