Thanks to the popularity of Black Swan, featuring Natalie Portman as the tortured ballerina Nina Sayers, I get asked a lot of questions by non-ballet people (pedestrians), about the actual experience of being a ballet dancer. The same thing happened after Center Stage came out--all of a sudden, everyone was interested in what the world of ballet was like, and if it bore any resemblance to the worlds these movies created. Most people are disappointed when I say no, not really. Those movies exaggerate every thing, and every stereotype about ballet to such a
As Web Editor, it is my happy responsibility to go to cover shoots and edit the behind-the-scenes videos that give you a glimpse of the process. I recently edited two videos featuring two very different ballerinas, from very different places and schools. It made me realize that contrary to the opinion of many teachers and dancers, there is no one way to move beautifully. The ballerinas I'm talking about are NYCB principal Sterling Hyltin, and the Kirov's Yevgenia Obraztsova.
In my last few blogs, I've written about the upcoming audition season, and today, I want to address one of the most important parts of the process: Audition photos. Most summer programs, schools and companies will ask you to bring photos of yourself in certain poses; I've seen first arabesque, developpe a la seconde, attitude croise and others requested. The hard part, obviously, is not doing these poses, it's getting them to look good on film.
As 2010 draws to a close, many of us find ourselves looking back at the year that has passed, and looking ahead at the year to come. It's the time to think about what you have done, and what you will do. Regrets surface, and resolutions are formed to do better "next time".
There's one question every aspiring or newly minted professional ballerina knows the answer to: What's your dream role? Whether it's Odette/Odile, Aurora, or Nikiya, every one of us aspires to one ballet, or one role in particular. Once we get that part, we think, we've got it made--we've arrived.
Recently, the ballet world has been abuzz over Alastair Macaulay's controversial review of NYCB's Jenifer Ringer and Jared Angle's performance on the opening night of Nutcracker. He wrote that Ringer "looked as if she'd eaten on sugar plum too many" and that Angle "seems to have been sampling half the Sweet realm". I'm not going to go into the controversial and oft-discussed topic of weight as it pertains to ballet, but I do want to talk about what it feels like, and what to do when a critic has gone too far.
In my experience, ballet teachers who tell you to be yourself are very rare. When you get a step wrong, most of the time they will tell you to watch another girl in the class and do it liker her, or that girl will be called up to the front of the studo to proudly demonstrate for the whole class. Everyone is then told to copy her. In general, it seems like most dancers learn by copying, rather than knowing when they are doing a step right or not.
I was recently talking with my parents about Alexei Ratmansky's new Nutcracker, which he's choreographing for ABT. It's coming to the Brooklyn Academy of Music in December, and I for one can't wait to see it. By all accounts, it will be more grown-up, with a fresh, yet classical approach to the story.
Ballet dancers train long and hard to excel at what they do. It is imperative that they be confident in their technique when they step onto a stage, as doubt can have a crippling effect on a dancer's ability to perform a movement that they've practised and rehearsed scores of times. I've often had the opportunity of seeing elite dancers in class and rehearsal, and their relaxed manner and the ease with which they correctly execute all the steps shows that they know they can do this. However, ballet dancers are also famously superstitious and wedded to rituals that