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.

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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

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

Winners of the YAGP 2019

Congratulations to the winners of the male-dominated year at the Youth America Grand Prix. While the past three years of the Youth America Grand Prix have been intense, this year seemed to be even more exhausting with the new rule changes. If you don’t know about the rules change that had everyone upset, it basically stated that regardless of the score, the invitation to New York Finals would be based on the discretion of the judges. While we shouldn’t downplay this year’s winners, there was a lot of criticism over YAGP’s 20th season. The Big Winners of the Youth America Grand Prix are:

The Grand Prix was awarded to Gabriel Figueredo (18) from the John Cranko School in Germany. If you don’t follow him, he just won a prize at the Prix De Lausanne. He also won the Dance Europe Award. The senior category seemed to be dominated by Spanish speaking countries and dancers. The winners in the senior category included dancers from Portugal, Argentina, Cuba, Peru, Switzerland, and Australia. No one from the United States placed in seniors including seniors who placed last year. The competition has become extremely stiff as the influx of European Dancers has come through.

The Youth Grand Prix was given to Darrion Sellman (14) from Southern California. He is also a finalist for the California Spotlight Awards. His win places him over Rebecca Alexandria Hadibroto (12) who won first in pre-comp last year from Indonesia, Ava Arbuckle (14) from Elite Classical Coaching and who just had a win at ADC IBC, Madison Brown (13), Misha Broderick (13), Andrew Jesus (13) of Brazil, and Seungmin (14) Lee of South Korea.

The Hope Award went to Corbin Holloway of City Dance. The Pre-Competitive Division this year was filled with talent but the following three places were all dancers from Europe. Martha Savin of Romania, Kseniya Kosava of Belarus, and Natasha Furman who is from the US, but is of European descent. It once again reinforces the “ideals” of ballet body types and how genetics plays the most significant role in whether or not one might become a dancer.

The Pas De Deux went to Youth Grand Prix Winners Madison Penney (2017) and Antonio Casalinho (2018). This win makes Madison’s second big win at the YAGP and Antonio’s third. They won with Grand Pas Classique.

The other big wins at the YAGP this year included:
The Shelley King Award for Excellence: Sumer Duvyestyn (12) from Classical Coaching, Australia
The Grishko Model Search Award: Elite Classical Coaching’s Ava Arbuckle (14)
The Natalia Makanrova Award for Artistry: Anastasia Poltnikova (17), Bolshoi Ballet Academy, Russia
The Mary Day Award for Artistry: Joao Vitor da Silva (15), Brazil’s Ballet Vortice

The Outstanding Choreographer Award went to Make Miyauchi and Christina Bucci of Yarita You Ballet Studio of Japan.

The Outstanding Teacher Award went to Mariaelena Ruiz of Cary Ballet Conservatory.

Whether or not you like the YAGP, or agree with it, the YAGP is an excellent opportunity for young dancers who are aspiring to make it in the world of dance. But again, winning isn’t everything, and you shouldn’t be discouraged if you didn’t place at New York Finals. While Ballet in popularity is growing, this once again means that the pool of talent to pull from is even more significant than ever, and makes it even harder to separate yourself from the politics of body type and prestigious schools. This is just another need and emphasis to find GOOD TRAINING and GOOD COACHING.

Personally, I didn’t go to YAGP Finals this year; Mostly because my students have already been accepted into their year round schools on scholarship at Royal Ballet Upper School, San Francisco Ballet School, and the School of American Ballet so they didn’t really need to go and take away a scholarship spot from another potential dancer. But, everyone asked why I didn’t attend the YAGP as press. This year, I have been beyond exhausted and have been battling depression so I needed time to clear my head and be away from ballet. And there is no better time than YAGP Finals as everyone in Ballet is in NYC, so I can be alone in California and not have to be around it. People are asking if I am going to be focused on YAGP next year, and the answer in truth is I don’t know.

Photos courtesy of VAM PRODUCTIONS

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. 

Happy Siblings Day!!

If you didn’t know, today is National Siblings Day! Today is a day to celebrate your brothers and sisters. Because ballet is genetically inclined, it won’t surprise you that there numerous amazing ballet siblings out there.

There are the amazing Cirios, the founders of the Cirio Collective. Lia Cirio is a Principal Dancer at Boston Ballet and her brother, Jeffrey Cirio was a Principal at Boston, then ABT, and now English National Ballet.

