Hold It Right There!

After seeing New York Theatre Ballet’s “Signatures 10” program on Saturday night, I realized how hard it is to just stand still and hold a pose

onstage. These dancers did a great job of it, especially in Ashton’s Capriol Suite, a kind of modern retelling of Renaissance-era court dance.

The piece consisted of a few very balletic allegro sections, alternating with adagio sections in which two or three women in long dresses, ruff

collars, and panniers promenaded elegantly with one or two partners. I found these sections more interesting than the more action-packed ones because

of the complete refinement the dancers exhibited as they walked from pose to pose, which is what the choreography mostly consisted of. The poses

themselves were very innovative, elegant, and sculptural, so that I looked forward to seeing what they would do next after they had finished one.

However, what really struck me was the absolute stillness that the dancers were able to attain after they had arranged themselves into a formation,

which they did so seamlessly that they fell into place like puzzle pieces. Their poses were so perfectly quiet that you could study every detail and

be pleased by the beautiful symmetry and Ashton’s aesthetic sensibility.

Judging from my experience dancing in the corps in ballets like La Bayadere and Swan Lake, I can appreciate how difficult it is to just

stand still and hold your pose in a formation onstage. It’s also hard to get the formation just right, so that it’s symmetrical, and to make sure that

everyone’s arms, legs, and head are all the same height and pointing in exactly the same direction. Adagio ballerinas face this challenge too during

pas de deux, as they have to make sure to hit key positions and crystallize the image for a moment or two before moving on. As with most aspects of

performing, though, achieving perfect stillness and shape in an adagio pose goes back to practicing adagio in class, at the barre and in the center.

It’s here that you can practice getting into a pose or perfecting your placement without wobbling or making any extra movements. You can practice this

after finishing a promenade, a developpe, or better yet at the end of the combination, when you stand elegantly and perfectly quietly in fifth

position.

Ballet Careers
Lenai Alexis Wilkerson. Christopher Duggan, Courtesy Michelle Tabnick Public Relations.

This is one of a series of stories on recent graduates' on-campus experiences—and the connections they made that jump-started their dance careers. Lenai Alexis Wilkerson graduated from University of Southern California with a BFA in dance (dance performance concentration) and a political science minor in 2019.

As Lenai Alexis Wilkerson looked at colleges, she wanted a school that would prepare her for two totally different professions: dancing and law. "I knew, pretty much when I was 16, that I wanted to go to law school," she says. "So I wanted the opportunity to have a dual college experience, where I could have a conservatory training style within a university and I could focus equally on my academics." When she auditioned for the inaugural class of University of Southern California's Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, she knew it was the right fit.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by Ballet Arizona
Tzu Chia Huang, Courtesy Ballet Arizona

These days, ballet dancers are asked to do more than they ever have—whether that's tackling versatile rep, taking on intense cross-training regimens or managing everything from their Instagram pages to their summer layoff gigs.

Without proper training, these demands can take a toll on both the mind and the body. But students can start preparing for them early—with the right summer intensive program.

The School of Ballet Arizona's summer intensive takes a well-rounded approach to training—not just focusing on technique and facility but nurturing overall dancer growth. "You cannot make a dancer just by screaming at them like they used to," says master ballet teacher Roberto Muñoz, who guests at the program every summer. "You have to take care of the person as well."

Keep reading... Show less
News
Nicolas Pelletier in Carmina Burana. Francisco Estevez, Courtesy Colorado Ballet.

Last week, Colorado Ballet interrupted Nutcracker rehearsals for an exciting announcement: Four dancers were being promoted. Though all made the jump from the company's corps de ballet, Nicolas Pelletier ascended directly to the rank of soloist, while Sean Omandam, Emily Speed and Melissa Zoebisch were promoted to demi-soloist. This news comes hot on the heels of last August's promotion of Francisco Estevez to principal.

Keep reading... Show less
Courtesy School of Pennsylvania Ballet

While many of us are deep in Nutcracker duties, The School of Pennsylvania Ballet director James Payne has been looking further ahead, finalizing preparations for the school's summer intensive programs. In January, he and his staff will embark on a 24-city audition tour to scour the country for the best young dancers, deciding whether or not to offer them a spot—maybe even a scholarship—in the school's rigorous 5-week intensive focused on high-caliber ballet instruction. Though he'll be evaluating aspirants, he urges that as a student, you should be equally selective in choosing programs that could galvanize your training—and possibly even your career.

We got Payne's advice on strategizing your summer intensive plan before the audition cycle kicks in:

Keep reading... Show less