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Viv

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  1. I had Grade 8 today. I think it went well, the ankle held up and is feeling much better after some ice. Grade 8 is a tough one to predict though, it's marked so differently from the other exams, 50% for performance! So while I feel like I did alright, I'm not sure what they're actually looking for or whether or not I've achieved it. I didn't have the feeling of pure joy I did in the grade 7 exam so I worry the performance was a little forced, but I was trying to hide and compensate for the things I can't do too well at the moment. I suppose I'll know in 6 weeks time.
  2. Shoes are a big part, fear is a big part and experience is a big part. The reason why you can't dance in the centre is partly because...you never dance in the centre. The more experience you get the more natural it will feel and the more you will be able to do. Remember how strange everything felt in your first ballet class? This is like starting over again, except 5 inches higher up. But oh what those 5 inches of extra height does to our brains! Being an adult, pointe is scary. All you can think about is how unnatural it feels and how you're going to fall and hurt yourself. The problem with fear is it becomes a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. I was having huge issues with my pointe coming back from an injury (in fact I posted about it here - see below). In 2017 I was struggling to do releves on one leg at the barre which seemed like the end of the world at the time. Looking back, having completed my advanced foundation exam and started working towards advanced 1, I actually have to laugh a bit at myself. I have just injured myself again so I mentally I will probably go back to being scared for a few months, but I know there's a path through it now. What I've learned since then is that a lot of the time, your fear is holding you back physically as well as mentally. When we are scared or in pain, we hesitate, hold ourselves stiff and don't commit fully to the movement. I feel like when I'm scared I hold my arms in closer to my body instead of supporting them from the back. I am scared to go up so I kind of hop up en pointe and immediately come back down because I'm scared. And then I go well look, I can't do it because I didn't stay up! Ummm...you see the flaw? Chances are you're also looking down at your feet to make sure that they're behaving (trust me, they're still there even if you can't seen them). Where your eyes go, your body will follow. If you look down, down you will go! The trick to confident, strong pointe work, is being confident and strong. It sounds like you're strong enough or your teacher wouldn't have put you up there. The confidence is something only you can control. Next time you are doing echappes or releves in the centre, pull up taller, support yourself properly and trust yourself! Feel yourself grow taller at the waist as you go up en pointe, try to feel like there's an extra inch of space between your hips and your ribcage. Keep your chin up, project out from your sternum and engage your back. All of this will help to lift you up, you'll find you're more stable without even realising how you're doing it. Don't dance small! Do your exercises like you're performing them for an audience. Trust that you can do it and throw yourself into believing that you can. There's some element of 'fake it till you make it here'. Believe that you can, and you will. Do it and you will believe that you can! And also, give yourself a break. The more stressed you are the tenser you will be which certainly won't help. Remember, inside all of us adults who try their hand at pointe is some sort of desire to feel beautiful, ethereal, effortless. So feel beautiful 😊 And let us know how you get on!
  3. This is very selfish of me but I don't want it to change because I have absolutely zero chance of ever getting a high distinction now I only have advanced 1 and 2 left 😂 There's something really satisfying about getting the top grade, even if you barely scrape in. I know the people who do manage to achieve highly should be recognised but since I will never be one of them, I cannot support these change haha
  4. @The_Red_Shoes thank you, and I am wishing you the best in your grade 7 preparation as well! I am doing Demi-caractere, poetique and dance russe. Dramatique has the turning temps leves in the middle section which I would not be even allowed to attempt at this stage! The biggest jump in the poetique is the parallel pas de chat (commacht? I can't spell it...) which thankfully isn't in turn out and I can bring the second foot down quickly to take some of the force into it. There are some longish balances that I am concerned about but if it doesn't work out, that's just how it is. I am currently 'lilting' my jumps in demi-caractere while I build up my confidence, I will aim for slightly more height (at least so I can fully point my feet) over the next week.
