Tag Archives: ballet company

Holiday Ballet Bloopers

Ballet dancers are supposed to be perfect all the time, but the problem is we’re human…slip-ups happen from time to time. No one wants to admit they slid across stage, fell on their butt or smacked a fellow dancer in the face. So embarrassing! But every dancer has at least one of these stories to share (read about mine HERE). I hope you enjoy this collection of holiday ballet bloopers.

Nutcracker epic fail:

Epic fails complete with sound effects:

And finally…vintage bloopers!

What these clips show us is that even if the worst case happens and you fall on your butt, you get up and keep going. Wasn’t it amazing to see how quickly each of these dancers recovered? So inspiring! It gives new meaning to the phrase “keep calm and carry on.”

 

RELATED POSTS:

How to Move Past Failure

How to Make a Ballerina

Flesh and Bone: Fact or Fantasy?

If you’ve seen the opening credits for Flesh & Bone you already know they are nothing short of stunning– and they do exactly what they are supposed to: Leave you wanting more. Here it is if you haven’t yet seen it:

I’m sure I’m not the only one who tuned in for the premiere episode this past Sunday night (although I had to work a little to find it streaming since I don’t have a TV) and I’ve been following (with interest) the comments and critiques in the media this week. For anyone familiar with creator Moira Walley-Beckett’s past work–Breaking Bad–the dark, gritty element of Flesh and Bone should come as as no surprise. But the question on most peoples’ minds seems to be, “How realistic is the show? Is this what it’s really like to be a professional ballet dancer?”

Well, yes and no. Flesh and Bone‘s Ben Daniels, who plays the Artistic Director of the fictional American Ballet Company, is unpredictable, nasty, sarcastic and demanding. The other dancers struggle with drug addictions, and mild to moderate forms of Turrett’s Yes, ballet is one of the most competitive job fronts on the planet, which can lead to addictive behaviors and abusive people in positions of authority.  So it follows that yes, it’s a hard life and people are not always kind to one another. Does a television drama hyper-exaggerate? Ahem, that would be another yes.

However, I told another dance friend that as I watched the show I remembered and re-experienced that grittiness and it left me feeling a little nauseous…because it is part of that life. In fact, my dance friend and I have entertained one another on several occasions by sharing abusive ballet horror stories…you’ll just have to trust me when I say that fact is even more surreal than fiction.

Flesh and Bone hits the grittiness factor dead-on … but I had trouble with a couple of other details…the reasons I have to say no in terms of complete accuracy. For one, it’s completely unbelievable that our lead character Claire (portrayed beautifully by actress/professional ballet dancer Sarah Hay) would leave home, get hired the next day after attending a cattle-call audition and then become a prima ballerina on her first day with the company. Sorry, but anyone who’s lived the life knows it takes years to move up from the bottom… and everyone starts at the bottom unless they’ve already established themselves as solo dancers with other companies. This part of the plot made me roll my eyes, although I understand that the show needs to cover a lot of ground quickly….it’s only an hour.

My other issue, without giving too much away: The reason Claire runs away has a pretty high ick factor…

Read more opinions from other real dancers in this recent article or better yet, check out the first episode here (for free!) and decide for yourself.

I’ll be interested to hear what you think!

 

RELATED POSTS:

Bunheads 101

How to Make a Ballerina

What Ballet Life is Really Like

Top 10 Swoon-Worthy Ballet Boys

Here’s dancer/actress Sarah Hay discussing “Flesh and Bone“:

Ballet Career Highlights: The WISH official Countdown

The piece of Indigo’s ballet journey that readers witness in WISH is just a small part of a dance career. Many (although not all) dancers begin taking ballet classes when they are quite young and study for years before auditioning for a summer intensive with a professional ballet school. While this is a big step, it’s still just the beginning of the professional path. If all goes well, a dancer is accepted in a summer intensive and later becomes a permanent student. Even then a real career is still years away.

