Ballet Dancers Must-Haves

I’ve been on the search trying to find what ballet dancers just can’t live without. My results were so entertaining and informative, that I’ve decided to make the ‘Ballet Dancers Must-Haves’ a continuing series. I hope you enjoy!

Recently I asked the talented Co-Artistic Director, dancer, and costumer, Graham McMonagle, of Canadian Pacific Ballet what were his ballet must-haves. Here’s what he said… 

  • (Embarrassing?) Duct-tape. I sometimes get a corn on my foot, and duct-tape takes it away. 🙂  
  • I love my leg-warmers, a big woolly pair of white ones I made years ago. There’s something that makes me happier having them on or in a heap nearby…   
  • I love worn out MStevens tights, with the feet cut out. I buy them as large a possibleand then let them wear out and look bad… then they feel good. 

And there you have it! Check back for more ‘Ballet Dancers Must-Haves’!


I’m thrilled to announce Ballet For Me And You has won the Reader’s Choice Top Dance Blog in Dance Education and Training, and 3rd in the Reader’s Choice Top Dance Blogs 2010! This is a huge honor that couldn’t have been accomplished without you, the readers. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for your support! Stay tuned for more articles, tips, videos, and interviews in 2011, as I continue my goals of simplifying ballet and sharing knowledge.

Dance On!


Vote for Ballet For Me and You


Guess what?! Ballet For Me and You has made it to the final round of The Top Dance Blog 2010! However, the competition has just begun.  If you’ve voted in the nomination round, I really appreciate your help, but I still need your support. Please help Ballet For Me And You reach the final title of Top Dance Blog 2010. Place your vote for Ballet For Me And You in both the Dance Education and Training and Your Favorite Blog categories by CLICKING HERE! Your support is a gift and I’m truly grateful.  I couldn’t have done it with out you, the readers, friends, family, and dance lovers. It’s such an honor to have you read my blog. I already feel like a winner 🙂

Best of luck to all the bloggers! 



Sport Beans are for Dancers Too!

Dancing is hard work! Sometimes in the hight of performance season dancers begin to feel tired, wore down, and just plain exhausted. This leads to pushing the limits which can cause injuries. Take for example So You Think You Can Dance  Season 7. The show suffered from a record number of dropout due to injuries. With weeks of performances and schedules many of the dancers had never experienced before, it was clear some were hitting the wall.

So, how do you overcome this exhaustion? Aside from the obvious rest and health eating habits, there is one secrete I’ve learned. Sport Beans! I discovered them during my marathon training. I was reluctant to use any kind of “sport energizers,” but when you’ve got 30 plus miles to run a week, you begin to change your mind. Sport beans are jelly beans specially created by Jelly Belly. They are filled with the essential mix of electrolytes, carbohydrates, and vitamins that help athletes regain fuel. I was impressed by how the beans helped my runs, so I tried them during my long teaching days (which can feel like a 20 mile run sometime). The results were great! I was able to maintain an energy level to get me through night without feeling like I gypped a class due to lack of energy.

Fruit punch is my favorite flavor!All in all, I recommend Sport Beans as a great supplement to help stay energized during  performance week. Especially if you can’t stomach gatorade, those fancy energy bars, or chi seeds. The beans taste great are easy on the stomach. You can find them at any sporting goods store or online. Good luck and remember to dance smart!

A Nutcracker Memory


Photo by WILL SHIVELY - BalletMet's Nutcracker Prince

Ah, December 15th… We are in the heart of The Nutcracker season. This time of year I find myself reflecting on my time with ballet’s most famous tradition. Of all my years and countless performances, I find it funny that my most memorable moment wasn’t my most glamorous. In fact, it was quite a disaster! 

It was my second year in BalletMet’s The Nutcracker, and I was casted in the battle scene as calvary. I wore an old snug fitting costume, bright red circles on my cheeks, and carried a sword in one hand, while the other held a giant horse head on a stick. Of the four girls in my cast, I was fortunate to have a small yet important role in the battle. During the scene, I was to leave the group, pas de chat from stage right to left, and try to take a stab at the Rat King. Then after the failed attempt, I was to retreat by throwing my sword over my shoulder and pas de chat back to my fellow calvary. In every rehearsal and performance, I performed this choreography without flaw… until that one dreadful day.

I can’t quit say if I was nervous, having a bad day, or maybe I had too much sugar, but everything that could go wrong sure as heck did! It started when my group was late entering the battle because we missed our music cue. Then, as I tried to make my was across the stage, I found myself darting through rats and soldiers. Just in the nick-of-time I was able to stab the Rat King, turn and throw my sword. But, as it left my hand, it flew with such a force that it disappeared into the darkness of downstage (the area nearest the audience), and then I heard a faint crash. I realized then I caused a Nutcracker disaster. Now Clara no longer had a sword to kill the Rat King and the tuba player had a huge bump on his head. Lucky for me the soldiers were able to confiscate a fork from a rat and Clara was still able to save the day. 

As for the aftermath, intermission brought on one angry Artistic Director. I remember cowering behind the racks of costumes until someone hurried him away from our dressing room. Looking back, it was a very traumatic experience. I really wanted to apologize to the tuba player, but I was nervous my life in The Nutcracker would be over if Mr. Nixon ever found out. After all these years, I’m pretty sure he figured out it was me, but if not, I guess he knows now! At least I can look back and laugh at it today.

