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Dear Dream Seekers

Dear Dream Seekers,

You are wonderful. You are inspiration. You are life being lived.

I love seeing so many adult ballerinas emerging currently. Particularly on Instagram, it’s like watching these beautiful buds of hidden desires start opening their dare-to-dream petals and blossom into the most beautiful, soulful dancers.

Something I have noticed is that there seems to be an ever persistent pressure flowing from within many of the adult ballet students I see.

Inner pressure to be good at something we love is not a new thing. It is natural to want to progress.

And I am no stranger to that inner pressure. I felt it. I breathed it in and out, day and night. And it happily went and killed my love of ballet (for a while.)

And so I feel a little sad when I see people putting huge amounts of pressure on themselves to be better at something they love.

I mean, if you love it, then you should be doing it for love.

Let’s repeat that: If you love it, you should be doing it for love.

I know that you want progress. And I know that the ballet studio is a pretty intense place regarding your progress — indeed, it can sometimes feel like a comparison festival is happening in each class.

Everything you want is a valid desire. Improvement, enjoyment, strength, musicality, memories, flexibilities. It’s up to you what you want to aim for. It’s your life. Your choice. No-one else can, or has the right to, choose them for you.

But please be sure to think about it first. Think about you and what you really want because of how those things make YOU feel.

Don’t look at what someone else is doing and just follow along. God knows, you might wake up ten years from now able to do the splits but not able to dance in the centre. You might then shake your fists in the air and scream at yourself for following the splits trend only because it was what others were doing — and you missed getting your teacher to help you learn some amazing mini-solo piece that feels like heaven to dance.

Don’t set yourself up to one day wreak of regret.

So, with that in mind, what I do hope you do is sit with yourself a while. Ask yourself what you feel in this moment you want to do — like actually do right now — because you never know what amazing idea might have been waiting to flow through you but just hasn’t had the window opened to it before.

Then, ask yourself what you think you might regret NOT doing in twenty years time. I usually get my deepest inspirations flowing from this one.

Then lovingly think about all the things you, your body and mind, are good at doing. Really appreciate those things. If ballet is your thing, maybe you’re really musical and your body just naturally flows with the music, maybe you have lovely hand expressions, maybe you have a sparkly passion, maybe you have strong muscles, maybe you can smile during class (harder for some than others!), maybe you understand combinations, maybe you are flexible, or have lovely feet, or maybe you feel your soul fill up during ballet class.

These are all wonderful elements of what you do and of how you feel. I feel it’s important to fully embrace them. Soak yourself in the things about you and your passion, that you love.

When thinking about what goals to set yourself, or what path to set off on, I think it’s really important to take stock first, of all the wonderful parts of yourself that already exist within your passion.

I would look at what you love doing now, look at what you would regret not doing, and set your path accordingly.

If achieving the splits for ballet is part of that path then set your goals and go for it. If it’s smiling more during class, or learning a combination, or performing — then set your goals and go for them.

But be sure to start your intentional path with the full acceptance of how incredible you already are.

Be sure that you don’t discount all of your gloriousness and just focus on what you cannot yet do. If you do that you will be starting your journey with a destructive cycle of focusing on your downfalls. You should be real about yourself. But leave the negativity at the door. If negative self-worth is already an issue for you then I would suggest adding that to your goals — “Learn to love myself for all that I am.” That, and if neccesary, see a therapist, because honestly, that bullshit will become a serious obstacle to you fully realising your dreams.

So, in summary…

1) Align your goals with what YOU enjoy doing and what you feel you will regret not doing.

2) Make sure to begin your path to your goals/dreams/passions swimming in self-appreciation for all the wonder you already are.

Always remember why you’re doing it.

Always respect yourself for doing it.

Always hold your head high.

Remember,

You deserve to be in the room.

Zoe xxx

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Above and Beyond…

Paramedics were called out again this afternoon. Not great.

HOWEVER…

While here, they told me about the headway they’ve been making in getting our little rural hospital to give me regular, preemptive special IV therapy.

The idea being that this IV therapy would hopefully reduce the amount of times I need emergency calls to ambulance services, helping me to not get as severely sick as regularly as I am at the moment and not clog up their services when someone else could be doing it. It’s not a perfect system but it’s better than anything we’ve got going now.

We’ve been trying to get doctors and community nurses to make this happen for a long time now, without any luck.

