This week’s ballerina profile is Nikki from Mercitchatons. She seems like a great fit for Adult Ballerina Project’s 100th post because she was one of the first adult ballet blogs I came across and inspired me to do a 30 day split challenge (and we’ll both be doing another one in April!
Adult Ballerina Project: When did you start doing ballet as an adult?
Nikki: I started at 26.
ABP: Did you ever take lessons as a kid?
Nikki: Yes, between the ages of 3-8 I was doing ballet. I remember it very fondly and never let the idea of it go when I left. I only left because of family financial difficulties.
ABP: Why did you decide to take ballet as an adult?
Nikki: I wanted to go back to ballet when I was 16/17 but school got in the way and a lot of other things to. I finally got around to it in my mid 20s. I can’t explain the full reason of wanting to go back to ballet other than doing what you do at the barre. It’s so engrained in you and you either love it or hate it and become a ballet robot and need to do you tendus and dégagés like it’s nobody’s business.
ABP: Where do you take classes?
Nikki: I go to Alderwood Dance Spectrum. It’s a city north of Seattle. The school’s been there for many years and the Director/Owner is a great woman and dancer. I love the children and fellow students I dance with and I couldn’t ask for a better place to dance. I don’t ever feel judged or competitive.
ABP: What is your favorite part about ballet?
Nikki: There are so many parts of ballet I love. I love expression through slight movement. I love doing barre work, monotonous brain exercises that you eventually learn as second nature. It’s physical building aspect. The music. The history.
ABP: What is your least favorite part?
Nikki: Mostly my personal limitations and becoming extremely frustrated with it. Which isn’t ballet’s fault. Just my adult brain and body. Memorization is hard to. One month you’ll have all the positions down and proper when requested, and then you don’t do it for a month and focus on something else and then you completely forget and they ask you out of the blue and you’re like “durrrr… croise … what direction arms- where?”
ABP:Who/What is your ballet inspiration?
Nikki: Zenaida Yanowsky, she’s tall which is very unusual for a principal dancer to be. She shows great character and excellent execution in her technique. Yulia Stepanova, a very little known corphyee in the Mariinsky theater. She’s absolutely gorgeo . Phenomenal. She’s strong, beautiful technique, and her epaulment is gorgeous. Evengnia Obratzsova, she’s so cute, so small, so fragile, yet a beautiful emote-r ballerina. In my growing theme you can see strong technique and emotional elegance are my favors and the students of my school, they’re beautiful sweet girls and boys who are very interested in what they do and how to do it better.
Nikki: The idea that I will feel bad if I do not go. That I will lose progress I had gained two folds. That I always need to get better and work harder. That by coming to class, the girls and boys who look to me for answers, will have them and be inspired too to keep being beautiful as they are.
Nikki: Not currently, no. I may take hip hop depending how my schedule opens up. Usually though if it does open up, it would just be more ballet classes. Maybe a contemporary class too- HAH! Ideally my Teacher would want me to take tap- yea no thanks.
Nikki: I’m literally an art school drop out. I spent most of my HS career collecting college AP credits for fine art. So I dabble in illustration, painting, drawing, etc. I also sew, as I spent time at the Art Institute of Seattle. I learned how to draft patterns and sew by industrial standards. I like to bake and make obscene sugar cookies. I also collect all things Mickey- well, almost. I limit myself so my house isn’t swamped in the stuff. Lets just say I’m a Disney fan.
Nikki: Warm up and care for your body. I know you want to get better and stronger but as adults our body is not adjusted to strenuous repetitive activities. Use leg warmers and clothes to keep you warm, and warm up 15-30 min before you even start barre. Stretch any free moment you get, and do it frequently. Love and care for yourself and my favorite things to keeping me happy after a hard class is hot both, epsom salt, and a glass of wine. Cheesecake too for good measure 🙂
Nikki: Know it’s okay to mess up. To be slower or to work out what they’re doing slower. Your body has not been doing ballet for 12 years of your life(and if you have, well you’ve been on break maybe so…). You will work your way there and always remember you are magnificent and someone is always watching!