Feature: Ballet / Ballet - Adult Dancers

Get the Pointe DDN Ballet Interview #48, Adult Dancers Special Issue - Featuring Serendipity42 (karma: 2)
By smileywomanmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Sat Nov 23, 2013 11:29 AM
Edited by smileywoman (141214) on 2013-11-23 11:36:48 trying to remove gibberish codes from cut and paste
Edited by smileywoman (141214) on 2013-11-23 11:37:24 ..
Edited by smileywoman (141214) on 2013-11-23 11:38:26 *head desk*
Edited by webdeadmaster (251) on 2013-12-04 13:15:22 Changed "Topic Type" from "Forum" to "Feature" so this will be highlighted in the forum and show up on the features page
Edited by Sumayah (204191) on 2013-12-26 19:08:47 Fixed mark-up code

Get the Pointe: Special Issue #48 Adult Dancers, featuring Serendipity42
By Maria aka smileywoman

For this Special Adult Dancers Issue of Get the Pointe, I interviewed Serendipity42 ... an adult dancer, over 45 years old who has been dancing for about 34 years.

Q: What was the spark that keyed your interest in dance, and where (when) did you begin to study?
A: I read a book that I had picked it out for the science fiction aspect of it. The sibling of the main character in the book danced. It was so inspiring that I wanted to study dance myself.

Q: Were you a "natural"?
A: I think I might have been. Certainly I moved up the ranks very quickly. I was a late starter at age 12/13. I worked for a year on my own until we moved to a new town and I could start at one of the local studios. I was in one 'competition' studio for a year, then moved to a classical ballet school. Within two years I was en pointe and had auditioned for, and been accepted to, some summer programs.

Q: Have you danced all along? Or did you start/stop/re...start like many of us adult dancers?
A: When I was in my mid...20s, I broke my back in a cycling accident. That stopped me for quite a while. I was lucky in that I had a professor at college (again, a late starter at university, studying education and performing arts) who was a kinesiologist. She sent me to her doctor and worked with me on Independent Study to bring me back to being able to walk and dance. I was never as good as I was then, however, and won't ever be. Things hurt too much now!

Q: Has ballet continued to be a lifelong passion?
A: Yes. I really never stopped taking class, even when I was well overweight. I would at times be happy with just the once a week class. Now I'm kind of obsessed although that's waning now that some of my goals have been achieved.

Q: What motivates you at 8 a.m. on a Monday morning?
A: Not a whole heck of a lot! I hate mornings. Big time! I get up because I have to, not because I want to.

Q: What is your daily routine?
A: In term time, I'm a school teacher. Breakfast, work, gym workout, dance class, home, shower and bed. Not a lot of variation in that. This summer I took an all day intensive; mostly dropped into bed after that!

Q: What's in your dance bag? Can we see it?
A: LOL! I carry just about everything except the kitchen sink (and if I could fit that, I would!).
Image hotlink - 'http://i15.photobucket.com/albums/a376/smileywoman/SerendiptyDanceBagsT.jpg'

The dark bag contains: legwarmers, shrug, ankle warmers, theraband, knee brace, ankle brace, different levels of hardness of tennis...type balls for massage, foot roller, nail clipper, massage stick, deodorant, Starburst chews, and a water bottle.

The second bag (the colorful one) contains all the pointe shoe stuff, including baby powder, toe pads and Traumeel cream, as well as the pointe shoes themselves.

Q: Ballet is a never ending quest for perfection. What parts of your technique are you most satisfied? What parts are you least satisfied, and how do you work on your technique to improve?
A: I feel I have a sort of musicality. I can DANCE through exercises if I am confident in the combination. I need help with alignment, it was sorely neglected all year in my major class. I think once I have that, and it's coming, thanks to some gifted and caring teachers that I have, I should feel more confident in balances, turns and en pointe. I also NOW have trouble remembering to pull in the stomach and tighten the ribs. I put it down to being old.

Q: Do you work out in a gym? Or have other forms of exercise/conditioning besides ballet?
A: I do. All my workouts are geared toward enhancing my muscles and form for ballet. I use weights for upper AND lower body, for example, and do elliptical or some other aerobic to help with stamina.

Q: How do you prepare your pointe shoes?
A: I don't do much beyond sewing on ribbons and elastics. Elastic is a new thing for me, we weren't allowed to have them when I was a kid. I use a shoe rougher to do the platform of the box so that it's slightly less slippery. When a shoe's been used a few times, I spray shellac to try to keep it hardened. It's difficult, I was doing so much pointe each week that I was going through pointe shoes in two weeks. But now that I have this routine with the shellac, it's less costly. And recently, I've gone back to Gaynors and they're working well enough. With fewer pointe hours this year, I won't need as many shoes.

Q: Do you have a 'signature step'? One that comes naturally to you?
A: Not really. There are some I enjoy sissones, for example, but nothing really comes naturally to me anymore.

Q: Do you dance any other style other than ballet? If so, how does the other dance discipline influence your ballet dancing? (Please elaborate on type, differences, why you do? )
A: I started taking modern, but had to drop that due to what it did to my back. I'm lucky that at one school I go to they allow me to take whatever classes I want. Right now, though, it's just ballet.

Q: When did you go onstage for the first time? Can you tell us about it?
A: For the VERY first time? LOL! I went on stage when I was three. My parents, well, my mother at least, was very theatre/dance/music...minded. They named us kids so that if we decided to go on the stage, we could drop our last name and use the middle one as a stage name. I've danced so long that I can't really remember a lot. For about seven years, I did stage work overseas as a hobby, dancing in shows rather than ballets. I loved every minute of it!

Q: What roles have you danced and what are your favorite roles? Why?
A: I've done Silver Fairy, but only as an audition piece. It's really my favorite although now I would be hard pressed to get through it at speed. I've learned a few others from Sleeping Beauty and Don Quixote. I also learned Sugar Plum Fairy. I must admit I've never danced properly in a ballet on stage apart from Nutcracker. In that one, I was only in the party scene as a parent. Recently, I learned the variation from Raymonda and I think that's now my favorite. This year, I'm dancing with the kids in Nutcracker, en pointe. Scary. And doing an original piece, as well. Also scary. LOL!

Q: Was there a role that you danced or will dance this year that you are looking forward to doing?
A: I freaked out at the role I had, just a small recital piece. But my friends and family in the audience said I looked okay. I'm happy that I didn't break a bone, although I did wobble a bit (it was a pointe piece). I won't know if I'll do any more after this year's little performance. I get stage fright and forget stuff easily now.

Q: What thoughts or feelings do you have when you perform?
A: Fright if it's a piece on pointe. If it's in a stage show, just sheer enjoyment.

Q: What does your warm...up consist of before a performance? Other preparations?
A: I do a full barre wherever I am. I also do abs and stretching. I would say I do a concentrated 20...30 minutes of warm...up. Even when I was just a dancer in a stage show, I would do that level of warmup.

Q: Is performing different as an adult than when you were younger? Explain.
A: I had no fear as a youngster - that I remember. Now I do. We are just more conscious of what others might think, in my opinion, than we were when we were little. And also, I think we are conscious more of injury. The stage I danced on this summer was so slippery it was scary - even with rosin and Gaynors (which grip a bit better as a pointe shoe).

Q: Do you do pas de deux? If so, what do you like in a partner?
A: I wish! I only get to do that at the Adult Dance Camp. I like a partner who knows what he's doing - because I sure as heck DON'T!

Q: Can you remember a funny story, blunder, something that happened to you in the middle of a performance that you'd like to share with our readers?
A: From the last recital I did - 2009 (? ) - I had to pop up fast from a kneeling position. My costume skirt got caught under my knee and got pulled down, pulling down the top bit. All I can say is that I'm so relieved I had a bodice on underneath the costume!

A bad blunder...ish happened when I was doing a musical overseas. An idiot left a stage weight right in the pass...through, where we had to make a mad dash from one side of the stage to the other. I broke a toe on it the first night of the show and had to dance the rest of the run on a broken toe! It was painful, very painful!

Q: Most dance pieces are with other dancers. Have you done solos, and if so do you have to change your technique when you are on stage alone?
A: I've not done official solos but I have the mind...set that most people won't know if I've made a mistake or forgotten something in a solo, so just smile and carry on and make it up until I can get back on track. Mind, that's only in a solo! LOL!

Q: What kind of dance do you respond to most strongly now?
A: Hard to say. Right now I'm in transition. I like modern ballets. I'd started to learn choreography in my summer morning classes, that was amazing - very modern and en pointe, by a teacher who is designing the choreography to fit the abilities of the people in the class. I loved it - even though it wasn't classical.

Q: How do you think ballet (uniquely) communicates as an art?
A: I think it's a romantic art. If one wants to build romance, ballet would be a great medium for it.

Q: What professional dancer would you most like to dance with (why? ) and what would you dance?
A: Mikhail Baryshnikov!!!!! I shouldn't have to say why. Been a fan of his for years!

