Just the musings of a small-town professional ballerina, business owner, wife, and beagle mama as she attempts to make it through this thing called life.

May 29, 2011

Leotards for All! (Girl Talk Warning)

Ballet dancers wear a very minimal amount of clothing. I mean... We have to! In order to move our bodies we can't have a pair of jeans restricting our movement. So wearing just a leotard and a pair of tights leaves our bodies exposed for all to see every curve in our figure. We'll want to feel confident with what we wear (lest our self esteem should suffer). I myself am particularly curvy. I have wide set hips, a small waist and 30D as a bra size, a size no one carries so I typically wind up wearing a 32C.
 It's very difficult for me to find leotards that look flattering. If the leotard isn't snug to my body then it can make me look very wide. If it's too tight then it makes my chest look bulbous. There has to be some kind of balance in the middle that flatters my curves but also keeps my chest under control. So far I've found a handful of favorites.

Halters are great for a more curvaceous shape. I loved the Natalie leotard so much I ended up buying three different colors.


Misty Copeland is the woman modelling in both of these photos. She is a soloist with the American Ballet Theatre and a rather curvaceous woman herself. Anything she models on Discount Dance Supply is sure to fit a more curvaceous body. She is a huge inspiration to me, proving that girls with a womanly shape can make it in the ballet world.

Look for Misty Copeland as the model and I would suggest giving those leotards a try.

Thanks for reading, everyone!

It's Memorial Day weekend here in the U.S. and I hope everyone enjoys it!
Rhiannon -

May 23, 2011

New York Adventure 2011 (A complete recap... Seriously I'm including every little detail)

Last week I, my mum, sister, one of my ballet instructors and her daughter/grandchildren stormed the big city. I had been to the city several times before but never had the full New York experience. It's impossible to experience all of New York City over the span of two-and-a-half days but we sure did all we could. The overall purpose for this adventure was to see American Ballet Theatre's production of Don Quixote starring Paloma Herrera and Jose Carreno. Now I'll explain what I witnessed in much more detail later but to sum it up in one word now... Breathtaking.
We arrived by bus in New York's Port Authority at 3:15, the weather outside was abysmal and stayed that way for almost all of our trip. Fortunately there will always be enough taxis in the city to get us from point A to point B. :)

(To make browsing the links I've provided easier you can right click on the links and select "open in new tab")

We stayed at the SalisburyHotel on 57th and 7th all the way up on the tenth floor. The suite was lovely but the elevators were, quite honestly, terrifying. One of only two elevators was out of service making for a long line that builds up quickly. At one point an employee was nice enough to take us down in the service elevator and explained to us exactly how old the elevators were. A grand total of eighty-one years. Riding those things multiple times was certainly not an easy endeavor for me as Disney's Twilight Zone Tower of Terror has scarred me for life.

After checking in at the hotel we went in for a fitting at the Grishko store on West 50th (it's fairly close to Times Square). I had vague expectations going into the store. It's very tiny and is located in what looks like an apartment building, buzzer and all. At first sight all you can see is the Thai restaurant it's nestled right beside. (See what I mean here at Google Maps by clicking on "Street View". You see that little gray door? That would be it.) However, inside is a bright and cheery room filled with tutus and leotards. The woman working at the time, Judy, was absolutely fabulous. Within literally two seconds of looking at my feet she could already tell that my left foot is slightly bigger than my right (hardly anyone is aware of that and most fitters don't believe me if I tell them). She fit me in a new brand of Grishkos called Triumph which was the first and only pair of shoes I tried on. They look and feel like a dream but until classes resume I can't judge how I'll feel dancing in them. My teacher and Judy had both danced with American Ballet Theatre's school and spent much of the time reminiscing of teachers and mutual classmates. It may be a small world but the dance world is even smaller. The only possible downside to that store and that overall experience would be the prices (but that's the downside to every shopping experience). A big thanks to Judy Weiss for everything!

With the cloth Grishko bag in hand we headed to the restaurant Serafina for dinner. Apparently Ramona Singer from the Real Housewives of New York had hosted a party there a couple of weeks before (which was pretty cool considering my mother is a fan of that show). It was a lovely and sufficiently quick experience however our dessert is what still has me raving. After dinner, a short rest at the Salisbury and a quick trip to Dylan's Candy Bar (which was amazing) we headed over to Serendipity 3. In a crowded little room decorated with dolls and antiques we sat and watched ice cream sundaes pass by that had to be at least a foot high. Never have I had a dessert as delectable as the Strawberry Supreme. I am a tiny bit obsessed with that little red berry which naturally makes the Strawberry Supreme and ideal dessert for me. A giant bowl of frozen strawberry goodness topped with a generous dollop of whipped cream and a ripe strawberry was put together to make one of the most delicious desserts I've ever ingested. I also had a sip of their famous Frozen Hot Chocolate which was utterly divine (as expected).

