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12.25.2009: And, A Child Shall Lead Them

Got a contact message from a student I taught, danced with, choreographed on and coached in Nutcracker earlier this decade. I called her "the girl with two first names". I partnered and choreographed her in Arabian and coached her in my Snow Corps and choreographed and coached her debut as the Ice Queen in her pas de deux with King Crystal. Now, it seems as if the "girl with two first names" has lost one of those names and gotten a new, real surname and a husband to match. And, she's been busy since I lost track of her apparently. Her contact form says she'll start bringing her four-year old daughter to Capital City Dance Center next month! Four-year old daughter! Second generation of student at CCDC already! Now, we've had mothers and their daughters take at CCDC since the beginning (Perhaps none more notable than the "dread sorceress Rothbarta" and Princess Dozing Beauty), but, since I've moved around so much in my peripatetic (or should I spell that "peri-pathetic"?) dance and teaching career, the opportunity for a true "second-generation student" has never really materialized. Until now. If this new student has a fraction of the drive and potential of her parent, she'll be one to watch. Perhaps the dance dreams of the mother will be realized by the daughter. Isn't it almost always so? Hope springs eternal with every child's new step. (Now, it's true that I taught a few classes that current CCDC Ballet Instructor Karina Sturdevant attended and her daughter does attend this school. But, while I did perform with Karina the Ballerina---ask her about the time I tripped while carrying her overhead!---I didn't choreograph on her and taught her rarely.) What'll be really frightening is when the "third generation" begins to take ballet at CCDC!

12.24.2009: Gone, But, Not Forgotten...

So, here's a boot-leg, eavesdropped excerpt from a CCDC Alum talking about the transition from dancing at our studio...and dancing at the Party Hearty University level:

" was different from what we got at (CCDC). I loved the structure of ballet class and performing ballets (you know that!) You won't really get that at (my college). And the thing I missed the most was the personal connections formed. We got spoiled with (CCDC!) I didn't feel like my (college) teachers really cared about me personally, or really had any interest in my growth as a dancer, at least like Emery and Missy did..."
...And, we've discussed this at length. Are we coddling our dancers too much and not properly preparing them for the harsh realities of what, at times, can be a cold, cruel professional dancer's life? We've both suffered from teachers, choreographers or artistic directors who didn't believe in us. But, it's precisely because of that that we both chose positive reinforcement as our teaching method of choice. And, as former professional dancers, we believe we actually hold our students to higher standards than most collegiate programs. But, we also provide them with the tools and encouragement to achieve professional standards of conduct and capability.

12.21.2009: Gnuz U Can Use

Latest e-info tidbits of interest4dancerz from Men's Health Magazine:
"... In general, the most effective time for exercise is between 4 and 6 P.M, according to the American Council on Exercise. Not only do people feel good at this time of day, but body temperature also peaks, so muscles are warm, and, since they've had a full day to stretch, flexible. Fine motor skills are high in the late afternoon, too..."
...and, making the case for "standing like a dancer"...
"...The average human head weighs 8 pounds. And if your chin moves forward just 3 inches the muscles of your neck, shoulders, and upper back must support the equivalent of 11 pounds. That's a weight-bearing increase of 38 percent—for hours at a time. Left untreated, chronic desk slump can result in what physical therapists call “upper-cross syndrome”; you know it as rounded shoulders.

The trouble isn't just that slumped shoulders make you resemble a Neanderthal. Over time, your poor posture takes a tremendous toll on your spine, shoulders, hips, and knees. In fact, it can cause a cascade of structural flaws that result in acute problems such as joint pain, reduced flexibility, and compromised muscles, all of which limit your ability to burn fat and build strength..."

12.18.2009: Post From "A Prince"

Wii get efeedback from earlier blog post:
"...I started reading the paragraph and I didn't realize you were talking about me at first...And, yes indeed, you pretty much summarized five years in a nutshell. Of course, there is much more to it then just old pair of ballet slippers, although, I still have them to this day. I had to wear tights in front of perhaps 20 ladies my first day all staring at me. Well, it could've been my first day of the second week, however, it did happen! I don't know if I was more scared of ballet itself or wearing tights in front of beautiful ballerinas! The truth is I wouldn't have made it without your guidance, your leadership and your expertise...(Nowadays,) I get to dance with my beautiful front of our TV with the help of WII ("So you think you can dance") Sadly, she beats me. I cry with sorrow...perhaps it's because I don't wear my tights anymore..."

12.17.2009: College Of Knowledge

Here are some interesting excerpts from the monthly e-newsletter In Contact from The Harkness Center For Dance Injuries::
"...International Association of Dance Medicine and Science (IADMS) Bulletin for Teachers

The IADMS Bulletin for Teachers now available to the public on the IADMS website. The Bulletin for Teachers is a white paper for dance teachers that summarizes in everyday language the latest dance medicine and science findings, with the intention of making research useful and practicable. The Bulletin for Teachers addresses health and training related issues for teachers of amateur, pre-professional or professional dancers of all ages by identifying practical teaching problems and presenting scientific knowledge that may enlighten teaching practices. If you are a dance teacher or know a dance teacher interested in staying up-to-date with the most recent findings in the dance medicine and science field, this is a wonderful resource..."

"...Tip of the Month

Dance injuries arise from a dynamic interplay between the intrinsic attributes of an individual performer and the extrinsic factors in his or her environment. Intrinsic attributes include such factors as the dancer’s age, health history, strength, range of motion and coping style. Examples of extrinsic factors include things like costumes and shoe wear, set design, ambient lighting, temperature and humidity, workplace policies and floor surface. Although there is much speculation that unsprung or raked stages cause injury, there is actually a paucity of scientific evidence in support of this claim. A recent article did demonstrate changes in the biomechanics of landing on raked versus flat surfaces, and a subsequent study completed by the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries showed biomechanical changes associated with increased risk for lower extremity injury when landing from jumps when wearing high-heeled character shoes on raked stage surface compared with flat shoes and flat stages. More research is needed to clarify which dancers will go on to have an injury when exposed to these features compared with those who will not become injured when exposed to them. Having said that, strategies for prevention that take into account intrinsic and extrinsic factors do exist. To learn how you or your dance organization can best prepare for interaction with the extrinsic features unique to your dance workplace, sign up for a group class or for a free, one-on-one injury prevention assessment (IPA) at the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries..."

12.16.2009: The Origin of the Original

Just wrapped up a weekend of watching my latest version of Trepak and Merlitons on the Civic Center Stage. Now, the last time I set Russian for IDT there was an unexpected benefit. That version was set on two men a few years ago. I liked to refer to the piece as "The Prince and the Barbarian" because one guy was a raw, street dancer and the other more or less studio-trained. I thought the contrast between the two was very informative. But, it was what landed on my doorstep the next day that turned out to have a longer-lasting impact. A young-man walked into the studio I was teaching at and asked to talk to me. He introduced himself and said he wanted to dance for me. He explained he used to train at the Ukrainian State School of Folk Dance when he was younger, but, had given it up when he immigrated to the US. But, he said when he saw my Trepak on stage it moved him to tears. He recalled the great joy he had when he danced and he wanted that feeling again. I thought that was a great story, but, I was very, very skeptical whether he could last more than a week. Ballet is hard enough on young bones, it's immensely difficult to take up again in the late teens. But, I gave him an old pair of ballet slippers and told him he could start with an intermediate ballet class. But, Dmitriy Dvornikov continued to surprise me in many ways. He lasted far longer than that first week. He ended up training and dancing with us for four-or-five years. He followed us when we opened up Capital City Dance Center. He attended the Milwaukee Ballet Summer Intensive on full-scholarship. We actually shared the stage on at least one number. I even injured myself trying to keep up with his jumps in one grand allegro! A "prince" of a guy who brought an old-world charm, courtliness and respect to our distinctly American studio, the now-Dmitriy Komm still makes himself available to help out in CCDC pas de deux classes to this day. (He took a non-Russian surname when he officially became a U-S citizen.) I'm keeping my fingers crossed that someone new with a fraction of Dmitriy Komm's dedication will follow in his footsteps after this latest Trepak!

11.20.2009: Shpiel Cheque!

That recent KMart TV ad starring Dominic of Quest Krew and SYTYCD needs to be "spell checked". That's the one where Dom asks kids to demonstrate dance terminology. Now, I like the fact they're featuring dancing and terminology in that ad. (And, how many of those dance students didn't know classical dance terminology?) But, the ad misspells penche' or penche'e as "ponche". So, how about we educate and not propogate "miseducation"? There's enough of that going on already without adding (or misspelling) "fool" to the fire! (Have I told that story enough about when Sandy V went to one master class and, out of dozens of students, she's the only one who earned a buck because the instructor said he would PAY anyone who knew what pas de cheval* meant?) (*step of the horse BTW)
Couldn't find Sandoval's ad on YouTube (wonder if that's deliberate?), but, here's some vidz of D-Trix teaching class. (And, isn't that Nathan from SYTYCD VI?)

11.19.2009: Stick2Dancing!

Warning: Cheerleading May Be Hazardous To Your Health:
(Courtesy Newswise) — Whether rallying the crowd at a sporting event or participating in competition, cheerleading can be both fun and physically demanding. Although integral to cheerleading routines, performing stunts can lead to injury. Stunt-related injuries accounted for more than half (60 percent) of U.S. cheerleading injuries from June 2006 through June 2007, according to a new study conducted by researchers.

The study focused on general cheerleading-related injuries, cheerleading stunt-related injuries, cheerleading fall-related injuries and surfaces used by cheerleaders. Data from the study showed that nearly all (96 percent) of the reported concussions and closed-head injuries were preceded by the cheerleader performing a stunt.

“In our study, stunts were defined as cradles, elevators, extensions, pyramids, single-based stunts, single-leg stunts, stunt-cradle combinations, transitions and miscellaneous partner and group stunts,” said author Brenda Shields, research coordinator.

The most common injuries were strains and sprains (53 percent) and injuries occurred most frequently during practice (83 percent). The top five body parts injured were the ankle (16 percent), knee (9 percent), lower back (9 percent) and head (7 percent).

The study also showed that nearly 90 percent of the most serious fall-related injuries were sustained while the cheerleaders were performing on artificial turf, grass, traditional foam floors or wood floors.

“Only spring floors and 4-inch thick landing mats placed on traditional foam floors provide enough impact-absorbing capacity for two-level stunts,” explained Shields. “There is a greater risk for severe injury as the fall height increases or the impact-absorbing capacity decreases, or both.”

(Courtesy Newswise) — Childhood obesity is on the rise, and with it comes an increased risk for developing health problems such as type 2 diabetes. The best way to reduce the risk of serious weight-related health issues such as diabetes is to eat healthy and increase physical activity.

Researchers have been awarded a grant to find effective methods to prevent and treat childhood obesity in primary care settings for children ages 4 to 8 who are in the 85th percentile or higher body mass index. Children with BMI above the 85th percentile are more likely to develop lifelong weight-related health problems. The goal of the study is to teach healthy lifestyles for children to maintain weight as they grow to bring the BMI below the 85th percentile.

According to Margaret Rukstalis, M.D., “Finding an effective way to change behaviors is key.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics reports the prevalence of children who are obese has doubled over the past two decades. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey reported that 31.9 percent of children and adolescents were overweight (BMI at or above the 85th percentile) and 16.3 percent were obese (BMI at or above 95th percentile).

“Children from rural areas are particularly at risk for being overweight and overweight or obese child has a higher likelihood of chronic medical problems and adult obesity,” said Dr. Rukstalis.

11.18.2009: Audition Action Already?

Got a call from the Boston Ballet this week encouraging CCDC to send students to their February 7 audition in KC. Credit the personal call to 2K2M's good impression she left on her successful sojourn there last summer! Click those links above to find more information as well as their complete audition schedule. And you can add the latest entreaty to the recent message sent from ABT Summer School Program. I like to think that the quality of our students have caused national summer programs to put Capital City Dance Center on their radar. Kudoz2every1! Remember, every time you dance outside our studio, you are an "ambassador of our art".

11.17.2009: Go-Going Gaga With The Bolshoi

Various YouTube.Com videos of The Lady Gaga performing with dancers from the Bolshoi Ballet (First one is the best):

11.16.2009: Vast Waste Land

It's clearly time for Team KelLouie to dance their last waltz on DWT***. The judges sent that not-so-subtle message to the voters last week with their "thirty" for Team DM'yatry and their smoooth "seventies salsa". And, except for Judge Carrie Ann "IH8Liftz" Inaba, The SuperModel would've scored just as high in their futuristic paso doble with the Blade Runner make-up scheme! And, The Osmond Offspring salute to the 80's was rife with excess, just like the decayed decade itself! It'll take a humongous upset for the Osbourne Offspring to knock The Zinger, The Zoopermodel or the Ozmondonnius out of the finals. Kelly's done much better than expected, I hope she uses this to springboard her performing career and her life. And, same goes for Aaron Carter. He managed to develop some mental toughness and discipline in this show after a misspent youth. (Here's hoping the best4both!) After that, unless the voters trump my guess, I still have to say the mirror ball winner will be...Ah-M'ya-Zing!...And, was so busy this weekend, what with Nutty rehearsals and all, never got a chance to watch the elimination episode of SYTYCD. So, I'll reserve those comments 4l8r.

11.16.2009: Blood-Red Pointes

Click here for an update on the restoration of The Red Shoes. That's the film I call The Turning Pointe of my teacher's generation. If you haven't seen either, put them on ur MustC4Dancerz list!

11.12.2009: Yoga Cert4Dancerz

Can you do this in a weak? Should you do this in a weak? FYI:
"...Friends and Colleagues,

I am excited to inform you that after much success with our first program...will be offering a one-week intensive yoga teacher training program designed specifically for dancers...

By attending this special training you will graduate as a Certified Yoga Teacher and be able to use the designation CYT.

I will personally be co-directing the program, along with_____.

I was certified at ______, and it has been an incredible experience. Please take advantage of this opportunity!

Contact me if you are interested and would like some more information. We have a limited number of spaces available for this program, and I will begin taking registration applications immediately..."

...I'm NOT saying a long-time Yoga Practitioner couldn't become a good certified Yoga Teacher after a week intensive. But, I think experience teaching makes a huge difference. I know I'm a better teacher now than I was when I started teaching long before in the previous century. (I laughingly now say my dance and teaching career "spans two centuries". It's either that or cry when I say it!o) I'd suggest taking class with new Yoga or ballet instructors and trusting your gut...rather than relying on certifications.

11.11.2009: Northern Light!

Fresh off his professional debut, SaintPauliBoy proves he still hasn't forgotten his CCDC "roots"!:
"...Hey! The three performances went pretty well, and there was an okay turn-out, too! We performed two pieces, one was a neo-classical piece set on Mozart's 40th Symphony, and the other was a very acting-heavy performance using Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. We'll probably perform one of those two this spring during the Minnesota Dance Festival, at least that's what I'm hearing.

Also, I don't know if I sent you guys this link or not, but...

See you soon-ish!..."

...And, click on that link and watch b-roll of the SaintPauliBoy in action during company rehearsal! Looks like some demanding partnering...good thing he has all that experience from CCDC Pas de Deux classes and performances!

11.09.2009: Da Big Debut

Update from the StPauliBoyz premiere professional performance this weekend:
"...The first show went pretty well in general. I'm almost glad you guys couldn't make it - less stress! I'll update you a bit more after the weekend, but I can't wait to come home for Thanksgiving!..."
...and StPauliBoyzMom says he's living in an "interesting" neighborhood. Looked out the window one morning onto what looked like a movie set of a SWAT team in action. Only it wasn't a movie! Cops told him not to worry, they had the suspect cornered, but, he might want to stay inside for awhile! Yikes! I don't think she was kidding. Toto, I don't think we're in CCDC anymore!

11.09.2009: MustCDanceTV!

So, herez the power of the reality TV dance competitions: I'm NOT a big fan of MMA or Ultimate Fighting, but, as I was mindlessly channel-surfing to wrest my brain back this weak end, ran across a replay of the match between Chuck Liddell and Mandelay Silva in "the octagon". The only reason I watched was because Liddell had been a contestant on this season's DWT***. I felt like I knew him and had a personal investment in the fight. (He constantly flashes the not-so-secret "shaka" hand signal that locals from where I'm from use to recognize each other!o) So, I got back in touch with my distant martial arts roots and watched him pummel the other fighter. (Nice spinning back-fist!) What's next? Watching Saved By The Bell reruns to catch a younger Mario Lopez?...And, I wrote last week on DWT*** that nowz the time thingz get interesting: the weak have been put out of our misery and the clash of the titanz can truly begin. The NFL Hall o' Famer and his "magic smile" exceeded expectations and the Ironic Chef probably fell victim to his partner's flu bug. The next2go should be the Former Child Star and the Osbourne Offspring this weak. Aaron Carter had the highest scores last week, but, voters put him in the bottom three. I think he really stepped up his game and deserved that 29, but, his body of work suffers in comparison to the other competitors. And, Kelly is fragile and will probably crumple under the increased pressure. My best bet4the finalz: The Zinger, The SuperModel and The Osmond Bro. The early line: I still think The Singer is a-M'ya-zing!...And, 2 of the 3 tapperz on SYTYCD are "shuffling off2Buffalo". I was surprised because I knew that @DizzyFeet has an appreciation for good hooferz. But, if anything was emphasized, it's that good choreography can save middlin-to-good dancerz...even the young onez. And, that contestants should croise their fingerz they draw Wade, Tyce, Napitha or Stacy Tookey to be their that Mia reportedly is off the show. And, the "dance4urlife" is also a test of contestants' ability to choreograph on themselves. Keep ur eyez on Victor, Ryan and Jakob! And, is it just me or all the girlz very e-z on the eyez? The sub-text seems2b dance well, but, "don't bother auditioning for the show unless you look like a model"! Is that a good message to send? Or just the cruel reality of performing arts?

11.09.2009: Hark! Less Injuries?

From the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries:
"...Tip of the Month

The adolescent dancer presents a unique set of physiological and psychosocial challenges for the teacher and dance medicine practitioner. Physically, the adolescent is undergoing enormous and rapid change, and dance training during this time must be modified to safely accommodate the growing body. Suggested Guidelines for Teaching Adolescent Dancers:

  1. Increase focus on trunk stabilization and pelvic control. Encourage proper alignment from the pelvis while working on technique and incorporate core stabilization into class work.
  2. Increase work on proprioception and balance in class. Utilize minimal contact with the barre in conjunction with simplified repertoire, and exercises with eyes closed at barre or center to improve balance and proprioceptive awareness.
  3. Decrease high intensity exercises and reduce repetitious activity in class. Focus instead on composition and/or character-expressive aspects of training.
  4. Decrease extreme range of motion in both dynamic and static activities. Shift the focus from high leg in battement and adagio to proper core control and pelvic alignment with these movements.
  5. Emphasize dynamic warm-up versus static stretch before class. A few minutes of light cardiovascular warm-up along with exercises to activate key core, hip, and pelvic musculature will help to engage and activate the proper muscles for use in class work.
  6. Educate dancers about the changes that take place during adolescence in order to minimize their anxiety and potential injury as their body matures. Explain how they may experience changes in technique, flexibility, and balance during this time, but these alterations are only temporary.
    • Encourage a healthy lifestyle outside of dance:
    • Proper nutrition and overall caloric intake
    • Healthy, well-rounded, non-dance interests/hobbies
    • Constructive social and health habits
    • Positive reinforcement about the changing body during adolescence and about artistic maturity..."

11.06.2009: Staring@Stats

Some interesting numbers (or not) from our webserver on hits to GoCCDC.Com from yesterday:
Top 9 accessing countries
524 United States
336 (Unknown)
22 China
6 Germany
4 France
3 Hong Kong
2 Russia
1 Belgium
1 Ukraine
...and, "Ni hao ma!" to the 25 Chinese! And, a big "Privyet! Kaak vasha de la!" to our Russian and Ukrainian visitorz!

11.05.2009: College of Knowledge

Breaking---Or braking?---Medical Gnuz:
(Courtesy Newswise) — Men and women become gradually less fit with age, with declines accelerating after age 45, according to a report in the JAMA/Archives journals. However, maintaining a healthy body mass index (BMI), not smoking and being physically active are associated with higher fitness levels throughout adult life.

“The U.S. population is aging and is becoming more obese and sedentary,” the authors write as background information in the article. “It is well documented that the cardiorespiratory fitness of men and women declines with age and that body composition and habitual physical activity are related to cardiorespiratory fitness.” Low fitness levels increase the risk of diseases and interfere with older adults’ ability to function independently.

The results also “showed that being active, keeping a normal BMI and not smoking were associated with substantially higher levels of cardiorespiratory fitness during the adult life span studied,” the authors write. “Being inactive and having a high BMI were associated with a lower age at which an individual could be expected to reach threshold cardiorespiratory fitness levels associated with substantially higher health risks.”

Given the high rates of obesity and low levels of physical activity previously observed in the general population, the results also suggest that more men and women will reach the fitness level designated by the Social Security Administration as representing disability at a younger age, the authors note. “These data indicate the need for physicians to recommend to their patients the necessity to maintain their weight, engage in regular aerobic exercise and abstain from smoking,” they conclude.

(Courtesy Newswise) — Healthy eating habits are an important part of maintaining a strong immune system. As cold and flu season get underway, breaking poor eating habits can not only prevent sickness, but also give you more energy, make you feel better about yourself, and help you live a healthier life. Ara DerMarderosian, PhD, and an expert in nutraceuticals and natural foods, provides guidance to change how you eat and break habits that pack on the pounds and compromise immunity.

Dr. DerMarderosian suggests the following healthy eating basics:

  • Don’t play “food police”: Be conscious of what and how much you eat, but don’t overdo self-monitoring to the point that a healthy lifestyle shifts from being a choice to becoming overwhelming, pushing other activities away and interfering with relationships.
  • Pay attention to true hunger: Listen to your hunger signals and refrain from eating when you’re not hungry. We often eat out of habit or on a time schedule, but eating when your body doesn’t need food can cause you to overindulge as it reduces the level of satisfaction gained from eating, which is how we know when to stop.
  • Eat slowly: Eat like a gourmet - savor each bite, chew methodically, and truly enjoy the taste of your food. Eating slowly gives your body time to break down the food, which can prevent post-meal indigestion and feeling bloated. You’re also likely to eat less if you eat slowly, as your stomach takes roughly 20 minutes to register that it’s full.
  • Focus on eating: Refrain from watching television, reading, working, and doing other distracting activities while you eat. When you’re not focused on eating, it’s unlikely you’ll notice how much is going in your mouth and you can easily eat twice the amount you intended.
  • Avoid eating when stressed: Stress is a well-known cause of overeating and digestive issues, such as heartburn. A relaxing atmosphere, enjoyable company and conversation, and not feeling rushed for time makes for a healthy meal.
  • Everything in moderation: You can enjoy your favorite sweets and indulgences in moderation, and as a modest part of an overall healthy diet. Eating food is pleasurable, so enjoy a few morsels of candy, but limit the quantity.

11.04.2009: Newz From 'Da Nort'!

One must strike whilst the iron's still plugged in, so, after hearing from CCDC Alum Sleepy Kewtie, sent this quickly back:
"...Your mom sez contract coming? Can u confirm? Howz the dancing going? Did you get a copy of The Program? R u coming back for Thanksgiving?..."
...and, (will wonders never cease!o), actually got this back!:
"...Update on the job front:

Last week after class, the teacher approached me and told me that they were looking for about four women dancers for the company's performance in March. She said that I was their first choice to join the company in January. They'll be doing 6 pieces in a show at the end of March, including Raymonda, maybe another classical thing, and a few contemporary, some of which will be choreographed by the company members/dancers. I told her that as long as I can work my schedule around it, and I am almost positive I can, I would love to join the company. So there's that!

Right now, I'm only able to take 1 or 2 ballet classes a week, which I know is horrible. Trust me, my body is not happy with that. So be prepared to kick my butt over winter break. But I've got modern class twice a week as well, along with rehearsals for both the Macalester fall show and the Enchanted Toy Shop, which is the Christmas show that SPCB is doing.

Did I mention that I got a couple of new roles in the Enchanted Toy Shop? They put me in ballerina dolls (no, not the Nutcracker one) because one girl can't do it one of the nights. Then I got put in Venetian Dolls as well, and ended up getting the lead role in that dance because the girl who was supposed to do it didn't show up for rehearsal and didn't tell anyone where she was. That dance has 7 girls total, all from the school (except me), and I'm basically just in the middle the whole time a get a couple little solo sections. It's not technically very difficult, but I'm not complaining.

If you have more questions, feel free to email me more. I'll try and keep you updated on any new developments. Can't wait to see you at Thanksgiving!


11.03.2009: My Many Media Mentions

Well, now thingz get interesting on DWT***. Last week, the weak got jettisoned and the non-dancerz got put on notice. So, say goodbye to the xTeenage Witch and the Snowboard Surfer Dude. I still think they should've been eliminated before the Olympic Swimmer, tho'. And, the NFL Hall o' Famer appearz to be living on borrowed time. But, after that, it becomes a race of attrition. How much better can the former xPreTeen Heartthrob and The Osbourne Offspring get at controlling their wild emotional roller coaster to deliver a compelling performance? Both have stepped up in recent performances, but, both appear vulnerable, erratic and fragile. Will The Ironic Chef be able to withstand the heat or get pushed outta the kitchen? His tumbling, gymnastic and martial arts skills can really enhance his performances! But, despite his flexibility, his dancing is a little stiff. And, ensconsed at the top of my leaderboard are still The Singer+The SuperModel...with The Osmond Brother making a determined bid to remain in the dance mix for the mirror-gall...And, the competition getting down2brass tax in SYTYCD. LOVED the performance pieces to intro the Top 20! (Loved to see tapperz how about a few more fully-trained ballet dancerz?) Everyone got to see the contenders in their genre of choice, their comfort zone. Then, the SYTYCurseD struck and struck hard! One dancer pulled out because of sickness...another injured in an auto accident! Hard to put the namez with the faces so early on...but, Jakob (?) opening a few eyes in the opening episodes, never bet against a big man dancing well. As always, expect the skill of the choreographers at showcasing their dancers' strengths with emotional and dramatic content to make a big difference in the voting results...and, expect the younger dancers (which there are a lot of this year!) to go first. Lotta 18-year olds dancing well to get into the competition, but, life experience can be a difference-maker during performances...and during the long grind of constant competition! It's a marathon, not a sprint! The difference between a good amateur and a decent professional is an amateur can be very good on occasion...a professional can deliver a high level over a long period of time. The money don't matter.

11.03.2009: Pix Reax

SOME of them are NOT dead! CCDC Alum, the former Sleepy Kewtie, manages to tear herself away from her raucous college social lif---I mean, tedious and studious cracking of the books, Mom!---to send this along:
"...Thanks for sending me those hilarious pictures of Halloween week at CCDC. I would like to say that I am very proud that the grand tradition of ridiculous Halloween costumes is being carried on with such enthusiasm! My congratulations to all who participated. Keep up the good work!


PS - I miss you all terribly..."

...and, another of the CCDC UnDead Alumni checks in:
"...Thanks!...These made me smile! I'll see you sometime this week!

(Lindy Vander Emmen)..."

10.30.2009: Build Better Butter4Ballet

So, if you watched DWT*** last week, you might've seen professional dancer Anna Demidova tell NFL Hall o' Famer Michael Irwin one of the training tricks that dance teachers have told students from time immemorial: "Dance as if you were holding a penny between your bottom cheeks!" Now, many teachers have used that instruction to try and get new dancers to keep the gluteus minimus muscles engaged during performances. But, very few instructors have ever experienced what happened next! The former Cowboys wide receiver walked over to his wallet and pulled out a coin. He put it...ah...where "the sun don't shine" and proceeded to practice the tango that way...much to Demidova's delight and amazement. (It worked btw, better scores that week!) So, I decided to use that "threat" to try and get CCDC dancers more aware of engaging the bottom of the bottom, so to speak. I brought some coins to class and mockingly threatened, "Don't make me give you one of these nickels! When we say we want you to become a 'professional dancer', this isn't what we mean!" (Oh, and lotta quips about "loose change", "hold on to your money, honey!" and "filthy lucre"!o) And, it seemed to make at least a little impact on "the bottom line"! But, then, one of our most motivated and promising students actually pulled a Michael Irwin on me! She went to the dressing room and got a penny. She came back, placed it in the area mentioned and did a few enchainments! Now, I've seen teachers who've actually used a pencil or paper between the inner adductors to produce proper bourre's, but, I've never had a student do jumps while trying to hold on to a penny without her hands! "Bottom line", hands down, bright future in store for any student that motivated to try to get better. Now, for you other CCDC ballet dancers: Got a coin? Get a clue! You don't have to do it in front of an entire class. But, find a fine and private place, close the door and "get a grip" on "buttressing" a strong base for your future in dance!o)

10.28.2009: Day Stretch

Here's some suggestions from Men's Health Magazine. It's intended for office workers, but, some of it could apply to you CCDC students, too:
"...Tightness in the shoulders, neck, and back leads to fatigue, soreness, and lack of mobility. It's a casualty of the modern desk job, and one of the greatest threats to your fitness plan. Which is why you should follow the 20/20 rule: Every 20 minutes, stand for 20 seconds and shake things out. That's all it takes to reduce fatigue, enhance blood flow, rejuvenate tired muscles, and banish back pain. Then, every two hours, run through the following stretches to enhance the effect:
Chest Elevation

Sit in a chair with your arms at your sides and your feet flat on the floor. Gently raise your chest toward the ceiling, keeping your chin level with the floor (don't look up). Hold for 10 seconds, relax, and repeat five times.

Scapular Retraction

Assume the position for a chest elevation, but this time place your hands on your hips. Then, squeeze your shoulder blades together, feeling the stretch in your chest. Hold for 10 seconds, relax, and repeat five times.

Upper Cervical Spine Flex

From the chest elevation position, dip your head forward slightly as if you were nodding “yes.” Feel the stretch in your neck at the base of your head. Hold for 10 seconds, relax, and repeat five times.

10.27.2009: Thingz That Go Battu In the Night!

Clarifying the Halloween Costume Week exemptions to the CCDC dress code: colored leotards and costumes are permitted this week. Just make sure the student can dance in the costume or can remove all or portions to fully participate in class. Also, remember to keep the safety of the dancer in mind. Clothing or costumes that could trip, constrict movement or entangle the dancer or other students must be removed. Masks or props that block or limit the vision of the dancer are also prohibited once class begins. Be safe! Have fun! Take pictures! We've already been visited by Cleopatra, Spider Woman and various other sprites, fairies, witches, zombies and soldiers. Next week it's back to standard dress code! Remember, when you look like a dancer, chances are you'll dance like a dancer!o)

10.26.2009: A Feast From The East

Rumours of her passing have apparently been greatly exaggerated! She is not dead!o) CCDC Alum Lindy Vander Emmen communicates from the beyond the Ivy:
"...Hi! I hope things are going wonderfully at the studio! How are Nut rehearsals going? I didn't mean to be a stranger for so long, but things are a bit crazy at school. My start at Princeton has been great! I live in Whitman College, which is basically a castle. It's gorgeous here with the leaves changing colours. Although, it's wicked cold now. I love my room and my roommates. They're all really nice girls. The dorm food isn't horrendous here; we almost always have good fresh veggies and fruit. As far as dance goes, I auditioned for but didn't make Princeton University Ballet. They didn't take many freshman, and I'm going to re-audition when I have more experience at Pton. Most days, I am able to take class. They offer class at noon in one of the many dance studios here. We have a live pianist, which is a lot of fun. There aren't as many personal corrections as your classes, but I have my little Missy and Emery on my shoulders. I am dancing with Princeton University Ballroom Club. I actually competed last weekend! I'm learning Standard and Latin, International Style. I placed in tango, rumba, and waltz. Ballroom is a lot of fun. I contribute my ability to pick it up quickly to ballet.

My academic classes are challenging but interesting. I'm taking International Politics, Spanish, Modern British Poetry, and a Public Policy class. Midterms are next week: I'm taking a break from studying to type this email! But after that, I will be home for a week, so expect to see me at the studio sometime! :)..."

10.23.2009: The Wheater Interview

So, I was between news coverage assignments when I took a chance and swung by the Civic Center hoping to talk with one of the dancers before the Joffrey Ballet concert last month. I was waiting outside the stage door trying to get the door-lady to contact a publicist when two tall men walked by. On a chance, I asked if they were with the company and if they'd agree to be interviewed. One of men said he was the Joffrey Artistic Director and he'd be glad to talk to me! Score! And, thanks to StPauliBoyzMom for transcribing the long-delayed posting of this conversation: Here it is:
CCDC: First of all, your name, title and organization?

AW: My name is Ashley Wheater, I am the artistic director of the Joffrey Ballet.

CCDC: And what is happening tonight?

AW: Tonight we are doing a benefit for the University of Iowa and Hancher Auditorium. It goes back a long way, the Joffrey and the Hancher Auditorium have had over a thirty year relationship of commissioned work and premieres in Iowa at the Hancher Auditorium. They were the people that sponsored Robert Joffrey’s creation of the Nutcracker also the revival and reconstruction of Le Sacre du Printemps which were two huge things that happened to the Joffrey. Billboards was another one. I danced with the Joffrey in the 80’s and then I came in as artistic director in 2007. When we heard about what had happened last year with all the rains and all the flooding, myself and my Executive Director, Christopher Conway, decided that we should do something for them because they’ve done so much for us and so we called Chuck Swanson, who is the head of Hancher Auditorium, and said that we wanted to do a benefit to raise money to rebuild the Hancher Auditorium.

CCDC: It’s actually in two parts. You’ve already done one (benefit performance) in Chicago and now you’re doing one here.

AW: We did what was a kick-off in Chicago, so we did two short performances as a taste as to what we’re going to be doing tonight. Tonight is the full company with orchestra. It’s an all new work for the company apart from the opening piece because we’re honoring Gerald Arpino and so we’re doing his Kettentanz.

CCDC: This is a way for a company to say thank you, to repay what Hancher has done for the company, because I think, wasn’t it Mr. Joffrey who made the comment that without Hancher, without Iowa, there would be no Joffrey?

AW: That’s true. I mean, I always think of when people think of the Joffrey Ballet, and they think about how the Joffrey Ballet has spread its message and its art right across the Midwest and Iowa is such an important state in that happening, and so for years, we’ve toured across Iowa. The last time we were here was the River to River Tour. I have great memories of working my summers in Iowa University on all these projects that have been supported by Hancher and the University of Iowa.

CCDC: So, tell people who maybe, perhaps, aren’t real dance fans, about what, I’m assuming, will be a very accessible program.

AW: I would say to everybody, whether you think you like dance or you’re not sure, this program is so accessible. There is Christopher Wheeldon who is an extremely talented choreographer, we’re doing his Carousel A Dance which is the gorgeous music of Carousel by Richard Rogers. We are also doing a piece by Lar Lubovitch who is an alumni of the University of Iowa and is considered one of the most pre-eminent contemporary choreographers in America today. We’re doing a piece of his called …Smile with my heart also by Richard Rogers so there are two great pieces of music and two great pieces of dance. We’re also doing a world premiere that was done for the Joffrey Ballet last fall by a young Chinese American Ed Liang which is the music of Phillip Glass and Thomas Newman and it is such a fantastic piece of work and we open the program with Gerald Arpino’s Kettentanz. So I think there is something in the program for everyone. Everywhere that we have performed this year, we have reached out to a lot of people that weren’t sure about dance but I’ve heard nothing but incredible positive reaction to all our performances. This is a one-time-only opportunity to see a very special program that we put together for this event tonight.

CCDC: Talk directly to my listeners, they’re thinking “Oh, it’s Friday night, what am I going to do tonight? Maybe this, maybe that?” Why should they come support this?

AW: I would’s on so many different levels. I would say come and see the performance tonight because first of all, the Joffrey Ballet is one of America’s greatest companies. It also has had such a following in the Midwest. Come and see the performance tonight because you will see such a high level of dancing, it will knock your socks off. And come and see the performance tonight because it supports raising money to rebuild a theater and if we don’t have the arts, we really don’t have a lot left in our lives. Whether people love music, whether it’s country music, rock and roll, classical music, whether it’s theater, whether it’s dance, these are parts that make us up as human beings and we need that. We need to feed our souls. So if you love dance or even if you want to support the arts in general, come and see the performance tonight. I promise you, you will not be disappointed.

CCDC: The recession has kind of affected a lot of the arts ….

AW: ...It has.

CCDC: ...A lot of times the first thing to get tossed overboard, people think that arts training or support for the arts is optional, but you’re making the exact opposite argument: arts is what makes life worth living.

AW: It does and I think that what we’ve seen with this really, really tough economic times and really a deep recession, is that there are a lot of organizations that are saying that if you want to keep at it, don’t just let everything go. Don’t let your standards go, don’t get rid of live music, because they’re essential and I think that there is always a way to make it work. As hard as it is, there is always a way to make it work. And I think that we will get through this time. We have got through many other difficult times. It’s a very poignant day that it would be September 11th; I think all of us realize what that means and how we support and hold each other up through difficult times. And I think that for the Joffrey to be here and supporting Iowa and the Hancher Auditorium is equally important.

CCDC: For the CCDC dance students out there, what would it take for them to get into the Joffrey? When you hold an open audition, what are you looking for? What rules them out, what rules them in?

AW: I think that the demands for dancers today are so high especially as you were saying earlier, there are many companies that are losing their funding and not being able to survive. At The Joffrey---The Joffrey has always been known to have a huge eclectic repertoire and so when dancers come to audition or come through the school in Chicago, because we have a school in Chicago, they are trained in classical ballet but also in contemporary dance, great partnering skills. And so looking at a dancer who has the ability to be able to want to be in a company like the Joffrey, who is with a positive attitude, who understands that to get anywhere in life takes a lot of commitment, it takes a lot of discipline and you have to have a talent. But talent comes in many different forms and shapes and sizes and so it’s always that person that has that love for what they do and they have the determination to follow it through.

CCDC: Do you see dancers audition sometimes sabotage their efforts because they want it so much or they are focusing so hard on just doing an audition well that you don’t see their personality?

AW: Sometimes that does happen. I think that people get very nervous and so a part of them start to shut down or they are so concerned with getting the combination right or they don’t listen to the music so you say to yourself, wow, is that a musical dancer or does that dancer have a personality? When you see someone who feels encouraged and nurtured, you see, it’s like a flower-you suddenly see it blossom and come into full bloom and that is really what a director should be doing, should be nurturing and caring for the dancers and helping them attain a higher level of performance in every capacity.

CCDC: And that first step would be to come see you guys tonight to see what standards the company is upholding?

AW: I would say that I think the company is dancing so beautifully right now and I don’t know when we will be back in Des Moines so it is a great opportunity for people to come out and see a really fantastic evening of music, of dance and for an extremely good cause.

CCDC: Talk to everybody that says "I can always rent a dvd, I can see it on You Tube"...What’s the difference between that and a live dance performance?

AW: It’s never the same, it’s never the same. The thing about dvd and video, it’s two- dimensional and the thing about live performance is that you have, it attacks all your senses- visually, audibly. And to sit there and see these people that are presenting-there is a direct communication between the dancer and the audience that is in a theater and you will never get that on YouTube and you will never get that on dvd because there is always that mirror of glass there.

CCDC: Is there anything else I should have asked you?

AW: No, I just…we are really thrilled to be here, we have a really busy schedule but I think we all feel it’s about supporting everyone, it’s about supporting the arts and supporting economies. We are the major ballet company in the Midwest, based in Chicago, and so our goal is to bring the highest level of dance across the Midwest.

10.23.2009: Audition Action

Calling all singer/dancer/actors!
"...Auditions for Beyond the Rainbow will be held at The Playhouse at 6:00 P.M. on Sunday, Nov. 15. All auditions are open to the public; no one is pre-cast. Those auditioning for the Judy Garland role must bring a prepared solo; an accompanist will be provided.

Beyond the Rainbow contains feature roles for two men and three women, ages 16 and up. Performances are Jan. 29-Feb. 21. Beyond the Rainbow is directed by Deena Conley and music direction by Phil King.

Judy Garland's legendary Carnegie Hall concert is the setting for a musical journey through this amazing performer's life in Beyond the Rainbow. Each of the show's 25 songs - The Trolley Song, Stormy Weather, For Me and My Gal, Over the Rainbow - comes with a story of Judy's journey from poverty to stardom.

For up-to-date audition information and general guidelines, visit The Playhouse website..."

10.22.2009: Inquiring Mindz Wanna Know!

Latest questions submitted to Madison Keesler of the San Francisco Ballet. Watch4Answerz4Dancerz soon:

  1. You just got back from a trip to China. What are your top three memories of that visit? What was the worst thing? I've read about the rock-hard stages...and beds! What was your favorite sight in China? What was the most unexpected? Favorite city? What was the best new thing you ate? What was the most disappointing? What made you think, "Well, Maddie, I don't think we're in San Francisco anymore!"

  2. Backtrack and tell us how you ended up at SFB. One day I'm reading about you flying to Germany to dance there. The next thing I read is you're in SF getting ready to join the company! Fill in the blanks, plz! Inquiring minds wanna know!o)

  3. Talk about the cultural differences between dancing in Germany and NoCal. How are the dancers different? The same? How about the audiences? I hear there's a different work ethic between European dancers and American-trained dancers. Is that true?

  4. What cross-training disciplines are you involved in? Pilates? Yoga? What styles? You said you used to take three or more classes a day as a student. Were they all ballet/pointe/pas de deux? Or what other dance styles are you trained in? Jazz? HipHop? Tap? Specific styles of modern?

  5. What type of pointe shoes do you wear? How do you prepare them? Jet glue?

  6. What's your favorite role so far? What was your best moment on stage like? Do you consider yourself better in classical or contemporary choreography? Plotless or character-driven? What would be your dream role? Dream choreographer to work with?

  7. What's the best advice you've ever been given in dance? What's the most helpful technical correction you remember? What was the last correction you were given in class? What technique are you working on right now? How do you prepare for a dramatic role?

10.21.2009: ReTweet!

This just tweeted from the producer of SYTYCD:
"...Top 20 tonight with possibly the biggest surprise EVER on SYTYCD!!!..."
...think @DizzyFeet is trying to get people to tune in? Calm down, Nigel, I'm already time-shifting tonight's program to when I'm not teaching!

10.20.2009: Itinerary Up8!

Just got a call from the maternal unit of the SaintPauliBoy with this message: apparently, the Friday night performance of his professional debut is SOLD OUT! So, don't bother traveling to the Twin Cities that night hoping to catch the show unless you want to stand outside the theater fidgeting and freezing in the late fall Minnesota cold while waving one finger in the air...or unless you have an insider trading account at the ballet section of StubHub.Com!o) That free ticket offer must be working wonders! BTW, that's the same theater that Garrison Keilor broadcasts from on Minnesota Public Radio. More info
here. And, just got word from our crack team of volunteer transcribers working on that Ashley Wheater interview. Turns out to be more time intensive than originally estimated. Bad news is: we'll all have to wait a little longer be4 we get to read that interview on this ballet blog! Good news is: it's coming! Hang in there.

10.20.2009: Putting "The Me" in "The Media"

Okay, not gonna spend a lotta time braking down the dancing on DWT***. Just waiting for some of the so-called celebrities to be put out of our misery! But, must say that The Ironic Chef could be this year's David Alan Grier! Read that as tons of unrealized potential that gets eliminated be4 his time...unless Mark Dacascos makes a brake threw. And, after viewing last week's performances, it's a parent2me that the judges over-reacted positively to the No Longer Teenage Witch's Charleston. And, that costume didn't help Melissa Joan Hart at all! And, they under-appreciated the No Longer Teen Heart Throb. Donny Osmond used his strength and experience as a performer to deliver a top-notch Charleston! Clearly the performance of the knight! So, this is how I loosely group The Anointed: M'ya, Natalie, Joanna and, possibly, Donnie and Mark. The Soon2BDisappointed include the rest: Aaron, Melissa, Louie, Michael and Kelly. Doesn't take a dance genius to handicap this reality competition! Just gotta pointe out that the male contestants will probably be whittled down over the next few weaks leaving just The Singer, The Swimmer and The Supermodel to battle it out for the mirror-ball trophy...And, just w8ng for the top 20 in SYTYCD this week! Hope it can live up to the hype!...And, a final word on ABDC. I was really nonplussed that WeRSheroez turned out to be the last krew standing. I was really surprised to see AfroBorike make it to the top two. I was astonished to see Massive Monkeez slip on a banana peal off the monkey barrez! I thot Rhythm City wuz sneaky good! (Love Ashleighz smile!o) My analysis was way off the audience voting mark! Let that b a lesson to you aspiring dance bloggers: That voting public will always b the wild card that can trump good dancing!

10.19.2009: Newz From Da North!

Note from SaintPauliBoy to anyone considering heading to the Twin Cities to watch his professional dance debut! (And, sorry GitUrFaShawn! Looks like our own Nutty rehearsals will prevent CCDC teachers from attending!)
"...In order to get free tickets to Ballet Minnesota's fall performance, all you have to do is call the Fitzgerald Theater Box Office at 651-290-1221 and mention ArtCrawl 2009 I hope to see you all there!..."
...and, from recent conversations with SaintPauliGirl, seems BalletJoMacAlester has discovered there's dance after high school after all. She's been invited to perform as a guest dancer with Saint Paul City Ballet in their holiday performances. And, she's also been offered an opportunity to dance in their spring performance as well...with some talk of being offered a company position! So does that mean her picture in the lobby will magically migrate to the CCDC Hall of Fame? (That's the wall that features pictures of CCDC graduates who went on to contracts with professional dance companies). After some discussion, it comes down to this: sign a contract first, we move the pix second!o)

10.16.2009: More Answerz From Dancerz!

...and, then, I realized I had been guilty of stereotyping Madison Keesler of San Francisco Ballet as "a bunhead" who had no interest in sports. So, I sent along the last question I asked the SaintPauliBoy:
Bonus question: Do you think Brett Favre will take the Vikings to the Super Bowl? Is that a big topic of conversation on the streets of the twin cities? (or SF?)

"I wish I could give you an answer to that but unfortunately I don't really follow American football. I guess I am regrettably going to have to say you were right to think that I would not know....
..."American Football"? Having lived and danced in Europe for a season, is Madd Keyz now a fan of Real Madrid? Hopefully, she'll have a chance to provide more "Answerz From Dancerz" soon! Inquiring mindz wanna know!o) (And, if you're having trouble finding it in the archives, here's
the link to SaintPauliBoy's answers to the same survey (Page down to 08.26.2009).

10.15.2009: The Reel Madd Skyllz!o)

I've been waiting for a couple of weeks to get back "answers from dancerz". Specifically, Madison Keesler who's in her first season with my favorite company, the San Francisco Ballet. I first encountered Madd Keyz when she became a contributor on one of my favorite dance websites, TheWinger.Com. She's also on Twitter. On a long shot, I tweeted her and asked if she'd answer the questions I just sent and posted from the StPauliBoy who's also in his first season with a ballet company in the Twin Cities. She said yes and (after her trip to China with SFB) sent this along. I think you'll agree it's well worth the wait:
What's your dance and rehearsal schedule like?
"Right now we are on what is called the "off-season" which means we are rehearsing but not performing. Our days start with class from 10:00AM-11:15AM and while rehearsals vary, we can work anytime from 11:30AM-7:30PM with an hour for lunch."

How big are the studios?
"San Francisco Ballet has absolutely beautiful facilities that are located right across the street from the opera house where we perform. They are state of the art and range greatly in size. I believe our biggest studio is double the size of our stage, so it is very large."

How many other dancers are in your company?
"There are almost 70 dancers in the company this season."

How many men? Women? What are the other dancers like?
"There are about 31 men, and about 37 women. This company has a very diverse group of dancers that come from all over the world, not just America. This is my first year with SFB but I quickly felt accepted and appreciated by all of the dancers here. They are beautiful people and magnificent artists."

Tell us about company classes? How are the rehearsal run? Do you have a pianist? Live Music?
"Company class is almost always from 10:00am to 11:15am. The way the class runs varies from day to day. Most days the entire company will take class together, while other days they might split the classes up by male and female. Rehearsals will also differ depending on what we are rehearsing. Rehearsals such as Swan Lake may be more straight forward while a new work would be much more of a creative process for both dancer and choreographer."

What's your performance schedule like this year? Any touring?
"San Francisco Ballet just got back from a three week tour in China, which was an amazing experience. SFB's performing season runs from January until the beginning of May."

What's the hardest or biggest adjustment so far from student to professional? What's been easier than you thought it might've been?
"Thankfully my training at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet and San Francisco Ballet School? made me feel almost completely ready for what a professional life would be like. The main difference for me has been finding the self motivation. During my years as a student I took three or more classes a day so it was very easy to stay in shape and continue improving. Now in the company I have one class a day and then it is up to me to figure out what my body needs. Sometimes that might be working out more at the gym or maybe taking some classes with the school. It is all about trying to find a balance."

How well prepared do you feel as you begin your professional career? What do you wish you had worked harder on when you were a student? What are you doing to keep improving yourself?
"This is my second year in a company but I do and did feel very well prepared for my professional career. I am very far from where I want to be and I have countless things to work on but that is how it will always be. There is no such thing as perfection in this career so I am always striving for more. I know I have a lot of things that need to improve and I am excited to continue working hard and pushing myself as far as I can go."

What's it like living away from home? Any disasters or near-disasters so far?
"My first year living away from home was actually my year with San Francisco Ballet School. During that year I lived in the Jackson House as it is called with about 24 other dancers. The following year, my first year in a professional company, I lived in an apartment in Hamburg, Germany. Now I currently live with two of my friends who dance with San Francisco Ballet. I wish I had a good story for you but so far there have been no disasters! I'm going to keep my fingers crossed that it stays that way."

What's the city like? Your apartment? Do you have a car, car-pool or use public transportation?
"The city of San Francisco is wonderful. I love the atmosphere and even though I have not lived here very long it already feels like a place I can call home. I'm lucky enough to be sharing a beautiful apartment with two other friends of mine and we live close enough to the ballet studios to walk. I do not have a car but San Francisco has very easy public transportation."

What do you miss the most as you begin your professional career? What do you miss the least?
"To be very honest I have never thought about it. I try to live in the present moment and not compare things too much. I guess I do miss the consistency you have while training in a school as opposed to a constantly changing schedule as a professional."

What advice do you have for any CCDC student hoping to follow in your footsteps to becoming a professional dancer? What do you know now that you wished you had known when you were a student?
"My only advice would be to do what make you happy. While this is an amazing career it can also be a very difficult one filled with a lot of challenges. If you don't love dancing with all of your heart I would suggest you find something else. Life is too short to live any other way but happy."
...and, a big mahalo nui loa to Madison for agreeing to answer the questions. Hopefully, this won't be the last time you read her contributions here. And, it might be fun to compare and contrast her experiences with the StPauliBoyz earlier in this blog.

10.14.2009: Help!

