Too Young to Be Taken Seriously?

Are you tired of hearing that your student is too young for a summer intensive? Tired of not being taken seriously? A new summer course has been designed for your child hosted by A Ballet Education’s The Ballet Clinic.

Clinic Students: Tegan Chou (13), Zoe Cartier (13), Annabelle Gourley (15) photographed by Jolee Photography

This program was designed by A Ballet Education’s The Ballet Clinic’s David King and Ashley Baker for young dancers who want to be taken seriously. With over 60 hours of training, this comprehensive program is designed for young dancers who want to excel in classical ballet. This includes being prepared for pointe, strengthening pointe work, refining technique, and to have a deeper understanding of classical ballet. Young dancers will be prepared into two groups.

An EXCLUSIVE rigorous, innovative program designed for serious dancers ages 8-13 from JULY 6-24, 2020

Group A: designed for young dancers who do not have pointe shoes but are ready for pointe work. Only 12 Students will be admitted into Group A
Group B: designed for young dancers who are on pointe. Only 16 Students will be admitted into Group B

2019 Prix Candidate and Royal Ballet Scholarship Recipient Bel Pickering

To audition you will need to submit the following on our website by clicking here. Deadline to audition: January 31, 2020

Acceptances: February 17, 2020
Headshot, Arabesque Shot,
Youtube/Vimeo Link including:

One side only
– Demi and Grand Pliés in 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th
-Tendus from first and fifth
-Rond de jamb a terre
-Adage of choice

Center Work:
-Waltz with Pirouette
-Adage
-Warm up Jumps in 1st, 2nd, 5th
-Grand Jeté

Audition Fee: $30

Madeleine Smith at our scoopy leg workshop, photo by Ashley Baker

JULY 6-24, 2020 at the Ballet Clinic, Located in Scottsdale, AZ
Students are expected to dance from Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM – 1:30 PM* (includes 30-minute break for lunch) Private coaching for variations and solos are available from 2:00-5:00 PM* with Ashley Baker and David King. Price for the Young Dancer Program $1,300, housing not available, if you would like to be considered for year-round please note in the application.

*Subject to change based on enrollment 

APPLY HERE

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Winter Intensives You Don’t Want to Miss Out On

Ballet definitely is expanding and growing and part of that growth is the elusive Winter Intensive. Schools around the world are capitalizing on the need and urgency for dancers to get into shape before audition season and the competition season. Winter Intensives are like mini boot camps to get kids into shape. Pros- more training and a chance to experience different teachers and styles. Cons- Expensive.

Here are some great Winter Intensives happening across the United States. Apply now before it is too late or too expensive to book travel.

Audition Intensive/ Artistry Intensive (Scottsdale, AZ)
We still have a few spaces available at the A Ballet Education’s The Ballet Clinic Winter Intensives. This elite, exclusive program is available to 12 girls in each intensive. (click the photo to learn more)

Grand Premier Invitational (Palm Beach, FL)
The Grand Premier Invitational is expanding this holiday season to Palm Beach. Hosted by Natalia Bashakatova, this new program is offering a cornucopia of master teachers from the YAGP. (click the photo to learn more)

WINTER INTENSIVE, A&A (Chicago, IL)
Chicago’s Russian coaches Alexei and Anna are bringing in YAGP Rehearsal Director Misha Tchoupakov. (click the photo to learn more)

Complexions Winter Intensive (NYC & Dallas)
Famed contemporary company Complexions will be offering two intensives this Winter. One in NYC and one in Dallas. (click here for more info)

Nashville Ballet Winter Intensive: click here for more info

Ballet Chicago Winter Intensive: click here for more info

Golden State Ballet and Pilates Winter Intensive: click here for more info

Top 10 Toxic Ballet Schools

Haha, did you click to read this because you were wondering if your ballet school was on the list? This post isn’t the Top 10 Toxic Ballet Schools, but it is going to talk about whether or not you are in a toxic environment and what contributes to it. This is conversation is already happening behind closed doors and amongst moms, but it is time to talk about it out in the open. 

Closeup of Young Ballet Dancers in a Ballet School / Adobe Stock

All schools are not created equally. There are different schools for different purposes, different schools have different resources. Resources can include everything from financial aid to connections to community programs to performing opportunities. These schools around the world are sometimes overwhelming to navigate or there is a very large amount of pressure to make it into one of these schools. But not everything about these schools are great and glamourous. Sure, the allure of the opera house, the excitement of going away, the inspiration of being around other dancers and seeing company members, even the possibility of potentially joining the company makes it worth while. But behind the beautiful Marley, the floor to ceiling mirrors, the historic halls and the tradition and passion that stood at the very same barres, behind all of that there is the ugly side of ballet schools.

From manipulation, to pressure, to sex scandals — ballet schools are infamously known for their toxic environments. Movies have portrayed these hidden truths, and probably exaggerated them to extremes, but regardless there is some truth to the toxicity of ballet schools. From over involved stage moms, to gossiping, to favors, bribing teachers for roles and solos, the list goes on and on. So let’s take a look at some of these things. How do you know if you are in a toxic environment? What can you do about it?

Adobe Stock

I think one of the biggest issues in a lot of ballet schools is the influence of a director or head teacher on a child’s life. Obviously, they know a lot about ballet, but they are not the parent. I think one of the biggest things is making sure the parent is making decisions in a child’s life, and not the director dictating the life of the child/family. These choices can range from encouraging or discouraging a summer intensive, or pushing/holding back a child for financial gain. To be honest, no director wants their student to leave their school, that is money walking out of the door. So there is that factor. I think that there has to be a healthy balance, and healthy trust with a director. But, one of the biggest things that is needed is transparency.

Another thing that is toxic are the students. Don’t get me wrong, every environment can be toxic, but in ballet schools and dance studios, a lot of the times just one bad apple spoils the bunch. One student gossiping out of jealousy or insecurities can quickly turn a school’s environment into a negative spiral, especially if the director continues to show a lot of support of the toxic student and rewards his or her behavior, or doesn’t believe it, or wants to ignore it and doesn’t want to get involved at all.

Finally, another big thing that contributes to an environment going bad is parents. A lot of schools have banned parents from sitting in the lobby anymore because of the gossip. Parents tend to get over involved, over calculated, and overly ambitious. Parents gossiping about other kids is the worst, because they are grown adults attacking small children. One of these problems is parents not having a realistic sense of whether their own child is strong or weak. I am not saying all kids out there are terrible, but you do have to have a sense of reality when it comes to dance, and specifically ballet. 

As you can see, there is no right or wrong answer to fix the problem. But, I think one of the biggest things is not realizing if you are in a toxic environment or being unaware if you are contributing to a bad environment.

If you can answer yes to any of these questions, you are probably in a toxic environment or contributing to it:

Is your child miserable either before or after dance class?
Does you director or teacher ignore your kid in class, meaning no corrections?
Do you talk about other kids, and follow their career trajectories?
Do you start sentences with, “Don’t repeat this, but…”
Does the director punish or reward students with parts?
Do families who donate money or volunteer more get better parts?
Is your child unhappy with their current dancing abilities?
Does your coach constantly yell?
Has a director ever yelled at a parent?
Have you expressed concern for your child, and you were brushed off?

These are just some of the questions that we have to ask ourselves, because the problems are real. Toxic environments are real, and unfortunately, very few things are done to correct the behavior. I remember working at one school and the director opened the beginning of the year talk with, “You shouldn’t question me, because I know what I am doing. I care about your kids.” 

This was followed by a long talk about trust, loyalty and commitment — all things that I agree are needed in ballet. The amount of work that it takes to be a dancer truly is quite a burden. These opening lines were delivered in sincerity and conviction, but the problem is that the director didn’t live up to those things. Ignoring kids, encouraging kids to not go away, telling kids that they weren’t talented when in reality they are very talented, punishing kids with their level placement, judging kids by height and weight and the list went on and on. These things are all just examples of issues in toxic environments. And these problems aren’t just at elite schools or small schools. It is everywhere.

Finally, one of the biggest concerns I have about toxic environments, is that the right environment for a ballet student can make all the difference. A student in the right environment will soar and progress quickly, while a student who isn’t at the right school might be ignored or get injured. Someone who doesn’t have a pliable body obviously needs extra attention so they don’t get injured, and someone with an overly flexible body will need attention in strengthening and supplementing with pilates. All of these things, including a supportive, mentally healthy environment are contributing factors to finding the right environment for your student. 

“When a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.” – Alexander Den Heijer

What does that mean? It means that if your school’s environment is not for you, leave. I know there is the financial obligation or even the friendships, or even the convenience factor. But the reality is, if the environment isn’t right for the student, remove the student. Even at the Ballet Clinic, we do not accept everyone because we also care about the environment. Someone who has anxiety might not be the best fit at my school as the pressure is quite high. Someone who doesn’t want to pursue ballet as a career wouldn’t be the right fit either. Sure, I could flood the classes with 20+ kids in the room, but I believe that 8-12 kids in a class is enough, as each kid needs individual corrections so they can excel. I am not saying this is the right model, or the only model, I am saying what works for me. We also eliminated the jealousy factor as we do not emphasis competition. If the student/family wants to compete that’s on them. We will coach and prepare you, but we could care less about competing or winning. What matters for us is that you get into a top professional school on a scholarship. Remember, I don’t accept kids over the age of 16. 

Toxicity in dance and the arts is really a big thing, and we do not put enough emphasis on correcting the behavior and eliminating bad apples. 

