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!

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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

In This Issue… Issue 2

Wonderfully put together, the second issue is finally out featuring collected thoughts on summer programs, auditions, race and more! What can you expect out of this issue? 15 summer programs that actually pay off, ballerinas today, and a wonderful review by Dorothy Crouch.

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Packing for a Summer Program…

summer program

It is countdown time… Most ballet students will be heading around the world in less than 30 days… While other kids are looking forward to summer vacations in Mexico, or going to the lakehouse, ballet students are gearing up for intense training… Parents are pinching pennies, and probably have been stocking up on pointe shoes. It is definitely crunch time… It is time for SUMMER PROGRAMS. Yes, you auditioned hard in January… Your parents shelled out big bucks… and now it is time to go study under brilliant ballet masters and mistresses, it is time to prove yourself among peers from around the world, it is time to prove that you belong in a professional school and land a year-round spot, or traineeship… Yup… It is definitely crunch time… While your friends are at grad night, you are doubling up on classes to build your stamina- you are cross training hard to be more flexible… You are doing pilates out the wazoo so you can turn faster and stronger than at your audition class back in January… Yup… and if you aren’t doing those things… maybe you should be? LOL…

So, what is more stressful than being at a summer program? Packing for a summer program… I am sure, you already have your lists going… but here are some helpful things to remember to bring to a summer program:

  • Sewing Kit
  • Extra ballet shoes, because you will either lose, rip or forget a pair… Make sure you bring black, white and nude because you never know what will be needed for end of course performances…
  • Tigerbalm or biofreeze… or whatever else you use…
  • Ibuprofen
  • Extra money for random things… I’m not talking about your basic spending money… but for laundry detergent, quarters for laundry machines, etc… Trust me.. there are a lot of things you take for granted…
  • Extra tights because pairs will rip… and discount dance gets behind on summer shipping…
  • Cell phone charger, not that you are ever without it…
  • small foam roller, theraband, foot stretcher, foot roller, and anything you might need during the course… Remember you are going to be dancing hard this summer, so your body is going to go through a lot of stress…
  • a good book…
  • running shoes
  • a notebook… so you can take notes

Those are just some of the things to pack… not to mention the standard: random character shoes and skirt, appropriate uniform, warm ups, regular clothes, and more…

ballet summer program

for professional dancers… it is time to go on vacation!!! After all of those summers you sacrificed you finally get to have summers off!!

Old posts about summer programs: what to do once you are in…

or just click the tag Summer Programs

 

Anatomy of a Pointe Shoe

anatomy of a pointe shoe

Collectively, teachers and doctors can agree on one thing: pointe work is NOT healthy for the human body. With that being true, neither is being tackled by a 200-pound man on astroturf, regardless people do it. Dancers do it for the love the art, the strides towards perfection, and the ability to conquer physics. Ballet would not be ballet without pointe work; it is the ultimate goal of a female dancer and some male dancers. So, how does a 6-year-old girl go from dancing in her living room with winged butterfly costumes to defying gravity on the largest stages around the world? Hard work, determination and sacrifice. To dance on en pointe or on pointe, you have to be ready both physically and mentally. The road to pointe work is the first step in the long journey it takes to become a ballerina.The demand of pointe is not only physically straining, but it is also financially straining. They are probably one of the most expensive pair of shoes you will every buy, that will last at most two weeks. And for those blessed with strong feet and beautiful arches, maybe two days… And for those of you who dance en pointe constantly… Maybe a class or two? The pointe shoe is an oxymoron, as it doesn’t last long due to sweat and the breaking down of the raw materials. (Unless you wear Gaynors… These shoes last longer, but there is a huge debate about that… I have posted before on them… Just search Gaynor in the blog search.) As delicate as they are, and as delicate it creates the aesthetic for ballet… well, they are also extremely strong.

 

So, these delicate beauties that hide their strength also house a vital part of ballet… A ballerina’s feet. They protect and shape the look, aesthetic and power of ballet… I mean it really isn’t ballet if it isn’t en pointe…. right? The whole point of training ballet is to get pointe shoes. So, before you even attempt pointe, you probably should know what a pointe shoe is… This isn’t the history of pointe… This is the anatomy of a pointe shoe 🙂

Anatomy of a Pointe Shoe

A pointe shoe has to be designed for the masses, and, as a result, the pointe shoe industry has expanded greatly. Despite the maker or manufacturer of the shoe, the concepts behind the “parts” of the shoe remain the same. Pointe shoes get their structure from two main structural parts:
The Box: the front of the shoe that encases and supports the dancer’s toes.
The Shank: a hard material the stiffens or reinforces the sole of the shoe to support the arch of the foot while en pointe.
Pointe shoes get their pretty factor from the light pink satin covering, hiding the internal structure of the shoe.
With modern day engineering, the box of a pointe shoe has been reshaped to meet dancers’ foot shape. A box is traditionally made from the process of papier-mâché while innovators in pointe shoes are making the box from more durable substances like plastic. The box consists of 3 parts: the platform, the vamp, and the throat. Each one of these parts comes with different specs per the model and manufacturer of the shoe. The platform of the shoe allows the dancer to stand flat on the floor for balancing, turning, and giving the illusion of being weightless. The width and shape of the platform vary. A Gaynor Minden’s platform is the flattest, versus a Freed, has a slightly more round shape to let the dancer break in the platform to fit their needs. The vamp supports the dancers toes, but most importantly their metatarsals; the vamp can be shaped differently, allowing for higher sides, or a higher throat in the front, ensuring that all of the flexible joints are supported and encased within the box. Russian Pointes have higher vamps and give the illusion of a longer, narrower foot. The throat is the opening of the box, and can be V-shaped, or rounded. The overall shape of the box varies by the maker as well. These are all important as the box is going to give the dancer’s foot 360 support. Because the materials a box is made of degrades, the box of a pointe is crucial for a dancer. If the box “dies” meaning it becomes mushy, there is no support for the toes. A dancer can dance on a really dead shank, but a really dead box is almost impossible to dance on. The shank of a pointe shoe is supple but the sturdy support the arch needs to hold a dancer’s body weight. Usually, the shank the sole of the shoe correspond in shape with hardened pieces of leather, cardstock, or hardened burlap. The sole is traditionally scored leather to prevent slipping and falling on stage.

The pointe shoe is famous for the ribbons that wrap across the arch of the foot and tie above the ankle. The ribbons aren’t there for show, ribbons do offer some security to keep the pointe shoe on, but nowadays nude/pink elastic is sewn to the heel of the pointe shoe to keep the shoe in place. Additionally, there is a drawstring placed around the shoe encased in canvas that lines the throat of the shoe.

For more about pointe work…
The Guide to Pointe Work

The Guide to Pointe Work (2015) | $2.99 USD – click to download

 

CORPS DE BALLET CONFESSIONAL: Alaia Rogers-Maman

alaia rogers maman

If you follow ballet competitions and the budding young talent in the ballet world, you have heard of her. Her photos are all over Instagram, and her videos have been watched thousands of times. After starting late compared to most ballerinas, she secured a spot in the variation selections at the Prix de Lausanne at the age of 15, and then a spot at the Royal Ballet Upper School… Alaia Rogers Maman is proving herself to be a force of nature in ballet. She is now a corps de ballet member at the prestigious Vienna State Opera Ballet Company. She may be young, but she already has a very defined sense of musicality and intensity. Alaia was super great to chat with over Instagram and Facebook to secure our next Corps de Ballet Confessional.

