Benois de la Danse Awards (2019)

Benois de la Danse Awards (2019)

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
It is that time of year again, where the best of the best in the ballet industry gather to celebrate the 2018-2019 season and honor those who made an impact on audiences, critics and the jury.

On May 21, the best of the best will be honored in a showstopping performance in Russia. This night is the prestigious Benois de la Danse Awards. The jury who will decide the results include: Juri Grigorovich, Dirk Badenhorst, Ted Brandsen, Svetlana Zakharova, Ana Laguna, Angès Letestu, Vladimir Malakhov, and Rachel Moore. This year could be a big year for Septime Webre and Kansas City Ballet, as the production of The Wizard of Oz has been nominated numerous times.

(photo courtesy of Kansas City Ballet’s press release of their new Production)

The Lifetime Achievement Award will honor Jiri Kylian. The Russian-Italian Prize Benois-Massine Award will go to Anna Laudere.

Nominees for the best choreographer are:

Juanjo Arques, for Ignite, Kate Whitley. Birmingham Royal Ballet.
Septime Webre, for The Wizard of Oz, Matthew Pierce, Kansas City Ballet.
Manuel Legris, for Sylvia, Leo Delibers, for Vienna State Ballet.
Justin Peck for Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, music by M83 for the San Francisco Ballet.
Fredrik Benke Rydman for Duet with an Industrial Robot, muisic by Johan Lilje Dal, Karl Johan Rasmusson, for Stockholm City Theatre.
Christian Spuck, for Winterreise, music by Hans Zender and Franz Schubert for the Zurich Ballet.

Best Female Dance Performance Nominees Include:

Amandine Albisson, as Marguerite Gautier in La Dame Aux Camelias, music by Chopin and Choreography by Neumeier for the Paris Opera Ballet.
Ashley Bouder, as Swanhilda, in Coppelia, music by Delibes, Choreography by George Balanchine for the New York City Ballet.
Elisa Carrillo Cabrera, as Juliet, in Romeo and Juliet, music by Prokofiev, and choreography by Duato for the State Ballet of Berlin.
Maia Makhateli, for Marguerite Gautier, in La Dame aux Camelias, music by Chopin, Choreographed by Neumeier, for the Dutch National Ballet.
Yuan Yuan Tan, for duet Take a Deep Breath, Bound to, music by Henson, choreographed by Wheeldon for the San Francisco Ballet.
Kaho Yanagisawa, Solo Part in Artifact Suite, music by Crossman-Hecht and Bach, choreographed by Forsythe at the Royal Swedish Ballet.

Best Male Dance Performance Nominees are:

Audric Bezard, as Armand Duval in La Dame Aux Camelias, music by Chopin, choreography by Neumeier for the Paris Opera Ballet.
Daniel Camargo is nominated for both his performace as Armand Duval in Lady of the Camelias and as Basilio in Don Quixotte, music by Minkus, Choreography by A Ratmansky afer Petipa at the Dutch National Ballet.
Viacheslav Lopatin, in the Faun, music by Debussy, and Sawhney, choreography by Cherkaoui for Bolshoi Ballet.
Vadim Muntagirov for Prince Siegfried in the Swan Lake. Music by Tchaikovsky, choreography by Liam Scarlett for the Royal Ballet.
Andile Ndlovu for his role as Mercrutio in Romeo and Juliet at the Washington Ballet. Music by Prokofiev, choreography by John Cranko.
Abel Rojo for Carying with My Own Floor, music by E Satie. Choreography by A. Rojo for the Malpaso Company.
Daniil Simkin for his role as the Harlequin, in ABT’s new version of Harlequinade. Music by Drigo, choreography by Ratmansky after Petipa.

Composers Nominated for this year’s award are:
Matthew Pierce for the Wizard of Oz, choreography by Septime Weber (also nominated).
Kate Whitley for Ignite. Choreography by Juanjo Aques (also nominated) for the Birmingham Royal Ballet.

Designers Nominated for Costumes are:

Jerome Kaplan for Staats Berlin’s La Bayadere.
John Macfarlane for Royal Ballet’s Swan Lake.
Robert Perdziola for ABT’s Harlequinade.
Michael Raiford and Liz Vandal for the Wizard of Oz.

Below is the star studded performance schedule.

21 MAY 2019. P R O G R A M M E

PART I

M. Pierce – Benois-2019 nominee
Excerpt from THE WIZARD OF OZ
Choreography by S.WEBRE – Benois-2019 nominee
soloists of theKansas City Ballet
LILIANA HAGERMAN
JEREMY HANSON
LAMIN DOS SANTOS
soloist of Colorado Ballet
CHRISTOPHOR MOULTON
soloist of Royal Winnipeg Ballet
STEPHAN AZULAY
Russian premiere

K.Whitley – Benois-2019 nominee.
Excerpt from IGNITE
Choreography by J.ARQUÉS–Benois-2019 nominee
soloists of Dutch National Ballet
ANNA TSYGANKOVA
YOUNG GUY CHOI
Piano – KATE WHITLEY
Russian premiere

THE MASSAGE
to the music by P.Tchaikovsky
Choreography by F.BENKE RYDMAN –Benois 2019 nominee
soloists of House of Shapes
ELLEN LINDBLAD
DANIEL KOIVUNEN
World premiere

Excerpt from WINTERREISE
to the music by F.Schubert/H.Zender
Choreography by CH.SPUCK – Benois-2019 nominee
soloists of the Zurich Ballet
ELENA VOSTROTINA
COHEN AITCHISON-DUGAS
DOMINIK SLAVKOVSKY
Moscow premiere

L.Delibes. Excerpts from SYLVIA
Choreography by M.LEGRIS – laureate of Benois de la Danse, nominee of 2019, after LUIS MÉRANTE
soloists of the Vienna State Ballet
NIKISHA FOGO
DENIS CHEREVICHKO – nominee of Benois de la Danse

