Submit Your Studio, Instructor, and Product Reviews!

Quite awhile ago, I asked readers to submit instructor and studio reviews so that their fellow ballerinas could have a guide to the best studios and instructors to check out in their area. I’ve done a little bit of reorganizing, but you can still find all the reviews under the Instructor Reviews and the Studio Reviews. I’ve also added a product review submission form so you can review your favorite leotard, ballet slipper, tights, food products (I love snack bars and protein powders all that stuff), etc.–even running products. We still could use a lot more submissions, so use the forms below to submit some more to help out your fellow ballerinas. I’ve moved to Google Forms, so you should be able to submit more than one response and multiple reviews unlike before.

Instructor Review Submission Form

Studio Review Submission Form

Product Review Submission Form

Beginner Ballet Tips: Sewing Elastic to Ballet Slippers

Roughly one year and one month ago, I picked up my first pair of ballet slippers at one of the local dance stores in Philadelphia and was told I needed to sew the elastics myself. Nothing more. I was clueless. I searched online and was frustrated with every article and how-to telling me how to sew pointe shoe ribbons and elastics. I eventually found this video and sewed on my elastics the best I could:

Looking back at those shoes, my elastics were sewn kind of terribly (not because the technique in the video is bad, but just because I’m horrible at sewing). I wish I had found these tips by Adult Beginner and Dave Tries Ballet to help me out when I needed it. Adult Beginner uses a single elastic, so if that’s what you’ve got, go check her’s out. The video, Dave Tries Ballet, and my tutorial below deals with criss-cross elastics that are already sewn at the back-end. I wear Sansha split sole canvas shoes (I’m looking into trying more, I just bought these because I needed new shoes and knew these would fit if I ordered them online).

Here’s what you’ll need:

Shoes

Pen or Permanent Marker

Scissors

Safety Pins

Needle and Thread (I recommend Bunhead’s Stitch Kit if you don’t already have needles and thread lying around. It’s super thick, strong thread that will make sure the elastics will stay put both on pointe shoes and ballet slippers)

My elastics are pulled tight so that my shoes fit my feet.

Step 1. Tighten the elastic strings at the top of your ballet slipper until you get a nice fit. You don’t want them strangling your foot but you don’t want the shoes to be falling off either.

Step 2. Mark where you will sew the elastics with permanent marker at your arches by stretching them over your feet–I just sew mine to the middle seam in my slipper. Again, you want them to be holding your foot in but not too tight. I sew the elastic from the inside of the foot underneath and the one that comes in from the outside over (I’m pretty sure there’s no rules written in stone about this–I just know it’s mentioned in one of the videos I watched so that’s what I do). I then mark each slipper somewhere on the inside so I can quickly know which one is left and right without having to look super carefully at the elastic.

Step 3. Secure the elastic using a safety pin where you will sew them and try them on again, making sure that you’ve got the right fit. Point and flex your feet a couple of times.

Step 4: Cut the elastics if you need to so they fit into the shoe (I usually leave about 1/2 an inch from the very top part of the shoe so there’s enough to sew securely in). You could probably burn the elastics to make sure they don’t fray but I don’t find it necessary.

I can’t really give you any advice on doing the actual sewing part since I’m a novice at it–some people hand sew, others use a machine. Whichever method you choose, make sure you don’t sew into the elastic string that goes around the shoe by accident.

Step 5: Put your shoes on and check the elastic string for tightness again, making sure you’ve got it where you want it. Some people will leave their strings long and tie them in a bow and then tuck them in (they shouldn’t be left out so your foot doesn’t get dragged over them and/or so you don’t trip on them).Having all the loose strings shoved into my shoe drives me crazy, so I double knot mine (without tying a bow), cut them pretty short, and then burn the ends.

Step 6: Put them on, check for the correct fit (one last time!) and admire a job well done!

What do you wish you would’ve known before starting ballet classes?

PS If you’ve got any tips for how you attach your elastics to ballet slippers, let me know! This is still a work in progress for me!

