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.

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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.

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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


 

This Week In Ballet…

ballet news topIt is the first week of 2018, and it already has me thinking… a lot. Between Peter Martins retiring, YAGP Philadelphia being postponed, YAGP Seattle underway, new job offers, new job titles and the pressure of ballet building… it has really made me start to think about a life outside of ballet.  Don’t forget you can watch live streams of the YAGP… you have to pay… but it’s enjoyable.

Let us recap A Ballet Education’s Ups and Downs of 2017…
January: I left a job that was basically a lie and the board was stealing. Found out my blog was ranked number 2 as a dance resource and ballet blog in the world, over the Gaurdian, NYT, and Pointe.
February: Depressed.
yagp finals
March: YAGP FINALS, developped a tremor in my hand and body, quit drinking
April: Blogging and Writing, went Gluten Free
May: Master Teaching Everywhere, became a Red Bubble Top Seller
June: Offered the Job at American National Ballet, met some really great people.
July: Master Teaching at Masters,
August: Moved to Charleston… mid August- left ANB, went Vegetarian
September: Blogging and Writing and Teaching Everywhere, made it one year of the magazine.
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October: Given the Chance to work at Phoenix Ballet, got screwed over by close friends, went Vegan
November: Guest taught more, wrote more, traveled to a million places… Worked on my getting my children’s book out there again… fail.
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December: Survived 16 shows of Nutcracker as Executive Director, photographer, Guild Coordinator, celebrated Christmas with my family… barely wrote. Lost a ton of weight.

Don’t get me wrong, I saw a lot of great ballet and had amazing opportunities. I am just glad I can look back at 2017 and be done with it.

… now onto January 2018 

So far, I have found out that my blog is now Ranked Number 1.
I was given the chance to freelance work in fashion again, and enjoyed it. I have only had two flights delayed, one in which I canceled. Given the chance to buyout of my place in Charleston, which I haven’t been to 3 months. I miss my bed, my clothes, my books. Now I have to figure out those logistics. Mmmm, signed two cool deals that will launch in March.
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Decided to cut back on teaching this year and focus on the things that I want in life… And it is only day 5, so I can’t really say it is that great of an accomplishment, but I quit smoking. Have turned into a raging b*tch… But decided since my tremor hasn’t come back to attempt the gym and ballet classes again…

 

 

 

The Ballet Shake Up of 2017

This year has been a whirlwind. Four years ago we had a shake up in changes in the Artistic world of Ballet as dancers and directors shuffled among the companies. But, this year, dancers and directors are being removed from the picture. Between the hustle and bustles and crazy sh!t storm that is the Nutcracker… This morning American Ballet Theatre put out their press release regarding international superstar Marcelo Gomes. He is no longer with ABT. This is just on the tailcoat of Peter Martins at NYCB. If you haven’t been following ballet news, allegations have been put out there, left and right… Most of them surfacing from the past. But, no one in ballet is really that surprised, and they aren’t being quiet about it on social media. Everyone has something to say, or a story involving one of the accused… and dragging un-accused people into the light.

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This isn’t that big of a surprise for those of in ballet. We have heard the rumors, we have seen how directors act, and we see how egos get inflated… very quickly. A Ballet Education has been demanding change for the past three years, and unfortunately it is taking the press, and victims of abuse to come forward to start a radical change in ballet. Directors at a ballet company, are literally, one step away from God himself. The power a director has, and if the board supports this director, gives them unlimited power within a ballet company. There are all of these unspoken things that dancers fear: contracts being renewed, insurance, injury, their personal life, etc. Ironically, most of these directors have been in the other position… So most of them, don’t even see anything wrong with their behaviors. For a lot of the European directors their justification is that they are treating the dancers nicer than they were treated… Thus, it isn’t that bad, and we all should be thankful we have a job….

(Marcelo Gomes is currently choreographing on his friend Julie Kent‘s Washington Ballet and has a movie set to preimiere.)

