ISSUE 11

YAGP COVER 11copy copy
ISSUE 11

Inside the world’s largest ballet competition. This year over 10,000 kids auditioned and competed at the Youth America Grand Prix and tens of thousands of dollars in scholarships were given out to promising young talent across the world. This issue is packed with the enormous talents emerging from the Youth America Grand Prix.

The Cover Features:
Brady Farrar, Misha Broderick, Joel Dichter, Madyson Grobe, Remie Madeline Goins, Jolie Rose Lombardo, Tia Wenkman, Kaeli Ware, Bel Pickering, Kali Kleiman, Lily Turner and Ava Arbuckle.

Reviews of Atlanta Ballet and Dance Theatre of Harlem & much more in the issue.

The issue comes out on FRIDAY!!! Until then…

Check out these young superstars on Instagram:

Advertisements

Should You Homeschool?

There comes a point for a lot of dancers who have to make the choice of homeschooling. Ballet is so time-consuming, so there has to be a “give and take”. I myself, did high school online and finished in two years, third in my class and with my AA. So, if you are self-motivated it’s a great opportunity to balance dancing and education. The video below was made by a ballet student about her experiences with online school. (@chloechka_art) Props to her for animating at the age of 15, because I am like dying just doing 2D drawings.

 

So, how do you know when it is right to homeschool? There comes a point where the hours in the day are running short, and it seems that there aren’t enough hours in the day to balance school, homework, dance and rehearsals. For some, the answer is easy and it is to homeschool. While homeschool isn’t for everyone, for those who do want to pursue that option, it isn’t as hard as it seems. Nowadays, you just need to fill out an affidavit and set up your curriculum. If you can financially afford to purchase curriculum that’s probably the easiest way. If you can’t afford to buy a set curriculum, you can piece it yourself. But, one of the best things you can do is find an online charter school in your state.

homeschool aballeteducation

If you are ready to homeschool and don’t know how to talk to your parents about it, ask your dance teacher, and they should be able to help explain the reasons why, and provide you with proper guidance. If they can’t, you can show them this article.

Parents, if you are student shows you this article, or you yourself are considering homeschooling here are some reasons why homeschooling might be a better option for your child:

  • To be a part of a pre-pro program most start at 10:00 AM or 1:00 PM.
  • Most ballet dancers are self-sufficient and can work at a faster pace so they don’t waste time.
  • Homeschooling allows for more hours of dancing and rehearsals, not to mention if you are asked into a year-round school, it’s an easier transition.
  • Travel time. It also saves on travel time and chauffering around.
  • It allows dancers to excel at their own pace. Sometimes it is frustrating not being able to control the progress in the ballet studio, so having control of progress in education is a good feeling.

Finally, homeschool isn’t for everyone. Some schools will allow dancers to leave early and skip out on elective and PE classes in exchange for their dance school to sign off on hours. This allows for more hours of dance. And, you should never compromise the quality of education for your dancing because an education is something that no one can take away. You also will need it as a backup plan if you get injured or if you don’t get a contract.


The Guide to Pas De Deux Cover

5 Inspiring Women in Ballet

In Ballet right now there are many women fighting their rightful way into leading positions in the ballet world. It isn’t enough now for these women to retire and become teachers. They are pushing forward for jobs like Artistic Director, Creative Director, Executive Director, Resident Choreographer and more. As ballet is slowly progressing, women in ballet are taking things into their own hands. Here are just five women who are extremely different, extremely talented and have something to say in the world of ballet.
five inspiring women in ballet

>> Tamara Rojo, Two Jobs One Passion

The Spanish sensation, Tamara Rojo has had a stellar career and still at the age of 42 is wowing audiences as lead principal at English National Ballet. But it doesn’t just end there, she is also the Artistic Director of English National Ballet and has now nurtured ENB to be one of the best companies in the world with a repertory to die for. She is also making way for more female choreographers and repetiteurs with Anna-Marie Holmes re-staging of Le Corsaire.

>> Larissa Saveliev, founder of the YAGP

Russian-born Larissa Saveliev established the YAGP in 2000, and since then has awarded over 3 Million dollars in scholarships. The YAGP reaches over 7,000 dancers a year and helps mold their technique and career paths through their master classes. She has also established the bi-annual Job Fair, the Emerging Choreographer Series, and Legends in Dance Galas.

>> Ashley Ellis, RubiaWear 

Boston Ballet Principal, Ashley Ellis took a hobby of knitting and turned it into a mega brand, all while dancing. Her leg warmers and warm ups are everywhere, all while balancing dancing full time. One for the female entrepreneurs. You can catch Ms. Ellis in Boston Ballet’s production of the Sleeping Beauty opening this weekend.

>> Michaela DePrince, Author & Role model 

First Position superstar, Michaela DePrince not only became a role model for young girls everywhere but now has authored multiple books and one that was just optioned by MGM for a movie. The Dutch National Ballet Soloist is carving her way into the world of ballet, and carving hard so that others that will follow won’t have to.

>> Hee Seo, Hee Seo Foundation, YAGP KOREA

She isn’t just the first Korean principal at American Ballet Theatre, she is also changing the landscape of ballet in Korea. Hee Seo started her foundation last year in hopes to start connecting Korean dancers to more opportunities, and it is working. Additionally, her foundation is helping boys in ballet compete at the international level, in hopes of avoiding/being excused to their mandatory two years to the Korean army.

START YOUR NOMINATIONS!

ballet awards best ballet companiesWith the ballet season unfolding, and the 2016-2017 season being announced… it is time to start nominating the best of the best from around the world…. Feel free to either comment for your nominations or write into aballeteducation@gmail.com

Awards to be announced in July.