Okay, I know I've been promising to transcribe the interview with Joffrey Ballet Artistic Director Ashley Wheater for some time now, but, there's just no down time for weary old ballet bloggerz! But, I'm still looking for ways to get that information out there. I could e-mail an .mp3 to someone who could transcribe the thing for us. Or, if someone knows how to post the audio to the blog that would solve our problem. Or, I could just send the .mp3 to anyone who e-mails in a request! (But, with our massive reading audience, that could involve of e-mails!o) So, I'll keep working to find a solution, but, if you have a suggestion, e-mail me...Also, (and, I'll tweet this as well) I'm looking for input from new professional dancers in their first year with a ballet company. (Still waiting to get back one from SFB!o) I want to get input on helping students make the transition from a school to a company. Think it could be instructive to compare it to the answers from CCDC's own St Pauli Boy! So, if you are one or know one, tell them to e-mail me and I'll send them a list of questions. Mahalo nui loa!

10.13.2009: Fake It 'Til Ya Make It!

Stand up straight! Listen to your ballet teacher! Dancer's self-esteem must be off the charts!o):
(Courtesy Newswise — Sitting up straight in your chair isn’t just good for your posture – it also gives you more confidence in your own thoughts, according to a new study.

Researchers found that people who were told to sit up straight were more likely to believe thoughts they wrote down while in that posture concerning whether they were qualified for a job.

On the other hand, those who were slumped over their desks were less likely to accept these written-down feelings about their own qualifications.

The results show how our body posture can affect not only what others think about us, but also how we think about ourselves, said Richard Petty, co-author of the study.

“Most of us were taught that sitting up straight gives a good impression to other people,” Petty said. “But it turns out that our posture can also affect how we think about ourselves. If you sit up straight, you end up convincing yourself by the posture you’re in.”

The study included 71 students at Ohio State. When they entered the lab for the experiment, the participants were told they would be taking part in two separate studies at the same time, one organized by the business school and one by the arts school.

They were told the arts study was examining factors contributing to people’s acting abilities, in this case, the ability to maintain a specific posture while engaging in other activities. They were seated at a computer terminal and instructed to either “sit up straight” and “push out [their] chest]” or “sit slouched forward” with their “face looking at [their] knees.”

While in one of these positions, students participated in the business study, which supposedly investigated factors contributing to job satisfaction and professional performance.

While holding their posture, students listed either three positive or three negative personal traits relating to future professional performance on the job.

After completing this task, the students took a survey in which they rated themselves on how well they would do as a future professional employee.

The results were striking.

How the students rated themselves as future professionals depended on which posture they held as they wrote the positive or negative traits.

Students who held the upright, confident posture were much more likely to rate themselves in line with the positive or negative traits they wrote down.

In other words, if they wrote positive traits about themselves, they rated themselves more highly, and if they wrote negative traits about themselves, they rated themselves lower.

“Their confident, upright posture gave them more confidence in their own thoughts, whether they were positive or negative,” Petty said.

However, students who assumed the slumped over, less confident posture, didn’t seem convinced by their own thoughts – their ratings didn’t differ much regardless of whether they wrote positive or negative things about themselves.

The end result of this was that when students wrote positive thoughts about themselves, they rated themselves more highly when in the upright than the slouched posture because the upright posture led to confidence in the positive thoughts.

However, when students wrote negative thoughts about themselves, they rated themselves more negatively in the upright than the slouched posture because the upright posture led to more confidence in their negative thoughts.

Petty emphasized that while students were told to sit up straight or to slump down, the researchers did not use the words “confident” or “doubt” in the instructions or gave any indication about how the posture was supposed to make them feel.

In a separate experiment, the researchers repeated the same scenario with a different group of students, but asked them a series of questions afterwards about how they felt during the course of the study.

“These participants didn’t report feeling more confident in the upright position than they did in the slouched position, even though those in the upright position did report more confidence in the thoughts they generated,” Petty said.

That suggests people’s thoughts are influenced by their posture, even though they don’t realize that is what’s happening.

“People assume their confidence is coming from their own thoughts. They don’t realize their posture is affecting how much they believe in what they’re thinking,” he said.

“If they did realize that, posture wouldn’t have such an effect.”

This research extends a 2003 study which found similar results for head nodding. In that case, people had more confidence in thoughts they generated when they nodded their head up and down compared to when they shook their head from side to side.

However, Petty noted that body posture is a static pose compared to head nodding, and probably more natural and easy to use in day-to-day life.

“Sitting up straight is something you can train yourself to do, and it has psychological benefits – as long as you generally have positive thoughts,” he said.

For example, students are often told when taking a multiple-choice test that if they’re not absolutely sure of the answer, their first best guess is more often correct.

“If a student is sitting up straight, he may be more likely to believe his first answer. But if he is slumped down, he may change it and end up not performing as well on the test,” he said.

Flexibility pays off:
Courtesy Newswise) — How far you can reach beyond your toes from a sitting position – normally used to define the flexibility of a person’s body – may be an indicator of how stiff your arteries are.

A study has found that, among people 40 years old and older, performance on the sit-and-reach test could be used to assess the flexibility of the arteries. Because arterial stiffness often precedes cardiovascular disease, the results suggest that this simple test could become a quick measure of an individual’s risk for early mortality from heart attack or stroke.

“Our findings have potentially important clinical implications because trunk flexibility can be easily evaluated,” said one of the authors, Kenta Yamamoto. “This simple test might help to prevent age-related arterial stiffening.”

It is not known why arterial flexibility would be related to the flexibility of the body in middle age and older people. But the authors say that one possibility is that stretching exercises may set into motion physiological reactions that slow down age-related arterial stiffening.

Wash ur handz!o):
(Courtesy Newswise) — A poll reveals that when in a public restroom without soap or towels, 74 percent of American adults who use public restrooms would rinse their hands with water and let them air dry. “They might as well not even bother,” says John Cmar, M.D. “Washing with water alone does not get rid of microbes – the action of working up a lather with soap, and then rinsing it off, is what washes them away. Plus, by touching the sink faucet – one of the dirtiest things in a restroom – these people could be adding even more germs to their hands.”

“To avoid getting sick, it is critical that people know how to wash their hands the right way,” says Jackie Daley of Sinai Hospital. “Many people think the water temperature kills the germs on their hands, but water from a faucet could never get hot enough to do that,” she says. “The keys are the soap, the length of scrubbing time and drying your hands thoroughly with towels afterwards.” Daley stresses that people need to scrub their hands with soap and water for at least 15 to 20 seconds – about the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” through twice. If soap and water are not available, then an alcohol-based hand rub will work to destroy germs.

American adults also said that concern over H1N1 flu has affected their hand hygiene habits. Nearly 8 out of 10 adults claim to wash their hands more frequently or thoroughly – 54 percent wash their hands more frequently in general; 45 percent wash them more frequently after being in a public place; and 44 percent wash them more thoroughly now than they did before concerns about H1N1.

10.12.2009: Chance4FreeDance

Herez an upd8 from SaintPauliBoy for any1 who mayb thinking about road-trippin2catch his professional debut:
"...Hello again! I just found out some great news for anyone thinking about coming up to see my performance(s) in November! If you order using the password "ArtCrawl 2009," tickets are FREE. I'm still trying to figure out how exactly to purchase tickets this way, but I'll get back to you when I know more!..."
...also, if you check out his new company's old website, you might recognize a distinctive profile or two in silhouette in their publicity shots!

10.09.2009: Insight Out

Go backstage with "a dancer's eye" view from a recent performance with CCDC's Alissa Hamer-Hitz-Homerz!:
"...Finally, here is my "view from the inside" on our latest Hurley and Dancers show.

Since Hurley and Dancers does so many varied engagements, preparing for each show presents new and different challenges. The latest show we did was for the Art Stop series. We danced at 2AU, a jewelry gallery...on September 12th. Our challenge for this show was a very, VERY limited performance space. It was about five feet by 10 feet (think less than a quarter of the small studio)! Also, we knew we would be dancing around glass jewelry cases so we couldn't get too crazy with jumps and lifts. Also we got confirmation that we were dancing less than 2 months before the show. Since we only rehearse once a week, we had to put together a dance quickly.

Taking these challenges into consideration, Kathleen created a piece for us based on six different movement phrases. Each phrase was very dynamic and had a lot of level changes without moving too "big" so we didn't outgrow our space. All 5 dancers learned each phrase. Then as we were putting the piece together, the phrases were arranged and re-arranged into solos and duets, with them overlapping the previous solo or duet and changing orders. After the first rotation of solos, Kathleen had us play with the tempo and quality of the phrase to make it look different from the first time it was done (we went through 3 complete rotations of the piece). It ended up to be about 7:45 long, so we called it 7 3/4 Live.

The day of the show we warmed up at Kathleen's house then went to the gallery. It was a breezy and sunny day. We performed the piece five times total in the span of an hour. Some members of the audience stayed to watch several performances. Due to the set up of the space, the audience was very close, often watching from less than a foot away. The "4th wall" didn't exist, so each movement and facial expression was extremely important. The audience turnout was awesome! We had a great time rehearsing and preparing for the piece as well as performing.

A big special thanks to (Marguerite du Armaund) for helping out with the programs. Also thanks to all my awesome dancers who came out to watch the show.

Keep watching out for news on our spring performance!

A :)..."

10.08.2009: Newz Of The Prodigal Son

Fascinating (and very detailed) note from recent CCDC alum Saint Pauli Boy now into the second month of his first season of his professional dance career in the twin cities. But, I've been expressly forbidden from posting it on the ballet blog! But, I'm breaking that embargo a bit to pass on this info if you want to catch his professional debuts:
"...Performances of the Fall Show: November 6th (7:30) and November 7th (2:00 and 7:30)

Performances of the Nutcracker: December 16th (10:00), 17th (10:30), 18th (10:00 and 7:00), 19th (2:00 and 7:30) and 20th (2:00)

Check here for details, correct dates..."

...He also says he'll try to make it back to town for Thanksgiving. Gap Boy says he reads the blog daily, so, he should know we got his message and will get back to him as quickly as possible

10.08.2009: Teacher of Teachers

"Who do you think taught your teacher that?"...that was the thought that remained unsaid the other night when a new student commented on an upper-body stretch I'd been encouraging her to try. "Oh, (Fill in name hear) taught me that already", she said. Now, that name is not unfamiliar to me. You see I actually taught that correction (and others) to that student-turned-teacher when I subbed at the old company school while she was still a junior in high school. So, now, I am a teacher of teachers. (At least five of the students I used to teach then are or were teaching in the area now.) And, I'm glad that my corrections are spreading outwards from me into another generation of dancers that I am not even directly teaching. But, when you're getting corrections directly from me, don't assume it's an invitation to a conversation. And, I am your teacher now, don't tell me that you already know a correction that I taught your teachers a generation ago. (Yes, I'm older than I look! AND, I know I look old!o) Teacher of teachers sounds good. But, I'd rather be a teacher of good people first. And, then, a teacher of young professional dancers. After you're done with your professional career, if you're so motivated, you can teach. But, dance while you're young. And, then, you can help me pass on what was taught to me to a new generation of dancers. (And, the teacher of my teacher was someone whose name you may have heard before...George Balanchine. Ring a bell?)

10.08.2009: Feetz! Don't Flail Me Now!

My teaching and rehearsing schedule cleared up enough this year to allow me to get back into CCDC tap classes. It's been over a year since I've "hoofed it" regularly, so, I haven't quite gotten my "tap chops" back yet. (There's a feeling in your feet when you've warmed up and practiced enough that's "clear, concise and complete"! Sorry ABC5! Like a typewriter run amok comes to mind!o) Now, apparently out of the blue, comes this note:
Michael Flatley's
Lord of the Dance

November 3 at 7:30 pm -- Stephens Auditorium
Tickets go on sale October 9
...Coincidence? I think not! Someone must be nervous about the competition and is apparently coming to the Capital City area to pick up some new riffs!o) I actually caught a Flatley performance on a previous national tour a few years ago. Definitely worth watching live when you get the chance. (Just don't expect him to be a good host of a televised dance competition. Hey, Mikey! Shut up and dance!o)

10.07.2009: Good Gnuz!

Nice note in the emailbag this morning to brighten my day. But, "momz" the word! Situation still developing, still fluid, so, don't wanna jinx recent developments! Mustn't let the cat pas de chat outta 'da bag yet! All we can say right now is: watch the walls in the CCDC lobby! Stay tuned! I've said too much already! Loose slips, slink tips!

10.06.2009: Parsing DWT***

The third DWT*** results show is tonight, and, sight unseen, my guess is that Tom Delay will fail to muster enough votes this election (again). He's a gamer and battling injury, but, voters may put him out of our misery tonight! The Ultimate Fighter actually showed some improvement in his tango last weak. It'll be interesting to see if his improvement outlasts voters' impatience. But, unfortunately, The Iron Chef and The Rock Princess failed to build on their impressive first impressions in weak one. Mark Dacascos managed an impressive recovery from an early slip. He's still got a dancer's posture and flexibility to build on. Just needs to work on that musicality and pliability. (I actually recall his name from his pre-chef martial arts competition daze.) Kelly Osborne needs to get out of her head and start listening to the music and following Louis' strong lead. He kept trying to get her attention, but, she was so nervous, she wasn't listening or feeling or following. She's her own worst enemy. (Should sound familiar to some of you CCDC students!o) The first week's first impressions of the "anointed" and "soon2bdisappointed" still stand! Put your money on early favorite Mya! Also, keep an eye on The Swimmer+The Model to win,place or show. Still don't think the men stand a chance to end up hoisting the mirror-ball by its petard this season. And, BTW, LOVED Baz Luhrman as guest judge last weak. I still drag out the DVD of his Strictly Ballroom about once a year to get lost in that ball-vroom world. (If u haven't scene it, u should! She starts off like a mouse and ends up looking like a princess! And, I can hear that Moulin Rouge DVD from the Red Curtain Trilogy calling my name!o)

10.06.2009: Health? Or Hype?

RUSlamming NRG Drinx constantly in hopes of 5Hour NRG while staying slim+trim? Better think twice b4 u pop that tab! Read this tip from Men's Health Mag:
"...Red Bull Gives You. . .Fat?

Why more energy doesn't always translate into a flatter belly

The science is in: Energy drinks are worse for your gut than soda, according to a team of researchers in New Zealand. Blame it on the sugar. The scientists observed that downing an energy drink containing 80 mg caffeine and 24 g sugar—about the amount in an 8.3-ounce can of Red Bull—completely inhibited people’s ability to burn fat. “While caffeine does help speed metabolism, combining it with sugar negates its short-term fat-burning benefits,” says lead author Elaine Rush, Ph.D...."

...and just a side note: I've been drinking tea for its reported health benefits for awhile now. But, now, I find I've been ruined! Cashed in some gift certificates for Gong Fu Tea in the East Village recently and now I find I'm turning up my nose at what used to be perfectly good bruise made from my bagged tea stash! When I went in to the store, I intended to just buy some bagged tea to use at work, but, the tea-rista at the counter almost gasped aghast when I asked for tea in bags. OK, I used to brew loose tea using tea balls until it became too much work. So, I asked the tea-rista for those mesh spoons to speed up the process. She almost started steaming herself as she struggled to explain to me that properly brewed tea "needed to breathe"! (Breathe under hot water? What am I brewing? Fish tea?!) Long story shorter, I ended up spending way more than my gift certificates for a mesh tea brewer and four batches of gourmet tea: Prince of Wales, Organic Emperor's Gold, Korean Red Ginseng and Ancient Happiness! And, let me tell ya! This "ancient" is real "happy" with what I've got! (Thanx, Margaruite Du Armaund+family!o) Now, I've got a request in to upgrade my home brewing apparatus, because I am now an uppity, snobby tea gourmand, tenkubiddy mush! Now, excuse me, I have some tea I have to allow to "breathe" under some simmering, steaming water!o)

10.05.2009: Brush With Greatness

The name of Japan's prima ballerina assolutta, Yoko Morishita (and husband Tetsutaro Shimizu) came up as I was reminiscing in a ballet class this weekend. (And...the older I get, the better I was!o) Thought it might be instructive to see if I could find any YouTube video of either. Did find this: (Now THAT'S how you do multiple fouette's!o)

...there was also another video of the pair, but, the audio wasn't synched to the dancing, so, it looks really odd. If you search for it, I'd watch with audio muted.

10.02.2009: Assembling Input

Here's an e-contribution from another CCDC student:
"...I was poking around on You Tube, found clips of some vaganova classes at the academy – goodness knows from when…but they were doing a combination that looked frighteningly similar to the “every assemble” combination that we do – but they do more different kinds of assembles than we do (so much for being every one known to man, lol!) thought you would find it entertaining, and that’s all it is – entertainment, not ideas for later! ..."
...and, fare warning! That "every assemble' known to man" combination will be making its reappearance very, very soon!o)

...and Eli Gunsho followed that up with:

"...(and) i found this article, and something on that particular studio's website said that the boy is actually debuting as the next Billy Elliot on Broadway. i didn't know if you knew, thought it was a nice story and a lesson in going to class, and working after class on that "last correction" and how all of us "bipolarinas" can use our emotion to enhance our dance (how he used his dance to mourn his father) rather than letting it harm us...and (here's a link) to the national thing about his officially joining the cast..."
...Thanx4sharing, Eli!o) And, 4the rest of U, if U ever run across something on the web of dance interest4all, Remember! Sharing is caring!

10.01.2009: Another One Bites The Dust

Frequent contributor sends in this sobering news:
Ballet To Fold After 2010 Season - The Omaha Theater Ballet, the city's only professional dance company, will fold its dance company and dance school after the 2010 season.
...and, more from the Omaha World-Herald . Sad. Back when I was dancing professionally, the Capital City and Omaha both had thriving strong ballet companies. But, what's happened since? Both have disappeared leaving a huge void of role models for aspiring dancers in both areas. But, there was a time there when Omaha managed to field a small, but, artistically promising troupe. (Including an apprenticeship for CCDC alum Mayor River, who qualified to have her photo be the first to hang in the CCDC Wall of Fame in the studio lobby.) Now, disappointing to learn that the attempt to revive professional ballet in Nebraska's largest city appears to have fizzled out after a decade of professional dance. Which begs this question: is it better to have had a professional ballet company and lose it than to never have had one at all?

10.01.2009: Buzz's Building

CCDC Post-Secondary Professional Program Student Ekaterina W00tang advised me to take a look on YouTube for trailers and previews of the upcoming film Mao's Last Dancer. I'd read hints about the film on the blogosphere, but, I'm glad Katya reminded me about it. And, you'll be glad I posted this for you:

...and a plethora of other items available on the web as well, including short interviews with co-star Amanda Schull (Center Stage) (of Honolulu and SFB) here, lead Chi Cao here, excerpts of him meeting his future wife, during a budding relationship during pas de deux class, his unique "audition" process, a performance clip and the response to his defection.

09.30.2009: Apparent Dance Dictionary

Seen something on the web you think might interest our tenz of readers? Don't keep it a secret! Send it in! Like this contribution from a CCDC parent:
"...Thought these were funny! Hope you are all having a great year :)..."
...She's right! They're hilarious...and, so sad, but true!o) Which one are you? Or applies to you? Hmm...?

09.29.2009: Dancing With The First Impressions!

Watching five hours or so of recorded DWT*** this weekend actually left me wanting more. Or, more precisely, more of the good dancing...and less of the not-so-good dancing! Well, first impressions count for something and it seems to this old danseur that the field has seperated itself into "the anointed" and the "soon-to-be-disappointed" with a few in the middle. On the testosterone side, martial artist and Iron Chef Mark Dacascos has all the tools and the musicality to stake an immediate claim to contender status. Former teen heart throb Donnie Osmond has decades of performing experience to also challenge the chef for the crown. Add another former teen-bopper star Aaron Carter---if he develops a sense of line and strengthens his center---and, maybe, snowboarder Louie Vito offer some possibilities. Michael Irvin will probably fall short of his "hail Mary" attempt to finish higher than his arch-rival Jerry Rice, but, he does have killer charisma and an engaging smile. But, a STRONG field of women look like they're going to keep their painted fingernails on the top trophy: Mya, Natalie Coughlin, Joanna Krupa, Kelly Osborne, all making impressive first impressions. I take back (almost) every snarky remark I ever made about models after watching Joanna sizzle in her salsa with the "ruff, tuff" Derek Hough! And, watching the bat-biter and his bride beam with pride at the rebirth of their prodigal Osborne daughter was heart-warming and snuffle-inducing all at the same time! Who's going to go in tonight's results show? Hard to say sight unseen, but, ultimate fighter Chuck Liddel or politician Tom Delay should be shipped soon for the guise and Kathy Ireland on the distaff half.

09.28.2009: Dishing Deliciously WICKED?

Don't buy into all the WICKED hype. Like a famous 20th century philosopher once sang: "It's not easy being green". But, Marcie Dodd as Elphaba in WICKED made "being green" the "new blonde" this weekend. (L.) Frank-(Baum)-ly, my dear, her voice alone was worth the price of admission. But, despite all the smoke and smart lights and elaborate steam-punk costuming and intricate moving sets and talented supporting cast that poses and preens with abandon, the show suffered from poor diction in group songs and over-driven amplification in solos. I had to figure out from context that Elphie sang "Blonde!" when describing her new roommate. And, the show especially suffered when Helene Yorke as Galinda started off with two cracks in the opening number. Now, to her credit, she managed to come back and play a whip-smart Galinda as Elle Woods type witch-in-training. Sour notes happen and the sign of a true professional is a smooth recovery. But, a professional also needs to deliver in front of a paying packed house on a Saturday night at the capital city's Civic Center. And, Tom McGowan as the Wizard wasn't quite as "wonderful" as one would've expected. His solo number was pedestrian at best and it seemed like he was "marking" instead of singing full out. The best part of the show (besides the occasionally WICKED dialogue!o) was when the musical apparently intersected with the movie: when Glinda waves to Dorothy apparently just off stage and calls out "Just follow that yellow brick road!" Then, turns to the audience and off-handedly remarks "I hope they don't get lost. I'm terrible at giving directions!" When Elphaba lifts up a trap door and demands the silver shoes from "the little girl and her dog" implicitly imprisoned underneath. There seems to be some holes in that interweaving plot-line however. I seem to recall from my reading of the Oz books that the Tin Man was a woodsman who kept chopping off parts of his body from an enchanted axe. Not a spell-bound or cursed Boq, the Munchkin. (He didn't die because the residents of Oz are immortal. And, that's because of a spell from a passing band of Fairies who were enchanted with the land.) The Cowardly Lion and Scarecrow also seem to have different backstories in the Baum books, but, that could all be blamed on "revisionist history". Elphaba, after all, gets Glinda to swear not to reveal her story before she elopes with Colin Donnell as Fiyero. (One imagines they move to the land of another Frank and another Oz and his Muppets and she gives birth to Kermie...but, that's another musical!o) I also like the fact the show provides work for 9-local musicians for a month at (presumably) union rates. (But, how about hiring some local dancers like Chorus Line used to do on tour?) So, a few irritating flaws, but, still a standing ovation from the forgiving local audience. (Including at least four members costumed as witches. Fortunately, they doffed their pointed hats before the dragon's eyes glowed red, his nostrils blew smoke and the flying monkeys tugged open the map-curtain.)

09.24.2009: A-Meja-zing Re-deux!

Complaints, complaints! We try! We try...,but, it never EVER seems to end!o) Just got this in the emailbag:
"...loved the youtube links to a-meja-ing dance, but the floor barre one didn't work and i am soooo dying to see it....can you fix it??..."
...Hmm. The mystery deepenz! I went back and tried that link and also searched on YouTube for the original vid. But, I think the owner must have pulled it since I first put it up. Or, the copyright owner might've discovered it was up without permission. Regardless, if you didn't have a chance to view the vid, just ask CCDC Student Rocky Jungerpatty, who's been doing the exercise several times a day since he watched it. (Almost hit a double grand pirouette the other day as well!o) And, let me know if any links here ever don't work.

09.22.2009: Sore "Core" de Ballet!o)

Last Saturday, I was pleased as punch2pique in the early Pilates class and see wall2wall CCDC students up early to cross-train in that core-strengthening discipline. As I tweeted at the time: "Strong core=Strong corps". Now, here's an idea if you're having a hard-time getting a ride in at that early hour. Why don't you invite your Mom or Dad to "be your friend"? Specifically for Bring A Friend2Dance@CCDC Month! Tell your parental unit this would be an excellent time for some family bonding...and excellent for their long-standing intention to start working out more. Kill2birdz with 1stone whilst building "killer abz" for next beech season! CCDC Instructor Alyssa "Hamer Hitz Homerz" is passing on her advanced training in Stott Pilates in intelligently-crafted and challenging classes on Saturday. Plus, if you're already on the "unlimited" class plan, there's no additional charge! And, if you manage to convince or "drag" your Ma or Pa or Aunt or Uncle or BFF or "Frenemy" along, there's no additional charge to try the class for them this month! The added benefit is: it'll help you in your ballet and other dance classes. Like a wise dance instructor always says "Week core means weak dancer. Strong core means strong dancer!" Let's pack that Saturday morning Pilates class! Let's get so many students in there we're forced to move it to a bigger studio! So many we have to add Pilates classes during the rest of the week! (AND, 4the weak!o) But, be prepared 4 a real work-out! One CCDC student told me her friend came and took the class...and, all her tweets the rest of the day were about how "sore" she was! Just remember: sore now. Soar later!o)

09.21.2009: More Me in Media

Tonight's the start of the three night premiere of the new season of DWT***. Blogosphere hints of a tribute to Patrick Swayze during the three night extravaganza. (Just got a tweet from last season's winner talking about how time has flown and how she wished she was going to be there tonight! But, never fear, I'm sure we'll see @ShawneyJ at some pointe!o) And, as I was surfing through the satellite channels during the football game last night, came across Dirty Dancing on ABC Family Channel. (Looks great in HD BTW! Tasteful+classy condolences to the family during the rejoin.) Tried to see if it was a double or triple tour en l'air Swayze does in the big final dance scene. But, it was still too fast to count. I thought it was a double, but, a friend insists it's a triple. I'll have to dig out the DVD and slow it down to double-check. But, as I was watching Swayze dance with Baby/Frances, I was reminded once again that there are a precious few leading men who could've carried off those dance sequences without a dance double doing the "dirty" work. (There was a big controversy at the time when Jennifer Beals' dance double went uncredited in Flashdance. I think her name was Marine Jahan.) Precious few leading men...and, now, there's one fewer. In fact, no one else jete's to mind. Okay, maybe Mischa...Also, a comment on the audition sequences being shown on SYTYCD first few episodes. Only two things memorable about last week's episode: The first was the deaf girl dancing. (Allison Becker) Good for her! It brought judge Mary Murphy to tears as she shared her story of a cousin who gave up her struggle with a similar affliction. The other memorable moment was Judge @DizzyFeet who thanked one auditioner for showing both "performance and technique". No, THANK YOU, Nigel Lythgoe,for making my pointe: You have to have both to be a competent dancer. It's not all one or the other. So, make sure you work on both to become a well-rounded dancer...and, I'm still shaking my head over last night's ABDC. My pick2win, Massive Monkeez got handed their walking papers and their flag has fallen. Instead, Afroborike and We R Sheroes will face-off in the show-down. (Actually, the outcome's already been decided. It'll be announced in the season finale'.) Look, it comes down to performance and technique in this competition for me as well. The two finalists are entertaining, creative and innovative. But, I think they'd both be eaten alive in real street battles. Maybe I'm prejudiced in favor of athletic, authentic b-boy technique, (a little bit of tutting goes a long, long way for me) but, this season has been a big disappointment to me. Makes me nostalgic for past winnerz: Supah Krew, Jabba Wokeez and Quest Krew. I think there are a number of cruise eliminated from earlier seasons that could've easily won this round: including the roller skating dudez and the step krew. Am I wrong? Email me what you think. And, the remake of Fame premieres at a theater near you this weekend...same weakend we have tix to Wicked!o)

09.18.2009: Putting The 'Me' Back In Media!

So, I start off with this disclaimer: most of these DanceTV reviews and reactions will be as much as a weak late. That's because we time-shift a lot of these shows because we're usually teaching when they first air. And, there are a lot of dance shows coming and going these daze! Even as ABDC starts wrapping up its season, SYTYCD is starting its first fall season...and DWT*** kicks off next weak with a tribute to the Dirty Dancer after a lot of speculation and pre-examination on the blogosphere. (Singer/dancer Mya already anointed by tweet as the 12beat!) So, here goes! How about that tap "trade-off" between Ryan and Bianca on the premiere SYTYCD? (NOT "a tap battle" to real hooferz! Who knew?) One judge calling this the "year of the tapper". (As a life-long, off-and-on beginning/intermediate tap student that's something I can "shuffle off 2 Buffalo" with!o) Still a lot of the usual bad dancing by the clue-less on the early episodez. I guess that's the formula to hook the non-dancing audience to invest some interest in the show. Makes a lot of people say "Heck! I'm better than that guy! Let's keep watchin'..." It also makes the good dancing look that much better! ...Big shockers on the last ABDC: After the big opening tribute to MJ's Smooth Criminal, (Xcellent btw! Gr8 2c everyone dancing together! The strong get stronger in that kind of collaboration. Choreographed by SYTYCD's Napitha and Sky Hoffman. Good work!o) The first shocker2me wuz We R Heroez sending Rhythm City to the elimination round. The second shocker was Afroborike knocking off Massive Monkeez from the ranks of the never-been-to-the-bottom cruise. Herez the l8st cranky old dancerz rankings:
  1. Massive Monkeez: These guise re-imagining of the boy-band (JC CHasez') Tearin' Up My Heart was epic! Sly, sardonic and hilarious and still respectful! I think last weak's scare will galvanize this krew to the title!
  2. Afroborike: This krew out-Spearzd Britney in their upgrade to Slave 4 U. That live snake had all kindz of not-so-subtle freudian implications!
  3. We R Sheroez: These girlz stepped up 2 represent the all-distaff-dancerz. They Vogued to Madonna, leaving us to wonder what VEvolution would've done with that task. The girlz showed they could keep up the boyz athleticism too, with back hand-springs to back tuckz! Very kreative, very kleen! Just need to amp up the power and attack to keep battling with the boyz!

...And, my new favorites, Rhythm City, are on the plane back2Brooklyn:o( What a class act! Like I said, sneaky good, sneaky strong, not a weak member on that krew! Hope 2 see this krew go on to the success and riches they richly deserve! (Gonna miss Ashley's radiant spirit, all2thewall dancin' and KILLER smile!o)

09.17.2009: A-Meja-Zing!

The name of Daniel Meja came up during class the other day as I was reminiscing about taking company class with the San Francisco Ballet, my favorite ballet company in my favorite city. I stood right behind Meja at the barre during their annual tour through my hometown. He did almost all the combinations on demipointe. Which is why I made the CCDC advanced ballet class last night do almost all their combinations on demipointe. I also suggested the students YouTube Daniel Meja's name. But, I realize now that it would be hard to spell correctly because it's pronounced the French way: "Donyelle Mezha". So, I did the work and hyper-linked some vids here, here or here. And, in that search, I found a bonus! Love YouTube! Click here for a vid of Meja demonstrating a floor barre exercise he recommends for strengthening your pirouettes and grand pirouettes. I'm going to be trying it, how about you?

09.15.2009: Dirty Dancer Exits

Patrick Swayze is a Ghost...again. The actor was a real dancer with Joffrey or Joffrey II before he struck it big on the silver screen and ended up an icon. That was a real double or triple tour en l'air he did near the end of Dirty Dancing. Swayze continued a tradition of masculine all-american men who danced and danced well on the big screen. Here are a few links to retrospectives from:

09.14.2009: The Professionals

The last thing that Ashley Wheater asked me after I interviewed him last week was whether I was going to attend last Friday's benefit performance of his Joffrey Ballet. (I'll transcribe and post portions of that interview as time permits.) I told him I had to teach so wouldn't be able to make it. (Those price$, too! Even with the dancer discount!) Apparently, it was my loss. I spoke with several CCDC dancers afterwards who made it to the show. One girl said it lasted about three hours, but, that the time "flew by" and she wished it could've "lasted forever". She said the dancers were "fierce". I asked everyone who went if they were inspired to train harder and they all said they were. And, that's one of the differences between the local dancers of this generation versus the students that were here when I first arrived in the Capital City. I remember my jaw dropping at the talent and training of the Junior Company here. But, they got to see a professional company at work nearly *every day*! We weren't the Joffrey, but, the kids would trickle in later in our day and sit outside the studios and watch our rehearsals while they warmed up for class. They picked up professional traits just by "osmosis". And, they had many opportunities to dance along-side us. The older dancers supplemented our Nutcracker corps. A few were chosen to perform The Daughter in Kennet Oberly's heart-breaking Swallows Return In Spring and other pieces. Students got to see us as humans and not just as professional performers framed by prosceniums. Most of us weren't special or different from them, just older. And, sometimes, not that much older. We just out-worked our competition. Maximized our talent. Wouldn't take 'no' as our final answer. And, that's one trait we're trying to pass on to our current CCDC students. We hold the pre-professional program to professional standards. The older dancers mentor the younger students and act as role models of professional decorum, dedication and discipline. But, you should see as many live ballet performances as you can. DVDs or YouTube are a poor substitute. When you visit another city, consider taking ballet classes wherever you go. When you have a chance to interact with professional dancers, be respectful of their privacy, but, ask as many questions as you can. Is there a trick to do doing this move? What brand, make or custom-order of pointe shoe do they use? How do you prepare for a role? ...While the local dancers of a previous generation had the luxury of a resident professional ballet company in town, it shouldn't keep this generation of CCDC students from achieving any of their dance dreams!o)

09.11.2009: Merde2Joffrey

Managed to get an impromptu interview with Joffrey Ballet Artistic Director Ashley Wheater today. One of the questions I asked was what he looks for when auditioning dancers. Watch for a transcript or summary of the interview soon. But, meanwhile, here's a link to one of the stories I did on tonight's performance.

09.11.2009: Weak End MustC(Dance)TV!

Chance to comment on ABDC again! Tribute to the VMA-zing performances this Sunday on MTV. These are my latest rankings (Agree? Disagree?):

  1. Massive Monkeez: Athletic, dynamic...the only challenge for these guise is living up to expectations!
  2. Rhythm City: Sneaky good! Sneaky Athletic...The guise do more tricks than you expect. The grrlz are hot and don't bring the dancing down! Love Ashley's smile!
  3. Afroborike: These dancers don't mind looking good and dancing hard! Their sexy, naughty partnering is strong and always challenging and inventive! Trampoline task worked to their advantage to make mounts easier in lifts.
  4. We R Heroez: Very creative, but, can they match the sheer power and athleticism that the boyz r bringing?
...and a wave of the limp wrist to the grrlz in Vogue Evolution! I thought the LGBT vote would've kept this krew on longer. VE alwayz showed attitude, but, not alwayz kleen 'nuff dancin'! They were always entertaining, but, voterz apparently tired of all the drama. This krew was challenged to step out of their comfort zonez. Sometimez successful, sometimez knot...Is it just me? Or, is this field the weakest of all the seasons of ABDC? Well, we have alternatives lining up in the DVR as we type. This past weak also featured the premiere of the best IMNSHO dance show on TV: SYTYCD! The premiere of the new season of a close runner-up DWT*** is also coming up soon! (And, 'da Bears take on 'da Pack Sunday nite! Can Cutler live up to the hype! ...Hey! I know this is a ballet blog, but, remember, these guise in the NFL are athletes, too! Just think of it as full-contact dance!o)

09.10.2009: Message In eBottle

Capital City Dance Center's newest professional dancer sends this update:
"...Hey! I found out the dates of our fall show!

  • Friday, November 6th, 7:30 PM
  • Saturday, November 7th 2:00 PM
  • Saturday, November 7th, 7:30 PM

Check here for details..."
...Hmmm. Discussions on possible mass CCDC migration to twin cities to watch Sean's professional debut may now begin!o) (What I wanna know is when he's going to be put on their website? Hey, Webmaster! Hyper-link pending!)

09.09.2009: Pointe of Interest

If this ballet blog only whets your appetite for more on dance, here's a pageful of dance blog links from Pointe Magazine. And, on the website's home page, you can watch or enter a library of dance videos!

09.09.2009: TV Tidbit

Taking the "you" out of "Youth Obesity Epidemic"...eNote from Men's Health Magazine:
"...Still not convinced to drop the remote during a meal? Here's more incentive: Watching TV while you eat may cause you to consume more food later in the day. U.K. scientists found that people who watched a video during lunch ate more at a mid-afternoon snack than those who dined away from the tube. "Watching TV during a meal can cause people to remember less about what they ate, so they subconsciously consume more later on." says study author Suzanne Higgs, Ph.D...."

09.08.2009: eFeedback

Unsolicited mom-stemonial:
"...Thanks for a great start to the year! (My dancer) is loving tap, jazz, and modern..."

09.04.2009: Heading2That Big Ballet Studio In The Sky

RIP to one of my teachers when I was training in the Windy City:
"...A note from Bodarc Productions,

The legendary teacher, Larry Long, passed
away on August 22, 1009. It was a wonderful
experience to work with him on the video
and CD we made together. He was truly a
Master Teacher in the dance world and will
be greatly missed.

Read Larry Long's Obituary.

See a preview of his DVD (2060D) here.

A special commemorative CD and DVD can be purchased here.
Jay Distributors
P.O. Box 293924
Lewisville, TX 75029

...I always enjoyed class with Mr. Long. He could be caustic and critical. He was a ballet master from the oldest of old schools. He spoke loudly and often carried a big stick. He'd pound out the beat on the floor with that stick to get us to work on musicality and accenting our movements. I remember working with one other noted teacher in Chicago at the time and she had to keep referring back to a videotape of a performance. When I watched Mr. Long work rehearsing the same piece at Ruth Page's, he would set it from memory. No smoke. No mirrors. Of course, I knew of him before I met him from his performance in the PBS production of The Merry Widow. I didn't get to work with him long enough, I resumed my professional career soon after moving to the Windy City. But, it was always a pleasure to work with him. Larry Long will always belong in my mind in that pantheon of Master Teachers that I've had the pleasure of taking class from. Our condolences to his family. I hope they take some comfort in the knowledge that Larry Long will always live on in the memories of the thousands of dancers he affected directly.

09.03.2009: B Better@ Auditions!

Went over some of my notes and thoughts I jotted down during this weekend's auditions. Some are about specific dancers, but, names and numbers have been left out to protect the bashful. As you read the corrections, think, "Hmmm, is he talking about me?:
"Battement Ronde'? Oh, the Russian Rond De Jambe Jete'..."
"Good extensions, legs and feet."
"Nice smile. Good hops".
"Hyper-extended legs. Turns out well".
"Temps lie'? Oh, chasse'...".
"Not bad for a boy."
"TURN-OUT in echappe's!"
"Nice feeling, but, lacks turn-out and jumps."
"Big ballon!"
"Looks smart."
"Again, TURN-OUT in echappe's!"
"Don't fall out of turns! Lift to finish under control!"
"Don't drop your arms during turns. Take them around you!"
"Use arms to turn!"
"More attack on jumps. You're 1/4 count behind the music!"
"Get ON the music!"
"??? ...This is great music to build the pyramids to!"
"Great smile. No turnout."
"Get the combination! Do the combination as given!"
"Work extension in seconde!"
"Pulled up. Nice feeling."
"Don't get nervous! Enjoy the experience! Always something to learn from every teacher!"
"Nice line! Nice feeling."
"Don't look down!"
"Don't roll up tights at an audition. And, DON'T chew gum!"
"Look the part to get the part! Hair in a bun! No leopard-print pink bootie shorts!"
"Be on the music! Learn the combination."
"Good tight fifths! If you have to...Fake it 'til ya make it!"
"Perfect turnout!"
"Your muscles don't lie! If you don't have a cut in your calves, you don't work enough on releve's and pointe work!"
"Contain your ego! Don't show off! Don't stare at yourself in the mirror!"
"Show your extensions, stretch and turn-out!"
"When you get a personal correction you better do it through the rest of the audition!"
"Nice across the floor. Nice multiple turns."
"Finish your pirouettes! FINISH YOUR PIROUETTES!"

09.02.2009: Dance, Dance Evolution

Taking the "you" out of "youth obesity epidemic"?
"...AMES, Iowa -- A recent study reported that adult video gamers suffer higher levels of depression and weigh more than non-gamers. In the study of 562 adults (ages 19 to 90) from the Seattle-Tacoma, Wash. area, researchers also found "measurable correlations between video game playing and health risks."

But those results reflect subjects playing traditional, sedentary video games. Today's activity-promoting video games -- such as Wii Fit™, EA SPORTS Active™ and Dance Dance Revolution™ -- may be changing all that. So says Lorraine Lanningham-Foster, an Iowa State University assistant professor of food science and human nutrition, who is conducting research on the measurable health benefits of the more active games.

Lanningham-Foster was lead author of a study titled Activity-Promoting Video Games and Increased Energy Expenditure. The research on 22 children, ages 10 to 14, found that a child who plays eight hours of video games a week will burn 1,990 calories (an average of 284 per day) through Nintendo Wii Boxing -- or three times as many as the 652 calories they'd burn playing a traditional sedentary video game.

"What I wanted to demonstrate was how many more calories your body can burn by playing Wii as opposed to playing a traditional video game -- and it's quite a lot," said Lanningham-Foster.

"Even with the Wii boxing game in the training mode, we can get people to basically triple -- and sometimes more -- the number of calories they burn, relative to if they were playing a more traditional video game," she said.

Because Wii games allow for multiple players, Lanningham-Foster is now studying the health benefits for families who play the games together at home. She began screening potential subjects this month for the study.

While the results aren’t yet in, Lanningham-Foster already sees the games providing families some low-cost home fitness options. Her primary research is also focused on prevention and intervention of pediatric obesity and she says the new video games are a fun way for kids to become more active.

"Kids don't think like adults do – that they need to go to the gym and work out and be healthier," she said. "I don't think those concepts really come into play. If they're having fun and they're moving [by playing activity-promoting video games], that's the most that they want to do."..."

...Why not just take more dance classes at CCDC? Remember: consistent classes=consistent dancer. Taking your dance classes solves a lot of problems before they begin! And, try2remember: September is Bring A Friend2Dance Class Month@Capital City Dance Center!

09.01.2009: "Mischa, Mischa...Where R U?"

Early in my career while I was still training, I went to watch a recital of a fellow student who also still taught at her old studio. In the middle of the over-produced, under-danced recital and in the middle of her piece, she had her kids chanting twice, "Mischa, Mischa! Where R U!?" I thot about that after I stumbled over this article. So, catsup with the greatest dancer of the last century:
"...At 61, he defies age as he once defied gravity. He may be a grandfather and graying, but the fabled Russian dancer has the stride and carriage of a young man. He is small for a dancer, just 5-foot-7, but muscular and fit in his T-shirt and slacks. As he chats in a small conference room, his familiar face is expressive, his smile easy, and his conversation alternately lively and intense..."
...Reed the wrest from the Los Angeles Times. And, someday, if there's enuff interest, I'll recount my own close encounters with Mischa.

09.01.2009: Ah, 2Zzz-leap, Perchance2Dream...Part de Deux

More info in the emailbox recently:
"...The journal Science published new research recently detailing the discovery of a mutant gene that allows two women—a mom in her 70s and her 44-year-old daughter—to live healthy, normal lives on 6 hours of sleep a night. Researchers then genetically engineered mice to have the mutant gene, and found that the rodents, too, slept less with no negative health effects.

If this news has you ready to cut into your sleep time, hold on to your pillow. The study authors estimate only 3 percent of the population carry this gene. Try to live on 6 hours of sleep and you'll end up sleep deprived—and at risk of high blood pressure, obesity, and an early death.

How do you know if you're getting enough sleep? It's simple, say sleep experts: If you're drowsy at any time during the day, you need more Z's..."

...Now, THAT would be useful genetic engineering!

08.31.2009: Weak End Feed Back

Here's an e-comment from a grateful CCDC parent:
"...I only watched a small bit of the Nut auditions this week-end, but it really made me appreciate that my dancer is at CCDC. Thanks to you and all the instructors for all that you give to your students..."
...and kudoz to you and all the CCDC families who get it, and entrust the present of the future of their dancers to us. We NEVER take that responsibility lightly!

08.31.2009: Mixed Nutweetz!

Constantly braking new ground in the blogosphere! Your fearless ballet blog correspondent live tweetz from weekend auditions! These are some of what subscribers got live Saturday. Read these from the bottom up to get proper chronological order (In case you're not signed up for no extra charge tweets, it's @SirDanGuy!o):
  • TGI6HoAaO! Means "Thank Goodness 6 Hours of Auditions r over!" Someone does it again 2moro! But, I'm gonna b teachin!o) 9:14 PM Aug 29th from txt
  • "Don't disappear during an audition! Don't be in my face, but, do show me your best sparkling personality!" 8:10 PM Aug 29th from txt
  • Oookay! Now, we have music to build the pyramids to! Am I punchy? Or is this amusing? Or both! 8:05 PM Aug 29th from txt
  • "Never forget the basics: you better pointe those feet, stretch those knees and turn-out those legs!" 7:13 PM Aug 29th from txt
  • "Some of the pointe work is scary! And, don't wear garbage! Remember the words of famous Russian teacher, Ivan Aldi Krapov! Name is vain!" 7:04 PM Aug 29th from txt
  • "This is what I wait for when I audition dancers: Someone who POPS on stage. Someone I can't take my eyes off...for whatever reason!" 5:58 PM Aug 29th from txt
  • Unexpectedly ended up teaching a VERY mixed ages+level boyz audition class. Three good guyz with potential. Ah, community ballet theatre... 5:37 PM Aug 29th from txt
  • "Never underestimate the power of a SMILE during an audition! Indicates performance potential!":o) 4:37 PM Aug 29th from txt
  • Tweeting from Nuttie auditions. Always instructive2c our dancers in audition mode. Taking notes to improve perf more than stand out by comp! 4:23 PM Aug 29th from txt

08.31.2009: Check It Out!

Here's a couple tweetz or linkz of interest:

Tweet from the SwanLakeSambaGirl that proves "The Hustle" is not dead:

"@TonyaPlank: Pasha Kovalev on TV this weekend and teaching at Hustle Congress next: Click here"
...And, here's a primer on mime from the Ballet Bag Blog.

08.28.2009: MustCABDConMTV!

Something about being in the bottom seems to bring the best out of the cruise fighting for their lives on ABDC on MTV. I have to agree with the judges that the best was saved for last last weekend. The battle between Rhythm City and Southern Movement was "in tents"!o) So, what's the outlook for this weak end? Here are the cranky old dancer's latest rankings:
  1. Massive Monkeez: Their task was "extreme martial arts" and this was an obvious good fit. They were acrobatic and aggressive, but, I'm puzzled why the 540 wuz so hard for them. That moves been adopted by b-boyz and breakerz the world over. It shouldn't have been such a struggle. They need to work to get out of their comfort zone while still playing up their obvious strengths.
  2. Rhythm City: Their task was Muay Thai and that used to be known as Thai Kickboxing back when I was training in martial arts. This krew was muy strong and energetic. And, the two girlz in the krew are just as feminine and sexy as the more in-ur-face posturing of Afroborike.
  3. Vogue Evolution: Brazen and brash. These "Preen Kweenz" struggled a bit with retaining their feminity with the masculine demandz of Tiger Style Kung Fu. (There are feminine forms of Chinese Martial Arts, but, styles like Wing Cheun aren't very showy! Read that as TV-friendly!o) But, their Tiger Style degenerated into more cat fighting, a deliberate, hilarious choice! These girlz are benefiting from the LGBT vote, so expect them to "bare their claws" and hang around for a while!
  4. We R Heroez: Karate, the Japanese art of the "empty hand", wuz their task. Should've been "a natural" for the Nihonjin national in the group. But, their fan kicks were laffable and punches lacked power and were awful girlie. The choreography, however, was thoughtful and creative as usual.
  5. Afroborike: Capoeira, the latin-american dance-martial arts form, also seemed tailor-made for this group. Loved the Salsa touches, the martial-arts, not so much. Still appreciate the traditional, old-school Latin gender roles the group always celebrates! Read that to mean these r some kewtie girlie-girlz!
  6. Beat Ya Feat Kingz: The Korean martial art of Tae Kwon Do was this group's mission. And, their lower body movements were strong and powerful, but, their upper bodies suffered by comparison.
...And, Southern Movement was sent on the long lonely walk to pick-up their fallen flag this past weak. But, they were able to hold their heads up as they headed back to the Krew Garage. Their last performance was their best. They had their game faces on and made it hard on the judges to let them go. ...And, am so looking forward to this weekend's "Salute to Bollywood" task!o) Sundays on MTV.

08.27.2009: "2Zzzleep, Perchance2Dream..."

Singing the praises of a good knight sawing logz:

"...School supplies. New clothes. Maybe a new computer, too. Parents go to great lengths to ensure their kids are ready for whatever the new school year brings. However, parents often forget that getting a good night’s sleep is one of the most important factors to achieving success in school. Kids who are sleep deprived perform poorly in class. According to the National Sleep Foundation, more than 25% of students fall asleep in class, 22% fall asleep doing homework and an alarming 50% have driven while drowsy.

And big kids are impacted in much the same way. Want to get straight A’s at work? Focus on getting a good night’s sleep. Employees who are sleep deprived report daytime drowsiness, which can lead to poor concentration, absenteeism, accidents, errors, injuries, and fatalities, so it’s important for parents to pay attention to their own sleep habits too.

What can parents do?

Ready to break bad summer-time sleep habits? Parents should set a good example and enforce a consistent bedtime routine. Below are a few A+ recommendations:

  • No gadgets: Minimize media-related activities like texting or games one hour prior to bedtime

  • Minimize light: Reduce the amount of light your family is exposed to the hour prior to bedtime. Also minimize light in the bedroom while family members fall asleep, If you must use a nightlight, put it near the floor

  • Consistency is key: Maintain a consistent bedtime routine and sleep schedule on the weekends as altering sleep schedules creates jet-lag-like symptoms. Remember that sleep is not negotiable

  • Quality bedding: Invest in a quality mattress and accessories..."

08.26.2009: Answerz From Dancerz!Part 1

CCDC Alum Sean Laughead is beginning his professional dance career this month at Ballet Minnesota. He took a break from his hectic schedule and kindly consented to answering a dozen questions we sent to him:
  1. What's your dance and rehearsal schedule like? How big are the studios?

    "Right now, we start class at 9:30 AM and it lasts about an hour, with barre and centre pretty much even time-wise. We get a ten-to-fifteen minute break and start working on one of our pieces. So far we only rehearse three days a week, but in September we'll start dancing something closer to six days a week, especially once Nutcracker kicks in.

    I've only danced in one studio so far (I've seen one other, but I think there may be three?) and it's okay in size. Probably a panel's width wider and a panel or two shallower than the big studio at home.

    Currently we're working on a piece with music composed by Mozart and another with music composed by Gershwin for our fall show."

  2. How many other dancers in your company? How many men? Women? What are the other dancers like?

    "It's a super-duper small company, so I think we have six-ish dancers. Earlier there were three guys, but now that one's quit, it's just my roommate and me. I think they're trying to find one more guy now. In September, our fourth girl will be back in town for rehearsals. Also, students in the upper-level of the school are used a little bit. Everyone seems pretty nice and laid-back. I'm the youngest here and so far all of the dancers have helped me out with how the scheduling and the dancing works up here."

