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12.30.2008: Overheard in CCDC Stay In Shape Class

"Think about the corrections you normally get after a layoff and apply them ahead of time."

"Don't rush! The music is slow for a reason! Smooth, continuous. We'll go faster in a second. Never stop moving. Never stop growing. Never stop turning out."

"Lengthen that lower back. Roll those shoulders under. Lengthen that neck. Inhale and use your back to lift that chin. Focus higher. Do all the things that seperate dancers from non-dancers."

"Y'all have long legs, but, that's not good enough! They have to be stretched!"

"You can be the longest light bulb in the box, but, if you don't show some energy, show some electricity, you'll just be a dim bulb! And, no lighting director will ever cast you in the spotlight!"

"Train now, get ready NOW, for your next audition."

"I'm still waiting for no weight in your heels!"

"Don't drop just because you finish your jump! Be like Baryshnikov! Don't stop trying to go up just because you're coming down!"

"Faster than you wanna go. Slower than you wanna go. Higher, farther, quicker, deeper. Cleaner than you wanna be. Get outta your comfort zone!"

"Don't make it easy for someone to cut you at an audition. The first cuts are always the easiest. Someone shows bad technique, forgets or can't get a combination. Those are the first to go. Don't ever give them an excuse to cut you! Be a better and more complete dancer than your competition will ever be!"

"You can begin today. It starts right now. It starts right here."

12.30.2008: Set Those DVR's!o)

Here's a ballet performance tip coming up on CBS tonight. Get the details from the Critic's Corner in USA Today

12.26.2008: Sing-A-Lot, Dance-A-Lot, Laff-A-Lot...SPAMalot!

The first big number of the entire Tony Award winning musical, Monty Python's SPAMalot, starts off on the right foot, the right note...but, a wrong premise:
"I say! I said 'England' now, didn't I!"
...and the entire Fisch Schlapping tribute to Finland by the garishly dressed, but, pleasant peasants of Moose Village comes to a grinding, but, fishy, finny and hilarious halt! And, SPAMalot just takes off from there. It manages to skewer almost every politically-correct stereotype from England to France, from the Mighty Portcullis to parts of The Very Expensive Forest. If you aren't personally made ribald and flatulent fun of, with broad strokes of a broadsword, you might cringe in sympathy with Finns, gays, Jews, the French, the English...and, Michael Moore, Tom Vilsack and Cloris Leachman! The plot of SPAMalot is loosely based on the Monty Python and the Search For The Holy Grail movie. I dimly recall seeing the film once and not being amused much (Why 2K??), but, this musical is an entirely different and much more tickle-bone tackling take! Even after a long-day of racing rats, being ganged-tackled by Mother Nature, Jack Frost and Old Man Winter and, then, teaching and seriously considering just staying home that evening, the show made me laugh out loud, long and often. The jokes and asides come fast and furious. If you miss something in the singing or due to the accent, don't worry, another insult or joke or killer rabbit or cow will be catapulted your way quickly. The cast is multi-talented and blessed with droll, comic timing. Jonathan Hadary as King Arthur looks like a smaller Terry Branstad, and almost as funny. The four French Knights, with Mathew Greer as the lead Taunter, are comedic "killers". Brad Braley (Patsy), Mathew Greer (Sir Lancelot), Christopher Sutton (Not Dead Fred, Prince Herbert) all have star-turns. But, perhaps the scene-stealer for me was actually an understudy: Lynn Philistine took over and made the role of The Lady of the Lake absolutely her own. Obvious operatic training and a diva-licious take on the Arthurian legend as well as a spot-on Cher impersonation...what's not to like? If Philistine was this good, I wonder how much better the actual lead, Esther Stilwell, can be? Maybe shorter, because the statuesque Philistine manages to tower over the diminuitive Hadary during their duet. Or, maybe, taller because that's also hilarious as well! Monty Python's SPAMalot playing at the Civic Center through the weekend! Like the man said, "Singalot, dancealot, laffalot....SPAMalot!"

12.23.2008: Foot-Warming Story

Here's a personal product review of my new "dancer booties". Designed by Irina Dvorovenko (and why isn't it the feminine Dvorovenkova?) and her dancer-hubbie, Maxim Beloserkovsky this is how they're described on the Discount Dance website:
"Irina and Max Booties

These Irina and Max booties by Bloch® are the latest trend among dancers. The comfortable nylon shell is filled with a 100% Polyester filling. These booties offer exceptional warmth without a lot of extra weight. Keep your feet warm while providing the ultimate in comfort with the cushioned insole..."

...and, for an early Christmas present, instead of "coal" in my stocking, I got "charcoal", the charcoal and black booties for my shivering feet, that is. At first blush, I like these a lot. My last good pair of booties were filled with goosedown, but, as they started getting older and holier-than-thou, I started leaving little feathers all over the studio. This didn't sit well with the students on work-scholarship charged with cleaning up after me, so, I reluctantly retired that pair. But, these new Irina and Max booties keep my feet just as warm as down, and, hopefully, won't leave little reminders of me all over the dance floor like an old, moulting, revolting Odette/Odile tutu. We'll just have to see how they wear after a year or two of daily use.

I also like the adjustable velcro heel strap. An earlier pair I owned tended to twist around my ankles when I tried to demonstrate tendus. But, the velcro fasteners around the top are more decorative than functional. I pull them on and off without even opening those fasteners. And, there is foam padding that cushion the feet from the floor. I've some mixed feelings on that. I actually liked another pair that I could dance, demonstrate, turn and teach in. But, having secure traction and good protection from concrete floors around the theater is the trade-off. Bottom line on my bottom-warming booties is: they keep my tootsies toasty! So, don't get "cold feet" if you're thinking about this purchase! Two thumbs...or two big toes up on these dancer booties!o) The price you pay will be worth it if you dance everyday. Also, if you don't have to have another pair right away, you might want to wait for their occasional "free shipping" promotions. Don't confuse those with the "free shipping upgrades".

12.22.2008: Seeing Is Believing

I've been asked to post the weblink of the dancer with those seamless floating fouette's I've been sharing with classes on my iPod recently. And, here it is courtesy of YouTube and the Anaheim Ballet. BTW, also notice the ridiculous ease with which Aria performs the normally ridiculously difficult penche' en pointe. Also, for those CCDC students taking the advanced Balanchine ballet class, those are a good example of what are called neo-classical or Balanchine arms and Port de Bras. Nearly fully-extended and stretched, higher than classical arms. You should train to be comfortable in either style. And, you might wanna subscribe to that video podcast on iTunes or YouTube as well.

12.19.2008: Overheard in CCDC Pas De Deux Class

"Okay, now that we have some new partnering students in class, we're going to crank it back down. Let's start with just some basic balances for you new guys. You advanced partners can do the combinations we did last week."

"In pas de deux, balance is no longer your responsibility, girls. Your job is to make beautiful pictures. Guys, it's your job to keep the girl on balance as much as you can and help make her look beautiful."

"Think of balancing the girls mainly with your legs, guys. Your arms are for the details."

"Watch the inside line of the leg the girl is standing on. When that's straight up and down, she's on balance, guys. When it's not, she's not. This should really help your promenades."

"One hand pushes forward, the other hand pulls back during your promenades, guys. Girls, as always, turn-out to turn. And, the picture needs to improve as always."

"The weight you feel in your hands should be equal for the most part. If there's more weight in one hand than the other, most likely the girl's off balance."

"Don't be afraid to put your hands on your girl! Partner with authority! You have permission to touch the girls...but, only in this class!"

12.18.2008: Limited Time Offer

Some of these clearance prices made my eyebrows temps leve'!
"...Freed Maker S0111SP *Clearance*
Price: $40.00

**Clearance** Grishko Vaganova Pointe Shoes
Price: $27.50

Price: $29.00

So Danca Grand Pas CK01 ~Clearance~
Price: $30.00..."

Always in the market for a bargain? Check out Back Bay Dancewear. But, keep this caveat in mind:
"...Pointe Shoe Returns: Orders for multiple pairs of pointe shoes, if returned, will be subject to a 20% re-stocking charge...."
and here's a virtual plethora, a litany, a cornucopia of ballet websites

12.17.2008: The Other Nutty Treat

Plenty of opportunity to watch or tape if you miss tonight's broadcast:
Dance In America: San Francisco Ballet's Nutcracker
TV Schedule:
  • Wed, December 17, 2008 7:00 PM (IPTV HD)
  • Wed, December 17, 2008 7:00 PM (IPTV)
  • Wed, December 17, 2008 10:00 PM (IPTV HD)
  • Thu, December 18, 2008 10:00 AM (IPTV HD)
  • Fri, December 19, 2008 1:00 AM (IPTV HD)
Find out more here or here.

12.17.2008: Christmas Treat!

If you haven't been driven Nutty already, a "Behind the scenes at the Nutcracker with the Pennyslvania Ballet (video)" here. They really look like they do this one right. Good costuming (love those mice!o), good dancing, no Irish step-dancers, no excerpts from Swan Lake!o) ...just sayin!

12.16.2008: Overheard in CCDC Pas De Deux Class

"Since all the guys here have done partnering before we're going to skip the basics and go immediately to intermediate pas de deux. When we get some new guys in, we'll do a two tier system."

"...but, that doesn't mean you get to forget the basics, girls! Everywhere the guy touches you, you have to pull in and lift-up!"

"Guys, don't forget! Manipulate the bones and the muscles will follow. Move the muscles and the bones won't necessarily follow. Partner the bone structure whenever you can, guys!"

"Remember to slow down that jump so the guy can get your timing, girls!"

"You have to arch that upper body more so the guy has something to lift!"

"On overhead lifts, keep your arms by your ears, guys! And, keep your eyes on your girls! You can see her go off-balance overhead faster than you can feel it!"

"Learn what it feels like to do 5-or-6 turns! Remember that feeling when you're in center by yourself! Recreate it on your own!"

"Start the promenade with the inside leg. Turn your hips and walk, guys. Don't do the sidewise crab shuffle if you can avoid it!"

"Stay up on that fouette', girls! Let the guy start the movement! You don't get a fondu here!"

"Okay, girls! Start recruiting more guys for this class!"

12.15.2008: The Web Lynx Prowlz

Nutty tropical tradition:
"...Browning is among dozens of other young dancers with the Hawaii State Ballet gearing up for The Nutcracker..."
...You can take the boy out of the islands, but, you can't stop him from "surfing" back to the sunny shores thanks to The Honolulu Advertiser.
Are you thinking of starting, maintaining or resurrecting a ballet company?
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Dance Companies
The full Pas de Sept at The Dance Journal
Got that last item from the new...
" keeps you updated on posts from Dance Bloggers around the world..."

Hmmm...set your DVRs now!
"...Last year SFB’s Nutcracker was filmed to be part of PBS’s Great Performances and it is airing on December 17th and I highly recommend you all try to catch it on TV. (It’s also for sale online here)..."
...that's from one of my favorite dance websites, The Winger.Com.
Catching up with another former-dancer-turned writer:
"...There was a man who played the piano brilliantly. He was a world famous concert pianist. One day, after a performance, a man came to him and said, 'I would give up everything in my life to play the piano the way you do.' The pianist said, 'I did.'

'That’s sad,' I said.

(But, he said,) 'When I tell that story, everyone always says it’s sad, but it isn’t. There is nothing sad about devoting yourself to art'...”

...Due to the PG-rating of the rest of the column no direct weblink will be provided. If you're interested, you should be able to find it yourself!o)

12.12.2008: Capital City Arts Action

Tickets now on sale for The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Dec. 12-21, at The Playhouse. All seats this year are just $10 and may be purchased at The Playhouse ticket office or on-line.

The Herdmans are the worst kids in the history of the world. They lie, steal and smoke cigars (even the girls). When they take over the church play, everyone wonders if this will be the best Christmas pageant ever, or just the most memorable. Now in its 18th season, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is a holiday tradition.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever cast of 53 is co-directed by Rusk Dorsett and Brandon Lee, with music direction by Robin Heldt Spahr.

The University of Iowa Division of Continuing Education is offering the course Dance and Society (course number 188:080:EXZ) during the spring 2009 session. This web-based course explores dance as an expression of the human condition and examines dance in relation to societal developments. It considers various forms of dance such as ethnic, ballet, modern, tap, and jazz.

Offered as a Guided Independent Study course, Dance and Society incorporates the use of textbooks, videos, and written assignments. There are also two exams. The course awards three semester hours of regular undergraduate college credit. Designed for non-dance majors, the material may be of interest to persons taking dance lessons through adult education programs, those involved in theater and drama, or anyone who simply enjoys dance.

12.11.2008: College of Knowledge

(Courtesy Newswise) — We all know that exercise is good for us, but why, exactly? What does exercise really do for us, for our bodies, for our minds, for our social lives? Physicians proposing a Top 10 list of reasons to exercise this holiday season.

  1. Exercise helps keep your arteries flexible and malleable, which prevents heart disease and heart attacks.

  2. If you have metabolic syndrome, losing as little as 6.5 percent of your body weight results in substantial reductions in blood pressure, glucose, triglycerides and total cholesterol, all factors that lead to heart disease.

  3. Exercise prevents the growth of fat that surrounds the midsection, which is angry, dynamic fat that actively contributes to diabetes and resulting vision loss and limb amputations.

  4. Fat around the midsection is also associated with inflammation that leads to damaged blood vessels, heart disease, liver disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Exercise helps prevent this.

  5. Exercise lifts your mood by increasing serotonin levels in your brain.

  6. Exercise can be a social activity, which is associated with higher incidence of general happiness.

  7. Strength training improves bone strength and prevents osteoporosis.

  8. Strength training and flexibility helps prevent injuries caused by everyday activities like lifting things and hopping over puddles.

  9. Participating in team sports like flag football, softball, basketball or sand volleyball enhances hand-eye coordination and improves your reflexes.

  10. Exercise tones your muscles and makes you leaner.

(Courtesy Newswise) — Over 60 million American women and 15 million men suffer from the painful dysfunction of the foot Hallux valgus, also called “bunions”. Up to now, conservative treatment without surgery of this mal-positioning of the big toe by has been limited to inflexible night and daytime splints. Bunion Aid, a dynamic, flexible, day or night-time hinged splint launched into the United States from Germany in October 2008, offers effective treatment and pain relief for millions who suffer from this foot dysfunction and may help avoid or postpone or the need for surgery. A recent comparative study measured the reduction of bunions through the use of a rigid night-split, versus Bunion Aid. Results show that mild to moderate mal-positioning can be corrected to normal values with the use of Bunion Aid.

Alpha Orthotics Corporation announced today the results of a comparative radiological study designed to measure the reduction of toe mal-positioning conducted in Germany in Spring 2008. The radiological study, performed by Dr. Klaus A. Milachowski, compared the use of a rigid Hallux valgus night-split and Bunion Aid. The results of the study show that mild to moderate mal- positioning of the big toe can be corrected to normal values with the use of Bunion Aid.

(Courtesy Newswise) — Exercise is good for more than just your waistline. A recent study suggests that regular physical activity can lower a woman’s overall risk of cancer – but only if she gets a good night’s sleep. Otherwise, lack of sleep can undermine exercise’s cancer prevention benefits.
(Courtesy Newswise) — New research at West Virginia University is examining whether a smokeless, spitless tobacco product aimed at young adults is catching on. And the researchers have found that RJ Reynolds’ Camel Snus – touted as a socially acceptable way to satisfy addiction – contains surprisingly high levels of nicotine.

Camel Snus contains more nicotine than most other snuff products,” said Bruce Adkins of the state Division of Tobacco Prevention in Charleston. “In fact, the Camel Snus currently being marketed in West Virginia contains double the nicotine of an earlier tested version sold elsewhere in the United States. This provides a new example of the tobacco companies’ manipulating nicotine levels without informing consumers.”

In contrast, the research findings indicate that the version of Camel Snus currently being sold in West Virginia has double the nicotine compared to an earlier analysis of a test-market version of the same product. “With nicotine levels this high, these products are going to be highly addicting. The public needs this awareness, especially to remind them that there’s no tobacco product that can be used without significant potential health risks,” researchers said.

“We think the target market for snus includes youth – the same way the tobacco companies have marketed to young people for decades. Kids could use it in schools, and teachers wouldn’t even know.”

(Courtesy Newswise) — The temperature might not be the only thing plummeting this winter. Many people also will experience a decrease in their vitamin D levels, which can play a role in heart disease, according to a new review article in Circulation.

Vitamin D deficiency results in part from reduced exposure to sunlight, which is common during cold weather months when days are shorter and more time is spent indoors.

"Chronic vitamin D deficiency may be a culprit in heart disease, high blood pressure and metabolic syndrome," said Sue Penckofer.

(Courtesy Newswise) — A new study shows that when dieters eliminate carbohydrates from their meals, they performed more poorly on memory-based tasks than when they reduce calories, but maintain carbohydrates. When carbohydrates were reintroduced, cognition skills returned to normal. "This study demonstrates that the food you eat can have an immediate impact on cognitive behavior," explains Psychologist Holly A. Taylor. "The popular low-carb, no-carb diets have the strongest potential for negative impact on thinking and cognition."

12.10.2008: Rumor Rider?

A frequent reader writes to refute the persistent rumor of a local danceware store about to go under. She claims it's just been sold to a new owner. And, she says that big "fire sale" they're having is just on discontinued items and not a "going out of business sale". If it's true, that's good news to me. The more local competition the better as far as I'm concerned. But, all this national recession talk just makes me nervous. And, "bricks and mortar" stores are facing a a bigger bite in sales from national and international websites all the time. So, I still stand by that advice to use up all those gift cards and gift certificates you might have bumping around the bottom of your dance bag...or might get this Christmas season. ...just sayin'!

12.09.2008: Character Dancing

CCDC alum Prince Dima-ray stays in touch:
"...I was browsing through youtube and I noticed there were some videos of my dance class/my dance studio where I was dancing. The name of my dance (studio) was "Happy Childhood" in Kharkov, Ukraine. Here are some links for several of the videos. I tried to find them for a long time but they have been recently uploaded.


12.08.2008: Discrete Secret Department

Keep hearing rumblings and grumblings that a local dance ware store is planning on shutting down soon. I'd use those gift-cards ASAP if I were you...

12.08.2008: Capital City Arts Action

CCDC Modern Instructor Alyssa Hamer-Hitz-Homerz sends this heads-up:
"...I believe Kathleen will be sending out a press release for our upcoming show, but if you could post this to let our dancers know about it, that would be awesome!

Hurley and Dancers will be performing...on Thursday, December 18th and Friday, December 19th. Shows are at 7:00 p.m. in the Grand Ballroom at The Temple for Performing Arts (10th and Locust, downtown). (Lindy Vander Emmen) and (Kicelyn R8) will be performing (paid - YAY!) along with two other dancers and me. Ticket information to follow.


12.05.2008: Money4Nothing! GitUrChex4Free!

New IAC Scholarship Deadline - Feb. 9

The annual state Arts Council Scholarship deadline is Monday, Feb. 9, 2009. The scholarship is open to local high school seniors planning to attend an in-state college or university majoring in music, visual arts, photography, drama/theater, creative writing or dance/performing arts. Up to $1,000 per scholarship is available. The application is available at here.

New Grant Deadline for ICCG - Now May 1

Applications for the state Community Cultural Grants (CCG) are due May 1, 2009 for projects taking place July 1 through June 30, 2010. In previous years, the deadline was in February or March. CCG provides matching grants to support projects that provide jobs for current state residents while enhancing artistic, cultural and historical resources. Awards range from $1,000 to $25,000 and are geared toward funding salaries and wages for cultural organization personnel rather than materials or programs. Requests must focus on salary support for current residents.

For more information on ICCG, surf here and click on "Funding."

12.04.2008: Backstage@The Ballet

We have spies everywhere, EVERYWHERE! Don't believe me? Here's a report of a private conversation in the wings during the performance this past weekend:
"...During Sarah's Sat performance of Rose Queen, Shannon happened to be standing in the wings next to the (guest artist) principal ballerina. She turned to Shannon and asked what company Sarah danced for....and was really surprised to learn that Sarah was 'just a student' at Shannon's ballet school!..."
...Another feather in the tiara for CCDC's "charmingly modest" Princess SarAurorah II!

12.03.2008: U Should B In Pix!

Got this in the eMail recently. (Buyer beware!):
America's Next Top Danceware Models Search:
When: Saturday, December 6, 2008
Who We Need: Dancers ages 4-18

What to Wear:
Black Leotard
Suntan or pink tights
Ballet slippers or flat jazz shoes (No character shoes)
Hair pulled up away from face (bun, ponytail, etc.)
Light makeup (Not performance makeup)

White T-Shirt
Black jazz pants
Ballet slippers or jazz shoes

What to Bring:
Completed Curtain Call Model Application.

Four photos as described on application (sorry, photographs will not be returned)

Where to Go: The audition will be held at 333 East Seventh Ave, York, PA 17404.

Driving directions will be provided to you when you confirm your pre-registration.

Please Pre-Register to: by Wednesday, December 3, 2008 - be sure to include your age so we can place you in the correct audition group.

Important Notes: Models must be a current dance student to participate in audition.

Due to limited space, please limit extra family members at the audition. Only one parent/guardian will be admitted per model.

If you are unable to attend the audition and are still interested in becoming a Curtain Call Model, email to make alternate arrangements.

In the event of inclement weather, call 717-852-6923. there will be a message letting you know if the audition is still taking place, and an alternate date will be provided at that time if necessary.

If selected, photo shoots will be held on weekdays from January through May in Lebanon, PA.

12.02.2008: The Reviews R In

First of all, don't expect me to try to do an official review of any production that we're actually involved in. But, here are some excerpts of recent emails about the show we helped choreograph and rehearse:
"...Congratulations to you and your students on a great Nutcracker! I didn't realize how much your students contributed to the quality of the performance until I read the list in your ad in the program.

Your work on the Merlitons variation really showed. The choreography was interesting. I especially liked the complicated promenade with 3 dancers supporting the 4th. The dancing was clean and precise yet appeared effortless.

Your presence at each performance and conducting warm-up class for everyone was so helpful. The trust and appreciation your students have for you was palpable as they looked to both of you for support, encouragement, comfort, and well-earned praise.

Keep up the good work,

'An appreciative parent'..."

"...We enjoyed the performance. My wife has never seen a ballet performance so I think she enjoyed it. Well, no, we went to see Ballet Hispanico once.

Personally, I expected a bit more from the professional couple but they did ok. Merlitons were great though clearly stood out from the rest of the group. Spanish and Arabian were ok. Sean has improved since last time I saw him dance in recital. Catherine W. did well. The guys in Hungarian could've had more practice and the choreography needed some work, I thought. Ben R. however, stood out from the group in that dance. Other than that, it certainly brought some memories..."

...What do you think? Just ignore the fact that we slaved, toiled and worked our fingers to the bone on this show!o) We had to bourre' to the studio on deshanks, through the freezing snow of fall and burning sun of late summer ...uphill both ways! Send any praise, well-wishes and financial contributions here. Send any constructive criticism, negativity or carping complaints here!o)

12.01.2008: Merde Deconstructed

Dear GoCCDancedoC: "I see on your ad inside the program...that you have 'Merde to our dancers!' What does this mean?"

GoCCDancedoC replies:"Most people know that it's "bad luck" to say "good luck" to actors and that "break a leg" is the preferred term used by well-wishers in the theater tradition. That custom is traced back to ancient thespians and an effort to "confuse" any eavesdropping spirits who would presumably target anyone who was wished good luck with the opposite.

However, it's also considered "bad luck" to wish dancers to "break a leg" because of the very real risk of injury. Instead, ballet dancers and, now, dancers of almost every discipline use the French vulgar term for excrement or "merde" to express good wishes before performances. A very superstitious dancer may just ignore anyone who wishes them "good luck" or "break a leg". Refusing to acknowledge the statement would "help" confuse the spirits. The old custom was to wish "merde" and spit over the shoulder, but, thankfully, that last part has been mostly abandoned. I expect our hyper-health conscious American society would frown on that expectorating custom, but, you may still run into it more frequently in Europe. But, even now, some dancers or former dancers in the USA will lick their thumbs and put a dab of saliva on the side of the dancer's neck after saying "merde".

I also used to date an aspiring opera singer who told me they wished each other to "sprain a vocal cord" before their performances, but, that may just have been a regional affectation and adaptation.

BTW, when spoken, "merde" rhymes with "cared", but with a throaty, single-rolled 'r' and softer 'd', Mair-dt..."

11.30.2008: Nip It In The Bud!

"To err is human. To forgive, divine." Meaning, if you're human, you will make a mistake on stage. But, if you're not careful, that mistake can multiply into many more. So, you have to seal off an error and not let it affect anything else. Remember, you can only perform in the here and now. Don't let a mistake in the past---and, as soon as it's done, it's over. Make sure it's over!---distract you from your on-going performance. Don't worry, you'll have lots of time to fret and fume over your faux pas later. (I find they tend to come back to haunt me just as I try to sleep!o) Be a professional about any mistake: forget about it until you're done for the night. Move on with your movements! Just learn from the misstep or missed step quickly, don't repeat it again and don't let it goad you into more errors! To err on-stage is human. To seal it off, get better instantly and finish strongly, sublime!

11.28.2008: From Stage2Stage

Caught a little performance tip on PBS in between stuffing my face and watching former Panther Kurt Warner throw three INT's over Thanksgiving. Former Hawkeye Alan Alda was investigating ways to enhance athletic performance on his Scientific American show. The gist is similar to advice that's been given to dancers and athletes for many years, but, now, researchers are getting around to explaining how it happens. Visualizing works. An ASU scientist hooked Alda into a portable brain scanner during a putting exercise. After he visualized success, his scores improved. After a little aerobic stationary cycling, his scores improved. After he calmed himself down and started feeling good about himself, his scores improved. Now, I'll have to go back and see how much of this research is available on the web, but, the explanation was when you equally involve the right and left brain---balance the brain, so to speak---your scores improve. And, to whom is balance more important than to dancers heading into performance weekend? So, if you're having problems with any steps or balances or turns in the piece you're in, take time to get it right "in your head" before you try to get it right "on stage". Visualize perfection, imagine perfection, breathe perfection. Calm yourself down after your aerobic ballet barre. Replace any negative self-talk with positive affirmations. I find actually smiling makes you start feeling better about yourself. (Fake it, 'til ya make it!o) After awhile you should realize, you're not faking it anymore. Balanced brain, balanced body. Balanced body, good performance! Merde for excellent shows this weekend!o)

11.26.2008: Overheard Between Shows

"Can you add Abi Pangelinan to the comp list?"
"Sure, how do you spell that last name?"
"Pangelinan! Just like it sounds!"

"Turn out to turn! Don't forget technique just because you're on stage!"

"Suspend here! Every major classical variation has opportunities to cover a lack of or opportunities to show off a strong balance!

"When you're on a strong balance, stay there, smile and raise an eyebrow to the audience. If you're off, just keep on going like you meant to do that!"

"Breathe here! Push that hip into your fall! Use that modern technique you've been working on all semester!"

"You have a very watchable performance quality, but, don't confuse softness with grace!"

"Stretch that knee when you pique'!"

"C'mon! FLIRT with the audience, you little flirt, you! You're naturally good at that! Why don't you do it on stage since you do it all the time anyway?! Imagine the audience is full of HOT guys!"

"RECKLESS ABANDON! Dance with what seems like 'reckless abandon' to you...and it'll probably be about the right amount of attack to your teachers! Most people we say concentrate on retaining technique on-stage, but, YOU need RECKLESS ABANDON!"

"You can be shy off-stage (I don't know why!) But, on stage, you need to be the world's biggest flirt and show-off!"

"Hey, you start off flirtatious on stage, but, you end up mendacious! I don't even know what that means either. But, you're not flirting enough! From the time you walk on until the time you prance off, you little flirt you!o"

11.25.2008: Notes From School Shows

If it happens on DWTS in front of millions, it can happen on stage in front of thousands of screaming kids locally. You Dancing With The Stars fan-atix may have been watching when The xBoy Bander lost his shoe in the middle of a live national performance. Instead of panicking, Lance deftly kicked the shoe aside and finished the dance without missing a beat. Now, that's the way to handle a wardrobe malfunction on-stage! And, you might recall season one of DWTS when The Soap Star almost lost her top and her dignity, but, managed to single-handedly finish the dance without sacrificing her modesty. And, several unexpected hiccups happened on stage in the Capital City this morning: a ribbon flew off the hair of a younger dancer...and a tap-shoe heel was left on stage as well. If that happens during your performance, try to discretely kick the problem off stage when you pass near it. Otherwise, make sure to get it off stage after you bow and pick it up or kick-it off on the way out. DON'T leave it on stage and let it mess up the next dancer. It becomes the responsibility of whomever's nearest the object or whomever's aware of it. It happens in the best of shows and the best of performers learns to roll with the punches and get the problem off stage! Even between numbers, it's acceptable to run out and grab the offending object and take it off. It makes the dancers nervous and distracts the audience. Learn to be a pro and leave the stage the way you found it, the way you want it for your performance and for others: clean and safe!

11.24.2008: Notes From Rehearsals

Everyone needs to focus higher and look out. Make sure the shoulder blades are rolled under and the neck relaxed, but, lengthened. Pretend you're wearing a million dollar diamond necklace or cravat! Show it off! Don't be afraid to dazzle the audience with that "charismatic, confident" smile! If you're in a group, make sure you watch and match your arms (or wings!o) to the dancers in front or opposite of you. Remember, for most of you, it's not just you dancing on stage solo, you're part of a group and have to dance together! Watch your lines and watch your formations and watch each other! Be sure to take some deep breaths and relax and have fun! Don't forget to turn-out your supporting leg!! Especially during Italian fouette's or en de dans attitude turns! When you run or walk on stage, high demi-pointes! Don't look right away to where you're running either. You can start down, if you end up, or start away and then look towards. Work on smooth, watchable transitions! Don't just hit a pretty pose, then, clump down and stumble over to another pretty pose and, then, (lather, rinse,) repeat! Make sure your "in-between steps" are watchable, turned out and part of your performance! Remember, costumes are a mixed blessing. Done well, they'll complement your dancing so you get compliments. But, all the extra fabric or tutu will tend to throw you off. So, you have to work harder to have stronger placement and core than ever before! Learning to get comfortable and dance with costumes and props must be a goal of tech and dress rehearsals on stage. Also, once you get in the theater, be sure to figure out your entrances and exits and marks on stage. Practice focusing up and out and what you're going to spot and when. Practice your balances, jumps and turns on stage. Get comfortable, relax, smile, HAVE FUN! I'm proud of you all!

11.24.2008: Overheard Between CCDC Classes

"Happy belated Birthday!"
"Thank you!"
"Was it the...seventh?"
"No, the ninth. So, you're not as belated as you thought!"
"That's right! Did you do anything fun?"
"Yes! I got to teach some very good kids some very good ballet!"
"But, don't you do that every day?"
"Yes! Every day is like my birthday, Christmas and Arbor Day all rolled into one! EVERY DAY!"
"Arbor Day?"
"'Cuz we're growing and cultivating constantly this new generation of good dancers!o)"

11.21.2008: Light@End of Tunnel: Training Tip

Excerpt from this month's Men's Health magazine article on Sports Conditioning Expert Istvan Javorek:
"...Overtraining comes from bad technique, bad diet, not enough sleep," he says. "But if you eliminate these things, it's difficult for overtraining to be the real issue."

Javorek's overtraining-is-underrecovering mantra also holds up to scientific scrutiny. After all, Olympic athletes can train every day for hours because they sleep and eat the rest of the time. His full-body approach is mirrored in today's functional-training while sore offers recuperative benefits, as long as the workout is 10 to 20 percent less intense than the one that made you sore...", what's this mean for dancers? The answer's obvious: you need to balance your training with sufficient nutrition and adequate REM time. And, also, keep in mind that the latest research seems to indicate that teens need more sleep than adults. Now, I dispute that claim...*yawn*...I'd...uh...argue that pointe, but...zzzzzz|o`

11.20.2008: Four4You

So, there are four main types of dancers and, by extension, four main types of dance students: dancers who look better than they dance, dancers who dance better than they look, dancers who look good and dance well...and, then, there are those of us who neither look good nor dance well. (I tell my students: if I can become a professional dancer, you can become a professional dancer!o) So, which type of dancer do you think you are? Whatever you think, let me tell you now that you're probably in error. You probably belong in some other segment or classification. You are usually not as good as you hope...but, certainly not as bad as you fear. Let me also tell you this: the vast majority of professional dancers probably used to think they were in that very last category: bad body plus bad dancer. If you think you're so good already, what's your motivation to work to get better? Talent is over-rated. Hard work is the great equalizer. Take all your classes. Listen to your teachers, choreographers and rehearsal directors. If that sounds like too much, I hear WalMart is hiring. Or, go to college, get married, have kids, (in that order!) and don't even think about a career in the performing arts. Tell everyone you got tired of dancing, that you had offers and interest to turn professional, but, you decided against it. Got tired of it all. Decided it wasn't worth it. Got that? And, cry your silly, silent, salty tears into your pillow when you think your significant someone's sleeping. Be a good parent, but, spend the rest of your non-dancing existence in rue and wretched regret...Otherwise! You can take all your classes! Listen to your teachers, choreographers and rehearsal directors! You still may not get there, but, it's the journey, not the destination. But, I been to the mountain-top! I gotta road map! Call me MapQuest! We might be able to get you there from here! I know all the road-blocks, detours and lack of short-cuts. Work wit' me here!

11.19.2008: Welcome Aboard!

Capital City Dance Center is pleased to welcome HipHop Instructor Abigail Pangelinan to the dance faculty of CCDC! The RN2B learned her steps on the streets and in the studios of her native Southern California, the inner-city of LA Metro, the nation's hotbed of funk 'n' crunk. Abi trained with Debra Wilcox in HipHop, Jazz, Lyrical, modern and contemporary. She also trained in competitive ancient and modern Hula (kahiko e auwana). Pangelinan toured internationally with the Katurran Chamorro Hula troupe including shows in San Francisco, Washington and Guam. Currently, Abi is two-time captain of the Grand View University competitive Dance Team where she's been a member since 2005. She's also been the coach of the Thresher Dance Team for a semi-pro football team in the Capital City (Now called The Lightning). She also choreographs Hip Hop and Pom routines for school teams, including Knoxville and East High Schools. Abi calls dance "the thing I love the most!". She likes to say, "Music is my oxygen. Dance is how I exhale." Welcome to CCDC, Abi Pangelinan!

11.18.2008: Money4SumpinSumpin, Git Ur Kix4Free!

Attention Class of '09 in the Capital City area! Deadline's coming up!
Memorial $1,000 Dance Scholarship

Application Deadline:
Postmark Date January 30, 2009

Eligibility Requirements:

  1. Applicant must be a graduating senior who plans to pursue a degree in the field of dance at a college, university, conservatory, or dance institute.

  2. Applicant must be a legal resident and attend school in Polk County or one of the bordering counties of Boone, Dallas, Jasper, Madison, Marion, Story, or Warren.

  3. Applicant may submit individual tapes in any of the following categories: ballet, modern, jazz, or tap.

  4. The scholarship award is to be used for tuition and mandatory fees for a full- time academic program for the 2008- 2009 academic year.

Also available, scholarships for music, literature, arts...and, oh, yeah!...academics! More info here.

11.17.2008: College of Knowledge

(Courtesy Newswise) — The majority of studies that have been published in scientific journals do not have sufficient evidence to show that cell phones increase the risk of brain tumors. The problem is that cell phone technology is in its infancy, so none of these studies could analyze long-term risks. This unknown is a particular issue for children, who will face a lifetime of cell phone usage. While the cell phone/brain tumor connection remains inconclusive, the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) cautions that cell phones present plenty of other risks to people’s neurological health, as illustrated by these few real-life scenarios:
  • A 29-year-old male was talking on his cell phone while on an escalator, fell backwards, and lacerated his head.

  • A 25-year-old male was talking on his cell phone and walked into a street sign, lacerating his head.

  • A 43-year-old female fell down 13-14 steps while talking on her cell phone, after drinking alcohol. She suffered a neck sprain and contusions to her head, back, shoulder, and leg.

  • A 50-year-old female suffered nerve damage which was related to extensive cell phone usage. She felt pain in her fingers and the length of her arm while holding her cell phone, and was diagnosed with cervical radiculopathy.

  • A 39-year-old man suffered a head injury after crashing into a tree on his bicycle while texting

  • A 16-year-old boy suffered a concussion because he was texting and walked into a telephone pole.

Several studies show cell phones are a leading cause of automobile crashes. It is estimated that drivers distracted by cell phones are four times more likely to be in a motor vehicle accident. The following are some sobering statistics:

  • According to a Harvard University study, an estimated 2,600 people die and 12,000 suffer serious to moderate injuries each year in cell phone-related accidents.

  • A Canadian study analysis of 26,798 cell phone calls made during the 14-month study period showed that the risk of an automobile accident was four times higher when using a cell phone.

  • National statistics indicate that an estimated 50,000 traumatic brain injury-related deaths occur annually in the United States, 25,000-35,000 of which are attributed to motor vehicle accidents.

Cell Phone Injury Prevention Tips:

  • Talk hands free by using an earpiece or on speaker mode whenever possible.

  • Follow all cell phone laws applicable to your city and state – these vary greatly.

  • Use your cell phone only when safely parked, or have a passenger use it.

  • Do not dial the phone or take notes while driving, cycling, skateboarding, rollerblading, etc.

  • Never text message while driving, walking, cycling, skateboarding, rollerblading, etc.

  • Never text message or use a cell phone while performing any physical activities that require attention.

  • If your phone rings while driving, let the call go into voice mail and respond later when you are safely parked.

For more information on injury prevention, visit the AANS Web site.

(Courtesy Newswise) — Nearly 10 percent of adolescent girls in the United States meet the criteria for conduct disorder, a diagnosis describing youths who persistently exhibit behaviors that violate rules and rights of others – truancy, fighting, stealing, lying, cruelty or property destruction are examples of this. Conduct disorder is less prevalent in girls than in boys, although it is the second most common psychiatric diagnosis among adolescent females. Many of these teenage girls with conduct disorder may grow up to have poor adjustment in adulthood, with mental and physical health problems and difficulties parenting.

A recent study sought to determine if three domains of social context – neighborhood, family characteristics and parenting behaviors – were associated with conduct disorder in adolescent girls.

“Our findings indicate that conduct disorder in adolescent girls is not significantly associated with neighborhood quality, but is, in fact, correlated with family characteristics and types of parenting behaviors,” said Dr. Kathleen Pajer. “Minority race, neighborhood quality and family poverty had some effect on conduct disorder in adolescent girls, but not once family interactions with the girl and her parents’ own history of delinquency, conduct disorder or criminality were taken into account.”

Conduct disorder and delinquency share some characteristics. An adolescent caught doing one illegal act is deemed delinquent, and conduct disorder describes that a youth has engaged in multiple deviant behaviors over a long period of time.

“Social context, such as poverty in the neighborhood, has long been known to affect rates of delinquency, but very few studies have examined whether social contexts are associated with conduct disorder in girls,” said Pajer. “Our results are somewhat different than studies on the role of social context in delinquency.”

Pajer concludes, “Our findings may help us develop better treatment for girls with conduct disorder. Some interventions designed for delinquent girls or boys may not be successful in treating conduct disorder in adolescent girls.”

Data for the study were obtained from nearly 100 participants (15-to 17-year-old girls) in a large mid-Western city. Half of the girls were diagnosed with conduct disorder, while the other half, a demographically matched group, had no psychiatric disorder.

(Courtesy Newswise — Pushing and punching. Spreading rumors and name-calling. Whether it's physical or verbal, bullying has no place at school or in cyberspace.

Parents can help children not be bullied or be bulliers, but first it is important to understand why bullying occurs, said Tammy Wilgenbusch, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist with University of Iowa Children's Hospital.

"Bullying can start at any age but it increases and then peaks in early adolescence, between sixth and ninth grades," Wilgenbusch said. "At that time, children are developing their personalities and independence so they may be more likely to take their insecurities out on or try to wield power over others. By later adolescence, they have a better sense of self and are less likely to take insecurities out on others."

Bullying is a negative or aggressive act that is systematic and ongoing. It can be instigated by one person or a group of individuals. "Typically, the person doing the bullying is seen as more powerful, whether it is physical or social status or better language skills," Wilgenbusch said.

Children who are bullied are at higher risk of mental health problems, particularly depression and anxiety. Some studies show that children who display more anger are more likely to bully because they do not have proper anger-management skills, Wilgenbusch explained.

Children who are bullied can develop personality or temperament changes, such as withdrawal, sleep or appetite changes, and decreased academic performance.

"Some children can cope effectively with bullying, but if it interferes with daily living then it's a good idea to provide strategies for dealing with the bullying and building self-esteem. You can get a referral for counseling from a school counselor or psychologist or primary care physician," Wilgenbusch said.

Teasing is a form of bullying, and research shows that children rate it as the most common form of bullying they encounter.

"When bulliers get a reaction, they are more likely to continue to bully. Encourage your child to ignore the teasing or come back with a quick-witted, non-threatening response. 'Agreeing' with the bullier's comment and making a joke can take the power out of the comment," Wilgenbusch said.

When it comes to physical bullying, however, it is best to report attacks. "If the aggression is physical, the bullier needs to face consequences," Wilgenbusch said.

Parents can meet with teachers and school personnel. "Get everyone involved and set up a 'no-tolerance' system that allows students to feel safe to report incidences," she said.

Wilgenbusch emphasized that bullying prevention may require school-wide changes in the environment. "The change needs to take place at all levels -- from the principal to the students -- to create an environment where bullying is not appropriate and instead focus on positive interactions," she said.

Wilgenbusch noted that "relational bullying" -- which is bullying to hurt someone's status within a social group -- is much more common because of the Web and access to blogs and social networking groups.

"It is key for parents to monitor and observe what their children are posting and looking at online. Supervision is more difficult when it comes to Web activities but you need to talk to your children and help them problem solve," she sad.

Wilgenbusch and colleagues recommend limiting computer access in bedrooms or isolated areas. Having a computer in the open allows more interaction and opportunities for parents to monitor behavior.

If parents learn their child is bullying, they should talk to them and let them know it is not appropriate, Wilgenbusch said. "You can't just tell them to stop. You need to really talk with them to help them learn to empathize with the other person and to think about why they're bullying and what they are getting out of it."

To learn more about how to prevent bullying, visit here or here.

11.14.2008: Dummy 4 Ballet!

So, I don't know what to make of this: Some of the students chipped in to buy me a gift for my annual "another year closer to pushing daisies" memorial service recently (some people call these "birthdays"). I found the gift-bag left on the shelf and I was touched by the gesture. But, when I opened it, I was a little puzzled. Who thought of this? I got the book Blogging For Dummies! So, is this because they think I desperately need some help getting this ballet blog up to their standards? More hyper-links, tables and CSS configs? Or, did they get it for me because they think I enjoy blogging and would enjoy learning more "trix o' de trade"? So, I confronted Katarina Witty and asked her what she was thinking. Turns out she knew nothing about the decision to buy the book. But, she said at least it wasn't BALLET 4 Dummies! Good pointe, Katya! And, at least it wasn't a Pez dispenser like another teacher got! (Like I need another Pez dispenser to add to my vast collection!o) Maybe the book will have something on "reciprocal links". Just got an e-mail from a webmaster of another dance school in another country asking to set up "reciprocal links", suggesting it would be mutually beneficial. So, what do you think? Good idea? Hmmm, maybe I do need that book after all! Mahalo nui loa, guise! Now, how about giving me some time to actually read it!o)

11.13.2008: Audition Announcement

Sleeping Dogs, by Robert John Ford (CAUCUS! The Musical), centers around two mothers who are trying to uncover the facts surrounding a car accident that has left one woman's son dead and the other woman's son comatose. Their investigation, which leads to surprising and disturbing revelations, ultimately forces the mothers to re-examine the identities of both themselves and the sons they thought they knew so well. Loosely based on a true story, Sleeping Dogs examines the complex and very personal reasons why some people are content to accept matters as they appear to be while others are compelled to seek the truth at any cost.

November 24 and 25
7:00 p.m.
Arrive early to complete information sheet. Prepared monologues not required.

Cast Requirements
• Two women (30+)

Rex Mathes Auditorium

Performances to be held January 23 – February 7

More information available here.

11.12.2008: In Jury, Out of Class!

Syk Skyllz' Maternal Supervisor writes in to ask how to help her favorite dancer recover from her latest reinjury. This is what the GoCCDancedoC wrote back (Keep in mind, he's not a trained medical doctor nor does he play one on the radio. Just a masterful degree from "the school of hard knox"!o):
"...My first suggestion is to take the 8am Saturday Pilates class at CCDC to keep up her core strength. It’s mostly mat work. Let the instructor know about the specific injury and she’ll tailor the work-out around it.

You can also have Syk Skyllz keep working out at home to keep the rest of her body in shape while healing the injury. You might pick up some Yoga or Pilates Matwork DVDs to do at home. Just wrap up the foot well and wear a stiff brace so she doesn’t inadvertently stress it.

That’s the easiest method, but, if she’s extra-motivated, have her do “floor barre” instead or as well. That’s where she rests on her back while performing ballet exercises. There’s actually a website that sells a floor barre DVD, I believe. But, Sydwyn Markerova can try this on her own…or several of our injured dancers have actually done their floor barre in the back of their regular CCDC classes while recovering. It is possible to actually *improve* in some areas through consistent floor barre practice…and not just try to “maintain” dance technique.

And, I think keeping her in the class environment may help improve her mood. Better mood, better recovery. I’ve written on the blog before about how watching classes while injured can actually keep the dancer engaged in the learning process. Sometimes we’re so busy dancing ourselves, we don’t get a chance to learn from what others are doing and the corrections they’re getting.

I’m probably echoing the doctor’s instructions (and Milli Vanilla, but, it can’t be stressed enough: “Ice, ice baby!” Keeping the swelling to a minimum will help hasten healing. Icing three times a day, 20-minutes at a time isn’t too much depending on how motivated you both are to get better as quickly as possible. (Especially important after any “work-outs”) The best method is “ice massage”. Here’s a popular method: Get some Styrofoam cups, fill them ¾ full with water. Put them in the freezer until they’re solid. Get one out and peel back the Styrofoam to expose the ice. Use the foam as a handle as you/she massage the injured area for 20-minutes at a time. Put a towel underneath to absorb the ice melt or do it in the bathroom. Constantly moving the ice will keep the area from getting too cold.

Consider anti-inflammatories as well (like ibuprofen). It’s safest to check with your doctor, but, the child’s recommended dosage should be safe.

If I think of more suggestions, I’ll pass them along..."

11.11.2008: eMail Advisory

Put this on the Capital City Arts Action Calendar:
"...We hope you will join us for the performance of our new show on Sat, Nov 15 at 7:30 at the Toman Studio/Theater in the Forker Building on the ISU campus in Ames.

The Rabbit Hole is an Alice in ModernDanceLand adventure, mixing dance and real-time interactive technologies. Dancers Darajun Abel, Elizabeth Ferreira and Valerie Williams will take the audience to a place unexpected and capricious; dancing with music ranging from Bach to Micich, and creating music with their own movements. Light and lively, this dance has been fun to work on and will be fun to see, with capacious flowers, suns come to earth, and Ozlike faces. Tickets are $10 chairs/$5 bleachers, available at the door.

Co'Motion Dance Theater appreciates funding from COTA. Co'Motion Dance Theater is in residence in the Department of Kinesiology..."

11.10.2008: Audition+Arts Action

Auditions for the drama Doubt, A Parable will be held at The Playhouse at 6:00 PM on Sunday, Nov. 30.

Doubt contains feature roles for 1 man (age 30-50), 1 woman (age 45-60), 1 woman (age 25-40) and 1 African-American woman (age 25-50). The show is directed by John Viars (Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story). Performances are Jan. 23-Feb. 8, 2009.

Doubt the 2005 Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winner, is a break-taking look at faith, guilt, and the pitfalls of moral certainty. It's a tour-de-force for actors, a riveting experience for audiences, and sure to stimulate lively debate.

For up-to-date audition information, visit The Playhouse website.

For Immediate Release

To: Community Dancers and Instructors

From: Leslie Nolte, Owner and Director
Nolte Academy of Dance

Re: TV Reality Show Finalist for So You Think You Can Dance Teaches Master Classes at Nolte

TV reality show series finalist from So You Think You Can Dance will be in Coralville on Sunday, November 16 to teach at Nolte Academy of Dance. Enrollment is now open for intermediate and advanced master classes with Kourtni Lind, a top twelve dancer on this past season’s FOX hit. Intermediate class will be from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. and Advanced class will be from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Cost is $20 per class.

11.10.2008: Ledge of Knowing Callz

(Courtesy Newswise) — Adolescents may have more in common with their smoking parents than previously thought, a new study finds. These adolescents may also share a tendency to act impulsively, a trait that could be linked to a decision to become a smoker. The study may help identify behavioral risk factors for adolescent smoking – risk factors that could increase some teens’ chance of addiction even before they pick up their first cigarette.

Brady Reynolds, PhD, found that cigarette smoking mothers chose immediate rewards significantly more than nonsmoking mothers. Similarly, children of mothers who smoked discounted significantly more than children of nonsmokers. These results parallel findings between adult addicted and non-addicted populations.

“Based on our findings, campaigns to prevent adolescents from smoking are likely to be more effective if they emphasize short-term consequences to smoking, as opposed to long-term consequences,” said Reynolds. “This strategy would seem to be especially important for those adolescents most at risk of nicotine addiction.”

(Courtesy Newswise) — Society for Women’s Health Research President and CEO Phyllis Greenberger, M.S.W., issued the following statement in response to the decision of Philip Morris USA to introduce pink “Purse Packs” for some Virginia Slims cigarette brands by early 2009.

The Society for Women’s Health Research is appalled that a tobacco company, with all the health information now available, would initiate a marketing campaign that is directed at young women. The use of smaller, sleek pink boxes is clearly designed to recruit a new generation of young women smokers. This is a reprehensible marketing practice.

“Young women need to know that smoking more negatively affects their health than the health of their male counterparts. Smoking increases the risk of infertility and the chance of developing cervical cancer. Smoking also puts women at dramatically greater risk for other cancers and heart and lung diseases.

“Additionally, women are less successful quitting smoking and have more severe withdrawal symptoms than men. The message to women of all ages: If you are not a smoker, for your immediate and long-term health, do not begin. And, if you do smoke, stop. If you can not quit on your own, seek help from medical professionals or social support groups.”

(Courtesy Newswise) — The National Young Driver Survey (NYDS) of more than 5,500 teens across the country revealed that about six percent of students in grades 9 through 11 reported driving unsupervised without a license. However, according to the national fatality data, a full 20 percent of 14- to 18-year-old drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2006 did not have a license. This means unlicensed teens are significantly over-represented in fatal crashes.

“According to our survey, unlicensed teen drivers engage in unsafe driving behaviors more often than their legally driving peers,” says Flaura Koplin Winston, M.D. “Unlicensed teens are more likely to report not wearing a seat belt, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and driving without a purpose, behaviors known to be associated with fatal crashes.“

“This issue also impacts those who share the roads with unlicensed drivers,” notes Laurette Stiles, vice president of Strategic Resources at State Farm. “As the nation’s largest auto insurer we are committed to working with researchers, educators, and parents to reach out to all teens to address risky teen driving behaviors.”

Unlicensed teens surveyed in the NYDS were much less likely to have attended a driver’s ed class than licensed teens and were about four times more likely to report that “no one” taught them to drive compared to licensed teen drivers.

11.07.2008: The Audacity of Hope?

Is the new President-elect's first appointment a glimmer of hope for future arts funding? That's what some are saying.

11.07.2008: Mee De Ah Men Shunz

Will wonders never cease! I actually managed to watch DWTS during the week it actually aired this week!o) (***Spoiler Alert***If you're time shifting the program and haven't watched the last two episodes READ NO FURTHER ABOUT THE STUPENDOUS, MIND-BOGGLING DEVELOPMENTS!!! Don't do it! I warned you!) And, much as I was amused by Cloris' antics off the floor, her dancing left much to be desired. When it came to the pointe that more worthy opponents were being eliminated, it was time to dust off the old hook for the old...ah...hoofer! (Did you notice how the aging actress would always walk towards the applause after her so-called performances?) I have to admit she was getting a little better and I hope I'm half as spry when I'm half her age, but, that gal's dancing boat has sailed, met the iceberg and is sleeping with the fishy Dicaprio! And, I never really warmed up to the Soap Star. Even her so-called "breakthrough performance" left me yawning. I couldn't understand the judges' praising her for "breaking outta the box". She may think she unleashed her inner tigress, but, to me, it kept taking cat-naps and no catnip as far as I'm concerned. The voting public got it right the last two weeks. But, now it gets really interesting. It's a real roll of the dice to guess who's going to exit next. Will it be the low scoring Disney Boy? Or the boundary pushing xBoy Bander? Or the xWorld's Fastest Man? The xNFL Star dances bigger than life, but, is really nothing more than an overgrown boy---and I mean that in a very good way! Emmit better watch out! Warren's no sap! As for the distaff, Brooke just keeps getting better and better. She may not be able to lead "wire2wire" as I was once predicting, but, that first perfect "thirty score" sent an intimidating message to all the other competitors. (Isn't Brooke from Hawai'i? I'm wondering if she studied hula like most young girls in the islands. That could explain her hip swiveling facility!) Will the last remaing lady be the last one standing? I think she can do it! She's this year's Ice Princess...BTW, I wasn't really impressed with the Macy's dance segment on the last results show. Mixing magic with dance seemed more like a gimmick than a worthwhile genre-busting synthesis. Shut up and dance as far as I'm concerned! Trix are for kidz! It seemed like a little faux Wade Robson choreography, but, not imaginative nor character-driven enough. Not hatin'! Just sayin'...I did think Kenny and Jerry did a passable job on the Dancenter segments!o) "Boney knob" anyone?

