Los Angeles

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Dancing Through Life ~ Taryn

I am so thrilled to post another Dancing Through Life feature with my good friend and part-time boss Taryn Chase!  Taryn is a truly inspiring dancer, as is her mother and sister.  Her parents own a dance studio in Brentwood called Dance for Kids and she owns her very own dance and active wear boutique in the same shopping center fittingly called Brentwood Dance and Activewear!  She has major style, total taste and carries the cutest workout clothes at her shop (including discontinued LolaStretch Leos--go get some!)  I am so honored to be her friend and I'm so glad she decided to share how she keeps dancing through her life....

1.  When did you start dancing? 

I started dancing not too long after I learned to walk, I think I was 2

2.  What styles did you train in and which is your favorite?  

I trained primarily in ballet, tap and jazz when I was young, and then modern in college. I always gravitated towards jazz or lyrical (these days people call it contemporary :-)

3.  Did you dance professionally or in college?  If so, where, what schools, companies and/or shows? 

I was a dance major in college. I performed in  3 dance concerts per season and had the honor to work with choreographers such as John Pennington, Victoria Koenig, Stephanie Gilliland and  Loretta Livingston just to name a few.  I was also selected to attend ADF (American Dance Festival) at Duke University for a summer intensive and ACDF (American College Dance Festival) 3 years in a row.

4.  When did you decide to pursue a career other than that of a dancer?
In college, I was a double major- Dance and Psychology. At the end of my senior year, I realized that I did not want to pursue either as a profession. I loved dance more than anything in the world, but for me it was always more of a hobby and interest. I didn't have that "can't live without it" passion that is needed to be a starving artist. 

5.  What do you do now?  

After a long string of jobs for 8 years in the retail industry, I have found a way to combine my love of dance with my professional experience. I opened a Dancewear store in August of 2009. 
the interior of Brentwood Dance and Activewear

6.  How has dance affected your life?  How does it inspire you? 

I say this to every mom who comes into my store saying that they are not sure if dance is for their daughter: whether you dance for a year or your whole life, dance gives children so much! It gives a sense of mind body connection, a spacial awareness, a feeling for what it's like to work hard and be dedicated to something. It also ingrained in me an importance on physical fitness. Even though I don't get to dance much anymore, I am very active, I do yoga and pilates, I go to the gym and it brings me back to my roots. Dancers always inspire me because I know how much dedication and passion it takes to succeed. And even then, it's not a glamorous lifestyle, so you know they do it for the LOVE!

7.  Do you feel like your dance background helped you in other aspects of your life?  Did it contribute to your other successes?  

Dance contribute to my life in so many ways, but the funniest of which is parallel parking! When I very first started driving, I was an excellent parallel parker. My mom always attributed it to my mind, body, spacial awareness- from being a dancer!!! 

8.  How do you keep a hand in the dance world?  How do you support it? 

It is amazing to have my dancewear store. I get to keep a hand in the dance world, and give back all it gave to me. I see little dancers on a daily basis, and nurture and encourage their love of dance. It gives me so much joy to help a little one find her first pair of ballet shoes, or watch a dancer grow and develop and suddenly get her first pair of pointe shoes! 
SYTYCD ballerina Melissa Sandvig with Taryn at the shop
9.  Do you have a favorite dance film, book or dancer? 

My favorite cheesy dance film is Center Stage. I watched it countless times in college!  My favorite classic dance movie is Singin' in the Rain. And my favorite movie about dance is Strictly Ballroom.

10.  Do you plan to keep dancing throughout your life?

I hope to always keep one foot in the dance community. It is frustrating to go back after so many years because you know what you should be doing, but your body doesn't always correspond. I try not to get discouraged though, so I am actually going to a class tonight! Wish me luck :-)

What a great way to live a life full of dance, family and fashion, don't you think?  Thanks Taryn for sharing what you love about dance and the ways in which you keep dancing through life If you are or were a dancer and want to share how you are dancing through your own life, email me and let me know! 

Friday, March 25, 2011

Dancing Through Life~ Heather

Today's Dancing Through Life Featured dancer is one of my favorite people, Heather Weingart.  Heather and I trained at the same dance academy in Van Nuys and performed many a Nutcracker together.  But then I joined a company and Heather was still in high school...you know how things go, we lost touch.  The amazing thing is we reconnected in college!  Heather ended up living in the house next door to mine and we were camp counselors together!  I am so thrilled that Heather has agreed to share her way of dancing through life here on 'le blog'.  I think you'll agree she does it with major style!   
1.  When did you start dancing?
I started dancing when I was around 4 years old. I remember being in a ballet class with all my friends from preschool and doing leaps across the floor!

