Week 12 – Kindergarten Teacher by day, Ballet student by night

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Two new things happened this week – I started a new job and I started a new ballet class. This combination makes for a very tired imitationballerina.

Even as I type this blog I keep staring off into the distance.

Sunday’s class was great. I was maybe a little overdressed because most people had comfortable workout clothes on while I had the old black leo, booty shorts and pink tights combination. I don’t care…

We focused a lot on technique and the teacher really reinforced everything I have been reading online. The main things I remember her telling us were to make sure we:
– engage our back muscles and move our arms with the back muscles
– plié with control and not just drop down
– don’t rely on the barre by making sure we are able to take our hand away at any moment and still be able to balance

I really enjoyed the exercises she gave us and the music was fantastic! It was really nice to have a change from my normal ballet class. Plus, the studio was beautiful (and it sure better be based on the price I paid!!)

I contacted the teacher a while ago over facebook to ask about private lessons (particularly to work on pirouettes). She told me that she usually likes to see the student in class before having a private with them. So, here I am taking her classes. There are only four classes in total, and they are every second week (sadly).  At the end of the class she asked everyone if they would be interested in learning pirouettes and everyone said yes. Will this teacher have all the answers to my pirouette problems????

This week in my regular class we changed our exercise combination. As I said in one of my previous blogs, we do the same set of combinations for 6 weeks and then we change. I really liked the exercises we did during the last 6 weeks, but sadly this weeks set of combinations didn’t come naturally. Maybe I was tired, maybe I was unmotivated, whatever it was I hope that I will change my mind next week.

The main issue I am having with the current set of combinations is that about 4 out of 6 combinations have at least one pirouette in them. I have a love hate relationship with pirouettes.. I want to love them so bad, but they don’t love me back.

I am also sad to report that I forgot to do the ab challenge on one day…I did add that days ab exercises onto the next day..but it isn’t the same thing :p can I get an F-A-I-L

As I look at the time and wonder when it is appropriate for an adult to go to bed (it is currently 7:38pm), I think it is the perfect time to end my blog. Please excuse the more than normal mistakes!

Week 11 – and time goes by so slowly

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I honestly can’t believe it is only week 11. I don’t mean that in a negative light, it’s more that it feels so much longer. I think if I hadn’t started blogging, than these past 11 weeks would have seemed more like 20 and I would have been left wondering what I had achieved in that time.

It makes me ponder where I will be at by week 52!

Ballet class on Tuesday felt pretty standard, besides the fact that it was my birthday. What else is a ballet obsessed girl meant to do?

Birthday cake am Rhein
Birthday cake am Rhein

My aunty sent me the perfect card from Australia with the perfect present! A new pair of bloch booty shorts and some leg warmers (which I will definitely need for the next European winter!).

A most appropriate birthday card
A most appropriate birthday card

My boyfriend bought me my first pointe shoes, and I bought myself a course of ballet classes at a different studio.

Coincidently, these classes start this Sunday and I am pretty excited! It is an open class for students with prior knowledge. I guess that could mean anyone (please no babies).

I started working on my abs/core the last week and I think it might just be the answer to most of my problems. Every time I look up something like „falling out of pirouettes“ „how to get better balance“ etc etc the answer always seems to be „you need a strong core“. So that is what I am going to do.

I have been subscribed to blogilates on youtube for ages, but have never been motivated enough to click on a video, let alone do the workout. However, this time I am determined!!

Starting on Friday I am going to do the 30 Day Abs Challenge. Friday is my first day at my new job, so I thought it would be good to ease into the routine.

Although payday is still a month away, I am already thinking about the new ballet gear I want to buy (after getting a new vacuum cleaner of course…)

Until next week!

Week 8 – The news I’d been waiting for

IMG_5890So it finally happened. At the end of class my teacher came up to me and said what I had secretly hoped she would tell me after every class: „it’s time for you to get some pointe shoes“.

Though, as much as I had hoped for it I was never really expecting it. Part of me had accepted that I might never get on pointe.

My teacher said that it would be good for me to do some basic barre work like releves on pointe, then to take them off when we move to the centre.

I am really excited, but also a little nervous about finding the right shoe for me. How are pointe shoes meant to feel? The pointe shoes I have at home (the ones I cheated and got when I was 15) are really painful to wear.

There are also two other things I worry about:

1. I am terrible at getting correct fitting street shoes. If there is a pair that looks pretty vs. a pair that fit well, I have been known to go for pretty..I need to make sure this doesn’t happen

2. I am also known for being a bit of a push-over.. If a shop assistant tells me something I don’t necessarily agree with I find it REALLY hard to say no. Add to this the fact that I will be speaking in German, I really need to make sure I have my game face on.

