Kathryn Morgan’s 12 Week Challenge — Day 1

If you don’t follow Kathryn Morgan on social media, then you might not know that she’s performing at the Kennedy Center at the end of March. To help her prepare and get fit for it, she invited her readers to join her over the next 12 weeks to get fit, strong, and in amazing shape — by launching her 12 Week Challenge:

Morgan has created two versions of the challenge – regular and light. She’s also created workout calendars for the next 12 weeks (although only January is available right now).

Right now, I’m probably basing most of what I’m doing off of the Light schedule, although I expect to move everything around a lot (based on class, work and other workout schedules) since my life can seem so hectic at times. I’ve also done a lot of pilates and running lately, so I don’t want those to fall to the wayside for this challenge (since there’s only a day or two of core and cardio each week).

I don’t expect my workout schedule to change too much (other than coming back from ballet after a one month hiatus), but I love that this challenge will help me be more accountable and track my workouts more. I plan on keeping a journal of it here so that I can track my progress.

Here’s what I did for Day 1 (January 4):

  • 2 miles cardio on the treadmill
  • 15 minutes Pilates Flow (from this DVD set — which I love!)

Plan for tomorrow is to do follow along to one of Kathryn Morgan’s barre and center videos on YouTube (check out this great YouTube playlist with video suggestions for the challenge by fellow adult ballerina Mary Fran). I’ll also probably at least throw in a quick pilates flow as well with some light stretching.

Are you taking part in Kathryn Morgan’s 12 Week Challenge? Let me know in the comments!

Top 2015 Adult Ballerina Projects Posts

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Top 2015 Adult Ballerina Projects Posts

Dec 29, 2015 - adultballerinaproject.com - 902
My Favorite (Ballet) Things with Johanna of Pointe Til You Drop - Adult Ballerina Project

If you're in the adult ballet community online, you've no doubt heard of the blog Pointe Til You Drop written by Johanna Aurava of Finland. We're delighted she was able to talk to ABP about some of her favorite ballet things... 6 Favorite Ballet Dancers?

3 Essential Stretches to Improve Your Turnout - Adult Ballerina Project

Whether you're trying to improve your flexibility, warm up for class, or just relieve some muscle soreness, stretching can be extremely beneficial. For this tutorial, we've picked our favorite basic hip-opening stretches inspired by our favorite yoga poses and in-class exercises. Each of these poses can be modified to be either more or less intense, ...

Dec 29, 2015 - adultballerinaproject.com - 1008
Back to the Basics: Five Tips for Polished Dancing - Adult Ballerina Project

Ballet is an intricate, complicated style of dance. Whether training begins at a young age or later in life, the technique is challenging and requires not only great strength of the body, but of the mind, as well. Sometimes, successfully memorizing combinations and releasing the distracting thoughts of the day is a triumph in itself.

Dec 29, 2015 - adultballerinaproject.com - 742
To Return or Not? - Adult Ballerina Project

Many adult ballet dancers take a break for various reasons like work, family and school obligations, health issues and financial constraints. Returning to ballet after any hiatus is often difficult. Even harder for me was deciding whether or not to return. Until 10 months ago and despite having Morton's Neuroma, I attended 2-3 ballet classes ...

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Finding the Best Fit for Your Ballet Soft Shoes - Adult Ballerina Project

Fitting the right ballet shoe is somewhat like finding a brassière or the right shade of makeup: it's almost impossible to buy the right one unless you've tried plenty of them on. Even if you have a pair of shoes that you've worn before and that seem to work well, it's always a good idea ...

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Check out these core workouts to help improve your stability + more for ballet! - Adult Ballerina Project

A Roundup of Core Workouts To Improve Your Stability for Ballet.

Dec 29, 2015 - adultballerinaproject.com - 919
The Off Day Ballet Dictionary - Adult Ballerina Project

Messy classes are unavoidable, despite our best efforts. So, perhaps we should make lemonade and think of off days as a unique subset of ballet with its own rules and definitions. (Apologies in advance to ballet teachers worldwide) Arabesque à la Seconde: The proper name for "a la sebesque".

Dec 29, 2015 - adultballerinaproject.com - 860
5 Easy Remedies for Your Post-Class Soreness - Adult Ballerina Project

For a ballerina, there's no bigger pill to swallow than starting a warmup with all-over muscle soreness. You worked your buns off the day before, and today, you're feeling the consequence. Your legs each weigh a ton, your arms are like cooked noodles and your abs are so sore that even a chuckle sends you into the ...

Getting Enough Sleep Over the Holidays: REM-Fit Review

Disclosure: I received REM-Fit in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

It can be really hard for me to get a good night’s sleep — especially during the holiday months, when both my work and life can get pretty hectic. Plus, I really need my sleep now that I’ve stepped up my fitness game: running 3-4 times a week, Pilates, and ballet (although, for now, ballet is on a hiatus for the holidays — more on that later).

