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

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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.


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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!

A WEEK IN BALLET…

Cover photo: Our cover girl Jillian Davis and her partner Andrew Brader of Complexions dancing in Phoenix Ballet‘s Golden Swan Gala, performing Dwight Rhoden’s Amazing Grace. Photo by Alexandra Rose/ VOGUE IMAGES. (Click here to read more about Jillian Davis)

jillian davis andrew brader complexions

A week in ballet… haven’t done one of these in a while, but I didn’t have much else to say, well I did, but it would probably just create more controversy and would rather not have one of those weeks. Over the past two weeks I have been experiencing crazy things in my personal life including a major car accident (I was a passenger in a Lyft), coming home to Charleston, the ups and downs of dating and the struggles of finding inspiration for A Ballet Education. I did find inspiration in moss, so I created the April Tracker, now available for purchase.

APRIL 2018

So, what has been going on in Ballet?

St. PETERSBURGADC IBC in St. Petersburg Florida has started. Some say, this is a good warm up for what is going to happen at the YAGP finals in New York City. But the reality, this competition garners a lot more credit than people give it. The competition itself is outline in a previous issue by Wesliegh Dichter. (Click here to read). To get the gist, you aren’t judged just on performance, but you are judged on class, compulsory classical and contemporary variations, and performance. Then all of the scores are averaged together to present the winners. Don’t forget to watch their live stream!

SAN FRANCISCO- San Francisco Ballet has announced their new promotions for the upcoming season… All three are men. Wei Wang has been promoted to Principal, and Ben Fremantle and Lonnie Weeks have both been pulled from the corps to be soloists.

SALT LAKE CITY- Ballet West has announced their 18/19 season with their strongest PR campaign ever. If you didn’t catch it in Issue 10… The season will include Jewels, Swan Lake, Onegin and Beauty and the Beast for their second company and school.

ballet west a ballet education

SEATTLE– Today Pacific Northwest Ballet wrapped up Director’s Choice in Seattle and the 2018-2019 Season looks like it is going to be spectacular. They open their season with Jerome Robbins Festival followed by all new works. The Sleeping Beauty, Director’s Choice, Midsummer Night’s Dream and Themes ad Variations will all be mounted… They also have branded each program pretty great.

LONDONThe Royal Ballet is to stage an all female production by Aleta Collins. This is a big deal as it wasn’t until 2017 that a female choreographer has been invited to create work for the Royal Ballet. Since 1999. This is one of many new PR stunts Royal Ballet is doing… they have partnered with Erdem for Chris Wheeldon’s Corybantic Games.

SOUTH BRISBANE, QUEENSLAND The Queensland Ballet is going to be getting a major do-over/ make over. News of their new state supported 10 million dollar expansion plan is going underway. Their new building is going t one a state-of-the-art ballet center designed by Conrad Gargett. Queensland Ballet is in the middle of their production of La Bayadere, which is developed quite well, with better storytelling during the colonization of India. It was done by Greg Horsman. (They just need better costumes… though I do like their shades… It is done in crop tops to look more authentic.)

BOSTONBoston Ballet has announced three exciting tours starting in June 2018 at Lincoln Center with the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglwood in August, and for the first time, Boston Ballet will be going to Paris to perform at the iconic Theatre des Champs-Elysees in April 2019. They will be taking a contemporary bill including Forsythes Pas/Parts 2018, a world premiere, and Jiri Kylian’s Wings of Wax.

10 Ballet Movies You Should Own…

There has been quite a great amount of exceptional ballet out there lately… and thankfully a lot of it has been recorded on film. Here are my 10 movies that I truly do enjoy… and have purchased. I reference them for style, for technique, for inspiration, and just to enjoy. Most of them are recent featuring dancers we all know and drool over. Click to shop.

New York City Ballet in Paris (Specifically for Sara Mearns in Walpurgisnacht and Everyone in Symphony in C)

Royal Ballet featuring a whole lot of goodness… Iana Salenko, Federico Bonelli, Carlos Acosta, Sarah Lamb, Steven McRae, Marinela Nunez…. do I need to say more?

Gala of the Stars… Basically everyone…

Royal Ballet’s Anastasia…

Royal Ballet’s Frankenstein… Liam Scarlett’s new full length ballet in partnership with San Francisco Ballet.

Marco Spada featuring Evguenia Obraztsova and Olga Smirnova, Semoin Chudin and Igor Tysvirko.

Mariinsky takes on Balanchine’s Jewels with the flawless Ulyana Lopatkina.

ABT: A History is a really inspiring movie and ridiculously well filmed.

The Turning Point will never get old… never.

And either will Center Stage…

 

Time to Audition… Summer Intensives 2018… What to do?

Summer Intensives Ballet 2018

Summer Intensives seem far off into next year, but as we all know, the auditions are just around the corner. In fact, most registrations open tomorrow, December 1, 2018. Don’t freak out, if you haven’t given a thought to summer intensives because you are focused on surviving Nutcracker, and prepping for YAGP, you aren’t alone. It seems that the ballet season for students is becoming more intense and more demanding every year. If you are a parent who is overwhelmed, check out some of the Summer Intensive/Program posts.


Every year A Ballet Education receives hundreds of emails asking questions like, “What Summer Intensive should my student go to? Where is the best Summer Intensive? How can I afford a summer course?” And the list goes on… So this year, as we start our summer program series, we should talk about what is happening in ballet.

The demand for ballet training is high and the demand for ballet celebrity is even higher.   We have created the social media ballerina, brand ambassadors, baby ballerinas and the quest for perfection has intensified. Exposure has become everything, but it always has been. Summer Intensives or Summer Programs used to be 5 weeks of intense training and a chance to be seen by ballet companies and prestigious schools in hopes to be asked to stay for the year. Now, companies and schools are recruiting off of Instagram and other Social Media Networks. Young dancers are becoming brand ambassadors at the age of nine, and most are becoming entrepreneurs by sixteen. More and more people are starting to think that Summer Intensives are a waste of money, and really just a chance for ballet schools/companies to make money. Especially, since most are using the YAGP and Social Media as a chance to audition for multiple schools in a weekend instead of driving around every weekend for an hour and a half audition… Unfortunately, this is half true. With the demand for ballet technique at an all time high, and the demand for ballet technique, turnout and body type also at an all time intensity… it makes us wonder if going to a summer program is even worth it. And the answer is simple… Go where you are wanted!

There seems to be three types of summer programs now:

  1. The Company Route: these summer programs are designed the more traditional way. They are used to recruit students into their year-round school/trainee programs and eventually feed into the company. These programs are usually attached to major companies and the dancers that are going to these programs are already strong and technically efficient.
  2. The Training Route: these summer programs are designed to get through grueling days of intense training. Programs like these enforce heavy technique, repertoire, pas de deux, and more.
  3. The Fun/Recreational Route: these programs are designed for the serious ballet dancer, but not looking to go professional.

To answer a lot of questions… I don’t know what program is right for your child because I haven’t seen your child dance. I don’t know their learning habits or their strengths and weaknesses. But here is what I do know about going into the 2018 Summer/Competition Season. As a reminder, this summer the USA IBC takes places in Jackson from June 10-23 which could put a damper on your Summer Intensive plans. Most SI’s require you attend the full session and most start that last week. Additionally, it also means a lot of competitive ballet schools will be missing teachers that week because of the competition.