Top Dance Blogs of 2010 Competition

Drum roll please….

In the category, Dance Education / Training…. Ballet For Me And You is thrilled to announce its entry for the Reader’s Choice Top Dance Blogs of 2010 Competition!

During the month of December, dance enthusiasts and blog writers are engaging in some friendly competition. Top qualifying blogs will go head to head for the ultimate title of READER’S CHOICE TOP DANCE BLOG OF 2010! This exciting event is sponsored by writer and editor of Dance Advantage, Nichelle Strzepek.

How to vote:

Show your support for Ballet For Me And You by commenting below on this post. As a dedicated professional, I strive to share my lifelong love of dance with the world. Please help me spread the love of dance to the world and write an encouraging message.

Let the competition begin!

A Dancer Must Have

During my third year of ballet my Mom bought me the “Technical Manual and Dictionary of Classical Ballet.” As a fifth grade know-it-all, I shoved the book on my shelf to collect dust. Luckily I came to my senses and realized I didn’t know everything about ballet. This book has been a great references to me over the years to solidify a deeper understanding of the ballet language. From student, to choreographer, to instructor, to studio manager I have used this book every step of the way. In fact, I’m now on my second one. I fully recommend this book to all ballet enthusiast interested in learning or improving their terminology!


Best Water Bottle

My whole dance life I’ve carried a water bottle to class. You could consider me somewhat of connoisseur, since I’ve tried just about every type of reusable bottles. About five months I’ve began training for the Chicago Marathon and made regular visits to my local running store. Every time I walked in I was drawn to the  “Nathanwater bottles, so I decided to buy one. This water bottle soon became my favorite. I love that they are easy to clean, they don’t get that weird smell that some water bottles get after a lot of use, they have a flip straw, and the best part is they have carabiner built into the  bottle. I now own three of them and one is always with me. If you’re in the market for a new water bottle, you must check these out!

Spotlight Raymond Fabrizio – Musician and Ballet Accompanist

Q: How did you realize you wanted to be a musician?

A: One day, it dawned on me that I wanted to become a pianist. That day, I made an official declaration to my mom and my grandparents about my decision… I was 9 or 10 years old then. They were a little shocked and definitely not pleased, since they didn’t want me to follow the footsteps of my forgotten dad.

My mother’s family had buried my dad in the past, since my parents got divorced soon after I was born. My dad was first flutist at the San Francisco Opera, the only musician in my immediate family. By deciding to become a musician that day, I revived in them a fear they had long forgotten.

Q: What got you interested in becoming an accompanist for dance / ballet classes?

A: It happened about 3 and a half years ago, when I had a miserable office job that I had to quit. I didn’t know how to quit until I suddenly got an offer to play for 7 ballet classes a week. I took the offer and quit my job right away.

I believe that was a miracle from God. I am grateful to Him and all of the ballet teachers I work for giving me the privilege to make my living out of music today.


Q: Describe your favorite memory of accompanying a class. Where was it? Who was it for? Why was it so special?

A: It was at Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet, about a month ago with Caroline Rocher. The teacher, Caroline, was always smiling and laughing with a joy I had never previously seen in any other ballet teacher; she irradiated so much beauty, happiness and positive energy to her students and me, that I truly felt joyful to be actually playing for a ballet class for the first time in my life. It was like being in paradise!


Q: What is the most challenging part of your job?

A: Having to guess the tempo of a combination when the teacher does not mark it.

Q: What is the most rewarding part of your job?

A: Having to improvise musical solutions on the spot and learning new things about ballet everyday, while having a chance to monitor my technique during each class.

Q: Describe your typical work week

A: Playing for about 14 ballet classes per week

Q: What types of pieces do you play in class?

A: Classical music style pieces and some popular tunes as well as my own compositions mostly in classical style.


Q: Which ones do you like and why?

A: I like playing original versions of musical pieces that match the combination given by the teacher.


Q: Which ones do you dislike and why?

A: I dislike playing versions of musical pieces modified to fit the combinations, because when original compositions are modified to fit the combinations, they are basically being adulterated and destroyed.

Q: Who is your musical or life inspiration?

A: Composers that suffered from some sort of disability, such as partial blindness, like Johann Sebastian Bach, total blindness, like Joaquín Rodrigo, or those who have suffered the loss of a limb, such as Maurice Ravel.

I am going through a trial right now, as I am suffering from a potentially serious eye disease that my specialists have been unable to identify. Fearing the eventual loss of my sight, I get my inspiration from the great musicians that were actually disabled.

Q: Is there any advice or etiquette recommendations you would give to young dancers while participating in class with an accompanist?

A: If you think the tempo of the music or the musical selection itself doesn’t help you dance, address the instructor, not the accompanist. Also, keep in mind the accompanist’s job is not being your DJ!

Q: In your opinion, what is the best piece of music you’ve ever heard?

A: I’ve been thinking several days about the answer to this difficult question! The best piece of music I have ever heard PROBABLY is Johann S. Bach’s Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor for pipe organ.


Q: Have you ever had the privilege of playing it?

A: I’ve been practicing it these days.