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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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When You Can't Be A Ballerina

A common grief among adult ballet dancers is the loss of ever being able to be a ballerina — of ever being able to truly live the life of a ballerina, the whole 24/7 package.

I’m sure there are many parts of that lifestyle that we don’t fully understand. I’m sure all the blisters, injuries, pain, pressure and rejection are things we cannot fully wrap our tantalised minds around. But the great sense of injustice at finding ballet so late in our lives, that many of us feel, usually overshadows those real-life ballerina issues. Most of the time.

So then, what do you do, how do you fill the ballerina gap, when you can’t be a ballerina?

Well, you can start by celebrating the fact that you don’t have all that pressure on you. You don’t HAVE to keep dancing on that injury or risk losing your employment. You don’t HAVE to do anything in ballet.

For adult ballet dancers, it is all about what we WANT to do.

Sure, sometimes (often) in class our teachers might make us feel that we should be focusing on a million things that feel impossible, but that’s only what the teacher wants — again, we don’t HAVE to do anything we don’t WANT to do.

So, we can set our sights on almost anything! 

Triple pirouettes

Jetes

Stronger feet

Feeling the music

Feeling like a ballerina

Laughing with friends

Fondues

Port de bras

Anything. ANYthing! ANY THING! 

(Well, aside from the pro-ballerina thing)

Remember to believe in yourself. 

You are allowed to set goals, dream and achieve. 

You are allowed to want more. 

You are allowed to strive for the best you can be.

You are allowed to strike a fabulous ballet pose, and feel as proud of yourself as if you were that professional ballerina that you feel is inside you. 

Tiny tots starting their first ballet class, girls graduating senior ballet, boys navigating a seemingly feminine world of ballet, professional ballerinas, adult beginner ballet students, ballet teachers, advanced adult ballet students and audiences who love watching ballets on stage — we’re all part of the same thing. We’re all part of ballet.

So what can you do when you can’t be a pro ballerina?

Whatever the fuck else you can imagine. Whatever else you can dream up.

Go forth and conquer the moment. Your moment. 

Enjoy it. Revel in it. Own it.

And always remember…

You deserve to be in the room.

Zoe xxx 

 

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Dear Dream Seekers…

Dear Dream Seekers,

You are wonderful. You are inspiration. You are life being lived.

I love seeing so many adult ballerinas emerging currently. Particularly on Instagram, it’s like watching these beautiful buds of hidden desires start opening their dare-to-dream petals and blossom into the most beautiful, soulful dancers.

Something I have noticed is that there seems to be an ever persistent pressure flowing from within many of the adult ballet students I see.

Inner pressure to be good at something we love is not a new thing. It is natural to want to progress.

And I am no stranger to that inner pressure. I felt it. I breathed it in and out, day and night. And it happily went and killed my love of ballet (for a while.)

And so I feel a little sad when I see people putting huge amounts of pressure on themselves to be better at something they love.

I mean, if you love it, then you should be doing it for love.

Let’s repeat that: If you love it, you should be doing it for love.

I know that you want progress. And I know that the ballet studio is a pretty intense place regarding your progress — indeed, it can sometimes feel like a comparison festival is happening in each class.

Everything you want is a valid desire. Improvement, enjoyment, strength, musicality, memories, flexibilities. It’s up to you what you want to aim for. It’s your life. Your choice. No-one else can, or has the right to, choose them for you.

But please be sure to think about it first. Think about you and what you really want because of how those things make YOU feel.

Don’t look at what someone else is doing and just follow along. God knows, you might wake up ten years from now able to do the splits but not able to dance in the centre. You might then shake your fists in the air and scream at yourself for following the splits trend only because it was what others were doing — and you missed getting your teacher to help you learn some amazing mini-solo piece that feels like heaven to dance.

Don’t set yourself up to one day wreak of regret.

So, with that in mind, what I do hope you do is sit with yourself a while. Ask yourself what you feel in this moment you want to do — like actually do right now — because you never know what amazing idea might have been waiting to flow through you but just hasn’t had the window opened to it before.

Then, ask yourself what you think you might regret NOT doing in twenty years time. I usually get my deepest inspirations flowing from this one.

