Some of you may or may not know I have a tumblr. Essentially I like to keep the two separate because on my tumblr I have a tendency to complain and just be a little uncouth. It’s still very ballet oriented, and people have the ability to anonymously ask me questions about what I do, who I am, questions pertaining to ballet, etc. So I thought I’d go ahead and post some recent ones I’ve received:
what was one of the hardest parts about starting in pointe? do you have to do your splits before going on pointe?
The hardest part, is not to get caught up in foot arches. I had that stupid foot Dr. tell me I’d never get over my box, and that because I had stopped growing I couldn’t train myself properly to be over my box with a very flexed and body altered foot. So I forced myself to try- and I didn’t even have to(and now I’m injured). I have naturally high arches, and my feet and toes get stronger with every class, tendu, and degage, etc. I just needed time. Now I’m perfectly beyond my box without having full rotation in my ankle. Actually, maybe it’s not getting caught up in the small things. Just trust your teacher (if they’re a good one) and take your time as time is allowed. There is no rush.
You don’t have to, but it’s highly recommended. I mean I’m not on my splits yet, but I’ve progressed significantly since I started in the fall. It’s just nice to be able to do an arabesque, a penche, a developpe and things high up there, pointing towards the sky. Also… not everyone can say they can do the splits- but when you get there and if you keep them, I think it’s awesome to be one of those few people 🙂
how long does it take to go on pointe? do you think ballet is something that will be a part of your life for a long time?
Ah, the ever familiar “how long does it take to go on pointe?” question. Honestly it varies from person to person. Girls who’ve been doing ballet since they were very young start around 11-12 y/o. I started last summer, and was on pointe by February of this year. So it took me less than a year to be en pointe. Most definitely ballet will be apart of my life until I think otherwise. Thanks for your ask 🙂
what age did you start ballet? how are you able to both dance and work (i.e. have an adult life)? I’m a young professional and i’m having trouble balancing both because all i wanna do is DANCE! I want to go on pointe and take jazz as well. DO you have any suggestions?
I started when I was 3 left when I was 8(for family financial reasons). I started again at 26(I wanted to go back at 17 but family problems again). I work part time at a retailer that allows extreme flexibility in my schedule except for holidays. Which is a no brainer if you work retail. I think it depends on how serious you are as a dancer. I’m assuming “young professional” is that you’re a teenager working. When I wanted to go back to ballet originally around the middle of HS, I couldn’t. I was already working a PT job and the money I earned fed and clothed me, paid for me to get to and from school. My Mother checked out on me and left me to depend on myself. Even though she was receiving child support from my Father. During this time I was also in my relationship with my Husband, BF at that time, and I would take refuge in his company and his family to lessen the growing depression I had. All I could muster at that age was working PT, go to school and barely graduate, and focus on my relationship and art. Possibly, if I had considered it harder, and didn’t think I would have an art career in illustration I may have focused on dance more. It never occurred to me because both my parents put faith that I would succeed in art, though none of them could fund me to go to school for that pursuit.
I’m a truly blessed/lucky gal. I have a Husband that fulfills the other half of the financial responsibilities. When I say I’m “broke” it’s because I have no personal money to spend. Otherwise I use our money for important things that adults do. Car insurance, mortgage payments, food, etc. Having a supportive family is the best riches ever. Without him, I would not be able to do what I’m doing now.
My real suggestion is, really decide what you want in life. Depending on your age this is extremely difficult. You need to know what you want with your life. If your goal is to get into a dance company and make a career out of it, every day dancing, practicing, rehearsing and knowing your performing career will end around your 30s. Work as hard as you can finding flexible jobs that can cater to your necessary schedule. You’ll need stamina, and worse, you’ll need cash for everything. If and when all your hard work pays off and you’re in a company, you have a job in dance!
If that’s not an option, becoming part of a company, you can try and focus your skills at college to teach and if they have a dance program, do that as well. You can then teach dance instead.
Still, if that doesn’t suit your needs, you may have to settle for going to class every day for how ever long you feel like dancing.
I apologize if this was 1) late 2) depressing 3) not helpful . I do hope that you got something out of it. I had a hard time with this question, it really hit personally where I stand as an adult in my life. I don’t regret anything I’ve done because it’s all in the past, but I would definitely love to see an alternate version of myself succeeding earlier in dance.
I saw that you pulled your inner thigh from forcing a split. I did that a while back while doing a straddle/box split/whatever you call it. What kind(s) of exercises or anything do you do to come out of that?
