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How Does One Cope With Such An Early Retirement Age?

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By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Monday, November 11, 2019

Thank you for the Question Lina F.

At the Royal Danish Ballet, a dancer, regardless of rank has to retire when he or she turns 40 years old. Once you turn 40, you are allowed to finish that season which goes until June.

I think many of us don’t even think about our retirement if we are happy and inspired at work. Every year though, at the end of the season party, there are always speeches to those who have decided to either leave the company or to those that are retiring from the company. Those speeches always brings that looming question to the front of your mind.

To be completely honest, I don’t know. I don’t know how to cope with such an early retirement age. My brain can’t even comprehend the idea of not dancing and performing… ever. Let alone stopping in ten years, for me. (I turned 30 this past October)

Ulrik Birkkjær and I after a performance of Theme & Variations.

Some days you really feel the pressure. For instance, when a cast list goes up and maybe you didn’t get the role you hoped for… one of your first thoughts may be, will this ballet come back in time for me to have another shot at it!? Will I ever get to dance that role in my career?

These are very real questions. And all I can really say is that you have to put your faith in that everything happens for a reason. The management does have plans that you aren’t aware of. Trust the timing of your life. I do realize that that is much easier said than done.

At the same time, I would encourage any dancer to not just sit back and leave everything to the unknown. Reach out and try to get a few gigs or get involved in another project that interests you. Then, perhaps you can choose what pas de deux you dance and the stress of never getting to dance something can be calmed. It’s always worth a try!

The dancers that I have seen retire are at first usually grateful for a rest. It’s a hard career, on your body, on your mind, and on your soul. To step away from that pressure to be pretty much, “perfect” is welcomed.

I’ve seen a lot of wonderful ballerina’s become mothers at age 38, 39, and 40 years old. Maybe for society that is considered late but for a ballerina it’s the perfect timing. It’s so wonderful to see. Motherhood is a common route taken after retirement or just before retirement.

Gudrun Bojesen back from her retirement pictured as Karen Blixen.

Many dancers teach ballet either as a full time job or just until they figure out what exactly they want to do next. I would say most stay in the world of ballet. Some have gone on to become Pilates teachers, ballet teachers, gym/workout teachers, or ballet masters… Sometimes, the theater will offer a dancer to come back for a production or two as a character dancer. For example, right now in the wonderful ballet Blixen, by Gregory Dean, several retired, beloved dancers are back on stage performing with us. It’s so nice to have them and they are absolutely excelling!

Mads Blangstrup, a retired dancer, back in the current production of Blixen.

There are also those that step completely out of the business. Starting up coffee shops, renting out apartments, film director… The sky is the limit. It’s just tricky to figure out which path to take when all you’ve ever pretty much known is ballet.

Usually the dancers that decide to go back to school stop earlier then their retirement age. Although, of course, one could go back to school at the age of 40. No problem whatsoever. One is still quite young. But, it is common to see dancers around the age of 23-25, who have been a professional for a few years, to decide that they’d like to give school a go. Again around age 30 you might see another wave of dancers deciding to leave the company and go to school.

We don’t really talk that much about retirement. It isn’t until your dad or someone close to you asks “what is next?” Even now, for me, ten years away from retirement, I have no idea. I’ve had a few ideas running through the back of my brain but none of them are concrete. I would love to become an author. I’ve thought about becoming a grade-school teacher. I’m very interested in the film and Broadway world… maybe something there. ??? Time will tell.

The theater does have a fund where a dancer can send in an application describing what they want to try and see if it could be their next career. I don’t know that much about it because I’ve never sent anything in. I do know that you receive a certain amount of money to try something out either on the side of working as a dancer or you can request for some time off to discover more.

During a rehearsal of Etudes.

I think, for a dancers mind, the retirement has to be actually super close to start accepting the idea to start thinking about leaving our magical world. We all love it so much. Then, maybe, one would start to reach out to the previous generations that have already retired and have those conversations. It’s a thought that we push aside for years. Whether we should or not.