So one of our amazing paramedics decided to march up to the community nurses and the hospital and see what they could do to get it happening for me.

And today, one of these amazing paramedics said he’d convinced the hospital and nurses to give it a try and see if it helps — probably just over summer, as that’s when I tend to need this treatment the most.

It just blows my mind when I see someone go above and beyond, to help others.

Thank you Mr. Paramedic. You rock.

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This Time Around

This time round on my ballet journey, I have the power of knowledge alongside me. I am aware of my body’s strengths and weaknesses.

It’s funny because, although this time round I have many many more challenges, I am choosing to see those challenges as opportunities to do things the right way for me, and therefor achieve more of my dreams and goals.

Last time, I had hopes and dreams but was continuously failing. I was continuously feeling my body crumble when it didn’t seem like it should.

I was being told my body was perfect for ballet and “should” be able to make all these perfect ballet shapes if I tried hard enough.

I also had a strange fear of movement. I began to get over that fear while I was at the barre — in fact, Iearned to adore the feeling of movement at the barre, and I even started feeling a little more confident with some pirouettes.

But move me away from the barre and I completely froze up.

I remember during my first private class my teacher tried to teach me a very simply pas de bourree with a simple relaxed pirouette on the end.

But it was the strangest thing. It felt like I was learning to walk again. Like everything was foreign to me. Like I didn’t even know my left from my right. Like I didn’t even know my own name anymore.

I used to walk away from centre time feeling so deflated. I didn’t understand why my body felt so weak in the centre and I didn’t feel like it would ever end.

(I do have to add that my in-class teachers were wonderful. They would always say, ‘Just give it a try!’ They could see I was really struggling and didn’t make me feel worse for it. And I am incredibly grateful for that!)

Now, after having experienced such a massive physical breakdown, and doctors finally being forced to pay attention — and that attention leading to the right diagnoses’ and now treatment, has meant that I actually know now why my body was not ‘failing’ but struggling with certain elements and why I felt so awkward doing centre work. Yes, there are actual physiological reasons for it!

So many things make sense to me now.

I remember during my hardest days a few months ago, I would lie there, unable to speak properly, unable to stand up, unable to wash myself, pain searing through my body, and I would try to think of the good things in my life. I found them in my children and my hopes for better times some day. But it was bloody hard to find them. Some days I was too consumed by my suffering to find them and I just wished for the day to end. 

But I never thought I would one day look back at that time and see it as a vital part of my future success.

And that is what it is. (I am not ignorantly suggesting that this is how it is for all chronic illness sufferers. We all have our own journeys.)

There will be many ups and downs ahead. And my daily grind is still a pretty heavy grind.

But now I am armed with knowledge and am moving forward in an achievable way, giving my body all the support and understanding it needs, to get me where I want to go.

And understanding makes ALL the difference. I’m no longer confused. I no longer feel like a failure. I feel more confident that I can achieve my dreams than I have ever felt before — because I have adjusted my dreams and the ways I intend on achieving them.

I may have health issues that are making me see things in this new light, but I think it’s relatable to everyone who may start to feel that pressured feeling about what they’re trying to achieve.

I suggest we all stop comparing ourselves to others and start learning about our own bodies, how we work and don’t work and start working WITH ourselves rather than against ourselves. As that is how I see the greatest growth happening.

Zoe xxx

P.S remember, if you like it… share it! 🙂

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How-To — Stretching For Adult Ballerinas

OMG! My first how-to post! I’m so excited!

Firstly, remind yourself while you attempt these stretches that you’re only human.

Some people say there is a right and wrong way of doing stretches.

I tend to think it’s all a bit open to interpretation.

Okay, so here are the stretches I want to show you today. Enjoy! 🙂

1) The Floor Has Never Felt So Fucking Far Away

This stretch is to release the hamstrings. You want to gently reach down to the floor.

It helps if you stretch your fingers out really wide and express all your pain with your face.

Visualization has been proven to be a powerful tool. Being able to see yourself reaching further may help your progress. So hallucinogenic fungi might be helpful for this one.

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2) The Crotch Cramp 

In this stretch you want to place your foot on the barre and gently reach for it. If you feel your crotch starting to cramp up, you’re probably on the right track.

It’s important to aim for straight legs and back in this stretch. But most important is that you fully express how badly you want to reach your foot.