So with full stomachs we headed back to the hotel and to bed. But lemme' tell you, for a country girl staying in the city falling asleep to the sound of police sirens isn't as easy as it seems.

The next morning I woke up to an announcement on the news saying that an elevator on 6th Avenue (we were staying on 7th) just plummeted to the ground killing one person and injuring fourteen... I'm sure you can imagine how reassuring that was... I managed to make it downstairs alive and our little clan of seven had a pleasant breakfast at Europa Cafe then taking a subway to Times Square. My teacher doubles as the company's costume and scenery designer and she was in need of some fabric for our winter production of the Nutcracker. So to the fashion district we headed.
No lying, that is a sketchy portion of the city. We endured several strange encounters with shop employees and got to enjoy a trip to Mood, the store made famous by Lifetime's Project Runway, when after several hours of searching a beautiful array of fabrics were cut and paid for and we got the heck out of there.
Finally we made our way to Lincoln Center for shopping/taking the traditional pictures of a ballet dancer doing an arabesque in front of the fountain. (I'm not sure how or when that became a tradition but... Hey, it's fun either way!)

After a late lunch at PJ Clarke's and some clothing shopping around town we went back to the hotel to get dolled up (a rather long process).

In the dreary, drizzly and crappy weather we walked towards Lincoln Center for what was suppose to be a quick dinner at a place called Josephina. My teacher recommended it and told stories of how the ABT dancers would go there for dinner after classes. Despite the delicious food, our service was painfully slow and as you can imagine we were incredibly anxious to get to the theatre (as was the rest of the restaurant). If you ever go there to eat before a show then I suggest that you allow yourself plenty of time to eat.

And now the part that you've all been waiting for... the ballet.

Now first off, this was actually my first professional large-scale ballet that I had ever seen. I've watched thousands of videos and clips but none could ever do justice to actually witnessing the performance. Walking up to the Metropolitan Opera House and feeling the squish of the red carpeted floor beneath my feet was as exciting as it gets. Our seats were spread out through several boxes in the balcony on the far left side. Although it was a slightly obstructed view you could still see all of the action that went on around the center and stage left.

Jose Carreno is in his last year before retirement. After twenty five years of dancing with the American Ballet Theatre he's saying goodbye. Not to offend any other dancers who have performed the enchanting roles of Kitri and Basilio before, but Jose and Paloma are the perfect dancers for those roles. Paloma Herrera truly is Kitri and I've heard many agree that it is undoubtedly her best role. Jose is just the same. He plays the charming and romantic role with such ease that it's hard to believe he's anyone but Basilio. That is what made watching his final performance of Don Quixote alongside Paloma Herrera all the more special.


The entire ballet was utterly beautiful. The first act lively and fun as Paloma flew onto the stage with gigantic leaps. She engages the audience in such an effortless way without even acknowledging that we're there, that much je ne sais quoi is hard to come by. Jose Manuel Carreno steps on stage and all you can think is "gosh he's a work of art." That man is sculpted to perfection and charms the audience just as well as he charms Kitri. What made their performance together most believable was the smaller moments that could be missed with a single blink. A lingering gaze or the way Jose gently sets Paloma down in the start of the second act. They are a perfect on stage couple.
(If you're not familiar with the ballet then read the story here)

Gamache, played by Craig Salstein, was hysterical. Watching some of his comical injuries, like a fall flat to his face, you have to wonder if it actually hurts. Mercedes and Espada played by Veronika Part and David Hallberg were technically incredible although I thought their chemistry (especially compared to Paloma and Jose) was a bit lacking. Part delievered a lovely variation as she danced in between the "flaming" arrows and Hallberg was fittingly strong for the role of a famous matador.

The flower girls danced by Maria Riccetto and Misty Copeland were good counterparts to each other. Riccetto was technically lovely while Copeland danced with fire and performed a fantastic variation in the third act.

During the gypsy scene in the second act Luciana Paris and Joseph Phillips danced the Gypsy Couple and to be honest I would have loved to see more of them. Their chemistry was supreme and I particularly enjoyed Paris's performance for her hindered sensuality. She was flirtatious without being overt. Phillips may as well have been flying with his barrel roll manèges. The only downside to the gypsy scene was the costumes. They lacked color and compared to the scenery were quite dull.