So, let’s begin: 

Name: Alaia Rogers, although my full name is Alaia Rogers-Maman and that is what is listed in Prix de Lausanne blogs and the company’s site
Website: No website yet although I think it’s a project I would really enjoy , updating it with content and blog posts , I just haven’t gotten around to it and I’m not sure anyone would actually read it   🙂
(I’m sure we would all follow it)
Insta: alaiarogers
Company: Wiener Staatsballett -translated Vienna state opera ballet-click here for website
Company Position: Corps de ballet , 2nd season , first company (click here for her company profile)

Ballet Education: I trained with many different teachers and schools , but I would credit my most influential training to Magaly Suarez her school is “The Art of Classical Ballet” in Pompano Beach, Florida. She really changed me as a dancer and made the idea of me becoming a professional dancer into a realistic possibility. Going to the Prix de Lausanne and getting the scholarship to Royal Ballet School was something I never thought I could achieve before her training . So my education in dance I would attribute to her and the royal ballet upper school .

Age: 19
Height: 5’7.5” or 165.7 CM

How do you drink your coffee?
Coffee – latte no sugar … I love my Nespresso machine

What is your favorite dessert?
Dessert – that is a tough one, I love dark chocolate especially with sea salt or pistachio filling

You went to Royal Ballet upper school, what was that like?
RBS was a trying and wonderful experience. I think that you can find great ballet teachers all over the world but at RBS it is more than the teachers it’s level of talent from the students and the comprehensive education provided. Ms. Stock traveled the world searching for the dancers with the greatest potential and then put them all in the same class. I think that might be what made me improve the most there was being inspired and challenged by my classmates . The pas de deux education there is phenomenal , the boys are of such a high standard and our teacher Mr.Pakri made us understand all of the technical aspects and taught us to trust our partners and be there for each other. The education on ballet history , physiotherapy , character dance, arts funding, and all stages and roles within the choreographic process were taught in great depth. It was also a trying time lots of changes were taking place as Ms.stock made her departure from the school. It was very sad to see her go and later hear I of her illness.

What was it like trying to find a job?
Finding a job was a bit scary at first especially when you see how many candidates show up to an open audition. You really think how are they even going to see me in this sea of girls. Also, there are only a few spaces available to dancers each season, I felt like all the odds were against me. I think doing your research is important,  to look for a company where you can see yourself fitting into the repertory

What was your dream company when you are 15?
I think I had a few dream companies at 15 , Paris Opera and ABT were definitely at the top though

What is it like dancing at the Vienna State Opera?
It’s incredible to work here in Vienna . The opera house is beautiful and I love curtain calls when you can just look out into the beautiful theater and take it all in. The Viennese people are huge fans of the opera and ballet and we are always performing for packed audiences. My director is Manuel Legris (former etoile at Paris Opera) and he has a never-ending wealth of knowledge to share with us. We have such a diverse group of super talented dancers which I feel lucky to be a part of. I really believe this is one of the best places to work in ballet. Few companies have our diverse and exciting rep paired with great dancers and a world-class director.

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How often do you perform?
Our performance schedule varies month to month, but I would say on average about 85 shows per year here in Vienna .

What are you currently rehearsing?
Onegin, Le Corsaire by Manuel Legris, Marie Antoinette by Patrick de Bana, snow queen by Micheal Corder , and soon we start with Mayerling.

How does time off work at an Opera House?
Our company is different than most we don’t have scheduled Christmas or mid season breaks. They try to give everyone their free days when possible based on the programs you are cast in. At times, it can a bit annoying because it’s hard to make plans for vacation or family with little notice but when we all get two months of holidays in summer it makes up for it .

What are some of the pressures of being in a ballet school compared to being in a company?
Ballet school, although at the time, I felt was stressful really isn’t  in comparison to being in a company. In school you and your classmates are all practically on the same level it’s like a mini company where you are all the same rank. In school, your teachers are so invested in you and are constantly giving you feedback and you have hours of rehearsal time and you know exactly what you are going to dance and when. In a company you get very little feedback about your personal progress and have to motivate and assess yourself. You also are preparing multiple pieces at one time with limited rehearsals and have to be prepared to jump into other roles, with maybe only 30 minutes notice and hopefully ONE rehearsal. School years were golden years with lots of nurturing and friendships combined with hard work. In the company it is different, but once you adjust you really enjoy the diversity of the things you dance, the mentorship of more experienced dancers, and the feeling that with each role you really can explore your artistry and grow.
royal ballet school 2012

What are some of the relationships you develop in the corps de ballet?
Well, you develop great relationships. Dancing with a new partners you forge friendships with people you wouldn’t have become friends with otherwise. Also, when you work on a piece that has been in the rep for years and it’s your first time dancing it the more experienced dancers can really help you along the way. I think you can learn a lot from dancers in the corps de ballet there are  really young dancers, dancers starting to get their first big opportunities , dancers who have been in the company for more than a decade , and super moms who somehow manage this crazy time and energy consuming profession with motherhood. So you make all sorts of friends in corps.

What is the biggest difference between European dancers and American Dancers?
I think to compare European dancers and American dancers it is not really possible because British, French and Danish dancers are completely different already. I can only comment on the things I felt I had to change myself once I started dancing in Europe . My wrists, they often dropped and didn’t always elongate my line, finding more light and shade in my dancing playing more with the musicality.

When you were a student, what was the hardest thing for you?
Being a student, I think the hardest thing for me was mental. I started ballet quite late and I was always the underdog or the one who had potential but was behind the other students. Mentally, it was often hard to believe I had progressed enough to do well in a competition or be able to stand out in a group of my talented peers, my confidence wasn’t always on the same level as my capability.

Technically? Mentally? Injury Prone to?
Technically I had struggles too but every student and professional does.

I really believe that if you eat, sleep , and work properly you can avoid most injuries . I have been very lucky I have had only very minor injuries. It’s shocking how many dancers as they get older and start a professional career do so little to warm up.

What is in your dance bag?
My dance bag is huge – lots of Bloch point shoes , theraband, box cutters, sports wrap, chapstick, sewing kit , jet glue , icy hot , leg warmers, rehearsal skirt, shorts , ballet flats, foot spray , sisscors, scotch tape , lambs wool toe pads, my keys and phone

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What is your dream role?
I have many roles I aspire to. I would love to dance a dramatic role like Tatiana in Onegin , Marguerite in Lady of the Camillas , or Esmeralda in Notre Dame.

 What do you want out of your ballet career?
I think I am a very ambitious person , and I want out of ballet what I would want out of any other career I could choose . To continue to improve, to be challenged, not to plateau, to always be working toward something. Ballet is wonderful because you can always grow more. Even the best of the best can continue to work, explore, and create. I love feeling that each class or performance was an improvement on the last.

