Core Competency: Pilates to the Rescue!

Do you struggle when you teacher asks you to engage your core during battements, balances and turns? The core muscles – not to be confused with the muscles that create a six-pack – are vital for a dancer in any genre. Ballet especially, with its specific and sustained demands on your posture and alignment, constantly uses the concepts that pilates specifically addresses.

Control of your core or “powerhouse” goes hand in hand with dance and is fundamental for proper ballet and pointe technique, but it can often be one of the most difficult things to master. Your torso has layers upon layers of muscles. Generally, the core refers to the muscles from your abs, sides and back at the deepest layers which are designed to provide support to the spine. Of course, if you are looking to get that six-pack look (which is created by the more superficial layers of the abdominals), core training is still an important part of reaching that goal.

Pilates was created by Joseph Pilates, a prize-winning gymnast from Germany. This method is alive and well today because of its consistent and excellent results. Pilates opened his first studio right alongside a number of dance studios, and Pilates soon became an integral part of the dancers’ regimen.

Many ballet schools provide classes or even require them for their students. If you are interested in Pilates training, look for a certified instructor. Ideally, find a former dancer or dance teacher that understands the complexities of Pilates as it is intended for dancers. Private lessons are fantastic for beginners. If you don’t know where to look for a qualified instructor, check out the Pilates Method Alliance® for a list of first-generation teachers (who studied under Pilates and his wife) and to search their PMA Pilates Certified Teacher database.

Blood, sweat & blisters (via Boys and Ballet)

Here’s a long but good article on an upcoming UK television documentary about the many and varied sacrifices of a few select UK ballet students.

Blood, sweat & blisters Striving to become the next Darcey Bussell or Wayne Sleep takes hours of dedication, determination – and heavy financial investment. Emily Woodrow speaks to five young Welsh dancers with a dream to succeed in the ballet world and discovers the major sacrifices that they and their families have made.   Western Mail Photographs by the BBC Aug 21 2010 IT takes hard work, determination and discipline to become a professional ballet dancer, not to men … Read More

via Boys and Ballet

Dancewear en l’air: The Knit Bolero Shrug

Looking for a warm-up top that won’t hide your beautiful leo? A bolero-length shrug is your answer. Lydia, by Bloch, is a beautiful and well-made option in Bloch’s signature cashmere-like knit blend.

This long sleeve top features ribbing detail at the cuffs and covers you from shoulders to wrists in one of four classic colors. Accessorize with legwarmers or a pretty chiffon wrap skirt to balance this look.

Ballet in Film: The Corella Ballet Documentary

Ok, so if you were born after 1995, you might not have had the googly-eyes for Angel Corella during his tenure as a completely adorable principal dancer of ABT and Paloma Herrera’s often partner. But you can now if you watch him and his own ridiculously gorgeous company dancers in their fab new upcoming documentary!

This film is about Corella’s revival of ballet in his home country of Spain, which went without a major company for a long time until Corella decided recently to start his own, the Corella Ballet de Castilla y Leon. Thanks once again to DanceMedia, you can enjoy the preview trailer, which includes tantalizingly long snippets of company class, rehearsals and performances, including Corella himself dancing and teaching, during their preparation for my personal favorite ballet, La Bayadére. Try not to drool!

For those of you that reside down South here with moi, Corella Ballet will be performing in New Orleans on its 2011 tour, and you can check that out here.

Dancewear en l’air: The Figure-Flattering Character Skirt

Impossible you say? How can a frumpy character skirt possibly flatter your figure? When its a sleek and not ridiculously long wrap style. Thanks to Bal-Togs, you have just such an option with 86, available through On Stage Dancewear.

This style is conveniently available in multiple lengths. I think character skirts look best when they just cover the knee – anything longer is too cumbersome and mature looking. You can’t play the part of a young European peasant if you look like an elderly marm! Also, the wrap cut of this skirt eliminates the frumpy, schlumpy gathers that the elastic-waist versions often have and which can add unattractive volume to the hips. Just make sure a wrap style is allowed in your character class, and then get ready to mazurka!

Dance Unions & Contracts: Meet AGMA

AGMA is the American Guild of Musical Artists, and if you’re thinking of dancing professionally, you could one day be a member. AGMA is a union of professional performing artists, including musicians, opera singers and dancers. AGMA negotiates contracts with performing companies, administrates retirement funds, posts auditions and hosts a relief fund for members in need.

If you are interested in dancing professionally, you might like to check out this page to review AGMA union dance contracts of some major companies for the current and recent past few years.