CARRING MY OWN STAGE
To the music by E.Satie
Choreography by A. ROJO
soloist of Malpaso Company
ABEL ROJO – Benois-2019 nominee
Piano – VALERIA KACHUROVSKAYA
Russian premiere

Duet from the second act of LADY WITH THE CAMELLIAS
To the music by F.Chopin
Choreography by J.NEUMEIER– Benois de la Danse laureate
soloists of Dutch National Ballet 
MAIA MAKHATELI– Benois-2019 nominee
JAMES STOUT

L.Delibes. Pas de deux from COPPÉLIA 
Choreography by G.BALANCHINE and A.DANILOVA after M.PETIPA
©The George Balanchine Trust
soloist of the New York City Ballet
ASHLEY BOUDER
soloist of the Passific North-West Ballet
SETH ORZA 

PART II

S.Prokofiev.Duet from ROMEO AND JULIET
Choreography by N. DUATO – laureate of Benois de la Danse, 
soloist of State Ballet Berlin
ELISA CARRILLO CABRERA -Benois – 2019 nominee
soloist of Mikhailovsky Theatre Ballet
IVAN ZAYTSEV

Excerpt from ARTIFACT-SUITE
To the music by I.S.Bach
Choreography, costumes and light concept by W. FORSYTHE– laureate of Benois de la Danse, 
soloists of the Royal Swedish Ballet
KAHO YANAGISAWA – Benois-2019 nominee
JONATAN DAVIDSSON

I.Demutsky– laureate of Benois de la Danse
THE LETTRE from NUREYEV
Choreography by Y.POSSOKHOV – laureate of Benois de la Danse
soloist of the Bolshoi Theatre of Russia
VIATCHESLAV LOPATIN – Benois-2019 nominee

H. Løvenskiold. Pas de deuxfrom LA SYLPHIDE
Choreography by A.BOURNONVILLE
soloists of The Washington Ballet
MAKI ONUKI
ANDILE NDLOVU – Benois-2019 nominee

Duet from the third act of LADY WITH THE CAMELLIAS
To the music by F.Chopin
Choreography by J.NEUMEIER – laureate of Benois de la Danse
soloists of the Paris Opera Ballet
AMANDINE ALBISSON – Benois-2019 nominee 
AUDRIC BEZARD – Benois-2019 nominee

THE OTHER YOU
To the music by L.van Beethoven 
Choreography by C.PITE – laureate of Benois de ls Danse
soloists of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago
MICHAEL GROSS
ANDREW MURDOCK
Russian premiere

ADAGIETTO, 4TH MOVEMENT from FIFTH SYMPHONYOF GUSTAV MAHLER
Choreography, costumes, light concept by J.NEUMEIER – laureate of Benois de la Danse
soloists of the Hamburg Ballet
ANNA LAUDERE– laureate of Benois–Massine Prize
EDVIN REVAZOV

K.Henson. TAKE A DEEP BREATH
Choreography by CH.WHEELDON
soloists of San Francisco Ballet
YUAN YUAN TAN – Benois-2019 nominee
CARLO DI LANNO 
Moscow premiere

L.Minkus. Pas de deux from DON QUIXOTE
Choreography by A.GORSKY
soloist of the Stuttgart State Ball
ELISA BADENES
DANIEL CAMARGO – Benois -2019 nominee

Masters of the ceremony
KSENIA RAPPOPORT
ANDREY ANDREEV

Direction of the concert
ANDREY MELANYIN

Author of the text
ALEXANDER KOLESNIKOV

Stage-designer
SERGEY TIMONIN 

Light Designer
SERGEY SHEVCHENKO
Light designer assistant – ALEXANDER ROMANOV

Sound
ANDREY VOLKOV

Stage operator
ROMAN SMIRNOV

Stage managers
ANDREY MELANIN, VLADIMIR SCHERBAKOV, IRINA ZIBROVA, MIKHAIL MINEEV

Director of the technical staff 
IGOR SUVOROV

Chairman of the BENOIS DE LA DANSE Program
YURI GRIGOROVICH

President of the Board 
REGINA NIKIFOROVA

Artistic Director
NINA KUDRIAVTSEVA-LOORY

Official photographer 
MIKHAIL LOGVINOV

Video-projections
SERGEY BORISOV

Project coordinator
OLGA GORCHAKOVA

Financial service OOO Auditor Firm “KEMENOV”
ALEXEY NIKITIN

Administrator
VALENTINA DMITRENKO

Press Office
OLGA KULIKOVA

Internet-projects’ manager
NATALIA PUTICHEVA

Group of interpreters’ coordinator
MARIA PODGORNOVA

Printing Products
PUBLISHING HOUSE TEATRALIS

Executive Producer
TATIANA SIDOROVA

David King

David King

The author of a Ballet Education www.DavidJWKing.com

Leave a Replay

Advertisements

The Great Men of Ballet: Part 1

Some men in ballet will be immortalized for their achievements and the genius that they created. In this first set of illustrations, I decided to capture some of the great men who have contributed to the New York City Ballet. As I illustrated these, I listened to the music that inspired them, and thought, Peter Martins should have been the third in this series, but I am just not fond of him, what he has done in his personal life and not a fan of his choreography. So, I focused on the men of New York City Ballet who I do admire: George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins and Justin Peck.

George Balanchine
1904-1983
Co-Founder of the School of American Ballet and New York City Ballet

Jerome “Jerry” Robbins
1918-1998
American Dance Master

Justin Peck
1987- 
American Dance Master
Resident Choreographer

Prints Available on Redbubble. You can order the prints, posters, metallic prints, or fine art frames. You can click here to purchase

For the George Balanchine prints and more >> Click Here.
For the Jerome Robbins prints and more >> Click Here.
For the Justin Peck prints and more >> Click Here.