11.07.2008: Dance 4 'Da Joy Of It!

I couldn't teach this past American election night because I was working the statewide "Victory Celebration" at a downtown hotel. It happened to be the winning side I was covering so everyone was pretty jubilant at the results. There was a lotta cheering, hugging, laughter and spontaneous dancing broke out! That brings to mind the natural human urge to share joy with movement that is the basis for dance. Dancing is one of the oldest art forms and we need to make sure we remain in touch with the joy that served as the impetus for the basics of ballet and contemporary dance. Sometimes when the goal is performing at a world-class level, we let the training get tiring or taxing and it really should never be. While it's true that dancers experience higher highs and lower lows than most non-dancers, the worst day dancing should still be better than most non-dancers' best days! If it's not, maybe you better rest and recuperate and let that natural joy of dancing return. Just let your teachers know.

11.06.2008: Assay This Essay

Finally! After much wheedling, pleading, teasing...and, yes, fake tears, Capital City Dance Center Pre-Pro Student Sailor Kara shares an essay she wrote entitled "Everything I Needed To Know...I Learned In Ballet Class!":
"Known as the mother and father of ballet, the most fundamental steps in the ballet technique are plie and tendu, meaning to bend and to stretch. Not only have I been bending and stretching physically for the majority of my years, but mentally as well. My greatest ambition in life is to be a professional ballet dancer. However, I am well aware of the difficulty of making it in that competitive business, so it is a good thing that I also have a great interest in the humanities – history, religion, and philosophy have intrigued me from a young age. In order to obtain satisfaction from my life, I hope to create the perfect pas de deux between these two passions.

In the social sciences, imagination is a necessity, the key to viewing history, culture, and ideas through the eyes of those being studied. It is this creative aspect that appeals to me. My open-mindedness and accepting attitude towards others allows me to study other social, religious, and cultural paradigms with enthusiasm and purpose. I hope that through my knowledge of the humanities, I will be able to contribute something useful and good to the world, and to add to the knowledge of others.

Another important contribution I intend to make is that of my art. For thirteen years I have been training intensely in classical ballet, this year taking nine ballet classes a week on top of rigorous schoolwork, with a one-hour commute to and from class. I have attended summer programs for the past five years at renowned schools such as Boston Ballet, the Joffrey BalletKirov Academy of Ballet in Washington, D.C. But the driving, the physical and emotional strain, and the intense competition are all worth it, because I have a true love of the simple beauty of the art form. I always find performing exhilarating because it is an opportunity to express emotion using only the lines I create with my body. Since no words are needed, ballet is a language that anybody can understand.

In the second act of The Nutcracker, Clara’s dreams come to life, and she finds herself in a world of candied flowers and sugar plums. It is her very own utopian fantasy. In my Utopia, I would devote a portion of my life to working in the social sciences, and another portion expressing myself through ballet. I believe that both of these are worthy of my utmost devotion, for they are the means with which I can best benefit my community and my world."

...Very erudite and eloquent! Brains, ballet AND beauty! How intimidating! I think when I wrote my NMS essay it came down to just variations on the theme of "please give me money". And, oddly enough, one of the academic scholarships I did get, besides the athletic scholarship (excuse me, while I pat myself on the back again!o), was to the big public University in this state. I turned that scholarship offer down because I thought I was in love. So, how odd I ended up dancing professionally in the state several years later anyway! And, then, ended up falling in love here. (Altogether now: Awwww!o)

11.05.2008: Dance $aving$!

With all the Nuttiness going on this time of year, it would be a good time to restate the obvious: Rehearsals and warm-ups are not classes and should not be considered a viable alternative to regular dance training. Dancers need to think of regular classes like saving for a big-ticket purchase. Every class you take is like saving a coupla bucks. Every class you miss is like withdrawing some money. Rehearsals and performances are when you "spend" those savings. But, it drains your "dance savings account". In order to build your "dance account" back up, you need to get back into your regular training, your regular dance classes. Now, don't get me wrong, performances and good rehearsals are necessary complements to serious dance training, but, in order to get "good compliments" for your dancing, you need to try to take all your classes and not think of perfs or rehs as class substitutes. (Editor's note: Note the proper use of "complement" [to supplement] versus "compliment" [to praise]!o) And, actually CCDC rehearsals are good training because dancers are held to the highest professional standards of behaviour and technique. But, that's not always the case. Parents and students need to keep in mind not all performances or rehearsals are worth the absences from regular training. (Now, excuse me while I get back in class and work around the shoulder I just threw out patting myself on the back!o)

11.04.2008: Strong Hallow-Eek!

Hmm...odd costume sightings in the final daze of Halloween weak at CCDC last week: a SCUBA-dooby-doo gang lounging at Friday's barre following a picnic grab-bag of fruits, sorbet and vegetables the day before. And, who was that oddly-shaped woman teaching the CCDC Ballet IV Halloween night? And, why was she so vaguely reminiscent of the quick strike visit from the "hot guy" last year? Alleged pix exist from this year someplace on the web! There was also a real "missed opportunity" last week: If they'd only shown up on the same night, we could have actually had the faux-GoCCDancedoC partnering the lumpy-yet-voluptuous-Katya W00tang-impersonator. That might have been more disastrous than those two fine felines performing pas de deux pas de chat. Those false eyelashes were dangling by a thread and might've interfered with feline of sight. And, here's a case of a day-late-dollar-short, while the big mystery remains: Would Hamer Hitz Homerz actually dress up as Homerin' Hank Erin? Or, is that just rumored costume conjecture? Alissa refused to disclose her costume plans when no one else showed up in costume the day after Halloween! And, it was actually a little odd seeing everyone back to dress code in Monday class. (But, why the Paris Hilton sighting?) And, have to hand it to this year's Senior Class. When it comes to dressing up for Halloween, no other CCDC graduating class has even come close. Even Hanna Banana had to curtsy to the faux-banana-rama at barre last Thursday! This was after she finally stopped laughing! Good work, CCDC Class of 2009!o) CCDC Class of 2010, time to start planning how to "raise the barre" now!o)

11.04.2008: From Russia, With Glastnost!

Two women who used to train in ballet in the old Soviet Union dropped by to take classes at Capital City Dance Center this past weekend. But, even though I teased them by introducing them to the class as former "stars of the Bolshoi and the Kirov", Natalia and Lena were quick to point out that they only took classes as part of the Young Pioneers Of The Revolution group (Sorta like Scouting programmes in the west) and not in the ultra-competitive state schools of ballet. An interesting observation from Natasha was that she was "too old" at *age six* to try-out for the "pre-pointe programme". I thought at first that she said five-year-olds went en pointe, but, she explained that those five-year olds were chosen *to train* to go en pointe at a later date. And, that her mother made sure she didn't begin ballet until she was *too old* (at age six!) to get into the pre-pointe programme. My teacher used to tell me that girls in the old Soviet Union used to begin their pointe training from their very first ballet class at age 8. But, perhaps he was confused as well. Most western experts agree that the soft bones of young dancers need to "ossify" a lot more and the muscles need to strengthen a lot more before proper training en pointe can begin. But, even when Natasha expressed some interest on finally training en pointe, I had to tell her that only the most motivated adults can make the commitment to the amount and length of training required: 3-to-4 classes a week for one-two-or-three years before the first pointe shoe goes on. The human body doesn't naturally have the strength or flexibility required to dance on the tips of their toes. Stiff shoes help, but, aren't enough alone. (But, I don't want to discourage any adults who are motivated to dance en pointe, just realize the long-term commitment it would require. And, there's at least one adult dancer at CCDC who succeeded at going up en pointe past her high school years.) Still, Natasha says she dabbles in ballroom and ice dancing, but, she realizes (Like Bruno T on DWTS!o) that ballet training helps almost every other physical discipline! So, the two former Soviet dance students now say they'll try some of the adult, open and pre-professional classes at Capital City Dance Center and plan on attending upcoming performances featuring CCDC students: the Nutcracker, the CCDC Spring Showcase. (As should we all!o)

11.03.2008: Discussion Generation

"...I was reading your post on the website in responding to (Distant Dancer's) email. Ah, it takes me back, especially the part about the freezing studios (which have always been that way - no flood damage on that part!) and watching old videos of (Professor) Alan Sener! She should ask him about his Pepsi commercial! I've never seen it myself but have heard it is legendary. :)..."

10.31.2008: Performances in the Capital City

Here's a dance and other performance tip that'll take place at the annual Di'a De Los Muertos celebration at the Art Center this weekend:
"...This year, festivities will include music by Mariachi Zapata, a native blessing and dance performance by Danza Azteca Aztlan, Legacies: A Short Play ..."
...There's no admission, but, thousands expected so parking will be at a premium. Here's the schedule:
  • 1 – 4 pm: Music by Mariachi Zapata in Art Center Lobby

  • 1 – 4 pm: Studio Program Exhibition: Day of the Dead Art by children and adults in the Adrienne and Charles Herbert Galleries

  • 1:15 – 1:40 pm: Blessing and dance by Danza Azteca Aztlan in Lobby
    1:15 – 1:20 pm: Blessing of the Altar
    1:20 – 1:40 pm: Dance Performance
  • 1 – 3:30 pm: Traditional refreshments in the Restaurant and cash bar in the Lobby

  • 1 – 3:30 pm: Food and beverage vendor: Tacos Andreas

  • 1 – 3:30 pm: Family workshops
    Mexican Paper Flowers
    Postcards to the Dead
    Family Nichos (memory boxes)
  • 1 – 3:30 pm: Schools performances and artwork

  • 2 – 2:30 pm: First theatrical performance of Legacies, A Short Play - Levitt Auditorium

  • 3 – 3:30 pm: Second theatrical performance of Legacies, A Short Play - Levitt Auditorium

10.30.2008: Costumed Capers

Those zany, madcap, loony, yet lovable kids in CCDC Ballet VI conspiring to take Halloween costuming to a new level this week! As I mentioned, Monday saw Sarah Palin, The Jolly Green Giantess, Posh Spice and the Bad Ballet Cop show up for barre. ("No going allegro in an adagio zone! Gonna have to write you up!") Tuesday, a Beany Baby Cat, a Smitten Kitten, Vampirella and a Big Brownie among the characters showing up for class. (I told the Tyco Cat he should partner the Smitten Kitten in some pas de chat and saut de chat. It would be an inside joke for classical dancers and French speakers only!o) Wednesday, a green-haired angel and princess, a warlock and a veritable posse of black-clad Ninjas burst on the scene! (Another deep inside joke. What? No Yao Ming? No Shaquille O'Neal?---ask a Ballet IV!o) But, my favorite was when Katya W00tang showed up dressed as a broken-down, beat-up, old-dancer-turned-ballet-teacher. It was hilarious...even after I realized she had dressed exactly like me! I kept telling myself "flattery is the sincerest form of imitation". I had to laugh out loud when she copied me to the pointe of performing tap steps while waiting for the next exercise, jumping around to warm-up the feet and using the barre to work-out the upper body! Hilarious! I had to restrain myself from giving her a warm hug...around her neck with my fingers after class! I believe The Tyco Cat has pix up of all the costumes on Facebook. What other characters will the rest of Halloween week bring? Anything to compare with Hanna Banana's Oscar winning performance a few years ago? I shudder to think!o)

10.29.2008: Arpino Exits

The man who co-founded the Joffrey Ballet passed away today. Details here and here.

10.29.2008: Far From Home

Here's an eUpdate from the CCDC's Prodigal Daughter:
"...This past week it has been FREEZING in the dance studios. I usually take ballet in the gym, but on Thursday we actually combined with another class in a smaller studio to create body heat! I feel like I can never get warm; the only way to stay warm is if our teacher keeps us constantly moving. This past Sunday, I had to go see a small performance for my improv class. The lady performing was Julie Gillum and she is a Butoh artist. I had no idea what to expect. It was definitely unlike anything I've ever seen before. It was so strange, but ultimately very intriguing. She actually taught our improv class on Monday, and then on Wednesday she gave us a Butoh class instead of taking normal modern...On Thursday, it was just freezing still so we got to watch some old videos and listen to Alan talk. It was SO interesting hearing about his modern background. We got to see old video clips from the 70s and old pictures of him and the company in New York around the same time. I guess I never realized we had our own...celebrity! I absolutely loved hearing him talk about his road to success, and his other hilarious comments about anything and everything that were added in. It was inspiring! I guess I never knew that much about modern and its history!..."
...This is part of what I wrote back:
"...Why are your studios so cold? Does it have to do with flood damage? It's only October! What happens in November and January? That settles it! You move back home right now and take classes with us and I promise 68-degrees and the Backstreet Boys whenever you want! (Or is that 98-Degrees and 'n'Sync?)

Other than freezing your tushie off, how are the classes? I seem to remember you said you'd be getting another teacher soon? Has the ballet improved?

The first class of Halloween week and the Seniors are already going to town! Saraurorah dressed as the "Jolly Green Giantess". Katya says she was a "bad ballet cop" and warned me against doing allegro in an adagio zone! Lindy Van Der Emmen came dressed as Sarah Palin. GitUrFaShawn was Posh Spice in soccer gear! Secret Soccer Mom? Everyone else was a little boring in their usual black except for 2K2M who was electric in blue. Not sure what I can do for Halloween this any ideas? What are you going to be? I'm sure downtown will be hopping!

Halloween was amazing back in Hawai'i. I'd dress up in something and just head down to Waikiki and catch all the sights and sounds. Some of the big clubs had big cash prizes so we'd hang out outside or walk around the streets at the International Marketplace to watch the fantastic costumes. I remember one year I borrowed the KGU Mynah Bird costume and actually placed in one or two costume contests. Every club up and down the strip had a contest. It was a hoppin' place. If you ever have a chance to spend Halloween night in Waikiki, don't turn it down! Just stay on the main streets or you could get more trick or treat than you bargained for! Honolulu is a big, bad city after all!..."

10.28.2008: Affirmative Awww!-ction

The latest unsolicited testimonial from a pleased Capital City Dance Center parent:
"Thought you'd enjoy the fact that (my young daughter) has asked me about 50 times today if she can go to ballet. She doesn't seem to understand it's just once a week and asks me daily if we can go see Miss Cindy and dance..."

10.28.2008: Capital City Arts Happeningz!

These press releases in the eMailbag recently:
Auditions for the new musical, Willy Wonka, will be held at The Playhouse at 6:00 PM on Sunday, Nov. 23. Those auditioning should bring a prepared song which best presents the person's talents and potential. An accompanist will be provided. All auditions are open to the public.

Willy Wonka contains feature roles for 20 men and women, ages 16 and up; and 3 or more boys and girls, ages 10 and up. Willy Wonka is directed by Todd Buchacker, with music direction by Brenton Brown.

Performances are Jan. 16-Feb. 8, 2009, with daytime school matinees Jan. 20-21.

Charlie Bucket is one of five Golden Tickets winners to receive a top-secret tour of the Wonka chocolate factory in this new stage musical featuring songs from the classic Gene Wilder film.

For up-to-date audition information, visit The Playhouse website.

Broadway’s most talked about new musical and the biggest Tony Award winner in years is coming! Spring Awakening, the 8-time Tony Award winning Broadway musical, will play at the Civic Center for one week only Jan. 20 to 25, 2009.

Spring Awakening swept the 2007 Tony Awards winning eight out of its eleven nominations, including Best Musical, Best Director (Michael Mayer), Best Book (Steven Sater), Best Choreography (Bill T. Jones), Best Orchestrations (Duncan Sheik), Best Lighting Design (Kevin Adams), Best Featured Actor (John Gallagher Jr.).

Hailed as the Best Musical of the Year by the NY Drama Critics Circle, the Drama Desk, the Outer Critics Circle and the Tony Awards, Spring Awakening has emerged as the most talked about new musical on Broadway.

Based on the infamous 1891 Frank Wedekind play, Spring Awakening features an electrifying score by Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater, direction by Michael Mayer, choreography by award-winning Bill T. Jones and Book by Mr. Sater.

Set against the backdrop of a repressive and provincial late 19th century Germany, Spring Awakening tells the timeless story of teenage self-discovery and budding sexuality as seen through the eyes of three teenagers. Haunting and provocative, Spring Awakening celebrates an unforgettable journey from youth to adulthood with a power, a poignancy and a passion you will never forget.

Spring Awakening contains mature themes, sexual situations and strong language.

The Energy are looking for fun, outgoing, spirited young ladies who want to be part of the NBA’s minor league right here in the Capital City! Do you have what it takes to be a High Voltage Dancer?

Click here for more information and all application materials. We hope to see you next Wednesday, November 5th at Gold’s Gym!

When: Wednesday, November 5th, 2008
Where: Gold's Gym
Time: 7:00 - 10:00pm
- 7:00pm Registration & stretching
- 7:30pm - Tryouts begin

Questions? Please contact Randi Burrell, Director of Game Operations.

Fall nights at The Playhouse are going to be terrifyingly funny! Night of the Living Dead comes to the theater, Oct. 31-Nov. 1!

Get ready for a fright that will send chills down your spine! In Night of the Living Dead,fallout from a satellite probe shot to Venus returns to Earth carrying a mysterious radiation that transforms the unburied dead into flesh-eating zombies. Seven people trapped in an isolated farmhouse, held hostage by the ravenous ghouls, begin to turn on each other as the dead encroach. Based on the cult classic film, this blend of thrilling horror laced with touches of black humor envelops the audience in the action and unfolds into a shocking theatrical ending. This Halloween weekend performance is a fundraiser benefiting youth education programs at The Playhouse.

10.27.2008: Media Mentions

So, watched the last DWTS we recorded. And, isn't it way past time for Cloris to go? I remember being at a night club dance contest one time. There were some excellent dancers...and one drunk old guy who looked out of place among all the slick, young chics. But, that 60-70-80-year old was having a boatload of fun. He shambled out on the dance floor and was boogy-ing to beat the band! And, the audience loved it! Much to the chagrin of all the other contestants, he was winning the audience applause factor by a landslide. Now, he was eventually beaten head-to-head by a dynamite duo, but, there were a lot of better dancers who lost before that happened. That's what's happening in the latest DWTS: True, the Charismatic Chef wasn't going to last much longer. And, Toni never really delivered on her potential. But, the irrepressible Cloris keeps hanging on like a leach, man! Like I said, I think her time has come and gone. But, the Soap Star or the Boy Bander may be victimized before CL's act starts rubbing the voting audience the wrong way. And, there was one "Yes!", fist-pumping moment for us former professional dancers this last results show: Judge Bruno Toglioni was giving his comments to the first of the Junior DWTS contestants. He asked if the girl was taking ballet because it was the first time he saw fouette' turns during a paso doble(?)! When she said yes, Bruno told her to keep taking ballet because it showed and that BALLET WAS THE BASIS FOR EVERY OTHER FORM OF DANCE! Now, you may question the wisdom of allowing a ten-year old to do fouette' turns at such a young age, but, at least she's taking classical training! And, I was glad to see the Hustle featured so prominently this past week. I just wish they stopped showing the dated, old stuff on this and other dance shows and realize partner club dancing has kept up with the times. I keep threatening to teach six or 12-step American or Latin Hustle during the summer intensive. And, I may have to deliver on that promise (as well as other ballroom) soon.

10.24.2008: Collage of Knowledge

(Courtesy Newswise)— A study provides evidence that the carbon monoxide levels of children exposed to second-hand smoke are often similar to that of active adult smokers and frequently higher than levels in adults exposed to second-hand smoke.

Carbon monoxide binds to blood 200 times more easily than oxygen, but the resultant carboxyhemoglobin is unable to deliver oxygen to body tissue, including that of the brain, heart and muscle.

The potential consequences of long-term, low level exposure include changes in heart and lung tissue.

And according to the study, the younger the child, the greater the potential level of exposure.

(Courtesy Newswise) — A new study shows that people who are physically active before suffering a stroke may have less severe problems as a result and recover better compared to those who did not exercise before having a stroke.

The study found that the top 25 percent of people who exercised the most were two-and-a-half-times more likely to suffer a less severe stroke compared with people who were in the bottom quarter of the group. The most active also had a better chance of long-term recovery.

“Exercise is one possible risk factor for stroke that can be controlled. Staying fit doesn’t have to be a scheduled regimen. For the people in this study, exercise included light housework, taking a walk outside, lawn care, gardening or participating in a sport,” says Doctor Lars-Henrik Krarup.

(Courtesy Newswise) — People with more education and more mentally demanding occupations may have protection against the memory loss that precedes Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new study.

The study found that in people with the same level of memory impairment, people with more education and more mentally demanding jobs had significantly more changes and damage in their brains from Alzheimer’s disease than people with less education and less mentally demanding jobs.

(Editor's note: Syk Skyllz! This is 4u!o)(Courtesy Newswise) — While rebounding in basketball is an integral part of the game, it was also associated with 25 percent of injuries in high school basketball. New research also found the most commonly injured body site was to the ankle or foot, resulting in 40 percent of injuries.

Many may perceive the knee as being a common basketball-related injury, but according to a recent study, knee injuries accounted for 15 percent of injuries, followed by the head, face or neck, (14 percent) and the arm or hand (10 percent), all far behind the number of foot and ankle injuries.

Females were more than two times more likely than males to experience concussions. Other gender differences were that females were 70 percent more likely to have a knee injury, while males were nearly 90 percent more likely to sustain a fracture and more than 50 percent more likely to sustain a contusion.

The guard position accounted for the most injuries at 50 percent for males and 46 percent for females. Plays associated with injuries included defending (25 percent), general play (17 percent) and handling or dribbling the ball (9 percent). “Considering there are two guards on the court, we expected about 40 percent of injuries to be associated with that position,” said study co-author Dawn Comstock. “The specific mechanism that most frequently caused injury was collision with another player, which accounted for almost a quarter of all injuries.”

(Courtesy Newswise) — With monsters, goblins and super-heroes descending on homes everywhere, it’s important to follow some common sense practices and to be extra vigilant for possible safety hazards so that children have a fun, healthy and safe Halloween.


Halloween-related injuries often involve burns from flammable costumes and decorations, including ignition from open flames, such as candles and Jack O' Lanterns. Other accidents occur due to abrasions from sharp objects attached to masks or costumes.

Parents should be sure to look for fabrics labeled “Flame Resistant” or choose flame-resistant fabrics such as nylon or polyester when purchasing costumes, masks, beards and wigs. Flame-resistant fabrics resist burning and should extinguish quickly.

It’s important that homemade costumes be made of inherently flame-resistant fabrics, such as nylon or polyester. To minimize the risk of contact with candles and other fire sources, avoid costumes made with flimsy materials and outfits with big, baggy sleeves or billowing skirts. Also, be cautious of long draped items that could cause an entanglement hazard.

Some other safety tips to consider before sending children out for the evening:

  • If your child wears a mask, hat or scarf, make sure they fit securely, provides adequate ventilation, and has eye holes large enough to allow full vision.

  • Apply non-toxic face paint or cosmetics directly to the face as an alternative to masks. If you select a mask, make sure it fits securely and has large eyeholes for full vision.

  • Allow your child to wear short costumes and properly fitting shoes to avoid tripping.

  • Use costumes that are light or bright enough to make children more visible at night.

  • Decorate costumes, bags, and sacks with reflective tape and stickers.

  • Children should carry flashlights to see and be seen.


Both children and adults need to give real attention to safety on this annual day of make-believe. And with a little extra thought and planning, you can make sure that all children have fun and safe outings on Halloween. If your child chooses to trick-or-treat, please be sure to:

  • Accompany children under age 10.

  • Attach the name, address and phone number of children to their clothes in case they become separated from adults.

  • Allow your child to travel only in familiar areas, along a pre-established route with a flashlight to guide their way.

  • Tell your child to walk, not run, making sure to stop at all street corners and look left, right and left again before crossing.

  • Never allow your child to dart out into a street or cross between parked cars. They should cross streets only at intersections and crosswalks.

  • Teach children their home phone number and make sure they have change to call home.

  • Restrict trick-or-treating visits to homes with an illuminated porch or outside light. Tell children never to enter a home or an apartment building.

  • The sidewalk is the safest place for trick-or-treaters. Teach children not to cut across yards.

  • Establish set time for children to return home.


It is a good idea for children to eat a good meal before trick or treating so that they don’t fill up on holiday treats. Candy should not be sampled until children are home to sort and check treats. “It is rare for candy to be tampered with at Halloween,” says Dr. Mike Gittelman “However, it is a good idea for parents to inspect the candy to make sure that each piece is individually wrapped and safely sealed.” X-ray machines are not helpful since they only help to distinguish candy tainted with a metallic object; it does not indicate if the candy was tampered with in other ways. “If the candy is not wrapped or looks suspicious, it is better to just throw it away.” Also, candy that can cause choking in smaller aged children (eg. children < 5 yrs of age) should be discarded or given to older children.

Dr. Gittelman also urges parents and caregivers to carefully examine any toys or novelty items received by tick-or-treaters under three years of age. Do not allow young children to have any items that are small enough to present a choking hazard or that have small parts or components that could separate during use. Many of these items have warning labels. If you’re unsure about an item, parents can buy a child safety choke tube that functions as a small parts tester. A choke tube is designed to be about the same diameter as a child's airway (windpipe). If an object fits inside of the tube tester, then it is too small to be within reach of a young child. Choke tubes can be found in children's specialty stores.

Children's Fears:

Halloween can sometimes be a frightening holiday for children. To help ease the fright of "monsters" and unfamiliar sights, child psychologists say parents should help their children interpret Halloween as a make-believe situation. For example, parents can show their children that someone is just wearing a mask by asking that person to remove it. In addition, allowing children to try on their costumes before Halloween can give them time to get used to how they look.

10.23.2008: Audition Action

Found this info on the web after hearing about it on the radio:
Auditions for the 2009 Capital City area premiere production of SIX-ON-SIX: THE MUSICAL will be held on Sunday, October 26 at 4:00pm at Hoyt Sherman Place Theater.

SIX-ON-SIX: THE MUSICAL celebrates the tradition of six-on-six high school girls’ basketball – its glorious history, unique rules, phenomenal popularity, colorful personalities, andthe controversy that ultimately resulted in the game’s demise. Created by playwright/composer/lyricist Robert John Ford, whose play CAUCUS! THE MUSICAL received rave reviews and international acclaim during its premiere run this past January, SIX-ON-SIX: THE MUSICAL features 17 original songs and a cast of more than 35. Presented by Right Brain Productions, eight performances of SIX-ON-SIX: THE MUSICAL will be presented at the 1,250-seat Hoyt Sherman Place Theater.

Auditions are open to the public, as all roles will be filled by local non-professional theatre artists. Auditions for student roles (ages 16-22) will begin at 4:00pm, while auditions for adult roles will begin at 5:30pm. Previous theatre experience is not required, and all actors selected will be paid a stipend. More information about the play, auditions, roles available, and rehearsal schedule can be found here.

The creative team for SIX-ON-SIX: THE MUSICAL includes Robert John Ford, who will direct, music director Brenton Brown and choreographer Alison Shafer. “SIX-ON-SIX is a big,old-fashioned fun musical for the entire family,” says Ford. “It’s a must see for fans of the game, especially the thousands of Iowa women who actually played the game and wish to share a piece of their history with their children and grandchildren.”

10.22.2008: From The eMailbag!

2K2M's Maternal Unit sends this heads-up. Michael Phelps eat your heart out!:
"...Hey guys! ...I found this article that I thought you'd find interesting.

Ballet Dancers Fitter Than International Swimmers

Have a great day!"

10.21.2008: After The Ouch

Injuries are a part of life, and, thus, injuries will be a part of dance. (Because dancing IS life!o) (Unless you stay at home in bed the rest of your life, you're probably going to suffer an injury someday. And, if you do stay at home in bed all day the rest of your life, with your luck, a meteorite would crash through the roof and land on your leg! So, you might as well get up and dance anyway!o) Learning how to properly deal with injuries are an essential part of your dance training. Focusing on prevention, proper treatment, (We'll go over the "PRICE is right" treatment training in a later post) getting good training from good teachers, not trying too advanced technique too early or too young (especially pointe work, pas de deux, grand allegro or other turns, tricks and tricky turns!o) and dancing on a good floor will help minimize your down time. (All the studios at Capital City Dance Center have suspended floors with marley-type "controlled slip" surfaces. If you're dancing at another studio or rehearsal space on concrete, wood over concrete or carpet over concrete, you're just asking for ankle, back, spine and leg problems. Not hating. Just saying. Speaking from sad, sore experience.) But, suppose, despite your best efforts, you get injured and need to sit out from your dance class, what should you do then? Well, at least two CCDC dancers are demonstrating what you SHOULD be doing while nursing an injury. They're showing up for their classes and sitting on the side or in the back listening to corrections and combinations. One is even writing down corrections, combinations and observations in her dance notebook. (That's what I used to do when I was sick or injured. That's what all the pre-pro students at my old studio used to do. We didn't think twice about it. And, two or three or four of us actually went on to dance professionally here on the mainland.) And, sometimes, you actually learn more by observing class than you do while participating. This is especially important during the rehearsal process. Time i$ money, even at the community, volunteer production level...and, e$pecially@the profe$$ional level! So, get in the habit of making it to all your classes when you're well. And, also consider attending and learning even when you're not 100%. Now, that doesn't mean if you're sick on your death bed, you should drag yourself in and infect everyone else with your ebola virus, Typhoid Mary! Take care of yourself first! But, minor injuries and, even, feeling "under the weather" doesn't necessarily mean you need to stop becoming a better dancer. Train your brain on the side and your body will follow in the center!

10.20.2008: Cellular Damage

Because not every Capital City Dance Center student is totally into texting, on occasion even using their cells for their original purpose, here's a caveat e-mailed to me from the "snarling macho men" over at Men's Health magazine:
"...Doctors in the U.K. issuing an advisory about "mobile phone dermatitis"—an allergic reaction to the nickel in cellphones.

The condition occurs in people who use their cellphones for "long periods" (the exact duration is unclear). The parts of the phone most commonly containing nickel are the menu buttons, decorative logos, and metallic frames, and allergic symptoms include a rash or itchiness in the cheek or ears.

If this isn't reason enough to hang up the phone, other studies linking cellphones to brain tumors should make you break your cell habit.

But let's not knock mobile phones too much, your handheld can help you lose weight, eat right, and live a healthier life. So rather than cutting off your cellphone plan altogether (which would be the ultimate modern inconvenience), invest in a hands-free device instead.

And, no matter what phone you're using, avoid funky skin with proper skin care..."

10.17.2008: Capital City Arts Action

Start off with an e-mail from Capital City Dance Center Summer Intensive Modern Instructor Kathleen Hurley:
"Hope you can join us!

Hurley & Dancers performs with guitarist Rob Lumbard Wednesday.

Kathleen Hurley and Lisa Lewis of the professional modern dance company Hurley & Dancers will perform with guitarist Rob Lumbard on Wednesday, Oct. 22, 12:05-12:30 p.m., as part of the St. John’s Midweek Music Fine Arts Series. Admission is free, donations accepted. For more information, visit here.

The Playhouse presents the family musical comedy, Junie B. Jones and a Little Monkey Business," Nov. 14-30, in the Kate Goldman Children's Theatre. This fun show returns to the Playhouse, having enjoyed a sold-out run in the 2004-05 season.

Junie B., our heroine, is a feisty kindergartner anxious for attention. When Junie discovers her Mother is pregnant, she fears a life in the shadows. She also struggles to find the perfect object to impress her friends at show-and-tell. Junie takes her Grandma's declaration that the newborn baby is "a little monkey" literally, and begins to take bribes for the first look at her simian brother. Beneath this quirky plot are themes about identity, change, and integrity that are sure to resonate with everyone.

Playwright/composer Joan Cushing perfectly captures the energy and style of Barbara Parks' popular Junie B. Jones characters. Her score is top notch, featuring fiendishly witty lyrics on top of catchy music.

The Junie B. Jones cast features newcomer Danielle Payne as Junie B. Jones, Jason Crowley (Charlotte's Web) reprising his role as Crybaby William, Pernell Ferguson (A Woman Called Truth) as Meanie Jim, Anne Arthur Frett (Charlotte's Web) as Lucille, newcomer Anita Holland as That Grace, Greg Millar (The Full Monty) as Boss of the School, newcomer Carolyn E. Nelson as Mrs., and Darlene and Mark Pullen reprising their roles as Grandma and Grandpa Miller. The show is under the direction of Kathy Pingel (Holes), with musical direction by Brenton Brown (Grease).

For more information on The Playhouse and Junie B. Jones and A Little Monkey Business surf to their website.

Tallgrass Theatre Company has chosen the winner for the Third Annual Playwrights Workshop. Sleeping Dogs, submitted by Robert John Ford centers around two mothers who are trying to uncover the facts surrounding a car accident that has left one woman's son dead and the other woman's son comatose. Their investigation, which leads to surprising and disturbing revelations, ultimately forces the mothers to re-examine the identities of both themselves and the sons they thought they knew so well. Loosely based on a true story, Sleeping Dogs examines the complex and very personal reasons why some people are content to accept matters as they appear to be while others are compelled to seek the truth at any cost.

Ford and his script will go through an in-depth process before hitting the stage in January. The process begins with table readings of the script with the Tallgrass artistic and technical staff. They will provide initial feedback to Ford, and he can apply this advice to the script prior to staged readings in mid-November. Writers, professors, actors and community members will be invited to the staged readings to provide Ford with an outside viewpoint. At this time, Ford will make any final changes to the script and hand it over to the director for the stage production.

Tallgrass Theatre Company’s Playwrights Workshop was created in 2006 for the purpose of developing and showcasing fresh new works by local writers.

Playwrights Workshop
Auditions: November 24 and 25 at 6:00 p.m.
Performances: Fridays and Saturday, January 23 through February 7 at 7:00 p.m. Rex Mathes Auditorium

More information available here.

10.16.2008: Give Peas A Chance

I was just at a keynote address at the big Venture Capital Conference in town this week. The speaker claims the "3 P's" are the keys for success in any field. Author and philanthropist Mark Thompson was talking about business, but "Passion, Preparation and Purpose" are givens as well for success in the pursuit of parts in the arts. Are you passionate about your dancing? Are you Preparing for success? Thompson suggests redefining success in terms of your Purpose. Rethink your involvement and dedication to dance. You need to renew your commitment every day, every class, every exercise.

10.15.2008: Ounce of Prevention

Capital City Dance Center is highly recommending all students get their flu shots soon. With so many kids in so many classes here at CCDC, any bugs will get passed along quickly. Here's some information from the national Centers for Disease Control on influenza immunizations. And, here's a PDF on immunization clinics in the Capital City Area. And, all the CCDC restrooms are kept well-stocked with soap and hand sanitizer is available in all studios, lobby and restrooms. Washing your hands and using hand sanitizer often and getting your kids to do the same will help cut down on "down-time" here at CCDC. And, today, is Global Hand Washing Day! Sleep, rest and good nutrition also highly recommended. Do some research if you're hesitant about vaccinations. Don't listen to old wives telling tall tales! And, don't rely on everyone else getting immunized! I've got my flu shot! Got yours? And, I feel....erck...gasp...cIdlsp///l 911...9...1...1.. 9!!...0:o(

10.14.2008: Capital City Arts Action

Auditions for The Best Christmas Pageant Ever will be held at The Playhouse at 6:00 PM, Sunday, Nov. 2. All auditions are open to the public.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever contains feature roles for 2 men and 2 women, ages 16 and up; 5 boys, ages 8-16; and 5 girls, ages 8-16. There are also roles for a large ensemble of men, women, boys and girls.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever performances are Dec. 12-21. School matinees are Dec. 10-11. The show is directed by Rusk Dorsett and Brandon Lee, with music direction by Robin Spahr.

The Herdmans are the worst kids in the history of the world. They lie, steal and smoke cigars (even the girls). When they take over the church play, everyone wonders if this will the be the best Christmas pageant ever, or just the most memorable.

For up-to-date audition information, visit The Playhouse website.

Tall tales and laughter await audiences at The Playhouse! Escanaba in Da Moonlight a new comedy by Jeff Daniels of Dumb and Dumber, will be presented in the Mainstage theatre, Nov. 7-23. Tickets are now on sale at The Playhouse ticket office.

Escanaba in Da Moonlight a hilarious new comedy, will have audiences holding their sides with laughter! When the Soady clan reunites for the opening day of deer season at their Upper Peninsula, Michigan, camp, 35-year-old Reuben Soady carries the infamous reputation of being the oldest Soady in history never to bag a buck. In a hunting story to beat all hunting stories, Escanaba is an uproarious comedy where the quest to hunt, drink a few beers, and tell each other stories is interrupted by an uproarious tall tale.

The Escanaba in Da Moonlight cast, under the direction of Ron Ziegler (Grease) features Micheal Davenport (Enchanted April) as Reuben Soady. Other cast members include Eric Bench, Cody Schug, John Cisar, Jason Thomas Rainwater and Megan Walz.

For more information on The Playhouse and Escanaba in Da Moonlight surf to their website.

10.13.2008: Overheard in Nutty Rehearsal at CCDC!

"Oooh, ladies! We really need to work on those fouette' turns, don't we? Between now and performance, every class, do those 32 fouette' turns! Both sides! Then, two or three or four on your strong side won't bother you at all."

"Are the tutu blocking the correct angles?"

"I want the bourre's en pointe the ones where your knees 'flutter like butterflies fluttering by'!"

"I want these particular echappe's to travel like sissone on to pointe! But, softly! Never bang down en pointe."

"Don't let your pelvis pitch back! Neutral pelvis will allow greatest turn-out! For most of you that'll feel 'tucked under' because you normally stand 'untucked'! Close that barn door before your technique escapes! NOT after!"

"Clean and classical! I think we really have an opportunity here to showcase your charisma and your classical technique! So, much more clean! Much more classical!"

"Hold that flute like a flute! Flutter those fingers! It's not a lead pipe! You're not playing the Sharks and Jets heading to a rumble!"

"Don't 'take' from the audience! Give instead! Don't demand adulation, applause or admiration! Share your love of dancing. Don't be a selfish dancer! Your motivation must be pure! The more you demand, the less the audience will give. The more you share on stage, the more they will give to you. Check your ego at the stage-door! It'll still be there when you leave!"

10.13.2008: Between A Rocco And a Hard Place!

Well, the charming celebrity chef is on the hot plate and the "red light" special may be the his "head on a platter" this next week! Rocco is a gracious and giving guy. I watched his reality special premiere courtesy of iTunes the other week. And he really seems to be someone you'd like to sit down and have him cook you dinner sometime. But, I think all his talent may have gone in that one direction. As talented as he may be at the game of cooking game, he has "very little game" on the dance floor. Unless that changes and quickly, his "goose may be cooked" by this time next week. Now, I like Cloris and her efforts on the dance floor despite her age are a tribute to her and her professional partner. But, she has even "less game" on the dance floor than Rocco. I'd rather she go than Rocco. On the other hand, Brooke was awesome this last week! What line and musicality! She gets better every week and her "ten" at the hands of head judge Len was well-deserved. If that effort was later in the season, it may have well been the first "30" of the year. Burke's been strong every week so far, but, she really elevated her game with this last effort. She served notice last week that she's this year's Kristi Yamaguchi and well may lead wire-to-wire as the Ice Queen almost did last season! And, why not a "tournament of champions"? Have the winners of the last several seasons return for a series of head-to-head competitions? Also, I'd like to see a rematch between Emmit and Mario like that Season One-And-A-Half rematch between Monaco and the J Peterman dude. Or, Stacy, Jerry and Drew! Or, how about between Helio and Apolo? How 'bout it? A knock-down, drag out, "Tournament of Champions" and fan-favorites! I'll pick the fan favorites!

10.10.2008: Overheard in CCDC Ballet Class

"When the foot is in front, bring the knee and toes back to work turn-out. If you bring the knee back, your foot will follow. But, if you bring the foot back...most likely your knee will stay out there and turn you in."

"Bring the seat under and replace your placement, to bring the foot in from the back. Try to make the heel beat the knee back in. That'll stretch and strengthen your turn-out."

"Whenever you bring your foot/pelvic placement in from the back, make sure you turn out your standing leg a little bit more."

"Don't just go through the motions during a forced-arch exercise. Imagine there's a stick between your heels allowing the forced-arch to force a better arch when straightening the knees."

"Show that forced-arched foot at the end of your tendu, degage', pas de cheval, developpe', etcetera."

"Listen to the music. Let your arms breathe with the movements of the rest of the body. Let the neck lengthen!"

"Arms like wings! Neck like a swan! Legs like...uh...long legs!"

"If you don't use your head and neck and focus while you're dancing, you're short-changing the audience! Use your entire body to dance! Without your head, neck and back, it's like going to Cold Stone Creamery and ordering a sundae...but, getting no cherry! It's like going to Panera and ordering a sandwich...but, getting no pickle! It's like going to Pancheros, ordering a burrito...but, getting no salsa, no jalapenos, no pico de gallo! Give me 'all the flava' while you're dancing!"

"Nice to have you back! Are you going to scoop out your middle for me in class?"

"If you wiggle...we will giggle! Before you can move, you have to learn to be still!"

"If you wanna dance like a dancer, you have to stand like a dancer!" Stand like a goober...and you'll dance like peanut butter!"

"When's the last time you opened the refrigerator and you saw some jello doing perfect pirouettes? Never! That's because jello doesn't turn well! So, when you turn, don't let your middle turn to jello, J Lo!"

10.09.2008: What2Ask

The CCDancedoC got this in the emailbag recently:
"...when I visit with the dean of the dance department I was thinking of asking questions along these lines:
  • How many technique classes are offered/can you take as a freshman?

  • Are other forms of dance mandatory?

  • Is pointe class offered?

  • How flexible are your schedules to compromise with other classes?

  • Where was the faculty all trained?

  • Has anyone every joined a company after attending your 4 year program? Where?

...That is all i really have now. If you can think of anything to add or subtract please let me know!"

This is what got sent back:
"How about these?
  • What is the percentage of your graduates that go on to dance professionally? What’s the breakdown? Ballet, Modern, Contemporary, Broadway, Cruise ships, theme parks, etc.

  • What percentage of your graduates go on to a dance-related field? Teaching, choreography, stage managing, sound, light design, etc.

  • Tell me about the variety of performance opportunities for your dance majors over the course of a typical year.

  • What other dance-related opportunities are available to your dance majors? Stage managing, choreography, sound and light design, etc.

  • Tell me about the background of your permanent faculty as well as recent guest teachers. Talk about any recent workshops.

  • How many opportunities are there to watch or participate in professional concert dance performances on-or-near campus over the course of a typical year?

  • How closely does your faculty work to ensure post-graduation dance-or-dance-related employment for your students?

  • Tell me about what you consider your most recent success-story from a dance-major graduate from your school.

  • What would you tell a student who doesn’t appear to have what it takes to succeed as a professional dancer? How often does that happen?

  • Does your school allow dance majors to supplement their training at off-campus institutions? How often does that happen?

  • What sort of dance training opportunities do you offer on weekends, during breaks, vacations or between semesters?

...Okay, that’s all I got for now!"

...And, you might ask about how far the dance facilities are from student dorms, how easy it is to get around campus, about special diet plans food service might offer, how many formal and informal performing groups are on campus, how many professional or semi-professional dance companies are based in the area, etc.

10.08.2008: Dreaming With The Starz

Do the dreams you remember always mean something? Or are they just random firing of synapses while the brain rewires itself for a new day? Sigmund Freud writes that dreams are the "royal road to the subconscious". Now, if that's true, what a strange and bizarre place my subconscious must be! Any amateur dream analysts are welcome to make what they want of this: Pro dancer Cheryl Burke of DWTS popped up in a dream of mine last night. She was trying on a pair of glasses and I, apparently, was the sales dude. She fiddled with them for awhile, but, finally decided against it. Despite my best sales pitch, she walked away. When I woke up, I remember thinking, "Now what the heck does that mean?"...Which allows us to segue seamlessly into the show that has apparently set up shop in my subconscious, Dancing With The Stars. Watched the second weak this past weak end. No tears shed while watching Kim "Baby Got Back" Kardashian and her J Lo booty get booted from the series. Kardashian is one of those new phenomenom, 21st Century "celebutantes", famous for only being famous. She's well known for being mildly, reasonably attractive, but, there's no personality, charisma or talent to back up her rep. And, I haven't watched this week's installments, but, (***SPOILER ALERT***ABANDON READING IF YOU WANT TO WATCH THE EPISODES LATER IN BLISSFUL IGNORANCE OF THE BIZARRE AND AWESOME DEVELOPMENTS!!! WHATEVER YOU DO, DON'T EVEN DREAM OF READING FURTHER!!! DON'T DO IT!!!***) couldn't help but hear what happened. How odd that an Olympic athlete suffers an injury and has to withdraw from competiton...while an octogenarian blithely blathers on. Sure! Win two gold medals, but, fall short of the mirror-ball trophy! Misti always looked out of her element, but, you have to give her props for getting so far out of her comfort zone. At least she was already used to performing in front of a lot of people in a revealing outfit! And, I forgot to mention that Toni Braxton is also on my watch list. More power to her and her struggle with her heart condition. I'm on the edge of my seat everytime I watch her struggle to catch her breath. Let's hope there's no repeat of the Marie Osmond swoon from last season...or worse! And, fans of the charismatic chef can apparently catch him on his own reality series. And, you can download Rocco's first free episode this week courtesy of iTunes.

10.08.2008: 2Drink? Or Not 2Drink Juice?

(Courtesy Newswise) — For decades, children of all ages have consumed fruit juice as part of their school meals or in the lunches they have toted from home. 100 percent fruit juice was then, and is still today, a healthful beverage that can serve as a daily fruit serving.

Recently, however, some parents have become confused about 100 percent juice—how much to drink, how much to serve their children—partly because of the natural sweet taste of fruit juice. The majority of research on juice shows that it definitely contributes important nutrients to the diet and is clearly not the reason for childhood obesity.

Researchers write “there is no systematic association between consumption of 100% fruit juice and overweight in children or adolescents.”

Appropriate amounts are 4-6 ounces of 100 percent juice daily for children 1-6 years old, and 8-12 ounces daily for older children from ages 7-18.

The USDA Food Guide Pyramid also includes guidelines for incorporating 100 percent juice as a fruit serving. Fruit juices also provide substantial contributions of several nutrients in higher amounts in the diet than do whole fruits, including vitamin C, folate and potassium. In addition, 100 percent fruit juice contains many naturally occurring phytonutrients that contribute to good health.

10.07.2008: Musical Musings

This was in my e-mail recently:
"...A new study due to be published in the Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology shows music can enhance endurance and help exercisers feel more positive even when they are working out at a very high intensity..."
...this is even more reason to LISTEN to the music during class. You have to practice LISTENING so you can LISTEN while performing or auditioning. A good dancer learns to use the music to motivate his or her movement. Musicality can and must be developed. Dance isn't just aerobics. The music isn't just background. It needs to interweave with the dancing so the whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts. Learn to listen and use the music to make you move...and together you will be able to "move the audience". Use this trick when you start feeling fatigued during a long exercise or variation: keep breathing, LISTEN to the music and let it take over the movements for you.

10.08.2008: Web Lynx Unleashed

Sequel to Center Stage info:

Sequel to Popular Feature Film Center Stage, Starring Award Winning Actor Peter Gallagher and Ballet Star Ethan Stiefel..."

Get the scoop from The Futon Critic

Must be nice to be young, talented...and noticed:
"...He has been asked to attend the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow, a rare invitation from one of the best dance schools on Earth. According to the Russian American Foundation, which organizes auditions for the Bolshoi, Matthew Leonardi is the only American male accepted this year..."
Read the story from the LA Times.
More from Morphoses:
"...performed with an impersonal lambent beauty that made visible the cool, flowing clarity of the music and the lunar dreamscape of the choreography..."
Check it out from the New York Times.
Les blanc du blanc:
"...Swan Lake showcases the breadth and depth of a company; and on opening night the Royal came up trumps...."
Here's the rest of the story from the Times of London
Ten curtain calls?!:
"...But at Saturday's matinee, a predominantly French audience at the Theatre du Chatelet applauded for so long that the company was able to give more than 10 curtain calls after the third of its four Swan Lake performances before a capacity crowd at the Right Bank theatre by the Seine...."

From the land of wonder, the land down under and the Sydney Morning Herald.

10.06.2008: Turn of the Shoe

Recent E-mail to a distant dancer:
"...I've been giving a combination of turns en diaganol across the floor that I think is deceptively simple this week: soutenou turn, tour de basque, single chainne' tour in fifth a terre into chasse' tour en l'air, repeat. The trick is to make sure the back leg crosses to the front in the first two turns. The last two steps you have to make sure the back leg stays in back during the turn. The steps are very similar and often confused. A well-trained dancer should be able to consistently display the differences. The apocraphyl story goes like this: during a master teacher workshop conducted by Georgi Balanchivadze, he asked one of his dancers to demonstrate chainne' in first, in front fifth and in back fifth. The dancer he brought in to show steps wasn't able to do it despite several attempts and much coaching and correction. That's when one of his NYCB dancers who showed up to take the demonstration class to stay in shape had enough. She threw down her dance bag, strode to the center of the studio in front of Mr. B and master teachers from around the country and ripped off a series of chainne' turns in first, front fifth and back fifth. She stalked over to her bag, picked it up and as she walked out of the studio, turned and said, "THAT'S how that step is done!" Which dancer would you have been if you were at that Ford Foundation workshop?"

10.06.2008: A Bouquet of Bussell...and More!

Some of the latest offerings I found on YouTube.Com recently. You can watch Darcy Bussell coaching kids in Les Cygnets here. Watch her demonstrate Odette's solo here . And, you can see her rehearse Carmen here. And, for those struggling with their garaglioles, Russian students demonstrate it as part of their combination here. A whole lotta reversing going on in Russia as well! And, still not convinced you should be working on those stretching and strengthening those extensions? Check out your future competition here. And, here's a fun character class.

10.03.2008: Media Musings

Well, not too impressed so far with the latest season of DWTS. (Keep in mind I time shift the show to the weekend, so, I'm still talking about the first weak impressions.) Just off the toppa my head, nobody this year jumps off the stage like Stacy, Mario, Kristy, Drew, Helio, Apolo or even that J. Peterman actor in previous seasons. (And, good4Mario! Way 2 parlay that 2nd place finish to a new career boost hosting those MTV Krew and Pop Star Competitions! Where's the statuesque Stacey not-so-elfin Kiebler disappeared 2?) I like Brooke, but, she suffers in comparison to some of the sheer dance-power from other seasons. As usual there are a number of obvious charming, charismatic, but, non-dancers at the start of this season who should be put mercifully out of their misery in the first few weaks. Now, I know this may be heresy to my alleged geographical allegiance, but, even though Cloris hails from around these parts, I still don't cotton to what passes for her cotton-pickin' dancin'! (But, I'm also the apostate who still thinks local "golden girl" Shawn Johnson suffers in comparison to the "nasty one". There goes my chance to coach SJ on her floor routine all the way to the London Olympics!o) Cloris is filling and expanding on that Jerry Springer role. Charismatic, lovable, outrageous antics, but, can't dance worth a lick! And, the two gold medalists should finish out of money. I also still think Boy Disney and the former Boy Bander will get in synch soon and challenge for the title. And, that Chef could catch fire eventually and saute' and flambe' to near the top. Also, something appealing about Warren Sapp as well. Nothing like a big man who's not scared to dance big. I nominate him as "the dark horse" in this race. Thankfully, tho', no Master-P-Stands-4-Pathetic this year. Even the first guy eliminated, Jeffrey Ross was hilarious and, I-4-1 was mildly looking forward to his promised "Ross-a-nova"!o)

10.02.3008: Deft Nations

I was deep in a conversation the other day with another Capital City Dance Center teacher when I commented on her "banana-boat feet*" and I even sung out the classic "Day-oh!" from the old Banana Boat Song. (Dates me I know, but, still cracks me up!o) Then, I realized that my comments made no sense at all to most of the young students in the room. That's because there are all kinds of terms used in the ballet world that don't translate very well to the uninitiated and you won't find them in your Gail Grant** (See below). You can probably figure most of these out from context, but, as a public service, I'll define a few here with the caveat that they're not all universal and different studios probably have different colloquial vernacular in different cities, states (and, certainly, different countries!o):
*Banana Boat Feet or Banana Feet
Extraordinarily beautiful and flexible feet with high arches. Very desirable in the ballet world, but, usually lacking in strength. Sometimes known as...

