To Return or Not?

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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 per week. Non-surgical treatments (Epsom Salt soaks, acupuncture, acupressure, cortisone shots and even ultrasound guided radiofrequency ablation – which is sounds scarier than it is) helped temporarily, but eventually dancing full-out become impossible. Rolling up onto demi-pointe was painful; even everyday walking in comfortable sneakers hurt. If I stood high up enough on my toes (e.g., en pointe or on 3-inch heels), I could roll through and past the neuroma in the ball of my foot. However, in flat ballet slippers or low heels (like 1-inch character shoes), my weight rested squarely on the ball of my foot, radiating pain to my third and fourth toes.

Stubbornly, I kept trying to dance but eventually stopped; I had to stay on flat or mark steps whenever I put weight on my left foot. After years of avoiding surgery for Morton’s Neuroma, I finally gave up and gave in. Due to work and family obligations, however, I couldn’t fit surgery in for another 5 months! During that period, I missed ballet but also felt strangely relieved too, no longer rushing to and from class squeezed in between meetings and errands.

In the meantime, on other adult ballet blogs I found similarly ambivalent feelings towards ballet. Last year Nikki (profiled on ABP) of Mercietchatons also had surgery and during recovery wrote, “You’d think I’d be dying to go to dance. But I don’t. I want to be normal again most of all.” Nikki returned to class but noted, “sadly a lot of the Adult Ballet-er blogs I followed have gone silent.” I was touched by the insightful, articulate and self-aware posting by Zoe (also profiled on ABP) of Bush Ballerina on why she decided to stop dancing this summer. Blogger Rheumatic Princess admitted, “I’m in such a ballet funk. I really just don’t want to go at all, right now.

5 months post surgery: I’ve endured a slow but steady recovery that progressed from barely putting weight on my left foot and using my hands to bend my toes to walking 2 miles and pointing my toes unassisted. Physically, I may be ready to return to ballet but ask, why?

My reasons for “why not” are:

  • Money (gas, parking, class fees, gas)
  • Time (a 45-minute commute each way to and from the studio for a 1½ hour class)
  • Preparation (changing on the run; remembering necessities like a water bottle, shorts to wear over my leotard, change for parking, etc.; putting up my hair at red lights)
  • Guilt (I’m not a pre-professional teenager and thus have trouble justifying devoting so much time, money and energy to ballet).
  • Fear (Will my foot hurt? Will I be able to dance?  If so, will I ever return to my previous level?)

My reasons for “why” are:

  • I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t try at least a couple of classes again
  • Ballet is one of the few forms of exercise I actually like
  • Ballet is a unique pursuit among 40-something suburbanite women (that I know)
  • I love and miss dancing ballet

During recovery, the only ballet step I’ve executed outside of physical therapy and on my own at home was relevé (on both feet) to put away dishes in the kitchen. I’ve tried to relevé on my left foot alone only a few times and for no longer than 2-3 fraught seconds. Was I really ready? A professional ballerina friend was encouraging but advised, “Take it slow and don’t be frustrated by not being able to do what you used to do.”

Fast forward to after my first class back, which I’ll discuss in another post: I enjoyed it! I survived class and fulfilled my 3 criteria of success:

  • I didn’t fall or hurt myself
  • I didn’t hurt or make anyone else fall
  • I didn’t get in anyone’s way

The disciplined barre exercises, muscle memory/ingrained technique for combinations (on both sides), live piano music, and my welcoming teacher and classmates all made me feel like I returned home after a long trip. I’m rusty, weak and out of shape, but at least I’m back.

Image via Flickr User Kryziz Bonny via Creative Commons License 

Misty Copeland: Bringing Ballet Back to the Limelight

From the ballet Coppelia

Photo By Gilda N. Squire (Gildasquire) (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

As I pedaled through my workout on the bike at the gym, the television caught my eye when I glimpsed a tutu and pointe shoes on the nightly news. Ballet’s presence in pop culture’s spotlight is rare and fleeting. However, occasionally, the ballet world sneaks into the day’s top headlines. I was thrilled to see Misty Copeland’s smiling face lighting up the screen, and the news banner announced her most recent triumph. On June 30, shining star Misty Copeland continued her rise to mainstream fame with the announcement of her promotion to principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre. Not only is she now ranked as a leading performer, Copeland is the company’s first black female dancer to achieve this commendable status.

At age thirteen, Copeland began her training at San Pedro City Ballet and continued to Lauridsen Ballet Center and Francisco Ballet School. She found her home with American Ballet Theatre after attending their summer intensive and joining the junior company in 2000. The following year, she joined the professional company as a corps de ballet member. Six years later, Copeland became a soloist. After her most recent promotion last Wednesday, Copeland is now one of the leading stars of the company.

I hope to see Copeland perform live someday, but until then, I’m amazed as I watch her online videos. Her technique, enhanced by her stunning facility and musicality, is remarkably stunning. Her athletic musculature adds an unstoppable power to her grace, making her a surreal yet dynamic ballerina. Most compelling is her expressive face, which draws the audience in with undeniably pure joy.

As her stunning dancing propelled her higher through the company ranks, it also attracted the attention of those outside of the ballet world. Her television and magazine appearances have nearly made her a household name, a rarity for professional ballet dancers. Most recently, she graced the cover of Time Magazine and was featured as one the publication’s “100 most influential people.”

