5 Questions you all have been asking…

side eye

You might not like me, you might not like what I have to say, in fact, you just might not care for what I say or how I say it… But the reality is… My blog is kind of a guilty pleasure for a lot of you. And that’s okay, no tea, no shade… Okay, who are we kidding there is a lot of tea and shade on this blog…. So, I will now nicely answer the five most asked questions to me:

1. Why do I hate Royal Ballet and RAD and take jabs at them whenever I have a chance?
Well, it has nothing to do with the dancers. It has to do with the politics of the Royal Ballet and Opera House. First off, Royal Ballet is home to technical powerhouses, their company is filled with the top winners of ballet competitions all over the world, they probably have more funds than most international companies, they have one of the best places to dance in the world…. Admiration all the way around… but the politics portrayed by the Royal Ballet’s actions irk me. Well, the politics of most ballet companies irk me.
To answer my RAD fans out there, RAD is not associated with the Royal Ballet School… I don’t know how it is in Europe, but in the US, RAD is used as a money maker. It is a way for studios/teachers to be certified in a teaching technique (it is the only methodology that lets you get a certificate). It basically makes you sound better than you really are, and a lot of teachers who hold the RAD credential shouldn’t be teaching ballet to begin with…. *side eye* Like what professional school associated with a company says: RAD METHOD….  I am sure there are….

2. Why am I such a fan of Balanchine and NYCB?
Who isn’t? Just kidding. Balanchine ballet isn’t classical ballet, at all. The vocabulary is the same but it is not classical ballet. I am pretty sure I have said that many times. It isn’t a technique either, it is an aesthetic. A look, a feel and a style… I admire the way NYCB uses the Balanchine technique to attack music, to attack the ballet steps and translate them onto their bodies. I also admire, that NYCB is made up of very different body types despite popular belief. I also believe that NYCB, like Balanchine was, is the innovators of ballet; not dance as a whole, just ballet. I think that what City Ballet is doing and how they are creating a new space, new vocabulary, new approach to music is the future of ballet… Finally, I do believe that Balanchine is the hand of God. Ask my students. Haha, I believe that the Balanchine works created an opportunity for dancers to move to music, to be something other than a princess, fairy or sylph. They got to be themselves.

3. Why are you so scatterbrained? (And other words that are not appropriate for blogging…)
Well, I work at a fashion magazine, and then own an aesthetic firm, PR company, freelance fashion design and consulting, volunteer at a pet hospital, have started my own ballet company and school, have this blog and another successful gay blog, have a pretty demanding social life, and trying to date all at the same time. Oh and now I have the demand for doodles. And I have to run my household… Then again who has to grocery shop now that there are apps for that.

4. How come your blog is more ranting than educational?
Well, I started the blog with educational posts, and they don’t do well…. And, as therapeutic as this blog is, it has to be successful…. And my rants and snarky commentary do well…. Posts that are snarky and witty, you all share…. Whether it is bashing me, correcting me, laughing with me, or just because I might be right…. You share them.
I am currently working on a video series of proper ballet techniques… But that takes time and money and I am slowly working on it…. And I have been trying to be more educational … my biscuity feet post was pretty educational if you ask me.

5. I should be more censored, politically correct, and unbiased….
Ummm no…. That is the purpose of a blog versus a newspaper. The problem with ballet, the construct of ballet is that people aren’t more honest… The ballet world should just be frank because in the classroom teachers are quite frank. You have people at CPYB calling you “oriental”
and “ethnic”. You have dance teachers around the world calling their students “fat, untalented, turned in, and mediocre”…. The list goes on and on… If ballet directors were honest about casting and just flat out told why, or school directors just said why you didn’t get in…. It would be a lot easier… Like if SAB just told you- you don’t have turnout instead of writing you this polite letter… You could spend the next year of your life busting your butt to turn out… literally. Haha.

