Health Problems & Ballet

Sorry I haven’t blogged in a while, I have been facing some health issues. It started right after the YAGP, I noticed that my left hand was developing a slight tremor. I was a little freaked out and started Googling, which is never a good thing. Immediately, it pulled up early onset Alzheimer’s which caused me to go into panic mode. That coupled with my ongoing struggle with migraines, restlessness, and exhaustion, I went to the doctors. Normally, I would go to a holistic or more natural doctor, but this I didn’t want to mess up. Well, come to find out, that I could have just gone to a natural doctor. The regular doctor said it sounds like I am having troubles with my body and that I should try going off gluten for a week. He also said that it could be from drawing so much I have exhausted my muscles and tendons. He also asked if I was a drinker, and well, I am… So now, three weeks of no drinking, being gluten free, and cutting back on my insane coffee intake, I have noticed a large change. My skin is clearer, I can sleep at night, I don’t feel bloated, and I have lost weight… Which is nice. I notice now, that if I eat things with gluten in them, I feel terrible the next day and my abdomen looks slightly distended. So, now I am avoiding gluten and alcohol at all costs. Then while all of the ANB negotiations were taking place, I was delivered some bad news about a physical I had taken earlier on. So, I have had to deal with all of that, and that has been exhausting.

Now, as I start to draw again, I have noticed that my hand is EXTREMELY heavy and has me worried that I probably might not draw the same. My doctor told me I should one, get insurance on my hand/arm, which sounds ridiculous, and two, I need to actually start going to the gym and do forearm strengthening exercises.

So, as I am finishing up the last of the YAGP doodles, you probably won’t see much more drawings from me until I can get back to where I want to be with my artwork. Also, as I live this sober, gluten free life, I am going to attempt to quit smoking and coffee and live a healthier lifestyle. Lesson learned… Don’t go back to a normal eating lifestyle after a ballet lifestyle, it messes up your body and is hard to go back to the dedication and focus I once had. Plus, I am going to miss decadent pastries 😩

xoxo,
A Ballet Education

Ballet & The Review(er)

If we have learned anything from this season’s dance literature, it is that dancers, choreographers, and directors fear a bad review. Whether it is trash talk, ballet gossip, or just bad dancing, they voice their opinion in full and begin social media campaigns, twitter wars or pull their work. No matter what it may be #respectgoesbothways or #dancersfeeltoo or whatever it may be, you have to ask yourself, what is the most important thing about dance? Lately, there has been a lot of talk on social media about reviews, reviewers and the power of the review in dance. I have been accused of a lot of things lately in my reviews, which I completely understand, and normally I would probably defend myself in a rather harsh, blunt, and ferocious manner. But, I was then was inspired to write about something more important than why I write the way I write, but the hopeful future of ballet.

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Some say that reviewers have no clue what goes into dancing, so they have no business giving a review, especially a negative one. I do know what goes into it and have experienced it and still believe that a negative review, if deserved it should be given. Because ballet and dance is a live art form, mistakes are bound to be made, dancers are going to get tired, and directors will make poor choices. You can’t get around that, but nowadays everyone is a reviewer. Whether it is a thumbs up or thumbs down on youtube or a like or share on Facebook, a repost on Instagram, these are all forms of reviews. These reviews gain popularity, create a discourse in dance, and allows people to understand the progression of ballet. Don’t get me wrong, I question how some of these big time reviewers have gotten to where they are not ever having danced a lick in their life, but then I am reminded the reviewing dance is also an art. Dancers are selected based on talent, emotion, and their ability to translate music and art onto and into their bodies, while reviewers translate that beauty into words for the masses.

More and more companies are moving towards crowdfunding, and to do that, you need to have the support of people, dancers, philanthropists and more. Reviews on social media or even a mention on a blog can go a long way. The problem is when something isn’t right or something is off, it’s noticed. Why are reviewers, myself included so judgmental? The process to be a ballet dancer is a privilege. It takes a lot of hard work every day, and because it is an aesthetic art, your heart, soul, life, everything is poured into this process. This high standard is set across the board, from students at age ten to a professional in their prime, the standard is clear. We can’t make exceptions based on an excuse, a popular name, or a company’s prestige. It doesn’t work that way. At an audition, should a company director make an excuse for bad technique? A dancer being off their leg that day? If you can’t pull a triple that day, but you later you say, “I promise I can
” Does it matter? In the end, the reviewer’s job is to write what they see, how they feel, and how its audience absorbs and interprets a single performance.

Why does the review matter? A good review goes a long way, it keeps people coming to performances and gives those who don’t have the opportunity to see a performance a chance to understand what happened. A good review can up sponsorships and donors, and a good review can promote a dancer. A bad review can cause a company to lose funding, shake a dancer’s confidence, and usually, causes are larger discourse in social media. Because dance is so subjective, and reviews are also subjective the more reviewers invited to a performance the spectrum of reviews becomes larger. Different people like different things. For example, if you invite me to a Balanchine Bill, I will probably be a lot more critical, but enjoy the performance more. If you invite me to a postmodern show I will probably leave at intermission if it’s not good. If you invite me to a classical ballet, it better be damn good or I will probably fall asleep in it. The review itself has to be good, it has to be exciting and engaging, honest and precise. If not, and companies just want a good write up, it’s just a payoff. Just send the reviewer tickets and an expensive bottle of wine and you will probably get a good review. But then, is that fair for funding?

The problem with ballet right now and dance, in general, is the lack funding and support to lower or smaller companies. Recently, while in NYC I gave a series of reviews, and they took a lot of criticism, all comments I didn’t post. One, because I was offended, two, because I have the power to edit, and three, I just didn’t care for them. I did read them and took what they had to say to heart. One comment said I took a cheap shot at a principal’s technique, another comment said I come off arrogant and full of myself, and another comment said I was down right rude and childish. Ironically, this review everyone was upset about was shared a ton on Facebook and gained a thousand likes on Instagram
  But while in NYC, I wrote a review that I loved, had nothing but good things to say, but got very few views, zero comments, and zero shares. So, what does that say?

