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 This week, some of you probably got off the waitlist to summer courses, others might have withdrawn from summer intensive, and it seems that all plans are halting.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.

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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.

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.

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. 

Adaire Binder from The Ballet Clinic, working on her saut de chat.

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!

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 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!

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

Train with A Ballet Education this Summer

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

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

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

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

ISSUE 15

A BALLET EDUCATION
ISSUE 15

ISSUE 15

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

Read It On Joo Mag

IN THIS ISSUE

David King

Founder & Editor-in-Chief

JoLee Photography

Cover Photographer

Ashley Baker

Contributing Editor & photographer

Promotions

Congratulations!

Ballet is always changing, and companies are these living, breathing, organisms made up of individuals with unique personalities and their own stories. And then, every once in a while, one of those individuals stands out just a little more than the rest, and then like a dream come true: you are promoted.

So, let’s take some time and acknowledge some of the amazing promotions that have happened for the upcoming 2019-2020 season. Starting with the San Francisco Ballet under Helgi Tomasson: three amazing promotions happened. Esteban Hernandez has been promoted to principal dancer; and Madison Keesler Cavan Conley were promoted to soloist.

Miami City Ballet under Lourdes Lopez announced their largest roster with the addition of ten dancers bringing their company number to 53. Promotions include Alexander Peters being promoted to Principal; and Emily Bromberg, Shimon Ito, and Chase Swatosh were promoted to principal soloists. But that might not be Miami’s BIG NEWS. Their big news announced that Carlos Quenedit returning to Miami City Ballet, YouTuber, Kathryn Morgan will be joining as a soloist, and Principal Dancer from Los Angeles Ballet, Bianca Bulle is taking a step down to join the corps de ballet at Miami. (It seems to be a trend to move from Los Angeles Ballet to Miami City) 

Photo: Alexander Peters

Boston Ballet Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen announces sevendancer promotions for the 2019–2020 season. Second Soloists Chyrstyn Fentroy, Lawrence Rines,  and Addie Tapp have been promoted to the rank of s oloist.  Artists María Álvarez, DawnAtkins, Emily Entingh, and Matthew Slattery have been promoted to second soloists.

Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr has promoted two corps de ballet dancers to the rank of soloist for Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s 50th Anniversary Season, which runs from October 2019 to May 2020.

Dancers Marisa Grywalski of Columbus, Ohio and Corey Bourbonniere of Woonsocket, Rhode Island, will begin their first mainstage season as soloists this fall with PBT’s 50th Anniversary Season opener Giselle, on stage Oct. 25-27 at the Benedum Center.

Houston Ballet announces Artistic Director Stanton Welch AM has promoted Nozomi Iijima to the rank of Principal. Formerly a First Soloist, Iijima has been promoted after she ferociously danced the title role in Sylvia. This well-deserved promotion adds to the continued excitement of Houston Ballet’s whirlwind of spring productions during its 2018/19 season. 

The Top Ten Ballet Schools (2018)

Summer is ending, which means it is time to take a look at the BIG TEN issue. This issue features American Ballet Theatre’s Hee Seo and her foundation’s work of the YAGP KOREA. In this issue we will take a look at Ballet Ivy Leagues, the Top Ten Ballet Schools, and some of the best ballet schools you should consider for the 2018-2019 season. Hee Seo

Subscriptions to the magazine are run through the publisher JooMag, if there are issues with subscribing, please contact Joo Mag.

So, you really want to know who made the BIG TEN list…
Please Subscribe to the Magazine by Clicking Here…

Ivy League of Ballet

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보스턴발레에서 활약 중인 한서혜 @seohyehan 채지영. @dancechae 두 무용수 모두 YAGP 출신인거 알고 계세요? 올해 보스턴 발레의 Peter Stark 선생님께서 한국에 오셔 10명 정도의 썸머스쿨 장학생을 뽑으실 예정 이라는데 ✅8/17-8/19 YAGP Korea에서 그 기회를 놓치지 마세요!! ✅ 참여방법 및 신청은 heeseofoundation.org ✅프로필 링크 클릭!! 마스터 클라스 초급반 😂 @yagp @hee_seo_foundation _ #발레 #사단법인서희 #장학재단 #발레리나 #발레콩쿨 #국제콩쿨 #무용 #무용콩쿨 #장학금 #유학 #발레리나서희 #HSF #HeeSeoFoundation #YAGP #YAGPKOREA #Ballet #Competition #HeeSeo #KoreanBallet #Scholarships #BalletSchool #BalletCompany #발레학교 #발레학교입학기회 #해외진출 #해외발레 #프로발레단 #프로발레단등용문 #발레단

