The dismissal bell rang to signal an end to a long school day. Students crammed materials into a large book bag and bustled about the halls. It was an inevitable race to leave the building in order to avoid the long traffic line in the parking lot. My ballet studio was an hour away and I didn’t have a second to spare. I took off in my swift sprint and was one of the first students to drive out of the lot. I took off my lanyard and placed it on the rearview mirror while I grabbed a hair elastic off the stick shift. One might think a cup holder held a refreshing beverage, but mine held dozens of tiny hairpins. At the first stop light, my foot pressed against the brake as I quickly maneuvered my hair into a ponytail. A flash of green light meant it was time to keep driving. Twist and pin as fast as you can was my method for my completing my bun. This definitely wasn’t the safest driving method, but it was efficient at cutting out a few minutes so I could do my splits before ballet class started.
Experimenting with different hairstyles has always been an interest of mine. I love being able to change a look completely by simply adjusting where a few strands of hair lay. It’s amazing how hot rollers, straighteners, curling irons, gels, and hairspray can transform one’s hairstyle.
A common image associated with ballerinas is a high, slicked-back bun. However, there are so many options for dancer’s hairstyles (a French braid into a low bun, center part messy bun, cinnamon roll bun, side twist into a bun, etc.). One of my favorite dancer hairstyles is a French twist.
I believe this is a unique and elegant hairstyle. I’ve developed a 10-step process to perfecting a French twist:
1) Start by brushing your hair and parting the front to the side of your preference. (I like a left part.)
2) Using both hands, collect all of the hair into the center of your head. The hair should be gathered in line with the top of your ears. Avoid going too far towards the nape of your neck or top of your head.
3) The next hairbrush I use is called my “smoothie” brush. It’s produced by Conair and has nylon tuft bristles. This brush is the best at smoothing down bumps and wisps. Keep holding the hair in your left hand while brushing your hair towards the center gathering with your right hand.
4) After smoothing your hair back, hold all of the hair in your right hand (as if you were about to put it into a ponytail).
5) Using your left hand, twist the “ponytail” up and over your right index and middle fingers.
6) With your right index and middle fingers, twist 1/2 to the right and pull up towards the top of your head.
7) Take your left hand and place on the top of the twist, remove your right two fingers.
8) Take Bunhead hairpins and start going around the edge of the twist (from right to left). Be sure to not let go of the left hand during this process. Use approximately 8 to 10 hairpins to secure the top section of the twist.
9) Then use the hairpins to comb the hair from the right side of your head over to the left side and tuck into what becomes the vertical part of the french twist. Be sure to comb tightly and tuck the pins perpendicular to the twist. Use approximately 8 to 10 hairpins to secure the top section of the twist.
I hope this process has been a helpful guide to perfecting a French twist! Good luck twisting away in style!
Photo Credits: Mahallia Ward
The Joffrey Ballet will be presenting their “New Works” program at the Cadillac Palace Theatre. It runs from April 22nd to May 3rd.
Contributor Cara Marie Gary is a native of Belton, South Carolina. She joined The Joffrey Ballet in July 2012. Prior to joining The Joffrey Ballet, Ms. Gary danced with American Ballet Theatre’s ABTII and was an apprentice with Orlando Ballet. Ms. Gary began her formal ballet training at International Ballet Academy in Greer, South Carolina, under Hennadii Bespechnyi and Vlada Kvsselova. Ms. Gary received additional training at summer intensives with American Ballet Theatre, Brianskv Saratoga Ballet Center, Ukrainian Academy of Dance South Carolina Governors School, Ballet Spartanburg, and Chautauqua Institution. Ms. Gary graduated with honors from Belton-Honea Path High School and is currently pursuing a Business Administration degree online through North Greenville University.
In 2010, Ms. Gary was a competitor in the IX USA International Ballet Competition held in Jackson, Mississippi. She was a top twelve finalist in the Youth America Grand Prix National Finals in 2008 and 2009. She also received the overall Grand Prix Award in the 2009 YAGP regional semi-finals. In 2006, she was awarded a Diploma of Laureate at the VI Serge Lifar International Ballet Competition held in Kiev, Ukraine.
Ms. Gary has had the opportunity to tour throughout the United States and Europe. Ms. Gary has performed the title role in classical ballets such as The Nutcracker, La Sylphide, Don Quixote, Paquita, Markitanka pas de six, and Coppelia. Her repertoire with ABT II includes roles in the Flame of Paris pas de deux, Jerome Robbins’ Interplay, Antony Tudor’s Continuo, George Balanchine’s Allegro Brillante and Stars and Stripes pas de deux, Jessica Lang’s Vivace Motifs, Roger Vanfleteren’s Pavlovsk, Jodi Gate’s A Taste of Sweet Velvet, Aszure Barton’s Barbara, and Edward Liang’s Ballo Per Sei. Ms. Gary has performed roles in new choreography by Robert Hill. Her repertoire with Orlando Ballet also consists of Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker, and Swan Lake.