Ballerina Profile: Jessica Rosevear Fox

10150550_10103658194825129_715991065_n (3)When did you start doing ballet as an adult?

I started ballet when I was 31 and have been dancing for about two years now. I started pointe last September. I love it!

Did you ever take lessons as a kid?

I took ballet lessons for a few years in elementary school and quit after fifth grade. It was just something I did; I wasn’t passionate about it.

Why did you decide to take ballet as an adult?

I became really intrigued by ballet the summer I turned 31. I read a book where the mother was a former ballerina, and I sort of thought, “Oh yeah, ballet, that’s a thing.” I started watching ballet videos on YouTube, reading different ballet blogs, and looking at ballet-themed photos and posts on Pinterest. I became really interested in pointe work. It fascinated me. Finally, I decided to check out an adult ballet class with the goal of eventually getting to pointe.

Where do you take classes?

I take classes at a dance and yoga studio about ten minutes away from my house. The classes are small, and so I’ve been able to grow a lot in a short amount of time. It’s a really nice community there. I’ve taken other classes in different studios, both in the area and in the city, but nothing beats my local studio.

What is your favorite part about ballet?

I have so many! I’m really drawn to the emphasis on precision, even if I don’t always achieve it. I love the push to be both powerful and graceful simultaneously. I also love my pointe shoes. They are my prized possessions! I love the feeling of waking up the day after a great class and feeling the soreness that tells me I worked hard previous day. I also love grand allegro. Tendus are my favorite barre exercise. I have lots of favorite parts of ballet!

What is your least favorite part?

I have really tight hamstrings, so developpes and extensions in general are hard for me.

Who/What is your ballet inspiration?

I’m inspired by professional ballerinas, pointe shoes, classical ballet music, my ballet teacher, and other adult ballerinas who are out there making it happen, imperfect as we are!

What motivates you to keep dancing?

I’m motivated by my own goals. I love dancing en pointe, and it’s something you need to do consistently to keep it up.

Do you take any other dance classes?

No, just ballet.

What are your hobbies outside of ballet?

I run a literary magazine inspired by Virginia Woolf called Killing the Angel, and I recently wrote a short story called “After the Ballet”, now available on Amazon, in part inspired by the ballet world. I’m obsessed with French language, French culture, and lavender, so part of the story is set in France on a lavender farm! I also like cooking, knitting, and running.

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

I would say to go for it! Don’t worry about the reasons not to go; just try it out. Also, if you don’t like your studio, try others until you find the right one. In my experience, having the right teacher and the right environment makes a big difference.

Do you have a blog?

I have a website for my literary magazine and indie press.

Photo by Skyler Fox

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)!

Ballet Instructor Profile: Sharon Girard

sharonHow long have you been dancing?

I started ballet and dance at age 2.  I’m 61.  Off and on, let’s say 40 years?

Why do you dance ballet?

I love ballet.  No matter what I keep coming back.  My heart sings when I take class or teach.  When I stand tall at the barre nothing else matters.  The music makes me want to move and I feel whole again. (I have lots of medical issues, chronic pain, fibromyalgia, etc.)

Who/What inspires you to dance?

I am not inspired by outside influences.  It comes from within.  Ballet is not a question , it is an answer.  It is not a choice.  It just IS.

How long have you taught ballet?

I have taught off and on for many years.  I was fortunate to teach my daughter who would have rather danced hip hop but she took my class and stopped ballet when I stopped teaching because she only wanted to take with me.  At 33 she returned to class and still does from time to time now at age 35.

Where do you teach ballet?

Right now I am living at an adult retirement resort community.  I teach women over 55.  Many new to ballet.  They love it.  At this late age they finally get to do something they never did as a child or adult.  Have time to follow a dream and learn ballet!

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

I don’t teach any other dance.  I am ballet focused.  It’s all I know.

Why do you teach ballet?

I teach because there isn’t anything better than passing on the knowledge of something you really love.  I had just moved into the community, saw a beautiful unused dance studio and said why not?  Why not me?

What is your favorite ballet step to teach and why?

Something graceful but fun.  This week I’m teaching chasees across the floor.  Should be interesting….

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

Don’t think about the negatives.  Think about how much you will gain.  Take it for yourself.  Give it a try.  You’ll be surprised.  And don’t think you are too old, too damaged, too fat, too short or too anything….It’s your ME time. Just be in the moment.

Ballerina Profile: Kat H.