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Don’t forget tickets to the FINALS for the YAGP are on sale! If you are in NYC- get them now! Click here!


Love the Corps De Ballet Confessional? Check out our first one with San Fran Ballet’s Julia Rowe. Are you a corps member and interested in being interviewed? Email me aballeteducation@gmail.com

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Or on facebook by clicking here.

When in Doubt… Turn Out

when in doubt turn out ballet turn out

“Turn-out. Turn-out. Turn-out.”

“Use what you have.”

“I don’t see you even trying.”

“What was that? That wasn’t even ballet.”

All corrections we may have heard. Turn-out in ballet is the most important thing. I remember a teacher once asking me, “Is it more important to have straight knees or be perfectly turned-out in a tendu?”  My immediate response was something like, “Have straight knees so you can lengthen the muscle and work correctly.” I was then told I was wrong. Now as a teacher, I realize what she was talking about. In ballet, the most important thing is turn-out, it is the thing that makes ballet so difficult, and separates ballet from the rest of the classical dance forms. Turn-0ut is the outward rotation of the hip joint. The goal is 180 degrees (90 degrees on each leg).It is based on the stance in fencing. So, turn-out is the one thing that defines ballet. If you have biscuity feet, you can kind of hide it by turning out. But, what makes turn-out so amazing is that by properly rotating the leg from the hip, and using the muscles and tendons properly, it changes the shape of the leg. Which is why turn-out is the most important thing in ballet. Unfortunately, if you don’t have close to perfect turn-out… ballet might not be for you…

And no, it isn’t about just standing there in a nice turned out position… It is about dancing 100% of the time turned out. ABT’s Zhong-Jing Fang at the Prix de Lausanne. She won in 2000. Unfortunately, she is still in the corps… but that is some killer turnout.

Dancing turned out all the time puts a ton of stress on the legs, and can cause the ligaments to overdevelop and compensate for other ligaments. So, it is really important to get into pilates, or go swimming. Turn-out is ten times more important than body proportions because turn-out is the first deciding factor for the potential of a ballet dancer.

BREAST REDUCTIONS FOR BALLET GIRLS…

breast reduction ballet dancer plastic surgery

How big is too big? How much would you do for your son or daughter? Recently something came up that isn’t necessarily rare in ballet, but it is definitely something unspoken. Your child did everything right. Started ballet at three, became serious at eight, and at twelve, she was accepted to School of American Ballet on scholarship. She spent her next three summers at PNB, Houston and Boston. Again, you did everything right. You spent the money on a great year round studio; you drove a 40-minute commute to make sure she got the best training in your area. You rarely see your other kids because of long hours at the studio. Then at fifteen your daughter’s body changed, and she grew breasts. She grew a “c cup” but the remainder of her body was thin… This year she auditioned and didn’t get into a big ten school, but waitlisted to Boston. What do you do?

Is it okay when your fifteen-year-old daughter asks for a breast reduction to have a fighting chance in ballet?

I know plenty of girls who have gotten nose jobs, boob jobs, their ears pinned back and more to obtain a better line, a better physique, a prettier face. Most of these girls have contracts with major companies. So is it wrong? Living in Los Angeles it is normal for a girl to get a new nose for her sixteenth birthday. And it is normal for a girl to get implants at twenty-one. But, for some reason, when a fifteen-year-old girl asks for a breast reduction just to have a fighting chance in ballet… The world becomes completely unfair and my anger at ballet builds and explodes… So here is my post for the night:

Ballet Companies and ballet schools are two peas in a pod, but can be extremely different. The pod is ballet. Unfortunately, schools seem to be even more demanding than a company. This is true from the get go. In ballet school, you learn the most ridiculous combinations, and do the most ridiculous things, and over work your body till exhaustion. In a ballet company, the combinations are to warm your body up and to stay sharp. You don’t take more than one class in a day, and you spend most of your days in rehearsals. Sure, school builds stamina and teaches you worth ethic, but the demands on a ballet student are completely different than in a company. Both are extremely stressful but different. But it seems ballet schools are even more demanding than ballet companies.

The body type factor was extremely apparent this year. This year, I went to watch my students audition, and it seems that the push towards “perfect” bodies is more apparent now more than ever. Schools won’t even give you a chance is your body type is remotely different or differently proportioned. It seems schools are seeking taller dancers with extreme European proportions. And, with the influx of ballet students worldwide, they get to choose these body types, even now more than ever. Because of this, I now have a student who has to find a way to have a breast reduction because her chest is too developed.She is Latina, and her genetic body type is predetermined, she now has to find a way to raise money, secretly, to even have a fighting chance in ballet.

Yes, every body type is predetermined, but race and genetics continue to be a wall in ballet. The older generations of ballet teachers might not even understand ethnic body types, how they work, how different individuals and body types translate ballet technique. It is so frustrating, and while I do understand these racial body types, if other teachers and school directors are not familiarizing themselves with this process, then ballet will never change. That means the 2 percent of ethnic body types that fit the “ideal body type” will make it, the rest won’t.

This leads to me to say, shame on all of you school directors. As Artistic Directors only can pick from what you give them, get off your high horse and give them some diversity. But if you are presenting artistic directors with one body type, one ethnicity, shame on you. If you can’t grasp the idea of an ethnic body type in your school, or make allowances for ethnic predispositions, super shame on you. Actually, shame on all of you… So to PNB, SAB, HOUSTON, and BOSTON BALLET SCHOOLS… You missed out on a great dancer, with a great work ethic, who is exceptionally gifted. And while you go on your summer audition tour and make all of the money you make, just know, that either because of racism, body type, or lack of experience with ethnic body types… You are now making children want to alter their bodies to please you.

You might think that I am ridiculous. That I am just mad that my student gets into a school of their choice. But seriously, she is technically gifted at every standard: perfect turn out, hypermobile, beautiful feet, hyperextended; triple pirouettes left and right en pointe, 180 penche, oversplit saute chats, beautiful musicality, and a hard work ethic. If you are asking for more than that, then good luck with your schools…

This isn’t the first time this has come up, and I know a couple moms here have written in and I avoided responding… Well, I’m tired of waiting for ballet to change…


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Previews

With a week away, I am almost done fundraising everything I need to… We just need to raise about $1,000 dollars by tomorrow. Everyone has worked extremely hard to put this show together. I really hope you could find it in your hearts to support the ballet company and school. Greatly appreciated.

David King, Artistic Director of Redlands Dance Theatre
www.RedlandsDanceTheatre.org

SOCAL: AUDITION INTENSIVE

Summer programs/ college auditions are coming up and everyone is stressing and writing in about them… So, if you are in socal I have I have answer for you… come to my (Redlands Dance Theatre’s) Audition Intensive. It will take place from January 3-9, 2015. On the Redlands Dance Theatre website the deposits were due by the 1st, but don’t worry about it. We have about ten spaces left. The workshop is designed for both students and parents to work together and find what is best to fit the needs of your family. Additionally, Alexandra Rose will be taking everyone’s audition photos. She does all of the RDT photos and is the photographer at Social Culture.
A weeklong intensive to prepare you, or your student for upcoming auditions for summer programs, companies and universities. Each day focuses on a different thing, and will prepare your student to take an audition to the best of their abilities. Students will prepare in both ballet, pointe and contemporary/modern auditions. Your student will learn what works the best for their abilities, how to tap into limitless potential, and how to market themselves at an audition. The intensives are designed for both the student and parent to take, so students don’t forget to tell their parents what is going on. Seminars in hair and make up, resume and portfolio building will help you and your child look and feel like a professional. Practice auditions will be held during the intensive and individual evaluations will follow. Additionally, a professional ballet photographer will be coming in to take your child’s audition photos. Each child will receive an 8×10” digital copy of their headshot and first arabesque. Additional prints may be purchased.

