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 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...