Got to keep on dancing!

Got to Keep on Dancing!

12540852_1694689014111881_8592671724472335283_n-2
IMG_2561

When I was younger, maybe teenage years, I used to say that if I ever wrote an autobiography it would be entitled, ‘I Haven’t Stopped Dancing Yet!’ (Yes that’s the title of a DISCO classic!) At the time all I ever wanted to do was teach dance. I went to uni to study dance but loved my part time job so much that it became my full time job and then my 14 year career.

I ran pubs and nightclubs up until my second little boy was born and then a lot of things changed and I decided life is too short and I returned to my original dancing dream and qualified as a Dance Fitness instructor and now teach my own 80s themed dance class along with some other fitness brands. Throughout my career in bars, I continued to dance but only as a hobby. I went to ballet classes every week and tried out various other classes and of course danced on my bar!

I describe my life story as ‘Bar to Barre!’

Unfortunately my journey from bar to barre wasn’t a simple hop, chassé, pas de bourée dancing into my dreams. It was more like a series of constant audition rejections before deciding to write my own show and be the star of it.

My life and business motto became ‘Got to Keep on Dancing.’ (Also taken from a 70s song!)

At times I often felt like I was constantly trying to just get on with life and dance on a table and have fun… but somebody kept whipping the table cloth from beneath me making me say, ‘It’s fine, I’m fine!” I’d get back up. Then it felt like somebody was whipping the table cloth away, unscrewing the legs, smearing butter everywhere and I still had to say it’s fine… I’m still dancing you can’t knock me down!

My life was pretty simple until my first little boy was born, shortly after I was seriously ill with a life threatening c-section infection. I recovered and went back to my dance classes. Then I had a 10 week miscarriage… kept dancing… got pregnant again and just as my ballet school were preparing for a show so sadly I had to drop out. I would’ve been due days before the show so it wasn’t possible!

Then at my 20 week scan… there was no heartbeat. I was actually 21 weeks pregnant and I had to give birth, they wouldn’t allow surgery as it was too risky with my history. One of the first things I thought about when it was over was…. I want to be in the show! I can keep on dancing.

Finally something went in my favour and somebody dropped out so I was back in and I danced a scene coincidentally called, ‘In Mourning’ just a few days before my due date (the show was Sleeping Beauty and we were the funeral scene.)

A year later my bar, the love of my life, was closed with very little notice. The lease expired and the company decided not to renew so that was it. 12 years of a job I loved was over. I always worked in 70s/ 80s themed bars, I’m a true retro Queen and always felt accepted when I was there. I bet some of my best friends there, had some wonderful colleagues, even met my hubby there! It was a place of happiness and acceptance and it was over.

A few months later I got married and got pregnant again with my little rainbow boy. By this time I’d got another job in a pub company it was a different genre of bars and I met some wonderful people there too but sadly some rather vindictive people too and to cut a long story short, I decided to leave and follow my dreams. So in 2017 when my little boy was 6 months old and my oldest was almost 3, I left my career.

By 2018, I’d qualified to teach and set up teaching in the community. I set up my own brand of dance class too called VIDEO its basically if my old bar were a dance class it would be VIDEO!
So I’d been tested at various points through my life and kept dancing through all of it but the worst test was yet to come. In January 2019, aged just 2, my little rainbow baby boy was diagnosed with leukaemia.

And since then, we’ve just had to keep on dancing! I had a short break from my classes but went back to teaching in April and planning more classes as the time goes on. I genuinely believe that dancing is THE single best thing for a person’s mental health and physical health. It ticks all the boxes. I can honestly say that when I’m in my classes I can be me and with all the stress of in and out of hospital, standing up to people that just won’t listen and all of the other stresses triggered by the diagnosis – dancing has kept me happy.

I’m quite an unusual dance teacher because I always say to my dancers,

“I don’t want to teach you to dance, I want to teach you to keep on dancing!”

And my life has taught me that it means two things;

Keep being you. No matter what life throws at you, you are still you. Keep on doing something that you love. If you lose you then what’s the point? It’s easy to go through a rough patch and just give things up one by one but I think that makes the situation worse.
You’ve got to keep going. No matter what! When you are in a metaphorical routine you see it through until the curtain closes. If something goes wrong you can’t just walk off stage. Flashback to my performance when I was 15l! My ballet shoe ribbons came undone and I kept going. The principal was in the wings silently shouting (yes that’s a thing for dance teachers in the wings) “Kick it off! Kick it off!” I just kept going. Then for even more LOLs our prop nearly fell off stage. I kept on dancing, kept on dancing!

If anyone takes anything from my life story I want it to be ‘Got to Keep on Dancing!’

True to my word, I Haven’t Stopped Dancing Yet! Neither should you.