AI: ADVANCED INTENSIVE (ages 14+)
7 days, 10 AM-3:00 PM
Limited spaces available, non refundable deposit of $125 is due by November 1, 2015
The total fee for the audition intensive is $500.00(the deposit is included in this number) (Deposits and Fees to be billed online)

II: INTERMEDIATE INTENSIVE (ages 11-14)
7 days, 10 AM- 2:00 PM
Limited spaces available, non refundable deposit of $100 is due by November 1, 2015
The total fee for the audition intensive is $400.00 (the deposit is included in this number) (Deposits and Fees to be billed online)

CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP – if you sign up by Saturday- we will take of $50.00 of the total fee.
Jessy Gonzalez 1

Redlands Dance Theatre

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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

Let the boy dance

His face was pressed against in the glass,
Fingers spread wide, tapping to the muffled sound of the music.
His mind was racing back and forth between reality, and fantasy.
Finally, the door opened and the teacher asked, “Do you want to come in?”
Looking for his mom’s approval, she nodded.
He rushed in.
And that was that.

I always wondered why my mom didn’t put me into dance earlier? From age 3-7 I would religiously watch the Baryshnikov/Kirkland Nutcracker every day, a copy that my grandma gave me. When PBS aired PNB’s Nutcracker, my Grandma recorded it, via VHS and gave it to me as well. I was addicted. I hadn’t even started dance classes yet. There are pictures of me religiously watching it. After preschool, lunch and reading, my mom would try to make me take a nap with her as I would normally get into trouble somewhere in the early afternoon. When these naps came about I would purposefully would toss and turn, and this would lead my mom to let me go to the living room and watch the Nutcracker. Somewhere between Snow and Prologue she would come out, and insist I turn it off and do something educational. I would beg, because the real dancing hadn’t started yet and the clowns hadn’t even danced. Little did I know, that one of those clowns would become a coach later on. Then in PNB’s Nutcracker, I would become obsessed with flowers and snow. Then my life happened, the Nutcracker was going to be in theaters, the NYCB version with Darci Kistler. And that is when I knew that is how I wanted to dance… The problem was, I hadn’t even started dancing yet… My sister and cousins were all in dance… But I wasn’t. Despite the fact that I had to go watch my sisters take class all the time… I hadn’t been enrolled.

My grandma giving me the Nutcracker.
My grandma giving me the Nutcracker.
Me super turned in watching the Nutcracker ... in suspenders, stripes and shoes...
Me super turned in watching the Nutcracker … in suspenders, stripes and cute shoes…

Finally, when it came to be… I wasn’t allowed to do ballet. I did boys class which included jazz and tap.
Then, finally, I knew I wanted to do ballet and I finally got my wish.  It was so late. So late. After an excellent elementary school, I went to a performing arts middle school with the condition that I keep a GPA over 3.5, stayed in the GATE program, and did other extra curricular activities. Needless to say, I wasn’t getting the training I needed. Then Center Stage came out, and I knew that I wanted that life. With the condition that I kept up all my responsibilities, I was able to quite the dance program at the middle school and go to a pre professional school. Then high school came about, and I knew I had to dance more. So, I doubled up on classes, by my freshman year of high school, I enrolled at a junior college so I could accumulate more credits.  By the age of fifteen I had finished high school, differed from colleges to make my parents happy, but I did this so I could focus on ballet.

Then while at this pre professional school, a former principal from National Ballet of Canada told me I would never be a dancer. So, it shattered my world, and I was like, “Fuck. I gave up Uni for this…”
While at the junior college, I found out they offered ballet classes late at night. And I thought, this is perfect! I can double up on my ballet training. I juggled the two back and forth and by January, I had auditions. As rejection letters and acceptance letters came, I was really confused. I had done everything right… I did everything my parents asked me, and everything my teachers asked me but I didn’t get in anywhere that I really wanted. This being SAB.

audition photo
audition photo

Then, while under the advisement of the junior college professor, she told me to consider going to a university and majoring in dance. I knew this isn’t want I wanted, but what if the world didn’t have a ballet plan for me? I was taking class at a college here in soCal and as I finished adagio at center I was walking to the side when a man tapped his finger on the glass and told me to come over. I kind of shook my head, but then the music in class stopped and the professor told me I should go out there and talk to him. I didn’t know who he was. He basically asked me a couple questions and asked if I wanted to come to his school for the summer. I had no clue who he was… It was Alonzo King of LINES Ballet. This was before LINES was everywhere. Deadlines were coming up and my parents told me I had to make decisions… So, while eating my favorite chinese food reading about all these programs, I opened my fortune cookie and it said: You will dance to a different beat.

Fortune cookies are the best.
Fortune cookies are the best.

Being the crazy that I am, I was like THIS IS A SIGN. So, I went to LINES. And as beautiful as it was, and as glorious as it was… I knew that this isn’t how I wanted to dance. I didn’t care about what muscles moved what, I didn’t care about finesse and I didn’t care about how a plié made me feel. I knew I wanted to have long lines, and deep fourths. I wanted over crossed everything and I wanted to move fast… Every modern teacher said I was too Balanchine. Every ballet teacher said I didn’t have the body for ballet. It was really discouraging. Despite all of my kicking and dragging on at LINES I had met beautiful dancers who I still catch up with to this day. I came home discouraged, but my Grandma showed me this article about SoCal girls doing it up big. It was referring to Ashley Ellis and Misty Copeland, just coming off their spotlight awards, coca cola scholars and acceptances to ABT Studio company… So, I moved in with my grandma to train at their studio… The caliber of training was amazeballs… It was intense training… But, it was SOOOOOOO classical. Anything remotely unclassical was frowned upon, and the Balanchine was driven out. Then I went to CPYB, thinking okay, if all of the principals of NYCB have gone here… I must go, and they had a University in the same city, so I could keep going on with my education. The training was beyond exceptional, but this time… life handed me a different set of cards… I never thought I would experience racism in a ballet classroom, I never thought I would be the only asian male for miles, I never thought a lot of things would ever happen to me… and they did.  I grew up in Southern California, my parents are white, and my brothers and sisters are all from different countries. Growing up my best friend was half french half black, and my other best friend was half German half mexican. Racism was the furthest thing from my mind… So, when comments by teachers were made about me being oriental, or that I had to open my eyes bigger… I was like wtf. This was the first time race became utterly important, but it also crushed me. So, despite CPYB’s advice, I decided to go audition for companies and got in. I begged the school the company was associated with to let me come early and just be in the school so I could get out of CPYB. Dance ended but brought teaching… Teaching brought back hope for ballet for me. Watching students leave this summer to join companies, go to SAB, and other summer programs, go off to university to dance on scholarship… Makes me feel like I can really do this… which basically caused this retrospective…