  5. I adored Grade 7. I was getting bored of it in class towards the end of last year, but when I was in front of the examiner with a live pianist it was like I came to life, I don't think I have ever danced better than that exam. And the character does slowly become more manageable 😆 I am sitting Grade 8 in exactly one week! I was actually aiming my sights high for this one, wanted to beat last years score by 5 marks and get my first (and only) 90! Nice to have a dream haha. Unfortunately, I sprained my ankle 8 weeks ago really badly. Two high grade ligament sprains, a suspected fibula fracture (thankfully ruled out) and a low grade high ankle sprain (this is the only real issue, it has slowed down my recovery significantly, but currently it looks like I will get to avoid surgery). I spent 2 weeks in a moon boot and have been mostly out of dancing since August. I thought I was well out of the exam which seemed like such a shame, I was so ready for it and I won't repeat grade 8 next year (don't have time in my schedule since in November I will finally be a certified lawyer!) so I would have to leave my graded exams unfinished. However, after talking to my physio on Saturday, she has cautiously cleared me to do the exam. Apparently it will hurt like hell but is unlikely to actually do any more damage since after 9 weeks the ligaments should be almost fully healed, if still tender. If it was any other exam I wouldn't be doing it, but grade 8 has no pointe, no double pirouettes and the dances I have chosen I have barely any jumps. Because it's a performance exam I can make up marks in the upper body and face. My teacher, physio and I have had a big discussion and decided to go for it, accept that my mark won't be as high as it might have been (goodbye 90 😣) but I will be able to finish the grades with my girls, most of whom will not be continuing with ballet after this. Would I recommend this to anyone else? No. Am I endangering myself and ignoring medical advice? Absolutely not! I cautiously attempted the full exam yesterday and got through it all with only minor discomfort, so I will just do everything right between now and next tuesday, then cross my fingers and hope...
  6. Unfortunately I am on the other side of the country and haven't made it over east for more than a couple of days since starting pointe. I have a list of shops I want to go to but time and money are the issue.
  7. I have been told multiple times that my feet are difficult to fit, because I also have a disappearing heel! And my knees are incredibly hyperextended, to the point that I can fit a takeaway coffee cup under my heel and keep my knee flat to the floor. Pray that I never walk into your shop Sheila 😂 Unfortunately, where I live in Australia there are very few pointe fitters and all are contractually obligated to only fit one brand of pointe shoe (ridiculous in my opinion). They also tend not to stock the same variety in shoes as in larger cities because the demand is low and they would end up sitting in a back room for a very long time before finding anyone wanting to try them on. I would say 4 styles of bloch, 3 styles of grishko and 2 shank strengths in gaynor is all we're allotted. I will ask my grishko stockist about the allure but I think it's safe to say I do not have a 'grishko foot'. I have been wearing mirella whisper for a while and, don't judge me, increasing the padding as the box widens to increase their lifespan... Luckily I am going to Queensland over the christmas period and will be able to attend a larger shop which also stocks gaynor minden and russian pointe/energetiks. I'm hoping the tapered, narrow, low profile russian pointe will finally allow me to keep my toenails without all this faffing around. Fingers crossed!
  8. I tried the Smart Pointe last year. They looked gorgeous in the fitting but the wings broke down astonishingly fast. Within 20 minutes in class my extremely narrow feet had lost all support and the shank started twisting. I ended up with a twisted ankle and lost both my big toenails from only 30 minutes of pointe work... I took the shoes back to the fitter and she was appalled, they had changed shape completely from the fitting and were now completely wrong for me. She was nice and gave me 50% off a pair of grishko novas to get me through the rest of concert season but it was far from a good experience. I've tried 2007s before and they fit fine in the box, I ended up in novas because I couldn't get the 2007s to stay on my heel, plus they looked awful on me haha. The Smart Pointe fit entirely differently to a 2007 in my experience. In terms of feet, I have a relatively low arch, so pre-arched was great. My feet are very very narrow feet, I wear X in a bloch pointe shoe and still sink down without padding. I have long toes with a lot of hypermobility, all my joints, including my toe joints, bend in funny directions and my feet are incredibly compressible (shame that this hypermobility hasn't given me a better arch! Darn bone structure). Although my feet are only slightly tapered, the compressibility means I prefer to wear a more tapered box to give more support when actually en pointe. The fitter, who I highly rate usually, has said after this she'll never fit another girl with hypermobility in the Smart Pointe because they don't provide enough support across the metatarsals. Take from this what you will.
  9. I also sound out each letter, so therefore I would say 'an' RAD exam. 'An' is used before words or abbreviations starting with a vowel sound, while 'a' is used before words starting with a consonant sound. Because 'RAD' would, as you say, start with the vowel sound 'are', you would use 'an'. However, you would say 'a university' however because university starts with a 'yoo' consonant sound. Sometimes people get confused because they think that the indefinite article changes depending on whether a word is spelled with a vowel or a consonant as the first letter, when really what matters is the sound of the start of the word. Although, if you were saying rad as in radical, you would say 'a rad exam'. Just to confuse things https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/a_3 (proof!)
