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Which Ballet Summer Intensive to Pick

Summer intensive auditions are coming to a close and chances are, you have started to receive some of your acceptance letters in the mail. Most of you audition for tons of different summer ballet programs and will be accepted into multiple intensive programs. So how do you make an educated decision about which summer intensive to attend? Here are a few helpful hints to make sure you end up in the right place.

1.) Cost- If your family is on a budget, the cost of the summer intensive that you choose will definitely be a factor in the decision making process. Did you get a scholarship? If you received a scholarship to a particular program, this means the school has an extremely high interest in you. Choose which program makes sense for your family financially.

2.) Program Length- Three week, four week, or six week? How comfortable are you being away from home for long periods of time? I used to get homesick when I went to summer intensives at age 12 and 13, so I would choose no more than four week programs. Also, will you be missing out on your family vacation?

Photo from Chautauqua Ballet Intensive

3.) Travel- How comfortable do you feel traveling far away from home? For example; since I was from the East Coast, I was hesitant to travel far from my family to attend San Francisco Ballet School’s Summer Intensive. Travel also fits into the cost category as typically you will either need to fly or drive to the program.

4.) Style- Does the school that you choose fit with the style you currently train in? Or is it different? How will your current school director feel about this? Going to a summer intensive like School of American Ballet, for example, might mean a change in technique. If your hope is to be accepted there year round, it is definitely worth it.

5.) Preference- Sometimes the best thing to do is follow a hunch. Where do you want to go most? If money is not an option go to where your heart follows!

Which ever ballet summer intensive program you choose, make sure you go into it with an open mind. This will ensure that you make the most of any situation and remember- write down your corrections!

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. 🙂

Performance Nervousness Part 1

 

Intermission-during one of my pre-performance rituals.

 

 

Through my extensive career as a professional dancer, I have observed some pretty strange pre-performance rituals. I have seen it all, and tried it all. So what works?

The truth is, not everyone is the same. There is no magic cure for nervousness, but there are things that you can do to calm yourself in the wings.

In Part 1 of Performance Nervousness, we will take the first step. Identifying the type of nervousness you are feeling.

Here are the categories of nervousness that I have defined through my years of dancing. See which category you best fit into or have felt in the past.

Prepared Nervousness– You feel well rehearsed, excited, pumped up. Maybe your family is out in the audience. You have a positive outlook on the upcoming performance.

Unprepared Nervousness– It feels like you are going into unfamiliar territory. You are doubtful, almost fearful. Maybe you were thrown into a role last-minute or were an understudy.

Combination of both– You are prepared but doubting yourself and your abilities. Even though you feel ready to perform a role, you are worried about uncontrollable factors.

Over-Prepared– You have rehearsed perfectly every day. Maybe you have even performed this role consecutive years. You are not nervous. After the performance you may even feel let down, although your performance went well.

Competitive Nervousness– You feel pressure. If you can perform well you will get a promotion. You want to outshine other dancers. Maybe your director or teacher watches the show from the wings.

Now that you have identified the type of nervousness you are feeling or have felt, we will move on to the solution. Stay posted for Part 2 of my Performance Nervousness series! As always your comments are greatly appreciated.

Stay tuned…

Nikol Klein, Professional Ballet Dancer/ Author

How to be Nutcracker Ready

It’s our favorite time of the year…Nutcracker time! Young dancers all over the world are jumping with joy and bragging about the roles they have been cast in. Professional Dancers are sharpening their pencils in roles they have been dancing for years. What can you do to make sure you are prepared or in the pro’s cases avoid Nutcracker burnout?

Sugarplum Pas de Deux

Whether you are dancing a new role this year or repeating last years, you can use the same techniques to look beautiful and dance technically sound.

Music is a huge part of the equation. We all know the Nutcracker music all too well, but if you listen closely enough you may hear something new. Explore your musicality. If you are performing with an Orchestra, dance with the music. Listen to the music, don’t just dance on auto-pilot.

Nutcracker is a great time to work on your performance skills and stage presence. If you’ve performed this role before, approach this year with more confidence! Show the audience that you are comfortable in this role.

Improve your technique on these roles. Last year you did a double pirouette in Waltz of the Flowers…why not throw in a triple this year? This of course does not apply for the corp de ballet, but is a great way for a soloist to show off their stuff. Careful though…some artistic directors get angry if you do too much!

Stand out in the Corps de Ballet! As a kid, I always watched the corps member who smiled the most and looked like she was having the most fun. While you are dancing imagine that all eyes are on you! There are subtle ways that you can keep from blending in.

Enjoy yourself this Nutcracker season! Remember, Summer School and Company auditions are right around the corner and with auditions comes added stress.Learn more about how you can get rid of nerves with The Ballet Audition Preparation Guide.

Happy Dancing!

Nikol Klein, Professional Ballet Dancer / Certified Personal Trainer & Nutritionist

Falling off Pointe

I’m hearing a lot about retirement lately from a lot of my young dancer friends. There is a common question whispered throughout the ballet community; How do you know when to retire?

I had a conversation with an old friend of mine, Matthew, who dances with Kansas City Ballet a few weeks ago and he brought up a few valid points concerning retirement. Would you rather go out with a bang, at the height of your career? Or be caught “falling off pointe” at 40?

