Nichelle (owner/editor) – Dance Advantage Solutions For All Stages Of Your Dance Life Fri, 12 Jan 2018 12:02:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Blossom This Summer at Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company’s Summer Intensive Sat, 06 Jan 2018 05:35:39 +0000 If you are a young dance artist, consider a summer intensive in Israel, a region rich in groundbreaking contemporary dance, and study at the International Dance Village, a place of inspiration, creation, community and peace of mind.]]>

If you are a young dancer serious about spending a summer immersed in movement with like-minded peers and stellar faculty, consider looking abroad toward Israel, a country rich in groundbreaking contemporary dance, and one of its leading companies, Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company.

Smiling Kibbutz intensive students


While most top dance companies are based in major urban areas, Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company’s heart and home is located in a kibbutz (a communal village) located in Ga’aton on the rolling hills of the historic Galilee region of northern Israel, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.  The International Dance Village is truly a unique location unlike any other in the world.  It is the life project of world-renowned choreographer Rami Be’er, the Artistic Director of Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company, widely-recognized as one of the top international contemporary dance companies. Through his vision, leadership and dedication over the years, the International Dance Village has developed into a first-class dance center, offering 10 dance studios, a performing arts center and theater, a café and restaurant, a swimming pool, a social hall and much more.  It has truly become a haven for dancers and dance students from all walks of life, from around the world. Read on and learn more about the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company’s  Summer Intensive program, and visit their website for more details.


DA: What makes Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company’s Summer Intensive special?

The Summer Intensive program hosted by Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company is one of a kind for several reasons.  But first and foremost it’s because it’s the only one taking place at an International Dance Village. This special dance place has a strong tradition of innovation in contemporary dance, as the founder, Yehudit Arnon, a Holocaust survivor, envisioned bettering the world through the creation of a strong dance community.  She founded the dance company and the International Dance Village in Kibbutz Ga’aton in Western Galilee of Israel in the early 70’s and shortly thereafter, collaborated with renowned choreographers such as Mats Ek, Ohad Naharin, Jiří Kylián, Christopher Bruce, Kei Takei, Susanne Linke, Hada Oren, and Oshra Elkayam with the purposed of keeping the contemporary dance community in Israel fresh and innovative.  Her work has been proudly sustained and continued by Rami Be’er, the Artistic Director of Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company.

In this context, 10 years ago, the Summer Intensive was born to offer young and aspiring dancers, high school and university aged dance students from all over the world, the opportunity to discover a unique and innovative dance environment, where they could express themselves and evolve as professional dancers.

We can proudly attest to the fact that alumni and past participants at our Summer Intensive have repeatedly said that they’ve gained a new family here, aside from learning a lot of impressive and advanced dance techniques from renowned teachers.  They’ve also developed a deep connection with one another, which was one of the best take away from the Kibbutz Summer Intensive. Young students get to live in the beautiful and inspiring International Dance Village along with Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company’s dancers, teachers and choreographers. They have the opportunity to learn so much from them while also seeing them perform live.  It’s like no other place you’ve seen before.


Smiling dancers at Kibbutz Dance Company's Summer Intensive

For dancers coming to study and live here; whether they’re company dancers or studying at our Summer Intensive, it’s really a dream come true and a place of inspiration, creation, community and peace of mind.


Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company - Horses in the SkyDA: Can you tell us about the audition process and what students can expect?

Coinciding with our belief and desire to offer young and aspiring dancers from around the world with a first-class dance education during their summer break, we’ve made it a point to not require dancers and dance students to audition for the Summer Intensive.  Instead, we’ve created a Summer Intensive, offering an opportunity for dancers of all levels to attend and study with us.  From beginner and intermediate level dance students to more pre-professional dance students and dancers, we offer five different group levels so that the Summer Intensive can accommodate for all students of all levels and all backgrounds from across the world.

DA: How can students best prepare themselves for an intensive summer program abroad?

There is nothing specific that students necessarily have to do in order to prepare for the Summer Intensive aside from getting themselves psyched and excited to have the time of their lives; dancing and learning from one of the world’s leading contemporary dance companies in an International Dance Village like no other in the world, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea while making lifelong friends and new connections like-minded dancers and inspirational teachers from across the world.

International Dance VillageDA: What kinds of cultural or social activities can students participate in during this Summer Intensive?

Having the opportunity to live on a kibbutz (a communal village) where the International Dance Village is situated alongside our main and second companies, is quite a special experience.  This is your chance to live in the serene, beautiful, and historic Galilee region of Israel where you’ll be able to explore the region, its historic landmarks such as the ancient city of Akko, Jerusalem, float on the water of the Dead Sea (the lowest place on earth!), and hang out with friends on the beaches of the Mediterranean Sea.  Following classes each day, we offer free time to swim and relax by our pool with friends and around the kibbutz and after dinner, we have fun and engaging social activities of all kinds.

DA: What specific advice do you have for students, so they can get the most out of their experience with world renowned faculty?

Our best suggestion is to arrive to the International Dance Village and the Summer Intensive as a ‘sponge,’ willing to listen and absorb all the new information, dance techniques, and repertoire that you’ll be learning together with fellow participants from our teachers and company dancers.  This is a truly special opportunity to be able to study firsthand with professional dancers, choreographers and international teachers with vast experience and offers a tremendous chance to improve yourself exponentially from a technical standpoint but at the same time, develop yourself as an artist while developing on a personal level from such an international dance experience.

DA: What are two or three tips you can share for dance students traveling to Israel for the first time?

Israel is truly a wonderful and unique region of the world with a plethora of history, diversity, culture, great cuisine and is also widely known as global leader in innovation and technology.  With that said, the dance scene in Israel is also world-renowned and therefore there is much to offer for dancers and dance students coming from abroad for these special summer dance workshops.  Naturally, summertime in Israel offers perfect summer weather, so prepare yourself for that as well as being immersed in an extremely welcoming community that is the International Dance Village; where dancers from all backgrounds are welcomed and are given support and guidance by our staff and faculty as they continue to develop in their careers as blossoming dancers.

Go deeper inside Kibbutz Dance Company’s 2018 Summer Intensive, learning more about the faculty, classes and how to register at


Visit the website for the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company’s 2018 Summer Intensive.


Rami Be'er at Kibbutz Summer Intensive
Artistic Director Rami Be’er, Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company



Disclosure: Dance Advantage received compensation for publishing this sponsored post.
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Costume Design for Dance, Ballet Fashion and the Tutu Fri, 23 Dec 2016 15:34:50 +0000 Love dance and fashion? Explore where these two worlds come together. Here's a start.]]>


The dance and fashion worlds often intersect. That’s because dancers like to look good on and off stage. We’ve provided costume measuring and alteration advice in the past but below our friends help you explore ballet fashion and designing for dance.

“Tutu Shimmer” by Chris Hays is licensed CC BY-ND 2.0

5 Links on Ballet Fashion and Designing for Dance

  1. 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Tutus
  2. Ballet Fashion or Fashion Ballet?
  3. Swan Lake Fashion Boards – If Odette and Odile Walked the Runway
  4. Designing for Dance: Hogan McLaughlin
  5. Dancer Turned Designer: Taylor Morgan’s Story


The first book to explore the synergy between dance and fashion, featuring a wide range of dance-fashion collaborations and inspirations. Get it on Amazon. A must for anyone interested in the performing arts, the intersection of art and design, and costume and fashion. Get it on Amazon.


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Pampered Dancer DIY Peppermint Foot Lotion Thu, 22 Dec 2016 16:56:33 +0000 For dancers suffering with rough, scaly, dry “sandpaper” feet, this DIY peppermint foot lotion makes a great gift.]]>

This DIY whipped peppermint lotion is really special for anyone suffering with rough, scaly, dry “sandpaper” feet, making it a wonderful gift for yourself or any dancer you know.

It can be used anywhere on your body and it is recommended to apply a generous amount to your feet with socks before going to sleep.

Below is the complete recipe (Also found here)


Ingredients: 1 teaspoon beeswax 2 tablespoons cocoa butter 4 tablespoons shea butter 1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil 2 tablespoons Fractionated Coconut Oil 5 drops Peppermint essential oil 5 drops Melaleuca essential oil


1. In small glass container, combine all ingredients except essential oils.
2. Place in saucepan with 1-1.5 inches of boiling water.
3. Stir ingredients until combined (around 5-10 minutes).
4. Once melted, remove from heat and let rest 3 minutes.
5. Add essential oils and stir.
6. Let mixture come to a solid. To quicken process, place in refrigerator.
7. Once solid, use an electric mixer to whip lotion.
8. Gradually come to high speed and whip for 3-4 minutes or until light and fluffy.
9. Place in a container. To use, rub on heels to help soften and soothe them.

What has been your experience with DIY lotions?
Is this something you’d like to try making at home?


Free Peppermint!

For a limited time, if you purchase a 15ml bottle of Melaleuca (retail $25) plus shipping, I’ll send you a 15ml bottle of Peppermint (retail $27) for FREE.

Simply send $30 when you click on this link PayPal.Me/DanceAdvantage.


Interested in other ways dancers can use essential oils?

Essential Oils for Dancers
Sign up for Essential Oils for Dancers. I’ll send you tips and recipes and we’ll learn together!


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10 Holiday Gifts for Dancers Tue, 22 Nov 2016 08:55:40 +0000 Not sure what to buy the dancer on your holiday shopping list this year? Here are some gift ideas that any dancer would love.]]>

Gifts for dancersThere’s a little something for everyone and something at every price level in our 2016 dancer wishlist. Fashionable dancewear and jewelry, holiday ornaments, must-have performance or competition gear, footwear, and more!

We hope this list is perfect for the dancer in your life (or for you) this holiday season.

Happy dance shopping!


1. Love Dance Bracelet – under $10

(assorted colors)


2. Best Dance Teacher Ornament – under $10

Truly adorable!


3. HairpinPal – under $15

Um. Where has this been all my life?



4. Three Massage Therapy Balls – under $20

Perfect for reducing Plantar Fasciitis pain or for myofascial release and tired-dancer massage.


5. Love Dance Leggings – under $25

Let ’em know wherever you go!


6. Freegrace Hanging Hair/Makeup Bag – under $25

This holds it all and is ready to hang out right where you need it.

Freegrace Toiletry Bag


7. Apolla Dance Shocks – under $30

More than just socks, these support and provide traction.


