Beginner Ballerina Profile: Carolyn Johnson

This week’s profile is of Carolyn Johnson, who started ballet at the age of 50 for the first time after it was recommended to her to help improve her skating, which is pretty amazing. Check it out!

me6When did you start doing ballet as an adult? 

Age 50.

Did you ever take lessons as a kid?

No.

Why did you decide to take ballet as an adult? 

Won two Adult Figure Skating Competitions at my home rink – ballet was recommended to improve my skating as well as posture and balance.

Where do you take classes? 

New Braunfels, TX

What is your favorite part about ballet? 

Just started classes, but really enjoy the working out of my legs, core and learning control and balance.

What is your least favorite part?

Stares from other adults in the lobby who probably think I’m crazy for starting lessons at 50  😉

Who/What is your ballet inspiration?

Finis Jung

What motivates you to keep dancing?

Just started, but now is the time to embrace life and your passions.  I don’t plan on stopping

Do you take any other dance classes?

No

What are your hobbies outside of ballet?

Figure Skating and Ice Dance.

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

Put on blinder’s for your critics and enroll today.  Find an instructor that loves ballet so much he/she could teach it to an elephant.

Anything else you’d like to add? 

Thank you for this project!

 

Beginner Ballerina Profile: Riette Hartzenberg

Today’s profile is of Riette Hartzenberg, who also takes classes at Susan Attfield’s ballet studio in South Africa.

When did you start doing ballet as an adult?

About 3 years ago.

Did you ever take lessons as a kid?

No.

Why did you decide to take ballet as an adult?

It was something I always wanted to do and finally got around to doing. I also read an article about the toning benefits of a good ballet session.

Riette Hartzenberg Where do you take classes?

At the Irene dance hub.

What is your favorite part about ballet?

Getting something right after lots and lots of practice. Furthermore it forces you to concentrate on nothing else for an hour. For an hour you are “forced” to spend some me-time with yourself. Plus it is really very toning. I made some good friends and we laugh a lot.

What is your least favorite part?

Pirouettes. I don’t handle turns very well.

What motivates you to keep dancing?

I really enjoy it.

What are your hobbies outside of ballet?

I go the gym a few times during the week, and enjoy doing arts and crafts.

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

Go for it! Just enjoy it and give yourself time to grow into it. We all like to be perfect from the start, but you have to be between 5 and 15 to master it in a day.

Riette Hartzenberg 2nd from left

Riette Hartzenberg is 2nd from left

Find a school close to you and sign up today!

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.

Reaching My First Ballet Milestone: One Year (Again!) with Ballet

Roughly 15 years ago, I was a little ballerina, ecstatic to be receiving a perfect attendance trophy for attending every ballet class of the year during my first year of ballet at our year end recital. Seems crazy, right? Two years later, I quit after I switched to a new studio.

Now, 15 years later, I’ve completed my first year of ballet again. Except this time, there’s no perfect attendance trophy  (although my attendance was far from perfect), no year end recital, no moving up in class level. But, it has been worth it.

I never thought when I first walked into the studio in my brand new ballet shoes a year ago I’d ever be in love with ballet the way I am today.

No, I don’t have perfect splits yet.

Yes, I still stumble over my own two feet.

No, I can’t dance en pointe yet.

Yes, it has been tough.

But it’s been worth it.

Ballet is tough, and although to an outsider it may seem like I haven’t improved much in a years time, I can tell I’ve come a long way. My pirouettes are almost there and my tendus don’t look nearly as sloppy as they used to. I’m improving. Slowly, but surely.

I’m hoping the next year brings more ballet classes. More ballet friends. More improvement.

More fun.

Although my future is uncertain–I graduate in May and don’t know where I’ll end up–although I hope to stay in Philadelphia because of all the wonderful things it offers (including a plethora of ballet classes)–wherever I end up, whatever I end up doing–I know it’ll include ballet.

How do you  celebrate milestones in your training?

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Beginner Ballet Tips: Grand Plies in Fourth

Ballet class

(Photo credit: Oude School)

Grand plies in fourth position: yuck, right?

Okay, maybe you don’t have a problem with grand plies in fourth, but I certainly do. I’m always super wobbly while doing them. I realize that this probably has a lot to do with the fact my turnout needs a lot of work (my feet can look a mess in fourth position if I’m not being careful).

As it turns out, a quick Google search found a lot of people struggling with grand plies in fourth position, with a lot of them even questioning a need for them, as they’re kind of harsh on the knees.

Someone else recommended keeping a very small fourth position that allows you to really feel your turnout. Other people on the same message board recommended making sure your back knee doesn’t bend too far in, maintaining proper turnout, and keeping your weight equal on the same legs.

My goals for improving my fourth position grand plies will be both working on my turnout and strengthening my knees (from Dance Spirit Magazine). I’m already doing the squats from the knee strengthening post!

Do you have trouble with 4th position grand plies? Do you think they should be banned?

Note: I’m not a professional ballet instructor or fitness instructor, just sharing the notes I found helpful when I was looking for help for myself.

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