  3. What are the company classes like? How are the rehearsals run? Do you have a pianist? Live music?

    "Company class is really relaxed. There isn't any sort of stress and it's definitely just a warm-up as opposed to a class where you really focus on a certain element. Rehearsals so far are lumped together and random, just depending on which section of which piece is being worked on. And we just have a CD player for music. But there is a piano in the room..."

  4. What's your performance schedule like this year? Any touring?

    "I have no clue. But I don't think we tour. I do know that we have a fall show, Nutcracker (which I know ends on like the twentieth of December), and The Sleeping Beauty in the spring."

  5. What's the hardest or biggest adjustment so far from student to professional? What's been easier than you thought it might've been?

    "Company class. It's much more introverted and less combination-focused. There are less corrections, but there are still some personal ones. I think that since I'm with a small company, it helps. And now I can wear colors. I have two custom Yumiko biketards in the process of being made at this very moment."

  6. How well prepared do you feel as you begin your professional career? What do you wish you had worked harder on when you were a student? What are you doing to keep improving yourself?

    "I think I was really well prepared technically for my position, but I think I needed to work more on contemporary choreography, as I know all of our smaller shows here feature a great deal of it. I think that once I get a handle on the movement quality, it'll all go a bit smoother. I think that as a student, I could have watched more dance performances and videos to be more aquainted by the talent (or lack thereof) out there and see other styles of movement that I'd like to try."

  7. What's it like living away from home? Any disasters or near-disasters so far?

    "So far it's gone well. My roommate is the other guy in my company, and we live in a half-way re-modeled Victorian era duplex. Outside it's super-duper ghetto, but inside it looks really nice. Sure, I'm afraid to use the closet since it reminds me of any of the scary movies which feature an old house and a possibly demented child, but on the whole I really like my living arrangement. We're currently pet-sitting the aforementioned company's fourth girl's dog and cat (and car), which is certainly not helping my allergies, but otherwise it's nice and quiet. My current obsessions include instant ramen and Kool-Aid.

    If anyone knows any dry cleaners, bookstores, or quiet retail shops with extremely flexible hours (and preferably ones where the employees can sit down occasionally), please contact me. I need money."

  8. What's the city like? Your apartment? Do you have a car, car-pool or use public transportation?

    "The city is nice and well-kept, and its proximity to Minneapolis should prove helpful. So far I'm planning on walking everywhere (the studio is less than twenty minutes away and my new favorite wireless internet connection is half that), but if worse comes to worse, their bus system is fairly easy to use and sort of cost-efficient."

  9. What do you miss the most as you begin your professional career? What do you miss the least?

    "Corrections! Because I really depend on those. Here I get them, but their more physical rather than verbal, which sometimes confuses me. Oh, and I miss the people and training back home. And the barres. I don't know what I miss the least... the little studio's fans?"

  10. What's the oddest thing that's happened so far? The funniest?

    "I don't know if it's odd, but the combination of my super-slick new brand of ballet shoes combined with the super-sticky floors here (and, you know, my placement), does wonders for my turns. And for funniest, I'd vote for my laundry excursion the other night. I went downstairs in my apartment to do laundry, but there were a couple small spiders in/near the washer and one hanging above it, so I decided to wait till later. The next morning I was mentally prepared and slowly creeped into the laundry room with a spider-killing spatula at the ready. Imagine my freak-out when the dog sneaked up from behind me."

  11. What advice do you have for any CCDC student hoping to follow in your footsteps to becoming a professional dancer? What do you know now that you wished you had known when you were a student?

    "I'd recommend going to any/all summer programs you can, because as great as our studio is, at some point you have to take a few classes from a different teacher or learn a piece from another choreographer, as everyone is just a bit different, and it's good to at least have a practical understanding of that."


  12. Bonus question: Do you think Brett Favre will take the Vikings to the Super Bowl? Is that a big topic of conversation on the streets of the twin cities?

    "I've heard rumor that something football/basketball/baseball/ping pong-related had happened recently. I've learned to steer away from those conversations and yell 'Stranger Danger!' whilst running away."

08.24.2009: Putting 'The Star' In2 'The Start'

CCDC Alum Sean Laughead is beginning his professional dance career this month at Ballet Minnesota. We'll try to keep you updated on his progress as the season goes along. Here are a dozen questions we're sending to him now...and probably at the end of his season. Follow along and keep score at home:
  1. What's your dance and rehearsal schedule like? How big are the studios?

  2. How many other dancers in your company? How many men? Women? What are the other dancers like?

  3. What are the company classes like? How are the rehearsals run? Do you have a pianist? Live music?

  4. What's your performance schedule like this year? Any touring?

  5. What's the hardest or biggest adjustment so far from student to professional? What's been easier than you thought it might've been?

  6. How well prepared do you feel as you begin your professional career? What do you wish you had worked harder on when you were a student? What are you doing to keep improving yourself?

  7. What's it like living away from home? Any disasters or near-disasters so far?

  8. What's the city like? Your apartment? Do you have a car, car-pool or use public transportation?

  9. What do you miss the most as you begin your professional career? What do you miss the least?

  10. What's the oddest thing that's happened so far? The funniest?

  11. What advice do you have for any CCDC student hoping to follow in your footsteps to becoming a professional dancer? What do you know now that you wished you had known when you were a student?


  12. Bonus question: Do you think Brett Favre will take the Vikings to the Super Bowl? Is that a big topic of conversation on the streets of the twin cities?

08.21.2009: Competitive Co$t$

So, the two co-workers at my day job were back complaining outside my cubicle again. This time one was saying she had to come up with $2000.00 cash (CASH!) by October to pay for the choreography and coaching for her daughter to compete at another dance studio this year. I'm assuming this didn't include tuition, costumes or recital fees...just the cost of the choreography and coaching. The other parent commiserated by saying he was facing the same problem. This was the guy I've told you about who complained about paying for the "equivalant of a new small car" every year for his daughter. And, just what will they have to show for it when their girls graduate? An attic-full of sparkly little costumes and a few tarnished medals and trophies (if they're lucky!). This would be a good time to mention all the faculty at CCDC are dedicated to holding down costs to provide affordable QUALITY dance education to the Capital City area. This would also be a good time to post this unsolicited comment from two parents who recently switched their kids to CCDC:
"...(Another Mom) and I were discussing the cost of tuition (being so affordable) and the unparalleled technique that our children can get at CCDC and we decided that CCDC is the best kept secret for classical ballet in all of Iowa..."
...But, why does CCDC have to be such a "big secret"? The more you help us pass the word around or help-out, the less likely it'll be we'll have to raise tuition and fees...or, heaven forbid, shut the studio down. What can you do? Next month is Bring A Friend2Dance Month at CCDC. Start planting that seed now!o)

08.21.2009: iBienvenido!

Arts happenings in the Capital City:
"...(August 2009) The Art Center is pleased to announce the appointment of Gilbert Vicario as its new curator. Mr. Vicario comes to the Capital City from the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, where he served as assistant curator of Latin American Art and Latino Art since 2004. Vicario will serve as head of the Art Center’s curatorial department and we welcome the new vision that he brings to this community and the many contributions that will follow. Vicario lends a unique perspective to the Art Center through his passion for contemporary art as a means of communication across vast cultural and geographic divides. His recent focus on contemporary art in Latin America has enabled him to establish a firm bridge between local artistic tendencies in countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and Venezuela and their relationship to larger mainstream artistic movements. “I’m excited to apply my knowledge and lived experience to the wonderful artistic legacy well in place at the Art Center,” Vicario says.

Among his many projects, Vicario served as U.S. Commissioner for the 2006 International Biennale of Cairo with the project Daniel Joseph Martinez: The fully enlightened earth radiates disaster triumphant. Other exhibitions include Alfredo Jaar: The Eyes of Gutete Emerita and Indelible Images (with Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Daniel Joseph Martinez, Teresa Margolles, Oscar Muñoz and Regina Silveira) for the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and one-person exhibitions for Nikki S. Lee, Chen Zhen and Diller + Scofidio, as well as the group exhibition Made in Mexico (traveled to UCLA Hammer Museum) for the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston. He also held a previous position in the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Vicario has a M.A. in curatorial studies from the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College, and a B.A. in visual arts from the University of California at San Diego.

Patricia Hickson, who had served as the head of the curatorial department at the Art Center since December 2003, left the Capital City in February to accept a position at the Wadsworth Athenaeum in Hartford, Connecticut.

This position is funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts through the Arts and the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009..."

08.20.2009: Not Just FAVORITE Dance Krew!

Still trying to match namez to the phases of this year's ABDC cruise. Is it just me? Or, does the field of Krewz seem weaker compared to other seasons? Here's my current rankings after Weak Too:

  1. Massive Monkeez: These guys are athletic and artistic and creative. But, they have to guard against just being a one-note troupe. Need to work on the more creativity, mind-bending imagination and story-telling. That worm through hula-hoopz was a good start.
  2. Vogue Evolution: These gender-challenging dancers bring enthusiasm, energy and experience in underground house competitions in the backstreets of the Big Apple. But, are they limiting themselves to outrageous in-ur-face preening and queening?
  3. Rhythm City: Charleston? Really? Liked Judge JC'z comments to honor your history. This group falls in the middle ground of mediocre averageness so far. Everyone needz to start seperating themselves from the logjam of anonymity.
  4. Beat Ya Feet Kings: NRG is thy middle name, but, a lack of precision may be thy Achilles' Heel!
  5. Southern Movement: Trying not to let my anti-country bias influence my judgement of their dance moves. Only mildly successful on both counts.
  6. Afroborike: Finally learned this group's name before they went on the chopping block. I like that the girlz look like girlz and the guys dance like men in this group. Lotta street krew grrlz think they gotta dress like boyz. But, Afroborike's salsa and partner matchings are more club than street. And, that could be a minus to some voters. But, they do infuse fresh caliente latin flavor to this competition.
  7. We R Heroez: An international crew, but, seems just happy to be in the competition. Can they bring more edge and energy to challenge for the crown?

And, ousted last Sunday: Artistry In Motion: I41 am going to miss SYTYCD Alum Donelle's group. They're all fully trained dancers with a street edge. Their choreography was more than one-note. I really liked their sub-text message: you don't have to starve yourself to be a better dancer. That good dancers come in all shapes and sizes.

08.10.2009: Smooooth As...

Good to see CCDC Alum Syllka da Shaka in class recently. She's been attending the school we like to call Party Hearty University over on the eastern edge of the state since she graduated. Always a bit nostalgic to run into former students, but, there's a little bit more of an edge of "what if" with Ms Syllk. Her parents discouraged her interest in dance and, instead of peaking, she disappeared her senior year. So, we're left to wonder what would have happened, how good she might've become if they had fully supported her dreams. But, despite their opposition, now that she's out from under their, she couldn't just walk away from ballet. She's promising to come back in for more classes as soon as she can. And, back when I was training in my hometown, there were always a few women in their 20s and 30s who danced with the various little groups that paid "hired guns" to come in and perform. They always expressed regret they'd abandoned their dance dreams too early. And, now that they were older, they were heading back to the barre to get their ballet fix. There was always something a little nostalgic, a little sad, a little unfinished about those dancers. You may never become a professional dancer, but, for most dancers, if you don't will always, ALWAYS wonder. Far better to not achieve your dreams, than to not to try at all. All we ever ask is for you to forever give your all. Remember: "A life lived in only a life half-lived"---from Strictly Ballroom.

08.19.2009: Money Makes *The Word* Go Round!

Appeal from Capital City Dance Center Guest Faculty Kathleen Hurley:

Dear dance lovers,

Metabank, is sponsoring a weekly drawing to benefit community charities and non-profit organizations.

Hurley & Dancers is putting together a season for this year beginning with our Sept. 12 ArtStop performance (...hope you can come!!) and can use your support! I t won't cost you a thing. Just click on the link. Then click on the "52 weeks of community giving" button to nominate Hurley & Dancers. You'll be asked for Hurley & Dancers' website ( and phone (515) 710-2412.

Please, send this link to your friends and relatives and those who want to donate money, but can't. With a few keystrokes, they too can nominate Hurley & Dancers for a $100.00 donation on-line and it won't cost them a thing.

The drawing runs for the next 52 weeks. And you can nominate organizations as many times as you want.

Be sure to visit Hurley & Dancers for upcoming events.

Thanks for helping to support dance in the Capital City!

Kathleen Hurley
Artistic Director,
Hurley & Dancers

08.18.2009: Golly! Would...? Bollywood!

Send us your workshop and performance notices and we'll put the worthy ones up in front of this dance and ballet blog's tens of readers!o) Like this:
"...My friend Minila Shah is coming to enliven Fairfield with the unbelievable fun of bollywood dancing. remember half of the bollywood dancers are men so swallow your fear and jump in. its great exercise for the body and brain. Unleash the sexy crazy fun stuck parts of yourself and join in . Forget for now all the self help workshops that dig into your pain and suffereing. put on hold your visualizations for weath and relationships. This workshop will put you in the moment where you feel rich and happy and are having a grand time with loads of fun, food and dance.

Balle Balle
love radhika..."

...Sunday, August 30th@Morningstar Studio.

08.17.2009: Non-Frenchman In Capital City

Guest reviews always this:
" movie rec--from dq--

me and big sis ballerina watched American in Paris checked out from the local library. Fun 1950's dance movie with fabulous tap by Gene Kelly (youngsters, check with your folks or grandparents about this guy!!) Also stars the lovely young ballerina Leslie Caron (and some peaks at the 1950's style Emery mocks in class, but altogether pretty good dancing!) Director was Vincent Minelli, husband to Judy Garland and dad to Liza....and the movie won lots of awards...."

...And, in person, Dona Quixote, adds the music is all by Gershwin and, thus, "very, very listenable".

08.13.2009: Web Lynx Dance Again!

"...They were among 11 members of the company’s corps de ballet, some barely in their 20s, who have joined the swelling ranks of laid-off workers nationwide struggling to find new ways in the recession. They were told in February, shortly before the deadline for new contracts to be issued, that their employment would not be renewed, mainly for economic reasons..."

The down economy ripples through the Arts. Put a face on the fx from the New York Times.

Nice2hear a professional ballet company appears to be actually rising phoenix-like from the ashes: (CCDC Instructor Karina Sturdevant was once part of the old company):
"...Dancers from all over the world auditioned to join a new company formed by the Lexington Ballet and today those who made the cut were welcomed to their new hometown. ..."

...Hopefully, more will follow. Read the article from Business Lexington.

Other athletes could benefit from jumping "like a dancer":
"...part of the difference in injury rates between female dancers and female athletes is because of the way dancers land their jumps..."

Intriguing research as reported by the New York Times.

08.12.2009: Keepin' Up Wit Kourt!

An update from former CCDC instructor Kourtney H:
"...I know it's been a while and I'm bad at keeping in touch but here and here are links to the last couple videos I've done lately! :)

Please tell the girls from my classes that I miss them and hope everyone is doing well!!! I'll be home for a visit later this month and can't wait!!!

take care,

08.12.2009: Something Fishy About Sushi...

Like sushi? (Which btw is not all raw fish! That's sashimi!) Better check this out from Men's Health Magazine. (No direct link to homepage provided because of other mature topics addressed):
"...Eating fish has been linked to longevity, immunity, brain function, low blood pressure, and more. When it isn’t served fried with a side of chips, this wonder-food can do great things for your health. And served as sushi, it can do great things for your waistline—if you’re careful. While some sushi varieties are loaded with nutrients and low in calories, others are packed with extra unnecessary fat. To help you decipher the sushi menu, we’ve created the Ultimate Sushi Selector Slideshow. Whether you’re craving a high-cal-but-healthy rainbow roll or a high-fat-disaster shrimp tempura roll, you’ll know what’s in each and every bite..."

08.11.2009: A Little Bit of Gnaw On The Ledge...

Dance, then, read and learn, kidz! Then, dance some more!:
(Courtesy Newswise) — Childhood obesity has quadrupled in the last 40 years, which may mean today’s children become the first generation to have a shorter lifespan than their parents, a leading obesity expert told the American Psychological Association on Saturday.

However, parents can help stave off this impending crisis if they help their children to eat better and exercise, according to Edward Abramson, PhD.

In the last decade, “we’ve seen a [tenfold] increase in Type-2 diabetes and psychological and social consequences, such as prejudice, rejection, discrimination and low self-esteem in children,” Abramson. “More than 60 percent of overweight children have one risk factor for cardiovascular disease and 20 percent have two or more risk factors.” Bad eating habits can start with “emotional eating,” or eating when one is not hungry, or from following a strict diet, Abramson said. “This can lead to a weight problem or an eating disorder,” he added. “Parents’ attitudes and behaviors also have an influence on children’s eating, and mothers more than fathers affect children’s eating habits and body image.”

Many factors contribute to mothers' concern about their children’s risk for obesity, Abramson said. “For example, there is evidence that minority parents (e.g., African-American, Hispanic) are less concerned about their children's weight,” he said. “Often, when a mother is struggling with her own weight, she becomes more involved in regulating her daughter's eating. In general, mothers are more concerned than fathers about their child's weight, especially their daughter’s, and are more likely to restrict foods.”

While everyone, including children, is entitled to have food preferences, infants are born with genetic predispositions toward sweet and salty tastes and against sour and bitter tastes and unfamiliar foods, Abramson said. “For these children, it may take several repetitions (10 or more) to have a child try a new food, but parents should retreat gracefully and try again another day rather than get into a battle of wills when the child refuses a food,” he said. Physical activity can also help prevent obesity even when there is a tendency to gain weight due to genetics, Abramson said. Research has shown that 4- to 7-year-old children of active parents were six times as likely to be active. Exercise in school lowers the risk for obesity, whereas time spent watching TV or on the computer playing video games increases the risk.

Research has shown that most babies and toddlers start out liking their bodies, said Abramson. But this doesn’t last for girls. By the time girls reach pre-adolescence, many start to suffer from warped body images. “Thirty percent of 9-year-old, 55 percent of 10-year-old and 65 percent of 11-year-old girls think they’re fat,” he said. “Entering puberty isn’t as bad for boys. They’re more satisfied with their bodies than before they entered puberty.”

Parents can help their children have a healthy body image, he said. They need to understand how they feel about their child’s physique and see how that is influencing their behavior. With young children, they should let them choose the clothes they want to wear. With pre-adolescents, parents should talk about the body changes that happen during puberty. And finally, they should encourage their children to have friendships with other children who are less concerned with appearance.

(Courtesy Newswise) — As many as 50 million Americans are living sedentary lives, putting them at increased risk of health problems and even early death, a leading expert in exercise science told the American Psychological Association.

Steven Blair, PED, called Americans’ physical inactivity “the biggest public health problem of the 21st century.”

Research has shown approximately 25 percent to 35 percent of American adults are inactive, Blair said, meaning that they have sedentary jobs, no regular physical activity program and are generally inactive around the house or yard. “This amounts to 40 million to 50 million people exposed to the hazard of inactivity,” Blair said in an interview. “Given that these individuals are doubling their risk of developing numerous health conditions compared with those who are even moderately active and fit, we’re looking at a major public health problem.”

Blair found that fitness level was a significant predictor of mortality. The ongoing study began in 1970 and includes more than 80,000 patients. The researchers periodically measured the participants’ body composition and body mass index, and each patient underwent a stress test. Researchers also looked at numerous other factors including the participants’ medical histories.

Blair also highlighted the benefits of exercise on the mind, referring to recent emerging evidence that activity delays the mind’s decline and is good for brain health overall. Blair said he thinks psychologists can be integral in helping patients understand the health hazards of being inactive and encouraging people to look for more ways to get moving. “Over the past few decades, we have largely engineered the need for physical activity out of the daily lives of most people in industrialized societies,” said Blair.

The message should be simple, he said: Doing something is better than doing nothing, and doing more is better than doing less, at least up to a point. “We need numerous changes to promote more physical activity for all, including public policies, changes in the health care system, promoting activity in educational settings and worksites, and social and physical environmental changes. We need more communities where people feel comfortable walking. I believe psychologists can help develop better lifestyle change interventions to help people be more active via the Internet and other technological methods.”

(Courtesy Newswise) — Public concern about childhood obesity is on the rise and it continues to outrank all other health problems as the No. 1 concern for children in the United States.

According to a report released today, the proportion of adults who believe childhood obesity is a big problem has increased from 35 percent of adults in 2008 to 42 percent in 2009.

While obesity has ranked as the top overall health concern for kids in the U.S. for the last two years, it has not always been the case for Hispanics or blacks.

“This is the first year the three major racial/ethnic groups all agree,” says Matthew Davis, M.D., director of the poll. “In 2008, among whites, the chief concern was obesity, while among blacks the chief concern was teen pregnancy, and among Hispanics the chief concern was smoking.”

(Courtesy Newswise) — Do you intend on getting a healthy tan this summer? You may want to rethink your plans. Tan skin is the body’s reaction to sun damage, along with freckles, wrinkles and brown spots. So unless your tan comes from a bottle, it’s probably not healthy.

More than one million cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed in the United States this year, according to the American Cancer Society. And despite the countless public service announcements and media messages, the numbers continue to rise.

According to recent studies, people in their teens and early twenties are less likely than any other age group to use sun protection, despite the increasing risk among this demographic.

Many young people ignore the risk because they don’t see the detrimental effects of the sun right away. Skin cancer often does not show up immediately. “Most skin cancers take years of cumulative sun exposure to form and reflect sun-worshipping behaviors of years past,” says Tanya Futoryan, MD.

And it’s not just young people who suffer the negative effects of the sun. It’s only been over the last two decades, that we’ve learned, as a society, about the dangers of the sun. Millions of women who spent their childhoods basking in the sun are suffering the consequences as well.

“Although we are better educated now on sun protection, it takes a long time to adapt sunscreen use and sun avoidance into our every day lives,” says Futoryan. “Every new generation has to be convinced of the dangers of sun damage.”

There are three major types of skin cancer. Bad sunburns which include blistering increase a person’s risk of melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer. Long-term exposure to the sun increases the risk of all types of skin cancer including the less serious types: basal-cell and squamous-cell carcinoma.

The diagnosis of all types of skin cancer has increased and melanoma has become the most common cancer among young women aged 25-29.

While it’s not entirely clear why the risk of skin cancer is skyrocketing in women, there are certainly a few clues. Alarming numbers of young people, mostly women, are using tanning beds in the United States. Study after study suggests that the UV rays at tanning salons are just as damaging as natural sunlight.

“In young women ages 15-29, the torso is the most common location for developing melanoma, which may be due to high risk tanning behavior," according to Francesco Fusco, MD. “This is most likely due to increased UV exposure which includes natural as well as artificial UV light.”

There is also strong evidence suggesting that young people continuously ignore the threat of skin cancer. According to results from a recent study conducted by the American Academy of Dermatology, only one in three American teenagers between the ages of 12 and 18 used sunscreen.

“While great advances have been made in early detection and prevention of skin cancer, it is important to educate young women about the importance of sun protection in the fight against skin cancer,” says Futoryan.

Here are some tips on how to stay safe in the sun:

  • Use sunscreen (with broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection) liberally when outdoors.
  • Seek shade between 10 am and 4 pm large sun umbrellas work great.
  • Wear sun
  • protective clothing; hats and longer pants, shirts with sleeves, sarongs and wraps.
  • Use UV absorbing sunglasses to protect the eyes.

In addition to your own monthly skin checks, an annual head-to-toe skin examination by a dermatologist, or skin doctor, should be a routine part of your health maintenance.

08.10.2009: Weak End Me D Uh Notez

...Nearly unwatchable! That's my feeling after catching a replay of Step Up Two: Takin' It2Da Streetz! on a movie channel this weekend. I managed to keep from changing the channel by doing something else until some dancing came on. ABDC winnerz Jabba Wokkeez were the best thing on there. But, that one actor/dancer who played Goose wasn't too bad either. The only good thing was: it didn't cost me anything extra to watch the movie. But, this is the kinda thing that gives dance-movies a bad name! Just like the also "unwatchable" Center Stage II! Listen, I'm trying not to get my hopes up for the remake of the seminal dance flick Fame, but, I suspect the association with authentic dance divaz Debbie Allen and Adam Shankman as well as some SYTYCD alumz will upgrade the move from beyond barely "watchable" to "MustCMoviez"...Speaking of SYTYCD alum, Donelle Eller is back! Watched her dance krew on the premiere of ABDC IV this past weekend. Not sure she'll have the success of other SYTYCD alum who went on to ABDC. Namely, last season's winners Hok+Ryan and the rest of da Quest Krew. At first blush, really impressed with Massive Monkeez from Seattle...and that odd-sounding name of Rican Samba-Hip Popperz. (Forgot my notes!o) But, last night's lightning storm blew out our recording, so, I didn't get to see the elimination. Must say Vogue Evolution seems to be taking up where Fanny Pack left off. Also, if you missed the top ten ABDC recap performances on MTV, try to catch it! Loved seeing Jabba, Supah Krew and Quest Krew again. And, the cloggers and the roller skaterz, too!... Also, have to give big kudoz to Jeanine Mason for winning SYTYCD IV last weak. Her final solo was a dream come true. It looked like she was going to fall out of her grand pirouette pull-in, but, saved it to end on balance. Ended her pirouette on balance before thousands watching live and millions watching live TV and 4eva on the web! I think she won that quarter-mill and the title America's Favorite Dancer right there! Also, kinda stunning to see The Golden Girl get axed so early! The good newz for dance fanz is: ABDC already underway, new seasons of SYTYCD and DWT***S standing by for next month! ...And! FAME! I wanna live 4eva! I wanna learn how2fly! HIGH!!! Whoops! Despite my best efforts it looks like expectations are skyrocketing!o) Planning on watching on the mega-big-screen theater in town! (If you haven't scene the original Fame!, make time2get that in b4 the new 1 premierez. B gnaw ledge able!o)

08.10.2009: Interesting eMailz

Want to get into the pointe shoe/danceware importing biz? Here's a recent e-mail (spam?) seeking a dance business alliance. This was a completely unsolicited inquiry, so, proceed at your own risk:
"...Dear sirs,

Shenzhen wujie dance shoes co,ltd . We specialized in: Latin dance shoes, morden dance shoes, ballet shoes, jazz dance shoes, Pointe Shoes,,Flamenco Shoes which can match with the British dance shoes , and producing international standard dancing clothes ,such as Modern dancing clothes, Latin dancing clothes.that are popular all around the world,Our company not only can provide four hundred kinds of different designs for you, but also can provide the special service for you..,except our own brand, we also produce OEM products for all customer free of charge ,you only need to tell us your preferred color/material, picture of your designed style or your favorite style and the size , we can produce for you according to your requirements.

Our company can provide excellent product, reasonable price and timey delivery service for you Welcome all the clients to our company to visit, give us more directions and discussion ,make business with us.. If you provide your needs of the design and the sample of the products for us, we are glad for you to develop and produce it.sincerely look forward to your reply and copperation ..thanks...

...Best wishes
Cong liu..."

08.07.2009: Hark! Nest O' Tipz!

Some reminders from Harkness:
"...The Harkness Center for Dance Injuries is currently looking for dancers and athletes to participate in a scientific research study designed to investigate the effects of fatigue on jumping ability. We are looking for healthy male and female professional or collegiate dancers and athletes between the ages of 18-40. You will be asked to jump from a height of approximately 15 inches onto a flat surface while measurements of your motion, muscle activity, and force are taken.

Participants will receive $50!

Please call (212-460-0157) or email to discuss any questions you have about this project or to volunteer..."

...AND! That's not all!...
"...Cross training is a kinesiological strategy utilized in sport to help athletes cope with on-going demands and achieve peak performance, while avoiding overuse injuries. Often misunderstood in the dance world because of fear that it will develop bulky muscles (hypertrophy) or “the wrong muscles” that may destroy the dancer’s artistic line, cross training is, in fact a highly valuable tool for correcting training imbalances that result from dance-only training. Cross training helps to elongate the muscles that become short in dancers (eg. the calf muscles and the hip external rotators and iliotibial band) and ensures core muscles are trained to a super-normal level, above and beyond that which dance training alone develops. Further, a properly designed cross training programs that vary in intensity, duration and type of movement help dancers to avoid “burnout”, a clinical syndrome often affecting dancers and athletes that comes about from monotonous exposure to a singular training style. Health is enhanced, and injuries are prevented when a more varied and balanced approach to dance technique training is undertaken.

So what cross training is best for dancers? Depending on the style of dance and the repertoire performed by your group, the cross training program undertaken will vary. A properly designed cross training program needs to emphasize the specific task demands the dancer will be asked to perform in upcoming choreography, including the specific components of partnering that will be encountered during rehearsal and on-stage. Doing so will allow for the dancer’s mind and body to become acclimated to the unique demands of each piece of choreography.

Since dance is intermittent in nature, requiring both anaerobic and aerobic energy systems, it is recommended that cardiovascular cross training contain both high intensity burst (interval training) and endurance work to optimize the energy systems of the body. Aerobic, or steady state (endurance) exercises should be those that are enjoyable to do and that last a minimum of 40 minutes at a moderate intensity.

Guided resistance training, or the use of weights such as dumbbells, resistance bands or one’s own body weight during calisthenic-type exercises that balance the body in anatomic neutral, is highly recommended. Typically 8-weeks of cross training are required to ensure the dancer’s muscular strength and joint stability are able to withstand the repetitive loading of the specific choreography. Further, dancer’s must understand energy output relative to energy input so that they fuel (eat) and hydrate (drink) adequately.

It is imperative to first train safely by asking a dance medicine or dance fitness professional about proper lifting mechanics and proper footwear for cardiovascular and weight lifting (or calisthenic) activity. Always be aware of your body's limits, practice wisely and have fun!"

08.06.2009: THAT's Where That Term Comes From!

Send us your dance performance or audition notices and they could end up in front of tens of this dance-and-ballet blog's readers. Like this:
"Come, Come, whoever you are
Wanderer, idolater, worshiper of fire
Come even if you have broken
Your vows a thousand times
Come, and come yet again
Ours is not a caravan of despair

The Whirling Dervishes of Rumi coming to the Capital City!

Thursday, August 13, 2009 at 7:00 pm
Sheslow Auditorium at Drake University

If you're looking to put a spiritual spin on your evening, The Whirling Dervishes of Rumi from Turkey is a must see. Continuing the teachings of the 13th century scholar and poet Rumi, the whirling dervishes are widely acclaimed. Accompanied by reed flutes, drums and chants used since the days of Rumi, the dervishes wearing long, flowing robes, move about the stage in a spinning meditation.

For more information on dervishes and the sema ritual, click here.

08.06.2009: Worst Case Scenario

Warning: Cheerleading can be hazardous to your health:
(Courtesy Newswise) — As a bright, young cheerleader trying out for the high school varsity squad, 14-year-old Laura Jackson had everything going for her.

But when a back flip went wrong during a try-out without a trained spotter on hand, Laura landed on her head fracturing her neck and damaging her spinal cord. Laura is now paralyzed and breathes with the help of a ventilator.

Cheerleading has become the leading cause of catastrophic injury in young female athletes, says Doctor Amy Miller Bohn.

The rate of injuries from cheerleading accidents have gone from nearly 5,000 in 1980 to close to 26,000 to 28,000 in the past few years, Miller Bohn says.

In addition, the leading cause of catastrophic injuries in female athletes is cheerleading, according to The National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research. They account for approximately 65 to 66 percent of all female catastrophic injuries in either high school or college.

“If you look at cheerleading injuries, most of them are still more the common types of things that we should think about – muscle strains or pulls, ligament injuries, tendon injuries,” Miller Bohn says. “The concern is that there are certainly a fair number of increasingly severe injuries.”

Because of the increase in degree of difficulty in cheerleading skills, increased acrobatics and stunt activities may be increasing the risk of severity of injury.

Catastrophic injuries seen in cheerleading involve either death, injuries that results in disability that are often related to head trauma or spine trauma. Doctors are also seeing more injuries that a person may not be able to recover from completely – such as concussions or severe fractures.

Cheerleading injuries appear to be on the rise partly because of an increase in participants, but the sport has also changed significantly in the last 25 years. Cheerleading no longer consists of athletes standing on the sidelines, rooting for a team.

“Cheerleading has become an actual competitive sport,” she says.

If participants want to be one of the better teams, compete at high levels and be invited to competitions, athletes must include a higher degree of difficulty and risk in routines. This means fewer traditional pyramids and more tossing people in the air, jumping off pyramids and trying risky stunts, Miller Bohn says.

Miller Bohn believes there aren’t enough safety measures in place in schools. Many athletes will practice in places such as a back yard, a hard gym floor or a parking lot. There are often no supportive surfaces to shield them from falls.

Participants also lack adequate supervision. If an adequately trained coach is not present to ensure participants are using proper techniques and make sure spotters are placed where they should, injuries may occur.

In addition, there is no uniformity in training of cheerleading coaches. They can range from a child’s parent, a former cheerleader, to someone with a high level of training in gymnastics.

Parents whose children are interested in cheerleading should ask questions about the coach’s experience, what type of athletes the coach has worked with and if they have experience with gymnastics stunt work. They also need to know what the plan is for that cheerleading squad, what types of activities they will perform, who is supervising and where activities will be performed.

Resources and safety recommendations can also be found through foundations such as the National Cheer Safety foundation..." about sticking to dance?

08.05.2009: Finally! The Finale'!

Just got this in the emailbag from Fox TV:
"...Who Will Be Crowned America's Favorite Dancer on the SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE Finale?

Season Finale Wednesday, August 5 and Thursday, August 6 at 8/7c

For the first time ever, the SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE two-night season finale will be broadcast from the world-renowned Kodak Theatre in Hollywood! Wednesday's performance show will feature the ultimate showdown between the Top 4 finalists - Brandon Bryant, Evan Kasprzak, Jeanine Mason and Kayla Radomski. Thursday's two-hour live grand finale will feature surprise guests and special performances by this season's Top 20 who will reunite! At the end of the celebration, host Cat Deeley will reveal America's Favorite Dancer live before thousands of fans and millions of television viewers. The winner will dance off with a cash prize of $250,000 and will be featured on the cover of the November issue of Dance Spirit magazine. And if you can't get enough of SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE, you don't need to wait until next summer for Season 6 - it kicks off in just 5 weeks on Wednesday, September 9 at 8/7c!..."

...I'm putting my money on Brandon, Kayla or Jeanine in that order. Evan may win, but, I'm not into that old-school, Liza Minelli-style Broadway Jazz. He's great at it, but, it's not my favorite style of dance. And, isn't that the criteria? The other three are almost too close to call. Love them all! Can't lose IMHO!o) AND! SYTYCD VI starts next month!

08.05.2009: More Info being told dancers have to be at least 15 years old to register for the Harlequin Dance Scholarship referenced in a previous post (below). One parent tells me there's no mention of the age requirement until you start to apply. But, if you or your dancer isn't quite old enough, this is an annual giveaway. So, mark your calendars for after her quinceanera (or his fifteenth!o). Also, should've mentioned some local coupons for danceware (dance wear?) 15% discount are available from the CCDC office. You could combine that with this weekend's tax-free holiday. But, a lot of dance wear (danceware?) isn't eligible. Leotards and tights are tax-exempt this weekend, but, not ballet slippers, so you should double-check here. There are also fliers in the front office from a local store about a bundle of products for new young dancers at a discount. But, you can't combine the coupon with the bundle. Do your homework4back2school!o)

08.04.2009: Money4Nuttin! Gitchur Kix4Free!

Missed the last Discount Dance money-off offer we blogged about earlier? Well, just in time for fall back-2-school and back-2-the-barre shopping season, latest Dance Magazine has a NEW Discount Dance offer for ten bucks off orders over a hundred. Use the code "DMS910" without the quotes before August 31st. (Also, tell them to advertise on this blog!o) Always a good idea to combine your orders with your friends to meet the minimum and cut-down on shipping costs. Just do the math on costs versus discount savings. And, while you're on the web, surf on over to the Harlequin Floors website and sign up for the Harlequin 2009 Annual Dance Scholarship. They bill it as "Your Dance Stimulus Package!" Just click on "Apply for a dance scholarship". They say there are "no auditions, no essays, just a random drawing gives you a chance to earn up to a $5,000 grand prize scholarship. There are 20 chances to win, and we award $25,000 in all each year..." Deadline for submissions is November 1. If you don't have a computer or web access (And...explain exactly how it is you're reading this ballet blog?), the 800 number is 800.642.6440 to ask for an application. It costs nothing to apply (except maybe for a stamp if you snail-mail your app,) so, sign-up and Buena suerte'!

08.08.2009: Ripe4Parody? Or Tripe4Parity?

I41 am tired of non-dancing actresses playing ballerinas. (Get a clue, Julia Stiles!) But, there they go again! Here are some blurbs about an upcoming dance movie:
"...Mila Kunis is becoming Natalie Portman’s arch nemesis. She’s been cast in the Darren Aronfsky movie Black Swan in which Portman stars as a talented ballerina tormented by a rival who may, or may not, be a figment of her imagination. THR says the increasingly in demand Kunis will play that possibly rival, Lilly.

Watch your back Ashton Kutcher! Kunis is on her way to rocketing past you as the most successful That 70s Show kid. It’s all thanks to Forgetting Sarah Marshall, in which she stole the movie as Jason Segel’s dream girl, pseudo love interest. Since then she’s been a hot commodity, with a long list of upcoming starring roles in high-profile upcoming movies like Extract, The Book of Eli and Steve Carell’s Date Night. That should be enough to wash the Max Payne stink off..."

"...Mila Kunis has been named for the second female lead in the psycho-thriller Black Swan, the Hollywood Reporter said Monday.

Kunis will play the rival of a successful ballet dancer, portrayed by Natalie Portman. While the women are working on important production, unexplained supernatural events begin occurring.

The film will be directed by Darren Aronofsky, who most recently directed the critically hailed The Wrestler, starring Mickey Rourke..."

08.03.2009: Performance Publicity

Send your professional or semi-pro performance notices here. We may post them. Just like this:
"...Hello friends, family, colleagues, and dance lovers :)

Poetic Rebound Performance Company will present Altitudes of Normality, an evening of original modern dance, this Saturday, August 8th at 7:30 p.m. at Morning Star Studios in Fairfield. The performance will feature company members Amy Stange, Meredith Wright, Nicole Klein and Artistic Director Nicole Morford, as well as guest artists Lisa Lewis, Analia Alegre-Femenias and Amy Jacobus. Work presented will be diverse, including new works choreographed by Amy Jacobus and Nicole Morford, as well as new and restaged duets and solos. Tickets will be sold at the door and are $10 for adults and $7 for students.

Poetic Rebound Performance Company is a non-profit professional modern dance company with an emphasis on community outreach and artistic collaboration. The company performs in both traditional and non-traditional settings, bringing an eclectic and progressive breed of modern dance to the state and region. For more information on the company, please visit here.

Please pass this information along to anyone who may be interested in attending! Come out and support dance and art in the community!

Nicole Morford
Artistic Director
Poetic Rebound Performance Company..."

07.31.2009: False Alarm

All hands! Stand down! The report of "ballerina items" for sale at the Hancher Auditorium Half-Price "Garage Sale" today have apparently been "greatly exaggerated" (in my mind at least!o). Here's an e-mail dialogue with one of the theater's big-wigs:
"...News coverage of your "yard sale" this Friday had a vague mention of "ballerina items". Could you get someone to be a little more specific? Is this Joffrey memorabilia? TIA,..."

"...No, this would not include Joffrey memorabilia. I wish it did! Thanks..."

"...(But,) What are the "ballerina items" referred to?..."

"...Finally, I got information for you. The ballerina items are ornaments, some books and some nice jewelry. If you want to talk to one of the buyers here is her number --- ... Thanks. ..."

...Doesn't seem too exciting to me. But, if you want that name and number, e-mail me.

07.31.2009: Big Buck$4TheArt$

Good news for local arts organizations in the latest state update:

Federal Arts Funding. The Department of Cultural Affairs has been awarded $303,000 by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) for direct grants to fund arts projects and activities that preserve jobs in the nonprofit arts sector threatened by declines in philanthropic and other support during the current economic downturn. The amount that has been drawn is $300,000. This funding did not require a State match.

07.30.2009: Missing Merce

CCDC Contemporary/Pilates Instructor Alyssa Hamer sends this along:
"...This is an article about the death of Merce Cunningham.


07.30.2009: Weak End Planz?

Showing now at a theater near you: (The Fleur Cinema and Cafe)
"... EVERY LITTLE STEP is a terrific new documentary surrounding the spectacle that is Broadway's A Chorus Line. The film chronicles both the casting process of a recent revival of the show, as well as explores the shows origins, traditions and impact on Broadway, musical theater and the culture. It is a highly entertaining documentary that has won many, many festival awards.

"It's a can't-miss effort that knows how to please."

-Los Angeles Times..."
...and here's a videoclip:

07.29.2009: Audition Action

Calling all master thespians and other actors!
Casting for SAG Feature Film, Dylan's Wake

AriesWorks Entertainment calling for actor submissions for Dylan's Wake, an LA-based SAG feature film. Produced by Lucas Jarach and directed by Omar Naim, the film is shooting in Iowa beginning August 31.

Six leading roles (TBA) are being cast by well-known Los Angeles Casting Director, Mary Vernieu (Sin City,The Wrestler, Swing Vote, Spanglish and others). All other roles are being cast by Kimberly Busbee. For regional casting, there are 12 Speaking Roles (including supporting roles),15 Featured Extras and up to 150 Extras in Dylan's Wake; providing more visibility for Iowa and Midwest actors.

Dylan's Wake (in the vein of Jacob's Ladder meets Good Will Hunting) is the story of a young man who fakes his own death to see if anyone will show up at his funeral. Only to discover that two people show up-- a street junkie who believes our protagonist is an angel who has come to save his life, and his High School sweetheart from ten years before. Their lives will be changed forever in this supernatural film about friendship, romance and redemption.

Dylan's Wake
September Productions, LLC
Producer, Lucas Jarach
Director, Omar Naim
Writer, Steven Kroll
LA Casting Director, Mary Vernieu
Regional Casting, Kimberly Busbee

Submission Preference:
Please email file submission attachments labeled with your name - including resume and small JPEG photo file (no more than 100 KBs) to

Principle Photography begins Aug. 31
Casting 12 Speaking roles,15 Featured Extras, plus extras

CHARACTER BREAKDOWN for regional casting:

  • MR. BRENNAN: late 40s and up, a tough Irish gangster, face damaged from drink and hard living, but with the eyes of a shark; imposing.
  • STEVE: 27-28 Good-looking and cocky. The kind of man who has received all women’s attention since he was 15…but on some level he realizes that he is not what people think he is. Highly charismatic, extroverted, but with a fading twinkle in his eye. A bit of G. W. Bush in him. Has a Travolta-like strut.
  • JACK : 27-28, Ex Fraternity boy, barely reformed,obnoxious humor; thinks he’s funnier than he is.
  • MEGAN: 27-28, very skinny, almost frighteningly so: bony face, elbows, knees. Catty gossip.
  • DAVID: 27-28 Jack’s follower since childhood. Slovenly. Smart-alec.
  • TRACY : 27-28, Pregnant and glowing., but still catty with girlfriends about other women (real pregnancy a plus, but not required.)
  • BRENDAN: 18-19 Playful, irreverent. Good sense of humor. Genuine Irish/American accent would be a plus.
  • MARTIN : 18 or so, Same as Brendan. (the boys could be twins)
  • CHRISTINA O’ROURKE : Caucasian 50 plus, selfless, brave mother
  • OLDER NURSE: Female Any Ethnicity, 50 plus,Very observant multi-tasker, good at her job. Kind, but pragmatic. Has been at this job too long to get overly emotional about patients, even though her instinct is to give love unapologetically.
  • DETECTIVE MILANO: 40s Like your best friend’s likeable father. Blue collar, kind eyes, world weary.
  • DESK CLERK: Male 60 and up, any ethnicity; been there for years.


  • 2 HOMELESS MEN: 35 and up, any ethnicity; beards, long hair, very lined faces, weathered.
  • KISSING COUPLE IN THE STREET : 20 something, Caucasian Attractive male/female couple: the epitome of young, romantic love
  • OLD MAN AT BUS STOP : 65 plus, Caucasian, sad and lonely
  • MR. STARK: . 65 plus, Caucasian or African American, A likeable old face. Laugh lines, dead...
  • MR. SULLIVAN & MRS. SULLIVAN: Caucasian, middle aged, a little overweight.
  • CHERYL: Not "model" gorgeous, but still attractive: pretty with rounded figure, was expecting a normal life, but finds herself mourning her dead fiance'
  • SHAWN: (casket is closed, but we see him in photographs) Broad shouldered former athlete, square jawed, maybe a little beer gut.
  • DRUG DEALER: Male Caucasian Still a teen, looking desperate, but dangerous, a young snake.
  • MAN IN BLACK SUIT: Caucasian, Middle aged, Sinister. Should look almost anonymous, a government man, a head of a bank, possibly tall, with piercing eyes.
  • KID ON A BICYCLE : boy, 8-10 with large, expressive eyes
  • FRANK O’ ROURKE : 50 plus, good father, deceased
  • HOSPITAL RECEPTIONIST : female, any ethnicity over 35, desk jockey
  • Extras- mourners, drinkers in bar, diner patrons, cook, waitress, junkies, street kids, drug dealers, thugs, people at hospital

August 17 and 18
7:00 p.m.
Arrive early to complete information sheet. Prepared monologues not required.

This sharp-tongued comedy written by Tom Griffin (The Boys Next Door) tells the story of Bill, a famed novelist living the life of a recluse in a secluded farmhouse, who is visited by Diane whose car has broken down in the middle of a blizzard. Although suspicious, Bill gives her lodging for the night, and as the evening progresses, more about Diane’s motives and Bill’s literary reputation is revealed. The two draw closer, despite occasionally being interrupted by off-beat locals and the ramblings of Bill's aging father, who once encountered Albert Einstein. By the end of this character-driven tale, Bill is forced to confront the pain, loss and self-doubt which made him forsake his talent.

  • Three men (25-45+)
  • One man (45+)
  • Two women (25+)

Rex Mathes Auditorium
1401 Vine Street

Performances to be held October 9–24

More information available here.

07.28.2009: Garage Sale? Or Garbage Sale?

Hancher Auditorium at the University of Iowa in Iowa City is holding an inventory sale this Friday. (Which begs the question: why does a theater have a "showcase inventory" anyway? And,) Why is this of interest to a ballet blog? Because a spokesperson mentioned vague "ballerina items" up for sale. Not sure what that means...Old tutus? Autographed dusty pointe shoes? Other costumes? Signed posters, programs or pix? Betamax or Super 8 tapes of performances? Who knows? I do know that the Joffrey Ballet has has a long working relationship with Hancher. (Robert Joffrey is famously reported to have said, "Without Iowa, there would be no Joffrey!") The main company has world premiered several pieces on the Hancher stage. Both Joffrey I and Joffrey II have had residencies in the Hawkeye State. (Including CCDC 2009 Summer Intensive Guest Faculty and Minnesota Ballet Artistic Director Robert Gardner. He says he can point out which dancer he is on a well known poster/quilt of the second company's residency in the state.) And, the company just completed a River2River tour of free performances across the state in celebration of their association and the anniversary of the auditorium. And, Joffrey will hold benefit performances in Chicago and Des Moines this fall to raise funds for flood damage repair. Hancher officials say they don't want to put their inventory in storage for the indeterminate amount of time it's going to take to relocate and rebuild the flood damaged facility. So, if you or someone you know is in Iowa City this Friday, might be worth a look. (Pick me up a good tutu!o) The sale will be held on the plaza in front of Hancher. Free parking.

07.27.2009: New Place2Chek Out!

Just got this in the emailbag:
"...Hi, I am opening a dancewear store in Clive...

Elite Dance Outfitters
9962 Swanson Blvd
Clive, IA 50325

...take a look at their website at WWW.EliteDanceOutfitters.Com. (...or as soon as it gets back up again!) (And, is it spelled "dancewear" or "danceware"?)

07.25.2009: Back2TheBarre!

Optional Ballet IV/V/VI Sunday class will be held at its normal time. Time to get back2theBarre! Where ya bean? Ballet missed ya!o)

07.24.2009: M.A.A.N.! Whatta Show!

Well, Katie Holmes highly-hyped appearance on the hundredth episode of SYTYCD last night turned out to be "much ado about nothing". Sure, she looked good, but, a lot of costuming, make-up and staging and careful choreography (Thanks, Tyce!) went into that. All the trimmings couldn't make up for the fact the steak lacked sizzle. Mrs. Tom Cruise wasn't bad, but, she isn't a fully trained dancer. Holmes is what's known in the trade as "an actor/singer who moves". She sold it as well as she could, but, the only real dancers on stage were the corps of anonymous men behind her who made her, shaded her and moved her up and over obstacles. She reminded me of that old Las Vegas star who famously admitted he was carefully surrounded by the best lights and jewelry and beautiful dancers in his show, but, in the middle, he was still "an onion". The best dancing, of course, were the Emmy-winning numbers from previous seasons. Hok and Jamie in Hummingbird and Flower, Heidi and Travis in The Bench and the company and choreographer Wade Robson in Rama-Lama. I think the numbers were even better than I remembered because the dancers have more experience since we first saw them. But, what was missing? Maybe Katee and Twitch(?) in The Door or who was it in Mia Michaels' tribute to her father? And, make no mistake about it, I fully expect Tyce's dance from the Wednesday night show to be on the two-hundredth episode in another five years. I also would've loved to see a "where are they now" segment! (I guess I can always try to follow them on-line or via Twitter. Or in Fame!) As to the results, I was very surprised and dismayed to see Brandon and Jason get the least votes of the men. What is America thinking? Or not thinking? And, is the Blonde Wonder suffering a female voter backlash? Only two more episodes this season! Brandon and Kayla are my picks for the final pair. But, I'd like to see Melissa go far to represent for the classically trained dancers. (Even though Brandon and Jeanine's solo the other night was pleasantly chock-full-o ballet steps!o)(Jeanine reminds me a little bit of Sleeping Beauty II's older sister who has yet to come down from her perch for more classes and conversation!o) And, despite approaching the end of this season, a virtual terpsichorean tidal wave is heading to a TV near u soon! Another season of SYTYCD, DWTS and ABDC and that remake in a theater near u as well! Well, I'll be a-watchin'+a-bloggin'! UB a-readin'+a-reactin'! 'k?

07.23.2009: Twitter Note

If you're a regular blog reader, you might have already noticed the sporadic nature of postings during the one big summer vay-kay from CCDC. But, you can always follow along on Twitter. You can sign up (STILL waiting for ten local subscribers b4 the BIG drawing!o) Or, you can follow along with the latest tweets in the Twitter update section which will now live at the very bottom of the current News page!

07.23.2009: Dancer, Rhymes With...?

