Dongdaemun Fabric Market: Korea

The fabric market: located at Dongdaemun is the building right behind the Marriott hotel, its not very difficult to find, just take exit 2 and walk straight ahead, no need to cross the street unless you’re on the other side of Marriott and enjoy shopping.

Fabric selections include, cotton, wool, twill, laces and the top floor has a whole lot of accessories.

Price range: It was expensive as compared to the Philippines but I do not regret coming here to get an idea of how the fabrics were priced. Some ranged from around 10,000 won per yard which is about 500 pesos, it depends what you were looking for but in my opinion it was just not worth it unless for single items, but its worth the look because the laces and the other lace items were so beautiful, you don’t find very pretty lace and embellishments in the Philippines.

Ballet Stores in Korea 

Finally finished this blog and vlog for korea, i think for address references its much easier to do a BLOG compared to a VLOG but the vlog will give you more of an idea of how the area looks like and how difficult it was to find these locations. Here were the stores we visited and the stores that you can all consider visiting if ever you end up in Korea, although I wasn’t a fan of the items, i sure was a fan of the really good quality tights that they had at each store. They all had their own brands but I suspect it comes from a single supplier just with different rebranding. Most of the stores were located near one another and there was just one store I didn’t go to that was suggested because it was so out of the way from where most of the stores were.

V denie and E ballet shop were the first we found on the way to GANGNAM. Korea is really hard to get around on because they don’t like google maps. But we used instagram to get most of the locations of the places we wanted to visit before coming to the stores. I suggest you do the same if you want to find their addresses. As if you don’t search it in Korean most shops do not come out.
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1. V DENIE 
This was the first store we visited on our list, what was great about V denie were the super cheap and super soft tights. I recommend bringing home plenty. We bought about 20 pairs for about 15 usd each. They are open on Monday-Saturday from 11-7pm but they have a lunch break at around 12 and the staff did not speak any english so be prepared to use google translate and some hand gestures.
2. BALLESSIMO
Ballessimos physical store closed last year but they still have their online store in Korea, so if you plan to stay there before your trip and maybe you can have your items shipped to the hotel to avoid any hassles. At least you can contact them while you are there for any problems.
3. TOP TOE KOREA
E ballet shop was right at the corner near V denie 8 mins walk from each other according to google maps. It had the most brands of leotards such as Yumikos, Gaynors, Grishkos and Wear Mois. I loved this shop for its many items but the price range was just crazy especially for the Gaynors which cost about 150usd.
 
4. REPETTO
We were not able to visit Repetto because of time constraints, we had a full day of visiting these other shops that we failed to visit Repetto.
 
5. CAPEZIO 
Capezio was right on the road and very easy to spot, it was my favourite shop of all the shops that we had visited before this. It was also the last ballet store that we visited on my list. If you are looking for pointe shoes they sell Grishko Maya, Fouette, 2007 and Smart Pointes. They also have a good collection of Ballet Rosa, Ainsliewear and Capezio Leotards. Ballet CD’s were also available in the store and they were very nice ones too.
6. BLOCH 
I did not enjoy the bloch store because they mostly sold Grishko items. Which is weird because they had the BLOCH logo on the stores front, it was a 3 min walk away from Capezio. Most of these stores are right next to each other in the rich district of Gangnams boulevard strip. They also sold Grishko Maya, Fouette, 2007 and Smart Pointes.
7. E BALLET SHOP: SEOUL ARTS CENTER 
This shop was one of the 2 shops we could not visit as it was the most out of the way shop of all the shops. But we were told it was also a good shop
8. CHACOTT
We really intended to visit Chacott here but it was closed due to something unknown to us. A lot of sings were in Korean and so we got to see the shop but not get in it, unfortunately.
PRICING: 
If you will ask me, of all the stores the pricing for V denie was the most affordable compared to the other stores pricings, so if you ever want to visit one or many since they aren’t far from each other I would recommend taking an afternoon to go to Gangnam to just visit all of them.
I hope that this helps you in your ballet item shopping, just in case you end up going to Korea. I will also be posting about dance schools in Korea on my next blogs and blogs to help you find the places you can take class in Korea!
All the best and much love always,
Lena

Dancer of the Month: Natascha Mair

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Photo: Miguel Antonio Gonzales

Natascha Mair (Currently the Principal Dancer of Vienna State Opera)  started ballet in a small school in Vienna when she was just 5 years old. At the age of 7 she started at the Vienna State Opera Ballet School, where she got her Diploma by the age of 17. She Immediately then joined the company and got promoted to half soloist two years after that, and another 2 years later she became soloist and another 2 years after that a principal dancer. 

Natascha and I first met last December 2018, I was lucky enough to catch her on the day she was promoted to Principal Dancer of Vienna State Opera Ballet, it was such a coincidence having bought the tickets 3 months before the show not knowing that she would be the one performing. 2 days after we were having coffee at the Opera house and going backstage into the Vienna State Opera and Ballet. I didn’t tell her this but I had a fever that evening, but I didn’t care, this was my first time meeting her and I would have done anything to be there. I just didn’t want to seem like a crazed fan that day so I kept my cool (** If you’re reading this Natascha, thank you haha) I took it as a sign to be closer to her, that day because she was so kind. 

It was such a surreal experience, she took me backstage to watch the Nutcracker frombackstage. In between us talking, and me taking videos, my I phone ran out of memory and I had to start deleting some old videos from my phone. But every moment of that day I cherished, I went home feeling like I was floating, and smiling ear to ear almost in tears. I almost forgot that it had been -3 degrees outside and I still had a bad fever, It was all worth the trip to beautiful Vienna. 

I was first of so happy to have met another person who was really open to spreading more into the ballet community, as well as, such a human and kind person. Natascha and I talked about her coming into the country, eventually she did and now I feel I have found a person I can call a friend and someone I can in the future collaborate a lot with. This is one of the reasons why I chose her to be one of our dancers of the month this October. While she is not just an good dancer, she is also a person with a good heart, and I value character over many things.

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So to begin my interview, here is a little treat for all of you, from a short intervew with our dancer of the month Natascha:
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  1. How do you feel being a principal dancer at such a young age?
    I really don’t think
    much about it. Our career is so short, I sometimes almost feel old already. I really want to get as far asI can and try my best everyday. Hard work is the most essential about this job!

  2. Did you struggle in any way growing up and dancing? Are there moments you wanted to stop? and how did you deal with those moments.
    Of course. It is a very though profession. There was many moments I wanted to quit. But I am happy I stayed strong. There are always up and downs. But the ups are make all downs worth it! I love being on stage, it makes me forget all the struggles and I just enjoy. When the show is over I always remember that this is the feeling why I love this job!
     
  3. Are there other things and hobbies you like or do? and what do you enjoy doing in your free time when you’re not dancing.

    Mainly hanging out with my best friends or family. I like to do additional work outs such as pilates. But other than that, I enjoy going shopping and most of all traveling.

  4. Do you still plan on studying or going to college? or other things not dance related?
    For now I fully focus on my career. But I was thinking about studying something physio related. But I will see how my plans change in the next years.

  5. Do you have a favourite ballet teacher and do you still keep in touch with them?
    I had great teachers in school. Now I have the privilege working with great artists such as Manuel Legris or other teachers across the world. When I need extra help I recently started working with a past principal and partner of Rudolf Nurejew. Her name is Brigitte Stadler and she is truly amazing. But I have many great teachers around me, which really is a blessing!

  6. Are there dancers you look up to, and why?
    Marianela. Not just because she is an incredible dancer and artist. Mainly because even though she reached the top, she is the one of the most humble, kind and nicest person I’ve met. Just like my best friend Nikisha, who inspires me every day.
     
  7. What advice can you give girls and boys in around the world, who want to pursue dancing as a serious passion?
    Don’t give up. Stay strong. Work hard and reach for the stars! But whatever happens, treat everyone around you, the way you want to be treated!

  8. What is your favourite Dance by Lina item and why
    My blue warm up trash pants. They keep me warm, look fabulous and most of all are so thin and comfy that I barely feel them. They are also perfect to take on travels, since the don’t weight anything but keep me warm for every morning class.

