Archive | Dance RSS feed for this section

Pretty ballet skirts.

15 Mar

I made a few ballet skirts last year as part of my sewing for dance teaching. Behold this oh so pretty satin charmeuse ballet wrap skirt.

I bought the leotard online, such a pretty leotard! And, wised up by the too-small black one, I made sure the one I bought actually fitted me. But the colour is a bit unusual and I didn’t have much that ‘worked’ with it. Again I went to Spotlight and auditioned many fabrics. This charmeuse won hands down. So pretty!  When you’re the ballet student in a traditional ballet school like where I do class, (not teach) skirts are supposed to be a bit translucent, like a georgette or a heavy chiffon, but since this was for teaching in my own school with my own rules, a solid fabric was fine ;-P

I had this idea I wanted to do some ballet photography. Couldn’t find a ballet dancer who wanted to be the subject so I used myself. I only have my phone camera which has this stupidly crazily frustratingly long focus time before it takes the photo. This is me discovering how hard it is to hold a perfectly still fifth position releve en pointe. It actually requires tiny little adjustments to not fall over, which blur the photo, or end up with you looking like you have lousy technique. Eh. Wotevs. I had fun trying!

I have also become the proud owner of my very own orange ballet skirt, sadly un-photographed. The photo below is of me wearing one of my school (Where I go for lessons, not teaching!) skirts. That’s the black leotard before I refashioned it. Nice, but too tight lengthways. Makes port de bra (ie waving the arms round prettily) difficult. I forgot to take my own chiffon skirt to class on day. The teacher found this skirt for me in the props cupboard. What a glorious orange! So I went to Spotlight and found (almost) the same colour and made a nice little orange wrap skirt of my own. Nice!

Behold how shiny and un-used my pointe shoes are? They’re much scruffier now after some good few hours on the floor working in them!

The wrap skirt pattern is a rub-off of a black chiffon wrap skirt I bought years ago through my teacher. I had asked her if I could borrow one of the skirts she had for students, to get the pattern from to make myself one. My teacher explained that one of the Ballet Mums made them and sold them for a few extra $$$. Ok, I got the point. I totally understood the value of the handmade skirts and mums needing a bit of extra $$$ for the family budget. I paid my $15 and bought one. However that was over a decade ago. I suspect Ballet Mum’s dancers might be grown-ups now! So I figured she wouldn’t object to me taking a pattern from her skirt and also her neat, quick construction methods to churn out my own. It very neatly cuts out of 1m x 1.12m of fabric. Though it too, is designed for small people. I’m sure mine was the largest size available. I want to grade it to a bigger skirt for people who aren’t shaped the way dance-clothes designers assume they must be.

I have heaps of dance gear I’m planning on sewing this year. Got all the fabrics, just need a big cutting-out session. Dancewear is generally quite quick to whip up, which is nice! High satisfaction return for input. A few dresses to put over my good leotards, a few more dance shorts, and some swishy knit tops for doing pilates in. Try  my hand at leotards. I made one when I first started ballet, like 25 yrs ago when I was 15. But none since! Should be fun. Right? Right!

Advertisements

No day without a line

9 Nov

‘Remember the painter’s advice to his pupils: Nulla dies sin linea – No day without a line. Nothing is of greater importance than practise.’

From ‘The Manual and theory of Classical Theatrical Dancing (Cecchetti Method)’ by Cyril W Beaumont and Stanislas Idzikowske.

I’m studying for my Ballet teaching qualifications in the Cecchetti school of classical ballet, hence reading ‘The Manual’ as it is affectionately known. The quote got me thinking about all the lines in my life – lines of singing; a line of violin music, the line of the strings and the lines of the bow; a line of written music. Lines of the body in dancing. Lines of dancing interwoven with lines of music. Thousands and thousands of lines of writing and reading.

