Ballerina Profile: Chris from Leotards and the Buns in Them

Chris does some ballet attitudes while mounting his bike while he does cyclocross racing.

Chris from Leotards and the Buns in Them recently talked to Adult Ballerina Project about why he does ballet and what advice he gives to his fellow ballerinas. As I’ve mentioned before, I first found Chris’s blog when I was looking for instructions on how to build my own barre, and I found them on his website–it worked wonderfully and I only spent about 30 dollars. You can find out how to make your own here.

Adult Ballerina Project: When did you start doing ballet as an adult?

Chris: I was in college, so I’d say 22, 23.

ABP: Did you ever take lessons as a kid?

C: No, but I always wanted to.  For some reason I couldn’t get up the nerve to tell anyone I wanted to be a dancer.  I happily played sports instead, baseball, soccer and eventually tennis. However I did get a yearly dose of dancing, we did square dancing in elementary and junior high. I didn’t care much for it at all, until I realized I got to be close to some girls who I had huge crushes on. However, in my mind those two styles of dancing weren’t even in the same galaxy, square dancing didn’t do it for me.

ABP: Why did you decide to take ballet as an adult?

C: I realized that if you wanted to do something you should go ahead and do it. It’s a total cliche, but life is too short not to do something you always wanted to do. I found myself with the time and the means and couldn’t think of a reason not to try. Plus, I had a class with two girls who were ballet students in the conservatory program and after talking to them all semester long I finally got up the nerve and signed up for a class, and fell in love with it from class number one.

ABP: Where do you take classes?

C: Currently I go to the School of the Kansas City Ballet. They just moved into a beautifully rehabbed building, a former powerhouse for the nearby Union Station and former post office. I’ve been to a long list of other schools since I started stretching across the country as I’ve moved around. I also try to drop into classes when I travel, Chicago, Portland, San Francisco…

ABP: What is your favorite part about ballet?

C: Everything, it’s such a liberating experience, it’s difficult to pick what would be my favorite.  But if forced to pick something, I’d say jumping or leaping.

ABP: What is your least favorite part?

C: Paying for class, those damn class cards it can get expensive, especially when your taking three classes a week. I’ve purposely never sat down and added up what I have spent on classes and dancewear. Cha-Ching!

I don’t much care for the injuries classes may or may not have caused or have aggravated. I’m currently on a two month hiatus, tendinitis and an injury from a bike accident, only a few more weeks to go though.

ABP: What motivates you to keep dancing?

C: It’s pretty simple, I just want to improve. I can be quite competitive at times and the thought of classmates improving while I’m not really gets me going. I know that I haven’t a future in ballet, but I keep at it regardless. That’s one reason I built myself a barre. There was talk about a performance opportunity for the adult open classes, which really peaked my interest, I’d love to be in a place where performance is a possibility.

ABP: Do you take any other dance classes?

C: No. But I’ve tried modern and jazz, they were fun but I think I’m a classical ballet kind of guy.

ABP: What are your hobbies outside of ballet?

C: I race cyclocross, a quirky form of cycling, it’s a f’ing blast!   It’s funny but several members of my cycling team are former dancers and we all have found that our background in ballet has enhanced our racing both physically and mentally.

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

C: Do it! It’s never too late.

More profiles:

Inspiration for Beginner Adult Ballerinas

English: Modern pointe shoes. The edge of the ...

 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Or anyone, really.

Watch this short (22 minute) documentary about the Alonzo King’s LINES Dance Center in San Francisco, California. It focuses on beginner ballet instructor Kathy Mata, who you can tell really loves her job and teaching beginners ballet. It’s great to see people from all backgrounds try ballet. What I really love is that Mata is in charge of a beginner ballet company, and they do 8 shows a year.

I really wish someone in Philly would do this. Does anyone know of any other studios that do?

(Thanks Legal Ballerina, for the link I stole it from your sidebar).

How do you workout?

exercise ball

(Photo credit: keepon)

While I’d love to be in ballet every single day of the week, it’s just not possible given that I’m a broke college student and that I’m fairly busy. I know that I’m lucky that I make it to 2-3 classes a week. And if you’ve been following the blog, you know I’m out of ballet for at least another week (and it’s so hard not to go but I know it’s better for my ankle injury this way–I’m working on strengthening it and babying it as much as possible).

But since I can’t be in a studio every day of the week, I’ve started exercising in different ways, usually some sort of toning using either my foam roller (my favorite piece of equipment for working out sore muscles after a tough workout or ballet) and my new stability ball. I’m really looking forward to using the stability ball to workout my core since I could definitely use more core strength for my ballet.

Here’s some of the workouts I’ve been testing out, now that I haven’t been able to go to ballet lately or hit the gym and the treadmill like I used to:

Foam Roller Back Stretch: Haven’t done this one yet, I’ll let you know how it feels tonight!

Stability Ball Roll Out: Another set I’m testing this evening.

More Stability Ball Moves: I love the reverse crunches, ball curls, and pike. I can’t manage to figure out the skier without falling off (and Prevention’s video link is broken). Let me know if you’ve done it or a similar move.

Foam Roller Workout: The butterfly lift and the shell curl are wonderful exercises (the shell curl is great for rolling out your lower legs). Boyfriend said the scissor balance was tough but felt like it was a good workout while I couldn’t manage to do it. This link also has great recommendations for foam rollers. I personally love my theraroll. You can check out some muscle release techniques from them here.

Theraband Exercises: My ankles are in desperate need of strengthening so I love the first exercise she snows since it’s how to properly do it. Thanks for the link DisneyBallerina!

What exercises do you do to help strengthen your ballet muscles?

TweetChat Recap

For those who missed out on TweetChat last night, about five of us Adult Ballerinas chatted about all sorts of things from things we struggled with in classes like double pirouettes and arms placement (it’s good to know you’re not alone in your struggles!) as well as attending a summer intensive together this summer. We’re looking into the Sun King Dance Adult Dance Camp (and DisneyBallerina has the summer ’13 schedule here ) because they offer camp to nonprofessionals at any level.

If anyone else has summer intensive suggestions we could attend let me know! I’m probably definitely doing one of Koresh’s (here in Philly) which only run about 2 hours a day, but they always hold classes in the evenings afterwards as well for myself since I didn’t get to attend last year.

Also, for those who didn’t get to participate during Tweetchat because of time issues, let me know what times/days work best for you and where your from (feel free to send this to me in an e-mail if you want to keep it private). It’d be great to have more participants!

Don’t forget—#adultballerinas twitter chat!

Twitter chat will be at 930 pm EST! Feel free to comment below with your twitter name so other people can follow you before we start!

Mine is @kristengillette.

Well be using #adultballerinas with every tweet if you want to follow along.

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