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12.30.2010: Waxing Nostalgic

Lotta of out-of-sight, out-of-mind faces making appearances over the holiday break at CCDC and elsewhere. Giselle, Thai Dyer, Katya W00tang, Nick Name himself, Princess SarAurorah II also known as Ballet Jo MacAlester (who may have jumped off the Tallahatchee Bridge), the new-Mrs Hanson, Lindy Vander Emmen…and Shiny Anon’s sister, the Ashy Wren. (Where's Aurora the First, hmmm? And, Shiny! Ms All-Talk-And-No-Action! She's been MIA and being held incommunicado apparently!o) Wren asked me, hopefully, if I was on Facebook to which I replied in the negative. I asked her, hopefully, if she was on Twitter, to which she demurred. “Oh, well,” I said, a little deflated. “There’s always e-mail!”…Which raises the question, why I, and we, am not on the social network of everybody else’s choice. The usual flippant responses come to mind: “Don’t want those bill-collectors and angry ex-husbands finding out what I’m up to nowadays!” or “Too many old girlfriends still trying to track me down!” (And, those are Missy’s reasons!o) Look, it’s not like I’m hard to find. I’ve Googled me. If I can find me, anyone else can! And, this blog serves the purpose of updating everyone who knows me what I’m up to. THAT’s why I’m not on FB…yet. And…speaking of Nick Namez, guess who these refer to: Strad the Impaler, Princess Jadzmin, Calm Wind, Princess (What Time Is It?) Casio, Cousin Cracker and Singer Sower? If you haven’t got a clue, you haven’t been in break classes lately, have you? Then, I’ve got an old nickname for you! Hey, Perfect Stranger, where ya bean?

12.29.2010: More Feedback

Just got this in the e-mailbag:

 

"...Hi....Just wanted to extend a big THANK YOU for all of your hard work with the (Nutcracker). It was a delight! I am really happy that our daughter had the chance to work with you. She had only very positive things to say about her experience..."

12.28.2010: Brix+Mortar Offer

All that Christmas cash or gift-cards burning a hole in your pocket? Here's a chance to get some new danceware at a discount from a local retailer! (Tights without runs! What a concept!o) And, if you ordered some 2010-2011 CCDC logoware, that's being distributed as we speak. Be sure to wear that around the capital city (and beyond!o) to spread the word about the studio! CYa next week, if not sooner! (Hint, hint!o)

12.24.2010: Be Steal, My Bleeting Hart!

Bestest, Latest Tweetz=Bleetz!

  • Find out how to download video ballet tips from @balletguru on his website
    . Three bucks a pop? How do I get in on this?
  • Ain't no small roles only small dancers! Here's input from Pointe Magazine. And here's another chance to win some ballet swag!
  • The Joffrey using social media marketing on Facebook
  • "Prince-ly" blog post at Ballet.co
  • Guarding against ballet burn-out from Dance Teacher Magazine
  • Hey, hooferz! Check out the Tap Dance World Championships at The Tap Dance Blog
  • Injuries are a fact of a dancer's life. Here's how one PT company helped a principal ballerina from Athletico
  • Video excerpt and tribute to a seminal dance company coming soon to the Capital City from DanceMedia.Com
  • Catsup with the company that CCDC Summer Instructor Jason Hartley dances for at PBS.Org
  • eNewsletter offer from Dance-Teacher.Com. And, you can intern with the magazine! Find out more here.
  • Review of Nut from across the pond at thelondonballet.com
  • Rehearsal excerpts previewed from the new Nut from ABT

12.23.2010: There's An App4That!o)

Nice to see dancers making money on another stage. Check out ABT's Misty Copeland in the new Blackberry Bold ad:

12.22.2010: Search4Summer

No resting on your laurels after Nutcracker! Don't look now, but, here comes Summer Intensive Audition season:

We invite you to view our online brochure for Boston Ballet School's 2011 Summer Dance Program.

SDP has earned an outstanding reputation for a diverse curriculum and high-caliber training from internationally-renowned faculty. Beautiful, newly upgraded studios, a safe and fun residential program, and excellent ballet training make Boston Ballet School an amazing place to spend the summer. Details about our audition tour, which will take place in January and February, 2011, can be found here.

For questions about Boston Ballet School's Summer Dance Program, please email SDP@bostonballet.org or call us at 617-456-6269.

We look forward to seeing you at the auditions!

Sincerely,

Kelly Kerrigan
Manager,
Summer Dance Programs
Boston Ballet School

12.21.2010: Weekend Feedback

A professional dancer/choreographer in the area sends this along:

"...Hey! I wanted to tell you I REALLY REALLY liked your Merlitons and Russian choreography in the Nutcracker. They were my two favorite parts of the ballet.

Merlitons had very innovative designs and was so fresh and precise.
Russians had such great energy and the partnering and jumps were exciting and vibrant.

Wishing you could choreograph more and more sections!
Thanks for all your great contributions to dance in (the
Capital City)..."

...Aw shucks! Thanks, Mom! Your check is in the mail!

12.20.2010: Be Steel, My Bleeting Hart!

Bleeting the best, latest tweets:

  • Thought provoking commentary about that ballet movie from the Washington Post
  • Get your dance-themed backgrounds from the Hamburg Ballet
  • Do you possibly need to read yet another review of that ballet movie? Well, this one might add more fuel to the fire.
  • Dance book review from the same site
  • Interview with a PNB soloist from the Ballet News
  • Bunions are no fun, young 'uns! Here's info on how to prevent or treat them from Pointe Magazine
  • How dance benefits society from the Balletformen Blog
  • Gift suggestion for the Kindle-equipped balletomane from Ballet News
  • Thoughts from a Sugar Plum Fairy from the Toronto Globe&Mail
  • Are August Dance Intensives for you? Investigate the topic at Pointe Magazine. (And, advanced ballet dancers, note the input on videotaping technique!o)
  • Proper pelvice placement exercises as compiled by Dance Teacher Magazine
  • Class Webcontent from Dance Teacher Magazine
  • For you aspiring, prespiring tap dancers, "grab-off" demonstrated at DanceMedia.Com
  • In case you missed the televised SFB Nutcracker this past weekend, here's a retrospective from the Literary Review


...And, here's a little glimpse of that SFB Nut:

12.16.2010: Bess And Worth

I was talking to the dancer we lovingly nicknamed Victoria Best after her performances in one of the other Nutcrackers this weekend. I asked her how the guest dancers were. She sighed, rolled her eyes a bit and said, “Not good!” She said they were both very nervous before performance. Obviously inexperienced! Sad! We both agreed that was a huge disappointment. One of the many benefits of doing Nut every year is the opportunity to expose so many young dancers and audience members to what we hope is a professional standard of dancing and performance. So, that made me wonder, of the many Nutcrackers I’ve been associated with over these many years---and I’ve often said, for most American dancers, Nutcracker is the first ballet you ever perform…and the last!---who were the most memorable? Who were the best? And who were the worst? …(cue close-up of far-away look, dissolve to montage of stock dance stills, haunting Tchaikovsky music in background)…I loved Thor Sutowski/Sonia Arova’s choreography for Les Fleurs, it was moving and majestic and wasn’t afraid to actually “waltz” to Waltz of the Garlands! It performed the stage magic of enabling average dancers to look like a professional-enough ensemble! I enjoyed Frederic Franklin’s choreography for Trepak and set my Russian in homage to his seminal effort. I’m partial to my own Snow, Arabian and Snow Pas de Deux choreography, of course, and hope to set it again someday. But, as for the guest artists, Bonnie Pickard jete’s to the forefront when I think of the best Sugar Plums. She had a subtle crooked smile that glowed every time she lingered in a balance, which was often. And, she didn’t leave out the tiring and tricky menage at the end of her variation either! Modern dancer Kathleen Hurley also did a very sweet, if not technical, lead flower! Great feeling! Of the Cavaliers, I remember almost gasping at an incredible revelotade double that started off one male variation from a guest dancer from the Boston Ballet, I believe, whose name escapes me. And, I shall not name the worst male guest: he was long-in-the-tooth and should’ve done Drosselmeyer instead! He looked good standing still, but, his variation, I swear, consisted of big preparations and no tricks! He would constantly prepare for tours en l’air or pirouette…and, then! Do just one or two turns or just sobresaut or releve' and go to another bigger prep! And, still nothing! He would come off stage and ask me how it looked! I should've told him how bad he was, but, I was too polite, which I regret. I also remember a college-age lady who danced lead Flower and was bad at it. She would constantly ask me what I thought. I would give her a few corrections, but, I finally just stopped watching her so I wouldn't have to lie and tell her she did fine. And, of the guest Plums, I remember asking one dancer from ABT why she always pivoted on her heel when she turned to run to her partner before a big lift. I figured as a professional she had a good reason. She looked and me and asked, “Oh, my goodness! Do I do that? My bad!” …No, I thought, bad for us, bad for the audience…and bad for all the little dancers who looked up to her! I know whenever I guested (the few times I did) or that one time a dancer was late showing up and I was asked to stand by to do the Cavalier or during my one season as the principal danseur for that regional northern company, I felt enormous responsibility! I felt as if the fate of the entire evening rested on my shoulders. It’s not a task I took lightly and, hopefully, none of the guests in any Nutcrackers I’m affiliated with will ever do so either. (Croise fingers!o)

12.15.2010: That Ballet Movie Beckons...

Here it comes! Opens at The Fleur (parents strongly cautioned, not for kids):

OPENING FRIDAY
BLACK SWAN
Black Swan
follows the story of Nina (Portman), a ballerina in a New York City ballet company whose life, like all those in her profession, is completely consumed with dance. She lives with her retired ballerina mother Erica (Barbara Hershey) who zealously supports her daughter's professional ambition. When artistic director Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel) decides to replace prima ballerina Beth MacIntyre (Winona Ryder) for the opening production of their new season, Swan Lake, Nina is his first choice. But Nina has competition: a new dancer, Lily (Kunis), who impresses Leroy as well. Swan Lake requires a dancer who can play both the White Swan with innocence and grace, and the Black Swan, who represents guile and sensuality. Nina fits the White Swan role perfectly but Lily is the personification of the Black Swan. As the two young dancers expand their rivalry into a twisted friendship, Nina begins to get more in touch with her dark side with a recklessness that threatens to destroy her.

"This is, no doubt about it, a tour de force, a work that fully lives up to its director's ambitions." - David Edelstein, New York Magazine

RUN TIME: 1 Hour 50 Minutes
RATED: R for for strong sexual content, disturbing violent images, language and some drug use
GENRE: Thriller
CAST: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Winona Ryder, Vincent Cassel, Barbara Hershey
DIRECTED BY: Darren Aronofsky

Fri 4:40 7:15 9:35
Sat & Sun 11:20 2:10 4:40 7:15 9:35
Mon & Tues 4:40 7:15 9:35



12.14.2010: Yoko! Oh...Yes!

I shared my "brush with greatness" with my ballet class last night (one of them anyway. Ask me about taking class with Mischa sometime, running into LL Cool J at the Denver Airport or my backstage pass offer to the Smashing Pumpkins!o), so I thought I'd blog about it here: I'd been telling the students not to telegraph how hard they thought a ballet move was with their facial expressions. "No grimacing! No biting lips! We know it can be difficult! Make it look as easy as pie!" I said. And, I was about to tell them the best dancers always make the hardest choreography look simple and effortless when I remembered the exception that proved the rule (cue close-up of faraway look and bemused expression on face, fade to sepia-toned shots of a montage of old dance photos...)...I was training hard, but, had only been dancing a few years. Fortunately, I was a guy and the local ballet organization needed men to fill out the roles in Swan Lake. I was a glorified supernumerary, danced the mazurka variation in Act III, but, more importantly, the prima ballerina of Japan, a living national treasure, Yoko Morishita and, her husband, Tetsutaro Shimizu were cast as the leads. There was one section in their choreography where Morishita-sama would let go of her partner's hand and balance arabesque en pointe. Everytime, she would sway back a little, but, dangerously close to losing her balance and, then, apparently fight back to an even better, even higher pose. The audience would exhale in wonder. But, my teacher at the time, Yasuki Sasa, who used to be Yoko's teacher, explained that she was so good, she was toying with the audience. She could have held that balance without even a little quiver, but, the audience didn't appreciate such super-human perfection. So, he explained, she would allow herself to lose her balance just a little to make the audience think she was about to fall off pointe...and, then, regain it to let them know how difficult it was! And, as I watched through performances that weekend, everytime in that balance, every time it happened just as he explained. Now, I don't recommend this to ordinary dancers. You have to be extraordinary to even think about attempting to be less than you are so ordinary people can relate to what you do! So, let's get to extraordinary dancing first, then, we'll work from there, 'k!o)

12.13.2010: Live The Dream, GLEE-ks!

Hey, all you Jake+Jakettes! Didja see this? Audition for the Glee Project on Oxygen and a chance to earn a role on GLEE!

Audition coming soon to Chicago! Come and meet the casting team, along with the Glee Casting Director Robert Ulrich for your best chance to be on the show! You MUST come prepared to sing 16 bars (a capella) of one of the songs LISTED HERE. We can't wait to meet you!

Attention: Numbers will be distributed an hour before the auditions begin. Arrive early for your best chance to be seen!

CHICAGO
Sat,
December 18, 2010 either/or Sun, December 19, 2010

TIME: 10:00am to 6:00pm

LOCATION: Chicago Academy For The Arts
1010 West Chicago Avenue
Chicago, IL 60642

You will be directed upon arrival

12.10.2010: A Mother's Message

Parental unit of one CCDC family sends in this message:

"...Thanks so much for all the attention you give to all of your dancers! It is wonderful to see them all! Someone told me that I had talented dancers. I thanked her, but secretly I just think my kids have talented teachers. The dancers work hard don't get me wrong, but working hard won't get you anywhere good unless you are working hard in the right direction. And I know that you work hard to help them achieve their goals as well!

...Thanks again for everything!..."

12.10.2010: I Left My Heart...Right Next To The Nutcracker!

Chance to watch my favorite ballet company present their version of the holiday classic.

Sunday, December 12 — 08:00pm
0011 - IPTV (KDIN)
Dance in America: San Francisco Ballet's `Nutcracker'
Kristi Yamaguchi introduces a San Francisco Ballet production of Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker" that's set in 1915 San Francisco during the Panama Pacific International Exhibition. Clara: Maria Kochetkova. The Nutcracker Prince: Davit Karapetyan.
duration: 120 min
details: [cc] [stereo] [ed taping rights: 1 year]
genre: Parents Picks

12.10.2010: Be Steel My Bleeting Hart!

Best+Latest+Tweets=Bleets!

  • The latest DWT*** winner about to go under the knife according to People Magazine
  • A new take on an old Nut from the Pointe Magazine Blog
  • What the heck are sugar plums anyway? Find out from Houston Culture Map
  • Excerpts of Alina Cojocaru as Giselle from DanceMedia.Com
  • Questions raised about Tinsel Town's portrayals of ballerinas from the Philly Inquirer
  • An essay on the importance of eye contact from the Kennedy Center Blogs
  • A real ballerina's take on the latest ballet movie from The Huffington Post
  • Q+A with a newly promoted principal dancer from Ballet News
  • LA Ballet celebrates a birthday as noted by the LA Times
  • Breathing techniques for enhancing your dancing from Dance Teacher Magazine
  • Rejection is so personal for dancers. Deal with it! With help from the Pointe Mag Blogs
  • A dance critic's view of that ballet move from the Dance Mag Blogz
  • Key to surviving this Nutty time from Dance Mag
  • Another principal dancer reviews that ballet movie from The Daily Beast
  • Chance to win some ballet swag from Houston Ballet
  • Photo shoot with aspiring dancers and a ballet principal from the Girls Guide
  • More professionals weigh in on that ballet movie from the LA Times
  • Like it? Or loathe it? Maybe your reaction to that ballet movie depends on your age! The analysis from the LA Times
  • Latest installment of the national Nutty tour from the New York Times. And, here's the accompanying slide show.
  • More vid of dancer extras talking about that ballet movie from NBC Philly
  • Tips on types of shoes to wear...when you're NOT in dance class! From Pointe Magazine
  • There was a time I was waiting tables, training and auditioning in the Windy City. This Voice of San Diego article brought back some memories!
  • Backstage pix from Kennedy Center Blogs

12.09.2010: Finding A Place In The Sun

After Nutty season, it's time to start auditioning for national summer sessions. Here's one you might consider marking on your calendar:

PNB School Kicks Off National Audition Tour for 2011 Summer Course

Pacific Northwest Ballet kicks off its national audition tour for the 2011 Summer Course on January 8! Our Summer Course offers serious ballet students the highest caliber of intensive classical training, augmented by a rich diversity of dance forms necessary to meet the eclectic demands of dance companies today.

Students attend class Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm and Saturday mornings for a technique class. Summer Course also offers students seminars on a wide variety of topics including nutrition, dance history, music, foot health, production and pointe shoe care.

In our spacious, light-filled studios at The Phelps Center in downtown Seattle, students experience the ultimate setting for professional training while enjoying the benefits of PNB's outstanding faculty, rigorous curriculum, and safe, secure environment.

Audition students must be 12 to 18 years of age during the 2011 Summer Course. Registration with a $30 fee begins 1/2 hour prior to audition. Students should wear regular class attire and bring pointe shoes; no photos or resumes. Audition results will be mailed within one month.

And, here are the two closest audition sites to CCDC:

Kansas City - Saturday, January 8
Kansas City Ballet
1616 Broadway Blvd
Kansas City, MO 64108

4:00 ages 12-14
5:30 ages 15-18

Chicago - Sunday, January 16
The School of Ballet Chicago
17 N. State St. suite 1900
Chicago, IL 60602
4:30 ages 12-13
6:00 ages 14-15
7:30 ages 16-18

12.08.2010: Prodigal Posts

He lives! And! He dances!

"...Hey, (StPauliBoy) here! If anyone's free this weekend, I'm in a Graduate/Undergraduate Concert over at (Party Hearty You), and I'd love it if anyone could attend!

Here's a link to a site with a bit more information. I'm in the piece choreographed by Chris Masters.

-(GitUrFaShawn)

P.S. Sorry I couldn't take class at all over break, I had the flu, and on top of that was recently diagnosed with mono! In theory I'm pretty healthy right now, though, so cross your fingers for me!..."

12.07.2010: VidzRUs

To Russia, with love...of ballet! Check out this video:



...Here's a preview of coming attractions from Northern Ballet (This is NOT Princess SarAurorah the First's old company)


12.06.2010: Newz From da Nortland!

Here's some publicity from the current production CCDC alum Katya W00tang is rehearsing: (Live Music!o)

A "dazzling" holiday treat!

You won't want to miss The Nutcracker, choreographed by Allen Fields, set in New York City in the early 1900's, complete with Edwardian costumes, a lively historic Street Scene, the Party Scene in an elegant Manhattan townhouse overlooking Central Park, the Snow Scene in the glittery Central Park itself, with its iconic Arch Bridge.

There are all the characters you love in the favorite holiday ballet, plus the spice of a few new ones. Uncle Drosselmeyer, an eccentric toymaker from Duluth, has favorite niece Clara wind up a giant box; up pops a jack-in-the-box, soon joined by a dancing teddy bear. But Drosselmeyer's special gift is for the charmingly sweet Clara-a soldier nutcracker. Her mischievous brother, Fritz, and the Butler's equally mischievous daughter, Madeleine, immediately show their jealousy of the gift.

Later that night, a battle begins between toy soldiers led by the Nutcracker and mouse warriors led by the Mouse King. Masks cannot fully disguise the resemblance of the Mouse King to the Butler or three of the warriors to Fritz, the Butler's wife, and Madeleine. The battle turns against the soldiers, but with Clara's help, the Nutcracker triumphs.

The pair goes on a magical journey to wondrous places of whirling snowflakes, gorgeous cherry blossoms, and waltzing flowers costumed with a Degas look. And you'll want to see who emerge from Mother Ginger's enormous skirt! It's all to the glorious Tchaikovsky score, played live by the UMD Festival Orchestra.

12.03.2010: SuggestionsRUs!

Contribution from CCDC Guest Faculty Instructor Kathleen Hurley of Hurley and Dancers:

"...Perhaps you already know about this, but I found a great website that lists upcoming dance performances nationwide..."

...and, while you're clicking, latest biweekly update from Club Pointe is now available.

12.03.2010: Dance Vs Disease

The power of dance recruited in the fight against a plague on the arts and the world...

"...(Courtesy Newswise) — Bristol-Myers Squibb and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater today announced the launch of the 2011 REYATAZ® “Fight HIV Your Way” contest. The contest aims to help raise awareness about HIV/AIDS among the general public and inspire people impacted by the disease to continue their fight.

Now in its third year, the 2011 REYATAZ “Fight HIV Your Way” contest breaks new ground, incorporating the power of dance to celebrate the inspiring stories of selected individuals across the country who are fighting HIV their way. Beginning December 1, 2010 through February 28, 2011, individuals touched by HIV and AIDS are invited to share their stories – as a photo and essay – through www.fightHIVyourway.com or mail in their entries. Bristol-Myers Squibb will announce the ten first place winners in July 2011. These winning entries will be the inspiration for a new dance by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, created by a renowned choreographer selected by Artistic Director Designate Robert Battle. The work will have its world premiere during Ailey’s New York City Center season in December 2011 and be performed across the country as part of a 2012 national tour.

“Today, as we open Ailey’s New York season celebrating 50 years of Alvin Ailey’s inspiring Revelations and announce the launch of the Reyataz ‘Fight HIV Your Way’ contest, the poignancy of this date couldn’t be stronger: we lost our founder, Alvin Ailey, to the disease 21 years ago on December 1st, 1989,” shared Artistic Director Judith Jamison. “Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is proud to be paying homage to the thousands of individuals fighting HIV their way and look forward to unveiling this original collaboration next year.”

An expert panel of judges will evaluate the contest entries based on the impact of the photographs’ and essays’ visual and verbal expression of the fight against HIV, creativity, originality and overall artistic quality.

For more information on the 2011 REYATAZ® “Fight HIV Your Way” contest, including official rules and guidelines, and entry forms please click here...."

12.02.2010: 'Tis The Season

Even more Nutty video (interestingly enough, NOT to Nutcracker music!):


...And, here a little glimpse into pas de deux class from the same group...


...And, here's a sample of what we'll be trying in beginning partnering soon!o)


12.02.2010: Shopping4Den...er...Dance Students!

Gift suggestion for friends and families of serious dance students:

Share your love of ballet with your friends and family. Give a gift subscription to Pointe magazine!

Here's a sneak peek at what you'll find in the next issue:

  • An Interview With Sterling Hyltin, NYCB's Bold Balanchine Ballerina
  • Dating Civilians: Ballerinas Talk About Their Non-Dancer Partners
  • The Auditions Guide: Company Openings, Behind the Scenes at the Lines Audition and More!

Give the gift of Pointe magazine, 1 year (6 issues) for only $14.95 or
2 years (12 issues) for $24.95.

Save up to 58% off the cover price.

Order Your Gift Today!

Plus get an extra issue FREE when you pay online!

...And, here's another offer you might consider for high school upperclassmen:

The College Guide is the essential resource for dancers, teachers and parents. Whether you're looking to major in dance, minor in dance or get your MFA, the College Guide provides in-depth coverage, advice and information on finding your perfect college or university program. Featuring:

  • State-by-state guide to 600+ dance programs
  • Insider info on applying, financial aid and how to ace your audition
  • Practical tips from students on how to best prepare yourself before you go

ORDER NOW

...And, not sure about products from Ballet Strength, but, can always recommend most products from Finis Jhung. (Just be aware not every teacher is on board with the music selection in his class CD's)

12.01.2010: Be Steel My Bleeting Hart!

A few recent bleets:

11.30.2010: Voices of Angels

Missed the 2010 State All-Star Band/Orchestra/Chorus concert earlier this month? Here's a tip that I'm glad to pass on to y'all...chance to catch those ethereal "voices of angels"...
"...Hello,

My name is Brekka Spellman and I am the marketing manager at the Youth Chorus. Just wanted you to know about our upcoming event. This Saturday December 4th at First Christian Church 2500 University Ave...at 4:00 PM we are having our annual Candy Cane Concert. This is a wonderful opportunity for people from the community to come and listen to holiday music and feel the spirit of this Christmas season. You can find tickets at our website.

Thanks for your time,
Brekka Spellman..."

11.29.2010: Poppin' Fresh?

To truly enjoy the Disney and Cameron Mackintosh production of Mary Poppins, you have to be better than I am at letting go of adult cynicism and watching with the eyes of a child. Where an adult might see and appreciate the slick packaging, excellent casting and a well-written production, a tot will see and sense the magic and feel the wonder of the very first British super-nanny restoring order to the dysfunctional Banks family. But, sit too close and see too many shows and you'll sense if not see the wires holding up the actors in the flying scenes. If you could only watch with new eyes, you would've seen the sly Nicolas Dromard as Bert in chimney sweep mode tapping up the sides of the theater and, even, upside down at the top of the three-story proscenium arch. Watch as a child and you would've seen the marvelous Caroline Sheen "practically perfect" as Mary Poppins float serenely and effortlessly over the Civic Center audience in the climactic farewell scene. Kudos also to the talented and precocious Banks children: Camille Mancuso as Jane and Talon Ackerman as Michael in the Saturday evening show before nearly full Civic Center. Watch as an old fogey and you would've seen the telescoping hat rack pulled out of the magic carpet bag. But, watch as a child and you would've seen Sheen reaching into her bag of tricks and make magic like Felix! So, if you go to see the show, bring a kid AND your inner child and enjoy the well-thought out and Disney-slick production. (Great ensemble dance numbers, but, speaking as a cynical ex-dancer, I would've like to seen larger "fig leaves" on the statues...and more demanding choreography for the soloists!)

11.26.2010: Be Still My Bleeting Hart!

Bleets: (n) vernacular defined as "best, latest tweets":

11.25.2010: 'Tis The Season...2BFreezin'!

Happy Thanksgiving! For all you kids rehearsing these days, this is what a world-class Nutcracker looks like:

...And, here's the commercial for a highly regarded *school* production of Nutty:
...And, this year's Nutty Oddysey continues from the New York Times. And, then, there's this article that speaks to the not-too-distant future of our little performers of today.
And, here's an instructive quote for dancers occasionally chided for being too slow (Sound familiar, Souper Grrl?.  If the ballet slipper fits, Cinderella!o) :
"...The Pastorale Quartet in “Sonnambula,” for example, had a musical precision it rarely receives; here and elsewhere the Farrell dancers are unsurpassed at arriving with (actually, a hair’s breadth ahead of) the beat, so that they reveal the music by embodying it rather than following it. In “Monumentum” and “Movements,” these revelations combined with changing physical geometries so that space, shape and body language led us deep into the internal working of the music..."
...read the rest of that article here. And, be sure to enlarge that picture!  How over-crossed is that grand assemble' en avant?
Just got tweeted an offer from Ballet-Bible.Com. I took a look, but, I still think it's best to just keep or start taking classes at CCDC to become the best dancer you can be. But, if you're looking for a gift for your aspiring dancer, I'd suggest something from the highly respected FinisJhung.Com.

11.24.2010: Russkie Stretching

Russians say "If you're not dancing, you should be stretching..."

11.23.2010: Dancing With What's Left

The long (ho-hum) awaited, greatly (yawn) anticipated final results of DWT*** will be announced tonight. (Zzzzzz!) But, the loss of Team Brandovsky last week was as much of an upset IMNSHO as when Team Sabrallas was let go in an earlier season. Not to pick on Team Brallas (because Team Schwimmasey should've been let go before Brax exited), but, the final dance-off lost a lot of its mojo without the much-anticipated showdown between frequent scoreboard leaders, Jennifer and Brandy. One has to wonder how much of the unexpected result was a "Max Backlash" (maxlash?)...or the much ballyhooed "Tea Partiers4Palin" e-mail voting bloc. If the show's results can be swayed so much via the web, producers will have to consider installing stiffer safeguards...or the show will doddle the way of the dodo! (Take a note, producers of Paula Abdul's dance show coming on CBS in January!) So, I predict...a lot of bad dancing tonight (I'm looking at you Hoff, Cho and Boltin!) and a ton of filler to sit through before Team Grough is awarded the cheesy mirror-ball trophy. She'll be crowned the winner and, rightfully so, in my book. The losers are those of us in the viewing audience that appreciate good dancing. I don't think Brandy could've beaten a rejuvenated and reenergized Jennifer dancing Derek's stellar choreography, but, her body of work should've earned her the chance to try. And, word of warning to any future stars, team with Chermokovsky at your peril. His strong dancing, hit-and-miss choreography and beat-you-over-the-head coaching can take you so far, but, his bristly, belligerent relationship with the judges and viewers will keep you from going much farther. Beware the Max-lash!

11.22.2010: Shining On Another Stage

Congratulations to the CCDC students who won all-state designation for their other musical and vocal abilities this year: 'Da 2K2Mster, Steffi Graff and Rivulet. (And, special kudoz to The Li'L River Grand who has a chance to become a four-time letter winner!) As someone who wasted my parent's hard earned money at lessons on at least two musical instruments and whose own voice teacher famously told him "stick to dancing", my chapeau gets doffed to anyone with any musical inclination at all! We attended their All-State Concert at the Hilton Coliseum this weekend. Very impressive and talented students! My chorus director in the one college musical I was in always told us to enunciate, "more lips!" and "sing with one voice!" And, that's what I heard through the cavernous acoustics of the recently repaired arena. It seemed like the guest directors were determined to put the all-stars through their paces with technically demanding selections. And, the kids, for the most part, responded with aplomb! Kudoz to all! Over 4,000 auditioned, a few hundred were selected. If you missed it, the concert was recorded and will be televised on statewide Public Television at least twice. Check your local station listings for availability. Maybe we'll get a cutaway of Li'l 2K all dressed up in her chorus robes singing her lungs out!

11.22.2010: Be Still My Bleeting Hart!

New Bleets: (defined as "best, latest tweets")
  • Passing Balanchine down to the next generation from the Los Angeles Times
  • ...and, insight into performing Mr. B's pieces from the blogs from the Suzanne Farrell Ballet
  • Take a master class from SYTYCD alum Alex Wong Manhatta Movement Center
  • Keeping track of pointe shoes...and an update on a dancer who guested in central Iowa a few times from the blogs from the Suzanne Farrell Ballet
  • Don't let drinks sabotage your health! Slake your thirst for knowledge at Men's Health Mag
  • "Cupcakes and Conversation" with an up-and-coming star from Ballet News
  • Love it or hate it, we catch it red-handed. The latest poster for that new ballet movie from New York Magazine
  • Will another ballet usurp the stranglehold the Nut has on the holidays? Trend or coincidence from The Guardian
  • And, The Guardian offers webvid essay on the quintessential ballet costume. Is it too, too much?
  • The end of a season from Dance212
  • The effort to maintain a national ballet company from The Winger
  • Review of the Young Choreographers Showcase from the New York Times
  • Note the Balanchine prep in these pirouettes from YouTube.Com
  • An invaluable opportunity as reported by The Washington Post
  • Dancing...and a study by cognitive scientists from The Independent
  • Some ex-Army guys decide to crash a dance-fitness training session---and live to regret it!---from the Sports Connection

11.19.2010: Black Friday Looms!

E-mail offer from a local shoppe, Mark's Dancewear:
"...Join us Thanksgiving weekend, November 26-28, 2010 for our Customer Appreciation Sale!! Receive 20% off your ENTIRE purchase and enter to win prizes and gift cards valuing up to $200!! Take this time to stock up on competition items! Don't forget the cookies!! :)..."
...And, here's the link to their printable coupon. And, got another notification from the Theatrical Shoppe as well.

...But, if you can't shop locally for some reason, here's a national offer from an internet retailer:

"... $.99 Cent Shipping on All Orders over $49.00
Use Code - 99SHIP ..."
...And, anyone who signed up for e-mail offers from DiscountDance.Com got some interesting offers lately. a 24-hour sale on ballet slippers and another on tights. If you're interested in that kinda thing, sign up at their website homepage.

11.18.2010: Odile En Pointe And...On Steroids!

Here is yet another disconcerting "mash-up" of acrobatics and ballet. (Sigh) Okay, guess we'll have to start working some of this stuff in beginning partnering...(kidding!) Click below to watch:

 

11.18.2010: DTH Again?

The long overdue possible resurrection of an iconic dance company. More information from the New York Times. And, a glimpse at the stirrings here.

11.17.2010: Tweet From The Future Past

Frequent contributor sends this along:
"...good quote of the day--
"If you want to work on your art, work on your life."
Anton Chekhov, short-story writer and dramatist,1860-1904..."
...And...who knew the Ensign from the Starship Enterprise was so insightful and so active on Twitter?

11.16.2010: The Semi-finalz!

Well, the now-avuncular NFL MVP has danced his last and has taken his last, lonely walk to the locker rooms of DWT*** since my most recent review of the show, as well as Team Chick. I guess I should've been more supportive of Team Warnunskaya, but, (snark alert!) my allegiance to good dancing trumps my geographic alliances. Kurt's a great guy and his principled participation was praise-worthy, if not his dancing. I could quibble with him getting benched in favor of Team Pallas...which leads me to the latest speculation in the blogosphere: that Tea Party supporters of her mom are skewing the vote in favor of the former First Daughter from the frozen north. Now, nobody likes a good conspiracy theory more than me, but, I hardly think there are a lot of TP'ers watching the show. (I'm sure the risque' ballroom outfits don't pass their approval. Where's Edyta the Bodynskaya when you need her?) We'll find out more tonight if Bristol manages to put the kibosh on Team Schwimmasey. On the other hand, the top two remaining in my rankings are neck-and-graceful-neck. I'm just wondering if Brandy's stellar dancing can sway the anti-Max voting bloc. Chermokovsky may have jinxed The Singer's chances with his hissy-fit with the judges. Here are my latest rankings:
  1. Team Bramakovsky: Brandy has been much more consistent in her recent outings. Her biggest question mark? Max's uncompromising ability to ruffle feathers and alienate an audience! His ability as a choreographer is also questionable. He's never won before. Will Brandy be his big breakthrough? Or, will he be Brandy's snifter?
  2. Team Grough: Jennifer Gray has started to come back. She's found her second wind and is more than capable of waltzing away with the mirror ball. But, she's physically and emotionally fragile. Still waiting for that dance to Time Of My Life and, if that's in the finals, she'll win it walking away. Derek is also an inspired choreographer and a proven multi-mirror-ball winning coach+teacher.
  3. Team Kylacey: Kyle is so much sharper and better than when he started. With, that unflappable charisma, if he focuses, he could win at the wire.
  4. Team Brark: Bristol is better, much better, smooth and musical. But, you can take the Alaskan out of the dental office, but, you can't take the Alaska out of the former receptionist. (Does that make sense at all?)

11.15.2010: We R Knot 4Gotten!

She lives! An update from CCDC Alum Lindy Vander Emmen! Good way to start off your Monday with an interesting outsider's take on an annual ballet obsession:
"...I ran into an article on the nytimes and thought of you guys! () I bet Nut season is getting crazy right now. I didn't even ask when I was back, but are you and Emery involved with one this year? Rehearsals for the tap group I'm in are picking up now. Our show is in early January, right before finals. That may not be the best, timing wise, but the show goes on. Schoolwork is again intense. Our Thanksgiving break is the week after next, so professors think it's a good idea to pile on work before. I will be staying here for Thanksgiving, so maybe I will have some time to relax. I hope everything is well with you!

Besitos,
Lindy..."

11.12.2010: Be Still My Bleeting Hart

The best of the best latest tweets (bleats?):
  • How best to capitalize on dance on TV from Dance USA
  • Have you been cast as Clara? Maybe you can pick up some tips from the student who has the same role in ABT's Nut. Peruse the pointers from Pointe Magazine. And, click here for some major marketing from the old Ballet Caravan
  • Caution! Men dancing! Celebrate with BNet
  • The BIG pointe shoe glue giveaway from Pointe Magazine
  • Dancers speak! Dancers write! Dancers blog at the Pacific Northwest Balletwebsite
  • Interview with a ballet principal dancer from Pointe Magazine
  • Medical advice on Jumper's knee from Dance Magazine
  • A glimpse inside company class from Dance 212
  • Tips on how to revive a classic from a deep slumber from Dance Magazine
  • On a dance caravan to Havana as chronicled by ABT
  • Interview with a British danseur in the Ballet News
  • A plethora, a veritable cornucopia of backstage at the ballet from Ballet News
  • Chance to hear a contributor to this blog talk about her dance career with Radio Alice
  • Video of ABT's return to Cuba courtesy of CBS News
  • Review of Farrell Ballet from Ballet.co
  • This made me feel a li'l bit better about my feet! Check it out from Pointe Magazine
  • Talking about teaching from Pointe Magazine
  • Interesting insight about a Cuban ballet company class from Abi Stafford
  • Jaffe meets Kolpakova from Pointe Mag
  • Great interview+pix with aspiring dancer from Ballet News
  • Latest video installment from ABT II on tour from Dance212

11.11.2010: Et Cetera

More forgotten nu(gge)ts from 'da tree!
"...Whoops! Add Alaine Haubert to the list of teachers while I was in Hawai'i. She danced at Joffrey and went on to become ballet mistress at ABT...."

11.11.2010: Calling All Model-Wannabeez!

I've always complained about some of the models used by danceware catalogue companies. What's the deal? Are they trying to show non-dancers would look good in their outfits? Well, now here's a chance for you to help fix that problem AND get a leg-up on your super-modeling career! Check out this from Curtain Call.

11.11.2010: Audition Action

Your career as a master thespian beckons:
"...Fifth Annual Playwrights Workshop
Again and Again, and Eventually by Erica Spiller

This drama follows Marshall as he desperately grasps at threads watching his family dynamics evolve. He is a one-man army fighting against the drug abuse, medical conditions and deployment that terrorize and threaten his family. Despite the enormous battles Marshall tries to fight, he is plagued by one grand war—the struggle to never surrender.

Auditions
November 15 and 16
7:00 p.m.
Arrive early to complete information sheet. Prepared monologues not required.

Cast Requirements

  • Male: one 20-30, one 30-55, two 55+
  • Female: one 30-55, one 55+

Location
Rex Mathes Auditorium
1401 Vine Street

Performances to be held January 21 – February 5

Contact info@tallgrasstheatre.org
More information available at www.tallgrasstheatre.org...."

11.10.2010: Tree Treat Extra

A plea from 'Da Prodigalz:
"...('Da Niece) and I have just been given an assignment to produce family tree-style charts depicting our instructors' training history. We were hoping we could find out who all you two (both you and Missy, respectively) have trained with, and if you know who they, in turn, trained with in their day. (Nice Knees) and I'll have to supplement this information by going back through these names on the internet and in the library to learn more about each one of these instructors and try to go back as far as possible through finding each teacher's teachers..."
...Hmm, lessee...the man I call "my ballet teacher" is Nolan Dingman. He told me he learned how to teach the Balanchine style from "Mr. B" himself during the Ford Foundation grant seminar series during the 1960's, I believe. He never told me about his teachers earlier than that, but, Mr. Dingman did say he learned his wire-walking and gymnastics from The Flying Wallendas when the circus performers wintered in his native Florida. I know Nolan taught at the North Carolina School of the Arts before he came to Hawai'i. After teaching in Honolulu for a few years, he returned to Florida where he passed away a few years ago.

Before Mr. Dingman, I trained with Yasuki Sasa at the University of Hawai'i and James McCuen at his private studio. I danced in various companies under the directorship of John Landovsky and Pam Taylor-Tong of the Atlanta Ballet. I danced Nutcrackers under the direction of Sonia Arova and Thor Sutowski. I also took modern with Betty White, the original Desdemona of the Jose' Limon Company and Phyllis Haskell of the Ririe-Woodbury Company. My jazz/contemporary training was deeply influenced by choreographer Jane Cassell as a founding member of the Third Wave Dance Theater. After I moved to Chicago, I took class with Marjorie and Maria Tallchief on scholarship with the Chicago City Ballet School. I also trained with Homer Bryant, Larry Long and Baruti Barodicaite (sp?) in the Windy City. I was then hired by the Duluth Ballet and danced under artistic director Nancy Gibson-Dornacher. At the Des Moines Ballet, my artistic director/choreographer was Kennet Oberly. Got that? There'll be a test next Thursday!o) As for Missy, you'll have to ask her yourself...

11.09.2010: Clash Of Media

Twitter squashing some rumour-mongering in the blogosphere. Here's the scoop straight from the horse's mouth:
dizzyfeet: I'm not sure where the rumour came from that #SYTYCD is ending. It's a LIE. Back next year with both a Top 20 and the #AllStars.
...and...
dizzyfeet: November 15th audition for #SYTYCD season 8 in Brooklyn. Check out Fox.com/dance.
...@DizzyFeet also tweeted that he's in full support of Paula Abdul's new dance competition reality TV show. Nigel Lythgoe feels like I do, the more dance the better. Also, intriguing hints he's dropping "...both a Top 20 and the #AllStars... Hmm, best of both worlds! More time to get to know the dancers and more chances to see the dancers we already know. Who's on your wish list to see perform again? I hope Twitch, Neal and Allyson get asked back. But, I could stand to see more Katee, Benji, Travis, Blake, Sabra, Heidi and Russell just off the top of my head, as well!

And, we missed the audition announcement, but, here's more on that Paula Abdul show coming in January to CBS:

11:08.2010: Monday Morning Message

Great way to kick-start the weak with this e-mail from recent CCDC alum 'Da Ringer, currently matriculating at the school we lovingly refer to as Party Hearty You:
"...Dearest Missy, Emery, Alissa, and of course everyone at the studio,

As of late, I've been working really hard on getting back on the ball after being sick. I've been looking and applying for jobs and basically just working very hard to ge my life back together. The point is, that I have been super super stressed and have kind of been trying to lock myself inside to get stuff done. However, I got out of my dorm for a much needed night with the former and current CCDC gals (and guy) to see Dance Gala.

It was already enough just to get to see (HamerHitzHomerz) and (Witness Protection Program) and catch up on all the studio drama, but I didn't expect the night to emotionally impact me the way it did. The first piece of the Gala was the worst for me. It was the only contemporary ballet piece, besides the one (Da Zoob) and (Gitcherfashawn) were in, but really that was more modern. It was awfully messy and I heard that they had been working on it all semester so its like "get it together!" (Da Niece) and I laughed about how Missy must have suddenly and inexplicably been very bothered by something Saturday night and it was because of that piece. :) hahaha. But despite this, the full experience of watching dance again and sort of tearing it apart in mind was just thrilling for me. I just beamed and told (Hameriffic) how glad I was that I was here and how much I had missed dance.

The pieces the rest of the show were really great though! There was this strange, funny, almost perverse modern piece that inspite of its weirdness, the clarity and meaningfulness of the movements really invoked a strong emotional response for me. (StPauliBoy) and (Spiderwomanz) piece was REALLY great as well and the both did AMAZING. (SABoy) surprised us all with his studly modern dancing skills!! Atta kid! Another piece used a lot of dialogue throughout that really defined the message of the dance is such an interesting way. The dialogue was very repetive, but it said things like "Every minute, every second...all different" . And the choreography was just really captivating. The last piece was like a giant brazilian dance party and was pretty much happiness personified. I couldn't stop smiling the entire time.

So after all of this, I'm like peeing my pants I'm so inspired and moved and glad to be apart of the dance world again. Its one of those feelings were you are just speechless and you can hardly get enough air...you are just so full of joy and emotion! and I even start crying when we were congratulating poor (Nick Nameboy), like tears of joy. But I suppose they were sad too. I just miss dance and everything it means to me. Not to mention, all of the amazing people at the studio who have inspired me so much over the years.

The point of this email and me telling you all of this is simply gratitude. To my teachers: thank you for giving me this gift and instilling such a passion in me that hasn't disminished at all in the many months I've been separated from it. To my fellow dancers: Missy tells you this all of the time, but always remember why you dance... because you LOVE it. If you didn't, it wouldn't be worth. Never let the strains of life or the stresses of dance let you forget that because what we have is just too precious. Its so hard sometimes, I know, but there are times when I look back and think that I wished I could have just relaxed and enjoyed dance for the simple joy of doing it. Remember what Missy always told me: we are working toward the UNATTAINABLE...perfection. So give yourself a break! It ends too soon! I have faith that many of you will have a bright career in dance ahead of you, but for those dancers who will end up on a path more like mine, that is fine too. I am SO grateful for everything dance has given me and last night proves that it still plays an important part in my life.

I will definitely pay at least one (hopefully more :) ) visit to the studio ...and look out, I'm planning on taking class! The ballroom class I'm taking here just isn't doing it for me! I guess I'm just not used to being in a class where people have NO rhythm and NO desire to even being there... its rather un-inspiring. Anyway, yes I will take class but anyone who laughs at me is going to get it! ;)

I miss you all so much and hope everything is going well at the studio. I'm just going to throw this out there...if anyone has time in their busy schedule to write me a letter, do it because I LOVE getting mail and will always find time to write you back :) . (100 Burge #4549 Iowa City, IA 52242) I love you so much!!!

Fondest Regards,
('Da Ringer)..."

11.05.2010: Friday Nite (Web) Videos

Wow! No wonder this has always been my favorite ballet! Intriguing glimpse into the coaching and making of the Royal Ballet's R+J:

Hey, Rocky! This is what I mean...

An international take on your future competition at a National ballet school:

Anybody else up for some pas de deux?

...And, here's a goldmine site to check out one person's opinion on the 50 Best Ballet Blogs. No, we didn't make that list. (sniff! not hurt...really...WAAH!)

11.05.2010: Money4Nuttin'

Help4Non-Profitz:
State Cultural Trust Stability Grants of up to $2,500 are available for projects in non- profit cultural, arts and history organizations to measurably improve their ability to be financially stable and sustainable.

Possible ways to use Stability Grant funds:

  • To hire a consultant to advise on appropriate policies and structures related to nonprofit financial or fundraising best practices
  • To assist in developing a financial, fundraising, or endowment building plan
  • To do fundraising for the applicant organization.
  • To hire new fundraising staff or expand a current fundraising position
  • To train board and/or staff members on fundraising, financial management or endowment building

All requests must show a dollar-for-dollar cash match.

Why extend the deadline?
We realized the news about the availability of these grants may not have reached all the organizations that could be eligible in time for the original November 1 deadline. It's worth extending the deadline if we can help boost financial stability and professionalism in a few more cultural organizations.

For information
Review the State Cultural Trust Stability Grant Guidelines on the Department of Cultural Affairs web site.

We encourage questions! If you're unsure if your organization will qualify, or have questions about the training requirement, please contact: Sandi Yoder, Cultural Trust Grants Manager

11.05.2010: Dance Series

Tickets going on sale Monday.
Capital City – Tickets for individual performances of the Civic Center’s inaugural season of The Dance Series will go on sale to the public at 9 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 8, 2010 at the Civic Center Ticket Office, all Ticketmaster locations, charge-by-phone at (800) 745-8000 and online at CivicCenter.org. Groups of 15 or more should call (515) 246-2321.

PILOBOLUS Wednesday Jan. 26 7:30 p.m. $25.00 / $45.00

MARTHA GRAHAM DANCE COMPANY Saturday March 5 7:30 p.m. $35.00 / $55.00

JAMES SEWELL BALLET Thursday April 28 7:30 p.m. $25.00 / $40.00

All pricing includes a Building Restoration Fee of $2.50

The Civic Center’s new dance series for 2010-2011 will feature three of today’s most highly acclaimed dance companies. Civic Center President & CEO Jeff Chelesvig said “Since our inception, the Civic Center has been committed to presenting the very best in the performing arts. (The Capital City area) is home to many dance enthusiasts and performers, and we feel this is the right time to launch this series and to bring these brilliant and internationally-known companies to the community at an affordable price.”

THE DANCE SERIES PRESENTED BY THE CIVIC CENTER:

PILOBOLUS (Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2011 at 7:30 p.m.) Pilobolus began in 1971 and quickly became renowned the world over for its imaginative and athletic exploration of creative collaboration. Pilobolus practices a unique kind of modern dance with highly acrobatic, fearless dancers, theatrical costumes, a great sense of play and most of all, collaboration. Known internationally for presenting work of exceptional inventiveness and physical beauty, Pilobolus has been celebrated for its ability to conjure up a world of surrealistic images using props, light, shadow, humor, and the human body.

MARTHA GRAHAM DANCE COMPANY with musicians from the Symphony (Saturday, March 5, 2011 at 7:30 p.m.) Founded in 1926 by choreographer and dancer Martha Graham, this is the oldest and most celebrated contemporary dance company in America. Graham choreographed 181 works in her lifetime, and this Civic Center premiere will feature one of the most beloved and celebrated, Appalachian Spring. This iconic work, composed by Aaron Copland, demonstrates Graham’s pioneering approach to time and space on stage. The original, ground-breaking score will be performed live.

JAMES SEWELL BALLET (Thursday, April 28, 2011 at 7:30 p.m.) Founded by James Sewell and Sally Rouse, James Sewell Ballet is a close-knit company of eight professional dance artists who perform innovative work that honors the tradition of ballet and explores the more contemporary elements of dance and the technical boundaries of ballet. The acclaimed company will present a mixed repertoire, featuring Chopin Tribute, a new work celebrating Chopin’s 200th birthday accompanied by award-winning Polish pianist Tadeusz Majewski, East Meets West inspired by the Indonesian Gamelan and French composer Satie, and Made in America, a suite of short dances set to classic songs from the United States.

All performances in The Dance Series also include an exciting opportunity to deepen the dance experience with DANCEtalks. One hour before each performance in The Dance Series, come and learn more about that evening’s performance from the company’s artistic directors and staff as well as local dance experts. And following the performance will be an intimate in-theater conversation and Q&A with the dancers. An exclusive Dance VIP Package is also available. Benefits for the Dance VIP Package include two Season Ticket packages in VIP seating, access to the Patron Circle Lounge during The Dance Series performances, playbill recognition as a supporter for The Dance Series and more. A portion of the Dance VIP Package is a tax-deductible donation to support Civic Center Dance programs. More information about VIP packages can be found online or by calling 515-246-2353.

11.04.2010: Looking For A Few---Make That At Least One!---Good Man

Hmm...fact of dancer life: guy dancers are like gold. Check this out:
ABT II is currently looking for a male dancer between the ages of 16-19, with an advanced level of ballet training. Must be at least 5’9’’ and must be available to start rehearsals in New York City on January 4th, 2011. U.S. citizens and green card holders are preferred. If you are not a U.S. citizen, please include your past work visa history.

Only serious applicants with a minimum of 3-5 years intensive classical ballet training should apply. Please send photos, resume/curriculum vitae, and DVD or YouTube links which should include adagio in the center, 1 or 2 pirouette exercises, 1 petit allegro, and 1 grand allegro, as well as a classical variation, to American Ballet Theatre, Attn: Kelli Gilson, 890 Broadway, 3rd Floor, New York, New York 10003 or email kgilson@abt.org.

11.03.2010: "Live!" Ballet Bayou

Ask and ye shall receive...an e-mail like this:
"...I think this is what you are looking for...

It sounds like the promotional name is Ballet In Cinema. There is also an Opera in Cinema promotion going on as well...

...Thanks to Momma Jungenfurter! Wow! Giselle and Don Q are on the list of ballets coming! By the Kirov and the Royal! Plus, a slew of under-exposed ballets...and one over-exposed Nutcracker! But, I think watching professional dancers in almost anything will be educational and motivational for students. Be sure to attend some of these showings, otherwise, these tutus will go the way of the dodo. For example, Mao's Last Dancer has already exited stage left. I think it left far earlier than it should've leaving some dance students in the lurch. But, also make it a pointe to support live performances as well.

11.02.2010: Putting Me In Media

Well, this field of DWT*** gets my vote as one of the most---ho-hum!---boring of all the seasons. Now, almost any selection of celebrity-dancers would suffer in comparison with the Scherzinger-Lysacek duel of earlier this spring, but, even without those impressive ballroom dance-shoes to fill, this season might be terminally yawn-inducing. Watching the top ten dances-of-ALL-TIME last week (And, how about "ruff, tuff" Derek Hough and Apolo Anton Ono for multiple appearances on that list!) made me wistful for those electric performances from the past. (I'd quibble with at least one Olympic Gold Medalist appearance on that list). The Not-So-Dirty Dancer's mis-steps last week exposed her vulnerabilities. The judges were scoring high and appeared poised to give Team Jen-ough-er more tens, but, her lack of emotional control derailed that possibility. Team Braxim is leading almost by default. So, with those caveats, here's the latest GoCCDancedoC guess who's most at risk tonight. Remember, this is for amusement purposes only! As the snarkmeister says, "Please, no wagering!o)"
  1. Team Jerek: Jennifer Gray's revealing her weaknesses. Her physical limitations are starting to weigh her down. The spirit is willing...and she still has time to pull it out at the end. Still waiting for a dance to Time Of My Life.
  2. Team Brax: Brandy was over-scored by judges trying to gin up enthusiasm for a weak field. Her upper body was clue-less and she lacked crispness. A mediocre effort last week.
  3. Team Schwimmacey: Kyle started strong last week, but, his frame and attack deteriorated the longer he danced. Good thing his dance didn't last much longer! His greatest strength is also his greatest weakness. There needs to be performance AND technique!
  4. Team Burxe: Rick needs to concentrate on the total picture. His second arm is often just an after-thought. He still looked more Megatron to me! The height difference will prove to be his achilles' heel.
  5. Team Brallas: Bristol has improved so much! Kudos to professional partner, Mark for teaching and coaching a much-more fierce tango than expected. She's learning quicker than expected about becoming a much more polished performer.
  6. Team Warnunskaya: Kurt has the self-deprecating smile and the demeanor of an old-time movie star, unfortunately, he lacks the musicality and coordination of a real-time competitor on the dancefloor. I think he's going to have much more time to concentrate on his new career as a broadcaster soon.

11.01.2010: Ballet Bayou?

So, Mmmadd Skyllz tells me she saw a trailer at a local movie theater promoting a coming satellite broadcast of a ballet from Russia. Couldn't provide me with many details. Wynnsong, apparently. Searched on the web, but, I couldn't find any local information. Has anyone else heard about this or know where I can find out more? Clue me in!

11.01.2010: Don't "Tan, Don't Burn!"

Repeat after me, dancerz! "Sunscreen is our friend!"...(Don't be like Brown Rice!)
(Courtesy Newswise) — Back to school means new classes, clothes and schedules, including a heavy calendar of social events. Unfortunately, many young adults, particularly young women, head to indoor tanning salons in preparation for high school and college dances in the fall. Despite repeated warnings about the dangers of indoor tanning and the fact that there is no such thing as a healthy tan, many women feel peer and societal pressure to be tan, thereby putting their health at risk.

Using indoor tanning beds can raise the risk of getting melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, by 75 percent. In fact, melanoma is increasing faster in young women (15-29 years old) than in young men in the same age group – and a major difference in behavior is that women are more likely to use indoor tanning beds. Nearly 28 million people tan indoors in the United States annually. Of these, 2.3 million are teens.

“While many health issues are complex and involve multiple factors, we know that ultraviolet light can cause skin cancer and avoiding excessive exposure is the solution,” said Elizabeth S. Martin, MD. “Yet despite this knowledge, the number of skin cancers continues to rise each year. Even more disheartening is the fact that teens continue to tan despite the known health risks.”

Several misconceptions by teens may be at play, according to Dr. Martin, including the false belief that indoor tanning is safer than tanning outdoors. The fact is the amount of ultraviolet (UV) radiation produced during indoor tanning is similar to the sun, and in some cases might be stronger.

In addition, young adults may think that skin cancer will never happen to them. This is not the case as more than 2 million new cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed in the United States this year.

“Dermatologists are seeing more and more young women in their offices with serious cases of skin cancer, and these patients often have a history of indoor tanning,” said Dr. Martin. “Skin cancer, which used to be a disease mostly seen in older men, is ballooning in young women — the very target audience of the indoor tanning industry. It is unfortunate that the pressure young adults face to conform to cosmetic ideals presented in popular culture and advertising is so powerful, even with all we know about the dangers of tanning.”

Indoor tanning is so dangerous that the United States Department of Health and Human Services and the International Agency of Research on Cancer panel have declared UV radiation from the sun and artificial light sources, such as tanning beds and sun lamps, as a known carcinogen. Indoor tanning equipment, which includes all artificial light sources, emits UVA and UVB radiation.

