Join Us For Circle Time!

Circle time is one of my favorite parts of dance class.

As a teacher, it’s a time to connect with each one of my students, looking into the eyes and smiles of each one.

It’s a great time for sharing and getting to know one another, for learning names, introducing concepts, for dancing and discovering together.

[image] Children sit in a circle at Hope Center's dance studio [image]

In December as I prepared for the Top Dance Blog contest, I found great new blogs I didn’t even know existed. And while our little competition is a fun way to find them, I realized I wanted more time to connect with each one.

So an idea came to me.

I know, look out. [Read more…]

Congrats to the Top Dance Blogs of 2011!

Once again, a group of fabulous dance bloggers turned up for our contest.

Once again, readers turned up to vote for their favorites and found new blogs to follow.

Once again, I saw bloggers out supporting each other, illustrating that the dance blogosphere is thriving and teeming with people passionate about dance.

Mission Accomplished!

What a way to start a year. Here are your Top Dance Blogs, everyone:

IMAGE Top Dance Blogs 2011 IMAGETop 20

Nearly 3000 votes were counted and our top two blogs walked away with about 26% of the votes… each! Woa!

But one blog pulled ahead by nearly 20 votes:

#1 — Ballet to the People

  1. Enforced Arch
  2. Dance Commentary by Heather Desaulniers
  3. Rogue Ballerina
  4. Tendus Under a Palm Tree
  5. Tutus & Tea
  6. Adult Beginner
  7. My Son Can Dance
  8. Odette’s Ordeal
  9. Ballet Pages
  10. The Body Series
  11. Maria’s Movers
  12. Born Again Dancer
  13. Frame Dance
  14. Ballet Shoes & Bobby Pins (by Sheena Jeffers)
  15. Picture Books & Pirouettes
  16. Dave Tries Ballet
  17. –TIED– Contemporary Dancing (by Melissa)
  18. Noa Blogs Ballet
  19. Leotards and the Buns in Them

Category Winners

Speaking Dance

Ballet To The People by Carla Escoda

62% of votes

Adult Dancer

Adult Beginner

58% of votes

Teen Dancer

Contemporary Dancing by Melissa, Lover of Dance

39% of votes. The three blogs were separated by only 2 votes – a close race!

Teacher Talk

Ballet Pages (by Melanie Doskocil)

48% of votes

Dancer Musings

Tendus Under a Palm Tree (by Rebecca King)

68% of votes

Dance Organization/Artist

Frame Dance Blog

40% of votes. Another close race, separated by mere clicks of a button.

Business Blog

Kiner Enterprises Inc. Blog

And, as always, Ashani Mfuko in a class by herself. ūüėČ

I want to say thanks again to ALL who entered regardless of where they are in their blogging ‘career’.

It takes a certain amount of bravery to step up and be counted, so to speak. Please, if you haven’t already, visit the list of 32 blogs who participated (the significance of the number 32 is not lost on the bunheads out there).

Editor’s Choice

This proved very difficult for me because even I discovered new blogs through the contest this year. Plus some blogs are just very new.

In the end, I went with a blog that I feel has consistently shown a clear focus, delivering material that is valuable to its readers in a fun but thoughtful way. I’ve enjoyed watching this blog develop and wish for its longevity.

Though ALL 32 blogs show great promise, I chose…

The Dance Buzz

Congrats to All!

I’ll be contacting winners with badges to put on their sites and with questions for your feature!

Our Top 20 winner, Ballet to the People will be highlighted individually. Meanwhile our category winners and Editor’s choice will be featured together.

We’d love your feedback on the contest in the comments.

I know that with the holidays, the end of the year is a tough time for the contest. I’ve been thinking about moving it up to early December. Knowing that there’s never a perfect time for everyone, feel free to weigh in on this, or other details of the contest.

Have suggestions? Ways to improve? I’ll take ’em!

Want to congratulate the winners? Compare to last year? Do it!

Thanks so much for helping to make the 2011 Top Dance Blog contest a success!