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3) The Crotch Cramp — With Port De Bras and Happy Face. 

When you are feeling confident with your execution of The Crotch Cramp stretch, it is probably time to add some delicate ballet arms and ballet face to the pose.

When doing this, you simply want to do the same as the previous stretch, but add some lovely fifth position arms and turn toward the camera/audience/teacher and express your best, delicate, in control, poised ballet smile.

Again, it’s important to hold straight legs and back. But more importantly, your smile should hide the pain you and your crotch are in.

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4) The Barre Hang

This stretch is important for developing your front splits. It’s mainly just important that you look really proud of yourself and that you hold on really tight so that you don’t fall onto the floor and break your vagina.

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5) The Barre Hang — With Port De Bras

This stretch is fairly self explanatory. You are simply adding some lovely port-de-bras to the previous stretch. We do this because adding another level of complexity to our exercises always helps us progress so much more (as you can see in the photo demonstration.)

It’s really important to relax into this stretch.

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I hope you have found this how-to tutorial helpful. If you would like to see any other how-to tutorials from me, let me know in the comments or on one of the social media gatherings.

Zoe xxx

****DISCLAIMER****

This is a joke.

This is not real instruction.

Don’t do these stretches like this.

Don’t stretch without being really warm first, and I don’t mean warm in front of a fire, I mean having warm muscles.

Don’t stretch without instruction from someone.

Don’t pull those faces.

Don’t be stupid.

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Sleeping Beauty — The Pre-Show Class

As we approached and entered the venue, I nervously clutched my clipboard, upon which were the names of all the people involved in making this moment possible.

I felt sure that someone was going to stop me and gently inform me that this was all a big confusing mistake and I am not actually allowed in to watch the dancers in their pre-show class on stage.

I had my reply all worked out and running on repeat round and round in my head, for when they tried to tell me the dream was over.

So it was a pleasant surprise when we entered and asked for Hans, the production manager, and the woman behind the desk simply got up and walked us up some stairs all nonchalantly.

She asked us to wait outside the auditorium while she went to find Hans.

We waited. I ran more thoughts through my head about how ridiculous this whole idea was. And how Hans was sure to laugh at my bizarre request.

So I was even more surprised when a bubbly Hans walked out of the auditorium towards me, shook my hand and said: “Zoe! Ali told me you’d be coming today. So you want to come and watch class? Come on in.” And then continued to guide hubby and I through to the auditorium.

What? Just like that… I’m in? Seems to easy.

SPOILER ALERT: Nothing bad happened. No nets. No traps. No quicksand. Just a lovely afternoon stargazing at amazing dancers.

As we walked, Hans chatted calmly about menial (to him) things like what time the production crew had arrived and what time the dancers had arrived. When we finally got within view of the stage he chuckled and commented about how tiny the stage here was. And that this meant that they had to rearrange parts of the show so that they could fit on the stage.

I was pretty amazed by how difficult it would be for the dancers and choreographers to adjust their whole show in such a short amount of time — and then remember those adjustments the whole night long.

I asked Hans: “So the dancers have to learn all those changes between now and tonight’s show?” And Hans replied, with a smile: “Yeah. But they’re good at it.” The reply came with an air of intense confidence and struck a chord within me. A chord that was to remain poignant throughout the rest of the day and night.

Hubby and I found ourselves a seat in the auditorium. As there were no other spectators, I wanted to find a seat out of the way, where I wouldn’t feel so noticeable. But that just wasn’t going to happen. The lights were shining brightly down on all the seats — there was no safe zone. I just had to sit and enjoy.

Enjoyment didn’t take long.

As soon as I sat down my eyes were glued to the stage. Glancing off only occasionally to observe other crew members and ponder what their role might be.

The barres were set for class, the dancers lay about on the floor stretching every inch of their bodies while their conversational chatter bubbled away.

As the teacher started verbally running through the first combination, I was surprised to see that several of the dancers took their places at the barre to begin, while others continued to stretch a while longer before joining in. This casual approach, joining in when they felt ready/warm enough, wasn’t what I was expecting. Yes, clearly I am a novice to the pro-ballet world!

It wasn’t long before I had that magical moment that I have heard other dance students talk about. The moment when the language of ballet crosses the boundaries of all other languages.