“Despite past claims by those in the tanning industry that UVA rays used in indoor tanning are safer because they do not cause sunburn, scientific evidence proves that this claim is untrue,” said Dr. Martin. “UVA rays cause deeper skin damage and are linked to melanoma. Therefore, self-tanning lotions or spray-on tans are the only safe way to achieve a tan look.”

Sunless tanning lotions and sprays contain dihydroxyacetone, or DHA, which interacts with the proteins in the skin to produce a tan that gradually fades. Recent technological advances have resulted in longer-lasting formulations and more realistic looking results, as opposed to the orange-ish hue of previous generations of self-tanners.

“It’s important to remember though that the color produced by a self-tanner does not provide adequate sun protection for your skin, so be sure to continue to generously apply a water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 that provides broad-spectrum protection from both UVA and UVB rays to all exposed skin,” said Dr. Martin.

Preparing for a dance shouldn’t come with health risks, remarks Dr. Martin. “Tanning for social events is not worth the lifetime of damage to your skin and the potential for skin cancer. I encourage young adults to seek alternatives to tanning and embrace their natural skin color, and encourage their friends to do the same.”

10.29.2010: Be Still My Bleeting Hart

The best of the best latest tweets (bleats?):

10.28.2010: Letterz2DaProdigalDaughter

Sent this back to CCDC Alum Syllkk Da Shaka!:
Hey SmoothAsSyllk, Ah! Great to hear from you! Nice to hear you're back dancing again. Merde for performance! How's the choreography? Let me know how it goes! Once a week class? Are you en pointe? Be safe now!

Just got back from a weekend trip to Duluth to see Katya's "official" debut with the Minnesota Ballet in "Sleeping Beauty". I haven't been there since I saw the skyline in the rear-view mirror after my one season with the precursor company, the Duluth Ballet. (No truth to the rumor I was being chased out by a crowd of unpleasant peasants with torches and pitchforks! It was actually angry husbands and bill-collectors!o) But, surprisingly, someone actually recognized me in the lobby of the DECC. Called me by name as I walked by. It was a volunteer that worked with the company when I was there. Nice to know someone still remembered me after all these tears. After the show, I bought a T-shirt from her and I asked her about my former director. "Oh, she was just here", she said. Missed a reunion with my old director by a few minutes. Oh, well. Next time. ...If there's a next time.

Katya made us proud! She looked like she belonged on stage with the more long-time professionals in The Sleeping Beauty. Her extensions were there, performance was there. The company is a lot better than when I was the principal dancer...

...the principal male, Avram Gold (former Omaha Theater Ballet) was excellent! Nice turns, nice double cabrioles, excellent partnering! He saved his partner by putting her back on her leg several times. She had some occasional nice balances, decent extension...

...I actually got to take Missy around to different spots I remembered in Duluth. Everything looked the same, but, different...without four feet of snow on top of it! But, I did take her to the lakeshore where I used to rent a small apartment. Drove by the old studios at The Depot.

(Also drove by where I rented the attic of an old house I moved into after sewage backed up in the first apartment. I recognized it because the laundromat next door was still there. But, the house was gone! Where I used to lay my head is now a parking lot. I was hoping they'd memorialize the place, maybe, even install a little bronze plaque...but, no such luck!o)

...Then, so much for nostalgia! Drove to Mall of America where I spent more money than I should've! Yay Nordstrom's Rack Sale!

...Okay! As always great to hear from ya!

Kyoo tsukete ne? Jaa, mata!
GoCCDancedoC

...And, apparently we just missed the start of the Winter of 2010 in the Northland of America! Watched the weather news last night and they were playing video of the *7-inches* of snow that fell in Duluth yesterday. Close call. We could easily have been mired in that mess. But, if I recall correctly, 7-inches is "a light dusting" in that far corner of Minnesota-Wisconsin where "lake-effect" snow from Lake Superior is a way of winter-life. What a rude awakening that was for a "loco boy" from along Kalaniana'ole in far-off tropical Hawai'i! So, gotta appreciate the calm, balmy autumn so far while it lasts here in the Capital City!

10.27.2010: No Biz Like Shoe Biz!

Hey, Cinderella! Pointe Shoe sale! One week only! The more you buy, the more you save! Surf to Discount Dance! Anyone got performances coming up anytime soon? Hmmmmmmm?

10.27.2010: Liquid Refreshment

So, you've sworn off soda! GOOD4U! But, now, is there anything besides plain H2O you can bring to sip on in dance class? I like gourmet, loose-leaf hot tea myself! (Currently drinking a half-and-half blend of Madagascar Vanilla+Cinnamon Orange black tea from that Friedrich's at 42nd+University! Also, love that stuff from Teavana and Gong Fu Tea!o) But, did you ever wonder if the latest wave of nu-hydration drinks lives up to the hype? Check out a breakdown from Men's Health Magazine

10.26.2010: Audition Info

Your chance to scratch that acting itch:
Fifth Annual Playwrights Workshop
Again, Again, and Eventually by Erica Spiller

This drama follows Marshall as he desperately grasps at threads watching his family dynamics evolve. He is a one-man army fighting against the drug abuse, medical conditions and deployment that terrorize and threaten his family. Despite the enormous battles Marshall tries to fight, he is plagued by one grand war—the struggle to never surrender.

Auditions
November 15 and 16
7:00 p.m.
Arrive early to complete information sheet. Prepared monologues not required.

Cast Requirements

  • Male: one 20-30, one 30-55, two 55+
  • Female: one 30-55, one 55+

Location
Rex Mathes Auditorium
1401 Vine Street

Performances to be held January 21 – February 5

More information available here.

10.26.2010: Smooth As...Syllk, Ah!

CCDC alumnus Sylkk Da Shaka is back dancing! Read 'em and weep! ...with joy!:
"...I'm currently in Yamanashi, Japan doing research over the effects of food and lifestyles on health. School has also started out and I have been keeping very busy trying to learn the language all over again!

I have also been taking a ballet class once a week in order to stay in shape. This is the same studio where I started ballet back when I was three years old so its nice to have my ballet career come full circle. The studio is on full blast right now trying to prepare for their recital. The ballet mistress wants me to be in it also, but its the flower waltz from the Nutcracker....I thought I would never dance it again! But I have been practicing with them so we will see if I actually make it on stage.

I hope everyone is doing well at CCDC. I miss everyone and hope everyone is keeping healthy as it gets colder outside.

(Syllk)..."

10.26.2010: 2Market2Market2BuyA...Tix2Ballet!

No sooner had we returned from a trip to see Katya W00tang's official professional debut this past weekend, then we get this in the mail! Local dance groups take note: Marketing, marketing, marketing! It's essential for arts organizations to survive:
Join Us For This Year's Sugar Plum Fair!

Sunday, November 7, 2010
2 - 4 p.m. Ballet’s Adams Studio
Grain Exchange
8th floor, Board of Trade Building
301 West First Street

Kick off The Nutcracker season with this wonderful afternoon of savoring delectable desserts from The Exchange, bidding on beautiful ballet items and nutcracker decorations, and enjoying presentations by the Creative Dance and Ballet III — VII students.

$5 admission - purchase tickets at the door.

All proceeds benefit financial aid to qualifying students at the School of the Minnesota Ballet.

10.26.2010: Performance Tip

Speaking of marketing...(You may be able to spot the name of a popular CCDC instructor in the following cast list!o)
Join Hurley & Dancers with new music ensemble Asphalt & Stained Glass for the Mid-Week Music Performance at St. John’s Lutheran Church, 600 6th Ave., this Wednesday, Oct. 27, 12:05-12:25 p.m. with lunch following. For more information, call (515) 243-7691 or visit here. No admission; freewill offering.

Choreographers Lisa Lewis and Kathleen Hurley have created dance solos with the eclectic repertoire of Asphalt & Stained Glass led by Larry Christensen. Dance performers are: Kathleen Hurley, Lisa Lewis, Paula McArthur, Lindsay Schwab and...

*** ALYSSA HAMER!!! ***

10.25.2010: Happy Halloween

Bring out ye dead! And, pray for the livin'!
The Art Center celebrates its 10th Annual Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) on Sunday, October 31 from 1 to 4 pm at 4700 Grand Avenue. To mark its 10th anniversary, this celebration will survey a century of Hispanic leadership and salutes gifted, civic-minded personalities from many decades. The event is FREE and open to the public. Day of the Dead is a moving ritual that is playful, yet respectful of death, and ultimately affirms human life. It has been celebrated in parts of Latin America dating to pre-colonial Mesoamerican times. Families honor their ancestors and the recently deceased with commemorative altars (ofrendas), special foods, visits to grave sites, and other activities. During this festive time of year, it is believed that souls return this day to enjoy earthly pleasures.

Festivities at the Art Center will include live music by Latino Pride, a film highlighting the contributions of the honorees, family workshops inspired by Day of the Dead folk art traditions, and performances and artwork created by local elementary school students. Day of the Dead art by children and adults will also be on view in the Adrienne & Charles Herbert Galleries. Traditional refreshments including pan de muertos (Day of the Dead bread) and Mexican hot chocolate will be offered, and authentic Mexican food will also be available from local vendor Tacos Andreas.

Visitors can participate in family art workshops by decorating sugar skulls – a tradition central to the holiday, and under the leadership of Drake University’s World Languages & Cultures program, decorate ancient ceremonial masks. Artwork created by students will also be on exhibit. Paper memories (photos, stories, names, etc.) can be displayed on the interactive remembrance wall in the Art Center lobby during the celebration. Mementos may include a copy of a photograph, a story, and/or name of a loved one. A creative writing station with supplies will be available in the lobby. (Materials will not be returned.)

The five honored leaders selected by the Day of the Dead community advisors each made impressive contributions to their professions as well as to the community. A film highlighting their contributions will tell their story, and a traditional Mexican folkloric youth dance group will perform. The altar created in memory of the honorees will likewise tell their story. Altars are an important part of the celebration; simple or elaborate, the purpose is the same – they are created to honor loved ones. The altars include the four main elements of nature: earth, wind, water, and fire.

10.25.2010: Input Wanted!

Your tax dollars at work! Take this survey to send feedback to the state Department of Cultural Affairs:
We Want to Hear From You!

Whether you're an audience member, artist, community member, elected official, or arts professional, we want your input!

Help the Arts Council's strategic planning by taking this 10-minute survey on your views about the arts in the state, and the role of your state arts agency.

Act now! Survey closes Thursday, October 28!

Note: this notice is being through multiple lists and multiple vehicles. You may receive it more than once - but please don't complete the survey more than once!

Feel free to forward this link to other residents, including your own contact lists. More responses give us more information - that's what we want.

Link to the survey: here.

10.22.2010: Postcards From The Edge

Recent excerpts of interest from e-mail exchanges to CCDC faculty:
"...Thanks for all that you give to each dancer. As (my dancer) says 'CCDC rules'..."
...and...
"...(My dancer) thinks the world of you. As a parent, it is very reassuring to have such positive adult role models in their kids lives! Thank you for all of your hard work and love! I feel that she is getting the highest quality of instruction at CCDC, and tell everyone that asks. (I even tell people who don't ask!)..."
...and...
"...Today is the flashmob...I'm not sure when it ends. Thanks!!..."
...??? You're welcome, I think? (How long do you think it'll be before we shorten "flashmob" to "flob"? As in
"...L82bllt 2dy, i b flobbn"?
...Okay! Just bring a note from your "flobbmeister!" ("Flobb Guru"? "Flobbinator"?))

10.21.2010: International Opportunity

Russia's Mariinsky Theatre is offering webcasts aimed at introducing cultural events to a younger, international internet audience. Check out the schedule here.

And, I used Google Translate to translate that schedule. (Not sure what the time difference would be.) Here it is:

The broadcast schedule:
October 24, 2010, at 11:50. The first concert of the 13th season ticket "How to create an opera performance."
November 14, 2010, at 11:50. The second concert of the 13th subscription "Wonderful world of opera."
December 5, 2010, at 11:50. The third concert of the 13th season ticket "How to create a ballet."
February 6, 2011, at 11:50. The fourth concert of the 13th subscription "Magical World of Dance."
February 27, 2011, at 11:50. The fourth concert of the 14 th season ticket, "Legend of the beautiful Syuimbike.
March 6, 2011, at 11:50. The fifth concert of the 14 th season ticket "In the world of ancient legends."
March 13, 2011, at 11:50. The fifth concert of the 13th subscription Orchestra rises to the scene. "
...and check out their library of webcasts here. They run a translation of the Russian along the bottom during interviews. The dancing, of course, speaks for itself. I enjoyed the excerpts from Swan Lake, Giselle, R+J and the graduation of the Vaganova Academy.

10.20.2010: Funding Dance Documentary

Wow! Here's a chance to help underwrite a potential documentary on Prima Ballerina Maria Kochetkova. You could get screen credit...even executive producer listing if you have a spare couple of grand burning a hole in your pocketbook! Donate as little as a dollar up to...sky's the limit! I'm going to have to really consider this one! (And, I got all excited after I retweeted the plea from @BalletRusse because the SFB Principal dancer then started subscribing to my tweets! Imagine! A world famous dancer reading my random comments via social media! WHAT A COUNTRY! But, when I checked her account, it turns out she follows over *4-thousand* other tweeters. So, I'm a little less special than I thought---by comparison, I follow just under a hundred tweeters myself. And, I just added a bunch on recently---But, my goal of choreographing or coaching, say, Petipa on such a world-class dancer is un petit pas closer!) And, I spoke to our own SFBGrrl who had a chance to sit in on a meet-the-dancer session with Kochetkova this summer. Says she seemed very soft-spoken and shy and sweet. Masha seems to be another dancer more comfortable with letting her dancing doing her talking for her. And, Souprr Grrl was a little less complimentary about some other professionals the students encountered while at SFB. Reminds me of the time my friend took me to class with Mischa in LA. Steven Hook told me to please not bother Baryshnikov while at Stanley Holden's studio. So, even though the three of us all walked together after class, I never asked him for an autograph, didn't introduce myself, didn't ask him for corrections...or a job! It was only years later that I finally got my autograph when Der Kommissar gave us that signed photo of Mischa and Rudi that's hanging in CCDC Studio A. ...hmm...what was I writing about? Oh, yeah! Consider donating to the Kochetkova documentary project! You could get a DVD autographed by Masha herself!

10.19.2010: Putting 'Me' Back in 'Media'

I haven't been blogging much about the latest season of DWT*** recently. Oh, I still record and watch the show, but, I haven't been very excited about this season's contestants. And, I still watch open-mouthed at Baby's iridescent tango last week and Team Grough has risen to the top as the team to beat. (Professional "ruff tuff" Derek Hough has the coaching and choreographic skills to take the cream to the top. Wonder what he would've been able to do with Alaska's former first daughter?) But, is it just me? Or is there just a lack of interest in this latest crop? Or am I just suffering from Post-Pussycat Doll Syndrome? We may go a long while before anyone matches up Nicole's impossibly high standard! And, I can't argue with the loss of The Huff, The Cho, The Bolt and The Sitch so far. But, I just wanna pointe out a common misconception The Situation apparently suffered from. His partner, Karina Smirnoff, was trying to "hide" his lack of dancing ability by choreographing a lotta lifts seperated by a lotta posing and precious little dancing. And, Mike thought since he did the lifts, he did the dance and that oughta qualify him for some good scores. But, he learned the hard way that lifts or tricks are NOT dancing. (And, a lotta local dance students will also run smack into this concrete lesson!) But, it was time for him to go. (CYA, Sitch! And, don't let the door hit your pigeon-toed, muscle-bound, steroid-pumped abs on the way out!o) So, who's gonna go tonight? Here's the latest CCDancedoC list of the "anointed" and the "Soon2BDisappointed": (Remember! Still haven't watched last night's recording)

  1. Team Grough: Jennifer Gray's tango last week deserved a 60! Tens across the board for technique and performance! She's the strongest in a mediocre field. Still waiting for a dance to the theme song from Dirty Dancing.
  2. Team Brax: Brandy just needs to rediscover her romantic and sensual side to bring a little more passion to the dance floor. She knows that great art is not produced by paint-by-numbers. Great singing goes beyond hit-the-notes. She needs to learn great dancing is not produced by dance-by-numbers.
  3. Team MasseyLacey: Kyle's charisma is off the charts! If he can add some maturity and depth to his performance and dramatic ability, he'd be more than a sleeper!
  4. Team Audrony: Audrina is doing well, but, she's the stereotypical Cali girl/MTV star in my book. Looks good, great teeth and plastic parts, doesn't sound too bright. (Is that too snarky? LOL!o) Dancing also lacks depth and maturity. If Tony can help her discover that, then, she'll go further than expected.
  5. Team Cherick: Rick cleans up really well and has a face made for television. He's got a shade more musicality and coordination than the other athlete on the show. He's fighting a distracting height difference that makes him appear a little hunched over too much. Fox needs to use his plie' and fondu' a lot more.
  6. Team Warnnah: Kurt is doing better than feared as well. I used to work with him during his long-ago Barnstormer days. He's become much more media-savvy and physically adept. He's fighting the usual athlete's problems: tendency to hunch shoulders, clunky upper body, too flat-footed. But, he has much more charisma and a killer smile that's sure to bring in more votes than Clyde Drexler
  7. Team Brallas: Bristol is just your typical Alaskan girl-next-door. No performance or training background. But, surprisingly smooth and very endearing. But, enduring? Hardly!
  8. Team Florky: Florence's rhumba last week was disturbing, odd, and, yet, something to be celebrated. On the one hand, "YOU'RE MRS. BRADY!" On the other, celebrate yourself! Age should be no barrier to romance. But...did we really need to see that? Definitely ambivalent on this one!o)

...What do you think? Input accepted here!

10.18.2010: Hamer Hitz Homerz!

Oh, ho! Now we're apparently playing "have you seen this?", the YouTube.Com topper game! Here's CCDC Contemporary/Modern/Stott Pilates Instructor Alyssa Hamer's latest submission:
"...Found this video and wasn't sure if you had ever seen it. If not, worth a watch!..."

...Okay! We'll be trying some of these moves in beginning partnering soon! Promenades en pointe on a guy's head! Start practicing now! ***Just kidding!*** Kids! In case you were crazy enough to think about it: DO NOT TRY THESE MOVES AT HOME!

10.18.2010: Twites Of Intewest

Culling the best of the best recent tweetz:

10.15.2010: Webvid DanceTV

Another preview review of that ballet movie from the Philadelphia Inquirer.

But, this is the movie I really wanna see!


...speaking of Russia, why don't they run this television ad here in the USA?

...and while we're on the subject of "just do it":

...hmmm! ...Dang! You can waste a lotta time on YouTube! Um...Research! That's what we'll call this next one!
...okay! Comments say these girls are 14-and-15 years old! So, just do it! Go do your homework! And...stretch while you're at it! And dream of better things to come!

10.14.2010: Ballet Blogging

Apparently, I'm not the only one blogging or tweeting ballet corrections on the internet! Fellow islander Finis Jhung will be beginning ballet podcasts soon...and you can purchase a lot of material from his website, but, you can read his dialogues for free. Here's a gem from one:
"...As I keep telling my students, "You look like what you do. You are what you think." You are so important to us because you are creating incredibly beautiful performances which make us forget our troubles and see hope for the future. ..."
...and, for those of you planning on becoming principal dancers with NYCB, be sure to read this one) And, read these insights from some of the dancers in the Suzanne Farrell Ballet:
"...Last week in class we were in the center doing adagio and Ms. Farrell gave an analogy that I think I will never forget. The adagio combination involved an attitude promenade...We finished the combination and we were given a few suggestions and then we were also told to make sure our attitude promenade was more like a rotisserie chicken: equally browning itself on all sides. So, I will be thinking of this when I'm dancing... :)..."
...and...
"...Ms. Farrell used another analogy last week in rehearsal and again it made me laugh. But, made perfect sense. She was rehearsing the girls in their variations for Divertimento No. 15 and was trying to get one of the girls to be fast with her legs and then softer/slower with her arms. Then she said, 'It's kind of like sweet and sour chicken. You want a little bit of both flavors'..."
...Check out other interesting insights from the blog. And, when you check out the company website, be sure to click on the artist profiles over on the right side. Some of them include some mildly interesting Q+A. Most of the answers seem like they're perfunctory, except, maybe, for this one or this one.

10.13.2010: Jots From Jill

Note from the Director of CCDC's Young Children's Division:
"...We have another big star amongst us at CCDC. Tommy A____ is playing one of the lead roles (Oliver) in the play The Adventures of Nate the Great (and the Gooney Green). Tommy presently takes our Musical Theater class on Thursday and our Boyz Class on Saturdays. He is a really nice addition to both classes this fall at CCDC!

So let's all support Tommy and hurry and go see Nate the Great. It's showing now!

:)..."

10.13.2010: Dangerous Curves

Parents! Keep an eye out for this:
(Courtesy Newswise) — Scoliosis may sound like a frightening diagnosis, but proper treatment enables children with the condition to lead normal, active lives.

Scoliosis refers to an abnormal curvature of the spine. Small curves are a normal part of spine anatomy and are not cause for concern, according to Dr. Daniel Green. But when the curvature exceeds a certain range, children require medical attention.

“Many cases of scoliosis are mild, and periodic checkups may be all a child needs,” Dr. Green says. “But youngsters with a curve that continues to increase may need treatment.”

Scoliosis tends to run in families. The most common type is called “idiopathic scoliosis,” which means the cause is not known. However, studies show that scoliosis is not caused by poor posture, the use of backpacks or any type of exercise. It affects girls ten times more often than boys.

Scoliosis is often first detected during a routine visit to the pediatrician or during a school screening. “Screenings at school are an important safeguard for many children, especially those who may not have a regular healthcare provider,” says Dr. Green.

The development of scoliosis is usually gradual and painless. A curve can develop without a parent or child knowing it, until it becomes more pronounced. Viewed from behind, a normal spine appears as a straight line from the base of the neck to the tailbone.

Signs of scoliosis:

  • one shoulder appears higher than the other
  • the waist appears uneven
  • one hip looks higher than the other
  • the ribs appear to protrude on one side
  • the child seems to be leaning to one side when standing

Parents who notice any sign of scoliosis, however subtle, should take the child to the doctor for an evaluation. If a child does have scoliosis, early diagnosis and treatment lead to a better outcome. Although rare, severe cases of scoliosis with a large curve magnitude can cause back pain, fatigue, difficulty breathing, and can affect the heart and lungs.

The diagnosis is based on a physical examination and x-rays. A curve of greater than 10 degrees on an x-ray is considered to be scoliosis. “Treatment depends on the age of the child, the degree of the curve and how much the child will continue to grow. The goal is to slow or prevent progression of the curve and to improve the way it looks,” Dr. Green explains.

For patients with smaller curves, the pediatric orthopedist may recommend continued observation. For more significant curves, the best treatment may be a brace to correct the condition, according to Dr. Green. Some braces are worn throughout the day and evening, and other braces are worn only for sleep. It’s important for the child to wear the brace as instructed. Most children get used to their brace after a short time.

For children with more advanced scoliosis -- those with a curve of 45 degrees or more -- surgery may be recommended. Scoliosis surgery is a complicated operation that takes several hours. When choosing a surgeon and hospital, parents should make sure the physician specializes in this type of surgery and is highly experienced in the procedure, according to Dr. Green. Parents and children should also feel comfortable with the doctor and make sure he or she takes the time to answer all of their questions.

“Performed by an experienced surgeon, the operation generally results in an excellent correction of the curve and significant improvement in spinal alignment,” Dr. Green says. “Left untreated, a curve that continues to progress may eventually affect heart and lung function. Done later in adult life, surgeries are lengthier and tend to have a less satisfactory result.”

People can check a hospital’s ratings on the Internet and make sure it has a good reputation. For more information about scoliosis, click here.

...and ballet class is generally beneficial for a child diagnosed with scoliosis. One of our instructors was slated for a brace when she was younger. Her older sister had to endure those treatments. But, after the younger girl started taking ballet, the doctor was surprised to discover the brace wasn't going to be necessary. It's all about strengthening the right muscles. Check with your medical professional, of course, but, it seems to me to be another argument for rigorous ballet classes and proper placement-based dance technique like we teach here at CCDC.

10.13.2010: Other Dance Disorders

...And, just to lighten the mood a little, here's a repost from a few years ago. I'm thinking of submitting it to a magazine with a little rewriting and editing. Whaddya think?

(Courtesy CCDancedoC) A rapidly spreading pandemic of "kneesles" has been confirmed in dance studios across the country. Noted Ballet Mistress Melissa Uyehara says the disorder is often fatal to an aspiring dancer's career. She defines "knee-sles" as the apparent inability to FULLY STRETCH the knee when it's located behind the body. "Positions like arabesque or tendu derriere shouldn't be 'out of sight, out of mind'. They should be some of the longest lines in the classical repertory," she said. "That back knee needs to be not just straight, but, stretched." She added, "Remember that old ballet adage: It's not how long your leg is...it's how you make your leg long."

But, experts also report a rash of other dance disorders persisting despite the best efforts of good instructors. In an effort to inoculate the dance community from the spread of further deficiencies, Capital City Dance Center and the Federal Bureau of Ballet Standards today released the following list:

Mirror-itis:
Over fixation on staring at self in the mirror. Often causes loss of proper tilts and turns of the head.

Toes-acea:
Chronic inability to completely point the pedal extremities. Can lead to terminal arch-nophobia, improper use or lack of use of the entire foot and ankle.

Chicken Pox or, more fully, Chicken Wing Pox:
Dropped elbows and fingers causes sufferers to look like they're extending sad, plucked little 'chicken wings' to the side.

Epaule' Virus:
Inability to spiral body gracefully to address the shoulders with an uplifted chin and focus. Shoulder blades need to remain engaged and under.

Chronic Cranial Absencia or Sporadic Space Case-dness:
Lack of concentration or attention when teacher is giving combination or corrections. Leads to lack of retention. Sometimes known as "In One Ear And Out The Other" Syndrome.

Posterior Protrusion usually accompanied by Abdominal Obtrusion:
Often caused by improper pelvic placement. Symptoms are self-explanatory...and will only get bigger.

Turner-culosis:
Inexplicable disappearing act during pirouettes. Instead of lifting more by pushing into the floor and speeding up the turns by getting taller and tighter, sufferers just waste away during the end of turns.

Selective Hearing:
Similar to Chronic Cranial Absencia. When students stop listening after only hearing part of a correction or compliment. Often leads to misunderstandings.

Floor-us Fixation:
An unexplained fascination with looking down at one's feet.

Fellow Fever or Fellow Spotted Fever:
Reduces many otherwise serious dancers to giggling messes and flirtatious behavior when new, hot guy takes class. (Even not-hot-guys! And, if this isn't incentive for you boyz 2 men to volunteer for partnering class, I don't know how to spell it out plainer!) But, girls, if it's not Justin Bieber, Bloom or Depp, battu your eyelashes on your own time!o)

10.12.2010: Free Will Hunting

This caught my eye: Donation Based Dance Classes in New York City. Made me think: Is there any interest in a similar program here in the capital city? Well, it's really already in effect at CCDC. We probably won't go to just free-will offerings anytime soon, but, if you're poor, talented and/or willing to work for classes, we won't deny you a chance to dance. (But, is there any interest in free-will offering classes? Maybe we could do that on Sunday? Whaddya think?) I worked for classes when I was young, healthy and poor with only a dream in my heart to sustain me. Sometimes I worked at the dance studio, sometimes at local restaurants. Now, that I'm old, feeble and poor, it's time to give back what was given to me so freely. So, if you have the desire to dance, we won't turn you away. (Maybe barter for classes? Hmm...I can see farmers pulling up on their combines, dropping off their daughters in their home-made cotton leotards and hand-knit tights, carrying pails of raw, unpasteurized milk, two goslings and a dozen bushels of unshucked soybeans! LOL! Hmm, may have to rethink that one!o)

10.12.2010: Best Awareness Month

One of our favorite danceware websites is supporting Breast Cancer Awareness Month. And, everybody loves a sale!

10.11.2010: Times They Are A'Changin'!

My, my! How times have changed! I doubt if my ballet teacher ever got this excuse e-mailed to him like I did this weekend...
"...I cannot come to tap today because I have practice for a flashmob I'm in..."
...come to think of it, my teacher, Nolan Dingman, didn't have e-mail. So, I guess I should rewrite that as...
"...I doubt if my ballet teacher ever had a student pluck a gander, notch a quill pen, catch the squid and squeeze out the ink, scrawl on papyrus and liberate the carrier pigeon to deliver this message...'can't come to clogging, because have to dress up as Indian to dump tea in harbor'..."
...What will happen in the future? I shudder to think what my students will dictate...
"I doubt if Emery ever had this excuse teletweethed to him..."Cant com2retro disco hustle 2day, hav2prctic for virtua-happening...on BETELGEUSE IV!"
...listen, I like to think I'm a fairly early adopter, despite our family's FaceBook Fobia, (Have you subscribed to my Twitter feed yet?) but, attaching "Luddite" to my resume' is looking better and better all the time! And, who needs to 'practice' for a 'flashmob'? Aren't they supposed to be nearly spontaneous? One of you young+chronically hip please fill the old dude in on this, plz!

10.08.2010: Where In The World Is 'Mad Keys'?

You many not have heard much here from San Francisco Ballet dancer @madisonkeesler recently, but, she's all over the web and, apparently, you can always ask questions of the SFB corps de ballet dancer and read her earlier answers here

10.08.2010: Tip of the Month

Monthly tip from Harkness Center For Dance Injuries:
With an average 200 jumps per class and a landing force of up to 12 times body weight, the dancer’s jump is an essential part of their training. Many of the common injuries seen among dancers, including lateral ankle sprains, tibial stress fractures and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) ruptures, occur during jump landings. Hence, it is important to adequately prepare the body to contend with these high stressors experienced in jumping requirements. Plyometric training has been incorporated into the athlete’s cross training routine to enhance speed and jump height since the 1960s. The concept behind plyometrics is to impose quick, powerful movement loads onto a muscle group in order to activate a stretch-shortening cycle within it. It has been evidenced that appropriate progressive jump stretch overloads to a muscle will not only result in a measurable increase in the muscle’s contractile force production and jump height outcome, but also in a decreased amount of time needed by the muscle to overcome the imposed stretch load and reverse it into the desired contractile reaction. One study conducted on volleyball players showed that six weeks of plyometric training reduced landing forces by 22% and unsafe, anteromedial knee moments by 50%. In order to test the use of plyometrics on dancers, the Harkness Center For Dance Injuries created a 6-week plyometrics training protocol specifically designed for dancers. The participating dancers found significant increases in quadriceps and hamstring strength as well as horizontal jump distance. Including plyometrics training to your dancer’s routine, in a safe manner, can positively impact their jumping ability and prevent common jump related dance injuries.

10.07.2010: Once Upon A Time...

Here's an invitation from the Minnesota Ballet. This will be the "real" professional debut of CCDC graduate, Catherine W.:

Start your dreaming with one of the world's favorite fairy tales--as only ballet can tell it. Step far back in time to a medieval kingdom deep in a primeval forest. Richly-costumed dancers light up the starkly imposing stone castle first at the christening of the baby Princess Rose and later at the ball for the grown-up Princess. In a dark corner of the castle she pricks her finger on a spinning wheel and falls senseless, fufilling the terrible spell of the evil fairy Carabosse.

A forest of thorns descends over the castle, the beautiful princess sleeping until awakened by the kiss of Prince Charmant. A masked ball celebrates the breaking of the spell with exotic creatures looking as if they have stepped from a tapestry. The love duet by Princess Rose and Prince Charmant promises the happily-ever-after we all dream of.

Saturday, October 23, 7 p.m.
Sunday, October 24, 3 p.m.
DECC Auditorium

For tickets and information, contact the Minnesota Ballet
301 West 1st Street Suite 800
Duluth, MN 55802
218-529-3742

...and, pass the word! Looks like her company is looking for at least one good man:
For the 2010-2011 Season: The Minnesota Ballet has an immediate opening for a male dancer for the 2010-2011 season. This is a salaried position with benefits. Contract will be for September through March.
The Ballet accepts résumés and videotapes by mail year round.
Send to:
ATTN: Robert Gardner
Minnesota Ballet
301 West First Street, Suite 800
Duluth, MN 55802
Enclose self-addressed postage-paid envelope for return.

Videos should include barre and center (including pointe for women) and in performance if possible. You may be asked to attend a Minnesota Ballet company class.

The Minnesota Ballet does not accept résumés by fax or e-mail.

Equal opportunity to participate in and benefit from the programs of the Minnesota Ballet is provided to all individuals regardless of race, national origin, color, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, or disability in admission, access, or employment.

10.06.2010: Chinese Connection

After I left the company and a few years BC (Before CCDC), I was free-lancing teaching/dancing/choreographing and staying in shape by training at various studios around the Capital City. I was in a class one day when a stranger walked in. The Asian girl immediately caught my eye because she looked like a dancer: reed-thin, not-tall, pixie-like, but, long legs in proportion, beautiful feet and perfect posture. She ignored me and started warming up and that's when my eyebrows really shot up. Her flexibility was off the charts! She apparently had no back bone, linguine instead of a skeleton, over-splits in all directions! I kept a discrete eye on her through class and it was clear her training had been world-class, even if she wasn't in real "dancing shape". I eventually introduced myself and found out she was from mainland China and had trained in the state system there. I actually got a chance to partner her after a few classes and it was like driving a Mercedes! Perfect power under perfect control! Now, I've written about the Soviet System before: the state supported schools audition thousands of kids every year, take a handful and train them intensively. They weed out the ones who can't keep up and eventually graduate a few gems each year. And, it was impressive to meet one of the products of the Chinese Soviet System in person. So, for me, getting the chance to get a glimpse into that training regime was the best part of Mao's Last Dancer this weekend. I forgot how hard old-school ballet teachers can be! 'You students will dance well or die trying!' seems to be their motto. Insults, put-downs and negative reinforcement are their stock in trade! Someone else will always take your place was the unspoken message. Extreme stretching and strengthening, running and jumping are hallmarks of cross-training in the Vaganova system. If I taught ballet as hard as they do in those schools, I think I'd lose every student, save for a handful. In the West, kids have so many other options, you have to work to keep them from dropping out until the discipline of dance becomes intrinsic to their interests. And, at CCDC, we've deliberately created an atmosphere of positive reinforcement and encouragement ! There's more than one way to skin a cat. Or I guess I should say: more than one way to 'teach a pas de chat!' Back to the review: There's some very impressive dancing in the film in spots: double-tours into double-tours, soaring barrel-turns, huge cabriole double, coupe'-jete's into split leaps...no body doubles that I could tell. No cutaways, stand-ins or filming from far away. The film resonated with the dancers credo, "I just wanna dance! Why is that so hard to understand?" And, because it was based on Li Cunxin's real life, it was even more compelling. But, some things just didn't ring true: dancers DON'T wish each other "good luck!" because of ballet superstition, the costuming was less than world-class (no bodice paneling, just decorated leotards for tutu tops!) and the choreography was NOT the traditional classics! But, I really liked the fact that real dancers from the Australian Ballet and Sydney Dance Theater were cast in the corps and leading acting roles. It's not a perfect movie, by any means! (Sorry, Souper Grrl!o) I still like Turning Pointe better! But, here's a sign of a good-enough film: I may now have to actually read the book!

10.05.2010: Postcards From Da Edge

Recent updates from CCDC alumni majoring in burning candles from both ends at Party Hearty You:
"...Hey! It's (GitCherFaShawn). College has been going really well thus far, and I just wanted to share information about Dance Gala with you guys. First off, I'm in one of the pieces. Secondly, my fellow CCDC alumni (Odette) is in the same piece. It's going to be great, I promise. I'd love it if anyone could attend the performances, but I know that everyone's schedules are rather busy around this time of the year with rehearsals and whatnot, so I understand if you can't make it. Anyway, I'm including a page that has the performance dates and times for this year's Dance Gala! Here!

(P.S. If anyone I know from good old Ballet 5/6 is able to come over for a performance, I totally have a futon available if needed.)..."

...and here's another from my Nice Niece:
"...I went to the first football game of the season against _____. It was fun, but one was enough. I’ve never been a very big football fan, which is frowned upon here since football is so big!

I didn’t get into any undergrad dance pieces. Part of it was scheduling conflicts, but this is probably a good thing because (my old injury is acting up): ( We just switched teachers again for the next five weeks. Now I have ______ for ballet. Her classes are a lot better than ________’s, but they’re still very basic. This week she hasn’t given very many individual corrections; she’s just been going over placement and basic technique. At least she sticks to classical ballet and her corrections make sense. It makes me miss my challenging Missy and Emery classes!

The people in my dance classes are fun. We all get along really well. I also have some cool people that live on my floor that I hang out with. It seems like there’s always something happening on campus, so boredom is not a problem. I joined dance marathon-a student organization to raise money for kids with cancer. After we raise so much money there's a 24-hour dance marathon with the kids and their families. I also got a job at the __________ as a waitress/server. I work mostly on the weekends and it’s just a bunch of older alumni at the club. There’s plenty to keep me busy.

Everything sounds like it’s going good at CCDC. I’m glad to hear that ______ and ______ are doing better. They’ve both had really long recoveries and I know it was killing them. It sounds like people are getting casted in really good parts for Nutcracker. I can’t wait to come back and watch it! I miss you all so much, tell everyone hi for me!..."

10.04.2010: More Me-Dee-Ah!

A friend and I were discussing dance movies after she read my last posting. But, I figure she still had to figure out a way to convince her significant other to see Mao's Last Dancer, but, that she was also intrigued by what she'd heard about Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan. I sighed and agreed, but, also said big budget ballet movies are often a "double-edged sword" for real dancers. First, we like the publicity and the fact that the art-form we dedicate our lives to is finally getting its share of time in the national spotlight. But, we can often cringe as an actor tries to portray a dancer convincingly. (Julia Stiles, I'm talking about you!o) Neve Campbell did relatively well in Attenborough's The Company because she had trained seriously in ballet when she was younger. Apparently, Natalie Portman is supposed to have done the same thing, but, pre-release publicity stills are raising big red flags all over the blogosphere. You can't just "fake" ballet muscles. The musculature of the legs becomes sleek and refined through daily repitition over years of training. Proper upper body placement and presentation isn't something that can be just added on by a coach or choreographer. (That's a sure way to spot a winner---or a loser!---on DWT***, btw. Watch the shoulders and the line and under-line of the arms.) Of course, it's problematic casting a dancer as an actor as well. There's a lot of technique involved that frees up natural dramatic expression. I remember once when a company I was in was hired en masse to serve as extras in a well-known television show. The plot was a private investigator was hired to serve as bodyguard for a ballerina. (Big hint right there!o) The actress they brought in had apparently told them she'd "trained as a dancer when younger". But, there was a scene we were all stretching on stage. The actress was watching as our dancers started putting their legs on the barre to stretch. The actress watched for a bit and then tried to mimic our professionals. She hooked her leg over the barre and started pretending to stretch. But, we all had to stifle our laughter. First, she may have been flexible for someone off the street, but, she was doing well just to get her leg up on the barre. And, her leg was all parallel and her foot was badly sickled to hook onto the barre! Any dancer watching and most of the general public would automatically know this was no real dancer pretending to be a principal with an international ballet company. So, we coached her to turn-out and to quit sickling, but, I think that scene ended up on the cutting room floor anyway. Good thing because there would've been no "suspension of disbelief". So, I always say, support those dance movies, but, REALLY support those dance movies that put real dancers in the lead roles of dancers! Is that such a hard concept? Mao's Last Dancer is just such a movie. Amanda Schull and I trained in the same studio back in Hawai'i and she went on to SFB. And the dancer that portrays Li Cunxin in the movie actually went to the same ballet school in China that produced the former Houston Ballet principal. And, keep your fingers crossed for Black Swan!

10.04.2010: Can U Say 'Free'?

I describe this as a "priceless opportunity"...
FREE Films continue through the fall at the Art Center

Full Frame Documentary Film Festival Returns

Capital City, IA (October 2010) — The Art Center is pleased to announce the return of the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival on Friday, October 15, at 6:30 pm and Saturday, October 16, at 11 am and 2 pm. Both programs are FREE and will be held in Levitt Auditorium. (The October 16 program is not a repeat of the October 15 films.)

The Full Frame Documentary Film Festival supports the documentary form and community by showcasing the contemporary work of established and emerging filmmakers, and by preserving film heritage through archival efforts and continued exhibition of classic documentaries. The Festival is held in Durham, North Carolina each spring over a four-day period, screening approximately 100 films annually. The Festival Board of Directors includes Martin Scorsese, Ken Burns, D.A. Pennebaker, Chris Hegedus, Sheila Nevins and Sam Pollard among other notable film and arts figures. The Festival receives over 1,000 submissions to its NEW DOCS: Films in Competition category each year, 65 of which are then selected for exhibition and awards eligibility. Guests of the Art Center festival will see selections from Full Frame’s award-winning films.

The Art Center’s program is as follows:
(Please note: All films were selected with an adult audience in mind.)

Friday, October 15, 6:30 pm

The Poot 2009, Elham Asadi, director, Iran, 42 minutes

The Poot serves as a beautifully crafted tribute to the ancient Iranian tradition of carpet weaving, documenting the detail and precision that go into each hand-loomed creation. No part of the process is overlooked: plants are ground into a range of colorful dyes, sheep are sheared and their wool spun into yarn, which is then plunged into enormous dye baths, plans for the next intricate pattern are diligently designed, rhythmic weaving turns string into mat, and a beautiful artifact takes shape before our eyes. In this pure visual treat, stunning cinematography and an ambient soundscape come together to celebrate handmade work in an age of mass-production.

The Poodle Trainer 2009, Vance Malone, director, USA, 7 minutes

Irina Markova cannot imagine any life other than training poodles, large and small, under the circus big top. In her passionate devotion to these fluffy cream and caramel colored dogs, we see the dedication of an artist and the symbiosis between trainer and performer. Beautiful cinematography and a wistful score complete this brief portrait of a woman and the glittery fulfillment of her dreams.

The Invention of Dr. Nakamatsu 2009, Kaspar Astrup Schröder, director, Denmark, 57 minutes

Yoshiro Nakamatsu, Japanese inventor extraordinaire, is almost 80, but he plans to live until he is 144. In his native country, he is an offbeat cultural phenomenon, complete with his own fan club. He holds 3,357 patents (compare that to Thomas Edison’s 1,093!), and was instrumental in the development of the floppy disc. He trusts his sense of smell to identify a good camera, and his best ideas come to him underwater, so he spends lots of time at the bottom of the pool. He realizes his ways are unconventional, but he is keenly committed to maintaining his image as a dignified inventor and shrewd businessman, custom suits included. Filmmaker Kaspar Astrup Schröder interweaves Nakamatsu's often revealing, and rarely modest, reflections on his own inventive genius with entertaining, occasionally hilarious examples of his unlikely inventions and antics. The result is a fun-loving exploration of the human capacity for creativity and invention.

Saturday, October 16, 11 am

Seltzer Works 2010, Jessica Edwards, director, USA, 7 minutes

This captivating short documentary plunges us into the fading world of the seltzer water business. Meet Kenny Gomberg, third-generation owner of the Gomberg Seltzer Works in Brooklyn, the last remaining seltzer maker in the city. Regular consumers of seltzer water are a dying breed, and rare is the sight of the seltzer man delivering the thick glass bottles right to the customer’s doorstep. But the dedicated laborers at Gomberg take great pride in their work and the details involved in creating real seltzer (a far cry from the cheap imitation found in plastic bottles at the grocery store). In a delightful instance of cinematic synesthesia, the filmmaker’s creative visuals and effervescent audio evoke the physical experience of drinking the bubbly water and make you long for a throat-tingling spritz. Caution: Prepare for an overwhelming sense of thirst after watching this one!

Louis Sullivan: The Struggle for American Architecture 2010, Mark Richard Smith, director, USA, 97 minutes

This tribute to architect Louis Sullivan tells a sweeping story with a wealth of visual detail. The rise and fall of Sullivan’s career originates with the 1871 Chicago fire, which made the city a blank slate for ambitious architects. In the late 1800s, Sullivan, who had made his way west after a rigorous École des Beaux-Arts education, created an authentically American architecture at a time when most buildings aspired only to knock off European styles. His commitment to originality led him first to the pinnacle of success with notable early skyscrapers and later to a swift decline due to changing customer tastes and an economic depression. Though his late-career “jewel box” banks were a triumph, Sullivan died penniless. Sullivan’s extraordinary ornamental designs set him apart as an artist. According to Frank Lloyd Wright, who was Sullivan’s chief draftsman for seven years, Sullivan “could draw as beautifully as he could think.”

There will be a Q & A with the filmmaker following the screening.

Saturday, October 16, 2 pm

The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers 2009, Judith Ehrlich, Rick Goldsmith, directors, USA, 94 minutes

A study of paradox and individual politics, The Most Dangerous Man in America tells the fascinating story of Daniel Ellsberg. The former Marine and State Department analyst served as an architect of the Vietnam War while also protesting it—living two lives until he made the fateful and historic decision to release the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times. Fallout from the whistle-blowing riveted the nation, as newspapers faced court orders preventing publication of the documents and Ellsberg was brought to trial on espionage charges. Nominated for an Academy Award, the film revives the tension of the Watergate era and examines a man and a country at a crossroads.

10.01.2010: Siimply Iimpressive!

This was tweeted to me recently. I think someone's got a dance-crush! Heck! I KNOW I've got one! Watch it yourself! Those endless turns that stop on balance! That extension! THAT'S what I've been talking about in class, Rocky!

09.30.2010: MustCDance Media

"Better than Turning Point! Better than Center Stage! Best! Dance! Movie! EVER!"...that's the rave review from a CCDC student after watching Mao's Last Dancer this weekend. "The acting! The dancing! The plot! It was all...just perfect!" We'd been thinking about making time in our busy schedules to catch the flick, but, we figured the theater would be packed with budding ballerinas and their families the first weekend of the film's run. But, Mmmadd Skyllz says there were only two other couples in the theater on Saturday night. That brings up another fear, lack of turn-out to support ballet-based movies (And, "lack of turn-out" is something we always guard against in ballet!o) So, if you want to see more dance films in the future, be sure to watch Mao's Last Dancer soon! And, you might bring a friend and even consider seeing it more than once!...The other big dance event in media is the return of DWT***! The first few weeks will be seperating the chaff from the wheat. I have to agree with most of the judge's scores for my first impressions: In the "Anointed" category, we find the NBA Star, The Pop Singer, The Disney Star and The Dirty Dancer! In the "Soon2BDisappointed" category: The Comedienne, The Male Singer, The Hoff, The Brady Mom and The Sitch. (And, The Baywatch Star was the first to dance his last dance last week.) The NFL QB and The Hills Star are intriguing enough to stick around for awhile. But, The Politician's Daughter is a "sow's ear". (As I write this, I haven't watched this week's elimination.) Nobody's popped off the screen yet. No Brooke, Kristi or Nicole this year to threaten to lead wire2wire...And, two other Showtime offerings that put a strain on my "support dance movies" credo. B-Girl is being panned by my local dance expert. (Legacy of SYTYCD has a few lines and some screen time in this movie) And, Love 'n' Dancing is an attempt to tap into the national interest in ballroom dancing. Stars Tom Molloy and Amy Smart. She's still got attractive star presence, you might remember her from Felicity, but, he needs to calm down that hair! If you're looking for better ballroom movies, I suggest renting the original Japanese version of Shall We Dance? And, of course, Strictly Ballroom.

09.29.2010: College Dance Guide

You can dance your way to "a sheepskin"! This handy guide might be useful...
The College Guide is the essential resource for dancers, teachers and parents. Whether you're looking to major in dance, minor in dance or get your MFA, the College Guide provides in-depth coverage, advice and information on finding your perfect college or university program.

Choreograph your future. Featuring:

  • State-by-state guide to 600+ dance programs
  • Insider info on applying, financial aid and how to ace your audition
  • Practical tips from students on how to best prepare yourself before you go
...Here's that link!

09.28.2010: She Lives!

Ms Blase' writes from her new digs
"...I just wanted to say "Hello" from ________! I miss you and all of the dancers at CCDC. I did find a studio down here, but it's actually more similar to the studio I came from in ______. The style is Cecchitti (flexed foot in frappes), and the studio doesn't really focus on ballet. The class I'm taking is their Ballet IV, but I can definitely tell that they focus on competition dances over ballet, especially since there's only one ballet class a week for the dancers, and it's only an hour long. The teacher actually complimented me on my technique the first night I tried the class. I tried looking for other studios that may be a bit more focused on ballet, but many of them around me seem to have the same focus on competition. I do like the class and the teacher, even though I have to think about my placement and try to correct myself a bit more. I am thankful for everything I learned at CCDC!

I hope that all is well for you and the dancers at CCDC.

Please tell Catherine and Sarah to let me know if they're going to be in the _______ area. I would love to see them perform! I will watch the website for news as well.

Ms Blase'..."

09.27.2010: Twites of Intewest

Backlog of Tweet catalogue for your Monday:
  1. A well-known dancer/singer/reality show judge is jumping feet-first into the dance competition genre! Check it out at PaulaAbdul.Com.
  2. The producers of Billy Elliott, the musical are looking for more boys---and girls!---Check it out here.
  3. Chance to win the book and signed poster of Mao's Last Dancer from Dance Magazine
  4. Enhance your chance for dance jobs, besides getting in a company, from Dance Mag
  5. Haven't really gotten into this, but, you might wanna check out Dance 212
  6. A new tactic at pushing tickets for ballet from the Wall Street Journal
  7. Dance pix to fire your imagination from DanceMedia.Com
  8. Early photos not too promising for a certain DWT*** contestant courtesy of the Des Moines Register
  9. "There's an app for that!"...including ballet according to Appolicious.Com
  10. Webvid from the latest tour by San Francisco Ballet
  11. Hoped to see someone familiar in this webvid from the SFB Summer Session
  12. Turns out there's a plethora of webvid from and about my favorite ballet company, SFB
  13. First. Ballet. Class. Ever. blogged by an adult newbie at Dave Tries Ballet
  14. Wanna compete? There's a new dance competition announced from the Boston International Ballet Competition
  15. Heading to college for dance? Spend some money, maybe, on this offer from Dance Magazine
  16. Okay, this was watchable from Dance212
  17. Speaking of ballet, ballet dancers speak! As written about by the New York Times
  18. How to get newbies to enjoy watching dance from the Ballet4Men Blog
  19. And, what can a late starter do in ballet? Turns out to be quite a bit according to the aforementioned Ballet4Men Blog
  20. Robotic Odette/Odile? ...so reports the Toronto Sun
  21. Tips to start the fall semester off on the right pied from MyBodyMyIMage
  22. Those legs! That back! Those FEET! Check it out at DanceMedia.Com

09.24.2010: You Say Boo-RAY...

If you read Katya W00tang'z answers to questions about her first year as a professional dancer in an earlier post, you learned that she was being teased about her pronunciation of Bourre':
...Oddest would have to be how I pronounce bourres vs how the company members do. They pronounce it boar-ray and we say burr-ray. I am constantly made fun of for this...
...Well, I wanted to make sure that we were using the correct pronunciation here at CCDC, so I checked in the "ballet bible", the Gail Grant Dictionary of Ballet Terms. (Every dancer should have a copy. I've found several in the dance section of the local used book store.) And, it turns out, we're correct . This is how the dictionary explains the pronunciation:
Bourre'-(boo-RAY)
...So, it's not "BORE-ray"! And, while I was at it, I double-checked a mispronunciation I heard at another studio a few years ago:
Chainne'-(sheh-NAY)
...So, it's NOT "SHOW-nay". (I say "Nay! Neigh to Show Nay!") But, here's a mispronunciation I've perpetuated myself. I was teaching gargouillade to advanced dancers the other night. I was mispronouncing it "GUH-rah-GLEE-ole". THAT'S wrong! It's...
Gargouillade (gar-goo-YAD)
...I understand there are regionalisms and accents, but, check with Gail Grant or a native French speaker for definitions or pronunciations if there's ever a question. (Doesn't always work. Native speaker had hard time explaining or defining faille' to me. We finally settled on "to give way", which is close to the Grant definition.) And, here's another Americanism that most ballet instructors know is wrong, but, perpetuate anyway: passe' is a verb not a noun. It means to "to pass through" as in passe' through coupe' or passe' through retirre'. Just remember passe' is NOT a pose', NOT a picture. The correct term for what many American dancers refer to as passe' is retirre', (pose with toe to the knee). And, here's another term that was defined for me incorrectly: brise' does NOT mean "braided", even if that's what the legs do in the move. If you look it up, turns out to mean "broken". So, learn the proper definition, not what you think or hope it means. But, more importantly, do the move correctly and we can quibble about how to pronounce it later. (Advanced dancers prepare for gargouillade vole'! Look it up!o)

09.23.2010: Modern Dance Performance

Dancers should support dancers:
Hurley & Dancers will perform this Saturday, Sept. 25 at 1:30, 2:30, 3:30 and 4:30 p.m. at 2AU Gallery, 200 5th Street (5th and Maple) as part of ArtStop.

Artistic Director Kathleen Hurley has choreographed a solo entitled Recuerdos to the music of Francisco Tarrega with poetry by Mary Oliver.

The five-minute solo will be performed by Lisa Lewis (1:30 p.m.), Brigham Hoegh (2:30 p.m.), Kathleen Hurley (3:30 p.m.) and Lindsay Schwab (4:30 p.m.).

Audience members will enjoy artwork by gallery owner Ann Au as well as guest artist Judith Whipple’s “Birds” and more.

Make a day of art and hop on a shuttle to visit a multitude of other visual and performing arts events in ArtStop venues across the city.

For more information, click here.

No admission charge.

09.23.2010: Performance Tip

Support local live theater:
StageWest tells the story of the two founders of Alcoholics Anonymous - Bill W. and Dr. Bob. Sept. 17-19 and 22-26 at the Civic Center's Stoner Theatre.

THE STORY: In 1929, famous New York stockbroker Bill Wilson crashes with the stock market and becomes a hopeless drunk. Dr. Bob Smith, a surgeon from Ohio, has also been an alcoholic for thirty years, often going into the operating room with a hangover. Through an astonishing series of events, Bill W. and Dr. Bob meet and form a relationship, each helping to keep the other sober. This is the amazing and often humorous story of the two men who pioneered Alcoholics Anonymous, as well as the story of their wives, who founded Al Anon.
PERFORMANCES: Sept. 22-25 at 7:30 PM. Sept. 26 at 3:00 PM. Talk back discussions after the Friday and Sunday performances.
LOCATION: Civic Center's Stoner Theatre
TICKETS: $22/Wed/Thur. $25/Fri/Sat/Sun. Available in person at the Civic Center. Half-price tickets are available the day of the show for Wed. and Sun. performances — subject to availability — in person at the Civic Center Ticket Office.


Tallgrass Theatre Presents Three Changes by Nicky Silver Directed by Maranda Turner

The surprise arrival of a long-lost relative threatens to disrupt the seemingly happy life of the couple at the center of this dark comedy. As the play builds to its climax, the characters become locked in a battle that will cost one of them their life.

Cast:
Laurel: Karen Schaeffer
Nate: Gabe Thompson
Hal: Josh Visnapuu
Steffi: Corissa Thompson
Gordon: Paul Valleau

Performances:
7:30 p.m.
Fridays and Saturdays
October 1–16

Location:
Rex Mathes Auditorium
1401 Vine Street

Sign-language interpretation for October 16 performance available upon request at info@tallgrasstheatre.org. Tickets are $12, and may be purchased at the door or here.

09.22.2010: Newz From 'Da Nort'

FINALLY tracked down the questionnaire allegedly sent a few weeks ago from CCDC's latest professional dancer. Katya W00tang provides us with a glimpse inside her ballet company:
  1. What's your dance and rehearsal schedule like? How big are the studios?

    We have company class every Monday through Friday or Saturday starting at 9:30am -11:00am and then rehearsal until 5pm with an hour break for lunch. Depending on how many pieces you are involved in you may have more breaks during the day. The studios at the Depot are quite different, one is a small studio that has mainly been used for either learning or reviewing and the other studio is quite large, easily comparable to our studio at home. The studio at the Grant Exchange building is beautiful with huge windows on both side and high ceilings. It is a gorgeous location, I love taking class there.

