What's better than doing contortion with 10-year-olds?
Doing ballet with 6-year-olds.
I recently asked my coach if she had any suggestions for dance classes in Ulaanbaatar. I know it's one of my weaknesses as a performer and figured it would be a nice thing to focus on as I'm letting my lower back heal from an injury I sustained over the summer (no contortion for a few weeks! Only handstands, juggling, and now dance classes) My coach called up one of her ex-students who then went on to attend a dance academy and now owns a studio that teaches contortion, hula hooping and dance. She invited me to come over to her studio whenever and she would teach me ballet.
My coach, Bilgee, helped me find the place, and good thing. We wandered through a few building before we found the correct cement staircase, then wandered around a dimly-lit hallway until we found the correct door. Upon opening the door, we found an expansive and well-lit studio with hard-wood floor and a large mirror. The students from the morning class were rehearsing their choreography - they were doing advanced partner contortion poses and highly technical hula hooping routines.
Like at our studio, she has a morning class and an afternoon class, and the students attend whichever works with their school schedule. I arrived during the hour-long break between groups, so she led me through some barre work, correcting my form along the way. She is a lovely archetype of a ballet teacher - she smacked my bum to remind me to tilt my pelvis and flicked my shoulders to remind me to pull them down. A very friendly and vibrant young woman and she is very committed to the aesthetics of classical ballet. We jogged to warm up and we even had to jog like a ballerina: on our toes, with our shoulders down and back.
She pulled over one of the students to demonstrate some leaps and turns. The coach told the student that I spoke Mongolian, told me that this students was "very good" and assigned the student to teach me correct form. At seven years old, this girl was the senior student of the class and she took her role very seriously. She made sure to correct my toe point and tap my upper back when I wasn't holding my posture correctly. If I got the end of the floor without doing enough turns, she told me "two more." While she was very focused and straight-faced, I realized that I had a goofy grin on my face - I was happy to be working on ballet, which is very good for me, I was excited to be in seeing another studio with a group of talented young girls, and I was tickled about being drilled by my 7-year-old coach.