It is this mentality that proliferates and continues the cycle of abuse, ego, and demand in the ballet world. But this starts at the student level, when students are expected to put in 8-10 hour a days, without pay, and be happy about it. There is no child ballet union to protect children from the wrath of a director, nor are there child psychiatrists monitoring the children growing up at tier one ballet schools helping them cope with injury, reality, and mental capacity it takes to be a ballet dancer. They grow up in this mindset of abuse is normal, and you are lucky to be a part of this industry, so you should be silent. Again, not something new. And the obsession over women in ballet has always been there. They are goddesses and at the same time directors and choreographers view them as clay; to be shaped and to be formed into something of their own desires.

The allegations surrounding Peter Martins might be called karma by some… And for others, they are completely shocked. It is just like this HW, Meryl Streep scenario where some people truly didn’t know or witness anything but a demanding director. All of this is just days away before companies go on break, which could be a good thing… The demand for change is here… and for someone like myself, who is a qualified AD or ED, it makes me wonder if ballet is really worth it?

 

From left: Justin Peck, Rebecca Krohn, Jonathan Stafford and Craig Hall. Photo by Erin Baiano, via The New York Times. (City Ballet’s “temporary fix” to the Peter Martin’s Scandal…)

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It is making me think, that kids shouldn’t leave home alone until they are 18. That the structure of ballet is breaking because no one will listen to a younger generation like myself. I have had numerous conversations with some of the most respected people in ballet, and I am laughed at. I am told that what I am asking is impossible, and that I should find my place in ballet… Which I have… Ballet doesn’t have to be this art form of beauty surrounded by suffering, abuse and ridiculously expensive.

It is sad to see my colleagues suffering… Even dancers at Boston Ballet, not being able to settle their contracts. They signed mid December. It isn’t a secret that Boston proper is expensive to live in, so as a company it is your job to adequately pay the dancers. Unfortunately, this either means the executive staff needs a pay cut, or dancers need to be let go so that others can be paid. There has to be a time where we draw a line in the sand and say, “This is it.”

Change has to happen in ballet. And it has to happen rather soon. Questions comments or concerns: email me.


 

Reflecting on things…

First off, I want to thank everyone who supported my trip to the YAGP. It really was a humbling experience, and for that, I am forever thankful. After the YAGP, I was heading back to Arizona, when I realized it was the day before Easter. So, thanks to a very nice lady at SouthWest Airlines, I was able to fly back to California for super cheap and spend time with my family. While spending time in California, I was lucky enough to have job offers come in from NYC… It has been overwhelming and extremely humbling and for that I am thankful.
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Over Easter, I sprained my wrist and pulled something in it… doing what you may ask? Sleeping. So, this is why I have been so slow on getting the doodles back to everyone. But alas, I am moving on them! I finally am home and will be printing all the prints tomorrow and shipping them Thursday.

While in California, I took adult ballet class at an old school I used to train at… and I died. My poor psoas is so out of shape lol. But, the plus side was it was a more Balanchine class, so the combinations come to me easier, stylistically and musically I probably just look better in this class… even though I probably still was a fat panda jumping around. I had to order new Rubia Wear leg warmers because I realized, I don’t take them off ever, and I wear them over my heel so they get tore up. -___- My fault.

Finally, this past week has been a very emotional week on the West Coast for ballet. San Francisco Ballet said goodbye to three stunning household names: All-American Vanessa Zahorian, the tall and handsome Davit Karapetyan, and the Latina who stole the ballet world’s heart Lorena Feijóo. (Find more on Odette’s Ordeal’s Facebook) All this and  SFB premiered Myles Thatcher’s Ghost. Busy week for them.

Meanwhile, on the East Coast… NYCB launched their Here/Now Festival and has been getting rave reviews. Boston Ballet this week has been gearing up for the Sleeping Beauty, and Miami City Ballet ended their season.

American National Ballet, a company celebrating diversity in ballet, announced their first principal to sign: the tall, leggy, and talented Sara Michelle Murawski. This former Slovak National dancer and current PA Ballet Principal made headlines this year after Nutcracker season she was told she wasn’t going to be rehired for next season because of her height. This then exploded and resulted in the lack of casting for the remainder of the season. ANB has yet to announce any other hires with the exception of the Artistic Director, Cuban, Octavio Martin and powerhouse executive director Ashley Benefield. The company will be based out of Charleston, South Carolina. (learn more)

Lastly, I came home to find Doodle Book 3 on my doorstep. 🙂 IMG_3123.JPG

Currently Listening To: Solitudes by Enzio Bosso >> Click here to buy

And the envelope please… a Ballet Education’s Ballet Awards 2016

ballet awards

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

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

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

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

So, without further adieu, the envelope, please…


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

A BALLET EDUCATION AWARD


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


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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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


Company Contribution to the World
no nominations… sad face.



