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Jul 14, 2014

Guest Post from Amanda Howard: Staying Hydrated



 
Staying hydrated is the most important thing to remember especially in the summer. As dancers, we sweat all the time and with the summer sun blazing down on us it makes it hard to stay hydrated.
Try to make sure that you have a full water bottle with your wherever you go. Marie Scioscia, nutritionist at The Ailey School says “Dancers who are moving continuously for 60 minutes or more should rehydrate with a half-cup of water every hour.” Now I know that water in and of itself can get a little boring, so supplement it with electrolyte filled beverages that are low in sugar.
 
 
I recommend adding lemon to your water. It adds flavor and changes things up a bit. The lemon helps to balance your pH levels, is loaded with potassium, has anticancer properties, aids in digestion, supports weight loss, and prevents bloating.


 
Another way to make your water interesting is by adding a powdered drink pack. The ones I use have antioxidants, vitamins, and electrolytes in them to make them that much more healthy. I would naturally recommend that you stick to the powdered drink flavors that don’t have any artificial sweeteners. The best ones that you can buy would be sweetened with Stevia. It’s better for you because it has a lower glycemic level than sugar and is a lot healthier than artificial sweeteners. You can purchase these pretty much anywhere, but I get mine at Target.

 
Last, but not least, I recommend coconut water. It tastes good and you can now get it in tons of different flavors. It does contain a little sugar but it is all natural. Stay away from coconut waters that add sugar or any kind of sweetener, coconut is sweet in itself. Coconut water is the best choice when you want to rehydrate fast. It is low in sugar if drunk by its lonesome, is low in sodium and high in chloride, regulates the body’s temperature, boosts the immune system, boosts metabolism, and helps with digestion. As you can see, coconut is an amazing fruit!
I do not recommend the average sports drink or vitamin water. They are usually high in sugar and sodium or they contain deadly artificial sweeteners. Because they are so high is sugar, they can lead to weight gain if drunk regularly and they can actually slow you down instead of boosting your energy levels. Most Gatorades and colored drinks have artificial colors as well. They are basically a soda without the carbonation.
 
Consider this: one bottle of regular Gatorade has about 200 calories and contains 56 grams of sugar. 200 calories is about the same amount the average person would burn running two miles–and 56 grams of sugar is about the same amount of sugar as two and a half candy bars. That’s also nearly three times the amount of sugar the average adult woman is recommended to consume. So while you may burn it off with a solid 30 minutes of running (depending on how fast you are), it’s unlikely you needed almost 60 grams of sugar to do it.  In fact, according to the American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada, and American College of Sports Medicine, only individuals who work out at maximum, strenuous effort for a full hour should consider sports drinks as a method of replenishment.”
So with all that said; I hope you have a wonderful summer! Remember, if you are feeling thirsty it’s too late. Keep hydrated and stay healthy.
XO,
Amanda
 
Resources:
 
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Thanks, Amanda, for the great work and such informative articles!

And thank you for reading! Don't forget to LIKE A Dancer's Days on Facebook and follow by clicking the blue "Join This Site" tab below my profile.
Have any questions you'd like answered? I'm here to help! Ask me anything and everything regarding dance. Send me an e-mail here anytime or leave a comment below!

Jul 10, 2014

Dakiki.com



Check out my debut article with Dakiki.com, the up and coming leading dance website!

The first week of summer program at Maine State Ballet has almost come to a close. I'll have some articles up for you this weekend. A busy summer, as it always is!

Thanks for continuing to check in even in my absence, dear readers.

Love,

Rhiannon -

Jun 17, 2014

Dancer S.O.S - Rehabilitation



Hi my name is Joy and I'm twelve years old and I have been dancing for
nine years and I have a few questions... I just had knee surgery in
December to remove a cyst on my meniscus and I am doing physical
therapy right now and I'm going back to ballet class in two weeks. How
do I get my strength back in my leg without strengthening the other
leg at the same time? Do you think I could do my pointe work at the
barrĂ©? I hope you can reply to this  email.

                                                      Thanks, Joy


Dear Joy,

I don't want to pretend that I am some kind of medical expert, so first and foremost I think you should definitely talk with your doctor about any concerns you have...

But, I have dealt with my fair share of injuries and I'm sure there will be more. It's difficult getting back into the game after being hurt, trust me I know! I think first and foremost you should just focus on taking regular class. Dance like you usually would. In my experience, as long as you continue to stretch both legs evenly and work both legs evenly, your recovering leg will slowly catch up.

