Ballet Shoes & Mickey Ears

The happenings of this Disney-obsessed runner and dancer!


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Ballet Shoe Review- Part 1

Well hello there!!! It’s been awhile since I reviewed any ballet products. A few months back I received an email from a gentleman named Tim Heathcote. If you’re wondering who he is, he’s the CEO of the company MDM. They are a ballet gear company based out of Australia. Last year, I bought a pair of their new ballet shoes to try out. You can read all about them here. I was not happy with them and did not give them a good review. Soooooo fast forward to a few months ago and this email. Mr. Heathcote had read my review and wanted to send me a new-not-yet-available ballet shoe. What?!? Me?!? I couldn’t believe he had found my blog and reached out to me. I was super excited to receive these shoes. I had really high hopes for them. After all, I really did like the concept of the arch support in the shoe. I just wasn’t really crazy about the canvas material. Unfortunately, he only had this sample shoe in canvas to send me, so I figured I would still give them a try. Here are the pretty shoes!! They even came in their own little fancy box and dust bag. Loved it!!

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When I first put them on, I was in love. I loved how they fit and how they felt. The color of these shoes was much better than their first version. The arch seemed to really contour against my foot. I did a couple tendus at home and put them in my dance bag. I was excited to try them out in class. When we started doing tendus at the barre, I kept feeling my foot dragging, more so than it normally does. I also noticed in the mirror that it didn’t look like I was pointing my feet as well as it should. I was so disappointed!! I looked closer at the shoes on my foot and realized what the problem was. The shoe fit perfect everywhere, except right at the tips of my toes. There was extra fabric beyond my toes that was responsible for making my foot feel like it was dragging. It’s not too much fabric that I would need to go up a size, but just enough that it gets in the way. I think it’s because my foot is more tapered than the shoe is made for. If I had a wider foot with even toes it might fit better. I was so sad!! I really, really, liked these shoes and wanted them to work!! I think I’m just more of a leather shoe kind of girl. The canvas shoes just always feel so baggy on my feet. I never like how my feet look in them. I’m guessing if I got this newer shoe in their leather version, it would be perfect! I don’t think they are even for sale yet.

Here’s a few pictures of them:

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See how when I point my foot the shoe gets all wrinkly??

Overall these are great shoes. I love the color, the fit around the arch and heel, the arch support, the elastics come pre-sewn, and I love the little bag they come in. I know if this shoe was made in the leather version, with drawstrings to tighten the shoe, they would be perfect for me. My tapered feet need those drawstrings!! Hah!! When this shoe becomes available for sale, I would recommend trying it out. I’ll have to update you if I see them online!

Stayed tuned for another ballet shoe review. I think I finally found a good pair for my feet!!
Until then, happy dancing everyone!!! 🙂

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Sunshine Award!

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A huge shout out to RO over at All-round Girl for nominating me for this sweet award! Thanks girl!! 🙂 Sorry for the delay in posting this!!!

Here are the rules of the award:

1. Use the logo in the post. Done!
2. Link to whoever nominated you. Done!
3. Write 10 pieces of information about yourself. Done!
4. Nominate 10 fellow bloggers “who positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere”. Done!
5. Leave a comment on the nominees’ blogs to tell them of the award. Done!

Ten things about me:
1. I was born in Honolulu, Hawaii.
2. I’m super, super, super, super scared of spiders. Like I will break down and start crying depending on how big it is and how close it is to me!!
3. I love to camp and hike. I want to camp and hike in as many National Parks as I can.
4. I ran 3 half marathons in one month’s time. I did this in my first year of running. Now I’m crazily entertaining the idea of training for a marathon??
5. I love teaching and being with little kids. I would love to be a teacher or work in a preschool. Maybe in another life?!?
6. I have 3 cats, 1 dog, and two fish tanks. I love having pets and always have. I would love to someday own a really large dog, like a Great Dane, and also a tiny dog like a Teacup Chihuahua.
7. I have always wanted to own (or lease!) a horse. I love horseback riding, just never have the time or place to do it!
8. I like to play bingo with my mom. I love it when we win lol!! I used to help her run a bingo when I was younger. I would sell instant tickets and call back winning bingos. I loved getting tips!!!
9. I’m obsessed with eating raspberries and Noosa yoghurt, but only the Honey one.
10. I have always wanted to visit Australia since I was little. I hear they have some pretty big spiders, and that scares the crap out of me!!

