A Week Done

Another week done in Los Angeles… Three more days to go!! Working with the most talented kids in Southern California has been amazing. Working on very specific corrections, specifically like not using your quads whatsoever. It’s been pretty amazing. This week on Instagram I just brought back my Weekly Themes… starting with revisiting the Ballet Look of the Days…

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Three more days of teaching in Los Angeles (Monday-Wednesday 10:00 AM-12:00) and then off to Phoenix!!

A Personal Journey… and the struggle with weight… even for a man.

There is so much pressure in ballet when it comes to weight. But the stereotype isn’t just for women/girls. There is a ton of pressure for men/boys to also have the right body proportions. From obsessive workouts to the right muscle tone, weight is constantly being evaluated. I think the first time I really became paranoid about weight was when I was measured for my first custom ballet costume. This paranoia was reinforced when I had to fit into another person’s ballet costume. And the third time was when a teacher made a remark that was something along the line of, “Aren’t Asians supposed to be super skinny?” Yup. This was only supported by teachers making general comments like, “Someone ate dessert last night.” While walking around the room. Or, “You probably had too much for dinner since you can’t close your fifth.” And for some reason that became normal.

Naturally, I am not built super thin, I am barrel chested and have broad shoulders. My body also puts weight on really fast. I can literally gain weight just by looking at cake, Just kidding. But, seriously, what I eat the day before drastically effects my body. So, unfortunately, like most dancers who feel the pressure of weight control, I did the most stupid thing anyone can do. I started skipping meals and when need be, purging. When a ballet that required white tights came around… the eating habits would get worse and worse. Still, to this day we don’t really talk about weight or nutrition, though it has gotten better, the pressure to be the right body still exists. Whether schools verbally enforce this or not, it is seen by who they accept and who is employed by a company. And for me, it became an obsession. When my Aunt who was a nurse asked me about my weight, I just said that I was working out really hard. A friend commented on my clavicles and ribs showing through my chest and I just said it was because I did a high amount of cardio. So, I started wearing oversized clothes and multiple layers, avoided photos, and then just said it was “genetics”. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t like withering away, I was still strong enough to lift girls and dance through ballet. I was just managing my weight the wrong way.

Back in the day, which wasn’t that long ago, they didn’t give you the resources needed to get it under control. Or at least propose healthy eating. At best we had the Dancer’s Body Book by Allegra Kent, which is horrible… Published in the 80’s, this book really was the only “dancer diet” resource available. The diet is restricting and really only geared towards petite naturally thin women.

What they didn’t tell you, is that by starving yourself, you mess up your metabolism, your kidneys, your skin and your overall health.

 

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Yes… I know I should have turned out my standing leg, not winged my foot and pointed it. Pulled my back leg up, and not taken this picture with a disposable camera. 

 

Even after my ballet career ended, weight was a big paranoia for me. At first, I would eat everything in sight. Literally. But, the minute I saw myself gaining weight the paranoia set in again. Additionally, I joined the world of fashion, and at the time it was trendy for men to be underweight and the trend manorexic was in. So, I made sure to stay underweight at all costs; smoking, cutting meals, and cardio. It wasn’t until CJ pulled me aside at the club and said, “I can see your ribs and spine through the back of your shirt.” My response was an unhealthy, “Oh that’s good, that’s normal. I thought you were going to say I had a hole in my shirt or you hated my outfit.” Around the same time, I noticed I was getting major headaches, having body issues, and was constantly tired. This led to a slew of health problems, some permanent.

So, I started putting on weight and being healthy.

When my dad passed away I put on a ton of weight, over time almost 50 pounds pushing me over, much over, the 200-pound mark. It really hit me when my doctor marked me as obese on my 2015 physical. At the same time, I started this blog and the Instagram and created the character fat panda. One, to avoid writing using photos of myself, and Two turning overweight into something funny.

I got my weight under control but still wasn’t happy with how much weight I actually still had on me… don’t get me wrong, I didn’t want to be my ballet weight skinny (125), but I wanted to be in a good weight category. (Mind you I stand at 5’10 and a half”)

It’s been a process, starting back in March on my 30th birthday… I mean you all know. I started going back to ballet classes and the gym. It has been a process, but I can finally say I am back to a normal healthy weight. It has taken 7 months, and the process has been slow.
weight loss

I went from being a 27″ to a 34″, and now to a 30″. I went from being an extra small shirt to a large, and now I am back to a small, but prefer a medium. But finally, in a place where I am comfortable… I won’t lie, it hasn’t been easy, and I messed my body type up completely while dancing and constantly feeling the pressure of weight. I am not writing this for an applause, but simply to remind everyone that weight, body dysmorphia, and ballet pressures are real issues, even for boys and men. And, that there are major long-term consequences for taking shortcuts and giving into the pressures of the ideals.
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Happy World Ballet Day!

