Notes on Demi Plié

Ballet is hard. Really hard. No matter how ballet has progressed, the fundamentals of ballet have always stayed the same: turnout, pointed feet, and becoming something unattainable and unimaginable. Yes, these are the fundamentals, but the principals that ballet is based on have constantly changed throughout the decades to progress the technique. The first of these principles is plié. It is one of the first things you learn as a dancer. In the beginning, it is as simple as bending your knees and making a diamond.Then you learn to open your turnout, and finally it is the connection to the floor, the connection to tradition and the connection to a legacy that has been passed down from one generation to the next. So, the plié is not only the building block of ballet, but it also is the mental foundation of ballet.

notes on dem plies

From Issue 1 of A Ballet Magazine

No matter where you are in the world, no matter what time of day, no matter your socioeconomic status, if you take a ballet class, you will start pliés, unless a teacher gives you a random combination to warm-up your feet.


So, what are pliés used for?

Pliés are used to begin and end a jump, a turn, and basically every step in ballet. They are used to open the hips and facilitate turnout and to strengthen and lengthen the abductors. Pliés can be used to build strength in the hamstring, to stretch the Achilles, open the energy throughout the metatarsals, and open the body.

But more importantly, and the key to pliés, is the mindset that pliés set up for you. The plié clears your head, the outside world fades away, and ballet history starts to flow through your body. You see, pliés are a part of ballet history, and not just on the technical side of things. For generations, it has been a part of the tradition we enjoy so much. Plus, if you think about starting at barre, and the slight gesture of placing your hand at the barre, your hand is likely touching the imprint or sweat of generations before you. Think about it like this. Let’s say you go to SAB for the summer, and you are in one of the larger studios. Consider everyone who has touched that barre before you, stood where you stand, and now they are a part of ballet history. Think about the legends who grew up at Lincoln Center, or the standouts at your own studio who have moved on to accomplish great things. Sometimes, even inanimate objects have a history so inspiring that you are taken aback with awe.

Pliés for the Young Student
When you are younger, you think that the plié is the easiest of the technical vocabulary to master, but in reality it is quite difficult. Young students should really focus on alignment of the body, and really master the mechanic of slight movements (port de bras, plié, cambré, etc.), while maintaining their core.

Pliés for the Pre-Pro/Professional Student
For students who are in a higher program, the focus of a plié is to open your hips and start moving your joints. You should have warmed up prior to class, but if you aren’t there yet, then you really do use pliés as a warm-up. But, what you should focus on is the ability to gather and sustain energy from the body.

Pliés for the Professional
Once you are at a certain point in your career, pliés become the habit of life and just feel good. It is probably the only combination at barre that is easy and becomes second nature to you. But for you kids reading this, every professional uses pliés to warm-up the body and set the tone for their dance day. They will also pace themselves at barre, and work on the quality of their plié.

Pliés for the Mature Dancer
If you are on the mature side of dance, remember to thoroughly warm-up the body prior to taking class. The older we get, the more we have to preserve the body to prevent injury and to sustain dancing. Proper alignment really does become crucial for older dancers, especially where the knee is going in the plié. I always use my second toe as the guide of where my knee should be extending. With my demi plié, I also really try to make sure my knee goes slightly further than the length of my feet to get a really good stretch out of my Achilles.

Teaching Pliés: The David Way
Teaching how to properly plié is actually quite difficult. You can’t just say, “Bend Your Knees!” because some kid is going to bend their knees and out goes their rear, their ribs splay, and it becomes a hot mess. Truthfully, I actually don’t teach kids to plié in first position until age 8 or 9, when they can actually comprehend the fundamentals of the technique. With young students, I really try to maintain the integrity of the plié without messing up alignment by having them go under the barre and against the wall.

This only works if your barres are built into the wall and you have enough space for a dancer to go through. I am lucky to have the barres about 18 inches out from the wall but drilled into the floor- designed for stretching purposes and little kids. I have them do first position, backs against the wall, and as they plié I try to have them press their knees to touch the back of the wall. Honestly, I think I have only seen 4 kids do this naturally, otherwise it is like impossible — unless you have more than 180 turnout. But, by having them use this technique, and pressing the low back and full spinal cord into the wall, they are starting to learn how to build tension in the core, and feel the power of a plié coming from the hip. I also don’t really teach grand plié until they are 10 or 11 years old.

When they are older, they use one hand at the barre, (by now they have mastered grand plié facing the barre), but this time the focus isn’t just rotation and alignment, but coordination of the arm. I despise when people do grand plié and at the bottom of the grand plié their hands is in front of their crotch region; I think it’s ugly. So, I have my students delay the arm until they reach demi plié on the way back up.

grand plie
A Ballet Education Covergirl and ADC IBC GRAND PRIX winner:  Tegan Chou in Grand Plié

Finally, when teaching pliés, there are various universal corrections to keep in mind:
Lateral Alignment through the spine, ribs, and hips.
The alignment of the movement, knees over toes.
Feet should be flat on the floor, toes spread, but arches must be lifted.
When doing the second part of a plié, coming back up, the top of your thighs should touch first and then like an upside down zipper come together, one tooth at a time.
Spiral the inner back of your thigh forward.
Don’t rush the music.
Don’t sit at the bottom of grand plié.
Pliés should never stop moving.