OMG! That Tyce Diorio piece on SYTYCD last night brought tears to my eyes! I'd been watching, not very impressed by the choreography of the pairs or the solos. I'd been ready to pronounce the other Tyce piece (the Jasyla broadway jazz number) the best of the night when I was struck full in the heart by the Cancer Dancers. I was NOT impressed by Travis Wall's sophomore and sophomoric tribute to Lady Gaga. And, Sonia always comes up with crafty and creative choreography, but, it's not always handled well by the dancers. The same could be said of Shane Sparks derivitave homage to the "one-gloved wonder". (Not as true of Kayson in this case.) But, the opposite is true of Laurie Ann Gibson's fresh, yet, freshman effort. The notes I took say volumes: "strong, combative, percussive, aggressive". But, it was a one-note choreographic effort. The dancers did extremely well with it, but, the one-note was macho and militaristic. (Branine are on my "hot tamale train"!o) Loved the waltz choreography by Hunter Johnson (Jeandon were really challenged by the technical requirements there). Just like Melissade' who weren't quite there on the cha-cha. And, Evanine in Tonalie's rhumba were "white bread and salsa". And, Evan may be left staring at a video montage tonight. His solo was excellent, but, becoming a tad predictable. Ade's solo was very musical, with amaaazing hops (or was it just the camera angle?) and an excellent layout Arabian. Jason started off neglecting his upper body line, but, then, started truly extending at the end of his thirty seconds in the spotlight, so it must have been a stylistic choice. Melissa tried to do more, but, I kept waiting and waiting as time ran out on her. But, I don't think her time has run out on the show. The Tyce piece was so powerful, so evocative, so memorable that I think American voters will be forced to choose among the remaining three to call it a career on the show. (May you and those you love never be affected by cancer.) Who will that be? Unless there's a backlash against the "blonde wonder", I think Jeannette will be watching the monitors tonight. Agree? Disagree? Input cheerfully accepted here.

07.21.2009: The Web Lynx Prowlz Again

Boyz DO do Ballet:
"...It's a wonderful art form. And I know I couldn't imagine my life without it. So, [others] could really be missing out if they don't pursue it...."
Check it out from the WFAA-TV. Video available.
What's it like to be a professional male dancer?:
"...Royal New Zealand Ballet dancer Paul Mathews reveals a life of pain and endless practice in the pursuit of perfection. ..."
Get a behind the scenes look, warts and all, from the New Zealand Star Times.
A dancer-turned-writer turns back into dancer4aday:
"...Why do we do this? Like the show teaches … we do it for love. So put it all out there, like this dance is your last hope. You have nothing left. You have nothing to give but yourself. Just dance with every fiber of your being..."
Follow along at KERA.Org.
Drawing on life:
"...For the last month or so I have been at the Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center, drawing the performers, staff and crew of American Ballet Theatre as they go about the business of filling an empty stage. I draw in pen and ink, with no rough drafts and no starting over. Each drawing is a live reaction to the moment, a surprise to me as it appears, a trust exercise and attempt to make something ephemeral and fleeting last..."
Really a story about finding purpose from the New York Times.
Coming soon? Perhaps to a screen near you?:
"...La Danse is being produced in partnership with PBS, which means we can look forward to a television broadcast sometime in the future...."
Sneak a written peek at LATimes.Com
International dreams of dance:
"...People ask me. `What are you going to do?' And I say, `I'm going to be a ballet dancer.' And they say, `Oh, someday you'll grow up'..."
Tap into a young dancer's dreams at the Miami Herald. Video available.

07.20.2009: Big Break!o)

Latest official update from GitUrFaShawn:
"...I just spoke to the artistic director...and...I agreed to join Ballet Minnesota for their upcoming season. My first day (which just so happens to be my birthday), is August 17th!.."
...So, official congrats to GitUrFaShawn! (Some birthday present!) His photo will soon be forever "enshrined" in the CCDC Wall of Fame! (Joining Mayor River and Millzababe!) That display honors CCDC graduates or other former students who've gone on to full-time dance contracts with professional companies. (And, there's room4U on that wall!o) And, wouldn't it be great for a big contingent of current CCDC students to travel to the Twin Cities to be there when he makes his professional debut?

07.20.2009: Save A Buck

Just got this in the old emailbag:
Summer Clearance Sale!!
50% OFF
Leotards, Leggings and Dance Accessories

Tues July 21 thru Sat July 25
Noon to 5 pm

4020 SE 14th Ste., B
Ph: 515-953-5716

07.17.2009: Misty, Water-Colored Memories...

Apparently, the looooong w8 is over! And, the Videoz R In The Mail. And, the e-reaction e-rupts:
"...Video just came in the mail. It looks great! Gives (my daughter) more material of (Ekaterina) to study :-) (My kids) both are very anxious to start next month. Hope you are doing well. If I can do anything to help you, please let me know..."
"...I just wanted to let you know that we received our DVD today.... we have already watched it!

It was wonderful....thanks for a great show and if anyone asks the quality of the DVD was wonderful too!

have a great vacation!..."

07.17.2009: When Sunny Gets Blue...

Ran into the first Sunny One's mom the other day. And, forgive me if it makes me melancholy. Sunny was the nickname I gave to a young student who always brought "the sunshine" with her to class. Loved2dance! Loved class! Loved the world! Immensely talented, energetic and dedicated! (There have been only two since the tradition began.) And, if there was any justice in the world, Sunny One would be wrapping up a long career as a professional dancer right about now. (Three or four or five or six of the members of the Junior Company at the time went on to professional careers. And, even more should have!) Unfortunately, she was one of the dance casualties of the demise of the local professional ballet company and preprofessional program. (I refer to those times as "the dark ages" of local ballet. Before the "renaissance" that came with the founding of Capital City Dance Center!o) Sunny's training suffered, her dedication died when the pre-pro program was handed over to an old-school Bolshoi style teacher who ran it into the ground and, eventually caused it to fold along with the company. Sunny One became a lost soul, lost her focus---and, yes, I shudder at the memory!--- She became a Dowling High School cheerleader! What a waste of a perfect talent! (Good dancers make gr8 cheerleaders. But, the reverse is rarely true.) After all these years, the thought of little lost Sunny always makes me blue. In my mind, she'll always be forever young, forever dancing. The world's been a little cloudier, a little foggier, a little less Sunny since she walked away from ballet. (Same4Sunny Too!) Merde4life, Sunny One! Thanx4daMemories! Stay "Kewl"!

07.16.2009: So U Think U Can Predict Who Gets Cut!

Wow! That Travis Wall choreographed piece on SYTYCD last night really pushed some boundaries! LOVED it! Saved it 2 watch again later! And, danced extremely well by Jasonine! He finally got to flex his dance chopz! And, the distaff half's my new second favorite girl since Caitlin was bumped last week. (What's not to like about Kayla? Extension, flexibility, tumbling, well-trained, NOT gnaw-leg-off ugly!o) What else did I like? That opening all-girlz, all-the-time number was big, bold and bollywood, by golly! Gr8 costumes and aerobic energetic non-stop pedal-to-the-medal dancing! (If u weren't in shape b4, u were in shape by the time rehearsals were over!o) Brandonz solo was fully committed as well! He's Numero Uno on my winnerz in the clubhouse list. Ada also impressive. But, whose on the short list to vacate the premises? Evan is representing for all us short guy dancerz, but, he wasn't extending his line to the maximum even though he managed not be overshadowed by the tall, lanky, lithe blonde one. I did like his retro, old-school, homage to kewl solo! Despite representing for us "loco-boy" dancerz, Kupono's lack of training makes him vulnerable to be let go. And, partner Randi, the spunky one, may be vulnerable by association with that weak Paso Doble. Jeanette manages to hide her lack of training with some spitfire sexy salsa moves. She did manage to "find the funk" in that Napitha hip popper number. I'm guessing Kupandi will be watching the video montage flashback tonight. Agree? Disagree? Either way it's MustC(dance)TV!o)

07.15.2009: MustC(Dance)TV

Portions of next week's results show have been pre-recorded:
SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE Celebrates 100 Episodes!

Thursday, July 23 at 9/8c

Katie Holmes performs on the milestone 100th episode of SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE! Tune in as Holmes sings and dances in an homage to Judy Garland on behalf of the Dizzy Feet Foundation. Also, don't miss surprise guests from past seasons as they perform some of your favorite dance numbers from the last 100 episodes on this very special DANCE celebration!

07.15.2009: Ballet Music

Here's a pitch we just got in the emailbox:
"...I am writing to inform you of my most recent children's ballet class CD Music for Movement and Imaginations for those who are looking for a wonderful, creative and imaginative CD for younger levels (3 yrs and up). Music for Movement and Imaginations is guaranteed to be an inspirational asset to any dance studio.
Music for Movement and Imaginations
Ballet Class & Creative Movement
(for children ages 3 and up)
This CD is 1 hour and 20 minutes in length, with 43 exercises.
$26.30 US (this includes postage and shipping)
The compositions on this CD were written to support a creative and inspiring dance class for children ages three and up. In addition to music for basic dance steps and short dances, this CD also includes exercises to help children develop their sense of musicality and their imagination. For additional inspiration, a few of the Dance-a-Story exercises have enhanced orchestrations. There are 43 exercises in total, and because there is such a variety of steps, dances, and Dance-a-Story, teachers will be able to use this CD for several weeks using different arrangements of the tracks to bring new elements and inspiration to each class.

As a reference tool, a list of steps that match the music style and tempo of each track are included in the insert booklet that accompanies this CD. As well, there are notes and 'story' suggestions from a dance teacher colleague who assisted in the creating of "Music for Movement and Imaginations." Please visit my website and listen to music samples from Music for Movement and Imaginations.

I also have three ballet class CDs available for Intermediate to pre-professional level classes (Ballet Studio Inspirations: Volume One, Volume Two, and Volume Three). There are also four instrumental CDs for choreographic work on my website. You can listen to music samples from all of these CDs on the Music - CD page of my website.

If you would like to read recent reviews of my last five CDs please click here."

07.14.2009: Mo' Messagez From 'da Edgez

She that giveth, receiveth:
"...Hey Everyone!

I just got the card that you guys sent me, it was so sweet! Thank you so much!

I miss you all terribly!


07.14.2009: Free Money!

Psst! Want ten bucks off any hundred buck order to Discount Dance Supply? Use this code "DMY911" without the "quotes". It's good until the end of the month (July 31, 2009)! And, here's another tip. If you don't want to spend the hundred buck minimum (What is that? Like one-and-a-half pairs of pointe shoes anymore?), just "bundle" your order with a friend and split the discount. You'll also save on the shipping! But, do the math if you could both qualify for the discount versus shipping costs! (I know you normally only have to count up to 8, but, here's a chance to put all that time you spend getting "A's" in math class to good use! Good dancers are smart dancerz!o)

07.14.2009: Aye! There's the Rub! It's the Balm!

L8est research on what works and what doesn't (They name namez):
(Courtesy Newswise) — Popular over-the-counter creams, heat gels and other rub-on or spray-on remedies for sports injuries and arthritis aches are unproven and a waste of money, said the author of a new systematic review.

“The point is, you go to any pharmacy in the U.S. and find tons of these things, but they don’t work,” said Andrew Moore, a biochemist . These preparations are thought to work by producing a counter-irritant effect. The warmth and redness they cause — and with some, the strong smell — distract users from, or offset, their musculoskeletal pain. Known as topical rubefacients, they can include a variety of active ingredients.

The review focused on preparations containing one or more salicylates. (Aspirin is a salicylate.) “Some add local anesthetics, capsaicin, adrenal extracts. By and large it’s a very mixed bunch,” Moore said.

Familiar brands like Aspercreme contain a salicylate, as do Ben Gay and Icy Hot balms, which also have menthol additives. (Ben Gay and Icy Hot patches contain menthol alone.) Some, but not all reviewed preparations offer “heat action.”

In acute pain studies, although 64 percent for patients in rubefacients group reported that their pain was reduced by half or more — compared with 34 percent for patients in the placebo group — this advantage was wiped out when researchers eliminated lower quality studies from the analysis.

The evidence for chronic conditions held up better, with pain relief success at two weeks of treatment reaching 45 percent for rubefacients group and 28 percent for placebo group.

One small study found that these preparations were no better than oral aspirin. In another small study of chronic pain, salicylates outperformed a preparation contained etofenamate, which is in the NSAID drug class that includes ibuprofen.

Data quality and quantity was a problem for the reviewers.

“We’re looking at a few hundred patients. It’s sobering,” Moore said. “The smaller, older studies tend to show an effect while the larger, better, recent trials show no effect at all.”

So what does help? Moore points to creams that the review did not cover: “Topical local anesthetics work. Topical capsaicin works, particularly for some people with neuropathic pain. Some topical NSAIDs work extremely well in strains and sprains.

Capsaicin is a hot-pepper derivative. It was not used as a main ingredient in review studies but was sometimes present as an additive.

“With NSAID creams, you get good local concentration in the joints, unlike oral NSAIDNSAIDS, where you only get a fraction of the medicine in the joints,” Moore said.

But there’s no sign that people will stop rubbing salicylates like Tiger Balm into a sore pitching shoulder or an arthritic knee.

Dr. Scott Zashin recalls, “I used to use Ben Gay all the time when I played soccer. I felt better with it at that time.” He said the warmth produced at the pain site might cause the muscles to relax.

He said topical rubefacients lead to “not much harm and even some safety advantages, for instance to people with problems taking oral meds.” In osteoarthritis, taking oral “ibuprofen is more effective but it has potential side effects: drug interactions with aspirin, and GI complications for some people.”

The review found few side effects from topical rubefacients when used correctly: applied in small amounts, only to the affected area. In the studies, people used the treatments at least once a day.

The UK and U.S. experts advise consumers to look at heat rubs and the like with a cold and wary eye. “You have to look at cost,” Zashin said. “A very expensive brand might not be more effective than a generic, but just have better marketing. It’s not a miracle product.” For his part, Moore calls on rubefacient makers to show more transparency: “If any of these products want to be taken seriously, they would make their chemical trials public and have them reviewed so that everyone could look at the evidence.

Would he recommend salicylate creams to consumers?

“I wouldn’t waste the money. You might as well rub your skin with a bit of spit.”

07.16.2009: Return (And Message!o) From The Prodigalz!

So, CCDC dancers are starting to begin to return2thefold from summer sojourns. Hope Charity back this past Thursday. And, the rumor is the Card Shark, Sandy Vee and Sykk Skyllz are back soon from the Big Apple! Welcome home all! And, here finally (Better L8 than never)...someone ELSE writes us back:
"...Hey Everyone! I hope all is going well at CCDC!

I'm having an amazing time here in Boston, this is really an incredible experience!

The faculty here is great, they each bring something really unique to their teaching and classroom work, I'm really enjoying being able to experience all the different styles. Boston Ballet does a lot of Balanchine work, so the teachers really incorporate that into the classroom. (Yay pirouettes from a straight back leg!) One of the really cool things that I enjoy is being able to take class next to Boston Ballet company members from time to time. We actually had one of the principal dancers teach us the Bluebird Variation, and Ms. Hedman, a soloist with Boston, is one of our regular teachers!

We've learned a couple of different variations already: Bluebird from Sleeping Beauty, a variation from Fredrick Ashton's Birthday Offering, and also a variation from Balanchine's The Source. I have loved all of them!

One of my favorite things that we get to do twice a week is having either a movie night or a "meet the artist" night. On "meet the artist" night we all get to listen to one of our faculty members tell us about how they got where they are, and advice they would give to us students. It is really cool to hear about the obstacles they have overcome, and of course the funny bloopers and mistakes on stage! Movie night is a lot of fun because we get to see incredible clips from Boston Ballet's past seasons. These aren't just your regular YouTube videos! I have loved being able to watch clips from: Sleeping Beauty, Jewels, Swan Lake, In the Middle Somewhat Elevated, Raymonda and La Bayadere!

For our in-studio demonstration at the end of the program, our "main" teacher Ms. Atkins is setting a piece on us. We are doing the waltz section from Balanchine's Raymonda. It is beautiful choreography, I love it!!

And of course, I have once again fallen in love with Pas de Deux class :) It is so much fun! My regular partner is actually originally from Iowa, he trained with Iowa Dance Theater, and then a couple years ago moved to New York and is now training with SAB. And YES he is extremely cute, and YES he is the same age as me!! Yay!

The other classes are great too! Modern is crazy WAY different from Alissa's style, but i'm in love with it! We actually have live music for both ballet and modern! There is this guy in the corner with bongos and all these crazy instruments for modern, it is so cool! Our character teacher is this crazy Russian lady, she is so cute! Character is so much fun I love it but it is super tough, character barre is so hard!! Pilates is amazing! It's not the same Alissa Stott Pilates that I'm used to...but our teacher was an Olympic Athlete!! How cool! And he has this sweet Irish accent that is really entertaining :) Next week I also start this class called Body Code It's this new thing where you sit on this machine that looks like a bicycle seat, and you do a lot of ab and conditioning exercises....should be fun :)

I'll write you guys again telling you more about my adventures in Boston!

I Love and Miss you all!


07.10.2009: Pad Your Resume

This just in from the downtown Social Club:
Crowd Extras needed for the "The Experiment" filming

DMSC is trying to help find volunteers to do a day of shooting for a protest scene in downtown. This is an unpaid shoot but we've been told that DMSC extras will be in the front of the scene and the production company will make a donation to assist our expenses and help us to keep cheap art coming your way! Plus, you get to be in a movie!

So, please, if available and interested email Daryl before Tuesday, 7/15 with your name and phone number. She, in turn, will give this information to the casting director who will call you next Wednesday 7/15 on where to meet in the metro.

Please spread this far and wide, what a great opportunity all around!!

07.09.2009: So U Think U Can Review A Reality Show!

Tonight's elimination on SYTYCD determines the top 10 for this season...and the featured ten dancers that get a confirmed spot on the national tour. (More info here) And, it's getting harder and harder to try to out-guess the voting public. I was all set to pick Kupono as the next guy to go. But, his dramatic, powerful portrayal in Mia Michaels' "addiction" piece was eye-opening. And, I also think some weaker contestants are being "protected" by their stronger partners: Branette comes to mind. (I wrote these notes for their tango: "world-class! Amazing! Channeling his inner gaucho!" And, the Wade Thompson "thieves in the temple" number was "Tite!") And, Philline is another uneven pairing. (Phillip will survive many "dance4urlife" solos. He's so innovative and creative at his own style. But, weak at everything else! But, his partner, Jeanine, is a firecracker!) And, is it just me? Or, is Evandi being carried by Randi's absolute commitment to the choreography? So, I'm not even sure who the bottom three couples will be tonight. Every partnership had at least one strong number. So, who's gonna go? I think Kupono, Phillip and Jason could dance tonight. On the female side: put Caitlin, Janette and Janine on the endangered species list. I know those aren't straight up couples, but, that's how tenuous and close the competition is at this point. And, I think reshuffling the couples next week will be illuminating. Strengths will be revealed and weaknesses uncovered. Other notes from last night: Melissa is such a performer! Her classical training, flexibility and performance experience makes her a formidable contestant. Randi just shines in every style she's given. Partner Evan needs to step up to match her expressiveness. He's being overshadowed. Caitlin and Kayla will end up eliminating one or the other. At some late pointe in the game, they'll be in the bottom two together after having bumped off most everyone else. Talk about "parsing sparse grades of grey"! Choreographer Joey Dowling has rapidly (only two pieces!) become a favorite. Hard to vote against her dancers or those of Wade Robson, Mia Michaels, Napitha and Mandi Moore. But, Shane Sparks and B Free don't always showcase their dancers enough to affect the voting in their favor. Also, looking forward to this fall! The return of DWTS, SYTYCD VI and Chicago Bears Football!

07.09.2009: Master Thespians!

More action for actors!
Actor Idol!

Tuesday at 6:30pm

Sideshow Lounge

We are proud to present Actor Idol to the local acting community. This is a wonderful opportunity to be critiqued in front of professionals in the industry and have fun at the same time!

1st and 3rd Tuesday of every month starting July 7th.

Actor Idol will give actors a chance to perform up to 10 minutes in front of local and celebrity judges. Actors can perform scenes or monologues. Scenes can be preformed alone or with a group. The judges will openly critique the performances in front of everyone that evening. Two weeks later, the actors will have the opportunity to showcase their improved work in front of a live audience who will then vote for their Actor Idol.

07.09.2009: Dancer Education

More incentive2take CCDC Pilates:
(courtesy Newswise) — The first instruction in a Pilates class? How to say it: puh-LAH-teez.

The Mayo Clinic Women’s HealthSource addresses this increasingly popular low-impact fitness technique. Pilates emphasizes mind-body connection and breath control to build strength, endurance and flexibility, particularly in the trunk muscles.

Many women opt for Pilates because it can provide a nicely toned look without adding bulk. Practiced regularly, Pilates can assist with weight loss and help alleviate low back pain.

Pilates isn’t new. In the early 20th century, Joseph Pilates, a German citizen, developed a system to help his fellow inmates at a World War I internment camp stay physically conditioned. He later opened a studio in New York where his teaching gained a following in the dance and performance arts communities.

Today, Pilates classes are widely available at health clubs, studios, community centers and senior centers. Pilates can be done on a floor mat or using specialized equipment, such as stability balls, resistance bands or most often, a Reformer. This piece of equipment consists of a sliding seat and a series of springs and pulleys that allow progressive exercises to strengthen all muscle groups.

A typical Pilates session includes a set of controlled stretches and movements, with participants concentrating on breathing, precision and flowing movements. Instead of emphasizing quantity, Pilates focuses on quality -- doing a few, extremely precise repetitions.

The best way to start is to enroll in a class taught by a qualified instructor. Success with Pilates depends on precision of movement and effort. Proper instruction is key to knowing how to exercise and achieve the benefits.

Sunscreen is our friend!
(Courtesy Newswise) — According to the American Cancer Society, most of the more than 1 million cases of non-melanoma skin cancer diagnosed yearly in the United States are considered to be sun-related. Melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, accounts for about 8,110 of the 10,850 deaths due to skin cancer each year. Medical experts believe that too much exposure to the sun in childhood or adolescence is a major cause of skin cancer and premature skin aging later in life.

Marty Visscher, Ph.D. explains that some people do not understand the dangers of prolonged sun exposure. “During the summer months, it is critical that people use sunscreen and sun-protective clothing to reduce their risk of sun damage,” Dr. Visscher said. She said the best sunscreen protection will have an SPF number of at least 15 or higher and it should be applied liberally to the skin at least once every hour for maximum protection. “People can never be too careful about putting on sunscreen,” said Dr. Visscher. There are many products which higher SPF levels. You will get a little more protection from an SPF 30 than from SPF 15, but not twice the protection.

According to the federal trade commission (FTC), some of the dangerous effects of sun exposure on the skin include sunburn, photosensitive reactions (rashes), and cell and tissue damage. However, Dr. Visscher explains that there are several precautionary methods that people can take to make sure they don’t harm their skin from too much sun exposure.

Dr. Visscher advises the following ways for people to protect themselves from the sun:

  • Use water-resistant sunscreens that help protect skin from both UVA and UVB rays and that have SPF numbers of at least 15. Dr. Visscher wants people to remember that that sunscreen will wash off in water and it should be reapplied frequently at a minimum of every hour and more often if a person is drying off and removing the sunscreen with the towel. Dr. Visscher also reminds people that the sun exposure is actually higher when they are around water, due to the reflection effects of the water.
  • Apply the sunscreen 20-30 minutes before going out into the sun.
  • The nose and lips get high exposure and often require use of sun blocks, containing zinc oxide or titanium oxide, so look for these ingredients on the label.
  • Parents speak with camp counselors to make sure they apply and reapply their sunscreen on their child (or at least supervise the child when he or she is applying the sunscreen.
  • Keep babies younger than six months out of the sun. Sunscreens may irritate baby skin, and an infant's developing eyes are especially vulnerable to sunlight.
  • Wear sun-protective clothing that lists the garment's Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) (the level of protection the garment provides from the sun's harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays).
  • Parents need to limit their child’s playtime during the hours when the sun is at its strongest peak, which is between 10 am and 3 pm, in the summer months. If a person is outside during these peak hours, he or she needs to remember to take breaks in the shade.

07.08.2009: Mmmadd Letterz+More!

Hmm...interesting observation from some parental units along4the ride as their budding ballerinaz take part in an unnamed summer intensive: they're not happy with the disorganization they've encountered. We're going to check with them when they get back, but, may have to adjust our recommendations for next year auditions and/or participation. But, better newz from Mmmadd Skyllz! Her letter has arrived and has been posted on the lobby bulletin board! Fascinating look from the inside of a national summer intensive. And, make no mistake! She's ecstatic with her experience! (And, apparently, still breaking hearts wherever she goes! Detailz in the letter! Hey, Playa, concentr8 on the dancin' and take it EZ on those poor, defenseless boyz! Hehe!o)

07.08.2009: The Role Of the Parental Units

Parents! This question seem familiar?:
"...My husband and I had no experience at all with the dance world before our daughter got involved in it. She is 14 now, and desires a career in dance. We hope to encourage (her) in a career that may present unique challenges to her. Yet we have seen the focus on unattainable perfection, self-preoccupation and competition. There is also the fine balance between artistic expression and appropriate performance. On the plus side, we have been so impressed by some of the fine people we have met who are dancers, and the benefits of discipline and exposure to art. Would you mind answering a few questions?"

Get the perspective from the Charlotte Examiner.

07.08.2009: H2UH-OH!

Tip from the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries:
"...As the weather heats up dancers lose more bodily fluid than expected during their normal schedule, up to 2 liters during a class or rehearsal. To stay hydrated, drinking enough water throughout the day is important. The National Athletic Trainer’s Association recommends that athletes consume 17-20 oz two to three hours before activity, 1/2-1 cup every twenty minutes during activity, and 24 oz per lb lost during the day within two hours after activity. Beverages containing high sugar content, caffeine, alcohol or carbonation are discouraged because they contribute to dehydration. Remind yourself and your dancers that without enough water they will become dehydrated, resulting in quicker fatigue, a primary cause of injury. Remember that if you are thirsty you are already dehydrated!"

07.08.2009: The Playz The Thing

Tallgrass Theatre Company’s Playwrights Workshop was created in 2006 for the purpose of developing and showcasing fresh new works by local writers. One script is chosen each year to participate in the workshop process. Playwrights encouraged to submit one-act or full-length plays to Tallgrass Theatre Company via electronic or hard copy:
Tallgrass Theatre Company
P.O. Box 302
Dallas Center, IA 50063
  • Deadline for Submissions
    September 1

  • Script to be Announced
    October 1

  • Performances to be Held
    January 15-30

More information available.

07.07.2009: Must CTV!

I mentioned it would be difficult to pick the bottom three couples in last week's SYTYCD competition. ("parsing sparse grades of grey" are my edited words:o) So, I only went 143 in predicting the bottom six, but, my prediction of the latest pair to be shown the door turned out to be right on target, 242. But, as mentioned earlier, I think it's going to get even harder and harder to pick out the bottom couples from now on. A lot depends on the choreographer's ability to showcase the best in their dancers. It's the luck of the draw as I mentioned b4, but, after seeing Phillip and Jeanine in their solos last week: hard to bet against them not making the top ten. That number's significant because the top ten will definitely get to go on the national tour. (And, that exact number fluctuates because they need some back-up dancers in their show, too.) So, everyone's hoping to make the top ten if they can't win the quarter-mill. And, for those of you who missed last week's pas de deux from Romeo Et Juliet, here ya go! Don't say I never link anything 4ya!

07.07.2009: Crew Needed

Check this out. Help wanted:
"Feature Film Seeks Art Department Crew

Underground Films seeking experienced art department crew for their upcoming feature film to shoot in Grinnell and Newton, Iowa in July and August, 2009. The shoot will last approximately four weeks.

The following positions are needed immediately:

  1. Prop master
  2. Prop assistant
  3. Set decorator
  4. Swing gang
  5. On-set dresser
  6. Set construction
  7. Art PA

Competitive wages will be paid to those with industry experience. Experience is preferred but training is available for hard working new comers and interns.

If interested, please email resume and cover letter to production designer Frank Bollinger..."

07.07.2009: Jump4Ca$h?

Jump at this opportunity?
"...The Harkness Center for Dance Injuries currently looking for dancers and athletes to participate in a scientific research study designed to investigate the effects of fatigue on jumping ability. We are looking for healthy male and female professional or collegiate dancers and athletes between the ages of 18-40. You will be asked to jump from a height of approximately 15 inches onto a flat surface while measurements of your motion, muscle activity, and force are taken.

Participants will receive $50!

Please email to discuss any questions you have about this project or to volunteer..."

07.07.2009: Advice4Actorz

...And, Harry Potter in tights? Can it be? All you actorz looking for an edge at auditions check this article out from the Contact Music Website.

07.06.2009: Messages From The Edgez!

Proof that they may be gone, but, we're not forgotten! at least one CCDC student!: (Where, oh, where are the rest of u!o()
"...hey guys!
Happy 4th from joffrey:)
it is absolutely amazing here, and yes I did send you guys a letter(hey and good old letters are the best though they are slow)
alright well my letter says all the details so I'll talk to you later!
Love you guys,
(Mmmadd Skyllz!) <3
p.s.- here is the address:
The Whiting/Joffrey Midwest Dance
1241 E. Kearsley st.
Flint, MI 48503..."

07.06.2009: Audition Action

In case u didn't get in that movie we posted about earlier:
"...Auditions for All Shook Up will be held at The Playhouse at 6:00 P.M. on Sunday, July 19. All auditions are open to the public; no one is pre-cast. Those auditioning must bring a prepared solo; an accompanist will be provided.

All Shook Up contains feature roles for one man age 14-22, two men ages 20-35, two men ages 45-64, one woman age 14-22, two women ages 18-33, two women ages 40-55, plus an ensemble of men and women ages 16 and up. Performances are Sept. 11-Oct. 4, 2009. All Shook Up is directed by Ron Ziegler, with music direction by Brenton Brown.

A jukebox musical along the lines of Mamma Mia!, All Shook Up uses 26 of Elvis Presley's biggest hits to tell the story of a small town girl with big dreams and the motorcycle-riding rebel she falls for..."

07.02.2009: Not Cutting "Cheese"!

Okay, I'm not apologizing for "spending too much time watching those cheesy reality dance competitions! :)..." 'Cuz, if it's a-dancin', I'm a-watchin'!o) Especially SYTYCD! Last night's performances were almost universally strong. (And, the better the dancin', the more I'm watchin'!o) Makes it really hard to forecast a bottom three...but, that's never stopped me before! So, what pairs are safe? Branette, Kaypono, Evandi, Philine and Adalissa, maybe. Who's not safe? Well, it starts with Kartolio, but, then, you have to start parsing shades of grey to try to outguess the voting, but, largely non-dancing public. I really liked B Freez "pushing the boundaries" ideas and choreography, (Who choreographs "an alien spawning with the last remaining human on earth"?) but, I'm not sure it's going to resonate with the "vast waist land". So, Jaslin better be ready to dance in the bottom three for the third weak in a row. (These 2 are suffering from the bad "luck of the draw" except for their ability to spin straw into gold with that Bollywood number.) Which, BTW, how did the only ballerina in the bunch last night just "happen" to get a classical pas de deux? Notice they didn't show the drawing this time. I'll betcha Melissa was just "assigned" that genre because as they say "you can't fake ballet". I would've done the same thing! She was glorious as Juliet. She just glows! He was adequate. But, I'm just not sure there are enough balletomanes to keep them out of trouble, tho'! Here are some other notes I jotted down last night: Jeanette's street salsa training came in handy in a cha cha muy caliente'. Just needs to hold her center stronger in multiple turning sequences. Brandon just manages to master every dance form thrown at him! Don't be surprised to see him win the quarter-mill! (Nice2hear Mia Michaels changing her assessment of him as well. She says she's just hardest on those with the most potential. Good lesson4all dancers: If u got it, better use it, buddy! Go big or go home!o) Wonder if Kupono was trained by a fella I used to dance with in Hawai'i? Name of Marcello Paclab? (Third Wave Dance Theater had a couple of alum that went on to bigger and better thingz! Don't judge that company by my paucity of success!o) Loved the Joey Dowling choreography for Evandi! Technique, attitude and humor required! As mentioned B Freez choreography is always risky and "outta da box". Not sure the voters embrace it as much as I did. His "pop goddess and usurper" vision for Mayla was the reason Max was ejected. Love Napithaz hip-hop choreography for Philline. Putting a whole new spin on the "pop and lock" genre with that "ball and chain"! The husband-and-wife team is taking authentic hip-pop off the street and putting it onto the stage without losing the authentic, required rawness. And, LOVED that kwik-change Quick Step costume trick that Jean Marc adopted for Cartolio! Putting that in the memory bank for possible "sampling" later! So, who's going to be hitting the streetz after tonight's elimination show? Well, I think Vitolio's lack of training makes him vulnerable. Depends on Jason's success and dancing4his life! And, Karla is good, but, I think the judges will let her go before Caitlin or Melissa. But, I've been wrong b4! Agree? Disagree? If its good dancin', I'll be watching!o)

07.02.2009: Audition Action Alert

Beats hanging out at Schwab's:
Casting Call! Want to be in a Movie?
Sunday at 1- 3 pm

ACME Casting Company is hosting an open call for featured performers and actors.

Acme is currently casting for four feature films to be shot in the Capital City area this summer. — two are feature horror films for After Dark Films. Also currently casting featured background actors for the movie The Experiment starring Forest Whitaker.

Everyone is encouraged to come to the open call. The process includes a quick picture and basic form to complete. Feel free to drop off your headshots and resumes when you meet us. Even if you have an agent, please come so that the casting company can meet you in person and say hello.

Ages 16 and up preferred but not required. Please bring an I.D with you as you will need it to work if cast in a part. People of all types feel should free to come to the open call. We are especially looking for:

  1. Asian performers
  2. Latinos
  3. Dwarves
  4. Twins and triplets
  5. ”Unique” individuals
  6. “Pirates”
  7. People with scars
  8. ”Hipsters”

Extras must show up at the open call to be considered.

Stand-ins are encouraged to show up at the open call.

If you have stand-in experience (only) please submit a picture or show up to the open call. Looking for to following stand-ins:

  1. African American Males who are 6'2 and bulky. Must be available to work the entire shoot.
  2. Caucasian Males who are 6'0, thin, and have a prominent nose, dark hair, and a medium complexion. Must be available to work the entire shoot.

Stand-ins should, if not available for the open call, submit a picture and resume. Please visit here for more info. You can also check the online call sheet for frequent updates.

07.01.2009: This Just In...

Kudos to CCDC Guest Modern Faculty Instructor Kathleen Hurley. Just got this press release on state cultural grant awards:
"...Recipient: Tandem Theatre and Dance/Hurley & Dancers
Grant Amount: $7,400

Description: ICCG funding will allow Tandem Theatre and Dance to hire visual artist Kun Nong to create dance movement frescoes to illustrate action in the book A Tuna Can of Holy Water, culminating in two results: photos of dancers to accompany the book’s text for online publishing and a live dance performance with projected photos as set design..."

07.01.2009:Kwik, Snarky Response!

Ask and ye shall receive...snarky e-mailz!o:
"...Sarah Lamb? She's a principal dancer with the Royal Ballet in London. Maybe you're spending too much time watching those cheesy reality dance competitions! :)..."
...Did u actually know that b4 or did 2K2M tell u? Just askin'... Here's another:
"...links about Sarah Lamb - she has a Wikipedia. Also danced with Royal Ballet among others...must have been a thrill indeed!"
...WOW! Am I apparently enormously ignoramus-like about dance? Says Lamb is a native of the city 2K2Mz in this summer! Thrilla, indeed!o)

07.01.2009: Catsup On Wazzup Wit Upd8z!

Updates from afar: Mmmadd Skyllz texts that she's written an actual snail-mail letter. (We should be receiving that about the time she gets back!o) And, she also mentions she's rehearsing Stars And Stripes. (I'm wondering if that's the actual authentic authorized Balanchine version or someone else's choreography? I remember dancing in something called Stars And Bars for an Independence Day celebration back home with Honolulu Ballet Theater. And, I guested with the old Des Moines Ballet Junior Company/Ballet Iowa Too! partnering a 14-year old in the central pas de deux and nearly toasting my tootsies on some scorching, scalding black marley at a very, very hot polo fundraiser on the southside! Almost got blisters on my feet through my tights and ballet slippers! Good thing it wasn't a "barefoot ballet"!o) And, 2K2M writes all excited that she took barre standing next to someone we never heard of. (Sarah Lamb? Maybe a dancer with the company of the school she's attending?) Also, a chance to expand on the Tweets I've been posting: "U can run but u can't hide! Come2CCDC class prepared 2 work. Come2CCDC class prepared 2bcome a better dancer!o)" So, many CCDC dancers are away at Summer Intensives and being "kidnapped" by their families and "abused" by being "forced" to have fun at summer vacations that it allows CCDC teachers to concentrate on giving a lotta personal attention to remaining students. So, remember2make time2dance@CCDC this summer! (Especially, u Level IV's! The ones who keep dancing will saut de chat past the couch potatoz this summer!o) Also, thanks2Von Rothbarta4 some uh-MAZIN' framed fotoz of the Sleepy Blak Swan Queen! Appearing soon in a lobby or office wall near u?

06.30.2009: So U Think U Can Choreograph!

Okay, not meaning to toot my own horn or anything (HA! Beep, beep! Toot, toot!o), but, I went 343 picking last week's bottom six on SYTYCD. And 142 in picking the eliminated pair. And, Asuka, Asuka! We barely knew ye! Gone so soon? And, I'm sure that some young girlz heartz were broken with Jonathan's farewell. Just goes to show how important being able to choreograph as well as dance in the SYTYCD competition! Two consecutive ballroom dancers were eliminated the last two weeks. They usually look a little lost without partners in their solos. (Even tho' I think Max did a good job last week.) Asuka's strength was her ability to relate to and play off her partner. No partner? Big problems! Oh, well! That's the luck of the draw. Here's a conversation with the "choreographers' choreographer", Mia Michaels:

...Hard work! Got that? Good! That video courtesy of the Fox TV Website.

06.29.2009: Postcards From The Edge

Getting a little trickle of feedback from the "great dancer diaspora of 2009": ...And, apparently "lotta HOT guys" at at least one summer intensive!o) That's second-hand scuttlebutt because internet access apparently limited where that student is attending. (Name withheld to protect the flirtatious! But, NOT The Shiny One!o) Another student texts us (Not from Texas!o) that HER eyes were opened to the high level of competition she'll be up against at her intensive after 70-good-to-excellent dancers showed up in her placement class! Hang in there, CCDC dancers, remember, you're opening some eyes, too! And, have some fun already! For example, here's a text from Katya W00tang:
"...In our rep piece i was picked for a pas part, and there are 5 couples. It is a contemporary piece but i really like it...."
...Cross your fingers, dance-fanatix! Remember, there's space on the CCDC Wall of Fame 4U! Those are the pix of CCDC Graduates who've gone on to dance with professional companies. Waaaay past time 4 some more!o) Merde 4 summer!

06.25.2009: Tweet, Tweet! My Dancing Feat!o)

Okay, okay. Kind of an underwhelming response to my BIG public unveiling of my Twitter I-D!o) Either no one's Tweeting or no one's interested in THE BIG DRAWING4LOCAL SIGN-UPZ! (Except 4 1 student who signed up TWICE!o) So, I'm going 2 sweeten the pot: not just a drawing for a private ballet, pas de deux or Disco Hustle session. Now, I'm throwing in the option of a half-hour shiatsu acu-pressure treatment! From moi! First ten new local followers entered into the lottery! Sign up below:
    Follow me on Twitter

    06.25.2009: So U Think U Can Guess The Bottom 3!o)

    One of the good things about teaching just break classes instead of our regular summer schedule this week and last: I get to watch SYTYCD on the same night that it airs. So, here's my prediction for bottom three couples in tonight's elimination show (Apparently, I'm a slow learner. I only got one outta three in last week's predix. And, no matter what singer Meatloaf says that's not good except if you're a major league batter!o): Karla/Jonathan, Asuka/Vitolio+Caitlin/Jason are my bottom three. And, the guest judge encapsulated what I was thinking@the time: the contestants must be praying to get a choreographer like Mia Michaels to ensure they stay out of the bottom trio of couples. (She called her "a choreographer's choreographer". High praise from a noted teacher and choreographer herself.) As one fellow fan pointed out last week, both of Shane Sparks' efforts ended up dancing4their lives! That could be a function of non-hip poppers attempting to dance street style. The same coulda happened this week, but , choreographer Dave Scott "lucked out" and got a dancer, Brandon, who can hit it HARD and managed to transcend his own genre and master another. (And, Brandon is starting to grow on me. Still, despite the judges' claims that this is the "best bunch of dancers we've ever had", no one impresses me like Danny or some of the other men from earlier seasons.) So, if my bottom three are forced to dance4their lives, who do I think will go? That's a tough one, but, gun2my head, I'd say Karla and Jonathan need2have the dance of their lives to survive. Other "idol" notes from last night: Asuka should never frizz her hair. And, she doesn't need to try to act sexy. Just dance, baby, dance! And, whoever designed Caitlin's costume must be a big fan of I Dream of Jeannie! She and Jason needed "a little more attack" and "a little more weight" in their "dance of hate", the paso doble. Kayla/Kupono's "Vietnamese" Waltz was a "dream", but, that flowing costume and wind machine didn't hurt either. Much as I resist it, Melissa is also growing on me. Her "dirty ballerina" act was a little-off-putting, but, her intense classical training gives her a versatile leg up in a lot of styles. And, a little of Judge Mary Murphy's "screeching" goes a long way. So, let's see what happens 2nite...on So You Think U Can Dance...Dance...Dance!

    06.24.2009: View From A Bove

    More ballet bootleg video from the 2009 Capital City Dance Center production of Don Quixote:

    06.24.2009: More eFeedback

    The ma-ccolades keep comin'!
    "...The recital ballet was lovely; a beautiful way to showcase the students learning, and a wonderful thing to watch!"

    06.24.2009: I Wanna Live 4eva!

    Remake of a seminal dance film coming soon to a theater near you. And, here's your chance to try to stake a claim to your fame:
    "...Think you have what it takes to be a star? Here's your shot! The FAME National Talent Search at Six Flags is looking for the nation's most talented performers ranging from singers, dancers, actors, you name it.

    The Fame National Talent Search at Six Flags kicks off at Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio on Saturday, July 18. The multi-city, six-week search continues at Six Flags St. Louis, Six Flags Over Texas, Six Flags Great Adventure, Six Flags Over Georgia and Six Flags Great America. (Approximately up to 400 will audition). One Finalist or Final Group from each of the 6 participating parks will be selected to compete in front of a panel of celebrity judges in the Finals on Saturday, September 5 at Six Flags Magic Mountain in California. One winner or winning group will walk away with a life-changing Grand Prize*...

    FAME — in theaters beginning September 25.

    To learn more about FAME, please click here here..."

    ...Or, to find out more about the audition process, click here.

    06.23.3009: The Three Amigos

    GitUrFaShawn keeping us left@home in the loop:
    "...Hey! Blog, as promised..."
    ...The MilwaukeeBalletBoy also texted that he and the other two CCDC students at the MB Summer Intensive all got into Level 5, the highest level. And, they were all cast in the same two pieces. I assume it's for the end-of-the-intensive performance. Road trip NE1???

    06.22.2009: CYa!o(

    More bitter-sweet feelings as departing seniors cleared out their dressing room lockers at CCDC the end of 2009 Capital City Dance Center Summer Intensive Friday. Merde to all as they embark on whatever comes next in their dancing careers and their lives! Don't forget to come back and visit us sometime!o( And, the temporary departures continue as well. Got a text from one CCDC dancer off2Joffrey Midwest this weekend. She says she's doing good and anxious to start working her way up the food-chain. And, that's a good point: No matter where you get placed, make it a goal to get noticed and move up. Or be the hardest working in whatever level you end up in. Sometimes it's good to be the best in a room; sometimes it's good to be the li'l poisson petit in la mer grande. There's always something to be learned from every class, every teacher. But, just a reminder, don't forget the corrections your CCDC teachers were working on with you back home. Assimilate. Don't just replace your basic fundamentals with new corrections from new teachers!o) And, here's another e-mail from a CCDC student who's traveling abroad:
    "...Hi from france!

    yes i am having an amazing time! i really wish i could go to both france and intensive though. :(

    i took out my thera bands today and promise to start using them regularly. the only things i know how to say in french (other than ballet terms of course) is "i dont understand" "do you speak english" and "i have a headache", so i dont think i should try to speak to any one for a while! i promise to try to write frequently! i will email "theBOYburger" and give him updates so you can ask him for anything that i dont cover in my emails to you.

    Luv EVERYONE at the studio lots!

    "hope'n'love" :P..."

    ...and GitUrFaShawn and Sleepy Cutie promising to blog from their Summer Intensive. Watch for that!

    06.19.2009: Parting Is Such Sweat Sore, Oh!o)

    The annual diaspora of dancers already getting underway. Here's a note from the oldest Jungerpatty who's flown "across the pond":
    sorry it took me so long to get back to you :(

    france is so much fun and it is so beautiful!!! im having a great time with my dad but miss everyone at the studio:(

    i put some pix on facebook so you can force someone to show you them on there fb if you dont have one. hehe

    i went to mont saint michel. google it it is AMAZING!!! (there are some pix of it on fb) and the eiffel tower and arc de triumph and notre dame and tons of other places as well!!! i will e-mail more later Bye! :)


    ...and that was quickly followed by:
    "...p.s. tell everyone i miss them for me!!!"
    ...and, bitter-sweet day as, by the time you read this, MMMadd Skyllz will be well on her way on a roadtrip to Joffrey Midwest. I told her to have a GREAT time, but, not so great she forgets all of us (sniff!) @home!o(Have fun MMMadd, but, be sure to come back home...even if Robert Joffrey, resurrects himself, and personally offers you a contract to the company!o) ...and brace yourself, dance fans! More and more dancers will force us to suffer that "sweet sorrow" soon!o( BTW, Stay In Shape Ballet IV-V-VI classes start tomorrow: Sat+Sun@1-2:45pm, M-thru-Th@6-7:45pm, Fri off. $5@class for all summer registered CCDC students. $12.50 for others. Scholarship, tuition waiver and work-scholarship students as usual. Don't have the cash? If you have the "sweat equity", come talk to us!o)

    06.18.2009: So U Think U Can Watch TV!

    The top 18 danced in SYTYCD last night. And, I'm slowly starting to learn the names and faces and dance personalities of the competitors (which is why I mis-identified Tony with Troy in my last review! But, "burning the topless towers of Tony" just doesn't have the same wring!o) These are some of my favorite females: Asuka, Caitlin and Kayla. And, here are some of my guys to watch: Philip, Brandon and Kupono. But, Philip and Caitlin are also on my list of three couples most likely to end up dancing for their lives tonight. (I'm not worried about Philip, his popping and locking is Kuh-lean with a capital Kay!o) Those bottom 6 are: Randi+Evan, Philip+Janine and Jason+Caitlin. Asuka and Vitolio really stood out in the Van Amstel waltz. My notes read: "story driven" and "fabulous". I also liked the characters and story and technique in the return of B Free and Max and Kayla's pop-jazz tale of a "dance, dance revolution"! And, as an old disco dancer myself, Doriana Sanchez' piece for Brandon and Janette was sizzlin' with impressive lifts! I thought Shane Sparks turned in two uneven efforts. His shadow-dancing for Ashleigh and Kupono was intriguing and the dancers hit it HARD! But, that sharpness was missing in his piece for Jason and Caitlin. I disagreed with the positive comments of the judges there. Wasn't too impressed with the other Van Amstelpiece...nor the Sonia or new Canadian choreographer Stacey Tooky. Bottom line is enhancing the dance with character development, the trace of a backstory and emotional involvement. George Balanchine was famous for his "plotless" ballets. But, his dancers admit they "invented" their own stories to inform their movements and his choreography. I think that Balanchine was just reacting to the formalized, formulaic over-emoting that Soviet Ballet had devolved to in his era. You have to bring the heart to feel the art. Technique without soul and emotion is just movement for movement's sake. Let's see if the voting public agrees with me tonight.

    06.17.2009: Tweet! Tweet! My Dancing Feat!o)

    Here's an interesting recent tweet (interesting to fans of DWT***):
    "...DWTS_Fan: Katie Holmes to appear on 'So You Think You Can Dance'..."
    ...and, add designer Vera Wang to that speculation list. BTW, if you want to subscribe to my dance and non-dance tweets, @SirDanGuy is the Twitter alias! EZ to remember as a play on the anagram "Dancer Guy"! First ten new local subscribers to be entered into drawing for one-hour private lesson! (Ur choice! Ballet, pas de deux or disco! And, no truth to the rumor: second prize is TWO privates!o)

    06.17.2009: A View From A Bove

    Mo' bootleg ballet video:

    06.16.2009: Shake (x10) Ur Booty! (x3)

    Here's a program highly reminiscent of the recently completed 2009 CCDC Summer Intensive Disco Hustle Classes:
    The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Education has launched a new summer program designed to teach ballroom dancing to inner city teens in the Birmingham area. The program is called “Dance 4 Health.” As part of the program, more than 50 teens selected from the Boys & Girls Club are receiving ballroom dance instruction this summer three times a week for six weeks.

    The goal of “Dance 4 Health” is to raise awareness among inner city teens about the importance of exercise and healthy diets, said “Dance 4 Health” principle investigator UAB Assistant Professor Tamilane E. Blaudeau, Ph.D., from the UAB School of Education’s Department of Human Studies.

    The dance instructors include Sterling Burroughs from Champion Latin & Ballroom and Blaudeau who, in addition to being a researcher, is a top pro-amateur ballroom dancer.

    UAB “Dance 4 Health” also will provide teens with health assessments and classes on how to make healthier food choices.

    ...and, locally, congrats to all the winners of the CCDC Best Disco Costume, Judge's Choice Awards and Overall Grand Champion Couple(American and Latin) Hustle and spread the word! And, the word is "Let's go, DISCO!"

    06.16.2009: More Feedback

    As usual, I'm late to the party posting reaction to the 2009 CCDC Spring Showcase:
    "...We just loved recital. I gave out a lot of tickets and they all loved it and asked if they could certainly be on the short list every time. (With the reception that I received from them, you may need another performance night or bigger venue in the not so near future--especially with my hidden PR abilities :) ) One of my family members from Spain was excited all week to see the show--she had read Don Quixote as a student and loves ballet....she was not disappointed and cannot wait until the next ballet.

    Thank you for all you put into these students. As a parent, I am so grateful to have someone I can trust teach them exactly what they need to know to have success..."

    ...And, here's a first year-student's parent's note to his teacher...
    "...Thanks again for all you have done for (my son)! You have sparked a fire in him and he has not stopped dancing all week! He made so much growth this year, in confidence, ability and attitude. Thank you!"
    ...And here's a brief note reacting to the first week of the 2009 CCDC Summer Intensive:
    "...(My daughter) is having a wonderful time at the intensive…..she is coming home exhausted, but loving it!"
    ...Got any comments? Get the last word here.

    06.16.2009: View From A Bove

    More bootleg ballet video from the 2009 Capital City Dance Center Spring Showcase:

    06.15.2009: Farewell Wave

    Who is that masked man riding off slowly off into the sunset? (Actually, north by northeast) Why it's the featured 2009 Capital City Dance Center Summer Intensive Guest Instructor for the first week:
    "...My week at the Capital City Dance Center was one of the most enjoyable and productive times of teaching I have had in a long time. It was a pleasure and a privilege to work with such a wonderful and talented group of young dancers. Your dedication and respect of the art form we love and study is a tribute to your teachers. Thank you for giving me your best and listening and applying yourselves in all my classes.

