Just Call Me Grandma! It’s All In How You Look at It……………………………

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Today the casting announcement came out for the Oklahoma City Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker!  After the two plus hour audition on Saturday, I didn’t know what to think.  Well, turns out I was cast in the role of the Grandma in the party scene in Act I.  At first, I wasn’t sure about playing Grandma.  Last year, I was a Peppermint Page.  Not a big part, but since I was new to the studio and I had taken all of three classes before the audition, I figured that at least I got a part (though I think they do try to give a part to everybody who tries out).  This year, I thought I’d be cast in what they seemed to cast all the girls in my current level in last year – a party girl.  I would take that.  Then the audition came and I was called back after the audition for my age group to go into the older girls’ audition group, so I was expecting to get a pretty good part.  At least I hoped.  My mom says to “manage your expectations; then you won’t be disappointed.”  If something good comes your way, you’ll be “pleasantly surprised.”  I was hoping to be pleasantly surprised.  When I found out I would be Grandma (sharing the role with a 16-year-old in my group), I thought “What does the Grandma do?  Nobody is going to remember me as the Grandma.  I don’t even remember the Grandma.”  Then I looked at some of the other casting.  I also looked at last year’s program book and lo and behold, two adults shared the role of Grandma.  Then, I started to feel better about the part.  Maybe it was a good part, after all.  When I got to dance class today, the other girls asked me if I was excited to be playing the Grandma.  I told them, I guess so.  Then they said that the Grandma had a solo.  I didn’t remember the Grandma having a solo last year, but I am all about having a solo, even a teensy, tiny solo.

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So, from now on, you can just call me Grandma!

The History of Ballet

Hello everyone!  Long time, no blog.  I’ve been having a very busy, yet relaxing summer.  It’s almost time to go back to school and for dance classes to start-up again.  Because I am a dancer and talk so much about my love for dance, I decided to write a series of blog posts about the history of different kinds of dance.  For my first post in the series, I am going to start with the form of dance I love the most – ballet!  I started ballet at the age of five and I didn’t much appreciate it in the beginning.  Now, I go to a dance studio where the main focus is ballet technique.  Now I am so much better at it because it’s all that I do.  The history of ballet is as interesting as the art form itself.  The word ballet comes from French and was borrowed into English around the 17th century.  The French word in turn has its origins in Italian balletto, but uses the shortened version of ballo (dance).

Ballet ultimately traces back to Italian ballare, meaning to dance.  According to Wikipedia, ballet originated in the Italian Renaissance courts of the 15th and 16th centuries and spread from Italy to France.  Catherine de’ Medici and Balthasar de Beaujoyeulx were responsible for presenting the first court ballet ever which applied poetry, dance, music and set design to a storyline.  In the late 17th century Louis XIV founded the Académie Royale de Musique (the Paris Opera), within which emerged the first professional theatrical ballet company, the Paris Opera Ballet.  The dominant use of French in the vocabulary of ballet reflects this history.  Theatrical ballet soon became an independent form of art and spread from Europe to other nations.  The Royal Danish Ballet and the Imperial Ballet of the Russian Empire were founded in the 1740s.  In 1907 the Russian ballet moved back to France.

Soon ballet spread around the world with the formation of new companies, including the San Francisco Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, the New York City Ballet, and many others.  In the 20th century, different styles of ballet continued to develop.  The United States choreographer, George Balanchine, developed what is now known as neoclassical ballet.  Subsequent developments have included contemporary ballet and post-structural ballet.  I want to be a ballerina when I grow up.  My favorite ballerina, Misty Copeland, was just named American Ballet Theatre’s first female African-American principal dancer.  I find her to be very inspirational.  Because of her late start in learning how to dance ballet (she was 13) and her race and body type, she is what’s known as an unlikely ballerina.  Keep reading my blog to learn about other forms of dance.
 

This is me in my ballet costume for a group dance I was in during my 5th grade year back in 2013 – 2014.  We danced to Discombobulate.  It is the theme song from the movie, Sherlock Holmes.

