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I have been a professional ballerina for the past fifteen years; a principal dancer for that last nine of them. When I was in school and transitioning into the world of professional ballet, I was quite nervous and, to be honest, very naive. I so desperately wished for an older friend or sister who had already gone through the ropes to hold my hand and tell me what to do. I had no such luck, and though I had a WONDERFUL teacher growing up, there were many things that I still found myself unprepared to handle on my way to professionalism, as well as during my first apprenticeship. I hope that with this blog, and my upcoming book, the aspiring dancers of today will feel like they have a place to turn to for answers to their own questions; a place where they can have a direct exchange with a successful professional of today, and feel comforted, understood and guided.

18 Comments

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  1. Catrina Choate-Heretoiu / Jun 24 2010 10:21 pm

    Jennifer!

    This is wonderful. There is such a need for substantial, meaninful information when it comes to educating young people within the ballet world and I couldn’t think of a better person to do it than you. Wow. Go you!!!!

    I look forward to reading the book when it’s ready and I’ll also promote you and it where ever I am. My mom and sister teach ballet in Michigan so they have a bunch of eager kids at their fingertips.

    Congratulations for taking such a big stand and taking the time to organize valuable information and putting it to paper…..well, computer screen……..I too have been slow to the electronic age….

    I wish you all the best and much love,

    Catrina

    • ballerina2thepointe / Jun 27 2010 11:55 pm

      Thanks for your support Catrina! This is the kind book that I would have loved to have had while I was in school, and even while we were starting out as apprentices together at MCB! Every year the students I teach have so many questions, and curiosities; I remember feeling that way too at their age. Dancing is hard enough already without feeling like you’re diving into an ocean of the unknown without a life jacket! They, and Carlos, have been my inspiration to write this book! I’ll keep you posted on any progress on the publishing front. Since the audience is so specifically targetted, it has been hard to find a publisher to take it on in this economic climate. Unfortunately, they’re all just looking for the next “best-seller”. I’m not giving up though…electronic publishing seems to be the way to go for now. Wish me luck!

  2. Lixion Avila / Jun 28 2010 2:32 am

    This is wonderful. I want to see it over and over again, Love Lix

  3. Samantha Basford / Oct 8 2010 1:53 am

    Jen, this is awesome. I found it through Miriams facebook page. I know that I most certainly could have of used this! Good luck with the publishing.

  4. Catherine / Oct 31 2010 12:40 am

    I too wished that I’d had some “older sister” type figure to help guide me early in my career. Totally hear you. Just found your blog through Rebecca King and will be checking it out! Looks great! 🙂

  5. Gwen / Nov 9 2011 2:47 pm

    Hi Jennifer,
    The Miami Women Creatives book is in its final editing phase after so much time…I can’t find your email…could you please send me a few performance photos of you so that we can include one in the book as part of your profile, of photos 1 mb or larger? Best, Gwen Williams

  6. Hailey / Dec 7 2011 2:32 pm

    I am training to be a ballett dancer, but haven’t found a studio to dance for yet. Until I find a studio, I am training at home. All I have done so far is stretching. Before I get back in my pointe shoes I have to regain my strength. Do you have any tips or ideas on how to regain my strength? I also have to get rid of some fat and gain more muscle; what kind of muscles do dancers traditionally have?
    what kind of things did you do to train yourself?

    • ballerina2thepointe / Dec 19 2011 7:59 am

      Well Hailey, let me first commend you on your motivation and your obvious love of dance! In answer to your questions, it is not customary for dancers, especially ballet dancers, to train themselves. I certainly did not train myself – I attended classes six days a week, ofetn more than one per day, for about ten years before becoming a professional. It concerns me that you want to “get back” into your pointe shoes. How old are you? How much training have you had? How long ago did you stop? Were you injured? You may need to get right back to basics, and good strong barre work is key. I absolutely DO NOT recommed attempting to get back on to pointe on your own. Try to find a good teacher to help you regain your strength. He/She will help you determine when the time is right to put those shoes back on. Trying to go back on pointe too soon, and with poor form, will only result in injury. Ballet dancers must have strong ankles – plus strong calf, back and stomach muscles (just to name a few) to support all that we do. Many dancers, like myself, do extra training, especially on their time off to help maintain those musles and keep in shape. Pilates and Gyrotonics are wonderful, and since I tend to have ankle injuries I also have do series of theraband exercises that were given to me by a physical therapist. The best advice I can offer is to try find a good ballet teacher, and maybe even a personal trainer or physical therapist to help you down the right path. It may be a long road, depending on how long you have been off. Just always remember that you love to dance and try not to get discouraged. Dancing is beautiful, but it is also very hard work.

