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Everything posted by Viv

  1. If you're looking for inspiration or wondering why men might want to go en pointe, have a look at these Boston Ballet men killing it dancing La Bayadère! Obviously these men are at their peak in terms of technique and fitness and it would take years to dance at this level, but look at what can be achieved. If a man or boy wants to learn to dance en pointe, whether as a training aid to get stronger ankles, or simply because they think it looks beautiful, go for your life! The more versatile you can be as a dancer of the future, the better
  2. As a slightly different opinion, I have been recommended by a number of teachers that in order to get a flat grand jete in the air, it is necessary to be able to achieve a slight oversplit on the floor. You'll never be able to get your legs as high in the air as you can when sitting in a split so if you can sit in a slight oversplit, you'll be able to get your legs 'flat' in a grand jete. It could be argued that it's actually safer to have enough flexibility to achieve a slight oversplit, because then you're not right at the end of your range of motion in explosive motions like a split grand jete or grand battement. I don't think training an oversplit should necessarily be a goal to be achieved above a solid grounding in technique, but the two aren't mutually exclusive. I also think there's a big difference between an oversplit with your feet on two chairs (dangerous and aesthetically displeasing) and a slight oversplit on something like a foam roller. If the splits are already an extreme position but are now, I would say, a fundamental requirement for a career in classical ballet, why is 5cm more range dangerous and also responsible for the destruction of the classical line? I think you'd be hard pressed to find a professional ballet dancer today who can't do an oversplit on at least one leg...
  3. Does anyone know of any good jazz or contemporary classes that are streaming at the moment? I am getting some really good ballet classes at the moment but I miss other genres
  4. Viv

    Home studio

    I was able to find some sheet vinyl for sale at at the hardware store, 50% off and it's working a treat. A bit sticky but better sticky than slippery, and perfect for pointework.
  5. Viv

    Home studio

    @trog I worry it'll rip up the satin too much and may end up not being the safest for pointe work. Excellent for tap though! I have found some vinyl floor tiles at bunnings which I could stick to a sheet of masonite, though they're a bit textured and will be a pain to try and line up. May be the best option in the end though. At least the old wooden floors have a nice spring to them!
  6. Viv