As for pointe work, as long as your doctor has OK'd it, I would slowly work into it. Start by just wearing shoes for barre of your pointe or technique class. As you start to feel stronger, wear them for a combination or two longer, slowly working up to center work. I would also recommend continuing physical therapy as long as you can, but of course talk to your doctor first.

I hope this helps, Joy!

All my best and wishing you a speedy recovery,

Rhiannon -


Have any questions of your own? I'm here to help! Ask me anything and everything regarding dance. Send me an e-mail here anytime or leave a comment below! Thanks lovelies. Don't forget to LIKE A Dancer's Days on Facebook and follow by clicking the blue "Join This Site" tab below my profile.

Thanks for reading, lovelies!

Rhiannon -

Jun 13, 2014

Guest Post From Amanda Howard On: Summer Training



Returning to A Dancer's Days is the wonderful, Amanda Howard. Some of you may know her already from her previous delightfully informative articles, but if not here are a few things to know about Amanda. She is 18, like me, and she is a ballet blogger, dance teacher, is in the process of writing a dance book, and even owns her own dance studio: Praise Him With a Dance. Listed below is her blog, website, and Facebook page.

 
I am so excited for the summer! It’s the time of beach trips, friends, iced lemonade, and bathing suits. For a lot of people it can be hard to keep in shape. It is especially important for dancers to keep up their flexibility and strength for the next year. This month I wanted to share some routines that I will be doing this summer to get me ballet ready for the fall. Enjoy and tell me what you think!

Boot camp:
 



Legs and butt:

 


Total body sculpt:

 


Foam roller cool down:

 




·         Rest your fingertips on a chair or table, and don't pinch your back or lean too heavily on your "barre": You'll miss the benefits.
 
 
Penche
What It Does: Works the entire lower body; builds balance and stability.

How to Do It: With feet and thighs turned out ballerina-style, hinge forward to a flat back and lightly grasp the seat of a chair. Look at the floor to keep the neck long. Lift the right leg straight out behind you, hips open, until it reaches hip height. Then lift as high as you can and lower back to hip height. Repeat 10 to 20 times.
 
 
 
Wide Plie
What It Does: Tones quads, inner thighs, and calves.

How to Do It: Stand with legs straight and feet wide apart, toes turned out. Do 10 to 20 deep plies, bending the knees deeply until they're directly over your toes. On the last plie, lift and lower heels together 10 to 20 times.
 
 
 
Back Attitude
What It Does: Tones core, hips, and glutes.

How to Do It: With legs turned out, bend both knees slightly and shoot right leg out behind you several inches off the floor, keeping knees bent and torso forward. Lift the leg just high enough that the glutes engage, then return to start. Do 20 lifts; at the top of the last rep, hold and pulse up and down 20 times. Switch legs.
 
 
Pretzel Extension
What It Does: Tones core, hips, and glutes.

How to Do It: Sit on floor with left knee bent (outer leg on the floor) and right knee bent behind it (inner thigh on the floor). Resting fingertips on either side of the left knee, lift the right leg -- either keeping it bent or extending it straight behind you (as shown). At the top of the last rep, hold and do 10 to 15 mini pulses up and down. Switch legs.
 
 
 
 
Kneeling Glutes
What It Does: Works upper back, core, hips, and outer thighs.

How to Do It: From a kneeling position, bring left palm to the floor directly under shoulder. Place right hand behind your ear and extend right leg so it's parallel with the floor. Keep toes pointed, knee facing forward (not up). Make 10 small circles in one direction, then 10 in the other. Repeat with the other leg.
 
 
 
 
Plie in First Postition
What It Does: Tones legs.

How to Do It: To start, rise onto balls of the feet, heels touching, hips turned out, knees slightly bent. Lower into a deeper plie, then return to start. Do 10 to 20 plies, holding the last one for 20 seconds.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Heel Lift

What It Does: Tones hips, glutes of the lifted leg, and quads of the standing leg; strengthens core.

How to Do It: Facing the back of a chair, hinge at hips with a flat back. Extend arms straight out, resting palms on back of chair. Bend right leg and lift to hip height, pushing heel toward the ceiling. Keeping hips square, pump leg up and down 10 to 20 times. Repeat on other leg.