  7. Kara Francey / Feb 28 2012 8:43 pm

    i would love to be a professional ballet dancer. I am almost 13 so i have a long way to go still but i am currently on grade 6. I really would love to start pointe as i do 3 hours of ballet a week and an hour of contemporary but i am really scared of asking my teacher. I do lots of releves at home and lots of ankle exercises with a theraband. What do you suggest? should i just build up the guts to ask my teacher and keep strengthening my ankles? It is my dream to go en pointe but i dont want to go on to early and get into bad habits or possibly injur myself, hope you can help.

    • ballerina2thepointe / Mar 6 2012 4:50 am

      Hi Kara,
      It is completely natural to be anxious to start pointe work, but that is a very delicate and crucial transition for a young dancer to make. Age has far less to do with it than strength and techincal capabities. Your teacher should certainly be the judge of when the time is right. Do talk to her if it means that much to you, and let her know your aspirations. Hopefully, she’ll be able to guide you, adjust your class schedule, and help you build the strenth and technique necessary to reach your goal.
      Best of luck, Jennifer

  8. daisyfitz / Jan 31 2013 12:35 pm

    Hi Jennifer, this is a very random request, but I’m writing a novel and the main character is a retired ballet dancer. I was hoping to make going deaf the reason she retired at 23, but a friend of mine said that this wouldn’t affect her dancing as mostly you rely on rhythm, beat, steps etc.
    Any advice, or your thoughts on this would be awesome.
    Caroline
    x

    • ballerina2thepointe / Apr 19 2013 10:12 pm

      How wonderful that you’re writing a novel about a ballet dancer!
      Though going deaf might make dancing more difficult, I don’t necessarily think that it would mean one would need to retire. Of course, it would depend on the other personality traits and characteristics that your protagonist has. Is she strong willed and determined, for instance? Does she love to dance enough to take on and surpass any challenges that going deaf could potentially pose? There certainly have been beautiful dancers who have danced despite being deaf, using their other senses to compensate, such as sight and feel – and yes, it is possible for a deaf dancer to feel the rhythm and beat of the music through the floor. I can’t say for certain, but I would imagine it would take some time to develop that skill, however.

      Dancers can do incredible things if their drive to dance is strong enough. Take Alicia Alonso, for instance who performed beautifully for years despite her blindness. Maybe you could write work a dancers incredible willpower into the story somehow? Hope that answers your question! Best of luck with the book!

    • ballerina2thepointe / Aug 28 2014 1:41 am

      Hi Daisy,
      My apologies for such a tardy response. Hopefully it isn’t too late! While going deaf would certainly make it more difficult for your protagonist to dance, it might not be cause for ultimate retirement. She might choose to pursue another kind of dance, modern perhaps, where dancing bare foot would allow her to better feel the best and rhythm of the music through the floor. It would definitely be an adjustment to keep dancing ballet, but I think it would still be possible. If Alicia Alonso managed to continue dancing as she went blind, then I think a dancer with a strong character could certainly continue dancing deaf.
      Hope that helps…
      Best of luck with the book!
      Jennifer

  9. Jenna / Nov 15 2013 2:11 am

    Hey Jennifer this is awesome!
    I’m currently studying ballet at the Joffrey Ballet School in NYC and am aspiring to have a career in ballet. I’m 19 and started taking dance seriously a little later in life. I hope to audition for some smaller companies within the next few years and I was just wondering if you could give some advise on the audition process and if there really is a place for me in this competitive career.
    Jenna

    • ballerina2thepointe / Aug 28 2014 1:31 am

      Hi Jenna!
      I personally believe there are places for many different types of dancers in this profession, even those that started studying later on in life. The key to successful auditioning in this sort of situation, I think, begins with being realistic about your goals, capabilities, and limitations, and researching to find companies where you truly think you’d be a good fit. Go to several auditions, keep your options open & don’t get discouraged if the first few don’t go so well. Each one is a learning experience preparing you more for the next, and they all give you exposure.
      Best of luck!
      Jennifer

  10. Amy / Jan 15 2014 9:01 pm

    do you have any posture tips or exercises for posture?

    • ballerina2thepointe / Aug 28 2014 1:26 am

      Amy, the very best thing to acquire to help with your posture is a strong and stable abdominal core. When your abs are strong they help the muscles in your back to hold your spine straight. Pilates exercises are wonderful (both mat and reformer), and while crunches are never bad, I much prefer doing planks. They work more muscles at one time and are easier on your neck and hip flexors. Yoga is also a great way to build core strength and gain flexibility at the same time. As far as Pluates exercises go, one of my favorites is “The Hundred”. I’m sure by “google-ing” several different Pilates exercises you’ll be able to find step by step guidance on how to do them correctly and efficiently.
      Hope that helps! Best, Jennifer

  11. Maysa Rose / Jul 1 2015 2:13 pm

    You are a beautiful dancer!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

    http://www.maysarose.wordpress.com

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