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*insert expletives here*

The Freed is a no-go. I kind of want to curl up in a corner and cry. I've purchased and worn SO MANY pointe shoes this year (7 different shoes to be exact), and most of them for only a couple of classes each!

It's a good thing I'm single with no dependents, because good Lord.


The Freeds really seemed like they were going to work, but apparently they're too narrow for my foot (though I didn't notice a problem when I tried them initially). The box has gotten mushed out of shape on the outside (pinky toe edge), and the shoe is twisting which is shifting my alignment off the platform (i.e. instead of being over my big and second toes, I'm shifted over my pink toe! NO GOOD).


When I had shown them to the AD of the school originally, she'd expressed some concern over that side, but in the end was willing to let me give them a shot. I had two different teachers look at them yesterday (now that they're more broken in) and both said they thought the box was too n…

Pointe Shoe Surgery

I'm trying yet another new pair of pointe shoes, this pair recommended to me by a shoe mistress from a professional ballet company.

They're a Freed Wing Block, size 5.0 XX. Wing Blocks have hardcore shanks, and one of my issues with the RPs (according to the shoe mistress) was that they weren't conforming to my arch properly, and were restricting my technique. She recommended that if I wanted to try the Freeds, I should 3/4 the shank, and suggested I practice on some old pairs to work out exactly where it should hit my foot.

Cutting shanks is not an easy-peasy chore, let me tell you. I experimented on several different pairs (two different old pairs of Blochs, and the RPs) and it was sort of fascinating how different the shanks were in each pair.


Alas, those shanks did not prepare me for the Wing Block shank. While I was able to cut ALL of the aforementioned pairs with a Stanley utility knife, that knife (and my fancy Boker pocket knife) proved to be no match for the Wing …

Stretching > Jumping Jacks

During a meeting between the advanced class and the AD recently, someone suggested that we add a stretching class after one of our technique classes. All of us loved that idea--it would give us a chance to work on our flexibility while we were nice and warm, and relax a bit as well.

Well, apparently we got the wrong idea, because this class actually happened, only it was called "Strengthening, Conditioning, & Stretching," and involved lots of unpleasant things like jumping jacks, planks, push-ups, crunches, and lunges (oh, and a little stretching). I am not here for this.

Now, on one hand, I like the idea of conditioning and working on my core so that I can balance and turn better and so forth, but I've already been feeling a little bit like I'm overdoing it (and my body is telling me I am correct). I can't help but think that doing 100 jumping jacks is not going to improve matters.

In addition, I dance (or take dance-like classes like Zumba) because I hate t…

Full Speed Ahead

Rehearsals for our winter show are in full swing right now, which means all of us are starting to get a little exhausted and stressed. We're all doing our best to stay healthy, but it doesn't help that dance studios are giant incubators for germs. I caught a cold last week despite my best hand sanitizing/washing efforts. Boo.

I'm in the same role as last year, a dancer in the corps (which performs all the big group dance numbers). I've managed to remember some of the choreography (yay!), though several dances are changing slightly, plus they're adding one!  We're in seven (!) numbers, and it can be pretty exhausting. I feel like a corps part is actually better than a lead part (of which there are very few in our production) because you're basically in the ENTIRE show. Plus, lots of dancing, which is what I adore anyway.


In the land of silks, things are progressing a little more slowly, but I've finally seen some progress! I was able to pull myself upsid…

Pointe Shoe Saga: The Return of the Bruised Toenail

So, apparently my search for the perfect pointe shoe ISN'T over. As I mentioned in my last post, I recently got a bruised toenail from the RP Entrada Pros. I've also started getting some cramping along the outside of my foot, under my smaller toes. That can't be good, right?

I'm back on the hunt. The next shoe victim looks like it might be a Freed.  Will the Freed suffice? Are my feet too sensitive? Am I too old for this nonsense? (Maybe, possibly, probably).

We shall see.

Frustration Station

I've been meaning to update y'all on the crazy that is my dance life right now (maybe even with pictures!) but I haven't had much of a chance to sit down, or to take said pictures.

Rehearsals are going well, though are exhausting as per usual. Because we're doing a musical, rather than a ballet, a lot of the dances are in character shoes (with a 1.5 inch heel), and that is its own special sort of torture.

However, if the title of my post is any indication, that's not what I really came to post about. I am completely and totally frustrated by pointe at the moment.

After my original foot problem, I eased back up onto pointe and was starting to do full classes in them (re-conditioning ones feet to pointe shoes is no fun. Especially when one is still sporting a super awesome bruised toenail on one foot). Then, of course, my luck went downhill. Two weeks ago, I started getting some pain in the Achilles area of my OTHER foot. Saw the doc, and it seems to be a different p…

In which I am a weakling.

