Blog Archives

Ankle Strengthening Exercises for Ballet

Hello Dancers! I have been getting a ton of questions from my Facebook Fan Page from those of you who are just starting pointe work and are looking for ways to improve quickly. Today I want to post a ballet video that I filmed about ballet ankle strengthening exercises for pointe. Enjoy!

Summer Program Savvy

As the end of June approaches many of you will head off to your very first summer ballet intensive program. With your suitcases packed have you left anything behind? You have surely packed enough leotards and pointe shoes to get you through the 3-6 weeks that you will be away from home. Have you forgotten the most important thing you will need for your summer intensive?

The most common thing that dancers forget to do before leaving for a ballet summer intensive program is set goals. Why are you doing this summer intensive program? To improve, right? But what exact areas of your dancing are you looking to improve? Let’s face it, without setting goals what exactly will you get out of your summer intensive experience?

Before you leave home (or even if you are in your first few weeks of the intensive) write down these questions in your ballet journal. ( I cover the journal details in a previous blog and in my book The Ballet Audition Preparation Guide)

What do I feel that I most need to improve on this summer? This could be anything from pirouettes to technique.

What have my teachers been encouraging me to improve on? This would be the corrections that you get in class or at the school year-end conference.

What do I need to do to make these corrections over the summer? Listen to the teachers, focus, etc

Why did I choose this summer intensive? List the key reasons that you decided to go to this particular summer program. Anything from teaching staff to city.

What do I most want to accomplish this summer at (fill in your summer intensive name) ? What is your ultimate goal in attending this particular summer program? Do you perhaps want to be asked to stay for this school’s year-round program?

By answering these questions and looking them over every few days, you will stay on track at your summer program. I know it sounds kind of dorky but if you really want to become the best dancer you have to set goals and remind yourself of those goals consistently. Have fun and make friends but remember, you are there to dance!

Patricia McBride and I at Chautauqua Summer Intensive

Ballet Summer Intensive Checklist

You did it! You were accepted into the summer ballet intensive that you worked so hard to get in to. Now onto what to pack! Here is a list of a few items that you want to be sure not to forget.

1.) You’re probably super excited to take your new leotards, skirts, and warm-ups but don’t forget about your regular “street” clothes too! What will the weather be like in the city where you will be dancing? Places like Pittsburgh, New York or Austin are typically very hot in the Summer so you’ll want to pack lots of shorts and tank tops for example. P.S. Don’t forget your swimsuit!

2.) How many pairs of pointe shoes will you need? One pair of technique shoes will work but you need to be prepared when it comes to pointe shoes. For a six week program I would recommend bringing four to five pairs of pointe shoes. (be sure to save one pair for the workshop performance!)

3.) Are the studios air conditioned? This is something that will also determine how many pairs of pointe shoes you will go through. If you are going to be dancing in a warmer climate where there is no AC, you can anticipate that your pointe shoes will break down or “die” faster. Check into this before you leave just in case you need to pack an extra few pairs of shoes.

4.) Bring things to do. If you are staying in a dorm or with a host family you will more than likely have a curfew. This curfew could be early so you want to make sure to pack lots to do. I recommend bringing lots of books, dvds, games, magazines or a laptop if you have one.

5.) Don’t forget your camera. With all of the fun activities that your chaperones will have planned for you in your new city you don’t want to miss a Kodak moment! The photos you take and the memories that come with them will last you a lifetime.

6.) The last thing you want to be sure to take with you is a positive attitude. Embrace the new styles, techniques and teaching staff that you will be introduced to. Even if you get frustrated, stay open minded and your teachers will recognize how well you can overcome adversity. Remember: summer study is all about getting new perspective and walking away from the experience a new and improved dancer.

I hope that these tips help you with your ballet summer intensive program packing. As always feel free to send your questions in by emailing me at nikol@balletaudition.com. I am looking forward to hearing from you 🙂

Ballet Strength Pointe Magazine debut

It has taken me a while to share this article with you and I finally got a chance to scan it to my computer today. I reformatted the look of the article for you to make it a bit  easier to read. Although I was inaccurately quoted on several occasions, I still feel that it is a huge accomplishment for myself and Ballet Strength to be part of the elite few who have had the opportunity to share their wisdom in Pointe and am extremely thankful for the opportunity.

If you are interested in having your questions answered by me on my blog or by video blog, send your questions to nikol@balletaudition.com. I look forward to helping you!

Ballet Strength DVD Secrets

I am pleased to announce the launch of my new Ballet Strength DVD. I have been working hard over the past few months to carefully choose and design exercises that will help dancers improve their jumps, turns, core stability, and most importantly help with injury prevention.

You can learn more and get your very own copy by clicking here >> I want a copy of the Ballet Strength DVD

Here is a video preview of some of what the Ballet Strength DVD has to offer!

Ballet Strength – How to Improve Turnout

Watch a sneak peek of my new Ballet Strength DVD coming out with this exercise designed to improve turn-out.

Ballet Strength Stretching Secrets

These stretches are best done after class.

If you are like the majority of dancers, your daily routine begins by showing up 30 minutes or so before ballet class starts to warm-up. The keyword here is “warm-up.” What most of you end up doing is stretching as a warm-up which may be causing more harm than good. Read on to find out the proven reasons why you should not be stretching before class.

If you are stretching in an effort to increase or enhance performance prior to ballet class or the big show, you are really doing yourself a great disservice. Static stretching results in a decrease in performance while dynamic stretching results in an increase in performance (*see reference 1 below).

Some of us don’t really know why we stretch before class…we just do it because we saw someone else doing it. I don’t know about you, but I never had a ballet instructor suggest stretching before class. They did however suggest warming-up. There is a big difference.

