Monday, February 1, 2016

Important info for my students

1. I've added the March workshops at Vonder Haar to my website, so you can sign up for them in advance. They are:

3/5 contemporary ballet
3/12 pique and lame duck turns
3/19 pointe/variation
3/26 pas de chat & grand assemble

All Saturday workshops are at Vonder Haar in La Canada from 11:30AM-12:30PM and are limited to 12 students with a minimum of 4. The cost is $17. You can sign up in advance for all of my workshops being offered at both Dance Arts Academy and at Vonder Haar Center at my website here.

2. As of March 1st, the price of a technique class will be $16. A 5-class card will be $75 and a 10-class card will be $140. Note: my class cards do not expire so if you'd like, you can purchase a card at the current price even if you do not need it yet.

  Happy dancing~

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Looking for a student...

...who was visiting today.

Just in case the lovely young woman named Rachel who took my classes today sees this (she is visiting from out of the country), I neglected to ask for her email to send her the vid of the variation workshop we did.

If you're her, please pm me your email so I can send it to you! Thank you!!

Monday, January 11, 2016

The Attraction of Opposites

In movement studies, there are always opposing forces at work. Whether you're talking about ballet or baseball, the body needs to access different forces in order to propel itself in space or on the field, against another body or ball, one limb or the entire torso.

Today I want to talk about the opposing forces required for plie and releve.

Generally speaking, in plie, we go up to go down and in releve, we go down to go up. Confusing? Of course it is! It's ballet and everything is backward.


From the very first moments at the barre when we do a demi-plie in first position, we need to visualize our spines and head rising, rather than sinking.

Most students are taught to bend their knees to initiate a plie, but that is the last place the plie takes hold. Instead, the plie begins at the top of the leg, just under the derriere, starting with the rotation (turnout). Regardless of the extent of your turnout, that is where you initiate the fondu or bend of the plie. From there, the rotation opens the hips and continues down into the knees, which must bend in order to accommodate the increased rotation of the legs.

When you tell your body to "bend the knees" in order to start the plie, you are merely dropping your weight to the ground. There is no control and there is no hip rotation. In other words, it's not an active force but a passive one - allowing gravity to do all the work. Usually the legs will turn in, especially in grand plie, and then recovery involves gripping your quads and derriere muscles to return to a standing position.

Next time you perform a demi-plie, concentrate on the spine and head lifting up toward the ceiling while you simultaneously rotate your legs from the back under your derriere. Then, rather than letting gravity take you to the ground, relax the derriere muscles and control the descent with your inner thigh muscles until just before the tops of your legs and knees turn in. To recover to standing, engage the derriere muscles to pull you back up and resist the urge to grip your quads.

This will result in a much smoother and ultimately more useful plie.


Conversely, in releve, we want to visualize pressing the floor away from us with our feet and toes in order to lift ourselves higher.

Most students are taught to releve by lifting their heels, "go up on your toes!" But this is not the most stable position to maintain, especially when you want to do pirouettes or adagio. When told to do this, students will hop up to releve, rather than stretch themselves. They wobble all over the place!

A proper releve begins by pushing down. With your feet firmly on the floor, weight evenly distributed across the soles, start with your plie, then as you recover continue to push the floor away from you until your heels lift off the floor and your weight is now over all 10 of your toes.

Remember: a releve begins with a fondu (plie) while an eleve begins with straight legs and knees (think elevator).

If you think of your core initiating the releve rather than the feet lifting, you will find your releve much more stable. The entire body must lift, not just your feet. Core and calf strength, in addition to ankle strength, will help you maintain your balance while you are suspended off the ground. And if you can think about trying to keep all of your toes on the floor, including your tiny pinky toes, you will give yourself more surface area upon which to balance.

Hope these tips help you! Happy dancing~

Monday, December 14, 2015

Holiday classes and 2016 Workshops

To my local students, some information about classes over the holidays as well as my new workshop schedule:

In addition to my regular schedule this month, I'll also be teaching 2 holiday-themed classes on the mornings of December 24 (Christmas Eve) and December 31 (New Year's Eve). They will be open level that anyone can attend. If you're in town, I hope you'll come dance! They are always lots of fun and a great way to escape the holiday frenzy.

When: 12/24 and 12/31
Time: 10-11:30AM
Location: Vonder Haar Center for Performing Arts, 437 Foothill Blvd, La Canada
Cost: $15 (or you can use your class card)
Thursdays, 8-9PM, $17/workshop
Limited to 10 students with a 4 student minimum

 1/7 - traveling turns: chaine and soutenu
1/14 - barre cleanup: plie, releve and port de bras
2/4 - small jumps: brise, assemble battu and brise vole
2/18 - barre cleanup: tendu, degage and rond de jambe
3/3 - turns: pirouette en dehors
3/17 - barre cleanup: grand battement, developpe and grand rond en l'air

Saturdays, 11:30AM-12:30PM, $17/workshop
Limited to 12 students with a 4 student minimum

1/9 - contemporary ballet
1/16 - turns: pirouette en dehors
1/23 - pointe/variation
1/30 - jumps: jete and assemble
2/6 - contemporary ballet
2/13 - turns: pirouette en dedans
2/20 - pointe/variation
2/27 - jumps: saut de chat and grand jete

ALL workshops are suitable for all levels of dancers. The Pointe variation classes may be attended by students in flat slippers if they do not work en pointe.

I encourage students to sign up in advance as most workshops tend to sell out. SIGN UP HERE.

Happy holidays, beautiful dancers! And happy dancing into 2016!

Monday, November 30, 2015

What is a rond de jambe en l'air?

First of all, what is it NOT?

It's not this:

Georges Seurat 1888
No, it's not the can-can, where the women (and men originally!) do high kicks circling the legs in the air at the knees. Oh how terrible for their joints!

Many students think of rond de jambe en l'air as a leg circle in the air (again, NOT the can-can) since "rond" translates as "circle" - for dancers, at least. But the shape you are drawing in the air is not exactly a circle. It's more like a flattened oval.

The path of the rond de jambe en'lair en dehors
The proper way to perform a rond de jambe en l'air en dehors begins with a battement a la seconde, then the toes draw a path straight in to the knee, as if coming to retire, and then circles slightly in front of the knee of the support leg and returns to the a la seconde position.

Conversely, the proper way to perform a rond de jambe en l'air en dedans begins with a battement a la seconde, then the toes draw a half-circle or oval to the front of the knee of the standing leg and then go straight back out to a la seconde.

2 very important things to remember for this step:
1. ALWAYS fully straighten the knee on the recovery to a la seconde, even if you are going to do more than one rond.
2. Maintain a strong straight support leg and avoid sinking back into the hip of the support leg.

One more tip!
NEVER look at your leg while you do this step. The mere act of turning your upper body to let yourself watch the leg twists the hips. If you can't see yourself in a mirror, then use your peripheral vision. Better yet, just feel it working properly.

Hope this tip helps you! Happy dancing~