I've always been of the opinion that dancers are strong, and therefore (as a dancer) I probably have more strength than the average person.

Apparently I am not nearly as strong as I supposed. In fact, I would venture to say that I am pathetically weak. This is a slightly distressing development.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I've started taking some aerial silks classes. I expected it to be difficult, because I knew going in that I have no arm/upper body strength. I didn't expect to discover that I have absolutely no core strength, and lack some degree of leg strength (specifically the inner thighs...which was unexpected to say the least since I try to be conscious of using my turnout muscles in ballet class).

I have a perfectionist sort of personality, so its frustrating for me when I'm not automatically good at something. Silks is something I am not automatically good at. Everyone else is class is able to climb, wrap their feet in without hands, and hang upside …

Review: Barreto Dancewear

As you all can probably tell, I'm obsessed with custom leotards. I love the idea of having something unique. However, because (as I've mentioned before) I am a curvier dancer, it can still be hard to find something that fits perfectly. I decided that instead of continuing to try the more expensive and popular brands (Eleve, Yumiko), I would try a smaller shop and see if I could get something that fit me a little more exactly.

I had great luck when I found Barreto Dancewear. The owner, Elizabeth, is a dancer with Idaho Ballet. Her designs are clean and flattering, and the majority are available in solid (but colorful) fabrics and mesh, though she does have a couple designs that have fun patterened fabric choices as well. There are a LOT of colors available (both in nylon/spandex and mesh), so your color combinations are pretty endless.


I decided to try two leotards with short sleeves: the Marie and the Evora.  Before I ordered, though, I sent Elizabeth a message asking about si…

Updates and A New Adventure

My apologies for the radio silence for the past few weeks! I haven't had too much to report because we've been in the "calm before the storm," period of the fall session, gearing up towards preparing for our Christmas show. We just had auditions, and rehearsals will be starting soon.  Here comes the crazy! (In case you're curious, I didn't [have to] audition; they just throw me in the corps, which basically dances the entire show. It's exhausting but fun!)

I started up back on pointe again last week (I've been easing up to it so I don't irritate my foot), and did about half a class (both because of caution and comfort). I'm going to have to build up my pain tolerance again, it seems.


I have been up to some other shenanigans, though. One of my co-worker buddies has been taking aerial silks for several months now, and has been trying to convince me to try it out. A couple of weeks ago, I went with her to an open class and promptly …

Nightingale

Jazz is a new dancing adventure for me, but because of my ballet technique I feel like I handle it pretty well. There are occasional steps that trip me up (i.e. turning with my passé parallel, or axle jumps), but overall I feel like I make it through class with pretty minor embarassment.

It helps that the jazz teacher is super encouraging. He has complimented my technique before, telling me how clean and smooth my movements are. Sometimes I feel like this isn't always a good thing, depending on the music we're dancing to, but he seems to disagree. After class the other evening, he came up to me and told me that I make him laugh, but in the best way--"The music is going 'boom tiss boom tiss' and there's Miss Jackie, all elegant and graceful. You're like a nightingale." When I mentioned that I thought it wasn't a good thing for that particular music, he said, "No, it's great. Everything is so smooth and clean."

I wasn't entirely su…

Left turns are my arch nemesis

I think most dancers favor one side or the other when turning, and a lot of us seem to favor turning to the right (clockwise), including myself. It doesn't matter what leg I'm actually turning on, but if I'm going clockwise, I can turn pretty darn well. I've even managed some consistent triple pirouettes and consecutive fouettés in that direction.

I was having some major problems with the left (counter-clockwise). Doubles were sloppy at best, and there was no way I could manage a triple. We won't even talk about my fouettés on that side (ugh). I was getting frustrated, and the mental roadblock wasn't helping.

So I started going through my mental list of what I was doing on the right that I wasn't doing on the left. First major difference? For some crazy reason, my foot moving up into passe was taking its sweet time.

Adjustment #1: Hit passe more quickly.

When I do right turns, I mentally visualize my opposite side coming around to help me turn (i.e. pirouet…

Tights Update!

Everyone!  The lovely capri tights are indeed from Target! They are $6 nowadays (which...hmph), though at my local store they had a few in the clearance bin in fun colors (which I may have purchased. Because aqua capri tights are totally dress-code).

The tights are usually in a bunch of bins on an end cap in the hosiery section. Beyond capri tights, they also have footless, and regular footed tights in a variety of fun colors (be careful when you're picking out tights, they often get mixed in the bins).

