Monday, June 29, 2020

Zoom classes begin July 1!

Hello beautiful dancers!

On Wed July 1, I will start teaching on Zoom so we can begin to transition back to classes. The Zoom schedule will be as follows:

Sunday 11AM-12:15PM Open level technique
Sunday 12:15-1:30PM Pointe
Monday 6:45-8PM Open level technique
Tuesday 6:45-8PM Open level technique
Wednesday 6:45-8PM Open level technique
Thursday 6:45-8PM Open level technique
Saturday 9:30-10:45AM Open level technique

Payment for classes: I will be converting ALL paper cards to e-cards. Each of you will receive credit for any remaining classes you have on your cards (e.g. 2 classes left on a 10-class card is worth $31). Please send me a photo of your card so I can give you proper credit. If I have your card, I will do it for you. The credit will be associated with your preferred email address so be sure to tell me which one you want to use; you can use your credit to purchase a class whenever you sign up for it. Your balance will adjust each time you purchase a class.

Each Zoom class is $15 and will be limited to 10 students. To attend a class, simply go to my class page on my website, select the class you want to attend and reserve your spot. You only need to fill in your name and email and pay for the class. A reminder and Zoom link will be emailed to you. When we return to in-studio classes, we will continue to do everything online and with reserved spots.

I will also continue teaching a free livestream class on Fridays at 11AM on YouTube. If you have any questions, just let me know!As with everything during this pandemic, we need to be flexible!

Thank you all so much for your support and willingness to try new things in new ways!

Monday, June 22, 2020

LPBC "Hotel at the End of the Universe" watch party!

Hello beautiful dancers and friends!

This coming Saturday, June 27th, my nonprofit ballet company will be hosting 2 video premieres of our original ballet, "Hotel at the End of the Universe," on our YouTube channel. Members of the company and I will be chatting live with everyone during each show. We hope you can join us for this free event, hang out with us virtually, and enjoy our time-traveling ballet.

Design by LPBC member Bill Reiss

The hour-long HOTEL was performed at the Colony Theatre in Burbank, CA on June 29th, 2019 so this weekend's event will mark its one year anniversary and the first time we will be showing it to a non-theatrical audience. We're very excited to bring it to you!

The video was filmed and edited by Vic Mendoza of Vicscover Art Productions. Additional footage was filmed and edited by Raul Paredes of Rawl of the Dead.

5PM PT (8PM ET) Premiere -

8PM PT (11PM ET) Premiere -

I'm also super excited to tell you about a menu created by Wendy Pan, one of our company members who performed in the show and a tremendous chef. For each dance in HOTEL, Wendy designed a dish that you can enjoy at home!

Follow my company on Instagram or Facebook to see her pictures and get the recipes for yourselves.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Are you ready to return to the studio?

It's been several months of lockdown for most dancers and depending on where you live, you may already be back in your old studio or will be very soon.

For my students, it looks like Inspire Dance Studio, where I rent space for my classes, will be opening its doors to renters by the end of June. As of this writing, assuming all goes well in LA County, I will open a few of my classes by mid-July.

So with just about one month until you can get into class, are you ready?

Many of you will answer with a resounding Yes! while others are taking a more cautious approach. Both are understandable after a long period of time away. The considerations are greater than they might have been back in March when we didn't know as much about COVID-19. I can't speak to your personal choice or your family and work situations but I can address your physical preparedness.

No matter how diligent we have been at home, we don't get the same effect from taking a class virtually versus in-person. Here are a few things to be aware of:

  • Flooring can be uneven which means balance can be off.
  • Non-sprung floor means you can't practice jumps; you can also lose speed and clarity in fast footwork.
  • Lack of jumps means loss of cardio fitness, quad and glute strength and core engagement.
  • Slick surface means you may not have been practicing turns or working en pointe.
  • Without a proper barre, you may be hiking up your elbow or shoulder, gripping the surface or falling.
  • If your space is cramped, you might not be doing anything full out.
  • Prolonged sitting means loss of glute strength and hamstring flexibility which translates to loss of leg extension.

And now some things you'll want to be mindful of when you return:

  • Do NOT expect you can jump as high or as far.
  • Do NOT expect to not get winded.
  • Do NOT expect to be able to do everything the same way you did before.
  • Do NOT become upset when you can't perform a single pirouette.
  • DO expect your arms/neck/legs to get tired.
  • DO expect your feet to cramp.
  • DO expect your inner thighs to shake.
  • DO expect your eyesight to feel funny in a room full of mirrors and with other people.

MANAGE your expectations of yourself, your classmates and your teacher.

TAKE your time getting back into things.

ENCOURAGE yourself and others to keep going.

Dancers who have been following my livestream each day will have been introduced to some strengthening exercises I do: rises on one leg in parallel, small jumps in 2nd/1st/5th, wall squats and spring lunges. Are they exciting? Nope. They're boring. Do they give you big muscles? Nope. They're designed to maintain.

I would suggest you start thinking about your return from a safety point of view, not merely the hygiene protocols we will all follow but your physical health as a dancer. You can improve cardio with short jogs or swimming and you can take stock of what you haven't been able to continue with.

Now is NOT the time to judge yourself about what you have or have not been doing at home. Even if you had the most perfect home studio, plenty of time to yourself to take class, and no financial or emotional burdens, you might still have been unable to commit to keeping up your technique. That's okay. You will get back to it slowly; we all will.

Can't wait to see you all in class again! Happy dancing~

Friday, May 15, 2020

I've been home for 2 months - now what? Student Edition!

"It's just for a week. Or two. That's it. A couple of weeks."

"They'll fly by! It will be April before we know it and then we'll be back in the studio and dancing with our friends."

And then it was April and we realized, uh-oh, this is going to be much longer than 2 weeks...

Courtesy Denise Krebs, CC Lic

As dancers, we discovered the joy of connecting with other dancers around the world, of taking classes with French teachers and Russian ballerinas, of trying hip-hop and contemporary and Zumba and yoga. Look at all these classes online! Look at all the dancers in their kitchens! Look at all the--

Oops! Look out for the lamp! And the dog!

It was fun for a month or so as we adjusted to a new way of training at home. We built our home studios and we set aside quiet time for ourselves (if we could) and closed the door (if we could) and tried to put our minds back into the studio while our bodies were stuffed into a corner of a living room or perched on the chair in the kitchen nook.

And then reality set in. Oh we thought we were in a new reality but this was the real reality. The reality that we weren't with our friends and our teachers; we weren't getting corrections like we were used to getting; we weren't really training.

We were just...trying really really hard to not kick the dog or smack our hand on the lamp. (I personally have done both many times.)

So right around the 2 month mark, true frustration has set in. Enough of the experimentation with all things new and different! Give us the same old stuff!

We might be in this place for a while longer, depending on where you live. You might go back to your work place but the dance studio will still be closed, which means you're in your home studio for a bit longer. Okay...let's be honest about what you can work on at home. Here is some advice I have for you, as both the teacher who wants to see you mentally healthy and physically able to get back to the regular class and the student who is also stuck at home.

First of all, focus on one thing at a time. Consider each class in your home as an opportunity to work on a step or an arm or a head, etc. You won't have this chance again in the future, unless you do private lessons.

Some things you could focus on:

1. Balance - practice flat or releve, with foot in cou de pied or retire or attitude
2. Stability - practice promenade in any position; developpe; shifting from fourth position to retire as in a pirouette en dehors
3. Port de bras - practice moving through the space and feeling the 3-dimensionality of your hand and fingers tracing the arc in the air
4. Epaulement - practice tilting the head, opening the chest, lifting the sternum and collarbones, rotating the shoulder
5. Calf strength - releves on one leg with the barre and without, use your Theraband with releves in first position

Second, use the rewind button - a lot. If you're not doing a live class, go ahead and hit the back button on a particularly challenging step or a complex combination. Watch it over and over again, study the teacher, and copy it as best you can. When will you ever be able to do that in real life?

Hint: learn new vocabulary by watching a more advanced class and studying the steps and hearing the words.

Third, spend this time to work on muscle memory. Most likely you don't have a kitchen with mirrors so you are doing this on your own. Take this time to feel the movement and get it into your body.

Hint: if you have a small portable mirror, place it somewhere that you can see to check a correct position and then feel what that looks like in your body.

Fourth, practice choreography. This sounds impossible, I know. You're at home with very little room and no mirrors. How can you possibly practice choreography? I would argue this is the perfect time to do it. We rely so much on mirrors and other people that sometimes we don't even pay attention, let alone learn the choreography. So why not use this opportunity to focus on picking things up?

How do you do that? The number one thing to know about learning choreography is that it's different for every person. When I was studying pedagogy in college, the most valuable thing I learned was about how people learn. Some dancers need music, some need to see the combination. Some need the names of the steps or the counts. Do you know how you learn best? Well, why not find out now!

Some hints:

1. Repetition
2. Break a combination up into small chunks
3. Say the names of the steps
4. Count out the music
5. Listen to the music
6. Video yourself doing the combination and then watch it!

Fifth, cross-train.

~Do you have a pool? Swimming builds shoulder and back muscles and increases stamina.
~Do you enjoy walking or running? Put on your sneakers and walk or jog a few times a week for cardio benefits and leg strength.
~Is your town open to hiking? Enjoy nature while you're climbing a hill.
~Yoga and Pilates mat classes are also online and a great way to work in parallel and build core muscles.
~Lift weights if you have them or use objects that can simulate weights.
~Ride a bike, stationary or an actual bike.

Sixth, read. That's right: read. There are a ton of great dance books out there, both fiction and non-fiction (contact me if you need some titles or visit Dance Advantage for my reviews). If you're just not feeling the love of ballet right now because it's just too darn hard to negotiate for space in your home or you're finding it hard to be motivated, you might enjoy reading something that will inspire you or comfort you or educate you. Learn new vocabulary or dance history; check out a memoir of a famous or not-so-famous dancer. Study up on the big ballets and their composers - or choreographers - or costume designers.

Don't despair. We'll get through this.

Whatever you do, know that you are not alone.
As with all social media, what we see may not be what is.
Other dancers may appear to be doing ALL THE THINGS but they're not.
Or maybe they are.
But what does that matter? You are you.
And we are dancers.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Dancers in Quarantine: Mental Health

Hello beautiful dancers!

It's no secret that dancers need to move. It's in our DNA! It's how we communicate with others, how we express our feelings, how we connect to the universe. When we find ourselves locked down in one place, it's not just physically stifling, it's mentally claustrophobic.

If you've suffered from anxiety or depression in the past, it wouldn't be uncommon to feel that now in quarantine. There are so many things that can trigger these feelings and others. When we don't have our usual forms of outlet, both physical and creative, we can panic. We might worry that we will never dance in a studio again. We might never perform again. We might never see our friends again.

As days stretch to weeks and into months, it's a challenge to navigate all the many emotions. Knowing how difficult this can be, I consulted with two of my LPBC company members who are also licensed psychotherapists: Laila Madni, Psy.D. and Cyla Fisk, LMFT.

Laila and Cyla created the slideshow below to help dancers (and anyone else!) in this challenging time. We all hope it helps you or someone you know. Consider it advice from dancers to dancers. Please remember that if you need help, extend those beautiful fingers of yours, open your graceful arms, and reach out.

Dancers support dancers.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month