Guest Blog by

Jo Eden-Sangwell

@DanceAcouk

Dance Aspirations

ADULT BALLET BLOGGERS

ADULT BALLET BLOGGERS

There are so many online resources for adult ballet dancers but sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. So we’re sharing a few of our favourite ballet blogs (recommended by you guys via our Instagram @adultballetcommunity) and giving you a peek at the amazing adult dancers/ teachers behind them!

adultballethub.com

Hannah is a stay-at-home mom to two little girls, and happens to be obsessed with ballet. She takes weekly classes and also loves practicing at home.

Adult Ballet Hub is a blog to inspire and encourage adult ballet students. It’s a place where people can gain a sense of solidarity within the small (but thriving!) adult ballet world. 

twirls4thoughts.com Zoe grew up dancing in a small-town RAD studio. After high school she thought she’d be done with dance, but it didn’t take her long to realise that ballet is a hage part of who she is. She now dances in college while also fulfilling her love for the art form by watching, reading, and writing about it! Twirls for Thought aims to democratise the ballet critique. Thoughtful and analytical dance commentary should not be considered esoteric, nor should it be left to the shrinking number of full time dance critics employed by magazines and newspapers around the world. Ballet is a living, breathing, inclusive art form worthy of our attention. So twirl along!

transcendnormal.com

Natasha is an adult ballet dancer and teacher, and also a Ph.D. student of health psychology. Her research focuses on the benefits of ballet for adults. Transcend Normal is a space where adult ballet dancers can learn, find resources and motivation and get inspired on their journey. With a mission to make adult ballet accessible to all!

danceniche.com

Alicia is a 30 something mum of 2 who returned to dance after a 13 year hiatus and is taking us along on her journey of rediscovering her true passion for dance.

Dance Niche covers topics and advice relating to dance from various view points of being a dancer, a dance mum and now a teacher, as well as reviewing dance productions. From hints & tips, cross training exercises to dance history, there’s something for everyone.

balancedballerinas.com

Georgia is a ballet teacher, studio owner, adult ballet lover, blogger and podcaster based in Australia.

The Balanced Ballerinas podcast and blog is for adult ballerinas, young ballerinas and parents of ballerinas to help them live a life full of grace with a little grit!

londonballetclasses.com

Gee is the founder of London Ballet Classes, in addition to her day job. She has extensive experience working in dance, having worked as an inclusive dance teacher with IcanDance and SLIDE and as a producer for DanceWest. She wants ballet to be an accessible and inclusive art form, bringing joy to adults from all walks of life. Therefore her classes emphasise musicality and artistry in addition to technical skill. London ballet classes focuses on teaching variations so all students have the opportunity to truly dance and perform, not just practice!

The Tutu Truths blog covers everything from technique tips and ballet news to inspirational content. So far the blog has explored the pros and cons of graded work for adult ballerinas, advice on staying motivated, how to become and natural turner and much more!

theaccidentalartist.me

Sarah is a former professional ballet dancer and has been teaching ballet for over 30 years. She is certified in ‘Progressing Ballet Technique’ and is always motivated to share her knowledge and experience.

The Accidental Artist blog helps enable dancers to reach their potential through helpful ballet tips, increasing skills, knowledge and gaining a greater understanding of ballet as an art form.

There are so many wonderful ballet blogs out there but we couldn’t feature them all. Please let us know your favourites in the comments below! 

RAD vs VAGANOVA

Training in RAD vs VAGANOVA

I first trained for years in the English method of Royal Academy of Dance (RAD). It’s a system which has strict rules, like where to put your head, arms, legs, feet and fingers to a specific music count. The music for each syllabus is always the same whether you are training in Brasil or in Germany. Depending on the exercise, the teacher can choose between two musical arrangements, either the piano version or orchestral version. You can do exams that have the same standard worldwide and this is what makes the system so transparent and clear. It’s useful for everyone – beginners, professionals, children and adults alike.  

IMG_0092 (3)

The Russian Vaganova system also has strict rules, where to put your head, fingers, legs etc. BUT the music can be chosen by the teacher and also it is more free in terms of what exercises the teacher chooses for class. The Russian system is the older of the two. Of course ballet schools can also offer Vaganova examinations, but it depends on the teacher, what they are asking for at what age. It’s not as strictly structured and specific as RAD. 

I now have expierence in both styles. I began with RAD for many years but at the moment I’m just training in Vaganova. I have three teachers who are very different and who ask different things of you, even if it is all Vaganova. That’s so exciting and challenging. I also experienced different teachers in the RAD system, but the classes and expectations were very similar. Just a few things varied which depends on the teacher’s view and opinion, for example facial expressions.

If you are going to a different RAD class but it’s the same grade you are working on at your own school, you normally know what to do, because you know the exercises AND the music. If you are going to a different Vaganova class, you NEVER know, what will come!

