Best Water Bottle

My whole dance life I’ve carried a water bottle to class. You could consider me somewhat of connoisseur, since I’ve tried just about every type of reusable bottles. About five months I’ve began training for the Chicago Marathon and made regular visits to my local running store. Every time I walked in I was drawn to the  “Nathanwater bottles, so I decided to buy one. This water bottle soon became my favorite. I love that they are easy to clean, they don’t get that weird smell that some water bottles get after a lot of use, they have a flip straw, and the best part is they have carabiner built into the  bottle. I now own three of them and one is always with me. If you’re in the market for a new water bottle, you must check these out!


How To Point Your Feet

Follow the steps below to train your feet how to point perfectly.

A Ballerina’s Bun Secret

No those aren’t donuts, they’re mesh chignons. These spongy creations are helping ballet students with short hair and long achieve a perfect bun. With their round shape, soft mesh, and durability, students are kissing their hair headaches goodbye. Do you want to know the best part about this ballet secret? They are only $3.29 at Sally Beauty Supply! Click on the photo above to link directly to their online store. Also, check the Ballet For Me And You Gallery for step by step directions.

Ballet Hands

Ballet hands should appear as an extension of the arms: relaxed, fluid, and elongated.

Here are steps to achieve the perfect ballet hand position:

  1. Shake out your hands and rest them at your sides.
  2. Get into ballet form by bringing the arms to bras bas. (see the Ballet For Me And You Gallery for assistance)
  3. Naturally, your thumb will fall into the place, relaxed and inline with the index finger.
  4. Now lift the index and little finger slightly higher than the middle two fingers.
Voila! A beautiful ballet hand!
Still need more assistance? Try placing a chopstick, pen, or pencil under the index and little finger. This will help you feel the placement with ease.
Dancers Beware! Over-thinking and tension can make your hands look like a Ballet Frankenstein.  Avoid: stressing the fingers, breaking at the wrist, pressing your fingers together, and “hitchhiking” your thumb.

Buy This For Ballet Class, Not That!

Congratulations, you’ve signed your budding ballerina or ballerino up for class, now what? First things first, time to buy the necessary clothing and shoes. Check with your school prior to venturing off to Target, Walmart, or Sears. Many schools have a specific dress code and can recommend a dance wear store for all of your purchasing needs. Dance wear stores are experts when it comes to finding the right leotard, tights, and shoes. It may be tempting to find a cheap imitation, but there’s a lot to be said about quality when it comes to dance wear.

Every year I have students dressed in attire from a retail store. I can’t deny they are cute, but these outfits are more for play than taking class. Many of the leotards have accents that fall off, tear, or press into the body during exercises and stretches, which can hurt a child. However, the worst part of these outfits are the shoes. These silky slippers are NOT ballet slippers. They are house slippers, and they’re the biggest threat to your child. They fit loose and don’t promote proper foot use for ballet. As a teacher, I can guarantee that students who wear these shoes will slip, trip, and fall within the first fifteen minutes of class. When it all comes down to it, save your money and the tears; buy your child’s dancewear from a dancewear store!

 

Can’t find a local dance wear store? Try these online stores. If you have questions, there’s always a helpful representative standing by!

www.discountdance.com

www.dancewearsolutions.com

www.justforkix.com

www.allaboutdance.com

www.capeziostore.com

How To Get Splits

Below are a list of stretches that will help you achieve the perfect splits. Remember to warm-up before stretching to prevent  pulls, tears and other injuries.

1. Lunge With Bent Back Knee

Set-up:

  • Lunge forward with the back knee bent at a 90˚ angle
  • Front knee should also be at a 90˚ angle with the knee in line with the ankle
  • Place hands on the thigh or floor for support

Action:

  • Press hips forward to stretch

Reps:

3 reps each leg, hold for 30-60 seconds (3 times a week)

 

2. Kneeling Hamstring Stretch

Set-up:

  • Kneel and extend one leg forward with a pointed or flexed foot
  • Back knee should be at a 90˚ angle with the knee in line with the ankle

Action:

  • Forward fold over the front leg
  • Place hands on the leg or floor for support

Reps:

3 reps each leg, hold for 30-60 seconds (3 times a week)

*For best results, try exercise #1 followed by #2*

3. Over Splits

Set-up:

  • Kneel and extend one leg forward onto a stair or stool
  • Place hands on the ground for support

Action:

  • Extend the back led as straight as possible *It might be difficult to fully extend the leg right away*
  • If available, forward fold over the front leg

Reps:

1 rep each leg, hold for 30-60 seconds (3 times a week)

*Also try rotating into a center split and a split facing the opposite direction*

With dedication and practice you’ll have your splits before you know it!