Q: If you could dance anywhere in the world (not only in a theatre), where would you dance?
A: Russia. I saw 'Children of Theatre Street' when I was girl and always wanted to study in Russia.


Q: Who inspired you to dance?
A: No one in particular. My mother HAD danced in her younger years and could tell me how to do things but she wasn't particularly involved when I started formal training.

Q: Who are the three people in dance that have inspired you most?
A: Marie Taglioni (her father's comment about footfalls - the person below their apartment would never hear her feet!); Margot Fonteyn - Simply a woman dancing; I can't say there's one particular third person - just some amazing teachers over the past few years.

Q: What has been the high point of your 'career' as a dancer, so far?
A: I haven't had a high point, I must say. I'd say in terms of studying and improving, I'm in the middle of the high point of my 'career' as a dancer. Dancing every day, and just living out my dream while I still have a body that can do it - to a point, that is!

Q: What is your best piece of advice?
A: Take care of your body - especially if you are an older dancer. If it hurts - a bad hurt (not normal soreness) - then don't do it. And don't let yourself get pressured into doing something you know will hurt you or you know is incorrect. And do try things - even if you only do part of it. If you don't try, you will never get better.

Q: Can you tell me about any challenges that you have faced as an older dancer and what you have done to overcome them?
A: I broke my ankle a few years ago and must say that that was harder to deal with than when I broke my back in my mid...20s. Fear is the hardest challenge to overcome, though - fear of hurting myself. I was told by the parent of a fellow student who saw me dancing that she could see I was afraid because I was holding back, not dancing full out. She was SO right! I want to do as much as my body will let me.

Q: What is your feeling/thinking about your future as an adult ballet dancer? (Goals? Retiring? etc.)
A: I'm not sure how things will go this year. The summer had been a boon for my technique. At first, I thought I'd give up a few days-worth of classes, but now, schedule permitting, I may want to continue to train, especially now that I've found several welcoming studios, a few of which are allowing me into any class I want.

Q: How do you see the future of the world of dance?
A: I see it growing and growing - with more technical feats -and I think it's a shame, really. Ballet is not gymnastics. Beauty shouldn't be sacrificed for high legs, supple backs or complicated steps.

Q: Are there changes you would like to make or that you see happening?
A: Well, for selfish reasons, I'd like to see legs lowered back to the shoulder height - and more beauty put in. Those high, at the ear extensions are pretty ugly, in my view. Fokine had it right that the dancers need to tell the story, not that the story should be sacrificed to show off the dancers.

Fokine had it right that the dancers need to tell the story, not that the story should be sacrificed to show off the dancers.

Smileywoman agrees wholeheartedly. Some of the artistry has been replaced by stunts.

Q: What advice do you have for younger dancers?
A: Same as for older dancers ... take care of your body. Don't overdo things to the point where you will not be able to dance ever again. Take corrections as a sign that the teacher cares, no matter how the correction is given. Being ignored in class is far, FAR worse than being singled out for corrections!

Q: If you were asked to design your own ballet costume, what would you create?
A: I kind of like the flow...y ones - not tutus, but filmy, flow...y dress...type costumes.

Q: You can ask six famous people to dinner ... who would you invite and why?
A: Mikhail Baryshnikov, Julie Kent, Jacques D'Amboise, that's all I can think of from the ballet world, I'm afraid. The rest aren't around anymore.

Q: What would surprise people about you?
A: That I dance at my age and size, and that sometimes I even do it pretty well!

Q: How do you feel about being interviewed for this special issue of Get the Pointe?
A: I appreciate the opportunity. I do my best and hope that others will do theirs at whatever they choose. Thank you!

Smileywoman thinks Serendipity is a TRUE inspiration to dancers of all ages to just keep dancing. :D

2 Replies to Get the Pointe DDN Ballet Interview #48, Adult Dancers Special Issue - Featuring Serendipity42

re: Get the Pointe DDN Ballet Interview #48, Adult Dancers Special Issue - Featuring Serendipity42
By smileywomanmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Sat Nov 23, 2013 11:54 AM
This interview is inspirational for all of us dancers (regardless of age) to keep dancing.

Just a NOTE that cut and paste sometimes inserts weird symbols throughout, so I need to do a global search and replace of hyphens which I converted to ... SO if you come across a weird break in the interview, it's my cut-and-paste-human fault. :P
re: Get the Pointe DDN Ballet Interview #48, Adult Dancers Special Issue - Featuring Serendipity42
By Dancerat50member has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Thu Dec 26, 2013 02:13 PM
I love reading your interviews and getting to know the other "older" DDNers. Thank you Serendipity for sharing with us. I wish everyone a happy new year!


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