2.  What styles did you train in and which is your favorite?
I trained in tap, jazz and ballet. To be honest, it’s easier to say which was my least favorite – and that was ALWAYS ballet! I loved tap and jazz. However, the more I trained in ballet, the more I found my technique in both jazz and tap grew stronger. I first began pointe classes when I was 12 and I truly believe it made me a stronger dancer.

3.  Did you dance professionally or in college?  If so, where, what schools, companies and/or shows?
I never danced professionally – however, throughout college (for 6 years total) I was a “Disc Jockey Dancer” with an entertainment company called You Should Be Dancing. I led the YMCA and other fun dances at Bar Mitzvahs and loved every second of it. It led me into emceeing and hosting which is what I’m currently pursuing.

4.  When did you decide to pursue a career other than that of a dancer? 
In college I realized just how much I loved talking. I was a tour guide at UCLA and after graduating became a Page at Paramount Pictures. Giving tours of the studio lot (and walking backwards for a living), I really found a passion in public speaking. I then pursued a role as Talent with Radio Disney and the rest is history! I never stopped dancing at events throughout those years – and still dance at our local Radio Disney events today (does the Hannah Montana Hoedown Throwdown count as dancing?)
5.  What do you do now?
I am currently a Promotion Coordinator with Radio Disney. I help plan and execute large, interactive events for families and our listeners throughout Southern California, while running promos, spots, creative recaps, etc. on air and online for Disney. I get to travel to other Radio Disney markets (most recently Dallas and Denver) to help execute events in other regions – hosting events on the microphone in front of large crowds, introducing celebrities onto stage before concerts (Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez to name a few), and interacting with kids through games, dancing and contests!

6.  How has dance affected your life?  How does it inspire you?
Dance has affected my life in so many ways. I feel like I have more rhythm than the average gal – I’m always able to bust-a-move anywhere and everywhere and it’s helped me immensely in my job (and social life for that matter!). I love teaching and choreographing new fun dances to some of our Radio Disney Top 30 songs and executing them at events. Most importantly, I absolutely love PERFORMING. Dancing led me to the stage where I realized just how much I adore being in front of a crowd and performing for a captive audience. I don’t think there’s any more thrilling feeling in the world. I find that it inspires my creativity at work – especially given the upbeat and fantastic music that Radio Disney promotes.

7.  Do you feel like your dance background helped you in other aspects of your life?  Did it contribute to your other successes?
My dance background has helped me in a variety of aspects in my life. As mentioned above, dancing is a huge part of my job that I use constantly. I love being able to let loose on a dance floor – or even do follow-along moves at our events. I love coming up with inventive ways to make kids move it and have a blast with our Road Crew. I must admit that I dance, or use my dance background, almost every single day!
8.  How do you keep a hand in the dance world?  How do you support it?
I love attending shows and performances where dancing is involved. I watch shows on television that center around dancing and talented performers (i.e. So You Think You Can Dance). I definitely could support the dance world more, and am looking for ways to do so (maybe being part of this blog is a good start?!)  

9.  Do you have a favorite dance film, book or dancer?
I know it’s cheesy, but Center Stage was such a big film for me growing up. I considered myself a “prima ballerina” at the time and just loved seeing a group of dancers go through similar experiences, competitive situations, etc. as I experienced. My favorite dancer is HEATHER TONER!!!! 

10.  Do you plan to keep dancing throughout your life? 
YES. ABSOLUTELY. NO DOUBT ABOUT IT. DUH! Dancing makes me happy. Whether it’s a dancing exercise class (I’m kind of obsessed with Zumba right now) or just tapping my toe to the music playing in my office at work, dancing never fails to bring a smile to my face. It brought me so much joy growing up and continues to do so every day. Even after answering these questions… right now… I feel like getting up and dancing! 
Completely inspiring, don't you think?  Thanks Heather for sharing what you love about dance and the ways in which you keep dancing through life!  If you are or were a dancer and want to share how you are dancing through your own life, email me and let me know!  
Happy Friday Everyone!

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Night at the Ballet!

So as you may remember, the boy and I attended Saturday night's performance by the Los Angeles Ballet.  It was fun to be out on the town and back at UCLA (the theater was on campus) but I think we had mixed feelings about the actual ballet.  
Me and the Bruin Bear-- we roamed campus before the show, and the rain!