 

 

 

The categories are for the 2015-2016 Season

Best Premiere of a New Work

Best Repertory for the 2015-2016 Season

Best Reprisal of a Classic Work

Best Costuming for a performance

Best Lighting and/or Set Design

Best Collaboration

Most Innovative Company

Most Inspiring Company

Company Contribution to the World

New or Returning Presence to the International Ballet Scene

Best Pas De Deux Couple

Dancer of the Year

Student of the Year

Choreographer of the Year

Redlands Dance Theatre

kelly 1 copy

Redlands Dance Theatre is a non profit organization dedicated to the arts in the Inland Empire. Your contribution, no matter the size, provides Redlands Dance Theatre the means to further the arts in our community.  Redlands Dance Theatre provides 8 full year round scholarships to Dancing Images Dance Center for under privileged children.  The company provides exceptional performances for our community, and gives Inland Empire dancers a chance to grow and further their art form.

Unfortunately, employing ballet dancers does not come as an easy task.  Redlands Dance Theatre goes through about 8 pairs of pointe shoes a week, running about $650. To finance our 2015-2016 season, Redlands Dance Theatre is looking to raise approximately $25,000 to support our dancers, students, performances, costuming, and other miscellaneous expenses.  

www.RedlandsDanceTheatre.org

Everybody is talking about ballet, but are we talking about the right thing?

The Race for Race in Ballet

I’ve talked about ethnicity before, but now I am going to talk about it even more. Most of you probably won’t like what I have to say, so here is my apology ahead of time.

Everyone is talking about ballet, and I mean everyone. But, are we talking about the right thing?
Seriously, congrats to Stella and Misty. I’m sure the majority of the world agrees that you should be principals. Personally I’m not a fan of Misty Copeland, I fell asleep in her world premier in the Firebird in Orange County. I was not impressed when I saw her in Sleeping Beauty either. Just not a fan of her dancing. Stella…, not a fan of her dancing either, but I don’t dislike her dancing.  So, did they get promoted because they deserved it? Or were they promoted because the world pressured Kevin to? No clue. But here is what I do know…

I started my very first blog because of ethnicity, well lack of ethnicity in college. It was titled: YELLOW LIKE ASIAN. In my frustrations after finishing school, I started teaching dance at a Title One Middle School in middle of nowhere, ghetto California. There was so much potential, but the problem is the school systems don’t support the arts and there was no where for them to go after middle school and most of them couldn’t afford studio time.  So, in my frustrations, I left. Now, I have a company and I am all like ethnic pride, ethnic pride, ethnic pride, and after watching dancers audition– the majority of the company is white or latino. This then lead me to think, wow, I am such a hypocrite. Then I realized that it wasn’t because I was being racist, it was because the lack of training the other dancers had.  Then I remembered, “No shit. They don’t have the money to train.”

Then I was like, lets start a go fund me campaign to have scholarships for ethnic kids who have good grades so we can offer them amazing training, who have potential. I even posted it on here for the School of Redlands Dance Theatre and didn’t raise 1 dollar. Then I was like, fantastic, the rest of the world is just as bad as I am.  They are like misty copeland, ethnic dancer ethnic dancers! and I am sitting here like, “You won’t even support a non profit who is willing to train dancers.” The problem is that a 10 year old ethnic student or 13 year old ethnic student with no training is going to get a full ride to SFB with no training. The problem isn’t the institution of ballet… the problem is our communities and the communities that support the arts… To fix the ethnic dancer ratio in ballet, isn’t to just demand companies to hire ethnic dancers… the answer is to even the ratio of potential dancers… So, as I am going about planning my company class tomorrow, I was like hmmm we need to find a way to get the arts more money. No, we need to get schools that support the arts more money. No, we need educate the communities we live in about the arts.

For example. Little Jessy, who we raised money for to go to LA Ballet , thank you again by the way, is latina. She is first generation. Her parents don’t believe dancing is a career and don’t have the money to support her dancing. Carlos, a former student of mine who went on scholarship to the Rock School and North Carolina School of the Arts, same issue, parents didn’t understand careers within the arts, and didn’t have the means to support their child in that field. Now he dances for my company. Then I look at all the kids I teach at the school district- so many potential dancers, but don’t have the money to train at a real school or studio… So they dance in after school programs, which is great, but they don’t have the refinement of a ballet dancer, the tenacity instilled into jazz dancers, and their work ethic and dedication is attacked by culture and family values.

So, while the issue of race is still a hot topic in ballet… We need to ask ourselves, “Really, am I helping the cause?”

Then, I saw that DTH (Dance Theatre of Harlem) was searching for a soloist or principal dancer. This raised my eyebrow… I was like seriously? WTF. Number one… DTH does not have rankings… And number two… if their “superstar” is going to Washington Ballet for the upcoming season… why not endorse one of your own dancers. Again… the real reason why i started my blog comes out… I am seriously thinking… I know four dancers in DTH who are beyond spectacular… so instead of spending some extra effort in PR, and Marketing… you would rather bring an outside person in? WTF. Shame on you.

Tulsa Ballet announced they are going on tour in Italy this upcoming season, which is beyond fantastic… Which then lead me to be like, oh yeah the AD is Italian. Then I was like WTF… why are we bringing in all these foreign ADs… No offense to Tulsa Ballet, since he has been there 20 years… but like WTF. We have Angel at PA Ballet f’ing up that… No offense to latin dancers… but all of his new hires were latino. Which is great to diversify PA Ballet, but your comments about cleaning out balanchine affected dancers was a little crude. Go back to spain where your company really didn’t do well… Then I am scrolling through social media and see like all these random videos of semi ethnic dancers… Claiming how hard their struggle was… You can’t hop on the band wagon in hopes to get a job or promoted… Misty Copeland already put the pressure on… And I am sure when ABT announces their fiscal reports… donations will have soared.

this lead me to be like… ethnic or passable white?

As American History is horribly tainted in racism… And in the education system we had light as a paper back, and hair straight as a ruler, as a guideline for collegiate acceptances. Now, has that same rule come to ballet? I am not questioning if someone is ethnic or not ethnic…  If you have see Misty Copeland on stage… You wouldn’t know she was black. This lead to me to believe why she was able to move into ABT in the first place… Then I was like Latins and Asians… And after looking at who has made it into abt… I was like ummm passable white. Versus say Mariinsky who has a Korean Principal Male… Obviously the only ethnic dancer. He guested for ABT alongside Hee Seo… Talk about Racial Profiling… Unless she requested him… then that is odd too because like she is gorgeous next to Roberto Bolle and David Hallberg. Don’t be greedy Hee Seo. Haha.

