Ballet in 2018 | Goals | Pushing the limits

Starting 2018 my friend and I went up to Cambridge for a open house at the José Mato Ballet Theater. I haven’t danced in 3 weeks due to holiday and my car breaking down and needing to buy a new one. Deciding to take this class at the highest level offered was terrifying since I have a hard time with confidence taking anything but beginner class.

But this year I’m going to push myself. There’s no way I’ll ever get better and understand the steps that confuse me if I don’t do them repeatedly. In he higher level classes I feel vulnerable, scared, like instead of flying, I’m just flailing. There are a lot of steps I don’t know, and that scares me, but if I don’t ever try it, it will be impossible to ever learn it.

So I will keep going to classes, both in and out of my comfort zone. Keep pushing, learning and practicing. Because one day it will pay off and I will fly.

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Morning Class | Adult Ballet Blog

My office was closed today in observance of the Veterans Day holiday (thank you Vets!) so there was a rare chance to attend class at 9am and it was taken advantage of! Since it was an advance class (which screams avoid! To me) nerves almost convinced me to not go, I’m that dancer that’s been in beginner/intermediate class for ages because of my issues with remembering combos and psyching myself out. 

Arriving early and grabbing a coffe at the adorable French café next door, finding a place at the barre (in the back corner) and beginning class with a nice window view was a great start to the morning! The flow of class was enjoyable with emphasis on really using the upper body to dance and express movement. Adage was beautiful and manageable on my dim memory (even remembering it enough to write it down after) and for the first time in my memory of dance, feelings of grace and that my dancing wasn’t akward and floppy filled me instead of terror and nerves. I’m hoping this becomes a permanent change because it felt good! 

Sadly, my current work situation requires 9-4 on Fridays and unlesss I’m a wizard and can start negotiating some remote work, it will be rare that this class can be attended (*cough* I’m sick)! But today was wonderful and productive!

P.S. I’ve had to write the last 2 blogs without using I️ because Apple is special and glitches! I️ am so annoyed!

xx,

Alicia

Practice Makes….Better

So I’ve (proudly!) been back to consistent ballet classes for 8 months straight! This has to be a personal record, and since no financially devastating events have happened to make classes unaffordable like has happened in the past, I’ve definitely seen progress. While I have been dancing since I was 22 (9 years) as an adult, until the past 4 years ago I was very inconsistent so progress, especially on pointe, would leave me back at square one frequently. My first year of college I was able to take multiple classes a week at the Boston Ballet which was a few minutes away from school and ballet/ contemporary and pointe at The Studio: A Dance Center for adults whenever I could.

I’ve always been that person to forget combos, and have to follow someone, which is probably still true if I took more intermediate classes (which I will do once I’m out of busy photography season) but right now I’m happy in my awesome beginner class where I’m feeling like I am progressing and re-learning the basics I never learned when I started because the studio I attended was more focused on performance. I still fear I will never be good at petit allegro, but it’s getting better!

I’ve always been told practice makes perfect. With being an artist, dancer, gymnast and learning an instrument, it is always practice! But I’ve come to determine that practice will NEVER make perfect. Why? Because perfection, and striving for perceived perfection, is unrealistic and will drive you completely mad reaching for something that is unlikely to be achieved!

Instead, I aim for better. Even if it is just one little thing I do better than at my previous class….a longer balance, better turn, remembering the combo…BETTER is better than driving myself mad over unrealistic goals. I still have that dream of being on stage someday, but for now I’ll just be over here working hard on my strength and getting back to 3 classes a week to improve!

AliciaAlicia_wm-27Alicia_wm-33Alicia_wm-67(thankfully I’m also a better photographer than when I did these as well!)

Adult Ballet Masterclass at Boston Ballet with Kathleen Breen Combs!

As soon as I got the email saying there was going to be a special masterclass from Boston Ballet Principal Kathleen Breen Combs, I signed up immediately! Having missed the last 2 masterclasses for adults, I was determined to go to this one! 

I danced at the BB Newton studio all through college so it was wonderful to be back. Dancing to live accompanyment is wonderful and I forgot how simply amazing it is. I heard they are moving down the street to a brand new state of the art studio so I think a monthly Saturday or Sunday trip will be in order especially since they have classes every day now (yes, every day for adults! Good thing they only had 2x a week when I was in college or I’d have much more college debt haha)!

