Monday, February 1, 2021

February Newsletter!



February 2021 schedule

All classes in session as scheduled (view here). Please sign up online here.

Outdoor class at Inspire on Saturdays 12-1PM. Sign-up in advance; limited to 6.

Valentine's Day Easy Online Partnering Workshop!
Sunday, February 14, 5-6PM PST - No ballet experience necessary for your partner. It will help if you know arabesque, attitude and sousous. Only $20 for you and your partner. Sign up here.

BONUS CLASS! Add on a 30 minute Easy Basic Barre at 4:30PM PST - held right before the workshop, only $10 for you and your partner. See image to right for where to sign up on the page.

Access to YouTube video archives

Beginner/Intermediate with Pre-pointe playlist is available! Link will be valid from 1/1/21 through 6/30/21.

New Friday playlist includes November & December 2020 videos and will be valid through 6/30/21. VISIT my website for more information!



Company Member Spotlight!
The newest video in our ongoing series on our YouTube channel, Company Spotlights created by Alexes Ciardi, is an interview with company member Gina Buccolo.  Click the photo to the right and be sure to subscribe to our channel to see more in the series!

Did you get your 2020 Company t-shirt? Every purchase helps support the company plus you look super cool in it! Design is by company member and artist Bill Reiss. We will do a group order so get to our website and place your order before FEBRUARY 22! Below Megan and Laila show off the long sleeve shirt. Both say the cotton is soft and fits as expected (comfy but not too roomy).

And below are Samantha in a short sleeve and Jen in a tank. All styles look great!

Monday, January 18, 2021

Want to join a ballet company? Join LPBC!

Hello beautiful dancers! 

Whether you're local to Los Angeles or live outside the area, we'd like to invite you to apply to be a member of the nonprofit amateur adult ballet company, Leigh Purtill Ballet Company. 

In 2021, we believe we will be doing rehearsals and performances over Zoom, perhaps some outdoors and in person, maybe a hybrid show where dancers perform both in-person and outdoors as well as over Zoom. We require that dancers who want to perform attend regular classes and keep up their technique and to attend quarterly company meetings virtually. They will also be asked to assist in promotion and outreach. For remote members, this might mean helping with social media, involving their local dance community, encouraging local fans and dancers to attend a virtual event/donate; outreach might look like contacting certain communities in their local areas to invite them to participate in a virtual workshop of some kind.

We are excited about the wonderful opportunities we have in reaching out to audiences and dancers in other parts of our country and globally! Our company thrives on the innovations and ideas members bring to us.
We believe we can create a community of dancers 
that extends beyond physical location.

If this is something you'd like to be part of, please click through, fill out the form and provide a video by January 31, 2021.

Happy dancing, everyone~

Thursday, December 31, 2020

First newsletter of 2021! Welcome to the New Year!


Blossom is a fun barre mate but I will be happy to return to the studio!

January 2021 schedule

HAPPY NEW YEAR, BEAUTIFUL DANCERS! All classes in session as scheduled (view here). Please sign up online here.

ALSO! Outdoor class at Inspire is now on the regular schedule! Saturdays 12-1PM. Sign-up in advance; limited to 6.

Coming soon: A second Easy Basic Partnering Workshop & Spring Break Online Intensive!
Did you miss the first partnering workshop? No worries! We're doing another one in January (either Saturday 1/23 or Sunday 1/24 - email me which date you prefer!). Here's a little tease of what we did last time: Blossom & Mo & Me!

ALSO! I'm planning a Spring Break Online Intensive in mid-February! Stay tuned and contact me if you're interested...

Access to YouTube video archives

A new Beginner/Intermediate with Pre-pointe playlist is now available! The link will be valid from 1/1/21 through 6/30/21.

ALSO! A new Friday playlist is available! It includes November & December 2020 videos and will be valid through 6/30/21. VISIT my website for more information!


Extra fun!

