Archive | October 2012

LB Gets An Email!

Today while waiting in traffic (I was there for 2  1/2 hours and moved maybe 2 miles), I got an email from a new adult beginner!  I was so excited to get an email from a reader.   It is still hard to believe people read my ramblings sometimes.

I asked her if it would be OK to share her email with my readers, and she agreed.  I also enclose my response.   It’s so important that we continue encouraging others in their pursuit of dance!  Enjoy.

Helen Mao writes:

Hi, I enjoy reading your blog, especially since I am an adult (44 years old) who recently became avid about ballet. Background: I was a figure skater as a teenager, then an ice dancer in my late teens, early 20’s. I took ballet lessons off and on (more off) as a child and young adult, but never for a sustained period of time (i.e. never more than 1 year at a time). Four years ago I ventured back into ballet and am hooked. I think my skating and ballet (chopped up as it was) experience has helped me in terms of balance and posture, but I always want to improve.

I have always wanted to go on pointe since I was a teenager but, as I mentioned, I never took ballet for a sustained period of time in the same place to work toward/progress to that point (hahaha, pun intended). I now take adult classes when I can (2-3 times a week, 1.5 hours of technique each time) at Maryland Youth Ballet.
Since I work from home for The New Teacher Project in teacher recruiting, I can manage to make daytime classes. Evenings are tough with kids (ages 10 and 12) and a husband who works a lot and commutes (he is an attorney like you are). I was a high school (US) and college (China) teacher and education writer before I had kids.
You mentioned on your blog that you started ballet in November 2011. Congratulations for getting on pointe so soon! In fact, I wanted to ask you: how did you progress to pointe so soon? I would love to hear any advice/tips. I have to admit that I am too bashful to tell my ballet teachers that I eventually want to do this since I do not want anyone to laugh at me :).
LB’s response:
Well hello Helen!  Thank you for your inquiry. I love talking to other adult beginners about ballet. It is so cool that we share this common (but rare) interest.
Pointe is completely legitimate and plausible goal for an adult beginner to achieve. Just because you are not 12 (or 15 or 25) doesn’t mean that points is impossible. I found it is just not talked about.  Ask around to your friends and relatives; in all likelihood they will think your pursuit is a little strange (at first). That is, until they get used to the idea and then realize that your goal is no different from learning how to play golf at 60. Ballet is just not a common sport for adults to learn.
Age has nothing to do with learning pointe; it is a person’s physical fitness, desire and opportunity that gets them to the goal.  Let me break it down for you:
(1) The more healthy you are, the quicker you are going to get en pointe. Strength and flexibility are important,  but weight does play a role. Don’t get me wrong, I am not talking about skinny; I mean health.  Not all the ladies (well, girls) in my class are super slim. You can have curves and do pointe. Just helps to keep the curves healthy and not sloppy (understand?)  I was put en pointe so soon because I was already strong.  I already worked out 5 days a week prior to starting ballet, so it helped me get up in those shoes and stay there.  And when I say “flexibility” I mean foot flexibility.  You will have to work on this when you start out en pointe. It’s more painful than you think and takes time, but once you have it – easy peasy.  Being all around flexible will help you with technique, so work on it every day. You will not regret it.  Check out the 30 day challenge on the Adult Ballerina Project.
(2) I am sure that you already realize that pointe is harder than it looks. It can hurt really bad too. Trust me.  An individual who gives up easily or has a low pain threshold will not last 2 weeks. Progress en pointe is slow, so it can be quite frustrating. Some people find it easier to just give up and move onto something else rather  than to push through the hard times. However,  if you really want to learn pointe, stick it out.  The more sincere desire you have to learn pointe, the more likely you will see it through.  Once you build the muscles in your feet and legs and get the balance and coordination necessary, you will enjoy pointe like i do. It is fun, challenging and exciting.  Totally worth the work.
(3) Here’s the tough part- finding someone to teach you.  If you haven’t already, read my post entitled “Bye Bye T”.  It explains everything.  As stupid as it sounds, there some ballet instructors out there that will not put an adult en pointe.  Even teaching adults ballet seems aggravating to them.  The key is finding the right studio and/or instructor who actually enjoys teaching adults ballet and will entertain the idea of putting them en pointe. The only way you are going to find out is to ASK. Don’t worry about what they might say!  If you get rejected, who cares! There are plenty of studios out there; one is bound to help you.  You simply expressing your desire to learn shows that you truly want it; someone is bound to respond positively. 
You sound like you encompass all of these qualities.  It’s just a matter of following through.  Don’t be scared; just go for it.  You have nothing to lose except for a missed opportunity.  You know as well as I do, life is simply too short for that hogwash.
I really appreciate your support!  It keeps me going!  🙂
Well, there you have it.  Ms. Mao reads my blog, so any of you fellow adult beginners out there have any advise to give please feel free to do so!  I am sure Ms. Mao would greatly appreciate your support and well wishes!

Sandy is a B***h.


This is my view right now. I am sitting in traffic trying to get to Court. While the majority of Cleveland is out of power, my hearing is still scheduled to move forward. Come torrential rain and 50 mph winds – justice (and the government) never sleeps!  What a bunch of crap.  This is dangerous. 

Oh well. At least I powered my phone.  We are so gridlocked right now that I can safely check my emails and play solitaire. 

Class was good last night.  We covered a lot of ground. Stretching, turns, jumps, pirouettes. You name it. The General introduced a new warm up exercise to new music.  Of course now the name of the technique used (named after a specific instructor) and music completely alludes me right now. Ms. Disney probably remembers. She remembers all of these kinds of ballet details.

