Ask Abby! How to Remember Combinations

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

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One of our followers emailed us a question recently, and we wanted to share the response with you here, because we get this question a LOT!

Hello, I have reached out to you guys before and I just want to tell you that you guys are a great resource for me.  thank you!  I have something I was wondering if you could help me with.  I feel like I struggle with remember combinations when we are in the center or go across the floor, most the across the floor combinations.  And as a result I don't feel like I dance well because I am too nervous I don't know what  I am doing.  do you have any trips to remembering the combinations so I can just dance it and not think so much about the order of the steps?

Thanks, Sarah


Mark, mark, mark! 

As someone that struggled with this (and still does to a large extent), I have to mark the combination over and over in order to get it enough to be successful. Go in the latest group you can, and mark with every group in the back as they go across the floor before you take your turn. When the teacher is first giving the combination, do it with them as full out as possible while they are going over it. 

If you don't feel like you can get the entire combination, try to really get at least the first four to eight counts, then really dance and commit to just that part, then see how much you can make the rest flow even if it isn't perfect. A lot of times combinations have a pattern or a part repeats, so try to find the pattern. Kind of like the number trick where someone gives you the numbers 3-6-1-4-3-7, and you can remember it more easily by thinking 36-14-37.

Just try not to judge yourself too much about mistakes, because it can definitely be crippling! Better to let yourself go and make a few mistakes than to hold back too much. I know it's easier said than done! But it will get better! The mental part of ballet is just like a muscle getting stronger, and the more you use it, the stronger it will get.

Hope this helps!

Abby

Comment below if this is something you struggle with or have to work on!
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Review of the "Curvy Fit" Leotards from Discount Dance

Friday, May 24, 2019

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My fellow "curvy" ladies who dance, I know you join me in frustration with finding dancewear that provides enough coverage and support! Most dancewear brands cap at a size medium or large, and the few "plus size" options there are leave a lot to be desired aesthetically. Womp, womp.

I saw sometime last year that DiscountDance.com released a line of Curvy Fit leotards by the brand Natalie. I was hesitant to give them a try for some reason, but they're on clearance right now so I decided to give them a shot. I'm so glad I did, and wish I would have sooner!!

PROS:
  • FINALLY. More fabric. My boobs actually fit above the waist seam!
  • A substantial bust lining elastic provides more support.
  • A back scoop low enough to be pretty, but high enough to cover a bra strap.

CONS:
  • I don't like all the weird seam lines in the cap sleeve leo. I don't understand why it's like this - can't the sleeve just be seamless like non-curvy leotards?
  • I would like another fabric option that isn't quite as shiny


Overall, my thoughts are relief and excitement that I finally have options that I know will keep me covered and supported! I think this is a great first step to expanding what is traditionally considered dancewear. "Curvy" people want pretty options too!

Since these leotards are currently on clearance, I suggest ordering now before they're gone!



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Road Trip to the Suffolk Boutique!

Friday, May 17, 2019

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I've been saying for two months I need to get another pair of pointe shoes before I go to the artÉmotion Adult Ballet Summer Intensive, but I FINALLY did it this week! And made a fun road trip day out of it - vlog and all!

I needed another pair of Suffolk Stellars and my friend, Kristin, needed to try a variety of shoes since she has been having a really hard time finding a good pointe shoe for this phase of her dance life! We remembered the Suffolk Dance Boutique is only a 3 hour drive from us, so we decided to go there and make a day of it!

We discovered this store is gigantic and carries all kinds of brands (including Yumiko! What?!) and we both had success with our shoes!! They also had bins of discounted leotards for $10 so we both ended up with the same floral print leo but in different colors, haha :)

To make the most of our drive down, we then found a nearby park and did a little photoshoot of each other while we waited for rush hour traffic to die down!

It was a super fun day and has me extra excited for our upcoming Intensive! If you want to join me, here's a link with info (June 3-8 in Salt Lake City). If you do enroll, use code "CARSON35" for a tuition discount! :)

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Weekend with Joanna!

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

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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
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First Month of Ballet Goals Planning!

Thursday, February 7, 2019

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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


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Thoughts on YAGP and Competitions

Monday, January 21, 2019

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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, épaulement, 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
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What Are You Waiting For?

Monday, January 7, 2019

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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
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