Chapter 11 – D’oh

I have made soooo many mistakes in my ballet journey, and now I have discovered another one.

Just to recap.

Despite recommendations from my old dance teacher and someone at work, I decided not to attend the main dance centre in the city.

The reason why? Well, even though I had only been dancing for maybe 4-6 months as an adult, I was determined to get on pointe. The problem with the dance centre was that they didn’t offer pointe.

Yep.

Well, I discovered this past Monday that that isn’t true.

*Sigh*

I am proud to say that I pulled myself together and attended the Monday morning class at the dance centre.

Halfway through the class the teacher said „if anyone wants to stay back after class, I am going to teach pointe for about 20 minutes“

What????? I couldn’t believe my ears.

I actually asked again when the class finished if that is what she said.

I didn’t have my pointe shoes with me, so I asked if I could stay and watch.

Well only one girl was able to stay behind, so I suggested that I could do the exercises alongside her but on flat.

We did slow elevés and some relevé eschappés at the barre. Even though I try to do similar combinations at home, something about doing it in a class setting really made me feel it more.

It was also so nice having class in the morning. I was energised, not tired like I often am during 8:30pm class.

The only thing though was I was so sore the next day. I am not sure if it was from class, or something else, but my lower back really hurt in one spot. Like, if something had punched me there.

I decided not to go to uni class……again…

My excuse was my lower back. I really didn’t want to hurt it anymore and have to miss my RAD class.

Well, despite my best efforts a storm almost stopped me from going to my RAD class anyway. All trains were cancelled.

My lovely partner left work early and came to the rescue by driving me to class.

It was a really good class. I felt really in control

I also hit a couple of balances that I missed last week.

Our „exam“ has been set for the 18th February, so I have about a month left to prepare.

In other news, I have been thinking about concentrating on getting my splits again.

I want to get them to improve my grand jeté. Mine looks so pathetic.

I want to hit that 180 degrees. That must feel so good.

Hope you all had a great week!!

Advertisements

Chapter 10 – Good Days, Bad Days

It was really hard for me to find my motivation this week.

I think I really have the winter blues.

It might be the fact that I have gone back to uni to do my masters, 7 years after my bachelor. I feel like I am doubting everything.

I turn 30 this year and I don’t have anything really figured out. I chose a really hard industry to get into, and this will be my last go at getting into it. If I finish this degree and I still don’t find anything in my industry… then I have to think about changing direction.

Thinking about all this made me feel so anxious to the point of being physically sick.

I know I should count my blessings, I am extremely fortunate. But, I just got really inside my head this week.

So, I didn’t go to uni ballet class this week.

I did go to my RAD classes on Thursday, though. Even though the discovery of a WWII bomb in the area almost prevented me from getting there.

This time I didn’t wear my demi pointes.

Some things in class were a lot easier, like balances where I have to find my centre quick. But some things were harder. I wobbled a lot. I guess I just got used to the larger demi pointe surface.

We are hopefully going to be getting new leotards for the class next week and I am so excited!!

I feel like a lump in our current leotard. It is made from cotton and makes my body look so one dimensional.

It looks good on the 14 year olds that are stick thin.

Lets hope the next one is more appealing. I wish it had high leg lines, but I don’t think the teens in the class would go for that.

I felt pretty weak in class this week. I have been messing up my eschappé battus for at least the last 8 months. I remember when I first learned them they were so easy. I was shocked at how easy this beat was. Now it just doesn’t happen. I feel like I try to move my legs apart before they are allowed to beat. I am not letting them ricochet off each other.

It is something I need to work on, but my stamina is just non existent for practicing jumps over and over again.

But, in contrast, I felt really strong practicing pointe at home. I have been focusing on my eschppés because they are pretty much the only thing in the exams.

So, I don’t know. Some days i’m strong, other days i’m weak…..

I am hoping to be in a better headspace next week and try out a new class on Monday.

Let’s see..

Hope you all had a good week!

