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jocollinsdancer

Delectable Discussions on Dance

Pointe Rehab

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After having surgery earlier this year, I can truly say I have come a long way and having a positive attitude and patience has helped me along my path to recovery.

When I saw the first specialist in December last year about my injury, he told me my career was over. I was devastated, and left the Doctors rooms in tears and feeling like my world had crumbled into a total heap. I was an absolute mess, thinking that I might never dance again, and might never be able to point my foot because he told me that after surgery my range of movement would be extremely limited. (due to the metal pin he was going to put through my ankle joint to stabilize the bones and ligaments!)

It just goes to show, that it pays to take some time to get second, and third opinions, and don’t rush into anything just because that’s what the first person said. 

I found myself a Specialist who listened to me, who could understand what I needed out of my foot, and who didn’t just jump in all guns blazing to do a cool surgery because that’s what Surgeons like to do, they like to cut. Instead, she only operated on what she needed to first, to give me a chance at continuing my career. 

God bless her, she did a fantastic job, and I find myself again dancing, performing and teaching, after a lot of hard work getting my foot to move. It’s still not as strong as it was, but it’s getting there, and now I am even back wearing a pair of pointe shoes! That for me was the ultimate goal, if I could get back en pointe, I could do anything!

Now, here I am rehearsing for 2 shows where I will be performing en pointe in December. I am choreographing a Lyrical which I will perform at the Thames Civic Centre for and with my dance students of the Dance Education Centre, and I am rehearsing to perform in  an excerpt from Les Sylphides which is part of the Apollo Theatre Company production of 1920’s Cinderella. I’m also playing the role of the Fairy Godmother, it’s a Pantomime so I have a few lines to learn which is keeping me busy. 

  I am really enjoying feeling my feet back inside the familiar yet painful pointe shoes. It’s a lot of work, but I’m relishing the chance to push myself and feel my body getting stronger each week. I can definitely feel the huge difference between my feet. My right foot is super strong and bends the shoe to it’s will, to the point where I need to constantly change the right shoe over to the left foot and put a newer shoe on the right side again. The left foot I have to really concentrate hard on knowing where it is. I need to focus a lot on the alignment so that I don’t ‘fish’ both of my feet as I have a tendency to dance on my big toes. Turnout is a big issue – of course, it always is for every ballerina – I feel a decent amount of pain on the outside of my left ankle when I’m trying to turnout the foot while it is my supporting leg. This is the area of my ankle where the injury was very swollen, and still to this day is bigger around the entry site from the surgery, than on my right foot.  

What I have found interesting, is that now I’m very nervous about performing Releves on my left foot. This side used to be my strong supporting side, and I was able to Releve repeatedly to do virtuosity steps such as Grand Fouette Releve en Tournant, and now I feel almost scared to pull that foot up onto pointe underneath me. I’m quite happy to Pose onto pointe and turn to the left, but the strong ‘snatch’ action of the Releve is going to take me some time to get confident with. I can feel the lack of power in my calf and the looseness of my ankle – I have naturally very flexible ankles, and without the strength I had previously developed to hold them tight, the left one now wobbles around like a bobble-head doll at the end of my leg. Not really ideal, ha ha. 

So, now I have 3 weeks until I make my debut en pointe, firstly in Thames, and the following week in Auckland. The plan is to continue working hard, do some strengthening exercises each day alongside my Tracy Anderson workouts, and of course, run through the dances a lot to build up my stamina. That’s where the danger sets in, when I’m tired during the dance and I can feel lactic acid in my foot and lower leg. So that will take some determination and will power to keep pushing through, and the best medicine as I said before, is to just run the dance through, full-out, over and over again.

Fingers and Toes crossed, I hope I can do it!

 

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Glenn Miller Magic Continues…

Well it’s been a couple of weeks since we finished our tour with the fabulous Glenn Miller Orchestra, and I can honestly say it was one of the best dance jobs I’ve had in my career. 