The Great Russian Ballerinas of Our Time

THE GREAT RUSSIAN BALLERINAS OF OUR TIME

In a long line of tradition, Russian Ballerinas have always been standouts in the world of ballet. These harolding names have been forever immortalized in ballet. Names like Anna Pavlova, Olga Preobrajenska,  Maya Plisetskaya and Natalia Makarova. These names have had to stand up against the male ballet superstardom of Nureyev, Baryshnikov, Diaghilev, Nijinksy, and Fokine. These names harold in ballet and unfortunately the names the general public associates ballet with. But in the past two decades, ballet has been remolded and women of ballet started to redefine the way we see ballet, especially Russian Ballet. These women each possess a different quality, and have uniquely shaped their international careers.

Ulyana Lopatkina

Graduate of the famed Vaganova Academy, Ulyana Lopatkina danced as a principal at the Mariinsky (formerly Kirov), from 1991-2017. While she joined the company in 1991, freshly out of the Academy, she was promoted to principal in 1995. Her ethereal body and long limbs have garnered her fame in the documentary Ballerinas, and her performances have been recorded, broadcast and sold across variatious medias. By 1007, two years after being a prinipcal she won the Prix Benois de la Danse. She has additionally gained numerous Russian accolades for her performances. 

Diana Vishneva

Diana Vishneva is probably known all around the world for her ferocity on stage. But when she graduated Vaganova school, she scored the highest score in the school’s history at that time. She graduated in 1995, but was already dancing in the company. By 1996, she won the Benois de La Danse and the Golden Sofit, and was promoted to principal dancer the same year. In 2003, she landed a second contract outside of the Mariinsky, with American Ballet Theatre. This international superstar has guested with over 20 companies around the world, and performed at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.  She is such an icon that she was photographed by fame photographer Patrick Demarchelier for an exhibit in Moscow.

Maria "Masha" Kochetkova

Unlike the dancers above, Kochetkova trained at the Moscow State Academy of Choreography/ Bolshoi. She then joined the Royal Ballet and English National. This tiny little dancer stands at  5’0″ and has some of the most ridiculously amazing proportions. Known for her eclectic sense of fashion this power house joined San Francisco Ballet as a principal in 2007, and then added a second contract with American Ballet Theatre in 2015. This young standout has always mixed classical ballet and contemporary qualities making her one of the most stunning dancers of our time. Unlike most Russian Ballerinas, Kochetkova has competed and won numerous awards including Varna (2002) and Lausanne (2002).  Now, Kochetkova, like many other artists is a freelance principal dancer.

Svetlana Zakharova

Queen. Seriously does she need an introduction? Svetlana is a graduate from the Vaganova Academy, but is known for skipping two grades. The only dancer male or female to do so. She joined the Mariinsky in 1996 and by 1997, at the age 18, she was promoted to principal. French choreographer Pierre Lacotte, a leading authority on classical ballet, pushed her quickly, and by 2000 she was performing as at the Paris Opera, and La Scala. In 2003 she left the famed Mariinsky to move to the dynamic Bolshoi Ballet. Technically brilliant, Svetlana is the body that classical ballet dreams of. She won the Benois in 2005, and then again in 2015. 

Natalia Osipova

If Svetlana is the body ballet dreams of, then Natalia Osipova is the bravura of female ballet. A Graduate from the Moscow State Academy of Choreography (Bolshoi Ballet Academy), Natalia Osipova joined the Bolshoi in 2005. By 2010, at the age of 23, she was promoted to principal. In 2011, she left the Bolshoi to join American Ballet Theatre, and in 2013 she left ABT to join the Royal Ballet. She is known for incredible ballon in her jump and her incredible quickness. She won the Benois in 2008 for a stunning season. The UK National Dance Awards has named her the best female dancer three times over.

Evgenia Obraztsova

Evgenia Obraztsova, is another female featured in the 2006 documentary, Ballerina. This wonderful dancer graduated Vaganova Academy in 2002 and joined the Mariinsky. This dancer is known for her sweet and charismatic interpretations of the classical roles. She was promoted to soloist in 2003. She then left to the Bolshoi and was promoted to Principal in 2012. Another ballerina tapped by Pierre Lacotte, she has garnered international fame on stages across the world. Her popularity amongst international critics have made her one of the most like-able and approachable ballerinas. Because of her acting abilities, she starred in the film Russian Dolls.

Alina Somova

In 2003, Vaganova Academy had a very tall girl year for their standards. Of those tall girls, one stood out amongst them all. Alina Somova. Standing at 5’7″ her long willowly body was born to dance. She joined the Mariinsky in 2003 at the age of 17, and was given the opportunity to dance Odette/Odile in Swan Lake. In 2004 she was promoted to soloist, and principal in 2008. She has performed across the world’s stages and has gained her fame from her lyrical qualities as a ballerina. Her flexibility and body make her a stand out, and we have watched her transformation live via social media. She was also featured in the documentary Ballerina.

Olga Smirnova

In 2011, Olga Smirnova graduated from Vaganova Academy and the whole world was watching. Already publicized as a student, Olga Smirnova was destined for greatness. Immediately after graduation she received her contract to the Bolshoi where she was in the corps for 1 day. She was promoted to soloist on her second day. By 2012 she was a leading soloist and by 2013 she won the Bensois. In 2016 she was finally promoted to principal at the age of 23. Her long neck and hypermobile body only exudes ballet because she herself exudes ballet. Her sultry quality and striking face makes her one of the most in demand ballerinas today. 

Maria Khoreva

At 18 years old, she is probably the youngest female to push herself into stardom. But, it wasn’t just talent. This Nike sponosred Instagram Ballerina, has been letting us follow her story for years. She hasn’t even been out of the Vaganova school for a year and she is already headlining as a soloist for Mariinsky. She is already being harolded as the next Diana Vishneva. Her story via instagram showed three young ballerinas rehearsing Balanchine’s Apollo before she even gradauted. Upon her graduation she had six contracts, but like most Russian Ballerinas, staying in Russia is a prioirtiy. But she is already headlining. Last month alone while the Mariinsky was on tour she danced almost every principal role.

Of these nine exceptional women, I have been lucky enough to watch six of them live. (I was not lucky enough to see Ulyana Lopatkina, I was supposed to see Alina live, but she pulled out due to announce her pregnancy, and I have yet to see Maria Khoreva, as I had to decline tickets to DC as I opened my own school. But still, out of the performances I have seen, and including youtube and instagram videos, Olga Smirnova by far is my favorite. 

A BALLET EDUCATION INTENSIVES

The Ballet Clinic

Come Train with Me!!! If you didn’t know, I bought a building in Arizona and opening my own school! The school itself can only accommodate 36 dancers. The building is great, completely remodeled with two beautiful full size studios. If you haven’t comitted to a year-round program yet, and you are looking for a place to train, feel free to apply here: CLICK HERE

The Ballet Clinic is a place for serious dancers to come in, get their work done, and get out. Our schedule for advanced dancers is Tuesday-Friday, and optional classes on Saturday. Classes on weekdays start at 5:00 PM. For those who are homeschooled and want extra classes, we offer morning class twice a week.

We are still looking to fill 2 advanced/pre-pro boy spots and 2 girl spots (preferably ages 14+ who are looking to go away to a full-time professional school next fall). In our beginning group, we still have 6 spots left. Our faculty includes: Ashley Baker (ballet), Eric Hipolito Jr (mens, boys,pas de deux), Terin Christopher (contemporary) and myself.

Fall Semester Starts September 9!

Boys Dance

Everyone on social media is in a tizzy over “Good Morning America” hostess Lara Spencer on berating the third in line to the British throne for his love of ballet. There are now all of these social media campaigns about male dancers being gay, being straight, how ballet is a positive influence, and so on.

First off, Lara Spencer’s ignorance is ridiculous. Not to mention she equates poetry, and computer programing to college. This ridiculousness is just another ploy to define gender roles, education status, and socioeconomic differences.

“Spencer’s remarks also reflect the unfortunately common attitude that dance (ballet in particular) is not something that anyone could or should take seriously, that it’s something to be grown out of. It’s not like public and governmental support of dance, and the arts in general, is in crisis, right?” – Pointe Magazine

Because of her actions it has started a great social media movement among male ballet dancers, and hearing stories from all these men, mom and boys makes us remember that there is still good in ballet.

#boysdance

There is now a petition on Change.com to help GMA correct this. Feel free to sign: https://www.change.org/p/good-morning-america-good-morning-america-should-amplify-the-benefits-of-dance-for-young-men/psf/promote_or_share

FREE DANCE WORKSHOPS THIS MONTH!

FREE DANCE ALERT!! Here some free workshops happening this month! Love that these schools are giving back to the community! And yes, I know they are using it as a tool to get more students in the door, but still- who doesn’t love a free class!

AUGUST 13, 2019: HOUSTON, TEXAS – The Houston community is invited to learn more about Vitacca School for Dance Montorse at a FREE Community Dance Open House on Tuesday, August 13th from 4:30-8 PM featuring complimentary classes for ages 5-18, director meet and greet, and giveaways for the first 50 guests. All classes are open for parent/dancer observation. Vitacca offers creative movement, ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, theater, modern and contemporary. Find the right class for your student!

The facility is located in the Montrose section of Houston at 2311 Dunlavy. Free parking on site and street parking available.  Registration is now open for the 2019/20 season or if you have questions about the Open House contact us today: 713.205.0355 or MontroseAdmin@VitaccaDance.com. Find out more at www.VitaccaDance.com.

AUGUST 24, 2019: SAN DIEGO, CA – FREE BOYS MASTER WORKSHOP!

August 11-17, 2019, New York, New York – Battery Dance Festival 2019
Battery Dance performs on the world’s stages, teaches, presents, and advocates for the field of dance. Battery Dance is dedicated to the pursuit of artistic excellence and the availability of the Arts to everyone. An integral part of the fabric of New York City for 40 years, Battery supports the creative process; educates children in the New York City schools; enriches the general public through local programs and performances, national and international tours, and international arts exchange programs. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/battery-dance-festival-2019-free-dance-workshops-tickets-64983638813

OPEN LEVEL
August 11 • Laboration Art Company | France – 10:30am-12pm
August 12 • Battery Dance | USA – 10:30am-12pm 
August 13 • Mezopotamya Dans | Turkey – 10:30am-12pm
August 14 • Emma Evelein Dance | Netherlands – 10:30am-12pm
August 15 • SEAD Bodhi Project | Austria – 10:30am-12pm 
August 16• Manipuri Dance | India – 10:30am-12pm 
August 17• B~E | Lithuania – 10:30am – 12pm
August 17• Reuel Rogers I Curacao – 1:30 – 3pm 

August 26, 2019, Los Angeles, CA – LA Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) Performing Arts Program
In conjunction with WAA’s conference theme of “Black Arts @ WAA”, the City of LA – Performing Arts Program is producing three Presenter Showcases and Networking Receptions.Black Dance in LA @ WAA – Presenter Showcase
Curated by Gayle Hooks (Dance @ The Holden and Ebony Repertory Theatre) and Pat Taylor (JazzAntiqua Dance and Music Ensemble)

Monday August 26, 8pm
(Pre Networking reception at 6:30pm at Nate Holden Cabaret Room)*
Nate Holden Performing Arts Center
4708 W Washington Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90016

For more information contact Yvonne Farrow, yvonne.farrow@lacity.org or 213-202-5551

The legacy and contributions of Black choreographers and dancers in Los Angeles is historic and significant, and it is now a hotbed of some of the most creative and urgent works being created in the US and that celebrate the African diaspora.  Curated by two esteemed voices in the LA dance community, the Black Dance in LA @ WAA showcase will showcase established and emerging choreographic voices that showcase the breadth of the LA dance scene. Free and open to LA’s dance community and WAA attendees. This event is a 15/20 minute Uber/Lyft ride from the conference hotel.

Have a free workshop to offer for the month of September? Please send press releases here.

21 Year-Round Programs

21 Programs You Don't Want To Miss Out On!

By now, summer intensives have rounded out their invitations to their year round programs. Now, dozens of hopeful ballet dancers are joining the most elite schools around the world. For those who weren’t asked to stay for the year, the stress sets in about what to do next season. You start to wonder, “Are you are ready to year round, if you are good enough, or if you were prepared?” Yup, all these questions are rambling through our heads causing stress. Parents are thinking or starting to doubt choices from last year, and now the new season is upon us. It also doesn’t help YAGP registration just opened and it seems that half of the venues filled up in three days. Yes, the stress of ballet sets in again. What we thought was a summer break now seems to have disappeared and year-round contracts are due again, Nutcracker auditions are around the corner, and you still don’t have a clear plan. Don’t fret. If you are looking to join a school, here are 20 places to train at this year. Each school offers exceptional training, guidance, and is structured towards a professional career in ballet. These schools are NOT affiliated to a company, but offer amazing training.

(These are listed in no particular order, with the exception of the first)

The Ballet Clinic, Phoenix, AZ

If you are looking for a place to train at in Arizona, I still have spots open at the clinic. I am looking for students ages 8-11, and 11-13, and 14+. Each group is focused and designed around a specific look, body type, and career path. At Clinic we arrange everything for you, from competition, auditions, audition photos, videos, etc. Additionally, we are focused on finding dancers jobs, and preparing them to go into pre-professional schools. We focus each class in Balanchine, Russian, English and French technique. Each week has a different focus, and the fourth week of each month emphasizes contemporary with a guest residency. There are very few spots left in each grouping, but if you are interested in training with me, you can apply here:

Golden State Ballet and Pilates, San Diego, CA
GSBP might be young, but the directors are no strangers to the dance world. Once a Miami City Ballet Ballerina and Boston Ballet dancer, they hosted their first summer intensive bringing in Jaime Diaz (SFB) and Andre Silva (TBT). Their program is a full range from creative movement to professional (ages 3-20). Their pre-professional program includes pilates apparatus, rigorous pointe work, pas de deux and performing. The style is a healthy blend of Balanchine musicality and precision with a strong classical Cuban/Russian base. http://gsballetpilates.com

Burbank Dance Academy, Burbank, CA
Headed by Jason Coosner, Burbank Dance Academy is a rising force in the LA Dance scene. This selective program includes everything from jazz and contemporary to pre-professional ballet. The program is designed around versatility and possibilities. The rigor of this program includes multiple hours. Jason just won outstanding choreographer at YAGP Los Angeles. Check out his program at www.burbankdanceacademy.com

Elite Classical Coaching, Frisco, TX
Texas is big, and while company schools dominate Texas, Elite Classical Coaching under Catherine Lewellen is a force to be reckoned with. Elite Classical Coaching’s program is extremely elite, as she hand selects students to be grouped together. This program is rigorous and effective, and has produced a stunning set of dancers including YAGP Finals medalist Ava Arbuckle.
https://eliteclassicalcoaching.com/

Maryland Youth Ballet, Silversprings, MD
Under a new director, Maryland Youth Ballet has ramped up even more under Olivier Munoz, formerly at Orlando Ballet School. The school focuses on clean and technique and performs several times a year.
http://marylandyouthballet.org

Ellison Ballet, New York, NY
This coveted award winning school just held their year round audition but is still accepting video auditions until August 1. This elite program requires applicants to be ages 12-19 to join this coveted Russian-based school.
https://www.ellisonballet.com

International City School of Ballet, Atlanta, GA
Another award winning school with amazing training. and over 10 years of winning and working dancers, headed by Georné Aucoin and Musashi Alvarez. This award winning duo has been turning out strong consistent dancers in a program that is individualized an intense. The one on one training is some of the best out there. Their dancers are easily recognizable by their strong technique, finessed legs, and musical nuances.
https://www.icsballet.org 

The Rock School, Philadelphia, PA
This school has stood the test of time. Each generation brings a new look, a new style and a new passion under Bo and Stephanie Spassoff. This institution has been a long part, if not the original competitive ballet school. With their ferocious training, and wonderful studios, the Rock School for Dance Education still is a thriving and contributing school in the ballet landscape.
https://www.therockschool.org/

Sultanov Russian Ballet Academy, Beaverton, OR
This power house of a school has made their way onto the scene through persistence and clean technique. Headed by Artur Sultanov, a Vaganova Ballet Academy graduate and Eifman Soloist, this director has curated one of the strongest schools on the west coast.
http://www.russianballetacademy.net/faculty/

The Sarasota Cuban Ballet School, Sarasota, FL
This Cuban Ballet school made big splashes this year with Harold Mendez. But they have been known for strong cuban training, especially for boys. Headed by award winning Ariel Serrano and Wilmian Hernandez, this school is a fully enriched program for Cuban technique.
http://srqcubanballet.com

Cary Ballet Conservatory, Cary, North Carolina
Cary Ballet is headed by Suzanne Laliberté Thomas and was founded over 18 years ago. But, Cary Conservatory’s real powerhouse is Mariaelena Ruiz, 2019’s YAGP outstanding Teacher. The former Rock coach has coached some of the most talented winner of the YAGP and many other competitions. She herself is a Varna winner, USA IBC Jackson winner, and Prix Volinine. Their professional division includes numerous classes, cross training and more.
https://www.caryballet.com/professional-training-program.html

Master Ballet Academy, Scottsdale, AZ
This power house school has made it’s name on beautiful bodies and the ability to turn. Headed by Slawomir and Irena Wozniak, Master Ballet Academy recruits students from ages 11+ to train in Russian technique. With numerous winners of the YAGP, Master Ballet Academy continues to dominate on social media.
http://masterballetacademy.com

Indiana Ballet Conservatory, Indianapolis, IN

http://indianaballetconservatory.org

International Ballet School, Littleton, CO
http://internationalballetschool.net

A & A Ballet, Chicago, IL
https://www.aacenterfordance.org

V & T Classical Ballet, OC, CA
Headed by Victor and Tatiana Kasatsky, V and T is a force to be reckoned with. A long time staple in the Southern California dance scene, V and T has produced winners to the YAGP, Prix de Lausanne, and Varna. Coined as Orange County’s Premier Ballet program V and T is a classical force of nature.
http://vandtdance.com

Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Carlisle, PA
The legendary CPYB is always a great place to train, especially if you are on that Balanchine route.
www.cpyb.org

Feijoo Ballet School, Dickinson, TX
Another Cuban school has popped up, but this one is in Texas headed by the renowned sister ballerinas Lorna and Lorena Feijoo. This ballet school is curating something new in Texas. While Texas has been dominated by Russian/Classical Training or Balanchine technique this new school is offering a new take and appealing to the latin communities in Texas.
https://www.feijooballetschool.com/school

Ballet Academy East, NYC, NY
http://balletacademyeast.com

Kirov Academy DC, Washington DC
https://kirovacademydc.org

The Rock Center for Dance, Las Vegas, NV
Power houses in contemporary and standout at the dance awards, and World of Dance, this new school is dominating the contemporary and commercial scene. What people often forget is that their ballet program is also nice and quite rigorous.
https://www.therockcenterfordance.com

Perfect Ballet Summer Salad

Summer is here, and sometimes I get tired of eating the same old salad. With ballet being so weight conscious we get consumed with the idea of calorie counting, or monitoring our diets. Recently, I was playing around in the kitchen and this is what I have come up with. Since then I have been eating it probably like twice a week. Hope you enjoy.