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신청접수 하셨나요? ✅링크를 클릭 하시면 신청접수 페이지로 바로 연결 됩니다!! #Repost @heeseoabt with @get_repost ・・・ Some of you may know that I Founded a Foundation @hee_seo_foundation to help nurture young talent back in my hometown Seoul, Korea. Establishing and running this non-profit foundation was not easy as a full time dancer but was indeed one of the most fulfilling and meaningful indulgence one could hope to experience. And I’m proud to open our 3rd season 👍🏻🔥Masterclass + member’s program + scholarships + YAGP Korea and more.. Thank you those who support small foundations big dreams!! @yagp @hee_seo_foundation

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To Donate to the Hee Seo Foundation Click here

Beware of the Monsters…

The show Dance Moms portrayed some of the craziest, over the top, and outrageous personalities in competitive commercial dance, but that show has nothing on the real-life world of ballet schools.

ballet moms

Recently, my heart has been heavy as Kate Spade, a long time fashion icon committed suicide, leaving a lot of my colleagues at a loss for words. Over the past decade, three major fashion icons have taken their own lives. Then just days later, food legend and TV host Anthony Bourdain took his own life. Brilliant humans, experts in their fields, and role models for millions, all happened to be pushed to a point where they felt that it wasn’t worth it anymore.

I started doing some googling about the rates of suicides in ballet dancers, and even though there was not a lot of hard hitting solid statistical data, the number of articles was very upsetting. The most noted dancer who committed suicide was a 29-year-old lead dancer with the New York City Ballet, Joseph Duell in 1986 after performing in Symphony in C, and rehearsing Who Cares? But, he wasn’t the only one, Juan Carlos Amy-Cordero a principal with Eugene Ballet took his life in 2013, Tallulah Wilson was 15 when she took her life in 2014, in 2012 it was Rosie Whitaker, and the articles went on and on.

When it comes to suicide and the arts… Suicide among gifted individuals is at a higher rate. This might be because those who are gifted have an increased rate of depression, mania and mental illness. We do know, that history has repeated itself over in over again with some of the most gifted individuals contributing to the arts over time. But as I was pouring over the research and articles about these dancers, I started noticing that everyone was talking about the same thing from different points of view.

In articles that I read about why dancers make better employees, or they are going to be more successful in competitive industries… these same characteristics that are praised in these viral posts are the same characteristics that described those who committed suicide: dedication, perfectionism, creativity, representation, thinking outside of the box, OCD. At the same time in 2008, ABC reported ten jobs that create so much pain, that the addiction to painkillers was becoming more prevalent, ballet was number 10.

So, how does this all come together? I was scrolling through social media, well more like trolling, and looking at today’s bright young stars as they are competing at the World Ballet Competition and the prestigious USA IBC’s Jackson Competition. I was watching videos of these elite young dancers prepare for this monumental occasion, and liking all of their photos. But then, I started scrolling through the comments. I started looking through everyone’s insta, as if I was obsessed. I was obsessed, I spent a good five hours. More importantly, I was shocked. I was looking at people’s followers, who bought followers as it is obvious to see blank accounts following from foreign countries like Turkey and Albania… I was looking at how parents were letting anyone follow their kid, despite their followers only posting pictures of women in bikinis and underwear… I was looking at the comments and hashtags used… And I was watching the cyberbullying happen in LIVE time. Don’t get me wrong, I have always known that ballerinas in pretty tutus and pretty lip gloss are some of the most vicious kids on the face of the planet. They do it in the backstabbing, underhanded, sneaky, with a smile on their face kind of a way. I have known that ballet moms are ten times worse, because they do things to sabotage other kids. Like what parent picks a fight or tries to mess with a 13-16 year olds’ life/career? A monster.

I was noticing how a lot of these accounts said “parent owned” or “parent monitored”… I was noticing that a lot these accounts were full of fake inspirational quotes and light-hearted things. While their “friendsta” accounts were full of self-degrading “ballet fails” and random tags about how horrible they are, and how much training they need to do. I started to notice that the big trend was this miserable feeling if they can’t turn or jump, or that their bodies were far from perfect. I noticed that these young “superstar” dancers didn’t even run their primary accounts and that these moms were photoshopping their kids. I noticed that they were paying photographers who cost in the hundreds and thousands to take photos of their kids and have them retouched… Their faces to be more symmetrical, their bodies to be leaned out… some people had no shame in the matter and were photoshopping their kids so horrifically that the background happened to be warped. Trust me… I know… as a former professional editor/retoucher for fashion magazines, you can tell when something is retouched.

