Daily Ballet Vocab: Tendu Pour le Pied

Daily Ballet Vocabulary: Tendu Pour Le Pied

Battement Tendu Relevé (battement stretched and raised) or Battement Tendu Pour le Pied (Battement stretch for the foot) or Tendu Pour le Pied (tendu for the foot):

This is one of my favorite steps to give as a teacher, it really helps develop the foot in every capacity. It works the instep, it works the actual shape of the pointed foot, it works the articulation it works just about everything, and it is a killer for the inner thighs. Don’t confuse this with double tendu because it is not the same. Well, unless you are Soviet-Vaganova trained, then it is the same thing. This step can be done to the front or back, but most commonly it is done to the side or in a la seconde, and it can also be done with dégagé. Okay, let’s just get to it and break down this step:

  1. Starting in fifth position, the working leg will brush to second with a strong tendu position. 
  2. Then, using the instep and the inner thigh, you will lower the heel forward as far as you can by rotating from the inner thigh. The minute the heel touches you will spring the instep and the toes back to a super strong pointed foot.
  3. You can double it up, which means you will drop the heel twice before closing fifth. Usually when closing, you will close opposite of where you started. So if you did the tendu starting with the right leg in front, it will usually finish back.

When I teach I use this step a lot because it teaches the kids to lower with their heel fully forward, and that I can see how much natural rotation a student has right away. I also like to give this step a lot in “pre-pointe” class so that students are able to work the foot and toes quite a bit. Finally, I love to give this step because it is such a nice way to really feel the inner thighs connect as you lower; maintaining the rotation on both the working and supporting leg at all times. 

Things to look out for:

Don’t force the ankle forward by pushing weight into it. You are going to want to make sure that the weight stays on the supporting leg.

To the side the working hip will slightly drop while the supporting leg works double time.

If you do this step to the front and back, there might be loss of a neutral pelvis for those dancers who aren’t strong enough to rotate on two legs, so avoid giving this to young dancers. 

Maintain that the weight stays over the supporting foot to make the working leg the longest and the most beautiful shape possible. 

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How to get the most out of Virtual Training…

How do you get the most out of Virtual Training?

In a single week, the world of Ballet turned upside down. While there were some programs ahead of the virtual curve (like CLI studios and Veyette Virtual Ballet School), most studios right now are struggling to keep up with the virtual demand. And while I don’t believe that virtual training can compare to time inside a studio, there is a lot of misguided assumptions happening around Ballet and virtual training. Because Virtual training has become the only source of training, dancers, and parents now thinking that they can virtually train with anyone around the US and that it is a cheaper, more affordable, more productive use of time… This is all sadly wrong. Nothing can compare to that one on one time and attention to detail inside a studio, but I’m not here to say that we should all stop training virtually, that would be impossible. What I am here to tell you, is how you can maximize your time and efforts while virtually training Ballet.

Be Prepared.
Before you log in to take a virtual class, make sure you are well prepared before the course starts. Have water nearby, stretch bands, or any other needed items nearby, so you don’t waste time running to your room, searching through your dance bag when a teacher wants you to use an object to enhance the digital learning experience.

Be Equipped.
Please make sure you have the appropriate tech and WiFi before you start a virtual class. For most students out there, you have had to makeshift a dance space and are doing well, but make sure your WiFi is on a 5G network and can stream. If you are not on a strong network, move the quality to a lower Frame Per Second rate.

Be Careful.

For those of you who have had to make do with a dance space, just because you have wood floors in your house doesn’t mean you should be jumping on them. In fact, this is the time not to be jumping. You need to be smart and make sure that when all of this is over, your body is primed and ready to go and jump back into hardcore training. If your floors are not sprung or floating (which most floors in residential homes are not), then avoid jumping. I have seen a lot of kids jumping on tile, and that is just going to ruin your career in the long run, so don’t.

Be Aware.
With digital classes consuming social media right now, it is hard to decide what is a good or bad digital class. That is something that you are going to have to decide on your own. While different teachers have different methods, if more than ten students are taking a Zoom class, the odds of the teacher actually seeing individual corrections is a lot lower than if you only had six screens going at a time. I have seen up to 60 kids in a zoom class, and literally, at that point, you might as well do a Livestream follow along.

