Spring Recital Participation Fee

Spring Recital Participation Fee

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

New floors at Inspire

For all my beautiful local dancers, here are some photos from the studio last night. The floors in Studios 1 and 2 (2 is where I teach) have been quadruple sprung and covered with medium gray marley.

If you're thinking about coming to take class with me, I hope these photos will encourage you!

If you're not familiar with sprung floors, construction begins with a basket weave of plywood that is layered so there is space between them and a lot of "give." The number of layers at Inspire is 4 which means it's got a nice give without too much bounce. It is this space and give that helps you jump properly and gives you enough height to roll through your feet. It also is more gentle on your joints: knees, ankles and back.

On top of the plywood is a layer of vinyl flooring called marley. It comes in different thicknesses and slicknesses. Some versions of marley are very light gray and shiny while others are close to black and more matte. The texture is slightly different for each and will result in a different amount of friction under your feet. Super slick is not very good for ballet or bare feet, for instance, but quite good for ballroom. The dark matte gray is good for bare feet, not bad for slippers. The medium gray is good for all, especially pointe.

Last night was the first night the new floors were down at Inspire. The marley will level out as it settles. Here are a few pictures from my classes:


I wish I could have gotten them in motion so you could see the difference during jumping and turning! Happy dancing~

Friday, February 3, 2017

Be Big!

My beautiful dancers, it's not easy looking in the mirror when you're in the studio. I mean, let's face it, when most people go to work out, they aren't surrounded by their reflections. Sure, they might catch a glimpse of themselves sweating behind a weight machine or in the locker room after a shower but if you go to yoga or out for a jog, you're not going to see your body reflected back a million times and from all angles.

I'm with you. Believe me. Fortunately I have perfected the art of looking in a mirror without actually seeing myself. I see you and I see movement but that's it. I focus on the ballet not the bodies.

Which is why it sometimes makes it hard to dance bigger. If we are feeling self-conscious for some reason (our hair looks bad, we forgot makeup, the shirt clings too much), we make ourselves physically smaller. We pull our arms in, often by the elbows, and our centers collapse. Chins droop to the chest, shoulders round forward and pretty soon there are no lines or shapes moving in the space but messy blobs.

It's actually harder to dance when you make yourself inconspicuous!

When you avoid the mirror, you also have a tendency to put your body in the wrong alignment for poses and turns, etc. By not looking at yourself (or that direction), you cut off the correct epaulement. You are not truly croise or efface; you skip ecarte and peer over with your eyes rather than your head. And when you turn, you don't spot because you are afraid to look.

The cumulative effect of dancing inside the box for yourself is that you never truly dance. You never fully move and express yourself. The lovely lines we work so hard at the barre are lost when you come to center and that's a shame. The center is the time to put all of that work to good use! Show it off!

"For whom?" you ask.

Well, me! Show it off to me!

And to yourselves. Don't be afraid to put yourself out there in a combination. You may not have a goal of performing on stage but that doesn't mean you can't perform in class.

My TL:DR advice?

1. Stand up straight; pull up through your spine and all the way to the top of your head and bottom of your feet.
2. When arms are en haut, make sure they are truly over your head and not merely in front of your eyes.
3. Look in the mirror at the audience, not yourself. If that's frightening, think of it as "downstage."
4. Take up more room. Don't worry, you won't hit anyone else. Be bold and as tall as you can.
5. Dance fully. When it's your turn, don't mark it or hobble off stage if you make a mistake. Own it.
6. Smile to yourself. Enjoy the music and the movement and know that you're creating art with every step you take. No one else can dance exactly the way you do.

Happy dancing!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Nobody's Perfect! How to Take Corrections

Got a goal for the new year? I do! It's to perform consistent triple pirouettes. Maybe yours is to get on stage or to dance en pointe or to take an extra class each week. Whatever it is, you probably want to improve something about your dancing or technique. In order to do that, you'll probably need guidance.

No matter how experienced you are, there is always room to improve. Even professionals who have danced their entire lives have coaches, especially for specific roles they've been cast in. There is nuance and shading to a character, a little more oomph to eke out of an arabesque, or new ways of connecting with a partner.

George Balanchine giving a correction to a student.

But for many beginning dancers, corrections are often the kind of attention they think they don't want. They may not realize it's a good thing to be noticed when they're doing something wrong. So here are a few suggestions on how to take corrections when they are offered by a teacher:

1. Understand that a correction is a sign you have potential to improve. 
Talk to any teacher, whether it's dance or an academic subject, and they will tell you they spend more time with students they believe have the ability to improve. No one wants to give time and attention to a student who will ignore it.

2. Try to stay "in the moment" when you are receiving the correction.
If it's at the barre or center and the teacher has stopped the combination to address a correction on you, focus on the words she's saying rather than the message in your head ("Oh my god, everyone's looking at me!"). No one is judging you. In fact, they want to be in your place, getting the correction. And if you have an instructor who delivers corrections in a harsh tone, understand that your fellow dancers are all looking on with empathy.

3. If you are asked to repeat a step with the given correction, it's okay if you can't replicate it perfectly. 
Teachers want to see the correction on you to see if it works for you. If it doesn't work for you, then they will want to adjust the correction for you. If it will work but you haven't quite grasped it, they will keep an eye on that for future reference.