How to progress dance? Dance preservation of dance is something that is not in the lack. We once used labanotation, now we have video recording in 3D, 360 degrees, and filming the entire creative process. But, the progression of dance has been proved time and time again. That dance is progressed by artists pushing forward and the delicate dance between the reviewer creating discourse and the people. In 1913, Rite of Spring premiered causing a riot in the Opera house. In July of that year, it premiered in London, while the premier was not chaotic like Paris, the reviews were mixed and took stabs. It took over three years for the world to accept and celebrate the Rite of Spring, and now it is one of the most celebrated works. But, all of this was predetermined by Diaghilev, he understood PR and wanted scandal and worked hard to create it. While not everyone can pull off a scandal like Rite of Spring, the idea is there. Just like Brittany’s meltdown and shaved head, bad PR does help, because it makes for a great comeback story, a triumphant I told you so, and a push towards being better and greater. By creating a written discourse about dance, it ensures the progression of what comes next.

To write about dance is a privilege. To have experienced dancing has also been a privilege. To have this blog be a success and having the financial support from my readers is a privilege. One- I don’t take lightly. I am forever grateful to the universe for this opportunity, but, I don’t think that I should give a good review when it isn’t deserved. As a ballet teacher I demand perfection from my kids, so when I see a sloppy turn or an unclean line on stage at the Met, Lincoln Center, or Segerstrom, it frustrates me because I know that a sloppy turn or an unclean line will cost these kids an audition. When I watch a performance and I see a disconnect in the pas de deux, or choreography, or relationship between the dancers and the audience, I think what is the point of it all? When I watch a performance and it isn’t good when things go wrong and the dancers don’t save the performance, then why are they getting paid? Yes, each dancer worked their ass off to be the best, but if they don’t perform well, then what’s the point? It is like baseball player who can’t bat. Yes, they don’t lose their job for one bad game, but after a few bad games, a contract won’t get renewed or they are traded. So, when a principal dancer isn’t on their game or lacking what the audience wants, then they shouldn’t be applauded in the press. There is a ton of talent nowadays sitting in the corps de ballet doing nothing but waving a rose or standing in B plus because principals are there for the sake of a name, for the sake of reputation, or the sake of favoritism. For ballet to keep progressing we have to keep up with what is expected in ballet class and on stage. I’m sorry, but a triple pirouette isn’t enough anymore. When kids are expected to do five or six, I expect to see the same on stage. When dancers are reamed in class and rehearsal for not performing or relating or emoting, I better see that on stage. When choreographers are expected to deliver innovative works at the competitive level, I expect more at the professional level. And if you are an established choreographer, I expect even more. You cannot rely on a name, or reputation of being a dancer to be a good choreographer. Just because you were a good dancer, doesn’t mean you are a good teacher, you might be a good coach. Just because you were a bad dancer doesn’t make you a bad teacher or bad choreographer. All of these things are such a privilege to be a part of, but if you do not deliver something that people want, feel, or crave, then what is the point of feeding the art and progressing it?

So, as ballet progresses, we have to keep making space to talk about dancing both good and bad. We have to progress the art by constantly talking about it and sharing it. If dancers don’t feel safe when being reviewed, then they aren’t rising to the occasion that art form demands. If a reviewer doesn’t feel safe when being read, they don’t understand that everyone is entitled to an opinion. If the artistic staff doesn’t want press around because of fear, then they aren’t confident in their own decisions and direction they are leading the company. While some just want roses and feel good reviews, that doesn’t help people understand the art. It doesn’t make for a great performance. It is why the Benois awards hold significance, to honor those who are beyond exceptional in a single performance. It is why competitions like the YAGP doesn’t give out a GRAND PRIX winner every year, it is reserved for those who are beyond exceptional. Something that everyone in dance is constantly struggling for, so when it is achieved it is celebrated and becomes a part of ballet history.

As it all goes both ways, the important thing is that someone, somewhere is documenting what is happening, what is inspiring, what is innovative, what is glorious, good, bad, and ugly. That is art, and that is the captivating moments that will forever be a part of ballet history. Because if it goes unnoticed, if it goes untalked about, if it goes unwitnessed, then what was the point of all those years of training, hours of rehearsals and emotional giving? Sometimes, we do fail, and unfortunately, the press capitalizes on that moment. Other times you succeed and the world applauds you. Regardless, it is all a part of a job- a job that is a privilege.

Sneak Peek: ISSUE 4

american national ballet copyI have been so busy this week as Issue 4 comes out tomorrow… This week has been crazy with guest teaching at one of the top schools in the country Master Ballet Academy. It was pretty fantastic and the students there are crazy talented. But, anyways, onto the most important thing… Issue 4 is finally put together and includes some amazing articles:

Cover Story: Sensational Sara
Inside American National Ballet
The Sweet Sixteen (16 Social media superstars)
10 Women Breaking the Glass Ceiling in Ballet
Anatomy of a Pointe Shoe & so much more!!!

Super excited about this issue! Click here to subscribe! You don’t  want to miss out!
(Photo by Vikki Sloviter)

If you haven’t received your doodle or products, I am super sorry. I have been super bombarded!! The products went out yesterday and I am drawing as fast as I can!! Also, in the next week or two, I get to make my really big news… REALLY BIG NEWS… 

PHOENIX BALLET, the new game in town

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to take over Robbie Downey’s LiveStream on BalletBabble/BalletFreak and it was pretty great. Phoenix Ballet officially opened yesterday, as they are gearing up this month for their new show “Ballet Moods” May 19-20 at the Orpheum in DT PHX. (You can get tickets here) So, what does this mean? What does this mean? For a long time, the only ballet company in Arizona was Ib Anderson’s Ballet Arizona. Queue in Slawomir Wozniak, and now we have the rise of Phoenix Ballet. Phoenix Ballet is already pulling in social media superstars from their school, Master Ballet Academy.

(Photo of Juliet Doherty and Slawek Wozniak)

So, yesterday was the ribbon cutting ceremony inviting the public and previewing their new massive studio space. Yesterday, on the live stream you could have caught the following performances:

Tia Wenkman “Diana and Acteon” >> Ms. Wenkman is ridiculously flexible. with gorgeous lines and beautiful facility.

Amber Skaggs “Satanella” >> Bringing a lighthearted and effortless quality to the performance, Ms. Skaggs was a pleasure to watch.

William Jackson Beckham, Robbie Downie, McKenzie Thomas, pas de trois “Paquita”>> Paquita Pas De Trois is one of my favorite things to watch, especially when the dancers’ ballon becomes the focal point, a quality that all three has in spades.