If you haven’t been watching, watch the replays. Go inside some of the world’s top companies and watch company class, rehearsals and great interviews with some of the most recognized faces in ballet! Officially caught back up with the magazine and we are excited for ISSUE 7!! It should be out tomorrow!! A whole new year filled with new articles, new people, and new ideas. A Magazine for the Modern Day Ballerina and Ballet Lovers!!

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Issue 7 On the cover is Noe Leilani (@noeleilani) wearing Lucky Leo (photographed by Lisbet Photography. I’m wearing Ballet Freak’s Merde. Shirt.
It’s my standard shirt I live in now. (Click here to buy)

Inside this Issue:
Inside the World of Ballet Competitions by Wesleigh Dichter
The Next Generation #teamnugget featuring Isobel Rose (@isobelroselehman and @noeleilani) photographed by Lisbet Photography
A New Look
Finding the Right School for You
Moving Ballet Forward

This Issue was Brought to you by all of the wonderful companies who have helped A Ballet Education grow!

PARTNERED WITH:

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Slippers & Tutus Giveaway!

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Slippers and Tutus generously gave A Ballet Education some product to Giveaway!

Haven’t heard of them? Don’t worry, they are new. Their products are geared towards recreational dancers, specifically kids ages under the age of 11. What is great about this product? It is quality dancewear that is affordable. Specifically, they have made this merchandise so that every dancer has the chance to dance. We know that higher-end custom dancewear has become extremely popular and can cost over $100 bucks a leotard. While large manufacturers are trying to compete against small businesses, small businesses usually carry a large heart. Check out their cute line for those tiny dancers out there by clicking here.

Here is how to win this giveaway… It is easy, just follow the blog!! Subscribe for free by entering your email in the box at the bottom of the page. That’s all you have to do!
WINNER ANNOUNCED OCTOBER 10, 2017!
(US SHIPPING ONLY)

Product Giveaway sized or shop by clicking:
Basic Mesh Tutu Dress – Black I(6X-8)
Zebra Shorts (7-8)
Pink Lace spaghetti leotard -(6X-8)

Top 5 Ballet Boys/Mens Programs (US)

As featured in Issue 6: It is funny that people still think there is a lack of male dancers in the US industry right now. In my opinion, there is a huge surplus of them, but they are flocking to five schools for sure. Sure, back in the day there were a few boys here and there, but now there are budding programs all over the US for these young men. They even have their own summer intensive. Now in Europe, that is a different story because male dancers are coming out left and right. Instagram proves that time and time again.

top ballet schools for boys

So… where are all the boys heading to and why? 

  1. San Francisco Ballet School, Patrick Armand (San Francisco) / THE SFB school has always attracted some of the best boys in the world to come train. Not only are the creating insane technicians, but they also are able to help the young men find their inner artistry. The young men that graduate SFB are usually all very noble looking (that bravura dancer), clean, and strong. (Click here to learn more)
  2. Boston Ballet School Men’s Division, Peter Stark (Boston) /  While the School at Boston has flourished over the years, and with their new studio opening this year, Boston Ballet School has attracted numerous boys into their summer course, where they are recruited for the year. Their boys are usually on the leaner side and known for their pretty lines, good feet, and ease. (Click here to learn more)
  3. School of American Ballet, Kay Mazzo (NYC) The School of American Ballet turns out one type of boy, and that is the long-limbed Balanchine boy. This program is not for everyone, in fact, unless it is your dream to dance at NYCB, this is not the school for you. Again, it really only creates one type of boy, and that is a Balanchine boy. So, unless you are going to a strictly Balanchine/Contemporary Company… this isn’t the school for you. (Click here to learn more)
  4. Houston Ballet Academy, Claudio Muñoz, James Gotesky, boys Program (Houston) HBA has always been a school that a lot of young men head out to. But recently, with the help of social media, HBA has been showcasing their insane technicians and ferocious turners. The HBA creates some of the strongest men out there. (Click Here to Learn More)
  5. The Rock School, Bo and Stephanie Spassoff (Philadelphia) The Rock School is not shy when it comes to showcasing their boys and young men. A school that has been long affiliated with the YAGP, the Rock School turns out some of the best turners and jumpers out there. (Click here to learn more)

So, what does this even mean? It means that the caliber of male dancers right now is incredible. You have to jump and turn, have perfect turnout, be a great actor, and partner. The list goes on and on. But, the silver lining here, is that the quality of male dancers out there right now is beyond exceptional. Don’t get it wrong either, there are tons of schools out there offering great male programs. These programs are A Ballet Education’s top picks here in the US. If you aren’t at one of these schools, don’t freak out you can still have a career from another school.  If you want a chance to go to one of these schools, don’t forget to audition for their summer courses/intensives and then ask/apply to stay for the year.

Keep up the good training!
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These schools are my picks based on several factors included ratio of students to teachers, ratio of male to female students, scholarships awarded, size of the school, graduate placement, perceived value, cost of education, and company contracts. And before everyone gets crazy, I made it clear that 1. It was only US and 2. It is my opinion.

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COME TRAIN WITH ME!

