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!

30 Day Pointe Challenge Week 1 | Adult Ballet Blog

So much has been going on lately that I’ve completely been slacking on both this blog and my Facebook page with posts. Between starting a new job and growing my photography business (which also has its own blog, website, social media etc!) and still having down time for friends and family, 2017 is flying by! 

Anyway, I’m finishing month 2 of being back to ballet/pointe class, and just finished a month back to aerial class as well. I’ve been on pointe (even if only a few minutes) almost daily due to the #30daypointechallenge on Instagram (follow me there @aliciaaerial). What is the 30 Day Pointe Challenge!? It’s a series of pointe exercise done daily with videos and photos posted to Instagram with the hashtag. Don’t have Instagram? Here’s a screenshot from one of the challenge coordinaters!: 


There are no rules for how many reps you do of the exercises, just that you try your best and work safely. There are a few descriptions that are confusing such as “pullbacks” which turned out to just be rising en pointe and doing pliés without pushing over the arch but keeping the feet right as they are. One footies I’m not sure of because we aren’t there yet! 

The first few days, having been so on and off pointe last year, caused me to get the typical arch cramps (and muscle burn!) of having been a slacking dancer, but after a few days I felt stronger. I would do reps until exhaustion, even if the full video wouldn’t fit on Instagram (we only get one minute!) the benefits were worth it! The challenge is currently on Day 26, but people start late and it’s a good reference for when you’re looking to just strengthen your feet. I’m still battling with finding “the shoe” because I purchased another pair of my life changing Stellars, but was only able to get the regular shank, which has seemingly made them a whole different shoe. I may be going back to my Bloch’s or just try to get the light shank, or last resort go back to Boston where I was fitted and see what kind of witchcraft they worked on the previous pair!

Day1-7

Now here I go to work on my turnout since I clearly have none!

Happy Dancing!

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

At the Ballet! | Le Corsaire 

This past weekend I went to see the Boston Ballet perform Le Corsaire! My mom got us a subscription to see 3 ballets this season this being the first, Nutcracker is next, then Sleeping Beauty in the Spring. Needless to say it’s always an exciting trip and this was no different (except that I had a devastating week which ended up in a raging migraine for the entire weekend which was nonstop)! We were running a little late and barely made it to our seats for curtain thanks to Boston traffic. But I was ecstatic to see the cast list that my two favorite female principals were leads, Ashely Ellis as Medora and Dusty Button at Gulnare.

I knew the storyline was about pirates, but didn’t get a chance to read the synopsis but my first impression was that the costumes and set were just GORGEOUS! Probably the most beautiful I have ever seen! The set transported me right to Ancient Greece, and when Medora was first seen oh my did she glitter! What I would do for a costume like that!

The storyline flowed effortlessly. The short version is Medora is in love with the pirate Conrad, who comes to take her away. Meanwhile a wealthy slave trader is presenting his women, including Gulnare to the Pasha and he is in awe by her, agreeing to buy her. He then sees Medora, who is the slave traders foster daughter and wants her too, offering to pay theee times as much for her as well. The deal is made and Medora, who doesn’t want to be sold, is kidnapped by Conrad and his pirates along with treasures and the other slave maidens (except Gulnare) and wicked away to a seaside cavern.

The Coda of the ballet was the most amazing and by far my favorite part. The dancing performed was exquisite and if you haven’t seen the technical difficulty presented in the Coda, I would recommend watching it here:

Medora requests the slaves be freed, which turns the other pirates against Conrad who grants her wish. His brother turns on him and conspires with the slave trader to kidnap Medora back, after putting Conrad into a deathlike sleep, and take her to the Pasha, heartbroken.

The Pasha is angry that she is miserable and refuses to pay the promised amount and the trader runs for his life. Gulnare befriends Medora and tries to show her that the cushy palace life isn’t bad and she could be happy. But Conrad and his faithful men come to her rescue, and save the day, whisking her away on their ship and happiness.

I’d love to learn a classical variation one day, even if I never get to perform, it would be so much fun to dive into a character. Which variation would you like to learn?

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

Yogarina

I’ve been feeling a little under the weather the past week. Job stress and sitting all day is really starting to get me down. I’ve been feeling like there’s not enough time in the day to do everything I want to, and still get enough sleep. I need a good reset, so I’m going to trade my Tuesday ballet class for yoga for the next couple of weeks so I have more time at home to get some photo editing done for clients after work. There’s a great little yoga studio right down the street from my work, and from recovering from this awful migraine the hit me a couple days ago I think that’s just what the doctor ordered! The class starts at 5:30 tonight, so right after work, and I’ll be home much earlier and miss rush hour! My ballet class wouldn’t start until 7 and I can’t go home in between because of traffic, so I end up with and hour and a half of useless time to kill when I’m not getting anything done which is super frustrating. I need to find a way to make that time productive, somehow, or maybe just stick to yoga on Tuesdays. I really don’t want to give up a dance class, but the struggle of work life balance is getting real!

  

Ballet is Hard

Yesterday was one of those days where nothing went according to plan. But the again, what is the plan? I was exhausted at work and had a hard time focusing, and the day dragged on so slow. I couldn’t wait to get to ballet class, and get moving after sitting at my desk most of the day. I’ve been really not picking at myself lately over my weight, poor turnout and my arabesque that is seemingly falling lower than it used to, but I ordered some new dance wear so I thought that would help. Well it turns out it didn’t! I looked in the mirror and saw nothing but lumps and rolls. I felt like the Michelline Man in a leotard. Ugh. Class started out on the wrong foot (literally) because I got a spot at the barre where I’d have to start the combo facing the back wall with no mirror and no way of following someone if I can’t remember the combination (which I usually can’t) so I was instantly panicked. It just felt “off”. I’ve never started a class in this direction so I felt like I had 2 left feet all during barre and I kept ending up on the wrong foot. 

Center didn’t go much better. My arabesque was still low, wobbly and looked strained. I couldn’t balance to save my life. Petite allegro was a horror show as usual, and feelings of doubt were rushing through my head. Why can’t I learn? Do I have a learning disability? Am I slow, or even worse just plain stupid? Stop! Get out of my head and dance!!!! Don’t be a self fulfilling prophecy!! Do your best with what you have now! Don’t worry about being the heaviest in class or the lowest arabesque. You can improve that and better it with hard work. Turns across the floor went well, on the right side at least, but grand allegro was also a hot mess. It’s not that I can’t do the steps, it’s just I pick them up slow, and need things broken down at turtle pace. If that’s done and I can try it a few times I’m usually ok. The thing is it’s hard to find a class like this because the beginner classes are too slow for me and don’t incorporate much center and the intermediate/ advance classes are more for people that have been dancing a long time. With all the breaks I’ve had to take due to not being able to afford class, I haven’t been doing this anywhere near as long as it seems. I think the classes I am in now are good because there is something to strive for. But that’s how I have to think of it. Not as a “I’m not good enough because my leg doesn’t go that high” but as “that’s what I’ll be able to do this time next year”. Even if I get my left and right confused, and I can’t do 3 pirouettes that’s okay, because ballet is a journey. It’s hard. Hard work And hard dedication. I won’t give up because I feel like I don’t fit in. I will strive for that day when I will effortlessly glide across the floor in time with my classmates without feeling like I’m just in the way. I will work at it every day and continue to eat healthy and fuel my body for dance instead of skipping meals to feel thin. Doubt be gone! I can do this!