I was noticing that the pressure of having Instagram followers for young aspiring dancers was killing the spirit of ballet. That kids were trying so hard to desperately gain ambassadorships and sponsorship from major brands like Russian Pointe, Grishko and Gaynor Minden. I was seeing how hard these kids were working to get something as dumb as a box of merchandise and the ability to put “RP Ambassador” on their profile.

I started to notice people were lying about their YAGP wins… Like putting YAGP 2012 winner, but not putting their semi-final, and letting people assume they were winning at the finals. I noticed that people were making up things like YAGP, #7… This, I am guessing is from the TOP 12, which is called alphabetically by either first or last name depending on who organized it. I noticed that people were posting their YAGP semi-final scores to prove they scored above a 95%, and the responses that were being displayed was kind of intense. All of these things were happening, are happening on social media… It is hard enough that I find parents telling their kids it is okay to lie, cheat and break the rules. If your studio says, don’t train anywhere else, but you are training with a private coach behind your school’s back… what example are you setting for your kid? If you are at a studio that says that you can only compete if you are ready, and you are throwing a fit and at the last minute hopping over to a different school and coach… what example does that set? What does it tell your kid about commitment, about trust, about working hard?

All of these things… watching young girls tear other girls down based on body type or ability… Watching their comments, or even overhearing them in these dance schools makes me wonder if ballet is really worth saving. And it isn’t just students… I have seen it over and over again with professional dancers commenting on others performances, teachers, coaches and more. Even myself… Trust me… There are a lot of times where I have to put the lion back in the cage… especially when writing this blog, there are about thirty posts I would like to post but can’t because of how awful they are, or how it could affect someone out there…

So, beware the monsters of ballet. Make sure you aren’t becoming one, make sure you aren’t creating one, make sure you aren’t contributing to this problem in the arts. And remember, if you are ever feeling unsafe, feeling uneasy, or just need someone to talk to about the pressures of ballet, about what is happening around you or anything- contact an adult or a professional as soon as possible. Remember, your feelings are valid, your stress is valid, and life is essential. Ballet is secondary. Ballet is far from necessary in the grander scale of humanity, so ask yourself, is whatever you are feeling or thinking worth it for ballet?

Ask yourself… what are we doing, what examples are we setting, and how is this going to affect your kid, other kids, families, and the future? Because if you ask me, ballet is not worth becoming a terrible human for, nor is it worth watching me kid become defeated or destroyed at the hands of other parents, students, and teachers. I would also say that ballet social media, the YAGP, and ballet competitions are not worth the time, energy, money, stress or anxiety it is creating on social media.

 

What does it take to be a Ballerina?

Ballet is hard, like really hard. The overwhelming stories and information out there is daunting. As parents you only want what is best for your kid, as student your heart is full of passion and desire, as a teacher you just want to be the best mentor possible. Questions like, “What school to go to?” or “Where am I going to dance?” or “Should I compete at the YAGP?” are all questions that are out there. There are arguments on both sides to every question, and important questions like, “How many hours should my student be dancing?” or “What school is best suited for my child?” or “How much should I be posting on social media?”

What does it take to be a ballerina
Behind the Scenes of Issue 11 // Photographed by Me.

So what does it take to be a ballerina in today’s world?

If you asked me five years ago my answer would have sounded something like this, “You need all the right circumstances, but most importantly you need to work hard every day.” It would have been full of hope and inspiration. I would have said, “If you want to be a ballet dancer, and you are willing to put in the hard work, you will find a place to dance.”

But, this isn’t five years ago. This is now, and now more than ever, jobs in ballet are even more scarce and the world is now smaller than ever. And now, my answer might be jaded. But it is time to be honest and truthful. Watching dancers get placed into companies over the past few years, and watching dancers struggle to find work is even more heartbreaking.