 
 
 
Thanks for reading, lovelies! Stay tuned for the new teacher's guide to their first recital!
 
All my best,
 
Rhiannon -

Jun 9, 2014

The End of A Hiatus + The Journey That Was Cinderella



Hello, all!

SO... We have some catching up to do.

Between finals, recital season, and gearing up for/going on a two week vacation to Hawaii, A Dancer's Days sadly rested on the back burner for a while there. But it's good to be back and I have some exciting material and news for everyone. For starters, I've recently been hired as a regular writer for the website Dance Advantage as well as a brand new site that just recently launched and has asked me to be one of their premier writers. Allow me to introduce to you, Dakiki. How cool is that?!

If memory serves me correctly, we left off at about the time of Cinderella when I fell victim to the Maine State Ballet plague (yes, it is a thing) and thankfully made it out alive. So let's start from there and work our way forward on the timeline.

~ Cinderella ~

As some of you may know, in Cinderella I was cast as the Fairy Godmother and the Persian Princess. Two VERY different roles requiring completely different styles. That's one of the great things about being part of a small company, you never know what kind of role you'll be cast as. The dancers don't necessarily have to be organized into individual niches, everyone gets a chance to do something different as there are roles to be filled and only so many dancers to fill them.

This was the company's first time performing FIFTEEN SHOWS in one run of a performance. Brutal? You got it.

I know, I know, many companies do plenty more shows than that. Miami City typically does 40 and some odd shows of The Nutcracker so fifteen seems like chump change. But when every single one of your dancers is performing in every show on top of the "regular people things" like school and work, it takes a serious toll.

There was a lot of rehearsing and a lot of late nights... Not to mention I was in a boot through much of it. It's always difficult to get back in the game. Rehearsing on flat for so long and getting use to a variation on demi-pointe is a favorite brainteaser, of course.

Thankfully, the boot eventually came off and we had the amazing opportunity to blow off steam from all those rehearsals with a Cinderella ball and silent auction. A night of glittering jewels and bidding, we members of the Maine State Ballet danced and sang the night away.

 

 ... And finally... We commenced a three week journey, five shows a weekend, working six days a week.



On some of those days pre-performance looked more like this:
Bronchitis and pneumonia don't make for a happy dancer.

If there was one thing I learned from that experience, it is that the show must and will go on. But also that you need to know your limits and balance your time. On opening day I skipped school. I just knew that by expending the energy to go to school while being that sick, my performance would suffer and it would be brutal to be dancing until 10:00 PM. But of course, I felt okay about skipping as I was doing well in the class and had not missed any previous classes. It's important to choose your priorities wisely.

But it was a great run of shows and we all had a blast!

Next up... Recital season. Be sure to stay tuned for the new teacher's guide to their first recital and also a special guest post from Amanda Howard!

Thanks lovelies. Don't forget to LIKE A Dancer's Days on Facebook and follow by clicking the blue "Join This Site" tab below my profile.

Rhiannon -

Apr 14, 2014

Amanda Howard On: The Glamorous Dancers of the Silver Screen



Returning to A Dancer's Days is the wonderful, Amanda Howard. Some of you may know her already from her previous delightfully informative articles, but if not here are a few things to know about Amanda. She is 18, like me, and she is a ballet blogger, dance teacher, is in the process of writing a dance book, and even owns her own dance studio: Praise Him With a Dance. Listed below is her blog, website, and Facebook page.

 
 
 
Movie musicals reached their height of fame during the first half of the 20th century and we found captivating new dance icons that blew us away. Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Ginger Rogers, Cyd Charisse, Mitzi Gaynor, Judy Garland, and Leslie Caron to name a few. They made the dancing look effortless and looked as though they were floating. They were the pioneers who set the stage for Hollywood’s dance-film genre with famous routines such as Singin’ in the Rain (Kelly), Cheek to Cheek (Astaire), and We’re off to see the Wizard (Garland). All of these fabulous dancers danced to have fun and used it to inspire creativity in others. They made even the un-coordinated and “2 left feet” folks want to get up and dance too.



We will always remember Fred Astaire dancing on the walls and ceiling in Royal Wedding, Audrey Hepburn doing her crazy mixed up dance in Funny Face, the frontier guys dancing to impress the girls in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Donald O’Connor flipping off the walls in Make ‘Em Laugh, Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews in Mary Poppins, and of course Gene Kelly soaked through while “singin’ and dancing in the rain.”

