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Affordable Ballet Gear!

I’ve been on the hunt for ballet stuff to upgrade my gear due to filthiness and going up in size, and I’ve been searching high and low for everything from tights to leotards and flats.

It’s a little extra tricky to find bargains online from Australia as most of the big discount suppliers are the U.S.

But I HAVE found a couple of bargains and thought I’d share them here with you because there are so many of us getting either ourselves or our littlies ready for another year of dancing.

So my two favourite bargains have been:

1) Leotards at Capezio Australia that have been reduced. I found one for $5 and one for $10 and I bought them both!

2) And AMAZON! OMG go check it out dancers and dance mums, if you haven’t already! There are women’s tights for around $15AUD including shipping! I’m sure you could get even cheaper prices if you hunted around longer.

Here is the link to the adult tights I think are a bargain: Ballet tights

And here is Capezio Australia’s site address if you wanna go check out their sale items: Capezio Australia

I’ve never hunted for sale items before. It’s a real hoot!

Oh, and I am in no way affiliated with those organisations. Just passing on the info.

Happy hunting!

Zoe

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Positive Changes

Hello my dearest friends, followers and fans,

I haven’t written anything in such a long time. It’s been an interesting year for me to say the least.

My ballet journey has shifted to become a combination of ballet and physio for my physical rehabilitation after my health disorders POTS and Ehlers Danlos Syndrome flared severely 18 months ago.

I became bedbound and have been crawling my way back to functionality ever since — and ballet has played a major role in that recovery.

I’m not recovered yet and we don’t know if I’ll ever be as functional as I was before. We have to remember that it was only this year that I was finally diagnosed with the disorders. So we’ve only truly just begun to understand the cause and effect of my body’s impairments.

I’m actually classified as disabled right now. But I’m hoping, through dedication, the right team, hard work and passion, that I will end up being not only as functional as before, but MORE functional than before.

And all of this means there are changes. My goals and hopes are shifting and what I want to do, write about and talk about is also shifting.

I love everything about ballet. But my interest in the therapeutic benefits of ballet is growing quickly. It’s interesting to remember that I started ballet as therapy for depression, and it worked. Then when I came back to it after my break, I did so as therapy for my body, and it is working again.

Over the past year I have spoken to many doctors and physiotherapists about ballet as a physical therapy and there has been an overwhelming view that it can be a great therapy when done right — and certainly that it is a great therapy for me and my body’s particular issues.

So physical rehab ballet is becoming the core that my whole life revolves around.

And this has lead me to a shift in the focus of my online platforms. 

For a long time my online presence was Bush Ballerina, because when I started ballet, my focus was on trying to learn ballet from the bush with little to no instruction.

But with all the intense changes in my health and subsequently my focus, my path is no longer resonating with ‘Bush Ballerina’. 

I’m more than ballet in the bush now.

So I’ve decided to make some shifts to my online presence so that what I’m doing and what I’m writing about is all synched up. 🙂

The centre of my focus will still be ballet, in both a fun way and in a therapeutic way as well as some of my just me stuff. I also just want to share my personal journey as I recover from an onslaught of two disorders, to a stronger, more functional and healthy person (via ballet). Because I think a lot of people can resonate with having to fight to get yourself to a better place.

But it will all mainly be focused on ballet. Because I believe that is what is at my core recovery. And because ballet is beautiful to me.

I realise few people will even be interested in the reasons I’m making these changes, but I felt the desire to explain for those who are interested.

And to explain the change from ‘Bush Ballerina’.

I’m not sure what the name shift will be yet. I feel like using my middle name, so Zoe Inez. It might just be something plain like ‘Zoe Inez – Adult Ballerina’ or something a little more specific like ‘Zoe Inez – Ballet Therapy’. I’ll work that out soon and let you know. 

I’m open to suggestions! Haha.

I can’t wait to get going with the new focus. I have so much enthusiasm for where I’m coming from now and I feel like this is going to allow me to be more authentic about my journey, will which allow for a lot more interesting, fun and beautiful content.

I hope you all continue to twirl along this journey with me because I cherish you all so much.

Love and light,

Zoe

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I Am Master

I am master of myself. Only myself.

I am master of my flaws, beauty, wrinkles, memories, dreams, hopes, fears and disappointments.

I am master of my broken pieces.

I am master of my healing.

I have knowledge, experience, standing and qualifications.

But I am master only of myself.