  2. How many other dancers in your company? How many men? Women? Where are the other dancers from?

    There are 13 of us total. 5 men, 6 women, and 2 apprentices. The other dancers are from all over the country and even internationally. We range from Georgia to Iowa to Indiana to Argentina. It is a really good variety.

  3. What are the company classes like? Any noticeable differences in ballet style? How are the rehearsals run? Do you have a pianist? Live music?

    Company class is relatively basic, with a few difficult combinations sprinkled in. They are still challenging but just enough to get you on your leg, warmed up, and placed, but not exhausted before a full day of rehearsal. There really aren't many differences that I have found in ballet styles which made the transition much easier for me. Rehearsals are run for an hour and much similarly to the way they are at CCDC, a professional yet fun environment. We all work very well together both in and outside the studios. We have had a pianist for class a few times but mainly we use cds with pitch control. Just like at home!

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

    We have a performance at the Board of Trade Building in the middle of September, Sleeping Beauty in October with a weekend of touring in Wisconsin, Nutcracker in December, and then Robert Gardner's world premiere of A Midsummer Night's Dream in March.

  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?

    Hardest adjustment for me was the corrections given in class. They are very similar to those given in class at CCDC but since it is a company class they are not as personal and are given much less frequently which I miss terribly. On the other hand, we wear pointe shoes in center for all classes and I thought that would be difficult for me to adjust to but it is much easier than I expected and my feet are still holding up!! (knock on wood !!)

  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 feel very well prepared for the professional world. Not just in my technique but also in etiquette in the studio during class and rehearsals as well. I wish I had worked on my extension more because it is a very big thing here but I am working on it daily. It is one of the things I hope to improve this season. Right now I am setting weekly goals and have some long term ones in mind as well so I am going to strive to reach those as to continually improve as a dancer this year.

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

    I love living by myself!! Being independent was definitely something I was needing but I would be lying if I said I didn't call my parents daily asking things like "whites go in cold water right mom?" "my rent is due on the first right dad?" The only near-disaster I have had thus far is I learned a valuable lesson to thaw your chicken before putting it on the george foreman grill. Very Important!!

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

    This city is beautiful! My apartment faces the lake which I must say I definitely take that view for granted. There is so much to do here too! I do have a car, but once the snow falls I will be car-pooling and taking the bus system. I really don't want to fight the ice and snow on these hills.

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

    I miss privates with Missy and Sunday classes with Emery. Both I feel are things that soothe the soul. I would kill for those right now. Can you say homesick? :)

  10. What's the oddest thing that's happened so far inside or outside the studio? The funniest?

    Oddest would have to be how I pronounce bourres vs how the company members do. They pronounce it boar-ray and we say burr-ray. I am constantly made fun of for this. Also, shout out to Hanna Shiplett, one of the company members calls me Cathy, though I do not find it funny.

  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?

    My biggest advice is to listen, always always keep your ears open. We all have hard days and days where we feel like giving up or letting our frustrations get the best of us, but keep listening to your teachers. They DO know what they are talking about and they are right.

    Something I wish I had known as a student was to believe in myself as much as my teachers and parents did. The confidence they had in my abilities was far more than I ever did. Once I finally came to the realization that my dreams could be realized, things started happening in the studio for me. That is far more important that any trick or amount of pirouettes. Trust your teachers and parents, in all aspects!!

    ...and...

  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 Duluth?

    Maybe? All I know is my roommate told me that if I don't learn to love the Vikings I have to move out so...sure? Go Vikings?

09.22.2010: Cyber-Ballet Class

Hmmm...knew this was coming at some pointe.
Master Class with Rex Harrington

On Saturday September 25, 2010 from 2 pm to 3:30 pm EST all of Canada is invited to take ballet class with professional ballet dancers taught by The National Ballet of Canada's former Principal Dancer and current Artist-in-Residence Rex Harrington.

In our studios at the Walter Carsen Centre for The National Ballet of Canada, Mr. Harrington will teach ballet class to registered participants* as well as dancers from The National Ballet. This class will be streamed live on the internet so that ballet students in studios across the country and those in their homes can participate alongside the professionals.

09.22.2010: At Last!

FINALLY coming to the metro! Here's the advisory on the opening soon from The Fleur Cinema:
MAO'S LAST DANCER From Academy Award® nominee Bruce Beresford (DRIVING MISS DAISY, TENDER MERCIES) comes MAO'S LAST DANCER, the inspiring true story of Li Cunxin and his extraordinary journey from a poor upbringing in rural China to international stardom as a world-class ballet dancer. Based on the best selling autobiography, MAO'S LAST DANCER weaves a moving tale about the quest for freedom and the courage it takes to live your own life. The film compellingly captures the struggles, sacrifices and triumphs, as well as the intoxicating effects of first love and celebrity amid the pain of exile.

"Lovely and astounding, Mao's Last Dancer is a modern epic of art and ambition triumphing oppression."- Tom Long, Detroit News

RUN TIME: 2 Hours 7 Minutes
RATED: PG
GENRE: Drama
CAST: Bruce Greenwood, Kyle MacLachlan, Joan Chen, Amanda Schull DIRECTED BY: Bruce Beresford

09.21.2010: Calling All GLEE-ks!

Mmmadd Skyllz was getting all giddy after class the other day because this was coming up tonight...
“GLEE” GOES BRITNEY
TUE SEP 28 at 8/7c

Oops, they did it again on next week’s all new GLEE episode on TUE SEP 28 at 8/7c, when pop-icon Britney Spears and John Stamos guest star. You won’t want to miss the episode everyone is already talking about.



...But, Syk Skyllz says she was going to miss the show because of her commute times! (Apparently, she's also part-Amish and the family doesn't own a DVR and their VCR is broken!---If she starts growing a funny beard, don't tease her because of her Amish-ness!o) So, I reminded her that this is the 21st century and virtually all video is available on demand somewhere. I suggested she check out Fox.Com and Mmmadd suggested Hulu.Com. Do what it takes to support any dance on TV!
And, also got this from Fox TV:
JOIN "SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE'"S CAT DEELEY IN THE STAND UP TO CANCER REALITY TEAM CHALLENGE Join FOX's SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE's Cat Deeley in the Stand Up To Cancer reality team challenge that helps raise funds to fight cancer. Currently SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE is No. 2 and we need your help to raise money for cancer research. Take the challenge and get your name on the leader board by supporting the SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE team.

09.21.2010: $pend $ome, $ave $um

Limited time e-offer from DiscountDance.Com:
"...Hello, Valued Customer

With the new school year upon us, we wanted to offer you an unbeatable deal on our already discounted dancewear!

10% OFF
When you spend $50 or more!
Use Code: ECBB-V2WD-6XG7
During checkout.
(Offer ends September 30th, 2010)..."

09.20.2010: Audition Action

Hey! All you dancers at Party Hearty You who are looking for more modern performance opportunities:
Poetic Rebound Performance Company, Iowa City's very own professional modern dance company, will be holding its company audition for the 2010-2011 season on Wednesday, October 6th at 6:30 p.m. in room G13 at the Iowa City Senior Center, 28 S. Linn downtown. The audition is open to the public and will consist of a modern warm-up followed by several combinations/exercises. Please arrive at least 15 minutes early and remember to bring your calendar (headshot and resume encouraged but not required). To find room G13, enter through the doors on Washington Street and the room is straight ahead.

This season is looking to be our biggest yet with a show at the Sondheim Center in Fairfield in December and new works choreographed by company members Jessi Yokas and Nicole Klein, as well as a new and a restaged work by Artistic Director Nicole Hussain Morford, UI Dance Department alum.

Questions? Contact Nicole at poetic.rebound@gmail.com or 847.638.0226. Please pass this info along or forward this email to anyone who may be interested in this opportunity.

Poetic Rebound Performance Company is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization placing emphasis on community outreach and artistic collaboration. The company's opening season was in 2007 and since the group has performed across the state and Midwest, bringing its unique breed of modern dance to communities small and large. As a non-profit organization, the company relies on public funding and private donors in order to continue to bring high-quality arts programming to our communities. Please send your tax-deductible donation to:

Poetic Rebound Performance Company
308 E. Burlington St. Suite 143
Iowa City, IA 52240

09.17.2010: Nutcracker 3D

Coming soon to a theater near you! This November. Check out this trailer for Nutcracker, the movie, in 3D! Looks like it's not a ballet, though...

09.17.2010: Mo' College of Dance-Related Knowledge

(Courtesy Newswise) — Personal listening devices like iPods have become increasingly popular among young — and not-so-young — people in recent years. But music played through headphones too loud or too long might pose a significant risk to hearing, according to a 24-year study of adolescent girls.

The stud, involved 8,710 girls of lower socioeconomic status, whose average age was about 16. Their hearing was tested when they entered a residential facility in the U.S Northeast.

“I had the rare opportunity, as an audiologist, to see how this population changed over the years,” said Abbey Berg, Ph.D. In this period, high-frequency hearing loss — a common casualty of excessive noise exposure — nearly doubled, from 10.1 percent in 1985 to 19.2 percent, she found.

Between 2001, when testers first asked about it, and 2008, personal music player use rose fourfold, from 18.3 percent to 76.4 percent. High-frequency hearing loss increased from 12.4 percent to 19.2 percent during these years, while the proportion of girls reporting tinnitus —ringing, buzzing or hissing in the ears — nearly tripled, from 4.6 percent to 12.5 percent.

Overall, girls using the devices were 80 percent more likely to have impaired hearing than those who did not; of the teens reporting tinnitus, all but one (99.7 percent) were users.

Berg said her findings suggest the need for more effective educational efforts to reduce unsafe listening behavior, particularly among disadvantaged youth. “You have to target them at a much younger age, when they are liable be more receptive,” she said.


(Courtesy Newswise) — What’s inside a child’s lunchbox may not only hold secrets to better physical health but can help a child mentally prepare for learning.

“Parents can make the school day easier for their children by providing nutritious and yummy breakfasts, lunches, and snacks that promote optimal learning,” said Karin Richards. “Everyone is in a rush in the morning, but it only takes a few minutes on Sunday to plan healthy meals to fuel your child’s week.”

Richards suggests the following tips when planning breakfast, lunch, and snacks for a student:

  • Incorporate at least three types of foods into each meal, making sure to include some type of protein and carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates, like whole wheat bagels and pasta or honey wheat pretzels, will give your child energy while the protein will satisfy the appetite for a longer period of time.
  • Have the child shop with the parent to choose one fruit or vegetable each week. Encourage them to try new and interesting fruits and vegetables like kiwi, papaya, and edamame.
  • Be bold. Remember, breakfast doesn’t have to be what’s considered “typical.” Thin crust pizza, peanut butter and jelly on whole wheat, a grilled chicken sandwich, or last night’s leftovers can be nutritious, delicious and fun breaks from the norm!
  • Most meals may very well be “grab and go,” so plan accordingly. Prepare homemade pancakes on Sunday evening and freeze for quick access later in the week.
  • Watch portion size. Three to four ounces of meat is plenty and is about the size of your palm. Adjust for your child’s age and activity level.
  • Be a little sneaky. Add more veggies to everyday favorites. Try zucchini bread, healthy low-fat dips with veggies or adding shredded carrots into tomato sauce and soups.
  • Try low-fat or skim milk and bottled water for beverages. If juice is a necessity, choose 100 percent juice or make your own “child’s cocktail” – half water, half juice.
  • It is all about balance. Everything in moderation is key.

Examples of Healthy Breakfasts

  • Egg whites on whole-grain wrap with chopped tomatoes and low-fat or skim milk
  • Kashi® cereal with sliced strawberries and low-fat or skim milk
  • Slice of thin crust pizza, banana, and low-fat or skim milk
  • Smoothie made with bananas, strawberries, and low-fat yogurt with a small whole wheat bagel
  • Low-fat yogurt topped with a few pieces Cracklin Oat Bran® cereal topping and blueberries, low-fat or skim milk

Examples of Healthy Lunches

  • Turkey on whole wheat bagel thin, topped with romaine lettuce, tomato, red onion, and mustard
  • Hummus with chopped red peppers, carrot and celery sticks
  • Tuna fish made with tuna in water, low-fat mayo, and celery in a whole grain pita with romaine lettuce
  • Low-fat roast beef with low-fat cheese and mustard on honey-whole wheat English muffin
  • Peanut butter crackers, a peach, and baby carrots with low-fat Ranch dressing
  • Limit beverages to bottled water and low-fat or skim milk (or low-fat chocolate milk)

Examples of Healthy Snacks

  • Baked chips
  • Snack-sized sugar free applesauce
  • Homemade trail mix - control the portions and add dried pineapple and raspberries
  • Oranges and apples
  • Graham crackers
  • Honey wheat pretzel sticks

Richards also suggests using tools such as the customized nutritional guide available here, which will help parents determine the proper intake amount based upon a child’s age, gender, and activity level.


(Courtesy Newswise) — While the start of college is a positive, momentous event for many young people, it also can be an episode that pushes some into a dangerous battle with eating disorders, says Professor Mary Boggiano, Ph.D., who fought her own battle against bulimia as a college student.

Stress can trigger an eating disorder, and for the college student who is away from home for the first time, the stress of moving into a totally different environment and meeting new people can make them more susceptible to developing an eating disorder, says Boggiano. Even new positive events are processed by the brain as stressful, she says.

“A lot of students have heard about the ‘freshman 15,’” says Boggiano. “To keep from gaining weight, some students engage in risky behaviors such as excessive dieting or purging food. In many cases, people learn about the risky behaviors from others students in their dorm or over the Internet, so that obsession about weight can become infectious.”

Boggiano says the common signs of an eating disorder include:

  • A preoccupation with calculating calories, fat grams and carbohydrate grams
  • A need to weigh oneself more than once a day
  • Allowing the numbers on the scale to determine mood
  • Exercising, skipping meals or purging after overeating
  • Exercising to burn calories rather than for health or for fun
  • An inability to stop eating once eating begins
  • Eating in secret
  • Feeling guilty, ashamed or disgusted after overeating
  • Basing self-worth on looks or weight
  • Worrying continuously about weight and body shape
  • Abusing diet pills or laxatives

Eating disorders can lead to long-term health problems, and even death.

For any young people who suspect they might be developing an eating disorder, Boggiano encourages them to seek help through a pastor or family doctor or through programs like Overeaters Anonymous.

“Whatever you do, don’t try to take care of it by yourself,” says Boggiano. “It will only get worse.” Boggiano, who studies the psychobiology of eating disorders and obesity, knows this from personal experience as a young adult. “My problems with bulimia nervosa actually began during my senior year in high school,” she says. “I was a top student, salutatorian of my class. But, I became obsessed with my weight and the shape of my body. I started starving myself, but this led to binge eating and eventually vomiting after the binges, several times a day, and eventually I began abusing laxatives. When I started college, the disorder got worse.”

The two most common forms of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, when a person stops eating or eats very little to control their weight, and bulimia nervosa, when a person vomits or uses laxatives to get rid of the food they have eaten to prevent weight gain. Both types of eating disorders can eventually lead to serious health problems and even death.

Another form of eating disorder, binge eating disorders (or BED), is when an individual eats unusually large amounts of food, uncontrollably, in a short period of time until they are uncomfortable but do not purge or compensate afterward.

“This often leads to weight gain, which is upsetting to them,” says Boggiano, “yet to overcome the distress, they turn to food. It’s a vicious cycle.” She is currently exploring brain markers of stress-induced binge-eating and the chemistry behind the action of high-fat and sugar foods to trigger relapses back to binge eating and obesity.


(Courtesy Newswise) — Popular energy drinks promise better athletic performance and weight loss, but do the claims hold up? Not always, say researchers.

“Energy drinks typically feature caffeine and a combination of other ingredients, including taurine, sucrose, guarana, ginseng, niacin, pyridoxine and cyanocobalamin,” says Professor Stephanie Ballard.

“Most of the performance-enhancing effects of energy drinks can be linked to their caffeine content,” she says. “Caffeine has been consistently been observed to enhance aerobic performance, although its effects on anaerobic performance may vary.”

“There is conflicting evidence of the impact of energy drinks on weight loss,” Ballard adds, “although some data suggest that combining energy drink use with exercise may enhance body fat reduction. Increases in burning calories and losing weight are likely subject to diminishing returns as users become habituated to caffeine.“

Don’t forget these drinks are often loaded with sugar, she adds. “Despite their use for weight loss, energy drinks may be contributing to the obesity epidemic alongside less caffeinated, sugary drinks like soda.”

Red Bull-swilling athletes should be aware of the caffeine limitations of sports governing bodies, as well as the risks to their health.

“Although caffeine was removed from the World Anti-Doping Agency’s prohibited list in 2004, it is still followed under the 2009 Monitoring Program to identify patterns of misuse,” says Ballard. “For the National Collegiate Athletic Association, athletes are considered to be doping if urinary caffeine is greater than 15 µg/mL, which is about the same as drinking eight cups of coffee, each containing 100 mg of caffeine.”

As with any active substance, energy drink ingredients may cause adverse effects, particularly with high episodic consumption, warns Ballard. And these drinks, which are classified as dietary supplements, are in a regulatory gray area, allowing them to sidestep the caffeine limitations assigned to foods and soft drinks.

“The FDA limits caffeine in soft drinks to 71 mg/12 fluid oz,” says Ballard. “But energy drinks can contain as much as 505 mg of caffeine in a single container – the equivalent of drinking 14 cans of Coca-Cola. Caffeine has been reported to cause insomnia, nervousness, arrhythmias, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, pregnancy and childbirth complication, gastrointestinal upset and death.”


09.16.2010: Kamin's Coming

I tweeted recently:
"..."You must combine the sense and sensibilities of a musician, sculptor, painter, photographer, filmmaker and chef to enhance your dance!"..."
...and, if I had more than 140 characters, I would've added "architect" to the lexicon as well. Now, here's your chance to get a free insight into the field:
"...The Art Center is pleased to present a lecture by Blair Kamin, architecture critic, Chicago Tribune, on Sunday, October 3 at 3 pm in the Art Center’s Levitt Auditorium. Reservations for this FREE lecture are required and are now available.

Based on his book, Terror and Wonder: Architecture in a Tumultuous Age, the Chicago Tribune’s Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic will survey the period bracketed by the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and this year’s opening of the world’s tallest building in Dubai. As the book reveals, the era was a “Dickensian construction zone,” marked by extreme oscillation between urban disaster and artistic triumph, repressive security measures and teeming public spaces, frugal energy-saving architecture and giddy design excess. Assessing everything from head-turning buildings by Frank Gehry to such ordinary structures as a McDonald’s, Kamin distinguishes the masterpieces from the mediocrities, in the process demonstrating the continued relevance of Frank Lloyd Wright’s sage remark: “There can be no separation between our architecture and our culture. Nor any separation of either from our happiness.” In addition to receiving the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 1999 for a series of articles on Chicago’s greatest public space, its lakefront, Kamin is the recipient of over 30 awards. Among his honors are the George Polk Award for Criticism (1996), the American Institute of Architects’ Institute Honor for Collaborative Achievement (1999), and the AIA’s Presidential Citation (2004), conferred in appreciation of Kamin’s “rhapsodies and scoldings” that brought architecture to the attention of Chicago’s public..."

09.16.2010: Dance College Showcase

Considering the college dance route? This sounds like the mountains are coming to Manhattan:
"...Juilliard is hosting a special event for high school dancers on Sunday, October 3. Dancing Through College and Beyond, offers a full day of networking, information and panels, brining together representatives form over 20 college dance departments. Participating schools include The Ailey School/Fordham University, The Boston Conservatory, The Juilliard School, California Institute of the Arts, Marymount Manhattan College and more. Presented by Career Transitions for Dancers, Dancewave, Dance/NYC and Pentacle, this first of its kind symposium offers a one-stop shop to get expert advice on finding the program that's right for you.

Date: Sunday, October 3
Time: Registration starts at 9 am, and sessions run from 10 am to 5 pm
Cost: Free!

To sign up: Pre-registration is required. Click here..."

09.15.2010: To Stretch Or Not To Stretch

Hmm...check out this tip from Harkness Center For Dance Injuries
"...When is the safest time for the dancers to stretch their muscles while meeting the need in dance to be very limber? Muscle tissue, like catsup and gelatin, possesses a material property known as thixotrophy. This means it becomes more pliant as it becomes warmer, so it is important to warm muscles up before activity. We also know that static stretching (held stretches) before exercise can cause muscles to produce up to 30% less force than they did before the static stretch is performed. As such, it is recommended that pre-exercise stretching consist only of gentle cardiovascular activity and dynamic-type stretches. Static stretching should be delayed until after exercise when it can be used effectively as a cool-down strategy to reset the muscle’s resting length. Incorporating dynamic stretches (stretches that actively moves through a position of stretch without a held end point) to the dancer’s warm-up can assist in limbering the body prior to the start of class and aid in enhancing overall flexibility as well as safety. Use the right type of stretching during the appropriate time of activity to improve flexibility and optimize healthy dance performance..."
...I think every body is unique. And, you have to incorporate this information into your training or teaching with a "grain of salt". If you have a tight body, to improve the range of your dancing, I think you should still stretch as much as possible. If you're fairly flexible or if you have trouble with big jumps, you might want to try delaying those "static stretches" until after grand allegro.

09.15.2010: College of Dance Gnaw Ledge

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but, words...can cause long-term psychological damage:
(Courtesy Newswise) — Schoolyard taunts of any type can potentially damage a child’s sense of self-confidence. But a new study suggests that a particular kind of teasing – about weight – can have distinctive and significant effects on how pre-teens perceive their own bodies.

The research, among the first to specifically examine the impact of weight-based criticism on pre-adolescents, also hints that the practice can cause other health and emotional issues for its victims.

“We tend to think of adolescence as the time when kids become sensitive about their body image, but our findings suggest that the seeds of body dissatisfaction are actually being sown much earlier,” said Professor Timothy D. Nelson. “Criticism of weight, in particular, can contribute to issues that go beyond general problems with self-esteem.”

For the study, Nelson and his colleagues surveyed hundreds of public school students whose average age was 10.8 years. They collected participants’ heights and weights and calculated their Body Mass Index, then examined the relationships between weight-related criticism and children’s perceptions of themselves.

Their results showed that overweight pre-teens who endured weight-based criticism tended to judge their bodies more harshly and were less satisfied with their body sizes than students who weren’t teased about their weight.

The effects of weight-based teasing were significant even when researchers removed the effects of students’ BMI from their analysis in an attempt to separate the relative contributions of physical reality and children’s social interactions to their body perceptions, Nelson said.

Because children who develop such negative views of their bodies are at higher risk for internalizing problems, developing irregular eating behaviors and ongoing victimization, researchers said these results should be a signal for more early identification and intervention efforts at schools.

“In a way, weight-related criticism is one of the last socially acceptable forms of criticism,” Nelson said. “There’s often a sense that overweight people ‘deserve’ it, or that if they are continually prodded about their weight, they’ll do something about it.

“In fact, our research suggests that this kind of criticism tends to increase the victim’s body dissatisfaction, which has been shown to be a factor in poorer outcomes with pediatric weight management programs. It becomes something of a vicious cycle.”

The study notes that children’s views of their bodies are a complex interaction between physical reality and socially influenced perceptions. Peer criticism about weight is an important social factor that could affect how pre-adolescents interpret the physical reality of their bodies, Nelson said.

The findings, Nelson said, should be relevant to understanding the consequences of weight-related criticism and considering interventions with preadolescents who are frequent targets of the taunts.

“While weight-related criticism is identifiable, programs targeting it are limited,” he said. “Early identification of children who are targets of frequent and chronic weight-based criticism may also be important in reducing it and its harmful effects.”


Mating dance...
Men, if you want women to notice you, learn to dance. And the secret to capturing a woman's heart is how well you dance.

British psychologists used computer-generated avatars to figure out the exact dance moves a man needs to make to catch a woman's attention. It's the speed of his right knee along with the size and variety of movements of the neck and torso that are key, report LiveScience.com.

To identify the sexiest male dance moves, the researchers used a 12-camera system to film 19 male volunteers, all of whom were between the ages 18 to 35 and none of whom was a professional dancer, as they danced to a German dance track--the type of beat typically heard in clubs. Each man was also equipped with 38 small reflectors, attached all over his body. This allowed the cameras to capture the dance motions in three dimensions.

Next, their dance moves were mapped onto gender-neutral avatars so the 35 women who were recruited to rate the dance moves would not be prejudiced by a man's attractiveness--or lack thereof. The women watched 15-second clips of the avatars and judged each one on a scale of one to seven--from extremely bad to extremely good.

The sexiest dance moves: The men who had a bit of swagger in their step, including larger and more variable movements of the neck and torso were considered attractive by the ladies. In addition, faster bending and twisting movements of the right knee caught women's eyes.

"This is the first study to show objectively what differentiates a good dancer from a bad one. Men all over the world will be interested to know what moves they can throw to attract women," lead study author Nick Neave. "We now know which area of the body females are looking at when they are making a judgment about male dance attractiveness. If a man knows what the key moves are, he can get some training and improve his chances of attracting a female through his dance style."


You can see more info on the same story from the BBC

09.14.2010: She Livez!

Yet another recent CCDC graduate tears herself away from her new jet-set life of non-stop partying to drop us a line! Just got this from Kelzabella:
"...Dear Emery, Missy and CCDC,

I really enjoyed getting your email...I like hearing all the gossip at the studio! It was also good to see you and Missy when (my sister) was getting her FIRST PAIR OF POINTE SHOES!! It was a really special experience getting to share that with my baby sis...made me really miss dance though. I was watching Center Stage (the movie) the other day and that REALLY made me want to dance! Its hard being away from it but I really want to explore what else there is at college. I have looked into getting involved in a lot of volunteering opportunities and student organizations ...unfortunately when beginning my first weeks at school, life has a different plan for me. I found out that the reason I had been feeling so tired and so down was because I have mono. It sucks because I'm not allowed to really do ANYTHING...just go to class, sleep, do homework, and sleep some more...I watch A LOT of movies though...free rentals at the front desk of my residence hall and they have a lot of movies. hahaha

My roomate and I have gotten pretty close during the last few weeks though. I wasn't sure at first because we are very different...she doesn't like trying new things and really likes to fit in with the crowd. Not very me. :) But in terms of living together, I think we are compatible with each other and we've had a lot of good talks and I think we are really here for each other which is really good to have...I miss my CCDC family! I know you guys are always here for me!

I'm really liking college life though...not so much college food, but oh well! I like the freedom and independence that it comes with. I really miss my family, and friends, and everyone at the studio but I think this is a positive experience for all my relationships. I feel like I miss everyone in a healthy way, you know? Not like I can't make it. I love my classes...I'm taking philosophy, rhetoric, spanish, and intro to drama. I'm going to start ballroom later in the semester...so excited for that! And I think I'm also going to take this class that's for one credit hour and you just take a bus to someplace...and hike and camp and enjoy nature which sounds pretty good to me. And I could also meet new people that way!

I'm sorry my letter is so long! hahaha I just miss you all!!! I hope everything is going well at the studio...dance extra hard for me!!

Much love,
Ring Nukelz..."

09.13.2010: Ballet (and Body) By Mr. B

I'm introducing Balanchine concepts to advanced ballet dancers at CCDC: including taking classical ballet to "the extreme", to the neo-classical level. A Balanchine upper body, for example, is more lifted and engaged and that results in higher, more lengthened, more dynamic port de bras. Check it out in this pictorial tribute to the recently retired NYCB Principal Darci Kistler from DanceMedia.Com. Notice the configuration of the hands and the placement of the arms that's a hallmark of Balanchine-style upper-body. That's what I want to see when I teach his style in these neo-classical classes!

09.13.2010: Twites Of Intewest

Latest harvest of sites tweeted to me recently:
  1. Ballet marketing in the internet age on this blog from the Chicago Tribune
  2. The First Lady brings dance to 1400 Pennsylvania Avenue according to the New York Times
  3. Latest newsletter from Pointe Magazine
  4. Dance Webvid from @balletrusse
  5. Latest from ABT from FaceBook
  6. What's in a name? Money apparently for ballet companies as explained by the Houston Chronicle
  7. Capturing the ballet dancer's "beauty within" from Playbill
  8. Latest auditions for dancer jobs from Pointe Magazine

09.10.2010: Time Management

We were talking about arabesque penche's in class the other night. I think I yelled something like, "What time is it, kidz? It's time for 'six o'clock penche's, that's what time it is!" ("6:00 penche's" are the informal term for arabesques with one leg lifted so high they mimic the hands of an old-fashioned analog clock, straight up and straight down at that time.) I told the students about how such high legs were once considered "vulgar" and "ostentatious" in the mid-twentieth century, but, that, nowadays, every student and their sister is doing what only prima ballerinas of the past could accomplish. (Same with dancing en pointe. Only the best in the world could do it in the 18th and 19th centuries. Now, well into the 21st century, pre-teens are going en pointe! That means standards are changing!o) Then, I ran across this picture of @balletrusse. I predict in a few years "six o'clock" penche' en avant will be de rigeur (even if her supporting leg is bent a little under that skirt). So, "What time is it, kidz? It's NOT Floppy time! It's WELL PAST time for "six o'clock' penche'! What are you 'daylight saving' it for?!" First step, get your splits. Second step, get your over-splits! Use some old phone books (Those are big connected consecutive sheets of paper that used to contain phone numb...ask your mother!o) Third step, work your splits against the wall or in a doorway. Fourth step, work your over-splits against the wall. Fifth step, show off your astonishing new-to-you arabesque penche'! Give yourself a year if you don't have step one. Do like the Russians say: if you're not dancing, you should be stretching! 'Nuff of these *6:15* penche's!o)

09.10.2010: Twitez of Intewest

Lucky thirteen for your Friday:
  1. Russian dancers in the OC from the LA Times
  2. Commentary on DanceTV at the Fairfax Blogs
  3. Interview with the driving force behind Black Swan from MTV.Com
  4. And, early review of that movie from Variety
  5. Interesting insights into an influential dancer reviewer from Ballet Magazine
  6. New template for a semi-professional ballet company from Tampa Bay On-Line
  7. Info on the season from the Houston Ballet
  8. And, learn about the background of the dancers of the Houston Ballet
  9. New apprentices and corps members seek to find their place in the pantheon of professional performers...from the New York Times
  10. And, some review of R+J from the New York Times
  11. Backstage at the National Ballet
  12. Now, you know who's ON DWT***, but, you can find who was invited but NOT on the show in this article from AOL/CompuServe
  13. CCDC Ballet VI is getting introduced to the Balanchine style this semester. Learn more about the master choreographer from the Wall Street Journal. And, does this quote sound familiar?
    "...During class, while we were sweating bullets, he would hold his forefinger up in the air, and say with a gleeful little smile, "The body is lazy! That's why I am here!") ..."

09.09.2010: Scratch That Savings Itch!

Who woulda thunk? eScratch cards to qualify for back2school discounts from DiscountDance.Com. Every card a winner! Can't beat that with a dead pointe shoe!

Also got this from Dance Factory Outlet:

Name Brand Styles FOR LESS

Great Deals on Skirts and Wraps!

SPECIAL: Items as low as $1.00

CLICK HERE to view all the styles

...but, caveat emptor! Have never dealt with DFO nor do I know anyone who has. Check it out before you buy. And, I can't help it, but, I always tend to evaluate not just the danceware and styles available (pitifully inadequate for men at all sites btw!), but, whether or not the models are real dancers or not. It's not just the shiny shoe, it's the shape and strength of the foot that's in that shoe. It's not just the leotard, it's the pose+proportions, tone+muscle development of the model or dancer in that clothing. Extra pointes if the website or dance catalogue company hired real dancers or dance students to model their wares!

09.08.2010: Help Wanted!

Just got this in the emailbag! Acquaintance is looking for a few good men...but, aren't we all?
"...I wanted to see if anyone knew of a male dancer that is looking for work. I know of a company that has at least one position open and maybe even two. It is for the remainder of a contract, about 25 weeks left, with health/dental, gym membership, touring and free PT. If you know of someone that is looking for work please contact me and I can put them in touch with each other. Feel free to pass this info on to anyone else as well..."

09.08.2010: Ketchup With Katerina

E-mail marketing from Katya W00tangz new ballet company. This will be her actual "soft" professional debut:
Friday, September 17, 7 p.m.
Saturday, September 18, 7 p.m.
Ballet's Elizabeth Adams Studio
Board of Trade Building

Don't miss your chance to see new and contemporary works by the dancers in an intimate studio setting--the old trading floor of the historic Grain Exchange high atop the landmark Board of Trade Building. Meet our newest company artists and revel in this exciting show in an atmosphere like those of the great European dance salons.

Hear original music by Tori Wright and from the Kansas City Band Flannigan's Right Hook, as well as Ravel, Bach, Stravinsky, Vivaldi and more!

For Tickets and Information

Contact the Minnesota Ballet:
301 West 1st Street Suite 800
Duluth, Mn 55802
218-529-3742
minnesotaballet.org

09.07.2010: She LIVEZ!

In the middle of her hectic new social life and frantic partying, Neat Nazz has not forgotten nor forsaken us! She sends along this note from the institution we lovingly refer to as Party Hearty You:
"...The...audition was a little crazy. Basically everyone in the department was there and it was a four hour audition. A majority of the pieces were modern, but a couple of them were ballet. I wasn't cast in anything for gala, most of the professors casted older students who they already knew. I didn't get cast in anything for the graduate show either, but all of the pieces were modern and there are a lot of really good modern dancers here. I think there's an undergraduate audition coming up for choreography students, so we'll see how that goes.

I'm still in ballet and modern level one. I have _______ for ballet. Level one is basic technique and _____ gives a contemporary ballet class (we do a lot of cartwheels). The main correction that I've gotten here is that I'm too far back on my leg. ______ keeps telling me to keep tension out of my neck and to not focus so high. I can't say that I love his class, but in three weeks I'll have a new teacher. The teachers switch on a five-week rotation. (Nick Nameguy) has ______ for ballet right now and says that his class is pretty good, I'm excited to see what the other ballet teachers are like. I love ____________, he's our modern instructor for this first five weeks. So far the modern has been really similar to Alissa's classes!

My roommate _____ is nice, but because of our opposite schedules we hardly ever see each other. The food in the dining halls is okay, they have really good soup so I've been eating that every day. I love the campus and everyone in the dance department is really friendly, but I miss everyone at CCDC! Tell everyone hi for me.

Da Neat Nazz..."

09.03.2010: Breathing Ballet

Ran into an old acquaintance a few years back. She asked, "Are you still dancing?" I answered "Am I still breathing? The answer is 'yes'!" She didn't understand and said, "No, I asked if you were still *dancing*!" And, I said the answer to those questions are the same, because if I'm still breathing, I'm still dancing. That incident came to mind because of a visit the other day from "the last of the Romanovs". Princess Romanova took ballet at CCDC since we first opened, but, not this year. She dropped by my day job the other day while she was visiting her dad and I asked her why she wasn't dancing anymore. She gave a big dramatic sigh, rolled her eyes and said, "I've been taking ballet since I was three! I think I need a break!" I thought to myself, "What? You're TEN!" But, all I said was I understood and that we missed her and would be there when she decided to dance again. What I didn't say was, "You've been 'breathing' since you were three, are you tired of that too?" What I didn't say was, "The day you stop dancing, is the day you start dying". Too much for a ten-year old, but, any old acquaintance that asks me again if I'm still dancing gets that as an answer from now on: "The day you stop dancing is the day you start dying." And, I'll stop dancing the same day I stop breathing. ...And, maybe, not even then!o)

09.02.2010: Move it! Or Lose it!

Proving we can make-up material for this blog from virtually anywhere, found this quote in some spam:
"Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it." :Plato
...Parents! Please, pay attention to Plato's platitudes! Enroll NOW for that CCDC Adult Ballet, Jazz or Pilates Class! Be a good role model for your little dancer! And, kidz! Drag your parents to Pilates! You KNOW they need the exercise! You can take it together! Family bonding time! (I've seen moms+daughters in that class! Who's going to be the first Dad? Anyone? Anyone? Beuller?)

09.02.2010: Performance Tip

Get out and support local performances!
The Playhouse presents the award-winning musical comedy, The Drowsy Chaperone Friday, Sept. 10-Sunday, Oct. 3. The Drowsy Chaperone is sponsored by Principal Financial Group.

The Playhouse invites you to disappear into the decadent world of the 1920s, when the champagne flowed while the caviar chilled, and all the world was a party. The Drowsy Chaperone all begins when a die-hard musical-theater fan, known as Man in Chair and played by Jim Benda, puts his favorite cast album on his turntable. The musical literally bursts to life in his living room, telling the rambunctious tale of a brazen Broadway starlet, Janet Van De Graaff, played by Lauren Baker, trying to find, and keep, her true love.

The show, billed as a musical within a comedy, features an eclectic cast of characters, including the dashing bridegroom, oil tycoon Robert Martin, played by Nicholas Root, and his best man, George, played by Mark Morrison; Mrs. Tottendale, a wealthy dowager, and her butler, Underling, played by Debi Garner and Steve Betz; Latin lothario Aldolpho, played by Nick Toussaint; Feldzieg, a Big Broadway Producer, played by Gregory Millar; Kitty, a ditzy chorine, played by Alexandra Beem; Trix, the brash aviatrix, played by Renee Schwarz; a pair of gangsters posing as pastry chefs, played by Peter Dean and Jim Kolnik; and, of course, the bride's tipsy chaperone, played by Sue Tell.

The Drowsy Chaperone won several 2006 Tony Awards, and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical. Originally created by a group of Canadian comedians as a wedding gift for friends, it caught the eye of a producer attending the Toronto Fringe Festival and was expanded into a Big Broadway Musical.

Find more information about The Playhouse and The Drowsy Chaperone at www.dmplayhouse.com

09.02.2010: Twitez Of Intewest

Latest dancing dozen tweeted websites:
  1. A wordy, but, worthy, insight into the driving force behind Lines Ballet Company from The Scotland Herald
  2. Dancers wanted at the Oakland Ballet
  3. Latest newsletter from Tutu.Com
  4. Help wanted at the Houston Ballet
  5. And, you can check out web vid from the Houston Ballet
  6. Chance to win an autographed poster of the dance movie of the year from Dance Teacher Magazine
  7. Ballet blogger posts at the Houston Chronicle website
  8. Interview with the "quintessential American ballerina" at 4Dancers Blog
  9. Rave Reed review for aforementioned movie from the New York Observer
  10. Wanna start a ballet company? They're trying it in Detroit according to the Detroit News
  11. Ballroom webvid from DanceBeat
  12. Straight from the dancer's mouth at the Huffington Post

09.01.2010: Aurorah No-Bore-ealis!

Recent CCDC grad-turned-professional Dozing Kewtie is breaking new ground! She's actually the first CCDC graduate to start her second professional season with the same company, Saint Paul City Ballet! Let's check in with SarAurorah as she sets the current standard for our students to aspire to and beyond:
"...Woohoo! I love these little interviews. Okay, let's see...
  1. What's your dance and rehearsal schedule like? How big are the studios?
    At the beginning of September we have a choreography intensive to learn all our stuff for the next couple of shows, which will be all day every day for one week. After that, I'll be taking class 5 or 6 days a week at 10 am, and then Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday I'll have rehearsal until about 2:30 or 3. I'm guessing I'll have extra evening rehearsals with the students for snow corps as well this semester. As for school, I'm taking a class Mon-Wed-Fri from 8:30 to 9:30 in the morning, and then another at 3:30 to 4:30. Tues-Thurs I have class from 3-4:30, and Wed I have a night class from 7-10. I also just got a job as a math tutor so I'll be doing that a couple evenings a week. Oofdah! as we would say up here in the Great North Country. There are 2 studios at SPCB. One is too small to do anything but mark in, and the other is sufficient but still not big. We have our eye on a new building, but it's a matter of funding, as always.
  2. How many other dancers in your company? How many men? Women? Where are the other dancers from?
    This fall there will be 7 of us again I think - 4 or 5 women and 2 men (depending on whether one woman gets a job here in the cities). We may have a couple of unpaid apprentices, and I think we're planning on having 2 or so more women join the company in the spring. The other dancers are from all over, most of them having a degree in dance. One woman went to Walnut Hill for high school and then danced in France for 2 years. One woman just got her masters, and one of our men is finishing up his PhD.
  3. What are the company classes like? Any noticeable differences in ballet style? How are the rehearsals run? Do you have a pianist? Live music?
    Vaganova Vaganova Vaganova! SPCB is a Vaganova studio. Company class isn't necessarily Vaganova style, but most teachers here do use that system. Lots of upper body! We do have several pianists for class, including an angry Russian woman and a musical genius named Bob. Rehearsals are run pretty similarly to how they are at CCDC. When we're in rehearsal we can go in the small studio and work things out, or watch the rehearsal going on, or do homework, or just kind of hang out. The rehearsal process is pretty laid back - lots of joking around and having fun. We can do this because we're such a small, tightly-knit group, and because all of us are very serious about our work. We work hard, but we like to have fun, and the company has become like a little family.
  4. What's your performance schedule like this year? Any touring?
    SPCB does not tour per se, but we do small things like go to Alexandria (about 2 hours north of the Cities) to perform each summer. We also have a sister city in Mexico that we are planning on performing in at some point soon, hopefully regularly. We have Enchanted Toyshop in December, a company-only show at the Ritz in March (Bolero, something jazzy, and Wedding scene of Sleeping Beauty), and we're doing Cinderella in May.
  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?
    There isn't really anyone to kick your butt and yell at you when you do something stupid. You are accountable for yourself and the level of responsibility is raised by far. At the same time it's easy to go overboard and stress out about the pressure of a professional career and a paying audience to the point that you go slightly crazy. So I guess the hardest thing for me is balancing my own needs with my perception of what people expect from me (which is definitely exaggerated). As anyone who's taken class with me for an extended period of time at CCDC knows, in the past I've had trouble keeping my emotions in check. Surprisingly, that has been much easier here than I expected. I never had problems with this during my entire first season. I consider this a personal triumph! I'm actually known to be the company cheerleader with a healthy dose of comic relief.
  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 feel that CCDC prepared me very well to attain the degree of professionalism that is required to be in a company. Lucky for me, the teachers and other company members are much nicer and more supportive than what you were preparing me for. I can't think of anything I wish I had done differently when I was a student, because what's done is done and I can only move forward from here. I am by far the youngest company member, so they are giving me a lot of room to grow and improve here. I am still working on strength (of course), as well working on my artistry and character portrayal.
  7. What's it like living away from home? Any disasters or near-disasters so far?

    Living away from home is fantastic! I would recommend it to everyone. Not anything I would consider a disaster so far. It's a learning process, and you figure it out as you go. It's important to build up a network of support so you have people to bail you out if you do have a disaster. The company has been part of that for me.
  8. What's the city like? Your apartment? Do you have a car, car-pool or use public transportation?
    The Twin Cities are absolutely excellent. So much to do! There's a huge arts scene here, and we get a lot of good music coming through. For example, I'm going to see Arcade Fire in September! During the year I live in the dorm at Macalester and use public transport. This summer I lived in a house near Mac and did have a car. However, construction season here is horrible! I got lost more than once and had to call friends or ask random strangers to direct me home. My apartment this summer was cute, and I taught myself to cook.
  9. What do you miss the most as you begin your professional career? What do you miss the least?
    I miss marley floors (we have wood) and big studios. I DO NOT miss driving! SPCB is about a 2-minute walk from where I live. It's the greatest thing ever.
  10. What's the oddest thing that's happened so far inside or outside the studio? The funniest?
    Hmmm... I got a C- on a paper once (don't worry, I still got an A in the class). I've also taken the beginning steps to choreographing Land Before Time: The Ballet on the company. I find odd moments to test out new reptilian-like moves with some of the other dancers. Some are very supportive, but most just roll their eyes at me. The funniest moment is hard to say, because we are just generally hilarious as a company. Some of the best times are goofing around during rehearsals or in the dressing rooms before shows, or just hanging out with the company outside of dance.
  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?
    Balance is key! And I'm not talking balance in passe or attitude derriere. It is so important to balance your dance goals and time spent dancing with other aspects of your life. No one is only a ballet dancer. First, you are a human being, and you need to have fun and downtime and food and a social life. And you deserve to be treated with respect. No director or teacher or choreographer has the right to make you feel incompetent or disgusting or like a bad person. Second, I am a huge proponent of having other interests outside of dance. For example, I absolutely love school! I also play the piano a lot, and am now a math tutor. I like hanging out with friends and going to concerts and museums. All of these things, instead of taking away from dance, can enrich your dancing career greatly. Your other interests can inspire your dancing and allow you to draw from a rich variety of life experiences. Dancing is a form of expression, so it is optimal to have conflicts and relationships and ideas and opinions that you can express. Dancing cannot make up the entirety of a person's life, but with a good balance, it can be an extremely meaningful and significant part of it.

    ...and...

  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?
    Funny you ask! It is indeed a big topic of conversation up here. My boyfriend, for one, is insistent that Brett Favre will indeed lead the Vikings to Super Bowl victory. Though not entirely doubtful, I still see Favre as a traitor and an insult to my inner Cheesehead. Plus he's an old fogey. But it seems that he's still got it, so I guess we'll have to see..."
...Really? REALLY? Is it "funny that I ask"? Or is it ***MAD TIMING GENIUS***??? You decide.

08.31.2010: Must CDance TV!

Miss last night's announcement of the new line-up for DWT***? Never fear! Here's where to catch a replay of the unveiling:
...And, sight unseen, without any research, I'm going to put a circle around Brandy's name. If she turns out anything like M'ya, she'll be a competitor. Rick Fox, The Hoff and Kurt Warner could be good dancers...or great disasters! (Full disclosure: used to work with Kurt during his Barnstormer years. So, I'm hoping he's another Shawn Johnson, but, I have my doubts! Sorry, Kurt!o) Jennifer Grey is a sentimental favorite and should get some support just as a tribute to her seminal work on Dirty Dancing. I think The Situation is out of his league, as well as anyone else who's on just because of a relative or reality TV. I hope I'm wrong and they're all great dancers! But, watching the painful get excoriated is just part of the DWT*** process we all know and love!

08.31.2010: Good As Gold

Need a professional male guest artist? Just got this in the emailbag. I saw Avi Gold a few years ago when he was a principal with the late, lamented Omaha Theater Ballet and can vouch for his dancing. He's currently a Principal with the Minnesota Ballet:
"...Hello. My name is Avram Gold and I am a principal guest artist. I am writing to you to see if you are in need of a guest artist for Nutcracker or any other upcoming shows that you may be doing in the future. Below are two links to my audition videos on YouTube. The first is solo work that I have done and the other is of a Nutcracker Pas de Deux that I did at a guesting. I am also available as a teacher for master classes, pas de deux classes or Summer intensives. Please feel free to contact me anytime if you think we can collaborate in the future. Thanks in advance! Avram Gold

Thanks!

Avi Gold..."

...and, while I was posting the link to Minnesota Ballet, I accidentally ran across some photos of a someone very familiar to CCDC dancers. Find some performance pix of Nick Nameboy while he was with Ballet Minnesota.

08.30.2010: Mother Knows Best!

Reaction from recent audition:
"...THANK YOU! Although my dancer was a little frustrated with how the Nutcracker audition was run, she left feeling on top of the world. She said she felt like she wasn't doing well until she had a chance to watch dancers from other schools. In comparison she said that she and the other CCDC dancers were like professionals (her word, not mine). Thank you for providing the training that allows her to remain confident in her abilities even during a stressful audition..."

08.30.2010: Twitez Of Intewest

First installment of latest web lynx of dance interest tweeted to me recently:
  1. Upheaval in the international ballet scene as covered by the New York Times
  2. Find out where to major in Hip-Hop from Dance Teacher Magazine
  3. How a major ballet company is dealing with years of recession from the Culture Map
  4. Q+A with the real-life Mao's last dancer from the New York Times
  5. Jonesing4DanceTV? Watch as the rumours are laid to rest as explained by the New York Times
  6. An interactive feature as ordinary people attempt their first steps to becoming a dancer from the New York Times
  7. Hit? Or myth? Truth about energy bars from Womens Health Magazine
  8. Video of one of my favorite contemporary dancers from SYTYCDISM
  9. Employment opportunities with the San Francisco Ballet

08.27.2010: Kweschunz4Karina!

Is that your final answer? Yes, sez CCDC Ballet/Modern Instructor Karina S! Here it is and well worth the weight! First the question:
5-You traveled around the country and overseas as a dancer and teacher. What are the differences between dance students around the U.S. and other countries? How do you help your students become competitive on a global scale?
"...Sorry...finally the last question!

5. Let's see...my teaching range is broad including: the Boys and Girls club in downtown Little Rock, to a sports high school in Denmark, a visually impaired class in Des Moines, a very small strictly classical ballet school in Vermont, to company supported schools like Lexington Ballet. For me students will be students pretty much everywhere-some work, some are lazy, some are forced to be there, and some go beyond towards excellence.

What I have found most important is the tone set by the school. If a teacher pushes each student to reach his/her potential, sets standards high in a nurturing way, and offers tools to the students to reach professional status... then students excel whether or not they "go professional". Life lessons are learned in ballet class: discipline, patience, respect for the process, control, and self expression; all of these are valuable in managing "life". No education is lost.

To compete on a global scale students have to be aware of how high the bar(re) lol is set in this profession. If students do not have access to a company-they should take a tour of one-observe classes, watch performances. Students can access any famous ballet dancer via UTube and see what the best in the world is doing. Students must be self motivated and driven to achieve the best they can with a positive mental attitude with teachers who promote all of those attributes. This is what I strive to do (and) both Missy and Emery strive for as well..."

08.26.2010: Local Celeb

Fifteen more minutes of fame? Cue the paparazzi! Got a message from Nick Nameboy the other day asking if it would be okay to pass on our names to a reporter for an interview the student paper was doing about him. He was being featured as an incoming student of interest. We did and got a call. A few days after that conversation, got this from BMOC:
"...Hey! The profile was posted today. Thanks!..."
...Be sure to click on the photo gallery for some interesting shots of GitUrFaShawn. And, check out the phun photo captions for additional insights.

And, sent him this message in response:

"...Congrats, UIGuy! You're an even bigger minor celebrity than before! How did the audition go? When will you find out results and casting? How are the dance classes going? Have you run into Odile? See Natasha much? How are the academics going? Howz the apartment working out? Roomies? Like the city? Whoops! This is turning into Questionnaire, The Sequel! Have fun! Don't be afraid of showing off in ballet class!o)..."
...and promptly got this in return:
"...The audition went pretty well. I got into Eloy Barragan's piece, so it should be pretty balletic. The shows are this October. Odile is actually in the piece, too! Classes are going really well thus far, and I'm with Natasha for a few of them, so we see each other all the time. The few normal classes I've had so far have gone well: I'm just waiting to see how much homework I'll have. I rarely had homework in high school, so that's a big change.

The apartment is really good, as is the roommate. The city's great... So yeah, life is good. Hope it stays that way!..."

...Merde for school, GitUrFaShawn!

08.25.2010: 2 Buy? Or Not 2Buy?

Got this from Dance Factory Outlet: No endorsement implied or intended. Have never ordered from them. This is informational only. Caveat Emptor!
Back to School SAVINGS Featuring Capezio Styles

Save on Everything Needed for Class!

SPECIAL: Items as low as $1.00

CLICK HERE to view all the styles.

...and, caught wind of a potentially better deal here. A well-known ballet company apparently selling overstock of pointe and soft-shoes. Check it out.

08.25.2010: Audition Action

If performing is in your blood, this could be a chance to feed your need for a platelet infusion:
"...Auditions for the new comedy, Duck Hunter Shoots Angel will be held at The Playhouse at 6:00 P.M. on Sunday, Sept. 19. All auditions are open to the public; no one is pre-cast.

Duck Hunter Shoots Angel contains feature roles for 7 men, including 1 African-American, and 2 women, ages 16 and up. Performances are Nov. 5-21, 2010. Duck Hunter Shoots Angel is directed by Ron Ziegler.

Duck Hunter Shoots Angel is the uproarious story of two bumbling Alabama brothers who may have never shot a duck but think they shot an angel. As they lament their fates in a murky swamp, they are chased by a cynical tabloid journalist and his reluctant photographer, who don't believe any of it until feathers, wings, and a tiara are discovered along the way. The play hysterically interweaves a love story, sibling rivalry, tawdry media, race relations, and cultural stereotypes as the chase to find the angel builds to a crescendo in the swamp. Ultimately a sweet allegory about redemption, Duck Hunter Shoots Angel has been hailed by audiences as a rare comedy with a surprisingly heartfelt lesson. Duck Hunter Shoots Angel is by Mitch Albom, author of Tuesdays With Morrie.

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

08.25.2010: Calling All Geeks!

And...if you wanna (ho-hum) follow the fella. Here's info on SYTYCD VII's runner-up: Kent B (yawn):
"...AlexdWong: Finally!! My farm boy has a twitter! :) RT @Kent_Boyd: @alexdwong hey alex im on twitter..."

08.24.2010: Putting 'The Star' In2 'The Start', Part de Deux

CCDC Alum Katya W00tang is beginning her professional dance career this week at the Minnesota Ballet, one of my old dance companies. (Road trip NE1?) At the end of the week or so, we'll pester her with some questions. We'll try to keep you updated on her progress as the season goes along. But, in a recent phone call, she says she hasn't been able to get her apartment hooked up with internet access yet, so it may take a while. Here are a dozen questions we'll be sending her soon...and probably again after the end of her season. Follow along and keep score at home: (BTW, these are purt near the exact same questions we sent to Nick NameGuy and MadKeyz as they began their professional seasons last year!o)
  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? Where are the other dancers from?
  3. What are the company classes like? Any noticeable differences in ballet style? 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 inside or outside the studio? 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?

    ...and...

  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 Duluth?

08.23.2010: Twites of Intewest

Most intriguing tweets led me to these sites this past week:
  • Preview the must-see dance movie of the year (Sorry, Black Swan!), it's called Mao's Last Dancer
  • ...And, reviews are in from the Washington Post and the Boston Globe
  • Here's a sneak peek at what could become the also-ran ballet movie of the year from The Hollywood Reporter. Here's the movie poster and see 08.18.2010 below for the trailer.
  • Diana Vishneva in Grand Pas Classique at YouTube.Com
  • Tres' bien! Unbelievable story about the Trey McIntyre Project from the The New York Times! Is this place even in America? (CCDC Guest Faculty Jason Hartley dances there)
  • Catch a glimpse of SYTYCD alum Danny Tidwell from DanceMedia.Com
  • Video pack of Boston Ballet's recent tour of Europe from DanceMedia.Com
  • Picture of a NYCB dancer's first pas de deux class from TwitPic.com
  • An Adult newbie writes about his attempt to learn ballet at the DaveTriesBallet Blog
  • A video interview with SFB Principal Dancer Maria Kochetkova at her website
  • Get to know the principal dancers at the NYCB Website
  • Here's that EPIC Quest Krew performance on SYTYCD at YouTube.Com
  • Putting a dangerous edge on the meaning of the words "pointe work". Another dancer gets hurt during swordplay for R+J according to a New Zealand Stuff Website. That's not the first time that's happened. Richard McCloud of the Atlanta Ballet was hospitalized a few years ago during a similar incident during their R+J. How do I remember? Because a few seasons before that, McCloud was a guest dancer in Ballet Hawai'i's version of the ballet. I was paired up with him in a sword-fight scene. And, even though our sequence was thoroughly choreographed, his aggressiveness was a bit daunting. His defensive parrys were more like offensive strikes. He attacked the scene (and me!) with gusto, speed and enthusiasm, if not skill! So, I wasn't really surprised to learn he was stabbed on stage a few years later. Probably out of self-defense!
  • This looks like a repost about common dance injuries from Dance Teacher Magazine

08.20.2010: Nick Namez Names!

The NuCollegeBoy has turned in his assignment promptly! He gets an 'A+' from me! How would you grade him?:

  1. What made you decide not to return to your old company? Was it a difficult decision?

    While by the end of my season I really did enjoy the company and my place in it, I felt I was at a different stage in my life compared to the other dancers I had met throughout the year and decided that college might be the best route for me to develop as a person and dancer, rather than than working contract-to-contract at this point.