On the one hand its refreshing to see that the company is still going and seems to have expanded their number of dancers.  They have the privilege of being able to perform great works by Balanchine, such as Raymonda Variations and Western Symphony, two of the three pieces performed Saturday night.  And they have new choreographers offering them pieces too.  But even with all that I think they still haven't quite reached the level of expertise and professionalism they are gunning for...There were several moments during the show when I felt like I was watching a school academy performance.  The dancers seem young and lack a level of confidence and precision that sets the professionals apart from the amateurs.  Perhaps they were just having an off night, but I have a feeling they are just a few steps short of being a really professional and skilled company.  Although Western Symphony's upbeat music, fun costumes and flirty characters did help to end the evening on a crowd-pleasing note (it also finally allowed the dancers to show what they had by way of stage presence and personality.)  It was by far the strongest piece of the program.  I have hopes for LAB's future indeed, but they're still a ways away from being counted among the companies in ballet's "major leagues."  Maybe next season!        

Friday, March 18, 2011

Dancing Through Life~ Alycia

 I am so thrilled to post my first ever dancing through life dancer feature and I think we're starting with a very special dancer indeed.  I am sure many of you know Alycia of the fanta-bu-lous blog The Curious Pug, but did you know she was a ballerina?  Well she is and she was gracious enough to share her dance experience with us.  I am so honored to have Alycia as my very first featured dancer.  Here is how she has been dancing through life....

 When did you start dancing? 

My mom put me in dance class when I was 3 and I danced all the way to college!

 What styles did you train in and which is your favorite? 

Ballet, which was my main focus, jazz, and a little teeny bit of tap and Irish step. Ballet was my favorite.

  Did you dance professionally or in college?  If so, where, what schools, companies and/or shows? 

I danced a little in college, but not as my major or anything. I just wanted to keep it up while studying for my degree in Speech Pathology. Eventually I had to stop because my schedule got too full with required major courses. But each summer since I was 13 to 17 I spent my summers in Saratoga, NY studying dance at the Briansky Ballet Center (This one time, at dance camp....hehe!) That was where I really developed my technique and skills.
Alycia and her sister in A Midsummer's Nights Dream--Alycia is the one in the back in arabesque!

  When did you decide to pursue a career other than that of a dancer?  

I knew I didn't want to pursue dance as a career probably when I was 17, right around the time kids start looking at colleges. I didn't enjoy hearing teachers tell me to suck in my already flat stomach and tuck in my booty (ok, that part of me was always a little fluffy) but I also have scoliosis and I just knew that I'd probably never get any better in my technique than I already was. I just wasn't having that much fun anymore and wanted to try new things!

 What do you do now? 

Now, I am an X-ray technician. I knew I wanted a career that dealt with the human body since dance had such a huge impact on my life. Even though I went to college for speech pathology, I realized that I didn't want to be a speech pathologist after all (sorry mom and dad's bank account!) So I went back to school in 2007 to study radiology (which just so happened to have free tuition because it was a hospital-based program. Go figure!)

 How has dance affected your life?  How does it inspire you? 

I feel that dance has affected me in almost every way you can think. I am aware of my body (kinesthetics is the word I think!) I also feel that I learned an enormous amount of respect and discipline through dance.  People who don't even know me ask if I was a dancer because of the way I walk and my posture. But the most important thing is I am very dexterous with my feet!  HAHA!  I can precisely pick things up off the floor with my toes when I don't feel like bending down. I could probably draw you a picture too ;)

But dance definitely still inspires me. I always get butterflies in my stomach when I see a professional ballet performance. I know what's good and what isn't. I literally get chills watching men do pirouettes because they keep spinning and spinning and spinning.  It's bittersweet to watch. Sometimes it makes me sad to watch a ballet because of giving it up, but at the same time I am really happy with my life choices that I have made because I have done so.

 Do you feel like your dance background helped you in other aspects of your life?  Did it contribute to your other successes? 

Most definitely, like how I mentioned earlier with respect and discipline. And also in the creative part of my life. Dance was the first art I learned before sewing and crafting.

 How do you keep a hand in the dance world?  How do you support it? 

I suppose you could say I have a "fingertip" in the dance world because I don't really go out of my way to seek out dance related things anymore. But if I come across a blog or internet article about dance,  I will read it.

 Do you have a favorite dance film, book or dancer? 

I really love Joffrey Ballet's "Billboards." It was the first ballet I saw that was actually cool to me with all the music by Prince. And as a girl from New York, the New York City Ballet was my favorite company with my favorite dancers being Darcy Kistler and Wendy Whelan.

 Do you plan to keep dancing throughout your life?  