English Cucumber or Persian Cucumber, halved, seeded, sliced, and salted to take the water out. This allows for the vinegar to be absorbed… 8 calories
¼ Cup Sliced Red Onion… 16 calories (I soak mine in ice water for a bit to take out the intensity of flavor)
1 Tablespoon of freshly chopped mint (i pull it apart and don’t use a knife on herbs) … 1 calorie
2 tablespoons of White Wine Vinegar (a good quality white wine vinegar) … 5 calories
1 Tablespoon of Lemon Juice (go fresh, or not) … 2 calories
make it Greek: add a table of olive oil, cherry tomatoes, and feta cheese
make it Asian: add blanched bean sprouts, cabbage, garlic, use rice wine vinegar
make it Latin: use cilantro instead of mint, tajin instead of salt, and mango
make it Meatier: serve on grilled salmon

Excuse the knife work skills (My sister gets annoyed I don’t slice everything exactly the same.) Also, the longer it stays in the vinegar the more pickled the cucumbers become, so if you aren’t a fan of that pickled flavor, don’t add the vinegar till right before you eat it.

Marcelino Sambé is now a Principal!

Remember when Marcelino Sambé came onto the ballet competition scene? His big charasmatic smile, his hyper-flexibility, and his amazing technique made him stand out among all of his competitors. Born in Lisbon, he joined the Royal Ballet Upper School after his ferocious performance at Prix De Lausanne in 2010. After completing his years at the coveted Upper School, he joined the company in 2012. He was promoted to First Artist in 2014, Soloist in 2015 and First Soloist in 2017. Congratulations to this shining superstar.

Here is an ever younger Sambé at Yagp: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=10155537635793407

Last year, Dance Magazine named him 25 to Watch. But the ballet world has been watching him since he was 15. But his talent isn’t just limited to ballet. He has now started dabbling in photography.

Follow his Instagram account to @marcisambe

Train with A Ballet Education this Summer

Did you miss out on summer intensive auditions? Were you injured? Were you just not ready? Don’t worry, and don’t miss out. You can train with me at any of these three intensives! Get your scoopy legs and bangin’ technique this summer!

June 17-29, 2019
Golden State Ballet & Pilates, San Diego, CA
Register here: https://www.gsballetpilates.com/summer-workshops

July 29-August 2, 2019
Burbank Dance Academy, Burbank, CA
Register here: https://www.burbankdanceacademy.com/summer

August 5-17, 2019
Golden State Ballet & Pilates, San Diego, CA
Register here: https://www.gsballetpilates.com/summer-workshops

Issue 16

A BALLET EDUCATION
ISSUE 16

ISSUE 16

Issue 16 features A Ballet Education’s The Ballet Clinic. It celebrates the young dancers who inspired us to open this training facility. On the cover: Cassie Van Wolde, Harrison Pickering, Lauryn Brown, Bel Pickering, Annabelle Gourley, Nikolas Alexander, Jordan Gourley, and Leonidas Adarmes.

Read It On Joo Mag

IN THIS ISSUE

David King

Founder & Editor-in-Chief

Ashley Baker

Cover
photographer

What You Missed This Weekend

If you were staying off social media this weekend to avoid Game of Thrones spoilers, you might have missed some awesome ballet news. This weekend a seemed to be the weekend that ballet became even more awesome. ABT’s principal dancer, and longtime music fanatic James Whiteside (JBDUBS) released a new video that is all inclusive and gender neutral.

Septime Webre is on a streak this month. From his Benois nominations, to his newest video campaign for Hong Kong Ballet’s 40th Season.

Hong Kong Ballet 40th Anniversary Season Brand Video from Design Army on Vimeo.

NYCB soloist Unity Phelan made it onto the big screen in Keanu Reeves’ new movie: John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum. She dances choreo by Tiler Peck, putting another A-List project on her CV.

And to top it off… Mikhail Baryshnikov gave the keynote speech for the inaugural class of the USC Glorya Kaufman School of dance. Four years later, USC has produced a graduating class that rivals any tier one contemporary school.

Benois de la Danse Awards (2019)

Benois de la Danse Awards (2019)

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It is that time of year again, where the best of the best in the ballet industry gather to celebrate the 2018-2019 season and honor those who made an impact on audiences, critics and the jury.

On May 21, the best of the best will be honored in a showstopping performance in Russia. This night is the prestigious Benois de la Danse Awards. The jury who will decide the results include: Juri Grigorovich, Dirk Badenhorst, Ted Brandsen, Svetlana Zakharova, Ana Laguna, Angès Letestu, Vladimir Malakhov, and Rachel Moore. This year could be a big year for Septime Webre and Kansas City Ballet, as the production of The Wizard of Oz has been nominated numerous times.

(photo courtesy of Kansas City Ballet’s press release of their new Production)

The Lifetime Achievement Award will honor Jiri Kylian. The Russian-Italian Prize Benois-Massine Award will go to Anna Laudere.

Nominees for the best choreographer are:

Juanjo Arques, for Ignite, Kate Whitley. Birmingham Royal Ballet.
Septime Webre, for The Wizard of Oz, Matthew Pierce, Kansas City Ballet.
Manuel Legris, for Sylvia, Leo Delibers, for Vienna State Ballet.
Justin Peck for Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, music by M83 for the San Francisco Ballet.
Fredrik Benke Rydman for Duet with an Industrial Robot, muisic by Johan Lilje Dal, Karl Johan Rasmusson, for Stockholm City Theatre.
Christian Spuck, for Winterreise, music by Hans Zender and Franz Schubert for the Zurich Ballet.

Best Female Dance Performance Nominees Include:

Amandine Albisson, as Marguerite Gautier in La Dame Aux Camelias, music by Chopin and Choreography by Neumeier for the Paris Opera Ballet.
Ashley Bouder, as Swanhilda, in Coppelia, music by Delibes, Choreography by George Balanchine for the New York City Ballet.
Elisa Carrillo Cabrera, as Juliet, in Romeo and Juliet, music by Prokofiev, and choreography by Duato for the State Ballet of Berlin.
Maia Makhateli, for Marguerite Gautier, in La Dame aux Camelias, music by Chopin, Choreographed by Neumeier, for the Dutch National Ballet.
Yuan Yuan Tan, for duet Take a Deep Breath, Bound to, music by Henson, choreographed by Wheeldon for the San Francisco Ballet.
Kaho Yanagisawa, Solo Part in Artifact Suite, music by Crossman-Hecht and Bach, choreographed by Forsythe at the Royal Swedish Ballet.

Best Male Dance Performance Nominees are:

Audric Bezard, as Armand Duval in La Dame Aux Camelias, music by Chopin, choreography by Neumeier for the Paris Opera Ballet.
Daniel Camargo is nominated for both his performace as Armand Duval in Lady of the Camelias and as Basilio in Don Quixotte, music by Minkus, Choreography by A Ratmansky afer Petipa at the Dutch National Ballet.
Viacheslav Lopatin, in the Faun, music by Debussy, and Sawhney, choreography by Cherkaoui for Bolshoi Ballet.
Vadim Muntagirov for Prince Siegfried in the Swan Lake. Music by Tchaikovsky, choreography by Liam Scarlett for the Royal Ballet.
Andile Ndlovu for his role as Mercrutio in Romeo and Juliet at the Washington Ballet. Music by Prokofiev, choreography by John Cranko.
Abel Rojo for Carying with My Own Floor, music by E Satie. Choreography by A. Rojo for the Malpaso Company.
Daniil Simkin for his role as the Harlequin, in ABT’s new version of Harlequinade. Music by Drigo, choreography by Ratmansky after Petipa.

Composers Nominated for this year’s award are:
Matthew Pierce for the Wizard of Oz, choreography by Septime Weber (also nominated).
Kate Whitley for Ignite. Choreography by Juanjo Aques (also nominated) for the Birmingham Royal Ballet.

Designers Nominated for Costumes are:

Jerome Kaplan for Staats Berlin’s La Bayadere.
John Macfarlane for Royal Ballet’s Swan Lake.
Robert Perdziola for ABT’s Harlequinade.
Michael Raiford and Liz Vandal for the Wizard of Oz.

Below is the star studded performance schedule.

21 MAY 2019. P R O G R A M M E

PART I

M. Pierce – Benois-2019 nominee
Excerpt from THE WIZARD OF OZ
Choreography by S.WEBRE – Benois-2019 nominee
soloists of theKansas City Ballet
LILIANA HAGERMAN
JEREMY HANSON
LAMIN DOS SANTOS
soloist of Colorado Ballet
CHRISTOPHOR MOULTON
soloist of Royal Winnipeg Ballet
STEPHAN AZULAY
Russian premiere

K.Whitley – Benois-2019 nominee.
Excerpt from IGNITE
Choreography by J.ARQUÉS–Benois-2019 nominee
soloists of Dutch National Ballet
ANNA TSYGANKOVA
YOUNG GUY CHOI
Piano – KATE WHITLEY
Russian premiere

THE MASSAGE
to the music by P.Tchaikovsky
Choreography by F.BENKE RYDMAN –Benois 2019 nominee
soloists of House of Shapes
ELLEN LINDBLAD
DANIEL KOIVUNEN
World premiere

Excerpt from WINTERREISE
to the music by F.Schubert/H.Zender
Choreography by CH.SPUCK – Benois-2019 nominee
soloists of the Zurich Ballet
ELENA VOSTROTINA
COHEN AITCHISON-DUGAS
DOMINIK SLAVKOVSKY
Moscow premiere

L.Delibes. Excerpts from SYLVIA
Choreography by M.LEGRIS – laureate of Benois de la Danse, nominee of 2019, after LUIS MÉRANTE
soloists of the Vienna State Ballet
NIKISHA FOGO
DENIS CHEREVICHKO – nominee of Benois de la Danse

CARRING MY OWN STAGE
To the music by E.Satie
Choreography by A. ROJO
soloist of Malpaso Company
ABEL ROJO – Benois-2019 nominee
Piano – VALERIA KACHUROVSKAYA
Russian premiere

Duet from the second act of LADY WITH THE CAMELLIAS
To the music by F.Chopin
Choreography by J.NEUMEIER– Benois de la Danse laureate
soloists of Dutch National Ballet 
MAIA MAKHATELI– Benois-2019 nominee
JAMES STOUT