  2. What was the best and worst thing about your first season as a professional dancer? High pointe during best performance? Not-so-high pointe?
    My favorite part was performing 'A Single Thought, Amplified' at our spring show. It was choreographed on us by Kari Jensen, fellow dancer and founder of Moving Arts Ensemble, and it really made me think about why I dance and about the place of dance in my life. Another high point would be getting to perform the Bluebird pas de deux again, this time in a company setting. With leveled-up choreography and slightly-higher stakes, it was fun to do. As far as anything negative, I learned that it's really hard to be new to a something like a company, and how you have to work to get what you want.

  3. What do you know now that you wished you had known one year ago today? What advice would you give to any CCDC dancer heading into a similar situation or into their first company?
    I think I could have came in with a bit more of an open mind: especially in the ballet world, technique is done differently anywhere you go.

  4. How difficult was it to move to a big city alone and try to survive? What was the hardest part of the transition?
    I was really glad that I had the mindset that I did, because I've always been a really sheltered person. I was optimistic about everything and it all ended up working out in the end. And for the hardest part: my apartment was the first floor of this beautiful old house. There were lots of spiders. And a mouse.

  5. What will you major in in school? What are you looking forward to the most at school?
    I'll be majoring in dance. I'm really looking forward to the performance opportunities that the program has to offer. The auditions for the first show are on Monday!

  6. What did you learn as a professional dancer that you hope will help you in your academic dancing career?
    As a company, we did a bunch of original choreography, all of which was pretty contemporary. I think that experience should help my transition from purely classical works.

  7. Where would you like to be five years from now? Ten years? 450?
    I have no clue what I'll be doing in five years, but I certainly hope I'll be dancing.

...Merde for auditions on Monday, GitUrFaShawn (and Natasha!o) And, merde for the rest of your dancing lives!

08.19.2010: She Lives!

That Krazy Kollage Kid still exists! Proven with the following epistle excerpts!o):
"...Crazy as it seems, summer is ending, so I thought it was high time for an update from your one-and-only Sleeping Kewtie. I've been thinking of you and I miss you very much, but I am so glad I decided to spend the summer up here in Saint Paul.

First on the roster, I just got finished performing in Minnesota Fringe Festival. For people who don't know, there are Fringe festivals all over the country and in Canada too, but Minnesota has the biggest one. It is a series of dance and theater groups who perform at several venues all over the Cities over the span of a couple of weeks. I was in Sharon Varosh's show, a choreographer with whom I worked last fall at Macalester. She is a professor of dance at Mac, teaches at Zenon (right below MN Dance Theatre on Hennepin), and does a bunch of other choreographic jobs. I was in two pieces. The first was a solo which I performed last fall which was part of a series of 3 solos called "Watched Not Seen." They are all based on artwork in which girls or women are being objectified in some way. The first solo was based on Degas' "Little 14-Year-Old Dancer" and also used the theme of creepy old men sitting around watching ballet class in Degas' paintings. The third solo was from "Marilyn on the Heating Grate" and depicted the struggles Marilyn Monroe went through both in and out of the eye of the camera and the public. My dance was second, and it is based on Picasso's "Girl Before a Mirror." There was a man in my dance who played Picasso, and we used the frame of a full-length mirror. The idea was that I was a initially a strong, fiery woman, but Picasso was contorting me and manipulating me through the mirror to make me angular and distorted. Even after I wrested the mirror from Picasso and left the stage, I still saw myself in the mirror as the distorted person he turned me into. Very haunting. The other piece I was in was to the Snow music in Nutcracker. We all wore kimonos. I didn't like doing this one as much because there was such a wide range of skill levels and so the rehearsal process was very slow and tedious for me. Also, Nutcracker music. Ugh. But all in all we had a very good run and got great reviews.

Let's see, what else have I been up to? I spent June trying to find a job by applying to every business within walking distance. No luck. So I've been doing some babysitting gigs and running a taxi service for a couple of friends. I've also been volunteering some. It was through volunteering that I became acquainted with a historian looking for a research assistant. She and I have worked together a few times downtown in the Hennepin County Government Center in the county records. We're doing a family history of Christmas Lake in Exelsior. So basically I've been digging out record books and putting them in the microphage and trying to decipher handwriting from the 1850s. It's a little tedious, but pretty cool and good experience since I'm into history. I don't know if I've told you, but I'm planning on an anthropology major and history minor. I took one cultural anthropology class last spring and absolutely fell in love. That means I'll have to study abroad! I want to go to Morocco! Or anywhere, really. I truly love Macalester and am so excited to go back to school in a couple of weeks here..."

(Assorted sordid personal details redacted here)

"...I learned how to cook! Some things I've made: linguini with tomato-clam sauce, red beans and rice, fritata, chicken tikka, black bean soup, stir fry, fajitas, and curried chickpeas. My mom and brother came to visit a couple of weeks ago and I made them a full-fledged meal which consisted of mango lassi, samosas, curry, and baked bananas for dessert. It was epic (or should I say "epicurious"). Aw, I miss your corny puns!

Well, I'll be starting my second season with SPCB in a few weeks here. We'll be preparing for the Enchanted Toyshop as well as starting to work on choreography for our show at the Ritz in March. This fall I'll be focusing mainly on gaining back my strength. I'm also planning on auditioning for Bodacious, Macalester's hip-hop group. I auditioned last year and got a call back, but didn't quite make it. However, now I have friends in the group and thus inside connections, so we'll see. If I don't make it then I'll be continuing with my breakdance training.

The End.

I miss you and say hi to all the dancers for me!

Love,
Princess SarAurorah II..."

08.18.2010: Putting 'Me' in 'Media'!

Final thoughts on Season Seven of SYTYCD: Sure, Ellen D generated a lotta energy spoofing Alex's routine on the results show, but, when I think about the finale', I think about Quest Krew! Their routine was epic! Choreography and musicality, execution and exuberance! All excellent! They were like a cross between a vagabond band of b-boyz, steam-punk gymnastic gypsies and Will-Dance-4-Food Cirque de Soleil radical roustabouts! They deserve their own Vegas show alongside fellow ABDC winners, Jabba Wokkeez! That upside down walking routine and the SICK back headspring to a stick by SYTYCD alum Ryan was just jaw-dropping. How he doesn't suffer from concussion everytime he does that move I'll never know. When I was learning back handsprings, the pointe was to AVOID landing on the head! My spot dropped me on my gourd one-time and believe me the whole world stopped existing and was replaced by PAIN for awhile. (Here's a tip: don't practice back handsprings on carpet covered concrete! OUCH!) So, for someone to actually practice that to the pointe of execution...well, if I wore a hat on my still-swollen dome, I'd be tipping it! And, Hok and Dom, also of SYTYCD, are still on a quest to push the boundaries of their dancing. Mark my words! Look for more from the boyz (+girl!) of Quest Krew soon...and, congrats to Lauren F. for winning! She's sharp and smooth and kinda kewt, but, I kinda lost interest when my boy, Alex, suffered his injury. I woulda preferred Robert survive past Kent, but, it's hard to beat that boyz geeky appeal to the prepubescent Bieber-fever crowd. I just hope the show doesn't devolve into a popularity contest for young immature dancerz...Oh, wait, is it too late for that? Oh, well, at least the All-Star format allowed me to watch Allison, Dom and Neal most weeks. Hope that format and those stars continue on the show. I wouldn't mind seeing Travis, Danny, Nick, Katee, Ryan and, even, Blake back on that stage again. And, for those of you who suffering from SYTYCD withdrawal, here's a twupdate on where to follow from BalletBoy:
"...alexdwong: S7 Twitters @ADeCHiKe @AlexieAgdeppa @BBOYFULLDECK @Billy_Bell @laurenfrodie @MelindaSully @RJRoldan @SantanaDance @TheGalvatron No Kent yet..."
...and...
"...alexdwong: No, Kent says @KentBoyd is not his twitter, or it might be, but he has no control over it yet and didn't set it up. Just a lost farm boy. HA ..."

08.18.2010: Ode2Odile

Fascinating first glimpse of Black Swan: (So far, so good?!o)

08.17.2010: Buh-Bye, Nick Nameman!

Who is that unmasked man riding off into the sunset? That's CCDC alum GitUrFaShawn aka SFBoy aka SABoy aka TwinCityBoy who's putting his professional dance career on hold to attend the school we affectionately refer to as Party Hearty U! His last class (for now) at CCDC was last night. But, before he dives and disappears head-long into academics and college dance, he promised to answer a few questions about his (too-brief-so-far) dance career:
  1. What made you decide not to return to your old company? Was it a difficult decision?
  2. What was the best and worst thing about your first season as a professional dancer? High pointe during best performance? Not-so-high pointe?
  3. What do you know now that you wished you had known one year ago today? What advice would you give to any CCDC dancer heading into a similar situation or into their first company?
  4. How difficult was it to move to a big city alone and try to survive? What was the hardest part of the transition?
  5. What will you major in in school? What are you looking forward to the most at school?
  6. What did you learn as a professional dancer that you hope will help you in your academic dancing career?
  7. Where would you like to be five years from now? Ten years? 450?
...Merde, GitUrFaShawn! Have phun@school! Drop in sometime! Don't be a stranger or go all BIG TIME on us!o)

08.16.2010: Pointe of Contention?

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08.16.2010: Yes, UrTeenzRKrazy!

Forewarned, Forearmed, parents!
"...As the new school year begins, Consumer Reports Health medical advisor, Dr. Orly Avitzur advises parents to look out for worrying teen behaviors like biting, cutting, and sucking blood as part of a vampire trend; wearing decorative contact lenses that could lead to blinding infections and cornea damage; and the widespread and dangerous habit of texting while driving. To access the full story, click here or read on:

10 troublesome teen trends
Orly Avitzur, M.D.

It's not easy being a parent of teens these days. Previously rational children transform into moody, unreasonable creatures whose need to shock is only surpassed by their efforts to fit in. Add a measure of impulsiveness and experimentalism, and it's no wonder risky behavior skyrockets during these years. What a parent can do is to keep the lines of communication open, stay informed of the health dangers of some of the most common trends, and keep their fingers crossed.

Here's a roundup of 10 troublesome trends, some old and some new, that your teen may be exposed to this school year:

  1. Biting and cutting and sucking blood
    Yes, as unbelievable as it sounds, there's a vampire movement afoot thanks to the glamorous portrayal of teen vampires on the Twilight series and The Vampire Diaries and the popularity of HBO's True Blood. Besides the serious bacterial dangers of human bites, it can be a mode of HIV transmission that's not covered in most sex ed classes.

  2. Circle lenses/decorative contact lenses
    A look made popular by Lady Gaga and YouTube, circle lenses create a big doe-eyed appearance and have become popular among teenage girls. Illegal to sell without a prescription, but easily bought online, doctors are concerned about risks of blinding infections and damage to the cornea.

  3. ADHD prescription drug abuse
    The same drugs being used to treat attention deficit disorder are being freely shared by some teens on college campuses and high schools to give them an edge at preparing for exams. Not only is the stigma gone, but kids who have the prescriptions are the go-to favorites during finals. If your child uses ADHD drugs, warn him or her against sharing. If your child doesn't, make it clear that these are serious medications with side effects, not study aids.

  4. Tobacco escalation products
    Many teens are convinced that, unlike cigarettes, smoking a hookah or using chewing tobacco is not harmful. In fact, hookahs do use tobacco (referred to as Massel) which comes in a wide variety of flavors—including apple, strawberry, and coconut—intended to create a "graduation strategy" so that kids get hooked by starting them with milder tasting, more flavored substances. This trick is also used with a product called Snus, a non-chew, no-spit oral tobacco that's also available in variety of sweet and fruity flavors. Also increasingly popular with teens, using Snus lets them stay under the radar at school and still get their nicotine fix, because it's stuffed between the lip and the gum. Make sure your teens know that these products have their own dangers, as well as leading to nicotine addiction.

  5. Tanorexia/Tanning salons
    Even though exposure to tanning beds before the age of 30 increases a person's risk of developing melanoma by 75 percent, this real danger is dampened by television shows that depict it as trendy and fashionable. One study of university students found that more than 90 percent of tanning-bed users know about the risks of premature aging and skin cancer but continue to tan because they think it looks good.

  6. Tattoos
    Tattoos have become extremely popular among teens. Although most states have laws prohibiting minors from getting them, they are poorly enforced. Recent data suggest that more than one-third of adults in the U.S. under the age of 35 now sport at least one tattoo. Outbreaks of community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) skin infections among tattoo recipients have been related to sloppy infection control practices. And tattoos are estimated to account for more than twice as many hepatitis C infections as injection drug use. Other infections, including HIV, can also be contracted through tattooing. If your kids insist on tattoos, make sure that they go to a licensed practitioner.

  7. Piercings
    Besides traditional ear piercings which carry the standards risks of infection, allergic reactions to nickel, and scar formation, kids are piercing other parts of their bodies, including their nose, naval region, lips, eyebrows and tongues, as well as areas hidden from parents. Bacterial infections are not uncommon as are risks of hepatitis, tuberculosis, HIV and tetanus. Deformity and scarring can be permanent. Make sure your kids are aware that needles wielded by anyone but a health professional or certified technician can be lethal weapons.

  8. Tech use at night
    Do you know what your kids are doing in their bedrooms at night? It's likely they're texting their friends, chatting on Facebook, or playing video games. The high-tech bedrooms of many teenagers, are anything but dark and quiet. They often go to sleep listening to their iPods, and exchange text messages late into the night. In fact, this seems to be typical teenage behavior. No wonder they're tired in school. Encourage your child to make it a habit to completely unplug well before bedtime.

  9. Texting while driving
    There have been reports of teens getting into serious car accidents texting while driving because they keep their hands and eyes on their cell phone keys, rather than the steering wheel. The practice is widespread and getting worse. According to a 2010 survey by AAA and Seventeen Magazine, 86 percent of drivers, age 16-19 admit to risky driving habits, up 25% from a 2008 survey. And those who texted, sent, on average, 23 text messages while driving in the past month. Sixty percent of teens say they drive while talking on their cell phones, up nine percent from a 2008 survey. Make sure your teen drivers have headsets in the car so they can take needed calls and keep their hands on the wheel.

  10. Noise exposure
    According to published research, about 12.5 percent of American children between the age of 6 and 19 have measurable noise induced hearing loss in one or both ears. Exposure to harmful sounds can injure the delicate hair cells in the inner ear. We have a fixed number of cochlear hair cells and they don't regenerate, so it's important to prevent damage in the first place to reduce the need for a hearing aid later in life. To protect their hearing, they should turn down the volume from headsets, televisions and car radios, and set the top volume level on their MP3 player to a safe level..."

08.13.2010: Twites of Intewest!

Here's some good luck for your Friday the 13th! Here's the latest "baker's dozen" from a plethora of dance tweets:
  1. *** SPOILER ALERT!!! *** Surprise guest on the finale of SYTYCD! Read about it (and watch!) from the Los Angeles Times
  2. Tips on how to portray a world class Giselle from Pointe Magazine
  3. Tips on stretching from the Ballet For Men Blog
  4. And, write it down! Tips on keeping a dance journal from the Ballet for Men Blog
  5. And, one last free offering from Ballet For Men Website
  6. Tips and coaching a pirouette en attitude from Susan Jaffe from DanceMedia.Com
  7. Tips on body maintenance for dancers from Pointe Magazine
  8. A little webvid of PNB Principal Carla Korbes from YouTube.Com
  9. Catch up with the star of Center Stage and Mao's Last Dancer from the New York Post
  10. Webvid of San Francisco Ballet Principal Dancer Maria Kochetkova from YouTube.Com
  11. And, here's webvid of San Francisco Ballet Principal Dancer Joan Boada from YouTube.Com
  12. Info on cultural offerings in Orange County from the Los Angeles Times
  13. ...And, because of the language used, I'm not posting a link to a recent Maxim Magazine article that compares two weeks of Mixed Martial Arts Training with two weeks of daily ballet classes. If you're motivated, you have to find it on your own. Here's a hint: author's name is Joshua David Stein.

08.12.2010:Pas de Quartre

Part Four of Kweschunz4Karina:
4-Was there a professional dancer or teacher you modeled yourself after (besides Emery)? What's the best advice someone's ever given you about becoming a professional dancer and staying one?

4. The best advice I was given? wow! that is a tough one...my mom used to say," You can come home, cry, and kick the door; but you know that it is meant for you if you get up the next morning and still want to do it." If I had anything I could do over I would a. Enjoy the process more! b. Beat myself up less when I didn't get it right ie. strive for excellence and not perfection c. and take more risks

08.12.2010: Lady Luck

WOW! Not only did a Nigerian bank official contact me recently to use my checking account to make me rich, but, we got this in the old e-mailbox as well! Talk about a string of luck!
"...Hi My name is _____ and I am a casting director for NBC Americas Got Talent. We are auditioning showcases between 9am and 6pm on August 14th in _______. We would love to have your talent come in. Again this isn't a large casting this is for a showcase which will have producers in the room who also cast others shows. Please send me a link of you performing.

____________-Casting
NBC Americas Got Talent..."

08.11.2010: Too Daze O' Dance

The (ho-hum) finale of (the Alex-less) SYTYCD coming up tonight+tomorrow (yawn):o/
"...AMERICA CROWNS ITS FAVORITE DANCER ON THE TWO-NIGHT SEASON SEVEN FINALE OF SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE

WED AUG 11 and THU AUG 12 at 8/7c

The passion, pointe and pas de bourrees have reached their peak this season, and the final three dancers, Robert, Lauren and Kent, must give it their all during their final performances on WED AUG 11 at 8/7c. This is the last chance to convince the judges and America that they have what it takes to be America's Favorite Dancer. Be sure to watch who outshines the rest on the first part of the two-night season finale of SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE.

Then, on THU AUG 12 at 8/7c, after the votes have been tallied, the moment America has been waiting for is finally here! Who will earn the coveted $250,000 prize, the cover of Dance Spirit Magazine and the title of America's Favorite Dancer? Tune in and find out.

Also, be sure to check out highlights of last week's National Dance Day celebration on FOX.com.

Still want more from your Season Seven favorites? Watch replays here1. SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE Tour - dates have just been announced!..."

08.11.2010: Hey, Cinderella!

...is this your new shoe, princess?
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08.10.2010: Twites of Intewest

The latest interesting tweets lately led me to these clicks:

08.10.2010: Shoppe Local Brix+Mortar

E-message from Theatrical Shoppe:
"...This month we are holding a sale on all regularly-priced dancewear and shoes.

Just come into the shop before August 29th to take advantage and save!

Don't forget, we also have a wide variety of rhinestones, trim, body glitter and makeup available to help make our dancers shine.

Thank you, and have a great fall dance season!!

The Theatrical Shop
Costumes, Dance Supplies, and Novelties Galore!..."

08.09.2010:Pas de Trois

Part Three of Kweschunz4Karina:
3-What advantages did you have training along-side professional dancers? What did you learn from being in rehearsals, performances or on tour with professional dancers? Is there a specific incident or person you watched where you realized to yourself "that's what it's going to take" or "that's how hard a professional works"?

3. Advantages to training alongside professional dancers were numerous and a definite blessing. In any training, it is critical to have the bar set, so to speak. If one is only exposed to student work one cannot see beyond that. I used to arrive one hour before student classes began in the evenings to watch the professionals rehearse. I saw "the process"-the lifts that didn't work, the off days, those coping with injuries as well as the magical moments when technique enabled six pirouettes en pointe for someone or movement that transcended technique into artistry.

There was no one person I modeled myself after, but I knew, due to certain physical limitations, that I would have to work 10 times as hard as a dancer who was gifted physically or what have you. I knew I had to promote the qualities in me that made me stand out, made me "hire-able" or an asset to a company. I looked up to dancers who made technique work for their own body, who had a killer work ethic, who made every role a big one, and whose love for their profession shine on stage.

08.09.2010: Danseur Vs Dude.

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Ballet Boy Beats Bully! From the San Francisco Weekly. Good thing Mmmadd Skyllz wasn't there! BTW, we don't recommend this. No phone is worth your life!

08.09.2010: Dance Webinar Opportunity

Learn about Dance as therapy:
"...Wednesday, Aug. 11, 1-2 p.m. EST: Michelle Pearson of Liz Lerman Dance Exchange will explore programming with people in healthcare settings; training health professionals and caregivers and professional development of teaching artists who work with patients, caregivers and healthcare professionals. Pearson will focus on their caregiver training which uses Dance Exchange tools and a multi-disciplinary approach to art that combines movement, verbal expression, creative challenge and collaboration to facilitate artistic activities with patients.

All that is needed to participate is a computer with an Internet connection and a phone. Cost is $50 per webinar. Visit here to register and for more information..."

08.06.2010: Sushi Shells Sashimi By The Sushi Shore

Lotta of CCDC sushi-newbie students being exposed to a lotta "raw fish" nowadays. And, coincidentally, just got e-mailed this tip from Women's Health Magazine that maintains all sushi are not created equal. Hints on how to seperate the healthy from the non-healthy:(BTW, have I mentioned that sushi does NOT automatically mean "raw fish" in Japanese? That would be sashimi (sah-she-mee)!)
"...The Best Sushi Rolls for Your Body

Sushi has a healthy reputation, but it only holds true if you know what to order Unlike the Japanese, who favor sashimi and nigiri-style sushi, the vast majority of sushi consumed in this country comes in roll form. And nowhere does the potential for seriously healthy eats or nutritional negligence oscillate so wildly than in these seaweed-wrapped, seafood-stuffed bites. Your solution: our guide..."

08.06.2010: Piling on Pilates

Still not convinced of the value of ballet dancers cross-training with CCDC Pilates Classes? Click on this article from Stott Pilates.

08.05.2010: Kweschunz4Karina!

An inside look at a ballerina's career continues. Earlier this summer, I submitted five questions to CCDC Ballet/Disco Hustle Instructor Karina S. She's taken time out of her busy, busy schedule to answer another of our pesky questions:
"...Hi! I think I sent you an answer for question 1 so here is 2...

2-You went on to apprentice with Ballet Iowa at the same time that one of CCDC's Ballet Masters was still in the company. What was that experience like and what is your favorite memory of Emery? (If you don't have one, please make one up!o)
Any first job is a bit intimidating...particularly being the low man on the totem pole in a ballet company (one learns ballet hierarchy pretty quick) ! But of course I was thrilled and absolutely ready to learn from everyone around me. I look back at how fortunate I was to have a company to emulate and "be around" day in and day out.

Dancers became "people" to me not just those I fawned over as "stars" when I was young. They had good days and bad days, some had incredible work ethics and some not, and some dancers had to fight tooth and nail for technique and to some dance came naturally. I came to realize that (like any other work environment) some people did NOT get along and still had to dance together and make it work. They were Human--Shocker I Know!

But with that I began appreciate the process of a dance career and the on going "work in progress" dance is. I began to appreciate "Class" everyday-a time to work just on technique and not choreography--my "me" time. The body is different everyday and so are emotions and perspectives. It was having to let go of a "bad pirouette" day and that some days being a dancer was just work! But on the flip side...I was able to do what I loved everyday! How many people can say they lived the dream? and not just the dream but the real thing! I worked with guest choreographers, went on tour (which I loved!), and watch a performance go from the baby stages to the big stage. I learned from seasoned dancers and teachers. I learned that my technique and improvement was up to me. Unlike the student experience, I was thankful for even one correction in class as opposed to the constant corrections I was used to. I learned to be thankful for my lack of injuries and how they can affect not only a dancer's day but career.

My favorite memories of Emery...quite a few! He had an excellent work ethic-he came to work everyday about an hour or more ahead of class to warm up and put himself through exercises. He loved veggie subs at Subway! lol As my first partner, I couldn't have had better.. he was patient, encouraging, respectful, and positive. He still (to this day!) feels bad about a partnering incident gone awry* and it wasn't even his fault. He studied the other dancers and applied what he learned to himself. Go Emery! Sounds like the teacher CCDC students know and love today! ..."

* Editor's Note: Thanks for the kind words and thanks for standing up for me Karina! But, the rest of you listen: I pride myself on my partnering and THAT was NOT my fault! That stupid dancer sat down in the middle of the floor as Karina and I were in rehearsal. I tripped over old Rank+Runty and, from an overhead lift, dropped and thought I nearly kilt Karina! Fortunately she was okay, but, it could've been much, much worse! I still shudder and apologize to her to this day! (Even though, it's not my fault!)

08.05.2010:

Here's an offer from Mark's Dancewear:
"...BACK TO SCHOOL SALE: PART 2!!

If you missed the last coupon, don't worry!!!

Save 15% Print off and bring in this coupon to receive 15% off your back to school dance supplies!!! *Shop early to avoid the rush!!!*

(Not valid on sale items, pointe shoes or with other offers.10% off Katrinawear. In store only.)

Offer Expires: August 15, 2010

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE COUPON..."

08.04.2010: Putting "Me" in "Media"!

SYTYCD has become SYTYCC for me...meaning So You Think You Can Choreograph! That's what keeps me watching nowadays given the (ho-hum!) mediocre crop of contestants this year. (Go, yawn, Lauren!) And there's quite a competition for "Never-Mind-America-what-about-MY-Favorite-Choreographer" this year. Two strong efforts last week by Stacey Tookey for Robertherine and Billade'. (Unexpected, surprising, but, timely, ending for the leave-taking dance for Cathert...especially with so many local families affected by what's being called the "largest mobilization of the local National Guard since WWII". Wives and mothers are leaving their families as well as men.) And, of course, Momma Mia's opening number for Alison in Mia-land was quirky as well. Ms Michaels seemed to be channeling her inner Wade Robson and dancer Billy seemed to be tapping into his inner Mark Kanemura for that number. (Funny how Kanemura seems to have cornered the market on "quirky"!) And, speaking of "quirky", Sonja Tayeh keeps pushing the boundaries with her choreography with mixed success and excess. Big hits and minor misses with Ms Mohawk..And, we're waving a fond farewell to dancers who got the boot last week. Billy never quite lived up to the hype. He qualified for last season while offering a tantalizing glimpse of his awesome potential, but, had to sit out with injury. His extraordinary flexibility would be eye-opening for a female, it allows him to routinely make shapes and moves that would cripple lesser dancers! But, his refusal to dance when he was cleared by doctors may have sent the wrong message to many dancers in the audience. And, Jose'! What can I say! His solo was so smooth and strong. He makes moves that take extraordinary strength and control look effortless. But, that smoothness and, yes, gentleness were a weak pointe in his duet with Comfort. She was so sharp and controlled, he looked lackadaisical and sluggish by contrast. Get more training, buddy! It'll increase your range! But, maybe that lack of sharpness could be blamed on the injury referred to in the judges' comments. And, injuries are playing a larger role this season than I can remember ever. I think the producers need to figure out what else they can do to protect their dancers. I think there are union rules on how much rehearsal they can schedule, but, maybe, more oversight, more massage and physical therapy could be scheduled. And, I have to say that I was luke-warm on the All-Star concept, but, having the chance to watch Allison Holker perform every week (And, amazingly, Lauren kept up with her!) keeps me watching! ...Along with the better choreographers.

08.04.2010: Marx Ur Calendarz!

Price is right for starving dancers who don't have class that night!o):
"...It’s “free flicks,” “free admission,” and “free food” as Mediacom and the Art Center join forces to highlight the variety of free entertainment and cultural amenities available to metro area residents. The classic Marx Brothers film, A Night at the Opera, will be shown on the Art Center lawn, Thursday evening, August 5. The free activities open to the public will include free sack suppers for the first 100 people to arrive, beginning at 7:30 pm and a contest for the most creative picnic arrangement. Individuals and families are invited to bring picnic fare and showcase their flair with creative arrangements that will be judged by local celebrities.

The 92-minute film celebrates the 75th anniversary of its release and will be shown at dusk (approx. 8:45 pm).

The evening of free entertainment is designed to remind the public that the Art Center has free admission all year round to give all area residents and tourists access to a world-class art collection. Free Flicks is the third and final summer film presented in conjunction with the Capital City Parks and Recreation Department.

“The common element here is that there’s so much to do and experience that’s free,” said Christine Doolittle, Art Center marketing director. “We hope people will bring a blanket or chairs and a picnic and come to the Art Center. They’ll gain the added enjoyment of participating in the contest or admiring the creative picnic arrangements of others.”

Thursday, August 5, 2010

What: Free Flicks, Free Food – A Night at the Opera
Starring the Marx Brothers (1935)

Where: The Art Center Lawn – 4700 Grand Avenue

When: 7:30 pm – Free Picnic Sack Suppers (available to first 100 people)
8:30 pm - Judges will announce winners of “Creative Picnic Set-up” Contest
Dusk – Outdoor viewing of the film (92 minutes)..."

08.03.2010: EuroDance?

I keep getting these e-mails. Does anyone know? Is this a scam?
"...International Physical Theatre Lab

August 16 - 22, 2010
Retzhof Castle - Leitring bei Leibnitz, Austria

Intensive practical training, lectures, discussions and the conference programme. Participants: actors of physical, dramatic, dance and musical theatres, dancers, choreographers, circus performers, directors.

The working language is English.

The nearest airport is Graz Thalerhof. The programme will take place at the historic 15th century castle. Accommodation and meals are organized for the group.

IMAGES of the past event.

To apply for participation, candidates should send a brief cover letter with CV/resume.
Programme, registration and contact details here or here...."

08.02.2010: Listen2Tweetz!...and Moor?

For the handful of you who still don't subscribe to my insightful, humorous, yet, some say not-snarky-enough tweets at @SirDanGuy, here's some audio you might have missed:
Local Tweeters: Interview with Jeff Chelesvig of Civic Center on Dance Series http://twithear.com/1aw

Local Tweeterz: Old Interview about Minnesota Solution to Arts Funding (LOVE Twithear!o) http://twithear.com/1ax

...and, as a bonus, some reports surfacing about the new Black Swan movie starring Natalie Portman from The Huffington Post and USA Today. I don't know...this could be another Dancers movie. Interesting, but, uncomfortable, to real dancers. For the general movie-goer, not as appealing.

...and, how about a chance to win a DVD of La Danse, a more straight-up documentary, from Pointe Magazine?


07.30.2010: Pizza Performance Tip

The US Pizza Team is coming to the Capital City this weekend. Here's a little taste of what they can do. (I'm up for upgrading their routine a little. Will choreograph for pizza!o)

07.30.2010: Corps Strength

Core strength is key to good dancing. So, thought I'd pass it on after I got this tip e-mailed to me recently from the guys at Menshealth.Com. Haven't tried it out, but looks simple enough. Eight seconds? Count me in!:
Tight Core Rotation ExerciseThe World's Newest Abs Exercise!
Use this move to sculpt your core--no equipment necessary


07.30.20101: Actor/Singer Search

For all you Drama Queens+Kings!o):
"...Tallgrass Theatre Company Audition Notice

Three Changes by Nicky Silver
Directed by Maranda Turner

The surprise arrival of a long-lost relative threatens to disrupt the seemingly happy life of the couple at the center of this dark comedy. As the play builds to its climax, the characters become locked in a battle that will cost one of them their life.

Auditions
August 9 and 10
7:00 p.m.
Arrive early to complete information sheet. Prepared monologues not required.

Cast Requirements

  • Two men (25+)
  • One man (18-25)
  • One woman (25+)
  • One woman (18-25)
Location
Rex Mathes Auditorium 1401 Vine Street

Performances to be held October 1–16
More information at www.tallgrasstheatre.org...."


Here's a chance to join in the "voices of angels:
"...The Youth Chorus is conducting a local talent search for youth ages 8-18 who are interested in becoming a part of our award-winning choirs in the fall. We are scheduling auditions now and throughout August and September by appointment. Those auditioning are asked to come prepared to sing a short, unaccompanied song of their choosing. Following the audition, singers may be placed in one of four levels of choirs based on age, experience and ability: Children’s Chorus, Concert Choir, Chorale or Youth Chorale.

The Chorus is also accepting new 6 and 7-year-old singers in our non-auditioned Primary Choir.

The Youth Chorus is embarking on its 29th season of providing quality musical experiences to children throughout the Capital City area. Their choirs have established an international reputation by touring throughout North America, Europe and Latin America..."

07.29.2010: Help Wanted!

Here's an opportunity for an aspiring or current professional dancer:
"...Ballet Quad Cities is looking for one paid female dancer for a 29 week contract beginning September 7th, 2010. The diverse repertoire of Ballet Quad Cities requires dancers to be classically trained as well as comfortable in all contemporary styles of dance...
...and a CCDC dancer has an insight into that opportunity. Contact us and we'll hook you up.
...And, wanna be a Buckeye? Here's a posting from The Ohio State University:
"...We seek a dance professional who is actively engaged in a combination of creative activity and theoretical inquiry with an emphasis on video/film and dance (including but not limited to dance documentaries, experimental dance for camera, and/or dance documentation and archiving). We welcome a person who is currently connected to the forefront of video art as it relates to bodily expression and choreographic composition and has established relationships with the professional field nationally and internationally. We value an artist/teacher with an interdisciplinary perspective who is excited by the investigation of the full range of possibilities for video as a creative and practical element of a dance education and career. We strongly encourage applicants who will diversify our curriculum and our faculty with regard to race, gender, and ethnicity.

Our new faculty colleague will contribute:

In Research: creating, directing or re-imagining dances for the camera, intermedia performances, or hybrid creative research projects for the web or DVD, and/or ethnographic and documentary filmmaking as related to dance and choreography.

In Teaching: investigating video as a creative, scholarly, and practical medium in dance, sharing the fundamentals of choreographic craft for the screen, instructing students in skills necessary for the documentation of stage performances for professional development and historical concerns, and contributing in other additional curricular areas as appropriate (such as production, dance composition, notation, history, theory, or technique). Demonstrated expertise in the use of digital video equipment for shooting (lighting, camera operation, sound) and a range of post-production software is desired.

In Service: leadership in undergraduate and graduate programs, curriculum development, advising, and governance within the department, college, university, and the field at large.

Position: Assistant Professor, full-time, tenure track
Qualifications: Advanced degree preferred, professional experience required
Application deadline: September 20, 2010
Date of Hire: Autumn Quarter 2011..."

07.28.2010: Putting "Meh!" In Media!

Is it just me? Or is it hard to muster any enthusiasm for the remaining dancers on SYTYCD? My fear is that geeky guy from Wapokaneta will be declared the winner because of the massive pre-pubescent voting bloc! But, when I think about who I'd want to win, I still think back to The Ballet Boy and shrug my shoulders. Really missing Alex lately! And, what's going on with this spate of injuries? Are the dancers being worked too hard? Are the floors they perform and---more importantly---rehearse on, not suspended? The best studios have a triple-basket weave subflooring that lifts the dance surface away from any concrete (Like we had installed in the big CCDC studio) and my guess is, since former dancers produce the show, that's not the problem. But, if they're starting rehearsal at 8am, they need to make sure they're getting properly warmed up and placed before dancing. I'm sure they're following union guidelines for mandatory breaks for dancers (five minutes every hour), but, sometimes dancers and choreographers get on a roll and play fast and loose with the rest requirements ("Can we keep working and I'll give you a longer break later?") Or, it could just be bad luck. Just remember, dancers, proper nutrition, hydration, rest and sufficient sleep are essential parts of dancing well. Now, I know there's been some criticism of last week's lack of a decision. And, I also think that Bell should've been sent packing. A precedent has been set and I think voters may lash back at the judges' dispensation this week. But, because I'm lukewarm on the remaining contestants, I just brushed it off as a weak attempt by producers to keep the show "fresh" and "unexpected". But, I WILL keep watching because of choreography like Sonya's "dancing on the edge" piece for Josallison and Napitabz choreography for Comforchike. But, the same two contestants (Josechike) really disappointed in weak choreography for the Paso Doble from Dmitriy Chaplin. (Why waste 30-seconds on lackadaisical twirling capes?) And, the steppin' piece for Twent really failed to live up to its promise. I hate to feel this way about ground-breaking MustCDanceTV, but, I find myself twiddling my dancing thumbs and biding my time for the next DWT*** and waiting longingly for ABDC!

07.27.2010: She Livez!

She lives! We got a actual real snail-mail letter from Mmmadd Skyllz from the SFB Summer Intensive recently! It's posted in the lobby if you haven't read it yet. And, here's a fun form letter we like to send back to CCDC dancers off at summer workshops. (If you're a parent writing to your child, you can adapt this letter by substituting "parent/mother/father" wherever it says "ballet teacher"!o):
"..Dear ___(insert dancer's name here)_____,

Hi, remember me? I remember you! I used to be your ballet teacher once upon a time. Yes, it just seems like a few weeks ago, but, things have been hazy and crazy ever since you left.

Things have changed a little, gone down-hill, with you gone and all. All the other students lost their drive and inspiration without you around and signed up to be cheerleaders and swing-choir dancers!

My gambling habit has gotten the best of me. Darn Prairie Meadows' self-exclusion policy doesn't work as long as you don't win anything! We've been forced to sell off the ballet studio and another property to try and settle my massive gaming debts! But, don't worry your pretty little head about it, things are actually looking up! I've got a regular spot pan-handling at the corner of Merle Hay and I-80/35 and drivers can even be generous at times! And, my dance training comes in handy whenever the angry ones try to hit me as I dart in and out of traffic! The summer weather is scorching and humid, but, the wind really helps. Who needs a house when you've got so many bridges and overpasses in the metro? Who needs a shower and a shave everyday when swimming in Gray's Lake is free for the taking?

Your life in the big city sounds grand! How you gonna keep 'em on the farm once you've seen the lights of the big city, huh? It's only a matter of time before they offer you a full-time position in the school, an apprenticeship and, eventually, a position with the company! I'm so proud of you I could cry! Don't worry about the all the little people like me you left behind! Our hearts may be broken, but, knowing you're happy makes us all feel a little bit better! Don't think about coming back because you might not recognize the bitter, broken balletomane I've become! Just be happy! Dance well! You make us proud!

Think about me once in a while! If we ever meet again, I won't embarass you by calling out your name in the crowd! Just ignore me as one of your many fans and go on living your amazing jet-set lifestyle! I'm better for just having known you before you hit it big! Say "Hi" to Clooney and Orlando for me! They don't know me from Adrian, but, boy howdy, I sure know who they are! I live my life vicariously through you! Stay amazing! I'll be the guy cheering you on from the cheap seats!

Miss ya!
Your biggest fan,
Ol' Whatwuzhisname?..."

07.26.2010: "4foPho, Plz!"

Here's a little story from the CCDC Summer Intensive that allows me to chuckle at one of my favorite phrases again and leads into a performance announcement of one of our favorite CCDC Modern/Contemporary/Pilates/Jazz/Adult Ballet Instructors: First, the phrase: Took the CCDC Summer Intensive Guest Instructors out "for Pho", the Vietnamese or Thai Soup. (There were four of us. Unfortunately, I neglected to tell the hostess at A Dong: "Foah fo' pho, please!" ...Sorry! You know me and wordplay! See post about La Sylphide...and Moor!o) But, here's the real backstory: ended up taking a little walking tour of the new Pappajohn Sculpture Garden west of downtown. It's free, but, well worthy of admission. As we passed Nomade, we ran across a few contemporary dancers rehearsing in the grassy area. We stopped to talk with them for a few minutes. Found out they were going to be performing that weekend at The Social Club. They told us they performed a hybrid of belly-dance and modern-dance. Sounded interesting and Robert said he'd actually think about checking it out. I'm sure they just thought we were casual by-standers. But, I wondered what those dancers' reactions would have been if I introduced the current Artistic Director of the Minnesota Ballet and a former Joffrey Ballet dancer along with former Ballet Iowa and Des Moines Ballet dancers and a former ballet instructor for Southern Methodist University? I guess we'll never know. But, I think the Pappajohn Sculpture Garden and Social Club are acting as catalysts for artists and performers around the Capital City. And, that leads to this press release (and see if you can spot that reference to one of our favorite CCDC instructors):
"...Professional modern dance company, Hurley & Dancers, will team up with the woodwind trio, Opus 3 for an afternoon of three free live dance and music performances entitled Art!Music!Dance! at the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park on Saturday, August 14. Performances will be held at 12:30 p.m., 2:00 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.

The audience should plan to meet for each of the performances on the Locust Street side of the sculpture park near the Keith Haring sculpture, Untitled (Three Dancing Figures, version C). The performances will then move to Marriage by artist Tony Smith, Café Table I and Chairs by Scott Burton, and Nomade by Jaume Plensa.

To the performers, these sculptures represent a progression of the creative focus of the human spirit. Opus 3 has selected music to depict this progression and Hurley & Dancers will improvise site-specific modern dance in response to the artistic elements of visual art and music. The members of Opus 3 are: Karla Killinger, Julie Murphy and Marie Eikenberry. Dancers are: Brigham Hoegh, Kathleen Hurley, Lisa Lewis, Lindsay Schwab and

*** Alissa Hamer ***!!!

The rain date for the event is Sunday, August 15 at 12:30 p.m., 2:00 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.

Kathleen Hurley is an adjunct instructor of Dance at Grinnell College and the Artistic Director of Hurley & Dancers. She has recently been working on site-specific dance in response to architecture and decided to transfer the concepts to dance in response to visual art in downtown. Hurley danced professionally in New York City and Europe before moving back to the Capital City to start her own modern dance company.

The members of Opus 3 are professional musicians from the Metro..."

07.23.2010: CelebARTion!

Check it out! Price is right for starving dancers+family!
"...This year’s Art Inside Out will be held from 12 – 4 pm on Sunday, July 25. This FREE public event will showcase the Art Center’s collection and architecture, inside and out. We will celebrate the first year of the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park and the 25th year of the Richard Meier building. Free shuttle service between The Academy in Greenwood Park, Art Center and Pappajohn Sculpture Park will be provided from 12 – 4:15 pm, and the event will take place rain or shine. (Take the shuttle between the Art Center and the sculpture park to enjoy art at both locations.)

Afternoon entertainment includes world music featuring the sounds of Latin America & the Caribbean by Calle Sur, “highly-caffeinated” klezmer music by Java Jews, the toe-tapping blues of Smilin’ Otis and the African beats of Brownian Motion. Music by Zauberflote flute quartet will also be featured. Throughout the afternoon, food and beverages will be available from local vendors.

Learn about the rich history of the Art Center’s world-class Richard Meier building on a tour led by architects from Substance Architecture. An interactive installation will highlight the unique design of the Meier building. Find out why the building is like a refrigerator door and how the Art Center has links to Atlanta and Los Angeles.

Make a sculpture using letters and numbers, create structures with LEGOS, design an architectural hat, or build a fairy house. Create a map and search for sculptures, both at the Art Center and at the sculpture park. Participate in a fun and engaging map activity and win a prize. Watch artists demonstrate watercolor, printmaking, and jewelry techniques. Members of the Saturday Sketch Club will be sketching throughout the afternoon. Jonathan May, comedy magician, will be on hand to entertain with his high energy magic show and create fanciful animal balloon sculptures. Play fun games on the lawn, converse with a live painted statue, and more. Art Inside Out will highlight everything the Art Center has to offer. Don’t miss this great opportunity to celebrate your Art Center!..."

07.22.2010: Hot Topic

There’s a trendy type of yoga that’s being taught across the country nowadays: I think it’s called Bikram Yoga. And, one of the main differences is that it takes place in heated studios. Adherents claim the extra heat (often over a hundred degrees!) helps loosen them up and gain extra flexibility. That’s a concept that tight dancers struggling with lack of extension and turn-out might want to investigate. And, just recently, a CCDC student got back from a Chicago workshop with a similar revelation. Kewtybug says she took classes in the Giordano studios and, while there was air conditioning in the halls and lobby, there was NO AC in the dance studios. And, anybody who’s been in the so-called Windy City in the summer knows how hot all that concrete and asphalt can get! (I had a similar experience in NYC. No AC at Steps!) Kewtybug says she asked about it and was told that Gus Giordano himself had requested that no AC ever be installed in the studios that bear his name! He claimed, and Kewty affirmed, that the heat and the humidity really loosened up the joints and protected the muscles. (This is why you’ll see some dancers wearing those plastic pants.) Kewtybug’s coming into every class at CCDC now asking if we can turn off the AC! So far I haven’t. (Students voted against it!o). But, word of warning! It’s only a matter of time before I do shut off the AC at CCDC! I trained in many studios that had no air-conditioning and the heat+humidity does help! There are many benefits and your body eventually learns to adjust to dancing in higher temperatures. Just be prepared to perspire! Bring some water and a small towel to sop up excess sweat. Remember! Perspiration is the dancer’s lubrication! Just don’t forget your hydration! (Don't be rasher, Shiney One! Fair warning! This 1z4u!o)

07.21.2010: Putting The 'Me' In 'Media'

Sure, you may be missing @AlexDWong from SYTYCD, but, not watching the show because of his absence would be a HUGE mistake. All the remaining dancers may not be as compellingly watchable as the The Ballet Boy all by himself, but, the choreographers are stepping up to the plate and taking full advantage of the SYTYCD All Stars as well. Travis Wall's tribute to his ailing mother set on All-Star Allison and Robert was an emotional tour de force. It reduced judge Mamma Mia to tears. Better make room on that mantle for more Emmy hardware, Trav! Less emotional, but, no less watchable was the pairing of choreographers Napitabz and All Star Dominic and Jose' in a b-boy tribute to the Sword in the Stone. I judge those b-boy dance-offs by their creativity and if I see tricks I'd never seen before. And, this was chock full o' Trix-r-4-Kidz! There was another piece that I had to rewind the DVR to watch again, but, the choreographer and dancers escapes me right now. The pointe is...no Alex doesn't mean SYTYCD is no longer must-watch-dance-tv. And, it seems that Ashley is facing a big decision according to the latest on the tweetosphere: she can go on tour with the current cast and all-stars...or she could come back next season in Vegas. Which would you do? I think the tour with her new friends would be the best choice. If she comes back next season---and Alex is back---she's not going to finish much higher than she did this past season. On the other hand, more national exposure is never bad for aspiring dancers. So, like I said, big decision. And, here's hoping the injury bug on the show is over. Who's going home this week? Kent, I think I hear Wapokaneta calling your name! And, Jose's weaknesses were EXPOSED in his broadway number last week! On the other hand, I agree with Shankman when he says the rest of the boys better be scared of Lauren. She SCHOOLED Billy in the Boogie Shoes number! And, Adechike and Robert are starting to grow on me more. But, I'm watching now for the all-star choreographers and the all-star dancers! Hard to watch anyone else when Allison's on stage!

07.20.2010: Tweet, Tweet, My Dancing Feat!

Passing on a tweet from @DizzyFeet of the DizzyFeet Foundation and SYTYCD:
"...Text, Tweet or write your Congressman or woman and ask them to support Eleanor Holmes Norton's initiative to establish a National Dance Day..."
...And, speaking of National Dance Day, here's a link to the video from NapiTabz teaching a flash mob routine for that day. And, here's a tweet from @Pointe_Magazine:
"...We've posted new ballet auditions on our site!..."
...Aspiring professionals might wanna bookmark that page! And, this one. And, finally! A tweet from @Dance_Teacher:
"...Visit http://www.dance-teacher.com to enter to win 2 DVDs. Make sure to subscribe to our free bi-weekly enews for more gifts, info and news!..."
...Me LIKE Free! (But, just be aware entering these things could generate a lot more spam!)

07.20.2010: Jots+Jetsam From Jill

Still not convinced of the value of cross-training for dancers? Still haven't taken the CCDC Pilates Class yet? CCDC Young Children's Division Director and certified Pilates trainer Jill Andrews sends this link to inform and educate.

Here's an excerpt:

Karen Kain, the artistic director of the National Ballet of Canada, recommends Pilates for ballet dancers...
“...'I encourage dancers to explore how Pilates can help them physically and mentally for their career. Pilates is an ideal form of complete body conditioning as the focus is on strengthening the deep support muscles and balancing all muscle groups around the joints of the entire body.'

For dancers, Pilates is beneficial for turnout and increases strength and power. “By re-balancing muscular groups,” explains STOTT PILATES® co-founder Moira Merrithew, 'dancers increase range of movement and flexibility while also increasing strength and control throughout this greater range of movement.'..."

07.19.2010: It's A Hard Luck Life

The trials and travails of a ballerina-wanna-be in the Big Apple:
"...That’s when you make the choice: Are you willing to give up everything you have for this? she said. “There was no question for me..."
...and...
“...Everybody dreams of being in A.B.T. or of being in a company of that caliber,” she had said one late fall afternoon in her apartment. “But the reality is I don’t have the ballet feet and the ballet legs, and my whole life I’ve struggled with that. I had a lot of friends who quit because of that very reason. If they’re not going to be the best of the best, then they will have no part of it. (But,) Being onstage, it’s so much a part of me that I can’t imagine, ever — even if it’s little nothing bits, I have to perform...”
...A glimpse inside the struggle of actually one of the luckier free-lancer dancers from the New York Times. And, be sure to click on the interactive portion as well. And, here's one of Taylor Gordon's blog. Hasn't been updated recently. And, here's another. And, of course, she's on Twitter.

...And, I can relate: For me, this was no article at one time, it was my dancing life. Only substitute the Windy City and there was no Rockette gig for me. Just waiting tables at the Kampai Sushi Bar just across from the massive Merchandise Mart and biding my time training and auditioning, waiting for my big ballet break. Would it ever come? Or, would I be forced to prostitute my art or return to my hometown with my tail between my legs?

07.16.2010: Brain Gain

I was checking out a magazine article on the web about keeping your brain sharp and ran across this tip:
"...Dance, Dance, Dance! Few activities stimulate as wide a variety of brain systems as dancing does. Dancing requires everything from coordination and organization to planning and judgment..."
...No wonder our dancers are so sharp!o) No link provided because of the esoteric nature of some of the topics or recommendations. But, here's a video on the benefits and some new "twists" to old stretches (You should be able to adapt it to your traditional ballet barre stretches)(...and, just what's going on in the background of the stretch instruction?):

07.15.2010: No Wong Is All WRONG!

Are you like me and missing Alex Wong from SYTYCD already? There are a couple of remedies on the web for that: Here's an interview on Good Day LA. Check out where Alex posts his blog updates. And, here's where you can catch up an archive of his postings. And, you can also subscribe to his Twitter account and friend him on Facebook.

07.15.2010: National Dance Day

EVERY day should be 'International Dance Day' for everyone. But, sadly, for some, it's not. So, if you haven't heard yet, here's information about National Dance Day plans:
"...CELEBRATE NATIONAL DANCE DAY WITH "SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE" SAT JULY 31

As part of his commitment to support dance education and physical fitness in the United States, Nigel Lythgoe, Judge/Executive Producer of SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE, is launching NATIONAL DANCE DAY Saturday, July 31! It will include a variety of dance-themed activities across the country that will empower, challenge and inspire people of all ages to try various styles of dance ranging from hip-hop to ballroom to anything that moves. Above all, it encourages everyone to DANCE as a means to stay fit and be healthy. And did you know, SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE celebrates its 150th episode Wednesday, July 21 at 8/7c? Even more reason to celebrate and dance!

Get inspired by tuning in to SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE Wednesdays at 8/7c and Thursdays at 9/8c and by re-watching your favorite Season 7 routines at fox.com/dance because for the first time in SYTYCD history full episodes are available online.

Find out more information on NATIONAL DANCE DAY

Watch full "Superfan" episodes..."

07.14.2010: Hamer Hitz Homerz!

Latest update on the fast, jet set-paced performance lifestyle of CCDC Pilates/Modern/Contemporary/Jazz/Adult Ballet Instructor Alyssa H!:
"...Summer of the Arts Downtown Saturday Night Series
Pedestrian Mall, Iowa City
(July 17, 2010) 6:30-9:30 p.m.
Hurley & Dancers: 6:30-7 p.m.
Poetic Rebound: 7-9:30 p.m.
No admission

Hurley & Dancers collaborates with Poetic Rebound for an informal performance of diverse dancing. Arrive early and set up lawn chairs, as seating is limited on the pedestrian mall. This event is presented by the Downtown Association. For more information, email poetic.rebound@gmail.com..."

07.13.2010: Tracking SYTYCD

So, I tweeted last week that the competition for America's "favorite dancer" title is wide-open now because Alex stood "head and shoulders" above the rest of the field. Darn the injury that sent him home! And, interesting that my actual pick to get sent packing last week was ignored by the mostly non-dancing-but-voting public. Surely a sign of the coming apocalypse that Kent was safe, but, Billy and Ashley were not! So, who do I think should attain the mantle of "the anointed" and "soon-to-be-disappointed"? That's hard to discern at this pointe, but, Adechikye has climbed out of my bottom three with his recent performances. Jose' is technically weak but, charismatically strong! He reminds me a little of an earlier winner, Russell, so don't count him out. The remaining girls are strong, but, aren't doing enough to seperate themselves from the pack. I think the younger boys should start to go based on a lack of depth, maturity and gravitas. Those are Kent, Billy and Bobby, in that order.
...and, here's a transcript of a recent e-mail conversation about SYTYCD that took place before Alex was let go last week:
"...OMG I barely ever get to see even a minute of the show but turned in at the end of last week’s program in time to catch the Ballet dancer (Alex?) do a hip hop routine with Twitch that was...awesome. That was so fun. You must have loved it. Watching someone able to switch gears like that is the whole reason for that show..."

...So, I sent them to last week's blog posting and got this back in return:

"...Who danced that the piece you referenced by the new choreographer? Maybe I can find it online and see what you’re raving about..."

...saved them the trouble with this:

"...Here it is: choreographed by Dee Caspary and danced by Ade and Ashley. It's the second dance on the '9 dancers perform' episode available here. Tell me what you think. Did I overhype it?..."

"...So glad you pointed it out because I have to say that dance is hard for the novice like me to see the difficulty of it. It looks easy and so it seems like...Ade does all the work which is probably not true. Without leaps and things we don’t know it’s hard to do. But it was very beautiful..."

...and, that was followed by...

"...Just watched the show and you’re right Kent has to either grow up or go home. That choreography for the routine with Allison was really sexy and fun and yet he had not an ounce of heat. I mean Allison could have sizzle with a coat rack and Kent blew it. Bummer..."

...But, more importantly, what do you think? Jete' into the conversation here.


07.12.2010: Da Mo' U 'No

More studies on calories, cranberries and la comida caliente'. Just got these in the email inbox from someone who sells the stuff...but, the research looks legitimate:
"...Capsaicin, the compound that gives red chili pepper its heat, may exert its benefits at the protein level to boost fat burning and energy production, says new research.

Obese rats supplemented with capsaicin had eight percent less body weight than control animals, and displayed changes in the levels of 20 proteins associated with obesity, according to findings published in the Journal of Proteome Research.

“These changes provide valuable new molecular insights into the mechanism of the anti-obesity effects of capsaicin,” report researchers. “Thus, we believe that the findings presented here open new insights into the study and potential treatments for this pathology.”

Capsaicin is reported to boost heat generation by the body, which means people burn more energy. A laboratory study found that capsaicin may inhibit the growth of fat cells (Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry Vol. 55 pp. 1730-1736, 2007), while a human study with capsaicin, in combination with green tea extracts (Clinical Nutrition doi: 10.1016/j.cinu.2009.01.010), found an alternative mode of action with promotion of the feeling of fullness and sustained satiety.

The new data suggests that the compound may exert its benefits by triggering certain beneficial protein changes in the body..."


"...The effectiveness of cranberry proanthocyanidins (PACs) is dependent on the dose, with higher doses significantly more successful in maintaining urinary health, according to a new study.

Indeed, a lower dose of 18 mg of cranberry PACs was less effective, according to the results of a randomized, double-blind-versus-placebo study based in Japan, Hungary, Spain and France.

On the other hand, a higher dose of 72 mg was even more efficient at protecting against bacterial adhesion in the urinary tract, according to findings published in the open-access journal BMC Infectious Diseases.

PACS are not exclusive to cranberries, but can be found in a range of foods, including green tea, grapes, apples and chocolate. However, the main type of PACs in cranberry—called A-type PACs—are different from those in other sources, called B-type PACS. Only cranberry PACS may prevent bacterial adhesion..."


07.09.2010: Pointes of Interestes

Here are some interesting websites tweeted to me recently:

  • Ballet News Blog, be sure to page down for a number of dancer interviews, including one with Madison Keesler of San Francisco Ballet. (Our interview with her is in last year's archives.)

  • And, speaking of Ms Madd Keyz, here are some photoz she tweeted recently. And, here's a great way to stay up to date with her employer, my favorite ballet company in my favorite city in the world (Sorry, Honolulu)! (Be sure to click on the video featuring excerpts from my favorite ballet!o)

  • Dance Teacher article on everything you've never wanted to need to know about stress fractures, including recovery and prevention. Did you know that once you've had one, you're at a higher risk for another?