On January 2nd at 2:30PM PST/5:30PM EST, I will be hosting an online book launch party for Terez Mertes Rose, a former dancer whose newest novel, BALLET ORPHANS, is now available. Because the story is set in 1989, we'll be doing an 80s theme with costumes, a trivia game, readings from the book and a mini-class with 80s music taught by me! It's FREE and open to ALL!

ALSO! Terez will be giving away lots of AMAZING prizes! (Did I mention it's free?) Sign-up in advance here and read more about the book on Terez's blog. Or check out my review of the book for Dance Advantage.

A TEASE of a video to come!
"A Taste of Nutcracker" is a mini-showcase of my students performing Dance of the Snowflakes PLUS a collaboration with two studios in Vancouver, BC and Peru! Students from Chicago,Nashville and Northern California joined too! Click the photo for a tiny tease of what's to come.



One more fun link featuring the dancers of Leigh Purtill Ballet Company!

Company Member Spotlight!
The newest video in our ongoing series on our YouTube channel, Company Spotlights created by Alexes Ciardi, is an interview with company member Jen Marchain, below.  Be sure to subscribe to our channel to see more in the series!

Spotlight on Jen Marchain

P.S. Have YOU ever considered joining the company? We'll be posting information on our 2021 season very soon! Follow us on Instagram to learn more!

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Shoulders forward & the importance of incidental activity

As we close out the year (good riddance, 2020!), I want to offer a final technique tip and an observation.

First the tip:

Keep your shoulders in front of your hips during pirouettes, penchees, promenades, jumps, and generally speaking, during pointe work.

What do I mean?

Grab a mirror and observe your alignment in profile when you stand up straight. Where are your shoulders in relation to your hips: behind your hips, centered over them, or in front of them? Most likely they are centered over them. If you have a tendency to slouch, your shoulders may be behind your hips.

When we rise onto demi-pointe or pointe, we often pull our shoulders back or allow them to droop; this includes turns and pushing off the floor for jumps. 

Now, still in profile, lift your ribcage up out of your waist and gently move your torso forward. Note that your hips are still over your heels and your pelvis is in a neutral position, nothing is tucked or gripped. This is where you want to be when you prepare for a pirouette or take an arabesque into a penchee or even when you push up off the ground for a jump.

What do I not mean?

Don't roll your shoulders or hike them up to your ears. Also, try not to hyperextend your lower back and avoid splaying the ribs.

(This image was made by Loadmaster (David R. Tribble) CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

Please note the dancer's shoulder placement in the arabesque to the left.

(Ron Kroon / Anefo, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Please note the placement of the shoulders in this grand jete to the right.

What will this do for you?

For one thing, it helps stabilize you, balancing your natural tendency to fall back as you go up. And for another it will help you engage your back muscles and keep you lifted and not sinking.

And observation about the influence of the pandemic on our bodies (as if we didn't need to know about yet another negative effect!):

When incidental activity is diminished, our baseline of movement is affected. 

What do I mean by "incidental activity?" 

That's the walking from our cars to the grocery store, the running into the bank to deposit a check, the filling up of our gas tanks, the casual jostle walking among crowds at an event or in a school or a theater or on public transportation...all these things contribute to the baseline of our movement including balance. 

Remember before the pandemic when you used to walk around with a purse or shoulder bag or backpack? You would have to balance that on your shoulder and move it with you when you moved, from side to side or up and down. That's movement. That's balance. That's activity. When you're not doing that as frequently, you have far fewer chances to practice.

In your homes, it's a quick walk to the restroom or to get some water but at the dance studio, maybe it was down the hall. That's extra movement, extra walking you did.

In our Zoom environments, we sit to talk to people because if we stand, we are at waist level with our cameras; if we move around, our microphones won't pick up our voices and our auto focus gets blurry. But these are all things we used to do when we talked to people in real life.

What is the result? And how does that affect dancing?

