Tuesday, December 9, 2014

*insert expletives here*

The Freed is a no-go. I kind of want to curl up in a corner and cry. I've purchased and worn SO MANY pointe shoes this year (7 different shoes to be exact), and most of them for only a couple of classes each!

It's a good thing I'm single with no dependents, because good Lord.

Ye olde box of pointe shoe rejects

The Freeds really seemed like they were going to work, but apparently they're too narrow for my foot (though I didn't notice a problem when I tried them initially). The box has gotten mushed out of shape on the outside (pinky toe edge), and the shoe is twisting which is shifting my alignment off the platform (i.e. instead of being over my big and second toes, I'm shifted over my pink toe! NO GOOD).

You can see how I'm leaning to the outside of my feet in this shot. This is bad.

When I had shown them to the AD of the school originally, she'd expressed some concern over that side, but in the end was willing to let me give them a shot. I had two different teachers look at them yesterday (now that they're more broken in) and both said they thought the box was too narrow. LESSON: listen to your teachers, kids.

Note the awesome pinky bulge and how the shoe doesn't look straight

On the plus side, I *did* really like the 3/4'd shank and didn't have any issues with that. I was also able to wear very little padding with these (even though the box is really wrong). I had it down to a thin gel tip on my big toe, tape on my pinky toe and both bunion joints, and the toe of an old sock as a "pad." Go me!

I had cut the shank of a pair of the Bloch Heritage (the 5.5XX) as one of my practice pairs (as I mentioned in my Pointe Shoe Surgery post), and while trying it on during that process, I noticed that it didn't feel half bad. I'm wondering if my problems with that shoe came from too much padding, and so may give them another shot. That would at least save me some money.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Pointe Shoe Surgery

I'm trying yet another new pair of pointe shoes, this pair recommended to me by a shoe mistress from a professional ballet company.

They're a Freed Wing Block, size 5.0 XX. Wing Blocks have hardcore shanks, and one of my issues with the RPs (according to the shoe mistress) was that they weren't conforming to my arch properly, and were restricting my technique. She recommended that if I wanted to try the Freeds, I should 3/4 the shank, and suggested I practice on some old pairs to work out exactly where it should hit my foot.

Cutting shanks is not an easy-peasy chore, let me tell you. I experimented on several different pairs (two different old pairs of Blochs, and the RPs) and it was sort of fascinating how different the shanks were in each pair.

The Bloch Heritage shank, cut and beveled

Alas, those shanks did not prepare me for the Wing Block shank. While I was able to cut ALL of the aforementioned pairs with a Stanley utility knife, that knife (and my fancy Boker pocket knife) proved to be no match for the Wing Block. I ended up having to use hardcore wire cutters (thanks, dad!) to cut that sucker, and then file it down to a bevel so that it wouldn't cut into my foot.

Post-surgery Freed Wing Block (complete with fancy pink duct tape)
I haven't had a chance to wear them in class yet (will have to report back), but I can already tell I'm going to have to switch up my padding, as the Ouch Pouches feel far too thick. I suspect lots of tape and maybe a sock toe are in my future, but we'll see.  Switching shoes is always a complicated journey. One day maybe I'll get everything perfect!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Stretching > Jumping Jacks

During a meeting between the advanced class and the AD recently, someone suggested that we add a stretching class after one of our technique classes. All of us loved that idea--it would give us a chance to work on our flexibility while we were nice and warm, and relax a bit as well.

Well, apparently we got the wrong idea, because this class actually happened, only it was called "Strengthening, Conditioning, & Stretching," and involved lots of unpleasant things like jumping jacks, planks, push-ups, crunches, and lunges (oh, and a little stretching). I am not here for this.

Now, on one hand, I like the idea of conditioning and working on my core so that I can balance and turn better and so forth, but I've already been feeling a little bit like I'm overdoing it (and my body is telling me I am correct). I can't help but think that doing 100 jumping jacks is not going to improve matters.

In addition, I dance (or take dance-like classes like Zumba) because I hate the gym. It's boring. There is nothing exciting about holding a plank, or doing 15 lunges, or walking on a treadmill. I like to trick myself into working out by doing other, more exciting things (i.e. working on my arms and core by doing silks). So this kind of class makes me want to bang my head against a wall. Plus, the heel/ankle did NOT like all those jumping jacks (I think jumping is causing and/or aggravating my foot problems, which is a whole other post)

I realize this entire post is totally whiny, but I was miserable. I'm sure part of my problem is that I continue to be a pathetic weakling in many areas, and I have past injuries that get aggravated (i.e. the knee), but I just don't know if I can really manage that class right now.

I wish it WAS just stretching.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Full Speed Ahead

Rehearsals for our winter show are in full swing right now, which means all of us are starting to get a little exhausted and stressed. We're all doing our best to stay healthy, but it doesn't help that dance studios are giant incubators for germs. I caught a cold last week despite my best hand sanitizing/washing efforts. Boo.

I'm in the same role as last year, a dancer in the corps (which performs all the big group dance numbers). I've managed to remember some of the choreography (yay!), though several dances are changing slightly, plus they're adding one!  We're in seven (!) numbers, and it can be pretty exhausting. I feel like a corps part is actually better than a lead part (of which there are very few in our production) because you're basically in the ENTIRE show. Plus, lots of dancing, which is what I adore anyway.

