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Freed Pointe Shoes First Impressions

I finally put on my Freed pointe shoes tonight after class! These are the ones I got in New York in May. They are Classic Pros, Anchor Maker, No X, size 6.5. I can't believe I have waited this long to put these puppies on, but life has been busy and I wanted to have my full attention when I gave these a run for the first time.

Last Saturday I did a pointe workout at home, fully intending on wearing my Freeds, but remembered I needed to Jet Glue them first! Every Freed-wearer I've encountered has said to do this before wearing them to prolong their life, and I wanted to make sure I did that! So I did pointe work in my Capezio Arias (to Kathryn Morgan's new Beginner Pointe Class video, btw. It's excellent.).

I'm actually glad I did that class in my Arias because I was able to easily compare doing the same class again in the Freeds. My initial first impressions and thoughts beyond the obvious "OMG THEY'RE SO PRETTY!" are:

  • The more I did in them the more comfortable they got - like they were molding to my feet. This is probably why they are known to not last as long!

  • The platform is really flat and "sharp" feeling, if you understand what I mean by that. It's lovely for securing your placement once you're up there, but right now I'm having a hard time getting fully over the platform every time. I didn't do any additional work on the shank prior to wearing them, so I will try that before next time.

  • I'm noticing I'm not currently getting my weight over my first three toes en pointe. It was noticeable in both my Capezios and Freeds, so I know I can't blame it on a shoe :) This is something I've had to fix before, so I have faith I can fix it again! 

  • I like one shoe better than the other. Freeds are handmade so every shoe is going to fit a little differently. I like the one on my left foot better from this pair!

  • They just...feel different. I don't really know how to explain this, but it comes back to the handmade factor and materials. These are softer-feeling, but not less supportive. There is a comfort level I haven't experienced in other shoes.

So, I will work on adjusting the shank to help me get over the platform all the way. I did a lot of forced arch stretches to try to hold myself in that sweet spot over the platform, but my darn feet just aren't there yet. I think if I can get there, I will really like these shoes. But this also confirmed just what a great fit the Arias are on me. They've been my best-fitting shoe ever! I'll continue to work in the Freeds, though, and maybe it will help with my feet strength and flexibility! I will keep you all posted :)

- Jana

30 Minute Ballet Barre

We have a new follow-along ballet barre video! This one takes about 30 minutes to do and is considered a "warm up barre" to prepare you before a performance. This is also nice to do at home when you need a workout, but don't have a whole lot of time to dedicate to class. Abby explains more about this type of barre:

"A warm up class is going to differ from a typical class in a few ways. When trying to get ready for stage, you need to be extra efficient. Every combination needs to do as much as it can to get every part of the body moving. For me, a typical class will have a theme (maybe working on retire position at barre, then carrying that into turns and pas de chats in the center). In this type of class, I focus on certain muscle groups throughout the whole class in the hopes of making my students feel those muscles the next day (they love me for that, right?). I build my warm up classes, however, to be athletic and to work as many muscles groups as possible throughout the entire class. There is extra stretching and extra balances."

I really love this barre for working at home because it allows me to concentrate on placement and muscle usage. It's also helpful to do every few weeks so I can gauge my progress with stability and balances. I can tell if I'm improving in weak areas when I come back to this and it's either easier or harder. I also love that I get in a good sweat in a short amount of time while not skipping anything important about barre.

Everyone give Abby a big "Thank you!" for the combinations and we also want to thank Sarah Lund for providing the wonderful ballet class music!!

Let us know what you think of this one in the comments here or on YouTube!

Adult Dance Intensive Experience at Alonzo LINES!

Oh dear readers, do we have a treat for you this week! Fellow adult dancer, Natalie, recently attended an amazing dance intensive for adults at Alonzo LINES Dance Center in San Francisco! She's written an incredibly inspiring post about her experience that will make you want to sign up immediately for next year's session (I know I want to!). Natalie, we are so excited you had this experience and wanted to share it with the community! Happy reading, friends!