Be Generous.
Make sure you are paying your teacher, or if it is a free class, see if they are taking donations. A lot of dancers right now are being forced into teaching ballet because that is all they can do to make money from home. For most of these high profiled dancers, dancing is all they know, and they are struggling financially, as most ballet companies have been forced to close their entire season. Make sure you are doing your part, regardless of it being a free service or a free live stream, a lot of these artists are doing it in hopes to book private lessons or get donations to survive.

Be Patient.
All of Ballet has slowed down. For a lot of you, you were training 18+ hours a week and preparing for major competitions. Now, you are lucky to clock in 5 hours, you don’t jump or turn anymore, and all of that hard work you prepared for, all of the time you spent this season, seems to be wasted and frivolous. But, just be patient. All of ballet has stopped. Everyone around the world is trying to figure out what is going to happen next, what summer courses will look like, and what the next step is going to be. You are not alone, everyone, teachers, students, professionals, costume makers, lighting designers, stagehands, everyone is wondering what is going to happen next.

Finally, virtual training, in my opinon, can not replace actual training. For those of you who are asking to now virtually train or have teachers live cast classes in, it is not a balanced way of teaching. It is not how ballet needs to be digested, to be learned, or to be experienced. But otherwise, this is a great temporary fix for the world of dance.

THE BALLET CLINIC

EXCLUSIVE & ELITE TRAINING FOR YOUNG BALLET DANCERS

Need Ballet Class?

Tomorrow from 4:00-6:00 PM (Arizona time) we will be broadcasting our class live on Instagram if you want to follow along. We will obviously not be able to correct you, but we can definitely remind you of super helpful tips, important things to focus on and more.

Is Corona Virus the End of Ballet?

Corona Virus… our best friend. With the recent pressure in the world of academics urging institutions to close down for the next 30 days, ballet is slowly taking suit. The School of American Ballet just announced they will stay closed until April 20. PNB just canceled the rest of their repertory for March, and the school is on hiatus. 

(https://www.pnb.org/aboutpnb/health-update/) 

What does this mean? While most small schools can’t afford to close, neither can most major schools and professional schools (schools attached to companies). We keep waiting for YAGP to cancel the Finals. And we keep waiting for other competitions to follow.

While everyone is encouraging most major cities to self-quarantine in an attempt to stop the spread of the novel virus, it would cripple the world of ballet financially. Well, let’s be honest, with the stock market plunging into doom with little to no hope, most major private or endowment contributions to ballet will end. This means most companies won’t be hiring anytime soon. Not to mention that ticket sales would be non-existent. If we urge ballet schools to cancel their summer intensives and close down for the remainder of the season, we are explicitly saying there will be no new hires for the upcoming season. 

While the virus isn’t to be taken lightly, we need to ensure we understand what we are asking of these major institutions when we ask them to cancel summer courses and refund our money. What we are asking is to bankrupt these organizations for the 2020-2021 season, and possibly all the way into the 2022-2023 season, meaning we understand that there won’t be jobs for those kids right now who are ages 17-20. 

If the world demands that we close schools with over 250 students, we are asking these historic and prestigious companies to lose a large source of their financial stability with both year-round and summer intensive enrollment. Ballet schools support ballet companies, who employ dancers, executive staff, musicians, theater labor and numerous others. So if we are asking these schools to close and cancel, we are creating a substantial financial burden and deficit for these non-profit arts organizations.

The spreading of this virus isn’t to be taken lightly. I’m not saying go out and stock up for the apocalypse, but watching and hearing the stories from Italy are heartbreaking.

So if the world demands that we close summer courses and pull performances, we are going to have to shift our focus to figuring out ways on how to help ballet recover financially and supporting those kids who no longer will be candidates for jobs. This would mean that the generation ages 14 and under, would be the next group to have stable employment in ballet. We are asking to look over an entire group of kids for the sake of the spreading or further mutations of the virus. 

Even watching my students who were slated to go to Royal Ballet’s Spring Intensive have their dreams crushed this morning was tough. But obviously, the ramifications of this is more important. As the news keeps reporting rising cases, creating fear and concern among parents, dancers, and the ballet community at large, I keep asking myself… why are we still hosting competitions that are encouraging travel in general? 

