Pirouette Workshop July 30!

Reserve your spot

Friday, July 14, 2017

Pirouette Workshop July 30!

Hi local dancers!

It's been almost 2 years since I've held a pirouette workshop so you know this one will be packed with lots of great tips and exercises to improve your pirouettes en dehors.

Date: Sunday, July 30, 2017
Time: 2:30-4PM
Cost: $25
Limit: 15 students
Location: Inspire Dance Studio (see sidebar for address)

No matter what your level, you can always work on pirouettes, right? This workshop is 1.5 hours long and will focus on the biomechanics of turns so you can build your own toolbox and never have to rely on "luck" to get yourself around.

Purchase your spot in advance by clicking the link above and to the left under the banner of this blog. If you prefer, you can pay me directly in class but be advised the workshop is limited to 15 (actually only 12 as of this writing).

Can't wait! I love pirouette workshops!

Photo of Pierre Trudeau doing a pirouette by Charles LeBlanc

Happy dancing~

Friday, June 23, 2017

My zombie ballet on The Gong Show! June 29!

Hello friends~
The Gong Show is back! And my zombie ballet is on it!
Get out the popcorn (or set your DVR) on Thursday, June 29, 10PM, on ABC, and check out my zombies. I can't tell you if we got gonged by the celebrity judges or not - you'll just have to watch and find out.


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Yes, you may have this dance!

Some of my awesome beginner students
Recently I was reviewing the progress of a student who is fairly new to ballet (and honestly, if you haven't been dancing for a decade, you're still new in the eyes of ballet!) and I noticed that he was only now - after a few years with me - starting to make his presence known on-stage and in class.

In other words, he was giving himself permission to dance.

What does that mean - permission? We are all adults. Can't we do whatever the heck we want?

Yes and no.

We absolutely can do what we want but often there is an internal voice telling us not to. It's telling us:

You're the wrong body type.
You're too slow.
You're not smart enough.
People will think there's something wrong with you.
People will laugh at you.
Only privileged people are allowed to do that.

And for "privileged" you are welcome to insert "white, rich, thin, and female" because if we are all adults here, we need to be honest about how ballet has always been represented.

Nutcracker Party scene 2016
You all know my philosophy about ballet being for everyone and you all know I try to be as inclusive as I can with my classes and my performances and now with my company, Leigh Purtill Ballet Company. I don't need to talk more about that.

Look, you're an adult. You've decided to come to class. You bought a class card and some new slippers and tights and you've made some friends.

Now tell yourself it's okay for you to dance. In fact, it's more than okay: it's a must. You must dance. You must make your presence known in class and on stage. You must dance as big as you can be, as tall as you can stand, and as expressive as you can feel.

copyright 2016 Bill Reiss

You deserve a spot at the barre so take it and stand there and dance, damn it. Work your turnout and lift your arms and your chin and open your eyes and see that everyone in your class wants to be there too. That's the beauty of adult ballet: you all are choosing to be there. No one is forcing you. Your mom isn't dropping you off while she goes to the grocery store.

Each of you has your own story to tell - now tell it through your body. We want to hear that story.

Happy dancing~

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Update for Summer Schedule

Hello beautiful dancers!

A couple of notes for summer...

1. Memorial Day weekend - ALL classes as usual throughout the long weekend.

2. Summer subbing - on Thursday mornings, June 1-July 20, I will be subbing for Carol Guidry at Studio A in Silverlake, 10:15-11:45AM. The class will be similar in level to my Tues/Thurs evening classes. Fee is $15, cash only. (No credit card/check/class cards for these classes.)

AND Congrats to all my students who performed on Sunday!

Would you like to perform with a lovely group of dancers? Save the Date for Nutcracker: 11/19!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

A Trio of Tips for Thursday!

Not one but 3! No matter what level you are, I have a helpful dance tip for you!

1. Beginner:

Promenade - one of the biggest errors I see in students attempting promenade (which is a series of small heel lifts to turn in place and can be executed in arabesque, attitude, retire, etc.) is that they begin the movement with their hips, knees or shoulders. 

The very first thing you do to begin a promenade is to lift the heel. There should be no weight at the back of the foot during promenade or else you will find yourself rocking back and forth and eventually falling off your leg. Unless otherwise choreographed, you should keep a very straight support leg with knees pulled up by your quads and hamstrings. As you turn in place, do not allow the support leg to bend or the knee to go soft. Maintain the position you are turning in by lifting and lowering the heel by about 1/4" or 1/2" but not usually more than that.

2. Intermediate:

Pirouette arms - in my ongoing quest to dissect and diagnose pirouettes and to offer guidance to students who struggle, I would have to say the #1 problem I see is the arms are not held in front of the body for the entire turn. Whatever position you are taught (a classic first position, a higher first position, a portrait style low first position, crossed arms, etc.) you must keep them in front of you until you finish the turn and roll down.

Pirouette anxiety, whether you are working flat or en pointe, usually causes us to pull back with our upper body. We fear falling which often makes us collapse in our centers. Our shoulders slump or roll and our arms droop or get left behind during the turn. Some of us fling our arms open to second long before the turn is completed.

Instead, try to bring the arms very quickly to your first position as you push up to releve and hold them there! Don't let them open or drop until you have completed the turn and can see yourself in the mirror in retire before you open the arms and roll down. I can virtually guarantee you that your turns will improve if you do this.

3: Advanced:

Finishing the lines - some of the most beautiful things in ballet are the lines that are created on stage. For example, an arabesque does not need to be higher than ninety degrees to be gorgeous but it does need to be finished. Same with arms: they may swirl and swish through the air but when they are posed, they must be finished with fingers extended and elbows lifted. How many times have you been in the audience and gasped at the stunning lines of professional ballerinas? They know how to get very last inch out of their legs and arms.

You can too! But you must focus on arching the top and bottom of your foot, reaching through your back to the palms and fingers of your hands, lengthening the back of your neck and holding a strong core. When you practice these things at the barre (rather than simply flinging your arms and feet away from you), you will have beautiful lines in the center. Your movements will be complete and you will avoid that weird strobe effect that you see on stage. If you are in the corps, you absolutely must finish your lines or you will look out of sync with the other dancers.

Hope these tips help you! Happy dancing~