The second act Vision Scene really felt as though you had been submerged in a vision. The corps de ballet placed flawless lines as the Amour played by Sarah Lane adorably danced about them. I don't think I've ever seen (in person or on video) someone play that roll so well. She was so adorable and her tiny figure was perfect to play a Cupid character. Veronika Part came on for her second role as the Dryad Queen and looked as though she were seven feet tall with her long limbs and graceful style. Her grand fouette sequence at the end of her variation (which is extremely difficult, trust me, I've done it) was near to flawless. She was well casted for that role.

Once to the third act I was on the edge of my seat while watching the famous Don Quixote pas de deux. Paloma Herrera executed a balance that lasted at least ten counts. My jaw dropped to the floor and by the end tears were literally streaming down my face. The coda with Paloma's thirty-two rotations including the several doubles was phenomenal and Jose's turns were completely spectacular.

The dancers all took their bows and when Paloma and Jose came in front of the curtain for their final farewell a bouquet of flowers was thrown onto the stage. Paloma fetched it and laid them down at Jose's feet in a sweeping curtsy. Jose toyed with the crowd and knew just how to make them roar. He dashingly soutenued and flew back behind the curtain. I am in awe of the two of them and it's so heartbreaking to think that by now, Jose will never be seen in that role again. Fortunately with today's technology there are plenty of videos to preserve his immense talent for the public audience.
(Mercedes and Espada)

Paloma Herrera and Jose Manuel Carreno as Kitri and Basilio

I cannot put into words how much I enjoyed that performance. Especially during the first intermission when I actually got to touch Paloma Herrera and Diana Vishneva's pointe shoes that were being sold for two-hundred and three-hundred dollars.

So there you have it. My full New York experience. The ballet is truly magical and I'm so glad that I got to see Jose before his official retirement next month.
If you guys have any questions, comments or requests then please leave a comment below or contact me here. I'd like to thank everyone for sticking around even when I didn't have time to post and for continuing to check in now. My company is going "on tour" to perform in two weeks so I'll be sure to write about that. Summer camp is also coming up soon which means a heck of a lot more posts. :)
Hope everyone is having a great end-of-school-year! I'll post again soon!

Ballerinablogger ~

May 19, 2011

In Response to Comments (May 2011)

I decided to do the response for all of your wonderful comments in a post once more. Look for yours below as every comment will have a reply :)

Juliette on 5/19/11: Hi Ballerinablogger!Omg i am soooo glad you are back! I got worried there for a second :) Thanks so much for doing this post for me! It was incredibly helpful ( as always )! Ok i'm off to post a comment on your other new posts now :() Have a lovely day!!!!

Haha thank you Juliette! I'm so glad that I could help :) Keep the comments coming, I love it!
Julie on 5/19/11: Love love love this post!!! so helpful! I'm only 12 but I can't wait to partner when I get older!! Hahaha like the get to know them but you don't have to date them part!!! :) Do you date one of the boys that you dance with?? I just read a post on a blog called 'tights and tiaras' about how most dancers date other dancers... sorry that was REALLY long!! Have a fab day!!

Thanks Julie! I'm so glad that I could help :)
Well, I haven't dated any of partners before but I've definitely had crushes/gotten slightly involved. Personally I wouldn't recommend it at a young age as this but when you're an adult it is, in fact,
Julie on 5/19/11: Thanks so much for this!! My show is coming up too!! I am soo nervous!! What dances are you doing for yours?? What music?? My class is doing two contemporary-ish kind of dances to the songs 'bent out of shape' and 'stop drop and roll' by a band called 'the squirrel nut zippers'!! hahaha weird i know....

For my recital I'm doing a jazz number in pointe shoes, a ballet dance that's actually an excerpt from the ballet "Tarantella" and for tap I'm doing a broadway styled dance to the song "Dig a Little Deeper" from "The Princess and the Frog". Those sound really cool! I wish you luck :)
Juliette on 5/19/11: Hi Ballerinablogger! Me again :) Thanks for this awesome post! the only other thing i would add to your list that is absolutely needed for my recitals are safety pins..... i use them for everything! But other than that love your list, so helpful ( that's all i ever say but it is really true! ) Hope your having a great day!

Very true, Juliette. I can't believe I forgot those ;) Thanks so much and I hope you too have a great day! Break a leg in your recital! :)

Julie 5/19/11: OMG you must of had sooo much fun!!! Did you love New York??? What an amazin experience!Thanks for the response.... that would be so awesome!!! What a great idea! I can't wait thanks so much!!