  • Fascinating glimpse about what it takes to get promoted at the Paris Opera Ballet from the New York Times.

  • Another Dance Teacher article, but, this time about how some colleges are preparing dance majors for earning a living after graduation.

  • Here's an old article I may have posted before on a perennial topic: How to get more boys in ballet from the San Diego Union-Tribune.

  • And, finally for now, here's where to find Pointe Magazine videos on a number of dance-topics. But, anyone who's going to be auditioning anytime soon, should be sure to click this one on audition advice. And, from Dance Magazine, click on a hilarious send-up of a music video from dancers of the NYCB.

07.09.2010: Get Ur Ship4Free

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...Not sure if you could combine it with this offer just spotted in Dance Magazine:
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Offer ends July 31, 2010

Best Prices. Best Selection. Best Customer Service. 1 800 328 7107

www.DiscountDance.com..."

07.07.2010: Putting 'Me' In 'Media' Again

I wrote it last week, I'll write it again: It's time for the boys to start going home on SYTYCD. Now, I may incur some wrath here, but, Kent, Billy and Robert have the same weakness that got Alexis dismissed the first week. They're all fabulous dancers, but, are relying on "cuteness" WAY too much. Now, that may get a lot of votes from the pre-pubescent viewing public, but, it's just annoying to at least one grumpy old ex-dancer. I appreciate and teach technique, but, value increasingly what's been loosely called "artistry" on the show. It takes some maturity+wisdom to inhabit a role and create a character through movement. It's difficult for tricksters and young dancers who don't really know who they are yet to become someone else. I recognize that and that's why it's so valuable and must be nurtured. Having said that, The Ballet Boy managed to transcend his genre and become the B-Boy last week! If Alex is that good and that versatile and was only ranked a soloist at his old ballet company (Miami City Ballet), then, I REALLY want to see some of the principals in that group! Was it just a lack of maturity and expression that kept him from being promoted in south Florida? If so, his "leap of faith" to test and challenge himself in this competition is paying off big time! (And, here's an article about Alex that was just tweeted to me!o) But, the other high pointe for me last week was that new choreographer. (Okay, complaints already about the lack of a link...so here it is: choreographed by Dee Caspary and danced by Ade and Ashley. It's the second dance on the 9 dancers perform episode available here.) His piece just flowed and moved into tough partnering that didn't call attention to itself. Creative, innovative, beautiful movement. I felt awed, inspired and challenged just watching it! THAT'S the piece that should get the Emmy, Nigel! Here's hoping for more of the same tonight! AND...time for the younger, geekier boyz to start going home! (I'm talking about you, Kent from Wapokaneta!)

07.07.2010: Audition Action

Got the acting bug? Scratch that itch on a local stage...
"...Auditions for the The Drowsy Chaperone will be held at The Playhouse at 6:00 P.M. on Sunday, July 11. [Note: In the prior release, the date was in error. This is the correct date.] All auditions are open to the public; no one is pre-cast. Those auditioning must bring a prepared solo; an accompanist will be provided.

The Drowsy Chaperone has feature roles for 6 men, ages 16 and up; 5 women, ages 16 and up; and 1 African-American woman, age 20-50; plus an ensemble of men and women. The Drowsy Chaperone is directed by John Viars, with choreography by Alison Shafer and music direction by Ben Bentler. Performances are Sept. 10 - Oct. 3.

The Drowsy Chaperone is a Jazz-Age, farcical romp through musical theatre. It all begins when a die-hard musical-theater fan, known as Man in Chair, plays his favorite cast album on his turntable, and the musical literally bursts to life in his living room, telling the rambunctious tale of a brazen Broadway starlet, Janet Van de Graaf, trying to find, and keep, her true love.

The show, billed as a musical within a comedy, features an eclectic cast of characters, including the dashing bridegroom, oil tycoon Robert Martin; Mrs. Tottendale, a wealthy dowager, and her butler, Underling; Latin lothario Aldolpho; Feldzieg, a Big Broadway Producer; Trix, the brash aviatrix; and a pair of gangsters posing as pastry chefs. The Drowsy Chaperone won several 2006 Tony Awards and won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical.

The Drowsy Chaperone is sponsored by Principal Financial Group.

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

07.06.2010: Kind Wordz

We get answers from CCDC 2010 Summer Intensive Guest Ballet Master Robert Gardner, Artistic Director Minnesota Ballet:

  1. "I found the students to be respectful and maybe a bit reserved, but as soon as we started the first class ( both groups) they were attentive and eager. This was true throughout my two weeks there, and so it was a pleasure to teach them, and feel like they were really “into” dance and wanted to be the best that they could be.

  2. I think the students strengths, although each one is an individual, would be their willingness to apply corrections and suggestions to improve technique, even if I might have explained things differently than they were use to. They did not resist trying a new way of doing things or looking at technique.

    I feel that generally, most of the students, could be more aggressive in their approach to dancing. By this, I mean don’t be afraid to make a mistake, to go for the step and use up space. Move with confidence. Sometimes, some of the younger students needed to maintain their focus for the entire class, but this was not too much of problem most of the time.

    The students at CCDC have talent, some more polished than others, and this is the case for many of the national schools, other than the larger, well known academies such as SAB, San Francisco Ballet School, Houston Ballet Academy, and PNB. Of course they have a very stringent audition policy, that I believe excludes some very good dancers.

  3. The dancers were great in choreography. I have to say, I was so impressed with their ability to pick up steps and remember them. They always tried things, maybe tentatively at first, but when comfortable they really got it! As I told them, and again this is more for the Level 3 to 4’s, they need to not only focus on the choreography, but the technique that they have learned needs to be applied to the new steps as they are leaning the dance.

  4. Advice for those wanting to be professional would be to not limit yourself to only the study of classical ballet. That should be your primary source of building technique, but being a professional in the 21st century means being versatile and able to do many differnt styles of dance with equal ease and confidence. That will make you a much more valuable dancer to any company, whatever the main focus of its repertoire is. I was actually never given this advice, but was always eager to learn, and took all the workshops and master classes I could, and it proved invaluable to me in my career.

  5. Auditions – don’t be nervous, ha! Easier said than done. But you need to get your head into a place where you can show what you can do. Yes, you want to show good clean technique, but a director wants to see how you move, how daring you are to try things. Making mistakes, or flubbing a pirouette doesn’t lose you a job – not trying does.

I just want to say I had a blast teaching this summer. The students inspired me both as a teacher and choreographer, and it has been the highlight of my summer to have had the privilege to teach at CCDC. You have a wonderful studio where you have really great teachers who really care about you as students and as people. Listen to them, and go for your dreams. Dance is a great way to prepare for any path you take in life, so keep on dancing.

And I loved being a judge for the HUSTLE CONTEST!

Sincerely,

Robert Gardner
Artistic Director, Minnesota Ballet
..."

07.05.2010: Ballet Cycles

I always used to tell my dance students, "Everything's easier after ballet." Meaning any other dance form or sport or martial art or performance is easier to do after all the mental and physical discipline involved in classical dance training. But, once after I said this, a student piped up and asked "What about juggling flaming chainsaws? Isn't that harder than ballet?" I thought about it for a bit and was forced to admit she had a pointe. So, now, when I say "everything's easier after ballet", I usually wait a moment and then add "...except for juggling flaming chainsaws." That usually gets a laugh and makes my pointe. But, I may have to add on another exception now after receiving a tip about this video on "Artistic Cycling"...

...I've done gymnastics, acrobatics, partnering and bicycling, just never all at the same time! AND, I've got a bicycle with your name on it (If your name is Schwinn!o), if you don't think that stuff is difficult! I'm willing to loan my bike to watch you on! Which leads us to my newly amended advice: "Everything's easier after ballet...AND artistic bicycling...while juggling flaming chainsaws!"
...and, since we're on the topic of ballet and bicycles here's one last video on the subject:

...I think we could do better. I have a few ideas! Any volunteers? Anyone? Anyone? Beuller?

07.02.2010: Hamerz Hit Homerz

Capital City Dance Center Modern/Contemporary/Jazz/Ballet/Pilates Instructor Alyssa H sends in this contribution:
"...I talked my mom into taking her first ballet class ever last night. I thought it would be entertaining and fun to put up her first impressions of a ballet class on the website. Here is what she had to say:
My first ballet class was very challenging. Posture, posture, posture!!! I didn't realize how difficult it was and how much concentration it takes. The next day I found myself trying to stand taller and keep my seat under. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was much harder than what I had expected. I'd do it again given the opportunity.
:) (A special note from me: thanks to all my students who made me look good in front of my mom. Rockstars!) ;)

A..."

07.01.2010: Media Mentions

Haven't had a chance to watch my DVR of SYTYCD yet. But, I got tweeted like crazy about a stellar performance by The Ballet Boy last night. And! In a style that he had no right to do well in! If Alex can KILL in all these foreign-to-him dance forms, he'll do REAL well in this competition. AND, may become the first, best technical dancer to win the title of "favorite". Last week's discard, Cristina had a very endearing quality, but, it always seems awkward to me for a samba or ballroom dancer to dance solo. She did real well in the two pieces she competed in. I, for one, am tiring of the young, geeky boys: Billy, Robert and that guy from Wapokaneta. They all dance well, but, their "aw-shucks act" is wearing awfully thin, awfully fast for me. Really makes me miss that male ballroom dancer last season who was a MAN, baby! And, I think it's well past time for a guy to go home tonight. Gotta run!

07.01.2010: Rapid Response

Sure beats snail-mail!
"...I will send my answers to Emery’s questions, soon. Busy here with our summer intensive, while choreographing for The Pirates of Penzance in the evenings.

I had such a good experience with your wonderful students. You and Emery are doing such an admirable job at training good young dancers.

All my best,
Robert..."

06.30.2010: Enquiring Myndz Wanna Know!

Just sent these questions to the 2010 Capital City Dance Center Guest Faculty. I'll post the answers as soon as I get them:
  1. What was your first impression of the CCDC dancers? What will be your lasting impression?

  2. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the CCDC students' technique in general? Specifically? Are CCDC students competitive with their age group on a national level? If not, what do they need to work on to get there?

  3. How did the dancers react to your instructions in class? How did they react to your choreography? How should they have reacted? How important is it for dancers to get out of their comfort zone?

  4. What advice would you give to CCDC dancers who want to dance professionally? What was the best advice anyone ever gave you about becoming or staying a professional?

  5. What makes a dancer get noticed during auditions? What do you know now about auditioning that you wished you knew when you were auditioning? What are common mistakes to avoid during the audition process?
Optional-Any final thoughts or comments about the 2010 Capital City Dance Center Summer Intensive?

06.29.2010: More Moor Reviews Are In In!o)

Reaction to the 2010 CCDC Summer Intensive still trickling in:
"...She was beyond thrilled. What a fantastic two weeks for her! Thank you again!!!..."
...and, speaking of "trickling" and "late", here's another review of La Sylphide...and Moor!o)...from CCDC Alum Prince FlorimunDima:
"...Just wanted to take a moment to express my gratitude for the outstanding recital.

Although it's been about a month since the recital took place, however, I clearly remember the enthusiasm to this day of all the dancers, the colorful costumes that certainly impressed me. Honestly, I didn't expect to see the costumes of such high caliber! The dancing itself was superb from any age group, especially from the professional dancer, Sean L. He has certainly improved since last year. Catherine W. and Kaitlin K. didn't leave me disappointed as well, just to name a few dancers. The acting was also up to the high standard on top of the beautiful execution of the dance choreography. At times I even caught my feet dancing during the performance and as I looked around, I saw other people were also dancing in the house which I thought was very impressive. That means the energy was present. Whenever the audience is engaged, that means people feel the energy from the dancers, and I think the dancers also feel the energy when the audience is there to support them. Did I mention Sean L. did a great job? No wonder he is a professional dancer! He owned the choreography. Overall, the recital left a great impression on me and I hope on others as well. It would've been nice to invite my friends as well to share the performance and the high level of dancing since we haven't gone to see a professional performance in a while. This performance would certainly be the one to see.

Thank you!

Dima..."

06.29.2010: Writers Wanted

Word! ...smiths wanted
"... 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 throughout the state are encouraged to submit one-act or full-length plays to Tallgrass Theatre Company via electronic or hard copy.
Deadline for Submissions
September 1

Script to be Announced
October 4

Workshop to begin week of October 24.

More information available here..."

06.28.2010: Gone, But, Not 4Gotten

Comments overheard during the CCDC 2010 Summer Intensive:
(Courtesy 2K2M!o)
"You have to remember, 99 percent of the time, balance is a controlled fall."

"When working your turnout, you have to know the difference between faking it for looks and technique."

"Don't waste a single moment during a combination, don't let any movement be passive."

"Be daring during class. Dare yourself to step out to your arabesque!"

"Go to the correct position right away, don't wait until you get there to correct!"

"Ballet is a lot like riding a horse. You have to know when to pull on the reigns more, and when to pull less. Using different levels of energy in your dancing makes things interesting."

06.28.2010: Click Campaign

Here's an e-plea from a CCDC family:
"...Voting for fan favorite for the DsM Dance Off has begun. People can now vote here. They can click on the survey link and, if they are so inclined, ;) vote for #329, Adrian Oldenburger. If he wins the fan favorite then he will have an extra $250 to go toward his pursuits. This is also an opportunity to show how much we love ballet and CCDC. :)..."

06.26.2010: Performance Tip

Heading to the Arts Festival? Might wanna time your trip to catch this (if you're not in class, that is!o)
"...Poetic Rebound Performance Company will perform excerpts of their 2010 repertoire at this years Arts Festival at Western Gateway Park. The company will dance on the performing arts stage at 2 p.m. on Sunday the 27th. More information on the festival can be found on-line. The performance will include new and re-staged works choreographed by both seasoned and budding choreographers. New to this season's repertoire is Conspiracies of the Body created by UI Associate Professor in Dance Charlotte Adams in collaboration with the dancers, a project funded in part by the Arts Council. Other works included are to set at stillness the underside of, an emotionally charged duet and audience favorite, and Leanne a solo choreographed and performed by guest artist Lisa Lewis. Performers are Morford, Lewis, Jessi Yokas, Amy Stange, Nicole Klein and Fawn Boston-Kemple.

Poetic Rebound is a non-profit, professional modern dance company based with an emphasis on community outreach and artistic collaboration. The company's mission is to blur the boundaries between audience and performer. The group performs in both traditional concert venues as well as non-traditional outdoor settings and informal locations. PRPC was founded in 2007 and continues to bring high-quality arts programming to communities. The company thrives on donations from supporters like you. Please consider making a tax-exempt donation to the company, a 501(c)3 organization - every dollar helps. Your charitable contribution will directly fund arts and dance education in our schools and communities, interactive workshops and performances, and cultural experiences..."

06.25.2010: Trending Hot Topic

She hasn't even collected her first paycheck as a full-time professional dancer yet and CCDC's Katya W00tang is already quite the internet darling! First, her bio is now listed at the Minnesota Ballet website. (Near the bottom! I told her it was a metaphor for the start of her dance career. And, what it doesn't show is the hundreds of girls beneath her who didn't make it into that professional company!o) Her picture apparently still to come. That was expected. But, our little Katerina is also featured in a picture for the Milwaukee Ballet Summer Intensive she participated in last summer. Click to that website here. (It's elusive! On one of the shifting menu screens near the top of the home page labeled "Summer Intensive Program". Never mind "Where's Waldo"! Where's Katerina!) AND! Her photo has finally officially joined the CCDC Wall o' Fame of our students who've gone on to professional careers. Check it out in the CCDC lobby. You can also find Katya on the cover of the new 2010-2011 CCDC Fall Brochure. Haven't got your copy yet? Email a request here...and if you ask nicely, we could try to get CCDC's latest professional dancer to autograph your copy!

06.23.2010: Jots+Jetsam From Jill

News of the new Civic Center Dance Series triggering some memories in CCDC Young Children's Division Director Jill Andrews:
"...When I was in the Univ. of Iowa Dance Company I got to learn and perform a Pilobolus piece taught by a company member. The piece was performed in sacks. It was the weirdest costume I ever wore, but it was a blast. Definitely modern dance......

One of your little dancers who is so busy that she hasn't kept in touch as well as you would have liked.......is going to Joffrey New York on a full scholarship (tuition, room, and board) July 9 - August 9. Sarah Z fyi

Jill

P.S. The wife of Avery G's first cousin once removed (Amanda Garcia) is offering all high school and college students special rates at Studio3 in Johnston (a fully-equipped Stott Pilates Studio). You just have to show your student id. www.studio3pilates.com And teachers are always eligible for 10% discounts. This would be a great way for CCDC dancers to try some weighted spring resistance on the reformer, cadillac, and stability chair. Barrells are very fun to use too. Lengthen and strengthen without building bulk. Stott Pilates large equipment exercises spend equal amounts of time contracting and lengthening muscles. Come give it a try. Mothers and daughters could take class together. Fathers and sons could do some really effective core exercises that will seriously help their golf and tennis game. It's worth checking out. Reformer jump classes are a really fun way to get your cardio work in and practice entrachat six lying on your back with your abs pulling in..."

06.23.2010: Keeping It Real(ity TV)!

Second week of the real competition airs tonight in SYTYCD and I'm still ambivalent about the new format. One of my favorites was the first eliminated last week: Alexie, the former Laker Girl. I liked her spunk, but, I could see where she might've relied on her "cuteness" too much. I disagreed with the judges who didn't see enough commitment when she danced for her life last week. I thought she was doing as much as she could...and that's considerable. In any other season, Lexi would've survived for at least five episodes, but, this year, there's only a top eleven. In any other year, I believe she would've been pushed and coached to do more and would've lasted longer into the top ten. That's one drawback to dispensing with the top twenty this season. But, one could also argue that no one except All-Star Allison could've kept up with Alex in their Sonya Tayeh piece. That's the duet that changed the opinion of CCDC Summer Intensive Guest Instructor Robert Gardner. As Artistic Director of the Minnesota Ballet, he took a dim view of Alex resigning from Edward Villella's Miami City Ballet at first. But, after watching last week's jaw-dropping performance, he said he now understood why Wong would want to put his ballet career on hold to participate in what is basically just a well-publicized dance competition. What a privilege to watch that piece! The stars came together last week: dancers challenged choreographer, choreographer pushed the dancers. All I can say is WOW! Give me MORE! So, Alex is at the top of my official "SYTYCD Anointed List". He seems to have taken the judges' comments to heart to try to transcend his conservative Asian upbringing to express himself more. So, who's at the bottom of the "Soon to be Disappointed" group? Melinda, Cristina and Adachike could be dancing for their lives tomorrow night.

06.22.2010: The Dance Series

New Dance Series premieres this season in the Capital City:
"...CIVIC CENTER ANNOUNCES “THE DANCE SERIES” WITH WORLD-RENOWNED DANCE COMPANIES: MARTHA GRAHAM DANCE COMPANY, PILOBOLUS AND JAMES SEWELL BALLET
Season Ticket packages for inaugural season of The Dance Series are just $100; on sale now

The Civic Center announced a brand new dance series for 2010-2011 featuring some of today’s most highly acclaimed dance companies. The Dance Series will bring three world-class dance companies to the Civic Center’s main stage at an introductory package price of just $100 for the three-show Season Ticket Package. Packages are on sale now.

Civic Center President & CEO Jeff Chelesvig said “Since our inception, the Civic Center has been committed to presenting the very best in the performing arts...we feel this is the right time to launch this series and to bring these brilliant and internationally-known companies to the community at an affordable price.”

THE DANCE SERIES PRESENTED BY THE CIVIC CENTER:

  • PILOBOLUS (Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2011 at 7:30 p.m.) Pilobolus began in 1971 and quickly became renowned the world over for its imaginative and athletic exploration of creative collaboration. Pilobolus practices a unique kind of modern dance with highly acrobatic, fearless dancers, theatrical costumes, a great sense of play and most of all, collaboration. Known internationally for presenting work of exceptional inventiveness and physical beauty, Pilobolus has been celebrated for its ability to conjure up a world of surrealistic images using props, light, shadow, humor, and the human body.

  • MARTHA GRAHAM DANCE COMPANY (Saturday, March 5, 2011 at 7:30 p.m.) Founded in 1926 by choreographer and dancer Martha Graham, this is the oldest and most celebrated contemporary dance company in America. Graham choreographed 181 works in her lifetime, and this Civic Center premiere will feature one of the most beloved and celebrated, Appalachian Spring. This iconic work, composed by Aaron Copland, demonstrates Graham’s pioneering approach to time and space on stage. The original, ground-breaking score will be performed live.

  • JAMES SEWELL BALLET (Thursday, April 28, 2011 at 7:30 p.m.) Founded by James Sewell and Sally Rouse, James Sewell Ballet is a close-knit company of eight professional dance artists who perform innovative work that honors the tradition of ballet and explores the more contemporary elements of dance and the technical boundaries of ballet. The acclaimed company will present a mixed repertoire, featuring Chopin Tribute, a new work celebrating Chopin’s 200th birthday accompanied by award-winning Polish pianist Tadeusz Majewski, East Meets West inspired by the Indonesian Gamelan and French composer Satie, and Made in America, a suite of short dances set to classic songs from the United States.

All performances in The Dance Series also include an exciting opportunity to deepen the dance experience with DANCEtalks. One hour before each performance in The Dance Series, come and learn more about that evening’s performance from the company’s artistic directors and staff as well as local dance experts. And following the performance will be an intimate in-theater conversation and Q&A with the dancers.

The easiest way to ensure the best seats in the house is to become a The Dance Series Season Ticket holder. The Civic Center is now taking orders which may be placed in person at the Civic Center Ticket Office (Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) or online at CivicCenter.org. The Civic Center is encouraging online orders by waiving the $15 handling fee.

An exclusive Dance VIP Package is also available. Benefits for the Dance VIP Package include two Season Ticket packages in VIP seating, access to the Patron Circle Lounge during The Dance Series performances, playbill recognition as a supporter for The Dance Series and more. A portion of the Dance VIP Package is a tax-deductible donation to support Civic Center Dance programs. More information about VIP packages can be found online..."

...and while I was checking out the Graham site, spotted this audition notice.

06.21.2010: Reaction Sets In

Here's some feedback to the just completed 2010 Capital City Dance Center Summer Intensive:
"...(My daughter) had an awesome experience..."
...and...
"...she's loving intensive!"
...and, here's a late review of the CCDC's La Sylphide...and Moor!
"...Belated Praise for the CCDC recital! La Sylphide was exceptional....your dancers rose to the challenge of Bournonville's difficult light, quick footwork and incorporated his stylized arms without looking corny. The corps was mesmerizing--such beautiful clusters of ballerinas, such synchronized movement, such pleasant smiles--and so hard to accomplish. Graduating seniors Maggie and Natalie displayed both technical finesse and charming personality--Natalie as the sweet young girl in love, Maggie as the ethereal and playful Sylph. The pas-de-trois work was breathtaking. Sean seemed to toss the ballerinas around effortlessly. And how nice to have him back at CCDC for a bit! Kaitlyn and Adrian's pas was charming. And one audience member commented on Old Madge's expressive face, but felt sorry for the poor young ballerina cast in such an awful role.

Congratulations on launching 3 (three!!) of your students off to professional careers this year. And just as importantly, thank you for instilling the love and discipline of dance into all your students, whether they pursue dance as a career or as a hobby or as a future audience member. Merde!..."

06.18.2010: Smooth Like Silk!

News from the CCDC Graduate we like to call Sylkk Da Shaka!:
"...I recently just found out that I have received the Sister States Scholarship to go do research in Japan for one year. My research topic is over the effects of culture and tradition on health and medicine. I will be leaving on July 5th and will hopefully return in early summer of 2011. The scholarship also includes tuition for me to attend the Yamanashi Prefectural University in Kofu, Japan. Luckily my grandfather's house is located about 10 min away from the university and the state has also provided me with an apartment, which is conveniently located one block away from my grandfather's house. There is also a possibility that I will be able to take some ballet classes again with my old teacher.

All of this has happened within the last couple of months and it's kind of tough to prepare myself!

I hope to visit the studio sometime in the near future (maybe even take a class?) and see everyone again!

...take class as our guest Lady Sylkk! Everyone would love to see ya again!

06.18.2010: SOS4State Support

Pass this on:
Grants available for arts organizations

Through July 26, the state's Department of Cultural Affairs is accepting applications for Small Operating Support grants.

Arts, history and cultural organizations may apply for up to $2,500 to hire a consultant or contract employees; to cover costs related to technology, such as software purchases, staff training and Web development; for marketing and promotional expenses; or for temporary relief of such costs as rent and utilities.

For more information, click here.

06.17.2010: Dancer2Dancer

We submitted questions to CCDC Ballet/Contemporary/Ballroom Instructor Karina Sturdevant recently. And, despite being busier than the proverbial one-armed wallpaper hanger, the answers begin to trickle in:
1-You went to Dowling High School and trained with CCDC's Artistic Director at the Des Moines Ballet School Preprofessional Program. What was that like and what is your favorite memory of Missy growing up? What do you think are the main differences between your generation of dance students and the current generation?

"What I appreciate the most now about my training was the fact that Missy and I truly experienced a preprofessional program. We were required to be in class almost every day. Our teachers were trained professionals who demanded our best. We gained performing experience through our Junior Company as well as with the professional company. Dedication was expected from us to be included in this program, with no exceptions! If one could not commit, one was not allowed in the program. I cannot tell you the value of having a professional company right in front of you, to learn and grow from them. I saw how they took class, the work ethic and discipline that was required, the mistakes they made and how they worked through them, and the process of starting a ballet to the finished product on stage.

"My favorite memory of Missy was the fact that both she and I (every class or rehearsal) arrived at the studio at least one hour before to warmup and work on strengthening and stretching. She had an excellent work ethic.

"This generation differs in the fact that since many students are not exposed to the professional company on a daily basis that they do not physically see what is required of a professional dancer. As students, Missy and I had to choose dance, and only dance, as our activity. We knew what was required to be competitive in the dance world. To be truly great at anything, one has to be focused and dedicated. I feel students today are involved in too many activities and are missing out on the chance to do one thing and do it well. For me, choosing one thing, DANCE, has given me the most joy and satisfaction in my life."

06.15.2010: Walla Walla Wall o' Fame

...and soon, there will be five. A new photo will be installed soon on the Capital City Dance Center Wall of Fame. Kudos again to the dancer we like to call Katya W00tang, who begins her professional dance career this fall with the Minnesota Ballet. And, because we haven't gotten around to installing nameplates to the Wall o' Fame yet, I thought this would be a good time to reintroduce new students and families to the portraits you see up in the CCDC lobby: Starting on your left or wall-right...
  1. Brooke Meyer: nicknamed River Burgermeister, she apprenticed with the late lamented Omaha Theater Ballet. Brooke is now married and a mom and teaches ballet in Florida.
  2. Sara Mills: Nicknamed Princess SarAurorah I or Sleeping Beauty I, she danced as a full company member of New Hampshire's Northern Ballet Theater. She went on to earn her accounting degree at ISU and is married.
  3. Sean Laughead: Nicknamed GitcherFaShawn, SABoy or SFBoy, he danced with Ballet Minnesota. He's currently enrolled at the University of Iowa dance program and intends to resume his professional ballet career after graduating.
  4. Sarah Koehler: Nicknamed Dozing Beauty or Princess SarAurorah II, she's just completed her first season with the Saint Paul City Ballet while matriculating at Macalester in the Twin Cities. She's planning on returning for her second season with the company this fall.
  5. Catherine Wootten: Nicknamed Katerina W00tang, she begins her professional career as a paid apprentice with the Minnesota Ballet this fall.
  6. ???: Who's next? Will it be you? Why not you?

...Who indeed! Plenty of room on the wall for more! We want to have so many students-turned-professionals, we run outta room on the CCDC Wall o' Fame!

06.15.2010: Choreography Competition?

Congratulations to the CCDC student we like to call Rocky Nufrankenfurter! The Rock advanced through the first round of a regional dance competition this weekend. (We're not normally a "competition school", but, given the economic downturn, this may be the best way he can afford to accept some of the scholarships he's been offered to national summer intensives. Room+board and travel costs are still prohibitive. But, we still believe competition participation is generally counter-productive to a student's long-term training and future. Just ask choreographer Mia Michaels!) But, here's a suggestion to pass along to the Prairie Meadow's board. Along with this dance competition, you might consider adopting a successful idea from my hometown of Honolulu. There, the Hawai'i State Dance Council (abbreviated as HSDC. I only mention this because it caused some temporary confusion on my part when I moved to Chicago and HSDC stood for Hubbard Street Dance Company!) holds an annual choreography competition with cash prizes. It works like this: choreographers in the area set their pieces on their own dancers. On a set day, the pieces are all performed on a bare stage in a theater before only impartial judges and friends. The top pieces are selected and a few weeks later they're performed before the public with full-lights and staging after a week of tech rehearsals. You could announce the winners that night (including an audience choice award or individual dancer scholarships) or you could delay that to a later banquet. An annual Prairie Meadows Regional Choreography Competition would serve to nurture budding choreographers and help educate and build demand in a nascent dance audience. The annual HSDC Choreography Competition was a win-win-win back in my old hometown...and I think it could be a win-win-win anywhere you might be reading this ballet blog.

06.14.2010:Support Local Theater!

Nothing like live and local!o):
"...The Playhouse continues its 91st season with the comedy Don't Dress For Dinner, Jun. 11-27.

Bernard is planning a weekend with his chic, Parisian mistress. He has arranged for a cordon bleu cook to prepare gourmet delights, is packing his wife Jacqueline off to her mother's, and has even invited his best friend, Robert, to provide the alibi. What could go wrong? Suppose Robert and Jacqueline are secret lovers. Suppose the cook is mistaken for the mistress and the mistress is unable to cook. Be prepared for an evening of hilarious mistaken identity in this riotous farce of a romantic weekend gone awry.

The Don't Dress For Dinner cast of features Josh Visnapuu, Lindsay Fox, Paul Valleau, Megan Schettler-Schug, Karen Schaeffer and Micheal Davenport. The show is directed by Kathy Pingel.

More info here..."

06.11.2010: Hamer (Still) Hitz Homerz!o)

Admit it! Ya been thinking "Miss ya, Alyssa!" Well, here's a note from CCDC's Pilates/Contemporary/Jazz/Adult Ballet Instructor:
"...I thought this might be a good post for the website. All this overwhelming new knowledge from school, I need to share with someone! Here is an argument for taking dance classes on a *very* regular basis.

These concepts are from the book Therapeutic Exercise by Kisner & Colby:

  1. Principle of Overload - If muscle performance is to improve, a load that exceeds the capacity of the muscle must be applied. The muscle must be challenged to perform at a level greater than that to which it is accustomed. *Pilates anyone???*
  2. Principle of Specificity - The adaptive effects of training, such as improvement of strength, power, and endurance, are highly specific to the training method employed. Whenever possible, exercises incorporated in a program should mimic the anticipated function. *So take all your dance classes on a regular basis!*
A :)..."

06.11.2010: Enquiring Myndz Wanna No!

Submitted these Kwestions4Karina recently. The CCDC Ballet/Modern/Hustle Instructor's promising to send back the answers soon:
  1. You went to Dowling and trained with CCDC's Artistic Director at the Des Moines Ballet School Preprofessional Program. What was that like and what is your favorite memory of Missy growing up? What do you think are the main differences between your generation of dance students and the current generation?

  2. You went on to apprentice with Ballet Iowa at the same time that one of CCDC's Ballet Masters was still in the company. What was that experience like and what is your favorite memory of Emery? (If you don't have one, please make one up!o)

  3. What advantages did you have training along-side professional dancers? What did you learn from being in rehearsals, performances or on tour with professional dancers? Is there a specific incident or person you watched where you realized to yourself "that's what it's going to take" or "that's how hard a professional works"?

  4. Was there a professional dancer or teacher you modeled yourself after (besides Emery)? What's the best advice someone's ever given you about becoming a professional dancer and staying one?

  5. You traveled around the country and overseas as a dancer and teacher. What are the differences between dance students around the U.S. and with other countries? How do you help your students become competitive on a global scale?

    Bonus Question---Do you have an amusing anecdote or potentially embarrassing story about Missy or Emery or both? (We reserve the right not to post these!o)

06.11.2010: The Coming Generation

Update from CCDC Young Children's Division Director Jill Andrews:
"...I'd like to report some news from the Young Children's Division of CCDC. Jocelyn had a very successful, fun Annie debut. Now we have another star in our midst in the opposite Ballet 2 class that meets on Thursday's. Ana D. has been chosen as the lead singer/actress in Grace West's summer musical. I've heard her sing once or twice in class, and she truly has a beautiful voice as well. We know she has no inhibitions as I've heard her on the radio before as d.j. for a local children's station (must be her father's connections)..."

06.10.2010: Knowledge Is Power

Parents! Know thy "enemy"...
"...(Courtesy Newswise) — There are biological motivations behind the stereotypically poor decisions and risky behavior associated with adolescence, new research reveals.

Previous studies have found that teenagers tend to be more sensitive to rewards than either children or adults. Now, Russell Poldrack and fellow researchers have taken the first major step in identifying which brain systems cause adolescents to have these urges and what implications these biological differences may hold for rash adolescent behavior.

“Our results raise the hypothesis that these risky behaviors...are actually driven by over activity in the mesolimbic dopamine system, a system which appears to be the final pathway to all addictions, in the adolescent brain,” Poldrack said.

In the study, participants ranging in age from eight to 30 performed a learning task in which they categorized an abstract image into one of two categories and were given feedback displaying the correct response. To ensure motivation, they were given monetary rewards for each correct answer. What the researchers were most interested in, however, was how each participant’s brain responded to “reward prediction error” (or the difference between an expected outcome of an action and the actual outcome) as they learned to categorize the images.

“Learning seems to rely on prediction error because if the world is exactly as you expected it to be, there is nothing new to learn. ” Poldrack said. Previous research has shown that the dopamine system in the brain is directly responsive to prediction errors.

Researchers measured so-called positive prediction error signals in the participants’ brains as the participants discovered the results of their answers and the size of their rewards. Teenagers showed the highest spikes in these prediction error signals, which likely means they had the largest dopamine response.

Dopamine is known to be important for the motivation to seek rewards. It follows, then, that the greater prediction error signals in the adolescent brain could result in increased motivation to acquire more positive outcomes, and therefore greater risk-taking.

Poldrack is confident future studies will further explore the biological reasons for stereotypical adolescent behavior. As to whether any study can absolve teens of blame for their antics, he said, 'That’s a question for the philosophers'..."


"...(Courtesy Newswise) — Moving to a new town or even a new neighborhood is stressful at any age, but a new study shows that frequent relocations in childhood are related to poorer well-being in adulthood, especially among people who are more introverted or neurotic.

“We know that children who move frequently are more likely to perform poorly in school and have more behavioral problems,” said the study’s lead author, Shigehiro Oishi. “However, the long-term effects of moving on well-being in adulthood have been overlooked by researchers.”

The researchers found that the more times people moved as children, the more likely they were to report lower life satisfaction and psychological well-being at the time they were surveyed, even when controlling for age, gender and education level. The research also showed that those who moved frequently as children had fewer quality social relationships as adults.

The researchers also looked to see if different personality types – extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness, conscientiousness and neuroticism – affected frequent movers’ well-being. Among introverts, the more moves participants reported as children, the worse off they were as adults. This was in direct contrast to the findings among extraverts. “Moving a lot makes it difficult for people to maintain long-term close relationships,” said Oishi. “This might not be a serious problem for outgoing people who can make friends quickly and easily. Less outgoing people have a harder time making new friends.”

The findings showed neurotic people who moved frequently reported less life satisfaction and poorer psychological well-being than people who did not move as much and people who were not neurotic. Neuroticism was defined for this study as being moody, nervous and high strung. However, the number and quality of neurotic people’s relationships had no effect on their well-being, no matter how often they had moved as children. In the article, Oishi speculates this may be because neurotic people have more negative reactions to stressful life events in general.

The researchers also looked at mortality rates among the participants and found that people who moved often as children were more likely to die before the second wave of the study. They controlled for age, gender and race. 'We can speculate that moving often creates more stress and stress has been shown to have an ill effect on people’s health,' Oishi said. 'But we need more research on this link before we can conclude that moving often in childhood can, in fact, be dangerous to your health in the long-term'..."

06.09.2010: Weekend NOT Forgotten!

Feedback to CCDC's La Sylphide...and Moor! still trickling in!
"...Enjoyed the recital, they are all beautiful dancers..."
...and...
"...The recital was amazing! You guys do a wonderful job. Can't wait for next year!..."
...Still time for you to weigh in! (Who am I kidding? I'll take any feedback all day long!o) What did you think? Just click here.

06.09.2010: MustCDanceTV!

Watch for all the changes! Good or bad, SYTYCD Fanz?
"...YOUR "SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE" FINALISTS REVEALED THIS WEEK! WED and THU on FOX

Vegas callbacks come to an end on Wednesday as the last round of this year's hopefuls attempt to prove they have what it takes and earn coveted spots as Season Seven finalists. On Thursday, tune-in to see your favorites perform in their genres and dance with the All-Stars who share their same specialties. Also, the finalists and All-Star partners will perform in the largest group number ever. Watch as they face judges Nigel Lythgoe, Adam Shankman and Mia Michaels on the first performance show airing WED JUN 16 at 8/7c..."

...and, drat! Our DVR deviated from our instructions last week! Is there anyplace on the web that we can legally watch last week's second show of SYTYCD? Can't find it on Fox.TV or Hulu.

06.08.2010: Real Reaction

Ask, and ye shall receive! Here's some solicited feedback!o):
"...Recital was BEAUTIFUL!!!!!! Great job to Missy and Emery, La Sylphide was amazing. Also kudos to Jill Andrews on her choreography in the Alleluia Ballet, Hannah Shiplett's choreography in the Lyrical B/C class and Missy's choreography in Tap B/C. Those three dances really stood out to me in the "more" section and I just wanted to pass that along.

I can't wait for (my dancer) to be more active in your dance program this summer. She is looking forward to summer intensive!..."

...and, parting is such sweet sorrow for the Seniors of 2010...
"...I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for the artitistic creative inspiration you have given (my dancer) thru the years! She has accomplished so much under your direction. You have successfully encouraged her to express her feelings and thoughts thru movement without judgment. There are many loving life lessons from the studio that she will take with her and relate to as she ventures on thru life. I know the time spent with all the dancers at the studio will be cherished forever in her heart. La Syphide was a beautiful expression of accomplishments, thanks!..."

06.08.2010: Pitch4Brix+Mortar

Shop LOCAL!o)
New Merchandise has arrived!

DON'T FORGET WE HAVE COSTUMES AND ACCESSORIES FOR PARTIES AND SUMMER EVENTS INCLUDING A LARGE SELECTION OF 4TH OF JULY MERCHANDISE!

JUST PRINT THIS EMAIL AND BRING IN YOUR COUPON TO SAVE!

The Theatrical Shop
Costumes, Dance Supplies, and Novelties Galore!

06.08.2010: Performance Tip

Price is right!
"...Youth Chorale, the international touring ensemble of the Youth Chorus, will present its Tour Farewell Concert on Sunday, June 13 at 3:00 p.m. at the Temple for Performing Arts’ Grand Hall. The choir will perform its tour repertoire, ranging from Renaissance to contemporary classical music, jazz, spirituals, and multicultural selections. There is no admission charge to the concert; a free-will offering will be taken.

Youth Chorale will travel to Quebec June 15-21 to participate in the Loto-Quebec World Choral Festival in the city of Laval. The choir will have the opportunity to perform in exchange concerts with other international youth choirs, sing with the Laval Symphony Orchestra, and participate in choral music workshops. The tour will also include performances with Les Petits Chanteurs de Charlesbourg in Quebec City and Les Petits Chanteurs du Mont-Royal in Montreal.

The Youth Chorus’ mission is to nurture the human spirit by enriching the lives of youth through musical excellence..."

06.07.2010: First Feedback

Feedback on CCDC's La Sylphide...and Moor!o) this weekend:
"...such an enjoyable evening last night. What a wonderful performance!..."
...Click here to submit your 2-cents worth. And, here's feedback on the entire 2009-2010 year for CCDC Young Children's Division Director Jill Andrews:
"...Jill you are an amazing teacher! God has blessed you with the talent to teach these young dancers and fill them with inspiration! I am so happy you are (my daughter's) teacher!..."
...and, here's another...
"...She really enjoys dance, loves you & we couldn't be more thrilled with her CCDC experience! ..."
...Don't forget! Your young dancer still has an opportunity to take classes with Jill or Karina later this summer or fall. Click on the Summer tag on the right to find out more!

06.07.2010: Living Up2A Name

Graduation money burning a hole in your pocketbook? Check out this danceware sale!
End Of Season Sale - ONE WEEK ONLY!

Get 15% OFF on select Capezio Basics

Get 15% OFF - gilda marx Underwire Bra
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Get 15% OFF Retail Wade Robson Power Sneakers - $16.96 Each.
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www.DiscountDance.com

...and I did finally get a chance to use those Wade Robson Power Sneakers I bought earlier this year this weekend. Wore them around backstage and in the control booth during the show. They're reasonably comfortable, good price. I have NOT worn them for the purpose they were intended however: Jazz or contemporary dance class or performance. I'm not sure the bottoms are good for pirouettes or other turns. Too sticky. Too much friction on rubber soles. But, if you want to buy them for just casual wear or for teaching dance class (as long as you don't demonstrate turns or jumps full-out), I'd say go for it! (And, click here to take a survey and qualify for a drawing for a fifty dollar gift card to DD. Limited time offer.)

06.06.2010: No Rest4Weary Dancerz!o)

Looking for a tune-up class before the 2010 CCDC Summer Intensive kicks off on Tuesday? Due to popular demand, an all levels ballet class will be held on Monday, 6:00-7:45pm. Free for all students registered for 2010 CCDC Summer Intensive. $5 for all students only registered for 2010 CCDC Summer Workshops. $12.50@class for all non-registered students.

06.04.2010: Pre-Performance Pep Talk

Here's a repost of my message to CCDC dancers before a previous performance. I think it bears repeating:
"...'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! (No apologies to the lottery!o)..."
...you love to dance otherwise you wouldn't spend so much time at it! Now, it's time to share your love with those that you love and strangers who love what you love! So, go dance for the joy of good dancing!

...Work for it, but, don't punish yourself if you don't achieve perfection! You're human! If we wanted perfection we'd pay to watch machines! But, YOU can do so much more than a machine! Believe it! BE a perfectly human dancer, warts and missteps and all!

06.04.2010: Gr8 Link

CCDC Young Children's Division Director Jill Andrews sends this along:
"...Great article from The New York Times:

Young Americans Embrace Rigors of the Bolshoi

A handful of Americans are apprentices at the Bolshoi ballet academy, the training ground for many of Russia’s ballet greats. Click here..."

...and be sure to click on the webvideo link at that site. It gave me goosebumps!

06.03.2010: Feedback...Already!

The excitement is building for La Sylphide…and Moor!o):
”…Wonderful job on the recital! I really enjoyed the dress rehearsal last night. Thank you for all you do to make such an impact on all those young women and men. I couldn't help looking around the auditorium last night getting goosebumps. All the families of your students are so blessed to have you, and all your instructors teaching them!...”

06.02.2010: Less On 'Moor'

Not everyone appreciates the play on words:
"...yes i admit i didn;t get it and my dad was raised on the yorkshire moors..."
...But, now that I'm thinking about it: How about a resetting an entire ballet called La Sylphide And Moor? The Sylph could mysteriously appear as a Djinn at the mosque of Achmed the Cobbler who is betrothed to Fatima the Flatulent? The local mullah is plotting revenge until the Crusaders intervene? Never mind a ballet! We've got us a reality show on Fox! Mersey Shore...and Moor!o)

06.02.2010: Performance Tip

Support local theater! ...besides La Sylphide...And Moor!o)
"...The Playhouse continues its 91st season with the comedy Don't Dress For Dinner, Jun. 11-27.

Bernard is planning a weekend with his chic, Parisian mistress. He has arranged for a cordon bleu cook to prepare gourmet delights, is packing his wife Jacqueline off to her mother's, and has even invited his best friend, Robert, to provide the alibi. What could go wrong? Suppose Robert and Jacqueline are secret lovers. Suppose the cook is mistaken for the mistress and the mistress is unable to cook. Be prepared for an evening of hilarious mistaken identity in this riotous farce of a romantic weekend gone awry.

The Don't Dress For Dinner cast of features Josh Visnapuu, Lindsay Fox, Paul Valleau, Megan Schettler-Schug, Karen Schaeffer and Micheal Davenport. The show is directed by Kathy Pingel.

More info here..."

06.01.2010: Folic+Fortification=Folication?

Knowledge is power:
"...Supplements of folic acid may boost heart function and improve athletic performance in young female runners, according to a new study.

Women who exercise excessively may stop menstruating or develop irregular menses as a consequence. The condition is known as amenorrhea. This may lead to an increase in the risk of heart disease. However, according to new findings the potentially detrimentally effects on vascular health may be offset by folic acid fortification.

Scientists report that folic acid may improve blood flow-mediated dilation in the arteries, and thereby increase blood flow to the heart.

The findings could be of importance to the estimated three million girls in high school who participate in high level sports and the 23 million women who run at least six times a week. Statistics indicate that about 44% of these runners have athletic-associated amenorrhea.

The researchers recruited 20 female college or recreational runners aged between 18 and 35, who had been regularly running at least 20 miles a week over the previous 12-month period. Half of the women were amenorrheic and the control group was menstruating normally. Initial analysis showed that amenorrheic women had reduced blood vessel dilation similar to postmenopausal women.

Both sets of women were assigned to receive a daily folic acid dose of 10 mg for four weeks.

Results showed a normalization of the vascular function in the amenorrheic women after folic acid supplementation. "The earliest sign of heart disease can be measured by reduced dilation in the brachial artery of the arm in response to blood flow. Reduced vascular dilation can limit oxygen uptake and affect performance," researcher Anne Hoch said.

No changes were observed in the control group.

Hoch said that further study is necessary to determine the lowest optimal dose of folic acid which offers the maximum benefit for athletic amenorrhea. She also notes that folic acid may not only boost heart health, but may also improve athletic performance for these women..."

05.31.2010: Moor!...or Less!

The floodgates have been breached! Here's more...on Moor!o):
”…Let it be known that you have my full support for La Sylphide... And Moor! I think it is pure genious.

-Sleeping Kewtie…”

…and…
”…We love the play on words! Very clever. We appreciate a good pun and this is definitely a good one.

Of course, we've also been to Scotland, which might help in our understanding of it. :)

P.S. We also want to see kilts. Nothing beats a kilt, laddie…”

…I have nothing against kilts! In fact, in my last professional season, I not only wore a kilt in La Sylphide, I had to wear a scandalously short toga in Pygmalion! But, we "kilt" the kilt idea because we have to walk a fine line between educating an audience…and alienating potential dance parents. It’s hard enough for many fathers to consider seeing their sons dance in tights. They may draw the line at seeing them “prancing about in skirts”! We don’t want to provide any excuse for them to keep their kids out of ballet! Maybe, the next time we revisit La Sylphide…and Moor!” we’ll be able to outfit the men in traditional Scottish kilts, lassie!

05.28.2010: Sean Update

What's CCDC alumnus GitUrFaShawn been up to during his sojourn north? Here he sends a fascinating glimpse:
"...One of the company members of Ballet Minnesota also is in charge of the company Moving Arts Ensemble. Using four BM dancers and four MAE dancers, Kari Jensen (aforementioned company member) choreographed A Single Thought, Amplified for the Minnesota Dance Festival. Here's a video of majority of the piece!..."
...and the Prodigal Son is back in the fold! StPauliBoy will appear as guest artist in Capital City Dance Center's La Sylphide...and Moor! June 4+5, Valley High School Auditorium.

05.28.2010: Let Loose The Floodgates!

Here's the first of what I'm sure will be a massive spontaneous and genuine outpouring of support for La Sylphide...and Moor!
"...I saw it on your website and totally got it, but then perhaps it's because I am taking highland dancing this year. I could easily see where some of the masses would not see it. (hmm, dare I say edukational issues.....jk.)

We think you are great!..."

???...isn't "educational" spelled with a "c"? ...oh...wait a minute!o)...

05.27.2010: Buyer Beware!

Got another offer to get "certified" in an esoteric exercise regimen...
"...This is a 2-day event where you will learn the simplest technique that can transform your life. You'll experience the stress releasing and happiness boosting power of ____ and learn how to stay in high spirits when life presents challenges. If you choose to become a Certified _______ Leader, you'll learn how to lead a _______ session with a variety of students and you'll have lots of time and support to practice your skills in your own unique way...

You will receive:

  • Comprehensive E-Manual
  • Over 100 ______ Exercises
  • Discounts on...books...and DVD
  • Certified _______ Leader Certificate (optional)
  • Free basic listing as ______ Professional on _________ (optional)

Cost: $295 ($275 early bird discount by 2 weeks in advance)..."

...Really? Is two days long enough to get certified in anything? I'll grant you that someone with extensive teaching experience or a long-time student could possibly adopt a new discipline or similar methodology and turn around and start teaching with some success. But, I suggest you view these "certifications" with a grain of salt. Try a class, talk to other students, trust your gut. And, caveat emptor! I, myself, am not certified at anything (Perhaps, certifiably insane!o) But, my dancing and teaching career spans two centuries...and beyond!o)

05.27.2010: Tan-orexia Toll

Repeat after me, Lobster-Girl!o): "Sunscreen is our friend! Tanning beds are our enemy! Sunscreen is our friend!...":
(Courtesy Newswise) — Use of indoor tanning beds increases risk of melanoma between twofold and fourfold depending on the device and length of time indoor tanning is used, according to the American Association for Cancer Research.

In the largest study of its kind on this issue, researchers found that among 1,167 melanoma cases and 1,101 healthy controls, those who had tanned indoors had a 74 percent increased risk of melanoma. If the devices emitted primarily UVA radiation, the risk was 4.4-fold.

Risk increased along with greater years of use, number of sessions or total hours of use.

The Food and Drug Administration is currently considering a ban on indoor tanning beds among teenagers. Results from this study suggest the greater risk of melanoma observed among teenagers is more likely due to increased years of tanning rather than biology. Currently, indoor tanning use is much more common among teenage girls and young women than boys or men..."

05.26.2010: New Guest Faculty

Here's a bio we found on the web for a highly recommended teacher we're bringing in for the Capital City Dance Center 2010 Summer Intensive:
Michael Levine has danced professionally for over 17 years. Formerly a principal with the Joffrey Ballet, Levine has had the pleasure of dancing numerous leading and principal roles. He has danced as Romeo in Cranko's Romeo and Juliet, Death in Jooss' The Green Table, Iago in Limone's The Moor's Pavane, The Lover in Tudor's Lilac Garden, Albrecht in Freddy Franklin's staging of Giselle, and The Prince in Ashton's Cinderella. Levine has performed numerous Arpino and Joffrey works, including: Arthur St. Leon in Pas de Deesses, A Round of Angels, Sea Shadow and Light Rain. Other leading roles include choreography by: Kylian, Balanchine and Pilobolus.

Levine worked with choreographer Donald Byrd on the collaboration with Ramsey Lewis, To Know Her, and in the creation of Motown Suite; both for the Joffrey. Away from the Joffrey, Levine was involved in the creation of Lauri Stalling's full evening work Eidelon and performed in some of her other works, including Bacchus Vessel, In the Belly of Grace and Sprawling Orchid. While at American Ballet Theater, Levine had the pleasure of appearing in James Kudelka's Cruel World, Kevin McKenzie's Transcendental Etudes and Lar Lubovich's world premier of Othello and A Brahms Symphony. Michael Levine has received recognition for his technical ability and classical line as well as for his excellent character portrayal. From the LA Times, Chicago Sun Times, Chicago Tribune, New York Times, Washington Post, and in between, he has been favorably reviewed across the country. Levine has taught, coached, and helped lead workshops throughout the country including: The Joffrey Ballet, Lou Conte Dance Center, Point Park University Pittsburgh PA, University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point, and Eastern Connecticut Ballet. Michael Levines photography captures moments from his unique, experienced dancer perspective...

...And, here's a picture of him and his wife from the Evansville Courier&Press.

05.26.2010: La Sylphide...and Moor!

If you read this blog regularly, you know I like the good turn of a phrase, witty word-play, ballet banter...and occasional snarky sarcasm. But, I'm being out-voted in my latest effort to pander to the highest common denominator: Capital City Dance Center started a pattern when we titled our first Spring Showcase The Sleeping Beauty...and More!. The next year it was Excerpts from Swan Lake...And More!. The year after that Giselle...and More!. You get the picture. So, I thought that since this year our ballet is set in Scotland, we could call it La Sylphide...and Moor! Get it? EXACTLY! It's hilarious AND high-brow! Never mind the puzzled looks I got when I tried it out on the advanced dancers in Ballet VI! Never mind the blank stares from the other CCDC faculty and directors! And, there's precedent! Boston Ballet called their second company Boston Ballet Too! And, that was copied by the last company I danced with when they called their pre-professional company Ballet Iowa Too! Sadly, not enough people are on board with my La Sylphide...and Moor! suggestion. They consider it just a puny effort at punny punditry. They think that people will just think we misspelled "More". And given that last year's 2009 programs had "2008" on it, they have a pointe. So, I may not get my whey this time. (Unless a massive write-in campaign sways some minds! E-mail "I want Moor!" here! Once I get several thousand, I'll forward them too the proper decision-makers!o) That still may not be successful, but, weight until we perform Petrouchka...and Moor! (There is actually a Moor in that ballet!) or Iago's Lament...and Moor! (Ditto!o) (Even I think The Moor's Pavane...and Moor is a little overkill!o)

05.25.2010: Web Resources

Here's a rundown of some of the best twips I've been tweeted recently: Hints on recovering from dance injuries from Pointe Magazine. Cross-training benefits from Dance Teacher. Going on pointe for the first time? Dance Teacher also has some tips. And, tired of all the riff-raff on FaceBook? Have you checked out what's being called the new social network for dancers and dance fans? Check out the impressive membership here. Click to sign up here.

05.24.2010: Dancing In The Land Of The Rising Sun

A local dancer who's gone on to international success is back briefly in the Capital City. I asked him recently about his experiences dancing and teaching in Japan. Here are those answers from Michael Fothergill...
"...1-How did you end up dancing in Japan? What do you like the most about living in the land of the rising sun? What do you miss the most about the US?

I have worked professionally on and off in Japan over the course of the last 5 years. From August 2009 through mid - January 2010 I was a resident of Japan, returning home for a portion of the winter/spring of 2010. I will return for an tenure in the summer on May 29th for a duration of and additional 3 months. More or less, my work abroad has been cohesive with my schedule here in the United States. As many of the ballet companies and dance organizations in Japan begin their seasons in April/May to coincide with the beginning of the public school year and the end of the financial market year, I usually begin work in the early summer months as I have thus far been contracted during the remainder of the year dancing or working choreographically here in the U.S.

The thing I enjoy the most about living in Japan would have to be the scenery and the changing of the seasons. I work in a major metropolitan city of around 2 million people, however am only 1 hour away from the ocean, and can be in the mountains in less that 10 minutes in each direction. There is amazing flora and fauna that is unique to Japan, ranging from the Japanese cherry blossom trees "Sakura" to the variations of wild, yet tame monkeys that bathe in natural hot springs "Onsen" among the locals. The Japanese maple trees that we have here, as you may be aware, are famous for their colorful autumn foliage. However, this is but a sliver of the incredible colors that one would see lining the mountanous areas of town. Reds, yellows, oranges, purples, and even blues are commonly seen during the changing of the seasons. As well, the snowfall is unlike anything we would experience in the United States. It is serene, slow floating and peaceful. It is one of the most beautiful visions I have witnessed. Add in the modern marvels of contemporary architecture, melded with the historic temples, gardens and luxurious cuisine presentation, you will find that everything about Japan is filled with beauty.

The thing that I miss the most would certainly be my family and friends. It is always hard to leave those close to you when traveling overseas, especially for extended periods of time.Thanks to technology, services such as SKYPE, in addition to international texting and cellular service have eased the home-sickness.

