Monday, November 6, 2017

Holiday event & book launch for Nutcracked by Susan Adrian


For my local students and their families!
On Sunday, November 12th, Jennifer Ward, the owner of my favorite dance shop, Priscilla's Dancewear in Montrose, will host a delightful holiday party for kids and their parents which will include an appearance by Susan Adrian, the author of NUTCRACKED, a charming book for kids. She'll be on hand to talk about her life as a dancer, to offer some advice to young dancers and to sign copies of her book (makes a great gift!).
The Montrose area is a lovely little town with coffee shops and bookstores and lots of locally-owned businesses. It's a great place to do a pre-holiday shopping trip, before or after the fun event at Priscilla's. 
To give you a taste of what's to come at the party, I asked Susan Adrian to share a bit about herself and what her book is all about. Thanks so much, Susan!
Nutcracker Life
By Susan Adrian
I first saw The Nutcracker when I was 7 years old. I watched the big tree grow and grow on stage, lit by Clara's single candle, to Tchaikovsky's haunting score, and I was absolutely entranced. I wanted to be part of that magic so badly. I told my mother after the show that I wanted to be Clara.
I got ballet lessons for Christmas that year.
I worked hard at the small local studio. When I was 10 I auditioned for The Nutcracker with the Sacramento Ballet, the same company I'd seen. I got the part of a second-cast Marshmallow Child. That Christmas I got lessons at the Sacramento Ballet Company, 45 minutes each way.
The next year I got Party Child, second cast. The third year I got Party Child first cast, and a lamb in the Shepherdess dance. The next year, when I was 13, I got to be Clara, in the same theater I'd watched it.
I have a vivid memory of being in a performance, in my nightgown with my single candle, with mice lurking behind me around the stage. A little kid in the audience called out clearly, "Watch out, Clara!" That was the dream come true. I was making the magic real for others now.
Years later, I don't dance anymore, but I found another way to make Nutcracker magic real for kids. I wrote a book about being Clara in The Nutcracker, being 12 or 13, and having to balance that with the rest of your life, your family and friendships…but now there's real, more tangible magic too. This Clara—Georgie—gets drawn into the Nutcracker's world every time she dances with her company's antique Nutcracker. The Nutcracker is in real danger, and now it's trickling through to her real life too. Georgie has to save everyone while still keeping up with rehearsals.
NUTCRACKED has magic, ballet, family, and friendship struggles and successes. For me, it's a full circle. I'm just living my Nutcracker dream in a different way now.  

Friday, November 3, 2017

Time change? Change the time!

Hello local students!

This weekend we Fall Back but this Thursday, we will Spring Forward!

Thursday Advanced Beginner Ballet will now begin at 7PM

Just like my Tuesday Advanced Beginner class runs from 7-8:30PM at Dance Arts Academy, so too will its Thursday counterpart, starting November 9th. We will even be moving into the same studio (studio D) as the Tuesday class so it will be like we never left...(cue spooky Halloween music).

Tbh, it's always bothered me that the 2 classes started a half hour apart - how confusing is that for a new student? How confusing is that for the old teacher? Seriously, though, I wanted to make it easier for people to attend if they were coming from work. It's a bit rushed to get to class by 6:30PM, especially if you are in crosstown traffic or are looking for a parking space. This gives you just a bit more time to get to class - so NO EXCUSES! Get to class!


To recap for the TL:DR crowd:

Advanced Beginner Ballet
Tuesdays & Thursdays, 7-8:30PM
Dance Arts Academy
731 South La Brea Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90036

See you in class! And don't forget to change your clocks! Happy dancing~

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Meet Becca Duberman, founder of Footloose

For my very first interview, I think it's fitting that it be someone I have tremendous admiration for, a young woman named Becca Duberman who is the founder of a nonprofit organization called Footloose that collects gently-used dance shoes and distributes them throughout the country to dancers in need. I emphasize "young" because Becca founded this organization while she was in high school and currently she is still in college. Wow! Such an impressive accomplishment at a young age!

I am very fortunate to have met Becca through a mutual friend online and she was gracious enough to profile me on her website's Health and Wellness blog (here is the post if you didn't see it earlier). Of course I wanted to know more about her! So let's get to chatting!

Meet Becca!



Leigh: Welcome, Becca! Could you tell me a bit about your background, perhaps something more than what is listed on your site? I'd love to know where you grew up.

Becca: I am a Junior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison majoring in Management & Human
Resources with a Healthcare Management minor in the School of Business. I became passionate
about business through my work for Footloose. I love working with my ambassadors and running a non-profit organization. I am originally from New Jersey and I attended Livingston High School.

An east coast girl! Can you tell me about your dance experience? 

Throughout my childhood I took dance classes at Michele’s Dance Studio in Livingston, New Jersey. I started when I was 2 years old and continued throughout high school. I danced competitively through Michele’s Dance Studio beginning at age 10. I danced competitively in Jazz and Lyrical while also taking ballet Classes.

Do you have dance aspirations aside from your philanthropy?

While I don’t formally dance now, my love for dance and the positive impact it has on self confidence, self image, and motivation is reflected in the work of Footloose. Footloose is my way to give back to the dance community that has given me so much joy throughout my childhood.

Was there a specific moment that inspired you to start your nonprofit? 

One summer as I was cleaning out my closet of old dance shoes, I was struck by the memories each pair brought to mind -- - the friends I made, the competitions we won and lost, the dances we learned -- - and felt so fortunate for all that dance taught me. That year, as we were once again buying new shoes for my classes at Michele’s Dance Studio I had an idea. Every year the parents would buy their children new dance shoes, in many different styles, because our feet were growing so quickly. I noticed the high price of the shoes. I started to question the availability of shoes to those children’s families who could not afford to buy new ones every year. Upon researching organizations that collected dance shoes, I could not find one that was in close proximity to me. So, I decided to start a shoe drive of my own, Footloose.

(courtesy Footloose website)

This seems like such a perfect idea for a charitable organization! Are there other organizations that do this? 

I did research and contact other organizations before starting my own, however there were none that were near my location. Once starting my own drive, I wanted to build it large enough that other inspired teens, like myself, could start their own dance shoe drive in their area. Not only would this inspire other dance students to give back to those less fortunate, but it would expand Footloose. I believe the ambassador program differentiates Footloose. Also, we are a registered 501C3, so we can accept monetary donations.

Logistically, this must take a lot of organizing. How does it work?

Footloose has various drop-box locations around the United States. These locations are run by a Footloose ambassador who is in charge of collecting, sorting, and ultimately sending the shoes to an organization or company in need. Once the ambassadors are done with their drive, they contact me. I have a list of organizations that are in need of shoe donations. These organizations have either solicited donations directly or I have found them by my own research.

You mentioned the Ambassadors (your teen activists). What is their role?

Below is the Ambassador process:
--Customize our Footloose shoe drive flyer to meet your needs.
--Distribute the flyer to local schools, shopping malls, etc., and post on your website and other social media outlets.
--Set up a donation box at your dancewear company for donors to leave their gently used shoes.
--Keep a tally of the number and types of shoes you collect.
--When you complete your drive, contact me via email, with a tally and we will supply you with the mailing address for the recipient.
--Ship the shoes.

Have you reached out to the big shoe companies about donating shoes?

Yes, we have partnered with Capezio and Freed of London in the past, who has donated a bunch of dance shoes in various styles and we are very grateful for their contribution.

Wow! Congratulations on that! What do see for your organization's future? 

Recently, Footloose launched the Health and Wellness blog where it shares interviews of avid dancers who have shared how dance has shaped their well-being and impacted their wellness. I hope that this blog will spread the positive aspects dance has on one’s health and well-being. I also hope that Footloose will continue to make dreams come true one step at a time.

I recently started my own nonprofit so I know there are lots of challenges ahead. Based on your experience as a philanthropist for the past seven years, what advice can you offer others who would like to do something similar? 

My advice to others who want to start their own organization is to choose a cause that you are passionate about. It makes it that much more meaningful when you are impacting other’s lives by allowing them to do something that they, as well as you, love. I would warn those to know that there will be times when it seems very hectic and you will feel like giving up, but knowing that you are impacting other’s lives makes it worth the stressful times.

Anyone who knows me knows I'm all about bringing more dancers into the community. Is there anything in the dance world you would like to see changed in regards to inclusivity of all dancers? 

For one, I would encourage schools to offer dance as a part of their physical education requirements. Secondly, I am encouraged to see so many dance studios opening their doors to offer free classes to those who can’t afford to pay the tuition. Thirdly, there are many great free tutorials available on YouTube and the Internet that can be located via a search engine. Lastly, dance is a form of self expression that can be practiced anywhere at any time. I would encourage students to let themselves feel the music and JUST DANCE!

(courtesy Footloose website)
Becca, thank you SO MUCH for answering my questions and providing us with more information about what you do and who you are. It's always encouraging to put a face to an online presence!

Readers! If YOU would like to be involved, either donating shoes or money, being an Ambassador, or simply spreading the word about Footloose, please visit the website, or contact Becca directly through her email, becca.duberman@yahoo.com.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Tickets available now for Nutcracker 2017!

Are we the first Nutcracker of the 2017 season? I think we can claim that distinction!

Come see my dancers perform with the students of Classical Ballet Theater at the beautiful Norris Theater in Rancho Palos Verdes on Sunday, November 19. Shows are at 1PM and 4PM. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for kids. Available now through the Norris Theater box office:

Nutcracker tickets for Leigh Purtill Ballet & Classical Ballet Theater


Thursday, October 19, 2017

Catching up!

Happy Autumn!

My favorite time of year: Halloween and dried leaves on the sidewalk and 90 degree weather.

Oh that's just us in Southern California!

I wanted to catch you all up on some fun things that have been going on.

First of all, my ballet company's debut performance was on October 8 at the Lanterman Auditorium. It was the world premiere of my original full-length ballet, Sweet Sorrow, A Zombie Ballet and it was amazing! I am so incredibly proud of all of my dancers and I am thrilled with how the show turned out, from costumes to lighting to set design to program design. Everything was so professional!

For those of you who wanted to make it but couldn't, here is a promo reel to tide you over until next year:


Doesn't that make you want to see the whole thing?

Next I have a couple of fun article links, both about my company and interviews with me:

The Advocate article about Sweet Sorrow A Zombie Ballet

And

Footloose Mission Health and Wellness Blog

I am so honored to be profiled and to have my company featured on both of these sites.

So now that all of that is over for another year, we can take a break, yes? No!

Bring on Nutcracker! 

That's right, I'm preparing my brain for a Waltz of the Flowers invasion (I use a short version but it just sticks in my brain no matter how long it is!). We perform with Classical Ballet Theater at the Norris Theater in Palos Verdes, CA. It's a gorgeous stage and there is balcony seating, so classic and classy. We have a great time with Kotomi's students and we enjoy the camaraderie with her young students. We will be performing two matinees on Sunday, November 19, at 1PM and 4PM. Tickets will go on sale soon and I'll post the link.

Whew! Happy dancing, everyone~