Wednesday, July 29, 2009

How to Rise to the Top of Your Class

Every dancer wants to be the best in their entire class, to rise above all the rest. It's a great motivation to keep pushing yourself to that spot, but sometimes it just feels like a hopeless dream. Well, not anymore! With these easy steps, you should find yourself getting closer and closer to that prime position every class.

Perfect Your Posture
Although it may seem elementary posture is an essential for ballet, and if you perfect it your teacher will notice. Always keep the following in mind during class: head up, stomach in, pelvis under, turned out, shoulder down. You should remind yourself keep this posture up throughout the entire class.

Stretch Before Class
To become the most flexible in the class, you need to stretch in your free time. But a trick to appear much more flexible than you really are is to do a good hard stretch before class. That way once you get there you'll already be looser than most others, and you'll appear much more flexible when doing your class's routine stretches.

Listen To Your Teacher
This really cannot be stressed enough. Your teacher will take notice if you listen to her comments and critique, and if you keep in mind everything she tells the class to work on. Some girls will shrug off their personal critique, or not really take in what the teacher says to the whole class because she hasn't picked them out in particular. If you do listen, you'll definitely get praised.

Dress To Impress
Be sure to look neat and ready for ballet class. If you have a neat ballet bun and remembered all your dance stuff, you'll already have a leg-up over those who are unprepared or careless. If you have a strict dress code, abide to it. If not, buy a leotard that makes you feel confident and pretty in-- you WILL preform better.

Practice, Practice, Practice!
Some dancers just practice the moves in class. If you practice outside of class, becoming the best is easy as pie. If you learn a pirouette in class, try perfecting it at home. Try learning a double-pirouette. If you go that extra mile, the teacher (and other students) will notice your improved skills.

It really only takes these simple steps to get to that next level. If you use them, you'll notice some vast improvements. So now that you know how, go out there and become the best in your class, beginner ballerina! And no, you don't have to thank me when you become a prima.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

How Pointe Shoes are Made

An interesting video for anyone en pointe or anyone who aspire to one day!

Beginner Ballerina Q&A

Here is a Q&A useful for anyone who is about to start ballet, just started, or started withing the last few years. All the common Q's will hopefully be answered, but if you have any more feel free to comment and ask!

Q: I want to start ballet, but does that mean I have to dance with a bunch of kindergartners in tutus?
A: Maybe. It depends on the studio. Usually the more popular studios have classes for older kids beginner ballet, so you can be with people your own age who are beginners too. But if the studio only has 10 people for a beginner ballet class, they may group you all together regardless of age. Check out your studio's policy.

Q: When will I go en pointe?
A: Anyone who has been dancing from a very young age in most cases will go en pointe between ages 9 & 12. Any sooner will damage the dancer's physical development. If you started as a teenager, you have the opportunity to go en pointe in as little as 6 months (this is still rare) since your ankle bones are already fully developed. The most common range for going en pointe as a dancer who started ballet as a teenager is probably with 1-4 years, although it may be later or sooner depending on your studio's policy. Again, research your own studio's policy if going en pointe is a priority for you.

Q: I'm a guy and want to dance ballet. What should I do about teasing?
A: You can go with the common excuses like "I want to gain muscle", "I heard it makes you better at football", or "because you get to see girls in leotards!". But unless one of these reasons is actually honestly why you want to start ballet, they probably won't work very well. Believe me on that one. The real key is to just be honest and say you enjoy it, it's fun, however you want to phrase it or whatever your reason. Be really confident. Don't become embarrassed if teased, smile politely but act like you don't get the joke. If you're cool about it, others will follow.

Q: How do I get more flexible?
A: Check out my post on how to make the splits easier, there are a few tricks that may help you. But I think we all honestly know that answer to how to get more flexible, it's just we don't like doing it! Yes, the answer is simply to stretch, and a lot. It'll hurt, but if you push yourself (not too hard-- that may cause an injury!) eventually you'll get more flexible. Look up videos on youtube to find stretches that work best for you, but don't just do the easier ones because they hurt less. Try holding your splits too.

Q: How do I get really good really quickly?
A: Take as many classes as you feel you're able to take, if you really want to get good fast. Listen to your teacher! If you did everything she told you in your first few classes, you'd be great. Go to summer dance intensives, or master classes on weekends during the year. Watch other ballerinas preform, notice their technique. Stretch, work out your muscles, control your movements. And of course, keep reading the beginnerballerina blog :D With dedication and commitment, you should be great in no time!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Finding A Ballet Studio/School

Professional Dancers who Started as TEENS #2

Credit goes to Blake for finding all of the dancer's. Thanks!

Misty Copeland: Soloist, started age ballet 13

Misty Copeland didn't start ballet until she was 13 years old. Her ballet teachers and her mother had shared guardianship over her,which resulted in a courtcase that eventually just emancipated her. She took several summer workshops in ABT, then became a member of the Studio Company in 2000, a member of the corps de ballet in 2001, and a soloist in 2007! She is known as the second african american ballerina in ABT.