In many ways it feels like after 12 years of being a professional I’m only just starting to really figure a few things out. I don’t know if at 40 years old if I’ll feel like I actually did figure anything out or if I’ll feel like I never quite did figure anything out. That is why every picture is so meaningful. Every performance is such a victory! Every moment on stage with your partner, with the entire company is so touching. It’s all memories you never want to forget. You can’t take this career for granted. You never know when your last day will actually be. Injury or just life in general could always take it.

I guess I’ll be better equipt to answer this question in a few years time, when I’m closer to 40. In the meantime, retirement is kept in the way way way back of my mind.

With fellow Principal dancer, Jonathan Chmelensky after a Gala Performance.

Xoxo
-Hol

Which Of Your Performances Has Left A Lasting Mark On You?

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By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Saturday, November 9, 2019

Thank you so much for the question @rendezvous_at_midnight

There are actually three particular performances that come to mind. The first was the live stream filming of Alice In Wonderland in to the movie theaters all around Denmark. I don’t think I’ve ever danced better in my life. The second was my second show of Giselle with Jonathan Chmelensky. We had had a five day warning, and then two shows back to back. Our second show together was when we were the most tired but… something magical happened. There was something eternal in the air. We both danced our hearts out. But the most life changing performance, that most definitely left a lasting mark on me, was the night I was promoted to Principal Ballerina.

Performing Theme & Variations with Ulrik Birkkjær Photo: Brian Larsen

I was promoted to Principal Ballerina on stage after I danced George Balanchine’s, Theme and Variations with my partner Ulrik Birkkjær. The life changing day was February 27th, 2016.

We had learned the ballet a few months before the premiere. Then we moved on and started rehearsing our Dance To Go program which included the white swan pas de deux.

I remember it was a day that I wasn’t supposed to dance in the rehearsal. So I had just been sitting and watching the rehearsal. Then, last minute, the ballet master finished early and surprised me by asking me to run the white swan variation. I was young, ambitious, and wanted to please everyone, so when asked to do it, despite being cold, I said yes… That was when I hurt my ankle.

I rolled my ankle and I kept dancing on it. Oh, how I could hit myself if I could go back today to that moment! The coming days came and went and my ankle just kept getting weaker. I dropped out of Nutcracker all together. I stopped dancing to try and get as strong as possible for the premiere of Theme in January.

Ulrik Birkkjær and I dancing Theme & Variaitons. Photo: China Magazine

In first cast, I was dancing the demi- soloist role and then in second cast, I was dancing the lead. Doing the ballet back to back like that was very hard on my foot. The demi-soloist role was tougher on my foot then the principal. I talked to my ballet masters at that time in hopes of figuring out what to do with my load. I hoped that I could post pone my demi-soloist role until I was stronger to do the two parts back to back.

I also had the pressure of my entire family flying out to see me dance Theme. They had already bought their tickets. I didn’t want their dollars and time to be wasted.

At that time, the position I was in, I was not allowed to take the night off before doing a principal role. It was either, do both or do none. I.. was.. absolutely.. heart broken. I knew that if I did the demi-soloist role the first night then my foot would be screaming at me the next day. Some days, I struggled even walking after running the demi-soloist part. I wanted to perform the principal of Theme at my best! I didn’t want my family to see a half baked version. I dropped out.

When I was doubtful, I had been encouraged to drop out. Everyone stressed to me that I should want to look my best when I step out there for Theme. But I tell you now, if I could go back… I would have told myself to do it. The depression that followed that decision created a very dark world for me.This might sound dramatic, but in that moment in my life something died inside of me. I hurt so badly in my heart. I was angry that that had been my only option, that my family had wasted thousands of dollars to see nothing and that I didn’t even get to dance my dream role. I really can’t even describe how dark those days were for me.

