A Rough Audition

Part of the reason I started this blog was to share my experiences as a dancer, but recently I’ve just been writing advice posts and not much of my story. Today I’m going to talk about an audition I had Friday and how my dance life has been going in general. This post is just a little story time on what has been going on dance wise for me.

Ballet has been crazy busy for me recently, with end of season show coming up there has been endless rehearsing. This is all coming after a different performance, “Peter and the Wolf”. “Peter and the Wolf” was an exhausting, but ultimately fulfilling experience. I was cast at the bird and was in two of four performances. We had relatively little preparation and it was definitely a stressful. Once it was over we had to dive right into end of season preparation, but that isn’t what I’m talking about today.

This past Friday, Cinco de Mayo, I had an audition for a second company position. It isn’t as serious as other second companies, that are more of jobs, this second company is similar, but not as intense. Anyways this audition went pretty well, there weren’t any major mess ups. The problem was, it wasn’t my best. I knew I could have done better, but I wasn’t dancing to my fullest potential. My turns were faulty, my adagio weak, and overall I felt frustrated.

This had been happening for a while in class since I got a minor back injury. I can’t sit out to let it heal, but I have had to hold back in class in order to stay healthy enough to dance. Due to this I felt I had declined from earlier this year and it felt discouraging. The audition ended and it wasn’t terrible, but it could have been better. I knew I had done well enough, but to know I could have done better was better. Despite this crappy feeling, the next day I got up went to class and rehearsal.

Moral of the story, push through. I’ve been struggling recently with little things in ballet, but have forced myself to continue on and I hope you do too. Some classes are better than others and we just have to hope the next one is the best yet. If you find yourself feeling this way, keep going.

Check back soon, for my opinion on new jazz shoes and hopefully some more stories like this one!

Bigger Isn’t Always Better

Today I’m talking about the benefits of a smaller company. I feel there is always pressure to be at some big company or some big school, but this isn’t always true. Every dancer needs something different and smaller companies might be it and here is why.

More performing opportunities as a student has been a nice benefit from being at a smaller school. With a smaller company, they will pull more from the school for performing opportunities. It’s for this reason that I have been in productions other than Nutcracker and Spring Showcases (aka recitals).

Another benefit to training at a smaller school or company is more personalized attention. This is sometimes found in bigger schools, but not that much. It’s common sense, smaller class, more attention for each student. For some dancers that little bit of extra attention can make all the difference in their training.

The last reason to consider a smaller school is if you want a more laid back ballet schedule. If you don’t want a ballet or dance career, you’ll most likely prefer the easier small school schedule that is common.

Overall every dancer has different needs, if you want to be a big fish in a little pond a smaller school is probably better. Some may want a reputation with bigger companies and in that case you should consider a bigger school. My point is don’t throw one method or the other aside based off what you hear from others.

Sorry for such a short post, please check back next week for a review!

Annoying Ballet Stereotypes

We all face annoying stereotypes from none dancers. Here are a few for none dancers reading this to avoid and for dancers out there to know I feel your pain.

1.We don’t eat- Just like athletes, we need fuel to dance, so stop being surprised when we eat a real meal. In addition if we say we aren’t hungry, we aren’t hungry, we’re definitely not starving ourselves contrary to belief.

2. We don’t care or know about sports- Just because I don’t play a sport, doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy watching them. Not only do I like watching them, I know what’s going on, too.

3. We all listen to classical music- This one is just weird. Sure we like it because we listen to it in class, but that doesn’t mean I go home and listen to it.

4. We are mean- Movies about the arts or dance world always paint dancers as snobby, stuck up, mean girls, but I swear we’re nice.

5. We are frail- Another one that is complete bogus. If you’re dancing nine hours a day as a professional, you have to be strong. You need core strength, hip strength, ankle strength, and endurance, if you have those things I’d say you aren’t frail.

6. We are very girly- There’s nothing wrong with being girly, but don’t assume I am because I do ballet. Just because I’m a ballerina, it doesn’t mean I love wearing makeup, shopping, and being the pretty princess with a crown and tutu.

