Tuesday, December 22, 2009


All the best to everyone! Merde for your performances (I hope no one asks me to explain that one) and have a safe and happy holiday time.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

How to Train in Ballet Before You're Too Old

High school age students have a dilemma with ballet training, and balancing the demands of the academic and the artistic. However, the structure of education is actually quite flexible. The easiest solution is to get accepted into a full time ballet/academic school, but that is not possible for many. Here are some ideas dancers and parents may want to explore.

Finding out the audition schedules and possible audition tours of the full time ballet/academic schools is not difficult.

Use a search engine and type in "full time ballet schools in (name your country or area)".

Search the web site for auditions, audition tours, or "about us" if you cannot find the audition information. Usually that and scholarship information, or financial assistance, is available.

If it is not possible for you to even consider leaving home and attending a full time training school, then calculate the number of hours you can train at a local studio, each week. If you can add three hours a day of academic training on top of that, then you can spend those other hours doing dance training.

In the US, home schooling is legal and very organized. Registered schools, of which the details may be different in each state, are usually organized by parents. A home schooler registers with a school. The school may offer a curriculum for the school grades. or not. If they do not, then the student and the parent put one together. It is not difficult because there are many models to use. Here's another thing that helps - home schooling high schoolers, at least in California, can register in community college courses for NO cost, and get college credits for the courses. This is in place because many home schoolers have finished high school by the time they are thirteen years old.

When you factor in the legal requirement in spending three hours a day in school, and how much work a student can do in that time, without all the extra time spent just going through the daily motions of a public school - three hours is all it takes. Additionally, hours of ballet can count as physical education and - well, more time for dance training!

There is a lot of philosophic and political discussion going on about home schooling, but this article is not about that. If a young person is extremely talented and motivated to train in the arts, the regular 7 hour school day is a waste of time.

Also, check to see if your state provides a high school exit test which can usually be done in the later semester of Grade 11, if the student has turned sixteen. This gives a high school diploma and the student can then go on to further training. In California it is law that the school inform students of this option, although I've never heard that schools routinely do this. I found out from a home schooling mom.

An arts intensive curriculum can be created at any grade, while still fulfilling general education needs. If you want to train in ballet before you're too old, you do have options.

Friday, December 11, 2009

"La Danse" - If You Dance and Love Ballet

"La Danse" - Le ballet de l'Opéra de Paris is a wonderful dance film. By Frederick Wiseman, it gives you the role of a fly on the wall. I saw it with a friend, a real estate mogul, who is also a doll house maker and a seamstress. She said afterwards "I want to run away and join le ballet! In the wardrobe department!" Tutus galore, masks, wigs, and more...I can see her in Paris.

Oh....the wide shots of Paris..... wonderful cinematography.

Shots from the roof - where beehives are harvested - shots below with water filled causeways - the real Phantom of the Opera location -

And then there's the dance! La Danse, le ballet....

Rehearsals, performance, moderne, classique - office meetings, union meeting, you are a fly on the wall......

"Also, at two and a half hours, it's not a film for the fidgety." reviews Mike Scott, of the The Times-Picayune. Hah - dance fans are not fidgety!

You'll get an ongoing and interspersed revelation into the rehearsals of "Medea". During the two and a half hours , between the studio rehearsals and stage rehearsals , I wondered what the buckets across the back of the stage were for. Duh - uh. Oh, Medea, every mother's worst sacrifice. If you are not familiar with the Medea story, you may want to look it up before going to this ballet.

You'll see rehearsals with le corps de ballet, and with soloists/principals. You'll see the dyeing of shoes, the sewing of crystals on tutus and the dyeing of costume fabric.

You'll see it all!
Read here about Brigitte Lefevre, the current Director of Dance at the Paris National Opera.

If you love dance, you'll love this movie.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I Want To Be A Ballerina - But I Need More Time At The Ballet Academy

Finding a way to balance school requirements and the time needed at the ballet academy is frustrating for many young ballerinas and boys in ballet. Parents worry if grades drop and use dance classes as currency for academic improvement. What are the alternatives for getting a good education and still putting the time into classical dance training?
If you want to audition for a professional academic/ballet school, do a web search for their audition tours and see if any of them come to your area. Most auditions are held early in the year.

The sooner you can start professional training the better. Check all your choices!

Can you home school - or get a an independent education program? Here in Los Angeles children can home school - they register in a local private school for home schoolers, and get a curriculum put together that fulfills the grade requirements. They document their attendance (legal requirement is 3 hrs per day)and the parents who have registered the school supply computerized transcripts of their grades every year. There is no problem entering a private school or a college, later.

This allows ballet students to attend their dance classes on a more intense schedule. Also, the dance training would fulfill a quota of the home schooling daily requirements - such as physical education, field trips (ballet, art galleries, etc.,). There are very large home schooling communities so students do not exist in isolation.

You may be able to get into an Independent program through their public school, where you study at home and check in with an academic advisor once or twice a month, and do the usual school exams at school. This system allows for both disabled and gifted students to arrange their own schooling circumstances.

Look into all of this. If your school semesters start again in January, or early in the year, perhaps you can arrange a switch to another system of schooling which would fulfill the requirements you would need as a professional dancer, (art, language, for instance), as well as general education.

Also new here in California is a system for students to do ALL their schooling on line. They co-ordinate with a public school advisor to stay on track, yet there is a freedom of schedule for both the parents and students.

So check all your options, and make the best of the years left to qualify for auditioning in a professional company. Try to get some feedback from a local ballet company - audition at their school!

A lot of success in this world comes from having the nerve to approach people, present yourself, and make contacts. While ballet has specific requirements, often the bravest reach the top when the most talented do not.