The ballet company then had a two or three week vacation. My family was going to Italy. I canceled my entire trip with my family so I could do intense rehab in Copenhagen and make sure that I could get back and dance Theme. I worked everyday. Almost to the point of crazy. Every exercise, every treatment… whatever I could do, I did.

The run of Theme started again. I was ready. I had made it back. My mom flew back over from the USA to see my premiere. (ummm best mom ever) She knew that Theme meant more to me then even Swan Queen. Growing up I wanted to be a Balanchine ballerina! So this was it!

I remember being very nervous. I didn’t quite trust my body in the same way as before due to the injury and I hadn’t been on stage for months. No stage call. No dress rehearsal. Just go!

But I did it!

I did about five shows and then on my last show, Nikolaj Hubbe came out on to the stage after the bows and announced to the entire audience that he had decided to promote me to Principal Ballerina.

My Promotion!

Especially since it had been such a struggle to even get to perform Theme, my first emotion was gratitude. I was so happy. My smile was so big and so sincere. I was proud of my body, proud of beating the injury and all the obstacles that came in my way. I did a fist bump in to the air as if screaming, I did it!

My fist bump.

I really wasn’t sure if I was ever going to get to dance Theme, let alone get promoted. That show without a doubt left the most lasting mark on me and it always will.

xoxo
-Hol

Backstage with the boss, Nikolaj Hubbe after my Principal Promotion.

What Advice Would You Give Your Teenage Self?

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By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Monday, November 4, 2019

Thank you for the question, @misslilydoesballet

The teenage years… a tricky moment in anyone’s life. So much uncertainty. Ballerina dreamers have some pretty big decisions to make early on too, not making it any easier.

Should I stay at my local ballet school? Should I join a larger, more renowned school? Should I go to college? Where should I audition? Should I travel to audition? Overseas? If I don’t get a job, should I try the following year? Which company should I go too? Will I ever make it? Why didn’t I make it? Am I too big? Am i too thin? …etc.

It’s mind numbing to have so many thoughts and uncertainties. You will survive it. But you have to go through it, in order to get through it.

The advice I would give my teenage self is, to take one day at a time. There are too many questions without answers to become overly stressed and worried over. Just continue to do the best that you can, on everything that you are doing. From school grades, SAT tests, to your ballet. One step at a time.

Discover what makes you feel fit. You are more then just a number on a scale. By the way, don’t own a scale. It will only bring you down and play games with your head. Instead, learn to pay attention to what makes you feel good. Which foods fuel you better. Which foods don’t. You’ll learn a lot more about your body by paying attention to it, instead of wasting your time and energy trying everybody else’s method. The goal is always to be healthy. Keep it that way.

DO YOUR SINGLE LEG HEEL RAISES! IT WILL PREVENT YOU FROM SO MANY INJURIES!

Translucent setting powder is your best friend. Best makeup trick I’ve ever learned is to finish your makeup with a layer of setting powder. Oh, and use a good face cream at night. You’ll be happy you did when you turn thirty.

Stay curious about the ENTIRE dance world. Know more than the history of one ballet company. Explore the world’s ballet companies. Every company has different strengths. Aspire to adapt some of every companies strengths, in to your own dancing. It will be fun, you’ll learn a lot, and you’ll have so many more idols to look up too.

Maia Makhateli of The Dutch National Ballet.
Sofiane Sylv of the San Francisco Ballet.
Julie Kent of The American Ballet Theater.
Darci Bussell of the Royal Ballet.

Keep your dream ignited and never apologize for being ambitious. Yes, easier said then done. You will have days where you question your dream. We all did. Find that determination to not give up. Grit.

NEVER let your ambition turn your insides ugly due to jealousy. Stay above that. It, again wont be easy because you want your dream so badly. But, try your best to stay above it. It is really more for your own mental health then anything else. Don’t use your precious energy on something as useless as that.

Be kind. Be more then kind to your classmates. None of you know how things will end up in five years. The “favorite” may not even be dancing anymore. The under dog may be the up and coming star. Everyone is fighting their own battles, so always be kind and encouraging towards others.