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

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


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

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


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

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


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

Thier next season looks pretty amazing as well…

For tickets…

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And the winner is…
TEATRO LA SCALA



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AND THE OSCAR GOES TO… the top 10 ballet companies in the world

With the Oscars around the corner, it means it is time for a Ballet Education’s award season. With that about to happen, after two years of hesitantly writing a list of actual top ten companies… I have given in.

top ten ballet companies
A lot of you have asked if I could rank the top ten ballet companies in the world… And so, because I am so obliging to your requests, sure, why the hell not. I have postponed this post because a lot of things get factored in when looking at a company:

The Caliber of Dancer: where they have trained, artistic merit, technical achievements.
The Size of the Company, good things come in small packages sometimes, a lot of the times. Larger companies though employ more dancers, so from a financial or economic standpoint, that is a factor.
The Repertory, both current and old. Repertory feeds the dancer’s soul and sells tickets. Is the company innovating?
Going on tour: Is it a home company or touring company? That is a significant factor too. Touring companies have a lot of worldwide recognition, and home companies have a stable audience.
Does the company have a school that feeds the company creating a lasting relationship between the young community and the current ballet audience?
What is good ballet? That is probably the most subjective… but that can always be defined by the real question of, “What is Ballet… Today.”

So… if we look at what ballet is today, it is isn’t this rigid fairytale designed by composers and directors. It has evolved so much more than that. Nowadays, ballet is encompassed by what can be defined as neo-classic, and a lot of contemporary (as in works being done today) works. The current ballet vocabulary is expanding, and because ballet vocabulary has always set the standard for dance… Thanks to the codification of ballet in France… It has always been that way… But now, the language of dance is melding with cultural references and different genres, it is exploring new depths of music or the lack thereof, and the ability to transpire a new quality of dancing.

If by definition of the art form, classical ballet is the art of constraint.
Then neoclassical ballet would be that of the 20th century, so Balanchine, DeMille, Graham, Robbins
And if current or contemporary ballet is that of Tharp, Forsythe, Kylian, Neumeier, Wheeldon, Ramatansky, Elmo, etc
And if the future of ballet is being defined by Peck, Thatcher, Simkin and Cirio then we can classify these companies quicker.

But unfortunately, there are really only five ballet companies that set the tone of the ballet world and here is the reason why:

The Paris Opera Ballet: they set the tone for turnout and the foundations of technique. Paris Opera employs 150 dancers and takes residency between Palais Garnier and the Bastille Opera House.

The Bolshoi Ballet (or interchange it with any random Russian company that hires from Vaganova School): they set the tone for Adagio and body type. The breeding ground for Russian superstars, the feeder school to Bolshoi is BBA but the rivaled Russian companies are fed by Vaganova Academy.

The Royal Ballet: they set the tone for technical powerhouses, turns/jumps. Prix winners go there to build a name for themselves. Takes residency at the gorgeous Covent Garden.

The New York City Ballet: they set the tone for musicality, speed and new works. Residing at Lincoln Center, the only American Company that resembles and performs as much as a European home company.

Nederlands Dans Theatre: they set the tone for innovation and new ways to move. Between the first and second companies, the two employ 46 of the most fundamentally interesting dancers in the world. Originally founded by Jiri Kylian and now under the Artistic Directorship of Paul Lightfoot, this company is always pushing the edge of innovation. (A lot of you might think to switch out Nederlands Dans Theatre with Stuttgart, and you could be right. I just believe that Nederlands pushes innovation more while Stuttgart offers a more diverse repertory.)

These five companies are also ridiculously accessible these days. With Social Media being the new innovator and the new audience, ballet companies like these five are creating the trends for ballet. With repertory to die for, these companies set the look and feel of ballet, but without a doubt– these companies border between classical and neo-classical companies. I don’t see Nederlands of City Ballet attempting to take on say: The Little Humpback Horse or the full length Raymonda… There are companies who truly are classical, and their schools reflect that as well. I think that these companies have had to expand their repertory because of the demand for new works by both the dancers and the audience.