8. Feet Pampering Kit – under $40

(under $30 for wholesale customers

Doterra Feet Pampering Kit


9. Block Warmup Booties – under $45

For cozy toesies in the studio or at home.


10. Closet Trolley Dance Duffle –  $175

Your entire costume wardrobe in a bag.


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Getting Started With Essential Oils For Dancers Fri, 28 Oct 2016 15:12:54 +0000 Like athletes, dancers are always exploring ways to improve performance, nutrition, exercise, and wellness in every way possible, including using essential oils as useful tools for supporting the body in natural ways.]]>

Dancers are athletes!

Regardless of whether or not you consider dance a sport, it’s hard to argue that a high level of athleticism is required of dancers in the 21st Century. The rigorous training and performance regimen of elite dancers is equivalent to that of top athletes in other fields.

Like athletes, dancers are always exploring ways to improve performance and stay healthy– optimizing nutrition, exercise, and wellness in every way possible, including applying “alternative” or more holistic solutions to many important areas of their dance lives.

This is where essential oils come in. We’ve seen these natural compounds, which are extracted from plants (or parts of plants), consistently recommended by dancers and experts in dance publications. Typically, it is suggested the dancer use them aromatically. However, oils that meet the standard of CPTG (Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade) can also be a benefit when applied to pressure points or taken internally. No matter how you use them, essential oils are a useful tool for supporting the bodies of dancers in natural ways.

I’m no longer dancing and performing at a professional or elite level. Now that I’m approaching middle age, however, I’m feeling the wear and tear of many years of teaching, jumping, and rolling around on inadequate dance floors. In addition, over the last 2 months I’ve started running. After being introduced to doTERRA essential oils by a friend, I decided to give their Athlete’s bundle and a few other products a try.

Athlete’s Kit

doTERRA Athlete's Kit

Founded in 2008 (the same year as Dance Advantage), doTerra is a company committed to providing the highest quality and purest essential oils to homes around the world. Their Athlete’s Kit is designed to support healthy athletic activity, while counteracting the taxing effects of exercise on the body and includes 5mL bottles of doTERRA Breathe, doTERRA On Guard, Lavender, Melaleuca, and Peppermint and a 120 mL tube of Deep Blue Rub in a compact, reusable zippered pouch.

Essential oils can support athletes in a few different ways: relief from achy muscles, immune support, and boosts in performance are primary goals for most athletes. Some oils may also help with relaxation or even odor-reduction for smelly gear. The Athlete’s Kit actually addresses all of these.

Deep Blue Rub

doTERRA Deep Blue Rub is a cream you apply to the body. It is similar to other products you may have used before that create a sensation of cold and warmth to soothe sore muscles. The smell may even remind you of these other products. The cream is infused with the Deep Blue essential oil blend of Wintergreen, Camphor, Peppermint, Ylang Ylang, Helichrysum, Blue Tansy, Blue Chamomile, and Osmanthus. I noticed immediately that my skin did not feel sticky or greasy after applying the Deep Blue Rub. It absorbs into the skin much like a moisturizer so a little goes a long way. Once applied, the tingling sensation intensifies and lasts for quite a while. I like using the rub before I go to bed when my muscles are sore at the end of a long day but it would be comforting after class too as long as you or your dance buddies don’t mind the distinctive wintergreen scent.

Breathe Blend

doTERRA Breathe is a blend of essential oils including Laurel Leaf, Eucalyptus Leaf, Peppermint Plant, Melaleuca Leaf, Lemon Peel, Ravensara Leaf, Cardamom Seed. My favorite way to use this blend is to put a drop or two in my hands and inhale but you can also put it on your chest, back of the neck, or bottom of the feet (those with sensitive skin may want to dilute with fractionated coconut oil) to promote that feeling of easy breathing and clear airways– especially useful this time of year!

On Guard Blend

doTERRA On Guard has a warm, spicy scent that is great when added to a diffuser to cleanse the air. You can also add it to water to clean surfaces but the blend of Wild Orange Peel, Clove Bud, Cinnamon Bark/Leaf, Eucalyptus Leaf, and Rosemary Leaf/Flower essential oils serve to protect against environmental threats.

Lavender, Melaleuca, and Peppermint Oils

These three oils are versatile and useful to have on hand.

Lavender, you may know, is used widely for its calming qualities. You can add a few drops to bathwater or linens to encourage rest and relaxation or dab a little on your temples before performances to ease nervousness or stage fright. Lavender can also be used for minor skin irritations.

Melaleuca, otherwise known as Tea Tree oil, is also handy for solving skin problems. I’ve used Melaleuca to fight acne breakouts and, because it is known for its cleansing and rejuvenating effect on the skin, some athletes use this oil to keep their feet and toenails healthy and free of infection.

Peppermint can provide a boost when your energy is low. It’s a key ingredient in one of my other favorite doTERRA oil blends, Motivate. Peppermint also works well with Lavender for a soothing massage blend or you can put a few drops in your foot bath.


The Athlete’s Kit above can be purchased when you Shop via the button below. (PS. I do not recommend purchasing doTERRA products from non-doTERRA retailers as you cannot be sure that what you’re getting is the real deal.)


I became a Wellness Advocate after seeing how other athletes and dancers are using doTERRA essential oils and after trying the products. You don’t have to be an Advocate or even a doTERRA member to get the Athlete’s Kit. It retails for $100 and it’s a simple, effective way for dancers or teachers to get started with essential oils.


Wholesale Customers can get the Athlete’s Kit product bundle above for only $75.

If you’d like to become a Wholesale Customer and get 25% off doTERRA products, there’s more information on that if you keep reading below.

Whether you buy the bundle above or not, I invite you to learn more about ways dancers and dance teachers might use essential oils in their daily lives by signing up for our Essential Oils for Dancers newsletter.


Supplementing with Essential Oils

doTERRA Daily Nutrient Pack

Daily Nutrient Pack

In addition to the Athlete’s Kit, I decided to try doTERRA’s Daily Nutrient Pack which includes Microplex VMz and xEO Mega dietary supplements. Microplex VMz provides 22 essential vitamins and minerals, including a botanical blend with greens like kale, broccoli, and spinach and a balanced blend of calcium, magnesium and other minerals. xEO Mega is an essential oil omega complex that’s formulated with a proprietary blend of Clove, Frankincense, Thyme, Cumin, Wild Orange, Peppermint, Ginger, Caraway, and German Chamomile and provides a wide range of omega-3 fatty acids from marine and plant sources. Combined, these supplements are designed to support the body’s natural functions and provide essentials nutrients.*

I’ve tried these in place of my normal multi-vitamin nearly every day for over a month, sometimes taking the full dosage and sometimes just half, and either way feel confident I am doing something good for my body by making sure I’m taking in quality nutrients that I’m not getting from my normal busy writer/teacher/mom diet. In particular, I notice that I feel my mind is less foggy on mornings that I take the xEO Mega.


doTERRA’s Mito2Max supplement provides an extra energy boost when you are tired or low-energy. For me, (again, busy writer/teacher/mom) that’s pretty much daily. I take Mito2Max, an energy and stamina complex of standardized plant extracts and metabolic cofactors, on days that I go running in the morning. I actually regret it on the days that I forget.



Deep Blue Polyphenol ComplexDeep Blue Polyphenol Complex

Deep Blue Polyphenol Complex is another supplement that can be taken daily or as needed. Like the Deep Blue Rub this formula, which includes proprietary, standardized extracts of ginger, curcumin, resveratrol, and other polyphenols is designed to help with soreness, aches, and pains. Any dancers out there who don’t have their share of these?

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.



How To Save

Everything above (the 5 essential oils, supplements, and the rub) are included in a Wholesale Starter Kit for Athletes.

Becoming a Wholesale Customer is how most people get started with essential oils. Why? Because your wholesale membership allows you to save 25% off retail prices. If you’ve ever had a Costco membership, you know how this works – join and you save every time with no obligation to buy or sell.

Wholesale is the way to go. Here’s how:

  1. Click the Get Started button below, enter your language and country and hit continue.
  2. Select “Wholesale Customer” (cannot sell doTERRA) or “Wellness Advocate” (can sell doTERRA) and then hit continue. If at any time you decide to sell the oils, you can upgrade to a Wellness Advocate account. Contact me using the form below if you’d like more info on creating an income in doTERRA.
  3. Input your contact and shipping info.
  4. Select your wholesale starter kit
  5. Enter in your payment information and then hit “Process Order Now and Continue“


Get Started


Unfortunately, the Athletes Wholesale Starter Kit is NEARLY SOLD OUT and may not be offered again by doTERRA so, if you’re thinking about getting started with this starter, don’t wait.

In fact, only the Spanish introductory literature for this starter kit is available and only while supplies last. (Don’t worry, if you enroll and need your introduction packet in English, simply contact me using the form below and I’d be happy to send you what you need. I just don’t want you to miss what is likely your last chance to enroll with a kit specifically geared to athletes). When these run out, you can still get started with any of the starter kits available.


I’m still learning about the many uses of essential oils for dance and all aspects of my life but I’m happy to have been introduced and I hope you are too!

Because this is a dance site and not an essential oils site, we won’t be covering oils or doTERRA on Dance Advantage much beyond what you see above. However, if you want to learn along with me or share what you know, please do sign up for our Essential Oils for Dancers newsletter.


If you have questions about how to get started or become a Wellness Advocate, contact me:


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5 Ballets That Will (Happily) Break Your Heart Sat, 01 Oct 2016 02:07:03 +0000 Ballet enthusiasts love a good tragedy. Here we describe five of our favorite heartbreaking love stories and why we love them.]]>

Humans love a good tragedy.

We fall for heartrending tales because watching unhappy stories actually promotes happy feelings. Negative emotions make us think and empathize, and reading or watching fictional tragedies makes our brains release oxytocin (that feel-good hormone). It’s even thought that watching sad or emotional scenes with others can cause viewers’ brains to “sync up,” prompting feelings of harmony.

All the more reason to head out to the ballet for a tug at the heart strings. Of ballet’s tragic love stories these are our favorites.


Sara Webb as Cio-Cio San in Stanton Welch’s Madame Butterfly, photo by Amitav Sardar courtesy of Houston Ballet.
Sara Webb as Cio-Cio San in Stanton Welch’s Madame Butterfly, photo by Amitav Sardar courtesy of Houston Ballet.