The Sleeping Beauty Fairy Variations

The Sleeping Beauty Fairy Variations

Have you ever noticed that the first variations you usually learn are all from 1890 Petipa classic: The Sleeping Beauty? You might think they are lame or boring, but these six variations are the key to classical ballet. Sleeping Beauty is by definition the epitome and pinnacle of Classical Ballet. The ballet itself has no affectations and minimal stylistic points from the Romantic Ballet Era. These six variations showcase everything Classical Ballet represents: constraint, placement, beauty, proportion, turnout, legs, feet, musicality and artistry that evokes the essence of ballet.

As promised, I am going to help you find the right variation for you, but first…

Before you even start thinking about picking a variation to work on you should ask yourself, “Have I mastered these variations?” If the answer is no, don’t worry. These variations are going to get your technique stronger, your footwork cleaner, they allow you to find your musicality and phrasing, and have a better understanding of Classical Ballet. For the History of these variations, check out the digital: A Ballet Education’s Guide To Variations.

The first variation is all about the presentation of the foot and the control of turnout. Honestly, this shouldn’t be called candide or the Fairy of the Crystal Fountain. It should be called present your heel from your inner thigh. What is nice about this variation is that it teaches pique arabesque and attitude with both a pas de cheval and a brush, and it also teaches fouetté en dedans from arabesque to effacé and plié relevé arabesque.

Heloise Bourdon of the Paris Opera Ballet in Rudolph Nureyev’s Production of the Sleeping Beauty.

NOTES ON FAIRY VARIATION 1

In the first diagonal moving downstage right, make sure you keep all of your croisé lines crossed and turned out. Sometimes we are so focused on the height of the leg, that the actual body line and position become a little sloppy. Keep the heel presented at all times. e.Remember: In croisé devant, you want to see that heel coming over the top of the line. Keep the port de bras moving and relaxed, let the arms float with the music, but make sure the end in a position on the count. Showing a clean line on the count is essential. End the pass with a juicy plié that resists the floor. Don’t just plop down.

In the second pass of the variation moving across the stage, make sure you get the heel as far forward as possible when presenting the foot from the inner thigh. Make sure to keep the thighs tightly crossed in bourrés with BOTH heels forward. Hold that rotation!

In the next phrase of variation, the focus is going en dedans but maintaining the turnout. As each staging is different, I am just going to reference the video above. Notice that from arabesque the heel has to come forward as the knee stays behind, the inner thigh rotates forward through passé into the next step. The port de bras are lovely, but the hand should not be stroking or brushing the arm. It should be extremely delicate with beautifully shaped fingers like you are petting a baby, or wearing expensive jewelry.

In the final pass of the variation, death comes at you with full force. Moving from effacé to effacé while rolling up and down on pointe and as the leg/hip rotation fouettés en dedans… girl bye. The hardest part about that step isn’t even the pointe work, well the pointe work is extremely hard but can be made easier by making sure the entire weight of the upper body is in front of the hips and leg so that the fouetté can come easily, and the femur head can relax into the hip socket. Note how forward the inner thigh has to wrap, and then wrap back even more as you tombé.

Finally, when ending, make sure the heels are completely forward showing the understanding of the footwork, understanding of the turnout, and understanding of the delicate musicality.

If the first variation taught us the quality of delicate, the second variation, the Carelessness Fairy, or the Fairy of Flowing Wheat. teaches us how to move with precision and vigor. It teach us us pique passé, a very large and powerful jeté, attitude front, how to move backwards and forwards, and the start of turns.

Yulia Kasenkova in Sergei Vikharev’s production of the Sleeping Beauty for Mariinsky.

NOTES ON FAIRY VARIATION 2

Sometimes this variation has two women dancing (Paris Opera), but most of the time it is done as a solo variation. I think one of the hardest things in this variation is to maintain the turnout and rib placement while move this fast. I think because of the transitions and because of the bending of the upper body, most young dancers have a tendency to splay the ribs to get a better attitude devant line.

The opening jeté, the heels must stay forward. The supporting leg, or the leg that pushes off, has to be fully turned out. Make sure as you brush the working leg, the leg is slightly in front of your hips. Finally, you have to hold the second position in the air for a brief second. Travel big!

In the next pass of the variation make sure you accent the rond de jambe en l’air out, and keep the supporting leg as straight and scooped as possible. Next are the chassés back. Make sure the foot is still slightly shaped to be aesthetically more pleasing. Keep the weight forward and on more on the front foot so that the back foot can shape better.

In the final pass, you have to quickly do step-overs, or lame ducks. Luckily they are only half turns! The hard part is getting the turnout on both legs to fire quickly simultaneously. Remember, to keep pressing the turnout from the hips as your turn and step. Make sure each step the heel is beautifully presented.

Oh, the Fairy of Scattered Breadcrumbs or the Fairy of the Woodland Glades.. the list goes on and on for this one. This is a good one. This variation teaches us how to pas de couru and travel, how to softly move through the steps, how to developpé arabesque and how to be generous with our artistry.

Royal Ballet’s Fumi Kaneko

NOTES ON FAIRY VARIATION 3

Like walking delicately on glass through attitude devant, the first pass in this variation gives us a since of strength in the legs. Doing a plié en pointe without rolling or sickling is crucial. The musicality is so precise, and the legwork reflects the music while the port de bras reflects the calm smooth melody. Turnout! Turnout! Turnout! Don’t sit in your hips as you plié. Don’t be afraid to bend a little further than you actually think you should.

The next pass involves hopping backwards onto pointe. Again, the legs are very reflective of the individual notes while the arms really are generous and light.

This sets us up for the next section or pass involving two hops on pointe in attitude front, followed by a third sustaining the balance on pointe while doing a developpé arabesque. It isn’t easy at all. The pointe work has to be very obvious in the difference of slightly ginched foot and a fully pointed foot on pointe when balanced. This is a mature and subtle difference in a dancer’s ability to articulate the foot on pointe in different positions.

