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Get Your Stretch On

I am actively working on getting myself back in shape, and I am finally ready to make stretching a priority again. I'm also trying to find resources for my son so he can work on his flexibility this summer before attending his first pre-professional summer intensive at Ballet Austin.

I have been scouring youtube looking at different stretching videos, just because it's always fun to have a new routine or to find some advice that is either new or a good reminder. Here are my top picks at the moment!

I love this little dancer. She has the sweetest voice to guide you through this stretching routine, and she is VERY flexible. Occasionally she makes note of how those of us doing the video probably won't be able to go as far as she can, which is a huge understatement! I really like her sequence, and how she starts with basic neck and upper body stretches. You don't go into the splits until last, and I really like her tip for keeping square in your splits!

I recently discovered Stacey Nemour - a flexibility expert. She has DVDs out, and even a new online course you could splurge for if you had the money for it. The videos that are already up of her on youtube give you some good things you can incorporate into your stretching routine.

I like this video because I love combining the stretching with the weights so you are gaining flexibility and strength at the same time - so important!

I really like this video for hip flexibility, especially her point about not trying to push down on your knees in the butterfly!!

Excellent point about flexing in your stretches, that can be incorporated into almost any stretch you do!

And lastly, here's a 10 Day Flexibility Challenge playlist. I love things that encourage us to commit for an extended length of time, especially with something like stretching that requires daily work to make improvement.

If you're looking to vamp up your stretching this summer, I hope some of these resources help you! Post your favorite stretching resources below!

New York City Meet Up!

I am heading to New York this week! So excited for some time off to spend almost every moment doing ballet things :)

And what kind of ballet vacation would it be if I didn't try to meet some of my fellow adult ballerinas?! I would love to meet any of you in the area while I am in town! Here are the deets!!

The Jeff Koons piece Seated Ballerina is currently at Rockefeller Center. Since I am lucky enough to be in New York when one of these temporary cool things happen, let's meet there to see it!

Ballerinas By Night Meet Up in NYC

Thursday May 25th @ 6:30pm
Rockefeller Plaza - on 50th St. side
**Follow the @ballerinasbynight Instagram account for specific location updates via Insta Story**

Image via designboom

According to the Rockefeller website, if there is inclement weather, the piece will have to be deflated, so also make sure to follow Instagram in case it rains (looks like it's going to) and we need to make other arrangements. Let's all cross our fingers for no rain!

- Jana

How To Make A Ballet Barre!

This is Abby's original "recipe" for making a ballet barre like the ones you have seen in our videos! Follow along below and/or watch the video at the end!

First thing to do, get supplies! We use galvanized piping found at home improvement stores like Lowe's and Home Depot (we've had the best luck at Lowe's). You'll find the piping in the plumbing section and it is offered in a variety of widths and lengths. This is where you can determine what width and length is best for you and your space.

For this barre, I'm using 3/4 inch width pieces, but 1 inch pieces are a good width as well. I'm making this one shorter than the barre you've seen in videos so I can move around my space easily when I am working by myself. You'll need to grab the following in all the same width:

  • Two 36" galvanized pipes
  • One 36" or longer galvanized pipe
  • Four 8" galvanized pipes (4" also works)
  • Two 3/4 inch T connectors
  • Six 90* Elbows

As a heads up, all of this will probably run you $70-90 depending on the lengths you choose.

You will also want to grab a can of spray paint in whatever color you want! This is partly fun, and partly necessity because the piping is messy and leaves a residue on your hands.

Now it's time to put it all together! Start with two of the 36" pipes. Attach one of the T connectors to each and then connect the 8" pipes to the ends of the T connectors.

Then attach elbow pieces to the ends of your 8" pipes to essentially create the "feet". When you twist these on they may not reach their tightest point at the correct angle (one of mine was facing up). You'll just have to adjust it to be slightly less or slightly more tight to get it so the end is flat against the ground:

Now take another elbow piece and attach it to the top of one of the legs you've created, lay the leg on the ground, and screw the third 36" inch (or whatever length you've chosen) pipe into the elbow. 

At this point I highly recommend getting another set of hands to finish this! As you'll see in the video, I had a couple mishaps trying to do this by myself (one leg fell and hit my camera, then the other fell back and put a hole in my wall!!).

Attach your last elbow piece to the end of the pipe you've just connected to the leg. Then flip the barre so the "top" piece is on the ground. Take your other leg you've created and attach it to the open elbow piece. A second set of hands can hold on to the first leg so it keeps everything stable while you attach the second!

And voila! A ballet barre! For reference, the one behind me is with 1" piping and a 6ft pipe on top, spray painted silver.

Now grab your can of spray paint and head outside! I chose a gold color this time in a brushed metallic finish. You can certainly do a matte finish as well if you fancy that!

