Misty and Harry, Wizards.

Dude, Gentle Reader, have you read Misty Copeland’s book? A Life In Motion: an unlikely ballerina?
I was in a hold-list about five people deep for the book at my library, and when it was finally my turn I tore through it, because it’s totally young-adult fantasy-fiction come to life.
Like this:
You’re thirteen years old, everything seems messed up, and suddenly you find this one magical thing that you didn’t even know was real but that you are really really good at. And not just really really good, but like, a natural. A prodigy. Made for it.
This book is basically all, “yeah, life is fucked up right now but it’s ok because guess what YOU’RE A WIZARD, HARRY.”
I mean, I don’t know about you but that kind of finding-a-hidden-super-talent story was majorly appealing to me as a kid, I pretty much read that story line over and over.
Not by JK Rowling though, I am totes old for that mess. I read all a thems ofcourse, but only while procrastinating college papers and stuff.
Did I ever find my hidden super-talent? No, not exactly, because that’s not how it goes for most people in real life. Most people find that thing they enjoy and are pretty ok at, which, with a lot of training, can lead to an impressive skill set.
Which makes it really cool to read about someone real who really found that magic hidden super-talent, in real life.
So, I recommend it. Don’t be too cool to get on that hold list at your local library.

Posted in Books! | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

A Discount For You At Rotation Dancewear

Recycling. Good for the planet, good for dance clothes.
Today I’m sending a high-five to RECYCLE by Rotation Dancewear.
What it is?
RECYCLE by Rotation Dancewear is an online marketplace where dancers can re-sell their stuff to other dancers.
For example, that leotard you were So Excited about but turned out to be not quite right (What?!?! I’m not a yumigirl after all???? whaaaaaaaaa how can this be sobsobsob shaking fist at sky!!!)
Well, don’t cry, and don’t send it to the thrift because you know it’ll just end up in a sad box of old bathingsuits and it’ll never find The Dancer It Was Meant For and that kind of ships-passing-in-the-night, star-crossed love is just too sad to even think about.
Instead, list it, describe it, use the key to determine its condition on the scale from “new with tags” to “loved”, make a little cash, feel good that another dancer found her leotardsoulmate.
You have to sign up to browse the RECYCLE marketplace, but its easy, just basic email sign up and then you can totally waste some time admiring all the gems other dancers have been hiding away in their closets. Not that I just spent the morning doing that or anything.
Anyway, I think this is pretty cool, like a long-distance clothing swap party with a bunch of adult dancers, students, and lovers of dance.
To further the coolness, Rotation Dancewear, which brings together several collections designed by professional dancers, has created a discount for you, Gentle Reader.
You may view the collections here: Rotation Dancewear and enter the coupon code BALLETLOVE for 10% off until May 15.
Hope you enjoy it, and big thank you to Rotation Dancewear!

Posted in OMG outfits you guys! | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

How Do We Pay For Ballet?

How do we pay for ballet class?
Not like how do we make the money or how do we budget it, (entertainment? health? beauty? foldin’ money?) but how do we physically hand over the money.
The Adult Beginner is kind of squeamish about the money part of it.
I know, it’s dumb and immature and kind of embarrasingly bourgeois of me, but, like, I would prefer to imagine that the teacher and I are meeting in some altruistic world that exists outside of money. My fanstasy-in-the-clouds is totally brought down to grubby reality in those ballet classes where we students are required to hand money directly to the teacher.
I’ve been to a bunch of different studios in the past year, so I’ve been able to experience different ways of paying, and I thought I’d list them here:
1) The Flat Fee Per Month, Unlimited Classes.
This is the method most gyms use. I’ve encountered it with a few dance studios, especially ones that also run fitness classes.
I like this method because it encourages you to take as many classes as possible. The more classes you take, the less each individual class costs.
It’s a mental trick, of course, as the actual cost is the same whether you go once or one hundred times, but if you are motivated by getting a good deal, as is the Adult Beginner, it’s a super effective motivator.
2) The Flat Fee Per Month, Limited Classes.
My least favorite. I encountered this one at the studio where my boy was taking ballet. In this method of payment, you are automatically charged every month for, let’s say, the four classes per month in which you are enrolled.
I am not a fan of this method as I often found myself thinking, “Well….he has a little bit of a cold….but it’s not that bad…” Basically, I feel like it encourages people to bring sick-ish kids to class for fear of wasting money on a skipped class.
To be fair to them, this particular studio had a make-up class available on another day, and I think the policy said unused classes would be credited toward the next month although I was never super clear on that, but to be fair to me, I didn’t see the sense in having a two-year old locked into any kind of automatic monthly enrollment situation when it’s likely he’ll miss two out of every four classes due to vague illnesses. I mean, so far in my experience, when this kid is sick, it’s a two-week affair, making the likelihood of catching that make-up class pretty much unlikely.
So, although I liked the teacher at that studio, I un-enrolled the kid and now instead of ballet we go to a yoga place that uses:
3) The Bulk Discount
Most dance studios use this method, in which you can buy a class card or package or series that gives a discount for buying a big chunk of classes up front. These are usually time-limited, like you have three months to use up the card, or a year, or whatever.
The place where I take my kid for yoga has no time limit, which I love, because see previous missing two classes out of every four. I’m guessing this no-time-limit method is harder financially on the business, but it is so much easier on the parental peace-of-mind.
I also like this method because each purchase is a one-time exchange, as opposed to an open-ended enrollment that you have to remember to cancel if you want to change studios.
All of the above methods are studio run, and involve handing a card over to be swiped by the receptionist at the front desk, leaving you free to skip off to your fantasy land where everyone is in class for fun.
Below we have:
4) The Independent Teacher
In this method, you pay the teacher. Personally. Per class. There’s no bulk discount, class always costs the same, and you hand your money directly to the teacher.
Generally with this set-up the teacher only takes cash or a check, because they are human, so you have to make sure you actually have cash or a check, and then they have to put your money somewhere, and make some kind of record of payment, etc etc, while everyone else waits at the barre or after class while the studio owner comes to hustle you all outta there.
This method makes me feel uncomfortable because it involves a direct exchange of money for instruction, like, a cash amount is assigned to the worth of the class.
On top of that, this method makes me feel dumb and unsophisticated for feeling uncomfortable in the first place. Money is a fact of life and there’s nothing wrong that and I shouldn’t feel weird about putting money into my teacher’s hand, but I totally do.
Also, I think this method has the reverse effect of Method 2, in that it subtly encourages one to take fewer classes, because unlike so many exchanges in our modern day, you are actually seeing the money leave your wallet.
I usually do a work-around for this method by writing a check for a few classes in a row, so at least I’m only standing in front of my teacher, awkwardly holding out payment, once every few weeks.
So there you have it.
I’m guessing Method 3 is the most common in the dance world, but I am often wrong. Holler at me and tell me how you pay!

