Monday, January 31, 2011

Review-- Balocity

Today is a review for the exercise video, Balocity. This is a fifty-minute video featuring an ex-New York City ballet dancer. The back says that she developed this video to stay in shape between her times on stage. Let's see if it's good for that. 

I really liked the instructor. She does a great job of being optimistic, but not summer rainbow sunshine sparkle happy. She speaks very clearly and very eloquently, which helps during the exercises. She has her moments of quiet, but when she does offer tips on form, they are really helpful, though I did notice that she didn’t explain the proper form for the pliés.
No butts should stick out!

 They have some really good stretches. There's a section for the inner thighs that really helps. Usually the inner thighs are ignored in workouts, so I liked how they put extra emphasis on this region of the body. The instructors are really flexible, but sometimes I swear they performed the ballet moves wrong during the exercise. They let their butt stick out in the pliés. It's hard to tell, but I think they are just slightly.

I did feel as if we could have used more time on some of the exercises. We sort of seemed to fly through them without taking an extra couple of seconds to feel the muscles fully lengthen. I can just pause, though, if I want to continue an exercise and then play the video again once I'm ready. 
One of the great exercises they do to reach the inner thigh.
 The fast pace of the exercise does make it interesting. I don't lose interest as quickly as I do in other exercise videos. The floor barre is only about nine minutes and the standing workout makes up the rest of the video. I would recommend stretching every once in awhile to avoid pulling muscles. Also, don’t try to go full out since they move so fast during the standing exercises that you could pull something during the kicks.
They do make an effort to offer variations. They have low-impact variations, too, for the cardio sections. This is great if you're tired, have bad knees/legs/whatever, and need a less jarring motion.

During floorwork, she doesn't tell you which foot goes forward. One the second side she reminds you, but I had already started switching sides the first time. It would have been nice for clarification, though I can sort of see how she probably thought we'd infer this through the nature of the pattern itself. She remembers to do this later during the cool-down stretches, so I forgave her for the slight lapse.
The final part of the exercise is the abdominal work. Usually exercise videos start with ab work right after the warm-ups, but this video saves them for near the very end. They are pretty easy--nowhere near as hard as previous exercises, but it was a relief after a long workout to not worry too much about the abs. 

The exercise, overall, was easier than most. It is more for beginners or people looking for a lower impact exercise. The floorwork is definitely higher impact, but you can lower your legs on the kicks. The ballet is also there, but this video is not for people looking for ballet form corrections. This is a ballet-inspired workout, more than anything.

The location is actually really nice. I liked how they changed the color scheme every once in awhile for a nice change. It looked polished and professional.

The camera would only occasionally miss important areas of their body, but overall, it rarely failed.  Whoever directed the video had a good sense of proportion and what viewers need to see as they worked out along with the video.
The tips section will go over the proper form for the moves.
The video when you first pop it in will go over the tips section. This is where she gives you information on the proper forms. Though this is nice, I often forget some of the advice they offer. Luckily, the instructor often reminds us to correct our posture, tucking our abs, or whatever is needed to fix our form.

Another portion of the video is the behind the scenes and shots of them shooting the workout video. It's rather interesting if you're interested in film and how movies are shot, but that's about it.

Final Thoughts:
 Workout: 8/10
Instructor: 9/10
Setting: 10/10
Camera: 9/10
Level: Beginner-Advanced
Is it actually ballet? Yes
Overall: 8/10

This may be revised because I haven't had time to review this video and workout along with it for a second time. I usually like to use a video at least twice before finalizing my review, but since I've just been exhausted lately, I'm throwing this review up here early. 

Friday, January 28, 2011

Review-- BalleCore Workout

I'm really excited for this review because I've planned something extra, super special for you guys! This is a review for the BalleCore Workout. This book is packed with pictures and directions on how to complete this yoga-pilates-ballet-fusion workout. For these exercises, you'll need a bar (or anything thin you can rest weight on, like a thick wrapping paper tube), a Theraband, and a yoga mat if you want.

The book has black and white pictures. They do a good job taking pictures of each step. The problem, though, is this makes it hard to workout. You'll need to stop in between, shift through the book, and then get back into the workout. Until you get very familiar with the routine, it is a tad obnoxious to keep going back and forth to the book. The exercises are great, but it's just too difficult sometimes to flip through the book, hold it open, and exercise all at the same time.

The book makes sure to provide exercises for every aspect of a workout. There are moves for just about everything. The chapters in the book are:
  1. Warm-up
  2. Core Pilates
  3. Stretching
  4. Hips and Buttocks
  5. Floor Ballet
  6. The Back
  7. Standing Ballet
  8. The Legs and Ballet Variation
  9. Hatha Yoga
  10. Cool-Down
The book also puts together exercises for you, whether you want to focus more on a certain body part or you have a limited amount of time. It also has a glossary in back for terms the book uses in case you aren't sure of what particular move she is telling you to do.