2-Are there many opportunities for Western dancers/teachers/choreographers to make a living in Japan? What's your best advice for westerners considering moving to Japan to pursue their career?

Japan is a selective community, and to be entirely honest, the market for full-time work is quite small. I would not advise anyone to move to Japan without the promise of work or forseeable work in the near future. The visa system in Japan is quite complicated and substantially more difficult for those involved in the arts. With less than 1 percent of the Japanese population as a whole being foreign, the Japanese tend to trust the reliability of hiring from their own ethnicity. Nevertheless, as the years go on, more and more companies are selecting to hire foreign dancers or engage choreographers from overseas as the society begins to open its eyes to the progressive societies of the west. Japan also operates largely on a "word of mouth" system.It is crucial that you make a good first impression! If one employer likes you and is willing to recommend you, this opens up a tremendous ammount of doors. However if your first impression runs sour, then many will shut before you have enough time to alter the perception of those around you. Your resume matters a lot in the beginning, however little as time goes on. You are judged purely on talent, and networking rather than credentials and past experiences. You have to really sell yourself and be confident in who you are, but you also have to be willing to set aside your American ways and means and adapt the nature and work ethic of a Japanese citizen. You need to learn the language, remain faithful to the customs and remember, when working within Japan, the ballgame is different. In my circumstance, when I first traveled to Japan, it was due to a personal connection that led me to one employer in particular. The first summer I was there, I managed to impress the Director, leading to work within 2 other companies. As the years have progressed I have gained popularity for my work and my persona as a dancer, instructor and choreographer - working between a number of organizations and with a variety of talented individuals. This year alone I created 6 ballets, one of which I am returning to complete for debut in late August. My point is, that It takes time to develop a career living in Japan and instruction/creation/education all have different routes that you would want to take to achieve success. Guesting on the other hand is an entirely different scenario. These jobs are easy to come by for those with a good resume and are actively working professionally abroad. For the dancer intersted in further indulging the idea of working and/ or living in Japan more specifically, I offer professional Artistic Management Consulting services. More information can be found at www.michaelfothergill.com

3-What are the main differences and similarities between Japanese dancers and western dancers? How do you communicate corrections through a language barrier?

Japanese dancers tend to focus a lot more on technique than those here in America. So much so in fact that westerners would perceive the expression and artistic integrity of many dancers to have been sacrificed for the pursuit of a perfect technique. Japanese dancers are often pyrotechnical dancers that seek out perfection in all that they do. The work ethic is immense and at times overbearing from a foreign perspective. Japanese students are trained feircely and with incredibly high standards that they maintain through their professional careers. It has often been noted that as contemporary dance and neo-classics are not nearly as common to see as classical ballet, the audience and dancers alike are not fairly exposed to a large palate of stylisms and theories from which to expand their thinking. Japan excells beyond many countries in terms of classical presentation, and lavishness of sets/costumes and lighting theory, but lags in this department. Japan is more about fundamentals and perfection rather than creation and exploration. America has a bravura and freedom in the work that I think European dancers lack, while European dancers have a depth and history that we have not yet developed. There are pros and cons to every society, however I would say that if you want to find good technicians, you would be hard pressed to find better than the dancers in Japan.

Language barriers I believe are by choice. When you choose to live in a country overseas, you must choose to adapt to the native society. When in the studio, corrections are usually given in Japanese or in English. If you are not a native speaker of either of these languages, you would need to learn a bit of both to understand the bulk of what is going on. Most of Japan from signs around town to spoken word, acknowledges English in some part. Nevertheless, learning Japanese at least the words that apply to your work, i.e. stretch, pull up, relax, knees, more, less, push, stop, go, left, right etc. I would say it is also not unusual to see demonstrative explanation when getting corrected. Many Artistic Directors and Studio Owners remain active in their dancing until their later years, and still remain able to demonstrate should need be.This is very much a part of the society and the pride and strong willed nature of the Japanese people. I have tremendous respect for this practice.

4-Talk about the cultural differences. Food problems. Language barriers. Any humorous incidents?

I wouldn't really say that Japanese and Americans have too many cultural differences as we are both advanced and modern societies. However I would say that there are practices observed by the Japanese that we do not acknowlege here in the States and vise versa.

For example;

The Japanese observe year - round schooling

Social life and the success of the "company" is much more important to the Japanese than here in America where family is often first priority. Executies deemed "Suits" in Japan often go out eating and drinking with colleagues each night until the early morning for socialization and bonding. This is so while the family is at home for the entirety of the evening. Here in America that sort of behavior may be viewed as selfish or unprofessional. On the flip side, when the Japanese work, they work! That may mean staying in the office until 3 a.m. over long durations of time for the sake of the company. They may view our 9-5 hours as lax and selfish as well.

Japanese communicate more by text than phone conversation - even those in the older gererations by about a million percent. Japanese cell phones do not offer unlimited plans as we do and the bulk of phone conversation you will see will be less than 5 minutes if that as they are billed by the minute. The remainder of all communication is dealt with by phone e-mail which is like texting but connected to the web. I equated that when speaking on my Japanese mobile, every 15 minutes of talking, I was billed $6.00.

The technology of Japan in many ways is light years ahead of the United States, however many would question the necessity or practicality of many of the improvements.

Here in America while many would eat toast or eggs or cereal for breakfast, in Japan they eat fish, rice, and traditional food.

Japanese is a beer drinking society, housing many beer festivals throughout the nation.

Japanese residents are exposed to a variety of social programs that we do not have in the USA such as national healthcare, pension, and a variety of lifestyle enhancing programs.

There are over 4000 traditional characters "Kanji" used by the Japanese, and they have 2 basic alphabets "Katakana, and Hiragana" . These traditional characters are interjected when necessary into these alphabets, and many of them stem from ancient Chinese characters however have different meanings. We have 26 letters....pretty dull when you think about that.

The roads in Japan are about half as wide as those in the USA, and the speed limits are in KM per hour. As well, Japanese traffic law is much more rigid and expensive should it be broken! A driver's license may be acquired at age 18, so unlike here in the USA, Japanese high schoolers are not allowed to operate a motor vehicle. Subway use is far more common anyhow. Cars drive on the opposite side of the road and the driver's seats are on the right rather than the left. This can make one feel a little car-sick at first.

As for humorous occurences...too many to list as I am accident prone by nature. I can say though that in mis-reading Japanese labels, I have enjoyed a good tooth brushing with laundy stain remover.

5-How has your experience immersed in the 21st century Japanese culture spurred your growth as a teacher, artist and choreographer?

I believe that in developing relationship with another country as I have has brought me a sense of enlightenment and connectivity. Of course the more you are exposed to, the more you have to reference, expand upon or explore in your endeavors. I would also say that when working overseas, you learn that we are all, in spite of our cultural differences, people who need and want many of the same things in life. While we do not necessarily share the same culture, our pathways are entertwined. That sort of understanding acknowledges that there are no boundaries after all, and having no boundaries makes your work, and life much better as a whole.

Thanks for your interest!..."

05.21.2010: Hark! Dancers4Science Wanted!

Studying dancers for answers:
"...Research Studies Strength Training Study

The Harkness Center for Dance Injuries is looking for adolescent male dancers to participate in a 6-week upper extremity strength training program. Participants must be enrolled in ballet classes, be in good health and between the ages of 12 and 16. The study consists of a strength training program which meets 3 times a week for 6-weeks. Each session will last approximately one hour.

Jump Study

The Harkness Center for Dance Injuries is looking for male professional or collegiate dancers and male and female professional or collegiate athletes to take part in a scientific research study investigating the effects of fatigue on jumping ability. Participants must be in good health and between the ages of 18 and 40. Each participant will be asked to jump from a height of approximately 15 inches onto a flat surface while measurements of joint motion, muscle activity, and force are taken. A $50 cash honorarium will be given to all participants..."

05.21.2010: Black2Basics

If you have too much money burning a hole in your pocketbook, everyone loves a sale!
"...Capezio Basic Black Sale

Prices Start At $4.95

FREE GROUND SHIPPING
ON ORDERS $100 OR MORE

(Not including Shipping and tax)

Ends May 23rd, 2010

USE CODE SHPMAY0
during checkout.

Best Prices. Best Selection. Best Customer Service. 1 800 328 7107

www.DiscountDance.com..."

05.20.2010: Now Comes 'Tan-orexia'

Remember, kids! Sunscreen is our friend!
"...Young Women Burned by Addictions to Tanning

(Courtesy NewswiseAmber Peterson, 31, used to visit tanning booths every other day for 10 years until she was diagnosed with the deadliest form of skin cancer at age 26. After surgery to remove the melanoma and several lymph nodes, this blond-haired, blue-eyed, fair-skinned woman is currently cancer-free. She has since traded in tanning beds for self-tanner in a bottle.

“I was addicted to tanning. I liked the look and feel of being tan, but it could have cost me my life,” Peterson said. “Despite the warnings, no one thinks that they are going to get skin cancer. I never thought that this would happen to me. I am just lucky to have survived.”

Peterson is not alone. Julie Casey, 37, has been tanning once or twice a week since childhood. Only she has not been able to kick the tanning addiction, and she rarely uses sunscreen.

“While I recognize the risks, I crave being tan and get depressed if I do not visit the tanning booth on a regular basis,” Casey said. “This makes it very difficult for me to break the habit.”

Casey is a self-described “tanorexic.” Tanorexia, or an addiction to tanning, is common among young, white females. Approximately 20 percent of 18 - 29 year-olds use indoor tanning booths, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. Dermatologists believe tanning addictions are a legitimate health problem.

“When a person visits a tanning booth, the body releases endorphins,” said Anthony Peterson, MD. “These chemicals produce the same feelings of euphoria that entice drug addicts and alcoholics.”

This may explain why the indoor tanning business is booming. Thirty million Americans visit tanning salons each year despite the risk for wrinkles and the dangers of ultraviolet radiation. Ultraviolet radiation causes approximately 90 percent of skin cancers, and the risk for melanoma increases by 75 percent if you tan indoors before age 35.

“Excessive tanning is a serious health concern in our society,” Dr. Peterson said. “We have to treat this like any other addiction and educate young women about its dangers to curb this behavior.”..."

05.19.2010: Asian Sensation

A local dancer who's working successfully as a teacher/choreographer in Japan is back for a time in the Capital City. Michael Fothergill used to take my classes when he was younger. He dropped a line and I sent this back:
"...If you have time, I'd like to feature you and your website on my blog. Here are some questions you can answer:
  1. How did you end up dancing in Japan? What do you like the most about living in the land of the rising sun? What do you miss the most about the US?

  2. Are there many opportunities for Western dancers/teachers/choreographers to make a living in Japan? What's your best advice for westerners considering moving to Japan to pursue their career?

  3. What are the main differences and similarities between Japanese dancers and western dancers? How do you communicate corrections through a language barrier?

  4. Talk about the cultural differences. Food problems. Language barriers. Any humorous incidents?

  5. How has your experience immersed in the 21st century Japanese culture spurred your growth as a teacher, artist and choreographer?

      Arigato Gozaimashata!
      Ja, mata ne!..."

...Watch for his answers soon! You can learn more about Michael here.

05.19.2010: Percussive Dance

If you haven't seen them yet, this is worth seeing:
"...CIVIC CENTER ANNOUNCES RIVERDANCE ADDED TO 2010-2011 WILLIS BROADWAY SERIES LINEUP; RETURNING BY POPULAR DEMAND

Orders for renewals and new Season Ticket packages begins Monday, May 24

Capital City – The Civic Center announces a limited engagement of RIVERDANCE will return by popular demand Jan. 28-29, 2011 as a part of the 2010-2011 Willis Broadway Series as an optional add-on to the five show season ticket package.

The 2010-2011 Willis Broadway Series five show season ticket package features:

  • 9 to 5 The Musical – Oct 12-17, 2010
  • Mary Poppins – Nov. 26 – Dec. 12, 2010
  • Next to Normal – March 15-20, 2011
  • Rock of Ages – April 19-24, 2011
  • Young Frankenstein – May 3-8, 2011

The 2010-2011 Willis Broadway Series also includes a non-package special presentation of:

  • RIVERDANCE – Jan. 28-29, 2011
  • Chicago The Musical – Feb. 25-27, 2011

Few shows have touched audiences like RIVERDANCE, the Original International Phenomenon. This thunderous celebration of joyful music, song and dance that has that has tapped its way onto the world stage thrilling millions of people around the globe, will play the Civic Center, Jan. 28-29, 2011 for three performances only!..."

...But...is it just me? Or is anyone else thinking "Ho-hum! Been there, done that". At least it isn't the return of Cats again!

05.18.2010: Tights On The Loose!

If you're in the market, an interesting offer:
"...Free Tights! New Capezio Pro Canvas Ballet Shoe - style #2039 - $13.99 Get a Free Pair of Matching Tights with the Purchase of the Pro Canvas Ballet Shoe! Ballet Pink Ultra Soft Transition Tight #1816. This tight is a perfect match with the Pro Canvas Ballet Slipper. A Value of $10.69!..."
Find out more here.

05.18.2010: Spice, Girls?

Pass the peppers, please! (...and, break out the Bean-Oh!)
"...(Courtesy Newswise) — Imagine your delight while enjoying your favorite Mexican food – perhaps a fully loaded bean burrito topped with an ample supply of thinly sliced jalepeño peppers. What happens when you bite into a few more peppers than you bargained for? Does this thought conjure up the thought of a little heat? Perhaps even a bit of sweat on the brow? Indeed, food scientists can tell you that hot peppers contain a substance called capsaicin that not only adds spice to our foods but can actually cause your body to heat up. They hypothesize that plants evolved to contain capsaicin because it protected them from being eaten by insects and other pesky predators. On the contrary, cuisines worldwide rely on capsaicin-packing peppers to add pungency and zing to many traditional foods, and “pepperheads” often choose their meal to purposefully turn up the heat. But scientists are learning there is more than meets the eye (or should we say taste buds) when it comes to peppers. In fact, there is growing evidence that the body-heat-generating power of peppers might even lend a hand in our quest to lose those extra inches accumulating around our collective national waistline. And fortunately for those of us who don’t appreciate the “burn” of hot peppers, there are plants that make a non-burning version of capsaicin called dihydrocapsiate (DCT) that could have the benefits of peppers without the pungency.

In a study designed to test the weight-loss potential of this DCT containing, non-spicy cousin of hot peppers, researchers at the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition set out to document its ability to increase heat production in human subjects consuming a weight-loss diet. Under the direction of Professor David Heber, they recruited 34 men and women who were willing to consume a very low-calorie liquid meal replacement product for 28 days. The researchers then randomized the subjects to take either placebo pills or supplements containing the non-burning DCT pepper analog. Two dosage levels of DCT were tested. At the beginning and end of the study, body weight and body fat were assessed, and the researchers determined energy expenditure (heat production) in each subject after he or she consumed one serving of the test meal.

Their data provided convincing evidence that, at least for several hours after the test meal was consumed, energy expenditure was significantly increased in the group consuming the highest amount of DCT. In fact, it was almost double that of the placebo group. This suggests that eating this pepper-derived substance that doesn’t burn can have the same potential benefit as hot peppers at least in part by increasing food-induced heat production. They were also able to show that DCT significantly increased fat oxidation, pushing the body to use more fat as fuel. This may help people lose weight when they consume a low-calorie diet by increasing metabolism..."

05.17.2010: Can't Spell "Media" Without Going Thru "Me"

Well, well, well...so the "red-light rebound" effect theory has been validated so far. Team Louisey got the axe last week, but, not before conquering many hearts and gaining many new fans. And, it's about time that The Pussycat Doll got her perfect "30". Here are my rankings and comments heading into tonight's semifinals:
  1. Team Nicolerek: Just one point shy of attaining a perfect "60" in last week's two performances, Ms Scherzinger's been jaw-droppingly good since she first stepped foot on the ballroom floor. It's hard for me to take the time to take notes when she's performing, she's so good. Nicole's the judges'---and my---pick to hoist the mirror-ball trophy. The only possible stumbling block isn't her opposition's dancing, it's the fickle voting public.
  2. Team Evanna: The Olympic Gold Medalist is the only possible chance to derail the juggernaut that is Team Nicolerek. Evan's top-and-bottom lines are impeccable. He just doesn't seem to have the personality to match his clean dancing. In any other season but this one, he could easily be the favorite. I think he'll return to the ice a much better performer for his DWT*** experience.
  3. Team Erix: The ESPN Sideline Reporter was my early preseason pick for favorite and she was a strong contender. But, she---and professional partner Max---failed to capitalize on those gorgeous gams and long arms. Ms Andrews delivered some amazing performances...and some frustrating efforts as well. I wonder if The Bad Boy of the Ballroom has the patience and ability to teach and choreograph a champion. A lot depends on the luck of the draw (Poor Edyta!), but, shouldn't he have won with Scary Spice?
  4. Team Ocheryl: Time for the Bengal's Super-Star to begin his OTA (Optional Training Activities) for the fall NFL season. Chad Ochocinco gets my award for Most Improved on DWT***. But, he also still failed to capitalize on his impish charisma and off-the-charts physical talents. Maybe if he had a little taller pro partner, he wouldn't have looked so hunched over so often. But, if he didn't have that torrid chemistry with Cheryl Burke he may not have lasted so long. So, you picks your poison.
...and, just to be clear, I don't think at this late date in the series that the "red light rebound" effect will be enough to save Chad. The lines have rarely been drawn so clearly between the anointed and soon-to-be-disappointed...and Team Ocheryl is on the outside.
...And DWT*** may be ending soon, but, the drumbeats are getting louder for SYTYCD! But, it's not your father's show anymore! Here's official word of some changes we blogged about earlier:
"...SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE SHAKES IT UP AND BRINGS BACK YOUR FAVORITE DANCERS FROM PAST SEASONS!

Season Premiere THU MAY 27 at 8/7c

America's favorite summer series returns for its seventh season on Thursday, May 27 at 8/7c on FOX with new rules, new twists and a new attitude! This season on SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE, only 10 finalists will be chosen and coupled up each week with a past show favorite. The All-Star Dance Partners include Stephen "tWitch" Boss, Comfort Fedoke, Courtney Galiano, Anya Garnis, Lauren Gottlieb, Neil Haskell, Allison Holker, Mark Kanemura, Pasha Kovalev, Kathryn McCormick, Ade Obayomi and Dominic "D-trix" Sandoval. Tune in to see the summer's #1 series shake it up!

Get details on how we're shaking up the new season..."

05.14.2010: Sylphide Synopsis

Astound your friends! Confound your enemies! Read this preview synopsis of CCDC's version of La Sylphide (Its different from the full-length classical version!) and be prepared to explain the plot twists to your confused, semi-illiterate in-laws:
First of all, do not confuse the ballet, La Sylphide, with a similarly named ballet, Les Sylphides. They both deal with Sylphs, those dancing spirits of the air, but, they are entirely different ballets. In our condensed version of La Sylphide, just be aware there is no Gurn, no special effects, no backdrops, no kilts and sparse sets Hopefully, at some point, you will have a chance to see and/or perform in the full ballet.

La Sylphide: The Synopsis

The ballet opens in the home of James Reuben, a Scottish peasant. He has fallen asleep in a chair on the morning of his wedding. Into his dreams has slipped a beautiful Sylphide. But, is it a dream? When he wakes, the graceful creature is still there and dances for him as he seeks to hold her, to capture her. But, it is like trying to embrace smoke. She disappears, leaving him wondering if he had dreamed the entire episode.

Just, then, his intended enters. Effie and her mother share a quiet moment at the door. But, then, James clears his mind of his strange encounter and offers his betrothed a flower. He begs her to dance with him. Effie does, but, steals away to spend a last moment with her mother. James, meanwhile, is looking and wondering at the place he last saw the Sylph. Effie’s mother takes advantage of the opportunity to present the couple with the heirloom family rings that will be used in the wedding ceremony.

At that moment, Effie’s Friends enter, bearing gifts of more flowers. They’re all excited to be part of the wedding party. But, while they’re dancing and celebrating, Old Madge, the Village Witch, sneaks in to try to warm herself at the fire. James wants to throw her out, she wasn’t invited to the wedding after all. But, the friends intercede on her behalf. Old Madge says she will reward them by reading their palms. The girls get all giddy. Some want to have their fortunes told. Others say it’s all superstition and not to waste their time. But, eventually, they all fall under Madge’s spell.

But, it is Effie and James’ fortunes that Madge has come to foretell. She beckons the young bride-to-be to her side. When the Witch reads the young girl’s palm, she sees that Effie has “a great love”. She nods. But, who? Effie points to James who is lounging with great disdain and feigned disinterest on the other side of the room. Madge pulls Effie over to James’ side and grabs his palm. She looks at it, then, at Effie’s and back-and-forth again. Madge pulls the pair to the center of the room. Then, she tells James and Effie that they will never marry!

Effie runs to her mother and begins to cry. James stalks off to the other side of the room. Effie’s mother gently tells her daughter to ask Madge to read her other hand, for as everyone at the time knew, the less-dominant hand shows what traits one is given, while the dominant hand shows what one makes from those traits. Effie runs to Madge and interrupts her reading another girl’s palm. But, Madge gently tells her both her hands say she will never marry James. Desperate now, Effie begs James to have his other hand read, but, she runs to her mother because she fears the worst. Madge grabs James’ other hand. This will be her great vengeance on Clan Reuben for a long ago wrong. She tells him again that he will never marry Effie. James is enraged and throws the laughing Witch out of his house.

Despite the fiasco with the fortune-teller, the wedding preparations go on. But, in the middle of all the dancing, La Sylphide reappears. But, only James can see her. He becomes distracted in his dancing. Effie can sense something is wrong. She can tell she’s losing her lover. The Townsfolk dance, including a young flirtatious couple. Finally, James can take it no longer. When the Sylph leaves, he goes chasing off after her, leaving a distraught Effie and puzzled wedding guests.

Act 2

The second act opens during a night marked with the dancing of Little Stars. Old Madge and her coven of Little Witches are brewing a magic scarf. It’s harmless to everyone except creatures of the air like Sylphs. The magic forest is filled with the dancing of the enchanted and enchanting creatures of the air. James runs into a clearing of the Sylphs, seeking their Queen, his new love. They are reunited and much dancing ensues. But, once again, the Sylphs and their Queen disappear, leaving James alone and frustrated. He runs through the forest seeking her.

While he’s searching, Old Madge finds him. But, she must trick him into killing his great love. James wants La Sylphide to stay with him, to quit flitting about and flying away. Madge says she has just the thing and produces a beautiful scarf as a flock of Scarf Sprites appears. Wrap this around your Sylph, she says, and her wings will fall off and La Sylphide will fly no more. James is ecstatic and celebrates by dancing with the Little Scarves. But, unbeknownst to him, Madge switches the safe scarf with the poisoned one.

La Sylphide reappears and is entranced by the scarf. James teases her with it at first, but, at last, he wraps the deadly material around the Sylph’s shoulders. Her wings fall off one at a time. She dies. La Sylphide will never fly again because she has breathed her last. The Sylphs reappear as if by magic. They know their Queen has died and prepare to return her to the air from whence she came. And, Old Madge reappears as well. The Witch has won a final victory over unfaithful men everywhere. As she was betrayed in her youth, as she lured others to be unfaithful, she realizes she has come full circle. Her triumphant victory over Clan Reuben turns to ashes in her mouth, her vengeance as lifeless as the innocent Sylph Queen herself.

05.13.2010: Where's Jill?

Wassup with CCDC's Jill Andrews? Her PR staff sends this answer:
"...Jill has become a Stott Pilates trained instructor in both mat and reformer having completed required coursework with Certified Instructor Trainer, Gigi Filer. Jill is excited to teach Stott Pilates matwork at CCDC's summer intensive. This summer she will continue to train with certified instructor Amanda Garcia at Studio 3 in Johnston focusing on reformer jump classes and training on the Stott cadillac, stability chair and barrel. While Jill is not busy with her responsibilities as the Director of the Young Children's Division at CCDC, she is presently accepting new clients to train on her own stability chair and V2 Max Plus Reformer which provides a versatile workout for dancers, gymnasts, swimmers, elite athletes, tennis players, golfers, baseball players, etc. emulating the body's free, multi-dimensional movement of daily life. There are limitless possibilities with this next-generation reformer. Jill is also in the process of accepting clients to train at Studio 3, a fully equipped Stott Pilates studio just off 86th Street in Johnston offering privates, duets, and group classes (up to 4 at a time for equipment-based work and 8 at a time for mat classes)...."

05.13.2010: Tap Link

Hoof on over here!
"...I just wanted to share a new tap website that is a GREAT resource for students & fans of tap dancing.

It's not selling anything, instead its a collection of videos featuring some of the greatest tap performances ever. If you would like to acquaint your students with the history of tap dancing, please tell them about:

FamousTapDancers.Com

I know they will love it!

Thank you for your time!

Terrence "Taps"
www.TapDanceMan.com..."

...a preliminary glance at the site shows problems with some audio. Hard to judge tapping without the sound. And, the cut with Sandman Simms and Bill Cosby is priceless!

05.12.2010: 'D' Punchline?

A dancer's body is an artistic instrument. Here's the latest info on possibly keeping it fine-tuned:
"...A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that an astonishing 59% of study subjects had too little vitamin D in their blood with nearly a quarter of the group exhibiting serious deficiencies (less than 20 ng/ml).

The study, by Dr. Richard Kremer and co-investigator Dr. Vincente Gilsanz, is the first to show a clear link between vitamin D levels and the accumulation of fat in muscle tissue—a factor in muscle strength and overall health.

"Vitamin D deficiency is a risk factor for other diseases," explained Kremer, the principal investigator of the study. "Because it is linked to increased body fat, it may affect many different parts of the body. Abnormal levels of vitamin D are associated with a whole spectrum of diseases, including osteoporosis and diabetes, as well as cardiovascular and autoimmune disorders."

Scientists have known for years that vitamin D is essential for muscle strength. Studies in the elderly have shown bedridden patients quickly gain strength when given vitamin D.

The study results are especially surprising, because study subjects—all healthy, young women living in California—could logically be expected to benefit from good diet, outdoor activities and ample exposure to sunshine, the trigger that causes the body to produce vitamin D.

"We are not sure what is causing vitamin D insufficiency in this group," said Kremer. "High levels of vitamin D could help reduce body fat. Or, fat tissues might absorb or retain vitamin D, so that people with more fat are likely to also be vitamin D deficient."

The results extend those of an earlier study which linked low levels of vitamin D to increased visceral fat in a young population. "In the present study, we found an inverse relationship between vitamin D and muscle fat," Kremer said. "The lower the levels of vitamin D, the more fat in subjects’ muscles..."


(Courtesy Newswise) — Laughter is a highly complex process. Joyous or mirthful laughter is considered a positive stress (eustress) that involves complicated brain activities leading to a positive effect on health. Norman Cousins first suggested the idea that humor and the associated laughter can benefit a person’s health in the 1970s. His ground-breaking work, as a layperson diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, documented his use of laughter in treating himself—with medical approval and oversight—into remission. He is considered one of the original architects of mind-body medicine.

Dr. Lee S. Berk and Dr. Stanley Tan have picked up where Cousins left off. Since the 1980s, they have been studying the human body’s response to mirthful laughter and have found that laughter helps optimize many of the functions of various body systems. Berk and his colleagues were the first to establish that laughter helps optimize the hormones in the endocrine system, including decreasing the levels of cortisol and epinephrine, which lead to stress reduction. They have also shown that laughter has a positive effect on modulating components of the immune system, including increased production of antibodies and activation of the body’s protective cells, including T-cells and especially Natural Killer cells’ killing activity of tumor cells. Their studies have shown that repetitious “mirthful laughter,”causes the body to respond in a way similar to moderate physical exercise. It enhances your mood, decreases stress hormones, enhances immune activity, lowers bad cholesterol and systolic blood pressure, and raises good cholesterol (HDL).


05.11.2010: 'Me's' Back in Media!

Here's my theory on DWT*** eliminations: I know it's tricky to try to outguess the vast, un-dance-educated voting public, but, there appears to be a "red light rebound" effect. If you're under the gun one week (meaning if you're spotlighted as in the bottom two), but, you manage to survive to dance another day, then, your fans react and lift you out of the bottom two the next week. It happened to the Baywatch Babe, but, it came back to bite her in the behind in last week's elimination as Team Louisey rose out of the cellar. So, let's test my theory in tonight's elimination. Unless someone danced/performed "out of their minds" on Monday night, (Remember, I time-shift the show to the weekend. Haven't watched last night's yet. Shhh!o) that means The ESPN Sideline Reporter is safe from tonight's elimination. (And, what was America thinking green-lighting Team Erix to the red-light zone?) Since I don't think Team Nicolerek nor Team Evanna will be at risk until the finals, that means Team Ocheryl or Team Louisey will go this time. And, IMNSHO, that's the way it should be. My top three power rankings remain the same despite The Olympic Gold-Medalist's perfect scores last week. The Pussycat Doll on top, followed by Evan and Erin. If I were forced to predict, I think Niecey will "bite the big eclair" in tonight's elimination. Let's see if that "red-light rebound" effect holds true!
...And, quite a big reaction in the blogosphere to the latest episode of...the show that is my "guilty pleasure". The ballet sequence in GLEE! left more than a little to be desired. I'm a little ambivalent. First, I'm glad that ballet made it to the nation's television screens at all, but, (and this is a big "but") Lea needs to get back to the barre to build some strength in those legs and feet! (That's the thing with being a triple-threat. Very often, you're a "Jill-of-all-trades-but-mistress-of-none".) Secondly, what's with all the jazz choreography and jazz lifts in the ballet sequence? But, come to think of it, I guess Total Eclipse of the Heart begs for "cheesy" and 80's style Liza Minelli ballet dancing. I'm surprised they didn't whip out the "jazz hands" in the middle of the dance sequence...And, nice to know that SOMEONE's reading this blog: turns out my posting about auditioning for GLEE! triggered at least one entry from a part-time CCDC student. He even claims the concept for GLEE! is based on his own school's show choir! (The hubris!o) Anyway, he sent in his video entry and is waiting to hear if he made it into the next round of call-backs. I'm sure he's hoping beyond hope to get cast on the show as Quinn's new love interest, perhaps displacing Puck as the real father...but, I'm sure he'd also be happy to get a walk-on part on the show that is...our guilty pleasure!o)

05.10.2010: Taking The 'Chore' Outta 'Choreography'?

All you aspiring choreographers (Esp. Attn: CCDC Lyrical teacher!), here's a change to step up to the next level:
"...The Dance Teacher Summit is committed to promoting emerging choreographers who further the art of dance. The Capezio A.C.E. Award Competition is a great opportunity for choreographers to expose their work to one of the most influential audiences in dance.

  1. First make sure you meet the eligibility requirements:
    • All entries must be one of, or a combination of, these styles: jazz, lyrical, contemporary, modern, musical theater, tap, ballet or hip-hop.
    • All entries must not exceed 6 minutes.
    • Choreographers and dancers may be professional, amateur, or a combination.
      There must be at least 5 dancers in the group and all dancers must be ages 16+.
    • All entries may be entered by the choreographer NOT by a dance group that has hired the choreographer to set the work.
    • All performances must use music on CD.
      Performances can include props but no "sets.”
    • All entries must be available to compete at The Dance Teacher Summit in NYC, August 2-4, 2010.

  2. Upload your video to DanceMedia.com on The Dance Teacher Summit Channel. Be sure to do so BEFORE June 1, 2010. Please Note: The piece you enter with to become a Finalist, does NOT need to be the same piece that you compete in NYC. It must however meet all eligibility requirements. The video can be from a past performance and does not need to be specifically video-taped for the Capezio A.C.E. Award..."
...find out more by clicking on their website. BTW, lotsa dance-related videos at their website! Worth a check!

05.10.2010: Bitter After Taste

Back away from the sugar bowl!
"...the average American eats 25 pounds of candy per year and drinks nearly 50 gallons of sweetened soft drinks. "In our society, sugar is used as a reward, a reliever of stress, and as quick energy booster - but sugar consumption comes with a price,” warns nutrition expert Doug Ingoldsby.

Ingoldsby says sugar lowers immune response and makes us more susceptible to colds and flu. Sugar consumption in children paves the way to obesity, type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease, failing memory, early aging, and even mood disorders.

“Sugar is very similar chemically to alcohol, and both give us immediate highs and then severely crashes our energy levels within hours,” says Ingoldsby. “Refined sugar grabs B vitamins from the cells, and those vitamins must be replaced or one will tend to feel extremely stressed and tired.”

“Too often people attempt to fix sugar-induced stress and lethargy by consuming more sugar, but that starts a never-ending vicious circle of sugar consumption and increasing health problems.”

Tips to reduce sugar consumption:

  1. Read the label on all processed foods. Check the amount of sugars and choose the one with the least amount – preferably one with none at all.
  2. Become familiar with sugar terminology. Recognize these names for sweeteners: corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, sucrose, dextrose, honey molasses, turbinado, and brown sugar.
  3. Stabilize your blood sugar levels by eating good quality protein and healthy omega-3 fats, and plenty of leafy green vegetables.
  4. Eat every 3-4 hours and exercise regularly. You’ll feel a difference in energy levels right away.
  5. Drink lots of water. People often confuse dehydration with hunger pain. Keep a bottle of water on your desk at work and make it a goal to finish one per day.
  6. Use nutritional supplements. A high dose of B-complex vitamins along with C. When one has sufficient levels of B and C, he or she usually doesn’t crave sugar in the first place so the vicious cycle of escalating sugar consumption never gets started..."

05.10.2010: Audition Action

Never mind American Idol:
"...The Youth Chorus will be conducting a local talent search for youth ages 8-18 who are interested in becoming a part of our award-winning choirs. Auditions will be held throughout the summer for the 2010-2011 season, with rehearsals beginning in August. Contact us to schedule an audition.

Singers are asked to come prepared to sing a short, unaccompanied piece of their choosing. Following the audition, singers may be placed in one of four choirs: Children’s Chorus, Concert Choir, Chorale or Youth Chorale. The The Youth Chorus sponsors choirs through out the Capital City.

Please visit our website for more information..."

05.07.2010: Who Doesn't Love A Sale?

Got this in the emailbag from a danceware supplier:
"...Wow! We have reached 20,000 Facebook Fans. To show our appreciation we are giving you 20% off all orders!...20% off on all order before May 9th. Use code '20fab' at checkout for discount."
Check it out at Just For Kix.

05.07.2010: Hula Kahiko E Hula Auwana

Checking one of my old hometown newspapers and this dance quote just seemed so apropos, I had to share it...even if it isn't from a classical dancer:
"..."I lose myself in the dance," she said. "When you're preparing up to that moment, you use your head a lot, overly analyzing and criticizing yourself. Then at that point (on stage), I turn the thinking off and go from the heart."..."
Reed the rest from the 2010 Merrie Monarch Hula Festival from the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.

05.07.2010: I Found My Thrill...

Are you "Nutrient dense"? Or just "dense"? (Kidding!o) Check this out.
"...Researchers in New Zealand have discovered that antioxidant-rich extracts of blueberries may counter the detrimental effect of excessive exercise.

Damage to muscle cells exposed to oxidative stress was significantly reduced when also exposed to doses of blueberry fruit extracts, according to findings published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research.

"In our study blueberry fruits were suggested as good candidates to combat muscle oxidative damage," wrote the researchers, led by Dr. Roger Hurst.

Blueberries, nature’s only "blue" food, are a rich source of polyphenols, potent antioxidants that include phenolic acids, tannins, flavonols and anthocyanins. The berries are said to have a number of positive health effects..."

05.07.2010: Audition Action

Triple-threats and triple-"treats" wanted:
"...Auditions for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat will be held at The Playhouse. Auditions for boys and girls ages 8 and up are 1:00 PM, Saturday, May 15. Youths do not need to prepare a song; a song will be taught at auditions. Boys' voices should be unchanged. Auditions for men and women ages 16 and up are 6:00 PM, Sunday, May 16. Adults auditioning must bring a prepared solo, 90 seconds or less in length; an accompanist will be provided. All auditions are open to the public; no one is pre-cast. Those auditioning are asked to arrive no earlier than one hour prior to auditions.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat contains roles for 17 men and 13 women, ages 16 and up, as well as a chorus of boys and girls, ages 8 and up. Among the special skills sought are street dancers, tumblers, and actors who can do tricks on BMX bikes, as well as an Elvis impersonator. Performances are July 16-Aug. 8. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is directed and choreographed by Karla Kash, with musical direction by Brenton Brown.

The Biblical saga of Joseph and his coat of many colors comes to vibrant life in the delightful musical parable Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat the first of many hits by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Set to an engaging cornucopia of musical styles, from country-western and calypso to bubble-gum pop and rock 'n' roll, this Old Testament tale emerges both timely and timeless.

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

05.06.2010: Excelsior!

Grateful CCDC parent sends in this contribution:
"...Thank you for all you do. You are such an inspiration to (my daughter) and so many of your students...."
...and here's another...
"...I found a great article on becoming excellent! Seems like you are helping our kids get there! (Not that I had any doubt.) Click here.

Thanks for all you do and offer for the dancers!..."

...In the Japanese martial art of Ju Do, my Sensei told me "you must fall a thousand times ten-thousand times, before you learn how to fall". This is because we had to submit to being thrown and "falling" before we could truly learn how to throw another. I guess the corollary for ballet would be "you must fall a thousand times ten-thousand times before you learn how best NOT to fall".

05.06.2010: Star-Crossed Lovers

Here's a cornucopia of reviews of my favorite ballet performed by my favorite ballet company in my favorite city:
"...the company is relying on the tried, true and occasionally transcendent for the closing revival of artistic director Helgi Tomasson's Romeo and Juliet,..."

Review from the San Francisco Chronicle


"...artistic director Helgi Tomasson has cooked up one of the finest productions of his Romeo and Juliet since it debuted here in 1994..."

Review from the San Jose Mercury News


"...Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson’s ROMEO AND JULIET is a superb conclusion to what has been an ultimately satisfying and artistically brilliant season at San Francisco Ballet...."

Review from the San Francisco Sentinel


05.05.2010: Dredging The 'Lake'

Interesting insights into the background of a ballet classic excerpted from a paper from the Princeton Princess, Lindy Vander Emmen:
"...Even within the original choreography, the theme of political conflict emerges. Deborah Jowitt, prominent dance critic, shows the similarities between the real world and the world of fantasy of Swan Lake. The actual political situation in Russia has ties to the action in the ballet. The dancers and choreographers were working in this climate, so they were obviously affected by it. In the ballet, Prince Siegfried celebrates his 21st birthday, when he comes of age. In 1890, the Tsarevitch Nicholas II also turned 21 (Why 18). Siegfried doomed Odette to life as a swan because he failed to identify her. His mistake cost Odette her only chance at freedom. His rash decision is analogous to the relationship between ruler and country. The young prince made the choice that doomed his love, all while shirking his responsibilities of finding a queen. At this time in Russia, the Tsar just died so the son took power and quickly got married. Jowitt argues that this ballet serves as a cautionary tale of a young prince who isn’t ready to lead (Why 19). This analogy compares Odette to Russia and Siegfried to the ruling system. This background is foundational for the use of Swan Lake to communicate a motive. More often than not, the ballet community focuses on the technique of the ballet and the precision of the roles to the original. The overlying message can get obstructed by the focus on pirouettes and plies. Instead, the focus should shift to the subjects like societal criticism. This element is present even in the original. In newer versions, different points are made, like the transition to gender equality.

Again, in the German version, significant developments in gender equality can be detected. In the first act, the women toast the mugs of alcohol along with the men (Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin). In earlier versions, the women fetch the glasses for their partners (Kirov Ballet). These actions show an acceptance into society that females traditionally were denied. By including women in classic celebrations, society affirmed women as contributors. Their place in society is strengthened. However, in other ballets, gender roles are completely reversed. In a version choreographed by Matthew Bourne, all of the swans are men (1992). These men have adapted choreography that features strong, bold moves like jumps and turns. Siegfried still is melancholic and doesn’t belong somehow. In this version, the Prince struggles with his sexuality before finally meeting the swan that pervaded his dreams. He falls in love with this swan. It is another tragic version in that both die. Neither is completely accepted by their culture: the other swans kill the main swan. Ironically, the isolation of the characters unites different cultures behind this ballet, argues dance critic David Roberts. He says, “...Swan Lake is universal in its appeal and accessible to all persons who know what it means to be misunderstood...and long for intimacy and relationship” (Roberts[EV2] ). The appeal to universal themes is essential to ballet; taking this concept one step further, this version changes the context of these themes. The classicalists should not scoff at these changes. Instead, this version is an inspiration of what ballet can accomplish.

In the Bourne version, the men are visibly men in dress and mannerisms. However, another all-male version takes a different approach. In a version by the Trockadero troupe, some of the men wear tutus. The men perform the women’s parts in a sometimes mocking way. In some parts of Swan Lake especially, this troupe presents a parody ballet. In the fifth scene, the corps, this time a group of male dancers, lowers their arms to a pose in a very abrupt manner (Trockadero). This mocks the exact way a corps sets its poses in classical versions. It pokes fun at the painful precision that the classical version of the ballet requires. Some instances of humor are even more blatant. At one point, one dancer kicks another over on stage. This version of parody ballet mocks the formality of their original counterparts. They make ballet more accessible through comedy. This is a situation where something silly does have significance. A “drag” version of a classical work obviously changes the message quite a bit. The new version distinguishes itself from the old classic[EV3] in gender roles, choreography, and costuming. These changes demonstrate a shift in societal attitude.

Furthermore, the two all-men versions distinguish themselves from each other. Both versions’ use of costuming reflects the tone of the relationships in the ballet. Trockadero interpretation makes the argument that men can take on the parts of women as women do, including their costuming and choreography. The men dance the women’s roles in the women’s garb. The Bourne version says the men can replace the women. It uses Tchaikovsky’s music to show power when all men dance the roles. Different choreography was made to feature a man’s strength and dance talents; also, different costumes were made for the corps especially to fit the male form. These changes have just as much significance to the ballet as a whole as the grand pas de deux of the original version. The changes should not be ignored or cast aside as playful experimentation. Rather, the message of gender roles should be considered. Traditionally, ballet has strict gender roles. The women wear skirts and dance on their toes while the men lift them. This standard should be challenged..."

05.05.2010: Ballet Bricks+Mortar

...And, if you're in the market for danceware, nothing like shopping local!
This month we are holding a sale on all regularly-priced dancewear and shoes.

Just come into the shop before May 15th to take advantage and save!

Don't forget, we also have a wide variety of rhinestones, trim, body glitter and makeup available to help make our dancers shine.

Thank you, and have a great recital season!!

The Theatrical Shop
Costumes, Dance Supplies, and Novelties Galore!

05.04.2010: Stock Up!

Are you poor? Or just tight-fisted? Unclench for this maybe?
DISCOUNT DANCE SUPPLY

Save an additional 20%
on ALL Capezio® tights!

Clearance and Sale items not included
Sale ends May 19th, 2010

Best Prices.
Best Selection.
Best Customer Service.
www.DiscountDance.com

05.03.2010: Re-Think Zinc!

Dang! Join me in buying a bulk order of zinc after you read this...
"...Daily supplements of zinc may reduce measures of anger and depression in young women. That’s what Japanese researchers found in a current study.

A daily supplement of 7 mg of zinc as zinc gluconate was associated with significant decreases in measures of anger-hostility and depression-dejection, scientists from Daigaku Junior College and Seitoku University reported in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. On the other hand, multivitamin supplements did not affect the mood state of women who participated in the study.

"Although our findings are preliminary and should be interpreted with caution, they may prompt further investigations to evaluate the relationship between zinc nutriture and mood states in women," wrote the researchers.

Zinc deficiency affects 30% of the world’s population, and mood swings are reportedly common symptoms of mild zinc deficiency. In order to test if zinc supplements could affect mood, the Japanese researchers recruited 30 young women and randomly assigned them to receive either multivitamins, or multivitamins, plus zinc, for 10 weeks.

The multivitamins were given to all to avoid vitamin deficiencies, and the supplement provided 50% of the Japanese recommended dietary allowances of vitamins A, D, B-1, B-2, B-12, niacin and folic acid.

At the end of the study, only women who received the additional zinc supplements showed significant increases in blood levels of zinc and reductions in scores of depression and anger.

Similar studies in lab animals showed that only females experienced increases in aggression levels when zinc-deficient, and the new data appears to support this anger-reducing effect in women following zinc supplementation, said the researchers.

"Our results suggest that zinc supplementation may be effective in reducing anger and depression," they concluded.

European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 64(3):331-333, 2010..."

04.30.2010: Performance Tip

Go to Party Hearty Central? This performance may be right up your alley! I know it fits into the typical college kid's budget!:
”…Poetic Rebound Performance Company will be performing a sneak preview of its current repertoire this Saturday, May 1st at 5 p.m. right on the Pentacrest on the UI campus. The company will be teaming up with the Undergraduate Dance Organization in the UI Dance Department to give an informal and impromptu performance outdoors. This performance is FREE and open to the public and all passersby. There will be no seating, so feel free to bring a lawn chair or blanket and a glass of iced tea and enjoy the beautiful weather along with some dance. We hope to see you there!

Thank you for your continued support. If you haven't already, please join our group on facebook to learn more about upcoming events and how you can get involved.

Nicole Morford
Artistic Director
Poetic Rebound Performance Company…”

04.29.2010: Minnesota Message

From the frozen north, a message in a bottle:
"...Hey! Sorry for the lack of communication on my part!

If you guys (or anyone for that matter) are still planning/able/want to come up for Sleeping Beauty, the new/corrected time for the show is 7:30pm on both Friday the 14th and Saturday the 15th. There is also a more contemporary-oriented performance at 2:00pm on Saturday, but it only contains a short excerpt of Sleeping Beauty... so I'd suggest a night show.

-SaintPauliBoy..."

04.29.2010: Sew, Sioux Me, Susie!

Yet another example of CCDC dancers being held to a higher standard. Check this out from an anonymous CCDC parent:
"...There are numerous reasons that I am glad that my daughter dances at CCDC, but one may have been under appreciated until I watched a fellow dance/hockey mom sew her daughter's pointe shoes during her son's hockey game. Thanks, Missy, for encouraging your dancers to do their own sewing..."
...And, what is that dancer from that other studio going to do when Mom's not around to sew those shoes for her? We're not just teaching dance technique here at CCDC, but, life lessons in self-sufficiency as well!

04.28.2010: Another Success Story!

We got the green light! We can now go official with the news that's been buzzing about the studio. The Capital City Dance Center "Wall of Fame" will be getting a new photo soon! Congrats to Catherine Wootten for being offered and accepting a paid position with the Minnesota Ballet for their 2010-2011 season! She'll be heading up to the Land of Ten-Thousand Lakes at the end of August to begin her first season as a professional dancer. This is a little more meaningful for me because I danced with the precursor company of MB long ago and far away. Catherine is like the prodigal daughter returning to the fold. So, I dug up an old Duluth Ballet sweatshirt I still had and presented her with it. Wear it with pride, Katya! You earned it! (BTW, she's looking for a summer nanny job before she heads up. Check the lobby bulletin board for details and spread the word!)

04.27.2010: Will Dance4$$$

"Poor, impoverished dancers" may be redundant, but, look at this:
"...Prairie Meadows Presents: Dance Off 2010!

~Regional Dance Competition for All Levels and Dance Styles Spotlighting the Best Talent From Tango to Tap, Ballroom to Ballet~

Enter your dance by May 15th for a chance to win $2500 in prizes!

It is no secret that we have some of the best dance talent this country has ever seen. Now is your chance to show off your skills. Whether you have had training or just enjoy dancing for fun, the 2010 Dance Off is for you. Individuals, teams and groups are all encouraged to enter. The tryouts are June 13 and the Finals event is on June 20, both at Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino. Plus - don't miss a special re-broadcast of the finals event on MC 22 Mediacom.

Click here for more information and to download an entry form!

ALSO - Become a Tryouts Judge on June 13. Visit the Site on the Judges Page to Download a Form Today. Deadline Extended to May 15. ..."

04.26.2010: Me In/On Me-dia Again!

Okay, I'm back on the bandwagon! If there was any doubt in my mind who the favorite in DWT*** should be, it was eliminated when Team Nicolerek took the floor for their sharp, torrid tango last week. Now comes crunch time, the last half of the season when the contenders seperate themselves from the pretenders and the soon-to-be-disappointed scramble to keep up with the anointed! Here's this old dancerz latest rankings:
  1. Team Nicolerek: Ruff, tuff Derek Hough must be thanking his lucky stars to have been paired up with such a gifted competitor! Easy on the eyes, sharp in the brain, The Pussycat Doll just needs to trust her performance experience and not be so hard on herself. Nicole returned to the top of the leader board with a polished gem of a routine! Where's the ten, Len?
  2. Team Evanna: I'm not as on-board with the Olympic Gold Medalist as some critics. He has natural line, but, still needs energy. His work ethic may continue the long line of Olympians to add the mirror-ball to their trophy cabinet.
  3. Team Erix: The Sideline Reporter will go only as far as Max's patience and choreography will take her. The video-packages make it clear that Erin loves "pushing his buttons", but, it'll take a joint effort to edge out a win at the end.
  4. Team Pamien: The Actress needs to be able to balance her strong characterization with choreography, foot-work with face-work. Pam's better than most people thought the Ex-Baywatch Babe would be, but, unless she concentrates more on the technique, the Queen of the Cougars will be on the prowl on her own once again.
  5. Team Ocheryl: The NFL Star has all the tools, but, so far has failed to deliver the goods. Maybe Chad Ocho Cinco should concentrate less on wooing professional partner Cheryl Burke and concentrate more on seducing the judges, audience and voting public.
  6. Team Louisey: The Comedienne has personality plus and has probably won a new legion of fans with her appearances on the show. (I'd never heard of Niecey Nash before, but, I'm a big fan now!) Her charisma and irrepressible joie de vivre has made her a star on her own, but, I'm not sure it'll be enough to keep her on the show. Unless her appeal to "big girls" everywhere is more successful than her turns on the dancefloor have been.
  7. Team Pavelkie: Enthusiasm makes up for a lot with The Bachelor, but, doesn't make up for enough. Jake needs to work on shoulders, upper body line and a crisper attack and focus. If you're a fan, don't worry. You can probably watch the perennial Reality TV fixture soon on Survivor, The Amazing Race or some other show. I'd actually ranked him higher, but, my rule of thumb now is to put the real "stars" finishing above "the fake stars".
...And, the voters finally listened to my appeal to reason and the Reality Mom is riding slowly off into the sunset. You have to empathize with the single mother of eight, but, some dancing doesn't deserve to be shown in front of 20-million viewers. This may be piling on the snark factor, but, I distinctly remember thinking "sack of potatoes" when I watched her last dance! Who's going to follow her this week? Despite my high ranking, only Team Pamien of the remaining dancers has been in the red spotlight twice. But, I think her fans will rally around to rescue her at least one more time. And, any of the bottom three would be a good bet to bounce.

04.23.2010: Future Buyer's Remorse?

I fell for it! I ordered some of those Robson kicks. Review upcoming, but, in case you don't wanna weight, here's how to get your own...and more:
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04.23.2010: Nina...and More!

Watch the character dancing in the background of this CNN report here. (Click on the video link!o) But, don't try this at home, kidz! These are trained professionals! You could blow out both knees!

04.22.2010: Dancers Wanted!

Doing auditions is the best way to get better at auditioning. You want to have the experience when a company you actually want to dance for comes along. Like this one next month from Complexions. Having seen this company and participated in their workshop when they last came through, I recommend only well-rounded dancers with strong classical, contemporary, lyrical and modern technique apply. And, remember to bring your charisma! Be good! Be memorable! Merde for audition!o)

04.21.2010: Sunscreen Is Our Friend

Got milk...colored skin? Are you white as rice? Trying to preserve your "syk skyllz skynn"? Then, read this:
"...(Courtesy Newswise) — It's never too early to start protecting yourself against sun damage, and if you are a teenage girl this message is especially important.

"Even one blistering sunburn can increase your risk of skin cancer. As few as five sunburns can double your risk of skin cancer," says Dr. Anjali Dahiya.

Teenage girls should be particularly careful, since melanoma, a potentially fatal skin cancer, is the most common cancer in young women between the ages of 25 and 29. Much of the damage from the sun in these young women will already have occurred in their teens.

"Sun exposure plays a significant role in the development of melanoma. Although more adults are using sunscreens during outdoor activities, many are unaware of how important it is to make sure that their children are getting the necessary skin protection," says Dr. Desiree Ratner.

Drs. Dahiya and Ratner recommend the following guidelines to help protect teens and tweens from the harmful effects of the sun:

  1. Use self-tanning creams. Tanning beds are not good for anyone. Teenagers and young adults looking to get that perfect tan should use tanning creams to get a safe summer glow.
  2. Be wary of freckles. If you develop freckles on your skin, this may be a sign of sustained sun damage. Freckles generally develop in sun-exposed areas such as the face, chest, and arms, and are more likely to develop in fair-skinned people with blonde or red hair.
  3. Apply sunscreen generously. Teens and tweens should apply sunscreen to the entire surface of their body about 30 minutes before going outside; if they are swimming, they should reapply once they are out of the water. Be sure the SPF of the sunscreen is 30 or higher, and that it has both UVA and UVB blocking ingredients.
  4. Minimize exposure to the sun. In addition to applying sunscreen, everyone should be guarding against the sun with hats, sunglasses and umbrellas when appropriate..."

04.21.2010: Lasting Impressions

CCDC dancers apparently making quite an impression, even with the competition, at this year's auditions. Check this recent inquiry from our contact page:
"...Hello, I have a strange request, we live in the ____ area and my daughter auditioned w/a girl named ______ at the PNB audition in KC and at the SFB audition in Chicago (we didn't get a last name). I am wondering if this girl dances @ your studio (I thought she said it was Capital City). If she does, could I get her parents # to find out if she is going to SFB this summer? My daughter...is and would like to room with ______ if possible, they seemed to get along well. Thank you for any info..."
...Turns out it is a CCDC student and, after we got the approval, forwarded the contact information.

04.20.2010: Plumbing Swan Lake

Finally! A reply to a CCDC alum:
"...Hey, Lindy Vander Emmen! This is off the top of my head. I assume you have researched this, so, I won't replicate what you've probably already done. These are my general musings:
Swan Lake is considered "la blanc du blanc", the "whitest" of the "white ballets". Those are the classical ballets with a "corps de ballet" dressed all in white tutu: these are Giselle, The Sleeping Beauty, Don Quixote, and a few others. But, chief among these is the ballet that has become almost synonymous with ballet, La Lac du Cygnes or Swan Lake.

There are two main versions of SL. In the first, the most traditional, Prince Siegfried and Odette die in the end, only to be reunited in the after-life. But, some choreographers have rejected the temporary triumph of evil and have versions where the dread Sorcerer Rothbart is defeated and he winds up drowned in the lake of Odette's mom's tears, the very body of water the ballet takes its name from.

In most versions, there is only one Black Swan. She is Odile, Rothbart's own daughter who seduces the Prince into betraying his vows to the White Swan Queen. But, in the version choreographed by Georgi Balanchivadze, better known in the west as George Balanchine, there is a corps of black swans. Balletomanes have speculated it was an act of defiance by the master choreographer. Balanchine had rejected many of the traditions of his own Russian classical training. The story goes that he had resisted choreographing his own version of the classic ballet and when finally talked into it, he put in a legion of Black Swans to tweak the hoary tradition.

Other choreographers have also thumbed their noses at the legacy of the centuries-old ballet. Mathew Bourne created quite a stir at the time when he challenged the traditional gender roles and cast a corps of male dancers as the flock of swans. This is the version you might have seen at the end of the movie Billy Elliot. The new twist proved to be quite a success at the box-office. Other take-offs or satires of Swan Lake include Frank Oz and his Muppets' Swine Lake and the gender-spoofing performed by Ballet Trockadero and other similar companies that have men-dressed-as-women and Swan Drag-Queens.