Fred Astaire is sometimes characterized as Mr. Elegance. He was delicate and graceful but powerful. Every time he danced, there was a story attached to it, full of emotion. Gene Kelly was strong and athletic. He could lift a lady and dance with her in his arms as if she were nothing but a feather. Let’s also not forget his signature move, the airplane. In American in Paris we see him do 12 or more in succession!
 

The women of the screen were beautiful and poised. Ginger Rogers was at her best alongside Fred Astaire, making them one of the most famous dancing couples. Her ballroom dancing was graceful and her tap, fun and exciting. Then we go to Judy Garland. Her voice and dance moves that could never be equaled. There are no words to describe how incredible she was! Her dancing was energetic and so much fun to watch.


Inspiring and oh so unforgettable! We are thankful that they have left behind their wonderful movies for us to enjoy.

I encourage you dancers out there to be inspiring. To encourage others to find joy and creativity in dance with your movements and expressions. I encourage you to tell a story with your dance and to have fun with it. I think that as ballerinas we tend to get too serious. Sometimes we need to let loose and just have fun. Our role is to inspire and give back to others using our talents. I hope that you have enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it! I’ll see you next month.
Amanda E. H.
 
Quotes:
“Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.”
-Judy Garland
“The finest all-around performer we ever had in America was Judy Garland. There was no limit to her talent. She was the quickest, brightest person I ever worked with.”
-Gene Kelly
“You know, that Kelly, he's just terrific. That's all there is to it. He dances like crazy, he directs like crazy. I adore this guy. I really am crazy about his work.”
-Fred Astaire
“I suppose I made it look easy, but gee whiz, did I work and worry.”
-Fred Astaire
“The most important thing in anyone's life is to be giving something. The quality I can give is fun, joy and happiness. This is my gift.”
-Ginger Rogers
“I adore the man. I always have adored him. It was the most fortunate thing that ever happened to me, being teamed with Fred: he was everything a little starry-eyed girl from a small town ever dreamed of.”
-Ginger Rogers
“I never wanted to be a dancer. It's true! I wanted to be a shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates.”
-Gene Kelly
“Fred could never do the lifts Gene did and never wanted to. I'd say they were the two greatest dancing personalities who were ever on the screen. Each has a distinctive style. Each is a joy to work with. But it's like comparing apples and oranges. They're both delicious.”
-Cyd Charisse
“If I had to give up either acting or dancing, I'd choose to keep dancing.”
-Cyd Charisse
“Dancing is still the hardest profession. Gene Kelly said dancing is a man's game Women have to do the same thing in heels, and have to sing and smile at the same time. Professional athletes don't even have to do that - and they get to wear sneakers.”
-Mitzi Gaynor
--

Thank you so much to Amanda Howard for the wonderful article. Stay tuned readers for a recap of my 15 shows of Cinderella experience, articles about performance etiquette, backstage rituals, and so much more. Thank you for staying with me even when I was unable to post.

All my best,

Rhiannon -

Back From The Dead!



Gotta love antibiotics.

For about a week I was suffering from a bad case of pneumonia as well as bronchitis. If that's not bad enough, put it right at the beginning of a run of 15 shows of the three act ballet, Cinderella. Yeah, you can say I wasn't a happy camper.

But here we are, ten shows deep, and I'm back! I'll be posting pictures and articles again ASAP.

Stay tuned for a wonderful guest post by Amanda Howard.

Thanks, readers!

 Rhiannon -

Apr 2, 2014

Update



Hello, all. Just wanted to let you know that I've been out of commission for a while now because I have been very sick. Yesterday I was diagnosed with bronchitis as well as walking pneumonia. Hopefully, with the help of some heavy antibiotics, I'll be up and running again by the start of next week.

Thanks for continuing to read and check in, lovelies!

Rhiannon -

Mar 20, 2014

Happy Spring!



In honor of the season, I had to post a fresh background. Even if the weather outside doesn't look like spring, my blog can!

What I'm going to ask you lovelies to do, is to submit your questions and your requests for posts to: rhiannon@maine.rr.com. This blog is run by the things YOU want to know! So go ahead, ask away. I'm all ears!

Don't forget to "join this blog" with the blue link on the right hand side and to LIKE on Facebook!

Mar 18, 2014

Up To Speed



So, an update... Why don't we dive right into it.