But, this year here are some of the best Summer Intensive Recommendations based on recommendations from colleague, how my own students have progressed, and who is getting asked to stay for the year and feed into companies. Additionally, received information from Companies on acceptance rates to the year-round school and scholarships:
(Here is last year’s list)

  1. San Francisco Ballet School’s Summer Intensive (San Francisco, CA) program is broken up into two amazing sessions. The first being for the intermediate dancer (3 Weeks), and the second for the Advanced/Pre-Pro division (4 Weeks). San Francisco Ballet School’s Summer Intensive always produces strong results. SFB’s SI offers everything from strict Vaganova training to Balanchine Repertoire to Contemporary…
    You must audition for these two programs and registration opens December 1, 2018…. Which is why I am publishing this today…  Pre-register to save money.
    Don’t miss out and check the audition schedule here
    Why you should go to this Summer Intensive? Because it feeds San Francisco Ballet…Here’s a quote from San Francisco Ballet School Director Patrick Armand. “San Francisco Ballet School offers a full summer intensive program with a complete curriculum and distinguished faculty. We attract the highest caliber of talented male and female students from around the globe; more than 60% of the Company members in San Francisco Ballet trained in the School.”

     

  2. Paris Opera Ballet School is a newer program, but arguably POBS offers some of the best training in the world, if not the best classical ballet training. If you aren’t familiar with what makes French Ballet so popular, it is the dancer’s body’s ability to digest turnout and technique while remaining effortless. (website)
  3. Houston Ballet School‘s Summer Intensive (Houston, TX) is growing fast and strong. It has always been one of the most reputable SI’s out there, but with HBA’s social media campaigns, it is truly showcasing exceptional American classical training. This six week course offers students a chance to train at HBA and hopefully get a spot in the year-round school. Click here for the HBA audition schedule.
  4. Master Ballet Academy (Scottsdale, AZ) is offering their Summer Intensive again. Their five week intensive offers intense technical training with the Wozniak’s and their large guest faculty. Auditions are submitted online and open January 1, 2018. Master Ballet Academy is known for their huge social media influence, updated Vaganova technique, and pristine precision in execution. (website)
  5. Ellison’s Summer Intensive (NYC) dates have been announced along with their tuition rates. Also known for their intense technical training, Ellison breaks their summer program up into Classical Variations Intensive, Classical Pas De Deux Intensive and Summer Intensive. Their national audition dates have been announced. (website)
  6. Even though they haven’t announced their audition dates, another coveted school to attend over the summer is National Ballet of Canada‘s. More info by clicking here.
  7. Bolshoi Ballet Academy SI NY 2018 has been announced as well. Another chance at hardcore Russian Training and spending time in NYC, this Summer Intensive is becoming more and more popular and exclusive as the demand for Modified/Updated Russian Training is at an all time high. (website)
  8. The School of American Ballet has announced their dates in NYC for July 1-August 4, 2018. But, School of American Ballet has also announced their new Junior Program for young dancers June 25-30 (ages 10-12). They also will be continuing their California Workshop but have changed the age to match the Junior Program, (10-12). These programs are designed to recruit to the School of American Ballet, which I only recommend if your student wants to be a Balanchine Dancer and dance for NYCB. (website) Pre-register to save money.
  9. Pacific Northwest Ballet (Seattle, WA) has announced their dates and audition tour. PNB has  their audition fee at $45, which is kind of insane… But, it is a great Balanchine program. (website)
  10. And then take your pick between Boston Ballet and The Rock School. It was a tie.

Still need more advice? Email me. 

 

Is ballet getting too good too fast?

the baby ballerina

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


Gold medal and Special Award winner at Senior devision Evelina Godunova

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

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THE BEST OF THE BEST… TOP BALLET SCHOOLS OF 2017

I see London, I see France, where is the best education for dance?
The Top Ten Ballet Schools in the World copy

It is that time of year again as young hopeful ballet students decide where to go train for the year. This year was a promising year for ballet, as the talent pool keeps growing and growing. What does this mean for most dancers looking to find the top training? It means that the top schools in the world are becoming more and more exclusive. Why is it so important to go an elite school? It offers some of the best training, but it also creates an environment pushing students to perform at their best constantly. Being surrounded by their peers, you can see what the job market will be like within your graduating class. Additionally, being seen at your year-end showcase or show matters, so that you can get a job. That is the goal in the long run, right? So, you have to plan ahead and be prepared.

This year the Ballet Education team was privileged enough to see the top ballet schools around the world work. And after a long day of meetings, debating, arguing, and seeking second and third opinions by the ballet world’s best we have come up with the top ten list of 2017. This year we talked about what happened this year in the ballet world, and how the schools reflect the progression of ballet technique. We also considered employability, size, opportunities, networking, visibility and graduation rates. So, as this is the much-anticipated list from a Ballet Education, we should go straight in.

  1. Royal Ballet School, United Kingdom | Divided into two schools, the lower school being White Lodge, and the upper school, Royal Ballet boasted an extremely strong class once again. As this exclusive school might be the Princeton of ballet schools, Royal Ballet School’s exclusivity reflects the amount of natural talent housed at this institution. Known for their constraint and control, dancers at the upper school continuously prove to be some of the best in the world by landing ferocious jobs and rising quickly to the top. (https://www.royalballetschool.org.uk)
  2. Vaganova School, St. Petersburg | The Harvard of Ballet. This historic institution remains as one of the top producing schools in the world. Not only do they produce large, wonderful graduating classes but also boasts some of, history’s greatest ballet dancers. (http://vaganovaacademy.com)
    Watch their graduation performance here:
  3. Paris Opera Ballet School, France | As the Yale of Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet School was one of the most exclusive schools to go to, but in recent years, POBS has expanded on their international acceptance rate making the French technique and pedagogy a little more relevant to today’s young ballerinas. (https://www.operadeparis.fr/en/artists/ballet-school/admission)
  4. Master Ballet Academy, USA | The USC of Ballet Schools. While there are the Ivies and their historical prestige, young schools are emerging to the top offering elite training and cultivating a newer generation of dancers progressing the ballet technique. While exclusivity runs high to become a Master’s student, Master Ballet Academy is known to take various body types and turn them out to be ballet dancers. Master Ballet Academy is the newest school on the list, but don’t be afraid, they focus on young students, as this year, it was quite obvious on the ballet competition circuit they are a force to be reckoned with. At the YAGP this year, it felt like half of the finalists were from Master Ballet Academy.  (http://masterballetacademy.com) It isn’t too late to enroll in their Grand Prix Intensive. Contact the school as soon as possible to get a spot. (http://grandprixintensive.com)
  5. John Cranko School, Stuttgart, Germany  | The John Cranko School not only feeds Stuttgart, but this fully comprehensive school offers higher education, vocational degrees, and university entrance diplomas. And, if you are German, to board at the school and train, you are paying less than 900 USD a month… Which still beats most small competition studios in the United States. The John Cranko school also boasts one of the best men’s programs in the world, creating strong, versatile and refined male dancers…. everything that a classical male ballet dancer is. (http://en.john-cranko-schule.de)
  6. School of American Ballet, USA | As the feeder school to the New York City Ballet, the historic School of American Ballet offers one thing other companies can’t. The historic legacy and the last significant contribution to ballet pedagogy, the Balanchine Aesthetic. This aesthetic is obviously not for everyone, nor is it a widely recognized form of classical pedagogy (because it’s not), the School of American Ballet picks up where American dance ended. It is the only elite school in America that does not run on the Vaganova, Paris Opera, Royal, RAD, Cuban pedagogies. Making this school one of a kind, and remaining one of the elite schools in the world solely because it feeds the New York City Ballet. (http://sab.org)
  7. San Francisco Ballet School, USA | San Francisco Ballet School boasted a 100% graduation rate this year, and continually proves that they offer some of the best training in the world. Their men’s/boy’s program is one of the best in the country and rivals the John Cranko School’s program. SFB also offers diverse training from Russian to Balanchine, to contemporary and modern, SFB’s curriculum only improves with time. (https://www.sfballet.org/school)
  8. Moscow State Academy (Bolshoi), Moscow | While history will never forget the Bolshoi School, it seems that the Vaganova school has eclipsed the Bolshoi in fame. While the company should never reflect the school, Bolshoi’s press has been up and down, and all over the place over the past few years. With books like Bolshoi Confidential, and movies like Bolshoi Babylon, we sometimes forget about the school to it’s famous sister. It’s like being Solange Knowles to Beyonce. You put out good work and are artistically impressive, but you are overshadowed by your sister’s fame.
  9. Princess Grace Academy, Monaco | This elite school not only claims a prestigious name in history but holds the relevance of being the school to Ballets de Monte-Carlo. In recent years they have been recruiting herd at ballet competitions offering four-year scholarships to young potential students. Because of this, the Academie de Danse Princesse Grace (official name), has cultivated strong talent and nurturing them into companies. (http://www.balletsdemontecarlo.com/en/academy)
  10. National Ballet School, Toronto, Canada | The NBS at National Ballet of Canada always produces clean dancers and is internationally recognized as a leading school.  The NBS is also one of the few schools that is partnering with other schools around the world that offers exchange programs based within their international network in hopes students are able to find jobs as well as, be exposed to as many options as possible. The price tag is quite high for the NBS school as nationals pay about 23K, and international students pay 33K for 9 months of training. (http://www.nbs-enb.ca/Home)