L.Delibes. Pas de deux from COPPÉLIA 
Choreography by G.BALANCHINE and A.DANILOVA after M.PETIPA
©The George Balanchine Trust
soloist of the New York City Ballet
ASHLEY BOUDER
soloist of the Passific North-West Ballet
SETH ORZA 

PART II

S.Prokofiev.Duet from ROMEO AND JULIET
Choreography by N. DUATO – laureate of Benois de la Danse, 
soloist of State Ballet Berlin
ELISA CARRILLO CABRERA -Benois – 2019 nominee
soloist of Mikhailovsky Theatre Ballet
IVAN ZAYTSEV

Excerpt from ARTIFACT-SUITE
To the music by I.S.Bach
Choreography, costumes and light concept by W. FORSYTHE– laureate of Benois de la Danse, 
soloists of the Royal Swedish Ballet
KAHO YANAGISAWA – Benois-2019 nominee
JONATAN DAVIDSSON

I.Demutsky– laureate of Benois de la Danse
THE LETTRE from NUREYEV
Choreography by Y.POSSOKHOV – laureate of Benois de la Danse
soloist of the Bolshoi Theatre of Russia
VIATCHESLAV LOPATIN – Benois-2019 nominee

H. Løvenskiold. Pas de deuxfrom LA SYLPHIDE
Choreography by A.BOURNONVILLE
soloists of The Washington Ballet
MAKI ONUKI
ANDILE NDLOVU – Benois-2019 nominee

Duet from the third act of LADY WITH THE CAMELLIAS
To the music by F.Chopin
Choreography by J.NEUMEIER – laureate of Benois de la Danse
soloists of the Paris Opera Ballet
AMANDINE ALBISSON – Benois-2019 nominee 
AUDRIC BEZARD – Benois-2019 nominee

THE OTHER YOU
To the music by L.van Beethoven 
Choreography by C.PITE – laureate of Benois de ls Danse
soloists of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago
MICHAEL GROSS
ANDREW MURDOCK
Russian premiere

ADAGIETTO, 4TH MOVEMENT from FIFTH SYMPHONYOF GUSTAV MAHLER
Choreography, costumes, light concept by J.NEUMEIER – laureate of Benois de la Danse
soloists of the Hamburg Ballet
ANNA LAUDERE– laureate of Benois–Massine Prize
EDVIN REVAZOV

K.Henson. TAKE A DEEP BREATH
Choreography by CH.WHEELDON
soloists of San Francisco Ballet
YUAN YUAN TAN – Benois-2019 nominee
CARLO DI LANNO 
Moscow premiere

L.Minkus. Pas de deux from DON QUIXOTE
Choreography by A.GORSKY
soloist of the Stuttgart State Ball
ELISA BADENES
DANIEL CAMARGO – Benois -2019 nominee

Masters of the ceremony
KSENIA RAPPOPORT
ANDREY ANDREEV

Direction of the concert
ANDREY MELANYIN

Author of the text
ALEXANDER KOLESNIKOV

Stage-designer
SERGEY TIMONIN 

Light Designer
SERGEY SHEVCHENKO
Light designer assistant – ALEXANDER ROMANOV

Sound
ANDREY VOLKOV

Stage operator
ROMAN SMIRNOV

Stage managers
ANDREY MELANIN, VLADIMIR SCHERBAKOV, IRINA ZIBROVA, MIKHAIL MINEEV

Director of the technical staff 
IGOR SUVOROV

Chairman of the BENOIS DE LA DANSE Program
YURI GRIGOROVICH

President of the Board 
REGINA NIKIFOROVA

Artistic Director
NINA KUDRIAVTSEVA-LOORY

Official photographer 
MIKHAIL LOGVINOV

Video-projections
SERGEY BORISOV

Project coordinator
OLGA GORCHAKOVA

Financial service OOO Auditor Firm “KEMENOV”
ALEXEY NIKITIN

Administrator
VALENTINA DMITRENKO

Press Office
OLGA KULIKOVA

Internet-projects’ manager
NATALIA PUTICHEVA

Group of interpreters’ coordinator
MARIA PODGORNOVA

Printing Products
PUBLISHING HOUSE TEATRALIS

Executive Producer
TATIANA SIDOROVA

David King

David King

The author of a Ballet Education www.DavidJWKing.com

Leave a Replay

The Great Men of Ballet: Part 1

Some men in ballet will be immortalized for their achievements and the genius that they created. In this first set of illustrations, I decided to capture some of the great men who have contributed to the New York City Ballet. As I illustrated these, I listened to the music that inspired them, and thought, Peter Martins should have been the third in this series, but I am just not fond of him, what he has done in his personal life and not a fan of his choreography. So, I focused on the men of New York City Ballet who I do admire: George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins and Justin Peck.

George Balanchine
1904-1983
Co-Founder of the School of American Ballet and New York City Ballet

Jerome “Jerry” Robbins
1918-1998
American Dance Master

Justin Peck
1987- 
American Dance Master
Resident Choreographer

Prints Available on Redbubble. You can order the prints, posters, metallic prints, or fine art frames. You can click here to purchase

For the George Balanchine prints and more >> Click Here.
For the Jerome Robbins prints and more >> Click Here.
For the Justin Peck prints and more >> Click Here.

25 Asian American & Pacfic Islander Dancers To Follow

25 ASIAN AMERICAN & PACIFIC ISLANDER
DANCERS TO FOLLOW

It's May! This month is Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month. So, lets take some time and hit up the Insta and follow these 25 Talented Dancers reshaping the conversation about Asian Dancers in Ballet.

So, here is the problem. I was going to make this great post about 25 Asian American and Pacific Islander Dancers to follow… The problem? When it comes to Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Ballet… there aren’t very many. While we have many amazing Asian ballet dancers from their respective countries, I realized that there aren’t very many Asian American Ballet Dancers who have risen through the ranks. This once again serves the purpose of talking about the representation of Asian Dancers in Ballet.

By definition, an Asian American is an individual who is American of Asian descent.

There is a lot to be said about Asian, Asian American, Pacific Islanders in Ballet. There are both the positive and negative arguments regarding being of Asian descent in pop culture, in medicine and in the arts. Last year, New York City Ballet’s Georgina Pazcoguin (soloist at NYCB,  Broadway Artist,  TV star, and activist) and Phil Chan really started the change by advocating the end of Yellowface in ballet productions, specifically, the Nutcracker. While this has started arguments on both sides of ballet, many directors have stepped up and pledged to end yellowface. You can read more about their new initiative here. A former grad school professor from the University of Minnesota recently was quoted for the organization and I thought to myself, “Why I haven’t I signed?” I thought, ” I am already a huge advocate of Asians in the Arts, so that is good enough. I don’t think we should have special treatment for being Asian. I definitely believe that talent matters and that this whole affirmative action in ballet is diluting the talent pool.” I then thought, “But, I don’t want ballets that portray Asian stories to go away. I don’t mind watching the Ballet version of Madame Butterfly danced by a white woman. Is it that offensive that she drew her eyeliner on heavy and powdered her face?”

My personal experience with being Asian in Ballet mirrors the story of most Asians in ballet: The Nutcracker. My first soloist role was Chinese in the Nutcracker, no surprise. I was young, but I thought, who cares? I am dancing alongside Darci Kistler. I was excited. I was then put in Chinese in every production of Nutcracker I have ever done, with the exception of CPYB, where I asked not to be cast. My time in ballet as an Asian man was jaded. I remember my time at CPYB where I was called oriental and living in Carlisle and not seeing anyone like me. It bothered me so much that I enrolled at 16 at Dickinson College just to be around diversity. There I started to question my racial identity. As someone who grew up in Southern California, and specifically the Inland Emprie, race was never a pressing issue. My neighbors to the right were a biracial family (Black and Japanese) and my neighbors on the left were Latino. The schools I grew up in were filled with every ethnicity, religion and socioeconomic status. I went to summer programs in major cities so I never really had this experience before. After I ended my career at Minnesota Dance Theatre, where I was the only Asian, and one of two people of color I decided to go get MFA. It has always been a struggle being a Korean Adoptee. Even though I am Asian, I didn’t grow up in Asian Culture. I grew up with white parents, have a white name, but white pirvelage and white racial identity doesn’t apply to me. I wanted answers so I thought I would focus on cultural studies in the arts. It started off as a great experience, but when I had to take dance classes I was bored and irritated at the lack of talent. It wasn’t helpful when the University of Minnesota’s Dance Department went through an intense racial divide. My issue then became  that those who were complaining about casting were blaming it on race and not realizing that it was about talent.

Anyways, my mind is wondering.

I then had to stop myself and remember that regardless of my own personal thoughts, I am coaching an entire generation of Asian American Ballet Dancers. No really… I am. 60% of the kids that I coach are Asian American. And what kind of mentor am I if I am just chillin behind my blog. So, I signed it. As we are faced with changes in ballet, we look to the brilliant artists who are leading the way. Click the Photo to follow the dancer and celebrate their stories and achievements as Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in ballet.

Georgina Pazcoguin, NYCB

New York City Ballet’s first Asian American, let alone Filipina American woman, ever to be promoted to an upper tier. The only other Asians who have been promoted at New York City Ballet was the 19080  Prix De Lausanne Winner Gen Horiuchi from Japan. He also danced Tea in the 1993 mainstream movie of the Nutcracker. The other was Edwaard Liang who was promoted to soloist in 1998. Georgina Pazcoguin has also been on Broadway in On The Town and Cats where she played Victoria the White Cat. She is also now on FX’s Fosse/Verdon.

Lia Cirio, Boston Ballet

Boston Ballet is known for their Asian dancers, but when it comes to Asian American ones, Lia Cirio Cirio is queen. Technically ferocious, Lia Cirio and her brother started the Cirio Collective in 2015. They are celebrating their fifth season. Additionally Lia is now choreographing throughout the US, making her one of the only Asian American Female Choreographers out there.