Spring break has come to an abrupt end and I am all too heartbroken.

Yesterday I finished the third book in the Divergent series and there are few times that I have cried that hard over a novel. Go get it. Now. And read it. You'll thank me for it. It's one of those books that stays with you wherever you go. There are characters you'll never forget.

In honor of Maine State Ballet's upcoming production of Cinderella, this weekend we are hosting a ball and silent auction at a luxury hotel in Portland. It's all I've been able to talk about for the past couple months. There will be food, music, dancing, and of course, auctioning. I can't wait to post pictures up here for you guys to see all the ballerinas dressed to the nines.

What else...

My tendonitis is on a clear cut road to recovery. It feels infinitely better than it did a month ago and I'm now at the point where I can take full classes, rehearse on pointe as well as take class on pointe. It's painful at times, especially when on my toes, but by no means unbearable.

Tech-dress rehearsals begin this Friday! It's all happening so fast!

It is COLD up here in Maine. It's cold all day, every day. And not just the annoying cold, the skin biting, absolutely unbearable cold.

Alrighty, gang, time for me to get to class. Digital Media, here I come.

Don't forget to keep the Dancer S.O.S. advice column up and running and SUBMIT YOUR QUESTIONS/POST REQUESTS to: rhiannon@maine.rr.com, this blog is run by you! Also "like" the FACEBOOK PAGE and FOLLOW this blog by clicking the button next to my profile photo.

All my best,

Rhiannon -

Mar 10, 2014

Guest Post: Amanda Howard on "Keeping Your Stress Levels Down"



Returning to A Dancer's Days is the wonderful, Amanda Howard. Some of you may know her already from her previous delightfully informative articles, but if not here are a few things to know about Amanda. She is 18, like me, and she is a ballet blogger, dance teacher, is in the process of writing a dance book, and even owns her own dance studio: Praise Him With a Dance. Listed below is her blog, website, and Facebook page.

 

 
Between auditions for summer intensives coming upon us, recital season, and school, life can get crazy to say the least. Sometimes it seems like it's all too much. If there's one thing the young ballerinas that are still in school at my company agree on, it's that there are few "extra-curricular activities" that take as much dedication and time as ballet does. It's hard to do it all. Amanda has given us a few tips on how to cope with the stress of our day to day activities. And whether or not you're a dancer, this is also come great general life advice.
 
 
Keeping your stress levels down
 

This time of year is especially stressful for dancers. We are learning our recital pieces and trying hard to perfect them in class as well as trying to eat healthy and stay fit while at home. To make sure we don’t burn out and lower our immune systems, you have to, first and foremost, keep your stress levels down to a minimum. I for one find this hard to do when there is just so much to do on a daily basis. There are some simple activities that you can do to help you relax and enjoy yourself.

Plan a night to get together with your friends to laugh and have fun. Laughing is truly the best medicine! Watch a comedy or play a fun game.

 
Gardening is a great way to reduce stress. Go out and start a garden in your backyard. Put your hands in the dirt and just feel yourself relax. If gardening is not for you, draw. Drawing can reduce your stress levels and allow you to be creative. Listen to calming music. I love classical music and when I need a little pick-me-up I listen to old Broadway songs and music from some of my favorite old movies. Pick music you especially love.

Take a walk in the sunshine. You will be getting light exercise and your daily dose of vitamin D at the same time. Take a trip to the beach and stick your feet in the sand. Read that book you’ve been putting off or haven’t finished.

Relax in a hot bath. Light candles, put essential oils in the water and Epsom salts, watch a movie, or listen to music. Give yourself a mini massage to release tension focusing on your neck and shoulders. Sing you favorite song or dance to a random song on the radio. Stay positive and give someone a big hug!

The best way to relieve stress is just plain breathing deep. Take deep breaths when you start to feel anxiety coming on. To make sure you fill your lungs completely, imagine filling your stomach then your chest and last your head. Let the air out through your mouth. Breathing deep helps you to relax and also provides your brain with lots of fresh oxygen.
Just remember to stay calm and positive throughout your day. It will make all the difference by starting your day with the right attitude. I hope this helps during these next few months.
 
XO,
Amanda
Thank you for reading! Don't forget to SUBMIT YOUR QUESTIONS/POST REQUESTS to: rhiannon@maine.rr.com, this blog is run by you! Also "like" the FACEBOOK PAGE and FOLLOW this blog by clicking the button next to my profile photo.
 
