CCDC News Archives - 2007


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12.30.2007: Rockettes and Roll!

Don't go to the Radio City Christmas Spectacular expecting to see cutting-edge choreography or dancers pushing the limits of sense and sensibility. Go to see the Rockettes to enjoy a particular style of Broadway jazz dance and carefully preserved choreography the entire family should enjoy. (Even though at least two of the littlest angels in the audience were snoozing at the end of the simple, yet moving, finale.) The RCCS is a time-capsule of a simpler, none-politically correct time with polite, polished, precise routines that have become a hallmark of the world-famous Radio City Rockettes. Non-"politically correct" should be expected because it's not called the Kwanza Spectacular or Radio City Presents Ramadan after all! But, even though the program cover shows them, this particular cast of the Civic Center production seemed devoid of very many dancers of color. Perhaps it's just the "luck of the draw" with this production, but the local audience seemed more diverse than the performers on stage.

The production elements are cutting-edge! There were enough smart lights, strobes, glittering snowfalls, elaborate costumes and drops to choke two camels, a few sheep and a donkey. And, that was a veritable menagerie of animals trotted out during the final Living Nativity Scene. So many, in fact, that some of the adoring sheperds on stage may have had to double as sheep herders backstage!

And, Scott Willis brings a larger-than-life ebullient personality to his portrayal of Santa Claus. He's quick with a wink and has an adequate singing voice. And, who knew Santa was such a decent dancer? Maybe that's why he lacks a belly that shakes like a "bowl full of jelly". Willis even threw in some references to city landmarks that brought smiles of recognition around me. But, I would've been even more impressed if he had used some local colloquial mispronunciations like: Tama, Buena Vista or Nevada!

Beth B. Austin looked like she stepped out of a Norman Rockwell painting or Currier&Ives print of a traditional 1950's Mrs. Claus. My two favorite supporting dancers (besides Bob the elf!) were the two Clausettes in the Everybody's Waiting For The Man With The Bag number. Alanna Martinez and Allison Stodola made the most of some old school, what we used to call Liza Minelli style jazz dance backing up Mrs. Claus.

Local dance student Jacqueline LeWarne also made the most of her turn in the spotlight early Saturday evening as the Young Girl/Clara planted in the audience. She's got a great smile and lovely stage presence. But, since this is a dance blog with ballet emphasis and I am a nitpicky Scrooge-like Grinch, she just needs to work more on turning out those saute' arabesques and not jumping her echappe's sur la pointe. The larger-than-life stuffed bears and pandas dancing around LeWarne in the tribute to the Nutcracker are too cute for words. Must be tough dancing en pointe while someone's shining blinding lights in your eyes and you're fighting a big padded panda costume!

And, speaking of Grinch-like Scrooges, I've mentioned before how much I dislike prerecorded tap sounds during hoofing sequences. To me, it's cheating. It's like lip-synching during a Super-Bowl half-time show. Or, using steroids to extend a major league pitching career. Or, using human growth hormone to break a hallowed home-run stat. Just cause everyone's doing it doesn't make it right, Mr. Clemens!

I did not see a single misstep or faux pas during the entire dozen dance scenes. Admittedly the Rockettes didn't always completely execute the tougher tap steps: the single or double-wings, for example, but, at least they attempted them at the right times. I hold professional dancers to a higher standard when I review them and, except for the wings, the Rockettes held up their end of the bargain.

The Rockettes are world-renown for their particular style of Broadway Jazz dance and precision execution of high kick-lines. The local audience would almost always start to applaud whenever a kick-line would begin. And, the Rockettes served up a cavalcade of them: sitting, standing, sequential and even in circles. Now, some jaded, nitpicky dance critics may argue the Christmas Spectacular choreography seems a little less spectacular and showing its age after up to 75-years, but, most will agree the traditional dances should be preserved for a new generation of kids and families to enjoy.

12.20.2007: Bad Santa

Stuck for a gift for your favorite dancer? Fear not, mistletoe-breath! Capital City Dance Center is finalizing order forms for new CCDC logoware! Imagine how excited your favorite dancer will be when they put on a CCDC hoodie, T-shirt, camisole, sweatshirt or sweatpant! Unfortunately, they won't be in in time for Christmas, but, maybe a card and a check and/or promise to order would make a good last-minute substitute. Remember that first (and last) order of CCDC T's quickly became valuable collector items. Not even available on eBay anymore!  All proceeds will go to help subsidize CCDC recital, theater rental, production and costume costs. Also on the horizon, links to a website where you can order a veritable plethora, a cornucopia of CCDC logo'd items! And, possibly, for the first time anywhere, a CCDC 2008 Calendar! ...Fashionably late, of course!o)

12.18.2007: iPod uPdate

So, I've had this iPod for about a month now and some promise has failed to develop, while others have exceeded expectations. (That free PBS Great Performances piece on Nureyev, for example, turned out to be just a promo, not the entire program.) Now, I used to own a Sony WalkMan and I didn't expect the iPod would be much different. But, I couldn't have been more wrong! I remember reading a review when the iPod first came out where someone gushed "it sets the music free!". I thought that was just hype at the time, but, the buds in the other ear now and that's the only way I can describe it! I'm listening to a lot of music I owned, but, never bothered to play before. Currently, I'm in the phase that most new owners go through where they're loading up as many old CDs as they can. I'm up to about 75 albums now with over a thousand songs. I've got another 20 albums waiting to load up. I've rediscovered some old Kalapana, Country Comfort, ki hoalu and Brothers Caz I'd forgotten I'd had. Nothing like shoveling snow while listening to Gabby Pahinui and the sounds of the tropics!

But, since this is a ballet blog, I'll skip over most of the podcasts and videoblogs I download on a daily basis. (Who has time to listen to so much product anymore?) I'll mention a few of the dance-oriented downloads available from iTunes: theWinger.Com, SFB and PNB. It's a chance to access dance offerings from around the country. And, because my iTouch has WiFi capability and a button for YouTube, I can search for and access new viral ballet video at my neighborhood Panera or hot-spot coffee shop.

But, here's the other exciting thing: making all the ballet class music available without having to waste valuable class time switching the record, the 8-track, the cassette or CD. I can plan a class while listening to my MP3 player in the office or (safely) car and, then, I can patch that music directly into the studio amplifier during class. (Couldn't resist and bought the necessary cords without waiting for Santa!) I'm planning to create a playlist with all the class music from all the CCDC CDs. That means I won't be confined to one recording while planning or giving class. I can't adjust the pitch like I can with CDs, but, I should have access to enough different pieces to make up for that lack.

The other thing I appreciate is the ability to purchase and download new class music at light speed. I searched for "ballet" in the iTunes store and a number of ballet class albums came up. That includes the talented Lisa Harris catalogue. And, the cost is at a significant savings over other media with no shipping costs! There was a problem with the download on two of the three albums I bought, but, the program kept at it until all the tunes showed up a few days later. You can also burn these to CD for use in a variable pitch player for even more options!

And, here's another technological postscript, I was just tossed a digital video camera at work the other day. It connects directly to my computer via a USB port. That means I can use it to record and upload content to the website eventually. Hmm...the possiblities are mind-boggling!o) New ballet classes or Pas de Deux basics on your iPod NE1?

12.15.2007: Patz O' De Back

Summer session audition season's about to begin in earnest. But, congrats already in order to CCDC's Margaruite du Armaund! She received an invitation in the snail-mail recently from the Kirov Ballet of Washington D.C. for the 2008 Summer Session already. They remember her from last summer and want her back...Congrats also in order to Sleeping Cutie! You recall she was offered a year-round position at the Kirov School before deciding to stick with the Capital City Dance Center PreProfessional Ballet Program. Apparently, SarAurorah getting some personal corrections from the professional male guest artist of the Nutcracker she was involved with. Remember, corrections are compliments in the ballet world! He was just warming up and watching her when he gave her feedback on her arabesque. Strangely enough, they were some of the same corrections she already gets in class. Coincidence? I think not! And, then, she pique'd and, then, just STUCK a KILLER arabesque on her second side according to my spies...Kudos also in order for Katya de la Clan Wootang! Hand-picked and personally invited by the directors of her Nutcracker to perform a difficult Snow Pas de Deux. Must have been frustrating for all the senior dancers at the directors' own dance schools not to have a chance to audition for or perform that piece. Coincidence? I think not! Could it be tacit admission of the indifferent ballet training at those studios? (snark, snark!o)...and is that Chester's hot not-so-li'l mama I keep seeing on the silver screen recently?...Never thought I'd say it, but, I'm already getting nostalgic for the Nutcracker Princess' reverent face peering out from every newspaper page I open! Maluhia out!o)

12.13.2007: Dance Disorders

(Courtesy CCDancedoC) A rapidly spreading pandemic of "knee"-sles has been confirmed in dance studios across the country. Noted Ballet Mistress Melissa Uyehara says the disorder is often fatal to an aspiring dancer's career. She defines "knee-sles" as the apparent inability to FULLY STRETCH the knee when it's located behind the body. "Positions like arabesque or tendu derriere shouldn't be 'out of sight, out of mind'. They should be some of the longest lines in the classical repertory," she said. "That back knee needs to be not just straight, but, stretched." She added, "Remember that old ballet adage: It's not how long your leg is...it's how you make your leg long."

But, experts also report a rash of other dance disorders persisting despite the best efforts of good instructors. In an effort to inoculate the dance community from the spread of further deficiencies, Capital City Dance Center and the Federal Bureau of Ballet Standards today released the following list:

Mirror-itis:
Over fixation on staring at self in the mirror. Often causes loss of proper tilts and turns of the head.

Toes-acea:
Chronic inability to completely point the pedal extremities. Can lead to terminal arch-nophobia, improper use or lack of use of the entire foot and ankle.

Chicken Pox or, more fully, Chicken Wing Pox:
Dropped elbows and fingers causes sufferers to look like they're extending sad, plucked little 'chicken wings' to the side.

Epaule' Virus:
Inability to spiral body gracefully to address the shoulders with an uplifted chin and focus. Shoulder blades need to remain engaged and under.

Chronic Cranial Absencia or Sporadic Space Case-dness:
Lack of concentration or attention when teacher is giving combination or corrections. Leads to lack of retention. Sometimes known as "In One Ear And Out The Other" Syndrome.

Posterior Protrusion usually accompanied by Abdominal Obtrusion:
Often caused by improper pelvic placement. Symptoms are self-explanatory...and will only get bigger.

Turner-culosis:
Inexplicable disappearing act during pirouettes. Instead of lifting more by pushing into the floor and speeding up the turns by getting taller and tighter, sufferers just waste away during the end of turns.

Selective Hearing:
Similar to Chronic Cranial Absencia. When students stop listening after only hearing part of a correction or compliment. Often leads to misunderstandings.

Floor-us Fixation:
An unexplained fascination with looking down at one's feet. Occasionally accompanied by hiccups.

Fellow Fever or Fellow Spotted Fever:
Reduces many otherwise serious dancers to giggling messes and flirtatious behavior when new, hot guy takes class. (Even not-hot-guys! And, if this isn't incentive for you boyz 2 men to volunteer for partnering class, I don't know how to spell it out plainer!) But, girls, if it's not Channing Tatum, Bloom or Depp, bat your eyelashes on your own time!o)

12.7.2007: From The eMail Bag

Feedback from a first time IDT participant:
"...I just wanted to take a minute to let you know how much (my daughter) and I both enjoyed the Civic Center’s production (of Nutcracker) this year. Not only was it more convenient (drive time), but (she) really was able to connect with more gals from (her school) who dance at other studios. She did not have a clue about how many of her other classmates at school danced. I think that is great!

Your skills as a teacher really showed thru on the gals that you helped to clean. All of your students did a very fine job up on stage. They have a lot of skill and confidence compared to the others!"

12.3.2007: Ballet Connisseur Reax

Let the debate begin! This reader insists a recent performance was "more than mediocre":
"...I read the little 13-year-old's review of the Moscow Ballet's Nut. I could understand why she said what she did. But I'm also sympathetic to a few things too. What made it the most mediocre were the local dancers (I think they were from a Perry dance studio (maybe I'm not sure)). The local dancers were pretty sad! Some of the older pre-teens were kind of like my 4-year-olds that I teach who have so much potential. So I have to say that made me sad. I can see why Moscow Ballet involves local dancers. Otherwise, they would run the risk of having nobody in their audience.

Their corps was better than mediocre. Definitely uneventful - but we all know how hard it is to get a corps de ballet to all be together with heads, legs, and arms all going the same way with floor patterns precise and accurate. CCDC corps could have done as nice of a job, but how fortunate they were to have as many males as females dancing in their corps! So that was refreshing to see when you're starved for ballet...

I really thought their soloists did a very nice job. The local dancers often detracted from the soloists. They would put the local children out in front of the professional soloists. I learned to block the little local chilren out of my brain so that I could appreciate the soloists. The Arabian dancer was quite lovely. She really felt the music (in addition to being amazingly flexible)...

...Obviously, this is only a city civic dance company. It's not a national ballet company like Kirov, Bolshoi, Paris Opera, Royal Ballet, English Festival, NYCB, or ABT (etc.). It's a city ballet company from Russia. But it seems to be all we have tromping through our neck of the woods. ..."

What do you think? Thoughtful contributions welcome!

12.1.2007: Indy Champ Wins!

Finally got a chance to watch the grand finale' of DWTS. I was happily surprised to discover the American public agreeing with my choice again this time! Helio Castroneves and professional partner Julianne Hough edging out Mel Scary Spice B and Max Chermokovsky. This makes the young Julianne another double-winner after coaching Olympic gold-medalist Apolo Anton Ohno to the mirror-ball trophy last season. This sets up a potential show-down with the only other DWTS double-winner, professional Cheryl Burke. But, I think it's more than the luck of the draw. (Although, admittedly, Burke was handicapped with the ponderous, heavy-footed Wayne Mister Las Vegas Newton---proving that old adage "What happens in Vegas...should stay in Vegas!") If you take a look back at the recent winners, most of them are (ahem!o) like me! You know, "small, dark and handsome"!o) (Okay, okay! 2 outta 3 ain't bad 4 me!) Drew Lachey, Ohno and Castroneves are all short in stature, but, big in coordination and charisma! (1424me!o) If past is truly prologue, the track record shows Hough has a good chance at becoming the first three-time winner. Because she's short and slim enough to partner with shorter, smaller men, that should give her the "inside track" at another coordinated and charismatic partner next season. (Charisma is a given most times. You're not invited to compete unless you're already a "star" in some field.) I know that Burke was paired with Lachey to win Season Two, but, that was before Julianne was even old enough to vote! Because of frame, Hough pairs up better with a shorter star and that gives her the advantage. Now, I'm not saying a big man can't win. Watching Max dance always makes me appreciate a big man who moves well. And, Mario Lopez and Emmit Smith were mucho macho exceptions to the rule. But, it's always harder for a bigger body to move with the attack and precision a smaller person can. Plus, it's harder to hide flaws like hiked shoulders or poor posture. (Think Clyde The Glide Drexler, Master P-Stands-4-Pathetic or even the San Francisco treat, Jerry Rice!o) This doesn't augur well for taller professionals like Kym Johnson or Edyta Slavinskaya. I'm not saying it can't be done. Johnson won the Aussie version of DWTS. And, another example, look how stunning Stacey Keibler looked in pushing Lachey and Rice in that stellar season. But, it's always easier for females to dance well because of the anti-dance brain-washing endemic and pandemic to American society. (Plus, Keibler had dance training when she was a li'l elf!) I look forward to the season another tall male comes out of nowhere to seize the mirror-ball trophy. (Hmm, what's Tom Selleck doing next season?) Until then, you can depend on three things: bet on the models to be eliminated first (unless an unusually coordinated supermodel enters the fray), don't bet against the athletes after three winners and good showings recently and the "host with the most", Tom Bergeron, will always makes me smile. He works hard to make it look easy, but, believe me, he's the Bob Costas of TV show hosting. Oh, and all the previews for Dance Wars aren't making me any more excited about next month's premiere. But, if it's dancin', I'll be watchin'!o)

11.29.2007: eFAQ Addendum

From the No Silly Questions Department. Parents of young dancers should take note of this Frequently Asked Query:
"...I know that...they aren't supposed to wear skirts...(But)...My question (for my young daughter) is, do they normally not wear underwear under their leotards? I just noticed that her underwear is sticking out on all sides and looks kind of tacky, but I didn't quite know how you guys managed that.

Sorry for the silliness...you can tell I never danced...:)"

Here's the answer from Capital City Dance Center Artistic Director Melissa U:

"...Not a silly question at all...most people don't realize or know this.

No underwear, her tights are her underwear when wearing a leotard. ..."

...And, there's a gender difference, of course.

11.27.2007: Kick-Line Conundrum

Just got an e-plea for help this morning from a co-worker, Brad E, who also appears on local television:
"...I’m dancing with the Rockettes this Friday AM at 6:15 on CH 13.

Could I get a quick training session sometime this week during work hours?

I must redeem myself!..."

Just some background here. Brad told me the last time he danced in public (He was competing in a charity fundraiser for Habitat for Humanity), his feet flew out from under him during a kickline and he landed with a loud thud on his behind. He's actually pretty coordinated and did some work-outs with me before Sunday classes. All he needed was a little reassurance. So, I wrote back:
"...B-Rad, you don’t need my help! You’ll be fabulous! I’m sure job offers will be coming your way from Rockettes after they see you cut the rug!

But, if I were you, I’d be working on strengthening my core this week.
Be sure to wear shoes that won’t slip or stick too much on whatever surface you’ll be dancing on.
I’d wear a jock and loose enough pants that won’t split on high kicks.
Stretch as much as possible after warming up every day this week.

You’ll be great! Looking forward to watch your successful return to dance on YouTube.Com after you’re done!..."
Brad replied:
"...Hahaha I forgot about youtube! Ok bud… Sticky shoes and stretching!..."
And, I wrote back:
"...Don’t forget! Core strengthening! Aerobic conditioning! Not *TOO* sticky shoes! That makes it hard to dance, too. Are you going to be on slick concrete?..."
"...I’ll probably be on the concrete studio floor..."
"...You might want to test out which shoes are best on that surface. Relax, Frankie Goes 2 Hollywood! You’ll be great! Take a deep breath and enjoy being in the company of some very pretty professional dancers!..."
Tune in to watch the results next Friday morning! (And, ask me about the time I set up Brad with the older sister of a current CCDC student!o)

11.26.2007: Archival Copy

Found a disk of some of my old postings from the old Alt.Arts.Ballet UseNet Discussion Group:
I was in Milwaukee for business this past weekend...and, as usual, I was looking for a ballet class to take in my spare time. Unfortunately, the Milwaukee Ballet was done for the season and the school was in hiatus before summer classes resumed. But, I soon discovered there's more ballet in the Brew City than just one company. I called around and arranged to take classes at Danceworks on Thursday night and Ballet Wisconsin on Friday morning.

So, I'm at the new Danceworks studio in the Northern Lights building getting ready to take class when who should rush in late but an AAB regular? I didn't know it then but...the other guy in class turned out to be "Pumukau". (And, before all you women e-mail me for a description: He's about 6'5" and a macho mass of rippling muscle and flawless ballet technique. He looks a lot like Fabio before his close encounter with that flying drama critic.)

We started talking after class and I asked him when how he started dancing. His story sounded familiar and I figured out I'd read it before on an AAB thread. One thing lead to another and he finally confessed to being the infamous "Pumukau"! And, here I thought, he was just an urban legend! Reminds me of the time I met Baryshnikov at Stanley Holden's...but, that's another story.

I encourage everyone to take classes in whatever city or town or hamlet they find themselves in. You never know when you might stumble across one of these humble "Guys of Truth"!

The class itself was fine. I found myself nodding along in agreement with a lot of the corrections the teacher was giving: lengthening from a strong center. But, because it was an intermediate level class, I had to speed up some of the combinations...half-time pique turns are just too cumbersome after the first half of a diagonal.

Class was 8:00-9:30pm, Thursday night. I rarely find classes that late unless I'm in a much bigger metropolitan area. I may have to rearrange all my preconceived notions of Wisconsin and Milwaukee after all.

Second class review to follow.


One thing I learned doing stand-up...timing is everything. And this past weekend was apparently not the time to be looking for a ballet class in the Albany area. I was told by one of the guys I work with that it was graduation weekend in upstate New York. So, even the traveling circus I was a part of had sparse attendance at the Pepsi Arena (formerly Knickerbocker Arena) Saturday night.

Not that I didn't try...Even I'd heard of the Albany Berkshire Ballet...but, they weren't in session. Neither was the Albany Institute of Dance. No ballet classes at the Eba Dance Company or Cupertino's classes at the Egg. Despite a tip from the internet, the Hallenbeck Studios was only open Monday through Thursday. State University of New York at Albany had zero dance classes for the summer. The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce wasn't able to help me either. Ended up giving myself barre at the hotel...bleach! socks on carpet!

I've been to Albany three times over the past five summers...I have yet to get a class there yet. Same situation in Memphis...but, the franchise there has moved to Portland. Still haven't gotten a class in either city.

Well, only one scheduled road trip left for the regular season. To the Meadowlands in New Jersey. Last time I was there, I visited New York City for the first time in my life and took class at Steps. Does anyone have any suggestions on a good class in the City...or should I stick to Steps?


There should be a law against dancing on concrete. It should be treated like suicide. If you survive, you're charged with hard "substance abuse" and get put away until you promise to behave. So, I have no excuse for what happened after I discreetly pried up an edge of the marley at Ballet Wisconsin in Milwaukee and saw nothing between marley and cement but a quarter inch of foam padding. I should've gotten my money back and walked out right there...but, I'd traveled from my hotel and searched out this studio, walked around for an hour to kill time until the building opened up...I needed a class. I told myself I'd just do barre and no jumps.

Silly, silly me! ...that's like an alcoholic saying I'll just wet my lips...Donald Trump saying I'll just marry this one blonde...Dennis Rodman saying, OK, maybe one tattoo...President Clinton saying just this one... Well...you get the picture.

So, I ended up taking class. The barre was tricky, lots of changing legs. I didn't mind---It wasn't a professional class, it was a school class. Four female students, most with good proportions. Two(!) other guys there. One, a tall, well-formed professional...practicing entrelaces with battu and double tour to arabesque. (He kept drifting in and out of class which I thought was distracting and insulting to the teacher. But, she just ignored it.) The other guy was just beyond beginning---couldn't quite get all the combination if he was in front, but could follow fine.

But, the concrete started taking its toll. One of the girls sat down after barre and started icing an injury. I'm sure the hard surface didn't help. I kept going until the second small jump combination. Then, I apologized, limped to the side of the room and sat down and watched the rest of class. I couldn't help but wince at the grand allegro:

Echappe' to seconde, sissone to arabesque, saute' faille' to fouette' arabesque, saute' faille' to fouette' arabesque, releve'. Faille' through chasse' to jete' a la bournonville twice. Contre temps to tombe', pas de bourre', saut de chat...or in the case of the boys...double tour en l'air.

I'm glad I stopped. I should have stopped sooner. The only bad injury I had during my performing career was tendonitis and strain brought on by a season on a hard floor in a new studio. And that was marley over wood over concrete...not marley over concrete. I can't believe that a professional company would allow its dancers to rehearse and perform (the studio was also a performance space) on such an unforgiving surface. In their defense, I was told the company was moving to another studio at the end of the summer. God bless 'em...I hope the dancers survive 'til then.

I limped back to my hotel room and spent the rest of the afternoon icing my feet and knees. I took the next day off from dancing...but I could still feel it in my body in class the day after that. There oughta be a law...


Disclaimer: this review is being posted in response to an offer for a complimentary copy of the c-d.

Roger Hewett tries to be all things to all dancers in his "ballet Elite" class c-d...and, for the most part, he succeeds. There are two bands and tempi for plies. (Both 3/4 time, which I prefer!) Four for tendu/degages...three for batterie/frappes, etc. If you don't have pitch control on your c-d player (which he recommends in his liner notes) or access to a small library of c-d's, "ballet Elite" is the next best thing to having live accompaniment. If you're a teacher who's trying to achieve a specific result with a specific exercise at the barre, it can be very frustrating to be fighting a fixed tempo. "ballet Elite" gives you the luxury of different cuts for the same exercise.

The orchestration can take a little getting used to...one of the dancers I gave class to mentioned it sounded "Disney-esque...but, not in a bad way". I'm sure the arrangements could help develop musical appreciation in students. At worst, the orchestration can be a little distracting. At best, the arrangements will encourage a little more artistic flair and interpretation during class.

Be aware there are a lot of cuts on this c-d (37) and none of them repeat, even the barre exercises. If you don't have a remote on your player, you might want to get one. What's exciting for me is the extra cuts at the end of a complete class...music for "variations". Not just classical variations either, but original compositions patterned after well-known composers. It's an opportunity to put your own stamp on steps for a variations or pas de deux class.

What can I quibble about? Well, I don't like the cover art very much. A photo or better sketch of a dancer could be much more aesthetic. And there's a lot of information about the c-d in the accompanying literature. I just wish that was included in the liner notes so I wouldn't have to keep referring to extra papers cluttering up my dance bag. And, I'm a slow-turner so no one ever plays a big-enough and slow-enough waltz for balancing pirouettes for my taste. Quicker turns can be murder when I'm concentrating on my own or my students' placement.

Still, the experience Hewett has gained by actually playing for ballet classes for over twenty years shines through his arrangements. Very dancer-friendly, very teacher-friendly. When you work with a Lynn Stanford class C-D, for example, you know that he paid his dues. The best way to learn how to play for class is to play for class...day after day after day. Roger Hewett has paid his dues as well, and teachers and dancers everywhere can reap the benefits on his "ballet Elite" class c-d.

Visit "www3.symaptico.ca/roger.hewett" or E-mail me with any questions.



11.20.2007: From Russia, With Indifference...again!

Apparently, not much of a turn-out for the Moscow Ballet's Nutcracker performance in the Capital City last week. I couldn't go because I was in class. (Not sure I would've gone anyway. Relatively pricey!) So, I asked a Capital City Dance Center student who went what she thought. She's only 13 or so, but, she said, "Mediocre". That impressed me a lot! First of all, I don't think I even knew what 'mediocre' meant until I was, oh, at least college! Secondly, I was blown away by her very mature assessment! Most of the uneducated public think any ballet from Russia is automatically good. And, almost all kids are overwhelmed by "pretty costumes" and colorful sets. But, not in this case. When I asked her for more details, she said she liked the Arabian variation because the dancer was very flexible. She thought the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Cavalier weren't too bad. But, she didn't like the corps de ballet and thought technical details overall were lacking. I think her level of critical awareness at such a young age is unexpected and very promising. I call her the "Ballet Connisseur" now! She's become a dance "gourmet", a "terpsichorean epicure"! She won't settle for "fast food" dancing. We've trained her to start to recognize excellence in herself and others and not to settle for less. And, when she sees the best dancers dancing, she will enjoy it all the more. Much, MUCH more than those only passingly familiar with the art form! I also used Ballet Connisseur as an example in class the other night. I told the dancers to learn to develop their critical eye. Whenever you watch a performance, compare the dancers on stage with each other. Why do you watch this one rather than that one? Why does your eye drift to this performer rather than that one? What do you like about the dancing? What do you not like? Can you apply that to your own training? And, use your new critical eye especially if you're cast in or going to one of the local assorted Nuts. Watch the guest artists. Are they good? Or, are they just supposed to be good? Relying on reputation? Can you apply what they do well to what you're trying to do well? But, too many carpet-bagging guest artists just assume the locals are rubes who don't know a temps lie' from a temps leve'. Can't tell the difference between en face and efface'. Don't be a "fast-food" dance consumer! Become your own Ballet Connisseur! Thanks, BC! Good job!

11.16.2007: Common Question

Got this in the e-mailbag this morning:
"...Just a quick question.....I have been watching the website and perhaps I have missed it, but I am wondering about ballet over the Thanksgiving break. If there are going to be classes, will they be posted on the website?..."
So, I released this to the ether:
"...Haven't gotten my official work schedule over Thnksgvng, so I can't set break classes yet. But, it will show up on the website asap..."

11.15.2007: Not So Nutty

So, why am I not writing more about the "world famous Moscow Ballet" coming to the Capital City area to perform the Nutcracker tonight? Well, first of all, it's the Nutcracker. 'Nuff said. I've blogged reams about professional dancers' "love-hate" relationship with the perennial Tchaikovsky classic. And, secondly, have you read my review of the Moscow Festival Ballet's paltry Cinderella from a few years ago? Is this the same or a similar rag-tag, pick-up group trying to cash-in on the reputation of real Russian Ballet? If it's not the Bolshoi, Kirov, Moiseyev or, now, the Georgian State Ballet, I'm hesitant. So, if anyone catches this performance tonight (I'll be in class), send me your reaction and I'll put your review on-line. If I'm wrong, I'll apologize. But, I've been burned too many times by aging, over-weight, balding, pot-bellied, long-in-the-tooth or injured dancers who pas de valse through the area assuming we're all too ignorant to hold them to professional standards. (Last year, a too-young dancer guested as a less than stellar Sugarplum Fairy for a local troupe.) Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice and who's the fool? (But, I also remember a young guest principal male from Boston Ballet who performed an amazing variation one year. Started off with a jaw-dropping, sky-rocketing revoltade double! Yes, I said DOUBLE! Duh!) (Okay, now that I think about it, I used to perform that step...but, not while looking like I was hovering near the rafters!)

11.14.2007: Corrections=Compliments!

"Why are you picking on me?"

She said it with a smile, but, it was obvious the relatively new student didn't understand that in dance classes---and, especially, ballet classes---corrections are a good thing. Corrections are compliments to ballet dancers. It means the teacher/choreographer/director/person-who-signs-paychecks-and-hires-and-fires-dancers is paying attention to you and thinks you are capable of doing better. Woe to the dancer who gets no corrections...or the same corrections all the time! (Sound familiar, NE1?) And, one usually leads to the other. Either you're perfect (HIGHLY unlikely--- ask me about the time I saw Misha, himself, getting corrected in Stanley Holden's classes!) or the teacher has given up on you. Temporarily or permanently. So, corrections are a good thing and it was up to me to use this "teachable moment" to communicate that to a few dancers.

"Why do I pick on you?" I asked as I shot my eyebrows skyward. (Ever the performer!) "I pick on you because you...and you!" (I pointed to another student "cursed by fabulous potential" nearby) "...could become one of the best, if not THE best dancer to ever come out of CCDC, out of this city, out of this state! But, it's not going to happen unless I keep pushing you and you keep working harder than you've ever worked before. Every. Day."

I looked intently at both of them without smiling to prove I wasn't kidding around. (Eyebrows in neutral.) I think they were briefly considering the heady possibility of being "the best" to ever come out of the state, out of the region. That sobered them up considerably. When you're that age you never consider the possibility of being the absolute best at anything. Shawn Johnson's of the world are rare, few and far between. My two dancers were both extraordinarily gifted, but, had no clue what to do with their instruments. It was as if I were a violin teacher condemned to play on a cigar box fiddle all my career and was watching students fooling around with rare Stradivarius Violins. If I had had such a similar instrument, I'd have been able to ascend out of the minor leagues of dance. I coulda been a contender! But, what is is what is.

"To whom much is given, much is expected, Spiderman!" I said with just the hint of a smile. (Eyebrows dancing lightly) That quote far preceded the Toby Spiderman Maguire movies, but, this generation is more familiar with recent offerings. "Cursed with great potential" is what I call it: good teachers will not let someone with such potential just skate by.

"...And, that's why I pick on you," I concluded. "You should start worrying if I ever STOP correcting you. Now, do it again WITH the corrections please..."

So, Grasshopper, take all your classes, and more, if you can. Work hard. Apply your corrections, more than you think. Until the teacher says "OK, a little less now!" ('Cuz that NEVER happens!) And, "steal" everyone else's corrections as well. Time is short and the water's rising. Just ask the upperclassmen at CCDC working currently to correct things they thought they had all the time in the world to correct. Time is short and the water's rising and miles to go before we sleep. So, do it again and, this time, with EVERYONE'S corrections...

11.13.2007: iCrazy4NuiPod

Why didn't someone tell me earlier??? I just added another ring of bark to my already massive trunk and got a new battery for the celebration. (Don't ask!) But, best of all I got this new Video iPod! Now, I'm spending too much time at the iTunes Store. At first I bought a couple of ki ho'alu songs from my old hometown of Honolulu. But, I quickly figured out there's a plethora of "phree" audio and video podcasts available for the taking. I signed up for free daily and weekly videocasts of yoga workouts as well as some sports stuff. But, right now, I'm also downloading the PBS Great Performances documentary on Rudolf Nureyev. I'd complained earlier about our local affiliate choosing NOT to air it locally. But, now, that I'm living in the 21st Century---finally! I can get it off the web. And, FOR FREE! My mind is boggled! Now, I'm wildly considering putting my own podcasts up for grabs: pas de deux basics, perhaps, or a new ballet class everyday, the Dancer's Warm-up or the Lengthen, Strengthen and Stretch Floor Barre. Or perhaps just enough to tease and, then, a nominal charge for the rest. Hey, suddenly, my future as a "content-provider" looks so bright, I'm gonna need shades! (To reference an old '80's song. Probably available at iTunes!) :o(PS-Okay, it's not working again. Does anybody know why that happens after big downloads?)

11.12.2007: Another Star is Born!

Proud Capital City Dance Center Young Children's Division Director Jill Andrews sends this along:
"...Lainey L won 7th place in the State High School Individual Dance Competition in the large school division. That's a pretty big deal since she's only a sophomore on the Urbandale Jaywalker dance team. She choreographed her own piece all by herself in a room at the Walnut Creek YMCA. The competition was held last week at Pella High School...

P.P.S. Lainey even chose and spliced her own music for her piece. She's got a lot of talent..."

11.8.2007: Mo Media Mentions

Just when you had enough of seeing the Reverent Nutcracker Princess's gorgeous face plastered all over the place, some other CCDC families getting their turn in the local media spotlight. They were featured in local television news reports recently. If you missed it, head to the WHO-TV website and search for the video labeled The China Effect. Li'l Alenah gets featured a lot in Part Two. Talk about telegenic! A STAR is born!

11.7.2007: Putting the "OH" in Odette!

Fresh from her University debut, the now worldly-wise Odette shares a few pearls:o)
"...My debut this weekend went very well. Unfortunately I didn't feel well prepared for the performance so I was a little nervous, but it turned out okay and I had a really good time performing it. The whole cast got really excited and pumped up right before we went on stage and the excitement helped get rid of some of the nervousness. Some of my friends from dance classes here, my mom, (sister) and (Myrtha) all came to see me. I didn't feel like I made any mistakes, surprisingly. The final performance was actually the best the piece had ever gone for me. The only thing that I wish I had known before I performed was what tempo the music was going to be. We danced to live music and only got to practice with the musicians a couple of times before the show. It was really difficult to stay with the music sometimes especially when it got really fast, but I think it still looked pretty good. Although this performance went very well, I'm hoping that the next one will be even better. I will definitely be better prepared next time. The one thing that I learned in this performance that I will take back to class with me is confidence. The choreographer kept telling me that I was beautiful and I knew the movement, I just needed to be more confident. Starting rehearsals at the same time as the rest of the cast instead of six weeks later probably would have helped with the confidence issue, but it is still something that I am going to work on.

I noticed that there is an article about the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane performance posted on the CCDC web site. I just got back from the show and it was very interesting. I liked it and there was some good dancing, I'm just not sure that I really understood it. I'm being exposed to a lot of different types of dancing here and I definitely had more of an open mind going into it than I would have a year ago, but it was still a little shocking. It was a good learning experience and I'm glad that I got the opportunity to see it.

Also, did you hear that the Moscow Ballet is performing the Nutcracker at Vets Auditorium on November 15th! I mentioned it to a group of friends before the Bill T. Jones/ Arnie Zane performance and they all freaked out. So, I'm currently working on talking my parents into driving us all...to see it. We'll see how it goes..."

11.7.2007: Dancing 4 Dollars

Hey all you starving, over-worked, underpaid, over-18 dancers! Does this look intriguing?
"...The Tournament will have one (1) winner, who shall win $5,000.00 ("Prize")...(If you make it in) The odds of winning are 1:32. ..."
All you have to do is video you or your group's dance...in your underwear! It's called UnderWars. Sponsored by Jockey.

11.5.2007: Message from Melissa

These should be handed out soon:
Dear CCDC parents and students:

Can you believe it’s November already? The Holidays will be here before you know it! But, before we get too much farther along in the school year, I want to take a moment to remind you all of some policies and give you some dates to write on your calendars.

RECITAL: (tentative Recital Week June 2nd-June 8th)

Each year CCDC does an end of the year production. For this production we perform a ballet which includes all levels of Ballet classes starting with Creative Movement through Ballet 6. After the ballet we do the second part of our show which includes all Tap classes, Jazz and all Open Division Classes (Hiphop, Lyrical, Tap, Modern, Highland and Jazz).

*In order to participate in recital, a recital fee of $45 must be paid, This fee was due in October as stated on the school Calendar. This fee is refundable through December 22nd. However, if I do not receive payment by November 15th or written notice that the student will not be participating in the recital, there will be a $15 late fee added to your bill. The recital fee lets CCDC know that costumes should be ordered for the student. Costume photos and prices will start appearing in the CCDC lobby by January and February. The full costume payments are due by February 23rd.

TUITION:

Tuition payment is due the beginning of every month. After the 10th, a $15 late fee is charged to the account and will be charged again if late longer then this. Statements are only sent if payments and fees are late.

HOLIDAY CLASS CHANGES:

  • November 19th, Ballet 4, 5 & 6 combined at 6:45-8:45

  • November 19th and 21st, Ballet 4, 5, 6: a warm up class will be given at CCDC for those in IDT Nutcracker. Time: To Be Announced.

  • November 21st -November 25th, Thanksgiving Break

  • December 22nd, Modern A and Jazz A Cancelled (Make up Jan 5th: Jazz A 11am-11:30 and Modern A 11:30am-12 noon)

  • December 24th-January 6th, Winter Break

BAD WEATHER:

CCDC cancels classes if Urbandale Schools let out early or cancel completely. If anything develops later, we always put it on the website (GoCCDC.Com) and on the phone message of the school (276-1646).

HAS YOUR CHILD BEEN MISSING CLASSES?

A student is always encouraged to make up missed classes on another night of their level or the one below theirs. In Hiphop A and missed? The student can always take another Level A class to make up. Or, check with your child’s instructor.

DRESS CODE:

Please remember (Ballet 1 and up) NO SKIRTS allowed in ballet classes. Instructors need to see and reinforce proper dance technique. Ballet 4 and up should also have their hair in a bun if long enough. A clip may be used or hair pins with a hair net. Long hair can whip into eyes during turns if not secured properly.

