Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Guess who was asked to be in the Nutcracker? That's right! The Swans were asked to be party guests! We declined politely. Or maybe we snorted. Either way, it wasn't worth multiple weekend rehearsals & performances to walk around the stage with our hands in muffs. Besides, I'm still holding out for the part of the Rat King.

So, Nutcracker preparations are in full swing at our studio and the adult beginners are getting the shaft. We've had two substitute teachers in the past month or so. I know we should look at substitute teachers as an opportunity to learn from someone new but subs are hard so instead we whine to each other & then go home & drink wine. The worst, though, was when all of the Nutcracker performers, from kids to advanced adults, joined our Saturday morning class as a warm up. White Swan missed class that day and I found myself sandwiched in four to a bar with ten year olds. I lasted about 15 minutes before chassé skipping out the door.

- Black Swan

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Pointe is like, hard & stuff

So......the swans have been on a hiatus. A loooong hiatus. Like, wicked long. And here is the part where I list the excuses we have for not posting. Work was crazy, my dog won a Pulitzer, blah blah blah..... But really, we just fell off the wagon. We've still been hitting class twice a week (for the most part). I just came back from my vacation to the great white north, during which time I missed 3 weeks of class. And as soon as I landed, it was time for Halloween.

Which brings me to my pointe (*snicker*). No, Black Swan and I aren't ballet prodigies who went en pointe after less than a year of classes. But I had an old pair of pointe shoes that I decided to wear with my costume (I'll give you one guess as to what we were for Halloween). So I pranced around in pointe shoes all night. Looking the part of an experienced ballerina. So, of course I wanted some photos of me up on my toes - not easy. I mean, I never assumed it would be easy....but sheesh. I was able to balance for a few seconds for the shot, but I had to hold onto something (or someone) to go up. At any rate, I have a renewed respect for those of you who are able to dance on the tips of your toes. I hope one day to join your illustrious ranks.

~White Swan

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Kicking It

I have a confession to make... growing up in Texas, I was on my high school drill team. During football season, we did a high kick routine on the fifty yard line during half time. My kicks were so high the front of my cowgirl hat was dented. Yee haw!

This makes the fact that there's nothing grand about my grand battements even more frustrating. On drill team, we swung our kicks up from the hip and quad while grand battements are more of a sweeping lift from hamstrings. I'll admit that I don't have the flexibility or the abs of my 16 year old self but I feel like I've only gone from 60 degrees to 65 degrees in the last five months. At this rate it's going to take nine & a half years before I'm denting my cowgirl hat again.

- Black Swan

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Romeo & Juliet & cabbages and kings

The swans got to experience a real treat this past weekend - we got to go to the ballet! Romeo and Juliet was here for the weekend so of course the swans jumped on that! We had great seats - front row, balcony (see photo). And I personally was blown away! It's not often that we get to witness professional ballet in Hawaii and it was exquisite. My personal fave was the balcony scene pas de deux. Legen......wait for it........dary!! I'm not versed enough in ballet lexicon yet, but all I can remember thinking is, "Oh - so THAT's what a chainé turn is supposed to look like!" Also, I cannot WAIT to start pointe!!! It's so ethereal the way the ballerinas float around on their toes. I really do love watching it. I was also surprised (pleasantly so) to see so many male pas (pases? pasessss? lol). Really great stuff.

Speaking of professional ballerinas, we had 2 in our "adult beginner" class on Saturday. I put that in quotes because on Saturday it was definitely more of a mixed class. What is that you say? You don't have an adult beginner / professional class at your studio? Well, I guess we're just forward thinkers here at the Jody Sawyer School of Dance. Seriously though, there were two of them. En pointe. Prancing around putting shame in our game(s). I mean, it was like they were hired just to take my self esteem to new depths. Tour jetés are embarrassing enough when you aren't followed immediately by a prima ballerina doing them perfectly and effortlessly. I know I said I like watching ballerinas prance around en pointe......just not when I'm trying to be a star in my own class. At least they were just visiting. That's right ladies - the swans are the stars of THIS studio! Triple snap!

