Following your dreams (it is possible): Pineapple Dance Studios

The Royal Ballet Company almost blacklisted me once.

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I was four years old and my long-suffering mum took me to London to see The Nutcracker, and I was more excited by hitting audience members with a plastic wand than watching the performance.

Strangely, this behaviour was not permitted; a stern usher instructed me to behave, or I would never step foot in the prestigious Royal Opera House again.

Not gonna lie, this first experience didn’t allude to a life-long passion for dance.

It wasn’t until I was eleven with an obsession with S Club 7 when the signs started to show. I wanted to learn every single dance move, to the point where they’d change it to S Club 8. I would be that good. I spent hours practising in my bedroom, acting nonchalant whenever my sisters knocked on the door.

But behind the privacy of four walls, I was safe. Granted, my Beanie Babies weren’t an enthusiastic audience, but I never considered myself to be a ‘true’ dancer; one that could go to classes, perfect their turn-out and achieve the splits. That just wasn’t me. And so, my secret dance love affair continued. I would record music videos from CD:UK on my ‘GRACE’S TAPE – PLEASE DO NOT RECORD OVER’ tape, and practice the popstar of the moment’s routine.

Reaching my 18th birthday, I felt old. It was all very dramatic. I hadn’t chased my dreams, taken chances, truly lived. Y’know, the usual.

I was someone I felt I should be, not the person I wanted to be. I set myself resolutions, and the first of these was to learn how to dance.

I remember my first ballet class distinctly – an intimidating group of near-professional 14 year olds in pink ballet tights and shoes with fancy ribbons. And me – a clueless teenager in some tracksuit bottoms and a pair of holey socks. It was tough and humbling. A whole new cosmos to breath in; incredible strength and technique to conquer (all whilst remembering to smile like you were in the Miss World competition).

I left the first class exhausted. But vibrant. Maybe I wouldn’t be the next Darcy Bussell, maybe I looked like an idiot. But I had found my identity. Over the next few months, I tried and loved everything – modern, tap, lyrical, musical theatre, commercial.

A year later I left my hometown for University, and as all true love affairs go, things don’t always run smooth. New surroundings, academic challenges and friendships took me away from dance classes.

After graduation, I found myself in London. A huge city, I was lost. Full-time work was an alien concept – that Friday Feeling, the Sunday blues… I was suddenly an adult (in the technical sense, at least), yet something was missing.

After a quick Google search, I found Pineapple Dance Studios. I was sceptical – surely they only let professionals in with a penchant for Fame?

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No, it turns out. You need neither experience nor leg warmers – just a passion to learn. Class after class, I fell in love all over again.

That was nearly two years ago. Pineapple now feels like my second home. Friendly faces and inspiring teachers, I can be me. Dance gives me focus, purpose, contentment. It encourages me to better myself, whilst teaching me to accept myself now.

I am still very much a beginner. It will take years to make significant progress, and of course there are thousands of dancers more skilled than I am.

But that’s OK. I don’t dance for other people. I dance because for me, dancing is breathing.

This post was originally published here.

Tips on How to Drink Enough Water

After waking up one morning last week with terribly dry skin (after barely drinking any water the day before),  I’ve decided to get my act together and start drinking more water. I’ve tried a bunch of things from apps to flavored water, but I ultimately usually just end up resorting to the same habits.

I also usually end up super dehydrated in ballet class and tend to drink more when I get home. Then I end up having to get up and pee several times throughout the night, which makes for a grumpy Kristen in the morning when she hasn’t slept well.

Like I usually do when I need advice, I turned to the various communities I’m a part of on Twitter and Facebook for some tips for drinking water throughout the day.

Monica from http://www.runninghappilyeverafter.com/ recommended Camelbak‘s website to determine how much water I actually needed to be drinking. I love my Camelbak insulated bottle I got from Core Power, so I went to check it out.

Camelbak has an awesome Hydration Calculator on their website:

Screenshot 2014-03-30 12.37.41The calculator unfortunately didn’t have ballet (or any type of dance) in their activity list. So I went with running for 30 minutes. You answer other questions too, like how much you sweat, what color your pee currently is, the temperature, etc. I love that it tells me how much to drink of my water bottle, too:

Screenshot 2014-03-30 12.41.01(I have the podium water bottle)

They’ve got a link to a more in-depth blog post about it, too, with a more detailed calculator.

Monica also said:

“I sometimes use Crystal Light instead of the drops. another thing I do in the summer, I’ll toss in frozen grapes, berries, pineapple, mango, or citrus slices, kiwi – really whatever fruit I happen to have on hand. Or even make ice cubes out of my favorite fruit juices and toss those in. It looks more visually appealing to me so I have bigger incentive to carry it with me and drink.”

Ashley of showmeashley.com had some great advice about fruit-flavored waters, too:

“I have a couple tricks I use. It is hard for me to drink water when it is cold especially. I always have a water bottle on me. I make myself drink one glass before I eat /first wake up. Using straws helps me drink more for some reason. I used to use flavoring but didn’t like the ingredients so I used a bottle with an infuser on the bottle I can toss fruit in if I am struggling drinking regular water.”

Thanks to her, I’ll be on the hunt for a fruit-infuser bottle at Marshall’s (where she got hers) and other discount stores!

Amber also shared this great blog post on How to Increase Water Intake and told me to take it slowly and not try to increase it by too much all at one time.

Others had similar recommendations:

“I keep a water bottle next to the bed. I sip every time I wake up (which is every few hours) and then before I get out bed, I drink a cup, at least. My bottle is 4 servings, so I usual get two before getting up to shower.
I also noticed I drink more with a straw, so I always use a straw water bottle.
I keep it with me and try to sip every hour when I get up to walk or stretch. That adds up quite easily.
I’m a big diet coke girl, which I use as a water challenge. I can’t have one at dinner if I don’t have a tall glass of water first. Same for refill. If we are out somewhere, I have to have a water in between. I always drink less diet coke and get the water in….”

–Susan of www.notsosuddenlysusan.com

I loved this recommendation because I’m a huge coffee drinker and often forget to drink water when I drink a lot of coffee. Starting now, I’m going to try to drink one cup of water before every cup of coffee.

Megan of http://www.thelyonsshare.org also had some great suggestions:

“Lemon water, cucumber and strawberry water, and plain cucumber water are great! I have my clients put rubber bands around their water bottle each day (depends on the size of the water bottle, but usually 4-5 bands). Each time they finish the bottle, they can take off one rubber band, and it has to be rubber-band-free by the end of the day! Setting a calendar reminder for every hour to take a few sips also helps if you’re at a desk!”

I’m definitely going to be setting a calendar reminder for drinking water, since I use my calendar for a lot of other things, too.

Twitter had some great advice too, my favorite being to associate drinking water with an activity you do frequently (like using the bathroom!) and holding yourself accountable by sharing results on social media.

Here’s what my next steps will be:

  • Find a cheap infuser bottle
  • Drink one cup of water for every cup of coffee
  • Use calendar reminders to remind me to drink
  • Post photos on Instagram and Twitter to keep myself accountable

How do you motivate yourself to drink enough water throughout the day?

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