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

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

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

Back to the Barre! | Adult Ballerina Blog

Well I finally have some good news, I got a job! Back to my previous company but in another department and still doing design, and the same pay rate so I can afford ballet again!!!! I can’t wait to be back!

At the same time of feeling success, I can’t help but feeling sad. I’ve wanted my job back for so long, mainly because it’s semi secure income and a good pay rate, plus I’m getting the coveted industry experience needed for even better jobs. The first few days I was excited and very happy, but today I feel sad. Having to go back to waking up early, spending hours commuting with angry rush hour drivers, and sitting at a desk all day instead of working out, making art and trying to figure out how to gain clients in my photography business. I guess the last one is the worst, I feel like I’ve failed in getting by business off the ground while I had time off. With all the time off I should be a marketing wizard and be getting inquiries daily and booking clients! But I’m not and I don’t understand why. I know it’s not my quality of work, but getting in front of people who are looking for photography services. I feel like I failed myself and my true calling to go back to slaving to “the man” that is corporate business that is only another temp contract.

On the plus side, I have my ballet schedule all laid out and am about to go to some barre and pointe strength exercises so I don’t go back to class weak and terrible! It will be so good to go back to the studio again, even if I do make a fool of myself forgetting combos most of the time, maybe some day I’ll fit in!

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