VOTE for the Top Dance Blogs of 2011!

32 blogs entered this year’s Top Dance Blog competition:

Barre Boys is having technical difficulty. Here is their FB page:

Barre Boys

The Belated Ballerina

Relevé Your Life

Ballet Fan/Fitness Warrior

The Four-Eyed Ballerina

En Pointe with Houston Ballet

52 Weeks of Ballet

Kiner Enterprises Inc. Blog

Mike Barnes, Anthropologist (Ballet)

The Dance Buzz

BalletScoop by the ClassicalBalletTeacher

Dancers Global

Leotards and the Buns in Them

Dance Commentary by Heather Desaulniers

Born Again Dancer

The Body Series Blog

Contemporary Dancing by Melissa, Lover of Dance

My Son Can dance

Picture Books and Pirouettes

Tendus Under a Palm Tree

Dave Tries Ballet

Frame Dance Blog

Ballet Pages

Maria's Movers

Tutus and Tea

Ballet Shoes and Bobby Pins (by Sheena Jeffers)

Odette's Ordeal

Noa Blogs Ballet

Adult Beginner

Enforced Arch

Ballet To The People

Rogue Ballerina

Some are returning from last year. Some very new (but very good) blogs are in the mix. All are worth a look! [Read more…]

Who Inspires You?

By rough count, I have over 300 dance-related blogs contributing to My Own Dance “Magazine”, otherwise known as my Google Reader.

These display varying levels of activity, of course, but what matters is that people of all ages, abilities, experiences, and walks of life are excited enough about dance to want to write about it.

Inspirational Blogger Award

Recently a young blogger named Melissa created her first blog award, naming 11 of her favorite blogs/bloggers and encouraging them to pass it on. Not all are dance-related but you can see her Top 11 at

Among these recipients was Jean, of 52 Weeks of Ballet, a relatively new blog which chronicles Jean’s journey as an adult ballet dancer in Sydney, Australia. She’s about 32 weeks in but I encourage you to catch up at

Jean was kind enough to include me in her Top 5 favorite dance blogs and I’m in good company. Check out the others here.

With A Twist and Shout Out

Now, you may know Dance Advantage hosts its own little award showdown, wherein we name Top Dance Blogs based upon your votes. News of our 2011 awards is coming soon so get ready!

Since Melissa’s Inspirational Blogger awards can go out to any type of blog, I’ll be naming my Top 10 inspirational NON-Dance blogs later. I hope you’ll find at least one new blog on the list that will inspire you too.

But first, because I can’t seem to do anything strictly by the book, I wanted to use this opportunity to feature Jean and Melissa, and their respective blogs with an interview. And, because Melissa’s blog award rules originally calls for recipients to give some tidbits about themselves, I’ve added a little twist and asked these two ladies to interview me with 3 questions each of their choosing. So let’s get on with it, shall we?

First a little background:
IMAGE Melissa in a split IMAGE

Melissa splits her time between dance, blogging, and friends.

Melissa is a teenager who loves dance so much she signs off on all her posts as ‘Lover of Dance’. She’s been dancing for roughly 10 years and has been exploring different schools and genres. When she’s not dancing or blogging, she’s socializing with friends, going shopping, or to the cinema. “Friends and family are really important and I love that they are so supportive of me.”

As you might expect, Jean has a contrasting answer when asked what she does outside the studio and the blogosphere. “Previously I would have said – working too hard!” She runs a Procurement Consultancy with her husband but ballet actually seems to improve her work/life balance. “I have found myself more focused at work so I can get out of the office in time for my evening dance classes. I used to play squash, tennis and do lots of bush and harbourside walks around Sydney, but unsurprisingly I’m finding a lot less time for these lately!”

You can bet that like most adult dancers, Jean has a story regarding her path to ballet. She started ballet as a 9 year old and continued until her late teens. She describes it as her greatest passion. “Growing up in a country without full-time ballet schools, it remained an after-school activity for me,” she explains. “Unfortunately, ballet eventually faded into the background as academic opportunities presented themselves and the general distractions of life as a university student took over.¬†For many years, I did very little dancing, always remembering¬†how much I loved it, but I believe I also sub-consciously suppressed my passion for it because I felt I had somehow left things unfinished.”

