Bolshoi Ballet Academy: An All-Encompassing Opportunity

Bolshoi SI studentsRina Kirshner is the Vice President of the Russian American Foundation and directs the Bolshoi Ballet Academy Summer Intensive. I was fortunate to speak with Ms. Kirshner recently about the program’s features and the many opportunities it provides, as well as what they are looking for in auditions.

JD: Was the BBASI your brainchild? What inspired you to pursue cultural development specifically through ballet?

RK: Actually, the program first came to the US many years ago through a partnership with the Ford Foundation. They would come to the US for 1-2 weeks in the summer as an elite full-scholarship program. Ten or fifteen years ago, the program ended, but someone who believed in the program later brought it to our attention because they believed the Russian American Foundation was an organization that could support the initiative successfully. This was almost seven years ago. We felt right away the value of the program not only as pre-professional training but from a more global perspective. To really understand Russian classical ballet you really also need to be aware of the culture, language and people. So we positioned the program early on to be an all-encompassing opportunity.

JD: The Bolshoi Academy is known for developing students with a highly intensive program from a fairly young age. How do you condense that syllabus down for US students who often experience a comparatively diluted regimen over their years of training?

RK: I believe that the program has served great value to all parties involved and not just the participants. Many stereotypes were adjusted and broken from both sides. When we first started, the thought was that only students with perfect form could be professional dancers. It was discovered that American students who may not be subject to a strict regimen or have that form are also very talented students that can benefit from the program. We now have 50 students, two that have joined the Bolshoi school, and one that joined the company. Our students are embraced by the teachers and other Bolshoi students as hard workers. It’s been transformational for both sides.

The Academy has grown to respect the dedication of American students. Maybe I would have answered this very differently seven years ago. But these American students are not at a disadvantage. There is a natural amount of talent that is required, but we’ve had students that are shorter or don’t have the typical body. Some work even harder because they are catching up in comparison with the students who have been available to the Bolshoi teachers from such a young age. The fact that the pace in the intensive is much faster and more rigorous than the academy is fact.  The fact that students not normally subject to the Russian regimen can maintain that pace with those who are speaks volumes.

JD: I notice that for your advanced NYC students, only males are scheduled to have variations class, while only females have rep class. Presuming that the former is solo-based and the latter a concert repertoire, what is the philosophy behind this curricular structure?

RK: This just evolved as a natural evolution of what the male dancer needs. There’s still about 5-6 variations taught throughout the program to everyone. Usually this is what the male dancers perform or what they will perform in competition. Some perform in small groups in the performance and some as solos. It’s a wonderful opportunity for the students to have a top coach and we’ve heard feedback on how valuable that has been for them. To answer your question though, both classes are basically the same. They learn variations as a group and then may perform them as a solo or group.

JD: What is the immersion scholarship program in Russia?

Bolshoi SI studentsRK: Three years ago, because of how the cultural aspects had affected students and inspired them to learn Russian, we petitioned the state department to take a select group of dancers for six weeks to continue this education at the academy but also have the cultural and language immersion. The state department funded the program as part of NSLI (National Security Language for Youth). The last few years it’s been 15 students each year from the group. Those are selected primarily on academic achievement. So in addition to being great dancers, they have to be good students. In addition to maintaining an intensive dancing regime, they have to spend four hours a day learning Russian.

JD: How about the 2 week scholarship gala program?

RK: We select one leading female dancer and one leading male for that. They train for 2 weeks and that is purely based on recognition for their dancing ability, so there is no academic component like there is for the group program.

JD: This is a competitive summer intensive, no question. What is the atmosphere like for students? How do you ensure it remains healthy?

RK: We actually discuss that up front because we think it’s important for the dancers and parents to understand this up front. For us, once they are accepted, it’s very important that they know we like good people here. We have certain behavioral rules that must be adhered to. Once in the program, we do not tolerate any competitive negative behavior. In the New York location we are state certified on the level of a regular camp, so we have a complete staff that oversees that aspect. I personally pay a lot of attention because the students are expected to work so hard.

