Category Archives: review

You Guys! We Got Reviewed! 

Or, erm, pre-reviewed? 

Anyway, you can read it here

This has been a rough week for the show in a few ways (a serious illness, injuries, automotive shenanigans), so it’s heartening to see such a thoughtful and positive first look from of our local theater critics!

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Oh, And Awkward Pix of My Yumikos

Initial Mini-Review: Yumiko “Max” Tights

For aeons[1], I resisted the siren song of Yumiko. I couldn’t quite bring myself to drop that much cash on tights.

  1. Okay, so like, two years. BUT THAT’S A LONG FREAKING TIME IN BALLET YEARS, OKAY?

Then four things happened:

  •  I realized I’m actually really, really good at looking after my ballet stuff. I still have the tights I bought when I first started dancing again. Hell, I still had the dance belts I bought when I first started dancing again until I realized I was now too small for them.
  • I realized that good tights are worth having (I have three pair of tights that I wear over and over and over: my blue knee-length capris that I found on sale at a freaking Wal-Mart for $1; my black Official Ballet Tights; and my grey Official Ballet Tights).
  • I discovered that I know a Yumiko distributor and that I can get a rather nice break on the price if I order through him. He’s also one of my favorite ballet teachers, and it helps keep him fed, etc., and that doesn’t hurt either.
  • I learned that you can get Yumiko stuff in all kinds of awesome custom colorways without paying ridiculously a lot extra.

So, short story long, I bit the bullet and ordered a pair of Yumiko’s “Max” capri-length tights. I even decided NOT to buy blue, grey, black, or red, since basically that sums up my entire wardrobe. Instead, I went for a kind of eggplant color with a melon-colored stripe. Sounds crazy, maybe, but I really like it!

Anyway, BW brought them to class for me yesterday, and I wore them to rehearsal today.

YOU GUYS, they are SO GOOD.

Pros thus far:

  • OMG, this fabric. Thin (but not, “Ohai, I can read the label on your dance belt” thin, or even “I can see your dance belt” thin, unless you’re wearing the Capezio N5930, which is identifiable from fecking SPACE because of the way it’s pieced together in front). Light. Breathable. Just supportive enough. Ever-so-slightly shiny. Makes my legs look awesome.
  • The colors. They are pretty boss. I mean, yes, this combination screams I AM THE GAYEST DANSEUR IN THE ROOM AND I WILL FIGHT* YOU TO PROVE IT, but that’s pretty much how I roll anyway, sooooo…
  • The fit. Yumiko men’s stuff is pretty much sized by height. Given that and my recent experience performing in a pair of TINY size medium M. Stevens milliskin tights, I went with the medium. The fit, she is very nice.
  • Also, they dry fast, which is nice because I’m a sweaty li’l bastidge.

*revoltades at dawn, mofo

Cons thus far:

  • The fit. Obviously, it works for me, but these are definitely tights sized with typical professional ballet-type people in mind. The size chart does extend to XL (far from universal, where dancewear is concerned), but I think that probably basically means “extra tall” in their lingo.

I don’t have pix of these yet, but I’ll try to snag some tomorrow.

Given that my ballet budget is now tightly constrained for the rest of the year (because GOOD reasons!!!), I’m seriously debating whether my next good tights will be M. Stevens or a custom pair of Yumiko’s Cedrics (which you can get with feet and the traditional-ballet-style super-high waist).

Until I figure that out, it’s back to scouring everyone’s bargain bin. Sometimes you find something amazing that way (like my $1 Avias from Wal*Mart).

Review Updates!

I could be doing any number of useful things on this, a relatively-free Friday, but here I am, reading through my old blog entries(1) just because.

  1. …And occasionally being horrified at how very cyclical is the learning of ballet. I realize that what I mean when I say, this year, “I need to get better at placing my arms” or whatever, I actually mean something different than I did two years ago … but jeez. The problem is that you’re always fixing the same body that has the same basic problems; it’s a question of degree rather than kind, I guess.

Anyway, I’ve stumbled across a couple of old reviews, and I figure I should update them.

Thus, here we go:

Sansha Mulberry 2 Legwarmers (discontinued, unfortunately)

When I bought these, I weighed 10 pounds more than I do now and my thighs were bigger than they are now. They’re still huge, but at this point they’re more “male ballet dancer” huge and less “Robert Förstemann, German indoor track cycling champion of the Universe” huge.