People will make opinions about you. That’s a fact. You wont be able to change them, unless that person is willing to change them. More often than not, they won’t want to admit that they were wrong, so just keep livin’ as happily as you can.

Be polite. Overly polite. Use Mrs. and Mr. Open the door for others. Say please and always handwrite a thank you card when given a gift. Be classy.

Never stop befriending new people. Just because your “click” feels safe and you guys have guaranteed fun together, don’t miss out on the opportunity of meeting the many fascinating people in this world. Be brave and break the ice by introducing yourself. Meeting new people brings a balance in to your life that you’ll most likely be grateful for.

Own a pet if possible. There really is nothing better than coming home to an animal that loves you after a bad day or even a good day! There is so much love. Cuddles with them can brighten even the toughest days.

My baby, Blue.

Life will throw you corkscrews. Instead of getting angry, look that corkscrew right in the eye and take it as a challenge. Believe in your fate. You are meant to either beat this of have it beat you. Your attitude on challenges will set you apart.

Last but not least, everything happens for a reason. It will truly not feel like it sometimes. You’ll feel like you are walking alone in the dark. Keep the faith. Everything truly does happen for a reason. So, as you take each day, one day at a time, believe that you are being lead to exactly where you are meant to go. Eventually, when you look back… you’ll see.

xoxo
-Hol

What Is Your Pre-Performance Ritual!?

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By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Monday, October 21, 2019

Thank you for the question, rendezvous_at_midnight.

The first step to my pre-performance ritual is that I turn on a country radio! It will be playing in the background while I put on my makeup, warm up and get 100% ready for the show. I find that country music is very calming. Country has many songs about trucks, ice cold beer, a great Saturday night, love, fishing, being happy or just living a good life. Getting ready to perform in front of a thousand people or more can feel a bit stressful, so the idea of something “simple” comforts me.

Very young Me getting ready for La Sylphide.

The second step to my pre-performance ritual is that I ALWAYS put on my left pointe shoe before my right one. I do not know why… I cannot explain why… I don’t even know how it started? But when I sit down to put on my pointe shoes, the left shoe has to go on first. This is true for me at any point during the day when it comes to my shoes. Left before right.

Getting ready for Diamonds. Photo: Sofie Mathiassen
Getting ready for Napoli in China. Photo: Kasper Nybo

The only other ritual I have pre-performance, is that I always take the stairs down to get to the stage. My dressing room is currently on the 4th floor. I could take the elevator but the idea of getting stuck and then missing my performance is terrifying. I also kind of skip/bounce down the stairs, I take it as part of my warm up.

Those are the steps to my pre-performance ritual… I’m afraid that they aren’t that crazy or superstitious. Honestly, I find that the most important thing before any type of performance is your mind set. More then preparing anything a certain way, or in a certain order. If you are happy, satisfied, and inspired not even your nerves can get in your way. Healthy mind equals performance ready.

xoxo
-Hol

What Is the Best & Worst Part of Working For The KGL Teater?

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Thank you for the question, Frederikke_staghoej

Swan Queen Bow.

Let’s get the worst part out of the way. 😉 The worst part is that the KGL Teater is located 4,053 Miles or 6,523 Km away from my family. Copenhagen is really, really far away from “Home”. When I had my first show with the company… no one I knew was there. When I had my first solo… no family members were in the audience.. When I got promoted to soloist… no one was there… Even when I got promoted to Principal Dancer… not one family member was there…

My Promotion to Principal Dancer on Balanchine’s Theme & Variations.

I have gotten to share these experiences with many wonderful people, including fantastic audience’s but the fact remains that as much as my family wishes to be a part of my career, there is a distance because of the literal distance.

A Family Photo.

The people that sacrificed so much of their own lives in order for me to follow my dreams, without any sort of guarantee that anything would ever happen, missed all the glam. Not just my parents, but supportive friends throughout the years and even my ballet teachers that taught me what ballet is. None of it was shared directly with them, since becoming a professional.

