April 8, 2014

Ten Questions, Ten Answers

Dear Readers and fellow dancers, it's time for another questionnaire... I hope you have time to answer as many questions as you like! To start, here are mine:

1. What is your favorite time for ballet class? 

How about always? Ok, seriously. I love my morning classes, because nothing gets in the way between waking up and taking to the barre. Except for a good breakfast, you can't dance without one. Although, sometimes I wish I could sleep a little longer. And have a nap after class. Still, it's an awesome way to start the day! Oh, and time-wise I also love my Sunday classes. Because I can nap afterwards.

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

On a regular basis, six classes. 90 min morning class on Tuesdays (adv.level), 90 min (adv.) + 45 min pointe on Wednesdays, 90 min morning class (adv) on Thursdays + 60 min rehearsal in the evening, 90 min (int-adv) on Sundays. Saturdays is optional, and occasionally, I might take a class on Fridays.

3. What do you eat before class?

In the mornings, it's usually a banana, müsli with yoghurt or oatmeal, and lots of coffee. When I have class in the evenings, I need a substantial snack between lunch and class. Bananas, again, and I also like to take one of those organic nut-fruit bars along. I don't always get it right, and when hunger strikes mid-class, it's best to have something easily digestible that you can take a quick bite off (before center).

4. What's inside your ballet bag?

It depends on my schedule, but this is what I packed today: Pointe shoes, toe tape (+ small scissors), flatties, new pair of flatties (Bloch Pro Flex canvas), black leggings, purple leggins (I like to have a spare), new blue 3/4 sleeve leo, black leo (again, I like to have choices), skirt, short black shorts (old ones, from H&M), favorite loose long-sleeve flowy t-shirt (you can wrap it into a skirt), hair pins, elastic, hairspray, brush, water bottle, energy bars, ibuprofen. Plus all the other stuff a girl needs on a daily basis.

5. How do you prepare for class?

In the mornings, there's very little time. We don't get into the studio until 15 minutes before. I put my hair up at home, and wear most of my dance clothes under my regular wear, to save time. Once I'm at the barre, I focus on my feet, hip flexors and back of thighs. I try to loosen up and lengthen myself. I don't need to warm up, barre work does it for me. But it depends who's teaching. With some teachers, I need more preparation time (and different exercises) to get ready. Otherwise, I prepare for class by stretching in the evenings. I've noticed that it makes a big difference.

6. What's your favorite part of class?

All of it. Okay, it depends somewhat on the teacher (I was thinking about my favorite classes). If it's a very basic, but hard and tiring barre - then I'll enjoy center even more. I like adagio, moving across the floor, pirouettes (despite bad turn days), and I love allegro. So, really all of it.

7. What's your biggest challenge in class?

Not comparing myself to other (better) dancers. Do I really need to explain why? Also, overcoming my shyness to "present myself." Not losing confidence. Keeping my focus when I feel discouraged. And, of course, all the technical stuff. Maintaining turn out at all times, pointing toes to the max, keeping that popo down, and my back long, heels forwarded, not jumping into my turns, spotting those pirouettes, and the list goes on... Ballet would not be ballet without the challenge!

8. What is your level?

Someone once commented that I'm not a very advanced dancer, considering all the years I have taken class.. This may be true, but how do you measure advancement? And why should you even care? Ballet is not a sport, we don't keep track of our turns, beats and balances. Having said that, my level is not carved in stone. Depending on the day and exercise, I fluctuate between advanced beginner, beginning intermediate and intermediate-advanced. There's always something to work on - that's what makes it so interesting.

9. Describe a "moment" you had in class.

It can be anything, like an unexpected but awesome balance. When I finally nail a turn, perfectly on axis. Or when I don't have to think about the steps and it's only about feeling the music. When I've been struggling with a difficult step, and suddenly get it! Or when I feel there's just been real progress, and my teacher confirms it. There have been many sweet moments over the years...

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

When I'm in class, there's no other place I'd rather be. I feel at home.

I get to make new discoveries, meet challenges, overcome fears and weaknesses. Ballet makes me feel strong, like I can handle anything.