Help Kids go to the YAGP

Hello there A Ballet Education readers,

Last year you were able to help me get to the YAGP, and as a result I was able to further A Ballet Education. This past week a few students from around the country have written in explaining their financial situation and being short for the YAGP. This year the YAGP is more expensive than ever as it now takes place at SUNY Purchase the first five days, and Lincoln Center the last three days. Being in New York City is expensive, yet along being in New York for ten days. I can not list their names on who is asking for help because I don’t want it to look like favoritism. The three students (not mine) I am trying to help are in each of the age divisions: pre-competitive (age 11), junior (age 13) and a senior (17) and are females from around the United States. They have qualified in both classical and contemporary, and the total amount to help all three go to finals is about $6,000.00. (click here to donate)

Why is it important to go to the YAGP? These students are going to be seen by the top companies and schools in the world. They are all competing for scholarships, invitations to year round schools, and possibly be looked at by other schools and coaches. As great as it is to win in NYC, the reality is, that as long as you are there and seen, you have a chance to walk away with a scholarship or job.

The world isn’t becoming cheaper, and this also is affecting ballet. The costs of training and growing exponentially, and there is little or no help out there for these young dancers. Whatever is donated, is going to be divided by three and then dispersed.

Thank you.

xoxo- a ballet education.

Now Booking April, May and June 2018

Now booking master classes and setting variations for April, May and June 2018.
Class focuses include:
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Variations, Staging Ballets, Pas de Deux… and some more ballet.
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serious inquiries only, please email me for rates

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It is time to start nominating & voting

It is time to start nominating your favorite dance companies for A Ballet Education’s Company Awards!!

best ballet companies 2018

Okay everyone, it is time to start compiling data and preparing for YAGP finals… Which means I will be MIA for a little bit as we compile date for the TOP TEN LISTs. But, it is time to start nominating your favorite performances, performers, companies, teachers, designers, and productions!! You can write as much or as little as you want, vote for multiple companies and people, we will count them all!

Voting Closes June 2, 2018


Notes on Odalisque Pas De Trois… variation 3

Known for the impressive pirouette diagonal, this variation is a favorite among young dancers at competition. This variation comes the ballet Le Corsaire, and from the Odalisque Pas de Trois. The actual pas de trois’ music comes from Adolphe Adams but the variations come Cesare Pugni. So, lets start breaking down this variation.

odalisque pas de trois

Some call it the “turning girl” variation, but this variation opens up with extremely hard grand assemblés in ecarté. The combination is glissade, grand assemblé ecarté, relevé to attitude front, allonge, tombé relevé attitude, roll down. This combination might even be harder than the prirouette diagonal simply because of the rotation/ turnout, timing and control factors.

Okay… so glissade for me is always done as flat as possible… relaxing into the plié is really going to help the take off of the grand assemblé. Meaning the first leg that brushes, keep directly side, as you close stay en face as much as you can, but over cross it because you are going to need it to travel.

Remember, you should always bring the supporting leg to the working leg in assemblé, and hold fifth in the air as long as you can, or the music tells you. If you choose to beat it, great, but for me… I just like seeing a nice, high, clean fifth position in the air. Did I mention you have to jump… you can’t do these weenie assemblés that don’t higher than 3 inches off the ground.

From here, YOU HAVE to land in a solid fifth position to get into the attitude front. Don’t do some random assemblé into attitude front… that’s not a thing. Be super turned out! While perfectly balanced, you need to allongé first, then cleanly roll down from pointe before transfering to the attitude back. Make sure when you tombé that heel is super far forward, or flatten it to the audience, and then over cross the attitude back. Ideally, your working foot should be seen on the other side your tutu, and ideally above the shoulder. You get three sets of this horrible, but super beautiful combination.

Some waltzes happen… then the famous diagonal… chassé to relevé arabesque, stepping through to fourth, and pirouettes… The hard part about this combination is obviously the turn… but it is really rolling down cleanly and closing into that fifth front to get into the chassé that kills everyone. (Check out notes on pirouettes) It is okay to do doubles, but really… after the age of thirteen… you really need to be doing triples. We can all thank Gillian Murphy for setting this standard. Make sure the last one closes fifth back so you can get into a beautiful sous-sus/sus-sous. Or you could be a baller like Natalisa Osipova and just do double tours.