The introduction is also great. They have several wonderful drawings of the body pointing to the particular muscles and naming them. They also give a list of recommended music to complete the workout to, which I absolutely loved. It was an added detail that made the workout richer.

The only major problem with this exercise book is just's a book. It's hard to follow along and not stop in between exercises. In order to avoid this, I made something extra special for you guys, a little exercise video to help you go through the book. Major sections are left out because this took me a loooong time to put together, and I wanted to make it worth your while to buy or borrow the book. Also, watching this video will definitely not substitute for the actual book. The pictures aren't the greatest and she gives important information in the book that is not included in the video. In order to be safe, read through the book first and then follow along with this video I made. The exercise is a little under thirty minutes.

 I'm so proud of all this work I put into the video. I really hope someone uses it and finds it helpful.

That concludes my review for the book. I hope you enjoy the video.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Review-- Ballet Bootcamp

Another ballet based exercise I'm reviewing for this month! This is the Ballet Boot Camp video. It is available on Amazon for about $18. This is a slightly longer exercise. It lasts for about 60 minutes.

Like the beginning of the New York Ballet Workout II, this workout begins with a definition of the correct stance. It's just bullet points though, but really, I'm fine with that. The instructor will often narrate over the exercise routine with important, accurate information about correct form.

The instructor is okay. She stumbles a couple times with her instructions, but it didn't matter too much. Still, she does a decent job describing what's going on with your body as you stretch. This makes it really handy when you're looking at the ground for a stretch or if it's hard to turn your head to the television.
Every once in awhile, the instructor will narrator over the audio. Sometimes she'll start narrating as she's talking in the regular video. It makes it hard to hear her sometimes, even when what she has to say is pretty important to the exercise.That or she'll talk rapidly like an informercial. Other times, she's very helpful at pointing out advice and mistakes to avoid.

One of my favorite parts of the workout is actually the warmup. The warmup is a really good about stretching a lot of the stiff areas of the body and hits the major muscles needed for dance.  The rest of the exercise features floor combinations, an abdominal workout, some miscellaneous workouts (pushups, splits, etc.), butt exercises, and arm exercises. About half the exercise has a solid ballet theme. The pushups, not so much, but the rest has a strong, ballet influence. This is a tough exercise. I had to stop several times.

This DVD will have to be watched more than once. She puts together combinations and explains each of the steps separately before combining them, but it still might be a tad difficult if you are still unsure of how to transition from one to the next. I sure had some difficulty. Still, she repeats the combination enough for you to finally catch on in the end, making learning the combo worthwhile. One problem though, is that though she explains the moves, the camera doesn’t zoom to their feet. Instead, it’ll focus on a dancer’s face or some other body part. This doesn’t help teach the combo, no matter how many words she uses to explain the positions.
I definitely will give the camerawork some credit. The cinematography is unique. It'll change angles to above, in front, to the side, pretty much everywhere. It'll sometimes change to black and white, but it doesn't distract from the workout. What is distracting is the mass of people in the room. I really only need a couple other people to help me see what moves they are performing. With many people in the room, wearing similar colors, it got a tad distracting. Still, it's not too bad.

The setting is a nicely lit studio. I liked it. The background music is classical. Sometimes it was opera, and it made battements very awkward, hahahaha. Despite this, the music is very calming.

Final Thoughts
 Workout: 9/10
Instructor: 9/10
Setting: 9/10
Camera: 8/10
Level: Advanced-Expert
Is it actually ballet? Yes
Overall: 9/10

This is a really good ballet based exercise. You get a great cardio from the ballet floorwork and strength training through crunches and pushups. Though the camera can make it difficult to see how their body for particular moves, it's rather nice overall.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Blog award!

1. Thank and link the person who gave you this award.

2. Share 7 things about yourself.

3. Award 15 recently discovered great bloggers.

4. Contact these bloggers to tell them about this award.

Seven random things about me:
1) I can write with both hands, but I prefer taking school notes with my left.

2) I'm terrible with technology. Nothing seems to work around me

3) I'm sort of a dork. I love comics and video games.

4) I apparently have a pretentious taste in movies. I don't think anyone can say that about me anymore though, after Black Swan

5) I'm a photographer for my school's newspaper

6) I love crappy movies. I have watched three Dingo productions all the way through. I consider that a world record.

7) I love puzzles!

1. Why did you make this blog?
I wanted to inspire other people starting ballet at a later age that it is possible and it can be done. This would have had me start back in high school had I known.