So, if parents really want to cancel summer intensives, or they want these institutions to cancel, for the sake of health, safety, and concern of all, we do have to realize there are substantial ramifications to this. 

With ballet schools in the Seattle area closing, academic institutions closing, does this translate that smaller private schools will need to do the same? With the lack of training, or the lack of incoming tuition coming in, will it ultimately bankrupt these dance studios as well? 

Please be careful when you are asking these major institutions for your money back, because it means we are asking to bankrupt ballet. PNB is asking ticket holders to donate their tickets as a way to keep the ballet company running.

Just remember, that ballet is a fragile ecosystem, and if one part of it shuts down, the entire ecosystem collapses.

Interesting read: Ballet after WWII : https://www.britannica.com/art/ballet/Ballet-after-1945

Royal Ballet School Cancels Spring Intensive & Other News

As the World Health Organization just announces that the COVID-19 VIRUS is officially a pandemic, the Royal Ballet School cancels its Spring Intensive, just days before international students are set to leave to self-quarantine leaving dozens of hopeful young dancers devastated. This is just a day behind many Ivy League Universities closing for the rest of the year.

Meanwhile, with Italy’s mandatory shutdown, students in Italy are left without ballet until at least April 4. Teachers across the world are now posting home videos to help teach their students.

How has the Corona Virus affected Ballet?

These days we can’t scroll on any form of social media or even have a conversation without somehow involving the novel Corona Virus (COVID-19). The fear and panic of this new outbreak are causing the ballet world to shift slightly. This week, some of you probably got off the waitlist to summer courses, others might have withdrawn from summer intensive, and it seems that all plans are halting.

While major competitions like YAGP FINALS and ADC IBC sent emails out saying they plan on continuing with the competition, the news is saying otherwise. The fear has taken over countries, and is crippling economies, but what does this mean for ballet?

Friday night, the city of San Francisco closed the San Francisco Ballet’s run of Midsummers. This is just on the heels of SFB having to pull their Liam Scarlett program. This means the ballet company is going to be losing out on a ton of money and will make it harder to employ more dancers for the upcoming season.
https://www.sfballet.org/a-message-regarding-the-covid-19-virus/

A lot of major schools are now facing students from abroad withdrawing from a summer course, and it isn’t just foreigners. A lot of dance families across the US are now questioning whether or not they should be attending a summer course. So, students are pulling out, this will create more of a financial toll on these schools, especially those affiliated with companies.

Right now, the big question on everyone’s mind is whether or not YAGP will be canceling their finals after New Rochelle was just quarantined and is now a containment area. YAGP’s latest statement (https://yagp.org) is that plan to continue to monitor the virus and listen to public officials about travel and large gatherings. NY and NJ just declared a State of emergency.
https://www.wsj.com/articles/containment-area-planned-for-new-york-suburb-to-stem-coronavirus-spread-11583858117

ADC IBC plans to continue their competition in March, as they sent out a release saying that the facilities are constantly going to be cleaned, and they are providing larger warm-up spaces so that the dancers won’t be around each other. The competition now has a live updates page: https://www.adcibc.com/get-updated

While Costco and Amazon and all of these other companies are under fire, and people are going into full-blown panic mode, we have to wonder what is going to be happening with Ballet?

It seems that this outbreak is now a part of our lives, and as it continues to progress throughout the world, we now have to think about our priorities. While I think it is important to continue on with our daily lives, we do need to be more cautious when it comes to physically correcting students; making sure we enforce if your child seems sick (Corona or not) you will want to stay home; making sure we wipe down the barres constantly with Clorox wipes, etc etc etc. Now we need to weigh in on the pros and cons of travel. Right now, with all of these containment zones being sanctioned, we ask ourselves, “If we were to travel, will we get stuck?”

Myself included, I was supposed to see Boston Ballet perform their Carmen and Serenade program, but now I find myself questioning whether or not I will make it home. Airlines are already canceling and refunding trips to Europe (personal experience), and when booking flights, they now have warnings that these flights aren’t guaranteed to happen.

For me, my biggest concern is how this is going to affect the economy and the luxury that is ballet. With now having to avoid crowds, ticket sales will probably start to tank, and the luxury of watching live ballet is now a risk. With people withdrawing from summer course and companies having to shut down programs, the financial strains are going to grow, which means there might not be jobs over the next year or so for young dancers coming up. This means as a teacher, trying to find work for my kids, or whether or not there is even money out there for them, is concerning, especially since they pay a lot to train.

So, for now, wash your hands, don’t touch your face, avoid large crowds, and if you are feeling sick with even the cold, stay home so that you don’t compromise your immune system even more. And for those of you extra cautious, make sure you are keeping up with your supplements and probiotics. If you are wondering whether or not you should compete, or that you have already paid and you want to withdraw, these are all huge concerns are ballet is a financial strain. Most likely, in the event of cancellation they will credit your money to next year, just because most major institutions in the arts right now can’t afford a financial loss.

Ballet News

If you are just waking up this Sunday morning, and just catching up with social media, here are some things you missed. I hate to be the one to keep talking about the Corona Virus (COVID-19), but this virus is now taking on the ballet world.

Joseph Walsh, top, and Esteban Hernandez dazzled in San Francisco Ballet’s production of Balanchine’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” (Courtesy Erik Tomasson)

The City of San Francisco has shut down the Opera House till March 20. This meant that opening night was also the closing night of San Francisco Ballet’s Midsummer’s Night’s Dream. What does this mean? Besides losing out on ticket sales, San Francisco Ballet already had to redo a program because of the Liam Scarlett scandal, so it probably means the SFB will need a major financial restructuring for the upcoming season. SFB’s Press Release: https://www.sfballet.org/a-message-regarding-the-covid-19-virus/

Hallberg rehearsing Sleeping Beauty with Amber Scott at The Australian Ballet in 2017 | Kate Longley, Courtesy The Australian Ballet

Ballet Superstar David Hallberg is going to be replacing David McAllister as Artistic Director at the Australian Ballet. Read his interview with Dance Magazine here: https://www.dancemagazine.com/david-hallberg-the-australian-ballet-2645407627.html

We lost a ballet superstar, Danny Tidwell. A lot of people know him from SYTYCD, season 3 or Travis Wall’s older brother. But, Danny was a ballet star in his own right. Danny finished second at the Shanghai IBC, as well as the Silver Medal at the USA IBC Jackson Competition. After his win, he joined ABT Studio Company, and then signed his corps de ballet contract in 2003. In 2010 he signed as a soloist for Norwegian National Ballet. Danny passed away from a car accident and survived by his husband, his mom and family; he was only 35. Read his tribute here: https://www.eonline.com/news/1129135/danny-tidwell-s-husband-shares-a-touching-tribute-after-dancer-s-tragic-death

Issue 18
Issue 18 of A Ballet Magazine focuses on common injuries that plague dancershttp://www.aballetmagazine.com
ALEXANDER IZILIAEV

Pennsylvania Ballet’s Artistic Director, Angel Corella’s La Bayadere was highly publicized for his new rendition, taking out stereotypes and orientalism, but it premiered and the critics have spoken in. Unfortunately, it failed to do what it had promised to live up to, but it was a step in the right direction. Read the review here: https://www.inquirer.com/arts/pennsylvania-ballet-la-bayadere-dancers-stereotypes-angel-corella-20200306.html

Pointe magazine caught up with National Ballet of Canada’s Greta Hodgkinson before she retired last night. She has been dancing with the company for 30 years. You can read her full interview here: https://www.pointemagazine.com/greta-hodgkinson-ballet-retirement-2645384613.html?rebelltitem=5#rebelltitem5

Photo courtesy of Gene Schiavone/ABT
Chaereas (Aran Bell) and Callirhoe (Catherine Hurlin) celebrate their wedding in American Ballet Theatre’s world premiere of Alexei Ratmansky’s “Of Love and Rage.”

ABT’s “Of Love and Rage” premiered at Segerstrom Center this week. Like most of their ballets, they premiere on the West Coast before it opens at the Met. Here they usually test upcoming dancers, like when Misty Copeland debuted in the Firebird. This premiere included the young stars Catherine Hurlin and Aran Bell. The ballet is based on a 2000 year old story, from an early novel called “Callirhoe.”

I started doing photography again, here is Tegan Chou for The Ballet Clinic.