To be a dancer in this day in age, the most important thing is you need to have the RIGHT training. Meaning, you have to find a school that is capable of placing you into a company. Before, schools would feed you into schools attached to companies. Now, it is more important to find strong training at a young age, and work hard inside of these schools. Schools that care not just about your technique, but who you become as a person. I don’t think that kids should be going away so young, unless their families are 100% positive their kid is prepared to be a good person. You have to be technically efficient at such a young age now. At thirteen a double pirouette on pointe isn’t good enough anymore. A good school will be able to call up a company or school and be able to get you placed. A good school will teach you proper modified Russian Technique. Unfortunately, Balanchine schools just are not cutting it anymore in the global market. Finally, your coaches need to be able to teach all pedagogies and different approaches. Every student is different and every student will turn differently, jump differently and have a different needs in the studio. (Click here for what makes a good teacher)

You need to have the right body type and proportions. With the influx of dancers out there, you need to have the right body proportions and body type. Proportions in the 9-head range, toned muscle building, and more importantly: long lean muscle building. You need to be naturally thin, and naturally elongated. Your body has to be primed for ballet. There are so many dancers out there, that body type and body proportions are becoming a priority. This isn’t just tall or short- it is about everything. Making sure that your body is the whole package. Bodies that are primed in ballet just naturally progress faster. (read more about body types) More importantly, these body types are becoming more and more common.

You need to have the right kind of facility; hips that are open, feet that point, knees that stretch, backs that are hypermobile.

Your family has to have the right financial circumstances. Ballet is expensive. And until you are ready to go to a tier one school on a full scholarship, you will be paying a very pretty penny. You will be paying for private lessons, Gyro, PT, Cryo, Pilates, Acupuncture, Dietary Restrictions. This also just doesn’t mean throw money at people. As parents you have to do your homework as well, and you have to understand what you are getting yourself into and what is required of your child.

Now, to add to all of that, you have to be musical and an artist. You have to be able to hear the music, feel the ballet, and develop a character. You also have to be able to perform. Perform in the studio and on stage.

Finally, you have to be smart, hardworking and dedicated. Loving ballet isn’t enough.You have to be hardworking, and put 100% into every class, and no matter how hard you work, you can never give up. Tenacity is key. Focus is crucial. Attention to details, the ability to blend into the corps de ballet when needed, and stand out as soloist when asked. You have to have a thick skin, because what people are going to tell you is going to be severe. Other dancers might try to knock you down because they are jealous. Teachers will push you to the breaking point, and not every director is going to like you, or think that you will fit into their school or company.

ballet is hard

But what is the payoff? For some, ballet teaches discipline and structure. Most who study ballet go onto great things because of what you learn in ballet. For some, ballet facilitates them into college. Ballet can open many scholarships and your education can be paid for. For me, it paid for Grad School.  College can lead to producing, executive positions in a ballet company, PR and Marketing and many other things. For some, ballet will become a tool for choreography. And for those who are lucky enough, ballet will lead to a job that actually pays the bills. And for an even luckier few, they will become principal dancers at companies and become a face that inspires the next generation. But it just doesn’t end there. Ballet leads to amazing things- the appreciation for music, for classical arts, and more. It exposes you to different ethnicities, different cultures, different ideas. It gives you discipline, dedication and the ability to find inspiration in monotony.

YAGP COVER 11copy copy
ISSUE 11 >> Read more by clicking above.

Finally, as hard as ballet is, it is the most wonderful thing. It is the combination of music, movement, human emotions, storytelling, fashion design and art coming together to create something that will only exist in that moment. So, as hard as it is to digest, the idea that you might not have what it takes to make it into a ballet company, don’t give up on the art. It is okay to do ballet recreationally, or train seriously, but not have a career. It really does bring the best of art together. It is something that we all should strive for. The essence of the ballet… not the politics of it.


A BALLET EDUCATION SPONSORS & ADVERTISERSrubiawear

 

Celebrating 4 Years!

It has been a long journey, but four years later I am here…

IMG_2109

Four years ago, I never thought that I would be a blogger. I thought I was going to have my career in fashion and teach ballet on the side for fun. In fact, I didn’t want this life at all. After my ballet career ended, I wanted nothing to do with it. Unfortunately, I lost my father, and my world didn’t make sense. But, ballet restores the order of the universe. It is one of the only thing reliable things in the world. You start with left hand at the barre, and do pliés, tendus, and so on.

Now four years later, I am about to finish issue 12 of the magazine, and start the third year. My book, that has taken me two years to write is done, and I am teaching all over the world and have started taking photos of beautiful dancers. So this is my thank you to all of you. Without you, my readers, and my supporters none of this would be possible, so thank you. Truly.

ATLANTA BALLET

international city school of ballet

 

A Ballet Education Scholarship

A Ballet Education has committed/pledged to raise $27,000 dollars in scholarship funds for various organizations including the YAGP Korea, Burbank Dance Academy, the Cirio Collective & helping support kids with the financial aid to attend Summer Intensives and the YAGP. This crowdfunding initiative is to help support the art form that I love with all my heart. This year has been a devastating year for many, as ballet companies and schools are losing money and not giving out as many scholarships as usual. The costs of ballet are skyrocketing and the need to support the ballet is more important, now more than ever. 