I got the M/L size, and it fit me wonderfully (as I mentioned earlier). As I've also mentioned, I'm curvy in the hips/bum, and these weren't too snug anywhere. Yay!

This is the waistband. Yay, no elastic!

The leg opening has similar construction. I wear them just under my knees, but they would stretch down to mid-calf. The leg opening isn't too snug either, so if you have muscular calves (which I bet you do if you're a dancer), you won't feel like they'r…

The perfect tights

I was digging around in my tights bin the other day, and happened upon a pair of black capri tights. I decided to give them a whirl at some point (since I'm experimenting with my class look), and stuffed them into my dance bag.

Today was the day, and THEY ARE AWESOME! They're super soft and stretchy, aren't too snug (but not too loose either), and don't have an evil elastic waist (its the tight material folded over in a 1.5" band), so I don't get the dreaded "sausage" look! LOVE.

The bads news? They have no tag. I have no idea from whence they came (or what size they are). I did some pondering, and I suspect they might be from Target (the cheapy $5 ones), because I'd gone on a mini-spree there last year and got some colored versions to make dance shirts out of. If they are, I'll be sure to let you guys know, because $5 awesome tights are awesome.


Life Isn't Fair (if you're a teen)

As I've mentioned before, my current ballet studio has a set dress code for its students. Each level has a specific style/color of leotard that they're required to wear for class, and there is a no skirts, shorts, or pants rule (though they're okay for jazz).  There are only two exceptions:
Adult students (18+) can wear whatever they want (and men/boys obviously have different rules).It's that time-o-the-month. I attend class with the intermediate/advanced teenagers (aka: Grade V, even though we don't follow a syllabus), and that class also has a set leotard (a black Capeizo BraTek).  However, because I'm over 18, I can (and do) wear crazy leotards, shorts, skirts, and leggings.


The girls are mostly in the 12-16 age range, so they're at that point where they're getting uncomfortable with their changing bodies and want to hide them. This results in semi-sneaky attempts to wear shorts in ballet. Each time the wardrobe mistress notices, she makes the girls …

Back to School

Classes started up again yesterday, and apparently I have no self control and am an overachiever.

It started out mildly enough.  I attended the normal intermediate/advanced class, only doing limited relevé, and did not jump (much to my sadness--sitting out of grand allegro was a little painful).  This class is followed by pointe, but because none of us are on pointe at the moment (everyone has been on break), it ended up being another class (except with tons of relevé--which I did not do, save for some turns and balances). 

Despite my (poor) attempts not to do too much, things were a little achy in the foot when we finished. So, when I got home I took some Advil, and iced it in a bucket of ice water.  Happily, I don't seem to have done any major damage--I did a small rise on both feet this morning and it didn't ache (whew).

I really have to remember to ease back into things properly and SLOWLY.  Which means both taking just ONE class a day, and fewer classes during the week. …

Note to Self: Injuries can be a sign you're over-doing it.

My apologies for the lack of posts! The foot/ankle is still being a jerk, so I haven't been dancing, and therefore have had nothing to report (except for complaints about being antsy).

I went back to the podiatrist today for a check up to see how/if the injection had helped anything. The pain on the inside part of my ankle has disappeared (hurray!), but a pinchy feeling is still occurring on the outside, sort of back near my heel. It doesn't hurt too badly if I just prop my foot up, but as soon as I put weight on it (a la relevé), it gets all grumpy.

The doc felt around and pushed that area a bit, and I definitely had pain. Turns out that it was my joint (the subtalar joint, to be exact). That made me a little panicky at first, but apparently it's just another inflammation thing (yay synovial fluid!) I likely had BOTH tendinitis AND the subtalar issue, thanks to my crazy dance schedule this past spring. Good times. I got another steroid injection (different side of m…

Changes in Preference

I've always detested adagio.  Jumps (particularly grand allegro) were always my thing.  I love leaping, and grand en tournants are one of my favorite steps. I can live without penchée, fondue, and never-ending extensions, thank you very much.

I am definitely the latter (pic via http://balletshoesandbobbypins.tumblr.com/)
As such, it's probably not much of a surprise that I prefer combinations and dances with fast tempos, attitude, and spunk (i.e. Don Quixote). However, over the past few months I've suddenly found a new appreciation and adoration for dances that are softer and more delicate.