Chapter 9 – Spinning and Winning

 

I fell down an internet rabbit hole the other day. It started with browsing instagram when I saw a video of a figure skater nailing one of those crazy spins they do.

That led me to youtube, which led me to watching videos of Evgenia Medvedeva, which led me to wonder „how on earth is she not getting dizzy?“

All this led me to this video:

 

I actually have one of those boards he is using. Mine is a bit smaller, and I never really used it. I just couldn’t get comfortable with it.

I can’t actually put two feet on mine, but I improvised and put a round ikea chopping board on top.

Using my ballet barre, I gave myself a push and managed to wobble around whilst spotting my head.

I tried again and again and again. It is actually really fun. Before I knew it, I was doing doubles and sometimes a triple. Keep in mind I am standing on two feet, but it was so incredible to get the feeling of what everyone else must get. The feeling of going spot, spot, spot.

The good thing about this board is that it is stuck to the ground. There isn’t a chance for it to suddenly get out from underneath you like those turn boards.

Speaking of turn boards though, I did order a cheap one from China off ebay. It will probably take forever to get here, but maybe by then I will be used to turning fast?

I think getting the feeling of doing multiple turns really helped me during my pirouette practice. My body seems to, hopefully, be learning how to spot without throwing the rest of my body off.

I have to say though, I need to be careful. The back of my neck does hurt a little bit from whipping it around. How on earth do those dancers do it, like Kenzie from my other blog post, without hurting their necks?

After watching all those figure skating videos I got really pumped for the winter olympics this year. I also thought „I wonder if I can maybe take a class? Or at least go ice skating“. My partners reply to that was „I had a patient last night who broke their arm figure skating….“. Yeah, thanks, now I don’t want to go anymore 😛

Can’t wait to get back to ballet next week!

Chapter 8 – The disadvantage of being prepared

There is a picture in my head that I have of the first ballet school I ever attended at the age of 12/13. I remember having a healthy respect for my teachers. I remember trying to do everything they said.

I also remember the time I forgot to curl my hair for our dress rehearsal and the stern words I received. Or the time I had the wrong brand heel and toe taps on my tap shoes.

I miss that a bit.

My current studio is very lenient. The teacher is very kind and lets a lot slip past. Are you still doing your bun while class has already started? No problem. Are you giggling so much that we can’t start the combination yet? We can wait.

It’s great for the younger girls taking the class. I don’t think many of them would come if they didn’t have that type of atmosphere.

I accepted it early on that this was the reality of taking a class with teens.

However, my adultness seems to have me at a disadvantage sometimes.

I already mentioned that our class isn’t doing the proper RAD exam anymore. Well, there is an update on that situation.

One of the girls in the class asked something along the lines of „well, if we aren’t doing the proper exam does that mean we don’t need soft pointes?“

Keep in mind that I am the only one who has been wearing soft pointes consistently all year. The teacher told me we would need them for the exam way back at the start of the year. Along the way another girl got them, but she stopped wearing them after a couple of weeks.

The teacher looked a bit despaired at the situation. I guess she understood that the girls didn’t want them. It would be a bit difficult to suddenly demand they all get them when the exam isn’t far away.

She said something along the lines of:

„I would love you all to have them, but I think it would be silly to have just one person in them. You will definitely need them for intermediate though“

So, I guess I won’t be wearing them for the exam either.

What a pain.

If you have ever worn soft pointes, or indeed pointe shoes, you know the struggle to maintain a balance even on flat.

I guess it will be easier for me to wear ballet flats too. But… I worked so hard!

I can’t help but think of my old ballet school and how if our teacher told us to get soft pointes there was no choice. If she said curl our hair you better god damn curl your hair!

Since my last ballet class of the year I haven’t done too much. I am keeping up with theraband exercises for my feet and ankles. I am also still doing the pirouette practice I talk about so often.

Considering this is my last post before the new year I should probably write down my new years resolution so I can’t forget about it.

My new years resolution for ballet is to focus on strength. Particularly in my ankles and feet.