Thanks for reading lovelies! Wishing you all a great week.
 
Rhiannon -
 

Mar 8, 2014

Find of the Week



I haven't laughed this hard in a while! Dancers, this video is 100% worth watching and I hope you guys get as much of a kick out of this as I did!
video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Mar 6, 2014

March Update



Happy Thursday, everyone!
Just finished up with a digital media class mid-term... Hoping it went well (fingers crossed!). It's been a while since I update you lovely readers on what's going on in this topsy-turvy world of mine. So let's sit down, have a cup of coffee, and do some catching up. Shall we?

Firstly and most importantly, next week is spring break! Woo! Of course there are still dance classes, rehearsals, and work to be done so no, sadly, I will not be galavanting off to Florida. HOWEVER, in May my family and I are off to Hawaii for two weeks! I can't tell you how excited I am. And it works out perfectly because we're on break from dance at that time. I've never even been on a plane, guys, this is a big deal for me! The farthest I've ever traveled is Toronto to the North or Orlando to the South.

Secondly, Maine State Ballet's production of Cinderella is approaching fast. 15 bleeping shows! It's a suicide mission really, but we'll crank 'em out like we always do. You may already know that I'm round-robbin-ing my roles as the Fairy Godmother, the Persian Princess, and a Princess at the Ball. You may also know that for a little over a month now, I've been nursing an injury.

Ankle tendonitis. Inflammation of a tendon doesn't sound like it would be all that painful, but there were times when it was verging on unbearable. Thankfully, it's healing slowly but surely. I don't have to wear the air cast at home anymore and I can take full classes on demo-point, which is exciting. I'm still lugging the boot around at school which makes for quite the fashion statement but worse things have surely happened so I can't complain. On Friday I finally get to start incorporating some pointe work.

Several posts back I spoke of this common illness among injured dancers known as "injury depression." Yeah, I certainly can vouch for its validity. I have dreams about dancing on pointe and turning and partnering. I crave it. But pushing myself too hard now after a month of resting seems like the most unwise thing I could possibly do. Ugh!


Tomorrow Travis and I will reach eleven months and my how it's flown. It's cheesy but I know I'm extraordinarily lucky. This Saturday is his twenty-fourth birthday. After a 11:30 to 3:30 Cinderella run-through I'll dash over to one of his favorite Japanese restaurants. How could you go wrong with delicious Japanese food cooked on a table 6 inches from your seat? 
Saturdays are my favorite. Warming up and rehearsing a ballet through the morning and afternoon and then you're free to spend the rest of the day as you please. Do you ever feel like you're living weekend to weekend and the stuff in the middle is all repetitive aimlessness? 

No? 

Then you must be doing something right.

Just a reminder, the Dancer S.O.S. advice column is always up and running so please e-mail me with your pressing questions and problems at: rhiannon@maine.rr.com or leave a comment below. 

Don't forget to tell me the stuff that YOU want to read about. What do you want to know about dance? This blog is powered by you so leave a comment and I'll have a blog post ready to discuss whatever you want.

And lastly, don't forget to "like" this blog on Facebook and to follow by clinking the link right below my picture.

Thanks for reading, lovelies!

Rhiannon -

Mar 4, 2014

Find of the Week: With♥ by Maddie Skirts



With birthdays and holidays constantly creeping up on us, it's never to early to shop for the ballerina in your life or (if you are the ballerina) treat yourself! This week, I simply have to share the story of this young lady manufacturing hand-made skirts that are chic and simply adorable. And the best part? They're 15 bucks. You can get the same skirt online for about twice the cost. Usually I'd wait to feature a product that I like in a "ballerina Christmas shopping list" or "the must-have items for summer workshops", but these are too gorgeous to wait until then. I'm a big fan of supporting makers that truly understand dance and how the dancer wants to feel. And who can know that better than an actual dancer? Here's a little back story of the organization:




"I started making these skirts to keep busy while taking a little break from dancing. I wanted to do something that would still connect me to dance but also allow me to take a much needed rest. A lot of times I like to just wear tights and a leotard because I think it allows me to work my technique more, but as any dancer knows there are those days when you just feel like covering up. At first, I started making these skirts for myself, so that I could have a cute and comfortable way to express my style while still looking professional for ballet class. I got completely hooked on making them and other people seemed to enjoy them also... so with♥bymaddie skirts were born! Each skirt is handmade and designed to fit each dancer slightly differently. Growing up at a small ballet company I have always taken pride in the fact that our dancers don't all look exactly the same, like they do at some bigger companies. I have taken this to heart when making my skirts because they are all unique! The style, color, and patterns all vary slightly but that's what makes them so special. I truly love creating these skirts and I hope people enjoy wearing them!"