The "a-ha!" moment of this change of preference came about because of the Les Sylphides variation I learned at my SI. It's not an adagio, but definitely not spunky; instead it uses a lot of port de bras, control, and has an overall softer feel (typical of the Romantic era, I think). I've been scouring the internet in search of the rest of the ballet (also known as Chopi…

Review: Elevé Dancewear

Last week, Poets & Pirouettes reviewed a custom leotard she ordered from Lone Reed Designs, and sparked my interest in trying an independent designer the next time I want a custom leotard.  We started having a conversation about my experience ordering from Elevé Dancewear, and I realized, "Duh, Jackie! You have a blog now! You should review and talk about those leotards in detail there instead of hijacking the comments section of this post!"  (Sorry m'dear!)  Also, I've determined that P&P and I could be horrible enablers for each other (in the best possible way).

(As an aside, you should go follow her blog, she is an amazing writer and fabulous to boot).

Now, let's get down to business and talk about Elevé. 

Banging my head against a wall

I saw the podiatrist again today about my heel/ankle pain.

He still thinks it might be the FHL, but also suggested it could be some kind of neuropathy--e.g. a nerve in my pelvis is actually causing the pain in my foot.  However, when he asked me about my pain (if it felt weird, or numb, or was tingling), I said no, it was more like a pinch, and that didn't seem to jive with that partciular theory.

He pushed around on my ankle and the FHL got nice and cranky (but was deep), so we decided to try an injection and see what would happen.  He told me to try to relevé later and see if it helped the pain at all (since the injection basically numbs it for a few hours afterward).  Alas, I'm still numb (though its wearing off), and still getting a pinch.  That being said, I have been on my feet the last few hours, so I imagine I'm still nice and inflamed down there.

If it does start to feel better, I can ease back into class.  If not, I need to take Advil and see him again (I'll …

Pointe Saga: A Happy Ending?

I don't want to jinx anything, but I think I may have found THE PAIR.

While I was in Colorado, I made an appointment to get a proper pointe shoe fitting since my local shop is so lacking.  I had gotten a recommendation for Assemblé Dancewear in Castle Rock, and Noel (one of the owners) had a great reputation for fittings, so I decided to give it a try.  I was super impressed and pleased with my experience!  Noel really knew his stuff, and even taught me some things about pointe shoes I didn't know (and should have, since I've been on pointe for so long! I felt a little ashamed.)

The first thing Noel did was to examine my feet thoroughly, testing my flexibility and strength with his hands.  Next, he looked at my old shoes (the Bloch Heritage) and examined the wear patterns on them (he was pleased it was even. Yay me!)  We discussed what padding I was using (way too much, in both our opinions), and problems (my lovely bruised toe nail because of the sinking). Then he had me …

A Brief Update

So, obviously I haven't had as much free time as I had hoped!  I'll have to do a big comprehensive post when I get back home.
Right now, this is happening:


Nothing major, no one panic.  Just my stupid tendons acting up again (only doing the heel tonight, though the past two nights I did my whole foot and half way up my calf).  
Other things I'll expand upon later: got a lovely new pair of pointe shoes, my entire lower half is beyond sore (especially the calves), I've gotten a chance to try the Esmeralda variation (but currently prefer a variation from Les Sylphides), and I hate super sticky floors.
Stay tuned!  I apologize if this post is wacky, I'm trying the blogger app.

Packing (exciting title, I know)

I leave tomorrow for my vacation/summer intensive adventure, and am being a total slacker with regards to my packing:

This is an enormous mess.
I never did a summer intensive when I was young.  I took time off from dance during the summer, usually because my family would have some sort of vacation planned. I had no plans to be a professional dancer, so it wasn't a "necessity." Ballet was something I loved, but I was too shy and non-competitive to really want to be a pro.

Subsequently, I will now be attending my first SI at the ripe old age of 32.  Better late than never, right?

First problem: I have no idea what to pack.  Or really, how MUCH to pack.   I'm staying with a friend, so I'll have access to laundry and a kitchen, but...should I pack all my leotards, just in case?  How many pairs of tights? My regular foam roller, or rumble roller? (or both?) Should I bring my dance bag as my carry on, or pack it into my suitcase?

My cat thinks I should leave all these fu…

Wardrobe Woes

I've been pondering some changes to my usual class attire.

I'm a creature of habit, so when I started dancing again I just wore what I've always worn to class: leotard, convertible pink tights, shorts (originally knit, now spandex), and pink canvas slippers.

My usual ballet gear just isn't doing it for me anymore
Alas, because I am now an adult woman*, this combination is not as flattering as it might have been when I was 16.  These days, I have what I like to call a "J-Lo" thing happening (bootylicious!), and I'm pear-shaped.

This is a lovely shape to have when one wants to wear cute a-line dresses (which I do).  It is, however, a difficult shape to dress when one has to wear ballet attire.