2. What kind of blogs do you read?
Makeup blogs

3. Do you have a favorite make-up brand?
Aromaleigh and Fyrinnae

4. What about the favorite clothing brand?
I hate all clothing. Nudity for the win!

5. What piece in you make-up bag is the most important to you?
Eyeliner. I can't leave the house without it.

6. Your favorite color?
Black, red, and grey

7. Favorite perfume?
I don't like any perfume.

8. Your favorite movie?
Sweeney Todd, It's a Wonderful Life, Hamlet, Coraline, and many others

9. What countries would you like to visit?

The rules are: copy the picture, answer the questions and send it to your favorite blogs!

 1. Thank and link back to the giver of the award

2. Sum up your blogging philosophy, motivation, and experience using 5 words: Wake up and kick ass

3. Pass it on to other bloggers that you feel have substance in their blogs.

I need to pick bloggers here, but I just started blogging! The only blogs I follow have already received this award, so do I still pick them? I'll update this later, I guess :/ Or we'll make it so that you can just pop this on your blog if you want it XD Leave a comment before you do that, though, so I can place a link of it here in the post

Blogs I love:
Nouveau Cheap
Glitter Face

Thanks again for the award! I'm so flattered!

Monday, January 24, 2011

More Exercises Featuring Ballet - Online Video Edition

Keeping up with the January theme of exercise and keeping to those resolutions, here are some more exercises that will work for dancers. Some of these are specifically ballet/dance based, while one other is stretches for older ladies wanting to improve their flexibility. Since we are adult ballet dancers, this last video should be beneficial!

Ballet Strength Workout -  a full, free 20-minute exercise hosted by ExerciseTV. This combines ballet with pilates. You can download the video for only three dollars or just watch it for free online.

Ballet Butt - another free video from ExerciseTV. This is shorter, but works your butt

This video is for younger dancers.

And this one is for older dancers and probably good for those just starting:

Hope you can use some of these short exercises to keep yourself in trim shape for dance! Also, I received my new ballet based exercise DVDs in the mail. There will be a couple more reviews within the week. Some things will be pushed into the beginning of February, but that's okay, too!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Review-- Simply Ballet

This is a review for the Simply Ballet: A Master Class for Beginners. This is not a review of an exercise video (though you do exercise) as much as it's a supplement to ballet class. They recommend you already have one to two years of training, and I tend to agree with them since she doesn't go into acute detail on the correct forms. 
The DVD opens up with three beautiful young dancers. I just love watching them! They are quite talented.

The setting is in a studio. The lighting is not too great, but it's enough to be able to see all the dancers. The quality is also not fantastic, even on DVD, but it's passable. (My screenshots are worse than the actual quality of the disc. I'm not quite sure why.)

The instructor does a great job of fully demonstrating the exercises. She is clearly talented, knows what she's talking about, and a good dancer. She covers some really important things to remember as you perform these exercises, especially if you're a beginner like me.
The camera does a great job of zooming in to focus on the individual dancer as the instructor works with them. What I like is how they'll demonstrate the correct way, but also the incorrect way for some moves so can see these in yourself and correct it.
They also have a girl facing back and a girl facing front so you can see the correct forms from both angles. It's really helpful. I say girls, but there's also a boy dancer. I really like when they have boy dancers, too, so boys using the DVD won't feel left out. When it's time to go to the other side, the camera will cut and the dancers will now be facing the other way. However, they don't always go to the other side, so you'll have to get up and rewind. You can't just hit the back button because she'll start giving the exercise instructions again. This can get a tad tedious. I wish they broke up the exercise and her instructions so you can jump to and fro with the next button.
The instructor leads you through the combinations she has designed for both the barre and floorwork. There are also combinations specifically for male students. When she teaches a combination, she'll go through it herself. Then she'll demonstrate the correct and incorrect form on the student dancers. After she gives her final instructions, you practice with the students as a pianist plays some rendition of a classical piece. She only gives instructions before the exercises, not during. I prefer during since then if I forget to put one of her methods into practice, I'll be reminded. Usually I'm so busy concentrating I don't notice I'm performing a move incorrectly. Comments during the exercise would improve this.

I truly enjoy this video. Not only did I learn something from it, but I feel confident as we go through the motions. This is not a video to buy if you haven't taken a studio class yet, since she does expect you to know the terminology for the most part. If you are unsure of some ballet terms, then this might not be the best video for you yet.
This DVD delivers exactly what it promises to do, which I respect from it. It's an easy-to-follow master class for beginners. And this really is only for beginners. There's a lot of instruction and the combinations are simpler. Sometimes there's even variations put into some of the floorwork for those super new to ballet.

However, the price is pretty steep: $27. For a little bit more, I think you'll be able to find better instruction videos and one with better quality. Still, not to bad! I'm glad my library had this.

Verdict: If you can get it for a cheaper price than $27, give it a shot.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Lycra find!