 

Of course New York City Ballet has a history of having siblings in the company.

There are the Fairchilds. Robbie Fairchild left City Ballet for Broadway but his sister Megan, a new mom, is still there!

Then there were the Staffords, both principals as well. Abi is sitll dancing while her brother is now Associate Director of New York City Ballet. And then there is also the Angle brothers Jared and Tyler.

 

jewels-superJumbo.jpg

https://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/27/arts/dance/jonathan-stafford-bids-farewell-to-city-ballet.html / New York City Ballet Jonathan Stafford partnering his sister Abi Stafford in a pas de deux from “Emeralds,” one of Balanchine’s “Jewels” ballets, at the Koch Theater on Sunday.CreditJulieta Cervantes for The New York Times

 

There are the super famous brothers of Daniel and Roland Sarabia who defected from Cuba to become international superstars.

Patricia and Jeanette Delgado both are superstars at Miami City Ballet.

Then we also had Lorna and Lorena Feijoo who took the ballet world by storm when they arrived.

So much talent out there! So celebrate your siblings today!

 

Turning in to find your TURNOUT

Turning In to Find Your Turnout 

I think there is a big misunderstanding among ballet teachers and other teachers when it comes to turn in and turnout. The two cannot be separated because anything that is not turned out completely is turned in. I also believe that when it comes to working on the floor or barre work, sometimes it is better to work turned in. In fact, as we know from previous videos, I think it is important to work turned in to find a dancer’s turnout. 

So, while I believe dancer’s should cross train in modern, jazz and hip hop, because of the different muscles groups each one focuses on, I definitely don’t believe in overtraining muscle groups that are going to hinder ballet technique. This means that anything that is going to lock up your quads and hip flexors, I am against. One of the best ways I think that any dancer can become stronger and be more in tune with their body is to discover how the hip socket works. (Click here for some other hip stuff from earlier posts.)

Taking a look at dancing turned in, into find your turnout.

Standing in sixth position properly aligned means that foot is perfectly turned in with proper knee and hip alignment.  (proper alignment being shoulders over hips, over knees, over toes.) When standing in sixth position facing the barre one leg will automatically be in perfect turn out, if you rotate your hips towards left hand at the barre… When doing this you want to make sure you are really focusing on the SUPPORTING LEG. Remember the point of barre is to get you on your supporting leg and build strength in that leg, okay and to make your feet stronger… but the main focus is to get you on your leg and to do so, one must really build the back of the legs, rotators, and core.

Okay, so now you just have to discover the rotation in your hips. So here is Lauryn Brown (Insta: @laurynlanee) demonstrating some of the turned in to turnout combinations we work on at the Ballet Clinic. By all means it is not perfect, but she is working very hard on building the strength on her supporting leg. 

Remember most of these combinations are designed to work the supporting leg’s turnout. 

If you do these exercises properly, you will reshape your legs and increase your turnout drastically. 

Things to keep in mind, holding the spiral of your supporting leg.

Finding your crease/ booty indent every time. Where the leotard cuts around the leg should be completely folded into the hip socket, the back/side of your quad & IT band should be completely flat.
Find squareness to the supporting leg, not the working leg. This is not a normal ballet combination, so if you can’t completely open to the side yet, DON’T. It is okay to be in a semi-ecarté position.

Don’t let the supporting knee give .

Don’t roll on the supporting foot.

Don’t put weight into the working leg.

When finding Arabesque- let the hips do the work, NOT YOUR BACK.

 

Check Out Lauryn’s Tutorial on Audition Make Up

Off With Their Heads…

The internet has fueled the fire, and it seems now, that with City Ballet about to open tonight, we are demanding for their heads. Anyone who has ever danced for the historic New York City Ballet is putting out their opinions, opinions like, bring back the original Balanchine dancers. One of my favorite things about all of these former Balanchine dancers complaining, is they are a part of the generation that believes they are better than most because they come from a “golden age”. And so, like a lot of problems we have today, they are also blinded by  history and a ballet culture that is on it’s way out.

new york city ballet sex scandal.jpg

While others in the ballet world are demanding for a new female artistic director who is both artistic and business savvy for today’s audiences to be brought in (someone like… Lourdes Lopez, Miami City Ballet’s AD who just won the Dance Magazine award, or Jennifer Ringer who has successfully turned the Colburn School in Los Angeles into a thriving hub for Balanchine and Contemporary training). The internet has demanded that we strip New York City Ballet and the School of American Ballet of their prestige and honor. 

