Summer Intensive Reality

          Summer intensives, one of the most exciting things to do as a young dancer. You get to experience new schools, teachers, styles, choreography, and cities. It is a great way to make new connections in the world of ballet and is a priceless experience you will cherish even after you have finished dancing. In honor of auditions for the tremendous programs beginning I thought it would be only right to talk about theses programs in a more honest tone. While I most definitely agree with what was said at the beginning of this post, there is so much more to summer intensives that are not discussed. Let’s start with the obvious, pressure. There is immense pressure to go to these programs, especially if you want to dance professionally. With ballet becoming increasingly more competitive it is seen that attending summer programs is a must. It is true that you should continue to train in the summer, so you don’t lose what you have worked so hard to achieve, but are big name programs essential. I know from my own personal experience that it feels as if you’re even less likely to make it as a dancer if you don’t attend one of these programs. That just isn’t right. As a young teenager, no one should feel as if they need to attend a program once a year because their future depends on it.
          The second reason why summer intensives are just plain stressful, cost. The cost of these programs is overwhelming. It gives me anxiety to think that for me to attend one of the smaller lesser known intensives it would still cost up to over a thousand dollars to have decent summer training. Yes, scholarships are offered, but that only covers tuition and not the most expensive aspect, room and board. Scholarships are also very scarce making it not even a factor for dancers like me. I work my butt off to be where I am as a dancer and I do well, but I know that I am not the best and I know it is unlikely I will receive a scholarship. Whether scholarships are based off of merit or financial aid, it is unlikely you will receive one that can help you out the way you may need. In addition there are an abundance of other expenses. You must pay for pointe shoes, audition fees, travel, and activity fees for whatever intensive you choose. Some may wonder why you don’t just get a job to pay for it, but that is just near impossible. As ballet dancers, we spend all of our time dancing and have no time to work. The stress of money is extreme unless you are very wealthy or one of the lucky few that get a scholarship.
         Don’t get me wrong I love summer intensives. Some of my most cherished ballet memories have happened at summer intensives. They have provided me with new views and appreciations for the art form. It has been at summer intensives, that I have had ah-ha moments about my ballet career. I just want people that can’t go and feel like they are the only ones, to know that they aren’t. This year I will probably do a very small program because I just can’t afford to go to a bigger program this year. That isn’t the ideal situation, but that is real life because not all of us are the next Dusty Button or can afford it. So if you feel defeated or frustrated about summer intensives this year, for any reason, know that you are in the majority and there are other people going through it too despite what you see on media. Keep working and giving your best effort because that is what will really help you succeed.
P.S.
This is not a bash on summer intensives, just an honest perspective on them. If you can go to one this summer, congratulations and have fun!

PIZZA

I am no food blogger and definitely not some sort of health genius or dietician. While I am none of those things I thought that today I would share an awesome recipe that I recently came up with. I love me a good slice of pie and one of my favorite restaurants is Old Scratch, a local pizza place. My most favorite pizza there is the Shroom. It is truffly, mushroom love on a plate. Since I can’t always just run out and get pizza from Old Scratch, I went ahead and tried to recreate the Shroom on my own. Even if you don’t like mushrooms, I urge you to try this recipe because I didn’t like mushrooms until I had this pizza and now I eat them on everything.

So here we go, my attempt at recreating the Shroom from Old Scratch.

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For my version you will need Trader Joe’s cauliflower pizza crust and bake according to the instructs. If you have no Trader Joe’s near you, you can try any type of crust you want; homemade or store-bought.

While your crust is being prepared you are going to cut up about 3/4 cup of mushrooms and 2 cloves of garlic. Once this is done you will mix your mushrooms and garlic up with about a teaspoon of olive oil and pop it in the oven. You will occasionally stir up your mushroom mixture whilst in the oven for a period of five minutes, to get them lightly cooked.

Now that your mushrooms are done, you can put them aside and then grate about one cup of mozzarella cheese. Again you can vary the amount of cheese depending on what you like, none of the measurements need to be dead on for a tasty product.