^^I’m not this guy. Honestly, I wasn’t even this guy when I used to joke about basically being this guy. But you should watch this video anyway, because it’s seriously the most gripping video ever about toasting a slice of bread.

At the time, they stayed up and served pretty well. Their grippy texture made them less than ideal in a tight sus-sous, as they tend to grab on to each-other and twist as you pull in, but on the balance they were, and are, good legwarmers.

The problem is, of course, that I am now rather leaner, I’ve discovered one minor flaw in the Mulberry 2s: they stretch out more than most legwarmers, and now they won’t stay up on me unless I layer something over them (something tight, that is).

mulberry-2-re-review.png

This is how we do it. These actually reach halfway up my thigh, just about.

I plan to take them in a little at the top, and then they should be as before: thin, warm, comfortable, but a little grippier, perhaps, than is entirely ideal.

Sansha “Silhouette” Shoes

I believe these have also been discontinued, though they’re still available for purchase in some sizes.

I liked these a lot; for a long time, they were my go-to shoes. They nicely balance the classic good looks and durability of a leather shoe with the breathability and flexibility of a canvas one.

I still haven’t encountered a shoe that shows off my feet quite as well as these. However, I’ve since switched to Bloch’s Pro-Elastics, and I actually like those better than anything else I’ve tried. They simply fit so beautifully, without the need for fiddly adjustments of the top elastic, that I’ve fallen in love with them.

For leather-shoes-required situations, though, I’d still go with Sansha’s silhouettes, most likely.

It’s worth noting that dancing changes your feet, so shoe preferences can also change over time. If you have very flexible feet like mine, you might experience a really significant change in the shape of your feet as your arches strengthen, which can lead to new adventures in shoe choices.

Bloch “Pro Elastic(2)” Shoes

  1. I’ve linked to the “women’s” version in black on Amazon, because for some reason the Amazon offerings of this model are a mess and even Discount Dance Supply doesn’t do a great job listing them. Meh. Rest assured that it really doesn’t matter which gender your shoes are if you’re ordering Pro Elastics: just order by size and width.

These are now my go-to shoes.

I think they’re one of the models that dancers either love or hate. I love them.

On the Pro Elastic and the similar Synchrony, Bloch has done away with the elastic lacing that runs around the top of the shoe, which can exert pressure either at the Achilles’ tendon or at the instep.

I have high insteps, and that can make it hard to get a good adjustment with the elastic lacing on many shoes(3). The Pro Elastics eliminate that concern.

  1. K.H. Martin’s flex-canvas shoe, which comes in two cuts—one for dancers with high insteps, and one for dancers with low insteps—is one notable exception. My white shoes are K.H. Martins, and I quite like them.

My feet also tend to run hot, and the Pro Elastics breathe well. They’re light and airy and tend to pretty much disappear when you’re dancing in them (assuming you’ve got the fit right).

The only real drawback, here, is that they don’t come in white or grey. Blargh. I really wish these were at very least available in white, because they I would never need to buy any other shoe ever again.

Oh, and the tights I wore for our performance were M. Stevens’ Milliskin tights, which are simply the best tights that have ever existed, and you should go buy some.

Anyway, I need to do a bunch of housework before tonight’s rehearsal. That about covers it for re-reviews right now. I still need to review the Dance Jox dance belt (which is quickly becoming a favorite) and get around to finishing my epic 4-way comparison review of All The Dance Belts, which I guess will have to be a 5-way review now.

 

Review Update: WearMoi Dance Belt

You can find my initial review here.

I purchased my WearMoi belt on 5 August, 2016, and it quickly became one of my two favorites.

In terms of keeping everything contained, thus far it has been surpassed only by the BodyWrappers’ M007 in my experience (though I haven’t tried every single dance belt in the history of ever: I have a Dance Jox one on order, and I’ve never tried M. Stevens, for example).

In terms of comfort over the course of a ridiculously long day, it outclasses everything else, though this is definitely an area in which your mileage will vary.

In terms of durability, it’s been pretty freaking good, though I think it’s starting to feel the effects of being worn almost every single day (and washed just as frequently) since I lost my BW M007(1).

  1. Yes, I’m also wondering how exactly one loses a dance belt. Did I leave it in Florida last October? Who knows?

It’s still perfectly sound for dance purposes, including grand allegro, but I don’t think it’s optimal for use on the lyra at this point. Definitely better than nothing, but not perfect.