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Inspired…

They say when one door closes, another one opens. The problem with that saying is that sometimes you can’t just wait around for a door magically open. Sometimes you have to find the door yourself and push it open. So, that is what I am doing. After a bunch of job offers and numerous opportunities around the US, I’ve decided to really just work for myself. I didn’t really think of it before, don’t get me wrong, I am so thankful for this blog, but why was I teaching, coaching, and working for other companies, when I could be investing in my own?

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So, I was looking for a sign, and then I started reading a bunch of different perspectives and stories from ballet. This inspired me, inspired me to really push forward with a Ballet Education. I decided to start drawing those who have inspired me, and they aren’t just ballet dancers. There is a mighty long list, so hopefully, maybe there will be numerous additions to the Inspired Collection.

ABE logo 1So, where does this lead me? The rebranding of A Ballet Education. Thank you to Lisbet Photography and Misfit Design. For helping me recreate and reinvent A Ballet Education.

Yup! It is happening and going full force! So, what does this mean? I am hitting the road again. I will be in Los Angeles again from October 12-18. Come take 10 hours of intense A Ballet Education classes, or come watch and take notes on the Ballet Education Curriculum at the Downtown Dance & Movement Studios.

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TEACHERS: if you are intersted in sending your students and you are interested in coming to observe, if you have 3 students come to the intensive, you can watch for free.

 

Is ballet getting too good too fast?

the baby ballerina

It is no secret that between physics, anatomy, and kinesiology, that ballet technique has literally been perfected to a science. Now, dancers are pushing their bodies even harder, pushing it to the limits to achieve something new, something unseen and something exciting. Dancers are training as hard as ever, and training smarter than any other previous generation. The access and exposure to resources young dancers have now is insane. Ten-year-olds are now becoming insane technicians all before their bodies change. Thirteen-year-olds are now pushing technique and artistry. Sixteen-year-olds are looking like prime dancers, and eighteen-year-olds are killing themselves in the corps de ballet.


Elisabeth Beyer, Satanella Variation, YAGP 2017 FINAL ROUND, winner of the Natalia Makarova Award, and winner of the Moscow Ballet Competition.

As the years have unfolded, dance has progressed at such a fast rate, a rate that I don’t think anyone saw coming. The finesse, the artistry, the acting, and the tricks are all combined to create these mega-monster dancers. These dancers right now are all between the ages of ten and sixteen and are kicking butt. They are dominating the competition circuit, they are dancing every genre of dance, and they are already making appearances at international galas. They are showing the finesse of technique, budding artistry, and emotion depth that has been in the lack for a long time now.

Are students peaking too early? In recent conversations with colleagues across America, there are two problems that are facing young dancers today. The first question asked is, “Are students peaking too early?” and the second question, “Is the job market able to accommodate these dancers?” As dance has always been for the young, it seems that we are now facing the dilemma of bringing back the infamous baby ballerina or watching some of the world’s best talent sit in the corps.

So, if a student like this doesn’t burn out, if they don’t get injured (and they shouldn’t unless a horrible accident), what do they do? Do they audition at fifteen, get into a trainee program, join the second company at sixteen for two years, and then join as an apprentice at eighteen, and they get their corps contract. They sit in the corps for three to five years until a soloist spot opens up, and become a principal in a few years after that? If that is the case and a dancer peaks at sixteen, that usually means, that their prime years will be done before they are even a principal. A dancer’s body usually has somewhere between ten to twelve years of prime dancing from the time they peak. Back in the day, dancers would peak somewhere around twenty-one. When their bodies curate technique as second nature, artistry and freedom of expression click, and their dancing intensifies. So from the time they peak, if they get ten years… This new generation of dancers will have their prime years between sixteen and twenty-eight.

Comments have been made, that there are some young dancers in top companies in the corps de ballet who are technically better than most soloists out there. The problem is that no company director right now is going to risk giving such a young dancer a principal title. Beckanne Sisk pulled it off at Ballet West with careful guidance by Adam Sklute. She managed to become a principal dancer within four years of joining the Utah company. Notably, Lauren Lovette, New York City Ballet, also pulled off a pretty quick rise to the top. She joined City Ballet in 2009 and was a principal by the 2015/2016 season. Jeffrey Cirio rose quickly to the top of Boston Ballet by joining in 2009 and becoming a principal by 2012. He jumped to American Ballet Theatre as a soloist in 2015 and became a principal the following year after his nomination for a Prix de Benois. He then added English National Ballet as a guest principal artist.

This begs the question, what do we do with all of these young superstars? Professional children’s company? Start replacing soloists and corps members with these dancers, and hiring a special teacher/psychologist to help these dancers have healthy lives? It is funny, because Hollywood embraces young talent, and between labor laws and unions exceptional young talent in Hollywood is protected. Should the same apply to dancers? Look at say, Dakota Fanning, Abigail Breslin, Arianna Grande, and Selena Gomez. All of these young women took their art and passion to another level, fueled by desire and hope. In film and music, there was a space for these young dancers to grow. Is ballet ever going to make that change? Could a sixteen-year-old girl pull off the full-length Sleeping Beauty, in the title role as a sixteen-year-old princess? I believe so, I just saw a handful of dancers who are ready to take on this full-length ballet. I don’t think a sixteen-year-old could pull off, say, Swan Lake, but I think they could pull off ballets like Coppelia, La Fille, Grad Ball, Sugar Plum and many others at a major company and pack the house.