After this painstakingly long process the most quick and fluttering pas de couru happen. Again the genius of Tchiakovsky and Petipa shine: as the feet move rapidly with the notes and the upper body stays calm and the articulation of the port de bras is effortless.Then guess what happens. You repeat the previous section to the other side! Again, turnout is everything, and as the variation comes to an end, you don’t want to show you are tired, or that your feet are cramping. There are different ways to end this variation, in the video above she ends in a very nicely crossed attitude front en face. Personally, I don’t think that is flattering for most dancers so I would go croisé slightly. Actually, when I stage this variation I have the dancer end in arabesque and try to balance for a good two counts after the music has ended.

Sometimes I feel like we overlook this variation. I actually think it is rather difficult as one must run and travel on pointe. Not to mention that the hand work is incredibly difficult. It is really easy to look like a crazy spazz of a mess while performing this variation. Angelica Generosa ferociously performed this variation this season for Pacific Northwest Ballet‘s production. And truthfully it is probably the best I have ever seen it done.

NOTES ON FAIRY VARIATION 4

The fairy of song or voice, or whatever you want to call it. Mostly it is nicknamed Canary Fairy. I think this variation really tests your turnout and whether or not you have mastered it. First off running on pointe is never easy, yet alone to be turned out and to travel the entire stage. The posture of the run is really important, as you have to be extremely pulled up and slightly inclined. The hands and fingers move ridiculously fast as if you were playing an instrument and all of the notes are flooding from your hands.

When running on pointe in the first diagonal, a lot of young dancers forget to hold the turnout. Remember each run is either in effacé or croisé so the full presentation of the heel must happen. At the end of the running diagonal you have double rond de jambe, in which the accent is out. So if you are ferocious, you would stop and hold the accent out for a split count.

In the bourrées back make sure the foot is fully pointed and shaped in each coupé.The next step varies by staging, but in the version below her couru en avant travel turned out opposed to towards the end when going moving en arriere it is executed in sixth position on pointe.

 

If this first of the Fairy Variations taught us poise and speed, then Fairy 5, most commonly known as the Finger Fairy, teaches us style and power. This variation, because of the length and musicality has a very wide range of stagings. While some end the variation sauté basque, others will end the variation with step over turns, and others will add multiple pique turns. Some have a difficult jeté from a chaîné, while other variations have very fast pas de bourrée. Whatever staging you use, there are some signature style points to note below.

Sabrina Mellum of the Paris Opera in the very classical staging version of the variation.

Milena Sidorova from Dutch National (Het) in a more stylized version of the variation.

NOTES ON FAIRY VARIATION 5

While the other variations enter with an ease and elegance, this variation opens with power and style. Whether you do the opening with runs or the most turned out emboîtés of your life, this variation must be executive with a ridiculous amount of energy. From the tension in the arms to the directness and literal energy to the end of the fingertips. The musicality is n the opening steps is very direct, there is not a lot of room for interpretation. It is what it is. It is precise, cutting and most of all exact. Crossing the attitude front is super important as it creates a better line on most dancers.

The next section you either run on pointe or pas de chat en pointe, either way, you need to get your butt into the air and travel like a crazy person. The sous-sus traveling back should equally scoop, and equally hold the turnout.The next section varies on staging, I personally like the turns into the grand jeté, most because I don’t like doing the turning hops en pointe. I personally think it looks clumsy, and less grand. This is the part in the variation most people start to die. The next section is a small developpé at 45°. Make sure that both heels are spiraling forward and presenting the most beautiful turnout.

Finally, in the last section each dancer or choreographer will choose between jumps or turns. Depending on what suits you best, I am indifferent to what a dancer might choose. Personally, I think the sauté basque is always stunning, as I think the step gets a reputation to be a masculine step. I also just think it is more impressive than a stepover, and I think the quick piqués look wild and crazy.

With the exception of Nureyev’s version, most every other version refers to this illustrious musical composition as the music for the Lilac Fairy. She is queen of the fairies and probably the most sought after role after Aurora. Usually assigned to a principal dancer, this variation sets up every ballerina to become a principal dancer.

Maria Iliushkina premiered as the LIlac Fairy this past season for Mariinsky. She is another up and coming star at the former Kirov.

Sanguen Leea principal at Dresden SemperOper in Aaron S. Watkin’s version of the sleeping beauty.

NOTES ON FAIRY VARIATION 6

Here is why Lilac Fairy sets you up to become a dancer. The music is so dance able that the interpretation of the music and the steps is unique to each dancer. Additionally, this role demands a lot of acting is is seen in all three acts. From the way the dancer must walk onto the stage and even bow, you have to command a certain sense of presence and authority, while maintaining the ethereal qualities of a fairy.

In the opening of the variation, be generous with the head and preparation.  It is the only fairy that has that principal start. Most of the previous variations do not have preparation music, and if they do, they prepare towards and facing baby Aurora and not the audience. The first pass of the variation includes some crazy developpé and en dedan ronds. By now you should have mastered the turnout from back to front, especially if you drilled that first fairy variation. In the contretemps make sure your heels are forward and you are turned out from your thighs. Present the foot  with fully stretched leg and reach into a massively placed arabesque, don’t whack it.

In the second pass you have piques traveling back in attitude, arabesque and turning. The control of the turnout is crucial, the placement of the hips over the foot is crucial, and the upper body placed in an place that anticipates the actual position you are wanting is crucial. The fluidity comes from the strength behind a dancer’s technique. The grace comes from the musicality, and the comfort and control comes from the port de bras.

The next pass is quite short that involves musicality and port de bras traveling to stage left.