11248074_801941201893_3359701117220624683_nWhen did you start doing ballet as an adult?

3 weeks ago!

Did you ever take lessons as a kid?

Yes. I started when I was 2.5 and danced up until I was 21.

Why did you decide to take ballet as an adult?

I missed it terribly! I have been trying to be better about taking care of myself, and dance feels natural. The local studio started having adult ballet classes and I jumped at the chance!

Where do you take classes?

Lotus Studio in Salem Oregon

What is your favorite part about ballet?

The way my brain still remembers how to do it (even though my body isn’t listening yet) and how fast I’m seeing results. My posture is improving, my flexibility has already increased, and my stamina is getting better every day.

What is your least favorite part?

That my brain remembers how to do everything but my body isn’t listening yet. 🙂 It’s so frustrating to set up for a pirouette and then lose my balance half way through. My body isn’t the same as it was 9 years ago.  Also I’m not happy with the current selection of larger sized dancewear. That needs to change.

Who/What is your ballet inspiration?

Wayne Sleep is an inspiration. His documentary Big Ballet helped me get over the fact that I’m not built “like a dancer” anymore. It really doesn’t matter.

What motivates you to keep dancing?

How happy I am when I have my ballet slippers on. It’s like a drug. I just want to keep dancing once I start. I’m already seeing results too!

Do you take any other dance classes?

Not at the moment. I used to take jazz, tap, lyrical, ballroom, and I’ve taken a Zumba class or two. I’m hoping to start taking ballroom again this year. There aren’t many adult dance classes in my area…yet.

What are your hobbies outside of ballet?

I ride motorcycles, play golf, and remodel my house.

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

If you want to do ballet, then go try a class! Don’t worry about how silly you look, because you don’t look nearly as silly as you think you do. As adult dancers, we aren’t all going to be tall lean size 0’s with 180 degree turnout. If a size 12, 190 lb, big cheasted (I’m talking 34GG’s here…)30 year, with 90 degree turnout can dance around in a leotard and tights so can you! Everyone else in that class is so focused on themselves that they don’t have an ounce of thought left to worry about you. 🙂

Anything else you’d like to add?

I’d love to see more adults be empowered and get into ballet. The dance world won’t change itself. Ballet isn’t just for little girls and skinny bitches for goodness sake! (Note: I’m NOT skinny shaming…I love all dancers equally.)

Ballet Instructor Profile: Liz Borromeo

Sun King Photo Shoot1How long have you been dancing?

About 30 years.

Why do you dance ballet?

Ballet is where I began my training, and I continue to find new ways to improve my technique all the time. Doing ballet helps my focus and I especially enjoy taking class myself, as after a great ballet class, I feel like my mind and body get centered again…

Who/What inspires you to dance?

My students (of all ages) inspire me. I find that hearing a beautiful piece of music will give me instant inspiration to dance and create as well. When I am feeling emotions deeply, I am inspired to dance.

How long have you taught ballet?

I have been teaching ballet for about 20 years.

Where do you teach ballet?

I teach at my own dance studio as well as in various other studios in Vancouver, WA and Portland, OR. I also am a teaching artist in local public schools, though I focus my teaching more in Modern dance and dance for musical theater in those venues.

Who do you teach?

I teach students of all ages (from 2 to adult-including active Seniors).

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

I teach Modern dance (based in Graham technique primarily), Improvisation (including Contact Improv), dance for Musical Theater (mostly classic Jazz styles) as well as West African Dance.

Why do you teach ballet?

I love to see students make connections from class to class as they gradually master ballet. I like to encourage students who maybe think that ballet won’t be as enjoyable as other dance forms to give it a try and see them become inspired to continue their training.

What is your favorite ballet step to teach and why?

Pirouettes–actually turns of all kinds. Throughout my own training, working on turns has been a constant challenge, and I love to help students discover what they need to do to be successful with pirouettes. I find that for myself as a student, if I have a good turning day, it’s a great class, and if my turns are “off” it really influences how I feel about dance class…helping my students have a good turning day is a great feeling.

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

I would say go for it and let them know that just having the courage to start (or return to) class is a huge success. Taking ballet is a chance to really focus the body and mind, it’s a fun experience with other adults (we have so much fun in our adult classes) and it’s really an accomplishment to dedicate time and effort to something that requires so much discipline. Ask questions, love the amazing thing that your body can do and let yourself enjoy dance class.

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