Starting 2018 my friend and I went up to Cambridge for a open house at the José Mato Ballet Theater. I haven’t danced in 3 weeks due to holiday and my car breaking down and needing to buy a new one. Deciding to take this class at the highest level offered was terrifying since I have a hard time with confidence taking anything but beginner class.
But this year I’m going to push myself. There’s no way I’ll ever get better and understand the steps that confuse me if I don’t do them repeatedly. In he higher level classes I feel vulnerable, scared, like instead of flying, I’m just flailing. There are a lot of steps I don’t know, and that scares me, but if I don’t ever try it, it will be impossible to ever learn it.
So I will keep going to classes, both in and out of my comfort zone. Keep pushing, learning and practicing. Because one day it will pay off and I will fly.
My office was closed today in observance of the Veterans Day holiday (thank you Vets!) so there was a rare chance to attend class at 9am and it was taken advantage of! Since it was an advance class (which screams avoid! To me) nerves almost convinced me to not go, I’m that dancer that’s been in beginner/intermediate class for ages because of my issues with remembering combos and psyching myself out.
Arriving early and grabbing a coffe at the adorable French café next door, finding a place at the barre (in the back corner) and beginning class with a nice window view was a great start to the morning! The flow of class was enjoyable with emphasis on really using the upper body to dance and express movement. Adage was beautiful and manageable on my dim memory (even remembering it enough to write it down after) and for the first time in my memory of dance, feelings of grace and that my dancing wasn’t akward and floppy filled me instead of terror and nerves. I’m hoping this becomes a permanent change because it felt good!
Sadly, my current work situation requires 9-4 on Fridays and unlesss I’m a wizard and can start negotiating some remote work, it will be rare that this class can be attended (*cough* I’m sick)! But today was wonderful and productive!
P.S. I’ve had to write the last 2 blogs without using I️ because Apple is special and glitches! I️ am so annoyed!
I’ve been that dancer who has struggled with body image immensely over the past 4 years or so. Growing up in a mostly Italian family, it was encouraged to be a member of the clean plate club and seconds were always offered and encouraged. On top of that, everyone on both sides on my family are amazing cooks! Growing up it was never a problem because being so active in dance and gymnastics weight was never an issue and that call to Burger King after practice (and right across the street conveniently)!
Even when starting dance again as an adult, I’d been going to the gym daily, taught pole and aerial fitness classes 4 times a week, and had a very active job bartending (chasing drunks around was cardio)! The past few years, age has caught up with me and I’ve gained 20 pounds that scream at me when looking in the mirror, and cause me to hate photos, and love that photoshop is a skill that comes with my photography and graphic design job!
Now that I’ve been consistent with dancing again, and really want to continue to improve, workout consistency and training, as well as conscious healthy meal and snack choices are a must. A few months ago I’d come across The Dancers Best Body Program (www.thewholedancer.com) which includes healthy eating, nutrition, and inspiration which we can all use more of! Recently beginning to go through the lessons has inspired me to get back on track with multiple dance classes a week, a return to aerial, and conscious eating.
I’m going to start keeping quick and easy meals on the blog here because if you’re anything like me you just don’t have time for all the elaborate meal prep that diet plans require. If anyone knows any clean eating resources for quick and easy meals, link me in the comments below!
Tonight’s pre-class dinener took about 10 minutes!
It was easy and a good source of both protein and carbs for energy as well as a good helping of dark leafy greens.
• 1 cup whole wheat ziti
• small chicken breast (palm sized)
• 1 cup steamed spinach
• A few spoonfuls of organic pasta sauce with herbs
Now it’s off to stretch my calves that are still sore from yesterday’s class!
So I’ve (proudly!) been back to consistent ballet classes for 8 months straight! This has to be a personal record, and since no financially devastating events have happened to make classes unaffordable like has happened in the past, I’ve definitely seen progress. While I have been dancing since I was 22 (9 years) as an adult, until the past 4 years ago I was very inconsistent so progress, especially on pointe, would leave me back at square one frequently. My first year of college I was able to take multiple classes a week at the Boston Ballet which was a few minutes away from school and ballet/ contemporary and pointe at The Studio: A Dance Center for adults whenever I could.