So I jumped at the chance when Fitfluential offered me the opportunity to check out the following products to see if they would help with my sleep issues:

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I’ve struggled a lot lately to find the perfect pillow that would help me sleep better (especially since I can get quite grumpy when I don’t get enough sleep!). I’ve bought really stiff pillows to see if they would help (they didn’t), I’ve also had really fluffy pillows that were huge (that wasn’t great either). However, REM-Fit’s 300 series pillow has been great so far, and the perfect combination of the two: the right amount of fluffiness and stiffness as well as the perfect height. I’ve been calling it my “Goldilocks” pillow for being jusssssssssssst right. It’s been the perfect fit for me and has helped me sleep a lot better, whether I sleep on my stomach (yes, I know its bad for you, but it happens), my side, or on the rare occasion, my back.

Things I love about this pillow:

  • It’s adjustable: There’s cute little fiber-fill on the inside that you can leave in or take out to get the pillow to the perfect height for you. I like to leave it all in, but it’s nice to have options, too.
  • It’s cool: There’s a ton of features that help keep this pillow a nice, cool temperature.
  • It helps protect against allergens: Allergies are my worst enemy, pretty much year round, so I love this feature. A lot.

REM-Fit also sent me a sleep/activity tracker that’s been great for tracking my sleeping progress as well as my many activities. I also love that it has a watch face, which my previous tracker did not.

So if you’re looking for a great gift for the athletes in your life and you know they struggle to get the perfect night’s sleep — REM-Fit might be the perfect fit for them. Plus, you can use my code, KG20, for 20% off in the REM-FIT store!

How do you make sure you get enough sleep when life gets busy?

Disclosure: I received REM-Fit in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Ballerina Profile: Elizabeth Bell-Perkins

me en pointe NohoWhen did you start doing ballet as an adult?

8 years old?

Did you ever take lessons as a kid?

Yes, but I drifted off to other things as many teenagers do, going back to classes for a few months at a time,

Why did you decide to take ballet as an adult?

As a way to feel at-home returning to college as a young adult, I always took class, first at a 2 year SUNY school in NY state taking dance composition, ballet and modern, and then at 4 years colleges, always minored, so to speak in dance.

When I first moved to Massachusetts to attend a 4 year college, I attended a very nontraditional 4 year college and my majors were Political Science and Dance!  Only in the Pioneer Valley of western MA could you do that! It is called the 5-Colleges area- Mt. Holyoke, Smith, (all female), Umass Amherst, Amherst College and Hampshire. Once you are registered at one, you can take pretty much all your other classes at any one of the other 5 colleges.

This allowed me to experience many different dance forms including African (to age myself, we danced to “Free Nelson Mandela”), modern including Labanotation and a smattering of kinesiology, at Hampshire, ballet at Mt. Holyoke, Improvisational at Smith.

Where do you take classes?

After turning 40, I attended a really great local studio called Ballet Soleil in Williamsburg, MA owned by Kelly Torza who studied at Northern Connecticut Ballet, Walnut Hill School for the Arts, Greater Hartford Academy for Performing Arts and Hartford Ballet.  After high school she attended the Hartford Camerata Conservatory receiving certification in dance pedagogy and instruction.

I currently attend Massachusetts Academy of Ballet in Holyoke, Northeastern School of dance under Antony De Vecchi, Artistic Director and Ballet Master who danced with the ABT.  He also appeared in 12 Broadway shows and in the national tour of “Man of La Mancha” which he  directed and choreographed. Nominated for Emmy Award for his work with A Winter’s Tale for WNDT (New York) as well as recipient of the Dance Critics Circle Award for the best Broadway musical on tour.  He has partnered such names as Alicia Markova, Juliet Prowse and Chita Rivera.

When I can deal with the traffic across the CT River, I attend Amherst Ballet, under  Executive Director and Teacher Sueann Townsend who has performed in many places across the U.S. and Europe.

The Massachusetts Academy of Ballet in Holyoke is a wonderful school, founders and directors, Rose and Charles Flachs are active with and committed to, the community and have expanded adult classes in the last few years.

What is your favorite part about ballet?

The traditional continuity, challenge and feeling like you are part of a world-wide group.

While I never attained professional status, it is an artistic, grounding and physically satisfying activity.

What is your least favorite part?

At my age it is very hard for me to look at myself in the mirrors- I never wear leotards- just supportive tanks, briefs, cut-off tights and a top. Getting to class can be difficult- the closest studio still takes a 35-minute drive then a walk up to 4th floor. I have work, kids, an elderly mom and other commitments that I constantly have to juggle.