OUTSTANDING TEACHER OF THE YEAR: MariaElena Ruiz

YAGP'S OUTSTANDING TEACHER

MARIAELENA RUIZ

"Mariaelena Ruiz was not only one of the best teachers I ever had but also a great mentor. She helped me excel in life, not only in ballet. She made me realize my potential and did not let me rely on what I had but made me work on what I didn’t. I will forever be grateful to Mariaelena and everything she has done for me."
Beckanne Sisk
Principal Dancer with Ballet West
(photos courtesy Brooke Meyer Photography)

Derek Dunn, Beckanne Sisk, Michaela DePrince, Taylor Ciampi. Rachel Richardson. Gabe Stone Shayer. These are just some of the names that are associated with the Youth America Grand Prix’s Outstanding Teacher Award— Mariaelena Ruiz. This amazingly talented coach is now a part of Cary Ballet Conservatory and has built a program to rival most professional schools in a matter of five years. This amazing teacher also had an amazing career. At fourteen she joined Ballet Nacional de Caracas, the ballet company in Venezuela. She also placed 3rd in the Junior Division at the USAIBC Jackson competition where she won her scholarship to the School of American Ballet. She also won best pas de deux, and 3rd place senior division at Varna and then won at the Prix Volinine. And that is just her background in dance. In 2000 she started teaching at the Rock School for Dance Education where she coached and mentored now some of the world’s top dancers. In 2015 she left the Rock School and started her own program at Cary. 

A Ballet Education had a chance to catch up with this in demand teacher and get some insight into her mind. 

What makes a good ballet student?
There are many aspects that create a good ballet student. The most important to me are hard work, discipline, willingness to change, and the ability to listen to the corrections and advice of teachers/coaches

What are some of the qualities you look for In potential students?
I look at physical ability and talent, of course, but I always look at dancers’ eyes and see whats there; how much do they want it.

As a teacher, what inspires you?
Music inspires me. Also, seeing a student have an “ah-ha” moment and finally get something that we had been working on for a long time is wonderful.

What is your favorite thing to teach? 
My students will laugh when they read this 🙂 I love chasse preparation into double en dedan pirouettes, also en dedan en dehors pirouettes without coming down. But, mostly I love breaking down a variation or a combination technically and coaching it, working every single step from its preparation all the way to the end.

What are your pet peeves when it comes to “classical” ballet technique
Sickled feet are an issue for me because it’s usually a result of and underlying problem and it translates or comes from bad alignment as you are leaving the floor. Also, I like versatile students that can move from style to style so I am not fond of schools that teach the dancers that there’s only one way.

What are 3 variations you disapprove of seeing at Yagp? 
I think it is important to give the dancers challenging variations that can help them improve but also that are appropriate for their age and where they are in their development.  There are exceptions to the rule but I usually disagree with Odette, Odile, and Gamzatti Red ( Makarova version). Those 3 have to be done so well and require certain maturity and experience that I am hesitant to see a student do them.

What is the future at Cary Ballet Conservatory and what do you want to see as the Professional Training Program director and co-owner of the school?
Everyone keeps asking about this being such big bold move on my part. 

Co-owning a school, creating and directing a Professional Program from scratch specially one of this magnitude and caliber that has placed these many dancers in professional companies and has gotten this much attention and results in record time, has not been easy. I would like to see my vision for this program continue to be fulfilled. I want every program and aspect of the Conservatory to be successful and have cohesive training, leadership and great results. I want everyone to understand that no matter if you are going to be a recreational dancer, a professional dancer or the next big exec at a fortune 500 company, the discipline and commitment taught in this art form will give you an edge over everyone else. I would like to continue to inspire people through great training in the art of classical ballet. 

FOLLOW MARIAELENA!

Mariaelena Ruiz
www.mariaelenaruiz.com

Professional Training Program Director
Cary Ballet Conservatory
Artistic Director Cary Ballet Company

www.caryballet.com
www.caryballetcompany.org

10 Great Ballet Christmas Gifts

Holidays always bring the panic and stress of what to get a dancer or dance teacher. This year, we scoped out some great gifts for you! Whether it is for a young dancer or your favorite dance teacher here are 10 great things for everyone in ballet!

  1. Petit Pas NYC is a super cute brand that takes pointe shoes and recycles them into jewelry and other gifts. These gifts range between $30-$60, and are super adorable.