So the top 10 Classical Ballet Companies in the world would be, in no particular order… Again NO PARTICULAR ORDER, before you all go crazy:

1. Paris Opera Ballet – COMPANY WEBSITE
2. National Ballet of Cuba – COMPANY WEBSITE
3. Bolshoi Ballet/ Kirov/ Mariinsky –BOLSHOI WEBSITE
4. Royal Danish- Bournonville technique- WEBSITE
5. The Australian Ballet – Website
6. Het National Ballet/Dutch National Ballet-WEBSITE
7. American Ballet Theatre- WEBSITE
8. Teatro La Scala – COMPANY WEBSITE
9. National Ballet of Canada –WEBSITE
10. The Royal Ballet – COMPANY WEBSITE

The top 5 Neo-Classical Ballet Companies would be:
1. New York City Ballet
2. Nederlands Dans Theatre
3. Stuttgart Ballet
4. San Francisco Ballet
5. Eifman Ballet
Now my personal list of top 10 companies in the world, the list that really matters:
1. New York City Ballet
2. Paris Opera Ballet
3. Bolshoi Ballet
4. Alonzo King’s LINES
5. San Francisco Ballet
6. Pacific Northwest Ballet
7. American Ballet Theatre
8. Australian Ballet
9. Dance Theatre of Harlem
10. Ballet Black

#BalletPolitics

#BALLETPOLITICS…

ballet politics copy.jpg
Between racism, sexism, and body types… The real politics of ballet boil down to one thing: favoritism. After the recent performance of Los Angeles Ballet’s DON Q, I realized that favoritism   may be the downfall of ballet… Favoritism in ballet isn’t just about talent, or body type… It has to do with the personal relationships within the company. I’m not saying that these people don’t deserve a chance, but if you look at NYCB’s roster… everyone has either married each other, dating each other or are related. Don’t get me wrong… genetics for ballet is extremely important… But, we have all been in the room when someone is given a role, and the whole room is thinking, “WTF?”

Casting is the one thing that is most affected by favoritism. And casting and the chance to learn a role, or even perform a role is what feeds a dancer’s soul. In a major company, like say…. American Ballet Theatre, the competition within the corps is so fierce that it might be impossible to get promoted…. I mean their corps is full of YAGP winners and Prix finalists… Then you have NYCB whose corps dances insane…. But principals really do shine…. Then you have regional companies who casting is extremely distinct by rank…. but then there are the exceptions of favorites… Dancers who are being fast-tracked by either talent, personality or personal relationship….

I’ve said it a million times… but Artistic Directors are the ones killing ballet….

The rebuttal is that Artistic Director’s give dancers a shot to prove themselves… and sometimes… they don’t live up to that moment… Then we have scenarios where the dancer is talented but stuck in the corps because of financial reasons… So it is hard to say… With talent coming out of the woodworks these days… Jobs are becoming scarce, and with principal dancers eating their own company’s repertory alive… Superstars and guesting at companies constantly… So, is there any room left for the “traditional” dance career route? Do you have be a superstar to make it now?

If you aren’t a favorite, a YAGP stars, a social media force, or reality star… is there room for the typical ballet dancer?

Sorry this post is so scatter brained, I am also having coffee with a friend of mine talking about our upcoming Vegas trip.

gaysian at molinos.jpg
So, here I am sitting, over iced tea (I gave up coffee for lent) wondering the fate of so many talented dancers. Is it good enough to have a perfect body, clean technique and a great work ethic? Or, are we at the point where you have to beyond perfect in every way, have superior tricks, and be well known through social media? Has ballet truly become for the people, and the people demand tricks and technical powerhouses?

As I see so many professional dancers transitioning to other companies, or freelancing…. I wonder if ballet will be like the commercial dance industry, and will be booked and cast by the show?

ballet politics copy.jpg

Not Bad.