As you open the back leg, cleanly roll down, heel forward. A big traveling chassé and a good grand jeté throws you as far over stage right as possible, followed by a jeté… turn it out, point your feet. The bourrés, keep your legs crossed.. at all times.. the back leg has to do the traveling.

Finally, the last diagonal of step-overs, lame ducks comes into the play. For me… I prefer lame ducks to come cleanly from fifth, meaning travel on the first step and cross tightly over with the second, and quickly replace the legs. Add the doubles, change the port de bras. Do whatever artstically makes you happy, as long as you are clean.

Character Notes: By defintion, an odalisque is a female slave or concubine in a harem. Which is wonderful that we are giving these roles to young girls. There is a lot of sex appeal to this variation, which at thirteen is mighy questionable if you ask me. But, I am not your parent, or your coach… But I wouldn’t be putting a thirteen year old in a crop top, and ask them to pretend sell their body out. You could take the sad approach, that you are sad you are being sold into slavery. Gillian Murphy did that, I think.

What does a young person en pointe look like in this variation? The problem with this variation, as I have seen in competition… and online is that most everyone… even primaries and pre-comp on flat still look terrible. But, there are many exceptions to that rule that I have seen in the glassroom and in real life… But this young girl looked pretty decent, and showed a lot of potential within this variation. I think in this video she is 13…

But even for prix de lausanne she took a different variation… Maybe because the stage is raked? Or maybe she was tired of that variation… who knows. But the difference and growth shows a lot.

And again, Odalisque… just not a variation you should be taking to competition unless you trunly are ready for that. Just because you can do some wonky turns doesn’t mean you should be taking a turning variation. Remember, these competitions are to showcase your potential, not messy technique. At the end of the day, classical ballet is about constraint, control and finessed technique.


Notes on Kitri, ACT I

Known for those insane sissones with that insane cambré back and attitude position or as contemporary dancers call them firebirds, Kitri Act I was made for the “jumping girl”. Commonly used at competition, this show-off, bravura variation gets the audience going. The reason? First, it is one of the few bravura variations for women (meaning its all turns and jumps), and secondly because the impressiveness of the technique. What most people forget, that as impressive as the jump is, or the turns, none of it matters if you aren’t turned out. Secondly, this variation has to have a lot of power, with control or else you will just look like a bull in a china shop. Thirdly, you have to embrace the spiciness of the character, which allows the port de bras to not be in classical positions… meaning style trumps classicism in the upper body.

Kitri Don Q Act 1 variation

Okay, so lets begin breaking down this variation. The opening… the castanets call for quickly turned out runs. Personally, I like it when the runs are in side profile back, so the audience sees your back and then the slightest face and smirk, and then on the jump in second, give a little spice and attack.

The opening step involves a pas de chat, a battement, and either a step over or fouetté, clean precisicions and a strong jeté in attitude, or not, or even an italian/grand pas de chat. This combination is not only fast, but it has to be precise and dead on with the music.

-In the pas de chat, make sure we see the full diamond at the height of the jump. Don’t turn in the second leg to compensate for the battement.

-Turn out the working leg in grand battement and make sure you are as flat to the audience as possible to give your body the longest line. Keep the shoulders down and head inclined slightly back to keep with the Spanish style.

-Control the come down of the working leg.

-If you are going to do a step-over make sure you turn out completely side profile/ de côte to show your heel. If you are going to do the fouetté, turn out the tombé completely in croisé and give yourself a port de bras that allows you to really get a good clean whip.

-For the runs en pointe, TRAVEL and pick your knees up, it makes it spicy.

The next sequence of steps involves that crazy sissone, and to achieve accuracy in the position, you want to make sure you get a good pop at the top. If you are going to do the double rond de jambe, make sure you are in effacé, and really get the accent out. If you are going to the attitudes, make sure each step in between is turned out.

-To get a good jump, relax your heels on the ground and build the energy from the bottom of the plié through the back of your leg.

-Make sure you don’t bend into attitude too soon, wait till you are the highest point to fold into the position.

-Land fully turned out…

The final section of this variations is the diagonal of traveling pirouettes from fifth. Make them spicy, and I prefer the accent up… and stay up. I also like it when you start with a double lame duck to give yourself momentum. This is where you can add doubles, port de bras and many other “tricks” to make the variation more exciting. The most important thing is that you hit a clean, relaxed and turnout position every time. PET PEEVE: don’t had fouettés….

Finally for the ending, you usually do an attitude and hold it… then run off… I like the attitude and then step through and take a knee. This is better for competition so you can bow.

For the more advance student: Besides the turnout being most important… make sure you you understand what lines look best on your body. In this variation, because of the quickness, the lines has to be so clear and so precise… if not, you look like you are flailing around. Another thing you need to pay attention to- eye contact with the audience without compromising the neckline. A lot of dancers interpret spicy as chin down and eyes up… making them have double chin…

For everyone: Because of the speed you have to have quick and strong footwork. You should never sickle, and your feet should point like daggers.