Now, did I call my loved ones on the phone as soon as anything exciting and life changing happened? Yes! But isn’t there nothing quite like getting a hug from your own mother, while she whispers in your ear, I’m so proud of you, right in the moment? Or at the very least, that same evening. For them to be there, with you, sharing the atmosphere.

It doesn’t get easier over the years… you just get used to it. It is what it is.

Black Swan with Ulrik Birkkjær. Photo: Costin Radu

The Best part of working for the KGL Teater is the company, the Royal Danish Ballet. I am so fortunate to perform in absolutely drop dead gorgeous, customized costumes, on a big, historical stage, surrounded by around sixty other talented dancers whom are all dancing the most infamous ballet steps that have ever existed or the steps that will be the future’s most infamous ballet steps.

It takes a big theater, a large, financially supported company in order to be able to dance some of those biggest dream roles. The dream of Swan Queen in Swan Lake is to dance the entire thing. White and Black Swan. Beginning to end. To go through every emotional feeling til the very last step. For that, you need to be part of an exceptional organization that can create the production and have enough people to fill every role and enough money to pay everyone from the stage hands, to the light designers, to set designers, to costume designers, to ballet masters, to…. etc.

Swan Queen with Ulrik Birkkjær. Photo: Costin Radu

The Royal Danish Ballet was so fortunate to put on Christopher Wheeldon’s, Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland in 2016 & 2018. That production was expensive… millions of Kroners expensive. The Royal Danish Ballet shared the cost of the production with another well established ballet company, The Royal Swedish Ballet in order to be able to perform it. It was a sensational production. Absolutely mind blowing. So in my opinion worth every penny.

It’s the type of production that I wouldn’t even have access to if it wasn’t for the KGL Teater, and The Royal Danish Ballet. I have some of my best performance memories from this production. I will never forget the joy I felt performing as Alice.

3rd Act of Wheeldon’s production of Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland.

The KGL Teater has given me the stage for my dreams to come true. Thank you will never be enough to explain the gratitude I feel for such a special place. Even if it is really, really far away.

My Fist Pump after getting promoted to Principal Dancer.

xoxo,
-Hol

How To Not Feel “Too Big” To Do Ballet?

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By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Monday, October 7, 2019

Thank you for the question, Saralykkemadsen

This is a very honest and brave question. Quite frankly, it’s a question that almost all professional and non-professional dancers ask themselves.

There is a lot of pressure on ballet dancers to be thin. You want to feel light to your partner, you want to be proud of how you look in that unitard.

Our “habitat” doesn’t exactly help the situation. Being surrounded by mirrors for hours a day, keeps that pressing question in the front of our minds, Am I too big for ballet?

Firstly, I want you and all aspiring to be ballerinas out there to know, that you are not alone. Even if your friends don’t admit it, they all feel the pressure and have the same worry.

I remember when I was in my teens thinking, “If only I was thinner, then I wouldn’t even have to think about my weight. How nice that must feel to come in to work and just dance without that worry.”

Secondly, I want all you beautiful, young people to know that being a teenager is tricky. Your body really is going through changes and it will take some time for you to figure it out. And that is ok.

Listen to your body. It is giving you hints of what it needs. Everyone will have advice. EVERYONE. You will have to filter that advice, which is the trickiest part, especially because you are still young and finding your way. But the more you believe in that gut feeling you have, the more you pay attention to yourself, you will find your confidence in yourself which will pour out of you and this question will no longer exist. You’ll learn how to love yourself.

I was always told that running was bad for me, so I never did it. I wish I hadn’t listened. I love to run and it makes me feel fit. I feel, I need the cardio to stay at a ballerina weight. If I had discovered that in my teens, maybe I could have erased so many of those depressing thoughts of feeling too big.

Running 5K in Kongens Have.

Thirdly, the goal is to be healthy. Try not to get obsessed with a number or a goal weight. I would recommend to stay away from a scale. The goal should be to be a strong, satisfied, healthy and happy human being.