If you make your own barre we'd love to see the results! Tag us @ballerinasbynight on Instagram!

Brunch with Ballet Friends!

I feel so lucky that ballet has introduced some amazing women (and men!) into my life. Obviously ballet brought Abby and I together - and that meeting literally changed the course of my life - so I do not take for granted these ballet friendships! I have continued to meet wonderful, kind, beautiful people through adult ballet and I couldn't be more grateful!

I think what is extra cool about meeting other dancers as adults is that while ballet is a big part of our lives, it isn't the only thing in our lives that is important to us. Our conversations can wander off into travel, relationships, work, goals, etc. While the common denominator is ballet, and there is always plenty to talk about there, it's wonderful that our lives are so enriched with other things that we can learn about from each other. But it's like there's this unspoken understanding that no matter what we do & where life takes us, ballet is always in the back of our minds.

This Saturday I met three of my ballet friends for brunch (Kristin, Madison, & Allie). All four of us grew up in different states, but throughout conversations we made numerous connections of mutual friends! The ballet world really is so tiny.

And then on Sunday I met up with a viewer named Paige who discovered through photos & videos that we live in the same town. Our mutual connections were off the charts as I pulled up some old performance photos where she knew person after person :) We even discovered we went to the same schools growing up!

I'm feeling so grateful for this community and I'm inspired to meet more of you face-to-face! I'm going out to New York City in a few weeks so I'm going to work on arranging a meet-up time if there is any interest in that! I'll post details later, so make sure to follow us here on the blog (subscribe via email in the sidebar) and our YouTube channel. I hope everyone had a great weekend!!

- Jana

My new baby kitten

Hello, everyone! I wanted to make a fun post about my new kitten.

This is Kai. But, it was originally Kiri.

That because we got this kitten thinking it was a girl.

He wasn't a girl.

He's a boy.

A super sweet one.

Sorcha has been playing Momma to him. They snuggle and she grooms him.

Sometimes he's liquid-ee.

And he's always super sweet.

Zoomie is happy to snuggle up to him as well. He has taken hold of our household and brought us lots of joy!

(I promise he doesn't sleep all the time. He has two speeds - high and off. Needless to say, pictures are easier when he's sleeping.)

More Dance Videos! Non-Ballet Edition

A couple weeks ago I shared some mostly Balanchine video links to watch, which I hope you all enjoyed or have bookmarked to enjoy later! Today I'm talking non-ballet dance videos because there are a bunch I've been loving (obsessing over?) lately. As much as I could watch ballet all day every day, I do love some good jazzy-hip-hoppy-britney-spears-music-video type of dancing. And though we are all ballet dancers here, we are lovers of all forms of dance!

1. Kyle Hanagami's choreography to Ed Sheeran's "Shape Of You"

Guys. I cannot stop watching this video. It's super fun and the choreography could not be more perfect for the song. I was actually getting sick of hearing this song on the radio, but now I visualize this dance and turn it up every time it comes on!

2. Brian Friedman's choreography to Ariana Grande's "Into You"

This is what began the rabbit hole of dance video binging!! I wanted to make music videos when I was younger - if the internet and access to digital was a thing when I was younger I probably would have pursued that - so to see essentially a music video dedicated to the dancing was so overwhelmingly cool to me. The way Brian works the camera at 5:19 is #goals. And bonus! Maddie Ziegler is in the second group :)

3. Galen Hooks choreography to Rihanna's "Love On The Brain"

I think what I love most about this video is that every single dancer has a very different take on the choreography and how they tell the story. I am particularly drawn to the girl in the yellow shirt!

4. Kyle Hanagami's choreography to Beyoncé's "YONCE"

This is so sexy. That is all.

5. Kate Jablonski's choreography to Laura Marling's "I Was Just A Card"

In terms of the internet, this is an older video that has been a favorite of mine for years. It inspired me to think outside the box when it comes to my own photo & video work of documenting dance. The use of lighting and the editing to piece together this brilliant choreography never gets old to me!

6. Andrew Winghart's choreography to Justin Timberlake's "Cry Me A River"

This concept and execution is so freaking fantastic. I love the build up to the moment at 3:31. I don't think you can watch this just once!

That's all for now, friends! Start with any one of these and the recommendations that will pop up in your YouTube feed will keep you occupied for hours and hours and hours :)

- Jana

New Vlog! Pilates Exercise with Brittany Cavaco

This past week I hosted professional ballet dancer Brittany Cavaco while she was in town. I met Brittany last summer in Washington, D.C. when we got together to do a photo shoot! Her visit was a short two nights, but it was great to have some dancer slumber parties! :) I vlogged one of the days and she shared a really great pilates exercise to help with my knees. She also went to class with me and Kristin that night and I got TWO fouetté turns in a row, guys! Small progress, but progress! Watch it all in the vlog on our YouTube channel: