Tag Archives: beginner ballet pictures

A Barre!

Phase 1 of my home studio!

Over the weekend, Boyfriend and I built me a ballet barre! Well, it was more like Boyfriend built it, but it was my idea, and I helped.  I did such useful things as find the instructions online and hold on to the freshly-cemented pieces while they were fitted in with the other freshly-cemented pieces. Oh, and I tested it out!

For the longest time now I’d been wanting a ballet barre to practice with.  I’ll just say right now that practicing with a barre is so much more fun than using a countertop or the wall (which is what I’d been using for the past 2.5 years)!  Like, every single time I pass by it I can’t resist doing a whole bunch of plies and releves, or port de bras. I’m as excited as a kid with a new toy!

At home we took some rough measurements (I wanted the low barre to be at a good height for me to get my leg on to stretch, and the high barre to be a comfortable height for placing my hand without my shoulder riding up), and then headed to the hardware store.  We’d already decided that we were going to make the whole thing out of PVC pipes, to keep it lightweight, portable and – most importantly – affordable. So, we get down to the hardware store, and I’m so excited, probably the most excited I’ve ever been at a hardward store.  Though I’m sure the day we go get my mirrors I’ll be real excited too.  The hardware store has nice floors to practice turns on, by the way, and I couldn’t resist doing a bunch of pique turns and soutenus. Fun!

The barre-making supplies... and my nosy little cat

The barre-making supplies… and my nosy little cat

We added up the measurements, and decided we needed to get 2 10ft long 1 1/4 pvc pipes. It just added up to 20 ft perfectly. We needed to get it cut though, so we asked the guy working there if he could cut it for us, since the store had already confirmed that they do offer the service of cutting. He gave us such a hard time! He asked us “What are you trying to make?” (Boyfriend hates it when they ask that, lol), and Boyfriend’s like “It’s called a ‘barre’.” and the guy looked lost, so he showed him a picture.  The guy’s then asks “What are you going to hang from that?” and Boyfriend’s answers “Legs!”. I couldn’t help butting in and saying “No! If you’re hanging off the barre you’re doing it wrong! Go back and try something easier and build more strength first!” LOL. Anyway, Boyfriend just told the guy he was going to mark off the different sections at the various measured lengths, and then the guy could cut it. So without any further delays we bought or cut lengths of PVC pipe, the elbow and t-shape connectors and a small bottle of cement glue. Total came out to the very reasonable price of $30 and change – a fraction of what some pre-made barres online are going for.

At this point I think we hadn't glued it together yet...

At this point I think we hadn’t glued it together yet…

Putting it together for a test fit went smoothly.  Then we put it together with the cement glue. The fumes were so strong, even with two fans going at the same time. The instructions had said to do this in a well-ventilated area and he was not kidding!  I think if we hadn’t had the windows open and the fans running we would have started hallucinating little ballet dancing hippos or something…

Anyway, I couldn’t wait to try out the barre the second it was assembled, but Boyfriend suggested that I wait until the glue had time to dry. It was one of those delayed gratification things…

The finished product... and my horribly inadequate mirror until we get the home studio all set up

The finished product… and my horribly inadequate mirror until we get the home studio all set up

But that was then! Been using it intermittently throughout the days since.  I’ve only had one full-length practice session with it (I don’t like to go all out on the same days I have class), but as I mentioned earlier, I’ve done countless plies, releves, stretches and port de bras. So far it’s been working out great! Boyfriend mentioned wanting to add some non-slip thingies to the bottom of the feet to keep it in place, but so far it’s definitely not the flimsiest barre I’ve ever had the pleasure of using.

Some pics! Don’t mind my crappy turnout and unpointed feet…

The bottom barre did come out a good leg-up-on-the-bare-stretching height

The bottom barre did come out a good leg-up-on-the-bare-stretching height… though apparently I forgot to point my foot

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And the high barre for a good releve stretch!

And the high barre for a good releve stretch!