I recently got a few new leotards so I was excited to wear my new purple floral mesh leotard to class as well. Also I’m loving my Grishko Mod 6 ballet flats, and am not having that akward bunching fabric issue with them.

I was kind of nervous going to class, especially since I had no idea how hard it would be and have been out of class on vacation the past month. After today I’m definitely inspired to try to take 3 classes a week again, because I did feel I kept up very well (except petit allegro, I loathe petit allegro and it’s something I need to work on daily)! 

The whole class was wonderful! She was such a sweetheart and completely down to earth. Her combos both at the barre and in center were based a lot on musicality and her tips and corrections were a lot about using the music and dancing the combos. She said barre isn’t about just standing there doing the foot movements, but to really use the opportunity to use the port de bras and head to dance. We did some great hip opening warm ups at the barre that I think I will definitely incorporate into my practice and warm up before class even. I’ll put up a video of my favorite one at some point this week. We did a lot of turning the working leg in and out to really wake up the hips and turn out muscles. 

I always struggle in petit allegro so we won’t talk about that, but the adage was beautiful and included my favorite promenade to attitude as well as pirrouettes. Grande Allegro is were it got interesting….There was a full house in class today, probably about 40 dancers, some of which I recognized from when I danced there in college. I prefer to be in the last group because I’m terrible at remembering combos, and like to watch it a few times, so I was in the last group (groups of 3)…or so I thought. End of the line, it was just me. My inner “you can’t do this” was screaming noooooo! Turn around! Pretend you already went! No one will know, but the last groups music ended and I found myself in the corner, prepared for the last combo.

I can’t do this. Turn around. 

No. Go. This is a once and a lifetime.

Tombé, pas de bourre, glissasde, saut de chat. 

Simple, you’ve done this combo a thousand times.

I went.

Probably the most terrifying thing I’ve ever done but at the same time the most exhilarating and brace. I’m that dancer that hides in the back afraid to mess up. Sure, it wasn’t perfect, but my saut de chat is far from pathetic, it’s actually one of my favorite jumps. Miss Breen Combs helped me through! Cheering encouragement and giving me tips…think of your shape in the air! Up! And arabesque to finish! And after everyone clapped. I’m sure it wasn’t because I was any good, but because I finally had the courage to step out of the back row and dance. I’m glad I did it, because even though I was embarrassed, now that it’s over I would totally have regretted not doing one of my favorite steps because of fear of messing up and being laughed at.


I really hope Boston Ballet continues these adult masterclasses and I’m so glad there are more options on the schedule! I also think I’m going to sign up for the Brookline Ballets adult summer intensive this June. I was scared to tell my boyfriend about it since we don’t see each other much, but as usual he totally supported me and said I should do it and the weekend classes because I love it. I couldn’t be luckier to finally have someone who supports me in Ballet (sometimes literally) and encourages me to go follow my dreams.

After the workshop I went over to my favorite dance store that I missed going to so much (they literally have everything in stock in like every size) to get a new pair of pointe shoes because nothing I was ordering seemed to be the same as when I got them there. The owner is super nice to talk to and will give you the cold hard truth if need be. The fitting experience is very thorough and she works hard to find you the right shoe. I got my last awesome pair of Suffolk Stellars there that were no less than Stellar! I was lucky there were no appointments so she took me in and we got started with the same shoes I had before. We also tried a few other combinations of size and width since the shoes are handmade And my feet may have changed since last time. She also inspired me to peruse dance photography and gave me some great tips on how to get started. I couldn’t decide between my Stellars that I loved before and the Solo which I had years ago and were my first Suffolks. It was great to actually get to compare them and get feedback. Since I don’t get to come to the store often and couldn’t decide I just got both (💁🏻) and will let taking class in each help me decide which I like more. So if you are in New England I highly recommend seeing Paula at Dancers Image in Newton.


So I leave my day at a complete place of happiness and no doubt that I can continue to chase my dreams of improving the best I can in Ballet and specializing in dance photography. I have one of my regular classes tomorrow night and am super excited to get back to work!

Happy Dancing!

Alicia