The next pass teaches us how to do sissone fermé with arms in first arabesque and allongé and pirouettes from fifth position. Don’t double prep your jump, keep the heels firmly pressed into the floor. This way as you come off the floor the heel is present fully in the air. Catch the landing and control the heels slowly to the floor. Don’t just plop down. Some dancers will make the jump massive, while others will make it small and quick depending on the tempo. Again, the phrasing of the music is really up to the director, or the dancer. Personally, as much as I care about the jump and the turn, I most care about the port de bras. The pirouette…. For all of you comp dancers out there: STOP WINDING UP YOUR PIROUETTE FROM FIFTH!!! I can not stress this enough. It drives me crazy in general. If you are doing pirouettes from fifth you don’t need to wind up, and frankly if you aren’t doing more than three pirouettes you don’t need to open the working side’s arm. Pirouettes shouldn’t look like effort. They should float on top of the supporting leg, and be so lifted that your upper body looks detached from your hips. They should be full of air and whimsy. They shouldn’t look like you are are winding up a pitch for the world series. Don’t turn in the supporting leg either. Actually… just look at my notes on pirouettes here.

 Finally the variation ends with the presentation of attitude front, usually an assemblé or jump of choice, and an arabesque.

Thanks again for reading! I hope this helps you!

Like this article?

Share on facebook
Share on Facebook
Share on twitter
Share on Twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on Linkdin
Share on pinterest
Share on Pinterest

Leave a comment

ISSUE 15

A BALLET EDUCATION
ISSUE 15

ISSUE 15

Issue 15 features Catherine Lewellen, the director of Elite Classical Coaching. The cover and editorial spread of this issue was photographed by JoLee Photography. This amazing issue showcases the amazing talent of Elite Classical Coaching and a look at social media in ballet.

Read It On Joo Mag

IN THIS ISSUE

David King

Founder & Editor-in-Chief

JoLee Photography

Cover Photographer

Ashley Baker

Contributing Editor & photographer

Winners of the YAGP 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photos courtesy of VAM PRODUCTIONS

Turning in to find your TURNOUT

Turning In to Find Your Turnout 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t let the supporting knee give .

Don’t roll on the supporting foot.

Don’t put weight into the working leg.

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

 

Check Out Lauryn’s Tutorial on Audition Make Up

Off With Their Heads…

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

new york city ballet sex scandal.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NYCB scandal


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

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


 

What does it take to be a Ballerina?

Ballet is hard, like really hard. The overwhelming stories and information out there is daunting. As parents you only want what is best for your kid, as student your heart is full of passion and desire, as a teacher you just want to be the best mentor possible. Questions like, “What school to go to?” or “Where am I going to dance?” or “Should I compete at the YAGP?” are all questions that are out there. There are arguments on both sides to every question, and important questions like, “How many hours should my student be dancing?” or “What school is best suited for my child?” or “How much should I be posting on social media?”

What does it take to be a ballerina
Behind the Scenes of Issue 11 // Photographed by Me.

So what does it take to be a ballerina in today’s world?

If you asked me five years ago my answer would have sounded something like this, “You need all the right circumstances, but most importantly you need to work hard every day.” It would have been full of hope and inspiration. I would have said, “If you want to be a ballet dancer, and you are willing to put in the hard work, you will find a place to dance.”

But, this isn’t five years ago. This is now, and now more than ever, jobs in ballet are even more scarce and the world is now smaller than ever. And now, my answer might be jaded. But it is time to be honest and truthful. Watching dancers get placed into companies over the past few years, and watching dancers struggle to find work is even more heartbreaking.

To be a dancer in this day in age, the most important thing is you need to have the RIGHT training. Meaning, you have to find a school that is capable of placing you into a company. Before, schools would feed you into schools attached to companies. Now, it is more important to find strong training at a young age, and work hard inside of these schools. Schools that care not just about your technique, but who you become as a person. I don’t think that kids should be going away so young, unless their families are 100% positive their kid is prepared to be a good person. You have to be technically efficient at such a young age now. At thirteen a double pirouette on pointe isn’t good enough anymore. A good school will be able to call up a company or school and be able to get you placed. A good school will teach you proper modified Russian Technique. Unfortunately, Balanchine schools just are not cutting it anymore in the global market. Finally, your coaches need to be able to teach all pedagogies and different approaches. Every student is different and every student will turn differently, jump differently and have a different needs in the studio. (Click here for what makes a good teacher)

You need to have the right body type and proportions. With the influx of dancers out there, you need to have the right body proportions and body type. Proportions in the 9-head range, toned muscle building, and more importantly: long lean muscle building. You need to be naturally thin, and naturally elongated. Your body has to be primed for ballet. There are so many dancers out there, that body type and body proportions are becoming a priority. This isn’t just tall or short- it is about everything. Making sure that your body is the whole package. Bodies that are primed in ballet just naturally progress faster. (read more about body types) More importantly, these body types are becoming more and more common.

You need to have the right kind of facility; hips that are open, feet that point, knees that stretch, backs that are hypermobile.

Your family has to have the right financial circumstances. Ballet is expensive. And until you are ready to go to a tier one school on a full scholarship, you will be paying a very pretty penny. You will be paying for private lessons, Gyro, PT, Cryo, Pilates, Acupuncture, Dietary Restrictions. This also just doesn’t mean throw money at people. As parents you have to do your homework as well, and you have to understand what you are getting yourself into and what is required of your child.

Now, to add to all of that, you have to be musical and an artist. You have to be able to hear the music, feel the ballet, and develop a character. You also have to be able to perform. Perform in the studio and on stage.

