Friday, April 29, 2011

awestruck of the day

i still remember my first time seeing the beautiful tamara rojo live; it wasn't until she had finished the coda that i realized i literally had small tears streaming down my face in shock and awe.  she is without a doubt one of my biggest inspirations.  check out the beautiful ms. rojo, along with her fantastic partner carlos acosta, in the black swan pas de deux:

Friday, April 15, 2011

ashley bouder

i've recently been following the career of new york city ballet's ashley bouder closely, and the more i learn about her, the more i'm inspired.  if you're not familiar with ms. bouder, i urge you get to know her; she's a seasoned vet, whose experience and talent is fantastically obvious, she's absolutely beautiful!

“The great thing about Ashley,” says principal dancer Joaquin De Luz, who has partnered her in a number of ballets, “is that she really shares her energy, and it makes you want to jump higher and dance better.” 

“From the beginning she stood out onstage,” says Merrill Ashley. “Besides her technical strength, she really feels and expresses the movement and clearly she loves to dance.”
(Dance Magazine, April 2011)

i don't know what it is about her, but she just seems like one of those really genuine dancers, who works hard for everything and approaches each class/rehearsal/show with intense thought and care.  she seems like the type of dancer who never stops pushing herself to make new goals, meet them, and then surpass them, which is such a fantastic and evident quality in a dancer, not the type to rely solely on natural talents. 

i also love this video, in which ashley is joined by fellow nycb dancers tiler peck and kathryn morgan discuss dancing the role of aurora, from three different perspectives.

and if you're a twitter fiend like myself, be sure to follow her twitter.  so fun to get to a little sneak peek into the daily life of a widely successful principle dancer!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

a night at the ballet

a few weeks ago i had the pleasure of attending San Francisco Ballet's Program 3, consisting of Yuri Possokhov's "Classical Symphony", Helgi Tomasson's "Nanna's Lied", and Forsythe's "Artifact Suite".  while the evening itself was totally magical, some of the ballets were not.

the program starts off with "Classical Symphony", which i must say was amazing.  from the music, to the costumes, to the superb and surprising choreography, possokhov choreographed a serious winner.  vanessa zahorian danced the lead role, and while she is an incredibly strong and precise dancer, i felt her movements were a little jerky.  sometimes you see those dancers who forget to connect every single one of the steps, pausing and breaking from the fluidity, which seemed to happen a few times.  but her footwork and precision definitely made up for it.  that small critique aside, it was absolutely stunning and inspiring.

Maria Kochetkova and Frances Chung; Classical Symphony
after a brief intermission we came back in for "Nanna's Lied", which i can without a doubt say is by far the worst ballet i've ever seen.  ***warning, i'm about to rant.

the choreography was as literal as possible; i don't speak german, yet i know 100% that the choreography did nothing but directly act out the words to the song.  it may just be my opinion, but there is no need for both choreography and music if they fail to tell the story in new or interesting ways.  it was like watching the same boring television show twice in a row; as if it wasn't bad enough the first time, there was nothing new or exciting to hold my interest.

and it was all surprisingly erratic; after a series of weird poses and walking, the dancers would finally start dancing, and right when you're almost intrigued then the song would end, along with the dancing...and my interest in the piece.  then the audience would wait, as the dancers blandly repositioned themselves on the stage, waiting for the next song to begin, accompanied by their obvious and predictable musical cues.  adding to this was a ridiculous and frustrating set, composed of 3 large grey slates concrete walls, which had nothing to add to the story line.  and with every pause of the music, they would dramatically switch the direction the walls were tilting, as if it had to be done in order for the audience to follow the ballet.  in reality, all it did was distract me and cause me to spend more time wondering why they were necessary as opposed to trying to enjoy the ballet.

Sarah Van Patten and Anthony Spaulding, Nanna's Lied
the one bright spot in this ballet was the lovely sarah van patten.  no matter how ridiculously predictable the choreography, it was impossible to take your eyes off her.  every movement was rich and luxurious and i enjoyed every second she was dancing.

it was a shame to see the amazingly talented anthony spaulding dancing in a role where he wasn't actually dancing, rather just acting as a piece of scenery, occasionally lifting van patten (which of course he still did perfectly).  i guess for me, spaulding is so incredible because even though he is not as technically skilled as some of the other principles, when he moves he has complete command of the stage.  he has that special je ne sais quois that keeps the audience wanting more; so having him simply strolling across the stage was insanely frustrating.  he never got the ability to actually dance, and a ballet that wastes men's talent is to me totally pointless.

overall, "Nanna's Lied" left a terrible taste in my mouth, and i was not the only one.

what better way to restore my faith in sf ballet then ending it with the amazing and fantastic Forsythe piece "Artifact".  if i've said it once, i'll say it again; Forsythe on sfb is a match made in heaven.  between the unmatchable perfection of the dancers and the stunning choreography of Forsythe, i could watch "Artifact" all day long.  while many of my audience members found the dramatic dropping of the curtain, which happens sporadically through out the piece, to be a little overwhelming, if you keep an open mind you'll find that the intensity of the ballet is literally moving.


for more info on Program 3, visit san francisco ballet's website here.