Sew I Keep Sewing

Today I am sewing the ribbon on my pointe shoes. I didn’t realize how long it would take! My grandmother offered to sew the ribbons but I said I have to learn how to do it myself.   I did some more research about pointe shoes and learned a few more things….. Some dancers go through new pointe shoes almost every time they dance! Of course this happens when dancers are performing or dancing for hours.  Some dance companies spend thousands of dollars buying pointe shoes and the really big companies have staff that custom sew pointe shoes for their dancers. Pointe shoes are very delicate and made of silk and other materials. According to the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, the tip of a pointe shoe is a rigid box made of densely packed layers of fabric, cardboard and/or paper hardened by glue.  Just think, all my weight on just that? That’s why my teacher had me buy cushions and lambs wool to protect my toes!

As I said before pointe shoes have to fit as tightly as possible, while still being comfortable.  According to Pointeperfect.com, “pointe fitting is serious business” and I believe it! I urge you to go explore the site created by Lindsay. It has a lot of useful information.  I got the graphic below from her site.

Believe it or not, pointe shoe fit can have a true impact on the future of a pointe student. Are you in your best shoe?

As I stated earlier, I spent time sewing on the ribbon.

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It took longer than expected, but I did it! I also used a thimble. It made pushing the needle thru the shoe easier.
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I have to take them to class on Monday so my teacher can help with the final step, cutting the ribbon and lacing them up. But in the meantime, I slipped them on, like when you try on your new clothes before you wear them out …….

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Ballet IS a Sport!!

There is a really cool commercial from Under Armour that’s been out a few months now.  It features one of my favorite dancers… Misty Copeland, of course!  The point of the commercial is that ballerinas come in all shapes and sizes and that ballet is a sport.  With all of the jumping, spinning, leaping, and specific technically proficient movements, ballet is the equivalent of a very disciplined sport.  Yes, it takes the grace of an artist, but it also takes the strength of an athlete.  Ballet dancers use so many muscles and spend most of their time on relevé (that means on our toes)!  One of my teachers, Ms. Erica, calls it “beauty controlled” because there is so much discipline in every movement.  If you don’t believe me, just watch the commercial below….Misty rocks!  And if she isn’t an athlete, then there is no such thing!

Ballet……….I will what I want!

Continue to Challenge Yourself!

Hi everybody.  Today I spent the day in a town about 2 ½ hours from mine at a dance convention.  If you don’t know what a dance convention is, it’s where a bunch of famous choreographers/dancers/dance teachers come to teach different age groups and dance levels of dancers in a variety of dance styles.  Sometimes, they have dance competitions with them.  I have attended two dance conventions in the past, with my former studio.  One of them was out of town and we spent the weekend there.  This one I found out about from my new ballet teacher at my new studio.  My new studio isn’t a competition studio, so they don’t have the usual recreational dance company made up of students who take classes there, the kind of company that goes to competitions and conventions.  Instead, it is a ballet focused school that prepares pre-professional dancers for careers in dance and runs a professional ballet company.  My teacher comes from both worlds, so she gets me.  I have moved away from constant exposure to several different dance styles to focus on ballet.  Sometimes I miss some of the other dance styles and I don’t want to lose all of the skills that I’ve learned, but I know that ballet is the foundation of all dance.  My teacher told me that if a dancer has a really good foundation in ballet, then they can learn all other styles of dance.  She told me that she learned how to tap dance in a couple of weeks when she was hired to dance on a cruise ship and she’d never even tapped before!  But she was able to pick it up enough to be in the tap numbers that they performed.  Anyway, I attended today’s convention just so that I could keep up with everything that I’d learned in dance so far.  I took five classes today – jazz, hip hop, ballet, musical theater, and something called street jazz.  I was kind of nervous about going to a convention without being a part of a studio that was attending the convention.  I didn’t know anybody there and wasn’t with any friends.  Sometimes you can feel all by yourself, even in a room full of hundreds of people.  When I got there and started dancing, it was all good, though.  I learned a lot.  I was challenged.  And I had fun.  The ballroom that I was in was packed!  There had to be 500 or 600 dancers at the whole convention.  My mom and my dad drove me down.  We got up at 4:00 a.m. to get ready (well, they did, I woke up at 5).  We left the house at 6:00 a.m. and they stayed at the convention center all day while I was in the Tween Ballroom dancing.  They sacrifice a lot to help me to achieve my dreams.  They were there in the lobby when I came out during our break and during lunch.  I am happy that I went.  The ballet class was my favorite, of course.  Street jazz was the hardest.  The combinations were so fast!  In all, the convention was great and I’m glad I went.  I’m still learning every day to overcome my fears and to challenge myself.  Everybody should do the same.