Taffy's Feet
Taffy's was a danceware maker that used to advertise in Dance Mag. It featured hand-drawn dancers with impossibly high-arched feet. Thus, the term.
Term for someone who is obsessed with ballet. The term comes from girls who always have their hair up in a bun for class, but, it can also be used for a male. Sometimes used derisively by less hard-working students. Also, see...
As in Trina, the ballerina. Derisive term by jealous others for someone too cute, too pretty, too good a dancer. As in "She's such a Trina!". This is now also the name of a danceware maker.
This has the same pejorative meaning as in larger society. Probably originated from the world of Opera. Someone who's overly convinced of his or her own artistic importance.
Ballet Mom
This is a specific term for a...
Helicopter Parent
This is a relatively new term for a parent who "hovers" around their child a little too much. Usually a little too convinced of the budding talent of their progeny. Not to be confused with a...
Helicopter or Helicopter Lift
A particular spectacular-looking, usually audience-pleasing lift that involves an assisted throw in a jump in a la seconde with a half-turn en l'air that ends in a fish pose. Because it's easier than it looks, often over-used at inappropriate moments by unimaginative choreographers!o)
**Gail Grant
Author of a widely used ballet dictionary. Usually considered the final word in matters of ballet style and definition.
...But, there are things you can't find in your Gail Grant. Are there other terms you've heard that should be in here? For example, what would it mean to "do a Sally dance?" Or, to "Shine like Shannon"? E-mail me!o)

10.02.2008: Pet The Web Lynx!

SYTYCD kicks off, Canada Style:
"...It has been a long route to the Finals, but these exceptional dancers have made it to the top and have been chosen from thousands of 'Dance' hopefuls. Canada, it's time to meet your very first Top 20!..."

Check out the top twenty from Canada's CTV.

The rumors are true! Roadtrip NE1?:

"...The world renowned Kirov Ballet returns to Chicago this week to perform its production of the classic romance Giselle for five performances, October 2 - 5 at the Auditorium Theater..."

Access webvid interview and in-studio performance from Chicago's ABC affilliate Hate dancing in TV studios. Usually have to lay marley over concrete. (And, btw, Makarova is pronounced "muh-KAH'-roh-vuh" NOT "MACK'-uh-ROW-vuh".)

Once again, couldn't have said it better myself:
"...There's no such thing as a really great city without having great arts..."
Check it out from Fox 12 News. I was wondering if that's where CCDC Summer Guest Instructor Jason Hartley is now. But, their new improved Ballet Idaho website provides no company roster.

10.01.2008: Tutu Go!

So, both Princess SarAurorah II and the dread Sorceress Rothbarta traveled to the City-of-Much-Wind-and-Shoulders-Broad to watch the ballet company from the City-By-The-Way...and all I got was this lousy T-shirt!o) (Just kiddin! I LOVE my "Drop me 50!" T-shirt!o) No reams of reviews from performances. No detailed treatises of treatment in classical dance classes. Oh, I did get an oral report after much prodding on the part of the younger Princess. But, that's worth about as much to this ballet blog as the paper it wasn't written on! Now it's up to me to recollect what they mentioned and put it into a coherent form on this forum. Well, I suggested they take from an old teacher of mine...and, they followed my suggestion. And, I must have made some impression those many years ago because they say Homer Bryant remembered me. Or at least he claimed to. I remember HB quite well. Early in our acquaintanceship he threatened to throw me out of class when I disrespected him and changed a combination more to my liking. But, I backed down and he let me stay. I learned a lot from Mister Bryant and, hopefully, we'll be able to bring him in to teach some classes at CCDC someday. On another topic, funny how you go to a city far away and take from a teacher you've never seen before and they give you some of the same corrections you've been getting at home. It's a recurring phenomenom and La Sonambula learned again that many teachers see the same things when they look at the same student. There's a hierarchy of corrections that all good instructors learn to draw upon. The most basic corrections should produce the greatest improvements, but, they are the hardest to incorporate. After a while, a dancer needs to realize it's not "more", "new", "different" or "better" corrections they need to progress. It's doing the work of applying the corrections they've been already getting. Also, interesting to have two dancers watch the same performance and come away with entirely different opinions on the choreography. But, they did both agree that their first taste of SFB was impressive...and the dancers of that company are, indeed, world-class. I've said it before and I'll say it again...San Francisco Ballet is one of my favorite dance companies based in one of my favorite cities. The company used to perform every year in my hometown. I used to sneak into the old Blaisdell Arena to watch company class and rehearsals. Watching Evelyn Cisneros in R+J was an education in the development of character acting while dancing. But, bottom line, I am intensely jealous of SarAurorah II and Rothbarta, but, glad to have them back. Next time, pack me in that suitcase...

09.26.2008: Bargain Basement

Here's an excerpt from a press release today of special interest to "starving students" of the arts in the Capital City area:
"...The Civic Center is also introducing discounted student rush tickets this season for selected events. FROST/NIXON will be the first event with $20 tickets for all performances. Student rush tickets will be available for purchase to any student with a current/valid student ID. Tickets must be purchased on the same day as the performance they wish to attend at the Civic Center Ticket Office and are limited to one ticket per student..."

09.26.2008: Dancing On The Web

Here's the website of a fledgling dance company still trying to take flight in dicey economic times.

09.26.2008: Medical Notes of Interest

FYI: This "sadistic statistic" for Connie McHattel who just got that cast off:

(Courtesy Newswise — Women are four times more likely than men to experience a broken forearm and require a cast (immobilization). To examine whether the effects of casting were similar between the sexes, researchers examined immobilized volunteers for a period of three weeks. They determined that while men were able to regain 99% of their strength within a week of removing the cast, women’s strength was still 30% lower when compared to before the cast was applied. These finding may have implications for the treatment of fractures based on gender lines.

Ten healthy volunteers completed three weeks of forearm immobilization. The subjects were fitted with a forearm cast on their non-dominant arm and each persons wrist muscle strength was determined weekly during the immobilization phase, and a week after the casts were removed. The measurements taken prior to the casting were repeated to detect any gender differences that may have developed over the course of splinting or recovery.

The research team found: men’s strength had returned to baseline levels one week after the cast was removed; women’s recovery levels were significantly lower, one week after the cast was removed they still exhibited strength deficits of approximately 30% below baseline. All the women exhibited a slow recovery of their strength (at least a 15% reduction relative to baseline); whereas only one of the men showed a similar deficit.

In explaining possible reasons for the discrepancies, researchers suggest that hormones, and the role they play in regulating muscle mass, may contribute to slower recovery times in women. “This finding is preliminary and on a very small sample size, so, we must caution against over-interpreting our work. However, it certainly indicates that more work needs to be done to confirm and understand the reasons for these discrepancies and the extent to which they occur. However, when our findings are examined in the context of existing work of others, they suggest that women may require additional, or more intensive, rehabilitation programs following periods of immobilization or bed rest.”

(Courtesy Newswise) — Energy drinks: They're readily accessible, legal, and potentially addictive. They claim to improve performance, increase concentration, and stimulate metabolism, yet these highly caffeinated, sugar-laden beverages are causing considerable concern among health professionals.

Excessive caffeine has been linked to elevated heart rates, hypertension, anxiety, headaches, and interrupted sleep patterns. Some energy drinks warn that they're not for use by individuals younger than 18, those pregnant or nursing, or if there's a family history of heart disease, high blood pressure, depression, caffeine-sensitivity, glaucoma, and other ailments. But most carry no warning.

A recent statewide Patient Poll found that:

  • 20 percent of respondents ages 21-30 had used energy drinks in high school or college to stay awake longer to study or write a paper.

  • 70 percent of respondents knew someone who had used an energy drink to stay awake longer to study or work

A cup of brewed coffee has between 80 and 135 milligrams of caffeine. Some energy drinks contain two to three times that amount plus the equivalent of 5 teaspoons of sugar.

"My colleagues and I are seeing more patients coming in with sleep disturbances, often caused by energy drinks," notes Philadelphia family physician Suzanne Steele. Dr. Steele feels that most people should not be drinking these beverages, especially growing children.

"They can often be harmful. Energy drinks contribute to sleep disturbances, obesity, tooth decay, and dehydration. Children should be drinking milk instead to strengthen their growing bones. We're looking at a generation that will have serious problems with osteoporosis based on a lack of calcium intake and obesity from too much sugar. Brittle bones and too much weight on them just spells trouble."

Dr. Steele also cautions that if you have an undiagnosed heart condition, you could be risking your life by consuming so much caffeine. Additionally, combining alcohol and/or anti-depressants with energy drinks can be hazardous. "If you need an energy boost, eat a complex carbohydrate like organic trail mix or a spoonful of peanut butter and a glass of water. Increase your energy level slowly and safely, not with a caffeine/sugar rush."

Elevated caffeine poses particular risks for athletes, according to pediatrician Anthony Kovatch.

"In the humid heat of summer, you often hear of high school athletes having adverse effects," Dr. Kovatch says, cautioning that while some athletes consider energy drinks as performance boosters, they may in fact do the reverse. "If you drink this stuff because you’re hot, you’re defeating the purpose. Not only does caffeine raise your heart rate, it’s a diuretic. It increases the kidney's disposal of fluid from the body. You’re likely to go to the bathroom more often, which is a problem in the middle of any sporting event. And you may think you are getting hydrated, but instead, you're getting dehydrated. And that can be dangerous.”

Dr. Kovatch urges parents and coaches to discourage the use of energy drinks. “The level of caffeine in these drinks can be better tolerated by an adult body, but not in children and teens. If you’re getting ready for a sporting event, you’re already pumped up and the additional buzz can make you hyper, and then you lose your focus.”

Doctors suggest the following alternatives to energy drinks:

  • Low fat milk

  • Water, but not flavored waters. Try lemon and honey, or mint leaves in water.

  • Diluted fruit juice

  • Vegetable juice

For more information about the dangers of caffeine and energy drinks, click here.

09.25.2008: Submitted On Spec

So, here's the article on getting more guys to dance I started once and never finished. Remember, it's aimed at the young, professional male audience:
"Why You (You Snarling Macho Man, You) Should Take A Dance Class!

Why should a red-blooded all-american male even think about strapping on a tutu, lacing up a pair of toe shoes and taking a dance class?

First of all, get past that misleading mental picture, Baryshnikov. Guys hardly ever wear tutus and don't call what the women wear "toe shoes" either. They're called "pointe shoes" and usually only women wear them. As for why you should take a dance class...just wander into a local dance studio and you should see the answer, Stevie Wonder.

Women. Wall-to-wall women. And not just your run-of-the-mill females either. Gorgeous leotards and tights. So, how do you get your passport stamped to this fantasy land of female nirvana? Sign up for a beginning dance class, Fred Astaire.

Okay, now the hardest part is getting past that "real guys don't dance" thing. Nobody ever saw John Wayne do a "boot scootin' boogie" in Rooster Cogburn or any of his films. But, remember John Travolta cut a mean rug in Saturday Night Fever and Urban Cowboy...and if you ever glanced away from Uma in Pulp Fiction, he was right there shakin' his groove thang, yeah-yeah. And, martial arts aficionados can tell you Bruce Lee won the Hong Kong Crown Colony Cha-Cha Championship before he went on to Green Hornet and Enter the Dragon fame. Can't get more macho than the original Fists Of Fury!

Don't let that homophobia thing stop you from finding your inner dancer. True, there are some guys who are a little light in their leotards in the dance world, but, taking a dance class never turned anyone gay who wasn't in the closet before. Just keep thinking to yourself: wall-to-wall women...wall-to-wall women.

But, don't think it's open season at the all-you-can-eat dessert buffet either. Most dancers are there to dance. You can socialize on your own time. Just remember a studio "barre" isn't a singles bar. Take your time. Worry about getting better at dancing. Meeting people usually takes place on the periphery of training. And, the better you get, the more girls will talk to you. A word of warning: that dance class you were salivating at was probably an advanced or professional class. You and your two left feet will probably be starting light years back in the absolute beginning class. These are the classes that housewives usually sign up for, but they also include aspiring models and actresses. Beginning adult students are usually a self-selecting group. Little more comfortable with their bodies. Little more in shape. If that sounds a little like you, cross-training in dance could be right up your alley.

So, how do you start? How do you figure out..."

Whaddya think? Should I go ahead and submit it someplace?

09.24.2008: Pending Performances+Reminiscences

This just in to the Capital City Dance Center Newsroom:
"...RIVER NORTH CHICAGO DANCE COMPANY (April 22, 2009) – River North Dance Chicago Company makes its Civic Center debut. Dedicated to the advancement of jazz-based contemporary dance, RNCDC...has grown into a professional ensemble that performs at home in Chicago and tours across the United States and internationally. Tickets go on sale to the public Monday, Dec. 15, 2008. Tickets prices to be announced..."
...this one will date me, but, I remember when I was living and training in Chicago's now-trendy River North neighborhood (Working at the old Kampai Sushi Bar just kitty-korner from the Merchandise Mart, a stone's throw from the Chicago River) and I auditioned for this pick-up company in a teeny studio at the top of a walk-up. I wasn't very impressed. At the top of the dance heap in the Windy City at the time was Lou Conte's Hubbard Street Dance Company still setting the gold global standard. It was followed by Joseph Holmes Dance Company, Joel Hall Dancers and a few other aspiring artistic wanna-be groups. RNCDC was in that more-or-less mediocre mix at the time. It looks like they've managed to step up their game since then. But, at that time, I wouldn't have predicted it. I knew that JHDC was interested in hiring me, and I assume River North was too, but, I had just gotten a firm offer from a real professional classical company. And, off I went to the Duluth Ballet. And, the rest, I like to say, is dance history. ( least in my mind!o)

09.24.2008: Secret Scroll of Better Ballet

When I was young and training in various martial arts, the other students and I would often trade speculation about the rumored "secret scrolls" of the Chinese Kung-Fu Masters. Legend had it that ancient scrolls had been handed down in secret from the time the Shaolin Temple had been burned down, razed and the surviving monks scattered to the far ends of the Middle Kingdom. Supposedly, the documents contained secrets like invisibility, the delayed touch of death and how to walk on sand without leaving tracks. The rumor was that martial arts superstar Bruce Lee had been killed by such a death touch from someone in a crowd who was displeased with the disrespect and notoriety the actor was bringing to the long secret traditions of Oriental martial arts. So, it was with some skepticism we greeted the news from one of the younger sifu or sibak one day that he had once learned what was in one of those legendary scrolls. "Do you want to know how to walk on sand without leaving tracks?" Daniel K asked some of us senior students and junior instructors or sisuk. Of course, we badgered him to tell us. "It's simple," he said. "The scroll says to start by walking on sand every day. And, every day, leave less and less tracks until the day comes when you can walk on sand and leave no tracks." We all guffawed and accused him of making that up...because really that was no secret at all. It taught you nothing new. So, then, this is the gist of this thistly epistle: don't wait for some secret technique to make you better at what you want to do. And, that the greatest secrets of all are hidden in plain sight. What if that one correction you needed to become a better dancer are the ones being taught to you everyday at Capital City Dance Center? Don't let any teacher ever accuse you of letting them "cast pearls before swine". And, one dancer's valuable correction could be another's distraction. So, now that I have switched from the martial to the performing arts, if I were to write on some scroll the "secrets" of becoming a professional dancer, they would be:
  • Take all your classes.

  • Listen to your teachers.

  • Apply all corrections.

  • Hard work is the great equalizer.

  • Come early before class. Stay late to work on things.

  • Write down corrections and combinations after class. Review them often.

  • Watch as many good performances as you can, live or Memorex. Copy what looks good, discard the rest.

  • Have fun!

...Do these "secrets" seem too simple for you? This is how teachers hide things in plain sight. There's the "secret scroll" of invisibility. A word to the wise is sufficient. Do all these "secret" things and you mark yourself as "one to watch". (So, how do I manage to make everything come around to making a point about dance? Dance is life is dance is life...and everyone's a dancer! The only difference is the quality of the training. ...And, this is a ballet blog after all!o)

09.24.2008: Like A Phoenix From The Floods

A former CCDC Workshop Instructor sends this along:
"...I wanted to let you all know of an exciting event happening this weekend in Cedar Rapids that we are a part of. Its the Global Dance Fest, and it takes place at the CSPS in the Czech Village. I will be teaching a modern dance workshop on Saturday from 4-5:30 that is open to all ages and skill levels, and we will be performing that same evening, along with other festival participants at 8 p.m. More information about participating artists can be found here. If you buy a ticket for the performance for $10, you are admitted free to one workshop, otherwise workshops are $5 each. Weekend passes are also available for $20 and will get you into the performance and as many workshops as you'd like. It is advised that you purchase tickets ahead of time. For more info on ticketing, click here. Please pass along the flyers, spread the word, and support your local arts!

Nicole Hussain Morford
Artistic Director
Poetic Rebound Performance Company"

09.23.2008: The Sprain In The Lane Is Mainly A Big Pain!

The CCDancedoC sent this out recently to the parent of a student who took "tripping the light fantastic" a little too literally. (To make the record crystal clear, she didn't hurt it in any CCDC classes):
"...Make sure she ices it frequently. Two, three, four times a day, 20 minutes tops at a time is best. Ice massage. (But, not right before class, once she comes back.) When she does come back to dance, consider using an ankle wrap. Keeping the swelling down will promote healing. On advice of your physician, Tylenol or ibuprofen..."
...Once you do come back, ice and heat before class. Just ice afterwards. Err on the side of caution in recovery. Take it easy in class. Take the time to warm-it up slowly and carefully before barre. Take care of it, so your injury doesn't become chronic. Keep in mind, once you sprain it, you're at increased risk of respraining it for a long time after. And, remember, the CCDancedoC is not a medical professional, just a former dancer with a "street degree" from the "school of hard knocks".

09.22.2008: Whispers In The Wind

From recent e-mails to a distant distaff dancer:
"...So, I actually had a more consistent plan for all the level of ballet classes I teach this week. First, at the level IV, I introduced "contre temps". Teaching them forward and, even, reversing the step at the barre. Then, getting them to perform the step in center...and integrating it into the grand allegro combination. In level V, I introduced the "contre temps battu" step, both the single and demonstrating the double, both forward and reverse. In level VI, I reviewed the "contre temp battu double" and introduced "contre temp battu en tournant". I'd actually only performed that step in a class once before when a former principal dancer with the Hartford Ballet and I used to give each other dance classes back in Honolulu. It's not as hard as it sounds, but, gives a little flair to the step. (But, try reversing it!o) I also taught "tour de basque" and sissons in the lower levels. I think I'll demonstrate the difference with "soutenou turns" and "sissou" over the next few classes. Balanchine spotting during Grand Menage is always challenging for the new level VI's!o)

The other thing I've been working on this week is: choreographing a new Merlitons as rehearsal starts this weekend. I've known and danced to this music all my life, but, I started by trying to listening to the music with fresh ears and an open mind, over and over, letting it seep into my subconscious. I always want to reflect the structure of the music in the structure of the choreography, but, I want to introduce enough variation into the steps that's not always evident in the music. I know that at the University level, actually choreographing to music is often considered old-fashioned. But, that doesn't bother me. Music, to me, especially in classical choreography, should always be the starting pointe. Not slavish, mind you, but, recognizing the music as the framework for the choreographic arc.

I have to constantly remind myself to try to avoid choreographing too much, too early. Like most dancers-turned-choreographers, I always have an urge to get a lot of steps done and down, so, I have something to teach at this first two hour rehearsal. But, setting the steps often kills the alternative---and, possibly, more creative---options. Balancing on the edge of not knowing and not setting can be very unnerving and unsettling as you can imagine. I'll probably throw some steps at the dancers this weekend. Settle on some steps at the last moment. I'll probably try and start by playing with some things. Learn what the dancers can and cannot do. Fortunately, I only have one rehearsal this weekend. Next week, I'll have to be listening to the Dew Drop Fairy music to set her entrance and solo...and repeat the same unsettling, unnerving process all over again..."

...and, I have some advice for beginning student choreographers. You don't have to make it as difficult as possible! To me that's always a sign of inexperience. Difficult steps just for the sake of difficulty almost always is just a case of the choreographer saying "Look at me! I can make steps that my dancers can't do! If I only had better dancers!" Get your ego out of the way! Use the tools you have to the best of their ability. I don't mean you should shy away from challenging them to raise their game, but, show what your dancers can do! Don't show what they can't! Why? I always try to start by asking "How would the music dance itself if it were visible?" The third answer to that question should be your starting pointe...

09.19.2008: The Second Generation

For those of you who recall the first CCDC student to get a professional contract, just got this announcement in the mail from the former Mayor Brooke (with a photo of a widdle, biddy baby!o):
Conner Joseph I____
Born August 27th, 2008
at 7:02pm.
7 pounds, 19.5 inches
Made with love by
Brooke & Adam I____

09.19.2008: Philosopher's Stone

Musings from the CCDancedoC:
"Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.
Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime" which the CCDancedoC quickly adds:
"...But, if you teach a man to DANCE,
you make him a CHICK MAGNET for ever!"
Fish? Dance? Fish?? DANCE!!! Slimey, scaley, slippery, smelly fish? Or, the company of beautiful girls in leotards and tights? Guys, you decide! DANCE!!!

And, while we're on that subject, there's something I started once and never finished. It was intended to be an article for a men's health or fitness magazine (Maybe I'll send it on spec sometime). I may post that at a later date.

09.18.2008: One2Watch

...Now, how can you mark yourself as "one to watch" during the audition process or during classes, workshops or summer intensives? Here are some tips off the top of the pointy part:
Look the part to get the part
Dress like a classical danseur or ballerina. No baggie warm-ups, sweats or cover-ups. Remember the words of the old Russian ballet master, Ivan Aldi Krapov: Take the instrument out of the case! Clean, well-fitted leotard with "no holy" tights, hair in a bun---no bangs, no "wispies"--- for women. Find a style and color that flatters your body type. Hard to go wrong with black leo and pink tights for girls, black tights and white, form-fitting t-shirt for guys. If you're not sure what's best, ask your teacher or a trusted professional dancer. Think long and hard before wearing a non-traditional color.

Pay attention during the audition or workshop
Don't ask needless questions, but, don't hesitate if something's not clear. Listen to every other question and to ALL corrections. What impresses me a lot is when I give a general correction or to someone specifically...and I see one or two other other dancers apply it immediately as well. This immediately marks them as "ones to watch".

DON'T engage in a conversation with me when I'm correcting you!
I'm not there to make friends at first. My first job is to give you the correction and make sure you understand it. Not to listen to your excuses about why you're not doing it. I'm not your therapist or your BFF, I'm your ballet teacher. Take your cue from me how much banter I'll tolerate.

Thank the teacher.
The curtsy or bow at the end of each class is de rigeur, but, a one-on-one thanks is usually appreciated. As usual, take your guide from the teacher. And, if it seems appropriate, you can always ask for guidance. What should I work on when I go back to my regular classes or before or between the next class/rehearsal? What should I do to better prepare for the next audition/workshop/rehearsal?

...Okay, if I think of more, I'll post them.

09.17.2008: Cross-Training4Dancerz

I was caught off-guard the other day when a new transfer student asked me what she could do outside of class to help her gain strength for ballet after her first real class. Actually, I was pleasantly surprised because it usually takes a little while before new students actively solicit such advice. (It marks this student as one to watch.) But, what immediately leapt to mind was core conditioning. I always like to say "there's no such thing as a good, weak dancer" and "good ballet comes from the inside-out". So, I suggested abdominal "crunches" every day. But, I also cautioned her to make sure to do them without sticking the stomach out. (Doing crunches the wrong way is worse for ballet dancers than not doing anything at all.) Scoop that midsection in. Do the crunches by pulling the stomach in and down to lengthen the lower back against the floor. Do abdominal strengthening every day. Throw in some oblique crunches, as well. When you first start, you should do enough crunches to "feel the burn", but, not so much as to lose proper form. I also suggested she do calf raises on the stairs. Hang your heels off a stair step while holding on to the railing or wall. Slowly raise and lower through the full range of motion. Do 8-to-16 to warm-up, then, 8-to-16 on one leg, then the other and finish off with 8-to-16 with both legs again. Remember to do enough to feel the burn, but, not so much as to lose form. (Keep the weight centered on the big toe and the toe right next to it.) She also asked about using her Therabands. I told her to do the standard foot rotation and pointing exercises with whatever combination of Therabands provided good resistance. (I've always half-joked that dancers don't really need Therabands. They're really for people who aren't flexible enough to reach their feet or ankles on their own.) Now that I've had some time to think about it, I'd also add that "back-ups" are good for dancers to do while warming-up. They're like sit-ups, but, you're on your stomach instead of your back. You can also pick up some Pilates matwork DVDs for more cross-training for core conditioning. Or, better yet, take CCDC's Pilates class on Saturday morning. (More students and parents should be taking advantage of that class. Lotta valuable core conditioning explained and performed Saturday mornings. Alissa's really giving some good information.) Also, some Yoga DVD's would be good for stretching and strengthening. I really like Rodney Yee's Yoga Conditioning for Athletes. It's over an hour, so, you might want to start with some of his beginning classes. And, finally, you can also do the foot strengthening exercises taught in all CCDC pointe and pre-pointe classes. (If you missed them, they'll be reviewed soon.)

09.16.2008: RenGen ReVisited!

Attended a local presentation on the arts recently. It was part of a national series. I didn't stay for all of it, but, I did hear the full presentation by the keynote speaker. Patricia Martin is the author of RenGen: Renaissance Generation --- The Rise of the Cultural Consumer and What It Means to Your Business. Basically, she claims the active arts supporter isn't just the classic 1-percent of the population anymore, but, a much larger percentage and growing. (When I was in the local company, one dancer explained it to me by saying if there's a hundred people in your town, you should be able to sell one ticket. If there's a hundred-thousand, you should realistically be able to sell a thousand tickets.) But, she says in order to tap into that growing segment of the arts-hungry population, businesses need to be more creative and offer unique value. So, a dance company, for example, can't just survive on its traditional audience and support groups. (That may have been what happened in the Capital City when the local ballet company's audience base was raided by touring national productions and the opening of the local racino.) One example she gave was from Seattle and the Pacific NorthWest Ballet. (And, if you check out that website, be sure to check out PNB Unleashed.) She says, under Peter Boal's Artistic Directorship, they've been able to attract a younger and more affluent demographic. One way was by offering a $5-ticket to working rehearsals. She claims it's the "hottest ticket in town" now. Normally, dance companies try to keep the audience on one side of the proscenium during the rehearsal and performance process. But, Martin claims the "younger, hipper" arts consumer loves to take a peek "behind the scenes" at the raw, unfinished process. So, now, if we accept Martin's premise, the question for corporations and businesses---and dancers and dance companies!---is how to produce that value in attracting new demographics in non-traditional ways? She makes it clear that "thinking outside the (pointe shoe) box" will be the only way that ballet will be able to flourish in the future. Any ideas?

09.15.2008: 2xP Found!

Okay! TG4Google! Found the audio from that The Artists Table conversation here. It's long! Over an hour, but, well worth the listen. If you have the time, listen for more than the talk about the food or music-making. (Make sure you eat before listening!o) Listen for the universal artistic concepts that these masters of different arts share so generously. And, then, aim to become a performing artist and not just a proficient technician!

09.15.2008: More Media Mentions

...and, just to prove I don't spend all my spare time zoning out watching MTV and Reality TV Dance Competitions, I caught a portion of an intriguing program on PBS this weekend. It was a conversation between two artists about a wide-ranging series of topics called The Artists Table between violinist Itzhak Perlman and chef Jacques Perin (Not to be confused with the actor, Jacques Perrin). The statement that leapt out at me was a comment on technique. Perin says an artist must practice technique over and over until it becomes second nature...and, then, forget about it. And, Perlman agreed. He said technique is the means to an end. The goal of the cook or the musician was to "share the soul" of the music or the food. Perin, in fact, said to write down a recipe for one of his dishes, is to "kill it". He says, with experience and technique, you can eventually "master the moment". He says a bad chef can waste excellent ingredients...and a good one can use experience and technique to make mediocre ingredients approach the sublime. So, how does this apply to dance? Beyond the fact the Balanchine also used to refer to his choreography as similar to cooking ("a pinch of this", "a touch of that" all to "please the customer"), as dancers we must hone our technique to the sharpness of chef's blade...and, then, forget about it...or, really, transcend technique. It's the choices we make with the "ingredients" of music, space, phrasing, steps and audience that enable an artist to "share their soul" with "the customers". Not "just" technique, but, what we do with that technique to touch an audience. You can't spell "heart" without the "art"! That's what I'm keeping in mind as I approach my next choreographic assignment this weekend. That's what I'm hoping the dancers are doing as they prepare for first rehearsal. (I couldn't find the transcript of Perlman and Perin on-line yet, even though it was promised at the end of the show. But, I did run across some Great Performances webvideo that looked interesting.)

09.12.2008: Bad Boy Productions!

So, I was watching MTV's Making The Band IV series the other night (TG4DVRs!o). These are the episodes where Day 26, Donnie and Danity Kane are rehearsing for their big concert tour. Wow! what a big difference between the brand new group and the seasoned veterans! Day 26 and Donnie are struggling, while the girls of DK are like a well-oiled machine. But, I recognized a frequent downward spiral that's common in many rehearsals and I thought that might be a good point to make as we head into the Nutty+Crackly rehearsal season: Don't do a Brian! Brian's the D26 singer/dancer who takes the longest to learn choreography and doesn't like to be reminded of that fact. Lotta testosterone in the room whenever the boyz rehearse! (Even in professional ballet companies! Trust me, I've been there. I'm guilty, I know!o) So, the choreographer, Laurie Ann Gibson, focuses more and more on B. And, the more she critiques him, the more flustered and unfocused he gets. It's a vicious cycle that eventually ends in a big blow-up and LAG storming out of the studio. So, here's the lesson, boys and girls: If you can't be the best in a rehearsal, at least don't be the worst! If you sense that scenario might be happening, nip it in the bud! Do whatever it takes to keep the choreographer/teacher/ballet mistress/master off your back! Work on your own. Ask for help. Put in some overtime. It's not fun being the worst in the room when everyone and the rehearsal director knows it! I've been the best and the worst in a rehearsal...and, believe me, one's a lot more preferable than the other! So, get ready for your rehearsals now! Take your classes! Work on your technique until it becomes second-nature. You can't work on placement and technique while you're trying to learn choreography, staging and who your character is...that's what class is for! When you start rehearsal, it'll help to get a copy of the music (way before is way better!) and listen until you're sick of it. Then, listen some more. You should know that music forward and backwards. So, that even if it starts in the middle you know exactly what step and where on the stage you should be. Do your homework! Write down your steps and corrections after rehearsal. If you can't remember them, call someone! Go over all the steps just before your next rehearsal. And, don't just forget about your part between rehearsals. When I was made a principal dancer in my first (very small) company, I was rehearsing three or four or five different pieces all day long. The only way I could remember was to actually write it all down later and review all the steps. I couldn't just trust myself to remember like I did when I was a student or part-time dancer. And, if you can't "mark your steps" on your own time, make sure to visualize, visualize, visualize! I find a good time to mentally rehearse is just before you go to sleep. Remember, don't be the worst in the room! Be the best! Don't be a Brian! Merde for rehearsal!o)

09.08.2008: She Lives!o)

Update from unnamed Capital City Dance Center alum:
"...I just finished my second week of classes. Last week I was so sore I could barely move, and I feel that way tonight too! Luckily I had last weekend off to recover. I am dancing a lot more than I have in a long time, probably since my senior year. So I know my body can do it, I just need to get used to it again! I auditioned for Dance Gala on the first day of school. I had not (much) luck there. The audition was three hours with around eighty people there. It was VERY hot, cramped, and you could barely see what was going on. I was very glad to be out of there. Tomorrow there is one more audition for the Gala. A guest artist is coming in to set a Balanchine piece for Gala. I figured I would give it a shot! After all, it is a pointe piece and not very many dancers in the department are on pointe. So that right there limits the competition..."
We interrupt this e-mail to make a point (en pointe): This is why the Ballet VI students are being introduced to hard-core Balanchine and Vaganova technique to supplement their general classical training. The more familiar you are with diverse ballet styles and techniques, the more versatile you are as a choreographers' instrument. Hopefully, this'll give our unnamed CCDC alum un jambe up on the competition!o) Now, back to the e-mail...
"...I had an audition last night for a choreography class, and one again Sunday night for the Collaborative Performance. So we will see! I will let you know on the outcomes.

I am taking ballet and modern every day, and pointe twice a week. I might drop into some other pointe classes if I have time. I am also taking Improv, which is not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. Dance Production is interesting, but very easy. I am kind of bummed though because my teacher said normally we get to do a lot of hands on things. We can't do the normal things this semester because Hancher and the theatre building both got flooded.

Here's a tidbit you will find interesting! George de la Pena (who is normally one of my ballet teachers) is working in New York this semester for the Joffrey School (where Katerina would have gone). Anyway, the department brought in guest teachers to fill in for him. They are the couple that danced the principal roles in Nutcracker my freshman year! I don't know if you remember them...I think the husband's name is...Don't quote me on that. I recognized them immediately! I can't wait to take class from them.

...I can't believe there were 33 dancers in one class! The studio must have been packed. Thanks for filling me in on your latest combos and corrections! I love reading that stuff. It helps to jog my memory when I can't be in your class everyday. Trust me, I am struggling to remind myself everyday to LIFT and turn out, etc. even though I am not getting constantly reminded. But I am trying to self motivate myself to work just as hard as I would back at home, without someone pushing me.

Of course I remember the "every assemble' possible" combination! I'm not going to lie, there were times I despised it, but it is a great combination. So far this year I have not been given anything even close to as challenging as that in ballet..."

..."despise" is such a strong word!o(sniff!) I'm only trying to challenge you and push you out of your comfort zone! Did I succeed too well? Should I back off and make it easier and let you walk into that and every other audition unprepared? I think you know the answer, my petite li'l unnamed CCDC alum!o)

09.08.2008: Hot Ticket

Fresh off her successful marathon presentation at ArtStop this weekend, this e-note from Capital City Dance Center Guest Limon Instructor Kathleen Hurley of Hurley and Dancers:
"Greetings! I want to encourage everyone to make a point to see the production of All My Sons presented by Repertory Theatre/Drama Workshop -- members of our VPArts group. I saw the opening night production and was simply blown away. Excellent script -- very INTENSE, top quality acting, high quality production value on the lighting, and brilliant acting. Well worth your time to attend.

More info here..."

09.05.2008: How 2 B Better Late Than Ever!

eXcerpt from eMail explaining finer points of ballet classroom etiquette (and you can carry them over into your other dance classes as well):
"...Normal ballet protocol is if you’re not in class by at least the rond de jambe exercise, it’s too late to ask to enter. But, as usual, it’s up to the discretion of the teacher.

Proper ballet classroom etiquette is for the late dancer to discretely enter the studio, stand by the door and wait for the teacher’s attention. A little curtsy or bow is an unspoken request for permission to enter class. If the teacher nods or waves them in, the student then quietly enters and finds unused space at the barre. The late-arriving dancer should start at the beginning with plie’s, tendus, degage’s and catch up to the rest of the class. You should never just start doing the on-going exercise without first going through the proper sequence of the barre. The dancer should then apologize formally to the teacher after barre or after class and briefly explain if given the chance.

If you ever have to leave early from a ballet class, it’s polite to let the instructor know before that class begins. And, when you do exit, do it quietly. Gather up your things and stand by the door. When the teacher acknowledges your presence, a quick curtsy or bow and you can leave. If, after waiting a reasonable time and the teacher doesn’t notice you, it’s considered acceptable to bow or curtsy in their direction and quietly exit. If you ever just pick up and leave class early without getting permission or acknowledging the instructor, don't ever expect to be allowed to take that class or from that teacher again.

These traditions spring from the royal origins of ballet and have been observed since the 16th century..."

09.05.2008: Young+Boy+Ballet=Fame!

We need more success stories like this:
"...Alex smiles. He's used to being the youngest - and lone boy - in dance classes. And as of this semester, he became the youngest student allowed to take classes in the UI dance department..."
Read this from The Daily Iowan and, then, round-up more boys for CCDC!

09.04.2008: Update4Alumz

Pertinent eXcerpts from recent eMail to recent Capital City Dance Center alum:
"...The first week back went well. I think enrollment has increased quite a bit...I actually did floor barre for the first Level 6 I teach on Wednesday night. Just to give the dancers who were taking double classes a little rest while still working placement. I told 2K2M not to worry, we're going to be pushing her quite a bit this year! (BTW 2kudos to 2K! She started with us as a 3-4, went to full 4 the next year, was promoted to 4-5, then, jumped to full 5 last year. This year she's been promoted to 5-6! That's as little time as possible in each level. Normally we expect dancers to spend two or three years in a level!...KK's on the accelerated plan apparently!

Last night, taught the new fives flic-flac and brise's, did the "every assemble' known to man" combination. Do you remember that one? Assemble' croise devant, derriere, ecarte and croise' devant? Reverse followed by two assemble' double over and tombe' pas de bourree' chasse' to Vaganova assemble'. Repeat second side. We'll reverse everything when I get them again on Thursday. And, I'm thinking of stepping that up to brise's and assemble' battus for the six class tomorrow night: brise' devant, brise' derriere, assemble' battu ecarte' to brise devant. Reverse. Add on two assemble' double BATTUs, tombe' pas de bourre' to a modified chasse' assemble with BATTU. Repeat second side and reverse. I DARE you to try that in your classes! Let me know how it goes.

Otherwise, always working to reinforce proper pelvic placement and ballet breathing. Always a struggle getting dancers to get taller and consistently turn-out to return from tendu, glisse' or degage'. (Toes beat the heel back from front, reverse from the back) Or replace and lift from derriere. Still want dancers to work harder on stretching and building the strength to use higher extensions without straining. (Except for Sleeping Beauty II, of course!o)

Just read an article about not over-thinking as a key ingredient for success in sports. So, I think I'll try experimenting with that by giving pirouettes with very little or no time for preparations. Sometimes we focus so much on careful placement and technique...that the dancing gets lost. Does that make sense? Or am I over-thinking this?..."

09.03.2008: Excellence Of Exercise!

Big kudos to 2K2M's maternal unit! Surviving and thriving in the Saturday morning Pilates class! 2K says her mom was feeling it the next day, but, is still committed to increasing her core conditioning every week! Now, what about the rest of you parents??? Dancers, how about using Bring a Friend2Dance Month to introduce you and your mom, dad, brother, sister, neighbor to that Pilates class? Here's some info to help win your argument:
(Courtesy Newswise) — Finding excuses not to exercise is easy. The Mayo Clinic Women’s HealthSource offers ways to overcome common barriers with some creativity, flexibility and a different mindset. Here’s a sample:

Excuse: I don’t have time to exercise.

  • Schedule exercise in your day as you would an appointment. If you wait to find time, it probably won’t happen. (Or sign up for that dance/Pilates class!o)
  • Turn off the TV. Free up time by watching one less program.
  • Think activity rather than exercise. Mow the lawn; climb the stairs; park farther from your destination.

Excuse: I’m too old.

  • It’s never too late to start. Even moderate physical activity, such as walking or raking leaves, can help prevent or delay age-associated conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.

Excuse: I’m too tired to exercise.

  • Realize that exercising increases energy. You may be tired because you’re not exercising, or not getting enough sleep. Go to bed earlier.
  • Be prepared. Have workout clothes ready on top of the dresser. Keep a bottle of water in the refrigerator. Simple shortcuts may make it easier to see plans through.
  • Make lunchtime count. Keep a pair of walking shoes at your desk and take a brisk walk during your lunch break.

Excuse: I’m self-conscious about how I look when I exercise.

  • Others probably feel the same way. Remind yourself what a great favor you are doing for your health.
  • Go solo at first. As you become healthier and more at ease, you may feel confident enough to exercise with others.

Excuse: I’m not overweight, so I don’t need to exercise.

  • Being thin doesn’t necessarily mean you’re fit. Although a healthy weight is important, it’s also important to get regular exercise.

Excuse: I can’t exercise because I have a chronic health condition

  • This is valid only if your doctor has told you not to exercise. Physical exercise can help manage symptoms of many chronic conditions.

09.02.2008: Bienvenido! Todos Mis Amigos! Irrashaimase! Tomodachi!

September is Bring a Friend2Dance Month here at Capital City Dance Center! Don't you know someone who should be dancing? Everyone is a dancer! (The main difference is the quality of training!o) Invite them to take an age-or-skill appropriate dance class or two for free! We like to schedule this opportunity early in the school year, so dancers can introduce their friends or neighbors to the performing arts. And, sometimes that invitation can be that little nudge that some shy kids need to sign-up for ballet, jazz, hip-hop, creative movement, lyrical, highland, modern or Pilates. And, this early in the school year is a good-time for kids to start classes without skipping a beat, to "hit the ground dancing", so to speak. Not a lot of material has been covered, dancers and teachers are still getting to know each other, it's an excellent opportunity to start training your "inner dancer". And, don't feel left out if you're reading this and your kids don't actually have an invitation from a CCDC student to try out a class or two. Just head to the contact page, leave us a note and your kids can observe or participate in the classes of their choice as a BFF of CCDC!o) Bring a Friend2Dance all month long here at Capital City Dance Center!

09.02.2008: Soles of the Dance?

Can't get enough of Hermione Granger? Bummed because the new Harry Potter film has been delayed until next year? Well, there's still hope, you Muggle! Click for a preview of the new movie version of the classic Ballet Shoes. Co-starring Emma Watson of Potter fame. Possibly bourre'-ing soon to a theater or DVD player near you? Here's a quick review.

08.29.2008: Welcome Home!

Capital City Dance Center is proud to announce the addition of Karina Sturdevant to the CCDC permanent faculty. Karina was born and raised in the metro and graduated from Dowling High School. She trained alongside CCDC Artistic Director Melissa U in the PreProfessional Division of the Des Moines Ballet School. Karina also apprenticed with Ballet Iowa when Emery U danced in the company. Her full bio is on the Faculty page. She'll be teaching Ballet III-VI classes on a regular basis and modern, jazz and other classes as needed. Please join us in welcoming Karina Sturdevant and daughter, Aniko, to the Capital City Dance Center family!

08.28.2008: Words 2 the Wise!

Here's some advice the teachers have been giving to CCDC students stepping up to a new level as the fall semester gets underway this week: Don't forget what you already know when you try to learn something new. Sometimes dancers (people!) suffer from that "the latest is the greatest" error. We concentrate so much on that new step or combination, we sacrifice the old steps and fundamental technique.

So, whether you're learning flic-flac turns, grand renverse, advanced Balanchine or Vaganova technique or that difference between ballone's and ballotte's and en face and efface' seems elusive...don't forget the fundamentals that led to your promotion! Placement, turn-out and stretch should always be the basics your more advanced steps are built upon. Learn the new steps...and, then, go back and make sure you're still placed and replacing placement, turn-out and stretch.

The process of learning any new skill is usually: learning the basics and the vocabulary, then, putting those together to make intermediate steps. Then, GOING BACK and strengthening the basics. Then, putting together intermediate steps to make advanced steps. AND, THEN, GOING BACK TO THE BASICS TO RESTORE WHAT FELL APART! Never feel like you're too good to take a more fundamental or basic class. (And, kudos to the many upper-division students who are working in extra classes in lower levels!o) If you stick with dancing long enough, you'll find most professional "company classes" are very basic for exactly that reason.

And, don't worry if it seems you're out of your league at first in your new level. Work hard, take all your classes, make-up what you missed and listen to your teachers. Practice makes perfect. Remember, "the first time is the worst time". Soon those new and strange steps and combinations will seem easier and more familiar. The whole idea of being promoted is to challenge you to step it up! If we didn't think you have what it takes, you probably wouldn't be there! (And, you new Ballet IV's: Don't be a GOOBER!o)

08.27.2008: The Reviews R In!

eXcerpts from eMailz:
"...had a chance to...observe the Nutcracker auditions this weekend. I want to compliment you on how beautifully trained and expressive all your dancers were, from the youngest to the most advanced...ALL yours looked great!...I look forward to seeing many of your dancers cast in showcase roles in the production this winter..."

08.26.2008: Dimessage From Dimitry

Just got this from Prince FlorimunDima:
"...I received this email from my friend with this video attached. I don't know if you've seen it before, a truly stunning performance. Hand In Hand Choreographed by Zhao Limin. Performed by Ma Li and Zhai Xiaowei.

Here is the You Tube version..."

...This was so moving! It literally brought tears to my eyes!

08.25.2008: DWTS Latest Line-up Announced!

Here's the just-announced list of the new Dancing With The Stars courtesy of bogger Tonya Planck:
  1. Grammy winner Lance Bass
  2. Chef Rocco DiSpirito
  3. Beach Volleyball Gold Medalist Misty May Treanor
  4. Gold medalist sprinter Maurice Green
  5. Singer Toni Braxton
  6. Reality TV star Kim Kardashian
  7. Disney star Cody Linley
  8. Actress Cloris Leachman
  9. Actor Ted McGinley
  10. Actress Brooke Burke
  11. Comedian Jeffrey Ross
  12. Footballer Warren Sapp
  13. Actress Susan Lucci
...Just eye-balling by the brief descriptions, I think Lance and Cody have a leg up on the competition. Also, hats off to the winners of ABDC! I was pulling for Super Cr3w for awhile. The voting public finally gets one right! Now...on to the November elections!o)

08.25.2008: Redemption! And A Dig4more!

Finally! All my hinting and not-so-subtle innuendo has wheedled an e-mail response!o) Now this is the way to start a Monday and a new semester!o):
"...You must know that we all love you! Come on, you don't need any e-mails to know that! :) Haha..."
...Thank you, whoever you are! ...(sigh!) But, now, that I know at least one of you doesn't "hate me"...I'm left to ponder and wonder if I'm a good teacher at all...(sob!) (...hehe!o)

08.22.2008: Digging4Compliments?

An e-mail exchange between two unnamed members of the CCDC faculty as they prepare for the Fall Semester to begin on Monday:
"...Just reading the website and updated myself on all the latest news at CCDC. I feel so disconnected! Don't worry E, there is nothing in the unsolicited email bag about me either! ;)..."

"…if I write something about your '…spectacular, jaw-dropping choreography and cutting-edge instruction…' will you submit something about my 'mediocre, luke-warm classes and groan-inducing sense of humor'?"

"More than mediocre! Mediocre instruction is how I would describe (insert name of other inferior local dance studios here... which is all of them :). I missed taking your classes last year. I love your 'groan-inducing sense of humor', but more so I enjoy your emphasis on proper placement and great love of ballet evident in your classes..."

08.22.2008: Warning: Band May Be Hazardous To Your Health

Hey, all you band-geeks and band-chics! Read 'em and weep!o):
(Courtesy Newswise) — As another school year begins, music students should remember that injuries aren't just for athletes. Because of the intense rehearsal and repetitive motion required, 89 percent of musicians suffer pain and injury, most commonly involving the hand, elbow and shoulder. Young students are especially at risk.

Here are five tips to help music students avoid injury and enjoy a lifetime of melody:

  1. Lack of physical conditioning is the key factor behind injury in musicians, so take time to exercise and engage in non-musical activities to maximize physical fitness.
  2. Monitor your posture while playing and during other activities, such as computer use and gaming. Avoid awkward, static postures that can contribute to pain, stiffness and other symptoms.
  3. Use stretching exercises before performing and periodically while practicing. For every hour of playing, take a 5- to 10-minute break – away from the instrument – to stretch and rest the body.
  4. Keep your schedule organized at school and at home. Establish a consistent, balanced routine for music practice and other activities, allowing time for relaxation and rest.
  5. To maintain the mental and physical fitness needed for good musical performance, eat healthy food and get adequate sleep.
...And, here's Number 6! Less band! Much more DANCE!

08.21.2008: FAQ

These are some of the questions we've been getting at Capital City Dance Center. Do you have an inquiry that you think other parents or dancers might have about CCDC? Submit them here. Then, check back as we start hyper-linking and answering them:
Where is your class schedule?:
Click one of these links: Pre-Professional/Post-Secondary Program, Young Children Division, Open Division

Where is your dress code?:
Click here and click on "What To Wear".

What brand of tights, shoes, leotard do you require or recommend?:
No specific brand requirements. Jazz and tap shoes should be black or black patent. Hip-hop dancers can wear clean, indoor-only sneakers at discretion of instructor.

When do you start classes?:
This week! Click for important dates.

How much do classes cost?:
Check the Tuition Table. Don't forget the annual $20.00 registration fee. And, if you decide to take part in the Spring Showcase, there are recital and costume fees.

Can I bring my dancer to another day or time to make it up?:
You can always bring your child to the same level or lower at another day or time. Please use the contact page to inform the office so the teacher will know ahead of time.

Where are you located?:
Click on the map button.

How can I get a brochure mailed to me?:
Enter your physical mailing address here.

Can I go to another studio and take classes at CCDC to supplement my training?:
Anyone can take Open Division classes. Some commitment and demonstrated ability is required for PreProfessional Division participation. These decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. Check with the office.

What's this about scholarships for guys?:
In order to address the gender inequity in the performing arts, CCDC is committed to working with families or individuals to offer tuition waivers, scholarships or work-scholarships to encourage more boys or men to train in dance.

When do you have partnering or pas de deux classes? Who's eligible to take those classes?:
We always encourage males interested in learning partnering skills to contact CCDC for more information. We schedule Pas De Deux classes whenever the ratio of available men to advanced CCDC PreProfessional Program Students is sufficient.

What about private lessons or private coaching?:
Those are available. We schedule private lessons around regular classes. Availability varies at the discretion of faculty and CCDC. Contact the desired instructor or the CCDC office.

My child has taken at another studio for a number of years, how do I know what classes to sign up for at CCDC?:
We usually suggest taking a class for level placement. Just so you know, most students from other studios need to take remedial fundamentals and terminology to catch up to their CCDC age group. Advanced class placement depends on ability not age.

Submit your question here.

08.21.2008: Collage of No Ledge

(Courtesy Newswise) — It's that time again as thousands of college freshmen are heading to campus and moving into their dorms. Most colleges and universities provide a list of suggested items needed for dorm rooms. However, a director of residential communities and his staff have come up with the top ten things freshmen often forget to bring to college. They are:
  • 10. Extension cords – “The outlets in their room will always be on the side opposite where they want to put their television.”
  • 9. Masking tape – “For attaching extension cords to the floor so they don’t trip on them in the middle of the night.”
  • 8. Social Security card and other documents – “Students need them if they want to get a job somewhere.”
  • 7. Extra underwear – “No one does laundry as often as they think they will, and you just can’t run out of the essentials.”
  • 6. A “renter’s” insurance policy – “A college or university only insures the building, not a student’s personal belongings such as clothes, books and electronics. So, they should be sure they have insurance to cover such things.”
  • 5. One half of the things already packed – “Students usually bring everything they own and find that once they get here that they do not have enough space for it all.”
  • 4. Patience – “A student may know more than the average incoming student about the campus, but they still won’t know it all, as policies, activities and living arrangements change yearly. So, be patient, ask questions and listen.”
  • 3. Communication Skills – “Freshmen need to understand that the collegiate experience is a wonderful time to meet and interact with people who are different than they are. It may be the first time they are asked to communicate their opinion, wants and needs to someone else in a constructive way.”
  • 2. An open mind – “Being open to new and different ideas can be a little scary at first, but the benefit of listening to another perspective will be invaluable in a student’s development.”
  • 1. Positive energy – “The first month can be emotionally and physically draining. Having a positive attitude will get a student through the rough spots.”

(Courtesy Newswise) — New research challenges a growing trend toward holding kids out of kindergarten until they're older, arguing that academic advantages are short-lived and come at the expense of delaying entry into the workforce and other costs.

The findings show older kindergartners fare better academically largely because they learn more before starting school, not because age improves aptitude, said Professor Darren Lubotsky.

Older students post higher test scores than younger peers during the first few months of kindergarten, but their edge soon fades and nearly vanishes by eighth grade, according to the study.

"If it were true that older kids are able to learn at a faster rate, then the differences in test scores should get bigger as kids progress and the material gets more difficult. But we really see the opposite," Lubotsky said.

The findings counter decades of research linking age to academic achievement that has led states to push back kindergarten entrance age deadlines and convinced more parents to start children later than the once-traditional age of 5.

"Kids learn at lot before kindergarten, especially if they're in preschool. One way to think about it is that the oldest kid in kindergarten has about 20 percent more life experience," Lubotsky said. "But once they start, they basically learn at the same rate."

Based on the findings, Lubotsky says parents and lawmakers need to weigh costs and benefits as they consider when to start kids in kindergarten.

"Older kids may do better at first, but there's a tradeoff," he said. "They're also a year in school behind other kids their own age. At the end of the line, somehow that year will catch up to them. They start work a year later, and parents have an extra year of child-care costs if they delay entry. So it's not free."

Lubotsky says the study also found that wide age gaps caused by holding kids back from kindergarten have both positive and negative effects on younger students.

On one hand, younger students tend to score higher on tests when they have older classmates, who may help tutor their peers or simply set higher standards that others seek to achieve, Lubotsky said.

Lubotsky says parents still need to weigh children's needs and consider holding them back if they are immature, can't sit still in class or have other issues that could affect learning. But he says the study's bottom line is that kids are generally best served by starting school as early as possible.

"Kids get so much more out of just learning," he said. "Whether they go to school earlier or later, that's really not going to matter much at the end of the day."

08.20.2008: Star Crossed Lover

Here's an excerpt from a principal ballerina's (infrequent) blog:
"...I found that when I was getting a correction, I would try to apply it while listening, but this got in the way. It’s a common thing that dancers do. So, I found that if I really just stood and listened to what she was saying, I received more information and could digest it and apply it sooner. I think listening is a skill that everyone in the world can work on. The better you listen, the more knowledge you have. “Knowledge is Power”. So, I took listening to a new level for myself..."
It's not very current, but a lot of "fantastico" information from former PNB Principal Noelani Pantastico.