On the surface of Swan Lake, one finds a tale of love found, love lost, betrayal and love ultimately triumphant over the power of death and/or evil. But, beneath the surface of the lake, the psychological under-pinnings can run deep. The Odette/Odile duality can be analyzed as part of the classic Freudian Whore/Madonna conflict, agape versus erotic love. Feminists, perhaps, can criticize the defeat of the confident, brazen, sexually-empowered Odile and the triumph of the "victimized", enchanted pale, wan Odette who is rescued by a white male scion of a patriarchal hierarchy. But, the ballet is a product of the times it emerged from and reinforces the mores of the era. It can be considered a quaint relic...or a celebration of more traditional values depending on one's politics. (Those criticisms are often generally levied at the entire ballet art-form as well.)

Nevertheless, the Odette-Odile role is considered to be the highest test of those aspiring to "prima ballerina assoluta" status. The ability to master the considerable technical and dramatic demands over the four acts is the acid test of a dancer's prowess. The Black Swan's 32-fouette's in the Ballroom scene is a tour de force that reveals any weaknesses in a ballerina's ability. I had the privilege of being on stage with a living National Treasure of Japanese ballet during Ballet Hawai'i's staging of Swan Lake under the artistic direction of Yasuki Sasa. Yoko Morishita's 32 fouette's were extraordinary! She had such control at the time that the fouette's often morphed into single, single, double, triple pirouettes in the body of the turns!

And, her balances were so strong that Yasuki confided in us that on one long arabesque balance en pointe, Ms Morishita would deliberately pretend to struggle with her balance and regain it just to show the audience how difficult the move really was to most dancers! But, perhaps what I remember most about Japan's living National Treasure was her ability to grow on stage. Yoko-San was just a petite thing, a slip of a woman at barely five feet. I thought I towered over her at my "majestic" five-feet, seven inches! But, on stage during her Black Swan variation, I distinctly remember looking up at her. I recall thinking how odd it was that even when she was in fifth position flat as I stood in the corps, she pulled up so tall and proud and regal that I watched in amazement as I had to focus upwards to look at her. To this day, I don't know how she did that and I never, ever had a similar experience during a long career on stages around the country. Balletomanes share similar stories about dancers they have watched and enjoyed as Odette/Odile: Makarova, Gregory, Fonteyn, for example. This is why the dual role of Swan Lake is considered the ultimate test for the classical ballerina. And, the chance for future audiences to share in such amazement is one reason Swan Lake still deserves to survive for even more centuries...."

04.19.2010: More 'Me' in 'Media'

When I was a young pup and beginning my serious training as a dancer, I wanted to try to become a "triple-threat": a dancer/actor/singer/. (Probably in that order of proficiency!o) I'd been in a college musical, even in a choir once. So, I signed up for private voice lessons from the music director of that musical. But, after a few lessons, she sighed and looked at me and said, "Stick to dancing!" Now, I may be a little slow at times, but, when the person you're paying hard-earned money to to make you a better singer tells you to 'stick to dancing'...well, I got the message! Singing in the shower may still have been in my future, but, trying to sing for money wasn't going to pay many bills. What I'm trying to say, in my own convoluted way, is that while everyone may have a singer inside of them, some of those singers are way, waaaay hidden and don't deserve to be heard! And, while I still believe that everyone is a dancer, some of those dancers don't deserve to be trying to "cut a rug" in front of millions of people on DWT***! So, in the kindest possible way, all I'm trying to say is...(WARNING: SNARK ALERT! Impressionable young minds should take their eyeballs elsewhere!o) WHAT ARE YOU THINKING, AMERICA? VOTE KATE OFF THE SHOW A.S.A.P! Dancing reveals personality and the bundle of neuroses that is the Reality Mom shouldn't be stripped so bare while trying to trip the light fantastic. Okay, she was marginally better this past week, but, she's not a performer and is an inhibited dancer at best. So, in the fairest, most objective way I can put this: VOTE TEAM KATONY OFF THE SHOW! I think the show actually needs to institute a 'vote against' instead of 'voting for'. To paraphrase the old song: "Accentuate the negative, eliminate the positive". Whatever it takes to keep her off the show for a Lifetime. As for the rest of the dancers, how quickly the mighty have fallen! The mighty Team Nicolerek has been relegated to runner-up status the last two weeks, right after those incredible tens in week two! But, I still think this is part of "ruff, tuff, Derek Hough's" master plan! It's like a tactical race, easier to come from behind at the end than lead wire-to-wire. He's thinking "let the rabbit set the pace", but, pour it on strong to win the race. It's easier to vote for the glamorous Pussycat Doll when she's an underdog rather than top dog. (BTW, does anyone else remember her first reality show? When she won a compeition to become part of the late, lamented Eden's Crush?) Look how the Team Pamien has moved from red-light special to third place on the leader board! Of course, it helps that Pam Anderson is actually capitalizing on her acting experience with an emerging dance ability. And, if Ocho Cinco can harness his non-stop natural flirtatiousness, his volatile chemistry with professional partner Cheryl Burke could explode into points on the leaderboard. Comedienne Niecy Nash hasn't brought enough of her larger-than-life personality and charisma to the dancefloor. Team Pavelkea is a touch better, but, you have to balance emotional attack with technique. Falling and stumbling won't help you with judges nor voting audience. But, keep your eye on the ESPN Sideline Reporter! I think Team Erix is set to have a break-through performance to take her turn at the top. But, Team Evanna just keeps delivering good performances and good scores. Will strong and steady win the race? As for this week's shows, I'm hoping+praying America's fickle infatuation with Kate Gosselin will end ASAP! (End Snark Alert)

04.16.2010: Jazz Shoe Sale

Am I fashion-illiterate? Or fashionably literate? Is it just me? Is this a good buy on good shoes? Or good bye to bad kicks?
Power Sneaker Sale!
While Supplies Last!

Styles:
7728, 7720, 7712, 7729, 7714, 7717, 7716

Best Prices. Best Selection. Best Customer Service.
1 800 328 7107

www.DiscountDance.com

04.16.2010: Performance Tip

If you're in the area...
"...Poetic Rebound Performance Company will perform a sneak peak of its current repertoire at the New Bohemia Group's Eco Fest this Saturday in Cedar Rapids. This year, the company will perform new works choreographed by Charlotte Adams and Analia Alegre-Femenias among other new and re-staged works by guest artists and company members.

PRPC is a non-profit modern dance company with an emphasis on community outreach and a goal of making concert dance more accessible and integrated into the artistic and greater communities. The company will perform withinside, an evening of original modern dance, locally and state-wide throughout the months of April and May. Please show your support for professional dance. To find out more about the company and other ways to get involved, join Poetic Rebound's group on facebook.

Please spread the word, invite your friends, and hang some flyers!

PRPC thanks you for your continued support..."

04.16.2010: Audition Action

Guess who might be coming for dinner? It could be you!
"...Auditions for Don't Dress For Dinner will be held at The Playhouse at 6:00 P.M. on Sunday, Apr. 25. All auditions are open to the public; no one is pre-cast.

Don't Dress For Dinner contains feature roles for three men and women ages 20 and up. Performances are June 11-27. Don't Dress For Dinner is directed by Kathy Pingel.

Bernard is planning a weekend with his chic, Parisian mistress. He has arranged for a cordon bleu cook to prepare gourmet delights, is packing his wife Jacqueline off to her mother's, and has even invited his best friend, Robert, to provide the alibi. What could go wrong?

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

04.15.2010: Pointe of Interests

If you haven't bookmarked this website yet, what're you waiting for? Lotta good info for dancers from Pointe Magazine. Here are some quick clicks from my last surfari: blog posts or articles on learning professionalism, pointers on pirouettes en pointe, advice learned from a master class, pointe work, staying in shape on break and more on pirouettes.

04.14.2010: Performance Possibility

Coming soon to a theatre near you!
"...Tallgrass Theatre Presents Death and the Maiden by Ariel Dorfman Directed by Ron Gilbert

Death and the Maiden is a complex psychological battle of wills between a woman and the man she believes to have tortured her during her days as a prisoner of her country’s former government. Trouble begins when Paulina’s husband Gerardo’s car breaks down and a seemingly friendly stranger, Dr. Miranda, provides Gerardo with a ride home. Paulina claims to recognize Dr. Miranda's voice and accuses him of torturing her. Dr. Miranda denies knowledge of such events, but Paulina is determined to have her revenge. Gerardo is caught in the middle, forced to decide if his wife is telling the truth or reacting irrationally due to her past trauma. The shifts in power between the three inevitably raise issues of justice and revenge.

Performances
7:30 p.m. (note change in start time from previous seasons) Fridays and Saturdays April 16 – May 1

Location
Rex Mathes Auditorium

More info here..."

04.14.2010: Other Arts Happenings

Insight into the "mined" of an artist:
"...(April 2010) – The Art Center is proud to present the next in its series of Conversations on Art with renowned artist Kerry James Marshall. Marshall will deliver a public lecture about his work and give audiences a sneak preview of A Monumental Journey, a proposed public sculpture commission that commemorates the Capital City as the origin of the National Bar Association, the oldest and largest national association of predominately African-American lawyers and judges. This free lecture will take place in Levitt Auditorium at The Art Center on Thursday, April 29 at 6:30 pm.

Marshall has received numerous honors, including a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, and is well known for his striking, large-scale paintings that mine African-American history. In conjunction with this lecture, The Art Center is exhibiting Marshall’s major painting, Lost Boys (1993) on loan from the Principal Financial Group April 13-July 31..."

04.13.2010: Post From Princeton Princess

Well, well, well...looks like "eblackmail" works after all! Here's evidence from CCDC Alum Lindy Vander Emmen:
"...I beg for forgiveness! I am just getting into the heavy duty research for the paper now, and I really was wanting to ask for your (and Missy's) input. I really am not into the Twitter thing and am rather reliant on Facebook for my communication. But I'll be better now! For this paper, I've been watching many Odettes flutter about. I watched the Trockadero version and greatly enjoyed it. Could you pretty please pass along that wonderful information you hinted to?

As far as an update on my life, I've been keeping up with ballet classes. They're actually moving the studio to a building closer to my dorm next year, so hopefully I will be able to dance even more! I also plan on auditioning for TapCats in the fall. As their name might suggest, they tap. Classes wise I am taking psychology (and loving it), macroeconomics (not as much love here), a writing seminar on globalism (which the paper is for!), Reform and Revolution in Chile (with an amazing professor who was actually in Chile for a lot of the action), and Spanish. I actually am going to be in Spain studying Spanish for a bit this summer. The bad news is that I will not be able to physically attend recital. Which I really am quite sad about. But from what I've heard, rehearsals have been great and it will be fabulous as usual. The good news is that I plan to come back and use even less coherent English!

Right now, I'm quite bogged down with work; the papers keep coming! Next weekend I am going to go to New York City with friends and visit the Met and shop around. It's been almost two months since I've been to the city and I've missed it dearly. All in all, things are busy and hectic as usual, but I'm starting to find more of a home at Princeton. I hope things are going swimmingly at the studio, and I would love an update as well as delightful Swan Lake information!..."

...Wow! Now, I feel like a politician who actually wins an election! (Hey, (Insert your own humorous political reference here!o)) Looks like I'll have to try to deliver on all my vague promises now. Watch for that dive into Swan Lake soon! (What's your drop-dead deadline?)

04.12.2010: DWT*** Conspiracy Theory

You can't convince me that "ruff, tuff, Derek Hough" didn't deliberately lose last week's "battle" to try and "win the war" in Week 3 of DWT***. Or, in this case, win the title. Instead of trying to sheperd Scherzinger to the mirrorball trophy by leading "wire2wire", I suspect he threw last week's competition for several reasons: to take the pressure off the perfectionist Pussycat Doll, to appeal to the voters more by positioning the 'Cat as more of an "underdog" and to motivate the highly competitive singer/performer to work even harder to regain the top of the leaderboard. His choreography, replete with broken holds and a gender-bending lift, was deliberately designed to flout the fabled "Len Commandments" and calculated to produce negative comments from each of the judges. (It worked! And, Nicole still only slipped to a tie for second!o) Watch out, Team Evanna! Enjoy your brief visit to the top of the 'board. Because you're being set-up for a fall. The Olympic Gold-Medalist is an excellent dancer and cuts quite the dashing figure on the dancefloor. BUT, his total commitment to performance is still lacking. Something a little tentative there. Should be interesting to see how tonight's performance scores reflect that as opposed to the purely technical scores. And, the other actors/actresses/singers/comedienne should all benefit from the extra performance input. And, I think The Sideline Reporter has a natural personality that will score well. But, the non-performers and the athletes may find themselves suffering with this added score. Who should go? I still think the Reality Mom is sleep-walking through her so-called performances. Put her on the endangered species list for this week's elimination.

04.12.2010: We Love Free Shipping!

Been waiting to order from www.DiscountDance.com? Got this limited time offer in the email:
"...FREE GROUND SHIPPING!

Receive FREE ground shipping when you purchase $75 or more.
(Not Inc Shipping and Tax Charges)

Use code SHP3DAPR at checkout.

Offer valid until Tuesday April, 13th, 2010

www.DiscountDance.com..."

04.09.2010: 4Saken+4Gotten!

Here's a plea for help from another recent CCDC alumnus via the director of the CCDC Young Childrens Division:
"...I've just been keeping in touch with Lindy Vander Emmen.

She's writing a paper right now on Swan Lake. So if you have any ideas for her, please let her know.

Here's what she wrote:

'I am writing a paper about different adaptations of Swan Lake, so actually if you have any sources or ideas for me, I would really appreciate them!'..."
...Well, too bad that Lindy doesn't actually write and ask me herself!o) If she had actually "keep in touch" with me, I might've written and told her about the two main versions of Swan Lake. And, I could've suggested an amusing aside about the gender differences introduced by late 20th Century choreographers. Perhaps an insightful comment about the Balanchine version of the ballet classic. I could have tossed in an amusing anectdote or two from when I actually performed the Third Act Swan Lake variations on stage with an international superstar of ballet at the time. I could actually break down the psychological aspects of the 'Ho/Madonna duality of the Odette/Odile pointe and counter-pointe...and, no, I'm not talking about Guy Ritchie's ex! But, alas, no updates, no letters, no tweets from the Princeton Princess!o(I'm just not into that whole Facebook thing!) Too bad she doesn't just click here and personally beg for forgiveness and for a little input. (In exchange for a loong and detailed update on her fast passing freshman year, of course!) But, no! Don't worry about me! I try and keep myself busy, if not forsaken. (Sob!) I'll be tossing myself into a lake of my own mother's tears if anyone's interested...(Sigh!)...if anyone cares... (Big sniff!)...If anyone remembers me at all once they leave...(Sob!)...I guess it would help if I actually wrote back to everyone I owe an e-mail to...(Sniff!)...But, why, oh why, let the facts get in the way of a priceless pity party! (Sob!)...Where was I? ...Oh, yes...NO one EVER writes me! Umm...I mean...no one GOOD ever writes me!o)...(Just KIDDING, StPauliGrrl!o)

04.08.2010: Info U Should Know

It goes with our frequent saying, but, here's the Tip of the Month from the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries:
"...Core muscle strength is important to long term health of the dancer’s body and for injury-free, peak-performance. The body’s core muscles are those that are located in the body’s trunk region. These muscles can be categorized as either local stabilizers or global mobilizers. Local stabilizers include the muscles of the pelvic floor, the transverse abdominus, the diaphragm, and the lumbar multifidi. Together these muscles coordinate to act to as an internal back brace, stabilizing the lumbar spine and pelvis. Weakness in any of these muscles can compromise core control and increase one’s vulnerability for musculoskeletal injury. Studies have shown that neuromuscular control of these local stabilizing core muscles is altered after injury and that successful rehabilitation will require that they be specifically re-trained. ..."
...Visit their website to sign up for their monthly newsletter. And, take that CCDC Saturday morning Pilates class if you know what's good for ya!o) And, check out their site for specific recommended cross-training exercises for dancers.

04.07.2010: So U Think U Can Tamper With The Routine

Be still my dancing heart! Nigel Lythgoe tweets that one of my favorite dancers, Allison Holker, will be a member of the All-Star Crew on the next SYTYCD. That's a follow-up to his revelation that SYTYCD will change to ten contestants who dance with professional partners from previous seasons. So, who's on your wish list to see perform again? Katee, Danny, Travis, Hok, Ryan are on my list and just off the top of my head. Check this chance to catch up on another favorite who seems to be too busy to participate again:
"...Benji Schwimmer was season 2 Winner of So You Think You Can Dance and currently works in the entertainment industry as a choreographer, actor, dancer and writer. He is the creative director for Paula Abdul and is currently producing and starring in the film Debonair, slated for release in late 2010. Benji also will be co-starring in the comedy Leading Ladies for a 2010 release.

Date: Workshop will be held the evening of April 9th, 2010 in Rochester, MN.

Location: Rochester, MN at the Rochester Community and Technical College

Cost: The Cost is $38..."

...Also, have to admit I fell for @DizzyFeet's April Fool's tweet that Paula Abdul would be part of their All Star Kru! I started figuring it out he was pulling our legs when he followed up with tweets that Simon Cowell and, finally, Randy Jackson would participate as professional dance partners! Good one, Nigel! Good one! Speaking of Randy, have you (Poreotix!) voted (Poreotix!) in the ABDC final yet? (Poreotix!) Then, (Poreotix!) head to MTV.Com and vote (Poreotix?) for your favorite. (Poreotix!)

04.06.2010: GLEEful Announcement

The show about show choir returning soon. Check out this from FoxTV:
"...DON'T MISS A MINUTE OF THE TOO-BIG-TO-MISS "GLEE" SPRING PREMIERE!
TUE APR 13
at 9:28/8:28c

GLEEks won't want to miss a minute of the highly anticipated spring premiere of GLEE when it airs at a special time on Tuesday, April 13 at 9:28/8:28c after AMERICAN IDOL! In the premiere, New Directions begins working on new numbers for Regionals, but when Rachel and Finn's budding romance hits a bump in the road, it threatens to derail the entire club. Then, when GLEE returns to its regularly scheduled time of 9/8c on Tuesday, April 20, get ready to see The Power of Madonna. Mr. Schuester looks to Madonna and her musical message of equality in hopes that the girls embrace her strength, independence and confidence and that the guys will see the error of their misogynistic ways.

But before GLEE returns, you can join the countdown celebration and be a part of GLEEk week starting today! Check out FOX.com/glee to see an exclusive trailer or to find out how YOU can audition to be a part of the second season of GLEE. And don't forget to show everyone you're a GLEEk by going to Facebook to upload a photo of yourself posing with GLEE's signature loser "L" or a video explaining why you're the biggest GLEEk!

Watch the exclusive trailer!..."

04.06.2010: Whee! Get Feedback!

Apparently I'm not the only one who felt watching the Reality Mom dance was like "nails on a blackboard"...
"...I agree that Kate was so painful to watch that I prayed for it to be over. It makes me sad people judge based solely on popularity. Shannon wasn’t great but she was far superior to Kate...."
...Agree? Disagree? Here's where to submit feedback!o)

04.05.2010: Monday Morning Musings

Now, the speculation can begin on whether the Pussycat Doll can lead from wire-to-wire. Correct me if I'm wrong, but, I don't think any other DWT*** winner has scored so big, so early as Nicole Scherzinger. Nines the first week, tens the second week? That's unheard of, but, well-deserved in my book! I'm being told that even Brooke Burke faltered from the lead once or twice in her "run for the roses". (And, speaking of Burke, we were still trying to figure out why former co-host Samantha Harris was no longer on the show. So, we googled it and got some input from Helium.Com, Entertainment Weekly, Celebrity Café and BestSyndication.Com. The articles seem to indicate Harris left of her own volition.) The big wild card, as usual, remains the notoriously fickle voting public. Witness the unusual-in-my-eyes dismissal of the 90210 Star in the first elimination. It seems like Moon-Walker will be the Jerry Springer of this season. Remember when the Schlock-Show Host was begging to be voted off near the end? So, here are my unofficial rankings heading into Week Three. Just keep in mind that the sympathy vote may prolong our agony of 'da feet before the fickle fans come to their senses.

  1. Team Nicolerek: Nicole's the class of the field and "ruff, tuff Derek Hough" has proven he can coach and choreograph a gifted star to the title. Now to see if she has what it takes to lead from wire-to-wire.
  2. Team Evanna: Evan has enough technical chops and performance experience to challenge the Pussycat Doll, but, he seems surprisingly tentative. I think he won his gold by practicing two routines for years. He may be a little out of his element at learning and rehearsing so quickly. The question is how quickly he can adapt to this specialized competition format.
  3. Team Erix: Erin stepped up her game this week. She proved she has the gumption to stand up to Max with her crack about not being able to find his bicep (Ooooh, SNAP! Good one, Erin!) If she can control those long gorgeous gams and arms, she'll be in the conversation at the end.
  4. Team Louicey: I love Niecey Nash! What a personality! What a smile! When she dances, the whole world is a brighter and better place! Her professional partner has to WORK not to be over-shadowed by her charismatic presence! Her presence and personality alone will make her a contender with the voting public! I could just as easily have moved her as high as second just on the strength of her smile alone!
  5. Team Charyl: Chad (85) just needs to unleash his flirtatious personality and winning smile to the dance floor to become a true contender. He looks great in a suit, but, he's thinking too much about the routine and not inhabiting the steps.
  6. Team Pamien: Her strength on the dance floor is as an actress (Pam Anderson an actress? Who knew?) She channeled her inner Norma Jean to bring a little flair to her fox trot. The next task of bringing a story to the routine may allow her to maximize her little-known assets.
  7. Team Pavelsea: Is this guy a professional reality show fixture? What's his next gig? Flexing his biceps on Jersey Shore? He did manage to step up his dance game a little this last time out, but...he should be free to audition for the Incredible Race or Survivor soon.
  8. Team Aidyta: The Soap Star lacks body awareness and sense of line. His frame was better, but, his shoulders need to pull back and down. He's a charmer and a rogue, but, he's not a dancer.
  9. Team Bashley: Sympathy vote will keep The Astronaut around longer than he deserves. But, you can make the argument that he's being honored for his past, other-worldly accomplishments. I hope at eighty, I'm half as spry and lucid. Don't think of voting him off as a sign of disrespect! Vote him off so he can spend more time dancing with his great-grand-kids!
  10. Team Katony: Put her and me out of her misery...please! Watching her dance is like watching books being burned or paintings being defiled. The judges have it right when they criticize her for not being a performer, athlete or star on her own abilities beyond having babies and adopting kids. Usually actors have proven charisma, athletes are proven performers. The Reality TV Participant gives dancing mannequins a good name!

..And in other media, Poreotics faces off against Blu Print Cru in the ABDC finals on MTV this week. Hype 5-0 outlasted my expectations, but, they always seem to dance with a little desperation to me. As if they were seeking respect and didn't truly believe they deserved to be on the same national stage as the rest of the mainland danzers. I'm going to have to cast my vote for Poreotics. They bring a sense of humor and intelligence to their dancing and choreography that's lacking in a lot of the competitors. But, can't go wrong with BPC either! They're all well-trained and tight and represent hip-hop north of the border well. But, as someone who also has symptoms of ABD* disorder, I have to support my fellow sufferers. (*Asian Booty Deficit disorder!o)
...Also on MTV's, Taking The Stage has one dancer struggling between an offer to expand his dance role in a movie versus dancing a lead in his high-school musical. To me that's a no-brainer. Take the paying gig and put it on your resume'. I had to make a similar decision back when I was dancing in college. I auditioned for Nutcracker for the first time and got a part, had to drop out of a college production. I probably didn't handle it well and burnt more than a few bridges, but, I'd do it again in a heartbeat. Just, hopefully, with a little more tact next time.

04.02.2010: Performance Tip

Got this note in the e-mailbag:
"...Don't forget to come check out Poetic Rebound Performance Company's performance at the Sondheim Center, as part of Art Walk in Fairfield. The show starts (tonight), April 2nd, at 8 p.m. and will feature a variety of acts and groups from the area. This year, the Art Walk is pairing with Lord's Cupboard for a canned food drive, so if you bring non-perishable items, your ticket price will be just $3. Otherwise, admission is $5.

Then join us on Saturday, April 3rd for a master class with the company at Morning Star Studio, from 10:30-12 p.m. The cost is $10 and includes a free PRPC t-shirt. Come take an awesome technique class and dance alongside the company!!

Hope to see you this weekend and thank you for your continued support.

Nicole Morford
Artistic Director
Poetic Rebound Performance Company

P.S. Be sure to join our group on facebook! ..."

04.01.2010: Web Dancing

Was looking for an article I was tweeted about on strengthening exercises for dancers with scoliosis from Dance Teacher Magazine. (Looking out4ya, 2S!o) Didn't find that, but, found some interesting resources on cross-training for dancers, stretching tips video, and here's an article on the same subject, here's a chance to win a free cross-training DVD and here's some advice for male dancers. The whole site could be worth a bookmark...and I'll keep looking for that other article.

03.31.2010: So You Think You Can Change The Show?

A provocative series of tweets coming from the producer of SYTYCD recently. Nigel Lythgoe is shaking up the tried-and-true formula. @DizzyFeet says there will only be a top ten, not a top twenty field of contestants when the next season kicks off. And, only one dancer will be eliminated each week. He explains that each competitor will be paired with one All-Star dance specialist from a previous season each week. Twitch, for example, will be the hip-hop specialist for the coming season. The unveiling of more names will take place over the next few weeks. The SYTYCD couples will change up each week. What do you think about that? Here, here and here are some opinions.

03.31.2010: Audition Action

For all you aspiring "diminuitive damsels", this could be the vehicle for you!
"...Auditions for Little Women will be held at The Playhouse at 6:00 P.M. on Sunday, Apr. 11. All auditions are open to the public; no one is pre-cast. Little Women is produced by the Terrace Hill Foundation as part of its Victorian Voices series.

Little Women contains feature roles for four men, ages 16 and up, and seven women, ages 14 and up. Performances are June 3-13 at Terrace Hill. Little Women is directed by Mike Kellar.

Little Women is based on the book by Louisa May Alcott, and follows the adventures of the March sisters, Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy.

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

03.30.2010: Northern Lights

What a co-inky-dink! Not long after bemoaning a lack of updates from up north, along comes an illuminating message from Princess SarAurorah!! Here are some pertinent excerpts:
"...I just finished my run of five performances of Saint Paul City Ballet's "Reimaginings" at the Ritz Theater in Minneapolis. I'm happy to say that all went well! No one had any severe mishaps, and I feel good about every performance...

...My mom came to every show! She seems to be our company's number one fan. My dad told me that this was the best he's ever seen me dance. Everyone commented on how happy I looked to be dancing for an audience full of friends and family. And it's true, this was one of the most memorable weekends of my life. The company has really bonded, and everyone gets along with each other...

...I couldn't have asked for a better environment. Everyone is friendly and supportive while still giving great feedback and criticism...I feel that my opinion is valued even though I am by far the youngest company member. I'm getting great corrections in class too. I'm being told that my biggest obstacles are dancing in my heels, rolling in on my feet (yes, I know that that's a turnout thing, and I'm working on getting those muscles up there at the tops of my legs), speed of my releve (which is a foot strength issue), and engaging a certain quad muscle that will allow me to straighten my legs that last 15%. But I feel like the teachers and artistic directors/dancers here have a lot of faith in my potential, and I know I have tons of room to grow, but I think I'm getting stronger both in technique and in artistry...

...I realized that I really need to work on my performance quality as well, after working with very experienced professional dancers. I thought that was something that came pretty naturally to me, but after watching the older dancers I see that I have a long way to go. Ted keeps telling me I need to get out of the classroom and start making things my own. Also, musicality is still a problem for me, because I seem to hear everything about a half a count later than everyone else (surprise!). But I'm looking forward to growing and improving while I'm with the company... ...In a week we'll be starting rehearsals for Sleeping Beauty. I'll be doing the Lilac Fairy for 2 performances, which includes both her big variations and a bunch of acting. The other 2 shows I'll be doing Diamond Fairy. The other dancer I'm splitting with has about 10 years of experience on me, plus she's done Lilac before, but we've become quite close, so I'm sure she'll help me out. I'm really looking forward to doing this role! Anyway, the shows went extremely well, and everyone was happy with the results. This has been one of the most rewarding things I've done, and definitely the best birthday I've had in a long time!

...I definitely made the right decision to come here, and everything worked out better than I could have hoped. I'd like to thank both of you for everything you taught me about dance, about how to deal with people, and about how to deal with myself. Without you I would not have been prepared to work with a professional company..."

03.29.2010: Putting the Me in Media

Oh well, nevah mind! Once they hit the hardwood, a lotta upsets, mistakes and missed takes...and, no, I'm NOT talking about the NCAA Basketball Tourney! I'm talking about the real "big dance": Dancing With The Stars Season X!. But, you know all that "expert analysis" I made last week before the premiere of DWT***? Fuggeddaboudit! I fell for all that blogosphere hype (which I helped start) for the ESPN Sideline Reporter. Sure, Erin Andrews has great line and evidence of some dance training, but, her shoulders are too hunched and those long arms and legs can seem a little spastic and outta control at times. (No wonder it's her sister that's the professional dancer!) Still she does have what's called a "lotta upside" and should have many weeks to improve. And, the Olympic Gold Medalist only partially delivered on another ton of potential. Evan Lysacek also has great lines and looks at-home and de-boner in a tuxedo. But, there was something a little tentative in his performance that puts a little question mark on his contender status. Number 85 was also under-whelming. As was the Queen of Cougars despite her decent scores. Pam Anderson may be trying to still sell the sizzle, but, that steak's well over-done. But, who over-delivered? I'd have to say The Pussycat Doll. Nicole Scherzinger knocked it outta the park with the judges and with this viewing audience! Who gets nines their first time outta the gate? She was excellent in her Viennese Waltz, but, I'm expecting her to be even better in the Latin dances! That's when her "hip-hoppin' and bootie poppin'" experience will come in handy. And, that singer sure knows how to amp up the sexy and sultry when she needs to! And, I'm gonna guess that it's the Moon Walker that gets the "moon boot" and gets jettisoned from the show! Nothing against the authentic American Hero, but, "the buzz" about Aldrin is that his mission's going to be aborted! So, okay, here's my unofficial "anointed" and "soon-to-be-disappointed" list:

First, the anointed, in no particular order: The Pussycat Doll, The Ice-Skater and The Sideline Reporter.

Second, the "soon to be disappointed": The Astronaut, The Soap Star, The Reality Mom, The Baywatch Babe and 90210 Star.

...Everyone else falls into the "wait and see" group. 85, The Bachelor and The Comedienne (Naicey Nease whose larger-than-life personality and personal appeal to every "woman of size" should get her more than a fistful of votes!) That's the "big dance" as I see it! Feedback welcome!o)

03.29.2010: Us Glimpsus Alumnus

This anonymous contribution comes no doubt comes from a proud relative of our Sleepy Kewtie:
"Here's a nice piece about Saint Paul City Ballet with some video..."
...and who is that familiar-looking dancer who just celebrated a birthday you can see lurking in the background? And, why isn't she listed on their website? And, why, oh why, doesn't she ever write? (Big Sigh!o) She's forgotten us already! (Muffled sob:o(

03.26.2010: MeDiANCING

Caught a mention of this on the radio this morning. Here's the AP story:
"...(Courtesy AP) CBS is joining the conga line of networks with dance shows. It's ordered a new dance competition series called Got To Dance.' That title comes from the lyrics in a song Gene Kelly sings and dances to in Singing in the Rain. Got To Dance is a new British show where dancers of any age, group-size and style compete. CBS says it'll announce the judges' panel, and info about auditions, later..."
...and click here for more...And, don't tweet me, no e-mail or blog postings, don't talk about DWT*** or the results until I have a chance to see it on the weekend after it airs. I teach and work all week, I time-shift the show until after classes and rehearsals are over on the weekend. Okay, I realize that means there's only one day to discuss the show before the next episode airs, but, them's the ground rules! If you missed the show, head to ABC.Com to catch replays...And, Poreotics is the group I'm pulling for on ABDC on MTV. Their sense of humor seperates them from the others. They just need to keep stepping up the physicality to match their sharp mentality...And, also on MTV, Taking The Stage follows kids in a real life Fame high school. The School of Creative and Performing Arts in Cincinnati (?). Tyler's an aspiring hip-hopper brought in to read and audition for the movie, Step It Up 2. He's ready to leave his home-town if he gets the part, but, his dancer girl-friend doesn't want him to go. I say, do it Tyler! If you stay because of Emily, you'll just end up resenting her. Follow your dream or lose your soul.

03.24.2010: Rx4Exercise

Howz that New Year's Resolution going to take those Adult Ballet, Jazz and/or Pilates Classes at CCDC? Need some more motivation?
"(Courtesy Newswise) — Researchers found that women successful in maintaining normal weight averaged approximately 60 minutes a day of moderate-intensity activity throughout the study.

The prevalence of overweight and obesity in the United States has increased dramatically over the past 2 decades, with 1 in 3 adults currently obese. “Because the average U.S. adult gains weight with age, developing ways to prevent unhealthful weight gain would help them avoid having to lose weight and then trying to maintain that loss. Compared with the vast body of research on the treatment of overweight and obese individuals, little research exists on preventing weight gain,” the authors write. “The amount of physical activity needed to prevent long-term weight gain is unclear.”

I-Min Lee, M.B.B.S., Sc.D. and colleagues examined weight changes associated with different physical activity levels in a study that included 34,079 healthy U.S. women who consumed a usual diet (average age, 54 years) from 1992-2007. Analyses examined physical activity and weight change over intervals averaging 3 years.

Women gained an average of 5.7 lbs. throughout the study. Compared with women expending 21 or more metabolic equivalent (MET) hours per week, those expending 7.5 to less than 21 MET hours per week gained .2 lbs., whereas those expending less than 7.5 MET hours per week gained .3 lbs, a difference that was not statistically significant.

“These data suggest that the 2008 federal recommendation for 150 minutes per week, while clearly sufficient to lower the risks of chronic diseases, is insufficient for weight gain prevention absent caloric restriction. Physical activity was inversely related to weight gain only among normal-weight women; among heavier women, there was no relation, emphasizing the importance of controlling caloric intake for weight maintenance in this group”..."

03.24.2010: Master Thespian!

Why be shy? I made a conscious decision to break out of my shy shell when I was entering junior high. I'm still a private person, but, after years of effort, I can now shift into performance mode at any time. (And, I often do, much to the embarassment of the stuffier, stodgier folks around me. That was me, miming being rolled out of a local restaurant after over-stuffing myself! That was me, falling to my knees pretending to suffer a broken arm after Missy punched me in the shoulder! That was me pretending to be a mannequin next to a store display while waiting for relatives to finish shopping!o) It's a real advantage for anyone considering a career on stage. Just remember, much as you may want to at the time, you CANNOT die of embarassment! And, the more you put yourself out there, the easier it is to do it again...and, the more it frees you up to become a better performer. I remember one acting exercise I had to do at a big seminar: all us macho guys had to perform as a dainty, little, lisping girls...all the women had to act like a beer-swilling, disgusting lumberjacks. It took me awhile, but, I managed to channel my inner female child and passed the role-play exercise. That was tough, but, incredibly liberating. I imagine they do exercises like that all the time in basic acting classes. But, you don't have to enroll in an acting class, my little no-drama mama, because I gotcher first assignment right here! At the next party you go to, all you shy girls need to make a big entrance! Kick open the door and stride in! Grab a Nehi soda and swig it down. A big, loud burp here is optional but definitely out of character, which is the goal! Crush the can on your forehead and yell out, "LET'S GET THIS PARTY STARTED!" Look around at all your shocked friends and shout even louder, "WHERE ALL 'DEM BOYZ? Where all 'dem KEWT BOYZ?!" Maniacal laughter here is optional, but, will produce the desired effect: your friends will never look at you the same way again! Congratulations! You've just gotten out of your comfort zone! And, remember, there has never been an actual confirmed death of embarrasment!o) (I'm talking to you, you timid little Shyster, you!) You know what's really tough? Try stand-up comedy! But, that's another post. (And, btw, if you ever find out where all "dem boyz" are, bring 'em to ballet class! ..."Kewt" or not!o)

03.23.2010: Tattoo 2U?

Turning 18 soon and thinking about "inking"? Read this first!
"...(Courtesy Newswise) — Many adolescents think about getting tattoos, but less than half know what’s involved in having them removed, according to an Italian study.

When surveyed, forty percent of secondary school students, were aware of the difficulties of tattoo removal. Those who were interested in or eager to be tattooed, or who already had tattoos, were more knowledgeable but still less than fully informed said Luca Cegolon, M.D.

“Health education should emphasize that removing a tattoo is costly, painful and not always esthetically satisfying,” he said.

The study, which was unusual in that it surveyed younger adolescents, most of whom had not yet been tattooed, found that males particularly were unlikely to understand the implications of tattoo removal, 28 percent compared with 47 percent for females, and that ignorance was more widespread among children of younger fathers than those whose fathers were older than 49.

Cegolon noted that among the 6 percent of those surveyed who already had tattoos, the majority was male and a “striking” proportion of these — nearly half — were under 18 years old. “Health education should be proactive, not reactive,” he said. “Adolescents, particularly males, need to be told about the consequences of body modification before it is already done.”

Moreover, his findings suggest that “health education should involve the father, who appears to be influential in respect to decisions about body art,” he said.

If a similar study were done in the United States, “I think we’d have different findings,” said body art researcher Myrna Armstrong, Ed.D., of Texas Tech. “I think adolescents here know more about body art and I expect they would know more about removal.”

All the same, “I don’t think they truly appreciate the amount of time it takes to get a tattoo removed and what it costs, or that removal may not be 100 percent successful,” she said.

About 25 percent of U.S. young adults have tattoos, and she estimated that 18 percent of high school students do as well.

They get tattoos because “it makes them feel good, special and unique,” and her own research suggests that similar identity issues motivate their removal, Armstrong said.

To her knowledge, U.S. health education about tattoos generally covers the removal process. “But in reality, when most people get a tattoo they can’t conceive they’d ever want to be rid of it,” she said..."

03.22.2010: Gnaw Ledge is Power

While we're waiting for DWT*** to premiere, here are more tidbits from what we like to call "the Dancer College of Knowledge":
Going to be auditioning for University college dance programs anytime soon? Here are some tips from Dance Teacher Magazine. You can view a vid of school administrators talking about what they look for when students audition for their programs.
Hope this film comes to town soon...
"...That snap decision started her and a young man named Sokvannara Sar on a cross-cultural adventure that, improbably, turned a poor Cambodian teenager into a ballet dancer and, just as improbably, Ms. Bass into a documentary filmmaker. ..."
Read more from the New York Times.
How fundamental is dance to life? Read a new scientific abstract here.

03.19.2010: Prowl of the Web Lynx

A plethora of relatively interesting sites:
...and, speaking of dance on TV, I've always thought a series about real ballet dancers would generate some viewer interest. Now comes this word:
"...A major reality show is gearing up to be shot right here. Chicago's internationally renowned Joffrey Ballet will be the focus of an unscripted TV series, tentatively titled First Position'..."
Check out the details from the Chicago Sun-Times

Stiff much? Here are some tips from Travis Wall's teacher:

"...Denise Wall, teacher and owner of Denise Wall’s Dance Energy studio, gives her stiff students these exercises to stretch their piriformis and illiotibial bands, two muscles that, like the psoas, can inhibit the rest of the leg...."

...You may not be able to spell the correct terms for those parts of your anatomy, but, click to Dance-Teacher.Com if you think you could stand being more flexible.


No dancing hippos, no Disney treatment at the premiere of what could be a true-example of that over-used oxymoron "a new classic":
"...The biggest mystery of San Francisco Ballet's 2010 season is this week's U.S. premiere of John Neumeier's "The Little Mermaid." Neumeier, for 37 years the director of Germany's Hamburg Ballet, hasn't taken any cues from Disney: His ballet makes writer Hans Christian Andersen a character in the story, and he presents the mermaid as a tragic creature whose exquisitely flexible movement is inspired by Balinese dance styles..."
Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle.

03.18.2010: MustCDanceTV

Leave it to PBS to air some contemporary ballet on the public airwaves:
"...Dance In America: Ny Export: Opus Jazz (#3508)

TV Schedule:
Wed, March 24, 2010 7:00 PM (IPTV)
A new version of Jerome Robbins' 1958 hit NY Export: Opus Jazz, filmed all over New York City..."

...Find out more about Opus Jazz here and, get a preview interview here. And, btw, PBS is in the middle of their spring fund-raiser. They could really use the help now. And, it looks like DWT*** premieres Monday!

03.17.2010: Tweeting My Own Horn!

Okay, to celebrate the occasion of reaching three digits in followers to my Tweet account (Don't get left behind! You can still sign up @SirDanGuy!o), I went back over the 548 tweets I've posted so far and pulled out a favorite baker's dozen you might have missed! (And, thanks to Panic Attack and The Leaner for being the last few local subscribers to put me over the top!):
  1. "Listen beginner-ballet-boy, you've gotten really good...at FAKING it. Now, we have to get past all the faking and into mastering!"

  2. "Bad dance training is worse than no training at all. Choose your teachers wisely."

  3. "More turn than lift means you're 'spinning'. More lift than turn means you are 'performing pirouette'."

  4. "You've been given the gift of LOOKING like a dancer, but, you must EARN the greater gift of DANCING like a dancer!"

  5. "Do SOMETHING with the combination! Don't be afraid to show your personality along with clean, impeccable technique! Charisma rules!"

  6. "It's NOT the steps that make the dancer. It's the dancer that makes the steps. Good choreography helps, but, it won't save you."

  7. "My job as your ballet master isn't making you like me. My job is to get you to LOVE your dancing. Your liking me is just a by-product."

  8. "3 times when dancers lose placement+turnout: when you go fast, big or complicated. This combination has 2 of the 3. Will you lose it?"

  9. "To be truly 'extraordinary', you have to bring something 'extra' to what you 'ordinarily' do! And, you have to do it everyday!"

  10. "All you aspiring dancers need to learn to fully inhabit your entire body! AND! All the airs around it that surround it!!"

  11. "Unless you have to dance, unless you're driven, it's always easier not to dance. So, hop in the ballet car, I got the keys! Going my way?"

  12. "See, my little urchin, as a performer, you must lose your spiny armor and replace it with shiny AMOR!"

  13. "For most of my life, I have vastly preferred the company of dancers."---@SirDanGuy

03.16.2010: Target On Their Backs

Parents! Watch out for this marketing ploy...
"...Recent Cigarette Marketing Campaign Targeted Teen Girls

(Courtesy Newswise) — The 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) prohibits tobacco industry advertising practices that encourage underage teenagers to smoke, yet new research found that a 2007 marketing campaign for Camel brand cigarettes was effective in encouraging young girls to start smoking.

Consistent with earlier research, the new study showed that youth who had never smoked but who reported having a “favorite” cigarette ad at the beginning were 50 percent more likely to initiate smoking. The number of boys with a favorite ad was stable across all five surveys. For girls, however, it was stable across the first four surveys, but by the fifth survey, which took place after the start of the Camel No. 9 campaign, the proportion of girls who reported a favorite ad jumped by 10 percentage points, to 44 percent. The Camel brand accounted almost entirely for this increase.

The Camel No. 9 marketing campaign included ads resembling fashion spreads that were placed in five of the top 10 U.S. teen readership magazines, such as Glamour and Vogue. The campaign also featured promotional giveaways such as berry lip balm, cell phone jewelry, purses and wristbands..."

03.15.2010: "Pas"-Abilities

Recent contribution from Der Kommissar:
"...Don't know if you have seen this video before...My sister sent it to me...
Found on YouTube and here is the description:
The name of this ballet movie is Amelia and it is performed by the dance company La La La Human Steps. It is choreographed using mostly classical ballet forms, most notably pointe work(the choreographer and producer, Edouard Lock, really loves pointe work!) and pas de deux, although other groupings are included and the men dance in the usual way, with one exception: there is a pas de deux with a man and a woman, both dressed as men and both on pointe! The costumes are typical of modern dance, the woman wear leotards and the men wear pants and jackets. Amelia is freely adapted from a stage production of the same same, but this is first and foremost a dance-for-camera movie, where the camera becomes an integral part of the action, using shots of many different angles, and rotation, dolly, and crane shots. The dance space itself is quite interesting and is difficult to describe, but it looks a little like the inside of a ceramic vase. The lighting is also very intricate. The action is mostly very fast and frenetic, and the choreography is very challenging including some very difficult steps, both on the floor and in the air.

This is a two disc set, the first disk is the ballet itself and includes an optional commentary, and rehearsal footage(accessed in interactive mode). The second disc is a little tricky. It includes printed facts on productions, biographies, and awards of the dance company. On some of the production boards, there is a media section with either one or two icons. The icon to the left is for still images and the icon to the right is for video clips, so be careful not to miss those features as I did the first few times!

Thank you,
Dima!..."
...Okay, all you beginning partnering students! Study this over Spring Break and we expect it ready to perform at our next pas de deux class!o) Seriously, there's great trust and excellent partnering going on in this piece. The ability to work that fast and that off-balance doesn't come over-night. Something to work towards when we do get back to basic and intermediate pas de deux classes. Sposiba, Dima!

03.12.2010: March4TheArtz!

My two worlds didn't exactly collide this week...but, they did nudge each other. I was at my day-job the other day. For those who don't know, my not-so-secret identity is as a "meek, mild-mannered reporter" by day on a small radio station. But, at night, I patrol the barres of our teeming metropolis correcting poochy paunches, propping up drooping elbows and realigning the misplaced and spineless. So, I was busy pursuing leads, racing against deadlines and raking muck in the halls of our stately statehouse when someone called out my dance name. (People at the state capitol know me by my radio name. People at Capital City Dance Center refer to me by my dance name. It helps me keep my two worlds seperate even though I answer to both names.) Turned out to be the mom of one of our most promising young students. But, why was Livz Mom there? Apparently, she had helped organize a massive rally to protest anticipated cuts to arts funding in the public schools. Instead of just wringing her hands and complaining, Kimberly H had taken her message directly to policy-makers and helped put together the March For The Arts. AND, she brought along a few hundred of her closest friends! 500 or so was her estimated attendance for the 'rally under the rotunda'. There were marching bands, members of orchestras and other musicians all "tooting their horns" for the arts. Kimberly said she did at least three interviews with media (including me). Her argument was that funding for the arts in schools makes the area more attractive to people considering moving here. And, she says the arts helps her four kids achieve academically. And, I'll have to say her daughter is a great example of "smart kids making good dancers"! After a recent class, her teacher came into the office exclaiming there was at least one student who was making great choices in her character in La Sylphide! Turned out to be Kim's Liv! So, like mother, like daughter! I'm predicting big futures for both! Run for office, maybe...?

03.12.2010: Liking That Lilac Fairy

For a brief, wild moment, I thought the timing would be right for a Spring Break trip to see Capital City Dance Center's latest professional dancer in concert in the Twin Cities! So, I texted BalletJoMacAlester for more info and got this back:
"...Here's all the info you were asking for. I'll go into as much detail as possible.
Saint Paul City Ballet's "Reimaginings"
The Ritz Theater
345 13th Ave. NE
Minneapolis, MN

  • Preview Performance: Thursday, March 25 at 7:00 PM. This is technically an open dress rehearsal for which we are selling cheap tickets, so that it will more accessible for all kinds of people to see (such as poor students like myself.) Tickets for this show are $12.50.
  • Friday, March 26, 7:30 PM
  • Saturday, March 27, 2:00 PM and 7:30 PM
  • Sunday, March 28, 2:00 PM
    Tickets for these shows are $22.50.

For more information, and to order tickets, please click here...."

...So, we won't be able to make it to see the show. But, don't let our misfortune keep you from making your own plans to attend. Tell her merde for us!

03.11.2010: College of Knowledge:

The more you know, the more you know: Recent twites of interest:

Here's Kansas City Ballet dancer Matthew Donnell's blog. He's writing about his final year before retiring as a professional danseur.
Here's a blog from a Houston Ballet dancer and her impressions of their La Bayadere. Also, a close-up photo of her stage eye-makeup and "ballet lines".
Possible pointers on pirouettes here from the @BalletGuru.
And, finally, here are a couple of articles of interest from Dance Teacher Magazine on ankle placement+strengthening, knee knews, the straight scoop on dancing with scoliosis, stage lighting on a budget and pointe shoe basics.

03.10.2010: CALLING ALL GLEEKS!

A reminder from FOX:
"...The executive producers of GLEE are looking for new cast members and want to see if YOU could be one of them! Fans between the ages of 16 and 26 can submit their auditions online for the opportunity to be a part of the show's second season. But even if you don't see yourself as part of the show, more GLEE might be coming to a city near you. Tickets to "Glee Live! In Concert!" go on sale to the general public this Friday, March 12. This unique concert experience, making stops in Phoenix, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York, will include live performances of some of the show's most memorable numbers...don't forget to tune in when GLEE returns on Tuesday, April 13..."
...and another opportunity to testify in a "GLEEp of faith" available here.

03.10.2010: Additional Audition Action

...And, that's not all from Fox! So you think you can compete to become "America's Favorite Dancer"? Here's the rest of the audition schedule for the next SYTYCD:

LOCATIONS & DATES:

Dallas, TX
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
McFarlin Memorial Auditorium
6405 Boaz Lane
Dallas, Texas 75205

Nashville, TN
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Acuff Theatre
2804 Opryland Drive
Nashville, TN 37214

Chicago, IL
Thursday, March 18, 2010
The Cadillac Palace Theatre
151 West Randolph Street
Chicago, IL 60601

Los Angeles, CA
Friday, March 26, 2010
Orpheum Theatre
842 S. Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90014

Dancers must be either a US citizen or legal permanent resident of the US, possess a current legal Employment Authorization Card enabling him/her to seek employment freely in the US (i.e., without restrictions as to employer) by the date specified in the eligibility rules. Dancers must be no younger than 18 or older than 30 years of age on the first day they register for auditions. Any dancer who is a minor in his/her state of residence must also have a parent or legal guardian sign all required documents. Dancers must provide legal, valid proof of age when they register for auditions. Check here for full eligibility rules..."

...Or, download forms and find out more here.

03.09.2010: Kudoz2Kidz

Just got this in the email bag:
"...Hi guys, I was hoping that you could give some recognition to your student Madeline that has been volunteering on Sundays...She has been an exceptionally responsible young lady who has been working with young dancers with disabilities as a volunteer. She is such a beautiful, patient girl who has done a terrific job. Hopefully I will have pictures sometime soon. It is always a wonderful thing when our students take their own time to share dance with others, especially kids that might not normally get the chance to dance..."

03.08.2010: Balanchine Ballet

Here's a tip from CCDC Young Children's Division Director Jill Andrews:
"...From The New York Times:
DANCE REVIEW | SUZANNE FARRELL BALLET: Celebrating the Genius of Balanchine by Viewing It With Fresh Eyes

Watching the dancing of the Suzanne Farrell Ballet at the Kennedy Center, I found myself being led deeper into the Balanchine experience.

Click here for more..."

03.05.2010: Media Mentions

So, the Season 10 line-up for DWT*** has just been released. And, right off the bat, The Olympic Skater and the ESPN Sideline Reporter get tagged with my ones-2-watch label...that's sight unseen and before the first sequin is donned or the first step taken. Evan Lysacek could follow in the Olympic footsteps of Kristi Yamaguchi, Apolo Ohno and ShawneyJ. Athletes are in better-shape, used to criticism, being coached and accustomed to hard work. And, Lysacek especially has big name recognition with potential voters coming off the Vancouver games. He's also adept at learning choreography and selling a routine to judges and an audience. And, don't dismiss Erin Andrews as just another pretty face. Sources tell me she trained as a dancer when she was younger. (Sources also tell me her sister is currently a professional dancer. So, their training must have been pretty rigorous.) Not sure how many men will be in the audience and motivated to vote, so, her dancing will have to make the case for her with the female vote. Same with the Pussycat Doll. But, who's going to be voted off quickly? Well, the Reality Mom, The Bachelor, The Moon Walker and The Soap Star may not have the background to last long. Big question mark will be 85 and, believe it or not, The Former Baywatch Star. Will Pam Anderson exceed low expectations? The barre for former Playboy Playthingz has been set awfully low by the mannequin-like Holly Madison. How much worse could Anderson be? But, the good news in this latest line-up? No one named Master P! And, professional Kym Johnson tweetz she's taking some time off to pursue other interests. Same for aspiring singer Julianne Hough...Here's some quick media mentions of dance-related MustCTV: The ABDC competition is underway. I like that one (nerdy) group's audition that spoofed Kanye West's faux pas at the Grammys(?). But, otherwise no krew has emerged like Quest, Supah Krew or Jabba Wokkeez. I know I should show more geographic support for Hype 5-0 since we come from the same island, but, their dancing, so far, hasn't been memorable. And, gotta hand it to Heavy Impact for representing the Big Boyz!...And, the second season of Taking The Stage is currently running on MTV. It's produced by former boy-bander Nick Lachey. Mark my words, singer Adam has the looks and the chops to make it nationally. Of course, I said the same thing last season about Mia Carruthers. And, having said that, the dancing leaves a lot to be desired at that school. Every glimpse we have of the classes, the pointe work and the placement is questionable. And, also starting to watch Juilliard: The Senior Year. Mostly behind-the-scenes modern work at what they call "America's foremost dance conservatory". Hoping to get more involved as they reveal more about the dancers. But, it'll pass the time until the highly-produced, tightly-scripted DWT*** begins later this month!

03.05.2010: Audition Action

Aargh, matey! Swab the deck! Walk the plank! Or...do the audition!
"...Auditions for How I Became a Pirate will be held at The Playhouse at 6:00 P.M. on Sunday, Mar. 14. All auditions are open to the public; no one is pre-cast. Those auditioning must bring a prepared solo; an accompanist will be provided.

How I Became a Pirate contains feature roles for six men and one woman, ages 16 and up, and one boy age 10-14. Performances are May 7-30, with school matinees May 11-12. How I Became a Pirate is directed by Ron Ziegler and music direction by Brenton Brown.

How I Became a Pirate is based on the book by Melinda Long. A day at the beach becomes an adventure when Jeremy Jacob is whisked away by Braid Beard and his pirate crew in this new musical.

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

03.04.2010: Voices of Angels

If you haven't been to one of these and you don't have rehearsal, "pack up the babies and grab the old ladies" and go:
"...The award winning Youth Chorus announces a joint concert with the Grand View University Choir on Sunday, March 7th at 4 PM at the Temple for Performing Arts’ Grand Hall, 1011 Locust Street. The theme of the concert is Bach, Brahms, and All That – a compilation of repertoire from the last five centuries of choral music. Music representing the Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Contemporary periods will be performed. This concert will feature the Youth Chorus’ international touring mixed choir, Youth Chorale, regional touring Treble Choir, Chorale and Concert Choir. The price of admission is free. ..."

03.03.2010: Hamer Hitz Homerz!

Taking time off from her busy, busy schedule to keep us on the cutting edge! Here's an "enciter's outlook" from this weekend's performances submitted by CCDC Modern/Contemporary/Jazz/Pilates Instructor/Choreographer Alissa Hamer:
"...Hello!

Just wanted to write a few words from the insider's perspective from my show last weekend with Hurley & Dancers. It was an amazing experience! This was the first time Hurley has done a full performance since I have been dancing with them so it was a new and challenging experience. I had forgotten how exhausting tech week can be!

We started rehearsing in January and put the entire show together in 10 rehearsals (including tech). Working with Kathleen is always a positive and uplifting experience. She is very open to ideas and suggestions from the company. We all work really well together and our different styles of movement seem to coalesce with very little effort. Kathleen likes to work a lot with improv (which scares my CCDC modern dancers - hang in there guys! It gets easier!)

We drew very good crowds for all three shows, including Sunday night, which is rare. It was very easy to feed off the energy the crowd brought to the performance. Each night felt different and special in its own way. I hope we get to do another show of this magnitude sometime soon. Stay on the lookout for summer site-specific performances!!!

Special thanks to all those who came out to see the show and support Hurley & Dancers, especially to my AWESOME students! Having them in the audience gave me a reason to do my best.

A :)..."

03.02.2010: Want Sodium With That Order?

Here's some "sweet" nutritional advice for everyone, not just dancers: back away from the salt shaker!
"...(March 2, 2010, Courtesy /EIN PRESSWIRE/) The Stanford University School of Medicine and the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System have a cheap solution to help slow rising healthcare expenses: Cut back on salt.

A study by the two groups says that cutting salt by 10% could prevent hundreds of thousands of heart attacks and strokes over several decades and save the government $32 billion in healthcare costs. The Institute of Medicine says that high blood pressure costs the US $73 billion a year in heathcare costs.