For the 2018-2019 Season
YAGP KOREA through the Hee Seo Foundation $3,000
Burbank Dance Academy $1,000
YAGP FINALS FUNDS $10,000
SUMMER INTENSIVE FUNDS $13,000

How am I going to fundraise $27,000 for all these kids/dancers? Simple. All of the proceeds from my books, artwork, and magazine will now be going towards helping dancers across the world. I have been watching, listening, and hearing kids across the world struggle financially at their home studios and then when they are offered the chance to be seen, or have a career, or attend a summer intensive that could actually make their career… they can’t even afford the chance to go. It was hard to watch kids struggling this year at YAGP finals with the costs of everything. Numerous times, I had let kids hop into my UBER or LYFT because I knew it was going to cost them $15 dollars when we were all going to the same place… 

Why am I always helping YAGP KOREA? Because, for these young men, it is important to place at a ballet competition. If they don’t place, they will have to serve two years to the army at the age of 19. Their training will  stop completely, and the odds of them ever returning to ballet are slim. Read more here.

Why am I helping Burbank Dance Academy? Because I have seen, worked in, and observed the intensities of the Los Angeles Ballet Community, and I believe this school under Jason Coosner is creating a healthy and positive presence in the Los Angeles Ballet Community that is desperately needed. 

Think about it this way… 

If you buy 1 grande Starbucks espresso drink a day, that is $1,825 dollars a year- if you just cut back to 5 coffees a week, and donate the rest you would be donating $520 dollars a year. That is a plane ticket for a kid to attend finals, or attend a summer intensive on scholarship. It might be the last amount needed to attend for a student to attend a year round school. That’s 6 pairs of pointe shoes you could be helping a student receive. If you were to not go out and eat once a month, you would be able to donate $1,200. That is almost a full summer intensive fee. It is 12 pairs of pointe shoes. It is the cost of the hotel for YAGP finals. 

How can you help support? Subscribe to the magazine.
Or if you would like to donate, feel free to by clicking here.

Do you need a scholarship? Applications for scholarships will open in December 2018.

Notes of Pirouettes en dedans…

Notes on Pirouettes En Dedans…
how to do an inside pirouette

Working on pirouettes en dedans (pirouettes to the inside) can be hard. While it seems like they are easier than en dehors turns, the problem with en dedans is the turnout factor. Whether is a pirouette or attitude turn to the inside, these can be rather difficult to master because of the mechanics. The like all turns, the focus should always be on the supporting leg, and even more so with turns to the inside. Sooooo, let’s begin. Remember if you like this post, share it.

The Preparation Position
tension for turns
Pirouettes to the inside… the first thing you are going to want to focus on is the prepping position. Normally, when learning this turn you start in fourth position in croisé, with the back leg straight. You want to make sure that the supporting arm is in a very placed first position, don’t over cross it. For the working arm, the big mistake is opening up too far. Makes sure it is in front of your body… meaning look over your shoulder and make sure your elbow and hand are in front of your shoulder. A lot of times, young dancers will over compensate in this position and that supporting arm will be so far back… This also has to do with your hips and making sure they are in a true croisé. Make sure you can see both hips in the mirror. Remember, you are only crossing to you “box” not the shape of the room. 

The Passé
preparation pirouette
The action of getting into the retiré devant can happen two ways. The first way is when the dancer shifts/ fouettés to a dégagé en face position with arms in seconde. The second way is to directly bring the leg into the turning position. While a lot of the torque for the pirouette happens from the working leg, the tension and the inertia that drives the pirouette is still in the supporting leg.

The Arms
arms for pirouettes

During this time the arms are either moving from third to fifth, or second to first, or second to fifth. Or really any port de bras. The reality is they can be in any position, but there has to be a hair amount of tension built up. Weak arms in a turn is a death sentence. You wouldn’t want to fly in a plane with weak wings, so don’t turn with weak arms. Don’t over twist, and don’t wind up. It is one of the worst things you can do. While most of the energy comes from the arm, it isn’t about swinging into the position, but the amount of control and tension you can build to instantly get into the position and maintaining an inside axial spiral rotation in the upper body while the lower body resists and tries to press en dehors.