Nominees!! ( I apologize for repeating nominations! If you have already done this, please don’t feel like you have to do it again because I listed you! Lol!!)

1. The Animation Commendation
2. The Flannel Gander
3. Bush Ballerina
4. Dancescribe
5. The Dancing Rider
6. The Running Paintbrush
7. Steph Plus 4
8. The Remedial Ballerina
9. Understated Whimsy
10. Karen Loves to Run


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Looking Back…. And Looking Forward

I cannot believe that December is over already. This year has completely flown by. I thought I would do a little end of the year recap on both my dancing and running. Ya know, take a look back and see what I’ve accomplished and what my goals for next year are. I’ll start off here with my dancing and save my running recap for another post. So here goes!! I apologize for the the long post!

This past year has been a lot of fun. My dancing has greatly improved and I’m becoming more confident in things I never thought I could do. I had my first real recital as an adult in June. I performed in 3 different numbers- 2 lyrical ballet ones and 1 pointe dance. I really liked all of the dances and felt pretty good about my performance. I got a copy of the DVD from our show and watched it several times. I was able to see where I did good and where I needed to improve on things. One thing that needed improvement was my turns. All of them. I needed to be cleaner and more solid. I also needed to work on my nerves and my confidence. I needed to become more secure with pointe and trust myself more. I’m stronger than I think.

Summer session came and went quickly. I remember the first or second week into it we were working on pirouettes. Without even thinking about it, I started doing doubles. On both sides. What?! I had just struggled a few weeks prior with landing a double pirouette in our one dance, and now I could just do them! My teacher told me it’s because the stress was gone, and she was right! Ever since then I’ve been easily doing doubles on both sides and even starting to land triples on my right. Holy crap! I was so happy. My teacher was proud of me too, along with some of the girls in class. I have come such a long way! I remember my first few lessons with my teacher where I was too afraid to even try a single pirouette at the barre. Now here I am working on triples. I also started improving on fouettes, at least on my right side. I went from not being able to do one on my right to doing 8 in a row in class this week! I even received compliments on them from my teacher. I was so proud of myself. Now, fouettes on my left are a different story. I struggle to even get one. Hopefully that will improve with time and practice. I still notice that turns to my left in general are still difficult for me. I can do a double pirouette but that’s about it. I haven’t tried for triples yet on that side because I can just feel my body is not ready. My chaîne turns to the right have really improved. I’m becoming faster and more solid, which is a great improvement. My turns across the floor on my left have improved some. My chaînés are the best out of the turns on my left. I really struggle with getting all the way across the floor with my piqué and soutenu turns on my left side. I try every week, but just feel like I’m not improving lately.

Pointe has been going great. I’ve finally got a good pair of shoes that I can really work and look good on my feet. I decided to stick with the Gaynor Mindens in the hard shank. I could use a little tapered of a box, but don’t feel like special ordering every pair of shoes. My shoes seem to last for about 1.5 – 2 months before the shanks are really broken in. That’s where I’m at right now, but I’m not having any pain yet. I’m starting to fall off of pointe on some things because of the lack of support, but I’m still able to dance in them. I will probably buy a new pair after the holidays. My feet are getting even stronger and I’m becoming more confident. I can even do pirouettes on pointe now and I’m even trying for doubles on my right. I couldn’t be happier! We started working on the choreography for a new pointe dance and I love it so far. It’s definitely more complicated than last years. So far we have two pirouettes in the dance, one of them being a double! Wowza!!

My flexibility is still meh. I haven’t really worked on it much though. I have found some stretches that I do routinely in class now. I can now do a few things I couldn’t do before, but my flexibility still has a long way to go. I’ve injured something in my inner thigh, right where it attaches to my pelvis. It’s really tight and really sore, but I’m trying to stretch it. I don’t know what I did to it. Boooo.

Teaching dance has been going great. The kids are starting to know me and I’m starting to know them. I think I finally might know all of their names now?! Hah! When my teacher unfortunately broke her wrist in October, I was asked to fill in and teach some other classes too. I had a good time with it and the girls in every class were very helpful. We started working on one of the recital dances in the younger class and I think we finally might have the songs picked out for the the 3-4 and 5-6 year old classes. I’m loving teaching and have become more confident in myself because of it.