And finally, if you have a question just email me: aballeteducation@gmail.com
Don’t be shady and post my blog on facebook with some random rant…. The power of having a PR firm and Social Media company is that I get to monitor my blog…
If you have some ballet shade, or tips, or something to say, just email it to me, and I will repost it… Seriously. I will. It is like gossip girl, but for ballet… Hahaha xoxo,
David

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The American Ballerina: the 21st century prima

The American Ballerina in the 21st century

What truly does it mean to be an American Ballerina? 
The idea of an American Ballerina isn’t far fetched at all, and actually since the cold war, America has become one of greatest manufacturers of ballet dancers.  While up until the Cold War, ballet was dominated by the Russians.  The history of ballet is funny, because as each generation of prima ballerinas comes to the forefront, they are influenced by culture, society, and what is “popular” in ballet. Today, we are blessed with the wonders of youtube and ballet in cinema, so we can see a variety of ballet dancers instantaneously. So, as a reflection of culture, we now have a true generation of American Ballerinas.

So, we have to kind of set up some conditions that define an American Ballerina:

1. Born in the United States.
2. Trained in the United States.
3. Dances with an American Company.
4. Has achieved the rank of principal dancer.
5. Has contributed to the next generation of dancers.

As we are at a time in ballet that celebrates the most innovate choreography, the most brilliant music, and the most technical phase of ballet, there are two extraordinary women that come to mind:

Tiler Peck and Lia Cirio
Ironically, neither dancer has the typical ballet body type. When we say typical we mean Russian girl body type, or Paris Opera Body type.  Additionally, the two women are completely different.  These two women though have created a new space and new ideal for dance.  Tiler Peck has created a generation of a more jazz meets Balanchine dancer making it possible for competitive studio trained dancers transition into ballet companies and schools. While, Lia Cirio has created an athletic provocative archetype of a prima ballerina. The only two things these women really have in common is really good teeth and a really great smile

The Run Down on these women:

Tiler Peck: sporadic training in the greater Los Angeles area, transitioning to School of American Ballet, joined NYCB in 2004, became a principal in 2009. Gorgeous turns, and fills the stage. First was really seen in the welcome to SAB DVD. Balanchine trained. Subtle sensitivity and sweetness in her approach to roles.
lia cirio american ballerina

Lia Cirio: random school, transitioning to CPYB, joined Boston Ballet in 2004, became a soloist in 2007, joined the Trey McIntyre project, came back to BB in 2010 to become promoted to principal. Banging hyperextension, ferocious arabesque. First major appearance in ballet: YAGP 2003. Classically trained. A body articulate conscious approach to a role.

So what makes these two women stand out compared to say… Hee Seo or Maria Kotchekova? Well, besides the fact that both of these women aren’t born and raised in the US, they are both ridiculously Russian trained, which is gorgeous, I’m not saying that they are awful. I am saying that they fit previous archetype of what a prima ballerina is. While Hee Seo was groomed to take Julie Kent’s place, Maria Kotchekova became the standard of SFB’s short girl. While Misty Copeland has made the compelling presence and awareness of race in ballet, I don’t think her actual dancing is ground breaking. (sorry, I know I am going to hear shit for that) Then we have other leading women in the US: Carrie Imler at PNB creating the athletic look at PNB, Isabella Boylston at ABT has reinvented the Paloma Herrera, but with better arms. Maria Kowroski is like the Balanchine version of Sylvie. Wendy Whelan created the skinny fit athletic body archetype.

As these two women expand their repertory, who knows what they will create for the ballet world? It’s exciting.

In other ballet news: ABT: Paloma Herrera is getting a weird farewell with a matinee performance of Giselle, followed by Xiomara Reyes’s farewell at 7:30.  Totally getting gipped, but maybe her name just doesn’t sell seats? ABT’s PBS special AMERICAN MASTER Series was beyond gorgeous.
NYCB & SFB: have a ridiculously amount of talented people in the ranks of soloists and corps but won’t be promoted until others retire. *cough cough* hang up the pointe shoes *cough cough*
Paris Opera: Natalie Portman’s Baby Daddy is making amazing moves and changes at POB.
PNB: Please promote Leta already.
Atlanta Ballet: Had the most beautiful end to their season.
Milwaukee Ballet: Their version of Cinderella was an okay finish for the season.