Then lovingly think about all the things you, your body and mind, are good at doing. Really appreciate those things. If ballet is your thing, maybe you’re really musical and your body just naturally flows with the music, maybe you have lovely hand expressions, maybe you have a sparkly passion, maybe you have strong muscles, maybe you can smile during class (harder for some than others!), maybe you understand combinations, maybe you are flexible, or have lovely feet, or maybe you feel your soul fill up during ballet class.

These are all wonderful elements of what you do and of how you feel. I feel it’s important to fully embrace them. Soak yourself in the things about you and your passion, that you love.

When thinking about what goals to set yourself, or what path to set off on, I think it’s really important to take stock first, of all the wonderful parts of yourself that already exist within your passion.

I would look at what you love doing now, look at what you would regret not doing, and set your path accordingly.

If achieving the splits for ballet is part of that path then set your goals and go for it. If it’s smiling more during class, or learning a combination, or performing — then set your goals and go for them.

But be sure to start your intentional path with the full acceptance of how incredible you already are.

Be sure that you don’t discount all of your gloriousness and just focus on what you cannot yet do. If you do that you will be starting your journey with a destructive cycle of focusing on your downfalls. You should be real about yourself. But leave the negativity at the door. If negative self-worth is already an issue for you then I would suggest adding that to your goals — “Learn to love myself for all that I am.” That, and if neccesary, see a therapist, because honestly, that bullshit will become a serious obstacle to you fully realising your dreams.

So, in summary…

1) Align your goals with what YOU enjoy doing and what you feel you will regret not doing.

2) Make sure to begin your path to your goals/dreams/passions swimming in self-appreciation for all the wonder you already are.

Always remember why you’re doing it.

Always respect yourself for doing it.

Always hold your head high.

Remember,

You deserve to be in the room.

Zoe xxx

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Capezio Review — 2

Okay then, dearest readers, it’s time to let you all know what I think of some more Capezio dance gear products I’ve tried recently.

Canvas Juliet Ballet Flats

Immediate impression:

“Ooooh, lovely!” That’s what I thought when I first saw these shoes. I really love their very light creamy colour. They feel soft to the touch on the outside and have the same brushed cotton/polyester inner lining that the leather Juliets have, so they  also feel very smooth.

They also have pre-sewn elastics which are a bonus for me.

How they fit and feel on:

These shoes feel really good on my feet. Like the leather Capezio Juliet flats these shoes also have a comfy slipper or sock feeling to them thanks to the soft lining.

They fit my narrow and long foot and the shape is just generally a very comfy one. The canvas material doesn’t feel harsh at all. They also have the slightly higher heel coverage which, again, didn’t sway me one way or the other. I suppose if your flats normally slide off your heel, these would be a nice change.

They have the diamond gusset which hugs the arch of your foot and that feels immediately nice, even before you get to work.

How they look on (are they stylin’?):

Yes! They are totally stylin’! I LOVE the look of these flats. They kind of just blend in with everything else. Which I love. Then of course you have that flattering arch hug which compliments your feet well.

How they perform:

These flats performed really well for me. My two favourite aspects are the way the diamond gusset feels on my arch and how much I really can feel my feet working in them.

They stay on my foot, don’t twist around on my foot and my feet didn’t feel heated up in them.

I really liked these shoes when working in them.

Do I recommend them?…

Yes. Definitely recommend these flats. Of course, everyone’s different, but they feel great for me.

I think these shoes are just going to get better and better with time and work, too. And I can’t wait for that. Can’t wait to wear them in more.

The Capezio Canvas Juliet Flats…

You can find this product here: Canvas Juliets

Classic Knits 18″ Stirrup Leg Warmers

Immediate impression:

Cute. Warm. Soft. Lovely.

The colour of these lovelies is called plum and it reminds me of a lovely dusty purple colour.

How they fit and feel on:

These legwarmers feel beautiful on. They fit my legs fine. No itchy-scratchy. They do their job without adding massive weight as they are super light. You kind of don’t really feel them on, your ankles and calves just feel warmer. Which is really exactly what you want.

How they look on (are they stylin’?):

I love the look of these legwarmers. They are definitely a simple design, rather than a fancy one and their shape and lovely soft colour make them very pretty. They can hug the calf or fold around the ankle.