Your pre ballet class ritual should consist of a dynamic warm-up done in an effort to specifically turn-on and activate muscles through heightened neurological communication between the brain and muscle motor units. Stretching will not achieve this. Stretching should be done in an effort to recover and restore fatigued muscles after ballet class or performance. The goal of post class/ performance stretching would be to restore range of motion and/or to release tight muscle fibers to provide efficient blood flow which brings essential nutrients into the muscle to repair, restore, and recover.

A great dynamic warm-up for example would consist of high knee lifts (think marching in place), torso twists, arm circles, and believe it or not a jog around the ballet classroom to elevate the heart-rate and get the blood moving. How many of you have seen girls jogging around the room in auditions to warm-up and laughed at them for doing so? (now the joke is on you!)

If you are looking to maximize those splits or extension, work on your deep stretching after class from now on. Also, be sure to give a dynamic warm-up a try before class this week and notice the difference in the way your muscles feel during class. I’m looking forward to hearing your throughts and experiences with this!

Committed to Your Dancing,

Nikol Klein
www.balletstrength.com
www.balletaudition.com

*Resources:[1]  L. Parsons, N. Maxwell, C.Elniff, M. Jacka, and N. Heerschee Static vs. Dynamic Stretching on Vertical Jump and Standing Long Jump (2006), Greg Romero Coaching (2011)

Ballet Strength Perfects Pirouettes

It’s no secret that between running my successful San Diego personal training business, answering your ballet strength questions, and writing/ filming new material for dancers that I don’t get a whole lot of time to go to a studio to take ballet class. This is why I have a ballet barre and marley floor at home. I can give myself class in between clients.

Yesterday I decided to try some pirouettes after having quite a bit of time off from dancing on pointe. On my second attempt I did a quadruple…

Sorry I didn’t finish in fifth position. 🙂

Nutrition for Dancers

This weeks question comes from a professional dancer on the verge of being promoted to a principal dancer.

Question: What foods can I eat to give me energy throughout the dancing day that will fill me up without making me feel lethargic?

Answer: Nutrition for dancers is a touchy subject on the online message boards and forums, but I am not afraid to tackle this one head on. If you are a professional dancer dancing sometimes up to 8 hours a day, you want to make sure that you are eating to stay fueled up for rehearsals. I always drank an electrolyte beverage such as Gatorade during class and rehearsals to replace all of the carbohydrates lost while sweating. In case you haven’t noticed already, water alone will not satisfy your need for hydration during class and rehearsals. If you are a pre-professional dancer, hydration is just as important so these tips go for you as well.

As far as fueling your body with foods, you want to make sure that you are eating a healthy, carbohydrate rich snack every 2 hours during the dancing day. This is the nutrition schedule that I give to my ballet strength nutrition clients. Finding time to include the snacks in your day can sometimes be a struggle, but is imperative to your dancing when it comes to making improvements and progress in your technique. Not only will your body suffer if it is lacking essential nutrients, but your mind will also have a hard time remembering choreography.

So what should you eat? Here is a list of some great healthy snacks that you can add into your day to stay energized and eager to dance;

  • Granola Bars (not protein bars!)
  • Yogurt
  • Trail Mix
  • Fruit
  • Whole Wheat Crackers
  • Cereal

These snacks will replenish the stored carbohydrates that you lost during class, rehearsal, or both. Remember, don’t go hungry, eat for energy and your dancing will improve tremendously!

Committed to Your Dancing,
Nikol Klein
www.balletstrength.com

Nutcracker Ballet Partnerning Advice

Question: Hi Nikol! Love your facebook page and hoping to purchase your ebooks soon. I had a question regarding some acting difficulties in Nutcracker. I am Clara and my directors really want a strong “connection” between her and the nephew/nutcracker prince. There are times where I have to really look at him with “affection” and mean it! Its hard! Do you have any advice for connecting with your partner? Thanks! ~ Colleen

Partnering isn't one sided. It takes two!

Answer: Hello Colleen. First off, I would like to say congratulations to you on landing the part of Clara in The Nutcracker. As a young dancer, performing the role of Clara was one of those times that I remember the most vividly and had the most fun dancing on stage. Now we all know the story of The Nutcracker, but I want you to find the book (if you don’t already have it) and really read the story. While you are reading the story, I want you to take careful note of the emotions that Clara is feeling. She is delighted by the gift that Drosselmeyer gives her, overwhelmed at this magical land that she didn’t know existed, enchanted by the prince who so bravely battled the Mouse King, etc. Write down a list of these different emotions. Now, think of the different instances in the ballet where you have to convey these emotions through choreography.

If you can immerse yourself completely in the role of Clara and focus on the story you are trying to convey, you shouldn’t have any awkward moments with the Prince. What I used to do is imagine the Prince to be a boy that I had a crush on. I know it sounds silly, but it works. So whether it’s Justin Bieber or Taylor Lautner, pretend like the “Prince” standing in front of you is him and feel what an honor it is to be led through the Kingdom of the Sweets by such a “superstar.” (Just don’t tell the prince that you are doing this! lol)

The other thing that can make you feel more comfortable around your partner is getting to know him a little better. If you two can become friends and have an awesome open communication that will also transfer well on stage.

Most of all, don’t be shy. Just as you should feel honored to be dancing with the Nutcracker Prince, you should feel even more honored to have been chosen to dance the role of Clara! Cherish the next two months in your “reign” as Clara and most importantly, have fun! Oh, and don’t forget to email me (nikol@balletaudition.com) to let me know how it goes!

Committed to Your Dancing,

Nikol Klein
www.balletaudition.com
www.balletstrength.com