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

World Ballet Day Fun!!!

World Ballet Day is one of the best day’s of the year for dancers! What is better than getting a look into the most famous ballet companies for a whole entire day! I just wanted to lay in bed all day and watch it, but was also motivated to get out and dance. It’s hard to keep up with all the fun all day, fortunately no work for me, but I did get into the studio for a little bit and worked on a lyrical dance that has been in my head and to work on some pointe work and dancing without having to worry about doing a routine or having a time limit. I might post it later if I get the nerve up, or maybe just a little preview on Instagram (@aliciaaerial) 😉

In case you also need to catch up on anything missed yesterday, here are the links!:

 

Oh and some barre exercises! Can’t get enough of those!

I’ll add more as I find them, or feel free to add what you find in the comments!

Happy Dancing!

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

At the Ballet! Boston Ballet’s “Onegin”

I haven’t been feeling well the past few weeks, and have been working longer hours making it difficult to get to ballet class lately. I have however, been doing lots of yoga and short barre classes at home via Kathryn Morgan’s amazing videos. My birthday was last weekend, and I thought on a wim I would ask my mom if she wanted to go see Onegin with me in Boston, and she said yes! Today was that day. I’ve been watching the haunting promo videos for weeks and couldn’t wait to see the performance. After reading the synopsis and watching the videos I felt a sudden connection to the characters, because the story is extremely relatable to me.

The story, in short, is about Tatiana who meets and falls in love with Onegin. After professing her love to him via a letter she writes when she can not sleep because he fills her mind, he rejects her and tears her letter up in front of her, sending her into tears and sadness. He then flirts with her younger sister, Olga, who is engaged to Lensky, Onegin’s friend. Lensky is very upset by this and challenges Onegin to a duel, where he is then killed causing Olga’s heartbreak. Onegin is ashamed and disappears, only to reappear later at a ball where Tatiana is now happily in love and engaged to Prince Gremin. Seeing Onegin sparks memories of her lost love, she avoids him, but then the connect and he realized how wrong he has been, and he truly loves her. She still loves him but tries to push him away to be true to her fiancee. Their romantic struggle is interpreted through a haunting pas de deux and struggle within her heart. The ballet ends without conclusion, but I felt she succumbed to him, her true love.

Cast, Saturday Matinee:

Onegin: Eris Nezha

Lensky: Alexander Maryianowski

Tatiana: Misa Kuranaga

Olga: Diana Albrecht

Prince Gremin: Paul Craig

This was also my first trip to the Boston Opera House, as other ballet’s I have seen have all been smaller productions at more local theaters. My mom’s gps unfortunately chose a Washington Street in a very scary area to gps us to, so we arrived minutes before the show started at our seats. The Boston Opera house is magnificent! From the gilded dome upon entry to the stunning chandeliers, this is definitely been the most beautiful theater I’ve ever been in! I could only imagine dancing on a stage like this. The only bad thing about the day honestly was the two people in front of us were rather large and took up more than their two seats, and the woman directly in front of me was large, tall, and wore a giant bun on top of her head. Theater etiquette people, DON’T WEAR YOUR HAIR SO BIG! There are people behind you that would like to see the show as well! I was lucky to be on an isle seat, so I leaned out that way to get a good view. Also, seeing as many attendees were probably dancers, the snack bar could have had some apples or healthy snacks, anything to eat was just candy and junk. (I had a glass of wine though, don’t judge!)

In Act I the music is light and cheery along with the dancing. The girls are gossiping and imagining their future weddings. Parties and celebrations are being planned for Olga and Lensky who perform a beautiful light hearted pas de deux, showing how much they are in love with each other. You can really feel the emotions from the characters, not only are they dancers, but superb actors as well. Onegin is introduced to Tatiana, and out of courtesy invites her to walk with him. Onegin seems to be a haunted character already. The Mr. Darcy type, or just seemingly uninterested in Tatiana’s affections. They share a beautiful pas de deux in the garden which closes the act. The strength of the dancers is incredible as the pas is full of sky high lifts and held balances. There was one scene during the party where the core de ballet performed continuous jete’s across the stage in  both directions, only holding the hand of her parter, it was magnificent!I was the beginning of Tatiana’s torment. She writes Onegin a letter in the middle of the night amidst not being able to sleep, confessing her love to him. Later on she sees him at a party and he tries to give it back to her but she insists he read it. He tears up the letter and rejects her, causing her heart to break. To spite her, he flirts with Olga, which angers Lensky into challenging Onegin to a duel which he looses and Lensky dies. Onegin regrets everything and dissapears, leaving both girls heartbroken.

In Act III Tatiana has blossomed into a beautiful young woman and is engaged to Prince Gremin. She is happy and content, and there is a ball celebrating them. Onegin attends and when he and Tatiana’s eyes lock there is clearly some tension and unfinished business. They meet and dance, she tries to keep away and stay faithful to her prince but he realizes how wrong he has been and begs for her forgiveness. She still has feelings for him, and he for her, developing a love triangle. Her heart and soul are torn in agony. Kuranaga is not only a beautiful dancer but a phenomenal actress, conveying the perfect dramatic intensity that pulls at your heartstrings and brings tears to the eyes. The finale is inconclusive, where Tatiana is heartbroken and torn, and the ballet ends with her about to go mad from it. I loved that, that last few minutes of the ballet with the music, the dancing and her rushing to the edge of the stage bringing her hands to her face in angst will replay in my head for years. The cast deserved the standing ovation! Bravo Boston Ballet!

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!

image

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:

image

image

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:

image

image

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!