Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Ballet Week - Tuesday Memory

Okay, my trip down the memory lane continues. Time for those first years of my Real Ballet epoch, starting at the age of 6,5... And I want to remind everyone - Ballet Week is an idea I got from Hannah's Blog.
I'm sharing a memory or two every day, for one week. It's actually quite fun! :)

I remember certain things very clearly. As we did routines with one hand on the barre, the other wasn't on second position. Or it was half way there. The elbow was up, but fingers gently on our shoulders. I think it was a very good way of learning how to keep that elbow there, up I mean. (Later on the hand on the side was of course on second.) 

Another thing was ballet polka. It was one of our favorites! We did it en diagonale, not facing the corner but our side that way. And variation 1 (the easier) was to polka our way to the other corner without changing from side  to the other. Variation 2: change sides, but not a whole turn. Later on, var. 3: change sides with a whole turn. 

Also we liked the small jumps. Don't remember how many of us there were in our class, but we stood in 2 rows. Then it was 8 jumps 1st row, 8 jumps 2nd row. FUN!!!

My very first "leotard" was like this, but I used it only in the children's dance classes. (Photo from Piruetti webstore)

The first shows I was in, we had usually 1 coreography. I remember some of them, but not all. And unfortunately not the exact order... But here are some details:
  • The Chinese Dance - Who can guess our music? ;D Well yes, it was from the Nutcracker. I've actually done it twice. First time round I was part of a huge dragon! Not the head luckily, it was a really heavy thing... Second time we didn't have the dragon, only the small Chinese folks. I remember we once performed it (the 2nd version) in the town library. Pinkish kind of satin jacket and capri length pants, bordered with black-yellow-green ribbons. And the white shoes.
  • The Elephants - of course from Saint-Saëns's "Carnival of the Animals". Big grey ears, loooooong grey legwarmers (all the way from ankle - up to the groins. And a tail. But no trunk :D There are photos also from this, just need to be scanned. Oh I forgot! White shoes! White leo!
  • Pizzicato - music by Strauss (one of them...), a Pizzicato Polka or something. Have to dig it from youtube. White leo, white tights, white ankle socks with lace, white soft shoes.
  • Morning Mood - yeeeeees, music from Grieg's "Peer Gynt". I have couple photos from it somewhere. We had our hair open, with small curls in it, small fabric roses attached. White leo, No shoes, a lovely white chiffon tunic with some satin ribbons on other shoulder. And a chiffon scarf to swish around with!
  • Some kind of doll dance??? - don't remember the music nor the moves, but the costume! We still had the white leo, white tights, but a light blue long-sleeved "jacket" with white decorations. And a white "pill shaped" hat! ...aaaand the white shoes. I think. (At this point I think we had already started with the pointe shoes, but didn't perform with them.)

My second leo was like this. Except the color (white). And in the first version there was a piece of fabric/ribbon over the pinch in front. Later on (as we bought bigger version) it was like here. But NO skirts ever...  (Photo from Piruetti webstore)

My first ballet shoes (the softies) were white. We all had white, until in teen years some had black. But it was Rare... In the beginning we had one elastic ribbon sewn over the foot, later it was cotton ribbons (like the satins we had in pointes). These days almost no-one has ribbons in their soft shoes. Last Autumn I put ribbons in the Black Shoes I got, but after the first pair I've sticked with double elastics crossed over the foot. Nice and firm. Also I used to have full sole shoes, we all did. Always. These days - no-one. I do like the split sole more, have to agree. But back in the 80's and 90's we Did Not Know there was such thing as split sole! Our town had ballet shoes in 2 places, then only in 1. And not much in either one of those shops. 

Almost like this. But the sole wasn't stiched like that under the toes... Have to check from that one Old Pair I've still got :) (Photo from

What kind of tights? Well. Just white ones from any shop or store. No ballet-brand needed. Except that once we needed pink And white ones, and were recommended to order them from Piruetti. But they were almost the same as our old ones, just pricier. Also during my teen years I think I always had white tights. I'm not absolutely sure. Some had black ones, but not many. These days, you just name the color and we have it. (And I like it ;))

Could have been our class :) ...though we didn't have a piano in the corner (or at all). (Photo from

More reminiscing coming up tomorrow! :)


  1. Hi Iepukka!

    It´s really lovely reading about your early ballet memories. I never had dance classes as a child, so it´s almost like remembering ballet vicariously ;)

    About those split soles..They are a fairly new invention, and I know for a fact that most teachers do not recommend them for beginning students. Especially not kids. A full sole gives your foot extra resistance to work against.

    About those ribbons.. I think many vocational schools still use them, especially before you go on pointe.

    Ballet tights last longer than regular store brands. They also don´t have that extra denier around your upper thighs and the gusset is smaller (and cotton-lined). But I use black legiings anyway. :)

    So many performances! How I envy you.. Hope you find some sweet photos to share with us!

    - Johanna

  2. Hi!

    And thanks for the details about those soles. I've been thinking about it many times :) I've seen also pointes with split soles, but they looked really weird to my eye... Also the ribbon-thing sounds reasonable, I mean to get used to them before pointes. As I've been observing some pointe-beginners (young girls) and their ribbon-experiences, it takes SO much time for them to learn how to get them right. (And also to get them on, basically.)

    The Intermezzo convertible tights I've got now are super-duper-comfortible! Otherwise I don't like wearing tights (in everyday life), they always fall :D

    I'm really trying to get the scanning done this week, it's been waiting So Long.