When I was a child I was very normal. And as a normal, Spanish, little girl, I did not speak French.
When I went to ballet class, I used to learn the names of the steps by their sound. Actually, I think I didn’t know it was French, anyway. My mind worked this way: if Mrs. R said tandí*, I quickly pointed my foot. If Mrs. R said yeté*, I did the same, but separating my toes of the ground. No questions.
How could I imagine that those words had a real meaning and that they were in French? Nobody had told me! There’s no way I could know that my tandí was actually a tendu, which means extended; or my yeté, which is really a jeté, something thrown away. This makes things easier to remember, huh?!
It is funny that just some months before I stopped my ballet training, I started with my French lessons at the High School. I realised that I had a deeper knowledge of that new language than my fellow classmates, and most of all, because of ballet. You know, when you’ve heard many times that shanshmán* thing, you freak out when you realise it is spelled changement and it means change… But you don’t find it hard to remember! The same happened with many other steps: my padeshá* didn’t really look like a pas de chat until I knew I was doing a cat step. Same with my beloved padebugué*, which I still remembered when I (re)started a year ago, but I hadn’t realised it was a pas de bourrée. And finally that awesome gran ecar* of which I was so proud! Because, nice reader, there were some lovely times when I could actually do a grand écart! Unfortunately, those times are not here. But French is. And believe me: it’s making ballet easier and more fun (if that is even possible).
So… put a little of French in your lives. Give ballet a chance!
(*) I write the sounds just like I heard them when I was a child; c’est-à-dire in Spanish.