EXPLORING TOKYO: Harinezumi Cafe (Hedgehog cafe), Harajuku

Hello Everyone!

This last short trip of mine back home was quite a rush. I wasn’t able to do anything other than watch a ballet, go to the ballet store and to see my good friend Rei in Harajuku. I got to do something quite fun this time, we got to got to the hedgehog cafe and to enjoy the company of these creatures.

Harajuku is quite known for its strange cafes, they have a bunch of owl and otter cafes around the Takeshita dori area. If you walk around I am sure you will always find something to do here. Harajuku is a place that is quite alive and an escape for a lot of young people, like myself (haha). Kidding aside, I decided to turn this into a VLOG instead to explain better and show more about the cafe.

Leaving you the link to the cafe here, in case you are interested in such Cafes. HARRY Harajuku

Till next time!
さようなら〜!

Getting a tourist visa to Russia, in Manila

Surprise surprise! Im going to Russia! I recently got accepted to the training program at the Vaganova ballet academy in June. This is probably one of the only visas ill ever need, being a Japanese. I have a lot of respect for those who have to go through this VISA trouble, just to get to a country you want to visit. Most especially for those who need a visa for a lot of countries.

I had quite an experience, in getting a Russian tourist visa that I just had to write about it. The first thing I did was to call the Russian embassy, the problem was, the persons on the phone were Russians who could not speak good english, it was quite a confusing call. We ended up saying pardon me? And can you repeat? Over and over again. After this, I contemplated on getting my visa to get done by an agent. I lived in Quezon City, and with Manila traffic, going to Makati would be a huge hassle. But with the blogs I read, assured that I could do it myself so i did, and I also wanted to try to do it, for the experience.

So i went on a Tuesday, and i found out that the embassy in McKinley is not where you apply for a VISA. VISA’s are processed in the RCI building at RADA ST. in Makati. So that was my first mistake, my second mistake was that i looked up online and it said it was only open TTH but apparently upon getting to the embassy they were only open MWF. So i wasted 4 hours in traffic from QC-MAKATI and that happened to me the same week I went on Wednesday, just to find out that it was a RUSSIAN HOLIDAY. So make sure before coming here, you come on a MONDAY, WEDNESDAY or FRIDAY, come early and you should check if it is or not a Russian holiday.

REQUIREMENTS:
You will not be able to apply for a visa without the following requirements:
1. ELECTRONIC VISA APPLICATION FORM which is processed on their website: http://visa.kdmi.ru
2. ID photo (photo for the VISA) photo has to have plain white background and natural face with no hair around your face (You will have to stick this on the electronic visa application form which you will have to print out on an A4 paper)
3. Ticket to Russia
4. Hotel, Accommodation and Itinerary
5. VISA SUPPORT, VOUCHER or Invitation to stay in Russia ( this is the most important, I got mine from http://hotels-pro.ru/order/hotelspro, some hotels also send out these invitations for you with an extra charge. The price should be around $30usd extra and nothing more.
6. Passport

TIPS ON YOUR APPLICATION DAY: 
1. Make sure you come early so that you can get your name NOTED DOWN in line. I was here at 8am but i was already 20th in line. Im not one who likes to wait especially since I woke up at 6am to drive here.

2. These are the actual OPENING HOURS:
Monday-Wed-Friday
9:30-1:00pm
(Not open on Russian holidays, so you should check for holidays) ** double check this before coming to the embassy 

So i waited a good hour for the consul to arrive, he forgot that he had to be at the office. So one of the travel agents decided to just pick him up. The process itself was very smooth, I waited for 6 hours from 8am before I got called around 2pm, and he just asked a few questions and then asked me to pay at UCPB which is around a 5 minute walk from the building.  Afterwards you just come back to the embassy to give him the paper, and voila! You can get your visa either rush or not. I think prices vary depending on the kind of visa you get, but for my 30 day single entry visa I paid Php 1800.

I noticed some individuals were asked for supporting documents, but maybe that was because they weren’t applying for a tourist visa such as myself.

All in all, for my first time, It was really a funny experience to get this VISA. I just decided to write about it since there aren’t a lot of blogs about it, maybe because its rare for someone to be wanting to go to Russia. But I am quite excited for this new experience, hoping this could help someone who wants to go to Russia, from Manila too!

Stuck in a dance plateau?

Do you feel like you’re not improving at all? Don’t worry we’ve all been there. Its normal, even in life sometimes to feel like, something is missing or something is not right. There will be days when you feel different and days when you feel like everything is in perfect place. But life is always about a good balance of everything and about overcoming these times when we feel like we’re stuck somewhere in our dance lives.

So here are my personal tips, and I also made a video to explain something about being in your dance plateau. Hope that these help you improve and help you gain more understanding to your dancing and your thinking too. Most of your dancing actually comes from your willpower to keep on going.

  1. Step out of your comfort zone
    There are different reasons of being in your dance plateau. You have to do the assessment yourself, are you putting enough hours? Are you getting enough time to practice? If you are, then maybe you just need to try something new. Sometimes, its okay to take a short break to destress and to do something different from what you usually do. Learn to get out of your comfort zone, in and out of class.

    You can try taking a new style of dance maybe? Or maybe try going to a new teacher just to bring out some new ideas and give your mind some more.

  2. Talk to your teacher 
    Sometimes your teacher doesn’t tell you up front in class, because she doesn’t want you to get hurt in front of your classmates. But the more you ask, the more you will find out. Maybe your teacher has somethings she wants to say, or maybe you also have things you want to clarify. Learn to communicate with your teacher, create a good relationship with him/her. If she gives you some constructive criticism, learn to accept it and learn from the new information.
  3. Go back to your basics 
    Maybe you’re missing something? Maybe you are not. But it is always good to go back to your basics. Try a slower class maybe to help you break down all the steps again. Slow classes are always good for all of us.
  4. Find your own identity and focus on your own body
    Maybe you feel like you are stuck because you are comparing yourself to the girls around or beside you. Not everything in life is a competition, most especially ballet. This is why I love ballet, you can be good at something that someone is not. Someone can be better but you can be better at other things. Find your niche, find you own identity and focus on your own body.
  5. Set GOALS
    Go to class with a goal in mind, I encourage every dancer to keep a notebook of their goals and dreams. It is always better to write things down than to type them on your computer. When you write things, they process better in your head. Set a goal every week, and talk with your teacher, and ask her to help you note your concerns and the thing you would still like to improve.
  6. Enjoy the process

    I will always finish my blogs with, Enjoying the process. Because that after all is what will keep you sane. The only thing you can control is how you can react to things, so enjoy each and every step and problem you encounter with you dancing.

    Its not everyday that you feel this way. Your dancing may be feeling like it is plateauing, but remember there is always a spike up in improvement every now and then. Just keep on going and keep your mind set farsighted on your goals. Hope these tips help! and you can catch my VLOG on the same topic too, on YouTube.

 

Finding your inner dancer and brining it out

DSC05889Unless you were born with beautiful hyperextended long legs and arms, a small head and beautifully high arched feet, its much harder to imagine yourself into a beautiful ballerina. Especially now more so with the influence of social media, as an owner of a dance brand and a dance teacher, I can see how people react when they see girls with beautiful lines as compared to those who don’t. I myself guilty, get excited when I see someone who is talented, but as a teacher I also want them to understand that being talented comes with responsibility too.

Some teachers might tellyou straight up, “look you’re not cut out to be a dancer”. Which is what I was told when I was 13 years old. Despite having long legs, I was far from a perfect ballerina, bad knees, not so good arched feet, but the only good attribute I saw in myself was having long arms and legs also I knew I had really good musicality, and not saying this to brag but I could jump really high. But if you lived in a country, where majority of the dancers average height would be 5’3 and you were 5’7 by the age of 15. You can only imagine how much criticism I had to deal with, before learning to accept what I had and to develop the strengths, rather than focus on my weaknesses.