Following on from my last blog, I thought I’d share a few stories about the rest of the tour. Last time I wrote we were yet to head down to Masterton, Napier, and Wellington before jumping on the InterIslander Ferry to go to the South Island.

Our shows all over were so well received, and with so many people in the audience the applause was breathtaking. We would all come off stage with huge grins on our faces after busting out or dances and hearing everyone clapping and cheering for us. 

It was my first time performing in the Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington, and it was a great experience. It’s a concert hall, so there were no Wings, and no Proscenium Arch, the audience had seats right around the sides of us, so we could be seen from all angles. It was a different experience performing that way, I had to keep reminding myself to look out at all the people and try to connect with the whole audience, not just those sitting in front of us. 

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Michael Fowler Centre Auditorium
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Pianist Mark Balling during Soundcheck

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After our shows in Wellington we were all loaded onto the Ferry early the next morning and sailed over to Picton where we met our new bus for the South Island leg of the tour. Thankfully for those people who didn’t have their sea-legs, the trip was very smooth, it was very windy on the top deck, but it was absolutely beautiful looking at the countryside as we came in to Port. 

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Our brilliant Tour Promoter Ian, organized for us to have lunch at Hunters Vineyard on our way to Nelson, which was a lovely treat.  All our shows in the South Island went extremely well, and again we had fantastic responses from the audiences.

We performed in Nelson, Westport, Greymouth, Christchurch, Timaru, Invercargill, and Dunedin. It was very lucky that we were able to get through the pass from Greymouth to Christchurch, as the weather had been so horrendous. We waited over 2 hours for Snow Ploughs to clear the way so we were able to drive into the pass, and it was absolutely stunning, completely covered in snow! Like something out of a movie. I’d never seen so much snow in my life!

Unfortunately I became very sick during our time in Invercargill and Dunedin. I was coughing, feeling weak in my muscles, and at one stage I completely lost my voice. In order to keep performing well in the shows I decided to stay in bed at the hotels and rest as long as I could. It felt like a shame to be missing out on spending time with our guests seeing the sights, but I was there to do a job and do it well. I didn’t want my flu compromising my dancing.

Wendy, our amazing lead female singer – who performed with Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, and The Supremes – gave me some Cayenne Pepper to put in my soup, and some Vocal-Ease lozenges that were the most disgusting tasting things I’ve ever had in my life! But man, they worked.

I was still dancing each show hard-out, busting my chops every night, and then collapsing in bed right after. I got to the point where I was feeling much better, but each show once we had finished performing “In The Mood” (our fastest routine) I would have a coughing fit, and couldn’t stop due to the cold air in my lungs and throat. 

Simon -a fellow dancer – said to me one night that I fueled his smile during our whole last routine, because he saw me in the Wings coughing up my lungs and the next second I was on stage with a big grin on my face. The audience would never know!

Perhaps our biggest travel days came after our Dunedin shows. The next morning we flew from Dunedin to Wellington, 1hr 45 mins flight time, then jumped on the bus and drove from Wellington to Napier, 5hrs 10mins driving on the bus, then we had just enough time to shower before putting on make-up and doing our hair and performing the show! It was a bit chaotic but we made it. The trip to Christchurch was fairly tight getting to the theatre on time too, as waiting for the road to clear put us behind schedule, so again we only had a short window of time before we had to be at the theatre. 

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Sound check at CBS Arena Christchurch

Each day there was something to keep us on our toes, which made it really enjoyable. Sometimes it was the difference of performing in a gigantic space like the CBS Arena in Christchurch to a teeny tiny stage with only one meter of dance space in Masterton or Whangarei. Other days it was the band leader Rick Gerber changing the set list and taking out a couple of songs here and there, and forgetting to tell us. So we had to quick change and be ready to run on stage, and unbeknownst to the audience, sometimes we were definitely not ready! 

