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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Get a Job: Marketing Yourself to Dance Companies

When you’re a dancer, sweet sixteen isn’t just a birthday milestone, it’s the age you start thinking of how to begin your career. You’re two years from high school graduation, even less if you’ve sped up your courses. At sixteen, you might even start flying out to company auditions to gain experience and get seen by artistic directors.

It can be pretty intimidating to get started though – How do you make a dance resume? How do you find ballet companies where you might be a fit and stand the best chance of getting a contract? How can you put together an awesome audition package with sophisticated videos and photographs that will really help get you a job?

Rachel Neville, author of the popular and thoughtfully made Leotard Buying Guide, is here to help with these questions. A former dancer, Rachel is now a well-known dance and movement photographer in NYC. She’s going above and beyond to create free resources for dancers crossing this point in their careers. In her latest effort, Rachel talks candidly about a each step in the process from researching companies to ensuring you are presenting yourself in the most effective way possible. Subscribe to Rachel’s blog to be notified of new videos as they are published, and check out the latest edition below.

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!

Let’s Save Pacific Northwest Ballet School

Edit: There’s limited further information on this situation, for those of you who have asked, however the main location is safe. It is the eastside location that is in peril.

As any dance enthusiast knows, Pacific Northwest Ballet School is one of the finest ballet schools in the United States and home to one of the best ballet companies in the world. Sadly, they are about to lose their Bellevue studio location. Sign this petition to save PNBS from being torn down without getting enough funding in return to rebuild.

If you’ve never seen PNBS, it’s a dancer’s dream, maybe only rivaled in the states by the Boston Ballet facilities. Below is a picture of the main campus from my visit last fall.

This is not just a Seattle ballet school, this is a ballet school that is beloved around the country and respected around the world. Please, take time to tweet, share, and post this call to action so we can all give PNBS a fighting chance to stay alive in the neighborhood they’ve been part of for 30 years.

PNBS

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 Film: Bolshoi Babylon

Bolshoi_Babylon“Where the real drama happens offstage,” claims the trailer for Bolshoi Babylon, an understated but high-drama documentary about the present-day scandal and politics of the Bolshoi Ballet.

Indeed, while considered the foremost ballet company in the world by many, the Bolshoi’s dysfunctions were publicly and violently exposed by a shocking physical attack on its Artistic Director in its very recent past. In the film, backstage intrigues and the distressed commentary of dancers reflecting on those events are buttressed by flawless, glittering performances by those same artists. It seems that the height of all that is best about ballet and art intersects sometimes with its extreme opposite, and Bolshoi Babylon capitalizes on this with a stylistic presentation of the story as a fascinating metaphor for that dichotomy.

Bolshoi Babylon is premieres this Monday, December 21, 2015, on HBO exclusively.

Dancewear en l’air: To-Die-For Diadems

HBA_Lavander_Arrow_V2__31971.1416368440.107.123Rotation Dancewear offers a variety of lovely dance products, but the standout is their collection of stunning professional diadems. From Gamzatti to Grand Pas Classique and Santanella to Snow Queen, this collection covers a variety of essential costume headpieces for classic female roles.

Browsing through, it was impossible to pick a favorite – each style is exquisitely designed and evokes the perfect tone for its intended character. Whether you’re looking to bring a new costume creation to life, refresh an existing costume, or start a collection of beautiful pieces to have at the ready, Rotation’s professional-quality diadem collection is an ideal first stop for tiara shopping.