Who/What is your ballet inspiration?

Dame Margot Fonteyn, Misty Copeland, Martha Graham, Fred Astaire (his talent and skill will never be matched), Gene Kelly and of course, Mikhail. Like many female ballet dancers, the characters in the Red Shoes, Turning Point and now the Black Swan, although I view that as more of a physiological thriller.

What motivates you to keep dancing?

Fills creative need, fitness, and social connections with like-aged fellow dancers.  We are also dedicated to supporting each other in dance and life.

(get’s me out of the house!)

Do you take any other dance classes?

Infrequent master classes that come up in Pioneer Valley and sometimes NYC such as Finis Jung.

What are your hobbies outside of ballet?

Medical research and public health/writing, reading (everything!) baking, designing and selling decorated cookies and going to Maine to our land on a lake for physical and emotional healing.

What advice would you like to give to those who want to start ballet or have just started?

Find a studio that is dedicated to nurturing the adult dancer.  There are more and more adult-only studios opening.  It is important that the teacher can design the class to meet all levels. You will find much support there!

Do you have a blog?

No, but I have new biz making decorated cookies- including ballet themes!

Hilltowncookies.com

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Ballet Instructor Profile: Sarah Arnold

402866_2821845154489_388810707_nHow long have you been dancing?

I began dancing 45 years ago.

Why do you dance ballet?

I began dancing classical ballet because my father played Chopin waltzes on the piano and I loved to dance to his music. Whenever I would be with him, there was always wonderful, inspiring and rich classical music.
I continue to dance because that is when I feel most alive.

Who/What inspires you to dance?

Anna Pavlova has always been my inspiration. I love that she was an international ambassador of ballet, devoted her life to the art and believed that art should be taught along with reading and writing. She was the epitome of the first classical ballerina with her slender figure, arched feet and dark intense look. Some of my favorite photos are of Pavlova with her swans. I can just imagine her affinity with nature that translated seamlessly into her signature “Dying Swan”.

A particular memory stays with me of Pavlova’s exhibit that travelled to Legion of Honor Museum in San Francisco in the early ’80’s. They displayed her pointe shoes, costumes, photographs, letters and a movie of her dancing. Her pointe shoes were the most dainty and light I had ever seen.

I am inspired to dance in response to the music. It brings forth emotions, a sense of peace and personal expression.

DSC_0015How long have you taught ballet?

I have taught ballet full time for 32 years.

Where do you teach ballet?

I currently teach at Pacific Academy of Ballet in Mountain View, CA. I directed two schools of my own for 25 years and directed a professional company school for Ballet Idaho in the 90’s. I sold the schools and moved back to the Bay Area with the intention of no longer directing, but wished to concentrate entirely on teaching.

Who do you teach?

I have taught all ages and levels but now just teach Intermediate – Advanced pre-professional dancers. Additionally, I teach private lessons for the most serious students. I have taught the Adult classes and Ballet Conditioning as well.

What other types of dance do you teach (if any)?

(Ballet) Dance conditioning. I love to explore the mind/body connection in dance and conditioning.

No other dance form.

Why do you teach ballet?

I teach ballet because as a late starter, I am on a never-ending constant quest to understand the technique for all bodies and mindsets. This is particularly true in America where students do not audition for entry in most schools. It is challenging and rewarding. I love those “ah-ha” moments, when the idea clicks for me and the student! I believe that the method that works well for you, is the correct one.

If someone tells me there is “one true way”, I run the opposite direction. Seriously.

What is your favorite ballet step to teach and why?

I love to teach jumps because it is something that a lot of people avoid but it is very freeing. As a student, I loved adagio. I find it very useful to teach for two reasons— it shapes the essential form for all the other steps and it develops a sense of artistry in each student. However, jumping is when I see kids smile. They may groan, but they smile!

Jumps are the ultimate fun and I sense that it is natural for me. I am a fast talker and mover, so the movement comes easily.

What advice/tips would you give to adults who want to begin ballet for the first time/adults starting ballet again?

Don’t put limits on yourself but don’t expect your body to be the same one as before. Your mind may know more, your body may catch up depending upon your age and facility; but be realistic. Enjoy the moment because ballet has a way of focusing the present moment. When the plies, start— let your day fade away.

Anything else to add?

My favorite ballet is “Giselle”. My favorite pointe shoes are Freed. I believe that classical ballet is one of the few living arts where dancers express themselves through their bodies and music. Our bodies are the art and both are sacred. Used together to create art, is penultimate.

My least favorite step is any turn. They feel entirely unnatural but I love to teach them because I want to prove that anyone can turn well. Ballet is a science and complex with many exceptions to the rule. (The rule is the student)!