She threw herself back into ballet 10 years ago, obtaining her RAD Intermediate certification but afterward felt that maybe ballet was too technical and that there was nothing more she would gain. She expected to find joy through other forms of dance. So, for the past few years Jean has been attending Lyrical and Contemporary open classes on a weekly basis. She has enjoyed them, but notices that many teachers view adult dancers as seeking recreation only, rather than continuous improvement.

IMAGE Jean of 52 Weeks of Ballet blog IMAGE

Jean got hooked on ballet all over again at age 40.

Earlier this year, she was persuaded to join a ballet class ‘just for fun’.¬† “I thought I’d give it a go for a week or two,” Jean says. “I didn’t expect to be hooked again before the first class was over.”

She credits her teacher, Tibor, for this. “He paid a lot of attention to technique, pushed us to our individual limits, worked us very hard but also took time to acknowledge it when we did something well. In that short time, I was reminded of how addictive the quest for perfection and the thrill of achievement can be.”

Within her first few weeks, Jean decided that if she was going to improve, she’d need to do more than one class per week. Before long she’d worked up to five classes each week, mostly with Tibor. “Unlike other forms of exercise like going to the gym or doing yoga,” she remarks, “I look forward to every class and the sessions never seem long enough. Besides getting very fit and toned, dancing ballet nourishes my soul. My passion for ballet has certainly been re-ignited!”

From dancing to blogging

Jean’s return to ballet coincided with her 40th birthday. Though she wanted to share her experience with others traveling a similar path or thinking about beginning ballet, documenting the 52 weeks began as an exercise for herself. “The challenge is to rebuild my strength and technique in 52 weeks so that I’ll be able to stand beside all the other dancers in class and have the ability and vocabulary to dance well with them.¬†I felt that blogging about¬†my first year back in the ballet studio, as a 40-year old,¬†would help keep me honest to my goal, motivate me to be timely with my journal entries,” she explains.

Melissa, on the other hand, set out to express her passion for dance to a much larger audience. She wanted to interact with people with similar interests and as a result has found a community of dance bloggers. “I am so grateful that I am now connecting with people and people are enjoying my blog,” she says.

Jean too has found a large, vibrant, and diverse community of dance bloggers from all around the world. “It has been very heart-warming to find that in general, the participants are very inclusive, dynamic, helpful and passionate individuals and, so far, all my online interactions have only been very positive experiences.”

In fact, Jean never anticipated the feedback she’s received or the bonds she’s formed with other dancers. She recently received a thank you: “…once again as this week i am hitting a high of 5 classes! And I am sure I would not have attempted that without knowing someone has gone before me…,” commented her reader.¬† “I am sure you can imagine how much it just blew me away,” exclaims Jean.

Melissa’s blog, Contemporary Dancing, is her first and only blog. “I started with a very basic knowledge of blogging and technical stuff, and looking back now I am a bit embarrassed of what I started off with in early 2011. Nevertheless, on August the 8th, I restarted my blog and am proud with my current progress.”

When asked what she felt her best post was so far, she thought a bit and then chose her 10 tip guide to achieving the splits. “Everybody contributed and participated and it was incredibly fun to write. The response was amazing and I hope to go on to do more posts like this in the future. Not only was it useful for me but also for my darling readers!”

Sharing what you know can definitely be useful for your blog audience but blogging can also affect your dancing. “I find that I have become more analytical as a dancer because of my blogging,” says Jean. “Just trying to find something to write about every week makes me look at everything more critically and be more conscious of things around me – whether it’s about a particular step, my feelings, the dynamics in the class, or how our teachers impact my motivation and confidence.”