I had found it!  One day in March I was searching the internet and stumbled on a dance intensive for non-professional adult dancers…at Alonzo LINES Dance Center in San Francisco no less!   This opportunity arose at a select time in my life; I had recently lost my job and was busy alone trolling the internet and networking for the next career move.   Stumbling upon the advertisement for what would be a chance to embolden and practice my passion for dance left a light in me during the search process.  This chance to be connected to other dancers who danced most of their lives but didn’t choose it as a full-time profession excited me.  Dancers who love to dance and still need it to express themselves- and get in a good work out!  The decision to go was not an easy one. LINES is in San Francisco and I live on the East Coast (yes, I did try to find a similar dance intensive in NYC and couldn’t find anything!)   Also, LINES is mainly a ballet company and I am more of a jazz and modern/contemporary dancer.  However, I knew I could not pass this opportunity up.   Not only did I want to connect with other dancers but I also really liked how the intensive was made up of both technique classes AND composition classes, as well as a variety of electives- all types of classes that support, enrich, and challenge dancers besides “simple” technique.  Dance by nature is certainly athletic but it is also artistic.  Dancers of all ages need to be stretched in the creative process of dance.  How do we come up with the movement we are doing?  What other movement vocabulary can we pick up from other dance styles?  How can we strengthen our bodies in other ways besides our dance technique classes?

In June I made the cross-country voyage a day before the intensive started to explore Golden Gate Park and prepare for the intensive.  The next day (a Thursday) the intensive started at 5.  I was nervous.   The intensive was well-organized and the dancers were greeted with a folder containing a plethora of information and a water bottle.  To my surprise, I was joined by Bay Area and non-Bay Area dancers-a man from Baltimore, a woman from Jamaica, and even a woman from France- about 15 of us in all.  The first night we participated in a ballet class but we also had improv, a somatics class, and the first of four choreography and composition classes.  Day 1- check!  

On the second day we took another choreography class, as well as Alexander Technique, and we had a chance to explore an optional class.  I chose an Afro-Haitian class. The instructor did a great job of breaking down the moves we did across the floor (mainly in plié- yikes!).  She even brought several members of her family who watched, drummed, and in the case of the children, danced along! 

The weekend definitely tested me physically and mentally.  We met from 9-5 on both Saturday and Sunday.  We took ballet, modern, and composition each day, as well as repertory classes with current LINES dancers.  Some of the highlights of the weekend included a ballet class with Kathy Mata.  I was really looking to get back to basics with ballet and Kathy was an amazing teacher!  Her way of explaining plies, tendus, dégagés, etc was firm yet kind.  She wanted us to understand where the movement was coming from and was thus informative and supportive.  I encourage anyone in the Bay Area to check out her class and her adult ballet company (also for adult non-professional dancers!): http://kathymataballet.org/.  One of my favorite quotes from the weekend was from a choreography teacher who said that a spiral and opposition make everything more beautiful.  So true! Have you ever seen a more beautiful dancer than one whose head and arms reach spinning toward the heavens while feet are firmly planted in the ground?!  Another highlight was getting to spend time with Alonzo King, the founder of LINES Ballet!!  He had each of us perform improv one-by-one and, surprising all of us, prompted us with “fight the enemy”.  In the last part of his class we talked about doing versus being and discussed what sort of concepts we wanted the next generation to know about: humility, strength, and acceptance, to name a few.  By 5 o’clock on Sunday evening, I was exhausted but so glad I had made this trip!

I’m thankful for the staff at LINES for offering this intensive.  It’s not only important for adults to have a creative outlet, but it’s also important for adults to study with the vigor that we once had in our youth.  Just because we aren’t selling out crowds at Lincoln Center doesn’t mean we don’t strive to lift our leg higher, perform better, or find ways to express the pain or joy that comes with adult life.  On the flip side, I encourage adults to seek out opportunities to continue a childhood hobby or talent, especially dance.  Just because you aren’t professionally dancing doesn’t make the pursuit of your passion any less valid.  Seek out opportunities like this; see if you can teach at a local studio, find ways to volunteer to teach less fortunate children the magical power of dance.  

