Today I got to sub for a Foundations class. I was asked to about a week ago because the instructor for the class (the studio's owner) was having surgery today. I got there after that class started because I was told more than likely, nobody was coming. One of the seven year olds that takes that class was sitting in the parking lot with her mother in their car. Whoops. I opened the studio (we normally open at 4pm and it was well after 3. After being asked if the class was going on, I said I could teach in my 4pm slot as I was not expecting students until next week. I teach my 17+ ballet at 4 (and then 12+ Lyrical at 5). The mother said that would be fine and I called the manager so the mother could pay over the phone and then the mother went to wait in the car. I actually prefer the parents to not be in the room as I find it to be distracting for the kids. We don't have a hallway or anything, just some beautiful handmade wooden benches that are right on the sideline of the dance floor and sometimes the parents/grands are a little bit...loud. I love them but yeah, it's sometimes difficult working with them right there, sometimes saying things to the kids.
Anyways, I had "A" color for a bit until 4pm hit and then I had her sit on the floor so that we could start with some stretches. I have subbed a class that had her once before, months ago, so it was nice to be able to work with her again (though it was just half of a modern class before, as the instructor was running behind, and this was ballet technique, basically). After some stretching, I had her do some ab work. She is only 7 so it was fairly easy. After around a minute and a half of that,it was time to do some barre so we dragged it to center and got to it! One of the things stressed that I do was to work on getting her to remember some vocab. That was good since I try to do that with my Littles class that her age falls into (my class is 5-8 year olds). I have noticed that no matter how many times I've had my Littles repeat terms after me and no matter how much I say the terms as we're at barre (a lot), it never seems to stick, so I thought I'd try something new today. I wrote out everything we would be working on at barre and center/across-the-floor on the mirror with a dry-erase marker. After I felt she knew that term, I had her find it and cross it off. We were pretty much going top-to-bottom, left-to-right so that was easy enough but I wanted her to see what the words looked like as well.
We started with just foot positions, which she mostly knew. She did get stuck at 4th and did 5th in it's place but I told her we could go 1,2,3,5,4 because to get to 4th, I do find it easier to slide forward from 5th. After she got the feet, I showed her the arms for each, which she hadn't done before. After I felt she had them all down, I crossed that one off because it was too high for her to reach. Then I moved on to plies. We, again, went through all five positions (both hands on the barre...the young ones do that here). Then to help with tendus, I told her to imagine drawing a line in the sand , but had her going ball THEN point the toe. We did these en croix. Then we did degages en croix. Then after both were done, I showed a tendu and asked what it was called and she said "Degage?" so I gently reminded her that degages pop up off the ground. Then I mixed them up, doing a degage back, tendu side, degage side, tendu front (for example) until I was certain she could remember the term to the move. She was excited to cross two things off of the mirror. She was so adorable!
Next was rond de jambes. She said the first two parts right and then was having trouble with "jambe" so I asked what she thought "rond" meant, and I held my arms overhead in 5th. She said "Round!" so I said "Very good! And 'Jambe' means 'leg,' so 'rond de jambe' means 'round of leg'." Then she caught on to what I was talking about and showed me a rond de jambe, so I told her she had it and we did them en croix a terre. Then I went over the difference between a terre and en lair. Once she had those, she crossed them off. We then did battements. I had her say "Batman" and then "Bahtmahn" and she recognized it and we were golden for that one too!
She was really bright, enthusiastic, and had an excellent memory. We were almost finished with barre at that point, and across-the-floor was just as fun. I swear it was! Once we were done with everything I had for class, we had under ten minutes left, so I went over the whole list with her, but this time, I'd point (must resist spelling it "POINTE"!) to a word and have her say it aloud and then demonstrate it for me. Would you believe this seven year old girl got all but one right? I was so happy! I rewarded "A" with a handful of marshmallows once we were done and sent her on her happy little way. I seriously had a blast and I'm certain she did too. I will definitely be using this method in my Littles class.
P.S. This kid's feet were incredible, by the way! When seated on the floor with her legs extended, her toes were nearly on the floor. Flexible feet and strong ankles already. I'm jealous.