Sunday, May 20, 2018

Recital makeup checklist!

It's that time of year again: dance recital!

Whether you're the parent of a child dancer, a teen going on-stage with their school's company, or an adult like any of the sixteen who are performing my excerpts from Cinderella on June 3rd at the Norris Theatre in Palos Verdes (hint, hint!), you need to know about stage makeup.

Leigh Purtill Ballet Company's company manager, Rachel Swetnam (our Juliet in last year's production of Sweet Sorrow), held a makeup tutorial session yesterday to help some of our newest dancers who aren't as familiar with all the things you need when you go on stage.

Rachel's motto: "Scary makeup in person is just-right on stage."

Rachel not only helped these newer dancers, she also created a checklist for a "performance toolkit" that you should take with you whenever you perform. It's a cheat sheet of items that you will likely need, especially if you are a ballet dancer. Other groups, such as competition teams, might have other needs, but this is a basic guideline for most disciplines.

Here are some fun photos from her tutorial yesterday:






And here is the checklist! Do YOU have everything you need to perform?

Happy dancing~

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Vacation dates, recital tickets, and new t-shirt!

Hello beautiful dancers, friends and students!

For those of you I haven't seen in class and whose email I might not have, please note I will be on vacation from Tuesday, May 22-Monday, May 28. There will be no classes while I'm gone:

--at Dance Arts Academy on Tuesday 5/22 & Thursday 5/24
--at Inspire Dance Studio on Wednesday 5/23, Saturday 5/26 & Monday 5/28

I WILL be teaching as usual at Inspire on Monday 5/21 and will be back to teach at Dance Arts on Tuesday 5/29. If you have questions, just ask. :) And if the question is why am I going out of town, the answer is: college reunion! Yes, it's a big one and I couldn't not attend. It's also a good chance to see my family on the east coast.

I'm sorry for any inconvenience this may cause you. After this absence, I promise I will be in town for the rest of the year!

As soon as I get back, we will be doing our spring recital on June 3rd at the Norris Theatre in Palos Verdes. Shows are at 1PM and 4PM. My dancers will be doing three excerpts from Cinderella that I choreographed with costumes by Nana Chin and Wilma Woo. You can get tickets here.

And one last item: new t-shirts! The always-amazing, multi-talented, super-gifted Bill Reiss has designed a brand new shirt for the recital but honestly, I would wear it all year round. It looks beautiful on black; the colors are vibrant and the movement is so joyful. Each is $20. Below is the design and you can purchase them here.

That's it for a week or so. If I don't see you before my mini-vacay, have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend and I will see you right after the holiday. Cheers and happy dancing!

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Heels out, toes in

In physics, scientists are always looking for universal elements (see Unified Field Theory as an example), things that are true throughout the universe that can be applied in every situation.

Let's face it, it's a lot easier to say we should always hold our arms like this or we should always tilt our heads like that. But we don't. There are lots of different styles of ballet.

Still, that doesn't stop us from trying to find them! Rules, give us rules! We are disciplined ballet dancers who want to do everything right.

Here is one possible addition to our Unified Ballet Theory:

Heels out, toes in.

That is, every movement from our centers outward and away from our bodies, whether that is a battement tendu or a developpe devant  or even a retire, needs to begin with the heel of the foot moving first and then returning to the position (or the center of the body) with the toes.

Try it yourself.

1. Start in fifth position, right foot in front.
2. Using the heel of the right foot, begin to slide it en avant as you perform a tendu.
3. Notice how the heel stays lifted and the foot's arch is nicely curved as you stretch it all the way forward.
4. Now, using the toes of the right foot, pull it back to your fifth position and nestle it snugly against the instep of your left foot.
5. Feel how the muscles at the top of your leg are engaged and your rotation is being used as the foot returns to 5th.

Repeat the exercise with degage, grand battement, rond de jambe a terre, etc. Anything you want! And definitely try this a la seconde and  en arriere. It works!

Happy dancing~
Photo Alicia Heaney, CC Lic

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Screws and nails - dig deep into your toolbox!

As always, I am inspired by my students to write a blog post.

Last night, I was teaching my beginners an adagio in the center, which required them to shift from two feet (fifth position) to one (a developpe en avant). What frequently happens when we do this is we allow the knee of the support leg to get soft as we move the gesture leg through developpe. It's a common problem, kind of a "sympathy" bending when one leg bends because the other is too.

I often use the imagery of a barbershop pole to imitate the spiraling action of the leg in rotation but another way to look at it is

Screw vs Nail

Reach down into your toolbox (both your literal and figurative ones) and find a nail. It's got a nice sharp end and it's super straight, which are equally good images for a long spine and alignment of torso over feet. But it's smooth, right? It has no edges, nothing to grip.

Home Depot image
Now take out your screw. It's got grooves that grip whatever it's being drilled into, yes? Whether it's a Phillips head or a flat head, it will spiral into the wood or other material and the threads of the screw will hold it into place more firmly than a smooth nail.

Home Depot image

Your legs need to be screws, not nails. They need to be threaded and grooved so they rotate down into the floor and hold very solidly. This will make your knee far more stable than just a straight nail (leg) that tends to bend or become soft during developpe or pirouette, etc.

Now add that image to your dancer's toolbox! Happy dancing~

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

No classes 4/19 and 4/21

Hello beautiful local dancers!

Just a reminder that there are NO CLASSES on Thursday, April 19 and Saturday, April 21.

There are classes tonight, Wednesday (intermediate at 6:30P and beginner at 8P) and I will be teaching as usual on Monday, April 23.


Happy dancing!