Thank you for reading everyone!
I do hope that you are enjoying my dancer of the month series every month, featuring some of my favorite dancers and people every  beginning of the month. Christmas is just around the corner and the Anniversary Month has been so busy, I hope you’re enjoying our updates as much as I am. 

Lina 

Bloch Store: Amsterdam

Before coming to Amsterdam, I contacted a few friends to ask about the ballet stores I could visit in Amsterdam and they mentioned only 2 and one being the Bloch store. I skipped the other one and decided to come here instead, as the girls mentioned that this store had more things that I would want, and I most definitely did not regret that decision to come to this store with my new and beautiful friend from Amsterdam Sterre! (If you’re reading this Sterre, thank you for the wonderful time around Amsterdam)

The store is located in one of the more expensive parts of Amsterdam, as my friend had mentioned, its the place most actors and actresses live at because the rent is so high. It is located near the streets where people pay one of the highest rent prices in Amsterdam. Anyway, this is irrelevant to my blog, which should be about the Bloch store.

What can I say about this store except that its perfect! I really think that Bloch stores around Europe make quite a good impression. The one I went to in Paris in the past was also quite beautiful as I expected it to be. But comparing the prices from the Paris store to the Amsterdam store, the Amsterdam store was definitely cheaper? Im not sure why, it could be the season I went to Paris last year? and they were having a good SALE there in Amsterdam where the leotards outside were selling from 12-20 euros. Quite a good deal considering the really nice designs and price point. The plain leotards were also quite cheap, and I was happy with my purchases!

Leaving the store, I left purchasing 2 leotards and 1 set of sheer stretch ribbons for a price of less than 50 euros. I think that was one of my best ballet purchases, I have probably spent more in the past just for one leotard. 50 euros won’t even be one Yumiko leotard, if you know what I mean. And as much as I love my Yumikos, I would rather have more quality leotards than none and having 2 more BLOCH leotards made me happy. I definitely had a good run for my money!

So if you’re ever in Amsterdam and in need of a good leotard or ballet purchase, I would recommend coming to the Amsterdam store there in Amsterdam. I am sure that you will not regretting going or making the travel.

And finally thank you again Sterre! Without you, our last day in Amsterdam would not have been a really great and amazing one. Thank you for taking time off and coming all the way to Amsterdam!

Meet Mika: Feature of the Month for Dance by Lina dance wear

SDBL-Mika-Mint-5MIKAELA LAURYN SANTOS, from the Philippines,  began her ballet training at the age of age 4 with the Effie Nañas School of Classical Ballet, during which she attended intensives in Korea, China, and USA. In 2014, she was awarded second place at the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Ballet Competition. In 2016, she was among the top 15 finalists at the World Ballet Competition in Florida. She joined the Philippine Ballet Theatre as an apprentice in March 2016. At age 17, she joined the Fellowship (Atlanta Ballet 2) program at the Atlanta Ballet Centre for Dance Education and later joined the Company as an apprentice in 2017. Mikaela took the summer intensive ballet program under scholarship at Jacob’s Pillow and was featured in performances such as Kitri’s Friend in Don Quixote, Princesses in Swan Lake, Two Sylphs in La Sylphide, Denoument, and Spanish, Chinese in Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker. She had the opportunity to work with renowned choreographers such as Johan Kobborg, Gemma Bond, Liam Scarlett, Craig Davidson, Stanton Welch, Helgi Tomasson and Maxim Petrov, to name a few. Currently Mikaela is a Company Member with Atlanta Ballet. 

