Ballet Shoes & Mickey Ears

The happenings of this Disney-obsessed runner and dancer!


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It’s That Time of the Year!!!!

Wow. I can’t believe January is almost over. Time flies. It snowed a lot here where I live this weekend, and it’s been pretty cold. And to think at this time last year we were in sunny, warm, Disney. Oh how I miss that place!!! But anyways. With January comes “that time” of the year. The time of the year where we start working on our recital dances in ballet. We’ve been working on our pointe dance a few months now, and it’s really looking great. We’ll also be doing our pointe dance from last year too, but changing up some parts since we are more skilled now. TWO pointe dances! I’m so excited. I think we even get to wear tutus in our new one. How cool is that?!? We’ve also started on our Ballet 1/2 and Ballet 2/3 dances as well. Both dances have awesome music….I can’t remember their names though. The Ballet 1/2 dance is off to a good start. I feel really confident and comfortable with what we are doing. That class is definitely my more basic class. Last year, we had a separate Ballet 2 class, which was my most challenging dance (With that dreaded double pirouette!!!) This year the classes have been combined to have just two different classes/levels. The Ballet 2/3 dance is definitely more difficult. It’s chock full of turns right from the get go. Double pirouette, fouetté, fouetté, attitude. And then soon after that two pique turns, fouetté, fouetté, attitude. These turns are definitely kicking my butt!! But I love the dance and music. I am pushing hard every week to work on my turns. It’s funny… I can do several fouettés after just a single pirouette, but I’m struggling with pulling them off after a double. I think it’s just a matter of getting used to it (I’ve never tried them this way before) and being more confident with them. The girls in class are very supportive and are always pushing me to do better and not give up.

I help teach a Beginning Ballet 1/2 class, which is mostly 6-8 year olds. We’ve picked an awesome Irish sounding song that’s played mostly with a violin. So cool! The little girls love it and it’s so cute watching them dance. We’ve been searching for the “perfect costume” for this song, and I think we may have narrowed it down to a few options. So exciting!!

We haven’t started much with the teeny tiny kids in the Saturday classes yet. We’ve narrowed down their songs and have started working on some choreography. These girls are just so stinking adorable. We’ve had a big increase in attendance too which is just amazing. I think we had 20 girls in the 3-4 year old class and about 16 in the 5-6 year old class!! I’m doing really well with teaching them, and I’m becoming more and more confident. My teacher is still always there, just in case I need her. It’s nice because some days the kids just need some more assistance in class. Things have been going good! I am loving teaching the little ones. With my teacher being out due to her injury from time to time, I also get to fill in and teach the Beginning Ballet levels too. Which I am absolutely loving, when I get to do it. I remember being so scared and nervous the first time I had to teach way back in October. Now it’s just fun! The girls have gotten to know me and I’m (slowly) learning and trying to remember all their names. I think I was meant to be a teacher sometimes! Hah!!

The show will be here in 5 months. I just know that time is going to fly by. Pretty soon we will be ordering costumes, which is also exciting. This means I also have to finish my prototype tutu! I started making a tutu for us to possibly use in our pointe dance, but I’m struggling on figuring out how to finish it. I have the stiff tulle to put under the softer tulle, I just need to figure out how to sew the stiff tulle in the correct circles and then attach it to a brief. Should be easy right?! Hah!! Luckily my mom is an excellent sewer/ quilter/ crocheter/ any-type-of-crafter-extraordinaire, so I’m hoping she can help me. There’s always my mother in law and grandmother in law (lol!!) to help too. If this doesn’t work, we might just stick with using the classic black tutus my teacher already owns.

I also just got a new pair of pointe shoes in the mail! Just ordered another pair of my trusty Gaynors! So I have to remember to sew my elastics on before class this Tuesday because my old pair are dead. Like beyond dead. These ones will most likely not last until the recital. The dances we are doing are just killing my shank. But the timing should work out well to order another pair before the show and get them broken in just right.

Hope everyone in the ballet (and running!!) world are doing good! Happy dancing people!! 🙂

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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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2013 Running Recap

Wow. What a year this has been. I remember earlier this year I started running casually to help increase my stamina in dance. I would only run a few miles here and there, but never was really serious about it. I began running and was also learning choreography for my dance numbers too. Our show was in early June, so I just kept running. I ran my first ever race in March. It was about 20 degrees out and snowing. My mom was in town and my husband also came to watch to me run. I remember being soooo nervous as we waited inside where it was warm. The pictures my mom took even showed how nervous I was. It was only a 5k, but I was still nervous. Who would have ever thought that 8 months later I would have successfully completed 10 races- 3 of them half marathons!! Not this girl! I’m so incredibly proud of myself for my accomplishments this year. I found a joy in a sport I never thought I would. I loved pushing myself and seeing the results. I loved looking down at my Garmin and seeing my mileage increase every week. I will never forget what it felt like crossing that finish line at my first half marathon. It’s that feeling I crave now every time I sign up for another race.

