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.

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, ...