This summer, a handful of students attending summer intensives around the country are sharing their experiences with Pointe. Here, Maddy Graupmann recounts a typical day iat Houston Ballet.
So maybe some of y’all are wondering, “What exactly do the students at Houston Ballet do on a typical day?” Well, let’s see…
It’s Monday morning, and I’m ready for class after having Sunday off. I walk downstairs at 8 a.m. to the 5th floor (just one floor down from where I live!) and check the schedule. “Okay,” I think, “I’m in Studio 540 for technique 9:00-10:45 a.m. with Ms. Sally.” Class starts out fine—I’m a little sore from the break—but then things kick into place and Ms. Sally gives us a long, meaningful lecture on why we need to get our weight up and forward (shoulder blades in line with our hip bones) and also why it is so important to have a strong core. When we finish barre, we do the famous “Ms. Sally crunches” to work on our “less-than-lovely” centers. I love doing the first adagio out in center and listening to the beautiful accompaniment of a live pianist. They always play so passionately, it’s hard to not bring that passion into my dancing as well. Towards the end of class, I feel on fire, and I burst out into an exhilarating grand allegro. It feels so good to travel, and it is so much easier with the impressive amount of space in each studio. After class, we thank both the teacher and the pianist then we throw our pointe shoes on during a 15-minute break. Pointe class with Ms. Sally is generally quite fun. We do a few exercises on the barre to warm up our feet, then we go to the center and immediately do our “8 and 8,” as she calls them: Eight releves on the right leg with the left in coupe and vice versa. It is one of my favorite combinations because regardless of how well I do it, it never fails to show me where my weight is and where it needs to be. We also do “sous-sous echappe,” a combination to work our plie, balance, releves and turns—just about everything! Then, we receive another lecture, this time about how we need to turn out from the top of the legs and shape our feet on pointe. At the end of class we do her slow fouette turns, which are so miserably slow, but teach me a lot about my placement.
Next we have lunch for an hour, where I go upstairs, grab a quick sandwich and then go right back down for pas de deux class with Mr. Munoz. We always have a blast in this class because Mr. Munoz thinks it is very important to connect with your partner, so we get to try out interesting combinations! He also helps us a lot with hip placement in extension.
After that, we run down to the 3rd floor for repertoire. We jump into two full hours of Serenade and the friends dance from Coppelia, where we’ve made it past the learning stage into the cleaning stage. We've run them so many times that I know everybody’s parts! After rep, we go down to the 2nd floor where we find Genie in the shoe room for—you guessed it—shoe class! She tells us all about our pointe shoes and how we can take better care of them, make them last longer and how to tell if we have the perfect shoe, etc. We also get to try on a bunch of surplus shoes, where I find a pair I will definitely try, although I love my current Freeds. After that I go up to the 4th floor to the Pilates room and work on many different Pilates exercises, with and without the machines. I also do Yamuna ball rolling to lengthen and relieve my stressed and tight muscles. Then I mosey my way up to the 6th floor, make dinner and crash! It’s a long day, after all. I need to get my sleep so I have plenty of energy left for the rest of the week. I can’t wait for jazz and modern tomorrow!