Thank you all for dancing with us at CCDC! As always, if you have questions please email us (Missy@GoCCDC.Com) for quickest response or call 276-1646.

Sincerely,
Melissa (Missy) Uyehara
Missy@GoCCDC.Com

11.5.2007: Ode 2 Odette

Let's c if Odette has time to respond 2 this:
"So…how’d your University debut go this past weekend?
  • How nervous were you?

  • Did you have a good time?

  • Who was there to see you?

  • Make any mistakes? What was the best part?

  • What do you know now that you wished you knew before you performed?

  • How much better will you be next time?

  • What will you take back with you to class?

Drop me a few lines and I’ll put it on the web!

Congrats!"

11.2.2007: Shock 2 The World!

*** SPOILER ALERT 4 DWTS!!! Read no further if you don't want to learn about what happened this week! ***

After-shocks as DWTS fans just start picking their jaws off the ground. Witness this following e-mail exchange:

"...Didn't remember to tape the results show this week so I just saw who got voted off Dancing with the stars. I won't tell you cause I know you try to avoid it. But I will just say it was a terrible mis-justice..."

"...I haven't watched it yet either. But, this was such unexpected big news, I couldn't avoid seeing the results, too.

And, I agree with you. The Osmond, the Soap Star, even, the x90210er should've gone first. Even the Indy 500 Champ's been sputtering lately after a strong first two weeks.

Do you want me to try and save the results show tape 4 ya?"

"...Don't worry about saving the results show - don't know when we'd find time to watch it. But I think Seymour or Osmond should have gone home. Both nice ladies but Sabrina was far superior. What...were the voters thinking?!"

11.1.2007: Exclusive Interview!

"Who was that masked man?"

Just one of the questions on the minds of many Capital City Dance Center students this past Halloween after an apparent super-hero wanna-be burst into the Advanced Tap and Adult Jazz Classes Wednesday night.

"He just flew around the room!" laughed one CCDC instructor.

Well, because "inquiring minds wanna know", the CCDancedoC caught up the mystery hero (?) or zero and asked a few FAQs:

CCDC: "Who are you?"

Mystery Man: "You can call me The Harbinger of Heat! Or...just "hot guy" for short."

CCDC: "Is that why you wear a black bandana with 'Hot' written in flames on your forehead?"

Hot Guy: "Is that a question or an observation?"

CCDC: "A little of both actually, but, what are your super powers?"

Hot Guy: "Well...uh...I make villains burst out laughing and they are powerless to resist officers of the law! And, I give good therapeutic back and foot rubs!"

CCDC: "I like your cape! Tell me about it."

Hot Guy: "Well, I borrowed it from a sorceress friend of mine. The Dread Necromanceress Rothbarta! Perhaps you've heard of her? Or, visited her website?"

CCDC: "Does it help you fly?"

Hot Guy: "Not actually. It's more of a fashion statement."

CCDC: "What were you doing at CCDC?"

Hot Guy: "Just trying to bring a little Halloween excitement to lives of ordinary citizens! Mingle with the fans. All that stuff. Wanted to teach a little Pas De Deux. But, that hasn't happened yet."

CCDC: "Can I take a picture?"

Hot Guy: "If you can catch me, you can try!"

...with that he flew off. And, none of my pictures of Hot Guy turned out. Why am I not surprised? And, why do I have a feeling, we haven't heard the last of...The Harbinger of Heat!

11.1.2007: Mistress of All Media

The University paper has a story about the dance concert that Odette wrote she was cast in earlier. And, is that her lurking in the background of one of the pix (number 4) in their slideshow? Hmmm, hard to tell. But, could they possibly turn out their supporting leg a little? Must not be her. Congrats to Odette! CCDC Modern/Pilates/Jazz/Yoga Instructor Alissa confirms it's quite an honor to be "asked" to participate in Dance Gala. Especially for a freshman! Merde to Odette! And, tell us when you get the lead in one of these things, 'k?

10.30.2007: A Wave From "Beyond the Grave"!

Reports of the demise of fair Giselle apparently greatly exaggerated. Witness the following e-mail from that other female:
"...Thanks so much for the card from everyone at the studio!
Tell everyone else thank you too. It made my day!

Thanks for sending me your Hubbard Street article. I agree with you -
I loved the first piece. The second was amazing as well, but the last two didn't appeal to me as much.

Hope everything is well with you!

Thanks again,
Elizabeth"

10.29.2007: E-Mail From Certain Female!

Odette lives! And, she even writes sporadically!:
"Hey everyone at CCDC!

I'm just e-mailing to let you know that I am going to be performing in Dance Gala this coming weekend. I didn't audition, but one of my ballet teachers told me that he was really disappointed that I didn't audition for his piece and he asked me if I would still learn it. The only problem is that by the time he told me this the rest of the cast had already learned the entire piece. It was really last minute for me and as a result I have only learned the first movement. The piece is called Evermore and it was choreographed by Eloy Barragan. It's a contemporary ballet-ish piece and it is supposed to reflect the happiness of a child's smile. I'll be performing it on Saturday the 3rd at 8:00. I know this is pretty last minute and my part is not a big deal so don't worry about coming, I just wanted to let you know.

I hope everything at CCDC is going well! Thank you for the card that you sent me, I loved it! I miss you all and I will see you at Thanksgiving!

~Sarah"

10.29.2007: Capital City Artz Shortz

As part of the Drake University Writers and Critics Series, award-winning poet Peggy Shumaker will read and discuss her two most recent books during a visit to Drake on Tuesday, Oct. 30.

Shumaker, who teaches in the MFA Rainier Writing Workshop, will give a presentation on her book Blaze and the process of collaboration in the Cowles Library Reading Room. Blaze is a book of poetry and paintings about the Alaskan landscape composed in collaboration with artist Kesler Woodward.

This collection brings together 30 years of Woodward's birch portraits and forest close-ups. Over those same 30 years, Shumaker has traveled inner landscapes via images drawn from two deserts -- the Sonoran and the Subarctic. Her poems embody the harsh beauty of heat and cold, the force of true extremes.

Shumaker has generously donated 100 copies of Blaze for distribution to anyone interested in attending the reading and discussion.

Shumaker will also read and discuss Just Breathe Normally, a collection of her brief lyrical nonfiction pieces, at 8 p.m. Oct. 30, in the Cowles Library Reading Room.


Join The Playhouse on Nov. 16 for The First Moccasins. This story is part of the 2007-08 season of Friday Funday, a creative participatory story theatre program for children ages 4-6. Performances are at The Playhouse, Friday, Nov. 16, at 9:30 and 10:30 AM, and 1:30 PM. Shows are approximately 45 minutes in length.

November's featured story is The First Moccasins. Chief Tenderfoot has a big problem. His bare feet always hurt, and now he has become the laughing stock of the entire village. Can the Medicine Man come up with a solution before it's too late? Come and share this Plains Indian tale.


The Art Center has released the Call for Entries for Iowa Artists 2008: Drawing. Submissions must be postmarked or hand-delivered to the Art Center by Saturday, December 8, 2007. There is no application fee.

The nature of this exhibition has varied from year to year, dependent upon the perspective of the curator. The exhibitions have ranged from multi-artist shows generated from an open call for entries to invitation-only solo exhibitions. Featured artists have ranged from Alex Brown, a fast-rising artist on the international art scene, to local craft artisans. As the term “drawing” is no longer defined by just pencil on paper, the works exhibited in this show will vary in scope, theme, and medium. Works may include – but are not limited to – traditional drawings; drawing-based prints; digital drawings; architectural, mechanical, engineering, and industrial drawings; scientific and medical illustrations, charts and maps; book illustrations; fashion designs; tattoo designs; choreographic notation; cartoons and comics; therapeutic drawings; wall drawings; drawing-based animation or film; and websites about drawing. Artists may even submit proposals for site-specific drawings to be created in the gallery.


10.26.2007: Prix Weak End Thots

You have to really be shunning the media not to hear what happened on the last DWTS. So, I've heard about the Great Swoon and who got shunted into the "red light district". But, I'm still bringing up the rear, waiting for the weak end to watch details on de-tape. So, no more spoilers here, but, sight unseen, I have to agree with the American voting public on this one. Check back 4 analysis...Walked into the CCDC lobby the other day and found a pair of "emerald" slippers on one of the benches. As I was puzzling over who left those, "a wee li'l fairy" wafted in and proudly pronounced "I'm Tinker-Ball!" It was the young daughter of CCDC Young Childrens Division Director Jill Andrews in full costume! Tinker-Ball shyly, but, proudly showed off her magic wand that actually lit up! So, I took her into the advanced class and told them to work hard and maybe, maybe someday they'd be able to earn as pretty a costume! I told Tinker-Ball, "I DO believe in fairies now! I do!" Little Miss Andrews is gonna break so many hearts as she grows up and she won't even know it...And, you have to be really shunning the media not to miss CCDC's Reverent One plastered on Nutcracker advertising all over the place. So, I asked her for her autograph between barre and center the other day and she just laughed. Rev admitted it was a little odd seeing her own face jump out of the paper everyday like that. I told her I could relate from that one article on me earlier this year. And, Rev says at least two people came up to her and asked if she was in the Nut. "But, nobody weird so far." She sounded disappointed, so, all you weird guys, here's your chance!...From the Didja Hear Department, a dance mag's reporting SYTYCD choreographer/judge Mia Michaels is hard at work developing a dance-oriented TV project. It's about dancers lives and the big finale' every week will be a dance number. Hmmm...Withholding judgment at this point. But, here's hoping it has a longer "shelf life" than J Lo's ill-fated Dance Life series earlier this year. Blink and you missed that one!...And, Natalia's Knees paying the price after a weak off out-of-state. She came back to some tough, tough Ballet VI and Ballet V-VI classes this week. But, Natasha actually did very well. I asked her if she stretched or did anything during her journey, but, she said "No". So, I was impressed at some strong balances and dancing her first day back. But, studies show muscles start to atrophy 24 hours with no exercise, so, I know she's hurting. Here's a suggestion to anyone who has to miss too many classes. Take a lower level class and build that ballet conditioning back up when you come back. It's more important the more advanced you are. And, try to do some stretching, core-strengthening, a few plie's, tendus, degage's and balances while you're away. Especially if you've been cramped up in a vehicle for hours on end. When I was in the company, we used to call that "car body" or "bus body" when we went on tour. (And, contrary to popular belief, we did not travel by "covered wagon" when I was dancing professionally. We actually used those new-fangled "horseless carriages"!) Mahalo e Maluhia out!o)

10.25.2007: La Bamba Groupie Alert!

Lou Diamond Phillips, star of Camelot, now playing at the Civic Center will visit Drake University today for an In the Actors Studio-style discussion.

Deena Conley, Drake assistant professor of theatre arts, will moderate the talk, which will take place from 2 to 3 p.m. in Bulldog Theater in Olmsted Center, 2875 University Ave. This event is free and open to the public.

Phillips is making his return to the stage as King Arthur in the Betts Broadway Series Presentation of Camelot, which runs through Sunday, Oct. 28. This follows his award-winning performance as the King of Siam in a stage revival of The King and I for which he received a Tony Award nomination, the New York Outer Critics Circle Award and a Theatre World Award. His extensive theater credits include A Hatful Of Rain, P.S. Your Cat Is Dead, The Lady's Not For Burning, Doctor Faustus, Hamlet and Whose Life Is It Anyway?

Phillips burst on the film scene in 1987's La Bamba as rocker Ritchie Valens. He followed this with another break-out performance in Stand and Deliver and received the Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actor and was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for his performance. His film career has continued with Young Guns, Young Guns II and Courage Under Fire. His extensive television career includes recent appearances on the CBS Series NUMB3RS, The Triangle on TNT and the Hallmark Channel's A Trail of Hope Lost.

Before Camelot, Phillips was in Spain to film part of Steven Soderbergh's Guerrilla, where he plays a Bolivian alongside revolutionary leader Che Guevara, played by Benicio del Toro.

10.23.2007: Better Late Than Never?

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago saved the best for first last Saturday night. The Civic Center was filling up to about two-thirds full when the curtain opened up early on an empty stage. But, the house lights stayed up for another ten minutes. Silently white feathers started falling in a slow-motion waterfall onto the stage. It was like seeing a Japanese brush painting serenely coming to life. For ten minutes, large, fluffy feathers drifted down and grew in a downy down-stage snow-drift. It was a very Zen-like atmosphere. (And, we had just eaten at the new Zen Sushi Bar in the nearby Hotel Kirkwood! BTW, if you ever enter a Japanese restaurant and they don't immediately all yell "welcome!" in Japanese ("Irrashaimase!"), then, you're in for very mediocre and American experience.) Suddenly, the dancers pushed three large squares of stage sets on-stage and the performance began. Company member Alejandro Cerrudo has, in Extremely Close, choreographed a complicated, enigmatic and evocative piece. The feathers didn't fall just to set an atmosphere. The slippery, sliding surface they created was an integral part of the shifting, dream-like choreography. It challenged the dancers and resulted in inventive, otherwise, impossible stepsliding. And, the three stage pieces weren't just props, but, used to create, frame, move, carry and dance with the dancers. Exits and entrances were hidden and revealed by the movement of the squares. The most successful section of Extremely Close was the central duet. The partners would take a form from each other, expand on it and return it to the other with a different energy and shape. It was the essence of a loving relationship made manifest in movement. Extremely Close was a rare performance treat, very theatrical and deeply symbolic, a trial run before a real premiere. The program explained it as "In Preview", not quite a world premiere for the local audience. Cerrudo is creative, imaginative, talented and a rising star to watch on the contemporary choreographic scene.

The second number, B-Sides (12" Mix), started off with a modern dance cliche': dancers upstage in dim light forming a pulsating, organic primordial ooze with movements growing, glowing and lurching like a demented lewd lava lamp. I call it resorting to the trite "evolution of movement" motif. But, even starting in such a cliche', the talented dancers of HSDC managed to make it much more. The pulsing, throbbing rave music of Hybrid set a template that the dancers followed and expanded upon. Very musical. But, the costume design was unsettling at best. It was as if designer Alec Donavan was told "as ugly as possible". Bootie shorts with suspenders and horizontal stripes? Post-modern lederhosen? And, that was for the guys! Fortunately, dancer bodies look good in (almost) anything. But, this was an extremely close call! Besides, after awhile, the B-Sides dancing distracted from the costuming.

Passomezzo was a duet by choreographer Ohad Naharin set on dancers Robyn Meneko Williams and the previously mentioned Cerrudo. It started off promising, but, quickly lost its charm when the steps and movement started resembling slapstick. The dancers never resorted to mugging for laughs, but, the choreographer had already done that with his steps. But, duck walks aren't humorous to me. They just look like they hurt.

A much more intelligent approach to humor wrapped up HSDC's program, noted choreographer Jiri Kylian's Sechs Tanze (Six Dances). In the program notes, the Nederlands Dans Theatre director writes "...I have set six seemingly nonsensical acts, which obviously ignore their surroundings. They are dwarfed in the face of the ever-present troubled world, which most of us for some unspecified reason carry in our souls." Call me shallow, but, the context for the dances to the Mozart music just didn't register with me. I saw a spoof of classical ballet, with sly digs at the pretentiousness and preening posturing of some ballet snobs. Some of the humor was broad and sophomoric (over-powdered wigs causing a dust storm on stage!) and some a little more sophisticated. But, it was informative to watch two different attempts at dance humor back-to-back. After all, creativity is often defined as the unexpected juxtaposition of unique elements.

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago has grown and evolved from the humble beginnings of Lou Conte's six dancers performing at nursing homes and on elementary school stages. But, I'm not the only one that might have been left on the way-side of that development to a world-class company. Unlike the first HSDC concert I saw that long-ago night at Castle High School theater, I was one of only a handful that rose to their feet during the prolonged applause that followed their performance. So, the question lingers, like a white feather slowly twisting in the wind: has Hubbard Street Dance Chicago outgrown their local audience?

10.23.2007: Metro Artz Shortz

Grace and athleticism, tradition and innovation combine Nov. 2 and 3 at Dance Gala, the premier event of the fall season for the University of Iowa Department of Dance. The event showcases the talents of one of the country’s most distinguished dance programs.

Dance Gala is one of more than a dozen opportunities on campus each year for dance students to perform, produce, and choreograph. They can also show their work in Iowa and surrounding states through the department’s touring company, Dancers in Company.

The University of Iowa brings many of the world’s best-known dance companies to perform at Hancher Auditorium. Dance students can experience these live performances, plus attend rehearsals and master’s classes, such as a recent visit by Hubbard Street Dance Company. And the Department of Dance guest artist program brings renowned choreographers and dancers to campus as well.

These experiences lead to accomplished dance careers. Graduate students from the Department of Dance have a more than 90 percent placement rate in the field, going on to perform with dance companies and to teach at universities around the country.

Dance Gala’s Allégro will captivate audiences with a diverse set of works by faculty and guest choreographers. The dance department’s pioneering faculty and talented students promise to make the event an unforgettable experience for audiences.


Art created by orangutans and bonobos at Great Ape Trust of Iowa will be featured in an exhibit Oct. 22-Nov. 25 at Zanzibar’s Coffee Adventures, 2723 Ingersoll Ave., Des Moines. The paintings in the Apes Helping Apes exhibit will be available for sale, with 100 percent of proceeds going to ape conservation in the wild. The five-week Apes Helping Apes exhibit is part of an ongoing commitment by Great Ape Trust to assist grassroots organizations supporting conservation initiatives for bonobos, chimpanzees and gorillas in Africa and orangutans in Asia. The situation is urgent. All great ape species are endangered in the wild. According to estimates compiled by Great Ape Trust, wild populations have declined 80 percent to 90 percent since 1900. Some subspecies, such as mountain gorillas, number only in the hundreds.

The apes creating the paintings for Apes Helping Apes did so voluntarily and as part of ongoing enrichment activities at Great Ape Trust, where scientific research seeks to understand the origins and future of culture, language, tool use and intelligence. The work at The Trust builds on a growing body of research that has found the four types of great ape – bonobos, orangutans, chimpanzees and gorillas – are thinking, self-aware and intelligent beings.


Drake University Theatre is presenting the second act of Joan Holden's play Nickel and Dimed to ninth graders at six Capital City area high schools this month, thanks to an $8,000 grant to Friends of Drake Arts. The play, based on the best-selling book by Barbara Ehrenreich, chronicles the experience of an undercover journalist as she moves across the country and takes on a series of low-wage jobs. In her attempt to discover whether or not Americans can get by on minimum wage, she lives the life of a housekeeper, waitress and discount-chain employee. Her experiment reveals some unsettling truths about the lives of American workers.

Moscow Ballet will celebrate its 15th anniversary U.S tour presenting the Great Russian Nutcracker and Swan Lake. Cast features luminaries of Perm, Vaganova, Moscow State Academic Choreographic and Kiev schools. Ballet master Vladimir Troschenko and Chief Choreographer Anatoli Ememliaov return as company Directors.

Vladimir Troschenko has partnered ballet legends; Nadia Pavlova, and Peoples’ Artists of the USSR, Ludmila Semenyaka and Galina Mezentseva. Troschenko continues the grand style of Russian classical ballet. Bridging the classical era with Russia’s new generation of dancers, Troscenko will introduce Prima ballerinas Masha Makerneko, Ekatherine Bortyakova (Winner Vaganova, Kazan, Arabesque IBCs) and Principal artists Dmitri Zavalevich and Akjol Musakhanov.

(Editor's Note: The company looks good on paper, but, is this the same group that brought such a mediocre Cinderella to the area a few years ago?)


10.22.2007: Hubbard Street Blues

Hubbard Street Dance Company has come a long way since the days I used to take company class every day from Ballet Master Warren Conover and the dancers at the old Lou Conte Studios on Wabash. I'd first seen HSDC at the Castle High School Auditorium just over the Ko'olaus from my hometown of Honolulu. At the time I'd never heard of them and I was very impressed. That show ended with a rousing standing ovation. This latest incarnation of the company that performed at the Civic Center this past weekend is much more sophisticated, artistically evolved and intellectually and choreographically demanding than when I trained alongside and auditioned for the troupe. But, sadly, it's also much less accessible and viscerally entertaining than the company I first fell in love with. Don't get me wrong. The 17 dancer-company is made up of technically strong, artistically brilliant performers. But, they've jettisoned the Conte-choreographed Tribute to the 40's show-stopper they used to end each performance with. They're much more slick and polished now, well-rehearsed with occasionally brilliant choreography by world-renowned dance-makers. It's hard to explain the difference, maybe I just miss the old company I knew. At the time, I was living in Chicago's trendy River North neighborhood on Orleans, working at a sushi bar near the Merchandise Mart during the day and training at Maria Tallchief and Ruth Page's studio at night. I was auditioning for every ballet company that came through the Windy City and HSDC was the only jazz/modern/contemporary troupe that I seriously considered signing up with. But, to make a long story slightly less long, I didn't survive even the first ballet combination during the HSDC audition and got cut. But, I never lost respect for the company and its dancers and its artistic vision.

The company I saw earlier this month was like running across an old girlfriend you haven't seen for years. She's managed to move on, become enormously successful, rich and sophisticated. Meanwhile, you're still living with your parents, shopping at second-hand stores and delivering pizzas to make a few shekels. She doesn't recognize you, but, you are flooded in an instant with memories and nostalgia and regret. But, before the metaphor gets more out of hand, I guess mentioning something about the performance itself would be apropos at some point. Check back for that.

(To Be Continued)

10.19.2007: A Familiar Refrain

The Capital City's not the only place rife with Rockettes' rumors. Read this latest e-xchange:
"...I saw your entry about the results of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular Clara casting. My daughter tried out in Tampa and we just want to know if the role had been cast. It is discouraging that they are bringing in dancers from other cities. Do you know of a way we could find out the Tampa casting for Clara?"
This was our reply:
"...CCDC got the information because we rented the studio space to the Rockettes organization. We sent an e-mail to their private contact address. But, I'm not going to provide that to you. However, you could always contact the owner of the studio your daughter auditioned at and request a similar query. Or, you could try the searchforclara@yahoo.com public contact e-mail address yourself. Or visit their website and use their contact page or phone number.

Merde, Capital City Dance Center"

10.18.2007: Overheard In CCDC Ballet Classes

"I'm not here to entertain you. I'm here to challenge you."

"Slower than you wanna go. Faster than you wanna go. Higher than you wanna hold. Practice this way and imagine how much easier it's going to be when we go back to regular dancing."

"Show me your two tendus in fifth position! Show me your movement before you even move. Stand out from the crowd!"

"Show me your 'dancer legs'. Legs stretched so long your stomach pulls in and up. Stretched so long your lower back lengthens. Stretched so long the back of your neck lifts. Stretched so long your chin raises. Constantly pushing the floor away from you...oh, and turn out, too!"

"Don't just bend your legs to bring them back in, turn-out more and push into the floor. Store the energy with active feet. Legs like switchblades!"

"Don't drop your knee at the very end of a developpe'. Think of it as a chance to show off your feet someplace way above your head!"

"Raise your knee up during enveloppe'. Raise your opposite seat muscle as well."

"Falling is gravity's way of telling you you're off balance. Are you listening?"

"The music starts. The magic begins."

"Hold on to your placement! Here we go!"

10.17.2007: Ain't No Joy In Newton-ville!

No more trying to hide in plain sight! That's my reaction as America finally got it right, IMNSHO, on the Dancing With The Stars Results Show last week. (And, I apologize for bringing up the rear and being a weak behind, but, between teaching, choreographing, coaching and constantly trying to avoid the paparazzi, I just don't have time to watch network shows when they air! And, apparently, I'm not the only one in the country. A New York Times article last week or so ago says wide-spread "time shifting" network programming is putting a damper on "water cooler talk" at the office and on the 'net the next day!o) And, so much for my sight unseen "dark horse"! Wayne Mister Las Vegas Newton couldn't avoid the red spotlight last week and was rejected, ejected and, apparently, dejected. Watching his final performance, it was obvious that professional partner Cheryl Burke was trying to hide his flat-footed lumbering "in plain sight". And, she admitted as much during one of the interviews saying whenever a "tricky part" came up, she choreographed the piece so that she was closest to the judges obscuring their view of Newton. But, overall, it was an amazing show of strength for the distaff dancers (Read that as the "women competitors" for all of you sneaking a peek in your remedial vocabulary class!o) The x90210 Star turned up the heat after a disastrous spill the weak earlier. The Cheetah Girl was sharp and strong, regaining the top spot in the Judge's scoring. The Medicine Woman rendered Judge Carrie Ann Inaba nearly speechless and moved her to tears with an emotional tribute to Jane Seymour's recently deceased mother. (And, is it just me? Or does Doctor Quinn's fawning over her professional partner make anyone else uncomfortable?) And, even the Spice Girl stepped up her game with, as Judge Len pronounced it, "her best effort yet!" And, even the stronger men (Read that as The NASCAR Driver) (And, I think that rehearsal studio they showed in the preview to his dance was here in the Capital City area!) suffered by comparison. I thought the Boxing Champion stepped up his game as well with his energetic effort. But, I had the same reaction as Judge Len when I saw him rehearsing in sneakers instead of ballroom shoes. Shades of Master P-stands-4-Paltry! The men better be bringing it this week. Otherwise it's going to be a nearly fully female finale'! But, my money's still on the Indy Champ (I guess that rules out Danica Patrick!o) with the effervescent personality and strong competitive streak. I'm guessing (sight unseen because the results are being announced as I write this. Darn those paparazzi!) that the Soap Star or the Bionic Billionaire are next on the endangered species "red light" list! And, btw, I just learned an acquaintance of mine is a recreational ballroom dancer. He even belongs to a ballroom dance club. When he told me that, I said, "You must watch Dancing With The Stars!" But, he said, "No. Just the finals." I was flabbergasted! How can DWTS not be MustCTV twice a week for a dancer, especially a ball-rumor? But, I get the same luke-warm response when I ask the CCDC students if they watch the show! Hey, people! If you don't support dance on TV, movies and other media, eventually all we'll have is CSI: Des Moines, reruns of America's Next Top Model and old Fresh Prince of Bel Aire on TV. And, as much as I like Will Smith, PEOPLE! DO YOUR PART!o)

10.17.2007: Fledgling Company Takes Wing

E-Mail from PRPC:
"...I wanted to let you all know that my new dance company, Poetic Rebound Performance Company will be performing on October 27th at the Out of Bounds Event...This performance will be a duet featuring myself and the lovely and talented Rachael Hillman. This event consists of local musicians, dance companies, and all kinds of artists. It would be great to see you all there!

The show starts at 8 p.m. and we will be selling t-shirts! Admission is $5. Hope to see you all there!

Nicole Hussain
Artistic Director
Poetic Rebound Performance Company..."

10.15.2007: Rockette's Results

For those of you who hadn't heard through the grapevine, here's the word from the Rockette's staff:
"...I'm not sure when a press release is going to be done, but to squelch the rumors and help the girls move on...we have cast Jacqueline L___ in the Christmas Spectacular in Des Moines. She will also be performing the role in Chicago. For the other girl, we have cast a girl from California who will be doing both the Chicago and Des Moines shows.

Thanks for all your help with the audition...."

...which begs the question, why did they decide to bring a girl in from California for shows in the midwest? I'm sure there were girls here who fit the costumes, had the personality and the technique. Are they just trying to save some time and money? Aren't there girls in Chicago who could fill the bill there? But, you can drive yourself crazy asking questions that'll never be answered to your satisfaction, so my advice for anyone who auditioned is to move on and start training hard now for your next opportunity. So, you wanna be a dancer? Brace yourself for higher highs and lower lows than ordinary people! The only thing you can control is how hard you train and how well you prepare yourself!

10.12.2007: Pink Think!

Heard an interesting speech by the keynote speaker at a conference this week. Daniel Pink is a self-described "futurist" and author of A Whole New Mind. The sub-title of his book is Why Right-Brainers Will Rule The Future. He claims "artistry and empathy" will be the business skills required to survive and thrive in the 21st Century. Pink admits he doesn't like that trend because he's "logical, linear and lawyerly". But, he says the "routine" of work will be replaced by computer software. Things like routine accounting, legal work, engineering will all be off-shored. He says the entrepreneuers and visionaries of the future (and just successful people) will be more artistic, more design-oriented and gifted story-tellers. He says hard-core math and science skills will still be important, but, that the global, empathatic, symphonic side will take precedence and must be cultivated. He suggests keeping a "design element" notebook for a week to develop awareness of how "everything is the result of design", good, bad and indifferent. Pink also suggests adults take the "20-10" test: If you had 20-million dollars and ten years to live, would you be doing what you're doing today? If not, what would you be doing? Why not do that anyway? As I was listening to Pink, I was thinking two things: How to share the story and better the design elements of Capital City Dance Center and that taking dance classes at CCDC will continue to serve our students well long after their dance careers are over. Think I'm going to have to buy that book! As Pink told me in an interview after his speech, now available in paperback!

10.12.2007: Arts Action in the Capital City!

Celebrating 20 years, the Metro Arts Two Rivers Expo will be held November 2 - 4, 2007, at the Events Center. Showcasing 130 professional artists from across the country, the Expo also will include new features for the entire family to enjoy, including an interactive art project and a children's juried art competition. If you haven't been to the Expo for a few years, this is the year to attend. The theme this year, Everyone Is An Artist, was chosen to raise awareness that art is all around us, in both a functional and an abstract way. At the Expo, not only can you view and buy professional art, but you also can experience the arts at many levels, from listening to great musicians, to learning from a professional artistic garden designer, to creating art with your children.

The Art Center’s 7th Annual Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) celebration, titled Generations/Generaciones will honor the first Latino families (and their descendents) who settled in the Capital City area. The celebration will be held on Sunday, October 28, from 1 – 4 pm at the Art Center. The Day of the Dead event has been celebrated in parts of Latin America dating back to pre-colonial Mesoamerican cultures. Families honor their ancestors and the recently deceased with commemorative altars (ofrendas), special foods, visits to grave sites, and other activities. People look forward to this festive time of year when it is believed that the souls of the dead return for a few hours to enjoy the pleasures they once knew in life.
Auditions for the play The Best Christmas Pageant Ever will be held at The Playhouse at 6:00 P.M. on Sunday, Oct. 21. All auditions are open to the public; no one is pre-cast. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever contains roles for 2 men, 2 women, 5 boys, 5 girls and a large ensemble of men, women, boys and girls. Production dates are Dec. 7-23. The show is directed by Kathy Pingel (Charlotte's Web). The Best Christmas Pageant Ever follows the Herdmans, the worst kids in the history of the world. They lie, steal and smoke cigars! When they invade the church pageant, everyone wonders if this will be the best Christmas pageant ever or just the most memorable!
The Arts Council has awarded $8,625 in Mini Grants to organizations and individuals in three cities in the state. AC received 18 eligible applications with requests totaling more than $25,000. The Arts Council works to enrich the quality of life and learning in Iowa communities by encouraging excellence in the arts through leadership, grants and technical assistance. Mini Grants are awarded each month, and applicants may request up to $1,500 in funding, which they must match. “Each month we get applications for such an amazing range of projects,” said Mary Sundet Jones, Arts Council administrator. “It really varies – we don’t know from month to month what kinds of applications will come in. What we do know is that these will be terrific projects, and the arts are alive and well.”

10.11.2007: Competitive, Combative "Cuban Pete"!

If the "bionic billionaire" Mark Cuban doesn't last longer than he should on Dancing With The Stars, it's not for a lack of effort, both off and on the dance floor. I've heard him mentioned or interviewed lobbying for votes on three nationally syndicated radio programs this week already. (And, please don't discuss the results of this week's show with me until after I've "time shifted" it to this weekend! And, does anybody have a copy of last week's results show? (10/2) I know who was eliminated, but, I want to see who was featured in the "Stars Perform" section. I've searched on YouTube.Com, but, couldn't find it.) First, Cuban was mentioned on the sports talk Jim Rome Show. "Romulus Prime" says Cuban texts him "constantly" to get his millions of "clones" to vote for him and professional partner Kym Johnson. Also, caught "Cuban Pete" being interviewed on ESPN's Mike and Mike in the Morning Show and, then, when I switched over to the new nationally syndicated sportstalk Dan Patrick Show, Mark was there, too! Cuban isn't the best dancer on the show. But, he's so competitive and driven in whatever he does (He said on M+M he rehearsed last night from 6:30-to-midnight!), he'll last longer than expected. (The exact opposite of the Master P-stands-for-Pathetic plan!) Just not sure how many sports talkradio fans besides me watch DWTS despite Cuban's assertions that it's "the hardest thing he's ever done" and "ballroom dancing's a sport, for sure!" He also revealed he used to teach disco line dance lessons in his misspent youth. Who do I think are the best dancers on the show? Probably Helio, Sabrina and Jane in no particular order. The cream will rise to the top as, week by week, the weak fall by the wayside. If Helio wins, it'd be two in a row for professional partner Julianne Hough. That would set up quite a rivalry between her and the only other two-time professional winner, Cheryl Burke. And, btw, I liked Burke's old partner's dancing, but, Drew Lachey suffers in comparison in his emcee duties to the smooth, sardonic, immensely likeable Tom Bergeron. It doesn't bode well for Lachey's planned host role in the coming Dance Wars. Keep your fingers croise'! (Okay, I know it sounds like I only listen to sports talk radio, but, as soon as Cuban shows up with Michael Feldman, Jan Mickelson, Steve Deace or Click and Clack, I'll let you know!)

10.9.2007: Clear, Concise...Contrived!

I recognize a "slow news day" when I see one (Having suffered through many!o) But, don't you think it's a little overkill when WOI-TV News does YET a third "exclusive" with Helio Castroneves and Julianne Hough? What's next? The big promo trumpeting the "exclusive" scoop? I'm sure if you missed it last night, you can find the third report on-line.

10.9.2007: Choreographer Wanted!

Just got an e-mail from an official with a local organization that's putting on a musical production. They're having trouble finding a choreographer. The assistant director's looking for help with 3-to-4 numbers. But, the opening is coming up quickly, the first weekend in November, with preview dress rehearsal on October 31st. They're pleading for assistance. And, they'll even take "dance students interested in building their resume'". He signed his e-mail off with "Sincerely Panicked". If you're interested or know someone who might be, e-mail me and I'll send you his contact info. No payment was mentioned.

10.8.2007: Unlike the Cubs! Hamer Hammers Mo' Homers!

Yet another welcome contribution from CCDC Modern/Jazz/Contemporary/Pilates/Yoga Instructor Alissa H!
"...Another article in support of kids having more art in their lives! :) (It's called) Extracurricular Extras: What Kids Learn From the Arts - MSN Lifestyle - Family & Parenting..."

10.5.2007: Dancing With The Media!

Okay, blame the reporter in me, but, I called a friend of mine who works at WOI-TV News and tipped him off about Helio Castroneves and Julianne Hough rehearsing in the Capital City area. He seemed interested and the ABC affiliate followed up with two reports last night. In case you missed them, you can catch the replay on-line. Remember, there are two reports where you can get "up close and personal". Watch both! ...and blame me!o)

10.5.2007: Local Arts Shortz

Tickets now on sale for play Tuesdays With Morrie Oct. 19-Nov. 4, at The Playhouse. Tuesdays With Morrie is based on Mitch Albom’s best-selling nonfiction book of the same name. Mitch, a journalist for a Detroit newspaper, finds himself losing his direction in life. He reconnects with Morrie Schwartz -- professor, mentor and friend from his college days at Brandeis -- and who is in his last months of battle with the debilitating Lou Gehrig’s disease. Mitch visits Morrie once a week, rekindling their friendship and Morrie teaches Mitch life’s lessons once again. A touching, tender and true story, Tuesdays With Morrie reminds us what really matters and what to value each day.

The Playhouse production features Jack Mishler, a longtime area favorite, as Morrie, and newcomer Craig Petersen as Mitch. Tuesdays With Morrie is directed by Rhonda Lake, a theatre professor at Doane College.


The Art Center is pleased to present a lecture by Mark Rosenthal, adjunct curator at the Norton Museum of Art and the Detroit Institute of Arts, on Tuesday, October 16 at 6:30 pm in Levitt Auditorium. Rosenthal has had a distinguished career in the museum field, working at many of the nation’s finest institutions including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the National Gallery of Art. He will speak about five great German artists and their legacy. Rosenthal states, “With Joseph Beuys’ artistic breakthrough of the early 1960s, German art took a great leap onto the international stage. He was quickly joined by Georg Baselitz, Sigmar Polke, Gerhard Richter and Anselm Kiefer, all of whom forged a powerful and alternative point of view to America in the content, mission, and making of art. Together these artists, though seemingly disparate in appearance, have helped to define the way in which the modernist approach of the early 20th century would be transformed.”
Emerging non-profit modern dance company Poetic Rebound Performance Company performs this weekend in Clear Lake. The Harvest Fest takes place in downtown Clear Lake from 9-5 on Saturday, October 6th. There will be live music, fresh produce, wine sampling, art, a salsa contest, and a grape stomp competition! PRPC will perform one set at 12:30 and another at 1:30.

POETIC REBOUND PERFORMANCE COMPANY is Nicole Hussain, Alison Riazi, Colleen O'Connor and Rachael Hillman.


10.4.2007: New Words 2 the Wise from NewsWise

(Courtesy Newswise) — Daily television viewing for two or more hours in early childhood can lead to behavioral problems and poor social skills, according to a study of children 2.5 to 5.5 years of age. The researchers found that the impact of TV viewing on a child’s behavior and social skills varied by the age at which the viewing occurred. More importantly, heavy television viewing that decreased over time was not associated with behavior or social problems. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under age 2 watch no television while children age 2 and older are limited to no more than two hours of daily viewing.

“A number of studies have demonstrated negative effects of heavy television viewing. However, timing of exposure is an important consideration as reducing viewing to acceptable levels can reduce the risk of behavioral and social problems,” said Kamila Mistry, MPH.

The study also found that having a television in the child’s bedroom at 5.5 years of age was associated with behavioral problems and poor sleep. Forty-one percent of the children included in the study had a television in his or her bedroom.


(Courtesy Newswise) — Fourteen to 18-year-old adolescents are at an increased risk to initiate smoking when they start to work, according to researchers. Investigators found that adolescents who worked more than 10 hours per week also started smoking at an earlier age than their peers. The study authors recommend that the workplace be considered as a location for smoking prevention programs or policies. “Our findings highlight the importance of working on smoking behaviors of adolescents, which is an area that has not received much attention in current efforts to reduce youth smoking,” said Rajeev Ramchand, PhD, lead author of the study. “There is a clear relationship between working for pay and adolescent tobacco use.

(Courtesy Newswise) — A new study of teenagers suggests that teasing teens about weight is no joke, especially when the teasing comes from family. A history of teasing about being fat was one of the strongest predictors of risk for being overweight and extreme dieting— and taunts from family seemed to be worse than teasing by peers. When family members teased teens about weight, it doubled their risk of being overweight at the second survey. Although this kind of study cannot prove that the link is causal, it suggests that even light-hearted joking about weight at home could be problematic. Eating together as a family and a sense of connection to family were protective, however. “Most families where there is weight-teasing are not abusive. They just don’t realize how hurtful it is,” said Neumark-Sztainer, who has written a book for parents to help with weight-related problems. “These findings show that your home needs to be a safe haven.”

She added, “We have seen over the years that it does not work to make people feel worse about their bodies. The data are striking — talking about weight, worrying too much about diet, focusing on it increases risk not only of eating disorders, but also of being overweight.” Instead, she suggests modeling and positive encouragement of healthy behavior like making better food choices and exercising — and unconditional love, regardless of weight.


10.3.2007: Near-Brush With Fame!

Got an interesting phone message at Capital City Dance Center the other day. A lady called claiming she was with the TV show Dancing With The Stars and was looking for studio space to rent in the metro area. At first, I was majorly skeptical. I thought it was a scam, for sure. But, stranger things have happened, so I called back. And, it sure sounded for real when she started explaining that a contestant and a professional would be in the area and needed space to rehearse. They'd be in the city this Thursday, wanted to rehearse from 6-to-9pm tomorrow. Apparently, this would've been a big deal for us, a television crew would be filming at least parts of the rehearsal. (Luckily for us, we had just finished painting our logo on the back wall of our big studio for the Rockettes audition. I was imagining 6-million people watching, oh, Helio Castroneves or Kym Johnson with our CCDC logo peering over their shoulders. Talk about your major marketing coup!o) But, it was too short notice. We would've had to cancel a ton of classes and, also, take up the marley surfacing. They wanted a wood surface for rehearsal. And, actually, I'm not sure we would've passed their producer's scrutiny anyway. We're not really set-up for hard-core ballroom. So, I gave them the number of a ballroom dance studio in the area and wistfully hung up. I did tell them "loved the show" and if they needed any more help to give us a call back. But, I'm not holding my breath. So, who do I think is coming to town? Well, I'm wondering if Castroneves could be testing cars at the new racetrack? I don't think Wayne Newton's performing at the casino anytime soon. Who else could it be? PS---after I wrote this I went home and turned on the tube, just in time to hear sportscaster Keith Murphy say that Indy Race Car Drivers would be test driving the new speedway surface today and tomorrow. THAT explains that! Hmm, that means Castroneves' professional partner, Julianne Hough will be in town, too. Wonder if she's looking for some dance classes? Hmmm...Excuse me, while I call some big hotels...

10.2.2007: A Post-CCDC Possibility?

(Courtesy Newswise) — Twenty-odd years ago, dance at the University of California, San Diego was ancillary to physical education. Students had to make do with rehearsals in fencing studios. Instructors had to shout over the basketball games taking place downstairs. That was then.

Today, dance is a thriving undergraduate major, has its own building on campus and is an integral part of the highly ranked theatre and dance department. And it will soon feature an innovative graduate degree focused on choreography of dance theater.

The new Master of Fine Arts in Dance Theatre at UC San Diego is unusual for a U.S. program in that it “quite specifically intends to develop the next generation of voices in dance theater choreography,” said Allyson Green, professor of dance at UC San Diego, who will co-direct the program with Professor Yolande Snaith.

“Dance theater” is a hybrid of dance and theater methods. The form traces its beginnings to aesthetic innovations by European dance companies and postmodern explorations in the United States in the 1960s and ’70s. “Dance theater creates a complete world visually and thematically,” Green said. “Rather than being a number in a show or subservient to the story, dance is the show, is the story.”

The program will serve as “an intensive research lab for dance theater artists,” Green said, and will emphasize collaboration with other disciplines.

The vision for the dance theater program at UCSD, she said, is in line with the evolution of the practice in Europe as well as developments in American postmodern dance (which include influences from around the globe). Both Snaith and Green are choreographers with extensive experience abroad. They – along with Liam Clancy, Eric Geiger, Patricia Rincon and department founder Margaret Marshall – bring an international sensibility to the dance faculty and the newly launched program at UCSD.

The three-year program is currently recruiting candidates. Instruction will begin in the fall of 2008.

Green said the program expects to attract “practicing choreographers who want to have the time and space to go more deeply into their work.”

The inaugural class will admit just two students, Green said – both so that they will be fully supported in their endeavors and so they will have greater opportunity to collaborate with the other graduate students in the theatre and dance department.

In their first year, the choreographers will attend a first-year collaborative seminar with graduate-student designers, directors, writers and performers, explained Charlie Oates, chair of the UCSD theatre and dance department, which is ranked among the top three in the nation for its graduate offerings by U.S. News & World Report.

It is hoped that the seminar will help the students make connections and partnerships for future collaborative projects. Also, it is anticipated that through the department’s ties to the departments of visual arts and music and to the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) at UCSD, the students will form creative relationships with other artists across campus and, in Green’s words, create “syntheses between choreographic, theatrical, visual, technological and sound media.”

“The exciting thing,” said Oates, “is that I don't think we even know of all the possible projects that could happen when MFA choreographers come together with students from our existing programs. So much of the artistic future of our department is going to be determined when all these crazy imaginations come together.”

Future plans for the program include a professional repertory company that would work with the choreographers’ visions during their tenure as students and an endowed dance festival, which would not only showcase produced works to the public but also to seasoned professionals, serving as a career launching pad for graduating choreographers.

Green notes that UCSD is a perfect place for the new program because the department is already renowned for its “very physical theater.”

Oates, who is a movement coach when he is not chairing the department, said: “Our designers have a very dynamic visual aesthetic and our directors have big, adventurous visions for their productions. It seems only natural that the performances end up being physical. With a rigorous approach to the fleshing out of texts and bold interpretive statements being made, everything is going to be heightened. The new dance program fits right in.”

The program will also fit right in with the region, Green said.

“The dance community in San Diego is going strong,” Green said. “And there is also a fantastic dance community in Tijuana. The students will have a lot of terrific people to work with, not just at the university but off-campus as well.” For more about new program and its faculty: click here.

10.1.2007: Dancing With The B-List Celebrities!

Excuse me while I dislocate a shoulder patting myself on the back! Did I call it last week when I said one of the models would be the first to go on DWTS? Actually, this was an easy call. Models tend to skate by on their looks. And, the women need to be careful not to build up too much muscle. Unless, they're an "athletic type". But, the male models have to be in shape and "cut", so, the male model on the show was relatively strong on weak one. But, as I said, watch out for the Cheetah Girl! The Disney Star system produced ex-Mouseketeers JT, Britney, Kerri Russell and XTina. They have to take dance, voice, acting and academic classes. It's the closest thing remaining to the old MGM star system. (Remember the girl from A High School Musical who did so well in season too? And, a former TV star who started with MGM told me once he had a health respect for all male dancers after he was forced to don a "dance belt" for his first ballet class!) Also, strong out of the gate, actress Jane Seymour and race car driver Helio Castroneves, very smooth, very classy, both of them. And, because of their built-in fan base and engaging telegenic personalities, they're going to be getting a lot of text, computer and phone-in votes. But, my dark horse pick, Wayne "Mister Las Vegas" Newton was more than a little disappointing. And, Mel B wasn't as strong as I anticipated. What was an unexpected bonus is this Stars of the Dance series they're showing on the results show. (As well as the professionals dancing with professionals segments anytime!) Tap dance impresario Savion Glover was the first-up. I remember watching a tap workshop with Glover when he toured and co-starred with Gregory Hines in Jelly's Last Jam. My tap teacher at the time took the workshop and asked him to "dance for us". He smiled and did a ballet preparation and a single pirouette. But, then, he laughed and proceeded to tap for us. My teacher at the time later said it was like watching Mozart compose. I had a similar reaction watching him perform again 'pon the replay this weekend. Can't wait to see who else they'll feature in that segment. Hopefully, some flamenco, ballet, contemporary, lyrical, jazz and broadway. And, more tap wouldn't be unwelcome! Who's going next? Well, the "bionic billionaire" had the lowest vote among the men. I wouldn't be surprised if Mark Cuban isn't lighting up cigars on his own time after this...much as I'd hate to see Kym Johnson go bye-bye

10.1.2007: The Case 4 Common Dance Etiquette

(Courtesy Newswise) — Reading, writing, ‘rithmetic and… good manners? Researchers have found that 10 basic social skills such as taking turns, listening and simply being nice are just as important to children’s academic success as the subjects they study, and that students can and should be learning these skills in the classroom.

“If we increase social skills, we see commensurate increases in academic learning. That doesn’t mean that social skills make you smarter; it means that these skills make you more amenable to learning,” researcher Stephen Elliott said. “In our research, we found that elementary kids and teachers value cooperation and self-control. When we teach and increase those behaviors, we reduce problem behaviors and maximize learning time.”

Elliott and co-author Frank Gresham identified the top 10 skills that students need to succeed based on surveys of over 8,000 teachers and over 20 years of research in classrooms across the country. They are:

  1. Listen to others

  2. Follow the steps

  3. Follow the rules

  4. Ignore distractions

  5. Ask for help

  6. Take turns when you talk

  7. Get along with others

  8. Stay calm with others

  9. Be responsible for your behavior

  10. Do nice things for others
“Our new publication is based on a survey we did in 2006, but we found almost exactly the same list of desired social skills when we did the survey in 1989,” Elliott said. “Society has not changed what it values as fundamental social behaviors.”

9.28.2007: Weakly WWWeb Lynx

Preparing for the real 'dance competition'. Auditioning for parts, jobs and paychecks:
"...a tough first lesson in the ultra-competitive world of professional dance. 'I had no idea what it was going to be like and, actually, it made me very insecure all the time. You get an assessment every year and they can get rid of you whenever they want. It was very competitive, with everyone constantly looking around to see who was better than whom. You put a lot of pressure on yourself so we were all quite wired. It was tense'..."
More than tutus and tulle from This Is London.

A take on what's called the "Hamlet" for ballerinas:
"...The thing for me in terms of preparing for the performances is I really have to trust that all the work has been done. You spend so much time rehearsing and going over and over so the day of performing, you’re really focusing on the character. And trusting that everything else is going to fall into place because you’ve practiced it so many times..."
A lesson on the means and the end from The Victoria News.

Catching up with the SYTYCD crew:
"...Pasha Kovalev of Fort Lee is just as excited to be touring with So You Think You Can Dance as he was to appear on the TV show. .."
Check in on what's been happening since the end of Season III from the NorthJersey.Com

9.28.2007: Like A House of Cards...and More Artz Shortz!

The Art Center's newest exhibition, A House of Cards: Picasso & Cubism, explores the collaboration of artists Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque in the beginning stages of Cubism, on view September 28, 2007 through January 28, 2008.

A house of cards is a fragile construction that can tumble at the slightest breath or touch. Seventeenth and 18th-century Dutch and French still life painters used the image of a house of cards as a symbol of vanitas, the idea that nothing lasts.

Around 1910, when Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque began to shatter and reassemble painting’s form and space, the art of the past proved to be a house of cards as well. Visually, the facets and forms of early Cubist artworks can be said to resemble a collapsing house of cards.

This exhibition celebrates The Art Center’s recent acquisition of Picasso’s most important Cubist etching, Nature Morte avec la bouteille de Vieux Marc (Still Life with the bottle of Old Marc), 1911. At an early stage in their joint invention of Cubism, Picasso and Braque each created a large Cubist drypoint print for the Parisian art dealer and publisher Daniel Kahnweiler. Picasso and Braque created their works during the summer of 1911, working side by side in a bar in a small town in the Pyrenees. The Saint Louis Art Museum has generously loaned its impression of Braque’s Fox, 1911, the companion print to Picasso’s still life. Playing-card imagery is prominent in both works. The exhibition includes 19 works from the permanent collections by artists who were at the forefront of the Cubist revolution in the 1910s and 1920s.

A House of Cards: Picasso & Cubism is organized by Amy Worthen, curator of prints.

A House of Cards: Picasso & Cubism Related Program

Gallery Talk
Amy Worthen, curator of prints
Thursday, October 11, 6:30 pm
FREE admission
Join Amy Worthen as she discusses the artists and works in this exhibition.


Drake University's International Film Series will begin Sunday, Oct. 7, with a screening of The Cup (Phörpa), a Hindi/Tibetan film with English subtitles. David Skidmore, director of Drake's Center for Global Citizenship, will introduce the film and lead a discussion afterwards.

The Cup tells the story of two young Tibetan refugees who seek refuge in a monastery in India. The boys, fascinated with soccer, arrange to rent a television set in order to watch the World Cup. The Lama, the head of the monastery, contemplates the challenges of traditional teaching methods in an increasingly changing world.

The series is sponsored by the Center for Global Citizenship and the Drake University Language Acquisition Program. All of the films, which are free and open to the public, will start at 2 p.m. in Bulldog Theater in Olmsted Center.

The schedule of films for the remainder of the fall semester appears below:

Oct. 28 -- City of God (Cidade de Deus) --
Portuguese with English subtitles. This film explores the layers of human complexity and the horrors of endless violence in the Cidade de Deus (City of God) projects in Rio de Janerio, Brazil.

Nov. 11 -- Grave of the Fireflies (Hokaru no Haka) --
Japanese with English subtitles. This film tells the story of Setsuko and Seita, brother and sister, as they struggle to survive in Japan during World War II. Clayton Mitchell, Drake language technology specialist, will introduce the film and lead a discussion afterwards.

Dec. 2 -- Beijing Bicycle (Shiqi sui de dan che) --
Mandarin with English subtitles. This film is about two teens fighting over a stolen bicycle and their desperate attempts to find acceptance in their very different worlds. Joseph Schneider, the Ellis and Nelle Levitt professor of sociology at Drake, will introduce the film and lead a discussion afterwards.

2.26.2007: Points en Pointe!

Some interesting e-info from Sleeping Cutie's mom, The Dread Sorceress Rothbarta:
"...I've been doing a bit of web research on pointe shoe suppliers, availability and pricing. (They keep getting more expensive, S's Grishko Ulanovas were $48 last year at Discount Dance and are now $56!!) Of course the other issue is availability, as we often have to wait weeks for shoes that are out of stock--seems like a common problem with the hard shanks so many of your girls wear...

I've found some interesting things--

  • Many dancewear suppliers that advertise pointe shoes have very limited styles or stock--several did not carry hard shanks or only had 1-2 pairs of S's shoes available.
  • I did discover a place called All About Dance in Pensylvania and spoke to a helpful and knowledgeable woman named Rose. She handles all the pointe shoes there. They have a pointe shoe program that sounds intriguing. For a $20 (yearly) fee, Rose will stock your dancer's shoes and have them available any time you need them. She explained that she likes to keep her stock fresh as the shanks often start to degrade or break down over time (explains why some of S's shoes last 3 weeks and some last 3 days!). So, we wouldn't have to buy shoes 4 or more pairs at a time just to make sure we have them for performances or recital or summer intensive...
  • The pointe shoe program members get an additional 5% discount off each pair of shoes (ie, $2.50 on a $50 pair) so the program fee of $20 pays for itself after about 8 pairs of shoes. Their base price for S's shoes is the same as Discount Dance and most other web retailers. However, their shipping is a bit higher as they use 2-4 day priority--under $90 is the same as Discount Dance, but for higher totals their charges are a few $$ more per shipment vs Disc Dance.

    All About Dance has a web site or you may call 800-775-0578 and ask to speak with Rose.

  • I also found a web site for a Boston-area store called Dancers Warehouse. They had S's shoes advertised for $5 less per pair than Disc Dance, but only had 3 pairs in stock. They seem to be a retail store and the sales person worked in the store so wasn't really familiar with the web site (didn't know the special web price, S/H etc).
  • Of course, I also want to support our local suppliers and find that LD at ShowBiz is very helpful and easy to work with. She is happy to special order shoes for S, and when she has pointe shoe sales (combined with her pointe shoe club discount) her prices are competitive with Discount Dance. Now S goes through a lot more shoes with her advanced level classes so it's not always possible to wait for the Show-Biz specials..."

9.26.2007: It's 4U!

(Courtesy NewsWise) Hold the phone – long-term use of a cell phone may cause inner ear damage and can lead to high frequency hearing loss, according to a new study. According to researchers, 100 people who had used mobile phones for over a year suffered increases in the degree of hearing loss over the span of 12 months. Furthermore, the study also discovered that people who used their phones for more than 60 minutes a day had a worse hearing threshold than those with less use. High frequency hearing loss is characterized by the loss of ability to hear consonants such as s, f, t, and z, even though vowels can be heard normally. Consequently, people hear sounds but cannot make out what is being said. The authors warn users of cell phones to look out for ear symptoms such as ear warmth, ear fullness, and ringing in the ears (tinnitus) as early warning signs that you may have an auditory abnormality. They also suggest the use of earphones, which they found to be safer than holding a mobile phone up to the ears.

9.25.2007: Backstage At The Audition

It's all over except the waiting. Thirty-six girls showed up for the Rockettes Search4Clara audition at Capital City Dance Center Monday afternoon. The dancers learned one combination all together and, then, were split into three groups to learn and perform a second combination. The Rockettes staff measured every girl's height and photographed them twice. A videocamera was rolling for all the combinations. They say the final casting decision will be made by the director in New York City and two local girls will be called and will be offered the role of Clara in the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular at the Civic Center this December.

...that's the official version. And, this is just some of what the Rockettes staffers told me before or after all the auditioners were gone: They were discreetly auditioning the parents at the same time as the kids. Every child had to have a parent or guardian sign a release before they'd be allowed to participate in the audition. So, during the sign-up process, the three Rockettes staffers were quietly checking to see if any parental units were suffering from acute "stage-mom-itis" or "pain-inna-behind-itis". They say if a parent was a "red-flag", it'd be a mark against their child no matter how talented.

They also said anyone over five feet was automatically out of the running. That's okay with one mom who told me she didn't expect her daughter to get the part anyway, but, was just doing it "for the experience". That made sense to me and when I snuck into the studio during the group combination, it seemed at least a third of the girls wouldn't be seriously considered because they were too tall. Some were almost as tall as I am and on a good day, I'm waay taller than 4'11". "You have to fit the costume" assistant show director Michael Donaghy told me privately.

Others took themselves out of the running early because of other factors. One of the girls wasn't even wearing pointe shoes. Some couldn't do the single pirouette cleanly en pointe. Others couldn't keep up the performance level while concentrating on technique. Some couldn't apply the corrections Donaghy gave. But, the Rockettes seemed pleased with the turn-out and the general level of technique they found. Donaghy says, in some cities, if they don't find what they want, they'd just bring a young dancer in from New York. But, that wouldn't be necessary here.

I like that all the auditioners got to experience the full process. I also liked the fact they didn't charge girls to audition and didn't announce their cuts during the process. But, make no mistake about it. They were all making mental cuts throughout the three hours. And, in fact, only one of the three groups (with the possible exception of one girl) was seriously in the running for the final casting. How do I know? ?me f2f irl. (And, did uc the Mandolin Robber's Daughter on the Fox TV coverage of the audition?)

9.25.2007: Tip From the EMailbag

AH sends this 'ah-hah!' suggestion along:
Thought you guys might enjoy this.

Alissa

9.21.2007: The Best of the WWWrest

Pointed commentary:
"...washed-up celebrities and adventurous athletes .... are all that the viewing public knows of dance these days, since ballet and modern dance companies have been virtually voted off the air..."
Read 'em and weep from The Post

The debate continues:
"...But others are less convinced that television can help concert dance, and less circumspect in voicing their disdain. This latest skirmish in the high art/low art war has played out most fiercely over Mr. (Danny) Tidwell, who shocked balletomanes when he left American Ballet Theater in 2005, then added insult to injury by joining the third season of So You Think You Can Dance. He placed second on the show but was criticized as being arrogant...."
Join the skirmish from The New York Times.

And, here's some input from one of my new favorite dance websites:
"...I really think that dance on tv in general is a good thing, as long as people understand that it is an altogether different beast than the live performances you would see in a theater, a ballroom, etc. With SYTYCD, they are taking a format that the US tv audience is familar and comfortable with - American Idol - and injecting it with an art form that may be a bit less familiar to most people, and that you usually don’t see much of on tv. No, it’s not a pure representation of each dance genre that is shown (I can’t imagine that people tuning in are expecting to see that, it is a Fox television show after all), but it’s an introduction. I get excited about the fact that there could be a little girl or boy out there, who doesn’t see much pro dancing around him or her, but sees this on tv, and it creates that spark. Who knows where that spark will take them, but it is really something..."

There's more at The Winger.Com. Click on NYCB's Kristin Sloan's entries.


The reviews are in:
"...make no mistake: this is classy choreography performed by outstanding artists, and with it (Christopher) Wheeldon is setting himself the highest standards..."
Watch on-line video from one of the world's hottest ballet choreographers and his new company, Morphoses, on-line from The Times of London. And, read the full review here.

9.20.2007: Random Dance Info

Join The Playhouse on Oct. 12 for The Vanishing Pumpkin. This story is part of the 2007-08 season of Friday Funday, a creative participatory story theatre program for children ages 4-6. Performances are at The Playhouse, at 9:30 AM, 10:30 AM and 1:30 PM on Friday, Oct. 12. Shows are approximately 45 minutes in length. Admission is $5 per person, adults and children. Reservations are suggested.

October's featured story is The Vanishing Pumpkin. An old man and woman have a hankering for some pumpkin pie, but they have no pumpkin! Join them as they encounter a strange assortment of characters in their quest to find the culprit who stole the pumpkin from the pumpkin patch.


9.19.2007: Gnaw Lij R Powr!

(Courtesy Newswise) — When you’re trying to manage your weight, a grocery store can offer plenty of tempting treats, but there are many healthy options to find as well. Next time you go shopping, arm yourself with these simple strategies:
Plan ahead:
Think about healthy meals you can prepare for the coming week and use a shopping list so you’ll stick to healthful ingredients, says Pam T. Davis, a certified diabetes educator. “And don’t shop when you’re hungry or in a hurry,” she adds. “When people make this mistake, they tend to impulse buy.”

Beware of advertising:
“Any time you see something that is interesting and new, remember that the front of the package is just advertising and marketing,” says Elizabeth Schaub, a certified diabetes educator. “You need to flip it over and review the nutrition information and the ingredients. “Even foods touting low fat or low sugar can be high in calories.”

Get the facts straight:
With a nutrition label, note how many servings are in the package. “The information listed on the label reflects a one-serving portion,” says Paige Vogl, a certified diabetes educator. “So if you consume the entire package and there is more than one serving per package, you have to figure that into the total calories, fat and other nutrient values.”

Try new fruits and veggies:
“Sometimes we get into a rut and tend to purchase the same things over and over,” Vogl says. “Each fruit and vegetable is going to have a little bit different nutrient composition. If you’re only eating bananas and green beans, you’re going to be missing out on the nutrients that other produce might offer. Have some variety—ideally from day to day, but weekly at least.”

Buy fresh:
Favor fresh foods over prepackaged convenience items, which are typically found in interior aisles, Schaub advises. An exception: If you’re short on time, frozen vegetables are easy additions to a meal, Davis says, and you can quickly prepare them by steaming or microwaving.

When eating out, follow these guidelines:
  • Choose whole-wheat bread instead of white.

  • Ask for sauces and dressings on the side.

  • Order food steamed, grilled or broiled, not fried or sautéed.

  • If main portions are large, order an appetizer or side dish as your entrée, or share a dish with a friend.

  • Choose fruits as your dessert.

  • Opt for menu items rather than “all-you-can-eat” buffets.

(Courtesy Newswise) — Researchers report that fasting or eating half as much as usual every other day may shrink your fat cells and boost mechanisms that break down fats.

Consuming less calories and increasing physical activity is usually what people do to lose weight and stay healthy. But some people prefer to adopt a diet which consists of eating as much as they want one day while fasting the next. On each fasting day, these people consume energy-free beverages, tea, coffee, and sugar-free gum and they drink as much water as they need. Although many people claim that this diet, called alternate-day fasting (ADF), help them lose weight and improved their health, the effects on health and disease risk of ADF are not clear.

Krista Varady and colleagues studied the effects of alternate-day fasting on 24 male mice for four weeks. To assess the impact of ADF on the health of the mice, the scientists not only tested mice that followed and didn’t follow an ADF diet, but they also studied mice that followed the diet only partially: a group of mice consumed 50 percent of their regular diet every other day (ADF-50%) and another consumed 75 percent of their regular diet every other day (ADF-25%).

The scientists noticed that the mice that followed the complete ADF diet (ADF-100%) lost weight and that the fat cells of both the ADF-100% and ADF-50% groups shrunk by more than half and by 35 percent, respectively. Also, in these two groups of mice, fat under the skin – but not abdominal fat – was broken down more than in mice that did not follow the diet.

These results suggest that complete and modified ADF regimens seem to protect against obesity and type 2 diabetes but do not result in fat or weight loss. More studies will be needed to confirm whether the long-term effects of ADF regimens are beneficial for health and reduce disease risk, the scientists conclude.


(Courtesy Newswise) — Scientists report that when either lean or obese individuals exercise after eating a high fat meal, their fats are broken down and oxidized in skeletal muscle, making them healthier. These results show for the first time how a high fat diet and exercise stimulate the breakdown of fats and may help design ways to reduce excessive fat in the body.

Fat is broken down inside fat cells to generate energy by a process called lipolysis. The resulting fatty acids are released into the bloodstream and carried to tissues that require energy. In obese individuals, too much fat accumulates, compromising lipolysis, but the details of how this happens are not well understood. Also, obese individuals can show altered responsiveness to the stress hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine in their subcutaneous fat.

Max Lafontan and colleagues investigated how fat is broken down in both lean and obese subjects who exercised after either fasting or eating a high-fat diet. They noticed that after eating a high-fat diet, fats were broken down in both lean and obese individuals. Under fasting conditions, the breakdown of fats was more pronounced in the lean subjects, but the high fat meal enhanced lipolysis in the obese subjects.


9.18.2007: Inside Scoop!

Just got off the phone with Michael Donaghy, assistant director of the Rockette's Christmas Spectacular coming to the Civic Center this December. He'll be at Capital City Dance Center next Monday for an open audition to cast two girls as Clara in the Nutcracker segment of their show. I asked what makes a good first impression when he first sees auditioners. Donaghy says he likes to see clean pink tights, hair in a neat bun with well-fitted pointe shoes and leotard. "Nice presentation" he calls it. He DOESN'T want to see girls wearing jazz outfits or big cover-ups. He's looking for girls who "love to dance" and "love to be on stage", 4'11" and under, 10-14 years old. His pet peeves include girls who like to "sit and chat" among themselves and not pay attention to the audition process. But, he says he's constantly surprised at the level of training outside of New York City. He also says there's some bad training going on out there, but, he didn't want to talk about that. Donaghy says one of his goals is to make sure all the girls who show up to audition benefit from the experience of a professional audition, even if they don't get cast. He says learning how to audition well is a skill seperate from dance training. He says it's been hit or miss as far as audition turn-out goes as he travels around the country. He said about a hundred showed up at a Texas audition last year. But, in some other areas, as few as ten. He says the two girls chosen will be paid a weekly salary and be professionally tutored because they'll miss a lot of school during the month of December. "Professionally treated" is how he puts it. Donaghy says getting cast as Clara has served as a stepping stone for other young girls. He says some former Claras are now dancing in Broadway shows and several have gone on to become full-fledged members of the Rockettes. Donaghy says he's looking forward to his first visit to central Iowa. He shared that his boss, Julie Brannon, is originally from Des Moines and danced with the Rockettes for years. BTW, he pronounces his name "donna-gee" with a hard "g".

10.2.2007: A Post-CCDC Possibility?

(Courtesy Newswise) — Twenty-odd years ago, dance at the University of California, San Diego was ancillary to physical education. Students had to make do with rehearsals in fencing studios. Instructors had to shout over the basketball games taking place downstairs. That was then.

Today, dance is a thriving undergraduate major, has its own building on campus and is an integral part of the highly ranked theatre and dance department. And it will soon feature an innovative graduate degree focused on choreography of dance theater.

The new Master of Fine Arts in Dance Theatre at UC San Diego is unusual for a U.S. program in that it “quite specifically intends to develop the next generation of voices in dance theater choreography,” said Allyson Green, professor of dance at UC San Diego, who will co-direct the program with Professor Yolande Snaith.

“Dance theater” is a hybrid of dance and theater methods. The form traces its beginnings to aesthetic innovations by European dance companies and postmodern explorations in the United States in the 1960s and ’70s. “Dance theater creates a complete world visually and thematically,” Green said. “Rather than being a number in a show or subservient to the story, dance is the show, is the story.”

The program will serve as “an intensive research lab for dance theater artists,” Green said, and will emphasize collaboration with other disciplines.

The vision for the dance theater program at UCSD, she said, is in line with the evolution of the practice in Europe as well as developments in American postmodern dance (which include influences from around the globe). Both Snaith and Green are choreographers with extensive experience abroad. They – along with Liam Clancy, Eric Geiger, Patricia Rincon and department founder Margaret Marshall – bring an international sensibility to the dance faculty and the newly launched program at UCSD.

The three-year program is currently recruiting candidates. Instruction will begin in the fall of 2008.

Green said the program expects to attract “practicing choreographers who want to have the time and space to go more deeply into their work.”

The inaugural class will admit just two students, Green said – both so that they will be fully supported in their endeavors and so they will have greater opportunity to collaborate with the other graduate students in the theatre and dance department.

In their first year, the choreographers will attend a first-year collaborative seminar with graduate-student designers, directors, writers and performers, explained Charlie Oates, chair of the UCSD theatre and dance department, which is ranked among the top three in the nation for its graduate offerings by U.S. News & World Report.

It is hoped that the seminar will help the students make connections and partnerships for future collaborative projects. Also, it is anticipated that through the department’s ties to the departments of visual arts and music and to the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) at UCSD, the students will form creative relationships with other artists across campus and, in Green’s words, create “syntheses between choreographic, theatrical, visual, technological and sound media.”

“The exciting thing,” said Oates, “is that I don't think we even know of all the possible projects that could happen when MFA choreographers come together with students from our existing programs. So much of the artistic future of our department is going to be determined when all these crazy imaginations come together.”

Future plans for the program include a professional repertory company that would work with the choreographers’ visions during their tenure as students and an endowed dance festival, which would not only showcase produced works to the public but also to seasoned professionals, serving as a career launching pad for graduating choreographers.

Green notes that UCSD is a perfect place for the new program because the department is already renowned for its “very physical theater.”

Oates, who is a movement coach when he is not chairing the department, said: “Our designers have a very dynamic visual aesthetic and our directors have big, adventurous visions for their productions. It seems only natural that the performances end up being physical. With a rigorous approach to the fleshing out of texts and bold interpretive statements being made, everything is going to be heightened. The new dance program fits right in.”

The program will also fit right in with the region, Green said.

“The dance community in San Diego is going strong,” Green said. “And there is also a fantastic dance community in Tijuana. The students will have a lot of terrific people to work with, not just at the university but off-campus as well.” For more about new program and its faculty: click here.

10.1.2007: Dancing With The B-List Celebrities!

Excuse me while I dislocate a shoulder patting myself on the back! Did I call it last week when I said one of the models would be the first to go on DWTS? Actually, this was an easy call. Models tend to skate by on their looks. And, the women need to be careful not to build up too much muscle. Unless, they're an "athletic type". But, the male models have to be in shape and "cut", so, the male model on the show was relatively strong on weak one. But, as I said, watch out for the Cheetah Girl! The Disney Star system produced ex-Mouseketeers JT, Britney, Kerri Russell and XTina. They have to take dance, voice, acting and academic classes. It's the closest thing remaining to the old MGM star system. (Remember the girl from A High School Musical who did so well in season too? And, a former TV star who started with MGM told me once he had a health respect for all male dancers after he was forced to don a "dance belt" for his first ballet class!) Also, strong out of the gate, actress Jane Seymour and race car driver Helio Castroneves, very smooth, very classy, both of them. And, because of their built-in fan base and engaging telegenic personalities, they're going to be getting a lot of text, computer and phone-in votes. But, my dark horse pick, Wayne "Mister Las Vegas" Newton was more than a little disappointing. And, Mel B wasn't as strong as I anticipated. What was an unexpected bonus is this Stars of the Dance series they're showing on the results show. (As well as the professionals dancing with professionals segments anytime!) Tap dance impresario Savion Glover was the first-up. I remember watching a tap workshop with Glover when he toured and co-starred with Gregory Hines in Jelly's Last Jam. My tap teacher at the time took the workshop and asked him to "dance for us". He smiled and did a ballet preparation and a single pirouette. But, then, he laughed and proceeded to tap for us. My teacher at the time later said it was like watching Mozart compose. I had a similar reaction watching him perform again 'pon the replay this weekend. Can't wait to see who else they'll feature in that segment. Hopefully, some flamenco, ballet, contemporary, lyrical, jazz and broadway. And, more tap wouldn't be unwelcome! Who's going next? Well, the "bionic billionaire" had the lowest vote among the men. I wouldn't be surprised if Mark Cuban isn't lighting up cigars on his own time after this...much as I'd hate to see Kym Johnson go bye-bye

10.1.2007: The Case 4 Common Dance Etiquette

(Courtesy Newswise) — Reading, writing, ‘rithmetic and… good manners? Researchers have found that 10 basic social skills such as taking turns, listening and simply being nice are just as important to children’s academic success as the subjects they study, and that students can and should be learning these skills in the classroom.

“If we increase social skills, we see commensurate increases in academic learning. That doesn’t mean that social skills make you smarter; it means that these skills make you more amenable to learning,” researcher Stephen Elliott said. “In our research, we found that elementary kids and teachers value cooperation and self-control. When we teach and increase those behaviors, we reduce problem behaviors and maximize learning time.”

Elliott and co-author Frank Gresham identified the top 10 skills that students need to succeed based on surveys of over 8,000 teachers and over 20 years of research in classrooms across the country. They are:

  1. Listen to others

  2. Follow the steps

  3. Follow the rules

  4. Ignore distractions

  5. Ask for help

  6. Take turns when you talk

  7. Get along with others

  8. Stay calm with others

  9. Be responsible for your behavior

  10. Do nice things for others
“Our new publication is based on a survey we did in 2006, but we found almost exactly the same list of desired social skills when we did the survey in 1989,” Elliott said. “Society has not changed what it values as fundamental social behaviors.”

9.28.2007: Weakly WWWeb Lynx

Preparing for the real 'dance competition'. Auditioning for parts, jobs and paychecks:
"...a tough first lesson in the ultra-competitive world of professional dance. 'I had no idea what it was going to be like and, actually, it made me very insecure all the time. You get an assessment every year and they can get rid of you whenever they want. It was very competitive, with everyone constantly looking around to see who was better than whom. You put a lot of pressure on yourself so we were all quite wired. It was tense'..."
More than tutus and tulle from This Is London.

A take on what's called the "Hamlet" for ballerinas:
"...The thing for me in terms of preparing for the performances is I really have to trust that all the work has been done. You spend so much time rehearsing and going over and over so the day of performing, you’re really focusing on the character. And trusting that everything else is going to fall into place because you’ve practiced it so many times..."
A lesson on the means and the end from The Victoria News.

Catching up with the SYTYCD crew:
"...Pasha Kovalev of Fort Lee is just as excited to be touring with So You Think You Can Dance as he was to appear on the TV show. .."
Check in on what's been happening since the end of Season III from the NorthJersey.Com

9.28.2007: Like A House of Cards...and More Artz Shortz!

The Art Center's newest exhibition, A House of Cards: Picasso & Cubism, explores the collaboration of artists Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque in the beginning stages of Cubism, on view September 28, 2007 through January 28, 2008.

A house of cards is a fragile construction that can tumble at the slightest breath or touch. Seventeenth and 18th-century Dutch and French still life painters used the image of a house of cards as a symbol of vanitas, the idea that nothing lasts.

Around 1910, when Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque began to shatter and reassemble painting’s form and space, the art of the past proved to be a house of cards as well. Visually, the facets and forms of early Cubist artworks can be said to resemble a collapsing house of cards.

This exhibition celebrates The Art Center’s recent acquisition of Picasso’s most important Cubist etching, Nature Morte avec la bouteille de Vieux Marc (Still Life with the bottle of Old Marc), 1911. At an early stage in their joint invention of Cubism, Picasso and Braque each created a large Cubist drypoint print for the Parisian art dealer and publisher Daniel Kahnweiler. Picasso and Braque created their works during the summer of 1911, working side by side in a bar in a small town in the Pyrenees. The Saint Louis Art Museum has generously loaned its impression of Braque’s Fox, 1911, the companion print to Picasso’s still life. Playing-card imagery is prominent in both works. The exhibition includes 19 works from the permanent collections by artists who were at the forefront of the Cubist revolution in the 1910s and 1920s.

A House of Cards: Picasso & Cubism is organized by Amy Worthen, curator of prints.

A House of Cards: Picasso & Cubism Related Program

Gallery Talk
Amy Worthen, curator of prints
Thursday, October 11, 6:30 pm
FREE admission
Join Amy Worthen as she discusses the artists and works in this exhibition.


Drake University's International Film Series will begin Sunday, Oct. 7, with a screening of The Cup (Phörpa), a Hindi/Tibetan film with English subtitles. David Skidmore, director of Drake's Center for Global Citizenship, will introduce the film and lead a discussion afterwards.

The Cup tells the story of two young Tibetan refugees who seek refuge in a monastery in India. The boys, fascinated with soccer, arrange to rent a television set in order to watch the World Cup. The Lama, the head of the monastery, contemplates the challenges of traditional teaching methods in an increasingly changing world.

The series is sponsored by the Center for Global Citizenship and the Drake University Language Acquisition Program. All of the films, which are free and open to the public, will start at 2 p.m. in Bulldog Theater in Olmsted Center.

The schedule of films for the remainder of the fall semester appears below:

Oct. 28 -- City of God (Cidade de Deus) --
Portuguese with English subtitles. This film explores the layers of human complexity and the horrors of endless violence in the Cidade de Deus (City of God) projects in Rio de Janerio, Brazil.

Nov. 11 -- Grave of the Fireflies (Hokaru no Haka) --
Japanese with English subtitles. This film tells the story of Setsuko and Seita, brother and sister, as they struggle to survive in Japan during World War II. Clayton Mitchell, Drake language technology specialist, will introduce the film and lead a discussion afterwards.