    I found each dancer to have their own special ability and was so pleased to see so many of you improve over the course of the week.

    I had a great time choreographing my version of the Sylvia variation on Levels 5 & 6 and had such fun working with all the talented young dancers in Level 4 /5. I wish you all a wonderful summer of dancing and growth, and hope to see you all performing sometime.

    With great affection and thanks,

    Robert Gardner
    Artistic Director , Minnesota Ballet

    06.15.2009: View From A Bove

    Slowly adding bootleg video from Capital City Dance Center's Don Quixote. Check back often 4 more!

    06.14.2009: Reviews 'r' Still Us!

    Here's a late entry in the e-mailed review contributions to CCDC's Don Quixote: (Actually, I'm the one who's late posting it!o)
    "...Congratulations once again for a wonderful and inspiring recital. Don Quixote was exciting and colorful, the costumes were beautiful, and choreography and dancing were at an even higher level than past years.

    Emily started the program with an exciting flourish and danced with abandon as the Gypsy Queen. Catherine was rock-solid as Kitri and also displayed a fun flirty personality. Maggie was a playful tease as Cupid. Sarah was all gorgeous lines and extension and has a luminous and eye-catching stage presence. Sean has matured in technique and will fit right into a professional company. Don Q was pleased to hear that some audience members thought s/he was a man wearing a mask!

    Your younger dancers are stepping up to the challenge and are ready to fill in for the graduating seniors....all the other variations (Natalie, KK, Katie, and others) looked polished and poised. Young Adrian has made remarkable gains in technique and already has a nice bravura presentation and smile on stage.

    The corps was precise and showed more personality even when standing as background--they seemed engaged with the story on stage.

    There were so many other wonderful things in the second half of the program, it's hard to list them all. Alyssa's choreography and music for modern C was outstanding--exciting and truly professional. Jazz C also was a nice change in music and fun/funky choreography. The tap numbers are always fun to watch.

    Jill's Allelulia ballet with the dads was very touching. It was also nice to see that your program provides dance and movement opportunities for special needs children.

    Keep up the great work!

    (anonymous , but u-no-who)..."

    06.13.2009: Summer Intensive Update

    "Be clean. Be musical. Be bold! But, don't show me ego!" That's the answer that Minnesota Ballet Artistic Director Robert Gardner gave me when I asked what advice he would give to dancers we send to audition for his company. He just wrapped up the first week teaching and choreographing at the 2009 Capital City Dance Center Summer Intensive. (We sent him off with a CCDC Don Quixote t-shirt and a bottle of cold water! He promised to write an e-mail soon encapsulating his advice to the CCDC dancers, so watch for that!o) Mr. Gardner also said something that many other directors have said: "I'd much rather see a clean double pirouette than a sloppy five." (And, he was running excitedly around the studio earlier this week when he watched Katya pull off a clean quintuple pirouette with a "nice, high passe'!o) He said he wants to see dancers who are "willing to try everything" in an audition. He says that shyness or reticence is just "another form of ego". So, be bold and assertive at an audition, but, not to the point of aggressiveness or "ego". Keep in mind that when you audition for a company, the director is looking for dancers he wouldn't mind working with everyday and touring with for long periods of time. Any signs of abrasiveness will wear thin pretty quickly.
    I also asked him what advice he has for dancers just beginning their professional careers in their first year with a ballet company. He said the ones who succeed are the ones who are mature enough to realize they have to keep working to maintain their technique. It's a big transition for most from a school to a company. He said he gets a good idea if his new dancers are going to make it or not by how they understudy roles. He says he'll throw the understudies in without warning in different places to see how well they do. He says the ones who fit in to different pieces without missing a step are the ones who have the professionalism to succeed in their career as a dancer. Fortunately, CCDC students get a chance to understudy roles often every spring. But, now you know how important that extra experience could be. Not to mention the invaluable corps de ballet experience! Finally, Robert Gardner said, "You're doing something right here (at CCDC). Your kids are getting well-trained and are a joy to work with". I said I was going to quote him in this blog and he said, please do. He said he'd like to come back to teach and he was also intrigued at the quality of the CCDC costumes and tutu. It's possible the costume a student (you!) danced in this spring could end up on a professional dancer this fall. Keep track of Mr. Gardner's company here.

    06.13.2009: Must danCe TV!

    Well, I guess we won't always have Paris in the Springtime...or in the summer season of SYTYCD anymore. And, burn the "topless towers of Ilium", Troy has fallen! The face that launched a thousand quips joins contemporary dancer Paris as the first couple ousted in the first 2009 season. (Another fall season immediately follows!o) Can't say it was unexpected. Hip Hopper Troy's technique and training was lacking. He seemed to be the last one of the boyz admitted...and the first one shown the door. And, can't say much about Paris. She wasn't memorable and that's often a fatal flaw in this dance competition. As for the others forced to dance for their lives, chance plays a big role in the roll of the dice. Meaning, if you get a good choreographer (And, by that I mean someone who can bring the best out of the dancers while engaging the audience with story, character and movement), your chances of survival are greatly enhanced. For example, one of the most memorable pieces this past week was the Wade Robson homage to, of all things, crash test dummies! While on the other hand (other foot?), Tyce Dorio's homage to the silent films only succeeded at something that I thought was impossible: making latin ballroom dancer Asuka look frumpy instead of her usual sleek and sexy self. I applaud the effort to force the dancers out of their comfort zone, but, the execution on the choreographers part was less than successful. But, the Mandy Moore piece was a swirling, gliding, glorious piece that soared on many levels. And, it succeeded at something that I also thought was impossible: making that "naughty ballerina" someone more than tolerable to watch. (Is anyone else not tired of that "naughty dancer" act? She's old enough to ditch the coquettish ingenue posing already!) And, everytime I know a Mia or Sonia piece is coming up, I sit up and take notice. But, I'm not sure that new-2-this-show choreographer Louis Van Amstel has figured out the winning formula for SYTYCD yet. As for the individual dancers, Vitolio has a compelling back story. And, is it Caitlin that seems to have all the physical tools and dance and gymnastic training that make her a choreographer's dream instrument? Kupono seems poised to follow in his fellow "flyin' Hawaiian" Mark's quirky footsteps from last season. But, alas, there is no favorite for me like Katy so far...but, it is early. Looking forward to learning the names and the personalities and watching the dancing and the choreography every week...on So You Think You Can Dance...Dance...Dance!

    06.08.2009: This Just In...

    We interrupt your regularly scheduled blogcast with this breaking news: Does CCDC have another graduating senior to return with a professional contract, the first since the original Sleeping Beauty got a contract with Northern Ballet Theater of New England? Stay tuned! Film at eleven! We now return you to your regularly scheduled blogcast...

    06.08.2009: The Reviews R In!

    Here's a favorable review from the blog of former CCDC student, Dimitry Komm:
    "...No reason to travel to New York or even to Chicago when a local dance studio can put an astounding, well choreographed and well rehearsed sensation of Don Quixote here in our hometown. As Simon Cowell in Britain's Got Talent show commented after Susan Boyles' first audition, “I knew the minute you walked out on that the stage we were going to hear something extraordinary and I was right.” To rephrase the quote I knew I was going to see something extraordinary and I am not being cynical. I simply knew from my previous experiences with the Capital City Dance Center that I would enjoy every single minute of it, and I sure did.

    I attended other performances from other local dance schools and I witnessed their growth in size, however, what I was looking for was the growth in technique and the chemistry among the dancers. I was disappointed in the other studios to say the least. The most important quality to establish from the beginning is the foundation and the foundation has been established long before the final result we’ve seen on stage on Friday and Saturday. After the foundation, there is a road of hard work and it is truly a road of hard work for those who have tried to stand next to a barre and do a plie in the first or any other positions with the proper technique.

    Not to get to all the details and not to point fingers at any particular dancer, the phenomenon speaks loudly for itself. Brevity is the sister of talent as Anton Chekhov wrote, and I will be very concise as well. The unison and the chemistry, the costumes and the lighting, the music and the execution, the smiles and the personalities all shone with brilliance and well established foundation that opened many opportunities for young dancers ahead.

    In Russia or Ukraine and perhaps in America and other countries as well, to put a performance of similar repertoire and well rehearsed technique and the chemistry among the dancers requires months of hard work. Not only hard work but also many brilliant minds should be present to present such performance. However, knowing that only two people managed to establish a world class sensation, Missy and Emery, they both deserve to be recognized for their truly inspiring professionalism. Honestly, I would pay to go see a performance of such caliber. I did not leave the house disappointed and I am already looking forward to next year’s performance..."

    06.07.2009: Quixotic Quotes

    "I saw my daughter become a dancer tonight."
    That's what one proud momma told me backstage after the 2009 Capital City Dance Center Spring Showcase, sometimes referred to as "the recital". There's a real visible transition that occurs whenever a child advances from just "cuteness" on stage to actually performing with some technique. Not that the "cuteness" isn't there, it's just graduated into becoming a dancer's "budding beauty". You can only rely on being "little and cute" for so long. (Even though I've been trying to do it unsuccesfully my whole life!o) After awhile, you gotta start really dancing, showing some real technique, some stage presence, some performance quality. And, that's what many of the younger CCDC students managed to display on stage for the first time this past weekend. Many proud parents saw not just "their kid" out there anymore, but, a real dancer. If it hasn't happened yet, stay tuned! And, what a great opportunity to see the progression possible here at CCDC. Every "stage" at every age of the ballet program shares "the same stage" in the same ballet. From the tiniest tots to the graduating seniors and adult students. You can see the students advance at different ages from that just "cuteness" to the older, more advanced polished and professional aplomb. (And, weren't those costumes designed by Missy great!) And, another long-time CCDC parent told me: "The level of the whole school just keeps getting better and better!" That's what I like to hear! Go BIG or go home! Hang on for the ride, dancers! We've just barely scratched the surface!
    "It brought a lump to my throat."
    "I almost started bawling myself!"
    Some of the sentiment expressed to me from some of the dads in the audience after they watched the performance to the song, Cinderella. That's the number where a father sings about his daughter growing up before his eyes. Graduating from fairy tales and make-believe Princes to high school proms and, then, to her wedding day. It's a universal story and struck a chord with every father (and mother) watching in the audience. Big kudos to the real fathers who joined their daughters on stage this past weekend. That's the last thing they thought they'd be doing when they signed their kids up for dance class! That's the last thing they WANTED to be doing, but, out of great love for their daughters, they reluctantly agreed to what (I'm sure) they thought would be making great fools out of themselves! But, you know what, guys? If we didn't see dance technique, we saw the love! And, that was more than enough! Congrats to the dads, the daughters...and to CCDC Young Children's Division Director Jill Andrews and graduating senior, Lindy VanderEmmen, for their very effective choreography. (Just wait, dads, until your daughters start dragging you to CCDC partnering or pas de deux classes! Great bonding opportunity! Remember, you take your other kids to sports, but, how often do you get to dance with your daughters? Don't let her wedding be your first and last opportunity!o)
    "It was like watching Moscow Ballet!"
    ...This told to Missy by a Russian ex-patriate. Not just empty praise from someone who actually watched Russian Corps de Ballet in her home country. And, there's an easy explanation for that honest exclamation! Melissa danced, rehearsed, performed and learned from former Bolshoi Ballet dancers during a long stretch of her professional career. She's breathed in and absorbed the grand tradition of the polished precision of the hand-picked Soviet dancers. Now, we don't hand-pick our dancers, but, she does pass on the secrets she's learned about Russian corps technique to our American students. You don't get this training in dance classes, but, during the rehearsals she runs and in the loving discipline she maintains. It gives CCDC students a grand battement up in any future ballet productions they may become involved in. (Whether it's just a community Nutcracker or, possibly, a professional Swan Lake or Giselle.) And, she tells me part of the secret is "the breathing".
    "Have fun out there!"
    ...that's what I told the dancers before the show. And, that's what many directors and choreographers tell their performers. You do all the hard work, you take all the classes, you rehearse and you rehearse and you rehearse. Then, you have to forget about all that and go out and HAVE SOME FUN ALREADY! Trust your work, trust your preparation, trust your self! The audience doesn't want to see you working. They're there to see you succeed. They WANT you to succeed! It's not like sports where at least half the people there want to see you lose! That's the great thing about the performing arts: when you win, EVERYBODY wins!o) So, HAVE SOME FUN ALREADY! (Apology to the lottery!)
    Thanks to all the CCDC parents and volunteers for helping put together a wonderful show! Thanks to all the teachers and helpers who put in some tremendous overtime! Thanks to all the students and performers! GREAT SHOW EVERYONE!!! (...Ummm...what're you doing next year this time?) Now, on to the 2009 Capital City Dance Center Summer Intensive!!!

    06.06.2009: More eFeedback!

    Excerpt from recent CCDC email:
    "...and I just wanted to thank you both - (My daughter) has become a beautiful, confident young woman with your help and encouragement. I hope you both know how much that means to us..."
    ...And, here's another from an enthusiastic student. (Hmmm...wonder who that could be?)
    "...CCDC is the most amazing place on earth! Missy and Emery, we love you guys more than you'll ever know! Thank you for everything you do for all of us!

    Your CCDC dancers..."

    06.05.2009: Whee! Get eMail!

    Yet another unsolicited testimonial from yet another satisfied CCDC customer!o)
    "...Thank you for all you do to instruct, develop, organize, etc. for dance class and the recital. I sat through the dress rehearsal last night and felt so incredibly blessed to be a part of your dance program. All the teachers are so talented and I'm truly in awe of what you do each year. (My dancer) has really been blessed and loves dance SOOOO deeply. That is directly related to all of you!!! Thank you again. ;-)..."

    06.04.2009: More Must CTV!

    The final 20 on SYTYCD will be announced tonight. My guess is Alex Wong will be among the finalists. Unless I miss my guess he's part of what Nigel was tweeting about last week when he mentioned "contractual difficulties" had been overcome. Unless I "misremember", isn't Wong a soloist with Miami City Ballet? (And, a blogger at TheWinger.Com, I believe) If that's the case, then he instantly becomes one of my favorites in this summer's SYTYCD. My DVR's set to record!o)

    06.04.2009: The Previews R In!

    Parental feedback from rehearsals:
    "...I think it's going to be a great ballet. Congratulations on your beautiful dancers.
    I have to say I'm so relaxed watching Catherine and Sean. They're gorgeous.
    They make it all look so easy. They've really arrived. You must be very proud of your students.

    Way to go, Emery!

    Many compliments to Missy too.

    Thanks for all you do!"

    06.02.2009: The Prowl Of The Web Lynx

    The end of a career:
    "...Her whole bearing radiates all the good things that come from being well brought up and having respect for the craft. She has proved to be one of the most versatile dancers, whether in strong technique roles like Kitri in Don Quixote or the transparent lightness of Giselle..."

    Reed the wrest from the Toronto Globe+Mail

    An update on Ground Zero of Balanchine training:
    "...the School of American Ballet become one of the world’s central institutions of ballet teaching. It became America’s foremost ballet school almost at its inception; it has been recognized for many decades as one of the world’s six (or fewer) pre-eminent ballet schools. When students graduate from this school, we can expect them to exemplify such basic Balanchinean virtues as speed, stretch, off-balance naturalness and complex musicality in ways that graduates of European schools will be unlikely to match..."

    Wrest the reed from the New York Times.

    Meanwhile, on another coast, at another comparable world-class school of ballet:
    "...the San Francisco Ballet School's advanced students took this decidedly ambitious fare and made it sparkle. This was an exceptional showing at a graduation ritual that - given the teenagers' high stakes and high sacrifices - is never an ordinary recital..."

    ...Reed about one of my favorite companies in one of my favorite cities from one of my favorite newspapers, the San Francisco Chronicle

    ...And, just down the left coast, reports of the death of the Sacramento Ballet apparently "greatly exaggerated":
    "...But I am pretty excited about next year. We are tightening our belts, cutting and trimming where we can – but we're not holding back. It's important that we in no way compromise the artistic quality of what we do. We did some great ballets in the studio this year, and we will do more great ballets next year..."

    Catch the buzz on the ballet from the Sacramento Bee

    Hey, sleepy head! Wake up and reed this:
    "...We recently carried out a study with the Berlin State Ballet. The dancers have the problem that they don't get enough sleep at night and as a consequence exhaustion can lead to accidents at work. That's why we looked at their sleep behaviour. Generally the dancers are under great pressure physically and mentally to perform at their maximum level..."

    Informational article continues Welt OnLine.

    Openings at a regional ballet company:
    "...As the curtain falls on the Joffrey Ballet's spring season at the Auditorium Theatre on Sunday afternoon, seven dancers will be taking their final bows with the company. Some plan to continue dancing. Some are heading back to school...."

    ...Well, apparently they're not looking for seven new dancers as you'll learn when you read the entire article from the Chicago Sun-Times.

    06.01.2009: Pass It On!o)

    Copy of eMail sent to area media:
    Dear Entertainment or Features reporters:

    You can stop wracking your brain for story or column ideas. Here are several front-page suggestions (OK! Maybe below the fold!o):

    1. 2009 Waukee HS Graduate (Basilio) wants to become a professional ballet dancer. He's already attended several prestigious summer dance programs as well as participating in training year-round in the PreProfessional Program at Capital City Dance Center in Urbandale. He's heading to the Milwaukee Ballet Summer Program in a few weeks in hopes of being offered a traineeship or apprentice position with the Milwaukee Ballet. He's already been offered a position with Louisville Ballet's Trainee Company. An interesting note: Sean is one of the few men who train en pointe. Normally only females dance en pointe, but, his instructors felt his legs and feet would benefit from the intense workout.

    2. Basilio is one of several Seniors graduating from CCDC's PreProfessional Dance Program. Three are headed to the prestigious Milwaukee Ballet Summer Program. Kitri of Roosevelt High School says if she doesn't get an offer there, she might keep training for another year at CCDC and do another round of auditions next spring to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a professional ballet dancer. The Dryad Fairy of Ames High isn't so sure...

    3. The Artistic Director of a professional ballet company will be teaching this summer at the CCDC Summer Intensive. Robert Gardner has an extensive resume ( and was impressed enough with students auditioning from CCDC that he accepted an invitation to join the 2009 CCDC Summer Intensive Faculty. His insights on what it takes to support a professional ballet company in a city a tenth of the size of the Des Moines Metro could be instructive.

    4. Capital City Dance Center presents excerpts from the ballet Don Quixote at West Des Moines Valley High School, this weekend, June 5, 6. It's part of the annual Spring Showcase that features ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, contemporary and hip hop. It continues a tradition of allowing aspiring dance students a chance to experience the rehearsal process leading up to a professional-level performance.


    Capital City Dance Center/

    05.29.2009: Must C(omment On) TV

    Been busy at work, but, I'm making the time to wrap up one dance TV competition and kicking-off the other. First, kudos to ShawneyJ for waltzing off with the mirror-ball last week. She's been ramping up her game and peaked just at the right time. But, I wonder if Gilles had been from, oh, say, Florida instead of France, if the geographical allegiance might have been enough to erase that "less than one-percent" margin of victory? Also, I think Cheryl Burke may have made a tactical error and not choreographed enough to the Junk Man's strengths in the free-style homage to Flash Dance. And, no disrespect, but, I still think The Actor brings more maturity and passion and authenticity to his dances than The Gymnast can muster. (Oh, what a feeling!) Don't get me wrong! Shawn does great for just 17! But, I'm not sure she's even really been in love. And, how can you portray authentic ardor if you've never had your heart broken? But, when Gilles smolders and sensually stalks his prey on the dance floor, you know he's "been there, loved that" many times before! I like ShawneyJ, but, I wonder why The Nasty Girl wasn't on the show instead? Was Nastia Liuken asked and turned it down? Or was The Ice Queen never asked at all in favor of Ms Telegenic and her million-dollar, million-watt smile? Just wishful thinking on my part, but, hopefully, we'll see the other Olympic Gymnast when September rolls around again. (Already some speculation in the blogosphere about another Osmond making a bid for the mirror-ball! Here's hoping Donny doesn't faint in his sister's footsteps if he does compete next season!o) And, sideline reporter Erin Andrews of ESPN also reported to be interested. Here's hoping she doesn't pull a Kenny Mane! But, I hear her sister's a professional dancer, so, I wonder if she's had some training when she was younger?)...And, the opening episodes of SYTYCD were just enough to whet my enormous dance appetite. Sure, people may wanna cast derision at the Star Wars Kitty Girl or the two male ballroom dancers (who certainly challenged more than a few conventions!), but, I'd rather focus on the crippled girl who tried out. She almost broke my heart! To watch her bravely compensating for her handicap, her birth defect, brought tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat! "Be grateful for what you have" her movements seemed to whisper. It wasn't a case of "There, but, for the Grace of God, go I", but, "There with the Grace of God, goes she". After all, aren't we all handicapped in some way or another? Aren't we all compensating in one way or another? Ungainly, uncoordinated, but, with real emotion and the real heart of a real dancer she dances through life and challenges us all to do no less. So, DO NO LESS!

    05.27.2009: Safe Summer

    Tips to keep in mind as CCDC families make their summer plans:
    As Americans across this country prepare for the warm weather, more and more people are planning trips to beaches, lakes or to the waterfront. On top of that, tens of thousands are just starting to open their pools and outdoor spas in anticipation of summer recreation. The nation’s emergency physicians want to warn everyone that with this comes an increased risk of drowning. Prepare now to prevent it from happening.

    “Drowning is one of the leading causes of death among children ages one to four. It only takes a few seconds and a few inches of water for a child to drown,” said Dr. Nick Jouriles. “For every child who dies, more than 10 others are treated in emergency departments for near drowning.” Almost 3,000 people die each year in the United States due to drowning. Even though young children are at the highest risk, every age group is affected and anyone can become a drowning victim. Be proactive now to avoid a trip to the emergency department, or even the worst possible scenario, dealing with a tragic, preventable death. Drowning Safety Tips:

    • Watch children every second they are near pools, hot tubs, beaches, lakes or any areas involving water.
    • Teach children to swim as early as possible, preferably using qualified swimming instructors.
    • Make sure no one swims alone. Always have someone nearby in case of an emergency.
    • Install safety fences with locks around pools and hot tubs.
    • Young children should always have life vests or approved personal floatation devices whenever they are near water.
    • Don’t push or jump on others while in the water.
    • Never consume alcohol and swim.
    • Never dive into unfamiliar water.
    • If at the beach, public pool, swimming lake or pond, make sure a certified lifeguard is nearby.
    • Avoid cliff edges, stay behind fences and obey warning signs.
    • Always swim or surf in designated areas.

    We encourage everyone to know basic CPR skills in case of an emergency. For more information on CPR tips and drowning safety information, click here.

    With summer approaching and kids getting out of school, Delta Dental wants you to know what to do if you or your child has a dental emergency.

    In most dental emergency situations, it is best to contact your dentist immediately. Your dentist is the expert when it comes to treating oral injuries. “Most dentists will leave time in their daily schedules for emergency care,” said Ed Schooley, DDS. “Should you have a dental emergency at night or over a weekend, most offices will have an emergency line or emergency contact for after-hour appointments.”

    Going to a medical doctor or emergency room should only be used if you believe it is an urgent clinical situation that cannot wait - uncontrolled bleeding, fever or other systemic effects due to the oral injury.

    Below are some different dental emergencies and what you need to do:

    Knocked Out Tooth
    If a permanent tooth is knocked completely out, time is of the essence. Immediately call your dentist for an emergency appointment. It is critical to get the individual and his or her tooth to the dental office within one-half hour. This makes it possible to re-implant the tooth with a high degree of success. If possible, gently place the tooth back in its socket as a means of transport. Otherwise, transport it in a cup of milk, salt water or saliva. If none of these are available, use a cup of plain water. You may also place the tooth between the cheek and gum.

    Loosened Tooth
    If a tooth is pushed either inward or outward, try to reposition it using very little pressure. Do not force the tooth into its socket. Try to get the injured person to a dentist as soon as possible. On the way, the tooth may be stabilized and held in place with a moist tissue or gauze.

    Broken Tooth
    First rinse the mouth with warm water to keep it clean. Immediate dental care is necessary. The treatment will depend on the severity of the fracture and could range from smoothing out the chip to bonding with a tooth colored resin material, to placing a crown or cap of the tooth. If there has been nerve injury, a root canal may be necessary as well.

    Bitten Tongue or Lip
    The tongue, lips or cheeks may be bitten, cut or punctured. If there is bleeding, apply firm pressure with gauze or a clean cloth. If bleeding doesn't stop within 15 minutes, contact your dentist immediately. Stitches may be necessary. Otherwise, clean the area with either warm water on gauze or a clean cloth. Apply an ice compress to the bruised or swollen area and contact your dentist for further instructions.

    For more information on oral health go to the Delta Dental website.

    05.26.2009: CCDC Program Notes

    Synopsis for CCDC program:
    "Welcome to tonight's Capital City Dance Center performance of excerpts from the ballet Don Quixote!

    Before our ballet begins, a poor barber by the name of Basilio had fallen in love with the innkeeper's beautiful daughter, Kitri. But, Lorenzo, the innkeeper, would have nothing to do with the poor, but, honest and hardworking Basilio. He wanted his daughter to marry the old, rich and vain nobleman Gamache instead. So, the two young lovers decide to flee together. Meanwhile, a wandering old man who thinks he is a Knight of old was visiting the inn. Don Quixote, believes the flirtatious Kitri is the elusive Dulcinea of his dreams and decides to follow them. And, this is where we pick-up the ballet.

    As the curtains open, we see the Caravan of the Gypsies and the celebration of the Gypsy Queen. But, the festivities are soon interrupted by the arrival of the young lovers. The Gypsy Queen asks for an explanation and Kitri and Basilio dance a gentle pas de deux that expresses their love for one another. But, then, another interruption! It is the self-styled Knight Errant, Don Quixote de la Mancha . The Gypsy Queen is mightily impressed with the courtly manners and quiet dignity of the old man and she orders a puppet dance to be performed for the visitors.

    But, during the Dance of the Puppets, Don Quixote's mind snaps. He becomes convinced the Puppets are attacking the gentle Gypsies and his Dulcinea. He steals a sword from the Puppet Knight and begins to try to defend his new friends and acquaintances from the monsters of his overactive imagination. He sees a windmill on a hill and sees it as an attacking Giant. He rushes challenge the monster, but, is knocked senseless instead. In his delirium, little baby Dryad Fairies lead him to the Land of Dreams.

    When he awakens there, a corps of Nymphs, the Dryad Fairy and Cupid begin a beguiling dance for him. In the middle of the celebration, the playful, mischievous Cupid strikes Don Quixote with an Arrow of Love. The old man falls in love with the idea of love represented by Kitri as Dulcinea. And the dancing continues long into the endless twilight. But, at the end, Don Quixote pleads with Cupid to be allowed to remain a Knight in the service of the Kingdom of Dreams. Alas, to no avail. He falls asleep again to return to his wake-a-day world.

    In the scene not seen today, all the loose ends are tied up. Kitri and Basilio return to the inn. During a nuptial celebration for Kitri and Gamache, Basilio pretends to fatally stab himself. Believing him to be dying and not long for this earth, Lorenzo grants his "dying wish" and allows him to be betrothed to his daughter. After which, Basilio jumps up and embraces Kitri. And, despite the deception, Lorenzo is finally convinced to give his blessing to the union.

    And, as the curtain rises on the final excerpt tonight, we witness the wedding dances for Kitri and Basilio. First the processional, with all their Friends and the Gypsy Boy, individual dances and the Grand Pas De Deux with variations. Thank you for coming and enjoy tonight's Capital City Dance Center program of excerpts from Don Quixote. Hopefully, you will, at some point, perform and/or watch the complete ballet someday!"

    05.22.2009: Hamer STILL Hitz Homerz!

    Exciting developing news on continuing professional development on the part of CCDC Modern/Jazz/Pilates Instructor Alissa Hamer:
    "...I have been officially admitted to the Physical Therapist Assistant program at Mercy College of Health Sciences. I will be starting in the fall. I'm very excited about it and am looking forward to continuing my pursuit of knowledge about the body. I have a feeling I will have many volunteers and test subjects from the studio! I will be finishing my physics pre-requisite class this summer through DMACC (good thing (Lindy VanderEmmen) is going to be around for study dates). I think this will be an amazing opportunity for me. Not to worry, I will still be teaching classes at CCDC while I am in school. As if I could ever give that up!


    05.22.2009: Performance Weekend

    A fledgling dance company stretches its wings this weekend:
    "...Poetic Rebound Performance Company, under the artistic direction of Nicole Hussain Morford, will perform Spilling Shades of Grey, an evening of original modern dance, at Morning Star Studio in Fairfield this Saturday the 23rd at 7:30 p.m. Works featured include to set at stillness the underside of, a new duet choreographed and performed by Morford and Katie Robbins, as well as the revival of Sutil, by UI M.F.A. graduate Analia Alegre-Femenias and performed by Robbins, Erika Christiansen and Erin Taylor.

    PRPC is a 501(c)3 not for profit organization dedicated to community outreach. Please come show your support. Tickets are sold at the door and are $7 for adults and $5 for students.

    Please pass this information along to anyone who may be interested.

    Hope to see you there!!!..."

    05.21.2009: Set Ur DVRZ!

    Found this on the local PBS Website:
    "...New York City Ballet's Romeo + Juliet (#3402)

    Features music by Prokofiev and Sterling Hyltin as the lead dancer. Peter Martins choreographs.

    Sun, May 24, 1:00 PM on IPTV..."

    05.20.2009: "Sunscreen Is Our FRIEND!"

    Here's a summer tip with some information that you probably didn't know courtesy Men's Health Magazine:
    "...We don’t expect (or want) you to avoid the sun, especially since small amount of UVB rays can boost vitamin D—a substance that helps your heart, strengthens your bones, and boosts your immune system. But before you head outside, it’s essential to protect your outer layer. Here’s how to guarantee you grab the best bottle and apply it right:
    1. Beware the numbers game. Higher SPFs are a marketing tool more than anything. The difference in protection is marginal—SPF 100 blocks 99 percent of UVB rays, while SPF 50 blocks 98 percent, and SPF 30 deflects 96.7 percent. Choose one with an SPF of at least 15 and UVA-fighting ingredients like an avobenzone or Mexoryl SX.

    2. Skimp and you lose. To get the SPF advertised, you must use an ounce of lotion on your body—that’s one full shot glass.

    3. Once is not enough. A lot of sunscreens rub off or don’t stay put, so dermatologists advise reapplication every 2 hours or after swimming or sweating..."

    05.20.2009: Tweet, Tweet, My Dancing Feat!

    Add this tweet from the producer of SYTYCD to the list of the reasons I've gotten active recently on Twitter:
    "...The reason SYTYCD is following itself in September is Fox wants to move it to Fall so next year you will only get 1 Season...."
    ...That means TWO back-to-back season of SYTYCD this year! But, does that mean it'll be going up against DWT*** this fall?

    05.20.2009: Behind the Iron Velvet Curtain

    This e-contribution from CCDC Young Children's Division Director Jill Andrews:
    Ballet at the Vaganova

    James Hill visited the storied Vaganova Ballet Academy in St. Petersburg, Russia, where a pure, undiluted form of classical dance is taught. Click here.

    05.18.2009: Final Finale' POV

    So the big results show of DWT** is tonight. When all the dust is settled, I expect the Frenchman to be the last one left dancing. His perfect scores last week helped him return to the top of this old dancer's leaderboard. I just don't think my sentimental or geographical favorites have the firepower to overcome Marini's smooth, suave and sophisticated presentation. Melissa is very polished with extension for daze, but, she doesn't dance with the controlled animal passion that Gilles provides. She should just edge out the Golden Girl. And, ShawneyJ is still a little too immature to bring the sheer sensuality and sexuality that The Junkman inhabits. Not that she hasn't improved light-years in the last few weeks. Very clean, much improved, both of them. But, unless I miss my guess or unless the vast voting public countermands the dancing, expect Gilles Marini to hoist the mirror-ball at the end of it all! (And, I've just about given up not learning the results of the show. BUT, at least I'll have the unspoiled SYTYCD premiere to watch this weak end!o) And, does anyone else think that pro-wanna-be Mayo looks like an enlongated version of Jim Carrey? My sense of the blogosphere seems to indicate Anna will win the gig. She's a rising star in the national ballroom scene. While Mayo does answer all the questions with all the right answers, I'm just concerned he may overshadow any star he's partnered with...much the way Max already does. But, how entertaining would it be to see Mayo partnering Jim Carrey???

    05.18.2009: Tweet, Tweet, My Dancing Feat!

    THIS is why I'm on
    Twitter. Just got this tweet from the producer of SYTYCD:
    "...Louis Van Amstel, from DWTS is joining our group of incredibly gifted choreographers this Season. That's fair. They've got 3 of our dancers!..."
    ...and SYTYCD premieres this Thursday! Another tweet mentioned some contractual problems with this year's final 20. Does that mean they're trying to get out of commitments to other dance companies or shows or reality series? How kewl would it be to have Melissa Rycroft bounce from heartbreak at the hands of the Bachelor to a disappointing runner-up finish at DWT*** to becoming a surprise competitor on SYTYCD??? Not gonna happen! But, maybe I should tweet Nigel, whaddya think? More seriously, I wouldn't be surprised if other members of Quest Krew become the fourth and/or fifth competitor on SYTYCD!!! (What's my tweet ID? That's not ready for prime time yet!o)
    ...and apparently auditions for the next SYTYCD will be kicking off NEXT WEEK:

    Doors open at 8:00am. Be prepared to stay for an extra TWO DAYS for potential callbacks.

    • Boston, MA THURSDAY, MAY 28, 2009 Hyatt Regency Boston One Avenue de Lafayette Boston, MA 02111

    • Atlanta, GA MONDAY, JUNE 1, 2009 Woodruff Arts Center 1280 Peachtree Street NE Atlanta, GA 30309

    • Los Angeles, CA FRIDAY, June 12, 2009 The Orpheum Theatre 842 S. Broadway Los Angeles, CA 90014

    • Salt Lake City, UT FRIDAY, JULY 24, 2009 Salt Lake City, Utah Venue info coming soon

    • Additional Cities TBD

    05.15.2009: CCDC Dance News Digest

    (Courtesy Newswise) — Students in the School of Architecture and the department of dance at the University of Illinois worked together to design and build a much-needed graduate dance rehearsal space on the second level of the East Art Annex 2 in Urbana.

    The students’ work on the project is part of a seminar conducted by architecture professors Roger Hubeli and Julie Larsen this semester. For the seminar, students are required to design and build a dance studio using mainly recycled materials.

    Video on the project is available on-line

    (Courtesy Newswise) — Ankle sprains are a common injury after a fall, sudden twist or blow to the ankle joint. And, approximately 40 percent of those who suffer an ankle sprain will experience chronic ankle pain, even after being treated for their initial injury.

    A new article explains that tendon injuries to the ankle can be a possible cause for this chronic pain. In some cases, the condition is untreated or overlooked which prolongs the pain and the problem.

    “When patients injure their ankles, the injury may not seem serious at first,” explains Terrence Philbin, DO, lead author of the article. “People may not seek medical attention and they can think it will just get better on its own. I think that is why this condition often goes undiagnosed."

    The authors of the article describe how in some cases chronic ankle pain may actually be the result of injuries to the peroneal tendons.

    If the condition is caught early, non-operative treatment options can include:

    • Rest, ice and elevation
    • Anti-inflammatory medication
    • Immobilization in a cast or brace
    • Physical therapy

    More serious injuries of the peroneal tendons, including tears or ruptures, will very likely require surgery.

    (Courtesy Newswise) — There appears to be an increased awareness of the need to get our nation’s youth moving and eating well—schools are taking a critical look at the meal options provided to students, and with the emergence of interactive exercise video games, game-loving teens don’t necessarily equal couch potatoes. So have things improved in recent years? Yes and no, says Kenn Daratha, an assistant professor at Washington State University Read his article here.

    The new findings show that, while metabolic syndrome was on the rise among teens throughout the 1990s, the prevalence of metabolic syndrome in this group has remained stable over the period studied. They observed, however, gender-based differences in certain individual risk factors. The waist circumference in teen girls has increased, while the level of HDL cholesterol has improved slightly in boys. Of particular concern is the fact that the fasting glucose level has nearly doubled in both boys and girls, indicating an elevated risk of early-onset diabetes in this population.

    “Historically, rates of metabolic syndrome have been higher for adolescent males,” Daratha said. “But based on the latest data used for this study, there are no statistical differences between boys and girls…Girls have ‘joined the club,’ if you will, partly based on their increases in waist circumference.”

    “Many of our children eat too much, and a large percentage of youth exceed their daily recommendation of extracurricular screen time, which is two hours,” said Daratha. “As a result, only a small percentage of our children are meeting the recommended 60 minutes a day of moderate to vigorous physical activity.”

    An American Institute for Cancer Research report shows over 45 percent of colon cancer cases and 38 percent of breast cancer cases in the U.S. could be prevented by making changes in our diet, physical activity and weight control.

    “The best way to statistically reduce your chances of cancer is still to avoid smoking,” said Iowa Dept. of Public Health (IDPH) Iowans Fit for Life coordinator Dennis Haney. “But this report indicates a significant number of cancer cases could be prevented just by eating better, moving more and maintaining a healthier weight.”

    New research shows sugar substitutes can help you lose weight—but there's a catch. What’s the real word on artificial sweeteners? The research seems to change by the day.

    Today, it’s a thumbs up—in a comprehensive review of studies on the effects of artificial sweeteners on appetite, food intake, and weight, it appears that sugar substitutes do have the potential to aid in weight management, researchers concluded in the current issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

    After all, losing weight is a game of “calories in, calories out”—and if you replace one can of sugary soda per day with a zero-calorie alternative, you’ll save more than 1,000 calories a week. That’s the equivalent of about a pound a month.

    But here’s the rub: The researchers say this only works if people do not overcompensate by eating lots of high-calorie foods. And that can be tricky, especially because other research shows sweetness, regardless of its source, increases the desire for sweet-tasting foods—and a craving for real calories.

    So what’s the verdict? Sure, cut calories where you can, but ward off cravings by sticking to a diet rich in natural, satisfying foods. And you’ve heard it before, but there’s one beverage all researchers agree will help you lose weight: water.

    A weight-loss solution that works? Now that’s sweet.

    (Courtesy Newswise) — At her 21st birthday, Julie Moore* understood better than most what “having your whole life in front of you” meant. Not because she could finally order a legal drink, but because her whole life had just depended on noticing one tiny freckle.

    The freckle, it turned out, was melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Tanning booths and sun worshipping had left their mark early. “When you are tan,” says Moore, “you look taller, thinner—better. Girls like Paris Hilton and other celebrities are always tanned.”

    Summer months make it easy to stay bronzed. But year-round tans are harder to come by the natural way. So, to hasten the process, Moore says, she went to tanning salons, without her mother’s knowledge, from the time she was 16 to 21.

    One night, she was shaving her legs and nicked herself. “Right above my knee was a little freckle. I noticed it because my mom had always told me to watch for moles.”

    A few months later, “I was lying out in the sun and noticed the spot had gotten bigger. It wasn’t raised, but it was now the size of the tip of a pen—still small but bigger than before.”

    After putting off a visit to the dermatologist for several months, she finally went and was told that it needed to be removed. The subsequent biopsy was positive for malignant melanoma. Moore had surgery a month later to enlarge the margins of the area to ensure removal of all cancerous cells.

    Today, she is 23, free of melanoma and worships the sun only from afar.

    “The myth that keeps circulating among teens is that tanning salons use 'safe rays.' There is no such thing,” says dermatologist Dr. Adelaide Hebert.

    Tanning booths use the same ultraviolet light (UV) that the sun produces. Both wavelengths of light, UVA and UVB, damage the skin. Because artificial tanning sessions take less time than the drive to the salon, clients are lulled into a false sense of safety.

    “It was so much faster to get a tan by going to tanning salons. They are so cheap--$18 or $20 a month for all the sessions you want,” Moore says.

    The National Cancer Institute’s website cites a 2003 study of Scandinavian women that shows women who use tanning beds more than once a month are 55 percent more likely to develop melanoma.

    Yet Moore has an olive complexion, dark eyes and hair. She thought she carried a natural protection. “I never used sunscreen much,” she admits.

    Women also may be more prone to cancer from ultraviolet light than men, according to various studies. “For women, even one or two sessions on a tanning bed can increase their chances of cancer manifold,” Hebert says.

    Moore says that she made the same mistakes others have made over the decades. “I am young, so it didn’t occur that this could happen to me.”

    UV radiation is considered the single largest environmental contributor to skin cancer, according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association. The UV radiation levels from indoor tanning devices can emit as much as 15 times more UV radiation than that from old-fashioned outdoor tanning.

    The rates of skin cancer in the United States have skyrocketed. Each year, over a million new cases are diagnosed. Melanoma is now the second most common cancer in women ages 20-29.

    b>Moore’s mother says parents need to observe their children’s bodies when they are swimming or participating in sports. “Which isn’t easy once they hit late adolescence and it’s even harder once they hit college. But, none of us can see ourselves 360 degrees, nor can we be objective about ourselves.”

    Young adult children need to be encouraged to examine themselves for changes in the skin, and have parents or college room mates check their backs, and scalps periodically. Hebert says that melanoma tends to grow on the arms and legs of girls and the arms and backs of boys.

    The sad thing, Moore says, is that while “you hear doctors and adults say all the time that tanning can cause cancer, it isn’t real until someone your age gets skin cancer. Today, there is ozone depletion and the sun is harsher. And there are those tanning salons.”

    Final advice from Moore, “If you notice something new on your skin or someone's you care about, no matter how small, even if it doesn’t fit the normal skin cancer criteria, check it out and immediately. Then act on it. It could save a life.”

    * name has been changed to preserve privacy

    05.14.2009: Taking The Stage

    Managed to catch up on the last few episodes and finale' of MTV's Taking The Stage. There's a lot to like about the series on talented youngsters training at the School of Creative and Performing Arts in Cincinnati...and a lot to criticize. First, showing a glimpse into the lives of highly motivated and gifted kids in action has got to be a form of affirmative action for MTV. Slackers need not apply. These young dancers, actors, singers and songwriters are working on finding their voice and perfecting their craft. Hopefully, it becomes a form of validation for gifted, but, potentially alienated, kids around the country who might think they're different and "strangers in a strange high school". I'm a little ambivalent about the intense focus on the budding relationships and love triangle at the school. On one hand, it makes the kids real and shows they are just high school kids just like any other, warts and all. But, on the other, sometimes the show panders to the lowest common denominator, the voyeuristic worst of reality television. (But, that one scene where one musician sings about his unspoken love for his best friend was amazing. Because she knew all along the song was about her!) However, my main criticism of the show is the quality of the ballet and, by inference, the dance training. The entrechat quatre they show in the opening credits is a study in medocre indifference to turn-out and fully stretched, energized line! The main "ballerina", Jasmine, is turned down by several University programs. (Apparently, was offered a scholarship to SMU.) She's finally accepted into a program at Ailey's. But, her classical technique is deficient for her age. Blame her teachers. I think if she was any good, she'd have been involved in a trainee or pre-professional program with the Cincinnati Ballet. (Or, has that been downsized? I know she must have been involved with their program, one of her t-shirts said so.) She's more of a contemporary dancer. It's good to be well-rounded at different forms of dance. But, the key is your classical training. I'm going to repeat a story here about a guy I knew who trained at another local school for 15 years. When he auditioned at different colleges around the country he told them he'd trained for 15 years. He got turned down even though he was a guy (guys are like gold in ballet!). Finally, one director told him, "You haven't trained for fifteen've trained one year fifteen times. Now, get offa my stage!" The guy told me he hates his teachers now and has never stepped foot back in that studio ever since. (Last I heard, he finally managed to get into a program based on his gender. I've lost touch with him.) So, don't be victimized by bad training or bad teachers. Don't do one year of dance training over and over and over. If you're not being challenged everyday to better placement, technique and execution, find a better studio...and, then, Take The Stage!

    05.13.2009: Better L8 As Ever!

    I still haven't had a chance to watch this week's dance-offs on DWT***, but, I can guess what happened...or should've happened! It's tyme for Murray to release his death grip on his dance dreams and let the better dancers shake their aspirations out on the dance floor. This is how this old dancer ranks the Final Four:
    1. Melissa Rycroft/Tony Dovolani: The Reality Star was "back with a vengeance" this past week! Talk about "Arms of an Angel"! She floated with effortless extensions and limpid, lyrical upper body. She even did some passable pique' turns en passe' in her waltz. And, she shook it on her samba! (So much so, she suffered another wardrobe malfunction!) She's back with a vengeance and could take advantage of the door left open by...
    2. Gilles Marini/Cheryl Burke: The Junk Man is just naturally manly smooth with a strong frame. He's a performer and understands how to use his thespian training to underscore a dramatic foxtrot and torrid rhumba. He has natural rhythm and line. The almost x-rated choreography for the rhumba may have cost him in the judges' eyes, but, probably not with at least half the audience.
    3. ShawneyJ/Mark Ballas: The Olympic Gymnast is stepping up her game and peaking right when she needs to be peaking. Her strengths are her strength and flexibility...and personality and million-dollar smile! She has sharpened her attack, but still needs to watch her shoulders. Good expression and better-than-expected solo!
    4. Ty Murray/Chelsea Hightower: The crowd (and wife!) loved his, not so much. The All-American Cowboy is better and very likable. But, he's still two rungs below the other Final Four bell-ringers.
    ...Wow! How did Li'l Kim not make it to the quarter-finals? Were hiphop fans just not tuning in as much as rodeo riders? Did her facial contortions prove to be too much for the vast voting public? I, for one, will miss the surprisingly good little rapper. Kudos to pro partner Derek Hough for bringing the best outta the Queen B-stands-4-ballroom!

    05.12.2009: About Time!

    The DWT*** review will be posted later. Meanwhile, this exciting news for SYTYCD fanaticz! Set your DVRZ:
    SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE Is Back and Hotter than Ever!

    Season Premiere - Thursday, May 21 at 8/7c

    All aboard the hot tamale train! Summer heats up as SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE returns with a two-night, four-hour premiere event. It's time to pop, lock and drop into America's hottest dance show as dancers from across the nation compete in everything from Hip-Hop to Krumping, Popping to Salsa and Jookin' to Jive to win the judges' praises. Who will be this year's dance sensation and who will trip up? Don't miss the auditions that everyone will be talking about.

    ...Find out more here.

    05.11.2009: Rejection Is So Personal!

    Auditioning anytime soon?
    "...The toughest thing is to make sure you don't miss anybody. I start with a totally open mind, giving everyone the benefit of the doubt. They will be eliminated by showing me what they are not able to do..."

    ...That's from the director. Read a lengthy article and view some photos from the Boston Globe.

    05.08.2009: Noticing Notices

    Arts Action around the region:
    Poetic Rebound Performance Company presents Spilling Shades of Grey, an evening of original modern dance, at Lee Recreation Center in downtown Iowa City this Sunday, May 10th at 6:30 p.m.  Performers include Nicole Hussain Morford, Erika Christiansen, Katie Robbins and Erin Taylor. The concert will feature a new work choreographed by guest artist Jackie Stewart of Thodos Dance Chicago entitled Splay, an original work by University of Iowa M.F.A. candidate Analia Alegre-Femenias entitled Sutil, among premiere and restaged works choreographed by Artistic Director Nicole Hussain Morford in collaboration with the company. Tickets are sold at the door and are $7 for adults and $5 for students. For more information on PRPC, click here.
    Auditions for Disney's High School Musical 2 will be held at The Playhouse at 6:00 PM on Sunday, May 10. 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.

    Disney's High School Musical 2 contains feature roles for 5 men ages 16-25, 9 women ages 16-25, and 3 men ages 30+, and an ensemble of men and women, ages 16-25. The show is directed by Todd Buchacker.

    School's out! Troy, Gabriella, Chad, Taylor and Kelsi are spending the summer together, working at Lava Springs Country Club, owned by Sharpay and Ryan Evans's dad. As Mr. Evans, who heads the college scholarship committee, befriends Troy, Sharpay also sets her sights on the Wildcats basketball star. Will it mean the end of Troy and Gabriella when Troy agrees to sing with Sharpay in the club's annual talent show?

    Disney's High School Musical 2, sponsored by Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield, is a fun and fresh new stage version of the hugely popular movie. The Playhouse is proud to present this sequel to our record-setting summer 2007 musical, Disney's High School Musical.

    05.07.2009: Help Wanted@The Ballet!

    Just got this intriguing tweet from the Houston Ballet:
    "...Houston Ballet has new employment opportunities available! Please visit us online for more details: ..."
    ...But, the link they provided was no good, so I went on-line and got it for you here. Unfortunately, dancers need not apply until December.

    05.06.2009: CCDCoup!

    So, we can make it official now. We got this email back after contacting the Artistic Director of a regional ballet company recently:
    "...I am interested in teaching for you and understand your terms. I would like to discuss the classes a bit more, and will contact you when I get back...I did very much enjoy having your students in audition, and they did very well. I just am not able to offer any more contracts this season, but would be very interested in seeing them again. They are very well trained and that speaks so much about your school. I look forward to working out the details soon..."
    ...Credit Kitri and Basilio (Did the Dryad Fairy go to that one, too?) for standing out at an audition and leaving a good impression! Without their efforts, we probably wouldn't have been able to generate any interest. After ironing out those details, we finally got this confirmation for the 2009 Capital City Dance Center Summer Intensive:
    "...Yes, I will be coming to guest teach for the week of June 8 -12...I am looking forward to teaching at your school and was impressed by your website.

    ...I look forward to meeting you and teaching at the Capital City Dance Center.

    Robert Gardner

    ...Mr Gardner is the Artistic Director for the Minnesota Ballet. His bio can be accessed here and will be going up on our Faculty page soon. (The odd thing is that I actually danced a season for that company back when it was known as the Duluth Ballet. And, one of my old ballet teachers in Hawai'i was also the Artistic Director of the Duluth Ballet for awhile, John Landovsky. What a small world the ballet world is after all!) Welcome to CCDC Robert Gardner!

    05.05.2009: 4Warned, 4Armed

    Are you a dancer or dance teacher interested in applying to work at CCDC? Be warned, it's not an easy process. This is what we send out to prospective applicants:
    "...Thank you for your interest in joining the Capital City Dance Center Faculty.

    Please send us a copy of your resume' and short statement of your teaching philosophy. Make sure you include all the styles and dance disciplines you have performed professionally and\or taught, the teachers who most influenced your classroom style, age ranges previously taught and any other pertinent information along with references, contact information and minimum pay requirements.

    Look forward to hearing from you..."

    ...Not just anyone gets to teach at CCDC. The best kids deserve the best teachers. After we get the preliminary information and a thorough background check, applicants get an opportunity to teach a class as an precondition audition for hiring.