7. It’s just a hobby- This is more a stereotype of ballet rather than ballerinas, but it is still annoying. Even if you don’t do it professionally, this isn’t a hobby, it’s a passion.

8. It’s easy- The worst stereotype of them all, ballet is easy. It isn’t, it just isn’t, you can take my word on this one.

 

Seniority or Merit?

Piggy backing off of my last post with casting, I’m going into the debate of seniority or talent. It is a well-known issue on whether the oldest people with the most experience get the coveted role/position or do the most talented. This occurs not only in ballet, but everything such as school sports or who to hire for a job. I’ll give my stance on each side and hopefully you’ll comment your thoughts below.

Let’s start with why seniority should get the best part. Seniority has (to go with the classic argument) been there the longest. The people of seniority have waited their turn and now they deserve their chance. It isn’t fair to let someone younger get the better role if they’re brand new after you have been waiting years to get the better role. Another reason to choose seniority is that eliminates the chances for favoritism. You wouldn’t want the same talented person getting the good roles year after year.

Now let’s think about why the more talented person should get the role. The first reason to choose the more talented person is that it motivates. If you have to be the best for the reward, you will work harder to get there because you have incentive. Another reason why the talented should get a better part is that it may give the best product in the end. With the best person performing the role it will result in the best performance.

Overall, I prefer rewarding merit with better roles over rewarding seniority because it pushes people to work a little harder. I think both sides have their benefits and downfalls. Sorry the post is so short, but be sure to check back next week and let me know what you think down below, seniority or merit?

Reality of Casting

Today, I’m discussing the realities of casting. While it would be nice to think casting goes to who truly deserves it, that isn’t always the case. There are so many factors that play into casting that it can sometimes be a struggle when it goes an unwanted way. Some factors that play into casting beyond talent are schedules, seniority, and sizing.

The first way casting can go, is that you aren’t cast at all. This can be very upsetting, but you just have to keep a positive outlook. As said before there is a lot that can go into casting, beyond who is technically best for a role. All you can really do after not being cast is get back up and better yourself, so you’ll get the next part.

Another way casting can go is being cast, but it in a role you don’t care for. I think everyone experiences this at least once in their dance career and it can be very hard to handle. The first thing I have to say about being in this scenario is it is out of your hands. Ultimately we have no input in casting and it is what the caster sees fit and best for whatever the casting is for. As dancers we are under the director’s (or whatever other position’s) control and we need to respect their decision even if it upsets us. The other thing I have to say about getting a role you don’t like, is be grateful you got one. Even if it isn’t your ideal role, you should be happy you have one at all.

The final way casting can go, is getting the role you want. Even when you get the role you wanted, there are things to remember. The number one thing to remember is to be humble, especially if it is a major role. You should be happy you received that casting, but not so over the top about it that you put down peers. The other thing to remember is that now that you have the casting you worked for, you must continue to work to keep it. Just because you received a role, doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to perform it if you slack off upon receiving it.

Overall casting can be either very upsetting or very exciting and no matter which way it goes you need to do three things. First, keep a positive out look on the scenario no matter how cheesy that may sound. Second, always keep working, whether it’s to keep what you have or to advance to better casting. Lastly, remember it is out of our hand. Casting can go anyway depending on many things, so keep that in mind.

I hope this article helps dealing with casting struggles and be sure to check back for another post on Monday!

Branch Out of Ballet

Today’s post discusses the importance of trying styles of dance outside of ballet, even if you think you don’t like them.

My first reason for why you should expand your dance education to different styles is because it will help you bring personality to your ballet. You can have the best technique in the world, but if you can’t bring artistry and personality to your dancing you won’t get far. It isn’t always easy to add this artistry, but I find taking classes such as jazz that are a little more free help bring this quality out.

The second reason I advice broadening your horizons is that it can give you a new view and approach to the same old move. If you struggle with turns in ballet, but come at them with a different approach in contemporary or jazz this can carry over into your ballet training.

The next reason to try new dance styles is that it can give you a break. They allow you to take a new and challenging way of dance, while giving you a break from the strict barriers of ballet. Other styles allow for a little more relaxation, especially if they aren’t your main focus like ballet.