Candy Tong, Complexions

Candy Tong (ballerina and model) was born in San Francisco, California and graduated from the school at English National Ballet. After dancing professionally in Europe she went back to school to get her BFA from UC Irvine. She is one of Instagram’s trending dancers and currently dances for Complexions Contemporary Ballet.

Stella Abrera, American Ballet Theatre

ABT’s Stella Abrera is from Pasadena, California and is of Filipino descent. Abrera joined American Ballet Theatre as a member of the corps de ballet in 1996 and was appointed a Soloist in 2001. Abrera was appointed a Principal Dancer in August 2015.

Jeffrey Cirio, English National Ballet

Jeffrey Cirio is one bad ass ballet boy. He became a principal at Boston Ballet, then a principal at ABT, and now is at English National. He is only man of Asian descent to become a principal at American Ballet Theatre.

William Lin Yee, Pacific Northwest Ballet

William Lin Yee of PNB is from San Francisco, California. He trained at the Contra Costa Ballet Centre, San Francisco Ballet School, and the School of American Ballet. In 2004, he joined New York City Ballet as an apprentice and also was a Mae. L. Wien Award recipient. Mr. Lin-Yee joined Pacific Northwest Ballet as a member of the corps de ballet in 2008 and was promoted to soloist in 2014 and principal in 2016.

Noelani Pantastico, PNB

Noelani Pantastico is from Oahu, Hawaii. She trained at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet and attended summer courses at Pacific Northwest Ballet School from 1994 to 1996. She joined Pacific Northwest Ballet as an apprentice in 1997. She was promoted to corps de ballet in 1998, soloist in 2001, and principal in 2004. In 2008, she left PNB to join Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo as a soloist and was promoted to first soloist in 2009. In 2015, Ms. Pantastico returned to PNB as a principal dancer.

John Lam, Boston Ballet

John Lam is from Marin County, CA. He joined the Boston Ballet 2003 and was promoted to Principal in 2014.

Jim Nowakowski, Ballet Met

Noted for his time on So You Think You Can Dance, Jim is now at Ballet Met after previously being with Houston Ballet. Ballet Met has an Asian American Director, Edwaard Liang.

Jeraldine Mendoza, Joffrey Ballet

Ms. Mendoza was born in San Francisco, California and trained at the City Ballet School of San Francisco since the age of five, mainly under the artistic direction of Galina Alexandrova. At age 17, Ms. Mendoza was invited to train in the Russian course at the prestigious Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow, and she graduated with honors. She later won first place at the YAGP San Francisco Regional Semi-Finals in 2011.

Shimon Ito, Miami City Ballet

Shimon Ito is from New York City. Ito joined Miami City Ballet in 2011 as a corps de ballet member and was promoted to soloist in 2016.

Lily Saito, Nashville Ballet

Lily Saito, NYC, began her training at School of American Ballet where she had the privilege of performing at Lincoln Center for three years as a child in George Balanchine’s Nutcracker. She then trained at Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School and Ellison Ballet before joining Washington Ballet as a full scholarship trainee.

Chisako Oga

Chisako Oga became an Apprentice at SFB in 2015, and then joined Cincinnati Ballet. Oga was promoted to Soloist in September 2016 and Principal for the 2017-2018 Season. Chisako Oga trained at San Francisco Ballet School on a full scholarship received at Prix de Lausanne International Ballet Competition.She is from Carlsbad, CA. This season was her last season at Cincinnati Ballet

Margaret Severin-Hansen, Carolina Ballet

A founding member of Carolina Ballet in 1998, she was promoted to principal in 2002. Hansen is from Long Island.

Mimi Tompkins, Ballet Arizona

ABE Education Cover Girl Mimi Tompkins has ferociously taken on almost every leading role in the Ballet Arizona Repertory. Mimi was born in Washington D.C and joined the company in 2014.

Regina Montgomery, Tulsa Ballet

From Los Angeles, Regina began studying ballet under former Mariinsky Principal, Marat Daukayev. She attended the Rock School for Dance in Philadelphia and received 1st Place at the Youth America Grand Prix. Regina joined TBII in 2013, the main company in 2014, and was promoted to Demi-Soloist in 2018.

Jessica He, Atlanta Ballet

From Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. She received her early ballet training at Inland Pacific Ballet Academy. Jessica moved to Philadelphia in 2012, at age 14, to enter the pre-professional training program at The Rock School for Dance Education on full scholarship. While there, she received multiple awards and merit scholarships at competitions such as the Youth America Grand Prix and World Ballet Competition. She joined Atlanta Ballet in the 2017-2018 Season.

Angelica Generosa, PNB

Angelica Generosa is from South River, New Jersey. She studied on scholarship at the School of American Ballet. Ms. Generosa joined Pacific Northwest Ballet as an apprentice. She was promoted to corps de ballet in 2012 and soloist in 2016. She also was the recipient of the School of American Ballet Mae Wien Award for Outstanding Promise.

Courtney Schenberger, Carolina Ballet

Courtney Schenberger is from Hawaii. She competed at Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) San Francisco and won 3rd  place bronze in the Junior Women Classical category. She also competed at the World Ballet Competition where she achieved the 3rd highest score in the Pre-Professional category as well as receiving the Jury’s Award. She joined Carolina Ballet in 2015, and was promoted in 2017.

Steven Morse, San Francisco Ballet

Steven Morse was born in Harbor City, California. He joined SFB in 2009 and was promoted to soloist in 2017.

UP & COMING ASIAN AMERICAN DANCERS

It is a pleasure and honor to say I coach some of the best dancers in the us. it is a bigger honor to say that the majority of dancers that i do coach are asian american. so here are some of the amazing asian american ballet students i get to train and have worked with throughout the years.

Tegan Chou

Petra Johnson

Devin Mar

Chloe Han

Marcus Ian Taylor

Amandine Isidro

Leonidas Adarmes

Margaret Mothersbaugh

Esmé Chou

The Sleeping Beauty Fairy Variations

The Sleeping Beauty Fairy Variations

Have you ever noticed that the first variations you usually learn are all from 1890 Petipa classic: The Sleeping Beauty? You might think they are lame or boring, but these six variations are the key to classical ballet. Sleeping Beauty is by definition the epitome and pinnacle of Classical Ballet. The ballet itself has no affectations and minimal stylistic points from the Romantic Ballet Era. These six variations showcase everything Classical Ballet represents: constraint, placement, beauty, proportion, turnout, legs, feet, musicality and artistry that evokes the essence of ballet.

As promised, I am going to help you find the right variation for you, but first…

Before you even start thinking about picking a variation to work on you should ask yourself, “Have I mastered these variations?” If the answer is no, don’t worry. These variations are going to get your technique stronger, your footwork cleaner, they allow you to find your musicality and phrasing, and have a better understanding of Classical Ballet. For the History of these variations, check out the digital: A Ballet Education’s Guide To Variations.

The first variation is all about the presentation of the foot and the control of turnout. Honestly, this shouldn’t be called candide or the Fairy of the Crystal Fountain. It should be called present your heel from your inner thigh. What is nice about this variation is that it teaches pique arabesque and attitude with both a pas de cheval and a brush, and it also teaches fouetté en dedans from arabesque to effacé and plié relevé arabesque.

Heloise Bourdon of the Paris Opera Ballet in Rudolph Nureyev’s Production of the Sleeping Beauty.

NOTES ON FAIRY VARIATION 1

In the first diagonal moving downstage right, make sure you keep all of your croisé lines crossed and turned out. Sometimes we are so focused on the height of the leg, that the actual body line and position become a little sloppy. Keep the heel presented at all times. e.Remember: In croisé devant, you want to see that heel coming over the top of the line. Keep the port de bras moving and relaxed, let the arms float with the music, but make sure the end in a position on the count. Showing a clean line on the count is essential. End the pass with a juicy plié that resists the floor. Don’t just plop down.

In the second pass of the variation moving across the stage, make sure you get the heel as far forward as possible when presenting the foot from the inner thigh. Make sure to keep the thighs tightly crossed in bourrés with BOTH heels forward. Hold that rotation!

In the next phrase of variation, the focus is going en dedans but maintaining the turnout. As each staging is different, I am just going to reference the video above. Notice that from arabesque the heel has to come forward as the knee stays behind, the inner thigh rotates forward through passé into the next step. The port de bras are lovely, but the hand should not be stroking or brushing the arm. It should be extremely delicate with beautifully shaped fingers like you are petting a baby, or wearing expensive jewelry.

In the final pass of the variation, death comes at you with full force. Moving from effacé to effacé while rolling up and down on pointe and as the leg/hip rotation fouettés en dedans… girl bye. The hardest part about that step isn’t even the pointe work, well the pointe work is extremely hard but can be made easier by making sure the entire weight of the upper body is in front of the hips and leg so that the fouetté can come easily, and the femur head can relax into the hip socket. Note how forward the inner thigh has to wrap, and then wrap back even more as you tombé.

Finally, when ending, make sure the heels are completely forward showing the understanding of the footwork, understanding of the turnout, and understanding of the delicate musicality.

If the first variation taught us the quality of delicate, the second variation, the Carelessness Fairy, or the Fairy of Flowing Wheat. teaches us how to move with precision and vigor. It teach us us pique passé, a very large and powerful jeté, attitude front, how to move backwards and forwards, and the start of turns.

Yulia Kasenkova in Sergei Vikharev’s production of the Sleeping Beauty for Mariinsky.

NOTES ON FAIRY VARIATION 2

Sometimes this variation has two women dancing (Paris Opera), but most of the time it is done as a solo variation. I think one of the hardest things in this variation is to maintain the turnout and rib placement while move this fast. I think because of the transitions and because of the bending of the upper body, most young dancers have a tendency to splay the ribs to get a better attitude devant line.