I love having friends in class, they are part of my extended family. You get to meet so many amazing people through dance, and it's wonderful to share the same passion.

My teachers. Inspiring, motivating, demanding, patient and kind. Always pushing me, but also taking care of me. Love them. Past and present.

And then there's the beauty of it all... The artistry, the music, the quality of movement, the line, the elegance, colours, nuances... Reaching for these qualities is what motivates me. I want to find my own voice as a dancer.

The obligatory after-class selfie.




27 comments:

  1. 1. What is your favorite time for ballet class?
    I would ideally like 11am but there are no classes at that time near me so I take what I can get which is evening mostly. I don't like to dance on Saturday as I want to lounge in bed with my man :)

    2. How many classes do you take on a weekly basis? Usually 4 plus a pointe class. I need to have time for my art which is my "real" job.... otherwise I would take 6 days a week. Right now I take beginner on Sunday, Intermediate on Monday, Beginner on Tuesday and intermediate and pointe on Wednesday... then I throw in another class one morning during the later part of the week. I also go to the gym to try and firm and strengthen.

    3. What do you eat before class? Before a morning class I have my fruit, veggie, vegan protein shake. before an evening class maybe a piece of a fruit and nut bar but not if I am not hungry.

    4. What's inside your ballet bag? Not much as I usually go to class from home. Just regular and pointe shoes, shorts and legwarmers.

    5. How do you prepare for class? Put hair in a bun, decide what to wear depends on how thin I feel what I put on ;) Before class I stretch a little and do the plank.

    6. What's your favorite part of class? Barre... and with most teaches that is my favourite. I like grand allegro too :)

    7. What's your biggest challenge in class? Turns! UGH! So crap at them especially pique turns and pirouettes to the left :(
    Also feeling inflexible.

    8. What is your level? Depends on the day and the teacher, what we are doing and who else in in class ;) I guess I am a solid beginner but almost intermediate ... My turns are beginner as I am not able to do perfect doubles yet, my petit allegro is beginner too but maybe my barre is intermediate as is my grand allegro.. if that all makes sense.

    9. Describe a "moment" you had in class. Have them all the time... the other day I had one with rond de jambs where I really started to feel and use the floor. I have had them with balance too... my balancing is getting very solid.

    10. What is it that you love about taking ballet class? The music, the beauty and grace, the structure, the control and the exercise as well as the artistry.



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    Replies
    1. Hi Rosanna! Thanks for taking the time to reply... :)

      About #5 - I so know how you feel! Some dance wear is only for "skinny" days.. ;)

      #7 I'm not very good at pirouettes, but for some reason I feel very secure doing piqué turns. Maybe it helps if you think that your turning leg is like a stick (you know, like the pole jumpers use). You plant it in ahead of you and push your body over it. And turn around, just the once. I think it's easier because the leg is already straight.

      #8 Makes perfect sense!!

      #9 Yes... It's not just the Major Moment, everything counts. And it's all those details that make a whole dancer.

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  2. 7. What's your biggest challenge? At the moment, it's to skip my beloved jumps! I've got a slight knee injury, so I know it's better not to do them, which is kind of difficult, as it only hurts afterwards. Watching the others without joining in and deciding "with my head" - well, that's real ballet discipline. :-)

    @Rosanna - yes, piqué turns! My ballet teacher said that these were the easiest turns. He must be kidding. ;-)

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    Replies
    1. AnneS, I wish you a speedy recovery! I know how much it sucks when you're incapacitated in class...

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  3. 2. I take 11 classes a week (including pointe and pilates)

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    1. That's quite a lot! Are you training in hope of becoming a professional dancer, or is it for pleasure only? Although, I do remember when I had about the same amount of class time. Good days... :)

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  4. Do you mind if I take your questions and write a blog post about them on my blog? I will link it back to you and also share it here if you like..

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    Replies
    1. Hi Azu! Looks like you're not the only one... :) Yes, that is fine if you give credit and link back - just like Paulina (below) did. I would of course also love to read your answers here.

      Delete
  5. Love your questionnaire (and your answers). I answered the questions on my own blog:

    http://tripmadam.wordpress.com/2014/04/09/johannas-questionnaire/

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    Replies
    1. Hi Paulina!