Finally, you have to be smart, hardworking and dedicated. Loving ballet isn’t enough.You have to be hardworking, and put 100% into every class, and no matter how hard you work, you can never give up. Tenacity is key. Focus is crucial. Attention to details, the ability to blend into the corps de ballet when needed, and stand out as soloist when asked. You have to have a thick skin, because what people are going to tell you is going to be severe. Other dancers might try to knock you down because they are jealous. Teachers will push you to the breaking point, and not every director is going to like you, or think that you will fit into their school or company.

ballet is hard

But what is the payoff? For some, ballet teaches discipline and structure. Most who study ballet go onto great things because of what you learn in ballet. For some, ballet facilitates them into college. Ballet can open many scholarships and your education can be paid for. For me, it paid for Grad School.  College can lead to producing, executive positions in a ballet company, PR and Marketing and many other things. For some, ballet will become a tool for choreography. And for those who are lucky enough, ballet will lead to a job that actually pays the bills. And for an even luckier few, they will become principal dancers at companies and become a face that inspires the next generation. But it just doesn’t end there. Ballet leads to amazing things- the appreciation for music, for classical arts, and more. It exposes you to different ethnicities, different cultures, different ideas. It gives you discipline, dedication and the ability to find inspiration in monotony.

YAGP COVER 11copy copy
ISSUE 11 >> Read more by clicking above.

Finally, as hard as ballet is, it is the most wonderful thing. It is the combination of music, movement, human emotions, storytelling, fashion design and art coming together to create something that will only exist in that moment. So, as hard as it is to digest, the idea that you might not have what it takes to make it into a ballet company, don’t give up on the art. It is okay to do ballet recreationally, or train seriously, but not have a career. It really does bring the best of art together. It is something that we all should strive for. The essence of the ballet… not the politics of it.


A BALLET EDUCATION SPONSORS & ADVERTISERSrubiawear

 

Celebrating 4 Years!

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

IMG_2109

Four years ago, I never thought that I would be a blogger. I thought I was going to have my career in fashion and teach ballet on the side for fun. In fact, I didn’t want this life at all. After my ballet career ended, I wanted nothing to do with it. Unfortunately, I lost my father, and my world didn’t make sense. But, ballet restores the order of the universe. It is one of the only thing reliable things in the world. You start with left hand at the barre, and do pliés, tendus, and so on.

Now four years later, I am about to finish issue 12 of the magazine, and start the third year. My book, that has taken me two years to write is done, and I am teaching all over the world and have started taking photos of beautiful dancers. So this is my thank you to all of you. Without you, my readers, and my supporters none of this would be possible, so thank you. Truly.

ATLANTA BALLET

international city school of ballet

 

Notes on The Fairy Doll

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

 

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:

A Ballet Education Scholarship

A Ballet Education has committed/pledged to raise $27,000 dollars in scholarship funds for various organizations including the YAGP Korea, Burbank Dance Academy, the Cirio Collective & helping support kids with the financial aid to attend Summer Intensives and the YAGP. This crowdfunding initiative is to help support the art form that I love with all my heart. This year has been a devastating year for many, as ballet companies and schools are losing money and not giving out as many scholarships as usual. The costs of ballet are skyrocketing and the need to support the ballet is more important, now more than ever. 

For the 2018-2019 Season
YAGP KOREA through the Hee Seo Foundation $3,000
Burbank Dance Academy $1,000
YAGP FINALS FUNDS $10,000
SUMMER INTENSIVE FUNDS $13,000

How am I going to fundraise $27,000 for all these kids/dancers? Simple. All of the proceeds from my books, artwork, and magazine will now be going towards helping dancers across the world. I have been watching, listening, and hearing kids across the world struggle financially at their home studios and then when they are offered the chance to be seen, or have a career, or attend a summer intensive that could actually make their career… they can’t even afford the chance to go. It was hard to watch kids struggling this year at YAGP finals with the costs of everything. Numerous times, I had let kids hop into my UBER or LYFT because I knew it was going to cost them $15 dollars when we were all going to the same place… 

Why am I always helping YAGP KOREA? Because, for these young men, it is important to place at a ballet competition. If they don’t place, they will have to serve two years to the army at the age of 19. Their training will  stop completely, and the odds of them ever returning to ballet are slim. Read more here.

Why am I helping Burbank Dance Academy? Because I have seen, worked in, and observed the intensities of the Los Angeles Ballet Community, and I believe this school under Jason Coosner is creating a healthy and positive presence in the Los Angeles Ballet Community that is desperately needed. 

Think about it this way… 

If you buy 1 grande Starbucks espresso drink a day, that is $1,825 dollars a year- if you just cut back to 5 coffees a week, and donate the rest you would be donating $520 dollars a year. That is a plane ticket for a kid to attend finals, or attend a summer intensive on scholarship. It might be the last amount needed to attend for a student to attend a year round school. That’s 6 pairs of pointe shoes you could be helping a student receive. If you were to not go out and eat once a month, you would be able to donate $1,200. That is almost a full summer intensive fee. It is 12 pairs of pointe shoes. It is the cost of the hotel for YAGP finals. 

How can you help support? Subscribe to the magazine.
Or if you would like to donate, feel free to by clicking here.

Do you need a scholarship? Applications for scholarships will open in December 2018.

Notes of Pirouettes en dedans…

Notes on Pirouettes En Dedans…
how to do an inside pirouette

Working on pirouettes en dedans (pirouettes to the inside) can be hard. While it seems like they are easier than en dehors turns, the problem with en dedans is the turnout factor. Whether is a pirouette or attitude turn to the inside, these can be rather difficult to master because of the mechanics. The like all turns, the focus should always be on the supporting leg, and even more so with turns to the inside. Sooooo, let’s begin. Remember if you like this post, share it.

The Preparation Position
tension for turns
Pirouettes to the inside… the first thing you are going to want to focus on is the prepping position. Normally, when learning this turn you start in fourth position in croisé, with the back leg straight. You want to make sure that the supporting arm is in a very placed first position, don’t over cross it. For the working arm, the big mistake is opening up too far. Makes sure it is in front of your body… meaning look over your shoulder and make sure your elbow and hand are in front of your shoulder. A lot of times, young dancers will over compensate in this position and that supporting arm will be so far back… This also has to do with your hips and making sure they are in a true croisé. Make sure you can see both hips in the mirror. Remember, you are only crossing to you “box” not the shape of the room. 

