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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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!