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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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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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Stupid question, but it has to be asked…

Fifth position. Front leg — is the knee slightly relaxed in front of the back knee?

Obviously you want to hold your back knee as straight as you can, and you can do that. There is nothing getting in the way of you straightening that knee. But what about the front knee? Is it supposed to be completely straight? Or like as straight as you can get it, without breaking contact with your feet?

And if the latter is true, then aren’t you really doing all the pulling up etc. and keeping your back leg completely straight but sort of hugging your front knee to your back knee?

I find that often when I am looking at people standing in fifth position, their front knee looks slightly bent. Now, there are those people who are obviously bending both legs to be able to twist their feet into a closed fifth, and I’m NOT talking about them. I’m also not talking about those painful-to-look-at photos of people rolling their ankles in to stand in faux fifth — these ones often seem to go hand in hand with the both-knees-bent photos. No, I’m taking about beautiful closed fifths where the back leg is straight as can be but the front knee looks a smidge curved around the front knee. Just a smidge. 

SO confused about this! Maybe it is just a body shape thing? Maybe those extra bendy people can keep their legs completely straight and twist their ankles to also be able to keep complete closed contact at their feet as well?

And which is more desirable? Closed feet with slight curve in the front knee? Or completely straight legs but an open fifth at the feet?

I would assume whatever is healthier for the body is correct. So whichever is going to cause less harm and injury — but which is that? Is it harmful to have a slight curve in the front knee, if everything else is in correct alignment? Does it actually allow less twisting of that front knee, which might even be healthier?

Anyone feel like educating this confused wannabe? :/ 

BB

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Rewards for Feet?

Why do dancers roll a tennis ball under their feet? Is it to stretch muscles? Is it good as a warm-down or warm-up? How does doing this actually help the feet? Is it a good thing to do?

All my muscles often stay pretty tight so I am always conscious of that. I use magnesium and get massages to help them relax out. It’s mainly my legs usually, but I have been wondering about the stuff people do with their foot muscles. I just plain old don’t understand it yet.

I can see my feet becoming stronger, which is great. I’m not wanting to increase my foot flexibility or anything like that. I know that that will develop naturally for now. I am wondering, though, if there may be some way to reward my foot muscles after they have worked so hard?

Would love to hear any info others have on why people do the tennis ball thing, or other things that are done with feet to help those hard working muscles?

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BB

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Getting to the Point…

Ended the week yesterday with a breakthrough — I figured out what it feels like to point your foot with extension. Well, at least that is how I describe it.

Rather than scrunching my toes whilst pointing, I closed my eyes and tried to focus on my pointed foot. At first I just thought about what it felt like. I then imagined that rather than squeezing my toes together, I was sending them out and down to the floor. And I instantly felt the top of my foot work harder to extend more. Was a great feeling, to notice something new happening. 

Little pieces of progress. ❤