I got the chance to meet Mika a year ago on a photoshoot we did with her for the dance wear. With all of these achievements you’d think one would get arrogant or change in character but after our second interview I was happy to listen to her as herself, still the same in fact even more humble than before. I want to take this opportunity to feature dancers of all kinds each month on our website and on my blog. One thing I really love about my dance wear is how it has taken me to meet the most amazing people around the world. Here are some of the questions we got to ask a dancer of such young age to suddenly leave the country and venture into a new world of dance, outside the Philippines:

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Warming up 

 

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Mika taking class on her own, even on her vacation


  1. How did it feel leaving your home country to pursue your passion? 
 

– Leaving the Philippines was definitely one of the hardest decisions I ever made. I wasn’t planning to move away from home at 17. I was originally going to study college in the Philippines and still dance at the same time, but I was given a contract to join Atlanta Ballet. It made me think about how much I wanted to pursue dancing as a career, I wanted to explore and experience what’s it like to dance abroad. During that timeI just knew that I had to go. Looking back now, I am so great full for all the support and encouragement that I’ve gotten. I’ve grown so much not just as a dancer but also as an artist. The support of my parents, friends and teachers means so much to me. I wouldn’t be where I am right now without their love and guidance.

  1. Are there other things and hobbies you like or do? 
 

– When I have a free time, I take Pilates Classes. It helps with alignment, toning and strengthening muscles. Especially during the summer time, I like to cross train to keep my body moving and stay in shape before starting the season.

  1. Are there things that you regret not doing or wish you could do? 
 

-I don’t really regret anything. But it would be awesome if I had the chance to compete again. I would love to meet and learn from other dancers, teachers, choreographers and directors who have the same passion as I do.

  1. What do you enjoy doing in your free time when you’re not dancing.   
 

– When I’m not dancing I love to cook. Ever since I moved away from home, I had to learn to cook for myself and experiment with recipes. I have such a big sweet tooth, so bake deserts most of the time. One of my specialties are Cookies and Banana Bread.

  1. Do you still plan on studying or going to college? 
 

 – Yes I am doing an Online College Program, in Business Management. It’s very important for me to have outside influences and understand things beyond the world of ballet. I want to experience and learn other things I am interested in. I want to eventually be able to use all the years I’ve had in professional dance in another field.

  1. Do you still keep in touch with your old ballet teacher? 
 

– I still keep in touch with my teacher, Effie Nañas. I look up to her so much. She was my very first ballet teacher and I am so honored to be mentored by her. I’ve spent most of my days in the studios training with her, she never gave up on me when I felt like giving up and continues to support me until now. Without her, I wouldn’t have fallen in love with ballet and dance.

  1. Are there dancers you look up to, and why? 
 

– I look up to so many dancers, but two of them is Alina Cojocaru and Marianela Nunes. Both dancers are very different, but I love how effortless and strong  they make every step look on stage and off. Both artist fuses amazing technique with soul crushing emotional performances that really takes my breath away.

  1. What advice can you give girls and boys in the Philippines or anyone who wants to pursue dance outside of the country? 
 

– Dance as a career requires an extraordinary level of commitment and passion, years of training, and a professional career that is brief. Being in a completely different environment is not easy, not everything you planned will always go the way you want it to be. One advice that I could give any aspiring dancers who wants to pursue dance outside of the country is to be patient and be open to changes. There will be a lot of challenges along the way but take it as a learning experience. Never doubt or look down on yourself because no one is perfect, everyone makes mistakes, as long as you keep a positive mindset you will eventually reach your goals.

      9.    What are your favourite dance by Lina items? 

– I really like the Cotton Warmers, because it helps me stay warm in between and before rehearsals. The skirts are also my favourite. I love the colours and how light the fabric feels when I’m dancing.

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Mika in our mint green tutu, current bestseller and featured tutu of the month

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mint green tutu is only available in limited stocks online


I was definitely glad that I got the chance to interview Mika even just for a bit and feature her on my personal blog, of which I love to connect to my Vlogs and my dancewear. I know it does seem like I try to do everything all by myself, and it might have really just been the overachiever in me. But I really am excited to showcase more dancers of different races, and backgrounds. People I meet along the way, people who continue to inspire and to just spread a good amount of energy in spreading good things about dance, but who can also handle the terrible criticisms with it.

I will end this by saying Thank you Mika for sharing your time, and to whoever is reading this, thank you for giving your time to complete this entry. Finally Thank you to Miguel who always takes beautiful photographs of my dancewear and of my students.

Let me know who you would all love for us to feature next!