      I read your answers :) Thanks for linking back to me!

      Delete
  6. I've been reading you blog for some few weeks and I really love it! I love how you're not afraid of talking about your flaws and how you are happy about little things and all these good advice! I will keep on reading your posts and definitely will I also answer these questions :)

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Vera! We all have flaws, might as well be honest about it. And yes, I live and dance for those little things... ;)

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  7. Hi! I really like your blog and have been reading it for a while. I'd like to ask what kind of snacks do you keep at hand to have between the barre and center? I sometimes feel that I could use some extra energy to get my energy levels up after a long 45 minute barre but I always thought it would be close to unforgivable to even think of eating inside a classroom. So if you have come up with something full of energy you can just pop into your mouth without anyone noticing, I would really love to hear about it!

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    1. Hi!

      Thanks for your comment :)

      I try to plan and eat ahead, so that I don't suffer from energy slumps during class. For me, that means small meals and healthy snacks throughout the day. Often I have a banana or a nutty energy bar right before class. But on some days it's not enough, especially if I have two classes back to back.

      "Take a minute." That's what my teacher usually tells us between barre and center. It's just about enough to put on your skirt, have a sip of water, or dash to the bathroom (if neccessary). And yes, I have managed to have a bite of a snack. Fruit juices and smoothies are pretty good, as are organic nut/berry/protein snack bars. Simple nuts work too.

      But like I said, I try to eat ahead of class :)


      Delete
  8. 1. Favorite time of day? Any time! Evenings I am looser in my muscles, mornings are a good way to start the day. There is never a bad time to dance.

    2. How many classes do I take? At least 4 a week. I've had a few weeks where I danced every single day and it was glorious.

    3. What do I eat before class? Breakfast, for morning classes. If I take an evening class I grab a yogurt beforehand and eat later.

    4. What's in my bag? Standard stuff for class. Most unusual item would be Pepto Bismol. I am prone to vertigo and if we do too many turns, I need it!

    5. How do I prep for class? Put up my hair, get dressed, try to get to the studio at least 5 minutes before class to warm up and loosen up a bit. I have rheumatoid arthritis, so I am a bit creakier than most.

    6. Favorite part of class? Any time the exercises click and work well! I enjoy barre and I have always liked petite allegro. And truly, just being there is my favorite part!

    7. Biggest challenge? Not being so hard on myself. I'm very demanding of perfection and doing it right.

    8. Level? Danced all my life. Did Cecchetti syllabus and went through all the exams. Never danced professionally because God gave me really pretty feet, but the wrong hips. Amazed that at 50 I can still do a lot of demanding things, but realizing I just can't spring up like I used to.

    9. Describe a moment. Was demonstrating pirouettes for the teacher and I'm not a consistent turner, but kept doing clean triples, even though all he wanted was doubles. It felt glorious! Pretty much whenever I am getting positive praise from the teacher, I am thrilled!

    10. What do I love? I told my favorite teacher that taking his class "made my soul happy." I come home with a huge smile, even the days things aren't clicking. Because of my RA, I am blessed for every day I can move and dance and grateful for the gift God has given me.

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  9. "Someone once commented that I'm not a very advanced dancer, considering all the years I have taken class"

    That really depends on how they define advanced. I find that though some of my fellow dancers in my adult class are older and less flexible, have trouble pointing fully or memorizing steps etc, their passion and drive to learn is evident in their expressions, the direction of their gaze, epaulement etc... and they're not afraid to express themselves freely or make mistakes. I have much to learn, even though I'm pretty flexible and strong, I feel so stiff and dead in expression in comparison.

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  10. 1. What is your favourite time for ballet class?
    After work. If I take a class during the day I have to make up the time by working later in the evening.

    2. How many classes do you take on a weekly basis?
    Just now I am taking 6 hours but it is usually just 2. The reason I am taking extra classes for the next few weeks is that Northern Ballet allows our class (which consists entirely of members aged 55 or over) to participate in the end of year show for the Academy. If I make the show it will my biggest personal achievement to date - far greater than being a barrister (advocate in the higher courts). The show will take place in the theatre where some of the finest dancers of the country perform. The odds are against me but it is something to work for.

