Marching Onward… and Checking In!

Hi friends, just taking a moment to check in and say I’m still here!  Crazy busy, but still here!

February to June is my super busy season, as I’m sure it is for many other dance teachers and studio owners as we prep for our annual recital, register for summer classes and work on next season’s schedule!

Haven’t had as much time to write down thoughts and new music finds, but I wanted to share a funny story from my beginning ballet class.  They are first and second graders and always surprise me, but one caught me off guard!

We were at ballet barre about to work on tendus…

Miss Cait (that’s me): “Now what do we need to remember about tendus?  Sophie?”

Sophie: “Straight legs!”

MC: “That’s right, what else, Julia?”

Julia: “Make them sticky!” (see more about that here)

MC: “Yes definitely… ok, anything else, Morgan?”

Morgan (just as brightly and matter-of-factly as the other responses): “My fish died!”

MC: “Oh.. well… I’m very sorry to hear that – what was your fish’s name?”

Morgan: “Swishy”

MC: “Well…” (scrambling for the appropriate response)

Sophie: “I know!  We can have a funeral for Swishy!”

MC: “I don’t know…”

Julia: “It’s perfect ’cause we’re all dressed up for a funeral – we’re all wearing black!” (we wear black and pink)

MC: “Ok then, let’s dedicate tendues to Swishy”

Kids: “Swishy, this is for you.”

So that’s how we ended up dedicating part of our ballet barre to Swishy the fish!

Ballet Mime

Crossed arms mean love – but be careful –
make those hands into fists and you may
be saying something completely different!

My students and I had a conversation about ballet miming this week:  Did you know dancers are storytellers as well as actors and actresses too?

Ballerinas and ballet dancers even have their own special hand gestures to tell stories – sort of like ballet sign language!

You may already know some common gestures:

– Both hands to the heart for “love

– Hand cupped by ear for “hear

– Bowing or curtseying to show loyalty

– Strong motions with fists to show anger

 

Then there are some you might not be as familiar with:

– Tapping the forehead twice for “princess” and three times for “king” or “queen

– Crossed hands with fists for “death

– And “dance” is said by circling your arms overhead in 5th position

Here are some links for more ballet mime:

Learn the conversation between the Swan Queen and the prince from Swan Lake with this fun video from The Royal Ballet:

The VitaVibe Ballet Barre – A Review

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…a.k.a. “The Search For Portable Ballet Barres, Part 3”

It has been a while since I posted about my search for portable ballet barres (here’s Part 1 and Part 2), so I thought I’d do an update.

Full Disclosure:  I am not being compensated by VitaVibe or Ballet Barre Store.  I just purchased the barres for my studio and am sharing my experience in hopes that it helps others!

Since my original purchase in January 2011, I have purchased a second barre from the Ballet Barre Store, so we have one barre at each location in current use.

Both barres arrived fairly quickly (about a week or two) and were very easy to assemble. The first one, my husband helped with and the second one I put together all by myself.
Side note-that-should-be-common-sense-but-I-didn’t-think-about:  An 8-foot barre will come in a box that is.. wait for it.. 8 feet long.  Make sure if you need to move it in your vehicle that it will fit.  It was a close one in my little car!

Both times I purchased the “BD96” – an 8-foot double barre from their “Prodigy Series“.  I chose these over their heavier-weight line because we have wall barres and don’t use our portable barres that often.  The cost of the Prodigy series is also half that of the Professional series.

The connectors make it easy to adjust the height of the
barres as necessary

Each barre is lightweight, easy to move around and very easy to keep clean.  I can’t attest to the “antimicrobial properties” of the aluminum coating, but the barres are very smooth to the touch and we wipe them down with Clorox wipes after use.

With the 8-foot barre, we can fit a maximum of two teen students on a side, but its much more comfortable with just one, especially if they’re using the barre for a leg stretch.  With the littles,  maximum of three littles (two on one side and one on the other).

Pros

  • Lightweight aluminum means they are easy to transport to the middle of the floor or to another room as necessary – my students no longer complain about moving the barres!
  • Easy to assemble and adjust as needed – and the Ballet Barre Store sells parts a la carte if anything were to break or you wanted to make your single barre into a double.
  • Has stayed much cleaner than the wood barres.  It doesn’t get that “grubby” feeling… and no more splinters!
This is the bottom part of the barre, where you can see the only visible scratches.
They are from little tappers experimenting with how tap shoes sound on an aluminum barre!
  • The feet of the barre are covered in rubber, which means no more scratched marley – yay!
  • The company gives a 10 year warranty on all of their barres.
Oooh, shiny!

Cons

The only downside to these aluminum barres is that the barre is sometimes too lightweight and feels like it could be pushed over.

While this forces the students to be more conscientious about not leaning or relying too much on the barre, it makes me a bit nervous that they if they ever actually do lose their balance, a big grab might knock the barre over.

So far it has not happened, but it just doesn’t have the sturdy feeling that our older (and much heavier) wooden or metal barres do.  Heck, the ones we used in college were made of some sort of heavy piping that took 2 – 3 of us to even get it to budge!

Would I Buy Again?

Yes – overall, the pros definitely outweigh the cons.  However, next time I might be tempted to try the Professional series, which is made out of a bit thicker aluminum, which might add enough heft to counteract how light they are to move.

Holiday Music Update

Our ‘happy elf’ at the studio!

Does your holiday playlist need some updating?

Here are a few songs that you can add into the usual rotation to spice things up a bit this year (links open in iTunes):

Jazzy Tunes

The Happy Elf – Harry Connick Jr.

Cool Yule – Louis Armstrong

I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm (Stuhr Remix) – Kay Starr

(Everybody’s Waitin’ For) The Man With the Bag – Kay Starr

A Little More Mellow

The Christmas Waltz – She & Him

Christmas Lights – Coldplay

Snowfall – Ingrid Michaelson

Somewhere In My Memory – Home Alone Soundtrack (I actually recommend the entire Home Alone Soundtrack by John Williams for some fun music that has a Christmas-y feel to it – I especially love the track “Holiday Flight”“)

And a few more…

Hurry Home – The Good Lovelies

Bring Me Love – Marie Digby

Last Christmas – Taylor Swift

March of the Toys (Instrumental Version) –

From 2011:  Holiday Music Round-up

From 2010:  NMM: Holiday Music

2012 Song Selections

Now that the competitions and recitals are over, I’d thought I’d share my list of songs I used this past year for choreography. (Here is 2011 in case you’re curious)

All links open in iTunes, unless otherwise noted

TAP

 

My magic hat!
Faces obscured for privacy

LYRICAL / CONTEMPORARY

OTHER

What was your favorite song that you danced to this year?