In Connecticut especially we try to make sure it’s just a fun summer for the students, and they have activities that promote a positive atmosphere. We want them to know that you will need to work very hard, but being unconstructively competitive is a different thing. One of the things families should know is that we’ve instituted a change this year. We’ve noticed that in the past the level structure 1, 2, 3, 4 was so emotionally unhealthy. So this year each group is assigned a lead teacher because any time spent on emotional competitiveness is wasted time. We don’t believe that unnecessary, “Why is he or she in this level?” is useful. So we make a speech up front where we present our view on this.

JD: The marketing for the BBASI emphasizes dancers who graduated from the Moscow year-round program. Do you have any statistics yet on the number of US summer intensive students who have achieved professional careers?

RK: Two to top Russian companies were accepted this year. Many students don’t follow up to let us know where they are. We have students accepted to Penn Ballet and ABT, but those are only the ones that report back to us.

JD: What can students expect to get out of the program that sets it apart from many quality programs now available in the US?

Bolshoi SI studentsRK: I believe two things set us specifically apart. We recognize that there are many top programs here and we believe we are a very good supplement to those programs during the year. First, we have a whole system here. Every one of the teachers is trained and works year round as a team. Most were students of the Bolshoi Academy, danced as the company, and trained to teach there. They have dedicated their whole lives to that technique, so every step and class is part of a holistic program of master teachers in one purified approach. That works amazingly to achieve individual progress, and I think that’s what we’re known for.

For the younger group, we have the same dedication to making it an enjoyable summer experience, and we have a professional, fun staff which we hire to run other activities. That makes it a great summer experience compared to other programs that don’t have the same structure, facilities or supplementing to remember the kids are having a summer. Obviously, our dedication to introducing students to the culture is paramount and that is the second point. It’s the holistic system of training as well as expanding their personal horizons in Russian culture and language.

JD: What qualities are most important to your adjudicators?

RK: Desire and ability for the student to work hard. That can be seen in the hour and a half that we are there auditioning. Students that think they can succeed anywhere are not necessarily going to succeed in our program. We want students that understand that our program is about working hard. We say one of the issues all teachers try to address is that the dancers need to show the audience how much they love to dance. As much as we say it to them there aren’t many who are able to achieve it. If they are not as strong technically but they are glowing and you can see their desire to dance… We just need to see their heart and dedication to hard work.

JD: Have behaviors ever been exhibited that have disqualified students?

RK: We don’t tell anyone to leave right away, but if someone is not paying attention, that’s a sign of someone that’s going to be like that, and we will get frustrated, so those are red flags that we watch for. Sometimes students can’t survive the whole audition and they leave. Those are rare cases, but they happen. Most of the dancers that come to audition now know what they are getting into.

Bolshoi SI studentsJD: Have exceptions ever been made for the age minimums or for the age maximums?

RK: No on the minimums. For the age maximums, sometimes for Connecticut, but it’s determined individually. If we believe they won’t be sufficiently challenged, that’s what we’ll say. We have some professional students in their 20s that come to New York.

JD: Would you consider New Orleans for future auditions? We have an underserved demographic of talent in the area.

RK: We’ve never been to New Orleans but would consider it in the future.

JD: Finally, what has been the high-point for you, being a part of this incredible initiative from the start?

RK: Luckily, there have been many high-points because the program has had so many challenges! Being responsible for other people’s children is huge. The thank you letters that we get have cited not only transforming people on the dancer level but also the new opportunities, the global awareness. That has really moved me, as a mother. I love that this program keeps me going. When we first started, the New York Times dedicated a reporter to covering it for five weeks. There were so many stereotypes in there that were painful. When they published the new Joy Womack article, it was very classy and sophisticated.

It has changed not only us but the Academy. How excited the teachers are to see returning and new students! Even the Russian Ambassador to the United States said we are one of the great success stories of the Russian American dialogue.

Thank you again to Ms. Kirshner and the Russian American Foundation for bringing this wonderful program to the states! For more information and audition tour dates, please visit http://www.bolshoiballetacademy.com/.

Ballet in Print: Where Snowflakes Dance and Swear

 

Ballet in Print: Where Snowflakes Dance and Swear, which I originally posted about just over a year ago, is now available in paperback! Currently priced at $24.99, the price will increase by one cent on 1/31/13 to $25.00 in order to qualify Amazon customers for snazzy free shipping. If you missed this when it was first published, don’t pass it up again!