08.19.2008: Beijing Beauty

I know it may sound sacreligious here in the heartland, but, I think gymnast Nastia Liukin deserved to win the all-around gold medal and the gold medal for floor ex (that last one, she didn't btw. She bronzed it.---Also, now having watched The Nasty Girl on the uneven bars last night, I think she deserved a tie for silver on that one. I actually thought the Chinese should've switched places. I thought the bronze medalist was under-scored...and the gold medalist was over-scored. ...just sayin!o). I know Shawn Johnson tumbles and twists harder and jumps higher than most everyone in the world. But, I think Liukin is more artistic, fluid and flowing. I think the international judges should send a message that values artistry over sheer power. Otherwise, the girls will just keep trying to be like the boys in floor ex. But, they're different. (Viva la diference!) Why do they play music during the girls' floor ex and not the boys? Precisely, because it's supposed to be more "dance-y"! And, I think Shawn, Nastia and the rest of the US Women really won the gold in the team competition. Some of those Chinese gymnasts look like they're 12! Local Chinese tell me privately they don't think those girls are old enough to be 16 in this Olympic year. And, they say the communist government will do "whatever it takes" to win as many medals as possible. So, Shawn got cheated out of her first gold. If they're not 16, someone's cheatin'. And, if them's the rules, them's the rules. Here's hoping Iowa's "Golden Girl" gets to stand at the top of the podium in her final Olympic competition tonight. Because, despite her hints, I don't think she'll still be competing in London four years from now. Gymnastics at an International Elite level is punishing on the body. Life will have a tendency to get in the way if SJ doesn't get her gold this week. (BTW...might as well extend that standing offer for Liukin and Johnson to get some expert dance coaching for their floor ex! Reasonable rates! I've got some experience choreographing and coaching a national silver medal-winning acro-gymnastic routine already! So, have your people call ours!o)

08.19.2008: ICYMI!o)

In case you missed it: Recent Photo Gallery of Capital City Dance Center students from La Bayadere in the local rag. (And, btw Register? "Ballet" is spelled with two hockey sticks!o)

08.18.2008: Glass Ceiling?

Some analysis since Josh was named "America's Favorite Dancer" at the end of SYTYCD IV. First, kudos to my choice from the final four, Katee, for being the last distaff dancer standing and to Courtney for outlasting predictions. I'm surprised Twitch didn't have enough fan support to put him over the top. But, Josh consistently stepped up his game, so, hats off to him. And, looking back over the results of the first four seasons, it seems that classical training and technique might get you to the show, but, it's not going to put you over the top. It might even be a handicap. Danny was awesome technically, but, lost to Sabra. Benji was charismatic and strong choreographically for a ballroom dancer, but, was technically-challenged. And, Nick Lazarini had training and technique coming out the wazoo. Blake might've had an edge there, but, his blatant arrogance probably cost him with the voting public. Now, I'm wondering just how much gender prejudice affects the outcome. I think Sabra won because of blatant lobbying by Nygel. Remember when he said, "I think it's time for America to vote for a woman as their favorite dancer"? A male dancer can be much more spectacular than the strongest females. It's a matter of strength. (Conversely, females should be able to show better line and flexibility than almost all men. But, that doesn't seem to carry as much weight when it comes to swaying the public vote.) Is there a gender bias when it comes to SYTYCD voting? I think there is and I think it'll influence the outcome of another televised dance competion, ABDC. That's why I think Super Cr3w will beat So Real Cru on America's Best Dance Crew. I think the two Filipina girls on So Real dance hard and have compelling back stories. But, they still lack the strength it takes to do the athletic and quasi-gymnastic b-boy moves. Therefore, bet the farm on "Ess to 'da ches'"!...And, the line-up for the next DWTS will be announced next week! Don't look for Warren Sapp to dance up to the standards of Emmitt Smith or Jerry Rice.

08.15.2008: Unsolicited Testimonials Poor In!

More kind words for Capital City Dance Center and Artistic Director/Instructor Melissa Uyehara:
"...Thanks for ALL you do for her and all of the CCDC dancers--I cannot say enough about the experience she has had and continues to have with you (she has tried other places, and doesn't want to go anywhere but CCDC--I'm with her!!)..."
...And, (sniff...) STILL nothing in the old emailbox about...MOI!o(Oh, the ignominy!o)

08.14.2008: Your Research Dollars@Work!

(Courtesy Newswise) — Researchers have found early scientific evidence of the healing effects of massage.

The scientists have determined that immediate cyclic compression of muscles after intense exercise reduced swelling and muscle damage in a study using animals.

The researchers consider the findings a strong start toward scientific confirmation of massage’s benefits to athletes after intense eccentric exercise, when muscles contract and lengthen at the same time.

(Courtesy Newswise) — Working up a sweat could be the most important lifestyle change people with high blood pressure — or hypertension — can make in their daily lives. Yet, although patients who receive exercise counseling seem to listen, few physicians actually take the time to talk about physical activity with their patients, a large nationwide study finds.

Just over one-third of people with a hypertension diagnosis said a clinician told them to increase their physical activity to help lower their blood pressure.

Seventy-one percent of the patients with high blood pressure increased physical activity and saw a drop in blood pressure as a result.

08.06.2008: Mo Dance! Turns 4eva!

Here's interesting webvid I found courtesy of The Winger Website, one of my favorite bookmarks.

08.06.2008: Let The Debate Resume!

The email discussion of SYTYCD IV rages on:
"...I was very sad to lose Will as well. And for some reason this season I'm very aware of how little time they are given to dance their solos. For some dancers like poor Chelsie it's plenty of time -because as you said a ballroom dancer doing a solo is just kind of sad (although Benji was the exception - he could choroegraph!). But when Will busted out James Brown - I was so mad when the time ran out. I was craving more!!

I loved Mark too and actually think he's kind of handsome when he isn't doing something completely wacky with is hair -but it was probably time for him to go. Twitch is just such a character - I like him more than I actually like his dancing. Although I do think he's a good dancer too.

I agree Courtney will be the first to go -although I love her. Then I think it'll come down to Joshua and Katee. Neither one has ever been in the bottom two and I just think they both have such strong fan bases. I'd be hard pressed to pick between the two. I love them both. I'd probably give it to Joshua only because I think an untrained dancer has a harder time on the show -and to do what he's done is amazing..."

...So, I wrote this back:
"...That's the thing about Mark that I might've mentioned appeals to me in Katee's kase (And, probably, Chelsie's, too)...and that is, even though both are very good-looking, they're not very conscious of it, don't flaunt it, don't obsess about it. (Check it out, Jessica!o) They're just not worried about looking silly or dancing demented. The deceptively tall Mark, especially, seems to enjoy the quirky, the strange, the idiosyncratic characters he inhabits and inhales when he gets the chance. I thot his collaboration with the just as quirky, just as strange, just as idiosyncratic choreographer Sonia was a marriage made in heaven...or, more likely, elsewhere! (Sonia could be a stunning classic beauty, but, her Mohawk hair that's dyed and gone to haven challenges your preconceptions just as much as her dance-making does.) Since you've been to Hawai'i, you must know there are TONS of beautiful people there. Drop-dead gorgeous Eurasian-Polynesians, who'd stop traffic on the mainland, don't know they're exceptionally beautiful or good-looking, because so many are in the islands! (Present company excluded, of course!o)

The bad news is the darkness at the end of the tunnel that is the finale of SYTYCD IV looms. The good news is DWTS starts up again next month!o) Is Warren Sapp the early leader in the clubhouse?"

08.04.2008: Food4Thought

Courtesy Newswise — Roughly 86 percent of Americans age 18 and older may be overweight or obese by 2030 and related health care costs would double every decade and could reach $956.9 billion in 2030 – 1 of every 6 health care dollars spent -- according to a new study published online.

The study is conducted based on several large national survey data sets collected over the past three decades. Overweight is defined as having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 to 29.9.

Obesity and overweight are especially worrisome because of their impact on quality of life, premature death, and health care, as well as associated costs. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of many health problems including diabetes, stroke, heart disease, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, breast cancer and certain other types of cancer. If the rise in current rates of overweight and obesity continue, as most experts believe they will, future adults may have shorter life-spans than the current generation.

According to the researchers, half of U.S. adults, as a whole, will become obese, as will 97 percent of black women and 91 percent of Mexican-American men by 2030.

The authors also estimate that by 2022, about 80 percent of adults may be overweight or obese, and 100 percent could be by 2048. But the prevalence will reach 100 percent in black women by 2034.

Moreover, nearly one third of all U.S. children and adolescents could become obese (body mass index is greater than the 95th percentile) by 2034, and the prevalence could increase to half by 2070. Black girls and Mexican-American boys are especially vulnerable--four in 10 may become overweight or obese by 2030, and half by 2050.

Courtesy Newswise — Television commercials are a common method for advertising food products. According to researchers, these food advertisements have a powerful influence on its viewers, especially university students.

“The transition from adolescence to adulthood has been shown to be a time for taking on many negative health behaviors including increases in smoking and alcohol use and decreases in physical activity and fruit and vegetable consumption,” said Kim Raine, director of the University of Alberta’s Centre for Health Promotion Studies. “In this study, we were investigating whether TV viewership and recognition of snack advertisements were associated with snack food consumption and the odds of being overweight or obese.”

What the researchers found was quite alarming.

University students who reported medium or high television viewership snacked more frequently while watching TV and recognized more advertising than students who were considered low TV viewers.

Previous studies have examined food intake and caloric consumption in relation to TV viewing among adults, but few have considered the role of snacking in relation to TV viewing and body weight status among young adults.

University students who watched over four hours or more of TV per day snacked more frequently while watching TV, recognized more TV advertisements and consumed more energy-dense snacks than students who viewed less than one hour of TV per day. Specifically, male students and medium-to-high television viewers had higher odds of being overweight or obese.

“The link between how much a person snacks while watching TV was directly related to viewing food advertisements, specifically when choosing to eat an energy-dense snack,” said John Spence, co-author of the study. “The exposure to the advertising seems to stimulate a desire to eat that particular food product. Also, sitting watching TV provides a prime opportunity to snack.”

Courtesy Newswise — Food does more than satisfy hunger; it provides fuel for the body and mind, too. So as you make a list of school supplies to buy for the upcoming school year, don’t forget to consider the items at your local supermarket that can also help prepare your child for the classroom.

Dietitian Catherine Kraus says that a balanced, healthy diet enables chemical messengers in the brain — known as neurotransmitters — to function more efficiently. This produces better concentration and memory.

Parents can take several steps to create well-balanced meals and snacks that provide children the energy and nutrition they need to perform well at school, notes Kraus.<>

  • Breakfast Research has demonstrated that students who skip breakfast in the morning don’t perform as well as students who do eat breakfast. Kraus recommends serving a healthy breakfast that consists of a whole grain cereal, oatmeal or bread with a form of protein, such as peanut butter or a hard-boiled egg.

    Pairing the meal with whole fruit instead of a fruit juice offers a way to add more vitamins, minerals and fiber into a diet. Kraus adds that dairy products are an acceptable addition to your child’s breakfast, as long as they are in the form of fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt or cheese.

  • Lunch While many schools are making efforts to include healthier items on lunch menus, high-calorie items still exist — including pizza, nachos and sweetened drinks. If you are concerned about your child’s cafeteria choices, Kraus recommends packing a lunch.

    “When children consume a high-fat, high-sugar meal, their bodies will crash, and they will be come very tired and lethargic — which is not going to help them perform at their best level in school,” explains Kraus.

    When packing a lunch, variety is best; choose an assortment of fruits and vegetables in various colors and sizes. This ensures that kids receive a mix of vitamins and minerals, and it will prevent them from becoming bored with the same packed lunch routine every day. Kraus recommends including a type of whole grain product in the meal, such as tortillas or bread, with a lean protein, such as tuna, turkey or chicken.

    She also notes that sweetened beverages are full of empty calories and don’t provide any nutritional value. Opt for a beverage that does not contain added sugars — such as water, fat-free or low-fat milk, or 100 percent fruit juice.

  • Snacks. When it comes to snack foods, Kraus says that the proper adage to follow is, “Out of sight, out of mind.”

    “When you are grocery shopping, keep in mind that if a snack is in the home, your children will likely eat it. So keep healthy food in the house at all times to ensure that they will always have healthy snack options. If you keep candy bars and fruit in the home, most children would pick the candy bar. So just keep it out of the house,” she says.

    Focus on finding snack foods that will keep your kids satisfied until dinner and energized for homework and studying. For optimal energy and hunger satisfaction, Kraus recommends pairing protein with a high fiber carbohydrate; serve up string cheese or peanut butter with whole grain crackers or prepare a half-sandwich made with whole grain bread or pita. Another tasty treat option is creating a homemade smoothie by blending yogurt and fruit together.

    She also suggests that parents take time each day to wash and slice fresh fruits and vegetables. Remember to place the produce on the counter or at eye level in the refrigerator so it is more accessible to children.

  • Dinner “A smart dinner will help your child’s brain function. If they are satisfied after dinnertime then they will sleep through the night, and a child needs at least eight to nine hours of sleep a night in order to function while in school the next day,” explains Kraus.

    She says that half of a “smart” dinner plate should be made up of fruits and vegetables, and a quarter of the plate should consist of a lean protein. Fill the remaining quarter with whole grains, such as brown rice or whole wheat pasta.

Overall Kraus says that encouraging your children to eat smart during the school day can help them develop healthy habits for life.

“Childhood is a crucial time when bodies are growing and brains are developing,” she says. “It’s so important to fuel the body with good nutrition, and teaching children smart eating habits at a young age is a great idea. It starts with the parents serving as the role model.” For more information on healthy eating for kids, visit these Web sites:

08.04.2008: Can't Spell Media Without M-A-or-D!

Just got this in the e-mail:
"...I was very disappointed a few weeks back when my favorite guy Gev was voted off -however I did expect it. But his solos are amazing and he's just adorable. I was really shocked Kerrington was voted off - I thought she was a beautiful dancer...The next week voters lost their minds again getting rid of Will. Good lord he was soo good. But I think this weeks cuts make sense...I didn't record the results show but watched it live - only to regret that I wasn't recording. The guest dancer Little Demon was ridiculous. He's six and could easily beat out any of the beat boys on the show..."
...So, I wrote back:
"...I'm still shaking my head over the ouster of Will on SYTYCD IV. As you may know, he was my pick to win this year. (On a side note, I was just as aghast to see Supreme Soul on ABDC end up in the bottom two with Supah Cr3w the same week. I know you don't have cable, but, you might be able to YouTube or Hulu or head to MTV.Com to watch the replay, Rhianna!o) I like Mark as a fellow Hawai'i boy, but, his quirky style just doesn't make up for his lack of technical training. (As a bit of background, the same can be said for the fella who trained him that I danced with a long time ago in Third Wave Dance Theater! Sorry, Marcelo! I danced in a professional ballet company. You didn't!o) And, the same can also be said for Josh and Twitch. They're all very good at a particular genre and good at faking the rest. But, Will was very good at a lot of styles because of his strong technical training. He was also very charismatic and RIPPED! (Made me want to start working out more whenever he took his shirt off!o) I'd thot the final would be Will vs Twitch vs Chelsie vs Katee. (And, remember Twitch's over-reaction to being put in the bottom next to Will? He obviously thought, as did we all, that it was Sayonara to the Twitchster! How wrong were we all! It's like when that Cheetah Grrl was voted off DWTS!) Now, all bets are off because of the wild card that is the mostly non-dancing voting public. (Kudos btw to SYTYCD for their public service announcements for registering to vote. How ironic two Brits who can't vote in the US would be so active at urging Americans to exercise their civil rights!) I liked Chelsie a lot. She could move! She was exciting and electric. Her solos were her weakness as it almost always is with ballroom dancers. But, she more than made up for it because her partner work was so fantastic. She was also SO charismatic and her gams pneumatic! Hard to take your eyes off her whenever she was on stage! I think I've mentioned this before, but the solos aren't just a test of dancer skills, but, also choreographic skills. You might be a dynamite dancer, but, if you're deficient at choreographing your solo, you could pay the penalty at the polls. (That's what doomed Marquis early in the season) I think Katee's my sentimental favorite remaining dancer, but, her solos don't do her justice. I look for she and Twitch to battle it out for the title. My predix: Courtney, first to go. Josh, next. Twitch, last to go. Katee winner. Of course, the voting public will probably get this one wrong too!"

08.04.2008: Jawdropper!

Here's an etip from the Merry Lady de la Fair Lands (Watch out Shawn Johnson!o):
"...Also here's a link to a really amazing video, I don't know if you've seen it or not but you should take a look at it, make sure you watch the whole thing..."

08.01.2008: "Sunscreen Is Our Friend!"

This is for all the CCDC students showing up for class looking like they should be accessorized with a side of drawn butter, lobster bib and oyster crackers: (UNoWhoUR!o)
(Courtesy Newswise) — Melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, accounts for more than 75 percent of all skin cancer deaths. Despite repeated health warnings based on proven science that overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) light is the most preventable cause of all skin cancers, including melanoma, many Americans are not properly protecting themselves from this known carcinogen. Now, new understanding of the emerging field of genetic epidemiology of melanoma and the factors that influence teens’ use of indoor tanning could shed more light on ways to protect future generations from skin cancer.

Dermatologist Martin A. Weinstock led the presentation of key findings from research that could pave the way for future skin cancer prevention and treatment strategies.

“Everyone is born with genes that are inherited from their parents,” said Dr. Weinstock. “Sometimes the genes in certain skin cells become mutated, deleted or amplified over time due to UV radiation and other factors, and these genetic changes in skin cells that take place could result in melanoma.”

“The better we understand the different types of melanoma, the more we can direct our therapies and prevention efforts,” said Dr. Weinstock. “Since these new therapies won’t be available anytime soon, it’s still important for people to protect their skin from UV radiation from the sun and tanning beds.”

Despite its link to both melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma, indoor tanning is big business. In fact, published reports indicate that the indoor tanning industry has an estimated revenue of $5 billion, a fivefold increase from 1992. The prevalence of indoor tanning among older U.S. teen girls is as high as 40 percent.

“Access to indoor tanning was found to be a significant contributing factor in teens use of these facilities,” said Dr. Weinstock. “The study found that having a higher density of facilities in one’s city and having at least one facility within two miles of one’s home were each significantly related to indoor tanning. In fact, the lead investigator pointed out that the mean number of tanning facilities per city exceeded the number of Starbucks locations, and 89 percent of the teens in the sample lived within three miles of a tanning facility.”

Dr. Weinstock also noted that the individual influences that were significantly associated with a higher likelihood of tanning included being female, older, or non-Hispanic white; having parents or friends who tan indoors; believing that tans are attractive; being exposed to ads; and having higher household incomes or weekly allowances.

“Teens appear to be a primary target of the indoor tanning industry, which resembles the tobacco industry in distorting science with the likely result of confusing the public about the facts,” said Dr. Weinstock. “We hope these findings will demonstrate the need for tighter regulations and enforcement of this unhealthy practice.”

In the interest of protecting public health, the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA) opposes indoor tanning and supports a ban on the production and sale of indoor tanning equipment for non-medical purposes. In the meantime, the AADA advocates for youth access laws until the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) takes action.

07.31.2008: Video Viewpoints

Still no sign of the Capital City Dance Center 2008 Spring Showcase DVDs in mailboxes yet!o( But, look what's just surfaced! More bootleg video of rehearsal of CCDC's La Bayadere...And More!:

07.30.2008: Capital City Area Arts Happenings

Cinema Verite'
"We are very proud and very excited to bring you the charming romantic comedy Falling for Grace...And! to be bringing you its writer, director and star! Fay Ann Lee, the multi-talented woman behind the film will be making appearances on Friday and Saturday, at The Fleur Cinema. Lee will be speaking of her film, how it came to be and answering questions from you!

With a plot inspired by Lee's random encounters with John F. Kennedy, Jr. in the mid 1990's, Falling for Grace premiered at the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival, and was an immediate sold out hit. The word of mouth was so good that the festival added an extra screening. But an icy reality hit home when studios failed to pick it up. Hollywood distributors did not believe that mainstream American audiences were ready for a romantic comedy starring an Asian American protagonist.

Lee disagreed, and she took on a new role - as distributor. Instead of giving up hope, Lee embarked on an incredible, countrywide journey, opening Falling for Grace one city at a time, one theater at a time. She has toured the film in cities across America and abroad. Past releases have included: San Francisco, Sausalito, Grass Valley and Berkeley, CA; Vancouver, B.C.; Washington D.C.; Bryn Mawr, PA, Sedona and Lakeside, AZ; and Vienna, Austria. But no matter where it goes, the audience response has always been the same: overwhelmingly enthusiastic. Falling for Grace recently finished a highly successful seven week run in Phoenix, AZ.

In fact, it was after taking note of the remarkable Phoenix run that the Fleur Cinema requested the film for a commercial release in the Capital City. The Falling for Grace website now receives requests for the film from as far away as China, India, Japan, Hungary, Germany, Italy and even Dubai. Audiences all over the world are starting to get the buzz on this little film that truly could."

07.28.2008: Backstage Bootleg

As mentioned, the CCDC DVD expected to drop this week. And, to celebrate and to whet your appetite, here's something from backstage at the ballet. Bootleg video from the Capital City Dance Center 2008 Spring Showcase, La Bayadere...And More!:

07.28.2008: Another Jewel Shines Brightly!

Another unsolicited accolade for another Capital City Dance Center faculty member: Hanna Shiplett nee Cooper
"...I just registered my daughter...for this fall. She very much would like Hannah for her teacher because 'Hannah is the best teacher in the whole world'..."
...(sniff!) Nothing about ME in the unsolicited email-pile:o(...yet!o)

07.25.2008: Boy Howdy!

Urban Boys Dance Class
  • Ages 7 - 11 Begins the Monday after Labor Day at Capital City Dance Center, 2962 99th Street, Urbandale.
  • Class time: Monday's throughout the school year from 4:15 - 5:00
    Explore Hoofin'; Musical Theater Dance; Street Jazz (a fusion of Hip Hop & Jazz)
  • Cost: $50 for each 6-week session throughout the school year

Each class will begin with a short funky warm-up, followed by across the floor combinations, cool practice moves, jammin' groovin' variations, funky video combinations, and a free-style circle at the end of class. HIGH ENERGY!

  • Hoofin' will involve Broadway and contemporary tap, brushes, steps, ball change, toe taps, shuffles, sugars, heel drops, flaps, stamps/stomps, travelling steps, all put together to the lively Step In Time currently playing on Broadway and to be performed in Capital City Dance Center's end of the year performance.
  • Musical Theater Dance will involve dancing to High School Musical 3 songs, Camp Rock songs, Broadway songs and learning common show choir moves.
  • Street Jazz is a fusion of hip hop with JAZZ. This form of dance will build strength, flexibility and coordination and help improve balance and athletic stamina.

Instructor: Jill E. Andrews (Director of the Young Children's Division at Capital City Dance Center. E-mail questions to Jill Andrews.

07.25.2008: More Gnawing at the Ledge?

As if you needed more evidence:
(Courtesy Newswise) — Absence may make the heart grow fonder, but endurance exercise seems to make it younger. According to a new study, older people who did endurance exercise training for about a year ended up with metabolically much younger hearts. The researchers also showed that by one metabolic measure, women benefited more than men from the training.

"We know that the heart deteriorates as people get older, and that's largely because they don't stay as active as they used to," says Doctor Pablo F. Soto. "Past research has suggested that exercise can reverse some effects of aging, and we wanted to see what effect it would have specifically on the heart."

The researchers measured heart metabolism in sedentary older people both at rest and during administration of dobutamine, a drug that makes the heart race as if a person were exercising vigorously. At the start of the study, they found that in response to the increased energy demands produced by dobutamine, the hearts of the study subjects didn't increase their uptake of energy in the form of glucose (blood sugar).

But after endurance exercise training — which involved walking, running or cycling exercises three to five days a week for about an hour per session — the participants' hearts doubled their glucose uptake during high-energy demand, just as younger hearts do.

Food 4 thot?
(Courtesy Newswise) — One of the reasons people on low-carbohydrate diets may lose weight is that they reduce their intake of fructose, a type of sugar that can be made into body fat quickly, according to researchers.

Dr. Elizabeth Parks said her team’s findings suggest that the right type of carbohydrates a person eats may be just as important in weight control as the number of calories a person eats.

Current health guidelines suggest that limiting processed carbohydrates, many of which contain high-fructose corn syrup, may help prevent weight gain, and the new data on fructose clearly support this recommendation.

“Our study shows for the first time the surprising speed with which humans make body fat from fructose,” Dr. Parks said. Fructose, glucose and sucrose, which is a mixture of fructose and glucose, are all forms of sugar but are metabolized differently.

But, fructose, enters the metabolic pathway downstream, bypassing the traffic cop and flooding the metabolic pathway.

“It’s basically sneaking into the rock concert through the fence,” Dr. Parks said. “It’s a less-controlled movement of fructose through these pathways that causes it to contribute to greater triglyceride synthesis. The bottom line of this study is that fructose very quickly gets made into fat in the body.”

Though fructose is naturally found in high levels in fruit, it is also added to many processed foods. Fructose is perhaps best known for its presence in the sweetener called high-fructose corn syrup or HFCS, which is typically 55 percent fructose and 45 percent glucose, similar to the mix that can be found in fruits. It has become the preferred sweetener for many food manufacturers because it is generally cheaper, sweeter and easier to blend into beverages than table sugar.

Chicken? Or Egg?
(Courtesy Newswise — Over the last decade, energy drinks -- such as Red Bull, Monster and Rockstar -- have become nearly ubiquitous on campuses. The global market for these types of drinks currently exceeds $3 billion a year and new products are introduced annually.

Although few researchers have examined energy drink consumption, a researcher has been investigating links between energy drinks and public health concerns like substance abuse and risky behaviors.

Two new research reports by Kathleen E. Miller, Ph.D., examine the relationships between energy drink consumption and risk-taking.

Miller's research validates and expands upon existing concerns about energy drink consumption: "The principal target demographic for energy drinks is young adults ages 18-25, but they're nearly as common among younger teens," she explains. "This is a concern because energy drinks typically contain three times the caffeine of a soft drink, and in some cases, up to 10 times as much. They also include ingredients with potential interactions such as taurine and other amino acids, massive doses of vitamins, and plant and herbal extracts."

Grr-l POWr!
(Courtesy Newswise) — We've all heard it. Many of us in fact believe it. Girls just aren't as good at math as boys.

But is it true? After sifting through mountains of data - including SAT results and math scores from 7 million students who were tested in accordance with the No Child Left Behind Act - a team of scientists says the answer is no. Whether they looked at average performance, the scores of the most gifted children or students' ability to solve complex math problems, girls measured up to boys.

"There just aren't gender differences anymore in math performance," says University of Wisconsin-Madison psychology professor Janet Hyde. "So parents and teachers need to revise their thoughts about this. Stereotypes are very, very resistant to change, but as a scientist I have to challenge them with data." The UW-Madison and University of California, Berkeley, researchers report their findings in the July 25 issue of Science.

07.24.2008: From China, With Lao Tsu!

I often ask my students "What do you think your future competition is doing right now?" Well, if you're ever planning to compete at an international level of ballet, try this adagio en pointe from YouTube. How about this Grand Allegro? How 'bout these pirouettes? Those poor girls! If they only had some talent and potential!o) Just keep in mind, these are hand-picked students at a national school. Thousands audition each year, only a handful get in. They live, breathe and eat ballet every day. Still, it's a level you should always aspire to. And, you should work so hard your future competition will fear and respect you! Remember, ballet is "the endless pursuit of perfection"!o)

07.24.2008: Caw Ledge of Gnaw Ledge?

Why try to "bend it like Beckham" when you can "battu like Baryshnikov"?
(Courtesy Newswise) — Heading a ball appears to spectators as one of the most dangerous plays in soccer. However, only 6.6 percent of injuries are caused by this flashy move—and contact with the ball accounted for only 7 percent of concussions, while player-to-player contact resulted in more than 70 percent.

Overall, player-to-player contact is the leading cause of high school-related injury (over 40 percent), according to a recent study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine. Although overall injury rates for both genders were similar, injury diagnosis, body site, severity and mechanism differed between males and females and between practice and competition.

And, here's more fuel for the fire:
(Courtesy Newswise) — Sports-related concussions in young athletes frequently go unrecognized, and often do not receive proper respect for the potential seriousness that even a mild injury may have, says Doctor Mark Halstead. “There is a common misconception that an athlete only has a concussion if he or she loses consciousness. In fact, most athletes may only suffer from a mild headache or feeling confused or foggy. Concussions may even occur without impact, from the head being shaken.”

Got H2O?
(Courtesy Newswise) — Dehydration occurs when your body takes in less water than you are using. While playing sports, it is easy for a child to lose track of their fluid intake and become dehydrated. Without proper hydration, your child could suffer serious consequences. You can avoid dehydration by ensuring that you pay attention to your child’s fluid intake.

    Some causes of dehydration include:
  • Diarrhea

  • Vomiting

  • Excessive sweating

  • Inadequate intake of water
Some symptoms of dehydration include:
  • Weakness

  • Dizziness

  • Fatigue
Untreated dehydration can cause:
  • Kidney failure, which can eventually cause death because of the buildup of toxins, extra fluid and dangerous levels of minerals in your blood.

  • Kidney stones, which form when some substances become concentrated in the urine and form solid crystals. These crystals can lead to the development of stones when materials continue to build up around them. Being properly hydrated prevents the substances from concentrating to the point of forming crystals.

  • Seizures, which occur when normal electrical discharges in your brain malfunction, leading to involuntary muscle contractions

  • Hypovolemic shock, which occurs when low blood volume causes a drop in blood pressure. This causes a reduction in the amount of oxygen reaching your tissues, which can be fatal.

  • Cerebral edema (swelling of the brain), which occurs during rehydration when your cells may absorb too much water, which causes them to swell and rupture.

Proper hydration is essential not only to avoid the fatal effects of dehydration, but also to allow for proper genitourinary function. Proper hydration allows your body to eliminate toxins and may help prevent bladder, kidney and urinary tract infections (UTIs).

07.22.2008: Putting The "Me" Back In "Media"!

So, Kherington and Gev are hitting the bricks on SYTYCD. The only consolation from this latest elimination is they both have the top ten tour to look forward to. I, for one, will miss the charismatic couple. But, it just proves one or two mediocre performances can come back to bite the contestants as the competition to be named "America's Favorite Dancer" heats up. (And, Comfort can thank the luck of the draw for getting her strength, hip-hop, for her second performance number. She and Twitch "kilt it" last week. If she didn't have that piece, it would've been cold Comfort...again!) I think we forget sometimes that Kherington is so young because she's so good. Blogosphere reports she missed her Senior Prom because she was in this year's competition. Once she gets a little more experience, she'll be the complete package: personality, technique, looks and charm! And, Gev stepped up before he stepped out. His jive was outstanding for a b-boy street dancer! Reminded me of Season One's Ryan and the time he slicked back his hair to channel his inner ballroom dancer! My predix to be discarded this week: Comfort and, one of my favorites, Kailua's own Mark. His weaknesses were on parade and he won't be able to endure the onslaught of the remaining strong black trio of men. My pick is Will for the finals. And, I think Katee has what it takes to stand toe-2-toe with him. She's got the training, the looks and she dances hard! Her understated Eurasian beauty shines on its own when she lets her dancing speak for itself. Something that the injured Jessica needs to emulate more. (I know you're cute! Don't have to TRY 2 B KEWT!o) And, finally, they've released the tour schedule for the top ten from this year's SYTYCD. This is as close as they come to the Capital City:
  • 10/15/08 Wed Kansas City, MO Sprint Center

  • 10/17/08 Fri Chicago, IL United Center

  • 10/18/08 Sat Green Bay, WI Resch Center

  • 10/19/08 Sun St. Paul, MN Xcel Energy Center

  • 10/21/08 Tue Milwaukee, WI Bradley Center
...Road trip NE1? Maluhia out!o)

07.18.2008: Center Stage, The Sequel!

Who's quoting who?
"I think it was Stella Adler, the famous acting teacher, who said, 'To be an accomplished actor, you have to have the hide of a rhino and the soul of a rose.' My hide is definitely getting tougher..."
...catch up on the latest turning point for the star of Center Stage from the Honolulu Advertiser!

07.17.2008: From the Streets of SF!

Just got an e-mail from SFBoy. Apparently, he's really earning his new nickname now...
"...I got (invited) into SFB's year-round program!...I'm really happy to have the opportunity!"
...But, don't cry for thee Waukee, GitUrFaShawn says he'll likely turn it down to return to CCDC for his senior season! But, getting invited to stay for the fall is a really good sign and the penultimate compliment a school and company can extend to a student! Kudos to xSABoy!!!

07.16.2008: Time To Get Moving!

You're going to hear about this all day today, but, the solution seems obvious...
(Courtesy Newswise — New research documents the decline in physical activity among children, with less than a third meeting recommended physical activity guidelines by the time they are 15 years old.

Physical inactivity is associated with an increase in obesity and associated illness and chronic diseases among youth. Expert opinion and studies suggest that children need a minimum of 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) per day, according to background information in the article. How many youth meet this standard is unclear.

Dr. Philip R. Nader collected physical activity data on 1,032 children when they were 9 years old until they were age 15. Physical activity was measured by the children wearing an accelerometer, a monitor worn on a belt that records minute-by-minute movement counts. The children would wear this monitor for one week a year at ages 9,11,12 and 15. The study took place in 10 geographic locations from 2000-2006. Participants included boys (517 [50.1 percent]) and girls (515 [49.9 percent]); 76.6 percent white (n = 791); and 24.5 percent (n = 231) lived in low-income families.

The researchers found that both the average minutes of MVPA and the range of minutes spent in MVPA decreased as children moved into adolescence. At 9 years, children engaged in MVPA approximately 3 hours per day on both weekdays and weekends. By 15 years, adolescents were only engaging in MVPA for 49 minutes per weekday and 35 minutes per weekend day. At 9 and 11 years, almost all children met the guidelines (of 60 minutes of MVPA per day), but by 15 years, only 31 percent and 17 percent met guidelines on weekdays and weekends, respectively. Both weekday and weekend MVPA showed significant decreases in MVPA between 9 and 15 years, with decreases of 38 and 41 minutes per year, respectively.

The estimated age at which girls crossed below the recommended 60 minutes of MVPA per day was approximately 13.1 years for weekday activity compared with boys at 14.7 years, and for weekend activity, girls crossed below the recommended 60 minutes of MVPA at 12.6 years compared with boys at 13.4 years.

“More research is … needed to understand the reasons for such substantial decreases in youth activity. Further study and more precise descriptions of the immediate activity environment, such as whether youth are located in urban, suburban, or rural areas; availability of safe places to be active; and quality of school-based physical education may explain some of the individual and regional differences noted in this and other studies.” “This decrease augurs poorly for levels of physical activity in U.S. adults and potentially for health over the course of a lifetime. Consequently, there is a need for program and policy action as early as possible at the family, community, school, health care, and governmental levels to address the problem of decreasing physical activity with increasing age,” the authors conclude.

07.15.2008: The Return Of The Prodigal

One of the first to go is the first to come back. The 2K2M making her triumphant return to CCDC last night after 5-weeks away at the Joffrey Midwest Summer Intensive. (How time flies! Little embarassed I didn't get her card in the mail yet!o) A lotta screaming and hugging and big commotion to welcome her home before class yesterday. She seems a little taller, a little older, but, not much wiser!o) (I joke! I kid becuz I kare!o) And, she seems none the worse for wear! The 2K's already making plans to meet many of her new summer friends at the Chicago audition this winter and return together to Flint again next year. She says the last week of classes and rehearsals proved why it's called "an intensive". But, she says the big finale' "was a blast!" And, now that she's such a veteran of pas de deux classes this summer, she seemed surprised when she told me I'm apparently "a pretty good partner!" She made the statement after we tried a few supported pirouettes after class. Who knew her doddering old teacher was still "pretty good" at partnering? I guess that long professional and amateur career and experience as a ballet, modern, broadway jazz and acrobatic partner/choreographer/teacher I had comes in handy once in a while!o) Welcome home, 2K2M!!!

07.14.2008: Media Mentions

Well, before Thayne got the ax on SYTYCD this past week, he got "mad props" from choreographer/judge Mia Michaels. (And, don't bet against the black men as the show heads into its final weeks!) She said she was looking forward to working with him on or off the show. As I've mentioned before, nothing is sweeter music to a dancer's ears than having a choreographer say she's going to hire him in the future. I wasn't impressed by Thayne, but, I have to admit he gets the most out of what he brings to the stage. When he smiles, his whole face and body lighten up! And, it looks to me like Jessica's days on the show are numbered. She's relying too much on her considerable physical assets instead of letting her dancing speak for itself. Unlike one of my other favorites, Katee. I don't think Katee even realizes how intoxicating her exotic Eurasian beauty can be. (She looks like the hapa ha'ole girls I was too shy to ask out growing up back in Hawai'i!o) Witness her attack in the Bollywood number and the Viennese Waltz last week. And, Mia paid her a high compliment with a hidden criticism as well: saying Katee "would become" an artist of the highest order. Did anyone else hear that she seemed to be hinting she's not there yet? And, speaking of Mia, her choreography is often "a gift" to the contestants. She challenges the dancers and finds ways to take them to a higher level with her "little gems" of choreography. Who wouldn't vote for a pair that shines in Michaels' piece? As well as Tice Diorio's latest piece. And, Mandy Moore outdid herself with Will and Jessica's first number. Whew! That brought tears to my eyes and an ache to my heart! How often can you say that watching anything on TV not on Lifetime or Hallmark Theater?...I'm still pulling for Mark, but, as I said before, I think the African-American men are going to be tough to beat: Twitch, Josh and Will. Watch out Gev! Chelsie and Kherington are my other picks besides Katee. I like Courtney, but, the competition's getting intense these days...And, the Sin City's Supah Crew is my pick to pick-up where Jabba Wakeez left off last season of ABDC. Not only do they have the best hand sign, they constantly challenge themselves to come up with creative and inventive choreography. The blogosphere says the next episode will be a tribute to Janet Jackson. Keep your eye out for tributes to her infamous "wardrobe malfunction"! Maluhia out!

07.11.2008: She Lives!

Spoke with our very own Princess SarAurorah II recently. Sleepy Cutie just left for the Atlanta Ballet Summer Intensive. Apparently, she's doing quite well and seems to be making an impressive first impression. She says the director of the school was watching their class recently. And, afterwards, she called SarAurorah over and asked her for her name, hometown, age and grade. Afterwards, the director smiled and told her "keep in touch"! This is apparently the woman who chooses who gets into their trainee, internship and apprentice positions! So, it sounds like they're considering putting Sonambula on the fast-track to one of those slots. The director didn't talk to anyone else. Keep your fingers crossed!...Sonambula also says she's beat out a lot of fellow students to be cast as one of the four Big Swans in their Swan Lake. And, they're also learning corps work from Act IV of Artistic Director John McFall's version of the classic ballet. In other info, SarAurorah says she's tall enough to have to be partnered by the instructor and one of the company dancers in pas de deux class. She says it's much better than being partnered by some of the newbie boys in the intensive. All in all, sounds like she's one of the hottest things in the town they call "Hot-lanta"!...And, also had a chance to speak with the Prince Consort of the original CCDC Sleeping Beauty recently. He made an interesting offer: says he'd be willing to attend any new CCDC partnering classes to help us out. Okay, any other guys out there we might be able to convince to join us?

07.11.2008: Feedback From The Feedbag!

Got this in our emailbox recently. Kind words about a kind teacher:
"...I feel like Jill (Andrews) is one of those really incredible gems that only come around once in a blue moon..."
...And, no one has compared ME to any jewelry lately!o(sniff)

07.10.2008: Audition Action

Just got this email from CCDC Guest Modern Dance Instructor Kathleen Hurley:
"Hurley & Dancers, a professional modern dance company, is seeking dancers/movers for a “dance experience” to be held Sept. 5/6 as part of the East Village Art Coalition/ArtStop event. ArtStop is an event in which art lovers can hop on a shuttle bus and visit several galleries within two days. Hurley & Dancers is partnering with the East Village Art Coalition (EVAC).

Choreographer Kathleen Hurley is seeking approximately 10-15 dancers/movers for a marathon improvisational piece on the theme of Ritual. Dancers should have some dance or movement experience and be above the age of 16. Mature dancers and seniors are welcome. Dancers will improvise at their own level based on material presented in classwork. Dance performed will be in the style of modern dance.

An audition will be held on Saturday, July 26, 3-5 p.m., at Lind Dance School. Participants should wear dance or workout clothing that shows the lines of the body (not baggy) and be prepared to dance barefoot. Accepted participants will be taught material in a series of Saturday classes to be held Aug. 2-Aug. 30 (5 weeks), 3:15-5-:15 p.m. $5 fee per class. No fee for audition class.

Exceptional participants may be considered for positions as company members in Hurley & Dancers' professional modern dance company.

For more information, contact Kathleen Hurley."

07.09.2008: Tutu 4 The Price Of None!

When it rains, it pours! Here's a real update from CCDC's Margaruite Du Armaund:
"Hello Emery, Missy and everyone at CCDC! I am very sorry for the huge gap in between my e-mails...It won't happen again, i promise!

OH MY GOSH, I LOVE HOUSTON SO MUCH!! Classes are GREAT! My partner is SO MUCH cuter than KK's FAR! The humid weather works SO well with my hair...I LOVE the new style it has formed into! So curly! The five-mile walks to whole foods are AWESOME!! SUCH an adventure!!!! ahh!!

Hehe...that was for KK. But really, classes are going quite well considering we have a different ballet teacher everyday of the week. Stability is hard to find in the changing of styles and teachers, however I have been adapting and taking them on as a challenge :) Variations classes have been the time I am done, I will be able to complete all of Swan Lake including white swan, black swan, four swans, big swans, and a character section. Surprisingly, I loved learning the Black Swan variation! It was so challenging, but I felt the most comfortable with the movements compared to the other pieces we are learning. As I was telling you earlier, Serenade rehearsal is going so well. Louis Lester is coming back later this week to rehearse us for two hours in the afternoon to clean the piece. She is the artistic director that set the piece on the company a few years back. I am excited to have her back for rehearsals, however I also like the instructor who has been running them while she has been away. Her name is Sally Rojas, and I also have her for ballet classes. She is extremely blunt, yet explains corrections really well. I also love my modern classes. We have modern twice a week for an hour and a half. The time goes by so fast in the classes...and we work on so many different things. This week we have been focusing on partnering and sharing weight, but all last week was rolling and sliding on the floor and learning how to smoothly transer our weight on the ground. Many bruises resulted form those classes, but I still had a good time.

For the Fourth of July weekend we had three days off...gasp! I kept myself busy with yoga classes (which I have found extremely calming...especially on the days I feel homesick) and adventures around Houston. Eleanore, my roommate, and I took a trip to whole foods...and ended up walking around a large part of Houston. We only saw one other person walking to get anywhere...EVERYONE drives here becuase the city is so spread out! It's kind of a pain, except we finally made a friend with a girl who has a car! her name is Abigail, and she attends the year round program here. Abigail is recovering from surgery, so she stayed here in level seven for the summer program. A lot of the younger students for the year round program go to different summer programs, except for the level eights who are mostly all in the HBII program during the year. I've gotten to know so many other girls...from Australia, South Carolina, California, and up-state New York. We have a lot of fun trying to talk like one another...especially the two from Australia! I've almost got the accent's really tough :)

I should probably get going, though...I still have to make dinner and go through corrections for today. I will write more about the performance in a coupel weeks when I know more about it...I'll also check if there will be videos of it. My mom said she would try to stop by with my address today before classes tonight...If she didn't, just let me know and I will get the address to the school for those of you who wanted it. I miss you all very much and hope your days have been going well!

Much love,

07.09.2008: Sarcasm Works!

Reports of the demise of 2K2M apparently "greatly exaggerated". Evidence of the elusive Bob White's continued existence below:
"Hey guys! Sorry I haven't e-mailed back sooner, and no I didn't develop carpal tunnel syndrome :) Everything is going really really super amazingly great here at Joffrey Midwest! I saw that you posted the news story they did on us, and I wasn't on there at all. hehe. I was actually kind of relieved...:) But I can't believe that this is already the fourth week! Time has gone by so fast!!!!! Classes are still going amazingly, the teachers are all really great about giving corrections. We're learning the finale tomorrow for our show...which is going to be so cool with 100 dancers all on stage at the same time! (Kind of like the [Editor's note: insert name of inferior local dance studio here] recitals...?) I'm pretty bummed though because Thursday is our last Pas de Deux class! I think i'm going to cry!!!! :( I really miss everyone tons, and I promise I'll e-mail back again!!!

Love you guys!!,

07.08.2008: Yellow (p)Rose of Texas!

Spoke with Margaruite Du Armaund from the Houston Ballet Summer Intensive last night. She's promising to write an update for this dance blog soon. Meantime, she sounds like she's doing well. Says the classes move along at a fast clip. Not a lot of time to work on things between combinations, so she's making time to go over the new material in what little spare time she has. Margot says she'll be performing at least two pieces in their end of intensive performance: Excerpts from Balanchine's classic Seranade and a modern piece, I think she said. She also says she's learning a character piece, but, en pointe! Fun! (Normally, character dance is performed in character shoes. Hence, the name. See how that works?) She's hoping to bring back a video of the performance for friends and family who can't make it there to see her. And, Margaruite's already half-way done with her 6-week intensive! So, she'll be back sooner than you think! Time to get that care package in the mail...otherwise, you'll be handing it to her half-heartedly on your own soon.

07.08.2008: Tracking The Elusive Bob White!

2K2M has apparently contracted crippling carpal tunnel syndrome and hasn't been e-mailing us anything lately>:o( So, we went searching on the web for her and found video from this year's Joffrey Ballet Summer Intensive from WRNT-TV in Flint. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to spot her in the background anyplace. ...No doubt, she was off icing that "injury" that's keeping her from the keyboard!o(

07.08.2008: Didja ask...Where Ya Bean?

Managed to sneak in a mini-vacation in the middle of last week's "big" vay-kay. We packed up our troubles in our old kit-bag and stuffed a week's worth of doings into our little-more than-a-day long visit to Branson, MO. Check this out from the mighty mini-Vegas of the Midwest: took a duck's tour of the big dam lake, three visits to the local Panera's, caught two living legends for the price of four at the Moon River Theater. (That would be Andy Williams and Ann Margaret.) Ate at the local greasy spoon where a cowboy hatted patron smoked like chimney. The next day, power-shopped the Tanger outlet mall, caught the afternoon show at the Pierce Arrow Theater and dined at local landmark Tony Z's. Then, tired of fighting all the traffic, we scrammed before the checks started bouncing...Here's our reviews and there's even a little dance reax somewhere in the middle, otherwise feel free to skip: Skip the duck ride as well. If you want to ride refurbished amphibious assault vehicles, head to the Dells where I hear the scenery is more arresting. Speaking of arresting, our Captain should be taken into custody and charged with non-stop nonsensical rambling. There's not much to see on most of the tour, so he tried to distract us with a continuing stream of bad jokes. That's an hour of my life I'll never get back. Even the duck-bill shaped kazoo souvenier wasn't worth it...Back on land, that Andy Williams is a living legend. He's probably the last of the old-time crooners, relaxed and comfortable on stage after a lifetime entertaining millions. Now, we can say we've caught his show. And, Ann Margaret must've been "smokin' hot" back in the fifties, sixties and, maybe, into the seventies as her impressive montage of film and television clips showed the audience. But, she's near into her own seventies now and that sexy ship has long since sailed, sunk and seriously decommissioned! If you're going to see this show, take your parents or grandparents. (Here's the dance bit: Margaret's two male background dancers weren't bad, but, the choreography was also all so retro-sixties Liza Minelli style steps, long-in-the-tooth and, like the fading star herself, looking more than a little dated.)...Well, we've given up on the fully "dance-themed" shows in Branson. (Check the archives for reviews of the half-hearted Salute to Broadway and the faux Irish Spirit of the Dance.) So, we considered comedians. But, Yakov Smirnoff was dark during the time we had available. The reservations guy steered us to the Pierce Arrow Show. And, I have to admit their comedian was good. I've done stand-up before, so, I give anyone "mad props" who even attempts to make perfect strangers laugh. The male singers were good, and, I presume, good-looking enough to a generation raised on boy-bands. (One singer's claim to fame was the lowest note ever sung and he boasted a six-octave range! Six! I can barely croak out six notes, let alone octaves!o) But, the female singer seemed to be straining all through the show. Oh, and, it's country. It's definitely country. Everyone was clapping along and smiling to songs I wasn't very familiar with. I actually related best when a son of one of the original Platters was called on stage to sing an old Temptations hit. And, my only other complaint is that I prefer my chauvinistic, jingoistic, nationalistic, hyper-patriotism in small doses. I'm just sayin...

07.07.2008: What Was That Address Again???

An open e-mail to the Capital City Dance Center students currently away at Summer Intensives (Including the latest to leave this past week: The Cardigan Girl and Princess SarAurorah Sonambula):
"Would you believe millions and millions of requests for your snail-mail addresses? Would you believe dozens and doz…Okay, one person wrote me to ask for one of your addresses. But, hey, let’s not quibble! Send me your postal addresses ASAP and, then, wait patiently by the mailbox! (This would be a good opportunity for a nap, 2K!o) Or…Wouldn’t this be an excellent chance to WRITE AN eMAIL and UPDATE us stuck at home??? You know you will have to return eventually and it’s up to you whether we hail you as returning conquering heroes or heroines…or we can ignore you like you ignored US!>o(..."
Enter your postal address here and now!o)

07.07.2008: Media Matters?

I was scolded last week for not writing more about the "vast wasteland", so here goes: Well, since Matt Dorame got voted off SYTYCD this past week, I'm rooting for Hawai'i's Mark Kanemura. The guy is a dance chameleon! Loved his Argentine Tango! And, I had suspected that he might be the protege' of a guy I used to dance with, Marcelo P, in Jane Cassel's Third Wave Dance Theater a long time ago. And, this story in MidWeek Magazine confirms it. (Mark even looks a little like a taller Marcelo if you squint a lot at an analog TV!o) There were several dancers in Third Wave that went on to "immense fame and fortune"! Michael J went on to dance with North Carolina Dance Theater. Ken M moved to L-A and danced on a TV show. Cheryl Y also moved to L-A. I saw her in at least one music video and one TV show. John C moved to SF and took over a dance studio in the Mission district. Marcelo and Deanna L stayed in the islands and choreographed and taught...and, I moved to the mainland and was never heard from again!o(...speaking of "never being heard from again", isn't it past time for Thayne to take the long walk off a short plank on SYTYCD? Still shocked at Maurice's abrupt dismissal in Week Two. But, it seems to me, the judges are getting rid of the younger dancers...And, speaking of getting "rid of" it just me? Or, is there a misogynistic bent from the voting public in America's Best Dance Crew? Or, is it the all-distaff crews just can't hang with the physical demands of b-boy breakin'? Last season's finale featured only guys in the last dance-off. (Even though, Kabba Modern had three females and came up just short of the final pairing! Still a little upset about that!) Just askin'...

07.04.2008: Le Jeune Homme Et La Mort!

So, it kinda happened like this...
"As I pulled into the parking lot of the new ballet school in the new city I was visiting, it didn't look promising. I'm a former professional dancer who travels a bit in my new job. And, wherever I travel, I try to take class from different teachers at different studios. I've taken class with the ballet company in Milwaukee and Orlando. I've taken classes with studios in Honolulu and Phoenix. I've even taken class in Tokyo and Naha, Okinawa. But, the huge parking lot of this new studio in this unnamed city was empty except for one conspicuous big white truck.

I popped out of the car, not expecting much. But, sometimes studios put a schedule up on the door. So, even if they weren't having class right then, sometimes I was able to figure out when I could come back. I'd tried calling several times, but, all I got was an enigmatic User Busy signal before it stopped ringing. A guest instructor at our studio had recommended this place when she learned I'd be going to that state for a visit. But, it didn't look very promising...

...the door was unlocked. All the lights were on. "Hello?", I yelled as I stepped inside. No answer. I leaned in one big studio. "Hello!", I tried again. "Anyone home?" Still no answer. The bulletin board had a flier from their summer program tacked on it. Hmm, Vaganova training. That could be good or bad depending on how tight their grip on Aggripina's syllabus was. But, apparently, their intensive had just ended the week before. But, why were all the lobby lights still on and the front door unlocked?

I turned on some lights in what looked like an office. Still no one there. I walked to the back and looked around. No signs of life. I walked back to the door and turned around for one last look. I could see my own footprints in what looked like a freshly mopped floor. "Uh-oh!" I thought to myself. "Someone's not gonna like that!" Now, I was hoping I wouldn't run into anyone!

I turned off the lights and walked back to the front lobby. The studios had marley, but, were barely raised. Maybe a half-inch at most. That wasn't enough in my book, but, because the ceiling wasn't raised either, they may have been trying to maximize the jumping space. The main studio at my home city didn't have that false ceiling, so we could have room to practice overhead lifts if we needed. But, a hard surface barely off concrete was an invitation to back and ankle problems in my book.

I took one last look around, yelled one last time. Then, I pushed open the door, turned on my heel and left with more questions than I arrived with.

That's why, when the police found the body in the back, with my fingerprints and shoeprints all over the place, I became the main suspect..."