    05.04.2009: Part Of The Game

    Injuries are a part of the game. They're a wild-card, just like second-guessing the voting public in trying to figure out DWT***. The blogosphere is rife with rumors (This is different than usual how?) about The Bachelorette's broken rib and its possible effects on the competition. Because I'm not a doctor (nor do I play one on the radio!o) I can't begin to guess if Rycroft will return tonight. But, I have been told that such rib injuries are very painful and difficult to dance with. So, don't be surprised if she's forced to step out of the competition. If that happens, how ironic that she got in because of an injury---and could be forced out because of injury! But, also, don't be surprised if she guts it out! The show must go on and Rycroft has proven before that she can bounce back from setbacks! She's gritty and gutsy and a gamer! How does that affect this old dancer's rankings? Let's get to those now, shall we?:
    1. Gilles Marini/Cheryl Burke: Despite an impressive big, goofy, poofy pompadour, this past week's offering failed to live up to The Actor's body of work. Lindy-hop may not be his cup of terpsichore or his shoulder injury could be a factor. There were some tough lifts that scared me at times, the timing was suspect. It seemed to lack a little something, but, he's such a natural dancer and actor, it's still hard to bet against the Junk Man.
    2. Melissa Rycroft/Tony Dovolani: She got the lowest judges' scores because her rehearsal footage was used in her absence. But, even in that you could see her starting to favor her injury. If it wasn't for that rib, she'd be on top of my list this week. (I wonder if dancers will start performing a little more during the final rehearsal with the band since this is the second time such footage was pressed into service this season.)
    3. Li'l Kim/Derek Hough: The "sassy, Queen B" brought it this past week! She's an adorable little spitfire who displayed an irrepressible spirt that traveled up too her fierce facial contortions. (She could tone those down a little! Make sure doesn't just look mean and angry!) Because we have to nitpick between favorites at this time in the competition, I'm just wondering if she's maxed out on her upside or not?
    4. ShawneyJ/Mark Ballas: It was a good idea to bring Mark's secret weapon to help teach the Golden Girl the feminine approach to Samba: his mom! As a judge mentioned, her costume was designed to shake and amplify her body movements, but, her hip action was suspect. Still it was a solid samba. But, "solid" isn't good enough in the waning daze of the competition
    5. Ty Murray/Chelsea Hightower: Judge Len seemed to be trying to send a not-so-subtle message to the voters to knock the King of the Cowboys off his high horse this past week. But, the effort backfired. Murray displayed his "big guns" again in his salsa. And, that boyz in shape! Little better, but still stiff. Nice body wave and better hips. But, all the spray-tan in the world couldn't save it from being a "white bread salsa"!
    ...and the Country Singer was just starting to peak. Chuck's cha-cha-cha was a flirtatious effort to "bring sexy back". His hips swiveled with sharp attack and he did display better lines. Enough for a standing ovation, but, not enough for the voters to save him over an injured better dancer. And, Team Tango showed better synchronicity in the group movements than Team Mambo. Meanwhile, back in the blogosphere, not everyone's convinced that Melissa will be back on tonight's show.

    05.01.2009: Pitch4Pilates

    CCDC's local Pilates Propaganda-meister sends this along:
    "Check this out:
    Crunches for a flat belly

    Turns out Pilates abdominal moves are superior to crunches for sculpting your midsection and uncovering those abs, according to a study at Auburn University at Montgomery, in Alabama. An exercise called The Teaser is especially effective. It activates 39 percent more of your rectus abdominus muscle (that's your six-pack) and 266 percent more of your external obliques (your love handles)..."

    ...SO! What are you doing Saturday mornings at 8am? Hmmmmm? Sawing logz? Or carving out a sculpted summer bikini-ready mid-section? Hmmm?

    05.01.2009: This Just In

    May 1, 2009
    Arts Job Preservation Grants Deadline June 1

    The State Arts Council invites applications for the Arts Jobs Preservation Grant program to receive up to $25,000 for a one-time, non-matching grant for projects occurring between July 1, 2009 and June 30, 2010.
    The IAJPG program is designed to support the retention of non-fundraising positions in Iowa arts organizations, as well as retention or extension of artist contracts in arts presenting organizations. The program does not support the engagement of personnel for new projects.
    A total of approximately $320,000 will be given in Iowa, thanks to funds from the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA) that were awarded by the National Endowment for the Arts to both the State Arts Council and to Arts Midwest, for re-granting to preserve arts jobs. Arts Midwest, which serves nine Midwestern states, is partnering with the State Arts Council to distribute the Iowa portion of its ARRA funds.
    Arts and presenting organizations must have applications submitted to the Arts Council offices by 4:30 p.m. June 1, 2009. This is not a postmark deadline.  

    04.30.2009: *** In Ur Eyez!

    (Finally getting a chance to finish this rank/review. More duties and downsizing at work. Remember this is from last week!) Well, as they say, the rich get richer and the poor get the shaft! No, I'm not talking about the current economic downturn (Don't get me started!o), but, the DWT*** competition getting more intense as we're down to the "dirty half-dozen"! The interesting developments are the "tumult at the top". The Junk Man has been dethroned for two weeks running (or quick-stepping)! But, is this just a passing fancy or has the universe actually experienced a paradigm shift on a pair of dimes? Well, this is how the old dancer ratings rank the latest upheaval! Agree or disagree? Sound off here!
    1. Gilles Marini/Cheryl Burke: I was expecting the Frenchman to mount a furious comeback this week and prove last weak was just a fluke. Loved his ability to show control in fast and slow movements. But, despite vigorous training, strong body awareness and smooth, controlled lines, Senator John McCain has nothing to worry about. Marini not quite the "comeback kid". But, given his body of work and the fierce competitiveness of his professional partner, Cheryl Burke. I expect him to eventually waltz off with the mirror-ball.
    2. Melissa Rycroft/Tony Dovolani: This girl is a real star and a pro in my book despite her humble "reality TV" beginnings. We learned later she was suffering from bruised ribs, but, managed to rise above that nagging injury to post a nearly perfect judges' score! Now, she did channel her inner "maneater" more, but, I'm still troubled by some inconsistency in her performance presentation. But, her over-all attitude is great! She's a fearless partner in challenging lifts. Still my sentimental favorite. But, having said all that, I fully expect The Actor to prove the "cream will rise to the top" when all the churning and turning and dance learning is said and done.
    3. Li'l Kim/Derek Hough: The Rapper's rhumba was sexy-sweet, but, she may have been trying to cotton-up to one judge too much. She manages to show nice lines in her arabesque and supported slides. I agree that she needs to stop trying to stifle her inner irrepressible vivacious vixen! I do have to say that partner Derek committed the "cardinal sin" of singing along to the song, not once, but, twice! He also fell out of his pirouettes, but that happens to the best of us!
    4. ShawneyJ/Mark Ballas: What a week for the local product! Wins the Sullivan Award and awarded with the Character Counts award locally. The Olympic Gold-Medalist was a little pessimistic about her ability to rehearse and train properly with all her traveling and personal appearance commitments. (Love the Ballas comment: "Lose your mind! Lose your edge!") But, she needn't have worried, she's gotten razor-sharp in her execution and much more mature in her presentation. (Don't worry, moms! Still age-appropriate!o) The Michael Jackson tribute cha-cha-cha was a celebration of controlled exuberance! She's already a winner!
    5. Chuck Wick/Julianne Hough: The Singer's Samba was sizzlin'! (Despite some unfortunate hand placement in the first drop!) His hips were gyratin! He showed much better intensity, longer lines and more powerful attack. Strong performance. I have to echo Len when he offers the faint praise: "best dance to date"!
    6. Ty Murray/Chelsea Hightower: Check out this guy's "guns" in his 60's outfit! He promised he was good at "holding on"! And, he actually provided his professional partner with dancer's posture to hold on to. But, while he's strong, his weakness remains smoothness and sophistication. He's a little lunky and clunky in his footwork, but, he's a sweet-like-strawberry-wine-kinda guy and it's no wonder that Jewel, who you think would be way out of his league (I should talk!) would be head over heals with him.
    ...and the NFL Hall of Famer gets to take his last spin on the dance floor. But, I think even LT knew his time had come and gone. Just give him a huge amount of credit for doing so well so far out of his comfort zone. And, the "Tribute to the Sixties" was much better than I feared. Fortunately, it was a tribute to the mod, beat, hip 60's and not the post-Woodstock drug-addled counter-culture 60's. Loved the Chuckster's blonde wig! (Reminds me of what I had to wear in Peter and the Wolf once!) Just proves he doesn't take himself too seriously! Now, next week's Team Mambo and Team Tango sounds more promising. Loved the Burn the Floor dance tribute! Some serious tricks going on there! Also, like the sub-plot competition to become one of next season's professional partners. Some familiar names out there: Mazzo, Snow and Del Grosso. Wonder if fresh faces can overcome the familiarity of more famous surnames? And, that Mayo's line was incredible! But, I just think he might overshadow a non-professional, amateur partner. May not be right for the show. Looking forward to seeing the partners shaken and stirred and how they perform with someone else in a different style.

    04.29.2009: Arts 2 The Re$cue!

    More info on that ballet benefit:
    CCDC NewService – The University of Iowa’s Hancher Auditorium and the Civic Center partnering to bring The Joffrey Ballet to the Civic Center on Friday, Sept. 11, 2009. The Joffrey Ballet, which has a longtime partnership with Hancher Auditorium, and the Civic Center reached out to Hancher after the devastating floods last summer offering their assistance. The result is a one-night-only benefit performance in support of Hancher Auditorium.

    Tickets for The Joffrey Ballet go on sale to the public at 10 a.m. on Monday, May 4, 2009 at the Civic Center Ticket Office, all Ticketmaster locations, charge-by-phone at (800) 745-3000 and online.

    Ticket prices: $52.50 / $102.50 / $252.50.
    $102.40 and $252.50 tickets include a tax-deductible donation to Hancher Auditorium

    All pricing includes a Building Restoration Fee of $2.50

    The remarkable dancers of the Joffrey Ballet, supported by live music performed by the University of Iowa Symphony Orchestra, will present Kettentanz by Gerald Arpino, the late co-founder of the Joffrey Ballet; two works that celebrate the music of Richard Rodgers…smile with my heart by UI alumnus Lar Lubovitch and Carousel (A Dance) by Christopher Wheeldon, one of today’s hottest choreographers; and Age of Innocence by New York City Ballet soloist-turned-choreographer Edward Liang, to music by Philip Glass and Thomas Newman.

    The Joffrey Ballet has become one of the world's most revered and recognizable arts organizations in America, and one of the top ballet companies in the world. Classically trained to the highest standards, the Joffrey Ballet expresses a unique, inclusive perspective on dance, proudly reflecting the diversity of America with its company, audiences, and repertoire.

    Robert Joffrey and Gerald Arpino's uniquely American vision of dance first took form in 1956 and together they created a company of dancers for whom they choreographed original and socially relevant ballets.

    The Joffrey has since been hailed as "America's Ballet Company of Firsts." The Joffrey Ballet's long list of "firsts" includes: the first dance company to perform at the White House at Jacqueline Kennedy's invitation; first to appear on television; first American company to visit Russia; first classical dance company to go multi-media; first to commission a rock 'n¹ roll Ballet (Billboards); and the first and only dance company to appear on the cover of Time Magazine.

    The company's commitment to accessibility is met through the most extensive touring schedule of any dance company in history, an innovative and highly effective education program, and collaborations with myriad other visual and performing arts organizations.

    The Joffrey Ballet had former residences in New York and Los Angeles, but in 1995, the company made Chicago its permanent home and is currently the resident ballet company of the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University.

    The Joffrey Ballet continues to thrive under internationally renowned Artistic Director Ashley C. Wheater, in a brilliant new state-of-the-art facility, Joffrey Tower, located in Chicago's prestigious art district at the corner State and Randolph. In January 2009, the Joffrey Ballet launched Academy of Dance, Official School of the Joffrey Ballet. Academy of Dance has addressed various recognized needs in Chicago's dance education programs, including the establishment of a professional dance school associated with a world-renowned company in the Midwest.

    04.27.2009: Watch This Space!

    Stay tuned for a big announcement coming soon on 2009 CCDC Summer Intensive Guest Faculty!!! Negotiations being finalized as we speak!...Also, big kudos to Katya W00tang! One of the companies she's auditioned for recently e-mailing her asking her to return to try again next year! They had already told her and Basilio that in person, but, always nice to know it wasn't just something they say to everyone who shows up! Just no contracts available this year apparently! Durn recession!o(

    04.27.2009: Items of Interest

    (Courtesy Newswise) — We've heard it before: "Imagine yourself passing the exam or scoring a goal and it will happen." We may roll our eyes and think that's easier said than done, but in a new study, psychologists suggest that the imagination may be more effective than we think in helping us reach our goals.

    A group of students searched visual displays for specific letters (which were scattered among other letters serving as distractors) and identified them as quickly as possible by pressing a button. While performing this task, the students were asked to either imagine themselves holding the display monitor with both hands or with their hands behind their backs (it was emphasized that they were not to assume those poses, but just imagine them).

    The results showed that simply imagining a posture may have effects that are similar to actually assuming the pose. The participants spent more time searching the display when they imagined themselves holding the monitor, compared to when they imagined themselves with their hands behind their backs. The researchers suggest that the slower rate of searching indicates a more thorough analysis of items closer to the hands. Previous research has shown that we spend more time looking at items close to our hands (items close to us are usually more important than those further away), but this is the first study suggesting that merely imagining something close to our hands will cause us to pay more attention to it.

    The researchers suggest these findings indicate that our "peripersonal space" (the space around our body) can be extended into a space where an imagined posture would take us. They note there may be advantages to having this ability, such as determining if an action is realistic (e.g., "Can I reach the top shelf?") and helping us to avoid collisions. The authors conclude that the present study confirms "an idea that has long been espoused by motivational speakers, sports psychologists, and John Lennon alike: The imagination has the extraordinary capacity to shape reality."

    (Courtesy Newswise) — Exercise programs that lend strength, flexibility and balance might be one of the best ways to prevent falls among people age 65 and older, according to a review of more than 100 studies.

    A variety of other measures — from pacemakers to vitamin D supplements — might be useful in preventing certain individuals from falling, but exercise appears to be the most widely effective strategy for reducing both the risk of falling and the overall number of falls among older people.

    “It may not be possible to prevent falls completely, but people who tend to fall frequently may be enabled to fall less often,” said Lesley Gillespie, lead author of the review. “Effective exercise programs for reducing falls focus on balance, strength and flexibility, and challenge the older adults to improve in all of these components,” said Bonita Lynn Beattie, a physical therapist.

    Other preventive measures might only be effective for small, targeted groups. For instance, “taking vitamin D supplements probably does not reduce falls, except in people who have a low level of vitamin D in the blood,” Gillespie said. Similarly, cataract surgery and insertion of a pacemaker can help specific groups of people with poor eyesight or certain blood pressure conditions fall less often.

    (Courtesy Newswise) — College students who use Facebook spend less time studying and have lower grade point averages than students who have not signed up for the social networking website, according to a pilot study at one university.

    However, more than three-quarters of Facebook users claimed that their use of the social networking site didn’t interfere with their studies.

    “We can’t say that use of Facebook leads to lower grades and less studying – but we did find a relationship there,” said Aryn Karpinski, co-author of the study.

    “There’s a disconnect between students’ claim that Facebook use doesn’t impact their studies, and our finding showing they had lower grades and spent less time studying.”

    While this was a relatively small, exploratory study, it is one of the first to find a relationship between college students’ use of Facebook and their academic achievement.

    Typically, Facebook users in the study had GPAs between 3.0 and 3.5, while non-users had GPAs between 3.5 and 4.0.

    In addition, users said they averaged one to five hours a week studying, while non-users studied 11 to 15 hours per week.

    The study found that 85 percent of undergraduates were Facebook users, while only 52 percent of graduate students had accounts.

    Students who spent more time working at paid jobs were less likely to use Facebook, while students who were more involved in extracurricular activities at school were more likely to use Facebook.p> There were no differences in Facebook use between different members of racial and ethnic groups that were part of the study, or between men and women.

    Karpinski emphasized that the results don’t necessarily mean that Facebook use leads to lower grades.

    “There may be other factors involved, such as personality traits, that link Facebook use and lower grades,” she said.

    “It may be that if it wasn’t for Facebook, some students would still find other ways to avoid studying, and would still get lower grades. But perhaps the lower GPAs could actually be because students are spending too much time socializing online.”

    Karpinski said it was significant that the link between lower grades and Facebook use was found even in graduate students. She said that graduate students generally have GPAs above 3.5, so the fact that even they had lower grades when they used Facebook -- and spent less time studying – was an amazing finding.

    The popularity of Facebook is evident in college lecture halls, Karpinski said. Faculty members who allow students to use laptops in class have told her they often see students on the Facebook site during class.

    “It’s not going away anytime soon, and we need to learn more about how Facebook use is affecting students,” she said.

    As for herself, Karpinski said she doesn’t have a Facebook account, although her co-author does. “For me, I think Facebook is a huge distraction,” she said.

    04.24.2009: May B Hazardous 2 Ur Health!

    What you suspected about television all along!
    ...American children watch an average of three hours of television per day. Many watch more than that. Watching several hours of television each day can contribute to obesity and overweight through increased snacking and less physical activity.

    A survey by the state Department of Health found children who spend more than two hours per day watching TV, viewing videos, or using a computer were more likely to be overweight or obese. “Simply being sedentary contributes to the risk of obesity,” said Fit for Life coordinator Dennis Haney. “However, during the time they’re watching TV, children are also exposed to food advertising that is very effective at influencing what they eat.” For example:

    • Each day, children receive about 58 commercial messages from television alone. About half of these are for food.
    • Close to 98 percent of food commercials on weekend morning network TV are for unhealthy foods high in fat, sodium, cholesterol or sugar.
    • The amount of marketing aimed at children has more than doubled during the last decade, from $7 billion to $15 billion a year.
    The Health Department is encouraging parents to become more aware of their children’s TV viewing habits, and encourage them to trade some of that time for more activities that are better for their bodies and minds. Watching your children play outside or read a book while the television is turned off sounds like a great plan, but what should parents do when reality strikes and children would rather spend time in front of the screen? Here are some tips for success:
    • Be a good role model: Be aware on your own TV viewing habits – kids will take their cues from you.
    • Endure kids’ complaints: This may be a parent’s biggest challenge. Stick with it.
    • Help kids deal with boredom: Be prepared to suggest other activities. Over time, kids will learn to entertain themselves.
    • Use technology: Screening devices (like a DVR) can remove advertising, and allow you to view TV shows in less time.
    For more ideas on limiting TV viewing time, visit here.

    04.24.2009: Performance Notice

    This just in the e-mailbag:
    "...University of Iowa students Miranda Mallard and Kate Vigmostad return to their hometown of Fairfield for an evening of contemporary dance works, presented at the Sondheim Center for the Performing Arts on Friday April 24th. The concert will open with local vocal trio Rock, Paper, Scissors playing an eclectic set including many original compositions. The show features chorography from both Graduate and Undergraduate students from the University of Iowa. These pieces are some of the most recent creations from the Iowa dancers, including two premiering works created by Vigmostad and Mallard. Abschied, created by Mallard, is a playfully dramatic duet incorporating live music and poetry, poignantly portraying the many experiences of love. The quartet Childsong, by Vigmostad, explores the many mysteries and curiosities of play, our relationship to the unknown, and the hopes and disappointments which accompany “growing up”. These premiering works are just two of the evening’s pieces being presented by current Iowa dancers in the concert. Recent Iowa alum and founder of the dance company Poetic Rebound Performance Company, Nicole Hussain Morford, will also be joining the performance roster with a recent piece from the company’s repertory, entitled Porcelain Ringlets. Don’t miss this eclectic, family-friendly dance experience. With its varied program, there is something for everyone to enjoy..."

    04.23.2009: Overheard@CCDC

    For those of you who forget corrections as soon as they're said, in one ear and out the other. Invite these to stay awhile:
    "Are you lifting out of your pointe shoes? Don't put that leg down to rest! Don't do it!"

    "You can have the longest light bulbs in the world, but, some body with shorter light bulbs can outshine you in class and on stage. It's because they bring more energy, effort and electricity! The three 'E's' of ballet. Not to be confused with 'ease'!"

    "Bigger, badder, bolder! Do the three Beez of ballet! I'm going to tattoo it on your forehead! Do you think your parents will mind?"

    "Think of turnout as a process, not as a picture. As a verb, not a noun! Turnout is a constant living breathing thing, not a museum piece! You must constantly seek to retain it and improve it through out every movement and exercise. Otherwise, it's not your best ballet."

    "How long have I been teaching you to over-cross to bourre'? HELLO! Pencils will be coming out if I don't see better! And, I KNOW you don't want that!"

    "Everytime I look at you, you've been back. What does that tell you about your body?"

    "What happens on count four?"

    "Lift when you come out of the turn!"

    "Cleaner, longer, stronger would be much better!"

    "A little bit longer, a little more turnout, a little more stretch...and, eventually, you'll get a whole lot better!"

    "In order to roll down off of pointe on balance, you have to BE on balance in the first place!"

    "Tendu has to extend through the stretch of the lower back and reach through the stretch of the neck. Which makes sense because tendu means what? It means STRETCH! Not straight! It means STRETCHED!"

    "In order to properly stretch something it needs at least two end points lengthing in opposite directions!"

    "So, can you stretch your turnout? The correct answer is: 'Yes, I can and Yes, I will!'"

    "It's exciting to see when someone makes a breakthrough in ballet, but, you lay the ground work for those breakthroughs by working diligently everyday!"

    04.22.2009: Boyling Pointe

    I've watched the Susan Boyle clip on YouTube.Com a couple times now. (Dona Q recommended it to me wholeheartedly.) And, it always brings tears to my eyes. I'm not sure why, but, part of it is the unexpected soaring strong vocals in such an unassuming package. (I'm apparently as guilty of judging a book by its cover as the average audience-member.) And, I'm sure part of the reason for my reaction is the fact that I used to audition often when I was a young dancer. So, I've faced similar skepticism when I've walked into a studio. I admit I've never danced as well at an audition as Boyle sings, but, I like to think I opened a few eyes and changed a few minds in my day. The truth of the matter is, however, that singers and musicians don't have to have quite the look that dancing demands. (I know that many orchestras have "blind auditions". The judges never see the applicants to ensure against any such visual prejudice and they're ranked only on the quality of the sound and music.) But, dancers are judged on looks as soon as they walk in the door. And, basically, there are two main types of dancers: those who look better than they dance and those who dance better than they look. The first type of auditioner has to prove they *can't* dance and the other has to prove the opposite. But, our goal at CCDC is to make you the best dancer you can be, better than you thought you could become. And, along the way, your "instrument" will improve its look as well. So, we want you to look FANTASTIC and to dance EVEN BETTER! Now, I know nothing about Susan Boyle's background, but, I will bet my last of my rapidly disappearing shekelz that she worked diligently on strengthening her voice, did her scales and practiced daily while she was taking care of her aging mother. And, all that work paid off handsomely! I doubt if she just fell off the turnip truck and started singing on stage that way. So, the question is: are you preparing for your Susan Boyle moment? Will you be Flawless? Or, will you be something less?

    04.21.2009: Gee! See CGTV!

    Always interesting to turn on the tube and catch sight of someone who used to take a few classes at CCDC on a national television network. Especially, like this weekend, when the show is the Miss USA Pageant and that someone is Chelsea G, the 2009 state Miss USA winner! I tuned in late and didn't get to see if Chelz made the first cut or not or even got to show her talent. I assume she would've danced since she competed so long at another, now defunked, competition studio. But, I like 2 think both she and ShawneyJ missed their chance to perfect their craft by cross-training in some disciplined dance classes like we offer here at CCDC. Let that be a lesson to all u other Beauty Queen Wanna-Beez and aspiring Olympic Gold Medalists! (And, u budding actorz, martial artists, street dancers and other athletes!o) Now's the time to get some serious training. B4 the white hot glare of national publicity turns its focus onto your 15 minutes of fame! Hey, no time like now to get started! (BTW, don't cry for CG, Pottatawatamie! She says she wants to be a lawyer, but, as local news anchor Tiffany O'Donnell and others have proven, you can parlay that state tiara into a lifelong career, if you wanna!o)

    04.20.2009: R8ings 'R' Us!

    Mea culpa. Mea culpa maxima. Yes, I'll take the blame for putting the jinx on GM stock on DWT*** this past week. Write after I wrote he could become "the first star to lead wire2wire", "call off the competition, this one's already decided", he was dethroned from atop the leader board that very same day! Li'l Kim turned in a crowd-pleasing theatrical romp of a jive to leapfrog into serious contention. But, I'm not sure she's going to be able to sustain that lead4long. So, here's my latest dance rankings based on skill and body of work to these old dancer's eyez:
    1. Marini/Burke: The actor uses his thespian skills to give him an edge on the dance floor. As I've written before, he's a natural dancer with endless line and strong attack. Cheryl always provides challenging yet satisfying choreography. This boy can dance and despite the judges' attempt to turn this into more than a one-horse race, it'll be a major upset if he doesn't Brooke Burke or Kristi Yamaguchi the competition!
    2. Li'l Kim/Hough: I've underestimated the rapper for too long. Just when I think she's about to fade, she (and partner/choreographer/teacher/coach Derek) reaches into her bag o' trix for something new and entirely enchanting. She delivered a blistering hot tribute to Elvis by rocking her pelvis in some hot, sexy fun. Transitions could've been a little stronger (You can never just wait even a little for a musical cue, you have to perform constantly), but, otherwise, captivating, cute and cunning! (Did anyone else notice the wardrobe malfunction that the host tried to cover up and the camera veered away from?)
    3. Rycroft/Dovolani:The Bachelorette has been my sentimental favorite from week one because of my built-in soft spot for trained dancers. But, I was a little disappointed in her rhumba. The "video pack" before the dance produced great expectations, but, Melissa didn't live up to them. There were good moments, but, the piece was uneven and longing looks with mouths agape do not a connection make. Don't get me wrong, I still think she's going to be one of the last dancers standing. But, sometime's she so polished, it seems like mere veneer and not enough content. Does that make sense 2 ne1 else but crotchity old dancers at all? She did manage to beat GM's scores this past week as well. As written earlier, two routines this week could help catapult her into front-runner status.
    4. ShawneyJ/Ballas: Who needs the WDsM Valley Junior Prom when you can dance the rhumba with millions watching? The Olympic Gymnast performed with much more maturity than her 17-years of age, while still remaining "age-appropriate". Her rhumba was strong and sophisticated, tantalizing, yet, tasteful. She, once again, tied GM as the leader stumbled on the home stretch. (BTW, If u tweet, "ShawneyJ" is the gymnast's nom du tweet! She just signed on and has a way to go to catch up to Brooke Burke's 400,000-plus followers!o)
    5. Taylor/Sliwinska: Just when I thought LT was resigned to being put out to pasture, he manages to step-up his game. Once again, saw flashes of Emmit Smith out there. When he flashes that sly smile more often and has more fun his scores will improve more.
    6. Wick/Hough: The country singer exploited his already existing connection with his partner to take the rhumba to a new level for him. Julianne, meanwhile, wore a costume strategically designed to distract the men from watching her partner's performance. It was a very hot rendition of rhumba that can only take place when two people trust each other enough to go beyond formalities. it 2 little 2 late?
    7. Murray/Hightower: Somebody's got to go this week and I think he may get a chance to spend more time with wife Jewel after the results show. The King of the Cowboys is a likable guy with a king-size positive and competitive spirit. But, despite his line-dancing start and all the hula-hooping and mini-tramping gimmicks, he still struggles to find the spirit of the dance. But, you gotta love his "get back on the horse" attitude. He's still competin', he's still workin'. The question is: for how much longer?
    ...and say Au revoir to that lovable goofy, toothy grinner! But, Steve-O's a winner just by participating and competing. He's fighting his demons of addictions and appears to be winning, but, he's already lost his battle to be considered a dancer. No offense, but, he's awkward and out-of-touch with his body. His dance-by-the-numbers routine was more than a little gangly and robotic. I admit he's gotten a little better since weak one. So, if this was a several-year long competition, he might've eventually gotten good enough to be considered watchable. But, high time to put that dog down! Bye, bye Boogie!...Now, the competition steps up a bit. The 4 men and 3 women remaining get to design their own and their partner's costumes. (How will Edyta survive without her "allergy 2 clothing"?) And, the stars perform in the group dance "Tribute 2 the 60's"! The mind shudders!

    04.17.2009: Celebr8 The Dance

    This just in 4 CCDC grads dancing at the University of Iowa:

    Iowa Dance Fest – Tonight
    The Iowa Dance Fest invites you to their 3rd Birthday party, a Celebration of Dance at the Chait Galleries in Downtown Iowa City, 218 East Washington Street, on Friday, April 17 from 6 to 8 pm.  There will be dance, art, wine and appetizers.
    For more information please go to Or contact Nora at or 319-400-4695.

    04.17.2009: Taking The Criticism

    Ask and ye shall receive apparently. I complained about a lack of dancing on MTV's Taking The Stage series before. (And, to be fair, extended versions of some of the performances are always available at their website or click here, here or here.) And, the last episode finally did feature an extended dance scene with the black ballerina, Jasmine, rehearsing a solo piece. But, now, I'm going to be asking for more again. More technique, more turn-out, more placement! Okay, okay! I know I should be happy there's even some lyrical, semi-balletic dance content at all on MTV. But, since the squeaky wheel gets the grease, I'm squeakin'! As for the rest of the show, the producers seem to be most interested in the love triangle between the singer, the dancer and the hip-hopper. Very impressed with the singer/songwriter Mia Carruthers. Apparently, her music's available on MySpace. But, ballerina Jasmine seems to be very new to the ways of love. She's a Senior, but her over-protective parents have apparently sheltered her too much and she's fallen head-over-heels with the promising hip-hopper. Meanwhile, Tyler's caught like a kid in a candy-store. Playaz got one sweet in hand, but, is eyeing the others. Let this be a lesson to all you other young guys out there! Every girl's crazy for a sharp-dancin' man! Sign up for dance lessons and it'll be like you died and gone to heaven! At least that's what I thought when I worked up the courage to walk timidly into my first ballet class! You, too, can be a BMOC! That stands for "Ballet Man On Campus!" As we used 2 say in another century, chik magnet 4 sho'!o)

    04.17.2009: Arts In Action

    Support local theatre!
    The Playhouse continues its 90th season with the Tony Award-winning musical, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Apr. 17-May 10. Tickets may be purchased at The Playhouse and online.

    Thoroughly Modern Millie is the zany Roaring Twenties romp that took Broadway by storm! Young Millie Dillmount has just moved to New York City, a place full of intrigue and jazz. With frisky flappers, dashing leading men and a villainous dragon-lady audiences will love to hate, Millie is a perfectly constructed evening of madcap merriment.

    The Thoroughly Modern Millie cast of 21 features Ann Kramer (Sally Bowles, Cabaret) as Millie, Emily Perkins (Irene Malloy, Hello, Dolly!) as Dorothy, Charlie Reese (Cat in the Hat, Seussical the Musical) as Jimmy, and Mary Bricker (Dolly Levi, Hello, Dolly!) as Mrs. Meers. The show is directed by John Viars, with musical direction by Brenton Brown, and choreography by Alison Shafer.

    04.16.2009: Advice 4 The Ages

    One of the first things I make myself do whenever I begin a choreographic assignment is to listen to the music. Listen a lot. I mean every waking minute for daze at a time. I like to say I listen until my ears start bleeding. And, then, and only then, is when I can really start hearing with fresh ears. Once you get past the "If I hear that music one more time, I'll scream!" phase, you begin the process of understanding the music. The constant repitition allows the song to seep in past your preconceived notions. You begin hearing things that you could not hear before. Then, and only then, the creative dance-making process has a chance to rise above the rote and routine. (I'll write more about the choreographic process later, but, there's another pointe to be made here.) Sometimes, corrections are the same way. As a student, you probably get a lot of the same corrections over and over. Don't just dismiss them with a wave of the hand, "Oh, I've heard that one before. I'm doing that already." If you're getting the same correction over and over, it's because you're NOT doing it! Not enough anyway. Listen to each correction as if you've never heard it before. Try over-exaggerating for awhile. No matter how many times you've heard that correction before. Listen to it again and again. Let it seep past your defenses. If you're stuck on how to apply a correction more, ask your teacher before, during or after class. It's not easy changing fundamentals. But, that's the only way to break through a plateau. Back to the basics. You have to get past the "If I get that correction one more time, I'll scream!" phase. What's the one correction you do get all the time? What's the one you're tired of hearing already? That's the one that's standing in the way. I speak for all teachers when I say that's the correction you'll be getting the rest of your dancing life! That's the one you'll have to work on the rest of your career. It is your burden and your great freedom. Figure it out. And, then figure it out again! (Lather, rinse, repeat!o)

    04.15.2009: Art$ Re$tart

    This just in from the Governor's office:
    DES MOINES – Today, Governor Chet Culver announced the creation of the Iowa Arts Jobs Preservation Grant (IAJPG) program, which is designed to preserve arts jobs in Iowa. The program is being supported by the National Endowment for the Arts with funding from the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009.

    The Iowa Arts Council will administer the program in partnership together with Arts Midwest, a non-profit regional arts organization headquartered in Minneapolis that serves audiences, arts organizations and artists in nine Midwestern states.

    “The arts not only enhance the quality of life for Iowans, but play a vital and significant role in our economy by supporting local businesses and creating good paying jobs for Iowans,” Governor Culver said. “But declines in philanthropic contributions and other support during this historic economic downtown are putting jobs for Iowa’s cultural workers at risk. As governor, I am committed to seeing these funds utilized to preserve jobs in the arts.”

    Iowa arts and presenting organizations must have IAJPG applications submitted to the Iowa Arts Council offices at 600 E. Locust Street, Des Moines, Iowa 50319 by 4:30 p.m. on June 1, 2009. This is not a postmark deadline. Organizations may request up to $25,000 for one-time, non-matching grants. The program offers about $320,000 in grants for projects occurring July 1, 2009-June 30, 2010, thanks to a unique partnership between the Iowa Arts Council and Arts Midwest.

    Funds from the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act were awarded by the National Endowment for the Arts to both the Iowa Arts Council and to Arts Midwest, for re-granting to preserve arts jobs. Arts Midwest, which serves nine Midwestern states, is partnering with the Iowa Arts Council to distribute the “Iowa portion” of its ARRA funds.

    The IAJPG program is designed to support the retention of non-fundraising positions in Iowa arts organizations, as well as retention or extension of artist contracts in arts presenting organizations. The program does not support the engagement of personnel for new projects.

    Today’s announcement comes at critical juncture in the ongoing success of Iowa’s creative economy. Recent studies show Iowa’s arts and presenting organizations provide for thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in economic activity throughout the state.

    “It is clear that the arts not only provide cultural and entertainment opportunities for Iowans and visitors, they have a profound impact on our economy,” said Cyndi Pederson, director of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. “They create jobs and business opportunities for Iowans and they attract and retain a highly skilled, creative workforce that high-tech industries are looking for when deciding to relocate or expand in Iowa. We are so pleased that this contribution was recognized by Congress and President Obama with the inclusion of this funding in the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act.”

    04.15.2009: Pique Behind The Curtain

    Well, it's always interesting to take a look at the daily stats from our website server. Yesterday, for some reason, international interest seemed to be piqued and peaked. Here are the unique page views as tabulated for Tuesday:
    • 665 United States
    • 152 (Unknown)
    • 32 China
    • 10 Russia
    • 5 Canada
    • 4 Sweden
    • 3 France
    • 1 Germany
    • 1 Ukraine
    ...Most are probably just random surfers. But, I'm also hoping in some small way to be contributing to the local and global community dance knowledge. I like to think that there's a young dance student somewhere in France or Germany or the Ukraine supplementing their training with our dance tips. Maybe, someday, a random dancer will walk into the studio and thank us for our efforts. In the meantime, we continue to toil and slave and work our fingers to the nubbins (The NUBBINS!o) to get our students to tap into their true, tremendous potential! I'm learning to teach better everyday in every way! (Now, if we could just get our guest teachers from flaking out on us...that'd be a pas in the right direction!o)

    04.14.2009: Audition Action

    For those who hunger for the "roar of the greasepaint...and the smell of the crowd"...
    Auditions for the show The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir will be held at The Playhouse at 6:00 PM on Sunday, April 26.

    The Thunderbolt Kid has roles for 12 men, women, boys, and girls, ages 8-60. The director is John Viars. Performances are June 12-28. Based on the bestselling reminiscence by popular author, Bill Bryson, The Thunderbolt Kid will have its stage debut at The Playhouse. Warm, funny, and ultimately universal, Bryson's story is of his youthful adventures at a simpler time in a place familiar to many of us: Des Moines in the 1950s and 1960s.

    04.13.2009: MPOV on DWT***

    So much for my early "dark horse"! Dag-nab it! DAG and pro partner Kym Johnson have danced their way to an early exit on DWT***. As I mentioned earlier, the comedian impressed me early and I kept waiting and waiting for him to deliver on his promise...but, that's what I get for not betting on the early favorites. So, here are the updated dance rankings from an embittered, older Budweiser former dancer:
    1. Gilles Marini: The Actor has shown no weaknesses on the dance floor since day one! Appealingly humble and gracious, Burke obviously played to the female voters in the audience by starting him off shirtless in his Paso Doble. Then, she deftly teased the potential female vote by adroitly slipping a vest on the Junk Man. But, make no mistake about it! All of Cheryl's maneuvering and posturing is just frosting on very substantial beef-cake dancing. His musical accent and attack more than worthy of a 29 score! We could dispense with the rest of the competition right now because Marini could be declared the early winner by nearly universal audience and judge acclaim! He's Tiger Woods on the dance floor!
    2. Melissa Rycroft:This lady makes me go ga-ga everytime she smiles her way onto the dance floor! Her Paso fan kicks were soaring and glorious. Her back bends passionate and ecstatic. Tony choreographed a creative pose to end the piece. The only visible flaw came in a momentary fumble that we learned later was caused by a wardrobe malfunction. Her heel got caught in her dress. But, she danced right through it and is still in serious contention to be the only dancer with a real chance to derail the juggernaut
    3. Team Shark: The Olympic Gold Medalist benefits from the postive coaching style from partner Mark Ballas. She had a strong frame and adequate rise and fall in her Viennese Waltz. She has good upper and under line with her upper body and tops it off with a killer smile. The question remains is whether she can develop a precocious maturity to add to her obvious physical assets.
    4. Li'l Kim: I could just as easily have switched these last two dancers. The rapper is such a strong performer. The joy of dancing shines through her every luminescent movement. What a hard worker! It's such a pleasure to watch the obvious absolute trust and the incredible working relationship she has in and with professional partner Derek Hough!
    5. Chuck Wick: Love the country singer's competitive fire. He's a little hunched in his upper body. (That's common with non-trained dancers!) His shoulders weaken his frame. His GFF needs to work on fixing the line of his arms. But, he did have better attack.
    6. Ty Murray: The King of the Cowboys keeps having unlucky draws in the style of dances, but, he keeps rising above (my lowered) expectations. But, as Len mentioned, he's still not quite Nureyev, is he? Love his work ethic and competitive fire.
    7. LT: The NFL Hall of Famer seems resigned to low scores. His performance was better, but, he was still a little uncoordinated and flat-footed. His weight needs to be on the ball of the feet even during the heel-leads. That's a difficult concept for even dancers to understand. He started off strong, but failed to deliver. He got weaker and less focused and more off the music as the dance went on. As the judges referenced, the music was difficult for a non-dancer to count and phrase and accent properly.
    8. Steve-O: Pro partner Lacey is obviously trying to capitalize on his early skills as a clown and a mime. This time he was in a Pepe' La Pew outfit. There is something endearing and charismatic about him, he wears (and dances with) his heart on his sleeve. But, he had a tough act to follow (after Marini burnt down the house) and is still tentative and clumsy and uncoordinated in his dancing. He did have a strong portrayal of a meek character.
    ...And, just how low was David Alan Grier's vote total for him to be eliminated after raising his judge's scores? Also for those of you considering an upgrade, I just have to say our considerable investment in an HDTV and continuing massive monthly payment for satellite TV is more than worth it to watch DWT*** in wide-screen digital portrayal.

    04.10.2009: Who's That Finest, Young Teacher?

    Unsolicited testimonial from a CCDC adult dance student:
    "...heard lots about ballet teacher finis jhung so jumped at the chance to get some of his dvds on netflix --lots of familiar and interesting stuff, but one of his first gems was how to work in class with the mirror to get longer, stronger, better--
    "feel what you see, see what you feel"
    ...thought of you and your collection of nuggets..."

    04.09.2009: Not Star, Not Dancing

    Had an email from a co-worker at my non-dancing day-job recently. Seems a local charity's putting together a Dancing With the Stars type fund-raiser and my co-worker wanted me to be our company's "ringer" to blow away the competition! (Not that I'm a "star" to the work-a-day, business world, but, since I'm on the air occasionally, I evidently qualify as an underground "miner celebrity".) Now, I didn't really seriously consider competing because as a former professional dancer, current choreographer and (ahem!o) ballet master, I automatically disqualified myself from the competition. No sense shooting fish in a barrel! (Tho, it might've been fun!) But, I thought I could still participate by offering my services as a judge or to even do a little dance exhibition that hearkened back to my nightclub dancing daze. (Whenever I write "daze" it's usually just a light-hearted play on words, but, in this case, because of my former tendency to "burn the candle at both ends", it's apropos!o) But, when I checked the planned date, it turned out to be when I'm teaching ballet, so I had to send my regrets. However, don't be broken-hearted, disco-fans! Here's a plug for the CCDC 2009 Summer Intensive! I'm scheduled to teach what's known as the American Hustle and the Latin Hustle during the first week of the intensive. I've decided I've waited long enough for enough guys to show interest to hold the workshop. So, unless the girls can round up enough men2boyz, some of the taller girls will have to stand in for males and learn to lead, as well as follow. So, find a pair of leather-bottomed dancing shoes with heels for the girls part...and leather-bottomed flatter dancing shoes for the guy's part. So, you may not be able to watch me "kick up my heels" at that fund-raiser anytime soon, but, I'll probably be "cutting a rug" and demonstrating some old-school disco "touch-dancing" everyday at that workshop! Is that a threat? Or a promise! You be 'da judge!o)

    04.08.2009: MoReViewz

    As I mentioned earlier, finally got a chance to catch up on the second and third episodes of MTV's Taking The Stage. I like this show a lot despite minor quibbles. As I mentioned earlier, it's like a real-life version of the old film and television series Fame centered around Cincinatti's School of the Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA). (Not to be confused with SPCA, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). But, allow me just a couple of cranky old dancer/dance teacher criticisms: First, not enough dancing on the show. It concentrates on the personal feuds and relationships of the young, precocious and prodigiously talented high-school students. I guess that's what brings in the eyeballs to the MTV brand, but, I hope the producers will take on the mission of using their "bully pulpit" to educate and inform the younger viewers about the "creative and performing arts". Secondly, what dancing they do show skews to hip-hop and contemporary and the classical steps they show are mediocre. (That entrechat quatre in the beginning segment is a prime example. Toes need to be pointed more and ankles more strongly stretched in the air. And, everytime they show pointe work, I cringe at the hopping up to and crashing down en pointe. These dancers are limiting their longevity in an already short dance career!) But, what I do like is the tremendous reinforcement and exposure the talented kids are obviously getting by being introduced and in close daily proximity to each other. The Mash-Up Performance Concert, for example, forced hip-hop dancers to collaborate with folk singer/rockers. It brought together ballet dancers with power pop rock proponents. Contemporary dancers with classical musicians. The inter-mingling of diverse artforms and cultural backgrounds could be a tremendously fertile breeding ground for the next generation of artists who will go on to challenge the status quo in the 21st Century. I also like the fact that dancers are obviously required to take music theory and acting. Actors have to take ballet and modern. Musicians have to act and dance. Frankly, I'm jealous. I wish I had such a tremendous opportunity at such a young age. And, I'm wondering what needs to happen for talented kids in this state to have such a golden opportunity at an critical age?

    04.07.2009: Don't Get Me Started...

    So, two of our graduating Seniors took time off from rehearsals for Capital City Dance Center's Don Q this weekend to attend a professional audition for a company that I danced a season for far north of here. They were both invited back to audition again next year, but, that dang recession means too many applicants, not enough positions. (But, hang in there! When I was looking for work, my dancer friends and I would always tell each other: all it takes is one! And, I got my last professional position at the last minute after that season had already begun.) But, instead of focusing on the negative, let's examine the positive of a viable long-term ballet company. How does a small city/large town/hamlet-of-mud-huts manage to afford a professional ballet company when larger metros like ours and others have lost theirs? Part of the answer is three words: "dedicated funding stream". That ballet company in the "freezer chest of the upper midwest" gets the profits generated by a community owned and maintained tourist museum of railroads called "The Depot". Plus, it rehearses and staged many performances rent-free in the Depot's Theater and two dance studios. The only time I performed in the bigger theater downtown was when we did our Nutcracker. The dance school also generated profits that went to subsidize the company. We also did a ton of school shows and toured the region. I remember dancing on a dirt racetrack at the Carlton County Fair in between car races. We performed at high schools, elementary schools and at the Star-Tribune stage at the big State Fair. Anything to spread the word and drive ticket sales. That's also a pattern that allowed the metro to our west to resurrect their company. Once upon a time, both the Capital City and the city across the bluffs had two thriving ballet companies. We cross-pollinated by sharing teachers and choreographers, but, both companies failed for different reasons. Now, the western city has a dance company back. But, it's being helped along by a strong City Theater Company. They share stage costs and staff and subscription lists. It takes creative thinking and driving forces in the community to get a professional ballet company back. Especially in this economy. But, if a city where 'N' stands for "knowledge" and a city where even northerners think it's cold most of the year can figure it out, why can't we?

    04.07.2009: Nu Bricks And Mortar Dance Store

    This was sent to us earlier about new venture opening up this week (No endorsement given or implied):
    "...With the closing of Showbiz in early March, I believe I am not alone in wishing (JodiCee) well, and to enjoy her retirement. We can also thank her for over 30 years of hard work and personalized customer service.

    But like the saying goes, "...with every closing door, a new one opens." All Star Dance Supply Company will be opening up their doors for business April 6, 2009. Jodi and Janni were kind enough to help me with this venture, and I hope to start off where they left so there is minimal gap in service to you. I was able to purchase quite a bit of inventory from Showbiz, but like anything, please bear with me while I wait for my large orders from Capezio, Leo's, Bodywrappers and Swarovski Crystals to come in (which should be in a couple of weeks after I open). We will also be providing rhinestoning services for your convenience. I have attached an informational flier for your reference.

    I look forward to working and building a relationship with each and everyone of you!

    Thank you and enjoy the rest of your week...."

    04.06.2009: DWTS, Week 4

    Well, finally, America finally got two right this past week on DWT*** by knocking out my two lowest ranked so-called stars. And, the producers of the show obviously reading this blog (ahem!o) and didn't inflict another weak, weak dance-off on the viewing public. (Talk about Must-NOT-CTV!) Instead we got a treat by watching actor Gilles Marini and professional partner Cheryl Burke deliver a blistering Argentine Tango again! GM stock just skyrocketed to the top of my leader board based on that performance---unlike GM stock tanking on Wall Street! So, here are my latest DWT*** rankings based on potential and body of work:
    1. Gilles Marini: The actor channeled his inner gaucho pimp to bring great character and panache to his performance. GM had impeccable fast and slow movements that seductively tantalized and left the judges, audience and his partner gasping for more. Effortless, smooth lifts and flickering, lingering footwork. It was hard to tell who was the star and who was the professional in this partnership. Don't bet against a winner. This guy looks like a young Antonio Banderas and does a much better tango than the other actor. He could become the first winner to lead wire-to-wire and help Burke to the first three-peat in the series.
    2. Melissa Rycroft: Another professional level performance with lift after lift after lift. But, I can see a chink in the armor that judge Cary Ann pointed out the other week: she needs a little more attack, a little more real character rather than that polished performer to overtake the front runner. Her flexibility is an asset.
    3. Li'l Kim: The Brooklyn Rapper is a CHAMELEON! She embraces and embodies the character of every dance she's done so far. This time she showcased impressive legwork and sublime line and an adequate frame in a frameless dance. She showed laser-focus and really worked those spit-curls to really capture el sabor of the Argentine Tango.
    4. Team Shark: I really didn't like the Olympic Gymnast's outfit. I would've prefered a poodle skirt and fifties look, but, it would've been hard to perform those round-offs into back- tuck. On the other hand, I'm sure she could've done it and would've knocked the judges' socks off! She's eminently coachable, flexible and a little dynamo. The question is can she show enough maturity in the character portrayal to make a move up the rankings?
    5. David Alan Grier: Good energy, but, a little out of shape for the cardio demand of the lindy-hop. What I like to watch is his obvious enjoyment. He had a fast start in my book, but, appears to be fading in the middle laps.
    6. Ty Murray: The King of the Cowboys did much better than I expected in his Lindy Hop. I thought, because of his stiffness, he would've shone much better in the tango. But, he's got a great attitude and work ethic. Pulled off a good performance. Needs to work on moving his hips. He's deceptively strong so his lifts were the best part of a good effort. Partner Chelsea Hightower is proving to be more than a capable coach and choreographer in her rookie turn on the show.
    7. Chuck Wick: It's always hard to coach and teach a significant other at anything, especially something so personal as dance. So, once again, it's a credit to the country singer that he's put his macho ego on the shelf to listen to girlfriend/star Julianne Hough. He had good attack in movement, but, his poses and pictures are loose and don't hit and hold. He needs to work on that in order to be really considered a "contender".
    8. LT: The NFL Hall of Famer was dropped for a loss in this last performance. Took a step backward from his breakthrough the week before. He looked like a million bucks in that suit, but, danced more like Fitty-Cent. Upper body was a little awkward. I still can't decide whether the choreography was inadequate or authentic. Either way it wasn't performed well.
    9. Steve-O: The MTV Daredevil still hasn't figured out what it means to perform a dance. He was pedantic, pedestrian, flat-footed and a little heavy. And, also, uncomfortable and uncoordinated. I have to agree with the judges about the lack of musicality and timing. Voters should give him a clue and put him out of his misery this week.
    ...And, good riddance to bad dancing. Holly Madison and her annoying nervous laugh should've been shown the door long ago. She let an early mistake ruin her performance, unlike Ty, for example, who covered and recovered from his partner's slip the other week without skipping more than a few beats. No wonder her ex-kicked her to the curb! (I know she supposedly broke it off, but, he's the one that stepped out on her. I think he forced her hand!) And, that laugh alone has got to be grounds for seperation, if not justifiable dance-icide! Now, I'm much more sympathetic for The Woz because he never relied on his looks to make it in this world. I, for one, will miss his sunny good nature, but, I won't miss his uncoordinated dancing. The "geek shall not inherit the earth" after all!
    Finally caught up with the last two episodes of MTV's TTS, but, those reviews will have to wait while I get back to my day-job! Sorry, boss!

    04.03.2009: How Now, Brown Shao-Lynn Princess?