Educate yourself about what types of food fuels the body and what types are purely empty calories. You can learn a lot on a google search on the internet or even on Netflix’s, there are many ways to learn more about your body that is fun! Then, be smart about your choices but without being impossibly strict.

Discover ways to be excited about eating healthy. Maybe that means finding fun recipes. Experiment with smoothies. Pick up a vegetable from the store that you’ve never cooked before and spend the evening figuring out how to add it to your dinner. I find that when I eat healthy, I already feel better about how my body looks because I know I am giving it the nutrients that it really needs.

If you feel happy, and proud of who you are and what you look like, this fear of being too big for ballet will disappear.

Keep reaching for your dreams! Photo: Jan Christensen

Personally, I needed to find an extra form of exercise that made me feel fit. My answer is Running. Some people enjoy biking more (biking always gave me a heavy feeling in my thighs) some enjoy the elliptical (great invention!) some prefer the rowing machine (impressive!) swimming (oooh I love to swim) and some would rather do hot yoga. It’s completely individual.

It also helps to find a second passion. Maybe you also enjoy to sing. Or you love to write stories… read, hike, cook…whatever it is, it is always a good idea to have a more rounded life. When ballet becomes your entire identity, you put yourself in a very vulnerable position. What happens when you get injured? Or when your dreams weren’t quite what you thought?

It’s never fun to feel like you are falling apart. By keeping a life full of curiosity for many things, you will give yourself the biggest gift.

So, how to not feel too big for ballet… learn to love yourself. Be realistic, and honest but use it to encourage yourself to become the best version of yourself.

By having this question, this thought, it just shows that you care. That you are dreaming to be a ballet dancer and that is amazing! Never lose this. You are going through a natural phase of becoming a ballerina. You are figuring out how to be proud of your hard working body. Never stop dreaming.

Photo: Signe Roderik

xoxo
-Hol

How To Make Corrections Work For You!

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By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Monday, September 30, 2019

Corrections! Ahhhhh! There are days where you long to hear even just one and other days you wish they would stop telling you all your corrections.

When I was quite young, taking ballet class, I couldn’t handle being corrected. I didn’t understand that corrections are given to help you improve. I only thought of them as failure. I was disappointing my teacher. I wasn’t good enough.

Corrections are for your benefit. 100%. Don’t be like silly, little me crying because my foot wasn’t pointed enough. I wasted a lot of time being very hard on myself. I encourage you, if you feel like this, to find your inner grit and be confident. Everyone wants the best for you.

When corrections are given, whether they are to you or to someone else in the class, always listen. Knowledge is power. Maybe you did the step correctly that time but one day, possibly, it will stop working for you and having a bigger knowledge to tap in to will only help you.

My Notebooks.

My biggest TIP to make sure that corrections really make a difference for you, is to use a notebook. At the end of the day write down all the corrections you remember. Take the time to go back through the class in your head, remembering what was said. Your brain has to recall what you were just told. This can be easier said then done. It’s normal to hear your corrections in class and then walk away and not remember them or not remember them until you are doing the step wrong again. Write. Force your brain to stay on top of your ballet technique.

You can scribble! You are the only person who needs to understand what it says. Spelling goes out the window. This is just about getting as many thoughts down as possible.

My corrections from when I played Alice in December 2018.

If you are playing a character in a ballet, I would also encourage you to write down all the emotions the character goes through. Write down lines as if you could speak. What would your character be saying in those moments on stage if they could.

Notes for the Queen of Hearts.

Read your notes over and over and over again. Before you go to class, before you go on stage, before a rehearsal, before you go to bed, whenever you can. The more you think about it, the more automatic the corrections will be and the thoughts will become a part of you.

Before I entered the stage as Odette in Swan Lake, I had my notebook in the wings with me so I could read my thoughts helping me be completely in the moment. To be Odette. Feel as she feels.