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mushrooms and crust

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Now your crust is baked according to the instructions and you are going to spread 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil as your sauce. Following that you spread your cheese, mushroom/garlic mix, and a teaspoon of thyme all over. The final touch is a drizzle of about 1 tablespoon of white truffle oil.

The final step, broil until the cheese is lightly browned!

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before

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after

I hope you give this very basic, but very tasty pizza a try. I know I’m no food blogger, but if you guys enjoy the recipe maybe I’ll make more. Check back next week!

The Best Advice I Can Give You

Wow, it is already 2018. This has probably been one of the fastest years ever, then again I’ve only experienced 15.

This past year held a lot of growth. The Rock was a great experience to grow my dancing and senior company has brought many new challenges for me not only as a dancer, but as a person as well.

I have faced the much-needed action of being back at the bottom of the food chain. After two years of being at the top of junior company going into senior company gave me some forgotten perspective. We all start at the bottom and must work towards the top. I am so happy to be back at the beginning, to take time to grow and get better. I know this sounds like crap, but really, enjoy your time at the bottom. Savor this time where you aren’t the focus and you are just a part of the corps, you still matter just in a different way. Make the most of your time, you get so much more out of a bad day if you keep trying rather than giving up.

It is my biggest piece of advice for the next year; keep trying even when it sucks. It is cheesy and it has been said a million times, but it helps immensely. This last year I learned the hard way to keep trying even when it sucks. A crappy class where I feel nothing is going right is not the time that I want to think positive, but I realized the more I told myself to make something out of those off-days the less they happened. Not even that the off-days wouldn’t occur, but they would go from useless to so much more. Don’t get me wrong, I know this sounds ludicrous, and it is really hard, but so worth it. It does suck when you’re not doing what you know you are capable of, but just telling yourself to try your best despite that, reaps benefits. Classes that feel they couldn’t go anymore downhill begin to teach you new things. You’ll discover new things and realize new ways of achieving your goal (whether it be to point your foot all the way or get quadruple turns) you would have never come across other ways.

Going into this new year, I hope you take this advice with you. It may sound cliché and silly, but it really does work wonders. Whether it be in your dancing or anything else, please keep trying.

P.S. Happy New Year everybody! I know for me this year has been all over the place, but hey, no year is absolutely perfect. I hope everyone got a lot of rest and relaxation as they head back into class this week. Here is to 2018!

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays everyone! This season has been absolutely crazy busy and flew by very quickly. I woke up this morning and it didn’t even feel like Christmas, the holidays popped up out of no where.

The holidays are very welcome after a long run of Nutcracker. Ten shows, two roles, two months of preparation, and eight show days made up the Nutcracker this year. The whole experience was at times stressful, but outside of that fulfilling and loads of fun. Seeing all the hard work and preparation was amazing.

This year Nutcracker was a whole new experience. Now in high school I had the opportunity of doing new roles, no longer was I doing the same two scenes I had for the past three years. In the last three years I was a mother ginger cookie and a party child. Those three years of the same roles(ish since you are different positions in the same scene) had been wonderful. The first year you are just getting to learn the role, the second you start to gain comfort, and by the third year that role is Nutcracker to you and you get to enjoy it.

Going into new roles this year was something I was very excited for, but it also changed the experience and made it something new. No longer was Nutcracker going to a party and chilling with your friends, now it was dancing for a guest, showing gratitude. Not only did I get to take on new roles, but as a senior company member you take class with company and you are there for every show no matter what. Being at the theater everyday and taking class with the professionals everyday gave Nutcracker a whole new dynamic, it wasn’t something you did on the side, now it was much more like a job. This new dynamic was wonderful.

If nothing else Nutcracker this year gave me a stronger view of the professional life and  made me crave it even more. I’m so glad that as time goes on, the exact same production doesn’t fail to grow and change with me. Now it is time to rest up because we’re back in studio in a week!