Selecting Your Summer Intensive Auditions

I’m so pleased to see how many dancers are making use of the BalletScoop list of  2013 Summer Intensives! Let’s talk about how to select auditions. I advise auditioning for as many programs as you can without exhausting yourself or negatively impacting your schoolwork, but it helps to have a basic idea of what you want early on.

So before you get overwhelmed by the 300+ program options, take a moment to consider what you envision for yourself for summer training. What are you trying to achieve in the next few years? Are you leaving home for the first time and simply focus on improving your technique? Do you need to look for work or get exposure to artistic directors? Will you be pursuing college? You maybe best served by a particular type of program, and each type offers various features.

Conservatories (generally):

  • are not attached to companies, but may have indirect connections
  • provide the smallest class sizes
  • offer heavy supervision
  • take a focused and nurturing approach
  • are well suited for younger dancers and first-time SI students
  • may serve as an audition for the year-round residential program

Company schools (usually):

  • are directly connected (or in some way affiliated) with a professional performing company
  • offer flexible supervision with expectations of somewhat mature level of personal responsibility
  • may have large class sizes
  • are particularly well-suited to older dancers and those preparing to try for professional work in the next two years
  • may serve as an audition to the trainee program, second company or apprenticeship program

University programs:

  • are run by college dance departments
  • may offer scholarships or tuition credit to the university for summer attendees
  • have a wide range of class size, instruction quality, supervision and intensity depending on the quality of the dance department
  • are ideal for younger and older dancers intending to attend college after high school

Regulatory institutions:

  • Have self-governing authority over a particular style of ballet technique
  • Offer certification to students and teachers after completion of a course and examination
  • Are well-suited to dancers pursuing professional performance or teaching careers

Stand-alone programs:

  • Are sometimes affiliated with a festival, competition or convention
  • Often bring together a hodge-podge of famous dance faculty
  • May offer opportunities to see professional performances as part of the program

Exceptions to these exist. For example Ballet West’s program is the official summer program of both the professional company and the University of Utah. And some company programs make a concerted effort to provide a highly nurturing, conservatory environment to better accommodate very young dancers.

Once you have this choice in mind, you can filter the list to show only the type of programs that suit your immediate goals. This will narrow the list considerably. After that, it’s time to the click links provided and research the websites to discover other details like:

  • courses and dance styles offered
  • tentative schedules/hours per week
  • housing and board options
  • tuition costs and scholarship availability
  • in-house faculty and guest teachers
  • session lengths and date flexibility options
  • eligibility requirements beyond age

Note that consecutive sessions are only listed separately when there is a material difference in their purpose. So for example, ABT summer sessions are listed separately because of their different locations and age requirements, while Indiana University’s program is listed as one contiguous event even though they technically have two identical programs back to back. Be sure to look for programs that are extra early or extra late — you may be able to attend 2-3 full programs if you plan wisely!

Now that you have your short list, get movin! If you can’t attend all of the live auditions you need, a DVD audition is your next best option and the time to start making it is now. Once you have audition and received your acceptance, wait-list, or rejection letters, visit Choosing Your SI to help make your final decisions.

Dear CBT: Help for Broken Pointe Shoes?

Dear CBT,

It’s been eight months since I last bought a pair of pointe shoes and my left pointe shoe is already starting to die. My right shoe is completely fine but my left shoe is becoming soft and hard to get onto for pirouettes. I had my teacher check them, and she said my left shoe was dying and that its a good idea for me to start breaking in another pair. I just wanted to know if their is a way to strengthen just my left pointe shoe to get a couple more months out of them. Thank you!

There is a way to use jet glue or hot stuff glue to give pointe shoes a bit more strength. Check out this video by Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Maria Chapman to learn how:

As an added bonus, Maria shows how to find the arch point for your shoes, an important part of proper pointe shoe break-in. However I don’t recommend breaking the shank as she does, but gently bending them repeatedly instead.