Honorable Mentions & Other Schools that a Ballet Education Considered, in no particular order:
Sunhwa Arts Academy
The School at National Ballet Cuba
Houston Ballet Academy
JKO School
Australian Ballet School
The School at Teatro La Scala
RCPD
Ellison
CPYB
BAE
KIROV DC
The Rock School
PNB
Miami City Ballet
Royal Winnipeg
All the schools in Japan
Boston Ballet School
All the other schools in Germany
_____

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With Ballet In My Soul…

with ballet in my soul

This morning I was able to sit down and read With Ballet in my Soul: Adventures of a Globetrotting Impresario by Eva Maze. You can pre-order it on Amazon by clicking here. It should be released April 1 on Amazon.com. Who is Eva Maze? How is she relevant to ballet? Well if you don’t know what an impresario is, it is someone who usually helps financially back a performance, creation or company. She has a massive career of helping organize performances all around the world for companies like Alvin Ailey. This easy, witty read is set against the context of each place she created in. From exotic India to Paris to settling down in Sarasota, this travel narrative takes you through a side of dance history that is often forgotten about or not talked about. We often forget that to produce a show it costs a ridiculous sum of money, and this book is a sweet reminder of that history. A reminder of how a single woman could be responsible for hundreds of programs over a 40-year time span and live a very happy life… all because she loves ballet.

So, this morning, I didn’t go to ballet class as I needed to catch up on work for the blog, and I realized, I really do need to start applying for jobs that I actually want… Or, I need to finish this book and become a New York Times Best Seller… or who knows… Anyways, this morning, I sat down and decided to read this book that Moonstone Press had sent. It was quite an easy read with beautiful photos, historical programs, and at times flamboyant personalities. It was a great way to start my morning…

This was followed by rolling out my body because my body has decided to tense up like a clam before a clam bake. This was also followed by scrolling through Instagram making me miss my hot body… This was then followed by me drawing a gluttony illustration, which led to the entire set of deadly sins… Which then made me go onto the Fashion Illustration group I run on facebook and realized I have neglected the 18k members of that group, and so I answered like 50+ emails… Then my eyes started to hurt, so I decided to take a nap. What was supposed to be like an hour nap turned into a three-hour nap, making me miss my window of opportunity to take evening ballet class… So now, fat panda has to haul his butt to the gym and stretch and work out there. Normally, I would freak out about gyms, but I go to a very private gym and no one is ever there.
7 deadly sins.jpg

On another note… So I have decided that I should actually probably start practicing how to draw… I am self-taught, so I thought I should actually start practicing and paying attention to things… Then I gave up and decided I should stick to doodling and fashion illustrations. Faces are just way too hard…
Roberto Bolle Drawing

Also, if you are following me on Instagram… This week’s theme happens to be cakes… You will be able to shop these illustrations at the end of the week when I finished the series. (SHOP NOW)
Happy Birthday copy

EVERY BALLET TEACHER NEEDS THIS…

a vacation… haha just kidding, no really they do, myself included… But who has time these days to go on vacation?

Now for the real post…

As a ballet teacher, I always find it hard to find good ballet music. Sure, there are a lot of great CDs out there, but sometimes the quality is not that great, the tracks aren’t long enough for longer combinations, the tempos don’t make a lot of sense, or they are just structured kind of funny. The reality is, it would be nice to have a pianist that can play by ear and understand how to play with music in correlation to the steps, but if the budget isn’t there it isn’t there. For the past couple years, I have been mixing and matching CDs together and creating my own playlists of different CDs. Some of my favorite accompanists include (Charles Matthews, Alessio De Franzoni, David Plumpton, Nate Fifield and Gill Civil) All of these accompanists are brilliant for ballet class and all for different reasons. But, my newest, and latest and greatest discovery is for VARIATIONS class. This is a must have for every ballet teacher out there. UK based Charles Matthews recently created a collection of CDs that are rehearsal versions of variations for men and women. The collection spans 8 discs but covers literally every variation you will ever need. Specifically, there is a great rehearsal version of Laurencia and his rehearsal version for Talisman. These discs are affordable through his website, and a little more expensive on iTunes, but available. The sound quality is great, and are set at great tempos for all levels of dancing. For beginners it lets the dancers focus on the steps and technique. For the intermediate dancer it allows for the dancer to explore phrasing within the melody. And for for the advance dancer, it allows for artistic exploration within all of the notes he captures from the orchestrated versions.

Another great set of music he created are his ballet class discs as a lot of the music is ballet repertory music, so it helps familiarize students with music from the ballet. It also helps them learn how to recognize music from different ballet scores. It is definitely something worth the purchase, and a great teaching tool. It is also a great companion to the Guide to Variations.

Complete Collection Artwork.jpg
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And the envelope please… a Ballet Education’s Ballet Awards 2016

ballet awards

Each year as the season ends a history disappears. As a dancer, it means that the applause is over, that all of your hard work, hours of rehearsals, performances and stage time is gone… There is nothing left, there is no reliving the moment… Ballet is a performance art, so every performance is different, every moment is special. So, it is our job was ballet goers and ballet fans to celebrate a year of hard work. So before we go on about our favorites and all that jazz… Here is a huge round of applause to every dancer, artistic director, board member, stage hand, dresser, costume designer, lighting designer, usher, ticket person and more… everyone who was involved in making the ballet season around the world happen…. You are incredible and important in the giant cogwheel that moves ballet forward, innovates the art form, and allows dancers to share their art.

These blog awards were started as a result of having a very hard time ranking companies.I think it is easier to rank schools. But companies we are looking at artistry, and for that, we have to evaluate innovation, musicality, acting abilities and the ability to become something else… The ability to inspire and move audiences… performances to remember and so on…. Thus, I decided to create awards based on categories I think are relevant… I also just like the Oscars and the idea of pretty awards.

If you don’t know how it works… Each season I read tons of reviews and I see tons of ballet performances… Obviously, I am not flying around the world to see everything but I do read a lot and respect the opinions of other bloggers, publications, and reviewers. I also have the help of thousands of followers and ballet go-ers nominating and sending in reviews, comments, and nominations… From these, I kind of narrow it down and ask opinions of friends, colleagues and more… This allows me to decide who gets the award. Next year, it will be even better because if you subscribe to the magazine, you will actually get to vote on the top nominees in each category to select the winner alongside our editors.

This year has been another turning point for ballet… For race it has been a big deal, as Misty Copeland is truly becoming the face of Ballet in America making her rightfully the next American Ballerina, a long-standing position, usually by an ABT or NYCB darling. Other American Ballerinas in this history include Susan Jaffe, Darci Kistler, and Julie Kent and now we have Misty Copeland. This year was also a great year for choreography and innovation as premiers were happening left and right and almost impossible to keep up with. While the world of choreographers, artistic directors, and school directors are still dominated by men we look forward to a larger female presence in these jobs in this upcoming season. This year was spectacular and dancers around the world enhanced the art form, pushed the technique, and mastered the human body.