I think they’re really pretty and, yes, stylin’ muchly. 🙂

How they perform:

Great! As I said above, I didn’t notice these legwarmers being on my legs while I was working, which is a good thing. They stay up where you tell them to stay and they just kept my ankles and calves nice and warm.

Do I recommend them?…

I’m a big fan of leg warmers. I often find myself wearing them before and after class too as my ankles and calves like to be kept warm. And these leg warmers are definitely on my recommend list.

The Capezio Classic Knits 18″ Leg Warmers…

You can find this product here: Leg Warmers

Classic Knits Wrap Sweater

Immediate impression:

Cuuuuuuute! 🙂

Lovely colour. The same plum as the leg warmers. Nice shape. Very warm and good quality, which is what you would expect from a company like Capezio.

I particularly liked the gorgeous little crocheted detail on the edge of the wrists. Not sure if they’re still selling this wrap in this colour anymore, but I love it.

How it fits and feels on:

This wrap feels nice on. It is warm and would be a great wrap for cool/cold weather. It fits my body well without any bunching up anywhere. The arms are a little short for me, but that is more of an issue with my arms being extra long rather than a product issue.

How it looks on (is it stylin’?):

Oh, I think this wrap is so cute and totally stylin’. Yes. Yes. Yes.

How it performs:

It performs well. Feels comfortable and doesn’t twist around on me while I’m working. It does its job well.

Do I recommend it?…

Yes. Absolutely. This is such a cute wrap. Would be a comfortable, pretty, addition to the dance wardrobe.

The Capezio Classic Knits Wrap Sweater …

You can find this product here: Classic Knits Wrap Sweater

Hope you all enjoyed this review. I am really loving all these products.

Zoë xxx

 

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Seriously. Shake it Off.

YOU ARE AWESOME.

YOU ARE JUST RIGHT.

YOU ARE ENOUGH.

Don’t worry about what other people say. Just be you. ‘Cause that’s what the world needs. Just you being you.

And to back me up on this concept I’ve recruited my fan-girl-crush Taylor to share her awesome words of truth.

P.S – Check out the video. It’s the outtakes of Taylor with the ballerinas shooting her video and it’s fabulous. I especially love seeing the ballerinas at the end of the clip shaking it off. Such a gorgeous pick-me-up.

Advice from Taylor:

I stay up too late, got nothing in my brain
That’s what people say mmm, that’s what people say mm
I go on too many dates, but I can’t make ’em stay
At least that’s what people say mmm, that’s what people say mmm

But I keep cruising, can’t stop, won’t stop moving
It’s like I got this music in my body and it’s gonna be alright

‘Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play
And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate
Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off
Heartbreakers gonna break, break, break, break, break
And the fakers gonna fake, fake, fake, fake, fake
Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off

I’ll never miss a beat, I’m lightning on my feet
And that’s what they don’t see mmm, that’s what they don’t see mmm
I’m dancing on my own (dancing on my own), I’ll make the moves up as I go (moves up as I go)
And that’s what they don’t know mmm, that’s what they don’t know mmm

But I keep cruising, can’t stop, won’t stop grooving
It’s like I got this music in my body saying it’s gonna be alright

‘Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play
And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate
Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off
Heartbreakers gonna break, break, break, break, break
And the fakers gonna fake, fake, fake, fake, fake
Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off

I, I shake it off, I shake it off
I, I shake it off, I shake it off
I, I shake it off, I shake it off
I, I shake it off, I shake it off

Hey, hey, hey, just think while you’ve been getting down and out about the liars and dirty, dirty cheats in the world you could have been getting down to this sick beat

My ex-man brought his new girlfriend
She’s like “oh my God”, but I’m just gonna shake it
And to the fella over there with the hella good hair
Won’t you come on over, baby, we can shake, shake, shake

‘Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play
And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate
Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off
Heartbreakers gonna break, break, break, break, break
And the fakers gonna fake, fake, fake, fake, fake
Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off

I, I shake it off, I shake it off
I, I shake it off, I shake it off
I, I shake it off, I shake it off
I, I shake it off, I shake it off
I shake it off, I shake it off
I, I shake it off, I shake it off
I, I shake it off, I shake it off
I, I shake it off, I shake it off

Big thanks to Taylor for having a personality independent of what other people think of her and for just generally rocking.

Take care everyone.

Bush xxx

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Meet Rael!