Ten years later, here I am sitting down filling out company contracts, school curriculum and emailing theaters. Crazy. Right? Starting a ballet company where poverty is seen in 30 miles every direction, the average high school drop out rate is over 30%, and the only major theatre is for comedians. Insane right? No, because now I know how important it is to let someone dance. And as I start this crazy journey of starting a company I am loving it. Mostly because the dancers I have hired are beautiful people with beautiful stories and that makes them beautiful to watch.
Kelly is tall. Like really tall. And after having a pre pro scholarship at PNB, and dancing at numerous companies around the US- she was never really pushed into roles because she was so tall. Now, inspired to dance again after having kids, she is beyond gorgeous and has this ferocious tenacity, ridiculous dedication and now that she is pushing for herself she taking on roles with fire and having experienced everything she has gone through as a mom, as a tall dancer, and as a teacher she brings something extra to her dancing. Then there is Carlos, who was a student of mine, coming from the same area. Training him to get scholarship at the Rock School then continuing his education at University of North Carolina School of the Arts, he is back. After fighting his family to let him dance, he comes back gorgeous, strong and long. Jaquie was told she was never going to dance. The studio owner would tell her to her face that she would never dance. Then I came to her studio as a teacher. After pushing and stretching, and challenging her, she got into summer programs and attended. She then got a scholarship to go to University. She is going to commute back and forth to dance. Amanda did everything right in ballet. Went year round at the Rock School, spent every summer at SAB, but ballet life got to her, and she decided to become an RN. Now at a top ranked hospital in the US, she decided she missed dancing, and wanted to start again. These are just short abbreviated versions of their stories, but their stories are also just beginning. It is really that spectacular.
www.redlandsdancetheatre.org
facebook: REDLANDS DANCE THEATRE

I feel like… ballet rant…

you all need to stop

I was minding my own business tonight, and was going to go to bed early tonight. I went to a charity dinner with the food was crazy amazing. At most charity events the food is awful, but at this event the food was bangin. So, I get home and was getting ready for bed, and as my nightly routine has it… I go on youtube and social media, and see what is going on, or if I missed anything while living my life, LOL. I was in an Ailey mood tonight. Yes, I know it isn’t ballet, but it is just as good, just as inspiring and just as beautiful and sometimes more beautiful.  While ballet tells fairytales, or captures movement, it lacks the reality of art.  I believe that art is a reflection of our times, and ballet seems to lack that.  Ailey’s Repertory is a reflection of that  beautifully unspoken narrative. So, with that being said, there are some nights you just need to sit down and watch Revelations from start to finish (if you have not seen it in full, order the DVD). Not only does it inspire you, but it reminds of you that America then and America now really hasn’t changed, and how if you are a minority the struggle is a part of your life.

With everything going on in America, I realized that Misty’s promotion has kind of masked what is really going on in ethnic America, and was slightly disturbed.  I then decided to watch the Kennedy Center honoring Judith Jamison… And then this lead me tonight’s rant…

If you are a teacher, or choreographer and it is time to do a show… DO NOT, I REPEAT, DO NOT TRY TO DO THIS… It is so awful. If you are going to use the music as a tribute to gospel or just inspired by the music, then fine. But I do not recommend it… Just like I don’t recommend using the music from Serenade… Just don’t.  Because, not only are you being unoriginal by teaching your students the choreography from a video or something, but it is so disrespectful… I don’t care if you are paying tribute to the choreographer, the company or ethnicity (which is also borderline offensive… And yes, I saw your video descriptions… Like seriously some studio’s theme was Dance Around the World, and they used Wade in the Water as “Africa”… SMH, I had to report that video, it was just too much)… Just don’t touch the choreography… Just don’t. It is so awful. Don’t use the fans, don’t try to glam it up, don’t try to make it sparkly, definitely don’t try to make it a ballet (I saw that too), don’t imitate the costume… just seriously… don’t. Like don’t do the choreography, choreography that resembles it, formations and blocking that resembles it, don’t use the props, definitely don’t use it for competition, don’t even use the Ailey recording- find a different version if you are inspired by gospel music….. but seriously, just please stop

I think it is so disrespectful on so many different levels: the choreographer, the dancers, the company, the legacy… Just stop. Figure something else out. It is so frustrating… For some reason, this is more upsetting then studios doing awful versions of Serenade …( Then again I get offended watching Paris Opera do Serenade… mostly because the music seems to be slower and there is just not the Balanchine attack that is so beautiful)  I think it is because the lack of technique at these studios? At least when studios attempt Serenade they are ballet studios… and not competition schools trying to do epic ballets. After seeing all of these “tributes” via random studio, school, church etc… There is no technique, where Ailey dancers have a very specific look to them… Like City Ballet dancers.  Ailey Dancers are trained in Graham, Horton and ballet- they also have this sense of abandonment, which is why I love watching them. But watching some random school in podunk America trying to do Revelations based off a video… that is a little bit much.
Ugh, other than that, I need to go to bed…But here is a photo of crazy good food.
IMG_0630

Not Bad.

Finding YourselfAfter two hip surgeries, and not dancing in like 5 years, and gaining like 20 pounds…
Exploring Arabesque on the beach while storming…
On another note, I hope you had a good holiday weekend if you are in the US.
There were a ton of Stars and Stripes videos posted all over social media, and crazy red, white and blue costumes posted, so I didn’t feel the need to encourage it all.

company class plies redlands dance theatre
www.redlandsdancetheatre.org

love wins
#workflow
www.SocialCulture.com

COMING SOON:
THE GUIDE TO VARIATIONS

if you have questions about variations, or would like me to touch on things, let me know.

Summer Program Life

Ballet_feet430x325

You made it into a Summer Program, now what? You work hard, you sweat hard, you what? Are you prepared, are you ready, are your parents ready?

Now what? It is a really big step for a ballet student to go to a summer program, especially if they are are young.  But, once your student is there now what?  This isn’t a five week summer camp where kids sit around a campfire singing. Over the next few weeks your child is going to be pushed to the max both physically and mentally. At most summer programs, students will be dancing in between 5-8 hours a day, six days a week. Summer programs are designed to strengthen a students technique, and see if they do well under pressure. Day 1 of a summer program is usually placement day. Even though you are already assigned a level, this is usually done back in January, the faculty look at all of the students’ ability and potential.  Day 1 is where most students will make a good first impression.

Now, while most summer programs are filled with students are pre professional schools attached to companies, there are many students who are there from smaller schools. These students, which might be your child, will be looked at closely. The reasoning? For your child to be asked to stay year round. Usually, they will ask the second to last week during the summer course. A spot in the year round school means that the director, and the faculty see great potential and want to work with you.  This is important, as a year round spot in the school usually can lead to the trainee program, or studio company/second company/ apprentice position.

So, how do you get noticed?