COSTUMING… okay be tasteful… Don’t order the revolution costume… If you want to save money, just do the variation in a red rehearsal skirt and black leotard. Don’t have this huge puffy twenty layer skirt… it is not flattering whatsoever. It is actually pretty tacky. Finally, remember the more layers you add to the skirt, the heavier it is and harder to control. Don’t make this into a can can either… I’m all for playing with the skirt… buuuut so many people turn it into the can can… which brings me to the under garment. YOU HAVE TO ATTACH the panty to the costume! You can just put on a pair of black spanks. When you turn… and move.. you see the line and your stomach…


Notes on Cupid

Whether you are twelve or twenty, this variation is one of the most recognizable variations for those who have danced. For a lot, this variation was the first variation they learned in variations class (that or Florine from Sleeping Beauty). This is the variation known as Cupid from Don Quixote. This extremely fast petit allegro variation actually doesn’t have that many petit allegro steps, but the music is extremely fast. From this God awful blonde wig, to the flowy tunic, everything about this variation says, “Hello, I’m Cute.”

Notes on Cupid

Usually reserved for a short girl, this variation opens up with the a series of tombé relevés into attitude plié relevé effacé positions. You need to remember a couple things in this opening sequence:

  1. Turn out the supporting leg in the tombé.
  2. Don’t overshoot the corner, and stay square.
  3. Never whack your leg into the positions, place them nicely. If you are going to do a low effacé leg, lean over the leg to help the line. If you are going to do a high attitude back, don’t pinch your neck back to help make the line.
  4. Keep the arms exstremely soft, and keep the eyeline in all the positions.

Hold the attititude to be with the music, and change the head.

The next sequence of the variations requires a back diagonal of plié relevé pirouettes to the inside. When you are doing the chassé/tombé, TURNOUT… Hold the working knee back to give you the most turn out and longest line. Make sure you get that knee all the way straight.

The next sequence requires fast foot work, and involves you to be extremely turned out. Focus on hitting all of the positions before the music so you can hold the positions. This is important because you have to be MUSICAL.

Below is Evgenia Obraztsova doing cupid. Personally it is too slow for my taste… but the technique is spot on, and the performance is ideal. It is about being cheerful and constantly changing your facial expressions of happiness and excited. Her eyes play to the audience very well.

Mélanie Hurel of Paris Opera does another stunning version. The Nureyev version. It is more dainty, more french, faster, and done in a full tutu.

Below is Riverbank Dance Company’s young girl (2017) doing the variation on flat. While there are turn out issues, the technique is clean, and the young dancer is polished. She is probably 10? Notice in the upstage diagonal that she hits coup de pied, fifth and fourth.


Jillian 2 copy.jpg

Issue 10

An inside look at Jillian Davis and her extraordinary journey in dance. Standing at 6’2″, overcoming injury, and dancing with grace, ABE is proud to have her on our cover. Read more clicking above.

You Don’t Want to Miss Out!!

On March 3, 2018 A Ballet Education and the Phoenix Ballet are partnering up in Phoenix, Arizona to put on a show you don’t want to miss out on.

Jillian Davis and Andrew Brader // Photo by Paul B Goode


Come see our latest issues cover stars: Adiarys Almeida and Taras Domitro perform Don Q Pas de Deux!! Rasta Thomas, creator of Bad Boys of Ballet and Rock the Ballet and co-host of a Ballet Talk!! Jillian Davis and Andrew Brader of Complexions Contemporary Ballet. Brooklyn Mack and Maki Onuki of the Washington Ballet. Madison Penney and Slawomir Wozniak Jr in Satanella Pas De Deux. Tia Wenkman and Zherlin Ndudi in Diane and Acteon pas de deux and many more!

To Buy Tickets Click Below!!!

Still want more? Come to the reception after and hang out with all of us!!



Talisman Pas De Deux…

Talisman? It seems that this is the year that everyone and their mom is competing and or working on the variation from The Talisman. But, the reality is, and I hate to be the one to pop the bubble, no one is doing the variation the variation from the Talisman. Originally the Talisman 1889, and was presented as a 4 act ballet. Thank goodness that it didn’t survive. In 1895 Petipa revived the the Talisman as a 3 act ballet and had two male principal roles, one of which was created by Enrico Cecchetti. Then in 1909 it was revived by Legat, who asked Drigo to add new orchestrations to the original score, and the role that was once Cecchetti’s was danced by Nijinsky.