Posted in Technique and Class | Tagged , , , | 52 Comments

No Spring Concert Here

Not too long ago the Adult Beginner recieved an email from a reader, mentioning among other things that it’s the norm in Anonymous Emailer’s homebase for adult ballet classes to culminate in some kind of end-of-term performance or recital or show, and was that how we did things in Los Angeles?
And I was like omygod NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.
Like, death first. Is how I see it.
But then I was like, ‘Huh. Why is that?’
I mean not why my personal Death First feelings
—I know the answer to that one. And yeah, am aware that most adult ballet students aren’t crazy recluses like I am but whatever—
Why as in Why Don’t adult ballet classes in LA work toward a performance, if that’s a normal thing for adults in other places?
Why, LA?
I have heard of the occasional choreography workshop or similar for adults in LA that ends in a performance, like I remember reading that Align Method did one in 2014 which I’m sure was lovely but I wanted absolutely zero part of because see previous: recluse, and there are probably other examples I just plain don’t know about because the idea horrifies me so much that I actively un-know all related information.
Tons of kids’ performances tho. All the kid studios do a spring showcase, just like everyplace else on earth. I’ve almost been to one or two. Children of friends, like you do.
Maybe that is getting toward the reason: the kid performances have a built-in ticket-buying audience of mom and dad and grandparents and maybe even a friend or two who will buy an overpriced rose in the lobby for the lé petit etoile plus a brownie for themselves for intermission and maybe even keep the studio in mind and enroll their own child a few years down the road.
Cynical Adult Beginner says Follow The Money:
There’s no garaunteed audience to offset the cost of renting a performance space for the grown up types, and adult students don’t bring in an audience that parlays into future clients like the kids do.
Plus, this is LA. If you want to see a small showcase of adult dancers, there are lots of professional groups you could watch. If you want to be a small showcase of adult dancers, there are lots of professionals you could audition for and join.
People will only go see a student performance when they have a personal connection to the student, and without the adorbs-factor, well, adults are busy. One might make an effort to shout yay for a four year old at her first show, but a forty year old… I can see being turned off by fear of the cringe-factor or just not seeing the point, as kids shows are so much about potential and first steps into the public eye, and adult student shows are about something else.
And then there’s the fact that most teachers of adults in LA are not full-time employees of a studio. They teach free-lance, which means there’s no Big Studio Machine to set into motion come showtime, everything would be on the teacher: advertising, finding a location, getting someone to run lights, sound, work the door, just, ugh, a lot of stuff to do and organize and be in charge of, and just wow, totally not what I want my ballet teacher to be mulling over while I’m struggling at the barre.

Posted in You Asked for it | Tagged , , , , , , | 17 Comments

They’re Totally talking about me, you guys.

  

Oh LA. You’re so funny.  

