Blog Archives

Ballet Strength Goes Beyond the Barre

Are you looking to advance in your current ballet company? If you are like most dancers, your goal is to rise through the ranks of a ballet company and eventually get the opportunity to dance principal roles. Smart dancers know that the tools necessary to excel in the dance world are not all found in your daily ballet technique class. The following are some areas to explore when it comes to having the advantage over your competition.

1.) Use your resources. Does your ballet company offer massage and chiropractic services? If so, these are resources that you should be utilizing on a weekly basis. Keeping your body fine tuned will keep it performing to it’s full potential.

2.) Eat for fuel. It you are dancing professionally you should be on a performance nutrition plan. Dancers must eat to fuel their bodies to get through intense days of rehearsals, performances and most importantly recovery. If your body is not adequately recovered from the previous day of training, it will not magically reset the next day.

3.) Look beyond the barre. Ballet cross training is a huge part of a dancers performance plan today. It will help you stay injury free, strengthen weaknesses, and improve overall physical conditioning. The old thinking that dancers can’t lift weights is no longer a valid statement as dancers in the top ballet companies like New York City Ballet and San Francisco Ballet are doing it. Oh, and to answer the question “Will I get bulky?” No, you may actually lean out!

4.) Rehab injuries- Be smart about your injuries. If a prescribed physical therapy plan is not working, look elsewhere. Different rehabilitation techniques work for different injuries and with the many options available these days, there is no excuse to live in pain. Find a treatment plan that works best for you.

5.) Hire a coach. Sometimes you need an outside perspective. You can’t always lean on your friends in the company for help and advice since in essence they are your competition. Professional dancers hire me, for example, to keep them motivated and on track with their goals and to create a performance plan. Without a long-term plan, you will be lost in the corp de ballet.

6.) Rest. Probably the most important part of a dancer’s recovery is rest. This means respecting your body by getting to bed early each night and keeping outside drama to a minimum. It may sound like a good idea to go out with friends on weeknights, but you are only further fatiguing your body.

By exploring these six areas you will put yourself ahead of the game as a dancer. These are just a few of the things that I currently work on with my professional dancer clients. If you are interested in learning more about my coaching services for dancers email me at nikol@balletaudition.com.

Choosing the Right Ballet Auditions

Now that Nutcracker season is over and it’s the New Year, chances are, you are gearing up for your ballet summer intensive auditions. With summer intensive auditions, there can be hundreds of different schools to choose from. How do you know which schools are right for you?

Make sure you start doing the research before the audition to make sure you don’t waste your time, energy, and your parent’s money. If you live in a city such as New York or San Francisco, where pretty much every Summer Intensive holds an audition, I recommend going to as many auditions as possible for experience. If you don’t live in a city where schools typically hold auditions, you will have to travel, which is something you and your family may need to discuss and take into consideration.

What style are you trained in? While it is always fun to attend a school that trains dancers in a different style than you, you want to make sure that style suits you. School of American Ballet, for example, typically looks for dancers who are trained in the Balanchine technique whereas a school like the Kirov looks for a Russian trained dancer.

Remember, your ultimate goal is to be accepted into a professional company, right? So this means you want to choose which summer intensive you attend wisely once you are accepted.

Also consider your family’s budget should you get accepted into the school. Does the summer intensive offer scholarships?

For your first summer intensive program, I recommend going to a school that isn’t too far away from home. When I went to my first summer school, Chautauqua, at age 11, I was very homesick. Luckily my family was only a few hours drive away and came up to visit me on the weekends.

As you get older, you want to look for summer intensives that have schools which feed into a professional company. The last summer program that I attended, for example, was Ballet Austin where I was offered a professional contract prior to the programs end.

Be a smart auditioner and you have the potential to get in to the summer intensive of your dreams…and possibly the professional ballet company in the future!

For more audition tips be sure to check out Nikol’s book, The Ballet Audition Preparation Guide at www.balletaudition.com.

Complexions Contemporary Dance Review

As a professional dancer in San Diego I do not get many opportunities to see truly great dance companies perform without having to travel to another city. It has been a long time since I have been excited to see a company as I was when I purchased tickets to see Complexions Contemporary Dance perform at the Birch North Park Theatre in San Diego on Saturday, May 7, 2011 at 8:00 pm.


The evening started off with a piece called Moon Over Jupiter choreographed by Dwight Rhoden set to classical music by Sergei Rachmaninov. From the moment the curtain opened I knew that this one was going to knock my socks off. The Women wore nothing but leotards, showing off their tight and toned legs that even the best body builders would be envious of. The Men were shirtless sculptures of art that definitely showed off the demands of the intricate leg and foot work displayed in Rhoden’s choreography. I was wowed by this piece like I haven’t been in years. The choreography embodied the technical athleticism and intelligence that the dance world has not seen since George Balanchine. The “slides” which may have looked like mishaps or slips to uneducated audience members very much reminded me of the hip thrusts in the ballet Concerto Barroco (Balanchine). This was my favorite piece of the evening because of the stunning athleticism and stamina required by the dancers who are so lucky to work for such an amazing choreographer. Notable dancer was Sabra Perry who’s fluidity of movement shocked me. At first sight, this gorgeous long limbed dancer is awkwardly tall and very Darcy Bussell like. I have never seen long limbs move so effortlessly and Rhoden’s choreography clearly suits her well.

Moon Over Jupiter

After the first intermission three pieces were presented, none of which I was particularly fond of. Moody Boot Blues started off fabulously but I wished that it was longer. Desmond Richardson’s solo, Moonlight, was amazing and emotional of course but I would have liked to have seen a more dancy solo. This was a great break from the technical pieces though and I feel that the audience received it well. My least favorite piece of the evening was On Holiday which reminded me of being at one of my Dad’s ( a Jazz Musician) Jazz clubs as a kid. Great choreography, great concept but a bit boring and slow to watch.

Moonlight

The highlight of the evening was Rise, a piece choreographed to music by U2. The feel was automatically one of a rock concert with music blaring, smiling faces, and a feeling that dared the audience to get up and start head-banging. This piece was so much fun to watch and looked like even more fun to dance. It reminded me of one of my favorite ballets Brand New Day by Kevin O’Day, which was a ballet done to the music of Sting. Notable dancers were Patricia Hachey who’s flawless training and technique truly shined as the song lyrics radiated from her being and Natalia Alonso who’s gorgeous physique continued to amaze me throughout the evening.

Rise

Overall this was an amazing evening that refreshed my opinion of dance. I feel that Rhoden’s choreography is truly the way that the dance world should be headed with the athleticism, long lines, and organic movements that aren’t tastelessly contemporary nor too safe like much ballet choreography these days. This was the perfect blend of everything that you would want from a truly great dance performance.