March 10, 2011

No More Spectator Ballet!

I used to take class six days a week, often 2 - 3 times per day. I could not have asked for more or wished for less. That, sadly, was a lifetime ago - or so it sometimes seems to me. Back then I was a young chick (as in current age -15 years) and had all the time I wanted and all the I energy needed. Now I have to plan each day ahead, go to bed on time, eat properly, stretch diligently and be altogether a sensible adult, just to enjoy my 90 minutes of ballet three times a week. If I get lucky. 

Lately there have been too many flu-, work- and dental emergency -related obstacles, all of which have been keeping me from my regular dose of ballet class. Instead I have been relegated to youtubing and blogging ballet, which is fun and all - but without the actual dancing it´s only spectator sports. Oh, and  a dancer friend of mine borrowed me the DVD of the Paris Opera Ballet documentary "La Danse". It is a very long film, and although it is all dance, and no special effects, you would need really good sitz-bones to last through a movie-theatre viewing! But I will post more about La Danse later. 

Now, back to classes and to not getting enough: I do know many adults who are happy to dance only twice a week, but that person is so not me! I know I need to practice a minimum of three times, just to maintain my level and strength. If I can, I like to train at least four times a week - otherwise it is pretty hard to advance and grow stronger! Last spring I took an average of 4-5 weekly ballet classes, in addition to our recital rehearsals. I loved how my body responded to the extra work! That is until my iliotibial band got inflamed from overtraining.. So there is that too. 

At this moment there is really only one class that I absolutely cannot and will not miss, and that is Friday´s advanced ballet (90 min) plus pointe (60 min) with Madame. If she would teach any more classes (to us adults), I would want to go to each and everyone. But she does not, and so my other classes are mainly chosen to fit my schedule, as there is not that much difference between teachers. Meaning they are all pros and know their stuff for sure, but not everyone can be a master teacher.. Mondays it´s intermediate ballet and Wednesdays advanced beginner class, both old-school Vaganova (a bit too old-school for my liking and previous training). Sundays I take the occasional intermediate at another studio, which is fun but not really that productive.

Looking at my meagre schedule now, I see that I somehow have to work in more classes. Our spring recital is approaching fast and I do not want go on stage ill-prepared! I need at least one more class which is challenging, energetic, fun, and where all the students get lots of personal corrections. Unfortunately (for me that is) my other favorite teacher is still on her maternity leave. Even if she hopefully returns this summer or fall, it does not help me right now. So, in addition to the 3-4 ballet classes, I plan to do some pilates and yoga, and once the snow and icebergs melt away, lots of power-walking outdoors. Not too much to risk injuries from overworking muscles, but enough to survive the few minutes I get to be on stage!

Yikes, it´s 10 pm already and I still have to sew one last elastic on my new ballet slippers! Also I have not stretched yet, and need to be in bed in less than one hour. I wish I could function with a mere six hours of shut-eye.. But tomorrow is ballet class again and the end of my spectator dancing. Yay for that!


  1. I hope you can find the time to take in another class! I'm an absolutely beginner about to complete my first term of ballet, and I can already say I wish I could afford to do it a whole lot more than I do. I'm going to re-enroll in beginner ballet and dedicate more time at home to stretching and balance work, in hopes that after that, I can find the money to take two classes a week. If only it could be more!

  2. I wish I could take more classes, myself, but the options for adults around here is very limited unless I want to drive 50 miles to the big city near us (I used to live near the big city and that was during my ballet hiatus... I could kick myself now for not taking advantage of those great class opportunities!). I usually only get in 2-3/week myself (not counting the class I teach).

    Also just had to comment on your new slippers. I have the Bloch Pumps myself and they are my absolute favorite out of all the slippers I've worn over the years. Just so comfortable and make my feet look so nice! I was so bummed... I needed to get black slippers for the performance coming up this weekend and couldn't get the Pump in black. Ended up with the Bloch Proflex... they're okay, but don't like them nearly as much as the Pump!

  3. Kim B, I hope it works out for you! Certainly re-enrolling will help with your technique. Especially since you are no longer an absolute beginner and have a much better idea of what you are supposed to be doing. :) But as soon as you can, take another class one level up. If you can only attend two classes, one should be right at your present level (and "comfortable") - and the other suitably challenging (without being overwhelming).

    Homework always pays off! Do you have access to any pilates dvd:s for dancers? Could you take up yoga classes? All of these will help with your body awareness, strength, flexibility and balance. I´m on a tight budget myself, and the two Friday classes alone cost me 84 euros (~ 110 $) / 4 weeks. I´m always making sacrifices for my dancing. Instead of new winter boots I bought pointe shoes! And just now I had to choose between ballet classes and live ballet (Kenneth MacMillan´s Manon). Guess what I picked? :)

  4. Hi Rori!

    I once took a 3-year ballet hiatus. I´m still kicking myself because of it! But as you already surmised from my post, I do so understand! 2-3 times a week will just tie you over, even though it´s better than nothing.. But if you know what regular 5-6 classes a week can do to and for you, you will always know that you are missing out. Can you take more classes in the summer? I´ve read a lot about the Richmond ballet camp for adults, and would be the first in line to attend. If only plane tickets were a lot cheaper!

    The Bloch Pumps have been a favorite of mine too :) They fit really close to your instep and make a lovely line. Another model that I like, is the "Proform". It has a wider sole underneath the ball of your foot and makes balancing easier. The vamp is a bit shorter too. Have you shopped online? I know that All About carries the pump in black, as does Discount I buy mine from (England), and luckily they carry exactly my half size :)

    Perfomance this weekend? Surely there will be a post? Yes? And my heartfelt "merde" to you :)

  5. You have lovely feet! I love Bloch pumps in black to, they are the best! :)

  6. Thank you Tarryn! :)

    That´s my left foot, known as "the nice one" by me and my teacher :)

    Yes, Pumps are the best - they really make your arches look good. Also, comfortable to wear and overall good quality. I need about 5-6 pairs a year, really working the floor!

  7. Hey I've got that same kind of rubber ball for my feet! :) Bought it just as a moment's thought, but my feet (especially arches) have been aching quite a lot - and this ball has really helped. I use it actually every morning & evening, first to get my feet "going" and then to relax them.

  8. Iepukka, what is amazing that it helps with your flexibility too! Something about releasing the plantar fascia underneath your foot.. Now if I could just remember where I read that article..

  9. Hi Johanna,
    I know all to well that moment of frustration when I can't take as many classes as I'd like to (and "need" to). It seems the adult life schedule is so much more challenging than teen age schedule. During Nutcracker rehearsal I was able to spend every spare moment in class and rehearsal, but now I'm down to only being able to dance 4 classes a week.
    I agree with you about three classes a week to maintain and more than that to "grow" and get stronger.
    Ahhh, life and it's busyness, commitments and schedules.

    Love your photos!

  10. Hi Aileen,

    It´s funny how dancers view 4 classes a week as "only". But once you know what difference even 5x makes, well then you always want/need more! I´m happy for you that you could spend that much time & energy on your recital :)

    Last week I only had time for 2 classes. Two! But a girl´s gotta do..

    Thanks, the photos came out surprisingly well. Considering I took them with my macbook cam :)


To That Special Ballet Teacher

To that special ballet teacher, who not only teaches you about technique, but helps build your confidence, nurtures your inner artist, ...