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.
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!
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/
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!!
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!
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!
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!