2. For all of those stressed-out teachers, and parents, and for the students that enjoy tea, TEALEAVES has created an entire Nutcracker Tea Collection including a black tea called the Nutcracker, Organic Sugar Plum Fairy (Rooibos), and it comes in so many cute gift sets. The prices range from $6-$68.

3. Lolita Nutcracker Faced handpainted wine glasses from Hallmark. These cute wine glasses make a great gift for teachers. $60

4. This Nutcracker China Mug is part of a super beautiful Christmas Dinner set. I mean if you really like your teacher you could get an entire table setting for $500. This set was made by Prouna and can be purchased here.

5. A Rhinestone Ballerina Keychain from Z Gallerie $14.00 or a ballerina snow globe for $17. These are great little additions to any gift.

6. Another great gift is this Nutcracker Ballet Tote Back by Andrea Lauren Design. Available on Society 6 for $25.00

7. Any set of Legwarmers from Rubiawear! This brand has become the standard leg warmer for almost everyone in ballet. Shop it in soft cobble to match A Ballet Education’s the Ballet Clinic or get it in super cute colors and prints.

8. Any gift from Cloud and Victory would be welcomed. This super punny- trendy brand is known for their memes and hilarious content.

9. For those of you who want to spend a little more, “Clara and the Nutcracker” Musical Egg is 22 K gold scroll-work and has 100 gems in a Faberge style musical box. Created by the Bradford Exchange, this gift runs about $70.

10. And finally, there are tons of cute gifts from Ballet Papier. But you might have to pay for rush shipping for this brand.

Apologies…

Apparently, I have upset some parents because I was harsh on students when I said, “Fell Flat.” Or that I don’t have control over casting nor do I know how SFBS chooses their leads and trainees. Apparently, we are no longer critiquing children, nor should we judge them at a competition, or saying whether things are right or wrong. These are probably the same parents who are slamming Misty Copeland for her recent post about a student in Russia. I apologize to those four dancers who I singled out, and I am sorry to their parents if I offended our insulted you. I really am, I don’t want you to think your dancers are bad. And in fact, I never said anyone was bad. In fact, I commended almost everyone’s technique and even said SFB is one, if not the best school in the country. So good for you having your student there.

Here is what I will say though… Push harder, work smarter, and know that ballet at the end of the day is completely subjective. While the fundamentals of ballet, like feet, turnout, lines, extensions, are black and white, the view on artistry is completely subjective and I am one opinion. Seriously, I am not offering you a job, nor can I, so my opinion about how you dance or interpret the dancing isn’t really consequential. There are a lot of principal dancers I am not a fan of, and there are a lot of dancers I love, and a lot of people hate. At the end of the day, kids or professionals, competition or performance… how you are ranked, and how you place, or who likes you and dislikes you doesn’t really matter. What matters is you inspire a director to take you on and for someone to give you a job. It is like finding the right coach for you, or the right teacher, or the right school. As long as you catch that one person’s attention, you are set.

And yes, I do know that this was a student showcase, and it was a showcase that could outdance a lot of regional companies. The caliber of students at the school is so exceptionally high, that I even came back to my school and was told the kids, “Wow. You have so far to go compared to SFBS.” The standard that SFBS represents is so high and so strong that most of these kids will end up in a professional company, which is why their graduation rate is 100%.

So, I took the post down, and for those who were beyond exemplary, and who moved me and my partner (non-ballet person): amazing for inspiring two people in the audience. And we are now fans. For those of you who I offended, I am formally apologizing and I hope you all land exquisite jobs and can look back and say, “I’m on top. Proved him wrong.”

Notes on Saut de Chat…

Notes on Saut de Chat

For most people in ballet, you might already know the difference between a grand jeté and a saut de chat, but if you don’t know it. Here it is: A saut de chat leads with a développé where a grand jeté is usually done with a grand battement. The next point of difference to talk about is whether to call it a saut de chat or a grand pas de chat. Many Russians will refer to the step as a grand pas de chat, well most of Europe refers to it as that. Saut de Chat is more commonly used in America for this step. 

To break it down by translation, Saut de Chat means jump of the cat, where Grand Pas de Chat is translated as big step of the cat. Either way, the step is the same and the mechanics are the same. The idea is to push off into the air from one leg, hitting a full split or a 180° degree or more line, transferring the weight in the air, and landing on the opposite leg you pushed off of.