Then I was like NYCB probably has had the biggest criticism for ethic dancers. Period. I mean like… talk about flies in milk. While Albert Evans, Arthur Mitchell, and Jock Soto made City Ballet Principals and paved their way into ballet history, and Amar Ramasar making his mark in ballet history… I’m like… 0 ethnic female principals. 1 asian in the corps. SMH. Then I was like oh yeah… The only way to get into NYCB is to go to SAB… and I think only Peter Boal is the only person ever to start at SAB and finish as a principal. Which lead me back to why we should be supporting schools.

Now finally, as I am the bottom of the bottle of malbec- When the world of ballet decides to obsess over someone new, or find a new topic to be controversial about… What side of the line will you be on? Those who bitched and moaned on social media, which does nothing. Or did you actually contribute to a school, fundraise, talk to your studio’s owner and ask to set up a fund, or parent’s association to help ethnic dancer… Did you applaud misty and stella because they had finally made it, or were you there writing letters to ABT encouraging their promotion and donations to the school for under privileged kids? Did you donate to project plié or buy your starbucks everyday before you take your child to class and sit in the hallways knitting with the other moms? My friends have decided they would support RDT’s school by instead of going out to dinner every night, that they would cut back and use that money to support a student.  I mean we do go out every night, and spend way too much money on bottle service, dinners, and more anyways. We have decided that Tuesdays will be our fancy dinner night, and we will only go out Fridays and Saturdays. We will then cut checks to RDT. We couldn’t give up coffee. haha. So, what will you do?

For the Moms…

ballet moms thank you

Dear Dance Moms (and dads),

I would just like to take the time today and say thank you. Thank you for forcing us to go to class when we didn’t want to, when we needed the shoulder to cry on because we don’t have perfect turnout, for driving us to and from class everyday, driving us to auditions, paying for summer programs, countless pairs of tights and shoes…. Thank you you for massaging out the knots, for all of the chiropractor appointments, for the sacrificing of the thousands of dollars it takes to study ballet, for rhinestoning all the tutus, for dying all of the random things, for buying me that leotard I needed to stand out at an audition in… Thank you for teaching me how to do a bun, for coming to every show, for paying me to fly all over the world to audition, and buying me those special protein bars that are low carb…

Without you & dad I would have never made it. Even though growing up I would accuse you of being a ballet mom, hovering at the window…

And so on… It is your day and I love and appreciate you.

NYT feature on SAB boys for Nutcracker.
NYT feature on SAB boys for Nutcracker.

Now, I would like to take the time and thank my mom who had no clue about ballet for letting me pursue it.  Then I would like to thank all of the moms who have helped me on my way. Thank you for all the rides, thank you for all the custom knit leg warmers and warm ups, thank you for all the advice you gave me and thank you for always helping me. I really did have a lot of ballet moms in my life, that I am very grateful for.

I hope all of you mom’s out there have a fantastic MOTHER’S DAY!!!

Manly Ballet 1

A BALLET EDUCATION MEDIA KIT

aballeteducation facebook

Help Send Jessy to a Summer Program!
Dance Life 6

A Ballet Education is brought to you by: SOCIAL CULTURE

Mail Chimp, JooMag and Follow That Media

Ballet Vocabulary: Lesson 1

A Ballet Education the best ballet schools

In the world of ballet, there are three languages. There is the language in which ballet was codified, French. Then there is the language in which interprets ballet, body language backed by emotion. And then there is a language that ballet dancers actually speak, a language of their own, and I’m not talking about French. So, here is the modern vocabulary list every ballet dancer/student should know (part one). These terms you will come across in class, gossiping among your fellow peers in ballet school, blogs like this one, or social media.

Mr. B (noun): AKA, George Balanchine, aka God (just kidding, not really)

  1. The founder of New York City Ballet, and probably the most influential choreographer of the 20th century.

What would Mr. B do?

4 T’s (noun): AKA The Four Temperaments

  1. Choreographed by George Balanchine in 1946 to music by Paul Hindemith.

Dancing 4T’s is really difficult if you aren’t trained Balanchine.

Buiscut (noun or adj):

  1. Dancers with “bad” feet or feet that don’t point.

She has biscuit feet, she’ll never go en pointe.

A La Sebesque, secabesque (noun):

  1. A non existent position in ballet that people with bad technique use. It is a combination of a la seconde, and arabesque.

You are doing a la sebesque dear, you aren’t in jazz class.

Bunhead (noun):

1. A dancer who is overly intense about ballet, to the point where it might be unhealthy.
Maureen is a bunhead, Eva is not.

Snatched (adj):

1. A dancer’s body in peak shape.
Her body is snatched, hence why she is rockin’ a unitard.

Whacked out (adj):
1. Ridiculously flexible
He is so whacked out… but only to the right.

AD (noun) aka Artistic Director:

1. The head of a ballet company.
She only got the part because she is sleeping with the AD.

Leo (noun) aka Leotard:

1. Appropriate ballet attire, made from mesh, nylon, spandex, lycra or another synthetic blend of fabric.
Who wears a white leo to an audition?

________ Hands (_____ (adj) + noun): 

1. Spatula Hands: hands that look like spatulas.
2. Oven mitt hands: hands that are shaped like an oven mitt.
3. Hamburger Hands: hands that are shaped like one is holding a hamburger.
She is definitely not getting into SAB because of her spatula hands.

Claws (noun):

1. Hands that have gone through rigorous Balanchine training and are the anti Russian hand.
He has claws, you think he is from SAB?

Nut Season (noun):
1. The part of the season in which one must dance in the annual production of the Nutcracker in which they will be overworked, and over rehearsed. Dancers may cringe, or cry if they are at the mall shopping and the Tchaikovsky score is being played during the holidays. The time of the season in which every dancer wants to quit.
It is Nut Season, I want to die.