    Ran into the parents of a former CCDC student the other day. For those of you who don't remember The Shaolin Priestess-Princess, she's the one who was accepted to the National Ballet School in Toronto with a "bursary" (scholarship) several years ago. We supported her decision because we couldn't offer her the physical therapy and medical supervision available at the state sponsored school. But, when I asked "how now, brown Shao?", her mother tells me the battle with injuries have continued. A surgery has apparently helped correct one problem, but, others have surfaced. How frustrating! (I wonder how much of that can be traced back to the mediocre-at-best early training she got before she came to CCDC. Too much, too soon maybe?) But, the faculty at NBS apparently still believes in her. She was kept at the school while scores of others were sent home. But, now, that she's "aging out" of the school, she's considering her options. She could stop dancing and go to college or go to post-secondary dance programs in London or the Hague. Her parents tell me they're hoping she gives it at least one more year. I'm pulling for that, too, but, I'm sure we all just want her to be happy and will support whatever she decides. So, what's the "take-away" here for every other CCDC dancer? Take care of your health and appreciate your injury-free dancing. But, learning to prevent and/or deal with injuries is part of your complete dance training. It's highly unlikely you'll go through life without getting some sorta "ouch-ie" along the way. (You could try to just stay in bed all day so you never hurt yourself...but, then, with your luck, a meteorite would come crashing through the roof and land upside your head!) Warm-up well, build strength properly under supervision and get adequate rest and nutrition. And, again, appreciate your health!o)

    04.02.2009: CCDCongrats!o)

    Coupla CCDC patz on de back need to be handed out before we dance much further: First, kudos to Lindy VanderEmmen for acceptance to yet another Ivy League school. She says with the all the scholarship and tuition assistance she's qualified for, it'll actually cost her less than going to an in-state school. Now, she just needs to decide between Princeton and Yale. Told her hard to go wrong in either case, but, incidentally, big article recently about the Princeton Ballet...Also, a big hand to Koi McCutie for an invitation to join her school's National Honor Society. We like to think we had something to do with that since we sent in a letter of recommendation on her behalf. So, both CCDC students exhibiting brains, ballet and beauty in the studio and the school! (Just goes to show that good dancers help make smart students. Hard to get good at ballet without strengthening that gray matter in the process!o) Also, this just in from CCDC Young Children's Dance Division Director Jill Andrews:
    "...I just found out over spring break......Miss Steffie Graaf was approached by the music director of (her church) to dance at all 4 church services (maybe 5). So Steph choreographed her own piece to the music they presented and danced at 4 church services (maybe 5). Isn't that impressive? You have a new choreographer in your midst. Pretty cool. I heard she was gorgeous and danced with a lot of confidence. (It's) a rather huge church to perform at..."
    ...(BTW, this Steffi not to be confused with Andre Agassi's wife! Unless there's something she hasn't told me!o) So, don't be surprised if you see several sets of parents out and about buying more buttons...because they popped so many when their vests swelled with pride recently! Kudoz to doze kidz!

    04.01.2009: Overheard in CCDC Ballet V/VI Classes

    "Normally, we're very pro-fruit and pro-veggies...but these banana-bodies and goober middles have GOT TO GO! The only bananas we want are banana-boat feet! Say DAY-OOOH! But, your hands shouldn't look like a bunch of sick bananas!"

    "Understand your underline! Watch the line UNDER your arms to improve your upper body! Underline and emphasize your dancing!"

    "Frame your jumps! Your arms should act like a beautiful, understated frame to enhance your dance. And less like octopuses in the middle of their death throes!"

    "How many of you thought about the correction from adagio during this allegro combination? (A few hands go up.) Hmmm...that's more than I thought. Which means we have to think about it more obviously!"

    "Toes! Toes! Toes! Pop your toes on your jumps, please!"

    "WHAT are your arms doing? The time for dancing without your arms is long gone!"

    "What's the difference between brise' and assemble sans change'? The beat obviously! But, it has to happen from higher up in your inner thighs!"

    "When you do cabriole does the bottom leg go to the top leg? ...Or does the top leg go to the bottom? The first one, obviously!"

    "So, here's the question! How are you going to get the second leg up if your tushie is back and you're all turned in and your weight's on your heel? The answer? YOU'RE NOT!"

    "You older dancers! I should be seeing a lot more upper body in that combination!"

    03.31.2009: Ballet With A Benefit

    Sent by CCDC Summer Guest Faculty Modern Instructor Kathleen Hurley. Mark your calendars:
    The Joffrey Ballet with the UI Symphony Orchestra
    Friday, September 11, 8 pm
    The Civic Center
    Benefit performance for Hancher Auditorium
    and the UI School of Music

    The enduring relationship between Hancher Auditorium and the Joffrey Ballet has led to many an artistic triumph—from acclaimed world premieres on the Hancher stage to 2007’s whirlwind river-to-river tour of Iowa. On many occasions, including the historic debut presentations of the Joffrey’s Nutcracker, musicians from the UI School of Music have performed with the company. Now, the Joffrey Ballet will dance—and the UI Symphony Orchestra will play—in a benefit performance for both Hancher and the UI School of Music. We invite you to join us for this very special event featuring world-class artistry and built on steadfast friendship.

    The program will include Kettentanz by Gerald Arpino, the late co-founder of the Joffrey Ballet; two works that celebrate the music of Richard Rodgers— …smile with my heart by UI alumnus Lar Lubovitch and Carousel (A Dance) by Christopher Wheeldon, one of today’s hottest choreographers; and Age of Innocence by New York City Ballet soloist-turned-choreographer Edward Liang, to music by Philip Glass and Thomas Newman.

    ...Good dancing for a good cause! Sounds like a "win-win" to me! Now, if they'd just offer some master classes for local students, they could raise more money and add another "win".

    03.30.2009: Putting The "I" In Analysis of DWT***!

    The last two last-minute contestants added to DWT*** are a study in contrasts and similarities. First the similarities: Both are relatively easy on the eyes, both are relatively well-known for their stint on reality television and both are famous for breaking up or being broken up with the men they'd hoped to marry. But, put them on a dance-floor and they become yin-and-the-yang, polar opposites on the spectrum of dance-ability. Holly Madison of Playboy fame has a Barbie Doll look made up of Barbie Doll parts and Barbie Doll hair. All that could be forgiven except that a Barbie Doll probably dances better than she does! (Is that 2 snarky 4 words?) Even professional partner Dimitriy has apparently gotten over the first-rush of excitement of dancing with a Barbie...err...Holly and struggled to find anything positive to say in two post-performance interviews. Unfortunately, for Ms Madison, you can buy many things that begin with the same initials, but, talent and acumen aren't two of them. But, by contrast, Tony must be thanking his lucky "stars" to have gotten former Bachelorette Melissa Rycroft. Her childhood dance training and previous performance experience as a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader shines through every step she performs. I (and the Monday DWT*** discussion group) think she'll start to pull away when the remaining contestants have to start learning and performing two routines in a week. Her work ethic will help seperate her from the pack. And, does anybody else, but, me think it's extra painful to have to watch the dance-off? I think it'll be must-CTV later in the competition when the better dancers start picking each other off, but, for now, it's like watching the same train wreck twice! 24 hours isn't a lotta time to turn that sow's ear into a better silk purse! Having said all that, here's my newly revised "first 2 worst" with notes:
    1. Melissa Rycroft: She's light on her feet and her million-watt smile and million-dollar dancing enlighten the stage. That Bachelor-turned-Heartbreaker made the bonehead move of his life when he walked away from this girl. She'll be fine and is still my pick to end up walking away with the mirror-ball trophy.
    2. Gilles Marini: This hard working actor has natural rhythm and natural line. His momma was in town to see him shake what she gave him! Have yet to see any weak points and the chemistry with professional partner Cheryl Burke is palpable. Does anyone else think she's got more than a little crush on the guy? Who can blame her? What's not to like?
    3. Team Shark: Shawn keeps getting better and better every week. She served notice on the leaders that she'll be in the final mix by tying for the highest scores yet this season
    4. David Alan Grier: (My HD went out during his performance due to weather warnings in the area. How frustrating!) Grier's still my "dark horse" in the competition. I think his professional partner is still figuring out how to bring out his best in her choreography. Once that happens, he could start taking off. But, will it be too little, too late?
    5. Li'l Kim: She's a performer and she's bringing a new level of enthusiasm to the show. Don't discount flexibility as one of her assets as the difficulty increases in coming weeks.
    6. Ty Murray: Also stepping up his game. He covered and recovered like a pro when his partner went down for the count. Every week, he's proving cowboys can dance more than the boot-scootin' boogie!
    7. LT: For the first time, I saw some glimmers of game . This time out he actually reminded me of Emmit a little bit. I don't think he's going to win. But, finally saw some performing quality! He made a quantum leap to get back into the middle of the pack. His competitive spirit and hard work are starting to pay off on the dance floor.
    8. Chuck Wick: really stepping up his game. As I said before, if he keeps listening to his partner, he could go far. Hard for voters to vote against America's sweethearts. But, being called "a contender" by Caryann may be a little over-reaction at this point.
    9. Steve-O: Undeniable charisma and bravado. Great attitude to the competition, but, poor timing with partner and lack of musicality. Second arm just flails around. Unfortunate slip at the end of his fox trot. Seems injuries are taking their toll.
    10. The Woz: This year's audience favorite like Steve Guttenburg. He takes a lickin' and keeps on tickin'! Seems unfazed by some of the lowest scores I've ever seen in the series. But, will the voting public agree with the judges who seem to be tiring of his ability to cling to survival like a (Cloris) leech-man?.
    11. Holly Madison: Best body money can buy, but, poor footwork and weight placement. She dances like she's going through the motions.
    ...and wave goodbye to the Wild Thing star. There always seemed to be something very vulnerable and sad behind the eyes of Denise Richards. Maybe it's my recollection of that backstory of the bitter and contentious highy-publicized divorce she suffered through recently. But, she had "hands like fishies" in her samba and the voting public obviously was not sympathetic...and sent her dancing career to "sleep with the fishies"!...Wow! Two eliminations this week? Will Woz have enough sympathy to stick around? Will enough men pick up the phone to keep I Candy on the show? Will I be able to keep from learning the results before I get to watch the show this weekend? As in the real dance world, I think hard work will win out! And, that could mean Team Shark ends up waiting a while before she heads back to Valley High. (Strange to think I used to watch Shawn duck-walking up the hill between our old dance studio and her old gymnastics studio as part of her training for the Olympics. Now she's front-page entertainment news for deranged armed wackoz stalking her! How weird was that!)
    No Taking The Stage update this week. The unpredictable MTV schedule managed to trick our programming into recording the constant soap opera behind Danity Kane and Puff's constant self-promotion. Why doesn't he or they get on DWT***. My money immediately goes on Shannon of DK!

    03.27.2009: Former Faculty Update!

    ...and, that move to Music City USA appears to be working out for former CCDC Instructor Korny Hortner! Here's an update:
    "...Things are going well here-The bigger things I've done since I moved are the national TaxACT commercial, another set of Mediacom spots, a mailer for Von Maur, the last Keith Urban video (which I think I e-mailed you about) and just recently the new Kellie Pickler video. I'll keep you guys updated as time goes on..."

    03.26.2009: CCDCongrats!o)

    Kudos to 'dose' in order! CCDC's Kitri and the Dryad Fairy both offered the opportunity to continue to be considered for the second company of the Nashville Ballet! This would entail a summer-long audition at the NB ballet intensive, but, with absolutely no guarantees at the end. (Talk about "dancing for your dinner"! It's a dancer's life! Get used to it! Rejection is so personal! Acceptance seems so sublime and divine!) That's apparently different from the "invitation" and summer scholarship that Basilio received to be in that company, but, a notable achievement, nonetheless! He was also being courted for Ballet Austin's second company. Also, GitUrFaShawn informs us he'll be auditioning soon for a professional ballet company that I danced a season for in my prehistoric past, before the dawn of time. Wouldn't it be ironic for me to be able to return to the "scene of the crime" these many years later to watch him make his professional debut? (Hopefully, all the bill-collectors and angry boyfriends up north have short memories!o) Merde to everyone in their efforts!

    03.25.2009: Overheard in CCDC Break Classes

    "There are no Switzerlands in your body parts when it comes to your dancing. No neutrality. It's either helping you or hurting you!"

    (To another teacher) "She burns to dance with a quiet fire. It's our job to fan those flames properly."

    "Falling is gravity's way of telling you you're off-balance. If it weren't for gravity, you would never fall. If it weren't for gravity, you would never know you're off balance. Thank gravity and fix your balance!"

    "Earn your tiara! Earn your crown! Stand tall and dance proudly!"

    "Show me the lines of your neck! Neck like a swan! Arms like wings! Legs legs!"

    "Fire off the three stages of your rocket in quick sequence in your big jumps! Don't be like the Hawaiian Space Program and fire them off all together! And, don't aim that rocket down!"

    "Use your preparation for acceleration and build to a better jump! It's not just decoration! It's not just movement for movement's sake!"

    "It's easier to balance a top that's turning than one that's still. Use that theory to stabilize your pirouettes! Centrifugal force is our friend!"

    03.24.2009: It's Not "Ballet Dance", It's...

    No CCDC dance class tonight? Here's a rare chance to catch a live performance of world-dance in the Capital City:
    Capital City Dance News Service – The Art of Bellydance – the exhilaratingly vibrant new show from Miles Copeland's world-acclaimed Bellydance Superstars – will debut when the troupe deploys on a very special 2009 U.S. tour, set to arrive in the Capital City tonight. Tickets to the show ($32 adults, $20 students with ID) are available now at the Hoyt Sherman Place Box Office, online or at all Ticketmaster outlets.

    The Bellydance Superstars have been at the forefront of the dramatic worldwide growth in prestige and popularity of the art of Bellydance itself, taking this once largely solo dance and ancient art of Middle Eastern culture into the 21st Century mainstream as a major theatrical dance extravaganza appealing to a wide spectrum of dance enthusiasts.

    Featuring bold new choreography, exquisite costumes and new production elements, The Art of Bellydance builds on the troupe’s renowned reputation in highlighting a variety of bellydance styles and unique fusions painting bellydance with a broad palette in a way the world's major stages have never played host to before.

    The Art of Bellydance all-star cast includes: Sonia, Adoré, Petite Jamilla, Sabah, Moria, Kami Liddle, Nathalie, Colleen, Cecilia, Zoe Jakes, Lauren, Samantha, Sarah and Issam.

    Ever-evolving, ultra-innovative and mega-popular, the Bellydance Superstars have continued to wow crowds and break new ground in 2008, proving the troupe can compete head on with the likes of mainstream dance shows such as Riverdance.

    More info here.

    03.23.2009: Putting The Me In Media!

    So, here's the updated first-to-worst list after Week Two on DWT***:

    Melissa Rycroft/Tony Dovolani:
    Her obvious dance training is her strength. She's a performer, charismatic and she's going to benefit from the sympathy vote after being dumped on national television.

    Gilles Marini/Cheryl Burke:
    This little-known actor is a natural dancer. And, don't count out the ultra-competitive Burke from taking the Junk Man to the top.

    David Alan Grier/Kym Johnson:
    The comedian is my dark horse. I rank him so high based on a very, very smoooth first performance. But, he didn't improve as much from week one to week two.

    Shawn Johnson/Mark Ballas:
    The gymnast has obvious skills and strengths. Her flexibility, coachability and charisma have her high on my list. But, her 15 minutes of fame are fast fading. And, she's not such a little girl anymore. Will that affect the votes?

    Li'l Kim/Derek Hough:
    The rapper stepped up her game. She went from hip-hop villain to debutante chillin' from Week 1 to Week 2. Her versatility may be her best asset.

    Ty Murray/Chelsea Hightower:
    The erstwhile King of the Cowboys also raised his game up in less than a week. The quickstep was more his style. It would've been interesting to compare his progress with his now-injured wife. (Speaking of, Jewel's vocals on the results show were much stronger than the last time I'd heard her.)

    Chuck Wicks/Julianne Hough:
    The duo seems to be avoiding some built-in problems when dancing with a significant other. Very, very difficult to go from personal to professional relationship. But, he's obviously deferring to Julianne on the dance floor. As he rightly should. The more he listens, the further he'll go.

    Denise Richards/Maksim Chmerkovskiy:
    The actress also stepped up a little. But, I think that Max needs to take off the kid gloves and use a little "tuff luvin'" to get the Bond Girl to achieve a dancing break through. She's obviously easy on the male voters' eyes, but, she needs to act more like a good dancer to get the skeptical female backing.

    Steve Wozniak/Karina Smirnoff:
    The Apple core is hands down winner for most likable star. He could also be one of the least-gifted as a dancer. It's only a matter of time until voters hit shuffle on this iPod!

    L-T/Edyta Sliwinska:
    Lawrence Taylor doesn't look like he'll follow in the footsteps of his fellow NFL athletes: Jason Taylor or Emmit Smith. But, he did step-up in his second effort. Was it enough? May be 2 little, 2 late!

    Steve-O Glover/Lacey Schwimmer:
    The MTV reality star seemed to have benefitted from the sympathy vote. His back injury could also trigger a backlash if voters decide to put him out of his misery.

    Holly Madison/Dmitriy Chaplin:
    This Playboy model is most famous for being someone's girlfriend. She gained fame as a result of genetics, cosmetics and plastic surgery. Is it any wonder she creates such visceral distaste in a large portion of the female voting public?

    Also, caught the premiere of MTV's Taking The Stage, which follows five seniors at Cincinnati's School for the Creative and Performing Arts. It's like a real-life Fame which is based on another high school of the performing arts, New York's Bedford-Sty. There was even a real-life lunch-room dance-off that recalled the movie's famous cafeteria dance jam. (If you haven't seen Fame, the movie, it's a classic, kydz! Also, a rumor on the blogosphere about Debbie Allen reviving the franchise for a 21st Century Fame TV series!o) But, am I being hyper-critical of the aspiring ballerina? Do I need to take off my dance-teacher specs or did anyone else notice a tendency to flailing arms, bent knees and poor placement? Jasmine wants to get in to Juilliard and may very well get her wish. If she was any good, she'd bypass the school and head directly to her dream company, DTH, or its apprentice/trainee program without passing GO, without spending $20,000-plus to go to the school. In the first episode, the upstart, up-and-comer pop-and-locker dethrones the established hip-hop group in the school's talent competion. But, the big winner was the singer-songwriter. Mia had to face a break-up from her boyfriend on national television just before she went on. But, she successfully channeled the emotion from that turmoil to add to her performance. If you can do that, she just proved to me she's got what it takes to be a star. And, is it too much to ask for MTV to try to avoid the stereotype Kween Bee Boy dancer?

    03.20.2009: Web Lynx, The Sequel

    The sad recession fx keep coming:
    "...Nevada Ballet Theatre announced it was reducing the company from 31 to 22 dancers, laying off several administrative staff members and leaving three positions unfilled. ..."
    Bad news if you're looking to break in to the ballet industry. Read 'em and weep at the Mercury News.
    What's up down under:
    "...with nearly one hundred dancers on stage, La Bayadère will be far and away the most spectacular ballet presentation Brisbane, indeed Australia, has ever seen...."
    This "story" reads like a press release at the Warwick Daily News.
    An update on one of my (and Mark Morris' apparently) favorite ballet companies:
    "...And he's been happy to serve as its mouthpiece, blithely proclaiming San Francisco Ballet the best troupe in North America. That statement is Morris at his most blustery and contentious. But on Friday at the opening of the Ballet's all-Morris program, there was no arguing San Francisco's dancers are among his foremost interpreters..."
    Catch the update from one of my favorite newspapers, the San Francisco Chronicle
    Real dancers rehearse with dancer-wanna-beez:
    "..."Hearing Wes (Chapman) give the same advice to our students as we do helps reiterate what they need to work on and ultimately helps us teach," said Kristi Johnson, artist-in-residence. "It also gives them an example of what their bodies should look like if they want to join a professional company."..."
    Read about the ABT II residency from the Jacksonville News

    03.19.2009: Ice-Breaker, Wind-Breaker

    It's getting warm enough nowadays for me to break out the new CCDC windbreaker rather than that bulky arctic parka. So, I was wearing it to my day-job the other day when a newer co-worker asked if I was a dancer. Her first clue was the CCDC "aspire higher dancer logo" on my back. Turned out she actually remembered me from my professional dancing daze. (I told her she must be one of the last ones remaining!o) She says she recalled me warming-up in the halls of the old studios before class when she used to drop off her kids at the ballet school. So, wear that CCDC logoware as much as possible. It's good publicity for the school that someone so kewl as u would come here! And, you never know what a conversation-starter it might turn out to be!

    03.18.2009: Sharing Excess of Success

    Big kudoz to several CCDC students:
    • Rocky Balburger invited to year-round enrollment at the Kirov School in DC. Financial aid decision pending.
    • Kitri asked to return to audition next year with Memphis Ballet. No openings currently. (Durn depressing recession!)
    • Basilio invited to join Nashville Ballet II. That would involve his taking advantage of full scholarship to their summer program. He's getting more info on that soon.
    ...Pass your congrats on to all! Here's to merde 4 more!o)

    03.17.2009: Commitment 2 Excellence!

    Princess SarAurorah goes to school with a blue-chip basketball recruit. Harrison Barnes led his team to the 3A state championship this weekend. (Ames High aims high!) He's only a junior, but, coaches from some big division one schools from around the country are already showing up at his games to scout him. What's that got to do with dancing? Well, it's not just natural talent and height that's generating such interest in Barnes. It's hard work as well. In an interview, he said he shoots 500-shots a day during the summer to improve his game. Would you be willing to do that level of commitment to get to a world-class level in dance? 500-pirouettes a day? 500-entrechat cinq or six a day? 500-cabrioles a day? And, NBA superstar Kobe Bryant says he shoots a thousand shots a day during the off-season. How committed would you have to be to have artistic directors from "division one" ballet companies showing up to scout you here at CCDC? What would you have to do to get Peter Martins of NYCB show up to take a look at you? Helgi Tomasson of SFB? Peter Boal of PNB? Do you have what it takes to do 500-of anything every day this summer? Besides 500 keystrokes on FaceBook or MySpace? How about starting off with fifty royales and building up? (Just make sure you get enough rest between to recuperate.)

    03.16.2009: DWT*** Wk 1 Review

    Trying to keep from learning the results of DWT*** is practically a full-time job! Especially with a local celeb elevated to national status again! But, I did make it a point to watch the premiere ASAP (almost a week after it aired). And, at first glance, the contestants seperated themselves into three categories: competitive, non-competitive and middle-of-the-pack. The big wild-card as usual is the built-in voting fan base each star brings with them. But, this is how it breaks down to me:
    • Actor Gilles Marini/Cheryl Burke
    • Ex-Bachelor Fiance Melissa Rycroft/Tony Dovolani
    • Comedian David Alan Grier/Kym Johnson
    • Gymnast Shawn Johnson/Mark Ballas

    • Rapper Li'l Kim/Derek Hough
    • Country Singer Chuck Wicks/Juliane Hough
    • NFL Hall-of-Famer L-T/Edyta Sliwinska
    • Former Rocker Belinda Carlisle/Jonathan Roberts
    • Actress Denise Richards/Maksim Chmerkovskiy

    • King of the Cowboys Ty Murray/Chelsea Hightower
    • Former Hefner girlfriend Holly Madison/Dmitriy Chaplin
    • Computer Guru Steve Wozniak/Karina Smirnoff
    • MTV's Steve-O Glover/Lacey Schwimmer

    ...When Marini started dancing, I declared to everyone watching, "We have us a leader in the clubhouse!" I said pretty much the same thing when Rycroft took the stage. Her advantage is obvious ballet training despite the 48-hours advance notice. (Her promenade en attitude pose' was a thing of beauty!o) Grier was Smooooth! And, Johnson may still be short, but, she's not a little girl anymore. She's starting to suffer from that older gymnasts' curse, reaching the age where she's starting to put on a lotta muscle. But, she still danced surprisingly well. And, nice to see former SYTYCD alum Hightower resurfacing on DWT*** along with Chaplin. They might bring along their own voting blocs. But, any of my bottom four there could be the first to go tomorrow night.

    03.12.2009: Rare Celestial Phenomenom

    Starving fans of CCDC Instructor Alissa H. take note. She's STARRING in this vehicle with a full supporting cast this weekend:
    Hurley & Dancers children's theater/dance show this weekend!

    The Westminster Fine Arts Series and Hurley & Dancers present Poppy’s Dancing Puppets based on the story by Patricia Lee Gauch. Come visit the dollmaker’s whimsical world and see his latest creations come to life! Featuring actor Mark Gruber with Hurley & Dancers and live music from Opus 3 directed by Julie Murphy. Children are invited to bring their favorite doll or stuffed animal to place on the stage to become part of the play’s magical story. Family friendly.

    Funded in part by a grant from the State Arts Council.

    Poppy’s Dancing Puppets
    March 13 and 14 at 7 p.m.
    Westminster Presbyterian Church Fine Arts Series
    In collaboration with actor Mark Gruber
    Live music by chamber ensemble Opus 3
    Free admission
    More info here and here.

    03.11.2009: Spring Brake Tipz!

    Have fun! But, keep these e-suggestions in mind:
    The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) wants every student to remember spring break positively - fun in the sun, warm beaches, and crystal clear water following months of hard work and dedication. We DO not want anyone’s spring break adventure to be remembered as a terrible medical emergency nightmare.

    As vacationers prepare for spring break, keep in mind, not everything is a tropical paradise, especially when it comes to your health.

    “Emergency physicians see so many serious injuries or illnesses during spring break vacations,” said Dr. Nick Jouriles. “A lot of those are a direct result of bad personal choices that could have easily been avoided.”

    A few extra things you throw in your suitcase can make the difference between a vacation to remember versus one you try to forget:

    • DO wear sunscreen, at least SPF 15 or higher. Apply it generously throughout the day.
    • DO wear a hat outdoors and a good pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes.
    • DO wear a life vest when boating.
    • DO swim with a buddy and try to stay close with people you trust at all times.
    • DO drink plenty of water, especially when in the sun or if you are sweating heavily.
    • DO know your surroundings, who you can call for emergencies, and where exactly local emergency departments are located.
    • DO get enough sleep,
    • DON'T overdo the activities. Sleep deprivation equals bad decision making.
    • DO use your own judgment. If you’re with a group involved in questionable activities resist the urge to join in.
    • DO take any medications and proof of insurance along with you.
    • DO get proper training from experts before taking part in athletic or skilled activities like surfing, water-skiing, and scuba diving.
    • DO carry a cell phone with you at all times in case of emergencies.
    • DO trust your instincts. You know what’s right, you know what’s wrong.
    • DON'T drink alcohol if you’re underage.
    • DON'T binge drink. Alcohol poisoning will almost certainly land you in the emergency department, or even worse.
    • DON'T assume everything is okay if you feel like you’re getting ill. If you feel ill, it’s your body’s way of saying, slow down. Listen to it.
    • DON'T go to an isolated place with a stranger or someone you do not fully trust.
    • DON'T just think about the impulse, think about the consequences.

    “We want everyone to have the time of their lives, but not at the cost of their health and safety,” said Dr. Jouriles. “We DO not want to have to treat you inside an emergency department when you should be out having fun.”

    For more information about heat stroke, sunburns, alcohol poisoning and other related topics, go to the ACEP website.

    03.10.2009: Overheard in CCDC Classes:

    "Inside shoulder down!"

    "Good answer! Wrong question!"

    "It's not whether you end up in the right place or not. It's HOW you get there!"

    "Square off your upper body on your tendu derriere or arabesque! You can open it up later, but, you have to find the opposition first."

    "Pull in that lowest stomach! Lengthen your lower back! The pelvis should feel like it's tucked under!"

    "Your muscles should already be sore after that combination! If not, you're not working hard enough!"

    "The good news is: you're starting to do that correction we've been working on for so long. The bad news is: you're only starting now to do that correction we've been working on so long."

    "That one magic correction you're waiting for? The one that'll start solving everything? It's the one you've been hearing so long you're ignoring it."

    "Don't ask me good questions just to show everyone you can ask good questions. Ask me questions that'll make a real difference in your dancing!"

    03.09.2009: Mad About Mediancing!

    Some CCDC students started discussing the results of ABDC the other day before class and before I had a chance to watch the recording. So, I was forced to stick my fingers in my ears and go "blah-blah-blah-don't tell me who won I don't wanna no don't tell me-blah-blah-blah" until I realized nobody was talking anymore and everyone was just staring at me. Okay...Awkward. Just a little bit. Anyway...I was finally watching the finale' this weekend and had thoroughly enjoyed the judges' picks for combined krewz. But, I had a flash of intense deja vu all over again just before the results were announced. OMG! Quest Krew was gonna lose! I said as much to my viewing partner. But, she disagreed. But, I was so certain, my deja vu was so strong, I actually bet her that the Beat Freakz were going to win! But, as you all probably know by now, I was wrong. As I said at the time, I couldn't lose: I wanted Quest to win (Which raises an interesting question. Would I have been pulling for them as much if I hadn't invested so much time in the three guise from SYTYCD?) But, anyway as I was paying off my loss by folding two weeks of laundry this weekend, I vowed next time I'm gonna eavesdrop on the results before I bet with anyone about anything!...So, the premiere of DWT*** is tonight. I will bet this: the first to go will be the modelz. Look good, can't dance, not too brite. The only exception to that first rule was spokesmodel Brooke Burke, but, I think she actually had some hula training in her native Hawai'i when she was younger. So, she had a head start on swiveling those hips that came in handy during the salsa and cha-cha. She's the exceptional that proved the rule...And, already have the DVR programmed to record Taking The Stage. That's the reality show starring five up-and-coming talents from Cincinatti's High School for the Performing and Creative Arts. Which brings up another question: why don't we have a Fame school in this state? And, why aren't I running it?

    03.06.2009: Trying 2 Keep Track

    Apparent of a CCDC alum away at college keeping us all in the loop:
    "...(Zoobergirl) is dancing this weekend before they go on tour. If you go to the University website you can see the news release for Dancers In Company..."
    ...kudoz to Zarah and obviously proud parents! (And sis-boom-bah!o)

    03.06.2009: Rx 4 Dance Crampz

    A buddy at my day-job came limping in to work the other day. I asked him what was wrong and Jack said he was suffering from the after-effects of a severe calf cramp. He said stretching hadn't helped and he joked that it was so bad, people were asking him if he were going to audition for the part of Chester in the Gunsmoke remake! (Don't worry kidz! An extremely dated reference! Old folks' humor!o) At first, I told him to get some potassium in his body, eat a banana. He said he thought of that, but, the cafeteria was out of fresh fruit. Then, I told him to try drinking some water. He thought about it for a second and then said he would. He lurched off and I went back to work. A few minutes later, he came back with a cup in his hand and thanked me. He said almost as soon as he drank the water, he could feel his calf pain start to subside. So, the pointe for dancers is this: Don't let yourself get so dehydrated. Experts say your sense of thirst (especially in winter) isn't good enough to warn you when your tank starts running on empty. If you're active and you start feeling thirsty, your body's already suffering. So, heading into the warmer months, make sure you keep sipping water while you're dancing. Remember you can always bring a bottle of water into the CCDC studios. But, no soda or juice. So, eat your bananas. Drink your water. Dance easily, gracefully and without pain now and into the future, Chester! (Not you NRGzr Bunny! The other one!o)

    03.05.2009: Birth Announcement!

    Belated kudos to CCDC Instructor Ms Cindy and family! Safely delivering a 7lb 13oz, 19 3/4" girl in the last few daze. They're reported to be considering several names...all start with "Ch" to go along with their three other sons' names: Chace, Chazz and Chaden. My suggestions aren't getting much support. What's wrong with Chamiqua or Chagrin Chamberz? ...How 'bout Chalice? Charisma? Or Cha-Cha-Chia! All kidding aside, everyone's reported to be doing fine!

    03.05.2009: Czech This Out!

    The contributions keep coming from D.Kommissar:
    "...Thought you might be interesting in the following youtube video. I searched for Dmitry Bulkin and Irina Kazakova and here is one of the videos I found. If you were to search just the name Dmitry Bulkin you would be able to find so many interesting videos of his performances, truly an inspiring and creative artist...

    03.04.2009: America's Best Dance Krew

    "You're only as good as your weakest member"...that's the comment from ABDC Judge Shane "I luv bootie pop!" Sparks this past week. And, the last two krewz standing in the competition are living proof, strong from top to bottom. The reason the step krew failed to make the final three is just one guy had a brain cramp at the wrong moment, exactly when he was center stage and everyone else was dancing full out. He was the weakest link in a very strong chain. And, that's why I think Quest Krew will take the cake at the live finale this week. Three of the members have been strong enough to make impressive showings on SYTYCD: Hok, Dominic and Ryan. And, they may not even be the best b-boyz in their own krew. As I wrote earlier, I fully expect members of the old Spyder Krew to make it onto other reality dance shows. That familiarity breeds contentment with voters. Plus, the krew just keeps pushing the envelope of human possibility! Back somersault aerial from a sitting position? Press to handstand from a back plank? Air flares from your elbows? You've got to be kidding me! My jaw dropped repeatedly this last time out. The B-Boy art-form demands constant creativity and innovation and the Quest for fire is en fuego! Don't get me wrong! I like the last girlz standing. I think Beat Freaks are all fierce and all fighterz, (they deliver head spinz, flares and aerials as well as most male cruise) but, the dance-form demands strength and explosiveness that Y-chromosomez have the edge in. Voting's still open as I write thise at MTV.Com. But, my vote's already in...and, been in since they first exploded on stage. This is my Quest. I'm following those starz! If the Krew isn't the last clan standing, the American voting public doesn't know its poppin' from its lockin'...Also, just watched my time-shift of several Made episodes on MTV (PBS was in the middle of its interminable fund-begging!o) Former pop-locker Mr Freeze attempted to turn an Asian-American geek (Not necessarily a redundant term!) into a hip-hop hoodlum with minimal success. My question is: why didn't they get someone besides a dance icon from the seventies to teach the kid? How about Dom, Ryan or Hok? Kamilah from SYTYCD actually showed up to tutor another Made victim earlier. Was she busy? And, before I wrap up this media round-up, nice to see an actual regional high school featured (Kennedy High School) on Made as a local girl tried to learn "beat boxing". They actually shopped at Hip Hop Heaven to get her some street ragz! And, is it my imagination, or all the kidz on that show guilty of whine and poses and pity parties? Not hatin'! Just sayin! (Okay, end blogspeak!)

    03.03.2009: Scuttlebutt Swirling

    Interesting conversation reported at a recent professional ballet company audition according to Ekaterine W00tang. She says there were a significant number of professional dancers auditioning from other companies. Could be a sign of the recession's sobering impact on performing arts around the country. But, here's the more interesting part: Katya says one fellow auditioner told her she had already been accepted to a trainee program at another ballet company. There wasn't going to be any pay, but, she said when the new artistic director came on board, he immediately axed the apprentice/trainee programs to save money. How frustrating is that for an aspiring dancer? Don't count those chickens until the paychecks been cashed. (And, even then those paychecks may not keep coming. My second year in the company, the dancers were forced to take a six-week unpaid layoff after Nutcracker. Some dancers didn't come back. But, I was fortunate to be able to increase my hours at the radio station. Me and Gloria Gaynor will survive!o) And, my question is: how much are you saving when you don't even pay the dancers? Sure there are some administrative costs, but, constant community outreach is a prerequisite to growing your arts audience and grass-roots support. And, the lack of entry or pre-entry level positions into professional careers will force a lot of potential artists to investigate other options. What can we do to help the arts weather this recessionary "perfect storm"? Support your local arts. Buy a ticket. Attend a show. Bring a friend. Volunteer. Make a donation. Make some calls. If you don't have money, you have sweat equity. It takes a village to support the arts.

    03.02.2009: Nice 2 Have Options

    Congrats to NuSnoozyWoozy, who just got this in the email bin:
    "Greetings from Boston Ballet School. I hope this email finds you well. With the 2009 Audition Tour behind us, our audition teams have returned to Boston, and have had a chance to turn their attention to the issue of inviting top students from the tour to train year-round at Boston Ballet School. Based on your very impressive audition and acceptance into the Summer Dance Program, I would like to offer you a guaranteed place in our year-round pre-professional intensive training program should you be interested in continuing your training beyond completion of the Summer Dance Program."

    02.27.2009: Price of passion

    One ballet mom keeps us all in the loop:
    "...I had a phone call from a young man who is a trainee at (Large National Ballet Company). His purpose was to encourage (my daughter) to enroll in their summer intensive and answer questions about the intensive. (my interpretation = they are struggling to fill the spaces)

    However, I talked with him a bit about the trainee program. There are 15 trainees, 10 women and 5 men. He has been a trainee for 2 years. They are considered year-round students at (Ballet Company) and also dance some corps roles in big ballets like Nutcracker.

    There is no compensation or stipend for trainees. No pointe shoes are provided. He says the schedule is demanding, and most trainees don't have time or regular hours to work, so they rely on their families to support them..."

    02.27.2009: Chikz Rule!o)

    This looks interesting:
    "Femme Fatale

    The First All-Woman Art Show at the Instinct Gallery
    March 2, 2009 – March 27, 2009

    Opening Reception: Saturday, March 7, from 7pm-Midnight

    Come view the latest works from local and regional artists:

    Rachel Buse - Kelsey Cliche - Susan Czechowski - Lee Ann Conlan - Rudy Fig - Shannon Gallagher - Maggie Gulling - Michelle Holley - Amanda Jo Johanson - Tonya Kehoe - Jenny Knavel - Katt Mahr - CL Martin - Molly Murphy - Chelsea Pickett - Jessie Ramey - Whitney Warne - Emily Svec Body Decor - Murals by Caspa D Ghost

    St. Vitus and the Taxi Dancers

    Fire & Hoops:
    Ashley Bertling & Liz Niec"

    02.26.2009: KC Barbecue! (Maybe!o)

    Time 4 an update on the CCDC student audition front:
    • Rocky Balboaberger now accepted to Kansas City Ballet Summer Intensive. Also still in contention for a scholarship there!
    • Hope+Charity Jungenfurter also accepted to KCB!
    • Carmen Elderpatty also accepted to KCB to go along with acceptance to Kirov Ballet Summer Intensive!
    • Lissa Edyta also known as Luna from Altuna now off the wait list and accepted to Kirov!
    ...Kudos to all! And, a big merde to Ekaterine! She's doing a company class as a professional audition today!o)

    02.25.2009: Put On A :o) Face!

    Parents take note!:
    (Courtesy Newswise) — Past behavior is generally considered to be a good predictor of future behavior, but new research indicates that may not be the case in the development of depression, particularly among adolescent girls.

    University of Washington social scientists tracked first- and second-graders for seven years and found that anti-social behavior among girls and anxiety among both sexes predicted depression in early adolescence. Surprisingly, early signs of depression were not predictive of adolescent depression.

    “Anti-social behavior has typically been viewed as a big problem among boys, so it tends to be ignored among girls. Boys with early anti-social behavior typically go on to show more anti-social behavior while girls may turn inward with symptoms, morphing into other mental health problems such as depression eating disorders, anxiety and suicidal behavior during adolescence ,” said Professor James Mazza.

    “When all the risk factors were analyzed, anti-social behavior and anxiety were the most predictive of later depression. It just may be that they are more prevalent in the early elementary school years than depression.” He noted that depression and anxiety share a number of symptoms.

    Mazza said that early adolescence is when the first episode of depression typically occurs and that’s when it has been noted that gender difference occur, with more girls than boys experiencing depressive symptoms. Children can be assessed at 6 and 7 years of age, but depression is not often recognized or diagnosed until the middle school years.

    “One finding from this study that is a mind-grabber is that young children can identify themselves as being anxious and depressed,” said Mazza. “This suggests giving health surveys in early elementary school is a good idea and we should talk to kids in the first and second grades because they can give us valuable information.”

    02.24.2009: Media Mentionz!

    As the kidza would blog: OMG!o( Wassup with ABDC??? Strykerz All Starz have been booted off the competition!!! This group was my pick to face off against that other all star crew, Quest Krew. Now the ladies out-number the men with Beat Freakz and the chikz in Fly Khickz making the semi-finals. But, a single mental misstep and the Stepperz left the door open for the Fly Girlz to Khick down the door! The judges had no choice, but, to Stryk the All Starz from the battle royale. And, the comments from judge Shane Sparks anointing the BFF in BF as "how about let's call you 'America's Best Dance Crew'?" means tough sledding ahead in the other krewz' Quest for a championship. But, my moneyz still on any krew with Ryan, Hok and Dom! (Watch for some other of those krew members to eventually make the top twenty of SYTYCD!o) Now here's a tip for those of you who don't get cable or satellite, you can watch full episodes of ABDC on-line here. Ketchup on all the spicy dancing and c if you don't agree ABDC blows SSoD out of the H2-uh-oh! (Okay, end blogspeak!o)

    02.23.2008: Wrestling With Destiny

    Watched some of the television coverage of the state high school wrestling championships this weekend. I'm a former high school wrestler, assistant coach and fill-in ref in my hometown. This is before I took up dancing in college. Every year I watch the high school tournament, though, I'm instantly transported back to my teen years and wondering what I "coulda, shoulda, woulda" done different to end up with a state championship medal. I was undefeated my senior year through the regular season, won a pre-season tournament and ranked near the top at the end of the year...but, I got really sick before the conference meet and, although I qualified for state, I drew the eventual winners in the early rounds of both tournaments and, in my weakened state, couldn't muster enough to win. I always wonder if I had started training a year earlier if I would've ended up standing at the top of the championship podium. So, how does this relate to dancing? The same situation repeated itself in ballet. The only males who were better than me were the ones who started dancing at a younger age. There were actually a lot of us male professional dancers who took our first ballet class in college and went on to dance at a regional level...and, I was one of the best, if not the best of that bunch. (A-hem! Very modest, too!o) But, the boys who had started younger than me were the ones I was always chasing. Now, the question is: all the things I did start when I was young I eventually abandoned. (Judo, guitar, tennis, drum lessons) Would I have quit wrestling or dance if I had started younger? (My brother asked my mom once about ballet lessons. He'd just read a report that the best athletes were dancers. But, she just snorted and said "boys don't dance".) So, here's a suggestion to all those parents of sons out there. Do you privately think they're "too soft" as one step-dad confided in me? Not getting enough exercise? Get them involved in hip hop, jazz, tap or ballet! Wondering if they'll be social enough? Too shy around girls? Dance classes are the answer! They may eventually abandon their early pursuits as I did, but the mind-body coordination, flexibility, self-discipline, time-management and musicality will serve them well in all their other pursuits. Everything's easier after ballet I often say. Maybe even easy enough to win that state championship medal that's always eluded me!

    02.20.2009: Brush With 2Gr8ness!

    Another close call to hooking up with the Golden Girl. A local advertising agency was looking for a place with "mirrors and barres" to shoot a promo with the Beijing Olympian and her DWT*** partner. One of the agency directors is a close friend of a CCDC faculty member. So, she set it up and we were all set to rent to the agency and have 2GSJ and Mark Ballas and production crew in studio this week. But, the deal fell through at the last minute because of our dance surface. At great expense, we had installed a textured artificial controlled-slip surface designed for multiple dance forms in all our studios. But, the agency wanted bare wood. (When will ballroom catch up with the latest 20th century innovations?) So, you won't be seeing the CCDC dance logo in the background of any TV promos anytime soon. And, speaking of DWT***, a co-worker mentioned what helped The Shawnster in Beijing may end up hurting her in Hollywood. Specifically, the diminuitive dynamo is so vertically-challenged. True, she's reportedly grown two inches since the Chinese Olympics, but, she's still short of cracking five feet. Even with heels on that will force Ballas to appear to hunch over to partner the gold medalist. Wasn't there a former NBA or NFL player who was criticized for the same thing with his much smaller professional partner? BTW here's a tip from a former dancer friend of mine who had to stalk the catwalk in six-inch heels between ballet companies: just do it all on demipointe and don't think about putting the heels down at all. And, that brings us back to getting cross-trained in ballet to improve your ballroom. Still waiting for that call to CCDC for private ballet coaching to give Golden Girl a leg up in the competition. But, I guess at this pointe that's as likely to happen as having 2GSJ tumble across the stage in a local Nutcracker...again. Apparently, she did do it at least once when she was younger. DWT*** on ABC premieres March 8th? 9th?

    02.19.2009: Dance Store Shut Down

    Here's the latest on the local dance supply store shutdown:
    "Big savings beginning Monday February 23rd at Show Biz Dance Supply!!!

    It has been great to see everyone who has come in to Show Biz over the past two weeks! It has been wonderful to share memories and chat during that time. The great part is THERE IS STILL LOTS OF INVENTORY LEFT and plenty of fantastic savings to be had!! Starting this coming Monday (2/23) we will mark things down to 40% off. So come in and get those deals while the things you want (upcoming recitals or next year's season) are still in-stock!

    Also, if you have loyalty cards, you need to redeem them THIS WEEK as beginning on 2/23 the loyalty cards WILL NO LONGER BE REDEEMABLE.

    Thank you again for your support during the store closing liquidation sale and especially for the support over the past 30 years!

    Going out of business sale!!!!!!!

    Remember, store savings includes fixtures & furniture too!!!!"

    ...Haven't been there myself, but, Donya Quixote reported last week that she wasn't impressed with what was left in the inventory. But, she also says parents might be able to find dance supplies in smaller sizes left. Already getting e-mails from former staff that've moved on to other venues. Just another sign of how the webz taking its toll on bricks-and-mortar sites. Let that be a lesson to every other local retailer...even dance studios---Though I think cyber-dance lessons are a little problematic! Still mulling teaching partnering in a video podcast with DVD to follow. Aim it at serious dance students who don't have access to a pas de deux class like we have here at CCDC. Whaddya think? Would you subscribe? Would you buy something like that?

    02.18.2009: Audition Update Ad Infinitum

    Okay, here's the latest update on acceptances to national programs by CCDC students: Kudos to the Twyster Twynz---Syk Skyllz and Da Card Shark for acceptances to the Joffrey NYC Summer Intensive. Cardigan Grrl has also been invited back to the Kirov Ballet Summer Program in Washington! Also, a big pat on the back to Mmmadd Skyllz! (No blood relation to Syk, only dance-related!o) Mmmadd's been wait-listed to the SFB school. For you non-dancers, that's not an insignificant feat. Just being considered by SFB School instead of a flat refusal by the Ballet-Company-By-The-Bay is an achievement in itself. (GitUrFaShawn is the only CCDC student to make into the SFB summer program.) The top schools have hundreds of applicants for every opening. When I was in the company, our ballet mistress says she put any applications from dancers with SAB training in an "automatically invited to audition" pile. The school had already "cherry-picked" the kids with the most potential and "weeded-out" those who couldn't make the cut. So, companies flock to the school to look for new hires from the SAB students who don't go on to NYCB. There are a handful of other schools with similar reputations and San Francisco Ballet School is one. That's why we encourage CCDC students to get some of the names of top programs on their dance resume's. (What are the others? Hmm...Boston, PNB, Houston come to mind. And, of course, any state schools in other countries. National Ballet School in Toronto has a former CCDC student.)

    02.17.2009: Overheard in CCDC Rehearsals

    "Listen to your music! It's not just background! This isn't ballet-aerobics! Make the music motivate your movements! It'll give you energy! Together you're better!"

    "Don't just do your variation the same way you did it last time! Use your noodle! Don't be a noodle! Apply your corrections!"

    "Split your legs! These are Vaganova faille' assemble's. Think Grand sissone not poisson! Pop at the top!

    "Use your upper body to get your lower body off the ground!"

    "OK, save your legs and mark your variation this time, but, upper body always full-out! Practice your breath and your focus!"

    "I think you surprised yourself at how well you did today. But, never be afraid to be good! Always allow yourself to be outstanding! Give yourself permission to be great!"

    "It's time to step up your game. It's past time."

    02.16.2009: Costume Fittings

    Add this to your "to do" list on Saturday Feb 21:
    • 4:00-5:30pm Ballet IV Costume measurements
    • 6:30-7:30pm Nymphs Fittings
    • 7:30-8:00pm Kitri's Friends

    02.16.2009: Look@ME. I'm Sandy Vee!

    M.E.Sandy Vee called this weekend to say "reports of her death" have been greatly exaggerated. And, she'll be back in regular classes soon. But, she also shares she's been accepted to the Joffrey NYC Summer Intensive. So, big kudos to Ms Sandy!

    02.13.2009: Search Continues

    Okay, add even more items to the CCDC student acceptances: OldNavyBoy and NuSnoozyWoozy both accepted to the Ballet Austin program. The summer intensive is a requirement to trainee and apprenticeships with the main company apparently. Both also report "great interest" while auditioning at a midwestern University this week. The instructor there was already trying to sell them on coming to her school. Also, while they were there, one of the other instructors also offered them places in the Joffrey New York Summer Intensive out of the blue! Apparently, he teaches both places. He even suggested financial help would be available for "all their boys". And, they weren't even auditioning for that program! (The confusing part is that Joffrey New York is apparently no longer affiliated with the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago. Going to the program in the Big Apple no longer leads directly to the professional company...if it ever really did!o) So, some big props to the two CCDC PreProfessional Program seniors! And, a big merde to SleepyCutie auditioning at a professional company cattle call this weekend! I won't say "make us proud!", 'cuz we're proud of ya' already! Just: turn-out from the tippy-top! Lengthen that incredible, indelible line! Breathe! Dance! Most importantly, have fun!o)

    02.12.2009: More Acceptances

    Alerted by text the other day: 2K2M early accepted to Boston Ballet Summer Program. 2Kudoz2da2K!

    02.12.2009: The Return of the Web Lynx!

    Bad news from the ballet, Pt I:
    "...The Dayton Ballet, one of the country's three oldest at 81, is fighting for economic survival...."
    Get the whole dish from the Dayton Daily News
    Here's how to do a real Dracula:
    "...the whole disturbing tableau dispels any preconceived notions you have of ballet as a genteel performing art..."
    Get the preview from the Creative Loafing website.
    Bad news from the ballet, Pt II:
    "...Another day, another piece of rotten news about the toll the economy is taking on the arts. Madison Ballet has cancelled An Evening of Romance, the concert that was to have taken place February 14..."
    The depressing news from The Daily Page.
    What are the SAB auditioners looking for?:
    "...I’m looking for someone…with a real love of dance, someone who has a spark and energy and someone who can really listen and take direction...."
    Get the tip from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

    02.11.2009: Dima-morabilia!

