Dance Advantage Solutions For All Stages Of Your Dance Life Sat, 06 Jan 2018 06:10:53 +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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Managing Money as a Dancer on Tour Sat, 09 Dec 2017 14:28:33 +0000 Touring dancers must be smart about their money. Take it from a dancer who has been on the road and be prepared. Know how you're getting paid and where the money is going so that you can have some fun along the way.]]>

When I was little, I didn’t know growing up to be rich and famous was out of the ordinary. I thought it was just something you could do.

Imagine if you told that little girl that someday, people would pay to see her dance, and she still wouldn’t be rich. Or famous.

While I’ve long since made peace with the fact that I’ll likely never be fabulously wealthy, I find my fame in standing O’s and curtain calls. Besides, nobody said that a touring dancer had to be a starving artist.

I did my best to be fiscally responsible while I was traveling, and I walked away financially sound and experientially wealthy. A little bit of planning can go a long way towards being a financially successful touring dancer.

Travel money

Employment Status

Start with finding out if you’re being paid as an employee or as an independent contractor — both are feasible in the world of performance dance. The biggest difference is the way you file your taxes.

You also need to find out what expenses you’re responsible for. Does the company provide your gear, or do you? Are you responsible for your own lodging and food, or is the company providing it? Are they giving you a per diem to use as you want for those expenses, or are they making umbrella decisions for the whole company?



If you’re an independent contractor, your “employer” doesn’t pay or extract any taxes from your salary. It means a prettier paycheck now, but if you’re not prepared come April, your tax bill can be a rude awakening. It also means you’ll likely be in charge of providing more of your own equipment, but those expenses are potential deductions.

We all like to save wherever we can. If dancing is now your primary means of income, your leotards or Latin heels may be eligible for a tax write-off.

If you’re paid as an employee, your employer will take taxes out of your salary and pay a portion of what you own the government from the business’ bank account. You’ll also be provided with workman’s compensation coverage and possibly medical coverage.



In addition to the cost of food and lodging, it’s important to find out if you have any sort of medical insurance or health care stipend included in your pay. You are about to take on a physically challenging job, and there’s a possibility you may be injured. You may also require maintenance health care during your tour stint.

For example, when I left on my second tour, I was under regular chiropractic care to rehab a shoulder injury. Under the company I was dancing with, medical care and insurance was my responsibility, so I made it a point to select travel medical insurance so that I was covered everywhere we went. If you have a recurring prescription or other regular condition, this is exceptionally important.



Just because you’re on a new adventure doesn’t mean that your tried and true money habits get to go out the window. In the absence of rent, grocery bills and other costs of living, it may seem like all your income is disposable. I promise, it’s not.

While your expenses may be significantly diminished, you will still have things to pay for on the road. Making a personal budget will help you allocate money for any responsibilities you still have back home, potential medical expenses, a looming tax payment or simply put away some money for later.

Many touring companies pay their dancers a per diem amount in addition to their salary to cover food and lodging. If this is the case, that means you need to budget your food out of your salary in addition to other expenses you may have. However, it also provides an opportunity to save money by eating inexpensively if you’re looking to put away some extra money.

Finally, make sure you’ve got some money to live it up while you’re on the road. You’ll want to budget so that you’ve got pocket money to see the sights. When I was in New York, I spent my off evenings at Broadway shows and famous restaurants and in California I visited some of the most beautiful vineyards I’ve ever seen.


Final Thoughts

The long and short of it is that smart money management doesn’t really change just because you’re on tour — so don’t act like it does. Make sure you understand how the company is paying you and what that’s for, and then allocate your earnings to cover your expenses. Just don’t forget to have some fun along the way.


Alyssa Robinson is a lover of words and movement who happily resides in the Pacific Northwest. She started dancing at 19 when the ballroom (and latin) bug bit her, and she hasn’t stopped since. If she’s not writing about food, fitness, and dance, she’s in the studio training for her next ballroom competition.

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A passion for ballet leads to romance in “Cantique,” a novel by Joanna Marsh Tue, 21 Nov 2017 15:00:35 +0000 A handsome prince who finds his gorgeous peasant in a country shop. Their love blooms but then a real princess steps in and claims the prince for herself. Colette's story evokes that of the ballets she loves. Marsh's novel will appeal to aspiring dancers young and old.]]>

Colette Larson, the twentysomething lead in Joanna Marsh’s debut novel, Cantique, is like so many intelligent and multi-faceted young women these days. While her day job is fulfilling financially and occasionally intellectually, there is a creative spark missing, one that she only finds when she’s in ballet class. Not a professional dancer, Colette nevertheless takes her classes as seriously as she does anything else in her life. She studies dance, knows how to take care of herself to best perform in class, and gives it her all when she is there.

Her home life is satisfying, if a bit deficient in the romance department. She ends her days watching documentaries and eating takeout with her roommate and fellow dancer, Sammy, and her cat Garcon. Ballet offers her a physical and emotional lift and gives life to her creative spirit.

Colette’s life takes a turn for the dramatic when she is laid off from her job as an administrative assistant for a clothing company – a job she had hoped would eventually lead to a career as a designer. While out for a run, she spots a “help wanted” sign in a small hardware store. Although she is hardly cut out for screwdriver sales, she has also been without work for a month and is beginning to feel indebted to Sammy. She halfheartedly applies and is shocked when she is hired.

The Ballet, courtesy Isabel, CC license

Tempe’s staff is a charming mix of small-town personalities and Colette is soon baking them treats and admitting that this temporary gig might be okay for a little while longer – especially when she meets the son of Tempe’s owner. James just happens to be one of the company members of the Westmoreland Ballet where she takes class. Handsome and talented, he is instantly smitten when he meets Colette at his father’s store.

Colette can’t believe her good fortune: could this be real?

The plot of Cantique evokes the story of many classical ballets we see on stage: an unlikely couple meet and fall in love but are separated by circumstance or misunderstanding. The ballets with happy endings (e.g. “Sleeping Beauty” or “Coppelia”) bring our couple together again while the darker ones (e.g. “Giselle” or “Swan Lake”) do not.

Ballerina, courtesy Lia Kapelke, CC license

James and Colette are our stand-ins for the handsome prince who finds his gorgeous peasant in a country shop. Their love blooms but then a real princess steps in and claims the prince for herself; in this case, Alex the stunning ballerina who is James’ partner. As mature as Colette considers herself to be, she becomes jealous at the intimacy of the two partners and of Alex’s obvious interest in James.


Which ending will our lovers have? Which ballet will Cantique give us?

The novel is more than a simple love story, however. Along the way, Colette finds her own path to creative fulfillment, one that doesn’t necessarily involve James. It’s a journey of self-discovery and a tale that reminds us to pursue our passions.

As Colette cries to James, “Do you know what it’s like to be so passionate about something that you can do absolutely nothing with?” His response is, perhaps, the author’s own philosophy. “Obviously, God gave you this passion for a reason,” he declared. “Something will come of it.” (p.136)

Cantique is suitable for a broad range of readers, young adult and up, dancers and non-dancers. Certainly many adult dancers, much like my own students, could see themselves in Colette’s story. The novel may be purchased here.