Me pictured as Odette with Jonathan Chmelensky.

If you are thinking, “Ok Holly, sure, but I can only think about so many things at once and sometimes I need my entire focus just to pick up the combination.” I get it! I totally get it. Been there. Some days you’ll be better then others. Some days really are just class, warm-up and go kind of days. 😉

If you are feeling overwhelmed by trying to remember everything then narrow it down to only one or two corrections and try to apply them to every combination. Then the next day, try two different ones. Preferably without losing the corrections you worked on yesterday.

If you want to improve at the fastest rate possible buy a notebook and start writing. Make your thoughts support your movements.

Notebook. It’s a secret weapon. I swear by it.

xoxo
-Hol

What Toe Pads Do You Use?

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My feet after an Etudes Rehearsal

Ouch, ouch, ouch! Pointe shoes can most defiantly hurt your toes. Once you feel toe pain in a rehearsal, it’s all you can think about. You can’t escape the pain until the “boots” come off.

It does get better as you get used to it. Your feet form callus’s and your nails start to be, “ok” with the pressure. You slowly build up stamina to make it through a 4, 6 or even 8 hour rehearsal and show day!

The lucky ballerinas, are those who don’t even wear toe pads and have no pain with their toes. Wow. That’s like a super power. I am so impressed.

I, unfortunately, am not one of those ballerinas. For me, it is my toe nails. Especially my big toe nail. Ouch.

When I was younger, just starting out in the corps de ballet, I could barely make it through a two hour rehearsal because of toe pain. I didn’t like wearing Ouch Pouch pads or any toe pads really, because I couldn’t feel the floor in the same way. I was willing to have pain, in order to dance better. That can only last so long though, even with a high pain tolerance. Luckily, these days, there are so many more options out there for ballerinas!

The first time I danced the lead in Etudes, I remember my feet screaming at me. The sylph section is almost all on pointe. So many bourrees. In my fifteen minute break, I would run upstairs, put ice on my feet and pray that they would fit back in to my shoes.

I couldn’t continue dancing with only tape and second skin. I never quite figured out cotton or paper towels. I do know some ballerinas that are quite happy with those as a solution though.

Luckily, I found a solution of my own. And I am so grateful that I have! PerfectFit Pointe Inserts. This was a game changer for me. Now, I can get through my longest of days without being in agony. I may still feel my toes after an 8 hour day but at least I don’t need an Advil in order to get the swelling down. (NOT healthy, NOT wise. DO NOT reach for the Advil!)

“The PerfectFit Pointe Shoe Inserts use a moldable impression material to adapt your foot to fit the inside of your shoe like a glove. By filling the voids within the box of the shoe, the inserts perfectly distribute your weight across your toes and forefoot when en pointe, which reduces or removes painful and damaging pressure points. ” -www.perfectfitpointe.com

When you order a set of inserts, you make them yourself, at home. They are completely customized for your foot, your needs and desires.

Another bonus, is that I no longer have to sit on the floor, between barre and center for ten minutes taping every, individual toe. I am much faster to get my shoes on and continue with my favorite part of class, center.

I can feel the floor, which is everything to me. I don’t like to feel that I am being lifted out of my shoes but rather truly, in the shoe. PerfectFit Inserts do this, while giving me greater stability and balance. Win, Win!

I fully recommend them. My everyday pain, has diminished. That is the biggest gift. To be able to do what I love, without sensitive toes. 🙂 Thank you PerfectFit!

xoxo
-Hol

What Is A Costume Fitting Like at The Royal Danish Ballet!?

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By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Friday, September 13, 2019

Oooooh! Costume fittings are the best!! I think it is so much fun when you are called to one. It is the time where you get that first sneak peek of what you’ll be wearing on stage! It makes it all the more real and exciting!

We are so lucky at the Royal Danish Ballet, because we have absolutely the most talented costume department and the nicest, hands down. The men and women that work in the costume department are absolutely sweethearts. They care so much about the dancers and you can feel it when you are with them trying on their beautiful creations. I’m a huge, HUGE fan of the costume department.

