Ballerina Profile: Joie of Some Assemblé Required

This week’s Ballerina Profile is Joie from Some Assemblé Required. She’s been dancing for an impressive 7 years now, since she was 21. Enjoy!

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

Joie Brown: Age 21– I’ve been dancing just about seven years now!

ABP: Did you ever take lessons as a kid?

JB: I took tap dancing for awhile, but no ballet.

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

JB: When I was a kid, someone told me I was “too big” to be a ballerina, and I took it to heart. I steadfastly refused to take up my mother’s offer for ballet classes, even though I desperately wanted to do it. Many years later, I decided, “Aw, what the heck! Why NOT? You only live once.” I then promptly signed up with the Atlanta Ballet Adult Division.

ABP: Where do you take classes?

JB: I currently take classes at City Dance Studios with Carla Escoda from Ballet to the People here in San Francisco. I’m about to move to Los Angeles though, and will be on the lookout for a great new studio there!

ABP: What is your favorite part about ballet?

JB: Getting to look graceful– it’s a nice change from my everyday clumsy clonking about. I also really enjoy performing even though I don’t get many chances to do it. Also, learning to dance in pointe shoes is totally a girlhood dream come true.

ABP: What is your least favorite part?

JB: The fact that adult bodies have limitations. There’s only so much flexibility and extension a 27 year old body can give. (Now, if I could just get up to 3+ classes a week, maybe it COULD change…)

ABP: Who/What is your ballet inspiration?

JB: Anyone that does it better than me. Which is just about everyone! Hehe, in all seriousness, watching any ballet performance gets me inspired to dance!

ABP: What motivates you to keep dancing?

JB: I’m a visual artist, and my brain is constantly crowded out with noise/creativity/excitement. Ballet gives me a good 1.5 hours of mental silence– if you think about anything other than what you’re doing, then you are NOT doing it correctly!

ABP: Do you take any other dance classes?

JB: I don’t at the moment, but have taken Hip Hop, Lyrical, Modern, and Musical Theater before! (Plus the aforementioned tap when I was 6…) I would like to try a jazz class!

ABP: What are your hobbies outside of ballet?

JB: I’m an illustrator by trade, but I also draw in my spare time (for fun! I must really love my job). I also like playing video games, going on walks, baking, and reading voraciously!

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

JB: It’s gonna be tough, but remember to have FUN with it. That’s the whole point, after all! What helps me is imagining that I am dancing better than I am, and that I am wearing a giant pretty tutu with a tiara and sparkles, et al. On a stage. With lights. And people throwing roses at me! … thank goodness my other classmates can’t see inside my head!

ABP: Anything else you’d like to add?

JB: I have a ballet blog that I update occasionally at: It contains my experiences in classes, random pictures and videos, and ballet-related drawings that I do. I’m also slowly adding in past entries from a journal I kept about ballet when I first started… so think of it as a blog that grows both forward and backward!

Guest Post: Different Teachers, Different Perspectives

Here’s another great guest post from Scott (he writes loveballet89 and In The Wings) on the benefits on taking ballet classes from multiple instructors.

When I first returned to ballet class at 39 years old, I liked my one little ballet world.

I was devoted to one teacher, Vicki B., and an amazing group of ladies who became my comrades. I was happy, content, and did not want to shake up the status quo.

About three years later, our school went through a change of leadership, bringing in Mr. and Mrs, O as artistic director and ballet mistress. Classes that were once labeled “adult” became “open classes.”

Mr. O would be teaching some of the open classes (and would eventually be taking over the Monday morning class taught by Vicki B.). It was an interesting development considering our previous artistic director didn’t give anyone the time of day unless they were in company, let alone adults.

Some of my comrades were reluctant to take a class under a male teacher. Even I was, and I’m a guy. But I wanted to take an extra class, so I signed up for one of his classes.

I still took classes from Vicki B., who is most responsible for building the base I draw on. She taught from the cechetti method, while Mr. O was more SAB and had taken classes under Balanchine.

She was more “let’s build the fundamentals.” He was more “I will challenge and push you to see what you can do.”

I was amazed by how much I enjoyed both. I was amazed how well the classes complemented each other.

I’ve now had four teachers in seven years. I’ve picked up different things that I can use from each one. If you’re having trouble with pirouettes, sometimes a different opinion on how to do them helps.

This year, I’m taking three classes under three different teachers. Susan K. on Monday puts a huge emphasis on the movement of the arms and head. Mr. O puts more of an emphasis in movement quality on Thursday. And Mrs. O. on Saturday is a stickler for proper body alignment. I learn so much from each.

I’m not saying go out and shake up your ballet. But don’t be afraid to try a different class under a different teacher.

And take advantage of master classes if they offer them to adults at your studio.