I also got to partake in a few different Master Classes this past year. I got to take class with Allison DeBona of Ballet West, Daniel Ulbricht of NYC Ballet, and Ashley Bouder of NYC Ballet. I learned some things in each class, and got to see other little future ballerinas from schools all around the Cleveland area. It really was a good experience! I’m looking forward to taking class with Allison DeBona and the men of Ballet West again in the Spring! I’m so excited she is coming back- Allison was a great teacher. I’m glad I was given the opportunity to take these classes.

Sooooooo. All in all this past year has been great! I’ve learned a lot of new things, got to see an amazing ballet, and had some good experiences in master classes. I started teaching- which I love. Overall I’ve become more confident in my dancing. I’m not afraid to try new things anymore. And I’ve formed relationships with the girls in the studio through teaching and just being in class with them every week. I can’t believe 2013 is almost over, but I’m looking forward to 2014! Here are just a couple goals I have for the next year in dance:

~ Land triple pirouettes on my right
~ Land double pirouettes on my right in pointe
~ Increase my flexibility
~ Improve my turns across the floor on my left
~ Improve my fouettes
~ Become an even better teacher
~ Work on making my upper body softer while I’m working my lower body

Do you have any dance goals for 2014?
Did you achieve any dance goals in 2013?
What was your favorite thing about dance this year?
HAPPY NEW YEAR AND HAPPY DANCING!!!


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The Russians Know Where It’s At!

Last weekend I had the privilege of seeing the Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker. My husband and I had found a Groupon for the show here in Cleveland on December 7. It was a good deal- we got our tickets half off, plus Nutcrackers, and a DVD copy of the Moscow Ballet’s Nutcracker. Pretty sweet deal! It was one of my awesome belated birthday gifts from my loving husband! We also had our Christmas Story 5k this same day, so we ended up spending the entire day downtown. We had a lot of fun! I wasn’t sure what to expect from this show. Last year we saw the Joffrey Ballet perform the Nutcracker, and we left less than impressed. I remember not really liking how they danced- the choreography and footwork just didn’t do anything for me. The woman who played Clara just sat their too for most of the performance. I remember I was really bummed after the show. I was expecting more.

The ballet was set to start at 3pm. The doors supposedly opened at 2pm. We got to the building around 2:40 only to find a long line wrapped around the side of the building. It was only around 25 degrees out, and it’s almost always windy downtown. So it was cold! If got so bad for all the little girls in their pretty dresses….they were not happy! Eventually we made it in the building and made our way towards the auditorium. We easily found the table for our Groupon redemption for the Nutcrackers and DVDs. I thought we were only getting one of each, but to my surprise each ticket holder got one! So we gladly went home with 2 different Nutcrackers and 2 DVDs. Score!

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We then got in line to make our way into the auditorium to get to our seats. This was very congested and confusing. They did not have enough ushers present to help people find seats, so many people were just trying to find their seats themselves. We finally found our seats, which were so awesome! We were on the floor, a little to the left if you’re facing the stage, and we were in Row R. I was thrilled. The ballet didn’t actually start until around 3:45. People were getting antsy and children were getting restless. The artistic director came out and even spoke to the audience for a few minutes. He was from Russia and spoke decent English. He explained a little bit about the story line and about the lead dancers. He was basically saying we were in for a real treat! I was so excited!!

The ballet began shortly after he left the stage. The sets were nicely done and the costumes were really nice. Immediately, the pointe work was just simply amazing. The principal dancer who played Masha was stunning. She was so lean yet strong and beautiful. Her feet were awesome. She was exquisite. Her name is Ekaterina Borkiatova, and if you look up her biography on their website, you will see she is just stunning. Although the nightgown she is pictured in is not the one she wore during our performance. I was amazed by the dancing. Every dancer, even the women in the corps de ballet were really good. Every dancer was extremely strong and fluid. The Snowflake dance was so pretty. The Divertissements were crazy good. The best ones were the Arabian pair. The tricks they did and the woman’s flexibility were jaw-dropping. The audience even gasped during the one trick! It was the coolest thing I’ve ever seen done in a ballet. Like I said before, every dancer was amazing. I even got to see what Russian fouettes looked like! The dancers executed them beautifully! I was so happy! All of the women danced absolutely beautiful en pointe and the men were solid with really high jumps and crazy turns. I can confidently say every person in that audience enjoyed this performance.