After all the years of literal blood, sweat and tears, it finally happens: a real job with a real ballet company. Then the true adventure begins. Here are a few favorite moments from my career:

World tour: Israel
I’ll be honest: Israel was not a country I would have chosen to visit on my own. My mind conjured up vague images of giant dust storms whenever I thought about it. But once we arrived the sights (unique! exotic!) and smells (fragrant! decadent!) were so different from what we found at home. And oh, yes. Let’s not forget the uniformed men with guns. Correction. Not just any guns. AK-47s. Not a sight I’d ever seen a farmers’ market before. Unnerved, we walked in the opposite direction. Moments later we were walking along Via Dolorosa, The Way of Sorrows. Here we were, in Jerusalem, walking the same path where Jesus carried the cross, our feet retracing this ancient, Biblical event. Maybe we breathed in a few stray atoms that were remnants from that time.

The next day we ate breakfast while bombs shook the windows then visited Bethlehem, rode camels and went swimming in the Dead Sea. The high saline content made it possible to float in any weird position we could dream up.

It doesn’t get more adventurous than that.

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First professional performance in New York
They say there’s nothing like your first time. That was never more true than my first professional appearance with a world-class ballet company. Pacific Northwest Ballet needed a few dancers to fill in the corps for Balanchine’s Chaconne during their New York City tour. Not only did I land a solo, this was a “hair down” ballet, which was something I’d never experienced before.

We performed with PNB a handful of times at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. I was sixteen at the time, and I have never felt more beautiful than during those few moments in the spotlight, dancing that ethereal ballet with my hair flowing down my back.

Having a tutu built from scratch to my specifications
Most ballet companies keep a list of ballets in their repertoire that they repeat year after year. While the roster of dancers may change over time, the costumes do not, which means you might have to squeeze yourself into a costume that was made for someone with a much shorter torso or a larger chest. The costume basically fits, but not exactly because it wasn’t made for you…it was made for someone else (plus who knows how many other people before you have sweated profusely in it).

There is nothing like having a costume made specifically for your body. It fits in all the right places, no bunching, pinching or sagging. Being measured for a costume fitting is magical: for a split-second you feel like a v.i.p. The very first night I performed with Miami CIty Ballet I danced in the world premiere of a ballet and was lucky enough to have a costume made for me, a stunning tutu that was a swath of luscious purples and fuchsia. Yummy.

These are just a few of my favorite moments…but there are enough for another book. Maybe one of these days…after I finish writing the rest of the Indigo Dreams Trilogy.

MORE READING:

Debunking Ballet Myths

BUNHEADS 101

A Day in the Life of a Professional Ballet Student

Debunking Ballet Myths

 

While many people admire ballet as art form, it’s also often criticized. Unhealthy body image is one of the most common complaints. But are these criticisms based on reality or myth? Let’s examine some of the most common ballet myths and see what’s real:

1. All ballet dancers are anorexic.

The average professional ballet dancer spends anywhere from five to eight hours each day dancing their butts off; imagine how slim you would be if you exercised that much! Ballet also naturally creates longer, leaner lines in the body, unlike other athletic pursuits such as running, which create bulkier muscles. Although they are slender, most dancers are health-conscious—they have to be in order to have enough energy to get through their long, active days…although their busy schedules mean they snack throughout the day as opposed to eating huge meals (it’s hard to be light on your feet with a full belly!).

2. If you want to be a professional ballet dancer you have to start taking ballet classes early, like when you are still in the womb.

Just look at ballet superstar Misty Copeland; her story will burn that myth right out of your head. Copeland didn’t begin taking ballet classes until she was thirteen, yet in 2007 she made dance history when she became the third African American female soloist (and the first in two decades) at American Ballet Theater. Another classmate of mine at the School of American Ballet didn’t begin ballet until she was twelve but later went on to dance with New York City Ballet.