When he said the “falling off pointe” I completely lost it in laughter. How many of us have seen this exact thing. A dancer hanging on to her career by a thread (or toenail), all the while doing the audience a huge disservice. How does an Artistic Director go about telling this once magnificent dancer that it’s time to hang it up?

Is your company’s principal dancer holding the rest of the company back? There is a company here in Southern California that has a dancer like this, and I could name about ten other companies with the same problem. While this forty-something Principal Dancer may have artistic qualities to add to roles, she needs to channel her passion in another way…perhaps through coaching.

Although dance is an illusion, when ticket sales start to plummet, you know that your loyal ballet-goers have seen through the illusion. Does anyone even realize that Darci Kistler is still dancing, for example? (I’m not knocking Darci in any way, just stating a fact)

On the flip side of the coin, dancers are retiring a lot younger than they used to. For many, the economy has made it so that ballet companies are having to make cutbacks. This is making the job search hard for young dancers and even for dancers who are experienced. Principal and soloist caliber dancers are being turned down by companies because they can use young, inexperienced dancers for free.

I don’t really know where I’m going with this post other than asking one question;

Do you want to be caught on stage falling off pointe?

Happy Dancing,

Nikol Klein, Professional Ballet Dancer/ Certified Personal Trainer

Author of The Ballet Audition Preparation Guide

How to Prevent Ballet Injuries

Ballet injuries are common career ending catastrophes for dancers of all ages. What may seem like a small ache or pain could turn into a serious injury if you are not making the proper adjustments to your technique. There are a lot of solutions offered that just mask the pain. If you do not get to the bottom of the issue that is causing the injury, it could be a life long struggle.

The following are a list of steps you can take to ensure you are doing the right things to prevent career ending injuries.

1.) See a Doctor- I know this may seem like a no brainer, but going to a doctor is one of the most important things you can do if you are experiencing abnormal pain. If you are attending a good ballet school, they should be affiliated with a Sports Medicine department or physical therapist in your city.

2.) Rest- You’ve heard this one before too. If you are experiencing abnormal pain, you need to stop dancing until you have the issue identified by a physical therapist. I know, you’re afraid that you will lose your part to your understudy, but how would if feel if you kept dancing and tore or broke something? Do your career a favor and take a much needed rest.

3.) Therapy- Once you have seen a physical therapist and they have diagnosed the problem, you need to follow through with your treatments. Your physical therapist may have you doing some strange exercises, but if you don’t follow through with them the injury will come back.

4.) Investigate- After you are finished with physical therapy and your injury seems to have healed, start investigating your ballet technique. Are you rolling in on your ankles? Are you gripping your hips? You might even want to see a Ballet Strength & Conditioning Coach like myself to help you work on technical weaknesses based on your anatomy and body mechanics. (Keep in mind that these are things that most ballet teachers are not qualified to recommend)

Sometimes your Ballet instructors, though they have your best interest in mind, will continue to tell you to force your turnout, etc. so that your body looks aesthetically correct for ballet. While this may look good, it may be doing disastrous things for your body and your career.

Take these simple precautions to prevent long lasting injuries and never be afraid to ask questions. You can try out one of my Ballet Strength programs HERE.

Nikol Klein, Certified Personal Trainer/ Professional Ballet Dancer/ Certified Nutritionist

The Ballet Audition Preparation Guide

Are you ready to get an edge on the competition?

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Now you can with The Ballet Audition Preparation Guide! Learn the secrets that Professional Dancers use and get in to the Summer School or Company of your dreams.

As a Professional Ballet Dancer, I know that preparing for a dance audition can be a stressful task. I remember going to auditions nervous and uncertain as a young girl. I remember sizing up the competition based on silly things like what they looked like or what leotard they were wearing.

What I didn’t know was that focusing on what other people looked like and comparing myself to them wasn’t helping. It was actually setting me up for failure.

I’m sure you have done this before…compare yourself to someone else.

Through simple goal setting and confidence boosting exercises, you can rise above the competition and focus on what truly matters. Yourself.

When I was a young girl, there were no resources for Dancers who needed advice about auditioning. This is why I have put together a wonderful manual called The Ballet Audition Preparation Guide to help you through a smooth audition process.

Whether you are trying out for a Summer Dance program, a new school, or a Professional Company, these tips will help you feel confident in the audition! All types of dancers can benefit from audition preparation from Ballet all the way to Jazz, Modern and Theatre.

You can trust these tips and secrets because they have been working for successful dancers for years!

So go to balletaudition.com and download your copy of The Ballet Audition Preparation Guide to start getting noticed in auditions!

Ballet Audition Tips

Ballet Audition Blue

Hello loyal blog followers! I am pleased to announce the launch of my new website, balletaudition.com. Here you will find all of the tips and tricks that the professional dancers use to get noticed in auditions!

I am sending out exclusive secrets to getting in to that Summer program, school, or company of your dreams!

Coming in September, 2009, Balletaudition.com is also the home of The Ballet Audition Preparation Guide where you will learn how to get an edge on the competition.

Don’t miss out! Go to balletaudition.com to sign-up to receive exclusive member only information! Find out the minute The Ballet Audition Preparation Guide comes out!