Thanks Julie! I had SO much fun and I'll put together a special article to tell everyone all about it :)

Anonymous on 5/19/11: Hey! I have a problem... wondering if you could help me? so like my costume for my recital is a blue lyrical dress and it is like really tight. so i just tried it on after class and it is like super see through and thin so you can kinda see everything and my chest is like spilling out of the top and it was so embarrassing!... so i really don't know what to do! Help my show is like really soon!

Ooh, don't worry hun, we've all been there. It's no fun to dance in a costume you feel self conscious in, trust me, I know. First I would suggest buying a nude-colored leotard to wear under the costume. You can find some reasonably priced ones at http://discountdancesupply.com/. If it's possible you could also find a leotard that matches the shape/color of the costume and wear it underneath. That's what I do for the majority of my recital costumes. I'm a 32 C bust size and NO costumes fit me! Don't worry, hun, you're not alone! Good luck! :D

Thanks so much for commenting, lovelies! Keep it up and I hope you're enjoying my posts!

Ballerinablogger ~

Recital Time!

It's about that time that schools are finishing up their year and offering a final performance of the season. I know that during my school's recital it's extremely hectic and everyone is feeling a bit flustered. Here is a list of things that you will need so you can feel better prepared for that year-end show.

  • Costumes. This is a given, but you'd be surprised how many people forget pieces of the costume or their costume altogether! Go through every piece and accessory before leaving for the show.
  • Makeup. Also an obvious one, but you don't want to show up at the auditorium and realize that you've forgotten your lipstick.
  • Hair supplies. Bobby pins, hair pins, brush, elastics, HAIRSPRAY IS A MUST-HAVE!
  • Shoes. Pointe shoes, tap shoes, ballet flats, jazz shoes, character shoes... Whatever you may need, make sure you have them!
  • Water bottle. I know I always like to have a water bottle after I come off stage panting.
  • Warm-ups (optional) You'll probably want to warm up for your number to prevent injury.
  • Bobby pins. I know I already said that but seriously... You'll need a lot of bobby pins.
And there you have it! For other performances I find myself needing more supplies (still not sure why that is) but these are the must-haves of recitals. You can bring an iPod or music playing device to calm yourself down before a show or whatever else you may want to help you feel ready to go out on stage. Break a leg everyone!

Ballerinablogger ~
(My ballet recital 2010)

In Response to Comments

Hello everyone! Once again I've been MIA for a little while. I am so very sorry! I'm currently working on three different performances and was in New York for a few days to see ABT's Don Quixote featuring Paloma Herrera and Jose Carreno!... I'll need a whole separate post to describe my experience because it was simply breathtaking... I cried during the pas de deux!

Anyway, I have a lot of comments that I am just now getting to so since I have so many I decided to respond to them all in post just so everyone knows that I haven't forgotten them! I've got some special things planned for several of the requests that will take a bit longer so everyone WILL have their questions answered and a post dedicated to them, it may just be a little while so I can get all of my research/pictures/videos gathered together.

Look for your comment below!

Julie on 4/25/11: Sorry for so many comments :) but I was wondering if you could do a post on how to prepare for a performance and stop yourself from feeling scared before goin on stage?? Thanks so much! I love this blog!!!!! Have fab day!

I can certainly do a post for that! I actually would like to put together a video interview of different dancers asking them about what they do before a show. It may take a while but I'll have it ready soon :)

Giselle on 5/5/2011: Hi Ballerinablogger! You are absolutely gorgeous and your penche is amazing! What company are you with? what is your fav ballet that you have been in? Thanks for posting! keep the pics coming!

Aww, thank you so much, Giselle! (I love your name, by the way) :) I've decided not to say what company I'm with for privacy reasons but my favorite ballet that I've been in would have to be either Balanchine's Serenade or my recent performance of Sleeping Beauty. Serenade is just so beautiful and I am extremely fortunate to have gotten to perform in it. In Sleeping Beauty I performed the Sapphire and Woodland Glade variations which were surprisingly difficult and offered a fantastic challenge for me. And I love a challenge :) Again, thank you so much!
Juliette on 5/5/11: Hi Ballerinablogger! This post is awesome! Could you maybe do a post about what to bring to your recital, how to prepare for it, etc.? I think that a lot of us have spring shows/recitals and that would be really helpful! Thanks so much!

Sure thing, Juliette! I'll get to work on that as soon as I'm done this post :)
Anonymous on 5/6/11: do u think adam garcia is hot?

Haha yeah! :)

Juliette on 5/6/11: Hi Ballerinablogger! This post was really helpful! Maybe you could do a post about what styles of leo work best for different body types/style preferences? Sorry for all the suggestions :) Hope you have a fabulous night!

