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

To the Dance Store! | Adult Ballet Blog

My class had a 3 week break but tonight we are back! I couldn’t be more excited, especially since I can get dressed at home now instead of having to go straight from work. I’ll be starting a new job next week at a wonderful new company (for design, not dance company haha!) and the commute is longer but prettier and it’s in my favorite part of the state which in turn is giving me some new dance opportunities. I’ve never taken class down in Newport, but there is a modern ballet company down there called Island Moving Company and they are amazing and also have adult class three times a week! So I’ll stick to my Wednesday pointe class and maybe throw in some extras down there. 

Anyways, today I had one of those “I haven’t tried on every shoe in existence” panic attacks today and decided to go to the dance store to try on some of the only shoes I haven’t worn yet, Grishko and Capezio. I needed new flat shoes as well and they weren’t busy so I figured it was a good time. Since I have wide and large feet, sometimes it’s really hard to get shoes in my size to actually try, but LaBrie Dance in Smithfield, RI had a lot to choose from and alas had shoes in my size! I had been going to a store in the Boston area during college and they hardly had anything in my size which I found annoying. So after trying a few different models of both shoes I settled on the Grishko Miracle. I tried the Capezio Airess as well but they were much too hard and caused pain in my big toe. The Miracles have a much smaller platform then the shoes I normally wear (Suffolk Stellar or Bloch Balance European) so it might take some getting used to. The last pair of Stellars I got were in a harder shank which either aren’t for me or just need to be beaten to hell to make the semi pointe area not feel like it’s pushing me back. I loved the light shank I got in Boston, but I think they modified them, so I’ll have to either go up there again and get them or try ordering the light shank online. I think after tonight they will unfortunately not have any life left in them and will have to be retired to outdoor Photoshoot use only.


So for today I have Grishko Miracles and Capezio Cobra flats, and am looking foreward to pointe class tonight and sucking the last bit of life out of my Stellars!

See you at the barre!

Alicia 

Pointe Class | Adult Ballet Blog

This week I took my first pointe class in 2 years! The availability of adult pointe classes in my area is non-existent unless you want to travel to Boston, but that’s way to far for me to make on any kind of weekly basis, so the past few years I have just been doing my own work at home and in the aerial studio when I go practice by myself. The last time I took a full class on pointe was when I was working at the ballroom studio my mom goes to as a graphic designer and got to take free classes. There was an adult beginner class mid way through one of my shifts so I used it as my break and took the class with my pointe shoes on instead of on flat like everyone else. Otherwise all of my classes have been on flat and too advance for me to do on pointe anyway, which is fine, I would go home many times and do some strength exercises at my home barre. Someday I’ll be able to do those pirouettes on pointe!

I was a little nervous to go to this class because it was at a new studio that I had never been to and I was afraid I would be the worst one. On top of it the teacher is a former ABT dancer! But boy was I surprised when I walked in to one of the most positive and welcoming atmospheres I’ve ever experienced in ballet! Stephanie was warm and welcoming, assuring me that we were going to start with strength work and build our feet and then do a basic pointe barre after.

We started with a floor barre (which now I want to do every day!) and warmed up our feet with theraband exercises and some plie’s and tendu’s. The last half of class we put on our shoes and worked through demi pointe and pointe at the barre. This was the first class where I didn’t feel uncomfortable due to my size and lack of turnout. I don’t know why, but for some reason I felt completely content, which is rare. I felt joyful the entire class and still had a spring in my step when I went to work the next day (despite the fact that we’re all getting laid off after I’ve only been there a week) and felt confident. Sure I was a little rusty, but I definitely will find a way to keep coming to class and return to my other classes as well since that’s when I see progress. For today I’m off to do a photoshoot with my friend and make her into a fairy princess, but first, to the barre for plie’s!


See you at the barre!

Alicia

New Shoes and Ballet Blues

I’ve been off the radar for a while because I haven’t had anything happy or positive to write about over here. I haven’t been able to take classes because of loosing my job, I feel insecure and far from confident in my dancing, and haven’t made any progress. I’ve been doing a lot of running and going back to aerial (www.polerinaaerialdance.com for that blog!) and otherwise doing some foot strength exercises. I started doing barre again at home, and simple pointe work because I have an idea for an aerial routine for the spring competition season, and just miss dancing in general.

I think as dancers we all struggle with the search for the perfect shoe! It’s even worse for us big footed dancers because it seems no one has our size in stock so trying on is the devil! I’ve had to purchase numerous pairs of shoes I didn’t really like because of just lack of anything else. When I was living in Boston I fell in love with the Suffolk Stellar (light) and haven’t been able to find them anywhere since. I’m afraid to order them online that they won’t be the same but I’m probably going to have to get over that! I have been eating great things about the Bloch Eurostretch so today I was on a mission to give them a go thinking they would be easier to find, and well I succeeded! First off, I loved how they felt, they were soft and stretchy and molded to my foot perfect. The inside was cushy and no big toe pain on pointe! And omg the box is PRETTY! The only thing I didn’t like was the box didn’t feel good for balancing and that was the only reason I didn’t get them. Maybe I’ll give them a go and see what happens next time (while I have backups that aren’t dead!) and see if I’m able to balance like in my other shoes. 

On a whim I asked if they had the Stellars and they did, and in my size! They weren’t the light shank but the standard, and they felt a little bit hard but I think once they’re broken in maybe they will last a little longer. So I ended up with another pair of my old favorites and a super cute H tutu O water bottle.

So what feels like starting from scratch (I looked good at the store and not like an idiot or amateur at least haha) and getting strong agin so when I can return to classes I’ll be ready and able to keep up!

I’ll just be Right Here at MY Barre!

Alicia