I wouldn’t want you to think you can get too much time from one pair of shoes though – I went through a pair a week at my training peak. Ballet can be a sadly expensive pursuit! The important thing is to determine if one shoe is breaking in too fast compared to the other one and why. If there is a dramatic difference, it could indicate either an anatomical difference or a technique issue or both. Technique issues, fortunately, can be controlled to an extent. Talk to your teacher about whether you are working optimally on both feet. It’s possible that you are either not “pulling up” properly (shaping the foot with your own muscles and not letting the shoe take over) on the left or that your right foot is not working hard enough.

If this turns out to be only an anatomical issue, you may have a technique solution anyway, so ask your teacher about that as well. If there is not a sufficient technique solution to it, you have a superficial solution of purchasing two pair of pointe shoes – one pair with a shank suitable for the right and one with a harder shank for the left – and pairing them with each other so you have two pairs with a harder shank on the left than on the right. You want to make sure both feet are properly supported.

Thanks for reading and take good care of those hard-working feet!

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!

DanceTube: Ballet Takes Over TV!

Ballet fascination is taking over TV and film! Get your popcorn ready and check out the latest line-up:

Bunheads – ABC Family has been promoting this new series, which echoes a bit of Australia’s Dance Academy, everywhere. Dance magazine publishers got their hands on a sneak peek for the first 1500 viewers to get a clip here using code “DanceSpiritBunheads” or “DanceTeacherBunheads”.

Breaking Pointe – Intent on highlighting the intensity of pursuing professional dance, the CW is jumping on the ballet trend, adding their special brand of drama to the lens with this BBC produced series premiering May 31 and following well-respected company Ballet West.

Dance 212 – Season 6 is almost here. Follow aspiring dancers trying to make it in the Big Apple as professionals with top NYC companies and schools.

Joffrey Documentary – Learn the story of iconic ballet company Joffrey Ballet in the documentary Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance.

Ballet in Print: Where Snowflakes Dance and Swear

Are you looking for the must-have dancer gift (or self-gift!) this year? Look no further! Hot off the presses, Where Snowflakes Dance and Swear: Inside the Land of Ballet is possibly the most readable and informative non-fiction book on ballet company life available today – making it an absolute Must Read for aspiring ballet dancers.

Celebrated author Stephen Manes brought his finely-honed talents into the dance world by spending an entire season with world-class company, Pacific Northwest Ballet. Immersing himself in the microcosm of ballet business, Manes brings this experience to life for ballet fans everywhere through his latest book.

Deliciously written, Manes deftly captures the dance-world drama and ballet bustle that make it the fascinating industry that we love – without squeezing the life out of the art and distilling it to a protracted history lesson (ahem, Apollo’s Angels, ahem). The book starts with a bang and dives right into an intimate look into the professional path of Artistic Director Peter Boal, a narrative which does not disappoint in its insight and charm. Throughout, Manes allows the reader to sit alongside Boal as he juggles budgets, dancers, casting, unions, choreographers and somehow, time. Read: Invaluable insight for an aspiring dancer into the mind of an AD!

The reader also walks alongside dance luminaries like Carla Korbes, Christopher Wheeldon and Twyla Tharp as well as lesser-known – and lesser-appreciated – professionals like stagehands, musicians and apprentices. The daily lives and struggles of these myriad artistic talents unfold to reveal a full spectrum of professional accomplishments and frustrations, illuminating the realities of life in ballet, for better or worse.

This book is nothing short of everything a non-fiction ballet book should be. You don’t want to be the last dancer to discover Where Snowflakes Dance and Swear!

2012 Summer Intensive Auditions!

Boston Ballet School studentsThe 2013 Summer Intensives list is posted!

REMINDER: Please share your SI stories/reviews at Ballet Talk for Dancers, which archives this info for research by future students. If you are looking for info on an SI, make a free account there and you’ll have more info than you’ll know what to do with!

The 2012 summer audition dates are in! I can’t believe it’s been a year already! Time to start planning your winter audition schedule, and I’m here to help with tips and links for some of the best programs on the continent. Don’t forget to check out every program’s website for supplemental and alternative summer training programs, such as:

  • choreography intensives
  • mentoring programs for one-on-one coaching
  • jazz/contemporary programs
  • collegieate programs
  • recreational programs
  • add-on weeks to boost program length
  • satellite locations

Be mindful of any pre-registration requirements for each audition. And be sure to have your calendar handy! Continue reading

Ballet in Film: Two PBS Specials!