Courtesy of the author

About the author:

Joanna Marsh is a professional librarian, archivist, and recreational dancers based in Kansas City. She holds an MLS degree from Emporia State University and a BA in Humanities from Northwest Missouri State University. Cantique is her first novel. For more information, visit

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Dancing on Tour: Surviving Life on the Road Sat, 18 Nov 2017 21:00:07 +0000 Traveling to perform as a dancer means that few of your days are ever the same. Alyssa provides tips to survive the sometimes chaotic experience of life on tour.]]>

In her book “The Cranes Dance,” Meg Howrey writes, “When you step from the wings onto the the stage you go from total blackness to a blinding hot glare. After a moment you adjust, but there is that moment. Like being inside lightning.”

I spent my touring days reveling in that electric moment and chasing the excitement. I thrive on (a little bit of) chaos. I love the energy it lends.

a woman stands in a spotlight

But that feeling isn’t for everyone. To be a successful performer, it’s the moments before and after standing inside the lightning that matter. It’s the day in and day out that fuel your performances.

Traveling to perform as a dancer means that few of your days are ever the same, including what you’re eating, where you’re staying and what the stage feels like. It takes a special level of effort to work the unpredictability of tour-life into a functional schedule.

Develop Routines and Rituals

When your days get wonky, routines are absolutely your best friend.

On tour, I have little routines for a lot of things — my hair and makeup playlist are set in stone, I always do the same thing before bed and I have little rituals with some of my castmates before every show. This makes transitions easier, no matter how hectic the day has been.

Bedtime and morning routines are especially important to your well-being on the road and can help combat jet lag from time zone changes. If you’re not getting a full night’s rest, especially in a physically taxing environment, your mental and physical health may suffer.

Manage Your Free Time

Along with a flexible routine comes free time; figure out how to use your time wisely to get the most out of it.

Remember that on tour you likely won’t have the discipline of daily workouts or technique classes to keep you in line. Your workout routine and technique practice are all up to you.

  • Do a barre every morning.
  • If you get studio time, take it.
  • Find and save some easy, hotel-friendly workouts.
  • Check to see if your gym offers its members location-wide access.
  • Toss on running shoes and explore your new locale while getting your cardio on.

Just make sure you’re moving and practicing. Dancing every night might be a workout, but doing the same show ad nauseam can create a sense of security and complacency in your movements, not to mention, create muscular imbalances that can be improved with a bit of cross-training.

Take Care of Your Body

Caring for your body means more than hitting the gym. You need to make sure you eat well and stay hydrated. This seems obvious but it is easy to over- or under-eat while traveling.

I always keep a squirrel stash of power bars in my dance bag for emergency situations when I’m traveling. Figure out which snacks work for you and stock up. The healthier your approach and the more regular your eating routine, the better you’ll adapt to new environments and schedule disruptions.

Take Care of Your Mental Health

Caring for your spirit is equally important while on the road. You cannot be a successful performer and give energy to your audience and your fellow dancers if you do not give energy to yourself.

It can be impossible to find a quiet moment on tour. You’re constantly coexisting with the other members of your company. Take it from me: headphones are a godsend. Blocking out the world without actually having to disappear makes putting on your makeup a private ritual and sitting in the company van, a little retreat.

Add moments into your routine where you take stock of yourself and what you need and then prioritize making time to fulfill that need. My favorite opportunity for introspection while on tour is hot showers — no one bothers you when you’re showering post-show. I have also used apps to track my mood and to remind me to be grateful. Remembering to smile can help in all the chaos.

Center yourself by keeping in contact with friends and family back home. The world of tour can become all-consuming, and sometimes you may forget there’s life outside the stage. Call home to get an emotional reset and an outside perspective.

Make the Most of Life on the Road

Take whatever free time you have while on tour to get out and explore. You may feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere but that tiny rural community might be hiding your favorite boutique of all time. The best tactic I’ve found for exploring a new location is to find a local coffee shop (i.e. not Starbucks) and ask the baristas what to see, taste and experience to best get to know their town in 12 hours. Regardless of how long you’re in town, asking what to cover in that 12-hour time range elicits the truest responses.

Of course, after going to the trouble to ask, go do it! Eat, walk, see, smell and experience where you are. Make some memories and take SO MANY PICTURES. Live it up. You can always nap on the plane.

Newsflash: You won’t be successful with all of the above advice all of the time. Take each day as it comes and don’t expect perfection. Enjoy where you are, listen to your body and strive to be the best you can be, both on and off the stage. Shape the chaos of touring in a way that works for you and, while they last, chase those moments that make you feel like you’re inside lightning.

Alyssa Robinson is a lover of words and movement who happily resides in the Pacific Northwest. She started dancing at 19 when the ballroom (and latin) bug bit her, and she hasn’t stopped since. If she’s not writing about food, fitness, and dance, she’s in the studio training for her next ballroom competition.

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Eva Maze: Dance from another angle Tue, 27 Jun 2017 14:45:49 +0000 Eva Maze never quite fulfilled her childhood dream of becoming a ballerina but, as a successful organizer of theatrical productions, she's spent a lifetime traveling the world for the love of dance. Learn more about her story and memoir.]]>
With Ballet in My Soul by Eva Maze
Discover “With Ballet in My Soul” on Amazon

When a little girl begins to study ballet as a child, she typically envisions herself in a tutu and tiara, skittering across the floor en pointe, being held aloft by a handsome cavalier. Traveling the world with her troupe, she imagines visiting the sights of Paris and Milan, of Tokyo and London, cheered on by adoring fans and dance aficionados.

Eva Maze was no different. As a child in Bucharest, Romania, she studied ballet at a local school and exhibited enough talent to be offered a scholarship. Unfortunately, she contracted scarlet fever at the age of seven which often meant, in 1929, a death sentence, due to a lack of antibiotics. However, Maze’s pediatrician performed an extraordinary surgery on her: breaking the bones of her inner ears in order to relieve the buildup of fluid in them. It worked! Sadly, however, her parents would forever consider her “weak” and would not allow her to resume her ballet studies, regardless of how much she, or her ballet instructor, begged them.

Maze wouldn’t return to ballet until long after her family had emigrated to the United States just before the Second World War. As Romanian Jews watching the rise of fascism in their country, they began to fear for their lives and when opportunity knocked for Maze’s father, they fled to New York City. Academics came easily to her, especially foreign languages, and after high school, she chose to attend business school to learn typing and business writing, two additional skills which would serve her well in her future.

Eva Maze studying in London (photo courtesy Eva Maze)

At twenty, she met and married the love of her life, Oscar Maze, a 24 year old Air Force pilot. Together they would travel the world! Oscar was tremendously supportive of Eva, no matter what she chose to do. While Oscar was stationed in Pittsburgh, Eva found the Pittsburgh Ballet where she would discover the second love of her life (again!) – ballet. Even taking class just once a week rekindled the fire she had for the art form and it showed. The director of the ballet invited her to dance in their show, not as a ballerina en pointe, but in character roles, which are a little easier for older dancers to perform.

