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 Bly 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!

Chapter 4 – Not the same Gaynors?

I took my first pointe class since the summer holidays this week. I was both excited and a bit apprehensive because I would finally be wearing my new gaynors to class.

The only time I put them on previously was to make sure the ribbons and elastics were sewn in the right place.

I didn’t want to wear them too much because I didn’t want to dirty them..

However, even just putting them on for those few minutes felt a bit strange. I just assumed it was because I hadn’t worn gaynors or pointe shoes for a while.

However, as soon as I put them on in class I could tell that they just didn’t feel right. My big toes were hitting the box before I even got on pointe.

How could they be too small??

They are meant to be the same size as my old gaynors, except with satin tips. They have the new gaynor code, but why would that make a difference?

I persisted with them during the last bit of class but I felt a bit worried.

We did piques on pointe across the diagonal and I was a bit disheartened. There was a time where I was pretty good at doing them on pointe on my right hand side, but that feels like years ago now.

I won’t even talk about the left hand side.

After class finished I decided to play around with the padding in my gaynors.

I tried them in class with only my toe spacers and the box liner.

Then I tried taking out the box liner and putting in the bunheads pro pad.

Then, to my excitement, I noticed that the class that usually takes place in the other studio wasn’t happening for some reason. So I put on my gaynors and tried pique turns towards the mirror. I actually managed some decent ones on my right side. My left side was hit and miss.

I wish that studio was always empty!

However, I just couldn’t shake the feeling that these gaynors aren’t right.

What is really strange, is that when I got my very first gaynors I was fitted with those thick silicone toe pads. This kind:

I think mine had an even thicker tip than those pictured.

I remember when I decided to stop wearing that padding my gaynors felt biggish… so I started using lambswool and a box liner. All was good.

So what is the problem now?

Well, I contacted gaynor and this is what they wrote:

„We do routinely make small updates to the way our shoes are made, to make sure that the shoes are being made using the most current methods and technologies. Between the satin and suede tips, you shouldn’t feel a difference in the fit of the shoe, since the change is being made to the outside of the shoe. However, depending on when the shoes were made, there may be some slight production differences – but nothing that should really affect the fit of the shoes.“

She asked me to send her the codes underneath the fitting code to see if there were any changes in production.

I really feel like that if I was trying these on in the shop I would have gone up a half size.

I thought that was the point of gaynor… that you can get the same shoe and it will feel the same.

I noticed that the padding at the tip of my old shoes has been pressed down where my big toes were, so maybe if that happens to my new pair than they will feel ok.

Or… do I sell these? or try and see if gaynor will take them back?

Can I wash my old ones and wear them to class in the meantime. They really are too dirty looking to wear them to class at this point:


Plus I pancaked them.

Can I use sandpaper to get rid of the black off the leather?

I can’t remember if I admitted this in my blog anywhere. But I was browsing ebay a while ago and saw some gaynors in the size my fitter originally liked me in. They had a box 3…which I didn’t like. The only difference was that these shoes have a hard shank and I like the worn in shank.

I got them because they were cheap and I thought I could practice in them at home.

Although I never really used them to practice, I did experiment with them in terms of darning and pancaking.

Well, I decided to throw these ones in the wash to see what would happen. Maybe I can do this to my old class ones?

They came out of the wash a few minutes ago, and while they seemed to have survived, the pancaking didn’t budge. They also don’t look a whole lot cleaner…

I sent gaynor minden the codes of my old and new shoes, so I guess we will see what they say.

Have a great week!


Chapter 3 – Getting my Groove back

There are many great quotes about ballet. They talk about the beauty, the passion, and the artistry. However, a lot of them talk about the struggle too.

Take this quote:

„Ballet is a harsh exercise… Unforgiving to those who pursue it“

or this one:

“You have to love dancing to stick to it. It gives you nothing back, no manuscripts to store away, no paintings to show on walls and maybe hang in museums, no poems to be printed and sold, nothing but that single fleeting moment when you feel alive.”
― Merce Cunningham

Do professionals feel this way too? Because I know I feel this way pretty often.

I feel like I am constantly trying and trying, and sometimes I nail something and it is like a light bursts out of me.

During uni ballet this week we had a combination that included a double pirouette straight into a balancé. While I didn’t nail the double, it inspired me to add in a double spot into my spot practice routine at home.

I described this spot routine a long long time ago, but it is an exercise that a teacher recommended to me to practice spotting for pirouettes.

Basically you stand in front of the mirror and you just try to spin around whilst focusing on nothing else but your spot. She used to say that we should pretend we are little children who are just turning around and around.

Well, for the past couple of months I have just been focusing on making a good spot for one turn.

After being inspired by uni class, however, I decided to add in a second spot.

And guess what! It worked!

Our usual teacher was there for uni class this week.

Surprisingly I felt much much better in class. It’s weird. That first week it felt like everyone was speaking a foreign language, but this week I was speaking the language too.

After class another girl, who I kind of know, said that I looked like I had definitely found myself in class again.

Looks like I am on the way to getting my groove back.

Every week since the summer holidays began I have been practicing the Intermediate Foundation exam. I feel pretty confident with most of the combinations, however there is one particular petit allegro combination that is driving me insane.

It is the second petit allegro in centre.

I just can’t seem to coordinate myself fast enough. I can get through it, but it aint pretty.

I also have trouble practicing it over and over again because I just run out of energy.

I made the mistake of filming myself doing it…from the side. Holy crap it looked awful!! Like, truly horrible!!

I feel like this is one of those unforgiving moments that first quote mentioned.

What I decided to do was to play the music a little bit slower to see if I could sharpen my movements.

I tried at half the speed, but that was too slow. So I tried it at 75% and I felt a lot better.

I hope this idea will help, rather than hinder me.

75% aint that much different to 100% right?

I can’t tell if its better to just keep trying it at full speed, or work my way up.

It is times like these that I really really appreciate the art of ballet. How on earth do those Balanchine dancers do it??

Anyway, hope you all had a productive week!