I hope you enjoyed this post, there wasn’t much of a meaning to it, but I loved writing about my relationship with the Nutcracker and sharing it with you. Have a happy, happy Holidays. Rest well and relax because even though we all love to perform, it is so dang exhausting. All see you back here in 2018!

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

It’s Christmas season my friends! With wish lists being made and gifts being purchased I thought I would share a few of my favorite things in case you are interested in getting them yourself.

1.

Legwarmers– I love these. I wear them all the freaking time. My favorite part is the elastic band that keeps them on your thigh, that was always my least favorite thing about full length leg warmers, they would always slip down. They are very comfy, have stirrups, and are extremely affordable. Check them out in the link!

2.

Trashbag Pants– Very generic, I know, but honestly it doesn’t matter where you get them. I have your basic Body Wrappers trash bag pants and I love them. They are very warm and simple. Not much more to be said other than they are comfortable and a classic.

3.

Ballet Bag – When I went to Oklahoma City Ballet I saw someone carrying around a kind of strange bag, but I loved it. It is one of the cotton net grocery bags. They are big enough to carry everything you’ll need without being too bulky. The best thing them about them is the holes everywhere allows for pointe shoes to dry out wonderfully. Since I’m always asked about my bag I found it on Amazon and am linking it here.

4.

Class In Leotard– This halter leotard is my favorite. I got it for my birthday and it is wonderful. The neckline is pretty low though, which isn’t show very well in the images. I really enjoy the cut of the legs and the fit is pretty good for me getting a small at 5’2″. I got the olive color and I like this leotard so much I’m considering getting another in black. Highly highly recommend!

5.

Abigail Mentzer Skirt– These skirts are very nice. They are a very nice cut, giving the legs a rather long look and the variety in color is great. I wear my green skirt nearly everyday in class and at rehearsal. They are a tad pricey, but make a great gift.

Every item on here is something I use constantly and really enjoy. Each product is durable and of good quality. I hope you try one of the items out and enjoy as much as I do!

Come back next Monday to hear about tech week and the beginning of Nutcracker performances!

How To Survive the Holiday Hustle

Nutcracker we all love (or hate) it, but it is exhausting. Especially as a student it is a lot to juggle rehearsal and exam preparations as the semester comes to a close. Here are a few tips I have for you to get through.

  1. SLEEP- This is probably the hardest thing for me to do, but it must be a priority. Find time to sneak in a power nap if you don’t get a good nights rest. With studying, germs, and a tired body sleep will be your best friend.
  2. Eat right- Fuel your body! When your already exhausted from dancing being hungry makes it a million times worse. Making meals the day before at least having a plan will make things a lot easier. Some good snacks to munch on are pistachios, banana, apples with natural peanut butter, or veggies with humus. Each of those things fill me up without making my stomach heavy. After a long day we always want a nice treat of course, my favorite is mock chocolate mousse. It’s made with avocado, banana, milk, cocoa, and maple syrup. Another goody is black bean pumpkin brownies. Check out the links below for recipes.

Mock Mousse

Black Bean Pumpkin Brownies

3. Roll out-We may not always have time to stretch everything out after a long day, but do yourself the favor of rolling out your muscles. It may not be as fulfilling, but if you are pressed for time it is good enough. It makes the world of a difference to your body the next day and it is a bit faster than a stretch.

4.Don’t push-Take it easy in class. Of course you should always give your best effort in class, but if there is any time you should be easy on your body it is now. The cold weather and germs are a recipe for disappointment if you aren’t kind to your body. Always give class your best, but maybe go a little bit easier on that cambré or that battement.

5.Write it Down-For students studying for their semester exams, write it down. The best study strategy for me is to write stuff down. Take notes and notes and more notes about what you need to know. The process of reading it and writing it down is extremely helpful to me. Another little trick is that while you study listen to music (that won’t distract you) and listen to the same music again right before your exam. It helps you remember what you had studied while listening to it before.

These are my tips to get you through the holiday madness, I hope they helped!