I think that’s a function of the trade-off between the power of the elastic in the waistband and the gentleness of the waistband in question: BodyWrappers’ waistbands, for example, are stronger, and as such will probably retain maximum grip longer. WM’s is softer, which makes it hella comfy right out of the box, but potentially not as durable(2).

  1. I say “potentially” because I lost my M007 too soon after purchasing it really know, but BodyWrappers’ dance belts have a reputation for durability, and goodness knows my M006 is still strong enough to double as a slingshot suitable for fighting off a rampaging triceratops. If, you know, you have problems with rampaging triceratops…es in your neck of the woods.

The thing that really sets this particular dance belt apart during a long day of dancing, sitting on your butt while not dancing, and then dancing again is that the thong never starts to feel invasive. It somehow manages to be flat, soft, and strong in exactly the right proportions.

BodyWrappers’ M007 is comparable, but doesn’t quite equal it. On the other hand, BodyWrappers’ M007 is essentially maximum-security lockdown for your naughty bits and also slightly more reliably guards one’s tender modesty, if you feel what I’m saying, both of which are advantages.

The rundown:

WearMoi’s dance belts are really very nice for dance and trapeze work and good on the lyra when new, but less so over the course of a several months of constant wear. Interestingly, I would count acro with lyra, in part because there’s a possibility of someone displacing the waistband of your dance belt while tumbling you around on their feet. Just saying. M007 for acro, y’allz.

In terms of comfort, WM’s belt is absolutely perfect, and I intend to keep at least one of them around for the foreseeable future.

Seriously, if I think I’m going to be nervous because ZOMG Auditions or OMG Hard Class With A New Teacher! or ZOMG The AD is Coming to Look At Us!! or ZOMGWTFBBQ I Have A Crush On My Teacher!!!(3) I generally opt to wear the WM belt because at least that’s, like, one part of me that won’t be uncomfortable.

  1. WHICH NEVER HAPPENS TO ME OKAY I CAN HANDLE IT LEAVE ME ALONE YOU’RE RUINING MY LIFE!!! *door slam*

That said, I’m rather hard on my dance belts, and I have yet to discover an option that works better on the lyra than BodyWrappers’ M007.

Update: I forgot to cover sizing.

I’m hard-ish to fit because I have a small waist and stupidly huge glutei medii. On size charts(4) that include both waist and hip measurements, my waist is usually small or medium, and my hip is medium or large. Couple that with the irreducibly complex dark magic by which dancewear manufacturers generate their size charts, and you have a recipe for WTF.

  1. …By which I mean dancewear size charts. In normal street clothes, I’m always a small, unless we’re talking about Asian sizes, in which case I’m usually a medium.

Anyway, here’s what I mean:

01-Size-Comparison

Top: Capezio, L. Centre: WearMoi, L. Bottom: BW M006, L.

The waistband of my M007, by the way, was actually closer to the size of the WM dance belt than it was to that of my M006.

According to Capezio’s size chart, I should be a small; per BodyWrappers’ I’m a large. WearMoi splits the difference.

When I’m really on form, the WearMoi dance belt fits with a wee gap at the top and a perfect fit through the bottom half of the waistband. I could probably rectify that by ordering one with a narrower waistband, but it hasn’t caused any problems.

In short:

  • Overall Scores:
    • Comfort: 10/10
    • Security: 8/10 when new
    • Modesty: 7/10
    • Durability: 5/10
  • For Ballet: Highly Recommended
  • For Modern: Highly Recommended
  • For Acro-Balancing: Recommended
  • For Trapeze: Recommended
  • For Lyra: Recommended, with Caveat: may not be suitable after several months
  • For Averting Triceratops Attacks: Not Recommended; try BW M007 and call your local Humane Society or Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Including Those Presumed Extinct to ask about implementing a Trap-Neuter-Return program to reduce the local population of feral triceratops…i?

I don’t do tap, so I can’t really speak to that. I’m guessing the percussive nature of tap might be an important consideration, so I don’t want to make any guesses, here.

I don’t do hip-hop, either, but I think the demands it places on the body (explosive movement, rapid tempo changes, possibly floorwork?) are close enough to those placed by Modern that this dance belt should be fine.

Romeo & Juliet at Lexington Ballet

I’m pretty sure almost everyone in the English-speaking world can recite the synopsis of Romeo and Juliet by heart. Say it with me:

Boy meets girl.