So, without further adieu, the envelope, please…


The first award of the night acknowledges our blog awards. It goes to any dancer, any company, any choreographer that our readers email about, have reviewed or have requested to see more of the blog. And this year there is a clean sweep. So I have combined categories into one award and this year’s a Ballet Education’s Blog Award goes to… BALLET WEST. With readers nominating Beckanne Sisk and Chase O’Connell for their pas de deux in Romeo and Juliet back in February… For requests to feature/opinion the company and school at Ballet West, and our readers favorite for the most follow-ups, shares, and comments on a blog post: CORPS DE BALLET CONFESSIONAL: Elizabeth Weldon. With much pleasure, they will be featured soon on our blog! Click here for more information on Ballet West. I promise I will go visit Ballet West this season and answer all of your questions…

A BALLET EDUCATION AWARD


COSTUME, SET, or LIGHTING DESIGN… and the award goes to:
Ian Falconer for the scenic and costume Designer for PNB’s New Production of George Balanchine’s the Nutcracker.


OTHER NOMINEES:
Lighting Design for Mammatus, Joffrey Ballet by Alexander V Nichols
Lighting design by David Finn for PNB’s Signature- editor’s pick Colette Posse
Set Designer John Macfarlane for Royal Ballet’s Frankenstein.
Design team behind  A Hero of our Time, Elana Zaitseva, Krill Serebrennikov, Simon Donger
Design team behind Teatro La Scala’s Cinderella: Carlo Cerri, Maurizio Millenotti, Carlo Cerri, Alessandro Grisendi, Marco Noviello


Best Reprisal of a Classic Work
American Ballet Theatre for La Fille Mal Gardée
(choreography by Fredrick Ashton,music by Ferdinand Herold, design by Osbert Lancaster, lighting by Brad Fields)
Click here for Synopsis

Other Nominees worth noting: English National Ballet’s Le Corsaire and  PNB’ take on George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker.


Student of the Year
Joohyuk Jun, Royal Ballet School* winner of YAGP

Robbie Downey, BalletFreak/ Ballet Babble, Ellison
Hang Yu, China *winner of prix de lausanne*
Madison Young, Houston Ballet
Vincenzo di Primo, Italy
BallerinaAnna, SAB, owner of BunFlowerz
Kim, Hee Sun, South Korea *winner of the Helsinki IBC*
Kennedy Kallas, Ballet West *winner of the Natalia Makarova Award for Excellence*


Best Pas De Deux Couple
Iana Selenko (guest) & Steven McRae (Royal Ballet)

Video not from this year, but you kind of get to see the amazingness of the them…

Other Nominees in this huge category:
Missa Kuranaga (Boston Ballet) and Gonzalo Garcia (guest), Swan Lake
Beckanne Sisk (Ballet West) and Chase O’Connell (Ballet West), Romeo and Juliet*
Alessandra Ferri (guest) and Herman Cornejo (ABT), Giselle
Gillian Murphy (ABT) and Marcello Gomes (ABT), Swan Lake
Isabella Boylston (ABT) and Jeffrey Cirio (ABT), La Fille Mal Gardee
Polina Semoinova (guest) and Roberto Bolle (La Scala) , Cinderella
*winner of our blog favorite, picked by the readers of a Ballet Education*


Dancer of the Year
Kimin Kim, Mariinsky *won the prix de benois de la danse for the current year*

Honorable mentions from the huge list of dancers nominated
Anthony Huxley, NYCB
Hannah O’Niell, Paris Opera *also won the prix de benois de la danse for the current year*
Sara Mearns, NYCB
Alicia Amatriain, Stuttgart *also won the prix de benois de la danse for the current year*
Isabella Boylston, ABT
Iana Salenko, Berlin State Ballet
Olga Smirnova, Bolshoi Ballet
Misty Copeland, ABT
Steven McRae, Royal Ballet
Fredrico Bonelli, editor’s pick- David King


Company Contribution to the World
no nominations… sad face.



New or Returning Presence to the International Ballet Scene
Kathryn Morgan.
Presented by Ballet in the City and Bloch at the Kennedy Center
If you don’t follow her, she is a former soloist at NYCB, who was on the high rise to becoming a principal dancer when illness struck and took her away from ballet. Her blog and video blog exploded and now she is a ballet guru.
Click here for her massive empire

hon. mention: Alessandra Ferri returning to ABT’s Met Season in Romeo and Juliet. It is happening right now, and is coming in with killr reviews.


Choreographer of the Year
Yuri Possokhov, A Hero Of Our Time for Bolshoi *won the prix de benois de la danse*

Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Mammatus for Joffrey
Justin Peck, multiple works
Travis Wall, multiple solo works
Alexi Ratmansky, Golden Cockerel, multiple works
Christopher Wheeldon, multiple works
Andrew Bartee
Myles Thatcher, Passengers
Mauro Bigonzetti, Cinderella for La Scala
Johan Inger, Carmen
Benjamin Millepied, Clear Loud Bright Forward for Paris Opera
Maxim Petrov, Divertissement of King for Mariinsky
Zhang Yunfeng, Emperor Yu Li
Garrett Smith
Guilherme Maciel


Most Innovative/Collaboration Company
New York City Ballet for their designer collaborations for their fall Gala, and for their collaboration with resident Dior Illustrator Jamie Lee Reardin.

Other Nominees:
Het/Dutch National Ballet
National Ballet of Canada for Le Petit Prince
Royal Sweedish Ballet
Stuttgart Ballet
Miami City Ballet
Australian Ballet
Bolshoi Ballet


Best Repertory for the 2015-2016 season
Het Nationale Ballet, Artistic Director Ted Brandsen

Thier next season looks pretty amazing as well…

For tickets…

Other Nominees:
Australian Ballet
Paris Opera Ballet
Royal Ballet
New York City Ballet
American Ballet Theatre
Stuttgart Ballet
Wiener Staatsoper
Semper Oper


Most Inspiring Company
Australian Ballet, editor’s pick Jacquelyn Bernard

Other Nominees:
Boston Ballet
Pacific Northwest Ballet
San Francisco Ballet
Bolshoi Ballet
Het National Ballet
New York City Ballet


And now for the final category, which I think is the strongest to represent a company as a reflection of the season. The Best Premiere of a New Work in the 2015-2016 season. To really produce a new work, these dancers are the first, they originate the roles, the emotions, the technique and the approach. It is a sign of innovation in a company, and the willingness to find new ways of moving, approaching the classics, and innovating the art form. It is also a huge collaboration between everyone involved in ballet, from the marketing and press to the dancers, choreographers, designers and audience… A new work is the true test of a company’s ability to innovate and be successful. It is always a risk to premiere a new work, as audiences might not be so keen on attending without a big name attached… But, this season we had amazing contributions to the ballet repertory and here are the nominees…