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

company class plies redlands dance theatre
www.redlandsdancetheatre.org

love wins
#workflow
www.SocialCulture.com

COMING SOON:
THE GUIDE TO VARIATIONS

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

Ballet Needs to Stop Making Me Mad Late at Night…

#BLOOP …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ballets to Buy

This week there are a couple great new DVDs to get.  NYCB’s Ballet 422 about Justin Peck’s premier. And ABT’s PBS Modern Masters, plus the book! If you buy all 3, you are roughly looking at 100 bucks, but well worth it.

pPBS3-21360075reg11350642_10155631759760529_7558825850388951764_n

Update: Our June Issue is a little behind, I’ve had a lot going on at work, and some health issues.
If you haven’t seen the MODREN MASTERS you can see the whole special below.
http://video.pbs.org/viralplayer/2365487888

Getting Ready For Summer: UPDATE

first issue copy

Totally getting excited as we are getting ready to launch our first issue…
It is a lot of hard work, and truth be told, I don’t know if it is going to come out JUNE 1, but I am hoping.
We have partnered up with some really great advertisers, offering your guys some really great deals!!!

Also, we are on the hunt for good ballet stories, and also, with the success of our GoFundMe Campaign for Jessy, we really would like to help out others.  So, any donations made to http://www.gofundme.com/balletblog will now help aspiring ballet students.

If you are an aspiring dancer, or established dancer you can now submit your photos to aballeteducation@gmail.com for your chance to land on the cover of our magazine! That is pretty cool.
When submitting your photo, whether you are dancer, photographer or parent, you need to make sure you have all of the proper legal forms: model release, photographer’s release, and permission for distribution.

Finally, our first mini e-book will be coming out this summer!
The Guide to FiercenessTHE GUIDE TO FIERCENESS: 10 STEPS TO BECOME A BETTER BALLET DANCER

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aballeteducation facebookCurrently watching:afternoonofafaun

You know you trained Balanchine… pt Deux… You know you have danced Balanchine if…

We have all heard famous stories, infamous quotes, or my personal favorite, “Balanchine Said…” or “Balanchine told me…” For some ballet dancers, they are lucky enough to dance at the School of American Ballet, and have first hand experience with the New York City Ballet Legends… Or, now across the US, numerous schools have added Balanchine Legends to their staff… Yes, legends… There are legends still among us, which walk this earth, turned out, and elegantly. So, after the original post (here) a lot of people had feedback, and well, there is always feedback with this blog… I was originally going to make some snide remark about it all…. but then I asked myself, “What Would Balanchine Do?”

This post is dedicated to the mature Balanchine dancer…  You Know You Have Danced Balanchine If…

George Balanchine

1. After you have danced a difficult Balanchine role, and your coach, or Balanchine Repetiteur smiles and you know you are on the right track. (Inside you are thinking… Balanchine would be like, “YAAAAS!!! You Better Get It!”)

Stravisnky is Life

2.  Stravinsky is life. You can’t wait till a Stravinsky Ballet is in the season. Who doesn’t love counting 9’s, 7’s, 13’s and other ridiculously well thought out math equations?

Thats Balanchine of You

3. You are in open class, and the teacher touches your hand and is like, “Oooh, that’s Balanchine of you….” You know they are trying to insult you, but you are smiling thinking… “Suki Schorer taught me well… Boom.”

serenade life

4. You know every part of Serenade… Even if you are a man… and we all know that everyone, male or female wants to dance one of the leading ladies… Don’t lie.

like a boss

5. You learn a new Balanchine ballet, and you are like, “Balanchine is Boss.” (You might thinking the song big pimpin’ was inspired by Balanchine… Just Kidding.)

What Would Balanchine Do?

6. That moment you are asked to improv, or make something your own and you ask yourself, “What would Balanchine do?”

No sweetie Ballet Fail

7. You are working on a Balanchine ballet, and you try your own thing (after a very long restless night of it haunting you) and whoever is setting the ballet is like, “No.” And then you start beating yourself up.

Evil Genius

8. You have to get through a ridiculously hard ballet, that requires a ridiculous amount of stamina, in a ridiculous short time… And you think, “What was he thinking?” You know that he is brilliant, and that he is genius, but you stop and think, “I wonder if he did this just to mess with his dancers’ psyche, and then they pulled it off, so he kept it?” or “WHYYYY BALANCHINE…WHY?!”