Long Overdue

Well it sure has been a long time. I am still going to write guys! I know I have been very, very absent lately, the new year has taking some adjusting. I have just started high school and now being in senior company at Dayton Ballet, I’m dancing typically five or six days a week depending on what we’re rehearsing. I’m here to give an update and say I will do my absolute best to deliver a normal schedule.

As previously mentioned I started high school, but it hasn’t had too much of an effect on my writing. School is relatively the same as is it was last year, challenging, but perfectly manageable. The main reason I haven’t written is because I’m adjusting to senior company. I dance 3.5 hours Tuesday through Thursday, at least 1.5 hours on Friday, and typically 1.5 hours on Saturday. That is a normal week, but lately Nutcracker rehearsal has made that a lot busier. Before Thanksgiving I had a fifteen hour weekend of rehearsal, but only had class this previous weekend. It has been a whole new adventure to take class with the company on a pretty regular basis. A transition of looking up to the company members to dancing alongside them is both very fulfilling and strange.

As a freshmen I went to a few rehearsals for snow and flowers, just to learn. It was really exhausting, but ultimately really fulfilling too. It was the first corps work I had done in a professional environment and it was really exciting. With Nutcracker coming up you can expect a post on how to survive the holidays, you will also be seeing a Yumiko review in the future, and I’ll start talking about summer intensives again as well. I’m really looking forward to getting back in the swing of things, so keep your eyes open and I’ll see you again soon!

Tips for Summer Success

Here are my five tips for making the most out of your summer, especially if you aren’t doing a summer intensive.

1. Stretch like nobody is watching- Even if you are already flexible, stretch. The summer is the best time to work on weak points and stretch multiple times a day, so take advantage of it.

2. Put on your yoga pants- Yoga is a great thing to do to keep yourself in shape over the summer. It will work your flexibility in new ways and will help you strengthen. It is also a good warm up for your stretch session.

3. Take your medicine- Do the things you hate, but are necessary. This summer I’m working on my adagio and how to reach my full extension. Summer is the perfect time to make yourself do things you don’t care for, but need to work on.

4. Do some abs and back ups- There is no need to be working out intensely everyday to stay in shape over the summer. The things I would make sure you aren’t skipping out on is abs and back. This is your core and center, what sustains you in ballet, so be sure to keep them in check with back-ups and crunches. It will make coming back in the fall easier.

5. Give a mini barre- Give yourself some barre everyonce in awhile. You should do this just to be sure you can still access your turnout, work through your feet, etc. It doesn’t have to be hard or complicated.

6. Take some classes- Try your hardest to find at least a couple classes to take. They don’t need to be high quality or a regular thing, but take something to keep yourself in check. Look at other smaller studios for these classes.

I know this was short, but I hope this post helped you out. Check back next Monday!

Rock Summer Intensive Part III

Here is my final post on the Rock, hope you enjoy!

My last post said how I had high hopes for the rest of week two and they were fulfilled. I loved it. Tuesday was a shorter day, seeing as it was the Fourth of July. Class was good and I had a great time at a firework outing with my friends. Everything about the outing in the evening was fun, from an intense game of Money in the Middle to pretty fireworks, even the bus driver was a blast. It was so nice to have a good day not only in ballet, but also outside of it.

Wednesday was a good fulfilling day with class from my favorite teacher to start me off, and then class from the ballet master, Justin Allen. Justin’s classes grew on me a lot, the first one I had, I didn’t care for, but I really enjoy them now. He doesn’t waste time and always keeps class moving, so you get all you can out of it, which I really appreciate.

On Thursday, I woke up not feeling too hot, I didn’t have a fever or anything drastic, but it was rough. Despite the headache and sleepiness, this day was great. I had a very basic morning class, by my luck, so I didn’t have to throw my achy body into anything. The afternoon brought class from Chase O’Connell, a Ballet West principal. He was very kind and I liked his teaching, after technique he also taught partnering. Partnering was really good, my partner was very kind and pushed me a little. I really appreciated this, it helped me to do better in class and grow my confidence. So shout out to my really awesome partner.