 I've been working busily today to complete my leotard prototype. And I must say, it looks rather good! There's no way I can wear this leotard to class since it doesn't have the full stretch both ways, but the pattern definitely works. It's easy once you figure out the directions. Now, I feel I'm ready to tackle to big task of sewing a leotard for class! I need to find a decent fabric. Since the fabric stores with brick and mortar branches have little variety, I decided to look around online again. I needed something that will give me a swatch AND had, preferably, a cotton/Lycra mix. Boy did I get lucky!

I found an amazing deal for a cotton-lycra blend!

The cotton has everything the pattern requires: a two way stretch, 60" wide, comes in black, 85% cotton 15% Lycra, and only $7.50/yard. Plus, I can get a swatch!

Signing up for this company's registry will give you five free swatches. Needless to say, I took advantage of this offer. I ordered the cotton Lycra blend, plus another Lycra blend they offered, Lycra spandex. This will probably be too stretchy, but hey, it's worth a shot. Shipping is free, too. So check this site out!

Sweet!! I can't wait for it to come!

Theraband Used for Ballet Exercises

My Therabands arrived today! This means I can start using them to stretch and increase my flexibility. In order to prepare for this, I did a search for all the exercises I could complete to improve my ballet. Here are some videos I found and compiled for others using Therabands to improve their flexibility:

Other videos featuring the Theraband:
Anaheim Ballet: Tricks of the Trade
Ballet Exercises at Home
Another blog with excellent advice
Ballet Forum

Friday, January 21, 2011

Leotard test run and skirt finished!

I've been working for a couple hours now on this leotard and skirt combo, using the new pattern. So far, so good! I ran into some issues around the skirt but I fixed most of them and it looks pretty good! Passable enough for me! The leotard is also pretty easy so far. It may be a little tight because it only has 70% stretch one way, but since I put that as the width of the pattern, it should be good enough to gauge if it'll fit me or not.
Even though I lowered the top of the leg, it still cuts very high. It'll easily be above my hip bone. I don't really feel comfortable with that, but luckily the skirt covers it.
 The skirt's looking good! It looks lopsided, but I can't figure out why it looks like that.... The more I look at it, though, the more I like how asymmetrical it is.

Anyway, that's it for my sewing today! Have a great weekend! Happy Friday everyone!

Photographer Dilemma

The other day in ballet was a typical day, except for one thing: a photographer.

I was warming up at the barre when my instructor told us that a photographer was coming in to take pictures of us. She said a similar thing Tuesday, but the photographer never showed. At first, I thought this was him or her taking a rain check, but then I learned that the photographer was with one of the local newspapers.

Now I know you're wondering, why do I even care? Well, my mom gets this particular newspaper. My entire family gets this newspaper. I don't want them to know that I'm taking ballet class.

The story is I've been sneaking out to take these classes. I've told my mom that I'm driving to class at my college, but instead, I've been going to a local studio. I would wear my tights and workout clothing underneath jeans and a tshirt and then change once I got there. My shoes are hidden in my room along with my tights. I've been working so hard to keep this under wraps that a photograph with me in a ballet class would ruin it.

I don't want my family to know I'm doing this because, well, let's just say it was only this year that a picture of me went up on the wall that wasn't me in a recital costume or in a dance uniform. I quit dancing ten years ago. There was huge family drama when I quit and I still get hounded about why I quit to this day. I don't want them to know about this because this is supposed to be only for me. It's my own little sanctuary. I don't want to come home and talk about it with my family.

Luckily, the photographer understood. My instructor placed me on the end so I wouldn't be in the pictures and the photographer didn't get a statement from me after class. I think I'll be okay. So, obstacle hurdled and over with.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

My ballet skirt's progress

I've started working on my skirt first. A little backwards, I know, but it has the easier directions so I want to give it a whirl first. Plus, I'm way too exhausted to put a lot of effort into my trial run, so I'm going the easy way.
The waist is sloppy since I had to pin the short ends of the belt to the dressform.
Right away, I'm running into some trouble. I can't seem to anchor down the chiffon so when I cut it, it tends to sway. This isn't too much of a problem. I did a good job on the main skirt, which is all I'm worried about, but for the belt it's a slightly different story. Still, it's not too big of a deal. BUT, I made a huge mistake. The problem with the fabric is that it's transparent, so when it looks like I have the wrong side up, it's actually the right side. I've already messed up a seam. I either tear it and another seam out and risk ruining the fabric, or I leave it and try to cover it up in a unique way. I don't know what I should do... I'm going to practice ripping out seams on a discarded scrap of the same fabric before attempting the skirt.
I'm positive I cut them the right length. I even double checked.
Also, an even bigger problem is that somehow the belt straps are too short. I'm pretty sure I followed the pattern correctly, but there's still not enough to wrap around the skirt. Luckily, I have a plan for this. I'm going to cut out another, longer strip and just add it to the ends. Once I tube the skirt, it shouldn't matter much. Besides, when its tied, it'll be hard to notice, I think.

