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Have You Ever Forgotten Your Steps Onstage!?

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By turnedoutpointeofview on Friday, August 30, 2019

Yup. Yes, I have. Luckily, this doesn’t occur often, but we are human, like everyone else. For me, I fell victim to exhaustion, and my brain lost focus, for less than a second, but still leaving me in a state of panic. I forgot my steps while I was performing in Christopher Wheeldon’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Side note- This ballet is absolutely fantastic!). The company did 21 shows in 3 weeks! No small feat. It’s a huge, magical production.

‘Alice i Eventyrland’ ballet på det Kongelige Teater. Portræt af Holly Dorger, 27 år, der danser Alice i balletten.

I was very fortunate to have been cast as the role of Alice and as the role of the Queen of Hearts. It was amazing to play such different characters. It also came along with a big responsibility.

The character of Alice is on stage for almost the entire ballet. She is only off stage for one quick costume change. She has many steps. SO MANY steps! The Queen of Hearts is often on stage at the same time as Alice. It was crucial to remember who I was playing everyday. I constantly switched back and forth. Everyday before the show, I would go through the scenes that the characters shared as the character, I was on that day.

Usually, if you dance as Alice then the next day you have off. For me, due to scheduling, I did four shows as Alice or the Queen, twice in a row! The first time I had four in a row, I alternated each show between the characters. The second time I did four in a row, they were the final four shows of the run. I played Alice for three of them and then switched to Queen for the very last show. In that last show, while I was dancing the Queen’s variation, is where I had my blank out.

It was minor. If you didn’t know her correct steps you wouldn’t have seen it. Luckily, I was dancing by myself, so a ripple effect wasn’t created for any of the other dancers. I knew right away that something was off. I did a step that didn’t feel quite right or normal. Thank goodness dancers have such good muscle memory. A tool that we use everyday. Before my brain knew something was off my body did. My body kept dancing through. Once my brain caught up, I remember feeling a moment of panic, and then a realization of, “Well, I’m still going.” The song that Dori sings from, Finding Nemo, would be a great theme song for anyone who suffers from a black out. “Just keep swimming… Just keep dancing…”.

When I got back into the wings, I was fully aware that I definitely needed to catch up on some sleep. My brain was tired from constantly switching and trying to stay on top of such a big, and complicated ballet for two characters ( I was also rehearsing up to 6 hours for our upcoming production of Cinderella as Cinderella and the step sister. Again switching between two characters.). To say my head was fully loaded would have been an understatement. As busy as I was, I loved every second of it!
xoxo
-Hol

Do We Get Help Changing Costumes During A Show?

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By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Monday, August 26, 2019

Photo: Kasper Nybo

In fact, we do! And thank goodness! We have the most lovely colleagues that specifically help us with our costumes during a show and full costume rehearsals. We call them, Dressers. There are two dressers for every floor of dressing rooms. Approximately 12 dressers are in the house on a performance night.

Help backstage. Water and a pat down. Photo: Kasper Nybo

If you are the lead female and male dancer of the evening, you have your very own dresser. They help you with any costume changes, or anything that you could possible need throughout the night. It’s like having a guardian angel, helping you bring your best to the stage. They even bring you a glass of water in the wings. Which is totally going above and beyond their job but very much appreciated.

A dresser arrives to the theater around 6:30pm/7pm. They check the casting for the night and then put everyone’s costume in to their personal dressing room, including hair pieces and accessories. Then, they sit in the hallway waiting patiently for us to come out of our rooms to help us get dressed. All strings must be tucked away and all accessories on before we head down to the stage.

Swan Lake Hair Pieces

The dressers stay for the entire performance. Sometimes they are needed during the show for quick costume changes. For example, during Alice In Wonderland many people were playing several different characters in one show which required quick changes. In this scenario, the dressers are back stage with us. Otherwise, they sit by our dressing rooms waiting for us to come up from the stage and to help us get out of our costumes.

Swan Lake Costumes Ready for the Evenings Show

It is a complete luxury to have such lovely colleagues helping us getting dressed and undressed. They deserve a huge round of applause for all that they do for us behind the scenes.

xoxo
-Hol

What Does A “Normal” Work Day Look Like For A Dancer? Performance & Non-Performance Days.

