Hope is the Anthem of my Soul | Adult Ballet Blog | National Suicide Awareness Week

Suicide Awareness Week confession: I’ve struggled with depression, hopelessness, and feeling like I am never enough for most of my life. It wasn’t until I was in my mid 20s that I could admit to myself that I had a mental illness. I’ve felt like most people would be better off if I’m not here, and I know how easy it is to slip into the darkness that is our own minds. I’ve failed so many times at jobs, and felt like I don’t fit in anywhere, even in the industries I love and want to make a career in. As I sit here and write this I am in tears because yet again I have disappointed people that I care abouts opinions and the familiar feeling of hopelessness is taking over. I work full time and am growing a photography business, and basically just made a fool of myself in front of prominent vendors for working full time and not editing fast enough. It makes me feel like I should throw in the towel because I will never be able to edit a full session in 2 weeks. Today I felt guilty for going to class and not staying home to edit. I was told I was unprofessional because I told someone my timeline for editing was because I worked full time as well as growing my business. Now I’m sitting here downing wine and feeling guilty for writing this blog.


The point of this is I want you to know you’re not alone, what you are feeling, others are feeling too. Sure I feel like crap and am crying into my wine, but I know I’m a great photographer and clients who have my timeline expectations and are ok with it are the people for me (shameless self promotion: http://www.aliciaannphoto.com) Hope is the anthem of my soul, and I hope that one day I can accomplish my dreams and be able to be good enough to fit in this industry that seems to take and never give.
National Suicide Awareness Week: https://twloha.com/

xx,

Alicia 

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Sick week 

Last week was the last week of summer session, and of corse I came down with a terrible head cold on Tuesday and wasn’t better for my class on Thursday. I was so dissapointed because for the past 4 weeks we’ve been working on a very challenging pirouette combo that has been slowly but surely getting better! I didn’t have class this week because of the holiday and my class is changing to Monday, so I’m excited for next week.


Lonely shoes last Thursday…

I’m also excited for more Fall dance opportunities because one of my favorite retired principals from the company where I take class will be teaching on Wednesday nights at a different location and doing an adult pointe class as well. 

I also started being much more aware of what I am eating. I’ve cut alcohol and excess sugar such as desserts and my daily trip to the snack machine at work. Besides the extreme need to lose 25-30 pounds, I’ve also had an ovarian cyst for 2 years that is becoming more and more painful. Since I have no insurance and would have to quit my career as a graphic designer and take some crummy retail job to get insurance, I can’t get any care whatsoever. I need an ultrasound to see if there are more cysts or it’s become larger, and possibly surgery to remove it since it’s been much more painful and pushing on nerves in my back. Hoping my job will make me permanent so that I can get proper insurance and finally get it looked at again. If anyone has any natural remedies I’d much rather go that route!!

I better to do some strength work and stretch!!

xx,

Alicia

Pointe Shoe Chronicals | Adult Ballet Blog

To a dancer, the tools of the trade are especially focused on the feet and legs. Finding the perfect fitting shoe can be an endless struggle! I’ve had a hard time finding flat shoes that fit well and don’t cause a bump under the ball of the foot, and just when I think I’ve found the perfect pointe shoe, my feet seem to change and my shoe stops working for me. I’ve literally spend HOURS in the dance stores trying on shoe after shoe from every name out there. Having larger feet also doesn’t help because many shoes aren’t stocked in my size. So far my favorites have been Suffolk Solo and Stellar, Gaynor Minden, Bloch Balance European Strong and Bloch Eurostretch, which I just stared wearing. The Balance European was my go to shoe for years, but my last pair just didn’t seem supportive anymore in the regular shank, the strong shank seems to be doing ok. I went to the dance store a while back in hopes of trying the Bloch Eurostretch, and after trying them I ended up buying a Grishko Miracle, which ended up not working for my wide feet and desire for a large platform. As soon as my feet would swell, they would become obviously too small and narrow. Otherwise they were extremely comefortable and flat so I was sad that they couldn’t work for me. I’ve been dancing in a mix of a Suffolk Stellar and Bloch Balance euro for the past few years. My latest pair of the Bloch seemed so unsupportive by the 3rd class wearing them, and I felt they were allowing me to sickle and have to work extra hard not to. The strong shank worked much better so if I buy them again, strong will be the way to go! 


Thinking of how comefortable the Bloch Eurostretch was (that I didn’t buy 🙄) I ordered them online since our local stores lot their contract with Bloch and don’t carry them anymore, and sewed them last week. At first try I had a hard time getting over the box and felt held back on them, but determined to break them in and give it a go I sewed them and did some basic barre at home. After a few of these sessions (the instructions say just do barre to break them in, no de-shanking or beating them up) I think I am hooked. They felt to so good I even wore them to class tonight, and I’m always scared to wear a new shoe to class, because if it doesn’t work out there’s people to watch me fail. I’m the only person on pointe in my class so I always feel a little pressure to not be the one to make an ass of themselves! Since starting class on pointe again regularly, I feel a lot of strength (and maybe a little confidence) returning! Now if only I could get those one foot relevés up a little better I would be happy!

Anyway, right now I feel these could be my current shoe. I still have my Stellars in my bag, but I love the support and stretch of these Bloch Eurostretch! What are your favorite pointe shoes?

