Ballet Training Pays Off

September 26, 2012

Season 9 of the FOX show, So You think You Can Dance, ended last week so I won’t get my weekly dose of dance viewing. I’m not a big fan of reality TV, but enjoy watching the dance segments of the show. And the dancing this season was fabulous! It was exciting to see that the public selected the two best dancers, Eliana and Cheon, instead of picking the most popular.

Both of the winners had ballet training and performed a classical ballet number the week before the final show.  Ballet numbers are not usually included in the competition because it is too difficult for a dancer to perform ballet if they have not studied that style of dance for many years.  Yet, with a ballet background, the two ballet dancers were able to perform beautifully in most of other genres of dance.

I hope that this will show young dancers how important it is to have a ballet foundation. Ballet carries over to other forms of dance and to everyday life

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Loving Every Minute!

September 9, 2012

Albany Dance & Fitness logoWow! The first year of owning a dance studio went quickly! But I can understand why it did.  In addition to offering a variety of dance and fitness classes we also held the following events:

  • Two afternoons of free sampler classes (A Taste of Dance and Get Fit 2012)
  • Official Grand Opening
  • Two Balletone Instructor Workshops
  • Three Ballet Master Classes with NYC Ballet dancer Andrew Scordato
  • Several Balletone workshops offered through Capital District Physician’s Health Plan
  • Broadway Jazz performing opportunity

The second year has already started ad we’ve added more classes including Jazz Funk and Modern Dance. And we already have the following events on the calendar:

We’re also hoping to hold different types of master classes this year. Plans are also in progress for a performing opportunity in a local production of the Nutcracker.

I’m having fun offering all these special classes and workshops, but what I really love is teaching. I’ve had the chance to work with many wonderful students. It brings me great joy to see them improve over time and to know that they are having fun.

I’m ready for the second year!

Too Short!

August 10, 2012

Logo for Saratoga Performing Arts CenterThis year’s New York City Ballet (NYCB) season at Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) was wonderful! I immersed myself in the world of dance by attending all open rehearsals (SPAC members only) and many performances. And for the first time we went to the Gala!

We didn’t participate in all the Gala festivities, but did enjoy the dance performance. The draw for me was the opportunity to see the premier of Justin Peck‘s piece, “In Creases”. It was a fun piece and I found myself wishing for more.

That’s how I feel about the length of the NYCB SPAC season. Two weeks is not enough! The company used to perform at SPAC for three or more weeks, but the season has been cut back due to financial reasons. Next year the season will be even shorter – one week.

Something has to be done about this! A grassroots group, “Save the NYC Ballet“, has formed to help the effort. They even have an online petition targeted to NY State officials. It may be too late for 2013 and I don’t know if the season will ever be extended to three weeks. I hope that it will be at least two weeks!

Paris Trip Included Dance

July 13, 2012

It’s been a while since I’ve posted to this blog. That’s because I was focusing on a trip to Paris. Lots of time was spent reading tour guides, making plans, and packing.

Well, the trip is over and it was fabulous. My husband and I saw lots of amazing sites, beautiful artwork, ate delicious food, and drank many bottles of wine. I haven’t danced for almost two weeks, but did get lots of exercise. We walked and walked, and climbed many steps to take advantage of the wonderful views of the city.Some of the sites that we took in were dance related.

Opera Garnier

We went on a tour of the magnificent Opera Ganier, home of the well-known Paris Opera Ballet.  The auditorium has a wonderful Marc Chagall painting on the ceiling and a glittering chandelier hanging down. The tour also included drawings of costumes and actual costumes from many ballets that have been performed at the opera house. We didn’t get to see the Paris Opera Ballet, but I can imagine that it is a wonderful experience to see them perform in this beautiful setting. (The company is performing in the US at the David  H.  Koch Theatre, Lincoln Center through 7/22/12).

Just down the street from the Opera Garnier, there was a dance supply store, Repetto.  I was overwhelmed by the store and didn’t take advantage of purchasing any dance clothing. I had hoped to go back another time while we were there, but I guess it will have to be the next trip to Paris. I’m not sure if their merchandise is available in the US or not. There was a store in the Capital District at one point, but that was many years ago.

Of course we saw dance artwork, including my favorite, the “Little Dancer of Fourteen Years”, by Edgar Degas. I viewed the sculpture from every angle for long periods of time. She looks just like an innocent young dancer. There were also several other Degas paintings such as “Dancer with a Bouquet of Flowers” and the “Ballet Rehearsal”. I have notecards with copies of these paintings, but there is nothing like the original.

What a wonderful trip! Now it’s back to teaching and dancing! And we returned just in time for the New York City Ballet’s stay at Saratoga Performing Arts Center!

What is the Breaking Pointe?

May 30, 2012

I’m not a big fan of reality television shows, but I have high hopes for the new ballet show, “Breaking Pointe”.

This new show follows Salt Lake City’s Ballet West (BW) company dancers. Supposedly it will set the record straight about the real behind the scenes work of dance and will erase misconceptions created by the movie “Black Swan”. The BW Artistic Director, Adam Sklute, is a creative consultant for the show and plans to make sure that this is the case.

I hope that there will be lots of dance and that the show will foster an appreciation of ballet. We’ll see tomorrow night when the show premieres on the CW (May 31st).

If you watch it, share your impression of the show.

New Dance Movie to Open

May 10, 2012

I’m excited about a new ballet movie, “First Position“, that opens on May 11, 2012.  I’m not sure if it will be as popular as “Black Swan” was, since this new movie is a documentary.

“First Position”, directed by Bess Kargman, follows six young dancers as they prepare and then compete in the Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP). The YAGP is the world’s largest student ballet competition that provides scholarships to leading dance schools worldwide. This prestigious competition is held annually around the world and in New York City.

