Blog Archives

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!

Break Bad Audition Habits

What is the worst thing that you can do in an audition?

I’m sure you ask yourself this questions each time you walk in the audition room to try out for a new ballet school or company.

If you are like most dancers, you worry yourself silly about things like what the directors are looking for, what body-type they prefer, or even what color leotard you should wear. We all worry about these things that we can’t control in the audition rather than focusing on the factors that really make the huge difference. This is what causes us to form bad habits. What we should be doing is focusing on the things that we can control. And that is just the half of it.

Luckily I have written Inside the Audition to go along with my Ballet Audition Preparation Guide techniques to tell you exactly what not to do inside the audition room! With audition season already upon us, you cannot afford to make these mistakes. They may cost you a job or spot in the company or school of your dreams.

Don’t lose out to your competitors this audition season. Download these must-have dancer guides now! Best of all, you don’t have to wait for it to be shipped, the tips are available immediately following the download.

I can’t wait to hear how much it improves your audition skills.

Happy Dancing,

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

Ballet Audition Season has Begun

Who will they pick? (photo from balletnews.com)

It is that time again…audition time! You have all worked so hard over the summer to improve your technique in hopes of getting in to the company of your dreams someday. Let me just tell you, that day is coming soon and if you have the right preparation techniques you will get hired quite easily.

Luckily I have made all of the mistakes and found the secrets to success for you. Last year I took all of these experiences and wrote a book called The Ballet Audition Preparation Guide to keep you from making some of the mistakes that I made and to help you learn from my successes as well.

I feel that there is way too much information withheld from young dancers regarding the careers of dancers. A lot of times our ballet teachers sugar-coat the lifestyle. It is not all sugarplums and tutus. My eBook The Ballet Audition Preparation Guide along with my new guide Inside the Audition will tell you everything you need to know to get what you want out of auditions and get noticed.

I can’t tell you how many dancers emailed me over the past year thanking me for sharing such valuable information with them through my preparation guides, and I am truly touched. A lot of these dancers attribute their success in getting hired by ballet companies (of course talent plays a huge role too) to my books. I am truly flattered and thankful for the kind words.

So to show my appreciation and my commitment to your success as dancers, I am offering Inside the Audition free now with the purchase of The Ballet Audition Preparation Guide. You can get your very own copy for immediate download at www.balletaudition.com.

Enjoy, and I can’t wait to hear about all of your audition success this season!

Happy Dancing,

Nikol Klein

Ballet Strength on Alex Wong’s Injury

A photo of Alex gives me great insight as to where his injury prone areas may be.

My heart was broken last night watching So You Think You Can Dance for Alex Wong, an extremely talented dancer who captured the dance world’s attention this season. I’m not an avid So You Think You Can Dance viewer, but I do catch the show about twice per month. Being that Alex was a ballet dancer and had left his position with Miami City Ballet to be on SYTYCD, there was quite a story and a passion behind his presence on the show. It kept me watching…

As a Ballet Strength and cross training coach for dancers, I immediately started to think of ways that this injury might have been prevented. Gorgeously arched feet and super tight calves like Alex’s usually mean short Achilles Tendons in my experience working one on one designing plans injury prevention plans for professional dancers. (I could go into more details about his anatomy, but I’ll spare you.)

In my spare time this morning I did my best to find out how Alex Wong “ruptured his Achilles Tendon” to further investigate how something like this could have been prevented. Had his spring nearly sprung? Is it the result of improper technique? Or did he merely land wrong? The articles that I found were quite vague in their description of the incident so I am hoping that there will be more to come in the next few days.

My next thought: was Alex in pain prior to the Achilles rupture? Did he have chronic Achilles Tendonitis, a nagging long-term injury that some dancers suffer with their entire careers? Many dancers push through injuries in order keep their status in companies thinking that the injury will heal itself and get better. Us stubborn dancers think that we can change the reality that rest is the only thing that will truly heal an injury.

