You May Think You Know What A Ronde’ Is…..But You DON’T!!!

Alrighty.

I have a theory.  This theory is that women have, naturally, in their day in life, in their brain, about, or approximately 50,000 more words then men.

Therefore, I have LOTS to say.  And it is building up, like a river behind a dam.

And so be warned!  This is a verbose and labirnthine post.

Heh Heh Heh….And as that smart and evanding man never explained the meaning of a plethora:

pleth·o·ra

/ˈplɛθərə/ Show Spelled[pleth-er-uh] Show IPA

noun

1.

overabundance; excess: a plethora of advice and a paucity of assistance.

2.

Pathology Archaic . a morbid condition due to excess of red corpuscles in the blood or increase in the quantity of blood.
Um…I will go with the first definition. 🙂
Okay, back to a somewhat coherent semblance of a blog post….???
Yes, Ronde’ it means one thing in Ballet (probably more) and something VERY different in Ballroom.
I do this step with Ivan and I notice I don’t look “right” or “good” doing it.  We have Marieta demonstrate and, after a bunch of practice, I am still left marveling at her beauty, and grace, and sexiness.  I can’t, for the life of me, emulate it.  Part of it is because my idea of “ronde'” and her idea of the same step are wildly, expressively, sensually different.  My muscle memory, aligned with my social norm inhibitions prevent me from really expressing this step, named with the same name, as it is supposed to be danced within a ballroom context.  Indeed, she told me not to do it so much like a ballerina.  I do a ronde’ slow and smooth while she whips her leg around, contracts her sides, plays with the timing to make some parts quick and sharp and other parts more drawn-out.  Yes, I guess they are grossly the same step but in the nuances they are two very different things.
This got me to thinking, especially after taking a ballet class Sunday morning.  I showed up, in my scruffy clothes, hoping for the best (which I actually got) and preparing for the worst (a class of semi- or pre-professional stick-thin experienced ballet dancers with combinations much too complicated for me to perform) after not dancing ballet in years.  But here was my notice.  Here was my epiphany:  The instructor simply said this or that and I knew the terminology.  I knew what she was asking.  I knew to pull my tailbone down and pull my ribs up.  I knew to keep my knee facing outward all the way through ron de jombe.  I knew the arms, and variations.  I knew to keep my foot not only pointed but fanned.

Батман тандю вперёд

By Ivanishkin (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

And, here’s the kicker, I did not have to think about any of this.  I simply accepted it as the basic level of participation.  That someone would know this if they entered a ballet class because I consider myself as a person at the very beginning because of my physical shape (or lack thereof).  I’d absorbed all this knowledge from the years of dancing it and it was so ingrained that even after a break of a few years I could recall it.  I imagine that there are just as many details already present in Ivan and Marieta, and Inna and Artem for that matter, in their dancing because they have absorbed it so completely after so many years of dancing that they don’t have to think about certain things.  They are just givens.  But for those of us who didn’t grow up in this practice, we have to consciously focus on each individual detail, one at a time, through the slow process of integration into our body, muscle memory, and dancing so that they become unconscious.
But the interesting thing that I observed was that all these little details I take for granted, that are simply present already, well, the beginners in the class have NO idea about most anything I’ve mentioned.  Just to remember the positions is a big accomplishment.
Much less how to spot.  Much less understand why plie’ is so important.  Much less do a chene’ turn.
I am in awe of these students.  And it has helped me gain some perspective on my journey as a ballroom dancer trying to figure out a ronde’.
I am in awe of the beginners’ willingness to learn, and be wrong, and look “bad” and all that stuff.  I am inspired by their willingness to work and try.  They are my teachers and mentors.
I am so sincere in this.  I see how they work, and struggle.  I see everything wrong with what they are doing (well, c’mon now….it’s easier for me to see their flaws than my own, which, of course, are many!!!!) and yet, they are there, present, 100%.  They are open and willing and working and earnest.  They don’t already “know” anything.  They just want to absorb what they can.   I LOVE it.  They are beautiful to me….even if their sickled feet may not be….I can see the distinction between the heart behind it and the technique.
My ego is so ready to see their flaws and yet, and yet…. my heart is open to the loving lesson they are demonstrating to me.  You see, I have an issue with perfectionism, with being hard on myself.  These thoughts I have about them are projections of my own fears of how poorly I am moving, seeing all that is wrong with my technique.  To a point this is a valuable skill as a dancer because only by identifying areas of weakness can they be improved upon.  If you are not even aware that something is amiss, you won’t change it.  But on the flip side, I am also encouraged by the fact that I can see these positive aspects in them as well.  That I can see their openness and willingness and passion and desire.  That is actually a big step for me, seeing the positive too.  These lovely people are teaching me just by being present in class alongside me and being in their process.  I am thankful.
So I guess the trick is letting go of what I already “know.”  Because I don’t really know what a ronde’ is.  It can mean different things in different contexts.  But only by being open to the different expression, letting go of what I think I know, can it be experienced and shared in multiple dimensions.
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3 thoughts on “You May Think You Know What A Ronde’ Is…..But You DON’T!!!

  1. Marian Condon says:

    Another winner, Stef! Keep ’em coming! I’m off to our lesson cum party night, ready to boogie!

  2. Paragon2Pieces says:

    great epiphany! when i first started with ballroom (feels like yesterday btw) i reached a point where my frustration was boiling over and took a day off to go to ballet class. had a very similar experience to you!

  3. A very timely topic for me, Stef, as I have a coaching session scheduled on Thursday with an Arthur Murray pro named Agnes something-Polish-sounding. I’ve see her in a video and she is awesome; has done very well in pro competition. I’m looking forward to the session, but am doubtful that it will prove worth the $$. The first time I had coaching, I was a beginner and it was a total waste. I was not sufficiently proficient to execute much my TEACHER was trying to get me to do, let alone a coach. I see that one strictly as a money-maker for my studio and have made my peace with that; they all gotta eat. This time, however, I’m hopeful that Agnes will suggest something that will be helpful to me, as I’ve been dancing for a year and four months. I’ll keep you posted!

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