I’ve always been that person to forget combos, and have to follow someone, which is probably still true if I took more intermediate classes (which I will do once I’m out of busy photography season) but right now I’m happy in my awesome beginner class where I’m feeling like I am progressing and re-learning the basics I never learned when I started because the studio I attended was more focused on performance. I still fear I will never be good at petit allegro, but it’s getting better!
I’ve always been told practice makes perfect. With being an artist, dancer, gymnast and learning an instrument, it is always practice! But I’ve come to determine that practice will NEVER make perfect. Why? Because perfection, and striving for perceived perfection, is unrealistic and will drive you completely mad reaching for something that is unlikely to be achieved!
Instead, I aim for better. Even if it is just one little thing I do better than at my previous class….a longer balance, better turn, remembering the combo…BETTER is better than driving myself mad over unrealistic goals. I still have that dream of being on stage someday, but for now I’ll just be over here working hard on my strength and getting back to 3 classes a week to improve!
Alicia(thankfully I’m also a better photographer than when I did these as well!)
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?
Here are a few photos from class tonight!
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!
Bad things I say about myself is the topic of the day in a dance forum I belong to. Well this is a good one for me because I’ve been self-doubting and talking bad about myself for years. Mostly because when I used to be confident, people who didn’t know me judged me on how I looked and called me a conceited stuck up bitch. Once they actually got to talking to me they’d tell me how nice I was and how everyone says I’m stuck up because of how I look. (Believe me I don’t think I look that great but I would do my hair and makeup and felt pretty, I guess thats being conceited). So I started talking down on myself before other people had the chance too because it hurt me so much. In college once we had a show where we had to do 5 pieces, and I did a series of self portraits in photography of me doing ballet in random outdoor places. One girl in my class tore me apart and said I was the most conceited person she ever met because the whole thing was a “shrine to me” and that I “must think I’m so great” when most of them you couldn’t even see my face, I didn’t have any models, and I was so new to photography I really didn’t know what I was doing. I remember going to Starbucks after and crying to the barista. I was bullied in college a few years later again, by a girl who was threatened by me and tried to get me kicked out. (What the heck is wrong with people!!!??) After that whenever I would present work or meet people I would instantly bash myself before they could, and sadly it worked. I haven’t been called conceited or stuck up or a bitch since I started putting myself down. I’m trying to break the habit now, because I’m trying to love myself and not care what people do or say about me. It’s their choice to be judgmental instead of getting to know someone, and if that’s how they want to be then its their issues with themselves and shouldn’t be mine. I think really immersing myself in yoga has helped me a lot with this, and about looking within myself and seeing my worth regardless to other peoples opinions. I started calling myself fat, useless, an awful amateur photographer, I suck at art, I suck at dance, I suck at life, and everything in between. It was so much easier to devalue myself before someone else could make me feel useless. I felt sad and depressed all the time. I threw out multiple pieces of art because I thought if I showed anyone they would just say it was terrible and I couldn’t take any more negativity. If I felt it already, it couldn’t get worse right? I’ve been constantly bullied and put down by people everywhere I go, and at every stage of my life. I even had an older woman say some rude judgmental stuff to me here at work last week which upset me. I’m not going to let their problems be my problems though. I see the beauty in everyone, and I hope someday the people that hurt other people to make themselves feel good can learn to see that too.
Starting a blog and vlog were really difficult for me because of how I’ve been judged before. I thought, if I start this the comments are going to come again “oh look a blog all about you you you you conceited bitch”. That fear stopped me from writing and photographing for years. I just recently started creating self portraits through photography as artistic expressions of my fears, hopes and dreams inspired by my favorite self portrait photographer, Brooke Shaden. I took her workshop back in November, and she is such a beautiful and positive soul!
I’m going to keep creating, regardless of judgmental people. If they want to leave mean comments, thats marks on their character, not mine. My soul is going to be free to create and live the life I want, not trying to hide in the shadows because of other people and their insecurities. Why shouldn’t you be proud of the amazing things you can do?!! I find uplifting people so much better than tearing them down to get ahead or because someone is different. Follow your passion, and don’t let anyone stop you!
If you want to see my fine art photography work, visit https://www.facebook.com/AliciaHeaneyPhotography/