I am thrilled to see that PBS is making dance, particularly ballet, a big part of their fall and winter line-up. Starting this month, they will be airing programs from major American ballet companies that most of us would never have a chance to see otherwise. Kicking off the series is none other than Miami City Ballet, fresh from it’s blockbuster trip to Paris, with a mixed bill of crowd pleasing Balanchine and Tharp works on October 28. I don’t know about you, but I always prefer to see Balanchine performed by Balanchine style dancers, so I’m doubly excited for this show.

Later in the season on December 16, look for San Francisco Ballet’s newer ballet, The Little Mermaid, by John Neumeier – but remember they used the Anderson version of the story, not the Disney one. Local air times for both of these programs will be available at www.PBS.org as the dates get closer. Just click “TV Schedules” (on the black navigation bar) and enter your zip and provider to get your local schedule. Once there, the easiest way to pull up ballet programs is just to enter “ballet” into the guide’s search bar (not the “Search PBS” bar). Bring on the ballet, PBS!

Ballet in Film: First Position

Have you heard the buzz about First Position? This widely anticipated documentary follows six Youth America Grand Prix competitors. Director Bess Kargman’s experience as a ballet student is apparent in the footage, which films dancers with a real understanding of what makes dance movement something worth watching.

First Position premiered in Toronto earlier this month and is headed to film festivals in Boston, Vancouver, DC and New York City. A handful of stunning and intruiging trailers have been released, including this must-see extended version:

Youth America Grand Prix is the largest and probably best-known student ballet competition. Dancers compete for scholarships at international-level schools such as The Royal Ballet School and La Scala Ballet Academy, higher education scholarships at colleges such as Julliard and even apprentice or corps positions with world-class companies. Even those who do not medal are vying for the opportunity to be noticed by some of the most important and influential decision makers in dance today. Winners at YAGP often go on to rise to the highest levels in companies around the globe.

The stakes are high at the Youth American Grand Prix, but as YAGP founder and artistic director Larissa Saveliev reminded in an interview with Dance Magazine, “The medal doesn’t mean anything. We try to send that message as often as we can. The most valuable experience is the preparation for competing. It’s one thing when you take class and another when you rehearse a variation. And you have to learn as a dancer to able to perform under pressure. But when you are able to overcome your nerves, no audition will be a big deal.” Like the tagline says – Ballet is not for sissies.

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:

Student Dancers Wanted for Moscow Ballet Nutcracker

Moscow Ballet is looking for students to perform with the company for its perennial classic Nutcracker in multiple locations across 22 U.S. states and 2 Canadian provinces. These openings are a unique opportunity for young dancers to gain audition and performance experience with a professional company at a young age. The company is looking to fill the following positions:

  • 12 Party Guests (ages 8-11): 6 girls and 6 boys (or girls dressed as boys)
  • 10 Mice (ages 8-11 or 12): No taller than 5’
  • 12 Little Snowflakes (ages 7, 8 and 9): Must have ballet training
  • 12 Angels (ages 8 to 11): Graduated heights from smallest to tallest; No taller than 5’
  • 4 Butterflies: Older, taller girls from 12 to early teens; Off Pointe unless very strong on pointe.
  • ACT II Variations: Corps de ballet with company soloists. No taller than 5’2”.
  • Spanish: 2 young dancers ages 8-10; 2 older dancers ages 12-16 Pointe optional
  • Chinese: 2 young dancers ages 8-10; 2 older dancers ages 12 –early teens Pointe optional
  • Russian: 2 young dancers ages 8 – 10; 2 older dancers ages 10 –early teens (allegro dancers)
  • Arabian: 2 older dancers ages 12 -16 (Involves floor work) Pointe optional
  • French: 2 young dancers ages 7- 8

To see details and requirements and schedule an audition in a U.S. town near you, visit http://www.nutcracker.com/Audition_Dates.php and follow the simple instructions to register. Canadian auditionees, visit http://www.nutcracker.com/Audition_Dates.php?canada=y.

