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.

Feb 26, 2017

7 tips on becoming your character

Becoming your role is a difficult task to accomplish. Everyone interprets a character differently and no two dancers will perform a role the exact same way. You want to be believable and genuine to everyone in the audience whether they’re in the first row or fiftieth and in order to be genuine, you have to transform into your own version of the character. Naturally, this is much easier said than done.

Here are seven tips on how to understand the character you’re playing...

1: Notice all of the character’s physical attributes. 

Are they beautiful and long or awkward and crippled? Would their mannerisms be soft and gentle or rough and strong? Would their eyes flirt playfully or be shyly downcast? Ask yourself how that character would move.

2: Know the story of your ballet. 

It helps tremendously to read the tale of the ballet you are performing or research it. Understand who your character is and where they come from.

3: Analyze the situation your character is in.

For example, Odette. One of the most complex characters in any ballet. She is sad, depressed and distraught as she believes she is forever cursed to be a swan. When she meets Prince Siegfried, she has a sudden spark of hope within her. Go down into the deepest parts of your character and connect puzzle pieces that may not even exist yet.

4: It helps to also thoroughly understand the characters around you.

By understanding them you can see deeper into relationships and how your characters would truly behave around others.

5: See what goes on around you and be aware of how you are using your space.

Have a friend videotape a scene or performance so you can make self-corrections. Personally, I think this is the best way to improve your performance.

6: I know it sounds silly, but perform in your head and act out emotions in front of a mirror at home.

I’ve done it and will continue to do it as it is the simplest way to experiment with your facial expressions without feeling embarrassed. Try to be conscious of all your facial expressions during any time of the performance.

7: Think the thoughts of the character. 

For example, in La Bayadere when Nikiya sees Solor, her love, with Gamzatti at the betrothal celebration, she is heartbroken. You could be thinking: “How could this happen?” “How could he do this to me?” She just lost the love of her life, she is devastated. Use your imagination to envision what you would be thinking if you were actually in that situation. That is truly one of the best ways to make your acting come across as genuine.

Knowing your character's personality and mannerisms can make performing that much easier. It helps you mix up the performance from night to night because you have a better sense of how that character would behave. Many professional dancers use these techniques to feel as though when they are on stage, they truly are their character. It is our job to transform and become someone we are not in order to tell the audience a believable story.

Feb 24, 2017

photo friday

just a moment caught in time. no caption. no explanation. a snapshot of what's happening on this day, at this moment. share your moments with me, too 💓

Feb 23, 2017

and the winner is...

What fun! I would like to firstly thank Lost Spirit Lounge for providing the grand prize of this giveaway, and secondly thank all of you for your participation. We made some wonderful new friends in the process and I hope all of you will stick around to see what else I have in store (coming very soon)! Without further ado, let us see who won a new dance outfit!...

*drum roll please*

the winner is...

Alexia Krijnsen-McLeod!

Let's all give a big congratulations to Alexia! You have 48 hours to get in touch via email and redeem your prize! 😄 And if you didn't win, don't worry!

I've got some consolation prizes coming your way. Subscribe to find out what!

Feb 22, 2017

8 Tips to Ace a Dance Audition

A dance call is very unique compared to other types of talent auditions. While they all share one common element, your talent and skills, a dance call follows certain guidelines.

Whether you are new to the industry, or have been auditioning for years, it's always great to keep some of the following tips in mind.

1) Eat healthy and early

Even if you are tired and worked up with nerves, make sure to eat a good breakfast or lunch early on in the day. Don't eat too close to the audition. 

2) Look clean

This is extremely important! In dance it's necessary to look both polished and ready. Wear tight fitting attire that accentuates your physique. Try to find colors that flatter your skin tone and attract attention to your pluses. During an audition it's normal for them to see your physique, technique, and the way you tackle the choreography. Ladies need to wear make up that's not too heavy, but definitely shows up enough to enhance facial features. Longer hair needs to be tied back and away from the face, so your face is open.

3) Keep up with the combination

Your ability to follow and learn the combination for the audition is important. Make sure to pay attention, look, listen, learn, and copy the style that's being shown. A choreographer will want to see if you can pick up this style quickly and fit in with the show.

4) Don't be afraid to ask 

If you don't understand something or need to get closer to the choreographer, don't be afraid to ask if you can rotate to the front line. Don't just rely on copying your neighbor who may have it wrong. Questions are always welcome and others may be wondering the same thing.

5) Rock the elimination round

After the choreography has been taught, auditions usually move to the elimination rounds. Most likely they will put you in smaller groups of 3-6 people. You will most likely get to dance the routine twice through, but not always (make the first one count!). If there is a second dance, the back line and front line will likely exchange positions. You will have this time to shine, so pay attention to your style, technique, and be yourself. If you happen to make a mistake, just pick it up and go on. Walking away is the worst thing you can do and shows that you tend to crack when under pressure. After you dance, remain in your place until a team member dismisses you.