Dec. 2 -- Beijing Bicycle (Shiqi sui de dan che) --
Mandarin with English subtitles. This film is about two teens fighting over a stolen bicycle and their desperate attempts to find acceptance in their very different worlds. Joseph Schneider, the Ellis and Nelle Levitt professor of sociology at Drake, will introduce the film and lead a discussion afterwards.

2.26.2007: Points en Pointe!

Some interesting e-info from Sleeping Cutie's mom, The Dread Sorceress Rothbarta:
"...I've been doing a bit of web research on pointe shoe suppliers, availability and pricing. (They keep getting more expensive, S's Grishko Ulanovas were $48 last year at Discount Dance and are now $56!!) Of course the other issue is availability, as we often have to wait weeks for shoes that are out of stock--seems like a common problem with the hard shanks so many of your girls wear...

I've found some interesting things--

  • Many dancewear suppliers that advertise pointe shoes have very limited styles or stock--several did not carry hard shanks or only had 1-2 pairs of S's shoes available.
  • I did discover a place called All About Dance in Pensylvania and spoke to a helpful and knowledgeable woman named Rose. She handles all the pointe shoes there. They have a pointe shoe program that sounds intriguing. For a $20 (yearly) fee, Rose will stock your dancer's shoes and have them available any time you need them. She explained that she likes to keep her stock fresh as the shanks often start to degrade or break down over time (explains why some of S's shoes last 3 weeks and some last 3 days!). So, we wouldn't have to buy shoes 4 or more pairs at a time just to make sure we have them for performances or recital or summer intensive...
  • The pointe shoe program members get an additional 5% discount off each pair of shoes (ie, $2.50 on a $50 pair) so the program fee of $20 pays for itself after about 8 pairs of shoes. Their base price for S's shoes is the same as Discount Dance and most other web retailers. However, their shipping is a bit higher as they use 2-4 day priority--under $90 is the same as Discount Dance, but for higher totals their charges are a few $$ more per shipment vs Disc Dance.

    All About Dance has a web site or you may call 800-775-0578 and ask to speak with Rose.

  • I also found a web site for a Boston-area store called Dancers Warehouse. They had S's shoes advertised for $5 less per pair than Disc Dance, but only had 3 pairs in stock. They seem to be a retail store and the sales person worked in the store so wasn't really familiar with the web site (didn't know the special web price, S/H etc).
  • Of course, I also want to support our local suppliers and find that LD at ShowBiz is very helpful and easy to work with. She is happy to special order shoes for S, and when she has pointe shoe sales (combined with her pointe shoe club discount) her prices are competitive with Discount Dance. Now S goes through a lot more shoes with her advanced level classes so it's not always possible to wait for the Show-Biz specials..."

9.26.2007: It's 4U!

(Courtesy NewsWise) Hold the phone – long-term use of a cell phone may cause inner ear damage and can lead to high frequency hearing loss, according to a new study. According to researchers, 100 people who had used mobile phones for over a year suffered increases in the degree of hearing loss over the span of 12 months. Furthermore, the study also discovered that people who used their phones for more than 60 minutes a day had a worse hearing threshold than those with less use. High frequency hearing loss is characterized by the loss of ability to hear consonants such as s, f, t, and z, even though vowels can be heard normally. Consequently, people hear sounds but cannot make out what is being said. The authors warn users of cell phones to look out for ear symptoms such as ear warmth, ear fullness, and ringing in the ears (tinnitus) as early warning signs that you may have an auditory abnormality. They also suggest the use of earphones, which they found to be safer than holding a mobile phone up to the ears.

9.25.2007: Backstage At The Audition

It's all over except the waiting. Thirty-six girls showed up for the Rockettes Search4Clara audition at Capital City Dance Center Monday afternoon. The dancers learned one combination all together and, then, were split into three groups to learn and perform a second combination. The Rockettes staff measured every girl's height and photographed them twice. A videocamera was rolling for all the combinations. They say the final casting decision will be made by the director in New York City and two local girls will be called and will be offered the role of Clara in the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular at the Civic Center this December.

...that's the official version. And, this is just some of what the Rockettes staffers told me before or after all the auditioners were gone: They were discreetly auditioning the parents at the same time as the kids. Every child had to have a parent or guardian sign a release before they'd be allowed to participate in the audition. So, during the sign-up process, the three Rockettes staffers were quietly checking to see if any parental units were suffering from acute "stage-mom-itis" or "pain-inna-behind-itis". They say if a parent was a "red-flag", it'd be a mark against their child no matter how talented.

They also said anyone over five feet was automatically out of the running. That's okay with one mom who told me she didn't expect her daughter to get the part anyway, but, was just doing it "for the experience". That made sense to me and when I snuck into the studio during the group combination, it seemed at least a third of the girls wouldn't be seriously considered because they were too tall. Some were almost as tall as I am and on a good day, I'm waay taller than 4'11". "You have to fit the costume" assistant show director Michael Donaghy told me privately.

Others took themselves out of the running early because of other factors. One of the girls wasn't even wearing pointe shoes. Some couldn't do the single pirouette cleanly en pointe. Others couldn't keep up the performance level while concentrating on technique. Some couldn't apply the corrections Donaghy gave. But, the Rockettes seemed pleased with the turn-out and the general level of technique they found. Donaghy says, in some cities, if they don't find what they want, they'd just bring a young dancer in from New York. But, that wouldn't be necessary here.

I like that all the auditioners got to experience the full process. I also liked the fact they didn't charge girls to audition and didn't announce their cuts during the process. But, make no mistake about it. They were all making mental cuts throughout the three hours. And, in fact, only one of the three groups (with the possible exception of one girl) was seriously in the running for the final casting. How do I know? ?me f2f irl. (And, did uc the Mandolin Robber's Daughter on the Fox TV coverage of the audition?)

9.25.2007: Tip From the EMailbag

AH sends this 'ah-hah!' suggestion along:
Thought you guys might enjoy this.

Alissa

9.21.2007: The Best of the WWWrest

Pointed commentary:
"...washed-up celebrities and adventurous athletes .... are all that the viewing public knows of dance these days, since ballet and modern dance companies have been virtually voted off the air..."
Read 'em and weep from The Post

The debate continues:
"...But others are less convinced that television can help concert dance, and less circumspect in voicing their disdain. This latest skirmish in the high art/low art war has played out most fiercely over Mr. (Danny) Tidwell, who shocked balletomanes when he left American Ballet Theater in 2005, then added insult to injury by joining the third season of So You Think You Can Dance. He placed second on the show but was criticized as being arrogant...."
Join the skirmish from The New York Times.

And, here's some input from one of my new favorite dance websites:
"...I really think that dance on tv in general is a good thing, as long as people understand that it is an altogether different beast than the live performances you would see in a theater, a ballroom, etc. With SYTYCD, they are taking a format that the US tv audience is familar and comfortable with - American Idol - and injecting it with an art form that may be a bit less familiar to most people, and that you usually don’t see much of on tv. No, it’s not a pure representation of each dance genre that is shown (I can’t imagine that people tuning in are expecting to see that, it is a Fox television show after all), but it’s an introduction. I get excited about the fact that there could be a little girl or boy out there, who doesn’t see much pro dancing around him or her, but sees this on tv, and it creates that spark. Who knows where that spark will take them, but it is really something..."

There's more at The Winger.Com. Click on NYCB's Kristin Sloan's entries.


The reviews are in:
"...make no mistake: this is classy choreography performed by outstanding artists, and with it (Christopher) Wheeldon is setting himself the highest standards..."
Watch on-line video from one of the world's hottest ballet choreographers and his new company, Morphoses, on-line from The Times of London. And, read the full review here.

9.20.2007: Random Dance Info

Join The Playhouse on Oct. 12 for The Vanishing Pumpkin. This story is part of the 2007-08 season of Friday Funday, a creative participatory story theatre program for children ages 4-6. Performances are at The Playhouse, at 9:30 AM, 10:30 AM and 1:30 PM on Friday, Oct. 12. Shows are approximately 45 minutes in length. Admission is $5 per person, adults and children. Reservations are suggested.

October's featured story is The Vanishing Pumpkin. An old man and woman have a hankering for some pumpkin pie, but they have no pumpkin! Join them as they encounter a strange assortment of characters in their quest to find the culprit who stole the pumpkin from the pumpkin patch.


9.19.2007: Gnaw Lij R Powr!

(Courtesy Newswise) — When you’re trying to manage your weight, a grocery store can offer plenty of tempting treats, but there are many healthy options to find as well. Next time you go shopping, arm yourself with these simple strategies:
Plan ahead:
Think about healthy meals you can prepare for the coming week and use a shopping list so you’ll stick to healthful ingredients, says Pam T. Davis, a certified diabetes educator. “And don’t shop when you’re hungry or in a hurry,” she adds. “When people make this mistake, they tend to impulse buy.”

Beware of advertising:
“Any time you see something that is interesting and new, remember that the front of the package is just advertising and marketing,” says Elizabeth Schaub, a certified diabetes educator. “You need to flip it over and review the nutrition information and the ingredients. “Even foods touting low fat or low sugar can be high in calories.”

Get the facts straight:
With a nutrition label, note how many servings are in the package. “The information listed on the label reflects a one-serving portion,” says Paige Vogl, a certified diabetes educator. “So if you consume the entire package and there is more than one serving per package, you have to figure that into the total calories, fat and other nutrient values.”

Try new fruits and veggies:
“Sometimes we get into a rut and tend to purchase the same things over and over,” Vogl says. “Each fruit and vegetable is going to have a little bit different nutrient composition. If you’re only eating bananas and green beans, you’re going to be missing out on the nutrients that other produce might offer. Have some variety—ideally from day to day, but weekly at least.”

Buy fresh:
Favor fresh foods over prepackaged convenience items, which are typically found in interior aisles, Schaub advises. An exception: If you’re short on time, frozen vegetables are easy additions to a meal, Davis says, and you can quickly prepare them by steaming or microwaving.

When eating out, follow these guidelines:
  • Choose whole-wheat bread instead of white.

  • Ask for sauces and dressings on the side.

  • Order food steamed, grilled or broiled, not fried or sautéed.

  • If main portions are large, order an appetizer or side dish as your entrée, or share a dish with a friend.

  • Choose fruits as your dessert.

  • Opt for menu items rather than “all-you-can-eat” buffets.

(Courtesy Newswise) — Researchers report that fasting or eating half as much as usual every other day may shrink your fat cells and boost mechanisms that break down fats.

Consuming less calories and increasing physical activity is usually what people do to lose weight and stay healthy. But some people prefer to adopt a diet which consists of eating as much as they want one day while fasting the next. On each fasting day, these people consume energy-free beverages, tea, coffee, and sugar-free gum and they drink as much water as they need. Although many people claim that this diet, called alternate-day fasting (ADF), help them lose weight and improved their health, the effects on health and disease risk of ADF are not clear.

Krista Varady and colleagues studied the effects of alternate-day fasting on 24 male mice for four weeks. To assess the impact of ADF on the health of the mice, the scientists not only tested mice that followed and didn’t follow an ADF diet, but they also studied mice that followed the diet only partially: a group of mice consumed 50 percent of their regular diet every other day (ADF-50%) and another consumed 75 percent of their regular diet every other day (ADF-25%).

The scientists noticed that the mice that followed the complete ADF diet (ADF-100%) lost weight and that the fat cells of both the ADF-100% and ADF-50% groups shrunk by more than half and by 35 percent, respectively. Also, in these two groups of mice, fat under the skin – but not abdominal fat – was broken down more than in mice that did not follow the diet.

These results suggest that complete and modified ADF regimens seem to protect against obesity and type 2 diabetes but do not result in fat or weight loss. More studies will be needed to confirm whether the long-term effects of ADF regimens are beneficial for health and reduce disease risk, the scientists conclude.


(Courtesy Newswise) — Scientists report that when either lean or obese individuals exercise after eating a high fat meal, their fats are broken down and oxidized in skeletal muscle, making them healthier. These results show for the first time how a high fat diet and exercise stimulate the breakdown of fats and may help design ways to reduce excessive fat in the body.

Fat is broken down inside fat cells to generate energy by a process called lipolysis. The resulting fatty acids are released into the bloodstream and carried to tissues that require energy. In obese individuals, too much fat accumulates, compromising lipolysis, but the details of how this happens are not well understood. Also, obese individuals can show altered responsiveness to the stress hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine in their subcutaneous fat.

Max Lafontan and colleagues investigated how fat is broken down in both lean and obese subjects who exercised after either fasting or eating a high-fat diet. They noticed that after eating a high-fat diet, fats were broken down in both lean and obese individuals. Under fasting conditions, the breakdown of fats was more pronounced in the lean subjects, but the high fat meal enhanced lipolysis in the obese subjects.


9.18.2007: Inside Scoop!

Just got off the phone with Michael Donaghy, assistant director of the Rockette's Christmas Spectacular coming to the Civic Center this December. He'll be at Capital City Dance Center next Monday for an open audition to cast two girls as Clara in the Nutcracker segment of their show. I asked what makes a good first impression when he first sees auditioners. Donaghy says he likes to see clean pink tights, hair in a neat bun with well-fitted pointe shoes and leotard. "Nice presentation" he calls it. He DOESN'T want to see girls wearing jazz outfits or big cover-ups. He's looking for girls who "love to dance" and "love to be on stage", 4'11" and under, 10-14 years old. His pet peeves include girls who like to "sit and chat" among themselves and not pay attention to the audition process. But, he says he's constantly surprised at the level of training outside of New York City. He also says there's some bad training going on out there, but, he didn't want to talk about that. Donaghy says one of his goals is to make sure all the girls who show up to audition benefit from the experience of a professional audition, even if they don't get cast. He says learning how to audition well is a skill seperate from dance training. He says it's been hit or miss as far as audition turn-out goes as he travels around the country. He said about a hundred showed up at a Texas audition last year. But, in some other areas, as few as ten. He says the two girls chosen will be paid a weekly salary and be professionally tutored because they'll miss a lot of school during the month of December. "Professionally treated" is how he puts it. Donaghy says getting cast as Clara has served as a stepping stone for other young girls. He says some former Claras are now dancing in Broadway shows and several have gone on to become full-fledged members of the Rockettes. Donaghy says he's looking forward to his first visit to central Iowa. He shared that his boss, Julie Brannon, is originally from Des Moines and danced with the Rockettes for years. BTW, he pronounces his name "donna-gee" with a hard "g".

9.17.2007: Coming Soon 2 A Theatre Near U!

More than Hubbard Street coming soon. Providing this synopsis of professional dance performances coming your way! Starting this week! No extra charge from your full service ballet blogger and CCDancedoC:

Momix
Friday, October 12, 2007 • 7:30 pm
Stephens Auditorium

Known internationally for presenting work of exceptional inventiveness and physical beauty, Momix is a company of dancer-illusionists under the direction of Moses Pendleton. For 25 years, Momix has been celebrated for its ability to conjure up spectacles of surrealistic images using light, costumes, props, and, above all, bodies, to jaw-dropping effect. More info here.


Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company
Blind Date
Tuesday, November 6, 7:30 pm
Post-performance discussion with the company in the auditorium immmediately following the performance

“Movement has a power that no other medium can bring to the stage.” So says Bill T. Jones, perhaps today’s most thought-provoking choreographer, and Blind Date proves his point. An investigation into “what it means to be a world citizen,” this acclaimed work exploits the bold physicality of Jones’ movement vocabulary while asking audiences “to maybe do a quick check of your own understanding of what makes you a free person.” Blind Date features music by J. S. Bach and Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR), performing live just days prior to his own performance at Hancher on November 9. More here.


Radio City Christmas Spectacular
Civic Center
Thursday, December 6 - Sunday, December 30 • 2007

Direct from New York, the Radio City Christmas Spectacular makes its debut at the Civic Center for 46 dazzling performances! Most famous for their eye high kicks and precision dancing, the Rockettes have strutted their way into the hearts of millions and continue to be a beloved family holiday tradition. This live production has dazzling scenery, costumes and lighting, as well as a cast and crew of nearly 100 members, including Santa Claus himself! In addition to the Rockette showstopper Twelve Days of Christmas, this magical production features legendary favorite Parade of the Wooden Soldiers and the awe-inspiring Living Nativity. Time Magazine calls the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, "One of the Grandest Holiday Traditions in the U.S. ...Bring the Whole Family!" More here.


DecaDance Theatre
Thursday, February 28, 2008 • 7:30 pm
Stephens Auditorium

Described as an urban ballet for the 21st century, this Brooklyn-based company is made up of eight young women from the United States and Japan who strive to move hip-hop out of the background of music videos and into the forefront of theatrical performance. DecaDance Theatre uses the vocabulary of hip-hop, much like traditional choreographers use the vocabulary of ballet, to tell stories of the hip-hop generation. The dancers blend various underground dance styles, acquired in the clubs and on the streets of the cities in which they grew up. More info here.


State Ballet of Georgia
Giselle
Hancher Auditorium
Tuesday, March 11, 7:30 pm

It’s nothing less than an audacious cultural uprising in the former Soviet state of Georgia. The challenge: Build a world-class ballet company from the ground up. The foundation: Bolshoi and American Ballet Theatre superstar Nina Ananiashvili and former Bolshoi artistic director Alexei Fadeyechev, as well as principal dancers from Bolshoi. The result: A brilliant company performing peerless masterworks. The production of Giselle features reconstructions of scenery and costumes designed by Alexandre Benois, a premier Russian designer in the early twentieth century. The majesty of Russian ballet is renewed by the State Ballet of Georgia. More here.


Riverdance
Civic Center
Friday, March 14 - Sunday, March 16 • 2008

Now in its 11th phenomenal year, Riverdance, the internationally-acclaimed celebration of Irish music, song and dance that has touched the hearts of millions around the world, triumphantly returns to the Civic Center. “An explosion of sight and sound that simply takes your breath away,” cheers the Chicago Tribune. “A family evening unlike anything else!” raves The London Times. Discover why nothing in the world compares to the original! Whether it’s your first time or your fifth, there is no better time to share the magic of Riverdance with your family. More here.


Movin’ Out
Hancher Auditorium
Friday, April 4, 7:30 pm
Saturday, April 5, 2 & 7:30 pm
Sunday, April 6, 2 pm

Five-time Grammy winner Billy Joel and legendary director/choreographer Twyla Tharp have joined forces to create the spectacular musical Time Magazine declared “The #1 show of the year!” The New York Times calls Movin’ Out “a shimmering portrait of an American generation. These tornado driven dancers and rock musicians propel the audience into delirious ovations.” Movin’ Out brings 24 Billy Joel classics to electrifying new life as it tells the story of five life-long friends over two turbulent decades. It all adds up to one unforgettable Broadway musical. More here.


Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
JUDITH JAMISON, ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
Masazumi Chaya, ASSOCIATE ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
Tuesday and Wednesday, April 8 and 9, 7:30 pm

The name alone is enough to evoke images of gorgeous dancers dancing spectacularly. Under the direction of former company star Judith Jamison, the ensemble that bears Alvin Ailey’s name continues its commitment to being nothing short of superlative. A favorite of Hancher audiences—and audiences around the world—the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater honors the African American cultural experience while strengthening the country’s modern dance legacy. The program includes Ailey’s masterwork, Revelations, which may very well be the most beloved work in the history of modern dance. Here’s our guarantee: The company will be in motion, and you are sure to be moved. More here.


Ballet Hispanico Applause!
Civic Center
Friday, April 18 • 2008

A spirited blend of dance and narrative, this 50-minute performance provides a theatrical and entertaining insight into the vibrant traditions and contemporary cultures of Latin America. Ballet Hispanico’s performances bring all the hallmarks of a professional concert – dance, music, costumes and lights. The dancers draw the audience into a theatrical and entertaining celebration of Hispanic culture with a fusion of ballet, modern and Latin dance forms. More here.


Stomp
Civic Center
Friday, May 9 - Sunday, May 11 • 2008

STOMP is explosive, provocative, sophisticated, sexy, utterly unique and appeals to audiences of all ages. The international percussion sensation has garnered an armful of awards and rave reviews, and has appeared on numerous national television shows. The eight-member troupe uses everything but conventional percussion instruments – matchboxes, wooden poles, brooms, garbage cans, Zippo lighters, hubcaps – to fill the stage with magnificent rhythms. As USA Today says, “STOMP finds beautiful noises in the strangest places.” STOMP. See what all the noise is about. More here .


Rubberbandance Group
Hancher Auditorium
Saturday, June 14, 2 pm

Victor Quijada danced on the street and in clubs growing up in Los Angeles with a style that earned him the nickname “Rubberband.” He discovered ballet and modern dance in high school, eventually finding himself in Twyla Tharp’s company and then in Les Grands Ballets Canadiens Montréal. He’s taken all of those influences—from hip-hop to ballet—and created Rubberbandance Group, an ensemble with moves like no other dance company. The work is electric and, yes, elastic. Your family will be in the perfect spot when Quijada and Rubberbandance Group hit the stage. More here.


9.14.2007: Tripping the Light Fantastic! ...Or Just Trippin'?

For those of you still suffering from SYTYCD withdrawal, hang in there! Dancing With The Stars returns in just over a week (9.24.2007). Check out the pre-season hype at the ABC Website. Haven't really broken down everyone's chances, but, at first blush, sight unseen, I wouldn't bet against the Cheetah Girl! (Remember that girl from High School Musical a season or two ago?) The men don't look especially promising, but, they've proved me wrong before. As a dark horse, Mr Las Vegas himself, Wayne Newton. He's a consummate showman and that's half the battle. Think about it. On the other hand, it's a safe bet that one of the models, male or female, will be the first to go. Also, have you heard about the new dance challenge led by DWTS Judges Carrie Ann and Bruno and emceed by DWTS II winner Drew Lachey? Looks mildly interesting, but, I'll give it a chance just because we have to support more dance in more forms of media!...And, here's a follow-up to the earlier CCDC T-shirt slogan suggestions entry: I danced with a guy once who told me they had T-shirts made up at his college that said "I CAN'T! I have rehearsal!" We all laughed because as dancers, we've all had to say it at one time or another. Just remember it's the choices we make today, that determine our future tomorrow. ...Hmm. Think that'd look good on a T-Shirt? Maluhia out!

9.13.2007: The Web Lynx Prowls Again!

Got this in the e-mailbag. A source where you can check out nutrition facts from fast food outlets from Men's Health Magazine.

Hermione heading back to the barre:
"...And, (Emma) Watson is certainly making sure that she gets into character, for not only has she dyed her hair white blonde, but has also brushed up her ballet skill by taking lessons. ..."
Complete the connection at the Times of India.

Notes from an audition:
"..."The fun part of this piece is there are mistakes in it. It's a big puzzle that people do together. When they drop the ball it's enormously honest. And it's who they really are. And I love that," he said...."
Get more than the gist from the OC Register

Notes from another audition:
"...she wasn't nervous about the auditions, 'this is my fourth year auditioning, and I know everyone, so I'm not really nervous. It's fun...I think of it more as a technique class'..."
Read the rest from the ISU Bengal

Never mind Madonna:
"...It’s today’s vogue, a unique dance form that has blossomed since the ‘80s in cities like New York, Chicago and Atlanta, and remains a vibrant and often misunderstood discipline. The vogue has remained relatively underground, perpetuated through the ballroom scene where brave dancers, both young and old, experiment with the art form, interweaving modern dance, gymnastic and martial arts elements, to compete in pageants and push the edges of expectation..."
Strike a pose and head over to the Windy City Times

9.12.2007: Shashank Redemption...and more!

Indian flautist Shashank, who continues the legacy of Indian classical music known to most westerners through the music of Ravi Shankar will present a lecture-demonstration recital at Drake University this Friday. The event is free and open to the public. The concert starts at 8 p.m. on the Jordan Stage in Sheslow Auditorium in Old Main.

Shashank will talk about and perform Indian rhythm patterns of improvisation, vocal improvisation, Indian classical flute playing and traditional compositions from the masters.

Shashank has appeared throughout India, the United States, Canada, South Africa, Asia, and Europe. His performances have garnered rave reviews from newspapers such as The Washington Post, which said he “manifested an ineffable sweetness of tone,” and The Oregonian, which stated that his recent “concert captures the soul of India."

For more information about Shashank, click here . For more information about his Drake recital, contact Leslie Marrs, assistant professor of flute.


Hubbard Street Dance Chicago
Saturday, October 13 • 2007
Civic Center

Under the dynamic leadership of Artistic Director Jim Vincent, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago is one of the most innovative forces in contemporary dance. Recognized worldwide for its exuberant, athletic and eclectic repertory, Hubbard Street incorporates diverse influences from ballet to American musical theater to cutting-edge choreography. The company of 22 professional dancers perform works unparalleled in artistic quality by both American and International choreographers.

Find out more at the Civic Center Website.


Charlotte's Web opens at The Playhouse on Sept. 28. The show is already proving so popular, the theatre has added a week of performances, with the show running through Oct. 21 instead of the originally published Oct. 14. Tickets are $12-15 and may be purchased at The Playhouse ticket office, by phone at 515-277-6261, and online.

Based on the best selling children's book by E.B. White, Charlotte's Web tells a touching story about friendship and love. When Wilbur, a runty, but goodhearted young pig, finds out he's on course to meet the butcher, his friends in the barn come to his rescue: Templeton, the gluttonous rat who can occasionally be talked into a good deed, and of course, the extraordinary spider, Charlotte who proves to be "a true friend and a good writer." Charlotte, determined to save Wilbur, uses her abilities to write "Some Pig" in her web, the first effort in the attempt to save her friend Wilbur; a friendship that means everything to Charlotte.

The Playhouse cast of 26 features Annie Mielke as Charlotte, Dan Heck as Wilbur and Vicente Vasquez as Templeton. The show is under the direction of Kathy Pingel, who most recently directed Anastasia Krupnik in the children's theatre.


Auditions for the play Tuck Everlasting will be held at The Playhouse on Sunday, Sept. 30, at 6:00 PM. All auditions are open to the public; no one is pre-cast.

Tuck Everlasting has roles for 4 men and 2 women, ages 16+, and 1 boy and 1 girl, ages 11-16. Performances are Nov. 9-25. Tuck Everlasting is directed by Ron Ziegler (The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe).

Young Winnie Foster meets handsome Jesse Tuck in the woods behind her home, but this young man has a secret. The Tuck family has become immortal from drinking from a spring in the forest, and now Winnie must choose between eternal life or the mortality that the Tuck family longs for.


9.11.2007: Postcards From The Edge

In the middle of a hectic transition to college life, Odette sends this e-message:
"Hey everybody at CCDC!!! I miss you all so much, but I am having a blast here at the University...This semester I am taking ballet, modern, dance production, introduction to dance studies, accelerated rhetoric, and human biology. It’s definitely a lot of work, but it’s going really well and I like all of my professors. My roommate is great. Her name is Nicole and she is from West Liberty...She is a theatre major, so we have a lot in common and we get along really well. Unfortunately, the food here is pretty bad. I have found a few things that I like, but I’m starting to get tired of having the same thing everyday. Amazingly, I have not been lost on campus yet! My dorm is on the east side of the river, along with all of my classes and the downtown area, so I never have to go too far to get anywhere. My farthest class is only about a ten-minute walk so it is pointless to even attempt to figure out the bus schedule. (Maybe I’ll change my mind about that when it starts snowing!) By the way, my social life is not a total lost cause. There are so many people here that it is not at all hard to make new friends. I live in the Performing Arts Learning Community so a lot of the people that I meet on my floor of the dorm are dancers, like me, and I have a lot of classes in common with them.

My dance classes are very interesting. They are a lot different than classes at CCDC! I have modern Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and I have ballet every day. Both classes are an hour and twenty minutes. It is really hard right now to make it through a whole modern class without looking at the clock a few hundred times. It’s not that the class isn’t fun, I’m just not used to the longer class time yet. However, I am learning a lot! My modern class is quite a bit different than the modern class that I am used to, so I am having a hard time picking up the choreography, but I do think that I have improved just within the last two weeks. My ballet classes are extremely different as well. Barre is a lot of short combinations. We usually do a few tendu combinations before we even get to plies. We have been working on not using the barre so much, so we do a lot of combinations twice, once with the barre and once without the barre. It gets kind of boring and repetitive sometimes, but I understand why we do it. My ballet teacher loves stretching and ab work, so we do a lot of that! Most of the girls in the class are not trained in classical ballet, but there are a couple of girls that are decent. As far as corrections go, there really aren’t any. The only corrections we get are group corrections that are usually not very helpful. Most of the time all the teacher says is “good”, even if it is not very good. But don’t worry; I can practically hear Missy and Emery giving me corrections in my head. I can usually correct my self if I notice that something doesn’t look or feel right. I definitely feel like I have been well prepared for dance classes here. I have been to two auditions already, but because of my busy schedule and adjusting to college life, I have chosen not to participate in any productions yet.

I miss all of you and I look forward to taking class with you again next time I come home!..."

If you want Odette's e-mail address, e-mail me.

9.10.2007: Thighs Matters

(Courtesy Reuters Health) - Adults with tight leg muscles can improve their flexibility, and may make their muscles stronger in the process, a study shows.

Most physically active people probably do a little stretching or know that they should. But little research has been done on the correlation between muscle flexibility and muscle performance, according to the authors of the new study.

To look at this question, the researchers recruited 30 young adults with tight hamstrings, the muscles at the back of the thighs. For six weeks, the volunteers performed a series of hamstring stretches five days per week; at the beginning and end of the study, they had their flexibility and thigh muscle strength tested using workout equipment.

In the end, the formerly tight volunteers loosened up and increased their range of motion. But their thigh muscles also became stronger, the researchers report in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine.

"Both muscle groups of the knee -- flexors and extensors -- were able to generate more work after the intervention, indicating that the tight muscles got stronger," explained study co-author Dr. Luci F. Teixeira-Salmela. The knee flexors refer to the hamstrings, which bend the knee, while the knee extensors refer to the quadriceps muscles at the front of the thigh, which straighten the knee joint.

The study results show that adults' muscle flexibility can be modified, Teixeira-Salmela and her colleagues write, and that this change might improve muscle performance.

One implication of this is that flexibility training may help prevent knee injuries, according to the researchers. However, it's important to regularly stretch not only the hamstrings says Teixeira-Salmela, but other muscle groups as well -- particularly the ones that do the bulk of the work in any given activity.

9.7.2007: We R NOT Forgotten!

CCDC graduate Giselle sends this message in an e-bottle:
"...I hope everything is going well at the studio! I miss you guys a lot!

As I think you all know, I'm going to the University...and I am majoring in dance. I am taking Introduction to Dance Studies, Ballet, Modern, Calculus I, Spanish, and Online (Studies). My roomie is great! She is from (near where I live), so we rode home together when I was home this past weekend. We get along well and our schedules are pretty similar. The food is not so good....it is dorm food after all. The thing I miss the most is fresh fruit. Luckily I have a fridge so I am able to keep some of my own in my room. The grocery store is pretty far away, so I can't go that often. Luckily, my supply is lasting me right now. I don't know what I will do when I run out!

Campus seemed enormous at first, but it gets smaller every day. I haven't gotten completely lost, just sometimes I don't exactly take the quickest route :) I love how the downtown area is so close. It is a gorgeous campus to live on, even though my dorm is far away from most of my classes. I am trying to walk a lot while it is nice outside instead of taking the buses. It is definately taking some getting used to, though, walking everywhere.

I am taking modern three times a week. It last an hour and twenty minutes. The length in itself is weird getting used to! My teacher is very nice and I think I will learn a lot about modern technique. It is definitely something I am not really that knowledgable about, though, so sometimes I struggle with it. In general, I am enjoying that class. I have ballet every day, also for a hour and twenty mintues. I have gotten the impression that the teachers rotate throughout the semester, so luckily I will get to have different teachers. Ballet is VERY different than what I am used to. We don't necessarily do a full ballet class everyday. My teacher skips around the the normal progression of combinations, which is kind of annoying. He is very into stretching right now because of the humidity, so we are doing a lot of that. The combinations in general are very short, but we repeat them a lot. My teacher doesn't really give corrections. When he does, they often don't make a lot of sense to me, or it is something pretty elementary compared to the corrections we get at CCDC. Placement isn't really a big concern in my ballet classes, but I am trying to be my own teacher, just like I have been taught! All of this is fairly hard to adjust to, but I feel like I have been vey well prepared to take classes outside of CCDC.

There have been quite a few auditions. I auditioned for a collaborative performance the other night. I was cast, but I decided not to participate because I had conflicts with the rehearsals. The rehearsals were quite often, and I really don't want to be overwhelmed my first semester. There are more auditions coming up, like for Dance Gala, that I will most likely give a shot, to get, if nothing else, some good experience.

I miss you all very much! I can't wait to come take class again!..."

If any of you need Giselle's new e-mail, e-mail me.

9.6.2007: Drink To Thine Health

(Courtesy Newswise) — In years past, family physician Pamela Rockwell told parents not to let their children drink too much fruit juice because of its link to obesity. These days, though, she has changed her advice.

A study this year found no association between childhood obesity and 100 percent fruit juice with no sugar added. “That’s big news, and it’s made a difference in what I tell my patients,” says Rockwell, D.O.

Other studies, meanwhile, have found that many fruit juices provide powerful health benefits, Rockwell notes. Research in recent years has identified ways that beverages such as pomegranate, orange and cranberry juices can help to prevent or cure diseases.

Juices that provide health benefits:

Pomegranate juice
Pomegranate juice has received a great deal of attention in recent years for its reported benefits. It is a rich source of antioxidants and has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol – the bad, artery-clogging portion of one’s cholesterol, Rockwell says.

It also may slow the growth of prostate cancer. Pomegranate juice has been shown to stabilize the levels of men’s PSA, or prostate specific antigen. This protein in the blood is measured to gauge how quickly a man’s prostate cancer is progressing. Another study found that pomegranate juice may increase blood flow to the heart in people with ischemic coronary heart disease.


Orange juice
The iconic breakfast drink may help people prevent recurrences of painful kidney stones. A study has found that a daily glass of orange juice can reduce the incidence of kidney stones better than other citrus drinks, such as lemonade

Cranberry juice
Long thought of as a home remedy for urinary tract infections, cranberry juice now appears to be most helpful before the UTI even develops. Studies indicate that cranberry juice is effective at preventing a UTI, but not at curing an existing infection, Rockwell notes

Blueberry juice
Blueberries have some of the same properties as cranberries that allow it to prevent UTIs, Rockwell says.
Other studies have indicated that an overall increase in consumption of fruits and vegetables reduces one’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. A 2006 study showed that people who drank fruit or vegetable juices more than three times a week were 76 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s than those who drank juice less than once a week.

Drinking fruit juice is not an inherently healthy activity, however. Rockwell warns that many juices contain high levels of corn syrup, typically high fructose corn syrup. She says consumers should look for 100 percent natural fruit juice to avoid corn syrup.

“Corn syrup is related to many bad health issues, such as higher blood sugar and obesity,” Rockwell notes. “It leads to the buildup of fat cells, and contributes to the obesity problem in the U.S. and other industrialized nations.”

For more information, visit these Web sites:

9.5.2007: Please 2 Tease!

Okay, so what do you think should go on the next Capital City Dance Center T-shirt? Here's a couple of slogans that've been suggested:
  • "I dance. Therefore, I am!"

  • "Dance well...or not at all!"

  • "Dance FULL OUT...or go home!"

  • "Hey! It's rude 2 stare! ...But, I'm used 2 it!"

  • "Can't pick up the steps? Just follow me!"

  • "So You Think You Can Dance? Got news 4 U!"

  • "You're REALLY Dancing With The Stars NOW!"

  • "Got Dance? CCDC does!"

  • "Everybody is a dancer. The difference is the training!"

  • "Dancers do it with attitude!"

  • "Shut up and dance!"

  • "Just try to keep up!"

  • "Really, you're not half-bad! It's just I'm ALL good!"

  • "Rather be dancing...at CCDC!"

  • "Send the others home. I'm here 2 audition!"

  • "Clear the dance floor. Give the real dancer some room!"

Think you can do better? E-mail us!

9.4.2007: Mo Artz Shortz

DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa artists, arts organizations, schools and other community groups applying for Major Grant funding from the Iowa Arts Council have until October 1, 2007 to submit applications and support materials.

Grant applications and support materials are due in the IAC offices, 600 E. Locust Street, Des Moines, Iowa 50319 by 4:30 p.m. on October 1st. Grant applicants must visit here and use eGRANT, the IAC’s online grant application and submission system. In addition, hard copies of support materials, work samples and the service contract must be received in the IAC office by 4:30 p.m. October 1st.

Projects submitted under the October 1st deadline must occur between January 1 and June 30, 2008.

IAC Major Grants are designed to provide financial assistance for projects developed to bring excellence in the arts to all Iowans. The program emphasizes artistic excellence, service to Iowans, and solid project planning and implementation. Applicants may request up to $10,000 but no more than 50 percent of the project’s total expenses. Applicants must match the amount requested. IAC Major Grants are available in the following categories:

  • Artist Grants Artists in Schools and Communities Residency Grants

  • Arts in Education Grants

  • Conference, Workshop & Forum Grants

  • Folk & Traditional Arts Grants

  • Organization Grants

  • Public Art Grants

Last Spring, IAC awarded 23 major arts and organizational grants totaling $150,000 to individuals and organizations serving Iowans across the state. IAC received 78 Major Grant requests totaling $671,000 last Spring.

9.3.2007: Happy Laborious Day!

You don't know how much you miss them...until they come back for a brief shining moment. Anyone who missed Saturday or Monday class, missed the return of CCDC graduates Giselle and the Zoober. (Where's Silk, the Shaka'?) They were back from the University for the long holiday weekend. 'Da Zoob reports she's been moved up one level already and offered another jump in placement, but, it wouldn't work with her academics. Nice to get reaffirmed that we're doing something right here at CCDC. Meanwhile, Giselle says her teachers suffer in comparison to what she's been used to getting at Capital City Dance Center. I told her finding good teachers is a bit of a "hit and miss" proposition at the post-secondary level. When you're on your own, you can "vote with your feet" and take class with the best teachers you can find. But, when you're locked into an academic system you have to take what you can get. The idea is to remember the corrections of the best teachers you've taken from and become your own best teacher. Don't be a good dancer just because you have a good teacher. The best dancers can make their own worthy class from even the most mediocre teachers. The good news is Giselle loves her modern classes. The better news is...they both promise to write an update soon!

8.31.2007: Inquiring Minds Want no "No"!

