Here we are, smack dab in the middle of the 2008 summer course. My classes are all doing well--- the adult beginners are making great progress and haven't stormed out in frustration (or boredom) yet, which makes me feel great! My goal is just to make them feel they've gotten a good grasp of some basics of ballet technique, learned some new steps and terminology, and gotten a bit of a workout at the same time. The fact that they're still coming to class twice a week gives me hope that those goals are being met... And they're definitely looking stronger and more confident, which is great.
I've been reading a book about "a day in the life of the human body", which essentially takes you through just that--- a description and explanation of what happens to you physiologically throughout the day, from the moment you wake up until you go to bed at night. (Haven't had much reading time this summer, so I'm still stuck on mid-morning). The chapter I'm in right now goes into much detail on what your brain struggles to do when you force yourself to focus on more than one thing at a time. The chapter addresses "dual-tasking" in situations like driving while talking on a phone, etc., and explains that the different parts of your brain (which control different functions) end up firing away like mad, all jostling for prominence. In the end, the bottom line is that no one is truly good at doing more than one thing at a time. You can get better with practice, but it's because you are really just switching from task to task back and forth very quickly.
I wish we could plug a brain-reader into a dancer taking class, doing barre exercises. Talk about dual-tasking--- I have no idea how many thoughts are trying to get sent to the body all at once. A translation of the brain activity might go like this:
"First position, feet flat, wide, inhale, pull up, stretch, rotate... breathe, plie, arm, ouch, lift, up, tendu, left hip... soften, 5, 6, 7, 8, bend up, reach again, burn, 1, 2, cross, squeeze, tendon feels weird, balance, lift... I'm sore...what rehearsal do I have first?... hot in here... cross fifth, plie, lift, balance, pull up, push down, phew... "
And on, and on. You can see why the rest of life fades into the distance during class each morning. There's no room in your head for anything else!