Gold medal and Special Award winner at Senior devision Evelina Godunova

So, as ballet constantly evolves day to day, we have to ask ourselves, “What is going to be next? Is the job market ever going to allow for young exceptional talent? Will the older generation of ballet finally give into the progress of ballet?” We all know that most of the problems in ballet, problems like diversity, sexuality, mental health, body type are all being supported and being created by the older generation of directors, ballet masters, and school directors… Soo, when is it all going to change?

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Just some thoughts…

(Personal Thoughts)

Hurricanes, the YAGP, Prix de Lausanne, life and old friends. The past two weeks have been crazy. From evacuating Charleston to trying to figure out my life… From Los Angeles to San Diego to Irvine to Salt Lake City and about to head to Orlando. The whirlwind of trying to figure out your life and place in the world of ballet.
Orlando Ballet A Ballet Education

It isn’t a secret that I am not with American National Ballet at the moment; not my intentions, but that is neither here nor there. Today marked the opening of their season and it looks like it kicked off with a bang: Desmond Richardson teaching company class, interviews, and photo shoots. It looks like it went really well. If I do rejoin, then I am excited to work alongside a great company, and if I don’t rejoin then I wish them all the best of luck.
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The past two weeks have been crazy. The past two weeks have been filled with coaching numerous winners of the YAGP and prepping videos for the Prix de Lausanne. I was privileged to work with some of the best talent Southern California has to offer. It was quite amazing. One of the great spaces I got to use was Downtown Dance & Movement. Not only was it affordable, but it was super accommodating, conveniently located in Downtown Los Angeles, with a public parking lot across the street. $10-$15 dollars for all day parking. If you don’t mind walking there was a cheaper parking ramp. The floors were laid by one of the best David Sukonick. The sound system was great, and the studio was big enough for variations, which is hard to find for multiple hourly rentals. (click the logo above or here for more information)

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From teaching in Orange County, San Diego, and Los Angeles, I got kind of pooped out. But, Friday night brought Travis Wall’s 30th Birthday in West Hollywood and the chance to get to see old friends. If you didn’t know, he just won the creative Emmy. Saturday, I get to see A Ballet Education contributor, now school manager at Ballet Arizona, Ashley Baker, as she killed it at the Downtown LA BlakTina Dance Festival.

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While I was in Los Angeles, a lot of great opportunities presented themselves, one included me opening a school in Downtown Los Angeles. While this is extremely appealing, especially with the lack of quality schools in Los Angeles, it has gotten me thinking…

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I just got off the plane in Salt Lake City and was picked up by another very close friend. Now, I am at the Starbucks killing time before my next teaching spree. I am totally stoked to see what Utah has to offer, besides gorgeous landscapes and gastropubs. While I know Ballet West dominates Utah in terms of pre-professional ballet schools, I am excited to see the younger group of kids that will eventually feed these pre-professional programs.

I know I was supposed to head out to Chicago & Minneapolis next, but I have decided to take some time for myself and try to figure out what is next for me. I know what is slowly coming next for a Ballet Education. Finally, I am almost close to the final draft of my massive book that takes up a ton of space on my hard drive. My curriculum and certification program for teachers and schools is about to roll out. My youtube channel will be getting a kick-butt revamp. Issue 7 is being compiled and it is going to be huge. And more artwork is about to hit the RedBubble Store.

While I don’t want to spend my entire day teaching… I will be available for privates, consultations, master classes in Orlando. I will be there on Wednesday, September 20 to work and then who knows? I just know I need a lot of time to clear my head and figure out what is going to happen to my life. Email me if you want to work together. When I figure out what is happening with my life, I will let you know, and until then… who knows what I will post.

 

What is Contemporary Ballet?

contemporary ballet history

In the world of ballet, well the world of dance, everyone is throwing around the genre of contemporary ballet. But, what is contemporary ballet? If we look at the dance spectrum as a whole, contemporary would fall somewhere between classical ballet and post-modern. If we looked at a progressive timeline, contemporary ballet would fall somewhere in the 1920’s-1940’s between the Ballets Russes (active 1909-1929) and the birth of New York City Ballet (f. 1948).

Ballet Timeline

Partial timeline from my new book… The Illustrated Guide to Ballet

 

 

So, by definition, contemporary is defined by living or occurring at the same time, or belonging to or occurring in the present. So, by definition, contemporary ballet really can only be defined as ballets that are currently being created. That really doesn’t work for us, since dance historians are classifying the emergence of contemporary ballet somewhere in the 1960’s. This being different from neoclassical ballet. Neoclassical ballet referring to the Balanchine/Massine ballets. All the meanwhile jazz and modern dance emerged.