For instructions, I searched “build your own ballet barre” and we mostly went off what I found at a blog called Leotards And The Buns In Them. If you’d like to make your own barre, you can find that here:

https://leotardsandthebunsinthem.wordpress.com/2011/09/29/build-a-barre/

I don’t recall him giving the exact measurements though. We used 4 1ft pieces for the legs (where we attached the feet), held together by a T connector. The T connectors are attached to a 2ft 9in section (on opposite sides of the barre), then to another T connector for the lower barre to come out of.  Between the low barre and the high barre we used a 6 in piece, which when added up to the extar length for the connectors gives about 8 in between top barre and high barre.  For the length of the barre we went with almost 5 ft, which seemed a good length to get to stretch on, while keeping the barre prtable. Like I mentioned earlier, it added up to 20 ft of PVC (2 10 ft pipes), and we used 6 elbow connectors and 4 T connectors.

If you’re feeling fancy and PVC alone just isn’t cutting it for you, I also found some instructions that include wood as well as PVC. It looks nice, but just too much effort (and probably cash, lol) 🙂

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Getting Reacquainted with Yoga, and Jogging

AKA Fitness Goals Update 2.5 (since I was going for this every-two-weeks thing and it’s only been a week – but it was a great excuse to wear these ridiculously awesome leggings!)

My introduction to yoga preceeds my introduction to ballet.  Unlike ballet though – and not counting the single class that my college friend Lina dragged me to back in 2001 (yikes! Now I feel ancient!) – I haven’t really had any training to speak of in yoga.  It was more like ‘hey, I’ve heard yoga is good for you’ and my friend Lindsey (same one from my Ballet, Hike, Eat, Repeat post), who had been doing yoga since she was 18 – she’s my age – was like “Oh, you’ve got to let me teach you some yoga!”  Since I had nothing better to do at that moment, I said “Sure!”  Oh, and this barely happened about 3 years ago – as opposed to my 1 year and 9 months of so of ballet.

So that’s the disclaimer, I haven’t actually taken a yoga class in the last 14 years (and the one I did take was at 6:30 a.m., an ungodly hour for a new-adult, so logically I hated it and never returned.  Was definitely not interested in health benefits back at that age! No, had to get slapped around a bit by my 20’s to decide to take care of myself.).

Anyway, my friend was training me, and she wasn’t exactly strict.  So there I am thinking ‘I can do yoga!’ not realizing that perhaps I was not doing it correctly (not my friend’s fault, I’m just naturally weak).And looking back now, I know for a fact I wasn’t doing it correctly – so many bent knees that needed straightening, so many tight muscles with low flexibility and reduced range of motion.  No wonder I was thinking that it was somewhat easy!

Up until I took my first ever ballet class, I continued sort of studying yoga, mostly with Lindsey and using the yoga program Wii Fit on the Nintendo Wii.  The first time I attempted any of the poses I was so stiff and back then I couldn’t touch even my toes.  I did feel some improvement, and increased flexibility so I was satisfied with my progress. Going into my first ballet class I remember thinking ‘No big deal, I’ve been doing yoga!’

Well, if you’ve ever done ballet, or been reading through my blog, you know that I was nowhere near prepared!

When I took my first ballet class ever it went horrible, but somewhere in there I fell in love with ballet.  It became my new obsession, and since I’d honestly never felt that way about yoga, I put yoga on the back burner.  Sure, I do some poses after I finish practicing at home as a cool down, but nothing serious.

This past week, I found myself youtube surfing and felt inspired to do a yoga session. Not as a cool down or to loosen up my stiff back before embarking on my day, but just, like, on it’s own merit.

It felt great! Sometimes all my body needs is a nice long all-body stretch. It was so relaxing, just holding the poses, remembering to breathe. To amuse myself, I was trying to transition between the poses in a dance-ish kind of way, making it smooth and flowing.   And it reminded me of the  apparent superficial (to the untrained eye) similarities between ballet and yoga.  I still remember for the first 6 month or so of doing ballet I thought that passe and the yoga pose with your foot resting on the standing leg’s thigh (possibly called Tree Pose?) were the same – though now I know they most certainly are not!