NB: “Older” in most careers does not refer to someone who is barely in her twenties but in dance, particularly ballet, twenty is ancient if you haven’t been consistently studying since your childhood.

When Oscar left the military, he was offered a temporary job with Pan American Airlines, a position which would become his lifelong career.  For many people, moving around the world as he and Eva did would be difficult but Eva loved it. She embraced every new city and country they moved to, from Germany to India, and in every location she would find dance. Although moving was a challenge, Maze describes the couple’s homes, their friends and their daughters with relish and charm. She found something to adore in every place she moved.

“From the time we landed in New Delhi in 1951 to the day we left for our next assignment in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1954, not a moment went by that didn’t include either a surprise or an adventure.”

Photo courtesy of Eva Maze

Much of With Ballet in My Soul reads as a travelogue, a paean to years past when travel was far easier and more glamorous than it is today. But what elevates this to a truly intriguing memoir is the turn it takes when Eva becomes what is known as an “impresario” and one of the very first women to do it. As Maze describes it, an impresario is a manager of performing groups or a touring agent. At the time – this is the early Fifties – the biggest name in this line of work was a Russian-born man named Sol Hurok. It never occurred to Eva that she would (or could) follow in his footsteps – bringing acts to Europe and touring them around the world – but that is exactly what she did. And by accident! While she and Oscar were living in India, she was asked by a friend to help coordinate some dancers and musicians on a trip to perform there. Not only did she manage it successfully by organizing flights and facilities, she enjoyed it. This soon led to more and more opportunities until she was one of the biggest names in the business, introducing companies like Alvin Ailey Dance Theater and American Ballet Theater to the world and even producing a massive event with the 1972 Summer Olympics.

Maze’s career lasted well into her 70s and began to wind down around the time of her husband’s death in 1993. Although she felt rudderless (she describes herself as the plane’s propeller while he was its rudder, steadying them as they went), she continued to travel until she eventually settled down in Florida where she enjoys swimming and playing with her grandchildren. Although she never did become the professional ballerina she envisioned as a child, she got it all: she performed on-stage in beautiful costumes, she toured magnificent cities of the world with her “troupe”, and she was most certainly held aloft by a handsome cavalier named Oscar.

“I was born with ballet in my soul…I would, in a heartbeat, do it all over again!”

Recent portrait of the author (courtesy of Eva Maze)

Reviewer’s personal note: in my role as teacher, I frequently hear the question from my students, “Is it too late for me?” My answer is always: never. It is never too late to begin, to continue, to explore. As this memoir details, there are many paths to take with the study of dance. Who knows where it will lead you?

Eva Maze is one of the most successful female theatrical impresarios in Europe with a career that lasted more than 40 years. She lives in Sarasota, Florida. Her memoir is published through Moonstone Press and is available here at Amazon.

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O-1 Artist Visa Tips For Dancers Mon, 16 Jan 2017 15:30:30 +0000 The O-1 Artist Visa changes the game for many artists looking to dance in the U.S. but the process doesn't have to be stressful if you treat dance like it is your business.]]>

At age six, I absolutely fell in love with dance. I grew up taking weekly tap, jazz and ballet classes at Annette and Company School of Dance in Farmington Hills, Michigan (20 minutes from the Canadian border). Truth be told, I was an awful dancer. My parents recall that they could easily pick me out during performances as I was the only dancer consistently going in the wrong direction. Over the years, my path has changed but my heart remains… on the dance floor.

As an immigration attorney who focuses on O-1 Artist Visas, I have had the honor of helping hundreds of internationally renowned dancers and choreographers advance their careers to the next level here in the United States. I am grateful to have the opportunity to help those that do in fact possess the talent in an area that is very close to my heart. I genuinely believe that dancers are the most passionate, humble, and ambitious artists on this planet.


The O-1 is an exclusive nonimmigrant visa that allows artists with extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, athletics, business or education to work in the U.S. for up to three years at a time. It is designed for individuals who have illustrated a record of extraordinary achievement in their field. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) looks for artists who have reached the upper ranks of the industry in their home country. It is designed for those who stand apart from their peers, and who are likely to make strong contributions to our economy.

Petitioner - Employer - TalentThere are three main “pieces” required in order to obtain this exclusive visa. USCIS requires that you have a: (1) Petitioner (agent/business manager, etc.), (2) Employer (who will sign your offer of employment or a “deal memo” for up to three years and (3) Talent (which is documented through various types of evidence to illustrate how you have maintained success in the field).

To figure out who has attained this high level of success, USCIS considers everything from your past leading/critical roles for major events/productions to high salaries in your field, from the types of distinguished productions you have been in to major awards you may have won, and from press articles to collaborations with top companies and performers.

Overall, this visa opens up doors for sustained engagement in the competitive U.S. market. If you are originally from another country, that often means expanding your repertoire to take on projects in major U.S. cities. I have witnessed hundreds of artists who have “outgrown” their surroundings in their home country and had their lives transform once they were able to break into the U.S. market. Though the process can seem daunting, pursuing an O-1 visa might be one of the best moves you make in your entire career.

The O-1 Visa is a game changer - Brian Friedman

“The O-1 visa has been a game changer for dancers around the world chasing their dreams. If you look at the casts of the biggest world tours they are globally diverse and this is thanks to the O-1. These dancers wouldn’t be able to live out their dreams and be acknowledged worldwide without this type of visa. I am personally thankful to have this option as I find talent all over the world and help them fight for their dreams.” – Choreographer, Brian Friedman

“When dance companies hire artists in the O-1 category, U.S.-based dancers have an opportunity to learn from international artists who are the best in their field and audiences are exposed to outstanding artistry. Hiring foreign dancers and choreographers is an important aspect of international diplomacy as it opens the door for learning and exchange.” – Brandon Gryde, Director of Government Affairs for DANCE/USA

“Once receiving the O-1 (and ultimately my green card) I was finally able to work in the U.S. and it has changed my career forever. I have been in LA for 4 years and in that time I have toured the world three times with award-winning pop artists and have been on countless live television shows. None of this would have been possible without the O-1.” – Nick Geurts, Australian dancer (X-Factor, So You Think You Can Dance Australia, Lady Gaga, Ricky Martin world tours)


Photo is licensed CC BY 2.0

Advice for artists looking for an O-1 Visa from various industry professionals

“FIND THE RIGHT ATTORNEY! Applying for an O-1 is an exciting process but collecting all the information and knowing how to get it right can be daunting initially so working with the right attorney is vital. Your attorney should have worked on similar cases before, so they can support and advise you. The next steps are the fun steps, working through your past and current achievements, piecing together your case knowing that its going towards your new adventure.” –Ben Totty, Managing Director and Founder at Box Artist Management

“Do not give up. It may be difficult and frustrating sometimes. At the end, if you have the right attorney to work with, the O-1 Visa is worth waiting for.” – Asaf Goren, Israeli dancer with credits including Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance, Britney Spears, MTV, etc.