Why is this not showing on our local PBS affiliate?
NUREYEV: THE RUSSIAN YEARS:

Rudolf Nureyev is one of the enduring icons of the performing arts in the 20th century, a figure whose fame reached far beyond the ballet stage. But what is there to say about Nureyev that hasn't already been said in numerous books and documentaries? In the post-Soviet world, new sources of information have emerged. Featuring recently recorded interviews with Russian friends and colleagues now free to discuss his early years, as well as archival footage not seen in the West, NUREYEV: THE RUSSIAN YEARS traces his meteoric career with fresh insight and candor. At last, this performance documentary reveals why he felt compelled to defect in 1961 -- his daring quest for personal and artistic freedom -- as well as his painful homecoming many years later under the hostile eye of the KGB. The program will complement the publication of a major new authorized biography by Julie Kavanagh in fall 2007.

Although he became inextricably linked with London's Royal Ballet and its prima ballerina, Margot Fonteyn, after leaving the Kirov, Nureyev was never a permanent member of any one company and danced with many renowned ballet and modern dance troupes throughout the world. His repertoire was dominated by roles in the classical Romantic ballets, but he also appeared in works by choreographers as distinct as Frederick Ashton, George Balanchine, Martha Graham and Paul Taylor.

8.31.2007: The Agony of "da' Feet"!

(Courtesy Newswise) — Here are five myths about foot care and the realities behind them. For five additional myths, visit the ACFAS consumer Web site.

Myth: Cutting a notch (a “V”) in a toenail will relieve the pain of ingrown toenails

Reality: When a toenail is ingrown, the nail curves downward and grows into the skin. Cutting a “V” does not affect the growth of the toenail. New nail growth will continue to curve downward. Cutting a “V” may actually cause more problems and is painful in many cases.

Myth: My foot or ankle can’t be broken if I can walk on it

Reality: It’s entirely possible to walk on a foot or ankle with a broken bone. “It depends on your threshold for pain,” as well as the severity of the injury, according to Dr. Samuel Nava. But it’s not a smart idea. Walking with a broken bone can cause further damage. It is crucial to stay off an injured foot until diagnosis by a foot and ankle surgeon. Until then, apply ice elevate the foot to reduce pain.

Myth: Shoes cause bunions

Reality: Bunions are most often caused by an inherited faulty mechanical structure of the foot. It is not the bunion itself that is inherited, but certain foot types make a person prone to developing a bunion. While wearing shoes that crowd the toes together can, over time, make bunions more painful, shoes themselves do not cause bunions. Although some treatments can ease the pain of bunions, only surgery can correct the deformity.

Myth: A doctor can’t fix a broken toe

Reality: Nineteen of the 26 bones in the foot are toe bones. “What I tell patients is, there are things we can do to make a broken toe heal better and prevent problems later on, like arthritis or toe deformities,” Nava says. Broken toes that aren’t treated correctly can also make walking and wearing shoes difficult. A foot and ankle surgeon will x-ray the toe to learn more about the fracture. If the broken toe is out of alignment, the surgeon may have to insert a pin, screw or plate to reposition the bone.

Myth: Corns have roots

Reality: A corn is a small build-up of skin caused by friction. Nava says many corns result from a hammertoe deformity, where the toe knuckle rubs against the shoe. The only way to eliminate these corns is to surgically correct the hammertoe condition. Unlike a callus, a corn has a central core of hard material. But corns do not have roots. Attempting to cut off a corn or applying medicated corn pads can lead to serious infection or even amputation. A foot and ankle surgeon can safely evaluate and treat corns and the conditions contributing to them.

8.30.2007: Inside the Audition

This submitted from the GoCCDancedoC:
"Why not audition?"

That's the thought that popped into my head as I was mowing the lawn this past weekend. I'd been trying to figure out ways to get reinvolved with the local Nutcracker. I used to choreograph, coach and perform for several local productions right after I stepped down from the professional company back in the last century. But, I'd been away for several years and was looking to reconnect. I was invited to attend a production planning meeting. I was hoping to choreograph or coach, but, it seemed like all their bases were covered. Any interest on their part was difficult to detect.

So, why not audition, indeed? It's not like they ever had enough men, especially, men who were fully trained and could partner. Perhaps this would get their attention. I still did at least a barre everyday. Time had eroded the power and strength and grace I once had (And, believe me, as more and more years go by, the more powerful, strong and graceful, I recall being!) But, I kept trying to convince myself I held onto enough that I wouldn't be totally useless on stage.

One key hurdle was passing the "wife test". If my former professional dancer wife didn't burst out laughing when I suggested it, that would be a hopeful sign. And, she did kindly refrain from giggling too much when I approached her with the idea. She did say she thought I was nuts, but, didn't come right out and call it "ridiculous"!

So, that's how I found myself at a portable barre this past Sunday. And, I was I glad I had something to hang onto. Many of the dancers had to use folding chairs or the wall to steady themselves. The studio was big, but, crammed to the gills with auditioners.

I didn't really care for class. It didn't really set me up for center, but, I'd expected that and had already done nearly a full class before I arrived. A good teacher always has a plan or focus. Combinations build on the previous exercise. What happens in center flows from technique built at the barre. But, that didn't happen on Sunday. Complicated combinations just for the sake of complicating things always tend to exasperate me. Especially when the teacher shows it two different ways! Before grand battements, the guy next to me whispered "What was that combination?" "I don't know," I replied. "I'm following her", and pointed to one of the girls along the side barre. She raised an eyebrow back at me and laughingly said, "Don't watch me! I don't know it either!". So, I just tried to not hit anyone else.

The center wasn't much better. The room was so crowded, I went with the last group and just tried to stay out of everyone's way. The combinations weren't that hard. But, the men's jumps went on forever! I started off jumping well, but, was barely pointing my toes by the time it finished. And, what's the point of having the men do fouette' turns? That's traditionally a girl's move. I asked the man giving the class whether men should do grand pirouettes instead. He said I could, but, it was "only two" fouette turns. So, I ended up doing fouettes on one side and grande pirouettes a la seconde on the other. Before I knew it, a little partnering (very little!) and the audition for the men was over.

So, we'll see. I wrote down on the audition form, I wanted to "understudy male leads", so, I hope that's what I'll get. I've done everything in Nutcracker that I've wanted to do already. And, I really have no desire to do a parent or Dross or Fritz, and will turn those down. But, any serious understudying, I'll be willing to consider. I'll let you know. I've always said the first and last thing most American dancers do is Nutcracker, so, we'll see.

Now, maybe, I'll do that Rockette's Search for Clara...;o)"

8.28.2007: Arts Shortz

The Playhouse Mainstage will soon be transformed into an alleyway location for the annual Jellicle Ball. Andrew Lloyd Webber's legendary Cats opens the theatre's 89th season on Sept. 7.

Grizabella, whose showstopper Memory is so closely identified with the Tony Award-winning show, is played by Linda Juckette (last seen at The Playhouse as Mother in Ragtime). The cast of 30 features stage favorites and newcomers alike, including Susan Grozier (Mrs. Robinson, The Graduate) as Jennyanydots, who teaches the mice in her home to crochet, and Brandon Gedler (Keno, The Full Monty) as finicky and mischievous Rum Tum Tugger. Also in the cast are John Robinson (Dave, The Full Monty) as Gus the theatre cat, Joshua Burke as Old Deuteronomy, Sam Button-Harrison (Troy, Disney's High School Musical) as Munkustrap, Tony DiMeglio (Ryan, Disney's High School Musical) as Macavity and Amy Burgmaier (Roxie Hart, Chicago) as Jellyorum. The Cats artistic team is led by director/choreographer Alison Shafer (choreographer, Disney's High School Musical), director John Viars (director, The Full Monty) and music director Brenton Brown (music director, The Full Monty).


8.24.2007: Search 4 Clara FAQ

The Rockette's search for two local dancers to portray Clara during their Christmas Spectacular at the Civic Center is exactly one month from today. The audition will be held at Capital City Dance Center on Monday, September 24. Here are the answers to some Frequently Asked Questions we submitted to the Rockette's choreographer:

What are you looking for most when you cast for Clara?

Energetic, young, confident, a performer who is comfortable on stage.

How hard and fast is that 4'11" or shorter requirement? What if I'm 4'11 1/4"?

The 4'11" requirement is pretty hard and fast. If you are 4'11 1/4" you are welcome to audition, but girls at the height we are asking for and under are at an advantage when it comes to making final decision. It's important that Clara be shorter than the adult ensemble members who can be as short as 5'1". It is also important that the girls look like young girls and not young women. We know that's challenging to find when you are looking for dancers en pointe, but the Nutcracker in our show is a fantasy sequence of a young girl who dreams of being a ballerina.

What's your best advice for girls planning to audition? What's the most common mistake you see?

When you say "must be strong en pointe", what do you mean? How many years of training en pointe would you prefer?

Answer to both questions above is: girls need to be able to roll up onto their toes comfortably and they must look good in their shoes, their shoes should fit like a glove. We understand that since we are looking for young girls, that makes it harder to find young girls who have a lot of experience. We have cast girls with anywhere from 3 months to 2 years experience.

What sort of specific pointe technique should we be able to execute? Bourre's? Pas de Courus? Pique turns? Penche' arabesques en pointe? Fouette' turns?

Bourre's, Pirouettes and echappes are included in the combinations they will be taught.

How much pas de deux, partnering or lift experience do you expect?

None, if they are cast, they will be taught what they need to know about this as part of the rehearsal process.

How much does performance quality, experience or personality play in your casting decision?

Performance quality and personality are very important. Experience is not as important.

If you had to choose between a strong performer with weak technique versus a weak performer with strong technique, which way would you go?

Need to have both. Need to have strong technique and be able to smile and enjoy yourself while dancing.

What should we expect to do at the audition? The format? Do we get a warm-up? A full barre? Or should we warm-up ourselves?

As with most professional, theatrical auditions, there will be no warm-up. Dancers should come early to check in and warm up themselves. In the audition, dancers will be taught and evaluated on 2 different combinations.

When will you announce your decision? Will there be cuts during the audition? Will we know who gets cast by the end of the audition? Or, how soon will we be notified and how? E-mail or snail mail?

Dancers who are cast will be called within a few weeks of the audition. Only dancers who are cast will be called. There will be no cuts during the audition.

8.24.2007: Web Lynx Prowls Again!

The resurrection of a dead ballet company?:
"...Twelve dancers have been hired, and further auditions will soon be announced. Chevron and Target have signed as major sponsors. The city of Oakland's Cultural Funding Program has also pitched in on the $80,000 currently secured toward a $350,000 fundraising goal. ..."
Hope springs eternal at the San Francisco Chronicle.

Dance video clips available from the Daily Telegraph.

Interesting news from the Journal of Pain:
"...The right attitude may take some of the aches and pains out of vigorous exercise, new research suggests. In a small study of young, physically active women, researchers found that those who firmly believed they could tolerate the pain of a tough workout actually did feel less muscle soreness as they exercised. The findings suggest that boosting people's feelings of "self-efficacy" could help them keep up an active lifestyle, the study authors report in the Journal of Pain...."
Hit the grand salami at Reuters Website

Performance coming:
"...With modern dance, people are afraid to see it, because they think they won't 'get it,' " she said. She added with a smile, "If you don't get what I'm doing, then I'm doing something wrong..."
Read the rest from the Daily Iowan.

8.23.2007: Ripping 'U' out of 'O-r' Hearts

Bitter-sweet daze at Capital City Dance Center as the 2007 graduates of the CCDC Pre-Professional Program clear their lockers out for the last time and bid their final farewells. There were more than a few tears flowing quietly this last week as the girls/women begin the next big journey in their lives. Much as we'd like to keep them "forever young, forever loved" and always here, always safe with us, time marches on. Girls become women, boys to men. Kids grow-up to take on the world. Go quickly now and don't look back!o(Okay, I'm kidding about not looking back!o) Write to us! And, cya at Thanksgiving! And, don't be changing and going all bored and blase', worldly and wise on us all at once, 'k?

I'm NOT kidding about writing us! (Keeps me from making up all those questions for Ask The GoCCDancedoC!o) Here's some specific questions to get you started:

  • Who are you again? What was your name? What school are you going to? What classes are u taking? Howz that witness protection program working for ya?o)

  • Anything interesting happen? Howz your roomie? Where's he from? Howz the food? Did u get lost on campus? And, speaking of lost causes, howz ur social life?

  • Taking dance classes there? What specifically? What style and who's your teacher(s)? Their backgrounds?

  • What's the hardest thing to adjust to in your new dance classes? Do you feel well-prepared? What more could we do to better prepare our current CCDC students?

  • Are there good dancers in your classes? Anyone really pathetic? How do you compare? What adjustments, if any, are you making to your technique?

  • Have you been to any auditions yet? Any coming up?

  • How about performances? Anything coming up you're especially looking forward to? Anything we should come up and visit while catching the show? (Hint, hint!)

  • Do you miss CCDC at all??? Do you remember us at all??? What's my middle name???

8.20.2007: SYTYCDebate

Kudos to Sabra for winning SYTYCD Season III! As the judges kept saying, it's not "America's best dancer", but, "America's FAV dancer"! Because, clearly, the best dancer technically this year was Danny Tidwell and, last year, it was his step-brother, Travis Wall. (What are they teaching at that studio???) To me, having Danny compete in SYTYCD was like having Luciano Pavarotti entered in American Idol or the young Mikhail Baryshnikov in Dancing With The Stars. But, I can't really argue with either seasons' results since it's all personal favoritism, but, I would have liked to see Sabra win without the lobbying by Nigel Lythgoe for a "female winner" this year. The two-hour finale was chock-full of dancing, including my two personal favorites this season: Wade Robson's Hummingbird and Orchid and Mia Michaels tribute to her late father. I would've also liked to see Robson's Devil and Angel again. And, thanks to Nigel for settling my lingering question from last season: whatever happened to the one girl who was injured and promised a chance to return this season. Turns out she was busy...giving birth! Also, excellent decision to include more than the top ten finalists on the national tour. Gives audiences a chance to see a wider range of choreography and their favorite dancers, perhaps, not in the top ten. My only gripe is the nearest metro stop the tour is taking near here is like Chicago or Saint Louis. Oh, well! Only five months until Dancing With The Stars returns with Season IV!

8.20.2007: Arts Shorts

The Art Center’s newest exhibition, Sign Language, explores contemporary art inspired by the vernacular of signs in the urban landscape—billboards, neon signs, LED panels, and more will be on view August 24 through November 23, 2007. Spanning from Pop art to the present, Sign Language examines how artists personalize, subvert, and playfully modify the sign genre. Featured artists include Jean-Michel Basquiat, Ashley Bickerton, Robert Cottingham, Keith Haring, Jenny Holzer, Robert Indiana, Margaret Kilgallen, Barry McGee / Josh Lazcano, Michael C. McMillen, Bruce Nauman, Tim Noble & Sue Webster, Claes Oldenburg, Julian Opie, Rigo 23, Kay Rosen and James Rosenquist.

8.17.2007: Impressive Impressions!

Excerpt from e-mail from Capital City Dance Center Guest Instructor Karina Lheozcky:
"...Congratulations on the impressive job you have done with your students. I know it is not easy..."

8.17.2007: Overheard in CCDC "SIS" Classes!

"Don't just turn out to turn. Turn out to RETURN! Toes beat heels back to fifth from the front. Seat beats heels beats toes back to fifth from the rear. To the side is a combination of front and back!"

"The old saying is 'speed kills'. But, I'm here to tell you 'lack of speed kills...careers'. Make sure you can do everything faster than you like to go."

"Faster than you like to go. Slower than you like to go. Bigger, cleaner, higher, farther, faster...it's not just the Olympic credo anymore! And, hang on to that turn-out!"

"Don't waste your waist! Once you start class, you should never let your middle go or your placement slip. You never know when a judge or auditioner is looking at you when you try out. Practice perennial perfect placement . Plus, it just makes you dance better! It's such a fragile flower. Think placement and turn-out first!"

"Find that deep, fundamental placement. Place the bones and strengthen the muscles. Don't practice using the muscles in spite of the bones. Stack everything straight on top of each other!"

"Don't show me that junk in your trunk! Don't show me what you had for dinner! Show me a dancer's body under control!"

"Whenever you fall, that's gravity's way of telling you you're not on balance. Are you listening? Are you learning?"

"FIGHT for the ending. Don't just peter out! You have to make constant corrections all the way through the ending of your turns and balances. Demonstrate your control before, during and after!"

"But, also, don't get so caught up in the technical demands that you lose sight of the absolute joy of dancing! Work placement AND performance!"

8.16.2007: HomeSYTretYChD!

Well, the end is in sight for Season III of So You Think You Can Dance!. And, so far, the end game's playing out as predicted: Danny, Neil, Sabra and Lacey making the final four. And, I've already given up trying not to learn the results before I can time-shift the grand finale'. Who do I think will win? Who do I think SHOULD win? Danny Tidwell's got my vote to be the last man dancing. The Kirov Academy product and veteran of ABT's studio company is coming out of his shell and doing what it takes to woo the fickle American voting public. And, Neil was a little shaky for the first time in his solo Monday night. (I always think he's shorter than he is because he has a gymnast's upper body development and also tends to let his shoulders ride up and hide his neck.) Sabra's still a little dynamo! And, Lacey's doing her best at trying to overcome her ballroom background. But, I don't think the women have what it takes to finish in the top two this year...again! (That makes Melody's second place finish in Season I all the more remarkable in context.) But, also, kudos for the producers for taking their choreographers to LA's inner city to teach the teachers. Hopefully, even though the show is going back into hibernation for another year (And, whatever happened to that girl who got injured last season and producer Nigel Lythgoe promised to bring back to Vegas?), dance won't disappear from these kids' consciousness in the ghetto. Get the kids dancing. Some will go on to perform, others will buy tickets, donate or raise funds. That's the plan. That's the way it's supposed to work. Unleash your inner dancer, America!

8.15.2007: It's Not F*N, Without U!

Anyone who didn't take Karina's dance workshop at Capital City Dance Center last night really missed out! She gave an upbeat, but, challenging ballet class and, then, a Modern class with a Horton twist and an African-Carribean based center combination to a Japanese Taiko band. Everyone had a lot of fun and learned a lot! Like she said, "Sometimes you hear the same corrections from someone else...and, all of a sudden, it all makes more sense!" And, another notable focus: "Your power comes from the floor! Don't ignore it!" Your last chance to take from Karina is tonight at CCDC!

8.14.2007: Audition Advice

Here's an excerpt from an e-mail from CCDC Young Children's Division Director Jill Andrews that might be informative for anyone thinking of auditioning for the Rockette's Christmas Spectacular. That audition will be held at Capital City Dance Center on September 24th:
"...I saw the Radio City Rockette Christmas Show last Christmas in Toronto. I enjoyed it a lot...This Clara had a ton of pizzazz, and it's a really fun role. The steps really didn't seem difficult - lots of balances, soutenu turns, bourees, arabesque sautes, pas de chats (all performed beautifully), and little jumps. There was fun partnering with Godpapa Drosselmeyer like you would expect. She was definitely an actress. There was maybe a double pirouette partnered with the Nutcracker Prince. There was maybe a partnered fish pose at the very end (if I'm remembering correctly). It is a really fun show though...."

8.13.2007: Three Dotage

We came close to losing Sleeping Cutie over the weekend! (And, that would've been grim, brothers/sisters!o) She was one of the few students invited to stay for the fall at the Kirov Academy of Washington DC after attending the summer session there. But, after agonizing over the decision with her family, friends and teachers the last few daze, she's decided to stay and train at Capital City Dance Center! While it's true that the Kirov offers advantages that CCDC can't match, it's also true that small class sizes and personal attention and concern can trump attending a national institution...It's also true that Margaruite de Armaund was not invited to stay for the fall, but, she indicated to them early on she wasn't interested and took herself out of the running...Katerina Ballerina de Wootang has been placed in the highest level at the ABT California summer session. She says she met a lot of dancers who knew our Sleeping Cutie and Margaruite from the Kirov session...Here's something I've wanted to ask everyone who went away for the summer: What do you know now that you wished you knew before you left? I did ask GitUrFaShawn after he came back from SAB. He says he should've been more "aggressive". Standing in the front and center. Showing off a bit more. (Duh! He was in NEW YORK! The capital city of aggression!) Keep that in mind, you younger students contemplating summer study elsewhere. I'll keep asking the others...Another question is: what was the hardest dance thing to adjust to when you went away? You can e-mail me some answers...or just catch me before or after class! ...GitUrFaShawn mentioned the lack of using the head in the Balanchine style at the barre and that straight back leg in en d'or pirouettes also takes a little getting used to...Don't forget the workshops with Karina tomorrow and Wednesday. She used to train with Melissa at the Des Moines Ballet School and was an apprentice when I was in the company. Despite that, she went on to a professional career. So, it is possible to be from here, train here and be competitive as a professional dancer. You don't have to go away. I'm sure she'll be glad to answer any questions students might have about how to follow in her footsteps...The final week of SYTYCD begins tonight on Fox. I always ask my TV watching companion two questions after we watch the replay: who do you think will be voted off? And, who do you think SHOULD be voted off?...So far, Missy's batting near a thousand! I'll repeat what I've been saying since early in the season: Danny and Neil deserve to be the last two standing. I think Lauren has danced her swan song tonight. And, as much as I enjoy Sabra and Lacey, I think the men are outstanding...again! Last year, Travis was technically the superior dancer, but, Benji was much more likable and appealing. But, if I was the director of Complexions Dance Company or Dance Theater of Harlem, I'd be on the phone with an offer to Sabra before someone else snatches her up...And, the contestants have to breathe a sigh of relief whenever they draw "contemporary" and Mia Michaels as choreographer. Her tribute to her late father last week was one of the most moving moments of dance I've ever seen on television. On par with her Sunflower duet which got her an Emmy nomination for last season. Can't wait to see who wins season III! Which reminds me, I'll have to check out the SYTYCD concert tour schedule for anyplace close. But, despite all my hint-dropping and string-pulling, I can't seem to influence any local venue to even make a pitch to bring the tour to the Capital City area! Sell-out 4 sure!

8.3.2007: Workshops Coming!

Dance workshops coming to Capital City Dance Center with:

Karina S. Lehoczky received her classical training at Ballet Iowa (formerly Des Moines Ballet) with Martha Faesi and Kennet Oberly, specializing in the Bournonville technique, and Milwaukee Ballet with Basil Thompson. She went on to perform corps through principal roles with Ballet Iowa, Milwaukee Ballet, Wisconsin Ballet Theatre, Lexington Ballet, Illinois Ballet and Ballet Arkansas. She has performed roles such as the Blue Bird pas de deux in Sleeping Beauty, Cygnets and Neopolitan in Swan Lake, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, and Spring Fairy in Cinderella to name a few. Karina has danced professionally with the following modern companies: Milwaukee Dance Theatre, Oure Danse Kompagni of Denmark and Rosalind Newman Dancers of New York. Other accomplishments include guest artist with the Flourentine Opera and performing theatrical ballroom exhibitions with the East Towne Ballroom in Milwaukee and Chicago Dance. Karina has been teaching dance for 13 years in Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Kentucky, Vermont and throughout central Arkansas. She is currently teaching beginning through preprofessional ballet and modern dance at Shuffles and Ballet II, the official school of Ballet Arkansas.

Tuesday August 14th
6-7:30 Ballet 4
7:45-8:45 Modern 4/5/6

Wednesday August 15th
6-7:30 Ballet 5/6
7:30-8:30 Pointe 5/6

8.2.2007: "Ask the CCDancedoC" Naming Names!

Dear CCDancedoC: I read what you said about "food being fuel" for a dancer's instrument. So, I'm trying to eat healthy. But, I'm on the run all the time and can't always cook for myself the way I should. Got any tips for finding "healthy" fast food?---Hungry, Busy Dancer

Dear Emaciated Etoile, I'm not sure where you're writing from so some of these suggestions may be out of the way for you, but, the principle's the thing.

First, yes! "Healthy" and "fast food" do not have to be mutually contradictory terms. I'm chowing down now on a veggie sub from Planet Sub. I dropped by this morning and ordered a tempeh sub and a Planet Veggie sub, hold the cheese and substitute guacamole'. (Be careful when ordering guacamole' most places. Sometimes there's very little real avocado and a ton of vegetable oil instead. So, I asked. And, Planet Sub says they make their own. The bread is also a fresh-baked, whole-wheat blend.)

National chains like Subway and, even, Quiznos have heart healthy selections that taste good. Blimpies used to have a veggie loaf, but, that's been discontinued. I also like the Mediterranean Veggie sandwich at Panera on their fresh-baked whole-grain bread. Pair that with a cup or bowl of vegetable soup and you have quite a meal! I usually get their whole-grain baguette or bagel as a side.

I also like to head to Z'mariks and Panchero's! Both have locations convenient to CCDC. The brown rice bowls at Z'Mariks have enough variety for any palate. I really like their Greek Salad as well. They also offer soups (Watch out for the cream-based!) and multi-grain pasta bowls. But, still haven't forgiven them for phasing out their barley soup from the menu! Panchero's big burritos will fill you up with good nourishing nutrition and fuel!

You also might check out Jason's Deli, if there's one near you. I like their Spinach Wrap and vegetable soup. Their all-you-can-eat salad bar and soup's quite a good deal. I used to order the soup to go and stuffed myself with spinach and all the fixin's to get two meals for the price of one. Just one of the tricks of the trade for a starving artist! I hear the Philly Chick Wrap's good, too! Just don't indulge in their free ice-cream, crackers, croutons, garlic bread and trail mix offer too often! As always, ask yourself, "Do I eat to live? Or, do I live to eat?"

If you look around at most fast-food joints nowadays, you'll find a pamphlet with a nutritional breakdown. Take a look at that and use it as a guide. If enough of us vote with our feet and fast-food dollars, small and big businesses will respond and start offering more healthier options!

7.30.2007: Ballet's Big Bane

We were asked to write a letter recently on behalf of a Capital City Dance Center PreProfessional student who's attempting to get a waiver from the Health and Physical Education requirement at her school. This is what I wrote: (And, any other CCDC PrePro parent in a similar situation can use this letter by filling in the blanks. Let me know what else I can do!)
To Whom It May Concern:

Asking ____ and other Capital City Dance Center PreProfessional Ballet students to take Physical Education is like asking Pan American Gold Medal winning gymnast Shawn Johnson to run laps to make sure she fulfills a health requirement! It's also counter-productive to _____'s dance aspirations. It's like hooking up a thoroughbred race horse like Man 'o' War or Seattle Slew to a draft plow to make sure he's "in shape".

Running long or sprinting short distances (especially on concrete surfaces) tends to over-develop the quadriceps and places too much of the wrong stress on knees and ankle joints for most dancers. We admit that cardiovascular aerobic cross-training has a benefit for serious dance students, but, a one-size-fits-all physical requirement ignores the specialized requirements of kids training to become professional-level ballet or modern dancers.

____'s enrolled in a dance program at Capital City Dance Center that will put her in a minimum of 9-hours of ballet and pointe classes, five-to-six days a week this coming school year. That doesn't include any Jazz, Modern, Tap, Lyrical, Highland, Pilates/Yoga or HipHop classes she might choose to enroll in to supplement her classical dance training. That also doesn't include any Nutcracker or other CCDC Ballet production rehearsals she may be involved in during the 2007-2008 school year. I think she'll need more rest time than more physical demands!

It's true that not all local dance studios hold their students to the highest physical standards. But, all Capital City Dance Center PreProfessional classes are taught by former professional dancers or graduates of respected collegiate dance programs. Our dance students are held to the highest professional and preprofessional standards. CCDC students have been accepted to national summer dance programs on a consistent basis, many with scholarships. In fact, a current high-school football player took ballet class with us recently and, during the warm-up, told us "that's so hard!" when comparing it to his team drills!

One of Capital City Dance Center's mission statements is to "encourage a lifelong involvement with the art of dance at all levels". So, if we do our jobs properly, ____ will continue training, performing and dancing for the rest of her life. As a result, she should enjoy a lifelong commitment to health and fitness starting at a young age. Isn't that the ultimate goal of HPE as well?

In summary, while mandatory HPE requirements are a well-intentioned attempt to deal with the growing national youth obesity epidemic, it's a solution in search of a problem in _____'s case. I invite any policy-maker to watch or, better yet!, to participate in a CCDC PreProfessional Class if they have any doubts about any of our previous statements!

If you have any further questions, visit our website at GoCCDC.Com or do not hesitate to contact me:

Emery Uyehara
Ballet Instructor/Choreographer
Capital City Dance Center
Emery@GoCCDC.Com
Sincerely,
Emery Uyehara

7.28.2007: SYTYCupDate

So, now, I feel like I can finally seperate the contenders from the pretenders on this season of SYTYCD. I think Neil and Danny are the boyz to beat this year. And, Sabra and Lacey should be the last two girlz standing. I think Kameron was punished by the American public for his non-standard hairstyle this last week. I predict that Dominic and Pasha will soon follow him off-stage. I was really surprised when Sara wasn't in the bottom four. I liked her disco piece with Neil, but, I think Laura is a more complete dancer. There's something eminently likable about her, but, I'm not sure the voting public agrees with me. But, it seems to be shaping up to me to be another male winner this year. I think if Danny keeps from pulling a Blake McGrath (from Season One) and keeps away from alienating the viewers, he'll be the last one left standing. Very interesting this past week to watch all the top ten and their interpretations of the same Wade Robson solo choreography. And, as always, I always listen closely to Mia Michaels' comments. This past week, she picked Sabra as her "favorite dancer" and she says she looks forward to really "turning her loose" in the future. And, high praise for Danny with the "you could be one for the books...the history books!" I wonder how much of Danny's troubled past intrudes on his present pursuits as far as the constant judges' comments to "let go" and "let us in". Still...what an amazing dancer! His turns and jumps are endless!

7.26.2007: Rockettes R Rollin'!

Capital City Dance Center will be the site for the Rockette's audition search for a Clara in September. CCDC has arranged to submit questions to choreographer Michael Donaghy who'll be coming to town to conduct the audition. If you're planning on attending that audition, what would you want to ask him before he gets here? The following list is just off the top of my head:
  • What are you looking for most when you cast for Clara?
  • How hard and fast is that 4'11" or shorter requirement? What if I'm 4'11 1/4"?
  • What's your best advice for girls planning to audition? What's the most common mistake you see?
  • When you say "must be strong en pointe", what do you mean? How many years of training en pointe would you prefer?
  • What sort of specific pointe technique should we be able to execute? Bourre's? Pas de Courus? Pique turns? Penche' arabesques en pointe? Fouette' turns?
  • How much pas de deux, partnering or lift experience do you expect?
  • How much does performance quality, experience or personality play in your casting decision?
  • If you had to choose between a strong performer with weak technique versus a weak performer with strong technique, which way would you go?
  • What should we expect to do at the audition?

7.26.2007: Sharing is Caring

Capital City Dance Center Alum Jessie G updates us on her life post-CCDC:
"...I know this is incredibly late, but since I did not get a chance to see you at the recital I wanted to tell you how great it was. As always, I loved all of the choreography and I loved watching the girls perform.

I hope you're having a great summer, though I'm sure it has been busy as usual.

Summer has been pretty busy for me. I work full time at my internship which I love. Not sure if you heard, but Elizabeth and Catherine came to visit me...I enjoyed showing them my life out here, and I loved having them around for 3 straight days.

Send my love to everyone, congratulate them on a great show, and tell them I miss them!!

~Jessie"

7.25.2007: More from Margaruite!

Their time away is drawing to a close. Margaruite de Armaund delivers this update:
"...It is Wednesday and we are half-way done with our last week....ahh! Mixed feelings about leaving...I'm so excited to dance at the studio again, but i will miss everyone here so much and wish we didn't live scattered across the whole country! I guess that's the way it goes with summer programs, yeah? Anyways, classes are going very well. We have our demo class learned...actually we have been doing it for the past week and a half (kind of repetitive) and now we are working on transitions between combinations (which can get pretty tricky!) We did a run through yesterday and the whole class, pointe included, takes about an hour! No kidding...it goes so fast! We have about three minutes to change our pointe shoes, but otherwise we just run through everything. She gives a couple of corrections, but doesn't really take time for us to try things out or explain things. We still have rehearsal, however, for about an hour and a half...which is nice because you can practice in the back instead of waiting off to the side. Rehearsals are going very well! We get a little bit of basic corps work, but we also get individual variations for the Don Q piece.

All the other classes are going well, also. I've finally gotten the hang of the spanish piece, and the style is really neat...our teacher doesn't count along with the music very well so she uses sound effects instead...we manage. Contemporary is...contemporary. I dont really know how to describe it...very fast and sharp with a lot of isolations and running positions. I have a feeling Hanna would get a good laugh if I showed it to her in the studio! He's having us wear crazy dramatic eye make-up and black lipstick for the performance! ahh! Thank goodness it is on Sunday...after our ballet demo! I really like the character class. Our instructor is very strict, is prone to yelling, and doesn't speak very much english, but whatever he says about corrections makes a lot of sense. We dance with scarves, and we have a variety of character steps...the music covers slow movements and fast movements.

I have special topic in a couple of minutes...we have had "the physics of ballet," and "the chemistry of ballet," in that class...i wonder what it will be today?? We got back from Doug Varone and dancers pretty late last night. Alyssa would have absolutely loved the show...I'm not sure what type of modern it was, but it was a lot of release and throwing your body across the stage...pretty incredible how they moved their arms! It was all fast-paced and crazy, but there were moments throughout the pieces when everyone moved together...and it was cool because even the walking and running was done at the same time..."

7.24.2007: Sleeping Cutie Chex In!

Sleepy Cutie sounds like she's having a blast!:
"Hey everyone!

This is my last week at Kirov Academy! I am going to be really sad to leave, but I'm ready to come home and see you all. Session 2 is going very well. We have a couple of new classes: Ballet history, which is interesting but not as good as watching ballet and career guidance, and contemporary. My level is doing a jazz dance in contemporary that's a little... seductive. It's really fun though because the teacher is so funny. He's russian too, but nothing like the other russian teachers. He told us to tell our moms that we had to go clubbing twice a week for homework. For Spanish we're doing the scarf dance, which I learned last year. But it's a lot more fun than the dance Maggie's doing, which I learned last session. For character we're doing an oriental dance, which is a lot of fun, especially because I've never done that style before. The teacher, Mr. Djoulokhadze is really scary though, and he yells a lot. Nutrition is horrible as usual - in the last class, the teacher had us color pictures of fruits and vegetables as she read to us a bunch of scientific facts out of a book. I don't think she even knew what she was reading about. All the other classes are really fun, except pilates, which makes me want to curl up and die.

Ballet is going well, too. I'm getting quite a bit of attention now, which is very good. I get some corrections, but sometimes Morkovina just says "Sarah Sarah Sarah Sarah Sarah Sarah Sarah" and I don't really know what she wants. My variation is really fun, but there's a really hard part in the middle - chasses on pointe going backwards! That means held arches! Probably the hardest step I've ever done. And then I have to do this flicking movement with my hands and move my arms and cambre back while doing those backwards chasses on pointe. But the rest of the variation is going very well for me even though it's not the type of variation I would usually do. This one is faster, and I have to be very forceful and sharp. I usually get to do it about twice in rehearsal, and Morkovina seems pleased with me because she always says 'Better Sarah' and 'good girl' when I rehearse.

Not only is the ballet style here different, but the fashion is too. We all have to wear ribbons on our ballet shoes. I really like it because 1) it looks cool, and 2) It makes it a lot harder to go on releve, so it makes your ankles stronger. And you know how everyone at ccdc pulls the bottom of their leotard down constantly? Well everyone here hikes their leotard up around their hipbones. I think higher cut leotards look really good because it makes your legs look really long. However the dress code is the same - black leotards and pink tights. Except we all have to wear a number every single day. My number is 113.

I have gotten really close to a lot of people here, especially my amazing roommate Hannah. I am so glad we got put together, because we get along so well. We aren't sick of each other at all! It's getting hard to live with the same people 24/7 though. There is starting to be a lot of drama now, ...There are a ton of crazy rumours flying around, too. Life here gets pretty crazy, especially after seeing the same people nonstop for 6 weeks. But my roommate and I are trying to stay out of it all.

Besides the drama, everything here is going fantastic! This is definitely the best summer program I have been to so far. I love the dance, the city, and my friends. We get to go basically anywhere we want on the metro every night, and it's really nice to have that much freedom. I have been pretty much everywhere in DC. Tonight we're going to wolftrap (an outdoor theater) to see Doug Varrone. And right now I have a fieldtrip to the Natural History museum to see an Imax about sharks, so I had better go! I'll see you in just a few days!

Sarah..."

7.23.2007: Messages from Margaruite de Armaund!

Excerpts from a recent series of e-mails:
"...I had spanish the other day...and thank goodness for tap! Otherwise, i would have been totally lost! she gave us the combination that the session I students had been learning for three weeks and it was insanely fast! We have it again today...so hopefully we will slow down and learn some of the basic positions and things first. I have been making a bunch of friends...all of the girls here are really nice..."

"...I miss Kim's pilates class...She was much more detailed and explained the things we were doing...which our pilates instructor doesn't..."

"...We finally started our variations yesterday! Actually, we had to learn them form a videotape over the weekend so we could take less time during class learning them. The main thing we are doing is the entre (?) from Don Quixote. I'm doing a section of it with another girl who comes here year round. She hasn't been in class...so I don't know very much about her. It's one of the bigger jumping sections and it's fun to do, but it takes a lot of coordination! We are also learning a variation from Giselle (I don't think it was in an act that we did a couple years ago because it isn't familiar), the Esmerelda variation, and a La Corsaire variation (the one with releve arabesque into pirouette en d'or from the corner). I love the Corsaire variation because it starts with big assembles and attitude balances, but it ends with a bunch of turns. I also really like the Giselle variation, but a bunch of girls from session I are doing the extra variations, so I'm just learning them in the back while they rehearse..."

"...All of the corrections have been upper body and coordination corrections...She wants me to show the out on jetes with my arms and keep a lower arm in second while at the barre. One of my friends name is Becky and she had the longest limbs i have ever seen! She is 5'10" and she has the most beautiful line in penche...ill have to get a picture for you!..."

"...One of the Japanese girls is doing the Le (la?) Corsaire variation and she can do the most amazing pirouettes on the right side...five or six at a time!..."

"...Character is going pretty well...I get to do a little part within the dance with another girl and a have to show you a funny step that took me forever to get! I love spanish...but i wish I knew more of the technique so it wouldn't seem so foreign. Our ballet history teacher reminds me so much of professor newsome that it's ridiculous! Even the way he gives fact after fact while we are trying to watch variations on the video! It's so funny!..."