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By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Friday, August 23, 2019

Checking out the days schedule.
Thank you for the Question Lina!

A normal day for a dancer would begin by getting to the theater between 9:00 am – 9:50am. Some dancers like to start their day with Pilates, so they arrive in time to get a workout in before ballet class. Others may have a physio appointment and get to the theater around 9:15am or so. Or like me, possible go for a run around Kongens Have before ballet class, arriving at the theater at 9:40am. Of course there is also a group of dancers that sleep until they have to get up and be in class at 10am.

Basically, our day technically doesn’t start until 10am for ballet class but most are up and moving before 10am. We work a six day work week too. (Monday through Saturday)

A Non- Performance Day looks like this.

Ballet Training Class: 10am- 11:30am

Ten Minute Break (grab a snack time)

First Rehearsal Period: 11:40am- 1:30pm

Lunch Break: 1:30pm-2:15pm

Second Rehearsal Period: 2:15pm-4pm

Napoli Second Act Rehearsal with dancers Ryan Tomash & Holly Dorger. Instructor, Sorella Englund.

The theater can call dancers for what we call an, Evening Call. An evening call is for one or two hours and you get paid extra for these rehearsals.

Extra Evening Call: 4:15pm-6:15pm

It is not uncommon to find dancers stretching in the gym, or boys doing a weight training session, or a dancer fitting in some extra cardio at the end of the their day. Either at 4pm or 6:15pm. There is also always someone with their feet in an ice bucket getting rid of the inflammation from the days work.

Torture and yet Divine.

A Performance Day looks like this:

Ballet Training: 10am-11:25am

Five Minute Break

First Rehearsal Period: 11:30am- 12:30pm

Lunch Break: 12:30pm-1:05pm

Second Rehearsal Period: 1:05pm-3:00pm

Stretching with fellow Principal dancer, Jonathan Chmelensky

Can be called for an Evening Call from 3:15pm-5:15pm

Start Preparation for a Show: (Makeup, Hair & Warmup ) Approximately 6pm
Some dancers start earlier and some start later. Depends on their personal routine or role in the evenings performance. I would say on average the dancers arrive between 6pm- 6:30pm to prepare for a 8pm show.

Right Before a La Sylphide Performance

Show: 8pm-11pm

(Possibly ice an injury, ice-bucket, stretch, or put your feet up after a show.)

Evening Stretch

Late night snack.

Bed.

The girls also have to sew all their pointe shoes at some point during the work week (between 1-4 pairs depending on the dancer). You can always find a dancer sewing throughout the day somewhere in the theater. We sew during a slow rehearsal or even in our own lunch break. Sunday is also a big sewing day. (our only day off)

The dancers have access to two Physical Therapists that we can sign up for throughout the day for 30 minute slots. One masseuse is also available for 30 minute massages throughout the day too. 🙂 (YES!!)

A doctor comes once a week (Wednesdays) so injured dancers can be looked at or scanned. There is even a sauna for us to use at our own disposal.

Dancers are always doing something, pretty much. 🙂 We live busy, hardworking, but magical lives.

xoxo
-Hol

Do We Have To Pay For All Our Stage Makeup?

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By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Monday, August 19, 2019

Thank You for the Question Gitte!

Well…. a little yes and a little no. The Royal Danish Ballet is sponsored by MAC make-up. We receive a 20% discount if we buy their products. Some years we are even given a little goodie bag filled with foundation, eye-shadows, eyeliner and lipsticks! Although, we can’t depend on it. We can be lucky and receive a goodie bag one year but not necessarily the next.

I am a big fan of BareMineral makeup so I end up buying almost all of my stage makeup (and everyday makeup) with them. My primer, my foundation, my lotion, my under eye concealer, my lip liner and my eye pencils. Bareminerals feels healthier on my skin and it isn’t as thick as MAC foundation which I prefer. If the foundation is too heavy then you’ll sweat like crazy under those stage lights!