“…be patient but also be persistent in your quest to make the connections needed in order to get through the process with an approval. If you can visit LA a few times while working on the visa process, and meet the right people then that can make it a lot easier.” – Associate Director of the Dance/On-Camera Department/Talent Agent at McDonald Selznick Associates (MSA), Jenn Proctor



Dance like it’s your “business.”


Start a paper trail. Save tangible evidence from past events/productions including: photos, programs, press, pay stubs, links, certificates, etc. Keep these materials as organized as possible.

Keep it fresh. Always keep your resume, reel and headshots up to date. Top talent agencies and potential employers will be looking at these materials.

Build your network. Key parts of your application will rest upon your expert letters from industry leaders (people who can vouch for your talent). Try to make a couple professional contacts from each big project you work on as I generally recommend 5-7 expert letters.Bring these leaders into your network by connecting on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Dance truly connects the world, so surround yourself with the movers and the shakers of the industry and maintain a connection by following their careers.

Go social and build your brand. USCIS has taken notice of the boom in social media branding, and may consider measures of social media impact (views, likes, followers, etc.) when evaluating cases. That means you need to get strategic in crafting your digital presence. Define yourself so you stand out in auditions. Do you have certain strengths? Highlight them. Do you have unique moves? Brag about them. Share entertaining posts frequently and follow the major leaders in your corner of the dance world and get them to follow back. Make sure to post early and often, choosing content that is both distinctive and inspirational. The more responsive and active you are, the bigger your following will grow, and the bigger your social media presence will become as well.

Choose your attorney wisely. Contact and work with a U.S. immigration attorney who has experience with O-1 visas and most importantly- one you feel comfortable with. You should always feel like a priority.

Stay engaged. Periodically I get a new client who seems extremely excited about their visa, only to have them redirect their priorities as their schedule fills up. As a result, their case often stalls because they take too long to provide me the resources I need to push things forward. Keep those lines of communication open, and you will go a long way to ensuring a quick and successful outcome.

Be confident, stay humble and above all: believe in yourself.



Remember – there is nothing that says your O-1 journey has to be stressful. If you find the right legal team, the entire process should flow quite smoothly. In fact, it CAN be fun. Organizing an O-1 application gives you a great incentive to keep track of your career as it evolves over time, helping you to visualize the progress you have made towards achieving your ultimate goals.

If you have the talent, if you believe in yourself, if your heart lives and breathes on the dance floor, and if you move in the right direction in rehearsals, you have no other option than to make your dreams come true.



Rachel Wool O-1 VisaRachel Wool is an immigration attorney known for helping hundreds of artists at the top of their field obtain their O-1 visas.
Direct (Phone/Text): (248) 470-1953

This article has been prepared for general information purposes only to permit you to learn.  The material presented is not legal advice, is not to be acted on as such, may not be current and is subject to change without notice.  

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Setting New Year Nutrition and Body Goals That Stick Mon, 09 Jan 2017 21:03:41 +0000 Healthy dancing goes beyond diet, exercise and willpower. Here's how to make sustainable and lasting changes to your dance life and your food plan.]]>

A New Year can be a really awesome time to set some nutrition goals that are innovative and more importantly effective. However, it can also feel totally overwhelming if you’re tackling a number of different areas of your life all at once.
This can lead to overwhelm and major disappointment when a couple of months go by and you start to feel like NOTHING is changing.

It is possible to set nutrition and body goals that stick but it’s first important to think about the reason WHY you’d like to achieve them.

Is it about dancing at your peak and getting a professional job? Is it about getting stronger and staying injury free?

Set goals around your performance in the studio and on stage and stay away from goals that are purely driven by a number on the scale or a comparison to another dancer.

Your unique shape is beautiful and the sooner you embrace that and love yourself exactly how you are in this moment, the easier and faster you’ll start to see positive, tangible changes in how your body looks.

It’s also important to make sure these body goals are yours.

If you want to change your body because of feedback from a teacher or artistic director, it is going to be a lot harder to stay positive and motivated.

Don’t let anyone else’s opinion influence how you feel about yourself.

IMAGE The top of a bright red pepper IMAGE
Photo credit

When it comes to the actual adjustments to your food plan, keep these 5 – ideas in mind:

  1. Brainstorm healthy foods you could eat more of (think greens, colorful vegetables, fruit, nuts, beans, seeds, avocados).
  2. Set up a plan to make those healthy foods more accessible: pre cut veggies so they’re easy to grab and go, stock up on frozen organic vegetables, display your healthy options front and center so they’re the first foods you see when you’re prepping a meal or grabbing a snack.
  3. Once you’ve started habitually loading up on the good stuff (this could take 2 – 4 weeks), brainstorm what unhealthy foods you’re eating that you could eat less of i.e. sweets, processed carbs, sugary beverages, low fat dairy. Start to cut back on those foods gradually.
  4. Remember you should not be hungry. If you’re feeling unsatisfied or perpetually hungry, you’re likely not getting enough healthy fats. Those are some of the most satiating foods.
  5. Have a backup plan and don’t let one slip cause you to fall off the wagon completely.

Your mindset around these New Years nutrition and body goals is majorly important. If you’ve got a story in your head that you’ll never be able to make the changes – you likely won’t be able to do it.

That story in your head will be a self – fulfilling prophecy and any time you fall off the healthy eating wagon you’ll tell yourself “see, I knew I couldn’t do it”.

Switch your story now.

Remind yourself of the times you have succeeded or stuck to a goal. Remember how much you are capable of and harness all the power and positivity you’ve got.

Reaching your best body goes beyond diet, exercise and willpower. There is no such thing as a 21 – day fix or detox. To make truly sustainable and lasting changes to your body, you’ve got to adjust things gradually and accept that it takes some time.

Dancers Best Body Program

Reach Your Body Goals

If you know you’re ready to reach your body goals but you need some help, check out The Dancer’s Best Body Program from The Whole Dancer. This program was designed exclusively for dancers and the unique pressures you face around your physical appearance.
If you’ve ever been told you need to lose weight, or a certain body part needs work, or you don’t have the body needed to be a professional, or you’d simply like to get stronger and stay injury free – this program is for you!
Over the course of 8 – weeks you’ll take a guided, deep dive into the topics of what to eat, how to plan your meals, how to eat for muscle repair and injury prevention, how exactly to cross – train and much, much more.

For full program details, pricing and to save your spot CLICK HERE.

Don’t delay, enrollment for this program is closing on January 15, 2016 and this exclusive LIVE round begins on January 16.


Jess Spinner - The Whole DancerJess Spinner is a professional ballet dancer turned health coach and founder of The Whole Dancer. Driven by her own body struggles as a dancer she is inspired to create programs that are an enriching force of support and positivity in dancer’s lives. She has had the privilege of working with dancers from New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre and Boston Ballet (to name a few) and she can’t wait to work with you!

