Ballerina Profiles: Isabelle Roybal of thespicymermaid.com

This week’s adult ballerina profile is of Isabelle Roybal, a fellow adult ballerina and follower of the Adult Ballerina Project. Check out her own blog thespicymermaid.com

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

Isabelle Roybal: I started up again in the beginning of September 2012. At first I did DVD’s at home, but shortly after I found an adult only dance studio. It was meant to be.

ABP: Did you ever take lessons as a kid?

IR: I competed in artistic roller skating for 10 years and we took it regularly, but mainly worked on upper body movements since we had our own thing going on with our feet.

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

IR: At first, it was a desperate search for a weight loss program. I’ve gone through so many fads: Zumba, yoga, hula hooping, running, the gym, racquetball, the treadmill, circuit workouts. One day late August I came across an article about Mary Helen Bowers training Natalie Portman for “Black Swan”. I had an epiphany! I always loved the fluid and grand movements of ballet. I tried a couple of her DVD’s and went from there. Since skating isn’t an option for me, ballet was the obvious choice. Now I’m addicted and can’t think of much else.

Loving the tutu, Isabelle!

ABP: Where do you take classes?

IR: There is an adult ballet studio called Room To Dance only 10 minutes from my house. It’s convenient and very low cost. Jackpot!

ABP: What is your favorite part about ballet?

IR: I love the effortless look of obvious strength the most. When I skated I basically had 5 pound weights strapped to my feet. This is more freedom. Something I can really use to dance away my daily stresses.

ABP: What is your least favorite part?

IR: I haven’t had any physical issues yet but I know this will be my problem. I’ll be putting my all into it and I expect there will be some annoying injuries or obstacles to overcome especially at my age.

ABP: Who/What is your ballet inspiration?

IR: Me. Another reason for taking actual classes was that this was something I could do and do well. My daily job is one of basically tending to the needs of others. Kissing butt without question. Taking negativity with a smile. Ballet is mine. No one can take it from me.

ABP: What motivates you to keep dancing?

IR: Although I’m overweight now and shy in my “old” age, I’d love to be on stage again. I miss performing. I’ve always been a ham! Oh, and the shopping. I love shopping for ballet junk.

ABP: Do you take any other dance classes?

IR: As soon as I can get up the stairs to the studio without huffing and puffing I’d love to take ballroom and/or salsa. It’s like what I did when I skated but sans wheels!

ABP: What are your hobbies outside of ballet?

IR: I love my dogs. I have 3 chihuahuas that I love coming home to every day. I also couldn’t live without camping and travel. I’m lucky enough to have found a wonderful man to take me on tropical destinations at least once a year.

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

IR: What else could they say? At our age, we’ve obviously seen some stuff and been through some things. It’s scary to start a new adventure in life. I never, EVER thought I’d be leaping and jumping in skimpy clothes in front of people. But this isn’t high school. If there are mumblings, who cares?! I’m very very self conscious about my weight and I’m not even that big. It was more than worth the effort and it turned out everyone was awesome! Start small, you’ll want more.

ABP: Anything else you’d like to add?

IR: Don’t be afraid. Of anything. Except the tuna at Subway. *shudders*

Want to read more? Check out more profiles on David Wilson and Legal Ballerina.

TweetChat and Stretch Day #9

UPDATE: 930 PM EST for the tweet chat, sorry for any confusion!

So, I’m thinking TweetChat Sunday at 9:30 PM EST, hashtag #adultballerinas?

And here is my photo incase you didn’t catch it last night from Day 9:

My nose can touch my knees! (and my knees are slightly bent because they overextend, if they were straight they’d bend backwards!) I’ve been avoiding actual splits because my ankle is in SEVERE pain.

And favorite spam comment ever?

Advice from Ballet Instructors: Interview with Cynthia McCranie

Cynthie McCranie, an ex-ballet instructor took the time to talk to me about her 49 years of dance experience and gave some great advice to us ballet newbies (there is even some great stretching advice in there for those doing the #30daystretchchallenge)!

These photos are from a summer technique class Cynthia taught last year.

Adult Ballerina Project: How long have you been dancing?

Cynthia McCranie:  I began ballet lessons at age 4 1/2. Had to stop in 1998 after involved in a car accident. So,for around 35 years, I danced.

ABP: How long have you been doing ballet?