Feel free to browse these works of art and send in pictures of your with♥bymaddie skirts!

Thanks for reading, lovelies!

Mar 2, 2014

Recital, Recital, Recital!



So, let's be honest here. Choreographing a recital, whether it's for the littles or for your most advanced students, is by no means easy. You want to challenge your students, but you don't want to give them difficult steps that no matter how times you rehearse them still look plain messy. And then you have to factor in the spectrum of capabilities in one class. You don't want to leave the kids that work hard and pay attention bored, but you can't leave the "space cadets" struggling. It's an ongoing battle between artistic vision and realism.

Here are 7 tips on how to get your recital piece where it needs to be come show-time.

  1. Pick the right song. This takes a lot of thought. You have to find a track that fits the class. For example: I have a jazz class of 6 10-11 year olds and they're cute little  dancers, but quite shy. So I wanted to pick  a song that would pull them out of their shelves a little bit. I picked "Sparklejollytwinklejingly" from Elf the musical and they're LOVING it (and so am I)!
  2. Have an abstract idea of what you want the dance to look like before going into class. It's always good to have some vague idea of how you want to choreograph the dance rather than choreographing on the spot, in class, under a time crunch. Whenever I hear a song there are at least several parts in the music where I have a clear idea of what I want to do in the dance on that music.
  3. Start teaching it early. Our recital is in May and I started giving my kids some steps that would be in the dance/putting the beginning of it together before Christmas break. The younger they are, the more time they need to learn.
  4. Be patient with them. I think the mistake a lot of teachers make is rushing through the dance. This is a recipe for a messy arrangement and dancers who don't quite understand what your vision is. If you have to go over a step a dozen times and they're still not getting it, maybe it's time to re-choreograph. But if the step is particularly intricate then going over it with them a handful of times is normal and necessary.
  5. Keep the little kids' dances short. The last thing the audience wants to see is someone else's five-year-old on stage for 4 minutes. Not only that, the kids will probably have a tough time learning that choreography. For my kids 8 and under, I try to keep all their dances at least under 2 minutes. The very little ones I keep between a minute and a half and two minutes. Keep this in mind especially if you're at a larger school with many other little ones that will perform.
  6. Have the dance finished a month to two months before. This gives you plenty of time to clean up the choreography and will really set it your student's muscle memory.
  7. Keep it fun, but remember what the recital is all about. Obviously, (especially at a young age) the kids are there to enjoy themselves but the whole point of a recital is to show the parents what their kids have learned. So make sure the kids are having fun up there, but make sure you're really showcasing their abilities and demonstrating the things you taught them over the year.
What advice do you have for teaching recitals? Tell us in a comment below!

Thanks for reading, lovelies!

Rhiannon -

Feb 24, 2014

Vacation Exercises Part 2



Hey everyone! I had this scheduled to post on Thursday but it never went through! So, here it is!

I'm getting the itch real bad... I can't even tell you how much I'm craving to put on a pair of pointe shoes and MOVE. This is hard, people.

To make it through the last couple days of vacation without going crazy, here are some exercises to get your blood pumping' and make you feel those endorphins.


Every girl needs a good Angel's workout. This one is killer and I actually really enjoy doing it. Pump up the tunes and get moving!

 

 
Feel the burn. This one's easy to follow and fun to do.
 
Lastly, this one you'll need to listen to Macklemore's "Can't Hold Us" (Although you really can do this to any song). In my jazz classes, I have my kids do this workout from time to time. Mixes up the training a little bit and offers some variety. It's important to exercise the parts of our bodies that dance doesn't exactly target but thinks like squats and ab exercises do. (I know the picture is small, unfortunately I'm experiencing some glitches with blogger. Just click on the picture to see a bigger version.)
 

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for a post geared towards you dance teachers out there. It's crunch time to start working on those recitals. Coming up on Wednesday is 7 tips on how to choreograph a dance that is challenging, but manageable for your students, and how to do it in 3-4 months!
 
All the best,
 
Rhiannon -