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Girl Through Glass: Love, Obsession and Ballet in a Novel by Sari Wilson Fri, 30 Dec 2016 18:18:20 +0000 Two tales of love converge in Wilson's mystery novel in which the vibrant backdrop of the 1970s New York City ballet scene serves as conduit for the story.]]>

Girl Through Glass book coverIn Sari Wilson’s new novel, “Girl Through Glass,” two tales of love converge: teenage ballerina Mira’s obsession with a much older man and middle-aged college professor Kate’s desire to reconnect with her past. Ballet in 1970s New York City provides the conduit for these stories as well as a vibrant atmospheric backdrop.

Mira is a pre-teen in the mid-Seventies when her story begins, the only child of a couple who fell in love too young and grew apart quickly; their house in Brooklyn is evidence of their failing marriage. Purchased in order to be refurbished with blood, sweat, and tears, it stands untouched years later, falling apart and cluttered, with neither husband nor wife willing to fix it up. Unhappy in his marriage, Mira’s dad leaves her with her hippy-dippy mom and her ballet classes at the Little Kirov. Soon, however, it’s evident her mother has no business running a household and she takes off for California to find herself; Mira moves in with her father, who eventually falls in love and remarries.

Kate, whose story is told in the present day, is a former ballerina reluctantly sliding into a second career, that of a college professor in dance history. To be truthful, she has been none-too-successful in her new life. She hasn’t yet found the college that wants to keep her. She is unlucky in love as well, having been single for far too long – just long enough that she would fall into the arms of a student, thus putting her already-tenuous job at risk.  When a letter arrives indicating someone she knew in her past is possibly still alive, she makes a bold run from her responsibilities in Ohio to her past in New York to investigate. She hints that she believed she killed this person years ago, although whether she truly believes that or it’s simply hyperbole isn’t clear until much later in the story. A close reader will figure out the connection between Kate and Mira long before the writer ties it up but that’s not crucial to the enjoyment of the novel. Without getting into spoilers, the mystery doesn’t last that long for a careful reader.

Kryziz Bonny bw pointe shoes
Ballet Shoes” by Kryziz Bonny is licensed CC BY 2.0

Maurice is Mira’s older man and he is also Kate’s letter writer. In the Seventies, he becomes a mentor to Mira, introducing her to a more sophisticated lifestyle than an average twelve year old would ever experience: meals at the Russian Tea Room, attendance at the ballet, a large Manhattan apartment with a doorman. Talented though she may be, Mira is also fascinated by love and, eventually, by desire. To Mira’s fellow dancers at SAB – where the great Mr. B takes an interest in her – Maurice is a creep and most certainly a pervert. Hanging around Lincoln Center, watching the girls, becoming too involved from the sidelines, he inspires revulsion in all but Mira who sees only the older man’s love of beauty, his love of her. And as a young woman who is feeling neglected by her parents, Mira embraces the attention.

In Kate’s life, Maurice has largely been absent, but he was clearly a looming figure who had an influence despite his absence. When she receives a letter from him, Kate rushes off to New York City, staying with a former dance friend who has a far more glamorous life than the academic one Kate has.  She’s clearly confused about how she feels, whether she wishes Maurice dead or alive, and eventually when we learn exactly who Maurice was to her, readers can understand why.

Sari Wilson’s descriptions of New York of the Seventies and early Eighties, as well as the ballet world of Balanchine and his young proteges, are haunting. She nails the decade’s clothing and music and the false camaraderie-hiding-cunning of the chain-smoking, coffee-drinking thirteen year old bunheads. And she absolutely gets into the head of a young woman discovering the power of her body, what it can do for her, what it can do to others. Students of ballet, especially those who came of age in the 80s, and readers who appreciate characters and situations that are morally ambiguous, are likely to enjoy Wilson’s debut.


Sari Wilson author photo Elena Seibart
author photo by Elena Seibart

Sari Wilson has been a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford, a Fine Arts Work Center Fellow in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and has received a residency from The Corporation of Yaddo. Her fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in literary journals such as Agni, Oxford American, and Slice.

As a child, she studied ballet at Neubert Ballet Theater, a once-storied Carnegie Hall studio. Later, she studied at Harkness Ballet and as a scholarship student at Eliot Feld’s New Ballet School. She went on to study and perform modern dance with Stephan Koplowitz and at Oberlin College, where she majored in history and minored in dance.

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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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Sibling Rivalry – When Your Sister Is A Dancer Too Sat, 17 Dec 2016 21:25:17 +0000 Ballerina sisters offer their real-life experiences and advice about competitive feelings toward a sibling who also dances.]]>

The story is as familiar as it is painful to many a dancer. A promotion or a lead role, just within reach, is irrevocably lost, given to another dancer. Someone you admire and respect, someone you might have toiled and danced alongside for years. Now you’re hurting, and all you want to do is go home, grieve, cry, vent, in the security of your home. Only this time it’s more complicated.

This time the other dancer is your sister.

While I myself have five sisters, none shared my passion for ballet while growing up, so as an adult, I decided to explore the situation fictionally. In Outside the Limelight, Book 2 of the Ballet Theatre Chronicles, professional dancer Dena, three years her sister Rebecca’s junior, gets the promotion to soloist that Rebecca had been anticipating. The story follows the sisters’ ensuing relationship, through its bumps, challenging circumstances, dramas and traumas, and the ultimate realization that the bond of sisterhood surpasses all others.


Real Life

Real-life ballet sister scenarios play out quite frequently, I’ve since discovered. In a 2013 New York Times article, Patricia and Jeannette Delgado, both principals with Miami City Ballet, discussed their own situation. Much like in Outside the Limelight, younger sister Jeanette, after years of being the subordinate, excelled extravagantly, prompting dance critic Alastair Macaulay to call her “one of the world’s most marvelous ballerinas.”

Patricia, older by two years, was taken aback. “I closed my eyes and opened them, and said, ‘Oh, my God. My sister is amazing,’ I knew she would have opportunities I wouldn’t get, and that was the first time I was dealing with that.” In the long run, however, Patricia credited Jeanette’s success as helping her to elevate her own dancing. “She was blowing me away, and I said, ‘I’ve got to turn it up.’ ” And she went on to do just that. (Read the full article here.)

Ballet sisters Zippora and Romy Karz, who both danced with the New York City Ballet, offered their own perspective.

Photos courtesy Zippora Karz. Top: Zippora and Romy, Bottom: Karz siblings
Photos courtesy Zippora Karz. Top: Zippora and Romy, Bottom: Karz siblings

“I am blessed—my sister is my best friend,” said Zippora, the eldest, who rose to soloist rank. “We went through growing-up years, for sure, and I didn’t always turn to her, but she was always there. Romy and I were very different dancers and personalities, and different life happenings, so I don’t think we ever compared ourselves to each other.”

Romy, three years younger, agreed. “I never put myself on her level, and so the competition was not a struggle. I loved being her sister. When I first started at the School of American Ballet, she wouldn’t let me live with her. She wanted me to carve my own place, and for her to have hers, without taking care of me. Within a year, we found great comfort in our relationship with each other, and the desire to live together because we actually wanted to. Being her sister felt like a great honor to me.”