Thank you to the founders of Ballerinas by Night for building this community as well!

Side Notes:
For those of you in the DC area, the studio Joy of Motion has a particularly interesting program for adult trained dancers:
As I mentioned above I tried to look for a non-professional adult dance intensive in the NYC area but came up empty-handed!  If any Ballerinas by Night readers have ideas, please send them my way!


If you'd like to connect with Natalie she can be reached either by email at nataliepankow@yahoo.com or on Facebook under Natalie Collet.

If you have an adult ballet or adult dance experience you'd like to share with the community, please send us an email at ballerinasbynight@gmail.com!

What to Expect at Your First Adult Ballet Class

Our video this week is for the adult dancer wanting to start ballet for the very first time, but is not sure what to expect in class. That fear of the unknown can sometimes hinder us completely from doing something we are interested in. Jana sat down to talk about the basics of going to adult ballet for the first time in the video below. Make sure to check it out and let us know if it helps anyone who has been a little unsure about making that "leap" to ballet...HA. ;)

W H A T  T O  W E A R

Adult ballet classes generally don't have a uniform or clothing requirement other than wearing something form fitting. This can depend on the studio where you are dancing, so make sure to inquire about that before class. If the idea of putting on pink tights and a leotard scares you, try opting for black footless tights or yoga pants. You'll want to keep your torso covered, so leotards are great, but tank tops or fitted running shirts can work as well. Discountdance.com is our favorite place to shop online for dancewear.

C L A S S  S T R U C T U R E

I won't get into the specifics of the order of combinations, but the general structure is that class starts at the barre with a series of exercises that everyone does together - once on the right side and once on the left side. There is usually some kind of stretch time at the end of barre and then the class will move to the center of the room and the combinations will start small and build up until you are doing big movements across the floor. You can watch any of our barre videos on our channel to get an idea of terminology and structure if you want to study up! :)

E T I Q U E T T E  T I P S

Ballet class has a lot of etiquette rules that you may not be aware of if you didn't grow up dancing. These rules tend to not get passed on to adult dancers ahead of time and you have to just learn as you go. Here are a few general ones to get you by your first class:

  • Arrive at the studio at least 15 minutes before class starts. If you need to register for the first time, I would get there even earlier. If you're running late, you don't want to jump in in later than 5-10 minutes after class has started. This is to prevent injury since all the exercises build upon each other.
  • Limit your talking amongst peers and definitely don't talk while the instructor is talking. 
  • If you're confused about a combination, raise your hand and ask to have it repeated. If later on in class you are not sure about a combination when going in groups in the centre, hold off from going in the first group so you can observe others once or twice before your turn.
  • Only bring water or approved beverages into the studio. 
  • After class finishes, go up to your instructor to bow to them and thank them for class.
  • If you had a live pianist in class, make sure to thank them after class as well.

Lastly, Abby and I want to share some words of encouragement because ballet class is not easy! And sometimes it doesn't love you back :) But if you can stick with it for 2-3 months, you will feel progress and things will get easier and it's THA BEST FEELING. It's going to be hard, but that's also what makes it fun. Best of luck, happy dancing, and let us know if this info helps you or gives you that boost to sign up for class!! Video with more chatty bits of info below :)

- Jana

April & May Corrections

My ballet class corrections from April & May are now up on YouTube! Topics covered are:

Placement, balancing, turning...I've got a lot of work to do ;)

Particularly avoiding pronation of the supporting leg while the working leg is in derriere.

P I R O U E T T E   P R E P
This piggybacks the pronation tip - watch the placement of the supporting foot and leg in the pirouette prep position. Keep it turned out!

P A S  D E  C H E V A L
To keep up with quick pas de chevals, think about your toes doing the work instead of your entire leg.

T O R S O  E L O N G A T I O N
This video includes corrections I received when I took class in NYC last month, and staying lifted through my torso was a repeat correction for me.