The Position
the position for turns

The problem with an inside pirouette is that as the supporting side and arms are rotating the axis inwards on the body, the working leg is working in the opposite direction. The common mistake is for the working leg to slightly turn in to help carry the rotations of the pirouette. This is most commonly seen in younger dancers. The more advance dancer knows the keep the knee behind the shoulder, thus causing the turn to “lose” another rotation. But the position itself is quite complicated. I would say it is more complicated than an en dehors pirouette, but maybe it is just a more difficult turn for myself. Unlike an en dehors pirouette, where you place into one position and create your own g-forge from the turnout and push back of the working leg and you can increase the g-force during the turn… an en dedans pirouette is based on the energy prior to the turn (in the prep and the actions leading into the position).

The Rotation
the position for pirouette

Ice skaters probably have it the easiest when it comes to rotating to the inside on the axis. While most of their jumps are to the outside, most of their spins start to the inside. The basic idea of their spins is their scratch spin. But here is what we can learn from this concept. The turn to the inside has to do with building momentum and increasing their g force by using their working leg to build the g-force. The biggest factor is the tension they build in their arms, back, and core. The coordination between their arms and working leg is crucial. We can take this same concept and apply it when folding into our pirouette. By building tension in the preparation, we are able to close the momentum on top of our axis, like figure skaters. Now to increase the rotations, the supporting side of our body has to turnout/rotate faster than our working side. Our working side is there just along for the ride, placed in a turned out position.

Increasing the rotations
pirouette inside

When turning to the inside the quickest way to build rotations is by getting in to the position as quickly as possible but maintaining the tension. The best way I find to get into the position is letting the working arm shift into seconde, and then immediately pull into the reitré position.  Don’t over rotate the second position. Then let the working side’s upper body press forward and spiraling up to the position

Option 2: Personally, I like to think of a barbershop pole, spiraling up into as many rotations as possible. Spiral up over the arch, and constantly keep growing up and out of your hips, through your chest and out through your arms.

Pet Peeves
One of my biggest pet peeves is when preparing, having your hips tilted. I don’t like the idea of “up and forward” in preparation for the en dedans. A lot of people engage this lunging position where the hips are behind the upper body because you are leaning forward. Personally, I prefer that the hips and spine are all in a neutral position right on top of the arch of the supporting side.

Another pet peeve is when turning, not using your lats. Instead of widening the back, people pinch it tight. Remember your back should be completely flat, no chicken wings, not tectonic plates pinching… just keep it completely flat.

Finally, my last pet peeve when turning to the inside is winding up. I hate it. If anything build the moment with the supporting arm, and the second it hits seconde position, pull into fifth (whether that is through first, or cutting en dedans to the fifth). Its one of the biggest mistakes people make and causes them to look extremely turned in. I see it all the time at these competitions, especially in the Paquita etoile variation. The turn in is real… like super real.

To buy the poster click here.

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For pirouettes en dehors click here.

Mancrush Monday: David Hallberg

Okay, I know it isn’t monday… but I couldn’t come up with a title… and I found myself surrounded by David Hallberg today.

David Hallberg A Ballet Education

The International Ballerino: David Hallberg
From Arizona Ballet School to the Paris Opera Ballet School… David Hallberg joined American Ballet Theatrein April of 2001 and rose to the rank of Principal in May 2005. While at ABT he won the Benois de la Danse Prize as best male dancer for Albrecht in Giselle. But it wasn’t enough to end there… in 2011 he became the first American to join the presitigious Bolshoi Ballet under the title Premier Dancer. In 2013 he made his debut at the Paris Opera and since has danced with numerous companies around the world. Notably last year he created the title: Resident Guest Artist at the Australian Ballet…But that isn’t enough… the fashion world adores him. From spreads in VOGUE, GQ, CR BOOK to being photographed by some of the most influential photographers of our time…  Landing covers of New York Magazine…and numerous others… the Nike Endorsement… The list goes on and on… But it wasn’t always easy for him, battling a serious injury…

David Hallberg

But, I am here now, on vacation, enjoying my time reading his book: A Body of Work: Dancing to the Edge and Back. (Kindle $14.99/Hardcover $18.30/Audible–Free click the image below to shop)

David Hallberg Dancer

The book is actually a pretty decent self reflection… FYI… no pictures.

And if that isn’t enough… Pathé Live just released the Art of David Hallberg… a two disc DVD set featuring his Sleeping Beauty with Svetlana Zakharova, choreography by Yuri Grigorovich and the allstar cast of Marco Spada (Hallberg, Obraztsova, Smirnova, Chudin, Tsvirko) by Pierre Lacotte.

And then there are these amazing 10 videos of his dancing online…

 

 

for more information on David Hallberg you can visit his website by clicking here.