Another high note about last evening is that I am starting to relax more in class.  Letting go of my insecurities is helping me perform better for sure. I try to have fun while I learn instead of beat myself up.

Although,  the General did ask if we were “off” last night. I was actually enjoying the class.  I told her that I was struggling “no more than usual”, so if some of the better students were off, I suppose that means I wasn’t.  Ha. Funny.

I hope you all of you east coasters stay safe and dry. Supposedly the end of the storm is near. As for me, I just want to make it off this freeway sometime this century and get a skim milk cappuccino with two pumps mocha and a bagel with low fat cream cheese…. Can you tell I am hungry? 

Sunday Training

Another Sunday, so that means, another long day of practice.

An hour of ballet, 45 minutes of pointe, 1/3 of cardio and 45 minutes of stretching…..I am POOPED.

While I practiced, my little Bear broke one of my Halloween decorations that I had before Sissy was born.  [FYI – that means you are off the hook Ms. Disney].  Boy, that was FUN!  Bear can be such a turd.  True, he is only 3, but man he can push my buttons.  Instead of apologizing like I asked him too, he tried to deflect his bad behavior by crying on the floor and then throwing yet more stuff around the room.  Motherhood can be so much fun!

I worked on my turning attitudes from 5th position, since that is in our Level II class performance.  Those are tough.  I tried to find a video or something to help me with the arms and the working leg positioning, but I couldn’t find a thing on YouTube. I guess I am not the only lady having trouble with these.   I am improving on my pirouettes from 5th and fouettes.  I still need more practice, practice, practice.

I did have fun practicing pointe today.  Since I am feeling really secure in my shoes (no more pain in my big toe, yeah!) and my balance is steadily improving, I actually tried some new things tonight on a whim.  Check out the image you see below:

No, that is not me (clearly), but I did this exact same move.  I don’t know what it is called, but if you know, please feel free to indulge me.  I couldn’t believe I actually did it myself.  I even think my leg was a little higher too.  I wasn’t bucking my working leg or slamming back down to the floor either.  I have enough strength now to somewhat control the movement.  Needs improvement, but it’s a start.

I admit, it was a bold move.  I am glad that I trusted myself to try it.  I am also glad that I didn’t fall over and break and ankle.  I can’t wait to show the General…Well, maybe.  That may be too much pressure and I will probably flub it up.

Well, I am going to watch my movie now.  Sooo tired…zzzzzz.

Gangnam Style

I apologize for my handi-quackness, but this song, video and performers are totally awesome.  How can you not enjoy a little Gangnam Style?!  If this cannot get you in the mood to bust-a-total-80’s-move, than nothing will.

I wish I knew what this gentleman was saying…..Anyone care to indulge?!

New Ballet Shoe


Remember how I wore a huge hole in my ballet shoe?  Well, I am still looking for a proper replacement.  I recently purchased a pair from Discount Dance Supply and they sucked.  Grishko “Ultimate”.  They were Ultimately crappy for me.  They were baggy and a size too short.  I would have purchased the same pair I had before, but they are backordered.  Booo on that business.  I have no time to wait for a backordered item.  So this time, I ordered another pair from Bloch called “Proflex”.  I am hoping that these will work out better than the last pair.  Luckily, I know what size I wear so it should not be a problem.  Fingers crossed.  The longer I wear my current pair, the larger the hole gets. I am looking pretty gangster right now.

Update on stretching.  I did not stretch this evening.  I did, however, bust out a beautiful arabesque or two for the kids.  I love doing those…well, as long as it doesn’t involve a turn.

Hope you all had a great evening!


Stretching on Friday Night

You know you are committed to gaining flexibility when you are stretching on a Friday night at 11 pm.  In fact, my little sis and I were doing it together.  We exchanged tips and displayed our progress for about an hour tonight.

What is equally interesting is how we both try to one-up each other in our pursuit to impress the General.  It is clear that we both seek her approval.  In fact, everyone in her studio is always trying to get her attention.  The General is such an amazing dancer; we know how important and rare it is when she actually gives her approval.  As rare it is, the allure draws us in like flies to sh**.   Ms. Disney is the same way.  We want a “good” or a “great”, but we would settle for a glance or a nod.  We can’t help it.  We respect her because she actually knows what it is like to be a professional dancer.  Someone who has been given money to dance on stage (minus the glitter, dirty dollar bills and shame).  She knows what it takes to get there, and if we want it, we can tap into her database of dance knowledge.  The General will bestow her talent and energy into us.  I feel privileged and I believe that the other students do too.

As for the 30 day stretch challenge, I am a little closer to reaching a full split.  In fact, at this point I am actually bouncing off the floor.  I would give you a pic, but I drank too much wine and I didn’t think to ask for someone to take it.  Oh well.  I suppose you will have to take my word for it. 🙂

Tootsie Toes


Look what I can do.

My husband says, “that’s grizzly looking.”. He is right. My feet are not pretty in a traditional sense. My feet now have purpose.  I can see the little muscles and tendons straining for an arch.  I can flex them in ways that can boggle the mind.  My feet are one of my  proudest accomplishments in learning pointe.   They are now proof that I am a dancer.  (Woah).

I felt strong in class tonight. The General saw some of my passes in releve and said, “good!”. Score. Pointe was great too. I outlasted the girls in our sautes in second exercise.  I am an animal. What can I say? We did soutenus as well. It has been awhile, but I was strong going to my left. My left is always stronger.  I made it across the entire floor without stopping. I think the General saw me.  It doesn’t matter cause it felt good just to do it.

I feel good.  I am sensing the climb. I am improving and it will continue.