I think I own more dance shoes than regular shoes.

In the land of silks, things are progressing a little more slowly, but I've finally seen some progress! I was able to pull myself upside down (though I have yet to master the straddle overs), and I completed the first part of a climb and actually just stood and hung out there. They technically have a little recital at the end of the intensive, but I can't imagine I'll be anywhere near ready for that (though the teacher told me I could "do some high kicks, because I know you can." Heh!)

Friday, November 7, 2014

Pointe Shoe Saga: The Return of the Bruised Toenail

So, apparently my search for the perfect pointe shoe ISN'T over. As I mentioned in my last post, I recently got a bruised toenail from the RP Entrada Pros. I've also started getting some cramping along the outside of my foot, under my smaller toes. That can't be good, right?

I'm back on the hunt. The next shoe victim looks like it might be a Freed.  Will the Freed suffice? Are my feet too sensitive? Am I too old for this nonsense? (Maybe, possibly, probably).

We shall see.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Frustration Station

I've been meaning to update y'all on the crazy that is my dance life right now (maybe even with pictures!) but I haven't had much of a chance to sit down, or to take said pictures.

Rehearsals are going well, though are exhausting as per usual. Because we're doing a musical, rather than a ballet, a lot of the dances are in character shoes (with a 1.5 inch heel), and that is its own special sort of torture.

However, if the title of my post is any indication, that's not what I really came to post about. I am completely and totally frustrated by pointe at the moment.

After my original foot problem, I eased back up onto pointe and was starting to do full classes in them (re-conditioning ones feet to pointe shoes is no fun. Especially when one is still sporting a super awesome bruised toenail on one foot). Then, of course, my luck went downhill. Two weeks ago, I started getting some pain in the Achilles area of my OTHER foot. Saw the doc, and it seems to be a different problem (just some inflammation, likely from overcompensating because of the other foot), so I'm on a heavy dose of anti-inflammatories and need to ice, etc. Luckily the doctor said I could still do pointe, as long as I didn't have pain.

Well, I don't have pain, exactly, but it feels weird. I do have some aching in the mornings, so I'm not sure what the deal is. In the meantime, I've also totally lost all my strength (or at least that's what it feels like), and have suddenly become hyperaware of my shoes, and how TINY the platform is. I mean...there's no wiggle room to get onto pointe like there is in a shoe with a wider platform (i.e. the Bloch Heritage I was wearing for awhile). I'm either on, or not, and that's sort of petrifying because if I miss? I'm down...I could fall, or sprain an ankle or whatever. Or at least I'm paranoid about doing so.

Also? Now both my big toes are bruised, which makes me wonder if the RPs are right for me (whimper). Between the platform and the bruised toe, I'm thinking I may have to go on a shoe hunt again, which does not thrill me in the slightest. UGH.

#dancerproblems, am I right?

Friday, October 3, 2014

In which I am a weakling.

I've always been of the opinion that dancers are strong, and therefore (as a dancer) I probably have more strength than the average person.

Apparently I am not nearly as strong as I supposed. In fact, I would venture to say that I am pathetically weak. This is a slightly distressing development.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I've started taking some aerial silks classes. I expected it to be difficult, because I knew going in that I have no arm/upper body strength. I didn't expect to discover that I have absolutely no core strength, and lack some degree of leg strength (specifically the inner thighs...which was unexpected to say the least since I try to be conscious of using my turnout muscles in ballet class).

I have a perfectionist sort of personality, so its frustrating for me when I'm not automatically good at something. Silks is something I am not automatically good at. Everyone else is class is able to climb, wrap their feet in without hands, and hang upside down, while I'm still down on/near the ground (the wrapping is easy, the holding myself up with my arms is not).

Last night, I was doing a splits maneuver (close to the ground), and while I'm able to get a great split (even the teacher said, "Your splits are amazing!") I don't have the strength to get OUT of it (lots of inner thighs and arms involved). Ugh. The frustration of it is simultaneously making me think, "Maybe this isn't for me, I should quit," and "Screw this, I am going to do ALL the strength training at home."

Since I've already shelled out the money for an 8 week long intensive for the silks, apparently my option is the latter. While watching my struggle out of the split, the teacher said, "I have homework for you: STRENGTH TRAINING." Later, she gave everyone the rundown on things to do at home that would help. This basically consists of planks, sit ups, push ups, and ALL THE PULL UPS.

My specific homework? Actually DO the homework. Ha.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Review: Barreto Dancewear

As you all can probably tell, I'm obsessed with custom leotards. I love the idea of having something unique. However, because (as I've mentioned before) I am a curvier dancer, it can still be hard to find something that fits perfectly. I decided that instead of continuing to try the more expensive and popular brands (Eleve, Yumiko), I would try a smaller shop and see if I could get something that fit me a little more exactly.

I had great luck when I found Barreto Dancewear. The owner, Elizabeth, is a dancer with Idaho Ballet. Her designs are clean and flattering, and the majority are available in solid (but colorful) fabrics and mesh, though she does have a couple designs that have fun patterened fabric choices as well. There are a LOT of colors available (both in nylon/spandex and mesh), so your color combinations are pretty endless.