Dear readers,

It is my delight to introduce you to one of adult ballet’s finest, Rael Oudshoorn.

Rael was a huge support and inspiration to me when I first started ballet, as I am sure she was to many others. She is a gorgeous, funny, caring chick so let’s get to it!

It’s time to meet Rael…

Rael Oudshoorn

Why did you take up ballet as an adult?

I did ballet when I was younger, and I really enjoyed it. Unfortunately, there came a time in which I had to choose between ballet and horse riding, and I chose horse riding. I couldn’t do both because I had a brother and a sister that also cost money due to their study and other hobbies. In the end I got back to dancing when I was around 12, but that was street dance and I didn’t really like it because it didn’t feel graceful AT ALL.
Once So You Think You Can Dance first aired in The Netherlands I was hooked. I couldn’t stop thinking; what if I started dancing again? It seemed so weird, going back to dancing, alone. W
hen I told people that I wanted to get back to ballet they looked at me like I had two heads. Seriously? Ballet, as an adult? Well.. yeah!
I finally found the courage to sign myself up for a test class. I was so freaking nervous!! I didn’t know what to expect and I didn’t know what to wear, I felt like everything would make me look like a complete fool!
In the end I know I started dancing again because I just couldn’t live without dance in my life, one way or another.

What do you love most about ballet classes?

The structure, the predictability but also the fact that I have to focus. I really have to watch my technique and that makes it something I can really work with. I have to be challenged, no matter what sport it is I do. I do consider ballet as a sport, I never would have thought that it would be so difficult! When I was younger, everything was so easy breezy.. Now I really have to work my butt off to compete with other dancers in my class and I love it. Also, it makes me feel feminine and soft, whereas in normal life I am everything but!

Has ballet had a big effect on your life? If yes, in what way?

I think so. It made me more aware of my body, with all its flaws but also with all its strengths. It also made me have an outlet for my musicality and for my restlessness. Nowadays, I am addicted to watching ballet videos, I dance around the house and I have a whole new appreciation for music. I don’t see it solely as a thing to listen to and to shut off my thoughts, I even choreograph tiny little dances in my mind!
I don’t think this ballet addiction will ever cease to exist, that is why I firmly believe that ballet has changed my life.

What has your experience of adult ballet teachers been?

I have only had two teachers for classical ballet. One was great and the other still is great. They both had different styles of teaching that made it very nice to be in their class. If I had questions for one teacher and that teacher didn’t have a way of explaining it to me that I could grasp, the other would be able to cut it into little pieces that I could understand.
They are both really supportive, and they can be strict when they need to. I think I like that, actually!
T
he guest teachers I have had were all very lovely. They know that you are an adult so they take it a bit slower than they would with younger dancers, but still they manage to challenge you!

Is there anything you would like adult ballet teachers to do more or less of? (You can give a joke answer like “less frappes”, as well as your serious answer, if you like.)

I would like it if adult ballet teachers would allow more room for personal interpretation. I know I said that I love the structure of a ballet class, but it is also the feeling that dancing gives me that I really love. I would like to do some more improvisation in class, that would be really, really awesome. When you do improv you have a chance to find your inner dancer, your own style. I think it is also a way to become more comfortable in class, with the people you dance with. (And yes, I would love it if teachers would stop with the frappes already!!)

Most embarrassing ballet class moment?

I think that has to be my fall(s) – yes, plural. I fell two times in class, but hey, our floor is slippery! Both times I fell were during diagonal exercises, we had to do a waltz combination across the floor and I tried to do a double pirouette… I tried, and, well, I failed! The only thing you can do is dust yourself off and try again.

If you could see any ballet anywhere in the world, which ballet would you see and where would you see it?

I would love to go to Russia to see a ballet of the Mariinsky company or the Bolshoi. Both are fine, really!! I saw Diana Vishneva in The Netherlands in Giselle and I still dream about that. It was so amazing! I think nothing beats Russian ballerinas! Svetlana Zakharova, anyone?!

If you could be taught by any teacher, either alive today or from the past, who would it be and why? (This can include your current teacher.)

I would love to be taught by Margot Fonteyn. Nureyev and Fonteyn were such a dream couple, even though they are not alive today they are a phenomenon. I still watch their videos and I think that Margot could really teach me about putting feeling into my dancing and overcoming physical problems (like technique, bad feet, flexibility) with performance!

