Ballet in Print: With Ballet in My Soul

with-ballet-in-my-soul-768x838Eva Maze has lived a more exotic and unrelentingly exciting life than most dream of. With Ballet in My Soul: Adventures of a Globetropping Impresario is a stunning adventure into a ardent young person’s pursuit of art and passion for sharing it. Her memoir is as much a gift to the world as was her contribution in bringing Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater to Germany, braving international conflict in producing a folklore festival for the Munich Olympics, or touring stars of London Festival Ballet to India, where ballet had not been seen since Pavolva’s tour 30 years earlier.

Eva Maze became a bold and astute art and business professional in a time when most married ladies did not work, in one of the most difficult industries in which to attempt success. She gives due credit to her late husband’s steadfast support, both emotionally and financially, without sugarcoating the realities of living often apart. Its clear, however, that it was her intellectual gifts and commitment to education and knowledge that formed the foundation of her success and helped her take advantage of the opportunities that came her way through social connections.

A lovely dancer herself, Ms. Maze began her path in classical ballet, studying and eventually performing professionally in small roles. Gorgeous personal photos of her dancing days and performances are throughout the book, along with old family photos of her family going back to the early 1920s. There are also plenty of illustrations of the dance and theatre companies she presented during her her lengthy impresario career.

As the subtitle suggests, she traveled the globe from Bucharest to America, then back to Europe and across Asia. Each chapter is dedicated to a different city of residence and includes fascinating contexts of the political atmosphere of each country during that time, without overwhelming the reader with history lessons. They are a reminder of how complicated politics worldwide are, and how they continue to evolve in response to their interlaced histories. Ms. Maze ran in the circles of some of the highest societal classes during her travels – including royalty in India and Greece – and their stories were often as dramatic and tragic as any in history. Yet they have been folded into history, forgotten if ever even known by the average American.

With Ballet in My Soul portrays a life more fully lived than most of us can ever imagine. I hope it will give, especially young female dancers, a sense of the many possibilities for an artist that extend beyond traditional professional company ballet – that is possible to create for yourself a unique path of your own creation that honors your special gifts and passions in a way no other life could.

 

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Ballet in Print: Raising the Barre

RaisingtheBarreAnyone who knows me knows that it doesn’t take much for me to quickly have my fill of all things Nutcracker. So I couldn’t have been more surprised than to absolutely love Raising the Barre: Big Dreams, False Starts, and My Midlife Quest to Dance the Nutcracker, chronicling the author’s crusade to dance with a professional company in Nut after being deterred from the profession years ago as a child (by a teacher who’s name most of you will recognize.) Lauren Kessler is a fabulous writer, and on this journey she takes every advantage of the humor and drama that come along with her goal.

What makes this book so great a read for a dancer in training for the profession – aside from the very funny and thoughtful philosophies she points out about what we do – is the candid and fascinating insight into the mind of a ballet fan. Balletomane is an out of fashion word, but it absolutely applies to Kessler and the many devotees that consistently support the art – your future fan base, if there is to be one for ballet. And to learn how they view dancers, the ballet, dance companies, and what dancers are is nothing short of invaluable for someone who does or hopes to one day create that art. Her love and passion for understanding how and what professional dancers’ do what they do leaps off the page.

Raising the Barre is just the right prescription whether you’re burned out from performance (especially Nutcracker!) or just need some new fresh motivation to tackle your never-ending classes. This is actually one of the most interesting and entertaining books I’ve read about the ballet world, and I have definitely read way too many. Pretty surprising that it was written by someone from outside of the ballet world, though she’s certainly in it now!

Get a Job! Model for Discount Dance Supply

Rachelle Di Stasio ABT Luis Pons

Rachelle Di Stasio, ABT, Credit: Luis Pons Photography

How about glossing the pages of the most popular dancewear site and catalog in the new year? Discount Dance is looking for camera-ready experienced or professional dancers for the new fall line and the costume collection in sizes Small Child through Small Adult. Apply online with three photos and your basic info to be considered.

Models for DDS have included many professional dancers and countless student talents. Photos appear online, in print and in digital form on the app version of the catalog as well. You couldn’t ask for a more thorough variety of exposure. Now go take some pics and apply – take a chance on yourself!

Ballet in Print: The Ballet Lover’s Companion

The Ballet Lover’s CompanionThe Ballet Lover's Companion by Zoe Anderson is a must-have book for any aspiring dancer. Including a brief but thoughtfully curated history to begin each chapter, it includes summaries of numerous influential ballets of each period, some still famous and some long forgotten. This may be the most valuable record of ballets ever published.

Publisher Yale University Press describes the book as having, “a wealth of facts and insights, including information familiar only to dance world insiders” (ballet geeks, get excited!) and boasts that it “considers such recent works as Alexei Ratmansky’s Shostakovich Trilogy and Christopher Wheeldon’s The Winter’s Tale as well as older ballets once forgotten but now returned to the repertory, such as Sylvia.”  Indeed its record of important new choreographers is just as remarkable as it’s coverage of history’s best and brightest. I was thrilled to see this breadth of coverage.