Evora in Jade nylon/spandex.
I decided to try two leotards with short sleeves: the Marie and the Evora.  Before I ordered, though, I sent Elizabeth a message asking about sizing (the shop states that sizing is similar to most major leotard brands). I mentioned that I was an adult dancer, and had a lot more hip and leg than is typical. I also mentioned that while I wore a large Eleve, the leg holes tended to be snug. She responded quickly, telling me to submit my measurements with my order and she'd make the leotards a little roomier in the hips and legs for me. SQUEE.

The typical wait for a leotard from Barreto Dancewear is about 3-4 weeks. I got mine in about 3, and tried them on immediately. Verdict? I LOVE THEM.

Marie in aquamarine nylon/spandex with white mesh.
(the girls in my class dubbed this my "Elsa" leotard, ha!)

The fabric is soft and wonderfully stretchy, but also nice and thick. It is also matte (which I prefer), but you want shiny there are a couple of colors that offer that option. Both leotards also automatically came with a bra lining. And of course, they fit like a GLOVE. No squeezing of my poor thighs to oblivion!

The lighter fabric of the aquamarine IS a little more see-though, but the bra lining blocks out any boob issues. I was worried about...er...lower down, but with tights it's perfectly fine.

I've worn them both to class, and they are lovely. No slipping, sliding, or adjusting. Just pretty and flattering!

I plan on buying many more in the future (I quite like the short sleeve style on myself, so I'm eyeballing the Ashley [basically the Evora, but with a zipper]). They're also very reasonably priced, especially for something so customized. The majority are $40 (US) (some models are a little cheaper or more expensive, depending).

The shop has some more styles coming soon, so keep an eye out.  I'm hoping that at some point she offers something that involves both the patterned nylon/spandex AND the solid (I don't think I could handle a whole leotard with a pattern on it). But there are plenty of options to keep me occupied in the meantime.

11/11/2014 ETA: Recently noticed that her prices have gone up a touch, and now vary between $40 and $50 (most are $42 and $44).

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Updates and A New Adventure

My apologies for the radio silence for the past few weeks! I haven't had too much to report because we've been in the "calm before the storm," period of the fall session, gearing up towards preparing for our Christmas show. We just had auditions, and rehearsals will be starting soon.  Here comes the crazy! (In case you're curious, I didn't [have to] audition; they just throw me in the corps, which basically dances the entire show. It's exhausting but fun!)

I started up back on pointe again last week (I've been easing up to it so I don't irritate my foot), and did about half a class (both because of caution and comfort). I'm going to have to build up my pain tolerance again, it seems.

My poor, neglected RPs.

I have been up to some other shenanigans, though. One of my co-worker buddies has been taking aerial silks for several months now, and has been trying to convince me to try it out. A couple of weeks ago, I went with her to an open class and promptly discovered that while I have flexibility and leg strength, I have no arm or core strength. That's not stopping me, however, as I'm deeply intrigued by it all, so I'm doing an 8-week beginning aerial silks intensive starting next week! I am nothing if not insane (because its completely normal to not only start multiple rehearsals, but a whole other class as well). We'll see how it goes. Like I said, I have no arm strength and a sad amount of core strength, so I'm hoping to work on that (the core will definitely help with dancing, too).

Monday, September 8, 2014


Jazz is a new dancing adventure for me, but because of my ballet technique I feel like I handle it pretty well. There are occasional steps that trip me up (i.e. turning with my passé parallel, or axle jumps), but overall I feel like I make it through class with pretty minor embarassment.

It helps that the jazz teacher is super encouraging. He has complimented my technique before, telling me how clean and smooth my movements are. Sometimes I feel like this isn't always a good thing, depending on the music we're dancing to, but he seems to disagree. After class the other evening, he came up to me and told me that I make him laugh, but in the best way--"The music is going 'boom tiss boom tiss' and there's Miss Jackie, all elegant and graceful. You're like a nightingale." When I mentioned that I thought it wasn't a good thing for that particular music, he said, "No, it's great. Everything is so smooth and clean."

I wasn't entirely sure what he meant by nightingale aside from the bird (surely not Florence?), but birds are graceful right? I'd been wanting a fun dancing nickname (several other adults at the studio have them), and apparently that might be it.

by Robert Bridges

Beautiful must be the mountains whence ye come,
And bright in the fruitful valleys the streams wherefrom
Ye learn your song:
Where are those starry woods? O might I wander there,
Among the flowers, which in that heavenly air
Bloom the year long!.

Nay, barren are those mountains and spent the streams:
Our song is the voice of desire, that haunts our dreams,
A throe of the heart,
Whose pining visions dim, forbidden hopes profound,
No dying cadence, nor long sigh can sound,
For all our art.

Alone, aloud in the raptured ear of men
We pour our dark nocturnal secret; and then,
As night is withdrawn
From these sweet-springing meads and bursting boughs of May,
Dream, while the innumerable choir of day
Welcome the dawn.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Left turns are my arch nemesis

I think most dancers favor one side or the other when turning, and a lot of us seem to favor turning to the right (clockwise), including myself. It doesn't matter what leg I'm actually turning on, but if I'm going clockwise, I can turn pretty darn well. I've even managed some consistent triple pirouettes and consecutive fouettés in that direction.

I was having some major problems with the left (counter-clockwise). Doubles were sloppy at best, and there was no way I could manage a triple. We won't even talk about my fouettés on that side (ugh). I was getting frustrated, and the mental roadblock wasn't helping.

