Wednesday, April 22, 2015

I Would Still Be Teaching Ballet If I Could

Yes, I would be still be teaching ballet if I could.

So why aren't I?

A bunch of reasons - but basically I emigrated and had no idea how long it would take to re-credential.

And that I was in the wrong place to do that.

And I had a (wonderful) child. Any mother knows what that does to one's other plans!

But many years later and after some financial catastrophes, I had not yet re-credentialed.

Things change. Years ago (when I was in Canada) I was offered a 3 year contract and a Green Card to teach in the Dance Department at UCLA.

Yet not too many years after that, UCLA dissolved its dance department. Oh dear. What a shame.

In the early 21st Century I discovered the internet and blogging. So here I am and here we are.

Recently I started reading a book "The Thinker's Way" by John Chaffee, Ph.D.

It was very disturbing. Firstly, it is probably wonderful for younger adults. It gives wonderful advice on plotting one's life.

What was most disturbing, is that no matter what I can still plan as a senior, for my life, that my favorite thing would be to be teaching ballet again.

I am still happy and optimistic about my future. And I'm so amazed that I have a ballet blog with so many followers - yes you!

I wanted to share this and mention how much I've enjoyed writing all the technical posts on this blog.

I am determined to keep writing - for instance, recently Stephen Woodjetts (once my room mate in Toronto) posted a link to a wonderful production of Swan Lake on Facebook.

He remarked that it was exceptionally musical. And it is! Way back when Steve and Liz (a flautist) and I shared a dumpy apartment, Steve used to play Swan Lake on his piano.

Liz and I would sit in the dark on a very hot and humid summer night. I was transported by the music and Steve's special talent.

And every time I see Swan Lake I think of that.

Steve had a score (Russian) given to him by Babs Mackay who was concert pianist for The National Ballet of Canada, and later The National Ballet School. I am sure Steve can think back to the sound of her playing for class as well as I can.

Here is that wonderful musical Swan Lake:

Thanks Steve!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Dance I Never Danced

Well...not quite. I'd had the amazing opportunity to have some classes in Flamenco with Susana. Yes, The Susana.

I was teaching at The National Ballet School of Canada then and only did one summer intensive - 4 weeks - of classes.

Fast forward many years later to when I had moved to LA. I had not danced for about 5 years then.

I had a child and a job. One day, while walking from the bus stop to our house, I passed a home and from inside the garage I heard someone practicing Flamenco. 

On the third day, I left a note stuck to the front door, asking where this person was studying. And she called me!

Unfortunately, a few days later I got served divorce papers at 10 PM on a week night. Phooey!

Quite a few dreams circled the drain at that point, including me taking Flamenco classes. I still had the shoes...the skirt...oh well. And I still have them! Talk about a die hard!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Not About Dance Today

 A fellow writer and artist, Vone Deporter and I have started a Gofundme campaign for another artist - John Cox, 77 years old, disabled and homeless.

I first saw John's art and fine jewelry at an art gallery show organized by the late Canadian ballerina Angela Leigh.

I met John in other creative communities in Toronto - he was friends with some founding members of Toronto Dance Theatre and worked with alternative health practitioners doing massage and bodywork. 

(She too became a visual artist after leaving the stage). 

 "100 people give $10 a month - or 200 people give $5 a month - sounds easy....." 

is the nutshell of our campaign.

If any of you followers would go the link and simply share it from the Share buttons - we'd be so grateful!

btw Vone Deporter is the painter of the beautiful ballerina on this blog header.


Friday, December 5, 2014

My First Dancing Job

Before I graduated from the National Ballet School I landed a dancing job. It was for the summer Canadian National Exhibition Show.

Having trained in a very sheltered environment, there I was with hundreds of other girls who could do so much more than I could.

They could jazz and tap. Some of them had already done dancing in tv commercials. I was so impressed!

And so intimidated.

But part of the requirements was pointe work. For a chorus line. That I could do.