Anyways, this goes back to what I was saying in the beginning, Talisman Pas De Deux has nothing to do with the Talisman. in 1955, Pyotr Gusev constructed together a  pas de deux. The musical score to the pas de deux is broken up into the following:

  • Entrée- the Valse des spirits from the Prologue of The Talisman
  • Adage- an adagio from the final act of the Talisman
  • Male Variation – Variation of Ta-Hor from Act 2 of the Pas d’action from the Pharaoh’s Daughter (And if you ask me… the Pharaoh’s daughter’s variation is much harder than the jazzerina tricks used today… but that’s neither here nor there)
  • Female Variation – the Pizzicato of the Black Pearls from the Pearl
  • Coda – a waltz coda from the first act of The Talisman

Then more recently, Kremlin Ballet condensed the The Talisman with Talisman Pas De Deux to create Vasily Madvedev’s The Talisman Grand Pas D’ensemble.



Okay, so what is this post really about? Okay, truthfully it is about the costuming and the choreography.

Cropped photographic postcard of the danseur Vaslav Nijinsky (1889-1950) costumed as the God Vayou in the dancer/choreographer/teacher Nikolai Legat’s (1869-1937) revival of the choreographer Marius Petipa (1818-1910) and the composer Riccardo Drigo’s (1846-1930) ballet Le Talisman.

But wait… The male variation’s costume actually comes from the Legat staging from the Principal’s Character is titled Hurricane… And then some how we have taken Indian Maharajah and turned it into some sexy little greek number… And then instead of doing his actualy variation, we are going to borrow the Pharoah’s daughter (another “ethnic” ballet) and still white wash it?

Originally the costuming for the female in The Talisman was harem pants and then for the pas de fleurs: a tutu; which transferred from shorter romantic to platter. Some still use this idea for the costuming.


So somehow, we decided to strip the Talisman of all it’s Indian culture and just turn it into a “less ethnic” ballet and make it Greek or Roman?

Buuuuuut…. So, the choreography/music we see today is actually from Petipa/Drigo’s the Pearl and because that’s the case, the variation should be performed in an oyster shell? White Perle is done in a white tutu, black pearls are not done in black tutus…



Just some food for thought…

Notes on Second Position / Perfect Symmetry

Second Position is usually noted as the easiest position of the five as it has the least amount of pressure on the hips and knees, but lately I have been finding that second position might be even more difficult than first if done properly. Let’s break it down…

Second Position Rectanble

The idea of Second position takes Davinci’s Vitruvian man and then shortens the arms to elongate the legs. This is done by the curving of the port de bras. Then if you wanted to elongate the legs even more you would go on relevé, and even further go en pointe.

When standing in second position, not only are you making sure that your hips are equally between to feet, you are also lining up the hips to make sure they are not behind or in front of your feet. A common mistake in grand plié, is to allow your hips to shift back… but that is wrong, it also increases the amount of stress on the inside of your knee.

Second position allows you to really feel the turnout from the backs of your legs because your legs aren’t touching, so you have to really visualize the spiral coming from the back and opening your hips. If done properly, it will allow you to plié with exact alignment of the knees over the second toe and not putting pressure anywhere else.

Don’t forget… last day to buy technique trackers! Buy the digital downloads today and print as many are you need! 


In second position it is easy to let your arches drop or let your feet pronate or supinate because there is not checks and balances. Where in first your heels and knees are touching, and fifth you are toe to heel, heel to toe. So, in second it is important to remember to keep your arches lifted, five toes spread on the floor, and the feeling of all five metatarsals evenly touching the floor. You should also feel your weight in the pads of your feet and support by the lower arch.

Remember, and this is pretty standard… don’t lift your heels in second position… which is truly the test of second position which makes it extremely difficult. Because the pelvis is free, it allows the Achilles to be free. Meaning, you can fully stretch your achilles out.

This is when people like to agree to disagree on how wide a second position should be.

second position

Classical Ballet really calls for a refined second position. Meaning 1 or 1 and a half times your foot length in the gap. This is included for pointe work. Where, updated technique allows for a wider or “healthier” second position.

Classical Second Position:
Pros: It is cleaner and forces the dancer to focus on turnout and alignment more, stretches the Achilles more.
Cons: It can create a shallower demi-plié, it is harder to achieve a nice grand plié and it is harder to master.

Updated Second Position:
Pros: easier on the body, allows for a bigger hamstring stretch
Cons: More can go wrong in grand plié and can put more pressure on the knees.

When doing an updated second position, I think the aesthetic is nicer when the arm is higher and less curved and more about length. Whichever one you choose, make sure it looks right on your body. For example, I have really long arms, so when I do the more classical second position, I have ot curve and place my arm a little more than I would usually to keep my body in a nice proportion.

Things to remember in Second Position:
Go long. Reach each scapula away from eachother to create the widest back.
Longest neck line
Really open those hips, thing of opening French doors to allow you to turn out more
Keep the weight even, don’t sit back or push forward, don’t favor one leg over the other.