7) Be professional when waiting

A good rule of thumb is to respect others' dancing time, and stand on the sides while you wait for your turn. Keep yourself warm and focused on the choreography. Another big no-no, is to talk during the audition. It can really be disruptive to the rest of the team.

8) Finals

Okay, the first part is over and everyone has danced. Now it's time to wait and see if your name is called. Keep focused and keep your dance clothes on just in case you are asked to dance again. They might need to be refreshed on your particular skills, etc. Don't get down on yourself if your name wasn't called. It doesn’t mean that your audition went badly, it just means that you were not the right the fit for this particular show. Let it go and keep trucking. The key to being a professional is the ability to deal with rejection and carry on, knowing that there is always another audition ahead.

Author Bio:

Jane Grates

Jane is an entrepreneur from Copenhagen, Denmark. She loves to travel the world visiting popular destinations together with her husband. When not travelling, she stays busy managing her websites, Nicershoes, Runnerclick, GearWeAre and Jane’s Kitchen.

Feb 20, 2017

dance outfit giveaway *extended!*

I have another surprise for you guys... The A Dancer's Days and Lost Spirit Lounge giveaway of a full dance outfit was set to close today,

but we're extending it to this Wednesday! 

You could be the lucky winner of a pair of "Get Lost in Dancelife" leggings (color of your choice!), a "Tilt Tuesday" croptop, and a ballerina's "Creative Rebel" t-shirt.

If you've already entered, don't miss this opportunity to tag a few more friends on Facebook, and qualify for extra entries! Tuesday will be the final day to enter and the contest will close on Wednesday, so don't wait! Just as a refresher, the rules to enter are below.

1. Subscribe to A Dancer's Days 
(you can check out the right-hand sidebar)

2. Hop over to Facebook and 
"like" Lost Spirit Lounge

3. Tag 2 friends in a comment
under the giveaway's Facebook post!

There is no limit to entries, so the more friends you tag on Facebook, the better your chances! In order to qualify, you will need to have completed all 3 steps. Good luck! 💗

Feb 18, 2017

sponsor love {discount dance supply}

Sending some love over to my amazing sponsor, 

Discount Dance Supply 

because they are having a crazy sale right now, and I'm about to do some stocking up in preparation for Swan Lake. My ballet company is small, and we dancers don't have the luxury of having all of our supplies paid for. I'm a recent college graduate looking to buy a house with my fiance... It's no secret that being a dancer is rarely a lucrative career, so I'm always looking for a good deal.

One of my favorite styles of leotards is on sale for as low as $20. 

I'm a ballerina with curves, so I'm all about a streamlined, supportive, flattering, and comfortable leotard. You can see me wearing a variation of this fabric/style in some Swan Lake rehearsals below. I love the athletic look of  this type of leotard. Check out the sale before it's over!

I just had four pairs of pointe shoes arrive in the mail from Enchanted Dancewear (is there a more beautiful sight?).

I wear Bloch Heritage, for anyone that was wondering. I always sew stretchy ribbon onto my shoes, as it makes a cleaner leg line and is more comfortable in my humble opinion. I use the Bodywrappers ribbon mostly just because it's cheaper, but the color also matches my shoes a little better. The material is super durable. I've even stitch-ripped ribbons off of an old pair and resewn them onto a new pair, doubling their life span.

For a total of seven shows of Swan Lake, I will probably want a three or four pairs to choose from for Act 2, the same for Act 3, and a handful of older shoes for Act 4. That will mean purchasing up to eight pairs of shoes (and don't forget about the stretchy ribbon)... Yikes! Time to place another order.

We have our first run-through of Swan Lake this morning at 10:00. I'll be there until 3:00. Very excited to see it put together for the first time! Will share with all of you soon.

Feb 16, 2017

swan lake diaries {snow day blues}

It has been nothing but snow up here in Maine... Within one week, there were four days of cancellations (and then two this week!). Winter is seemingly never-ending.

yes, they are cross-country skiing on the sidewalk...

shoveling the roof

Valentine's Day was last weekend for Travis and I. We stole away to Portland for a night, enjoying dinner at the Grill Room and an evening at the Residence Inn. It was a total surprise, so props to Travis for arranging that one without me even having a clue! 💗

With all the snow days, Swan Lake has regrettably taken a bit of a back seat. Despite it, we've been pushing on as best we can. Rehearsals, fittings, new lighting, and staging are making for a lot of work that needs doing. The last time we performed this four act ballet, we were at the largest theater in the state, Merrill Auditorium. This time, we are performing at our home theater in our studio in Falmouth, Maine. It's small, but we are lucky to have it. We had to cut the backdrop to make it fit in this theater, and in the process lost the moon shining above the lake... It got repainted a little askew from its proper home, but you didn't hear that from me!

You know you're dancing hard when your toe spacer splits in the middle of rehearsal... Thankfully, I always have a backup

Thanks for reading, guys. More updates on the Swan Lake Diaries soon!... As long as there aren't any more snow days... 😳

Feb 11, 2017

dance outfit giveaway!

