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.
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 -