XX

Alicia

Here are a few photos from class tonight!

Summer Stretching | Adult Ballet Blog

I always find I get super tight and inflexible in the winter and loosen up in the summer when it’s easy to stretch because it’s warm. Well this year in general I’ve been slacking on my stretching and flexibility and boy does it show. I haven’t been running the past couple weeks because it’s been oppressively humid, but I ran twice this week and am dying on my floor right now after running in 80 degrees of gross heat. I’m slower, making sure I have water and taking walk breaks but I think it’s still better than doing nothing. I’m only doing about 2-3 miles as well because I think I’d die if I did anything longer. I still want to prepare for all the Fall races (3 half marathons!) but also stay injury free so it helps my dancing and doesn’t hurt it. 

My plantar fasciitis in my right foot has been doing well and jumps haven’t been causing sharp pain. There’s one more summer session left that is three weeks so I have been taking ballet class all summer, doing barre on pointe and center in flats (definitely not ready for pirrouettes on pointe)! 

The last two weeks after class I’ve been staying in the hallway and making sure I take a good 20 minutes to stretch. It’s the perfect time since I’m warm from class and my flexibility game is lacking lately. I’m also making sure I spend as much time as possible after running to sit in all of my splits and hit my back and shoulders as well. I’m taking a flexibility workshop tomorrow with one of my favorite dancers so I’m excited to see what I learn and implent it into my regular stretching routine.

I had been going to yoga after work for a few weeks but didn’t make it this week or last because of a migraine and helping my friend with her business cards. I love yoga I just wish there was a little more holding of stretches in class. I also have been regularly doing barre fitness and yoga classes on Cody App that are geared toward flexibility. The classes with Megan Currie that are about backbending are amazing! I also just got the Yogance class which is yoga but with dance inspired flow and movement so I can stick with things at home. 

So here’s where I am now, now time to start stacking some yoga blocks! I will post my scorpion tomorrow after class because that’s going to be one of the big focuses and I’m so excited! 

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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

Took a Friend to Ballet Class!

I intentionally joined ballet class back 10 years ago. I reasearched online and learned and read as much as I could before I went to class. I bought the perfect outfit and made the perfect bun! I love to plan things out and analyze everything. 

After coming home from vacation, I found out my Wednesday night pointe class has been postponed (sad face!☹️) so I needed another class! Going back to where I first started working on my technique (before that I was in a high school class where no corrections were made) at Festival Ballet. The class is beginner, which is always great when you need a refresh like I sure do. I’m terrible at remembering combinations so I love beginner class to work on this. 

My best friend Kim coincidently asked me about beginner ballet class last week as well, saying her mom and sister were interested. So this was the perfect class and I invited them along! There were other first timers in the class so she felt much more comefortable than if it were all experienced dancers.

Obviously it is hard to absorb everything the first day but I think she did well and enjoyed herself. So hopefully I’ll have a new ballet buddy and someone else to get addicted to ballet!

Misty Copeland’s Ballerina Body | Ballet Books

I can definitely say body confidence is something I’ve been lacking immensely over the past few years. Not fitting in clothing, feeling like my inner thigh fat is making my 5th all kinds of sad, and wondering if I’ll be able to ever get back to somewhere happy with the great amount of stress and time consumption work involves and desk life. When I go to ballet class (I haven’t been in a month due to timing of family vacation) I’m always the largest one there. I’m jealous of girls who don’t have to starve themselves to have normal body weights, unfortunately thinness doesn’t run in my family. I’d say I eat pretty healthy for the most part (ok, I should drink less wine!) and drink a lot of water. I think what my biggest problem is would be getting in exercise after work when I’m exhausted from the day. I prefer to exercise late morning because then I have energy for my workout and way more energy through the day, but working 9-5 doesn’t allow this. I can’t wait for the day my business is successful and I can have my own schedule and not have to get up early to dress up and go to work! In the meantime, meal prepping, more dancing, and hitting the gym after work/Daisy’s meds are going to have to be the fix.

I just got Misty Copeland’s new book “Ballerina Body!” Just the cover of the book is stunning and motivational, I just might have to stick that photo up in my room to keep me out of the junk food haha.


I loveeee the first quote when opening the book, I’m hooked already, it might be a late night:


As a designer and photographer the book is beautifully designer and photographed. I would literally die to be her photographer!

Copeland’s writing is a breath of fresh air and positivity. I have always felt smothered under fear, self-doubt and negativity. As a young adult I was confident, but was constantly called “stuck up” or “bitch” even though I never treated anyone lie that. In building a wall of negativity I sheilded myself from those comments, putting myself down before others had the chance. Trying to break those habits are HARD! Especially when daily I am being judged and criticized at work, by strangers and at home. It’s much easier to break the chain of self doubt with such an uplifting voice telling you that your body is perfect for you, and we’re on this journey together!


The book not only talks about believing in yourself, but how to set goals, stay organized, positive affirmations, and motivation.

Next there is a whole section of ballet and floor barre exercises, perfect to add in before class. One of my teachers does a floor barre segment before class and I love it.

The end section is all about nutrition, with yummy recipes and a meal plan that looks easy enough for even me to follow! I really can’t wait to dive into this book more and highly recommend it.

Happy Dancing!

Alicia