Thursday, January 13, 2011

Two Master Classes This Weekend

Alex Wong, from MMAC website
This Saturday, the awesome Alex Wong is teaching a contemporary master class at MMAC from 12-1:30pm for $20.

The former Miami City Ballet soloist and SYTYCD favorite has much to offer, I'm sure. It's sort of a shame these kinds of things only last one or two much to learn in so little time!

Also, Take Ueyama of Take Dance is in the middle of his Winter Master Class Series at Baryshnikov Arts Center. I did his January intensive two years ago and LOVED it. His movement is so freeing and fun, even though it's so different from my ballet base. He teaches 10am-12pm today and tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Snow Day Specials

Central Park in a storm last year
Here we are again. More snow in NYC. This storm wasn't nearly as bad as the Christmas weekend one, but it still makes the streets soggy and the muscles mopey. But a bunch of dance-related places are offering Snow Day Specials today if you're able to dig yourself out, take advantage of them!

-Pilates Reforming NY is offering reformer classes for $20.11!
I LOVE these classes, and usually they're $29/hour. So this is definitely a good deal. If you've never been there, they also offer FREE introductory classes (always, not just in the snow). Highly highly highly recommended :)

-Broadway Shows offer discounts!
"Memphis" 40% off: I have a friend who was in the orignal cast of this show and even though I've yet to see it myself, I've only heard great things. And who doesn't love a Broadway show?! The discount code ME4FANS is good for seats located within the orchestra and mezzanine of the Shubert Theatre.

"Billy Elliot" 40% off evening: If you haven't seen it yet, you really must. The kids in the show are just fantastic. Use the code BEGNA1201 on Broadway Offers or to the Imperial Theatre Box Office at 240 W. 45th St. to get 40 percent off orchestra and front mezzanine tickets.

"Mama Mia" for $64.50: Okay, it's not that cheap.'s a fun show and for a good seat, I'd take it. Use MMRES104 for orchestra and front mezzanine.

-A Good Snow Read: "Trapped" by Michael Northrop!
Trust me, it'll make you feel like your buried car is nothing. Get it now so next time you're trapped in the snow you'll know you're not alone...

I'll keep updating this list today if I hear of more deals...

Jacobs Pillow 2011 Festival Announced

Ballet du Grande Theatre de Geneve in R&J, from brochure
Summer seems oh so far away right now, but the wonderful summer dance festival at Jacobs Pillow has announced their season for 2011.

I love that they have so many international companies coming! 3e Étage: Soloists and Dancers from the Paris Opera Ballet, Carte Blanche from Norway, Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève in "Romeo & Juliet" (!!!), and some others. Plus a bunch of the major American modern masters: Trisha Brown, Mark Morris, Lar Lubovitch, and Larry Keigwin.

View their full season brochure here, and see more info about the full festival here on their website.

I haven't been to the festival in years but I really hope to get out there for some of it this summer...

Monday, January 10, 2011

Black Swan on SNL

Everyone's talking about it so I had to post it...

Jim Carey could use a little basic ballet class, haha.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Free Dance at APAP

It's that time of year again: each January the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) holds several showcase performances with companies from all over during their conference to give members a taste of dance they may be interested in presenting. What does that mean for NYC dance-goers? Free performances!

Sometimes these get packed and a little chaotic because people go in and out throughout to see their favorite groups, but it's totally worth it to see a wide spectrum of companies in intimate settings.

Over this weekend performances are being held at City Center Studios, DNA, DTW, The Ailey Citigroup Theater, Baryshnikov Arts Center, and the Joyce Soho (did I miss any?). You can just show up and pretty much guaranteed there will be something showing at any point during the day...some have schedules posted but the official programs are only available to APAP members.

But a few things worth seeing...

*Gallim Dance at DTW
Friday, January 7th at 5:30pm
This one costs a whole $5, but they are SO worth it. Loved them at Fall for Dance.

*Raw Delivery/Carrie Brown at Joyce Soho
Friday, January 7th at 5pm

*Julian Barnette at Joyce Soho
Saturday, January 8th at 11am

*Misnomer Dance Theater at Baryshnikov Arts Center
Saturday, January 8th at 3pm

*Avi Scher & Dancers at City Center
Satuday, January 8th at 10:30pm
Avi's work is great. He'll be showing the pas de deux from "DreamScapes" danced by Boston Ballet dancers Tiffany Hedman and Robert Kretz; and the pas de trois from "Mystery in the Wind."

*Francesca Harper Dance at Ailey
Saturday, January 8th at 8:45pm and 8:55pm
Sunday, January 9th at 2:15pm.
The 8:55pm showing will include a piece choreographed by Jessica Lang entitled "The Calling."