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Technique Trackers Printed…

Hey everyone, apparently more people wanted in on the BETA testing group of A Ballet Education’s Technique Trackers… So, I have ordered another round to be printed and shipped out to everyone on February 20. Click here to Purchase  (I am only printing 50, and then no more until the full tracker.) Thank you again for everyone who has provided feedback. Additionally, don’t forget it is the last chance ot buy any digital downloads. As of Thursday, A Ballet Education’s store will be now integrated into the site, so no more additional sites like redbubble or weebly. Thank you for understanding!

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Notes on Fifth Position

Fifth position: home base. This position can be the best feeling in the world, or it can be your worst enemy. It is painfully beautiful, gives you the longest leg line, and most of all it is the ultimate measure of turnout, placement and technique. The ideal fifth position is taking the feet in first position and overlapping them to create two parallel lines giving your legs two diagonal lines. As most teachers would say, “toe to heel, heel to toe.” This position creates a narrow hip line, and brings your body into the longest standing position of the body. But, it isn’t easy achieving this position.

Not only do you have to understand how the upper body works, and how the core lifts, but most importantly you have to understand how to use the backs of your legs (click to learn more) or you will get a distorted– heavy position; opposed to a long and light position.

You should never grip your quads in fifth. Truthfully, you should just never grip your quads. The inside of your thighs should lay extremely flat, and your knees should be facing opposite walls and pulled back. A good fifth position will have the knees crossing but not touching. This would be perfect 180 degree turnout and then some.

Fifth Position


1.One of the biggest mistakes most students make in fifth position… is when crossing into fifth they relax their core and causes the pelvis to tip forward. Students think it is a way you relieve pressure or cheat your turnout… You actually want to do the complete opposite. You should be so pulled up in the front of your hips that your fifth closes seamlessly. Additionally, you should be rotating from the backs of your legs to keep your pelvis supported, and lifting through your core to keep the pelvis stable.
2.Another pet peeve in fifth position is a relaxed front knee. It is this pseudo Miss America position that grosses me out. Not to mention, if you are relaxing your knee, you are probably using your quad in everything else and you are just going to get big thighs.
3.You should also never pronate forward or back. You should never force a fifth position, you are asking for knee problems. There is nothing wrong with having 150 degrees of turn out. The ideal is always going to be 180, but if you can’t achieve 180 with your hips rotation, knee rotation, ankle rotation without compromising alignment; then just stay where you are at. But keep cross training and stretching to eventually be strong enough to get to 180.
4.Don’t ever do open fifth. Always cross your fifth. This whole open fifth is awkward… Not to mention open fifth in pointe shoes is ridiculously ugly. Ideally, you shouldn’t see your back foot, but if your hips aren’t flexible enough to hold the position, keep working hard.
5.Fifth position should never ever be forced. Turnout can be stretched, but you work on turnout in pilates, gyro and yoga… You use barre and fifth to strengthen and lengthen the position. Forcing turnout causes numerous problems on the hips, ankles, knees, pelvis and lower back. So, again, just do it.


Notes on First Position 

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master ballet academy summer intensive
Students of Master Ballet Academy SI 2017 Performing Sleeping Beauty.


Programs associated with companies are great, and in fact, necessary, especially if you are in that upper age bracket (17-19). But, are these programs the best for that lower age bracket, specifically 11-15? There are five programs across the United States who are proving that good schools come in small packages, and the training is being recognized by major schools across the world. All of these summer courses offer everything from technique class to modern, pas de deux to contemporary and a variety of cross training. These programs are great and they are definitely something to consider because these programs are worth the money. Also, keep track of your progress this summer with the A Ballet Education Technique Tracker! DON’T FORGET TO APPLY ASAP!! THE DEADLINES ARE COMING UP!

(Leslie Browne teaching students at Dallas Conservatory Summer Intensive // Photo courtesy of the Dallas Conservatory)

THE LIST: 5 Summer Programs You Can’t Miss Out On!

Master Ballet Academy (Scottsdale, Arizona) (
*A Ballet Education aka me… will be guest teaching here*

2018SummerIntensiveFlyer.jpg-Hotel Extended Stay
-Large Classes with available Private Lessons (You can request me)
-Modified Russian Technique
-YAGP Outstanding School, Produced winners of YAGP, VARNA
-Contemporary Intensive
-Young Dancer Intensive



Ellison Ballet (Manhattan, New York)(
-Hotel Extended Stay
-Large Classes
-Modified Russian Technique
-YAGP Outstanding School, Produced winners of YAGP, MOSCOW IBC
-Variations and Pas De Deux Intensives
-Guest Faculty is world renowned and many are YAGP Judges


“The most important thing I’ve learned from Mr. Ellison in his Pas de Deux intensive is that our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. Be ready to be challenged beyond your limits, but at the end of each day you walk away knowing that you’ve become a stronger dancer, artist, and human being.”
-Rachelle di Stasio, American Ballet Theatre

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Meet me at the barre 😉 #tbt #cheers