Maybe perhaps someday as a way to get in shape, like a jazz class or some other fun dance class with a friend. Nothing serious though. And with lot's of baggy clothes! Besides, big booty's are cool now ;)

Thanks Alycia for sharing what you love about dance and the ways in which you keep dancing through life!  If you are or were a dancer and want to share how you are dancing through your own life, email me and let me know!  
Happy Friday Everyone!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Dancing Through Life

Once a dancer, always a dancer.  It's true and then again, it's not.  So many girls give dance a try when they're young and many stick with it well into their teen years.  But after that, it is usually just the super serious ones that continue.  Especially in ballet. 

Dance requires discipline, strength, flexibility, a thick skin, artistry, athleticism and, often times, a very specific body-type.  All that together makes going pro a huge accomplishment, usually filled with plenty of sacrifices, aches and pains.  Additionally, if you do become a professional dancer, there's the challenge of making it big, finding jobs, working for next to no money and all before you get to be too old (and in ballet that can sometimes be as young as your early thirties.)  That's to say, it is often a short-lived career with a lot of potential for injury and it's usually not one that will make you rich. 

For all these reasons and more, many professional dancers find careers and jobs in other fields.  I myself found that I needed to leave the professional dance world and live as a "normal" person for a while.  I went to college and got a job in commercial production and basically turned my back on ballet completely....But I missed it. 

I had to find a way to make dance a part of my life again, but not my whole life.  That may sound simple, but it really is a difficult task, at least it was for me.  The nature of the work and the business basically requires that you give it your all.  You suffer for your art.  Dance always has to come first and family, friends, money and your well being are often put to the back burner.  But I think I have finally reached a point in my life where I've found the right balance. 

I have a good job that keeps me from going broke on dancer's wages.  I have a fantastic home life with my boy.  And I have time to see my friends, go places and do all the fun things I want to do.  But I managed to find little ways to keep dance as part of my life.  This blog is one of them.  I also teach occasionally on the weekends, I take class and I perform now and then with my friends and in situations that are usually just for fun and with no long term commitments.  I work at a dance-wear store one Saturday a month.  I make tutus for little ballerinas and I contribute to another dance blog called DIY Dancer

Dance will always be a huge part of my life and makes up a great deal of who I am and what I'm passionate about--but it's not all I am and I think that's pretty cool.
click to enlarge!

So, if you're still with me, I am planning a new serious of Camp Ballet posts that feature women who have danced and/or still dance, but have also found careers and jobs in other avenues.  It's called Dancing Through Life and I hope it shows how diverse dancers can be and the ways in which dance can be a part of every life in some way or another.   I hope to feature everyone from the amateurishly to the professional and I would especially love to find other bloggers who are interested in sharing their dance backgrounds (I know you're out there!) 

If you're interested in being featured please let me know by emailing me or leaving a comment below.  And I hope you enjoy this new series! 


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

While Los Angeles is not historically the best place to see live ballet, we are definitely making progress towards a more ballet friendly arts culture.  Maybe it's just an offshoot from the Black Swan bandwagon, or maybe our fair city has risen to the challenge of "So You Think You Can Dance," being filmed right here in our midst.  Either way the month of March gives way to a couple of live ballet performances that I am certainly keen on checking out.

Los Angeles Ballet's Celebration:

My brother in law, Neil and his wife Katie gave me a gift certificate for LAB this year as a birthday gift and I'd like to use it to see this performance.  A mixed bill of Balanchine's Raymonda Variations, Western Symphony and a premier piece from Sonya Tayeh, this production is set to run March 5th to the 20th and promises to be a fun and highly pleasing array of classical and contemporary.  In all honesty, I am thrilled to see any Balanchine work being performed in my town, so that alone is enough to get me really excited about what LAB is doing these days!
this photo is actually from Miami City Ballet's production of Western Symphony...source here.. I just love that ballet so much, I had to include a picture! 
Silverlake Contemporary Ballet:

The Hipster happening community of Silverlake debuts their very own contemporary ballet company on March 5th at 7:30pm in Studio A on Hyperion.  Click here for more deets and tickets.  This is a collaborative company that incorporates popular music, film and dance in a complete evening of art. 
City Ballet of Los Angeles Peter & the Wolf Jump Cool:

I don't know that much about this company except that they are based downtown and are all about implementing outreach programs for young people in LA.   That alone is enough to make me want to learn more and see them perform.  But I am also intrigued by the title of their upcoming performances Peter & the Wolf Jump Cool.  Sounds like fun.  It's described as a mixed repertory, and actually isn't slated till May 26th, but it's definitely one to pencil on the old calendar.  

So as always, I implore you, if you're an angelino or will be in town during some of these performances, show the LA ballet community a little love and take in a performance or two.  If nothing else, these companies are doing their part to add a dash of grace to the city of angels and that's something to smile about!     
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