Much love always,

Lina

First time in Inverness: What to expect and Place to Stay

Oh my, Hello Inverness!
I’ll be honest, the reason or the real reason why my friend Mari and I had an interest in Scotland all of a sudden was because of the TV show Outlander, which we loved so much a year or two ago. We were obessed with the Battle of Culloden and the stones as well as the love story and the history. Afterwards, we just kept on discussing Scotland and how amazing it is to visit it someday. So we made side trips in between the places I wanted to see for ballet and for some work on this trip.

First impression, COLD. (Haha) unfortunately for me I am just always cold, or I just easily feel cold almost all the time. Even in a country that is normally around 30 degrees celsius I could probably wear a jacket on a cool day because I just don’t deal well with cold weather. But the wind is definitely harsh there even towards the end of July, they call that Scottish weather, when the wind is strong and its raining sideways in possibly the most inconvenient way.

Some Personal Tips:

1. You will need a car:

Its not even an option not to have a car. Inverness is clearly a car society even if there are cabs and or tours around. If you’re young and you can still drive, I would recommend getting a car so you can save extra cash. I rented a car on booking.com and had some problems with the local company there but eventually we did get our car except it was manual, thankfully I knew how to drive a manual car. It was only 25 pounds per day and you just had to return it with a full tank of gas. It was well worth it because if you took the train or a cab and or a bus you would easily spend 20 pounds going to the airport or 50-70 pounds getting a tour around town or going sightseeing. We were just lucky that the place we stayed at, the couple was kind enough to always drive us for a lower fee, but if you’re not so lucky a cab ride can easily turn into 30 pounds and 100 pounds charged for tours.

Long Drives: We definitely took a long drive out of town to SKYE. There are plenty of routes for long drives and its a bit tricky if its your first time driving in Scotland because the cars do drive around 80-100kph and its really fast for a city girl like me who is used to driving only around Manila and no where else.

We also drove to a few small towns, I would suggest skipping the fairy pools because most of them are gone due to safety hazzards. Bring your hiking shoes so you don’t slip on stones. Brothers point was my favorite because of the sheep and the most breathtaking view of the sea by the road. Scotland is truly beautiful when you’ve lived in the city all your life. When there is nothing but the road and the green and the sky, the world seems so big and makes you feel so small. ** Tearing up here haha ** the dramatics aside, I really do recommend doing a drive out. We left our house at around 8am and got home about the same time in the evening at around 8pm.


2. Where to stay 

So the question is, will I stay inside the city or outside the city? Of course if you want convenience, you can stay in the town center of Inverness. I personally found plenty of hostels and hotels around Inverness that you could choose from. But we opted to stay outside the city near the highway, just because the place we found was really so beautiful and it came with breakfast. For 2 people and 5 nights it was also not that bad, and being 2 girls traveling by ourselves technically, we really wanted to choose places that were okay and safe for us also and more of a Bnb rather than a hotel, it was our first travel to Europe.

3. In Town suggestions 

According to the owners Hootanannys in old town Inverness is the place to be. On the weekends they would have live shows and the drinks were good. Otherwise, we didn’t go around much to the other food stores. I did enjoy the souveniers and of course the walk around the town bridges. Its a very quaint old town, it reminds me a bit of the baltics.

Where we stayed: Birchwood House B&B

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I will give a 10 star recommendation for this place we stayed. I never felt more at home and more well rested than staying at the beautiful bed and breakfast in inverness. It was owned by a lovely couple who made us breakfast every morning, and they had everything from a beautiful garden to a lovely library. Also had a common area to sit around in, they had a cat and dog which made me feel a bit homesick because I missed my pets. The bathroom and bedroom were so neat and clean, fresh towels and linens were provided for us every end of the day. Coming home to this place was even better than coming home to a hotel, because it really did feel like home.

To end your trip, don’t forget to pass by the Culloden Battlefield, the Harry Potter bridge and the stones nearby. There are a lot of things to do and see in Inverness. A whiskey tour or two perhaps for those who love to drink ** like myself hehe ** the trip was definitely one for the books and one to remember and I would love to go back. Travelling is always fun with good company, I wonder where my life will take me to next.