Oh wait, this is a sewing blog! A line of stitching, a line of pattern, a line of cutting and of course, the inescapable – lines of unpicking ;-P

But the quote is also about practise, and practise is a habit as much as anything else. I’m so out of the habit of blogging about my sewing. I’ve been concentrating so hard on my dance teaching and study this year that the sewing blogging’s fallen by the wayside, especially with the grief of losing Hattie and the strong association she had with my sewing blogging. You know, it’s been over a year, and finally in the past month or so I’ve been able to look at a photo of her without curling up in hurt. So I’m going to celebrate this with a picture of her! Look at her dear little face! And her skull and crossbones name tag, which suited her personality so well!

 

Ok, that’s all I can tolerate for the moment. Moving on hastily … I also started a ballet blog. It was supposed to be the ‘landing page’ for my dance teaching, but in reality the facebook page does that job.

It’s a lot of work to upkeep 2 blogs and one facebook page. I’ve been contemplating closing down the sewing blog and concentrating on the ballet blog. Or vice versa? Lots of lines of thought about my different options!

But all those lines of thought brought me back to the reason I started this blog. I loved reading about other people’s experience of sewing – why they sew what they sew, what challenges they have, how they solved them. And my favourite, the piccies of the outcomes. I wanted to give something back to the online sewing community that I’d gotten so much from. I think these reasons still stand. I might, however, focus more on the whys than the whats though. Just change my focus a tad, see if that is more to my liking.

And getting back to the lines in my life, and the habit of practise, keeping a blog is as much a habit as anything else. I’m going to work to get back into the habit of posting. I’ll aim for once a fortnight. If that’s a bit much I’ll try for every 3 weeks.

As for my ballet blog, while I’m working through what to do with this blog, I also want to work out what I’m doing with my ballet blog. The next few paragraphs aren’t about sewing ok? You’ve been warned 😛 But if anyone has any input about blogs, or online business presence – or even dance writing(!) – I’d love to hear 🙂

Since the blog isn’t doing the job I started it for, do I continue with it? I don’t really know what I want to say through it. I don’t want to write ‘how to do ballet’ stuff. The internet is stuffed with social media covering that. *pfft* No need for me to re-invent the wheel.
I had intended to explore ballet photography, but it hasn’t worked. My phone camera is extremely limiting and I don’t have enough $$ to buy a decent camera. My students aren’t keen on having their pictures taken. I can take pictures of me but … There’s a limit to what I want to put online. Me in clothes I’ve sewn doesn’t seem to worry me. But the dance stuff…? There’s … well, what’s out there is so ‘perfect’, with almost no normal everyday imperfect photos Sewing blogs quite a strong culture of being straightforward and honest about your sewing experiences and your body.
With ballet, I fear that anything I post that’s not ‘perfect’ will open myself up to the vitriol that is out there on the internet, especially against women. It feels like the equivalent of putting online photos of the lingerie you’ve made yourself, ON yourself, with your face clearly showing. In spite of the culture of honesty, most sewing bloggers aren’t prepared to do that. I suspect that’s also why my students aren’t keen on having their photos taken and put on my blog. Essentially, we don’t feel safe enough to put such incredibly personal images of ourselves and our bodies online.

What use then for my ballet blog? Every so often I find something I want to explore. Like the concept of lines. And the concept of the different lines of writing-style between the authors of the different textbooks, which would be my next post if I continue the blog. Then there are just more fun things out there. The more light-hearted side of dance.

There’s also fair bit of crossover between the two blogs. I’m doing a lot of sewing of dance gear. For eg, I chopped up a too-small leotard and added a skirt and cute sleevy-things out of ‘dry knit’ from Spotlight, to create an as-yet unblogged-about ballet-teaching dress. When mum my Reluctant Photographer took photos for this blog she snapped this shot which I think of as my Degas photo. That slight rounding of the shoulders and upper back of a dancer ‘off-duty’, expressive of the fatigue from working so hard is a … well, a line (!) of body I see often in ballet classes. I love how Degas captures the realities of dance. I love how mum captured that in my own stance. Definitely a crossover of concepts between dance and sewing there!

