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Weekend with Joanna!


This past weekend my friend Joanna came in town to visit!! Joanna is @balletlibrarian on Instagram and she's the writer of the adult ballet novel Cantique, so you may know her across the online adult ballet community! You might also know her from my Kansas City vlog last summer when I went up there for an adult ballet weekend!

Joanna and her husband arrived on Friday and they came to my husband's brewery since I was working the bar that night! We were having a new beer release so I was a busy bee and didn't manage to grab one photo from that night! But it was super fun having ballet friends in the brewery. My life is so split between those two things that those worlds rarely collide - I want it to mesh more, because that was fun! If you're a craft beer drinker and also a ballet dancer, come visit me :)

So Saturday morning we went to class together! The Saturday class Kristin and I take with Alvin (who you might know from the "challenge" videos) is notorious for being really hard, which I think is part of its appeal to go! We prepped Joanna to expect it to be difficult and she was nervous about it, but she did great! She said afterward that the style was different than she was used to, but it's always fun to get exposed to new teaching styles! It was really fun having her in class and we stayed afterward to chat and do some fun video clips and photos.


We met back up a few hours later to film a video for the Ballerinas By Night YouTube channel. I am starting a new series which I will share more details about soon, but this first video features Joanna!



We were all dressed up to go see Oklahoma City Ballet perform La Sylphide at 8pm and had great intentions of going to have a fun dinner somewhere cool, but we ran out of time and we were all about to be hangry so...we went across the street to IHOP lol. It was quick and it was good, so it all worked out! :)



La Sylphide was so good! Our principal dancer, Miki, danced her retirement performance so it was a packed house full of emotions! Miki performed beautifully!! I got to photographer her final dress rehearsal on Thursday night, so it was a treat to sit in the audience and just watch her dance! Alvin danced with her that night and Joanna mentioned how she also loved getting to take a class from him that afternoon and then watch him dance that evening!

Since we didn't get to have a fancy dinner and a fancy drink before the ballet, we went for a fancy drink after! All the bars were packed, so we ended up back at Joanna's hotel for a drink from the bar. My husband had been hanging out with her husband so they met us downstairs and we all got to hang for a bit. It was so nice! Joanna, Kristin, and I stayed up talking until almost 2am and if it weren't for us getting tired we could have talked many more hours!



In my reflecting of this weekend I realized how awesome it is that I have met so many wonderful people since starting this YouTube channel and blog. When I met Kristin through Abby we instantly became friends - we never had the "get to know you" phase; we just went straight into best friend mode! When Joanna emailed us two years ago about her novel I had a feeling we would connect really well. When we finally got to meet last summer in Kansas City I knew immediately that we would be good friends! I'm thankful we got to see each other again - and we'll be spending a week together this summer doing an adult ballet intensive!!

I'm feeling so incredibly grateful for all of the support and love from this community online and my growing in-person community!! <3 <3

Jana

First Month of Ballet Goals Planning!


We're one month into 2019 (this was the longest year month, wasn't it?!). I've been using my Ballet Goals Planner that Abby created to share with all of you and I wanted to share my thoughts on it this far in!

First of all, I love writing things on paper, so I sent my PDF off to Kinkos and had it printed and three ring hole punched and then put it in a pretty pink binder! :) I find I'm more motivated to keep up with things if it's aesthetically pleasing to look at!

When I started to fill out my goals for the year I realized how helpful this was going to be to prep me for a week-long adult workshop I'm signed up for in June! I'm concerned about having enough strength and stamina to last the entire week (and I want to be able to do pointe work!), so breaking down the process of building that up will help me focus on the short term goals instead of in May all of a sudden trying to fit in 5 classes a week and hoping for the best haha.

For the weekly notes I have found it extremely beneficial to have written down what classes I took and the corrections I got. Life is busy and my memory is shot these days, so I make a point to write this stuff down as soon as I get home from class or a workout. Also, I'm much more likely to remember something if I've taken the time to write it down, so writing down corrections has helped me remember to carry them over into my next class. Seriously, my brain has been so jumbled the past few years I just don't even think about working on previous corrections!! It's going to take me forever to improve if I don't start implementing those! :)

I love that Abby has included conditioning into the weekly report because I need to start doing more of that. Right now I'm lucky to fit in one day of conditioning, but this month I need to start consistently adding that in in order to get me where I want to be in June!

And finally, going back to the end of the year goals sheet at the front of the planner - I have yet to fill out goals past six months. I'm not sure what I want those to be yet and that's okay. I'm focused on my six months goals, which mostly consists of just trying not to get injured! I will re-evaluate in June after the workshop to see where I'm at then!

