Getting Organized

One piece of starting your own business that you don’t normally think about is having a space to work. Due to space constraints, I haven’t had a place that I could set up a desk, spread out, and easily work with computer and books since college. Yes, a kitchen table or couch will get the job done, but its important to have a dedicated space to sit down and work.

Now, I’m obviously still very much in the pre-planning stages of entrepreneurship. I’m still working on the research for what it takes to start your own business- how to create a business plan, market research, and even as basic as determining my fundamental values. I had grand plans at the beginning of the year to commit to researching and planning every day, but that’s been very much unrealistic. My new goal is closer to once  a week, though at times that doesn’t seem quite doable. I feel though if I push myself to take deliberate steps towards my goal of dance studio ownership at least once a week, actually working minimum of every two weeks is very manageable.

My husband and I bought our first home this past fall, about six months ago. We have a spare room that we have intentions on turning into a guest bedroom. Right now, though, getting a second bed for this room isn’t doable, but there is no sense in wasting this great space. My mom gave me a table that she and my dad made for my sister and I when we were very young now that I have space for it. This table is now my desk and I have more space than I’ve had in a long time and to top it off, I have a great view of our backyard.

With my new space, an organized bookshelf within easy reach, and a renewed motivation after speaking to my boss at my full time (non dance related) job, I feel like I am set up for productivity. Now, I just need to invest in a new computer in the not too distant future….


The “Ideal Ballet Body”

For many years, ballet dancers had to fit a very specific stereotype, particularly while famous choreographer George Balanchine was working with the New York City Ballet. In fact, one of my most used ballet resources, Classical Ballet Technique by Gretchen Ward Warren, describes the ideal female dancer as having the following physical characteristics on page 66:

  • A height of 5’2″ to 5’8″ tall
  • A weight of 85 to 115 pounds
  • A small head
  • A long neck
  • Shoulders that are wider than the hips
  • A small bust
  • A straight back with a torso that is proportional to the rest of the body
  • Long arms and hands
  • Narrow hips
  • Small posterior
  • Long, straight legs with slight hyperextension
  • Slim thighs
  • Thin ankles and long, well arched feet

Now, I love this particular book as it breaks down so many of the basic and common movements of ballet with great descriptions and pictures every step of the way. However, every time I flip past this page it makes me angry.

The first two descriptions together do not generally make a healthy dancer. Using a BMI (body mass index) calculator, the one of the only ways to be in both the “ideal ballet dancer” category and to be firmly in a normal, healthy BMI range, a ballerina would have to be 5’2″ and 115! And that doesn’t even take into consideration how rare having all of the above qualities are in women. Women are biologically created to have larger busts, wider hips, and generally have curves which are completely absent from this “ideal”.

Unfortunately, the “ideal ballet body” was hailed for decades and many professional companies and pre-professional training schools have/had contractual clauses forcing their dancers to meet these standards. Eating disorders became extremely prevalent among female ballet dancers as they were pressured to conform or loose their jobs.

When I was growing up, the ideal was still very popular. As I reached puberty, the norm of stick straight dancers was ingrained in almost every aspect of the ballet world- right down to many leotards and costumes not being created with a woman’s curves in mind. While I was in high school, at barely a C cup, I was told multiple times that I had entirely too much bust and would never be able to become a professional ballerina! I was young and on the skinny side of healthy at 5’6″ and around 110 pounds, barely in the healthy BMI range, yet I was considered to have too many curves to get into a professional ballet company.

Between being told that my skinny self was still too big to be a ballerina, witnessing friends who struggled with eating disorders, and then studying the prevalence of unhealthy dancers, I began to develop a passion to destroy the “ideal ballet body” norm for many reasons including:

  1. It encourages negative behaviors and body images. Many dancers develop poor eating habits and a negative feeling towards food, which robs them of not only their health but of the fuel needed to dance 8 or more hours a day.
  2. It limits the number of people that have access to the wonders of the professional ballet world. Many talented dancers are either turned away, or like myself, discouraged from auditioning, from ballet schools and companies.
  3. It goes against ballet’s roots and history. In the Romantic era of ballet, when it moved from the French royalty to stage, the dance form evolved as a way to celebrate the female body. How does one celebrate the female body when the “ideal” body type fights the biological norms?

While the ballet world has fortunately begun to be more accepting of more body types, it still has a long way to go. With any luck, the ballet world can continue its spirit of inclusion and become more like the contemporary dance community. And with my future studio, I hope to create dancers that are healthy and know that any body can do ballet.


Costume Woes Update

In one of my recent posts, I wrote about the struggles I’ve had with one particular recital costume over the last few weeks. It was a costume that my mom and I were putting together ourselves instead of ordering from a costume catalog. Here’s an update on the costume.

Big picture? The costumes are completed and finalized.

The green button down shirt that was a bit big on the dancer, we decided to keep. It coordinated well enough with her partner’s green skirt and the dancer really liked the style, so we went with it. If we decide that its too big with her jeggings (that she didn’t have for class this week yet), we can probably alter the shirt or style it differently so its not so noticeable. Finding that shirt was so close to impossible to begin with that it wasn’t worth it to try to track down another one.

The white blouses that I had an issue with ending up working out in my favor also. Even though I had ordered the blouses online, I went into the brick and mortar store to speak with a customer service rep about the asinine policy of not price matching an even exchange online. The store was incredibly helpful and returned the sizes I didn’t need and convinced the online reps to honor the price that I had originally paid for the blouses. The new sizes arrived just in time for my dancers to try them on in class this week, and thankfully they all fit perfectly.

My mom’s adventures in making the skirts were only half of what I thought they were- while she was visiting to size them on my dancers, she filled me in on even more craziness that she faced. But, the other day we were able to completely finish the four skirts and adjust the waist on each girl. Other than being washed and ironed, the skirts are ready for recital.

So, its been great news for the costumes that I was struggling with the most. And, to top it off, my mom and I are both very pleased with the way the costumes finally came together after the time and effort we’ve put in. I am just waiting on three more classes’ recital costumes, which I’m hoping will have arrived at the dance studio by the time we come back from spring break in two weeks.

Come recital, I will have pictures of the completed costumes. 🙂