All right... So it's another snow day here in my neck of the woods (that's 3 in one week for those that lost count). I would have had a Swan Lake update for you, but we've had just one day of rehearsals this week! Ugh, Maine!...

Anyway, there's really nothing like walking into dance class with a fresh new outfit. Being in a company, we see our coworkers almost every day, and have pretty much come to know everyone's wardrobe. So when you walk in with a fresh new look, everyone notices.

And that's what I want to give you on this snowy Saturday! A brand new look.

Recently I discovered the urban dancewear brand from London,

Lost Spirit Lounge.


I fell in love and, therefore, had to share with all you. LSL is a brand for the "struggles and adventures of a dance life." What I really like about LSL, is that it isn't solely for the hip hop, jazz, contemporary, tap, or ballet dancer. It directs itself to all styles of artists, and sends a really positive message about the wide world of dance. It isn't traditional as far as dance-garb goes, and plays on a sense of edginess that I think most ballet-wear misses.

LSL has a vision that they outline in six points:
  1. Building a team/family
  2. Bringing people all over the world together through dance
  3. Educating people on the history of dance
  4. Encouraging people to look inwards at the mind, body, energy, and spiritual benefits of dance
  5. Empowering people to "be higher, bolder, and to inspire others"
  6. To have fun
They do what they do because they love it and LSL wants to share that creativity with others. It's really important to me to make sure I'm supporting positive and ethical brands, whether I'm buying food, home goods, or clothes. I am really pleased and honored to be coordinating this giveaway with everyone at Lost Spirit Lounge.

And now for the fun part!

Here's what you could win...
* you get your choice of color for the leggings! *

    Here's how to enter:

    1. Subscribe to A Dancer's Days
    (you can check out the right-hand sidebar)

    2. Hop over to Facebook and
    "like" Lost Spirit Lounge

    3. Tag 2 friends in a comment
    under the giveaway's Facebook post!


    Participate in LSL's #LostSpiritDancerChallenge!

    The contest will close on Monday, February 20th. There is no limit to entries, so the more friends you tag on Facebook, the better your chances! In order to qualify, you will need to have completed all 3 steps. Tell your friends, and happy dancing 😂 Good luck!

    Feb 7, 2017

    snow day

    Tuesdays are usually quite full. I'll work my internship from 9:00am-1:00pm before heading to rehearsal, where I work with my partner and director. I'll get a small break before attending our regular technique class for an hour and a half, and then step into evening rehearsals. However, one of the ever-interesting parts of living in Maine is the tumultuous weather, and today we had exactly that.

    After a messy drive home from my internship, I'm spending my afternoon cleaning out my email inbox and binge-watching city.ballet (finally!). I'm definitely behind the curve on this one! I'm obsessed. I usually keep up with the NYCB ballerinas on my own, but taking a look into their lives in this "docuseries" is amazing.

    In episode 5, Ashley Bouder talks about all the supplements she takes, one being to manage the arthritis in her back. It makes me wonder if the incredible back pain I've been experiencing through rehearsing Swan Lake is actually arthritis. I've also noticed this nagging pain in my right ankle that has bothered me from time to time over the last few years. I'm definitely feeling the pressure right now to take care of my body as best I can, because injury is something I just can't afford... Time to start taking supplements!

    how to fix a cracked toenail

    #dancerprobs... Recently I had a student come to me with the question,

    "What can I do to take care of a cracked toenail?" 

    The poor thing had a split nail on her big toe that was shoved into her pointe shoes. I paused, dumbfounded by the first question a student asked me that I really didn't know the answer to. I had never dealt with a broken toenail before.

    Well, after a little bit of research, I found some home remedies that will ease the pain and promote a quick healing. At least now I'll know what to do if I ever run into this issue myself!

    1. Nail polish
    If your cracked nail is on the more minor side, a thick coating of nail polish should help keep it together. It is recommended that you use clear, so that you can see the nail and make sure it doesn't become infected.

    2. Coffee filter/tea bag trick
    This one I had a tougher time figuring out, but a Pin I found helped illustrate the process with a hangnail very nicely.

    3. Nail repair kit

    You can try purchasing this (or something similar at your local drugstore).

    4. Glue it
    Yes, you read that correctly. Some people will literally just glue their toenail with superglue, file the nail down, and wait for it to grow out. If you do this, however, make sure you clean it properly and file the nail as it grows.

    5. Vinegar
    If your cracked toenail is caused by fungus, you'll need to kill the bacteria. Combine white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, and warm water in equal parts. Do this a couple of times a day until the fungus dies and the cracked toenail can properly heal.

    Good luck! Let me know if you have any questions!

    Feb 3, 2017

    photo friday

    just a moment caught in time. no caption. no explanation. a snapshot of what's happening on this day, at this moment. share your moments with me, too 💓