I truly believe being taught from a different perspective every once in a while from what we’re used to can really help us improve as dancers.


2013 New Years’ Goals

Arabesque - Image from "Bio of a Dancer"

Arabesque – Image from “Bio of a Dancer” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I hate the idea of New Years’ Resolutions and in the past few years I’ve avoided most of them. Instead, I figured I’d make a list of goals I’d like to accomplish in ballet (and for this blog) over the next year.

Perfect my pirouettes.

Complete the 30 Day Stretch Challenge.

Make stretching a part of my daily routine.

Go to the gym at least twice a week.

Get my left split.

Get my right split.

Get my straddle split.

Achieve a decent 90 degree arabesque.

Go to every ballet studio in Philadelphia for adults.

Travel to NYC to take a ballet class.

Build core strength.

Strengthen my feet for pointe.

Take awesome photos of me in my ballet gear.

Create a forum for adult ballerinas.

Create a list of studio reviews for adult ballerinas.

What are your goals for the new year?

Submit Your Dance Studio and Instructor Reviews

"corner", he said.  and they went.

When I posted my survey a couple of weeks ago someone had an awesome suggestion: include reviews of teachers and studios to make it easier for beginners to find a teacher in their area that was the best for them.

I had thought of it before, but it’s physically impossible for me (especially as a broke college student) to review every possible dance studio everywhere. In addition, I’m one person, with set opinions of what I like, so I figured it would be helpful if we could get multiple views up all in one place.

So, I’d like you to submit your reviews, and I’ll sort them by state (within the United States) and by country alphabetically. You can use the form below to submit it, and if you have any suggestions on how to make this better let me know. If you’d like to submit more than one review (studio or instructor) please leave a comment or send me an e-mail at

Use this form to submit reviews about studios only:

Studio Reviews

Use this form to submit reviews about instructors:

Instructor Reviews

Please share these links, if you don’t mind, so we can make this page as useful to future beginners as possible!

Beginner Profile: Alisha of Four Eyed Ballerina

IMG_0939The last profile of 2012 is from Alisha of The Four Eyed Ballerina. She’s got a lot of awesome posts up on her blog, including one about how to make an awesome and easy ballerina bun for class here!

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

Alisha: About 2 1/2 years ago, at age 22.

ABP: Did you ever take lessons as a kid?

A: I did very briefly when I was about 5, but got kicked out because I would just run around and never listen to the teacher. My mom was pretty disappointed.

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

A: I loved ballet for a really long time and decided it would be a fun way to exercise. I ended up catching on pretty quickly and fell in love with it. Now I don’t think of it as exercise at all, just something I’m really passionate about getting better at.

ABP: Where do you take classes?

A: I take classes at two different studios; I dance at an intermediate level and also take pointe classes.

ABP: What is your favorite part about ballet?

A: The satisfaction you get when suddenly one day something has noticeably improved, like your leg can go higher or something you’ve been struggling with is suddenly just coming together naturally.

ABP: What is your least favorite part?

A: The sweat. Its gross, ok? Some people leave entire puddles on the floor at their spot at the barre. It creeps me out how much sweat and grossness is probably on those barres! But its worth it.

ABP: Who/What is your ballet inspiration?

A: I love Polina Semionovoa. She is such an amazing dancer and I really hope I get to see her dance in person one day; IMG_1715bweverything just see,s so effortless for her. As for past ballerinas I really like Gelsey Kirkland and Karen Kain. Gelsey was just so light and sprite-like with so much energy and Karen was such a beauty but also full of strength. I am also inspired by dance photography and music.

ABP: What motivates you to keep dancing?

A: This is a tough one! It is really hard sometimes to drag yourself to ballet class after work. A lot of the time I show up tired and starving but I find when I don’t go I feel really guilty and when I force myself to go I feel really glad that I’ve gone. So I suppose my motivation is the feeling of accomplishment and happiness that I get from my classes.

ABP: Do you take any other dance classes?

A: Nope, but I do take Yoga classes at work during lunch which I find really helps with flexibility for Ballet.

ABP: What are your hobbies outside of ballet?

A: I am one of those people who has way too many hobbies and not enough time. I love to draw, paint, take photographs, sew, cook, knit, garden, read, bake, hike, canoe, spend time with my animals, and probably other things I am forgetting!

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

A: It is definitely not easy, and as far as I can tell it never will be! Ballet is not for the faint of heart, you will have to constantly work at it and you will probably look like a fumbling idiot at first, just don’t give up! With a lot of hard work and determination you will start to see improvements; I for example have moved up to an intermediate level in just two years and one of my studios even said I could attend the advanced class if I wanted to, I also have the privilege of getting technically good enough to go en pointe. If I can do it in two years so can you 🙂

ABP: Anything else you’d like to add?

A: Just keep dancing.

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