I landed the job.

Then graduated from school.

The first day of rehearsals the choreographer (from New York), Midge addressed us with a bullhorn.

What I remember her saying last was "Don't sit around on the concrete. It's cold and you'll get hemorrhoids."

The football stadium was our rehearsal grounds. A mobile stage that sounded hollow (it was) suffered our learning curves. Natalia Butko was the Dance Captain. She was stellar.

The hardest number was in the pointe shoes. It was the first time I had ever worn Capezios. It was a very tough Rockettes type of material.

While walking around on pointe, wearing huge Mountie Bear hats and chiffon skirts that blew in the wind, we had to grab buttons on the skirts to raise them and create a black and white design for the audience.

Wind was a challenge but the worst night was when it rained and there were puddles on stage.

One very cool thing was meeting other dancers from schools like Gladys Forrester's and Jacque Foesiers. They were so savvy I thought.

The other cool thing was that I got to join the union. Actor's Equity. At 17, I became a union man.

My roommate Anne Ditchburn was on tour with the NBOC and I lived alone for the summer.

What was your first dance job?
That's me in Earl Kraul's class at George Brown College. In the 80's. I was teaching there too.

Photo by Victor Ongingko, used with permission.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

A Quick Hello To All My Fellow Dancers And Readers!

I've been away from this blog for so long! Is it really May?

It is recital time for many of you, or your term has already ended, and you're getting ready for the I.N.T.E.N.S.E. ballet summer intensive!

I'm writing at a second job these days and haven't had time to focus on the big ballet world!

I'm so happy to see people are still dropping by this blog and hopefully it's helpful for those who need some technique tips!

So thanks for visiting and reading here!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Improve Ballet Turnout And The Frog Position

I have written about this before and I'm glad to see that Deborah Vogel at The Body Series is writing about it again! Specifically:


 "This week's question is from a student curious about why she can do a good butterfly and frog position and yet can only stand in a first position of around 90 degrees.  It's not an uncommon pattern and a good one for our students to understand. "

I hope you read this! If you are tyring to improve your ballet turnout you need this information!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Ballet Foot Positions While You Improve Ballet Turnout

Many students wonder just how perfect their ballet foot positions should be in earlier training. As the years progress, you expect to improve ballet turnout. You do whatever you consider to be the best stretching exercise for dance turnout.

Please note that very few dancers have 180 degree turnout from their hip joints, resulting in no strain no pain 180 degree turnout in their ballet foot positions.

Yet, there comes a time in your ballet training years where you must stand in a toe-to-heel fifth position. Exactly when that year is, is up to your ballet teacher.

You've done years of leg and hip exercises, stretching that is, to improve your turnout. If you're "born to dance", your hip joints, where the top of your thigh fits in, and is attached, slant sideways, as opposed to slanting a little backwards, blocking your movement towards the 180 degree angle, and giving you the ideal ballet foot positions.

Even with those sideways hip joints, you maybe had to do a lot of hip flexibility exercises, to really take advantage of what you were given.

But what if your hip joints aren't quite so sideways pointing, and you feel a pull when you do hip flexibility exercises?

If you're studying Vaganova technique, you probably have been putting your ballet foot positions into the toe-to-heel fifth position since day one.

If not, you may have a ballet teacher who starts with third position, training your leg and hip exercises to improve turnout gradually. Then, crossing over toward fifth position a little at a time.

This all came to mind today when I read Deborah Vogel's newsletter with the topic "Is It Hip To Be Square - Looking at 4rth and 5th Positions".

It basically discusses the decisions that need to be made during your training, as to how you will go after your ballet foot positions - or dance turnout in general - and how you fulfill the ideal of "square hips square body".

Every ballet teacher must evaluate every individual ballet student and determine how and when she/he will demand those anatomically incorrect ballet foot positions.

Especially for adults ballet classes, this topic should be addressed.

Go on over to The Body Series and read more about ballet foot positions.