 

This Week In Ballet…

ballet news topIt is the first week of 2018, and it already has me thinking… a lot. Between Peter Martins retiring, YAGP Philadelphia being postponed, YAGP Seattle underway, new job offers, new job titles and the pressure of ballet building… it has really made me start to think about a life outside of ballet.  Don’t forget you can watch live streams of the YAGP… you have to pay… but it’s enjoyable.

Let us recap A Ballet Education’s Ups and Downs of 2017…
January: I left a job that was basically a lie and the board was stealing. Found out my blog was ranked number 2 as a dance resource and ballet blog in the world, over the Gaurdian, NYT, and Pointe.
February: Depressed.
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March: YAGP FINALS, developped a tremor in my hand and body, quit drinking
April: Blogging and Writing, went Gluten Free
May: Master Teaching Everywhere, became a Red Bubble Top Seller
June: Offered the Job at American National Ballet, met some really great people.
July: Master Teaching at Masters,
August: Moved to Charleston… mid August- left ANB, went Vegetarian
September: Blogging and Writing and Teaching Everywhere, made it one year of the magazine.
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October: Given the Chance to work at Phoenix Ballet, got screwed over by close friends, went Vegan
November: Guest taught more, wrote more, traveled to a million places… Worked on my getting my children’s book out there again… fail.
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December: Survived 16 shows of Nutcracker as Executive Director, photographer, Guild Coordinator, celebrated Christmas with my family… barely wrote. Lost a ton of weight.

Don’t get me wrong, I saw a lot of great ballet and had amazing opportunities. I am just glad I can look back at 2017 and be done with it.

… now onto January 2018 

So far, I have found out that my blog is now Ranked Number 1.
I was given the chance to freelance work in fashion again, and enjoyed it. I have only had two flights delayed, one in which I canceled. Given the chance to buyout of my place in Charleston, which I haven’t been to 3 months. I miss my bed, my clothes, my books. Now I have to figure out those logistics. Mmmm, signed two cool deals that will launch in March.
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Decided to cut back on teaching this year and focus on the things that I want in life… And it is only day 5, so I can’t really say it is that great of an accomplishment, but I quit smoking. Have turned into a raging b*tch… But decided since my tremor hasn’t come back to attempt the gym and ballet classes again…

 

 

 

The Ballet Shake Up of 2017

This year has been a whirlwind. Four years ago we had a shake up in changes in the Artistic world of Ballet as dancers and directors shuffled among the companies. But, this year, dancers and directors are being removed from the picture. Between the hustle and bustles and crazy sh!t storm that is the Nutcracker… This morning American Ballet Theatre put out their press release regarding international superstar Marcelo Gomes. He is no longer with ABT. This is just on the tailcoat of Peter Martins at NYCB. If you haven’t been following ballet news, allegations have been put out there, left and right… Most of them surfacing from the past. But, no one in ballet is really that surprised, and they aren’t being quiet about it on social media. Everyone has something to say, or a story involving one of the accused… and dragging un-accused people into the light.

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This isn’t that big of a surprise for those of in ballet. We have heard the rumors, we have seen how directors act, and we see how egos get inflated… very quickly. A Ballet Education has been demanding change for the past three years, and unfortunately it is taking the press, and victims of abuse to come forward to start a radical change in ballet. Directors at a ballet company, are literally, one step away from God himself. The power a director has, and if the board supports this director, gives them unlimited power within a ballet company. There are all of these unspoken things that dancers fear: contracts being renewed, insurance, injury, their personal life, etc. Ironically, most of these directors have been in the other position… So most of them, don’t even see anything wrong with their behaviors. For a lot of the European directors their justification is that they are treating the dancers nicer than they were treated… Thus, it isn’t that bad, and we all should be thankful we have a job….

(Marcelo Gomes is currently choreographing on his friend Julie Kent‘s Washington Ballet and has a movie set to preimiere.)

It is this mentality that proliferates and continues the cycle of abuse, ego, and demand in the ballet world. But this starts at the student level, when students are expected to put in 8-10 hour a days, without pay, and be happy about it. There is no child ballet union to protect children from the wrath of a director, nor are there child psychiatrists monitoring the children growing up at tier one ballet schools helping them cope with injury, reality, and mental capacity it takes to be a ballet dancer. They grow up in this mindset of abuse is normal, and you are lucky to be a part of this industry, so you should be silent. Again, not something new. And the obsession over women in ballet has always been there. They are goddesses and at the same time directors and choreographers view them as clay; to be shaped and to be formed into something of their own desires.