Kristi Boone: Soloist, started ballet age 13

Kristi was put in ballet at 13, the only other dance training she had was tap and jazz. She also took gymnastics when she was younger, so she had some experience from that too. She finished highschool early to become a member of the ABT Studio Company, then later as part of the ABT main company's corps de ballet, then in 2007 she became a soloist. She also won three gold medals in the New England Ballet Awards.

She talks about starting at 13, saying This is a late start for most dancers, but I think my background in tap and jazz and a little gymnastics helped me with my coordination. And I knew I had to work harder than anyone to catch up,”. Kristi truly is inspiring.

Darcey Bussell: *Prima Ballerina*, started serious training at age 13
Darcey only started taking ballet seriously at 13, when she started to study ballet at the Royal Ballet School. Not only was this age against her, but she is also unusually tall for a dancer, standing at 5'9". She won the Prix de Lausanne, made history as the youngest ever principle dancer, and was awarded at OBE.

David Hallberg: Principle Dancer, started formal training at age 13
Although David took a jazz and tap class at the age of 10, he didn't start his formal ballet training until he was 13! He was then accepted into the Paris Opera Ballet School after 4 years of intense training. In 2000 he became part of ABT’s Studio Company and then became a member of the ABT's corps de ballet in 2001. Then he became a Soloist and Principal in May 2005.

Calvin Royal III: ABT II, started formal training at 14

Calvin started his formal ballet training at the Pinellas County Center for the Arts at Gibbs High School. His dance career took off when he became a finalist at YAGP. He won a scholarship allowing him to continue his ballet studies at the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre. He went to intensives ranging from The Rock to Julliard. He eventually joined ABT in 2007.

Carmen Corella: ABT, Started ballet at 13

"One of the myths of ballet is that girls must start dancing in early childhood if they are to have any chance of becoming a successful professional. Not the dazzling Carmen Corella. At the age of thirteen, in her hometown of Madrid, Spain, Carmen was totally into basketball and had no intention of dancing; in fact she had tried ballet class as a small child and didn't like it."

So there you go! Many dancers who either began their formal ballet training as a teenager or who actually just started ballet completely as a teenager. Before writing this post, I really thought that someone who start at 13 had no chance of becoming a professional. I was proven wrong! For someone like me who just wants to become advanced at ballet, hearing that some late starters became professionals is a huge inspiration. I hope it is for you too.

10 TIPS: Make Splits MUCH Easier To Do!

So we all know the only real way to get down your splits is to stretch (OUCH!). But it doesn't have to be as bad as you may think. I've come up with a few tircks and tips to make the splits a lot easier to do, with less of the pain. *You won't get your splits JUST with these methods. You gotta stretch so it hurts too :)*

TIP #1: Take a Shower.

No, not because you're dirty! Taking a shower with hot water warms up your muscles, making them more flexible before you stretch. It loosens them up. If you stretch after taking a shower, you'll find it's a lot easier to get down farther into your splits.

TIP #2: Do some Jumping-Jacks.

Or any physical activity that will get your heart pumping. Dance wild around your room, run around the block, have a pillow fight with your younger brother... anything! This method also loosens up your muscles by warming them up. You NEVER want to stretch on cold muscles, it's not as effective, and not to mention it hurts a lot more!

TIP #3: Do This:

This is a quad stretch. It's not very painful, but will help your splits a lot. So many stretches focus on the leg thats forward in the splits (toe touches, heel in hand, etc.) but you can't forget about the leg facing back too! This will help you get farther down in your splits by getting that quad muscle looser.

TIP #4: Watch TV.

Okay, okay, so maybe I'm being a little vague. Just watching TV won't get you into your splits. But if you watch TV while stretching, you are distracted from the pain and don't get bored. Holding your splits is much easier to do while watching Spongebob re-runs!

TIP #5: Stretch at Night.

Do you ever notice how when you first wake up in the morning, you feel super tight and un-flexible? That's because when you sleep you stay in generally the same position and your muscles get stiff. But after a day's worth of activity, your muscles are loose and ready to do splits!

TIP #6: Wear Socks.

Wearing socks while pressing down into your splits will help your feet slide out farther. Plus they're cozy! Bare feet don't slide as well, and neither do ballet shoes. Socks help you reach your whole potential.

TIP #7: The more the merrier!

Doing a split everyday hurts less than doing one once a week. The more you do it, the easier it becomes. If you stretch every night you don't give your musclees a big chance to tighten up again, so even if it hurts because your sore you'll make much more progress and won't hurt as much from being tight.

TIP #8: Take Breaks Every so Often.

If you have a week off of school and are going on vacation, don't stretch for the week. If you're tired and need to take a week off, do it. You'll come back feeling better because you won't be sore anymore (or as sore!). It's important to take breaks every once in a while, but "once in a while" is a key word-- don't take breaks every other week!

TIP #9: Over-Splits.