The final reason to start other varieties of dance is that they will help you professionally. You will not be able to make it in the real world of ballet with only ballet training. This becomes clear with new modern choreography popping up everywhere and with no ballet company being strictly ballet. To give yourself the best edge, you want to be as versatile as possible and what better way to do that then have training in other styles.

Overall I highly advice trying a style of dance other than ballet. It will help your ballet dancing and your career opportunities. Not to mention, it is a great way to have fun and let loose. I have always enjoyed classes in jazz and contemporary and wouldn’t mind trying out hip hop and ballroom as well. So, go and try a new style and be better for it!

The Balancing Act

Today is all about balance, not only in ballet, but with school and ballet. To me there is a triangle of ballet, school, and sleep. All of those things are really important, but it’s really hard to have them all. While I don’t always balance these things, I do have some tips on how to get there.

  1. Manage Your Time

This is harder than it sounds, but try to plan out way ahead of something. Being a dancer takes time, so figuring out when you will get school stuff done is essential. It will be hard to do this in the start, but once you get into the habit of planning out your school life with your ballet life, it will get easier.

2. Learn to Say No

I myself struggle with this, but it is necessary with tight schedules. Whether it is deciding to take an easier class or saying you can’t do that optional piece, know your limits. Yes, you want to challenge and push yourself in school and dance, but if it’s too much then it’s counterproductive.

3. Ask for Help

If you need help, don’t be afraid to ask. Go to your teachers and ask for help with those harder questions and material. You have nothing to lose and it can only make your life easier if you understand things better.

4. Routine

Getting into a routine will make it easier to get things done. If you have a routine it helps you know what you need to do next and makes it harder for you to get distracted and procrastinate.

5. Sacrifice for Sleep

Final tip, forget the rest and get some sleep. Above all else you need to feel rested and healthy, so once in a while (not everyday) just tell yourself this one homework assignment doesn’t matter or I can skip strengthening for one night.

None of these tips are easy to do right away and it takes time to get used to it, but once you have them down it makes merging ballet and school just a little bit easier. I know I definitely struggle to say no and I struggle to just set everything else down and go to bed, but once you do it, you won’t regret it!

The Little Things: Part Two

Part two of why we should take pleasure in the little things. To me, taking an interest and appreciation for the little things in life is what keeps us sane as dancers. We are constantly working hard and the next day we work harder. We have an endless need for improvement and that can take a lot out of us.

In order to not lose it, I believe we need to find appreciation for the little things. Now this doesn’t mean we need to take a hobby because heck, we don’t even have much time for hobbies as dancers. I’m just saying find those small things that are in everyday life that bring you happiness.

The first thing I would look for some sunshine in is the seasons. Like every other person, I love the warm days of summer, but nothing gets me more excited than the fall and winter seasons. I can’t wait to pick pumpkins, carve them, pull on a sweater, and drink some tea. I can’t wait for snowflakes to fall in my hair and listen to the snow crunch beneath my boots. It may not be much, but the weather and seasonal norms of winter and fall just make me happy.

Another thing to take joy in are the pretty things around us. Flowers are great, they aren’t rare or expensive (the latter is debatable), but they are nice to look at. It’s always nice to have a bouquet on my desk (even if they’re dead).

Plane views are just another thing I really like. You get to see your world from a whole new perspective and it is awesome. Obviously plane views and flowers might not be your thing, but just try to find something you wouldn’t mind staring at all day.

The next thing I encourage you to delve into is music. Music can make my food better in the blink of an eye. I listen to it getting ready to school, walking to school, studying, cooking, doing chores, and every other time of the day. Try and find something not on the radio that is a little different and special to you. It makes just a little bit cooler when you meet someone else that likes it.

Lastly find something you love to eat or drink. It may seem silly, but I’m serious. For me, it is coffee, I realize some people may think I’m too young to enjoy coffee, but I assure you I’ve done my research and it’s perfectly fine. Having that one little thing you enjoy to eat and can make your day is kind of great. If all it takes to make you happy is a certain donut or vegetable with dinner then great! To be able to be content for the day because you got that pear from the farmer’s market is a-okay.