Boy gets girl.

Everybody dies.

…And one does not, in general, expect grand departures from that script. I suppose you could do it Bourne’s Swan Lake-style:

Boy meets boy (who is, erm, also a swan?).

Things get complicated.

Everybody dies anyway.

…And then you could call it Romeo and Julio, and probably sell lots of tickets to the right audiences, but it would still be the same basic plot, because Shakespeare isn’t (arguably) the best-known playwright in the history of the English language for nothin’.

Anyway, regardless, I don’t really need to explain what happens. You can read the whole play for free on the internet (or watch any of countless film adaptations), and the ballet hews very closely to the play.

So! Lexington Ballet is a small, regional company that manages to do some pretty great stuff on a tiny little budget. Their core company comprises twelve dancers; corps roles are filled from the student company, and community dancers also take roles—C, my partner in crime from Summer Intensive, played both Lord Capulet and Friar Lawrence. He got to dance a swordfight, and y’all, I am so jelly.

Given that it’s a ballet based on a play, acting is of fairly central importance to any production of Romeo and Juliet—and both D and I were, in fact, pretty damned impressed with the calibre of acting on the part of the dancers.

First, I’d like to give a shout-out to everyone who died. Honestly, I found myself actually saying to D, “I don’t mean this ironically at all, but he’s really good at dying!”

In fact, it’s not easy to die convincingly on stage—especially when you’re Mercutio or Tybalt and you’ve just been dancing your brains out whilst trying not to actually murder anyone with your prop sword (yeah, they’re not live steel, but you know what they say about ballet—it’s all fun and games until someone loses an “I” … no, wait, that’s Scrabble; in ballet, it’s “eye”).

Everyone who died did a phenomenal job at it. Like, they died, and convincingly stayed dead without anyone being like, “Hurr, the corpses are breathing!” and remained convincingly limp and lifeless whilst they were poked, prodded, picked up, and occasionally danced with by the remainder of the cast. And, seriously, I intend no irony at all: I really was impressed.

Being dead is hard y’all. (At least, it is for living people. So far, there hasn’t really been much commentary from actual dead people on what it’s like for them.)

As Juliet, Ali Kish does a particularly impressive job of being Not Dead Yet and still dancing (but not appearing to dance, because we’re supposed to think she’s dead) a pas-de-deux with Jake Lowenstein as her grief-stricken Romeo in the final act. She also does a great job being Actually Dead.

Her ability to die convincingly, however, is not the greatest of Kish’s accomplishments.

Simply put, Juliet is a hard role to pull off. Not only does she demand the kind of skill required for any principal part, but she’s thirteen years old, and … well, there’s your problem.

Most of the time, actual thirteen-year-olds aren’t dancing the part of Juliet to Prokofiev’s masterful score. Instead, the role usually goes to someone a little older.

Not everyone, however, remembers what it was like to be thirteen—impetuous but unworldly, part child and part blossoming young woman. This can end badly in any number of ways. Let me count (a few of) them, in fact:

  1. Manic Pixie Juliet … I’m not sure I even need to explain this one. Which is good, because honestly I’m not even sure I can. Have you seen Elizabethtown? No? I know nobody agrees with me, but I’d say it’s actually worth a seeing at very least for the truly glorious funeral disaster. Anyway. Yeah. Manic Pixie Juliet is just, you know, not right.
  2. Why Are These Middle-Aged People Still Living At Home? Yes, so the noble single ladies didn’t generally go out on their own and make their way in the world of Shakespeare’s famous play. Still, when Juliet comes across as a middle-aged lady subject to her parents’ TOTALLY UNFAIR RULEZ!!! and marital hand-wringing, it feels sorta weird. You just want to be like, “Surely, at this point, she’s sensible enough to figure out that she could just settle for Prince What’s-His-Face and keep up her thing with Romeo on the side? Maybe even get them to, ahem, join forces? I mean, they’re both pretty cute.”
  3. Terrifying Lolita Juliet. This is another one I’m just going to put over here for you to parse as you will.
  4. Excessively Tragic Juliet. Yeah, Juliet is one of the great tragic roles of the Western canon … but she’s also THIRTEEN. Like, think about the thirteen-year-olds you know: they have real, legit life problems—sometimes really big ones—but they still get all squee over those really cute new earrings and whatevs. It is, in fact, entirely possible for Juliet to skew way, way too far into the I AM SO TRAGIC OMG territory. I mean, Emo hadn’t even been invented yet back then (or, well … I dunno; Ben Jonson’s “Song to Celia” [aka “Drink to Me Only with Thine Eyes”] is pretty freaking Emo, though also totes beautiful).