Other Challenges

Challenges for ballet sisters can come in other forms. Zippora, who wrote The Sugarless Plum, a memoir chronicling her battle with Type 1 diabetes while dancing, did not share her illness with the other dancers. This increased the sisters’ closeness. “I knew of her incredible struggles with her health,” Romy said. “I knew how hard it was, so I worried a lot about her. That was stressful for me. It was hard to separate from my connection and caring of her, within company life.”

Sister ballerinas, Lauren and Corinne | Photo by Ashraf

Lauren Jonas, artistic director of Walnut Creek-based Diablo Ballet, had not one but two ballet sisters, growing up. From the family’s home base in San Rafael, the three of them trained at the Marin Ballet. Mindy was five years older than Lauren, Corinne two years younger. All three went on to dance professionally, although Mindy was forced to retire at a very young age due to a bad foot injury that never healed properly. Lauren joined the Milwaukee Ballet after completing training, and Corinne joined the Houston Ballet.

Here, then, is another challenge ballet dancer sisters face: the prospect of being geographically separated. Cuban sisters and principal dancers Lorena and Lorna Feijóo have spent their professional careers in San Francisco and Boston respectively. Sisters Maria Sascha and Nadia Khan, Montana natives, are based in Russia and Rome (and have two brothers, also professional ballet dancers, based in London and St. Petersburg). The Jonas sisters dispersed to New York, Milwaukee and Houston.

“It’s hard being in different companies,” Lauren admitted. “Living far apart, not being able to seeing the other dance, after those years of training together. You’re used to having that support right there, and then it’s gone.”

Years later, in an intriguing twist, Lauren co-founded Diablo Ballet, and a few years later Corinne joined the company, the two younger sisters finally dancing together on the same professional stage. This did, however, bring new sister-related challenges: Lauren had to refrain from showing any administrative favoritism toward this new dancer who was also her sister.


Advice on feeling competitive

Lauren and Corinne | Photo by Ashraf

I asked Lauren what helped the two of them overcome any sense of competition in their youth. “It helped that we were very different dancers,” she replied. “I was very Don Q, good at fouettés, jumps, pirouettes. Corinne was more Juliet, lyrical and flowing. Although, we looked alike and choreographers liked playing around with that.” In choreographer Sally Streets’ 1997 ballet, Encores, Lauren danced in front of a mirror, where she encountered her mirrored self: her dancing sister.

I asked these ballet professionals what kind of advice regarding sibling rivalry they might offer today’s aspiring ballet dancer sisters. All were in agreement: figure out what you yourself are good at, what makes you unique, and work to improve and refine that.

“We all have to carve out who we are,” Romy said. “It’s a natural thing to feel jealous of someone who has what you want, and that may be better arches, extensions and parts in a ballet, and that may be your best friend, your worst enemy or your sibling. I think it’s healthy to feel what you’re feeling, and then to examine what you can do about it. Harboring those feelings won’t bring you closer to your own goals, but focusing on your own work and keeping your focus on your own goals will.”


Famous ballet sisters

Outside the Limelight is available on Amazon.

Here are but a few names of professional ballet dancer sisters through the past generation. Can you add to the list?

Maria and Marjorie Tallchief
Patricia and Coleen Neary
Johnna and Gelsey Kirkland
Tina and Sheri LeBlanc
Kathleen and Margaret Tracey
Laura and Elise Flagg
Svetlana and Yulia Lunkina
Leigh-Ann and Sara Esty
Mary Mills Thomas and Melissa Thomas
Zenaida and Nadia Yanowsky


Terez Mertes Rose

Terez Mertes Rose is a writer and former ballet dancer whose work has appeared in the Crab Orchard Review, Women Who Eat (Seal Press), A Woman’s Europe (Travelers’ Tales), the Philadelphia Inquirer and the San Jose Mercury News. She reviews dance performances for and blogs about ballet and classical music at The Classical Girl. She is the author of Off Balance and the newly released Outside the Limelight, Books 1 and 2 of the Ballet Theatre Chronicles respectively.


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7 Sweet New Versions of The Nutcracker Ballet Fri, 16 Dec 2016 22:40:29 +0000 Out with the old, in with the new… a wave of new Nutcracker ballets hit holiday stages this season.]]>

Out with the old, in with the new…

There’s been a wave of new Nutcrackers in recent seasons as dance companies near and far remake and re-imagine their versions of this beloved holiday classic.

Last Nutcracker season, Pacific Northwest Ballet retired its famous Stowell-Sendak production and ushered in George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker with new costumes and sets designed by Ian Falconer, author and illustrator of the Olivia children’s book series.

Head over to @yelpseattle to find out how to win 2 tickets to our Nutcracker ❄ #pnbnutcracker #snow #balletpost #worldwideballet

A photo posted by Pacific Northwest Ballet (@pacificnorthwestballet) on


Kansas City Ballet and Boulder Ballet also debuted new Nutcrackers during 2015 and Richmond Ballet and Urban Nutcracker revitalized their productions with new sets and costumes.

Here’s a sampling of new Nutcrackers of 2016…

Houston Ballet

Do many Nutcrackers leave you feeling like Clara ought to play a larger role in the ballet? Never fear, Stanton Welch’s lavish new production expands her part in the story. With new sets, costumes and projections, this Nutcracker begins during the Victorian era in Act I and transports Clara and her Nutcracker prince to the realm of a bygone French court by Act II. It’s also humorous, filled with roles for young performers, and even features minions of the rat king running down the aisle of the theater…

Joffrey Ballet

Meet me at the fair? No, not in St. Louis, in Chicago… Renowned British choreography Christopher Wheeldon re-imagines The Nutcracker taking place in the months leading up to the Chicago World’s Fair (World’s Columbian Exposition) of 1893. In this version, Marie is a Polish immigrant being raised by a single mother who works as a sculptor for the upcoming fair. Act II is Marie’s dream of the fair…

Ballet Hawaii

Snowflakes dancing on Mauna Kea…Hibiscus, Plumeria and Crown blossoms in the Waltz of the Flowers… Like Joffrey Ballet, this production draws upon local history for inspiration–in this case, the Kingdom of Hawaii circa 1858. Ballet Hawaii’s new Nutcracker features choreography by Septime Weber who just retired from the position of artistic director with The Washington Ballet after 17 years with the company.

Charlotte Ballet

What would you do if your ballet company received a million dollars? When patron Hugh McColl made such a generous donation to Charlotte Ballet in honor of his wife (who first introduced him to ballet), artistic director Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux decided to give the company’s Nutcracker a makeover with new sets and costumes…

Staatsballet Berlin

Choreographer Nacho Duato’s new Nutcracker for the German company is set in 1913, and, among other things, features faster tempos for the score and more demanding choreography for the mice—Duato’s favorite characters in this production after Clara and the Nutcracker prince.

Festival Ballet Providence

The Rhode Island company’s Nutcracker features many new costumes this year—but for an unfortunate reason: a mysterious thief, whom company members refer to as Mr. Grinch, stole over 50 of the production’s costumes from the warehouse where they were stored. Mr. Grinch has yet to be caught, but ballet companies and schools from across the country came to the rescue and lent replacement costumes from their collections.