Madame Butterfly

Here in my city, Houston Ballet is currently performing Madame Butterfly for its 2016/17 season. Artistic director, Stanton Welch originally adapted Puccini’s opera for The Australian Ballet in 1995 and the two-act production entered Houston Ballet’s repertory in 2002, not long before he assumed leadership of the company.

Cio-Cio San, a geisha known as Madame Butterfly, was forced into her role as a female escort/entertainer following the suicide of her father which plunged her family into poverty. In the ballet, after a prologue during which Butterly dreams of her future and foreshadows her death, Act I begins with wedding preparations. Butterfly is about to marry Lieutenant Pinkerton, an American naval officer with whom she has fallen in love. She has become a Christian in order to marry this man, a decision that causes her uncle to publicly disavow her during the wedding, disturbing the family and guests and upsetting Butterfly. Pinkerton consoles her and his love is convincing but unknown to Butterly, he has a fiancé waiting for him back home in America.

Act II begins several years later. Butterly and her child, Pinkerton’s son, have become destitute as she waits for the return of her husband. Despite urging from others to annul her vows to Pinkerton and marry another, Butterfly’s hope is steadfast. She believes that Pinkerton will come back and her son, who is considered an outcast in Japan, will have a bright future in America. Pinkerton does return but he arrives with his American wife, Kate, who intends to adopt the boy. Pinkerton cannot even face Butterfly. He departs, abandoning the task of convincing Butterfly to Kate and Butterfly’s friend, Suzuki and leaving Butterfly with a broken heart. She gives up her child to Kate and, when they have gone, lifts up her father’s sword to die upon it as he did.



La Sylphide

By Fanny Schertzer (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
By Fanny Schertzer (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
La Sylphide is a ballet that premiered in 1832 at the Paris Opera. The tragic story is set in Scotland, considered a wild and exotic land at that time. Choreographer, Filippo Taglioni created the the ballet and the role of the sylph for his daughter, the famous ballerina Marie Taglioni. The version we most often see today, however, is not the original but a version created by Danish Ballet master, August Bournonville.

The story of La Sylphide is one of revenge and tragedy. James has managed to make an enemy of a witch named Madge. He’s about to get married to Effie but on the dawn of the day they are to wed, a sylphide, or winged spirit, comes into his room, kisses and wakes him, and then flits away. Later, Madge tells everyone that James doesn’t really love Effie and prophesies that she’ll instead marry Gurn (a guy who has a thing for Effie, anyway). Next time James is alone, the sylph is back at it, professing her love for him and enticing him to come with her to the forest. She dances among the guests at a party and eventually swipes the ring intended for Effie and runs off into the forest with it. James pursues, upsetting Effie.

In Act II, Madge casts a mysterious spell on a scarf. Meanwhile, the sylph, with whom James has by now fallen in love (naturally), is playing hard to get in the forest. Gurn, who has been leading the search party for James, gives up and heads home. Then, Madge turns up to tell James he can catch his sylph with her bewitched scarf. Clearly a few pleats shy of a kilt, he believes her and eventually manages to wrap up the winged spirit, only to have his heart broken when her wings fall off and she dies as a result. He falls to the forest floor as sounds of the wedding feast of Effie and Gurn reach his ears and Madge, the old witch, gloats.


IMAGE Photo by Michael Seamans - Dancers: Larissa Ponomarenko and Nelson Madrigal (Boston Ballet) - Romeo and Juliet embrace on a bed before a red backdrop. IMAGE
© Michael Seamans – Dancers: Larissa Ponomarenko and Nelson Madrigal (Boston Ballet)



Romeo and Juliet

The original ballet adaptation of Shakespeare’s famous tragedy, Romeo and Juliet, was marked by its own tragedy and drama. Prokofiev’s score was originally commissioned and completed in 1935 for a Kirov Ballet (now called Mariinsky) production. Communist regime change that led to the executions of some of the ballet’s supporters and an unwillingness to accept the non-traditional “happy ending” Prokofiev’s version introduced, halted the production. The score was then passed on to the Bolshoi Theatre and was rejected. Finally, the Kirov did produce the ballet for its 1940 season but only after bullying Prokofiev into changes that, among other things, included reinstating the tragic ending. It was deemed a success though Prokofiev was very disappointed with the production, and was later produced by The Bolshoi Theatre as well. Many versions of the ballet exist including those choreographed by John Cranko, Kenneth MacMillan, John Neumeier, Yuri Grigorovich, Peter Martins, Alexei Ratmansky, Stanton Welch and more. The score we know and love is the “Stalin-approved” version, however, Mark Morris created a ballet using Prokofiev’s original work in 2008.

The plot of this tragic love story likely needs little explanation but here’s a refresher in case you need it.




Carlotta Grisi as Giselle [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Originally performed in Paris in 1841, with choreography by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot, this ballet featured Italian ballerina Carlotta Grisi as Giselle. Wildly successful, Giselle was inspired by Victor Hugo’s Fantômes, with verse about a young Spanish girl who loves to dance and catches a chill at a ball and dies, and Heinrich Heine’s De l’Allemagne, which tells of the Wilis, young women who have died before their wedding day and rise from their graves at night to dance and force any young man who crosses their paths to dance to his death. The productions we see today are generally derived from Marius Petipas’ restaging of Giselle for the Imperial Ballet.

In the ballet, Giselle is a beautiful peasant girl who wants badly to dance but has a weak heart. A young noble, Albrecht pretends to be a farmer and woos Giselle who agrees to marry him. Hilarion, a local gamekeeper, is also in love with Giselle and is suspicious of the farmer, “Loys.”  Surprise surprise, there’s reason not to trust Albrecht for he is already engaged to Bathilde, a woman of noble birth.  When a party of nobleman (and Bathilde) come to the village, Albrecht fears he’ll be recognized but eventually the truth about him and his betrothal come out. Giselle goes mad and dies due to her weak and broken heart.

Tragic, right? Well, in Act II Hilarion weeps at Giselle’s grave but is scared away by the ghostly Wilis, a band of spirits betrayed in life by their lovers. Giselle is accepted into the clan of Wilis by their queen, Myrtha. When Albrecht comes to visit her grave, Giselle appears to him and he begs and is granted her forgiveness. Meanwhile the Wilis catch up with Hilarion and force him to dance to his death. The Wilis then go after Albrecht but, in the end, Giselle saves him. She returns to her grave to rest in peace, leaving Albrecht to mourn her.


Swan Lake

Composed by Tchaikovsky, the ever-popular Swan Lake ballet has many alternate endings and not all of them are tragic. The original ballet premiered in 1877 at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. The production was a flop, though a few critics did recognize the virtues of its score. Swan Lake was later revived by Petipa and Ivanov in 1895 for the Kirov Ballet. Their version is the inspiration for most modern interpretations and restagings of the classical ballet.

By Library of Congress - (neg. no. LC-USZ62-115331), Public Domain,
By Library of Congress – (neg. no. LC-USZ62-115331), Public Domain, via Wikimedia

The basic plot begins as Prince Siegfried is about to come of age. His mother insists that he should be wed soon but he’d prefer to marry for love (and hang out with his friends). He sets off with a group of buddies to go hunting in the woods. As day turns to dusk he reaches a beautiful lake and pursues a group of swans he finds there. Taking aim, he is shocked when, before his eyes, one of the swans turns into a beautiful woman named Odette. Enchanted by her, he discovers a curse has been cast upon Odette by the sorcerer von Rothbart. By day she’s a swan and by night she returns to human form. Just as Siegfried is about to break the curse by vowing to love Odette forever, Rothbart shows up and interferes. Later, at his birthday bash, Siegfried is introduced to a handful of princesses, each a potential bride. Rothbart in disguise shows up with Odile, a woman dressed in black who looks exactly like Odette. After the Prince dances with her, he asks for her hand, realizing too late that he’s mistaken Odile for Odette (dressed in white). The heartbroken Odette flees to the forest and Siegfried goes after her.

Siegfried’s pledge to Odile has made breaking Odette’s curse impossible. And, here’s where plot lines frequently diverge. In most versions the lovers’ mutual solution is to go jump in the lake, whereby their drownings destroy Rothbart’s powers and unite them in death. In some versions, Odette commits suicide and Siegfried quickly follows. Sometimes the lovers die and are shown ascending into an afterlife. In the original, the couple actually defeat Rothbart and live happily ever after. In Stanton Welch’s 2006 adaptation for Houston Ballet, Odette is accidentally shot by Siegfried who then drowns himself with her lifeless body in his arms. In yet another version, Siegfried and Rothbart die, leaving Odette to live on as a swan and in Rudolf Nureyev’s 1986 version, the bad guy wins!


What are your favorite ballet heartbreakers?


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Review: Music For Movement and Imaginations Volume Two by Richard Maddock Thu, 04 Aug 2016 14:30:50 +0000 Richard Maddock's second album with piano music to accompany your dance classes for children is just as beautiful, useful and expressive as his first.]]>

Dance Class Music for Ballet and Creative Movement (Children 3 and up)


In 2009, I published my first official class music review and giveaway on Dance Advantage. After receiving the album, Richard Maddock’s Music for Movement and Imaginations quickly became one of my favorites for use in my creative dance classes for children.

Today, I’m happy to share that Richard has finally released a second album created with young dancers in mind- Music for Movement and Imaginations: Volume Two.

If you are familiar with the first volume, you’ll find the same musical support for a class format that blends ballet technique with creativity in the dance studio. There are selections for loosely structured, full-body warm ups like “Skip and Freeze” followed by accompaniment for ballet fundamentals like pointe and flex, pliés, tendu, and port de bras. Several tracks for traveling steps and pieces to accompany enchainments (or combinations) are also included, followed by one of my favorite features from the first album, a series of “dance-a-story” selections for creative movement explorations or choreography.

With 37 tracks, there is more material on this album than a dancer teacher needs for a single lesson, making the music useful for continuing development of little dancers over weeks of class. But beyond being useful, it’s important to note that, like all of Richard’s piano accompaniment for dance, the music is also beautifully expressive and a pleasure to listen to. Diverse in tempo and mood, the tracks range in musical style from dreamy arpeggio to swinging jazz to strutting tango. Each one communicates with an energy that’s appropriate for the intended exercise but could easily support ideas of your own design, all while encouraging an imaginative spectrum of movement from your students.

I recommend Music for Movement and Imaginations, Volume Two to any teacher who would like to enliven and enrich their ballet classes for children. In fact, no creative dance teacher should miss adding both of these volumes to their class playlists.