Others have described that the leadership of City Ballet all should be replaced and that their new marketing campaign is just simply to sell sex. The new ad for City Ballet is genius… Not only is it sexy, but it is also beautiful and it is making ballet more modern and making it more understandable and relatable to the massive crowds of New York City. Ballet shouldn’t just be for those on the Upper East and Upper West. The former generation of Balanchine Dancers is also getting old, quite old. And from the 400 some ballets that were left from Balanchine, how many are truly worth saving? It isn’t like we saved very may ballets from the golden age of the Ballet Russes, or the Massine ballets….

People are demanding a lot from New York City Ballet. Moms want their daughters to be protected by an institution whose mission statement is about ballet, not raising kids. Dancers are wanting compensation for their lack of talent or rise to fame. Audiences and donors are withdrawing in fear of being shamed for supporting City Ballet. All of this because people made poor choices, bad decisions, and now somehow we have ruined the Balanchine Legacy and tarnished New York City Ballet’s name.

(And I am not saying or not saying that these men did or didn’t deserve things, and I am definitely not saying that horrific things didn’t take place, are taking place, and have taken place at the School of American Ballet and New York City Ballet… I’m just saying)

The opinion piece in the New York Times was rather harsh, and simply to say, I think it just added fire and made the Balanchine Legacy look even worse. While I do applaud those who were once a part of the Balanchine Generation, I wonder if it is time for the Balanchine era to end regardless. Is it time to close this chapter on the Balanchine Aesthetic and move on? Ballet is becoming more and more demanding and the need for pure technical training is becoming more apparent. The School of American Ballet isn’t producing the dancers that it once was, and their students are getting jobs like they once were. Is it time for City Ballet to become a new kind of company that emphasizes technique, musicality, and modernism and not create a one note dancer?

Is it time to fundamentally change the company’s aesthetic that it became famous for? It seems like it because with everyone demanding that this is the end of City of Ballet… something has to change. What is going to change? How is it going to change? Will it ever change? Who knows?

While I think that NYCB has done a terrible job at reacting and handling all of these accusations, actual events, I do think that even more terrible things are going to come out. Working for Balanchine wasn’t easy either, and I think that all of these “Balanchine Era” dancers are also forgetting that scandals were happening back then as well… Because of Balanchine, body type become the most important thing and do we really want people who are so focused on skinny, skinny, skinny to be at the helm? Who knows? They also were a part of the culture of don’t talk about it and be silent to whatever was happening around them because “greatness” was happening in the roo.

Regardless, you all wanted my thoughts on the NYCB scandals, and I don’t have any besides the following:

Ballet isn’t bad… people are bad, and make poor decisions… sometimes forgivable, sometimes unforgivable…. Separate the two please… it doesn’t help we let men with misogynistic, racial, and particular body views be in full control without a checks and balance system. But no one person should ever have total control or say at any institution that is called communism.  It is sad to see such institutions fall to the pressures of time, the demand of the art form, and the unfailing disappointment of human actions and preferences. My greatest love in life is ballet, and I will continue to do whatever I can do to keep helping ballet progress for the better.

Where our ballet culture is now and where we want ballet culture to be… this is the conversation all ballet instititions should be having.

NYCB scandal


https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/theater_dance/in-wake-of-suit-against-new-york-city-balletaudiences-and-funders-should-demand-answers/2018/09/16/88f184a4-b5da-11e8-b79f-f6e31e555258_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.608144240bb5

http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2018/09/16/nyc-fires-2-dancers-over-accusations-nude-photo-sharing-ring.html


 

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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DEAR ABE READERS

Hello there…

First off, I want to apologize for numerous things…

  1. First the reason why I haven’t updated anything, is that someone got into my ABE site, and locked me out. Additionally, some of you received a spam message that was not from me, and apologize if by clicking the link that was sent it caused you any problems.
  2. The books… The books have been a mess as half of the ones I sent while in Charleston were returned to my address in Charleston because of a mistake a made with media mail… while I am traveling, and am teaching at Summer Intensives. Additionally, whoever went into my site, deleted out most of the orders. I am working hard on sorting it out, but teaching 6 hours a day at summer intensive is rather intense. On the pay-pal side, I have started refunding orders as off yesterday when WordPress finally gave me my sales. For those of you who have the books, I hope you are enjoying them. For those of you who haven’t recieved a book, please email me again, as my email is linked through wordpress and let me know if you would like me to refund your money or wait till September?
  3. For those of you who have been trying to get a hold of me via email, the same issue. WordPress controls the e-mail.
  4. And finally, the big Ten Issue will be out later this evening as I can finally upload the issue.