From the 60’s choreographers, directors and dancers started new innovative collaborations; taking the best in music, costume design, vocabulary and more. From here, a new vocabulary emerged and the idea of cross-training in all genres emerged.

In the 80’s a strong group of choreographers created a vocabulary of movement that manipulated the classical technique in such a way it became part of the standard repertoire of today. Some of these men include John Cranko, William Forsythe and Jiri Kylian.

From this group of innovators, a new group of individuals emerged: Alonzo King, Dwight Rhoden, Desmond Richardson, John Neumeier, and Matthew Bourne, just to name a few.

This created the current group of individuals leading contemporary ballet: Alexei Ratmansky, Yuri Possokhov, Christopher Wheeldon, Benjamin Millpied, Justin Peck, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Crystal Pite, Liam Scarlett, Wayne McGregor and more.


How do you classify what is a contemporary ballet?


If we classified contemporary ballet as dances done on pointe to different music, or incorporating other dance vocabularies… then Christopher Wheeldon’s After the Rain wouldn’t be considered a contemporary ballet. But, if we look at contemporary ballet as a dance that uses the ballet vocabulary, then it would be a contemporary ballet.

If we said that a contemporary ballet is based on the vocabulary of classical ballet, then every genre of classical dance would be considered contemporary ballet.

Here is how I like to classify what is contemporary ballet and what is contemporary dance (by no means is this the standard rubric of classifying dance, just mine):

  • If the dance is on pointe, it is contemporary ballet.
  • If the majority of the dance is based on technique and the principals of ballet, it is contemporary ballet.
  • If the majority of the dance vocabulary derives on a feeling, gestures, or sets it is contemporary dance.
  • If the dance movement is primarily based on the principals of turnout, it is contemporary ballet.
  • If the dance is about lack of control of the body, contemporary dance while the constraint of articulation enforces it is a contemporary ballet.

One of the major differences I think between contemporary ballet and contemporary dance is the purpose why the dance is created. I think contemporary ballets are made with the intent of surviving the test of time and becoming a part of the standard ballet company repertory, where contemporary dance is made for the moment, and truly embraces the word contemporary.

So, as you are preparing for the YAGP and shows, you should ask yourself a few things.

  • What is the purpose of this work?
  • What is the intent behind each of the movements? Is it technique? It is placement? Articulation? Flexibility? Emotion?
  • Is this work going to be relevant in 5 years? 10 years? 20 years?
  • What is the story behind the work?
  • Where is the vocabulary coming from? Jazz? Ballet? Hip Hop? Modern?
  • Who is this work intended for? Judges? Audience? Social Media? Yourself?
  • Why are you dancing this?

The wonderful part of the world of contemporary ballet and dance today is the ability to juxtapose anything together. Whether it is a classical costume to hip-hop music, classical music and postmodern gestures, pointe work and gender, the lack of music and classical ballet technique. The combinations are endless. Just like the world of contemporary ballet, the possibilities of combining gestures and technique, fusing articulation and constraint, breath and technique… It is quite amazing.

A problem that a lot of work is running into is that the possible combinations and dance vocabulary is running out. As dance is moving forward we are exploring the articulation in and out of the technique, timing and pushing the limits of our body, and as this is becoming the standard, classical ballets will no longer be created. We are already seeing it with the Balanchine repertory becoming more common, and the acquisition of the Forsythe, Wheeldon, Ratmansky, Peck ballets becoming a part of standard repertory around the world. While the classics will always be performed, I don’t think very many more classical ballets will ever be created. Tudor, MacMillan, and Neumeier might have been the last ones to create a “classical” ballet.


What makes good contemporary ballet?

This is a double edge sword to answer. But a good contemporary ballet, for me, is something moving. Whether or not it tells a story gives no weight into if it is good or bad. I think the manipulation of the body, control of the articulation is extremely important, but that is half the dancer half the choreographer. The use or the lack of use of the space on all levels. Musicality. Pathways. The manipulation of technique. The idea behind the piece…

Here are some of my favorite works… the list is too long to list them all… Hope you enjoy.

Wayne McGregor’s Chroma

Alonzo King’s Meyer… almost all of his works I love though…

William Forsythe’s … well most things of his as well haha. But, I think right now in the ballet world the two most accessible ballets are In the Middle Somewhat Elevated and The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude.

Justin Peck’s… well almost anything as well… but here is his Rodeo.


What Makes a Good Ballet Teacher?

There are so many types of teachers out there, it is important that parents and students know what they are getting. After working across the United States and talking to parents and students, I’ve realized that when it comes to ballet, a lot of people are getting ripped off, majorly ripped off. It is almost depressing. So, what makes a good teacher? What makes a great teacher? What are the differences in teachers? And how, as a dance teacher, do you make yourself better?