There really isn’t anything you can do as far as an exercise goes. To get over it I’d recommend icing the area where it burns/is sore for no longer than 20 min.(this is extremely awkward but I did it) Taking hot baths in epsom salt, and letting it rest and not forcing it again. My straddle splits are still the worst but my front and back splits have progressed. When you feel better and healed doing the frog stretch for a bit then place a yoga mat on the floor against a free space along your wall. Lie on the floor with your butt against the wall, then open your legs to gravity. When it becomes too painful just bring your legs together again and rest etc. I used to do this in gymnastics. You could also try getting in a runners lunge, and placing your elbow against the inside of your knee and pushing it out with your elbow. You’ll get good stretches that way too.
Hope this works for you, thanks for your Ask.
when you look back to the first time you stepped in a studio for your first ballet class, what has your dance experience been like so far? what are some major lessons you have learned? also can you talk about your experience on pointe? the transition and your hopes? thanks for your feedback! love your blog 🙂
So far my experience has been rediscovering a facet of myself I had forgotten. I still feel stiff in expression and movement, but I know I have potential and a future of progress. It has been sweet and bitter all the same. To be apart of a group of loving people who are accepting and to teach me and to treat me as equal. Then to realize you’ve joined something so late that finding a permanent place in it is difficult if not pretty much impossible. Major lessons learned? Ask questions, settle yourself between girls who know what they’re doing, watch yourself when at the barre, don’t stare at your feet(even if you are amazed they’re working in ways you didn’t think possible), look yourself in your eyes(you are important), muster any confidence and believe you can do it, practice when you can, DO NOT BE SELF DEPRECIATING, smile, enjoy your fellow students, teacher and your whole class day it’s highlights and it’s low points. Pointe – by far has been my BEST experience. I have wanted to be on pointe since a little girl and I thought after starting up classes again last summer that it wasn’t impossible but it would be a couple years. I at least wanted to accomplish it before I had kids because kids make everything so much harder. Then to be told I could go en pointe in February was completely squashed by my adult mentality of “okay now I have to do this this this and there goes all my money.” So far my performance as a ballerina is 10x better on pointe than soft shoes. I wonder if this is because all the girls in my class are also new to pointe so we’re on a level playing field or the shoes umph my confidence that much more that I feel freaking fabulous! As far as my hopes, I really hope to be able to fully perform in them! Not just trot about, but absolutely do an entire… dance of some sort in pointe without falling over. I’m hoping by this summer recital prove to my pointe teacher that I can perform and be awesome without looking like a total boob on stage. My one thing though is that I continue to push myself into injury. It’s never severe, but it pushes my progress back. I pulled my inner thigh from forcing my splits stretch, and now my foot from over forcing my arch. Know that if you are a dancer, do not push yourself so far beyond. I don’t know why it’s encouraged in the competitive dance arena, but if you’re 16 and you have several hairline fractures in multiple places it’s not a sign of your awesomeness, it’s a sign you need to let yourself rest a little.
Thanks for the thought provoking ask. I try to be very thoughtful in all my responses, but this one had me take a lot of time and think. Thank you again for reading 🙂
how often do you get new ballet slippers? mine are SO worn out and i got them in january and they are bloch…
I have 3 pairs of shoes right now. My Leo’s I purchased back in Dec/Jan perhaps. I just noticed Tues night that they were starting to wear but no complete holes or anything. I’m still looking for the perfect soft shoe and have yet to find it. If you find yourself going through several pairs of soft shoes you may want to consider leather instead if you use canvas. Leather will last longer, and newer types have sewn inserts that allow the foot to breath so it won’t get so sweaty. Possibly the Bloch Pro-Lite II would be useful to you? If you’re not en pointe yet I want to encourage dancers to wear full soled shoes now a days. I really do believe it’ll make your foot stronger by working harder even if may be unflattering to your arch. Thanks for your ask, and I hope this was helpful!
If you have any questions you can leave me a comment! Or I was thinking of opening a formspring for anyone to ask questions on my blog 🙂
Did you know that there was such a thing as International Dance day? It was just yesterday! My School celebrated by having a benefit concert for a charity. A small donation and a silent auction helped drive proceeds to support the year’s benefit theme of “Life”. At first I wasn’t even sure I would make it to the event because I was scheduled to work, but I found out that I got off an hour and a half before the show and could make it no problem! So I did, with Hubby in tow. We got to watch all the dance teams perform multiple numbers, and it was a lot of fun being able to see everyone dressed up in costume in performance instead of in a black leo. Really cool to watch a lot of the girls I practice dance with actually dance, and without me- haha. Overall it was a pleasant evening and a good night.