I was listening to this thick Russian dialect being spoken on stage, when I realised I was understanding what was being said. This felt a little weird at first, and I was all like… wait, I don’t know Russian! But then I realised…

When the teacher was telling the dancers what exercises to do, he wasn’t speaking Russian, he was speaking ballet!

Amazing!! That was seriously amazing to experience. Absolutely loved that moment.

So the class got underway. My next surprise was the gorgeous laid back music they were dancing to. It almost sounded bluesy. Didn’t really sound like any classical ballet class music I had heard. And I LOVED it. It was extremely relaxing and mixed well with the continued, albeit quieter, chatter that bounced around the stage. The beginning of this class looked exactly like “warming up” should look in my mind.

[Sometimes I feel like the immediate rigidity that comes over me when I enter the classroom creates tension in both my body and mind, which works against the warming up process that is supposed to be unlocking ourselves to become looser and more pliable.]

The class picked up in intensity and the warmer the dancers got, the less they chatted until by the end of barre work, apart from the occasional comment or joke thrown in from the teacher (yes, he actually joked and laughed), they were pretty much silent as they concentrated on pushing the boundaries of their bodies.

They did an entire class including barre and centre work.

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It was surreal to watch such incredible dancers move their bodies, in real life, right in front of me. As an adult beginner, it was awe inspiring and really special. I felt like I had stepped into a sacred ceremony. So beautiful.

Once centre work was finished it was time for them to work on rehearsals and adjust to this tiny stage they would be dancing on tonight.

It was time for us to leave at this point. So I breathed in this magical scene one last time and hubby and I went off for some dinner.

But it wasn’t long before we were back at Lismore City Hall for the show.

And they didn’t disappoint.

At this point I come back around to that incredible adaptability that this company has to have. These performers had arrived in town that afternoon and within 3 hours they had warmed up, done class, worked on their adjustments to the tiny stage they were on, done make-up and costumes and were ready to perform.

And let’s not fairy-tale it, these guys wouldn’t all be injury free and without health issues, but they just push on. It must be completely grueling, but the show literally must go on.

I kept thinking about this through the evening as I watched them all create magic on the stage. Their level of professionalism is astounding.

And it was magical. They are gorgeous dancers and they filled the auditorium with wonder and awe.

This show is awesome. Beautiful, stunning and whimsical. And as all ballets I have ever seen, it seemed to end too soon.

I would like to thank Moscow Ballet La Classique for allowing me to come along to the pre-show class and for bringing their ballet to our region. You are brilliant. I love you!

I would also like to thank Grand International Concerts, in particular Ali, for helping me gain access to the pre-show class, and NORPA and Lismore City Hall for their contributions in bringing ballet to our region.

When all these organisations come together, you get the blessing of ballet reaching people who ordinarily might never be able to see it.

This is always an amazing thing.

Sometimes it is a life-changing thing.

To see more about these organisations, you can follow the links below…

Moscow Ballet La Classique

Grand International Concerts

NORPA

Lismore City Hall

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gwenyth Modern Classic Top + Tunic

Dearest Readers,

I’m excited to tell you about the Modern Classic Top + Tunic by gwenyth, a product I was asked to review, and fell in love with in the process.

This product is very versatile and acts as a supportive dance/workout top which converts to a tunic if you should so desire. It’s kind of like a singlet that’s had a NASA make-over, with thoughtful strap adjustments for better comfort, an extra back strap for more adjustments and two different styles of bra pads.

Firstly, this top came in packaging that knocked my socks off! I know, I know, I don’t even care about packaging, so why am I suddenly getting all distracted with it? I almost want to hold a competition for the best packaged product now. Just so I can see the pretty packages! I think I’ve turned. Packaging has seduced me. I’ve been pulled. I’m becoming a packaging addict! I need a support group and a program with steps. Somebody get me some steps!!

Immediate Impression:

Really nice. Beautifully soft, but not flimsy, fabric. Love the ‘ballet pink’ colour I got, it’s a light, almost neutral pink, which means you will be able to wear the top out to other places.

Within the box is the top/tunic, an extra back strap for added adjustments should you need it, bra pads for either shape and support or just for extra coverage and instructions about all these gorgeous gwenyth components.