If what my ballet teacher says is true, and we are going to start RAD intermediate next year… then I need strong ankles and feet for all that pointe work! There is a huuuuge difference between the three pointe exercises from intermediate foundation and the exercises in intermediate.

What are your ballet new years resolutions?

Chapter 7 – The Importance of a good Plié

Why does a Plié have to be so important? It’s actually a bit annoying 😛

When Im struggling with a combination, and film myself I’m always shocked to see that my plié is basically non existent. I’m talking mainly about allegro, but this is true for pointe work as well.

I decided to film myself because I was watching some adult beginners on instagram and I noticed some try to do pirouettes basically from straight legs, or try to get up on pointe with little to no plié. I thought to myself „I also struggle to get up on pointe (particularly during eschappés, my legs don’t seem to have a very wide second), maybe I am also suffering from no plié syndrome.

So at home at my barre I decided to practice the second intermediate foundation pointe barre combination whilst concentrating on my plié. Sometimes if I pliéd too deep, my eschappé was huuuuuuge. This makes sense, because I think the plié size kind of determines the width of the eschappé.

What is really confusing is that the professionals don’t need to plié that much. I think that comes down to the fact that they have more muscle strength and can really use a plié (even if it is small) effectively.

That’s why I love instagram and the adult ballet community. I see myself reflected in them. If I see them struggling with something, I realise I am often struggling with that too.

The downside of instagram is all those amazing 9 year olds.

Whilst I learn a lot from them, I also feel a little bit frustrated with my inability to manage even 1/8 of what they can do.

I know, I know. Don’t compare yourself.

But look at Kenzie Bly:

Lets warm up shall we 😍 @danideedanceschool . . @catballintyne

A post shared by Kenzie 10yrs💗 (run by mum) (@who_is_kenziebly) on

Obviously she works super hard and is naturally amazing…but I am struggling to spot twice. How on earth is she making that look super easy?

Anyway, I can only keep on practicing right?

When I get frustrated with myself I think „well, if I stop practicing I’m not going to get better at all am I?“

In good news, I can say that I finally managed to balance a single pirouette.

Picture this:

But, like, only one wobbly pirouette.

However, back to whinging, what is also frustrating is that I am able to do a single pirouette (not consistently) and balance it, but I can’t get a consistent double.

During uni ballet this week, I was standing next to that girl at the barre, who I’ve mentioned before, that is really good.  Well, I noticed that during a combination where we had to balance at the end in passé relevé, she took a little while to get her balance and take her hand off the barre. Meanwhile I had no trouble hitting that balance. I’m not criticising her, it is just something I noticed.

What I don’t get though, is that she is consistently able to do doubles and sometimes triples in centre. So, I ask myself, what am I missing?

I really think it is my spotting. Also, getting comfortable with going around a second time. After doing singles for so long, I think my body is programmed now to let go after going around once.

When I watch her do pirouettes, it is so controlled and her spotting is amazing (like Kenzie Bly).

My RAD teacher always says, the longer you can hold a relevé passé, the more pirouettes you can do. I think that is obviously part of it. I mean, if you can’t hold the position without turning, how can you be expected to hold it whilst turning?

But it involves so more than that. And that is what I am struggling with.

Ahh, ballet… you were never meant to be easy.

So, to finish off this post I am going to end with this video:

What the hell? That kid is amazing. I want me some of those pirouettes!! I want all of it!!

Hope you all had a good week!

Chapter 6 – Would you rather?

From my experience as an adult beginner, I have taken part in many different ballet classes.

If you have been following my story for a while, you know that I haven’t found the perfect fit for me…yet.

I just can’t work out what I want.

There seem to be the classes that are, for lack of a better word, „easy“

These are the types of classes where I feel under control. I feel in my element.

Then there are those classes that really push me. Everything is just a little bit above what I am able to achieve nicely. I come out of the class feeling either happy that I managed to nail a couple of the combinations, or feeling a bit low because nothing worked.

My ideal course would be one that would slowly build up to harder and harder combinations.

RAD is good, but it is very repetitive. We literally do the same combinations every week. Yes I am getting better at those combinations, but it’s getting a little stale.

