Sharing the struggles and celebrating the triumphs of being African American in the ballet world and beyond.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Lessons From My Past

Don't judge the pose, this hill was huge! LOL

I have recently been asked lots of questions regarding improvements on technique and training. As I thought about my responses, it made me reflect on my mindset as a beginner and how I have grown.

As I have discussed earlier, I started taking my ballet training seriously much later than most. It was for this reason that I began to pursue ways in which to improve upon my weaknesses. Besides working harder in my classes, I began to search outside the dance studio. I began with taking Pilates, Gyrotonics and a bit of Bikram Yoga from time to time. I began taking a more focused and controlled approach, away from the studio, to be my overall method of conditioning.

It wasn't until I stepped away from dance for a bit and began pursuing a Pilates career of my own, that I began to look at my body and technique very differently. If I had only known then what I know now! Looking back, my results never seemed to match the amount of effort I was exerting. I thought if I just kept cramming in more Pilates, Yoga and Gyrotonic sessions, things would improve. However, my struggles weren't due to my instructors, but rather my lack of understanding as to how to apply their instructions.  I also think that my own insecurities and feelings of inadequacy inhibited my progress. A positive state of mind is the first step to self-improvement.

Personal struggles aside,  I want to focus on what I have learned. Educate, educate and educate! Educate yourself on how your own unique body works. Understand what makes you different and learn how to use that uniqueness to your benefit. Ask yourself: How do I achieve the optimal classical form, while protecting my body from injury? I had the work ethic and determination, but I needed a better understanding of my body and how to improve it. Here are two great books that I would highly recommend.

There are certainly other wonderful books on the market. I read Eric Franklin's book and found it extremely helpful.  Each of these books can be purchased on Eric also has his own website where you can find other helpful literature.

This is the type of information I wish I had before stepping into a Pilates, Gyrotonics or Yoga class. These alternative forms of conditioning are always helpful, especially if you have a good instructor. I didn't find a real deep connection with my work until I educated myself further, and in doing so I was able to approach my art with a deeper understanding.

In Memory of...

I thought it was only fitting to dedicate this particular blog post to Kathleen Stanford Grant. I never had the honor and privilege of working with her, but I have heard many great things and have studied her work quite a bit while going through my Pilates certification.

Grant was a dancer, choreographer and arts administrator before she was a Pilates teacher. She is considered a Pilates elder and is very well known and respected throughout the Pilates and dance community.

A bio of Ms. Grant's life can be found on the Pilates Pro website.


From the blog A Black Girl's Guide to Weight Loss

I thought I would share this blog with those who haven't seen it yet. I am always happy to see women of color taking care of themselves and choosing to live healthier lifestyles. This young woman has already been featured in Essence magazine, but I thought I would give her a shout out nonetheless. She lost over 140lbs in a little over a year!

Something extra...

I thought this article in Clutch was interesting. It takes a look at Yoga in the black community.

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