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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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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It’s Been a While…

Over the last few months a lot has happened causing change in my life, but also leaving me exhausted and unsure. I was dancing three times a week a few months ago. Progress was coming, though I was still behind most of my class and struggling with weight, but I looked forward to going to the studio after work and working hard. Then I got laid off. I was a contracted graphic designer with a one year contract that was cut in half. It may not seem like a big deal, but to me it was instant anxiety. Not only did it mean I had to give up my ballet classes, but how was I supposed to pay for well….life. I have a crushing amount of student debt racked up on credit cards that I had started to pay off and was actually making good progress on with my job. I was hoping that my position would go permanent, that someone would actually want me, that I’d finally be good enough to be a part of a team that meant something, and again I was wrong. I started to think about my life as a series of failures strung together with glimmers of hope in between that always become extinguished by failing. I know that negative thinking is not going to solve anything, but when nothing good or successful ever happens to you no matter how hard you work, how else are you supposed to think? Right know I feel broken, useless, untalented and like I will never be able to support myself because I’m only good enough to be a greeter at Wall Mart or something. I’ve been on a few great interviews since, one I even had 3 for, but it always ends the same: “We want to thank you for your time and interest in this position. At this time we have narrowed down our selected candidates to those that more closely fit our culture, and the experience and skills we were searching for. I am sorry to say we will not be progressing further with you as a candidate for this role.” Now what? I was sure I had it! Even though it would be a three month trial period (that I was sure I’d be fired from after) it gave me hope that I could finally fit somewhere and be valued. I’ve paid my dues, I’ve worked for years for free which cost me more credit card debt and a ton of mils on my car, I just crave that moment of success where someone sees me as talented enough to be paid a livable wage, have a secure job, and start my life. It just doesn’t seem like it will happen for me.

On a positive note, it does give me plenty of time to work on my photography business and hopefully be able to learn marketing and get noticed in that field, which is where my passion really lies besides dance. I’ve also had time to go to the gym daily, practice yoga, and even was available to sub some aerial classes (another job I wasn’t talented enough to keep and make a career out of, and that crushed my soul when I was replaced). And since I’m competing in pole fitness again I’ve been setting time aside to practice at home daily and get to the closest studio a few times a week to work on endurance and choreography.

Ballet got pushed to the side for a few months because I resented it for not being able to do it. I stopped working on my feet, I stopped doing arabesques at my kitchen counter, and my pointe shoes practically had cobwebs on them. When I went to the studio yesterday to work on my pole routine, I grabbed my dance bag and my camera thinking maybe I would be inspired. And I was right. After practicing pole for a couple hours I definitely needed a break. The lighting is always beautiful here, so I dug in my dance bag and found a leo, tutu, pointe shoes, and made a messy bun atop my head. Then a song came on, I danced for the first time in months (ok so wearing a tutu makes everything better anyway), and felt magnificent. This is what I love. This is what I crave. Maybe this is where I belong. I might need to do a re-shoot this week, since when I changed positions I forgot to take the focus lock off and so my depth of field is off  (oops!), but that just gives me another reason to go back. To create. To fly.

Last night I started re-watching Dance Academy, which opens with Tara, a simple farm girl who dreams of being a ballerina, wanting to fly. She says:

“I always knew in another life I could fly. That’s why in this life I dance”

Fly!

Alicia-1

At the Ballet! Boston Ballet’s “Onegin”

I haven’t been feeling well the past few weeks, and have been working longer hours making it difficult to get to ballet class lately. I have however, been doing lots of yoga and short barre classes at home via Kathryn Morgan’s amazing videos. My birthday was last weekend, and I thought on a wim I would ask my mom if she wanted to go see Onegin with me in Boston, and she said yes! Today was that day. I’ve been watching the haunting promo videos for weeks and couldn’t wait to see the performance. After reading the synopsis and watching the videos I felt a sudden connection to the characters, because the story is extremely relatable to me.