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How To Make The Most Of Your Dance Classes Tue, 14 Jun 2016 19:30:22 +0000 Beneath the physical discipline of dancing, your attitude toward learning matters. Successful dancers do these six things in every class.]]>

Dance class is an investment. A lot of money, time, and energy goes into learning how to dance. The last thing you want is for any of that to go to waste by not making the most of every dance class.

You might think that the best dancers become successful by stretching longer, sweating harder, or practicing more than everyone else but that’s not the whole story. If you really want to benefit from your time training in dance, start with your mental attitude toward learning. Here’s how:


Take responsibility

Learning anything is on you, friend. Dance teachers just navigate (and occasionally cheerlead) your dance journey. It’s your job to fuel and drive the car.


Photo by Ed Schipul is licensed CC BY 2.0
tango and curves by Ed Schipul is licensed CC BY 2.0


What are some ways to do that and take responsibility for learning in dance class?

  • Arrive early
  • Come prepared
  • Practice proper dance class etiquette
  • Stay focused
  • Take and apply corrections and direction
  • Ask and listen to questions and really absorb the answers
  • Take notes
  • Think ahead
  • Spend more time on the things that need work than the things that don’t
  • Be eager to revisit the basics
  • Listen to your body and keep it in top form with cross-training or conditioning
  • Develop professional relationships with your teachers and mentors
  • Find great teachers you can trust and then actually put your faith in their methods


Make mistakes

Dance class is THE place to mess up because the stage is the last place you’ll want to. Give yourself permission to try big and fail hard in dance and in life.


Photo by Ed Schipul is licensed CC BY 2.0
Freneticore The Sacred Harp by Ed Schipul is licensed CC BY 2.0


Discover something new

Notice we didn’t say you should wait to be hit over the head with or bowled over by new information. Make each dance class a quest to learn something new– even about the same old stuff– through listening, watching, trial, or error.


Freneticore at Bayou City Arts Fest by Ed Schipul is licensed CC BY 2.0


Feel uncomfortable

Your best growth often happens outside your comfort zone. If dance class feels too easy, it’s not always about class level. Are you pushing and stretching yourself in all of the above ways? If not, maybe class seems effortless because you’re not making an effort to push beyond your limitations.


seen, because you can, dance, because you love by Ed Schipul is licensed CC BY 2.0
seen, because you can, dance, because you love by Ed Schipul is licensed CC BY 2.0


Enjoy the process

Achievement and accolades in dance are awesome but the celebration lasts a blip before you realize that when it’s over, there’s just something new to accomplish. Dance training includes periods of growth and periods of plateau. Make that process the fun part of dance class and you’re golden.


Houston Uptown Dance Company by Ed Schipul is licensed CC BY 2.0
Houston Uptown Dance Company by Ed Schipul is licensed CC BY 2.0


Give thanks

Do celebrate those accomplishments and your dancing body. Be grateful that you get to enjoy the benefits of dance and appreciate the people helping you and motivating you to get the most out of every dance class.


tendering at freneticore theater by Ed Schipul is licensed CC BY 2.0
tenderina at freneticore theater by Ed Schipul is licensed CC BY 2.0



Thanks, Ed Schipul for making your beautiful photographs of Houston dancers available via CC.

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16 Performance Habits That Guarantee A Great Show Mon, 02 May 2016 18:49:15 +0000 Backstage, every dancer must do their part to make sure a performance runs smoothly. These 16 behind-the-curtain habits should be as much a part of your routine as the choreography.]]>


In performance, mishaps sometimes just happen. The show always goes on but every dancer, crew member, and volunteer can do his or her part to make sure all goes as planned on and offstage.

The following is a list of 16 things to do behind-the-curtain to put on a fantastic show every time because, when a performance runs smoothly from an audience’s perspective, it’s a win. When a performance runs smoothly from the perspective of the people backstage, it’s a dream come true!


"Dança" by Luci Coreia is licensed CC BY 2.0 [text added]
“Dança” by Luci Coreia is licensed CC BY 2.0 [text added]

1. Check in.

Cast members typically arrive at an appointed “call time” for the show. Avoid being late and make sure you check in as directed so that the stage management team knows their cast and crew are in the building.


2. Be where you are expected to be.

Crew members should always know where to find you. Stay in the dressing room, “green room,” or lounge where you are supposed to wait to go on stage.


3. Say thank you.

While you should always show gratitude to those around you, this is more than just a common courtesy. It is customary when crew members make announcements like “10 minutes to places,” that the performers respond, “Thank you, places,” to show that you heard the announcement.


4. Wear shoes backstage.

For your safety, you should have slip-on shoes on in the backstage areas. In a place where sets are constructed and lights may break, you never know what’s on the floor.


5. Stay quiet.

In many theaters, sound from backstage or the wings travels easily to the “house,” where audience members are seated. If you need to talk, speak softly.


6. Bring something to do.

There can be a lot of waiting around during the run of a performance. You should always have something that will keep you quietly occupied before or during the show.


7. Respect others’ pre-performance rituals.

Every performer has a certain way of doing things as they prepare for a show. Some energetically jump around to stay warm, and others are quiet or meditative. Watch and be courteous, especially if your pre-show routine is different from your neighbors.


8. Keep calm.

Performers handle nervous energy and the post-performance “high” in many different ways. It’s okay to feel excited about the show or what just happened on stage but mistakes happen when those jitters get out of control. Maintain an even keel by focusing your energy or at least waiting until an appropriate time to release it. That’s what the pros do.


9. Know your show.

Hopefully by opening night you are well rehearsed but take responsibility for knowing the order and where you are supposed to be at all times. If you miss a cue or entrance because you’re not paying attention, that’s on you.


10. Look after your own body.

Dancers especially need to prepare and keep their bodies ready to perform as showtime approaches. Be sure you are properly warmed up and stay warm.


11. Be responsible for your own stuff.

Large productions may have crew members dedicated to managing props and costumes during the show. If your show is smaller scale, you may be in charge of your own stuff so always do a check or two to make sure what you need is placed and in good condition before the start of the show.


12. Stay away from other people’s stuff.

It is the job of the stage management crew to look after performers. As a performer, typically you are responsible for you and your performance alone. Other performers’ props or costumes should not be touched or moved even if you think it’s set in the wrong place. If you are positive something is misplaced, report it to the person in charge of the item.


13. Don’t bump the drapes.

Even the smallest touch can cause a curtain to move and the eyes of the audience will catch even the smallest ripple. Avoid touching the curtains, legs, cyc, and other theater drapery.


14. Stay out of sight.

When waiting just offstage in the “wings,” ensure the audience won’t see you by staying within the triangular space closest to the “leg” and border curtains. If you can see audience members, they can see you.


15. Be aware of tape marks.

Some lines and marks are placed for your safety. For example, when the front curtain closes, you don’t want to be caught in its path. Others, like the spike at center stage, are there to help orient you on stage. It’s your job to familiarize yourself with these markers.


16. Wait for the right moment.

Light from offstage can mess up the lighting onstage. For that reason, wait until it is “safe” to open doors between backstage and the wings or offstage area.


Practice responsibility backstage so that you can fully appreciate the applause onstage!
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How One Dance Studio Is Promoting Healthy Body Image Mon, 25 Apr 2016 14:30:06 +0000 All That Dance studio tells us about Love Your Body Week at their studio and how they are helping students develop a greater appreciation for their bodies while encouraging teen leadership.]]>


When it comes to the relationship we have with our bodies, a dancer’s status is often “It’s complicated.”

It is the paradox between both celebrating and fighting our bodies during the training years and beyond that motivated Seattle dance studio, All That Dance, to develop Love Your Body Week at their school.

“Managing and facilitating Love Your Body Week is by far one of the most rewarding parts of my job, and having it as a part of our studio calendar each year makes me proud to be a faculty member at All That Dance.” – All That Dance, ballet department leader, Mary Gorder.

Love Your Body Week at All That Dance


What Is Love Your Body Week?

Love Your Body Week is an annual event on the All That Dance calendar filled with class-time activities focused on fostering healthy body image in the school’s dancers.

Love Your Body Week at All That Dance was started in 2005 by Rachel Stewart after she witnessed some of her 5-year-old students comparing the sizes of their thighs. Rachel wanted to counteract the negative messages about our bodies delivered from outside sources and acknowledge the additional internal pressures that young dancers face. Rachel’s idea was received with great enthusiasm from All That Dance studio founder and director, Maygan Wurzer who has nurtured a supportive and accepting environment at her school.

Rachel and fellow instructor, Emily German, turned immediately to the studio’s student leadership to help with the event. The high school dancers in their chapter of the National Honor Society for Dance Arts (NHSDA) are in the studio’s top technique levels, maintain high GPAs at school, participate in dance-focused service work, and are very involved in the studio community. Love Your Body Week has become a big part of their mission. NHSDA members spend a Sunday afternoon preparing and decorating the studio to kick off the week and visit classes to lead activities with younger dancers as well as with their peers throughout the week.

Mary Gorder is the NHSDA Chapter Sponsor and oversees the facilitation of the event. She works to develop the Love Your Body Week curriculum each year. We were so inspired by Love Your Body Week, its mission and implementation, that we asked Mary some questions with hope that it will inspire you, too!


Dance Advantage: For over 10 years this program has been a part of the culture at All That Dance. When does the positive impact of LYBW became crystal clear for you?

Mary Gorder: I think what shows Love Your Body Week’s impact the most is how much of a normal part of our school year the event has become. The dancers who are now in charge of facilitating LYBW activities first experienced it when they were six or seven years old, and they do not remember a time before LYBW. When I announce in class that LYBW is coming up, the response is just as enthusiastic as when I tell dancers that we are starting choreography for a performance.

One of my favorite things to overhear in the hallways or lobby between classes are the moments in which dancers remind each other of LYBW’s message throughout the year. Numerous times I have heard a dancer start to speak poorly about him/herself, only to be met with a chorus of peers shouting “LOVE YOUR BODY!”. This is not to say that we can prevent our students from ever experiencing feelings of self doubt or of a negative body image. But it is our hope that by creating an environment that encourages self acceptance, we can help them to have the strength to overcome such negativity. As a studio community we value support over competition, and Love Your Body Week is one facet of that mission.

