Blog Archives

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

Back to School Ballet

The summer may be coming to an end, but you have so much to look forward to with the new school year and ballet school year starting. Before you know it, Nutcracker will be just around the corner and you will be getting ready for summer program auditions all over again.

That’s why now is the best time to work on your ballet strength and audition preparation in anticipation of the busy months to come.

Don’t let your competition get ahead of you this year. Take control of your career as a dancer!

Luckily I have everything you need to know already written out for you in my two books that you can order super easy online. (you don’t even have to wait for them to ship!)

You can find my books >>HERE<<

Also, be sure to check out Ballet Strength© in the upcoming issue of Pointe Magazine!

I’m looking forward to helping you!

Happy Dancing,
Nikol Klein

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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

Introducing Beginning Ballet Strength©

I am pleased to finally announce the release of my new program, Beginning Ballet Strength©. Now you can have all of the advantages of top professional ballet dancers and be in peak condition year round!

Beginning Ballet Strength is a strength training program geared towards helping you become the best, strongest dancer possible. In this digital eBook, you will be coached step by step through strength training exercises specifically designed by a dancer, for a dancer. Each exercise is illustrated and described to make sure your form is correct.

Benefits of Beginning Ballet Strength include:

★ Improved Balance
★ Injury Prevention
★ Stronger Jumps
★ Improved Stamina
★ Partnering Strength
★ Increased Confidence
★ Heightened Jumps
★ Better Turns
★ Tighter Core
★ Stronger/ Slimmer Appearance
★ Increased Range of Motion
★ and much, much more!
Any young dancer who is thinking about becoming a professional or any professional dancer new to strength training must read this book!
Be sure to check it out at www.balletstrength.com.
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The reproduction or use of any content found on this website is strictly prohibited by law.

Ballet Summer Program 101

If you are like the majority of young ballet dancers right now, you are getting ready to go away for a summer program soon. You worked so hard to prepare for your auditions. You even got in to the summer program of your dreams, but the preparation doesn’t end there. You want to take as much away from that summer intensive as possible and come back a new and improved dancer in the fall! So what can you do to maximize your ballet summer intensive experience?

The following are the things that the best dancers do to maximize their summer intensive progress;

1.) Listen– I know that it may sound simple, but you must listen and absorb everything that the instructors are saying. Most ballet summer intensive programs have guest teachers like Gelsey Kirkland or David Howard who are fountains of knowledge and experience. You don’t want to miss a word that they are saying as one small correction could make a world of a difference in your dancing!

2.) Write it Down– I talk about the “dance journal” a lot in my previous posts and in my book, but I can’t stress enough just how important it is for you to write down all of your corrections. This is something that I did in my professional career as well as when I was a student. Years later you can look back at all of your corrections and see how much progress you have made.

3.) Focus– Let’s face it, your parents are paying all of this money for you to go away to a summer intensive for you to dance. They are not paying for you to go goof around or worse yet, get in trouble. Share experiences, have fun, and make friends with the fellow dancers but don’t let it get in the way of your education. Remember, you are there to dance!

4.) Embrace Change– Sometimes we go to a summer program and find that it’s not the perfect fit and we don’t like the technique or the teachers. In this case, do your best to stay positive and learn what you can from the experience. Sometimes it is beneficial to learn other styles or techniques to make you stronger in the technique that you do best. (example: classical dancer going to a Balanchine summer intensive)

Absorb everything you can from the new teachers you will be meeting and learning from this summer! Come back to your year round ballet school confident and as the best dancer that you can be. Keep these tips in mind as you head out to your ballet summer intensive!

Happy Dancing,

Nikol Klein Author/Professional Ballet Dancer/ Ballet Strength Coach

Summer Program Audition Tips

If you are like most young dancers,  you are gearing up for 2010 Summer Intensive Program Auditions. You have been taking class every day and working on the corrections that your ballet teachers are giving you. You have been putting 100% into every ballet class, but you still feel unprepared. Does this sound like you?

Here are a few simple tips to help with the success of your 2010 Summer Program Auditions;

1.) Smile- No auditioner wants to look at a dancer who doesn’t look like he/she is enjoying themselves. Don’t plaster a fake cheesy grin on, but do make sure to look pleasant. This is the time when you need to use your acting skills the most. Even if you mess up, keep that positive and confident mindset. If you can keep that attitude, your face will show it!