If I'm not mistaken, this is the Tree pose. Note the foot is flat against the standing leg, knee points down.

If I’m not mistaken, this is the Tree pose. Note the foot is flat against the standing leg, knee points down.

Passe. Foot is pointed, knee points (somewhat) out, rather than down.  How could I ever have thought it was the same thing?!

Passe. Foot is pointed, knee points (somewhat) out, rather than down. How could I ever have thought it was the same thing?!

So as part of my Getting Fit For Ballet Challenge I will probably be doing a longer session of yoga once or twice a week, as well as a few poses regularly as I have been doing for cool down.

According to Wii Fit, this is called the Dancer pose.

According to Wii Fit, this is called the Dancer pose.

Similar to Dancer pose - some kind of attitude derriere with arabesque arms.

Similar to Dancer pose – some kind of attitude derriere with arabesque arms.

In other (fitness) news, this past week I’ve jogged twice.  The first time was last thursday morning, interspersing some bouts of jogging with my uphill walking.  On the jogging parts I made sure to go on the (softer) asphalt rather than the sidewalk, both to not overstress my knees with the impact and because the uneveness of sidewalks at every driveway really irritates me (and my ankles).  With walking it’s ok, but with jogging – given the higher forces of impact – I didn’t want to take any chances.

Jogging exhausted me! My thighs were sore all the way until saturday (or was it sunday?), and I made copious use of the arnica massage oil I had made for my ankle.  I have so much newfound respect for people that jog or run!

Finally, today I decided that  enough time to rest and recover had passed and I jogged again.  This time I found this nice grassy – yet uphill – field near home in which to jog.  I only did one lap, but by the end I was gasping for breath and glad that no one was around to ask me if I was ok.  The whole jog took about 4 minutes – don’t laugh, last time I went jogging before last week was years and years ago. Let’s see how long it takes me to work my way up.  I’m thinking of increasing the number of laps I jog on a weekly basis, assuming of course that my recovery from the soreness keeps up.

As an added bonus, the field is adjacent to a park – I love parks – and I was thinking at the deserted hour of 7 a.m. I can totally practice my sautes there.  Or just jumping in general.  I really need to do something about my weak, crappy jumps.

One more picture, just for fun! The expression on the mask's face just keeps cracking me up, so much more calm that my ballet "game face", lol.

One more picture, just for fun! The expression on the mask’s face just keeps cracking me up, so much more calm that my ballet “game face”, lol.

Oh, and that blue X on the wall? The one that appears in all my pics? I use it for spotting when I practice my chaines.

Passe Releve!

Ok, I realize that this isn’t really a big deal. But due to me being so center of gravity-challenged, it’s a big deal to me. My learning curve has been so slow that any progress, however small, is encouraging because it allows me to see that I actually am making progress.

So anyway, I was messing around in front of my huge practice mirror (as in, I was not having an official practice session), just seeing how my port de bras and plies were looking, and then some releves. I’ve been practicing rising up in passe releve for almost a year now, but always holding on to a barre or the wall, whichever happens to be available. But I’d never been able to find my balance.

I didn’t expect to be able to balance today, either. But as I said, I was just messing around in front of the mirror. So I rose up, and actually was able to hold the pose for about a second or so! Not only that, I was able to come back down in a controlled manner.

I was giddy with excitement! So I grabbed my boyfriend and forced, um I mean persuaded, him to capture it on camera. Of course, attempting to do it a second time was not the same as the unexpected first time. But still, here is some photographic evidence, hopefully so I can look back on this moment in the future at a time when balancing in passe releve is no longer a big deal to me.

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Unfortunately, I seem to have forgotten my arms!

So then I tried to do it on the other foot (right leg as supporting leg), but predictably my left side is stronger.

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Please excuse the slightly messy living room, my nontraditional ballet attire, and my mismatched socks, LOL!