Dance fiercely…

Zoe xxx

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Hello Old Self, Good To See You Again…

Inch by inch, progress is being made. Actually more like millimetre by millimetre. But the amount really doesn’t matter, it’s progress all the same. 🙂

I’ve been slowly slowly just motioning through this tough as hell physical rehab. [‘motioning’ = going through the motions.] And every now and then I get a tiny little breakthrough that makes me feel like there is hope for progress. 

Most importantly these breakthroughs make me feel more like my old self. 

No, my ‘old self’ wasn’t something special on the dance floor. No, we’re not talking about a prima ballerina in recovery here. 

But fuck titles, I’m a person, a woman, a human being, an adult ballet student — and what I want to achieve is just as important as a prima ballerina.

So, yeah, I want to feel like my old, struggling, flying-to-get-to-ballet-classes, beginner ballet student self. I love that self. And I love when I feel a smidge of it again.

So today, my breakthrough was higher, stronger developpé positions. I had done the rest of my class and then I was doing some gentle developpés. I was about to begin and heard myself ask ‘could I go higher this time?’ and then I heard myself answer simply, ‘do you want to do it?’ A moment of calm and clear came over me and I just went into it, lifted my leg up, pulled up and really held the extended leg with strength. I felt my core engaged and all my working leg muscles engage as well as my standing leg. I broke my first sweat, since being back at ballet, right then in that moment. 

It. Was. Awesome.

How we see ourselves has such a huge impact on how we behave, our actions — which in turn create who we are. 

I want you all to see yourselves as strong, worthy, capable beauties. Because you all are. We all are.

We may be limited in certain ways. We are certainly all flawed. But nothing can stop your beauty from shining through.

Let down your guard. Be okay with yourself. And watch the miracles of self-acceptance start bursting into life.

I’m more than okay with you. I reckon y’all rock!

I’ll leave you with a photo of me resetting my heart rate after doing the fondu.

Be proud of you,

Zoe xxx

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This Time Around

This time round on my ballet journey, I have the power of knowledge alongside me. I am aware of my body’s strengths and weaknesses.

It’s funny because, although this time round I have many many more challenges, I am choosing to see those challenges as opportunities to do things the right way for me, and therefor achieve more of my dreams and goals.

Last time, I had hopes and dreams but was continuously failing. I was continuously feeling my body crumble when it didn’t seem like it should.

I was being told my body was perfect for ballet and “should” be able to make all these perfect ballet shapes if I tried hard enough.

I also had a strange fear of movement. I began to get over that fear while I was at the barre — in fact, Iearned to adore the feeling of movement at the barre, and I even started feeling a little more confident with some pirouettes.

But move me away from the barre and I completely froze up.

I remember during my first private class my teacher tried to teach me a very simply pas de bourree with a simple relaxed pirouette on the end.

But it was the strangest thing. It felt like I was learning to walk again. Like everything was foreign to me. Like I didn’t even know my left from my right. Like I didn’t even know my own name anymore.

I used to walk away from centre time feeling so deflated. I didn’t understand why my body felt so weak in the centre and I didn’t feel like it would ever end.

(I do have to add that my in-class teachers were wonderful. They would always say, ‘Just give it a try!’ They could see I was really struggling and didn’t make me feel worse for it. And I am incredibly grateful for that!)

Now, after having experienced such a massive physical breakdown, and doctors finally being forced to pay attention — and that attention leading to the right diagnoses’ and now treatment, has meant that I actually know now why my body was not ‘failing’ but struggling with certain elements and why I felt so awkward doing centre work. Yes, there are actual physiological reasons for it!

So many things make sense to me now.

I remember during my hardest days a few months ago, I would lie there, unable to speak properly, unable to stand up, unable to wash myself, pain searing through my body, and I would try to think of the good things in my life. I found them in my children and my hopes for better times some day. But it was bloody hard to find them. Some days I was too consumed by my suffering to find them and I just wished for the day to end. 

But I never thought I would one day look back at that time and see it as a vital part of my future success.

And that is what it is. (I am not ignorantly suggesting that this is how it is for all chronic illness sufferers. We all have our own journeys.)

There will be many ups and downs ahead. And my daily grind is still a pretty heavy grind.

But now I am armed with knowledge and am moving forward in an achievable way, giving my body all the support and understanding it needs, to get me where I want to go.