...Okay, Okay! All except for that last sentence is pretty much what happened when I dropped by the studio that Karina recommended this past week. That's the long way of saying, I got no class! class, that is!o) I've had to make do with giving myself barre on carpet over concrete!:oP I put on an interval weight/aerobic or yoga DVD and, then, do a little barre. My feet, legs and body hurt, even though I don't do any jumping at all. The good news is, I should be back in town giving class on a triple-basket-weave, fully suspended floor with marley under no false ceiling as early as this Sunday at our usual time! That is unless the coppers stop me at the border!o) C'mon, Lefty! Give 'er the gas! Gotta find that one-armed man in that big, white truck!o)

Beta Testing

Check this out:

06.29.2008: A Parker Prescription...

As he rides off into the sunset while softly strumming his six-string, CCDC 2008 Summer Intensive Guest Faculty Andrew Parker leaves us this message:
"June 2008
A Note from Andrew Parker
Dear CCDC Dancers:

It was a joy and honor to work with each of you recently! You are blessed and wise to have selected CCDC for your dance education. The detailed, personalized and outstanding teaching you are receiving from your directors, Missy and Emery, and other faculty, will serve you very, very well wherever your future paths may lead. Success and fulfillment in life stem from integrity (grit and determination included!), intelligence, compassion (passion included!), commitment and doing/sharing things you love.

With classical ballet at the heart of its curriculum, enhanced by other styles and forms of dance expression, CCDC clearly has developed an impressive track record of artistic achievement in a relatively brief time. I was so pleased to discover professional high-quality ballet training was still available in Greater Des Moines, after my years as principal dancer and teacher with Ballet Iowa back in the 90's.

In closing, a bit more teaching...

Strive for your personal best each and every moment in life.... enjoy the ride with all the ups and downs... and with dedication, trust and joy, immerse yourselves fully in the glorious art of ballet!

With thanks and best wishes to each of you,

Andrew Parker"

06.29.2008: ...And, Kind Words From Karina

Here's some feedback from Capital City Dance Center 2008 Summer Intensive Guest Faculty Karina Lheozcky:
"...I had a wonderful time teaching your students. Missy and Emery, you have created a positive and nurturing studio environment for your students. They exhibited strong ballet technique, an excellent work ethic, and open minds to new corrections and ideas. It was a pleasure and honor to work with them and you."
And, Karina also responded to requests for the music she used in repertory and choreography
"...Here is the music run down...
  • The modern choreography music is set to the first song on a cd by Wim Mertens called the Best of Wim Mertens.

  • The ballet choreography is set to a piece called First Impressions by Edgar Meyers. It is on a cd by Yo Yo Ma called Impassionato.

  • Other music I used in modern class was Deep Forest, Kodo, and music to a documentary called African World. There was another cd I used called Breathe but I can't remember the artist..."

06.27.2008: Mercury Rising

It's only a matter of time until that heat and humidity swelters into summer. So, here are some tips from the state department of Public Health on how to keep your cool:
"Rising temperatures coupled with higher humidity levels raise health concerns related to heat illness for all midwesterners, especially those doing flood recovery work. “The strenuous work of flood cleanup and repair is challenging, even for young and healthy individuals,” said Department of Public Health Director Tom Newton. “Combine the hard work with heat and humidity, and the possibility of heat exhaustion exists. Make sure you take the time to rest, rehydrate and relax even if you have a lot of cleanup to do”.

There are many ways to protect yourself from heat-related illnesses. By taking some simple steps, and being aware of your body’s response to heat and humidity, you can avoid the potentially serious complications of heat exhaustion and heat stroke:

  • Drink plenty of non-alcoholic, sugar-free fluids like water. If possible, avoid caffeinated and carbonated beverages.
  • Don’t wait until you feel thirsty to drink water. If you are thirsty, you are already low on fluids.
  • When temperatures are high, drinking two to four 8-ounce glasses of cool fluid an hour will help keep you hydrated.
  • If you drink enough fluid that you have to urinate every couple of hours or more, you are probably keeping up with your fluid needs.
  • Salt and minerals lost through sweating can be replaced with a variety of foods and beverages.
  • Rehydration fluids like sports beverages designed for athletes and Pedialyte for young children.
  • Salty foods like salted crackers, or fruits, especially bananas, can help replace the potassium lost in perspiration.
  • Work during the cooler times of day and wear appropriate loose, light-weight clothing.
  • Keep up a normal diet, but avoid hot foods and heavy meals. Eat plenty of salads and fruits, but avoid sugary foods and drinks as they can make you thirstier.
  • If working outdoors, wear sunscreen, large brimmed hats and stay in the shade as much as possible.
  • Ventilation and air movement will help reduce heat related illness. Use fans and air conditioning whenever possible. Take cool showers.
  • Pace yourself. Start slowly and pick up intensity gradually. If exertion makes your heart pound and leaves you gasping for breath, STOP the activity.
  • Take frequent breaks - at least five minutes each hour - to drink cool fluids and rest in a shady or air conditioned area.
  • Take care of each other. Watch the condition of co-workers or those around you. Heat-induced illness can cause a person to become confused or even lose consciousness.
To avoid heat exhaustion or heat stroke, be aware of your body’s reaction to heat and humidity. A decrease in urination or dark colored urine, a dry mouth and throat, and feeling dizzy when standing up are all symptoms of dehydration and potential heat illness. If you experience any of these symptoms, immediately take time to rest in a cool area, re-hydrate and relax!"

06.26.2008: Dancers Delight!

Got a call from C-Dub last night. Apparently the peer pressure from my not-so-subtle hints in this blog worked! Ekaterina 'da Ballerina says she got into the seventh highest level of eight at Washington Ballet Summer School. She says she's also taking authentic Spanish Flamenco and she loves it! But, Katya says her tap training's helping a lot in that class. A lot of the other dancers who had no such training are floundering at their flamenco apparently. Ms W00tang also says she's taking "the world's hardest Pilates classes" taught by a former professional dancer. I told her she was in great shape when she left and was dancing real well and that class still challenged her? She said YES! But, she enjoyed it and what she learned carried over into the ballet class immediately following it. Sounds like she's having a great time! ...but, apparently, not as great as 2K2M!!! She finally wrote back:
"Hey Guys! Sorry it's taken me so long to write again, I've been so pooped after classes and rehearsals that I just come back to the hotel and crash! I absolutely love it here at Joffrey Midwest! I seriously think it's the funnest thing I've ever done!!!!!!! AHHHHHH!

Classes here are so much fun, and I'm getting pushed A LOT. One of the hardest things for me is definitely working on not being intimidated by the other dancers here. A lot of them have been to other summer intensives, and there are a ton of really talented dancers here. But the teachers totally understand how hard I'm working. I was taking class with Ms. Juralev the other day (the hardcore russian teacher who made a girl cry) and after class was over I decided to stay after a little bit and work on some things while everyone else went to lunch. Ms Juralev watched me for awhile and then said, "That is so sad." And I said, "I'm sorry I know I should have turned out more, I'll fix it!!!" And then she said, "No, no, no, it isn't that. I think it's sad that you're the only one in your class that wants to get better." And then she walked away! Haha I was like YES!! I got total bonus points with the Russian lady!!! Which is actually a really good thing because she is the one that is setting our ballet piece on us. We're doing La Sylphide!!!! IT'S ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS I LOVE IT!!!

But, yes, pas de deux class is my absolute favorite thing on earth!! I'm tellin' you guys, we have got to get some more guys at CCDC!! I don't think i'll be able to wait until next summer to partner again! :(

I've met so many great people here though! Everyone is friends with everyone here, and we've all become a really big family. The dancers in the upper level are so nice, and they're really great about giving us advice. Actually, the guy that I have for partnering, Aaron, is really great about giving me corrections during partnering , because he knows that it's my first time. But it was awesome because we had pas de deux class with John Magnus on Monday and he was trying to get us to connect more with our partner during adagio, and feel the energy between us. So we did the combination, and then John Magnus came over to me and Aaron and shook our hands. We're kind of like, "huh?" But then he said to everyone, "Class I want you to watch Kaitlin and Aaron do this combination and look at the connection they have!!! Watch and learn!!!" Haha I was like AAAAHHH!!!!!! Me and the cutest guy on the planet have connection?!?!?!

I'm having the best time of my life here but I miss you guys tons!!!!! I LOVE YOU GUYS!!!!


06.26.2008: Gnaw Ledge 4 Awl!

(Courtesy Newswise) — Healthy seniors who are physically active and exercise for more than 60 minutes each week can lessen their chances of disability as they age, finds a new long-term study.

“This study contributes to the large body of scientific evidence supporting the importance of continuing to be physical active over one’s life,” said lead author Bonnie Bruce.

The researchers looked at 805 adults between the ages 50 and 72 at enrollment and followed for them for 13 years, from 1989 to 2002. Each year, participants answered survey questions about their overall health and vitality and rated themselves on their ability (or inability) to do tasks such as dressing, eating and reaching. Responses fell on a scale from 0 (no difficulty) to 3 (unable to do).

Participants also reported their level of activity and were considered “active” if they exercised vigorously — for example, running, brisk walking, swimming, biking and hiking — more than 60 minutes per week, or “inactive” if 60 minutes or less per week.

The researchers then grouped them as normal-weight active, normal-weight inactive, overweight active or overweight inactive, with BMI determining their weight group.

The normal-weight physically active seniors reported an average of 303 minutes of exercise per week, compared with an average of 16 minutes for normal-weight inactive seniors. On the other hand, overweight seniors who were physically active reported an average of 251 minutes per week, compared with 12 minutes for the overweight inactive seniors.

After 13 years, the overweight active seniors (average disability score 0.14) had significantly less disability than the overweight inactive (average disability score 0.19) and normal-weight inactive seniors (average disability score 0.22) seniors.

The researchers concluded that being physically active, regardless of body weight, helped lessen disability. Bruce said that public health efforts that promote physically active lifestyles among seniors may be more feasible than those that emphasize body weight to remain healthy. (Editor's note: Why not take a CCDC adult ballet, jazz or Pilates class?)

(Courtesy Newswise) — Is the idea that the freshman year of college—newly away from home and susceptible to the all-you-can-eat buffet—may be an especially vulnerable time for weight gain merely a myth? No, says psychology professor Jill Holm-Denoma.

“What we found is that people — both men and women — do, on average, gain more weight their freshman year of college than they do at any other period in their life,” says Holm-Denoma. “But it’s nowhere near 15 pounds; it’s more like three to four pounds. It may not sound like much, but on average, across their lifespan, adults, including similar-age adults who are not in college, gain about 0.9 pounds a year. So at three or four times what people normally gain, the study determined that, yes, the freshman year is a high-risk time period for substantial weight gain."

Perhaps most surprisingly, neither eating junk food, nor eating more healthfully was an accurate predictor of who would gain weight and what caused those who gained weight to do so. While both men and women gained weight equally, the predictors of what causes certain people to gain weight were opposite. In men and women, the relationship with parents impacts whether you gain weight at college. But men who had problematic relationships with their parents gained weight, whereas having good relationships with parents caused weight gain in women.

Holm-Denoma asked students in their senior year of high school, right after they were admitted to college, to fill out a 9-page questionnaire detailing their eating habits and also answering questions about alcohol abuse habits, depression, and past eating disorder symptoms, to get a sense of mental health status that can relate to eating. The students were then surveyed again partway through their freshman year of college.

Additionally, a third of the sample was followed after the first semester, a third was followed up in February, and the final third of the sample was followed up in the spring at the very end of their freshman year to determine when the weight gain happens. “People,” says Holm-Denoma, “gained weight by the end of the first semester and then it kind of stabilized over time, so it happens pretty quickly.” (Editor's note: Word to the wise!o)

06.25.2008: Hot Child In The City

Might as well bookmark this. It's SFBoy's ballet blog about his classes at San Francisco Ballet School this summer. He's been blogging daily and in detail, with some pix. I know, I's hard to top his pictures of M&M's in the Big Apple last year! But, this year's blog allows us a more in-depth glimpse into one of the most exclusive summer programs in the country. (He says he's been put in the "short" men's group for pas de deux! His latest entry also talks about his new trick for making his legs look even longer! Because, y'know, they have been looking awfully stubby lately!o) I've put it on the list of my daily must-read blogs. Fresh content, good writing...almost makes us not miss having him in class!

06.25.2008: Bandwagon Jumpers!o)

American Ballet Theater is apparently bourreing in Capital City Dance Center's footsteps!o) Here's an interesting post about their La Bayadere excerpted below:
"...Of course this ballet is so beautiful, many come regardless of who’s dancing, just for the story and the poetry of the choreography, particularly the breathtaking Kingdom of the Shades scene (which at first I have to admit I wasn’t so fond of because it’s so slow and there are few men) but has really grown on me with its beauty. This is the part of the ballet where Solor sleeps and dreams of his Nikiya, whose image floods his subconsious by suddenly duplicating itself many many times over, as illustrated by a series of ballerinas all in white, emanating from the mountainside traveling forward in a pattern of lovely arabesques, then taking center stage and bourreeing in place, all in perfect sync, in perfect harmony, reminiscient of a spirit-world, and foreshadowing that this is the only place Solor and Nikiya will be together..."

06.25.2008: Inquring Mindz Wanna No!

Here are some more questions for CCDC dancers too tired to come up with good topics to write home about:

  1. What do you know now that you wish you knew before you left? How could you have been better prepared for your intensive?
  2. What’s giving you the hardest time? And, what’s easy for you that’s hard for other dancers?
  3. What kind of advice would you give to other CCDC students who may choose to go to the Joffrey intensive next year?
  4. Did you forget to pack anything that you’re going to remember to take next year?
  5. What’s the hardest technical ballet step you’re being asked to do? Jazz? Modern?
  6. What’s the best correction you’ve gotten since you’ve been gone? Harshest criticism? Kindest compliment?
  7. How good are the best dancers in the most advanced classes? What’s the most difficult thing you’ve seen performed for the first time in person?
  8. What’s the hardest thing about living on your own for the first time? Any laundry stories?

06.24.2008: Dance Together...or Fall Apart?

NE1 going to this? We're outta here...

State Dance Network Gathering & Workshop

A Free Workshop

State Dance Network Gathering & Workshop, Sunday, 6/29/08, State Historical Building Cafe, 10 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. Free and open to all interested dancers!

The State Dance Network will hold its first gathering on Sunday, 6/29/08, State Historical Building Cafe, 10 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. This new group is meant to serve local dancers--from classical ballet to folk and traditional of various cultures, from modern to tap, from jazz to hiphop and everything in between and around the edges!

This gathering, which is free and specifically aimed at dancers 18 and over, will offer a variety of sessions: grant writing for grants, information about performing and teaching artist rosters, how to use new media for marketing, and more. There will be opportunities to network and collaborate with colleagues from across the state as well as dance breaks!

Following is the Gathering & Workshop schedule:

  • 10 a.m. Coffee/Tea/Snacks/Introductions
  • 10:30 a.m. Arts Council Rosters (Performing and Teaching Artists information and q&a)
  • 11:30 a.m. Arts Council Grant workshop (overview of IAC grants)-Pt 1
  • 12:30 p.m. Lunch break/networking
  • 1:30 p.m. Arts Council Grant workshop (grants review exercise, q&a)--Pt 2
  • 2:30 p.m. Dance Break
  • 3 p.m. Marketing & New Media (Valerie Williams, Co'Motion Dance Theater)
  • 4 p.m. Evaluation--where do we go from here?

06.23.2008: Texas Tutu Step!

...and, Margaruite Du Armaund checks in from the 2nd biggest state in the union!o)
"It is so good to hear from you! Thanks for giving me an update from home. It's nice to hear some normal news in such an unfamiliar place :)

That's awesome that Giselle and Rothbarta get to finally take class! I know G was bummed last week because her job conflicted with intensive....and I'm sure the dread Sorceress was itching to get to class as well!

Classes are going okay. Your Sunday classes sound great about now, actually...Even if the instructors don't really know me yet, i have made friends with one of the piantist! Her name is Margot, and she is this little old lady from Russia. She was telling me how to get rid of the swelling in blisters...cabbage leaves do the trick i guess! She told me to wrap cabbage leaves around the wound and the swelling would go down along with hot water and baking soda baths! I'll have to try it the next time i get a blister. Maybe I will ask her if she knows any tricks that would help with your calf muscle?

Today was probably the first class where I felt comfortable with the teacher and the other dancers...a step in the right direction finally! The classes themselves are great. I love pointe class with Dawn Scannel, and ballet class with Mrs. Lenzy (not sure on the spelling) is really wonderful because I feel like she understands how I tense up and what to say to help me with that problem. We had another pas class on Thursday with Andrew Murphy (not the same instructor as before) and I felt really good afterwards. I had a partner who really knew what he was doing and wasn't afraid to talk to me so we could work a lot of things out when we did continuous finger turns (I dont know if they have a technical name?). We learned the pas from the third act of Sleeping Beauty so we worked on one handed promenades and the developpe' lifts...and I kept on picturing SMilz working with Dima!

Serenade rehearsals are going very well. We aren't doing the whole piece including the pas, so it's only about ten minutes of dancing or so. I love the choreography and am excited to start cleaning it on Monday! We also started rehearsals for a contemporary piece that is choreographed by one of the level 8's who will be in the HBII program next year. We started learning the choreography on Friday and it is a little outside of my box, which is exactly what I need! I had to work on it all Friday night to get the movements's a little difficult and super fast! The piece is set to Vivaldi and Bach, and it reminds me of Cooperz choreography with a sharper edge. The most difficult aspect is that it is en pointe and he doesn't realize that some things on flat feel completely different in pointe we had to ask a lot of questions about hte transition steps. otherwise, I think if I keep on going over the steps I will feel more natural doing them. (I hope!) We get done everyday around six-thirty...and by then we are quite exhausted! Tomorrow is my day off...and I think Eleanor (my roommate) and I will take a trip to Whole Foods and the movie store.

The Houston heat doesn't really affect us during the day because we are inside during the afternoon hours. We ahve been getting thunderstorms almost every night, but thankfully nothing like hurricane weather! That should come near the end of July (I'm crossing my fingers for the beginning of August when I am safe at home!) I have kept up with the flooding through the morning news here...and am so happy that the Capital City area wasn't badly affected.

I talked with Natasha the other day...and she said intensive was going really well aside form the classes being a little smaller. She said she loved Karina's modern class and was looking forward to Mr. Parker's contemporary rep. I'm sure it was sad seeing them go. Tell them thank you for me if you get the chance...I wasn't able to properly thank them before I left. House of Hunan sounds great! There are supposed to be delicious mexican restaurants down here, but nothing is really within walking distance in Houston except for the nearest Krogers! Everyone drives cars here...and it is such a spread out city. Maybe I will get lucky and make friends with someone who has a car!

I have been keeping up with 2K2m's e-mails! She sounds like she is having a great first experience! It's awesome! I talked to her a little last Sunday, and she sounded like she was settling in just fine. I talked to SFBoy when he first got to San Francisco...except he was only to the baggage claim, so he didn't have very much excited news to tell me. I haven't talked to Ekaterina yet, but I know that she left yesterday with her mom...I'll have to see how she is doing!

Tell everyone hi for me! I'll let my mom know about the pictures as soon as possible. Next time I write i'll let you know how the contemporary piece is going (hopefully well...!)"

06.23.2008: SYTYCD

Here's a link to an article and following post-discussion of the last week's suprising results. And, can't say I disagree with author/blogger Tonya Planck.

06.23.2008: 'Da Annual Dancer Diaspora!

The yearly trickle has become a flood. Fond farewells bid to the CCDC 2008 Summer Intensive Guest Faculty as well as many dancers on their way to summer intensives around the country. (As well as MMMad Skyllz off to that other Sunshine State to work on her tan!o) Ekaterina W00tang and GitUrFaShawn off to opposite sides of the country. Katya to D-C and SFBoy to one of my favorite cities, that glittering Bagdad By The Bay. And, while NOT A SINGLE WORD YET from C-Dub, the xSABoy checks in with this link to a summer blog:
"I'm trying to start up my new San Francisco blog. Everything is going pretty well so far, not that we've done anything ballet-wise yet. Anyway..."
...More dancers leave this weekend, so enjoy them while you can!

06.20.2008: Inside The Intensive@CCDC!

Overheard in CCDC Summer Intensive Guest Faculty Instructor Andrew Parker's classes:
"Keep your foot on the gas pedal! Don't let that pirouette just peter out!"

"It's like you're running for the bus...but, halfway there, you just give-up!"

"Let's do that exercise again to different music!"

"Sometimes if we're not good at something...we just give up working on it. Turn-out is a good example. Don't give up!"

"Preparation for each exercise is your chance to start developing and demonstrating your musicality!"

"There's pointing your feet...and, then, there's REALLY pointing your feet! There's stretching your legs...and, then, there's REALLY stretching your legs!"

"You have to know when to loosen that corset...and when to lace it up tight! You have to know when to seem soft...and when to work hard!"

06.20.2008: Diasporean Dialogue

Here's a copy of an e-mail I just sent to Margaruite and 2K2M:
"Hey Margot! Great to hear from you! Sounds like you're doing good!o)

Well, not much news to report from back home. But, the weather's been very sunny and dry since the weekend, so, waters are receding.

I'm back at work this week, so, I feel a little removed from the Intensive. I only get to see everyone for about a half-hour after work. They're all pooped from dancing all day! It's a little funny actually.

But, I've been giving myself class and Giselle and Rothbarta have come occasionally. I actually had both in class Sunday. No one showed up but me Monday. Giselle with me on Tuesday. Rothbarta on Wednesday.

Here's the lesson: be careful when it's just you and me in a class. I think I about killed Giselle with corrections when we went one-on-one! (She didn't come back the next day!) And, I pushed Rothbarta real hard last night as well. (Hour-and-a-half barre!)

My calf injury's gotten a lot better. I can actually releve' on it now. I may have pushed it a little too hard last night...but, as you know, us dancers gotta dance!

Tonight, quick barre before we take the guest teachers out for a farewell dinner. We're taking them to one of Missy's favorite Chinese restaurants for one of her favorite dishes: (Orange Chicken with extra sauce on the side from House of Hunan!o)

Pictures have arrived from Tim McConnell. You should tell your Mom to drop-by and pick yours up! If you have extra, make sure to autograph a couple and give them to me and Miss!

Hope you've had a chance to read KK's e-mail messages on the website! She's soo energetic and crazy in the absolute best way!

Okay! Gotta actually work now!
Miss ya a lot! Have fun! I'm jealous!"

06.19.2008: Houston! We have no problems!

We got a voice-mail from CCDC student Margaruite Du Armaund over the weekend...and, now, she follows up with this update from the great state of Texas:
"Hello everyone!

I hope you get this email okay...the computers at my apartment complex are a little funny when you try to email things. I thought i would wait a couple days before beginning my e-mailing...that way i'd have some interesting things to tell all of you. I'll start with my classes at the Houston Ballet School...they are very similar to those at home (awesome and grueling!) and the instructors are very focused on strong placement and classical positions (a couple of the goobers in my level love to use swan lake styled arms during class). Mornings start out with a technique class and proceed to a pointe or variations class. Dawn Scannel, who used to be a member with Houston Ballet but now is the ballet mistress i believe?, has taught two of my pointe classes already and i love them because they remind me of home and really prepare you for the rest of the day rehearsals en pointe. As far as corrections go, most are given to the whole class; however, i have gotten a couple on holding my ribs similar to (SFBoy), and bringing my head a little more forward.

Rehearsals in the afternoon are great. The level 7, which is the level i am in, is learning Balanchine's Serenade. It is a beautiful piece. It is very thrilling to see all of the figurations come together during the group movement. Corps rehearsals really prepared me for all of the exactness needed for the piece and the mandatory use of counting music! It's crazy because you will have four-eight counting, six-eight, and all the other ones in only a little part of the's all over the place! Loise Lester is setting the piece on us...she gives most of the company classes during the year. That is one thing i love about Houston; Many of the teachers here also work with the company members and many of the kids that attend the year round program stay for the summer program. We are in such close contact to the company members so you get more of a feel to how their schedules work during the year.

My roommate is really great. She trains at Boston Ballet School and is a little older so we get along quite well. I also met a girl from Australia who is hoping to get into the year-round program so she can continue her training. We spent a day trying to talk like each other...which was amusing! There is another girl here who reminds me so much of liz...she doesn't look like her at all, but the mannerisms are the same and i get along with her really well.

Partnering was crazy for the first class! He had us doing all sorts of things, both contemporary and classical. I'll have to show you a couple of the lifts when i get back! Despite the many bruises, I felt prepared thanks to Emery's partnering classes!

I'll write more next time, but it is getting a little late and i need to go over the counts for Serenade before i go to bed :) I miss you all very much. Hopefully the water has cleared a little so you can all enjoy the weather!

Much love,

06.19.2008: A Global Perspective

Here's an interesting excerpt from one of my favorite dance websites. It's a look from contributor Deborah Friedes at how dance training differs in another country:
"Ballet, the foundation of many dancers’ training in the U.S. and Europe, does not have strong roots here in Israel. Without a wealth of professional ballet companies and their attached academies, the country’s dance training system for children and adolescents follows a different model. There are plenty of independent studios throughout Israel, but it seems that for teenagers who are serious about becoming dancers, the key site of training is a solid high school dance department (and I mean solid - this is not at all like my public high school in the U.S., which had two classes labeled dance that primarily readied us for swimsuit season with lots of ab work set to music). The best high school programs in Israel bear some resemblance to U.S. university programs, with courses in ballet, modern dance, composition, improvisation, repertory, history, anatomy, music, and other related subjects. It’s from here that many dancers enter the professional world, further polishing their skills in workshop groups and second companies (such as those affiliated with Batsheva, the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company, or Vertigo Dance Company) or performing with independent choreographers. The university, which has such a prominent role in educating America’s modern dancers, is barely present in the Israeli training system. Two notable exceptions are Seminar HaKibbutzim in Tel Aviv and the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, but their programs emphasize pedagogy rather than performance or choreography. It’s important to note that the students at these colleges are older, having spent a few years - often the most formative ones in a dancer’s life - completing army service. Some dancers get out of the military in order to train and perform during this crucial phase of artistic development..."
Click the link to read the rest.

06.18.2008: Sparks From Flint!

Well, so much for answering "a few" questions everyday! Our prodigal dancer, 2K2M, the prototypical over-achiever, answers EVERYTHING all at once! (Including that question about if there are any "cuties" among the boys!o):
"Hey ya'll!! Here's some answers to those questions....

What level ballet did you get in? Out of how many? How many kids in your class? Where are you? WHO are you again?
I got placed in level B, and there are 3 levels. There are about 32 kids in my class, which is intimidating at first, but I love it! I'm in Flint BABY! Haha our whole time is spent at the Flint Cultural Center which is absolutely GORGEOUS!!

How much are you dancing? What different kinds of classes?
Well for the first week we're dancing 8-5..they want to "break us in." But, starting next week we're going to be going 8 a.m.-9 p.m. because of rehearsals!! YAYYYYY! We have ballet, pointe, variations, pas de deux, pilates, and jazz.

What's the most interesting different dance forms or classes you're taking?
Jazz is definitely waaaay different from what I usually get! But it's so great being able to experience different styles and teachers. (MUCH more hip movement) :)

Any specific differences they're asking for in ballet or pointe technique?
It's all pretty similar to what I usually get. Except, for flexed foot out on frappes'

Who're your main teachers? Where did they train or perform? Who's your favorite and why? (We r NOT insulted;o)
I LOVE JOHN MAGNUS!!! HE IS AMAZING! Ahhh. I absolutely love him! The first day of classes he told me that he saw that I was a very hard worker and asked me to show a combination in center!! He is always telling us to dance with spirt and soul, and to show our passion.

What kind of corrections or compliments have you been getting?
I've been getting a lot of corrections on not holding my tension in my upper body, and being more precise with what positions my feet are in. I've been getting compliments on really filling out the music in adagio.

Any interesting characters in class? (Besides yourself, I mean!o)
haaaaa there is this one girl Emily who is hilarious and sneezes kind of like Kelli!!!

What's the hardest thing to get used to?
Definitely being away from home, and not seeing all of the familiar faces from CCDC!

Are you rehearsing for performance?
Not yet, but soon to come!!

What's the best dance move you've seen so far?
Haha this hip circle thing that the jazz teacher does. He calls it the "Monastary"

What are you doing in partnering or repertory?
Pas De Deux is my favorite!!! AHHHHH I LOVE IT! It's so much fun! We do like pirouettes with our partner and finger fouettes but we're also doing adagio which is my favorite! I'm definitely going to start recruiting guys for CCDC!

Howz the city? Howz the weather? What're you doing in your spare time?
SLEEPING AND EATING! Our whole day is filled with dance!

How many times do people ask if you live on a farm or how much they like potatoes?
Yes, I get that a lot!

I miss you guys!

06.18.2008: Brush With Fame

So, are you watching this year's SYTYCD IV? Well, one of the Capital City Dance Center Summer Intensive Guest Faculty actually taught one of this year's top twenty. Andrew Parker says he taught Chris Jarosz this past year at Southern Methodist University. Chris's the one that Nigel Lythgoe criticized as having "the personality of a tree"! (And, trees everywhere were instantly offended!o) I think that may be a little harsh, but, if you haven't picked anyone to vote for yet, there's your connection!

06.17.2008: Tell Us EVERYTHING!

Okay, I lost 2K2M's e-mail address in cyber-limbo before I could write back 2 her, but, here's a list of specific and generic questions to help y'all write back to us still fighting the flooding in the water-logged capital city:

  1. What level ballet did you get in? Out of how many? How many kids in your class? Where are you? WHO are you again?

  2. How much are you dancing? What different kinds of classes?

  3. What's the most interesting different dance forms or classes you're taking?

  4. Any specific differences they're asking for in ballet or pointe technique?

  5. Who're your main teachers? Where did they train or perform? Who's your favorite and why? (We r NOT insulted;o)

  6. What kind of corrections or compliments have you been getting?

  7. Any interesting characters in class? (Besides yourself, I mean!o)

  8. What's the hardest thing to get used to?

  9. Are you rehearsing for performance?

  10. Where's your roomie from?

  11. What's the best dance move you've seen so far?

  12. What are you doing in partnering or repertory?

  13. Any guys? Any good? Any cuties, 2K2M???

  14. Howz the city? Howz the weather? What're you doing in your spare time?

  15. How many times do people ask if you live on a farm or how much they like potatoes?
...OK! Got 2K2M's address from her maternal unit! She'll get this list in the next email call. TwoKTwoM, just answer one or two everyday! And, when you run out of all 15, I'll think of more! Miss ya!o(

06.17.2008: The Reviews Are In!

Before we bid final bye-byes to La Bayadere...And More!, here's an e-mailed retrospective to Capital City Dance Center's Artistic Director:
"...I really liked the recital! All the soloists and demi-soloists looked good and well-prepared, and were well-cast.

Manou and the 2 girls were just charming. Nataliya had a hard part and really pulled it off. La Lissa was lovely. Ekaterina 'da Ballerina was strong and consistent and unflappable. The pas de quatres were all together and really beautiful to watch.

Emerico was right when he told me SarAurorah and Margot were completely different dancers and would do Nikiya differently. I am starting to appreciate the subtle nuances each dancer brings to a role. I thought La Sonambula was mesmerizing and conveyed the emotion well, and she and SFBoy really seemed to have a palpable chemistry on stage since they are good friends...Margaruite was so precise and technically strong, and conveyed a quiet sweetness in her role. GitUrFaShawn was stronger in his jumps and turns and more relaxed in his acting--I think he looks outstanding! You are going to have a great crop of seniors and more photos for your lobby wall next year!

I really liked your tap choreography. It was interesting and enjoyable at all stages and ages. The Hammer does nice modern choreography, I would love to see her explore more different types of music. And the All That Jazz number was really fun to watch.

I'm sure I'm forgetting some things and hope I haven't left anyone out. I really appreciate you and Emerico...It's an incredible amount of work for both of you. I hope you get a little R&R this summer..."

06.17.2008: Performance Tip

Honky Tonk Laundry the new country hit musical by Roger Bean, will be performed at Drake University June 20-21.

Both performances will start at 7:30 p.m. in the Hall of Performing Arts, Harmon Fine Arts Center. Tickets are available at the Box Office.

Honky Tonk Laundry features Alexis Van Vleet and Gina Gedler as Katie and Lana Mae, who are up to their elbows in soapsuds and cheatin' boyfriends at the Wishy Washy Washateria. When these two country angels join forces, they turn their good ol' laundromat into a boot-scootin'-boogie honky-tonk, guaranteeing every customer a good, clean time.

Honky Tonk Laundry features music of The Dixie Chicks, Terri Clark, Patsy Cline, Amy Dailey, Rebecca Lynn Howard, Loretta Lynn, Martina McBride, Reba McEntire, Dolly Parton, LeAnn Rimes, Pam Tillis and Tammy Wynette.

The show was a huge hit at Indian Hills Community College, said Jennifer Boyenga, theatre director at the college. "The performers were outstanding and our audience loved them," she added. "We had tons of positive comments from our regular patrons. A hilarious production -- we'd recommend them!"

06.16.2008: Come Heck or High H2O

This just in:
The State Department of Cultural Affairs urging residents to report recent flood, storm and tornado damage of cultural, historical and art properties and assets to a special email account and through a series of upcoming conference calls.

DCA is requesting reports about cultural, historical and art properties and assets that include – but are not limited to – art galleries, art museums, performance art centers, artist’s studios, historic buildings, cemeteries, archaeological sites, artifacts, museum collections and archives.

“We are receiving scattered reports already, but we are urging residents to contact us through the special email account and on the conference calls so we can develop a comprehensive report of the damage our cultural, historical and art properties and assets have suffered,” said Cyndi Pederson, director of the Department of Cultural Affairs. “This information will be critical in determining the financial assistance residents will need to recover and rebuild.”

Residents can report damage to a special email account. In the subject line, please identify the community and the cultural resource impacted by the flooding. Replies will not be issued from this email account.

Residents can also report damage during a series of conference calls at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, June 19; 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 24; and 1:30 p.m. Thursday, June 26. Iowans should call toll-free at 866-685-1580; the conference code is 5152816320#.

Residents can also visit here for technical assistance, disaster response and financial resource information. The information is directed primarily to cultural, historical and art organizations and historic property owners, but can also be applied to most dwellings and collections. Examples of information include:

  • treating flood-damaged homes and properties

  • working with contractors and architects

  • salvaging water-damaged collections

  • links to nearly two dozen organizations that offer a wide variety of technical assistance
The Web site also offers directions for applying for emergency Historic Resource Development Program grants.

“Water and loss of humidity and temperature control can cause enormous damage to historical documents, artifacts, historic buildings, archaeological sites, cemeteries, government records and art collections,” Pederson said. “A single flood can erase substantial portions of a community’s unique recorded history, and water distorts paper and causes ink and other media to run or even disappear. Wet records, artifacts and art pieces can grow mold within 48 hours, so even a small water disaster requires a prompt response.”

06.16.2008: Voices Of Angels

Not only is the price right, but, here's an opportunity to hear what all the fuss is about:
"Hi All,

I know among our choristers there's always the desire to move up to the next choir. That would make Youth Chorale the ultimate goal. In Youth Chorale the ultimate goal is summer tour for which they depart next Monday the 23rd. Before they go they will grace the metro with one last concert this season, their free Farewell concert Sunday at 3 PM at the Temple for the Performing Arts in the Grand Hall. The Farewell concert is the culmination of the entire season's efforts by our most advanced choristers. We invite you to come and appreciate their efforts. There will be no admission cost (a free will offering will be taken), just great music performed by our top choir. I hope I see you there."

06.15.2008: 2K2M, Gone, But, Not 4Gotten!

The first 2 go is the first 2 write 2 us! CCDC's 2K2M "abandoned us" on Friday promising to write "everyday". Yeah, yeah, I thought 2 myself, as I "valiantly fought back tears":o( That's what everyone says! But, true 2 her word! 2K2M, as usual, sets a high standard 4 herself and 4 others. This is her first (Hopefully, of many!o) entry:
"Hey Guys! I had such a great start to Joffrey Midwest! We had placement class today and it was so much fun! The instructor was this Russian lady from New York with a really thick accent. I got placed in level B! My roommate is really cool too, she is super funny. I know that this is gonna be a really amazing experience and I'm gonna keep you guys updated on the latest from Flint! I miss you guys!



06.13.2008: Come Heck or High Water!

A few thoughts after putting the wraps on the first week of the CCDC Summer Intensive: if dancing 9-to-5, five days a week aren't enough for ya'! Or, if you have to work during the day, optional Sunday class resumes this weekend! Otherwise rest up! Back at it again on Monday! And, evening classes resume next week as well!

06.10.2008: Back From The Kingdom of the Shades!

Sorry for taking so long to get back to posting. Insert usual excuses here about moving into and out of theater for run of "La Bayadere...And More!" this weekend and, then, we went right into kicking off the 2008 Capital City Dance Center Sizzlin' Summer o' Dance! this week! But, before we put the 2007-2008 school year into the rear-view mirror, here's a little something I overheard on the headset while running the sound board at the theater (And, huge kudos to Marisol's rich Dad for providing the superior sound equipment we used this year! Humongous improvement over the Pratt-fall we suffered last year!):
"So, Nicole (light board operator), how does this dance school compare to the last one that was in here?"
"Well, these guys (CCDC!) are SO much better!"
"I meant how does the talent and training and quality compare?"
"That's what I meant! At least I don't get bored while watching these (CCDC!) dancers! ...I mean you can only watch so many animals go on board an ark before you start dozing off!"

06.10.2008: Giselle Unveiled

Got this a while back from the Capital City Dance Center graduate known only as Giselle:
"About three weeks before school ended, I performed in the University's Undergraduate Concert. Back in February, a girl who I always stood next to at barre asked me to be in a piece for her. She was taking Choreography II, and needed dancers for her final project. So we began working, having rehearsals about once a week, preparing to show the work in front of her class. As things progressed, she decided she wanted to audition her piece for this concert. There were two days of auditions, with over 22 pieces trying out in front of the professors. The professors gave critiques to choreographers and dancers, and then decided on nine pieces that would be performing for the concert. Honestly, we were all kind of shocked when we made it! Not only was this the choreographer's very first piece, three out of the four dancers were freshmen. All of us were unknowns in the dance department, and the professors commented on how it was nice to see new faces on stage. There were only two ballet pieces out of 22 in all that auditioned. We were the only ballet piece in the entire show.

We started rehearsing a lot more when we found out that we had made it. Realizing that we would be performing on a stage in front of people was a reality shock to everyone, especially because that was not what we intended to do when beginning work on the piece. When it came time for show week everyone was extremely nervous, mostly because we were the only ballet dancers in a cast of all modern dancers, and we were unknown freshmen. The four dancers in my piece sort of stuck together, making sure we had proper warm ups before performances even though we felt out of place doing barre in front of the modern dancers.

The piece itself was definitely not classical according to what I was used to, but very classical for the University Dance Department. We wore flat shoes and tan tights, with navy blue costumes (dresses). I loved it because it was very low-pressure compared to what I was used to dancing, and I remembered what a thrill it is to perform on stage! Overall, we got good feedback after our three performances; we received many compliments on the choreography and the dancing. The show itself was very cool because it was entirely run by students. Music, choreography, dancing, costumes, lighting, tech stuff, etc was all done by students in the dance department; the professors had very little involvement in the show itself. It was an awesome experience to be able to perform at the University; it was definitely something new! Hopefully, there will be more to come :)..."

06.03.2008: Tres Dotage!

And, a report from the rehearsal trail, an impressive start to the full run-throughs of La Bayadere last night. And, here's a call for more "elbow grease" and sweat equity! More volunteer help for set-up, production and break-down always appreciated! Just contact the office!...Okay, I've been complaining lately about not getting to know the dancer/contestants on Bravo's Step It Up And Dance series. Here's an interview with the guy I call the Tall Canadian at the PaperMag Website. That's the sort of stuff that should've been done leading up to the show...And, here's a link to the Movmnt Webzine where SYTYCD III Runner-up Danny T serves as artistic advisor. There's a video report there from another SYTYCD alum getting and giving reviews on the start of the latest season...And, I hope the SYTYCD producers read this or hear about this, I'm starting to fast-forward through the bad, indifferent and delusional dancers in the audition process. Let's see more good dancers and fewer for comic relief, please! (And, less predictable, plz! One good one followed by two or three head-slappers not a good ratio! 'Nuff "I dance from the heart!/"Well, how about dancing on stage!" or "Yes, I teach dance!"/"Well, you're robbing them blind!" back-and-forths already!)...Also, a heads up: Wednesday at 8pm locally on PBS Great Performances, a site-specific dance-oriented program from America's National Parks. Set those DVR's now!...

06.02.2008: Unsolicited Testimonial From Another Satisfied Customer!

From another mother:
"...We're so thankful for being part of CCDC this year. It's been a wonderful experience for (my daughter), and by comparison to the studio we attended last year, (she) has learned so much more about the art, culture and technique of ballet. We're thrilled, and I wanted you to know that I tell anyone who is looking for a quality dance studio and ballet experience for their child, I always tell them about CCDC. Thanks for all of your efforts! We look forward to continuing our dance experiences with you for years to come!"

05.30.2008: Tutu Much!

Lotta excitement the other day as the Capital City Dance Center corps de ballet tried on the new tutu that finally arrived from a former Soviet state! ...especially from the girls who've never worn a professional-caliber classical ballet costume before! (And, even some of the ones who've worn them for awhile now.) Almost every young girl dreams of wearing and performing in a classical tutu and participating in the annual CCDC youth ballet production offers them a chance to turn that dream into a reality. Here's how one of the conversations went:
"Wow! You look great in that!"
"Thanks! I think I'm gonna get married in it!"
"Or, maybe, wear it to my prom!"
"But, what about your date?"
"Whoever it is...he doesn't know it yet, but, he BETTER look good in white tights!"
...And, a lot of CCDC graduating seniors borrow one of our classical tutu for their senior pix.

05.29.2008: 2, 4, 6, 8! How To Make Your Prices Inflate!

Here's an e-mailed money-making offer we're going to let some other studio pick-up on. An unsolicited invite to become an officially licensed NFL Cheerleader training site. But, it's a little on the pricey side we think:
"...Sign up to get the exclusive rights in your area. Pay the $1600 studio fee to advertise as the official Training site in your geographic area and coordinate the program at your studio. Recruit at least 10 students to pay the $300 Membership Fee (Idea: you can require being a part of your summer program or enrollment in a specific class in order to participate in JR Cheer Clinics) ..."
...Besides, as everyone knows, trained dancers make the best cheerleaders, but, training as a cheerleader won't make you a good dancer.

05.28.2008: Media Musings

Fortunately for us, we managed to record the finals for Dancing With The Stars when it repeated just before the results show last week! (God bless the man who invented DVRs! And, a pox on the satellite dish installer who said, "Oh, those trees won't be a problem!") And, even more fortunately, the very same week the sixth mirror-ball trophy was awarded, the fourth season of So You Think You Can Dance premiered! More on that later, but, I had tried to avoid any media that would spoil the DWTS results show for us. But, I'd thought I'd gotten a hint when a promo spot for a TV station came on that said Jason Taylor would be coming to the area for a charity event. I wasn't sure, but, before I could rapidly surfed away I thought I heard something like "Jason Taylor! Dancing With The Stars Final's Ch..." So, I was pleasantly surprised to watch the Ice Princess crowned this year's Queen of the Ballroom! I don't understand anyone who complains that Kristi Yamaguchi had an unfair advantage. Every one of the "stars" brings what made them a star in the first place to the competition! George Hamilton used his devil-may-care debonair air to pry votes away from the real competitors. Jerry Springer was pleading with his apparently huge fan base to be voted off before he was finally given the axe. I say...shut up and dance! Settle it on the dance floor! May the best dancer win! And, I'm also glad to say, Kristi deserved this one from day one!...The better news for dance-watchers is the return of SYTYCD. The two-hour premiere featured some excellent dancing...and also the delusional and bizarre...and, occasionally, inspiring. Judge Miya Michaels was reduced to a sobbing wreck when a visually-impaired dancer performed an emotionally staggering piece. She didn't advance, but, her mere presence itself was a triumph, and, hopefully, an inspiration to all of us who are all handicapped in some way. But, the less said the better about the Gold Avenger(?) and the alleged dancer and his mom who manage to single-handedly give "six" itself a bad name. And, that brings us to the colossal Freudian slip that Michaels made when she was trying to dis that cocky Italian street dancer. ("You want to follow me home? C'mon! Follow me home!") Hmm, watch for that Golden Girl Soccer Player and the Japanese-American Ballroom Dancers to advance to the live performances. And, how about the final performer! Mr. Incredible lived up to his street cred! Miya said it all when she blurted, "I keep expecting you to zip off your skin and for an alien to crawl out!" Gotta put that quote on the old dance resume'!...Also, got caught up on the Bravo TV product, Step It Up And Dance! It featured for the last installment, the return of all the previously ousted professional dancers. And, for a brief half-second, I thought my favorite, Tovah, was going to be allowed back into the competition. But, no! The former Cats dancer, Oscar is back in the field. I'll say again, the producers of this show really missed a beat by not creating more sympathy with the contestants early on. They just appeared on the show like they sprung fully formed from the forehead of Zeus! The 18-year old Hip-Hopper really seemed to show her immaturity in the music-video competition. She just kept fiddling with her hair and rejecting any choreography suggestions. I've been in rehearsals like that and I hated them then...and I hate watching them now! And, listening to the Mexican Diva Queen-a disrespect all the other dancers is like listening to nails squeaking on a chalkboard! Yuk! On the other hand, the Tall Canadian and the Short Filipina are earning my respect as professionals I would probably enjoy working or performing with. Hard-working, open, respectful, talented...what's not to like? Okay! What do you think?

05.27.2008: Bayadere 4 Dummies!

Synopsis of the adaptation to be presented by Capital City Dance Center Ballet Students in a few weeks:
La Bayadere is a classic ballet about love and hate, about treachery and jealous betrayal, about the lust for power and of blinding ambition. But, overall it is a cautionary tale about the power of forgiveness and selfless devotion. The ballet was well known in Soviet Russia, but, was only relatively recently introduced to the west after a wave of defections pierced the old Iron Curtain. The serene Kingdom of the Shades scene is perhaps the most famous of the ballet.

First, what is a bayadere? That's the term for a "temple dancer" in the ancient India of legend. And, our story today is about one of the most beautiful and talented of all the bayaderes, Nikiya. She is in love with the mightiest Warrior Prince of the highest caste, his name is Solor. Before our ballet today begins, they've met in secret and vowed eternal love. But, they were overheard by the High Priestess of the temple (Editor's Note: Normally, the High Brahmin is played by a man who loves Nikiya himself). She's enraged because her plan was to marry her daughter, Gamzatti, to Solor, thereby cementing her power by raising the caste and status of her entire clan. The Priestess quickly arranges to have the Rajah command Solor to take Gamzatti as his wife and she vows to kill the impudent bayadere who was once her protégé.

Act One:

As our ballet opens, the Grand Procession brings a myriad of castes to the garden courtyard of the palace to celebrate the official announcement of the betrothal of Solor and Gamzatti. Fan dancers, Parrot dancers, a group of talented townsfolk and miniature Golden Idols all perform with youthful enthusiasm. Just then, Manou, a purveyor of sweet spring water is pursued by two thirsty street urchins. More Indians and more townsfolk join in the revelry, but, the dancers all part with the entrance of Gamzatti and Solor. The Warrior-Prince cannot refuse his Rajah's command and Gamzatti's intoxicating beauty (coupled with a potent love potion (#9) administered by the High Priestess) have caused him to forget his vow to Nikiya. After their classic pas de deux, a bevy of the youngest bayaderes entertain the throng. But, soon, Solor returns with a mighty display of his power and prowess. And, Gamzatti follows with a breathtaking variation of her own before everyone joins in the merrymaking.

But, in the middle of all the merriment, a melancholy note when Nikiya is summoned to perform at the engagement ceremony. Even as her heart is breaking, she dances a haunting expression of her pathos and angst. And, even though he is still under the power of the potent love potion (#9), Solor is troubled. But, Gamzatti does her best to distract him. Just then, Nikiya is presented with a basket of rare lovely flowers that she's told was sent by Solor. Her mood brightens instantly. She dances a much happier dance and ends by offering the loveliest bloom to the Warrior Prince. But, Nikiya has been betrayed! The basket of flowers was not sent by Solor, but, by the High Priestess and it contains a sinister and lethal surprise: The deadliest, most poisonous snake in the entire Indian subcontinent!

Nikiya screams a silent scream as the viperous cobra injects its deadly venom into her throat! A Snake Charmer races into the courtyard and grabs the wriggling serpent. Nikiya stumbles and pleads with the shocked bystanders for help, the venom racing through her veins like acid! She ends up face-to-face with Gamzatti and accuses her of planting the snake. Gamzatti protests her innocence and pleads with Solor to believe her. The still-drugged Warrior Prince has no choice, even though the potion is beginning to wear off. The High Priestess orders the crowd to face away and she offers an antidote to Nikiya. La Bayadere grabs for the vial, but, the High Priestess warns her she must stop loving Solor to save her life. Nikiya seizes the vial with desperation, anything to stop the scorching venom in her veins! But, when she sees Solor begin to leave with Gamzatti, she drops the antidote to the ground. For Nikiya, life without love is worse than death. And, so, she chooses to end the pain rather than live a lifetime of suffering, despite the pleading of the High Priestess. And, the love potion begins to wear off as Solor begins to realize that Gamzatti might not have planted the serpent, but, that her own mother had. The prince rushes to Nikiya, is too late. The curtain falls on a terrible tableau.

Act Two:

Prince Solor is crushed at the death of his one true beloved. He blames himself and cannot be consoled. But, as he mourns, the mesmerizing magic of the mysterious Snake Charmer and her little Snake Dancers offers an eerie pathway to a reunion with Nikiya. The Warrior-Prince is hypnotized and wakens in the Kingdom of the Shades, the land between light and darkness, where the recently dead dwell. This is the most famous scene of the entire ballet. Normally it's done on a series of ramps and is itself a hypnotizing and mesmerizing repetition that is one of the truest measures of a corps de ballet. It is in the Shade Kingdom that Solor and his love are reunited. The Temple Dancer and the Warrior Prince perform not just one, but, two classic pas de deux. And, they are joined by the Shades, individually and in groups. But, this act ends with Nikiya disappearing into a dream as Solor desperately chases her.


In the rest of the ballet, not performed tonight, visions of Nikiya continue to haunt Solor as he wakens and prepares for his wedding to Gamzatti. But, as they exchange their vows, the wrath of the gods is unleashed. The temple and all its inhabitants are destroyed. At the end, the ghost of Solor and Nikiya are reunited in eternal love. And, hopefully, you will perform and/or watch a full length professional performance of La Bayadere eventually and recall this Capital City Dance Center version with favor and fondness. Enjoy the show!

05.23.2008: A Little Bit of Knowledge...

Editor's Note: Why not dance instead?

(Courtesy Newswise) — Knee injuries, among the most economically costly sports injuries, are the leading cause of high school sports-related surgeries according to a study published in The American Journal of Sports Medicine.

The researchers utilized data from collected injury reports for nine high school sports from certified athletic trainers at 100 U.S. high schools selected to achieve a nationally representative sample. Data are collected for boys’ football, soccer, basketball, baseball and wrestling and girls’ soccer, volleyball, basketball and softball.

The knee was the second most frequently injured body site overall, with boys’ football and wrestling and girls’ soccer and basketball recording the highest rates of knee injury. The most common knee injuries were incomplete ligament tears, contusions, complete ligament tears, torn cartilage, fractures/dislocations and muscle tears.

“Knee injuries in high school athletes are a significant area for concern,” said Dawn Comstock, PhD, one of the study authors. “Knee injuries accounted for nearly 45 percent of all sports injury-related surgeries in our study. Knee surgeries are often costly procedures that can require extensive and expensive post-surgery rehabilitation and can increase risk for early onset osteoarthritis. Without effective interventions, the burden of knee surgeries and rehabilitation will continue to escalate as the number of high school athletes continues to grow.”

Researchers also found several interesting gender patterns. For example, while boys had a higher overall rate of knee injury, girls’ knee injuries were more severe. Girls were more likely to miss > 3 weeks of sports activity (as opposed to <1 week for boys) and were twice as likely to require surgery. Girls were also found to be twice as likely to incur major knee injuries as a result of non-contact mechanisms, often involving landing, jumping or pivoting.

Editor's Note: ...And, don't hate on me just cause I'm beautiful!

(Courtesy Newswise) — University of Alberta student Lindsey Leenaars has completed a study that assessed what types of high school students are being indirectly victimized. This includes being involved in emotionally damaging scenarios such as receiving hurtful anonymous notes, being socially excluded, or having rumours spread about them, including threats of physical harm.

Leenaars analyzed data that was collected in Ontario in 2003. More than 2,300 students aged 12–18 filled out an anonymous questionnaire asking them questions, including how they rate their attractiveness, their friendships and school social problems.

Leenaars found the females who viewed themselves as attractive had a 35 per cent increased chance of being indirectly victimized. Conversely, for males who perceived themselves as good looking, their risk of being bullied decreased by 25 per cent. Leenaars says this information could be used to raise awareness amongst parents, teachers and counselors. She adds it would also be helpful when schools are working on a variety of anti-bullying programs to include all students, not just those who may be traditionally perceived as victims.

“The findings have important implications for the development of interventions designed to reduce peer victimization, in that victims of indirect aggression may represent a broad group.”