Update 8/17/11:  Check out this article, out yesterday, about young dancers performing with the company in Romeo & Juliet and other ballets.

Finding the Best Ballet Training for Men

I was recently pleased to find out that one of the readers here is the dad of a young male dancer. Balletboydad commented yesterday on the 2011 Summer Intensives post: I wish to have more insight on strongest schools for male instruction going into next summer. My son is 13 and has received scholarships to the schools he has auditioned for. He has gone to Boston Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet and is currently at Jose Manuel Carreno’s 4 week program.

First off, Balletboydad, welcome here! I am sure you noticed I’ve catered this site to females dancers in training – my strongest area of knowledge. Though I hope to study in-depth in the future about the specific needs of male dancers, right now there are many others more qualified than me to handle that topic. That said, you are always welcome here! And I will do my best to answer your question and direct you to other resources that I think will be most helpful.

You’ve probably already discovered that the best schools for males are generally those with a Men’s Program. These programs are tailored in that instead of simply sticking guys in classes with the women all day, the women and men are divided for most of the day, perhaps after one technique class together in the morning. Men study men’s technique, strength and conditioning, batterie, men’s variations, men’s character dance, etc. In the most traditional programs, the only time that men and women are together is for partnering or newer techniques like jazz. (I recall that when I attended BBS many years ago, this was how they ran.) Other programs have men’s classes that simply meet 2 or 3 days a week.

As for specific schools, those that have developed reputations for having some of the strongest men’s programs include Houston Ballet Academy, School of American Ballet, San Francisco Ballet School, Pacific Northwest Ballet School and Miami City Ballet School. Boston Ballet School has an excellent reputation as well, and I hope it lived up to that for you. Also check out Ellison Ballet, Nutmeg Conservatory, and Patel Conservatory/Next Generation Ballet. Carreno’s school is a bit young to have developed a reputation yet. I don’t know much about Pittsburgh’s men except that I’ve heard their numbers seems to be increasing in recent years.

I’m sure there are many young men who would be very appreciative of hearing your son’s review of the SIs he has attended, which can submitted at Ballet Talk for Dancers, http://dancers.invisionzone.com/. There is a ton of information there on U.S. intensives, though unfortunately fewer from a male perspective. Your son’s feedback could help other young men like him to make the better choices for their training. You will also find a very useful male dancer’s forum at Ballet Talk as well.

I recommend for 2012 that your son audition for as many schools as you can reasonably arrange, and see where he gets in and gets scholarships. Then take a day and, with your son, have a call with each school about what they can offer him. Get to the specifics of their men’s training and any other features you are looking for, e.g. nutritional oversight. Most programs will be happy to take a half hour to chat with a dedicated young man and his dad about what they can offer. Keep good notes, and then sit down together and compare programs with an eye to not only finding the highest quality programs but also which ones appeal to your son’s gut instinct. I think you will find you’ll narrow the list quickly!

There are some fantastic resources out there for men that may be able to offer more experienced insight than I can. I hope you’ll check out these sites and pose your question to their authors as well:

http://boysballet.wordpress.com/

http://www.balletformen.com/

http://www.tightsandtiaras.com/

http://mysoncandance.net/

Finally, let me to commend you on supporting your son’s pursuit of dance! Not all fathers are willing to do so for their sons. You are a wonderful example for other dance dads!

Ballet in Film: Dance Academy

If you liked Center Stage, you’ll love the Australian series Dance Academy, which follows heroine Tara Webster (Xenia Goodwin) from her rural home to the fictional National Academy of Dance in Sydney. In each episode, Tara faces (mostly) believable challenges as she pursues her dream of becoming a principal ballet dancer. A former big fish in a small pond, she discovers quickly that her fantasies about life at the Academy must be discarded as the realities of intense competition and a higher standard become part of her daily life. She and her newfound friends – and frenemies – together manage the challenges of the Academy and the complexities of teen life with humor and, often, guts.

This is a must-see show for any aspiring dancer. The dance scenes are choreographed well and in a variety of styles, the characters are enveloping and the costuming is great. It’s slightly bubblegum feel keeps the show fun when topics get heavy. The downright addictive Season 1 (trailer below) has concluded but can be purchased at the ABC shop. Season 2 starts in December.