Congratulations to the Principal!!!

Today has been a great day in the world of dance. Misty Copeland has been named principal dancer for the American Ballet Theater.

I was able to meet Misty at my dance studio last year. She is so cool! I remember her telling us about all of the hard work and challenges of being a soloist. When she came to our studio, she was the third African-American soloist in the history of the American Ballet Theater. She also talked about her goal of being a principal dancer.  And now, she is the first African-American principal dancer in the 75 year history of the American Ballet Theater!  You can read about our meeting here. I also wrote about my dream to be like Misty one day here. Is it obvious I like her? Well I do. She’s one of my biggest inspirations. Ballet is the constant pursuit of perfection and Misty inspires me to strive to get better everyday….

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Here is one of the famous commercials she has done….

And yes, I still have her autographed books…Life in Motion Signautres

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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And Sew It Begins

I have been in ballet at my new studio for about a year. Like I said, I am going to stop calling it my new studio because it’s not new any more. But what is new is now I have pointe shoes! I am super excited to begin dancing in pointe shoes. If you look at my Pinterest page you’ll see some really great pointe shoes like this one or this one. There are lots of websites, blogs and you tube videos on the internet about how to sew pointe shoes. Some of the tutorials are very detailed and some are not. My teacher helped me pick the area of my shoes that I am supposed to sew, but it’s up to me to get the ribbon and elastic in place.

I did some research and found that in 1681, women began to dance ballet. The modern pointe shoe is attributed to a Russian Prima Ballerina from the 20th century named Anna Pavlova. Ballerina was once a rank given only to the most exceptional female soloists. In opera, the informal equivalent is diva, which means a distinguished singer. There are two types of ballerinas, prima ballerina assoluta and prima ballerina.  To be recognized as a prima ballerina assoluta is a rare honor and it is reserved for exceptional dancers. The title is so rare that since 1894, there have only been 12 dancers named prima ballerina assoluta!  The second highest title given to dancers is the prima ballerina. There have been about 132 women named as prima ballerinas.  I will talk more about ballerinas in a future blog.  Now, on to the sewing……….

The Materials

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A needle, thread, elastic, ribbon, lambs wool and cushions.

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Cut the ribbon and elastic.

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Sew the elastic into the back of the shoes.

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You have to sew the elastic on both sides of each shoe.

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 Now the shoes are ready for the ribbon…..

Well, it took me longer than I thought it would! My teacher said with practice I will be able to sew both shoes with elastic and ribbon in less than 30 minutes.  Tomorrow, I’ll sew the ribbon and tell you more interesting facts about pointe shoes!

Oh, Happy Day!!!

Hey everybody,

I’m back just as I promised, sooner rather than later.  I need to catch everybody up on what I’ve been doing over the last month or so.  Between going to my cousin’s college graduation from nursing school and my other cousin’s high school graduation, I managed to survive my first year of middle school.  School’s out and sixth grade is officially over!  Oh yeah!  It wasn’t such a bad year after all.  I was challenged by the honors classes and Pre-Algebra.  I managed to get used to using a locker, go to seven classes a day, learn to play the clarinet, and navigate the mean girls and lunchroom drama!  I’m rather proud of myself.  At the end of the year awards assembly, I got two awards – one was for Best Western Hemispheres Geography Student (I had a class average of over 100%) and the other was for Best Peak Student (Peak is the gifted class).  Also, I made straight A’s this last quarter.  Usually, I make all A’s and a B.  And whenever I make an A in Pre-Algebra, I end up making a B in Science or I make an A in Science and a B in Pre-Algebra.  This time, it’s all A’s.  Woo!  Hoo!

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Now for dance, I have some big news!  But first, let’s talk about my first dance recital at my new studio.  I think I’m going to stop calling it my new studio now that I’ve been there for an entire year.  Anyhow, it was a great recital, so much less stressful and frantic.  It was actually calm and kind of relaxed.  It was low key.  My mom didn’t have to buy a bunch of expensive costumes that I wear a couple of times and then hang in my closet for years.  They actually have a costume room that the teachers choose costumes from for their different class dances.  We didn’t have to wear all the heavy stage makeup and false eyelashes either.  I’ve been dancing for seven years now.  The first year or two I was just starting out, so I only had a few dances in the year-end recital.  Then when I joined my previous studio’s Company and started doing competition dances, I ended up in more and more dances at the year-end recital.  Last year I had eleven!  This year, I had two!  Big difference!  Also, the recital was an hour and a half total.  Last year, we had two recitals that lasted two hours each and we didn’t even do the exact same dances in each performance.  If you wanted to see every dance, you had to attend both recitals.  Again, big difference!