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The Dallas Conservatory (Dallas, Texas)(
advanced intensive ballet
-Hotel Extended Stay
-Host Families
-Medium Class Size
-Various Pedagogies
-YAGP Outstanding School, produced winners of YAGP
-Musical Theater, Contemporary Intensives
-Guest Faculty is world renowned and many are YAGP Judges

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1st Place Junior Classical Winner @kali_kleiman at YAGP Dallas! Full list of Awards follows 🎉Congrats to all on a stupendous start to YAGP season – 4 more cities to go! ✈️✈️✈️ 🌟2018 Outstanding School🌟 1st Place Ensembles 2nd Place Pas de Deux Contemporary Top 3, Senior: 1st Place: Eden Ryder Classical Ballet Top 3, Junior: 1st Place: Kali Kleiman 3rd Place: Ally Whitley Contemporary Top 3, Junior: 2nd Place: Ally Whitley 3rd Place: Charlotte Junge Classical Top 12, Senior: Eden Ryder Rachel Rohrich Classical Top 12, Junior: Charlotte Junge Olivia Bell Savannah Cummings Contemporary Top 12, Senior: Ava.Noble…… ……………………………………………………………..Contemporary Top 12, Junior: Caroline Powell Kali Kleiman Olivia Bell Classical Top 12, Pre-Competitive: Madeleine Chen Contemporary Top 12, Pre-Competitive: Madeleine Chen Chloe Kim Classical Top 24, Junior: Caroline Powell Dani van Creveld Natalia Scuilla 🎉🎊💥👌💯‼️👏👍💕🌟🎉🎊 We could not be more proud! Thank you to all for your hard work!! SPECIAL THANKs TO COACHES Jacqueline Porter, Olga Pavlova, Clair Culin, Kate Kuether, Vincent Hardy, Ausia Jones, Megan Storey, Cat Lewellyn, and Sean Smith!😀😀😀😀😀😃😃😃😃😃😃😀😃😃😃😃😃😃#ballet #ballerina #balletpost #balletfeet #dance #dancer #bailerina #balet #tutu #costume #jacquelineporterballet #summerintensive #thedallasconservatory #outstandingschool PHOTO CREDIT: @epep1020

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Art of Classical Ballet (Pompano Beach, Florida)
-Hotel Extended Stay
-Small Class Size
-Cuban Ballet
-YAGP Outstanding School, Produced winners of IBC USA, Prix De Lausanne, YAGP


Indiana Ballet Conservatory (Indianapolis, Indiana) (better designed for girls)
-Host Families
-Medium Class Size
-Modified Russian Technique
-YAGP Outstanding School, Produced winners for Moscow IBC, VARNA
-Young Dancer Intensive (ages 6-9)
-Guest Faculty is world renowned and many are YAGP Judges

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Have you registered for your #IBCSI2018 audition yet? Attending YAGP Chicago this weekend? Here’s your chance to train with IBC’s world-class faculty this summer, or to audition for our year-round Pre-Professional Day Program! Our Chicago audition is coming up this Thursday, February 1st at Ruth Page studios. We hope to see you there! Pre-register today! — #ballet #dance #ibc #indianaballetconservatory #ballerinasofig #ballerina #instagramballerinas21 #worldwideballet #worldwidedance #balletworld_inspiration #balletpost #loveballet #balletlife #balletspirit #futureofballet #carmelballet #balletspiration #balletbabiesfeature #ballet_a #mypointemoment #vaganova #russianballet #loveindy #indymonthly #indyschild #theballetclub #worldballetproject #summerintensive #yagp2018

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Honorable Mentions
-Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet (Carlisle, Pennsylvania)
-The Rock School for Dance Education (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
-Kirov Academy DC (Washington DC)
-Southland Ballet Academy (Huntington Beach, California)
-Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical Ballet (Brooklyn, New York)

Don’t forget to plan your Summer with the A Ballet Education Day Planner!!

How is your week?

a Ballet Edcuation Planner 2

Ballet is busy! Most professional dancers are the middle of the busiest time of year for a company. Most students are in the middle of auditions and preparing for the YAGP. It can get a little chaotic… okay a lot chaotic. The first round of planners is now available, and I want your feed back, so feel free to message me with suggestions, ideas, and comments. Don’t forget to tag me in your photos or use #aballeteducation on Instagram so I can see your pages!!

a ballet education planner 3


 Don’t worry guys, I’ve got you covered. Week four!! Manly Ballet.

male ballet


Ballet Day Planner Kits!!!

Pull out your Gel Pens like it is 2001! A Ballet Education Day Planner Kits are now available and ready to use right away. Just click to buy, download, print and plan away!


I was going crazy because my students weren’t writing their corrections down… So, I started making a book for them to keep track of their work… and then I got a little carried away and was like, “These are really cute. I want one.”

So there are three packs available.