Pancaking (verb):
1. The application of a mattifier to match ones skin tone and remove the shine or pink color.
2. When a ballet dancer goes to iHop and dreams of ordering pancakes but orders a salad instead.
Gaynor Mindens should always be pancaked, that way it isn’t obvious you are wearing them.

Floor Barre (noun):

1. An awful, but healthy alternative to taking class. It is the combination of ballet, yoga and pilates.
I would rather do character than floor barre.

This is just part one, and as I compile list two, please feel free to email me for suggestions.

BIG THINGS FOR A BALLET EDUCATION

ballet1

So, I have decided to launch a few big things for a Ballet Education, and I hope they are helpful… But, unfortunately it will take a little bit of capitol. If you have enjoyed reading my blog, minus the grammar mistakes, you can now donate so I can pay an editor to go back through and edit everything. I just don’t have the time. Even now, I am using SIRI to update this blog while driving to an event in Los Angeles.

Here is what I was thinking…

book cover mock up

yes, I would like to publish a book…

COMING SOON... available via iPhone, iPad, Android, Desktop, Digital Download
COMING SOON…
available via iPhone, iPad, Android, Desktop, Digital Download

and yes… I want to release digital books of things that are important…

And I would like to redesign the site.

And I would like to be able to start a youtube channel with how to do real ballet techniques…

Sooooo, if you are interested please donate or email me aballeteducation@gmail.com

Thanks.

The Return: A Ballet Education

… I thought I was going to be giving this up, and I thought I would leave my nightly rants to Facebook… BUT THEN a ballet company finally replied to my e-mail, and they did not have anything nice to say… So, with that being said, a Ballet Education is coming back full force… Don’t piss off a gaysian who works in PR. This is going to be fun. A lot of fun. And as it might black list me from ever going to see a performance, and I might lose a bunch of friends in the ballet world… I decided… It is worth it.

A lot of you wrote in why I was selling and stopping… Here is the truth:

I decided to stop a ballet education because despite all of my efforts in posting happy, feel good posts about classical ballets, dance companies and schools… Actual education posts… people really didn’t care to read them. The more honest I was, the more popular the posts became… And I felt that I was giving ballet kind of a bad reputation, despite the truth behind it—

Then, because of this blog major ballet companies wouldn’t consider hiring me for PR & Marketing, despite my proven success track in the world fashion and luxury. (Which I consider going to the ballet to be a luxury (ballet go-ers support the art, so I thought why not?) Even though they sent nice emails saying I wasn’t qualified, a friend had casually mentioned my blog had come up in an east coast conference room. I was like Mother F’rs did I just screw myself over?

Finally, I realized that i was spending way too much time talking about ballet and not enough time in the world of fashion, which pays my bills…

So here is why I am coming back… I’m cutting the BS out of ballet. It is time people starting talking truthfully and not politely… People keep wondering why ballet is dying? Because no one is afraid to say the truth, and well, since I am not going to be in the dance world any time soon… I have nothing to lose. GET READY… because it is coming!! 

Raymonda… wtf

Seriously, wtf. In the world of ballet, there are tons of ballets that have been forgotten: the Pharaoh’s Daughter, Harlequinade, Les Saisons, and Le Daible Amoureux/Satanella (most noted for the Carnival de Venice Pas de deux). Regarldess, ballets become irrelevant, and forgotten about, maybe snippets and excerpts survive. Then there is Raymonda… Raymonda is the gigantic beast of a ballet. Longer than the full length Sleeping Beauty, the full length Raymonda consists of 3 acts and 4 scenes, and apotheosis. No wonder why it died, who could sit through all of that? Not to mention, that it kills the ballerina… She has four/five variations, depending on the production. No only does she have an absurd task of carrying an entire ballet, but her plethora of variations are some of the most difficult variations ever.

In Act 1, she has two variations. The first is the pizzicato variation which is light, charming but still rather difficult with all of the hops on pointe. Then in the same act she is challenged with the vision variation involving a long piece of fabric.

Then in Act 2 she has the pas d’action variation she has to conquer the “big” variation. This is the adagio variation that many girls use for competition because of the control a ballerina has to have. Seriously… if you don’t know what I am talking about go watch it via youtube. She then has another variation in the later scene of the act that has a bunch of dazzling turns, and a punch of entrechatquatres on pointe… Yeah, if that wasn’t enough…

Then in Act 3 she has her clapping variation, which kind of requires the ballerina to have good feet. The variation mainly consists of bourres and some feisty passes, but I mean after all of that dancing what else can you do on pointe…  Yeah it is kind of insane.

The variations are difficult enough, but there is quite a bit of dancing for the other leads as well. Raymonda is like this huge hodge podge of everything in classical ballet. Most people really only the pas de dix, or the Balanchine version that uses the same music for a corps and one couple. And thank god, there is are so many character dances. I have never seen it full length but own two different DVD versions, and every time I try to sit down and watch it all the way through… I fall asleep.

So, what is so special about Raymonda, and why do young girls still do the variations on the international competition stage? Well, I am glad you asked… Well, you didn’t… But I think what makes these variations special is that they are a part of a bigger picture.  As Swan Lake challenges the ballerina to be dynamic in two ways, Raymonda challenges the ballerina in five ways. Additionally, each variation is quite challenging, not because there are 5, but because each variation is exceptionally long compared to most variations. In the 3rd act variation, Raymonda now has a sense of maturity, authority and because the majority of the variation is bourres the ballerina has to be enchanting. In the big variation of act 2, the ballerina has to posses a weightless quality that is effortless and charming. Not to mention we all want to see leg up!

Also, in the supporting role of Henriette, 3 masterful variations are presented as well. In act one a long difficult and delicate variation is presented. In act 2, a sultry and provocative variation is delivered. And finally, in the third a playful spritely variation is executed.

Awful Realities of the Nutcracker

Sugar Plums: 5 Awful Realities of the Nutcracker

(The list of 5 Reasons why the Nutcracker won’t ever go away can be found by clicking here.)