05.20.2008: Arts Workshop

Where to learn the business of art:
The State Arts Council is sponsoring a one-day workshop next month for studio artists seeking public art governmental commissions and artists who have had their work displayed in outdoor sculpture exhibitions and temporary art installations.

David B. Dahlquist will present From Pots to Public Art: A Primer Friday, June 27, 2008 at the State Historical Building. Dahlquist will discuss the evolution of his work from vessel-maker to the design and fabrication of large-scale public art installations and commissions. His work uses many different sculptural materials including: laser and plasma-cut patterned steel, concrete, GFRC (glass fiber reinforced concrete), glass, stone, lighting, epoxy terrazzo and terra cotta.

The workshop will also survey a comprehensive range of issues in public art, from concept development to fabrication and installation, and focus on how an artist prepares for entering the realm of public art. Does an artist’s studio artwork and museum and gallery installations enable him or her to succeed in public art? What are the steps that an artist takes to find commission opportunities and how are artists selected?

The format will include questions and answers through a round-table discussion, moving from general background considerations into special topics and concerns such as contracts, legal, copyright and insurance.

Participants will be encouraged to share problems and specific issues they may have encountered in their own projects. Through this dialogue, workshop participants will highlight the topics most relevant to their own artwork and career. This workshop will be used as a framework for the development of an expanded course curriculum and seminar series.

05.19.2008: No Life...And, Now, No TV!

It's the last week of Dancing With The Stars VI this week! And, just a comment on the semi-finals. I think the best three are left for tonight's finale'. I could quibble with Mari-Oh! for Cristian, but, the sympathy vote and the fact the Latin Heartthrob has stepped it up since his Samba injury qualified him for the finals. (Hats off to the Broadway Baby for stepping up her efforts and out-lasting expectations.) And, I think the Ice Princess and the NFL All Star will be the last two left dancing. And, Kristi could and should become the first woman to hoist the mirror-ball since Kelly Monaco in Season One (But, remember Monaco was also beaten in the rematch if I remember correctly!) But, what I enjoyed the most as I caught up on the action this weekend were two other dances during the results show: the anniversary tribute to the release of Thriller...and the two under-thirteens in the Junior DWTS Competition! I rewound and watched Brandon and Brittany in their Paso Doble to Phantom of the Opera several times! My jaw dropped each time as I watched their sophisticated and mature attack and presentation. Their phrasing and line were impeccable. They've been taught and coached to dance way beyond their years. As one judge said, the other kid couples were cute, but, B+B were the real deal! I'm going to have to raise the barre for what I can expect out of CCDC under-13 dancers!...And, Omarion and his dancers updated the Thriller choreography with Matrix-reminiscent costumes and 21st century panache. I had to stop and rewatch a forward knee-slide several times to figure out what had just taken place. Macy's--- and the audience!---got its money's worth with that one!...And, is anyone going to be taping the finale' and, possibly, the results? We're not scheduled to get our satellite fixed until Tuesday morning. Get some help here?...And, I see where the premiere of So You Think You Can Dance! is coming next week!

05.19.2008: Daniil, My Brother...

A few months ago, former CCDC Dancer Prince Dimitriy clued me in to the the new Baryshnikov for the 21st Century, Daniil Simkin. Now comes word the young wunderkind will be moving to America, specifically to American Ballet Theater. Ketchup on the latest news and video clips from the "hot-dog" at his website. And, since we're passing on websites URLz, here's one featuring one of the professionals from DWTS. Poor Edyta Sliwinska! She's apparently not doing well! Can barely afford any clothes to cover her body at all! And, now, if she could only work on that stifling shy self-consciousness!o)

05.16.2008: Return of Web Lynx

Here's a hint of dance happenings within driving distance:
"...Whether you are a longtime follower of the Joffrey Ballet or a complete neophyte testing the waters, the company's spring program...should prove irresistible on every front...."
Read the rest from the Chicago Sun-Times.
...But, to catch this run would require a trip "across the pond":
"...She is actually quite a charmer, 60 per cent vivid artist, 40 per cent over-eager circus pony. It's true she probably spells the end of the Kirov as we know it if everyone wants to dance like her - her freakishly split jumps are weirdly scooped upwards like a smiley face, and she won't do a six-o'clock line if she can make five-past-six...."
From Russia via the UK with love from The Telegraph.
...And, at least one CCDC dancer is heading here:
"...An astonishing thing happens every year during the class demonstrations that begin the San Francisco Ballet School Student Showcase. As the tentative tendus of tottering 8-year-olds cede the stage to testing passés from the bigger girls and double pirouettes from teenagers en pointe, children who resemble foals taking their first steps seem to transform into uncommonly gracious grown creatures...."
My favorite paper in one of my favorite cities is the San Francisco Chronicle.
Trying to make that transition from student to professional:
"I'll probably have to be a waitress or something for a little bit. If it doesn't work, I'll probably move somewhere else where I think I can dance, because that's what I want to do."
How to go from Big-Fish-Little-Pond to Tadpole-in-the-Big-City from The Daily Iowan.
Here's an old link about the SYTYCD tour:
"...It was an astonishing sight Friday: Oakland's Oracle Arena packed with screaming fans who had shelled out handsomely to see not the latest Disney tween machine or some overproduced pop starlet, but dance. Just dance. ..."

A review and analysis from The SF Chronicle

05.16.2008: Bitter Dregz of Rejection!

It's been about a weak now since MMMaddz took off on a Skyllz family vacation to Europe. (Now, she can never truly sing that old song that starts "Well, I've never been to Spain...") And, much as I expected, apparently "outta sight, outta mind". No calls, no e-mails, no postcards from the edge. To be fair, she warned she might not have time nor net access to send an e-message in an e-bottle. And, her cell plan doesn't extend to Madrid nor Barcelona, apparently. But, let that be a lesson to all you CCDC students planning your summer get-aways, including Summer Ballet Intensives. eMail us constantly or send numerous letters and/or postcards and we promise we won't act all hurt and/or disappointed and snub you when you get back, Perfect Stranger! MMMadd Skyllz also promised to stretch and crunch everyday to try and stay dancer strong while she was making like la tourista con su familia en Espana! ...Yeah, yeah! No letters, no phone calls, no postcards from a hedge...and you'll be doing eight count develloppe's, 16-count grand plie's and 32 grand battements en croix your first class back, too!

05.16.2008: Capital City Hx Capsules

(Courtesy Newswise) — Mothers, here’s another reason to encourage your daughters to be physically active: Girls and young women who exercise regularly between the ages of 12 and 35 have a substantially lower risk of breast cancer before menopause compared to those who are less active, new research shows.

In the largest and most detailed analysis to date of the effects of exercise on premenopausal breast cancer, the study of nearly 65,000 women found that those who were physically active had a 23 percent lower risk of breast cancer before menopause. In particular, high levels of physical activity from ages 12 to 22 contributed most strongly to the lower breast cancer risk.

“We don’t have a lot of prevention strategies for premenopausal breast cancer, but our findings clearly show that physical activity during adolescence and young adulthood can pay off in the long run by reducing a woman’s risk of early breast cancer,” says lead investigator Graham Colditz, M.D. “This is just one more reason to encourage girls and young women to exercise regularly.”

The researchers found the age-adjusted incidence rates for invasive breast cancer dropped from 194 cases per 100,000 person-years in the least active women to 136 cases in the most active. The levels of physical activity reported by the most active women were the equivalent of running 3.25 hours a week or walking 13 hours a week. The benefit of exercise was not linked to a particular sport or intensity but related to total activity.

“You don’t have to be a marathon runner to get the risk-reducing benefits of exercise,” Dr. Colditz added.

(Courtesy Newswise) — Millions of Americans will go barefoot this summer, and thousands will suffer injuries such as cuts and puncture wounds. Some will develop nasty infections that may require surgery.

The best way to protect feet and toes from injury is to wear shoes. But if your summer just wouldn't be the same without the sand between your toes or walking in your backyard barefoot, doctors say you can make it a safer season by following these tips:

Tip: See a foot and ankle surgeon within 24 hours for a puncture wound.
Why: These injuries can embed unsterile foreign objects deep inside the foot. A puncture wound must be cleaned properly and monitored throughout the healing process. This will help to avoid complications, such as tissue and bone infections or damage to tendons and muscles in the foot. Foot and ankle surgeons are trained to properly care for these injuries.

Tip: Make sure you've been vaccinated against tetanus. Experts recommend teens and adults get a booster shot every 10 years.
Why: Cuts and puncture wounds from sharp objects can lead to infections and illnesses such as tetanus.

Tip: Apply sunscreen to the tops and bottoms of your feet.
Why: Feet get sunburn too. According to, rare but deadly skin cancers can develop on the feet.

Tip: Inspect your feet and your children's feet on a routine basis for skin problems such as warts, calluses, ingrown toenails and suspicious moles, spots or freckles.
Why: The earlier a skin condition is detected, the easier it is for your foot and ankle surgeon to treat it.

Tip: Wear flip-flops or sandals around swimming pools, locker rooms and beaches.
Why: To avoid cuts and abrasions from rough anti-slip surfaces and sharp objects hidden beneath sandy beaches, and to prevent contact with bacteria and viruses that can cause athlete's foot, plantar warts, and other problems.

Tip: Use common sense.
Why: Every year, people lose toes while mowing the lawn barefoot. Others suffer serious burns from accidentally stepping on stray campfire coals or fireworks. Murky rivers, lakes and ponds can conceal sharp objects underwater. People with diabetes should never go barefoot, even indoors, because their nervous system may not "feel" an injury and their circulatory system will struggle to heal breaks in the skin.

05.15.2008: Capital City Arts Newz

This just in:
Des Moines, IA - Today, Governor Chet Culver announced a $1 million grant to support the new John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Garden in the Capital City. The garden, appraised at nearly $30 million, will hold over 20 sculptures donated by John and Mary Pappajohn. The Pappajohn’s gift is believed to be the single largest public donation of art in state history.

The Pappajohn family is known worldwide for their passion of collecting art. ARTnews magazine recognized them in its top list of 200 art collectors around the world. They serve or have served on boards or committees for more than half a dozen of the most prestigious museums and cultural organizations in the country.

“I’m excited (the state) is joining forces with John and Mary Pappajohn to beautify the downtown area,” said Governor Culver. “This public/private partnership demonstrates what can happen when we lock arms and work for the common good. Thanks to the generosity of the Pappajohn’s, these world-renowned sculptures in the heart of our Capital City will continue the transformation into a center for the arts and culture.”

City Manager Rick Clark said, "The John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Garden is a terrific public-private partnership leveraging over $30 million in local investment. The park will be a world-class installation of public art that will add to the Capital City's growing reputation as a great place to live, work and raise a family.”

05.14.2008: Free Stuff!

*Free Ballet Class Music*! That caught my attention pretty quickly as I was browsing through iTunes the other day. You never know what you might run across in the iTunes Universe and did I mention "FREE"? I'm all over the free stuff (Like the proverbial FBheartsC!): the podcasts, the University lectures, los canciones de semana gratis! Only recently have I become a little more discriminating about all the free stuff I download because despite the 16 gigs of purported memory in my iTouch, I've had to start deleting some old stuff to make room for the new. (Just goes to show you the truth of that old digital rule of thumb, buy as much memory as you can upfront and be prepared to add more on the back-end!) So, I'd ended up at the Duke University page when I noticed a tab that said "Class Music". When I surfed to it, on one side were songs labeled plie, tendu, degage's, etc and, on the other side, the download buttons all said "free"! Have I mentioned waving the "free" flag in front of me is like Paris Hilton posing in front of papparazzi? We both double-click like crazy! Oh, and it also said "percussive". But, I blithely ignored that and started downloading en masse. I did listen a little bit and it was a lotta drumming, but, I thought "Dang! The price is right!" Well, "download in haste, repent at leisure" appears to be the credo of the new 21st Century digital age! (I'm gonna have to have that tattoed to my mouse hand!) The drumming just does not work with ballet technique. It sounded like some of the few Afro-Carribean classes I've taken. Or, I think it might be good for a modern class. But, the only time I plan on using that newly burnt CD or iPod playlist in ballet class is possibly the day after March 31st! What the heck are they doing over there in the Duke Blue Devil Dance Department? Seems like it must be a Modern Dance emphasis at that University! Well, at least I know what I can delete to make room for more new free stuff! (Have I mentioned about me and "free"?)

05.13.2008: What's In A Name?

You can skip this, it has nothing to do about dance: (But, don't blame me if PETA starts picketing you!o) So, we like our new cat dancer, Isabella Smokihana de la Purrzha or Izzy, so much, we're in the market to be adopted by another. Once again, my first suggestions for names have been rejected with an Elvis-like sneer. (What's wrong with naming a new kitten Kaboodle? Or, a new pet Peeve? Wordplay to me is like swordplay to an epee'!) So, I went to the Ulukau Hawai'ian Language Website that translates English to the language of the Monarchy of the Kingdom of the Sandwich Isles. So, what about: Nani Koki Popoki ‘Olopa or Pooky or Pokey for short? Stands for "Supremely Beautiful Cat Dancer". It has a rhythm, it has a rhyme. Makes descriptive sense and has meaning. Any yes votes there, Presley?

05.12.2008: Media Miasma

This is what happens if I don't update the masses on Mondaze about ketchup on shows over the weekend. Daze turn into weaks. Weaks turn into months. Pretty soon, years have gone by and nary a mention about the latest from the small screen. Okay, I exaggerate just a little!o)...So, Mari-OH! and the Tall Actress are the latest to bite the dance hall dust! Am I being mean when I say I was dumbfounded when The Woman With 3 Namez was announced as safe? I admit Marissa Jaret Winokur has maximized her ability, but, has the American voting public lost its collective mind? And, to have The Miami Dolphin in the metaphorical red spotlight was just so wrong!...Was anyone else listening to the local sports talk show on Saturday morning? One co-host was complaining about his wife's devotion to DWTS: "I don't ever see her on Monday or Tuesday nights! All I hear is laughing and clapping and screaming from the TV room when that show is on!" He went on to say, "Then, she has the gall to suggest we sign up for ballroom dance classes at the local rec center! Well, I shot that down real fast. I said 'Are you out of your mind??? And, I blame that &$^*# show!" The other host laughed and laughed and kept urging his partner-in-crime to sign-up. "I'd PAY money to see you do that! You show up at the class and it'll be on YouTube in no time! You'd be the laughingstock of the country!" And, he told his own anectdote about how his own brother signed up for disco-dance lessons with his wife-at-the-time and, then, dared to demonstrate what they learned at a family gathering. "We were splitting our guts! It was SO lame! He was pulling all these Travolta moves! I almost lost a lung laughing!"...This is the mindset we're up against, folks! I laughed along, but, it was sad ironic laughter (Not actually! These guys are funny!) But, this is why it's so difficult to get guys to dance. And, why it's so hard to get boys into dance class. If there are any parents out there who have sons who might be interested in performing, we will work something out here at CCDC. Pass the word!...I also watched the Fighting Over Fokine documentary over the last few days. It was fascinating to me, but, probably not to anyone else. The granddaughter of choreographer Michel Fokine was trying to reset the seminal La Spectre De La Rose, The Dying Swan and Polotsvian Dances. It showed her butting heads with the engrained tradition of the Kirov Ballet and how the choreography had been changed over the years. Fascinating to me, but, probably not to anyone not a bunhead!...Also, began the documentary on Margot Fonteyn. Learned a lot more than I cared to about the Prima Ballerina of the old Sadler's Wells Ballet. Implicated in gun-running? Torrid affairs on the side? Margot, Margot say it ain't so!...Watched the documentary on Baryshnikov. It's really just an excuse to see the young Mischa execute some still mind-boggling tricks. But, as choreographer Mark Morris pointed out, it's the quiet moments that he admires the most about the pre-eminent danseur of the 20th century...Okay! More later. Maybe some comments on the top ten dances of the first five seasons of DWTS and its 100th episode! May it have hundreds more!.

05.12.2008: Doting Daughterz

This isn't exactly how the conversation went before CCDC warm-up this weekend, but, it's close:
"So, did you make your mom breakfast in bed this morning?"
"Of course, it's Mother's Day!"
"You're such a good girl!"
"...and, she loved that pop-tart!"

05.08.2008: National Arts Forum Event!

Put this in your PDA:
"The Capital City is one of 11 cities across the nation (including New York, Los Angeles, Providence, Houston, Chicago, Tampa, Atlanta, Hartford, and Boston) scheduled to host two events between now and the end of the year to bring together nonprofit and private-sector professionals to examine pressing issues facing arts organizations around the country. In particular, the event looks at how both arts and business are addressing the issue of increasing diversity in this country as it relates to workforce development, leadership and management, and product offerings through a new theory being advanced by author and cultural analyst Patricia Martin. Martin's theory says that the RenGen, short for renaissance generation, is a cultural movement created by the confluence of art, education, entertainment, and business that has as its center a powerful new player: the cultural consumer. It defines a growing stratum of Americans who thrive on information and ideas to fuel their creativity and shows how it will drive the next wave of innovation.

The first Capital City event is June 3rd, at 9:00 a.m., at the State Historical Building. Panelists are Barry Griswell, Jeff Chelesvig and Savan Thongvanh. The event is completely free to attend and is sponsored by MetLife."

05.06.2008:Overheard in CCDC Classes

  • "There are three times when a dancer has to be on guard against losing technique: when you go big, when you get complicated and when you go fast."
  • "Now, this combination is big, it's fast *and* it's complicated. That's three strikes against you before you even step up to the plate. Can you dodge those three traps?"
  • "It's okay to lose your placement...*AS LONG AS* you get it back!"
  • "Replace your placement! Replace your placement!! Replace your placement!!! And, oh, have I mentioned recently? Your placement. Replace it, por favor!"
  • "In order to get to strength, you have to experience your weakness."
  • "If you're not constantly trying to get better, you're getting worse. I'm sorry, that's just the way the human body works!"
  • "For a dancer, your waist is a terrible thing to waste."
  • "Dancers go up and, then, go up some more. Ordinary people go up and fall-down! What did you just do?"
  • "These warm-up combinations are also to warm up that gray stuff between your ears!"
  • "Imagine your head's a balloon that lifts you up...and I no longer mean that as a metaphor for some of you anymore!o)"
  • "Your first plie's of the day are too important to go into cold!"
  • "Movement comes from movement. But, you must find the stillness in the middle of all that movement. You must find the growth in the middle of all that stillness."
  • "Strong center! Don't waste your waist! Don't show me your early bad training. You're here now! Show me how we dance here!"
  • "Be the eye of the hurricane. The calm in the middle of all that storm. Find the lines and the length and all the pretty pictures you want to show...and, then, show them and share them with the audience!"
  • "Whose body is it anyway?"

05.07.2008: Free Money!

How to get a chance at what little state money is being dribbled out to the masses:
The Department of Cultural Affairs will present workshops about the State Cultural Trust next month. The workshops will include an overview of the State Cultural Trust; a two-hour interactive session focusing on board development and short and long-term strategic planning, conducted by Michael Audino of Syverson Strege & Company; and a panel discussion about sustainable endowment funds and programs. Arts, cultural and historical organizations must send a leader, staff member or volunteer to a State Cultural Trust workshop to become eligible for the Trust’s grant program that will be established in 2009. Eight additional workshops will be announced later this year as they are confirmed.

The State Cultural Trust was established in 2002 and provided funding of $1 million each year to it for 10 years beginning in 2005. Interest from the Trust will provide grant assistance for operational expenses and to enhance long-term sustainability of cultural organizations.

Registration Due: May 14, 2008 in order for us to prepare enough materials.

A registration fee of $15.00 will be collected at the registration table. Please do not send the fee with your registration information. To assist in a smooth registration have checks made payable to Cultural Trust or provide correct change.

05.06.2008: Possible Postscripts To A Performance

Just sent this to Giselle following her triumphant return to the stage this weekend:
"...AAAAAAAAAH! Sorry I missed ya!

How’d it go? I’m sure you were gr8!!!

When are you touring the show through the 515?

Send me a little sumpin, sumpin on the performance I can put on the website if u have the time! Doesn’t have to be much, 5-to-12 single-spaced e-written pages in small font would be gr8!!!o)

OK, whatever you can jot down!"

...Keep your fingers croise'!

05.05.2008: And, No Sooner Had He Mentioned It, When...

Note to all you theater operators in the area: I'd pay to see this!
TORONTO — Montreal-born dancer Tamara Rojo will star in a production of Romeo and Juliet to be shown at movie theatres across Canada later this month.

The performance by the Royal Ballet of London will be screened on May 24.

The Metropolitan Opera has had considerable success simulcasting operas in movie theatres. The Royal Ballet performance was pre-recorded at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. The Kenneth MacMillan interpretation of Romeo and Juliet is set to music by Prokofiev. Rojo's co-star in the performance is Cuban dancer Carlos Acosta.

...have I mentioned often enough that R+J is my favorite ballet?

05.02.2008: Showdown at the OICUrPoint+RazeU2K Corral!

Let the discussion begin! Here's another review of a recent dance performance in the area:
"...So in FINALLY reflecting about what I saw at Ballet Hispanico, I would definitely NOT (agree that) "Alissa knows nothing about dance," but I might disagree with her a bit about what we saw at the performance. The first piece was purported to be with the idea of being at a Cuban nightclub either actually in Cuba or in New York City). It talked about the heat and the passion that it was seeking to portray. While the partnering was really cool, and the dancers obviously strong, I don't think I really felt the passion of a Havana nightclub. The connection between the dancers and their bodies really moving as one seemed to be missing. Perhaps it comes from my own bias actually dancing at Latin salsa clubs down in Costa Rica and experiencing how earthy and grounded it is, that just seemed to be missing for me. From personal experience though, as a ballet dancer (or someone who pretends to be able to do ballet 7 days a week), you train so much to be lifted, and up, and really work on defying gravity, that it can be incredibly difficult to adjust yourself to actually embracing gravity and feeling the earth. When I saw Paul Taylor's company dance in New York, we talked with one of the dancers about a piece they perform called Esplinade. It requires the dancers to essentially launch their bodies up into the air landing either in the arms of an awaiting partner, or scarier still on the stage floor both on the other side of the stage. (It's an amazing piece to watch, with every jump, you're more in awe of their ability to throw themselves to the ground fearlessly, but still smoothly, and quietly.) A ballet company in Florida, with Taylor's permission, was going to try to perform the piece, recognizing how amazing the dance is. But, the dancer told us, they couldn't do it because it really involved throwing your weight around, and embracing the gravity that a ballet company is trained to avoid. That's perhaps the only explanation that I can find, you can make them stop dancing the ballet steps, but you can't make them stop dancing like a ballet dancer. (not always a bad thing…I wish I could dance more like a ballet dancer!)

In the second piece I was really caught off-guard. Just given their name, I didn't really expect them to bust out with the (perhaps a little bit clichéd) creature coming out of the cocoon and flying around which is so much more modern than ballet. (though Modern Hispanico probably just isn't as cool sounding of a name). I do have to admit that it was really cool the way the costumes for this piece really highlighted the quality and nature of the movement. They were unitards that had vertical lines down the center of their torso, like a sternum, and perpendicular lines coming out from it, like ribs. So anytime the dancers did any kind of torso contractions or releases the costumes really emphasized that kind of movement.

The third piece was my favorite. I was fortunate enough to take a couple day Fosse workshop in Cedar Rapids by a dancer who worked on Fosse-choreographed shows on Broadway, Sweet Charity and Damn Yankees, to name a couple. Seeing so many of the elements of the Fosse style with which I struggled perfectly come together was really neat (some of the isolations demanded by the choreography requires you to isolate body parts I would SWEAR couldn't be isolated). And the dancers really seemed to have a great time, and I could finally see some of the chemistry that I had been missing before. I think this piece was the most well-executed and the cleanest of the pieces, and like I said before, the dancers really seemed to connect with the material and with each other which always helps..."

05.02.2008: eMail From Arts Department

Got this in the eMailBag from the Arts Coalition:
"The Dance Network will hold its first gathering from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, June 29, at the State Historical Building. This new group is meant to serve all dancers—classical ballet, folk and traditional cultures, modern, tap, jazz, hip hop and everything in between.

This gathering will offer a variety of sessions specifically geared toward dancers 18 years old or older, including grant writing for IAC grants, information about IAC performing and teaching artist rosters, how to use new media for marketing and more. There will be opportunities to network and collaborate with colleagues from across the state as well as dance breaks!

Registration information will be posted on the IAC Web site on or about May 15.

The event is free and open to all interested dancers!"

05.01.2008: The Ghost of Giselle Returns!

CCDC alum Giselle sends this note about her triumphant return to the stage for the first time since her star turn as Odette/Odile...
"I am in this! :) I get to perform this weekend! It's the only ballet piece in the entire show. I know you guys have crazy rehearsals on weekends so I don't expect you to come. But I just wanted to let you know. Hope everything is going well with you. I can't wait to see you...I miss you! And I can't wait to take classes this summer.

Elizabeth aka Giselle"

University of Iowa News Release

UI Dance Department presents undergraduate concert May 1-3

The University of Iowa Department of Dance will present an undergraduate concert at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, May 1-3, in the Space Place Theatre of UI North Hall.

The program, selected through a faculty adjudication process, will feature:

--Erin Zintek's self-performed solo IM Moral, set to music by John Lennon and Vijay Iyer.
--Holly Shipper's large ensemble piece Some Things Never Change, inspired by the tradition of jazz dance on Broadway, with recorded music by Doris Day, Stanley Black and Jack Hylton.
--Kaitlin Schutte's quartet One, a contemporary ballet set to music by Eric Whitacre.
--In Attention to Inattention by Amy Jacobus, a quintet set to music by Elvis Costello, Norah Jones, Rufus Wainwright, Nine Inch Nails, Phantom Planet and ft (the Shadow Government).
--Heeled, choreographed by Trevor Szuba-Schneider in collaboration with Aya Wilson, set to music by Matt Monro, Sounds of the Casino and Josh Wink.
--Anna Adams Stark's Many Declarations, a septet set to music by Calexico.
--Shadowplay by Debbie Handelsman, set to taiko drumming from Cirque du Soleil.
--Carrie Nicastro's Exurgency, a quartet about how different cultures view fate, set to music by Zoe Keating.

Admission is $12 (UI students $6; free admission for children under 12).

04.30.2008: Hamer Hits Homers!

After much cajoling, CCDC's Modern/Jazz/Pilates/Yoga Instructor Alissa FINALLY fulfills her reviewing assignment. It was to attend a performance of Ballet Hispanico and include the phrase "I disagree with Kathleen Hurley and she obviously knows nothing about dance..." or some variation! (This is funny because it's so obviously UNTRUE!o):
"As promised! :)

I attended the Ballet Hispanico performance with Kathleen Hurley on Friday at the Civic Center. After sipping on soda and nibbling on chocolates in the VIP lounge (it pays to know people) we took our amazing seats in anticipation for the performance. I thought I had seen Ballet Hispanico before while attending UNI and had many preconceived notions. After watching the first piece I realized I had not seen this sultry eclectic company before. It was, in fact, Ballet Folklorico that I had seen previously. I was quite surprised at the amount of modern infused in the pieces. I was expecting to see more ballet, and while there were certainly balletic elements and steps, I would definitely classify the first 2 pieces as modern dance. Yay! :)

The first piece, Club Havana, was my favorite. The things that stuck out to me most were the momentum the choreography carried as well as the seamless transitions into and out of the partnering. It only cemented in my mind the need for strong dancers (girls and guys)!

The second piece, Caravanserai, was a bit outdated but utilized the stage in a fantastic manner and also showed themes and motifs from many famous modern choreographers, including Martha Graham, Alvin Ailey, and Paul Taylor.

Ritmo Y Ruido was the final piece. It was choreographed by Ann Reinking, who worked closely with Bob Fosse. You could definitely see the Fosse in it! It is the type of jazz that many competitions studios attempt to do and fail. Seeing the style done by a professional company made it a lot more appealing.

I would like to say that I completely disagreed with Kathleen and that she knows nothing about dance, but she is pretty knowledgeable!!! We had a great time and that is a company I would definitely go see in the future."

...Now, we're just waiting for the xCOEd to chime in with her review and her assignment to include the phrase: "Obviously Alissa knows nothing about dance..."

04.30.2008: Dance On TV!

I'm discovering there's a lot more dance oriented programs available on our new satellite than I first suspected: there's a documentary, Fighting Over Fokine, a teen-oriented dance movie, A Time To Dance and a Ballet Russe retrospective that are in the DVR queue now, along with the usual reality TV dance competition suspects. Now, I haven't had the chance to watch most of them because I have to learn or choreograph so much for the recital nowadays, but, I did sample some of the student dance concert from the BYU Provo program. (Who knew? Apparently, for some reason, we get programming from Utah. I'm thinking it's made available on the all-Mormon, all-the-time channel in the wee morning hours amongst that religious block of programming) It was a real eye-opener because we're always asked to recommend strong dance programs to graduating seniors and we weren't familiar with BYU's program. (We have heard of a strong program elsewhere in that state. One of our students went to Salt Lake City and the dance program at Utah. I believe it's affiliated with Ballet West, a major national company. Strong classical reputation.) The Provo program featured their Cougarette dance competition team as well as their ballet program (excerpts from Don Q), their ballroom dance team, modern, folk dance and tap programs. Most colleges I know don't offer that many courses or enroll that many strong dancers with competitive body types. Graduating seniors looking for well-rounded training in a University setting could probably do worse than researching the program there. (And, just off the top of my head, here's a list of other college programs I've recommended in the past: Butler, NCSA, NYU@Purchase, University of Iowa (despite the retirement of Francoise and the passing of Basil Thompson), the Oklahoma programs and some University of California programs.)...And, her fighting spirit couldn't overcome her main handicap as the Child of a Lesser God succumbed to two back-to-back sub-par performances on DWTS. Little missteps and the inability to use the music to get back in rhythm doomed the Deaf Actress. But, as the Judges pointed out, every week Marlee competed was an inspiration to all of us to rise above our own personal handicaps...And, on SIU+D, The Black Ballerina is the latest to be eliminated in the Stomp! challenge. But, as I've mentioned before, the backstage backbiting and preening queening is getting more than a little annoying. Remember the behavior of that one professional on Season One of the SYTYCD? It's like that only ten times worse on SIU+D. I remember writing at the time "Hey, Blake! Shut up and dance!" I echo that comment again with "Ay, Miguel! Sierre' su boca y baile'!" (Okay, I haven't re-covered imperatives yet in my Spanish Podcast, so, the grammar probably isn't kosher, but, the sentiment is common, claro que si'!!)

04.24.2008: Better L8 Than Ever

Whoops! Neglected to note the date on this on-going reminder from the director of a fledgling dance company:
"...I wanted to let you all know that Poetic Rebound Performance Company will be performing/teaching at the Iowa Dance Fest the week of April 21th-26th. It would be great to see you all there!

  • Tuesday April 22nd, Project Art @ UIHC 12-1 p.m., free and open to the public

  • Friday, April 25th, National Dance Academy, 2100 Norcor Ave., Coralville, 8 p.m. with reception following the performance

  • Saturday, April 26th, Modern Master Class with Nicole Hussain at Kate Carol and Co. Dance, 2:30-3:15 p.m.

You can also find these events on the Iowa Dance Fest blog and the PRPC websites.

Thanks for your continued support!

Nicole Hussain
Artistic Director
Poetic Rebound Performance Company"

04.24.2008: Cap City Capsules

A quote that resonates with all us late starters:
"...and I started taking three to four classes a day," he says. "I thought, ‘Okay, I'm going to try for a year, and I'm going to try everything,' because I knew that it was going to be a short career, and I thought I could come back to the architecture career later on. And then I got caught up," he continues. "You fall in love with it, and it becomes some sort of a drug."
Consider catching the performance! Read the entire article from the River Cities Reader.
The annual national ballet competition culminates:
"...The Youth America Grand Prix, now in its ninth year, is a ballet and contemporary-dance competition of epic proportions. Its culminating gala, Stars of Today Meet the Stars of Tomorrow, at City Center on Monday, featured 20 finalists, along with an array of established stars,..."
Read about the results and the show from the New York Times.
Meet Billy Elliott(s), the musical:
"I was completely wiped out," he said. "I had to be helped out sobbing from the screening because it mirrored, in a way, my personal journey and my professional journey ... my father really never approved of what I was going to do either. . . . This journey of Billy's reminded me of what I went through."
Meet the trio and Captain Fantastic courtesy of the Canadian Press.
A peek at company class at the Kirov Ballet:
"...The pianist begins and off they go through an hour of barre exercises, centre practice and petite batterie. No dancer speaks, even when corrected by Berezhnoi, and their focus is entirely on their own alignment reflected in the mirrored wall at the front of the studio.

The intensity of their self-absorption is both admirable and eerie. As they leave for their next class, the dancers stand poised at the door, wait to catch Berezhnoi's eye, and dip their head in respect..."

Get a taste of the dancer's life from the Birmingham Post.

04.23.2008: iPod uPdate

Still listening to my newish iTouch iPod everyday. I took it out with me for my first bike ride of the season this past weekend. I didn't use it riding out because I like to be able to hear the sounds of the approaching vehicles before they crash into me and blithely drive on. And, I knew it was going to be one of those more dangerous rides where it seems every driver needs a white cane but left their seeing eye dog at home this past Sunday! But, the ride back is on the Inner Urban Bike Trail separated from traffic. So, I plugged into my FunkCity music playlist and it helped shorten the ride home tremendously. I also felt like my earbuds didn't totally block out the outside noise so my safety wasn't compromised. (And, yes! I gave into peer pressure and bought and wear a new bike helmet!) But, there's something utterly amazing about cruising along listening to some classic Prince or Technotronic while carving out that elbow below Dowling High School. That's when I knew the long winter of 2008 was finally almost over...But, I'm not earning a new University degree while I'm on that bike. Remember those MIT lectures I downloaded from iTunes a while back? I half-listened to one and started the other. It's been sitting in my 'pod for a couple months now. But, I am still downloading and listening to two Spanish language and two Russian phrase teaching podcasts. It helps me recall four-and-a-half years of high school Spanish in the two podcasts: Algo huela bien! Tengo mucho hambre! Quiero albondiguitas para un tentempie'! But, don't bother trying to learn a foreign language from scratch! I've picked up a few phrases in Russkiyazi (especially with the help of The Princess Uzbeki!o) But, I doubt if I'll be starting a new career as a UN translator anytime soon! (This would be a good opportunity to brag about my brother who works for the US Foreign Service. I like to say, between the two of us, we speak many languages. I spika da Inglish goodly. He handles everything else! Michael's learned and forgotten more languages during his career than I can even fathom attempting: Italian, Japanese, Arabic, Ukrainian, Russian, Spanish at last check!o)...But, here's an inspiring bit of iPod dance info you might use. I've started subscribing to the Anaheim Ballet video podcast. They're on a break now, but, they're in season two of video entries about their apprentice dancers. And, these are legitimate classically trained preprofessionals. One girl can turn like a top. And, there's two guys who can jump and turn with pretty decent line and extension. Check it out if you have an mp3 player with video capability. I get them at iTunes, but, I understand they're available at YouTube.Com as well. Now, time for me to get back to work on that Masters degree! Dobreya ootra! Kak vasha dela, dame e gazpazha?

04.23.2008: Put It In Ur PDA!

From CCDC Guest Modern Instructor Kathleen Hurley...
"A friendly reminder:

I really hope you can come to Spring! this weekend at the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts/Roberts Theatre at Grinnell College!

I feel this is my best work yet!!!

Performances are: Friday, 8 p.m.; Saturday, 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Arrive 30 minutes early if you don't have a ticket (it won't sell out). Tickets are free.

Original live music by Rob Lumbard and Kim Fitch:)
Choreography by Kathleen Hurley (solo and group piece), Christian Bambara of West Africa (duet and group piece) and Grinnell senior Dani Zamora.

And the lighting is REALLY INCREDIBLE by Jeff Fightmaster of NYC.

For more information, visit WWW.Grinnell.Edu.

Thank you! Hope to see you there!
Kathleen Hurley"

If you're not already dancing, performing, rehearsing or coaching this weekend, you should make that short jaunt over to Grinnell! And, if you do go, don't forget to submit a short, pithy review for your neighborhood dance and ballet blog! Our ones of ones of faithful readers are desperate for more than filler about iPods and Princess Izabella "Izzie" Smokihana de la Purrzha!o)

4.22.2008: Yes, We Have Know Life 2day!

One of the great things about our new satellite TV/DVR set-up is a "search" function on the channel guide. What that means is I can enter a term ("ballet" or "dance") and the software will search through about a week's (?) worth of programming on hundreds of channels to find shows with descriptions matching the term. So, I tried that last week and programmed the machine to record a documentary on the legendary Ballet Russe and, also, a not-so-legendary MTV episode of Made featuring a ballerina wanna-be. (Also tried to get it to record PNB's Nutcracker, The Movie, but, apparently, we don't get that channel. I remember me and Peter Yee driving to Kane'ohe to watch the film...and ending up being the only two in an otherwise empty theater. No wonder the old Honolulu City Ballet and the newer multiple versions of the Ballet Hawai'i professional companies folded for lack of funding!) Haven't finished watching Made yet, but, the "coach" they got for the jockette-who-wants-to-dance was a modern dancer, not a real ballet dancer. It's clearly impossible to take a raw beginner and even start to get them to get a clue about classical dancing in just six weeks. The companion episode of a jock-who-wants-to-tap-dance is barely a bit more plausible. If he's got rhythm, musicality and coordinated body awareness, it's more possible. Plus, his coach is a real tap dancer. I haven't watched the climactic talent show showdown yet. But, I'll be surprised if the novice ballerina out-scores the novice tapper. Anything worth doing takes effort...And, previews show that this week's Step It Up And Dance will be a "stomp" episode. The ballet-trained dancers could be at real risk in this one. But, the last episode was surprising when the girl with ballet-training turned in some aggressive hip-hop in the "dance battle". The guy just did some ersatz ballet tricks during that battle. He could've easily been eliminated if he hadn't won immunity. And, the judges did the right thing by finally eliminating the girl who fled the stage in the first episode. But, it's still hard to connect with these dancers. The show producers decided to skip showing the audition process that's an essential part of other reality TV competitions like SYTYCD or AI. I think that was a mistake. They keep telling us to go to BravoTV.Com to learn more about the contestants. But, I have to care about them first before I'll go to that much trouble. (You can catch the full first episode at that site as well) ...Now, there's no audition process shown with Dancing With The Stars, but, we are already familiar with most of the contestants so it's not really necessary. But, you may notice we get a little behind-the-scenes peek before each couple dances. So, we're invited to "bond" and care with a little more than passing interest each week. And, Elvis' Ex has left the building. She started off strong, but, ended up being this season's Dr Q, Medicine Woman. It was a surprise because Priscilla started off strong, but, failed to progress. Not so with the Ice Princess! The Gucci started off strong and keeps getting stronger! What a competitor! No wonder Katarina Witt had so much trouble with her! The other DWTS contestants may have to resort to Tonya Harding-like tactics to throw her off her relentless march to the mirror-ball!o) Also, big props to the Miami Dolphin for proving big men can dance...and dance well! And, interesting to see another strong starter falter into the red spotlight last week. The Latin Heartthrob needs to step up his game to get the votes! Ditto to the Jung Singr...And, I ended up fast-forwarding through a lot of the performance of the Brazilian troupe, Grupo Corpo. A little of the same-type of modern goes a long way with me...even if the dancers are well-trained and world-class. Show me more than energetic flailing around with sky-high extensions, please!o(But, I kept the recording to watch again if I ever have more time and no better dancing's on someplace else.)

04.21.2008: Git Ur Playhouse Pea Are Here!

Auditions for the Tony Award-winning musical Grease will be held at The Playhouse on Sunday, May 18, at 6:00 PM. All auditions open to the public; no one is pre-cast.

Grease contains roles for 7 men and 7 women, ages 16 and up, and 1 man and 1 woman ages 35-50. Those auditioning must bring a prepared solo; an accompanist will be provided. Performances are July 18-Aug. 10. Grease is directed by Ron Ziegler, with music direction by Brenton Brown and choreography by Alison Shafer.

Rydell High's spirited class of '59 -- gum chewing, hubcap stealing, hot rod-loving boys with D.A.s and their wise-cracking girls in bobby sox and pedal pushers -- capture the look and sound of the 1950s in this rollicking musical. While hip Danny Zuko and wHolesome Sandy Dumbrowski resolve the problems of their mutual attraction, the gang sings and dances its way through such nostalgic scenes as the pajama party, the prom, the burger palace and the drive-in movie. The show's many hit songs include Summer Nights, We Go Together and Greased Lightnin'.

Tickets now on sale for Holes, May 2-18, at The Playhouse. Tickets may be purchased at The Playhouse ticket office or on-line.

Based on his award-winning novel, Holes, Louis Sachar's play is the story of Stanley Yelnats, an inherently unlucky kid whose family lives under a gypsy curse that brings them perpetual misfortune. Stanley is wrongly accused of stealing a pair of sneakers and sentenced to Camp Green Lake, where nothing is green, and there's certainly no lake. There, Stanley, along with the other boys at the camp, is forced to dig 5 foot by 5 foot Holes in the ground to build character. As they work, the boys unearth the secrets of Camp Green Lake and the warden's curious fascination with legendary bandit Kissin' Kate Barlow. Rich in fun and chock full of mystery, audiences will really dig Holes. The cast of 15 features newcomer Abi LeBlanc as Stanley, and Caleb Fisher, Matt Pierick, Grant Goss, Aaron Primrose and Davon Lee as the boys. Karen Schaeffer is The Warden, whose staff is played by Todd Buchacker and Mark Maddy. Others in the cast include Daniel Haymes, Michael Curry, Steve Hickle, Nancy Darsee, Paula Krull and Ruthellen Cunnally. The show is under the direction of Kathy Pingel (Charlotte's Web).

04.18.2008: A Swing And A Miss!

Did anyone else miss this as well? The head of our local PBS affiliate brings his daughter to Capital City Dance Center (doesn't everyone???) And, I've had a standing request for his publicity people to let me know when a dance-oriented program airs locally. So, last time I talked to him I asked about the
Jock Soto documentary. He said he'd check into it and get back to me. This is part of what he sent:
"We aired it - last Sunday night at 11 on the analog service, and four other times on the digital. ..Some video is available on-line. It's not a good substitute for the full program but it's the best I've got..."
So, here's the outstanding offer (again!): e-mail me any information about live-or-Memorex dance performances and I could end up posting it here in front of tens of...well...tens of readers. Also, dance reviews or views or links to interesting blogs or sites also welcome at the same address.

04.17.2008: Tippa 'Dat Top Hat!

Big kudos to two Capital City Dance Center students in recent developments since the last pre-summer intensive update. First, Katya de la W00tang (who turned in an impressive, eye-opening performance during rehearsal last night!) has already reached one of her goals for this summer: being invited to stay for a full-year national program. She's been offered one of the slots at the Joffrey Ballet School PreProfessional Program in the Big Apple starting this fall. But, don't say dasvidanya to Princess Gamzatti just yet. She and her family's investigating the pros and cons of a possible jump-start on a potential professional dance career versus leaving friends, family and her senior year (and her big, hunky, secret crush!) at home. And, a big pat on de back, to Princess SarAurorah! She's been invited to attend the Atlanta Ballet Professional Program this summer. She'd already been accepted to their Summer Intensive. Her mom describes it as a "professional experience and feeder system (farm team?) for the company". Sleepy Cutie now gets to choose between the two, but, as with Katerina the Ballerina, just being offered the chance is a significant honor. (Now here's the ad: That's why we like to say "From Pre-Professional! Consider Capital City Dance Center!" Because it's TRUE!) Hats off to the two...and to all the CCDC students who put themselves on the line this past audition season!

04.17.2008: Newz U Ken Use!

(Courtesy Newswise) — How much do you spend on bottled water? If you buy certain brands thinking the water is cleaner or safer, experts say you may as well be pouring money down the drain. When it comes to some brands of bottled water versus tap—there may not be a sip of difference.

“There is no guarantee that bottled water is any better than tap water. Twenty-five percent of bottled water is actually just repackaged tap water,” says Jane Sadler, M.D.

Bottled water is regulated by the FDA, but when it’s packaged and sold in the same state—which is the case with around 60 percent of bottled waters—it becomes exempt from FDA regulations.

“In fact, it’s been shown some bottled waters do not meet EPA standards so you really have to be careful in your selection of bottled waters. Make sure you know the company that’s producing it,” adds Dr. Sadler.

Dr. Sadler adds that it’s also important to pay attention to the how the water is processed. “Be sure that you’re getting water that’s been distilled or that’s been processed through reverse osmosis.”

But experts say that filling your cup at the tap can be just as clean and healthy. “We know that tap water is highly regulated by the EPA and we know that tap water is generally safe,” says Dr. Sadler.

Also, how you store your bottled water is critical. Water should not be kept at anything above room temperature. Leaving water for days in a hot car for instance can cause bacteria in the water to multiply.

(Courtesy Newswise) — The warmer months entice people of all ages to come forth from their winter havens - and most need to be reminded about the importance of sun protection. From young children to teens to mature adults, there are dozens of simple ways to change skin cancer prevention from a chore into a healthy habit.

Carol Drucker, M.D. knows sun protection is a lifelong necessity for everyone; the earlier individuals start, the better. Drucker has considerable expertise on reducing skin cancer risk, and has helpful summer skin care tips for every age.

Parents of Babies and Young Children

  • Sunscreen should not be applied to babies younger than six months. Instead, cover babies and limit direct exposure to the sun to the extent possible.
  • Make applying a waterproof sunscreen part of a toddler's routine before getting dressed every day. "It's important to find a sunscreen that kids can tolerate - not too heavy or greasy, so it feels good on the skin," says Drucker. "Parents may be surprised by how quickly their child becomes accustomed to this daily ritual."
  • Try not to schedule outdoor activity between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and seek playgrounds where shade - from trees or awnings - is plentiful. If your child has to be outdoors during these hours, be sure they're protected from the sun with a hat, sunglasses, etc.
  • Add SPF to the weekly wash. According to Drucker, relatively inexpensive products are available to put in the wash to add SPF protection to normal clothing for up to 20 washes. "This works great for kids of all ages, including stubborn teenagers - they won't even know it's there."


  • "Teens do especially well with products that have built in SPF," advises Drucker. Teen girls who wear makeup should choose from the variety of products that include sunscreen. "Since it fits into products they already use, it's a painless step that provides valuable sun protection."
  • Quit tanning beds. They emit the same harmful UV rays as sunlight and are used at dangerous rates. "For teens who insist on getting color, a spray-on tan is the only safe tan," says Drucker.
  • Wear hats as a trendy accessory. Drucker notes sun damage frequently occurs on the face. "This season it's easy for teens to stock up on cute, stylish hats that will also shield their face in the sun."


  • Be aware that the window glass in cars does not block all of the sun's harmful rays, making the driver's left side more prone to sun damage. Solutions Drucker offers include applying sunscreen before long car rides or installing shades or specialized tinting in car windows.
  • Sun-proof hair. The top of the head becomes increasingly at risk for sun damage as hair thins or if the hair is parted. Style using hairsprays, shampoos and conditioners with SPF.
  • Apply sunscreen to oft-forgotten areas - the top of ears, back of hands, neck and toes. Drucker warns, "These are four places that get a lot of incidental sun exposure."
  • It is little known that wind intensifies sun damage says Drucker. "People should be especially careful during water sports or windy days at the beach when the chapping and burning effect of the wind acts as an additive to UV rays and can increase their risk of burning," she explains.

04.16.2008: The Price Is Right!

CCDC Guest Faculty Kathleen Hurley drops this intriguing performance offer in your lap:
"...I hope you all can come! We have a guest choreographer, Christian Bambara of CCBdance Project, who creates a fusion of West African movement and modern dance with music by Kim Fitch. Christian has created a group piece for the students and will be performing a duet with his wife. Also I have made a group piece with live music by Rob Lumbard (he's AWESOME!!) and will also be performing a solo that I've been working on for months and months (COME SEE IT!!!). Hope you can come -- tickets are free!!


The Grinnell Department of Theatre and Dance presents
New choreography by
Christian Bambara, Kathleen Hurley,
and Dani Zamora ‘08
New Music by
Kimberly Fitch and Rob Lumbard
Performed by
the Grinnell College Dance Troupe
with Guest Performers
8 p.m., Friday, April 25
and Saturday, April 26, 2008
2 p.m., Sunday, April 27
Roberts Theatre
Bucksbaum Center for the Arts
This event is free and open to the public.

Tickets are required and available at the Bucksbaum Center Box Office beginning Monday, April 21, from noon–5 p.m.

04.14.2008: Weakly, I Have Know Life Segment

Okay, now that I've caught up with the latest episodes over the weekend, (and, btw, it's nearly impossible for me not to accidentally learn the results beforehand) we can now discuss the departure of the First Man's Toyota from DWTS. I-4-1 will miss his sardonic and sarcastic sense of humor. Loved his statement that he "lost 20 pounds of fat" and "gained 105 pounds of angel" when referring to his professional partner Julianne Hough. His unique entrance as a unicycle-riding Zorro was the entertainment highlight of the evening as far as I'm concerned. I also thought the Broadway Baby stepped up her game. But, the sense of desperation in her attack was a little off-putting. And, is anyone more competitive than professional Cheryl Burke? But, she has her work cut out for her with the Ice Princess never scoring anything less than a "nine" and earning the first "tens" of the season. (And, the Latin Hearthrob did look a little blank and glazed over when he concentrates so much on the choreography. We call that "ballet face" in ballet class!o) Yes, the NFL Star kept pace by matching the Olympic Gold Medalist's score for the first-time. But, it's going to take more than never-ending line to dethrone the Gucci of Season Six. Still, everytime I see the Miami Dolphin dance, I always think to myself it's nice to see a big man that coordinated and who can dance that well. And, I think the next 2 go well may be Elvis' Ex or the Girl With 3 Names...Kept my I on SIU+D as well. And, learned that I've been mispronouncing "apache" all my dancing life. (There is no accent on the last "e". It's pronounced "ah'-pash". Who knew?) I thought it was tremendously unfair to ask the dancers who they thought should be eliminated. And, even after everyone else on the team on the edge turned on Michael, he refused to point a finger at anyone else. And, it turned out the judges did cut someone else instead. I still think that the girl who had to be talked out of giving up, the girl who ran off stage last week should've been shown the door. And, how the mighty have fallen! The dancer who won immunity for her stellar performance last week was now told if she didn't have that immunity that she would've been eliminated this week! What are the judges looking for? It must be driving those dancers crazy! I'll keep watching the show because the dancing's at a very high level, but, I must admit most of the contestants aren't winning me over backstage. I'm not sure these are folks I'd want to hang out with after rehearsal was over. I don't know who they are or why I should care who goes or stays. That's probably not their fault. It's the fault of the producers and editors. Just an opinion from someone who dances AND works in media as a producer and editor...and has no life!o)

04.14.2008: Timely Tips

This reminder in from the "saucy" local group that promotes Salsa Dancing:
"...The members of the Ballet Hispanico Company will be teaching a FREE Latin Social dance lesson. Click here to download a flyer. For more information on Ballet Hispanico or to get tickets for the performance on Friday, April 18, visit the Civic Center Web site..."

This reminder in from Tallgrass Theatre Company on this weekend's opening:
"...Tallgrass Theatre Company presents Steel Magnolias, Robert Harling's beloved story of six Louisiana women and their ups and downs as they unfold at the neighborhood beauty salon.

7:00 p.m.
Fridays and Saturdays
April 18 – May 3
Rex Mathes Auditorium
1401 Vine Street

Sign-Language Interpretation will be available Saturday, May 3. More information available at, or contact"

04.13.2008: A Fine Felicitous Feline

The story is that choreographer George Balanchine got a lot of inspiration for his choreography by watching his pet cat "dance". So, now CCDC students should be prepared for renewed emphasis on jumping or moving like "a fine feline". Steps like pas de chat, saut de chat, tour de chat and any other fill-in-the-blank de chat we can think of. Yes, the rumors are true. A young kitten has deigned to permit us to be in her proximity and serve her daily by scratching her tummy, feeding her yummy tidbits, cleaning her litter box and grooming her lovely coat. We were trying to figure out an appropriate name for such an illustrious and furry personage, and, I've always like the imaginative names from the musical and book Cats like Grizabella and RumTumTigger. (Nobody thought my first suggestions to name the cat Astrofee, Apult or Ankerous were very funny!o) So, more seriously, I suggested Princess Furbella Meowskirs Niteshadow de la Purrzha as her formal name. And, Furby, Smoky or Bella for short. But, she turned up her non-existent nose at those suggestions and I was over-ruled. So, now, she's been formally named Princess Isabella Smokihana de la Purrzha and Izzy for short. So, if anyone remembers that classic movie called The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing, it is now the story of one of my nine lives!o)

04.11.2008: More Cap City Capsules

(Courtesy Newswise) — Young children who lead inactive lifestyles are five-to-six times more likely to be at serious risk of heart disease, with that degree of danger emerging as early as their teenage years, according to a new study.

Researchers looked at a group of children twice – first while in grade school, then again seven years later when they were in their teens.

Scientists wanted to know more about the early onset of metabolic syndrome, a condition more commonly found in adults. Metabolic syndrome is the label given to a clustering of medical disorders that raise the risk of heart disease and diabetes, such as glucose intolerance, hypertension, elevated triglycerides, low HDL (so-called “good”) cholesterol and obesity. Previous studies have found that somewhere from four percent to nine percent of adolescents have the condition.