So I started going through my mental list of what I was doing on the right that I wasn't doing on the left. First major difference? For some crazy reason, my foot moving up into passe was taking its sweet time.

Adjustment #1: Hit passe more quickly.

When I do right turns, I mentally visualize my opposite side coming around to help me turn (i.e. pirouette en de hors to the right, I make sure that my left side follows and isn't being left behind).

Adjustment #2: Bring opposite side around--don't leave it hanging!

By just adjusting these two things, I've managed to clean up my lefty pirouettes pretty well over the last week--so much so, that I managed a CLEAN triple pirouette to the left last night in jazz class! Score!

Fouettés are another story...

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Tights Update!

Everyone!  The lovely capri tights are indeed from Target! They are $6 nowadays (which...hmph), though at my local store they had a few in the clearance bin in fun colors (which I may have purchased. Because aqua capri tights are totally dress-code).

The tights are usually in a bunch of bins on an end cap in the hosiery section. Beyond capri tights, they also have footless, and regular footed tights in a variety of fun colors (be careful when you're picking out tights, they often get mixed in the bins).

I got the M/L size, and it fit me wonderfully (as I mentioned earlier). As I've also mentioned, I'm curvy in the hips/bum, and these weren't too snug anywhere. Yay!

This is the waistband. Yay, no elastic!

The leg opening has similar construction. I wear them just under my knees, but they would stretch down to mid-calf. The leg opening isn't too snug either, so if you have muscular calves (which I bet you do if you're a dancer), you won't feel like they're cutting off your circulation.

They are not opaque, though not totally sheer either. I would actually feel pretty comfortable wearing them over my leotard without a skirt. But they are definitely NOT like leggings.

In short? If you like to wear capri tights to class, you should swing by your nearest Target and pick yourself up a few pairs of these. At $6, you really can't go wrong.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The perfect tights

I was digging around in my tights bin the other day, and happened upon a pair of black capri tights. I decided to give them a whirl at some point (since I'm experimenting with my class look), and stuffed them into my dance bag.

Today was the day, and THEY ARE AWESOME! They're super soft and stretchy, aren't too snug (but not too loose either), and don't have an evil elastic waist (its the tight material folded over in a 1.5" band), so I don't get the dreaded "sausage" look! LOVE.

The bads news? They have no tag. I have no idea from whence they came (or what size they are). I did some pondering, and I suspect they might be from Target (the cheapy $5 ones), because I'd gone on a mini-spree there last year and got some colored versions to make dance shirts out of. If they are, I'll be sure to let you guys know, because $5 awesome tights are awesome.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Life Isn't Fair (if you're a teen)

As I've mentioned before, my current ballet studio has a set dress code for its students. Each level has a specific style/color of leotard that they're required to wear for class, and there is a no skirts, shorts, or pants rule (though they're okay for jazz).  There are only two exceptions:
  • Adult students (18+) can wear whatever they want (and men/boys obviously have different rules).
  • It's that time-o-the-month.
I attend class with the intermediate/advanced teenagers (aka: Grade V, even though we don't follow a syllabus), and that class also has a set leotard (a black Capeizo BraTek).  However, because I'm over 18, I can (and do) wear crazy leotards, shorts, skirts, and leggings.

My bin of (crazy) leotards.

The girls are mostly in the 12-16 age range, so they're at that point where they're getting uncomfortable with their changing bodies and want to hide them. This results in semi-sneaky attempts to wear shorts in ballet. Each time the wardrobe mistress notices, she makes the girls remove them while the girls grumble and groan, but overall its usually a fairly peaceful battle.

This week it got a little heated. Apparently, there had been a lecture regarding shorts and the dress code on Tuesday (I wasn't there, but the AD mentioned it later). Despite said lecture, some of the teens were wearing shorts again on Wednesday. Wardrobe!Mistress noticed, and told the girls to remove them. They didn't, and were still wearing them when we were setting the barres up for class.  As you can imagine, the wardrobe mistress got annoyed

"Take them off NOW," she said, glaring at the ladies in question.

"But Glorie doesn't have to!" was the argumentative response.

Um. Awkward.  Of course, this was a day when I was wearing the most random outfit ever--my Laico leo with a black sports bra (complete with showing straps!), pink tights, and knee length black leggings. Not to mention one leg warmer around the ankle of my healing foot. If there was ever a human that did not fit the dress code that day, it was me. Wardrobe!Mistress reminded them that I was an adult. Arguments continued. Finally the shorts came off and class went on as normal.

After technique class, the teens stayed to do some partnering, but I skipped out because of my foot. I ended up talking to both the AD and the wardrobe mistress about my attire. I suggested that I could at least wear black leotards so that I looked like a part of the class, and maybe a simple black skirt (to still have "adult" status). I was slightly surprised and delighted when they both said, "NO. You're an adult. You've earned it. You can wear whatever the hell you want." Well, yay!  Not that I'll ever wear shorts again, because I have discovered they are completely unflattering on me.

Also good because I totally just ordered two new custom leotards from an Etsy shop (I'll be sure to review when they arrive, but it will be at least a month), and neither is black. Oops.

*UGH BRAS. I'll get into that in another post.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Back to School

Classes started up again yesterday, and apparently I have no self control and am an overachiever.