The opening jeté, the heels must stay forward. The supporting leg, or the leg that pushes off, has to be fully turned out. Make sure as you brush the working leg, the leg is slightly in front of your hips. Finally, you have to hold the second position in the air for a brief second. Travel big!

In the next pass of the variation make sure you accent the rond de jambe en l’air out, and keep the supporting leg as straight and scooped as possible. Next are the chassés back. Make sure the foot is still slightly shaped to be aesthetically more pleasing. Keep the weight forward and on more on the front foot so that the back foot can shape better.

In the final pass, you have to quickly do step-overs, or lame ducks. Luckily they are only half turns! The hard part is getting the turnout on both legs to fire quickly simultaneously. Remember, to keep pressing the turnout from the hips as your turn and step. Make sure each step the heel is beautifully presented.

Oh, the Fairy of Scattered Breadcrumbs or the Fairy of the Woodland Glades.. the list goes on and on for this one. This is a good one. This variation teaches us how to pas de couru and travel, how to softly move through the steps, how to developpé arabesque and how to be generous with our artistry.

Royal Ballet’s Fumi Kaneko

NOTES ON FAIRY VARIATION 3

Like walking delicately on glass through attitude devant, the first pass in this variation gives us a since of strength in the legs. Doing a plié en pointe without rolling or sickling is crucial. The musicality is so precise, and the legwork reflects the music while the port de bras reflects the calm smooth melody. Turnout! Turnout! Turnout! Don’t sit in your hips as you plié. Don’t be afraid to bend a little further than you actually think you should.

The next pass involves hopping backwards onto pointe. Again, the legs are very reflective of the individual notes while the arms really are generous and light.

This sets us up for the next section or pass involving two hops on pointe in attitude front, followed by a third sustaining the balance on pointe while doing a developpé arabesque. It isn’t easy at all. The pointe work has to be very obvious in the difference of slightly ginched foot and a fully pointed foot on pointe when balanced. This is a mature and subtle difference in a dancer’s ability to articulate the foot on pointe in different positions.

After this painstakingly long process the most quick and fluttering pas de couru happen. Again the genius of Tchiakovsky and Petipa shine: as the feet move rapidly with the notes and the upper body stays calm and the articulation of the port de bras is effortless.Then guess what happens. You repeat the previous section to the other side! Again, turnout is everything, and as the variation comes to an end, you don’t want to show you are tired, or that your feet are cramping. There are different ways to end this variation, in the video above she ends in a very nicely crossed attitude front en face. Personally, I don’t think that is flattering for most dancers so I would go croisé slightly. Actually, when I stage this variation I have the dancer end in arabesque and try to balance for a good two counts after the music has ended.

Sometimes I feel like we overlook this variation. I actually think it is rather difficult as one must run and travel on pointe. Not to mention that the hand work is incredibly difficult. It is really easy to look like a crazy spazz of a mess while performing this variation. Angelica Generosa ferociously performed this variation this season for Pacific Northwest Ballet‘s production. And truthfully it is probably the best I have ever seen it done.

NOTES ON FAIRY VARIATION 4

The fairy of song or voice, or whatever you want to call it. Mostly it is nicknamed Canary Fairy. I think this variation really tests your turnout and whether or not you have mastered it. First off running on pointe is never easy, yet alone to be turned out and to travel the entire stage. The posture of the run is really important, as you have to be extremely pulled up and slightly inclined. The hands and fingers move ridiculously fast as if you were playing an instrument and all of the notes are flooding from your hands.

When running on pointe in the first diagonal, a lot of young dancers forget to hold the turnout. Remember each run is either in effacé or croisé so the full presentation of the heel must happen. At the end of the running diagonal you have double rond de jambe, in which the accent is out. So if you are ferocious, you would stop and hold the accent out for a split count.

In the bourrées back make sure the foot is fully pointed and shaped in each coupé.The next step varies by staging, but in the version below her couru en avant travel turned out opposed to towards the end when going moving en arriere it is executed in sixth position on pointe.

 

If this first of the Fairy Variations taught us poise and speed, then Fairy 5, most commonly known as the Finger Fairy, teaches us style and power. This variation, because of the length and musicality has a very wide range of stagings. While some end the variation sauté basque, others will end the variation with step over turns, and others will add multiple pique turns. Some have a difficult jeté from a chaîné, while other variations have very fast pas de bourrée. Whatever staging you use, there are some signature style points to note below.

Sabrina Mellum of the Paris Opera in the very classical staging version of the variation.

Milena Sidorova from Dutch National (Het) in a more stylized version of the variation.

NOTES ON FAIRY VARIATION 5

While the other variations enter with an ease and elegance, this variation opens with power and style. Whether you do the opening with runs or the most turned out emboîtés of your life, this variation must be executive with a ridiculous amount of energy. From the tension in the arms to the directness and literal energy to the end of the fingertips. The musicality is n the opening steps is very direct, there is not a lot of room for interpretation. It is what it is. It is precise, cutting and most of all exact. Crossing the attitude front is super important as it creates a better line on most dancers.

The next section you either run on pointe or pas de chat en pointe, either way, you need to get your butt into the air and travel like a crazy person. The sous-sus traveling back should equally scoop, and equally hold the turnout.The next section varies on staging, I personally like the turns into the grand jeté, most because I don’t like doing the turning hops en pointe. I personally think it looks clumsy, and less grand. This is the part in the variation most people start to die. The next section is a small developpé at 45°. Make sure that both heels are spiraling forward and presenting the most beautiful turnout.

Finally, in the last section each dancer or choreographer will choose between jumps or turns. Depending on what suits you best, I am indifferent to what a dancer might choose. Personally, I think the sauté basque is always stunning, as I think the step gets a reputation to be a masculine step. I also just think it is more impressive than a stepover, and I think the quick piqués look wild and crazy.

With the exception of Nureyev’s version, most every other version refers to this illustrious musical composition as the music for the Lilac Fairy. She is queen of the fairies and probably the most sought after role after Aurora. Usually assigned to a principal dancer, this variation sets up every ballerina to become a principal dancer.

Maria Iliushkina premiered as the LIlac Fairy this past season for Mariinsky. She is another up and coming star at the former Kirov.

Sanguen Leea principal at Dresden SemperOper in Aaron S. Watkin’s version of the sleeping beauty.

NOTES ON FAIRY VARIATION 6

Here is why Lilac Fairy sets you up to become a dancer. The music is so dance able that the interpretation of the music and the steps is unique to each dancer. Additionally, this role demands a lot of acting is is seen in all three acts. From the way the dancer must walk onto the stage and even bow, you have to command a certain sense of presence and authority, while maintaining the ethereal qualities of a fairy.

In the opening of the variation, be generous with the head and preparation.  It is the only fairy that has that principal start. Most of the previous variations do not have preparation music, and if they do, they prepare towards and facing baby Aurora and not the audience. The first pass of the variation includes some crazy developpé and en dedan ronds. By now you should have mastered the turnout from back to front, especially if you drilled that first fairy variation. In the contretemps make sure your heels are forward and you are turned out from your thighs. Present the foot  with fully stretched leg and reach into a massively placed arabesque, don’t whack it.

In the second pass you have piques traveling back in attitude, arabesque and turning. The control of the turnout is crucial, the placement of the hips over the foot is crucial, and the upper body placed in an place that anticipates the actual position you are wanting is crucial. The fluidity comes from the strength behind a dancer’s technique. The grace comes from the musicality, and the comfort and control comes from the port de bras.

The next pass is quite short that involves musicality and port de bras traveling to stage left.

The next pass teaches us how to do sissone fermé with arms in first arabesque and allongé and pirouettes from fifth position. Don’t double prep your jump, keep the heels firmly pressed into the floor. This way as you come off the floor the heel is present fully in the air. Catch the landing and control the heels slowly to the floor. Don’t just plop down. Some dancers will make the jump massive, while others will make it small and quick depending on the tempo. Again, the phrasing of the music is really up to the director, or the dancer. Personally, as much as I care about the jump and the turn, I most care about the port de bras. The pirouette…. For all of you comp dancers out there: STOP WINDING UP YOUR PIROUETTE FROM FIFTH!!! I can not stress this enough. It drives me crazy in general. If you are doing pirouettes from fifth you don’t need to wind up, and frankly if you aren’t doing more than three pirouettes you don’t need to open the working side’s arm. Pirouettes shouldn’t look like effort. They should float on top of the supporting leg, and be so lifted that your upper body looks detached from your hips. They should be full of air and whimsy. They shouldn’t look like you are are winding up a pitch for the world series. Don’t turn in the supporting leg either. Actually… just look at my notes on pirouettes here.

 Finally the variation ends with the presentation of attitude front, usually an assemblé or jump of choice, and an arabesque.

Thanks again for reading! I hope this helps you!

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5 Variations To Stay Away from (2019)

5 Variations To Stay Away from (2019)

Thank the Baby Jesus that the ballet competition season is over. If the 2017-2018 season was the year of “Satanella,” then the 2018-2019 was the year of “Dulcinea.” While I have appreciated that people have listened to the first article, published back in 2015, about
5 Variations to Stay Away From, people have searched high and low for the replacements to these five- and they have found them.

While the original list consisted of:
Kitri ACT I
Esmeralda
Sugar Plum Fairy
Grand Pas Classique
and White/Black Swan

People have found their counterparts… While there will always be the crowd favorites like Esmeralda, how many Esmeralda variations can we watch? Especially, since Madison Penney demolished that variation and turned it into a show-stopping, trick-filled, pirouette perfection. We also have the standards that will never go away: like Aurora Act III (which is probably the textbook perfect definition of classical of ballet), Coppélia, Paquita Etoile Variation, and Giselle ACT I. But somehow we have replaced Kitri ACT I with the Variation from Laurencia.