    Big thanks going out to Der Komm-issar for the latest addition to the "rogue's gallery" featured on the various walls here at Capital City Dance Center. The autographed photo of two men appeared with little fanfare on the wall in CCDC Studio A the other week. Now, in case you're too young to identify the two guys or can't read their signatures in the photograph, they're arguably two of the greatest ballet dancers of the last century. No, not Vaslav Nijinsky or Erik Bruhn, but, Rudolf Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov. It's placed outside the men's dressing room near the Nureyev and Baryshnikov posters. (Also, both donated by a generous GitUrFaShawn and family!o) It neatly links together all those wall-hangings, and, hopefully, serves as an inspiration to the guys who use the dressing room. Prince Dima says he's looking for the certificate of authenticity he was given along with the photo. So, watch for that soon. But, the photos we really want to see are more additions to the CCDC Wall of Fame in the lobby. These are the photos of our students who've gone on to sign professional contracts with ballet companies. One is of The Mayor of River who signed an apprentice contract with Omaha Theater Ballet. The other is of Princess SarAurorah the First who signed a corps contract with Northern Ballet Theater (of New England, not the one in old England). Those two pictures went up in the first two years of CCDC history. (Both girls trained with us at various studios in the metro pre-CCDC. And, there are probably a few more that could go up there as well.) But, we're hoping to add a plethora of professional pix...and soon! (Just thankful we're not seeing many of your pix on the wall while waiting in line at the post-office!o)

    02.10.2009: CCDC National Impact

    Okay, time for an update from the trials and tribulations from the 2009 National Summer Intensive audition trail:
    • Add acceptances to summer sessions at Kirov, Houston and Tulsa Ballet for Rocky Balboaberger
    • Add early admission to Tulsa for Got2Have AgedBurglar
    • Carmen Elderpatty gets early admission to Tulsa, wait-listed for Kirov
    • Shiny One makes Joffrey Midwest and Joffrey New York
    • Mmmadd Skyllz adds on Joffrey Midwest
    • LunaFromAltuna wait-listed for Kirov Ballet Intensive
    Congrats2all! If your accomplishments aren't listed here, whose fault is that? Hmmm? Who hasn't let me know? Hmmm??? (Mmmadd Skyllz says the SFB audition was "hard"! And, the auditioner was maybe just a "wee bit arrogant". But, I promise, Ms Skyllz, we'll be working on breaking down some of those "hard steps" as soon as 2nite!o) Bthere or B[]!

    02.09.2009: 2GSJ2DWT***s!

    So, that's why there've been so many calls to Capital City Dance Center in recent daze looking to rent studio space: word this morning that local Golden Girl, Shawn Johnson will become the youngest contestant ever when DWT*** returns next month. So, I expect the Olympic Gold Medalist will begin training soon for the competition. She's got the charisma, charm, personality, strength and flexibility. But, will somebody please pass this offer on to her? (I know some CCDC students go to her old high school. Several of our students or students' siblings train in the same gymnastics studio 2GSJ trains at. And, at least one CCDC faculty member told me to go on the down-low with all the comparisons to her arch-rival, The Nasty Grrl, because she sees SJ all the time at her health club!o) CCDC will figure out a way to provide some intensive remedial ballet training to give Shawn Johnson a cross-training edge in the coming competition. Everyone knows the quickest way to credibility in almost any dance form is training in classical ballet. C'mon, 2GSJ! You wanna follow in the footsteps (skate trails?) of another Gold Medalist, Kristi Yamaguchi! Don't be a Cloris Leachman or Master P-stands-4-Pathetic! And, don't wait for Bruno or Cary Anne to tell you to take more ballet! (The plus is: it'll also help you in the floor and all-around competition in London in the 2012 Olympics! That, plus the mirror-ball tropy...and you'll really be Golden!o) Have your people contact!

    02.09.2009: Curtains for Show Biz?

    This email sure sounds like a confirmation of that store-closing rumor we first reported on quite awhile ago:
    "...30-70% off everything in the store including fixtures & furniture!!!!"
    ...Sounds serious when they start selling "fixtures & furniture"! So, the advice still stands: use those gift-cards and bonus bucks asap! But, got an update from one dancer who dropped by the store this weekend. Donya Q says there's not a lot left in adult or teen sizes already. She says it might be a good time for parents to stock up on little leos, shoes or tights. But, she says older dancers shouldn't "break any speed limits" rushing over there. The inventory's been pretty well-picked over already. But, if you're not busy rehearsing...

    02.06.2009: "D" Newz

    Got "D"? Apparently, low "D" no longer a passing grade. Check this out:
    (Courtesy Newswise) — Vitamin D is significantly associated with muscle power and force in adolescent girls, according to a new study.

    Although vitamin D is naturally produced in the body through exposure to direct sunlight, vitamin D deficiency has become widely common in the United States. Vitamin D deficiency has been shown to have a significant negative impact on muscle and bone health, and can lead to conditions including osteoporosis and rickets.

    “We know vitamin D deficiency can weaken the muscular and skeletal systems, but until now, little was known about the relationship of vitamin D with muscle power and force,” said Dr. Kate Ward, lead author of the study. “Our study found that vitamin D is positively related to muscle power, force, velocity and jump height in adolescent girls.”

    For this study, researchers followed 99 adolescent girls between the ages of 12 and 14 years. Dr. Ward and her colleagues took blood samples to measure the girls’ serum levels of vitamin D. Many of these girls were found to have low levels of vitamin D despite not presenting any symptoms.

    Researchers used a novel outcome measure called jumping mechanography to measure muscle power and force. Jumping mechanography derives power and force measurements from a subject’s performance in a series of jumping activities. Dr. Ward says this method of testing is ideal as the muscles required to jump are those most often affected in subjects with vitamin D deficiency. Girls without vitamin D deficiency performed significantly better in these tests.

    “Vitamin D affects the various ways muscles work and we’ve seen from this study that there may be no visible symptoms of vitamin D deficiency,” said Dr. Ward.

    02.05.2009: Hip Hop Haven

    Been feeling a little run-down lately, so I took advantage of a generous offer and let one of the other teachers sub4my class the other night. Couldn't find my copy of 300, so I turned to the DVR for entertainment. (National Treasure: Book of Secrets...a great time-waster!o) Finally had some time to watch the nearly two-hour long MTV Made Hip Hop Showdown. It really brought home to me the gulf between dancers and non-dancers. The three kids on the show are the same age as many of the CCDC Preprofessional students, but, there was a wide chasm, a yawning gulf, between expectations of behavior and decorum between their teacher/coaches and the kids and what we expect and deserve. One girl on MTV kept complaining and rejecting her coach's choreography! She finally started working only after realizing the other judges would've been even tougher to work for. Another contestant quit because the going got tough. It took a lotta cajoling before some of the girls would even try on the shoes and attire their coaches bought for them. I thought the judges (Chris Judd, Leanne Gibson, Soulja Boy) were infinitely kind in their comments. (No one of them's going to become "a professional dancer"! And, no one of them will ever appear in a Gibson choreographed video except as a novelty!) And, when one judge even dared to offer some constructive criticism, the cheerleader carped about "all the negativism". (Spoiler Alert!) The winner wasn't the jock that I favored. But, I think the eventual winner of the ten grand was the guy whose Mom had cancer. I'm not hating. Jus' saying the judges may have factored that into the results. Speaking as a former TV producer, I wouldn't have been above trying to make it a better story. Besides, the judges saw the same video clip back story that the audience did. The good news is it made me appreciate the self-discipline and self-control I often take for granted from (most!o) CCDC students. Really the "best and brightest" of the new digital dividerz! Truly the last remaining hope of their parents' generation! Seriously! Thank you! Kudos 2 U! (Okay, now back to work after you ice your strained triceps from us patting ourselves on your backs!o)

    02.04.2009: Museum Maker

    Apparently a part of my dance history is *finally* being immortalized. Just noticed this in a enewsletter:
    "...The State Historical Society of Iowa's manuscripts collection recently received a set of scrapbooks and publicity materials documenting activities of the Des Moines Ballet from the 1970s through the 1990s. The Des Moines Ballet was founded in 1966 and established itself as a professional company of the highest caliber, attracting such world-renowned dancers as Mikhail Baryshnikov and Alexander Godunov for headlining performances. The troupe had the distinction of presenting the first stage production at the Des Moines Civic Center when it opened in June 1979, and was one of the venue's most popular attractions over the next two decades. While identified with the city where it was founded, the group changed its name to Ballet Iowa in 1990 to reflect its educational outreach and touring throughout the state and Midwest..."
    Read the rest of the article here. Just imagine! You might be able to see pix of your teachers (me, Melissa, Karina and Lynn) in their misspent youths! You might actually be able to read the articles I used to write for the Ballet's newsletter when I was still dancing in the company. If you go, be sure to look for the column: Pointe Of View!o)

    02.03.2009: Media Mentions

    So, did anyone catch the Jabbawockeez in town this past weekend? Apparently, the defending ABDC champions opened for a nostalgia act from the last century@ the Well: NKOTB. I didn't notice much publicity for this gig. If there was guerilla marketing for this one, it viral videoed right past me. If anyone caught JBWKZ act live Saturday night, guest reviews are always welcome at this dance and ballet blog. But, it also leads us into the latest overview of dance in media: America's Best Dance Crew on MTV really stepping up like the Sixburg Stealerz in its third season! That Step Krew is SiCk! Quest is sIcK! The all chik Krewz are bringing it! Also, the contortionist Krew from Crooklyn raised their game this last time out. Not just cringe-inducing, arm ripping moves, but, some actually choreography and dancing just like the judges asked for. But, I think the Klogger Krew is tip-tap-toeing on the edge of that circular stage. The winner will ultimately be the krew that can stay true to its strengths, but, also challenge themselves to explore outside their comfort zone. How hard must it have been for the macho boyz in Quest Krew to do the very feminine moves in the Britney Spears tribute? How difficult was it for the b-grrlz in that one krew to abandon their usual baggy street duds for the slick, provocative attire this last time out? What's coming next? I'll be watching...But, can't say the same for the pedantic, plodding pacing of SSoD on NBC! The final programs sitting unwatched in the DVR as we speak. (Spoiler Alert!) Congrats apparently to the SFB ballerina for winning the soloist portion. That's the one thing the show did right. Maybe more comments later here, but, don't hold your breath...Also, word in the blogosphere that another former DWTS alum is trying to capitalize on dance and her national exposure. Broadway chorine Marissa Jaret Winokur working on a project rumored to be titled Dance My A** Off. Just from the working title it seems to be a combination weight-loss and dance competition reality show. Hmmm. Yeah, I'm just as unexcited as you are. Just cause she was a compelling contestant doesn't mean she'll transition to compelling host. Who was that guy from 90210 who flopped in the unwatchable Yo Mama Can't Dance!? Here's a suggestion: leave my mama and my body parts out of future competitions. Do like America's Best Dance Crew, just shut up and dance!o)

    02.02.2009: Word2DaWize!o)

    What's that old saying? "A word to the wise is sufficient"? I stopped my class the other day to talk about that. Because, I said, if you are "wise in the ways of dance", then, just "a word" will make a huge difference. I often tell the story of being in class with Mikhail Baryshnikov at Stanley Holden's in LA once. Mr. Holden generally left Mischa alone, but, in one class, he watched after barre as the greatest dancer of the last century was working on en de dan turns. They looked fine to me, three or four was always a good day for me at the time, but, Mr Holden walked over and whispered something in Baryshnikov's ear. I could tell it was to hold his left shoulder down, because Stanley pretended to turn with his shoulders askew. So, Mischa just nodded and promptly ripped off about seven or eight inside pirouettes---and, I exaggerate only slightly! (Maybe, I'll blog sometime about Mischa's triple tours en l'air after class!) Now, in order to get me to do seven en de dans turns at that time it would've taken Mr Holden quite a few more corrections over quite a few classes. The pointe is: "A word to the wise is sufficient...but, a library for fools is never enough". Are you "wise" in the ways of dance? Or are you being "foolish" with corrections and squandering them? (The other saying that applies is "pearls before swine..." Oink!o)

    01.30.2009: Soda? Or Pop? How 'Bout Neither?

    Just got this eTip in the eMail from the eWise eGuise over at Men's Health Magazine:
    "Hate to burst your bubble, but choosing diet soda over the original kind won’t help you ditch pounds. In fact, regularly drinking the saccharine-sweet liquid is a solid way to lose the battle of the bulge. Sure, it’s the lesser of two evils when compared to its non-diet high-cal counterpart, but it’s far from healthy. ...The next time you get the urge for a sweet beverage, reach for one of these naturally sweetened juices instead. Add a splash of soda water if you’re craving the fizz. ...Quench your thirst and conquer your sweet tooth the right way and watch the pounds melt away."

    01.30.2009: Audition Action

    Thespians! Take note:
    Auditions for the play Sideways Stories From Wayside School will be held at The Playhouse at 6:00 PM on Sunday, Feb. 1. All auditions are open to the public.

    Sideways Stories contains feature roles for 1 man and 2 women, ages 16 and up; and 2 boys and 3 girls, ages 10 and up. The director is Ron Ziegler (The Hobbit).

    Performances are Mar. 27-Apr. 12, with school matinees on Mar. 31 and Apr. 1.

    Louis Sachar's Wayside is a 30-story-tall school, one classroom wide, where odd and magical things happen -- especially when missing floors and mythical teachers turn out to be real.

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

    01.29.2009: Stop The Violins

    So, here's what's most frustrating to most ballet teachers (and, teachers in general, I presume)o: It's almost axiomatic that the students with the most potential are often the least motivated. And, the students who face the greatest obstacles are often the most passionate about dance. I guess it's human nature, but, if you're used to everything coming easy to you, it's really hard to push when the going gets tough. (And, make no mistake about it, the going gets tough for everyone involved in ballet eventually.) But, if you look good naturally with great proportions, line and turn-out for daze, then, you've probably never been forced to develop anything but lazy work-habits. It's the rare student that combines great potential with great work ethic. Consider this metaphor: you're a passionate violinist, work hard and practice your scales daily. Toiling daily over left-hand technique and at perfecting your bow-handling. But, you've only got a cigar-box fiddle. So, no matter how hard you work, your "cigar-box fiddle" will only squeak out some notoriously bad notes. Meanwhile, you watch other violin students with Stradivariuses (Stradivariai?) just abuse and misuse their instruments. Dragging them along the ground, putting on nylon day-glo strings, using them to whack a tennis ball around, playing them in hip-hop-punk-thrash-metal-rap bands. How frustrating! If you only had that violin, what sweet music you could unleash on a wondering world! Unlike other musicians, you can't just go out and buy a better instrument! So, the question for teachers is how to get us "cigar-box fiddles" to produce the best sound possible. And, how to motivate the Stradivariai to attain a measure of the world-class status possible. But, can an outside source ever really help develop internal motivation? So, the question for you students is: how motivated are you to dance the best you can? If dancing at a professional level is your eventual goal, remember, you're going up against the "best and brightest", the most talented and gifted for whom ballet isn't just a hobby, but a passion, a way of life. It's possible for us non-gifted and non-talented to succeed beyond realistic expectations, I took my "cigar-box fiddle" and played in regional "orchestras" in my career. But, if I only had a better instrument, I'm convinced I "practiced, practiced, practiced" enough to get to "Carnegie Hall"!.

    01.29.2009: Excess of Success

    The latest update from the audition season:
    • Nutmeg just notified of early acceptance to Washington Ballet Summer Intensive
    • Knatashaz Kneez early accepted to Milwaukee Ballet Summer Program
    • K8Ln Nice also early accepted to MB

    ...Kudos 2 all, NE1 else having this problem?

    "...Neofrankenfurter? ...Who is Princess Nutmeg?...The nicknames are only fun when we can figure out who they are :o(..."
    ...Enquiring minds wanna know! I guess when the actual students themselves are wondering if they're who I'm referring to...that could be a sign gr8 myndz don't think alike!o) Here's a hint: Most nicknames are changing all the time! The Cardigan Grrl now cruises as The Card Shark, for example. So, once u figure one out, I'm likely gonna change it! It's a never-ending story!o)

    01.28.2009: Timely Tip

    CCDC Summer Intensive Guest Modern Instructor Kathleen Hurley sends along this last-minute information:

    Be there or be square:)

    On Wednesday, January 28 choreographers Art Bridgman and Myrna Packer (based in NYC, recent Guggenheim recipients) will perform a trio of live dance and video works in the Roberts Theatre at 8 pm. Here’s a link to their website and a description of the performance they bring to Grinnell!

    Bridgman/Packer Dance is currently touring their Trilogy of dance and video works: Seductive Reasoning, Under The Skin and Memory Bank, created in collaboration with filmmakers Peter Bobrow and Jim Monroe. Trilogy explores the intricacies of identity, gender, perception, and intimacy through Bridgman/Packer's choreographic concept of "video partnering"—the highly visceral and visually arresting integration of live performance and video technology. Through interaction with their life-size video images and the use of bodies and costumes as projection screens, Bridgman and Packer blur the lines between image and reality, distort identity, and reveal hidden multiple layers of consciousness. Evocative transformations play out in sensuous, intensely physical partnering and surprising shifts of scale. Together the three pieces comprise an evening performance (approximately 70 minutes running time plus one intermission). Composers Robert Een, Ken Field and Glen Velez have created original musical scores, and shows can include their live performances. Lighting design is by Frank DenDanto III. See Bios for more about collaborators.

    01.27.2009: Add An Addendum

    Well! Didn't have to wait too long now did we? Add these on to the list below:

    • Princess Nutmeg also early accepted to Boston Ballet Summer Program
    • Madd Skyllz early accepted to Milwaukee Ballet Summer Intensive

    ...and some students were still aghast at some of the speed in this weekend's SAB audition. Just a note for the lower levels, Balanchine-style classes introduced in CCDC PreProfessional Ballet Level VI.

    01.26.2009: Audition Update

    Plethora of good news to report as the 2009 Summer Intensive Audition Season swings into full-gear. The latest update:

    • GitUrFaShawn now 242 with notification of early acceptance and full-scholarship to Milwaukee Ballet's top-level to go along with his Boston Ballet Summer Intensive early-acceptance to top level and full-scholarship.
    • Rocky Balboaberger also early accepted to MB with full scholarship
    • Ekaterina W00tang and Sleepie Cutie early accepted to top level with partial-scholarship to Milwaukee as well.
    • Marguerite du Armaund also early accepted with partial scholarship to MB
    • YaGottaHave Neofrankenfurter also notified of early acceptance to MB

    ...We're anticipating more good news as the season goes on. But, if you don't see your achievement acknowledged here, who's fault is it for not officially notifying me? Also, anyone planning on auditioning for Sacramento Ballet should read this story first.

    01.23.2009: Quotidian Quota of Quotes Quizz

    Actually found some good quotes about overcoming obstacles in an old Men's Health magazine sidebar. Each aphorism encapsulates a bit of how dancers and other athletes should approach their training, but, I was more than a little surprised at who said what. Can you match the quote with the quoter? Answers coming in a later post or to the Archives. (No peeking, Ducks!o):

    1. "Excellence is not a singular act, but a habit. You are what you repeatedly do."
    2. " is the one who endures that the final victory comes."
    3. "Perserverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did."
    4. "Much good work is lost for the lack of a little more."

    Can you match these people with who said the previous quotes?

    • Shaquille O'Neal
    • Buddha
    • Newt Gingrich
    • Edward H. Harriman

    Good lu...I mean, Merde!

    01.23.2009: So...Sad SSoD!

    Seems like I'm being overly-polite about my ongoing ennui with with NBC's SSoD. Check Tonya Planck's blog out. And, be sure to read the comments below the post.

    01.22.2009: Getting Goodz on Giving

    In charge of fund-raising? Like it or not, if you're involved in the arts, you're involved in renewing and finding fresh funds. Here's word of a local workshop designed to empower your efforts:

    Major Gifts: Finding the Perfect Donors
    February 24

    Learn a tested system to identify and cultivate donors who love your mission — donors who will give for operations, capital, and endowment. Find out how to grow your organization’s visibility in the community and engage your board in the fundraising process without requiring that they ask for money. This entry level workshop is designed for board members, executive directors, CEOs, and fund development professionals. By the end of this seminar, you will have the fundamentals to embark on the path to sustainability and grow your major gifts programs year after year. Presented by Benevon. There is no fee to attend, but RSVPs are required online. (Searching for hyperlink)

    01.21.2009: Meandering Media Mentionz

    Interesting developments on the media front in the Capital City: I was checking the local movie listings on-line recently and a boatload of operas showed up at one theater complex. Apparently, the Metro Opera's national satellite transmission has reached our metro and opera fans can indulge to their heart's content. My only question is when will I get to see SFB, ABT, NYCB, Ailey, Hubbard Street, Bad Boyz of Ballet in 3D, HD?...Speaking of SFB, I've managed to watch their PBS Great Performances episode in bits and pieces and fits and starts. A very world-class reimagining and restaging of Nutcracker by Helgi Tomasson. Enjoyed the fact that trained dancers were in every role, big and small. This ain't your father's ballet! No local adults dragooned into playing supers and forced to dance on stage to the tittering amusement of friends, family and neighbors. (Also, no excerpts from Swan Lake or RiverDance in Act II! Mother Ginger's bodice actually matched her skirt! Imagine that!o) Real trained adults, real well-trained kids, colorful costumes and sweeping sets. Yuan Yuan Tan lived up to her advance billing. And, whoever that Cavalier/Nutcracker Prince was had huge leg muscles and he used them to great advantage. And had to watch that Trepak again to enjoy some strong jumping and turns. Revelotade Double to the knee! (Or was that assemble' double to arabesque to the knee? The quick edit kept me from watching which leg he took off from after he jumped out of the huge Faberge' egg.)...Also, two different reactions to two different dance shows on TV. Watched the premiere of MTV's ABDC and was blown away by the strength and breadth of Season III's krewz! And, you'll recognize some familiar faces on that Omega Krew: Hok, Ryan and Jesus (?) from SYTYCD fame. They used to dance in the old Spyder Krew. They were ridikulus fierce in their opening number! Ryan even demonstrated his signature back-flip to the head! Made my neck hurt just watching. I actually did that move by mistake while practicing back hand-springs on a rug-covered concrete floor once! (In a related development, ERs around the country reporting an increase in head wounds and concussion treatments from B-Boy wanna-beez!o) Two all-girl krewz made it past the first cut, as well, as that hip-hop clogging group who came klippity-klopping all the way from Alabama with a banjo on their kneez! Not sure if they're not going to be the first ones up to go down. But, in a familiar story, Puerto Rico's GOP went down to defeat at the polls after the judge's voting. Believe me, they all want fresh, fierce and fascinating...with top rewards going to imaginative, envelope and boundary pushing with precision execution and formations. That contortionist flex dance made my eyebrows shoot up and my body writhe in sympathy...but, how much more can they do to stay competitive during the entire season?...Different reaction entirely to NBC's SSoD. That recording stayed unwatched on my DVR all weekend. I guess I'll (ho-hum) catch up in the slow sports period before the SuperBowl of American Football. I do really enjoy most of the dancing, but, the glacial pacing and inane judging and flat-footed hosting by the Lord of the Dance just doesn't excite me. I guess that's why they invented fast-forward!o)

    01.20.2009: Break Up 2 Make Up!

    Need some stage make-up?

    (Courtesy AP) Free cosmetics are being given away at department stores around the country as part of a class-action lawsuit settlement.

    A 2003 California lawsuit filed against department stores and cosmetics manufacturers alleged the businesses conspired to keep prestige cosmetic prices high.

    The case was settled with no wrongdoing admitted. The result was a $175 million giveaway. eligible customers will get one free piece of make up or fragrance worth from $18 to $25 _ on the honor system.

    Anyone is eligible if they purchased department store cosmetics between May 1994 and July 2003. dozens of department store chains will be giving away the items including Dillard's and Younkers.

    The freebies will stop in seven days or when they are gone, whichever comes first.

    01.20.2009: Inaugural Thots

    I really missed my chance to bond with the new U-S President when he came here as a long-shot candidate. I was working my day-job as a news reporter and I was sent to cover a local campaign event. Senator Obama and I actually have a lot in common. Both raised in Hawai'i and later moved to Chicago to pursue our disparate (in my case “desperate”) career choices. (If I had played my cards right, could that be me taking that oath of office today? Hmmm...Naaah!) I planned to joke with him about why I should support a Punaho'u High School graduate, that elitist private school conclave on the outskirts of Mano'a. But, when he came over to a gaggle of us reporters, he just said he couldn't talk to us on the record and apologized. Later, I wished I gave him the "shaka" not-so-secret hand sign that island locals use to recognize each other on the mainland, but, I always thought I'd be sent to cover him again. But, the next time that happened was in the cavernous Wells Fargo Arena where thousands came out to launch his serious run for the White House. So, I never got my chance to become an F-O-B (Friend of Barack)! Wonder what would've happened if I did? Would I now be in line for Minister of Cultural Affairs? Secretary of Ballet? Personal dance tutor to Sasha and Malia? Official White House dog pooper scooper? The mind boggles at the possibilites!o)

    01.20.2009: Kudos In Order!

    ...and, congrats to to CCDC's Sleeping Cutie! Also, already notified of early acceptance to the Boston Ballet Summer Intensive! And, a word of advice to everyone planning on getting CCDC Faculty help and space for posing for required audition photos: Get your requests in early. You should identify what specific poses you'll need for which specific audition. (Typically, tendu en seconde or first arabesque. Hard to hide in these poses. Also, maybe, a head shot.) And, then contact us to set aside a specific block of time. You provide the camera and photographer (Dad!?) We'll provide the space and advice, if we can. If we have time. (Sleep and space both at a premium nowadaze!o) We can also help pick the best pix. There are a few tricks of the trade for dance audition photos that even professional photographers don't know. In fact, professionals often tell you the exact opposite of what you need to do for the best audition pix! Lotta auditions coming up this weekend! So, get those requests in early! The same advice goes if you're considering putting together a video audition tape. (And, carpool2auditions, NE1?)

    01.19.2009: Overheard in CCDC Pas de Deux Class

    "There's a difference between regular supported pirouettes or whip turns and finger turns. With one, you have to let your partner put you back on balance. With the other, you use your partner to keep yourself on balance. Learn to appreciate the difference."

    "On finger turns, don't push the boy's arm away...push into the arm!"

    "It's like you're holding a little flower vase full of water over your head. Don't spill the water on your head!"

    "Don't squeeze the boy's finger on those turns! Think how bad you'll feel when the guy goes one way and you and his finger go the other!"

    "When you first learn how to partner, you worry about keeping the girl on balance. But, when you get advanced learn when to deliberately take her off balance to help her produce better pictures."

    "...and, you girls need to learn to trust your partners when you feel yourself go off-balance."

    01.16.2009: First Sign

    The Summer Intensive Audition season already getting underway. This just in from The Old Navy Boy:


    "...I got into Boston's summer program. Full scholarship!


    ...First of all, congrats! But, I understand the luke-warm response. When I was auditioning for companies and got offered scholarships to Ailey's or the old Hartford Ballet school instead, it was a little bit of a let-down. But, I understand now that's part of the process. Now, I was eventually hired sight unseen for smaller companies. (Aside from videotapes) Apparently, I had a pulse and a lotta y-chromosome and testosterone! Have dance belt, will travel! But, the larger companies can afford to be more discriminating. So, getting into summer programs, traineeships, apprenticing or getting into a second-company have become the required stepping-stones for entry into larger dance companies. Really...Congratulations! Early acceptance indicates early interest. And, a full-scholarship is good! Always better than getting put on the waiting list! Or, the dreaded form letter that reads "...don't stop dancing! Unfortunately..." Or, it really beats that limbo of getting nothing and not knowing. (Just a warning, you may run into that a lot when you're already a professional and looking for another gig. The summer before getting into my last ballet company from the one I walked away from was hot, humid and agonizing slow torture!) I'm sure this is a positive sign on the journey to your final goal!

    01.15.2009: Art$ $mart$

    Just got this press release from the National Governors Association. Anyone who's involved in trying to pry shekels loose from government, business or foundations should take note. More ammo for the good fight:


    WASHINGTON—Fostering the arts and culture sector has played a vital role in state economic development, according to a new report from the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center).

    Arts and culture-related industries, collectively known as “creative industries,” provide direct economic benefits to states and communities by creating jobs, attracting new investments, generating tax revenues and stimulating tourism and consumer purchases.

    The report, Using Arts and Culture to Stimulate State Economic Development provides examples from states across the country to help governors incorporate the arts and culture into their long-term economic development strategies. It also offers a number of actions states can take to realize the full potential of the creative industries, including:

    • Performing a recurring audit of state arts assets
    • Incorporating creative industries into statewide planning
    • Developing strategies to provide support for the arts and culture sector
    • Ensuring creative industries are included in community development plans
    • Assessing the impact the arts and culture sector can have in enhancing state tourism.

    “Leveraging a state’s creative industries can be a valuable asset and play a meaningful role in state long-run economic strategies,” said John Thomasian, director of the NGA Center. “As cited in this report, many states have found ways to harness the economic benefits the arts and culture sector can have on a region.”

    National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Dana Gioia said, “With two million artists and thousands of arts organizations in the U.S. able to provide arts and education programs and assist with community development and tourism activities, it makes good economic sense to incorporate the arts into statewide planning.”

    The report is the sixth in a series of publications that document how the arts can help states develop additional economic opportunities. The series is produced by the NGA Center with funding support from the National Endowment for the Arts and research assistance from the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies.

    To learn more about how states are using creative industries to bolster their local economies, download a PDF here.

    01.14.2009: Missing U In Class

    Just had an exchange with a CCDC student. She took advantage of our new state-of-the-art-of-the-last-century texting capability and asked whether we were cancelling classes. I wrote back that Monday classes were in the process of being cancelled as we communicated. She expressed disappointment:( So, I texted back two words and an emoticon: "Floor barre!o)".

    With all the dicey weather we've been having this winter (Where's that global warming when you need it!?), you're probably going to be missing classes. That's problematic for serious dancers, especially, those of you hitting the audition trail for summer intensives, colleges...or future employment!

    So, first of all, be sure to take all your classes when you can! You never know when you're going to be forced to miss one. Take extra if you have the time, especially, if you're on the unlimited class plan. (How 'bout that early Saturday Pilates Class NE1? And, what're you doing Sunday afternoons? Hmmm?)

    But, if you're snowed in there are always a coupla things you can do besides catch up on sleep, rest, veg...or Gray's Anatomy episodes!: pop in a DVD and cross-train in Yoga, Pilates or cardio-interval weight training and conditioning. (Just be careful not to bulk up with big muscles if you do an upper-body work-out, ladies!o) Follow that up with a few barre exercises and balances...or even a complete barre. (I just spent a couple days at the out-laws, doing Tom Holland's work-out in the basement. Substituted some stretchy bands for the hand-weights. Then, I did a short barre in the hallway between dodging big and small kids and pets.)

    Or, floor barre is always a good option to doing nothing. Done properly, it'll help align the spine and tame that wild derriere placement problem. I used to do floor barre when I was dancing in the company and too tired to do a full warm-up before late rehearsals. Or, if I traveled to a different city for an audition and couldn't get a good class the night before.

    The easiest way to do a good, fundamental floor barre is to just lay on a wooden floor with your feet pressed against the wall. There should be enough space to do your developpe's and grand battements. Do some simple, slow plie's, tendus, degage's, rond de jambe, developpe's, pas de cheval, rond de jambe en l'air and grand battements. You'll have to learn or figure out some adjustments to traditional vertical technique, but, be sure to do some of the exercises both on your back and stomach.

    Some dancers find it necessary to cushion the hip bones while lying on their stomach. Use a sweat-shirt or a yoga mat. The mat will also keep you from sliding away from the wall. Another alternative is to purchase a DVD of an actual codified floor barre system. I haven't done that yet, but, I've heard good things about this particular one.

    A good floor barre can never replace a real ballet class, but, it can be an effective supplement to traditional training. And, it can help keep you from losing all your technique during injury recovery. So, consider this a "text" to all you serious dancers suffering from sudden onset of Lackaclassa Nervosa from all the snow-daze during this eternal winter of our discontent: "Floor Barre!o)"

    01.12.2009: Update

    Never mind! Stand down, everyone! The H-am(b)er alerts been cancelled:


    "...Thanks for the post on the website...but GitUrFaShaun was able to find the artist and song title which I was seeking. And it is available on iTunes (what a great use for the iTunes gift card I got from a very generous Modern/Jazz B student this Christmas)! Thanks for the shout-out, though, and your oh-so-clever joke about me needing help!"

    ...and stay tuned! Still hoping against hope for a better-late-than-never review from a recent Nutcracker (hint, hint!o)

    01.09.2009: CCODY Congrats!o)

    Before we get too far along in the New Year, time to make like the two-faced Roman (Greek?) god, Janus, and look backwards as well as forward. Yes! That means the return of the red carpet as we roll out the much-maligned, never-imitated, often-duplicated dubious honor of the Annual CCody Awards!o) (Once again, for you hopelessly outta the loop, that stands for Capital City Dance Center Order of Dance Achievement of the Year!o) Hooray! So, cue that faux paparazzo! Set off those fireworks as searchlights knife through the gathering smoke! Ta-da!!! 23-skidoo! Maestro! The envelope please!!!


    (urgent whisper) "...This is an awfully skinny envelope, maestro!"
    "Well, you're too busy teaching to see any performances anymore!"
    "I know, but, we gotta do something for the CCodys!"
    "...And! You don't even allow consideration of the productions you're directly involved in!"
    "Well, that just wouldn't be fair now, would it?"
    "I'm not arguing with your decision! Just explaining why the envelope is so skinny!"
    "What am I going to do? The world-wide television audience and a packed Shrine Auditorium are all waiting!"
    "Not my problemo, senor! Just do what you always do!"
    "...?...and that is?"
    "Tap dance!! Write about nothing! You're good at that! You should get a CCody yourself!"
    "You don't say!"

    ...And, (even though I hate to think "the latest is the greatest") the first CCody for best dance or musical performance in the Capital City area for last year is...Monty Python's SPAMalot! You can see the full review in an earlier posting from just last month, but, the stage version is much more accessible and funnier than the film version, IMHO!o) (Why, 2K?)

    ...And, the CCody for best dance or musical offering on television goes to...It's a close one! So You Think You Can Dance just edges out Dancing With The Stars! Closely followed by America's Best Dance Krew! Also, this caveat, we've recorded my favorite ballet company SFB and their presentation of Nutcracker, but, haven't had a chance to watch it yet. So, that entry will be entered into the 2009 CCody competition. Academy members will be notified in their nomination forms!

    ...And, the CCody for best book about dance we encountered this surprise...goes to 75 Years of the San Francisco Ballet! There's also a review about that book posted a few daze ago, but, there will always be a soft spot in my heart (and, on my head, apparently!o) for the ballet by the bay!

    ...And, the CCody for the best performing trend to emerge from last year is...Hi-Def Live transmissions at local theaters or on the net. An opera company or symphony is apparently already offering season subscriptions and single-performance "tickets" to their concerts via the web. (Found the link! Thanks Winger!) That could open up a world-wide audience that would pay to watch local dance events. And, not only is the NFL experimenting with Hi-Def 3D at local theaters (as I blog this, the BCS title game's being broadcast in big-screen hi-def to 35-theaters around the country. Not 3D, but, that's gotta be the next step!) I'd pay to see hi-def 3-or-2D ballet at my local theater. But, my fear is...could that possibly sap the local dance dollar away from smaller start-ups? How you gonna keep 'em supporting semi-professional dance when they can see SFB, ABT, Paris Opera Ballet or the Kirov itself?

    It'll be a brave new world in 2009 and beyond! Don't be a luddite, it's up to dancers and directors to embrace change and roll with the punches. And, it's up to teachers to prepare our students for dancing into the 21st Century. Here's to battling back to back to black budgeting for you and your dancers in 2009!

    01.08.2009: Putting the Break in 'Winter Break'?

    Finally breathing a tremendous sigh of relief after CCDC student Madd Skyllz showed up safely back in class after the winter break last night. I had nightmares of her hobbling humbly back in on crutches---or being wheeled in in a full-body cast!---after she announced she was going to try skiing on her family vacation. (Of course, she's probably limping around today, feeling a little sore after her first real ballet and pointe class in over two-weeks. ...But, that's a GOOD sore, Skyllz!o) With that in mind, here's an article on ways to dodge that winter danger:

    (Courtesy Newswise — For some, wintertime offers an opportunity to stay inside with a blanket and a good book—but for others, the season brings with it a whole new excitement of sports and outdoor activities for children and adults alike.

    Hockey, ice skating, sledding, skiing, snowboarding and other cold-weather activities are a great way to get some fresh air and exercise during those long chilly months. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) has some helpful hints to help prevent injuries while enjoying these pastimes.

    "Vigorous activity such as skiing is important, but the cold temperatures and slippery surfaces of winter can produce significant injuries, especially for children,” says Allan Mishra, MD. “However, wearing proper clothing, protective gear and avoiding extreme weather conditions can improve their safety so on one misses out on the winter fun."

    According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in 2007:

    • Snowboarding was the leading cause of winter sports injuries, sending 149,388 people to hospital emergency rooms, doctors’ offices, clinics and other medical settings.
    • Skiing came in second with 131,454 injuries.
    • Other sports and activities on the list include ice skating with 58,380 injuries, ice hockey with 47,594, sledding and tobogganing with 107,890 and snowmobiling with 34,699.

    The Academy offers the following tips to help prevent these winter sports injuries:

    • Cold muscles, tendons and ligaments are more susceptible to injury. To avoid this, do some light exercises for at least 3 to 5 minutes, then slowly and gently stretch the muscles to be exercised, holding each stretch for at least 30 seconds.
    • If you are avidly training in a formal sport, such as professional figure skating, ensure that the activity is led by a trained coach.
    • Take frequent water breaks to prevent dehydration and overheating.
    • Avoid participating in sports when experiencing pain or exhaustion.
    • Never ski, sled, ice skate, snowmobile or snowboard alone.
    • Know and abide by all rules of the sport in which you are participating.
    • Wear appropriate protective gear, including goggles, helmets, gloves and padding, and make sure equipment is in good working order and used properly.
    • For warmth and protection, wear several layers of light, loose and water- and wind-resistant clothing. Layering allows you add and remove clothing to accommodate your body’s constantly changing temperature when outside or in a cold environment such as an indoor ice rink.
    • Wear proper footwear that provides warmth and dryness, as well as ample ankle support.
    • When falling, try to fall on your side or buttocks. Roll over naturally, turning your head in the direction of the roll.
    • Pay attention to warnings about upcoming storms and severe drops in temperature to ensure safety.
    • Become familiar with the whereabouts of fences, trees, rocks, open water and patches of ice. Stay on marked trails and avoid potential avalanche areas, such as steep hillsides with little vegetation.
    • Be prepared for emergency situations and have a plan to reach medical personnel to treat injuries.

    01.07.2009: Kewl You'll

    If you're a little late getting me a Christmas present (NOT that you need to! Your "presence" in CCDC classes are "presents" enough!o) or if you want to get a tremendous head-start on 2009 holiday shopping, this would make me a great stocking stuffer! Also, I know I speak for all the teachers in saying thanks for all the gift cards and certificates, thoughtful notes, that kewl figurine, poinsettia, Baryshnikov poster, authentic Chinese robe, embroidery, painting, food, tea and other presents from students and parents this past season. And, opening one gift in particular (Thanks Rothbarta and Sleepy Cutie!) triggered a flood of memories from my distant past. The book is a multi-layered and multi-dimensional, many-splendored gift about my favorite ballet company, the San Francisco Ballet. First, you leaf through and marvel at all the photographs, then, you'll read the articles. And, then, you'll load the enclosed DVD and get up close and personal with 75-years of dance history. And, finally, one appendix unleashed a confetti shower of half-forgotten rememberings: a list of every single dancer contracted with SFB. Talk about a flashback of "golden moldies"! (The company used to come to the old Blaisdell Arena every year. I used to sneak into the theater to watch the dancers take class and rehearse before performances. The security guards didn't ever believe anyone would want to skulk in to watch a ballet!o) David Macnaughton, the brother and sister, Gina and Anton, Daniel Meja, Andrew, Andre, Attille...and, what was that name of that first guy guest dancer who did the Ribbon Candy?...And, of course, the luminiscent Evelyn Cisneros, of the eye-opening, heart-rending portrayal of Juliet. Watching her evolve from girl to woman-in-love on stage challenged the development of my own future artistic portrayals. But, I know now my name will never appear on the long list of SFB dancers. (The closest I came to my "dream company" was an audition for the school during company class on stage. The director showed some interest until his assistant told him my age. And, that was that. So, never ask me how old I am...ever!) My name won't even appear in some retrospective of the local company I danced with in the capital city since it gave up the ghost before the dawn of the new century. I'll have to be satisfied with becoming, perhaps, a footnote in any future book about my hometown company...or that little northern dance troupe still going strong by the Great Lakes. Or, I guess I'll have to be satisfied with possibly showing up in another book about my full-time non-dancing job at the 75-year old radio station. Or, perhaps one of my students will get on the roster of SFB someday, and, I'll finally "make the company" vicariously!

    01.06.2009: Help Wanted

    Capital City Dance Center Modern/Jazz/Pilates Instructor Alyssa Hamer needs some help! (Insert your own joke or poke in the ribs here!o) She e-mailed recently asking if I had a program on my iTouch or Bold that could identify music. You know, record a sample and you get e-mailed the song's title and artist? Well, I don't have that app on either hi-tech toy, but, maybe you do? Or, do you know of a website that offers the same capability? The situation is: Alyssa's intrigued by the choreographic possibilities of a song she hears in the background of a YouTube vidclip. (We'll post that specific link after she sends it along.) I told her to email the poster and ask, but, apparently that's already been done to no avail. Can NE1 help this poor, suffering choreographer? (I know..."poor, suffering choreographer" is mighty redundant. And, it repeats itself. ...Esp. the "poor" part!o) HELP!

    01.06.2009: Gr8 Myndz...

    The premiere of Superstars of Dance landing with dull thud in the dance world this week. And, viewers greeting the new show with a resounding...collective yawn. Here's a reaction to the earlier review:

    "...Oh my gosh I totally agree. The format was boring as hell. Flatley is lame and the dancing and judging was so inconsistent. I loved the Bollywood girls and they got panned. The Russian ballroom dancers seemed good to me (aren't they both former SYTYCD contestants?) but not anything spectacular and they received huge numbers. And the Russian contemporary dancer was just fine - not good enough for a world competition -at least her scores agreed. Maybe there's a Eastern voting bloc like in figure skating -hah!..."

    01.05.2009: News, Views and Reviews

    I'm not thinking the new dance series that premiered this weekend is gonna last too long...or make it to a season two. (Anyone remember Harlemm Lee besides me? And, is that the same runner-up Shannon who later made it with Danity Kane?) Don't get me wrong, I like the fact that the producers are showcasing "world dancing" to the American public with Superstars of Dance. But, I'm not sure the average TV-watcher's appetite for second-and-third-world dancing extends much beyond Riverdance and Bollywood. And, the pedantic, pedestrian pacing of the Superstars judging and overly-dramatic scoring reveal doesn't help. And, I'll flatly declare that host Michael Flatley should let his taps do his talking for him. (Shut up and dance! Actually saw him perform his Feet of Flame show in Portland once. Fabulous hoofer, excellent performer, almost as good as his ego seems enormous, but, in retrospect, thankfully, he said not one word!o) If Mario Lopez suffers in comparison to Tom Bergeron, then, Michael isn't even in the conversation with Lopez. And, the Superstars performances were uneven and how can you even begin to judge folk dancing with concert performances with cabaret shows?

    Having said all that, I loved that Argentine Tango! Smooth, ultra-sexy! Their feet and legs flickered and caressed each other like stolen kisses from secret lovers. Of course, I liked the Irish team's precision footwork and the acrobatics of the Shaolin Monks. I also appreciated the partnering of the US ballroom couple. There were at least two lifts that I'd never done or seen before. Impressive strength from both partners. (I've done a number of cirque lifts as both top-mounter and under-stander when I was working and training with the Waikiki Acrobatic Troupe---I think they must've helped train some of MTV's RAH National Cheerleading Champion University of Hawaii squad. I've done a controlled dismount fall from the top of a five-man mount. The bottom person is called an "under-stander" because he "stands under" the top-mounter...and needs to "understand" how to safely lift their partner!o)

    And, here's a reminder to all you prospective reality dance TV or film producers: we need to care about the contestants. If you want to gravy-train on the success of SYTYCD, ABDC or DWTS (Returns March 9th!), the viewers need to get to know the dancers. Fans want someone to cheer for and to argue about. Personalities need to pop off the silver-screen, warts and all. We all want someone to identify with. That's why all the vignettes and back-stage packs from rehearsals and auditions from the successful reality dance shows. If you don't get the audience personally involved in the backstage soap-opera of As The Fouette' Turns, you'll follow in the footsteps of flops like Step It Up and Dance or the unwatchable Yo' Mama Can't Dance!!o)

    ...and, of course, I'll be recording and watching tonight's second show. If it's dancing, we should all be watching. Send the message to Madison Avenue and Wall Street that the performing arts audience matters...and we'll support good shows with our eyeballs, our ears and our dollars!o)

    01.05.2009: Whee! Get eMail!o)

    Nice2know I'm not just blogging into a bottom-less void. Got this from one reader...

    "...Thanks for the Bunion Aid tip in your CCDC News. I just ordered it. I'm going to try it. I'll let you know if it works. My grandma had bunions. I know it's hereditary. I only ordered one for now. Maybe in another month I'll order a second one too. It looks really great and seems to make a lot of sense.

    Foot doctors have scared me (even though we supposedly have the best guy in the U.S. working (in the Capital City area). I have a ballerina friend...who lives in (Texas) and used (a ballet company's) foot surgeon for her surgeries which wound up being disastrous.

    I'm really glad there's something much less invasive than surgery to try! ..."


    01.05.2009: Capital City Arts Action

    RIVER NORTH CHICAGO DANCE COMPANY comes to the Civic Center for the first time ever in a one-night only performance on Wednesday, April 22, 2009 at 7:30 p.m. Dedicated to the advancement of jazz-based contemporary dance, Chicago-based RNCDC performs at home in Chicago and tours across the United States.

    Founded in 1989 by four visionary dancers/choreographers, River North Chicago has established itself as one of Chicago’s leading dance companies, receiving critical acclaim on a national and international level. Under the direction of Artistic Director Frank Chaves, the jazz-based contemporary company embodies a true flavor of “Americana” in their dynamic repertoire. Elements of River North Chicago include highly skilled and emotive dancers, stimulating music, and bold, commanding choreography. Hedy Weiss of the Chicago Sun Times claimed “When the music starts, the heart responds. That’s the motto of River North Chicago Dance Company”.

    The core works developed by Frank Chaves, along with an array of pieces by nationally and internationally renowned choreographers, construct the varied, eclectic, and powerful repertoire that River North Chicago possesses. The repertoire consists of works from such choreographers as Robert Battle, Lauri Stallings, Daniel Ezralow, Lynne Taylor-Corbett, Ashley Roland, Randy Duncan, Julia Rhoads, Harrison McEldowney, Kevin Iega Jeff and former Co-Artistic Director Sherry Zunker, among others.

    Doubt, a Parable, the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winner by John Patrick Shanley, will be presented in The Playhouse Mainstage theatre, Jan. 23-Feb. 9. Tickets are now on sale at The Playhouse ticket office and on-line. Tickets are $35-20.

    In this brilliant and powerful drama, Sister Aloysius, a Bronx school principal, takes matters into her own hands when she suspects young Father Flynn of improper relations with a student. Doubt 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. Doubt is 90 minutes in length, and is performed without intermission.

    The Doubt cast, under the direction of John W. Viars, features Arlene McAtee as Sister Aloysius, Timothy Flynn as Father Flynn, Melissa Powell as Sister James and Valencia McCown as Mrs. Muller.

    The Youth Chorus will be conducting a local talent search for youth ages 8-18 who love to sing and are interested in becoming a member of one of our award-winning choirs for the spring semester. We will hold open auditions at a number of locations across the metro in January. Those auditioning are asked to come prepared to sing a short, unaccompanied piece of their choosing. Following the audition, singers may be placed in one of five choirs: Children’s Chorus, Girls Chorus, Boys Chorus, Chorale or Youth Chorale.

    For more information please visit their website.

    Due to high demand, the Civic Center today announced the extension of TRIPLE ESPRESSO – A HIGHLY CAFFEINATED COMEDY now playing at the Civic Center’s Temple Theater. The hit comedy will play an additional five performances but must end Sunday, Jan. 18, 2009.

    Civic Center President & CEO Jeff Chelesvig cited much of the success of TRIPLE ESPRESSO is due to its family-friendly content and timeless humor making it a strong recommendation for group and family outings from those who have experienced the comedy.

    Tickets for all performances through Sunday, Jan. 18, 2009 are currently on sale at the Civic Center Ticket Office and The Temple Theater Ticket Office two hours prior to every performance. Tickets are available now at all Ticketmaster locations and on-line.

    TRIPLE ESPRESSO tells the rags-to-riches story of Hugh Butternut, Buzz Maxwell and Bobby Bean, an aspiring comedy trio whose bid for showbiz fame and fortune ended in four minutes of magnificent failure on national television. It’s a high-energy, vaudeville-inspired comedy for all ages, packed with music, illusion, and monkey business, and bursting with fun.

    The show originated in Minneapolis in 1996 and has now played for more than 10 years in 35 theaters with over 8,500 performances. The comedy, written by Bill Arnold, Michael Pearce Donley and Bob Stromberg and directed by William Partlan has been seen by over 1.5 million patrons. TRIPLE has played in venues across the globe in locations such as Los Angeles, San Diego, Denver, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Chicago, Seattle, London, Dublin, Belgium, and Munich.

    01.02.2009: CCDC Audition Alert

    This text just in from the Head Artistic Director at Capital City Dance Center regarding this weekend's audition:

    "...4-5:15 class. 5:25-6 all. 6-8:00 4/5 that take at least 2 level 5 classes, level 5 +6. 8:00-8:30 level 6. Level 6 may get done early. Breaks will be given. Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T..."

    ...Yes, we have upgraded to late 20th century technology and added a text package to our cell plan. That means you can now text questions or if you're going to be missing class or are running late. But, as I said to class the other day, don't abuse the privilege. We care very little that: "Caught BFF wif my secret crush...running late 4 class". Just send us that last half unless it's pertinent and we should know. Those text numbers on our cards available in the lobby. AD also says no special "Stay In Shape" Pointe classes will be held before audition. She says Level VI dancers can take the regular class en pointe.

    01.01.2009: Talkin' 'Bout A Resolution, Y'All!

    A new year, a new beginning for some fresh optimism and change.

    ...So, don't just do the same-oh, same-oh, safe old stuff as you advance in your dance training in 2009! (I, myself, am trying to type this on my new, a-hem!, Blackberry Bold! Not bad so far, but the teeny-weeny keyboard really slows down the flow! Time to sign-up the ol' dial-up! ...I know! I know! Does anyone know how to tether this thang into 3G?)

    Here are, oh, nine suggestions to "dance fine in '09!" (These are for dance students intent on becoming the best dancers they can become. The rest of you were!o)

    1. Take all your dance classes. Or...
    2. ...Make up any missed classes. And, take extra! (That Saturday morning Pilates class, NE1? Hmmm?)
    3. Come early before class to warm-up and stretch.
      (Or figure out how to warm-up in the plane, train or automobile on the way to class.)
    4. Stay a bit after class to work on steps, corrections or fine-tune technique.
      Every 5-10 minutes makes a big difference over time!
    5. Do more partner stretching.
    6. Work stretching and extension building into daily non-dance routine.
      While you're reading, doing homework, watching TV or, even, sleeping!o)
    7. Write your corrections, combinations and dance epiphanies in a dance-only notebook. Review it often. Aim to not get the same exact correction more than two or three times at most.
    8. Watch as much live or Memorex or YouTube good dance as possible.
    9. Get adequate rest, sleep, good nutrition and injury treatment and prevention.

    We'll explore these suggestions more in depth in later posts...So, Happy New Year! May you dance well, dance often...and!...Dance Fine in '09!


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