CM: Entire length of time in ballet is 49 years. I continued to teach after the auto accident.

ABP: Who/What inspired you to dance?

CM: Music inspires me and when I met Margot Fonteyn, I knew I was doomed. I was both exhaulted and depressed. Her artistry amazed and electrifid me, while at the same time I was depressed. I knew I would never achieve her stature in my art.

ABP: Where have you taught ballet and for how long?

CM: I am no longer teaching. For over 30 years I taught in the metro Atlanta area for my own studio and others. A few are: Atlanta Ballet (now called ABCDE- Atlanta Ballet Center of Dance Education), Smyrna School of Ballet, Dan & Company, Dance 411, Peachtree Presbyterian Fine Arts School, La Grange Ballet Theatre, Susan Chambers School of Theatre Dance, Georgia Ballet, Georgia Dance Academy, the Savannah Ballet plus many others.

ABP: Who do you teach (ages, gender, level, etc.)?

CM: I have taught ages 3 through adults, male and female. From the very beginning creative movement/ballet ages 3 & 4 through the advanced levels of Pre-professional teens and adult

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

CM:  My primary focus is ballet. I  also have taught modern, tap and jazz.

The class had three girls in the technique class, each on a different level.

ABP: Why do you teach ballet?

CM: There was no way I could live off the income of a professional company member in the Savannah Ballet. We were on a weekly wage, but it was very low compared to other professonals. So, I began teaching classes in the ballet school and took on extra duties to compensate my income.

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

CM: For the beginner adult my advice is to be sure and not take it so seriously that you can’t breathe! Enjoy your class,let yourself smile and perform as you learn. LAUGH at your mistakes sometimes. It IS important to take it seriously, but not to the point that it becomes dire for you. The majority of the adults I taught were very serious, smart and self-motivated. They entered the studio scared and very self concsious. I understand that, but my job as I saw it, was not to cut them down, but to raise them up. Having had a few instructors along the way who were very mean spirited and who traumatized me in class, I determined I would never repeat their behavior. So many knowledgable and talented teachers exist nowdays in every coner of the world, that  there is no excuse for a student to remain in a saddistic class. Sure, ballet is strenous and demanding. Taking class and working well  is why you are paying your money. There is a difference in working “had” and working “well.” Sometimes a student can work too hard (as I did as a young student) to the point of detrement. Balancing out knowing when to put 110% in and when to relax is part of every student’s ongoing learning curve. That just goes with the art form. You are re-training the body to do something that is physically unnatural. This requires great effort in order to make it appear effortless.

She made sure to give each girl appropriate corrections for their level.

When you are early for your class (I hope this is the case, anyway, lol) be sure to start with gente stretching on your own. The best thing to start with is usually the parallel calf and achilles stretch.Standing, facing the wall a few feet away, place your hands on the wall. Stand in a parallel 1st position and slowly slide one leg en arriere (to the rear.) Consciously breathe deeply an slowly as you continue the leg to a deep lunge. Stay in this position a while- a minute and a half  to 2 minutes and enjoy the stretch. Do the same with the other leg. You want to go as far as you can (ithout the heel releasing the floor) until you feel a good stretch along the back of the leg, especially on the back of the ankle.

ABP: Anything else you’d like to add?

CM: In conclusion, it is good to try new things and learn new skills. Ballet is incredibly rewarding. Just remember though, it can’t be learned in 6 lessons! Enjoy the journey. 

Better Pirouettes

Here’s a post from a fellow blogger on pirouettes! How did you perfect your pirouettes? What advice would you give to beginners?

I can’t wait to get back to working on pirouettes!

Injury Woes

I finally went to my university’s Student Health Services for my leg/ankle pain again this morning, and didn’t get great news. I was told it’s probably tendonitis (again…I just dealt with this in my right ankle a few months ago and took a significant amount of time off) and I’d have to spend a good month off of ballet (I’ve already cried because of how heartbreaking this is to me). I’m headed to my university’s hospital this afternoon for an x-ray to check for a stress fracture.

So while this means lots of time for stretching (I’ve been keeping up with the 30 day challenge and I’ll have a picture up later today since we’ve hit Day 7–one week–I can proudly now say that my nose can touch my knee while I’m reaching for my toes!), I was wondering:

For those of my ballerina friends who’ve unfortunately been injured before, how do you stay in ballerina shape while you can’t dance/how do you deal with boredom?

 

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