LYBW allows for impactful movement experiences as well. For example, every year I use the same improvisation exercise in all of the teen lyrical levels I teach. I ask dancers to start with some journaling about a body part they love, then about one they don’t. Next, they watch each other improvise first using their favorite part as an initiation point, then their least favorite, then both. I am struck every year by how much power this seemingly simple exercise holds, especially for our most advanced teens who have danced the same exercise a number of times over the years. In each dancer I see such courage, intention, and passion. The fact that these students are brave enough to dance so fearlessly and with so much heart is overwhelming to me each and every time. I am so proud to teach at a studio that has created a safe space for these young artists to move, explore, and express, and this exercise always exemplifies and reinforces that for me.



DA: Tell us a bit more about NHSDA, which is a program of the National Dance Education Organization, and what that’s brought to your studio culture.

MG: Our NHSDA chapter is made up of our higher-level teen students, mostly Juniors and Seniors in high school. Our goal is to use NHSDA to promote community, leadership, scholarship, and service among our students. Aside from LYBW, NHSDA hosts events for younger dancers (a sleepover and “parents’ night out”), and teach classes to children staying at our local Ronald McDonald house while in treatment for serious illnesses. They also attend performances as a group, and read and write about dance. They produce a concert of student choreography each winter, and create collaborative group choreography for our studio-wide shows in the spring.

NDEO’s support has been integral in the development of our teen programming this these past few years. Having an NHSDA chapter has allowed us to create exciting opportunities for our most advanced dancers, who are looking to commit time and energy to dance outside of their classes and rehearsals. We love that it gives these dancers a chance to build closer relationships with their peers, which in turn helps to strengthen our community as a whole. It creates greater investment from our oldest dancers, as well as great modeling for the younger ones. Teens serve as such powerful role models within the context of our studio, and the opportunity to connect them directly with little ones is incredibly influential across our whole community. We hear from young dancers not only that they want to someday dance with our company, but also that they want to be NHSDA members to help carry on the LYBW tradition.



DA: What does a typical Love Your Body Week at the studio usually looks like? 

MG: Most of these activities happen during class time, with the exception of the prep work that NHSDA members do before the week begins. We offer a variety of different jumping-off points for conversation in classes based on age and dance genre (picture books for our pre-school dancers, photos, videos, and readings for pre-teens and teens). For our older dancers who experience a number of conversations over the course of the week, we also incorporate movement exercises, both choreographic and improvisational, to create a well-rounded experience. Our goal is for dancers who take multiple weekly classes to examine the concept of body image through a variety of different lenses.

NHSDA members visit classes over the course of the week to lead LYBW activities. There are generally about 20 members in a given year, and they facilitate conversations in pairs or trios. NHSDA members visited over 100 classes over the course of the week this year, so it is certainly a substantial time commitment for those dancers. We are intentional about taking time to fully prepare NHSDA dancers l to help them feel confident and prepared, as well as offering them resources and support throughout the week.

Here is an example track of LYBW class activities for an advanced dancer:

  • Jazz – Video and discussion of dancers as athletes.
  • Modern – Choreographic task inspired by a word each dancer chooses to describe his/her body.
  • Ballet – Photo timeline of the evolution of the “ideal ballet body”, discussion of how these ideals (for both male and female dancers) have changed over the course of history.
  • Tap – Discussion of body positivity from the perspective of thankfulness. Dancers write thank you notes to their bodies to post on the mirror.
  • Lyrical – Dancers choose a favorite body part and a least favorite body part, then improvise movement initiating with each of those parts.



DA: Do you incorporate wellness/nutritional education?

MG: In general, we do not incorporate much from a nutrition standpoint, as we are not experts in the field and do not want to inadvertently offer potentially damaging advice. In general the conversations will touch on the importance of eating well to keep active bodies fueled, but nothing more specific than that. We are lucky enough to have Rachel Stewart, who also works with children and teens as a counselor, as a part of our LYBW program.  She offers an info session at the end of each LYBW so that parents and teens can access clinical resources.


DA: Has the event grown beyond All That Dance?

MG: A number of other studios across the country have contacted me for more information, and many have instituted similar programs at their studios. I am happy to share our curriculum with anyone who is interested! I love having the opportunity to share our materials, and to discuss ways of implementing similar programming in the context of other studios. The best way to contact me is via email:


DA: What resources or sources you can suggest to studios interested in helping students love their bodies?

MG: The National Eating Disorder Association has a website with tons of fantastic links and resources. We have also had great success searching for inspiring quotes and articles on Pinterest. Dance Magazine and Dance Teacher Magazine have published wonderful articles about body image, building confidence, and using studio mirrors as helpful tools that can be found on their respective websites. There are of course several fantastic articles on Dance Advantage, too!

Here are the books that we have used successfully in our classes for young children:


Through Love Your Body Week, All That Dance students are learning to be kind to one another and kind to themselves, as well as developing an appreciation for their bodies. They will take these lessons into college and adulthood, making time spent in the dance studio about even more than technical proficiency, discipline, and work ethic. What an amazing gift!


How do you promote healthy body image at your studio?



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Combining Barre & Burlesque: An Interview With CABARRET’s Creatrix Sun, 17 Apr 2016 14:30:04 +0000 CABARRET combines ballet barre with a fitness twist and burlesque dance in one workout. Learn about the program's creatrix, Nicole LaBonde and the online teacher training program.]]>

One of the coolest things (for me) about writing about dance online has been making connections with other people within the dance community. The long-standing online kinships developed in the early years of site ownership move in and out of radius like in-person friendships and have been just as “real life,” or real in my life.

NicoleLaBondeNicole LaBonde was an early reader and commenter on Dance Advantage. We connected on a few levels – we were both from the state of Pennsylvania, we had experiences in and a love for theatre and musicals, and of course, dance.  I’m visiting with Nicole publicly on the site to introduce you to her and to a program she’s developed called CABARRET, a fitness workout that fuses ballet barre and burlesque dance.

When and where did you start your dance training, Nicole?

I actually started late. I was 12. I attended small studios outside of Pittsburgh and studied ballet and jazz. Later, I attended Eastern University (in Philadelphia), initially as a music major and dance minor. While I was there, they added the major. I auditioned and was accepted. Eastern was a heavily modern and ballet school.

Since we have a shared theatre background, tell me what is the most compelling part for you about working in or on a production?

I love a couple of things about production. One, working as part of a creative team– I love being surrounded by creative, inspiring people, working on the same goal. It feeds my own creativity and motivation. Two, I love being on stage– That moment is something that will never happen again. The people onstage, the people in the audience are sharing a special, intimate moment, that can’t be recreate. The power of live art!

Why did you relocate from Philadelphia to Miami?

I moved to Miami to become the Director of Dance for the Miami Childrens’ Theater. Unfortunately, soon after moving there, they went bankrupt.

For so many reasons, dancers learn to rebound and land on their feet. So, how did burlesque enter the picture?

I became interested in burlesque initially while I was still living in Philly, but never really explored it. When I moved to Miami, I was choreographing “Gypsy”. I did a lot of research about Gypsy Rose Lee, burlesque and vaudeville. I became fascinated again, and this time actually pursued it.

CABARRET FitnessYou share the story of CABARRET on your site but when did you begin to think about merging your passions for dance, burlesque, and fitness?

At the time I was pursuing burlesque, barre classes were becoming popular but, when I went to one, I found it had really nothing to do with the ballet barre. This made no sense to me, because ballerinas have been doing these exercises for hundreds of years because they work! So I decided to create my own class. I added the element of burlesque for a few reasons. The barre is not an end in and off itself, it prepares the body to dance. And, I found burlesque to be very empowering for myself. I felt good doing it, exploring new movements in my body, and allowing my body to be seen. Burlesque classes are a safe space for women to explore their relationships with their bodies.


What are the principles of CABARRET and who benefits from classes?

The principles of CABARRET are based in the principles of ballet and Pilates – posture, alignment, core strength as the foundation of movement. Strength and stretch are two sides of the same coin  –  our muscles need them both. A workout done with the full engagement of the mind AND body is the most effective workout.  I also want participants to celebrate their bodies as they work to make changes. I have mainly female students, age 30-50. [Learn more about CABARRET.]

Of what does a typical CABARRET class consist?

Approximately 25 minutes of barre, based on the ballet barre, but with a fitness twist. Approximately 25 minutes of a burlesque inspired cardio dance. Approximately 10 minutes of stretching and gratitude.



You are offering CABARRET teacher training. Explain who is the right fit for this training and how does one participate?

Anyone who teaches dance or a group fitness class would be a good fit! Dance teachers in particular have a good start, as the barre section is based on the traditional ballet barre.

I’ll be holding a live training in Miami in June (dates TBA) and likely in Cleveland in August (dates TBA). But, the training is also available online. It’s about 12 lessons long, including a full class experience and lectures of me. To get their certification, trainees must complete a written and a video test.

In October you were diagnosed with Stage 4 Hodgkin’s lymphoma (recently rescinded to Stage 3B). This news, of course, would be a major setback for anyone but tell me how it has affected, in particular, your relationship with your body and your work.

I was really angry with my body. I felt like it betrayed me. I was eating well, getting exercise, doing all the things you are “supposed to do”, and still got cancer. I’m still working through those feelings, as well as accepting that I wasn’t really doing all I could for myself. I definitely pushed way too hard, and did not get enough rest. This is something I’m struggling with even still, as I feel committed to see my classes through to the end of the semester or recital, etc. But it has given me a different vision for my future. One that depends less upon teaching physical classes, and more work online, on short-term productions and in an academic setting.

Yes, you are currently pursuing your masters as well. Tell us a little about that decision.

I found that I need some less physical career options in my life. With the cancer diagnosis, it is difficult to maintain a full teaching schedule so I decided to get my masters to open up academic opportunities.

Where are you in your treatment right now and how has starting the The Dancer With Cancer community on Facebook been helpful in these months since your diagnosis?

If everything goes on schedule, I should be finished with chemo treatments on May 3rd. The Dancer with Cancer has helped me in several ways. It makes my life easier, because I can put up a status, and not have to repeat myself and my story 100 times to all the people who want an update.

But I’ve also seen how very few resources there are for adults with cancer, and for dancers in particular. So, I’m currently working on creating a 501c3 that will support dancers with chronic illness and/or large medical expenses. The foundation will make small grants, that the dancer can use in anyway s/he sees fit. I’ve learned that every little bit helps!