What makes a good ballet teacher

What is a Ballet Teacher? This is such a vague term… like such a vague term. Some teachers use certificates to justify their credentials… like the ABT National Training Certification or the RAD levels… Unfortunately, this doesn’t make them good teachers. Also, just because they were a principal dancer… that doesn’t make them a good teacher either. And, just because you have a Russian affiliation doesn’t make you a good teacher. And just because you graduated from a top ballet school doesn’t make you a good teacher either. Additionally, just because you have a college degree in dance or dance pedagogy or something random like a BFA from a random school; doesn’t mean you are going to be a good teacher.

Being a ballet teacher is hard because ballet itself is diverse. The pedagogy, ideology, and science differs accordingly based on each person. Sometimes this a good thing, sometimes it is a horrible thing and waste of money for parents. Not all pedagogies are created equally. and not all bodies can do any pedagogy.

What makes a good ballet teacher?
Multi-tasking: A good ballet teacher usually is someone who can inspire an entire class, while concentrating on the individual needs of each student, all while maintaining a precise curriculum.
Good Eyes: A good ballet teacher has a keen eye for body placement, alignment and can find minuscule errors when a child dances.
Good Ears: A good ballet teacher understands music and can hear multiple melodies and rhythms within a song.
Educated: A good ballet teacher understands anatomy, physiology, and kinesiology. Teachers should be able to prevent injuries with healthy technique and should guarantee well-shaped bodies.
Experience: Has experience within the professional world of ballet. It is important to have these experiences so you can help guide students into the professional world.
Connected: A good ballet teacher is still plugged into the ballet world, so they understand what is happening and what the industry is needing, wanting and demanding.
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What makes a great ballet teacher?
A good sculptor
: An exceptional ballet teacher can see beyond what is directly in front of them and can reshape the body and pull out the ballet technique from their students. This quality is actually very hard to find.

Don’t get me wrong, we need regular ballet teachers out there… but the problem is, that in today’s market of dancers, teachers have to be exceptional and create exceptional dancers. It isn’t good enough to just teach a plié by saying it means “to bend” and then demonstrate the bending of the knees. You physically have to get on your hands and knees, and explain that it is a constant action because it is a verb. It never stops, and it isn’t initiated from the knees, a plié comes from the pressure in the hips rotating outwards and the muscles rotating back, without strain, so much that it causes the knees to bend. The fact that the femur head has to be inside the pelvis, the weight placement has to be so precise. And the depth of the plié has to be controlled from the achilles without pronating or “rolling” of the feet.

  • If your ballet teacher just walks around the room and gives general corrections… bad teacher.
  • If your teacher sits in a chair and just directs and yells… bad teacher… maybe better off to be a director.
  • If your teacher can’t explain the physics and science behind ballet… bad teacher.
  • If you are noticing your muscles shaping to be large or bulky… super bad ballet teacher.. and if they tell you it’s genetics… just walk out.
  • If your teacher tells you that it’s normal to be injured and you have to work through it… HORRIBLE TEACHER!! GET OUT BEFORE YOU BREAK YOUR BODY.
  • If your teacher tells you that you will never be a dancer… definitely get the hell out there.

What is a Master Teacher? a master teacher is someone who has dedicated quite a bit of time and energy on their craft of teaching and has become recognized as one of the greats. Usually, these wonderful people are specifically focused on technique. This title usually refers to someone who has honed their skills as a teacher, and was able to create a method to improve or change the ballet technique for the better. They are everything mentioned above and magnified. To note some of America’s best: Bruce Marks, Finis Jung, Willy Burmann, Marcia Dale Weary and the late David Howard. (I’m not claiming I’m a master teacher, but this is the category I have fallen into, not really by choice.)

…Faculty– Faculty is usually associated with a school, specifically a school with a solid curriculum. A faculty is usually pieced together based on educational credentials, and each faculty member brings something different to create an overall aesthetic or pedagogy of teaching.

…Coach– A coach usually focuses on one thing. Each coach has a specialty, like stretching or port de bras, artistry or turns.

…Ballet Master/ Ballet Mistress– by definition this person is employed by a ballet company to teach and rehearse dancers. Note, you have to employed by a ballet company… a real one. These professionals have usually danced a full repertory and they share their experiences with other dancers in terms of coaching for a role. (Such hard work, I do this too… and it’s exhausting.)

…Répétiteur– Is someone in the craft of staging and translating ballets. Being a répétiteur is one of the hardest jobs in ballet because you have to know everyone’s part, and what is going on at all times on the stage. Their focus isn’t really technique, but production and precision. (I have just started staging full ballets and translating them onto companies and schools, and I have to say, it is a lot of work. Like a lot of work.)

…Director– Someone with a vision… This doesn’t necessarily mean they are the best teacher. Directors have the ability to see an artistic vision and execute it. Usually, they are also decent teachers, decent repetiteurs and have ballet mastered at some point.

…Guest Teacher– Usually, a big name dancer/teacher coming in to share experiences, tips and more. Guest teachers usually have a different take on students as they are there for 3 hours and then they are gone. They are brought in to supplement the training and inspire students. Guest teachers help try to assess and push the kids as hard as they can in a very short amount of time.