~White Swan

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The People of Adult Ballet

Most people are aware of the website People of Walmart. I don't know, maybe some of you are even on it. Several people have asked me who is in our adult ballet class so I give you the people of adult ballet:

The Swans: A pair of professional something or others in their early to mid thirties who were inexplicably inspired to take ballet after watching the movie Black Swan together. Definite weirdos.

Giselle: Our young, adorable & petite teacher who makes everything look easy & puts up with our goofing off in class. Not that she has a choice when we keep showing up week after week.

Coppelia: A tiny woman who could be anywhere from 45-65 with moderate English skills and an unending supply of dance skirts. She favors jewel tones.

Sugar Plum: A class favorite. Sugar Plum has extensive dance wardrobe and favors pastel colors & dance skirts. Like Coppelia, she is an older woman of indiscriminate age with an artificial hip, an ever present knee brace & attends every class in pointe shoes. Her nutcracker husband escorts her to and sits through every class. (Awkward!)

The Bon Bons: There are a handful of high school & college students who show up sporadically. One of the more regular Bon Bon's mother sits and watches our class. (Eye roll.)

Juliet: Juliet could be anywhere from 30-45 and is an interesting character. Her noticeably younger boyfriend, Romeo, often shows up and watches our class. (Yes, we have quite the audience.) She idolizes Coppelia, squeezing into a full barre to stand by her in class, & has a unique sense of style. She is typically seen in white ballet shoes, white tights, a white leotard, white face powder and a blue hip alignment belt. Say what? White Swan actually caught her in a true People of Walmart moment at clothing store one evening. This was on a Friday so it wasn't after a ballet class but maybe she takes ice dancing on Fridays?

(Swan head added to protect the guilty.)

Adult ballet. It's definitely not boring.

-Black Swan

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Birthday at the Barre

This is a much different barre scene than some of my previous birthdays.

Swan Cake

Today is Black Swan's birthday. I can't tell you what number this is, because a swan never reveals her true age. We will be celebrating this auspicious occasion tonight at the barre.

You can send any gifts or well-wishes to: Swan Lake; c/o White Swan. I'll make sure she gets them. The big ticket item on her list this year is a unicorn. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for her!!!

~White Swan

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I'm a ballerina!!

I officially became a ballerina today. No, I didn't pass any tests or get drafted into the corps. But I enrolled in our school. Which was a big step for me. I have been attending classes a little more sporadically than I would have liked lately - both because of work and other dance-related events. My hula halau had our annual ho'ike this past weekend (sort of like a recital, I guess). Leading up to that, there was a lot of practice and more than a bit of stress. Now with that in the rear view mirror, I felt like I could take this next step. Now I'm accountable. I can't just decide not to go to class because I don't feel like it. After I handed my check in, I proudly said "Now I'm a ballerina!". Of course Black Swan laughed at me (as did our teacher). But I looked it up, and I'm actually not wrong. The online dictionary has the second definition of ballerina as: "any female ballet dancer". So, there. I AM a ballerina. Now, if anyone needs me I will be shopping for tutus and tiaras.

~White Swan

Monday, July 18, 2011

Overheard at the barre

No, ladies and gentlemen, the White Swan has not died. Although the Black Swan might murder me in my sleep if I don't write a blog. So, in order to avoid what would most likely be a gruesome and untimely death, I present for your consideration: a new blog post.

Overheard at the barre:

WS: How long have we been taking class?
BS: About three months.
WS: I think I'm actually getting worse.
BS: Me too.

Overheard in the changing room after class:

BS: Oh shit, I forgot I wasn't wearing any underwear under my leotard (as she undresses and flashes her cash & prizes)
WS: You might want to leave your leotard on to go to the store then.
BS: Good point.

White Swan

Coming soon to a blog stream near you: the ballet bump.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Vertical Barre

Our ballet studio is above a strip club.
It's nice to know that dancers have options.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Triple Threat

I pulled off a triple threat this week. Not by singing, dancing & acting well, but by threatening to make a real ass of myself three times this week at ballet class.