Will Tuckett’s Nutcracker

Sadly, due to financial issues, this immersive theater version of The Nutcracker closed in November after just one performance in London. The production allowed audiences to converse and dance with party guests in Act I and wander through Act II, re-imagined as a winter fair. But here’s to hoping it that it will soon return to a future Nutcracker season…


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Making Gender-Diverse Students Feel Welcome In Dance Class Mon, 05 Dec 2016 15:46:41 +0000 Ballet is highly gendered. But making gender diverse students feel welcomed at your dance studio is possible. Tips from a transgender dancer.]]>

I got back into ballet thanks to my friend’s son Matt. About a year ago, aged four, Matt desperately wanted to learn ballet. Unfortunately, the local ballet class wasn’t suitable for him – and small-town New Zealand doesn’t have a lot of options in that area.

My friend was heartbroken when she realised this. “He’s so keen to learn ballet,” she told me. “You should see him Jonty, he watches YouTube clips and tries to copy along every day.”

“I could teach him a bit,” I said, “I did ballet for nine years as a kid.”

There was no way I could teach Matt anything structured. But I could do the absolute basics. I remembered, viscerally, the intense desire to do ballet when I was a little boy.

Only, back then, I had been a girl.


My experience as a transgender dancer


I was a tomboy girl, and a ballerina. I rushed to classes with knees muddied from playing rugby, and did a quick change into my leotard. There were no boys in my class, but there were two in the grade below. I was so jealous of them. They got to wear shorts. Their shoes weren’t pink. No one gave them bother for wearing socks instead of tights.

In fact, I only changed from socks to tights when they did, a full year after the girls in my class. Far and away the tallest, I gleefully danced the “boy part” whenever we had partnered dances. And in all my years of ballet I never had a “ballet bun” – I kept my hair cut short, like all the other boys.

I stopped doing ballet after RAD grade 6, for a few reasons – but mainly because I wasn’t actually very good at it. My feet are probably the worst possible shape for doing pointe, and a rapid growth spurt made dancing painful. So I quit, and focused on rugby.


But doing the very basics with Matt brought it all back – and reminded me how much I love to dance. After two visits, I set about finding an adult ballet class to join.

I transitioned – went from living as a woman to living as a man – at 20, seven years ago. These days everyone reads me as a man (a particularly youthful and slightly effeminate-looking man, but whatever) and unlike some trans* people, I’m not very open about my gender history. So when I went back to ballet I went as a man, and have not told any of my teachers that I’d ever been different.

Immediate bonus – shorts and a sleeveless t-shirt are appropriate attire.

However, when I moved from casual classes to a school teaching a syllabus, there have been a few awkward moments. I’m able to brush away many of them thanks to the RAD changing their entire programme in 2011, but there’s a few sticking points.


…I don’t know how to bow.

Well, of course I know how to bow, but I don’t know how to do it properly. I spent a lot of time trying to make my curtsey as graceful as possible. And while I studied the boy’s reverence with a longing that, looking back, now seems rather sad – I didn’t practice it.

When the women and girls in my classes swept their leg behind to curtsey to the teacher, I would sort of awkwardly slide my feet into fifth, then bow at the waist. This is fine for a casual class, but in a formal class I’m supposed to do something involving bending a knee and dropping one arm, and my teacher never tells me what I should be doing (even though I’m doing it wrong) because… I did ballet for years. Surely I know how to bow.

You don’t realise how ingrained something is until you try to change it. All the little flourishes which boys do and girls don’t – I don’t know them. For weeks I kept accidentally standing in classical pose rather than degage derriere.


My jumps are not what you would expect from a male dancer. Rather than learning tours en l’air and the other more masculine jumps and turns, I was instead doing my disastrous Year of Pointe. I’ve never done partner lifts, and like many transgender men, I’m weaker through the upper body than the lower.

Plus, while shorts and a tee have been fine up until now, I am soon going to have to venture into the murky world of dance belts, tights, and suspenders.

Still, these are small quibbles. I have always loved to dance. I love it even more now I am doing it in a body which feels like my own, like I belong in it. I can engage in the necessary focus on my body and movement without the dysphoric disconnect which I didn’t understand as a child, and I move with confidence. In short – I’m a much better dancer.


Photo by Ted Eytan is licensed CC BY-SA 2.0
Photo by Ted Eytan is licensed CC BY-SA 2.0


How teachers and dance studio owners can make their classes more welcoming for trans* and gender-diverse students.


Ballet is highly gendered. But it’s still possible for teachers to make transgender and gender diverse students feel welcomed.

For Adults:

●      If an adult student comes to you and says they would like to start dancing in “the other role”, don’t freak out. Talk to your student about how they would like to proceed, and discuss options going forward.


●      Don’t ask inappropriate questions. Surgeries, hormones, and what’s beneath their leotard are not discussion topics.


●      Good questions to ask – What they would like to be called, what attire would make them feel most comfortable, how they would like to manage changing rooms, and how they would like the rest of the class to be informed (or not informed).


●      Speaking of attire, you may have to bend your rules a bit. Trans women may want to wear a wrap skirt over their leotard, and trans men may want to wear a looser t-shirt than usual. You should also be aware that many trans men wear a binder over their chests. This is usually an extremely tight undershirt, which may inhibit some of the dancer’s movement, and occasionally causes fainting if worn while engaging in strenuous activity.


●      Make a point of teaching the basics the dancer may have missed out on. Arm positions, starting poses, and yes – curtsies or bows.


●      If either you, or the style of ballet you teach, will not accept transgender dancers, be upfront but compassionate. Your student will be going through a very intense and difficult time – don’t be adding to it.

Ballet is highly gendered. But making gender diverse students feel welcomed is possible.
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Creating a safe dance class for kids of all genders:

●      Particularly for very young children, allow boys and girls to all wear whichever uniform they feel most comfortable in – leotards, skirts, shorts, t-shirts, tights or socks. Of course you will have a standard uniform, but don’t segregate it by gender. All kids love dressing up, and there’s really no reason a five-year-old boy shouldn’t wear a skirt to dance in. Most of the time children will end up wearing the typical uniform within a couple of years.


●      If your skirt-wearing boy, or shorts-wearing girl, has to wear a certain outfit for an exam or performance, speak to the child’s parents and then speak to the child together. Most children will eventually understand and be willing to compromise, but they may be very upset. If they are particularly upset, you might go out of your way to contact the examiners and ask if the child can wear the “other gender’s” uniform.


●      From my experience ballet schools have a lot of points where “boys do this and girls do that” – and nary the twain shall meet. If you have a mixed class, teach all dancers both variations. It makes for a more well-rounded dancer overall. If the class only has girls or boys in it, try to include bits from the other role. I know as a child I would have loved to learn the “boys’ arms” – even if it was only for practice.


●      If a child or their parent comes to you and tells you the child is transgender, again, don’t freak out. There’s no difference between teaching a trans* student and any other student. Talk to the parents about uniform, changing rooms, and dealing with other parents. Ask your student what they would like to be called in class, and what they would like their classmates to know.


