Ballet For Me And You Now Available on the iBookstore!

I’m thrilled to announce, after many years in the making, my first book has been officially published! Ballet For Me And You started as a simple document that I passed out to my students’ parent to help them understand what their children were learning in ballet class. In the past few years, this simple document expanded into a iBook with poetic verses, a guide for parents, step by step images, and quizzes. As a dance educator, my goal has been to spread my passion and knowledge of dance. Through this book series, I am excited about continuing this mission. Ballet For Me And You is now available for your iPad on the iBookstore for $2.99.

Ballet For Me And You Press Release!

 

Who’s Who At The Ballet – In The Office

Administration:

The backbone of all dance companies consists of a team of arts administrators. This team works together to keep everything running smoothly. From the accountant to the company director, each job allows students, dancers, and instructors to fulfill their passion of dance. In many companies the administrative employees are responsible for multiple departments to help keep costs down.

Marketing:

How did you hear about the show, class, or company? By the artwork and creativity of the companies marketing department. Ads, flyers, logo wear, website, social media, and blogs are just a few of the items the marketing department creates to spread the word about their company. 


Operations Manager:

The operation manager is responsible for coordinating tours, performance schedules, and helps with the company’s needs. They make sure all the dancers get their per diem, have pointe shoes, arraigns their transportation, and special appearances. They are the liaison to make sure everyones needs are covered and people are in the right place at the right time.

Development:

The development department keeps new and current customers excite about the company. They are a creative bunch that feverishly writes grants, plans fundraising events, and seeks out fans (donors) to donate, ultimately keeping the company alive and allowing the artist to be creative. 

Accounting:

This department is not only good at math, but they strategically budget the income and expenses for the entire company. They make sure everyone gets paid and that company can thrive even in a tough economy. 


Facility Manager:

From the ceiling to the floor the facility manager has got you covered. They make sure everything is safe, electronics are functioning properly, and the building is clean. 


Public Relations:

This branch of the arts administration team is responsible for communicating with the public. They informing the public about the companies upcoming events by write press releases or giving interviews. Every time you see an news article or catch a dance company on the evening news, you’ll know the PR team was doing their job!

Company Director:

Like a lot of responsibility? The company director oversees everyone in the administrative branch to make sure they are fulfilling the goals and mission of the company set by the executive director and artistic director. This person must be a good listener, able to communicate clearly, and make some tough decisions.

Take it from me, even though working in arts administration is a ton of work, being a part of making a dance company successful is quite rewarding… even if you’re not dancing on stage 🙂

Who’s Who At The Ballet – At The Studio

School Director:

From the front desk to the studio, the School Director is in charge of how the studio is perceived. Setting and keeping the tone is no easy task. School Directors often spend hours carefully planning, listening, and creating new ways to make their school the best as possible.

School Manager:

The School Director’s business advisor is the School Manager. They are responsible for relaying information and making sure each component of the school is holding up to their standards.

Instructors:

Arguably the most important job in a studio are the instructors. They are educators that pass down the tradition of dance directly to the next generation. Adhering to a syllabus they creatively design lesson plans, and foster growth through corrections and praise.

Accompanist:

Pianist are the most common accompanist for ballet classes. Working with the instructor, they create a soundtrack to the class to aid students in achieving tempo, tone, and emotion. Unfortunately, not all studios have live musical accompaniment. Most studios rely on pre-recorded music.

Receptionist:

The first face you see when you walk in the door is the studio’s receptionist. They are the go-to-person who knows everything that’s happening around the studio. As customer service gurus they assist in sales, communication, and assist with daily administration needs.

Who’s Who in a Ballet Company – Inside the Studio

Artistic Director:

The artistic director of a ballet company is the official dreamer. It’s their job to create, shape, and lead a company. Many artistic directors find their time split between working with the dancers and in the office. They make sure the whole company is staying focused and continuing to achieve their goals. You might not see the artistic director. However, you will be surrounded by the world they created every time you set foot in the studio or theatre.

 

Ballet Mistress / Master:

The ballet mistress (female) or master (male) is the artistic director’s right hand in the studio. They are responsible for maintaining the artistic director’s standards, and pushing the dancers to a higher level physically and professionally. You will find the ballet mistress / master in the studio teaching classes and rehearsing the company.

New York City Ballet Principal dancers Ashley Bouder and Jonathan Stafford. Photo by Paul Kolnik.

Principals:

The highest ranking dancers in a company are the principles. Dancers given this title have worked hard, proved their dedication, and  shown a high level of artistry. Principals are given the leading roles in ballets where they are highlighted in solos or pas de deux.

 

New York City Ballet Soloists Ana Sophia Scheller and Adrian Danchig-Waring. Photo by Paul KolnikSoloists:

Soloists:

A soloist is a dancer that has been plucked from the corps de ballet. They are recognized for their talent and skill and are give a special position within the company. Soloists might not have the lead in a ballet, but their role as a supporting character is crucial to the story line in any ballet.

 

 

New York City Ballet Corps De Ballet. Photo by Paul Kolnik

Corps de Ballet:

The corps de ballet is the sole of a company. They are a group of dancers that move like one organism, setting the stage, and carrying the story from one scene to the next. With their acute attention to detail, these dancers move so precise, it’s hard to tell who is who when they perform.