Avery Gay, contemporary by Travis Wall >> This tiny little human possesses star quality and immaculate articulation.

Madison Penney “Esmeralda” >> Winner of the YAGP Jr Division, Madison Penney delivers every time. With turnout for days and effortless lines, Ms. Penney is definitely becoming a force to be reckoned with.

Juliet Doherty and Slawomir Wozniak Jr, “Be where I’m Not”  by Krista King Doherty >> Juliet Doherty brought something completely new to this performance. As the world has watched Juliet grow up, this choreography from her mom, was a very sweet and subtle gift of maturity.

Joel Dichter in “Pas d’esclave” from Corsaire>> Young Mr. Dichter was nice. He is definitely being groomed for that male bravura dance type.

Phoenix Ballet, excerpts from Albert Blaise Cattafi‘s String of Thoughts >> As this is going to stand as the company’s first rep piece, Mr. Cattafi, resident choreographer to Phoenix Ballet, captures the score through his choreography of cannons, subtle human interactions, and active stillness. Juliet Doherty shines in the elegant pas de cinq of women. Again, Mr. Cattafi brings a range of human emotions to the music. While this section ended with women supporting women, this piece was probably the most relevant of the contemporary pieces. String of Thoughts will take center stage at Ballet Moods May 19 and 20. Catch me in the audience May 20. (You can get tickets here) 

**Editor’s note: Originally the post was published as Ballet in Phoenix, the new game in town*

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social media ballet studio

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TUNE IN @ 11:30AM PST >> GOING LIVE!

Tomorrow morning, I’m going LIVE from Master Ballet Academy’s Phoenix Ballet for Robbie Downey (@balletbabble / @balletfreak) on her FACEBOOK LIVE! Or are you in Arizona? ALL FREE at 7625 E Redfield Rd. Suite 400 Scottsdale, AZ 85260

Who might you see perform live? The extremely talented girls at Masters…the incredibly long list of Social media sensations like Kenzie Thomas, Juliet Doherty, Ashlyn Mae & more.

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(Photo by Brad Olson)
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social media ballet studio

BIG NEWS! BIG THINGS! Just simply… well, BIG

Things have been happening so fast over here at a Ballet Education. Things have been coming in left and right, up and down. It is kind of chaotic. Between doodling what seems to be and endless amount of orders, the artwork for the children’s book, the magazine, the emails, the teaching, RDA Nationals in PHX, the list goes on and on… It is like mega overload… Super overload. Plus, the big secret we have been working on over here… It has just been ridiculously crazy. BUT I DO HAVE GOOD NEWS! LOTS OF IT!

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BEHIND THE SCENES OF ARIZONA DANCES: Taimy Miranda, photographed by Ashley Baker // Ashley Lorraine Baker is coming to work for a Ballet Education full time. Why? Mostly because I need help and I like being around her. Okay, just kidding, because she is super talented and understands my madness.

ISSUE 4‘s crazy fiasco has been solved by the talented Vikki Sloviter. With the issue of the cover story falling through, an even better cover story has emerged and we are so excited to announce it soon. The magazine should be released May 10, at the latest… fingers crossed… But, if you have images that you want in the magazine, keep sending them over… we have lots to write about and need photos!

THE BIGGER NEWS!!
Recently, I have been getting a ton of emails from dance studio owners and business owners asking about how I am able to track my social media platforms, how I am able to juggle it all, and how can they use social media to the limitless potential it has… Well, remember, prior to my blog I was working in fashion and doing well in PR, Marketing, and Social Media. But, yes, I do know how the logarithms work and I also understand how social media, digital marketing, and content hold the future of ballet in their hands. So, I have been working together with a team of writers, editors, social media strategists, digital marketing gurus, PR powerhouses to make sure my theory worked… And it did. 

social media ballet studio
What does this
mean?
It means… I can finally announce that a Ballet Education has created a Ballet Network.
A Ballet Network 
is now a network and resource for dance studios, product/apparel, and more to use. Feel free to go ahead and check it out!! I am pretty happy with it, well actually very happy with it. And now, everyone can have a large team working for them at an affordable price. I saw some of the prices out there, and read what people were paying with little or 0 results and was pretty shocked. But now, any small business can afford it!!


TRENDY: CJ of a Ballet Education has his own successful business and we love it!! The Bachelor Candle is one of the first to join the new A Ballet Network. Shop this week and get 20% off using the coupon code: 20OFF (It is the perfect gift for a male ballet dancer or male ballet teacher. The scents are strong, clean, kind of sexy and a lot of fun.)

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Balanchine is in the Air…

A Ballet Education’s Covergirl, Mimi Tompkins will be taking on Ballet Arizona’s All Balanchine program this month. The program runs May 11-14 at Symphony Hall. I will definitely be going. I will let you all know what show I will be going to! I am just waiting for casting to be announced. The program will consist of three of my top ten Balanchine Ballets: Photo courtesy of Arizona Dances, photographed by Ashley Baker.

Western Symphony– a ballet that is all-American, funny, light-hearted and exciting. It is broken into movements. Notably, the second movement or the Adagio Waltz is known for the playfulness of pas de deux. The final movement (fourth movement, Rondo) is the most famous as it ends with the entire cast doing consecutive pirouettes from fifth as the curtain closes. The below video is the first video I had ever seen of Wester Symphony, well I think it was most everyone’s in my generation… I remember watching Susan Jaffe, now the dean at NCSA and being in awe. It wasn’t because of the high legs but just how charismatic she was, how musical she was, how fun she was. Watching Nikolaj HĂŒbbe, artistic director of the Royal Danish Ballet, was insane. So energetic, so fun. Then, I had the privilege of sharing the stage with him for our run of Nutcracker and I felt like I was in a dream. But, I can watch this video on VHS over and over again and it doesn’t get old. It will probably rip soon, but thankfully someone has illegally uploaded it to youtube and we can all watch it before the trust takes it down.

Square Dance, the fast, country, do-si-do, juxtaposed ballet … but really the ballet is centered around ridiculously hard footwork, and extremely fast, fun steps… when the orchestra isn’t slowed down… this ballet is invigorating. The ballet also has a really great solo for male dancers that isn’t just jumping and turning… Taylor Stanley of NYCB on Square Dance.