When you get called for a costume fitting, your name will be written on the schedule. (My name is written in red, along with the time I am called on the schedule to the left.) The fittings are usually pretty quick (around 5-10 min.) but it does depend on if you are trying on a costume, that has already been made or one that is being created for the first time.

When you try on a costume, that has already been made, many times it was made on someone else. We keep costumes for years! Which is cool when you try on a costume, that has a name of a past ballerina that you admire! Legend- wear! The costume department comes prepared, as they’ve taken the time to figure out, who’s measurements are the closest to yours and pulled that costume for you to try on. Then, only slight alterations are needed.

Diamonds Costume Fitting. Seamstress: Bente Kirk

When you are called for a costume fitting for a brand new ballet, that has all new costumes, then it will take a bit longer. Anywhere from ten minutes to two hours. When a fitting takes a long time, it is usually because the designer is able to be at the fitting. Therefore more ideas are discussed and bounced back and forth. It’s actually pretty cool to witness their artistic thought process about their creations.

Karen Blixen costume fitting with Bente Kirk.

I recently was called to a fitting for the up and coming World Premiere of, Karen Blixen. Choreography by Gregory Dean. Scenography and costume design by Jon Morrell. Music by Claude Debussy. Composer and musical arrangement by Martin Yates. It is very exciting!

Karen Blixen Costume Fitting with Bente Kirk.

You go to the costume department at the time you are called and meet one of the seamstresses. They will help you get dressed and then they start pinning! Pinning everything. A waist that needs to go in, a hem that needs to be shortened, a sleeve that needs to be attached, a neckline lowered… the list of possibilities goes on and on.

I’m usually quite chatty at costume fittings. It’s a nice, ten minute break from rehearsal, where I get to share stories of my summer, or show lots of pictures of my cat. (Guilty)

Giselle Costume Fitting. Creation.
Giselle Costume Fitting. Seamstress: Bajsen Hertz.

Once they are done pinning, they help you slip out of the costume without piercing yourself and off you go, back in to rehearsal.

The costume department is a magical place where all the beauty is created. I love them. Best “coffee break” anyone could ask for.

xoxo
-Hol

Coppelia Costume Fitting.
Black Swan Costume Fitting

How To Create A Red Lip That Is Stage Kissable!?

By | Backstage | No Comments

By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Monday, September 9, 2019

First things first. 🙂 When you see two dancers on stage kiss, they are actually kissing. I guarantee, that they aren’t thinking about the kiss though. A kiss is always set to the music and is thought of as part of the choreography. In the ballet Napoli, I was asked to kiss my partner while simultaneously slowly lifting up one of my legs. That moment in the ballet, quickly became a balancing exercise for me, to truly create that Hollywood moment that my director wanted. My thoughts were, “Don’t fall over, Holly!”.

Napoli First Act. Jonathan Chmelensky & I.

How do you create a red lip, that is kissable but wont come off all over your partner? There isn’t always a possibility to run off stage to fix your make up and for him to wipe his face during a show.

Powder! It’s all about that face finishing powder. When doing your makeup before a show, put on your lip liner and then use that Ruby Red, or Drama Queen, or whatever the name is of your red lipstick and put that on your lips. Then, take your finishing powder and dust it all over your lips. It’s going to feel weird. Really weird. Give it a moment to settle in. Then, put another layer of your red lipstick on. Again, add more powder. Do this three or four times.

Your lips will not feel like your own anymore. It can feel quite dry. Once you start dancing though, I promise you wont be thinking about your lips.

Photo: Peter Anderson

To take it one step further, after you put on your lipstick and powder layers, take your concealer and apply it around your lips to stop any color bleeding. Make those red lips really pop!

I always finish my make up routine with a face setting spray. Doesn’t hurt to give everything, one last chance to set before the sweat starts to pour, threatening to ruin everything.

xoxo
-Hol