So, let’s get into it and start breaking down this iconic grand allegro step.

a. I think the most important part of a saut de chat is to make sure that the preparation is aligned and placed properly. Make sure that the support leg (leg pushing off), is aligned hip, knees, toes, pelvis in neutral core forward. You want the energy to be pushing down into the ball of the foot, as that is the energy building up that will set the height and distance of the jump.

b. The next step the energy starts to uncoil from the ballet of the foot, up the leg. Still focusing on pushing down through the leg and the beginning of shaping the back leg. Making sure as we push the ankle and toes really rotate and the femur starts to rotate up and back. Here our working leg will start to move away from our center and start to extend, making sure the knee is being thrust forward and up. 

c. In the next part of the jump, things start to usually go wonky. You want to make sure as the leg disengages from the floor that is lengthens right away and pulls away from the body in a clean line. You want to make sure it is fully rotated and positioned properly. Here is where a lot of young dancers will start to pitch backwards, rather than keep the core scooped and moving the shoulders and head in front of the hip line. By now you should be gaged so that you are almost at a full take off. 

d. Right before you are at the height of the jump, meaning your hips are the furthest from the ground possible, you will open the développé and fully extend the back leg to arabesque at the same rate, and ascending into the full split at the height of the jump.

e. Nowadays it isn’t uncommon to be expected to hit an overspilt in the air. A lot of things usually go wrong trying to get into the oversplit. Things like, stressing out the hips, or being too arched, or the fact that the pelvis is tipped forward so much that the front leg can’t get up. For me as a ballet teacher, I like to tell the kids the start of the overspilt should be at the apex of the jump, but the extreme overspilt is on the descent of the jump. Meaning, your legs are strong enough to stay up and they keep extending, while your hips relax and start to descend. Your pelvis in neutral is key here. If they are swayed, the front leg won’t overspilt and you become more of a diagonal line, and if your hips are tucked, the front leg will go up, but the back legs strains in the socket. 

f. Making sure you aren’t arched is super crucial, so that none of the impact of the jump goes into your back, especially your lower back. You want to make sure the weight is forward, and as you descend you are bringing your front leg in quickly while the back leg maintains the integrity of an arabesque. Bringing your foot in, and relaxing the knee is important. Keep your sight or eye-line up so that the audience still feels you are in the air for longer than you are. But bring the foot in slightly so that when you land (your hips will catch up to the distance of your foot), you are aligned.

g. Make sure your hips are up, and you are lifted creates the important task of rolling through. Making sure you are aligned hips over arch is important, and make sure your knee is in the same plane is CRUCIAL. By landing this way, you are able to properly roll down, hips in neutral and placed accordingly. 

So, all of these things sound easy, but the major problem is figuring out how to accomplish all of this in a matter of a second or less. I think the most important thing to focus is on alignment and placement. A lot of young dancers have two major tendencies that can cause major injuries in the knees and back. The first one is that the alignment of the back is compromised by arching back super hard, or swaying back super hard. This creates a severe S curve, and strains the hip tendons and ligaments in the back leg. Once they are swayed and the core disengages, the arms usually end up too far back and the body is splayed like a bird. Additionally, when they land their weight is either in their heel or knee, and the descent is rough to watch. The second issue among young dancers is I find that they have a hard time jumping in a single plane. The common one I see the most is opening and twisting the back hip open so that the back leg can come up, and they look turned out, even though they are in an a la sebesque or secabesque position, or they can’t keep their working leg/throwing leg in front of their belly button/axis and they somehow open up outside of their shoulder line. This not only stresses the hips out, but it also visually shortens the line. 

Saut de chats can be done with every port de bras (arms) possible. The most common is to hit the third elongated position or third arabesque line. The issue again is that most dancers don’t know that their wrists should be slightly crossed visually from the top. 

So what are some things we do at The Ballet Clinic to help improve the jump? There is a lot of one footed jumps to strengthen and practice pushing down into the floor to push off. We also work an quicker and stronger développés combined with grand battements to help hold the turnout and work on the line. We also focus a lot of descending through the legs properly. 

Hope that all helped!

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

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.