The Ballet Rehearsal on Stage - Edgar Degas - www.edgar-degas.org

 

So maybe I do have things to say on a ballet blog. Just not a huge amount. With my sewing blog there has been plenty of times where I’ve averaged one post a month. I figure that would be just fine for my ballet blog too. Having a goal is always helpful.

We’ll see, I guess.

Tanit-Isis’s Grecian dress goes tangoing

4 Oct

A few months ago I was looking for something different to wear to tango practicas. I had 3m of blue-and-white 1″ gingham, and an afternoon. I’ve been admiring Tanitisis’s Grecian Sundress which I’d pinned on my pinterest sewing boards. There was another, similar dress I’d pinned that was basically a long rectangle with a slit for the head/neckline. I decided to go for Tanitisis‘s dress because I’ve got quite marked sloping shoulders, and I thought her dress was less likely to fall off me. And I loved the gathers across the shoulders too. I downloaded it, stuck the pattern together (I’m getting really quick at that these days!) cut the dress out and sewed it up, all in time for the Tango Practica early that evening. Pretty darned good eh?

  • Fabric/trims/notions used
cotton/polyester gingham in blue and white
  • Inspiration

I wanted something different for practising dance in, not the usual shorts and t-shirt style.

  • Construction notes

Sooooo easy. I didn’t do the shirring, I’ve never done shirring before and I didn’t want to fiddle about learning it, I just wanted the dress done. I think I’ll go back and do the shirring as I think the gathers would sit better than the lace sash I used in the photo.

The fitting for the bust was pretty genius, actually – simply make longer or shorter in the front along the shoulder edge to suit. I made mine a little bit bigger and it hung well on me, ie wasn’t pulling up at the front hem to compensate for my bust.

I love the shoulder gathering but I think I gathered mine a bit too tight. I think looser so it falls a bit further over the shoulder would look a bit better.

  • Last word

Thankyou so much for the pattern (And free too!) Tanitisis! I really appreciate the generosity of the online sewing community!

I had my camera set to take a series of photos, so here are some action shots of me trying out some Argentinian Tango ‘ochos’ in the dress. Tying the sash (first picture) isn’t part of a tango ocho, but costume adjustment form such a part of dancing I put it here anyway 😀

 

Opinions requested (again ;-P)

15 Nov

First of all, thankyou to everyone who gave me their opinion on whether to shorten my grey pinafore or not. I am pretty sure I will take the hem up, as was the general consensus. I confess, however, I am wearing it today still long, not having gotten round to the big chop yet. You see, I just wanted to wear it today. It is so comfy…

But I do intend to take it up 😀

And, so, what’s she up to now, you wonder? Getting sidetracked from schoolhouse tunic-inspired sewing by crocheting a huge doily, is what. Well, ok, it is a shawl inspired by a doily, apparently. My friend over at Studio Pyraxis commented it looks like a butterfly wing. So true! The pattern is from Caron International, clicking on the picture will take you there.

 

One of my dance dresses is the most boring black thing you’ve ever seen, but not long ago I realised I could dress it up to the nines for a tango Milonga with a scarf around the waist, suitable jewellery and hair ornaments. (A revolutionary idea, I know! But forgive my being so slow on the uptake. I find interesting garments the most fun to sew, thus most numerous in my wardrobe.)

But what kind of scarf to dress it up with? I thought something like the above shawl in the classic latin red fine crochet cotton.

Off to Spotlight I went, and returned with cotton (a lot of cotton, to be precise) shaded like this … (Here crocheted into the first 6 rows of the huge doily pineapple shawl.)