Sugared plums are probably one of the nastiest tasting confections known to mankind, but the reality is they are beautiful. They possess a kind of quality fit for a ballet. And just like the ballet, Nutcracker is probably one of the nastiest, politically incorrect ballets. But, we still take our kids year after year anyways… I don’t know if Balanchine purposefully tried to avoid the racism by renaming the variations, but somehow racism it still made made its way into the choreography of the ballet. As a strong believer that dance/ballet is a reflection of humanity, it scares me that we have not evolved passed racial stereotypes. So, in honor of all of the Nutcracker stuff that is going around… 5 Awful Realities of the Nutcracker.

  1. Behold the glory of second act… Or the racism that is the second act. As progressive as dancers are, we still allow racist movements within the ballets. Chinese is ridiculous, and Arabian is hyper sexualized when in modern day reality, women are oppressed. Does anyone even know why Spanish is called hot chocolate? Hot chocolate was “invented” by the Aztecs and Mayans. Yup, there is a lot of racism. Not to mention the male glory of Russian, and the exuding of machismo testosterone.
  2. The entirety of Nutcracker is basically based on a psychological complex: projecting fantasies on to doll, Drosselmeier is just creepy in general and her parents don’t play a role in her life.
  3. Am I the only one who is concerned that flowers is not a confection? In the second act, a lot of versions have tried avoiding the race card by renaming the variations after confections, except waltz…
  4. Nutcracker really does not make sense. Yeah, I said it. The two act ballet really could be summed up into one act, but the fantasy of act 2 gets the best of us. Sometimes I feel like we should actually just cut the entire first act except snow, and turn act 1 into a shorter abridged prologue… Dads would be happier if act 1 was shorter.
  5. Finally, it always astounds me that the casting of Nutcracker. Nutcracker has to be the most politically incorrect ballet when it comes to casting. I guess for all white companies, it really doesn’t matter, but for those who are asian will probably always get cast as chinese, and for those who are ethnic, spanish… It is sad. I remember one time we were doing Balanchine’s version of Nutcracker and one of my best friends and I were in the same cast… (he is black) and the two of us were pointed out that we dance spanish corps the best and I quote, “They aren’t even European. He is oriental.” As she pointed at me. That day was the day I decided that I truly would have to dance ten times harder to even be noticed for my dancing.

As Nutcracker rehearsals are around the corner, I wonder what other racist things will be said to impressionable children?

Stay tuned for the 5 best Nutcracker productions.

Leading Ladies of ABT… 2014-2015

American Ballet Theatre is celebrating their 75th Season, and as they are preparing to come to come take residency in NYC, their rosters are set and the casting has been published. As ballet has made a shift towards women again, American Ballet Theatre seems to be a little late on the train. ABT has always been known for their men, but as the trend has transitioned now to fundamentally interesting ballerinas… ABT is just now slowly shifting… Their principal women can be grouped into their classics, their randoms, their guest stars, and new blood, while waiting in the wings are stars in the makings. Their soloist rankings and corps is full of star women waiting to take the limelight… So Kevin needs to start changing things up, or he needs to be replaced. #justsayin

THE CLASSICS:

Paloma Herrera Bloch

Paloma Herrera, At the age of 20, she graced the world as a principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre. Her double fouettes where rare, and her tenacity was charming. Her Kitri was so young, naive and flirty. Remember how everyone used to oogle and gawk over her feet? No one cared if she had some crazy velociraptor arms. Then the reviews piled in, and the world fell in love with her. But then, she was almost forgotten. If you didn’t know, this is going to be her last season with American Ballet Theatre, literally 20 seasons later. So, what happened to her? Some say, that as you get older you transition from technician to artist. But for her, I think she just never left that mark. For a while, she had left an impression as Kitri (from the ABT’s Variety and Virtuosity video with Angel, that foot, and those fouettes), but now it has been replaced with Natalia Osipova’s take.

Julie Kent in Apollo ABT

Julie Kent, The legend of Julie Kent goes something along the lines like this: You change your name to sound better. You win the Prix de Lausanne, and other competitions, you rise to fame, star in a series of bad acting movies, and marry ABT’s Associate Director. 29 years later, you still have it. If any of the women at American Ballet Theatre can claim artistry, you are the one. Of her roles I have seen live, by far Terpsichore has been your most charming. There is something to appreciate about Julie Kent, and I feel no one gives her enough credit. She isn’t like others who has a bazillion turns, or extension behind her ear. Her feet aren’t crazy amazing, and she isn’t hyper mobile. Instead she is stunning, artistic and musical. There is something very charming about everything she does, and with a solid technical base, she is the representation of what I think most dancers are. Yes, she has won numerous competitions, but not because she had crazy fouettes, but because she was clean, precise and clever with her musicality.

THE RANDOMS:

Gillian Murphy, Veronika Part, and Xiomara Reyes… So, I didn’t know how else to label these three because they are all quite random in their stories, and their styles. Gillian Murphy caught our eye in her diagonal of triple pirouettes in Corsaire. She came to fame for her campaigns for Gaynor Minden, giving hope to all of the girls with bad feet. She became something to talk about in the TV broadcast of Swan Lake with her triple fouettes. When it premiered I was literally at the dorms of San Francisco Ballet’s Summer Program watching it. Her coda was crazy, and that was about it… Her furrowed eyebrows in white swan didn’t do it. In fact, most everything I have seen her do didn’t do it. That is a lie, I liked her A LOT in Fall River Legend… Questionable as well, her husband is former principal dancer Ethan Stiefel… #justsayin

Then we have Veronika Part, during her Aurora… I fell asleep. Good feet and wears gaynors. Russian trained and gorgeous in the face, accent to die for, and appeared on TV with Letterman, her body is actually extremely beautiful on stage. Truthfully, I have only seen her dance in Swan Lake and the Sleeping Beauty and both times, I was not very entertained. But she is pretty to look at.