 

Recycle Old Leotards

Favorite leotards are hard to part with, especially when they’re old and comfortable. However, there are ways to extend their life span. It takes creativity and some doctoring skills, but soon those old favorites will be useful again. Just follow these easy steps to recycle your leotard:

Supplies Needed:
Leotard
Scissors
Chalk
Ruler
Step 1:
Lay the leotard flat.

Step 2:
Using the ruler and chalk, draw a cutting line 2-4 inches above the leg holes.


Step 3:

Use the scissors and carefully cut along the line.

Step 4:

Wear your recycled leotard over another one, for a new look…

Or under, for more support.

Happy Recycling!

 

Preparing For Your Child’s First Dance Performance

 

You may have noticed signs going up in your studio, your child singing the same song over and over again, and the countless papers of information stacking up on your desk. Yes, it’s performance time! Now, not only are you responsible for paying tuition, but also for costumes, pictures, videos, and makeup fees to add to the dent in your wallet. Since I’ve always been the dancer or the dance teacher, I decided to ask my mom what advice she had for first time recital parents. Here’s what she had to say:


1. Always ask questions  

A lot of times when your signing up for classes at the beginning of the school year, the receptionists are busy focusing on the start of the new year, so sometimes the recital information is overlooked at this stage. If recital information has not been discussed, ask. Some questions parents should ask are: 

  • When are the performances and stage rehearsals? 
  • Are there any performance fees? 
  • Will I have to purchase a costume or are costumes provided? 
  • Is there a ticket fee, and will I be responsible for buying a certain number of tickets? 
  • Is there limited seating? 
  • Are there any other hidden costs I should know about? 
  • How many performances are there? Are there both winter and spring performances? 
  • Will the parents be expected to help make costumes or props? 
  • Since recitals entail additional costs, can I split up payments throughout the year? 

2. Make room in your schedule 

There are always extra rehearsals before a performance. It’s important to find out when they are in case your child’s absence could affect them being in the piece. I remember one studio where a child wasn’t allowed to take part in the performance because they missed some extra rehearsals.  


3. Check the costume measurements 

Parents must realize that costume measurements must be taken early to allow time for them to be made. Therefore, if your child is going through a growth spurt, you might want to mention it to the teacher so you get a costume that won’t be too small. 


4. Find out about accessories  

Now is a good time to ask about specific tights color, if shoes need to be spray painted, and hairstyle expectations. This way you can find the best price for tights, coordinate shoe dying, and cancel that summer hair appointment until after the recital.


5. Learn about stage makeup policies

Having one person with bright blue eyeshadow might look strange if everyone else is wearing brown. Find out if there is a uniform makeup policy, and if so, get some details about the look. You might ask:

  • Will someone assist with makeup backstage?
  • Is there going to be a class on how to put it one correctly?
  • Will an information sheet be handed out with specific information about makeup?

All and all, I learned from my mom that the more you know, the less stressed you will be. As a teacher, I want my students and parents to understand what’s happening, and I’m sure your child’s dance teachers feel the same way. Please always ask questions; chances are they are more important than you might think.


My first year of ballet


Special thanks to my mom, Pat, for giving great advice!

 

 

How To Prepare Your Child For Their First Performance – Part 1

 

Springtime marks the end of the year for many studios, and to celebrate it’s common to showcase what the students have learned in a performance. To a beginner student, preparing for a first show is a mix of emotions. They are excited to get a costume, be on stage, and dance for all their friends and family. On the other hand, many begin to feel overwhelmed trying to remember the dance, be in the right spot, and smile at the same time. So, how can you help your child from feeling the pressures of their first show? Here’s a list I’ve put together for parents.
1. Get a copy of the music – As soon as your child starts learning the dance get a copy of the music to allow them to start picking up cues and understand the rhythm.
2. Videotape the dance – With many beginners only attending once a week, it can be difficult to remember the choreography. Ask the teacher if you can videotape the dance at the end of class to help them remember what they learned.
3. Don’t let them miss any classes – Missing students make rehearsals hard for everyone, especially the other students. Choreography for group classes tend to rely on the spacing and shapes of the group as a whole. A missing link can cause mass confusion.

4. Arrange a play date with other classmates – Getting the dancers together will inevitably lead to a dance party, which eventually prompts a dance rehearsal. Plus, it’s a fun way to keep everyone motivated.

5. Stay positive – Let your child know you’re excited to see them perform and encourage them through the process. As my mom always said to me, “Go do your best and have fun!”

Me taking class around age 9.