White Swan missed Tuesday's class because of work. It was relatively uneventful but brought up a growing pet peeve of mine; wearing t-shirts in ballet class. I have been the fluffiest person in every class and I squeeze myself into a leotard and tights and not due to a lack of self consciousness or an amazing body image. It's so the teacher & I can see what I'm doing because I genuinely want to improve at this. Those skinny chicks need to lose the t-shirts or I'm gonna steal their part in Swan Lake.

Thursday's class kicked the swan's tail feathers. We had a substitute teacher and she was tough. We are adult beginners, lady, not retired prima-b's.

Saturday classes are our favorite. It's less crowded, the sun is streaming through the studio windows and instead of dealing with the aftermath of a day at work, we have the weekend ahead of us. I love lining up at the barre at 9 am and hearing a ripple of knees cracking down the barre as we go into our first grand plié. It is an adult ballet class, after all.

- Black Swan

Monday, June 13, 2011

Gluttons for Punishment

So, I'm going to go ahead and start this blog post with a double apology. First, I want to apologize for the swans' extended absence. Black Swan migrated to a land far, far away and while she was gone, I just got plain old lazy. I mean, let's face it, Black Swan is the funny one in this duo. And the organized one. And the motivated writer. Which brings me to my second apology - I will go ahead and say I'm sorry in advance for what I'm assuming will be a disjointed flow of ideas, not unlike brain diarrhea. Ok, I have to apologize for that terrible metaphor. Which makes 3 apologies. In one paragraph. We are off to a good start!

Anyway, the swans attended their first class together last Saturday (we each had attended one solo class). And man, were we out of shape! I mean, I know it's much easier to lose ground in dance or exercise than it is to gain it, but this felt like our first class all over again. During barre, we did relevés on one foot. By the end of the combination, neither of us could get more than half way up over our toes. And our grand battements were anything but. And don't get me started on the chainé turns. No really, don't!

But, we had fun (as usual). Taking a moment in between each exercise to laugh at ourselves and regain at least a tiny bit of composure before beginning the next masochistic combination. And we'll be back twice a week for more punishment.

~White Swan

Monday, May 16, 2011


Tuesday class at the JSSOB started with a snap and a bang as a rat was murdered in a spring trap in the air ducts right above our heads. Later in the class, we murdered some Tour Jetés.

This was our first Tuesday class at the JSSOB and I had a blast. We did pirouettes and jumps and I was lost half the time but didn't care because we were doing real dancey type stuff. White Swan was less impressed with class. She felt it was too advanced and too crowded. I didn't get what her deal was until after our Sunday class.

On Sunday, we hit the beginner-beginner class again at the other school we frequent. While we were hanging out before class, White Swan was talking about all the pirouettes we did in Tuesday's class and said she couldn't do a single pirouette. As a demonstration, she set up a pirouette and then executed it perfectly in her flip flops. I raised my eyebrow as she claimed that was the first one she had ever done well. Then she did another perfect pirouette in time with my eye roll.

So we took the class and I was bored. It just not as fun when I can remember the whole combination and don't have to follow other people to keep up. And then it hit me; she's the White Swan. Just like in the movie, she gets that hungry look in her eyes and says, "I just want to be perfect." While she is striving for perfection, I just want to flail around in a leotard making an ass of myself.

So what to do? Well, we could go to the mall and get Frappuccinos and mani-pedis.

- Black Swan

Sunday, May 8, 2011

JSSOB - take one

So, we have two classes to blog about this time around. We were supposed to have our first class at Jody Sawyer School of Ballet (JSSOB) on tuesday, but White Swan's job prohibited her leaving on time to make class. So, we tried a different class on Wed. We had attended this same class on Sunday before, but this was a different teacher (and different students). When the teacher arrived, we felt we needed to warn her that we are true beginners, as this is technically a beginner/intermediate class. Black Swan told her we had had about 5 classes, and she says "EVER?". Yes, ever. After the initial shock wore off she assured us we would do fine (I think). The details are a little fuzzy as I was replaying the look on her face when we told her how very experienced we are. But the class went well. There were obviously steps we didn't know, but she explained them to us patiently and didn't laugh too hard when we wiggled around trying to reproduce what she had just shown us. I wasn't looking in the mirror much, but I imagine we looked a bit like Elaine from Seinfeld when she dances. At the end of the day, we had a good class, but I felt like we held the class back a bit, like things would have progressed faster and the teacher might have done more difficult combinations if she didn't have a couple of beginners in the class. And that's the only reason I don't think we'll make this class a regular in our schedule (unless, of course we need a backup for other missed classes).

