Taking It on the Road: Ballet Away from Home

Hotel room stock photo

This past year, I’ve had occasion to do a lot of travel. Most of it has been business, some has been personal, and all of it has presented me with a challenge if I want to practice ballet. A handy chair or railing can substitute for a barre, but you probably don’t want to do grand jetes in the hotel corridors.

Here are a few solutions I’ve found to the “Where can I dance?” problem:

1. Local Dance Studio: If you have transportation, Google the area ahead of time. Don’t be discouraged if the only thing you can find is a studio that requires students to sign up in semester-long blocks of classes. Sometimes you can get permission to join a class on a drop-in basis.

2. Local Gym: Some memberships give you access to facilities in other cities, and most gyms offer day passes. Even if a gym doesn’t have a dance studio, you can often make use of a fitness room when there isn’t a class. If you want something more private, consider appropriating a racquetball court. Gyms often have several of these and they make great private spaces for floor work.

3. Hotel: This one is hit and miss, but here are a few things to try:

• Your Room: If you are in a suite, you may be able to move the sitting room furniture out of the way and dance in the privacy of your own room.

• Pools and Exercise Rooms: Some hotels have a separate area of the fitness center for yoga and aerobics classes. Be sure to also check out the pool. Many hotels have a poolside area for small functions. You should not dance on bare concrete, but a thin carpet with low nap will often work just fine.

• Ballrooms/Conference Rooms: Sometimes you can find an unlocked door to a ballroom or conference room. If it hasn’t been set up with too many tables and chairs, you’ve got yourself a dance studio. If all the rooms are locked, explain your situation to the front desk. They have heard stranger requests than yours and may be happy to help.

A Few Considerations:

1. Scheduling: If you are angling for an empty conference room, your best chance of success will be weekday evenings and weekend mornings, so plan accordingly. This may mean skipping the drinks and heavy hors d’oeuvres at a conference reception, or skipping a reception altogether and meeting a few colleagues for dinner and drinks after your dance practice.

2. Music: If you don’t like dancing while wearing earbuds, consider buying a speaker for your mp3 player. I use the iHome 3.5 mm portable speaker, but there are many options out there.

3. Shoes: Unless you have made arrangements to attend a ballet class, leave the pointe shoes at home. You don’t know what kind of floor surface you’ll be on, and you don’t want to spend your vacation or conference covered in bruises and nursing a sprained ankle. Bring several different types of ballet slippers if you can. The shoes that are your go-to at home might be too slippery or too grabby for the dance space you find. You might even have to dance barefoot or in socks.

In sum, dance practice is very doable while away from home, but requires creativity and flexibility. Luckily, this is what ballet is all about. Just remember to get outside and see a few sights while you’re away, too. Have a few adventures, because when you get home the last thing your non-ballerina friends will want to hear about is your perfect pirouette by the hotel pool.

Ballerina Profiles: Ashley of Ballet Shoes and Mickey Ears

This week’s interview is with Ashley, a fellow adult ballerina who got back into ballet after doing it from the ages of 3-12. She runs Ballet Shoes and Mickey Ears, be sure to check it out!

Make sure to wish her a happy birthday as well on Sunday!

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

Ashley: I started taking classes once a week in October 2011. I started taking more classes towards the end of spring and through summer.

ABP: Did you ever take lessons as a kid?

A: Yes!! I started taking dance at the age of 3 years old!! I took ballet, tap, and eventually jazz. I took classes until I was 12 years old, when my family moved.

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

A: I decided that I finally wanted to get involved in dancing again last year. It’s always been a part of my life. I love dancing! No matter where I am or when!! I was needing some independence and thought this would be a perfect hobby. I’m normally a really shy person when in a crowd of people. Taking ballet as an adult has allowed me to become more outgoing and confident in myself.

ABP: Where do you take classes?

A: I take classes in a nearby small town. It’s about 30 minutes from my home, but I also work out there, so I’m always right there!! It’s a small studio that only offers ballet, pointe, and hip hop. There is only one teacher, and boy is she amazing!! She used to be a professional ballet dancer. Watching her dance is pretty amazing.

ABP: What is your favorite part about ballet?

A: My favorite part about ballet is the constant challenge. Just when you feel like you’ve got a combination down or your tendues just perfect, bam!! Something new and more difficult comes along! I love the struggle. I have good days and bad days, but in the end they all turn out for the better.

ABP: What is your least favorite part?

A: The least favorite part probably has to be the tightness in my muscles. Even though I stretch and take 6 hours of classes a week, my muscles and what not always feel sore or tight. I guess that what you get for being an adult and not a little 12 year old!!

ABP: Who is your ballet inspiration?

A: I have a few! First off, all of the other fellow adult beginners I found through writing my blog. I think it’s awesome that there are other adults out there trying to do the same thing as me! It’s really neat to see where everyone has started and their improvements already!! Having fellow adult beginner ballerinas inspires me to keep going. To keep trying. To see that everyone struggles or gets an injury. The next inspirations are my teacher and the younger girls in my classes. My teacher is absolutely amazing. She’s such an incredible dancer and artistic director! Being able to share a glimpse into her world is so special. I love listening to her tell stories about her dancing days. She’s just an amazing person. She makes me strive to be the best adult beginner ballerina!! The younger girls in my class also inspire me. They inspire me to keep trying and never give up. It’s very inspiring to have a young girl say I did something really good, or be there to say its okay just try again when I struggle. Having them in class is great. They are such caring, good spirited girls.

ABP: What motivates you to keep dancing?

A: Seeing the improvements I make from week to week motivate me to keep going. Some weeks are worse than others, but things improve when you least expect it. The other thing, or person I should say, that motivates me to keep dancing is none other than my very best friend, the Legal Ballerina. She’s always there for me when I need her most. She knows me better than anyone else. She’s always there to put things in perspective after a bad class or tell me I did a great job when I have a good class. Even though we may not agree on everything, I couldn’t do this without her. She motivates me to be a better dancer (and person) every day.

ABP: Do you take any other dance classes?

A: Right now I only do ballet and pointe. That’s all I have time for!! I would love to try hip hop, but I don’t think the young girls want us older women hip hopping around in their class. Hah!!

ABP: What are your hobbies outside of ballet?

A: I like to crochet, read, watch movies with the husband, go biking, geocaching, camping, hiking, photography, and walking the dog. I just got into crocheting this summer, we’ll see how that goes!! My husband and I really enjoy doing things outdoors. We discovered the cool world of geocaching this summer while on a camping trip! I really like taking pictures with my fancy camera, as I like to call it. I’m still learning, but I think I’ve taken some pretty awesome pictures!! I’m also crazily obsessed with all things Disney. From planning every one of our trips to buying puzzles to wearing clothes, I love all things Disney!! I know pretty much everything you would need to know about Disney. I love it!!

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

A: It may seem really intimidating and scary to go to your first class, but just do it!! The teacher and the other girls in class are there to support you! I would do a little research online, check out all of the adult beginner ballerina blogs here, and get some info on what to expect at your first class. Nothing’s worse than showing up being the only person not in a leotard or tripping on your elastics!! If you’re curious about ballet, just go for it and try a class! Most studios will offer you a first free class to see if you like it. That’s what I did!! Just know that no matter what, do what you want to do because it makes you happy. Don’t look back on life and say “what if?!”. Ballet can be very fun yet challenging at the same time. Give it a try!!

More Beginner profiles here:

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