If you're really struggling getting down those last few inches, try over-splits. Yes, these will hurt but they're a pretty clever trick for getting down your splits. Just go into your splits with elevate on leg on top of a book or two (a textbook works well). After you've done your oversplit, try going into your reular split again. SHAZAM! Suddenly you can do it! Over-splits are like magic for those last few inches.

An Example of an Over-Split:

TIP #10: Make a Friend Before Class.

If you have some free time before class starts, ask someone to stretch with you. You'll be loose for class and will dance better. You'll also impress the teacher with your flexibility. Not to mention, it's a great way to make a friend!

Dancer Chic - Unique Leotards

Basically every ballet dancer has the classic black camisole leotard. Sometimes you'll go crazy and get the pink. But no dance wardrobe is complete without a unique, flamboyant leotard! Check out some of the styles below to find that special leotard for the new season.

A material with silky sheen and the twist front bodice add a little flare to this leo. The wide starps add extra support if you have a bigger bust. Not to mention, that turqois color will be sure to catch everyone's eye! Mirella

Neon halter! Open back! Twist front! Oh my! This leotard is sure to make you stand out and feel amazing! Bloch

I love this one because of the beyond pretty princess style seams. Princess seams make you look thinner and have a very cute effect. The cross top, low cut back, and unique colors make this leotard an even more flattering version of the classic cami leo. Capezio

Gahh!!! I love it!!! I have a feeling that not everyone will like it because it's not a very leotard-ish leotard, but I just think it's so unique you gotta love it. Netting back, zipper top, t-shirt style, and comes is black, blue and hot pink! Natalie
Warning! Metallic Leotards are not for the faint at heart, or at fashion. I don't know if I'd wear this myself, but if anyone out there does, I applaud your daring! Natalie
So there you have it, some of the coolest unique leotards out there. All are available at if you want to buy one. The next time you go to dance class in one of these, you know you'll stand out for more than just your amazing dancing!

Shh! No Talking in Ballet!

Q: Has anyone ever told you "You can't do ballet! You're too..."?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Professional Ballet Dancers Who Started As TEENS

Okay, so maybe you can start ballet as a teen. But you can't become a very advanced dancer...right?


Let's take a look at two of the ballet dancers who inspire me everyday, who started as teens and made it big. To any dancer who began ballet as a teen, these dancers will provide as a major motivation!

Natalia Makrova: Prima Ballerina - started formal training at age 13
Natalia Makarova is a name to know for any ballet dancer, as she is one of the most famous of all time. Her's is an interesting story. She was born in Russia, where the usual age for entering formal ballet school is 10. No sooner, no later-- too bad 11 year old, you've missed your chance! But luckily for Natalia (or for her school) the Vaganova School of ballet tried out a new program-- Natalia was placed in a very unique class at 13 years old that condensed the 9 years of ballet training into 6.

Since then she's been a ballerina in the Kirov Ballet, then into the American Ballet Theatre, and then into the Royal Ballet in England. Her guest ballet appearences include roles in Paris Opera Ballet, National Ballet of Canada, Stuttgart Ballet, Royal Danish Ballet, London Festival Ballet, Bejart's Ballet of the 20th Century, and Roland Petit's Ballets de Marseille. Not to mention film and tv roles!

Rudolf Nureyev: Soloist & Leading Male Dancer - started at age 17
Nureyev found ballet in a very peculiar way. He was always a talented dancer, dancing in Bashkir folk dances as a child. However, he didn't take much interest in ballet until his mother smuggled him into a preformance one night. There he fell in love with the art of ballet. Those who saw him dance encouraged him to get professional training, but due to being in the S.U. post WWII conditions, he was unable to join until he was 17 years old!

He performed in Paris, New York City, London, and Chicago, and was a permanent guest artist at the Royal Ballet (which lasted for 20 years!). Since he was not technically part of the company, he was able to guest star across the globe in many ballet preformances and also as a choreographer. He also appeared on televisions and in movies.

So next time you think you can't dance ballet because you're too old, think again. These two dancers will hopefully provide some motivation and inspiration for all of you out there who want to start ballet as a teenager! But remeber, if you start late you WILL have to work hard if you want to reach an advanced levels. But now that you know it's possible, it seems a little easier, doesn't it?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

An Intro To Beginner Ballerina Blog!

Hi everyone. My name is Ava, I started ballet at age 13, and I'm a ballerina. Now I know what you must be thinking-- a ballerina? Starting at 13? Yeah, right.

That's what I thought, too.

The truth is that anyone who has the passion can be a ballerina, no matter their age. Ever since we were little girls we dreamed of being a ballerinas dancing up on stage in tutus, tights, and buns. Not to mention the all too glorified pointe shoes! But for those of you like me who didn't join (or stick to) that ballet class in pre-school, this blog is for you. I'll be posting advice for beginning teenage ballet dancers, guiding you to your dream of one day dancing up on that stage. I'll also include plenty of fun ballet fashion, tips and tricks, answers to questions, and much more ballet related posts on the way.

So it's time to let that inner-ballerina out! ...finally!