We would hear our song announced from the dressing room, and absolute PANIC and CHAOS would ensue. We’d all be sprinting down the hallways and stairs, tying up our belts or pulling up our knickers as we sprinted backstage into the Wings and literally flew on stage! 

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Sun Valley Jump

I was extremely fortunate to be working with such fantastic people during this tour. And I must give a special mention to my amazing dance partner Anton Fassler. Every night we made each other smile, and we gave every single dance, in every single performance our full energy and commitment. Anton is a great partner who I would trust with my life. I felt so comfortable leaping up into the air and spinning around with him, he made me feel like a 1940’s princess while we were on stage. 

I trusted him so much, that when we put in a new lift at the end of “In The Mood” I volunteered a lift that I had been so scared of doing in swing shows years ago. But with Anton, I knew we could tackle it, and I knew it would look amazing and I would be safe with him. 

The lift worked like a charm, and it saved my wrist – an injury to my left wrist was the reason for changing the lift – and I really enjoyed performing with Anton every night. One of the most caring, warm, and entertaining people I know. 

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Little Brown Jug

 

Simon Watts and I had so much fun performing our Tap number together, each show this routine developed and grew, and we had a laugh playing off each other and getting to throw some comedy into the show. This routine was really well received by all our audiences, and was Wendy’s favorite which was very cool. Simon is one of the most amazing Tap and Hip Hop dancers I’ve met. Every night he would go on stage and improvise, develop, and fine tune what he was doing. I had an absolute blast dancing with him. Simon has a wicked sense of humor and is a really genuine spirit. He challenged me, and he made me laugh like crazy. 

 

Next I must give a shout out to Belinda Moore, who was my “Roomie” for the tour and fellow female swing dancer. This girl is so talented and is a master at tackling different forms of dance and being so versatile that it looks like she has been doing that style for years. She looked after me during the tour, made me giggle, and tried to teach me how to ‘chuck’ stuff across the room. Belinda is a passionate person, someone I admire for her courage and strength. It was so much fun spending more time with her during the tour and getting to know her even better. 

Finally we were on the home stretch after Napier, and headed back to Auckland via Hamilton, for our last shows. It was very sad coming to the end of the tour. We had all bonded so much and we all had a mutual appreciation for the skills, talent, and great people that we were surrounded with. Our crew that traveled with us were absolutely outstanding. Hours and hours they would spend Bumping In, Packing Out, traveling to the next venue, and they all took such great care of us – they were mostly performers as well. 

Our last show at Aotea Centre in Auckland was very emotional. We were all backstage crying when the Swing Kittens sang Pokarekare Ana for the last time, and Anton made me cry on stage when we shared a smile during our curtain call. 

It was such an honor to be a part of such a special tour. 

Some more stories to tell my future Grandchildren one day. 

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On the road with the Glenn Miller Orchestra

Hello to anyone out there reading my blog, I’m really sorry it has been a while since I have posted anything!

I am currently on tour across New Zealand with the Glenn Miller Orchestra from the United States. It is a massive tour over 30 days.  So far we have performed in New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Hamilton, Rotorua, Taupo, Tauranga, Whangarei and Auckland. 

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Every show we have had packed houses, some shows sold out within minutes of tickets being available and it is just fantastic to perform for so many people and hear them clapping, cheering and enjoying themselves.

Today we have arrived back in New Plymouth for a performance tomorrow night – we are all enjoying a well needed night off. Our schedule has been very hectic, travelling around in a crazy zig zag across the North Island.  We have been going back and forth on the bus, we travel for hours a day and sometimes arrive just in time to get to the theatre and start hair and makeup for a matinee show.

It is tiring with all the travel, but it is so much fun to be touring the country with such a great bunch of people.  The opportunity to see more of N.Z and explore what’s in my own “back yard” is so wonderful, the other dancers and I are really enjoying being the local tour guides for our new American friends.