The story, in short, is about Tatiana who meets and falls in love with Onegin. After professing her love to him via a letter she writes when she can not sleep because he fills her mind, he rejects her and tears her letter up in front of her, sending her into tears and sadness. He then flirts with her younger sister, Olga, who is engaged to Lensky, Onegin’s friend. Lensky is very upset by this and challenges Onegin to a duel, where he is then killed causing Olga’s heartbreak. Onegin is ashamed and disappears, only to reappear later at a ball where Tatiana is now happily in love and engaged to Prince Gremin. Seeing Onegin sparks memories of her lost love, she avoids him, but then the connect and he realized how wrong he has been, and he truly loves her. She still loves him but tries to push him away to be true to her fiancee. Their romantic struggle is interpreted through a haunting pas de deux and struggle within her heart. The ballet ends without conclusion, but I felt she succumbed to him, her true love.

Cast, Saturday Matinee:

Onegin: Eris Nezha

Lensky: Alexander Maryianowski

Tatiana: Misa Kuranaga

Olga: Diana Albrecht

Prince Gremin: Paul Craig

This was also my first trip to the Boston Opera House, as other ballet’s I have seen have all been smaller productions at more local theaters. My mom’s gps unfortunately chose a Washington Street in a very scary area to gps us to, so we arrived minutes before the show started at our seats. The Boston Opera house is magnificent! From the gilded dome upon entry to the stunning chandeliers, this is definitely been the most beautiful theater I’ve ever been in! I could only imagine dancing on a stage like this. The only bad thing about the day honestly was the two people in front of us were rather large and took up more than their two seats, and the woman directly in front of me was large, tall, and wore a giant bun on top of her head. Theater etiquette people, DON’T WEAR YOUR HAIR SO BIG! There are people behind you that would like to see the show as well! I was lucky to be on an isle seat, so I leaned out that way to get a good view. Also, seeing as many attendees were probably dancers, the snack bar could have had some apples or healthy snacks, anything to eat was just candy and junk. (I had a glass of wine though, don’t judge!)

In Act I the music is light and cheery along with the dancing. The girls are gossiping and imagining their future weddings. Parties and celebrations are being planned for Olga and Lensky who perform a beautiful light hearted pas de deux, showing how much they are in love with each other. You can really feel the emotions from the characters, not only are they dancers, but superb actors as well. Onegin is introduced to Tatiana, and out of courtesy invites her to walk with him. Onegin seems to be a haunted character already. The Mr. Darcy type, or just seemingly uninterested in Tatiana’s affections. They share a beautiful pas de deux in the garden which closes the act. The strength of the dancers is incredible as the pas is full of sky high lifts and held balances. There was one scene during the party where the core de ballet performed continuous jete’s across the stage in  both directions, only holding the hand of her parter, it was magnificent!I was the beginning of Tatiana’s torment. She writes Onegin a letter in the middle of the night amidst not being able to sleep, confessing her love to him. Later on she sees him at a party and he tries to give it back to her but she insists he read it. He tears up the letter and rejects her, causing her heart to break. To spite her, he flirts with Olga, which angers Lensky into challenging Onegin to a duel which he looses and Lensky dies. Onegin regrets everything and dissapears, leaving both girls heartbroken.

In Act III Tatiana has blossomed into a beautiful young woman and is engaged to Prince Gremin. She is happy and content, and there is a ball celebrating them. Onegin attends and when he and Tatiana’s eyes lock there is clearly some tension and unfinished business. They meet and dance, she tries to keep away and stay faithful to her prince but he realizes how wrong he has been and begs for her forgiveness. She still has feelings for him, and he for her, developing a love triangle. Her heart and soul are torn in agony. Kuranaga is not only a beautiful dancer but a phenomenal actress, conveying the perfect dramatic intensity that pulls at your heartstrings and brings tears to the eyes. The finale is inconclusive, where Tatiana is heartbroken and torn, and the ballet ends with her about to go mad from it. I loved that, that last few minutes of the ballet with the music, the dancing and her rushing to the edge of the stage bringing her hands to her face in angst will replay in my head for years. The cast deserved the standing ovation! Bravo Boston Ballet!