I plan on working on this leotard over the weekend. I already have my trial pattern cut out!
It's really easy. There are only a couple of pieces: the front leotard, the back, crotch guard, bra, and sleeves.

More ballet-themed exercises to come!

I was browsing eBay and found some exercise DVDs for great prices. I just couldn't pass it up. So now I have three more workout videos to add to my growing cue. Let's see how they measure up. Granted, I'm probably not going to need these DVDs at all since my college offers free yoga and pilates classes and I'm taking ballet classes outside of school, but they are still nice to have around in case I don't have the time.

The new DVDs I'm going to receive sometime next week are: Balocity, Trudie Styler's Sculpt & Tone Ballet, and Attitude Ballet and Pilates Fusion. I'm most excited for the Balocity since it features an ex-New York Ballet dancer.

Meanwhile, I'm trying to find time to review the other items I have planned, such as Ballet Boot Camp. I have taken some screenshots, though I haven't completed the exercise yet. Here's a little snippet of what's to come there:

I have ballet class in an hour so I'm going to get ready! Have fun at your own dance classes and keep up the passion!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

"You're lucky you're wearing a leotard!"

AKA: Russia is HARDCORE.

I was talking with my ballet teacher during class when another student brought up a documentary she saw over the weekend. The documentary is called Ballerina. It's about Russian dancers. It's available on Netflicks so many people can get a hold of a copy if they're interested. What this brought up was my teacher's interesting experience with Russian instructors and dancers.

One day she was practicing and (I don't know... she was doing something wrong or complaining about her leotard) and her Russian instructor reprimanded her by saying, "You should even be grateful you have a leotard on when you dance!" She was surprised at first by this comment, but she learned later that some Russian dancers aren't allowed to wear them! I'm not sure if this was for the older dancers, but younger dancers weren't always so lucky.

Or perhaps they are lucky in a strange way. It is really prestigious for a girl to get into a Russian ballet. As my teacher says, if you make it into one of those, you're basically set for life. The tryouts have their odd/HARDCORE moments.

One thing they look for is the girl's flexibility. They see how far she can bend backwards, etc. They also look for features of their body. Their heads most be smaller than most and their limbs must be long. They test their flexibility and body their underwear. Imagine that flying in America? Yeah, I can't either. The parents would have a nightmare, but in Russia it's much different. This is where my ballet instructor got the "You should be grateful" speech from her Russian instructor. Apparently, some girls didn't even get the luxury of having a simple leotard.

Even their privacy is tapped into. They share dormrooms and if they have food in their rooms, the instructors or someone will come in and take it away so you can't eat it. I understand they are trying to promote the diet they've had, but come on! Who doesn't want a Hershey bar every once in awhile! Hahaha
Russian dancer Natalia Osipova
 The sad thing is they don't look for passion. There's a girl in my class from Russia. She was not accepted as a Russian dancer, yet she has so much potential! She loves to dance and is quite good at it. It's a shame they didn't accept her or even allow her to take lessons. At least here in America she's allowed to do whatever she wants with her dance.

Still, I'm basing all this information off of what's been said to me. I feel as if I can trust these women, but who knows? I've never been to a Russian ballet academy so I can't confirm this. Besides, I'm sure all ballet academies in Russia are different in slight ways. Russian dancers are amazing. They dedicate their lives to their art, so it's no surprise how wonderful they are! Here's to Russia, as hardcore as they may be, for their contribution to the ballet world!

The pattern's here!

The pattern made it here! I'm so excited! I'm going to start working on it right away!

Here's a picture of it:

The pattern is bigger than most. It comes in two large sheets of paper. I'm going to be tracing over them so I don't have to cut it out. So far, it's really easy to make adjustments. They have right on the pattern where the waistline is so you can adjust as needed. Though depending on your size, there's not too much room you need to make adjustments. The differences between the sizes is small.

I'm a little worried about the instructions. I'm not used to them and the way they have everything labeled throws me off. I'll have to keep looking over them and I'll definitely try a trial leotard before trying on the more expensive spandex.

I'm already starting to make a pattern for a leotard! Today I went to the fabric store and asked the associates what they would recommend. They pointed me straight to spandex and, get this, even recommend bathing suit spandex for leotards. This is particularly good for the "crotch guard" as this pattern likes to call it. I bought a sample of it and will compare it to a couple others to tell you how I think. It's shiny (good or bad depending on the individual) and has the 70% stretch both ways that's needed. 

Pictures later once I cut out my trial! Meanwhile, class tomorrow and college tomorrow... I'm going to be a tired girl!

Monday, January 17, 2011

January Update!

January is halfway over, but it also means that my school is going to go full force soon, too. That means I'll be really busy, but I'll keeping recording information on here!

In case you haven't noticed yet, I'm going to be keeping up the January fitness theme. Since many people's resolutions are to get into shape, I thought I could review a couple ballet inspired exercise videos. Again, here is the link to a full list of exercise videos, hosted by Amazon: Ballet Based Exercises! It already seems quite popular! More popular than this blog, as a matter of fact. But I shall persevere!