BareMinerals

I am happy to use the free eye-shadows from MAC that came in a goodie bag a few years back. I’m not that fussy over what type of eye shadow I use, just the color. They work great! Luckily, eye shadows last a long time. The only color that I sometimes need to re-stock is the white.

MAC

I am also happy to use the free lipsticks from MAC. Over the years I have collected quite a variety of colors.

About once or twice a year the theater will give all the girls a specific free lipstick so everyone has the same color for a certain production.

Examples of this would be:
Spar Dame we were given a purple lipstick specifically for the third act.
Alice In Wonderland the black cards were given a black lipstick.
The Golden Cockerel we were given a plum lipstick.

We once received a free pair of false eye lashes in one of the MAC goodie bags, but other than that, we buy our own false eye lashes as well. I go through about 7 or 8 pairs of those a year! If I go back to the states in the summer I’ll just buy a bunch at once. I can almost always stumble across a buy two get one free kind of deal. 🙂

Napoli Team: Jonathan Chmelensky, Sorella Englund, Ryan Tomash (as Golfo) & Holly Dorger. (Me)

The only big exception is if you are playing a character such as Golfo from Napoli, or any of the animals from the Alice In Wonderland race scene. In order to become those characters it requires a makeup artist. The theater pays for all of that makeup. This also includes the white body makeup we use when dancing Swan lake.

Photo: Costin Radu

Overall we mostly pay for the makeup ourselves. Some take advantage of the MAC discount more than others. We are always happy to receive little gifts from time to time. 🙂
xoxo
-Hol

Do You Really Feel The Effects Of Darning Your Pointe Shoes?

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By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Friday, August 16, 2019

To darn or not to darn, that is the question. I started darning my pointe shoes back in 2012. (I think) I never, ever darned my shoes while I was at school. I trained at the School of American Ballet in New York City where it is an extremely uncommon thing to do. It never even crossed my mind.

Once I was in Denmark for a few years, I became curious about one of our principal ballerina’s that always darned her shoes. I asked her all the questions that you are probably asking yourself right now.

Does it really help?
-Does it make your shoes last longer?
-Is it true that it can help your balance?
-How long does it really take?

Is it really worth the effort?

She swore by it for herself and told me to just try it out. I tried it and never stopped. Now, I hate wearing a pair of pointe shoes that haven’t been darned.

Here are my answers to the questions above. I hope it helps you!

Does it really help?
Yes! I can feel so much more in my shoe. The darning makes it so it is more difficult to roll over the front of my pointe shoes. Meaning, that I can now feel where the end of the platform is on my shoe when I stand on pointe. I can easily feel when to hold back or maintain my position.

Does it make your shoes last longer?
Yes! It eliminates the possibility of your shoes going soft at the tip/ top part of the shoe towards the vamp. TIP: I add HotStuff or JetGlue to the top part of my darning. The glue keeps the thread from falling down. See below.

HotStuff/ JetGlue

Is it true it can help your balance?
Yes! Because you can feel more in your shoes, it allows you to feel the entire platform that you are standing on. You will learn to know exactly where to balance.

How long does it really take?
If I am fully concentrated and I have all my supplies, I can do both shoes in 45 minutes. Realistically, I’m darning my shoes while I watch something on TV. 🙂 That easily adds an additional 15 minutes. I say, it takes 1 hour per pair of pointe shoes.

Would you really say it’s worth the effort?
Yes! I really like it. The best combination is soft and darned shoes, in my opinion. That is ballerina heaven for me. I wouldn’t make the darning too big even though it can be tempting. Stray away from “bigger is better.” If the darning becomes too large it can be very noticeable from stage and not the most elegant.

Confession: Sometimes, I wish that I had never started because it is a big, time consuming effort. It is very, very possible to dance wonderfully without it.

WARNING: Darning is like the Pringles saying, “Once you pop, the fun don’t stop.” Except it would go, “Once you darn, you just can’t stop.”

What is an Easy Ballerina Meal For Someone Who Doesn’t Cook?

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By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Monday, August 12, 2019


Amen! So feel ya here. I am not a good cook. It never interested me all that much to take the time and effort in to creating a meal. When I’m busy, I view food as simply… fuel. No time to master chef! That said, I LOVE being spoiled and having someone cook for me.