The downside for me since last Thursday, is that my foot injury has been bothering me again. It doesn’t help that just a week before full recovery time, I stepped on it in a bad way and pretty much squared myself back to one again. So since Thursday I’ve been gimping about, icing it, and trying to rest it to no avail and think on Tuesday I will not be able to go en pointe or do any jumps and things. Just sitting here at the computer it hurts. Bawww… so lame, and with recital so close it’s double frustration not being able to practice properly. Hopefully after doing some errands today I’ll rest it, ice it, and try to keep still and off my feet 😦
YouTube videos I think you MUST see!
These Ladies are far better than even lil’ ol’ ME!!
I think I’ll pick up a few of their barre pieces for use at home. Or heck, follow the video at home haha! THEY EVEN DO PORT DE BRAS! FLOORED IN AMAZEMENT!
THIS little girl uses the simplest of moves for any beginner to use and has been choreographed the most beautiful piece!! And it’s just… changements, chasses, arabesque, tour jete, piques, just… basics!
Can I please dance like these peoples?!
Besides that, I have ballet technique today. I’m also in talks with my friend to see if I can visit her school, Exit Space, a school I’ve mentioned previously to give it a go. I’d also like to have her come up and try my school too! See what happens and give you a review of the school 🙂 Happy Thursday!
Last night was EXHAUSTING! I literally was panting and sweating profusely. I sweat a little but I mean I was shiny! My whole shoulders, back, neck. I was wiping sweat off my face constantly- I needed a sweatband bad! I had a poor fellow dancer having to place her hand on my sweaty shoulder, and then my teacher purposely bounced off me to illustrate what NOT to do and rolled into my sweat on my back- GROSS !!! I felt so bad for everyone LOL.
Pre-pointe started out innocently enough, but I found myself 30 min into class profusely sweating down the front of my chest. Usually I have that about an hour after class, but this was really quick. It wasn’t even that hot yesterday like it was during the weekend, so I have no idea why I was sweating so much more. We cleaned up some choreography, some girls were being accusing and blaming others for their mistakes. That was a whole bunch of unnecessary irritation. Because of our large numbers, Miss Jenny worked it so that we look like we’re chaotic, because sea weed doesn’t move in unison unless it’s a strong current or storm. Even still they’re individual and they all move independently. One though was still confused why we all didn’t move the same… IT DOESN’T MATTER!!! Same mentality in adult ballet, when you “pair” up with someone to dance across the floor it doesn’t have to be the SAME person, it’s just to get groups of people across the floor. Concentrate on what you’re doing, not what you’re doing as a group unless you’re doing that for recital. *Huff* Anyways…
In pointe I rocked it. I don’t know what it is, but I just blow through that like it’s nothing. I noticed my toes are pointing/flexing harder creating a more curved arch in my shoe when I use them. So when we did echappes I had to widen my legs more to get the right affect/look/stance. My teacher caught me using my thumbs to keep my balanced by pinching the barre. I didn’t realize this was a big foul but was wondering about it when she called me out on it- oops. Bourres were a breeze, I literally could do circles around these girls. So when I found myself on the other side of the room and girls still straggling, I decided to run off and help the GM girl. She had to wait three weeks before she got her shoes and by then a lot of use had strengthened and broken in our shoes. She’s frustrated she doesn’t get to join the major group dancing without the barre, but she really has no strength to get across the floor without a barre. Her frustration though needs to get in check, if she wants to do pointe and do it right she needs to relax and do the exercises and other strengthening in her own time. I wonder if she dismisses my help completely. I was trying to help her with her bourres but I may have approached her when her mind was completely frustrated, she didn’t want to listen.
BAH! Either way by the end of class I was already exhausted. My toes hurt and it felt good to wiggle them. I waited and then went up to my adult class. We did a lot of releve work at the barre, then a lot of leaps, and a lot of choreography. We had one mother return after being gone two weeks? She gets confused easily, so when we started the dance from the top I almost smacked into her several times because she just stopped and stared confused. We had to keep repeating balances and two chaines and then a stop and wrap skirt, I think I did that combo left and right at least 16 times. I was winded. Then we cleaned up a transitional part of the dance where I do two pirouettes in 8 beats to the left. I was so exhausted I could not land straight and just fumbled. I couldn’t spot properly, just… exhausted. Then we added a double pirouette at the ending of the dance, land in 4th then stand up and move to position for the finale. I was literally DEAD by the end of class. SO SWEATY. I managed to drive myself home with the seat heaters on high… purr. Husband fed me spam, rice, and chicken noodle soup and then I showered and flopped into bed to finish the night off with SpongeBob 🙂 It was a fantastic and exhausting night.