2.) Don’t sweat the small stuff- Be your best you. Don’t look around you and size up the competition…this will only discourage you and make you feel less confident. Instead focus on yourself and think about how well prepared you are! Again, your confidence in yourself will shine through to the auditioner!

3.) Everyone makes mistakes- Yes, it is true that no one will have a perfect audition. The difference is that the best dancers are the ones who don’t let the auditioner see the mistakes. Stay poised even if you mess up instead of frowning or making a face. The auditioner doesn’t want to watch a dancer who is hard on herself. Save that for the classroom.

4.) Make Eye Contact- Look them in the eye, I dare you to! Laugh at their jokes. It’s okay to be human and show emotion. In fact, this will make you more likeable to the teachers.

I hope that these simple tips help you go confidently into that Summer Program Audition! If you are interested in learning more in-depth tips that will get you noticed in auditions, be sure to check out my eBook, The Ballet Audition Preparation Guide. You can download it instantaneously right to your computer without having to wait to go to the book store!

Merde in your auditions!

Nikol Klein Professional Ballet Dancer/ Certified Personal Trainer & Nutritionist

P.S. You can purchase The Ballet Audition Preparation Guide HERE!

Ballet Strength-Part 1

Over the past few weeks, I have been working diligently on my new book and website for you all based on strength training for Dancers. This is uncharted territory when it comes to ballet, so I have to be sure that the timing of my launch is right. To get started, here are a few basic things that you need to know about strength training for Dancers and how it can improve your performance and extend your career.

Lets debunk the common strength training and cross training myths that you have heard from your Ballet teachers.

Myth #1: You will get bulky muscles- This statement is totally untrue. In fact, if you are doing the correct exercises, your muscles should form a more elongated look! Strength training increases lean muscle mass. If you are working with a certified professional who understands a Dancers body, you should have any problems with bulky muscles. Now not all of you can have access to trainers like myself or the New York City Ballet’s strength and conditioning team, so stay posted to my blog for valuable tips for exercises that you can do on your own!

Myth #2: Taking extra Ballet classes is the only way to improve- Now most of you know that this is not true, but there are some Ballet teachers out there who are still preaching this. Cross-training is a great way to work on your weaknesses as a dancer through strength training, Pilates, yoga, or even taking a few jazz classes!

Myth #3: Strength training causes loss of flexibility- Untrue. It actually improves range of motion of muscles and joints. It also enhances dance proprioception. This creates improved awareness of your center of gravity (think balance and turns). Any good strength training or cross-training program will also incorporate stretching towards the end of the workout.

Myth #4: Strength training is for Men- True, but it is also beneficial for Women.There are many wonderful benefits to strength training including increased range of motion, injury prevention, increased lean muscle mass, improves balance, increases and restores bone density, and enhances sports performance. Now just think of how much that can improve your dancing!

I hope that through this post, you have a better understanding of the real benefits of strength training for Ballet Dancers. Remember, your strength training program needs to be tailored towards dancers, not just any program will do. If you have any questions please contact me.

P.S. Don’t forget to check out my NEW Ballet Strength Book, Beginning Ballet Strength HERE!

Happy Dancing,

Nikol Klein Professional Ballet Dancer / Certified Personal Trainer

Ballerina or Professional Ballet Dancer?

My favorite fairy tale Ballerina

When it comes to job titles, it can get a bit tricky with Dancers.

Every once in a while I will run into someone who introduces me as a Ballerina. I immediately correct them and say you mean, “Professional Ballet Dancer.” My natural instinct is to get offended. Why do I get offended, you ask? To put it bluntly, doesn’t the word “Ballerina” sound a bit juvenile? Let me explain.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines Ballerina as a Woman who is a Ballet Dancer. The general public does not understand that Ballet Dancers can become professional like sports athletes. They also do not understand that Professional Ballet Dancers get paid. The word “Ballerina” is most often associated with a young Ballet student or the music box dancer with her hands touching the crown of her head like an ape. I don’t want to be thought of as that, do you?

In reality, Professional Ballet Dancers are not recognized for the true athleticism that they embody. Instead they are thought of as the fluff and fairy tales that we learned about in our childhood. (Let’s face it, this lifestyle is far from a fairy tale.)

This is something that isn’t going to change anytime soon, just an observation I made last week while visiting with family.

What are your thoughts?

Happy Dancing,

Nikol Klein, Professional Ballet Dancer/ Author

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