Getting in Shape as an Older Dancer…Day 2…

Hell hath no fury like a ballet dancer scorned….
Today, I woke up with a vengeance. Super motivated about life and getting back in shape, I hoped in the shower, ate a healthy breakfast and moved on my way to ballet class. I had to do some extra searching to find a small studio where I wouldn’t run into CPYB friends, former colleagues, professionals I write about, or students who follow the blog… I get to ballet class and everything seems quite normal, until midway through barre the teacher asks if I run a Ballet Education. #fail.

Ballet class wasn’t going so great. Trying to balance somatic approaches, mentally pushing my body to be where I once was, paying attention to my body… the list goes on. It was a pretty miserable class, mostly because the teacher really had no clue what she was doing…  No joke. One of the worst structured ballet classes I have ever taken. (Sorry if you are reading this…) So, depressed as I was, I decided to blog. Did that. Was eventful.

Tried staying on my diet for lunch, but by dinner, I had given in and eaten three bowls of brown buttered pasta and pesto. It was delicious. I don’t regret it. BUT, then I felt super guilty and it was off to the gym…

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FEELING GOLDEN…

So, I am ridiculously out of shape. It took me 14 minutes to complete a mile, but I kept pushing. Core work, free weights, stretching, turn out exercises and more… I felt really good about myself. My ankles are still really crunchy and using the foot stretcher for help, but they are still pretty biscuity at the moment. They are still supple and work the floor well, but they are not as elastic as they once were, and somehow my wing is now really painful. Not like tendonitis painful, like just irritated and weak.

I attempted the splits for the first time in like months… that was pretty awful… but not as bad as it could have been.

My hypermobile back that was once my favorite feature of my body is now my worst enemy as it just sways and does its own thing. It is quite irritating, but I know my core is ridiculously weak… soooo that’s fun… While runing I noticed my right foot peeling off the treadmill slightly sickled, I’m assuming it is from my ankle injury two years ago,  as it pushing from the top. My left foot has a hard time rolling down when stepping during the run, but I think it is because I am gripping my arch, or it is super tight… one or the other.

When doing free weights, I went through the standard port de bras, and my left side is quite stronger and more supported from my back as my right side started to grip in my trap… What was nice is that my shoulder blades are still layin’ rather flat. My neck has shortened but that’s because I am constantly hunched over a drawing pad or at the computer… So, I need to be mindful of that (I just corrected my awful posture)…

My calves are over working but my shins are fine. I had to stretch the crap out of them after running…. jogging…. power walking… yeah that is probably more accurate.

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3 days till I turn 30… I refuse to use the scale or measure body fat for getting back in shape… but I do know… that I don’t fit into my 32″ skinnies at the moment… Not cute. Nor do I fit into last summer’s 30″ short shorts.

 

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Getting it together…

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So, this week in ballet has been a great one. Tomorrow, National Ballet of Canada will premier Le Petit Prince which is almost completely sold out. Houston Ballet has been killing their triple bill program. And I am super behind with everything… But this week, a lot of my collaborative efforts paid off, so for me, this week has been really exciting.

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First, Lia Cirio snapped a photo of my work at the Met while watching her brother perform. The stationary sets for Cirio Collective have arrived and are on sale now. Click the photo below to shop ($15) Photo above and below are from Lia Cirio.
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Then, my collaborative efforts with Covet Dance came into fruition! Check out the first of the Fat Panda Screen Tees on Cotton…. Super cute! Pre-sale for $29.99!! Click the image below to shop.

 

My summer is filling up with great master classes. An open master class series that I will be doing is in collaboration with Fisher Fine Arts in the greater Phoenix area. I will be doing three master series while there. The first is for dance educators, the second for primary students, and the third for intermediate and advanced students. There are limited spaces available, so to reserve a spot please call 480.364.4650. It should be a lot of fun.

Also, I don’t know if it is open or not, but I will also be in Chicago in July… but I am not sure. Once I know the final details, I will let you know.

Saturday Morning Warm Ups

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Every Saturday morning dancers around the world hear their alarm clocks go off and they want to die. The physical demand for a dancer is extremely high, but the emotional and mental demand on a dancer is just as high if not higher… Saturday mornings we are cursed with having to wake up at the butt-crack of dawn to go to class. For professionals, they just had a performance the night before and they now have to get up, go to class, rehearse and perform 1-2 times on Saturdays. It is awful… And for students, for some unholy reason, ballet teachers take Saturdays as a day to dance early so you can get out early…. The concept is awful. Most dancers are at the studio all night on Fridays, and have to return to ballet class by 10:00 AM, which means you have to be at the studios warming up at 9:30ish, which probably means you are up at 7:00 to get ready, eat, let the food digest, and commute to the studios.. This concept has plagued the ballet world for who knows how long… I blame some soviet teacher back in the day wanting to capitalize on off time… #justsayin

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So, with that being said, a lot of students have written in asking what a proper warm is… Truthfully… it varies by body type, and what injuries you have or are prone to. Usually, a good warm up consists of core muscles, finding your center, articulation through the back, a quick warm up through the feet and knees, and stretching out anywhere that is tight or sore.

Everyone’s warm up is different… mine takes about 45 minutes because I have to warm up a lot because of hip surgeries and a lack of natural ballet needs… I also don’t dance regularly anymore, so I have to start prior to even getting to the studios. If I know I am going to be taking company class or any open ballet class that morning I need to take a really hot shower and crack my ankles, and open the tops of my arches. I then have to eat a steel cut oatmeal and two bananas or I will cramp and die somewhere between degagés and ron de jambes. I also eat hard boiled eggs, toast with peanut butter and avocado… and coffee cake (#fatpandaproblems).

Before I leave I make sure I have everything packed in my herschel dance bag. Gatorade for barre, water bottle for center, coffee to go because I live off it. Trigger point Foam roller, foot roller, theraband, trash bags, sweatpants, variety of legwarmers, dancewear, sewing kit, ballet shoes like 3 different pairs, headphones, headband because my bangs are super fierce right now and my cell phone….

Once I get to the studio and pay for open class, and I change, headphones go in my ears and I find a spot to start warming up.

I start with pilates 100’s…. core hold, and pushups… I write the alphabet with my feet and ankles making sure I articulate all the way through my feet. Then I lay on the floor and start warming up my hips and back…. Tight hips and flexible back is a fun combo to try warming up…. I then stretch out my hip flexors, and hamstrings, and quite my rib cage because after all of the rolling on the floor my rips tend to open… plus I am a big splayer in real life. I sit in my lower back and let my ribs pop open all the time… I could cut someone’s eye with how bad the lower portion of my ribs splay. I then roll through my feet  to relevé in first and second. I cheat in fifth and just check the line. I do some tendus to feel the backs of my legs and then stretch it all out. Splits. Then ready to take class.

Usually, when I take class I have a goal… like petit allegro or pirouettes. So I warm up and take class accordingly. Now that I am a fat panda… I am not really an overall dancer… And because of my body, depending on what is hurting… I avoid certain exercises… or my body tires out really fast so I have to pace myself. If I am focusing on pirouettes, I won’t do a lot of combinations on relevé because I would die, twist my ankle and fall during across the floors.

So… what is a proper warm up for ballet class? Whatever works for your body. A girlfriend of mine has really tight hamstrings so she spends her entire warm up stretching out her legs. Another friend, he has a really tight back, like so tight some days arabesque does not happen for him… So spends his time doing all these modern exercises and yoga positions to get his back going. Another friend of mine is a quad gripper so he spends a lot of time stretching out his quads and warming up hamstrings. Everyone is different…

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