 Dancing through life

Jean points out that there’s a cycle that dancers who are just starting out, or returning after a long hiatus, go through. “First we’re just glad to be dancing, then before long, the better we get, the higher the expectations of ourselves and soon, we are wanting too much, too soon. We look at dancers around us who are so much better, and we start feeling disheartened and feel like we’ll never get there.”

“Patience. Just be patient.” Jean says she went through that whole cycle in her first month, but her teacher Tibor’s words were very comforting and very powerful. He made me realize that if there can be significant improvement in just a month, imagine what can happen in a year and in 5 years, but I needed to be patient and to embrace the process.”

IMAGE Jean stretches at the barre. IMAGE

Jean tries to stretch daily

Like patience, practice also pays off. Melissa was more or less an inexperienced dancer when she was granted her first solo performance in ballet, an experience she calls magical. “When you get a main solo part for the first time, you try your best and find yourself practicing all the time – well, I know I did!” For Melissa the reward was the audience members’ applause. She also won a trophy for achieving so much that year.

But what if you’re not performing? Jean says she tries to take each class, one at a time, knowing that everything she does in class is a building block. “I try to stretch and do strength-building exercises once a day at home, without any immediate expectations. But every once in a while, something suddenly comes together unexpectedly – whether an improved balance, or a stronger jump or a higher extension – and it’s these moments that reinforce the need to just be patient and keep working at those building blocks.”

Like most teenagers, when asked about her future, Melissa has many plans. She wants to study dance in college, join a company and perform, go on to teaching, and open a school. “A new contemporary themed dancing school is my ultimate dream and I am hoping for the day where I can be a full time teacher who is teaching others her all time love.”

For Jean, it’s been only 9 months since she returned to class, but she feels she’ll soon be a better dancer than during her teenage years. “Probably due to the greater focus, determination and maturity I now have as an adult student, but mostly because of the amazing guidance I am getting. I feel that I have been gifted the opportunity to finish what I left unfinished, and if the body permits, there could be even more than 20 years of dancing left in me.”

On what the future holds for an adult student, Jean reflects, “I did wonder¬†for a short while¬†if I‚Äôd ‚Äúmissed the boat‚ÄĚ and whether there was no longer something meaningful to pursue, but I have quickly learned that the pursuit of perfecting the art and enjoying it in itself is meaning enough. That¬†the dreams may have faded but the passion is still fiercely alive.”

Jean and Melissa Interview Nichelle

IMAGE Nichelle dressed up for her very first dance recital IMAGE

That's me in my first recital costume.

Melissa: What did you want to be when you were younger?

Nichelle: Dance is the only thing I ever considered, that I recall. For a while, I thought I might double-major in education so that I’d have something to “fall back on.” But during a high school internship at an elementary (primary) school, I realized I was entertaining this out of fear, not because of a strong desire to teach in the educational system. So, my degree is in dance… period.

Jean: You seem to have found have a great balance in life, fueling your various passions through the different roles in your life – as mother, teacher, dancer, writer. Was there a piece of advice or a principle that you live by, that has helped you achieve this well?

Nichelle: I’m chuckling at the word balance because if you shadowed me for a day, I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t use that word. Like most moms, most people for that matter, the day to day can be pretty precarious. But you’re right, I’m able to follow my interests, instincts, and passions, and for that I feel extremely fortunate. If there’s a principle behind it, I guess it might be “to thine own self, be true.” If there’s a rule to guide it, it’s the golden one. And if there are people who’ve made it possible, it’s those who never told me I couldn’t.

Melissa: Do you dance at this current time?

Nichelle: Yes and no. I’m by no means at peak performance level, ultimately since having my son 4 years ago, but I also just had my daughter 3 months ago. These days I’m doing a ton of writing and before kids I was doing mostly teaching. But, I have had the opportunity to participate creatively in some recent dance performance projects, primarily dance film,. Again, I’m very lucky to be able to keep a toe in several dance pools at once.

Jean: Has blogging delivered you an experience or outcome that you didn’t expect at all?

Nichelle: That I”m still blogging is itself unexpected! I had know idea when I began where it would go. I’m still going because, like dance, there’s always something new to discover.