If you are a teacher and you want to better yourself, for your school, students and your own self fulfillment.. If you are interested in the Ballet Education Curriculum or Ballet Education Teacher Training Workshop, feel free to contact me here.


Don’t forget I’m teaching in Los Angeles today!! Click the Image to Pre-Register!
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UTAH TIME!!

Heading off to UTAH!!! Come take class with me, or book me for private lessons!! Where to next? Probably Chicago or Minneapolis!!

September 18, 2017
Julie Moffit Ballet School // 6:45-9:15 PM
2625 N 1000 W
Pleasant View, Utah, 84414
Intermediate/Advance
Only 5 spots left!!
(call to register, $30)
(801) 786-1254

September 19, 2017 // 4:30-6:30 PM (earlier private lessons available) 
Davis Dance Academy
338 N Main Street
Kaysville, Utah, 84037
Intermediate/Advance
(call to register, $30 contact studio to register)
(801) 444-3535

If you are interested in privates @ Davis Dance Academy on September 19, 2017 please contact me ASAP // Privates for YAGP coaching, Choreography, Consulting. // If you are interested in privates in SLC Wednesday, September 20, please let me know ASAP. EMAIL ME HERE!!!!

FALL 2017

Don’t forget to check out issue 6!! Click above!!

New Ballet Music!

With the season just beginning, for your ballet teachers out there… if you are tired of your old CDs or you don’t have a pianist… here are some new fun options for ballet class!

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If you aren’t familiar with Soren Bebe, he has a series of ballet CDs that range on the more jazzy side. Each CD also has each track with various tempos so, it can accommodate all levels. (Click here or the picture above to buy via itunes)

For those of you who are teaching ballet at a competition studio there are tons of ways to make ballet class interesting. With all of these ballet pop CDs… you can find top 40 and rock songs to fill your ballet classes. While I’m not the biggest fan… It does keep the kids entertained and they are able to count the music better. Charles Mathews put out his first POP HITS for ballet class while Nate Fifield has put out his third volume that followed his Hollywood Theme Songs. (Don’t forget, to buy, you just have to click the image)

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If you are a LALA Land fan, David Plumpton made a supplemental CD of La La Land tracks. Not a full class, but if you are like me and make new playlists for every class, there are some pretty good tracks to put in! ($11.99 USD)

He also has put out another volume of Ballet goes Rock and Roll. And if you missed his summer album it is all TV show theme songs. ($15.99)

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Don’t forget!! If you are in LA or Orange County this upcoming week!!

A Ballet Education On Tour

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Hello ABE followers! Guess What? I am going on tour… With this hurricane blowing up my plans… literally, the worst pun ever… I’ve decided to be productive and take this show on the road.

Los Angeles, September 11-13, 2017
Privates

Orange County, September 14, 2017
Pacific Dance @ 7:30 PM – 9:00 PM
4880 Irvine Blvd Ste 101
Irvine, CA 92620
p: 714.731.1108
$25 Current PD Students, $40 Open
(Call to pre-register!)

Downtown Los Angeles, September 15, 2017
Downtown Dance & Movement @ 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM
1144 South Hope Street
$30 Pre Register // $40 at the door
Click Here To Pre-Register


Salt Lake City, September 18-20, 2017
TBA

San Jose, September 21-24, 2017
TBA

Minneapolis, September 25-28
TBA

Chicago, September 29- October 1
TBA

A Ballet Education in Los Angeles/Southern Ca

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Hello, Everyone… I will be available for private lessons and master classes starting September 6th through September 18th. For two reasons, One for YAGP coaching, and two to avoid this hurricane mess. I don’t do natural disasters very well. Will be servicing the greater Los Angeles Area!! (Los Angeles, Hollywood, Long Beach, Inland Empire, OC) If you are interested in having me teach at your school or coaching and prep for YAGP, photographer etc… let me know by emailing me! Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram: @aballeteducation

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YEAR 1 … Done.

FALL 2017

Issue 6 Featuring Tegan Chou

6 Issues 1 crazy year. When I started the magazine I was living in California, then Phoenix, and now issue six is published from Charleston. What a crazy whirlwind! But how wonderful! With so many subscribers and followers, we were able to lower the cost of the subscription to the magazine! Which is exciting!

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Still too expensive? Don’t worry, this entire month JOOmag Publishers are giving us 50% off, which means you get 50% off. Just use the coupon code: K0LBKWTVBUL4
Sorry, it is so long! But it is worth it.

This year a Ballet Education has five really big things coming up…
1. A Ballet Education’s YouTube Channel & Tutorials
2. A Ballet Education’s Teacher Workshops
3. A Ballet Education’s Master Class Series
4. A Ballet Education’s A Ballet Magazine getting even bigger
5. A Ballet Network’s great list of clients to work with.