 

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.

 

The Humble Beginnings…

Haha… me at the studio where I started… Hard to believe I started at a barre so low. Two hip surgeries… and twenty-one years later… still trying to balance…

dance life boy ballet

In the world of ballet, we are forced to see the daily reminder of white privilege visually. It is something we feel strongly about, or it doesn’t phase us. I recently went back home to California, southern California. And, if you have ever been to a small place called Riverside County, you will be given a sliver of hope for the future of dance. Here back at home, I went to visit my very first studio. A studio that has always been gracious to me gave me a sense of purpose and belonging and gave me a friendship with the studio owner that still exists. I come back home, and I am watching kids who are 5-8 learn ballet, but this isn’t the regular class I see or even teach. This class is full of joy and passion and had every ethnicity represented. Yeah, in this little city, dance thrives as something that is accessible for all kids, all colors, and all socioeconomic statuses. Riverside, is this unique small pocket of the world, that for a long time was embarrassing to say you are from. Now, I am proud to say I come from here. I came from a city where ethnicity really doesn’t matter, and where the arts are continually growing and evolving.

On a recent trip to Atlanta, I met up with one of the first students I ever taught. He is now graduating with his master’s degree from Emory. We were talking about race in general, and how even in Atlanta race is a huge factor in everyday life, and when he talks about this little corner of the world we both call home, people are so dumbfounded.

Usually, I don’t like posting personal things on this blog, but this time around… it is essential to talk about where I come from and what A Ballet Education is doing. I didn’t grow up poor, far from it, but I didn’t come from a wealthy family either. I am one of twelve kids, most of us are adopted, and half of my siblings have severe special needs. Please don’t go googling them or adding them on Facebook… Why is this important?

Recently, A Ballet Education started their scholarship selection, and this year we were able to help six individuals around the US to continue their education in ballet at some of the most elite schools. I have to ask myself… Why does “elite” or “good” training cost so much? Even myself… charging for private lessons, my rate is on the higher side of ballet coaches. Sometimes, I justify it was self-worth. Sometimes, I feel guilty and am continually trying to help kids find scholarships. This year was a good year for me in ballet, and I am thankful, and humbled… I joke around with my friends back home saying, this Gay Asian Boy from the poor side is sitting around the world’s most magnificent theaters, coaching some of the most exceptional kids in the world. And I have to laugh.

Soooooo… Why is this so important?

I recently was watching a TED Talks video, and an Oprah video on ethnicity and the idea of ethnic tax and guilt. These videos were super inspiring, but they made a valid point, You are not responsible for your family, your culture or social injustices. By being just you, by making it, is already an accomplishment that matters. It isn’t about taking care of your family, or by helping your brothers and sisters. The list goes on. The more and more I critically thought about this concept, I realized… the same goes for this current generation of “white.” You are not responsible for all of the social injustices in this world, and you shouldn’t have to pay higher taxes because someone in your family did the wrong thing. And as dancers, you shouldn’t feel guilty that you got a job. You worked just as hard. We all did the same pliés, tendus, and god awful, painstakingly long Russian adagios to get where you are.

But here is what you can do… You can give back. You can hit the streets like Aisha Ash and just walk around in a tutu. You can volunteer to teach at the local YMCA; you can donate money smaller school in a less fortunate area. You can buy tickets to a ballet performance for someone at your studio who might not be able to afford to go. There are tons of ways to give back, but if time and money is something you don’t have… which I totally get…

You can be a person who understands that ballet is not the problem; tradition blinds the people running the institution of ballet. We can be aware, that not everyone’s journey to get to the barre is the same and isn’t equal. We can be mindful that the costs of ballet are inflating, so families around you might be struggling to keep their kid dancing. We can chip in and get a new pair of pointe shoes for the girl who can’t afford it. We can be inclusive of all bodies who want to learn the discipline and rigor of ballet. We can be accepting for those who have physical disabilities who just want to feel like a princess. We can be all these things. Things I learned in a little part of the world that isn’t known for dance and is probably known for crime more than anything.