However, until now, no one had tracked the same group of children over time to see just how fitness and activity levels in their early years played a role in the likelihood of them developing metabolic syndrome by the time they were teenagers, said Professor Robert McMurray.

When the same children were examined again seven years later, 4.6 percent had three or more characteristics of metabolic syndrome.

McMurray said adolescents with the syndrome were six times more likely to have had low aerobic fitness as children and five times more likely to have low levels of physical activity at the time they joined the study.

“This shows efforts need to begin early in childhood to increase exercise,” he said. “Children today live a very sedentary life and are prone to obesity. This is the first study to examine the importance of childhood fitness levels on your metabolism as a teenager. Previously we didn’t know if low fitness levels were an influence.

“It’s obvious now that there is a link and this is something which we need to pay attention to by encouraging our kids to keep fit, or suffer the consequences later in life,” said McMurray. The study, titled Adolescents with metabolic syndrome have a history of low aerobic fitness and physical activity levels, can be found on-line.

(Courtesy Newswise) — Many people don’t realize there’s a difference between sunblock and sunscreen. True to its name, sunblock reflects the sun’s rays, thereby blocking them from reaching your skin. Sunscreen absorbs rather than reflects ultraviolet (UV) radiation, explains a new edition of a Harvard Medical School report.

Sunblocks, such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, are highly effective in protecting against both UVA and UVB rays, the types of UV radiation that cause sunburn and skin cancer. Sunblocks often appear white on the skin. Sunscreens tend to be less visible on the skin. They usually contain benzophenones, which protect against UVA, and cinnamates and salicylates, which protect against UVB. You’ll see these ingredients listed as oxybenzone, octyl salicylate, or octyl methoxycinnamate, to name a few. A major drawback of these sunscreen ingredients is that they often break down after several hours of exposure to sunlight, which means you need to reapply them.

But two new sunscreens—Anthelios SX and Helioplex—provide longer-lasting protection against UVA and UVB rays. Research shows that Anthelios SX, which was approved by the FDA in 2006, retains 80% of its UVA protection and 90% of its UVB protection five hours after application.

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using sunscreen with an SPF rating of at least 15. People with fair skin or at high risk for skin cancer may want to go higher. The higher a sunscreen’s SPF rating, the longer it protects against sun exposure. Products labeled “broad spectrum” often contain several different sun protection ingredients in order to cover a broad range of UV radiation.

(Courtesy Newswise) — Twenty million to 30 million 6- to 18-year-olds participate in youth sports programs, but around 80 percent opt out by the age of 12. Coaching and the "fun factor" contribute to this attrition rate, say Indiana University coaching experts. Kids join such programs largely to have fun -- and they drop out when it's no longer fun. Pressure and competition need to take a backseat to the development of fundamental skills and enjoyment.

"In this country, we often use a 'warm body approach' in youth sport coaching," said Professor David Gallahue of IU. In other words schools and recreation programs in the U.S. frequently resort to taking what they can get, often turning to well intentioned but ill prepared parents with little or no coaching experience to work with young athletes. Countries such as Canada, Australia and Great Britain require youth coaches to have certain levels of certification. If no certified coaches are available, no teams are created.

Coaches and parents should take as much pressure off of the kids as possible, because undue pressure can drive young athletes away from the sport prematurely. "Parents and coaches should not attempt to live out their own fantasies and shortcomings through their children," said track and field expert Phillip Henson. "The primary purpose of youth sports is to have fun."

04.10.2008: Audition Action

Auditions for the play Leading Ladies will be held at The Playhouse on Sunday, Apr. 13, 2008, at 6:00 PM. All auditions are open to the public; no one is pre-cast.

Leading Ladies contains roles for 5 men and 3 women, ages 16 and up. Performances are June 6-22. Leading Ladies is directed by Ron Ziegler (The Foreigner).

When two down-and-out actors decide to impersonate women to fraudulently inherit an old ladys fortune, hilarity ensues in Leading Ladies. Playwright Ken Ludwig (Lend Me a Tenor, Moon Over Buffalo) strikes again with a sidesplitting farce that's part Some Like It Hot and part Marx Brothers!

04.07.2008: Gotta Get A Life Segment

Our DVR's set to record a new dance-oriented program now. It's called Step It Up And Dance on Bravo. It's a new take-off and twist on the reality-TV/Dance competition genre. This time the contestants are professional dancers. Well...supposedly "professional". On the first episode, one girl ran off stage when she forgot the choreography. Another telegraphed a mistake. Those aren't "pro's" in my book. Only the fact that that the first girl had "immunity" saved her from the axe. The second girl wasn't as lucky. The saving grace for this show get to see professionals perform. They may not be so likeable backstage, but, most can pick-up choreography and dance quite well, thank you! Overheard some mixed reviews and read similar comments on the blogosphere, but, there's enough good dancing to keep me watchin'! ...Can't say the same for Yo Mama Can't Dance. Deleted that line-up from the queue. Couldn't quite force myself to watch any more...OK, as most of you should know by now, the Genial Actor was the latest casualty over at DWTS. And, the Gold Medalist keeps dancing with the Midas touch. No, she didn't dance with a muffler on, just everything she touches turns to "gold". One poster even calls Yamaguchi, "the Gucci" of this season! But, I still think Mari-oh! can give her a run for her money, but, he needs to battle the demands of his schedule to find time to rehearse! (Keep that in mind as you check out your own CCDC rehearsal schedule. That's the bare minimum, the good dancers do their "homework" to stay in the game! I used to go home and literally write down all my new choreography to reinforce what I needed for the next day's rehearsal.) The NFL Star, the Deaf Actress and the Fighter Pilot also strong competition. But, I'll be surprised if the First Man's Toyota and Broadway Baby stick around much longer. (And, the April Fools segment made me laugh out loud!o) (Kristi as a competitive eater! Genius!) ...Here's an odd unconfirmed rumor I found floating in the blogosphere: a report that Elvis' Ex can't smile as a result of botched plastic surgery. Combine that with possible botox injections which also cause facial paralysis...and that could explain Priscilla's constant bland, "serenity now" expression. Her perfectionist tendencies could end up a real asset...or a real liability as the dance attrition continues.

04.03.2008: Grand Menage

From the "Land of More Than 10,000 Lakes" (I know. I used to dance there. I counted!o):
"...He is just your ordinary, 19-year-old garage "gearhead." And, oh, he's also a professional ballet dancer..."
Be sure to click on the video link from KARE-TV.
A documentary tracks the footsteps of the latest, greatest Native American classical dancer:
“People are not aware of the sacrifice and dedication of these dancers,” she said. “They don’t get a chance to appreciate what great athletes ballet dancers are.”
Find out more from the Daily News.
An update on that story of the 21st Century way of ballet "taking it to the streets":
"A high-definition cinema screening of Sir Frederick Ashton's Sylvia that puts the viewer inside London's Royal Opera House could be the next best thing. The performance offers much larger than life appearances of two of Europe's most admired dancers, the Royal Ballet's Darcey Bussell and La Scala's Roberto Bolle..."
Complete article from the Toronto Star. The only question is: How soon before we can get that locally? Seems the Opera is already hopping on that Hi-Def bandwagon.
SYTYCD fever spreads north of the border:
"...When I was younger, my little dancer friends and I would be in competitions and we would always say, "Why isn't there dancing in the Olympics?" That's why I think this show is so cool, because there are all these dancers, and they now have a chance to show their talent, and to take their talent further..."
Read about the new SYTYCD Canada from CTV.CA.
Another reason to blow into the Windy City:
"...Tickets to the Chicago engagement of Dirty Dancing go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday. And the questions are starting. Ergo, here’s a quick guide for all you need to know about keeping Baby out of the corner...."
It's not Gray-Swayze, but, it's the next best thing according to the Chicago Trib. And, while you're there, here's the link to pick up tickets to this weekend's performances by ABT.

04.02.2008: 4Warned, 4Armed

(Courtesy Newswise) — Girls who gossip and exclude others from their cliques are often labeled as popular by their classmates, and nearly all high school cliques are divided along racial lines, according to sociologist Casey Borch, Ph.D.

Borch co-authored a study to determine how aggression, popularity and academic achievement influenced membership in cliques.

The study found that physical aggression helped popularity in the earlier grades but not as the children grew older. Membership in physically aggressive cliques tended to decline over time whereas membership in cliques where students gossiped, spread rumors and excluded others, which is called relational aggression, remained constant over time.

In fact, the study found that behaviors such as gossiping and spreading rumors increased the perceived popularity, or social visibility, of the students over time, Borch said. “So how well known you are is enhanced by one’s ability to be relationally aggressive. So a lot of popular kids may not be well liked, but they are relationally aggressive and their peers think that they are popular. So it makes some sense that relational aggression is a chosen tactic used by adolescents interested in popularity.

“The ‘mean girls’ effect suggests that girls engage more in this type of behavior more than boys,” says Borch, “and as a rule, they do, but the people who gain more from this behavior are minority boys. Minority boys who are relationally aggressive gained a lot more popularity over time than any other group, although, they were less likely to use the behavior.

“One surprising finding was that in the fourth grade about 50 percent of the cliques were of mixed race and ethnicity, but by the 12th grade, nearly 90 percent of cliques were of the one race or ethnicity,” says Borch, “so only 10 percent were mixed. This was even more surprising given the increasing ethnic diversity of the school system we studied over time. We did not expect to see the racial composition of the cliques to go from 50 percent mixed to just 10 percent.”

“Kids are good social observers,” says Borch. “They know who the aggressive kids are and who’s popular. So listen to your kids. If they say someone is trouble, they may very well be.”

(Courtesy Newswise) — Exercise doesn’t stop the clock on aging -- but it seems to slow it down. Evidence continues to mount that exercise provides many benefits to help people look and feel younger. The Mayo Clinic offers a recap of the many benefits of regular exercise.
Provides energy:
A lack of energy is largely a result of inactivity. Endurance exercises such as walking, swimming, jogging, biking and rowing improve stamina and energy. After just a few weeks in a walking program, most people find they have more energy for activities such as gardening or traveling.

Encourages well-being:
There’s considerable evidence that regular physical activity can help reduce stress, manage mild-to-moderate depression and anxiety, improve sleep, boost mood and enhance the overall sense of well-being.

Takes off pounds and keeps them off:
Exercise burns calories. Burning more calories than consumed can reduce body fat. And exercise raises metabolism during the activity and after. In the long term, both factors help maintain weight loss.

Promotes firm bodies:
A regular strength training program can help maintain muscle mass and tone and counteract the effects of gravity and aging.

Boosts immune system:
Researchers have found a link between regular physical activities and improved immune functions. During moderate exercise, immune cells circulate more quickly through the body and are better at destroying viruses and bacteria.

Prevents disease:
Regular aerobic exercise reduces the risk of heart disease by reducing body fat, lowering blood pressure and raising “good” cholesterol levels. A regular strength-training program increases muscle mass, preserves bone and improves strength and balance. Those benefits, in turn, make it easier to perform daily activities and help prevent falls and osteoporosis.

Improves mental function:
A number of studies have found that women who are physically active score better on mental function tests than do sedentary women.

Increases overall life expectancy:
A number of studies have found that women who participate in regular physical activity live longer than their more sedentary peers. Physical activity doesn’t have to mean formal exercise. Engaging in purposeful physical activities, such as cleaning or walking a pet, has been shown to lengthen life.

(Courtesy Newswise) — Breaking up is hard to do at any age. But the intense emotions that come with a breakup can be too much for some teenagers to handle.

"Some relationships may seem so intense and so necessary that teenagers harm themselves when the relationship ends,” says child psychiatrist Norma Clarke, MD.

A breakup signals to parents to be alert for signs of trouble in their teen's emotional health, because they often keep their feelings secret.

"If your teen falls off the deep end and you have a sense that you are losing control of him or her, you need to intervene,” says Dr. Clarke. Sudden changes in your teen's behavior may also be signs that he or she is having relationship problems, she adds.

Signs a relationship have gone too far

  • Your teenager insists on spending all of his or her free time with the other person and stops seeing friends. "If the idea of not being with the other person leads to an outburst, you have to wonder, 'how is it that you can't be away from this person for more than five minutes?'”

  • Your teenager cries frequently, wants to be alone or sleeps more or less than usual, if his or her boyfriend/girlfriend is not around.

  • The age gap between your teenager and boyfriend/girlfriend is more than three years.

  • Your teenager is constantly talking on the telephone or chatting on the Internet. Chat rooms and social networking Web sites can be dangerous places for teenagers with low self-esteem, looking for human connection.

What parents can do:

  • Talk to your teenager about the relationship. "Remind your child that it is not a good idea to get too involved with just one person. They should keep their friends, and they shouldn't put all their eggs in one basket,” Dr. Clarke says.

  • Establish relationship rules according to your family's morals and values.

  • Frequently monitor your child's Internet usage to see what sites he or she frequently visits. Stay abreast of changes made to your child's MySpace or Facebook pages. Trust your instincts if the messages or content seems out of character and discuss it with your child.

  • Be alert to clues of self-harm behavior such as your teen no longer wearing short-sleeved clothing.

"Parents tend not to talk to kids about relationships,” Dr. Clarke says. "Keeping an open line of communication about friends of all types, activities and expectations is more welcomed by your child than may be apparent. I don't think parents realize the impact they have on their teenager's behavior.”

04.01.2008: No April Foolin'!

On an earlier post, I mentioned my surprise that the new Terminator on FOX is apparently a classically trained dancer. Now this word from writer and Buffy-creator Joss Whedon:
"...there’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time which is a ballet with Summer Glau. We’ve been talking about it for years and I’ve been doing most of the talking and none of the doing. I finally finished the score and we have a choreographer working with us..."
There's brief article on it at the ComicMix Website.
Due to the success of SYTYCD, it's no surprise copy-cats are beginning to prowl:
"In an age where everyone wants to be famous for nothing, this show is refreshing because as a dancer, you can't just get by. It's about hard work."
Read the rest from the Daily News
Does size matter? Check this out:
"One of the purposes for the whole show was to help big people feel better about themselves. It gives them confidence to go and try out dance themselves." He added: "The Big Ballet shows other people look although we're overweight, we still can move and can still do the things others do'.
Get the skinny from the NewsShopper

03.31.2008: Giselle Replies

CCDC's reigning Giselle replies to the question: How did seeing international ballet superstar Nina Ananiashvili's recent portrayal affect her approach to performances?
"...Seeing this performance was extremely inspiring for me! There is nothing quite like seeing a ballerina like Nina dance in front of you. Yes, of course there are things that could have been helpful to know before performing. It was really hard for me to do the acting parts, but that is something that Nina excelled at. The way she used her entire body to get things across to the audience was quite amazing. I just didn't have the background do really act well, and I had trouble because I can be so shy! :) And yes, of course the coaching I got made more sense when I saw Nina perform. One thing in specific I remember was Giselle's entrance through the door of the house and the menage that she did of runs and saute's. I had so much trouble jumping high enough and making it BIG enough! Nina of course had no such trouble, and I can see what Missy was talking about all those rehearsals! And of course in the second act - the connection that Nina had with her partner in the pas de deux - I see now what Emery always talked about trying to get more emotion out of me!

The exaggeration that must be used was a major thing, and something I wish I could have done better. In general, the emotion that Nina had throughout the entire ballet really inspired me. The way she incorporated the character of Giselle into all of her dancing was so neat. She never left the role. She gave her heart to the audience, which is something Missy and Emery are always talking about..."

03.31.2008: Media Mentions

Managed to eke out some time to catch up with some dancing on the silver screen this weekend. First off, can't argue with the first eliminations from Dancing With The Stars. The Mountainous Magician and the Glam Slam Winner made some improvements from Weak One, but, obviously, too little, too late. But, a surprise improvement made by the American Actress to jump off the endangered species list. But, the rich kept getting richer this past week as the Ice Princess and the R+B Crooner dazzled the judges and voting public. The first few weeks will be the elimination of the other obvious weaker elements. So, put the Talk Show Host, The Actor and the Broadway Star up as the next clear choices. Then, it becomes a crap shoot between if the remaining stars can improve fast enough to stave off eventual elimination. As the old joke goes: You don't have to be the fastest sheep when you're running from the wolves, you just can't be the slowest. And, unlike last season, you can catch up on or rewatch full episodes on-line at ABC.Com...Also, watched a movie channel presentation of the Stomp The Yard and, frankly, I was disappointed. The dancing was underwhelming to me, the acting wasn't authentic, there was no chemistry between the leads, the plot was too obvious. It was worth what we paid for it. Thank goodness for free offers! (But, I now think someone actually should owe me money for watching that film!)...Big thumbs up for Jabba Wa Keez win in Randy Jackson's Best Dance Krew in America competition on MTV. I actually went to the website and voted after I saw how easy it was. Just click a button. (Voted 5 times, so take that "millions of you voted" statement with a grain of salt!) And, found out a lot of CCDC Ballet IV's watched that show after a passionate debate interrupted the Friday class! Fortunately, that show will be back this summer according to the Host With The Second Most, Mario Lopez...Much better than Yo Mama Can't Dance over on Lifetime. Actually considered just erasing the unwatched episodes I've recorded, but, thought they might be better than another Total Gym infomercial the next time I'm looking to zone out in front of the tube...And, this Grupo Corpo show I keep checking out seems to be one endless modern dance. Occasionally interspersed with interesting partnering, but, overall boring after a while. But, I'll keep checking that one out...And, the last show I watched might be good for younger dancers called Dancing on Sunset on the Nick. It features simple choreography taught to an appreciative audience of what looked like middle to pre-middle schoolers. Could be a good intro to the art for youngsters.

03.28.2008: Cap City Capsules

Tickets now on sale for The Pajama Game, April 11-May 4, at The Playhouse. Tickets are $20-34 and may be purchased at The Playhouse ticket office, by phone at 515-277-6261, and online at Employees of the Sleep-Tite Pajama Factory are looking for a whopping 7-1/2 cent raise and they won't take no for an answer. Babe Williams is their feisty employee representative, but she may have found her match in the shop superintendent, Sid Sorokin. When the two get together, they wind up discussing a whole lot more than job actions! Fun and romance, song and dance; everything youre looking for in a musical! "The Pajama Game" is a delightful, sassy and fast-paced show featuring hit songs like Hernandos Hideaway, Hey There and Steam Heat.

The Playhouse production features Craig Petersen (Tuesdays With Morrie) as Sid and Andrea Markowski (Metamorphoses) as Babe. Others in the cast of 24 include Lenny Houts (The Full Monty), Susan M. Grozier (The Graduate), Jim Benda (Hello, Dolly!), Gregory Millar (The Full Monty), Preshia Paulding (Hank Williams: Lost Highway), Jennifer Lucht (Cats) and Amy Burgmaier (Chicago). The Pajama Game is directed by John W. Viars with music direction by Brenton Brown and choreography by Alison Shafer.

Drake University Theatre will present an adaptation of Macbeth that sets William Shakespeare's tragedy seven years in the future, following a series of terrorist attacks that destroy America's power supply.

After the attacks, the stockpile of processed energy runs out. The economy collapses, government disintegrates and starvation spreads. The breakdown of the established order enables a new leader with unbridled ambition to come to power.

Macbeth is a play about getting and keeping power, said Director and Associate Professor of Theatre Arts Michael A. Rothmayer. "Without a foundation, the people are vulnerable to the will of any new leader or idea that promises to improve the current state." Rothmayer said he would have balked at the idea of setting the play in the future prior to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. "Among the many lessons we have learned in this post-9-11 era," he said, "is that no nation, including ours, is untouchable or invulnerable."

In adapting Macbeth for the production, Rothmayer said his first priority was to make the play feasible for Drake's theatre department. "This meant cutting or combining roles in the original play, as well as changing the gender of certain characters," he added.

"Aside from necessary changes to personal pronouns, however, I decided not to update the words themselves. I have not altered references to proper names and places, either. Characters still speak Shakespeare's prose and pentameter. They still make references to Scotland and England. Changing the language, in my mind, goes beyond re-visioning the play and crosses too boldly into the territory of rewriting the play." Drake's production will open Thursday, April 3, and continue through Sunday, April 6, in the Performing Arts Hall of the Harmon Fine Arts Center.

Rothmayer will be the featured speaker at a pre-theatre dinner at 6 p.m. Friday, April 4, in Levitt Hall in Old Main, 2507 University Ave. The performance will follow at 8 p.m. The play contains mature content and may not be suitable for small children.

Tallgrass Theatre Company presents Steel Magnolias, Robert Harling's beloved story of six Louisiana women and their ups and downs as they unfold at the neighborhood beauty salon.

Fridays and Saturdays
April 18 – May 3

Rex Mathes Auditorium
1401 Vine Street

Sign-Language Interpretation will be available Saturday, May 3. More information available at, or contact

03.26.2008: Rave Reviews Keep Rollin' In!

CCDC's own reigning Giselle chimes in with this submission:
"I recently saw Giselle performed by the State Ballet of Georgia. Nina Ananiashvili is the artistic director for the company, and she also starred in the performance as well. She was breathtaking. Her movement quality was absolutely gorgeous, and her technique was phenomenal. I could not take my eyes off of her. I watched with awe not only admiring her inspiring dancing, but the innovations she had made in the ballet world as well. I read the program during the intermission, and could not believe all that this ballerina had accomplished. She is responsible for the reincarnation of the ballet company in her homeland of Georgia.

Although I have not seen many full length ballets, Giselle has been my favorite ballet for awhile now. I looked forward to seeing the show for week, anxious to be able to recognize the music and the choreography. A dance show has never gone by so fast for me. I was taken aback while watching it. It was just unbelievable to see the exact same steps and movement that we had done two years ago being performed by a professional company. The music all came back to me right away; instantly I remembered so much of what we had done. It was so awesome to see how the exact same steps can look so different depending on how you perform them and what you put into them. I knew all of the miming...thanks Emery! :)... which was also very neat. Surprisingly, many of the partnering sections were quite similar to what we did at CCDC despite not having a non-dancer perform them! Kudos to John...for learning all of that!

As far as I could tell, the male dancing was nothing special. I was not really all that impressed with the corps either. However, I will have to admit that whenever Nina was onstage my eyes were glued on her. The peasant pas was nothing like what we did at CCDC. There were two groups of three onstage, and I did not recognize the music or the movement. Frankly the stage at Hancher looked very crowded during that section. I would have liked to see only one group of three performing. I think they could have moved much more simply if they had more space. Giselle's variations were simply amazing; her 32 hops on pointe were effortless! The mad scene at the end of the first act showed Nina's true skill. She is an actress as well as a dancer. I had read previously about how much acting skill the role of Giselle took, and Nina lived up to this expectation. I was so caught up in what was going on in the mad scene; her portrayal was very eerie, which is exactly the way it should be.

In the second act, I thought the corps stepped it up a bit. (However) Myrtha was not what I expected; I wanted her character to be more striking and powerful. There was something missing from her performance. I did love seeing the corps perform in the second half though. They were very much dancing together. There was one of the lead wilis who was especially impressive. However, (for those dancers who remember this variation), she neglected to do the chasse' into penche' following an assemble'! She just did an arabesque! So there you go Mags, at least you had the guts to do the penche'! :) The famous chugs during this section were impressive. Arabesques were (almost) exactly at ninety and they were very much in sync with each other (which is hard to do in this section). The pas de deux was beautiful, and Giselle's variation following was flawless. I noticed especially her ability to have strong jumps while keeping her upper body extremely soft and almost frail. Nina had all the emotion that was needed, but I wasn't really feeling it coming from her partner. He did the best he could, I'm sure, trying to keep up with her!

The set was actually pretty amazing. I wasn't expecting something so intricate and beautiful, but it really was. There was one weird part where one wilis would appear lifted above the stage, on a crane like thing, and she would drop flowers down onto the stage. Whatever machine she was standing on was in the wing, but it just sort of leaned her so the audience could see her torso and head, and she would drop flowers. It was kind of strange, and i didn't think it really added anything to the show.

Although other parts of the show were still coming together, and the company is obviously not a prominent one in the ballet world, I was so inspired after seeing Nina perform as Giselle. Her grace and ability were astounding. Her arms were so lovely, and she had the solid technique to back it up. The emotion she gave off during the show captured me completely. It was quite awesome to see the exact movement that we had done being performed by this company. I guess I can't really describe that feeling. I guess it just kind of put everything in perspective, you know?..."

...and, because I'm insanely jealous for missing the performance, I sent this reply:
"Giselle! Excellent review! It's on the web already! The only thing I'd like you to expand upon later (when you have a moment) is: How would seeing a world-class performance like that affect the next time you prepare for the role? I know she sets an impossible standard to aspire to (and you wouldn't just wanna try to copy her!) ...but, are there nuances that might inspire you in this...and in other roles? Do some of the corrections and coaching we tried to get you to do make more sense now? Anything specific?

What'd you think of xCOEd's review?..."

03.25.2008: Nina Mania!

Guest reviews---like this one from the xCOEd always welcome!
"...I was fortunate enough to be in Chicago to see a Sunday matinee performance of Nina Ananiashvili in Don Quijote. Having never seen the ballet itself, all I knew of the story was that Don Q rode around with his buddy Sancho Panza “righting the wrongs” of the world – even if the “wrongs” were an old windmill. I could go into detail with some of the weird details that I include in my rendering of the tale, but I’m sure it’s a mix of movies, television, butchered short stories in Spanish class, and haphazard summaries in Lit classes.

The ballet opened with a charming animation of Don Q and Sancho Panza riding through the countryside coming across the town in which we see the opening scenes of the ballet where the Barber, Basilio, charms the Innkeeper’s daughter, Kitri, despite the Innkeeper’s pledge to marry his daughter off to someone else, published in my program as Ganache (and maybe I was hungry at the time but I couldn’t stop thinking about the chocolate ganache on top of Dove ice cream). The very first thing that I noticed of the ballet is that I expected the Basilio to be a bit more spectacular than he was. Especially with a Soviet company, whose country has produced many ballet greats – I expected more from the men, who didn’t deliver. Nina, however, seemed to make up for all of them. Where she finds the energy to be the artistic director and the principle ballerina, (and then stays with us for an hour after the show for a question answer session) at the age of something like 45 (you can never know for sure), with a child at home…it’s exhausting to type, I can’t imagine doing it – but I think it is testament to her dedication to her art, and the discipline that she must have learned at an early age. The thing I couldn’t stop talking about was how silent she was. She would take a “run, run, entrelace, to the knee” as though she was merely taking a step and lowering to the knee. At first, I couldn’t believe it, which was when I noticed that it wasn’t just the stage (the men landed with a sound). There was a real joy, and presentation to her dancing. Nothing was hesitant or blurry. When she was taking a fondu into a pique, you knew she was doing exactly what she meant to do, and going up to stay up (each pique arabesque you felt like she was really only coming down because the music kept going – not because she was going to fall.). The sauté de chat with an attitude back leg (name?) was so high and explosive. I really just sat in awe of her most of the show. I wasn’t terribly impressed with the men, like I said, and there was one female soloist that I found myself wanting to hurry up and get done. When I tried to figure out why, I think it was because everything seemed to stop a foot in front of her. Her energy didn’t carry, her line didn’t seem to be stretching and she didn’t seem to really be giving to the audience like Nina and the dancer who played Cupid. She was another one who really lit up the stage. I remember thinking to myself that it would be my type of part, because she bourreed and courrued (I know I messed up the spelling on that one) mostly – nothing terribly difficult, but it was just about her personality, and her happiness, and her lightness. In my opinion, she carried the scene – even if her weird wig thing made me cringe.

The other thing that I noted about the show how the “boleros”, the Spanish character dancers, danced throughout the whole ballet. I was able to see a bit of flamenco when I was in New York, and this really reminded me of that – that it was a lot of drama and flair, with faster footwork. They didn’t employ traditional flamenco shoes (which disappointed me), but they were all about the drama. The lady at one point paraded around the stage, stopped back to the audience and did a backbend, not touching the ground. The awkward “trick” was repeated several times. I’m not sure if that is a part of Don Q, but I’m pretty comfortable saying I don’t like it in there. For me, it reminded me too much of the “competition version” of Arabian in Nutcracker.

I learned through the talk-back after the show that Nina had grown up performing, even before starting ballet at age 10 she was doing commercials and plays. She was also a champion ice skater. I think that both afforded her a sense of stage presence early on, and allowed for her to also learn early on how to just keep going. The one time she could have been a bit thrown was during her fouettes when she came off her leg and double bounced a plie. It was amazing because it didn’t throw off her rhythm at all and she was able to make the corrections that she needed to regain her center and keep going. Had I not been watching her body, feet, arms and legs like a hawk, I never would have known by her face, and except for the double bounces her corrections were subtle but effective.

The costumes were nice, but I don’t think noteworthy, and the sets were okay – but nothing spectacular in relation to what I know is capable of going on that stage. However, the company itself has only been around for about 3 ½ years and has something like 37 pieces in it’s rep from classical ballets, to Balanchine to original works. Not bad for an artistic director that’s the principle ballerina who is still planning to perform with American Ballet Theatre.

This past weekend I also got to see what was billed as the Tchaikovsky Ballet and Orchestra (shortened name, I think, for the sake of us Americans) but is actually called throughout the program Perm Tchaikovsky Ballet and Orchestra. I found out that the ballet at both the school, and as a company has a long history, their first season in 1926 opened with Giselle. They performed Swan Lake this weekend, on the same stage that I saw Kirov perform Swan Lake last year. They had a lot to live up to, as far as I was concerned. Not only because of the Kirov performance, but also because Missy’s notes came flooding back to me as soon as the first notes hit. I was halfway expecting to see Shannon A____ and Katie H_____ run on the stage excited about their secret that the prince was coming. I was however, not at all greeted with the same kind of joy at all. The company was standing around when Benno entered – Siegfried’s friend (I had to laugh when Carol asked me if we had a Benno when we performed. When I said no and she asked why, I was sad to point out that it would require having more than one boy older than 10…someday.) Some of the other people I was with told me during intermission that it took them a bit to figure out that Benno wasn’t the “prince” because they thought he danced more and bigger than Siegfried did. I can’t disagree, I just told them that the white tights will always give away the prince. I enjoyed the pas de trios (danced by Benno, not Siegfried). The Catherine/Hanna variation was pretty much the same, but the other one was different than I recall. Overall in this scene I wanted to see a little more fun and flirtiness from the girls. But I guess they could have been going with a different interpretation. When the corps made their grande entrance I was disappointed. I heard Missy in my head pounding out the rhythm so we would clean up our feet going “up! Down! Foot! Foot! Foot!” and I didn’t see the kind of cleanliness that I would have expected. They didn’t seem to be intending to do the more “straight-leg” ballet runs, but then I didn’t really see a clear “other” way that they were attempting. Arms also seemed to be really lackadaisical, and as they were standing in position throughout the pas there was not any energy coming from them. I just kept thinking that they weren’t dancing up to their principal ballerina at all. The dancers’ individual lines were as blurry as they were throughout their formations. It just didn’t seem to be cohesive. Kirov was heads and shoulders above them.

The principal ballerina however, was Natalia Moiseeva who was spectacular. Her use of her arms, her upper body and her face was incredible. Her whole upper body just seemed to be fluid, while her legs were strong and sturdy (and turned out and hyperextended to make amazing lines). I found her to be very dramatic and inspiring both as Odette and Odile. She really showed how even a different tilt of the head can show a different character between Odette and Odile and putting a different energy into the movement can really effect everything. I didn’t remember seeing the principle at Kirov stunning me as much with different energies in Odette and Odile. I didn’t see as much fire from her Odile as I did in Moiseeva. This company also really impressed me by their thorough use of mime and acting to tell the story. I saw the Queen very clearly tell Siegried that he must find a bride regardless of love, and I felt Odile’s laughter as Odette’s frantic reflection appears. They have really taken their duty as actors and dancers very seriously.

Aside from Moiseeva’s performance, some nice tours from Benno and coupe jetes from Siegfried that makes me remember why they exist (because my practice attempts at them certainly make me want to forget they do!), it was pretty average. They had a live orchestra which was nice, but seemed slow at times. The costumes were at times not at all flattering (if you’re going to puff the sleeves, they shouldn’t be opaque material – it makes them all look like they have shoulders for earrings!). That being said, I liked that they didn’t end the ballet as did Kirov, by breaking Rothbart’s wing. The dramatic nature of the principals was much better served by Odette’s dramatic throw into his arms as he carries her to the lake, and their fantasied lives together..."

03.24.2008: March Media Madness!

Looks like another Mario putting the "oh!" back into DWTS VI! The young crooner putting some sexy sizzle into his ballroom routine last week. And, my sight unseen pick, Kristi Yamaguchi turning in some unprecedented scores so early in the season! She! Could! Go! ALL! The! Way! So, who's going to be the first to be voted off this week? On the guys side, it's a toss-up between the Mountainous Magician and the Early Toyota. As for the distaff dancers, actress Shannon Elizabeth may have alienated enough women voters to be the first female to exit. On the other foot, you can dress up the Glam Slam Winner, but, apparently you can't take her dancing! Look for Monica Seles to bow out in the early rounds of this tournament. But, after the first installment of Season Six, there's enough talent to make the dancing version of March Madness more Must C TV!...On, the other hand, messing with the DWTS formula may not pay off over on Lifetime. The show Yo Mama Can't Dance has been sitting in my DVR queue for awhile. But, unfortunately, the title says it all! The plus with even B-list so-called stars are they're proven charismatic and telegenic even if they can't dance. Putting professional dancers' parents on television may have sounded good on paper, but, in reality-tv, you have to sift through a lot of toads before you find one semi-worthy prince or princess...Over on MTV, my jaw dropped when Boston's Status Quo made it to the finals over Kaba Modern and the Jabba Wa Keez. I think focusing on the one brief mess-up by one dancer forced the Kaba Krew to pay at the polls and ultimately ousted them from the competition. The dance-off between the two krews was epic and that should've been the final face-off right there. I was hoping the judges would over-rule the voting public and put both groups through to the finals. But, apparently, they weren't listening to what I was yelling at the screen. Can't imagine why! And, I've been pulling for Jabba all along, but, I have to admit their final number was a bit of a let-down, lacking the creative innovation and inventiveness I'd come to expect and admire. I just hope the voting public considers their body of work instead of the lasting last impression. Voting, by the way, continues until the finale' this Thursday. C'mon, Chicago! Vote early, vote often!...I've also been recording and watching Grupo Corpo on Ovation. Actual performances by a contemporary Brazilian ballet company. Some excellent dancers in some see-worthy pieces. Extraordinary partnering in one duets section set to Bach. A note-worthy exception to the vast-waist land that is our normal run-of-the-mill American media!...And, can't wait for the return of SYTYCD!...Also, caught a lot of figure skating this past weekend. Interesting comments from the color commentators on turning and jumping skating technique. And, I found myself adapting those comments to try to get my workshop class students to turn better and jump higher! It's all grist for the mill!...Here's another example, I got to interview a potential Olympic gold-medal gymnast this past week as well. Shawn Johnson is a petite powerhouse with a potent personality. I should've anticipated she'd be so small, but, I was surprised at how tiny! I just wanted to slip her into my pocket and take her home! I forgot to ask her for her secret to success! But, I imagine she'd just say it's a result of hard-work and good coaching! what's your excuse?

03.19.2008: Trippin' Down Emery Lane!

One of the dancers I apparently used to train with tracked me down via this website. And, that triggered this exchange:
"...I took ballet with Nolan Dingman...and I was in some of your classes...He was the best ballet teacher I ever had, and I was so sad when he retired. I take ballet now recreationally, and I still remember things he used to say about specific exercises. He was absolutely awesome. His jokes were pretty funny too -- when you would do fouettes at the barre, you'd be sweating so much that sweat would fly off your body as you spun around, and he's say that's why they're called f-wet-tes because you got everyone else wet! And when we'd do serres, he'd say something about putting on a fringe so that we'd have "a surrey with a fringe on the top." Classic Mr. Dingman!..."

"...Your email came like a Bolt out of the Blue. Thanks for writing!

Well, nice to hear you're doing so well. As for me, it's been a long and winding road. (You can read a part of that story in the very first entries in the "2004 archives" at GoCCDC.Com) There are also entries in the archives called "Overheard in Class". Those are corrections I've been giving to my dancers in classes over the years. They might help you in your own training.

I'll also try to find the time to write down the set class that I occasionally use with my students. I call it the "program" and I used it to stay in shape during lay-offs when I was dancing professionally and couldn't find a class. It's not exactly Mr D's class, but, an amalgam of the best of his technique and other master teachers who influenced me after him: Homer Bryant, Larry Long among others.

I'm sad to have to be the one to tell you that Nolan Dingman passed away several years ago. Before that I had a chance to take class with him again in Orlando several times. I always tell anyone who'll listen that I owe my professional career to his guidance and I can still hear him and his corrections whenever I give or take a class. Thank you for your memories of him! It made me smile.

...What I remember about Mr D's Monday morning class was that it was very basic, very slow, very grueling... and tremendously helpful! I find I can't teach that way to this new generation. I'd lose students. So, I've had to disguise Mr D's the kids the dessert along with the vegetables..."

"...Thanks for writing back. I wasn't sure if you'd remember me at all since it's been so long!...

I read your "saga" in the archives as you suggested, and you're a very good writer! You really brought it all to life, and I think it's a great story for any aspiring dancer to read -- very honest and very realistic. I wanted to get into theatre at one point, and I had an acting teacher who said the same thing you did: "If there is anything else you'd be happy doing, do that." Because acting, like dance and probably any field of artistic expression, requires your whole heart in order to survive out there. It was inspiring, though, in reading your story to see how much your heart is into ballet. It's so wonderful that you have followed that through all the ups and downs.

What came after the saga ended?...

What you said about how you can't teach Mr. Dingman's barre class to your students these days (because you'd lose students) is so revealing. I didn't see it that way, but it's so true. The classes that my girls take seem so undisciplined compared to what I remember of Mr. D's classes, and their teacher, who is Russian and was trained in Russia, gets really frustrated with the students who don't pay attention or don't try. I remember Mr. D stopping class and lecturing us for 30 minutes or more -- about what I can't exactly remember! But it really got your attention. He was directing his lectures mostly at the professionally-bound students, and he would turn to me and my sister standing there looking very serious and taking it all in, and he'd say something like, "Look at these girls, they're turning green because they're taking this so seriously, and they only take class in the summertime!"

If you can put together a list of exercises that you do in your "program," that would be awesome. And if you know of a good CD to go with it, that would be great too.

Do you remember the name of Mr. D's daughter (I think she ran the office in his studio) or any other family member? I'd like to try to get in touch just to express my appreciation for what he gave to us all..."

03.18.2008: Rambling (p)Rose!

So, I'm anxiously awaiting some promised reviews of international ballet superstar Nina Ananiashvili's recent performances in the area with the State Ballet of Georgia (And, btw, that's "Georgia" as in the former Soviet state of Georgia, not the one Ray Charles sings about, the current member of the lower 48!o) And, one current and one former CCDC dancers caught two of those performances: xCOEd watched her in Don Q and Giselle observed, what else?, Giselle. Based on preliminary conversations, both were VERY impressed with Ananiashvili. None more so than G, who says her own performance in that role came rushing back to her when she heard the music. She says much of the choreography she learned was exactly what SBG performed, but, there were some puzzling differences. Music she never heard before for the Peasant Pas de Trois, for example. And, there's such a big difference between watching a performance on video or on YouTube.Com and live in person, breathing the same air, grooving on the beyond virtual-vibez. But, I'll stop stealing their thunder and leave more details to xCOEd and Giselle. Hopefully, (hint, hint) those personal pointes of view will be coming quickly!...OK, I watched four of the six guys perform in the premiere of season six of Dancing With The Stars last night. I'll watch the rest and the girls later. So far, two of the guys stand out as immediate contenders: the Spanish Soap Star and the NFL Defensive End. If the Latino Lover would only stop hunching his shoulders, he could be a worthy successor to Mario Lopez. And, if the Miami Dolphin, can start "selling the sizzle", he could be the next Emmit Smith! I pumped a fist and roared my approval when he looked at the camera and said "real men do dance". Of course, prancing around in a pink tutu during rehearsals didn't help fight any sterotypes! I think the distaff star dancers have their work cut out for them tonight...and I'm sure they had their eyes opened at some of the male opening moves. But, poor Kym Johnson! If she had Jason Taylor instead of monstrous magician Penn Jillette, she might have a chance. He's just not sharp enough despite his last name!o) And, the same problem besets Julianne Hough! Adam Carolla has an engaging personality, but, not much body awareness! This may be Cheryl Burke's best chance to become a three-time winner. Also, the stars may be aligning for Edyta Sliwinska to become known for more than how little clothing she can get away with wearing while rehearsing and performing. If that poor shy little girl only had a little confidence in her appearance!o) Welcome to DWS Season Six!

03.17.2008: Appropriately Irish Thoughts...

...I just don't care about apathy anymore.

03.17.2008: Media Musings...

...Jabba Wa Keez (sp?) are my pick to win Randy Jackson's Best Dance Crew in America competition currently on MTV! Their performances are always sharp, always inventive and creative and always, slyly, humorous! (Their "car" and "combo" creation this last piece was spot-on! And, remember their "floating man" assignment a few weeks ago?) And, Break Sk8 has left the building as I predicted last week. But, not before giving Kaba Modern the scare of their dancing lives. Apparently, the "hand jive" tribute to the Gloved One getting little love from the voting public last week. It was one of the group's weaker efforts in an overall strong competition. And, one of the Kabaz had to fight back tears when judge Li'l Mama pointed out she spaced on some of the choreography...and could be the cause of their ouster from the competition. But, she was also quick to praise the recovery, saying "if you mess up, just smile and come back quick". Always good advice. (I'd add "fuggedaboudit" as quickly as possible. Don't let rue and regret over one mistake lead to another. Or another. Nip that vicious cycle in the bud ASAP!) And, as judge and ex-boy bander JC Chasez pointed out all the crews had trouble with the assignment to hip-hoppify broadway dance. Wonder how that previously- eliminated group that combined hip-hop-and-broadway would've handled the task. And, judge Shane Sparks says hip-hoppified jazz is "the future of Broadway". Apparently, he's been hired as the choreographer of a revival on the "great, white way". My pick would be to have Jabbaz and Kaba face off for the final vote. But, that probably means it won't happen. America's voting public rarely agrees with my opinion...And, the return of Dancing With the Stars is tonight. Another reminder: I time-shift that competition to watch at my leisure, so don't tell me what happened! It should be safe to bring it up this weekend. But, I might be able to watch it in dribs and drabs during the work-week since my teaching schedule lightens up during spring break. My guess as always the first show is: the good-looking, but, bad dancing female super-model is the most vulnerable. Unless ESPN's Kenny Mane competes again!o)

03.14.2008: Snow Daze

Message from Melissa:
Well, it's been an extremely hard long winter and I am hoping it is about over. This year's weather has caused more cancellations then ever before. When I make up the schedule each year I put in one extra week of classes that you do not pay for to accommodate snow days but Tuesday has not been a lucky day. Due to lack of time and studio space, we ask that Ballet 1, 2, 3 please come to one of their other nights to make up.

  • Ballet 1 Any Saturdays 10:30a-11:30am

  • Ballet 2 Any Saturday 12:30-2:00pm

  • Ballet 3 Any Monday 5:45-6:45pm or Thursday 6:30-7:30

Other classes are only offered once per week so we are scheduling some make-ups. Also Alissa is out of town on Saturday March 15th so I've added a day for this as well.

  • Sunday, March 30th
    12-1:00pm Lyrical B/C
    (make up for 1 class)
  • Friday, April 4th
    7:30-8:30 Modern &Jazz A
    (Saturday make up)
  • Friday, April 11th
    7:30-8:30 Jazz A
    (2-Tuesday Jazz)
  • Sunday, April 13th
    12-1:00pm Modern C
  • Friday, April 18th
    7:30-8:30 Lyrical A
    (make up for 2 Tues classes)
  • Sunday, April 27th
    12-1:00pm Lyrical B/C

03.13.2008: Ur Maternal Unit Can't Terpsichore!

So, despite the best efforts of our very own in-house spokesmodel, Ms MediaCom, we've finally cut the cable and switched to satellite TV with HD-DVR capability. First, let me say that HD TV will spoil you for anything else. You don't realize how blurry analog video is until you toggle back-and-forth between a regular and a hi-def channel. It's like getting glasses after a lifetime of myopia! More on that later, but, let me say already I'm really looking forward to watching a ballet on Blue-Ray in 7.1 channel sound! The DVR is also a welcome jete' forward for us into late 20th Century technology. No more endlessly searching or rewinding or tossing and turning-over old videotapes! The satellite guide also contains a "search" function. But, the search for shows under "ballet" wasn't very fruitful. Turned up a Chinese Language Program and a Spanish documentary. A search for "dance" brought up a program I'd idly thought about recording and watching: Your Mama Can't Dance on Lifetime. And, no sooner said than done with the DVR, just high-light and click and it's in the queue! So, I watched what was apparently the second show in the series over the last few nights and a lot of it was as mediocre as you might expect. The pros doing a lot of flips and tricks and turns. The moms stolidly trying to prance about mostly waving their arms around! Lotsa mamas apparently actually can't dance very well! If you're not familiar with the show, professional dancers team up with their moms or dads in an competition for a large cash prize. But, there was one performance I watched that managed to transcend the genre. The piece illustrated the relationship a mother has for her child, the great love, sacrifice and devotion beyond reason. The mother wasn't trained, but, the emotion behind the motion was tremendously moving. That's the goal that even trained, professional dancers struggle to attain during their performances. This ordinary mom became extraordinary when the whole became greater than the sum of the art. And, the subtext is that there is no such thing as an "ordinary mom". That the great dance of life that is parenting a child is in itself an extraordinary work of art. It just proves your Mama can dance...and is dancing well right now. You are the proof! Be the proof.

03.11.2008: Rarified Heir

Here's a story about a rare opportunity to watch a super-star on the international ballet scene without making a run for the border:
"...The State Ballet of Georgia will perform Giselle at Hancher at 7:30 p.m. today with roughly 80 dancers, an elaborate set requiring two days to put in place, and the legendary Nina Ananiashvili staring as Giselle...."
Read the rest from the University paper. I'm not sure where the writer got the misconception that wilis are "vampiric", but, that's what you get when non-dancers attempt to write about dance.

So, since I can't make tonight's performance...and because I didn't want to read a review from a non-dancer after the fact, I wrote to our own CCDC alumnus who danced the role herself:

"...Hey, Giselle! How about giving us your unique perspective of watching Nina Ananiashvili perform Giselle after you've performed the same lead role? I assume you're going tomorrow night? And, then, answer this question: would you approach the role differently after seeing an international superstar's interpretation? Would it be more intimidating? Are there any workshops the State Ballet of Georgia is offering for University dancers? Are you going to be able to sneak in to any rehearsals or company classes? (Used to do that all the time when SFB came to Blaisdell!) Just a few thoughts would be great...and no pressure or anything, but, anything you can share will go immediately to the website!o)..."
...and just got a note back from Giselle. She says she's going to tonight's performance (even had to reschedule a test to make sure she could attend) and she's promising a short review/reaction sometime this weekend. She's also eager to get back into town for spring break and see all her old friends! (...maybe she'll even be able to spare a few minutes with an old broken-down ballet teacher who taught her once or twice...)

03.11.2008: In The Inbox

eMail update for those of you who remember Lady Merry de la Fair Land:
"Hi guys!

I just thought I'd drop you a line and see how you are.

I'm doing pretty good. College is . . . well it's still school but it's a little bit more fun than high school : )

I've found a new love, lindy hop! I'm going to school in the twin cities area and theres a pretty good swing community here. We have a swing club at school and there are several swing clubs in the cities.

I'm excited to see the recital this year. I've never seen La Bayadere before!..."

If you'd like to get reconnected with the Merry Lady de la Fair Land, I've got her eMail address available.

03.07.2008: Cap City Capsules

Artists, arts organizations, schools and other community groups applying for Major Grant funding from the State Arts Council have until April 1 to submit applications and support materials.

Grant applications and support materials are due in the Arts Council offices by 4:30 p.m. April 1. Grant applicants must visit the website and use eGRANT, Arts Council’s online grant application and submission system. In addition, hard copies of support materials, work samples and the service contract must be received in the Arts Council office by 4:30 p.m. on April 1.

Projects submitted for the April 1 deadline must occur during Arts Council’s fiscal year 2009 that begins July 1, 2008 and ends June 30, 2009.

Arts Council Major Grants are designed to provide financial assistance for projects developed to bring excellence in the arts to all Iowans. The program emphasizes artistic excellence, service to Iowans, and solid project planning and implementation. Applicants may request up to $10,000 but no more than 50 percent of the project’s total expenses. Applicants must match the amount requested.

Arts Council Major Grants are available in the following categories:

  • Artist Grants

  • Artists in Schools and Communities Residency Grants

  • Arts in Education Grants

  • Conference, Workshop & Forum Grants

  • Folk & Traditional Arts Grants

  • Organization Grants

  • Public Art Grants

For fiscal year 2008, requests for Arts Council Major Grants outpaced available funds. Arts Council received 144 applications requesting nearly $1.2 million in major arts and organizational grants and awarded 39 grants totaling $255,000.

Art about the State of Things, an exhibition featuring the work of 30 Drake University students, will be on view in the Weeks Gallery through March 16.

Kelly Donovan, a junior from Rockford, Ill., and Nicki Werner, a junior from St. Louis, organized the show that will feature a variety of art including paintings, sculptures and an animated audio presentation from both art and non-art majors.

Donovan said the theme of the show comes from issues students are talking about and facing including the environment, colonialism and political issues. "The issues are what people want to talk about and the students' point of view on them," Donovan said. The exhibition is free and open to the public.

The Arts Business Institute will hold a workshop April 11-13 at the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center. The nonprofit Arts Business Institute serves crucial, common need in the arts, craft making and gallery communities – practical business education for creative entrepreneurs.

The Midwest Arts Business Institute Workshop offers two tracks: one for galleries and one for individual artists/craftspeople. The track for galleries will target the business needs of gallery owners and will cover the topics of pricing, merchandising, promotional materials, successful promotions and expanding inventory. For individual artists/craftspeople, the workshop will target the needs of artists and will include the topics of salesmanship, wholesale 101, How a Jury Perceives Your Slide, Developing Your Product Line, Relationships with Galleries and Developing Promotional Materials.

ABI coordinates workshops through partnership with regional arts and economic development organizations throughout the U.S. and Canada in order to maximize the perception, profitability and professionalism of artists and gallery owners. The organization offers educational workshops designed specifically for a particular region, with individual mentoring sessions, and the opportunity to ask questions and network with ABI faculty and staff as well as other artists.

Click here for workshop registration information.

03.06.2008: Mo Media Mentions

I remember coming home late from a rehearsal back when I was training at the University in the previous century. Dog-tired, I flipped on the tube to pass some time before sawing logs. What I recall watching was an old western, but, the plot involved a girl who was training as a ballerina. I remember yelling, "Don't do it!" at the screen when the old grand dame unveiled a pair of pointe shoes to the young ballerina-in-training. And, there's always been an awkward treatment of dance as an element on television shows. For example, I always used to claim that "everyone's a dancer, the difference is the quality of their training". That is until a Will and Grace episode ruined that one for me. One of the main characters was inspired to some really bad dancing after being told "everyone's a dancer"! But, there were some hilarious moments on W&G involving dancing as well, before that show became irrelevant as well as irreverent: Grace lip-synching a Britney Spears' Hit Me Baby One More time while mimicking the video, Kevin Bacon teaching Will the pivotal dance sequence from Footloose! And, who can forget the character Elaine on a Seinfeld classic? Shamelessly contorting on the dancefloor oblivious to all the embarassment she was causing her friends! But, fast forward now to the current century, I was watching the Sarah Connor Chronicles (Um...because Public Television was in the middle of pledge week? Because History Channel was all old stuff?) and the new terminator, actress Summer Glau, is apparently a trained dancer. Her solo at the end of the episode was charming and shot well. If her expression was a "little robotic", it's because her character is a little robot! But, previous to that some non-dancing script writer and editor conspired to illustrate a pas de chat with a dancer performing a pirouette. (You can catch the replay at Fox.Com.) So, I was a little ambivalent. On the one hand, I liked the fact that a real trained dancer/actress got screen time to perform a graceful solo. But, on the other hand, I don't appreciate misinformation and dance stereotypes being broadcast to millions. I felt like yelling at the screen "Don't do it!" Hey, for any of you aspiring directors, I'm available as a dance consultant on your next project! (And, ask me sometime about my intense distaste of casting non-dancers in dance movies, ie Julia Stiles!)

03.06.2008: Arts Education

The State Arts Council will host a National Endowment for the Arts grants workshop Saturday intended to help nonprofit organizations learn more about federal arts funding opportunities and how to apply for NEA grants.

John Ostrout, NEA’s director of state and regional partnerships, will present the workshop 10-11:30 a.m. Saturday at the State Historical Building. The workshop is free and open to the public. Free parking is available in the parking garage at Grand and Pennsylvania avenues, across the street from the State Historical Building.

The workshop will include a discussion of federal grant opportunities for projects that:

  • provide hands-on learning in the arts for children and youth (pre-K to Grade 12) in schools, arts organizations and community centers
  • help preserve cultural traditions through documentation, publications, exhibits, apprenticeships and conservation
  • provide access to the arts in underserved communities
  • involve the creation or presentation of works of art, including performances, exhibitions and festivals.