Dear Mr B

9. That night before casting goes up, you have been busting your butt off in rehearsals and learning the ballet… and right before you go to bed you are like, “Dear Mr. B…”

side eye

10. That moment after the casting goes up for a Balanchine Ballet…

Ballet in the age of Technology…

Happy Valentine’s Day. Here are some of the stunning videos of dancers embracing the evolution of ballet. It is no surprise with IG, and other video apps, that ballet is becoming more and more embraced. Dancers are now collaborating with world renowned videographers, or taking to their own projects to bring a more precise, more intimate, more intricate look at movement. Below are some stunning videos that demonstrate the power of multiple art forms coming together.

Sergei Polunin“Take me to Church” by Hozier, Directed by David LaChapelle

Guillaume Côté, Composer: James LaValle, Director: Ben Shirinian

Dores Andre and Frances Chung, Directed by Quinn B

A haunting take on jealousy, this existential contemporary dance film thriller posits a man (Royal Swedish Ballet/Cullberg Ballet alumnus) Giovanni Bucchieri, a woman (New York City Ballet Principal Wendy Whelan), and an elusive lover (Pontus Lidberg) in a series of intense pas de deux in a stark apartment that becomes a fourth character. Danced to a commissioned score by Pulitzer Prize and Grammy winning composer David Lang with solo cello by Maya Beiser.

 Sasha De Sola & Steven Morse. Choreography by – Myles Thatcher.

The Australian Ballet (BTW, they have thee best PR videos, ever… They beat NYCB hands down)

Matthew Bourne has released several shorts which are beyond brilliant…

It”s a New Year…

Hello readers! Wishing you the best this new year! 

For those of you who are students, best of luck with your summer program auditions. And for those of you who are dancers, merde for the spring season. And, for those of you who simply enjoy ballet and this blog, I hope this year brings everything you have wanted.

Where to begin… where to begin… Let’s see… Today is the one year anniversary of my dad’s passing, so I have had a lot of time to reflect. The kind of reflection that should happen more often, but life sometimes gets in the way. Recently, I was looking at my itinerary for the upcoming fashion calendar and I realized that I don’t want to be in fashion much longer. Don’t get me wrong… The perks are great, the traveling is amazing, and you are surrounded by the most beautiful of things… But, as I was sitting there reading, I realized that I would rather be working in ballet. So, this is the year I am dedicating to transition out of fashion and back into ballet, specifically public relations, marketing, communication and sales… I have put out a few resumés, so we shall see.

So, enough about me… There are some exciting things going on in the dance world right now. The first is that two principal male prodigies have started to steer the course of ballet into a new direction. The first is Daniil Simkin, the Vienna prodigy at American Ballet Theatre with his project: Intensio. This project combines high caliber ballet dancers, with headlining reputations and innovative digital media. (click here to read more) The second of the men is Jeffrey Cirio, a principal dancer with Boston Ballet. The Cirio Collective is spearheaded by this young prodigy, and basically is creating space for dancers to take movement into their own hands. Their first season premier this summer. Dancers really don’t get to explore much on their own as they have the Artistic Director’s vision to carry out… This new collective I hope will eventually grow, and will become an innovative contemporary company based out of Boston. (Click here, and like their page on Facebook).

Principal dancers around the world though seem to be creating their own spaces. They are creating their own galas, realizing that their social media presence, and name alone can sell out a theatre. Roberto Bolle, Diana Vishneva are prime examples… I wouldn’t be surprised if Maria Kotchekova soon heads her own project. Former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan has joined Dance Spirit Magazine as a featured writer/editor. Her youtube and wordpress basically exploded last year, and has landed her a spot in publishing. (I am actually surprised this didn’t happen sooner.) Dance Magazine named their 25 to watch… If you didn’t know what this list was… It basically selects dancers and choreographers from around the world, and basically dubs careers to fame… Hee Seo, Leta Biasucci and others have graced the list.

Other fun new things this year? Paris Opera Ballet under Benjamin Millepied basically has given us access to behind the scenes of Paris Opera Ballet like never before… Thank you social media.