  10. Unfortunately the ignorance doesn't end there... RAD Australia posted this on Facebook yesterday. "The discussions regarding male dance continued in the US overnight with the latest outrage coming as Fox News reported on recent events in a less than sensitive manner. The male anchor said he was “razzed” for wearing tights when he took ballet as an adult for an acting career. But then went on to say that ballet is “not exactly the exemplar of the male form” and that “I hope she offends a mechanic next time so the boys can learn how to change their oil.” (clip in link below) Obviously, the voices of the entire global dance community have not been heard loudly enough. RAD Australia continues to stand with all those who are calling out such shocking attitudes and believes we must do what we can to highlight the fact that bullying and ignorance will not be tolerated.#RADProjectB #boysdancetoo" With this video
  11. I don’t actually disagree with this. I think assiduously avoiding a topic can be just as bad as constantly bringing it up. However, I would like to see a change in the conversation from weight to nutrition. The medical world is starting to realise that all this talk of the obesity epidemic has actually not done anything to fix anyone’s health, it’s just made people overly focused on weight as an indicator of health, which it’s actually not a very good indicator of. Afterall, if you only eat 2 chocolate bars a day, you’d be very skinny, but I can’t say you’d be too healthy. Assisting someone with good nutrition like in the books discussed above is very different from shaming a child for liking sweets. I’d actually like to see discussion of nutrition normalised and completely separated from discussion on weight. Not to mention that in the ballet world, there are so many more things to be dissatisfied with your body about than just your weight. Your height, feet, rotation, length of neck...are all things to start disliking your body for if this isn’t managed correctly. Some of these things can be changed and others can’t. For a lot of dancers, the only thing they feel they can control is their weight. I understand how hard it is to teach your child self acceptance when they can see the types of people getting into associates when they’re not. I’m actually not sure how to fully change the conversation. But I’d like to try! Maybe changing the focus from how your body looks to a focus on what it can do. Or countering negative comments about their body with a focus on things they’re good at such as jumping or artistry. The same way I think society is being encouraged to stop telling girls ‘you look so pretty’ as the first compliment they regularly get and start commenting their abilities, not their appearance. I know appearance is a huge factor in Ballet that can’t be locked down and never discussed, but there are ways and there are ways to discuss things. For both parents and companies and schools. Just because something is hard, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.
  12. My physio says that for some exercises a wobble board is great, but for a lot of people they'd be better off just folding a pillow in half, putting it on the floor and standing on it. Surprisingly hard! Good for balance and ankle stability. So depending on what exercises your physio has set you, maybe consider other options before running out and buying a wobble board
  13. I know I'm coming to this thread late but I just wanted to add an additional note to please be EXTREMELY careful how you discuss food and weight issues with your young dancers! They're staring at themselves in a mirror for hours every week, they see their friends and notice they look different, the last thing they need is any sort of indication from their parents that how they look is in some way 'wrong'. Obviously we all know not to say that someone looks fat or big or any words like that, but you'd be surprised what these kids take as a criticism of their body. Last year I had one girl in tears because a teacher told her not to grip with her thighs in a developpe because 'that's why your thighs are so big'. That same dancer still brings up her 'big' thighs a year later because one poorly phrased comment has stuck in her mind like a barb. Another girl in full time ballet training is absolutely tiny, slim build but has started to develop boobs. A simple, very normal comment about considering wearing a body stocking under her leotard led to a panic attack because 'no professional ballet dancer has to wear a body stocking under their leotard, my boobs are too big, I'll never be a ballet dancer with big boobs, maybe if I lose more weight my boobs will get smaller...' Today she told me 'I think I'm dancing better at the moment because I'm happy, and I'm happy because today I feel really skinny!' 😢 And finally, most tragically of all, one of the girls in my grade 8 class is currently in hospital on a 28 day psychiatric hold because she has developed anorexia... She has done so much damage to her heart from malnourishment that a few weeks ago she actually had a heart attack. She's 16. So this particular issue is particularly on my mind at the moment and I just want to stress to teachers and parents or anyone involved with a younger dancer. They know. Seriously. They know every part of their body that is different or bigger or 'not good enough' and they beat themselves up over it when you're not looking. For most of them, this will not develop into disordered eating, and I note that a full blown eating disorder is a mental illness that is about control more than about the food itself. Food is just a mechanism for control in their lives. I just worry what impression our comments, about our dancers and also about ourselves, are making. I know every time I express dissatisfaction with my body, I am modelling that behaviour for those girls. Every time we talk about diets or 'good' food vs 'bad' food, we are making a value judgment about what we are using to fuel our bodies. Actually, for anyone interested I would encourage you to check out Weigh Free May, an initiative here in Australia aiming to educate people on just these sorts of issues. All I know is, when I'm in the hospital tomorrow visiting my friend, I'm going to be thinking of all the things I did or didn't do that might have contributed to this awful situation...
  14. The first girl (Milla) danced at my studio until she started at Tanya Pearson this year!!!!!! We actually did our Advanced Foundation exam together last October, though obviously she danced like a dream and me like a nightmare (or some kind of landlocked walrus). So exciting to see her achieving her dreams, can't wait to see where she goes next
  15. Has anyone taken a DR exam yet? I haven't done a DR class since November last year but I'm still interested to hear how people who have stuck with this class to exam readiness have found the syllabus.
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