  • Royal Ballet in collaboration with San Francisco Ballet, Frankenstein, choreographed by Liam Scarlett, Music by Lowell Liebermann, Designer John Macfarlane, Lighting designer David Finn, and Projection designer Finn Ross. (May 17, 2016)

http://www.roh.org.uk/productions/frankenstein-by-liam-scarlett

  • National Ballet of Canada’s Le Petit Prince, based on the book by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, choreographed by Guillaume Côté, Composed by Kevin Lau, Sets and Costumes by Michael Levine, Lighting by David Finn, and Video design by Finn Ross. Creatively developed by Guillaume Cote and Michael Levine. (June 4, 2016)

http://national.ballet.ca/Productions/2015-2016-Season/Le-Petit-Prince

  • Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Signature, choreographed by Price Suddarth, Lighting design by Randall G Chiarelli, Costumes by Mark Zappone. (November 6, 2015)
  • Joffrey Ballet’s Mammatus choreographed by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa. Music by Michael Gordon, design work by DieuwekeVanReu, lighting design by Alexander V. Nichols
  • American Ballet Theatre’s The Golden Cockerel, original choreo by Michel Fokine and new choreography by Alexei Ratmansky, sets and costumes by Richard Hudson. Music by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and arranged by Yannis Samprovalakis
  • Bolshoi Ballet’s a Hero Of Our Time choreographed by Yuri Possokhov, music by Ilya Demutsky, costume design by Elana Zaitseva and Kirill Serebrennikov, lighting and video design by Simon Donger.

http://www.bolshoi.ru/en/performances/813

And the winner is…
TEATRO LA SCALA



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Super Dads…

ballet dads

Today is a sad day… Today is my Dad’s birthday and Father’s day week. I lost my dad two years ago to cancer. So, this post is dedicated to all the ballet dads out there. For the dads who drive everyone around, build props, finance summer intensives, brings you dinner, takes you shopping, pays your tuition, and pays for privates. For the dads who dance with their kids in the living room on Sunday mornings, to the dads who make you laugh, to the dads who try really hard to relate to your ballet problems but have no clue what they are talking about. To the dads who give you massages when your calves and cramping, to the dads who learn to sew to help you with your pointe shoes. To the dads who stick around all night at the studio, to the dads who are brave enough to let their kids leave home at 13ish. To the dads who bring you coffee and food. To the dads who are both mom and dad, and still make it possible for their kids to dance.  To the dads who silently sit and watch you, pretending they aren’t interested but don’t leave the studio because they want to know you are safe…

This post is dedicated to all the professional ballet dancers who are dads, who are raising their kids and dancing at the same time. To the ballet dancer dad who isn’t afraid to admit that they are professional ballet dancers, and make time to take their kids to school and still be in company class. To the ballet dancer dads who have a late night performance but facetime their kids before they are tucked into bed, while they are on intermission.

This is also for all of the men who aren’t dads, who can’t be dads… This is for spoiling your nieces and nephews. This is dedicated to the men who play dad to kids without dads. This post is dedicated to the men who are single, because they are selfish and strong enough to say that they aren’t ready, or want kids. That takes a lot of strength too.

This post is for the moms who have to be both mom and dad- this one is for you too.

This is also for all of the kids without dads- if you have lost a parent it is really hard. If you lost a parent while you are young, my heart is heavy for you. If you lost your dad recently, I am sorry because I know what it is like for the world to constantly seem too fast or too slow, or that because of his passing- all time is measured from the point you lost him. I’m sorry.

(Pic was colored in by my niece)

Notes on Jetés… petit jetés… and awful petit allegro

Jetė

JETE a ballet educationThere is nothing in the world… and I mean nothing… better than a really good, really clean, really technical petit allegro. Yup, it can turn any bad day into a great day… or it can turn a great day into a crappy day depending on what side of the glass window you are standing on…. The problem is, most people are pretty awful at petit allegro, and a lot of the times at smaller studios, most teachers don’t really emphasize petit allegro causing there to be a lot of dancers to have pretty awful petit allegro skills…

I don’t even know where to begin about awful petit allegros… but I think I will start with petit jeté… Or in America, we just use jeté… but I love it…. I love them in petit allegro, in grand allegro, in random combinations… I love them in ecarté, turning, and with beats… I just in general love them… The problem… so many jetés out there are soooo sucky.

What good petit allegro looks like… and no I am not going to shame someone and post a bad petit allegro video… but trust me there are lots of them…

There are multiple approaches to jeté… again they vary by pedagogy. The first conversation to have how to approach a jeté.

jeté ballet

a. This is the way most schools around the US teach jeté. The idea is from fifth to throw the first leg, pass through a semi-second, and connect the coupé when landing in plié… There is nothing wrong with this, personally, I find it yucky… but then again I find a lot of things yucky in classical ballet. The idea is to brush to degagé height and bring the coupé to the first leg, and transition accordingly… If you are a ballet dancer, you will understand… if you aren’t a ballet dancer you throw your working leg into the air, but after the midway point and as you descend, your working leg becomes the supporting/landing leg.

b. The second way of looking at jeté is the way I was taught, the Balanchine way… To throw the first left to whatever height the music allows, and to connect the coupé as quickly as possible and maintain that shape while landing… Then as you grew up, the jeté may or may not become more stylized.
3:19 is the finale of Symphony in C by PNB

c. Finally, when I was older I learned the idea that every petit allegro step had to have two butts up… This concept is hit the height of the jump quickly and hit a clean second in the air, and cut to coupé while maintaining the height, then land underneath yourself… avoiding injury…

Where to put the coupe

Then we run into the issue of coupé… and where to put the coupé… when to connect it, and where to place it. Ideally, coupé back is coupé back, the problem is that we travel and move in time and space… This causes the coupé to move around and get sloppy… Then there is the idea of over crossing the coupé in the air that way when you land you are in a solid position when landing. I am not one to say one way or the other… Another issue people talk about is how high the working leg hits, which varies because different schools teach different degagé heights… Soo, again that varies but… usually I go through for a 45 degrees. When in doubt… keep a clean line either 45 or 90 degrees as a general rule of thumb for all of ballet.

Then you have the issue of leaning… really only choreography calls for leaning… and bending… and usually the choreography is Balanchine or contemporary pieces…

Finally, here are definite things to avoid when doing petit jeté:

  • do not travel forward more than one-fifth foot position front… Don’t get into the bad habit of traveling obnoxiously forward. If a jeté is a degage and fifth, you would only travel forward that one degagé closing from front to back forward.
  • do not travel randomly side… I hate when people do jetés obnoxiously traveling far… it looks weird and not precise. Petit allegro should look like a hibachi chef jabbing a knife into the bamboo between his fingers.
  • do not torque your hips, a lot of young dancers torque or shift their hips like doing the wave at a baseball game… They do it to gain height, which is actually counter productive to everything… and it is awful looking and spazzy…
  • do not grip your quads… use your abductors and the backs of your legs to make that sh!t happen in the air. To get a two butts up jeté you have to pop, but you pop from the pressure in your ankle pressing off the ground, and the backs of your legs snapping forward.
  • DON’T SICKLE or have biscuity feet…
  • don’t tuck your pelvis under or release it back to have duck butt
  • do not over compensate in the knees, that is how injury happens. When taking off and landing make sure your knee is moving over your second toe, and the weight is centered over the ball of your foot and the energy connects from the back of your leg, through your heel, into the ball of your foot… cleaner and safer take off and landing… the landing is the reverse.

Here are some things to work on to improve your jetés:

  • a lot of degagés…
  • jumping at the barre, practicing hitting a clean second in the air…
  • those awful things when you lay on your back and have your legs at 90, in a clean pointed fifth and you beat front back a million times… but this time hi 45 degrees open every time
  • line the barres like a gymnast’s parallel bars and press down on them to lift yourself off the ground and go over the motions military style… like by the number… that way you know exactly the where the clean positions feel on your body.
  • practice using a pilates reformer springboard

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5 reasons we fell in love with ballet

5 Reasons why we fell in love with ballet

Everything is beautiful at the ballet… Edward Kleban said it all in his lyrics for A Chorus Line… When we were younger something resonated with us and sparked the passion for dancing. I remember when I was younger I was obsessed with the Nutcracker. I would watch the VHS versions of Nutcracker (PNB & the Mikhail Baryshnikov and Gelsey Kirkland version then I added the Balanchine Version) back to back, every day. It was magical… As I am doodling on Instagram, this week’s theme is “My first Ballet Class” so it has brought back a lot of childhood memories… And so, I haven’t done one of these in a while, so tonight, as I neglect to clean my house, I give you 5 reasons why we fell in love with ballet…

Tuesday

1. The Spectacle that is the Nutcracker… For a lot of us, Nutcracker was our first live ballet… Usually, it was a result of being in class and it was finally time for your first real ballet. It was the music and the costumes: Tutus bouncing up and down, skirts twirling, men’s jackets twinkling in the light, ribbons flowing in the air… and pointe shoes. It was the lights and the glamor: getting dressed up, the opera house lights dimming, the velvet curtain rising… It was everything that ballet is… enchanting.