Little Jessy is prepping for LA BALLET. Her go fund me is still up, any donations will go towards pointe shoes, leotards etc. http://www.gofundme.com/jessylaballet

Don’t forget to use the code SCIE15 for 15% off Eros Sportswear for Men.

The Guide to FiercenessMy guide to fierceness is almost done. Holla for a dolla!

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.

OUR FIRST ISSUE EVER… & other news!!!

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We are very excited to announce that we will be launching our first interactive online issue in JUNE!

For our readers, it is completely FREE!!

What is an interactive digital magazine?

The world of publishing was drastically changed when the e-book arrived, but it didn’t do well for magazines. As the world of print publishing is dying, a new hybrid magazine has emerged! The interactive digital magazine. We are happy to be sponsored by JooMag, Mail Chimp, and Social Culture to bring you the next phase of a Ballet Education.

If you are a ballet company, business owner, or have a product, now is the time to have your brand featured with us. Cross visibility is the way of the future for marketing. Unlike print advertising and campaigns, the great thing about an interactive digital campaign are the ways to track your return, new clientele and more. You can view everything in our media kit, and see a sample advertisement as well: http://joom.ag/Q1rb

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!

For all of the parents of male ballet students out there, we are about to launch: www.MANLYballet.com

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So, Your Professional Dance Career Didn’t Work Out – Now What?

So, Your Professional Dance Career Didn’t Work Out – Now What

By Susie Boyland, contributor

After all the years of training you put in, becoming a professional dancer didn’t work out, and now you have no idea what to do. Living in a cardboard box doesn’t sound like an attractive option…nor does living with your parents for 10 more years…Perhaps injury ended your career prematurely, you just couldn’t find a job, or you realized that as much as you love ballet, you really can’t stand repeating the same 10 seconds of a ballet over and over throughout hours of rehearsal every day.  However, if you had your sights set on becoming a ballet dancer, coming to the realizing that your dream career isn’t going to work out can be devastating.  So what now? There are many career paths that will allow you to remain in the dance world and use your dance experience without being a dancer in a professional company.

Dancers are disciplined, intelligent, driven, and know how to make a commitment.  Plus, being able to smile and look happy while dancing in pointe shoes with toes covered in blisters has its benefits in the outside world: your boss will never know how much you really hate writing those TPS reports (though after you’ve smiled through your fair share of grunt work, be sure to fight for that promotion you deserve!).  You also know how to work on a team: after all the hours of going into excruciating detail during corps work in Swan Lake while your teacher screams at you, working on a team project is a piece of cake!  And speaking of cake, you now can also have that extra slice without worrying so much about how you’d look in that hideous unitard you might otherwise be wearing in your next performance.

Nevertheless, ballet is a big part of your life and you’re not ready to let it go completely.  Good news is you don’t have to!  Most of these alternate career options will require a degree (or two…or three) or perhaps some specialized training, but fear not; the time and dedication you put into your ballet training is proof that you have what it takes to succeed in just about any career.  Here are five (and a bonus list) of the multitudes of other career options you might consider:

1. Physical Therapist
Let’s be real – all dancers end up in physical therapy at some point or another.  Having a physical therapist who does not know a plié from a tendu is about as fun as trying to explain to your non-dancer friends that no, you really cannot miss rehearsal “just this one time” to go to the beach.  Dancers will flock to a physical therapist with a dance background as they are hard to come by.  Helping other dancers to recover from their injuries could be very satisfying, and the training you will receive in physical therapy school will also help you to deal with your own injuries whenever they arise.  Plus, you will ace your anatomy classes, even if you’ve never taken one before.  How many other types of people can tell you where the psoas is before hearing about it in an anatomy class?  From my experience, not a whole lot.