This book makes a fabulous gift for a dance teacher, colleague or as a treat for yourself! If you love ballet, this aptly named book will certainly become one of your treasures.

Ballet Gifts You’ve Been Waiting For!

BP.GlassMagnetsTired of the poor designs and cheap feel of the usual “ballet gifts”? Thank you B Plus Printworks for filling the void in adorable and well-designed ballet items we’ve wanted to see for so long. B Plus has an amazing array of beautifully designed gifts for dancers or dance enthusiast with a lovely look and feel.

Among the art in the collections used on items is the highly sought and limitedly available Ballet Papier, which has been impossible to get in the US before. Congrats to both on the new partnership. I was so happy to see these designs available, which have been super popular overseas in Asia and Europe. B Plus, keep it coming. Now we all have even more to look forward to this holiday season!

Ballet in Print: YAGP (with Author Interview!)

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Few people outside of our insulated ballet world are aware of the intense “make or break” moments of dancers’ careers, and fewer still have documented them. So it is with great pleasure that I present to you YAGP, the debut book from photographer and photojournalist Drew Kelley, in which he chronicles some of the most beautiful and evocative backstage moments from the 2013 Youth America Grand Prix.

02.yagp.behind.the.scenesYAGP is a competition that has launched the careers of many outstanding ballet students, inspired far more, and shown the door to still others. In 2013, YAGP saw nearly 1,000 dancers in the New York City rounds, with 30 countries represented. I had the pleasure of speaking with Drew about his involvement and his approach to capturing some of the most fleeting, poignant moments experienced by the young competitors.

JD: How did you get involved in this project, since you had never been exposed to the ballet world before?

18.yagp.behind.the.scenesDK: I work primarily with newspapers, that’s my “day job” so to speak, and the topics can be really anything. So I was sort of thrown into shooting ballet, covering some girls from a local Southern California studio, and I thought, this is actually pretty cool! I was kind of blown away. I ended up attending the First Position premiere in Santa Monica and eventually approached my editor with the suggestion that it would be worth going to New York and documenting the experience.

JD: So how long were you in New York and did you get to stay until the end?

DK: I was actually embedded with the original school that got me involved, so I flew over with them and was there from start to finish. I got to watch the gala and everything.

06.yagp.behind.the.scenesJD: It must have been incredibly visually stimulating. How did you narrow your focus and choose your subject matter with so much to see, and what made you decide to focus on backstage moments versus the more often flashy onstage performance shots?

DK: It’s a little nuts, and it is hard to stay focused because there’s so much going on at once. It was definitely overload. I took a lot of pictures including onstage, but right now you can Google “YAGP” and you can find 90% of the photos are onstage performing. I found it was just as exciting to witness the moments behind the scenes. Because I was embedded and was with a woman who knew basically everyone, I actually met Franco De Vita, Larissa [Saveliev] – who founded it with her husband – and many other powerful people. I was shaking a lot of hands. Things kind of fell into perspective.

JD: I’m sure that each photo is very special to you, but do you maybe have any particular favorites?

04.yagp.behind.the.scenesDK: Actually there is one where you see the back of the girl with her arms out, and you see there’s this background of people and that’s actually the judges. The judges photo is hard to explain to people. To get access backstage is not that big a deal, but that was the scholarship classes. In reality, the point is not at all who will win, the point is to be seen. And that’s what that was. Seeing them perform [in audition class], if the Artistic Director liked them, they were approached right then and there and it was like, “Can you move to Monte Carlo?” And I’d think, but she’s only fifteen! Lives were completely changed in a moment.

11.yagp.behind.the.scenesJD: Anything else you’d like to add about your experience?

DK: It was really impressive to see all the kids from around the world that, once they were here in the same room together, it was like they all speak the same language. When I was a kid, I was into skateboarding, and when you’d see another kid with a skateboard it was like, hey, we understand each other. It was just like that. Here’s this kid from Japan and this kid from Brazil, and they can instantly bond. That was pretty great to see.

Thank you so much, Drew, for undertaking this project and sharing these beautifully captured moments.

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For more information about Drew Kelley, please visit http://drewakelley.com/

Fore more information about the YAGP competition, please visit http://www.yagp.org.

Behind Barres eBook Bundle for Sale!

An excellent package of three awesome dance books is available in eformat now until September 28 for the crazy nice price of 99 cents. The collection includes three full length novels for teens. The price increases on September 29 to 9.99 (still a steal), so catch this while you can! Check out the trailer and make your purchase at one of these links:

Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Behind-Barres-Complete-Ballet-ebook/dp/B00F6BUK7G/ 

Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/behind-barres-miriam-wenger-landis/1116903196?ean=2940148717300 

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id699362434 

Kobo: http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Behind-Barres/book-MwLFpA4KW0-v_jhL3VYRcg/page1.html?s=23Oy2enHuUOOb5bKSqxORg&r=1

Smashwords:http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/354408