The Secret Life of a Dumb Ballerina

I answer your questions about ballet! The Secret Life of a Dumb Ballerina #1

Well why, hello there! Today, I am educating you about ballet for my very first post under the Secret Life of a Dumb Ballerina!

So first you might want to make sure I know what I’m talking about, so let me just say this one thing: I’ve been doing ballet for almost 13 years this year. 13. years. It doesn’t even feel real wow!! I have pretty much decided this year that I won’t try to be a professional ballet dancer and instead go to college for multiple reasons ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

ANYWAY! I’m currently dancing at a pre-professional ballet school, a pretty good school I have to admit (how did I even get in lol). I have been here for a year and a half now and I will probably come back next year for my senior year. FUN!

If you want the specifics, I dance around 25 hours a week (including one hour or more of pointe work a week), and do online school on the side (no it’s really not that great I do not recommend online school). It’s rough, and some days I honestly wonder about why I’m here but on the good days, it’s amazing!!! I think this is going to be pretty long so let’s get started!

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Question: How long have you been doing ballet? How many hours a week do you train?

Answer: I’ve been doing ballet for almost 13 years! I train around 25h/week (without the rehearsals etc, but its not as if I did a lot of them so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯)

Q: How did you get into ballet?

A: when I was around three or four my mom put me in a ballet class in Colombia! Once we moved to Switzerland (I was around 4 so not long after) we found a ballet school in my little town and I started taking classes there! The teacher noticed I had talent (what talent lmao we don’t know it’s gone now 😂) and I started taking around two classes a week when I was eight-ish until I was ten-ish. At that time, I gradually started taking more classes until I danced from around 4 or 5pm to 8pm every day (Monday-Friday + Saturday morning classes). When I finished middle school, I left and came here, to the USA!

Q: Is it hard? What’s the hardest thing in ballet?

A: Okay so I’m going to answer this for me, not for all ballet dancers even though I believe most of the will have the same answer (for the first question). YES. Ballet is so freaking hard!!! Of course there are the few prodigies who have everything you could possibly ask for and can just make it look amazing without trying (uughhh) but for most people, yes, it’s hard. The moves themselves are hard if you’re trying to get them right, the physical exercice is a lot on your body, especially because we move in ways the body isn’t supposed to. Which is why we get injured all the time (and let me tell you, being injured SUCKS). But it’s also hard on the mind. Constantly comparing yourself to other people, how good they are, what you can do, what you can’t do, how skinny they are, how skinny you are, how flexible, how good turners they are, the list goes on and on and on. And with all of these prodigies dancing next to you every day, it gets hard sometimes to remind yourself that it’s not because they’re perfect that you aren’t. We can both be perfect in different ways! Wow this is getting kind of long and I haven’t even answered the second question, but yes that’s the bottom of it. Hard on the body and the mind.
What’s the hardest thing in ballet? I just realised I kind of already answered that but for me, the hardest thing is making sure I don’t fall into the dark hole of comparing myself to others and negativity. And well, classes are HARD. I’m always dead at the end.

Q: How long do pointe shoes last? Are there different types?

A: Oh hello!!! This oh my god if you’re a ballet beginner please read this I beg you!!
Pointe shoes, for me, usually last a month or two (maybe even more) and I have no idea how 😂 I dance a lot and a bunch of my friends have to get new pointe shoes every one/two weeks. And let me tell you, pointe shoes are expensive!!! For professionals, they can even use a pair or two per SHOW. At least the company pays for the pointe shoes but can you imagine the AMOUNT OF MONEY that is?
Anyway gosh I need to make these answers shorter and STOP TALKING. *proceeds to talk more* Okay the part to remember in this is that it depends for everyone. It also depends on the kind of pointe shoe you wear, which brings me to the IMPORTANT POINT (see what I did there… pointe?).
The answer is YES. Yes there are. And if you’re getting your first pair of pointe shoes, I TOTALLY recommend going to get your pointe shoes FITTED at a dance store with a professional who knows what they’re doing. Do this for multiple reasons:
1. you’re feet will look better and why wouldn’t you want that?
2. it’ll be easier and less painful for you if you wear the right shoes.
3. just do it okay you won’t regret it.
Otherwise, know that pointe shoes differ in prices and how long they last, how they look, how they feel, etc. Gaynors are expensive but last forever, Suffolk and Freeds are expensive but die really fast. Most Blochs aren’t great but the few good pairs they have are really good (I wear Blochs and I love them). Russians and Grishkos are okay nothing to say there really. My point is: the kind of shoe you get is IMPORTANT. Get too many blisters? You probably don’t have the right shoes (or the right size). Try new things. Find a pair you like. MAKE SURE TO GET THE RIGHT SIZE (another reason to go get FITTED). Okay now I’ll stop if you have any more questions feel free to dm me (@ aelinskingdom)!

an example of different kinds of pointe shoes (also no one actually wears Leo’s what even are those)

Q: I’m 14 is it too late to start learning?

