Bloch Pointe Shoes

Starting a new series on shoes this week. The first shoes I’m going to talk about are Bloch shoes.

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All of my Bloch shoes.

Bloch shoes were my first shoes. I wore Bloch European Balance, like many starting dancers. They were a great starter shoe. Not that these shoes aren’t good for wearing as a more experienced dancer, but they are better as a harder shoe. The reason they are better starter shoes is because they are very hard, which I personally think is a good characteristic for dancers new to pointe.

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First pair’s box.

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First pair of shoes.

One thing I really appreciated about these shoes is that they helped my feet not twist. My feet tend to twist in shoes and there are few shoes that fit right and can stop it. Of course as my feet grew stronger and more accustom to pointe the shoes weren’t able to prevent twisting as well.

I always felt very supported on these shoes and enjoyed wearing them. My first ever on stage pointe performance was in European Balance and I’ll always have special place for these shoes.

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My one and only non European Balance shoes that are still Bloch.

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The box, that doesn’t even go with the shoes.

I did wear one pair of Bloch shoes that weren’t European Balance. These shoes were ones that my studio was selling along with other custom shoes company members that were no longer dancing had order. They fit just fine, but I have no idea what they are because they are custom and the box doesn’t go with them.

Well, younger, not as experienced Ella had decided she really needed to break in these shoes. I over broke them in, so much so that the nail in the shank actually came out. Now this isn’t much of a problem for older dancers, but for twelve-year-old me it was.

I hadn’t even had one class in them and they were useless to me. When I did take class in them, it was no easy task. I soon got rid of those shoes and that has to be my most embarrassing mistake with pointe shoes, so to any newcomers pointe, be careful when you break in shoes!

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I hope you enjoyed reading about Bloch shoes and my embarrassing mistake. Come back this Friday for a post on flat shoes and don’t forget to follow, like, and comment!

Flexibility

Talking about a topic that I relate to a little too well, lack of flexibility.

We all at some point in our dancing careers lacked flexibility (unless you were lucky enough to be born with it) and I think we can all agree it sucks. While flexibility is such a vital part of dancing, I think it isn’t being seen something it isn’t. It has become another way for dancers to compare themselves with one another and to self depreciate. Through social media revealing only the most flexible people on the popular accounts, the common dancer feels lesser.

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My right side splits.

I personally have struggled with flexibility my whole life. It has definitely made me feel bad about myself as a dancer that despite how much I work to be flexible I could only get my rights side splits in the last year. I constantly stretch, but my body just isn’t built that way. It was and still is hard for me to see more flexible people praised and put first because their bodies were capable of what mine was not.

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My left side (almost) splits.

I’m not saying flexibility shouldn’t be such a big part of ballet, but I do think it should be looked at differently. Everyone should continue to work towards those oversplits because it does matter in the dance world. You should always be stretching to get those better lines, but you shouldn’t feel bad that your body isn’t as flexible as someone else’s.

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Middle splits

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Middle splits

To put it short, I just want dancers out there to know that you are not a lesser dancer for being less flexible.Don’t beat yourself up about flexibility like I did, but work hard instead to achieve it. Lacking flexibility doesn’t take away from you dancing, it’s just that having it can add to you dancing.

I hope you enjoyed this post, feel a little more comfortable in your skin, and keep working to gain flexibility! Stay tuned for a new series of posts on ballet shoes starting Monday and remember to follow below.

 

Oklahoma City Ballet Intensive

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My last day at OKCB with some friends.

The summer of 2016 I attended Oklahoma City Ballet’s summer intensive. It was a very good experience with its flaws. I went for two main reasons. To spend time with my grandparents in Oklahoma and to save money on an intensive. This intensive was the best option for me because I could stay with my grandparents and not have to pay for housing. I sent in an audition tape for OKCB and heard back very soon. I believe I heard back after about a week. One thing I really appreciated about OKCB is that they would always answer emails I had with questions before the intensive in a timely manner.

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My schedule for week three.

A day at OKCB was fairly busy, starting with either yoga or Pilates at nine, which was followed by technique. After class you would have pointe then a pretty long lunch break. The afternoon would then be followed by two either none ballet classes, partnering, choreography, or variations. I thoroughly enjoyed these afternoon classes because they introduced me to a lot of new aspects of dance. My first day at OKCB I took my first hip-hop class, which was just a great way to break the ice for a bunch of bunheads at their first day of a 3-6 week intensive. I also took my first partnering class at OKCB. That class was great. I had a really good partner and the staff went at such a good pace that pushed us newbies without overdoing it. I can honestly say that first partnering class gave me a whole new look and appreciation for ballet I had never had before.

Another thing that was “introduced” to me at OKCB was musical theater dancing. This was such a blast and a great way to have fun after a long day of ballet. To me it was basically jazz with more theatrics to it. The last new thing OKCB gave me a look at was choreographing. We got into groups where we had to work together to bring our visions together to form one piece. This class was so beneficial to me even as someone who may never be a choreographer because it made me think out of the box to explore what dance meant to me, more than you would by doing someone else’s choreography.

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Picture from piece I choreographed with peers (I’m in the middle, front).

Another thing I loved about OKCB was the teachers. It was primarily company members teaching us and I enjoyed that a lot. Each teacher gave us such different perspectives and nuggets of knowledge from their differing trainings. None of them had the exact same education as the next, so they each brought a new thing to the table for us to think about in class. It was nice to have so much to soak up from so many different people.

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Last day at OKCB.