Kish is both a gifted dancer and a gifted actor, and she clearly remembers what it’s like to stand at that incredibly awkward cusp of young adulthood, when suddenly you’re of marriageable age and your parents are like YOU WILL MARRY THIS RANDOM DUDE NOW BECAUSE ALLIANCES (middle school, amiright?).

Okay, so maybe her own lived experiences was not quite that, but at any rate, she fully embodies the complexity of our teenage tragic heroine. Also, wow, holy 6:00 penché, Batperson. And dat cambré.

Ayako Hasebe Lloyd also knocks it out of the park as the Nurse, a role which demands that one first serve as comic relief and then as a sort of pin in the map to tragedy: things go south very visibly for the Nurse right about the time they begin to go south for everyone.

More importantly, in terms of character development, Hasebe Lloyd convincingly portrays the Nurse’s love and sympathy for her charge and her conflict at doing what she believes will make Juliet happiest. Her dancing, crisp and expressive, shifts fluidly from the lightly comic to the deeply moving.

Among the men, Lowenstein plays a very serviceable Romeo, attempting to make peace after his marriage on the down-low and struggling visibly and admirably with the aftermath of his hot-tempered slaying of Tybalt. He is a man caught up in the tides of fate and in the wreckage of his own impetuousity; he is also, unfortunately, not given as much room (maybe literally; the stage at Lexington Opera House is on the small side, which limits the grand allegro pyrotechnics) to develop that role as one might hope for, given his skill as a danseur.

In fact, this production really plays more as Juliet & Romeo—so much of the story happens in the ladies’ end zone. Not that there’s anything wrong with that: we get a window into the domestic struggles of the Capulet family, and exciting balletic swordfights are soundly balanced with touching balletic drama.

We see Romeo at his best in the famous balcony scene, lovingly rendered against a backdrop of LED stars: Artistic Director Luis Dominguez wisely leaves in many of the elements familiar to fans of ABT’s version of Romeo and Juliet and makes excellent use of Lowenstein’s considerable skill in partnering. Here, Lowenstein leaps with power and grace through Romeo’s fluid and joyful choreography; in the Love Dance pas de deux, he shines parterning a Juliet who is the personification of delight (and not even Mostly Dead yet).

However, outside of Romeo’s surprisingly-few scenes with Juliet, the men’s portion of the script largely takes place in town scenes that do double duty as balletic placing shots and exposition. There simply isn’t as much room for the men to become three-dimensional people (with the exception of Cal Lawton’s roles—as both Lord Capulet and Friar Lawrence, he is clearly and touchingly a man struggling with his own decisions).

For one thing, they have an unfortunate habit of murdering one-another, which doesn’t really leave them enough time to turn into well-rounded individuals. Don’t blame them, though—blame the Bard, who wrote the book, and Prokofiev, whose score favors domestic scenes and sword fights (and grand battement … I can’t hear the iconic “Dance of the Knights” without my legs wanting to jump straight into grand battement).

In the end, one rather feels for poor Paris, who falls for Juliet, has no idea what’s going on with her, and winds up dead (like everyone else) for his troubles. Littlejohn does much to bring this oft-overlooked role to life: honestly, I had rather forgotten about him prior to this, but Littlejohn’s portrayal of him as an apparently sweet-natured and mystified admirer (with a reasonable expectation of a wedding in the works) makes him memorable.

And lest I overlook the corps, the student company really did some lovely work as an assortment of townsfolk, ladies-in-waiting, knights, and gypsy girls. One never knows what one might get when a student company serves as the corps-de-ballet, but Lexington Ballet’s student company really has its act together.

Lastly: for parents concerned about the violence of this particular ballet, Lexington Ballet’s production (though still riddled with sword-fights and heavy on the Death and Dying) was one of the least violent versions I’ve seen. The version I saw as a small child involved the death of a little girl in a crowd scene quite early on; in this version, no one gets trampled.

However, it’s still a tragic story of star-crossed love, and if you take your kids to see it, you’ll be doing them (and everyone else) a favor by talking about the story (and the importance of tragedy in literature) first.