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thug life

 

Period of Adjustment…

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It is that time of year again. For some, you are already back in the studios working, and for others, tomorrow will start the first day of ballet for the 2017-2018 season. Either way, we are getting back into the routine of things. For some, you are starting a new school, a big school, a premiere school. You have left home, moved into the dorms and are ready to start the rest of your life. You think to yourself, “I am one or two steps away from becoming a professional dancer” It is hard adjusting to new environments, this year, I’m doing the same thing. There is a huge period of adjustment. You have to find your groove/routine, decipher how different teachers work, what they want, and how well you respond to them. You have to figure out your rhythm with your new roommate. Things like that.

It’s hard for anyone. Add the stress of being a ballet dancer, the intensity the ballet world brings, and a pinch of homesick and there you have it.

Some tips while adjusting…

  1. Invite your roommate to make dinner together or get dinner together outside of dorm food.
  2. Play a board game.
  3. Use your phone’s note app to write down some things the teacher liked and disliked.
  4. Use that same app to write down any and all corrections you can remember, whether it was directed towards you or not.
  5. Go on a city tour, city guides know a lot.
  6. Facetime home.
  7. Eat healthy foods, drink lots of water, and make sure you are getting enough sleep.

xoxo,
a Ballet Education

 

YAGP KOREA NEEDS OUR HELP

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Photos Courtesy of YAGP KOREA

When American Ballet Theatre Principal, Hee Seo calls, you answer…

It is that time of year again, dancers from around the world are getting ready for the internationally acclaimed Youth America Grand Prix. But, the YAGP Korea is funded by the Hee Seo Foundation. The Hee Seo foundation was established in 2015 to discover and trained talented dancers to increase exposure and participants of ballet through international exchanges, and to implement various culture and arts related projects. YAGP Korea is the first project by the Hee Seo Foundation, providing various opportunities to students. As we all know the YAGP brings prominent teachers from the best ballet schools together for a chance for young students to win scholarships to study abroad and deepen their dance education. Additionally, the Hee Seo Foundation also introduced the Hee Seo Foundation Ballet, a master class series for all age groups interested in ballet.  If you don’t remember, ballet in Korea is not easy, especially for young men. If they don’t finish first or second at an international competition, they are required to serve time to the army, basically derailing their ballet career. So, with a month or so to go, the foundation is short $8,000. If you are in a position to financially help the Hee Seo Foundation please do. You can donate via paypal by clicking here.

A Note From Hee Seo:

“Greetings. I am ballerina Seo Hee, President of the Hee Seo foundation. Establishing an incorporated association was an uneasy yet slow task for me as a professional dancer. However, the opportunity of a contribution was a noble privilege for me which enriched my life and made me even happier than before. I ask for your kind support in achieving the grand dream of one major foundation. Thank you very much.”

Follow their story on Instagram @YAGP_KOREA

 

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Days 1, 2 & 3 at ANB

It has been a whirlwind… A very chaotic whirlwind to get to American National Ballet, but I am here. Things are moving so fast for being a new company. SOOO fast. I arrived at the airport and because my flight was delayed I was immediately picked up, I had to leave my luggage behind and whisked away to work. Sooo, that was Saturday… I worked into the night Saturday, all day Sunday. Sunday consisted of photographing American National Ballet Principal Kara Zimmerman. Day 3, today consisted of a 13-hour workday and running around like a crazy person. Seriously there is so much work, but it is so exciting. As I am planning the trainee school year I am super stoked. Amazing and beautiful talented students are coming to train with me and I am truly humbled and excited to work with them. I only have 1 girl spot left and 2 boy spots left. So if you want to come train with me and the American National Ballet, don’t forget to email dking@americannationalballet.org kara 16

What am I looking for in Video Auditions…

Here is what I am looking for in video submissions for all ages:

15+ (Pre Pro Trainee Program) =  do the full video en pointe

Clean Pliés / Full potential or maximum rotation /  coordinated port de bras with eyeliner

Tendus / fully turned out, maximum range of motion / please see my notes on tendu

Dégagés / see above

Pas de cheval / articulation of the foot and accent

Rond de Jambes / Turnout coordination from the hips

Adagio / Adage / height, musicality, and the underside of the leg working

Center:

Adagio / Strength and coordination … preferably with a developpé side, a ronverse, and penché
Pirouettes: triples outside, inside, double attitude en dedan

Petit Allegro: with beats, full thigh crossing

Grand Allegro: fully split sautéchat, tour jete/entrelace,

Boys: clean double tours,

What am I looking for? Clean technique, working from the backside of your legs, strong turnout, good feet, hypermobility, elongated backs and necks, relaxed shoulders, musicality, timing, precision of technique, potential and ability…. preferably on the taller side of life, but open to all. ANB’s corps varies but on the taller side compared to most companies.

Ages 11-14: I am looking for kids with the potential to learn, clean technique, and have a natural gift towards music. I am looking for students who have the potential to grow at ANBC and eventually into ANB dancers. If you don’t know how to use the backs of your legs or facilitate your turn out perfectly, it’s okay… I will teach you. I want to see you move… I want to see your body in action, hopefully you are flexible.

Ages 10 and under: strong facility, flexibility, proportionate for their age.