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

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

Pointe Shoes With No Training

I have been seeing a lot of girls attempting pointe work through various social media networks who clearly do NOT have any ballet training.  Dancers work very hard for years strengthening their feet and body in preparation for pointe.  It is extremely dangerous to just go buy a pair of pointe shoes and think you can train yourself.  Dancers can end up injuring themselves very badly or even permanently!  The first major giveaway that someone is trying to selt teach, it the ribbons on their shoes. Not only do some look like they were purchased at a craft store, but they are not tied properly!

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Ribbons and drawstrings should be neatly tucked away.  No bows should be hanging out.  I know this is what non dancers think ballet dancers do, but it is wrong, and the first sign that someone is self teaching.  If you have taken lessons and your teacher allows this, you may want to re think attending there!  Proper ribnons and drawstrings look like this:

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The second cue that someone has not taken lessons, is they are not over on the platform of the box of the shoe.  While I understand that not everyone has a foot like Polina Seminova, if you are not “on” your box you are setting yourself up for a fall. Here’s an example:

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This is not proper alignment en pointe and is very dangerous.
I’ve seen many posted pictures and videos of shoes like this.  I’m not trying to say girls should give up their dreams of pointe at any age! If you want to dance on pointe, please take lessons with a quallified teacher, and learn safely!
Happy dancing!