Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Hakuna Matata

It happens to ALL of us. We get nervous at productions or in classes or the like. Face it.

But hey, no judging.

I have simple instructions for this.

Hakuna Matata.

Yeah. No stress balls, psychologists, pills, nothing. These things just make it worse. They cloud your body and mind with artificial and harmful substances that just work to keep the nerves and feelings bottled inside, which doesn't help your case much.

Insane feet.

Just relax. I like to think of the worst and best case scenario. Examples:

Audition for a BIG part that would change your career.

Best Case Scenario: You do awesome and you get the part.

Worst Case Scenario: You do terrible and don't get the part, but learn from your mistakes and know what to look for in future auditions.

Now, looking at both the scenarios, you turn out okay in both. So why worry? Anything in between isn't going to be any worse. Statistically, being nervous actually HEIGHTENS your chance of failing. So just chill. Take some green tea with you and just, you know, hakuna matata.

Here's another example:

You are the Lilac Fairy in Sleeping Beauty.

Best Case Scenario: You do amazing and a talent scout happens to be in the audience.

Worst Case Scenario: You forget your piece, but since you read this blog, you know that the best things to do is to improv.

See? You could see the worst case scenario as failing terrible and ending your dance career, or you could choose to look at it in this light, making you less nervous, therefore through logical reasoning, less likely to fail.

Happy Memorial Day Weekend Everyone!

Friday, May 25, 2012

So a Ballerina Walks into a Barre......

Does anyone else feel like ballerinas are TERRIBLY clumsy outside the studio? Like when you walk into a door when all of your friends are watching and then unknowingly yell out "DOOR!". Yeah. Happens to the best of us.

BUT that is not what this article is about.


I am writing on the importance of barre class. If you feel tired or weighed down in the middle of class, it may be because you underestimate the importance of barre. Barre isn't just a portion of class to warm you up....it's like a class itself! Treat it like a peice you are learning; try to do your best. Make your plies deep, your frappes sharp, and your turnout steady and strong. This will improve your jumps, petite allegro, adagio, pointe, and stamina. Some of this also may be able to help with drowsiness.


Barre is also a good thing to do at home in between ballet classes. It improves your memory, muscles, and stamina. You come to ballet class with a clean slate and your muscles have automatic memory to barre, which allows you to concentrate more on correcting mistakes. This saves time in class instead of scrambling to remember barre.


30 minutes to an hour per day is all your body asks. Take this time to barre, stretch, anything else your body needs. It improves the sleek shape of the dancer and makes you over-all more healthy. Once I was asked, "So how long does it take to be good at ballet?" At first I thought they meant how long it takes to get to a professional level, but instead I answered, "Well, you never do. Dance is always about striving to be longer, healthier, more precise, better." And it's true.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Pointe Is...

Since I am very new on pointe (September 29, 2011 oh yes i still remember the date), I am still figuring out this freak of nature. I am convinced that humans were not meant to fly or stand on their toes, but it looks pretty so what the heck.

I use Russian Pointe Grandes, and this was my first pair. I recently purchased my second pair to wear for the concert next week. These are considerable harder than I remember, but they are supposedly EXACTLY the same. I have experimented with different padding, switching shoes, different warm-up techniques, everything! I didn't remember Pair 1 hurting this much; the only reason I got new ones were because Pair 1 was all torn-up and falling apart. They weren't dead, just ratty. I made a mistake. I put the old pair on today with fresh padding, and the felt like a second skin! Sooooo comfortable compared to my new shoes. I have spent all day today trying to soften my shoes up, with no success. Maybe I need to buy a softer shoe next time? I will not be getting Grandes again because 1) I am not happy with them and 2) they are discontinued. 

Pointe shoes should look like a part of your feet when you are wearing them. The picture shouldn't be a definite difference between the shoe and your feet. Here are some examples:

Michaela DePrince from First Position is one example I can give you. Watch her feet at 0:17.

Amazing, huh?

This is an example of a foot separate from the shoe.

See what I mean? During pointe class, think of your pointe shoes as part of your foot, not a shoe. They are extensions of your legs, not ballet apparel. You can get this look and feel through well-broken in shoes.
Did you know that a dancer generates a half pint of sweat in his/her feet per hour of dance class? I believe it, but ew.

Sleek Performance


For dancers, muscle building is key for professional development. I'm not talking about RRRRGGGGHHHH LOOK AT MY ARMS THEY'RE 5 TIMES AS BIG AS MY HEADDDDD. Dancers develop different muscles than many other sports and performing arts, ones that are more sculpted and sleek, less big and bulgy. Many of the muscles developed by dancers are inner muscles, such as the inner thigh, deep in the leg, or the core.  Muscle development varies directly to how many days (not hours) per week you are in the studio.

Misty Copeland

I only take classes on Monday, Thursday, and Saturday, a total of 6 hours per week. Not a professional schedule, I know, but I appreciate not being locked up every day all day with no contact with sunlight. This upcoming year, because my schedule will stay the same, I am planning on taking a higher level class on Tuesday, and any other classes I can the rest of the week, even if they are levels below me. Dance development has nothing to do with how many hours per week you train, but everything to do with how many days per week you dance. Even if you cannot dance every day, there is nothing stopping you from giving yourself your own dance workout at home.

