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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!
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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 -