In my ballet summer studies at Chautauqua I remember hearing stories about New York City Ballet Dancer Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux rupturing his Achilles, but I don’t know for a fact if he returned to dancing after the injury. I am confident that Alex will dance again.

I guess my message in this blog post is this: Dancers, be smart. Take risks, but don’t risk your career thinking that you can triumph over pain. You cannot mask injuries. Trust me, it will bite you in the behind. Not to say that I know 100% that this is the reason for Alex Wong’s injury, but I have a sneaky suspicion that it may be the case. Hopefully more details will be available to the public soon.

Happy Dancing,

Nikol Klein Professional Ballet Dancer/ Author/ Fitness Expert

Cross Training for Ballet Strength

Improve your technique by cross training.

As Summer approaches, many Dancers will embrace a much needed three or four month layoff. Some will vacation, some will continue to obsessively take class day after day. The smart Dancer Cross Trains. To continue Dancing with the intensity you had during the season is like beating a dead horse. Our bodies need time off in order to make important gains and improvements. Yes, you can actually improve by taking some time off!

Here is the Cross Training Plan that I recommend;

Right after the Performance Season is over, take at least 2 weeks off! Upon returning to class, this will give you a clear signal as to what “pains” are actual injuries and which were just symptoms of overuse. During that first class back (typically after a 2 to 6 week break) take note of certain areas and muscle groups in the body that feel weak. If you feel that you have a serious injury this is a great time to see a Doctor, get an MRI, and get it fixed in time for the season to start.

After taking note of those weak areas, consult a Ballet Strength Expert such as myself for Dance Specific exercises that you can do in the gym.  On Ballet Dancers, for example, the “turn-in” or legs in a parallel stance is usually weak. I would then recommend some basic strength training techniques involving one-leg squats and exercises on the Bosu. Dancers also tend to favor one side of the body. This is a great time to strengthen your weak side!

As far as taking class goes, I recommend no more than 3 days per week during your time off.  The other 2 days should be dedicated to your Cross Training program!

Feeling out of breath during that variation? Don’t forget about cardio. What better time than Summer to go for a run, hike, or bike ride in your favorite park. You may be surprised at how much better you feel and how much more you are able to do pain free!

How do I Cross Train? To ensure that my trouble areas stay injury free, I take class only twice per week during the off season and weight train three times per week. I also focus on keeping my core strong with lots of unique abdominal exercises. For Cardio, I do chasse’s on the treadmill, front and side!

Still confused? I have taken all of the guess work out of it with my new book, Beginning Ballet Strength©. You can get your own copy at www.balletstrength.com!

Happy Dancing,

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

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

Effects of the Recession on the Dance Community

It’s all you hear about in the news, and it has effected the Dance Community.

It is hard to stay optimistic when you hear about companies such as New York City Ballet cutting as many as 11 dancers from their rosters. If NYCB, a company who I would consider top notch, is having financial issues, imagine how the small regional Dance Companies are struggling. (link to article)

Sarcamento Ballet cancelled the rest of it’s season. (link to article)

Even worse yet, no companies are hiring for the 2009-2010 season discouraging potential professional dancers from persuing their talents.

What do you do when this happens to you? How do you survive when you are laid off and have no place to dance? I have experienced this first hand as the company that I dance for had to cancel it’s February show of Coppelia due to lack of ticket sales. Instead of complaining about something I couldn’t control, I decided that I needed to do what was in my best interest.

You can look at these periods of layoff as blessings in disguise. Come on, you know you can’t dance forever, so this is the perfect opportunity to discover your other talents. Take this time off to enroll in a college class, pass on your knowledge by teaching dance, or think about heading off to a new company.

I have taken this wonderful opportunity to continue to develop my Personal Training business. Over the two months that I have been laid off from ballet, I have been able to sign on 10 new clients, create videos, and work on my marketing campaigns.

Be proactive. Don’t let these hard economic times get you down! Develop your other interests and begin paving a path to your career transition after dance.

-Nikol Klein, ISSA CPT/SPN and Professional Ballet Dancer

Learn More at www.nikolklein.com