A Dancer’s Musician: Christopher Ferris

Two years ago, I tweeted about and backed a Kickstarter project by Christopher Ferris. Ferris, an artist, composer and performer with a gift for improvisation, works with the Evergreen City Ballet school and training company as an accompanist. I absolutely adore Christopher’s story on his first experience playing for a ballet class –  it was part of the first promotion video about the project here. Ferris became in time a dancer’s musician, able to create just the right mood and perfect tempo for every step and moment.

Working with dancers eventually inspired Ferris to create his own class album, and during the funding push he made some nifty videos where he thanked his backers to his own live music. It was just delightful to hear my own name. Sadly, the project did not reach its goal – but Ferris didn’t let that stop him. Like the true artist he is, Ferris doubled down his commitment to his work.

Today, Christopher publishes this inaugural album, Music for Ballet Class: Syncopé, available utterly for free to listen to here, or for purchase on CD or MP3 files. This body of work represents an enormous effort by the artist, the team at Lake Union Recording, photographer Tim Aguero, designer Ryan Obermeier, and the artistic staff of Evergreen City Ballet, including two former principal dancers with Pacific Northwest Ballet. Plus, it’s beautifully played on a spectacular concert grand piano.

It’s beyond generous for this music to be available free of charge to listen to. Check out the album, and if you like it – for gosh sake’s support the arts and these artists by ponying up for the CD, MP3, or iTunes version!

Congratulations to Christopher and all the artists involved in the making of this beautiful ballet class album. May you inspire dancers and dance teachers around the world.

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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!

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: Boxy Cropped Cover-Up

productcojocaru13I think this is the first time I’ve posted two similar articles in a row… but I’ve waited too long to show you Cloud & Victory! I’m so in love with their spring/summer 2014 collection I could bust – Do yourself a favor and check out all their shirts and skirts, as seen on such inimitable luminaries as Joy Womack of American at the Bolshoi fame.

I’ve chosen their Cojocaru cropped cover-up because it absolutely embodies the effortless style of dancers. It’s made of soft Tencel to slide over your skin luxuriously, and this version’s print is inspired by gorgeous Alina Cojocaru to give you your day’s inspiration.

Have a dress code that requires coverups between classes? This is the perfect solution to stay breezy cool after a long sweaty class. This top would look completely fabulous over a tank or camisole leotard for the wide neck to show off your beautiful shoulders. Add one of their lovely lace skirts and voilà, you have an ensemble fit for a dancer of the Paris Opera. I would even throw this on for coffee or shopping. So chic!

 

Building a Dance Studio

2009.0142A number of students and colleagues of mine have recently decided to open their own studios. This was never my goal – I love the freedom of teaching without worrying about the hassle of owning a building or harassing parents for their tuition payments – but if your goal is to own your own studio one day, one of the biggest concerns will be how to build it properly.

Rory Foster’s excellent book, Ballet Pedagogy: The Art of Teaching (highly recommended for any aspiring ballet teacher!) has some wonderful tips on this as well as John White’s Vaganova-focused Teaching Classical Ballet. White has some useful comments on studio structure, making sure you have ample space for students to do homework, parents to observe, etc. If you are considering opening a dance studio, do yourself a favor and take a look at what these two books have to say about it.

For the dancing space itself, there are many demands: tap shoes, ballet shoes, pointe shoes, rosin lovers, bare feet… We all know what a great dance studio looks like – big windows, wonderful lighting, high ceilings, sprung floors covered in marley and preferably pretty and stylish! If you haven’t danced in one, go find one and do it. It’s like nothing else. One of my favorite studios that I’ve seen (only in photographs sadly, since it no longer exists) is the studio of famed New Orleans teacher Harvey Hysell, pictured above.

Fortunately there are guidelines available that go beyond the guesswork and which provide specifics for measurements, structure, and fabrication. If you are hoping to build your own dance studio one day, visit the website of the British National Dance Teachers Association, or NDTA, and take a look at their Studio Specifications. After years of experience, they have thought of virtually everything! Ventilation and HVAC, piano space, acoustics, lighting, accessibility, barres and tons of details in between. Lucky enough to have an architect? Harlequin Floors has a whole resource section just for them.

If you have dreams of owning your own school one day, make it the best it can be! Having and safe, beautiful, spacious dance space is incredibly inspiring for dancers and will make a big difference in their experience in your studio.

 

Dancewear en l’air: Stripey Bamboo Legwarmers

New York City Ballet dancer and self-made entrepreneur Cameron Dieck has established his own line of legwarmers, Échauffe. These line-lengthening limberers are made from high-end bamboo yarns and are designed to keep your gammies warm without hiding the muscle definition you’ve worked so hard for.

Available in multiple colors, my favorite is the striped “truffle/conch” version. For their debut, Pointe Magazine is giving away a few pairs to lucky entrants here!

Dancewear en l’air: The Procut Convertible Mesh Tight

Do you prefer the feel of no tights in your shoes? But your teacher makes you roll them down? Well now there’s now a tight made especially for you! I was truly impressed to see this design from Body Wrappers style A47, which mimics what dancers often do to their tights with scissors. Built to look to from a viewer’s perspective as a full-footed tight when the dancer’s shoes are on, it actually has three cutouts that reveal most of the foot within the shoe – at the toes, sole and heel. These cutouts provide easy access for foot care post- and pre-pointe class and allow better feel of the shoe for those who like as little as possible between them and the floor. BW included a thong between the big and second toes to keep the fabric secure around the foot despite the cutouts.

The fabric is the same as Body Wrappers classic mesh tight, A46, and like that tight it features a backseam to highlight your lines. Currently, it’s only available in one shade of pink which they call “classic ballet pink”. This color seems to be much lighter than the notoriously bright ballet pink but slightly darker than their popular theatrical pink – which makes it a lot closer to most pointe shoe colors. Available in small, medium, large or tall (yay!), this is a great tight for dancers who need to look completely classical but love that no-tights feel.

Check out the always beautiful Tiler Peck as she introduces this tight in this video by BW: