Welcome to the first post of my new feature, Bloggers Beyond Books! A couple of months ago, I was playing some video games when a thought occurred to me, “I wonder what other bloggers do when they’re not reading books or blogging.” I know there are other bloggers out there that share my love for video games, and others that have different hobbies and passions. I wanted to get to know what else bloggers are into, and thus this feature was born! 🙂
If you’ve got a non-bookish hobby or passion, and you’re up for being interviewed, let me know!
My first interviewee is the lovely Emily from Reader Rising, who immediately stepped up when I asked for people to interview. We’ll be talking about the wonderful art of ballet! Read on for chit-chat about posture, backstage shenanigans, and resources for other ballet enthusiasts!
Welcome to the blog, Emily! I’m super excited to interview you for the first Bloggers Beyond Books feature. So, aside from reading books, I heard that you enjoy ballet. How did you get into ballet?
It is so awesome to be on the blog! Thanks for having me Ana!
I’ve been in ballet since I was three. I am not sure exactly how I came to be at my first class. However, I am guessing it was under the influence of my mom who did ballet in high school and college. Also, I was a child who was always (and I mean always) moving and skipping around so dance class was the perfect activity for 3 year old me! Anyway, I went to my first class and loved it! I’ve been taking ballet ever since.
Whoa, since you were three? You must have come a long way since then. How did doing ballet influence you as you grew up? Like, were you more graceful or had a better sense of rhythm, or something like that, perhaps?
Over the years, ballet has affected me in a lot of ways! For example, ballet has influenced the way I walk. After only a few years of ballet, people started to notice that I walked differently than the rest of my peers. I doubt the way I walk will ever be considered normal and will be a little attention-drawing for most of my life. In fact, today, three people at my school commented on how I walk and generally hold myself! When I walk, I have really good posture, my feet turn out slightly, my legs take long steps, and I hold my head up so I rarely look down.
Also, I do have a pretty good sense of rhythm! Sometimes I will walk in the exact same rhythm of a friend who is walking with me, and I frequently find myself counting song’s beats in my head.
That sounds good for your body, holding yourself up and keeping your neck and spine happy. Now that you mentioned songs, what kind of songs do you dance to? Do you pick mainly the classics or have you done something where you incorporated ballet moves into a modern dance routine?
At home, I dance to any songs I can get my hands on. Currently, I’ve been liking the Frozen sound track, Meant, and Radioactive! I can manage to incorporate ballet into a lot of songs! (Especially since I am fairly clueless when it comes to modern dance! What else am I to do?) At class, I dance to mostly classical music. The exception is the week before Christmas when we do all our exercises and bar to The Polar Express soundtrack! However, my studio has also done a few ballets based on movies or other types of stories such as Mary Poppins and Wizard of Oz, along with a slew of others! The music felt quite different!
Oh, the Frozen soundtrack! How awesome would a Frozen ballet be? I think seeing a ballet routine set to Radioactive would be cool too. You mentioned these ballets based on stories, what are the ones that you were a part of? And if you could narrow it down, what was your favourite to dance in?
A Frozen ballet would be sooooo awesome and would have AMAZING costumes! Anyway, I’ve been a part of quite a few shows! My favorite ballets I have danced in would have to be Coppelia, The Nutcracker and Mary Poppins! The parts I had in those shows were awesome! (Another show I loved performing in was Amahl and the Night Visitors, although that wasn’t technically ballet.)
I’ve heard of The Nutcracker and Mary Poppins, but I’ve never heard of Coppelia! What’s that ballet about? What makes it your favourite ballet to have performed in?
Ooh, Coppelia is amazing! The ballet is about a girl named Swanhilda and a doll called Coppelia. Everyone in the town thinks that Coppelia is a real girl after seeing her in the doll shop window “reading” and Swanhilda’s fiance develops a tiny crush on the doll. Swanhilda bursts into the shop in a jealous rage and hilarity, magic, and dancing ensues! I loved Coppelia since I got to play a doll in the shop, was on stage for most of the second act, and got to perform in a flouncy dress. I even got to move my arms and legs in doll-like positions. Also, the music was lively and a joy to dance to!
That sounds like a really fun play to be in, also because flouncy dresses are so fun to swish around. For all your performances, I’m sure you had to do a lot of behind-the-scenes work, like costumes and performances. Can you give me an idea of how the behind-the-scenes of a ballet goes, from conception to performance?
Wow! I could go on forever on this topic, but I’ll condense it 😉 The first part of a performance is learning the choreography and costume fittings, which takes around two months. We have two all-cast rehearsals in the studio. Then, we have the days of the shows. The dancers get to the theatre early in the morning and warm-up. Then, we have all-cast rehearsals, and get used to being on stage. The beginning of this day is filled with last-minute costume moderations, billows of make-up, and a lot of sore muscles. When it is time for performance, stress and excitement run high below the stage in the cramped dressing rooms. We always have those heightened stressful moments such as when the snow queen loses her crown or the sugar plum queen pukes. (The show must go on!) Girls are doing harried costume changes in the wings with the stage help directing the music, curtains, and props. Oh, and the dancers on stage at the time keep the audience entertained 😀 Performances are an amazing experience!
Wow! Okay, I probably should have made that question a two-parter. That is a lot of stuff that goes on behind the scenes. Do you have any funny stories of backstage hijinks like the snow queen losing her crown, as you said? Did you ever feel like the incident was a complete disaster at the time, but looked back and laughed because it was funny in hindsight?
There have been so many moments involving backstage and onstage disasters (with me or other people) but I’ll tell you my personal favorite. One time (In Nutcracker) I was in mouse scene, and I had to RUSH onto stage without securing my ears very well. Then, of course, my ears fell off during a backwards somersault! Thankfully, I was able to pick the ears off the ground in the process of getting back up and I hid them behind my back for the rest of the scene. I was younger and silently FREAKING out! Two other mice and I were the last one on stage after the Mouse King died, and we did a little performance where we did a few moves and “cried”. Then, I RAN off stage, still holding my ears behind my back. It was so embarrassing and “a disaster” at the time, but now I can laugh at it!
Oh no! That does sound hilarious, but I would have been freaking out if my costume malfunctioned. It’s great that you were able to keep your cool and let the show go on. What lessons have doing ballet taught you? I don’t mean technique or form, but lessons applicable to your everyday life. You mentioned the wonders it did for your posture, but what about things like patience or determination?
In 4th grade, I decided I was going to be able to slip into splits by the end of summer. I stretched super hard, and very frequently, and soon could do the splits! That was when I learned that determination and hard work pays off, and I have applied that knowledge to everything: school, ballet, and even blogging. To master a move or particularly tricky dance, or to overcome a challenge in everyday life, it takes a lot of determination and the willpower not to give up. I read a quote somewhere that was along the lines of “Just keep trying and trying until you can’t fail!” and that really sums up what I’ve learned from ballet. Wow, that answer was so cheesy! 😀
Cheesy, but totally applicable to life. That’s great, Emily! When you’re not doing ballet or blogging or reading, what do you enjoy doing? I know you like TV shows, what have you been keeping up with?
Ooh, I love Avatar: The Last Airbender (This one has actually ended!), Downtown Abbey, and The Hart of Dixie!!! Also, I’ve been attempting to catch up on Psyche! Currently, I haven’t been keeping up with much other than a few, but there are so many shows I want to start!
So many shows, so little time! Just like books, haha! So we’re almost at the end of this interview, and before this ends, do you have any links or resources or tips for people interested in ballet?
As far as advice goes, I say that if you want to do ballet, by golly, get yourself to your local ballet studio to try out a class. Ballet is loads of fun! Then, I have two small tips. After your first ballet class, stretching should become your new best friend. Secondly, your first few classes will be hard and confusing. Don’t sweat it, your body will adapt and the routines will seem much less confusing after a few weeks!
Thank you for the links and tips, Emily! For any of the lovely readers who are interested, check them out! Now, for the last question for the lovely Emily. Do you have anything else to say before this interview ends? It’s your spot, say whatever you like, from your other hobbies or a plug for your blog. You’re on, Emily!
Ooh, I get to say whatever I’d like? Choices, choices, choices. I want to say thank you Ana for hosting this awesome interview! You are so awesome! I had so much fun! Also, thank you to anyone who has read this interview! Bye!
I’m so excited for this feature, everyone! Again, thank you to Emily for being my first interviewee. Look out in the coming weeks for more interviews!