The last thing I have to talk about is the environment of OKCB. This place felt very welcoming from the beginning. The moment I walked in and had placement class there was a girl five years older than me that talked to me and helped me relax in this brand new environment. That summarizes the atmosphere at OKCB pretty well. It definitely wasn’t big happy, perfect ballet family, but everyone was open. People were just willing to talk to one another and make things a little more comfortable. It was a subtle, but helpful warmth in the atmosphere. I will always be grateful for that girl who talked to me even though I was so young because while it didn’t seem like much it eased my first day nerves a lot.

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I hope you enjoyed this little bit about Oklahoma City Ballet summer intensive. There is also so much more to this program, but I can’t write it all, so if you have any questions feel free to ask in the comments. Moving on from the summer intensive theme, so check back Monday for the next post!

GRB and Small Summer Intensives

Continuing with my summer intensive theme this week. I am going to talk about two things. First, why you should consider a smaller intensive. Secondly, my experience at Grand Rapids Ballet summer intensive.

Small summer intensives are great. Going to a smaller company’s intensive is something you should really consider any summer. To give the first, obvious reason, cost. Smaller summer intensives are way more affordable, which if you are like me, makes all the difference. While the reason they are usually more affordable is a lack of housing if you find a smaller intensive by a relative you can stay with it really is a nice break on the ol’ piggy bank.

Secondly, the more individual attention. Going to a smaller intensive allows for much more personal attention with usually smaller classes you will find yourself getting more attention than you would it at a big name intensive. You know by the end of the intensive your name tag has no purpose.

My last reason to consider a smaller intensive is that they are less strenuous. Now I understand that is one of the benefits of summer intensives is that they are, intense, but just think about it. Some summers are busier than others and going to a five-week long, 9 to 5 intensive one summer may be easy one year, but overwhelming the next. With summer being the only “off-season” of ballet don’t feel like you need to cram it with a lengthy intensive, but instead give your body a break. It isn’t bad to want to do a small intensive over a big one when there is school summer work, rare family vacations, or summer jobs.That is my take on smaller summer intensives, while they don’t provide some things big intensives provide like housing, they are great for when you need a break year.

Two summers ago I went to Grand Rapids Ballet summer intensive in Michigan. It was a great first summer intensive. I got a lot of individual attention I can be sure I wouldn’t find at other places. They also brought in teachers that gave you a lot of new and varying perspectives on dance. I had Sabi Varga, a dancer that started out in Hungary to Nicole Ciapponi with a more traditional training experience teaching me while at GRB.

My most cherished memory from going to GRB was being introduced to contemporary. I looked forward to contemporary so much, it was different from the typical modern and I loved it. Thom Dancy was my teacher and he showed me a whole new side to dance to love and appreciate. It is always the things you don’t expect at these small summer intensives that make them so great.

It was a really great experience and I have no regrets about attending a smaller intensive. Smaller intensives may not be your taste, but if you’re looking for something different and more doable you should consider them. I hope you enjoyed this post and check back Friday for my last summer intensive post, discussing my experience at Oklahoma City Ballet.

Video Auditions

Continuing my summer intensive theme, I’m going to talk about video auditions. If you are like me and can not attend an in person audition for some programs being able to a video audition is a blessing. While these types of auditions are very nice they can also be a nuisance, so here is my limited experience with video auditions.

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First, I’ll talk about making one. Making a tape is a little challenging at times. To start you need to get a teacher to give you combinations according to the program your auditioning for’s guidelines. You will also need to find a time you can come into the studio just you. I strongly advise not doing it in class. Next, you need to find a way to film. I used your run of the mill family camera (shown below) on a tripod and it worked just fine with my mom manning it. If you want to hire someone professional that is fine, but not essential. Lastly, you film your tape. I highly suggest doing simple combinations that follow the guidelines given by the program you are auditioning for. I say simple because you would much rather have clean simple combinations than complicated messy ones. Be sure to treat this tape as an actual audition and all should go well.

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I have not sent a large amount of audition tapes, but the ones I have sent have all been successful. In addition to my own tapes doing well everyone I know that has done one has had a good result from one. Overall, if you can’t make it to an in person audition this is a great alternative. It may not leave quite the same impression that you could in person, but if you really can’t make it to an in person audition, consider it.

Hope you enjoyed, and don’t forget to follow my blog by clicking the button on the right!

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Jule Dancewear Review

THIS POST IS NOT SPONSORED

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This is a post discussing my favorite dancewear brand, Jule Dancewear. It is a dance brand that is run by professional dancers for dancers. This brand is great for several reasons, so I’m here to tell you about them.
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To start, the leotards themselves. This leotard is my favorite. Its cut gives you a longer line in the legs without showing your butt off like a lot of other leotards. Not only do the leotards look flattering, but they are comfortable. The material feels good on the skin after hours at class. Going beyond the comfort and nice lines they give, the dot mesh looks really neat. It is a unique look without being too over the top for a ballet class.

Processed with VSCO with b1 presetProcessed with VSCO with b1 presetOutside of having good quality leotards, the treatment of customers is great. To start when you get your order you get a hand written card. This may be small, but to me this says a lot. It is the little things that show people care and whenever a brand sends a note like this, I can’t help thing better of them. In addition to them sending these cards they also are very pleasant with returns. Never had I had such a pleasant experience with a complicated return.

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The one downfall of this brand, the cost. It is a little pricey and I did only get my order because I had a discount, but I highly recommend you keep your eye out for a discount, so you can by your own Jule Dancewear.

Check them out at: https://www.juledancewear.com/