July 5, 2011

Summer Dancathon!

It´s official. I´m on my first decent vacation in years. Three weeks of blissful not-doing-anything, except heading to the beach. And ballet. Lots of ballet! Since there are no summer-intensives for adults here in Helsinki (and I´m lacking the funds to travel), I have compiled my own ballet intensive, with daily classes at two different studios. The only drawback is that there is not much variety in classes. Both my favorite teachers are on vacation too, and at both open studios there is currently only one teacher subbing for the next two weeks. But it is summer, I´m out of the office, and I get to dance. Not really complaining here.

My own regular teacher/mentor Gabriella already handed over the reigns a week ago, and what a awesome rule it was! Classes progressed from the first to last, adding more challenges as we danced along. Got to do lots of batterie again, quick allegros, grand pirouettes, complex variations across the floor and and big port de bras. In our last summer class we did this beautiful adagio, with specific focus on épaulemant: "you have to dance from the heart", she said, laying hands to her chest. "All movement has to come from the heart!". This is so important to remember, especially in technique class where your brain is doing overtime to produce clean lines and accurate steps. You gotta put yourself out there, and not be scared to let your personality shine through! 

Class ended with a crazy grand allegro en manège: valses en tournant, tour jetés, and coming down from entrelacé, fouetté around, step and grand pas de chat. That last big jump - it´s been a long time since I haven´t felt any restriction, no stiffness, no nothing. Awesome! After our final reverance, we thanked with the longest applause, until our teacher waved us off, all embarrassed (and obviously very pleased). :) 

So, until mid-August, new styles and new teachers. It always does you good, as long as you bring the right attitude into class and work as hard and carefully as usual. My own studio´s Summer Sub (Silvia) has already proven to be an interesting experience. She is Spanish, was primarily educated in the Vaganova school, but has since picked up influences from the American (think Balanchine) and Cuban schools, plus contemporary dance (Graham, Cunnigham). I like that she too has actually performed as a classical ballet dancer, in Mexico´s National Ballet and later in Germany. 

Silvia´s class very much focuses on center exercices, with beautiful upper body movements and very quick and strong jumps. She pays particular attention to proper breathing during dancing, and to the phrasing of the music. The center I like very much indeed, but the barre is still a bit too light and short for my liking. Her teaching style is also somewhat more relaxed, for instance she lets us do our own preparations at the barre, and our own stretching before center. Whereas Gabriella and M-P always choreograph the entire class. I don´t mind so much, it´s quite common practice - but I do miss the concentrated feeling of a class working and dancing completely in unison. But all in all, a positive experience.  Really looking forward to more!

My weekly dance schedule:

Monday: Advanced ballet, 90 min (Silvia)
Tuesday: Adv ballet, 90 min, new teacher (N), different studio, today is the first time
Wednesday: Adv ballet 90 min (S), followed by 60 min basic level (S), which I do on pointe
Thursday: Basic-Intermediate 75 min (N), 15 minutes at end of class for beginning pointe, 
followed by 90 min of adv ballet (S). Have to switch studios for this one, luckily they are close-by.
Friday: Adv ballet, 90 min (N)
Weekends: no ballet, just R&R

I´m also planning to finally buy a new camera, so there may be more photos in the future. Most likely these will be shots of pointe shoes and beaches, but if we can get any decent ballet photos.. who knows? Might be time for a full-body-shot. Yikes.. Well, that is it for my first dancatahon post. More to come. Hope you all have a wonderful summer dancing and relaxing!

Picture above post: "Ballet on the Beach" by Loudon Sainthill (1918-1969).
Medium: watercolour and ink.


  1. I'm SOOOOO jealous of all the classes you get to take :D

  2. There's no pointe at the 75 min intermediate classes, only the 90 min ones. Anyway, I guess I'll see you on Thursdays then - tho probably not yet this week as I'm off to London. :)

  3. Iepukka, I wish you could come to Helsinki to dance! :)

  4. Hi Ilona,

    aren´t you a lucky girl :) Are you planning to do any dance-related shopping while you´re there? Lots of good stores around Drury Lane..

    About that intermediate class. Darn! I specifically signed up because of pointe. I suppose I could take the class before Tue adv.. Thanks for the tip-off!

    Hope you have a great trip :)

  5. Lovely post Johanna! Thank you so much for sharing! As I told you before, there are NO proper ballet classes for adults in this part of London, so I am dancing vicariously through you :D

    have a great time!

    Nina W xxx

  6. Thank you Nina :)

    I try my best to keep you dancing - as long as you keep blogging and tweeting too! That was a very thoughtful last post, by the way. I have been planning on writing a ballet & body image post of my own, but it requires still more processing.. One thing is sure: there is way too much pressure on us girls/women to look a certain way.

    And since you didn´t do any self-promo, I´m going to put the link in here myself:

    Thanks Nina for your comment!

  7. Some dance-related shopping is a must wherever I go, so... yeah. :) At least at Pineapple since that's where I'm going for classes (and I love their dancewear), but thanks for the tip on the Drury Lane area, too.

  8. I am so thoroughly jealous of the way most European countries handle vacation time. Three weeks off with nothing to do but dance and go to the beach? Sounds heavenly... well, except for the beach part. I burn if I so much as glance at the sun, it seems. I will live vicariously through your wonderful vacation! Until my own measly little week at the end of the summer. Haha. Enjoy and hope to see lots of new posts!

  9. Only one week? Darn, that is hardly a vacation! But at least you get to dance anyway (I read your latest post - that´s a whole lotta dancing!).

    I´m really lucky to have a beach close-by, and sometimes I head for a swim right after ballet class. As long as the water is at least +19 C warm!

    Thanks Rori for commenting, and I try to keep the posts coming at a quicker pace :)

  10. Thanks Jeff, I will!

    I´m settling very nicely into this routine.. Sleep late, go to beach, eat, go to ballet, meet friends, go home, stretch, blog, sleep.. Not missing the office at all :)


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, ...