Her genuine, down-to-earth personality attracts a dedicated fan base, and she serves as a role model for countless young women, whether dancers or not. As she continues to grace the stages of the Met, surely her popularity will continue to soar, and her dancing will continue to make history for years to come.

New Feature: Submit Your Personal Ballet Story or Guest Blog Post!

abp-submit-postWe’re now piloting a new feature here at Adult Ballerina Project –you can now submit your own personal ballet stories directly to ABP to be published!

At ABP, we frequently like to feature writing by others about their triumphs as well as struggles in ballet, including  personal stories, too! We also welcome guest articles, interviews, how-tos, and more!

You can submit using the form below, or e-mail guest post ideas or articles to aballerinaproject@gmail.com. I look forward to reading your ideas and submissions!

Please complete the required fields.
Please select your image(s) to upload.

Image modified with Creative Commons License, Source Flickr User LMAP

How to Make Blog + Social Media Scheduling Easy: CoSchedule Blogging Tool Review

Finding time to blog is tough, but finding time to blog and post social media for that blog can be even tougher. That’s why I first tried CoSchedule a few months ago, and honestly, I’m in love with it. Here’s a quick video overview of what CoSchedule can do:

I started using CoSchedule a few months ago for Adult Ballerina Project and I also used it as part of my job, too.

What is CoSchedule?

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It is a drag-and-drop editorial calendar for WordPress that puts your blog posts and social media messages on the same schedule. It beats out the normal calendar provided in WordPress (and other calendar plugins) with the social media add-in. I love that CoSchedule has a “drag and drop” option so that if you want to quickly move a post from one day to another, you don’t have to log in to WordPress and change the scheduled date/time. You can also move a scheduled post to drafts and a draft to the calendar.

Key Features:

Here’s a list of other key features CoSchedule lists as including:

  • Drag-And-Drop Editorial Calendar
  • Schedule Social Media While You Blog
  • Save Time, Grow Traffic
  • Easily Re-Schedule Old Blog Content
  • Lightweight WordPress Plugin
  • Automated Social Publishing
  • Simple Team Communication
  • All-In-One Publishing Solution
  • No More WordPress Hacking

What platforms work with CoSchedule?

CoSchedule works with WordPress, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Buffer, and even Google+ Pages (using a to Buffer). One of my favorite was to use CoSchedule is to push posts to Buffer, so that I can re-arrange them using Buffer’s built-in scheduling system (pre-set times set by you). It makes it super easy to rearrange the order of your posts and even remove things last-minute if you need to — like if you discovered an error in a post and don’t want to share it again, but you’re on the go and only have your phone.)

While CoSchedule has no mobile app at the moment (a downside) — if you push to Buffer, you can have access via their mobile app to edit and change things on the go!

Multiple Blogs and Users

I love that you can have multiple blogs (great if you run many of them) and multiple users. While I don’t currently take advantage of these, I’m looking forward to using the multiple users functionality when my interns start. You can even set tasks for users (or yourself, for that matter — I often set tasks for myself so I remember certain things I want to include in social media posts in the future!)

See your top posts

I love that CoSchedule will tell you how often and on what platforms your posts get shared on. I also love that you can see what your top posts are, either over a specific time period or all time. Here’s ABP’s top posts of all time by social sharing:

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Other Integrations

I love that you can connect Bit.ly, Google Analytics, and Google calendar to CoSchedule, too! It makes it super easy to help track of how posts and social media is doing.

Test it Out!

If you want to test to see if you’ll love CoSchedule as much as I do for all your blogging needs, CoSchedule offers a free trial.  You can also extend your trial for every social media account you link up to CoSchedule (which I did when testing it out!

 

Happy National Running Day!

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I don’t often write about my running anymore here, but since National Running Day is today, I figured I’d share a little bit about why I run while doing ballet and how I recently started running again.

Why do you run?

I run because it relieves my stress and helps give me a cardio boost. Even though running has been one of the hardest things to start and re-start, I really enjoy it.

How do you plan to celebrate National Running Day?

Given my toe injury, I won’t be doing that much, but I’m hoping to make it out to one of Philly’s trails for a quick run if anything. I was hoping to participate in a specific National Running Day activity, but unfortunately that won’t be happening now.

How many miles have you run so far this year?

Not very many, but I just started getting back into running at the start of May. I’m hoping I can add more and more as this year continues.

What big events do you have on the race calendar so far this year?

I’m super super excited for the Philly 10K (a race that goes through Philadelphia’s neighborhoods) that’s put on by Philadelphia Runner.

Before I leave for a run you must have:

Lots and lots of water. I usually make sure to grab essentials (keys, phone, GPS watch, etc.) too.

Do you have one favorite app to track your runs?

My favorite app was RunKeeper, but now I use a Garmin Forerunner 220.

Who is your favorite running partner?

HQ by the river!

HQ by the river!

HQ. We run pretty much every run together. (This photo was taken on national running day a few years ago!)

What races have you ran so far this year?

I haven’t run one yet, trying to pick a 5K to run in the next few weeks, so if your near Philly and have a recommendation, let me know!

If you had to give someone one piece of advice about running what would it be?

Same as I would for ballet, don’t give up! It doesn’t necessarily get easier, but it does get more enjoyable.

Describe your relationship with running in one word:

Difficult.