And, if you come from a family that can afford ballet, there is nothing wrong with that either. Your family has had to work hard to get where they are. Humility, though, that is the key factor. You read all these dancers’ biographies, and autobiographies and they all have one thing in common: Humility.

Stay humble friends.

 

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

 

Another New Ballet Company comes to Florida

Joseph Gatti, Marcelo Gomes, Rasta Thomas, Elias Baseman, Matthew Golding and a few others  are teaming up and taking on Orlando. Artistic Director and Founder of United Ballet Theatre, Joseph Gatti has brought in a slew of men and a blonde bombshell, Chloe Sherman for a new work by Marcelo Gomes. This “equation” looks familiar, right? Yes, and it could be because Executive Director James L. Boyd III, is at the head? He is also the former producer for Rasta ThomasRock the Ballet. Rasta Thomas will serve as a guest artist.

united ballet theatre

Excited to see the work they will be premiering. Marcelo Gomes recently left ABT after a sexual misconduct allegation. He then had his documentary premiered, and set a new work with less exciting reviews for Julie Kent‘s Washington Ballet. This would be his first full year venturing out as a choreographer and transitioning out of the “dancer” title.

So what will this mean for dancing state of Florida? Adding another company to Florida’s long list of companies including Joseph Gatti’s former employer, Robert Hill’s  Orlando Ballet. (Orlando Ballet is currently searching for a new Executive Director, the third one in like five years…) As their website is still new, you can see the list of artists joining up with Mr. Gatti.

Regardless, any company that is creating jobs should be applauded. 

Best of Luck United Ballet Theatre!! We are watching!

 

Celebrating 4 Years!

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

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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

 

5 BIG MISTAKES YOU CAN MAKE AT THE YAGP… that are preventable…

mistakes at the yagpYes, they are preventable… So with the new stunning issue of a Ballet Magazine out, tons of emails and DM’s on Instagram are pouring in… Since, I left to YAGP, a Ballet Education has 1,295 unread emails that I am ferociously trying to get through… plus publish a new issue, plus making the book does well, plus the May planner… plus my own teaching and coaching….

I should be insulted since no one is just clicking my consult fee, but instead I take to blogging… Seriously, you all want the help or advice with your child, but no one wants to pay for my time? Then when I don’t answer within 24 hours and you get mad?  Moms, please… goodbye. *Bloop*