Now THIS looks like it’s worth my viewership!
Tuesday is indubitably the highlight of my week. Starting at 3 pm in the afternoon I get ready by hopping into the shower, I do a little tendus and relevés in there while I’m at it (haha!) Hop out and get ready throwing on some tights and a leo. Blow dry the roots of my hair and then toss it up in a messy bun with a scrunchie or go full blown bun with hair net and bobby pins, hairspray. Make sure everything is out of my face and away from my neck. Always add a touch of cute with a hair accessory! Make sure everything is in my bag and maybe a snack between classes or an energy drink and a bottle of water. Say goodbye to the dog and turn on the alarm and be out of the house no later than 4:20. Arrive around 4:40 at the studio, stuff my things in a cubby after pulling out necessities like leg warmers, shoes, and water bottle. Wait and watch the class ahead rehearsing for the recital. Mom’s start to pop in and bring little kids. There’s an adorable little girl who comes in and she’s keen to play with us girls waiting. Between students in my class and Moms coming to pick up the waiting area gets packed fast. Five before 5 the girls are let out, parents pick up their kids, and when there’s enough leeway to get in we shuffle in making sure not to bump any of the small ones. Place your stuff where you plan on being at barre AND SPEND TWO HOURS OF WORK!!! Yessssss… from barre work to stretches, to center work then pointe shoes and recital rehearsal! HAHA! Then the girls trot out and I wait 20 min before the adult ballet by rolling around and stretching and keeping warm and limber for the next class watching the pointe girls warm up at barre. Then I grab my stuff, and get upstairs and sit on the floor for adult ballet after all the kids have gone. Then another hour and a half of barre and center work and recital rehearsal. By the end of it all I’m exhausted!!! I just want some good food in my belly a quick shower and bed.
TODAY though, we’ll be practicing our recital rehearsal with the pointe girls as we’ll be all dancing together, pre-pointe and pointe. So far the pre-pointe class is a school of fish at first, then we’re a bed of sea weed, then a flurry of bubbles, then we zig zag chainé across the floor and then end up in separate groups on either side of the stage where I’m front, and swish my arms side to side in in a balancé. Then we do an arabesque and back lunge and swooshy arms… and I forget… Two dances is hard to remember especially working from one to the next… just lotsa stuff.
I leave you with the cutest lady who recently got en pointe at age 42 this February.
This is my ballet shoe bag! I’m finding I’d rather carry this bag by itself besides my large heavy gym bag but I often need the larger capacity. This is it’s contents!
Bloch TMT Axis pointe shoes in 6X
Leo split sole airabesque soft ballet shoes in canvas
Silicone toe spacers
Bunheads toe pads, large with custom toe “caps”
Smiley toe tape and tiny scissors
And my Bunheads alignment belt hidden under my shoes
Spreading like wildfire in the tubes that is the internet, a portfolio piece of concept art from an Industrial Design student has ignited a lust for these non existent shoes that Nike doesn’t even know about themselves, titled the “Nike Arc Angels.” While Nike does have an “Arc Angel” product in their line up, it happens to be a pair of sunglasses. A lot of things give away that this isn’t a real product, or anything that I think would really come into fruition. The pointe shoe currently has been adjusted over hundreds of years and it still remains nearly the same in shape and form. You don’t really change the wheel, you just upgrade it with spinners! Also if the commentary and spelling isn’t a give away for the person’s lack of experience with the shoes you’ll slowly come to the realization that yes, these are not real, how could anyone dance in these? One there is lack of support in the arch with no shank, any one beginning training or pro will realize this shoe would fail miserably and cause severe damage. The elastic with toggle would cause serious health concerns for the achilles. And the lack of stiff support in the box would actually have your toes crumpling up from your weight. The concept notes even state that it was modeled after an ace bandage. If anyone has danced or worked out in an ace ankle brace bandage you’ll know that it completely restricts movement and can cause weakness from dependency on it.
It continues to boast how it’s elastic bands will provide support… but for what and where? I don’t know. Especially if there’s no shank to support you! If anything they echo the look of modern dance wear shoes, like the Bloch Eclipse shoes.
