Final Ballet Basics for Spring: 7 April 2017

Hello Spartan dancers,

Bad news, I’m afraid – because of the low participation rate for Ballet Basics in March, our class is being canceled after this Friday’s session. I’ll continue to post updates to this blog, and we will hopefully have another class next fall. Additionally, many of the other class options will continue to be available through the MSU Group Exercise Program until the end of the semester.

In case I don’t see you, I wish you all the best of luck with your final exams, and a wonderful summer!



Class Questions: January & February 2017

Hello Spartan dancers! I wanted to follow up on some questions that I’ve received since the semester started…

Q: What music have we been listening to in class?

I work with a lot of CDs for class music, but the two most common ones are Reimagined for Ballet: Classical Edition by Andrew Holdsworth and Ballet Class Music, Volume 3: Advanced by Elena Baliakhova. Both are available for purchase online.

Q: Are there any big differences between full-soled ballet slippers, and split-soled ones?

Not in my experience. Most canvas ballet slippers made for adults are split-soled (wherein leather pads are placed just under the toes and the heel of the foot). All-leather slippers tend to be full-soled.


I use both regularly and have never really noticed a difference in performance or comfort, though all-leather slippers do tend to last longer than the canvas variety.

Q: Are satin ballet slippers OK to wear?

So long as they are actually ballet slippers (with the leather sole) and not a fashionable shoe meant to look like ballet slippers. Satin ballet slippers meant for dancing will have a soft leather sole (no heels or rigid shanks). They usually have ribbons, and sometimes will have both elastics and ribbons (though you may have to sew these on yourself).


These types of shoes are more common outside of the United States, though I have occasionally seen them in stores and catalogues in the U.S. as well.

Q: What about pointe shoes?

It takes years of continuous practice and exercise to become strong enough for pointe work. Though I have known adults who have progressed in their training to start on pointe, it’s very, very rare. So unless you are planning to spend more than 20 hours a week in dance classes and training along with additional exercise to strengthen the ankles and feet, I’m afraid that pointe is likely a no-go.

Q: What resources do you recommend for ballet practice at home?

You can do barre exercises at home using a sturdy chair to help support you (for many years, I used a heavy kitchen chair as my “barre”). There are a number of barre videos out there, from the New York City Ballet’s barre workouts to livestreams posted by various ballet companies and schools. One of my go-to YouTube channels is hosted by popular ballet vlogger and NYC Ballet soloist Kathryn Morgan, who has a ton of videos ranging from stretching tips and barre workouts to make-up and hair advice. Her videos are informative and a lot of fun, so check that out. J

If you are working out at home, just make sure to follow the same rules that we observe in the studio:

  • stretch fully and completely before beginning barre
  • work from slow to quick tempos to make sure that your muscles are well-warmed before extending your technical practice
  • allow yourself a cool-down period after practicing
  • listen to your body! Make sure to stay well-hydrated and not to over-exert yourself to avoid potential injury

Q: Are there other types of exercise that can help me get better at ballet?

Cross-training is a great way to stay fit between classes and improve coordination and strength outside of ballet. Yoga, Pilates, swimming and jogging/running are all great ways to stay in shape when it’s time to return to the barre. In addition to my own ballet practice, I take water fitness and yoga classes to keep in shape. MSU offers a host of different classes and forms as part of the Group Exercise program, so definitely check out their calendar for more fitness options!

Please keep the questions coming – I will do my best to answer all of them! Until next Friday’s class, have a great weekend!


Intermediate Ballet CANCELLED for 10/26/2016!

Hello Spartan dancers!

Some bad news, I’m afraid – I managed to pull a series of muscles in my lower back this weekend. I’ve been to the doctor and am on the mend, but not allowed to dance for at least a week while things heal. As such, the Intermediate Ballet class for this evening at IM Circle has been cancelled.  😦

Ballet Basics will continue this Friday with Scott (12:30 PM at IM East).

I hope to be back on my toes by next week, and to see everyone again in Intermediate next Wednesday! My sincere apologies for this inconvenience.

All best,


Ballet Basics: First Class Review

Welcome back, Spartan dancers! It was great to see so many new faces in today’s Ballet Basics class at IM East.

Each of the fundamentals that we explored in class today has its own blog post, which I encourage all new dancers to read as a way to get to know these techniques:

Additionally, we introduced these core ballet elements:

Plié: to bend; a dip at the knees

  • Demi-plié: bending half-way at the knees – careful not to allow heels to come off the floor in P2!
  • Grand-plié: full bend at the knees – careful not to sit on your heels!

Relevé: “to rise” – lift oneself on one’s toes (the demi-pointe)

Battement: “to beat/strike” – to extend the leg out from the body, either with feet on the floor or in the air

  • Battement tendu: extension of the leg with the pointed foot kept on the floor
  • Battement tendu avec piqué: extension of the leg with quick tapping of the pointed foot on the floor (“pricking” the floor); often just shortened to piqué
  • Battement tendu dégagé: extension of the working leg with pointed foot leaving the floor up to 45°.
  • Grand Battement: “big strike” – extension of the leg with pointed foot starting on the floor, moving through a tendu dégagé to a rise of at least 90° (parallel with the floor), and sometimes as high as 130°

Each of these movements will be explored further in future Technique Spotlights, so stay tuned!

See you next Friday!