●      Often you will have more pushback from other parents than from the other children – particularly if they’re quite young. Kids are remarkably accepting of news like “Jake is now called Amy, and she will be doing dance B along with the second group.” If other parents complain, discuss their concerns and see if you can address them – this will most likely be around changing rooms. Ideally, all girls (including transgender girls) should use the girls’ room and all boys (including transgender boys) should use the boys’ room. In practice you may have to figure out a gender-neutral space for the transgender student.


●      If either you, or the style of ballet you teach, will not accept transgender dancers, again, be upfront but compassionate. Speak to the parents rather than the child, and avoid being confrontational.


●      If you make a point of running a dance school which is accepting of gender variance – don’t be afraid to talk about it! There are parents who would love their kids to learn ballet, but know the uniform and strict ‘girls versus boys’ dichotomy would be intolerable for their child. Plus, there are plenty of adults like me, who want to reconnect with ballet in the role that they have always felt they should be dancing.


And about those lifts? I’m going to have to learn fast. My school’s end-of-year production is The Nutcracker, and I have somehow been cast as the Prince. (I suspect this is mostly to do with a limited selection pool.) I’ll be dancing my first pas-de-deux, with a girl ten years younger than me and about 100 times better at ballet. Lifts will be involved. Steps which I don’t know, but that I should have learned, will be included.

Though by the time the curtain falls, I hope to have finally mastered taking a bow.


Jonty is a born-again ballet dancer in New Zealand, whose passion for dance isn’t hampered by his loathing of tights. By day he works as a copywriter, yells at sport on the TV, and has a sideline in four-page comic book scripts. By night, he is asleep.

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An Organizational Primer For Dancers In “The Nutcracker” Sat, 03 Dec 2016 17:40:16 +0000 Reduce stress, stay organized so that you can dance beautifully especially during the busy Nutcracker season with these tips from dancer-turned-blogger, Sarah Arnold.]]>


As a ballet teacher, I am always very concerned that the dancers keep up their strength and stay injury free during performance season.

“The Nutcracker Primer” ~ my gift to you!


Nutcracker rehearsals are difficult due to down time between pieces. You dance full out, you wait 30 minutes, dance the allegro finale, break, put on your pointe shoes and run a corps de ballet piece.

Break two hours. Warm yourself up again. Repeat and rinse for four hours. Maybe in the middle you are in the Party Scene but it is on flat. Challenging to say the least!

How do you stay in shape, injury free and dance your best in every role? The answer is to prepare and create a fool proof routine.

Rehearsal routine for all the weeks in advance of your performances.

  • Use your time effectively in order to do your best in rehearsal and injury free.
  • Do your floor barre or ballet conditioning exercises on the sidelines while awaiting your rehearsals. This will strengthen your technique and prevent overuse injuries.
  • Check your rehearsal schedule and keep warmed up in time for your next rehearsal. This will prevent injury.
  • After each rehearsal, put on your booties and warm-up clothes. Do not go outside and get cold air on your muscles. If you have 30+ minute break, have a light snack and stay hydrated.
  • Don’t sit around in big stretches, stand up and just jump back into rehearsal. Stretches do not keep you warm. Better to stretch dynamically (with movement) rather than statically.
  • Learn other roles— next year or understudy, you might get your chances
  • Review your roles on the side and perfect the challenging sections.
  • Review your roles and if you forget a section, ask a friend for help in advance. Don’t waste time in rehearsals by asking unnecessary questions.
  • Bring protein snacks that are easily digestible and keep hydrated.
  • Eat and sleep well.
  • Be organized. Make sure you have all your rehearsals and costume fittings on your calendar.
  • Do not skip class before rehearsal or any time in the weeks leading up to the performances.
  • Practice your hair style in advance if you have something different than your normal style bun. If possible, try it in rehearsal. Please don’t wait until dress rehearsal to experiment!

Your stage kit prepared in advance

Prepare a list for your theater kit and make sure you have purchased all your needs. Pack them ahead of time.

Here are some suggestions:

Makeup kit~ ballet schools may vary as to what makeup you will need. Most schools require foundation, powder, eyeliner, neutral shadows, red lipstick, blush, eyebrow pencil.

Hair supplies~ hair nets, bobby pins, hair pins, fake hair pieces, hair spray and/or gel, extra bobby pins for headdresses— don’t rely on the costumers to supply them.

Shoe kit~ prep shoes (color them, trim threads, calamine, strong attachments for ribbon and elastic, necessary padding, baby powder for sweaty feet, rosin if allowed or not supplied, sewing kit, spare elastic and ribbons, enough pointe shoes for the run.

Cosmetic cleansers~ kleenex, makeup wipes, cold cream, toner, clean washcloths. (Keep your skin clean from the heavy makeup and sweat!). Anti-perspirant. Remove nail polish in advance of performances.

Jewelry~ leave expensive jewelry at home, bring your bling stage earrings.

Miscellaneous supplies~ safety pins for emergency, feminine supplies, foot rollers or balls, The Stick, a foam roller, washcloths, anti -perspirant, pad of paper and pen for notes, rehearsal schedules, a small magnifying mirror, clear nail polish for last minute run in tights, tiger balm or any remedy for sore muscles, ibuprofen or aspirin if you take it, blanket for keeping warm or a nap, etc.

Undergarments~ beige camisole for under costume if you have quick changes backstage. An extra pair of tights.

Makeup Tips:

Check makeup kit to make sure your makeup is not contaminated, old or gone.

Practice your stage makeup if this is new to you or if your makeup might be different for a character role— even Arabian can sometimes be more exotic. False eyelashes and eyeliner are worthwhile techniques to practice ahead.

At the theater

  • Check in on time.
  • Check call board for any changes to cast, last minute rehearsals, costume fittings.
  • Create a ritual for your dressing room space
  • Setup a hand towel for your dressing table. This keeps your space clean, designates your space, put out lucky charm, soothing music to keep focused and not expend extra energy. If you have enough time you can listen to your music on your headphones.
  • Create a routine for each performance~ write it down so you don’t have to recreate it each time!
  • Get or set your props
  • Organize your costumes
  • Get a program for order, tape to mirror
  • Take the warm-up or a class before the theater call Rewarm-up if necessary


If you use your time effectively by rehearsing and performing well, the best part is that you will be looked upon as reliable and proficient dancer. What does that mean? Perhaps an advancement in roles for next time!


I hope my “Nutcracker Primer” reduces stress and keeps you organized and dancing beautifully!

Whether you are a novice adult student or seasoned professional, I hope you may find this helpful and discover a new tip or two! I would love hear about your routine so I can improve this for the future. If you are a student, please keep this list on hand and be sure to print out and share with your parents. I know they will appreciate it!


Sarah ArnoldSarah Arnold is a former professional ballet dancer and has been teaching ballet for 30+ years. She never thought she would enjoy teaching when she was a dancer. However when she quit dancing, teaching quickly became her newfound passion. Her ballet teacher blog is a place to share new and old finds about teaching! Sarah loves to share with any inspired student.


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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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