I'm going to keep up with the ballet fitness theme until the end of January. So far, I have a couple more items planned. In my last review, I stated what I had planned, but I realized that I left a thing or two off it by accident. So here's the full list of items I'm going to be reviewing:

Ballecore (book)
Ballet Boot Camp
Ballet for Beginners
...and whatever else that may come up and tickle my fancy :)

I will also be reviewing my strength bands and see how well they help train my feet. I just received word that they'll be shipping soon. It's about freakin time! I'll also let you know how those are going.

On a different note, my ballet leotard pattern is coming in soon and I will start sewing that as soon as possible. I really need a uniform and if I use this pattern right, I will be saving myself a lot of money in the long run. Also, I'll be able to personalize it for myself. Can't wait! I'll be sure to comment on that, as well.

Since this month is already halfway over, I should already start thinking about next months theme... hmmmm... I wonder... If you have any ideas, feel free to leave a comment!

Tomorrow I have ballet class and I'm already spinning around, giddy with excitement. I was practicing my pirouettes today in the kitchen and I must say, I have remarkably improved in the short time that I've been practicing. I even managed a double! Granted, the form was probably terrible, but it sure made me feel good! I'm debating on how I should make my "Before" video to show you guys my progress (and myself progress). I'm still slow on the exercises and don't know them all by heart, which is the problem. Perhaps that should be included in the learning process, hm?

Stay safe in this dreary weather!

Ballet Sewing Pattern - Fabrics

My pattern has yet to arrive. It's been over a week and I'm starting to get a tad antsy. To prepare for its arrival, I have already started looking for some fabric so that I can get started right away and have a leotard for class as soon as possible.

I'm probably going to buy from JoAnn's, since it's the only fabric store nearby that carries the type of fabric this pattern will need, but it doesn't stop me from browsing the market a little bit.

Looking for:
        • Black
      • Spandex mix
      • At most $10/yard

We are looking for a fabric with at least two-way stretch. Preferably something with spandex. The pattern recommends Lycra, but any spandex mix will do. It seems cotton/spandex mixes are the most popular for leotards, but I've also seen nylon/spandex. I'll only need one yard for the leotard, and I will probably make a practice leotard out of some black polyester/cotton knit I have to make sure I don't waste any of the spandex because as I found out, spandex can be quite expensive.

The pattern also calls for 59'' wide fabric, which we must take into consideration. If we don't listen to this, then we could end up with not enough fabric. Taking the pattern's requirements into consideration, I found these fabrics:

72% Polyester, 24% Rayon, 4% Spandex; $9.99/yard at Hancock Fabrics
95% Rayon, 5% Spandex; $12.99/yard at JoAnn's
86% Polyester, 14% Spandex; $12.99/yard at Hancock Fabrics
95% Cotton, 5% Spandex; $12.95/yard ON SALE! for $6.95/yard at
50% Polyester, 45% Cotton, 5% Spandex; $18/yard ON SALE! for $10/yard at

These you would have to buy more fabric of since they aren't quite wide enough:
97% Cotton, 3% Spandex; $8.99/yard at Hancock Fabrics

For the skirt with this pattern, I probably will prefer a chiffon. I have some gorgeous purple chiffon left over from a high school toga costume. I've been dying to use it and plan on using for this pattern. If you don't have chiffon, and want to wait for it to be on sale, then don't worry. Chiffon goes on sale often, I find. You'll only need a yard of it so it'll be very cheap for a ballet skirt. The hardest bit will be sewing it since it's transparent and unravels. I'd recommend overlocking/serging the edges or using a narrow zigzag stitch. I'm going to try zigzag first. If it works, I'll let you guys know! You could also do a narrow hem, but since it's a curved edge it looks like, I'm probably not going to even attempt it.
 I also have this really pretty sparkly fabric my aunt gave me. I was planning on making a cover-up out of it, but I like the idea of a ballet skirt better.

Review-- Pure Barre Original

This review is for the Pure Barre workout. Pure Barre is a specific type of workout designed by the instructor of the DVDs, Carrie Rezabek. She started a workout group and it became popular enough that they thought to release her program onto DVD.

The DVD is $20 on the Pure Barre website, and only $15 on Amazon. Let's see if it's worth the money!

I pop the DVD in and... is this menu screen for real? I am actually concerned that perhaps I have a ripped DVD or some sort of bootleg disc. Luckily I got this from the library so I don't have to worry about getting my money back.