Darci_kistler
2. The Music. For some, it was the music. It is this epic music, full symphonic sounds and more than that… inspiring. Music for some dancers becomes the driving force of their careers, the ability to interpret music on the body— it’s inspiring.
3. The stories… for others it is the epic love stories, the tragedies that can’t be unwritten… the ability to become a princess, a swan and an enchantress, all in the same the night. It is the ability to forget who you are in reality, and be someone different. Who doesn’t want to escape and be a fabled princess, and get to live out your childhood heroines?
4. The Movement… it is the elegance, the posturing, the bravura of turns and jumps. The power of choreography says a lot. It is what makes a repertory live forever. The steps are just steps, but the movement itself can be inspired and brought to another level through artistry. I mean we have all seen really bad bourrés…. like really bad ones…

Serenade_ballet.jpg
5. And then there is the reason why I fell in love with ballet… a good ballet, meaning when the steps, the choreography, the dancers, the costumes the lighting all come together perfectly… it builds this adrenaline and once it is over it leaves you wanting more; much more. When a dancer is so generous with their soul, their artistry, their passion you become addicted to that dancer… It makes you want everything and then some… For me, it was Gelsey Kirkland in the first pas de deux (the music for snow PDD), it was Maia Rosal as the peacock, Lucinda Hughey as Dew Drop, Darci Kistler and Damian Woetzel as Sugar Plum & Cavailer, and Kyra Nichols as Dew Drop. These women to me were goddesses. They were gorgeous… They were everything that I admired in ballet… and probably the reason I am so obsessed with ballet…

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No matter what it was that made us start ballet… we started… and here we are as adults… either professional dancers, ballet go-ers, ballet lovers, and just in general ballet fans. When you start a love affair with ballet, it doesn’t really ever end. Even if your career ends because of injury, and you end up hating ballet… it is only for a while… But you always find a way back to ballet… you see a youtube video, or a performance, or something… no matter what it is… everytime you hear the music for Nutcracker, or you see a great performance on social media… you fall in love all over again…

Don’t forget … English National Ballet streams their emerging dancer performance live today!!! All six are super stunning but I am in love Rina Kanehara and Cesar Corrales… (11:25AM PDT)  http://emerging-dancer.ballet.org.uk

IHOP… International House of Primas

IHOP

I hope everyone had a great Mother’s Day! This week has been a crazy amazing week for ballet… and this next week is going to be a great week as well. This week’s insta theme is International Ballet… So, if you missed anything this week in ballet, here are some of the highlights:

Royal Ballet premiered “Frankenstein” which will be on stage till May 27. Choreography by Liam Scarlett. Set design by John Macfarlane. Music by  Lowell Liebermann

Boston Ballet announced their new 5-year partnership with William Forsythe. What does this mean? Over the next five years, this world-renowned choreographer will present a new ballet each year, and presenting already existing Forsythe repertory to the company. It is already reflected in the 2016-2017 season announcement… But, this will also mean that Boston Ballet will shift from a more classical repertory to a more contemporary repertory, which will make them stand out among other top companies here in the US. This will also mean a lot of their more contemporary dancers will be utilized… Boston Ballet this month is presenting their full-length “Swan Lake“.

Most ballet companies around the world have announced their 2016-2017 season, roster, promotions and new hires… except NYCB who will announce theirs after the SAB workshop and then in Sarasota. (Tradition) This month, like every end of season NYCB closes with “midsummers“.

ABT goes up at the Met tomorrow debuting with the powerhouse ballet “Sylvia“, which means… you can buy my leading ladies of ABT on a set of stationary cards, women’s and junior’s shirts, and a mug… I haven’t seen them or know how they will be selling the, I just know they are… The image isn’t the leading ladies of ABT I did, I revised it per their request and so it becomes available tomorrow. Don’t know if it will be offered in Los Angeles when they come to Dorothy Chandler in July.

abt at the met

Stella in Giselle, Isabella in their new Sleeping Beauty, Misty in Corsaire, Maria in Don Q, Gillian in Sylvia, Veronika in Swan Lake, Polina in Raymonda, Hee in Bayadere, Diana in Romeo and Juliet… FYI Polina pulled out of her performances at ABT because of an “injury” or actual injury but this is the second season in a row she has pulled out of the Met Season….

Houston Ballet is getting ready to present a mixed repertory on May 26, that is kind of to die for… Serenade, Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s Gloria, and HB’s premier of Alexander Akeman’s Cacti. Their rehearsal videos are all over instagram.

Nederlands Dance Theatre is performing “Separate Ways” May 11-14


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I will be posting more #corpsdeballetconfessional this week as well… I have gotten really behind on all that… I also have some super cool interviews coming together…

More technical posts on the way….

Nutcracker illustrations for my children’s book are underway…

Summer Program posts are coming… and I think that covers basically everything…

Oh don’t forget to vote and write in for my ballet company awards!! And stay tuned for JUNE… When I announce 2016’s BIG TEN!!!


 

Happy Early Mother’s Day…

Happy Mother’s Day!!! (I’m posting early so I can spend this weekend with my mom *smiles*) And in honor of all of the ballet mom’s here is an old post dedicated to you! But this mother’s day I am dedicating it to all of the mom’s who are ballet dancers… First off, bravo you for pushing a baby out, but then going back to ballet, or even doing ballet up until delivery… Seriously… major props to you… Not only is being a ballet dancer hard, but juggling real life and ballet is hard enough… I couldn’t imagine juggling a baby too!!! Sooooo

I just finished the deal, but here are the new products in our store…. 3 SUPER CUTE baby onsies… They aren’t organic, sorry… They are actually 100% Spun Poly… in the sizes 3M, 6M, 12M, 18M, 24M- with the optional matching tulle tutu skirt on elastic… And by no means is the tulle pleated or anything like that… It is literally a DIY tutu… but it keeps the price down on all these hand designed things… Literally it would be like wearing one of my doodles/brushstrokes in real life… So here they are, available for preorders, shipping JUNE 1:

Ballet Baby

ballet baby

Serenade Baby

 

Princess Aurora

 

What is going on in ballet?

Now that I have caught up on work… I’ve had time to reflect on the YAGP… and other things…

what is going on in ballet

So, you went to a good school… big whoop. So did a million other kids, and guess what? Their careers didn’t turn out how they thought they would… Hahaha I make myself laugh. The world of ballet is going through a big change, and in America the change is happening rather fast…. So before we list off the BIG TEN, like we do every Summer… I would like to talk about the changes that are happening in American Ballet, well with all the changes happening… I don’t know much longer we will have American Ballet… In fact, I don’t know how long ballet is going to be a choice…  I remember when I was auditioning, as a boy… if you had a solid triple pirouette right and left, an easy double tour, and clean technique… you would get into a company. Yup, it was that easy… I mean it helped if you had beautiful body proportions, and it would help if you were flexible… But the reality is… You really needed just that. Nowadays, that doesn’t cut it for a boy… You have to be extremely flexible, have more than four pirouettes, and be musically gifted.This next generation proved that at the YAGP this year with killer technique, crazy tricks, and be primed for principal’s musicality.