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 Some of the Orchestra members having a Jam Session after our shows in Tauranga.

The Orchestra members and Singers come from Los Angeles, and are some of the friendliest people I’ve met.  Right from our first rehearsal on stage before opening night, Rick Gerber – the Orchestra leader – was checking on the tempo of each song that we danced to. It was such a lovely thing to do, and we were all blown away that he would ask us if the tempo suited us to dance to.

In my mind I was thinking You’re the Glenn Miller Orchestra, I will dance to whatever tempo you want me to!

The shows have been so much fun to dance in every night. Some days we have two shows per day, so we all enjoy the days when we can rest our bodies. We are all dancing Swing which is very cardiovascular, and Simon Watts and I also perform a Tap duo.  Each night the shows are getting better and evolving as we get further into the tour.

As we get to know the Orchestra members better, our chemistry on stage grows too. We now have more moments where we interact with them during our dances and it makes each show different and special.

Dancing to such an amazing live Orchestra is just such a wonderful honour every time. To have all those musicians and all their energy with you on stage is a great feeling.  They are all very genuine in their performance for each show, and it’s so touching to meet the audience members after the show and hear how much they enjoyed it.

Last night I had the privilege of meeting Harold Clague, a gorgeous 85 year old gentleman who was the Jitterbug Champion in 1942!

He had tears in his eyes as he told us that W.W.2 was a time of good music and we had brought back memories for him.  Moments like that I will remember forever.

My Husband, Aunt and Uncle, and some of my dance students have come to see the show, which is so wonderful to have their support. They all enjoyed it and the music brought back different memories for each of them.  With the mix of Singers and Dancers the show is very much a celebration of the era and there is something in it for everyone.

We are very lucky that we have been well looked after on the tour. Our Promoter has organized fantastic accommodation, and there is always a hot meal for us at the theatre.  With over 20 Musicians, 5 Singers, 4 Dancers, and 5 Crew, that’s no small task.

Well, for now that’s where I will love you and leave you. I need to catch a Nanna-Nap while I have some free time this afternoon.

More shenanigan reports from the Glenn Miller tour to follow……

Glenn Miller Tour - American Patrol Costumes

A sneak peek at our wonderful costumes that we will be wearing on tour!

http://www.ticketmaster.co.nz/Glenn-Miller-Orchestra-tickets/artist/821258?brand=tm&tm_link=tm_artist_rv_viewed1_name

Hopefully this link works….I’m about to embark on a month long tour of New Zealand with the amazing Glenn Miller Orchestra from the United States.

We are touring North and South Islands, and will be performing with these great musicians and some awesome singers such as The Swing Kittens from U.S.A

As you can see via this link, tickets are selling out! So grab yours a.s.a.p so you don’t miss out on a FANTASTIC SHOW!

Dancing Fashionistas

Swedish House Mafia dress

The past month I was fortunate to be cast in the Sylvia Park Winter 2013 Fashion Show.

It was a great experience for me to learn about working the Catwalk and try to blend Modelling and Dancing together.

My previous experience with dancing on a Catwalk was when I was about 6 years old, and the unusual shape of the stage put me off and I ended up forgetting some of my dance “Tinkerbell” my Barefoot that was supposed to be a sweet entertainment while the models changed. Luckily I had the gumption to carry on and improvise, but I was shaken up about it because it had never happened to me before…and thankfully never did again. I’ve always been a very quick learner and retain choreography well.

Anyhow, this experience as a professional dancer was very different.

A few days before the show (after weeks of rehearsals) all the dancers went into the offices of the mall to be fitted into all the clothes. There were so many racks with so many clothes in this one room, I didn’t know where to look. Each rack had the dancer’s photo and resume taped at one end of it, and all the lovely clothes hung up in order of what outfit went with what routine.Sylvia Park 2

The Stylists had the hard task of making sure each model was matched with every other model in the same routine, and that all of the stores in the huge shopping mall had pieces in the show. It must’ve been a massive undertaking for them, and they all treated us so well, and acted calm and collected even while we were diplomatically trying to tell them that some things didn’t fit, and others wouldn’t work with the amount of movement/dancing that we were doing.