  1. YOU SHOULD NOT PUT EVERYTHING YOU HAVE INTO THE YAGP & FINALS… and I quote, “My husband and I took out a credit card to afford to go to finals and my daughter got nothing. I am so mad at the YAGP. No one offered her a scholarship and barely was talked to.” —- seriously? NO ONE, and I mean NO ONE, should be taking out a credit card to attend the YAGP. Credit scores are forever…Ballet careers are not. That is the reality. If you are putting everything you have into the YAGP, think twice. You just spent about 5k to attend the finals, when that would have easily covered a summer intensive. All you would have had to do is just pay the $35 audition fee…
  2. DON’T COME WITHOUT A COACH… “I didn’t want to pay for my coaches expenses. I already paid her enough in private lessons.” Good for you, thinking you paid your coach enough in private lessons. But trust me, they are probably still way under charging you. The average coaching fees right now for private lessons for variations run about $150/hr+Studio Rental. Also, having a coach at the YAGP makes a huge difference in terms of networking. The first night of YAGP FINALS the YAGP hosted a teachers/coaches/judges meet and greet… Here, people asked coaches about their students and about their school and their ideas on ballet. Also, coaches are easily able to navigate backstage, get updates, and make life a little easier for you… rehearsal spaces are booked through them, arranging extra classes outside of finals, the list goes on. The coaching fees are high because the coach is going to be out missing 10 days of teaching, plus hotel, plus airfare plus a million other things… this has to be something YOU consider when deciding if you are going to do the YAGP.
  3. “I spent fifteen hundred dollars on a custom tutu that she wore three times.” NO ONE, and I mean NO one should be paying that much money for a tutu. Especially if it is for competition… If your studio doesn’t have costume rentals, then just go in a leotard and rehearsal platter. The YAGP actually doesn’t require a costume to compete, so you could just compete in a leotard if you really wanted to. Technique speaks louder than sparkles. And yes, you were only going to wear your tutu maybe twice… if you are lucky enough to be invited to finals. I am assuming they did two semi-finals, and a final.
  4. “My daughter did five pirouettes and didn’t make final round.” … DON’T FEEL ENTITLED TO WIN…you are only letting yourself down and your kid. Don’t feed them information like more pirouettes equals better ballet. That is wrong, just wrong. Like super wrong. You are only setting your kid up to fail miserably in ballet. Technique, finesse and fundamentals will always outweigh the tricks. End of story. Regardless of tricks, or technique, remember that ballet is subjective when it comes to artistry, it is why the YAGP assembles a larger pannel for finals, so that more eyes and more opinions are given.
  5. “I am at a loss for words. My daughter feels like she wasn’t even looked at in the classes and wants to give up on ballet.” Note, her daughter is 10, and was not even in the pre-competitive solo division, she was in an ensemble and the grand de filet. Well, logicially, your daughter is in the ensemble classes, which were way overcrowded to begin with. Second off, the scholarships are given out to those competing in the classical and contemporary solo categories. Thirdly, she is 10 so there is no where for her to go anyways. Fourth… even if she was not corrected individually, she needs to be trained to take everyone’s corrections as her own to help her grow as a dancer. Fifth… if that is a thing when listing, you are not realizing, that the YAGP finals had over 1,000 kids between soloists and ensembles. Sixth… if your daughter is going ot give up after one week of “tough” classes, then maybe she isn’t cut out for ballet. Even at the age of 10, the competition is stiff at the YAGP.

Here is what REALLY irritates me… 

Parents are constantly emailing me complaining about the YAGP and the politics of the YAGP. So, I sit back and have to ask, “Then why go? No one is forcing you to go… Companies are still holding auditions on the regular calendar… Summer intensives are audition from January to March and people are getting scholarships…”

If the answer is “experience”, then the results shouldn’t even matter to you.

If the answer is “to win”, then you have realize that the YAGP has their own agenda to further ballet and what they are looking for, so you have to accept just that.

If the answer is “to get a scholarship”, then why not just do the auditions like everyone else? They are cheaper.

If the answer is “to proove your kid has what it takes”, well you won’t know till your kid is sixteen or seventeen and being asked to join a company or second company.

If the answer is “to be famous”, you are in this all for the wrong reason and you should re-direct. I would say there are only a handful, if not just two ballerinas out there right now with worldwide fame outside of ballet: Misty Copeland and maybe Tiler Peck…

The YAGP finals are there for the creme de la creme of ballet to recruit the creme de la creme of talent out there. We are talking about beautiful bodies, good facility, gorgeous feet, wonderful musicality, interesting artistry, and full of potential. It isn’t about the pirouettes, or how high the jumps are… it is about the ability to turnout, lengthen the line, cleanliness and control. They are looking at where is this dancer going to be in a year with a scholarship, in four years with a scholarship to Princess Grace or Royal, and what is the longevitiy of their body inside ballet. BUT THIS ISN’T THE ONLY WAY TO HAVE A CAREER… AND REMEMBER… the YAGP isn’t the end all, say all… they aren’t the only ones who are deciding careers… 

And finally…. bigger isn’t always better… and I am talking about hairstyles. The hairstyles were out of control at YAGP this year. Remember french twists and french rolls for ballet should be tight and enhance the head and neck… not take it over. Sock buns at the YAGP should be automatically disqualified. At this point in ballet, we should all just be able to do a good old fashioned bun. Finally, if the tiara is as big as forehead… its too big. Seriously… a lot of questionable hairstyles at the YAGP this year. Remember… in ballet the ideal is a small head…

Notes on The Fairy Doll

Always a controversy when it come to “lost” ballets, or ballets that are not performed every season and easily handed down from one generation to the next. One of those ballets is the full length Fairy Doll. Originally, premiered at the Vienna Court on October 4th 1888 as Die Puppenfee, this ballet is also based on E.T.A Hoffman’s 1815 story of the Sandman. He is the author of the Nutcracker, if your forgot, with music by Josef Bayer choreographed by Joseph Hassreiter, and then the pas de trois by Legat.