And understanding makes ALL the difference. I’m no longer confused. I no longer feel like a failure. I feel more confident that I can achieve my dreams than I have ever felt before — because I have adjusted my dreams and the ways I intend on achieving them.

I may have health issues that are making me see things in this new light, but I think it’s relatable to everyone who may start to feel that pressured feeling about what they’re trying to achieve.

I suggest we all stop comparing ourselves to others and start learning about our own bodies, how we work and don’t work and start working WITH ourselves rather than against ourselves. As that is how I see the greatest growth happening.

Zoe xxx

P.S remember, if you like it… share it! 🙂

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How-To — Stretching For Adult Ballerinas

OMG! My first how-to post! I’m so excited!

Firstly, remind yourself while you attempt these stretches that you’re only human.

Some people say there is a right and wrong way of doing stretches.

I tend to think it’s all a bit open to interpretation.

Okay, so here are the stretches I want to show you today. Enjoy! 🙂

1) The Floor Has Never Felt So Fucking Far Away

This stretch is to release the hamstrings. You want to gently reach down to the floor.

It helps if you stretch your fingers out really wide and express all your pain with your face.

Visualization has been proven to be a powerful tool. Being able to see yourself reaching further may help your progress. So hallucinogenic fungi might be helpful for this one.

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2) The Crotch Cramp 

In this stretch you want to place your foot on the barre and gently reach for it. If you feel your crotch starting to cramp up, you’re probably on the right track.

It’s important to aim for straight legs and back in this stretch. But most important is that you fully express how badly you want to reach your foot.

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3) The Crotch Cramp — With Port De Bras and Happy Face. 

When you are feeling confident with your execution of The Crotch Cramp stretch, it is probably time to add some delicate ballet arms and ballet face to the pose.

When doing this, you simply want to do the same as the previous stretch, but add some lovely fifth position arms and turn toward the camera/audience/teacher and express your best, delicate, in control, poised ballet smile.

Again, it’s important to hold straight legs and back. But more importantly, your smile should hide the pain you and your crotch are in.

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4) The Barre Hang

This stretch is important for developing your front splits. It’s mainly just important that you look really proud of yourself and that you hold on really tight so that you don’t fall onto the floor and break your vagina.

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5) The Barre Hang — With Port De Bras

This stretch is fairly self explanatory. You are simply adding some lovely port-de-bras to the previous stretch. We do this because adding another level of complexity to our exercises always helps us progress so much more (as you can see in the photo demonstration.)

It’s really important to relax into this stretch.

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I hope you have found this how-to tutorial helpful. If you would like to see any other how-to tutorials from me, let me know in the comments or on one of the social media gatherings.

Zoe xxx

****DISCLAIMER****

This is a joke.

This is not real instruction.

Don’t do these stretches like this.

Don’t stretch without being really warm first, and I don’t mean warm in front of a fire, I mean having warm muscles.

Don’t stretch without instruction from someone.

Don’t pull those faces.

Don’t be stupid.

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Sleeping Beauty — The Pre-Show Class

As we approached and entered the venue, I nervously clutched my clipboard, upon which were the names of all the people involved in making this moment possible.

I felt sure that someone was going to stop me and gently inform me that this was all a big confusing mistake and I am not actually allowed in to watch the dancers in their pre-show class on stage.

I had my reply all worked out and running on repeat round and round in my head, for when they tried to tell me the dream was over.

So it was a pleasant surprise when we entered and asked for Hans, the production manager, and the woman behind the desk simply got up and walked us up some stairs all nonchalantly.

She asked us to wait outside the auditorium while she went to find Hans.

We waited. I ran more thoughts through my head about how ridiculous this whole idea was. And how Hans was sure to laugh at my bizarre request.

So I was even more surprised when a bubbly Hans walked out of the auditorium towards me, shook my hand and said: “Zoe! Ali told me you’d be coming today. So you want to come and watch class? Come on in.” And then continued to guide hubby and I through to the auditorium.

What? Just like that… I’m in? Seems to easy.

SPOILER ALERT: Nothing bad happened. No nets. No traps. No quicksand. Just a lovely afternoon stargazing at amazing dancers.

As we walked, Hans chatted calmly about menial (to him) things like what time the production crew had arrived and what time the dancers had arrived. When we finally got within view of the stage he chuckled and commented about how tiny the stage here was. And that this meant that they had to rearrange parts of the show so that they could fit on the stage.