I’ve also made some new twitter “friends” as a result of running. It’s so inspiring to see their accomplishments and their excitement for running. Social media has definitely changed the world. I hope to meet some more of my “friends” next year in other races. So a huge thank you to everyone I follow on twitter. You all inspire me to be a better me.

Here’s a quick little recap of my races this year- and don’t forget you can check out my race results tab above to see all the races I ran in and my times.

~ 10 races in 2013
~5 of them were 5ks
~ One 5 miler
~ One 2 miler
~ 3 half marathons

~ My best 5k time was 28:06 at the Cleveland Rite Aid 5k
~ My best half marathon time was 2:28:58 at the Towpath Half Marathon

I know my training for all these races was a little unconventional, but I still accomplished all my goals. Heck, I never even thought I would run a half marathon this year, but instead I ran and finished 3. Sure, I may not have been the fastest or placed in the top, but I still got out there and ran. I crossed every finish line. So I’m very proud of myself.

My goals for next year are simple:
~ improve my 5k time
~ improve my overall pace
~ run a 10k race
~ run a race in Disney (this is more like a dream lol)

I’m looking forward to 2014 and all it will bring with it. I look forward to continuing to challenge myself in running and also in dance. I’ve learned I’m more of a “loner” when it comes to running and that’s ok. I don’t do well running with people or in groups. I just like to put my music on and run. I like to get lost in the music or in my own thoughts. I do like running races with friends though. Even though we never actually run together, it’s nice to see a familiar face on the course and at the finish line.

I know most of you follow my blog for my dancing entries, but I want to thank you for supporting me in my running too! It means a lot to see your kind words and encouragement. So thank you all!!!

Happy New Year!!! 🙂


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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 Christmas Story 5k Race

For those of you who aren’t familiar with this movie, you should check it out. It’s called A Christmas Story. It’s a holiday classic that a lot of people watch around the holidays. There is even a television station that plays this movie for 24 hours straight on Christmas Day. This movie happened to be filmed right here in good ol’ Cleveland, OH. I could go on and on about it, but their website does a better job at explaining it! And if you’ve never seen the movie, I highly recommend watching it! It’s pretty funny!

Now onto the race….

This year marked the 30th anniversary of the filming of A Christmas Story, so they decided to put on a race! How fun! You had the option of running either a 5k or a 10k. Since we knew it would be cold, husband and I decided to just run the 5k. Both races got you a medal, which is almost unheard of for these distances. The registration was a little costly compared to other 5k/10k races. We payed $55/ person because we registered late, but the cheapest they had it was on a Groupon deal for one day only for $25.

Included in the registration fee:
~ Long sleeve Christmas Story themed tshirt
~ Free admission to tour the Christmas Story House
~ Transportation from the House back to the start area after the race
~ Post race food and drinks
~ Finisher’s Medal

They ended up selling out for the race which is awesome! They even had a virtual race option, which I thought was really neat. I think there ended up being around 3000 people there on race day morning. I have to say I’m not sure if I really enjoyed the race. There were things I liked about it and things I didn’t. This race marked my 10th race of the year for me, and also my last for this year. Here’s a basic rundown of the pros and cons of this race, according to me of course 🙂

Pros:
~ Easy parking
~ Was able to stay warm inside the building before the race
~ Packet pickup that morning was easy and simple
~ Easy course that went one way for the 5k, and out and back for the 10k
~ Awesome tshirt and medal
~ Free admission to the House

Cons:
~ Very crowded. Like, took 10 minutes to get to the start line after the race started, kind of crowded.
~ No instructions were given to people walking the course. This ended up being a huge pain in the butt for us runners.
~ No email was sent out regarding packet pickup info, etc. I had to look it up on their website.
~ The finish line was crazy backed up. I almost had to walk across the finish line there were so many people.
~ The line for the House tour was right next to the finish line, causing even more of a backup and confusion. The line was also really long. We waited about 30 minutes to get in.
~ The line for the busses back to the start area was ridiculously long. We stood outside in 20 degree weather for over 30 minutes.

I understand it was their first race, so I’m sure things will improve for next year. We were just really shocked by the poor planning. With that many people registered, they should have had more busses available. And there definitely needs to be instructions given for race day etiquette. People walking would just spread themselves out wherever they felt like it. Groups of people walked in horizontal lines totally blocking the road from runners being able to pass. People were even walking on the opposite side of the course where the 10k runners were trying to run on their way back. It was very annoying- and when you add in snow and ice on the roads, it was dangerous. They also said on their website that runners could enjoy some warm hot chocolate (Ovaltine) after the race, but I never saw any. We were just given packets of Ovaltine? Kinda lame. It was fun to see all the different Christmas Story themed costumes people were wearing. Some people were really creative!

Overall, I’m kind of torn about this race. I enjoyed the course, but would have liked it better had there not been so many walkers in the way. Having to wait outside in the cold that long for everything was a little much for me. I’ll probably give this race another try next year, and hopefully some things will have improved. It was fun, but cold, very cold. Brrrrrrrr. I ended up finishing in like 32:14. I’m not really disappointed seeing as there were a lot of obstacles and slow downs along the course. I’m definitely very happy with how my race season ended and I’m looking forward to next year! 🙂

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