Then we have Xiomara Reyes, who I have no clue why she is a principal.  Like, I know this entire post seems like I am the Perez Hilton of ballet, but I have no clue why she became a principal…. Everyone else I understand why they were promoted… but then there is her… and I am dumbfounded. I can not even begin to understand Kevin’s choices sometimes…. Unless, she has a huge sponsor.

THE GUEST ARTISTS:

Polina Semionova and Diana Vishneva… Goddesses in their own rights, I feel like these two women can do no wrong in ballet. Even if both women aren’t full time principals with ABT, they are both stunning. Since ABT has been having a revolving roster of principal women, it is great to see that these two are making more frequent appearances… Even if there are plenty of women who would be great principals within the company…

THE NEW BLOOD: 

Thank the Lord for the newest principals of American Ballet Theatre: Isabella Boylston and Hee Seo. The two couldn’t be more different, but both equally poised to be principals. Isabella Boylston is dark, mysterious and sensual. Hee Seo is romantic, charming and airy. While I think Hee Seo is being groomed to replace Julie Kent, Boylston has set her own path at ABT. Both women I think are on the road to become great and lasting ballerinas.

Now the reality… ABT has two types of women… The women who get stuck, and the women who are on the fast track. Kevin McKenzie has obviously shown a track record of promoting women fast through the ranks, and promoting people and then the women get stuck. Misty Copeland and Stella Abrera have been stuck as soloists for a while, where their newly arrived counter parts Christine Schevchenko and Devon Teuscher are fast tracking it…I think Christine and Devon are being groomed to replace Gillian and Paloma. Oh and Sarah Lane, but I don’t really think of her as anything one way or the other. To be honest, I think she was only promoted because of her height and potential, but after the black swan fiasco, I haven’t really heard or seen anything great about her. While Misty Copeland is being pushed publicly to become a principal, new young blood in the corps has already been made a priority for the company. April Giangeruso, Gemma Bond, Luciana Paris, are being used quite a bit in leading roles. And very new to the company Catherine Hurlin and Hannah Marshall are both potential soloists in the makings… In the corps though, there are plenty of women who deserve promotions but I don’t think will ever get their chance Zhong-Jin Fang, a prix winner, Melanie Hamrick, Leann Underwood are three extremely beautiful dancers who should dance more. I honestly thought Underwood was on the fast track when she joined the company, but nothing has come to fruition… It is sad that ABT has tons of potential women to use but has yet to utilize them. (At least NYCB uses tons of their new talents, and has the repertory to showcase their corps.) So, as the season unfolds here’s to hoping for promoting Misty Copeland…

Company Profile: THe Joffrey Ballet

Company Profile: The Joffrey Ballet

Joffrey_slider

Joffrey Ballet (click here)

Location: Chicago, IL and to be exact, the Joffrey Tower
10 E. Randolph St.
Chicago, IL 60601

Artistic Director: Ashley C. Wheater

Style: Classical with a contemporary twist 

Affiliated School: The Joffrey Academy of Dance

Annual Tuition for a trainee: When e-mailed I didn’t get a response but I am guessing it is somewhere between $8-10,000 a year for the pre-professional division. The link is the PDF of requirements for the pre professional division for the 2014-2015 school year. (http://www.joffrey.org/sites/default/files/filefield/field_file/program/119/pre-professionaldivision2014-15schedule81914.pdf

Summer Program: They offer over six different programs across the US. (Money making programs, in my opinion.)

Theatre Residence: Auditorium Theatre, Chicago, IL

Current Season: 5 programs, and additional performances. Tour dates are unannounced.

Dancers Hired: 37

Founded in New York by masters Gerald Arpino and Robert Joffrey in 1965, the Joffrey Ballet was born. The company relocated to their now permanent home in Chicago in 1995. As Joffrey makes more appearances, and is referenced to in pop culture quite frequently, the ballet company has struggled tremendously. Despite the struggles of any ballet company the Joffrey ballet has made major contributions to the ballet world. The biggest is probably the 1995 reconstruction of Igor Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. Another unique quality is that the company really doesn’t have assigned ranks which allows the Artistic Director to be free about casting. Yes, senior company members have built names for themselves, but the dancers at Joffrey are truly unique. 

226_1647

First Joffrey has the stunning Fabrice Calmels, if you don’t know him, he is a giant standing at 6’6”. Trained are Paris Opera, and a unique resume on top of his training, he definitely stood out when I saw him in Apollo. GORGEOUS. His height and body proportions are beyond gorgeous, and his movement quality lives up to his height. With a unique contemporary take on ballet, he is definitely a jewel of the Joffrey Ballet.

Joffrey also employs Australian Aaron Smyth who made his appearances on the competition circuit in 2012-2013. This landed him a spot at JKO, then ABT II, and then joined the Royal Ballet. Since he is a younger dancer, we have a lot to look forward too.

Kara Zimmerman, formerly with PNB and Cincinnati, Joffrey really does use her well, and has helped develop her to her full potential.

Finally, basically one of their Prima’s Victoria Jaiani, she graced the cover of Dance Magazine back in 2010. With an arabesque for days, and artistry that moves the audience time and time again. She has definitely matured with the company and has truly made herself a name in Chicago, and in the dance world.

2013-02-16-VictoriaJaiani_FabriceCalmels

Dancers I think that would do well at Joffrey? Auditioning for companies, or summer programs with the hopes to go year round and work your way up? I believe that dancers who would do well at the Joffrey must already have a strong background in technique. It isn’t like a school like Boston Ballet or San Francisco that gives you technique. Joffrey is more about strengthening your technique and emphasizing a certain approach to your dancing. Dancers that I think do well there are tall, athletic, and most of all flexible. With the diverse repertory Joffrey offers, potential future hires have to have versatile bodies. This allows more forgiveness in body type, meaning there isn’t a preconceived notion to the perfect ballet body type. Their company has a variety of heights, and a variety of body types. Because there really isn’t clear rankings it also allows for a more fair shot in casting. I’m not saying it is completely fair, it never is. 