When selecting a dance workout, be careful as to what muscles they are building. Watch or read the instructions carefully and think about what muscles they may be building. It is best to warm up with a barre. I suggest Pure Barre videos, or Finis Jhung videos found on DVD and YouTube. Or you could use your own barre from class. Maybe create your own.

I also suggest teaching yourself a variation from a famous ballet. This improves your teaching, choreography, and dancing skills. You will learn how to adapt a dance from a video, which will come in very handy in the future. Well-known variations include The Sugar Plum Fairy from the Nutcracker, The Lilac Fairy from Sleeping Beauty, and Swanhilda's variation in Coppelia

Core strength is extremely important for a dancer. Without core muscles, extensions would drop, leaps would be barely off the ground, balance would be nearly impossible, and pirouettes absurd. This expressed, you can NEVER have too much core strength. Crunches, 100s, sit-ups, planks, and the like must be on your workout schedule. 

Yoga and Pilates are considered very healthy for a ballerina, increasing balance, strength, and stamina. Try joining a club such as Groupon to get updates on special deals for yoga and Pilates classes. Special offers on Kindles are also very common. The other day I received coupon that included ten 90-minute yoga classes with a choice of a 15-minute massage or a 30-minute personal training session for only $30! Yoga is a very inexpensive and stress-relieving way to build muscle.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Sole Mates

Jane Winkworth
Jane Winkworth, British shoe designer and founder of French Sole Shoes

Ballet shoes are known for their light, comfortable feel, so much so that a type of street shoes were created after them, ballet flats. These versatile shoes don't come easy; many brands make them dig into your heel, itchy,  slippy, you name it! Jane Winkworth may have solved that. 

Jane Winkworth had a background consisting of the arts, and had a great interest the art of dance. Her greatest inspiration was Josephine Baker, the first African American dancer to join Folies Bergere in Paris, who also was a key influential in the acceptance of African dance as one as whole as ballet.

Winkworth designed her entire line to mimic the lightness of ballet shoes. Her company is the first to specialize completely in ballet flats. Her shoes are said to be extremely comfortable by many reputable sources such as Princess Diana, Reese Witherspoon, Kate Moss, and Sarah Jessica Parker.

Ballet-styled shoes are becoming very popular among the people everywhere, especially for their comfort and versatility. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tutu Tuesday

okay. close your eyes. think about your favorite tutu that you have worn. for me, it was this costume (me in the pink): 

i was a pretty snazzy stepsister, if i do say so myself.

pretty decked out, huh?

ANYWAY. Tutus are a very important part of ballet. Ballet is telling a story without using words, and costumes help us tell that story through theatricality. Many ballets requires specific costume for variations, the Sleeping Beauty ballet being one of them. The Bluebird variation requires a blue tutu with feather accents to insinuate bird-likeness, and Carabosse must wear dark clothing to signify evil. In Don Quixote, Kitri wears a Spanish tutu, usually red and black, to culturally match with the story.

There are many different kinds of tutus, such as Balanchine, Romantic, and classic Pancake.

Romantic Tutu
Love the Romantic Tutu.

Long and flowy, this ankle-length ballet skirt reflect it's time period. The tulle tutu is bell-shaped and free falling to emphasize lightness, and are in dark ballets such as Giselle and La Sylphide.

Pancake Tutu

This short, flat skirt is very full at the top, yet stiff with wires and hand tacking near the bottom layers. This kind of ballet tutu is used in countless variations, including the Lilac Fairy, the Sugar Plum Fairy, and many other principal parts.

Bell Tutu
La classe de danse-Edgar Degas

Bell tutus are one of the less common tutus, but are very popular at some old-fashioned dance companies. Slightly longer that a pancake, it is of the same construction but without wiring, kind of a cross between pancake and romantic. These tutus are often seen in paintings by Edgar Degas, as the one above.

Balanchine/Karinska Tutu
File:Barbara Karinska beit ariela.jpg

(Middle) Originally designed for the ballet of George Bizet's Symphony in C by Barbara Karinska, the "powder-puff" was often used by George Balanchine to extenuate the long legs of his dancers. With a similar anatomy of the pancake tutu, the Balanchine tutu has less layers of tulle than the pancake tutu, and no wiring, giving a flowy, soft look that expresses the length of the dancer's legs.

Platter tutu

Platters are almost exactly like pancake tutus, except they are completely flat and less full at the top. These tutus are often used for ballet class.

Just by researching this topic I learned so much! I hope that you expanded you knowledge on ballet apparel :)

If you liked this, see my post on Ballet Leotards.

oh. my. porcupines.

I have done it ONCE AGAIN. Ignored ya'll for another semester! So sorry! But in my defense, HIGH SCHOOL IS SOME TOUGH STUFF. So glad freshman year is over. Time to start anew as a SOPHOMORE! Woot woot!!


Okay. Another pledge I am going to make. And you can guess how it's going to go this time.

Whew. Here it goes.

I am going to blog throughout the summer.

Maybe even throughout the school year next year.

I don't know.


If I have enough time for Pinterest, I have enough time for Plies.

Love you guys, and thanks for being there for me :)

Since I'm a little rusty....... any ideas for blog posts?

What would YOU like to see at Plies?