Los Angeles

Thursday, January 20, 2011

When I grow up...

Last night, I was lying in bed blogging and catching up on reading my favorite blogs and I found myself totally engrossed in this post from Sometimes Sweet's Dani Hampton.  I love Dani's blog so much, but I found this post to be especially thoughtful and relevant to where I am in my life right now.  So here is my response/inspired post about what I've grown up to be....just a warning, this is a long wordy, sentimental, personal and mushy one.
I'm the little one on the far left...such a little snot!
I never wanted to be anything other than a ballerina.  It's all I can remember ever really wanting to be when I grew up.  And I treated it not so much as a dream, but as a calling of sorts, something I was meant to do no matter the obstacles.  I suppose that perhaps there are things like that for everyone, and luckily I did actually have some talent for dance and was a natural performer. 

The funny thing is, when I was young, training so hard to become a professional ballerina, I never once thought of anything else.  I never thought about marriage, or kids or life after dance...you can't do it forever you know.  I was so focused that I think I was really surprised by how I felt when I actually grew up and became a ballerina.  It wasn't the be-all, end-all, life-affirming result I had been expecting for 18 years.  In fact, it was so much less than I wanted it to be.  Life actually felt empty and I know now that I just wasn't living  a well-balanced lifestyle.  I put too much emphasis on ballet and I let it define who I was and it ended up letting me down.  After dancing in two companies and less than 3 years into my career as a ballet dancer, I left it, heartbroken and with no idea what to do with my life.

Now I am 28, and 28 sounds grown up to me.  But looking at how I got here, and everything I've accomplished in 28 years, I have to say, I am really quite happy.  I went to college, got an English degree, met the boy, traveled to Europe, found dance again, worked in Hollywood... I've lead a pretty charmed life, and while I never expected to be married and working the administrative side of education, I have to say it's right where I want to be in my life.  I've also found a way to keep a hand in ballet, doing just enough of it so that it remains a fun part of my life, without being all of my life (though I have had moments when I fell back into old unhappy crazy dancer habits.  Eh, it happens.)  

I'm really excited about the future and it's funny how the things I want to be now have changed so much.  Now I finally feel like I want to have a family, I want to have a home, I want to make things and live a simple life filled with love.  I guess when you "grow up" you realize that those are the things you really want in life--it's not what you'll be as much as who you'll be.  And I am happy I grew up to be me!  

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Dance is Visual

Dance is a visual artform.  (You may be saying, uh yeah, I knooooww.  But hear me out.)  While it's awesome to watch videos of all kinds of dancers, just looking at pictures of professional dancers can actually be a huge asset to your training too.  Whether you are just beginning or have been dancing for ages, images can inspire, instruct and enhance your own style and implementation of your dance training.  

This is especially evident in ballet.  There are so many details, little nuances and subtle adjustments that are hard to put into words and often are not things that teachers aren't able to discuss in just a typical hour and a half technique class.  Look at photos of dancers you admire.  See the placement of their fingers, the winging of their foot, their expression!  You can learn so many things from just examining photographs of dancers who are creating the shapes and the expression that we all want to achieve.  

Here are just a small sampling of ballet photos I adore~

 The brilliant Darcy Bussell

 The Amazing Alina Cojocaru
 The Perfect Paloma Herrera

The Stunning Sylvie Guillem

* I had a hard time finding sources on these, if you know credits please let me know and I will update the post!  Thanks!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Camp Ballet

HI Peeps,

This is a new feature I am trying out this year called:
In these features I will be tackling some dancer-themed ideas, DIY's,  giving some advice to the young dancers out there who may read this blog and sharing some ballet inspired photos and videos.  All these things get me excited about dance and I hope they'll do the same for you!

For the first installment I will share my thoughts on the most looming of ballet bothers: Auditions!

Nutcracker Season is officially over and unfortunately, that means audition season is about to begin.  But do not despair! Auditions can be fun and extremely beneficial if you look at them the right way.   I tell all my students (who are old enough) to go to as many summer intensive auditions as they can.  I think it's wonderful experience and you can really learn a lot, even if you have no intention of going away for the summer.  If you are looking to attend some auditions over the next few months, here are some quick and simple tips to keep in mind as you fill out those registration cards and pin on those numbers. 

Here we go, once more from the top, facing away from the mirror...a-5,6,7,8! ( If you don't get my reference, that's from the opening number in A Chorus Line, when they are at...an audition!)

* Remember that while a moderate dose of competition can be healthy, it's always more important to be calm, composed and polite.

* Pick out something special to wear that distinguishes you, without being distracting. Like pretty flowers tucked into your bun, or simple sparkly earring studs. The worst thing you can do at an audition is blend in, but you also don't want to come across as anything less than elegant and understated. While bright colored and revealing leos are generally a no-no, try to not fall into wearing the same M-Stevens black leotard for every audition....there are always more black leos in an audition classroom than any other color. Don't be afraid to stand out a bit!

* Be sure to always bring extra cash in 5's to every audition. Just keep a spare change purse in your dance bag. Especially if you are attending a lot of auditions, it's easier than you think to get costs of different ones mixed up. Is it $20 or $25? With some extra moola you'll always be covered.

* Put together an audition emergency kit, complete with extra tights, sewing supplies for quick fixes, extra bobby pins, pointe shoe ribbon, safety pins, the works. You want to be prepared for whatever mishaps that may come your way. Having enough of everything will allow you to focus on your dancing, not sweat the small stuff.

* Don't wear black tights. Don't wear skirts or warm ups that cover your body. Not only does it keep the audition-ers from seeing your body, it is not proper ballet etiquette and you may be perceived as rude.

* Keep in mind that many audition classes are taught by world renowned artistic directors, teachers and dancers. So even if it's not the school of your dreams, or you don't get an acceptance in the end, take the class with an open mind and learn as much as you can. Like a master class, it can be a great opportunity to get another professional's view and critiques.

* Try to have fun! Go to auditions with a group of other dancers from your school. Stick together and help each other calm your nerves. Looked at with the right eye, auditions quickly become fun and inexpensive master classes where you can expand your knowledge and push your boundaries!

So give it your best and as my mom would say to me, "Dance Pretty!"

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