Why can't I wear THIS to ballet class? (Traveling Cupcake Truck Dress, from Modcloth) For example, I have tried several brands of tights in an effort to find a pair that doesn't have a waist band threatening to sever me in half.  No luck in that department, excep…

Hanging Out to Dry

I have this fancy metal screen in my bedroom:


It matches the metal bed frame I inherited from my parents when I moved out of their house, and is nice and old timey (I'm a bit of a history nerd).  I like the "pretty, but rustic" look.

It sits off to one side of my bedroom, "hiding" the door to the bathroom (which is blocked by cat litter boxes on the other side, so I don't use that door).  It has no purpose other than to be pretty and decorative.

I have found a second use for it:


Who knew, right?

It Rains, It Pours

My body has decided to go on strike.  I've been having some pain/aches around my ankle and heel, but its another thing that comes and goes depending on its mood (I assume).  It's only my right foot, which I had sprained (twice) over 10 years ago, so I originally thought maybe it was just not as strong and needed time to get used to all my dancing and pointe again.

It has continued, so I started thinking maybe my never-ending point shoe saga was to blame--and I'm sure isn't helping things.

So, since we're on a break from classes (during which I fully intend on just RESTING for once), I made an appointment with a foot/ankle specialist to get it checked out, just to be safe, especially since after break I'm going to that SI.

Good news: not my Achilles.  Also not an os trigonum issue (whew).  Bad news: I have some inflammation/tendonitis in my flexor hallucis longus tendon*. (yea, trying saying that fast...or at all).

(This picture was shamelessly stolen from Wikipedia

Operation: Recital, a Success!

We had our show last night, and things went pretty well for me.  We had some hiccups with staging/timing on a couple of numbers due to not having had a full dress rehearsal, but overall it went well!  There's always a little something that doesn't pan out quite like you want, but they're always minor things that I'm sure the audience doesn't even notice, so I try not to dwell.

Two of my coworkers came to the show, much to my surprise!  Neither of them had said anything about coming, so when I spotted one of them in the audience I couldn't help but give her a big grin (luckily, it was appropriate to the character I was portraying).

I had spent most of the day being anxious and nervous, but by the time we started dancing I was as calm as can be.  I was glad, because during our Christmas show I'd been super nervous (for reasons I can't explain).  In the past (when I was younger and doing Nutcracker every year), I'd get nervous right before going on, bu…

Please Not Again

I have a dumb knee.

I don't like to say its a "bad" knee, because it still totally functions (quite well, actually), but it has some issues due to past injuries/surgeries (meniscus tear).  Every once in awhile it will ache (typically when the weather changes, which my friends find hilarious), but then it will feel normal again.  Sometimes a particularly rigorous class will make it ache too, but its nothing a little post-class icing/elevation/resting can't cure.

At least that was true until a couple of weeks ago.  The weather had been weird again, so when it started to ache, I didn't really think anything of it.  Then last week I somehow managed to overstretch my hamstring on that side, and it REALLY ached.

I'm naturally hyperextended, so I figured the combination of overstretching (and also forcing my knee back while doing so), plus the weather stuff had just made it irritated in general.  I wasn't really doing more classes/rehearsals than I had been at…

Well, That's a Bummer

Our pointe teacher is leaving; today is her last day. I am super bummed because she is amazing and fabulous. Even though I was often the lone adult dancing with the teens, she always made sure to treat me the same--give me corrections, compliments, encouragement. She was amazing and I'm sad she's leaving us. She was both really technical (which I like), and lots of fun (the class has several inside jokes now).

That's been one of the things I've noticed about my school, and I'm not sure how common it is elsewhere, but it really does seem like teachers come and go fairly often. I wonder if its common in the dance world? I guess its a symptom of dance teachers also having other jobs/lives, so I can't imagine its completely uncommon. Just a total bummer when one of your favorites has to leave.

Ye Olde First Post

I've decided to chronicle my dancing shenanigans in blog form!  Let's see how well I can keep up with it.

I've made an About Me page, but just for the sake of saving your clicking finger, here's a short rundown of who I am:  I am a dancer in her early 30 who has recently started dancing again after a long break.  I take both ballet (which I originally started as a youngin') and jazz (a recent development). 

I was inspired to start blogging about my dance adventures because I'm a big fan of both The Remedial Ballerina and Adult Beginner.  Reading dance blogs was one of the things that really helped motivate me to return to dancing.  I figured the more of us out here in the blogosphere, the more encouragement someone else might get to try or restart ballet. (Go do it!)