One of your recent blog posts about the concept of giving 100% and particularly how it affects women resonated with me because, like you, I ran head-first into a time in my life that rendered that whole notion of giving 100% to everything glaringly impossible. I think all women have or will experience this awakening at one time or another and its often a harsh one. Now that, I assume, you simply must choose where/how to spend your energy, what have you learned or what advice can you give others about prioritizing?

So true, and earth-shattering when you meet that moment. I’ve gotten really real about what gives energy back to me. If I’m expending energy on it, it needs to give back. Also, what I need to be doing is bringing the future into the present. If what I’m doing isn’t helping my vision of my future get closer, I shouldn’t be doing it.

If there’s one thing you’d like to say/share with women, perhaps creative women in particular, about their body or wellness what would it be?

Listen to yourself. And then speak up for yourself. You have to be your own advocate in this world. Our bodies are smarter than we give them credit for. It took me 8 months to get to the right doctor. I just kept going back to my PCP and saying “something’s not right”, until we figured it out.


Because every little bit does help, please donate to help Nicole with medical expenses. This fundraiser ends very soon!



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Tips To Improve Your Split Leaps Mon, 29 Feb 2016 15:30:09 +0000 What better day to work on improving your "split leaps" than Leap Day? Here are 10 tips to help dancers soar every day of the year.]]>

Happy Leap Day!

IMAGE Dancer Ashley Whitehead leaping on the docks of Coal Harbour, Vancouver, B.C. on a sunny day. IMAGE
©Photo courtesy Jim Markland Rowbotham | Dancer: Ashley Whitehead, Coal Harbour, Vancouver, B.C.


There’s no better day of the year (or at least every fourth year) to work on improving your “split leaps,” like grand jeté and saut de chat. So prepare to propel yourself to new heights with these 10 essential pointers:


Build momentum in your preparation. Your preparatory steps (like a run, glissade, or chassé) should be light and lifted.

Take flight with a strong push from plié. Heel, ball, toe is super important for power and for and a pretty pointe.

Split quick and and split hard. Timing is everything in a good leap, the legs should shoot out at almost the same time.

Get your torso over your hips. Leaning too far forward reduces your height but leaning too far back holds you back.

Know what you want your leap to look like. Should it burst or dart or float effortlessly? You need to be able to picture what your jeté or saut de chat will look like mid-air so that you can adjust and direct your flow of energy accordingly.

Take a deep breath. Doing so at the peak of your arc can make it seem like you’re soaring.

Don’t tense up. Your arms especially should travel smoothly and softly through specific positions (usually from a classical 1st) rather than go stiff or flail around.

Stretch. If you can’t achieve a split on the ground, it’s unlikely you’ll achieve it in the air.

But don’t stretch too much. Flexibility is important but there’s more to it. You need strength and lots of control too. Good core strength and alignment is critical.

Stay lifted on the landing. Avoid collapsing on touchdown. All together now… core and alignment!


Switch it up

Ok, so what about switch leaps? The same tips apply really but here are a few more specific to a jeté that changes legs mid-air:

Focus more on the “second” split. The first leg is thrown relatively low (especially when you’re first learning) – the second split is the one with all the power.

It’s all in the timing. Your working leg has to move fast to get from the front to back. Practice the switch with a just hop first. When you’ve got the timing add the battement of the second leg. Remember, when the leg is extended front, your second leg is still under you and you’re in the air, as the leg switches the hopping leg thrusts up, hitting the split at the same time as the initiating leg.


We hope these tips will help you soar every day of the year! Do you have more leaping advice?

Share it in the comments!


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Picking The Perfect Summer Dance Program Thu, 04 Feb 2016 15:30:26 +0000 Students from Houston Ballet Academy and the school's director, Shelly Power share tips and advice on picking a summer dance intensive that's the perfect fit.]]>

When you don’t have much experience outside your home studio, figuring out which of many summer dance programs best suits you is difficult. As a young dancer, your worst fear may be to arrive at a dance intensive only to discover that you don’t enjoy the atmosphere of the program and are going to be stuck there for several weeks of your summer.

Dancers in purple at barre
Students of Houston Ballet Academy’s 2015 Summer Intensive Program

Photo: Jamie Lagdameo | Image provided courtesy of Houston Ballet

Sixteen-year-old, Divya Rea from Wheaton, Illinois and Noah Miller, 17 years old, from Lake Forest, California faced the same fears and decisions in their hunt for the right summer dance program. They found the Houston Ballet Academy summer intensive and now attend the school’s year-round program in Texas’s largest city.

Noah began looking out of state for a summer dance program when he was fifteen after receiving a very direct signal that it was time.

“I was approached at YAGP (Youth America Grand Prix) and given the offer and knew that people were beginning to look at me and I needed to be seen by more people,” he says.

It was important to Noah that a program’s teachers look at each individual student and care for them. He also took into account his future, considering the types of dancers the companies usually hired.

Noah attended two, much shorter summer intensives before eventually settling on Houston Ballet’s program.

Shelly Power, Houston Ballet Academy Director (who will begin her new role as Artistic Director and CEO of Prix de Lausanne this summer), thinks students should experience a variety of summer programs.

“However,” she adds, “when they are getting close to realizing where they wish to concentrate their future training or time, they should be consistent with one program. This is usually for the older student.”

Divya has been auditioning for summer dance programs since she was 12 but didn’t feel ready to leave home for the summer until she was 13 years old.

“Not only did I feel ready to take care of myself,” she remembers, “the director of my home studio told me he thought I was ready to go.”

Divya reminds younger students that it’s okay to be nervous.

“Going anywhere new can be scary, especially far away from home. It is normal to worry about where you fit in and what might happen, but don’t let those worries override your excitement. Going to a summer dance intensive is an unforgettable experience. You will meet so many people from different places who all have the same passion for dance that you do. I remember before my first summer program, I would stay awake at night thinking about all the uncertainty in the coming weeks. But, by the end of the six weeks I had made so many new friends and I was reluctant to leave them and go back home.”


The Selection Process

Divya chose Houston Ballet’s program as the right one for her from the very beginning. To make that decision she broke the search process into steps, starting with figuring out what she was really looking for in a summer program.

Defining your goals and desires is indeed the first, perhaps most difficult step of the search process and, according to Power, much depends on the level of dedication the student has, the number of years in training, prior attendance, long-term training goals, desire to perform, one’s budget, and more.

As you narrow your choices, these goals must become more specific in order to find the best fit.

So what are the important questions students should ask?

How ready (physically and mentally) am I to commit to the length of the program?

“A lot of younger students have never been away from home for 5 or 6 weeks. Many students are not used to dancing 6 days a week all day long,” says Power. “Coping mechanisms are important when deciding on a summer intensive. Students must be prepared to deal with competition, homesickness, time management, good healthy sleep habits, and injury prevention with maturity and an ability to communicate when one or all of these arrives.”

Houston Ballet offers a three week course in the summer for level 5’s to ease the adjustment for younger students. They also have several resources available to support students, including a nutritionist, athletic/artistic trainers, psychologist, and trained chaperones.

How well have I researched the school and/or company where I plan to spend my summer?

To help summer program students immediately get to know Houston Ballet, they begin with a performance from the company, followed by a performance by the second company, Houston Ballet II. But long before you arrive you should thoroughly research all of or your choices via the web and other resources.

“Students should know something about the company (if the school is attached to a company), the rep of the company, and the teachers of the school,” explains Power, “and ask themselves ‘why are they choosing this school?’”

What is my end goal?

This is the time to have conversations with your home school director in order to “see” yourself more clearly and more clearly define your goals.

Power says to ask yourself these key questions:

  • Am I interested in a year round program in the future with this school I am choosing? Is that important to me?
  • Am I interested in performing and does the program offer a performance opportunity?
  • Do I want a lengthy program where I will see the most change in my technique?
  • Is the training in line with what I am looking for?
  • Will I get a variety of training such as pas de deux, variations, pointe class, strengthening, modern, contemporary?


Claudio Munoz teaches Houston Ballet Summer Intensive students
Houston Ballet II Ballet Master, Claudio Munoz instructing Houston Ballet Academy students during the 2015 Houston Ballet Summer Intensive Program. (Noah is on the far left.)

Photo: Jamie Lagdameo | Image provided courtesy of Houston Ballet

Don’t Make The Decision Alone

Noah Miller and Divya Rea
Headshots of Noah Miller (Photographer: unknown) and Divya Rea (Photographer: Jamie Lagdameo) | Images provided courtesy of Houston Ballet

After Divya and Noah decided what they wanted from a program they researched programs online, talked to their teachers, and talked to students who attended those programs.

“The director of my home studio was the first person to tell me it was time to audition for summer programs,” Divya explains. “He gave me suggestions of which auditions to take and which programs would help me the most. I knew many people from my home studio who had gone to Houston Ballet’s summer program, and they always returned stronger and more artistic.”

Noah, too, turned to his teachers and found their knowledge helpful.

“They gave me really good tips on multiple intensives. Throughout the years they have had many of their students go to many programs, so they know a lot about some intensives.”

Your family’s thoughts must be taken into consideration as well.

“The biggest concern for my family is the cost,” says Noah, “and while I was younger, how far away it was from home, and how long the intensive was.”

Budgeting, according to Shelly Power, is always a concern for students and their families. She advises that students consider, but not base their decisions solely, on scholarships.

“The student should consider where they want to train first and then decide, if possible, on the offers any schools might make,” she explains.

Tip: If you are offered a scholarship, respectfully respond on or before the deadlines to improve a school’s ability to manage enrollment, housing, and wait-lists.


Safety was a concern for Divya’s parents.

“They wanted a program that was well chaperoned. I wanted a program that had world-class training, the potential to attend the year-round program, and an intense dance schedule.”

Most company schools, in addition to providing excellent technical and artistic training and giving students first hand experiences with repertoire that reflects what the company performs, also offer city living. This may be a new experience for many students, therefore, it is natural for students and their parents to want it to be a positive one.

Power suggests learning about the city which is home to the intensive you are considering and to ask yourself how you will handle living there.

“Experiencing how the summer is handled and prepared will give the student an idea of what the year round program will be like,” she reminds.

Your family knows you well and can help you compare programs to find the right one.

“I spent a lot of time looking at sample schedules and thinking about the class offerings,” she says. “I had countless papers with the pros and cons of each of my options. Once I saw it all in writing, my choice was easy.”

