Pointe Til You Drop’s Wonderful 10 Questions, 10 Answers

If you are an adult ballet dancer and not a regular reader of Johanna’s Pointe Til You Drop’s blog, I encourage you, I entreat you, head on over there! PTYD is good, good ballet dancer stuff! In a recent blog post, Johanna asked and answered ten ballet questions. You can use the link here to check out that post and see what she has to say.

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 Here are my responses to the Pointe Til You Drop Ten Questions, Ten Answers:

1. What is your favorite time for ballet class? 

I like evening classes. I am not a morning person by a long shot. Even though I am at work in the early morning hours – I don’t like it. If I didn’t work and only had dancing to think about, I’d probably be really happy with class around 10:30 or 11:00 am in the morning when everything is just starting to warm up and the sunlight is still pale yellow. I think I’d like to wake up to ballet class even more than coffee, and that’s saying something because I LOVE coffee. Unfortunately I am at work until around 4pm or 5pm so class at 8pm or 8:30pm is nice because I can eat, shower, change, maybe even take a quick nap before class.

2. How many classes do you take on a weekly basis?

Right now I take class Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday. But that changes with my working/teaching schedule. I try to take no less than four classes per week.

3. What do you eat before class?

I try not to eat anything heavy before class but I’m not always successful. I also try not to eat any dairy products because sometimes my tummy is sensitive to dairy and we don’t want that before class. Bananas are the best. Apples, peanut butter, coffee, cookies – snickerdoodles or madeleines are my favorites. If I have the time, a peanut butter sandwich, a banana, and coffee makes the perfect pre-ballet class meal for me.

4. What’s inside your ballet bag?

Everything in the world. I’m that girl who likes being prepared. I’ve got an shorts, tights, dance skirt, socks, two pairs of flatties, leg warmers, ankle warmers, a t-shirt or two, a warmie sweater, a couple of hand towels, face wipes, hand wipes, hairpins, hair elastics, hair brush, bobby pins, hair band, sewing kit, nail clipper, nail file, aspirin, band aids, compeed, lip balm, iPod and headphones, mints, kleenex, foot rollers, tennis ball, class journal and pen, change for the parking meter, water… and there is probably more. I’m amazed that I can fit it all in one bag! If I know I’ll be able to get into the studio early to warm up, I also take a mat, my small yoga blanket, and a foam roller but that’s kind of rare these days. 

5. How do you prepare for class?

I give myself an hour to drive to my ballet studio. It’s not that far but if there is just one traffic snarl, it could take an hour or even longer to get across town. So I have commute time before class and I listen to ballet class music or a great piece of classical music. Even when it’s warm, I put the heater on my legs for a little while. It helps warm my feet and legs up. I have to try to roll my feet – at least my damaged foot otherwise my foot will cramp. Once at the barre, I just try to move around a bit to get everything warm but I count on barre itself to really get my muscles ready for dancing. I also try to spend a moment in meditation to clear my mind and get ready to think ballet!

6. What’s your favorite part of class?

I still really love barre. My teacher likes to give really slow, torturous barre exercises that are designed to strengthen both body and technique. I adore it. I am usually sweated through before we even get to center. I have decided to really enjoy center and across the floor exercises are my favorite. If I get a couple of pique turns and some big arms movements, I’m a really happy dancer. 

7. What’s your biggest challenge in class?

I’m just not a natural dancer. I am not built to dance. Even just dealing with my own body’s proclivities can be a challenge – try being busty in ballet!!! Sometimes my brain tries to resist and sometimes my body just can’t accomplish what I want it to. Sometimes it’s tough to be in class with people who have crazy hyper extension or super archy feet or whose legs just magically swivel around to incredible turn out. My biggest challenge in class is to not get discouraged for being who I am and to not compare, which I know is a death-blow. When I can stay positive in class – that’s the key to coming out with a smile and good progress. 