And just because he is so attractive, and he is beyond talented… and is 6’6″ of muscle… 

Fabrice-Calmels-by-Guiliano-Bekor

Saving Ballet

Ballet is dying. There is no other way to say it nicely, but it is an art form that reached its peak in 2000 or so. A part of tradition, perfected with time and science, mastered by the souls that evoked the deepest emotions, ballet represents the best of culture. It is no wonder why photographers, and prior to photography, fine artists (painters, illustrators etc) love to capture dancers. Nowadays, it seems everyone is capturing dancers via social media, and it just might save ballet.

Ballet & Fashion

It isn’t a surprise that the two go hand in hand. What designer doesn’t love a women with long limbs, elegance that comes naturally, and a sophistication in the simplicity of tights and a leotard. In edition, what designer isn’t inspired going to the ballet? The theaters, the lighting, the music, the costumes, the collaboration of it all to capture a mood, it is quite grandiose. It is why Vogue always leaves space for dancers, it is why ballet comes up in multiple collections a season, and it is why stylists always pay tribute to the Ballets Russes. (Okay, I was kind of obligated to somehow relate dance & fashion since I work in fashion, but now moving on to my main point…)

Ballet, Photography and Social Media 

There are the big names of dance photography: Gene Schiavone, Marty Sohl, Lois Greenfield, and Rosalie O’connor.  Now, I have always questioned whether or not they are good photographers, no offense, but here is why. As a fashion editor, it is my job to look through a photographer’s film and decide what photos are good, what photos are bad, what sells product, what is relatable and so on…. As I look at the older generation of dance photographers, who have carved their own path in the world, i wonder if the photos are genuinely good because they know ballet and can capture the height of a jump? Or are they good because of the subject matter, and the name that is associated with the image… Regardless, the photos are breathtaking and show off the best of the best in ballet… But there are new comers to the world of dance photography who I believe might just save ballet…

Why?

Ballet has always been for those who have…. It has always been a hoity-toity, white as a lilly, satin glove kind of affair. These photographers who have graciously created stunning images, and have shared it across social media might just be making ballet more accessible. What does that mean? It means, people are really starting to talk ballet again, and seats might just be filling up again. These photographers have started projects under work under the names of:

Ballet Zaida (Oliver Endahl), The Ballerina Project (Dane Shitagi), NYC Dance Project (Ken Browar), Travis Magee, RJ Muna

Other dance photographers who have taken a more classic approach, either studio or stage: Erin Baiano, Rachel NevilleChris Peddecord,  Brian Mengini 

These amazing photographers have collaborated with some of the most amazing ballet dancers to create art. 

In edition, dancers have decided to take the public behind the scenes and showcase the intimate moments of their lives both on stage and off stage: Daniil Simkin (IG: daniil), and Maria Kochetkova (IG: balletrusse).

Now both Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, and other various magazines have published their list of the most stunning photos on IG of ballet… The reality is, they probably just hashtagged and searched… Ironically most of the pictures were of Misty Copeland (nothing against her, #justsayin)… As these photos were not fully credited, just credited to the accounts who published them, despite whether or not having the rights to the photos…. I guess publicity is good no matter what for ballet. 

As some of the most beautiful ballet photos were not on that list… either way here are some of my favorites via the IG. (Our IG is @aBalletEducation)

Victor Mateos Arellano in Resin, photo by RJ Muna
Victor Mateos Arellano in Resin, photo by RJ Muna
Ballet Zaida photographing Madison Keesler
Ballet Zaida photographing Madison Keesler
Australian Ballet Jubilee | Will Davidson | Vogue Australia November 2012
Australian Ballet Jubilee | Will Davidson | Vogue Australia November 2012
Ramon Gaitan, photographed by Alexandra Rose for Social Culture
Ramon Gaitan, photographed by Alexandra Rose for Social Culture
David Hallberg in Once upon a dance for Fashion Muse
David Hallberg in Once upon a dance for Fashion Muse
Photographer Erwin Olaf, Dutch National Ballet
Photographer Erwin Olaf, Dutch National Ballet
Photo by: Ian Gavan of Ellie Sharpe of the English National Ballet prepare in the wings during a dress rehearsal of Swan Lake at the Coliseum on August 3, 2012 in London, England.
Photo by: Ian Gavan of Ellie Sharpe of the English National Ballet prepare in the wings during a dress rehearsal of Swan Lake at the Coliseum on August 3, 2012 in London, England.
Unknown.
Unknown.

Now with all the hype with bad commercials like Free People and good commercials like Under Armor and Lexus… Here is one of the first ballet commercials featuring dancers from National Ballet of Korea for Levis:

 

 

Type Casting … pt 1

ballet-jewels-31
George Balanchine, Suzanne Farrell, Patricia McBride, Violet Verdy, & Mimi Paul “Jewels”

So, when it comes to ballets I think there are always pre conceived notions as type casting, at the Artistic Director’s discretion (may or may not be a bad thing). For example if you look at a ballet there are always different spots for different types of ballerinas. 

In Balanchine’s Serenade we have three spots… Waltz Girl, Russian Girl, and Dark Angel

In Sleeping Beauty we have three spots… Aurora, Lilac Fairy, and Bluebird

In Don Q we have three spots… Kitri/Dulcinea, Cupid, and Queen of the Dryads

In Bayadere we really only have two… Gamzatti and Nikiya

Balanchine’s Jewels it is mapped out as three very different castings of girls… 

Nutcracker has…. well depends on the version, I will go off Balanchine’s since it is my favorite: Sugar Plum, Dew Drop, and Arabian

the list goes on… So here is how I see the types of Primas being developed.

First we have the romantic ballerinas, usually average in height, but they all possess this crazy lyricism and musicality. They are always so subtle, and quite pleasant to watch. I also feel like they have really beautiful feet, well proportioned lines, and kind of that “old school” ballet feel. These women are constantly being cast in Giselle, Dark Angel in Serenade, Onegin, and of course Juliet.  

ABT's Hee Seo and David Hallberg in Onegin.
ABT’s Hee Seo and David Hallberg in Onegin.