The first is the Look of the Day Packs. Designed on the more modern side of life.
10 Printable pages including:
(1) Month Page
(2) Weekly Pages
(1) Goal Planner
(1) Crosstraining Page
(5) Daily Page

The Second Kit: Starter Pack! (click here to buy)
10  printable pages of goodness. Definitely designed for the younger dancer.
(1) Monthly
(4) Weekly/ Daily Details Overviews
(1) Homework Tracker
(1) Social Media Tracker
(3) Detailed Weekly Planners
starter pack preview

Finally, the one that I think most students will want the most… the Technique Tracker. 7 Printable pages to keep track of your corrections, daily progress, and just keep track of your busy ballet life. (Click here to buy)

ballet technique tracker

Get ready for Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Ballet Teacher Problems Pack and Fat Panda Packs along with Technique Tracker Week 2! Stay up to date with the Planner Packs by entering your email below and enter a chance to win the FULL MONTH SWAN LAKE PLANNER, printed bound and ready to go!



Ballet Teacher Arrested on 16 counts…

Well known and formerly respected ballet teacher, Viktor Kabaniaev, was arrested for 16 counts of sexually assaulting a child under 14. If you don’t know him, he was the coach for Miko Fogarty in the documentary “First Position”. 

This isn’t the first and unfortunately probably won’t be the last. Last year former Ellison Teacher, and teacher at Dance Conservatory in Dover was arrested which opened a history of incidence reports and pending charges. (article) His trial is set for February 5.

From claims, to actual cases, the seriousness of these claims can ruin a ballet school. Recently in Anchorage Classical Ballet Academy had allegations of sexual misconduct against the AD, and even though it has not gone to trial, and it is still under investigation, the school has reported losing 30 percent of the students. (article)

But, last year brought cases from 29 year old Ross McCord of DC Dance Factory (article), to the highly publicized case against Peter Martins. It has accused former ABT principal dancer Marcelo Gomes and numerous other dancers across the world. But it isn’t just accusations, Indiana U’s Guo Ping Wangwas sentenced to two years of probation following a guilty plea. (article) Another guilty was Niel Harris in the UK. (article)

The list goes on and on, and last year, it wasn’t just men being accused. Female teachers were also accused of harassment, verbal abuse and mental abuse.

Unrequited Love

Hello beautiful people, Happy Saturday! David is a gentleman and a gem (I like this a little better than scholar) for letting me be a guest writer not only once, but twice now! Words cannot describe how much I appreciate it because the words I’m about to write in this article are very important to me. I hold them near and dear to my heart… and here’s why:

I always told myself I’d never be in an abusive relationship. I always envisioned myself being able to leave. Little did I know I was just young and naive–because it’s not that easy.


In result, I never imagined my dating life would be what it was when I accepted my sexuality and put myself out there. I was dating one monster in disguise after another. And somehow each time they left my world felt like it was falling apart. Each and every time, it felt like they stole something from me. It was my optimism. Because for years nights were long and heartache was inevitable while living in the rules of someone else’s game.

andrew kendall book review unrequited
David’s Copy… “I actually just finished reading it.”

And that’s what I was doing. I would make excuses for mistreatment. I would placate bad behavior. But I was young then, didn’t know my own self-worth, and was naive to the covert aspects of both narcism and emotional abuse. Since then, I have learned so much.

I have learned so much that I decided to write it all down. Which is why I am happy, nervous, and excited to announce the release of my second book, Unrequited: Things I Learned from Trying to Love the Wrong People.  

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courtesy of Andrew Kendall

It is a diary made public–a guidebook in hopes that others may learn from what I have been through. Inside are seven years of terrible experiences that shaped me, changed me, and often made me feel broken. But I am not broken now. In fact, I was never broken. This book is me taking back my power–exercising my right for closure after being made to feel I didn’t deserve it. Though a very personal book, the details feel universal.

Unrequited is my heart poured onto paper. It is both raw and real. It is both terrifying and liberating. But more than any of this it is educational. While writing I learned more about life, about myself, and about love. I realized my patterns and similar patterns of those around me. I realized that I created this book for my own personal sense of closer, but also so that other people may benefit. Because there is no stronger feeling than hope–than realizing you are not alone. And those of us who have experienced the darker side of love are never alone.

This book means the world to me because in a world of people who would try to invalidate me I wrote anyway.

If you are interested, you can purchase my book on amazon by clicking here. It is my hope that you will give it a chance–even if you’ve never been abused and just want to learn more about love itself.

Have a wonderful weekend. And may true love, not the facade many face, always find you.

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A few new things are finally here at A Ballet Education!
a ballet education

The first thing up is, I am putting up a bunch of videos on Youtube. I promise that the quality of filming will get better!

Also, a lot of you have asked to be fully illustrated instead of doodled… and my answer has always been no… until now. I finally feel comfortable enough to do faces. On SALE TODAY for the first 20 buyers.

illustrate me

Finally, I am now available for consultations online!