It started out mildly enough.  I attended the normal intermediate/advanced class, only doing limited relevé, and did not jump (much to my sadness--sitting out of grand allegro was a little painful).  This class is followed by pointe, but because none of us are on pointe at the moment (everyone has been on break), it ended up being another class (except with tons of relevé--which I did not do, save for some turns and balances). 

Despite my (poor) attempts not to do too much, things were a little achy in the foot when we finished. So, when I got home I took some Advil, and iced it in a bucket of ice water.  Happily, I don't seem to have done any major damage--I did a small rise on both feet this morning and it didn't ache (whew).

I really have to remember to ease back into things properly and SLOWLY.  Which means both taking just ONE class a day, and fewer classes during the week.  I have no idea why this is such a complicated concept for me to master.  I guess I feel strange and a little useless just marking through combinations while everyone else is working hard. I have to keep reminding myself that I won't be back to it any quicker if I get re-injured.

Also on the plus side, all of this non-jumping should be really good conditioning for my port de bras and épaulement!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Note to Self: Injuries can be a sign you're over-doing it.

My apologies for the lack of posts! The foot/ankle is still being a jerk, so I haven't been dancing, and therefore have had nothing to report (except for complaints about being antsy).

I went back to the podiatrist today for a check up to see how/if the injection had helped anything. The pain on the inside part of my ankle has disappeared (hurray!), but a pinchy feeling is still occurring on the outside, sort of back near my heel. It doesn't hurt too badly if I just prop my foot up, but as soon as I put weight on it (a la relevé), it gets all grumpy.

The doc felt around and pushed that area a bit, and I definitely had pain. Turns out that it was my joint (the subtalar joint, to be exact). That made me a little panicky at first, but apparently it's just another inflammation thing (yay synovial fluid!) I likely had BOTH tendinitis AND the subtalar issue, thanks to my crazy dance schedule this past spring. Good times. I got another steroid injection (different side of my ankle this time), and so far it feels tons better (I'm numb and only an two hours in, but YAY).

If it continues to feel better, I can return to dance classes next week when the studio re-opens. I'll have to take it easy--limited relevé, no jumping or leaping. But at least I'll be back!

The bad news is that when the doctor was telling me what not to do (i.e. jumping) he noted that a lot of problems with that joint come from impact. Our studio does not have sprung floors, so I'm sure the combination of that PLUS my drastic increase in dance was not helping matters. (I feel like this combo is also to blame for the shin splints I got last year).

I'm thinking of cutting back a bit when things start up again; at the height of my craziness last spring, I was taking 7+ classes a week, and had drastically increased my time en pointe because of our spring show. Even my mom thought I was over-doing it. I'm thinking of cutting back a bit, but adding in some pilates to work on my strength and alignment. 

Anyone else out there do pilates? Has it helped your dancing? I'm looking into some reformer classes (which I have never done before), and any input or advice would be appreciated!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Changes in Preference

I've always detested adagio.  Jumps (particularly grand allegro) were always my thing.  I love leaping, and grand en tournants are one of my favorite steps. I can live without penchée, fondue, and never-ending extensions, thank you very much.

I am definitely the latter (pic via http://balletshoesandbobbypins.tumblr.com/)

As such, it's probably not much of a surprise that I prefer combinations and dances with fast tempos, attitude, and spunk (i.e. Don Quixote). However, over the past few months I've suddenly found a new appreciation and adoration for dances that are softer and more delicate.

The "a-ha!" moment of this change of preference came about because of the Les Sylphides variation I learned at my SI. It's not an adagio, but definitely not spunky; instead it uses a lot of port de bras, control, and has an overall softer feel (typical of the Romantic era, I think). I've been scouring the internet in search of the rest of the ballet (also known as Chopiniana if you also decide to search!)  It is ridiculously pretty, with the dancers moving so gracefully, their romantic tutus swirling and floating around them. There are a few versions up on YouTube, and I'm having a hard time deciding which I like best (its sort of a toss-up between ABT and the Kirov right now).


The other day, I spotted a little article that listed various "types of ballerinas" and had the hardest time deciding which type I was (I forget where I originally saw this--I thought it was on another blog, but I haven't been able to track it back down!)

The article lists three different types:
  • the "lyrical ballerina" who has "a dramatic air of wistful romanticism that casts grace on every step she takes";
  • the "virtuosa ballerina" who is "vibrant, exuberant, and vivacious...danc[ing] every step with the spirit and fire of a Spanish maiden"; 
  • and the "adagio ballerina" who " wows with her extensions and silky smooth port de bras." 
I'm definitely not the "adagio ballerina" (I will never like adagio), and if you had asked me as a teen I would have told you I was more "virtuosa," but these days I'm not so sure.  Maybe virtuosa with a side of lyrical? 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Review: Elevé Dancewear

Last week, Poets & Pirouettes reviewed a custom leotard she ordered from Lone Reed Designs, and sparked my interest in trying an independent designer the next time I want a custom leotard.  We started having a conversation about my experience ordering from Elevé Dancewear, and I realized, "Duh, Jackie! You have a blog now! You should review and talk about those leotards in detail there instead of hijacking the comments section of this post!"  (Sorry m'dear!)  Also, I've determined that P&P and I could be horrible enablers for each other (in the best possible way).