The Passé
preparation pirouette
The action of getting into the retiré devant can happen two ways. The first way is when the dancer shifts/ fouettés to a dégagé en face position with arms in seconde. The second way is to directly bring the leg into the turning position. While a lot of the torque for the pirouette happens from the working leg, the tension and the inertia that drives the pirouette is still in the supporting leg.

The Arms
arms for pirouettes

During this time the arms are either moving from third to fifth, or second to first, or second to fifth. Or really any port de bras. The reality is they can be in any position, but there has to be a hair amount of tension built up. Weak arms in a turn is a death sentence. You wouldn’t want to fly in a plane with weak wings, so don’t turn with weak arms. Don’t over twist, and don’t wind up. It is one of the worst things you can do. While most of the energy comes from the arm, it isn’t about swinging into the position, but the amount of control and tension you can build to instantly get into the position and maintaining an inside axial spiral rotation in the upper body while the lower body resists and tries to press en dehors.

The Position
the position for turns

The problem with an inside pirouette is that as the supporting side and arms are rotating the axis inwards on the body, the working leg is working in the opposite direction. The common mistake is for the working leg to slightly turn in to help carry the rotations of the pirouette. This is most commonly seen in younger dancers. The more advance dancer knows the keep the knee behind the shoulder, thus causing the turn to “lose” another rotation. But the position itself is quite complicated. I would say it is more complicated than an en dehors pirouette, but maybe it is just a more difficult turn for myself. Unlike an en dehors pirouette, where you place into one position and create your own g-forge from the turnout and push back of the working leg and you can increase the g-force during the turn… an en dedans pirouette is based on the energy prior to the turn (in the prep and the actions leading into the position).

The Rotation
the position for pirouette

Ice skaters probably have it the easiest when it comes to rotating to the inside on the axis. While most of their jumps are to the outside, most of their spins start to the inside. The basic idea of their spins is their scratch spin. But here is what we can learn from this concept. The turn to the inside has to do with building momentum and increasing their g force by using their working leg to build the g-force. The biggest factor is the tension they build in their arms, back, and core. The coordination between their arms and working leg is crucial. We can take this same concept and apply it when folding into our pirouette. By building tension in the preparation, we are able to close the momentum on top of our axis, like figure skaters. Now to increase the rotations, the supporting side of our body has to turnout/rotate faster than our working side. Our working side is there just along for the ride, placed in a turned out position.

Increasing the rotations
pirouette inside

When turning to the inside the quickest way to build rotations is by getting in to the position as quickly as possible but maintaining the tension. The best way I find to get into the position is letting the working arm shift into seconde, and then immediately pull into the reitré position.  Don’t over rotate the second position. Then let the working side’s upper body press forward and spiraling up to the position

Option 2: Personally, I like to think of a barbershop pole, spiraling up into as many rotations as possible. Spiral up over the arch, and constantly keep growing up and out of your hips, through your chest and out through your arms.

Pet Peeves
One of my biggest pet peeves is when preparing, having your hips tilted. I don’t like the idea of “up and forward” in preparation for the en dedans. A lot of people engage this lunging position where the hips are behind the upper body because you are leaning forward. Personally, I prefer that the hips and spine are all in a neutral position right on top of the arch of the supporting side.

Another pet peeve is when turning, not using your lats. Instead of widening the back, people pinch it tight. Remember your back should be completely flat, no chicken wings, not tectonic plates pinching… just keep it completely flat.

Finally, my last pet peeve when turning to the inside is winding up. I hate it. If anything build the moment with the supporting arm, and the second it hits seconde position, pull into fifth (whether that is through first, or cutting en dedans to the fifth). Its one of the biggest mistakes people make and causes them to look extremely turned in. I see it all the time at these competitions, especially in the Paquita etoile variation. The turn in is real… like super real.

To buy the poster click here.

______

For pirouettes en dehors click here.

Notes on Demi Plié

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

notes on dem plies

From Issue 1 of A Ballet Magazine

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

Plié

So, what are pliés used for?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Notes on Second Position / Perfect Symmetry

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

Second Position Rectanble

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

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

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


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


 

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

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

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

second position

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

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

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

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

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


Email Consultation

Notes on Fifth Position

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

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

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

Fifth Position

5 THINGS YOU SHOULD JUST NEVER DO IN FIFTH…

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


how-to-do-ballet-positions1

Notes on First Position 


Shop A Ballet Education Day Planners and Technique Trackers. Great for Students to keep track of their progress and set their ballet goals.

ballet technique tracker

NEW @ A BALLET EDUCATION

 

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

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

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

illustrate me

Finally, I am now available for consultations online!

 

How Much Should You Cross-Train for Ballet?

It seems, as of late, the majority of emails coming in, at the moment, revolve around cross-training… and it isn’t just parents writing in. It is studio owners, colleagues, and other dancer teachers out there. In a recent video on Instagram, it shows super talented dancers cross-training at the gym; not to mention ABT’s obsession with workout videos lately… Mostly, I think, to promote their friend’s business… Regardless… cross-training seems to be what is on everyone’s mind, especially gearing up for competition season.

how much should you cross train for ballet

Ballet Dancers seem to use a million different ways to augment their trainining… from nutrition to physical excercise, cross-training takes just as much time and money as ballet. And no… that doesn’t mean to buy a $7,000 dollar reformer for the house… I mean if you are going to have a pilates instructor come to your house, or you have put in thousands of hours… and have the liquid income… then go for it… otherwise… don’t

So, the first question you have to look at is how many hours a week are you training? This includes private lessons, private coaching sessions and rehearsal hours. Time management is crucial. Different schools have different approaches when it comes to the hours a dancer puts in. Lets say to be conservative for every 5 hours of classes you probably should be cross training at least an hour a week. This could be stretch and conditioning or something as simple as cardio. The reason behind cross training is so that muscles don’t over develop, so that the body is getting an even workout, and to focus on smaller details. This is opposed to regular ballet class to enhance and learn ballet vocabulary technique, rehearsals to learn choreography, private lessons to focus on individual needs… etc.