Posted in Bark! Bark! Bark! | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Adult Ballet at Evolution Studios

Review By: Adult Beginner
Class Is Called: Adult Ballet
Where: Evolution Studios, North Hollywood
Website: evolutiondancestudios.com 
When: The schedule on the website seems to be kind of screwy and there/not there, so I’mma help: it’s Tuesday evenings 6:30pm and Saturday mornings 10:30am. For more information call the studio and maybe mention that their schedule is screwy. That’s what I did.
How It Is:
If your dream class involves personal corrections, this is your dream class. The teacher learned my name, and used it right away. Lots of corrections, delivered in an encouraging way.
This class is probably best for people in the mid-range, your IB’s through TI’s (key for class level Here)
TB’s (those are your absolute beginners) might have a hard time keeping up with the barre exercises, which move along really quickly with minimal explanation. New people are encouraged to follow, so I found it helped to know some vocabulary and be able to roughly recognize the things I was seeing. It’s not too complex, it’s just that it moves fast. And sweaty too, hoo boy fast and sweaty. Eschappé sequence and petite batterie, I’m looking at you.
TA’s on the other hand might be frustrated that the emphasis is more on a strong, complete, entire-body-working barre and less on show-off-ish center nonsense.
Size: small, five or so
Age Range: 30’s up
What To Wear: Pink tights happen here! But black tights remain, as always in LA, in the lead. The major look is leotard, black tights, shortie-shorts, ballet slippers. Everyone in this class wears ballet slippers.
Amenities: You guys, I am such a sucker for repurposed warehouses. Seriously. Just clear out a big space, drop in a bunch of studios rooms with sprung floors, polish the concrete in the hallways, leave the beams exposed and I’m so in love.
Such a sucker.
That’s what they’ve done here, and it’s beautiful, and it’s brand spanking new. They opened January 2015.
There are six studios, a kitchen, dressing rooms, separate bathrooms, small but free parking lot in back, some couches to check twitter on, wifi, vending machines. Sighhhhhh.
One negatory though: instead of regular wall barres they have these fancy new adjustable things. They are about the length that one student would need, and you have like four choices of height, which is nice, but one lady in class had hers slip out of adjustment and fold shut during barre stretch, plus I can’t help but wonder what happens when class is super full. Instead of everyone sliding closer along a long barre, you’d have some people sharing these clearly one-person spaces…just seems kinda over-engineered. My prediction: they’ll get regular barres once enough of these break or get stuck in some weird position or whatever.
Any Dudes? none that day
In Conclusion: Great, intense, friendly, sweaty, stretchy, jumpy, correction-y class. Get your slippers and go.

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Ballet at Hollywood Wilshire YMCA

Review by: Adult Beginner
Class is called: Ballet
Where: the Hollywood YMCA 
Website: ymcala.org/hollywood
How it is:
The barre in this class really works articulation of the feet. One neat thing we did involved coming to a demi-pointe on the working foot and then doing a quick motion to come to full pointe in the air, and we were encouraged to make it a quick! sharp! tiny! controlled! flick! kind of motion and it was really specific and small and very difficult actually and kind of exciting, like I could really see the difference between the mush I was achieving and the sharp snap I can work toward.
This class has a very flowy feeling. People say that dance is in the space between the steps, and this is a really neat class for feeling like you are getting into that space: the barre, center, all of it is like a dance.
An absolute beginner or True Beginner would do fine following along in this class, more experienced people would get in some good refinement time.
Odd room though. Dim lighting and low ceilings. Pretty sure it was designed with yoga in mind. So don’t wear your t-shirt that says BIG JUMPS OR GTFO. No big jumps here.
Regarding the strange lighting situation, one fun bonus is that it’s possible to very casually, as if it’s not even on purpose, position yourself directly within your own personal spotlight. I mean, if you’re into that kind of thing.
Class Size: 5 or so
Age Range: 30’s up
Amenities: This is a YMCA, so all the regular YMCA stuff is here. Locker room, showers, gym, childcare, water fountains, pool. Parking sucks because Hollywood, but there are three parking lots right there that charge an extremely small fee with YMCA validation. I think it was like a dollar.
Also fun about this being Hollywood: all kinds of interesting conversations to listen in on while walking from your car. Like the one dude I overheard screaming into his phone, “I don’t want to hear about it! I just want you to buy it!” What was he yelling about? A sandwich? A script? An island? Everyone is wearing workout gear, at a glance you can’t tell the sandwich-screamers from the island-screamers. Hooray for Hollywood!
Any Dudes? none that day
What to wear: Work-out stuff. Sweats, leggings, tanks, sports bras. Socks or slippers. Didn’t see any pink tights although one lady had a really beautiful tulle skirt and the teacher wore a crushed velvet biketard with an intricate back that showed off a contrasting-color leotard underneath.
In conclusion: This class is about articulation and lyricism. The vibe is friendly, gentle, and welcoming.
As far as I can tell, this is the only YMCA in LA that offers ballet for adults, and it’s not just one class either— there are daytime, evening, and weekend adult ballet classes with two different teachers. So if you’re a YMCA member, get in there and take advantage of it.

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