The most important thing to do while at a summer program is learn. Pay close attention to the details.  Even if you aren’t in the top level, showing that you can learn, and you are applying everything everyone is saying shows that you are a smart dancer. No one wants a dumb dancer. Take all of the corrections teachers give you and write them down, so you can remember them, reflect on them, and so on. Take other people’s corrections as well. Most likely it can be applied to you as well.

WORK HARD. WORK SMART! This is a big one as well. During your summer course, go in every group, or at least mark the combination in the back. Show your work ethic. In five weeks, it is hard for a faculty really get to know you. Unlike, your home studio, you have been with your teachers for years… Here, you have five weeks to make a good impression, show your potential and become the best dancer you can be. Working smart is really important as well. Going full out all the time is really important, but exhausting. If you are one of those dancers who goes hard all the time, make sure you are eating properly, and giving your body enough rest. Yes, we all know those intense bunheads who stretch in the dormitory halls during after hours, and that they are constantly fixing their shoes. That is their thing, it might not be your thing.

What to avoid…
Just because modern, jazz, and character aren’t your thing doesn’t mean you don’t try. You still have to push, 100% of the time.

Bad Habits… crossing your arms, giving up after falling out of a turn, letting the stress get to you… all of these things are counter productive to the process but also… It shows a bad attitude. You need to make sure you look attentive and invested without cracking under the stress.
EAT HEALTHY! During a summer program there is a lot of stressers out there, and there is a tendency to stress eat/binge eat sugar. The problem? Super counter productive to what your body really needs during these five intense weeks.

Be Prepared… When and if a school asks you to stay year round, be prepared for the financial costs. A year round program at a pre professional or professional school is costly. For most, these programs are out of state. When asked to stay, it is mid-summer and you have a few short weeks to come up with the financial obligation, relocate your life, transfer schools, and so on. It is a daunting task and you basically have a month to make a life changing, career making choice.  Most students, have to go year round at a pre pro school, and will change year round schools at least once.  Remember, ballet here in the US is not cheap…

Finally, make sure you have fun.

The woman who probably inspired a million girls to be Juliet, Corsaire, and other great VHS we grew up on…

Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner: the TOP TEN BALLET SCHOOLS of 2015

top ten ballet schools
Winner, winner chicken dinner. The list is in. The TOP TEN Ballet Schools of 2015.

There is always a great debate when it comes to rankings. Rankings for anything really are always surrounded by controversy, but we love them. While the list last year reflected the number of graduates from a school in principal jobs in 30 major international companies, this year’s list reflects the power, innovation, and the teacher’s that make these schools. This year we have seen the power of the ballet student. At the ballet competition circuit this year we saw super powerhouse and future stars premier to the world, and we were blown away.

BIG NAMES & BIG SCHOOLS

Harrison Lee took top prize at the Prix , he is from Australia. Gisele Bethea made another strong international competition circuit this year. She is a student in Arizona.  And while these individuals took home top prizes, home schools like School of American Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, the Vaganova School, and POB made surprising debuts for their students.

One of the plus sides of big ballet  competitions, are big ballet schools. Scholarships to the most prestigious schools that have made their place in ballet history.  Unfortunately though, these dancers don’t make a school.  Very rarely does a student start and finish their training at one school, in the US.  Sure, in Europe it is more common because there are state schools that feed into the state supported ballet companies, and opera houses.  So super stars don’t make schools, and shouldn’t be a factor when deciding the best of the best. Now, when looking at a school, you have to ask yourself, if you are in the US, is it a technical school or a finishing school. For example, School of American Ballet is a finishing school… Yes, it is technical, but the majority of their upper level students are from other schools.  Most small studios in the US should be focusing on technique, like learning the basics of turn out, feet, and learning how the body works… This is like CPYB.  CPYB you learn all the basics, but you leave to a bigger school, or professional school to finish out your training, and coaching.  So this was also taken into consideration, which eliminated off a lot of the US schools from last year.

HERE WE GO… the moment you have all been waiting for…

If this was college football, well it isn’t. Haha. This is bigger than college football, this is ballet. Like football there are TEN SCHOOLS that everyone wants to get into. The only thing bigger than the school you get into, is the company you might dance for as an end result. In comparison, these are the Ivies of the ballet world, and you do have to have top marks to get in. Who are we kidding, you have to have everything to get in…

Like the Ivy League list… there are three schools that will always compete for number one in the world. International, and probably the most historical, they are the prestigious Paris Opera Ballet School, the Vaganova School, and the Royal Ballet School. It is hard to say which one of these schools is actually the best, because they are completely different styles, and create very different dancers. Last year these schools took the top.  This year, we have lumped the three into one category, as the SUPER STAR STATE SUPPORTED SCHOOLS.  It really is only fair that the three of them share number one and make room for other schools offering great training, and are more realistic to get into.

  1. Paris Opera Ballet School, Vaganova School, the Royal Ballet School (Upper School).  Historically, the three of them have always ruled ballet, and unfortunately I don’t see that changing anytime soon. But, not everyone is meant to dance there.  Not everyone is a super turned out French girl, or a leggy skinny Russian girl, and very few boys are going to become the power houses that the Royal Ballet School produces. (Remember, huge headliner  names at the Royal Opera are mostly imports from winning huge competitions.) You can’t argue that each of these schools have a very specific style, and produce a very specific look… Regardless if I like the company or school or not…

    The Mikhailovsky Ballet’s Anastasia Soboleva & Victor Lebedev Asaf Messerer’s “Class Concert.” Photo: Stas Levshin
    Honorable Mention 1.5: Every other hardcore Russian school.The Mikhailovsky Ballet’s Anastasia Soboleva & Victor Lebedev Asaf Messerer’s “Class Concert.” Photo: Stas Levshin
  2. THE SCHOOL OF AMERICAN BALLET, founded by George Balanchine, SAB is probably the only school in the US that can even resemble a portion of what a state school has to offer. Sure, the Balanchine aesthetic is super specific, and the dancers are very… well American, but that is what is celebrated. The school produces great artists and the faculty nurtures dancers to become artists at a young age. Something the dance world loves. School of American Ballet is the feeder school to NYCB, which is oddly unique in the US.