Here is a very simple, quick, and delicious recipe that I happen to eat a lot. It looks a lot like a poke bowl. The bowl consists of a cauliflower salad with pomegranates, avocado and salmon.

To make this dish (for one) you will need.

1 Cauliflower, 1 Pomegranate, 1 Avocado, 1 Package of Smoked Salmon, Olive Oil, Salt and Pepper.

The cauliflower salad recipe I learned from the mother of these two cute, future ballerinas, when they treated me to dinner at their lovely house. Thank you Marie Andersson!!

Let’s start!

Step. 1

Wash and cut your cauliflower into smaller chunks.

Step. 2

Place the cauliflower into a food chopper to cut it in to even smaller pieces. (Of course, you can chop it up yourself with a knife. A food chopper is great if you are like me and when you are hungry, you no longer have the patience to wait for your food.)

Step. 3

Place all the chopped cauliflower in to a large bowl.

Step. 4

Grab your pomegranate and cut it in half. (Fingers crossed it is a juicy, ruby red)

Step. 5

Beat your pomegranate with a spoon so all the seeds fall in to the large bowl with the chopped cauliflower.

Yumm!! Look at those red seeds! Go ahead and mix it all up.

Step. 6

Grab an avocado and peel it. Cut it in to slices and add the entire thing to your bowl.

Step. 7

Drizzle olive oil over the entire salad. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Step. 8

Open the salmon package and add as much as you’d like to your delicious, healthy bowl.

Step. 9

ENJOY!

What Do You Do 1 Hour Before A Show?

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By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Friday August 9th, 2019.

I usually get to the the theater around 6:15pm before an 8 o’clock show. The first hour is for changing into ballet warm-ups, turning on some country music, getting my hair organized and lastly, putting on my stage make-up.

Calming Tunes. Photo: Morning Projects

Once my makeup is done and my hair is all good, I’ll grab my dance bag and go upstairs to the studio to warm up, around 7:15pm. Still with my country radio playing in my ears. 😉 I love listening to country music before a show. Country singers tend to sing about the simple things in life that makes one happy. A cold beer. A date night with your love. Blue skies… Reminds me of non- stressful things which I appreciate at this hour. 😉 I’ll do a small barre including stretches for about 15 min. Then I’ll tape my feet and head down to stage. (Still in my warmups)

Photo: Sofie Mathiassen

I ALWAYS test my pointe shoes on the stage before a show. The dance floor on the stage feels different then in the studio. I want to be 100% certain that I feel good and confident in my pointe shoes. Pointe shoes can’t give you your technique but a good pair of shoes can definitely give you an extra boost of confidence to help you perform at your best. Getting the right pair of shoes just sets it all off on the right foot.

Usually, the theater has audience members on a tour of the theater about this time. I almost always get to wave and say hello to a few people. I think it is nice taking a break for a quick hello. Brings you out of your own head.

Photo: Susanne Grinder

After that, I go back upstairs to my dressing room, use the bathroom for that final nervous pee, put on my costume, add any extra jewels, earrings, head piece and look over my notes to give me those final thoughts especially, before playing a character. Then I head down to the stage to start the show with a water bottle in hand.

Photo: Tejs ‘Olm

Let the magic begin…
xoxo
-Hol

What Are Some Ballerina Diet/ Eating Tips?

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By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Monday, August 5, 2019
Thank you for the Question Mette.

Yea body image… It is a part of a ballerina’s life. I hate that it is, but the fact is, we have to be conscious of what our bodies look like. Our bodies are our tools. To be physically fit goes hand in hand with a balanced eating lifestyle. I’ve listened to so much advice on this subject and it can make you go crazy. Everyone has a theory. You end up just getting more confused than when you started. Once, I tried cutting all bread and ended up feeling extremely fainty in the studio. NOT WORTH IT. I’ve tried replacing a meal with one of those diet drinks. Oooh bad idea. I did not feel good.

My biggest tip is to tune in to yourself and be aware of how your body feels after you eat certain things. Food is so individual and your body is telling you what you need to know.