The production has only one camera and will change occasionally so you can see what she's doing. But... the camera! I could do better. They often cut off important parts of her body. Instead of cutting and adjusting the camera for the shot, they'll just zoom in or move the camera... while still shooting. It looks like a bad home video. It doesn't help that when they change angles, the focus is off and does the infamous "shaky cam." There were some shots where they got her back and you could see where her mike was hooked up. Just unpolished and unprofessional.
The camera will cut off her feet, hands, or both.
 Speaking about her mike, The instructor's voice is muddled, but audible. This is probably because she has an attached microphone instead of a boom mike.

Also in regards to sound, the music is extremely repetitive. It wouldn't be too bad if it changed up a little more. One music segment has what sounds like children screaming. I had to stop the video to look out the window and see if kids were outside playing until I realized it was supposed to be part of the music.

I actually really like the setting they picked. I like how they tried to spice up a grey, dreary room with colored lighting. I just wish they did a better job hiding the cords. Seriously, black duct tape will do the job. The only big problem with the setting is that the instuctor is wearing all black, which is hard to see at times against the dark floor, but it's not too bad. Her pants cover her feet, which sucks for a exercise video. Several times I had trouble seeing if she was turning her feet out or not during exercises.
The camera goes out of focus sometimes, especially during close-up shots like this.
Still, she's not a bad instructor at all. She's not ridiculously happy, and it sounds like she knows what she's talking about. She's great at giving cues, too, which helps since I could sometimes not see how her body was angled. She also had some great similes for how to hold your body, but some of them she used and abused multiple times. She mentioned "like you're zipping up your tightest pair of jeans" three times, but I don't even know what that means. All my jeans are super lose. Still, at times, she could be very boring.

As for the workout, the most important part, I loved the mini-barre they had for her to work on. Where did she find that? I sort of want one. But during the barre work, the camera cuts off her feet. Those are sort of kind of important. It's also not really ballet except for the presence of a barre. There are some relevés, splits, and pliés, but that's about it. I don't think this is really a ballet workout, even though the name may imply that.

The workout is also disorganized. After doing some work at the barre, you go to your mat. You're there for at most five minutes before she cuts away and tells you to go back to your barre again. There was hardly anytime for a decent stretch on the ground before you have to get up, put your mat away, pull out your chair or whatever you're using in place of a barre, and then get into position. It was awkward and I didn't like it one bit. Plus, the workout could have used a lot more floor work. I don't like going into splits almost immediately after a couple short stretches.

The exercise is also repetitive and a bit boring. There's nothing to spice it up. You don't even switch legs; you keep working the same leg over and over and then finally switch to the other side. Though it's a great strength-building workout, it doesn't do much to keep my attention. I found myself analyzing the cat hairs on my yoga mat instead. That's forty-three minutes of dullness. But a tough dullness, which makes me say that this is probably not good for beginners. Also, it's mostly strength building. So if you want to build flexibility or have a cardio workout, this is not for you.

The workout really works your thighs and butt mostly. There are some stretches for back, abs, and arms, but it's mostly the butt and thigh area you workout. For a similar, more ballet-oriented workout, just use the Element DVD instead. Still, no to little ballet in this DVD. Just because there's a barre, doesn't mean I'm going to call it a ballet fusion exercise. Still, a decent workout, but something I would recommended passing up. I heard later sequels from the same instructor improve and maybe these have more ballet in them, but this one doesn't.

Workout: 7/10
Instructor: 8/10
Setting: 7/10
Camera: 3/10
Level: Advanced-Expert
Is it actually ballet? No
Overall: 6/10

I deducted points for the boring, repetitive workout, but it saved itself with it's challenging moves. The instructor was decent, but got boring later in the DVD and also wore the wrong type of clothing for an exercise video. The setting was okay, and I gave it credit for effort. The camera was terrible and zoomed in and out slowly to make corrections instead of just re-shooting the scene. But most importantly, there was little to no ballet incorporated into this DVD. From a DVD that said it was a pilates/dance fusion, I expected more. I recommend trying another video from this series.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Review-- Yoga Booty Ballet Master Series

I borrowed this DVD series from my library in hopes that it will live up to its name. So here is one of my last ballet exercise video reviews for awhile, Yoga Booty Ballet - The Master Series. The Master Series is a two-disc set. The first DVD is entitled "Goddess Booty," and the second is called "Yoga Core." Let's see if it does it's title name justice!

Yoga Core
I'm actually going to start the review with the second DVD, Yoga Core, since that is in the order I exercised to them. The disc doesn't have a DVD menu. It pops right into the exercise after a minute or two of warning notices that I'm starting to really hate.