A: Hi there! I don’t know who you are and what you want to do with ballet, but my answer to you is no. It is late, I’m not going to lie to you, but totally doable. But here’s the catch; it’s definitely too late for you to start now and make a career out of it. No offense, but there’s almost no chance (unless you’re a guy. If you’re a guy than maybe). And if you start taking classes now, you’ll probably be a little late compared to the other girls/boys, but that’s fine! If you want to try your hand at it, go for it. I see no reason why not!

Q: What’s the favourite costume you’ve had? And your least favorite?

sorry for the bad quality picture this was taken from a video and it’s the only picture I have with my costume right at this moment 😂

A: That is such a good question!!! My favorite one if definitely the one I’ll be wearing to YAGP this Saturday (AAAAHHHHH). It’s a beautiful red velvet Paquita tutu and I CANNOT wait to wear it!

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For my least favorite, hmm maybe the one down below. It’s the “stars” costume from the 1776 Nutcracker my school does (it’s a really weird and annoying version of the Nutcracker) and this entire dance and the costume is just… not great okay there’s no other way to put it ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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Q: How do pointe shoes work?

Hmmm I don’t know if this is an adequate answer but I don’t really know what else to say 😂

Q: How do to train for ballet?

A: the answer for this one is easy. You do the exact same thing every single day over and over and work hard every single day until you get better! There’s no other way. Does it get boring? No? I guess it could but with different teachers and different classes every time it keeps us entertained ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Q: What are some misconceptions and misunderstandings about ballet?

A:
1. we’re all anorexic.
WRONG. Even if anorexia is DEFINITELY an issue in the ballet world. A girl in my class was actually sent home because she was anorexic a few weeks ago. But hear me out, no company, no director wants an anorexic dancer. They pay you to dance. And if you don’t eat, you have no strength, you look sick, you can’t do anything! They don’t want to pay for someone who could end up fainting on stage, who basically can’t do their jobs. Most of us (not me lmao) eat healthy to be skinny, the other part of us like food too much to care. We do so much exercice that at the end of the day, if you eat more or less okay, you’re fine.
2. “Ballet isn’t a sport”
OOOH gosh how mad this makes me when someone says this. COME AND TAKE A BALLET CLASS AND ACTUALLY TRY AND THEN WE CAN TALK ABOUT IT. Is ballet a sport or an art? It’s both. Fight me.
3. we’re naturally flexible.
HA. HAHA. HAHAHA. No.
4. “ballet isn’t for men”
First if anyone ever says that to you because you’re a male ballet dancer feel free to punch them in the face (okay don’t actually do that… ;)) Ballet wouldn’t be ballet without men. STOP believing that men doing ballet is weird. It’s not because they wear tights or whatever that it’s strange. also, not ALL of them are gay. But just stop judging. Most men are absolutely amazing and can do great things! And also it’s super hard! Ballet isn’t easy. If they say it is, feel free to show them a video of a male dancer and dare them to try to do the same thing they do (make sure they don’t kill themselves trying though…)
I could totally keep going but let’s keep it at that for now 🙂

Q: What does the daily life of a dancer look like?

A: Again, this depends a lot on where you dance, so I’ll answer this for me (bear in mind I am no professional ballet dancer, I’m still in school).
6:50: the horrible alarm goes on
7:00: I actually get up
7:00-7:30: get ready
7:30-8:00: walk to the school across the street and eat breakfast
8:00-10:00: school
10:30-12: ballet class
12-1: pointe class
1-1:30: eat lunch
1:30-3: more school (or rehearsals)
3:30-5:30: ballet class (and partnering on Wednesdays)
5:30-… : lying to myself about doing more school *reads*
10:30-11:30: sleep
REPEAT

Q: How do you prepare your pointe shoes?

A: Okay so for my pointe shoes, I usually sew them with two crossing elastics and stretchy ribbons. I like to break the box a lot because my toe is injured so wearing new pointe shoes hurts a lot :/ I’ve recently started to darn my pointe shoes and I am IN LOVE with the aesthetic of it (and I like how it feels). I also break the shank but I try not to do it too much because I’m always scared I’ll go too strong and make my shoes dead… that would be a little stupid ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Q: How long do you wear in flat shoes before starting to wear pointe shoes? (dancers don’t actually call them slippers… please don’t call them slippers😂)

A: Usually, people start wearing pointe shoes around ten years old? It, of course, depends on your teacher, but I think that’s the average. Make sure your feet are strong enough and have more or less finished growing to minimise the risk of any injury!!