And then.........

The swans finally made it to the JSSOB yesterday. And it was everything we dreamt it would be....and more (cue angels singing). The only thing that really sucked about the class was that it started at 9am. 9. A. M., people. White Swan lives out in the boonies, so she had to get up at the butt-crack of dawn to make it to class. And although she got up plenty early, she didn't leave the house until 8:17, and still made it to class 15 minutes early (going the speed limit, OF COURSE)! Black Swan, on the other hand, had some plumbing "issues" which kept her from leaving the house in a timely manner, but she too made it on time. When the girl at the desk (who also turned out to be our teacher) asked how we heard about the school, Black Swan jokingly said "Amanda Schull told us about it". To which the girl replied, "Oh, you guys know Amanda?". LOL! We then explained that we are nerds and have watched Center Stage a bajillion times, but have never met Amanda. But, apparently she still comes by the school when she visits Hawaii - woot!

And although Jody Sawyer was not teaching the class, our teacher was really great. She demonstrated everything and explained things when she saw the "deer in headlights" look on our faces (which happens A LOT). We learned new steps (which we can't remember the names of). Note to self: bring notebook and ask the teacher to list steps we went over at the end of class. And there was one lady (a bit older than the swans, to put it gently) on pointe shoes! Which gave us hope! It's never too late - there is still hope for the swans.

Oh, and we tried pirouettes. I use term "tried" literally, because I know I didn't actually execute one. Black Swan may have, but I wouldn't know as I was too busy flailing around and trying not to fall down to look around.

All in all, we feel we have finally found the class for us. JSSOB offers the adult beginner class on tues, thurs and saturday. We figure we will start by taking on tues (sat was a challenge because of the time) and possibly add more classes in the future.

~White Swan

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


White Swan got slammed with a last minute deadline at work so no JSSOB class tonight. Instead I give you excerpts of our Google chats throughout the day, lightly modified for entertainment.
(Shortly after lunch…)
White Swan: Hey Odile, do you need coffee?
Black Swan: Nope but you'll see me soon enough.
I'll be the one doing the noodle dance.
While wearing a sausage casing.
White Swan: Omg - I hope this class rocks.
Black Swan: It will. It’s the JSSOB.
I bet we learn the Michael Jackson number today.
I hope they have red toe shoes we can borrow.
(A few hours later…)
White Swan: It doesn't look like I can make class tonight.
Black Swan: Stop being weak.
(I didn’t really write that. It’s a line from Black Swan.)
White Swan: I found out today that I have a deadline tomorrow so it's either miss class or come back to work afterward and work until midnight.
Black Swan: So do that.
(No response.)
Black Swan: I mean, we can go tomorrow or this weekend instead.
White Swan: I hate when this happens. I was so excited about JSSOB!
Black Swan: What are you going to do? Run home to mommy?
(Still quoting Black Swan, people.)
White Swan: Work is getting in the way of my dreams of being a prima ballerina.
Black Swan: The only person standing in your way is you.
White Swan: This project will give me an ulcer, I guarantee
Black Swan: As long as your ulcer doesn’t interfere with ballet like your job is right now.
(That’s not from Black Swan but I didn’t really write that either.)
White Swan: Maybe that's what this pain is.
(White Swan has had a pain in her side for the last week.)
White Swan: Maybe I’ve already got an ulcer. 
Black Swan: It’s probably cancer.
(I might have written that.)
White Swan: If they can't diagnose it, they'll just put me down.
Send me to the glue factory.
Black Swan: I’m bored.
White Swan: I should put a will together.
I want you to start an adult ballet school in my honor.
And hang my shoes and leotards on the wall.
Name it JSSOB.
Black Swan: And everyone wears red shoes there.
White Swan: Of course, I have no money to give you but you'll figure it out.
Black Swan: It will be a small school.
White Swan: And all you teach is the ending number from Center Stage. Once they have mastered that, they graduate.
Black Swan: We're going to need a motorcycle.