I am going to try to get a pair on Saturday.. so hopefully in next weeks blog I can tell you all about my first official pointe shoe fitting!

Week 7 – Transformation Friday?

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I know transformation Tuesday is a thing on Instagram, but it’s making an appearance on a Friday anyway.

I am a very visual person when it comes to seeing changes.  If I can’t see it, has anything really happened? Along this line of thought, I decided it might be nice to share some progress pictures of the things I have been working on the most when it comes to ballet. I have even gone so far as to film a video. I thought that maybe in another couple of months or so I could post the same thing again and see how things are coming along..

Pirouettes

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure whether to post this video at first because it felt like I was really putting a piece of myself out there, more so than if I posted just posted a photo. When it came down to it, how else was I going to show my progress in something like a pirouette without it?

I filmed myself during one of my pirouette „sessions“ at home. I fell out of many of them…but these are the two best ones. I wish I could pirouette like this all the time. Like I mentioned in a previous blog entry, I am better at pirouettes at home than in the studio…

The main thing I think I am lacking is the use of my back muscles. Until very recently, I didn’t realise that in ballet you are meant to control your arms using the back/shoulder muscles. So I think in this video I really need to improve on the „dead hands“ thing…

Feet

Left foot
Left foot
Right foot
Right foot

Out of all the things I have been working on, my feet seem to be the only one where I can feel a change more than see one. I am not sure if I can really alter the structure of my feet anymore now that I am an adult…but I am going to damn well try!

From all my „therabanding“ I really feel like my arch and metatarsals are stronger. Sadly, I don’t think my toes are going to be touching the floor anytime soon.

The top pictures were taken around November 2014. The bottom two were taken more recently, about a month apart. As you may be able to see, my left foot is my favourite foot 🙂

Splits

Please excuse the double butt
Please excuse the double butt

This week I had two classes and in both classes I touched the ground on both sides of my split (I had two classes because of that missed week over Easter, so I decided to publish this blog entry after my second class).

My splits still aren’t comfortable. I can get them down, but I definitely don’t want to stay there. My front leg feels straight, even though there is a gap under my knee. One of the huge changes I noticed since the last time I reached the ground (which was a while ago) is that I kind of like the stretch I feel when I am in the splits (for the first 30 seconds at least).

I hope I can keep my splits this time. Like I said in my first post, I reached the ground about a month or two ago and I finally thought I had them. Then, before I knew it, the ground seemed to be far away again…

I think the main thing that helped my splits this time was to change my stretches up a bit. It really helped me get those last couple on inches down.

Those three areas are what I have mainly been working on since I started ballet back in July 2014. Considering I am only doing one class a week at the moment, I think I am doing fairly well.

My 27th birthday is less than a month away and as an early birthday present to myself I signed up to a 4 week course at another dance school in my area. The classes start on the 17th of May and the classes are on a Sunday. Although this dance school was recommended to me by two separate people, it is quite pricey so I ruled it off the list early on. They have a few different adult ballet classes run by different people, but the one I chose is by a former Royal Ballet School student who performed for some ballet companies in Europe. I’m hoping some of her talent will rub off on me…

I am back to one class a week next Tuesday, so until then have a great week!

Week 5 – Crowd Control

B+
B+

When I stepped into the ballet studio on Tuesday evening I was greeted with a lot of new faces. These new faces also had a lot of stuff and as I looked around for a place to discretely change, I came to the realization that I would just have to settle for the middle of the room.

I could deal with that, but what I couldn’t quite grasp the idea of was how on earth we were all going to fit comfortably in the studio.

I squeezed into the only available spot at the barre… in the corner. A different place for me, but I figured I should get out of my comfort zone once and a while anyway. I’m not hugely protective of my „spot“, it’s just where I always end up.

As I marveled at the sudden increase in class numbers, the woman next to me mentioned that because of easter next weeks classes were cancelled. That meant that some people from Thursdays adult class were making up their missing class with us today. On top of that, we had three new people.

To make problems of space more interesting, a late running student arrived just as class began. As her eyes darted desperately around the room, I cracked and made space for her. I honestly don’t think we could have fit another person if we tried.

I now had a big problem, which was complicated even more by the fact that I was in a corner spot. If I Grand Battement(ed) too high to the front, I risked kicking the barre in front of me. A high Grand Battement to the side risked kicking the woman who was perpendicular to me. I didn’t have time to worry about the woman behind me, she would have to just dodge my foot (if it made it that high). Tall people problems.