I had the opportunity to view a couple of stories about the movie on Good Morning America and Nightline. The dancing looks out of this world! And the reviews are remarkable.

For those of you that are in the Capital District/Saratoga NY area, there will be a screening at the Saratoga Film Forum on Sunday, June 24, 2012, 7:30 pm, as part of the Film Festival of Dance (some other great dance films will also be shown during the four day festival). I can’t wait to attend this screening in June!

I Survived the Pilates Reformer!

April 19, 2012

Trying a new type of fitness workout can be scary. I know first hand.

I recently tried the Pilates reformer, a piece of equipment that uses springs to provide extra resistance. My Pilates mat instructor and friend, Tenicia (T.) Trask of TNT Fitness insisted that I try it. I probably wouldn’t have gone through with it, but she got the ball rolling by setting us up for a double session. This meant that T. and I were scheduled to go to this. There was no backing out even though I must admit that I was a bit nervous (little known secret: fitness machines scare me).

I had no idea what to expect from the session. T. started out on the reformer and I was on the mat. I was somewhat comfortable with that since I have been taking Pilates mat group classes. It felt a little different, though. I know T’s routine from class, but there were times that I felt that the instructor was speaking in a foreign language. Plus I was the only one doing the exercises, so there was no one else to look at. Once we were finished with that, it was time for the two of us to switch.

Now I found myself on a fitness machine. I felt like I didn’t know my right from my left or my front from my back. I got through it, though. Before I knew it the session was over.

The results a couple of days later: I felt sore in places that I never would have expected. For instance, who would have thought that my inner thighs would feel it?

I would love to try this again. I imagine that it takes a few times to feel like you know what you are doing. That’s true with any new workout. I’m sure that my Balletone and Ballet students feel that way the first time that they attend class. I will have to keep that in mind when people try the class for the first time.

Another Dream Come True

March 27, 2012

Class with Andrew ScordatoIn my last blog entry, Dancing with a NYC Ballet Star, I wrote about the wonderful class that I took with Andrew Scordato, NYC Ballet dancer, at the National Museum of Dance in Saratoga Springs, NY. I had the opportunity to take two more classes with Andrew that week. They were all fun, but the class that was held at Albany Dance & Fitness was very special to me.  Less than a year ago I realized my dream of opening a dance studio and now a professional dancer taught at the studio! I’m still on a high from this!

Having a professional dancer teach a class at the studio was quite an experience. Everyone that took the class seemed to enjoy themselves. It was fun to try different steps, learn some of NYC Ballet repertory, and hear behind the scene stories. We all felt like we were in another world! I could tell by the feedback I received:

“What a great experience, so much fun! Never thought I could do a combination from a real NYC ballet!” (Shelley)

“Thanks Gail for hosting such an amazing teacher! I loved Andrew’s class! Ahhh….fabulous!” (Sara)

“Thank you Gail for having Andrew Scordato, of the NYC Ballet, it was the most fun I can recall having in a very long time!!!! Not that your classes aren’t great, but WOWEEE, what fun, and Balanchine choreography….WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” (Maria)

My wishes for this studio are to have students enjoy the experience while taking classes. I want it to be a place where they can forget about the stress of everyday life, have fun, and at the same time get fit. Hopefully, they find this to be true at every class that is held at the studio.  Based  on the feedback from the special class with Andrew, I know that this was the case that night. There is no doubt in my mind, we must hold more special events like this!

Dancing with a NYC Ballet Star

March 5, 2012

Andrew Scordato teaching classI don’t get to take many ballet classes, but yesterday I had the chance to participate in a special class with NYC Ballet dancer Andrew Scordato. The class was part of a community day fundraiser for Saratoga Dances II, an upcoming event sponsored by Dance Alliance.

Andrew challenged us with some tricky combinations at the barre. He was very patient and offered suggestions for improvement.  At the same time he was encouraging.

After trying a few center combinations, we learned part of Le Tombeau de Couperin, a piece choreographed by George Balanchine in 1975. It’s based on court dances and consisted of some pattern work. We learned a small section that included a little bit of the pattern work. Andrew kept giving us tips about how we should look and told us behind the scenes stories about the piece. It was fun to pretend that we were performing this wonderful work , although I’m sure that we did not do it justice.

One of the things that I liked the most about the class was watching Andrew demonstrate. His feet articulate in ways that seem impossible and his movement is precise and at the same time very fluid.Ballet class

Andrew will be teaching two more open classes in the area:

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to take these classes! That’s where I will be 🙂

My New Love – Pilates

February 21, 2012

Pilates class OK, I’ve been thin all my life, not counting the times while pregnant. However, I’ve always felt that I had a little pooch. I longed for the flat tummy and tried doing crunches. But, that never did the trick.

Recently I started taking Pilates Mat classes on a weekly basis. I can’t believe the difference in how my body feels and looks! And I’ve noticed a difference in ballet class. My upper body is much more stable and my balance has improved.

I wish I had tried Pilates a long time ago. I heard of it when I was a dance major at Brockport State,  but I had no idea what it was (no internet back then). Pilates was developed in the early 20th century by Joseph Pilates. It is a conditioning workout that improves core strength and creates long, lean muscles. The workouts can be done on the mat or using special apparatus.

The Pilates mat class is definitely work, but I find it very enjoyable. I’ve found a wonderful instructor, Tenicia Trask (T), of TNT Fitness Studios. She has a special way of explaining how the exercises should be done. T has an eagle eye and lets you know if you are not doing the movement correctly. She is in tune with the different ability levels of the class participants and offers modifications and challenges. Pilates is a tough workout, but T makes the class enjoyable and is very encouraging.

I look forward to the the class every week because I feel amazing afterwards. And I finally have that flat tummy!

Sometime I’m going to try Pilates on the apparatus….