Blogs

This week, I was lucky enough to be able to take a class taught by Susan Jaffe, a former principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre.  I wasn’t really sure what to expect, since I’ve taken class with famous dancers before, and been very disappointed by how little of their own sense of artistry they communicated to the students.  Sometimes, although they are or were great dancers themselves, they were at a loss about how to really teach a student to do something that came so naturally, and beautifully, to them.

 

Have you ever had a moment of epiphany while watching a dance group perform--a realization that if you were a professional dancer, you'd want to make that company your home? Because that's exactly what happened to me last night at The Joyce Theater. As I witnessed the awesomely versatile members of the Lyon Opera Ballet tackle three wildly different stylistic worlds--those of Merce Cunningham, William Forsythe, and Maguy Marin--I couldn't help but think, I wish I were up there with them.

The other day, I was talking with my favorite teacher, Marisa, about a video of Suzanne Farrell that I have.  We both agreed that although she may not have been the most perfect technician compared to today’s powerhouse dancers, she had something that is very rare: an innate understanding and response to music.  Even on video, you can tell that she internalizes each musical phrase she dances to, so that she’s almost dancing in the music instead of to the music.

When you dance, do you do the movement, explore it or listen to how your body wants to perform it?

This weekend I took a workshop with Nathan Trice, a former Complexions, MOMIX and Donald Byrd dancer who now runs his own troupe. His movement style is kind of a modern dance-based version of contemporary ballet; it's slinky and line-driven, but much of the choreography is actively turned in. My body loved the it's amazing flow and kookiness. Yet the process by how Trice wanted us to move was incredibly challenging for me.

I’ve never been a very patient person or dancer, and this has always been reflected in the kinds of classes I like to take.  I prefer a pretty fast class in which the barre just flies by so that I can get to center and really dance.  I love petit allegro, too—the faster, the better, and since I hate doing adagio, I prefer to get it over with quickly.  I enjoy a speedy and difficult class, and when I’m enjoying myself, I feel better about my dancing.  However, I’ve recently started taking a slower class twice a week, and

As dancers, we thrive on that ability to transcend the normal and become someone (or something) else on stage.  It places us among the lucky few people who have the opportunity to experience that intangible freedom of another world.

           In one of my former lives, I worked in a little suburban dance boutique.  One of the things we specialized in was fitting pointe shoes, and after learning the process, it became one of my favorite things to do.  I especially enjoyed fitting the young girls that came in for their first pair of shoes, with their proud mothers in tow.  These girls were always so excited to go on pointe, and their anticipation as they answered my questions about their feet and their training was al

When I was at an ABT summer intensive years ago, one of my teachers told our class that the most thrilling pirouettes aren't the tazmanian devilishly fast spins, but they are the slow, smooth turns that look like they're effortlessly in control. This made a huge impact on me because up until that moment, I had always been trying to speed up my pirouettes to make them look more impressive—and also because immediately after listening to this bit of wisdom I performed my first quadruple pirouette on pointe.

Last week, I was previewing a behind-the-scenes video I shot featuring San Francisco Ballet principal Maria Kochetkova. Maria is all the things you would expect from a principal dancer at one of the nation’s top ballet companies—elegant, expressive, sophisticated, and thanks to her Bolshoi Ballet School training, technically uber-refined.

It’s Monday evening, and I’m just finishing barre in Marisa’s 5:30 ballet class. Things haven’t been going well tonight—my body is not listening to me, and I’ve felt off-balance, stiff and awkward the whole time. I know what each movement should look like, but to me, it looks as if I’m falling far short today, and frankly, it’s depressing.