I did a similar type of RAD course when I was about 13. It was the Australian version, BAL, and I can’t remember repeating everything over and over again.

What would you rather? A class that is your level where you are in control? Or a class that pushes you to the point where you feel you are just managing to keep your head above water?

You know what I want? I want to be one of those damn Master Ballet Academy students. Have you been watching their youtube or following them on instagram? They are amazing!! Like, they have such flawless technique. I just think „wow“ the whole time I see them.

Apparently they are going to release instructional videos soon.. I will definitely be watching.

I received my leotards from MStevens and I am in love. Having a new leo really makes a difference.

I’m still waiting on my perfectfit pointe inserts.

I am really torn with them.

One of the problems, I feel, of being an adult ballet student with their own money is that I can spend it where I want.

That might not seem like a bad thing, but I think I am susceptible to gimmicky things..

I keep thinking „oh maybe this will help me!“

In the end… I guess it is hard work and practice that will ultimately be the way to go.

At uni ballet this week, I had a bit of an off class. Barre was fine, although it was relatively easy compared to normal. I sucked at centre, but there was one combination that I really felt like I nailed. It involved eschappés and chassés.

But at the very end my teacher told me to make sure I don’t over-cross my feet.

It’s hard sometimes because a critique can be a double edged sword.

On the one hand, it means your teacher is watching you and feels that it is worth telling you because it will make you better.

On the other hand, it can be a bit of a blow. Especially when you think you nailed it.

In my RAD class we have a new girl. She is actually pretty good. Considering she managed to pick up the combinations and execute them pretty well in her first class says something. I’m guessing she is about 14-15.

She said she has been dancing ballet for 11 years.

We are worlds apart. I have been dancing for about 3 and a half years and I am 29.

Gosh there are times when I really wish I didn’t quit ballet as a kid.

Anyway, there is no point regretting the past.

Chapter 5 – umm.. remember me?

You have no idea how often I have thought about this blog. It’s weird, like a virtual friend.

I kept thinking „oh I should tell them about this!“

But I never made the actual steps to writing anything.

What have I been up to?

Apart from going to class I have been busy eyeing things I want to buy.

With Christmas coming up, I feel justified in my purchases…

Here is a list of things I have bought:

– Mstevens leotards (finally! I ordered them straight from company…and they are hopefully on the way to me)
– perfectfit pointe inserts (I’ve been eyeing them for ages and I think I want to give them a go. I am curious. I feel like I want a bit of padding in my gaynors, because I feel like I sink in them a bit, but I don’t want a whole pad)

What I am eyeing:
– The leotards by Claudia Dean (Collections by Claudia.. they look amazing!)

hmmm actually, that doesn’t seem like that much when I look back on it. Maybe it’s because I have also been buying a lot of non-ballet things as well.

Like I said, I am still taking class. I am going to the uni ballet class on Wednesdays, and my RAD classes on Thursday.

Last week, my RAD intermediate foundation class teacher asked if the class would prefer to take a mock exam in front of the head of the school, or wait to take the official exam around easter next year.

The class was pretty happy with taking a mock exam, they said it would be one less thing for them to worry about with school. Plus, they are all pretty bored with the combinations. They have been doing them for about 6 months longer than me.

What do I think?

Well, it kind of feels like I have been studying really hard for an exam at school, and suddenly the teacher says the exam doesn’t count towards our final mark.

In one way I am happy because it does relieve some of the pressure, but I am a little disappointed because I have been working hard. It was one of my goals to see how I faired against the RAD standard.

It would be nice to move onto the intermediate curriculum though. It will definitely be a challenge.

My teacher also asked another question. How would we feel about a new class uniform?

This I could definitely agree on. Our current leotard is a Burgundy colour and it made out of a soft material. The leg line cuts me off quite unflatteringly.

She said she was looking at a plum colour and that she will order a sample so we can see what we think.

Other then that, I don’t think I have been up to too much else.

Hope you have all been well in my absence!