Tip: Divya’s father made a spreadsheet to make her search easier. You can try this to keep track of relevant information and deadlines about the summer intensive programs you are interested in, too. (This spreadsheet of 2015 intensives from BalletScoop is a great example.)


Houston Ballet II Ballet Mistress, Sabrina Lenzi instructing Divya during the 2015 Houston Ballet Summer Intensive Program. Photo: Jamie Lagdameo | Image provided courtesy of Houston Ballet
Houston Ballet II Ballet Mistress, Sabrina Lenzi instructing Divya during the 2015 Houston Ballet Summer Intensive Program.

Photo: Jamie Lagdameo |
Image provided courtesy of Houston Ballet

Narrowing It Down

If you are struggling to decide between programs, Noah suggests focusing on your goals.

“Choose the one you know you would get the most out of, whether that be the training, or potential job offers,” he says.

On this point, even program staff can be of help to you during your hunt for the right program. Power says she would love to hear more potential attendees ask program staff or administration, “What do I need to do personally to get the most out of the program?”

Divya adds that you should also trust your instincts in the decision process.

“Think back to the style of the audition class and ask yourself which program will make you most excited for the summer and give you a reason to wake up every morning and go to class.”

She remembers loving the Houston Ballet intensive audition class she attended in Chicago. Houston Ballet sends teachers that will be teaching in the summer on audition tour and administrative staff are available for questions on the audition site. In this way, the audition process can provide many clues about what to expect from the program.

The kind or amount of attention you may receive at the audition does not necessarily provide clues about the program’s interest in you, however. Power warns,“The audition is always a fast paced process and students are better served if they don’t make assumptions.”

Tip: During the audition process, keep the lines of communication open. Schools are often willing to communicate and find solutions if there are concerns about overlapping deadlines or program dates.


The Choice Is Made

Once you’ve reached a decision, there’s still work and preparation to do! If you’ve accepted an offer, stand by your commitment and be sure to read carefully and follow the school’s policies before and during attendance.

In addition to coping skills, Power says that successful intensive students are also physically prepared before coming to the summer program as well as interested in improving their technique. They also keep that perspective throughout, always asking themselves what they need to do to get the most out of the program.

Upon making her decision, Divya felt glad to know that a fellow dance classmate would also be attending and was excited about the myriad of classes on the Houston Ballet Academy’s schedule as well as the intensity of the workload.

“I felt that my dancing could grow the most in Houston’s program,” she recalls. “It’s four years later and Houston Ballet Academy is still the program for me.”


Male dancers at Houston Ballet's Summer Intensive
Students of Houston Ballet Academy’s 2015 Summer Intensive Program

Photo: Jamie Lagdameo | Image provided courtesy of Houston Ballet


Noah appreciates that the Houston Ballet summer intensive’s class offerings are well-rounded.

“We get a curriculum of ballet, modern, jazz, character, body conditioning, and even pantomime,” he says. “Stuff I haven’t seen people do in any other intensive.”

Houston Ballet Academy’s six-week program also provides performance opportunities, events that allows students to get to know the city of Houston, and a great dormitory setting. Lunches are available on site and there is an athletic trainer available for taping, maintenance, and support.

Divya is excited to go to class every day at Houston Ballet Academy but she realizes that one program can’t be right for everyone.

“It is a question of what you want to accomplish and who will help you get there,” she wisely states. “For a dancer, summer is a special time with minimal unwanted commitments. It’s a chance to pursue what you want to pursue without distractions. Whichever program you attend, if you make sure it is exciting and challenging, it will be a summer you never forget.”



Houston Ballet

Houston Ballet Academy has provided the highest quality ballet training to aspiring dancers since 1955. During its summer intensive program students are completely immersed in dance for three or six weeks and obtain training both enriches and complements their previous dance education. Students dance for six to eight hours a day, six days per week, learning from world-class instructors and Houston Ballet company members.

Audition Tour dates and locations can be found on Houston Ballet Academy’s Audition Tour Page.


For more upcoming summer program auditions, search the audition listings at


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What Charlotte The Spider Knows About Nurturing Champions Thu, 07 Jan 2016 15:30:31 +0000 If Charlotte can take a small, lonely, frightened little pig and turn him into a healthy, strong, confident winner, so can you. With lessons from "Charlotte's Web," dance teachers can learn how to turn their dancers into real champions, not just in competition but in life.]]>


Anyone who has ever felt a little emotional (or, outright sobbed) during a telling or re-telling of Charlotte’s Web knows it is a heart-warming yet bittersweet story about a little girl’s love of animals and also the friendship between a wise spider and a young pig. But, as Leah Singer writes, “[Charlotte’s Web] is also about words and the difference storytelling can make in people’s lives.”

This is the front cover art for the book Charlotte's Web written by E. B. White. The book cover art copyright is believed to belong to the publisher, HarperCollins, or the cover artist.
This is the front cover art for the book Charlotte’s Web written by E. B. White. The book cover art copyright is believed to belong to the publisher, HarperCollins, or the cover artist.

If you’re not familiar with E.B. White’s classic children’s story, Charlotte’s Web is about a small pig, a runt, in danger of being slaughtered because he is “very small and weak, and . . . will never amount to anything.” A young girl named Fern convinces her father to spare the pig, who she names Wilbur. Fern loves and nurtures Wilbur but his life is once again in danger when he is sold to her uncle. It is Charlotte, a barn spider, that ultimately saves Wilbur’s life. Charlotte weaves a series of words into her web–”Some pig.” “Terrific.” “Radiant.” “Humble.”–which the farmers take as signs of Wilbur’s greatness. Word spreads of this remarkable pig and he becomes too famous to kill.

Wilbur is entered into the county fair and, though [SPOILERS ahead] he does not win first prize, he wins a special award for being extraordinary. Knowing that Wilbur is now beloved by all and his life is for certain no longer in danger, Charlotte finally gives in to her own death but not before leaving her egg sac in the care of Wilbur who returns with it to the farm. There, he welcomes and befriends Charlotte’s children and future generations of spiders for years to come.

Through Charlotte, we learn a lot about coaching young dancers to greatness.


When it comes to nurturing champions, Charlotte knows:

That words matter and that the story you tell can save a life.

In the book, Charlotte makes a choice to re-write Wilbur’s story. At first she’s just tricking the minds of gullible humans on behalf of a little pig who is scared and defenseless but Charlotte does see something special in Wilbur. Maybe it’s just that he is willing to see beyond her “bloodthirsty nature” but helping Wilbur gives Charlotte’s life purpose and makes her feel good.

“…by helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that.”.

Where would an “unlikely ballerina” like Misty Copeland be without her first supporters and mentors who chose to see beyond the obstacles of her early life and the color of her skin and instead speak of Misty’s potential to rewrite what could have been her story? Not all dancers are as famous as Misty but I’d guarantee that, if asked, every single person in the dance world could give you the names of teachers whose words changed their lives.

"Barn Spider" by Dave Fletcher is licensed CC BY-ND 2.0
“Barn Spider” by Dave Fletcher is licensed CC BY-ND 2.0


That ordinary dancers become extraordinary the same way gifted ones do.


Wilbur blushed. “But I’m not terrific, Charlotte. I’m just about average for a pig.”

“You’re terrific as far as I’m concerned,” replied Charlotte, sweetly, “and that’s what counts.

Wilbur doesn’t start out as anything special. He is a common runt and even he doesn’t believe he is anything more. It takes time, hard work, and Charlotte’s steadfast belief in him but, by the end, he truly is a magnificent, “completely out of the ordinary” specimen of a pig. Wilbur can barely handle all the praise he receives.

I don’t think Charlotte foresees all that Wilbur eventually accomplishes but that doesn’t matter. She always plans her messages one word at a time. Who can truly predict which students will go on in dance, and which won’t? Who knows what the result of your influence will be? A perfectly average dance student becomes exceptional the same way a gifted student does–one step at a time.


An average dance student becomes exceptional the same way a gifted one does… one step at a time.
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That the way a student feels is as important as their skill.

Charlotte loves Wilbur but she’s not always overflowing with praise. She sees his limitations clearly. While searching for her next word, Charlotte asks Wilbur to run, and jump, and flip. He exhausts himself doing everything she asks. When he’s finished, Charlotte concludes…

“I’m not sure Wilbur’s action is exactly radiant, but it’s interesting.”

“Actually,” said Wilbur, “I feel radiant.”

“Do you?” said Charlotte, looking at him with affection. “Well, you’re a good little pig, and radiant you shall be.

Charlotte acknowledges that Wilbur is eager and willing and realizes that a pig’s natural abilities aren’t everything. Not to mention, they are completely different from her own abilities. She sees that the way Wilbur feels about himself is absolutely essential in helping him become all that he can be. Later, people take notice of the “interesting” things about Wilbur.

Your students are their own kind of dancer. They need you to guide them and challenge them even though they will eventually go their own way. Positive praise when your students show enthusiasm and effort builds their confidence but so does validating them. Show them that their feelings and thoughts–who they are on the inside–matter.


That people (and pigs) live up to their descriptions.


“When Charlotte’s web said SOME PIG, Wilbur had tried hard to look like some pig. When Charlotte’s web said TERRIFIC, Wilbur had tried to look terrific. And now that the web said RADIANT, he did everything possible to make himself glow.”


Over time Wilbur transforms into the pig that Charlotte says he is. He’s always been a sweet little pig but, according to the story’s narrator, “good food and regular hours were showing results.” Wilbur goes from a weak, lonely, uncertain runt that no one wanted to a healthy, strong, and confident pig that “any man would be proud of.”

Saying what you want to see is a concept that works for work ethic as well as pointed toes. It’s not that you need to make things up about your dancers that aren’t true. When you have a seed, you water it because you know the potential for growth is there if you do. As you work with your students, regularly sprinkle them with recognition of the growing potential you see in them.


"Piglet" by Jim Champion is licensed CC BY-SA 2.0
“Piglet” by Jim Champion is licensed CC BY-SA 2.0


That encouraging humility brings handsome results.


“Wilbur was modest; fame did not spoil him.”


The other animals worry that all the attention might go to Wilbur’s head but it doesn’t. In the back of his mind, he knows the fate he’s escaped–it haunts his dreams a little–and he knows he would not have gotten far without Charlotte. “During the day he is happy and confident” but, when faced with his biggest challenge, he still wants Charlotte with him

When they attend the county fair, Wilbur’s owner has a special crate that says “Zuckerman’s Famous Pig” in gold letters and his wife fusses to make Wilbur look good with a buttermilk bath and clean straw. They believe his fame and looks will win him the prize. But Charlotte sizes up the competition and though there’s a bigger pig, she knows exactly what Wilbur’s got that that pig doesn’t–she writes HUMBLE above Wilbur’s pen. Charlotte’s word is true and it serves Wilbur well. Everyone has something nice to say about it him.

