“Get ready to jump!” states a creepy voice at the beginning of the “Petit Allegro 2 – Bats in the Cave” track for jumping on the “Musical Gems” Halloween Ballet CD by Craig Wingrove. I love to play this silly, spooky, whimsical recording for my dance classes in October and am already looking forward to fall-themed melodies.
It’s true that when we are startled or scared, we sometimes spring high into the air, a survival mechanism meant to immediately remove us from a threat. Around Halloween time, it can be hilarious to watch videos of people’s responses to haunted house scares and harmless practical jokes. Some of us love a thrill!
Speaking of leaping, I released my 20th weekly Podcast this week! That endeavor was a big jump outside of my comfort zone, working to distill my ideas into a central theme and then talk about it weekly in an audio recording. I didn’t know how it would go, or whether people would listen, but I decided to take the leap and it’s been a learning adventure so far.
This particular episode, #020 “Sauter, Jumping, and Leaps of Faith” is about jumping, and is the 5th in a series about the 7 Basic Movements of Ballet. The first four were #014 “Powerful Plies,” #016 “Tendus & What it Means to Stretch,” #018 “Relever & Rising,” and #019 “Tourner – turning, rotation, and creative U-turns.” Stay tuned for “Glisser – to glide” and “Élancer – to dart,” still to come!
The podcast is meant to discuss a key theme of inspiration for each week, in as little time as possible, and in a flexible format that one can listen to while doing chores, errands, or taking a walk. There’s something for you if your interest is in ballet technique, dance artistry, yoga philosophy and practice, coaching, or just living a wonderful life.
Now I’d like to translate this audio format into a lovely written blog, for those that prefer to read instead of listen. This way I can link my podcasts (free audio content), YouTube videos (free video content), live classes in-person and on Zoom, special workshops and coaching services all in one place. I have a vision of the blog as a place to share my thoughts and resources in a written format, and also a hub for my online dance, yoga, and coaching studio!
I’ve enjoyed exploring the theme of stable and strong legs this week, jumping, and leaping into the unknown. Right now the birds are migrating, and I’ve seen the Canada Geese organizing themselves by the ponds and riverfront. As humans, the closest we can get to flight, without the help of equipment and additional propulsion, is jumping and leaping. Ballet is known for this near-flight quality, especially portraying supernatural creatures that float like fairies, willis, and so forth, as well as actual birds- the bluebird, “The Fire Bird,” and that classic human-and-bird ballet, “Swan Lake.”
Of all the super-hero/superhuman characteristics one might wish for, my favorite is flight. I adore the wind, dream of soaring, and though I have a reasonable amount of fear about falling from a height, I relish a motorcycle ride, a fast roller-coaster, and the thrill of watching and performing the jumps of ballet. I think this is the impulse behind the love of dance for many of us, that sense of soaring.
Of course, unaided, our flight is more like a controlled fall, and a lot of technique and coordination is required to pull it off. We must thoughtfully build a strong foundation of support, developing coordination and power. We launch ourselves heavenward in the hope that we will be caught again. If you’re interested in working on the physical skills of jumping, I recommend starting with the “Saucy Prances & Sautés” video on my YouTube Channel, as well as the “Legs, Legs, Legs,” “Foot & Ankle Conditioning,” and “Ballet Barre” playlists.
In yoga, we foster a balance between stability and mobility that prepares the body and mind for whatever it may face. Recently, we’ve been practicing stability through the bottoms of the feet for balancing, visualizing planting them into the floor across a “golden triangle” of big toe-little toe-heel, or for those that prefer it, the four corners of the feet, pouring the weight evenly across that surface. Then we build a strong scaffolding of supporting musculature through mindful movement through balancing poses.
This week’s 40-minute practice video, “Happy Knees Stability Yoga” was focused on developing stability for balancing, everyday activities, and athletic feats.
Whether we physically jump or leap, all of us face leaps of faith in life. We can’t always clearly see the road ahead, and must do our best to build a strong foundation and then move forward in the hope that we will be met with a soft landing. If you’d like to explore how personal ontological coaching can assist you with the leaps ahead in your life, schedule a free consultation call with me over Zoom at my Calendly link here: calendly.com/ablythecoach
If you’re reading this blog in real time, I wish you a strong foundation and a spring in your step as we move from late summer into early fall, and any time of year, may you find the resources and support you need. I’m so grateful to be a part of your network, a thread in the net (or indeed or indeed a feather in the wings) that you find when you make your brave leap!
Blythe Stephens, MFA Dance
she/her or they/them
A Blythe Coach: Dance Education & Coaching
move through life with balance, grace, & power