Lastly,  Agon; the epitome of Balanchine’s black and white collaborations. With music by Stravinsky, Agon is the provocative tale of music and choreography. Every dancer who dances the pas de deux brings something different, every dancer in the corps is tested to find their story, and every night is different. Definitely excited just to see how the dancers at BAZ take on this ballet.

Tickets are available here: http://balletaz.org/performance/all-balanchine-2017/

 

In Chicago? Want to see Serenade? Save 40% on Tickets!

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Serenade, is my favorite ballet. Performed at any level, this ballet can not fail because of the genius that Balanchine is and created. On Saturday, May 6, 2017 Ballet Chicago’s Studio Company will be performing Serenade and various other works and a Ballet Education readers get 40% OFF TICKETS!

A special offer for friends of A Ballet Education

Save 40% on Platinum Anniversary at the Harris Theater

“a quiet miracle
impeccably clean technical execution
organic sense of breath
a rare treat for Chicago audiences.” — Lynn Colburn Shapiro, SeeChicagoDance

The acclaimed Ballet Chicago Studio Company celebrates its 20th anniversary with a concert program featuring a world premiere by choreographer Frank Chaves set to a commissioned score written by Josephine Lee, President and Artistic Director of Chicago Children’s Choir, and performed live by Lee and cellist Meena Cho. Platinum Anniversary also features spectacular masterworks by George Balanchine, Ballet Chicago Founder and Artistic Director Dan Duell, and Resident Choreographer Ted Seymour, including Balanchine’s magnificent Serenade.

“This milestone year brings to culmination two decades of tomorrow’s young artists performing an extraordinary repertoire on Chicago stages,” reflected Duell. “In addition to presenting masterworks of George Balanchine every year, we have built a diverse inventory of works observing a forward-looking vision of beauty and innovation. Our anniversary program is a shining example of that vision. There could hardly be a more fitting tribute to the many dancers who have grown into professional artists worldwide, the many performers who will grace the Harris Theater stage this season, and the many supporters who have made it all possible.”

Friends of A Ballet Education enjoy access to 40% off tickets with the code BC40.

Click Here to Buy Your Tickets

A Day at Lincoln Center…

There is nothing more beautiful, more peaceful, and more exciting than waking up early and having a cup of coffee in front of the Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center. This center might just be the center of ballet or even the center of the arts itself. Home to New York City Ballet, the School of American Ballet, the Juilliard School, The Metropolitan Opera, and The New York Philharmonic Orchestra. Offering a residency to American Ballet Theatre and hosting legendary names like Phillip Glass, Kirov, Bolshoi, La Scala, Barbra Streisand and more, this has become the epicenter of arts for America, and possibly the world. While covering the Youth America Grand Prix, I was lucky enough to call Lincoln Center home for a week. Waking up every day and walking out of my hotel and into the center was quite spectacular and quite inspiring. So here, are some of my collected thoughts while in the Big Apple, mostly scribbled in my notebook.

 

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photo by me.

 

The privilege of ballet is exhausting. To be a part of this world is difficult. It takes the right body type, years upon years of impeccable training, thousands upon thousands of dollars and being in the right place at the right time. To be a balletomane, it is expensive as well, and to get dressed every night is exhausting. Every night a different outfit, fixing your face and hair, shining your shoes… It becomes exhausting. Talking to people and shaking hands and mingling, it can be overwhelming, especially if you have fangirl moments.

Most Artistic Directors… well they might be the reason ballet is dying… While ballet is based on decades of tradition, those traditions are failing the art form. Very few companies and institutions are embracing the future. Three cheers to those who are curating works and programs that speak the truth. Most recently, Misty Copeland for Dance Across America featuring Complexions, the Black Iris Project, and Nashville Ballet.

I am really uncomfortable around people. As much as I am extrovert, I am also very introverted, and when put around thousands upon thousand of people, I have a tendency to collapse. If it wasn’t for my friend Lacey, I don’t think I would have made it through the YAGP. I don’t like being in uncomfortable situations, and definitely, need to get better at it.

This next generation of ballet dancers truly understands the power of social media and innovation. Surrounded by dancers, energetic dancers is inspiring. All of these kids dancing around the fountain waiting to be let into Lincoln Center were the most adorable thing. It is a great responsibility to protect the next generation of dancers, and that responsibility was once the directors of ballet companies. Now it is the responsibility of all, including myself. It is the next age of ballet, and we have already entered it.

New York City is where I want to be. The energy of Lincoln Center was so inspiring, that it might be time to head back to NYC. After fashion, I told myself I would never go back there, but this blog might be my calling and my purpose in life. If I truly want this blog to work, if I truly want to make the blog successful, then NYC might be my next home.

Dance Photographers… and the world of publishing…

As I announced on social media that I have lost the cover story to Issue 4, a huge amount of support and photographers have written in. It has been really great, but there is an issue, one that I don’t think most dance photographers realize. In publishing, there are various types of photos, and these photos usually drive a publication. But, if the photo has already been published then at best they become stock photos or eventually a part of a coffee table book. In order for a photo to make a cover, or make an editorial they have to tell a story. It doesn’t have to be a brilliant story, but it has to tell a story. One of the greatest editorial dance photographers out there is Kenneth B Edwards. His photos tell a very interesting story. You have to do that as a photographer. It isn’t just about capturing that one split second of great technique. It has to tell more, it has to be something that is a part of something. Whether it is an accessory story of legwarmers and therabands, or chronicling the day in the life of a ballerina, it has to be something special.

Secondly, it can’t already be published. That is the problem with social media accounts, that photos get published at an instantaneous rate, and unfortunately, once they are published they are no longer usable or just become stock photos on Getty Images. It is a part of the overall frustration I am having right now. They are beautiful images, but if they are already published, then they are not usable.

Another thing you can do is create stock photos, like pictures of class and tendus and all that, but they probably won’t get you a cover. You can upload these images to stock galleries like Getty Images, DreamsTime and SmugMug for people to purchase for their websites and so forth.

Finally, I am looking for something special for the covers of a Ballet Education. I don’t care about name or rank in a company, I don’t care about how flexible or how high someone can jump. I care about a photo that is going to make readers dream bigger, work harder and pursue their goals with passion and tenacity. That is what I am looking for. This is what I am looking for, if you have photos that you want me to consider, just send me the release and the images, and if a something comes up where I can use the photos then great!

Thank you.