The centre portion of class can only be described as „snug“. We moved around like a pack. If you were unlucky enough to be too close to a wall you were doomed. Survival of the fittest was in full play.

Sadly, the unusually large class size also meant my teacher wasn’t able to give me the extra attention she mentioned last week in regards to my pirouettes. To be fair, I’m not even sure she could see me in the back of the room.

Although I was genuinely happy with how I performed that evening, I left the class wondering about ballet etiquette. How much room are you meant to leave between you and the next person? Should you watch out for your fellow man, or is it everyone for themselves? Is it all just common sense?

A selfish part of me hopes that after the easter break the new comers will realize that they’d much rather spend their Tuesday evenings eating chocolate eggs and bunnies than going to ballet class after all.

Week 1 – My standard routine

Winter in Germany - I wonder what that tree will look like the leaves...
Winter in Germany – I wonder what that tree will look like with leaves…

Living in a different country, particularly one where the main language isn’t your own, brings with it a lot of challenges. My biggest problem is that I am finding it hard to get work. The plus side to this is that I have a lot of time, in between looking for jobs, to practice some exercises from class.

My Current Daily Routine

As I mentioned in my last post, my obsession with pirouettes has become quite unhealthy. I really want to get better, but I get frustrated with myself if my pirouettes just aren’t working out that day. Someone told me that one of the issues with some adult beginners is that they know how a particular combination is meant to look like and get annoyed when they don’t look the same. Children, on the other hand, just do what they can and are usually happy with that. I am one of those adult beginners.

At the moment, I practice my pirouettes in the morning. This involves balancing in relevé passe 5 times with arms in 5th position and 5 times with arms in 1st position. I then practice my right side pirouettes by doing quarter turns, half turns, spotting, 5 pirouettes from 5th position, 5 pirouettes en dehors from 4th position facing the mirror and 5 pirouettes from 4th position en dehors away from the mirror (spotting a random object). I then do the same on the left side.

I then practice pirouettes en dedans by balancing again in relevé passe 5 times from a fourth position with straight back leg. I follow this up with 5 en dedans pirouettes on both my right and left sides. At the moment, I like practicing en dedans pirouettes, I feel like I more often than not get the timing right with turning the plié and bringing in my arms.

When I say I do 5 pirouettes, for example, what I mean is I do 5 pirouettes that I am happy with. This doesn’t necessarily mean I land them all nicely, but what I am looking for is a particular feeling of the pirouette. For example, sometimes I make it around and I just know that it wasn’t a pirouette, it was more a spin.

Recently thrown into this mix are attitude pirouettes. I try to practice 5 pirouettes on each side, like before. These are definitely my worst.

All up it usually takes me about 45 minutes.

The second last part of my daily routine is to stretch so that one day I can consistently get my splits. I usually do this about 6:30pm as I read somewhere it’s best to do it at the end of the day. I jog on the spot for about 15-20 minutes. I usually set up a playlist of 4 motivating songs which I jog to.

I follow this up with typical splits stretching exercises.

I have reached the ground on both of my splits, but it really depends on the day. I’d say the last time I reached the floor was about 4 weeks ago. Somedays it feels like I’m far away from the ground. One day they well be consistent!

Finally, I finish off the day with either foot strengthening exercises with the theraband or 100 crunches.

Class Experience Summary

This evenings ballet outfit
This evenings ballet outfit

In class, my favourite barre exercise is frappe. The teacher typically uses the same combination for a few weeks, than changes it. The current frappe exercise is a little counterintuitive and I have the pattern down!

In the centre my least favourite exercise is our pirouette combination. No matter how hard I practice at home, for some reason the class setting changes everything. I’m pretty sure it’s all in my head and I am just psyching myself out.

My favourite centre combination is a glissade assemble piece. I’ve almost got it!

My favourite combination across the floor is a combination that includes the old tombe, pas du bourree, glissade, grand jete. For the first time last night I got it (the footwork part, I can’t say what my arms were doing) and it felt good!

After our class some of the girls go on to do pointe work. I’m one of the girls that leaves at this point. I asked the teacher when I first started this class if it was possible to do pointe eventually and she said of course but it will take some time. Until then I will try to keep up with my foot strengthening work!

This Weeks Biggest Achievement

  • getting that „tombe, pas du bourree, glissade, grand jete“ combination finally

This Weeks Biggest Weakness

  • Cutting my big toenail too short.. ouch

Until next week…