*Perceptions Dance Company
*Eryc Taylor Dance
...and many more at DNA
DNA has a schedule of programs for the weekend, posted here.

*Jody Sperling/Time Lapse Dance at City Center
Saturday, January 8th at 9:20pm

I have a crazy busy weekend already but I'm hoping to make at least a few of these. Happy dance watching!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Interview with Harry Potter World Dancer Isabel Power!

Is there anyone who hasn't secretly wished they lived in the world of Harry Potter? The streets of Hogsmeade and the halls of Hogwarts seem a lot more fun than real life...

For dancer Isabel Power, that fantasy is not so far off. The Florida native and recent Point Park University graduate performs as a Beauxbaton Dancer at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios! Awesome! Isabel and I were at Rock together way back when...and what good times we had in ballet land ;) Read on to hear some of her adventures in a different magical world!


What was the audition like for Harry Potter World? In general, how do auditions work in the theme park circuit?

The audition to be a Beauxbaton dancer in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter was a very fun experience! There were over 100 girls, and they were looking for 4 girls. (There were already 20-30 girls currently performing that had been hired before the opening.) We started with a type-out: They had us do battements to the side, a double pirouette, and 2 entrechat quatres. Then we had to say something in a French accent since during the meet and greets we must speak in the accent if we are addressed. After the type-out they did a cut. Then we were brought in in smaller groups to learn a combo, It was very flowy ballet/lyrical. After we performed that, they made a second cut. For the final portion of the audition, we were arranged in groups based on height, and performed the combo in groups of four. Being almost 5'9", I was probably the tallest one left! In regard to other auditions in seems like many theme park entertainment positions start with you being a substitute, and if you enjoy it AND they like you then you have the potential to become full-time, or contracted. One thing I can tell you for sure though is that all the auditions I've been to in Orlando have been super fun! It's all about smiling and having a good time, because that's the feeling you want to project to the guests!

What's your role there and what was your rehearsal process like?

I am a Beauxbaton girl! If you're familiar with the Harry Potter story (which you should be ;),we are students from the Beauxbaton Academy of Magic, which we learn about in the 4th book, "Goblet of Fire." It is a school located in southern France and our headmistress is Madame Maxine. For rehearsals, we had some character/acting coaching and also a workshop on speaking in our French accent. Then for 2 weeks we learned the choreography. Since our dance is less than 2 minutes, we had a lot of time to focus on details and spacing and being exactly in sync. We also use wands/ribbons all through our dance, so we spent time on the correct hand and arm movements as well.

(See the Beauxbaton dancers at 3:26 in this video. Isabel's not in this performance get the idea.)

How often do you perform, and what's the best part?

Since I am a sub, I don't have a regular schedule. I was lucky enough to perform about 5 times a month from this past October-December. I also worked Christmas and New Year's! The best part is feeling like you're actually creating magic in people's lives -- because what is magic besides joy in life, which is what we as performers should transmit to audiences.

What's it like working at a dinner theater? How does it compare to your classical/traditional training?

Another thing I know about the Orlando performing circuit is that virtually everyone has multiple jobs. I was extremely fortunate to find another one about a month after I became a Beauxbaton. My second job is as a dancer/singer at Treasure Tavern. It is a classic dinner theatre where guests can enjoy fine food which we deliver to them as part of performance numbers. I love this job because while there is a lot of choreography, there are also times when we can improv and have fun! Working there has definitely been a shift from my classical training, but this job has been a great growing experience for me and has helped me transition from student to performer. I think this because in the show we don't have to focus too much on technique or form and can really focus on being almost over the top and working it and performing the heck out of it with tons of energy and enthusiasm! So I feel it has helped me stop manufacturing movement and actually perform and have fun!

Isabel (2nd from left) dancing at Treasure Tavern.
What other kinds of dance gigs are available in Florida and what's your advice for dancers hoping to work there?

There are production companies in Orlando and Miami that produce events for conventions and private parties etc. There are also other dinner theatres in the Orlando area. Theme park-wise there is Universal Studios, Disney, SeaWorld, and Busch Gardens Tampa. My advice to dancers hoping to work here is to be very flexible and willing to take any opportunity you're offered. Also to be very versatile in that you can do all styles like ballet/jazz/tap/hip-hop/musical theatre and that you can sing and act! Acro and silk skills are also a plus! Most importantly, be smart and kind since, as they say at Disney, "It's a small world after all!"

What's been the hardest part so far of starting your dance career? The best part?