Despite all the physical limitations I had, from watching plenty of ballets, I slowly learned that our physical attributes alone is not what makes you a memorable artist. I learned that, even physicalimperfections can look beautiful too. This is what makes ballet so subjective, not everyone will really like what I say too. Some people will really just say, its just not for everyone, but this is also what makes ballet an art and not a sport.

Of course not to disregard good technique and improving yourself. You will still have to put in more hours than those who are gifted with those beautiful lines, but discovering who I was as an artist was far more exciting than focusing on my weaknesses. I slowly had to learn to work hard everyday, double of those dancers who already “had it” and worked on cleaning my technique.

  1. Learn what your strengths are

It takes a while to find out what you are good at, but I’m sure there is something you are bestat that you can use to your advantage. For example, I knew I was really good in Jumps, that was what I was so good at, I knew I would get noticed for my good jumps. But of course a variation cannot just be jumping, there are other things involved. I still had to focus on my technique, but Jumping was my most favorite, and those were the variations that I got.

I remember coming into the dance studio, not even knowing how to do proper fouettes. I cried every time I could not do something. But I had to tell myself everyday, that It was going to happen, this is when i put my visualization into practice, I imagined being able to do them perfectly, I videoed myself so I could correct myself when I got home and I practiced to get them right.

  1. Practice

I remember someone telling me once that sports and anything that require practice is 1% theory and 99% practice. I still believe this, I may read plenty of books on dance every month, but thats just to add to my knowledge. Remember to feed your brain too, not just your muscles. My mom used to say, “Beautiful dancers are smart dancers”, What she meant was if you have nothing in your brain you will dance like you have nothing in your brain too. But if you don’t practice, you will also dance like you do not practice, and smart dancers do BOTH.

I still love scrolling around the internet, looking for every dance related article I can get my hands on to learn at. But what good is reading if I cannot apply everything that I am learning? Every story, every dance learning and non dance biography i read, can teach you something that you can apply in your dancing.

So keep on practicing, even if it means not going out with your friends sometimes, or sacrificing family time for your dance practice. If dance is something you love, you will get that family time and the break you need in the future. Later on, you will face other problems, but while you are young and your obligations aren’t so tough yet, practice with every chance you have. Your parents and your family should be happy for you and your new found focus for your passions.

  1. Observe what’s around you and experience things

Besides practicing everyday, of course sometimes you will need a break too. So if you are going through a phase where you feel stuck, go out, experience life. It is what will make your dancing  beautiful. What good is dancing if it makes you sad? Dancing is supposed to give a spark into you.

  1. Don’t forget to do everything with a smile

Many of us forget that, dance being our passion, we are supposed to be doing it because we love it, not because we had no other option to our lives. We choose how we live our lives, and although the current trend seems to come from a lot of hate. It should not be what defines our personality and our thoughts.

The next time you think about another one of your insecurities, take a breath, and remember why you started dancing in the first place. I would suggest writing this down on a notebook, give it some time and some thought. I myself always ask my students to keep writing down their corrections, their dreams on a notebook. This way you can read back to them, so you are always inspired to continue. And if it doesn’t inspire you anymore, keep on writing anyway. There is always something new to learn and something to be happy about.

Remember, dance is life, but not your whole life. A lot of things make up your life, its good to have dance in life, but don’t get carried away to the point it gets you crazy. Have friends, in and out of your dance life and your dancing will come out very beautiful too.

Mission Rome

It took a long time for me to write this, I actually travelled to Rome last October and I still remember all of my favourite sights. What surprised me though was the rich history and culture that it had. Also the secret tours and tunnels that we were able to experience, thanks to my mom. Rome has a lot to offer for those who are really interested in its rich history, its aqueducts and the cool excavation tours.

I was finally able to summarise the first half of my experience through my Vlog, I will probably just write down in my next blog, about the ballet classes I was able to take and experience in Rome. It was a really good vacation for me, and I hope to do something like this again, if my budget permits.

