Posts Tagged ‘Ballet’

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


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!

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!

Nudes, Dancers, and More

February 9, 2012

Photo of Little Dance of Fourteen Years sculptureI’ve always admired the artwork of Edgar Degas, especially the work depicting dancers. Somehow he captures the beauty of the dancers’ body positions.  I can picture the dancers moving and feel like I am a part of the class .  And his sculpture,  Little Dancer of Fourteen Years,  is exceptional. Although some thought that it was ugly when it was first displayed in 1881, to me it shows the beauty and innocence of a very young dancer. The pose is not a beautiful pose, in fact it is somewhat awkward. That is what makes it so realistic.

The “Degas and the Nude” exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston MA, brought to light another aspect of Degas’ work. It was amazing to see how his studies of the nude body gave him a sense of how clothing draped on the body. In the exhibit there were many instances where the nude study was displayed and next to it there was a piece where he drew upon  the nude study. I found this particularly interesting because you could see how he used the nude study to further his understanding of how the body moved.

If you didn’t get to see this exhibit, there is a book  Degas and the Nude , that explores the artist’s treatment of the nude from his early years all the way to his last decades when the theme dominated his artistic production in all media. It will definitely give you a glimpse of how the study of nudes was incorporated into his work.

Ballet Arts Still Thrives

January 19, 2012

As my husband and I wandered around the arts community of Beacon, NY, he tried the door of Ballet Arts Studio. To my surprise, the studio was open! I was happy to see that it is still a top notch dance school. This is the studio where I started my ballet training in 1963 and  continued studying dance until I went off to college (even then I would attend classes at the studio on Saturdays and also performed with the company).

Gail in front of Ballet Arts Studio, Beacon , NY

Being there brought back lots of wonderful memories. The studio looks exactly as I remember it although a few things have changed. There is now an additional dance studio in the basement and a new marley dance floor covers the wood floor. And I don’t remember the paint in the dressing room being such bright colors. But those are just minor changes to the appearance of the facility. The knowledge and love of dance is still being shared.

Photo of Ballet Arts Studio, Beacon NY

Of course there is a different director of the studio. Over the years the studio has changed hands many times. When I began my lessons, Elizabeth Schneider ran the school and was Artistic Director of Dutchess County Ballet Company. She had to sell the studio due to health reasons, so in 1969 Mme Seda Suny and Tom Adair ran the studio. Tom Adair also had a studio in Poughkeepsie, NY and was the artistic director of Poughkeepsie Ballet Theatre. All students of Ballet Arts Studio performed with Mr. Adair’s company.  I was very fortunate to study ballet with these excellent teachers and to have the opportunity to dance in many ballet performances.

Mme Seda ran the studio until 1985 when she retired from teaching ballet at the age of 80. Valerie Feit bought the studio. I never studied from her, but from what I have read and heard, it was a thriving dance studio. Two and a half years ago Valerie passed the studio on to her dance colleague, Alex Bloomstein.

Mr. Bloomstein is carrying on the tradition. I watched as he worked with several young students and could see how passionate he and the students are about dance. They are already rehearsing for the school’s spring recital. I just may have to attend that recital! (And I’m sure that my mom would love to go. She also spent lots of time at Ballet Arts Studio working as the office manager.)

I hope that these young dancers will still find a dance studio here if they visit thirty years after they have stopped taking lessons.  I can’t imagine anything else in that building.

Learn more about Ballet Arts Studio at

Visions of Sugarplums

December 20, 2011

Last week PBS broadcast George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker (TM) live as part of the Live from Lincoln Center series. I felt like I was in the audience watching this holiday performance. The only difference was that we also got a backstage tour that included interviews with several cast members, as well as Peter Martins, Artistic Director of New York City Ballet.

One of the interviews was with the young children playing the lead roles of Marie and the Nutcracker Prince. Both are ten years old and this is their second year performing these roles. What a thrill it must be to perform lead roles with the NYCB at such a young age!

It makes me wonder what the future brings for these two young dancers. Will they end up dancing with a professional dance company when they are older? Will it be New York City Ballet? Or will they go on to do something totally different? Either way, I’m sure that  they will always have amazing memories of this experience.

I never had the opportunity to perform Nutcracker with a professional company, but did dance in a local production of this holiday classic.  Those performances usually included a couple guest dancers from professional companies. I would watch backstage in awe when they danced.

And now, whenever I hear the Nutcracker music, it brings back memories of that fabulous time.