One thing we lose is muscle tone: all that sitting doesn't give our quads and calves and hamstrings opportunities to strengthen, nor does our core engage as frequently. When we don't walk as much, we lose our stamina and get out of breath more quickly. And when we don't have to adjust around people, we don't have chances to find our balance.

For our dancing, this means we must take extra steps in class. Even if you were taking the same number of classes as you were before, likely you are not working as hard or have the ability to do things like jumps or allegro. Our balance might not be as good because we aren't calling upon it as often. 

What can we do?

In class, we can take the time to work on balance OFF the barre when we need to engage our cores and stabilize ourselves. We can build calf and ankle strength through extra exercises. We can also do small jumps in sneakers if we don't have the correct flooring.

Outside of class, we can walk a little bit more (an extra turn around the block with the dog), maybe carry something with us so we build some upper body strength and work on balance. Hiking or carefully navigating uneven surfaces can also help us balance.

Friday, December 11, 2020

Dancing toward the light at the end of the tunnel

Beautiful dancers,

As I write this, the FDA is authorizing emergency use of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. The initial plan is for frontline workers and people in assisted living facilities to receive inoculations this month with the rest of us getting vaccinated over the course of the next few months. If all goes well, most of the population will have access to it by spring 2021.

This is amazing news and should give us all hope for the not-too-distant future. In scientific terms, this is nearly-instantaneous; for the rest of us we've got a major case of HURRY UP, ALREADY!

How does this affect me as a dancer?

Okay, so we know there will be an end, even if we don't know the date. So let's look at it this way. Pretend I'm the artistic director of the company you're all in and I've called you into a meeting (on Zoom of course because there's a pandemic).

Congratulations! You all have been cast in a show that will be performed in the Fall. We don't have a theater booked yet but we know it's going to happen so we need to be getting in shape and rehearsing now. We can't wait until we put a down payment on the booking because that might happen at the last minute.

Ooh, exciting! Which show are we doing? Which role will I have?

The question is: which role do you want? Do you want a lead role, one that dances a lot on stage? Do you want a corps de ballet role, which is just as challenging but more community-involvement? Do you want to be partnered or to be a partner? Do you want to be en pointe or in flat slippers? 

 But I look terrible! I haven't been dancing full-out in months! I'm not ready to be on stage!

Focus not on what your body looks like but on what it can do. We are ALL in the same predicament. We have been doing our best - whatever form that takes - and it's been difficult for everyone. Now is not the time for body-shaming yourself. And no, of course you're not ready for the stage. Professionals are not even ready and many of them are back in the studio. It takes time and a slow return to our previous mode of movement. 

Here is my advice:

1. Keep looking toward the future. Stop looking at the past, at what was, at what was supposed to be. A new day is dawning but it will just take a while to fully arrive. Don't stop thinking about tomorrow (okay, okay, I just used a whole bunch of song lyrics but you know what I mean).

2. Invest in yourself and your body. If you don't have a space at home, carve one out, even if it needs to be carved out every day. Get a stable barre or barre substitute. Find flooring that won't hurt your knees and back or wear shoes with support.

3. Move every day. Every. Single. Day. Maybe it's a YouTube ballet class one day. Maybe it's yoga. Maybe it's a Zoom group class. Or a long walk or jog. But move your body on a daily basis and breathe deeply.

4. Speaking of breathing...practice exercising in a mask because YOU WILL WEAR ONE for a while, possibly until the end of 2021. Get used to it now. It's not that hard. I've done it - and taught class in it!

5. Commit. Say to yourself, "I want to be in the show in the Fall, whatever show it is, whatever role I'm given. So I will stay healthy, stay distant, stay masked. I will wash my hands and avoid large groups indoors. I will do what I have to."

I want you all to be in the show, whether that's a literal show or merely a figurative one. If you've been inwardly focused or have had a hard time getting or staying motivated since March, there is a future to dance toward now. If you've been keeping your dance routine, don't stop now! 

And you know what? You will be in the show. Happy dancing~