 

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https://www.facebook.com/YouthAmericaGrandPrix/

This year at the YAGP, Joon Hyuk Jun won the overall Grand Prix, which isn’t a surprise. In 2014 he did well in Lausanne and landed him a spot a Royal Ballet Upper School. Additionally, if he didn’t win the YAGP this year, I am pretty sure he hasn’t medalled as a senior competitor… He would be joining the Korean Army for two years. Yup, it’s that serious for Koreans. It is why there are so many applicants at every competition. In order for a male to avoid joining the army for two years, they have to medal first or second at an international competition recognized by the Korean government.

So, with that being said, something is happening in ballet… The age of the baby ballerina is coming back… Young superstars are proving their self-worth via social media and now the guest artist position. A lot of superstars in ballet aren’t even joining companies, they are going from gala to gala, and company to company guesting. Additionally, this is affecting how students are taking class, and the overall goals for ballet students. Around the world, I’ve seen it all over social media, the demand for superb technique, and extraordinary body lines is higher than ever… There is also a demand for artistic superiority and maturity that used to be excused in young dancers, but now… even that is being conquered…

arabesque for boys

The ballet talent is overwhelming… and the maturity and artistry is growing… The issue now? Jobs… Jobs are very few to begin with in ballet, but now, there is so much talent, there is no room for error, or mistakes, or lack of technique. Everyone is gifted, everyone is has beautiful feet, everyone has extraordinary body proportions… It means that, the world of ballet is becoming smaller, and even more elite.  And this isn’t helping the world of ethnicity either… While Asian countries have been constantly adapting to the Russian school of technique because it works on their bodies, Asian countries have been putting out amazing potential… America has yet to overall put out one unique style, but the next generation of ballet dancers have already dictated what the “ballet look” is going to be… and that is: Hypermobile, Russian-trained talent.

This starts the debate between a ballet school and a finishing school… a lot of these elite schools around the world are now turning into finishing schools, while other schools are focused on the actual idea of teaching technique. A Ballet School is a facility supported by the faculty on teaching the basic ballet vocabulary through the advanced ballet vocabulary the best way they know how… While a finishing school, students are already expected to have a strong ballet vocabulary, and the focus is on pas de deux, variations, performance and quality… (dance studios… well we can talk about that later)

That is the thing, ballet comes in waves, and this wave of new talent, and this next generation of ballet dancers is going to be weeding out any slight chance of imperfection because… everyone is coming out of the woodworks with talent… This year at the YAGP… it was pretty obvious that everyone there was going to be getting a job, and taking away from the possibilities of “cattle calls”…

give ma job ballet

If you look at what American companies are hiring at the moment… from this season’s mid hires, to who they let go at the end of this season, to who they have announced in their new 2016-2017 rosters… It isn’t looking very good…  Not to mention… it is taking away jobs from Americans… but that is a little too political for my blog lol…While a lot of these students are coming from the companies’ home schools, most of these new hires were recruited from a competition in the previous years and they spent a year or two finishing. It is scary, because as I was hopeful for Paris Opera, they did not like the direction of Benjamin Millipede (POB trained but finished at SAB), and have tapped the super classical and super talented, female powerhouse Etoile: Auralie Dupont. PA Ballet took on Angel Corella (which as well all know, I disliked) and that has forced out numerous Balanchine dancers and he has hired all Latin dancers… Which is probably good because PA could use a little color. The shift is a cause from Artistic Directors looking at the future of ballet. Corps de ballet members are no longer becoming viable despite the experience as a seasoned corps dancer, as the corps is now becoming filled with exceptional talent: stronger body lines, more hypermobile bodies, and the sad part… these able bodies are disposable as directors can now just post on social media what they are looking for and hundreds of bodies will respond. It is scary to be dreaming of being a ballet dancer right now… because as much as you want it, if your body is not an “exceptional” body… It might not happen for you… just bad timing with the wave of talent… In Europe bodies are hand picked, but now in America, “exceptional” bodies are becoming more and more apparent because there is such a diverse and accessible levels of training throughout the US.

With that being said, as the list get composed for the BIG 10, I am going to be focusing on identifying the school as being a Ballet School or Finishing School… Since all of the major ballet competitions have wrapped up, I can now start adding data up, and going over what school graduates will be joining what companies… It is a long process, but it is worth doing… But remember, these lists are totally subjective…

ballet top ten companies in the world

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jewels
Jewels… doodles available in my doodle book, available online

 

Notes On: Getting Extension… to the side…

Extensions in ballet are everything… Well extensions are also everything on social media, but social media is a whole different post. But extensions in ballet… truly are everything… It is the difference between getting a contract and not getting a contract, it is the difference between being cast as Odette … or not. You get the idea, or at least I hope you do. My original post about tilting your hips has kind of come under a lot of fire, which is totally cool… Everyone is entitled to their own pedagogy and ballet ideals. But a lot of you have asked some questions, so I am here to answer some of them. In ballet… a la seconde or side or perfect side or whatever your natural turnout decides what side is… well it is really confusing and quite difficult. And truth be told, I had no clue what any of it really meant until I became a teacher…

Developpe Poster 1

Side Action… first we have to determine what is side. For some schools- it is about the natural turnout and you draw a line from the second toe outwards (i)… Other schools teach that side is in line or slightly in front of your shoulder (ii) and some schools teach that side is behind your hip line (which only works if you are freakishly hypermobile or flexible, iii). This is all determined by turnout.

what is a la seconde a ballet eduation

 

Okay, okay… Now onto the good stuff… Getting your leg up. You can just hoist your leg up, you have to use the back of your legs. If your teacher is one of those sticklers for being square, which I totally don’t disagree with, you only have to follow a and b.

a-b. From passé, you rotate slight forward to an attitude position and lift your knee as high as it can go while your hips stay square. You have to seperate your femoral head while rotating it to get to this position. then you just have to extend the heel forward till your leg is fully extended. Yes, you use your heel as the guide of your extension, not your knee. If you are focusing on your knee… you get massive quads and can grip. You have to really use opposition to achieve the back of your legs. The oposition comes from really pressing your psoas and core downwards.

square extension what is a la seconde

c-e. I teach my students to start shifting their weight into their standing leg, and aligning the opposing hip. I tell them to use the full power of the backs of their leg to rotate forward, bring the leg even more slightly infront of their body allow the look of maximum turnout. Then bring the knee into the front of your armpit using your psoas, and pressing down through the student’s core to get the maximum stability and correct tension saving the hips. Then guiding through the heel, like the later part of a ron de jambe en l’iar. So instead of thinking of extension as a line, you have to think of it as a circular motion… like turnout… like everything in ballet. Use your hamstring to supply the support needed. But the higher your leg gets, the easier it should feel. It is simply physics, as the weight is now all shifted into your standing leg, freeing up your working leg.

f. Then, for those students who are hypermobile, and have mastered the ability to rotate the extension upwards, I let my students shift their weight even more into their standing leg, and then like a teetertotter shift their hips even more to get those last six inches of extension. Unfortunately, this puts a lot of pressure on the lower back, so you have to be strong and pretty advanced to achieve it.

more notes: Tilting your hips on the plane of turnout is not the same as lifting your hip. Lifting your hip usually reffers to your booty and pelvis tipping forward. You have to understand your hip anatomy in order to really understand turnout and a la seconde. You never want to lift from your quads. Again work from the back of your legs! If you don’t know how, read my notes on how to work from the backs of your legs. Your hips have to be really warmed up and stretched out before your attempt this… Don’t be one of those kids sitting in their room reading this and then just go try it… It is why barre is structured.