If you could dance a pas de deux with anyone in the world, who would it be and why?

Well, not totally relevant to my previous question but it would be Mikhail Baryshnikov. I think he is such a good looking man, he aged so well.. and his technique and jumps, they are so amazing. He is certainly a candidate to be my partner (if only he wanted to!!)

Have you received either negative judgement or positive support about starting ballet as an adult? How did the positive support make you feel? And how did you deal with the negative stuff?

The weird thing is, everybody I knew looked at me weird when I told them I wanted to start dancing again. Only now that I’m actually dancing again, they are all super supportive. My boyfriend has to suffer my ballet-o-mania but he is really cool about it. He comes to my recitals and he enjoys watching me dance. My sister is a really big fan too! I love having positive people around me in this manner. All the people I met through ballet are very cool too. Negative judgement hasn’t happened to me, everybody is full of curiosity when I tell them about my hobby.

Thank you so much, Rael, for participating. I learned a lot from your perspective. I especially love the idea of learning more about our inner dancer and our unique style.

Hope everyone else enjoyed this as much as I did.

Comments are open if you wish to let us know what you loved most about this interview.

Thanks for reading!

Bush xxx

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Please Don't Believe in Me

… because seriously, it would be so much easier that way.

The drums of negative self-belief could keep beating.

My heart could stay caged.

The comfort zone of all I have ever seen could remain securely in my surrounds.

I wouldn’t have to step even a toe through that grating, uncomfortable barrier that has been gripping me so tightly.

I could continue to avoid confronting what has kept me here…

…in this place of “I can’t” and “I don’t deserve”.

I can dodge the pain that comes with asking “Why?”

I could continue to feel as though all is right.

I could avoid the fight.

But ya know, I can’t do any of that, when you take my hand and walk me to the land of believing.

When you gently and magically clear the dust and show me what could be.

When you matter-of-factly show me what I could do. How I could feel. What Ideserve.

When you tell me you think I can.

These notions fill my mind with crazy ideas of…

Hope.

Belief.

Pride.

OMG. Wait, what? “Pride?”

That is the strangest damn sensation I’ve ever experienced.

How about..

Confidence?

Strength?

Capability?

I have only started feeling these things since starting ballet. And more intensely since going to Studio Tibor and getting such amazing ballet /therapy from Tibor and Vadym.

My first class at QLD Ballet moved things around in me also — and I’m not talking about pie!

(Because despite being an activity that requires much correction, it is somehow a nurturing expansive experience in which you cannot help but progress in some way.)

And now, as I stare down the barrel of more and more ballet, with more and more confronting of internal beliefs, this crap just gets louder and louder.

I know I have to move through them all. And I will. And it will be a sublime day when I reach the other side.

I want to thank my teachers for being such a huge inspiration.

And I want all you wonderful amazing adult dancers out there to know that I am so intensely inspired by each of you. Whether you relate to my self-belief journey or not, doesn’t matter to me.

I read your stories and hear your journeys and they fill me up with such admiration. You give me a sense of tangible possibility.

“If they can, I can!”

I can live my belief vicariously through you all. And I do. 😉

But for now, I was thinking, maybe we could substitute “I believe in you” with something else, you know, like so as to avoid direct contact with the big “B”? Maybe something like…

“Those apples are lovely.” Or…

“The weather’s looking good.” Or…

“Your arse looks great in those jeans.”

I was thinking, you know, if I throw a nice developpe or pirouette, I could handle a little “Those apples are lovely” waaaaaaaay easier than a direct compliment on my dancing.

Yeah! Let’s do that!

If someone says any of the above to me I’m just going to go ‘Oh, cool!’

No freak out. No need to run to the nearest corner and take to the fetal position.

I wanted to share this with others now because of the vague possibility that it might help someone else. I don’t want others to feel they are alone in feeling self-doubt or that you will never get to where want to be.

You are not alone. We can move forward together.

You will be awesome!

But for now — please don’t tell me you believe in me.

Just tell me the weather’s looking good. 😉

P.S — Your arse looks great in those jeans.

2*Disclaimer: This post was an emotional overflow. Probably no harm will come to those who use the “B” word. 😉

Bush xxx