3. All male ballet dancers are gay. There are certainly a lot of good-looking men in ballet but just because they put on tights doesn’t mean there aren’t some hot-blooded heterosexuals in the mix. The real-life partnership between New York City Ballet principal dancers Robert Fairchild and Tiler Peck is not just one of the most romantic love stories in ballet history (teen sweethearts, drama, breakup(s) and a happy ending when Fairchild proposed in Paris), it is one of the most prominent ballet marriages today. Other well-known ballet couples include San Francisco Ballet Principal Dancers Vanessa Zahorian and Davit Karapetyan, Boston Ballet principals Carlos Molina and Erica Cornejo and Nelson Madrigal and Lorna Feijoo, Ballet West soloists Easton Smith and Haley Henderson. Still not convinced? Rent “The Turning Point” (a classic ballet film) and watch Baryshnikov make his moves.

4. You have to be a twig if you want to be a ballet dancer. While this was true during the Balanchine era, perspectives on dancers’ bodies is changing dramatically and today’s dancers are more muscular and feminine. Take a look at the lineup of dancers from companies like LINES Ballet, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet and Ballet Black. English National Ballet Artistic Director Tamara Rojo recently made it known that she’s not interested in employing underweight ballerinas. Ballet dancers such as Kathryn Morgan, a former New York City Ballet soloist, St. Paul Ballet dancer Brittany Adams and New York City Ballet veteran Jennifer Ringer are becoming more vocal about promoting a healthy body image. If you want to delve deeper on the issue, check outStrength and Beauty,” a documentary about ballerinas’ personal accounts of dealing with issues like weight.

 

5. Ballet dancers are weak, timid girlie girls who love anything pink. If that were true, why are droves of football players signing up for ballet? Headliner Steve McLendon of the Pittsburgh Steelers says, “ballet is harder than anything else I do”. Ballet dancers are not delicate little flowers, nor is ballet easy. It’s actually enormously difficult both physically AND mentally. A dancer has to remember several ballets’ worth of choreography at any given time PLUS be strong enough to leap, turn, grande battement, and relevé for (sometimes) HOURS on end.

balletGirls

6. Pointe hurts. Stretching hurts.

It doesn’t hurt if you’re doing it right! Well, okay, pointe shoes sometimes hurt when you wear them day after day for hours at a time. But dancers build up their flexibility and foot strength over time. It’s a process where things progress slowly. Beginning pointe classes, for instance, are very brief. If things hurt, it’s time to slow down or back off and if you experience pain when you’re stretching it’s actually a clear indication that you’re pushing things too far.

7. Ballet dancers naturally dance well at parties and nightclubs. Just because someone is a ballet dancer does not mean they’ll be a hit on the dance floor at your next party. Trust me; these are two very different types of dancing. In fact, ballet is so regimented and precise that it’s difficult for ballet dancers to cut loose. It’s much more likely they’ll resemble a spastic electrocuted chicken on the dance floor.

8.All female ballet dancers are ballerinas. Typical cocktail party conversation: “Oh, I didn’t know that you were a ballerina!” Um, I’m not. I’m a ballet dancer. Only the highest-ranking female dancers in a ballet company are ranked as ballerinas. The corps and soloist dancers in the company are not ranked as ballerinas yet.

9. Since ballet terms are French all ballet dancers speak fluent French. Sadly, no ( je suis desolée). Just because ballet terms are in French does not mean that we speak French fluently, nor is there any guarantee that our pronunciation incredible…or even correct.

10. Ballet dancers are not the brightest bulbs in the pack. Refer to item number 5 above, for how much dancers have to remember (A LOT). This skill also serves dancers well in school, since more dancers are choosing take college courses in the midst of their dance careers, with the blessings of top ballet companies including American Ballet Theater and New York City Ballet (who offer scholarship money to their dancers). Boston Ballet recently teamed up with Northeastern University to offer a program to help dancers earn their degrees while they are dancing. The university’s flexible schedule accommodates dancers’ routines and the company’s scholarship fund covers up to 80% of tuition…which means there are a lot of brainiacs on pointe out there.

As you can see, most myths don’t stand up to investigation. Whether your attitude towards ballet is “love it” or “leave it”, you can now make an educated choice.