You can email me at aballeteducation@gmail.com 

5 Inspiring Women in Ballet

In Ballet right now there are many women fighting their rightful way into leading positions in the ballet world. It isn’t enough now for these women to retire and become teachers. They are pushing forward for jobs like Artistic Director, Creative Director, Executive Director, Resident Choreographer and more. As ballet is slowly progressing, women in ballet are taking things into their own hands. Here are just five women who are extremely different, extremely talented and have something to say in the world of ballet.
five inspiring women in ballet

>> Tamara Rojo, Two Jobs One Passion

The Spanish sensation, Tamara Rojo has had a stellar career and still at the age of 42 is wowing audiences as lead principal at English National Ballet. But it doesn’t just end there, she is also the Artistic Director of English National Ballet and has now nurtured ENB to be one of the best companies in the world with a repertory to die for. She is also making way for more female choreographers and repetiteurs with Anna-Marie Holmes re-staging of Le Corsaire.

>> Larissa Saveliev, founder of the YAGP

Russian-born Larissa Saveliev established the YAGP in 2000, and since then has awarded over 3 Million dollars in scholarships. The YAGP reaches over 7,000 dancers a year and helps mold their technique and career paths through their master classes. She has also established the bi-annual Job Fair, the Emerging Choreographer Series, and Legends in Dance Galas.

>> Ashley Ellis, RubiaWear 

Boston Ballet Principal, Ashley Ellis took a hobby of knitting and turned it into a mega brand, all while dancing. Her leg warmers and warm ups are everywhere, all while balancing dancing full time. One for the female entrepreneurs. You can catch Ms. Ellis in Boston Ballet’s production of the Sleeping Beauty opening this weekend.

>> Michaela DePrince, Author & Role model 

First Position superstar, Michaela DePrince not only became a role model for young girls everywhere but now has authored multiple books and one that was just optioned by MGM for a movie. The Dutch National Ballet Soloist is carving her way into the world of ballet, and carving hard so that others that will follow won’t have to.

>> Hee Seo, Hee Seo Foundation, YAGP KOREA

She isn’t just the first Korean principal at American Ballet Theatre, she is also changing the landscape of ballet in Korea. Hee Seo started her foundation last year in hopes to start connecting Korean dancers to more opportunities, and it is working. Additionally, her foundation is helping boys in ballet compete at the international level, in hopes of avoiding/being excused to their mandatory two years to the Korean army.

Reflecting on things…

First off, I want to thank everyone who supported my trip to the YAGP. It really was a humbling experience, and for that, I am forever thankful. After the YAGP, I was heading back to Arizona, when I realized it was the day before Easter. So, thanks to a very nice lady at SouthWest Airlines, I was able to fly back to California for super cheap and spend time with my family. While spending time in California, I was lucky enough to have job offers come in from NYC… It has been overwhelming and extremely humbling and for that I am thankful.
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Over Easter, I sprained my wrist and pulled something in it… doing what you may ask? Sleeping. So, this is why I have been so slow on getting the doodles back to everyone. But alas, I am moving on them! I finally am home and will be printing all the prints tomorrow and shipping them Thursday.

While in California, I took adult ballet class at an old school I used to train at… and I died. My poor psoas is so out of shape lol. But, the plus side was it was a more Balanchine class, so the combinations come to me easier, stylistically and musically I probably just look better in this class… even though I probably still was a fat panda jumping around. I had to order new Rubia Wear leg warmers because I realized, I don’t take them off ever, and I wear them over my heel so they get tore up. -___- My fault.

Finally, this past week has been a very emotional week on the West Coast for ballet. San Francisco Ballet said goodbye to three stunning household names: All-American Vanessa Zahorian, the tall and handsome Davit Karapetyan, and the Latina who stole the ballet world’s heart Lorena FeijĂło. (Find more on Odette’s Ordeal’s Facebook) All this and  SFB premiered Myles Thatcher’s Ghost. Busy week for them.

Meanwhile, on the East Coast… NYCB launched their Here/Now Festival and has been getting rave reviews. Boston Ballet this week has been gearing up for the Sleeping Beauty, and Miami City Ballet ended their season.

American National Ballet, a company celebrating diversity in ballet, announced their first principal to sign: the tall, leggy, and talented Sara Michelle Murawski. This former Slovak National dancer and current PA Ballet Principal made headlines this year after Nutcracker season she was told she wasn’t going to be rehired for next season because of her height. This then exploded and resulted in the lack of casting for the remainder of the season. ANB has yet to announce any other hires with the exception of the Artistic Director, Cuban, Octavio Martin and powerhouse executive director Ashley Benefield. The company will be based out of Charleston, South Carolina. (learn more)

Lastly, I came home to find Doodle Book 3 on my doorstep. 🙂 IMG_3123.JPG

Currently Listening To: Solitudes by Enzio Bosso >> Click here to buy

NOMINEES OF BENOIS DE LA DANSE 2017

NOMINEES OF BENOIS DE LA DANSE-2017 // If you aren’t familiar with the Benois de la Danse, they awards for dancers and choreographer who have made a significant cultural contribution over the past season. The money from the gala and fundraisers goes to ballet veterans to help support them financially. The winners are selected by a jury. The 2017 nominees are:

 

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Photo Courtesy of Bolshoi Theater

CHOREOGRAPHERS 
SIDI LARBI CHERKAOUI – Exhibition, Modest Mussorgsky/ Maurice Ravel, Royal Ballet of Flanders.
EDWARD CLUG –Handman, Milko Lazar, NederlandsDans Theater.
HYO-HYUNG KANG – Into the Pulse, Puri, Korean National Ballet.
AKRAM KHAN – Giselle, Vincenzo Lamagna after Adolphe Adam, English National Ballet.
CRYSTAL PITE – The Seasons’ Canon, Antonio Vivaldi, Max Richter, Paris Opera Ballet
ALEXEY RATMANSKY – Serenade after Plato’s Symposium, Leonard Bernstein, American Ballet Theatre.
DEMIS VOLPI – SalomĂ©, different composers, Stuttgart State Ballet.