Its been so long since I’ve actually written on my blog, because of my crazy schedule. Compared to last year, I have a lot more pressure riding on me. Such as my soon to come board exam on October, which has been putting a lot of stress on me. I hope I find the strength and the will to keep on going and studying. While trying to keep my spirit alive by dancing.

Hoping to find time to write more again,
CIAO!

6 steps on how I prepare for my ballet recital

So for some dancers who have been asking me to make a video about this, here is the blog version and you can visit the youtube link for the video version! This would be the perfect time to make this as it is our recital this coming Sunday. So for your reference, here are a few tips and lists you may follow:

1. Make a list
Its really important to make a short list of all your dances and make sure that you have all your costumes and headdresses that you need for that dance. Check if your costumes are clean and make sure that you have everything that you need.

2. Bring extras of everything
Extra hairpins, extra leotards, extra tights, extra warmers, extras of everything is really important. Ballet shoes, pointe shoes, sewing kit, ribbons and garters. Its really better to prepared for every kind of situation than to regret it later on. Of course don’t forget your make up!

3. Preparing the day before the show
Rest yourself well and eat well the day before the show. I like to eat less greasy foods before the day of the show.

4. Double check everything
I always double check everything that i need before the show and for the day of the recital. Sometimes you just leave things by accident and you just have to be very careful about it.

5. Don’t forget your snacks, water and get to the theatre before your call time.
These things are important because you’re going to be waiting for a long time. You can bring a book or an i pod with your music then some light snacks are good too.

6. HAVE FUN!
This is the collation of everything you’ve been working on for months and months. By this time your body already knows the feeling of dancing even in your sleep. Don’t forget to smile and to bring your heart with you!

Hope this helps you dancers, on some tips you can take to prepare for your up and coming recitals.

WHAT I THINK MAKES A GOOD DANCE TEACHER, THE KIND I ASPIRE TO BE:


Anyone can be a dancer but not everyone has the skills to be an effective and good dance teacher. It takes so much skill and patience for a teacher to be able to mold a beginner into what they visualise someday for their dancers. Theres so much more to teaching than a lot of people think of it, even more than just choreographing steps, its an art.
We all of course differ in our opinions of what makes a good dance teacher. Some would prefer a more relaxed and happy teacher as others might prefer a more strict teacher. I don’t think theres just one way of teaching, each teacher has something to offer. But regardless of that I think there are certain qualities that A eacher should possess.

1. Professionalism:  A good teacher respects her students. I think a teacher should be someone you will respect no matter what situation. They can handle situations effectively, in the way they speak, talk and dress. Its really important that the teacher for me interacts well with students.

2. Experience and Reputation: Although i don’t believe that a dance teachers educational background matters or is directly related to their way of teaching, as I have had plenty of amazing dance teachers who didn’t even take dance as a course. I think reputation and experience speaks for them. Plenty of dancers, even without any certification such as retired professionals can be amazing dance teachers. I think its important to consider how long they have been teaching and observe their class before enrolling too.

3. Patience and Organisation: A good teacher, knows how to organise his or her lessons. And and effective teacher knows that it takes time to master a step and choreography. A good teacher puts emphasis on the simple steps, rather than jumping straight to the difficult ones.

4. Punctuality: A good dance teacher is always a good example. Being Punctual means he or is a responsible teacher, if your teacher is more than 10 mins late to class with no apparent reason all the time then i think you should consider changing your school.

5. Dedication: A good teacher is completely dedicated to teaching you the best things they know.

6. Constantly learning: A good teacher is also someone who constantly strives to be better, and to give you the best dance education.

7. Passion: And finally a good dance teacher is passionate about what she or he does. Good dance teachers, inspire and they share. They are constantly giving and learning for you. A teacher is also a student, A teacher learns new things and adapts them for you in class. This is what i aim to be, to generate dancers who want to dance and to inspire them to aspire to become the best in an artistic and technical way.

if you have a teacher like this then good for you! REMEMBER: At the end say that a good teacher deserves an equally good student, so do your best and do them justice. Tag your favourite dance teachers and tell them how much you love them. ❤