For those who aren’t opposed to completing many more years of schooling, perhaps a career as an orthopedic surgeon is an option.  Every dancer’s worst fear when it comes to surgery is that he or she won’t be able to dance again.  Naturally this field is highly specialized and probably isn’t for most, but former dancers who do become surgeons could become highly regarded in this field.

2. Pilates Teacher
Now that we’re done discussing the scary stuff (surgery = yikes!), let’s get back to something we’re more familiar with.  Love it or hate it, cross training is essential for injury prevention.  Ballet dancers already have an acute sense of awareness when it comes to their bodies, and a pilates teacher who already has this awareness will be able to better meet the needs of his or her students.  Chances are you’ve already taken 203942038 pilates classes or thereabouts in your lifetime, so getting your certification shouldn’t be too frightening of a prospect.  Yoga is another option too.

3. Nutritionist
While you may now be allowed to have that extra piece of cake, most professional dancers have to be much more wary of what they eat.  As you no doubt know, in order to keep your body healthy and functioning at peak physical condition, nutrition is key.  For those who already like to eat as healthily as they can, this may seem like an attractive career option.  For those who wanted to hide in the back during nutrition class at summer programs, perhaps this idea sounds about as fun as repeating a long adage in the center.  In that case, let’s just move on to the next idea…

4. Lighting, Costume, or Set Designer
Jobs that help dancers lead injury-free and healthy lives are great and all, but what you really may be looking for is a way to still be involved in the performance aspect of ballet.  Lighting, costumes, and sets are what help to bring a ballet to life.  Creating a magical stage environment would simply not be possible without the work of these creative individuals.  You already know what does and doesn’t look good on the stage, so you’d be a natural at this!

5. Choreographer or Dance Teacher
These are the most obvious choices for a dancer who has to leave the stage but is not ready to leave the studio.  As dancers we have a vast amount of experience with choreographers and teachers, and likely know what we do and don’t like from each.  Many dancers choose one or both of these options after retiring from performing, but there’s no reason why these jobs should be reserved only for retired professional dancers.  These jobs may not be able to provide full-time work though, so perhaps these options could be a part-time supplement to another full-time job.

Lastly, a bonus list (which by no means includes the rest of your options):

  • Dance Photographer
  • Dance Journalist/Reviewer
  • Actor/Actress
  • Massage Therapist
  • Chiropractor
  • Dancewear or shoe designer
  • Business management or marketing work for your favorite company

If none of these sound good to you, then another option is to choose a career which is unrelated to the dance world but will provide you with the financial means and free time to enjoy as much dance as you want!  In my case, I got an engineering degree (undergrad only) and was able to get a job at a large aerospace corporation in a city with ample dance opportunities.  Engineering sounds terrifying, but I’ll let you in on a secret: Ballet is WAY more difficult!  My engineering job allows me to have the financial stability and time to take as many classes as I want (whenever injuries don’t prevent me from doing so) and attend professional ballet performances on a regular basis.  I know several other pre-professionally trained dancers who did the same thing and are also happy with their decision.  Not everyone is math and science oriented, but if you are then perhaps engineering could be a good option for you too.  Most engineers are left-brained and logical, but as a dancer you also have an artistic and creative element which can make you stand out.  Plus, who knows – maybe you could be the one to come up with a new and revolutionary long-lasting pointe shoe!  (One that doesn’t look like a Gaynor…#justsayin)

Each person is different and has his or her own skills and interests, but there is still a bright future for everyone whose dancing dreams didn’t come true in the way they’d hoped.  It will take time and effort, but when you think about all the hard work you’ve put in while training as a ballet dancer, it’s tough to think of something that could be more difficult than what you’ve already accomplished.  The end of your professional dancing days, even if they never begun, is not really an end, but rather the start of a new dream.