Auditions for the play Holes will be held at The Playhouse on Sunday, Mar. 9, at 6:00 PM, and Sunday, Mar. 16, at 6:00 PM. All auditions are open to the public; no one is precast.

Holes has roles for 3 men and 3 women, ages 16+, and 6 boys, ages 11-16. Performances are May 2-18. Holes is directed by Kathy Pingel (Charlotte's Web).

Holes is the story of Stanley Yelnats, an inherently unlucky kid whose family lives under a gypsy curse that brings them perpetual misfortune. Stanley is wrongly accused of stealing a pair of sneakers and sentenced to Camp Green Lake. There, campers are forced to dig 5-foot by 5-foot holes in the ground to build character. As they work, the boys unearth the secrets of Camp Green Lake and the warden's curious fascination with legendary bandit Kissin' Kate Barlow.

03.05.2008: Let Me Say This About That!

At first blush, it seems as if I'll have to agree with everyone who's "anointing" Kristi Yamaguchi as the prime contender when Dancing With The Stars quick-steps into the primetime line-up later this month. I'm just not sure how well the pair of two-time winners will do: professionals Cheryl Burke and Julianne Hough. Their partners don't seem to be mirror-ball material. As usual, it's a safe bet to assume the models (especially the females) will be the first to go. Lolling around at a photo-shoot or being "fierce" on the runway not usually the best preparation for this competition. Also, generically, the athletes and some of the actors have done well in previous years. Here's hoping Kym Johnson finally gets some raw material she can fashion into a winner like she did down-under!...Okay, I hesitate to admit it but, a dance show coming on Lifetime looks interesting in promos. It's Your Mama Can't Dance!. If you haven't caught these teasers yet, professional dancers partner up with their mothers to form a competition team. Just wondering if there are any moms with a background in dance who might have a "leg up" in this one. If it's dancin', I'll be watchin! ...I'm also time-shifting the MTV Best Dance Krew Kompetition! Some strong contenders already emerging. Kabo Modern and the masked marvels look to be the last ones dancing. Not sure how much longer Gr8 Sk8 can pull off their schtick. And, Fysh 'n Chyx daze may be numbered...Also, a note for everyone dropping off, picking up or stopping into CCDC over the next month or so. The endless winter of '08 has caused our smallish parking lot to become even more cramped. Don't be the one who causes or suffers another fender-bender because of the ice and huge snow banks. Don't be reluctant to park or stop further away during congested times when classes let out or begin. Just be careful walking...and, always err on the side of caution where kids are concerned!

2.29.2008: Summer 4Ray?

Here's an idea I got in my e-mail inbox recently for all you artists with too much money and too much time on their hands: (Remember! Caveat Emptor!)

August 1-28, 2008
Malpils, Latvia

Performers Village is a four-week course – production of a performance open to professional actors, dancers, singers, musicians as well as directors, choreographers, playwrights, scriptwriters and stage designers from different countries, creative genres, techniques and styles. Film makers, photographers, body painters, mask makers and multimedia artists will also find a role in this process.

PROGRAMME: The programme is designed as the intensive consecutive training process of mounting the performance. As a result of practical training, discussions and rehearsals all participants will become the co-authors of the work-in-progress under the artistic direction of Sergey Ostrenko. The Village 08 is an opportunity for professional performers to find new devices for realization of creative ideas together with colleagues from different parts of the world.

CERTIFICATION Participants who successfully complete the course have opportunity to receive the Certificate of Participation and the video supplement of The Village 08 process.

REGISTRATION: To submit an application, candidates should send the following materials in Word format to

  • Letter of motivation stating the title, dates and location of the event (about 250 words)

  • Detailed CV

  • Latest head shot and additional photo materials (JPG format)

Participation fee: 960 EUR if payment is made before March 20th.

The fee covers participation in all events of the programme, accommodation from August 1st to 28th (twenty seven nights), three meals per day - breakfast, lunch, dinner and tea/coffee breaks. Places are limited, the registration will be closed once the group is full.

If you'd like to know more.

02.27.2008: Web Lynx Reprowls!

Preview of a company that's touring through the area:
"The government would not be able to pay the the company for two months. But she wanted it to be performing again by then. Are you willing? she asked, knowing that the shabbily dressed dancers did not have enough food and worked in studios where blown-out windows let the winter in..."
Complete article at the New York Times

Leap Year Fun:
"We asked ballet dancers the important questions: How do you do it? How high can you get? And, fashion-wise, are leg warmers still out?"
Read the rest from the Watertown News!

Trying something new:
"The scene is so familiar - two clumsy...reporters emerge from the newsroom and attempt to brave a new challenge: flamenco dance lessons. We've mastered the Soulja Boy Tell 'Em shimmy, Michael Jackson's moonwalk, the Macarena and the Harlem shake - so grab your castanets. We'll see you on the dance floor."
There's more from The Daily Iowan

02.26.2008: Better L8 Than Never!

I ran into 2K2M's Maternal Unit the other day and had to learn from her about the latest news to add to the summer audition confirmation list: Apparently, 2K2M's been holding out on me, she's been notified of acceptance to, not one, but, two, TWO (tutu?) Joffrey Ballet Summer Workshops! She got into the Joffrey Midwest Workshop as well as the more prestigious and highly competitive New York location! So, kudos to the 2K2Mster!. She and the family's got a difficult decision now to make between Milwaukee Ballet and the two Joffrey Workshops. Can't go wrong with any of them. But, let this be a lesson to all you auditioners: you can be shy in real life (but, why???) but, don't hide your ballet under a bushel basket when it comes to sharing your successes with the world (wide web)! Congrats to the 2K2M and all the CCDC students who auditioned for national programs the last few weeks!

02.25.2008: St8 Of The Art!

Press release about a local artistic opportunity:
Tonight, Lt. Governor Patty Judge will hold the first Artists Showcase at the State Capitol. The event, which will be held every four months at the Statehouse, will feature unique works from different artists around the state.

“The arts are vital to our future,” said Lt. Governor Judge. “They attract new businesses and people, bring in tourists from across the country, and foster a greater sense of identity to the place in which we live. As Lt. Governor, I am committed to bringing new attention and greater awareness to the arts, and this program is one way to do just that.”

Lt. Governor Judge has made promotion of the arts one of her top priorities during her term in office.

The Artists Showcase will be held once every four months in the Lt. Governor’s Formal Office in the State Capitol, and will feature works of art submitted by local artists. Selected by the Lt. Governor, the art will be on display throughout the Governor’s Office until the next Showcase.

The inaugural event will highlight the works of Artists Brent Houzenga and Noemi Oyarzabal, and will be on display until June.

Brent Houzenga currently works as Assistant Director of the Ankeny Art Center. He uses antique photos and discarded materials to create his pieces of art.

Noemi Oyarzabal is a painter from Clive who moved here from her native country, Argentina. She works at Bankers Trust, and is an active member of HER (Hispanic Educational Resource), Unidos, and serves on the Latino Festival board. Her work has been exhibited throughout the region.

“The State Capitol is a work of art in and of itself,” said the Lt. Governor. “Each year, countless individuals visit this building to see the beauty of our heritage. Now, they will have a chance to glimpse into the art of the present and future. I encourage everyone to take a moment and come to the Capitol to see for themselves the rich artistic talent that exists here.”

The event will also feature performances by the Gateway Dance Troupe, a local organization dedicated to promoting diversity through movement, and Highway Sigadi, a senior vocal performance major from Simpson College who was born and raised in South Africa.

The Artists Showcase is free and open to the public.

02.22.2008: A Star Is Bourne!

Okay, so apparently I'm already available on iTunes and didn't realize it. I'm a newbie to the entire iPod Universe and, as I've written earlier, I'd been considering offering dance-oriented Ballet Podcasts. Something like Tip o' De Day, Class o' de Week, Exercise o' de Year or even Intro to Pas de Deux, (Do the Deux?). But, apparently my IT guy at work beat me to the punch. I'd been instructed to offer longer-form news podcasting on my day-job website for the last couple years. What I didn't know was that it automatically up-loaded to the iTunes Universe. If you have an iPod or other MP3 player and want to check up on what I do during the day besides think about what I'm going to teach that night, search for Statehouse Notebook and Best Bets at iTunes. Warning! Sleep inducing for all except for policy wonks, radio and audio professionals and political junkies. And, occasionally we deal with mature topics. But, it's free!o) Well, it's Friday! That means back to work on the next installment! (And, I've been told to learn how to upload video, so watch for those video podcasts, coming soon to a media player near you!o)

02.20.2008: Cry 4 Help

I was assigned to cover the annual Culture Appreciation Day at the statehouse earlier this week. It's part of my other life as a meek, mild-mannered reporter. Normally, I manage to keep this dancing life seperate from my other not-so-secret identity, but, occasionally, worlds collide. CAD is the yearly effort by the state's arts community to convince lawmakers to spare a few more shekels for arts education and support. (I used to directly benefit from that funding when I was a member of the now de-funked local professional ballet company.) There were photographs, paintings, construction and collage and fans of the opera on display under the rotunda. Attendance suffered this year because of the crippling weekend winter storm. I was not-so-patiently waiting for the Governor to show up to sign memoranda of understanding with the newest members of the state's "Great Places Program". But, before it began, an announcement was made that a "dance exhibition" would be taking place in the West Wing of the Capitol. Unfortunately, as I was watching the couple make a valiant, good-hearted, but, inept attempt at performing a tango, the critic in me was complaining they were making a good case for a desperate need for more arts funding! Part of me was pained, the other part was saying at least they were putting their art out there! And, that before I complain, I should participate! Fortunately, no one asked me what I thought even when the couple exuberantly offered a free mini-lesson to anyone in the crowd! So, I kept my mouth shut and my snarky comments to myself. Two of the artists in the crowd took them up on their offer and I refrained from blurting out a "myopic leading the short-sighted" reaction out loud!o) Don't get me wrong, though! I'm not a dance snob that thinks "I am a trained professional! Kids, don't try this at home!" I LOVE when I go to weddings and see the old ladies out on the dance floor, grinning from ear-2-ear, out-dancing and out-funning the younger generation. Just don't represent yourself as expert when you're not! But, the serious point that was trying to be made shouldn't pass unnoticed. This state ranks a paltry 45th in per capita arts funding! 45th and sinking according to the president of the state cultural coalition. Tom Small told me that the Governor's proposed budget would most definitely drop our dismal ranking even further. What can we do? Talk to your elected officials, but, also think about making up in "sweat equity" what politicians fail to deliver. Volunteer, attend, participate, take classes, consider becoming a patron of the arts! Write a check if you can. Buy some art you like. Show up for shows! Support your local arts organization and artists. Attend a local performance as well as the big touring productions. Because if you stop, don't worry, we all WILL go away!o(

02.19.2008: More Stars In Ur Eyez

(Courtesy PEOPLE Magazine) The twelve celebrity dancers stepping into the ballroom on season six of ABC's Dancing With the Stars found out who their professional partners will be on Tuesday. The announcement was made live a day after the celebrity cast was revealed on Monday night's Dance War finale. Notably absent from the pro list is fan favorite and two-time finalist Maksim Chmerkovskiy, who confirmed to PEOPLE Saturday that he was taking this season off. New to the cast is Chmerkovskiy's pal, mambo champion Fabian Sanchez. Returning favorites this season are two-time DWTS champs Cheryl Burke and Julianne Hough, as well as Edyta Sliwinska, the only pro to compete in all six seasons of the show.

Here's the lineup of who's paired with whom:

  • Olympic Gold Medal skater Kristi Yamaguchi and Mark Ballas

  • Actress Priscilla Presley and Louis van Amstel

  • NFL star Jason Taylor and Edyta Sliwinska

  • Actor Cristian de la Fuente and Cheryl Burke

  • R&B singer Mario and Karina Smirnoff

  • Oscar-Award-winning actress Marlee Matlin and Fabian Sanchez

  • Illusionist Penn Jillette and Kym Johnson

  • TV and Radio Personality Adam Carolla and Julianne Hough

  • Actress Shannon Elizabeth and Derek Hough

  • Actress Marissa Jaret Winokur and Tony Dovolani

  • Former Tennis Champ Monica Seles and Jonathan Roberts

  • Actor Steve Guttenberg and Anna Trebunskaya

The cast all met for the first time in Chicago on Tuesday to tape a special DWTS-themed episode of Oprah Winfrey's talk show, which will air on Thursday, Feb. 21. Joining the new cast on Oprah will be previous Dancing winners Kelly Monaco, Drew Lachey, Emmitt Smith and Helio Castroneves. Dancing's season six premiere kicks off on March 17.

02.19.2008: Wishing On A Star

(Courtesy Associated Press) -- Priscilla Presley, Kristi Yamaguchi and Marlee Matlin are catching dance fever. They are among the dozen celebrities who will compete on the next season of Dancing With the Stars, ABC announced Monday night. The other contestants are Adam Carolla, Shannon Elizabeth, Steve Guttenberg, Monica Seles, Penn Jillette, Mario, Jason Taylor, Cristian De La Fuente and Marissa Jaret Winokur. Dancing With The Stars returns March 17.

02.18.2008: Rite This About That!

The prestigious Pacific Northwest Ballet School of Seattle apparently liking what they saw from CCDC dancers at a recent audition. SFBoy proudly reports he was accepted with a full tuition scholarship. Margot du Armaund was also accepted once again to the PNB School. But, instead of being placed in Level 4 like she was last year, this time she was placed in Level 7, just one below their top student level! And, 2K2M says she was accepted to the Tulsa Ballet School as well! So, needless to say we're busting buttons here at CCDC! (No, no, don't bother to thank us! Now, I can die a happy, but, lonely death knowing that you all are dancing so well!) But, what about Princess SarAurorah, the Sleepy Cutie? She hadn't heard from PNB when last we left her, but, they'd have to be conducting the auditions with a white cane and seeing-eye dog not to like La Sonambula! (That reminds me...I'll write sometime about the time a young Coleen and I were asked to participate in a ballet...for the blind! I know it sounds like that classic Saturday Night Live skit with Eddy Murphy, but, this really happened to me! Oh, and how about that time in Chicago when I partnered Katy K in a thermograph photo shoot? There may still actually be a series of thermograph pictures of us floating around in a company catalogue someplace. Ah, good times!)

02.13.2008: What's In A Name?

The Shiney One beaming even more than usual before class the other day. Shiney showed me her letter of acceptance to the Tulsa Ballet Summer Intensive. It was her first and I told her it would probably wouldn't be the last! Shiner is the sister of a former student who has one of my favorite nicknames, the Ashey Wren. And, while we're on the subject of noms de plume, protecting our minors from the dangers of the internet is a big concern of mine, so, I rarely use proper names on this CCDC dance and ballet blog. If you know the students, you should be able to figure out who they really are. If you don't know them, too bad for you!o) But, having said that here are a few of my favorites: Sylkk, The Shakka who suffered from en loco parentis her senior season. She's the one we also refer to as Myrtha because of her lasting last casting. Of course, there's Giselle and Odette and Sleepy Cutie who constantly stars in her own version of Sonambula!o), also known as Princess SarAurorah II. (The original Princess SarAurorah the First has graduated from the CCDC program.) Sleepy Cutie's not the only one with more than one name, there's the world-famous Ekaterina W00tang, also infamous as Katya de la Clan W00tang! Margaruite du Armaund references the famous ballet, of course, as well as Dame Margot Fonteyn who put her indelible stamp on the role. GUFS is short for GitUrFaShawn, who will now be forever known as SFBoy, the former SABoy. We can't forget the Nutcracker Princess. Some of the newer nicknames that have started making news recently are The Cardigan Girl, The 2K2Mster, Kabbage Patch Kid and Sydwina, The Knee Marker. And, you can expect to hear more soon from Princess Uzbeki, MMMadd Skyllz and Chester, The NRGizer Bunny! There's one nickname that gets passed around depending on attendance and it's one you really don't want to hear: The Perfect Stranger! The Dread Sorceress Rothbarta veering dangerously close to that territory recently. And, here's the newest nickname that's related to one of my favorite nicknames: The Mandolin Robber's Daughter and her sister, The KwikNKurly Brown Flash. That's based on her rare and brief appearances at CCDC, blink and you'll miss Brie Flash!o) Hey, Kurly nice to hear you're still alive. But, it's going to be a short life if your teachers don't start seeing you early and often!o)

02.12.2008: The Answer 4ur John Boy Jones!

Richard Thomas, star of Twelve Angry Men now playing at The Civic Center, will visit Drake University Friday, Feb. 15, for an Inside the Actors Studio-style discussion.

Deena Conley, Drake assistant professor of theatre arts, will moderate the talk, which will take place at 3 p.m. in the Performing Arts Hall in the Harmon Fine Arts Center. This event is free and open to the public.

Thomas plays Juror Eight in the Betts Broadway Series Presentation of Twelve Angry Men which runs through Saturday, Feb. 17. For more information about the show and for ticket information, visit

Known for his Emmy Award-winning turn as John-Boy in The Waltons, Thomas recently appeared on Broadway in A Naked Girl on the Appian Way. Other stage credits include As You Like It, Democracy, The Stendahl Syndrome, Tiny Alice, Love Letters, The Front Page, Fifth of July and The Seagull.

He has also performed in a variety of classical roles around the country including Hamlet, Richard III, The Count of Monte Cristo and Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream. In addition, Thomas has starred in more than 40 films for television.

2.11.2008: Viral Video

eMail from CCDC Modern/Jazz/Pilates/Yoga Instructor and diehard Hawkeye Fan Alissa H:
"Didn't know if you had seen this video or not yet. It looks like the same company as the other video you posted on the website.



2.8.2008: Q de Applause!

Okay! Now that we've dug out from under all that "frozen sunshine" that fell this week, let's try and update the latest from the Summer Intensive Audition Trail. First, kudos to Sidwin, the Knee Marker Girl, in her first audition attempts: 242 with acceptances to ABT and Joffrey. Just goes to show ya never know. Apparently Knee Marker thought she didn't do well at the ABT audition, so was surprised to learn they liked what they saw. Big decision time for the family. Are you prepared emotionally and financially to lose your daughter for three-to-six weeks? And, big pat o' de back to Katya W00tang for yet another acceptance! This time to the Milwaukee Ballet Summer Session. And, Princess SarAurora adding another impressive notch to her pointe shoe with a letter of acceptance from the Atlanta Ballet Summer Intensive. Not only the first CCDC student accepted there and admitted to the highest level, but, wait-listed to their PreProfessional Division, the highly competitive fast-track to a possible company contract! That's all I can recall right now...And, don't complain if I don't mention you and your impressive achievements! Leave us a note or whisper in our ears and let us celebrate your glam dance impressiveness fabulosity!o)

2.8.2008: Modern Updates

eMessage from CCDC Summer Intensive Guest Faculty Kathleen Hurley:
Hurley & Dancers updates

You are invited to our upcoming performance with live music!
Saturday, Feb. 16 at 7:30 p.m.
Westminster Fine Arts Series
Hurley & Dancers perform with pianist Tamara Sanikidze in Tchaikovsky's The Seasons
With the Westminster Orchestra in Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1
No admission (donations accepted)
For more information, visit

Performers: Kathleen Hurley, Paula McArthur, Liping Vong* and Oksana Yakhenko
(* This is Liping Vong’s first performance with Hurley & Dancers!)

Other upcoming events:

  • Tuesday, Feb. 11 Kathleen Hurley performs with Mark and Rebecca Gruber at the U.S. Citizen Global Diplomat award ceremony at the Smithsonian Kogood Courtyard in Washington D.C.

  • Friday, March 1 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, March 2 at 2 p.m. Kathleen Hurley performs Young Monks with Valerie Williams/Co’Motion Dance Theatre at the Ames City Auditorium. Visit for more information.

02.04.2008: Cap City Capsules

Auditions for the Tony Award-winning musical The Pajama Game will be held at The Playhouse on Sunday, Feb. 24, at 6:00 PM. All auditions are open to the public; no one is pre-cast.

The Pajama Game contains roles for 7 men, 7 women, and a large ensemble of men and women. All roles are ages 16 and up. Those auditioning for The Pajama Game must bring a prepared solo; an accompanist will be provided. Performances are Apr. 11-May 4. The Pajama Game is directed by John Viars, with music direction by Brenton Brown and choreography by Alison Shafer.

Fun and romance, song and dance; The Pajama Game has everything audiences are looking for in a musical! The employees at the Sleeptite Pajama Factory want a 7-1/2 cent raise. Employee representative, Babe, and superintendent, Sid, wind up doing a lot more than talking in this great American musical featuring such songs as Hernandos Hideaway, Hey There and Steam Heat.

Let Cupid's arrow strike the heart of your sweetheart on this Valentine's Day with a Singing Valentine from the Drake University Choir. Talented Drake vocal students will help you set your beloved's heart on fire on Valentine's Day, Thursday, Feb. 14, by delivering a song and flowers to the workplace or home of your special someone.

The choir is offering three packages, including:

  • True Romance offers a song and a single romantic rose for $25
  • Cupid's Favorite delivers a song and six of the finest roses for $35
  • Hopeless Romantic brings a special song and a full dozen roses for $65

Drake students deliver to the entire metro area.

The deadline for ordering Singing Valentine's is Sunday, Feb. 10. Delivery times are between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Feb. 14. Proceeds from the singing valentines will help fund the Drake Choir's European tour in May 2008.

"No University funds will be used for the tour, so your support is important and greatly appreciated," said choir director Aimee Beckmann-Collier.

Tallgrass Theatre Company is proud to present an original play by Kay Rhoads of Ankeny. Rhoads is the winner of Tallgrass’ 2nd Annual Iowa Playwrights Workshop. Her script, A Simple Matter of Fear, is the story of a soldier during World War II who goes AWOL from the army and hides in the attic of his father’s small-town home.

Fridays and Saturdays at 7:00 p.m.
February 1 through February 9

Rex Mathes Auditorium 1401 Vine Street

Sign-Language Interpretation will be available Friday, February 8 and Saturday, February 9.

More information and pictures available at or contact

High School Reunion returns to The Playhouse, Feb. 15-Mar. 8. Tickets are $40 and may be purchased at The Playhouse box office and online at

In its fourth smash year, High School Reunion features new characters, plus a trivia contest and karaoke contest!

High School Reunion is an evening of fun, dinner and dancing in the tradition of Tony N' Tina's Wedding. Orwell High Class of '84's jocks, geeks, and even a few teachers, are on hand as the class reunites to relive homecoming, prom and graduation. Audience members are fellow classmates and teachers for an evening of dinner and dancing to totally awesome '80s music.

02.01.2008: Cinema Verite'

Check out one person's opinion on the best ballet movies of all time. I have to agree with The Turning Point, but, the rest of the Baryshnikov cinema catalogue deserves consideration as well: the iconic 11-pirouettes in White Nights, for example. The Giselle redux in Dancers (?) failed as a movie plot, but, it still contains valuable, valuable insight into Mischa's character development in the role of Albrecht. Center Stage is a forgettable effort that would fade from the collective memory quickly except for its ubiquitous presence on YouTube. Also absent, but, probably deservingly so is the Patrick Swayze last private production. (Mental block on the title) I ordered the DVD and watched it. But, the Dirty Dancing star and his dancer wife aren't like good wine. Improving with age, I mean. Actually, he's surviving more gracefully than his spouse. But, as it's becoming increasingly clear to me with the passage of time, dancing at a professional level is the domain of the young. But, you'll always find me dragging my rickety old body, my memories and my walker to the barre everyday.

02.01.2008: Your Big Script-Writing Break?

The cyber-mountain comes to Mohamet? Check out this e-mailed opportunity and spread the word to other aspiring writers:
"The Scriptapalooza Screenwriting Competition was founded in 1998 with the goal of discovering promising writers and creating opportunities for them in the fiercely competitive entertainment industry. Each year, dozens of production companies and literary representatives sign on to read the participating scripts, resulting in many being optioned or bought outright. The first place winner receives $10,000, and Scriptapalooza promotes the semifinalists and finalists for a full year. Scriptapalooza, Inc., along with its divisions, is widely regarded by writers, producers and agents alike as the most influential and successful competition company of its kind. Divisions include Scriptapalooza Television Writing Competition and Scriptapalooza Coverage Professional Script Analysis. For more information, please visit the website."

01.29.2008: The Rumors Are True!

Sometimes you just want to take The Kabbage Patch Kid out back and treat her like a "red-headed step-child"!o) Just kidding! But, that was my feeling when we found out she was notified of acceptance to the Milwaukee Ballet School Summer Program...and had told no one else about it! Listen KPK, be proud of what you've accomplished in your first attempt at national auditions and share your triumphs with your friends, ferkryinoutlowd! You don't have to go to that program, but, your first acceptance is always special! Congrats! (After I told her all that last night, I jokingly asked her, "OK, what other secrets are you keeping from us?" She just smiled shyly, yet, slyly and shrugged. So, I guess we'll learn about her secret crime-fighting identity, all her boyfriends and discrete jet-setter party-girl social life some other time!o)

01.27.2008: Ramblin' (p)Rose!

Okay, more news from the summer program audition trail: Princess SarAurorah and Margaruite du Armaund both accepted to Milwaukee Ballet Summer Intensive with partial tuition scholarships. (MdA also accepted to Houston Ballet Summer Program). But, proving once again that "good guys are like gold" in dance and ballet, GitUrFaShawn notified of full-tuition and room-and-board scholarship to the same program. This puts GUFS in quite a good quandry: that means he gets to choose between full-tuition-and-room-and-board offers from Milwaukee and Boston Ballet Schools and a full-tuition waiver from San Francisco Ballet School. I advised him to find out how much dancing and what kind of classes are offered at the competing programs. He complained about not doing enough at the prestigious summer intensive he attended last year. But, all things being equal, San Francisco is my (and everyone who's been there!) favorite city. (I took class there from Alonzo King one month while auditioning for companies. I remember him often putting his hands on his hips when dancers struggled with his combinations and mentioning the intermediate class still had openings.) Still, free room-and-board is a compelling argument to the bottom line...And, quite a coup for the 2Ki2Mster of CCDC Level V as well. She was grinning from ear-to-ear all weekend after getting her letter of acceptance to Milwaukee Ballet School...And, quite a few CCDC students struggling with muscle soreness after real rehearsals for La Bayadere began this weekend. Holding and repeating that arabesque line over and over again really demonstrated how much strength is needed for corps de ballet work...Did anyone else watch the two ballet dancers in this past weekend's Miss America contest? I thought they were about as good as eventual winner Miss Michigan's wandering, caterwauling warbling in the talent portion. I would've much rather watched Miss Iowa's baton twirling. At least she got to show a little before a commercial break as she was eliminated without being able to perform her full routine. I hear you can actually catch her routine on YouTube someplace...And, also watched a little of the "live audition" for MTV's Dance Krews competition this weekend. I liked the nine qualifier groups, but, how about an individual b-boy competition as well? I thought the "krew" that mixed broadway and hip-hop was "smokin'!" and "off da chain!" as the judges put it. And, how disingenuous was the "Hold on a minute! We've just decided to add one more qualifier!" that host Mario Lopez read off the teleprompter? With a full 15 minutes left to the hour, you know that was scripted out beforehand!...and Lopez' ease and charm before the camera just emphasizes how tense Drew Lachey is on Dance Wars. Lopez wins this Battle of the Dance Emcees! But, Tom Bergeron still head and shoulders above the rest. If it's dancin', I'll be watchin'! Maluhia out!

01.25.2008: Overheard in CCDC Classes

"Use your muscles to put your bones in the right place. Then, use your bones to strengthen the right muscles. When the muscles get stronger, you can place your bones better. Lather, rinse, repeat."

"Neutral pelvis should actually feel like you're tucking under. You need to have that feeling before you can maximize your turn-out."

"Do the technique through out the full-range of motion. Start well, finish better and make the middle of the movement consistent."

"DON'T do the 'booty pop' at the end of your plie'!

"Have you ever done a correction so much the teacher has told you to dial it back down a little? If you haven't, then you're not working as hard as your future competition."

"MORE lifting to lower than you think!"

"Use your arms to start turning your back. One arm chases the other in turns like a boy chases a girl. Or, in your case, like a boy-crazy girl chases a guy."

"Why do you think you hear the same corrections all the time? Is it because the teacher can't think of anything else to work on? Or could you be making the same fundamental mistakes again and again?

"Don't start from a dead stop. Deepen your plie' or fondu. Lengthen your arms and legs away and then towards where you want to go."

"Scoop in your stomach! Lengthen your lower back! Tuck your seat under!"

"Strengthen your core! Middle of metal! You have to control your center before you can control your extremities! True technique comes from the inside out."

"Epaule' starts from the base of your spine!"

"Remember! Grace comes from strength! You can't be weak or tired and truly graceful!"

"No, no! Don't thank me! I can now die a lonely, but, happy death knowing you are dancing so well!"

01.25.2008: Viral Video

Okay, I'd seen this one before. But, even redneck relatives are sending me links to this video. It's worth a watch:
"...Subject: Chinese Ballet Circus pas de deux troupe du Guangdong .

If you enjoy ballet or gymnastics settle in for a few minutes and gawk at this one. Quite amazing and beautiful to watch..."

01.24.2008: Reason4Celebration!

Here's a message from GUFS:
"Hey! I just got an e-mail from San Francisco (Ballet School)... I got in with a full tuition scholarship. So yeah, that was rather unexpected..."

01.21.2008: Train of Thought

Here's a telling story from the Summer Intensive audition trail: And, this is how it was told to me, several CCDC students traveled a few hours for an audition in another city this weekend. When they got there they were seperated by the luck of the draw and class began. The instructor went up to one CCDC student and asked where she trained. She said, "Capital City Dance Center". He said he'd never heard of it. Class went on. Then, he went up to another CCDC student and asked him what school he came from. And, he said, "Capital City Dance Center." Class went on. Finally, he went up to a third CCDC student and asked the same thing. She said "Capital City Dance Center." He pointed to the other two and asked, "The same as them?" She said yes. He said, "Well! They must be doing something right at that school!" And, from what I understand he didn't bother asking where any of the other students at the audition trained. Draw your own conclusions. Always nice to get validation from a national program...and, the Cardigan Girl ends up going three for four from her first weekend of summer auditions...ever! She was already notified of acceptance to Milwaukee Ballet and Boston Ballet Summer Programs. Now, she tells me that the Kirov Academy Summer Intensive wants her as well. But, she got a nice letter from SAB asking her to audition again next year. Yes, it was a rejection, but, I don't think they tell just everyone to please come back. So, let's give her about 3.5 out of 4. I told her she should be really proud. That if she was a major league hitter she'd be batting over .750! That's the big leagues, baby ballerina! Hall of fame numbers!...and, add Princess SarAurorah to the list of CCDC students getting notified of early acceptance. Sleeping Cutie notified that Boston Ballet School wants her this summer...Here's a reminder, if you want to get some free tickets to Saint Petersburg Ballet's Carmen this Saturday, you can start calling Grinnell College starting today. You also might want to check out Ballet Quad Cities February concert. Your taxpayer money's helping pay for it. Might as well check out where your check's ending up...Big article in the local fishwrap this weekend about how the Metropolitan Opera is satellite telecasting their presentations worldwide in big-screen hi-def at local theaters around the world. As I was reading I couldn't help thinking, what about ballet? Wouldn't it be great to be able to walk past Scream 94 and Saw 13 at your local multiplex and plop down to watch Paris Opera Ballet perform Romeo Et Juliet? Or, San Francisco Ballet in Lac du Cygnes? Or, how about being able to watch on pay-per-view cable, satellite or live internet streaming direct to your own 1080p hi-def, 7.1 channel sound, home theater set-up? Or, downloading it from iTunes?...Finally finishing up order forms for more CCDC logoware. Watch for it in the lobby soon. Just remember to send or drop-off the forms to the address at the top of the form. Overworked office staff doesn't want to have to mess with one more thing...And, one other thing we could probably survive without this winter: Dance Wars. Caught the last couple of shows. It tries to borrow from and bridge the gap between American Idol, So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing With The Stars. But, it's so hard to be world-class at both singing and dancing. I think if you're that good, you're already working someplace. But, having said that, if its got dancin', I'll be watchin'!...Speaking of, the promos on MTV for the Battle of the Dance Crews looks very interesting. Some hip-hop battles can be very repetitive. But, when some unique performer begins to put a personal stamp on some signature moves, then it can be very watchable. What will help is the crews will apparently feature more than one dancer at a time, hence the Crews in the title. When two or more powerful, charismatic performers begin riffing and playing off of each other, then, it can become, truly, Must CTV...Like I said, if it's dancin', I'll be watchin'! Maluhia out!

1.18.2008: More Kudos In Order

One of the younger preprofessional students was smiling from ear-to-ear last night. The Cardigan Girl auditioned for four summer programs this past weekend. And, CardigAnna of CCDC Ballet IV shyly and proudly showed me two letters from the two schools she's heard back from so far: two acceptances from the Milwaukee and Boston Ballet Summer Programs! Getting notified so quickly is a good sign. Auditioners are usually placed in one of three groups: no-way, hmm-maybe and "sign-'em-up-quick-before-another-school-grabs-'em!" Early acceptance means you ended up on the fast-track into the program. That could be a good sign that The Cardigan Girl could eventually end up four-for-four (444) from this past weekend! With more auditions to come! She, her family and teachers should be proud of her hard work and improvement! A big CCDC "atta girl" to The CardiGirl!

01.18.2008: Check It Out

A fledgling local dance company flexes its wings:
"...Hi everyone!

I wanted to let you know that the Poetic Rebound Performance Company's website is up and running! ...Check it out!

Nicole Hussain
Artistic Director
Poetic Rebound Performance Company"

01.17.2008: Random Ramblings

Some good news in already from the Summer Intensive Audition Season currently underway: Ekaterina of Clan W00tang says she was notified of early acceptance to the Boston Ballet School program. AND, she was placed in the highest level! That's after a grueling and unorthodox audition. She says it wasn't difficult except for the fact they were divided into seven or eight groups from the very first barre exercise. That means one group of auditioners would do plie's and the others would wait. Then, another group would go while the rest would stand around. They'd repeat that process until all the groups had gone. And, Katya complained she was "ice-cold" by the time she got to do a second exercise. (You're not allowed to wear sweats or warm-ups at most legitimate auditions and schools.) The auditioners also took their own pictures of all the applicants standing in tendu a la seconde en face. Not the most flattering pose. But, despite all that, kudos in order to Katya! And, she was apparently on a roll last weekend, she says she was asked to demonstrate a grand allegro combination and a pointe combination at the Washington Ballet School Summer Audition as well. Very rare for an auditioner to ever end up demonstrating like that. But, apparently, she was doing that "stillness in movement" thang in big jumps asked for by one of her dear, dear, dedicated and hard-working ("No, no! Don't thank me! I can now die a happy, but, lonely death knowing you are dancing so well!") instructors. And, she was suspending her poses en pointe as taught by another over-worked and underpaid CCDC faculty member. Kudos also in order for GitUrFaShawn! He's been notified of acceptance to the Boston Ballet School Summer Intensive with a full-scholarship! That's free room-and-board-and-tuition apparently! I know where his mom's going to be pushing to send him this summer! I asked GUFS if there were any other guys at the audition. He said a few. I asked if they were any good. He sniffed, arched a brow, and said "Not really." But, before GUFS or Ekaterina get too full of their selves, they still need to match the level set by one of my friends I trained with a long time ago. Michael J started training late, but, had such potential he ended up being accepted to the SAB Summer Intensive with full scholarship, round trip airfare (to and from Honolulu remember!) AND he got paid a stipend to attend! He eventually ended up dancing professionally with North Carolina Dance Theater. So, that's still the gold standard we're aiming for yet this summer, CCDC dancers! Make this the year! Maluhia out!

1.15.2008: Hot Tip! FREE Dance!

Here's an e-mail update from CCDC Summer Intensive Modern Instructor Kathleen Hurley:
"...FYI -- the St. Petersburg Ballet will be performing 'Carmen' at Grinnell College, Bucksbaum, Roberts Theatre at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 26.

It's free but you need to call ahead the week of the show to reserve a ticket
(641) 236-4420.

We're not offering master classes at the college as far as I know, but if that changes I will send out an announcement.

Happy dancing!

1.15.2008: CCoDY Awards of 2007!

Before we get too much further into the bold, new year of 2008. It's time for (ta-daah! The envelope please!) the often-duplicated, never-imitated annual CCoDY Awards for dance affecting the local scene!o) For you hopelessly out of the loop CCoDY stands for Capital City Dance Center Order of Dance Achievement of the Year Awards! And, just to be considerate, we leave out any CCDC production from consideration.

...But, alas! Just like the Golden Globes, the CCoDYs this year are being tarnished by that prolonged writers strike! Just a few highlights and lowlights from the stage and silver screen and it's back to the picket lines!

So, without further ado (much ado about nothing!), the envelope, please!

Well, 2007 suffers in comparison to 2006 that featured the return of the prodigal son, Washington Ballet Principal Jason Hartley to the area to help produce and perform in his seminal Concert For My Mom. The major bright spot is a tie for the CCoDY for best dance performance overall. On one hand was the Joffrey Ballet's River To River tour across the state, a presentation of Hancher Auditorium. It was a summer idyll kicking off the 2007 Arts Festival. Beautiful night, decent dancing, convivial company...both on-stage and off! It would've been improved by offering an advanced ballet workshop at the sites around the state. I applaud Pierre Lockett's free public workshops open to all levels of dance experience. But, what about a chance to challenge the very best dance students across the state? The other winner: Hubbard Street Dance Company of Chicago at the Civic Center. Images of some of their dances still return at unguarded moments of reverie. That's when you know good art has infiltrated your defenses. When an unexpected memory of a performance lingers past its expected half-life.

Only a few other CCoDYs of note in this strike-shortened presentation: Danny Tidwell on this year's So You Think You Can Dance!. Week in and week out, the classically trained ABT and Kirov School alum raised the barre for contemporary and classical dancers across the country. He eventually lost the popularity contest to Sabra(?), but, he succeeded at opening eyes and dropping jaws across the country. And, I predict it'll be a long, long time before you see someone of his caliber shoot across the silver screen again.

One of the most intriguing CCoDY moments was the chance to video and watch as 2007 CCDC Summer Intensive Guest Instructor Randall Newsom demonstrated the Curse of Carabosse from The Sleeping Beauty in repertory class this past June. Watching him perform the evil Fairy's mime and placing it in context explained a lot of motivation and back story. And, then, watching the tall, still robust and energetic former dancer transform into the delicate, regal Lilac Fairy for her counter-spell was a fascinating moment. I'm glad we got that on video somewhere for the next time CCDC does TSB!

And, finally, a near brush with a dancing star the last CCoDY mention. A call out of nowhere this summer came tantalizingly close to producing Dancing With The Stars contestant Helio Castroneves and professional Julianne Hough rehearsing at the CCDC studios! Unfortunately, it was too last minute, we couldn't juggle our schedule fast enough and ended up referring them to another studio.

Runner-up CCoDY awards to the Rockette audition at CCDC and for their performance run at the Civic Center. The Rockettes are very good at what they do, but, how cutting-edge and challenging can 30-40-50 year old choreography be? (I mean, besides Balanchine's Apollo and Prodigal Son?) It wasn't intended to be and it delivered as expected.

So, Prospero ano y felicidad! Shinnen omedetoo gozaimasu! Hau'oli makahiki ho'u! Happy New Year! May your dancing exceed your dreaming in 2008! CYa back here on the red carpet for next year's CCoDYs!

01.11.2008: Cap City Capsules

The award-winning Drake University Jazz Ensemble I, directed by Andrew Classen, will perform for an evening of swing dancing from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, Jan. 25, in Parents Hall. Free dance lessons will be offered at 6 p.m. by Rae and Larry Mullica of Step Into Swing. Tickets will be available at the door.
Native Iowan and internationally acclaimed film and video artist Matthew Buckingham returns for his first major solo exhibition in the United States. Currently a professor of art at the Malmö Art Academy in Sweden, Buckingham will exhibit three new installations, along with a site-specific project, in the Art Center’s upcoming exhibition, Matthew Buckingham: Play the Story, on view January 25 through April 20, 2008.

Through his use of space, settings, and narration Buckingham’s films typically focus on the connections among the past, present, and future by creating works that place the viewer, intellectually and physically, in all three time periods at once. His use of space plays a key role in the viewing experience. Working mainly with film, but also with photography, slide projection, text, and audio, Buckingham investigates history and representation, scrutinizing different forms of narrative. Through his films, Buckingham poses the question, “Can the past, present, and future exist independently of each other?”

Drake University's Anderson Gallery will feature Woven Traditions: Central and West African Textiles, an exhibition of 40 traditional African textiles from the collection of Drake faculty members Lenore Metrick-Chen and Phillip Chen.

The exhibition, which opens with a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 25, is curated by Edwina Brandon, director of development and external affairs at the Art Center. Metrick-Chen, assistant professor of art history, and John Monroe, assistant professor of history will lead a gallery talk at 6 p.m.

Woven Traditions: Central and West African Textiles, which will continue through Feb. 22, encompasses textiles from West and Central Africa, including works by the Ashante, Yoruba, Nupe, Bamana, Kuba and Pygmy peoples.

"The range of textile design techniques will include weaving, applique and both direct and resist-dye drawing methods," said Phillip Chen, associate professor of art and design.

Seldom-seen examples of Pygmy bark cloth drawing will be displayed, a rare and brilliantly colorful Nigerian dance costume along with a 20-foot Kuba skirt from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Tickets now on sale for the romance Enchanted April, Jan. 25- Feb. 10, at The Playhouse. Tickets are $24-34 and may be purchased at The Playhouse ticket office. Enchanted April is sponsored by EMC Insurance Companies.

Four women needing a new lease on life spy an advertisement for the chance to rent a small medieval castle in Italy for the month of April. Escaping from the drab, post-WWI English town life, the women revel in days of wisteria, sunshine and laughter. Here they escape the day-to-day drudgery of their lives and husbands, and grow new, unexpected friendships. Enchanted April is a feel-good show that shines with hope, joy, romance, and, yes, enchantment. The Los Angeles Times wrote, "Enchanted April is as good as they come: a lush, thoroughly refreshing theatrical holiday. Escape has seldom seemed so sweet. A magical triumph."

The Art Center presents an exhibition of prints by artists from the 17th to 21st centuries who confronted some of the burning political issues and social challenges of their times. Their attitudes ranged from disengaged reporting to impassioned advocacy. Artists, and the problems they explored, include William Hogarth on human cruelty, Winslow Homer on slavery and secession, George Grosz on war profiteering, Käthe Kollwitz on elderly suicide, Robert Indiana on segregation, Nancy Spero on abortion rights, and Luis Jiménez on U.S.-Mexican border controls and illegal immigration. Many of the problems these artists confront in their works are still strikingly relevant today. Drawn from the permanent collections, Pressing Issues is organized by Amy N. Worthen, curator of prints.
Gallery Talk
Thursday, March 27, 6:30 pm
FREE admission

Join The Playhouse on Jan. 11 for The Golden Goose. This story is part of the 2007-08 season of Friday Funday, a creative participatory story theatre program for children ages 4-6. Performances are at The Playhouse. January's featured story is The Golden Goose. Once upon a time, a father had three sons, the youngest of whom was a daydreamer. The youngest son was also the only one unselfish enough to share his food with a hungry old man. In return the son received a beautiful golden goose, but will it be enough to make a gloomy princess giggle?

01.09.2008: Tech Tidbits and Aftermath

Several of my in-laws have had iPods or other mp3 players for quite a while now. But, when we got together over the holidays, I was more than a little surprised to find out none of them accessed any podcasts, just music. So, I ended up giving a brief tutorial to one nephew-in-law who had asked for an upgrade to a massive 180gig iPod to hold his 12,000 song library. (I felt like a real newbie, when comparing song lists. I only have about 22-hundred songs now. Even my pops-inna-law has 4,000+! But, I resisted tapping into neph-in-law's library because of that 12,000+, I think 11,995 of them were bootlegged on the cyber-black market! Sorry for ratting on you, Josh! But, I'll virtuously visit you virtually in prison with a virtual cake with a virtual file embedded in the code!) But, there's still a lot to learn about what's available for the iTouch. I just stumbled across real educational podcasts available through iTunes University. Not just this Coffee Break Spanish 15-minute lessons. (Valuable for refreshing my high school Spanish that I use while ordering at the local Pancheros burrito bar! Quiero dos burritos vegetales sin queso por favor. Y para llevar.) But, actual FREE college courses and lectures available for downloading. As I write this I'm listening to a 45-minute lecture from Professor Americ Azevedo of UC Berkeley delivering his course goals and syllabus for IDS 101, Interdisciplinary Studies. (Funny guy! Something strangely cosmic to hear him talking about disembodied voices and virtual conversations in his disembodied voice during a one-sided virtual conversation.) I can feel my severely atrophied brain muscles getting a work-out!...I also bought another ballet class album from the iTunes Library. This time I was a little choosier. I previewed several albums. I listened to the plie' music and the small jumps. If they didn't match the tempos I preferred, I moved on. I'm already becoming a more discriminating cyber-consumer. Thanks to the student and family who chipped in an iTunes gift card to the cause!...Speaking of gifts, I got an actual book in the Christmas stocking. One of the new biographies of Rudik Nureyev. Already interesting because it seems I can trace some of the 20th and 21st century innovations in male technique directly to his ground-breaking and trail-blazing. Full 3/4 demipointe apparently didn't exist for men before he started using that during his classes. Nor did high retirre' in pirouette. I teach this technique. I just didn't know it originated with Nureyev. I remember seeing him in Los Angeles near the tail end of his performing career. It was more than a little disappointing for someone who watched in slack-jawed amazement during his soaring Corsaire variation in the film That's Dancing. Now I'm getting a backstage glimpse at the life of one of the legends of 20th Century dance. Thanks, Rothbarta! Maluhia out!

01.08.2008: Tidbits

Here's a warning for all you dancers on Facebook: "...A widget has appeared on social-networking site Facebook. It claims it will tell you who has a secret crush on you. It requires that you invite five friends to use the widget. Then, it tricks users into downloading spyware. About three million users have been affected so far." And, you know if it's on one social networking site, it'll soon show up on the others. Have you heard about the dancers only version of MySpace? And, do you think CCDC should set up a site on these networks?...Check out the first two 2008 CCDC Summer Guest Faculty bios in the Faculty page. Features the return of two former area favorite Des Moines Ballet/Ballet Iowa dancers...OK! Look for an early return of Dancing With The Stars this season because of the writers strike. I'll also post some feedback of Dance Wars premiere this week soon...Kudos to all the CCDC PreProfessional Program students who survived a grueling and intense audition this past weekend. Lot of tired dancers in the next days classes! And, in case you haven't heard, this year's ballet will be La Bayadere. If you're not familiar with the ballet plotline, look for a synopsis in a few weeks. Just think Giselle set in India of legend. It features the classic corps de ballet sequence known as Kingdom of the Shades. You can see an example during the credits of (the best ballet movie of all time) The Turning Point...And, finally, congratulations and a big pat on the back to the many, many dancers who took some or all of the CCDC optional classes over the break. They're called "Stay In Shape" for a reason! Maluhia out!

01.07.2008: Car Pool-sibilities!

Summer Intensive Audition season about to swing into high gear! If you're looking to hitch a ride, check out this e-mail from the Dread Sorceress Rothbarta:
"...Here is the schedule so far--I am happy to drive anyone else. Kathy H____ and I have worked out some driving...
  • Sun Jan 13 Boston Ballet in Minneapolis
  • Fri Jan 18 Milwaukee Ballet in IA City 5pm...
  • Sat Jan 19 Atlanta Ballet in KC
  • Sun Jan 20 SFB in Chicago...
  • Sat Feb 2 Tulsa Ballet in WDM, register 1:30, audition at 3:15
  • Sun Feb 10 PNB in KC at 4 pm...


Sun Feb 24 Kansas City Ballet audition in WDM at 1:30 pm, for experience, if recital rehearsal schedule permits...."

01.04.2008: Magnets and Muscles

(Courtesy Newswise) — A recent study by University of Virginia researchers demonstrates that the use of an acute, localized static magnetic field of moderate strength can result in significant reduction of swelling when applied immediately after an inflammatory injury.

Thomas Skalak, professor and chair of biomedical engineering, and Cassandra Morris, a former Ph.D. student in biomedical engineering at U.Va., reported their findings in the November 2007 edition of the American Journal of Physiology.

In the study, the hind paws of anesthetized rats were treated with inflammatory agents in order to simulate tissue injury. Magnetic therapy was then applied to the paws. The research results indicate that magnets can significantly reduce swelling if applied immediately after tissue trauma.

Since muscle bruising and joint sprains are the most common injuries worldwide, this discovery has potentially significant implications. "If an injury doesn't swell, it will heal faster - and the person will experience less pain and better mobility," says Skalak. This means that magnets might be used much the way ice packs and compression are now used for everyday sprains, bumps, and bruises, but with more beneficial results. The ready availability and low cost of this treatment could produce huge gains in worker productivity and quality of life.

(Courtesy Newswise) — What’s the key to looking and feeling better and enhancing your health? Exercise.

Moderately strenuous exercise, about 30 minutes a day, can lead to enormous benefits in terms of your mood, health, weight and the ability to live an independent and fulfilling life. The exercise doesn’t need to be athletic or difficult. Studies have shown that simply walking at a brisk pace for 30 minutes or more on most days can lead to significant health improvements. Add simple strengthening exercises two or three times a week and the benefits are even greater.

The January issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter lists some of the benefits of 30 minutes of exercise a day:

Lower blood pressure:
A reduction of 5 to 10 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) is possible. In some cases, that’s enough to prevent or reduce the need for blood pressure medications.

Improve cholesterol:
Exercise often increases the concentration of high-density lipoprotein (HDL or “good” cholesterol in the blood), especially when accompanied by weight loss. Exercise also helps reduce triglyceride levels.

Prevent or manage type 2 diabetes:
Exercise helps insulin work better, lowering blood sugar.

Manage weight:
Coupling exercise with a healthy diet is the best way to shed fat and maintain a healthier body composition.

Prevent osteoporosis:
Exercise may increase bone density and protect against bone mass decline, especially if weight-bearing activities are involved.

Prevent cancer:
Exercise has been shown to strengthen the immune system, improve circulation, reduce body fat and speed digestion. Each has a role in preventing cancer, particularly cancers of the colon, prostate, uterine lining and breast.

Maintain mental well-being:
Exercise may help reduce stress, improve mild-to-moderate depression and anxiety, improve sleep and boost moods.

Increase energy and stamina:
A lack of energy often results from inactivity, not age.

(Courtesy Newswise) — Excess drinking of sugary beverages like soda may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, suggests new research in mice. Although the exact mechanisms aren’t known, obesity and diabetes are both associated with higher incidences of Alzheimer’s. Ling Li and her colleagues tested whether high sugar consumption in an otherwise normal diet would affect Alzheimer’s progression.

They used a genetic mouse model that develops Alzheimer’s-like symptoms in adulthood, and over a 25 week period supplemented the regular, balanced diet of half the animals with 10% sugar water. Afterwards, they compared the metabolism, memory skills (by means of various mazes) and brain composition of the regular and sugar-fed mice.

The sugar-fed mice gained about 17% more weight than controls, had higher cholesterol levels, and developed insulin resistance. These mice also had worse learning and memory retention and their brains contained over twice as many amyloid plaque deposits, an anatomical hallmark of Alzheimer’s.

Although the researchers cannot be certain if the increased mental impairment resulted specifically from the higher sugar intake or higher calories in general, these results to highlight the potential risk of sugary beverages. They note that the human equivalent of the mouse diet would be roughly 5 cans of soda per day, although since mice have a higher metabolism, it may actually take less sugar intake in humans.

01.02.2008: Hamer Hits Homers!

iNput from CCDC Modern/Jazz/Yoga/Pilates Instructor Alissa H!
"...Hope you enjoyed your vacation. Here is a posting for the website.

Alissa Hamer"

01.01.2008: Talkin' 'Bout A Resolution, y'all!

Make this the year.

Happy New Year! It's 2008! An Olympic year, a presidential election year, a leap year!

MAKE this the year!

Instead of thinking "some day I'll be good", "some day I'll go all out" or "some day I'll be GREAT!", make this THE year!

Make THIS the year!

Resolve not to wait to be great! Make this the year! Set some long-term and short-term goals. Write them down. Figure out something to do everyday to get a step closer to making your dreams a reality. Journey of a thousand miles for a dancer begins with a single pas.


Now, especially for dancers, take all your classes. Listen to your teachers. Pay attention in rehearsals and classes. Ask appropriate questions at appropriate times. If there's something you can't do well, practice makes perfect. Do the extra little things that make you dance well. Because dancing well makes you happy. Proper preparation is the key to execution.


Now, let's get to work...

Coming Soon 2 A Theatre Near U!

Rubberbandance Group
Hancher Auditorium
Saturday, June 14, 2 pm

Victor Quijada danced on the street and in clubs growing up in Los Angeles with a style that earned him the nickname “Rubberband.” He discovered ballet and modern dance in high school, eventually finding himself in Twyla Tharp’s company and then in Les Grands Ballets Canadiens Montréal. He’s taken all of those influences—from hip-hop to ballet—and created Rubberbandance Group, an ensemble with moves like no other dance company. The work is electric and, yes, elastic. Your family will be in the perfect spot when Quijada and Rubberbandance Group hit the stage. More here.

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