If you haven't started your goals planner yet, I would suggest starting now! You can download it here, and you can watch Abby talk about the whys and hows of the planner in this video!

Happy dancing, friends!!!
Jana


Thoughts on YAGP and Competitions

Good morning, dancers! It's that time of year again. YAGP! Competitions! Let me share a few thoughts on all of this. 


I am a big fan of participating in competitions for several reasons. 
First, the process of preparing one or more solos and being coached on them can help you move forward as a dancer. Fine tuning transitions, port de bras, √©paulement, and other minutia in a variation will carry over into your class work. Classes give us combinations that we always have to pick up on the spot, but working on a variation allows you to focus on only a few steps, and to dig deep. We all have to find how to make our lines and our positions look the best on us and our bodies, so working one on one with a teacher or coach can help with this. 
Also, having a goal to work towards, knowing that on "x" day you are going to go out and perform for judges, can help increase the motivation to make every class count and for dancers to work their hardest leading up to it (hopefully creating good work habits that will carry beyond).
The scores and adjudicated comments will give you an idea of where to work from moving forward. Did the judges notice you need to work on arms, on turnout, or something else? Instead of taking these too personally, use them to grow! 
It's easy to let a score or comments get you down if it doesn't produce the outcome you had hoped for. However, keep in mind that the journey was always part of the outcome! View your growth as its own medal or plaque, and one that will serve you much better than something that sits on a shelf.
No single competition will define you as a dancer. You could win the top prize, and that will only be meaningful if it is backed up with a proper work ethic. Keep in mind what your goal is as a dancer - to go pro, to dance in college, to teach, to choreograph, or simply to become the best dancer you can be? Those are the real prizes in life, and competitions should only be a tool to move towards them. 
A "win" or a "loss" at a competition is short term. Progress in your dancing, learning, growing, and moving closer to your ultimate goal is forever. So go dance, have fun, make new friends, and take the competition and yourself only seriously enough to strive for the most benefit from the entire experience.

Abby

What Are You Waiting For?


After losing my mother-in-law in the fall of 2017 it became very clear to me that time is not something we should waste. I realized how much I took advantage of time, when really none of us knows how long we'll get. My goals with ballet came to the forefront of this since physically this could have an expiration date at some point! Since then I've been trying to push myself to the places where I let fear keep me from. "I'll do it eventually" - NO. Who knows if we'll have eventually. I will do it now!

So this brings me to share with you the great things ballet has brought to my life since I came back to it in June of 2005. I was so nervous to return to the barre! I had put off coming back because I had gained a bunch of weight and felt like I wouldn't belong anymore. But with some encouragement from my soon-to-be-husband, I showed up for that summer session! And you know what? I met some of the most encouraging, positive, ballet-loving people that I am still friends with! And of course Ballerinas By Night would not have happened had Abby and I not met through adult ballet!

Pointe class with Abby! - 2016
My fourth year dancing Waltz of the Flowers as an adult - 2009

Working on placement - 2015
Physically, ballet has helped me gain muscle and flexibility. I've learned what muscles to engage and why. I've learned where my weaknesses are so I can improve them, but I've also learned I have strengths! I also lost all my college weight when I first started back which was a welcome bonus! I've gained weight back over the years, but it sits on me differently than it used to (see paragraph after next).

Mentally, ballet has helped me focus on the task directly in front of me. The stresses from work or social life become less important the moment I step in the studio. It's helped my confidence as I accomplish difficult steps. I used to take critiques super personally, but ballet has taught me that corrections only help us to get better. This helped me immensely outside of ballet class too!

Ballet has helped me accept my physical appearance, and even like it sometimes! :) It's easy to stand in front of the mirror for an entire class and only notice your "flaws", but to overcome that and see the breakthroughs and the progress before the flaws, is such an empowering state of mind.

Penché in the snow - 2008
If I hadn't started back to ballet 13 years ago I might still be telling myself I stopped dancing because my body couldn't do this or that or I didn't look the "right way". I wouldn't be able to say that I finally built up the courage to do a pirouette en pointe or get to perform in a tutu on stage!

So, as cliche as it sounds with the start of a New Year, I encourage you to start the things you've been saying you've wanted to start! And if ballet is that thing for you, I'm here to ask you one thing:

What are you waiting for?!

Jana

Happy New Year and FREE GIFT!