I N T E N T I O N A L   A R M S
A correction giving during renverse was to get your arms into the two correct positions that happen during the movement, not anywhere else! Basically, be intentional with your arm placement because not only does it look nicer, it will also help you achieve your position.

Watch these corrections in action in the video below. Leave a comment here or on the video if you have further questions!

Simple Trick to Improve Foot Work!

In our latest video on YouTube, Abby shares some simple tricks to improve your foot work, the main one being to visualize the floor as hyperdimensional. Start thinking about this as you work at the barre:

Imagine the floor being hyperdimensional as you tendu, dégagé, or battement. When you release the working leg in a tendu, visualize the foot dipping underneath the floor and then back up to floor level as you reach the full extension.

See this tip in action, as well as a few other super helpful tips, in the full video below! Please hit the "like" button on the video if you find it helpful!

NYC Ballet Vacation!

Last week I took a solo trip to New York City! I wanted to see ABT perform Whipped Cream and from there the entire trip snowballed into four days of all things ballet! P A R A D I S E . (And make sure to catch the vlog from this trip!)

I do have a good amount of family living in NYC, so I wasn't alone the entire trip. My cousin and my aunt accompanied me to The Met for Whipped Cream. They are both versed in the arts and ballet and they absolutely loved the show. Six thumbs up from us! :)

Gave the box seats a try - my first time at The Met!

The evening glow of Lincoln Center during intermission

My cousin and me!

Another big highlight of the trip was taking ballet class with Kat Wildish! I mentioned in my Ballet Bucket List video that I want to come to NYC to do one of her adult ballet performances sometime. A class was good enough for now though! I happened to take on International Tiara Day, so as we were warming up for class, Kat walked in with a box of tiaras telling everyone to come grab one! How fun is that??! She also took photos throughout class and sent me the ones she took of me. What a treat to have this memory captured!

For those who don't know, I am a professional photographer by day (day job & side biz). I'm currently putting all of my side business focus on shooting dancers, so I knew I had to line up shoots in New York. I ended up working with three wonderful ballet dancers - rain and shine!! :)

So, as you guys might know from videos and Instagram posts, I'm actually really loving the pointe shoes I'm currently in (Capezio Arias), but I have wanted to get fitted for Freeds for years, so I finally just made myself go do it! The Chacott store on 20th St. is beautiful and the staff was very helpful and kind. I only had about 30 minutes in the shop so I wasn't sure I would have time for a fitting, but I was in and out in exactly 30 minutes! I ended up in Classic Pros, no X, anchor maker.

On Thursday evening I held a Ballerinas By Night Meet Up! Our viewer/reader, Jessica, was able to make it so we met up at Rockefeller Center to see Jeff Koons' Seated Ballerina balloon sculpture. Because it was raining cats and dogs, we ventured a few blocks to a nice Italian restaurant where we scarfed down delicious pasta and talked about ballet life, adult life, professional life. It was such a great time and I am so thankful for this community of instant friends!! Thanks for a great time, Jessica!

After my final photo shoot on Friday I found myself with free time by myself to just wander! I stumbled upon a cool dance mural, had time to call my husband for the first time since I left, and then looked up showing times of Wendy Whelan's film Restless Creature. I popped down to the Film Forum to catch a late afternoon showing. I talk more about the film in the video from this trip, but to summarize - I was super emotional about this! The story just had me all over the place and I was crying like a baby in the theater. I haven't let my age be a boundary for my dancing, but seeing that at some point it will be no matter what I mentally tell myself was really hard for me to watch. Wendy has a very healthy outlook on it all though and the film was really well done.

I always get so inspired when I'm here and I love that there is so much ballet in New York that I can make an entire vacation out of it. Highly recommend doing this if you have the opportunity!! Thanks for reading and make sure to watch the video version of the trip linked below (the edit took me forever so pretty please hit the "like" button? :))! I will leave you with a few other random photos from the trip! - Jana. P.S. Huge thank you to my cousin, Nan, for taking so many photos & videos for me!!