As an added bonus, and in MacGyver-esque style, the extra back strap can also double as a headband. I have no photos of me wearing the headband as I haven’t enough hair yet, but I was reviewing it so I did put it on, and it is soft and doesn’t pull on my scalp like so many other headbands do. So if my hair is ever allowed to grow longer again, I will definitely use this headband.

How it fits and feels:

The gwenyth top feels VERY comfortable on. The soft fabric is gentle but supportive. Nothing twists around or rides up the waist.

It fits perfectly as it should for a ballet/dance top. Nice and snug to hold everything in place. It feels supportive in the bust without cutting into the shoulders and also feels comfortable around the torso.

I have quite wide shoulders compared to the rest of me and I often find cross over straps are uncomfortable on my shoulder blades as the proportions just aren’t right for my shape, but I found being able to adjust the straps on the gwenyth top eliminated that problem. So big tick from me on that one!

How it looks on (is it stylin’?):

I really like the look of the gwenyth top. I would wear it during a ballet class or going out. I would have no trouble going to lunch, movies or the gym in this top.

I might not wear this top during a Studio Tibor group class as I prefer to wear a leo in that class for the sake of formality, but in other classes I would be very comfortable in it.

Again, I love the colour. It’s unassuming, which I love as you can dress it up or down as you please.

The ties on the side for adjusting the length are neither here nor there for me, visually, but during a class I would tuck them under.

How it performs:

I honestly thought that this part might be the undoing of this gwenyth top. My two big concerns were about the sides of the top riding up during class and about the colour being so light during a sweaty workout — I was looking for that “Oh crap! You can see my everything!” moment. But I was pleasantly surprised when neither of those became an issue.

You all know from my previous reviews that my favourite items of dance gear are ones that I don’t notice I’m wearing. Well, this product hit a home run there.

I thought this top was going to ride up on the sides when doing port de bras but it didn’t. I didn’t once have to stop and adjust this top during class.

And what about that sweat? The gwenyth top wins again with this one. Firstly, I don’t know what they’re doing with their fabric, but it actually took a lot for the sweat to begin showing through this top, and my followers and dance buddies know how drenched I am during class. Also, the coverage bra pads would stop that worry about the lighter colour becoming see-through when drenched. (But I wanted to try it without just to see.)

This top also has a built-in “Sling Bra” which adds to its comfort and support during class.

My favourite things about this product… 

– The obvious quality that has gone into it.

– The support and comfort it gives.

– The ability to adjust the top to the length you want. (I really liked having this top down over my hips during class. Felt really comfortable and looked nice.)

The Tunic…

Okay so the other element of this product is that the top can be pulled down at the sides and become a tunic. This isn’t my usual style (so my tunic pics were a bit awkward) but I think this is a neat idea and it would look great on lots of people.

It would definitely be comfy to wear with tights on the way to the studio or gym.

Do I recommend it?…

Yes. I definitely recommend this product. The product itself is great quality and very comfortable, but I also love the company’s philosophy of trying to get one product perfect before moving on to new products. The gwenyth company is not putting quantity before quality and they really genuinely want to do right by their customers.

Hope you enjoyed this review. If you’re interested in checking gwenyth out, click on this link: gwenyth website. For anyone interested in making a purchase, gwenyth have kindly give Bush Ballerina readers a fabulous 20% discount. All you gotta do is use the code xoBushBallerina20 when making your purchase.

[I was given this product in return for an honest review. As per my agreement with companies requesting a product review, I will only actually write reviews about products that I like — because I just don’t want to spend time on stuff that doesn’t float my boat. Therefor this is an honest review. I genuinely love the product. I also have no affiliation with products bought or links clicked on.]

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Pirouetting News!

Haha, okay I’ll start with a laugh, because this is kind of funny and it did make me laugh at myself.

So it turns out (pardon the pun) that you are supposed to retire during pirouette. I mean, I always new that your leg went somewhere like a retire position, but I realise now that you are supposed to do a complete proper retire!

I was practicing an exercise Tibor had taught me. It had a lot of going up into retire quickly. And I remembered him saying: “I’m getting you ready for pirouettes.” And all of a sudden I was like…

BOOM!!!!

I’m totally supposed to go full retire! Toes fully touching knee!

And it has made a huge difference! So much more stability and control. I know a lot of things go into stability, but for me, this one has had the most impact on my pirouettes.

So here’s a clip of me in tonight’s lesson, using full retire…

Enjoy! 🙂