On the downside, this year is going to be echoed with retirements… But as we are saddened to see such artists take leave, don’t fret because a new generation of ballet dancers are coming into their own and they soon will be the names everyone is talking about, if people aren’t already talking about it… So here are some predictions for 2015… Hope they come true *fingers crossed*

Misty Copeland gets promoted to Principal at American Ballet Theatre.. Seriously, I think everyone is done waiting.

NYCB’s: Lauren Lovette and Savannah Lowery make exceptional debuts and are brought to rank of principal. (I don’t know who they will knock out of the principal role, but with Wendy retired… money has to be available right?)

Justin Peck makes an even larger contribution to the world of ballet… Seriously… He is probably the one we are all watching the closest right now, especially after he premiers in the documentary about his work…

oh, and David King, takes on the world of ballet in a greater capacity than this blog. Haha.

How to get through a summer program audition…

So, what is the secret to getting through a summer program audition?

easy answer: be good.

If you are thinking, “WTF?” Then you probably aren’t ready for a summer program. Sorry not sorry? Just kidding. But, on a more serious note, you do have to be technically sound for your age. As directors leading auditions, they do take in to consideration: body type, technical ability, work ethic, musicality which unfortunately out weighs potential and love of ballet.

So, if you are ready to audition for a summer program here are some tips:

1. Make sure you do exactly what they ask with port de bras. This includes the preparation. Just because at your school they do a different one, and it is probably engrained into your body, it doesn’t matter. You have to do exactly what they ask. Listen to key words while the teacher is giving the combination; like accent, slice, long, expand. These are qualities, subtle nuances and tips they are basically feeding you. This is what they are looking for.

2. Your audition class is not a warm up. Make sure you get there early enough to stretch, warm up, and basically do a little barre work prior to the audition. Yes, as barre during training is used to warm up and get on your leg… Audition classes are far from that. And as much as people say to just try your best, and relax, the pressure is immense. When auditions say this is just another class, they are basically lying to you because this class will determine whether or not you get in, and get a scholarship…

3. Presentation is everything. I am not talking about port de bras. I’m not talking about musicality, I am talking about what you are wearing. Find a leotard that is super flattering, make sure your tights don’t have holes, and clean up your ballet shoes.  Make sure your hair is performance quality, and a little make up wouldn’t hurt either.

4. Don’t over do it. Don’t be one of this kids in the audition who “feels” the music, and is giving us swan lake realness, or Giselle drama in class… This is dancing, not acting. There is nothing worse than an affected dancer. Directors want to see clean technique so they can mold you into what they want. You have to be pliable both physically, mentally and musically.

5. Don’t starve yourself before an audition. It doesn’t help you. Make sure the night before, or the morning before you get enough protein, and prior to the class make sure you have taken enough carbs in to get you through the class at 110%.

6. Try not to compare yourself. I mean, everyone sizes up the competition in the room, but just because she has leg up during warm up, doesn’t mean she has clean technique. Or if you see a girl obsessively stretching her feet, when she has beautiful feet, she might just only have… Beautiful feet. And definitely ignore the girl wearing the white leotard when the audition clearly asked for black leotard.

7. The most important thing in an audition is to become unforgettable. In a good way. You want to make a great impression on whoever is judging the class. For example, if they give you a correction, don’t just stand there and nod, actually do the correction a few times to show you are getting it into your body. My thing was always in plies, to look supper effortless, and that moment right before you grand plie, looking the director right in the eyes slightly smiling. Tendus, well I don’t have Alessandra Ferri feet, so I would just try to do exactly what they asked. Whether it be over articulation of the foot, precise accents, over crossed, lifting to come in, the list goes on, but basically trying to do exactly what they were looking for. Then I would try to make an impression during frappes but being super precise and trying to leave the “strike” out there as long as possible. Tendus at center was another chance to make an impression because you can be super musical and elongated. Adagio was always a plus for me as a boy since leg up was easier than turning. Pirouettes I would stick to a clean triple. Definitely was not one of the boys cranking out a million turns. Then petit allegro would be another chance for me to make an impression by being super exact, hitting tight fifths every time, and then beating absurdly. Grand allegro was not my thing either, so I tried my best, and double tours, well, needless to say I would try to make them as clean as possible.