As a mentor to your students, you can help them see their best qualities. The rest of the world tells your students that being a winner means you must be “Instafamous” or look and perform better than everyone else. But when you let dancers know with your words and actions that humility matters, they win.


Charlotte the spider shows that as a mentor, you can help students see their best qualities.
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That the work you do every day is a miracle!


Though it is remarkable that Charlotte is able to understand and weave human words into her web, Fern’s uncle fails to see it as anything special. Fern’s aunt hints at the idea that perhaps it is the spider that is extraordinary and not the pig but Charlotte’s role is soon forgotten in all the excitement over Wilbur. That’s okay by Charlotte. She cares only that her plan works and that Wilbur is saved. When Fern’s mother becomes concerned her daughter is spending too much time talking to animals, she consults the family doctor. They end up chatting about the writing in Charlotte’s web and he has this to say:

“When the words appeared, everyone said they were a miracle. But nobody pointed out that the web itself is a miracle.”

“What’s miraculous about a spider’s web?” said Mrs. Arable. “I don’t see why you say a web is a miracle – it’s just a web.”

“Ever try to spin one?” asked Dr. Dorian.


Like a spider’s web, not everyone appreciates everything that goes into teaching dancers and the “ordinary miracles” you perform every day. Your reward isn’t the point or the purpose for doing what you do but when they do come, the rare moments of recognition are all the sweeter.


"spider web" by Alan Reeves is licensed CC BY 2.0
“spider web” by Alan Reeves is licensed CC BY 2.0


That you are never too small to leave a legacy.


Though she is small, Charlotte works extra hard to do her very best on Wilbur’s behalf and Wilbur never forgets her work and sacrifice. No matter the lengths you’ve gone to support your dancers, no matter how intricate the web you’ve woven, like Charlotte, you probably fade into the background. But your students remember and, just as Wilbur carries Charlotte’s egg sac back to the farm, your students carry forward the things you’ve taught them. They spread them, share them, and often pass them to future generations.

Your students may not become famous or win in every competition but if you help them as Charlotte helped Wilbur, they become winners–ordinary dancers who succeed, who go on to live lives that are remarkable in their own way and, in the process, create your legacy as a teacher and dance educator.

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Dance Bloggers Share Their Best Of 2015 Tue, 05 Jan 2016 15:30:09 +0000 Dance writers and bloggers share their best posts of last year.]]>


Kicking off a new year at Dance Advantage isn’t always easy.

“Where to begin?”   “What’s that first post of the new year going to be about?”

In the past I’ve hosted a Top Dance Blog contest between one year’s end a new year’s beginning and enjoyed its success. The contest itself got a little too big for my time budget but my favorite part was simply being able to share and support the work of other dance writers and bloggers.

So, in that spirit, our January Dance Circle roundup (we’ll do these monthly with different topics) features the posts or articles that these writers consider their best of 2015. Go ahead and click away. I hope you find something new. We’ll be here when you get back.


10 Essentials For The Adult Beginner’s Dance Bag — The Classical Girl

Dancers love “what’s in your dance bag?” posts – we can’t help but take a peek. The Classical Girl, Terez (who is an author and a favorite guest at Dance Advantage), shares the essentials. They work for any ballet dancer, really, but adult beginners will love this and the other posts at The Classical Girl website.


What Not To Do In Ballet! End Game. — The Accidental Artist

Inspired by a video from Wayne Byar, The Accidental Artist‘s post is a pitch to dancers to be more mindful of their approach to how they work. She encourages you to put intention into the process, rather than work to the “end game” of getting the highest leg, the highest jump, the most turns, the best turnout. Getting noticed by cheating your technique is not the end game… so what is the end game?


The Dancer with Cancer — CABARRET

Nicole is a dancer, a creator, an inspiration and in this post she reveals her diagnosis and some of the things she’s learned so far in her journey and fight against cancer. She writes, “Being diagnosed with cancer has not made me suddenly wise. If anything, it has shown me how much I don’t know. Not just about the world, but about myself and my body, subjects with which I thought myself to be intimately acquainted.”


An Interview With Monica Wellington (Creator of My Ballet Journal) — Picture Books & Pirouettes

As a teacher and parent, when I’m looking for insight and recommendations for children’s literature about dance and movement, I visit Kerry’s site, Picture Books & Pirouettes. Read her interview with author/illustrator Monica Wellington to find out more about MY BALLET JOURNAL, a journal and coloring book for young dancers she created with her daughter, Lydia (a professional ballerina with NYCB). The book is a perfect keepsake for school-age dancers who want to record their dance memories throughout the year!


Bowling Dance — Maria’s Movers

As usual, the year’s best at Maria’s Movers is a great idea for your dance classes for little danccers. Turn the dance studio into a bowling alley and do a bowling dance!


Joffrey’s ‘Sylvia’ breaks from tradition, just like it used to (Review) — Art Intercepts

What do YOU know about Sylvia? Chicago dance writer, Lauren Warnecke of Art Intercepts writes, “Throughout its history, critics have felt that Sylvia‘s one redeeming value is its magnificent score, and indeed, it’s hard not to love Leo Delibes’ splendid music. John Neumeier’s version, performed last fall by the Joffrey Ballet, has so much more than that going for it. Honestly, Sylvia‘s only problem is that nobody has ever heard of it.”


All Shadows Whisper of the Sun — Setting The Barre

On a chilly February morning, Kirsten of Setting The Barre explores the connection between light and darkness and its prevalence in the ballet world.  From sweat, toil, and callus comes one of the world’s most ethereal art forms.  Featuring photos by Jenay Evans and the custom Setting The Barre leotard, designed especially for the blog by Miss Jones Dance.


{artist} challenge — Tutus&Tea

Throwing back to 2015’s ‘Artist Challenge’ that decorated Facebook, Instagram and various realms of social media, Shelby of Tutus&Tea reflects on ballet’s relevancy beyond the stage, the luxury of savoring our favorite moments performing as live artists, and the joy of shedding light on the fellow dancers that inspire us to keep aspiring for more.


Super Ballet Ads — Clara’s Coffee Break

What makes a memorable video promo for a ballet? Rachel shares her thoughts on ballet trailers at Clara’s Coffee Break



Dancers: Let’s Talk Core Control — 4dancers

4Dancers Dance Wellness Editor, Jann Dunn has written a thorough and thoroughly awesome piece on core control, otherwise known as back stabilization, that breaks it down so that students and teachers might really understand the concepts. Seriously, if you read no other article on core control in 2016, make it this one.


Improving the Dancer’s Arch: Do Foot Stretchers Really Work? — The Healthy Dancer

Dancers spend a lot of time trying to improve the arches of their feet. Using a foot stretcher seems like it would be a great idea – but do they really work and is using one a healthy way to improve a dancer’s foot? Find out at The Healthy Dancer.

At Ballet to the People the post that seemed to rile readers the most this year, to blogger, Carla Escoda’s surprise, was not her assessment of Milwaukee Ballet’s Giselle set in a Nazi concentration camp, nor her intensely personal reaction to Ai Weiwei’s political art installation on Alcatraz. It was her proposal to ditch the 32 fouettés! Read her post to find out why she wants to kiss them goodbye…


Sara Esty – A True American in Paris — A Dancer’s Days

Blogger Rhiannon Pelletier of A Dancer’s Days takes the opportunity to talk to Sara Esty, “Lise” alternate in the new Broadway hit An American in Paris, about her experience with the show, what made her transition from the world of classical ballet to the big world of Broadway, and how her training aided that change (along with a few other juicy details!).


OffDayThe Off Day Ballet Dictionary — Adult Ballerina Project

Messy classes are unavoidable, despite our best efforts. So, perhaps we should make lemonade and think of “off days” as a unique subset of ballet with its own rules and definitions. Rachel Hellwig explains further in her contribution at Adult Ballerina Project.


3 Mindset Changes You Must Adopt to Succeed in Dance — The Dance Training Project

To train the body without taking the mind into consideration will not allow a dancer to succeed. Physically, we encounter the challenges of technical plateaus, becoming over-trained, and injured, but mentally we start to doubt ourselves, our chosen path, and our ability to be great dancers, which can be even more detrimental, as before we can do something, we must first believe we can do it. These three mindsets are crucial to tapping into your true potential as a dancer. Read more at The Dance Training Project.


How to Cope with Loss – Part 1: Mourning the Untimely Death of My Future Self — The Girl With The Tree Tattoo

The Girl with the Tree Tattoo‘s best post of 2015?  The complete upheaval of her ballroom dance journey.


25. Crystallized : Contemporary — Jessica Maria MacFarlane

“Contemporary dance hitches a ride on the fame and fortune of classical ballet, while classical ballet tugs at contemporary dance for an awakening,” writes Jessica Maria MacFarlane (J.M.M.). “I’m swayed between the two, and this image of pointe-wearing improv pieces haunt me. They don’t really work together in the very strict sense. I’ll continue to eat it up nonetheless and welcome contemporary dance choreographers to classical ballet companies, but I know we must try to not just crystallize or blur the lines of both dance forms for the sake of blending. We must keep dance at the forefront with separate education and awareness on all genres of dance that interact and collaborate together…” Read more of Jessica’s musings as she writes about the past, present, and future of dance at her self-titled site.


Rules Of The Game — Enforced Arch

Enforced Arch founder, James Koroni shares the exciting news that he has been invited by Jonah Bokaer, media artist and choreographer to participate in Rules Of The Game, a multidisciplinary work featuring visuals by Daniel Arsham and music by Pharrell Williams. Learn more about the work in this recent post.


SoundsOfATaplifeSounds of a #TapLife

Whether we are willing to accept it or not, the universe works in mysterious ways. Seen or unseen, there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes of life. Over time, Anthony Lo Cascio has discovered the universe will try to teach the same lesson over and over again until one is willing to respect it, recognize it, or learn it. Sounds of a #Taplife premiered in early December in NYC and is a reflection of some of the greatest lessons Anthony has learned and a connecting of those dots. See the performance in this recently released video.



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