The hardest part for me was the rejection from audition after audition. I was turned down so much, and with my frustration people kept telling me that all I needed was one break. And they were right. Once you get that first job you start meeting people and networking and it just keeps rolling from there. The best part has just been the constant opportunity to perform. I'm full-time at the dinner theatre so 5 nights a week I'm getting to do what I am most passionate about. As a student I was only able to perform a few rimes a year in recitals or fall shows or spring concerts etc. But now performing is my job, and since I absolutely love it, it's nothing like a job, but, as corny as it sounds, more like a dream come true!

Any dance goals for 2011?

I want to continue taking all styles of classes on a regular basis and going to as many auditions as possible, both here and in NYC. Coming up soon I have an audition for the "Beauty and the Bast" stage production at Disney's Hollywood Studios, and as one of my goals is to be a dancer with Disney, this would be awesome. Wish me luck! ;)  (...Good luck!)

Isabel and I before a benefit at The Rock School, circa 2003-2004.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Cory Stearns Promoted to ABT Principal!

Photo by John Grigaitis, taken from Tonya's Blog
Wow! This just in: Cory Stearns from ABT has been promoted to principal!

I loved wacthing him in Romeo & Juliet when I supered, and he's really stood out in other recent works as well. And he's so young! I'm sure they had to promote someone fabulous since the wonderful Jose Carreno will retire this year :/

Congrats Cory!

From the press release:
A native of Long Island, New York, Cory Stearns began his classical training at Seiskaya Ballet with Mme. Valia Seiskaya. At 15, he participated in the Youth America Grand Prix and was offered a full scholarship to The Royal Ballet School in London. During his training, Stearns performed in Madrid, Moscow, Milan and Germany. His repertory included principal roles in Mark Annear's Mendelssohn Concerto, Kenneth MacMillan's Concerto, Kirk Peterson's Eyes That Gently Touch, Robert Hill's Piano Concerto #2 and Barry Moreland's Fearful Symmetries. In March 2004, Stearns appeared with Kylie Minogue in her music video Chocolate. Upon graduating, with honors, from The Royal Ballet School, he received, for the second year, the Dame Ruth Railton Award for excellence in dance.

Kat Wildish on The Kiner Hour

My teacher Kat Wildish was interviewed yesterday on The Kiner Hour's "Let's Talk Dance with Ashani Mfuko." She discusses her own performing and teaching career, as well as Black Swan, the Jennifer Ringer epic, and the importance of cross-training. Check it out above or here - yes, it's an hour long, but even just hearing a few minutes is inspiring.

Works & Process Livestream PNB Performance

I *love* that there are more and more opportunities nowadays to view dance events without actually being there. Between ballet companies abroad showing in local movie theaters and livestreaming online video, it's very exciting.

Works & Process at the Guggenheim will be livestreaming Pacific Northwest Ballet's program, "Giselle Revisited" this Sunday, January 9 at 7:30pm. How wonderful! I missed PNB when they were in town last year and really wanted to go to this...but I'm glad we'll get a peak! And "Giselle" is one of my favorite ballets ever, so this should be a good one.

Carrie Imler, the gorgeous Carla Körbes, James Moore, and Seth Orza will be dancing, with panelists including Peter Boal, Doug Fullington, and Marian Smith.

You can tune into the livestream Sunday here.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Clips from ABT's New Nutcracker

I was waiting to write about ABT's Nutcracker because I had hoped to see it once again (I went opening night), but that didn't happen. Hopefully this week I'll find time to say a few things (I really liked it!) but for now, here's a video I came across on Facebook that shows some clips from the show...I like that they show so much of Marzipan. Ratmansky's Marzi is something I'd *love* to dance...

Monday, January 3, 2011

Reading List

One of my sort-of-resolutions for this year is to read more. Since finishing grad school (2 years ago?! Seems longer...) I've barely had time to really sit down with a book from start to finish. Here are some things on my New Year's reading list...I'm a little off the "normal" cultural radar (okay, a lot off), but I'm looking forward to reading these...

-Margot Fonteyn's Autobiography, which I received an autographed copy of for Christmas :)
-Apollo's Angels: A History of Ballet, which has caused a stir lately
-Off Balance: The Real World of Ballet, which I heard about in a radio interview recently

I have quite the collection of old dance books going on, and a few I'm thinking of resurrecting from the dusty boxes to reread are...

-The Shape of Love by Gelsey Kirkland, which wasn't as big as her first controversial autobiography but is super interesting in analyzing certain roles
-Allegra Kent's Once a Dancer, which I nearly finished in one sitting a few summers ago
-Christopher D'Amboise's little known Leap Year: A Year in the Life of a Dancer, which I found by accident when working with him at BAE

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year 2011!

Here it is!
Hoping this year is better than 2010 - happy, healthy, and full of dance and dreams for all :)