I recently uploaded a video about overcoming our fear to reach our goals, and it has gotten such a positive and overwhelming response. It inspired me to go even further to help everyone reach their goals in 2019!

My FREE GIFT to you for this year is this goals planner, which takes you through the entire year with a journal to help you set and achieve your goals!

Take the challenge to set aside any fears you may have that are keeping you from taking that next step! Although the planner is written specifically for ballet, my hope is that you will use it for ballet and beyond.

This planner is downloadable and printable, so that you can decide what you want to attain and work daily towards those goals.

Take those chances and let's help each other make this year amazing! Let's knock it out of the park!


Stretch Canvas Shoes!

Bloch "Performa", Capezio "Hanami", SoDanca "Bliss"

Anyone else a fan of the stretch canvas shoe trend right now? I now own three pairs so let me tell you how that happened :)

Abby introduced me to the SoDanca "Bliss" shoe when I was visiting her in 2016. I loved how the shoe hugged my foot like a sock and that the padding on the split soles was thicker than most shoes. There is no draw string and the shoes come pre-sewn so you can literally buy them and walk into class - which is exactly what I did. There is something so satisfying about that!

I have gone through three pairs of the SoDanca shoes since then. When I went to order a new pair from Discount Dance recently, I saw there was a new Bloch stretch canvas shoe called the "Performa". I like the coloring from Bloch flat shoes and had been wanting to try a flesh toned shoe, so in my cart they went. I didn't realize at the time that they were on backorder, so I toughed it out with my holy SoDancas a while longer. When the Bloch shoes still hadn't arrived before I was headed to Kansas City, I went to my local store to get another pair of SoDancas.

While at the dance store, they recommended I try Capezio's stretch canvas shoe, the "Hanami", because it was most popular. It fit like a glove as well (tip: go up a 1/2 size from street shoe) and I liked that the sides were lower than the SoDanca shoe. Anything I can do to help out my super low profile foot :) So I was pleased with that purchase! And then guess what arrived while I was in Kansas City? The Bloch shoes :)

Bloch "Performa", Capezio "Hanami", SoDanca "Bliss"

I have yet to wear the Bloch shoes to class, but guys, I cannot wait. They fit perfectly, the elastics come pre-sewn, the sides are low, the color makes my leg line look so long, and the best part of all is the size of the metatarsal pad! It is wider than both the Capezio and SoDanca, which feels super supportive for me and my metatarsalgia tendencies. It has almost a cupping feeling around the ball of the foot. It feels so nice! I will keep you posted on my thoughts after wearing them to class!

Bloch "Performa"
So, basically, I feel like you can't go wrong with any of these shoes! They are all very similar, but as someone who loves to analyze the differences in shoes, I thought I would share my thoughts for those in the market to order a pair!

Do you wear stretch canvas shoes? What's your fave and how long do they last you? Comment below!

Jana

The Well Trained Dancer: Rond de Jambe


Welcome! Today we are talking about rond de jambe, specifically rond de jambe à terre.

Rond de jambe means: "circle of the leg on the ground". (Rond de jambe can also be done en l'air, but we are not addressing that yet.)

3 POINTS OF ROND DE JAMBE:

1.) Rond de jambe can be performed en dehors and en dedans. En dehors takes the leg from the front to the back, and en dedans takes the leg from the back to the front.

2.) You want to think about where you have a tendu to the front, to the side, and to the back, and rond de jambe is connecting the dots. The leg has to pass consistently through the same places it did for tendu. The same goes for en dedans moving from the back, to the side, to the front.


3.) Closing to first has to maintain turnout. From the back, heel leads to close, and from the front, the toes lead into close.


3 COMMON CORRECTIONS:

1.) Maintain the disengagement of the leg from the hip, working rotation. The hip is a ball-and-socket joint formed between the hip bone and the femur. We want the femur to move independently within the hip bone, without taking the hip bone with the femur. Sometimes this is referred to as "hula hoop hips" because it looks like the hips are moving as they would if we were doing a hula hoop!


2.) The hip of the supporting side needs to stay very turned out and lifted. Allowing the supporting side to relax, either because we simply forget or because we feel like we can gain more rotation of the working leg, is incorrect. Turnout and rotation should always come from both hips!

3.) Be aware not to let the foot turn in as it passes through first. Maintain rotation throughout the entire exercise!


Please keep in mind these are the very basics for rond de jambe, and by no means a comprehensive guide to everything going on in this step. I hope these will be helpful for those of you beginning or returning to ballet, as well as a good reminder for more advanced dancers!

Check out the video version below for further help!

- Abby