Beginner Ballerina Profile: Lisa Blanchard

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This week’s profile is of Lisa Blanchard, who wrote one of my favorite guest posts that has been published on ABP, Jealousy & Ballet.

When did you start doing ballet as an adult?

About 4 years ago.

Did you ever take lessons as a kid?

No, but my best friend took lessons and we would play “ballet class.” She actually taught me how to spot.

Why did you decide to take ballet as an adult?

At the time I was extremely stressed and felt the need to find something I could get “lost” in.

Where do you take classes?

I take class once a week at my local park district with a very experienced teacher.

What is your favorite part about ballet?

For me something magical happens during barre. It feels healing, empowering, demanding and beautiful all swirled together.

What is your least favorite part?

Center because I struggle with the “letting go” part of dance. Movements that require a sense of abandonment like balances and bourrees don’t come naturally to me.

Who/What is your ballet inspiration?

My teacher, Catherine Tully. When she demonstrates at the barre (even with those crazy dance sneakers she wears), she looks stunningly graceful. I try to take mental notes of her hands and the way her limbs move in opposition to each other and I’m just bowled over by the sheer beauty of her movement.

What motivates you to keep dancing?

Improving, gaining strength, overcoming bad habits — all the things that feel like little victories.

Do you take any other dance classes?

No.

What are your hobbies outside of ballet?

I enjoy reading and following blogs mostly about ballet, nutrition, & fitness Recently, I have fallen hard for classical music and I just started a Feldenkrais class.

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

Find a great teacher, buy a book about ballet basics that you can reference, and be patient. It will take a while for your brain and body to produce the kind of ballet you want. When you start to feel things come together, the payoff is huge.

Do you have a blog?

No, but my teacher has a great one, 4dancers.

Avoiding the After-Work Workout Slump #teamX2

I’ve never dealt well with late afternoon or evening workouts. When I was a kid—my body never seemed to take after school or night swim practices very well—I was always more sluggish and slow whenever I exercised later in the day.

I’ve adjusted to night ballet classes somewhat and usually can handle them somewhat decently. However, I always feel slightly more sluggish during a night class (especially a late night class) versus a morning class. My nighttime runs nowadays always seem more sluggish then my morning ones do. Unfortunately, HQ and my schedules don’t always align super well and that usually means we’re running later in the day(someone please give me tips on how we can become better early risers and wake up and run).

Disclaimer: I’m a #TeamX2 blogger and excited to work with X2 Performance in a paid campaign to help me achieve my fitness goals.All opinions are my own.. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.

I mentioned in my introductory post about X2 Performance that I’m not a huge supplement person. Sure, I take a few vitamins (a multi-vitamin and calcium and vitamin D supplement)—but that’s about it. I’ve taken shot bloks with caffeine and salt before to help pre-post ballet class or run, as well.

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Ballerina Profiles: Georgia Canning of Tutu Times

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Georgia Canning started Tutu Times when she was a University student. Since then, it’s grown into a platform for her adult ballerina students as well as a place for all dancers to discuss all things dance-related!

What is your website, Tutu Times, about?

Tutu Times was a blog I started back when I was at University and has since turned into a platform for our adult ballerinas and the dance community to discuss all things dance related! It’s constantly evolving.

How long have you been dancing?

I’ve been dancing since I was 3 years old!

How long have you been doing ballet?

Since I was 3! It was my first style and will probably be my last. I love contemporary, but they say the first step you learn is a plie and the last step you master is a plie.

Who/What inspired you to dance?

No one in particular. It wasn’t until I was about 10 that I started identifying my ‘heroes’ in the dance world. Kimberley Davis from the Queensland Ballet and Lucinda Dunn from The Australian Ballet were notable favourites. They’ve both retired now. Which makes me feel a little old! My favourite male dancer was Paul Boyd, who later became my coach.

What training do you have in dance/what is your background in dance?

I studied all styles growing up (ballet, jazz, tap, contemporary, lyrical etc) and focused primarily on Ballet and Contemporary when I trained with The Australian Ballet School. I was trained in the Russian method (Vaganova) and continue that style as a teacher. Although there’s something a little American about how I dance. Because the USA doesn’t have a rich history in Ballet like Russia or England, they’re very progressive and experimental. Combine that with the fiercely passionate Australian style and I dance and teach somewhere in between all that! I’d like to think I take the best parts of each style.

Where do you teach ballet?

I have a dance studio on the Gold Coast (Australia) called GC Dance. Our adult classes are run under a different business name, Tutu Times.

How long have you taught ballet?

I started teaching Ballet to children when I was at University. So it’s probably been about 6 years now! However I’ve only been teaching adults for the past twelve months. It’s very different but I absolutely love our adult classes!

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

Absolutely everyone! I don’t believe Ballet is off limits to anyone.

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

I can teach all styles, but primarily focus on Ballet, Jazz and Contemporary.

Why do you teach ballet?

There’s something about Ballet that is so pure and honest. It’s technically demanding, requires absolute concentration and allows you to express yourself through the most elegant movement. I don’t know what else lets you do all those things at once?! Ballet allows your body and mind to evolve, inquire and be real. Movement in general triggers an organic way of expressing oneself. It’s honest. If I’m having a bad day, I feel so much better after taking a class. The structure, discipline and moment to express puts my life back into perspective.

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

Dive in! Don’t feel self conscious and remember that Ballet requires commitment and repetition! Don’t expect to be perfect and understand everything in the first class. It may take a week, or even a whole year to feel absolutely on top of things in class! You never stop learning so it’s unlikely you’ll ever feel 100% confident. I also constantly say in class, BREATHE! Breathing is so important.

What are you favorite activities/hobbies outside of dance?

I love going to the beach (we have some beautiful beaches on the Gold Coast!) and enjoying the outdoors. I also love to travel and try see the world during my holiday breaks. New York and Bali couldn’t be more dissimilar if they tried, but they’re my favourite destinations.

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