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

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).