Robbie Downey and Oscar Lagana of Phoenix Ballet take on the classic Sugar Plum Grand Pas. This young talented couple makes their debut together at the Orpheum Theatre. It isn’t too late to get tickets. Click here to buy. Photos by me.
It is that time of the year again…. Nutcracker. Support your local ballet school or company by attending this wonderful holiday tradition. We are days away to close our Nutcracker Kickstarter campaign, and unforutnately, it doesn’t look like it will come to fruition. But, I will relaunch the campaign in the New Year, focusing on next year.
This season I was lucky enough to coach for beautiful Sugar Plums for Phoenix Ballet’s Nutcracker. They included social media star Robbie Downey, YAGP winner Mya Kresniak, YAGP winner Madison Penney, and the elegant Kenzie Thomas. All four young women are so different and took on the role so differently. It reminded me about how wonderful an oppertunitiy to dance a principal role is. These four girls are about to make their debut in Arizona and headline a show.
Now, I am on the opposite side of the country coaching talented young women for the YAGP. These roles are so difficult but it is so amazing to see the attack and dedication these young women have. While Baltimore is cold, the experience here has been amazing.
Finally, don’t forget Issue 8 is out!
Between the holiday parties and preparing for Black Friday sales, the ballet world is faced with our dreaded, but magical annual tradition of The Nutcracker. Every year around this time, whether it be at Starbucks, the bank or even at some retail store, I am standing around minding my own business… and then it comes on the speakers. That dreadful tune that ushers in the Holiday Season.
While the majority of the world associates it with that one song from that one commercial, ballet dancers around the world hear it and immediately identify the composer, the act, the choreography and the costumes. Yes, it is the Nutcracker.
Recently, I was standing in line with my pas de deux partner, and the music for Snow Pas came on. While it is one of the most beautiful pieces composes for the Nutcracker, we immediately looked at each other with fear in our eyes. Yes, fear. We had just started rehearsals with new choreography knowing that the show goes up in three weeks. We both haven’t been on stage for more than four years, and we immediately decided to order skinny lattes knowing we are about to be in white tights. So, in the tradition of Nutcracker, and in a Ballet Education’s five things…
You Know It’s Nutcracker When…
1. You hear Nutcracker music outside of ballet and want to kill yourself.
2. 1/3 of your company is injured, or battling tendonitis, but still powering through ridiculously long rehearsals that you don’t want to be in.
3. You know every part of Nutcracker, but still are forced to rehearse, clean and tech it all. In fact, you have probably danced every part of Nutcracker at some point of your life and could probably stage it all, with your eyes closed.
4. This time of the year everyone is all about the holiday cheer and festivities, but you are the most tired you have ever been. You want to crawl into a ball and die. You still have to rehearse everything else outside of Nutcracker for the upcoming season’s bills, so your mind is on overload. It is just yucky.
5. You are a boy, and its Nut season and all you want to do is be Kyra Nichols as Dewdrop. Yes, you want to be Balanchine’s infamous Dewdrop and dance the most beautiful entrances, have the most swayed back ever, and dance to the loveliest of music.
Here are some of last year’s Nutcracker Posts:
THE BEAST THAT IS THE NUTCRACKER
Tomorrow morning, I’m going LIVE from Master Ballet Academy’s Phoenix Ballet for Robbie Downey (@balletbabble / @balletfreak) on her FACEBOOK LIVE! Or are you in Arizona? ALL FREE at 7625 E Redfield Rd. Suite 400 Scottsdale, AZ 85260
Who might you see perform live? The extremely talented girls at Masters…the incredibly long list of Social media sensations like Kenzie Thomas, Juliet Doherty, Ashlyn Mae & more.
(Photo by Brad Olson)
Catching up with social media sensation, entrepreneur, and ballet dancer Robbie Downey. And, if you don’t know who she is, she is the eighteen-year-old who everyone has grown up with online. Catching the first wave of youtube channels five years back, Robbie Downey has documented her ballet journey through various social media platforms. So, this cool kid took some time in between sessions at the YAGP FINALS to meet up with a Ballet Education. Between social media accounts with a huge following, and dealing with her own personal ballet journey, Robbie Downey is the voice of positivity. Unfortunately, she didn’t make it to the final round, but she has hopes for scholarships. That is the great thing at the YAGP, you don’t have to make it to the final round to still get a scholarship spot. So, if you don’t follow her, this San Diego native has spent a year at Ellison and now is at Masters in Scottsdale, AZ. She has battled injuries and documents her journey all over social media. Agreeing that in ballet, exposure these days can make or break a career, and with her half a million followers, she has it.
So, how does she juggle it all? With the help of her mom.
How do you take your coffee? Prefers Green Tea
Last movie you watched? Don’t Breathe
Current Song/Playlist: anything by Muse
What does she want out of her dancing? To inspire others and to balance it with dancing for herself.
Favorite thing to do when not doing ballet? Eating good vegan food.
Where to next for ballet? Possibly Spain.
Follow this cool kid on instagram:
@balletfreak / @balletbabble @its_robbie_
Follow her on Youtube: MydanceTV
Shop her brand: Farina.
Like on Facebook: Facebook.
Photos by me 🙂
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…
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.
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
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
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
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.
Het/Dutch National Ballet
National Ballet of Canada for Le Petit Prince
Royal Sweedish Ballet
Miami City Ballet
Best Repertory for the 2015-2016 season
Het Nationale Ballet, Artistic Director Ted Brandsen
Thier next season looks pretty amazing as well…
Paris Opera Ballet
New York City Ballet
American Ballet Theatre
Most Inspiring Company
Australian Ballet, editor’s pick Jacquelyn Bernard
Pacific Northwest Ballet
San Francisco 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…
And the winner is…
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