Q: What’s your favorite ballet exercise? What are you most good at in ballet?

A: I think my favorite ballet exercise would be maybe the small jumps? Or rond-de-jambes? I like really tendus though? And the combinations on center where you just get to dance? Those are DOPE. I love small jumps even though KILL my calves because I have tendinitis ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ They’re pretty fun. And what I’m most good at? *nothing* I’m pretty decent at small jumps I guess… I can also balance pretty well?

Q: How much do pointe shoes hurt?

A: aaaahhh, THE question. I’m not going to lie, they hurt pretty bad sometimes (but then again I have NO pain tolerance). For me, it’s usually after 2 hours + of wearing them that it gets really bad. Before, it’s pretty okay because I make sure not to get any blisters (again, because I have NO pain tolerance). I know it’s pretty bad for some people, but after getting blisters a lot, you develop calluses and then almost never have them again. Also, if you get A LOT of blisters, it might mean your pointe shoes are too big or not the right style for you. But I think it’s really not as bad as people think it is.
Someone else asked: “How do your feet not hurt and how do you stand so straight!?”. Well our feet do hurt I guess but we suck it up most the time, and for the second part… I don’t know… we hold ourselves?

Q: Out of ten how well do you think you know all the terms and theory? I know about 5/10.

A: I think like 9/10 because you can never know everything? The terms are super easy for me because I speak French but after taking so many years of ballet you get the hang of it. The theory is a little different, also because there are different types of techniques (Russian, Balanchine, French, etc). I’m Russian trained, but I can do Balanchine (kind of, I can do it but it looks bad).

Q: What’s the one thing ballet dancers struggle with most in their careers?

A: Obviously, there isn’t only one answer for this, but an obvious one is getting a job? Ballet is such a competitive environment and not many people actually make it. Also, auditioning sucks.

Q: What’s it like to perform for little kids who tell you they want to dance after seeing you?

A: It’s the best feeling and highest compliment!!! It honestly makes me so happy but at the same time they have absolutely no idea what they’re getting themselves into ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Q: Do you prefer to dance on pointe or not?

A: I personally prefer dancing on flat just because… I’m better at it? I’m not super strong on pointe because I got injured last year and had to stop for a little while and everything went to hell after that. But pointe is fun I guess if you can actually do things!

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Okay guys we’re done! Sorry this was so long but you guys asked so many questions! I loved answering all of these and feel free to ask me more in the comments!!!
Obviously I am no expert but I do have some experience in ballet, but of course everyone has different opinions on most these questions so please don’t take them too too seriously!!

Tell me, do you do ballet? If yes, for how long? Do you enjoy it? If no, did you used to? Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences and questions and anything down below!!

10 thoughts on “I answer your questions about ballet! The Secret Life of a Dumb Ballerina #1

  1. i did ballet for a year to help with figure skating! it was fun and helped me maintain my flexibility (which is completely gone now oof) although it was ultimately too different from skating to affect it. many of my friends do ballet and i’ve always admired their strength and gracefulness!

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    1. Ah but figure skating sounds like so much fun! I would be so scared tho 😂 also the part about flexibility is such a huge mood 😂

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  2. I did ballet for three years before having to move. It has been four years since then and I’m now 14. I do dance drill for my school next year will be my third year doing it. Dance drill is kind of a mix of hip-hop and jazz. So my question is, will I be able to get back into ballet? I always wanted to do pointe, so I want to get back into it.

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    1. Yes! I absolutely think you could! I don’t think the dance drills would help you much because they sound very different to ballet but I don’t think that would be a problem at all. You might have to wait a little to do pointe, give your feet time to strengthen again a bit before starting. Good luck!

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  3. Yes I have been doing ballet for ten years now and I love it. Though two years ago I quit doing exam work for ballet and changed to open ballet. I totally understand your pain with pointe shoes as I did pointe for two years. I still do ballet but it’s more fun ballet and I don’t have to stress over exam. Though my teacher was very disappointed when I quit exam work as I had “talent”. But I felt it was just too stressful for me. Anyway I enjoyed reading this post as I can relate too it so much! Thank you for posting it! Xx

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    1. Hi! Thank you so much! And that is sad, but I believe that if it wasn’t fun and you didn’t like it anymore there was no point to continue!! ❤️

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  4. I did ballet for about 6 years. It has been 4 years since I quit dancing. I liked it a lot but I didn’t want to be a professional dancer, and the amount of classes wouldn’t have let me do anything else. Right now I wish I could take some classes again. I don’t want to dance seriously, but I’d like to dance. And train my feet so I could get stronger again and use pointe shoes. It was sad to realise I couldn’t use them anymore. But for sure it needs a lot of continuous work.

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