Fairy-Anna-Pavlova-backstage-as-the-Fairy-Doll-167x300
Anna Pavlova in the Fairy Doll, waiting backstage

Eventually, in somewhere in the 1920’s Anna Pavlova danced her version (the variation we now know at competition as the “big bow on the head”) by adding the music from Drigo’s “Halrequinade” and “serenade pas de trois”. When this happened Diaghilev commissioned Leonide Massine to create “La Boutique Fantasque” to an arranged score of Rossini, which obviously hasn’t survived…but in turn was the inspiration for  Balanchine’s Harlequinade.

So, the story line is simple in this two act ballet. In a toy shop a farmer and a noble come in with their families. The puppeteer shows the mechanical dancing dolls: Chinese, Japanese, Harelquin, Austrian, Baby Doll, Moor, Drumming Bunny Doll (which is given a nod in Balanchine’s Nutcracker), Spanish, Hungarian, Poet and the lovely Fairy Doll. Obviously the rich family wants the fairy doll and pays. The farmer buys the Harelquin and Austrian. The shop then closes, but when the clock strikes midnight, like in all fairy tales, the toys come to life. Not only do all the dolls come to life but the chess pieces, a cello, a hammer, bowling pin, bunny doll. They all dance, where the queen of the toys… the fairy doll and her two harlequins dance the very technical pas de trois.

Then as the night ends, all the dolls incircle the fairy doll just as the shopkeeper comes in and is mesmerized at the magic of the dolls. Easy enough. It is actually the perfect ballet if you are at one of those schools where EVERYONE insists on having a solo. Also, the variations are great to take to the YAGP as well… Not just the lead variation… but the other variations as well. It is actually why I am posting this… a lot of the competitors from Korea and Europe brought the variations of Chinese Doll, Austrian Doll, Spanish Doll and Japanese Doll… which actually sparked this post…

Below is the student performance from Vaganova Ballet Academy. I would love to give credit to whoever posted this but no name, just the same person who posts the exams… and I can’t translate the names to give credit to the dancers, but they are superb.


Don’t forget to sign up for my MAY 5 & 6 workshop in Atlanta!!
ATLANTA 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.

YAGP… the final round…

As the YAGP moves on, the list gets smaller and smaller as tonight is the last night of competition. These 55 females, and 40 males will compete for the two top prizes Youth Grand Prix and Senior Grand Prix awards. Additionally there are other awards, and many of these young men and women will walk away with a scholarship or offer to a major school or company. This list doesn’t include the hundreds of pre competitive dancers that competed this week as well.

 

YAGP 2018 NYC FINALS
Photo Courtesy of VAM PRODUCTIONS // GARY TRINDER, Tirector of the New Zealand School of Dance teaching during the YAGP

 

JUNIOR WOMEN: 31 Contestants 
1-Ella Kolpakov (12), USA
4-Poppy Trettel (12), USA
9-Emma Topalova (12), USA
14-Nina Gagnin (12), AUSTRIA
21-Margarita Fernandes (12), PORTUGAL
22-Nana Oda (12), JAPAN
26-Ava Arbuckle (13), USA
30-Kate Thomas (13), USA
31-Remie Madeleine Goins (13), USA
48-Yo Nakajima (13), JAPAN
52-Gia Polson (13), SOUTH AFRICA
54-Petra Johnson (13), USA
58-Sierra Glasheen (13), USA
61-Dominika Afanasenkov (13), USA
66-Mahalaya Tintiangco-Cubales (13), USA
67-Alexandra Manuel (13), USA
68-Keaton Gillespie (13), USA
76-Emma Spillane (14), USA
77-Aoi Sawano (14), JAPAN
78-Ruth Schultz (14), USA
80-Jessica Phan (14), USA
88-Rebecca Rudolf (14), PORTUGAL
89-Alexandra Hoffmann (14), USA
91-Olivia Tweedy (14), USA
96-Jolie Rose Lombardo (14), USA
101-Tia Wenman (14), USA
114-Lily Turner (14), USA
117-Alice Balboni (14), BRAZIL
118-Suyeon An (14), S KOREA
131-Estrella Birkinshaw (14), USA