I was pretty amazed by how difficult it would be for the dancers and choreographers to adjust their whole show in such a short amount of time — and then remember those adjustments the whole night long.

I asked Hans: “So the dancers have to learn all those changes between now and tonight’s show?” And Hans replied, with a smile: “Yeah. But they’re good at it.” The reply came with an air of intense confidence and struck a chord within me. A chord that was to remain poignant throughout the rest of the day and night.

Hubby and I found ourselves a seat in the auditorium. As there were no other spectators, I wanted to find a seat out of the way, where I wouldn’t feel so noticeable. But that just wasn’t going to happen. The lights were shining brightly down on all the seats — there was no safe zone. I just had to sit and enjoy.

Enjoyment didn’t take long.

As soon as I sat down my eyes were glued to the stage. Glancing off only occasionally to observe other crew members and ponder what their role might be.

The barres were set for class, the dancers lay about on the floor stretching every inch of their bodies while their conversational chatter bubbled away.

As the teacher started verbally running through the first combination, I was surprised to see that several of the dancers took their places at the barre to begin, while others continued to stretch a while longer before joining in. This casual approach, joining in when they felt ready/warm enough, wasn’t what I was expecting. Yes, clearly I am a novice to the pro-ballet world!

It wasn’t long before I had that magical moment that I have heard other dance students talk about. The moment when the language of ballet crosses the boundaries of all other languages.

I was listening to this thick Russian dialect being spoken on stage, when I realised I was understanding what was being said. This felt a little weird at first, and I was all like… wait, I don’t know Russian! But then I realised…

When the teacher was telling the dancers what exercises to do, he wasn’t speaking Russian, he was speaking ballet!

Amazing!! That was seriously amazing to experience. Absolutely loved that moment.

So the class got underway. My next surprise was the gorgeous laid back music they were dancing to. It almost sounded bluesy. Didn’t really sound like any classical ballet class music I had heard. And I LOVED it. It was extremely relaxing and mixed well with the continued, albeit quieter, chatter that bounced around the stage. The beginning of this class looked exactly like “warming up” should look in my mind.

[Sometimes I feel like the immediate rigidity that comes over me when I enter the classroom creates tension in both my body and mind, which works against the warming up process that is supposed to be unlocking ourselves to become looser and more pliable.]

The class picked up in intensity and the warmer the dancers got, the less they chatted until by the end of barre work, apart from the occasional comment or joke thrown in from the teacher (yes, he actually joked and laughed), they were pretty much silent as they concentrated on pushing the boundaries of their bodies.

They did an entire class including barre and centre work.

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It was surreal to watch such incredible dancers move their bodies, in real life, right in front of me. As an adult beginner, it was awe inspiring and really special. I felt like I had stepped into a sacred ceremony. So beautiful.

Once centre work was finished it was time for them to work on rehearsals and adjust to this tiny stage they would be dancing on tonight.

It was time for us to leave at this point. So I breathed in this magical scene one last time and hubby and I went off for some dinner.

But it wasn’t long before we were back at Lismore City Hall for the show.

And they didn’t disappoint.

At this point I come back around to that incredible adaptability that this company has to have. These performers had arrived in town that afternoon and within 3 hours they had warmed up, done class, worked on their adjustments to the tiny stage they were on, done make-up and costumes and were ready to perform.

And let’s not fairy-tale it, these guys wouldn’t all be injury free and without health issues, but they just push on. It must be completely grueling, but the show literally must go on.

I kept thinking about this through the evening as I watched them all create magic on the stage. Their level of professionalism is astounding.

And it was magical. They are gorgeous dancers and they filled the auditorium with wonder and awe.

This show is awesome. Beautiful, stunning and whimsical. And as all ballets I have ever seen, it seemed to end too soon.

I would like to thank Moscow Ballet La Classique for allowing me to come along to the pre-show class and for bringing their ballet to our region. You are brilliant. I love you!

I would also like to thank Grand International Concerts, in particular Ali, for helping me gain access to the pre-show class, and NORPA and Lismore City Hall for their contributions in bringing ballet to our region.

When all these organisations come together, you get the blessing of ballet reaching people who ordinarily might never be able to see it.

This is always an amazing thing.

Sometimes it is a life-changing thing.

To see more about these organisations, you can follow the links below…

Moscow Ballet La Classique

Grand International Concerts

NORPA

Lismore City Hall