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!

good-grades-report-card

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.

Taking A Chance and Trying Something New!

Red Dance Shoes                         Pink Dance shoes

The pictures above are of pointe shoes. Pointe shoes are also called toe shoes and are worn by ballerinas when they dance on their toes. It takes years of dancing before you are ready to get your pointe shoes. You have to strengthen the muscles of your legs, ankles, and feet. The recommended age for starting pointe work is around age twelve. I won’t be twelve for a few months now. I probably have at least a year of hard work ahead of me before I get my pointe shoes, but it’s my goal and I am determined to achieve it.

I’ve spent the last week informing the owner of my dance studio, the other teachers, and the girls that I dance with that I won’t be coming back to the studio in the fall. It’s been a hard week and I’m kind of sad about it, so was everybody else. But as I think about the future I am getting excited and starting to feel pretty good about it. This is how people achieve their goals in life. You have to be brave and go for it. After Disney and summer classes are over, I will be dancing at the dance school of our city’s ballet company. I won’t be doing competitions, at least not in the near future, but I am okay with that…..

I set a goal for myself.

I am moving forward.

I am focused.

I am determined to succeed.

I am excited about my future.

I AM TAKING A CHANCE AND TRYING SOMETHING NEW!