It was a lot of fun trying on all the clothes, I am a real “girly-girl” so I was more than happy to spend my morning trying on various outfits and accessories.  We made sure everything was also able to be danced in, it was funny trying to do the choreography in between the racks of clothes, and try and test out the shoes and put our arms up in the jackets without damaging anything….usually costumes are made to fit the dancer, and made to be moved in. High kicks, arms whipping around, etc. but these were lovely, and sometimes expensive, everyday clothes. It’s not often someone is going to tell the Country Road saleswoman that they need a pair of pants they can put their leg behind their head in!

 These little black dresses (in the photo with the canes) were one of my favourite pieces to wear, as soon as I tried it on I was in love. Mine came from Witchery and had a lovely cut that flattered my shape, the skirt flared out, and it had lace down the sides and over the shoulders. Gorgeous!

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Unfortunately there were a couple of outfits that I thought didn’t suit me, or didn’t show off my figure to its best advantage, but as a model and a dancer you have to just suck it up and go with it. You are there for the show, for the clients, your agent, and the designers.

I think there are so many advantages to having dancers model the clothes. First of all the show is supremely more entertaining than just watching people walk down the runway. We had Tap, Contemporary, Jazz,  and Hip Hop, Acrobatics, and all sorts going on. People can see the clothes moving to the extreme and enjoy being thoroughly entertained.

The other advantage, is that unlike most models, dancers have a bit more muscle, and even though we can do some amazing and crazy things, I think we are a bit more relate-able to the men and women out there shopping for their winter gear, than the pin-thin models at New York Fashion Week.

Not that I have anything against the models, or the Victoria’s Secret Angels, I think they are all amazing and look fantastic! But I think our cast was great because we had a combination of tall, short, curvy, lean, male, female, kids, teens, blondes and brunettes! So people could get a real idea of what they would look like in the Sylvia Park 4clothes.

With the great combination of the fun, up to date music, gorgeous fashion, great set and lighting, inspired choreography, and talented dancers, this show was a hit.

I was very fortunate to have some of my students, family and friends travel from out of town to come and see the show and support me, and it was so wonderful to see them there and have their support. People don’t realise how much it really means to have that support in the audience. To know that there is someone out there who has come to see you, and cheer you on, it makes you so happy and feel so special. So I want to thank you all so much for being there. I hope that we entertained and inspired you all.

As a regular “Winter Hater” this show was also great for me, because I now can really appreciate winter fashion, the colours, the layers, and it taught me how to look at my winter clothes in a new and fun way.

Empire State of MindSylvia Park 6

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If any of you have seen my Facebook pages you will have just seen me post these photos.

These gorgeous ladies are demonstrating one of my favourite lines, a brilliant extension of the a la second position.

I don’t know what it is about a gorgeous developpe in this position, but when it’s done well it gets me every time. Even more so than a Penche. I guess it’s because to me, this position feels so delicious to execute, and it looks like absolute freedom of the hips, and most of all , the upper body can be so expressive.

It’s interesting how fantastic the leg positions are on these two dancers, but the arms definitely need some work. Neither dancer has as a perfect  classical shape through the arms and hands as they do on the legs. Thus bringing me back to one of my previous posts, about how more time needs to be spent on Port de Bras. It is so important!

What are your thoughts?

What is your favourite dance image/position, that inspires the feeling of freedom?

 

Swing Madness!

 

 

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I have been very fortunate this year to have been chosen to dance in a tour with the famous Glenn Miller Band from the United States!

They are coming to New Zealand during May and June, and we are touring the North and South Islands with them, and we will be busting it out Swing style to their amazing sounds.