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If you ever get a chance to see the Moscow Ballet perform the Nutcracker, you should definitely go!!! This was the best. Those Russians sure know how to dance!! 🙂


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A Tale of Two Ashleys

I had the opportunity to attend another Master Class put on by the great Ballet in Cleveland organization. This time they brought NYC Ballet’s Ashley Bouder and Phil Chan of Armitage Gone! Dance, also out of NYC. First off, I was really nervous. I tossed the idea of going back and forth in my head for over a week. I just got the feeling that this particular class might be too much for me. Legal Ballerina also was unsure at first of going. We ended up deciding to just go and try it. Jessica, who runs Ballet in Cleveland, said she had emailed Ashley Bouder about us and that she was looking forward to having us take her class. She was to teach 1.5 hours of ballet technique followed by a 1 hour variation class. She was going to be teaching Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux Variation!! En pointe!! I figured I had to give this a shot. It’s not every day I get the chance to learn a variation. If you want to learn more about who Ashley Bouder is you can look her up here.

Let me start with warm ups. LB and I found a place at a barre and started to stretch. There were a LOT of girls in this class. The class started on time and Ashley and Phil came out. Jessica briefly introduced them and then Ashley started class. We were at the last barre on the end. Ashley stood in the center of the room- a good 20 feet from us. She quickly started demonstrating a combination. I could not see anything she was doing at all. I also could barely hear her. So before I knew it- the pianist started playing and all these girls started the combination. I had no idea what we were supposed to be doing. This remained the same throughout the entire barre session. I could not see her demonstrate a single combination. And I could barely hear what she was saying the entire time. This was very disappointing and upsetting. I understand I am not an “advanced ballet student” but I have never been so frustrated. Ashley flew so fast through each and every combination. I noticed most of the “advanced girls” around me struggled through every combo. For them, I think it was mostly lack of being able to see/hear Ashley. I understand that Ballet in Cleveland is a non-profit organization, and I appreciate Jessica letting me attend these classes, but there were just too many girls in this class. I think in all the combos we did at the barre, Ashley only came around twice. I got no critique-nothing- from her each time. She didn’t appear to critique too many girls. The one thing I loved about the previous classes there, were that the dancers teaching would walk around and critique you. And the combos they did were challenging, but not like this time. Her combos were so fast and difficult, I literally ended up just standing at the barre, barely moving anything. We finally moved to center where I thought things would get better. We were able to split up into smaller groups for the combos which was nice. Unfortunately, Ashley gave us fast, faster, and fastest combos. Once again, I just ended up standing in the back, not able to dance. The combos were way too fast for me. I couldn’t pick any of them up. I felt very inferior. Ashley kept yelling out that girls were doing something wrong, but no one seemed to be able to correct it. Once again, most of the girls were struggling to get through these combos. The only thing I ended up being able to do were the jumps we did from first, second, and then changements. I was so disappointed. I felt like I paid to just stand around.

Up next was the pointe variation. I was extremely nervous, especially after how the first part of class went. But, I put on my shoes and started to warm up. I wasn’t really familiar with this particular variation, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. It was fast- imagine that! It was so fast, I thought I was going to fall. Ashley broke it up into different pieces and we ran through it a few times. By the time my group was up- I was in the first group- I still did not have it. I kept working on it though as the other groups went. By the end of the fifth group, I had finally gotten that little piece of choreography down. It wasn’t pretty like some of the other girls. My arms were all over the place, but I had gotten the footwork down for the most part. I was so happy! Finally, I had done something. LB was struggling with choreography- heck everyone was- and she ended up just wanting to be done with class. She was just as frustrated as I was with this class experience. I knew from watching the other girls continuing on in the variation, that I would not have been able to keep up. Out of all the variations out there, I just have to wonder why did she pick such a fast paced one?

We briefly got to talk with Jessica before we left, and expressed some of our concerns with her. She could tell that we were frustrated. She felt bad that we did not have a good experience. Even she thought Ashley was moving a little quickly with the teaching. I’m really sad that this class didn’t go better for me. To be honest, I left with not a good image of Ashley in my mind. Don’t get me wrong- she is a phenomenal dancer. I love watching videos of her dancing. Her teaching though? I have to say that she wasn’t a very good teacher, in my opinion. I loved the way Allison DeBona and Daniel Ulbricht taught when they were here. I took something away from each of those classes. I took nothing away from this one. I felt like all she did was call out combos and then would yell out that girls were doing it incorrectly. I could be wrong, but I got the vibe that she was just getting irritated with them. She didn’t seem very nice. And I don’t like saying that about people. I really wanted to like her and this class, but I just didn’t. 