Melissa: What do you love most about DA?

Nichelle: I could probably answer this in a dozen different ways, and I probably have in other features. I mentioned the online dance community in a recent interview at, for example. (You can check that out for a bit of my own background and blogging story).

Today, what I love most about DA is that I’ve loved it, and watered it, and made it grow. Not without help from others and some lucky conditions. But, it gives me satisfaction to see it thrive and know that others appreciate it too.

Jean: What advice would you give adult dancers who feel regret that they will never become the dancers that they might have been, or disheartened that they haven’t a concrete goal to work towards?

Nichelle: I could say a lot but I’ll try to keep it very concise (and perhaps expound at a later date). The word dancer, is not limited to an occupation.¬†Would you have pursued a dance career and loved it as much as you love it now? To quote a wise owl, “The world may never know.” And so, I think you said it really well, Jean: The pursuit of perfecting the art and enjoying it in itself is meaning enough. In fact, that belief is what makes a dancer in my opinion. Also, I’ll add that if, to you (as in anyone), becoming a dancer means only one thing, you’re not driven, you have tunnel vision. And you’re likely to always be disappointed.

Wow, thanks ladies. Great questions!

Don’t forget to visit Melissa at and Jean at!

I love to encourage the practice of blogging about dance. I want to help people do it well and I want to highlight people who do. And I hope very much that Dance Advantage inspires good dance blogging – my columnists and I try very hard to lead by example.

But now, I want to know,

Who Inspires You?

A certain performer?

A family member?

A celebrity?

A blogger?

Tell us in the comments!

Two Teenaged Students Blogging About Ballet

The blogsphere includes many kinds of dance blogs. Many of the newest sites I’ve encountered are written by dance students of all ages. Among the youngest of these bloggers are a few who show real promise and passion. Below I highlight two of these teenaged bloggers.

Meet Chloey and Rebecca.

They know each other, but only online. Chloey is 15 and Rebecca is 13. Both are beginners in ballet who started a bit later than many of the aspiring dancers around them. Perhaps this accounts for some of the enthusiasm with which they approach dance as an art form and blog topic.
Survival Guide For Dancers blog header

Chloey – Survival Guide For Dancers

How long have you been dancing?

I’ve been dancing since I was about 13, and I started ballet in June.

Is Survival Guide your first blog?

This is my first and only blog, and I started it this summer.

What inspired you to start blogging about dance?

Well, it is my passion, and I wanted to be able to share my journey through dance and hopefully help some other people along the way. Dance blogs are such a great source for that extra help and insight on dancing and the dancing world.

What do you find most challenging about blogging?

Finding the time to do it! It gets pretty hectic with school and dance.

What do you find most challenging about dance?

Making it look effortless!

Funny, I might’ve said this about blogging too! What do you love most about dance?

Portraying an emotion, or a story, in ways that words can’t. It’s so rewarding.

What do you love most about blogging?

Being able to look back on how far I’ve come and the people you meet through it.

Of the posts you’ve written so far, which do you feel is your best?

I’m not sure! I do know that I enjoy doing the posts on famous dancers the most.

Tell us about one of your shining moments in dance.

I’ve gotten so far in such a short period of time! I moved to a great dance studio this summer, and in ballet I started in level 2, and I am now in pre-pointe! If you set your mind to it, you can be so successful in dance.

What do you enjoy doing when you aren’t dancing or blogging?

I’m a bit of a book nerd! Also, I enjoy playing piano when I get the chance.

Looking into the future, in what way will dance be a part of your life 5 years from now?

You know, it’s so hard to know for sure, but I am hoping to go to college for dance or be an apprentice for a company. I do know, that whatever happens, dance will be a part of my future.

What’s next, new, or coming up on your blog?

I’m working on a post on Daniil Simkin [found here], who I adore. I’m also hoping to do some sort of video blogging, but we’ll see what happens

Screenshot of From Plie's to Pirouettes blogRebecca – From Plies to Pirouettes

How long have you been dancing?