    Home studio

    Has anyone found any good flooring materials that aren't from a dance flooring provider like harlequin? A non-slip vinyl floor or pond liner of some sort that won't cost an arm and a leg? I saw on the American site that people were using PVC shower pan liners as an alternative, but they aren't sold anywhere in Aus. I am keen to lay some kind of non-slip dance floor over my normal floor boards so I can practice pointe, but I don't think the 1mx1m harlequin square is big enough, and the Dot 2 Dance is prohibitively expensive at something like $400! I would consider buying a proper dance floor if there are no cheaper alternatives, but I'm not sure they do them in such a small size, approximately 2mx3m. Has anyone had any experience of buying just a small practice floor, rather than fitting out a proper home studio?
  7. Actually, a friend of mine who has moved countries was reminding me of her old dance school the other day. I would definitely not trust them for ballet, but they have adult classes for jazz and contemporary that are later nights, close to my house and a much more reasonable price than most drop in adult classes. She raves about them and it looks like the adults are all having a lot of fun. However, the technique of their dancers I see on instagram (they have child classes and adult classes) show that 'fun' is more of a priority than technique. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. I am wondering whether, if I could still get my ballet serious technique training somewhere, I could do those classes just for fun and socialising. But is it a bit of a waste of time and money to be paying for training that you recognise is, to be a frank, quite poor? I'm not sure if 4 years at my highly competitive kids studio has warped my ideas of why I dance in the first place. Feeling quite lost just at the moment Unfortunately, the reason the class has been rescheduled is that she is off somewhere examining for the RAD so I'm not easily able to contact her to ask for advice! And considering things are about to wind up for the year over here, the most likely response will be 'what a shame but we can start again next year!' @LinMM the opportunities I see for adult ballet in London just about blows me away! Actually, I have applied to my law firm to see if I could get a secondment to London for 6 months next year...it is a highly competitive position that I am extremely unlikely to get, but it would resolve my dilemma quite nicely!!! For a while at least
  8. Oh @LinMM you've pretty much hit the nail on the head! Two years ago the school started offering a classical/contemporary 'full time program' and since that point, everything has changed. Suddenly if you're not in the full time program you are simply there to pay your bill and stay out of the way of the future stars. It doesn't matter that I pay substantial fees and last year was dancing there 15 hours a week, or that I donate my time making costumes and helping with hair and makeup, sewing other peoples shoes, buying props with my own money, driving the girls with working parents home after every class...I will never be a professional dancer and I won't win any competitions that they can brag about on instagram, so I am a second class citizen. This year, despite having a full time concert and an after school concert, all the leads in the after school concert are full timers. In fact, there were too many lead roles and not enough full time classical students, so one of the lead roles in the ballet is a full time hip hop student...meanwhile there are 4 after school advanced ballet students who aren't in the ballet concert at all because they aren't 'committed' enough! Getting to learn advanced 1 is all I want, it has been my goal for so long, but I'm not sure it will ever happen at this point. @Kate_N I wish I was in Sydney/Newcastle/Wollongong, I know some fabulous studios there, but I am about as far away as you can get and still be on the same continent Where I live is not big and I know every ballet teacher worth their salt because I either attend or volunteer at every ballet related event/competition/masterclass that I can. If things don't work out at this place next year I will probably ask my ballet teacher for advice, but I am wary of involving her because she and the studio owner have been working together for many years and I don't know what could be said to her behind my back. I don't want to risk losing that relationship.
  9. My ballet teacher only teaches at this studio and at an associates style program that caters to dancers under 15. I used to do private lessons with her but she has stopped offering them to all but a select few who she is coaching for international competitions. I can hope that she opens them back up next year but there's no guarantees. Based on some comments the ballet teacher has made recently, I feel like her days teaching at the studio are numbered but she will be there at least another year. I don't really want to keep giving them my money and putting up with the way they treat me. But when I'm in class with my ballet teacher, I forget all of that. If I knew that I could find a teacher that would give me that same joy I would be out of there, but I don't live in a place that has very many options. If I stay at that studio to take classes from the one good teacher, how can I limit my involvement with the studio owner? Also the studio owner is not an RAD registered teacher, she teaches jazz and tap, only two of the teachers are RAD teachers (and both of them are lovely!)
  10. I am an adult dancer in Australia who takes RAD exams with kids at a local studio. Over the past couple years, I have had a number of issues with my studio owner. These relate to timetabling (e.g. not running Advanced 1 despite people wanting to do it, but then running intermediate foundation for only 2 people because one of them is a favourite), issues with the communication (e.g. communicating that RAD exam fees are due within 3 days or you won't be entered for exams, despite fees being in excess of $600AUD last year!), rude/disrespectful comments in email and in front of other students, saying one thing and then, when questioned, completely denying that she ever said that, and most recently, bringing the only advanced foundation class I am able to attend forward one hour so it is impossible for me to leave work on time to be able to attend. There was no consultation on this change and I didn't even get the email telling me about it, another student had to send it on to me. I understand that the schedule has to change for a number of reasons, so I have requested a refund for that class as, due to their actions, I cannot take advantage of the service I am paying for. I have received no response to that email in over a week. My attempts to communicate get completely ignored. In the background to all of this, I also believe that the studio owner has been saying things about me to my jazz/contemporary teacher as the relationship there has deteriorated beyond hope of recovery practically overnight. I am deeply unhappy at this studio and dread going back there to finish out the year. Unfortunately, I absolutely adore my ballet teacher and she is the best teacher in the entire state of Australia that I live in. She keeps completely away from studio drama and wouldn't be impacted by any of the above. I don't want to leave this teacher, but I don't see how I can stay at the studio when I get treated so poorly. I have looked at other studios in my area and they either don't teach ballet above intermediate level, or refuse to allow adults into children's classes. I don't want to move to one of the only places that offers adult open classes as I have found that they are twice as expensive but I don't progress very much. I guess I'm looking for general advice about how to proceed with this situation. I have already decided not to continue with jazz or contemporary classes next year and, if I remain, would only take classes in ballet with the teacher that has been nothing but supportive of me through some very difficult personal times this year. My family wants me to pack up and leave but it would basically mean abandoning dancing at an advanced level and a serious decrease in hours. What would you do?
  11. You could always go the other extreme and cut the satin off the tips entirely and darn around the edges to stop it fraying. Might be a bit drastic but tends to look nice and neat. I'm a bit of an advocate for 'just trim it back and ignore it' though... Pointe shoes are scungey, as long as it's trimmed so it's not flapping around on stage, no one will even notice. It might seem like a bigger deal when you look straight at the tear but from 4 rows back the audience won't care at all. I'd be careful with doing anything with the tip of a shoe that might change the feel or make it sticky or slippery. There's a difference between sticking on suede caps and applying glue directly to the dance surface of the shoe, only on one side. If it doesn't feel right to dance on, your daughter could hurt herself and I think that's a far bigger concern than some ratty satin. But if people have used the Hi Tack stuff before without issue, and you think the tear is that bad, I guess go with your gut!
  12. 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.
  13. 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!
  14. 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
  15. @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.
  16. 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...
  17. 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.
  18. 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!
  19. 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.
  20. 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!)
  21. 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
  22. 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.
  23. 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
  24. 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...
  25. 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
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