8. What is your level? I am a solid advanced beginner. I think I can push toward a more intermediate level as long as I keep going and keep working. 

9. Describe a “moment” you had in class.

I have moments in almost every class. I am always striving to learn something and I’m paired with a teacher who is always striving to teach me something. We are on a mission. And that’s pretty awesome! 

10. What is it that you love about taking ballet class? 

Oh… what a question! We could be here all day but…

I love ballet class for what it is – a difficult and challenging task driven class, aimed at teaching/learning a very specific and classical technique. But I also love ballet class for all the magic that it holds. There is so much history, so many incredible people involved and attached, so much beauty and mystery and extraordinary magic! I love the grandeur of the music, the dichotomy of filmy skirts and the knitted leg warmers, the coolness of the barre under my fingers; I love being aware of a little bounciness in the floor. I love that I can disappear into a world of sound and movement, that I can be in my head yet working through my body at the same time. I love that even when I’m not in ballet class, dance has changed my life and now permeates through me completely. I love how ballet class has become my obsession while setting me free. I love that incredible friendships have been born out of class and how so many things in my life are now inspired by ballet. I love that just the thought of going to ballet class makes me happy and that I never leave the studio without a sweaty glow and a deep and abiding sense of joy that carries me through to the next happiness.

And there you have it, my ten answers to ten questions… feel free to answer the ten questions here, on your own blog (please link back to Pointe Til You Drop and give credit where credit is due!), or head on over to the FABULOUS Pointe Til You Drop and answer them there!

Thanks to Pointe Til You Drop for the inspiration and the questions. Everyone must follow this blog!!! Seriously, it is one of the BEST ballet dancer blogs on the interwebs <3

http://pointetilyoudrop.blogspot.com/

Fermenting for Dancers (or the Awesomeness of Ballet Fermentation)

My Awesome Ballet Teacher says a lot of great stuff. I swear it’s a good thing I have a great memory otherwise I’d be standing at the barre with post-its stuck all over the mirror because I have to remember what he says, it’s just that good. Actually, hmmm… that post-it’s thing might be a good idea.

Anyway, Awesome Ballet Teacher addressed something very important in class the other night, beyond all the great instruction and corrections for actual dancing, he stopped to address when people put too much emphasis on learning the steps and then get discouraged when they don’t get every step and every combination right each and every time. This is why my teacher gets gold stars. As an adult with no real background in dance, being in a dance class is like being in a foreign country complete with a foreign language and different customs and an unusual culture. It’s important for adult dancers to be given good information about how to space yourself at the barre and that you should tuck your laces into your shoes (please, please tuck your laces in, that drives me nuts) and all that but also how to work with ballet class mentally and emotionally. It isn’t like the gym where a trainer shows you how to use a weight machine and there you are counting reps. There is a lot of room for failure that doesn’t exist with number of other pursuits. It’s so very easy to get discouraged, especially in the early stage when each little simple thing is just so confusing and there are so many opportunities to make mistakes. So I really appreciate it when my teacher takes the time to talk to us about how to deal with the challenges of dance class.

Therefore I pass on to you the wise words that my Awesome Ballet Teacher had to say about getting discouraged. Don’t. Just don’t get discouraged. Try your best, focus, give your best effort and that’s it. When we give it a good effort and focus, ballet class does not leave us – we will keep thinking about it, as we are driving, brushing our teeth, the next morning while making coffee – we will keep thinking about it. Ballet ferments in our minds.

Okay, seriously, you have to admit, that’s pretty awesome – ballet fermentation!

All that ballet information will ferment in our minds and some day, maybe the next class or maybe ten classes down the line, all that fabulous fermented ballet stuff will find its way into our arms, legs, feet, everything and we will dance. Let’s just keep going to class, giving it our best, smiling when we progress, smiling when we fail, just keep dancing because dancing isn’t for someday, it’s for today.

Photo property of Align Ballet Method

~All will be well.