The Advanced class is described as: "The sixth year we have learned how to do everything on Pointe and have learned how to execute all of the steps. Classes are now four to five days per week (2 hour classes). This year we start to really learn how to perform and must remember lengthy combinations. We also learn to dance with pain if necessary."
I was very nervous. It always helps when you have a friend there, though, and I did. I had two: Kathryn (another returnee like me) and Brittany (a brand new dancer, only 2 years in). But I was still nervous. Brittany had already been to the class once; we were supposed to go together Tuesday, but I missed it because I had to sign the lease. So it was my first time in. As we're sitting on the floor stretching, Kathryn sees my nude fishnet tights and starts to laugh. She says, "You remember Michelle, right?"
Michelle. The toughest teacher you will ever have. She pushes you hard and isn't afraid to tell you exactly what you're doing wrong. In front of the whole class. In a loud and clear voice. For example: she walks in, sees me, and says, "Hi." But not with a smiley face at the end, with a question, like, why the fuck are you in my class. Then, when we're doing plies, she says, "Those are the only tights you could find?" And I blush and say, "My pink ones were dirty." (A lie. They weren't dirty, I just like to look different from everyone else.) Or what about this: I overhear her asking Brittany very pointedly, and loudly, "What are you going to do about pointe? Who's going to give you the beginning pointe lessons? Because I'm not." Michelle is slim on the compliments, but I like it because when she actually says "good" you know she isn't blowing smoke up your ass.
Considering I had to learn all the combinations on the spot, I didn't do too badly. We didn't do any pointe. When she asked me about my dancing experience, I said, "I've danced on pointe for about 4 years, but that was almost a decade ago." I'm not sure she believed me about the decade thing. I'm not sure what I'll do when that day comes. By the end of class I was sweating hard and my calves and feet were exhausted. But I felt accomplished. I felt challenged. I felt like I had something to work for, something I didn't feel in the other classes. Part of that, I'm sure, is because of Michelle. I am so excited to improve my dancing because I am in love with ballet. I think I enjoy it more now than I did before.
On my way out, Michelle asked me not to wear my tights again, "They should be pink."