Here’s an uplifting post from Ballet Virginia company member and Children’s Program teacher, Casey Shephard. She’s as beautiful inside and she is outside.
Children’s Program at Ballet Virginia is back in full swing. COVID-19 shook the world earlier this year and as time went on I think we all began to wonder if life would ever get back to normal. Luckily, BV was so determined to keep dance alive in Hampton Roads that it was not a question of “if we can go back to dance” , but instead it was a question of “how can we go back to dance as quickly and safely as possible”.
Back in April, it was such a relief for me to be able to see my amazing Children’s Program students through Zoom but I was so hopeful that come fall I would be able to see my little dancers in the studio. Thankfully, my hopes were confirmed due to the determination of the BV faculty, the teachers, the parents, and of course the students.
Between mask wearing, classes with limited capacity, temperatures being checked at the door, organized parent pick up, constant sanitization, and creating 6 feet perimeter hoops for each student to dance in, all of these moving parts made in-person classes a reality. These past few weeks may not have looked like the normal “Back to Dance” experience of the past but I, along with many others, are just thrilled that it is happening at all.
Additionally, I have been blown away by the Children’s Program’s students positivity and grace with all these new changes. As a company dancer, I understand the difficulty returning back to dancing after dancing at home for months and having to work to regain strength and technique, all while wearing a mask. However, my younger students have inspired me so much! They aren’t discouraged or irritated with not being able to jump as high, turn as much, or perform grand battement as high as they used to. Instead, they are ecstatic to be back in a studio dancing with teachers and friends. Their ability to fully relish the joy of movement, despite the current situation, has been so beautiful to witness as an instructor. They have motivated me to focus on being grateful and adaptable during this crazy time.
One big way I’ve been adapting is through of my newest venture, The Ballerina Bows Blog & Website. The name is inspired by my favorite ballet bun accessory and something my students love to comment on, a bow! During quarantine I found myself missing human connection, especially in the dance world. I was always wanting to be back with my fellow company members, teaching my young ballet dancers, and even talking with BV parents and audience members. So, I wanted to find a way to continue to share and reach out to others even if I cannot be with them physically. Thus, the website was born! The past couple months have been so much fun as I’ve been creating content and writing blogs to share some of my advice for everything in the world of dance, from beauty, health, fitness to fashion. Not only have I had an outlet to share with my friends, family, and supporters, but I’ve actually been able to meet new friends in the ballet community and even speak with some of my favorite dancers in dance-related businesses. I’m excited to keep the website growing and to continue to inspire others in the world of dance, just as I have been so inspired by my incredible Children’s Program family at Ballet Virginia.
This helpful post is from one of our new Company dancers, Hayley-Ann Vasco. She is a BV alumni and will also be teaching in the Academy this year.
We are so excited to have our students back in the studios! 2020 certainly is presenting a few new challenges, but we are ready for our dancers to come back safely and to get back to doing what they love.
Here are four ways to help your dancer prepare for the start of the 2020-2021 academy year.
1-Help Them Be Dress Code Ready
- This includes having properly fitting leotards, tights, and shoes and the hair should be in a classical ballet bun. Often, new dancers aren’t sure of how a leotard should fit- which sometimes leads to students dancing in items that are too big. For younger children in between sizes, it is okay to have a small bit of looseness in the length for “growing room,” but the leotard should not be saggy in the bottom or loose in the shoulders. Leotards should fit snuggly without wrinkles from excess fabric but not so tightly that it rides up or irritates the skin at the legs or straps. We want to make sure that everyone can dance comfortably in what they’re wearing. Ballet Virginia Academy leotards (and shirts for boys) can be purchased at the front desk or using the online form. Note that there are no returns on dance wear so we recommend trying one on for fit at the studio.
- Tights should be the correct size (no baggy knees if you can help it) and free from holes. Dancers of color have the option of wearing flesh color tights/shoes appropriate to their skin tone.
- Quick Tip: If you find a small run in a pair of tights, you can put clear nail polish at the ends to stop it from growing bigger!
- After a few months out of the studio, it might be time for some new shoes. We recommend purchasing and getting fitted for shoes at a dance store. The material used for ballet slippers from big box stores, like Walmart, is a plastic that doesn’t work well on the Marley floors in the studio. A fitter at a dance store can make sure that the shoe is the perfect size for your dancer with no more than a finger’s width of material at the toes. One of the dance stores we recommend is Jeté Dancewear in Virginia Beach.
- And in order to preserve our floors and your dancer’s shoes, don’t forget that dance shoes should never be worn on any outside surfaces.
- Lastly, we can’t forget about the hair. If your dancer’s hair is long enough, practice the classical ballet bun. If you’ve forgotten how to do one, or if you just want to brush up on your skills, Ms. Casey has an great tutorial on Ballet Virginia’s Instagram. If your dancer’s hair is too short for even a ponytail, use a headband or some clips to keep it pulled back out of their face.
2- Help them Get Their Bag Organized
- Unlike back in the spring, now if your dancer has a dance bag, they will be bringing it with them into the studio. We ask to keep the bag small and to only bring what they need so that it doesn’t take up too much dancing space in the studio. Some things to consider packing are their ballet slippers, jazz or tap shoes, an extra pair of tights or leotard, a few extra bobby pins, and a water bottle for them to sip on during a water break.
- All dancers should arrive with street clothes on top of their dance clothes. But once they get in the studio, they can put their street clothes inside or on top of their small bag.
3- Practice Wearing A Mask
- One of the biggest changes this year has been wearing a mask. Students must wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth upon entering the building. Children’s Program students will keep their masks on the entire class. In higher level classes, it may be possible for students to take their masks off at the barre depending on class and studio sizes. Students will wait for teachers permission to do this. If the dancers are going to be doing any work across the floor, the teacher will tell them to put the masks on.
- Have your dancer practice wearing a mask at home for a bit, so that they will be comfortable with it when they get in the studio. As much as they can, students should be able to focus on the dancing and not fidget with their mask. This Dance Magazine article has lots of good information about finding a face mask that makes dancing easier and what to expect while wearing it.
4-Talk to Them About Other COVID Guidelines
- So that your dancer knows what to expect, please go over the Guidelines for COVID-19 with them. Children’s Program guidelines can be found here. Lower School, Upper School, and BVII guidelines can be found here.
- Besides the mask wearing, some other important changes to note are the temperature checks at the door, that dressing rooms are off limits, and that parents will not be permitted in the lobby. Let your child know that you will just be dropping them off at the front door. And, for pick up in Norfolk you will be at the side door, as soon as class ends, to pick them up. At the Beach, you will be just outside the front door for pick up.
- Lastly, remind your student that even though things are a little different, they will still be having lots of fun, learning and dancing in class!
Fall registration is now open for both the Norfolk and the Virginia Beach location. If you have any other questions, feel free to call the front desk at 757-446-1401.
Hey ballet lovers! I'm starting this BV Blog so we can chat and share everything from dance tips and advice to behind the scenes happenings.