Ballet Shoes & Mickey Ears

The happenings of this Disney-obsessed runner and dancer!


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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 🙂


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Back in the Saddle Again!

I love me some Aerosmith….anyways…..

Well hello there! I feel like I haven’t written a post in a long time. Yikes! I have been crazy busy lately and I’m sorry for the silence over here! My husband and I were out of town the past 2 weekends and this upcoming weekend is filled to the brim as well!

The first session of the new dance year has begun. Last Thursday was our first class back since summer session. After having 3 weeks off I thought I would be super shaky and a little sluggish, but it was the opposite! I got right back into the groove of things. Most importantly? My pirouettes. I don’t know what happened since our recital in June, but ever since then my pirouettes are off the hook! Hah! I struggled landing my double pirouette in our recital dance for months leading up to it. And now? I’m easily landing my doubles (on my right) and am actually getting my triples. I’m not landing the triples as smooth as I should, but hey. I’m getting around. I am so proud of myself! And my dreaded pirouettes on my left side are actually becoming a little easier too. I used to have to struggle for a single, and now I’m almost consistently landing doubles. I can’t help but think what a long way I have come in the last year. One of the girls in my class said the same thing last week to me. She told me “remember how a year ago you were afraid to come off the barre? Now look at you!” And she is right. It’s easy to get caught up in the daily struggles, but don’t forget how much you have accomplished. Hearing her say that to me totally made my night. Even my chaîne turns on the right have significantly improved. I’m turning faster and I’m keeping better control over my feet and body. I love being able to actually feel how much I’ve improved. Makes me so happy.

As for my pointe shoe situation… I’ve gone back to wearing my Gaynors. The ones I bought before our recital. They are the hard shank. I emailed Gaynor Minden and asked about being able to special order shoes and she gave me the go ahead. But, I’ve decided to hold off. Being $130, I just have a hard time spending that money when I have shoes that I can use, just are a little annoying. So that’s what I’ve done. I’m just going to keep wearing these shoes and stuffing a bunch of lambs wool in them. It gets the job done! I do have to say that my left foot is already really breaking in the shoe. My teacher thought the shoe was broken already. Yikes. Silly left foot. I’m not having any pain though, so I’m going to keep wearing them. They actually feel very comfortable. I’m sorry Gaynor for every cheating on you with Grishko. It was a silly thing to do. Just a moment of weakness. I’m glad we’re back together 🙂

Tomorrow is my first day of teaching! My teacher will be there with me, so I’m nervous, but not super nervous. I’m so excited!! I also have a 5k race this Sunday. Even husband is doing it with me! Who wouldn’t want to run and then get a beer and cupcake at the finish line?! I also have to find time to get my long run in this weekend. The scary 8 miles. It will be my first time going this far. Eeeeeekkkk. I’ve also talked to my teacher about possible cutting back just a little with ballet. At least until my half marathon is over. My little calves just can’t take it! We’ll see though. I love ballet too much to miss it. But I’ve got to listen to my body. So we shall see!

I’ve loved keeping up with everyones blogs. So fun to see everyone getting back into the swing of ballet season! Keep up the good work everyone 🙂


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Broken….

Well. My love affair with my Grishkos is officially over. They are already broken. After my second class wearing them, I was massaging the box area of my one shoe in my hands after class. I put slight pressure on my box and I heard a craaaaaaaack. And then I felt a softened area all the way down the middle of my sole leading into the box. My shank had cracked vertically. Like, I can’t even make this up. How the heck does this happen?!? My teacher said the shoe was still usable, but to switch it to my weaker foot. And that went ok. Then I said that I wasn’t liking how stiff the demi pointe area was and even after 3 weeks of working them, they were just too stiff for my liking. It’s such a change going from Gaynor’s to traditional shoes again. I’m just not liking it. Maybe it’s the shoes. Maybe it’s my feet. But I just don’t know what to do. Anyways….my teacher said back when she danced they would wet their shoes to help mold them to their feet better and soften any tight areas around their feet. So I thought this is exactly what I need! So we wet them and I walked around in them, stood in demi pointe and did plié relevés. I took them home and let them dry out. Except, I hung them from the elastics and I guess some water pooled in the platform area on my already broken shoe. This caused the platform to have a bulge area that did not allow me to stand up on my platform. Sigh. Like, seriously?? I think the pointe shoe gods are against me. Last night in class we tried to fix them. The broken shoe felt comfortable at first, but I noticed after we wet it again that the entire bottom sole of my shoe was super sticky. Like the glue from the shank sticky. My teacher was blown away. In all her years of dancing she has never seen a shoe do this. She had me do my barre exercises on a rug, only to find that this shoe was basically completely disintegrating. I couldn’t stand up on pointe anymore it was hurting my toe so bad. So, feeling defeated,I just decided to take them off for the rest of class. I couldn’t do any of the turns or center work anyways because of the glue on my shoes, so it was ok. Maybe my shoes were older and dried out? And that’s why the one cracked so easily? Who knows. It’s no big deal though. I will just get a new pair. I think I’m going to try to call Gaynor Minden and see if they can do a custom order for what I need. I need my size in a Box 3. I’m not sure if it can be done, but I will try!

Other than my constant pointe shoe problems, things have been good. My husband and I just celebrated our 3 year anniversary! We went out for dinner after work to our favorite Thai place. It was so good. So good. I like getting presents, so of course we got gifts for each other. I got 2 Sparkly Soul headbands (they are awesome, you should check them out. No really, check them out!), a book I wanted, a Disney necklace, and some I love running bumper stickers. But I don’t put bumper stickers on my car, they will be used for my running scrapbook thing I have. I got him a Star Trek shirt, Star Trek cups for his man cave, a Breaking Bad mug, Breaking Bad tshirt, and his own iPod shuffle. Now he doesn’t have to steal my pink one 🙂

I can’t believe summer is almost over. I feel like it just started. We had our last summer session dance class last night and we don’t start back up until September 5. While I’m going to miss class, I plan on using my free time to run, run, run. I have this half marathon race I signed up for in October to run. I’ve also been doing pretty good with the stretching at home. It’s almost a necessity for me since I’m running now.

I also have some exciting dance news! I will be teaching this fall! My teacher needed some one to teach her little kids (3-6 year olds) on Saturdays. I love kids and dance so I was like why not?! I will be teaching two separate classes, a one hour class for the 3-4 year olds and another one hour class for the 5-6 years olds. I’m so excited. I also will have a helper each time too. One of the older girls I already dance with and am familiar with, so that makes me not as nervous. My teacher said she would also stay in there with me until I was comfortable and got the hang of things. I can’t wait to let you all know how it goes! And if anyone out there has experience doing this, please, I welcome advice, ideas, or suggestions!

Hope everyone has been well. Sorry I’ve been so quiet. I’ve had a lot going on the last few weeks. We are currently in the process of remodeling our bathroom and my hours at my job have been adjusting to the new schedule. We’ve also been watching our friends dogs. So we have four furry doggies in our house! Yikes!! But it’s fun. Talk to you guys later 🙂