Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Update for Summer Schedule

Hello beautiful dancers!

A couple of notes for summer...

1. Memorial Day weekend - ALL classes as usual throughout the long weekend.

2. Summer subbing - on Thursday mornings, June 1-July 20, I will be subbing for Carol Guidry at Studio A in Silverlake, 10:15-11:45AM. The class will be similar in level to my Tues/Thurs evening classes. Fee is $15, cash only. (No credit card/check/class cards for these classes.)

AND Congrats to all my students who performed on Sunday!

Would you like to perform with a lovely group of dancers? Save the Date for Nutcracker: 11/19!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

A Trio of Tips for Thursday!

Not one but 3! No matter what level you are, I have a helpful dance tip for you!

1. Beginner:

Promenade - one of the biggest errors I see in students attempting promenade (which is a series of small heel lifts to turn in place and can be executed in arabesque, attitude, retire, etc.) is that they begin the movement with their hips, knees or shoulders. 

The very first thing you do to begin a promenade is to lift the heel. There should be no weight at the back of the foot during promenade or else you will find yourself rocking back and forth and eventually falling off your leg. Unless otherwise choreographed, you should keep a very straight support leg with knees pulled up by your quads and hamstrings. As you turn in place, do not allow the support leg to bend or the knee to go soft. Maintain the position you are turning in by lifting and lowering the heel by about 1/4" or 1/2" but not usually more than that.

2. Intermediate:

Pirouette arms - in my ongoing quest to dissect and diagnose pirouettes and to offer guidance to students who struggle, I would have to say the #1 problem I see is the arms are not held in front of the body for the entire turn. Whatever position you are taught (a classic first position, a higher first position, a portrait style low first position, crossed arms, etc.) you must keep them in front of you until you finish the turn and roll down.

Pirouette anxiety, whether you are working flat or en pointe, usually causes us to pull back with our upper body. We fear falling which often makes us collapse in our centers. Our shoulders slump or roll and our arms droop or get left behind during the turn. Some of us fling our arms open to second long before the turn is completed.

Instead, try to bring the arms very quickly to your first position as you push up to releve and hold them there! Don't let them open or drop until you have completed the turn and can see yourself in the mirror in retire before you open the arms and roll down. I can virtually guarantee you that your turns will improve if you do this.

3: Advanced:

Finishing the lines - some of the most beautiful things in ballet are the lines that are created on stage. For example, an arabesque does not need to be higher than ninety degrees to be gorgeous but it does need to be finished. Same with arms: they may swirl and swish through the air but when they are posed, they must be finished with fingers extended and elbows lifted. How many times have you been in the audience and gasped at the stunning lines of professional ballerinas? They know how to get very last inch out of their legs and arms.

You can too! But you must focus on arching the top and bottom of your foot, reaching through your back to the palms and fingers of your hands, lengthening the back of your neck and holding a strong core. When you practice these things at the barre (rather than simply flinging your arms and feet away from you), you will have beautiful lines in the center. Your movements will be complete and you will avoid that weird strobe effect that you see on stage. If you are in the corps, you absolutely must finish your lines or you will look out of sync with the other dancers.

Hope these tips help you! Happy dancing~

Monday, May 1, 2017


Hello beautiful dancers and friends!

Many of you following me on Facebook know the Leigh Purtill Ballet Company's first production of SWEET SORROW, A ZOMBIE BALLET is October 8, at 4PM and 7PM at the Lanterman Auditorium in La Canada. If you're in town, I hope you'll come see us! And if you're not in town, then why not get a cool t-shirt instead?

But you don't have to live around here to enjoy the trailers that Rachel Swetnam (our Juliet!) put together. Check them out! The first one is a bit of a teaser:

While the second one is a behind-the-scenes peek! (Hey, that's me!)

Enjoy! And please share! We want everyone to know about our new company and our first big show.

Happy dancing~

Friday, April 21, 2017

Friday Fun Links! Interviews & More!

Hello beautiful dancers and Happy Friday!

