The Broadway of Russia: Watching Ballet shows in St. Petersburg (Mariinsky Theatre)

      Im going to start writing a little bit more again on this Blog, as I’ve been Vlogging quite more than the usual but theres really something about writing that makes a memory and a place more beautiful. I went to St. Petersburg, Russia last June for my ballet teacher conference and now I cannot think of a place more fitting to watch ballets.

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My Favourite Vladimir Shklyarov and his wife, danced my favourite Romeo and Juliet

From my years of watching ballets in Tokyo, New York, Hong Kong and in Manila. I feel as though going to Russia just to watch ballets is one of best ways to experience a beautiful ballet, Watching ballet shows in Japan coming next to it. The crowd was so unlike Japan, they were so rowdy when clapping and screaming “Bravo” but they were so appreciative of the art, and at first it surprised me. Having watched most of my ballets in Japan, where everyone claps together and no one dare makes a sound or a cough. In Russia is the complete opposite, they are quiet maybe while the show is going but in between everyone is quite rowdy clapping.

I soon learned to appreciate their ways too and the way their audiences would clap for their favourite dancers. They would also leave flowers to their favourite dancers backstage, and I really loved that they would give plenty of flowers to their favourite dancers. Every show was full and every crowd had a different air. I loved the architecture of the place and the ambiance. When I first entered the Mariinsky, I almost wanted to cry because the place I had been dreaming about for so long was finally here right in front of me. I had tears in my eyes and my heart I knew by then felt a sense of relief and happiness.

Now after my trip even, I feel a sense of nostalgia each time I go into a ballet theatre. I always get flashbacks of my moments and the shows I watched at Mariinsky. I watched a total of 6 different ballets, and initially I had only bought 3 ballet tickets. At the end of my stay, I decided that it was so much more worth it than watching ballets that cost the same back home but with poorer quality.

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With my new and beautiful friends Marianne and Liezl. 

TIPS WHEN WATCHING SHOWS:
1. Buy the tickets online, purchasing them online is much cheaper than purchasing them at the theatre. I was able to get each ticket for about 60-100usd. If you are a student such as myself you can get the ticket on the special rate.

2. There is no need to dress up but it would be nice to look nice as there are some people who are really into dressing up for the ballet.

3. Enjoy and take in everything slowly. It hit me all at once and too quickly, and I cannot wait to return again for my next years of conferences. This time ill be ready to watch more ballet shows.

All the best and Much love.
From Russia with Love,

Lina

UPDATED: MIMI ウサギカフェ〜 (Rabbit and Otter Cafe, Ikebukuro)

UPDATED: New rates and animals in this cafe!

The Backpacking Ballerina

UPDATED BLOG:

This cafe is probably my most オススメ (recommended) of all of the animal cafes that I have been to. Rabbits unlike dogs, cats, birds, penguins and owls are quite different. With the very few people coming here it is the perfect cafe to go to, and I would prefer it over cat and dog cafes anytime. NEW UPDATE: The location has now changed to B1 level of the building instead of the top floor. Rates have also increased by 100Yen since the last time I was here last March 2018.

IMG_3082 Here is the cafes sign on the 8th floor of the building. You will have to knock.

This is how the front of the building looks like in case you get lost just look for Dennys on Sunshine Dori. This is how the front of the building looks like in case you get lost just look for Dennys on Sunshine Dori.

IMG_3108 Smile! Cute rabbits everywhere!

IMG_3129 Hello bunny!

IMG_3143 Here are my two favorite rabbits

IMG_1776 They now have a few naughty otters too! 

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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!