I have just begun my second year of ballet classes.

When did you start your blog and is it your first one?

I started my blog in June, June 15 to be exact. I’ve had 4 other blogs. This was my 4th. I just kind of lost interest in the other things once I started doing From Plies to Pirouettes.

What inspired you to start blogging about dance?

I realized that there were many girls that were my age that had just recently started ballet, and had to take class with a whole room full of girls who could do over-splits, triple pirouettes, and could lift their legs to their ears. I began looking at ballet blogs, and reading ballet books, but I could never find exactly what I was looking for. I felt like I needed 10 years of ballet training within a couple of weeks. Things like class etiquette, recital how-tos, and special stretches to boost my extension. I could only imagine that there were more girls like me looking for the same things. And that’s how From Plies to Pirouettes was created!

What do you find most challenging about blogging?

Keeping up! Normally I have to sit down on the weekends and write up all of the posts. But you never can predict when you will have a break. I said that I had to take a break once, because I had a busy weekend. But everything got canceled and I ended up coming back. And then I had to take an unexpected break, and didn’t say I did. I have to be on top of things 100% of the time.

What do you find most challenging about dance?

Patience! Some skills just require muscle memory that only come with time and practice.  Waiting for those muscles to adapt is a killer wait!

What do you love most about blogging?

I love getting feedback from my readers! I enjoy getting special requests for posts, and currently I’m not working on anything so I am open for requests! I love being a part of a world-community of dancers and love that people all over the globe read my blog….it’s wonderful to be a part of a universal dance conversation!

What do you love most about dance?

I love seeing myself excel, as I get new extensions, a better pirouette, and closer to a perfect split! It makes me so happy when I do something correct, I start jumping up and down!

Of the posts you’ve written so far, which do you feel is your best?

I am very proud of my post on Taking Criticism. At that time, I was struggling with studio drama, and sometimes writing basic rules down helps me a lot.

Tell us about one of your shining moments in dance.

Recently, my teacher gave me a compliment that I will remember for the rest of my life. She said “Rebecca, I am your biggest fan. I have never seen a dancer work as hard as you do.”

What do you enjoy doing when you aren’t dancing or blogging?

I love sewing! I like making purses, headpieces, clothes, all sorts of things!  I especially love following sewing blogs and knocking off Anthropologie clothes.

Looking into the future, in what way will dance be a part of your life 5 years from now? 10 years from now?

Five years from now, I am hoping to be in my state’s ballet company, in college, and building my career as a dancer. Ten years from now, I would love to have my own studio, teaching young and old dancers!

What’s next, new, or coming up on your blog?

As the season heats up, I’ll be blogging about auditions, different aspects of a production, balancing life and dance, and anything else that may pop up! I’m also planning some great tutorials for gifts for dancers as the holidays loom ahead.¬† Lots of good stuff! Really soon, I am going to have a whole week of giveaways!¬† As always, we will have good tutorials, handy tips, product reviews, and some really awesome blogs to check out!

I’ve highlighted Chloey and Rebecca because they display genuine love for sharing ballet via their blogs and present posts that show care and thought. As I mentioned, new blogs by young or beginning dancers appear all the time. Some offer experiences, and some advice, but the quality of both can vary. As always, it is a good idea to investigate and consider the source of any advice you might seek to follow online, especially regarding your health and dancing body.

Teachers, it may not be a bad idea to pay attention to this younger population of bloggers, yourself. One, they provide insight into the hearts and minds of your own students. Two, for better or worse, your students are looking online for information about dance. It is natural for them to go to their peers online as well as off. Invest a bit of awareness and interest in what they are learning and where they are learning it. The purpose isn’t to call into question everything they read but to know which areas in your teaching you need to reinforce, explain further, or direct their attention.

Students, please remember to be safe online. Blogs are public forums so please blog safely. Here are some tips for parents and kids. This is an older article but covers additional safety advice. And here are some more great resources on How To Set Up A Blog For Your Child.

Do you blog about dance?
Do you journal your dance training?