Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Amazing Dance Teacher, Pianist, and Seamstress

November 13, 2011

After reading J’acques D’Amboise’s latest book, I Was a Dancer, I started thinking more and more about one of my childhood ballet teachers, Madame Seda.  Jacques dedicates a whole chapter about Seda. She was the one to get him to try ballet. And then when Seda saw how talented Jacques and his sister were, she sent them off to The School of American Ballet so that they could get the training that they needed. Most teachers would have kept the students for themselves, but not Seda. She loved teaching ballet and was dedicated to her students and to the art of ballet.

We all loved her even though she was very strict. I was poked with her stick many times because my body was not in proper alignment. And boy would she yell if a student came to class with gum in their mouth! She always had a twinkle in her eye, though. And we would all rush up to hug her after class.

She didn’t miss a thing. Sometimes she would play the piano while teaching class. Somehow she still managed to see what we were doing and would yell out directions and corrections.

I also had the opportunity to take character dance classes from Seda. This is the type of dance that one sees in the peasant dance scenes in the full-length classical ballets such as Giselle and Swan Lake. We often performed the character dances at nursing homes or festivals. We wore beautiful costumes that were hand-sewn by Madame Seda.

I can still picture her teaching class;her stick pounding on the floor with the beat of the music and Seda calling out directions and corrections. How I would love to take class from her now. Or better yet, I’d love to have my students experience her class.


Photo of ballet class

Madame Seda teaching class in 1983.


Listen to an NPR interview of Jacques D’Amboise and Jennifer Homans, author of Apollo’s Angels: A History of Ballet. Jacques talks about Madame Seda in the interview.


Book of Foot Strengthening Exercises

October 18, 2011

The Perfect Pointe Book , by Lisa Howell, has many excellent foot strengthening exercises. Included with the book are video clips of students who demonstrate the exercises.

As you can guess by the title, it is geared towards dancers who are preparing to go on pointe for the first time. However, the exercises are great for any dancer or athlete. We don’t always think of strengthening the feet, but it is important.

All my younger dancers that are preparing for pointe work or who are already studying pointe do these strengthening exercises. I also incorporate them into my Balletone classes, which is a barefoot workout.

Do you exercise your feet?

Easy to Follow Dance Injury Prevention Book

August 22, 2011

Cover of Dance Medicine BookI just started reading Dance Medicine: Head to Toe: A Dancer’s Guide to Health by Judith R. Peterson.  I’ve read many books on this topic, but this book is easy to read and the illustrations help to explain the material.

I’m not looking to be a doctor nor am I trying to diagnose ailments that my students have. But I believe that it is important to understand the body when teaching dance and fitness classes.  I don’t want students to do anything in class that will hurt them. This is true for all of my students – young and old alike.

In addition to the pictures of the body, this book also has beautiful photos of dancers from the Pennsylvania Ballet Company. It’s a nice to view those while trying to digest the technical information.

I recommend this book for dancers, fitness professional, dance teachers and welcome suggestions of other dance medicine/injury prevention books.

A Must Read Dance Book

July 19, 2011

I just finished the book “I Was a Dancer”, a memoir  by Jacques D’Amboise. What a fun read! I’ve been lucky enough to hear the author give a presentation and have also heard him speak on documentary shows. When he speaks about dance, he has such enthusiasm. And the book is just like that!

You feel as if you are right behind the scenes at New York City Ballet (NYCB); working with George Balanchine and dancing with the NYCB dancers of the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s.

Jacques D’Amboise is an excellent storyteller. If you enjoy ballet, you should definitely read this book!