(As an aside, you should go follow her blog, she is an amazing writer and fabulous to boot).

Now, let's get down to business and talk about Elevé

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Banging my head against a wall

I saw the podiatrist again today about my heel/ankle pain.

He still thinks it might be the FHL, but also suggested it could be some kind of neuropathy--e.g. a nerve in my pelvis is actually causing the pain in my foot.  However, when he asked me about my pain (if it felt weird, or numb, or was tingling), I said no, it was more like a pinch, and that didn't seem to jive with that partciular theory.

He pushed around on my ankle and the FHL got nice and cranky (but was deep), so we decided to try an injection and see what would happen.  He told me to try to relevé later and see if it helped the pain at all (since the injection basically numbs it for a few hours afterward).  Alas, I'm still numb (though its wearing off), and still getting a pinch.  That being said, I have been on my feet the last few hours, so I imagine I'm still nice and inflamed down there.

If it does start to feel better, I can ease back into class.  If not, I need to take Advil and see him again (I'll see him in 2 weeks for a checkup anyway).

Let's hope we can figure this out soon!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Pointe Saga: A Happy Ending?

I don't want to jinx anything, but I think I may have found THE PAIR.

While I was in Colorado, I made an appointment to get a proper pointe shoe fitting since my local shop is so lacking.  I had gotten a recommendation for Assemblé Dancewear in Castle Rock, and Noel (one of the owners) had a great reputation for fittings, so I decided to give it a try.  I was super impressed and pleased with my experience!  Noel really knew his stuff, and even taught me some things about pointe shoes I didn't know (and should have, since I've been on pointe for so long! I felt a little ashamed.)

The first thing Noel did was to examine my feet thoroughly, testing my flexibility and strength with his hands.  Next, he looked at my old shoes (the Bloch Heritage) and examined the wear patterns on them (he was pleased it was even. Yay me!)  We discussed what padding I was using (way too much, in both our opinions), and problems (my lovely bruised toe nail because of the sinking). Then he had me put them on so he could see them, and informed me that we could do better (I should hope so!)

I'd brought all the toe pads I owned with me, just in case, and that ended up being a good thing.  He immediately disliked the Pillows for Pointes Lambswool pads because they break down too quickly, and thought the Gellows were too thick (I had been using them with the Heritage because of the slippage).  He favored the Ouch Pouch for me, not only because it was thinner, but because it exactly covered my toes where it needed to.  We also added in a proper spacer between my big and second toes, as I have enough of a gap there to warrant one (I had been using one, but it was too thick and short, so we changed it up).  The only other thing he suggested (based on my feet), was that I tape my pinky toes. Simple, and quick--I like!


After this, we started trying shoes.  I tried each pair on with the spacer, tape, and ouch pouches, and did various things at the barre.  He had me relevé, plié in first position, sous-sus and bourrée (switching feet), and later had me do échappé, all while carefully watching my feet and my overall positioning/technique. After, we would take off the shoes and he would examine my feet again to see if the pressure points were where they should be.  He explained that the support of the shoe comes from the entire box--the sides, top, and platform all need to work together in the right combination to help keep my foot from slipping down and causing things like bruised toenails.

We had three good contenders, which included the Grishko 2007!  I had originally been fit in that shoe at home, but didn't end up wearing it because my teacher didn't like it (note to self: that fitter at least had a good clue). In the end I went with the Russian Pointe Entrada Pro.  It felt the best, and in Noel's opinion, looked the best.

 The RP Entrada Pro in action!

Other things I learned:  I have sweaty feet (ew), so they might break my shoe down more quickly.  I can help prevent this by spraying some Arrid Extra Dry on them.  Also, I need to work on my core strength, but Noel said I had great feet and technique, and "made all [his] shoes look good."  Hee!

I wore the shoes for the intensive, and had no major issues.  My bruised toenail bugged me a little, especially when the box was fresh and new, but Noel had given me a thin silicone sleeve to put over it while it was still healing.  By Saturday, they felt great and I had no pain!  I've also had no blisters, which is delightful.  The shop gave me a "pointe shoe activity log" in which I am to keep track of how many minutes I spend doing activity in the pointe shoes, in order to see how quickly they break down (and what breaks down first).  I was told the goal was to get the shoes to last 20 hours.

I'm bummed the shop is not in my state, but I can order future shoes from them, so that's awesome.  I can also call and talk to Noel if I have any questions/to discuss issues (i.e. if it breaks down too quickly, we can maybe come up with solutions to fix that).  We'll see how it goes from here, but so far so good.  I love finally having a little bit of pointe shoe success!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

My First SI: An Adventure in Achy Muscles

I'm putting this behind a cut because it will be nice and long, and for those that are just cruising through, you won't have to read a mountain of text!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

A Brief Update

So, obviously I haven't had as much free time as I had hoped!  I'll have to do a big comprehensive post when I get back home.

Right now, this is happening:

Nothing major, no one panic.  Just my stupid tendons acting up again (only doing the heel tonight, though the past two nights I did my whole foot and half way up my calf).  

Other things I'll expand upon later: got a lovely new pair of pointe shoes, my entire lower half is beyond sore (especially the calves), I've gotten a chance to try the Esmeralda variation (but currently prefer a variation from Les Sylphides), and I hate super sticky floors.