Diagram of hip for ballet


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la bayadere cast 1

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Goodbye Ballet

When Your Body Decides to be Done with Ballet
Susie Boyland, contributing writer

Swan Lake 2012 ROH, Swan Lake 2012 ROH
original artwork by Susie Boyland- Swan Lake

If you are heavily dedicated to ballet, it becomes your life and a major part of your identity.  Whether you dance purely for fun or as your career, ballet consumes your every thought and many hours of your day, every day for years on end.  It keeps you in great physical shape and there’s no need to go to “the gym” like most “normal” people.  However, at some point, whether it be at age 15 or 90, everyone’s body decides that it will no longer put up with the physical demands that ballet places on it and somehow we have to figure out how to deal with that.

At the beginning of last year I was devastated to hear that I either needed to have hip surgery or stop dancing.  Dance was never my career, but nevertheless it was (and is) a big part of my identity.  A few months later I was told that actually I needed to have hip surgery AND stop dancing; it was no longer an either-or, it was both.  It’s been 8 months since my surgery and I have yet to figure out how to process this.  I’m still recovering physically and I’m also in denial that I will never again do another grande jeté – my favorite step.  The surgery went well, but my body still seems to be complaining and my surgeon advised against returning to ballet unless I want to be sure of having a hip replacement in my future.  I haven’t taken a dance class in months, but in my mind it feels like it’s just an extended “break” until I can go back, like it has been in the past.  I have taken long breaks due to injury before – in fact I think my longest break from ballet before now was 9 months – but I always knew that at some point I would be able to return and eventually get back to full strength.  This time, that isn’t the case.  I can’t go back, at least not fully.  How are you supposed to deal when you’ve taken your last class and at the time you didn’t even know it?

Former PNB principal dancer Carla Körbes stated before her retirement that perhaps she could have kept dancing at 80% but it wasn’t worth it to her because she needed to dance at 100% in order for it to be fulfilling.  I fully understand that.  In ballet, holding back is not really an option.  Either you go all out or you don’t do it at all. Modifying steps in class due to an injury is not fun and I can’t imagine having to do that for the rest of my life.  I don’t want to go through every class having to think things like, “If I do this step, will I be in pain for days after?  Will I need surgery again if I do this combination full-out?”  Ballet is about pushing limits and going to the extreme so if you can’t allow your body to do that anymore, it just doesn’t feel right.  Pushing the limits of the human body’s capacity is part of what makes ballet so intriguing.  Unfortunately, this aspect of ballet is also what over time erodes our bodies to the point that we can no longer do what we used to be able to do.

I don’t think there is really any one way in particular to deal with the difficulty of not being able to do ballet anymore.  The one thing you can be sure of though is that you know you are able to feel a strong passion for something.  Just like after a breakup or a death of a loved one, you will recover and you will find your passion again, though this time it will be for something else.  Perhaps it will be ballet-related, or perhaps it’ll be something else entirely.  Regardless, you can take comfort in the thought that you have the ability to feel so strongly about something.   Some people don’t have this ability.

Along with the ability to feel passion, ballet dancers have certain other qualities instilled in them that will allow them to excel in any field: determination, persistence, commitment, and an extremely strong work ethic, just to name a few.  Dancers know how to push through pain, conquer the seemingly impossible, and make something incredibly difficult look polished and effortless.

So, when you’re faced with the reality of having to stop dancing, first take some time to grieve – it is, after all, essentially a death.  But this death is different than most in that it presents along with it a chance for a new beginning.  Once you get through the fog and confusion of figuring out how to move on, you’ll find that the world is full of wonderful new opportunities to explore.  I’m still working on finding a new form of physical activity that I both enjoy and my body lets me do, but in the meantime I am pouring my heart and soul into my new passion: photography.  I especially love photographing gymnastics competitions and someday hope to have the opportunity to photograph dancers.  The same passion and energy that I felt for ballet is starting to present itself to me in photography.  Also, I’ve found that after ballet, almost everything else seems relatively easy!

I can’t bring myself to say “I used to be a dancer” rather than “I am dancer” and I don’t know if I ever will.  Using the past tense makes it more real and I’m not ready for that, despite the fact that I’m discovering new interests.  Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney recently did an interview where she talked about how hard it was to have to stop doing the activity that used to be her entire life.  She stated that she didn’t want to use the word “retire,” as so many gymnasts and dancers often do when they hang-up their leotards and pointe shoes.  This is the same way I feel about using the past tense, i.e. “I used to dance.”  In my opinion, once a dancer, always a dancer.  McKayla Maroney will always be a gymnast and I will always be a dancer, even if the only dancing I do is in my head.

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You can see some of Susie’s photography work here and follow her on Twitter at @Gymtertainment.  She also has gone a bit crazy in her post-ballet life and makes videos in a T-Rex costume.

Read Susie’s other article about careers after ballet by clicking here

Notes on working from the backs of your legs

Enveloppe

I would hate, and I mean hate it, when a teacher would yell at me or give me the correction: you are gripping your quads, work from the back of your legs. The correction itself is an insult because they are basically saying you are about to get thick thunder thighs, but they wouldn’t tell you how to work or engage the back of your legs… It was crazy, it was mind boggling, and it wasn’t until I was like, hmmm maybe 16 that I figured it out… And no teacher helped me… I figured it out on my own because I was sick and tired of it. I started teaching young students and I started watching their bodies break down, and I started developing my method of teaching. So, like all my all technical notes, here we go… Notes on the back of your legs… via enveloppé.

So, I get a lot of dancers who are already trained but have bad habits. I rarely get to start and finish a dancer as they all go away to year-round programs. With that being said, this post is really geared towards dancers who are already trained and are having a hard time feeling the backs of their legs. To feel the backs of the legs, I use enveloppé from a working back fifth position.

rotate back

The whole concept of using the back of your legs is pretty difficult… When you are dancing, you usually aren’t thinking of the backs of your legs, mostly because you have been told to tendu and then get your leg up. So, you are standing in fifth position with the working leg back, and you really have to focus about the spiraling of your legs. As you tendu side, you are only going to move the heel by rotating forward. as you rotate “up and forward” your weight will start to shift, and you start to work through your metatarsals. While all this happening, you really have to focus on your hamstrings rotating forward, your sartorius and abductors rotating back… You will keep rotating until your heel is forward and you can slightly see the sole of your shoe… This means you might not have your leg directly side at all, and for this exercise that is totally ok. (You can modify this exercise to go to passé instead of sur le coup de pied) Now, you wait to keep rotating from the backs of your legs so hard that your leg lifts off the ground to degage height… and keep working the muscles in your legs spiraling into your hip joint. You then want to lift your leg higher using your psoas and obliques till your leg is fully rotated. Now the hard part…. With keeping the spiral, rotation, and tension in your leg that you have created (specifically your hamstring and calf rotating forward) you want to lift your knee slightly higher (to make space) for your leg to move, and rotate the heel of the working leg into the standing leg. (Basically, you are going for the passé) You want to keep the tension in your hamstring till you connect (wherever your teacher tells you passé is. For me, I tell my kids that the “indent” on above the inner knee has no technical anatomical name, and I tell them that God made it for passé). You never want to rest or be stagnate in passé, and you won’t be if you are constantly spiraling. Now that you are connected in passé, focus on the standing leg rotating forward, and using the spiral back towards the spine… From that spiral, rotate your heel forward to press into relevé and lift the working leg knee higher, from the hamstring. Everything moving upwards while the muscles are spiraling downwards towards the ground.

While some teachers encourage cross training first to develop the muscle, so you can feel the muscle in class… I find that unless you already know how to engage the muscle, in applicable ballet exercises, that cross training the muscles doesn’t help as quickly.

Enveloppé I think really utilizes the backs of the legs quicker than developpé, and through the range of steps that make up the enveloppé you really get a sense of the backs of your legs.

side note: The weight in the standing leg is shifting as well, as your hips are the counter balance to the working leg… If you don’t know how to stabilize your hips, check out my turnout blog… I hope this helps all of you who have asked about working from the backs of your legs.

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The first doodle book of doodles (not technical drawings) is now available 🙂

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