Ballet Dancer Must-Haves IV

Alyson Abriel Salomon is a bay area dancer for both Labayen Dance/SF and the DanceWright Project. Here’s what she had to say about her ballet dancer must-haves:

“Sounds silly, but these two products are MUST-HAVES for me. The hairpins are incredibly strong, and you don’t need to use many, which makes it easy to go from a bun to a ponytail. They also don’t fall out and create a hazard onstage like more traditional hair pins.”

Scunci No Damage Ponytail Holders

Scunci Magic Grip hairpins

Dancer Spotlight Leda Pennell – Balancing College And A Professional Dance Career

Photo by Elazar Hare

Q: How did you decide whether to set priorities on college or dance?

A: My mother helped me decide, she told me I could do both. If the opportunity came that I would need to spend more time dancing, I could always drop to part-time or take a break and come back to school later. You can only dance for so long. Whereas with school, you can always return later.

Q: Are you double majoring, or are you minoring in one subject?

A: I am majoring in psychology and minoring in dance.

Q: What year are you currently studying in school?

A: In the fall it will be my fourth year at San Francisco State University.

Q: Will you graduate late because of your choice to dance and go to school?

A: Yes, I am about a semester and a half behind because there were a few semesters that I dropped to part-time to dance more.

Q: Did you begin dancing professional before beginning college or while attending?

A: I began dancing professionally while attending classes at SFSU.

Q: How did you find a company that worked with your schedule?

A: In San Francisco there are a lot of small companies with choreographers who understand the need for an education and work. Both of my companies are like family to me and try to work with my schedule.

Photo by Weidong Yang

Q: Does your school offer additional credit for the work you do as a professional dancer?

A: Unfortunately no, but I think that some performing art schools do offer class credit.

Q: Are you currently dancing with more than one company, or do you have a regular job?

A: BOTH! I dance for the DanceWright Project and Labayen Dance/SF. I also work full-time at Alcatraz Cruises, and have a full load of 12 units at SFSU.

Q: What is your biggest challenge when balancing school and dance?

A: The biggest challenge is making my schedule. Fitting school, dance, and work is difficult. Especially with the CSU budget cuts, it is hard to fit the classes I need with my dance and work schedule.

Q: Describe your typical day

A: It’s different everyday and changes every semester!

Monday, Wednesday, and Friday’s, I usually work all day and try to take an evening ballet class at Lines Dance Center. My Wednesday ballet class is followed by a rehearsal.

Tuesday and Thursday’s I go to school and try to take an evening class at Lines. My Thursday ballet class is followed by a rehearsal.

Saturday I work all day. Sometimes followed by rehearsal or performance.

Sunday I rehearse all day.

There are some days where I am doing stuff from 5am to 9:30pm. And there’s no official day off. However, I consider Sunday my day off because I am spending the whole day doing what I love, dancing.

Photo by Weidong Yang

Q: What makes this lifestyle rewarding?

A: I get to pursue everything that I love! School and dance! (Work kind of sucks, but I have to do it to pay my bills and tuition).

Q: Have you attended summer workshops while in college? Which ones and why?

A: Yes, summer 2009 I went to New York to do the ABT collegiate program because I always wanted to go to New York and thought this would be a great opportunity.

Q: What advice do you have for dancers that are contemplating a similar lifestyle?

A: Know how to manage your time because there are only 24 hours in a day!

Q: What do you plan to do after college?

A: I would like to take a year or two off to continue dancing and working. Then I want to apply to grad schools to someday do research on the psychological motivation and processes of dancers’ need to continue dancing (or playing a sport) while injured. I would like to specifically research dancers. However, it  applies to all athletes.

See Leda perform live with Labayen Dance/SF at Dance Mission Theatre July 23rd-25th. Click on the photo below for a sneak peak of the show!


Choreography by Enrico Labayen Music from Carmina Burana composed by Carl Orff. Dancers for the fist dance are Alyson Abriel, Crystaldawn Bell, Morgan Eichwald, and Leda Pennell. The second dance is Alyson Abriel, Morgan Eichwald, and Leda Pennell. For more info about the show go to