For me personally, a truly balanced diet is the way to go. Don’t deprive yourself of anything but be aware of your choices. (not including summer vacation 😉 )

I find that running is a huge benefit in my regime. I was always told that running built the wrong muscles and that ballerinas shouldn’t run. I haven’t found this to be true. Ballet alone isn’t enough for me to maintain the ballerina weight. Running helps me stay in check. There is also a balance to running because you don’t want to exhaust yourself. Some months I run a lot (June, July, August, September) but as the season’s performance schedule increases, I decrease my runs. In December, I don’t run. The Nutcracker marathon is enough exhaustion (When I go for a run, I run between 20-30 minutes. Nothing crazy.)

Here are a few Eating Tips that I keep myself aware of too.

Bread. Be a bit aware. I feel it right away in my body if I’ve eaten a lot of bread. Other carbs such as potatoes or pasta work much better for me. Something in bread makes me feel puffy. I do not eliminate it completely but rather only have it at one meal per day.

FISH! I love fish and my body feels great after eating fish. Salmon is a regular for me before a show. I truly recommend.

Sweets. For me, I don’t crave cakes and pies so much as gummies. Oooh gummies are my weak spot. Don’t cut out all goodies but be realistic, knowing that you can’t eat a ton of sweets everyday and have an athletic ballerina body.

Popcorn. My go to snack in the evening is popcorn. If I want to nibble after dinner without feeling like I’m entering junk food land. Popcorn satisfies, especially if you are obsessed with Ranch like me and can add a Ranch Seasoning!

Bananas. Great energy snack. I have at least one everyday.

Eggs. I love starting the morning with eggs. (My trick. Use the water boiler to cook your eggs. Fill the kettle about half way with water and place two eggs inside. Wait for it to boil and click off, then set your timer for 8 minutes. BOOM! Two perfect soft boiled eggs. and no mess. )

Water. Never stop. Keep your system hydrated so it can work properly. I’m a fan of adding Emergen-C in my water bottle. I forget more days than not but I’m so happy for it when I remember.

No Wine. When I’m in season, I don’t feel like drinking all that much, but when I do I never reach for wine. Always hard alcohol or beer. My body reacts to wine by making me feel puffy and my body feels worse the next day as if the inflammation never calmed down after the show.

Never lose the joy of food or all of life’s events that involve food. First and foremost live.

xoxo
-Hol

What Are Pointe Shoes Made Out Of?

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Ballet

What Are Pointe Shoes Made Out Of?

Awww the beautiful, little slipper that ballerinas wear. Think again! Pointe shoes, from afar look silky, smooth, and light. Up close, knock on the box and many people would guess that they must have metal inside of them. Ouch!

The outisde of the pointe shoe is made from satin, making a feminine, ballerina look. The box, (where the ballerina stands on her toes) is made up of densely packed layers of fabric with cardboard or paper, and lots of glue. The shank, (the inside part of the shoe, running along the bottom part of the dancers foot vertically giving support) is typically made out of layers of cardboard. The shank can be custom ordered and replaced with leather (my personal favorite), plastic, cardstock or even layers of hardened burlap with glue. The sole of the shoe (the backside of the pointe shoe) is made out of a thin layer of leather.

Satin, cardboard, leather, and glue is all there is to make up the shoes that allow ballerinas to create that infamous illusion of whimsical beauty.
xoxo
-Hol

Do I Have To Be Able To Do a Million Pirouettes To Become A Professional?

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No! It’s true, we have all seen those videos of girls and boys doing many amazing, beautiful pirouettes. 6, 7, 8… Wow! If you can do all those turns that is amazing! Don’t stop turning. It must feel amazing.

In order to become a professional you should be able to do a clean double to the left and to the right. If you can do a triple on your good side, that is a bit of a plus. If you can’t do a triple yet. Keep working on it. It’s on its way.

Always try to finish your turns up. Don’t spin them to get around. Spot clearly.

Insider TIP: Keep the underside of your upper arm feeling lifted throughout the entire turn. Turns aren’t just leg power and balance. Your arms will help you, I promise.
xoxo
Hol