The allegations surrounding Peter Martins might be called karma by some… And for others, they are completely shocked. It is just like this HW, Meryl Streep scenario where some people truly didn’t know or witness anything but a demanding director. All of this is just days away before companies go on break, which could be a good thing… The demand for change is here… and for someone like myself, who is a qualified AD or ED, it makes me wonder if ballet is really worth it?

 

From left: Justin Peck, Rebecca Krohn, Jonathan Stafford and Craig Hall. Photo by Erin Baiano, via The New York Times. (City Ballet’s “temporary fix” to the Peter Martin’s Scandal…)

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It is making me think, that kids shouldn’t leave home alone until they are 18. That the structure of ballet is breaking because no one will listen to a younger generation like myself. I have had numerous conversations with some of the most respected people in ballet, and I am laughed at. I am told that what I am asking is impossible, and that I should find my place in ballet… Which I have… Ballet doesn’t have to be this art form of beauty surrounded by suffering, abuse and ridiculously expensive.

It is sad to see my colleagues suffering… Even dancers at Boston Ballet, not being able to settle their contracts. They signed mid December. It isn’t a secret that Boston proper is expensive to live in, so as a company it is your job to adequately pay the dancers. Unfortunately, this either means the executive staff needs a pay cut, or dancers need to be let go so that others can be paid. There has to be a time where we draw a line in the sand and say, “This is it.”

Change has to happen in ballet. And it has to happen rather soon. Questions comments or concerns: email me.


 

You Know It’s Nutcracker Season When…

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Robbie Downey as the Sugar Plum Fairy in Phoenix Ballet’s The Nutcracker

It is that time of the year again…. Nutcracker. Support your local ballet school or company by attending this wonderful holiday tradition. We are days away to close our Nutcracker Kickstarter campaign, and unforutnately, it doesn’t look like it will come to fruition. But, I will relaunch the campaign in the New Year, focusing on next year.

(Click Here to help our kickstarter campaign)

This season I was lucky enough to coach for beautiful Sugar Plums for Phoenix Ballet’s Nutcracker. They included social media star Robbie Downey, YAGP winner Mya Kresniak, YAGP winner Madison Penney, and the elegant Kenzie Thomas. All four young women are so different and took on the role so differently. It reminded me about how wonderful an oppertunitiy to dance a principal role is. These four girls are about to make their debut in Arizona and headline a show.

Now, I am on the opposite side of the country coaching talented young women for the YAGP. These roles are so difficult but it is so amazing to see the attack and dedication these young women have. While Baltimore is cold, the experience here has been amazing.

Finally, don’t forget Issue 8 is out!

(Repost)

Between the holiday parties  and preparing for Black Friday sales, the ballet world is faced with our dreaded, but magical annual tradition of The Nutcracker. Every year around this time, whether it be at Starbucks, the bank or even at some retail store, I am standing around minding my own business… and then it comes on the speakers. That dreadful tune that ushers in the Holiday Season.

While the majority of the world associates it with that one song from that one commercial, ballet dancers around the world hear it and immediately identify the composer, the act, the choreography and the costumes. Yes, it is the Nutcracker.

Recently, I was standing in line with my pas de deux partner, and the music for Snow Pas came on. While it is one of the most beautiful pieces composes for the Nutcracker, we immediately looked at each other with fear in our eyes. Yes, fear. We had just started rehearsals with new choreography knowing that the show goes up in three weeks. We both haven’t been on stage for more than four years, and we immediately decided to order skinny lattes knowing we are about to be in white tights. So, in the tradition of Nutcracker, and in a Ballet Education’s five things…

You Know It’s Nutcracker When…
1. You hear Nutcracker music outside of ballet and want to kill yourself.
2. 1/3 of your company is injured, or battling tendonitis, but still powering through ridiculously long rehearsals that you don’t want to be in.
3. You know every part of Nutcracker, but still are forced to rehearse, clean and tech it all. In fact, you have probably danced every part of Nutcracker at some point of your life and could probably stage it all, with your eyes closed.
4. This time of the year everyone is all about the holiday cheer and festivities, but you are the most tired you have ever been. You want to crawl into a ball and die. You still have to rehearse everything else outside of Nutcracker for the upcoming season’s bills, so your mind is on overload. It is just yucky.
5. You are a boy, and its Nut season and all you want to do is be Kyra Nichols as Dewdrop. Yes, you want to be Balanchine’s infamous Dewdrop and dance the most beautiful entrances, have the most swayed back ever, and dance to the loveliest of music.

Here are some of last year’s Nutcracker Posts:
THE BEAST THAT IS THE NUTCRACKER

5 AWFUL REALITIES OF NUTCRACKER

THE NUTTINESS OF NUTCRACKER