Also there are some movements that are written differently in each style, some arms and head positions that are completely the other way around. RAD has many arm positions at the barre that are done in second and Vaganova more in 3rd or arabesque positions (3rd is in RAD called 5th). Or in Vaganova the battement frappé is “wrapped” and in RAD the foot is “flexed” and strikes the floor. Although some teachers do both versions of it. 

What I love about the RAD, is that it makes me feel so secure and throughout the same exercises I can show all my expressions and feelings through the music and steps. If we get new students from another RAD school, you know exactly which class they should be in. The student doesn’t have to feel uncomfortable. On the other hand, hearing the same music over and over again can get tiring and repeating the same exercises class after class. But once you’ve got it and the movements are in your muscle memory you can also focus on other things such as musicality and expression. When you only train for RAD exams, other ballet workshops and classes are challenging because there is so much to learn. You are not used to having to pick up new exercises quickly. At the first workshops I was FREAKING OUT on the inside because I couldn’t remember the steps as I wasn’t used to it. 

What I love about Vaganova is that I think they have more beautiful arms and movements during an adage or grand allegro. I prefer the combinations of the steps and positions that they do in the centre. I’m not sure if it is because Vaganova is more new to me to everything is different and exciting. Their mind is used more to remember steps and react to different music (a very big advantage in my eyes). But it is hard to put facial expressions and feelings into the steps due to the fact that music and steps change each class or week. I miss being able to really master an exercise and work on every detail of it.

I know that some people think that you HAVE to do Vaganova style if you want to become a professional dancer. However, that’s not the case. I know some very good ballet dancers who learned completely in RAD as well as many who learned completely in Vaganova. So in my opinion it mainly depends on having a good teacher who is knowledgeable and demanding with an excellent background and then of course how many ballet classes you do a week and how focussed you are as well as other dance classes and workouts you do and equally as important – your ability, passion and mental strength.

The best thing to do is to make the most of every style, One is not better than the other and preferences are very individual to each dancer based on what you love and what you are used to. I really enjoy dancing in both styles, because it makes you more experienced and challenges you more. At the moment I’m very happy with my Russian classes but I do miss the structure of RAD.

by veronika

Nutrition for Adult Ballet Dancers

Nutrition for Adult Ballet Dancers

No matter what your goals as an adult ballet dancer, wether you’re gearing up for performance or just taking some recreational classes here and there, nutrition is incredibly important in making sure you get the most out of your classes. Proper nutrition strengthens your muscles, improves your energy, stamina and focus, and makes it easier for you to retain information. As dancers, our bodies are our machines and they should be properly fuelled and nourished in order for them to operate to their fullest potential.

fullsizeoutput_ac1
fullsizeoutput_900

Thankfully, healthy eating can be as simple as it is important. Healthy eating for dancers can essentially be explained as eating enough and eating the right foods. It is important that we fuel our bodies with enough energy to sustain our activity, as well as getting this energy from sources that have benefits to the body. Nutritionally dense foods are the ideal way to eat, although some treats ever now and again can still be part of a balanced diet.

In order to fuel your body and mind properly, your main energy source should come in the form of complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains and starches. They provide essential vitamins and minerals as well as being energy sources. It is also important for dancers to consume clean proteins. Plant proteins such as beans and legumes provide the essentials for muscle recovery and growth, without causing the inflammation associated with some animal proteins. We should also include healthy fats such as avocado, nuts, and seed products as they are essential for brain function and absorption of nutrients. 

fullsizeoutput_c43
fullsizeoutput_b69

Overall , the healthiest diet for an adult dancer would be comprised of mostly whole foods, meaning those that are not heavily processed. It is best to avoid added sugars, excess and overly processed oils, and added chemicals, dyes, or preservatives. The most nourishing food is fresh , seasonal , and unadulterated. Eating this way will not only have a positive effect on your body, but your mind as well.

Welcome to the ABC Blog!

cropped-ABC-BIG-1.jpg

We’ll be sharing fun and useful blog posts about everything ADULT BALLET! The blog will feature original content from the ABC team as well as guest posts and interviews. If you’re interested in collaborating with us as a guest blogger, please get in touch!

The ABC platform is a place for dancers worldwide to connect, support one another and find useful resources and tips. The adult ballet community it is a wonderful network of supportive dancers of all levels across the world. It’s great to able to connect with other ballet lovers, and gain inspiration, insights and create meaningful friendships. The community also extends to Instagram where fellow ABC members can be found using the hashtags #adultballetgang and #adultballetcommunity

The ABC platform will feature class listings and information worldwide as well as online resources such as video tutorials, exam information and a ballet dictionary. Adult dancers can create a profile which enables you to connect with other dancers based on location, ballet style and level. The Adult Ballet Community is a truly unique, wonderful network and we are thrilled for all of you to be a part of it and join in the great things we have planned!

photo by Aaron Jean Photography