Ballet Shoes & Mickey Ears

The happenings of this Disney-obsessed runner and dancer!


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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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My Master Class Experience

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As my last blog post mentioned, I was given the opportunity to attend a Master Class taught by Allison DeBona. She was brought here by the amazing Jessica Wallis, founder of Ballet In Cleveland. I was so excited to attend this class, even though I was super nervous. I didn’t know what to expect, how many girls would be there, what type of work we would be doing, etc. I was so nervous. Thankfully, my BFF, Legal Ballerina, was also able to attend. I remember walking into the studio and seeing a bunch of really pretty, young, ballerinas. They were all stretching on the floor and at the barre in their cute little warm up outfits. I was immediately intimidated. All I could think was, “I can’t stretch like that. Holy cow, I’m not that flexible. Wow her leg extensions are amazing.” LB and I put our belongings back in the locker room and headed out to find a place to stretch. We headed for the farthest corner of the barre. There ended up being so many girls in this class! It was amazing to see so many girls from all over Northeast Ohio. So we stretched for about 10-15 minutes when it happened. I saw THE ballerina walk into the room. The lovely Allison DeBona had entered the room and was ready to get started. We were fortunate enough to have somebody there playing the piano. I had never experienced this! Allison introduced herself and we quickly got started. She showed us the warm-ups she does at Ballet West on a typical day. It was kind of hard to see her demonstrating things from where she was standing, but I tried my best to follow her. She would quickly demonstrate the combinations and also verbally say them too. I recognized most of the words being used, but struggled with the quick pace each set of combinations went at. We did basic leg work. A lot of tendus, relevés, fondus, etc. All the younger girls flew through them with ease. I struggled a bit with combinations. It was hard not being able to see what she was doing. I tried my best though! Allison would even stop the pianist mid song to correct things the majority of the girls were doing incorrectly. I liked that she did that because the advice she gave was really helpful.

LB and I weren’t the only “older” people there though! There was actually a very nice gentlemen in his 40’s there who had only been dancing for a year. A guy! How awesome is that! I give him mad props for putting on those ballet shoes and learning ballet. There was also a younger boy in the class who danced pretty good for his age too. I was afraid Allison was going to call me out for the mistakes I was making or for not being up to speed with these younger girls. But she didn’t! In fact, she was very helpful in explaining things and giving everyone pointers on how to better effectively execute moves. She was very poised and knowledgable. You could tell this girl definitely knew what she was doing. And her body?! Holy cow. She is so muscular and petite. All strength. Pretty mind blowing.

Anyways, back to class. After working at the barre, we moved to center and did a few adagio combinations. Simple ones like tombé pas de bourrée, pirouette or tombé pas de bourrée, glissade, jeté, jeté, jeté, grande jeté. She even complimented me on my traveling across the whole floor! Score!! We worked on grande battements in center too. I was actually able to do them as good as most of the other girls. So that was good.

At the end of class we took a class picture with Allison. I don’t have it yet. They should be mailed out sometime this week! I was able to get a picture with Allison and LB though on my phone! Super cool. We also got a autographed headshot of her too. Ballet in Cleveland also gave us some swag bags with some cool items too. The owners, and also professional dancers, of Food Barre were there too. We ever got a free sample in our bag!

Even though I struggled quite a bit with the class, I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of. It was such an amazing experience. I’m so glad I was given the opportunity to go. If you ever have a chance to take a master class in your area, I highly recommend doing it. Don’t be afraid. Even if you are the oldest one there, you will still take things away from the experience. Not once did I ever feel like the younger girls were judging me. I even got to talk with Allison for a minute! I introduced myself and told her that I was the one who had been tweeting her lately! She was such a sweet woman. I hope she is able to come back again some day and do another class. There was also a Q&A session after class where the girls were able to ask Allison questions. Allison’s mom and sister were even there! So cool. I’m so glad I was able to do this. And I cannot wait for season 2 of Breaking Pointe to air on tv. I recommend everyone check it out! You won’t be disappointed.
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Master Class with Allison DeBona

OMG. Guys.