Beginner Ballet Profile: Lionel

This week’s profile is another of Susan Attfield‘s ballet studio students, Lionel–who first started to take ballet in October 2012 after seeing So You Think You Can Dance. 

LionelDid you ever take lessons as a kid?

No, never took any lessons as a kid, I grew up in a small town and my interest was mainly athletics.

Why did you decide to take ballet as an adult?

There are a few reasons, I have always loved watching ballet, I was always an active individual but since I left school it gradually got replaced by work, deadlines and the idea that one day my busy schedule will get better.  It was the infamous series So you think you can dance which made me look for adult ballet classes in my area.

Where do you take classes?

In Centurion, Gauteng, South Africa.

What is your favorite part about ballet?

When after 3 months you finally start doing something right…lol, just kidding for me it’s that one hour when all the troubles in the world disappear.

What is your least favorite part?

To be honest…. when the classes are over 🙁

Who/What is your ballet inspiration?

I’m not yet familiar with the great names in ballet, but at this stage watching anyone who can really dance, you don’t realise how hard these dancers have to train to dance at that level, when you see them you think to yourself o that’s good, but you don’t even begin to realise that there is a reason they train for years…

What motivates you to keep dancing?

To dance makes me happy, if I had discovered this at an earlier stage in my life things might have been different, but I like the feeling I have when I leave the class and that makes me want to come back.

Do you take any other dance classes?

No not at this stage.

What are your hobbies outside of ballet?

Gardening, Cleaning, Swimming.

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

I have started the class about 4 months ago, and in every class I see new faces, if you like ballet just keep going, with every class it gets better just persevere.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I wish to thank the teachers and owner of the DANCE HUB group for dedicating their time to beginner adult dancers, even though I will not become a professional what your classes do for my soul is far more fulfilling than anything money can buy.  You guys are awesome.

Beginner Ballet Tips: How to Improve Jumps

Now that my legs finally seem to be getting back in shape, it’s finally time that I start to work on my jumps a little bit more, which, honestly are pretty pathetic. I’m not a jumping person AT ALL. In fact…it’s probably my least favorite part of ballet. But, I am ever so jealous of pretty professional ballerinas and their perfect grand jetes.  So I did some research into what I could possibly to do improve them and found out the key was:

Plies, Plies, Plies!

Plies are one of the keys to  jumps (and  turns as well).

The Ballet Dancer’s Guide says:

Your plie is crucial to every single jump, for both the landing and the take off. Without your plie you simply can not jump, but more importantly, without the right use of the plie you won’t be give full value to each jump.

Other tips from Dance Advantage (which also mentions plies!) include strengthening your core and proper alignment (my dance instructor is always reminding us of this). I know I need to work on proper alignment more, as its one of the things I’m likely to forget as I’m focused on something else. It also mentions working on strengthening your feet as well through exercises in class (tendu, degage, releve) as well as through theraband at home exercises.

Dance Advantage also has some pretty great tips for doing grand jetes.

What do you do to improve your jumps?

 

Back En Pointe!

English: A pointe shoe, showing the elastic ba...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s taken me forever to get there…but yesterday I took my first pointe class again!

I hadn’t been in a pointe class after my first one in January when the pain in my shin started to get super intense and I had to take a fair amount of time off.

Yesterday I decided it was about time to try pointe again.

I don’t know whether it’s the running or all the stretching I’ve committed myself to over the past week (or something else entirely), but my nagging shin pain has finally started to disappear. While running hasn’t been 100% pain free, it’s been more manageable once I decided to adopt a better training plan. The pain usually disappears after running and I feel great afterwards. Ballet was a different story for a while–but this past week has been great!

Class went relatively well–except for the moment when I accidentally jumped onto pointe–OUCH! Not what you are supposed to do, I know. I was super worried that the rest of the class was going to be too advanced (pointe classes started in December, I think….) but my ballet instructor gave me different things to do when the exercises were too challenging.

I can’t wait for this super busy semester to be over so I can start going to more ballet classes!

What ballet or fitness-related accomplishments have you made recently?

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