    3. What do you eat before class?
    It depends. I work very long hours and often have to drive long distances so I grab whatever I can find.


    4. What's inside your ballet bag?
    Just shoes.

    5. How do you prepare for class?
    Like you I change and prepare my hair at home. Between classes I am attempting an exercise to strengthen my feet so that I can balance on demi-point in retire. I find that difficult possibly because I am much older than most students and it has held back my pirouettes.

    6. What's your favourite part of class?
    When we learn something new.

    7. What's your biggest challenge in class?
    Everything. I am trying to learn temps leves and turns right now.

    8. What is your level?
    Pretty low. I am no longer an absolute beginner but I have not got as far as I should after a year of class.

    9. Describe a "moment" you had in class.
    Read my review of my first class at Northern Ballet

    http://jelterps.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/realizing-dream.html

    I think the best bit was when the pianist played from Adam's Giselle. I wrote:

    "Me. Dancing to real ballet music in a real studio in a real ballet school. Imagine!"

    Sums it all up really.

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

    It is when the decades fall away

    The ladies in this video of the 2012 class sum it up

    http://jelterps.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/adult-ballet-classes.html





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  11. I'm a fellow dancer and would love to be featured on your blog!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Emma!

      Thank you - I consider that a nice compliment... :) But I've never thought about featuring fellow dancers on my blog. It's something to think about, for sure.

      You might want to check out Adult Ballerina Project.. It's a blog that features adult dancers like us. :)

      And you are welcome to share your thoughts and experiences on PTYD's facebook page. Lots of other dancers do! :)

      Wishing you a beautiful summer & lots of happy dancing!
      - Johanna

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  12. Wow! Thats amazing! Its so good to know how your day evolves around your dance!
    I recently took to Ballroom Dancing in a Dancing Studio in Lilydale.Must say they are great dance tutors. I am having a good time enjoying my dance learning.

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  13. Dear Johanna
    I've discovered your blog as I started beginner ballet classes not long ago.
    I just wanted to share with you a little film about unexpected people who find inspiration in ballet.
    Please feel free to re-post if you enjoy it.

    https://vimeo.com/91868207

    Kind Regards,

    Gabi Menezes
    oneluciole@gmail.com

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    Replies
    1. Dear Gabrielle,

      thank you for sharing this beautiful video! I thought it very inspiring and motivating. The dancers were saying out loud what I feel in every class... I shared the video on my facebook page, hopefully many find the time to view it!

      - Johanna

      Delete
  14. I honestly hate the talk about "levels" (and can't believe someone would make that rude comment to you!!) I feel like it differs so much from studio to studio and at times even based on who is in the class. I've been to "beginner"classes that have kicked my butt and "intermediate" classes that were super easy.

    I think my favorite time for class is Tuesdays from 8-9:30 pm. It's a great way to decompress after a long day of work and is a fun thing to look forward to during the week before I get into weekend mode!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Amanda!

      You're absolutely right. Even in my dance school, levels are different from one teacher to another. Expectations are also different. I rather do a clean double turn than get praise for a bad triple. Anyway, what you get out of class, is largely up to you. I can challenge myself in a basic level, just as I can enjoy a tricky advanced-level center.

      Evening classes are nice... They really can turn a bad day into a good one :)

      Delete
  15. Thanks for letting us know so much about yourself & your love with Ballet!
    I recently started going to a Dancing Class in Prahran and I hope someday I will be as passionate about my dance as you are!

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  16. I'm jealous! In my studio there are only 2 truly classical ballet classes, no other studios in the area that offer classical ballet on other days, and everything is closed during summer!
    In other countries there seems to be much more classes for adult ballet students, why is that? I also don't know any adult ballet dancers that would want to dance more than 2 hours a week. I would LOVE to go to take 6 ballet classes a week, there just aren't any (and I could never afford it).
    I am now considering traveling 3 hours to get 135 minutes more ballet training each week, but traveling is also expensive :(

    ReplyDelete

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