I’m so excited! We started rehearsals last week, and so far I am having an absolute ball. My partner is fantastic, so much energy and we both act like clowns but give the dancing everything we’ve got. There are only four dancers for this tour, so I feel very honoured to be a part of it.

Our choreographer is doing a fantastic job of capturing the authentic Swing style, and incorporating movements that suit the four dancers with our backgrounds in Jazz, Hip Hop, Cabaret, Ballet, Tap and Contemporary. It is certainly the most fun I’ve had dancing in a while.

Something about Swing dancing, and Swing music just makes me so happy, and makes me smile. Maybe it’s because I have so many fond memories of dancing with Swing Patrol in Melbourne, or maybe it’s the thrill of being whipped around the dance floor by my partner, who knows.

One thing I will tell you, is if you want a good cardio workout, go do some Swing Dancing! I’d forgotten how energetic it is and how fit I was when I was performing the Swing show when I worked on Cruise Ships. You might not have to point your toes and turnout like you do in Ballet, but boy you will work up a sweat keeping up with the fast paced tracks, jumping and kicking those legs! And to think I have to do it all in heels eventually! Ahh

For this tour we will be learning 6 routines, and dancing almost every night of the month that we are on tour – bar those days that we are traveling further. I can foresee myself having many naps on the bus in between shows.

I’m looking forward to trying on all our costumes, I absolutely adore the fashion of that era and am keen to get into my high-waisted shorts, put my hair in some Victory Rolls, and smack on some red lipstick.

If you wanna come along and see us dancing our socks off, and hear the most amazing Swing Band of all time, tickets are selling on Ticketek so get in quick!

06-28-Swing-Dance,-Caitlin-

One and a Half Days Left!

tracy 1So this week I challenged myself to stick to the first week of the Tracy Anderson Metamorphosis Dynamic Eating Plan.

It was basically a mix of vegetables, pureed and the combinations were tastier than I expected. I experimented with heating them up and having them cold to see what I liked better, some things such as the Sweet Potato and Corn pudding, were better warm. My favourite combo had to be the Vegie Protein Soup, which was basically Broccoli, Chicken, Celery, and some stock, and tasted delicious.

During the day I’ve found the small servings to suit me well, there are enough of them that you have something small every few hours, and it’s a good feeling that you are giving your body some yummy veggies to help fuel your workouts and cleanse your system.

I used a protein shake in the morning instead of her juice – as I don’t have a juicer – and on most days I didn’t eat the Chocolate Pudding as I don’t usually have dessert, so I still have 2 servings left of that. Even though it is SUPER YUM,  I decided to save it for this weekend.

During this week I have been doing the Tracy Anderson cardio and muscular structure workouts every day, and my energy levels have been good except for Day 5 where I felt tired and floppy.

The only alteration I had to the diet, was a couple of dinners with my husband, where I had a chicken breast and vegetables, and the other was a piece of beef and salad. When I compare these to the Vegie Protein Soup that was on the menu, it’s not much of a change. I still kept my servings small and didn’t add any breads, wheats, rice, or pasta.

So after my wee challenge I have Saturday afternoon and Sunday left to go, and I’m really feeling good about what I have achieved. I’ve been eating healthy all week and feel lighter in my stomach and after weighing myself I’ve lost 1.1kg.

Next week I will be up to my 10th day of the workouts which is when I will re-take all of my measurements (according to the instructions on this Metamorphosis program) so it will be interesting to see how my progress goes.

What I like about this program is that each week is a different menu, and every 10 days you change your muscular structure workout, so you are constantly being challenged, and you don’t get bored. Although one week is definitely long enough for this “Nutrient Boost” menu, because I was starting to get tired of  having the same options every day.

But, the results are inspiring me to carry on!

Next week the menu changes, to include protein bars – which I will use my protein shakes for – poached or boiled eggs, blueberries and kiwi fruit, and chicken breast with a variety of sides. Yum, looking forward to some more solid food. ha ha.

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