Oh, really lastly: the music is recorded, but it’s one of the best recordings I’ve heard of Prokofiev’s score (which can, in the wrong hands, be nigh unlistenable  in spite of the fact that it’s a beautiful piece and a real masterwork).

Still Playing With Blochs*

*Yeah, sorry. I’ll try harder next time. So tiiiired.  

I’m grooving on my Blochs. I like how they just kinda get out of the way so you can do your thang. I think I’mma buy a second pair in black. 

I have discovered that they fit really well with the new tights I ordered from Sansha (edit: I’ll drop the model number here later; these aren’t the only men’s tights Sansha makes).  The tights in question are cotton-and-lycra, and thus a bit thicker than my others, both of which are synthetic.

My inner jury is still out about the tights themselves—though not because of any shortcoming of the tights themselves. Rather, I’m a sweaty little bastard, and cotton absorbs sweat instead of wicking it. My knees and shins were surprisingly damp after class this morning. Weird. 

On the other hand, they dry more quickly than I expected, and they’re comfortable. The fit is really nice (I ordered a size 5 in Sansha’s unique Dark Magic sizing system), and I like the fact that the straps are sewn in (I lost one of the straps that go with my other black tights :/).  I do, however, wish they were sewn in crosswise in back, as they can slip off. In practice, though, that only seems to happen when I’m loafing around between classes. 

Oh, they also look nice. Classic matte finish, nice lines, etc. I was all Serious Ballet Boy Is Serious this morning (or, well, my clothes were).

 The tights in question are not, by the way, convertible (unless you get jiggy with some scissors, presumably). 

Even with the combination of secure shoes and comfy tights, however, I was not a great turner today. This was likely a function of mild sleep deprivation. 

We had a new teacher, who I’ll call J2 for now, since I’m too lazy to look up his full name. It was a great class; really nice combinations, and we got to do grand allegro, which doesn’t always happen. I couldn’t keep my head on straight during the petit allegro, though I did the steps well enough. I just kept forgetting that there were two changements at the end of the first phase. I did however, manage to do royales when they were called for instead of automatically doing entrechats.

Still, not my best day. 

I made up for it by practicing one-foot relevé balances on the flat side of a Bosu ball. It was kind of a pain, as that really isn’t the intended purpose of the flat side in question, but nonetheless remarkably successful. I think I’m going to purchase a proper wobble board for that.

So that was Sunday. Tomorrow is mostly a rest day, except for rehearsal. 

LIIIIIIIIIINES! 

I’m going to be processing Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet for a while. 

Initial impressions: Wow, and Oh, and Wow. 

Also, there was this moment that I found myself thinking, “They’re not all doing this at exactly the same speed, like you would in classical ballet, but it doesn’t matter, because each individual variance reveals some specific nuance.

None of the dancers moves exactly like any other, and that there is a harmonious whole. 

Just now I was reading this is one of of the things that Alonzo King embraces—each dancer brings himself or herself to the dance. 

I love classical ballet, don’t get me wrong—but there’s something revelatory about LINES. I’m sure everyone else else has already said that.

Definitely going to seek out further opportunities to watch LINES. 

King is, indeed, a visionary. 

Finally!

In the kitchen, where we practice turns and occasionally make food.

These arrived today after wandering terra incognito for a full week.

 Just tried them out in the kitchen and got a triple from fifth of of them, easy as 1,2,3.  o.O

I have never actually done a triple in my kitchen before because there are too many things to crack your skull on if you really fall out of a turn.  These shoes, though—they sport giant front half-sole pads that feel incredibly secure.  

The fit is pretty good—a tad looser than my Sanshas in the toe box, which is nice, but still narrow enough in the arch, instep, and heel (my feet are just a bit duckish).

Size 8.5B. The pattern on which they’re cut accommodates very flexible arches. 

I might try size 8 as well, but 8.5 leaves room for my extra-long (and rather prehensile) second toe. 

Initial Review:WearMoi Dance Belt

I’m an idiot, and didn’t keep the packaging for the WearMoi belt that I picked up on Wednesday. That’s a shame, because it makes it hard to conclusively recommend the right model (it’s definitely a thong-back in the unfortunately-named “nude” colorway with a 3″ waistband).

I can at least say it’s one of the newer-style models, that it really kinda blows my old Capezio warhorses out of the water*, and that it’s a close contender with the Body Wrappers models.