A Ballerina’s Bun Secret

No those aren’t donuts, they’re mesh chignons. These spongy creations are helping ballet students with short hair and long achieve a perfect bun. With their round shape, soft mesh, and durability, students are kissing their hair headaches goodbye. Do you want to know the best part about this ballet secret? They are only $3.29 at Sally Beauty Supply! Click on the photo above to link directly to their online store. Also, check the Ballet For Me And You Gallery for step by step directions.

Preparing For Your Child’s First Dance Performance

 

You may have noticed signs going up in your studio, your child singing the same song over and over again, and the countless papers of information stacking up on your desk. Yes, it’s performance time! Now, not only are you responsible for paying tuition, but also for costumes, pictures, videos, and makeup fees to add to the dent in your wallet. Since I’ve always been the dancer or the dance teacher, I decided to ask my mom what advice she had for first time recital parents. Here’s what she had to say:


1. Always ask questions  

A lot of times when your signing up for classes at the beginning of the school year, the receptionists are busy focusing on the start of the new year, so sometimes the recital information is overlooked at this stage. If recital information has not been discussed, ask. Some questions parents should ask are: 

  • When are the performances and stage rehearsals? 
  • Are there any performance fees? 
  • Will I have to purchase a costume or are costumes provided? 
  • Is there a ticket fee, and will I be responsible for buying a certain number of tickets? 
  • Is there limited seating? 
  • Are there any other hidden costs I should know about? 
  • How many performances are there? Are there both winter and spring performances? 
  • Will the parents be expected to help make costumes or props? 
  • Since recitals entail additional costs, can I split up payments throughout the year? 

2. Make room in your schedule 

There are always extra rehearsals before a performance. It’s important to find out when they are in case your child’s absence could affect them being in the piece. I remember one studio where a child wasn’t allowed to take part in the performance because they missed some extra rehearsals.  


3. Check the costume measurements 

Parents must realize that costume measurements must be taken early to allow time for them to be made. Therefore, if your child is going through a growth spurt, you might want to mention it to the teacher so you get a costume that won’t be too small. 


4. Find out about accessories  

Now is a good time to ask about specific tights color, if shoes need to be spray painted, and hairstyle expectations. This way you can find the best price for tights, coordinate shoe dying, and cancel that summer hair appointment until after the recital.


5. Learn about stage makeup policies

Having one person with bright blue eyeshadow might look strange if everyone else is wearing brown. Find out if there is a uniform makeup policy, and if so, get some details about the look. You might ask:

  • Will someone assist with makeup backstage?
  • Is there going to be a class on how to put it one correctly?
  • Will an information sheet be handed out with specific information about makeup?

All and all, I learned from my mom that the more you know, the less stressed you will be. As a teacher, I want my students and parents to understand what’s happening, and I’m sure your child’s dance teachers feel the same way. Please always ask questions; chances are they are more important than you might think.


My first year of ballet


Special thanks to my mom, Pat, for giving great advice!

 

 

How To Prepare Your Child For Their First Performance – Part 1

 

Springtime marks the end of the year for many studios, and to celebrate it’s common to showcase what the students have learned in a performance. To a beginner student, preparing for a first show is a mix of emotions. They are excited to get a costume, be on stage, and dance for all their friends and family. On the other hand, many begin to feel overwhelmed trying to remember the dance, be in the right spot, and smile at the same time. So, how can you help your child from feeling the pressures of their first show? Here’s a list I’ve put together for parents.
1. Get a copy of the music – As soon as your child starts learning the dance get a copy of the music to allow them to start picking up cues and understand the rhythm.
2. Videotape the dance – With many beginners only attending once a week, it can be difficult to remember the choreography. Ask the teacher if you can videotape the dance at the end of class to help them remember what they learned.
3. Don’t let them miss any classes – Missing students make rehearsals hard for everyone, especially the other students. Choreography for group classes tend to rely on the spacing and shapes of the group as a whole. A missing link can cause mass confusion.

4. Arrange a play date with other classmates – Getting the dancers together will inevitably lead to a dance party, which eventually prompts a dance rehearsal. Plus, it’s a fun way to keep everyone motivated.

5. Stay positive – Let your child know you’re excited to see them perform and encourage them through the process. As my mom always said to me, “Go do your best and have fun!”

Me taking class around age 9.

 

Types of Dances

 

Choreographers are artist that compose a series of steps to create a story, mood, or feeling. Their creativity stems from the world that surrounds them and is shaped into the bodies of the performers. The steps become a unique idea transfered from one artist to another for the world to enjoy.


When it comes to dances, there are four choreographic styles. Narrative, which is commonly found in ballets, musical visualizations, found in contemporary styles such as hip hop, chance, made famous by Merce Cunningham, and improvisation, found in modern dance and many ethnic dances. Now, let’s take a look at these styles more closely. Below is a description of each with a video. What style do you prefer?



Narrative – a dance that tells a story


[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cP0zZ9LbDFs&hl=en_US&fs=1&color1=0x3a3a3a&color2=0x999999]


Music visualization – a dance that mimics the music’s timing, intensity, and flow


[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ov80ne4TN4&hl=en_US&fs=1&color1=0x3a3a3a&color2=0x999999]



Chance – a dance that performs combinations randomly using time, space, and energy exercises

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1aBJdHnv5tM&hl=en_US&fs=1&color1=0x3a3a3a&color2=0x999999]


Improvisation – a dance that is made up spontaneously

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2cLzD4TBd9A&hl=en_US&fs=1&color1=0x3a3a3a&color2=0x999999]