    Her voice is a bit much, she is the corps now… So holla for a dolla…. and how did she not know who the faculty of SAB were… did she just wake up one day and was like I am going to audition for this random school in NYC? You can also watch the first season of strictly ballet about SAB life.
  3. THE JOHN CRANKO SCHOOL, is one of the leading ballet schools, associated with one of the most innovated companies in the world. The Cranko school is known for international power house students. A lot of students after a big win, will decide to attend the Cranko School to hone their technique but most importantly developing the artistry needed to work as a dancer. Then they either join the company or move on.  Oh the Cranko school is associated with Stuttgart.
  4. LA ESCUELA NATIONAL DE DANZA, in Havana, Cuba. Controversy.  While we left this school off the list last year, a huge heat came onto us.  So, let us take a look at the school at National Ballet of Cuba… Just because it is an important moment in dance diaspora, doesn’t mean that it is a good school… Ironically, if we are talking about dance diaspora, we should really look at Russian Immigration changing the world’s perception of ballet through the various wars, and conflicts. But, that is neither here nor there, we are here to talk about schools. While major dance companies have Cubans in their companies, the Cuban school is basically intense Russian training, with a focus on turns… and men.  If you look at these high ranked, high profiled ballet Cuban super stars… they are all men.  After seeing National Ballet of Cuba in Los Angeles, I wasn’t impressed by their women… Creating strong technical powerhouses, the school produces more men than women. (Many of you wrote in saying I left them off the list last year because of socialism, pff. And those who said it is the most important diaspora in dance, maybe not so much, but maybe over the past 50 years… )
  5. THE AUSTRALIAN BALLET SCHOOL, our friends down under are definitely pushing their way to the international front.  With some of the best PR campaigns I have ever seen, the Australian Ballet is a reflection of their school. With a new campaign called project assemblé, the Australian Ballet school will soon have a residence for their students. Despite popular belief the Australian Ballet School is not supported by the state, well it is partially supported by the state. You can audition for the school for placement, but beware, it the application alone is $83 USD.
  6. SAN FRANCISCO BALLET SCHOOL, has truly stepped up their game.  With their ranks at the company being filled with some of the most promising ballet dancers of our time, all of these students at least spent two years in the school. San Francisco has always been the West Coast’s center for ballet, but even more so as this season ended. SFB is becoming much more than just a school, but it is becoming a breeding ground for exceptional talent. Rightfully so, since San Francisco Ballet School claims the nation’s oldest professional ballet school. SFB has now rightfully produced a future superstar choreographer, Myles Thatcher who makes his NYCB premier at the Fall2015 Gala. It is more likely for a dancer to go start to finish at SFB than any other school. SFB has turned into a breeding ground for ballet superstars over the past ten years and is causing many students, and competition winners to go there.
  7. NBS, National Ballet of Canada’s School.   NBS is a healthy structured school in which students really are prepared for the real world of ballet.  Additionally last year, we talked about their program that bridges the last year of school and the first few years of professional ballet life.  The school itself has lost some recognition on the international circuit, as they haven’t had a huge international draw lately…. Also in Canada other schools have risen to the occasion allowing more options for Canadians to train at.  Mainly speaking about GOH Academy that produced international power house Alex Wong. (They were on the list last year, but so many of you wanted to know why Royal Winnepeg, and GOH Academy were left off… Frankly put, when it comes to NBS, you just can’t compete with them.)
  8. THE JUILLIARD SCHOOL OF DANCE, for those students who are 18, and haven’t found a company contract, there aren’t very many places to go.  The Juilliard School of Dance is one of a few exceptionally ranked programs. Another is NBS, number 7 on our list.This University offers dancers a B.F.A for 24 exceptional students. Their program is rigorous but their alumni have joined numerous companies both within the US and abroad. I really, really, really want to encourage dancers after 18, to not give up.  There are places to dance, or continue your dance education without feeling like the oldest one in the room. There are various universities and programs that help continue your training and transition into professional life.
  9. THE SUNHWA ARTS HIGH SCHOOL, South Korea is becoming a powerhouse in producing international ballet super stars. So, is it the rice? No. The Sun Hwa Arts High School is the premier school for young people in Korea to attend. Most of these kids are trained to compete on the international level, and then they transfer schools. As mentioned in a previous post, Korean males are required to serve two years to the army, unless they finish first or second at an international competition. Their training is basically Russian training mixed with extreme stretching technique. Much like the Cubans, an integrated Russian technique refined for a specific body type. A lot of the Sun Hwa girls end up at Kirov DC, which is associated with Universal Ballet of Korea. Why are they on the list? Because it is important to recognize that a lot of Russian based schools have created a technique based off of a specific, ethnic body type.  In this case it is a longer but narrow torso. So many girls at the prix finals were from SunHwa.
  10. Royal Danish School of Ballet This school reminds me a lot of School of American Ballet… Obviously not the same technique, they couldn’t be more different… This school though has a very specific technique, and very specific style. They produce crazy jumpers.  Ironically, the company director is from NYCB.  The school is small, according to their website it has roughly 60-70 students ages 6-16 and paid for the by the state.

Ballet Needs to Stop Making Me Mad Late at Night…

#BLOOP …

Carlos Renteria, Redlands Dance Theatre. Photographed by Alexandra Rose, SOCIAL CULTURE
Carlos Renteria, Redlands Dance Theatre. Photographed by Alexandra Rose, SOCIAL CULTURE

Tonight I was reminded why I started my blog…. (http://aballeteducation.com/2014/07/07/firstpost)
Then… as the 2015-2016 season is being announced, once again I am like flabbergasted and irritated with ballet. Here is what is irritating me tonight, at 5 AM. Preface: I am up all night because on October 3rd I will be partnering up with SF FASHION to showcase my new fashion brand MONDEAN.  And tonight all of the sketches had to be finalized (as in fabric choices, colors etc) to be prepped for technicals, and pattern drafting. BTW, if any of you are in Southern California and are a seamstress… contact me please… I am short seamstresses…  So anyways, I am about to go to bed, and I open up my computer and go through my press releases…

First, I would like to congratulate everyone who was promoted… Especially Lauren Lovette, who is now a principal at NYCB. Anthony Huxley was promoted to principal as well, which makes me raise an eyebrow, because of the male soloists at NYCB, I thought Stanley Huxley would be the next to be promoted Principal… I dunno. SFB hired 3 amazeball students, all who finished well at previous YAGPs. Boom. Allynne Noelle, a principal at LA Ballet will be joining Suzanne Farrell for the upcoming season. ABT said farewell to Xiomara Reyes, and Paloma Herrera. We say goodbye to Julie Kent June 20. With three female principals leaving, ABT is bound to announce promotions… and new hires *grin, I’m actually happy about* I wouldn’t be surprised if they offered Maria Kochetkova a full-time contract, because she is like ideal height for Cornejo and Simkin… I don’t know how SFB would feel, but since SFB is full of promising stars… It might be a good thing? Misty Copeland will premier in Romeo and Juliet on June 20 prior to Kent’s farewell, then make her NYC Swan Lake debut June 24…. So, I am thinking her and Stella Abbrera will get promoted. (Stella had a phenom run at Giselle) Natalia Osipova withdrew from her debut as Juliet for ABT which has a star studded juliet cast: Obraztsova, Vishneva, Copeland, Seo, and Kent (retiring). I swear if Sarah Lane is promoted I am boycotting ABT even if ABT is hiring more asians.

We also said farewell to beast Sylvie and one of my favorite ballerinas of all time: Carla Korbes. If you missed the live stream… you missed out on Diamonds Pas De Deux… Serenade was good but I have seen better. Diamonds was flawless…… The only people who should be doing the PDD are: Korbes, who is now retired… If you saw the performance though she slayed the F*ck out of it.  Smirnova who won the Benois for that performance, its magical. If you haven’t seen her do it, they go on tour with it this summer, or just watch via youtube. M. Nunez was pretty interesting at Royal Ballet. I don’t know if the company should be doing Balanchine ballets, but… what eva… Just like Paris Opera should not be doing Serenade… at ALL…. Like ever.