Don’t get me wrong; I staged this for ABE COVER GIRL from Master Ballet Academy Tegan Chou last season for her ADC IBC performance. But now it seems that every jazz comp dancer is taking this variation on. And I can see their reasoning, they get to wear a long skirt like Kitri ACT 1, and has the same jeté in attitude. Jazz comp girls think they can get away with their bent knees because of the long skirt, and they can whack everything. In reality, you just look crazy. This is one of the problems with competition and the mindset of, “Well she won with it, so I should do it.” A Ballet Variation is much harder than just the tricks within the variation, and it takes a lot of coaching.

Tegan Chou, age 11, of Master Ballet Academy, ADC IBC.

The very talented Regina Montgomery at her 2012 YAGP Semi-Final from the Rock School for Dance Education. Miss Montgomery is now a demi-soloist at Tulsa Ballet.

We still revisit Esmeralda because we think the tambourine is cool. And now that Masters has modified the variation, we all are modifying the variation and adding as many pirouettes as possible and as many crazy tricks as we can. At this pointe, the variation shouldn’t even have the diagonal of fondu developpés, and we should just do tilt turns on pointe. YAAAAAAAS!

We should take a moment relive Madison Penney’s Amazing win at the Youth American Grand Pri at age 12.

We should also look at Sumina Sasaki’s 2019 Prix win where the commentator rudely says, “Just get on with it.”

Sugar Plum Fairy has somehow been replaced with Dulcinea. While these two variations have the same delicate features, they are both built to be extremely delicate with a coda built into the variation. Mostly it is another ridiculously long variation, and somehow we have slowed down the music even more and made it more painstaking to watch. While I understand we are kids trying to do this variation, so the slower tempo is needed, dear god, it is so painful to sit through… Especially if you are too weak, or too athletic to do this variation. Now that Ava Arbuckle has placed with this variation… let it be.

Elite Classical Coaching’s Ava Arbuckle at her 2019 Semi-Final in Dallas.

San Francisco Ballet’s Natasha Sheehan, age 14, at YAGP Finals in 2014.

Grand Pas Classique has been replaced with Satanella. While we have seen less and less of Grand Pas, thank you. It has been replaced with the two-minute variation from Carnival of Venice- Satanella. While the variation is cute and flirty, it is long; like really, really long. Just like Grand Pas, and people do these variations because they think that the longer it is, the better. Fortunately, that is not true. By the midpoint of Satanella, everyone is ready to jab their eyes out. You would think that it should end before the menage of ballonés, but no, it keeps going… and going… and then just when you think it is done, it still isn’t done. And truth, after Elisabeth Beyer’s performance and Lincoln Center… Can you really follow that up?

We should tall take a moment to relive this magical moment. Elisabeth Beyer of Ellison Ballet at NYC Finals 2018.

Satanella Variation to tempo by Evgenia Obraztsova.

And White/Black Swan has been replaced with Raymonda Dream Variation/Harlequinade. While  White Swan is about style, Raymonda’s Dream Variation is about control and constraint. The quality is similar in both variations, but white swan has more stylistic features like exaggerated port de bras. But, they both have painstaking developpés, and truthfully, the extensions in Raymonda are harder as they are done en dedans and in the middle of the variation instead of the beginning. While the drama of the variation is nice, I am always confused when people do this variation as she is dreaming to “escape” a rape. Not the best variation to be teaching young girls, but then again, what ballet variation sets up a strong good role model for young girls? Anyways, this brings me to the painstakingly long variation of Harlequinade. Originally,  Whitney Jensen, former Principal of Boston Ballet and now Norwegian National Ballet, brought this variation back to popularity at Varna in 2008 where she brilliantly won the highest honor, the Special Distinction. If you don’t know what that is, it is an award that has been rarely given out. In the entire competition it has been given out a total of  6 times (2018 Antonio Casalinho, 2014 Soo Bin Lee, 2012 He Taiyu, 2002 Lu Meng, 1998 Rolando Sarabia and technically in 1964 Vladimir Vasiliev won the Grand Prix, the top prize the first year Varna was established). But, it seems that Remi Goins set the trend a few years ago by pulling off some ridiculously hard turns at a very young age and now, everyone is going for it: juniors, seniors, pre-comp, Everyone. Here is the problem is the variation from Harlequinade. While it is cute, and it seems relatable for young kids, if you want to show off turns why not do the Medora Variation or Odalisque Variation from Le Corsaire?

Remi Goins at YAGP 2017 at age 12 winning the Shelley King Award for Excellence.

Whitney Jensen doing it big at Varna in 2008.

Here are some other mistakes I have seen this season at the YAGP. I get that the YAGP has expanded and more and more kids are coming into the semi-finals… but if you are a jazz comp school… and you are entering your kids into the ballet category, do them a solid… Find them a better ballet teacher. And secondly, don’t buy a costume from Revolution for 15 dollars, attempt to alter it and add rhinestones and glitter. It doesn’t work. Go and find a seamstress and put the work in or optionally buy a blank performance tutu from Grishko for 400 dollars and spiff it up yourself. Or even better, there is a new costume company that is making blank tutus for reasonable pricing. Also, stop going to more than two semi-finals.

I know that a lot of you are going to as many as you can so the talented kids are weeded out, and you finally place and get an invite to NYC. After the second attempt at a semi-final… if you don’t place… you don’t place. There is no reason to go to a third, and fourth, and this year I saw it… a fifth… Just don’t go… This isn’t Nuvo or Break the Floor, and you are trying to prove you have improved, etc, etc, etc… this isn’t that, it isn’t a circuit, this is a ballet competition that is looking for the best of the best. The whole rule of not being able to place twice was put into place to discourage people from doing more than one. So, please… just stop.

Also, you don’t need to enter FOUR contemporary solos. We get it… you can do contemporary. On average most kids bring two classical variations and one contemporary. If you are an overachiever and your parents want to see you on stage more since they are paying the participation fee, then you might have two and two. But really? Do you need more than that… absolutely not.

This year, I am not going to preparing anyone for the YAGP or Lausanne (or at least not to my knowledge), so I am going to do all of you searching a solid and walk you through the variation-selection process. Subscribe and Stay Tuned to get all the competition info you need.

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David King

David King

David King is the founder of A Ballet Education

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San Francisco Ballet’s The Little Mermaid

San Francisco Ballet’s

The Little Mermaid

APRIL 19, 2019
Tamara Sparkles

Watching Yuan Yuan Tan perform “The Little Mermaid” is something that I will remember for a long time. She exudes the vibrant mystique that you want to believe in when it comes to the dark sorted tale of unrequited love that is Hans Christian Andersen’s original fable.

Ms. Tan’s port de bras simply surpass any visual expectation. They are surreal. She is lifted and tossed by her men of the ocean, and you honestly believe that she IS the ethereal underwater creature that she is portraying. With a flawless, undulating wave and a supple back, she truly transforms into the naive, beautiful mermaid we are all sympathizing with as she visits the Sea Witch to exchange her tail, and her voice for a love that can never exist. There are moments where Ms. Tan makes the romantic tragedy so real you can feel it in your bones; this is both through the beautiful choreography of John Neumeier and her stellar exploration of this character. Yuan Yuan Tan is unmatched in this ballet. It truly belongs to her.

Aaron Robinson was perfectly playful to the beautiful Mermaid with his gorgeous romantic movement and festive innocent flirtations. His lines and communications of the love of both the Princess (the stunning Sasha DeSola) and The Little Mermaid were clear and thoughtful. Also, his jumps are solidly clean and delicious.

Sasha DeSola is the consummate Princess. She is effortless. Her technique is clear and precise, and her sense of royalty seems inherent. When she appears on deck in her hot pink jumpsuit, so flirtatious, so young and in love…She is everything. You are watching only her. It is easy to feel sympathy for the Little Mermaid up against such a formidable romantic rival.

My favorite moments of John Neumeier’s beautifully epic ballet lie with the Poet (Ulrik Birkkjaer) and the Sea Witch (Wei Wang). The Poet, Ulrik Birkkjaer leads us through this story with beauty and grace dancing seamlessly under the water, on the ship, and in the heavens. He knows what is happening, what is about to happen and our heart breaks with his as the story unfolds. Ulrik is strong and filled with depth. He blends in as the Poet and yet cannot be ignored when on stage. He is a storyteller.
Wei Wang, as the Sea Witch is incredible. You want to see him as the villain, but it’s nearly impossible because his dancing is so extraordinary. He embodies the regal eel-like creature that strikes a deal with The Little Mermaid that eventually turns so dark.

There is a moment at the end, where the Little Mermaid and The Poet are lifted into the night sky on a platform of stars, it is worthy of all of our tears for all of our loves that were never returned. Congratulations to everyone at San Francisco Ballet on a beautiful run of this majestic ballet.

The Little Mermaid: Yuan Yuan Tan
Prince / Edvard: Aaron Robison
Poet / Hans Christian Andersen: Ulrik Birkkjaer
Princess / Henriette: Sasha De Sola
Sea Witch: Wei Wang

http://www.sfballet.org
Photos courtesy of San Francisco Ballet, ©Erik Tomasson

Tamara Sparkles

Contributor | San Francisco

Tamara is a California native with a passion and understanding for dance education that stems from 30 years of teaching experience. She is available for private coaching in the Bay the area.

ISSUE 15

A BALLET EDUCATION
ISSUE 15

ISSUE 15

Issue 15 features Catherine Lewellen, the director of Elite Classical Coaching. The cover and editorial spread of this issue was photographed by JoLee Photography. This amazing issue showcases the amazing talent of Elite Classical Coaching and a look at social media in ballet.

Read It On Joo Mag

IN THIS ISSUE

David King

Founder & Editor-in-Chief

JoLee Photography

Cover Photographer

Ashley Baker

Contributing Editor & photographer