tips & tricks

Labor day parties have been had and hungover, the first brisk evening of the season greeted us last night here in RI, and like it or not we are more than a week into September.  Do you know what that means?  Back to school ballet!  With the new season fast approaching, I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite tips and tricks for making studio life a bit easier.

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1. Bent Bobby Pins.  To create Wendy Darling’s intricate braided hairstyle for Peter Pan last season, mucho de bobby pins were stuck into my head.  The only thing was, the pesky little braids kept slipping out from under those teeny metal mouths.  Thank goodness my dressing room buddy/long time role model, Emily Bromberg of Miami City Ballet, showed me this trick.  We took all of my bobby pins and bent them a bit in the middle, creating a slight arch that tightens the middle of the pin and makes it very difficult for hair to slip through.  If you have straight hair light mine, this trick is especially helpful!  The design also works even better if you use the pins the way they are actually supposed to be used, flat side up, contrary to popular belief that the ridged side sits on top.

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2. Rescue Remedy Spray.  I have never been a nervous dancer.  Save for my one experience doing Solo Girl in Agon two seasons ago, stage fright has kept its distance from me throughout my entire dancing career, which I credit mostly to my competition-baby past.  But even though I’m not freaking out, throwing up or losing sleep before a big performance, that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t appreciate a little extra relaxation prior to hitting the stage.  A few of my friends swear by Bach’s Rescue Remedy, and last season I finally gave in and decided to try it.  I was amazed by how much more control I felt on stage!  My pirouettes were smoother and my cheeks were much less shaky- a strange side effect to being tense that I never thought I’d get rid of.  A few spritzes on the tongue 20 minutes before a performance, and you’re cool as a cucumber!  Just don’t go overboard- this stuff does contain a small amount of alcohol, and nobody wants to be drunk in a tutu…pick it up at Whole Foods or any health food store.

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3. 2nd Skin Squares.  These little puppies save my life when blister or corn disasters strike.  They are technically burn pads, but these rubbery blue squares work wonders for all types of raw ballerina foot ailments.  And they are super cheap on Amazon.  Grab a tub of these and you’ll be the most popular girl in the locker room.

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4. The Tights Bra.  There is no way to make this thing look attractive, but boy does it make magic happen.  For bustier bunheads like myself, the average leotard just does not offer adequate support.  Take an old(ish, but not too stretched out) pair of tights and cut off the legs, leaving yourself a bit of length to work with.  Following the shape of your favorite leotard neckline, cut out the top of your bra, using the crotch area as a head hole.   Remember to be careful, those straps will thin out as soon as you put it on, so always go slightly thicker than you’d like.  Pop this guy on underneath your leotard and BOOM.  Sturdier bust.  Those babies are down for the count.  You’re welcome.

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