"...I'm finally getting used to the ballet classes and feeling more comfortable with everything. It's hard becasue we do a twenty minute barre, but the long center work makes up for it! Rehearsals are going well, also. I'm learning all of them in the back and I really love the La Corsaire variation! It's really difficult (a lot of turning), but it's very exciting and fun to dance. We had the photo shoot on Saturday...hopefully it went well but we haven't got the pictures back yet :) It was super fast compared to when we take pictures at home and the floor was really slippery, but it was a neat experience. The weather here is absolutely gorgeous...not the regular hot and humid D.C. weather. I've been going to a public pool with a couple of girls that's only a few metro stops away. Oh yeah! I forgot...tomorrow we are taking a field trip to Wolf trap to watch Doug Varone and dancers. It is a modern company, so no ballet pieces :( , but I'm still excited to see a performance..."

7.23.2007: So Did Ya Hear It On The Radio?

Did you catch the Public Radio report on SYTYCD this morning? If you didn't, you can hook up the rewind at NPR.Org

...And, here's some advice for the guys left on SYTYCD. If you're in the bottom three with Danny and Neal, get ready to say your good-byes because the judges aren't going to sacrifice either of those two to save your sorry behind! The latest to fall victim to the double-whammy was hip-hopper Hok who said "sayonara" on last week's results show. But, what was really poignant were the closing credits. Just when the other contestants were crowding in on Hok and Anya for the "kiss and cry", Hok broke out of the crowd and started free-stylin' solo on the stage. It was as if he were telling the nation, "don't cry for me, America!" The message was clear, he's going to keep on dancing with or without the TV show, with or without the national tour! And, I think the producers are missing a HUGE bet if they don't get Hok and the rest of his B-Boy crew (including Ryan from Season One) to perform on the tour. Hok as the "hummingbird" in the Wade Robson piece was spectacular! And, here's a message to the producers in the area, if you bring the SYTYCD concert tour to the Civic Center, I can just about guarantee it'll sell out!

7.20.2007: eMelissage

This just in from Melissa:
"...I'm getting lots of emails now asking about videos.

If you have questions about your recital video, please call...

Stove Digital
515-981-4217 or 1-800-287-4217..."

7.20.2007: Web Lynx Struts Its Stuff

It takes more than a tiara and a tutu:
"...But being a princess isn't easy. In addition to the technical feats, (Michele) Wiles said it is a challenge portraying the metamorphosis from 'joyful adolescent' into 'mature princess'..."

Retrace the path from the Daily Pilot.


Apparently, you can dance at home again:
"...I never dreamt it would ever be possible and I know audiences here expect a lot, but I'm just happy my parents will get to see me dance professionally here at home..."

Read the rest from The Age.


Up close and personal with one of the stars of the NYCB:
"...I realized that we aren’t on this earth very long. We don’t know when it ’s going to be taken away from us; I don’t know how long I can dance - so why am I being so hard on myself? It ’s okay if I fall out of a step or lose a balance..."

Read the whole thing from the Post Star .


7.20.2007: Remind U of Dance Class?

(Courtesy Newswise) — Taking a break in the middle of your workout may metabolize more fat than exercising without stopping, according to a recent study in Japan. Researchers conducted the first known study to compare these two exercise methods—exercising continually in one long bout versus breaking up the same workout with a rest period. The findings could change the way we approach exercise.

“Many people believe prolonged exercise will be optimal in order to reduce body fat, but our study has shown that repetitions of shorter exercise may cause enhancements of fat mobilization and utilization during and after the exercise. These findings will be informative about the design of [future] exercise regimens,” said lead researcher Kazushige Goto, Ph.D. “Most people are reluctant to perform a single bout of prolonged exercise. The repeated exercise with shorter bouts of exercise will be a great help [in keeping up with fitness].”

This finding is part of a study entitled Enhancement of fat metabolism by repeated bouts of moderate endurance exercise, found in the June 2007 edition of the Journal of Applied Physiology.

Conclusions

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends moderate exercise for the duration of 45 to 60 minutes to ensure a sufficient amount of energy is depleted in obese individuals. This has caused a greater focus on extending exercise sessions in order to burn more fat. However, this study shows that this method may not be the most effective way to enhance fat metabolism, as splitting up a long bout of exercise with a rest period burns more fat than a continuous bout of exercise. This study could help with the practical application of implementing new exercise methods in order to better manage and control weight in individuals in the future. However, Goto and his team of researchers plan on conducting further studies in order to explore the results in a variety of exercise durations as well as in different types of individuals.

7.18.2007: Where's Waldo?

Here's an explanation for you weary, bleary-eyed fans of GitUrFaShawn and why he was MIA on GMA this morning:
"...Hey. We ended up not going to CBS. We woke up early and walked a few blocks in the pouring rain before the chaperones that were with us decided that they wouldn't have cameras outside due to the weather. So, I wasn't on TV. The chaperones said they would call to see if we could go another time..."

7.18.2007: The Entire Interview Uncut

Frightening moment this morning when I opened the daily rag and saw what looked like a ghastly picture of a black-clad dementor writhing in agony. But, on closer inspection, it turned out to be a picture of me teaching class in the You Should Get To Know... section of the morning paper! I was a little disappointed in the editing job of my answers to their questions in print. (The on-line edition has the full answers.) But, I work in the media, so, I guess turnabout's fair play. You be the judge. Here's the complete Q+A if you haven't seen them:
Name:
Emery Uyehara

Occupation:
Instructor/co-owner Capital City Dance Center, Urbandale

Background:
Former dancer Ballet Iowa/Des Moines Ballet, Duluth Ballet, Svalander Dance Theater, Ballet Hawaii, Hawaii State Ballet, Third Wave Dance Theater, Hawaii Ballet Theater. Former instructor Okinawa Judo Dojo, Huk Hu Gung Fu. Former assistant wrestling coach, Kalani High School.

Notable achievements:
Choreographed for City Ballet Theater of Milwaukee, Iowa Dance Theatre and Waikiki Acrobats. Taught myself enough HTML to update content on GoCCDC.Com website/ballet blog.

Why I do what I do:
Dance is the one activity that combines movement with music in a way that connects the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Sharing that with our students at Capital City Dance Center is a way to pass on what was entrusted to me.

What I do to get away from work:
Love biking to downtown events!

Words to live by:
I tell my students when they begin the CCDC PreProfessional program: “It’s far, far better to fall short of attempting excellence than it is to succeed at settling for mediocrity.” While they’re in the program, I tell them “The greatest barrier to excellence is being good at something.” When they graduate from the program, I tell them “Life is about learning. The lesson is love.”

One thing I would change about the Metro area:
More of an educated, informed and supportive audience for the performing arts. Second choice: Dedicated bike-only paths or trails that are a practical alternative to the automobile.

What the state can do to attract more people like me:
More support for the performing arts. Perhaps a state-supported high school and middle school for the performing arts drawing from the entire state and region like the North Carolina School of the Arts or the Fame high school in NYC. An affordable medium-sized venue for the performing arts in the metro area. An annual statewide or regional choreography competition and performance concert series with a significant cash prize. More health-food and healthy lifestyle oriented outlets. The return of a real full-time professional ballet company based in the metro.

My mentor:
My ballet instructor Nolan Dingman who not only taught me technique and how to perform, but, how to teach others what he taught me.

My teaching philosophy:
Positive reinforcement of correct dance technique that allows for growth towards greatest artistic self-expression.

7.18.2007: Even Mo Media Mentions

Can't turn on the tube anymore nowadays without catching CCDC's Li'L Miss MediaCom! HipHop Teacher Kourtney H moonlights as an actor. And, she's prominently featured in the latest MediaCom television ad campaign! She dances! She acts! She models! She teaches! She's a quadruple-threat!

Savion Glover and Miami City Ballet coming to the Gallagher Bluedorn. Hmmm...can anyone say "road trip"? Moscow City Ballet also coming to Cedar Falls. Hmmm... can anyone (Insert collective yawn here)? Romeo and Juliet coming to Stephens Auditorium. It doesn't say, but, I'm guessing it's not the ballet to Serge Prokofiev's luminous score. Take a note, kids! R+J is also a play! Who knew?

Haven't written much about SYTYCD this season. It takes a while to bond with the new cast of characters. If you haven't read the article on Danny T, check out his impressive resume on an earlier edition of "Web Lynx". And, normally on SYTYCD, the younger dancers get eliminated first. And, true to form, another 18-year old female contestant got the boot last week. Even though, ballroom dancer Anya looked lost without a partner. Also, that Neal turned in an impressive performance in a distinctive piece by choreographer Wade Robson. And, it's not just the dancers, dancing and performance that's being judged on the show. But, also, how the choreographers are able to best utilize their dancers to entertain the voting public. (So, kudos to Hip Hop Choreographer Shane Sparks for stretching the boundaries of his dance form) If you watch it this week, don't spoil it for the guys who are too busy to watch it when it actually airs. Talk to me about the show after Friday. Maybe, after Saturday.

Making The Band IV on MTV is maybe-see TV for me. Once again it chronicles, Sean Combs putting on his producer hat and trying to put together the pieces of a new all-male singing group. (What Danita Kane not selling enough downloads for you? How soon before that group follows the path to oblivion blazed by Eden's Crush, Harlemm Lee and O-Town?) Last episode, P Diddy wasn't satisfied with his original group of qualifiers, so, he sent his A-Team out to get more talent. There was an epic, epic sing-off. But, his point was the brutal dog-eat-dog nature of show-biz. Don't look back. Something might be gaining on you!

And, finally, CCDC student Katie M tells me she just filmed a bit part in a promotional video for the Great Ape Trust, a primate research facility southeast of the metro. No, she's not the latest research subject for the scientists. She and her brother actually play local students visiting the facility. Talk about your type-casting! (And, is it just me? Everytime I visit the Great Ape Trust, I get flashbacks of Jurassic Park. Maybe it's the SUV, maybe it's the tight security...okay, maybe it's just me!)

7.17.2007: Media Mentions

Here's a heads-up from GitUrFaShawn in the Big Apple:
"...Hello, again!

Today (July 17), the SAB Resident Life people secured spots on the street for tomorrow's Morning Show! We were given next to no warning (there were signs posted at noon and the show is tomorrow). So, on July, 18 (tomorrow) watch CBS at whatever time the Morning Show is on to see a handful of SAB kids on the street...

including me..."

(Courtesy Newswise) — With the number of Americans overweight and obese at an all-time high, the diet choices of young people are of concern, especially as they prepare to leave home for the first time in the fall and fend for themselves at college.

College is a time of tremendous change in lifestyles and routines, so it can be difficult for students to establish or maintain healthy eating habits. In some cases, tight time schedules, limited budgets and other influences can lead to weight problems. And patterns of gradual weight gain over the course of college can trigger health problems well beyond your college years.

Women should pay close attention to this issue because obesity affects women, especially young women, more often than men and overweight women are more likely to suffer other health problems or experience a lower quality of life than their male counterparts.

Not only is there a greater social stigma associated with being overweight for women, there are unique health concerns for obese women. Obese women are at greater risk of early menses and late menopause. These are two known risk factors for breast cancer.

Obesity in women has also been linked to fertility problems, polycystic ovary syndrome, a condition in which cysts in the ovary interfere with normal ovulation and menstruation, and complicated pregnancies.

Women and men both face increased risks of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease increases with added body weight.

Since obesity is a controllable risk factor for disease, it is important to initiate healthy eating habits when children are young, so that they can continue making good food choices when they are off on their own.

The college cafeteria isn’t usually a bastion of healthy food options. But there are creative ways to stay healthy amidst the 2 a.m. pizza run and late-night study breaks.

Here are a few helpful hints:

  • Create time for meals. One of the most common obstacles to eating well in college is the lack of time. Many students skip meals in favor of high-calorie, low-nutrition snacks. Avoid this trend by setting aside time to eat three meals a day. If you must eat on the go, buy a smoothie or protein bar; something that has nutritional value and will fill you up.
  • Exercise portion control. Another major obstacle to eating well is buffet-style dining. Students often do not realize that they’ve consumed more than one dinner after returning to the buffet several times. Remember, one dinner plate should suffice and avoid the dessert tray.
  • If you must snack, choose healthy snacks. Snacking can be okay as long as you’re making healthy choices. Unfortunately, it’s not so easy with take-out menus constantly slid under dorm room doors and vending machines around every corner. Keep healthy snacks—such as fruit, graham crackers, baked chips, low-fat yogurt—in your room or refrigerator.

Although obstacles exist to maintaining a healthy lifestyle when away at school, it is important that all young people recognize the health risks of being overweight or obese. In addition to eating well, getting regular exercise can help reduce the chances of being overweight and obese. So if you’re headed off to college in the fall, make sure you include a good diet and fitness plan, along with your dorm room items and books!


(Courtesy Newswise) — Women who get most of their daily calcium from food have healthier bones than women whose calcium comes mainly from supplemental tablets, say researchers at Washington University School of Medicine. Surprisingly, this is true even though the supplement takers have higher average calcium intake.

Adequate calcium is important to prevent osteoporosis, which affects an estimated 8 million American women and 2 million American men. Another 34 million Americans have low bone mass, placing them at increased risk for osteoporosis. Calcium consumption can help maintain bone density by preventing the body from stealing the calcium it needs from the bones.

The researchers' conclusions about calcium intake, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, came from a study of 183 postmenopausal women. The researchers asked the women to meticulously detail their diet and their calcium supplement intake for a week. "We assumed that this sample represented each woman's typical diet," says senior author Reina Armamento-Villareal, M.D.. "In addition to analyzing the volunteers' daily calcium intake, we tested bone mineral density and urinary concentrations of estrogen metabolites."

The researchers found that the women could be divided into three groups: one group, called the "supplement group," got at least 70 percent of their daily calcium from tablets or pills; another, the "diet group," got at least 70 percent of their calcium from dairy products and other foods; and a third, the "diet plus supplement group," consisted of those whose calcium-source percentages fell somewhere in between these ranges.

The "diet group" took in the least calcium, an average of 830 milligrams per day. Yet this group had higher bone density in their spines and hipbones than women in the "supplement group," who consumed about 1,030 milligrams per day. Women in the "diet plus supplement group" tended to have the highest bone mineral density as well as the highest calcium intake at 1,620 milligrams per day.

The hormone estrogen is known to maintain bone mineral density. But the standard form of estrogen is broken down or metabolized in the liver to other forms - some active and some inactive. Urinalysis showed that women in the "diet group" and the "diet plus supplement group" had a higher ratio of active to inactive estrogen metabolites than women in the "supplement group."

"This suggests that dietary calcium is associated with a shift in estrogen metabolism that favors production of active forms of estrogen," says Armamento-Villareal. "Although we're not yet certain what underlies this effect, it could be that nutrients other than calcium cause this shift. It's also known that dairy products, which are a major source of calcium, can contain active estrogenic compounds, and these can influence bone density and the amount of estrogenic metabolites in the urine."

Calcium supplements differ in how well their calcium can be absorbed, and this also could play a role in the study's findings, according to its authors. For example, calcium carbonate tablets need to be taken with a meal so that stomach acid can facilitate absorption, but calcium citrate tablets don't have this limitation. If the study participants taking calcium carbonate weren't conscientious about the timing of their supplements, they might not have received the highest benefit from them.

"Only about 35 percent of the calcium in most supplements ends up being absorbed by the body," Armamento-Villareal says. "Calcium from the diet is generally better absorbed, and this could be another reason that women who got a high percentage of calcium in their food had higher bone densities."

Although dairy foods are excellent sources of calcium, Armamento-Villareal suggests that individuals with dairy sensitivities could consume other calcium-rich food sources such as calcium-fortified orange juice. Dark green leafy vegetables also contain calcium, but it is not as readily absorbed as calcium from dairy sources.


(Courtesy Newswise) — Closing the eyes is the simplest way for changing your state of mind, possibly by directing focus of attention inward to oneself. This has been long acknowledged by humans as reflected in ancient meditation methods as well as routine concentration and emotional acts. Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging was used to discern the neural correlates of variations in emotional experience induced by closing the eyes. Negative and neutral music clips were presented to subjects while their brains were scanned. Music was used in this study because of its unique nature of being a relatively abstract emotional signal in humans. It was assumed that closing the eyes will modify the individual experience with music by increasing self-oriented processing. Results revealed two separate neural networks for processing music in relation to the mental state induced by eye position. Listening to music with eyes closed relative to eyes open recruited stronger activation in central emotion-related regions such as the amygdala and connected prefrontal cortex brainstem nuclei. Moreover, selective effect to negativity of emotion in the music clips was observed in the amygdala only with eyes closed in correspondence to increased subjective arousal experience by individuals. Findings suggest that one's focus to self or the world engages different neural mechanism for processing emotional stimuli. Specifically, variations in subjective emotional experience that relate to enhanced self-oriented processing are mediated by the amygdala and its distributed connected regions. Future studies should explore the relevance of such differential brain processing of emotion for individually-tailored therapeutic approaches.

7.15.2007: More Message in an E-Bottle!

The Sleeping Cutie has news about The Sleeping Beauty! Here's an excerpt from an e-mail from the Kirov Academy Summer Session:
"...But I have really good news! Morkovina gave me a variation to do in the demonstration at the end! All I know is that it's a solo and it's from Sleeping Beauty. I'll let you know when I find out which one it is. About 8 girls got solos and 4 got duets, and then there's 12 girls in corps. But, everything is double cast so the parents are going to have to watch all the variations twice.

...I'm really happy here and I'm so glad I came to this program! I'm getting a lot stronger..."

7.15.2007: A Review

Watching Disney's High School Musical at The Playhouse can feel a little like a tourist stumbling onto a mass Sun Myung Moon wedding celebration! Like being the only non-believer at some occult cult worship ceremony! Okay, it's not quite as confusing as a newbie watching a Halloween showing of A Rocky Horror Picture Show, but, close enough! High School Musical is the the reincarnation of Grease meets Breakfast Club for a new 21st Century grade school generation. (That's what a friend told me after she watched the sneak preview. And, that's also in Director Ron Ziegler's program notes.) But, it's also an exuberant, well-done local celebration of a year-old, made-for-TV cultural phenomenom.

The Playhouse production is very well-cast with Sam (cute as a) Button-Harrison (Troy Bolton), Tiffany Flory (Gabriella Montez), Christie Burgess (Sharpay Evans) and Tony DiMeglio (Ryan Evans) born to play their lead roles. Button-Harrison and Flory, in particular have very strong chemistry on stage. Their solo vocals are a little pitchy and weak even with amplification, but, their harmony in duets is stronger. And, isn't that the message of unity (We're All In This Together) that Disney's trying to sell anyway? And, Burgess obviously relishes her drama queen role and looks a little like a Reese Witherspoon wanna-be in her new "legally blonde" look. (She's better here and more appropriately cast than as Ariel in Footloose.)

It's a young cast with nearly half making their Playhouse debuts. But, the few adult roles are also very well-done. Veronica Dumas-Wines (Ms Darbus) channels every archetype high school drama teacher known to real and reel life. And, Mike Schneider (Coach Bolton) brings some believable humanity to his role as Troy's father and coach.

And, since this is a dance blog, choreographer Alison Shafer does very well with what she's given. It's not easy getting a mixed bag of young dancers, actors and non-dancers to mesh well-together. The trick is to teach simple steps and build them into combinations and, then, do them again without seeming repetitive. And, Shafer manages to fill the multi-level stage and stairs with enough movement and energy and color to satisfy kids raised in a technicolor, Disney digital CG world. She also picks and chooses her dancers to feature, but, the fouette' turn is "frighteningly" realistic for most high school dancers and the grand jete' also needs work.

There seems to be a problem with acoustics (or my ears). I had trouble understanding some of the lines sometimes. And, my drama critic companion thought the music often over-powered the singers. And, she mentioned the female voices needed more amplification than the men. We both thought (Here's some constructive criticism for once) the Wildcats Cheerleaders should've had red cheaters, instead of white. Looks too much like white underwear underneath those red cheerleader outfits.

In my review of The Playhouse production of Beauty and the Beast (which I liked a lot), I said that Disney anything is a hard act to follow. (Which the House of the Mouse will soon discover with High School Musical II and III, the national tour on stage and on skates soon to follow! Talk about trying to strike while the iron's still hot!) But, since I only caught the original High School Musical on the Disney Channel in passing, I had very little expectations for the Playhouse version. So, if you're not a hard-core High School fan (and chances are you're not if you've ever graduated from middle or grade school), Disney's High School Musical is better at The Playhouse than on TV. Take your own or borrow your favorite kid to catch a show. It runs through August fifth.

7.13.2007: Friday the 13th Your Lucky Day!

Girls! How can you resist this?
"BAD BOYS OF DANCE is an ensemble that unites the world's most talented and versatile male dancers of today to perform shows of the highest quality. Our company provides a place of artistic freedom for dancers, choreographers, composers, designers, and more..."
Check it out at WWW.BadBoysofDance.Com and videoclips at their MySpace Page.

Story on an Israeli ballerina:
"...'You have to make a choice,' Lisa Oberman was told at age 14 about embarking on a career in ballet. It was not a difficult decision for the Canadian-born ballerina; she knew early on that her future was on the stage...."
The entire story from Haaretz.Com

Eyes are opened by Danish dancers:
"...beating with the quickness and delicacy of a hummingbird's wings before landing in buttery soft pliés that immediately transition to the next phrase..."

Serving up the rest from the Boston Globe


Q+A with the Black Baryshnikov:
"...My teacher at the Turin Ballet told me to believe in myself and work hard. It's the same advice everyone should follow in life, and it has served me well...."

Read the rest from The Guardian.


Aspiration begins with perspiration:
"...Ballet is not a hobby for these kids. They have the big dream: to be professional dancers. They stick out the years of building their bodies, learning steps, postures and isolated muscle control – all for the promise of dancing...."

The entire article from the Wilmington Star


Some background on Danny from SYTYCD:
"...It’s impossible to know what will happen on the show, where talent and experience seem to count for less than a sentimental speech about a dream..."

Here's where to register for the article from the New York Times.


7.12.2007: More Fuel 4 the Food Fire!

Helpful tip from Capital City Dance Center teacher/choreographer/performer Alissa H:
"...I found this article on whole grain foods and why they are better for you than the refined sugar foods. Another good argument for why dancers should eat better!

Alissa"

7.11.2007: 241!

Seven-Eleven must be our lucky day! Also, just got this in the e-mailbag from GitUrFaShawn at SAB in the "big apple" this summer. (Just when you got tired of looking at all those M&M's everyday!):
"Hey. I finally responded to those questions. The answers are as follows:

  • I got in 'Intermediate Men' which is the lower of the two levels ('Intermediate' is ages 12-17 and 'Advanced' is 16-19 or 20). I have twenty four other boys in my class, and only adagio, character, and ballroom are co-ed. There is a large mixture of skill level in my class, including a twelve-year-old who can do every trick in the book but doesn't have any technique.
  • I am living in a twenty-nine-floor building that includes the School of American Ballet studios and New York City Ballet studios among other things in its first eleven floors and the School of American Ballet and Julliard dorms in the next seventeen (I'm not sure if there's a twelfth floor or not). I live in a Julliard dorm, which includes a spacious living room, three bathrooms, and three double and two single bedrooms. There are pictures on my blog. I was un/fortunate enough to not have a roommate.
  • The food is okay. I seem to be eating a lot of pasta because the meatier dishes don't look very appetizing at all. I've chosen to have pancakes every morning and those are wonderful, too. Also, there's lots of slices of cakes and pies. We don't have a buffet-like program, so we have to limit our food quite a bit. There's some kind of activity everyday, whether it be going to a ballet across the street, an excursion to a famous location, or decorating cookies. In the mornings, though we are always bored (sometimes our classes start at one in the afternoon).
  • We're doing the whole Balanchine thing... not that that wasn't obvious or anything! I'm not a big fan, but it's always good to try new things. All of my teachers are from the New York City Ballet.
  • Besides ballet, I'm taking: character three times a week with levels one, two, and three; weight training twice a week; pilates once; and partnering once, too.
  • Well, I'm in New York, so there's a lot to do. Luckily, we're in a more affluent neighborhood so I haven't gotten mugged... yet. The dorms are two blocks from Central Park and a little over twenty blocks from Times Square, so that's nice and I've been to both places a few times each.
  • Classes are very fast-paced and almost all of the combinations are short, simple, and quick. We do tons of exercises that involve your feet and using your turn-out. I've only had one sufficient adagio since I arrived... but I've had more than enough petite allegro to last me a lifetime. Suprisingly, we don't do too many larger jumps and we do a lot more turns. In terms of advice, I'd say one must catch onto combinations extremely fast and be prepared to get only a few corrections, and those few are always really simple (like making a completely flat fifth position, standing further away from the barre, and lifting up). Oh, I've also learned that you shouldn't do 'the frog.' It's bad for your hips from pushing the top end of your femur downwards in your hip socket. But it is safe to do straddle splits and the like as long as your knees are straight. When the physical therapist said that in one of our seminars, there were audible gasps throughout the room.

Sean L.
School of American Ballet - Mailbox 39
70 Lincoln Center Plaza, 14th floor
New York, New York 10023-6592 ... I think.

I miss all of you!"

7.11.2007: Message from Margaruite!

Margaruite de Armaund has managed to smuggle out an e-message to us back home! Maggie left this past weekend for the Kirov Academy and joins Sleeping Cutie in DC. (From Capital City Dance Center to the nation's capital!):
"Hi everyone back at home! I miss you all so much already! It's the third day of the Kirov summer session and everyone is adjusting and getting used to our new schedule! I got placed in the level before Sarah K. (It goes by age) and my instructors name is Mdm. Akhmedova. She gives most corrections to the whole class and a few personal corrections here and there. During center work, we rotate between three groups. I am in the last because it goes by height. She gives a bunch of corrections to the first group and they spend a lot of time working on things, but then Mdm. Akhmedova gets restless and rushes through the last two...but I work on the side to stay warm! The class is purely Vaganova. Everything is very sharp with extremely precise upper body. The coordination is a little difficult at first, but I'm starting to get the hang of it! She gives us a first class, then we are expected to memorize it and do the same combinations the next day. I didn't have very much difficulty with that aspect because much of the combinations are similar to Missy's and I went over them before i went to sleep. I don't feel like i am behind any of the girls in my level. I know how to work hard -thanks to Missy and Emery- and I feel very prepared, even with the difference in style. There are girls from all over the place, even from Japan! There is a Japapnese girl in my class who doesn't speak any English, however she is very talented and whipped out a couple quadrouple pirouettes! Like Sarah said, there are a bunch of goobers here too.

My roomates name is Caroline and she is from Philadelphia. She recently spent two weeks in the Ukraine studying at one of their ballet schools with her younger sister who also is attending the Kirov Academy. She's very sweet and we both like to get up and go to sleep at about the same time. We room at the Catholic University and get bused to and from the Academy each day. We eat at the Academy, but I also keep food in the dorm refrigerator. There is a Whole Foods in Silver Springs that Sarah showed me how to get to on the metro. It's very nice being able to go all over town as long as we are in groups of threes. I think I'm getting used to the metro, but it's taken a few tries!

The extra classes that we take are character (thank goodness for the summer intensive classes we had last year with Joseph!), Spanish, Ballet history, Ballet in the Media, Pilates, and a stretching class. The woman who taught Ballet history reminded me of Professor Newsom and his extensive knowledge of ballet! You could ask her just about any quesiton, and she would have the answer. She even mention how Louis IV invented the royale. (sp?) My contemporary class is very entertaining. The instructor is Mr. Angelov and he is quite crazy...he has us doing a wierd mix of techno/eighties/Micheal Jackson moves. We are learning a Russian dance in character and I haven't yet had spanish.

I love D.C. There are so many things to do around here! Sarah and I are going to see the Harry Potter movie on Friday with a bunch of other girls, which should be fun. I've already been to Union Station and Chinatown and I cant wait to take a trip to Georgetown. There are so many people here and it is such a big city! I'm not sure of my snail mail address yet, but I'll let you know as soon as i get the info!

I miss you all and hope you are having a great summer! I'll update you as much as possible and can't wait to see you all in three weeks!

Love, Maggie"

7.10.2007: Up Close and Personal

GoCCDC.Com submitted some questions to Nicole Hussain, the choreographer scheduled to hold a modern dance workshop/audition at Capital City Dance Center on July 28. Here's a chance to get to know the recent University of Iowa graduate and learn about her plans for the fledgling Poetic Rebound Dance Company before her event:


Nicole Hussain caught in action during a performance at the University of Iowa

CCDC:: "Poetic Rebound"? Explain the enigmatic name for your dance company.
"For me, when I'm embarking on a new journey in my life, I am on the rebound, bouncing off of my last chapter and opening up a new one. Of course, the ability to demonstrate this through movement makes it poetic to those who experience it with me, whether that be fellow dancers or audience members."
CCDC:: What choreographers do you admire and why? If you could compare your own choreography to someone well-known who would it be and why?
"David Dorfman and Gabriel Masson have been two choreographers whose work has really had an impact on me. I am able to sit back and be emotionally taken by the way their work unfolds. It is difficult for me to compare my choreography to anyone well known, but those two are definitely influences."
CCDC:: Why form a company at such a young age as opposed to dancing in someone else's company for now and doing it later?
"I have always been a leader and a go-getter. It had been a dream of mine for a long time to start my own company, and it had seemed so far-fetched and distant, but I do feel now that I have the resources and tools to make it happen. Upon coming to Iowa for school at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, I realized how much talent is here and how much the people of Iowa support the arts, yet there are very few companies. To me, it seems like the right time and the right place."
CCDC:: What specific piece of music did you last choreograph? What are you working on now? And, what are you most excited about working on in the future?
"My last piece was to a variety of songs from the K&D sessions. It was a darker piece, about exploring oneself and the boundaries that can be placed on a person. Right now, I am working on a 30 minute piece for an upcoming company performance called Earth Expo. The event is held in Solon, Iowa and is meant to get the community thinking "green." The piece will have a feel of connectedness to the earth. I am hoping that some of the dancers from the audition will be able to participate in this process with me. For more info on the event, visit www.earthexpo.ws."
CCDC:: What sort of dancer are you looking to hire for your company? How much can you afford to pay? What's your five-year plan? 10-year?
"I am looking for a dancer eager to work with a company in its early stages, someone with a lot of dedication and creative ideas. My process is very collaborative and I hope to get dancers who are open to new possibilities and can really move. At this point, performances are paid. The unfortunate thing with a start-up company is that there are a lot of costs to get things going, so I will be unable to pay for rehearsal time. I hope that in the next five years, that will change and that we will be well known in the area, and also the Chicago area. I have several connections there and would love for us to be able to perform there once or twice a year. Within the next ten years, I hope to be even bigger, touring throughout the midwest."
CCDC:: Why stay in Iowa? Why not move to a city or state where dance is REALLY happening? Why stay here and struggle?
"Like I said earlier, there is so much talent in Iowa, and I really want to bring dance, art, and music to the communities of Iowa. Yes, dance is really happening elsewhere, but there are so many possibilities here that I know this is the right place. I really don't believe that starting a company would be any more of a struggle in Iowa than in New York for example. There we may be little fish in a big pond, but here we can really make an impact."
CCDC:: Why should dance students take your workshop? What can they expect? How much modern dance experience should they have?
"Take the class because it will be fun, you will learn new ideas and techniques. I plan to incorporate some choreographic tools into the workshop so dancers can get a feel for how I go about things in rehearsal. Modern dance experience is preferred but not necessary. Just come with an open mind and bare feet!"
CCDC:: Do you have a blog, MySpace, FaceBook or other website where we can learn more about you?

"I am in the process of starting a blog/website, and you will be the first to know when it is up and running. I strongly encourage any dancer with any questions at all for me to email me at Poetic.Rebound@GMail.Com. In fact, I would love to get to know some of the dancers before the workshop!"

7.9.2007: Active CCDC Dance Faculty

Here's an opportunity to catch CCDC Summer Intensive Guest Faculty Performance this week. Got this e-mail from Kathleen Hurley recently:
"...Hello! I wanted to invite you all to please go and see the play I wrote for the Drama Workshop's Fringe Festival event! My play is called Last Breath and is one of six presented in The Iowa Cycle each performance. (Each play is 10 minutes long). Info and times are listed below. For information on how to purchase the $10 tickets, visit the Iowa Fringe website!
Thanks and have a great summer!
Kathleen

Drama Workshop
The Iowa Cycle
by Jill McLain, Jake Bowman, Erich Goldstein, William Coleman, Ruth Brail-Freeman, Kathleen Hurley

Rating: general audiences (pg to pg-13) - language/dialogue

DEATH
Last Breath by Kathleen Hurley

In a minimalist mix of theatre and dance, three women muse: You were already traveling to your death the moment after your birth and traveling to your next birth the moment after your death. Can you forgive the grape that choked you to death? How dead do you plan to be?

Drama Workshop website..."

7.9.2007: Kudos 2 Parade Participants!

A big CCDC congratulations and thanks to the organizers and participants in a medley of local July Fourth parades! Seems like everyone had a great time! And! It WORKED! The number of unique website hits to GoCCDC.Com set a new record the next day! It nearly doubled the previous record...and nearly TRIPLED the number of average unique hits in a day! Good work from everyone involved! Keep spreading the word about Capital City Dance Center, the new school with the "old school" approach to dance discipline, hard work and FUN!!! Grab some extra brochures and pass them out to everyone you know!

7.6.2007: Branson Revisited+Reviewed

(Branson, Missouri) Early in my dance training, I used to work-out with a ragtag group of acrobats that met twice a week in my hometown. (They defined "acrobatics" as "gymnastics with two or more people", instead of apparatus) They trained me to press a handstand on the ground and in the air. Round-offs, front and back handsprings. (Don't ask me anymore, though!) I've stood on top of four acrobats standing on each other's shoulders. I've learned how to fall from the top of that group-mount and land and roll safely. I've been a top-mounter, an under-stander, a spotter, a competition judge and a choreographer in mixed pairs, trios and groups. I've lifted and held a 140-pound woman with one arm over my head. Other girls have held handstands on just one of my forearms. And, if I was either bigger or smaller, I might still be competing or coaching or choreographing in acrobatics. So, the point of blowing my own horn is, I know good gymnastics, acrobatics and adagio work. Back then, my fellow acrobats and I were all blown away when the original Wushu Acrobats of China made their first foray from behind the Bamboo Curtain. And, I was just as impressed watching the Incredible Chinese Acrobats at the New Shanghai Circus in Branson, Missouri this past week.

Seeing such young and well-trained contortionist/gymnast/acrobat/dancers makes me almost believe all the special effect tricks in films like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Hero and the recent wave of Chinese Martial Arts movies are actually possible. It also proves the intense, years-long training that young Chinese apprentices suffer through (as evidenced in the movie The Emperor and the Concubine) produces incredible results. Thirteen-year old Tai Yoon is a prime example. Effortless presses to handstands segue seamlessly into one-arm handstands on either side and into perfectly perpendicular planches. (I know how much strength and balance that takes. I was so impressed, I got his autograph after the show. And, I don't collect autographs!) He spins like a demented dervish on one hand or on his head. Once he gets old enough to compete, Yoon could be a Tai Foon on the international Gymnastics scene. And, if USA Gymnastic's prime hope, Shawn Johnson, thinks she'll be able to just waltz into Beijing next year and return with a gold medal, she'd better keep a close eye on what her Chinese counterparts have up the sleeves of their cheong-sams!

I was wondering how the Acrobats were going to be able to sustain the level that Yoon sets in the first number after the opening. But, I shouldn't have worried. The show alternates women's acts with young men, pairs and duets between solos and trios and groups. Most of the young performers are so flexible, they make rhythmic gymnasts look like they have rigor mortis! They balance cups and stacks of glasses. They spin five plates on five sticks in one hand. They juggle logs, cloths and, even, while opening and closing umbrellas with one foot then the other. One young woman is so limber she looked like an alien octopus-like life-form performing in a pink spangled unitard. Was that her leg, an arm or a tentacle she balanced that crystal set on while she somersaulted in slow-motion on that raised stage? There's a difficult high-wire act that changes the western concept of a "tightrope" into a loose and much more dangerous rope. One set of young girls performs so many tricks, tosses and tumbling with Chinese yo-yo's it would make Tommy Smothers jealous! (A few bobbles here and missed catches there just proves how difficult the tricks are to perform. And, just how well trained the young acrobats are to cover and recover so professionally.) Sometimes the tricks were just so stunning, I almost forgot to applaud!

High production values, a tightly-paced and choreographed show. If you have a chance, catch the 21st century version of a thousand-year old tradition of Wushu by watching the Incredible Chinese Acrobats. Such well-trained young performers are a pleasure to watch! Far East visits midwest, April through December at the New Shanghai Circus Theater in Branson, Missouri!


Okay. So, almost anything would be anti-climactic the morning following the Chinese Acrobats. But, I'm not only a former acrobat, not just a former ballet dancer, I'm a former performer in a couple of cabaret shows on the Waikiki Strip, so I have some experience in this area as well. And, I was a little let down at The Spirit of the Dance showing at the Branson Variety Theater in the "little Las Vegas of the Midwest".

This isn't River Dance, it isn't Michael Flatley displaying his "Feet of Flames" in Lord of the Dance. It's a little mixed revue that features professional dancers apparently taught some Irish dancing. One big peeve is the recorded taps on the soundtrack that make it sound much bigger and brighter than it is. (It's hard to trust the show once that happens. I'm still not entirely convinced the singers didn't lip-synch their parts on the recorded music as well.) A real show that trusted its dancers would "mike" the floor and let the taps speak, perform and thunder for themselves.

Give the dancers credit for "selling" and attacking what they were given. It's not easy waking up for a 10:00am curtain after closing a show at what must have been 10:00pm the night before. (I don't know how they get around the union rule of at least 12-hours off between shows. Even a professional show must have a call or mandatory report-in time at least half-an-hour before curtain.) There was a lot of performing going on on that stage. The couple next to me was a-hootin' and a-hollerin' throughout the show. (Apparently, they don't get out much.) And, the finale' brought (most) the audience to its feet in a standing ovation.

But, not this cranky old ex-swing shift dancer and his tap-dance expert sitting next to him. (You have to clap. You don't have to stand.) Branson may like to bill itself as the "little Las Vegas of the Midwest", but, it's still the minor-leagues where dancers with less-than-perfect-bodies and less-than-perfect-technique can go to make a living. Last year, when I watched many of these same dancers in the show Broadway!, there were a handful that we could focus on that made the experience enjoyable. But, those dancers have apparently gone on to bigger and better things. If you don't get out much and aren't a grumpy old dance critic, you can see the show Spirit of the Dance at the Branson Variety Theater and be fully entertained. You'll get a lot of "spirit"! Just not much (technical) dancing.

7.5.2007: Another Pointe of View

Finally! Another review of the Joffrey Ballet from the Daily Iowan, including web video!

7.4.2007: We R Not 4Gotten!!!