I know it is a lot… so we are basically saying if your kid is dancing 30 hours a week, they should be cross training 6 hours a week, and still getting 55 hours of sleep in… plus school and homework… and we only get 168 hours in a week. It seems impossible. Ballet schools should be implementing a lot of these practices in the curriculum. But if they aren’t.. then you will have to do it on your own. Make sure you are on the right and safe equipment… and you have a good pair of shoes that support your arches.

Things you should have at home or in your dance bag for cross-training on your own…
Bosu Ball... it is $100 bucks but one of the best investments for your dancer. Not only can you strength train on it but you can also work on balancing and core.

Resistance Bands

Foam Roller/Muscle Roller
You can not only maintain muscle, but  you can also use it to stretch and increase your stretch…

Flexi Stretcher

Ways to Cross-Train…

Pilates Life:
“Dancers spend most of their time in the studio, dedicating themselves to their art. Ballet/dance is their real job and like any job it is a daily struggle and it takes it’s toll on the body. Pilates helps them to rectify the imbalances they tend to create in the studio (from my experience, ballet dancers are particularly asymmetrical). With choreographers and teachers demanding daily perfection, Pilates allows dancers the space they need outside of the studio and outside of class to re-balance, release and re-connect. I started Pilates in my first year of the Australian Ballet School, which is around 23 years ago. Initially I found it hard to understand. Pilates is full of subtlety and nuance and it takes a long time to become familiar with it. When I was dancing my best, Pilates was for the most part a daily routine. A couple of hours of Pilates before ballet class became a necessity for me to feel good on stage. It balanced me out, helped me to rehabilitate injuries and be stronger than the challenge I faced. Simply put, it made my dancing better and more enjoyable.” -Marc Cassidy, former Senior Artist with The Australian Ballet and now owns and operates TrueFormPilates in Melbourne. Quote from Dance Informa

Cardio Life:
According to Harvard’s SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH, the average child 11-18 should be engaged in moderate or vigorous activity for an hour a day… we got that covered. However, cardio does build stamina and helps burn calories… Not that a kid should have to worry about that… But, this is on top of elite athletics. I mean, I for sure don’t have an hour a day to just briskly walk but it’s something to strive for. I would avoid the treadmill and other weight on the joints activities and focus on like swimming or yoga… though swimming can also restructure the body’s lung capacity and cause broadening of the chest and back… not ideal for girls.  Jumping rope on clay is always fun. I avoid biking because it makes your quads larger and tighter.

Weight Training:
Children under the age of 15 are not encouraged to weight train whatsoever. According to Harvard and Yale’s studies… it can actually cause bone density and growth issues. (It kind of borders on the same idea that you shouldn’t start pointe to early) Kids should rather do unstructured activities like playing on playground equipment, climbing trees, and so forth.

(Physical Activity guidelines for Americans. U/S/D.o.H.a.H. Services, Editor, 2008)

Gyrotonics:
If you can afford it, and have a place close to you… Gyrotonics is wonderful and magical.

“The GYROTONIC EXPANSION SYSTEM® Method is a unique, holistic approach to movement. Some of the benefits of a regular Gyrotonic practice include a healthier, more supple spine, increased range of motion, greater joint stability, improved agility and athletic performance, and a deep internal strength. Experienced Gyrotonic trainers offer personalized sessions that are adapted to fit the needs of all ages, and abilities, from elderly patients recovering from injury, to highly skilled professional athletes.” – Gyrotonic Website

Physical Therapists:
Injury Rehab and Prevention are extremely important. More and more former dancers have continued their career by attending med school like Alexis Sams. Alexis has not only studied other methods but she has gone on to develop numerous ways for dancers to cross train. Everything from coordination, to strengthening, stretching and pointe… Dr. Sams is another great resource out there. And she isn’t the only one.

Supplements
From avoiding gluten, avoiding dairy, avoiding meat… and anything else pumped with hormones, it seems supplements are becoming a big part of dance training. I mean, so are essential oils.

Mancrush Monday: David Hallberg

Okay, I know it isn’t monday… but I couldn’t come up with a title… and I found myself surrounded by David Hallberg today.

David Hallberg A Ballet Education

The International Ballerino: David Hallberg
From Arizona Ballet School to the Paris Opera Ballet School… David Hallberg joined American Ballet Theatrein April of 2001 and rose to the rank of Principal in May 2005. While at ABT he won the Benois de la Danse Prize as best male dancer for Albrecht in Giselle. But it wasn’t enough to end there… in 2011 he became the first American to join the presitigious Bolshoi Ballet under the title Premier Dancer. In 2013 he made his debut at the Paris Opera and since has danced with numerous companies around the world. Notably last year he created the title: Resident Guest Artist at the Australian Ballet…But that isn’t enough… the fashion world adores him. From spreads in VOGUE, GQ, CR BOOK to being photographed by some of the most influential photographers of our time…  Landing covers of New York Magazine…and numerous others… the Nike Endorsement… The list goes on and on… But it wasn’t always easy for him, battling a serious injury…

David Hallberg

But, I am here now, on vacation, enjoying my time reading his book: A Body of Work: Dancing to the Edge and Back. (Kindle $14.99/Hardcover $18.30/Audible–Free click the image below to shop)

David Hallberg Dancer

The book is actually a pretty decent self reflection… FYI… no pictures.

And if that isn’t enough… Pathé Live just released the Art of David Hallberg… a two disc DVD set featuring his Sleeping Beauty with Svetlana Zakharova, choreography by Yuri Grigorovich and the allstar cast of Marco Spada (Hallberg, Obraztsova, Smirnova, Chudin, Tsvirko) by Pierre Lacotte.

And then there are these amazing 10 videos of his dancing online…

 

 

for more information on David Hallberg you can visit his website by clicking here.