 

 

While cutting out the schoolhouse tunic-inspired tunic dress (what a long phrase!) I realised the red of the fabric and the darker red of the cotton work beautifully together. Actually though, when I look at it in this photo, they look quite different, but I think that is due to the way the light coming off the different textures affected the camera. The reds are close enough that I suddenly envisioned my new tunic-dress with a wide band of crochet in this cotton along the hem. Preferably in a medallion-type, fairly geometrical pattern that echoes the fabric design. I’ll have more than enough cotton left over for it.But! but but but! do the two work well enough together? If you trust me on the darker red cotton matching the red in the fabric, the rest of the colours are fairly true to reality in this photo, though the fabric’s beige is a tad softer.

When I look at it, I see sadly that the light bits of the cotton are pink, and the light bits of the fabric are beige. Nonetheless, they certainly don’t clash. But I’d rather not put lots of effort into making a band specially for a dress only to find it doesn’t work. I suspect it would be more effective, and less like a random add-on if I also put a narrow edging of crochet around the neckline as well.

So…. what do you guys think?

Dance wardrobe project: Intro

7 Oct

I admit it. I am Dance Mad. Always have been, always will. For the past 7 yrs Argentinian tango has lit my life. A few years ago I started learning salsa too, just for the sheer fun of all those turns and spins.

After all this time to acquire a dance wardrobe, I can usually find something decent to wear for the monthly Tango Milonga, though there is certainly room for improvement. However, salsa is a different story. My salsa wardrobe is … well, non-existent, really.

Thus, I am doing a Dance Wardrobe Project.

What do I want out of it?

A dance outfit needs to:

  • highlight the dancer’s movement in an attractive way
  • not restrict movement
  • have the dancer be confident her clothes won’t undo/fly open/buttons pop/cleavage fall out
  • looks good when soaked in sweat (hey I know, an icky subject but oh such an unavoidable reality)
  • not show the world the colour of the dancer’s undies (ok, so call me old-fashioned, I don’t care if I am!)

A dance wardrobe ideally consists of:

  • plenty of variety as I dance so often
  • things that look good on me
  • garments that are easy to clean and store
  • outfits that don’t require thought or fuss to pull together before I go out
  • clothes that all look good with all my dance shoes and hair accessories
  • preferably clothes will also work well at tango practicas and salsa lessons (though most streetwear is fine for these)

Heh… clothes that highlight the dance movements flatteringly, don’t restrict movement, don’t reveal too much. Right. A huge ask! These needs manifest differently in each style of dance.

Salsa outfit specifics

Salsa tends to have a lot of turning, spinning, the arms are raised over the head frequently, articulation of rib-cage and hips. Because it is partner dancing, the woman often facing the partner, the back and side detailing of the clothes is at least as important as the front detailing.
Here is a gratuitous vid of salsa dancing a vid to show what I mean.

http://e.dancejam.com/v1/Cb2TRrQz

Watch Salsa videos and dance lessons at DanceJam.com

Hmmm, if that doesn’t work out, go check it out at the website while I try to work out how to embed videos here.And here is another lovely salsa video, just for good measure.

Tango has noticeably different requirements. There is more focus on leg movements (though they aren’t considered polite when on a crowded dance floor – taking out a fellow dancer with a giant gancho just isn’t cricket, you know :-P). The dancer mostly faces her partner so back detail is important, as is side detail. (So many dresses that would otherwise be perfect for tango, have eyecatching detail on the front and plain, boring backs. Such a shame.) Arm movements are minimal. And there are no quick spins so the risk of the undies on show is a lot less than in salsa.

For your delectation here are some gorgeous tango vids. A bit of soul candy. This first one reminds me of Dance Week’s “streets of dance”, organised by Ausdance NT a few years back, where dancers seemingly at random started dancing in cafes and on sidewalks. I and my partner were two of the “random” tango dancers 🙂 The expressions on the chance-audience’s faces were magical!

And another, further away, but gives a different view of tango.



Next post is The Game Plan (finishing up on this one mainly because I want to post this and go get some dinner and see if those videos were embedded properly). Oh, and the next salsa social is tomorrow and I have to get sewing…

%d bloggers like this: