Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Fun links! Fun fun fun!

Hi all!

Rather than put out a whole bunch of emails that clog up your inbox or blog posts that you lose track of, I figured I'd just put all my cool info here and you can peruse at your leisure.

Leigh & Company In the News!

First up, we were at ScareLA being all zombie-ish and ballerina-y and generally having an awesome time like we always do. And lots of people captured it on video! A couple are below because they featured us really nicely.

Here are Vic Mendoza's highlight reels (a short one and a longer one, both very cool, thank you!):
Teaser reel by Vicscover Art

Full reel by Vicscover Art

Here is IdeateTV's interview with me, which I am so very grateful for:

 IdeateTV interview with Katrina Lee

Next, I was profiled at the Dance Network blog by Bridget Conrad and although there was a lot of focus on me, the talk turned to my company and its vision, which Bridget absolutely got spot-on. I could not have presented our company's mission any better. Thank you SO much for this:

Third, this is something I wrote for Dance Advantage's website, a review of Terez Mertes Rose's forthcoming novel, A DANCER'S GUIDE TO AFRICA, as well as an interview with Terez herself. I'm a big fan of her and her books so it was great to get to read a new one ahead of its release. Be sure to pre-order it!
And finally...our production! Discounted tickets for "Sweet Sorrow, A Zombie Ballet" available until the end of September. Get your tickets to either show and the Sunday Afterlife party!

Happy reading and happy watching and, of course, happy dancing~

Friday, September 7, 2018

Are you doing your grand plie correctly? Are you sure?

When beginning dancers first learn to do a grand plie, teachers try to guide them with three main alignment corrections (it's always 3, isn't it?):

1. Keep your spine straight - don't tuck or stick out your derriere.

2. Send your knees out over the toes - don't allow them to roll in front of the big toe.

3. Let your heels come off the floor gradually - don't pop them up and force the arch.

As I watch dancers advance and learn to incorporate more alignment corrections, I've noticed that the 3rd correction about the heels seems to be the last one that can be applied properly. In terms of the sequence of understanding, it appears that the first two are easier to comprehend and apply to our bodies. After all, we can see in our mirrored reflection whether our spines are straight and if the knees are rolling forward of our toes.

But the feeling of heels lifting too soon (or being popped up) is a challenging one for dancers to find. Remember that lifting the heels too soon can have major repercussions, including:
*shortening the tendons and weakening them
*constant engagement of calves resulting in pulled calf muscles
*crossover to lifted heel before pirouette

Try this next time you're at the barre for plies in first position:
--find your balance evenly on both feet but test whether you are "sitting" back by gently lifting the heels off the floor and setting them back down.
--imagine a weight at the base of your spine pulling you straight down to the floor.
--begin to open the plie at the top of the legs - don't initiate in the knees; they come later.
--allow the thighs to part and the knees to open and extend beyond the center part of the foot and the middle toes.
--feel the calves and Achilles tendons lengthening as the knees open.
--keep your spine straight and feel the lower belly engage as you get closer to the floor.
--the knees will naturally pull off the floor - allow them to do that - but instead of bringing the heels closer to your pelvis, bring the pelvis closer to your heels.
--let me repeat that: instead of bringing the heels closer to your pelvis, bring the pelvis closer to your heels.
--to come back to standing from the grand plie, put your heels down first, feel the Achilles and calves engage, and then initiate the return by pulling in your inner thighs, not your knees.


Hope this helps! Happy and healthy dancing~

Friday, August 31, 2018

Pet peeve: don't lead with your chin

There are many ways of learning or performing a cambre forward, colloquially known as "port de bras." Cambre is more technically correct because cambre just means bend, which we can also do to the side and back.
Joy Recital by Trish Fawver, CC license
There are many ways to bend forward. Or not at all.

Too often I see dancers lead with their chins as they go toward the floor rather than turning their head to the side like they are peering under their arm. Chin-leading also can crop up in pirouettes (or its converse, chin pulling-back).

Here are my hints for a pleasing-to-the-eye and easy-on-the-body cambre:

Going forward (or en avant) -
1. As you begin the bend at the waist, keep the arm outstretched in second position so it extends away from the center of the body.
2. Turn your head toward your arm as if you are laying your cheek against a table, lining up the chin with the inside of the elbow.
3. Maintain the position of the head relative to the arm as you bend farther forward.
4. When you reach the lowest point you can go, you will be twisted so can see the side (or back) of the room.
5. At this point, gather the arm that was in second to what would be a fifth position if you were upright and feel as if you are connecting the top of your head with the palm of your hand. At this moment, you can turn your head so you face your ankles.
6. Then in one movement, reach your hand away from your body and pull yourself back to a standing position, maintaining the same head/arm alignment and space as you do so.
7. Once in an upright position, open the arm to second.

Happy dancing~

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

ALL classes as usual through the holiday weekend!

Hello beautiful local dancers!

I will be laboring for you all weekend and through Monday as well (see what I did there? ha!) so please come on in to class:

Saturday 9/1 at Inspire Dance Studio

9AM Beginner ballet
10AM Intermediate ballet
11:30AM Pointe/pre-pointe

Monday 9/3 at Inspire Dance Studio

6:30PM Intermediate ballet
8PM Beginner ballet

Patricia Ho *not* in labor...yet!

See you in class! Happy dancing~

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

ScareLA Horror Convention and Saturday sub

Hello all!

For my local dancers, I just wanted to give you a heads up that this weekend is ScareLA, the huge horror convention in DTLA that my company performs at and also has an exhibitor's booth.  This will be our 3rd year at the convention, the second hosting a booth, and we are ALWAYS thrilled to be there.

The horror community has been so kind and generous to us. They are big fans of the zombie ballerinas and they beg to get their pictures taken with them.

Even if you aren't a horror fan, the atmosphere at the convention is fun and sometimes chilling. This year the organizers are making it dark so it has more of a haunted feel rather than an office supply store. Ha!

If you are in the area and planning to attend, please stop by and see us at Booth #108A. We'll also be performing 3 times on the stages:

Saturday, August 25th:
1:15PM - Monster Stage
4PM - Scarywood Street

Sunday, August 26th:
4:30PM - Scarywood Street

We will also be doing occasional "flash mob" type performances at the Sliders Space so keep your eyes peeled for us there.

Here is more info for the schedule and what you can expect at ScareLA this year: ScareLA website

So what does this mean for my classes this weekend? Nothing! They are all happening as usual. I will be teaching my first two classes at 9AM and 10AM but my 11:30AM pointe class will be taught by my friend Carol Guidry, who is an amazing dancer and teacher. You will love her!