The ballet world was faced with Angel Corrella‘s (I should not even put his name in bold) new tenure at PA Ballet… barf. His statement was awful, his wording was not ideal… and when he means diversify culturally, he means he is going to hire a bunch of latino dancers, when there are plenty of dancers in the states who need work and don’t need visa fees #justsayin . Which was already proven with his new soloist and principal. I am sure everyone in the company is irritated… I’m irritated… Like seriously, go home.

Oh, NYCB just released their new choreography initiative and I am not saying I called it, but I kind of did… Myles Thatcher from SFB will be making his premier at NYCB… Royal Ballet will be staging a new Carmen by Carlos Acosta, and now has a new choreographer program. I should apply for next year. LOL.

Mmmmm people who should have been promoted weren’t. Ballet companies are irritating me, but thats not new.  Tuesday morning was the first company class for Redlands Dance Theatre, my ballet company. The studios were hot and the mood was fun, but everyone danced really hard, very musical, and gorgeous. It was super nice.  I totally forgot to take a picture, which upsets me, but oh well. #mybad

What else? I’m exhausted, and have photo shoots in a couple hours for SOCIAL CULTURE, so I am probably not going to sleep, this will be day 4 of being awake and only sleeping for an hour here and there. I could just be super moody because I have quit smoking. Mmmm that is all ballet world… So irritated.

Cross Train: Yoga & Save.

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Don’t forget… no one will hire a dancer who isn’t flexible. Bikram yoga is a great cross training aspect for ballet dancers. If you aren’t familiar with it, it is basically heat yoga. Get gumby real quick.

Every Fifth Has A Story

fifth position a ballet education

Tonight, I was cleaning out a bunch of stuff at work, and then stumbled across a memory card that was never uploaded.  If you don’t know about shooting medium format, here is a little info.  Medium formats create huge files, and so it is always best to shoot tethered.  Because I work in fashion, we only shoot tethered to see the film instantly, find flaws, and correct things… Unless, we are shooting on a highly produced editorial, and outdoors. But, whenever you shoot medium format, you always want to have a huge SD card in the body of the camera, just in case.  Once the camera clicks the image is usually captured right away to the computer, and on rare instances nothing shows up… Usually the camera will catch it on the SD card. So, I put this SD card into my reader and the photo above was on it. I instantly smiled.  This photo was taken by Alexandra Rose of Vogue Images (click the link to visit her work). The photo is of a former student of mine, Jacquelyn Bernard.

When I met this student, she was at a small ballet studio in SoCal. Here, at this studio, the owner told me this girl had no talent, no feet, no turn out, no flexibility and not worth my time.  After watching her dance the first time, I thought to myself… no there is something there… just this studio teaches horrible technique, and why on earth would you put a girl like that in Gaynors…. So, after long talks with her and her mom, I decided I would turn her into a dancer. Firs thing was to stretch her out. No, the first thing was to take her out of the gaynors and put her into Freed Classics, then stretch her out. At the time I met her she didn’t even have her splits… So, after working with her on Monday nights… Her feet finally gave into me… And from biscuits these came. Then turn out came. Her legs became hyper extended and next thing you know it she is at a summer program. Now, she is a college student studying dance and about to have her first essay published about dance.  So proud of her.
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This really goes to show how important it is to find good teachers. Because a good teacher can take you the distance.  For a girl who had nothing, she turned it around and now has everything.

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Ballet & Relationships

Alina Cojocaru + Roberto Bolle in, Romeo &  Juliet  (Wearing her Gayners....) I don't know who the photo cred goes to but it was on tumblr via ballet-is-our-way-out.

Alina Cojocaru + Roberto Bolle in, Romeo & Juliet
(Wearing her Gayners….) I don’t know who the photo cred goes to but it was on tumblr via ballet-is-our-way-out.

In the never ending epic journey of dating, I have decided that people are like ballet techniques.  This post obviously has nothing to do with actual ballet, but I can’t sleep, and it is on my mind. So, we are now going to go through a history of my dating life, explained through ballet vocabulary. Excuse the lack of accents, I don’t want to open up my French keyboard for this post! THIS IS NOT A VOCAB lesson.

My first love was barre. We will call him Rogelio. Relationships that are like barre, well they are home.  Cliche? Maybe. But barre is home, and it is safe. It is where we learn the basics, get stronger, learn the most, and are able to focus on minute details on life.  Barre starts with plies, super relaxing, comfortable, and you open up.  Tendus become exciting, spicy accent ins, dinners (degages) out, romantic fondus, luxurious vacations in ron de jambs, and so on.  Derek was definitely barre, so supportive, so understanding, so loving, and always there. Why did Derek and I not work out? I wanted to explore outside of ballet, and he didn’t want to be barre anymore.  So, we went our separate ways and are still friends.

My second serious relationship… we will call him… Sebastien, he was like pirouettes. When their on, it feels so good, but it’s so easy to be off, and if you exhaust yourself trying they don’t happen.  The idea of twenty pirouettes seems awesome, or 32 fouettes, but… reality… they are just build for stamina. It was difficult with him, so that didn’t last, but you know the type of relationships or guy I am talking about.

After those two relationships, I then had a brief moment with… let’s call him Ernie, and he was totally adagio. Adagio relationships are slow, they build, basic but complex, you find your way through it with solid technique. That foundation gives you the freedom to let go and explore the music and the emotion. He was definitely super artsy. It was dreamy, it was lovely, it was romantic, and intense. The best moment was after a long promenade in attitude, and right when you are about to plie into elonge, you take a big breath and let go into a pure line. It was good stuff. Just not my cup of tea. I lacked the patience to figure out his complexities.

And then there was that moment of Fernando… He was definitely the mirror. The mirror that haunts you.  The idea of perfection from afar, but the reminder of how far from perfection you are. The negative remarks, the low blows, the passive aggressive behaviors. It was like the phantom relationship. The idea was good, but it is only a reflection, nothing real, nothing solid. It ovio didn’t last long.

Then there was Jonathan, definitely a waltz. It was pleasant, fun and frilly. Mostly going in circles, but nice to do. I think maybe I went around like 3 times, and then was like no thanks. I need something a tad bit more serious.

Then there was Edgar, and that relationship was like petite allegro– quick, sharp, short, direct, and to the point.

Oh, and I had a first date with a grand allegro, Francisco, and that was only a first date. I learned very fast that relationships that are large, expansive, travel fast, and fly at you aren’t my cup of tea either. Like on the first date calling you babe. -___-

I’ve tried dating younger guys, but they are like chaines, like going in circles, kind of makes you dizzy, and don’t travel very far… Then you find a younger one who seems more mature, and they are like piques and you think you are going some where but it really just moving in a circle. Then you find a younger guy who seems like he is put together but that is like a soutanou and is misleading and you land directly where you started just with the other foot in front.

Ughz, definitely avoid the men who are double tours… those flashy guys who want to buy you. No one care that you took me to Standard for dinner… Like no one. I would have been happy at in and out. Definitely, avoid men who are like pointe work, expecting to you to be on your game, on your box, foot winged and all that… They have too high of expectations—I’ve dated perfectionists like arabesques, but since I am a balanchine fan… we obviously went our separate ways.

And alas I am single. Haha. And yes, I really only date latinos. And yes this 800 word post happened… I’m slightly shamed.