—-

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Ballet… What’s the skinny? 5 Misconceptions about women in ballet.

Photo by RJ LUNA. LINES.
Photo by RJ LUNA. LINES.

(So, after going a month without publishing a blog post, and watching how the month of November would shape up in terms of readers, a lot of people asked me to talk about body types… In specific the female body type.)

Here we go, another fun five facts about ballet: 5 misconceptions about the women in ballet.

With iconic movies like Center Stage and Black Swan, it seems that when it comes to ballet dancers, the world associates it eating disorders. Sure, as flattering as that may be, associating ballet with skinny… Well, lets just look at the reality of ballet…

1. Anorexia and Bulimia… the eating disorders. Myth. Whoever just eats a salad all day and has to dance a three act ballet must have magical muscles or some sh!t because, a salad would barely get me through rehearsal, yet alone a performance. Most professional ballet dancers are far from anorexic, they can’t be. With the amount of energy burned while dancing, if they didn’t eat… they would end up dead in the middle of a ballet performance. Now, if we are talking about students… that is a different story. It is hard for any child, male or female to be in ballet. And somewhere around age 11, everything start to build up. From ages 11-14 you are told that this is your moment to make it into a professional school. With the pressure and anxiety of parents, and teachers pushing girls into the workforce so young, bulimia becomes a way to control something… I mean their careers aren’t in their hands. In addition, their bodies are changing and when they were constantly told that is just baby fat, and it doesn’t go away… and then chests develop… well, young impressionable girls take it to the extreme… and boys for that matter. Eventually, as puberty ends, and adult bodies begin to take shape, more dancers get a control of their body and understand what foods work and don’t work for them. What makes them feel bloated and what makes them feel good and energetic. Also the reality is, dancers have to be in top condition, which means they have to have extreme muscle toning. Asking your leg to go up super high and hold it in a la second is hard, but doing that while hungry and while your muscles are deprived from the proper nutrients… good luck…

2. Ballet dancers are tall. kind of a myth. Most female ballet dancers are between 5’3″ and 5’5″, and if you dance for NYCB or older PNB… then you might be 5″7-5’9″… the majority of ballet dancers both male and female are on the shorter side. It is why tall men are celebrated, because that means tall women can be employed. What makes ballet dancers look so tall is he ability to isometrically move, and moving on the diagonal. It is like that optical illusion with a diagonal line and a horizontal line the exact same length, but asking which one is longer. It is why balanchine over crossed for the sake of aesthetic, and why efface is so flattering in arabesque. Probably why students aren’t allowed to have pictures on the diagonal.

3. Ballet girls are stuck up prudes… maybe a myth. I don’t know about you, but this idea that all ballet dancers are these wholesome ethereal creatures… I don’t know what summer programs you went to, or what year round schools you went to… buuuuut give a ballet girl the chance to get turnt… she’ll take it. Which is why I endorse not sending your kid to a professional school till sixteen, kids definitely need more supervision these days. (I work at the school district… I know.) As far as the stuck up part goes, I don’t know if it is because ballet is privileged extra curricular, I mean the costs are obscene… So, it could be that upper middle class attitude? Then again what teenager doesn’t get turnt up these days?

4. Ballerinas are black swan crazy. This might just be a little true. Everyone in ballet has to be a little OCD… I mean they are killing themselves doing the same thing over and over and over… trying to be perfect, knowing that it is impossible. That is just self punishment. Will they go kill themselves in the middle of a performance via Natalie Portman status… probably not. Will they go all Maureen on us and disappear minutes before the curtain goes up… doubtful, especially if you are the lead.

5. Ballerinas are fragile, delicate princesses. Not true. Women in ballet are just as ferocious as the men in ballet. In fact, they are probably more ferocious. Women in ballet attack performances, fearlessly and push through injury, women in ballet are fierce. If you look at their muscle tone, they are crazy ripped, and probably could fall of their bike, and still dance swan lake.