All I want you to get out of the post, is to take care of yourself and find something that pleases each sense. We don’t get a lot of free time, but if we have a new artist to listen to, something to munch on, something to stare at endlessly, something to feel good on our skin, and a scent dancing into our noses we’ll be just dandy. See you this Friday and don’t forget to share with friends!

You Are What You Eat?

There is a quote that goes “First we eat then we do everything else.” by M.F.K Fisher. I feel that this quote is true and that sometimes ballet dancers and everyone else should be reminded of it.

To me this quote says that we are fueled by our food and must eat to fill the tank before we start the day. This is a good way to see our relationship with food if you ask me. Food is what fuels us and gets us ready for the day and keeps us running through it. Of course there are other things food can serve as, but that is a different conversation.

I feel like society and young dancers especially think they need to eat for the body they want instead of eating to fuel the body they have. This notion of eating a certain way for a certain body type is definitely an impression given to dancers by society.

I remember I was at a party and wasn’t eating much because I wasn’t hungry, but someone there made a comment along the lines of “Trying to keep your ballet figure?”. I’ve also come across an Instagram account where the girl shares what little she eats and the captions consist of how she is thinks is overweight at 110 lbs. She believes she must be skinnier for ballet. It’s upsetting to see this girl keep from eating and have people make comments like the one from above.

My point in sharing this is just to give a friendly reminder that we shouldn’t eat a certain way in hope to obtain a different figure. Instead, we should eat to take care of our body and give it the fuel for those long days at the studio.

Beyond eating enough, we need to eat the right things. Obviously you shouldn’t just eat brownies and tacos, but you also don’t have to avoid them entirely. We can eat those things and others while being healthy as long as we eat the proper portions.

Overall my advice is to most importantly, eat enough and secondly eat what you want in moderation. Food is your fuel not your fattener and sometimes we forget it in the slim world of ballet. We are hard-working athletes that need energy, so let’s eat up!

I hope you found this post helpful and check back next week for another post!

 

The Little Things: Part One

On this cold St. Patty’s day I’m writing about the little things, part one of two. Ballet is something that we devote a lot of our time to and sometimes we need a break. Sometimes to take a break, we take pleasure in the little things. The little things I do to relax that are ballet related include reading Pointe magazine and going to see Bolshoi Ballet in cinema.

Pointe Magazines

Pointe magazine is one of those great sources of information for dancers that also entertains. After a long day, it is so nice to just sit down, grab some tea, and read Pointe. Whether your reading about a new up and coming choreographer or tips for auditions, Pointe always manages to keep you interested. It is an easy way to stay in touch with the dance world while relaxing.

Pointe has such a wide variety of content, too. Some of the most helpful stretches and exercises I know, I’ve found in Pointe. In addition to that, Pointe gives advice for your dancing, tells about events in ballet, and doesn’t just focus on the big companies. Pointe looks at ballet dancers and companies everywhere, not just the major ones. To see more about Pointe check out the link at the bottom of the page.

Ticket

Ticket for the next Bolshoi performance

Another great thing to check out is the Bolshoi Ballet performances that they show in theaters. Knowing that I’ll probably never see one of their shows in person, this is such a great opportunity. The show is projected in great quality and gives you the view of a front row seat. I’ve been able to see two shows so far this year and I’ve enjoyed both a lot.

I first saw The Golden Age. The dancers were wonderful at portraying their character. You truly felt a dislike for the antagonist and a sympathy for Lyuska. Aside from the acting, the dancing was incredible. The dancers brought the technique and artistry together with ease. The second one I saw was the classic, The Sleeping Beauty. It held all the wonders The Golden Age did, but with its own excitement. Look below for Bolshoi’s link.

I hope you enjoyed the post and get to go relax with a “little thing”. None of this post is sponsored, just things I enjoy, that you might too. Check back Monday for a post on how what we eat intertwines with ballet.

http://pointemagazine.com/

http://bolshoiballetincinema.com/