Stay tuned!  I apologize if this post is wacky, I'm trying the blogger app.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Packing (exciting title, I know)

I leave tomorrow for my vacation/summer intensive adventure, and am being a total slacker with regards to my packing:

 This is an enormous mess.

I never did a summer intensive when I was young.  I took time off from dance during the summer, usually because my family would have some sort of vacation planned. I had no plans to be a professional dancer, so it wasn't a "necessity." Ballet was something I loved, but I was too shy and non-competitive to really want to be a pro.

Subsequently, I will now be attending my first SI at the ripe old age of 32.  Better late than never, right?

First problem: I have no idea what to pack.  Or really, how MUCH to pack.   I'm staying with a friend, so I'll have access to laundry and a kitchen, but...should I pack all my leotards, just in case?  How many pairs of tights? My regular foam roller, or rumble roller? (or both?) Should I bring my dance bag as my carry on, or pack it into my suitcase?

My cat thinks I should leave all these fun things home so he can play with them.


In any event, I hope to update during the week and describe how it goes! There aren't a ton of summer dance things available to adults out there--I only know of Sun King, Boston Ballet, and Sydney Ballet.  I think it will be fun to experience and describe the process.  I'm not even sure if other adults will be attending the one I'm going to (its a smaller one with my old ballet school, so it could go either way!)  Stay tuned!  Hopefully I won't be completely dead by next Saturday (when it ends).

Monday, June 30, 2014

Wardrobe Woes

I've been pondering some changes to my usual class attire.

I'm a creature of habit, so when I started dancing again I just wore what I've always worn to class: leotard, convertible pink tights, shorts (originally knit, now spandex), and pink canvas slippers.

My usual ballet gear just isn't doing it for me anymore

Alas, because I am now an adult woman*, this combination is not as flattering as it might have been when I was 16.  These days, I have what I like to call a "J-Lo" thing happening (bootylicious!), and I'm pear-shaped.

This is a lovely shape to have when one wants to wear cute a-line dresses (which I do).  It is, however, a difficult shape to dress when one has to wear ballet attire.

Why can't I wear THIS to ballet class?
(Traveling Cupcake Truck Dress, from Modcloth)
For example, I have tried several brands of tights in an effort to find a pair that doesn't have a waist band threatening to sever me in half.  No luck in that department, except to wear a body tight. I have a love/hate relationship with the body tight: on one hand, I don't have the lovely "muffin top" problem caused by the waist bands of normal tights.  On the other, they make things like going to the bathroom even more difficult, and they flatten me out (which would typically be a good thing, except it makes me feel like I look even more disproportionate as far as the J-Lo situation is concerned.)

Speaking of my bottom half, the shorts are also proving to be a problem. Contrary to what one might think, they don't actually camouflage that area--instead, I think they actually make it more noticeable!  I'm not quite brave enough to go without something on my bottom half quite yet, so I've considered various options: skirts, capri leggings, black tights, but am still experimenting. I just bought this long georgette wrap skirt, but I haven't had a chance to wear it yet; I'm hoping the longer length with hit me in a better place than the shorts.

The weirdest thing?  I am having a problem giving up the pink tights.

Let's be real: having a light colored fabric on one's bottom half isn't always flattering (especially for a pear shape).  But the lighter colored tights also make it easier for the teacher to see how your legs are working.  I can't really go tights-less, or wear carpi tights because I have sweaty feet, and I know that if I wear my shoes without tights, the stink factor would be horrendous (not to mention the blisters in pointe shoes).  I suppose I could keep the pink tights and wear black capri leggings or tights over them,  but I feel like that would be super hot?  I just don't know.  It's become popular to wear tights over your leotard, but there's no way I could do that with pink ones.  Black ones? Maybe.

I don't hate this look.
Leotards are the least of my worries.  I'm lucky that my ballet studio doesn't have a strict dress code for adults, but I do dance with the teenagers and we technically have a class leotard (it's black, and actually quite lovely), so I try to wear black leotards pretty often so I blend in. That being said, the key to dressing a pear-shape is to draw the eye up, so I'm trying to put together a collection of leotards that have patterns or details up top, or pinched fronts (i.e. I have this leo in several different colors).  I have no self control when it comes to purchasing leotards, though I do get frustrated with ones that don't have generous enough leg openings.

Fellow adult and/or curvy dancers: what do you wear to class? Any tips?

*By age standards, anyway.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Hanging Out to Dry

I have this fancy metal screen in my bedroom:

It matches the metal bed frame I inherited from my parents when I moved out of their house, and is nice and old timey (I'm a bit of a history nerd).  I like the "pretty, but rustic" look.

It sits off to one side of my bedroom, "hiding" the door to the bathroom (which is blocked by cat litter boxes on the other side, so I don't use that door).  It has no purpose other than to be pretty and decorative.

I have found a second use for it:

Who knew, right?

Monday, June 23, 2014

It Rains, It Pours

My body has decided to go on strike.  I've been having some pain/aches around my ankle and heel, but its another thing that comes and goes depending on its mood (I assume).  It's only my right foot, which I had sprained (twice) over 10 years ago, so I originally thought maybe it was just not as strong and needed time to get used to all my dancing and pointe again.

It has continued, so I started thinking maybe my never-ending point shoe saga was to blame--and I'm sure isn't helping things.