I get to meet AND dance with Allison DeBona. She’s a real ballerina. She is a demi-soloist with Ballet West and stars in the CW’s show, Breaking Pointe, which is coming out with season 2 this summer! I originally wrote about her coming to Cleveland here. Ballet in Cleveland is bringing her to Cleveland this weekend for a master class taught by Allison. So exciting! I didn’t think I was going to be able to go, but thankfully the lovely Jessica Wallis who runs Ballet in Cleveland, made it possible for me to attend. I’m so excited. I absolutely love the show Breaking Pointe, and cannot wait for it to return this summer. I’m also very excited to meet Allison and ask her any questions I may have. The master class I’ll be taking is 1.5 hours followed by a 30 minute Q&A session with Allison. Other than my own ballet instructor, I’ve never met a professional ballerina, let alone dance with one! I’m really nervous for the class. It’s for children ages 13-18+ and any college aged students. I have a feeling I will be the only adult there, besides Jessica. And I think I’m ok with that. I have no idea what to expect in class. I’m hoping I can maintain!! This is just such an amazing opportunity, I can’t pass it up. And if I end up being the “worst” there because of my age and skill level, then that’s ok. I’ll never see any of these girls again. Or, for all I know I will be just as good as them and blow them away that an “old” person can dance too. I’m hoping for the latter. Hah! Either way I think it will be fun. I’ll be sure to follow up with my experience and post any pictures I may be able to take. Yay!! 🙂


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Meeting = Success!!

Jessica Wallis from Ballet in Cleveland!!

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Well today I had the privilege of meeting Jessica Wallis from Ballet in Cleveland. First off, can I just say what an amazing person she is!! She definitely loves ballet and her passion for it shows. I loved talking with her today. We met up for coffee and talked all things ballet! She taught me what her organization is all about and the opportunities it will bring for ballet to the city of Cleveland. She was also interested in me and my love of dance. We talked about how I started ballet as an adult, the experiences I have had in teachers and studios, and what I think about ballet. I told her about my amazing dance teacher and just how great her studio is. I described the love and passion our teacher possesses for ballet and how she believes in me. Jessica was thrilled to hear that not only was I dancing as an adult, but that I had found a teacher who has such a passion and love for ballet. I described how amazing the other girls in the studio are. How they support me in my adventure in learning ballet.

We talked about Allison DeBona, from the CW’s show, Breaking Pointe. She will be coming to Cleveland on behalf of Ballet in Cleveland to teach a masters class. I am thrilled!! I’m so excited to have the opportunity to partake in her class. I think it will be an amazing event. Jessica had nothing but nice things to say about Allison, and I cannot believe that I will have the chance to meet her in person! So amazing!! I will keep you posted on this event! Right now it’s slated for early March. I can’t wait!!

Jessica also gave me her input on pointe shoes, which I need!! She actually wore Gaynor Mindens when she used to dance and she highly recommends them! I told her I was going to get fitted next week, and she thought that was awesome. Who knows if they will work for me, but I’m hoping they will!!

I’m excited to see this organization in Cleveland and what it can do for the city. I’ve always wondered why we don’t have more ballets here, and Jessica and her team are working hard to bring more here! I’m really hoping she’s able to bring Ballets with a Twist from NYC to Cleveland next year! This show looks absolutely amazing and unique!! For a look at some pictures and more info you can visit Jessica’s blog or just visit Ballets with a Twists website. It’s incredible!!

Tomorrow is ballet and pointe classes! Hoping they go smoothly!! I already feel a ton better on my diet, so I’m hoping I perform better in class now that I’m adjusted to my diet. Now to spend the rest of my afternoon with the husband!! 🙂

This is Allison DeBona from Breaking Pointe!!

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