*While it will keep one’s eggs unscrambled, however, I am sadly forced to admit that it will not keep one’s metaphors unmixed. So if you want metaphors as clear as a wide blue window and pure as driven angels’ kisses, perhaps I am not the ideal source.

Design

In design, the WM belt most closely resembles the BodyWrappers M006/M007: pouch affixed below a solid elastic waistband. The pouch is better on the BW models, but the waistband on the WM is … well, plush. It has that sort of fuzzy interior surface like the waistbands on some kinds of underpants.

The WM belts available at Ye Olde Local Dance Shoppe all have 3″ waistbands, but WM’s website allows for customization of the width (perhaps only if you live in Europe or the UK, though: Hi, Yorksranter!), offering 1″, 2″, and 3″ options (Will dance belts ever go metric? Who knows?).

However, after a few hours, the real test of a dance belt’s comfort isn’t so much whether you can handle the waistband, but whether or not the thong is actively sawing you in half.

This is where the WM, like the BW M006 and M007, excels.

One of the chief problems with Capezio’s N5930 is that, when you take a break and sit down for a minute, you quickly realize that the thong is basically a steel** cable wrapped in cotton, soaked in brine, and crammed right up against your tailbone.

**Okay, so it’s not really steel, but it certainly feels like it at times.

That’s about as comfortable as it sounds, and frequently leads to adjustments, which give way to more adjustments when you have to get back in the studio.

Let me tell you from experience: there is nothing as fun as realizing too late that you need to adjust your dance belt and desperately trying to figure out how to do it on the down-low in front of like 40 girls. (Good times, good times.)

The WM and the two BW models share a feature that prevents this particular cascade of humiliation: a wide, flat fabric thong with bound edges.

The BW models have a slight edge in this regard, as far as I’m concerned: the bindings are super-smooth, and the fabric wicks sweat a little better and dries a little faster than the WM’s (however, the BW pouch dries more slowly). I’ve also had one experience of the WM’s thong rolling itself into a cable as I got dressed, but that A) may be because my WM dance belt is slightly bigger than it could be and B) was easily fixed.

Most importantly, neither of them is uncomfortable during breaks: both hold up well to ridiculous schedules like mine that basically involve wearing your dance belt all freaking day because there’s no point in taking it off for like two hours in the middle.

The BW pouch is absolutely the best in terms of modesty and, in my opinion, comfort (it appears to be made from pillows and the happy dreams of adorable kittens or something), so that’s a point in BW’s favor.

That said, the BW pouch also takes foreeeeeeeevar to air-dry when you hand-wash it and a comparably long time to dry when you’ve been sweating your brains out in it for three hours or what have you.

WM’s pouch isn’t quite as modesty-enhanced or silky-sleek, but it does dry more quickly, so point to side WM there. It’s also quite comfortable; the fabric has a nice hand, and the center seam (presumably there more for support than for anything) doesn’t turn into a tourniquet halfway through class.

One last bit on design: WM’s pouch is slightly narrower than BW’s. For me, this is great; I’m not very wide between the hipbones, nor am I, um, (ab.so.freaking.lutely NSFW AT ALL EVERRudolf Nureyev (/ab.so.freaking.lutely NSFW AT ALL EVER) or a ridonculous pr0n star, so to speak. However, BW’s pouch might be a better option for some.

Fit

Here’s the part where I make with the measurements, which I guess I should have actually done before I ordered all my new dance kit yesterday, because holy hairballs, I have shrunk (as you do).

Here’s my current stats (conversions are rounded to the nearest whole unit for simplicity’s sake, except pounds to stone, because the difference is too big):

Waist: 28″/71cm***
Biggest part of my tuchas (right around the gluteus medius): 37″/94cm***
Inseam: 32″/81cm
Height: 68″(5’8″)/173cm
Weight: 149 pounds/68kg/10.6 stone

***This ratio is why it is so freaking hard for me to find trousers that fit right.

I purchased a Large.

It turns out that I split the difference between Large and Medium in BW’s sizes. My waist measurement falls squarely into the Medium camp and my hip/tuchas measurement falls squarely into the Large camp because I am, in short, a “Dually.”

2006_-_Dodge_Ram_3500_-_Mega_Cab_-_Dually_4x4_-_Laramie_-_RR

You know what to do with that big, fat butt. (Source) (PS: Big butts are frequently an, ahem, asset in aerials, not to mention being apparently prized among male ballet dancers, for whom the ideal butt shape is apparently “square.” Regarding which: huh.)