JUNIOR MEN: 20 Contestants
151-Toya Hayashi (12), JAPAN
152-Filippo Mambelli (12), ITALY
153-Misha Broderick (12), USA
158-Brady Farrar (12), USA
160-Giuseppe Ventura (13), ITALY
161-Vitor Vaz (13), BRAZIL
164-Jackson Smith-Leishman (13), AUSTRALIA
167-Darrion Sellman (13), USA
170-Dorian Plasse (13), FRANCE
172-Arata Yamamoto (14), JAPAN
174-Soshi Suzuki (14) JAPAN
175-Parker Garrison (14), USA
176-Antonio Casalinho (14), PORTUGAL
177-Masaki Suetsugo (14), JAPAN
178-Francisco Gomes (14), PORTUGAL
179-Joao Vitor Da Silva (14), BRAZIL
180-Aydin Eyikan (14), USA
181-Joel Dichter (14), USA
182-Antonio Ferreira (14), PORTUGAL
186-Enrique Emmanuel Bejarano Vidal (14), Mexico

SENIOR WOMEN: 24 Contestants
205-Florence Joffre (15), FRANCE
213-Basia Rhoden (15), USA
214-Non Tachibana (15), JAPAN
223-Elisabeth Beyer (15), USA
225-Teresa D’Ortone (15), USA
232-Marlena Umland (15), USA
235-Quinn Starner (15), USA
237-Alina Taratorin (15), USA
238-Christiana De Blank (15), USA
241-Nicole Denney (15), USA
250-Bel Pickering (16), USA
251-Lee Mleton (16), USA
265-Guo Wen Jin (16), CHINA
267-Victoria Wardell (16), CANADA
277-Carolyne Freitas Galvao (17), BRAZIL
279-YoonJi Lee (17), S KOREA
282-Kaeli Ware (17), USA
283-Anaelle Mariat (17), FRANCE
290-Heidi Cecilie Christensen (18), NORWAY
293-Emma Guertin (18), USA
294-Seon Mee Park (18), S KOREA
296-Paloma Berjano (18), SPAIN
297-Miu Tanaka (19), JAPAN
301-Nadyne Bispo (19), BRAZIL

SENIOR MEN: 20 Contestants 
357-Clark Eselgroth (15), USA
358-Jonas Malinka-Thompson (15), USA
363-Yuma Matsurra (15), JAPAN
366-Takayuki Moriwaki (15), JAPAN
375-Keita Youssef Bellali (15), CANADA
383-Joseph Markey (16), USA
386-Robert Evin Hyland (17), AUSTRIA
388-Marcio Mota (17), PORTUGAL
390-Joshua Green (17), AUSTRALIA
398-Francesco Fasano (17), SWITZERLAND
399-Lorenzo Collatuzzo (17), ITALY
402-Thomas Rousse-Blatiere (17), FRANCE
403-Stephen Myers (17), USA
405-Edvinas Jakonis (17), LITHUANIA
406-SuNu Lim (18), S KOREA
408-Masanori Takiguchi (18), USA
409-Pau Pujol (18), SPAIN
412-Bela Erlandson (18), USA
421-Vsevolod Maievskyi (19), UKRAINE
422-SangMin Lee (19), S Korea

book cover 1

GOOD MORNING from the YAGP!!

There is something familiar, but something new and exciting here at the Youth America Grand Prix this year. Unlike the prior year, this year the first part of the competition is starting in NY at SUNY Purchase before moving into Lincoln Center. Like the Olympic Village, the Dorral Arrowwood Resort is completely filled with ballet dancers, coaches, parents, and YAGP judges. This morning at breakfast you could casually catch the directors of multiple schools and companies enjoying their coffees. It is like being at a museum, seeing but not touching. In just a few hours, the Youth America Grand Prix will start as hundreds of hopefuls will be competing. Today will start the junior competition. Hair slicked back tight, eyelashes on, and the noise of multiple languages sets the tone in the hotel lobby. Kids are being shuffled into Uber’s and town cars, all gearing up for the competition.

The energy is fresh and exciting as we are about to begin an eight day journey of excellence in ballet. Remember to follow me on Instagram for behind the scenes LIVE footage as I hunt down and find the next cover of a A Ballet Education.

DON’T FORGET… there are a few pre orders left on the illustrated book!