By Friday, I was feeling better, much to my relief. I started the day with Jody, the teacher that had run my audition and I was really happy to have her. Her class was definitely the most comfortable one, in terms of teacher-student relationship. Everyone was a little more relaxed. It was nice to have the final day be one with jokes and laughter. After Jody’s class, was Beckanne Sisk’s class, another principal from Ballet West. She was so kind. She took pictures with nearly everyone after class and answered people’s questions of advice patiently and carefully. Not only was she a good person, but she was also a good teacher. Beckanne not only really helped me with my turns on pointe, but also gave me great tips for my technique as a whole.

I can safely say will and already do miss the Rock. The atmosphere there was great, I was inspired by others to work my hardest and do my best. I loved the training and it was such an amazing opportunity to be exposed to Balanchine. This school had definitely made me crave more and has truly inspired me to go out and work to be better. I hope my little bit of documentation of my experience was enjoyable to read and check back next Monday for a new post!

Rock School Summer Intensive Part II

So week one is complete and week two has begun. Here is what I have to share.

Week one had a rough end, I’m not going to lie. Wednesday was filled with good teachers and I had partnering, which I always enjoy. It’s just a nice variation from everyday dancing. Thursday was when I started to feel not great because I didn’t feel I had worked very hard in class. Friday and Saturday were good classes, but the days themselves were pretty bad. I won’t go into detail, but those days showed me things can go wrong despite your best effort and you just have to brush off and get back up.

I will say I have high hopes for week two after seeing how today went. The morning started with a refreshing class after a lazy weekend. The afternoon followed with class from Bo, the school’s artistic director. Not only was his class a nice pace, but the combinations were different and challenging. Another huge pick me up was definitely Bo complimenting my weak point, my turns. After those technique classes I had a pointe class that went back to the basics. I didn’t love the class itself, but glad I had it because it forced me to work out kinks. Like medicine, it doesn’t taste good, but it’s good for ya.

I’m looking forward to the last four days that come with this intensive. I know this post is brief, but I’ll be back Friday with one last post on the Rock.

Rock School Summer Intensive

So, of course I messed up and didn’t write yesterday. Anyways time to tell you about the Rock!

Well, it has been a good start. I’ve actually been at the dorms since Friday, since I came with a chaperone. On Sunday everyone else arrived. I helped people move in and greeted. If I’m perfectly honest, I actually really liked being here early because I acquainted myself with all the chaperones and could settle in a little sooner.

I actually waited all day for my roommate to come in, then registration came to a stop and I went asked administration what was up. Turned out my roommate was coming anymore. Lucky for me the suite next door had only one girl, so she became my roommate.  Overall the dorms are quite nice, they’re pretty clean and comfy. The non teaching staff has been incredibly nice, so the non dance aspects have been very enjoyable.

Monday started and I got to wake up at a fairly decent time of 7:30. Walked to breakfast with roommates and friends, then had a wealth of time to get ready. At 9:45, the bus left for the school. After a 45 minute ride, we had arrived and had a brief, uneventful meeting with artistic directors Bo and Stephanie. Then at last at 12:00 I headed to my first class. It was with Sun-Mi and was the perfect class to jump back into ballet. By the end my butt had been slightly kicked, I was sweaty, and it felt great. Following that was lunch. The afternoon brought class from a former PNB dancer.

I came home exhausted because even though it is only three classes, you are worked hard. I won’t get into a whole lot more detail because you probably won’t want to read it all, but I will explain what the Rock program is like.

If you want something that works on all types of dance, don’t come here. That isn’t what they focus on, it is almost exclusively ballet. Since we do only ballet (for the most part), you have just three to four classes. It is definitely a good idea to come here if you really want to focus on ballet. Another thing is that, depending on where you’re placed for board, chances are you’ll have a 45 minute bus ride to ballet and then another one back. This really isn’t bad to me, I take naps on it, but I feel people should know about this because it may bother them.

To close it up, it has been a good first two days, with fun teachers, nice dorms, tasty food, and lots of hard work. I will do my absolute best to write again on Monday with another Rock update, so see you then!