Much love,
Lina

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My time at the Vienna State Opera Ballet, Inside and Backstage 

I can’t begin to describe the feeling it was to be back at another beautiful theatre in the same year that I visited the Mariinsky Theatre in Russia and the Paris Opera Ballet in France. Once again I was somewhere I could call home, another place I could feel at home together with strangers and some new friends. Sharing the same air and breathing in art.


I knew from the first moment that I watched a ballet that I was going to give my whole life dedicated to it. I don’t think I’ve found that in anything else I did in life except with dance. So here I was in the beautiful theatre, trying to hold back the tears again as the curtains rose and the orchestra began to play a familiar tune thats been with me since childhood.


My entries might change quite a bit from the time I first started this blog, if something I realised I was inconsistent because I was doing these blogs for all the wrong reasons. Now I want to write because I really want to share the experience of all my trips into this blog, also a bit more of my personal feelings and to show you all my personality through them.
If you ever come to Vienna, there are only a few things i could recommend for you to do:


  1. Make sure you walk A LOT, If there is one way to get to know a city, is that you should walk around and get to know the paths the little shops, observe its people and what they eat.
  2. Watch a ballet and an opera, oh you won’t regret spending that extra 200 euros to watch the ballet. Wherever you get the chance, or you can do what other tourists do which is to line up early for a cheaper 40 euro ticket to get to the standing area upstairs, which is also very good.
  3. Watch orchestras and concerts. My mom and my sister are big fans of the orchestras and concerts. We quite enjoyed the Viennese orchestra and concerts.
  4. Eat all the different kinds of sausages. If you are a fan of sausage then you won’t regret coming to vienna, because thats all they love to eat everyday. Also try their cafes, my mom wasn’t so impressed because she said the coffee in Italy is better but I mean if you’re going then just try it. Also their cakes and famous Apfel strudel.



Sorry for going a little off topic, I was supposed to be talking about the Vienna state opera. Well what can I say? Its beautiful. The interiors were beautiful and so was the ballet.  I heard that at first the opera house wasn’t really this beautiful or clean, but there was a year they really invested to clean it up. Thats also the same case for what they did with the Paris Opera Ballet. Now on to the topic of the dancing.

One thing Vienna likes to do is to experiment, that is probably because of their director. They did a different take or the Nureyev version of the ballet the Nutcracker and I saw this for the first time. I never really knew it since I’ve always only seen the Russian version or the original versions of the ballet. I guess sometimes they have to make things different so people who aren’t so familiar with the ballet would also watch the ballet and eventually after getting their interest you would turn them into fans.

Ballet is a really hard art to get into right now. Dance yes is big and all these new dance things are popping up online here and there nowadays but nothing really of pure art or substance. Just like all things that get viral. Now everyone seems to be an expert in ballet, which makes it hard for me to be a ballet teacher too.


But I was happy in Vienna, my friend Natascha Mair who is now the Principal Dancer of Vienna state opera ballet was able to tell me a little more about their situation in the company and also take me inside and backstage the theatre, which you will probably see in the video that I also linked into this blog.


I was lucky to have caught her show where she was actually promoted into Principal Dancer, although I couldn’t really understand it at first since everything was being said in German. I had to listen around to hear someone speaking in English and eventually ask what had happened. According to a friend who dances with the Vienna State opera, this tradition was brought into by their Director Manuel Legris. Where they announce the promotions on stage.


I was very happy for her, and more so happy for myself for gaining another crazy experience. I don’t think that day and the day that I was brought backstage into the opera house will be something I will ever forget. These moments align just the same with the time I first stepped into the Mariinsky and into the Vaganova Ballet Academy just last year too. (Which I just all find so mind-blowing)


I’ve been travelling more lately for dance, and I really am looking forward to the experiences I’ll be having in the coming year. I hope you enjoyed this little entry of mine as somewhat of an appetiser to my ballet life. Its always a pleasure for me to share my thoughts and if you read my blog till the end, thank you!
Much love,
Lina