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Recital Flowers

But, on to my big news!  I got my pointe shoes!  Yay!  That was my goal in moving from a recreational/competition studio to a ballet technique focused studio.  I wanted to improve my technique, strength, flexibility, and to achieve my goal of going on pointe.  Yesterday, my mom took me to the dancewear store to be fitted for pointe shoes.  Well, it was quite an ordeal!  We were there for over an hour and tried on fifteen pairs of shoes.  I have super narrow feet, tapered toes, and a super skinny heel.  Oh, and my right foot is just a bit longer than my left!  At one point the lady who was fitting me suggested to my mom that we buy two different pairs of shoes in two different sizes!  Pointe shoes are quite expensive and my mom was not happy about that!  The shape of your feet has everything to do with being fitted for pointe shoes and it is super important to get a good fit.  If you get shoes that don’t fit properly, then you can damage your feet – break toes, break an ankle – and it could threaten your ability to dance on pointe permanently.  Well, after trying on all those pairs of shoes, the lady who was helping us called another store in the town that my mom went to college in.  It’s about 45 minutes and 40 miles away.  We actually had to go to that store to get my shoes.  The lady there was a Russian ballerina with 25 years of experience.  She was very helpful and knew just by looking at my feet exactly which brand of shoe would work for my type of foot (Aleksandra).  I had the perfect fit after I tried on the second pair.  I am super anxious to get to work learning to dance on pointe.

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Finally, I wanted to share some more exciting news about what I’ve been doing lately.  On Instagram I follow an organization called Brown Girls Do Ballet.  They have a website at http://browngirlsdoballet.com/.  The mission of Brown Girls Do Ballet is to help increase participation of underrepresented minority populations in ballet programs through organizing and arranging ballet performances and providing resources and scholarships to assist young girls in their ballet development and training.

According to the website:
Brown Girls Do Ballet began in 2013 as a personal photography project by TaKiyah Wallace. Mrs. Wallace wanted to highlight underrepresented Hispanic, African ancestored, Asian, East Indian, and Native American girls enrolled in Ballet programs across the state of Texas. Initially, photographic casting calls were opened to girls ages 3 to 18 enrolled in ballet in Dallas, Houston, and, Austin, Texas.

Soon, the parents and ballerinas alike were overwhelmed with excitement to finally have a spotlight on people of color in the world of ballet. However, something else happened. The casting call information was spread outside of the initial target area.

As countless inquiries rolled in from all over the United States, Mrs. Wallace’s photography project was transformed into something larger. Every inquiry captured a shared passion beyond imagination and a greater purpose was unearthed. The project was then redefined as a movement in performing arts and its website set to become the premier information source for ballerinas of color.

Well, I saw on Instagram that Brown Girls Do Ballet was coming to my city to do a photo shoot, and of course, you know who signed up.  So, the week before school was out, on a Sunday afternoon, TaKiyah Wallace, came to town and my parents brought me to the botanical gardens downtown where we took pictures for her website and Instagram.  There were other girls there getting their pictures taken as well – one from Kansas and another was from Texas.  It was great fun!  I am waiting for her to post the pictures she took to Instagram and her website.  Stay tuned and if you love dance or the arts in general, please support Brown Girls Do Ballet.

2015 OKC Ballet

This is my dance picture from this year.  I am in Division 3 and we wear uniforms at this school, so the color of the Division 3 leotards is Royal Blue.

In this year’s recital, I performed in a ballet dance called “Festa” to the music of La Travia by Giuseppe Verdita Act II – Libiamo ne’lieti calici (Brindisi), composed  by Giuseppe Verdi.

I also performed in a jazz dance called “Rumours” to the song “Rumour Has It/Someone Like You.”  It’s actually a song by Adele, but our version was sung by the cast of Glee.

Last Week of April

It’s the last week of April.  This month has been so busy; I haven’t had time to write.  Since Easter, I stepped outside of my comfort zone and went to an open call dance audition for the Oklahoma Contemporary Dance Festival; my siblings and I got all dressed up to take family pictures; we celebrated my big sister, Ashley’s, 25th birthday; I had a band competition and went to an amusement park with my bandmates; and today I went to the Arts Festival to see the girls from my former dance studio perform.  On top of all of that, I have the usual school and dance three times a week.  We also had testing at school this month.  It has rained like crazy all month long, but it is spring…..and in Oklahoma spring means thunderstorm and tornado season, so the weather has been pretty normal this month.  Besides, there is a saying that “April showers bring May flowers.”

April is the fourth month of the year, according to the Gregorian calendar, which is used almost everywhere in the world today.  The Romans called the month Aprilis.  According to some sources, the Roman name comes from a word meaning to open.  Others say that it comes from Aphrodite, the Greek name for the goddess of love.  April was the second month in an early Roman calendar, but it became the fourth when the ancient Romans started using January as the first month.  In the Temperate Zone of the Northern Hemisphere, the appearance of the outdoor world usually changes more in April than in any other month of the year.  Snow and ice melt, grass grows green, and leaves appear on bushes and trees.  In the Southern Hemisphere, however, people enjoy mild autumn days during the month of April.

April
By:  Ralph Waldo Emerson

April cold with dropping rain
Willows and lilacs brings again,
The whistle of returning birds
And trumpet-lowing of the herds.

Take a look below at the pictures that I took today at the Arts Festival.  We visited the Botanical Gardens and Greenhouse.  Oh, by the way, this July, I will be performing in one dance at this year’s Oklahoma Contemporary Dance Festival!

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