- Black Swan

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Double Ballet Day

Class Number One: It was a real adult beginner class! All adults, (the teacher was probably the youngest there), at an actual beginner level. We stretched, we warmed up slowly at the barre, the teacher led us through barre exercises & we did some fun floor combinations. White Swan grinned annoyingly for most of the class but the highlight for her was during stretching. WS was not born with the gift of flexibility and there was another student who could only reach mid shin while White Swan was grazing the tips of her toes with her fingertips. I refrained from pointing it out in the middle of class but I don't know why I bothered. The girl was wearing a t-shirt. A T-SHIRT! In ballet class! If I have to stand around looking like a sausage in a leotard and tights, so should she. But it was a fun class and we left feeling good about our blossoming dance careers until we arrived at...

Class Number Two: We walked into a large studio full of 3' tall goblins in pink tights, pink leotards and pink ballet shoes running wild all over the place. White Swan shuddered while I rolled my eyes. The Executive Director introduced himself to us and I told him we were there for the three o'clock class, which is listed as a tweens & teens beginner class, also open to adults on an ongoing basis. The only other adults in the class were the teacher and her, um, eccentric husband who "assists" her classes. When the Executive Director told her we were there for the class, she looked at us, looked at him and said like a total snoot, 'We are practicing for a performance'. They discussed for a minute while the swans stood around feeling very awkward. He came back and asked us to stay for the barre portion of class, free of charge. Then the husband came over grinning and nodding maniacally and told us he thought we would get a lot out of the barre exercises. We considered making a run for it but instead shrugged our shoulders and walked into the class. The teacher proceeded to ignore us for the next 50 minutes while the husband took a little too much interest in us. We held our own for the most part but when we were finishing an arabesque, the husband was standing in front of me and said, 'Oh yes! You added a beautiful flourish there at the end!'. I wasn't aware I was flourishing but he stood there and made me "flourish" when we did the other side, as well. Hopefully they will start an actual adult ballet class because it was a very nice studio but today's experience was just a bit too weird.

- Black Swan

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Jody Sawyer School of Ballet

So, I really should be drifting peacefully to sleep right now, but I know Black Swan will karate chop my face if I don't blog my little swan heart out right now. So prepare for the random stream of thoughts that I will attempt to compile into a coherent blog entry.

We found out tonight at class that our teacher has a sense of humor. She was seriously in a good mood. Apparently, one of the students brought her chocolate (brown-noser! I wish I had thought of that). She also has arches that go on for days. Seriously, I can't help but stare at her feet. She makes a perfect fifth look like nothin'. She is also a really good teacher. We will miss her. Because next week, the swans start class at the Jody Sawyer School of Ballet (JSSOB)!

If you don't know who Jody Sawyer is, shame on you! She is only our idol and favorite character from our favorite ballet movie Center Stage. I mean, who wouldn't sleep with Cooper Nielson if they had the chance! But I digress.

The swans will be taking classes at the school Amanda Schull attended before she became Jody Sawyer. We figure it's our best chance to score a role in the next great ballet movie (too bad we just missed out on Black Swan - although the movie was loosely based our our autobiographies). I mean, the way we figure it, we should have the lead roles in the Nutcracker by Christmas, so we should be ready to star in film by summer of next year.

But seriously, the reason we are leaving this class is it is a tad too advanced for our addled brains and geriatric bodies. For now. We really want to try to find that rarest of dance classes, the TRUE adult beginner class. I miss feeling like a bit of a rock star in my college ballet classes (where I think I was the only one who had ever danced a step in my life). We plan to try 3 different classes this weekend (including one at the JSSOB). So, wish us luck and maybe we'll remember your name when they are asking us if we have anyone in mind for supporting roles.

~White Swan

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Potty Boo Wuh?

I don't know if it was that extra ballet class we crashed on Sunday or the full moon but the swans are ballerina rock stars! Half of the time! When the first half of the class is being taught by a stand in teacher and we are doing basic combinations that we can actually retain in our tiny bird brains! Regardless of the reason, it felt great to know what to do next without staring at a nearby teenager's feet. Ballet class takes on a whole new perspective when you actually raise your chin and have a look around!