I’m not so sure about taking any more master classes in the future. I know Allison DeBona is coming back in February or March I think? I would take from her again, because I liked her style. But for any new ones, probably not. I know as an adult beginner I will never dance or look like these younger girls. That’s ok with me. I just don’t think I’m at the ability level for these classes. And that’s just ok. I know I have come a long way, and I may not be dancing with “perfect” technique, but I’m still dancing- and that’s what makes me happy. I feel so bad that this review wasn’t a good one. I’m sure there were girls there that would say the complete opposite of me. Every one has their own opinions. Some of the really good dancers got a lot of advice from Ashley when they were dancing. So, good for them. I wish there had been less girls in the class. I understand there will be a lot, but this just seemed like way too many. Hopefully when Allison comes back next year her class won’t be overfilled too.

Here’s to another week of dancing! 🙂


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Where Has the Time Gone??

Well hello there friends! I don’t know about you, but this month has flown by! It started with my first half marathon on Oct 6, followed by my second half on Oct 13, followed by a lot of ballet. First off- my ballet teacher broke her wrist. Like bad. I got a phone call on Friday night, Oct 4 from her husband telling me the bad news. He said I would have to teach class alone on Saturday morning, with my few high school girls there of course to help! I was so nervous! Thankfully, the girls who help are totally awesome, so the classes went well. Whew! My teacher ended up needing surgery, so I was asked to step in and teach some of her other classes while she was out. Talk about being scared! I did not want to let her down, so I did as best as I could. I ended up teaching the Beginning Ballet 1/2, Beginning Ballet 3/4, and Ballet 1. One of the high school girls helped me teach the. Beg Ballet 1/2, but I was on my own for the others! It was a great experience, even though I felt bad for my teacher being hurt. I enjoyed the challenge and ended up doing really well. It helped show me areas of teaching I need to work on, and it also showed me that the girls in the studio respect me. Even little girls I had never met before were kind and open to me teaching them. By the end of the 3 weeks, I definitely got to know some of them a little better. Which always makes me feel good. My teacher has been working her way back into the studio. She was there last week to get some office work done while I taught, and then was back to teaching our classes. It was like she didn’t skip a beat- she was right back in there calling out combinations and working us hard! It is so nice to have her back. And I’m so glad she’s starting to feel better.

In other news, I have my last half marathon of this year coming up this Sunday! I’m a little nervous- I actually haven’t ran since my last half marathon on Oct 13. With all the ballet stuff my schedule was a little off- but everything will be ok. I’ve still been active with dance, so my legs are still primed and ready to go! I’m really excited for it. I just hope the weather cooperates!!

We also went camping this weekend. It was our annual Gory at the Quarry event. It’s a Halloween themed camping event which is always fun. Brrrrrrr! It was a little chilly, but nothin worse than the previous years. We all had a good time and the music wasn’t too bad. In case you’re interested, we go to Nelson Ledges Quarry Park for camping throughout the year. They put on some awesome festivals and the quarry is always nice for swimming! Enjoy a few pictures! 🙂

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Teaching Update!

Thought I would give a quick little update on my dance teaching! I’ve been learning how to teach for 3 weeks now and things are going great! The little girls are starting to get to know me, and they are just so cute! My teacher is still in there to help me and take over when necessary. I’ve always had at least 2 of the high school girls in there helping as well. So far, I absolutely love it! I’m picking up things quickly and I’m learning to manage the little girls better. It’s weird to hear myself yelling out the steps! Hah! I’m so glad my teacher gave me this opportunity. I’m really enjoying it.

I found the song I think we are going to use for our Combo class! They are our 5-6 year olds. They are so adorable. And they all love being there in class! I just have to work on the choreography now. I’m still looking for a song for our Creative class, which is the 3-4 year olds. I have a song in mind, but I’m just not sure if it will work yet. We shall see!

I love watching the little girls learn new things. And seeing their faces light up when we do their favorite dance. And I love the hugs they give before and after class. They are just too sweet 🙂