Dancewear en l’air: K.D. Dance Gets a Reboot

IMG_2252_876701f3-08ae-4c01-bbf9-fb39800d3b1e_grandeK.D. Dance sweaters and roll-down tights were all the rage for dancers in the 90s, but over the years lost the market to bigger names like Bloch and sports brands like UnderArmour. Now they’re back for your consideration with a reboot and a new website.

K.D. remains focused on  craftsmanship, materials, and name-dropping (the first item I clicked on referenced its use in a recent Beyonce photoshoot), but returns with new photography and more of an American Apparel-y type feel. Their new product line is also much more streamlined and focused on particular colors, versus the formerly broad list of endlessly similar pieces available in countless hues that used to take forever to sift through. Is this a better strategy for the dancewear maker? Only time will tell.

K.D. Dance products are made to order, so if you buy from their site you are looking at some wait time, similar to Eleve. If you’ve never purchased a K.D. Dance product, you really can’t go wrong with the 03 sweater, a classic piece that’s an absolute compliment machine.

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Ballet in Film: Ballerinatips

RachelSilvermanI’d love to introduce you guys today to a youtube channel called Ballerinatips by young dancer Rachel Silverman. Follow Rachel as she shares her experience and takes you into her world of being a serious dance student.

Videos on Rachel’s channel cover everything from what’s in my dance to how to make a great ballet bun, audition vlogs, and of course there is a Yumiko collection video! For those of you preparing for an SI this summer, you’ll particularly enjoy Rachel’s video on how to pack for a summer intensive. There are also a bunch of fun videos of Rachel and her friends in class and rehearsal with, of course, some tips on what they have learned.

Check out Rachel’s channel, and maybe you’ll be inspired to create your own ballet youtube vlog for me to feature one day!

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!

Holiday Wishes & Some News

SnowMerry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year to you all! Sad news however, I won’t be able to publish a 2016 summer intensives list this year. This decision has been weighing on me heavily, but there are a number of reasons that it no longer makes sense to continue this annual project. I know that many of you rely on this and will be very disappointed. If it becomes more feasible to reboot the series in the future, I will definitely do so.

Thank you to all my readers for being part of the BalletScoop community! Merde to all for upcoming auditions and Nutcrackers!

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.

Blisster.com for Performers

summerglauAnother great resource for you lucky Australian dancers out there, and a great blog to add to your list where ever you are, Blisster.com is a online dancewear and costume retailer and blog that covers a variety of aspects of dance life, including great stage makeup and who in the acting world has also studied ballet.

Blisster tends to have more children’s styles than most other dance retailers. (So parents out there it’s a great place to look for cute options for your tween and younger dancers.) They also offer a free sizing service to all customers, which is rather unique, and an industry program for schools. Get $10 off your first $60+ order when you sign up for emails, and go beef up that holiday wishlist with styles that will make you feel like you’ve stepped out of a music box.

UPDATE: I typo’d that url link yesterday! So if you tried it and it was broken, that’s on me. Apologies and click through today to check it out!

2016 Summer Dance Intensives Update

Students of Ellison Ballet

Ellison Ballet SI 2012

I know you’re all waiting with bated breath for the annual list of summer intensives. While unfortunately the vast majority of programs that I typically include have not yet updated their 2016 information, the major top programs in the US have. So I thought I’d get those up here for your reference now.

Once most of the other programs have their houses in order, I’ll post the usual mega-spreadsheet with details like ages and dates. For now, in no particular order (and please don’t try reading into who I’ve included and excluded, though I know you guys love to do that!), here are the top US programs who have posted their 2016 main summer program details:

School of American Ballet (NT)

American Ballet Theatre (NY+)

Bolshoi Ballet (NY/CT)

Pacific Northwest Ballet (WA)

San Francisco Ballet (CA)

Ellison Ballet (NY)

Boston Ballet (MA)

Houston Ballet (TX)

French Academie (NY)

Kirov Academy (DC)

The Rock School (PA)

Let me know if this is helpful either in direct message or down below in the comments. Remember there are plenty of resources here on BalletScoop (starting here) to help you decide where to spend your time auditioning and how to find the best training for your needs. Merde to all!

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.

Great FREE Webinar for Dancers!

Photo by Brian MenginiDancers, don’t miss an opportunity like this one. Boston Ballet’s lovely Shelby Elsbree joins dedicated Health Coach Jessica Spinner from The Whole Dancer for a pre-Nutcracker gear-up for professional dancers and serious students.

This online seminar will take place November 19, 2015, at 5pm PST / 7pm CST / 8pm EST – but even if you can’t make it, you’ll still get a copy of the webinar if you sign up!

Learn about mitigating seasonal colds, improving self-care, creating dance/life balance and ensuring you have the right fuel intake for your demanding schedule. Join live or watch it later at your convenience, just don’t miss it!

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!

Misty Copeland & Lauren Anderson Reminisce

It’s always a pleasure to see to two great ballerinas of our time talking about their journey to the stage, but even more so when that journey represents a historical shift in national attitudes about race and art. Enjoy this brief look at the recent Houston interview of Misty Copeland and Lauren Anderson as they offer heartfelt insights to the struggles that diverse dancers face and how they have gracefully handled the challenges life has presented.

I was very fortunate to spend some brief time with the lovely Lauren Anderson last year, so I am particularly thrilled that her stellar career is being remembered in the process of Misty’s celebrations. But I can’t wait for the day when diversity in the performing arts world is so normal that it’s not even newsworthy.

Upcoming Ballet Events!

KMSugar2Haven’t had much time to post since moving to NYC, but I have two great ballet events to announce! First, for those of you who are fans of Kathryn Morgan’s two youtube channels, her website, and her prior career at NYCB, you’ll be delighted to hear that her long awaited return to the stage is not far off! The elegant Ms. Morgan will be performing for one night only in Cleveland at PlayhouseSquare. An Evening with Kathryn Morgan will be and intimate showing of the best excerpts from ballet history plus a newly choreographed piece created on Kathryn Morgan. Mark your calendar for Saturday, September 19, 2015, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are VIP only at $100 a person. A steal if you ask me – it includes pre- and post-show receptions plus a meet and greet with Ms. Morgan. 

Separately, those of you in Connecticut won’t want to miss the upcoming performance of Giselle by The Hartt School’s Community Division. Like hundreds of summer intensive programs across the country and globe, The Hartt School offers a performance opportunity to its students at the end of the course, but in this case it is uniquely a full-length ballet. On top of that, this staging has been directed by the talented Xiomara Reyes of American Ballet Theatre. The performances will take place on July 25th, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. in the Millard Auditorium at Hartt, 200 Bloomfield Ave in West Hartford, CT.

If you attend either of these shows, I hope you’ll post about your experience in the comments below! If you can’t attend these events, treat yourself to a ballet in your local community and support the arts wherever you are.