Guest Post: Profile of Susan Attfield from Pretoria, South Africa

Today’s post (Adult Ballerina Project’s first guest post!) is brought to you by Susan Attfield, who owns her own ballet studio, Dance Hub, in Pretoria, South Africa. You can read her blog, Ballet for Adults in South Africa, here. Enjoy her post about being an adult ballerina and going on to open her own studio!

I started dancing just more than four years ago. I did two years of modern dancing when I was about 15 years old, but always want to do ballet. I had no prior experience in ballet till 2008 and never did ballet as a child.

Prior to starting ballet myself, I have not even seen a ballet or a live ballet performance on stage ever! I have always known that I wanted to do ballet, even as a child. My mother however, believed ballet was too expensive to take on as a hobby and wanted me to rather excel in athletic track events, which I did.

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Calling all Philly Ballerinas and Instructors!

Not that I don’t love my friends and readers from all over the country (and the globe!) I’m just looking to connect with some ballerinas locally.

If you’re an adult ballerina from Philadelphia (or the surrounding area) I’d love to hear from you! I’m trying to find more adult ballerinas in the area to set up workshops, meetups, and maybe even a performance.

Even if you just think you might want to do ballet, shoot me an e-mail! I’d love to hear from you!

If you’re an adult ballet instructor whose interested in helping me set up any of these things, please contact me as well. I’d really like to focus on expanding the adult ballet community here.

My e-mail is adultballerinaproject@gmail.com! Don’t hesitate to e-mail me if you have any questions!

English: .

English: . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Happy November!

Happy November, adult ballerinas!

I haven’t updated in a few days because Tuesday night, before I could even make it to ballet class, I came down with an extreme case of tonsillitis. I’m headed to my second doctor’s appointment tonight to try and figure out what’s going on so I can get better and back to ballet.

In the meanwhile, how’s everyone been?

And don’t forget to check back tomorrow for our Adult Ballerina Profile this week of DisneyBallerina!

How do you workout?

exercise ball

(Photo credit: keepon)

While I’d love to be in ballet every single day of the week, it’s just not possible given that I’m a broke college student and that I’m fairly busy. I know that I’m lucky that I make it to 2-3 classes a week. And if you’ve been following the blog, you know I’m out of ballet for at least another week (and it’s so hard not to go but I know it’s better for my ankle injury this way–I’m working on strengthening it and babying it as much as possible).

But since I can’t be in a studio every day of the week, I’ve started exercising in different ways, usually some sort of toning using either my foam roller (my favorite piece of equipment for working out sore muscles after a tough workout or ballet) and my new stability ball. I’m really looking forward to using the stability ball to workout my core since I could definitely use more core strength for my ballet.

Here’s some of the workouts I’ve been testing out, now that I haven’t been able to go to ballet lately or hit the gym and the treadmill like I used to:

Foam Roller Back Stretch: Haven’t done this one yet, I’ll let you know how it feels tonight!

Stability Ball Roll Out: Another set I’m testing this evening.

More Stability Ball Moves: I love the reverse crunches, ball curls, and pike. I can’t manage to figure out the skier without falling off (and Prevention’s video link is broken). Let me know if you’ve done it or a similar move.

Foam Roller Workout: The butterfly lift and the shell curl are wonderful exercises (the shell curl is great for rolling out your lower legs). Boyfriend said the scissor balance was tough but felt like it was a good workout while I couldn’t manage to do it. This link also has great recommendations for foam rollers. I personally love my theraroll. You can check out some muscle release techniques from them here.

Theraband Exercises: My ankles are in desperate need of strengthening so I love the first exercise she snows since it’s how to properly do it. Thanks for the link DisneyBallerina!

What exercises do you do to help strengthen your ballet muscles?

Advice from Ballet Instructors: Interview with Cynthia McCranie

Cynthie McCranie, an ex-ballet instructor took the time to talk to me about her 49 years of dance experience and gave some great advice to us ballet newbies (there is even some great stretching advice in there for those doing the #30daystretchchallenge)!

These photos are from a summer technique class Cynthia taught last year.

Adult Ballerina Project: How long have you been dancing?

Cynthia McCranie:  I began ballet lessons at age 4 1/2. Had to stop in 1998 after involved in a car accident. So,for around 35 years, I danced.

ABP: How long have you been doing ballet?

CM: Entire length of time in ballet is 49 years. I continued to teach after the auto accident.

ABP: Who/What inspired you to dance?

CM: Music inspires me and when I met Margot Fonteyn, I knew I was doomed. I was both exhaulted and depressed. Her artistry amazed and electrifid me, while at the same time I was depressed. I knew I would never achieve her stature in my art.

ABP: Where have you taught ballet and for how long?

CM: I am no longer teaching. For over 30 years I taught in the metro Atlanta area for my own studio and others. A few are: Atlanta Ballet (now called ABCDE- Atlanta Ballet Center of Dance Education), Smyrna School of Ballet, Dan & Company, Dance 411, Peachtree Presbyterian Fine Arts School, La Grange Ballet Theatre, Susan Chambers School of Theatre Dance, Georgia Ballet, Georgia Dance Academy, the Savannah Ballet plus many others.

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

CM: I have taught ages 3 through adults, male and female. From the very beginning creative movement/ballet ages 3 & 4 through the advanced levels of Pre-professional teens and adult

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

CM:  My primary focus is ballet. I  also have taught modern, tap and jazz.

The class had three girls in the technique class, each on a different level.

ABP: Why do you teach ballet?

CM: There was no way I could live off the income of a professional company member in the Savannah Ballet. We were on a weekly wage, but it was very low compared to other professonals. So, I began teaching classes in the ballet school and took on extra duties to compensate my income.

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

CM: For the beginner adult my advice is to be sure and not take it so seriously that you can’t breathe! Enjoy your class,let yourself smile and perform as you learn. LAUGH at your mistakes sometimes. It IS important to take it seriously, but not to the point that it becomes dire for you. The majority of the adults I taught were very serious, smart and self-motivated. They entered the studio scared and very self concsious. I understand that, but my job as I saw it, was not to cut them down, but to raise them up. Having had a few instructors along the way who were very mean spirited and who traumatized me in class, I determined I would never repeat their behavior. So many knowledgable and talented teachers exist nowdays in every coner of the world, that  there is no excuse for a student to remain in a saddistic class. Sure, ballet is strenous and demanding. Taking class and working well  is why you are paying your money. There is a difference in working “had” and working “well.” Sometimes a student can work too hard (as I did as a young student) to the point of detrement. Balancing out knowing when to put 110% in and when to relax is part of every student’s ongoing learning curve. That just goes with the art form. You are re-training the body to do something that is physically unnatural. This requires great effort in order to make it appear effortless.

She made sure to give each girl appropriate corrections for their level.

When you are early for your class (I hope this is the case, anyway, lol) be sure to start with gente stretching on your own. The best thing to start with is usually the parallel calf and achilles stretch.Standing, facing the wall a few feet away, place your hands on the wall. Stand in a parallel 1st position and slowly slide one leg en arriere (to the rear.) Consciously breathe deeply an slowly as you continue the leg to a deep lunge. Stay in this position a while- a minute and a half  to 2 minutes and enjoy the stretch. Do the same with the other leg. You want to go as far as you can (ithout the heel releasing the floor) until you feel a good stretch along the back of the leg, especially on the back of the ankle.

ABP: Anything else you’d like to add?

CM: In conclusion, it is good to try new things and learn new skills. Ballet is incredibly rewarding. Just remember though, it can’t be learned in 6 lessons! Enjoy the journey. 

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