This is consistent with the way the elastic fits: the top is rather looser than it should be, but the bottom is snug enough to do its job really, really well.

Sizing, then, is more comparable to Capezio’s dance belts, in which I would probably wear a Medium (even though their size chart thinks I’m a Small) if I were to buy another one, than to BodyWrappers, in which I am still a large, but a pretty comfortable large.

Fortunately, my magnificent glutei medii (and also my iliac crests, which are like freaking knives these days, y’all) give sufficient purchase to the bottom 1.5″ or so of elastic.

I mention this for two reasons.

  • First, the WM dance belt is not only performing admirably, but is doing so under less-than-ideal circumstances.
  • Second, when sizing your own dance belt (and every other thing), it’s worth considering things like the measurement of your hip right around your gluteus medius, which tends to be extremely well-developed in male dancers, especially male ballet dancers (thanks, grand battement!).

Gray1211

This guy is SO not a dancer. (Circle added for clarity. Source: Illustration by Henry Vandyke Carter from Gray’s Anatomy [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

Anyway.

So the fit, I think, skews very close to true, with a small caveat for those of us who are pretty freaking lean and yet possessed of ridiculous butt muscles.

It’s probably worth noting that the rise is a bit lower than the BW’s rise. That works just fine for me because of the way I’m put together, but if you have a really long torso (or if you’re just plain tall), the BW belts might be a better fit. For me, though — a smallish person with a moderate torso — the rise is about perfect.

As for the pouch: it’s probably adequate for all but the most ridonculous of pr0n stars.

Function

Holy cats, Batman, this thing FREAKING WORKS.

For a long time, I seriously thought my Capezios were fine. Sure, occasional adjustments were required (note: this may well be a sizing issue; I am more than 4″ smaller waist-wise than I was when I started dancing again) — but, on the whole, I felt like things were, you know, staying put well enough.

Then I got my BW M006, which was revelatory. When it was sitting where it wanted to, NOTHING MOVED. Nothing could move. Which is, in fact, the whole idea: “set it and forget it.”

The only problem was that the M006’s rise meant that it sat at a spot that wasn’t (at the time) terribly comfortable, so I kept adjusting it downward, which compromised its effectiveness. Curiously, losing another inch or so off my waist seems to have made the height of the rise matter a whole heck of a lot less, so go figure.

Enter the WM dance belt: the rise is perfect, and the fit is secure — so secure that “set it and forget it” works just as well in lyra class (IMO, the ultimate test of a dance belt) as it does in ballet (okay, so all those freaking échappés are a close second … no pun intended, but I’ll take credit if it’s on offer).

So, basically, if there’s any wiggle room, the lyra will find it and will adjust your junk for you and your better half will sit there laughing maniacally and saying, “You’re not supposed to use that to hang on to the hoop!”

Or, you know, you’ll just pinch your junk or something, which is at least as unpleasant.

Oh, and then you’ll have to (ONCE AGAIN) adjust yourself in front of 40 girls, even if there are only like 16 people in the studio at that moment and three of them are guys.

WM’s dance belt puts an end to that particular scenario (as long as you remember to sort of shimmy around the family jewels, as one does in such situations — there’s a reason that there are fewer guys than girls in lyra).

Meanwhile, in ballet class, WM’s dance belt eliminates all need for mid-class adjustments. There’s no jeté-ing out the studio door at the end of a grand allegro phrase; no OMFG moments in the middle of warm-up jumps.

Obviously, I can’t speak to durability yet, but at around $25 US, WearMoi’s dance belt doesn’t have to last until you retire to be worth the cost of admission.

TL;DR:

  • Fits true to size, with a low rise and moderate pouch width.
  • Construction and materials are excellent. Plush elastic is freaking amazing. Dries faster than BW M006/M007, but the pouch and thong aren’t quite as nice.
  • Comfort is excellent. M007 may have a slight advantage due to its sleek, smooth fabric and pouch, but the WM belt is still exceptionally nice.
  • Functionality is stellar. Set it and forget it, indeed.

8/10: Very Highly Recommended. (Compare 5/10 for Capezio N5930; ~8.5/10 for BW’s M006/M007)

 


Dually Image:
By user:JDOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6883513

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