BALLERINAS 
STELLA ABRERA – Princesse Aurora, The Sleeping Beauty, P.Tchaikovsky/M.Petipa, A.Ratmansky’s version, American Ballet Theater.
NINA KAPTSOVA — Short Time Together, M.Richter, L.Bethoven/P.Lightfoot, S.Leon, Bolshoi Theatre of Russia.
MISA KURANAGA – Tatiana, Onegin, P.Tchaikovsky/J.Cranko; Medora, Le Corsaire, A.Adam/M.Petipa, I.Liơka’s version, Boston Ballet.
LUDMILA PAGLIERO – Other Dances, F.Chopen/J.Robbins, Paris Opera Ballet.
SEUL-KI PARK – Aegina, Spartacus, A.Khachaturian/Y.Grigorovich, Korean National Ballet.
MARIA RICCETTO – Tatiana, Onegin, P.Tchaikovsky/J.Cranko, National Ballet of Uruguay.

DANCERS 
GUSTAVO CARVALHO – Don Jose, Carmen, G.Bizet/M.HaydĂ©e, National Ballet of Uruguay.
DAVIDE DATO – Abderakhman, Raymonde, A.Glazunov/M.Petipa, R. Noureyev’s version, Vienna State Ballet.
JAE-WOO LEE – Karabosse, The Sleeping Beauty, P.Tchaikovsky/M.Petipa, M.HaydĂ©e’s version, Korean National Ballet.
BROOKLYN MACK – Leading part, Theme and Variations,P.Tchaikovsky/G.BalanchineTheWashington Ballet.
HUGO MARCHAND – Title role, Romeo and Juliet, S.Prokofiev/R.Noureyev, Paris Opera Ballet.
DENIS RODKIN – Solor, La Bayadùre, L.Minkus/M. Petipa, Y.Grigorovich’s version, Bolshoi Theatre of Russia.
JEFFREY CIRIO – Colas, La Fille Mal GardĂ©e, F.Herold/F.Ashton; Title role, Prodigal Son, S.Prokofiev/G.Balanchine, American Ballet Theatre.

 

The members of the Jubilee Jury, under the presidency of Yuri Grigorovich, are all Benois laureates:

Julio Bocca — Artistic Director of the National Ballet of Uruguy;
Jorma Elo — Choreographer;
Sue Jin Kang — Artistic Director of the Korean National Ballet;
Julie Kent — Artistic Director of the Washington Ballet;
Manuel Legris — Artistic Director of the Vienna State Ballet;
Brigitte Lefevre — Ex-Director of the Paris Opera Ballet, Director of Danse Biennale in Cannes;
Svetlana Zakharova — Prima ballerina of the Bolshoi Theater of Russia.

PURCHASE TICKETS!

Center BENOIS: 8-916-106-04-14 (only cash; no online option).
Bolshoi box-office: 8-915-453-31-50 (no online option)
Box-offices around Moscow:
http://www.ticketland.ru +7-495-937-77-37
http://www.parter.ru +7-495-258-00-00
Russian Youth Theater +7-495-692-00-69 (no online option)

Honoring the legend, the man, the humble Julio Bocca.

On Friday night, at the Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater, the ballet world came together to celebrate one man: Julio Bocca. Most nights at the ballet are great, but this night was exceptional. The night began with the crowd filling the lobby of Lincoln Center, the entire ballet world seemed to be there. Among the faces in the crowd were Julie Kent, Isabella Boylston, Lauren Lovette, Stella Abrera (who was nominated for a Prix Benois de la Danse for her performance as Aurora in the Sleeping Beauty), The Olsen Twins, and more. The evening promised to be one of excitement as the playbill listed a long list of principal star dancers. With that many principals, it promised to be a stellar night.

The evening opened with projections of various dancers from around the world wishing Julio Bocca a happy birthday while in front dancers were planning a party and toasting. As it all wound down, there was Marcello Gomes who gave the opening speech. A speech about inspiration and the admiration he has for such a great dancer. He then danced with Luciana Paris in Twyla Tharp’s My Way from Sinatra Suite. This was followed by ballroom dancers Cecilia Figaredo and Hernan Piquin dancing to Michelangelo 70 by Astor Piazzolla. NYCB’s Joaquin De Luz came out to talk about Mr. Bocca and was followed by him dancing Jerome Robbins’ Other Dances with Tiler Peck. A series of beautiful solo variations and cute playfulness engulfed Lincoln Center.

JULIO BOCCA: A TRIBUTE TO A DANCE LEGEND

Next, another video of Julio Bocca describing what it was like to dance Romeo and Juliet with Natalia Makarova. This was followed by a letter and voice clip from the Swan Queen herself. It started with a video of Natalia in the balcony scene with Marcelo Gomes being her Romeo. This was then followed with Maria Riccetto (Ballet Nacional SODRE and formerly ABT running out). The two performed MacMillan’s luscious pas de deux. Have not seen her dance since she left ABT, but she has definitely grown as an artist. It was adorable and fresh, everything a Juliet should be. Marcelo pushed his jumps and turns insanely during the opening solo. It was just beautiful dancing.

 

Yuan Yuan Tan and Vitor Luiz performed the Final Pas e Deux from Bells by Yui Possokhov. Her beautiful red Leo showcased her ridiculous ferocious body and her unbelievable movement quality.

JULIO BOCCA: A TRIBUTE TO A DANCE LEGEND

photo by VAM, courtesy of the YAGP

This was followed by Julio Bocca’s thoughts on DON Q, and started with a video of Mr. Bocca and Tamara Rojo performing the exciting pas de deux. Emerging from the wings was Tamara Rojo and Isaac Hernandez of English National Ballet. The two dazzled the crowds with insane balances, never ending pirouettes, triple fouettes, and a sassy playfulness on Ms. Rojo’s part. It was probably the best Kitri I have ever seen.

 

Gonzalo Garcia of NYCB performed the solo from Mambo Suite, a fun and male flirty variation. Followed by Nina Ananiashvili of State Ballet of Georgia performing Lekuri, a Soviet folk dance in pointe shoes. Yuan Yuan Tan and Vitor Luz came back out to performing the opening of Black Swan Pas De Deux. The audience wanted more but they only did the pas de deux. Her take on black swan is more sly and sleek, befitting to her body.

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Photo by VAM, courtesy of the YAGP

Lucia LaCarra and Marlon Dino performed Spiral Twist by Russell Maliphant. This gorgeous, gorgeous pas de deux was complex and intricate. Somewhere between ballet and figure skating the piece was intellectual and thought-provoking for the audience. No pointe shoes, just simple gray costumes, the two moved so elegantly and so luscious that the audience went wild.