So, since we're on a break from classes (during which I fully intend on just RESTING for once), I made an appointment with a foot/ankle specialist to get it checked out, just to be safe, especially since after break I'm going to that SI.

Good news: not my Achilles.  Also not an os trigonum issue (whew).  Bad news: I have some inflammation/tendonitis in my flexor hallucis longus tendon*. (yea, trying saying that fast...or at all).

Its the tendon that runs from your calf area, up under your foot to your big toe.

(This picture was shamelessly stolen from Wikipedia.)

I'm on a course of steroids for about a week to help the inflammation, and in the future I'll have to be sure to ice myself after dancing.  I told the doctor about my pointe shoe woes (e.g. how all the pressure was on my big toe), and he said that was very likely contributing.  Moral of the story: get a proper pointe shoe fitting, kids!

*My favorite part of that online article I linked for the FHL tendon is the bit that says, "This is particularly common in ballet dancers who spend significant time rising onto their toes."  Um, yes. That'd be me.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Operation: Recital, a Success!

We had our show last night, and things went pretty well for me.  We had some hiccups with staging/timing on a couple of numbers due to not having had a full dress rehearsal, but overall it went well!  There's always a little something that doesn't pan out quite like you want, but they're always minor things that I'm sure the audience doesn't even notice, so I try not to dwell.

Two of my coworkers came to the show, much to my surprise!  Neither of them had said anything about coming, so when I spotted one of them in the audience I couldn't help but give her a big grin (luckily, it was appropriate to the character I was portraying).

I had spent most of the day being anxious and nervous, but by the time we started dancing I was as calm as can be.  I was glad, because during our Christmas show I'd been super nervous (for reasons I can't explain).  In the past (when I was younger and doing Nutcracker every year), I'd get nervous right before going on, but as soon as I was on stage I'd be fine.  I did not have this experience during our Christmas show, so I wasn't sure how I'd be for this performance, but my nerves appear to have reverted to normal (thank goodness!)

We have a two week break before the summer session (July) starts, though technically I'm taking three weeks "off" because I'm traveling.  However, that third week I'm actually going to be doing a Summer Intensive at my old ballet studio, so I will be dancing!  I've never done an SI before, and there aren't too many available for adults, so I'm excited to get the experience.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Please Not Again

I have a dumb knee.

I don't like to say its a "bad" knee, because it still totally functions (quite well, actually), but it has some issues due to past injuries/surgeries (meniscus tear).  Every once in awhile it will ache (typically when the weather changes, which my friends find hilarious), but then it will feel normal again.  Sometimes a particularly rigorous class will make it ache too, but its nothing a little post-class icing/elevation/resting can't cure.

At least that was true until a couple of weeks ago.  The weather had been weird again, so when it started to ache, I didn't really think anything of it.  Then last week I somehow managed to overstretch my hamstring on that side, and it REALLY ached.

I'm naturally hyperextended, so I figured the combination of overstretching (and also forcing my knee back while doing so), plus the weather stuff had just made it irritated in general.  I wasn't really doing more classes/rehearsals than I had been at Christmas, so it was just a bad combo.  However, just to be safe, I called up the surgeon's office to see if I could get it checked out.  I fully expected that he'd tell me it was a Baker's Cyst, or just a little strained.

The Bad News: I might have another meniscus tear (sad trombone noise).  The only way to know for sure would be to get an MRI, though.  The Good News?  It might NOT be a tear.  Except for some slight swelling/fluid in the back (behind my knee) and the pain when he pressed a certain area of my joint, I don't have other typical signs of a tear--I would be much more swollen, and it would prevent me from dancing.  I have no instability and had no pain when he twisted it in various directions, so that's good.  I'm hoping its just a mild strain and that our 2-week post-recital break will help it heal some.

My knee after surgery in 2010--do not want again.

However, if it still is bothering me, gets more swollen, and/or prevents me from dancing, I might have more surgery (and recovery) in my future, which is something I don't want to re-live.  No dancing for 3 months? NO THANK YOU.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Well, That's a Bummer

Our pointe teacher is leaving; today is her last day. I am super bummed because she is amazing and fabulous. Even though I was often the lone adult dancing with the teens, she always made sure to treat me the same--give me corrections, compliments, encouragement. She was amazing and I'm sad she's leaving us. She was both really technical (which I like), and lots of fun (the class has several inside jokes now).

That's been one of the things I've noticed about my school, and I'm not sure how common it is elsewhere, but it really does seem like teachers come and go fairly often. I wonder if its common in the dance world? I guess its a symptom of dance teachers also having other jobs/lives, so I can't imagine its completely uncommon. Just a total bummer when one of your favorites has to leave.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Ye Olde First Post

I've decided to chronicle my dancing shenanigans in blog form!  Let's see how well I can keep up with it.

I've made an About Me page, but just for the sake of saving your clicking finger, here's a short rundown of who I am:  I am a dancer in her early 30 who has recently started dancing again after a long break.  I take both ballet (which I originally started as a youngin') and jazz (a recent development). 

I was inspired to start blogging about my dance adventures because I'm a big fan of both The Remedial Ballerina and Adult Beginner.  Reading dance blogs was one of the things that really helped motivate me to return to dancing.  I figured the more of us out here in the blogosphere, the more encouragement someone else might get to try or restart ballet. (Go do it!)