4. If you are being given a correction during class, that is not the time to argue or to question.
A correction is not an invitation to a dialogue. I give corrections three ways: 1) during a combination at the barre, I will make a personal adjustment on your body and then move on; 2) between combinations at the barre, I may use a student as an example to show a correction to everyone; and 3) during center, I may pull someone aside when they are between groups. In every one of those instances, my goal is to get the class moving again. I don't want to stop and have a discussion that will disrupt the flow. If you are given a correction during class that you just don't understand, it's okay to ask the teacher after class if she has time for clarification. If she doesn't, respect her time and ask if she could address the correction to the group next time in class.

5. After class, make a mental note of the correction you were given so you'll remember for next time.
Young children are encouraged to keep journals of corrections so they can see if they are given the same ones over and over again. The act of writing them down also helps to imprint them on their brains. You don't need to write them down, but it will definitely help you for next time if you take a moment to stop and recall what the teacher said to you.

6. Understand that a correction may take months or years to work for you.
There are corrections I can remember from a dozen years ago, from various teachers who saw something in me and offered guidance, but I wasn't in a place to take it in and apply it properly. You may hear a correction from a teacher today that you can't make work but in a month or three, you will suddenly have an "a-ha!" moment and realize what she meant.

7. Finally, no matter what your level, you can learn from every single correction that is given to another student.

And to those students who do not wish to receive corrections, it's okay to tell your teacher that in advance of class. For whatever reason, you may not wish to participate in class in that manner. Be polite and explain why and your teacher will understand. The worst thing for a teacher is to have her corrections ignored. That's when I stop giving them to a student. 

Happy dancing~

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Nutcracker + Holiday classes + New class time!

Welcome to the holidays, beautiful dancers! 

It's that time of year when days and hours and weeks slip by and you wonder if you got anything accomplished at all. Currently my living room is in such a state of disarray that I can barely walk through it (and neither can the dog!) but I know it will eventually pull together and look like a Christmas tree.

So I know how it is when you have the best of intentions of getting to ballet class but then there's a work event or a friend is having cocktails or you need to get to the store to get those gifts for the in-laws. A week or two go by and you suddenly say, "Hey, I didn't get to ballet class!"

Don't feel bad! It happens to all of us. Remember that ballet class is something you do for yourself. It makes you feel better. It reminds you of what is beautiful. It gives you an hour and a half of peace, if nothing else. So if you can squeeze in a class, it might make the hustle and bustle of the season a little more tolerable.

And what better way to feel good than to take a special holiday-themed class? That's right! This year, you'll have 2 chances to take a fun ballet class with me:

Saturday, December 24, Christmas Eve morning:
9AM - Beginner Ballet
10AM- Intermediate Ballet
11:30AM - Pointe

Saturday, December 31, New Year's Eve morning:
9AM - Beginner Ballet
10AM- Intermediate Ballet
11:30AM - Pointe

All classes with special holiday music! All are at the Inspire Dance Studio in La Canada. If you don't know where that is, see the sidebar for address and directions. I hope you can make it!

New Class Time - starting in January!!

Next month, my Tuesday Advanced Beginner ballet class at Dance Arts Academy will begin at a new time:


Mark your calendars! I have heard from lots of students that the 6:30 start time was a real challenge to get to. LA traffic can be a nightmare and unpredictable. I hope this extra 30 minute buffer means you don't need to stress out about getting to class on time and you won't have to leave work early to get there.

Nutcracker Pics!!

This year my dancers performed with Classical Ballet Theater at the Norris Theater in Palos Verdes. It is a beautiful theater with a huge stage and great seating. We loved performing there and CBT's owner, Kotomi, was so kind and generous to invite us as their guest artists. We hope to be dancing with them again in the spring (mark your calendars for May 21!).

Here are a few photos from the show. Maybe you'll dance with us next time!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

PSA: Never run backwards!

Very few things in ballet are absolute. There are a million ways to approach pirouettes en dehors. Different schools teach arabesques with conflicting arms. One dancer's pas de chat is another's saut de chat.


Never EVER EVER run backwards in a class.

Unless you are performing choreography, you should always move in the direction of the combination. Typically this means exiting downstage and to the right or left.

But why, I hear you asking...

Because the group coming behind you isn't expecting you to run at them. You might get in their way or worse, injured if they can't avoid you. You will probably also get cursed at.

But what if the combination doesn't travel much, I hear you add...

Because the group coming behind you isn't expecting you to run at them. You might get in their way or worse, injured if they can't avoid you. You will probably also get cursed at.

But I messed up the first few steps and I'm soooo close to the back, I hear you insist...

Because the group coming behind you isn't expecting you to run at them. You might get in their way or worse, injured if they can't avoid you. You will probably also get cursed at.


No. Just don't. It's very poor classroom etiquette. People won't like you. They'll complain about you to their friends. They might actually kick you if you're in their way. So don't do it.

I wish I could say this is something I see only in beginner classes but it's in advanced classes too. When I am teaching, you better believe I stop the class and say, "No! Don't do that!" In a nice way, of course. 

When I am not teaching, however, all I can do is telepathically send a message to the dancer who is running back through the group coming up next. No!!!! 

Happy dancing~