So we start the workout with a brief mediation and then go into some warm-ups. I really dislike the yoga where it feels you're constantly breathing, or the instructors have you do rapid breathing so I skipped over part of it.
The move that incorporates first position arms.
Just as the DVD is titled, the rest of the workout is mostly yoga. They say on the back the exercise is thirty minutes long, and I found that correct, give or take a couple minutes. The workout is light and easy, and it works your back and abs mostly. Sadly, there's no ballet except for a mentioning of pointing the toes and placing arms in first position at one point, though it's not actually called "first position arms." No ballet/yoga fusion here. The workout also combines some pilates with a move called swimming. I would say that this DVD is great for those beginning yoga, pilates, or any time of exercise.
Just keep swimming...
Though I like how they broke down the workout so you can choose how long you want to go or pick an area you wish to focus on, you really need both DVDs to get a decent workout. Plus, they could have easily put both on the same disc, but they divided them up so they can charge you more for them. Given that it says, "As seen on TV," on the cover, these two probably started out selling their product using infomercials.
The instructors use each other to help demonstrate the correct forms.
The instructors are fun and helpful, but I can't shake the idea that the blond looks like Baby Spice. The two instructors interact with each other like they are longtime friends and developed cute names for some of the yoga moves. This is definitely a more light and lighthearted version of an exercise class. But sadly, no ballet at all.

Goddess Booty
The instructors do an "anti-ballet" move where they turn in for resistance.
The exercise is about twenty-five minutes long and works mostly your butt, but also the back and thighs. More ballet moves featured here, but only marginally. They have what they call the anti-ballet move, which is where you turn-in instead of turn-out. This is to build resistance in certain moves you do on the floor. The blond seems to have more ballet training. At one point, the girl with brown hair even mistakes attitude for passé, but the blond later corrects it.

They are really energetic and happy as they workout. The give great instructions for how to complete the moves and often give alternative versions if you have trouble with some exercises. They have their tacky moments, though, like when they say, "Feel your inner beauty rising up, bubbling and sparkling. Feel that inner beauty seeping through your beautiful skin. Gently, open your beautiful eyes." I like how they demonstrate correct form using each other as partners and will have mini (and I do mean mini) funny conversations with each other as they workout.
There's your only ballet, people.
Still, this has barely any ballet in it. I expected a bit more considering that "ballet" is in the title of this entire workout series. I wouldn't even call this an infusion. Just they sometimes use ballet moves. Still, it's not a bad exercise video at all. It's good if you want to do some short exercises without a lot of exercise equipment.

Final Thoughts
Workout: 8/10
Instructor: 10/10
Setting: 8/10
Camera: 10/10
Level: Beginner
Is it actually ballet? No
Overall: 8/10

 I expected a lot more ballet fusion when the word "ballet" is in the title of the exercise series. Still, it's not too bad. The instructors are great. The setting isn't the most inspirational, but it's easy to see the instructors and it isn't distracting. The camera zooms in to show the moves. Still, there isn't any ballet, which is why I'm giving this series an 8 out of 10 possible points.

Next exercise reviews: Pure Barre, Ballet Class for Beginners, and Ballet Boot Camp.
Plus: Jalie sewing pattern review

Friday, January 14, 2011

Capezio Website Still Down... AND Sizing Advice

The official site for Capezio is still down. It's been down for a couple months now. This means that you still can't order directly from their site! Here are the best sites I found for purchasing Capezio brands at a lower cost AND are actually available for purchase:

Amazon's Capezio Dance Store
Discount Dance Supplies

I have ordered from both of these stores and they both deliver on time and accurately. Though I have not purchased from them, there's also:

Capezio Dancewear (I have no idea what the difference is between this link and the link)
6 PM


And here's a huge BUT. Capezio's shoe sizes are wacked up. They say to order your street shoe size, but really, you should order half a size to a full size larger. Materials in the shoe also should be taken into consideration. I find leather stretches more and molds better to your foot than canvas. I recommend a half shoe size larger if you're buying leather, and an entire shoe size larger if they are canvas. Ultimately, you should get your feet fitted for new shoes, but if you're desperate (trust me, I know the feeling) then I recommend you start there.

Also, do not sew the elastic on or cut it in anyway. The shoe should fit like a sock. No toes should be curled in the front of the foot. The heel should be comfortably in the back. You can tighten the elastic a little, but it shouldn't need too much coaxing. If you alter the shoe, you cannot return it to try a different size, so don't think that fixing the elastic and such will correct any errors. If you still are unsure if the shoes are not the correct size, try going into relevé and try a couple sauté. If your feet feel tired or ache, they are probably too tight. If your shoes feel as if they are going to come off, they are loose. Just take good judgment when choosing a shoe and listen to your feet.

Capezio tights, on the other hand, are pretty much spot on. Since they are tights, there's always room for stretching and such, so it's not as big of a disaster as when you buy the wrong size of shoes. I bought the transition tights from Capezio in a size S/M. This size is perfect for me. The sizing chart on the back is accurate in my opinion so make sure to check it before you buy.

Picture of the back. I find this accurate sizing.
Though I have not tried Capezio's dancewear, Discount Dance is running a special on selected leotards. If they are unavailable on their website, check the Amazon link. This is also supported by Discount Dance and I sometimes find they have different items available.
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