 

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Photo by VAM, courtesy of the YAGP

 

Luciana Paris and Rodrigo Colomba (Teatro Folklorico Nacional-Argentina) performed Presente, a world premier by Analia Gonzalez. This super sexy pas de deux made for a very entertaining number. He was strong, supportive, and so into her, it turned the audience on. It was so sexy. His large hands all over her tiny waist and body… She danced in just a long sleeve leotard, he danced in pants and a tank top… Oooh, hot and bothered all over again.

Isabelle Guerin and Manual Legris, former etoiles of Paris Opera, danced Farewell Waltz. A very subtle pas de deux about the end of life. She is everything I have ever imagined about watching her dance life. Slick and effortless technique. He was everything he needed to be, strong but insecure, effortless but distraught.

Vitor Luz performed Percussion 4 from Bob Fosse.

The night ended with all of the dancers toasting Julio Bocca on stage. For most of the young YAGP competitors, they probably didn’t know who Julio Bocca was until now. But, if they could take anything away from the evening it was the humility and thoughtfulness of this man. Everything that was said about him reflected his genuine qualities, his humble attitude, and his never ending hard work.

www.YAGP.org

//Thank you to everyone who sponsored me to go to the YAGP.

AND THE CROWD GOES CRAZY…

The Stars of Today Meet the Stars of Tomorrow:
Thursday, April 13, 2017 @ the David H. Koch Theater @ Lincoln Center

curtain
Any evening at Lincoln Center always promises to be a success and enjoyable for the mature ballet goer. But, tonight was different as hundreds of young ballet dancers flocked to the fountain with the anticipation of what was to come. Tonight, the Youth America Grand Prix hosted a beautiful gala honoring their lifetime achievement honoree Bruce Marks, the pure talent of top performers from the Prix, and professionals from all around the world. Dozens of professional dance icons glided across the marble floors at Lincoln Center to support their colleagues, young dancers, and the talented and forever a part of ballet history Bruce Marks. By the time the audience sat and the house lights dimmed, the sold-out house was ready for ballet.The energy was different from other nights at theater. It was young, it was hopeful, it was exciting. As the lights dimmed, dozens of screams from the third and fourth ring poured into Lincoln Center, the anticipation was bursting, and it led to a spectacular evening of ballet.

 

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Photo by VAM PRODUCTIONS, courtesy of the YAGP

It opened with a male pre-competitor, Brady Farrar doing the variation from Talisman that was pretty awesome. Followed by the pas de deux from Coppellia from Master’s Juniors featuring Avery Gay. Classical Dance Academy performed a competitive ensemble piece titled Existence that involved a glowing pink parachute. Junior division’s Takumi Miyaki performed the male variation from Swan Lake. This was followed by a contemporary solo from Jan Spunda titled “Swan” which was a male take on Dying Swan. A senior from Korea redid her variation from Raymonda. Tara from Portugal performed a contemporary solo in a skirt. Maddison Penny blew the audience away with her variation of Esmeralda and Taro Kurachi blew everyone over again with his Don Q variation. This was followed by the Grand DĂ©filĂ© with choreography by YAGP resident choreographer Carlos do Santos, Jr that included 300 YAGP participants from 30 countries. It rivaled many corps de ballets from major companies. It was just legs for days and clean technique. Arms that are too short for their bodies because of their ages, but beautifully proportioned bodies.
YAGP 2017 Gala Starts of Today Meet the Stars of Tomorrow

Photo by VAM PRODUCTIONS, courtesy of the YAGP

The night then honored Bruce Marks. The talented and beautiful Nina Ananiashvili presented the award. His acceptance speech was funny, heartfelt and inspiring. Then it just got long a political, but he is Bruce Marks and 80, so let the man do his thing.

YAGP 2017 Gala Starts of Today Meet the Stars of Tomorrow

Photo by VAM PRODUCTIONS, courtesy of the YAGP

ACT II brought the roaring applause. The second half of the program opened with Tiler Peck and Zachary Catazaro performing Wheeldon’s Pas De Deux from Carousel. It was a very cute pas de deux but completely out of text from the Carousel Suite
 Without the entire ballet the pas de deux is kind of boring. They were not boring, as I adore Tiler Peck. He was nice, but

James Whiteside then performed in place of Xander Parish in a solo by Marcelo Gomes. James Whiteside is beyond beautiful, the problem with this solo was that it was not thought out well. It seemed very disjointed and lacked the interesting factor.

YAGP 2017 Gala Starts of Today Meet the Stars of TomorrowBrittany O’Connor and Paul Barris performed a very sexy ballroom number involving one pointe shoe and a backless sequin dress with a live music ensemble. She had legs and body for days
 Like for days. So between ballroom steps and ballet steps, the sexy duo performed with intricate lifts and spiraling whip arounds. Photo courtesy of the YAGP by VAM.

 

Skyler Brandt and Gabe Stone Sayer performed the always crowd pleasing pas de deux from Spring Waters. Both are now at ABT and both former YAGP finalists. He was charismatic, and she as full of energy like always. Skyler Brandt is truly turning into ballet’s sweat heart, and there is a clear reason: she is adorable. Her big eyes, all American body type, a smile that’s worth a million dollars and she’s clean.

Svetlana Lukina and Evan McKie performed David Dawson’s new Swan Lake Pas De Deux. In this minimal costuming, and contemporary take, the White Swan has total control and is almost enticing. She is mesmerizing and this was probably the most interesting piece of the night. For the mature balletomane, this probably was the jewel of the evening, but for the kids and this young audience, it wasn’t enough… But what came at the end truly was what the audience craved…

Ian Spring performed the always popular David Parson’s Caught. If you haven’t seen it, it involves a very cool strobe hiding the in-between steps and only what Mr. Parson’s wants you to see. Like a series of photographs. I have now seen Angel Corella do it and it was awful but the audience liked him and Glen Simmons from Ailey which was spectacular. Ian Spring brought a very fun and very lively take to it which I enjoyed a lot. Plus, the kids were going crazy over it.

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Photo by VAM, courtesy of the YAGP

 

 

 

Goddess Lucia Lacarra and Marlon Dino performed Light Rain by Gerald Arpino. The choreography was dated, but it showcased Ms. Lacarra’s impeccable legs and feet and the fact that she has no hips. It was purely all about flexibility.