If you're not on Facebook, you probably haven't seen the interview links I posted on my Leigh Purtill Ballet page. I was so honored and thrilled to be interviewed on 2 different sites, one an e-zine called Voyage LA as one of their "Inspiring Stories" (what?!!) and the other a dancewear site called BDancewear. I love BDancewear's blog because they offer all kinds of super cool DIY costume hacks and tricks. Check them out!

Here is the link to the Voyage LA article (feel free to comment and please re-post if you like! Thank you!).

And the link to the BDancewear interview (again, a comment is always awesome and it's nice to get retweets/posts/likes! Thank you!).

In both interviews, I try to let people know about my personal teaching philosophy as well as all the wonderful students who dance with me. They are the reason I do what I do! (Yes, YOU!)

So those were the interview links....what about the MORE?

How about a link to a gorgeous new t-shirt, designed by my student and soon-to-be Romeo in SWEET SORROW, A ZOMBIE BALLET? That's right, Bill Reiss - an incredibly talented artist - has designed another amazing shirt. You will probably want one in black and maybe another one in white and possibly one as a gift for a friend. Great quality shirts, as usual from Galloree, with organic cotton that holds its shape and colors really well. Best of all, the profits on the shirts go to the new ballet company, Leigh Purtill Ballet Company. It's a great deal for you because you get a really super cool new shirt for an excellent price and a deal for us because we, well, we need the cash to get our company up and running. (And we have a production in October!)

Want one? Check out the shirts here!

 And one last self-serving link: my website has been redesigned by student and company member Celia Green. It's got info for both my classes and the nonprofit ballet company. Pictures, blogs, social media links and much more. Take a look!

Okay, that's a lot of links. Enjoy the weekend! Happy dancing~

Monday, April 17, 2017

Introducing LPBC and Sweet Sorrow!

Hello everyone!

Some of you may know that I recently formed a nonprofit ballet company called Leigh Purtill Ballet Company. I did this because I wanted to create an opportunity for adult ballet dancers of all skill levels, backgrounds, and ages to perform; to present ballet to a diverse audience which might not normally seek out ballet performances; and to do what I can to foster ballet as an inclusive art form.

It is my belief that ballet is for everyone.

For eight years I have been developing an original ballet called SWEET SORROW which is loosely based on my novel of the same name. It's a sequel of sorts to Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare - which is why A ZOMBIE BALLET is its subtitle. Because Romeo and Juliet are dead.

Structurally, the ballet follows a similar trajectory to the classic Nutcracker, a winter holiday favorite and one that audiences are familiar with. But the story itself is a unique one: at the funeral for Romeo and Juliet, a strange woman raises the lovers from the dead with a potion. While others cringe and run away, only Juliet's cousin Rosaline is intrigued. In the cemetery, Rosaline meets the woman again who reveals herself to be Queen of the Zombies. She uses her horde of beautiful dead ballerinas to entice Rosaline to consume a potion and follow her to the Underworld, where she meets Vampires, Witches - and Romeo and Juliet.

We've performed small sections of this with various dancers, both modern and classical, and in various venues. Invariably the question from the audience is always the same: when is there going to be MORE?

The answer is: October 8, 2017 at 4PM and 7PM at the Lanterman Auditorium, a theater in La Canada not far from where I teach and rehearse. We are over-the-moon excited! Every single dancer involved has been magnanimous with his or her time, energy and resources. I am so proud to be presenting this passion project of mine with these wonderful people.

While SWEET SORROW is the first original production for LPBC, it will not be the only one. We have much more in store for our future!

Two weeks ago we launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for theater rental, costumes, rehearsal space, and so on. We are a 501(c)(3) and all donations are tax-deductible. On our campaign page, you will see a trailer (created by Rachel Swetnam, our Juliet) and some stunning artwork (designed by Bill Reiss, our Romeo). We need to get the company up and running!

The campaign continues for another week. If you can donate, wonderful! If you can share the link and info, terrific! And if you're in town on October 8, I hope you'll make plans to see the show.

Thank you for your support. Happy dancing~