Friday, February 25, 2011

its been a while!

wow did i ever disappear?!  just when i feel like things are finally starting to get normal, you're thrown back into chaos.

when i made the decision to move to san francisco, i did it with a very clear plan (i'm definitely one of those people that plans out every second of every year of my life, so plans are important).  but once i got here and got settled into my new company, i found myself hating dancing.  every morning i didn't want to get out of bed, i didn't want to go to class, and i certainly didn't want to go to rehearsal.  after a few months, i knew i wasn't in the right place, so i quit.  it was a very drastic decision, and for a while i really regretted it.  having so little professional experience on my resume is terrifying.  but ever since i quit, i've been enjoying dancing all over again.  my focus is now on classical ballet and my technique, in hopes that i'll be ready for auditions this month.

i also found out that i have tendentious which was a huge wrench in my master plan, but after some heavy physical therapy, it seems to be going away.

while i love dancing again, i hate waiting to see if any company will take me.  no matter how well i dance, i feel so nervous about standing out enough to be chosen.  fingers crossed!!!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

a case of the mixed up mondays

today was one of those days when everything was just off.  the train i take to get to ballet class was 20 minutes late, causing me to miss morning technique class.  although annoying, this was fine, because there is also an evening class i can take.  so i tried to get stuff accomplished during the day and planned on taking the later class.  come time for ballet, i left with more than enough time to get there, but yet again the train was delayed.  so today, i missed not one but two ballet classes.

i feel very out of whack.  hopefully its just a monday thing.  and with that, i leave you an image of the most amazing feet ever, miss tamara rojo.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

perfecting pirouettes

pirouette...for me this seemed like the easiest step in the entire world.  some people are jumpers, some love adagio, but me, i love pirouettes.  although turning seems somewhat simple, pirouettes are not just a bunch of spins with velocity behind it, they're actually quite tricky, so heres some tips to help make your pirouette fantastic every time!

1.  proper preparation is key:  make sure your fourth isn't too big or too small, and that your weight is equally distributed between your legs, keeping you well centered.  i know so many girls who think they need to be over their front leg at all times, but i promise you that if you take off from two feet equally, you'll have a much more stable, successful turn.

2.  what goes up, must come down:  one of the mistakes i used to always make was thinking that to pirouette correctly, the focus had to be on the rise.  i would jump onto my foot, completely forgetting the most important part of the turn, the plie.  plie is so essential to getting the force you need to do amazing triple pirouettes (it is possible, i promise), but if you go straight from a rigid fourth to your releve, you're never going to make it.  if i could only give you one tip for pirouettes it would be to deepen your plie right as your about to take off.  not only that, but as you're turning, focus on sending energy down through your leg, as well as up through the top of the head.  focusing on the standing leg once again helps with your stability and strength in the turn, while lengthening through the top of the head helps you concentrate on your posture, keeping everything perfectly balanced throughout the rotations.

3.  abs, abs abs:  for me, every dance move in some way or another originates from the center of the torso.  focusing on contracting your abs, keeping your core strong throughout the motion, is key in a flawless turn.  it also helps you gather up all the energy of the turn quickly and efficiently, creating a compact turning machine!
***when you're practicing passe at the barre, be sure to think about your abs as well.  one of my teachers once told me to try to focus on the opposing rotation of the abs and the passe knee, pushing the knee away from the abs and vice versa.  this has really helped me understand the relationship between my passe and my core to help keep me on balance.

4.  no man left behind:  the moment you come out of your plie preparation, make sure everything assembles in the air simultaneously.  if something like your head or arms are left behind, it will slow your turn down and will keep you from turning at your best.

5.  relax:  keep your head and neck as loose as possible, while still maintaining good ballet posture.  its important that they be able to move and spot freely in the turn.  also, make sure your shoulders are relaxed and tense or raised.  

6.  back to basics:  when all else fails and you just can't seem to get that turn down, slow down and take your pirouette back to basics.  try doing a single turn; make mental notes of what direction you're falling in, what feels weird or weak, see what is right and what is wrong.  remember that proper technique builds strength and that is what is going to give you the type of turns that make everyone envious.  do ankle strengthening exercises, like multiple releves at the barre or ankle rolls.  practice doing single consecutive turns from fifth position; focus on a clean take-off and landing, and take notice of what your core is doing during the turn.

and all in all, remember that quality really does out rank quantity.  i think its important to remember that one perfect turn (with that gorgeous moment of suspense at the end before you come down to a perfect fifth, yeah you know what i'm talking about!) is so much more beautiful that five okay turns with a sloppy ending.  i guarantee you that at an audition, the girl with the perfect double will get picked over the girl with the mediocre quadruple any day!

practice these tips and you'll be a pirouette master in no time!  

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Scheherazade like you've never seen it before

if you're like me and live in san francisco, you've recently been bombarded with images of alonzo king's lines ballet's production of "Scheherazade", making its west coast debut october 14-24 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

while i was dying to go, i unfortunately couldn't get the weekend off to see the amazing work alonzo had created for us this season.  i did however find this amazing video, giving us a peak into lines rehearsals.  if the ballet is anywhere near as fantastic as this video suggests, i hope that all international ballet fans can go see the show when it goes on tour in november!

LINES Ballet from LINES Ballet on Vimeo.