And then, our regular teacher arrived. And the swans faces fell. And so did our competence. At one point, our teacher explained that during a demi detourné, the feet go through first position and said, "It's first position, not whatevers." As class progressed, "whatevers" was about all we could manage. There was an epic fail moment during some pas de bourrée combinations but the swans ended the evening on a high note. We take way too much pleasure when we walk out to our cars after class, passing 80% of our fellow students who have to wait outside for their parents to pick them up. I may not have mastered a simple pas de bourrée, but I have wheels, baby.

And now to demonstrate my potty beret:

- Black Swan

Sunday, April 17, 2011


So, Black Swan and I tried a new class today at a different school. We dropped in on what I thought was an adult beginner class (in reality a beginner/intermediate class). And guess what....we didn't suck! We mastered the tombe, pas de bourre and the triple pirouette! OK, maybe that wasn't totally accurate. And maybe we were actually just doing more of the noodle dance during the whole class. And maybe we felt just as lost in this class as we did in our other class and we actually still suck. But it was really nice to try a different class with a different teacher. We warned the teacher before we started that we only had 2 ballet classes under our belts, so she was good about trying to explain things as we went along. We were still pretty hopelessly lost for most of the class, but we are learning.

I do have to say that there is nothing like a rigorous ballet class to make me feel like an arthritic senior citizen. I don't think BS broke her hoo-ha again, but my hip flexors are screaming in agony. Now, where did I put my foam roller? Oh there it is...right next to my walker.

~White Swan

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Class Deux

Things overheard after class deux:

White Swan: Forget the vodka, I think I need a Xanax.

Black Swan: I think I pulled my vagina. Is that even possible? Where am I supposed to put the ice?

Lessons learned:

1. En dehors is a circular movement starting in the front. "En dehors, out the door." En dedans is the opposite, starting in the back.

2. Be careful who you follow in class. The ones that look like they know what they are doing are inexplicably always behind the music. And now, so are you. Because if you weren't following someone, you would have no idea what you were doing and might as well start doing the noodle dance.

3. Lesson three was we suck. Still! I would have thought we would have parts in Swan Lake by our second class. Hmpf.

- Black Swan

Friday, April 8, 2011

My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard

So, there is a certain assumption about ballerina's body-types (which in professional dancers is 9 times out of 10 pretty accurate).  And I'm not saying that this is a negative thing - most of them are able to reach that without unhealthy practices.  But I like to think that as adult beginners, we don't need to worry about portraying that image.  Which is good.  Because I don't.  I mean, I'm relatively fit - but I am a far cry from being considered "svelte" or anyone worrying that I have an eating disorder.  And I just ordered a chocolate milkshake from the diner across the street.  Just wanted to put that out there in the universe.

Don't judge me!!

-White Swan

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


White Swan & I just finished the first ballet class of our adult lives. It was horrifying. Not the class itself or the teacher. Both were good but I was pretty horrible. Being in a leotard again at my age was also horrifying. I have a feeling the pain tomorrow will be horrific, as well. The teacher actually told me & White Swan to take long hot baths when we got home. I didn't hear her tell the other students to take a long hot bath but their mommies probably still bathe them.

I thought I signed us up for Adult Beginner Ballet Theory. It was actually just Ballet Theory. Not specifically for adults or for beginners. While we weren't the oldest in the class, I could have given birth to the youngest. And not even as a slutty teenager. I could have given birth to the youngest student in the class a few years out of college.

Next week I need to remember to have a snack an hour or so before class. When the teacher told us to fondu I was half way out the door to buy some cheese before I realized I was just supposed to bend my standing leg. I would have preferred the cheese. Maybe next week I will have a V-8. With a shot of vodka. That should make it all a bit easier to take.

-Black Swan


Literally "to melt". Abbreviation for a battement fondu. A term used to describe a lowering of the body which is made by bending the knee of the supporting leg. Saint-Leon wrote, "Fondu is on one leg what a plie is on two." (Wikipedia Glossary of Ballet)