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.

Apr 16, 2015

In This Moment: April 16, 2015

Everybody cares for their body differently and I've just personally found cross training to be very beneficial as a dancer. So I got my workout in today! I love having the gym all to myself. So nice to just focus on my body and tune out from the world for a bit. I found this seriously killer ab workout on Pinterest, you've got to give it a try.

Thank you for reading! For questions/comments you can contact me and don't forget to LIKE A Dancer's Days on Facebook and follow the Pinterest Board!

Rhiannon -

Apr 14, 2015

Enslaved by the Classical Ballet: "Le Corsaire"

For the last three weekends, Maine State Ballet undertook the mammoth of a ballet, Le Corsaire (and finished on top, I might add). For a small, homegrown company, this was a major feat. Ten shows, three backdrops, and dozens of brand new costumes went into this production.

Le Corsaire is, as I like to call it, "stupid hard." I alone did over 150 fouettes on stage throughout the course of the three-weekend run. Not to mention all of the triple pirouettes, double tours, piques, and brisees from the cast as a whole. From the corps de ballet to Medora, every dance pushed the company's capabilities above and beyond what many other shows have required. I was cast as the disparing Gulnare for seven shows and the infamous third odilesque for three. Both taught me a great deal about myself as a performer and this strange art form our passions ignite for. 

Firstly, and unfortunately, I re-learned that having split casts is difficult. You focus primarily on the role you perform more and the lesser role becomes somewhat neglected. It's inevitable and unfortunate, but it happens. I would perform Gulnare in the Friday evening show and Saturday matinee, Saturday night I would switch over to Third Odilesque, and finally, Sunday I would jump back into Gulnare. I would go a full week without thinking much about Odilesque at all and focus my energy on Gulnare. It's true what they say, you reap what you sow. I was happy overall with my performances as Gulnare and will certainly miss performing that role. Odilesque was a struggle and, because of the little time I spent dancing it, it didn't feel like mine in performance. I almost felt like an understudy, throwing myself into something I wasn't fully prepared for but had to do despite that. Lesson learned, time management is crucial. Dedicate most of your time to your primary role, but don't forget about the others. 

Second, I love story ballets. Some prefer the athletic demand or the undisturbed focus on the human body that neoclassical pieces provide, but sometimes being someone you're not, a beautiful slave from ancient Turkey or Greece is forced to dance for a pasha's his entertainment, only to be sold, trapped, and finally rescued by a band of rogue pirates. How fun is that?!

My beautiful sister, Adrienne.

And finally, Maine State Ballet is incredibly fortunate to have our costume and set designer, Gail Cosboth. I wish you all could see the set in person because no photo will do it justice. We're a tiny little company in southern Maine that few out-of-staters even know about, but we produce some of the most beautiful ballets you'll ever see thanks to the vision and drive of a gifted seventy-year-old woman. Our mission is to transport the audience away from reality for a few hours and to uplift the community. Because of her, we are able to do that above and beyond.
I feel very blesssed to have been part of such a magical production.
Thank you for reading! For questions/comments you can contact me and don't forget to LIKE A Dancer's Days on Facebook and follow the Pinterest Board!

Apr 13, 2015

Competition Gone Too Far?

In the past, I have had no affiliation with nor any knowledge about dance competitions. I've grown up doing performances for the Maine community with the Maine State Ballet school and  eventually the Maine State Ballet Company. The closes thing to a competition that I have danced in myself would be our annual recital. Dance competitions are foreign waters to me, but waters I have recently took to exploring.
Teaching both for Maine State Ballet and Center Stage Performing Arts, I've learned and continue to learn how to work in two very different environments. This year I choreographed my second competition piece, a ballet mini routine of five young ladies. For three competitions my nine and ten year old pupils were adorned with ivory and scarlet tutus, pink tambourines, and swirling Spanish curls. I was fortunate enough to be there for two of the three competitions as they did not conflict with my own run of performances (we're in the middle of a run of "Le Corsaire" currently). It was very exciting to be there for the girls and the whole ordeal did remind me much of a recital, so it wasn't all that foreign at all, really.

I may not be an expert of dance competitions, but I do know a thing or two about performing and its quality. What I'd like to discuss with you today, dear readers, is your opinion on a specific video:

Firstly, let me just say that these are some incredibly talented kids. Like... Crazy talented. That being said, these guys are eight... Let me just repeat that to be sure you heard me... They're eight years old.

Their formations are clean, their ala-seconde turns incredibly synchronized, and their movements in general were hard hitting and exciting. But, in all honesty, I think the line was drawn just before the gyrations, booty-shaking, sexual movements, and even the scanty costume. Why do eight year olds need to be moving like that? Why do we need to sexualize children? I'm just trying to imagine seeing my younger sister moving that way when she was their age and I can't help but think that I would feel incredibly uncomfortable.

Now, this is a conversation piece. So please, am I a prude and just haven't kept up with the evolving world of dance competitions? Or is this a bit over the top? Post a comment below to get the conversation started!

All my best,

Rhiannon P. -

Apr 9, 2015

Workout of the Week (April 8th)

Personally, I love cross-training. My body feels so much stronger when I'm working out and I've noticed that I'm much less prone to injury now that I've been working out. This time a year ago I was in the middle of a run of Cinderella, cast as the Fairy Godmother and Princess of Persia, and had tendonitis in both the top of my foot and Achilles tendon.
I'm fortunate enough to have a resource to consult about what exercises translate well into the ballet world and would benefit my body the most overall. My boyfriend, Travis, is a personal trainer and in the process of going to graduate school for physical therapy.
Along with the resource of my personal trainer, I also avidly search the internet to learn what workouts are best for dancers, what areas of my body I should focus on, and what I want to do on a particular day. Dancer's bodies are quickly evolving from the traditional lengthy super-think bodies to chiseled legs, muscular yet slender arms, and solid abs. As ballets are becoming more athletically inclined, so are the athletes. So work out like one! Here's the workout I did this week on Wednesday, April 8th.  I swear by it. Every Thursday when I go to ballet class (having worked out on Wednesday) I feel AMAZING. My turnout is more free, my stomach is tight, and my legs feel strong. Give it a try.

First, I did 20-30 minutes of low-impact cardio. Something like spinning (which I prefer) or even swimming.
Next, hit the weights!
Do each exercise full out as many times as you can for 45-60 seconds with 15-20 seconds of rest in between each set. This is called HIIT, or "High Intensity Interval Training."
1.       Dumbbell Squat: Holding the dumbbell by the end with two hands (I used a 20lb weight), squat with a flat back, only bending at the waist, and return to a standing position.

2.       Flat Bench Dumbbell Fly: Lay flat on a workout bench with a 3, 5, or 8lb dumbbell in each hand (I used a five pounder) pointed directly towards the ceiling. Now, bring your arms out to the side so they are parallel to the floor and return to the starting position.

3.       Isometric Hold: Holding one dumbbell in each hand, bring them directly out to the side so your arms are making a “T” with your body. Now you’re simply going to hold the dumbbells there for a full minute. This is a tough one, so if you start to get tired, bend your elbows in towards your chest little by little but keeping the shoulders parallel to the ground.

4.       Burpees: Nothing beats a good old fashioned burpee! Crouch down to the ground and spring out in to a planking position, now bring your knees back in and jump into the air, springing from the ground. Repeat as many times as you can as quickly as you can.

5.       45° Bicep Curl: Grab a pair of 3, 5, or 8lb dumbbells and rotate your palms to face away from you and out towards the side. So your arms aren’t just facing directly in front of you but are rotated past center. For sixty seconds curl the dumbbells up, keeping your elbows by your side, and bring them back down over and over again. By using lighter dumbbells and doing the exercise for only a minute, you will tighten and tone and not bulk up.

6.       Two Arm Overhead Dumbbell Extension: Holding a3, 5, or 8lb dumbbell above your head, bend your elbows so the dumbbell falls behind your head and straighten them again. This one is great for your triceps.

7.       Medicine Ball Russian Twists: Sitting on the floor, bring your feet slightly off the ground and lean back enough to engage your abs but still maintain your balance. Taking a medicine ball (I usually use 12lbs for this) alternate touching the ball down to the ground on either side of you.

I finished off my workout with an ab routine found on Pinterest (which, by the way, is a great place for workout ideas and inspiration).

What do you doing when you workout? Leave a comment below to tell us. 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.
All my love,
Rhiannon P. -

Apr 7, 2015

Life and Other Things

The title of this blog may be A Dancer's Days, but lest I forget to explain that I am not just a dancer.

The General Lowdown:

As of April, 2015, I am a principal ballerina with the Maine State Ballet, a rising senior at a small, private college near my hometown in Maine with a major in writing and publishing and a minor in business administration, I am a dance teacher of ballet, tap, and jazz with both Maine State Ballet and Center Stage Performing Arts and I love my job, I'm an intern with Taproot Magazine, I'm a daughter of two loving and hardworking parents, a big sister to two, a girlfriend to the most wonderful man, and (when I have time to remember that I am) I'm a writer.

I like to talk about things. Whether it be ballet tips, life ponderings, personal experiences, relationships, or weird dreams, I'm happy to write and talk about it. In the past, this blog was very ballet-based, but as my own life has become more rounded and rich, so should this blog. To those that bother to read, check-in, and await new articles, thank you. This is for you just as much as me.

I'd like to continue the Dancer S.O.S. advice column so please continue sending your questions and dilemmas to me. I'd be happy to address them.

 Personal News:

Today is my two year anniversary with said wonderful man, Travis. We managed to fit some quality in our day between studying for his chemistry class and my Introduction to Management course... Oh the woes of college students.

Student Activities:

For whatever reason, in the same management course I received one of the lowest exam grades I've had. An exam I in fact studied quite hard for. Nothing's more reassuring than the thought: no matter how much you study, imminent doom awaits! Good luck!

A Dancer's Days:

I currently wear Bloch Heritage pointe shoes. They're great and relatively consistent. I recently switched out of Suffolk Solo shoes which had been fatally inconsistent and disparagingly different from the first pair I tried on and loved a few years ago. But even still, the Blochs differ slightly pair to pair.
Why does this happen?
Pointe shoe manufacturers often give their best products to professional ballet companies that order in bulk. The shoes that the ballerinas don't want get donated to affiliated schools or are sent to different dancewear distributors. So some of the shoes we dancers are buying are the reject pairs from big companies whose dancers didn't want those specific shoes. It's no wonder I and many other dancers have had issues with inconsistencies in pointe shoes. A battle, my friends, that I can say from experience is long, hard, and possibly without resolve.

Glad to be back, 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.

All my best,

Rhiannon -