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.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

behind the velvet curtain

i'm obsessed with photos of dancers backstage.  i love the glamour of the theatre and the peak into the dancer's lives, its all so beautiful.  i found these imagines on the winger and i'm absolutely in love with them so i thought i'd share!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

turnout troubles

every dancer has that one thing that is a constant pain in the butt; sometimes its flexibility, sometimes its straight legs...but for me, its turnout.

i've never had perfect turnout, despite sitting in the "frog" stretch for hours on end, and while i can fake it very well at barre, when it comes to center floor work, it really hinders my dancing.  i'm off balance, i can't properly develope, my hips are never quite where they need to be, etc.  i always think about those scenes in "Center Stage" when all the teachers are yelling at Jody for not having perfect in my attempt to discover the secret to perfect turnout, i've decided to investigate it further.

turnout actually originates from the hips rotating outwards all the way down through the knees and toes.  its the rotation of the hip that forces the knees and feet to turn away from the center of the body; if the knees and feet initiate the movement, its incorrect (a la me during class...) and is one of the most common ways dancers injure their knees.

a lot of different factors come into play when assessing turnout, including the flexibility of the hip, leg, and certain ligaments in the leg, along with the ability to rotate within your hip sockets.

stretches to help turnout include the ever popular "frog" as previously mentioned, where you lay face down, pelvis flat on the ground, knees bent, with the bottoms of your feet touching.  the goal is to completely be flat on the floor, so that even your stomach, pelvis, thighs, knees, calves, and feet are all on the ground.  this can also be done laying with your back on the ground, feet together and knees bent; this time however the challenge is to get your knees and thighs to lay flat on the ground.      

another great stretch to help turnout is the center split.  i know, i know, no one likes the center split, but it really does help...or so they say!  holding a center split is a great way to help achieve maximum turnout.  there are two effective ways to stretch the center split.  one way is up against the wall: with your back flat on the ground and your butt as close to the wall as possible, extend your legs upwards and open them into second.  i like this way because gravity helps push your stretch even more.  some people do these stretches with ankle weights to help even further pull your legs downwards.  i've never tried it, but as long as the weights aren't too heavy, it sounds helpful!

another way to stretch your center is to sit on the ground in your best center split, leaning forwards with a straight back, attempting to get your stomach to lay flat on the ground.  kinda old school, but i think its super effective (i'm currently in that position as i type!).

its recommended that dancers do these stretches daily for at least half an hour in order to improve their turnout.  its important to also remember to never force the stretch; slowly easing into it is kinder to your muscles and will help you gain the most from the activity.

a friend also recommended the book "tune up your turnout" by deborah vogel, but i've yet to purchase it.  if you have read it, let me know if it is worthwhile!

and when all else fails, don't forget the importance of your mind and imagination.  sometimes imagining my body on a center line, with everything rotating outwards and away from that center, helps me remember to turnout from head to toe.  hey, whatever works right?!

fun find

i'm very excited because i just purchased the book "Technical Manual and Dictionary of Classical Ballet".  my old ballet teacher used to read excerpts from it for fun, so i was elated to find it at my local borders.  its only five dollars and its actually really enjoyable to read.  i highly recommend it!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

classical ballet vs. contemporary ballet

all my life, ballet has been a constant.

when i was little, i dreamt of wearing tutus and dancing swan lake all day, every day.  i read Angelina Ballerina and toted my infamous Ballet Box everywhere.  but when i was 16, i was introduced to Alonzo King's Lines Ballet, and suddenly my focus shifted.  i started taking contemporary classes and shifting my focus towards the less technical world of ballet and dance.  i don't really know why i felt it was where i belonged, or who enforced that belief, but it happened.  even though i stayed with a classical studio all throughout high school, i still considered myself to prefer contemporary.

however now that i dance with a contemporary school, i find myself desperately missing my classical home base.  this longing for a strict technique class has led me to take a deeper look into the many ranges of ballet.

its so interesting the way very classical companies and very contemporary companies differ in opinions and perspectives.  the right way to hold your arms/legs/torso in one ballet class may not be right for another variation.  even the way you're encouraged to move changes.

in some cases, the opposing sides put each other down in the most childish way, which really bothers me.  for example, today one of my teachers was poking fun at most classical ballerina's desire to dance cleanly and technically perfect, saying it lacked interest which to me simply isn't true.  and many of my classical friends are quite close minded towards other disciplines; when they see anything contemporary they just automatically write it off as weird, silly, or dumb.

i guess theres no real point to this blog, just some frustration with people's lack of appreciation for other disciplines, coupled with my confusion as to where i fall on the ballet scale.

i think every type of dance, even if it seems foreign, odd, or difficult to wrap your head around, is a beautiful art form worth being appreciated.  while i don't believe its necessary that we all fully master every type and discipline of dance out there, i think we should appreciate every artist's craft, not just the one we personally deem most valuable.