No worries, Juliette. I LOVE getting comments! That's a great idea, I'll have to do a little research and maybe a little shopping before I post the article but I'll definitely get to work on that. :) Thanks!
Juliette on 5/6/11: Hi Ballerinablogger! This really has nothing to do with the post except seeing your leos in the pics but i was wondering if you are satisfied with them? Are they supportive? Thanks so much!
Hi! It really depends on the leotard. I find halters can be more supportive than spaghetti straps and on the less supportive ones I definitely feel more self conscious and less comfortable with my body. I think it's important to find a leotard that makes you feel good and confident. It's not an easy task especially for girls with a larger bust size but I promise that it's not impossible!
Izi on 5/8/11:
Hi Ballerinablogger,

Thanks so the post, I found it really helpful. Infact, I was actually going to ask some advice of you about that sort of stuff some time or another.
Thanks again. Hey, if you would like to check out my blog, just head to:
http://www.myballetpointeofview.blogspot.com/, or simply click on the link above. However, if you can't or don't want to, I totally understand.

Izi : )

Hi Izi! I did check out your blog and I really liked it :) Thanks so much for reading and commenting, you and my other followers are just fabulous!

Hannah on 5/17/11: Hey Ballerinablogger! I just wanted to make sure you were okay..... you haven't posted in a while and aren't answering comments. I'm missing your posts and hope you will come back soon!

Hi Hannah! I'm so sorry that I haven't been active to the blogging world in a while. I was in New York for a few days and am currently working on several different performances, busy, busy, busy! However, that's no excuse for neglecting my blog and I am very sorry! I have some great posts coming up so I hope that you guys will stick around to read them. :) Thank you for checking in on me, you're an awesome follower!

Thanks guys! I'll get to work on all of your posts and I hope that everyone is happy with the answers/tips that I'm giving. :)
Ballerinablogger ~

Tips for Partnering

For Juliette-

There's enough information about partnering to fill an entire book. Classical ballet dancing alone and classical ballet dancing with a partner are remarkably different and can be mastered with only one thing, experience.

Now some of us don't have access to male dancers but for those of us who are fortunate enough to have a male friend/classmate who dances then be sure to practice partnering with a coach or teacher nearby. Doing elaborate lifts and turns can be dangerous so be sure not to try anything risky by yourselves.

Here are some tips and things to keep in mind while you're working on dancing with a partner:

  • Wear supportive shoes. Partnering frequently requires one staying on pointe for a long period of time and soft shoes just don't provide the support that you'll need. The longer you stay on pointe, the further and further you sink into the pointe shoe so newer shoes will help a great deal.
  • Stay on your leg. I can't tell you how many times my teacher has reminded me of this. Although it may be the boy's responsibility to put you in the proper position and your job to hold it, during things like supported pirouettes and finger turns, it's your job to keep that standing side straight and to get yourself into that position. Referring back to my post "The Secret to Turning", you have to stay aligned just like in a regular pirouette. Should you start to fall off then that's when the boy steps in to shift you back towards where you want to be. Talk to your teacher and have them show you exactly where you want to be during any pirouette.
  • Spot. When you partner it can be very overwhelming and strange at first. You'll see arms and legs flying all over the place, one second you're on the ground and the next second you're being lifted across the stage. So with all this movement it would be very easy to become dizzy and disoriented. In order to prevent this (especially while turning) you need to spot. I'm sure you've heard your teacher say it before. To spot you must focus on one thing in front of you and leave your head facing that direction as long as possible before whipping it around. Spotting will greatly help prevent the dizzying effect.
  • Practice. Rehearsal time is the only way to perfect a dance. When partnering you don't only have to know that you are ready to perform, you have to feel confident that your partner is ready to perform as well. The way to know that you're both prepared is to seamlessly rehearse your number. That's all there is to it. Once the steps flow smoothly together and you find the right balance between dependence and independence, then you're ready.
  • Communicate. I cannot stress how helpful it is to actually talk to your partner about how you're feeling with the dance. Tell them about how during the supported arabesque you'd like to be held more forward, or how during the preparation for your fish-dive you feel as though you're a bit too far away from him. Let him know what you need and listen to everything that he has to say as well. On top of that, it's fun to get to know your partner so you have an even better chemistry out on the stage, which brings me to my final tip:
  • Get to know each other. More often than not, you can tell when two people are uncomfortable with each other on stage. Now, I'm not saying that you have to date your partner, but it's a good idea to know their personality a little better. Not only does it help your on stage chemistry but you will enjoy yourself more when you're comfortable with the person you're dancing with.

Thanks for reading!
If you have any comments or questions then leave a comment below :)

Ballerinablogger ~