The study suggested both a salt tax and a voluntary effort by the food industry to cut back on salt could be steps taken to cut salt intake.

Seventy-five percent of Americans consume more than the suggested 2.3 grams of salt per day, with 75% of that intake coming from processed foods and restaurant meals...."

...and don't wait for the government to do something to live healthier. Remember, your body is your instrument when you're a dancer. Don't be foolish about the "fuels" you put into it. You may think because you prespire more than the average person, you need to replace the salt. Check with your doctor or nutritionist, but, I'm sure you're already getting more sodium than you need without adding more.

03.01.2010: We Watch WebVid!

Bored with your usual mindless MySpace or Facebook friends? Tired of listening to me toot my own horn on Twitter? (BTW, subscribe @SirDanGuy) Looking for something fun, instructive, educational and artistic to watch on the web? Well, I always recommend watching as much good ballet as you can. So, besides just blindly heading to YouTube, here's a good place to start: Maria Kochetkova's website. There are much worse dancers you could watch rather than this San Francisco Ballet Principal Dancer who's at the peak of her powers right now. So, take a peek at her powerful dancing by clicking on her website!

03.01.2010: Danseurs Wanted

...and, found this on the San Francisco Ballet Website: (Better hurry! Deadline is today!)
"...Company Auditions

San Francisco Ballet is seeking soloist or principal male dancers for contracts beginning July 2010.

Candidates should be 185cm or taller. Solid classical training with clean lines and strong partnering skills a MUST.

In addition, the Company is also seeking male corps de ballet dancers with very solid classical training and clean lines.

Deadline to apply: March 1, 2010

Please send your CV with photo, DVD or video to:

San Francisco Ballet
Ricardo Bustamante
Ballet Master and Assistant to the Artistic Director
455 Franklin Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
USA

Or email: RBustamante@sfballet.org..."

...And, Ask.Com translates "185cm" as "6 feet 8/10 inches". Guess they have enough short guys! (That rules me out! Dang! Just a silly millimeter short---or so!o)

02.26.2010: Learning From Olympians

Watched the Olympics Ladies Figure Skating the other night and have to say that South Korea's Kim Yu Na and Japan's Mao Asada both shoulda been dancers! They have what would've been atypical Asian bodies just a generation ago. (Credit that more Western diet introduced to the area by Americans after WWII.) Both are long-limbed and slim+trim. I think either of them wouldn't look out of place in a tutu and pointe shoes. But, I guess Yu Na (Kim is her surname) would have to take quite a pay cut to become a professional dancer. NBC reporting her annual income at 8-to-9 million dollars a year in endorsements! Don't know many ballerinas who travel in that rarified air! ...But, besides all the "woulda, coulda, shoulda" for them and for my own long-ago Olympic aspirations*, what practical dance tips can we glean from NBC's coverage of the Winter Olympics? Well, for one, when you watch the skaters do their triple axels and quadruple lutzes, you have to wonder why dancers rarely perform triple saut de basques...and the first dancer to do a quadruple turn during any jump will be the first one I've ever heard of! How do skaters accomplish those multiple tours en l'air? It's not by pushing through their feet because they're encased in skate boots. The answer is the raw horizontal speed they accumulate in their preparations. Fortunately, dancers don't have to travel backwards on slippery surfaces to get more acceleration. Just remember to use more speed to get higher in the air and turn faster. Skaters also use the momentum of throwing that heavy skate boot high into the air to get them up there or as a pick to "catapult" them into turning jumps. Steal that concept by pointing your foot harder and visualizing throwing "a heavy boot" into the air to initiate your jumps...And, the other concept you might adopt is "skater turns". Watch closely the next time your favorite ice dancer does what I think are called "scratch turns": the arms start wide, the turns start slowly, but, pick up speed as the arms come in. In Physics, it's called "conservation of angular momentum". You should use the idea in fouette' turns. And, you can use that idea with your port de bras in pirouettes. Start wider than you normally do and pull in "taller and tighter to turn". Think about picking up speed on your turns as you bring those arms in. Endless, countless turns like your favorite skater. Just remember to spot...and, maybe, just maybe, you'll end up becoming the first dancer to pull-in 8-to-9-million dollars a year in endorsements! Wouldn't that be nice?

(*Two quick old jokes 'cuz I can't resist: Q: What do you call ice hockey in Hawai'i? A: Water polo, Marco!
And, the other joke is: "we tried water polo in Hawai'i, but...the horses all drowned!o)

02.25.2010: CCDC Alum2Perform

Come catch the Saint Pauli Girl as her debut season as a professional dancer continues in the Twin Cities:
"...Here's info about buying tickets for SPCB at the Ritz in March. Send this email out to everyone you know!
This is the first Minneapolis performance for The Saint Paul City Ballet Company, and features the emerging talent of its dancers as choreographers.

Tickets may be purchased by calling the Ritz Theater box office at 612-436-1129 Tuesday-Friday from 12:30-4:30 P.M. or purchase tickets online. All tickets $22.50...Thursday preview tickets are $12.50...."

02.25.2010: Dancing Al Fresco!

...And! Here's a local performance reminder that's a little closer in time and space...(And, the price is right!o)
"...I am terribly excited about this new performance and hope you can come!
Hurley & Dancers presents the world premiere of “Fresco Aroused” Feb. 26, 28 and 28 at 7:30 p.m. at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 4114 Allison Ave, as part of the Westminster Presbyterian Fine Arts Series. A multi-media performance with projections by visual artist Kun P. Nong, dancers interact with panels depicting the duality of themes from Ecclesiastes and other related texts.

Admission free! (Note: Admission has been changed by the Fine Arts Series to have all free ticketing for this event)

Performers are Kathleen Hurley, Brigham Hoegh, Lisa Lewis, Paula McArthur, Lindsay Schwab and

*** Alissa Hamer!!! ***

. With performing and choreography credits from New York City, Hong Kong, Germany and across the Midwest, Kathleen Hurley is able to bring her new choreography to the Westminster Presbyterian Fine Arts Series thanks in part, to funding from a Community Cultural Grant from the Dept. of Cultural Affairs.

Thanks and hope to see you there!
Kathleen Hurley..."

02.24.2010: Preparing2Dance!

Part of training to be a world-class dancer is to do the things that allow you to train your hardest to reach your fullest potential. That means you have to manage your life outside of dance to allow you to take all your dance classes with a rested body and fresh mind. Good student-dancers need to quickly learn good time-management skills. You can't just dilly-dally willy-nilly. You can't procrastinate with studying or chores or school-work or projects or what-have-you. This is an excellent life-skill that'll serve you well as you get older. That means you have to do get done what you don't necessarily enjoy in order to do what you enjoy most: dancing your best. And, after all who was it that said "dancing well is its own reward, dancing poorly its own punishment"? Hmm...Oh, yeah! That was me!o) Don't punish yourself! So, kids! When it comes to your chores, schoolwork and other responsibilities, remember the words of that great western philosopher and "Git 'er dun!"

02.23.2010: Audition Insights

"I'm only gonna show this once."

...that's what the auditioner said to all the dancers who were trying to get a contract with his company this weekend in Chicago. And, that was another clue to CCDC's Kitri that this was one of those auditions that was going to be a challenge. She'd been taught that "some auditioners will try to set you up (to dance well)...and others will try to knock you down". This was one of the latter and she was determined NOT to be "knocked down". So, she paid attention. And, though later, she admitted that all the combinations were tricky from the first plie', she got the petit allegro and did it as well as she could. Ekaterine says all the feet-twisting, mind-challenging combinations her CCDC instructors routinely put her through prepared her well for this latest test. But, she did report a new challenge at that audition that could start tripping up some less well-prepared dancers. And, we're already putting that "new challenge" into practice in the upper-level CCDC Preprofessional Division Classes. What is that new twist? Come to CCDC classes and find out. Hopefully, the first time you run into it won't be at an important audition.

02.22.2010: Northern Lights

So, this recent flap over the President versus Las Vegas reminds me of something that happened to me while I was dancing professionally up north. For those of you who haven't been paying attention, Barack Obama had to back-pedal from recent comments about Sin City. He apparently warned a crowd about going to Vegas and gambling away their kids college money. For some reason, "City of Lost Wages" officials objected. They've been suffering from the recession and a severe tourism slump in Nevada. And, just in case someone was planning to come to Vegas and gamble away their kids tuition money---but, changed their mind after the President's comments!---they demanded an apology or retraction! And, my fellow Hawai'i ex-patriate caved in and did just that over the weekend. Now, in a similar vein, back when I was dancing with the Duluth Ballet, Mikhail Baryshnikov put a similar "pointe shoe" in his mouth! He was asked what he was planning to do after he retired from dancing. The danseur said he wasn't sure, but, he was hoping it didn't include "ending up in Duluth, teaching ballet"! So, of course those of us teaching ballet in Duluth at the time were "outraged"! What were we??? The most remote outpost of ballet in the world? The Siberia of North America? One company member thought it was an opportunity to invite Mischa to come and guest with us...and teach ballet in Duluth. Others just thought we should demand an apology or retraction. (...Sound of clock ticking. Shot of calendar with pages blowing off.) Btw, we are still waiting, "Mr. Big" (Shot) Baryshnikov!

02.19.2010: Performance Promoz

Taking Guitar Hero to the max?
"...Subject: The Playhouse Presents "Yesterday and Today"

Rock to the music of The Beatles in an interactive concert experience where the audience creates the playlist for the night... EVERY NIGHT! "Yesterday and Today" returns to The Playhouse for four performances only, 7:30 PM Thursday and Friday, March 11 & 12, and 6 PM and 9 PM, Saturday, March 13. All seats are $25.

Everyone has a Beatles song attached to an event in his or her life. Before "Yesterday and Today" begins, audience members share their song with the band and help create the night's playlist. Through laughter and personal stories, "Yesterday and Today" connects the audience and performers in a way like none other. Each performance is a unique and remarkable event. With dead-on musical precision, Billy McGuigan ("Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story"; "Rave On") and his band immerse the audience in the sights, sounds, and memories of the 1960s.

More information online..."


...And! There's more...
"...In response to pre-opening ticket sales, The Kate Goldman Children's Theatre at The Playhouse has added performances of "The Boxcar Children," Feb. 26-Mar. 14. The added performances are 4:00 PM, Saturday, Feb. 27; 4:00 PM, Saturday, Mar. 6; and 4:00 PM, Sunday, Mar. 14.

"The Boxcar Children" is based on the book by Gertrude Chandler Warner. Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny Alden are suddenly orphaned when a tragic boating accident kills their parents. Fearful that they will be separated, they flee from the authorities and find refuge in an abandoned boxcar.

More information online..."


02.18.2010: More Gnus From 'Du Nord'

Ask and ye shall receive! Herez the earlier update from Ballet Jo MacAlester:
"...I finally seem to be getting in shape again. I've lost a lot of strength, but will hopefully get some of it back before March. I've been taking class 5-6 days a week, which is a huge improvement over last semester. Class is at 10 in the morning every day, and on Monday I rehearse until noon and on Tuesday and Thursday I rehearse until around 3. Here's a list of the pieces we're doing:
Air and Simple Gifts
- choreographed by one of the directors/dancers in the company. We've only learned the last section because the rest are still being choreographed, but so far it's neoclassical, a good combination of slow and fast, and for all 5 women. The music is by John Williams and was commissioned for Obama's inauguration or something like that.

Gentle Breath, Suspended
- choreographed by the husband of the above choreographer, who is also a director/dancer in the company. Also a neoclassical piece with 4 sections of which I am in the 1st and 4th, and there are 3 women and 1 man in this one (I'm the shortest in this piece!) The music is baroque harpsichord-type stuff by Albinioni. Pretty fast.

Danse Macabre
- This is to Camille Saint-Saens' "Danse Macabre" which is really famous, and it's based on this medieval fable about death. I am one of the dead people, namely the "Beautiful Lady."

Raymonda
- Normal music and choreography. I'm doing Raymonda's harp variation with the big piece of tulle - kind of a throwback to Bayadere. It's pretty easy technically, but it's nice to feel confident about my variation going into my first show. They're doing the pas, then everyone has a variation, then we're all doing the coda.

There's another piece that I'm not in to the music of Miles Davis that's jazzy and cute, but it's for the 2 short girls and the men.

As for school, I'm really loving all my classes so far. Even Statistics isn't bad, but that's because it's just really easy since the teacher knows we're all Humanities majors and just need the math credit. I'm taking cultural anthropology, which is absolutely fascinating - I'm thinking of majoring in anthropology now after just 3 class sessions. I'm also taking Europe and the World Wars and a political science class called the Holocaust which is awesome because for some reason I love learning about that stuff.

I hope auditions for La Sylphide went off well, and that everyone is going over their choreography and writing down their notes. I know I am! See, some of the things you taught me have stuck after all.

Love,
Sleeping Cutie..."

02.17.2010: Ice Is Nice

With all that slippery stuff still out there in the "Great Snowpacolypse" of the "Winter of our Discontent", this would be a good time to go over some injury treatment first-aid basics. Got this email the other day as evidence:

"...(My dancer) hurt her calf...yesterday...Any suggestions for a quick heal or (how to) make it feel better. We've done ice...."
...This is the quick reply I sent back:

"...'P.R.I.C.E is right' is the acronym to remember: 'Prevention, Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation'...not necessarily in that order.

Ice massage the injured part 20 minutes at a time up to three times a day AFTER any exertion, not before. Ibuprofen to help fight swelling. Tell her take care!..."

...And, here are some rules of dancers' thumbs (keeping in mind I am not a medical professional, nor do I play one on the radio!o): Don't use heat at all for 48-or-72 hours or more after the injury. Alternate heat and ice before class or exertion when you're attempting your comeback. Ice only afterwards. The idea is to reduce swelling to allow quickest healing. Be sure to keep icing even after you think you've recovered. Remember the words of that great Western Philosopher from the last century: "Ice, ice, baby!"

02.16.2010: Dance Diaspora

If I had any time, this is what I would write back to Ballet Jo MacAlester (and any other of the CCDC alum off earning their sheepskins!o):
Dear SarAurorah,

Good to hear you're doing so well! Your Lilac Fairy looks like it'll likely be lovely! And, good to hear you're also still working on your speed and attack to perform Diamond Fairy variation. We'll see how much you've dialed it up when you come back to take class! (That's a promise, NOT a threat! ...much!o)

Yes, Mmmadd Skyllz is doing well. She also becomes one of the first CCDC students to be accepted to the Pacific Northwest Ballet Summer Session, but, she says she'll likely stay with her first choice (SFB) and not audition further. The Nufrankenfurterz family is doing well: Hope and Carmen both accepted to Kirov, Milwaukee and Boston (priority acceptance). Rocky accepted to Houston, a quarter-scholarship to Kirov and full scholarship offers to Milwaukee, Boston and PNB. Not sure of any other results, 'cuz nobody tells me nuttin'!

Katya W00tang is seriously auditioning this month. She has or is planning visits to several big regional companies. This week she's in your state! Just a lot further north! She's auditioning for a company that I used to dance for actually. So, I dug out an old sweatshirt with that company's old name and old logo and loaned it to her for merde. If she makes it in that company, I promised to give her the sweatshirt!

The rehearsals for La Sylphide are in full swing. I must say the choreography for the corps is AMAZING! Intricate, with tough timing and patterns. If the girls work hard, though, it has the potential to blow audiences outta the water! Marguerite du Armaund has an innate feel for the lead. It's like she performed it in a previous lifetime...or she's the Sylph herself reincarnated! And, Thai Dyer was born to perform Effie! It's right up her alley. I think she's secretly been involved in many high school love triangles herself, so can bring an earthy realism to the role! (Kidding, Natasha!...kiddin' you little heartbreakah playah!o)

As usual, I'm working with the guys and the partnering mainly. The male variations will be challenging, but, have the potential to be the best dances that GitUrFaShawn and Rocky have done to date. Bournonville, as you know, is noted for it's speed, lightness, ballon and jumps out of nowhere. Fast footwork and precise placement are a priority! A lotta Bournonville steps are starting to show up in everyday classes at CCDC, so that's good!

Spring Semester usually sees the start-up of pas de deux classes at CCDC. New this year, we've got enough experienced girls now that I've seperated the classes into beginning and intermediate partnering. The trick now is to bring the new boys up to speed without having the more advanced girls just standing around getting ice-cold. It's a balancing act, which is as it should be when you're talking about learning partnering!

Well, gotta get back to work!

Miss ya!..."

02.15.2010: Gnuz From Da Nort'!

Capital City Dance Center's newest professional dancer checks in from the Twin Cities and updates her casting and rehearsals:
"...Hey guys,

...(since I already covered) the stuff we're doing for the March show at the Ritz Theatre in Minneapolis. SPCB also has a gala with the school in May, and we recently found out casting for that. We're doing a shortened version of Sleeping Beauty - the studio company girls (school) will be doing the 6 fairy variations and white cat. Company dancers are doing Aurora, Desire, Blue Bird, Princess Florina and Carabosse. As for me, I get to do Lilac Fairy! Missy, remember when I was sitting in the big studio watching (Syllk da Shaka) rehearse all those years ago, and you said, "one day this will be the perfect role for you"? So I'm pretty psyched about that. We get to do both the 1st and 3rd act variations, plus a lot of the mime stuff. Me and one of the other company dancers are splitting it though, each doing Lilac for 2 performances, and then doing Diamond Fairy for the other two. So I get to do Diamond too, which will a good challenge at moving quickly. But I think I'm actually getting a handle on moving a little more quickly since a lot of our pieces for this show are neoclassical and Balanchine-inspired. I love the variation I'm doing for Raymonda - it's the harp variation with the big piece of tulle. I beam whenever I dance it.

As for school, second semester is shaping up pretty well so far. I'm starting to get the work loaded on, but I like my classes a lot. I'm taking cultural anthropology this semester, and I'm thinking I want to major in it. It is endlessly fascinating.

I hope auditions are going well for everyone (kudos to Mmmadd Skyllz!) And I'm sure La Sylphide is shaping up beautifully. Miss you both!

Love,
(Ballet Jo MacAlester)..."

02.12.2010: Show of Force? Or Farce?

A chance to send local lawmakers a message as they consider how much to cut support for the arts...
"...The State Cultural Coalition announces plans for annual Cultural Advocacy Day

The State Cultural Coalition will hold its annual Cultural Advocacy Day on Wednesday, February 17th at the State Historical Building. The event brings together cultural creatives from across the state to speak with their legislators at the capitol, connect with fellow artists and organizations as well as attend workshops aimed at artists, and arts and cultural organizations. CAD is open to anyone who wants to support art ad culture in the State . The ICC supports all arts; visual, historical, musical and theatrical and serves as a statewide advocacy group for the arts.

The day kicks-off with keynote speaker Robert Bluestone at 10:30 am at the State Historical Building. Bluestone believes that creativity is the currency of the 21st century and that we will succeed as individuals, families, communities, and as a country in direct proportion to how well we grasp this concept. Robert Bluestone’s passion has been to make creativity part of the fabric of people’s everyday lives. He empowers and inspires audiences to go beyond their own self-imposed limitations and doubts and see that creativity is not just the domain of artists; that everyone has it in them to be creative in everything they pursue in life. Robert Bluestone builds bridges in companies and communities by identifying the common creative bond that turns employees into empowered achievers and creates cooperative interactive forward thinking corporate teams.

The day will continue with heading to the capitol to talk to legislators as well as workshops on Turning your creation to commodity through proper tax planning, Historic Resource Development Program Grants, Finding Leadership in Making Places Great and Disaster preparedness of collecting institutions. In addition, keynote speaker Robert Bluestone will present a workshop titled “So what do you do when you get back home?”

The day will conclude with a reception from 5 – 7 pm for all participants and their legislators. The event will include music, food by Baratta’s and wine served by the State Grape Growers Association and Garden Winery. The reception is sponsored by the State Gaming Association..."

02.12.2010: Putting the Art in 'Heart'

Local arts action:
RTI Presents: Love & Other Matters
An Evening of One-Acts by Anton Chekhov

Repertory Theater celebrates the spirit of Valentine’s Day with Love & Other Matters - featuring five of the Russian playwright’s early farces woven together with an original adaptation by RTI’s own James Serpento. The show runs February 12th through the 21st at the DsM Social Club, 1408 Locust (across from the new Pappajohn Sculpture Park).

About the show:

  • THE NINNY is an adaptation of one of Chekhov’s short stories by RTI’s own James Serpento.

  • THE BEAR, a landowner comes to claim a debt from a young woman whose husband has just died. Out of grief, she refuses to see him—her attempt to prove to her faithless dead husband that women are more loyal than men.

  • A RELUCTANT TRAGIC HERO Our hero spends the summer in the country, but is driven to the brink of distraction by various demands to run errands in the city.

  • THE FESTIVITIES a pompous, self-important bank manager prepares to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the branch office he manages. He arranges for a series of “spontaneous” tributes to his supposed expertise, but chaos ensues when his wife returns from a visit to her mother’s, and a crazy woman comes looking for a job for her husband.

  • SWAN SONG An actor wakes up with a hangover, locked in the theater after the evening’s performance. He is terrified when he thinks a ghost appears, but it is only the theater’s prompter.

  • THE PROPOSAL portrays a nervous young farmer who comes to propose to his neighbor’s daughter. Instead of making the proposal, the two young people get involved in comic arguments.

02.11.2010: Fat Factoid

Time to rethink your phat phobia?: (Courtesy Men's Health Magazine)
"...University of Buffalo researchers found that competitive female runners who ate less than 20 percent fat were more likely to suffer injuries than those who consumed at least 31 percent. Researchers speculate that the problem is linked to extreme low-fat diets, which weaken muscles and joints. "A few slices of avocado a day are a great way to boost fat for women who are fat-shy," says Leslie Bonci, R.D., director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center...."

02.10.2010: Catch A Rising Star

Here's an update from the Director of Capital City Dance Center's Young Childrens Division:
"...We have a star amongst us in the Young Children's Division at CCDC. Jocelyn (adorable little redhead who attends the Monday night Ballet 2 class) has been chosen to be Annie in her school play at Brookview Elementary (in Waukee Public Schools). She was nervous about her audition. In order to calm her nerves we had her practice singing Tomorrow for her ballet class. She has a beautiful set of pipes! I thought she was going to get the part, and she did! She told us a lot of girls were auditioning for the part. She thought her red hair might give her an edge, but she wasn't sure.

Also, here's a recommendation. I watched The Doctors show when they recommended Yoga Toes. So I asked for Yoga Toes for Christmas and received them from my brother and his family. I like them! They're great. I figured our upper level dancers and corps dancers might like them too (and teachers who've spent too many years wearing ballet shoes too). I know our CCDC parents would love them too. They're soft and squishy and help reshape your feet from a pointe shoe shape back to a healthy shape. Yoga Toes claim to help treat and prevent bunions, hammertoes, fatigue, poor circulation, and varicose veins. Your toes really do feel rejuvenated after wearing them 15 minutes (gradually building up to one hour). The doctors on The Doctors show said they're a great way to correct foot problems, shape, stretch, condition, align, and stengthen.

Take care!
Jill..."

02.09.2010: No Island Calypso! It's Snowpacolypse!

A lot of people (including the President) are calling the latest barrage of winter snow on the east coast "snowmageddon". But, I've got a suggestion for the endless winter of Uh-Oh-Nine-And-More-Uh-Oh-Ten here locally, I'm calling it: "snowpocalypse"! The "end of the world by snow"! What happened to global warming when you need it? Or is this what happens when Al Gore turns out not to be blowing hot air after all? Snowpacolypse! It's a lot better than the other words I'd use to describe the season! Most of them unprintable, but, I remember thinking one word, as I was scraping Jack Frost's graffitti off my windshield this morning, and that was: "brutal". This winter has just been brutal and unrelenting. One of the worst since I left my island paradise so many summers ago. AND! It's only February!o( And, it was a bit unsettling tracking the forecasts before the first big corps de ballet rehearsal of the season last night. Talk about "the best laid plans of mice and snowmen"! It turns out the local school district (Urbandale) cancelled evening activities late yesterday and that usually automatically triggers class cancellation at CCDC. But, such late notice was given that dancers were already arriving at the studio. So, we held classes and rehearsals as scheduled for anyone who showed up. So, just a reminder, even if CCDC doesn't cancel classes, if weather or roads in your area aren't safe or are marginal, stay home! Make up classes at your convenience, but, stay safe! And, a pox on this snowpocalypse!

02.08.2010: Audition Action!

Never mind American Idol!
"...Want to Be a Part of GLEE?

Congratulations to GLEE on their Golden Globe and SAG Awards! Now YOU have the opportunity to join this award winning cast. Both amateurs and professionals between the ages of 16-26 can soon submit auditions online to be considered for one of the three new roles to be added to the show's second season. Look out for more information on when you can submit auditions on fox.com/GLEE. Don't miss all new episodes of GLEE when it returns on Tuesday, April 13 at 9/8c on FOX!

Keep checking fox.com/GLEE for more information..."

02.05.2010: Performance Tips

Look closely. You may be able to spot a reference to a wildly popular CCDC faculty member in the following press release:
"...Hurley & Dancers presents the world premiere of Fresco Aroused Feb. 26, 28 and 28 at 7:30 p.m. at Westminster Presbyterian Church, as part of the Westminster Presbyterian Fine Arts Series. A multi-media performance with projections by visual artist Kun P. Nong, dancers interact with panels depicting the duality of themes from Ecclesiastes and other related texts.

General admission $10—First 50 general admission tickets FREE!

Performers are Kathleen Hurley, Brigham Hoegh, Lisa Lewis, Paula McArthur, Lindsay Schwab...and

>>> Alissa Hamer!!! <<<

With performing and choreography credits from New York City, Hong Kong, Germany and across the Midwest, Kathleen Hurley is able to bring her new choreography to the Westminster Presbyterian Fine Arts Series thanks in part, to funding from a Community Cultural Grant from the Dept. of Cultural Affairs.

...Thanks and hope to see you there!
Kathleen Hurley..."


Free chance to practice your Castellano and expand your horizons:
"...Drake University Center for Global Citizenship
International Film Series
Sunday, February 7: Te Doy Mis Ojos (Take My Eyes) (2005)
2pm-4pm, Meredith 101, Drake campus

Winner of seven Goya Awards, including Best Picture, Director, Lead Actor and Actress, Iciar Bollain's raw drama exposes the hard truths about domestic abuse. With her son in tow, battered wife Pilar finally flees her violent husband, Antonio, taking asylum at her sister Ana's home. Free from the clutches of her abusive husband, Pilar struggles to start a new life; problem is, she still loves Antonio. Screened in Spanish with English subtitles. Free and open to the public..."

02.04.2010: Other Notable Notez

Congrats to MmmaddSkyllz! She becomes only the second CCDC student to be accepted to the prestigious San Francisco Ballet Summer Session and the first female. She's been tentatively placed in Level 6 if she decides to go to my favorite city in the world! Just don't leave your heart behind if you decide to go to San Francisco, girl!o)
...Spotted this in a recent Dance Magazine: save ten bucks on orders of hundred bucks or more at Discount Dance. Just use code "DMM110" (without the quotes) before February 15.

02.04.2010: Keeping The 'Co$t' Outta 'Costumes'

Costumes and costs for the spring show are beginning to be posted in the CCDC lobby. Several parents who have experience at other studios have already given us positive feedback on the look...AND the prices in comparison to what they used to pay. One of our primary concerns is age appropriate costuming. (And, no kilts for the guys this year! Sorry to all you Scottish purists!o) The other goal is holding down costs to participate in the annual Spring Showcase/Recital. As one mom complained about her old studio, "So much for so many costumes every year. And you wear it once!" As I said before, one guy at my day job tells me he buys the equivalant of "a small car" every year to his daughter's other studio. But, kids also like to dress up in something more than ordinary. So, like all good dancers, we try to strike a balance between opposing forces!

02.03.2010: Audition Action

Your path to the Academy Awards could begin right here:
"...Tallgrass Theatre Company Audition Notice

Death and the Maiden is a complex psychological battle of wills between a woman and the man she believes to have tortured her during her days as a prisoner of her country’s former government. Trouble begins when Paulina’s husband Gerardo’s car breaks down and a seemingly friendly stranger, Dr. Miranda, provides Gerardo with a ride home. Paulina claims to recognize Dr. Miranda's voice and accuses him of torturing her. Dr. Miranda denies knowledge of such events, but Paulina is determined to have her revenge. Gerardo is caught in the middle, forced to decide if his wife is telling the truth or reacting irrationally due to her past trauma. The shifts in power between the three inevitably raise issues of justice and revenge.

Auditions
February 15 and 16
7:00 p.m.
Arrive early to complete information sheet. Prepared monologues not required.

Cast Requirements

  • Two men (30+)
  • One woman (30+)

Location
Rex Mathes Auditorium

Performances to be held April 16 – May 1

More information available here...."

02.02.2010: Congrats!

Kudoz being handed out as Capital City Dance Center students start receiving notices of acceptances to summer programs! The Leaner and Panic Attack accepted into Tulsa Summer Intensive. The NRGizer Bunny also accepted with a fifty-percent tuition waiver. Also, Ekaterina W00Tang notified of full scholarship to Tulsa as a precursor to possible position with Tulsa Too! AND/OR, she's been invited to take company class so the Artistic Director could take a look at her. Katya says one of the auditioners praised her "sound technical training"! So, kudoz2all! And, I expect much more to come b4 all is said and done!o)

02.01.2010: Answerz4ADancer!

So, here are those answers to that Balanchine questionnaire submitted by the "enquiring mind" of a CCDC dancer:
  • How is Balanchine technique and choreography different from any other type of ballet technique you have done? Do you/did you enjoy dancing Balanchine technique? Why?

    Balanchine technique to me evolved as an antidote to the classic extravagant Russian technique he had been trained and steeped in. But, it's been stripped away of excess, reduced to its essence of line, clarity and speed. When Mr. B came to the U-S, he apparently fell in love with Americans' emphasis on modernity and progress. It was a bustling culture that dispensed with trappings of tradition and aristocracy for the sake of practical democratic capitalism. His choreography and the training he cultivated for his dancers reflected the ethic of his adopted home country: clean, sleek, modern and unaffected. Less costumes, less mannerisms, less mime, less acting, less emoting, more pure dancing. His choreography mirrored similar trends in classical, neo-classic, abstract and modern painting and music.

    Did I enjoy it? I think I'm better at creating a character now than I was when I first started dancing. But, there's something always appealing about 'just dancing', steps pure and simple, reflecting the choreographer's intention with the least distortion. I appreciate the abstract ballets as well as the story ballets now as opposite ends of a classical spectrum. Is green better than yellow?

  • Has his choreography and way of movement exposed anything new to you about yourself that you didn't already know before? If so, has this helped you to grow as an artist?

    Every choreography, every dance, every step, every class, every exercise has the capacity to trigger some artistic growth in different dancers. The trick is to be open to alternate paradigms without succumbing to false and flashy prophets. I just know that when I watched Balanchine choreography, the steps and formations just seem natural, mathematical, symmetrical and crystalline.

  • Were you trained in Balanchine technique while growing up, or was it something you dove into once a part of the professional dance world? If so, was the transition difficult?

    I began training Balanchine technique a year or two after I started dancing and a few years later devoted myself exclusively to that training. (But, let's be clear, there is Balanchine and there is Balanchine. The technique I was taught is a shade different from what Merrill Ashley writes about in her book. The style and technique were constantly evolving.) Part of it was a charismatic, inspiring teacher who took an interest in me. Nolan Dingman learned his Balanchine technique during the Ford Foundation Grants in the sixties. He liked to tell us of the time Mr B took him into the kitchen of the hotel where the seminars were being held. And, while holding onto a kitchen sink, demonstrated the technique he wanted Mr D to teach his students. Before I started training with him, other students and teachers would make fun of the adulation and near-fanaticism Nolan Dingman's kids demonstrated. "There is no God but Balanchine," we would scoff. "And, Mister Dingman is his prophet." But, that was before I succumbed to that fanaticism myself. I do have to say that I had to learn to modify that extreme Balanchine technique when I was auditioning for non-Balanchine companies. Eventually, I like to think that I synthesized a compromise between classic-and-neo-classic technique that featured the best of both. I also trained for a time with Maria Tallchief in Chicago, she's a former dancer and wife of Balanchine. And, I took a workshop with Jacques D'Amboise while I was there. He taught us what he called some "lost Balanchine choreography". Oh, and a John Clifford workshop somewhere in there.

  • What are some of your favorite Balanchine pieces that you have been a part of? What makes these pieces significant to you?

    Other than Mr. D'Amboise's workshop, I have only danced two pieces I can recall that can be traced back to Mr. B. The Balanchine Foundation owns most of the exclusive copyrights to his choreography and only companies of a certain size, funding and reputation are allowed to present his works. I, having danced professionally only in the minor leagues, was never in a position to do those authorized works. However, as a student at the University, a teacher reset Balanchine's Pas de Trois on us from memory. "Fiendishly difficult" is what I remember thinking as an intermediate student. And, as a professional, I danced (name deleted's) Pas de Dix from Raymonda. As a former Pennsylvania Ballet principal, she swore it was the same "step for step" as the Balanchine version she danced in her old company. I remember enjoying it mostly because I was picked ahead of other dancers to understudy the lead. I like to think it was my Balanchine training that led to that casting decision. She later told me it was my "clean fifth position" at barre that tipped the scales in my favor.

  • What do you think is the main aspect of Balanchine technique that separates it from other techniques?

    As mentioned before: More clarity, speed and attack. Higher extensions, higher arms, over-crossed legs and positions. Fewer mannerisms, mime and character affectations. But, I would guess the most publicized and most-misunderstood aspect of Balanchine technique is the "heels off the ground" during jumps and the "open hips" in arabesque. But, that's an answer for another question.

  • Why do you think Balanchine is such a significant figure in the history of ballet?

    Balanchine did for ballet what the modernists did for painting and music, moving ballet out of the classical into the abstract, the neo-classical and he rejuvenated the artform. But, he did it without abandoning the traditional lexicon. Balanchine was not a modern choreographer per se, but, a neo-classic one. What may look obvious now in a decades old Balanchine piece was ground-breaking at the time. But, if you watch Prodigal Son for the first time, on the other hand, his group movements are still as fresh as when it debuted in the early part of the last century. The struggle now for many post-Balanchine choreographers is to not look like a pale imitation of true innovation.

  • What are qualities that you look for in a dancer-what makes you want to watch someone?
    I love to watch someone who loves to dance. I appreciate clean technique and, as a guy, I love to watch men who use proper classical technique to defy gravity in turns and jumps. But, as I've gotten older, I've grown to appreciate more subtleties on stage: classic, expressive ballet pantomime, the use of breath to initiate movement, epaulemente and aplomb, dancing with the eyes. Also, when I go to a club or, more so at a wedding, it's all the old ladies or old men or young kids who get up on the dance floor and shake their booties with primal abandon that always make me smile!o)
...And, again, any dancer or balletomane who'd like to answer any or all of these questions is welcome to join in the discussion. Email me! I'll forward any answers to the project director and may post some here.

01.28.2010: Buzz About Balanchine

Got a thought-provoking list of questions from a student working on a National History Day project the other day. The subject: George Balanchine. Here are the questions:
  • How is Balanchine technique and choreography different from any other type of ballet technique you have done? Do you/did you enjoy dancing Balanchine technique? Why?

  • Has his choreography and way of movement exposed anything new to you about yourself that you didn't already know before? If so, has this helped you to grow as an artist?

  • Were you trained in Balanchine technique while growing up, or was it something you dove into once a part of the professional dance world? If so, was the transition difficult?

  • What are some of your favorite Balanchine pieces that you have been a part of? What makes these pieces significant to you?

  • What do you think is the main aspect of Balanchine technique that separates it from other techniques?

  • Why do you think Balanchine is such a significant figure in the history of ballet?

  • What are qualities that you look for in a dancer-what makes you want to watch someone?
...Any dancer who'd like to answer any or all of these questions is welcome to join in the discussion. I'll forward any answers to the project director and they may be posted here. Send those answers to me. I'll be answering and posting my own thoughts in a few days.

01.27.2010: Apparent Updates

We get some feedback from CCDC students' parents after recent national auditions...
"...I wish that you could be a fly on the wall when (my daughter) leaves an audition. She appears so full of energy; I know that she is physically tired, but yet she is talking a mile a minute. I think that she came out of each audition a little more confident and comfortable with herself. Thanks for all that you do! She is loving it!..."
...and here's another...
"...Thank you for telling (my daughter) to smile--I have tried for years to no avail, but she did smile for this one and looked good! I even noticed the judges smiling back at her so yay! (She) looked good and even was able to show off her best side on everything. Wow her flexibility is coming along! Of course, she is still working on it, but she has really improved with you! There were (dancers from other studios) there and well let's just say she has much better core than they do (and these were some of their best dancers...)

...So I guess we will get the results in a couple of weeks, but they felt good about it.

(Oh and (another CCDC student) did well too, she looked great! ...all in all, your CCDC dancers showed you well! (Not that we expected otherwise, but you would have been very pleased with them if you had been there.))..."

01.26.2010: "Ballet" Elliot!

Here's a chance for boys to do "Broadway AND Ballet"! (Thanks to KT's Mom4the contribution!)
"...Open auditions are being held on Saturday, January 30th in Denver, Colorado for the roles of Billy and Michael in the Broadway and Chicago productions of BILLY ELLIOT. Boys of any ethnicity (max. height of 4'10") are invited to attend this FREE audition!

BILLYS - Boys, ages 9-12, strong dancers (especially in ballet).
MICHAELS - Boys, ages 9-12, strong singing voice, funny, tap a plus.

Billy Elliot
Date : January 30, 2010
Location : Academy of Colorado Ballet (Studio E)
1278 Lincoln Street
Denver, Colorado, 80203

What to Bring :

  • Recent Photo & Resume
  • Boys auditioning for Michael, please bring sheet music
  • Wear comfortable clothes and sneakers
  • Bring ballet, jazz, and tap shoes (if you have them)

Cost : FREE

For additional information, click here..."

01.25.2010: Audition Tipz

Since everyone's busy auditioning for summer sessions, just a reminder of some audition tips and skills:

Try to get to the audition site early, but, also try not to be the first or among the first to sign up at an audition. Normally, they make you line up by numbers. That means auditioner #1 stands at the front barre with no one in front of them. Now you may think that gives you good visibility and it does. But, if you have momentary balletzheimer's disease and mess up a combination, you have nobody in front of you to follow. It also means you're probably in the first group to go and don't have the luxury of watching and learning from others doing the combination first. So, I do recommend getting to auditions early so you don't have to rush in and start dancing cold. But, if they ask you to fill out forms and get a number, I always used to say I wasn't sure if I was going to audition or not and could I change and warm up while I decided. Be polite, but, firm. If they insist, say you have to use the bathroom first. Change there and wait until you see another group of dancers enter ahead of you. Don't be first...Unless you're super-confident and are familiar with the teacher's combinations already.

Do as many auditions as you can afford without sacrificing your regular training. Auditioning well is a seperate skill that you have to develop. Try to do a couple you don't really care about before you do the one you really want.

Bring your own pen. I also used to bring extra small safety pins with me to keep that paper number on securely. You don't want to be worried about it falling off while you're trying to do a tricky combination. Remember to use the bathroom. A little hand-towel if you prespire a lot. Bring some water or some tea or sport drink to stay hydrated. Bring your dance bag with you into the room unless you have a parent there to watch it. That's par for the course at most studios in most big cities. You can have some trail mix or granola bars in your bag for if the audition goes long and you need more sustenance. But, don't eat in the studio. Nothing with excess refined sugars! But, something small and easily digestable that you're used to eating on the run. Wear the leotard or dance outfit that makes you look the best. If you don't know, time for fashion show in front of your favorite female teacher. Warm up-well. Be sure to work your balances and placement BEFORE barre starts, but, don't tire yourself out. Don't ask unnecessary questions of the teacher/auditioner, but, don't be afraid to clear up differences in style or technique. Deep breaths if you're the nervous type. Merde! And, remember to relax and have FUN! Like I said before, it's hard to smile too much at an audition!

01.22.2010: Audition Action

Calling all actors!
"...Auditions for Curtains will be held at The Playhouse at 6:00 P.M. on Sunday, Feb. 14. All auditions are open to the public; no one is pre-cast. Those auditioning must bring a prepared solo; an accompanist will be provided.

Curtains contains feature roles for five men and four women ages 20-40, three men ages 40-60, and one woman age 45-65, plus an ensemble of men and women ages 16 and up. Performances are Apr. 9-May 2. Curtains is directed by John Viars.

In Curtains, a talentless actress suddenly drops dead during the curtain call of a new musical. Detective Frank Cioffi, ace detective and fervent musical fan, is called to the scene. Can he solve the case and find love before another diva drops?

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


...And, all you Modern/Contemporary Dancers! We have not forgotten you!o)
Gilles Jobin Dance Company (Geneva-CH) is auditioning for 1 male + 1 female contemporary dancer

Creation period june, september-october-november-december 2010-01-19 Tour 2010 and 2011 season. Very strong contemporary dance technique and experience needed. Audition will take place in Geneva and/or Paris/Berlin/Bruxelles in February. By invitation only. Please send a cv/résumé, photo and short motivation letter by email.


01.21.2010: Mark Ur Calendarz!

New Homeowner Hamer still hitz homerz!o)
"...Hello everyone,

I wanted to let you all know I will be performing in a concert with Hurley & Dancers (the professional modern dance company I work for...). Here are the details listed below.

Westminster Fine Arts Series presents Hurley & Dancers
February 26th, 27th, and 28th at 7:30 p.m.
Admission $10
Call for tickets...or email finearts@westpres.org

(If you see one of our posters,)...You can see part of my face in the middle!

I hope you can make it! If you have any questions, give me a call!

Alissa :)..."

01.21.2010: Ripplez From Da Lake

We ask. You respond. Here are some reactions from this weekend's Swi...er...Swan Lake: The first an apparent view of a student who went:
"...And they got good seats too.

The rating from Carmen was that it was OK--pretty good. Without training it did not look bad BUT she said that the dancers did not keep their turn-out when they would walk or run. (She said they were either kind of turned in and gripping. One girl even sickled.) Also their transitions were lacking. The show did have nice costumes and set. The choreography was entertaining and she liked the story line.

So overall she felt it was worth seeing. (Unfortunately she has too much training for her eyes to miss the errors in technique.)..."

...And, read between the lines on this one:
"...Spoke to my Ames ballet connection who had a comp ticket. Many gushing fans. Her response was " how nice to have such a large and appreciative audience!" as the house was nearly full..."

01.20.2010: Stuff2KeepUBusyOnAnIceDayOff


For those of you who miss choreographer Mia Michaels since she left SYTYCD, here's her thoughts on what it means to be a creative artist:
"...The calling in one’s life to be a creator is a huge responsibility to the world. There is no backing down once this realization of artistic destiny takes place. It is the commitment of one’s life, the artistic version of the monk. We are being used by God to affect and change the universe, shift the planet, and hopefully leave it forever altered. Once our calling takes place, it is our duty to respect, nurture, and dig into it so deeply that there is no other way of living. It becomes our life and our every breath. Everything we experience transforms into art..."
...and, you can read the rest of her thoughts here. And, apparently, you can always get much, much more of Mia.
Stumbled across a fascinating site, a 16-year old British dancer was recently accepted to the Bolshoi school and has her own blog:
"...Despite it being great fun I also have to work very hard and the daily routine can be gruelling at the best of times. I wake up every morning at 7.30am so that I am ready for Breakfast at 8.00am; after having breakfast I have two hours spare before my day kicks in so I spend my time stretching and doing my Russian language homework. The Russian motto is, ‘When you are not in class, you stretch’..."
...Hmmm..."...when you are not in class, you stretch..." Taking class today, hmmm? Here's more...
"...At 12.45pm I have my Classical Ballet lesson; at the beginning of the week we are given two exercises and are to remember them for the entire week. This is important because it tests our ability to memorise combinations and also allows us a whole week to improve on the movements we do not feel comfortable performing. I really enjoy my Ballet lessons; there are only 10 of us in the class so we receive a lot of attention and corrections which only enhances our training further.

On Mondays and Thursdays I will then have Acting class at 2.45pm. The purpose of acting is for us to master the skill of portraying feelings and emotions whilst dancing. We also do a lot of trust exercises in order to make us more confident when we come to do Partnering work.

On Fridays I have Repertoire at 2.45pm where I am taught variations from various ballets. We work on these variations for months until we are comfortable with them; if we prove to the teacher that our variations are worthy of being seen we are given the opportunity to put them into the end of year performance.

Every afternoon at 4.40pm I have Character dance; this is a form a dancing that involves using different styles such as Polish, Hungarian and Russian to name but a few. I am a huge fan of these lessons because my teacher (Maniev) fills us all with such enthusiasm that the class is always upbeat. Not to mention the fact that he views himself as a comedy genius so is always trying to humour us as best as possible..."

...Get more fascinating insights from Natalie Carter's blog. I've already bookmarked it.
...and that led me to this website. A cornucopia of ballet photos aptly titled "For Ballet Lovers Only". (Count me in!o) (And, here, specifically are photos from the Bolshoi's La Sylphide!)

01.19.2010: Murky (Smirky) Waterz

Apparently, someone else shares my doubts about ersatz touring Russian dance troupes. Just got this from a fellow balletomane:
"...I didn't get a chance to attend the performance in Ames. Honestly, it wasn't on my list of "things to see" since the previous dance troupe from Russia left me a bit disappointed to see any further shows from that country. The level of professionalism just wasn't there. Although, I think that this could be a different company and I can't really be judgmental before even I watch the performance,however, I just wasn't too excited about it after all. I hope someone else was able to attend the event and they are kind enough to write a review and perhaps then I will change my mind. But since I wasn't there it would be really hard to convince me that they've done a wonderful job. :)..."
...but, if anyone else went to Swan Lake this weekend, I'd like to hear your thoughts as well. E-mail me. There was a pretty big advertising budget for publicity beforehand. They were giving away free tickets at work, but, by the time I got to the front desk, they were gone. (All that were left were Home Show and Elvis Impersonator tickets!o) So, apparently, someone went to see the ballet. Hope there was a good turn-out. I couldn't have gone anyway what with the audition this weekend, but, I would've given the tickets to someone who deserved the exposure to more ballet (which is just about everyone, btw!)

01.18.2010: Real Man=Real Dancer!

Here's a cautionary tale for all you danseur*-wanna-beez from the BalletFor Men website. Don't let others force you to become a danseur*-shoulda-been. And, speaking of men in dance, CCDC is restarting Pas de Deux classes this month. All you guys with even a passing interest in learning how to "pick up" girls and getting in better shape, e-mail me ASAP!o) And, follow me on Twitter at @SirDanGuy.

(* BTW, Danseur is the answer to the question: "If ballerinas are all women, what do you call a male who dances ballet?" Pronounced "don-SYUR'".)

01.15.2009: Du Lac de Cygnes

For those of you who aren't advanced enough yet to audition for the 2010 CCDC Ballet this weekend, you might want to check out a production of Swan Lake by Moscow Festival Ballet just north of here. Click this to find out more. I stand by my recommendation to see as much live ballet as you can. But, just don't get your expectations up too high. The last two times I went to see performances by a touring group of lesser-known Russian dancers, it turned out to be a mixed bag at best. It seemed as if the producers hired a bunch of dancers that washed out of the larger, more legitimate and more established world-class Russian companies and set out to make a quick buck touring the USA. The corps de ballet was mismatched. Large sections of the traditional ballet plot-line were inexplicably left-out. The partnering was frequently ham-handed and laughable at times. The soaring Russian jumps were missing and earth-bound and pedestrian at best. There were a few moments and a few dancers that displayed flashes of brilliance, but, the experience was disappointing for the most part. Having said that, the Russians have a long tradition and culture of memorable Swan Lakes. Like I said before, see as much ballet as you can, just temper your expectations in this case. Sometimes you can learn more from bad ballet than you can be inspired by good.

01.14.2009: No Truth2DaRumor!

Why all the secrecy? There have been unfounded reports in the local newspaper and in at least one Christmas newsletter about which specific ballet Capital City Dance Center will be performing this spring. The decision was made by the Artistic Director and her (ahem!o) staff a few weeks ago, so why not just announce it and may the best dancer win? Well, we're just trying to keep the dancing surface level and not let enterprising students get a jump on familiarizing themselves with either the music or specific variations they may audition for this weekend. With the availability of YouTube and other web resources, if I were still auditioning, especially for a specific ballet or specific choreographer, I'd be familiarizing myself, watching as many versions and arming myself with as much knowledge as possible. But, as part of the education process, this weekend's audition will replicate a professional audition as much as possible. That means everyone starts learning together, no one gets a headstart. THAT'S why all the "secrecy"! (Here's a hint: It's a classical ballet that we haven't done before! Shhh! I've blogged too much already!o) But, that also translates into advice if you ever decide to audition for a professional company or production. If you're going to audition for Cats, for example, watch the show, listen to the music, learn the choreography, search blogs for anyone else who might've auditioned for it, talk to other dancers who might have had the experience. If you're going to audition for a company, learn about the repertory, the artistic director and resident choreographers. Contact dancers who might've already auditioned for that troupe. I could've told you after auditioning for Ballet Met, for example, that if you made all the preliminary cuts, you'd be asked to learn and perform an excerpt from Troy Games. After the audition for PNB, I could've told you the boys who were kept were asked to partner some of the girls and a specific move included the shoulder-sit. Also, after that audition for PNB, I could've told you that the former company member who gave class had FABULOUS feet. That could inspire you or discourage you and I'm hoping it's the former. But, back to this weekend's audition. You can't get ready for it the day before or the week before. All the hard work (or lack of it!o) that you've done in the weeks, months and years before lays the groundwork for a good audition. I'll repeat the advice from that Olympic Gold Medalist Coach (but put it in dance terms): "Do every ballet class like it's an audition. Do every audition like it's ballet class." Remember to breathe. Get there early to warm-up. Relax. Oh, and have FUN! Merde!

01.13.2009: Mosquito Punk

When I was a younger dancer, I trained alongside several students who went on to professional ballet or dance companies. One of them was Michael Johnson, who danced with Armitage and North Carolina Dance Theater after lying about his age to get into SAB. He got accepted with plane fare, full scholarship AND a weekly stipend. (Must be nice to be tall and talented!o) (He also got involved with the ex-wife of a guy in NCDT who ended up in the same company I danced in...which is apropos of nothing, but, proves "it's a small dance world after all"). But, before all that, when we were much younger, much dumber and training at the University of Hawai'i together, we were always eager to get more performing experience. One day, he came up to me excited about an audition notice he saw posted. For some reason, I decided not to attend, but, he did and got into the piece. After a couple rehearsals, I asked him how it was going. Michael just shook his head and said it was the worst thing he'd ever done. Some professor with no dance experience was trying to choreograph a performance art piece about his visit to the Colorado River. MJ said the dancers had to act out parts as the professor recited a blank verse narrative about his rafting trip. "We have to literally flap our arms and run around buzzing while he complains about the big mosquitoes!" Michael told me. I asked him why he didn't just drop out. He shook his head and mumbled something about needing the performance experience. I didn't say anything else, but, thanked my lucky stars I hadn't auditioned for that piece! That's just about the time when I figured out that all performing experiences aren't equal. As a dancer and a student, you have to realize that good performing and good rehearsal supplements training, but, it also consumes the very technique you're trying to build in class. The moral of this post is: Pick and choose what you commit to perform. Work with the teachers and choreographers who will challenge you in a good way! And, if anyone ever asks if you want to "flap your arms and swoop around pretending to be a mosquito", tell 'em to "buzz off!".

01.12.2009: Dance, Dance Resolution

This post expands on an earlier tweet: Last week's snow daze lends some extra emphasis to what's turning out to be our annual suggestion for your NY's resolution: How 'bout taking all your classes? Taking your scheduled classes solves a lot of problems. Consistent training means when there are interruptions to your schedule like last week's cancelled classes, there's minimum loss of time in your path to "perfection". I don't need to repeat that old Russian dancer saying about the audience knowing when you haven't been taking your classes. But, all these questions about how to get better, how to get higher extensions, more turns, etc...the first answer is always: Take your classes! For example, imagine a dancer who took Monday or Tuesday off expecting to be able to make-up those classes during the rest of the week. That could've ended up being as many as six days off from ballet! Nearly a week to get weak! Six daze away from getting better! Six daze of tightening up and losing strength and muscle tone! Sick daze of lounging on a couch noshing on fried foods! Six days! That's double the Russian threshold for bad ballet. So, if dancing well is important to you, taking your classes should be a priority! 'Nuff said! Word2da wise!

01.08.2009: Trading Spaces

Message from local dance supply store:
"...A year has come and gone and we want to thank everyone who has supported us during our first year! It means everything to us.

In order to become more centralized, we have decided to relocate our store to better serve everyone. We're moving to a new location on Fleur Drive. Attached is information on when and where.

Hope to see you all at our new location!

All Star Dance Supply..."

...and this was attached...
ALL STAR DANCE SUPPLY IS MOVING!!!
February 1, 2010

To: 4214 Fleur Drive, Ste. 1
We Look Forward To Your Visit!
All Star Dance Supply Company

Mon – Thurs 10-7
Fri – Sat 10-5
Closed Sunday

Email: AllStarDance@q.com
Website: AllStarDanceSupply.Com

01.07.2010: Senior Special

Hey, Class of 2010! Free Money available here:
"...Arts Scholarship Deadline Feb. 8

High school students planning to enter college next year with a major in an arts discipline have until Monday, Feb. 8, 2010, to apply for the 2010 Scholarship for the Arts. Offered annually by the State Arts Council, the scholarship is awarded to students who will graduate from high school during the 2009-2010 academic year and plan to pursue a proven artistic ability in dance, literature, music, theater, traditional arts or visual arts at an Iowa college or university. The application is available here.

Each recipient will receive $1,000 toward his or her 2009-2010 college tuition and related expenses as a full-time undergraduate at a fully accredited in-state college or university with a major in one or more of the disciplines considered for the award.

To be considered for the award, students must complete the scholarship application available here, write an essay about their future career goals in the arts and include two letters of recommendation.

Applications and attachments are due by 4:30 p.m., Monday, Feb. 8, 2010. Incomplete, illegible, handwritten or faxed applications will not be accepted. Application review, criteria, approval and notification process information is available here. Or e-mail Sarah Ekstrand for more information..."

01.06.2010: From Hear 2 Their

For all of you dancers thinking of turning or returning to "the dark side" this new year. Click here for an ABC News Nightline investigation into the growing dangers of...cheerleading! (Now, if only some enterprising journalist would do an expose' into the hidden dangers of what their followers often call "swing choir"...)
Performance Tip:
"...Fourth Annual Playwrights Workshop
Flutter the Dovecotes by Christine Meinecke

Flutter the Dovecotes, an old English saying that means “causing a stir in a quiet setting,” takes a comedic look inside the staff lounge of a psychiatry office. Schemes, temper tantrums and narcissistic delusions give rise to one selfless act.

Performances
7:30 p.m.
Fridays and Saturdays
January 15–30

Location
Rex Mathes Auditorium

Click here for more info..."


01.05.2010: Audition Rescheduled

Auditions for Capital City Dance Center's 2010 Spring Showcase are being rescheduled due to conflicts. The auditions will be Sunday, January 17, 2010, starting at 2:30pm. Auditions are open to any CCDC PreProfessional Ballet Program student who takes a Ballet V class or higher. The corps de ballet auditions will be first and lower level dancers will be excused as the soloist and principal roles are considered. The most advanced dancers can expect to be there until around 5:30pm or so.

01.04.2010: Happy Gnu Decayed!

Back to work today! Back to the barre tonight! Back with a renewed sense of optimism and alacrity! Kudoz to all the CCDC students who took advantage of the break classes to stay in shape through that long dark night! Also, a tippa da hat to the students from other programs and schools (including Joffrey Chicago!) who dropped in for a few classes. And, always nostalgic to see CCDC alums back in da house! Including Zooper Grrl, StPauliBoy and StPauliGrrl! Plus, a lotta younger students started taking break classes for the first time over the last two weeks. Good sign! Marks you as "one2watch"! Esp. the one Ballet 3/4!o) Keep up the good work! Gr8 way 2 start a brand new decade of dance at Capital City Dance Center!

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