Archive for December, 2010

A Classic Dance Movie is Brought Back to Life

December 30, 2010

The Red Shoes (The Criterion Collection) film on Blu-ray is amazing! I’ve watched the movie before, but don’t remember the color being so vivid.  The Blu-ray included a feature documentary that explained how they digitally restored the film.  It was a two and a half year project and was very difficult because the movie was shot in Technicolor, a process that uses three negative strips. Each strip was damaged by mold and emulsion shrinkage and had to be repaired digitally one frame at a time. I’m glad that the film was restored because it is beautiful. The cinematography of this 1948 classic was way ahead of its time.

 And of course I love the dancing.  Moira Shearer, a colleague/competitor of Margot Fonteyn ,  was a beautiful  dancer. The cast also includes several other renowned ballet dancers: Leonide Massine, Robert Helpmann,  and Ludmilla Tchérina. Leonide Massine was a famous choreographer/dancer who became the lead dancer in Sergei Diaghilev’s company, the Ballet Russe,  after Vaslav Nijinsky left the company. Massine was also the choreographer for the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. Robert Helpmann, the choreographer for The Red Shoes, was one of Margot Fonteyn’s professional partners in the Sadler Wells Ballet Company.  Ludmilla Tchérina was a famous French prima ballerina.

This makes me want to watch The Tales of Hoffman, a 1951 film. Moira Shearer, Leonide Massine, Robert Helpmann, and Ludmilla Tchérina  all appear in this film. In addition, the creative team, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, that was responsible for The Tales of Hoffman, also created The Red Shoes.  I’ve never seen The Tales of Hoffman, but will keep you posted after I watch it.

Note: Thank you to my son for giving me The Red Shoes Blu-ray for Christmas!  I believe I just dropped a hint for my birthdayJ


Interesting Dance Blogs

December 23, 2010

Thank you to all who voted for my blog in the Top Dance Blogs 2010 contest. I appreciate your support.

Even though my blog didn’t make it to the finalist stage, the contest provided me with some ideas to make the blog more interesting in the future. I looked at the other entries and I did find a couple of sites that are useful:

Ballet for You and Me (it explains ballet in simple terms)

Tights and Tiaras (A blog for all through the eyes of a male dancer)

In addition, there are some blogs that I follow that were not included in the contest. As a dance teacher, I feel that these two blogs give me important information to ensure that I am knowledgeable about the prevention of dance injuries:

The Body Series  ( I have taken some workshops from Debra Vogel, the author,  and have used her books and dvds as reference material).

The Ballet Blog (There is excellent information about pointe work).

Don’t have time to read all these blogs? I share information from these blogs as well as from dance teacher workshops, dance books and dvds in all my classes. Join us!

Top Dance Blog of 2010 Contest

December 15, 2010

Albany Dance & Fitness has entered’s Top Dance Blogs of 2010.

To vote for Gail’s Blog, simply leave a comment below on this post. (Multiple comments are not allowed!)  As always, I would love to read your feedback. Thanks for reading!

Nutcracker Memories

December 9, 2010

I haven’t posted an entry in a while, since I’ve been busy reading a very interesting book, “Nutcracker Nation” , to prepare for a special class at the National Museum of Dance. The book went into an in-depth discussion of how The Nutcracker became an annual holiday tradition.

It’s hard to believe that the first performances in 1892 were not well-received. Especially since almost every company in the USA performs the show annually.  In fact, most companies have to perform it to be able to survive financially. George Balanchine and the New York City Ballet (NYCB) played a huge role in helping to make the ballet accepted in this country. Balanchine incorporated ‘holidays with the family’ into his version and the NYCB performances were broadcast on live TV in 1957 and 1958. This brought it right into the homes of Americans.

While reading the book, it made me think of my childhood years when I performed in the Nutcracker with my hometown ballet company.  It brought back lots of wonderful memories. For anyone that has performed in the show or helped behind the scenes, I’m sure that you would agree that it is a very special time. I remember my dad helped out backstage and my mom assisted with ticket sales and costumes. And they would both attend the many performances.

All this reminiscing makes me want to perform in Nutcracker again. It’s too late this year as most companies are about to perform or have already finished.  At this age, I would probably be cast as an adult in the party scene of Act I.  That would be fine……. I’ve never played that role.  We’ll see.