bye spring break

Just like that the final break of the year has come and gone. It is time to buckle down and get to business because some big things are coming up one after the other. Yesterday was my last day of freedom before I go into the craziness of just school and ballet for the next eight or so weeks. This is definitely the hardest part of the year with everything coming to a close and being a bit overwhelming. This week I’m going to talk about my final day of break, what is to come, and how I survive the spring madness.

This last week was spring break and sadly this Monday I had to come back to reality. I didn’t do anything spectacular or crazy for my spring break, it was really just doing school work and chilling at home. Even though it was very tame, knowing I have to get through the last nine weeks of school and seven weeks of ballet without a break makes me nervous. Since yesterday was going to be my last free day for awhile I made sure to spend it well.

My mom and I drove to Columbus for the day. First we went and got brunch at Pistacia Vera then we went to the Franklin Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. Pistacia Vera is an incredibly good bakery with some really good brunch foods too. Franklin Conservatory is my mom and I’s favorite spot, with awesome gardens and beautiful architecture (great place for dance pictures if you aren’t shy). At the gardens we got to see butterflies and look at the constantly changing plant setups. That was pretty much my day, but it was great way to just zone out one last time.

I know I may sound a bit over the top or dramatic talking about how crazy these next weeks are, but they really are. This is the most performance dense time out of the entire year as well as this is when I hit my wall with school. By this time each year I am beyond ready to throw away the textbooks and sleep in, but instead it is time to prep for exams and stay up late to write papers.

Right now at ballet we are rehearsing three things; Sleeping Beauty, Recess, and the end of year show. Sleeping Beauty is with the company and has been the primary focus the past few weekends. Rehearsal is usually all day Saturday and while not super strenuous it is long hours. Sleeping Beauty has probably been one of my favorite things we’ve done this year because it is a new interpretation with all new costumes, set, and choreography.

Recess is a piece Senior Company is doing at Wright State’s dance concert. Dayton Ballet and Wright State collaborate in a few ways with Senior Company performing at their show as one of them. Like Sleeping Beauty this isn’t the most exhausting or tasking piece, but it takes a lot of hours to bring the show all together. Lastly is then end of year show. Dayton Ballet School’s annual show is in crunch time. I’m learning about four pieces in addition to all of Les Sylphides and it is crazy. Each year it is rewarding to perform, but the stress that comes with learning and finishing everything is annual as well. I’m sure since you’re reading this you also have crazy times like this. Here are a few tips to get through it:

  1. Grab a Planner: I’m not one to bullet journal or schedule everything, but I find that right now one of the things that keeps me sane is writing it all out. In order to keep track of rehearsals, due dates, and more I need to sit with a calendar and right it out. I definitely don’t maintain this habit year round, but when things get wild, it comes in handy.
  2. Work Now, Play Later: In order to stay focused right now and get things done I try to think of what will be a “reward” to enjoy once things are over. I have a mindset of what will be something exciting later as motivation to work really hard right now, so I can do my best. (An example being once I’ve studied hard and finished the school year then I can laze around and maybe buy a treat like a new leotard)
  3. Enjoy the Craze: As I enter what will be my most hectic months of the year I keep reminding myself to enjoy it. I may be pumped for summer to come already, but I will immediately miss the structure and thrill of performing the moment it is over. So anytime you feel like you want to just be done with whatever school assignment or choreography you’re working on, remember this is probably the one and only time you’ll get to do it.

I hope you enjoyed this slightly all over the place and slightly longer post. As you know by now a lot will be going on these next few weeks and I can’t wait to share how they go along the way!

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!

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!

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!

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!