The night was then stolen by Tamara Rojo and Cesar Corrales (baby daddy status) from English National Ballet. They performed the pas de deux from Le Corsaire which ENB just did. It was so impressive. He was so impressive. From his ENB’s emerging artist performance to skyrocketing through the company, Cesar Corrales might just be ballet next Roberto Bolle. With the exception that he turns with his shoulders up. Tamara Rojo was beyond marvelous. Her technique was spotless and her triple fouettes were quite impressive as they came with ease. The audience adored them. Ovations galore, as they deserved it.


It was a great and exciting night as the young ballet bunheads of tomorrow screamed with admiration. It was a great, beautiful and crazy night. A night where young ballet hopefuls became even more inspired by ballet legends and royalty.

 


Thank you to all of my sponsors who helped me go cover the YAGP FINALS in NYC.

Winners of the YAGP 2017

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The list of the stunning winners of the YAGP 2017:
Photo, Madison Penney, in Esmeralda. Photo by VAM Productions, Courtesy of the YAGP

Ensembles:
1. Academia Annarella, Portugal, Cuba Linda, Cuba Hermosa
2. The Rock School for Dance Education, USA, Black Veil
3. Yarita Yu Ballet Studio, Japan, Pace

 

Pre-Competitive:
HOPE AWARD: Brady Farrar, Stars Dance Studio
1. Yoojin Jang, Universal Ballet Academy, Korea
2. Emma Topalova, Pittsburgh Ballet House, USA
3. Ana Luiza Moraes Sartini, Ballet Vortice, Brasil

Contemporary Pas De Deux:
1. Master Ballet Academy, USA, No Regrets 
2. Ellison Ballet, USA, Le Manteau Rouge
3.
The Rock Center for Dance, USA, Hopak Dity
(Misprint, originally, it was stated that it went to the Rock School for Dance Education, but it went to the Rock Center for Dance based out Las Vegas)

Pas De Deux Classical:
1. Master Ballet Academy/Academia Anarella (USA/PORTUGAL)
2. Liceul De Coregrafie Floria Capsali (Romania)
3. Tallinn Ballet School (Estonia)

Junior Men:
1. Takumi Miyake, Kondo Ballet, Japan
2. Lazaro Corrales, Independent, Canada
3. Darrion Sellman, Los Angeles Ballet Academy, USA

Junior Women:
GRAND PRIX WINNER, Madison Penney, Master Ballet Academy
1. Hanna Park, Sunhwa Arts Middle & High School, Korea
2. Viola Pantuso, Ellison Ballet, USA
3. Jordan Coutts, V and T Classical Ballet Academy, USA
3. Juliette Bosco, Independent, USA

Senior Men:
1. Taro Kurachi, Ellison, USA
2. Jun Young Yang, National University of Arts, Korea
3. Yuedong Sun, Secondary School of Bejing Dance Academy, P.R. of China

Senior Women:
1. Gloria Benaglia, Ellison Ballet, USA
2. Chloe Misseldine, Orlando Ballet School, USA
3. Lauren Hunter, Marat Daukayev School of Ballet, USA

Shelley King Award for Excellence:
Remie Madeleine Goins

Grishko Award:
Sophia Vance

The Oustanding Artistry Award:
Jan Spunda

Natalia Makarova Award:
Elisabeth Beyer

Outstanding School Award:
Academia Annarella

www.yagp.org

And the winner is… YAGP 2017

Thank you to my list of donors who have helped make this trip possible. This afternoon, at Lincoln Center at the David H. Koch Theater hundreds of young potential ballet dancers, flooded the audience. These young hopeful students sat around in anticipation as the winners of the 2017 YAGP were announced.

From the pre-competitive division, the Hope award went to Brady Farrar from Stars Dance Studio.

The winner of the Junior Grand Prix was Madison Penney from Master Ballet Academy, AZ for her variation from Esmeralda.

From the senior category, no one won the grand prix.

The Shelley King Award for Excellence went to Remie Madeleine Goins. The Outstanding Artistry Award went to Jan Spunda from English National Ballet School. The Natalia Makarova Award went to my favorite, Elisabeth Beyer.

Senior Women Top 3:
1.Gloria Benaglia, Ellison USA
2.Chloe Misseldine, Orlando Ballet School USA
3.Lauren Hunter, Marat Daukayev School USA
Senior Men Top 3:
1.Taro Kurachi, Don Q, Ellison, USA
2.Jun Young Yang, Paquita, National University of Arts, Korea
3. Jan Spunda, English National Ballet School, Czech Republic
3. Yuedong Sun, Secondary School of Bejing Dance Academy, P.R. of China.

The most important part of this afternoon was the endless amounts scholarships given out. Hundreds of scholarships were given out to all age groups, most receiving multiple offers to the best schools in the world. Now, these young potential dancers will have their choice of going to a school who wants them. Register now for the 2018 YAGP.

The Current Sessions: The Big Balloon. April 14 & 15 @ Wild Project (NYC)

roya the current sessions
In the middle of the hustle and bustle of NYC, I found myself somewhere between peaceful intimacy and inspiration. Hosted by The Current Sessions, this community workshop was a preview of the TCS x Roya Carreras: The Big Balloon that goes on tonight. The workshop created such a sense of intimacy in the room and was beyond inspiring. Ms. Carreras walked the room through a series of exercises about giving and receiving yourself to one another, and how to create a pathway supported by resistance, conscious thought, and impulse reactions. Her soothing voice and intricate movements allowed for this juxtaposition of humanity and intimacy. The workshop was a preview of what her installation and performance will be tonight.

Roya Carreras holds her BFA in Dance from University of California, Irvine. This Iranian-Hispanic artist is not only classically trained in ballet, but uses a variety of genres, mediums, and thought processes to curate work. Learn more here.
the current sessions roya

LAB // SESSIONS with Roya Carreras on April 12 partnered with Arts on Site and The Playground.

tcs roya carreras dance review

Obviously, this is not ballet, but the idea of being able to connect, to be supportive, and to find yourself by carving out space is a much-needed concept in ballet. It was really inspiring and so delicate. The Current Sessions was founded by Alexis Convento, a classically trained dancer who holds her BFA in Dance from Fordham/Ailey.


Photos by me.