It also goes on to share that most people don’t start training for pointe(and they spell it point) until they’re 20-30!!!!! While this is true for us Adult dancers, ummmm… I wonder what the world would be like if the YAGP no longer existed!
While the idea sounds pretty awesome, aesthetically, and for the purpose of doing pointe, these shoes would not work. And if it had non skid rubber soles like most Nike shoes have, I think the ballet world would be in a world of hurt. Personally I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw this going around the internet, but then we did some quick research and lo and behold just a tantalizing idea. When I think back on it about how uncomfortable I find my pointe shoes, I really don’t, but I do not spend hours a day in my shoes and am just beginning so I don’t have maximum experience.
Wild idea guy! I give you props for your presentation, but please do a little research on the product before you decide to change the wheel ;D
A new ABC tv show about “bunheads”. I saw this ad while visiting my Mom at her house. My Husband and I don’t have cable so I don’t always keep up to date on the latest TV has to offer. This of course caught my attention but it’s bubbly uplifting feelings makes me hiss and retreat. I’d gag on the acting and there would be no real engaging dances I’m sure… so… maybe younger girls can relate. Maybe I’ll catch an episode somewhere and we’ll see. What was funny though was that my Teacher mentioned this TV show to class ( and I was shocked she hadn’t heard of First Position!) and said her Husband asked “What’s a bunhead?” to which I quipped “you’re married to one.” Not that I was really part of their conversation she was just relaying her conversation with her Husband that he had no idea, after her owning a studio and being a dance teacher for over 20 years, what a bunhead was.
So we went back to class this week after a week off. I nailed it in pointe shoes. Not only did I do the exercises steadily and wonderfully that even my Teacher just gaped at me and I just grinned back, but I looked and FELT like a ballerina prancing around on the tips of my toes- so literally! High on top of the world! After weeks of my teacher training me in advance to the other girls in holding my body in the right position to be on pointe I could do it automatically without feeling like toppling over, my feet slipping from under me, or caring what my feet even looked like. It makes you hold yourself in attention and you HAVE to look at yourself. Utterly fabulous, exactly how you want to feel en pointe isn’t it?! We did burrés across the diagonal, so a longer distance than across the floor from wall to wall. A lot of horse clopping and tiny tiny burrés. Then we did a move which was like a balloné? Or something along those lines errr… well you’re in 5th position, you move your back foot out in a degage and then finish with that foot in the front so you’re moving or shuffling your feet from the back to the front. It’s a very static movement and you’ll see it in ballets all over. You just swish leg out and straight back in. Swish swish swish swish. There was some round movements going on and some girls barely getting it out away from the floor, so just the tiniest of degages haha. I loved it and it was so fun! Swish swish swish swish!
I admit I’ve been calling attention to myself. Not like speaking out of turn, but in a very ” I’m ready Teach! Tell me how I can improve more!!” but in a very subtle and silent way. I bought a $3 elastic belt in bright red that goes around my natural waist. I only wear it during pre-pointe, and the $3 investment has been significant! It’s called an alignment belt, and they aren’t used as often as they used to be or sometimes the waists of skirts will act as a guide. The belt really isn’t for your visual aid, but it can, more like it’s for your teacher to see your alignment when you’re working. You’re teacher will see your offset amongst the sea of black leotards and can further help correct you! You’ll get more attention and your teacher will also appreciate your further dedication and wanting to be corrected. So a tip for you students out there young or old. If you want more help buy an alignment belt and see how it works for you. I purchased a Bunheads one from my local dance store for $2.99. I can’t find it on their website currently but I’m sure your dance store will have them stashed somewhere.
Three of my favorite things to strengthen my foot, toes, and ankles:
Degagés – to “disengage” from the floor. A quick movement propelled out from the position by the leg, then the whole foot is vaulted from the floor by pushing the toes against the floor to vault the foot up keeping the foot pointed from that motion. Work through the entire foot and if you do it properly the last to leave the floor will be the very tips of your toes. Land the foot starting with the toes in a controlled fall, and work through the foot again to bring the heel back into the position.
Tendus – point your toes with all your grace and might and do it frequently! Remember turn out!
Sautés – work through the entire foot to lift from the floor and to land back softly as if you never made that gazelle leap.
I really believe your foot and toes will thank you if you’re currently doing pointe or are working towards it 🙂 Share with me any results with your alignment belt or any of the exercises, I’d love to hear!