Then we have the ferocious primas. These women are spicy, they are super playful and kind of on the shorter side, no? I mean Russian Girl in Serenade I feel is always cast as a short girl with a lot of fire… Ashley Bouder. Technically precise and offer a lot of pazazz when on stage these women are addicting, and passionate. These girls are the Kitris, the Esmeraldas, Paquitas and the pas de deux from Rubies….  

Powerhouse and standing at 5', Maria Kochetkova in Helgi Tomasson's Trio. (San Francisco Ballet)
Powerhouse and standing at 5′, Maria Kochetkova in Helgi Tomasson’s Trio. (San Francisco Ballet)

And finally we have our swans, the women who are elegant, and overall have mastered being a ballerina… can’t figure out how to phrase it… These women seem to be cast as Odette/Odile, Waltz girl in Serenade, Grand Pas Classique or Balanchine’s Sylvia. I guess you could say that these women are what most people think of when it comes to ballet: Olga Smirnova, what a beast.  These girls have a flare for drama and do well in roles like Nikiya or Manon. 

Olga Smirnova in Bayadere
Olga Smirnova in Bayadere

I don’t think one is better than another, it just points out that a company’s ranks must be filled with diverse principals as the repertory demands it. If we all danced the same, it would be quite boring. And, what is great about full ballets versus pieces, is I think it shows off a dancer’s versatility as an entire story builds, thus the character changes. Do I think it takes 4 acts to do this? No, in fact to be honest a lot of full length ballets are very tiring to get through. Do I think that it can be done in 5 minutes? Sure, but it is less time to fall in love with a character. Can a dancer be all three, yup. Do I think directors make choices and type cast, therefore their legacy is left in a stereotype? Sure do. There are hundreds of ballerinas past and present who have already been type cast, as one of the following, I doubt we will ever see them transition into other roles. Will we see Ashley Bouder do Waltz Girl in Serenade? Or Uliana Lopatkina in Don Q?

Peter Boal of PNB, challenging Carla Korbes in different roles after she left City Ballet was genius.  I remember when VOGUE did a spread on Ashley Bouder and Carla Korbes, and how differently contrasted they were upon graduation of SAB and entering NYCB.  For example, do I think Peter Martins would have cast her in Agon, maybe not so much. Do I think she would have ever danced Don Q, nope. Regardless, her change was good and with Peter Boal casting she has made her mark as a leading lady of ballet. 

Ashley Bouder and Carla Korbes in VOGUE
Ashley Bouder and Carla Korbes in VOGUE

Too many Claras… and every little girl’s dream

The Dream of Becoming a Prima Ballerina…

It is sad to say that this is my first substantial post, a reality check for those who are starting to enter the world of dance. Unfortunately, or fortunately the world of dance has become over-saturated with dancers. This means there are too many dancers and not enough jobs. It seems that when a young girl goes to see the Nutcracker, they instantly want to be Clara or the Sugar Plum Fairy, and so the first seed of ballet is planted into their hearts. This is a great desire and passion, and I think it is very important to expose all children, male or female, to music, dance and art. So then, parents enroll their students at a dance studio, and by age thirteen when the child realizes they really want to be a dancer, it is most likely too late.


5665
Some version in Indiana

Too Many Claras…. Now, it is funny as Clara in the Nutcracker is the main character, or the heroine, but in most versions she doesn’t dance at all. Reality is, Sugar Plum Fairy is the one you want to be. Problem? There are just too many Claras… Unfortunately in the world of ballet, the Sugar Plum Fairy Pas De Deux is reserved for principals and if you are in a regional company, it is usually danced by one or maybe two casts. There are usually 4-6 girls cast as Clara, as a way to sell tickets… What parent doesn’t want to say, “My daughter is Clara in the Nutcracker.” Sooo, let us do the math…. If the role of Clara goes to a girl age 9-13 who shows outstanding promise and great acting abilities, and there are six of them, when those girls become 22-28 who will get cast as Sugar Plum? The reality is harsh… But, when you do become a Sugar Plum, it is totally worth it.


What does this mean? Most parents don’t take the time to research ballet, ballet studios or how the ballet world really works. FACT: A dance studio is not the same as a dance school and is not the same as a performing arts school and is not the same as a ballet school.

A Dance Studio is a recreational place to dance, which means you are there for exercise, exposure to music and the idea of technique.

A Dance School is a recreational place to dance with higher performance expectancy. A dance school usually can also be called a competition studio, or a performance studio. This is where technique matters, but not to the extent of creating a career. This is more for commercial dance route, the Hollywood route, and the scholarships to a UDA college route.

A Performing Arts School is a place for children to develop the fine/performing arts to a greater extent. Most kids in these schools aren’t just out to be ballet dancers, but instead they are also on their way to become a triple threat. BROADWAY BOUND. Performing arts schools usually offer more than just ballet, but modern, contemporary, voice lessons, acting lessons, and so forth.

A Ballet School is a place for children to studio pure ballet. Regardless of the pedagogy, it is completely ballet based, and the emphasis is only on ballet technique with supplemented curriculum of modern, contemporary and occasionally jazz.

So, the best way to insure your child’s future in dance is to make sure you are at the right school for your child. There is nothing wrong with any of these schools, or approaches to dance, but they will basically be the deciding factor of how your child will be received in dance.


So, your daughter was Clara?

Insuring your child has the best chance he or she may need in BALLET. You want to be a good parent, but you don’t know what to do? You think oh, is it even possible? Is my child good enough? Ballet dancers don’t make that much (which is a lie, it just depends where you get a job, like any career).  This is not an endorsement to any school in particular, please just go with the scenario. There are few jobs for ballerinas these days, and it seems one of the only ways to get noticed is to go to a legit ballet competition…. True and False… The reality is that those who go to these huge international competitions and do well are on the fast track to become principal dancers AKA sugarplum fairies. BUT, that doesn’t mean that your child isn’t going to make it. There are hundreds of companies that hold tons of ranks, and so your child just might be a snowflake, or a divertissement. Now, it is more important to decide how your child is going to get there… that is when the school your child is at should be evaluated.