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!

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Summer Intensive Decision Time

Hi everyone. I’ve received a number of requests lately that go something like this:

I/my child got into the SI programs at X, Y, and Z schools. Are they good or bad? What do you think we should do? X school has a different technique than I/he/she studied in the past. Is that good or bad? What do you think we should do?

With messages like this, what I really hear is, “Please tell me where to spend my money and also which school has the magical touch to create professional dancers!”

Well unfortunately the answer to those questions are ‘I don’t know’ and ‘There isn’t one.’ But fortunately, I have created many resources to help, from first summer audition plans to decision time. Especially for newer readers I thought it would be nice for me to list it all together as a guide for you. Take a look below.

Should I Audition for a Summer Program?

Summer Training: Workshop, Intensive, or Camp?

Selecting Your Summer Intensive Auditions

Preparing Your SI Audition Season

DVD Auditions for the Distance Dancer – Part 1

DVD Auditions for the Distance Dancer – Part 2

Getting Accepted: What are “They” Looking for at SI Auditions?

You be the Judge: Choosing Your SI

Prepping for Summer Partnering

In order to expand the usability of this site, I have also added a menu sub-item for Summer Intensives on the left hand menu. Just hover over Pre-Professional Training to access it. That category has nearly every article related to summer training. Let me know what you guys think in the comments if you like.

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.

 

Auditions for Paid Studio Company Positions with Gelsey Kirkland!

Dale-Image-15The Gelsey Kirkland Ballet, studio company for the Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical Ballet, is holding auditions this weekend for paid positions. Attendees will also be considered for the year-round professional and pre-professional training school. This is a must-go audition!

Gelsey Kirkland Ballet Studio Company is under the artistic leadership of Gelsey Kirkland and Michael Chernov, whose vision is to maintain an ensemble company capable of realizing diverse and compelling theatrical ideas through specialized, comprehensive training and direction. Contracts are typically 32 weeks.

Gelsey Kirkland Ballet

The Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical Ballet is proud to announce that we will be holding an audition for our PAID Male & Female Studio Company positions and our year round professional and pre-professional academy programs.

When:
Saturday, August 17th at 12:00pm

Where:
Gelsey Kirkland Academy
355 Broadway, 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10013
(212) 600-0047

What To Bring:
Please bring proper audition attire, pointe shoes, and an 8×10 headshot along with an action shot in arabesque. $35.00 Audition Fee. DVD auditions are accepted.

If you have any questions or would like additional information, please contact Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical Ballet at (212) 600-0047 or by email: misha AT gelseykirklandballet DOT org

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!

Dear CBT: Does No Scholarship Now = No Contract Later?

If a student is accepted into the last two years of a selective company school without a scholarship, is she less likely than those who did get scholarships to be considered for the company? Is it more likely that she will mostly serve to benefit the school as a paying student? Or will she be considered to have equal potential for entrance into the company or second company?

I have been warned that only scholarship recipients move up into the company past graduation from these prestigious schools and have noted that most biographies of company dancers list their scholarship wins. My daughter was not present for the summer session that would have made her eligible for a scholarship. She was offered a scholarship for two consecutive years at another program but did not attend.

How important are acquiring scholarships and making it to the YAGP finals for determining whether a company will seriously consider a student at their school for their company? If these accolades are not in place, will the student be overlooked for advancement, no matter how hard she tries??

Thanks,

– Concerned Mom of a Determined Dancer

Dear Concerned Mom,

The short answer is: No, going to a company school without a scholarship or competition placement does not generally affect a student’s chances for employment overall. And here’s the longer answer! –

Scholarships are only one indicator of a school’s interest in developing a student and their belief in her potential at that specific point in time. We cannot extrapolate that out to years in advance because future events depend on the student’s continued development. Students who are expected to do great things will sometimes disappoint, and students who seem average sometimes work their tails off and take the lead. While many pros list scholarships, many do not. Finally, artistic direction can change in a heartbeat, leaving former favorites looking elsewhere for jobs.

YAGP and the various IBCs are a subject onto themselves. There is an endless amount of debate on their worth. Suffice it to say that they are one method that is great for particular types of dancers in particular situations (Vague enough for you? I’ll do a post on sometime to explain.), but a huge segment of the professionals did not participate in those competitions during their training.

Accolades like these indicate how the student performed during a snapshot in time. Certainly, those that succeed habitually tend to continue to succeed – that is why you see so many pros with such records. But these are not prerequisites to a good career, just indicators of possible career potential. Scholarship or YAGP placement or not, a dancer must continue to work hard, show her worth and improve. At the conclusion of training, the directors will decide whether the dancer should enter the company based on her capabilities at that time. I have cautioned people before that scholarships are great indicators of a school’s enhanced interest and the projected potential of a student at a particular moment in time – but they are far from a guarantee of anything. The same goes for the your situation. Getting into a top school without a scholarship (which is great on its own, by the way, and still show interest), is a valuable opportunity.

Not getting a scholarship has no bearing on whether a dancer will be accepted into the company. Grimly perhaps, all students are facing those slim odds from an equal standing. What matters at the end of the training road is: Is the dancer fully prepared to give the current artistic director what the AD wants and needs in a performer at the same time that a contract spot is available?

Ballet in Print: Bunheads

Multi-talented artist Sophie Flack has authored her first book, an intriguing novel about the world of a young corp de ballet dancer in a fictional company, Manhattan Ballet. Sophie is a former dancer with the New York City Ballet and surely drew on her nine years with the company in creating characters for the story. (She once said that she’d like to write an updated version of the famous memoir called Winter Season from another NYCB dancer.)

Ms. Flack was open to the press about having tough time departing from NYCB a couple years ago, as she was included in the controversial layoffs of early 2009. I could not be happier to see that she has made it through that transition and is fostering her creativity in new ways!

Swan Lake Samba Girl Tonya Plank was on location at a recent book signing with Flack, where long lines of blossoming balletomanes created an atmosphere of excitement. Check out her report on the event, and pre-order or pick up a copy of Bunheads through Amazon, GoodReads or select bookstores!