You can take Sleeping Cutie off the "boy-will-they-suffer-when-they-get-back-list"!:
"...I'm almost half way done with my summer program, and it's going great! Just thought I'd update you on a few things going on here. In character, we started learning Oriental style instead of the usual Hungarian style that we had been working on. Oriental is really slow and beautiful, and it's so much fun! In Spanish today we had a beginners' course in using castanets, which was really interesting. All my lecture classes are fascinating, and I'm really learning a lot about all aspects of dance. Today, we had one on stretching and strengthening, and now I know why you always say that I have enough turn-out, but I just need to get strong enough to use it all. We learned some good excercises too. In ballet this week Morkovina gave us a class on Monday that we had to memorize in one night and be able to do without help on Tuesday. I was basically doing ballet class in my sleep! We are learning Aurora's variation from Sleeping Beauty (the one in the wedding scene I think). This program is so good for me because we absolutely have to have the combinations memorized, because otherwise you can't use your head right, and Morkovina will notice. Also, almost everything we do is sharp, so it's really helping with my attack (or lack thereof). Even in adagio, your leg must be in passe by 1, and out by 2. I feel like I'm getting stronger, and it's a good experience to see where other girls my age are at in their training. There are some really amazing dancers here! I can't wait till Maggie comes! I miss everyone at CCDC..."

7.4.2007: We R NOT 4saken!

Happy Independence Day! Here's a message in an e-bottle from CCDC's Natasha K, currently stranded in the Second City for most of the summer: (If you want her e-mail address, leave a message in the contact page!)
"...My summer has been pretty good.

Thank you very much for giving me an opportunity in dancing. I really appreciate and enjoy dancing in your studio. This year has been great, I loved every second of it. Thank you for giving me a chance. I will be home July 26th I hope to see you soon. I miss everybody.

With love,
Nataliya..."

7.3.2007: We R NOT Forgotten!!

Just checked out GitYurFaShawn's blog...and he's finally solved his internet access problems! Lotta interesting new stuff updated! He has some other pix here. Sounds like he's having a blast! And, he is officially no longer on the list of people who will suffer when they get back!

Also, just solved my own internet problems and got this from CCDC student Emily V away at academic camp this summer:

"Hi Everyone!

I'm at Princeton now in my dorm room. I have a huge room, but no roommate. Two of my professors are really nice. One is from India and actually studied at the University of Iowa. My third professor is a little intimidating. We have been assigned so much homework! I've met very interresting kids from across the globe. The food here isn't very good, but I'm making sure to eat right. The campus is absolutely gorgeous with lotsa Gothic columns and archways. There are thousands of big trees. I miss you guys so much! But I've been keeping up with crunches and floor bar and such. I hope everything at the studio is great!

Love,
Emily
PS, here's my address:
Emily V___
Junior Statesmen Princeton Summer School
PO Box 1242
Princeton, NJ 08542-1242..."

7.1.2007: Dancing From River2River

(Des Moines) "If it weren't for Iowa, there would be no Joffrey Ballet." That's a statement attributed to the company's late founder, Robert Joffrey. If he had been more specific, he might have said, "If it weren't for Hancher Auditorium bringing us to Iowa so often, there would be no Joffrey Ballet." He credited the Auditorium and the University of Iowa for seeing the company through some very lean times. And, the latest chapter of the long-standing mutual admiration between a state and a dance company exploded onto a downtown Des Moines stage this weekend.

The first installment of this summer's statewide tour of Iowa by the Joffrey Ballet sponsored by Hancher helped kick off the tenth anniversary Des Moines Arts Festival Friday night. And, the starved-for-professional-ballet local dance audience responded by turning out in force and showing their appreciation with sustained applause and a final standing ovation. The grassy sward between the new Des Moines City Library and the new John Pappajohn Educational Building turned into a festive mini-Woodstock of dance students, parents and balletomanes. The crowd estimated at near a thousand also drew curious passersby from the adjoining Arts Festival and filled the streets by the temporary stage.

The evening's program began with an excerpt from the commercially successful, but, artistically lacking Billboards, also a Hancher Auditorium commission. I remember being less than impressed when the full-length "rock ballet" to the music of the artist-currently-re-known-as-Prince originally toured through Iowa. I was more appreciative this time at Sometimes It Snows In April, with its long lines and diagonals of dancers echoing motifs of movement, gradually growing in crisp, crystalline choreography. But, the more up-tempo Trust reveals the danger of trying to get classically trained dancers to get down and funky. The attempt has varying degrees of success from dancer to dancer. Some get it and groove. Some just move so unnaturally, no amount of cheesy smiling can cover. Some WASPs just have no sting!

A modern piece, Untitled, with choreography from seminal dance troupe, Pilobolus, was the emotional tour de force of the evening. It starts with humor and some lifts that were telegraphed by pictures in the program. But, it quickly evolves into something much deeper. An exploration of birth and death and inter-and-intra-gender relationships. Like the best dance pieces it challenges the audience to interpret the complex lifts and movements through their own experiences and recollections. Nothing cliched or stereotypical about the twenty-year old(?) piece that wears its age quite well.

The classical Nutcracker Pas de Deux was the biggest disappointment of the evening. The costumes were candy-colored and cartoonish. The lifts were labored, especially the assemble' ecarte'. The assisted pirouettes and whip turns lacked crispness when the ballerina consistently lost control of her mid-section. And! There were no male or female variations! Spies tell me the Cavalier and Sugar Plum Fairy variations were rehearsed earlier that afternoon. So, why disappoint the balletomanes and miss a chance to educate the dance novices? I can only guess that an injury (also reported by my spies) during the afternoon rehearsals forced the Joffrey to juggle casting to the point where they didn't want to risk putting out dancers inexperienced to the roles.

Also on the bill were Allegro Con Sabor and the company's signature piece, Light Rain. Allegro Con Sabor loosely translates to "Speed With Flavor". And, at least one of the female dancers added the necessary flirtatious Latina "flava". Light Rain was choreographed by Robert Joffrey as a gift to his dancers for the company's 25th anniversary. It's an Indian-influenced ballet in three movements. It's as if Bollywood made a musical in a section of the sub-continent suffering from a clothes famine. The men are all topless, the women in spangled unitards. But, a piece like this shows the company at its best. A polished sensual central duet with a pliable principal ballerina. And, group movements that featured solos by dancers showing off their signature tricks. It's a crowd-pleaser and the crowd was pleased as evidenced by the sustained applause and standing ovation.

The Joffrey Ballet's River to River tour continues in Council Bluffs, Muscatine, Cedar Rapids and Iowa City this week. It may be worth it for ardent dance fans to take a road trip to catch more performances. The Joffrey's backers like to claim it's the country's "third-best ballet company". But, it's not. It may have been once, but, companies in San Francisco, Seattle, Houston, Boston, Atlanta, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Tulsa, Milwaukee and San Jose beg to differ. Still, you're not likely to see NYCB or ABT or SFB or PNB giving a free concert near you anytime soon. So, Joffrey wins the title of "the best, most accessible" ballet company in the country. Especially in Iowa. Especially this summer. ###30###

6.30.2007: Where's Waldo?

Just checked out Michael Morain's blog at the Des Moines Register's Website. It has some pix from last night's performance of the Joffrey. Hmm...where's Waldo now? And, hang on! Still finishing the review. (Tough to do now that my notes are in another state!) Also hoping to transcribe some interviews I did with Mauro Villanueva and Pierre Lockett of the Joffrey.

6.29.2007: Joffrey Workshop Report

Several CCDC dancers took part in the Joffrey Ballet Movement Workshop downtown this morning. If you didn't have a chance to participate, click here to access the WHO Radio news report and look for "Joffrey Workshop". See if you can identify the voices! (Hint two of the three dance at CCDC!)

6.26.2007: Modern Dancers! Help Wanted!

(Des Moines) The Artistic Director of an emerging modern dance company based out of Iowa City and Chicago will be holding a combination workshop/audition at Capital City Dance Center in Urbandale, July 28th. Nicole Hussain of the Poetic Rebound Performance Company received her Fine Arts degree with a performance emphasis from the University of Iowa. Hussain admits her reputation may not precede her. But, she insists she has a proven track record at a young age. "Aside from performing in many, or nearly all possible performances at the University, I have also danced professionally with Charlotte Adams and Dancers, Duarte Dance Works and was also a founding member of a hip hop company out of Iowa City called F'resh Grooves. I have performed in many different venues, including the Joyce SoHo Theatre in New York City, and various theatres throughout Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska and Minnesota. I have had several of my works produced by the University as well," she said.

Hussain's workshop at CCDC will run from 2:00-4:00pm with the audition for potential company members from 4:00-5:00. The workshop is open to the public and will cost $15.00, cash or check only. The audition itself will be open to workshop participants 18 and older only and is at no additional charge.

"I am trained in several forms of modern dance, particularly release technique, but also Horton and Graham. My choreography tends to lean more toward release, with my own funky flair, even some hip hop influences," Hussain said.

Hussain says she plans to start by paying her company dancers per performance and rehearsals will be in Iowa City. She's looking for interested dancers who can travel there once or twice a week for rehearsals or are planning to relocate to the Iowa City area. She says, "I am interested in dancers who are 18 or older, simply because this is a professional company."

A second workshop/audition is also planned for early August at CCDC. For more information, e-mail Hussain at Poetic.Rebound@GMail.Com.

Capital City Dance Center's mission is to offer world-class dance education to challenge and stimulate students of all ages to greatest artistic expression and a life-long involvement with the art of dance at all levels. Find out more at "WWW.GoCCDC.Com".

###30###

6.25.2007: Ballet Foray

Iowa becomes the "State of the Art" this summer as the Joffrey Ballet begins it's free "River To River" concert tour this Friday. You can make a day of it this Friday at the Des Moines Arts Festival:
  • Movement Workshop, 10:30-11:30am

  • Company Class, 12:00-1:30pm

  • Company Rehearsal, 2:00-5:00pm

  • Free Joffrey Ballet Performance, 8:00pm

Other free performances follow at: Council Bluffs (7/1), Muscatine (7/3), Cedar Rapids (7/6) and Iowa City (7/7). Capital City Dance Center spoke with long-time Joffrey Ballet Trustee Mary Keough-Lyman about the gift to the state from the Hancher Auditorium's 35th Anniversary Celebration:

CCDC: Tell us about the tour.

"It's so exciting for the Joffrey, the state and for Hancher Auditorium. The Joffrey relishes coming to Iowa and performing here. We have such a rich tradition with Hancher Auditorium. And, this new project is something that has never been done before. And, the Joffrey is so excited about it, that they're saying once it's accomplished in Iowa, it's something they want to try in other parts of the country. Bringing dance, wonderful ballet, to the people."

CCDC:Didn't the Joffrey II do something similar back in the eighties?

"Yes! The Joffrey II has had several residencies in Iowa through Hancher Auditorium starting in the early 80's. And, as the members of the Joffrey II...which is kinda the 'farm team' for the Joffrey. Often the members of the Joffrey II move up to the main company. Loved coming to Iowa! Had such wonderful experiences on the farms and the various communities. And, in each of these sites, they performed. Which made ballet much more accessible to the people of Iowa. And, actually, now, we have a state full of ballet-lovers because of all these rich experiences with the both the main company and the Joffrey II."

CCDC:Does this sorta fill the void left by the demise of the Des Moines Ballet/Ballet Iowa in the late nineties?

"Well, I don't know if it 'fills the void', it's always wonderful for a community to have its own dance company. But, the Joffrey is one of the three top ballet companies in the country. And, so this is really quite an extraordinary experience that we have a relationship with one of the great ballet companies in the world."

CCDC:Is there a website to find out more information?

"Actually it's very easy..." WWW.Hancher.UIowa.Edu/Hancher35

CCDC:Will this tour just hit the urban centers in Iowa?

"Well, it would be urban centers that would have theaters because the company has about 46 dancers, plus the Joffrey II...(But, it's not just the biggest urban centers on this tour,) We have many smaller pieces that are very elegant and charming and funny that we perform on a regular basis during our various seasons."

CCDC:This is unprecedented, isn't it?

"We're very excited about this...This is a very unique and spectacular arrangement that Hancher and the Joffrey have worked out. And it will be very accessible because the performances will be free! Which is actually...unheard of! One of the three top ballet company coming to Iowa to perform in five cities for free!"

6.25.2007: We R Not 4Gotten!

If a picture is worth a thousand words, CCDC's GitYurFaShawn has written reams in this brief missive:
"...Below is the URL for my photo blog.

SeanInNewYork.WordPress.Com

Nothing has really happened, as of yet!

-Sean..."

...I checked it out...and it's like a picture-postcard tour of the Big Apple! Looking forward to reading and seeing more!

...And, from Capital City to our nation's capital, our Sleepy Cutie checks in after her first week in Washington:
"...Ok well I was looking at the news and you said to email so here goes:

  1. I am in level 1, the highest level, but it was just based on age. There are a couple of girls with great technique, but a bunch of "goobers" too. But most of the dancers are quite good.

  2. We are staying at Catholic University of America. The dorms are really nice. I have the best roommate ever! Her name is Hannah and she is from a small town in Wisconsin. The first few nights were a little awkward, but now we are really close. She is so hilarious and we get along great! I couldn't have asked for a better roommate.

  3. The food is pretty good. At least it's healthy. When we get done dancing we are free to use the metro to go wherever we want as long as we're in groups of at least 3. So that's pretty nice. It's only the first week and I've already been to Target, Georgetown, Chinatown, and Pentagon Mall.
  4. I am taking purely Vaganova style. All my dance teachers are Russian, except the Spanish teacher, who is Spanish. Their accents are so cool! I'm working on mine.

  5. We take tons of other classes in the morning and then have 3 1/2 hours of ballet in the afternoon. These are: Spanish, character, nutrition, pilates, mime, Stretch, dance in the media, watching ballet, career guidance, KAB feedback, and fieldtrip. Nutrition was a joke - the teacher thought coconuts were a nut and didn't know how to spell lettuce or cucumber. Mime was absolutely hilarious and really fun. I love Spanish, and watching ballet and career guidance are fascinating. The lady that teaches those classes knows everything about ballet!

  6. DC is great! There are a lot of fun things to do here (tons of shopping!) Definitely more interesting than the cornfields back home.

  7. The ballet class is more or less structured the same, but the style is pretty different. I really love the Vaganova style though. However, there is a lot more competition here than at home. But on Saturday "Morky" switched me to the very front row in center, and she learned my name and said "good girl" to me! I was so excited, because it's a rare thing for her to say good to anybody. I love this program, and it's my favorite out of all the summer intensives I've been to. There are a lot of different classes you get to take, the style is beautiful, and this school turns out really great dancers.

Thank you Missy and Emery for preparing me for this. I am having a blast, but I miss everyone at CCDC!

PS - the name is officially Kirov Academy of Ballet now, not Universal..."


6.22.2007: Annual Summer Exodus Gets Underway

First it's a trickle. Then, it's a flood. The annual migration of talented CCDC dancers to national summer programs around the country is beginning. The first to go is Sleeping Cutie who's wrapping up the first of six weeks at the Universal Academy in Washington DC. (Her mother informs us she's gotten into the highest level and returns to the class of her favorite teacher there.) And, GitUrFaShawn takes his big bite of the big apple starting tomorrow as he heads to School of American Ballet in New York.

Just don't forget us back at home, all you CCDC students! E-mail us all the stuff you're posting on FaceBook and MySpace and I'll put it here! I won't put the real juicy stuff, of course!

Here are some questions to get you started:

  • What level did you get in? How are the dancers you take class with?

  • How are your accomodations? Where are you living? How is your roommate?

  • How's the food? Are they keeping you busy when you're done dancing?

  • What style of ballet are you taking? Where's your teacher from?

  • What other classes are you taking besides ballet? Is it fun? Crazy? Wacky?

  • What's the city or town you're in like? Lot's to do? More interesting than here?

  • How different are the classes? What can we do to better prepare you for next summer? What's your best advice for CCDC kids considering going where you are?

  • What's your snail mail address?
Have a great time while you're away! It'll fly by! Work hard! Listen to your teachers! Don't forget everything we've taught you here! And, finally, don't forget to come home! We miss ya' already!o(

6.22.2007: The Latest on the Joffrey Visit

Thanks to Laura W for information on the Joffrey Ballet's workshop next week. Find out more at the Hancher Auditorium Website.

Laura also provides this information from Hancher on your chance to see Joffrey's company class and rehearsals next Friday:

"...The general public is welcome to watch the company take class and rehearse during the day at the staging area. This will all take place outdoors. Though there’s a chance that this may change a bit, the current schedule is as follows:

  • Company class: 12-1:30pm

  • Company rehearsal: 2-5pm

Feel free to have your dancers and their families come out and make a day of it. Thanks and we hope to see you there!"

6.22.2007: Stalking the Web Lynx


Gelsey Kirkland on her approach to character ballets:

 

"...'I think the classical roles need to be approached with an actor’s point of view,” she said. “You have to open it up for each person so that it remains alive. There are differences in how to do that in ‘Sleeping Beauty’ as opposed to ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ but still the process is the same. You have to make a mess before you can bring it back together again'..."

Click to register for the complete New York Times article.


Suzanne Farrell on her inspiration for dance:

"...The more you listen to the music, the more you hear things in it, and that lends itself to a different way of doing the choreography..."

Peruse the entire article from the Washington Post.


Boys to Men and ballet, NOT mutually exclusive terms:
"...Local ballet school directors say it is a challenge to recruit and retain boys in such a female-dominated discipline, and they go to lengths to draw them in...."

The rest of the testosterone connection at The Washington Post.


6.21.2007: More Instructor Feedback

Another e-mail from one of the 2007 CCDC Summer Intensive Guest Instructors:
"...Overall the students looked very good and very much improved: posture, turnout- and the 4's knew their corners... generally all of the 5/6's have an adagio quality all the time...they should be able to change movement speed and quality, and incomplete use of plie'. Could use some strength at both levels in a la seconde. But overall very easy to teach and work(ed) well in applying directions. A few in each class needed to be reminded about socializing...

I would push ____ if she is open to it. I don't know how serious she is, but she has lots of potential and her movement quality/port de bras has improved a lot. Same with _____...(And) That _____ is a gem and is sure to succeeed if she works and remains injury free...Think about doing a student type performing group for lecture dems and mini-performances around town.

Missy, you guys are doing great. I am so proud of you and I feel a great sense of personal satisfaction to see you carrying on the tradition so well...It is so important. You won't know how your hard work will mold these kids until they are 30, but you'll see. Even if they don't go on to dance or teach, they will remember what you have said and taught. Don't kid yourself, you are deeply affecting their lives and the people they will become. Look at yourself... it is very humbling to think I had some influence on the person you've become and the work you are doing. It is such a long process but look back in ten years and you'll see the same situation that I see now...."

6.18.2007: Happy Trails 2 You!

Who is that masked man riding off into the sunset? Here's part of an e-mail from CCDC 2007 Summer Intensive Guest Instructor Randall Newsom:
"...Just a quick note to say how much I enjoyed working with your students...

...Tell everyone to enjoy the rest of their summer.

Thanks, Randy..."

6.18.2007: Mayo Info

(Courtesy Newswise) — Is today’s exercise the cause of tomorrow’s pain? The June issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter offers tips to bounce back better after exercise:

Cooling down
A few minutes of mild activity after an exercise session allows the heart rate and breathing to slow down gradually and aids recovery of muscle tissue and the cardiovascular system.

Stretching
Gently stretching muscles that were particularly active during exercise helps them relax. Stretching helps athletes of all ability levels maintain and improve flexibility. It’s particularly effective after exercise when muscles and other tissues are warm and flexible.

Drinking adequate fluid
It’s recommended that people weigh themselves before and after vigorous or prolonged exercise. The weight loss is the amount of water lost through perspiration. For each pound lost, drink about two cups of water or a sports drink.

Refueling
The muscles and liver are most ready for replenishment immediately after exercise. Within 30 minutes of exercise, consume some form of carbohydrates, such as a glass of juice or a piece of fruit, as well as a moderate amount of protein. These help jump-start the replenishment of energy stores and the building and repair of muscle tissue. Replenishment doesn’t have to be in the form of energy drinks. A recent study found that low-fat chocolate milk — which contains carbohydrates and proteins — works just as well or better.

6.16.2007: Dear CCDancedoC

"Dear Doc...I've recently invested in my first Clif bar and am delighted to say I had a wonderful first experience. Although I am puzzled: looking at the nutrition facts it seems there is a lot of sugar in them (18 grams in the crunchy peanut butter version). That is almost half the sugar in a 12 oz. pop. I do see that it has a lot of fiber, vitamins, and other good-for-you stuff as well. I'm trying to eat healthier and wanted to be sure I'm eating the right things in the right amounts. Is there a different version of the Clif bar that may be better for me? Is this meant to be a meal replacement type bar?"
I'm not a certified nutritionist...and don't play one on the radio! But, I can share general guidelines for healthier eating that I've developed over my professional performing career. (And why is healthier eating important? Because food is fuel for the dancer's instrument, the human body. You want to put in the "cleanest burning fuel" with the most nutritional value you can to power you through classes, rehearsals and performances. When I was training, the only guy more flexible than I was was a health-food fanatic at the time, total "vegan" who occasionally fasted or used the "master cleanser" diet. On the other hand, another guy who was tight and brittle in his dancing, ate a lot of sugar and fried and refined foods and caffeinated drinks. I know it's just anectdotal evidence...but, the better and wiser I ate, the easier it was to dance and train harder.)

I use the principle of "nutrient density" as one of my guidelines for choosing what I eat. If you're going to eat a candy bar or a Clif bar, the choice is not necessarily which has the least calories or simple carbs, but, which provides the most nutrition per serving size. The Clif Bar was developed by a mountain climber who couldn't stop for a full meal during an ascent or descent. Rather than scarfing a Snickers or Mars bar, he developed a bar that tasted just as good, but provided more nutrition along with calories and complex carbs he needed to climb that mountain. His goal wasn't "losing weight".

Using "Nutrient Density" as a guideline, means choosing whole-grain rather than white flour products, brown rice rather than white, whole-grain rather than "normal" pasta. It also means you'd drink plain or carbonated water or plain tea rather than flavored, sweetened soda, tea or waters. But, you shouldn't think of it as a diet or depriving yourself. If you crave cookies or pastries, eat whole-grain products sweetened with honey or fruit. If you're an ice-cream addict, switch to low-fat frozen yogurt or sorbets or frozen fruit. If you prefer pizzas, get the whole-grain, low-fat version with lots of veggies and little or no meat and dairy. The whole idea is to choose "nutrient dense" food over "empty calories". A Clif bar rather than a Twinky!

Does this help?

6.13.2007: Impressions From A Session

The Sizzling Summer of Dance well underway at the 2007 Capital City Dance Center Summer Intensive this week...and here's a montage of impressions:

Professor Randall Newsom is as big, bold, brassy and bigger-than-life as promised. I remember near the end of my performing career developing an admiration for his intelligent instruction during a guest performance in the Quad Cities. Professor Newsom has a proven track record of producing professional level dancers at his program at Northern Illinois University. And, he's sharing his lifetime of experience in performing and instruction with CCDC dancers during the intensive. One thing that stands out in my mind is his mention during the dance history segment that he learned his Bournonville variations from the man who learned it from the man who learned it from August Bournonville himself! Talk about returning to the source!

Guest Limon instructor Kathleen Hurley gives such an intelligent workshop! While I was briefly observing her class, I learned the difference between horizontal and sagittal dance movements, learned about sequential releases and how to safely roll and fall. It's such a difference from some modern classes I've taken that sacrifice technique on the altar of emotion and experience.

It's such a privilege to learn the tradition of ballet pantomime from someone steeped in its history. Professor Newsom taught the Curse of Carabosse from The Sleeping Beauty. And, then, he taught the gift and blessing of the Lilac Fairy. And, watching him perform both as part of the class was also a rare privilege.

Former Principal Dancer Lynn Rehling brings a slightly different aesthetic to her master ballet classes. She pays a lot of attention to detailed technique. Deeper fondus, more turn-out on the supporting leg, more insistence on musicality. She quietly makes the rounds of the room, poking and prodding and pushing every dancer to cleaner and more complete technique.

And, more than a few of the Ballet IV students excited to get their first taste of the Sugar Plum Fairy's variation from The Nutcracker. Some of the younger students aren't even en pointe yet. And, it is a simplified version that Melissa is teaching. But, since Nutcracker is usually the first and last ballet performing experience in a professional ballet dancer's career in America, it gives the students a head start. (Editor's note: I remember frustrating our understudies once when my Sugar Plum and I ripped through the traditional coda without being taught during one rehearsal. She'd learned it at the Milwaukee Ballet school. I'd learned it while guesting with a youth ballet company in my hometown. The more you know, the better prepared you are!)

6.12.2007: More From The EMailbag

"...The recital was outstanding - your students are wonderful dancers. I got to see their dedication during the pre-rehearsal classes. You and Emery have much to be proud of!..."
"...Congratulations on a GREAT ballet/show last night. It was so enjoyable to watch. Both of my daughters had a wonderful time performing, but all of the dancers did such a nice job, and they obviously are extremely fond of you! We have enjoyed Miss Cindy and of course, Miss Jill so much. Thanks for doing such a professional job..."
"...completely enjoyed the performances this past weekend! Even though there were technical issues on Friday night, they simply could not have been handled more professionally on all levels -- very impressive. The manner in which the entire rehearsal and performance schedule was set up and run was, of course, new to us, and ran so smoothly -- a refreshing change for us!..."
"...She said it was the best amateur show she'd ever seen. She couldn't believe it. I heard that echoed throughout. So congratulations on a wonderful performance!..."
"...The recital was wonderful! I really appreciate the level of respect that you all expect. I went to a friend’s daughter’s dress rehearsal and the teachers were yelling at the students, parents, and each other. You teach the dancers so much more than just dancing! We so appreciate all that you have done (and will do)...The dancers were so professional in dealing with the sound problems. Those things happen sometimes, but the way they dealt with the situation was amazing and speaks highly of their training. ..."
"...should be so proud of yourselves, your teachers, and your dancers. This whole weekend, many things were evident. A love of dance, a commitment to “doing it the right way”, hard work, dedication, and a wonderful choreographed ballet that showcased your students’ individual strengths in dancing. All of them. You are wonderful. People were just amazed at what was accomplished, and shared. We were privileged to be able to watch. I heard so many comments praising your work, and your dancers respect for you, emery, and each other. Just know that there is nothing around here that compares. Many people realized that this weekend...."

6.10.2007: The Audience Chimes In

Here's an e-mail from a CCDC parent:
"...I also want to tell you what a great job you did on the production. All of the students danced fantastic and the costumes were beautiful. Swan Lake was wonderful. Even Friday night's show when the music kept cutting in and out, I was very impressed by how well the dancers stayed together. The music going out on Friday was not your fault and everyone knows this. This was a good lesson for the students (when something goes wrong, don't stop. Just keep on going until it is right again.) Maybe even a good lesson in life! These things happen in all live performances..."
...and this from CCDC alum Prince Dimitriy:
"...Just decided to drop a couple of lines about the performance in general:

If I only had five words to describe the performance, they would be: outstanding, amazing, technical, organized, heart-touching, inspiring, or wait it's already six or seven.... Perhaps it's impossible to describe what happened on stage in just five words. The performance is certainly wordless, jaw-dropping experience that certainly goes far beyond imagination. It has so much meaning behind the scenes because what we see on stage is hard work and dedication among dancers and the instructors that bring the original five words live in front of a public eye.

My instructor, Emery, always taught me, the way his instructor taught him as well, that if I miss one day of dancing - I would notice the difference, if I miss two days of dancing - my teacher would feel the difference, if I miss three days of dancing – the audience would know. It contradicts with the idea that even if I am no longer on stage, needless to say, the audience didn't see the difference because the "new" generation dancers stepped up and proved that no one is irreplaceable. Is it because of the talented dancers or brilliant staff that could put up a performance for the audience not to notice the difference? There is one word to describe the phenomena – the well taught technique that make the dancers and the instructors unique compared to other local schools.

In just a year that I no longer have been with CCDC, coming back is hard, it truly is. Not being there with the group and not being able to take a warm up class taught by always caring Missy. However, there shouldn't be any worries because it truly doesn't matter who you are, what your background is and what you want to get out of dancing, the staff at CCDC is always willing to educate their dancers to the fullest potential in order for their students to succeed. I personally felt it on stage and my warm feelings came back to me while training just a year ago.

We don't really feel much of a difference while standing behind a barre with somebody in class because everybody is progressing at his or her own paste. However, not being there for a year, it certainly shows. Everybody improved so much in just a year that every single word described above could not only be true about the performance but also for the dancer as well. It circles around to my original question whether is it a talented dancer or a brilliant staff? Not everybody is talented and not everybody is perfect. It probably has to do with both the dancer and the staff. There is a saying, it takes a village to raise a child and it takes two people to make a relationship work, therefore, it must be the dancer and the staff who work extremely hard together for the outcome to shine.

Congratulations, great job!

Dima..."

6.9.2007: Overheard after Swan Lake

"That shoulda been you on stage!"
"I know!"
"That could STILL be you!"
"I know!"

"You were dancing out of your MIND tonight!"
"Thank you."
"You've never danced better!"
"Thanks!"
"Promise me you won't go back to what you were doing before! You hit a new level. Now you have to stay there. Go further!"
"I will."
"You were great!"
"Thank you!"
"I am so proud of you!"
"Thanks!"

6.8.2007: Pratt-Fall

...On second thought, don't blame me for all the audio problems!

There's nothing more frustrating for a board operater than equipment malfunction. When I was running sound for the radio station and made a mistake, our chief engineer warned us not to blame it on the equipment, on "technical difficulties". It's an "operator error" he insisted. But, last night, was the opposite. I managed to catch a few "operator errors" before they happened, but, half-way through Swan Lake, the sound started cutting in and out on its own. I quickly backed off the output levels, but, the problem persisted. To make a long story short, we ended up calling the contact number provided by Pratt Audio. We demanded they bring some new equipment to the theater and pronto!

After an announcement, the audience waited patiently while we pulled and patched in a new power cord, new CD deck, new amp and mixer. Right in the middle of that, the stage manager walked up to us and said someone had kicked and damaged the stage-left monitor speaker cable and there was no replacement. We were going to run with just one monitor, but, the clipping problem kept occurring. Pratt's equipment guy then suggested we pull both monitors and just run with the main speakers. He suspected the amplifier built-in to the mixer couldn't power all four speakers at once. We realigned the two remaining speakers to face each other so the dancers and the audience could hear the output. Problem finally solved!

The good news is the dancers just continued performing through all the audio problems. We got a lot of compliments on the professional way the students ignored the technical snafus. And, the rest of the performance was top-notch! Pratt is promising to provide a seperate, more powerful amp for tonight's final performance (cross your fingers!) I just feel bad for last night's cast that rehearsed so hard, for so long only to have music problems distract from their performance. I feel very disappointed that graduating CCDC senior Elizabeth B won't have another chance to show how well she's capable of performing. But, live theater is life without a net! Darn that "equipment error" and the pitfalls of Pratt-falls!

6.8.2007: More Backstage at the Ballet

To keep me from wandering around backstage and getting underfoot during the recital, the Artistic Director assigned me to run the sound board. (This is an assignment I can handle because my background in radio news and production means I'm familiar with most mixer boards. If there's a problem with a music cue, you can blame me!) So, I have a headset on and can listen in on the chatter between stagehands and stage manager. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the stage manager is familiar with dance recitals because of an earlier gig where he worked with five different dance studios for eight years. It turns out the lighting board operator is a former dance student and made some interesting observations at last night's final CCDC dress and tech rehearsal:
"At least this isn't like the last dance studio that came in here!"
"I know what you mean! Especially, the pointe work..."
"Exactly! At least you're not worried they're going to trip and break an ankle or something! These dancers know what they're doing!"

...and...

"She's GOOD! That girl has some killer extensions!"

...and, at the end of Swan Lake...

"I LOVE that pose!"

Merde for performance! (It's bad luck to say good luck to a dancer, so the ballet superstition is to use the French term for excrement instead! "Break a leg" is used in the same vein, but, only for actors! One aspiring opera singer told me to say "sprain a vocal cord" for singers!)

6.7.2008: Backstage At The Ballet...And, Elsewhere!

The Director at the Harmon Center for the Performing Arts at Drake University had some nice things to say to CCDC instructors after the first dress rehearsal last night. Seems he's had some experience with dance school recitals. Used to direct a venue in the eastern part of the state. He said every spring/summer for eight years, they'd host five weekends of back-to-back recitals. So, he's seen about 40-different versions. And, he was impressed by the level of the Capital City Dance Center students. He says CCDC produces, by far, the best trained dancers overall he'd ever seen. He liked the ballet, but, he was most intrigued by the tap numbers. Says he appreciated the contemporary music and choreography instead of just old "show tunes". He'd never seen that before. Overall, nice for the teachers and volunteers to hear after a long day! Good work, guys!..Overheard the stagehands praising some of the dancers during the first dress run. "That chick in black is rockin' my world!" was how one put it...Overheard at the warm-up class on stage: "It's far better to fail attempting to achieve excellence... than it is to succeed at settling for mediocrity."...Just got a call from an out-of-town dancer's mom excited about Professor Randall Newsom teaching at the 2007 CCDC Summer Intensive next week. Her 17-year old daughter's returning to School of American Ballet this summer and is trying to work things out to travel here to take Newsom's classes before she heads to New York City. When we heard it would be her third year at SAB, we waived the first placement class requirement for non-CCDC dancers and told her to register at the Ballet VI Pre-Professional level...And, a note of caution to parents of non-CCDC students attempting to register their kids in higher levels for the Summer Intensive or Summer Workshops: the first class is always a placement class. If the teacher feels the student would benefit most from moving up or down from there, be open to that recommendation. Don't bother telling us "our child's taken a lot of ballet workshops from a lot of different teachers" or "she's been dancing since she was two" or "she's at the highest level at our school and is used to dancing with high-schoolers", it won't affect our decisions. The dancing speaks for itself. And, we prefer to promote students to higher levels rather than demote them. Having said that, realize that most new students coming in from other schools have had to start down an age-group...Finally, if you caught CCDC's little Anastasia D being interviewed by her father on the radio last month, a little correction. The 6-year old was fabulous...but, got our website wrong when she tried to plug the studio. Don't bother heading to "CCDC.Com" trying to find Capital City Dance Center. Unless you really want to learn more about the Calhoun County Development Commission! Maluhia out! ...and merde for tonight's dress and this weekend's performances!

6.1.2007: Hamer Hammers Homers!

CCDC Modern Dance Instructor Alissa Hamer (finally!) delivers her "gripping, tear-jerking, breath-taking" blow-by-blow description of her recent professional debut in the metro area:
"...Well I don't know that I can say that my first performance with Hurley and Dancers was "gripping or tear-jerking" but it did literally take my breath away. I forgot how much nerves can affect us performers!

Our performance took place at Johnston Mercy Hospice on a small stage set up outside and the weather could not have been more perfect. The sun was shining and it was about 78 degrees. I had to laugh at Kathleen who was putting on sun block even though we were underneath a tent (although it was a smart move because it did save her from a sunburn that day!) Kathleen and I had choreographed a short work to "The Promise" by Tracy Chapman. The ceremony we were dancing at was a butterfly release and it was called "Monarchs and Memories." Every year, family members and friends purchase a butterfly to release in the Healing Garden in remembrance of someone who they had lost to a terminal illness who was part of the hospice program. Our dance reflected the themes of healing and remembrance.

Just before I went onstage, I took a deep breath to try and calm my nerves. It didn't work very well. Kathleen introduced us and we took our places. I don't remember much after that other than I couldn't get on my leg for my turns and I almost tripped over my pants (who knew that could happen) but other than that, it went pretty well.

We received numerous compliments on the dancing and the music selection. One woman approached me after the performance and asked which song we used. She was in tears as she was telling me how she had recently lost her father-in-law and wanted to play the song we used at a memorial they were having for him in July. It's the moments like those that make all the preparation and hard work worthwhile.

Note: For you Facebook people out there, Brooke M. took some photos at the performance and they can be viewed on her page. Special thanks to Brooke for her beautiful photos!..."

6.1.2007: Watch This Space

Capital City Dance Center Modern Dance Instructor and Choreographer Alissa Hamer has been promising for a while now a "thrilling, gripping, tear-jerking" first-person account of her professional debut in the metro area. (Everything in quotes is our own hype!o)

Read it here first! And, if you see Alissa, be sure to tell her you're waiting for her contribution with bated breath! (C'mon, Hamer! Gitterdun!)

6.1.2007: The Difference Is CCDClear

So, there I was hard at work the other day. (That's for the boss. The rest of you can read that as "hardly at work") That's when two workers near by started discussing their kids' dance school experience. One dad was complaining about his daughter's competition studio costing him an "arm and a leg". And, how he bought her dance school "the equivalent of a Cadillac every year". And, how all he had to show for it every year were more closets full of sequined little costumes gathering more dust after every recital and competition. And, how, the worst thing was, she didn't even LIKE most of the other kids in her classes. Full of "cliques and clowns" was how he described it. The other Mom was sympathetic. Her son and daughter had taken classes at another school in the area. She couldn't believe the investment in time and money either. But, the bright spot according to her was when her kids made "show choir" and "dance team" at her local high school. "Doesn't cost them a thing!" she declared triumphantly!

This was when I decided to stick my two cents worth in and throw some fuel on the fire. They knew I was associated with a dance school and I knew they thought they were all the same. So, I joked, "Just sign your kids over to us! ...and while you're at it, just sign your paycheck over to us as well!" They just laughed in frustration.

You know why this was so funny? Speaking as a former stand-up comic, it's because it's SO NOT TRUE HERE AT Capital City Dance Center. What we do is much, MUCH WORSE! We teach proper technique and an appreciation for an art form. It's not just socializing, gossiping and showing off a cute new leotard, leg warmer, skirt or shrug. (In fact, NOTHING but leotard, tights and ballet slippers or pointe shoes allowed in ballet class!) What we do is much more insidious and can actually become a lifelong involvement with classical and contemporary dance forms...both as a performer and participant, and, as an observer and audience. It can become a positive addiction. And, "show choir" and "dance team" are NOT the solution to dance studios bent on separating you from your hard-earned income. "Performing" and "competing" are NOT the same as learning technique, building a repertory of classical steps and using them as "a means to greatest artistic self-expression". If you're looking at the economics, realize that a properly trained dancer can actually win scholarships, grants and tuition waivers to post-secondary education. And, the best dancers can even qualify to draw what are often known as "paychecks". You can actually get paid to do what you love. And, the most fortunate can even make a living performing or teaching.

Now, I think it may be too late for the kids of my two co-workers. (Fortunately, a third is taking classes at CCDC) Which is why I just joked with the two of them. Because once a child's been seduced by exposure to competition, fashion and socializing, it's often too late to supplant it with proper placement, technique and aesthetics. (That's not always true. We keep getting students from other schools who realize that something's missing in their so-called "training".) So, I can just shake my head in disbelief at my two co-workers complaints. Complaints like theirs are exactly why we do what we do every day at CCDC!

5.31.2007: Yes, Your Teen Is Crazy!

(Courtesy Newswise) — Meg Gerrard will be the first to admit that unraveling the adolescent mind is not an easy thing. Like most parents, she's even asked her teen daughters, "What were you thinking?" after one of them was caught in a risky behavior.

But now it's Gerrard -- an Iowa State University psychology professor -- who has tried to answer that question scientifically through analysis of research from the last 12 years on adolescent risk-taking.

Her analysis included research she conducted with ISU colleagues on more than 10,000 youths from across the country regarding such things as smoking, use of alcohol and/or drugs. She's found that one of the biggest reasons teens are so hard to figure out is because there is an impulsive element to their behavior.

"There's actually been a series of studies we've done over the last 10 or 12 years designed specifically to ask questions about what's going through their heads, or what's not going through their heads as they're making these decisions," she said. "And what's not going through their heads is a big part of the story.

"What's novel about this research is that we've demonstrated that quite a bit of adolescent decision-making is not reasoned on -- on any level," she said. "It's not because it's motivated behavior, or they've thought about how much they want to do it. It's because they just do it."

Her presentation detailed two ways humans process information to make decisions -- a more reasoned path that leads to intention to engage in a behavior; or a more intuitive path that leads to an openness or willingness to engage in a behavior. These two modes are always active in everybody, but a situation may lead an adolescent in one direction or another. Some people are more prone to operate in a more reasoned fashion, while others are more impulsive.

According to Gerrard, prior research on adolescent risk-taking behavior has treated teens like adults and assumed that they make reasoned decisions that lead to intentions to engage in specific behaviors. But she's found that their decisions are often not planned or even premeditated. Instead, they're reactive to "risk-conducive" circumstances that usually involve friends and peers.

"Parents ask kids, 'What were you thinking?' and they say, 'I don't know.' And they really don't know what they were thinking," she said.

Gerrard said that the initial risk-taking experience will influence an adolescent's intention to repeat the behavior in the future. They do consult their conscience over risk-taking, but not always in a classic "good vs. evil" way.

"From a kid's perspective, if you're operating in this more reasoned, thoughtful [experienced] mode -- then you have the proverbial devil and the angel over your shoulder," she said. "If you're operating in the more experiential [impulsive] mode, you don't even know the angel is there. Those things are not in your mind at all, and the devil's only saying, 'This could be interesting."

But the research indicates it's not just the devil that made them do it. When it comes to the impulsive mode, image is everything -- specifically distinct social images of the kind of person who engages in specific risk behaviors.

The good news, according to Gerrard, is that those images can be easily shaped so parents can steer their kids from future risky decisions.

"Kids have these images or prototypes in their heads of what kind of kid does this," she said. "There's a lot of agreement about these prototypes. They're formed very early -- we have evidence that they're formed when kids are 7 to 8 years old -- and it's not that difficult to change them. Oftentimes kids who are not willing to engage in a risk behavior are not willing because they don't have a favorable prototype [of someone engaging in that risk behavior]."

But Gerrard's study suggests that parents should really use two approaches when trying to keep kids from adopting risk behaviors.

"What I think most parents and most prevention programs try and do is get kids to think about the potential negative consequences before they engage in a behavior. That's good, but it's not enough," she said. "It needs reinforcement and you need to change how they think about people who exhibit those risky behaviors."

Gerrard hopes to change the way people think about teen risk-taking behavior through her research.

5.30.2007: The Web Lynx Prowls Again

CCDC Adult ballet classes anyone?:

"...There's something exciting about standing at the barre to stretch and plie. I'm beginning to understand why everyone remembers their training so fondly...."
Belly up to the barre at News Shopper.

Learning the steps is just the first part:

"...Dancers call it muscle memory. And while it obviously manifests itself physically as far as dance is concerned, what actually happens, according to neuroscientists, is that the movements become thoroughly mapped in the brain, creating a shorthand between thinking and doing...."

Access the rest from the International Herald Tribune.


Dance dreams do come true:

"...'Halfway through the class, Madam Vinogradova, she stopped the class and pointed at Annie and told her, 'I have offered you twice to come full time with a scholarship; this is the last time I tell you: You come in the fall or you don't come at all,' Gordon Cannon recalled...."
But, also...
"...But, she said, physical abilities aside, what remained to be seen was whether Annie Cannon had the passion for the work. Bergeron said that, in her experience, the students who will make it relish challenges; it only drives them on..."
Read the rest from the Hattiesburg American .

5.30.2007: And, Then, He Said...

"So, you wanna be a dancer, huh?"

...That's what the man who would become my teacher said to me after my first class with him (and no matter how many instructors a dancer has over his or her career, there are only one or two they ever call "my teacher". And, that phrase will probably be the start of the book I'll probably never write about my peripatetic dance career. I'm think of the title Dancing in the Minors: The Short and Fabulous Career of a Journeyman Ballerino. Either that or Have Dance Belt. Will Travel. What do you think?) I was sitting and sweating in the lobby of the old Honolulu City Dance Center after taking my first exhausting class from Ballet Master Nolan Dingman. I was there because one of the more advanced dancers at the University suggested I might like it. And, I did! But, I had nearly worked my derriere off! I had learned more in that 90-minutes than I had learned in 90-classes at my old school! Mister Dingman seemed pleased with my effort and he made that comment as he wandered through the lobby on the way to his office. Immediately after he left, all his regular students looked at me with a mixture of envy, hatred, admiration and curiosity.

My friend, Colleen Y, was shocked. "He never says that to anybody!", she whispered. And, after I had been training with Mister D for a few years, I learned that that was true. He generally left new dancers to his school alone, until they proved they wanted to learn what he had to offer. The extreme Balanchine barre and technique he taught was not for everyone.

But, why had he singled me out? It's not like I have a perfect body for ballet. I don't walk into a room like some students and everyone thinks automatically "He must be a dancer." So, why encourage me the way he had?

What he told me years later baffled me at the time, but, makes much more sense now that I've been teaching for awhile. He said, "You listen. And, you learn." Maybe it was my background as an athlete or assistant coach or martial artist. I thought everyone did that, but, since I've taught thousands of classes since then, I've learned it's not true. There have been a handful of dancers who listen to every correction and apply them instantly. One student could be in the middle of a combination and, even if I was on the other side of the room correcting someone else, she would adjust what she was doing even while doing an exercise. That presence of mind, ability and maturity is rarer than I thought. It's a quality that teachers look for and find seldom.

I seek out that attribute everyday in the students I teach now. And, when I see it (because it can come and go even in the same student), I think to myself "So, you wanna be a dancer, huh? Good! Now, let's begin..."

5.25.2007: More Prowling With Web Lynx

A recent NYCB R+J review:

"...New York City Ballet's "Romeo & Juliet" has four different sets of leads, and Saturday afternoon's performance featured Tiler Peck and Sean Suozzi, both of whom left much to read in the tea leaves...."

Catch the tale of the star-crossed lovers at The Sun.


One of the premiere schools in the country consistently "turning out" some of the best ballet dancers each year:

"...But ballet and life are fleeting, as Balanchine knew, and I hope these young dancers believe as I do that to dance Serenade that beautifully, the sacrifices were worth it...."

It's a different world at the very top of the ballet food chain. Find out more from the Chronicle.


Teaching the passion:

"...Dancing for the love of it -- perhaps she passed it on to her daughter, and certainly she tries to pass it on to each of her students. 'That's right, Susie!' she calls during petite allegro, correcting an assemblé. 'Like a little spear, a little javelin.' During the grand allegro, she turns stern. 'Don't do three turns if you're not sure about the ending. It has to be musical.' Then she cracks a knowing smile as if to add -- and you have to have fun with it..."

An update into the life of Sally Streets from the Chronicle.


5.23.2007: Argument for CCDC Adult Exercise and Dance Classes

(Courtesy Newswise) — Not only does exercise make most people feel better and perform physical tasks better, it now appears that exercise actually rejuvenates muscle tissue in healthy senior citizens.

A recent study, co-led by Buck Institute faculty member Simon Melov, PhD, and Mark Tarnopolsky, MD, PhD, of McMaster University Medical Center in Hamilton, Ontario, involved before and after analysis of gene expression profiles in tissue samples taken from 25 healthy older men and women who underwent six months of twice weekly resistance training, compared to a similar analysis of tissue samples taken from younger healthy men and women. The results of the study appear in the May 23 edition of the on-line, open access journal PLoS One.

The gene expression profiles involved age-specific mitochondrial function; mitochondria act as the “powerhouse” of cells. Multiple studies have suggested that mitochondrial dysfunction is involved in the loss of muscle mass and functional impairment commonly seen in older people. The study was the first to examine the gene expression profile, or the molecular “fingerprint”, of aging in healthy disease-free humans. Results showed that in the older adults, there was a decline in mitochondrial function with age. However, exercise resulted in a remarkable reversal of the genetic fingerprint back to levels similar to those seen in the younger adults. The study also measured muscle strength. Before exercise training, the older adults were 59% weaker than the younger adults, but after the training the strength of the older adults improved by about 50%, such that they were only 38% weaker than the young adults.

“We were very surprised by the results of the study,” said Melov. “We expected to see gene expressions that stayed fairly steady in the older adults. The fact that their ‘genetic fingerprints’ so dramatically reversed course gives credence to the value of exercise, not only as a means of improving health, but of reversing the aging process itself, which is an additional incentive to exercise as you get older.”

The study participants were recruited at McMaster University. The younger (20 to 35 with an average age of 26) and older (older than 65 with an average age of 70) adults were matched in terms of diet and exercise; none of them took medication or had diseases that can alter mitochondrial function. Tissue samples were taken from the thigh muscle. The six month resistance training was done on standard gym equipment. The twice-weekly sessions ran an hour in length and involved 30 contractions of each muscle group involved, similar to training sessions available at most fitness centers. The strength test was based on knee flexion.

The older participants, while generally active, had never participated in formal weight training said co-first author Tarnopolsky, who directs the Neuromuscular and Neurometabolic Clinic at McMaster University. In a four month follow up after the study was complete, he said most of the older adults were no longer doing formal exercise in a gym, but most were doing resistance exercises at home, lifting soup cans or using elastic bands. “They were still as strong, they still had the same muscle mass,” said Tarnopolsky. “This shows that it’s never too late to start exercising and that you don’t have to spend your life pumping iron in a gym to reap benefits.”

“The vast majority of aging studies are done in worms, fruit flies and mice; this study was done in humans,” said Melov. “It’s particularly rewarding to be able to scientifically validate something practical that people can do now to improve their health and the quality of their lives, as well as knowing that they are doing something which is actually reversing aspects of the aging process.” For more information, click here.

5.15.2007P Holden on to the Air

News of ballet master Stanley Holden's death is as poignant as it is unexpected. I spent a month taking classes from him at the old Stanley Holden Dance Center on West Pico Boulevard while auditioning for companies and watching as many performances of American Ballet Theater's residency at the Shrine Auditorium as I could afford (And, because of a USC coed I met at the nearby I-HOP that could get $5.00 student rush tickets, I got into a lot more than I could really afford!).

Mister Holden was always nice to me and treated me with respect. Even that first class I took from him, when I came in late from the airport and had to squeeze into a space at the barre. I'd left everything in an airport locker (long story) and only had a spare pair of sweats, shoes and sweater to take class in. There were as many as 50-or-60 dancers in that professional level class, many from ABT and we were crowded in like turned-out cattle at the barre. Eventually, it got so hot and I sweated so much I had to peel off the sweater and dance without a top. I knew it was bad form to do that in front of a teacher you hardly knew, but, it was either that or expiration from perspiration! But, Holden ignored the breach of etiquette and treated me with as much respect and deference as he did Mikhail Baryshnikov, who was also in that class. (Long story, but, Misha did not shed his top!)

I remember watching as Holden gently corrected Misha's en de dans turns, reminding him not to hike one shoulder higher than the other. Always tricky correcting a professional, especially, the man widely considered the best danseur of the 20th century barre none. But, Misha took the correction, thought about it a minute and promptly ripped off 7-or-8 inside pirouettes! Just a word to the wise is sufficient, a speech to fools means nothing.

I took more classes with Stanley Holden that long-ago March in the city of Lost Angels. Sometimes with Misha, Johann Renvall, Marianna Tcherkassky, Cynthia Harvey and other stars, soloists and corps of ABT. At first I was amazed and, then, I accepted that Stanley Holden treated me with the same deference and respect as if I, too, were a luminary from the professional ranks...and not a near-homeless, vagrant dancer-wanna-be from Hawai'i. The rampant meritocracy of the ballet world meant little to Stanley Holden. And, that's the reason his passing is so personally poignant and I hold on to those memories.

5.11.2007: Local Dancer Ready For Big Time Ballet

(Des Moines)-16-year old Catherine W___ of Des Moines had a big decision to make for her summer again this year. While most of her friends from Des Moines Roosevelt High School will be spending the next few months by the pool or at the mall, the aspiring ballerina will take her place at the barre alongside some of the best young dancers in the country. W___, who started taking dance classes when she was just three, auditioned for and was accepted to summer programs at the Joffrey Midwest, Washington Ballet, Tulsa Ballet on scholarship and American Ballet Theatre/California and Alabama. She's already been to the Joffrey Midwest program twice, Boston Ballet and Washington Ballet’s Summer Programs in the past. And, W___ says she's choosing to attend American Ballet Theater’s Summer Intensive in Irvine, California this year.

"I decided on ABT’s program because I wanted to challenge myself over the summer," said W___. "It's important to build on what you learn during the year and to get exposure at the national level. The competition and experience will be good for me and I can do that best at American Ballet Theatre."

W___ currently trains in ballet, pointe, modern and tap dance at Capital City Dance Center (GoCCDC.Com) in Urbandale. And, she's not the only CCDC Preprofessional Program student accepted to Summer Dance Programs around the country. 16-year old Sean L___ of West Des Moines was accepted to Joffrey Midwest, the Milwaukee Ballet School with a full-tuition scholarship and the prestigious School of American Ballet in New York City. 16-year old Sarah K___ of Ames was accepted to Joffrey Midwest, the Kirov Academy of Washington D.C. and the Kansas City Ballet School. 16-year old Emily V___ of Urbandale and ISU Sophomore Hanna C___ of Des Moines were accepted to the Milwaukee Ballet School Summer Session. C___ was accepted at the highest level. And, 15-year old Maggie H___ of Clive was accepted to Joffrey Midwest, the Kirov Academy of Washington D.C. and the Pacific Northwest Ballet School.

And, additionally, 18-year old Sarah Z___ of Clive was accepted to dance programs at the University of Oklahoma, University of Missouri, Kansas City and the University of Iowa. And, 18-year old Elizabeth B___ of West Des Moines was accepted to the dance program at the University of Iowa.

"Catherine's ready to compete at a national level," said CCDC Artistic Director Melissa Uyehara. "She's been working very hard the last few years. And, it's good for her to watch what other students around the country are capable of at her age. She has to keep in mind she'll probably be auditioning for jobs or schools against these same girls in a few years."

"I'm very excited," said W___. "Every year, CCDC offers an early summer intensive that helps get their students ready for the national level programs. And, the guest faculty and classes look awesome again this year!"

Capital City Dance Center offers its annual Summer Dance Intensive this year from June 11 to June 23. Guest instructors include Professor Randall Newsom of Northern Illinois University, Washington Ballet Principal Dancer and former Iowan Jason Hartley, Kim Nygren-Cox of the Louisville Ballet, former Des Moines Ballet Principal Dancer Lynn Andlauer-Rehling and modern dancer/choreographer Kathleen Hurley of Grinnell College. CCDC also offers a full array of one-week or once-a-week Summer dance workshops from June to August.

Capital City Dance Center's mission is to offer world-class dance education to challenge and stimulate students of all ages to greatest artistic expression and a life-long involvement with the art of dance at all levels. Find out more at WWW.GoCCDC.Com.

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5.9.2007: Time 2 Talk of Many Thingz

The last few days, three students approached me seperately after class to ask questions about stretching and strengthening. So, I thought this might be a good time to cover the basics. First of all, if you're going to be attending the full 2007 CCDC Summer Intensive (the Guest Faculty announcement has been quietly placed in the Faculty and Summer pages for about a week now), be sure to take the first week's "Dancer Warm-up Class" before morning ballet session. I'll go over the full hour warm-up sequence I developed for myself during my career as a professional dancer. It's a little bit of Pilates, Hatha Yoga, modern and ballet warm-ups that I adopted over the years. Maybe even a little input I got from a former professional contortionist I met during open gym at Makiki rec classes when I was training with the Waikiki Acrobatic Troupe. We could spend a lot of time every ballet class in stretching, but, I follow the guidelines developed by my teacher. Nolan Dingman maintains that almost anyone can stretch on their own, but, you need a good teacher to keep an eye on dance technique during class. So, after you show a few stretches you want your dancers to work on, they should take the ball and run with it by stretching on their own time. He told me not to squander precious class time doing stretches that students should be doing on their own. The good thing about the Summer Intensive warm-up is that I'll be able to spend a lot of time showing and leading the warm-up that helped keep me relatively injury-free throughout my career.

One of the questions was:
"Should I do a Pilates work-out or crunches?"
Do both or alternate each day. The second week's warm-ups before the 2007 CCDC Summer Intensive morning ballet session will be lead by certified Pilates instructor Kim Nygren-Cox. Learning the correct technique and breathing patterns is essential to proper Pilates matwork. It's all about strengthening the core muscles. And, as I tell my students all the time, you have to have the strength to control your middle before you can truly control your extremities. And, one of our other instructors walking by also suggested calf raises on a step everyday. Do a full set of eight slow, then, fast with both legs and, then, singly. Build up to several sets of eight. Make sure you feel the burn. If you don't have the strength to control your ankles, your balances will always be suspect. You can also use a theraband or press your hand on your ankles for resistance in ankle circles.

Another question was:
"What stretches do you recommend I do before class?"
Well, we'll go into depth on that during the Intensive as I mentioned. But, after you do your crunches every day, pick three areas on your body to stretch every day as well. When I was training for a professional career, I decided to work on my feet, my turn-out and my back. It may be different for you. Identify your weak points and tight spots. Work on them a little every day...or, even better, a lot everyday. The younger you are when you start, the better chance you have of changing your body for the better. Just don't be discouraged when you grow. The bones and muscles grow at different rates and you can one day be a lot tighter than the next. Just keep stretching every day to loosen things back out. Another big tip is partner stretches. Get someone to help you stretch gently, but, persistently. Learn the difference between the discomfort of a stretch and the pain of over-stretching. If you're really tight, hold your maximum stretches for thirty seconds at a time or longer. And, use the yoga secret to stretching: breathing. Don't hold your breath while you're stretching. Long, slow deep breaths. Extend on the inhale. Stretch on the exhale. Most experts advise against ballistic stretching (bouncing when you stretch), but, I don't think gentle movement while stretching will be counter-productive.

The last question was:
"How do you get your splits?"
Stretch all the components of your split. Hold deep lunges on both legs. Work your straddles by stretching forward and over both legs and sideways. Do that consistently and, then, while you're in your straddle, flip over your hips into a split. Breathe and relax for at least thirty seconds. If you can stand it, get someone to gently push you down closer to the floor. Consistent stretching is important. It's like brushing your teeth for a dancer. Don't just do it once a week!

Here's a non-stretch related question for anyone considering auditioning for the role of Clara for The Radio City Rockette's Christmas Spectacular this December. Would you want to attend a special "Curriculum to Learn Accelerated Repertory Activities" or "C.L.A.R.A" classes? It would build on the Summer Intensive to get small young girls more experience and expertise en pointe. (They're looking for girls experienced en pointe 4'11" or smaller.) This would only be for girls already enrolled in CCDC Summer Intensive and/or Summer Workshop pointe classes. Any interest? Just send a message on the "Contact" page! (This could possibly be open to taller girls in this age group who want more classes en pointe) If there's enough interest, we'll see if we can find a time!

5.2.2007: More on the Mystery of the Missing Ballerina

Okay, here's some input already from the Krisko Kid on the topic du jour:
"...Been following the NYCB story on a message board or two. None of the students have been cast in the first week. It remains to be seen whether any will dance later on, but insiders are saying that only one of the girls (don't know if it's Callie or not) is still rehearsing the part. The others all stopped being called for rehearsals at various points last month... Verrrry interesting..."

...and this just in from New York:
"...Callie injured her knee, so is unable to perform, but an apprentice with NYCB (still technically an SAB student) will be dancing the role later this week..."

And, here's an early blog post review of R+J:
"...It takes artistry, though, and perhaps “star quality” — whatever exactly that is — to make the characters live and breath and move the audience to the edge of their seats, and you just can’t do that, no matter how hard you try if you’re too inexperienced...."

Read the entire review from SwanLakeSambaGirl.


5.2.2007: Star-Crossed Dancers

Here's a suggestion for a website that could prove addicting to a lot of dance fanatics...(OK, addicting to me anyway!) Lots of great content refreshed often with videoclips of an insider's backstage view of New York City Ballet's production of Peter Martin's Romeo and Juliet. It's at TragicLoveNYC.Com. One of the members of NYCB is also a budding videographer/film-maker. And, Kristin Sloan's been posting weekly videoclips leading up to this week's premiere of R+J. (And, speaking as a non-linear digital audio editor myself, very good job on the professional looking video content!) Interviews with Martins, two of the leads, character dancers, the conducter, costumer, stage manager, etc. It's the next best thing to being there!

But, not being there for my favorite ballet also leads to a bigger mystery that I haven't really had a chance to try and unravel from a distance yet. An earlier post about local dancer turned SAB student, Callie Bachman, getting cast as one of the Juliets isn't getting much mention or corroboration on articles on websites including this one. Does that mean she's out? Injured? Not good enough? Or, is she just letting other casts get more publicity since she got the cover of Pointe Magazine? Enquiring minds wanna know!

The world premiere of NYCB's Romeo and Juliet was Tuesday night. I'll post some links to reviews as they become available. Maybe we'll figure out where in the world is Callie Bachman? If you have a clue, drop me a note, please.


Also, a few days ago I found a documentary posted on-line about students at a European State school of dance. Belgium, I think it was. With subtitles in five seperate videoclips at, where else?, YouTube.Com! Filmed over the course of a year in the lives of four dance students training for professional careers. How they deal with injuries, guest choreographers, love and friendly competition. Make sure you set aside an hour to watch the whole thing! Talk about addicting for dancers! Check it and maluhia out!

5.2.2007: From The E-Mail Grab Bag


Courtesy Newswise — A new study of breast cancer survivors practicing Iyengar yoga – a form of yoga that incorporates all of the components of physical fitness and focuses on structural alignment of the body as well as mental relaxation – has found that breast cancer survivors who practice yoga have changes in the way their immune cells respond to activation signals, which may be important for understanding how physical activity and meditative practices benefit the immune system. The function of genes in immune cells can be regulated by proteins called transcription factors. Transcription factor nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-?B) is linked to immune cell activation and to the stress response.

This study demonstrates that an active yoga practice taught in the Iyengar tradition can be successfully offered to breast cancer survivors who are approximately four years out from initial cancer diagnosis and who are receiving certain types of hormonal therapy. It also shows that the program can have important psychological benefits for breast cancer survivors. This study is an important addition to the literature on the effectiveness of yoga intervention on the quality of life for female breast cancer survivors and that these changes may be associated with cell signaling regulating lymphocyte function. (Editor's Note: I included this information because I'm convinced dance training could offer similar benefits.)


The Governor is appointing Cyndi Pederson as director of the Department of Cultural Affairs. Chet Culver says, “I am pleased that Cyndi Pederson has agreed to serve as the permanent director of the Department. Her experience and passion in the arts will serve the state well as she continues to lead this agency.” In 1998, she served as a member of former Governor Tom Vilsack’s transition team and was named Chief of Staff to former First Lady Christie Vilsack. In 2005, Pederson joined the Department of Cultural Affairs as Coordinator for the Great Places initiative, which combines state resources with local assets to make local communities great places where people want to live, work and play. In July 2006, she was appointed interim deputy director, and was named by Governor Culver as interim director in January 2007. Pederson also worked with the Secretary of State’s office to develop the Capitol Project, which brought high school students to the capital city to learn about government first hand. “I am honored to receive this appointment as Director of the Department of Cultural Affairs...We are all aware how important arts, culture and history are in order to create a creative economy...which is vital to the growth and prosperity of our state,” Cyndi Pederson said. Pederson earned a Bachelor of Arts in art education from Iowa State University in 1979.

4.27.2007: Overheard in CCDC Pre-Professional Dance Classes

"What's it take to turn coal into diamonds? It takes pressure! Pressure from a teacher that pushes the coal to even greater crystalline heights than it ever dreamed possible! You are the coal! I am that teacher! Can you stand the pressure? Can you take the heat? Or, will you stay sooty forever?"

"What's it take to turn raw unpolished diamonds into jewels? It takes MORE pressure...and friction! And the only thing that is hard enough to polish a diamond...is another diamond that's been there, done that! Dust from an old diamond is the only thing strong enough to transform a raw diamond into a glistening jewel...and an old teacher that understands the carat and stick approach!"

"What's it take to transform a caterpillar into a butterfly? When the time is right, it spins a cocoon and emerges later metamorphasized into a gorgeous winged creature! But, what most people don't realize are the tremendous changes that have to take place inside that cocoon. THIS studio is your cocoon! You can become that butterfly on stage! Or your chance will just flutter by."

"What's it take to transform iron into steel? It takes tremendous heat and pressure to transform soft iron into shimmering steel! You are that raw iron! I am the blacksmith! This class and these combinations are your fire!"

"What do you think that coal and unpolished diamonds and caterpillars and soft iron have in common with you? THEY ALL have to learn how to become the best they can be! It's NOT easy to challenge yourself every class! But, if you have a dancer's heart, you will thrive in the competition and thirst for corrections. You will endure all the heat and the pressure and you will emerge cleaner, stronger and dance more beautifully than you ever dreamed possible. ...Now, let's get started."

4.26.2007: Summer Faculty Advisory

The official announcement of the 2007 Capital City Dance Center Summer Intensive Guest Faculty is just daze away! We're waiting for arrival of the lengthy resume' and bio of our first week's featured instructor. And, just a hint about the rest of the CCDC intensive's line-up of guest teachers: it features current and former professionals who are returning by popular demand. Including a former Iowan who's performing and choreographing in the "big leagues" of ballet! Remember, you can sign up for the CCDC Summer Intensive and Summer Workshops and reserve your space in class on-line now!!

4.25.2007: Official Audition Announcement

Radio City will be conducting auditions for young ballerinas for the role of Clara in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular starring the Rockettes at the Civic Center of Greater Des Moines this Christmas season.

Young dancers must be trained in ballet and have at least one year of experience en pointe. Be 4’11” or under and be between 10 and 14 years of age. Live in the Des Moines area (within 1 hour of the Civic Center of Greater Des Moines)

  • WHEN:                      MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 24
  • WHERE:                   CAPITAL CITY DANCE CENTER

                                        2962 99th Street, Urbandale, IA 50322
  • WHAT TO BRING:  Pointe Shoes and Ballet attire
                                        Picture and Resume (optional)
You will be taught choreography so there will be no need to prepare anything. If chosen, the young dancer will receive a weekly salary and perform onstage at the Civic Center for Greater Des Moines.  She and a parent or guardian will need to be available for the show from late November to December 31, including many school days. Professional academic tutoring and coordination with the dancers’ home schools will be provided.   TO RESERVE A SPACE, please send an email with your name, address, phone number and email address to searchforclara@yahoo.com.


For more information, visit RadioCityAuditions.Com

4.25.2007: With The Greatest of Ease

Courtesy Newswise — At the University of New Hampshire, students twist and flip in the air, taking advantage of the university’s nationally recognized aerial dance program and a style of dance that has been popularized around the world by Cirque du Soleil.

UNH’s Theatre and Dance Department is known as the premier public university where students can learn aerial dance. While universities and colleges around the nation offer bachelor’s degrees in dance or dance performance, UNH has been thoroughly incorporating aerial dance into its curriculum for five years.

The UNH Aerial Dance program was introduced in 2002 by Gay Nardone, associate professor of dance. Founded in the 1970s by Terry Sendraff, aerial dance has skyrocketed in popularity with Americans because of the success of Cirque du Soleil. The first Cirque show was launched in 1984; today 8 million people see Cirque each year.

“My idea to add aerial dance began as an interest in knowing how to work aerial apparatuses for a dance concert incorporating circus skills. I met and worked with circus performers and aerialists. At that time I began studies with two aerialists who have been at the root of my training,” Nardone says.

Nardone trained (and continues to train) with Elsie Smith and Serenity Smith Forchion, former duo-trapeze aerialists in Cirque du Soleil’s Saltimbanco. In 2003, the sisters founded the Nimble Arts Trapeze and Circus School in Brattleboro, VT. Because of Nardone’s personal connection with them, UNH students also have the chance to train with the artists.

Today, UNH’s aerial dance program incorporates a number of apparatuses: single, double and triple trapezes; fabric; lyra (aerial hoop); rope; straps; sling; the Spanish web; and the hammock.

Several UNH aerialists have landed positions with professional dance companies because they could fly. Most recently two dance and aerial students were hired for the National Equity touring company of Pippin with aerial dance added to the production.

“I always have needed a different kind of floor so that I could get a different kind of sound for my tap dance. I moved out to the apron and from there I started to wonder where else I could go, and the answer was up. What UNH does here is now changing with the professional dance world. Broadway would be a good example; there were five shows in the last season that included aerial arts,” Nardone says.

4.20.2007: Checking The E-mail Bag

...And a note like this is what keeps us teaching:
"...Thanks so much for caring so much for my girls. It means the world to me. We plan on being with you until we graduate...We know that what you and Emery are doing for (our daughters) is what is bringing them to the next level. I am never shy to tell anyone that. This past weekend (our youngest daughter) did a workshop and was told by the jazz judge, "You are trained so well!!" I know that is because of you!!!!!"

4.17.2007: Prowling Web Lynx

A real doctor answers this inquiry:
"I'm a 13-year-old ballet dancer and I have pain on the back inside part of my ankle when I go en pointe..."
Check out the answer and advice from the Miami Herald

A legendary name in American ballet getting set to pass on the baton:
"...The choreographer who helped the late Robert Joffrey launch his namesake ballet company is set to step down from his post after more than 50 years with the U.S. dance institution..."
Here's a link to the story at Canadian Broadcasting Company

Warning! Spoiler Alert! If you haven't watched the latest Dancing With The Stars, don't click on this!
"...On Dancing With the Stars, the rumba and samba bring out the sizzle in some top contenders; plus, we're treated to chest-waxing, a love triangle, and Carol Brady..."
If you've watched it already you can read writer Annie Barret's TV blog and post snarky comments at the Entertainment Weekly Website.

4.16.2007: The Legend of Swan Lake

Once upon a time, in a land far, far from farfegnugen (long before the automobile was even invented, in fact), there lived a handsome young prince. (And, no, that is not redundant. For every William, there is a Chuck after all!) And, all the young girls in the kingdom were all atwitter one fine day. Preparations were getting underway for Prince Siegfried's birthday celebration and the rumor was, now that he had come of age, the Queen would command him to take a bride! All the eligible young women in the country were hoping against hope that it would be them. So, they were busy helping each other frantically primp up for the Prince's arrival.

Suddenly, the royal trumpets sound the fanfare for the uncommon man. Siegfried is arriving earlier than expected! Bedlam breaks loose as last-minute preparations and prettifying hurriedly take place!

The Prince bursts on the scene and greets the townsfolk. A few tweak protocol and break ranks to introduce themselves to Siegfried. And, the big dance of the pleasant peasants pleases the Prince. But, before another step can be taken, another fanfare signals the arrival of the Queen and her young courtiers.

The Queen congratulates her son on coming of age. She commands a royal present to be revealed. It is a state of the art crossbow! But, as soon as it is uncovered, she waves it away. Enough time for hunting and weapons of war later. Instead, it's time for the big mother-to-son, Queen-to-Crown Prince heart-to-heart. She tells him now that he is old enough, it is time to pick a bride and produce a Royal Heir to the throne. The Queen dismisses his protests that he has not met anyone that he truly loves. She says true love is not always for heads of state. And, if he doesn't choose a proper bride, she will arrange a marriage for him. Then, she waves to the crowd and disappears inside the castle.

But, before the Prince can fully express his disappointment, the young courtiers begin to dance. And, then, two bold peasant girls convince him it is time to dance with them. And, because dancing is a joy to him, he can't dwell on maternal commands or demands while he is so engaged. But, one can't dance forever and reality intrudes when the trio is finished.

And, even in the middle of a crowded courtyard and frolicking festivities, the Prince feels isolated and alone. He cannot refuse the direct order of the Queen Mother, but, he only wishes to find his soul-mate, someone he can love with all his heart who will love him back as much. Why must life be so difficult? Siegfried is feeling the pressure of his situation, when two of the young courtiers return with his mother's gift: the crossbow!

But, even the state-of-the-art weaponry can distract him from his frustration only so long. He sets it aside and imagines meeting and dancing with a special someone. When he's done, the melancholy Prince retrieves his crossbow. That's when something high in the sky catches his eye. A flock of majestic swans, silhouetted above the sunset, is circling the courtyard. He watches the beautiful birds begin to land in a distant part of the forest that people seldom visit. There was a lake there rumored to be of a mother's tears. Siegfried would go there and hunt game to take his mind off his troubles.

Thus ends Act One. Act Two, is the meeting and courtship of Odette, the Queen of the Swans and Crown Prince Siegfried.

The Prince arrives in a deep and hidden part of the eternal forest. In the distance is a lake where the swans have landed. He is aiming at one of them when, suddenly, it morphs into a human being, a lovely young woman adorned with white feathers. What strange magick be this! He watches in wonder as all the swans transform into young women. Finally, the most beautiful of all the swans arrives. Surely it must be the Queen! Yes, it is Princess Odette and she turns into the most lovely of all the young lasses. Siegfried's heart melts. His prayers are answered, he is lost in love. He resolves to meet her.

But, that first meeting doesn't go well, Odette is frightened and tries to flee the handsome stranger. But, even as she tries to elude the Prince's grasp, she realizes, too, that her heart is also lost. Come with me, says the Prince. I cannot, says Odette. I am under a spell. That lake you see is made up of my mother's tears. The vile necromancer Rothbarta has condemned me to fly as a swan by day...and dance as a young girl all night. The only way the spell can be broken is by a true love that never strays. But, the Prince is nothing but persistent. And, finally, Odette realizes her heart overrules her head and she timidly approaches as he goes to bent knee.

But, just then, the dread sorceress Rothbarta bursts on the scene disguised as a gigantic owl. (Editor's note: Usually played by a man in most professional productions. Title IX strikes again!o) She is enraged! She had been planning to marry her own daughter, Odile, to the Crown Prince and Odette was ruining the best laid plans of sorceresses and necro-monsters. Rothbarta chases the Prince off in flurry of fury! She laughs mightily to herself once he's gone. Absolute power has driven her absolutely insane. Rothbarta summons the flock of swans to dance for her pleasure, finally revealed as young maidens all, transformed and enslaved by dread magick, most fowl.

The swans dance and dance and dance some more. But, unbeknownst to the Sorceress, the Prince returns to woo his troth to Odette. The act ends in a heartbreaking, yet, love affirming pas de deux. The final scene is a tableaux of tenderness and a tribute to love as the curtain falls.

Thus ends Act Two. The final one or two acts not performed tonight, tell the tale of the Sorceresses' Revenge. Rothbarta transforms her daughter into the Black Swan Queen, Odile. A duplicate in every detail of the White Swan Queen, Odette. (Editor's note: Most often, in modern professional productions, one ballerina portrays the duality. It is considered a pivotal, make-or-break role in the development of an aspiring young dancer. Just as Swan Lake is considered le blanc du blanc, la creme de la creme, the purest test of all the white ballets.) The famous 32 fouette' turns are performed in the ballroom scene as Odile bedazzles the Prince into swearing his love to her. That seals Odette's fate and the spell of the Swan Queen can never be broken. In most versions, she throws herself into the Lake of her mother's tears. And, the Prince, heartbroken at being tricked into betraying his one true love, soon follows. But, many modern versions dispense with the tradition of tragedy and show the lovers triumph instead. Whichever future full-length version you will hopefully watch and/or perform, know that Le Lac du Cygnes has a legacy that reaches back centuries, spans the continents and has survived the test of time, one dancer and audience member at a time.

4.13.2007: Foot Notes

Courtesy Newswise — The human foot is a marvel of biomechanical engineering that most of us take for granted until the system fails or breaks down. The average person will walk the equivalent of twice around the world in a lifetime, which is a long time on your feet.

Podiatrists who are part of the UCLA Medical Group offer the following tips for helping maintain healthy feet and avoiding complications. The physicians are board-certified, provide comprehensive diagnosis and treatment of all foot and ankle conditions, and also have expertise in the management of diabetic foot problems and sports injuries.

10 Tips to Maintain Healthy Feet

  1. Inspect your feet regularly and pay attention to changes in color, texture or appearance.
  2. Maintain good foot hygiene, including washing and drying between the toes.
  3. Hydrate the skin. ...(Summer) weather and open shoes can cause rapid loss of moisture from the skin and may result in cracking or the formation of fissures. It is helpful to replace the moisture content by using lotions or creams on a regular basis.
  4. Buy proper-size shoes. You may not wear the same size in shoes made by different manufacturers. Purchase new shoes late in the day, when feet tend to be at their largest. Always buy the shoes that feel the best.
  5. Don’t ignore foot pain. Symptoms that increase or do not resolve within a reasonable period of time need to be evaluated by your podiatric physician.
  6. Cut toenails straight across. Never cut into the corners — this could cause an ingrown toenail. Gently file away sharp corners or rough edges with an emery board. (Editor's Note: Many dancers ignore this advice. Judge from your own experience.)
  7. Exercise. Walking is a great way to keep weight under control and is an excellent conditioner for the feet. Be sure to wear appropriate athletic shoes when exercising.
  8. Alternate your shoes each day. Since the feet have sweat glands, your shoes will absorb moisture from your feet, so it is important to allow your shoes to dry out completely.
  9. Avoid walking barefoot to help protect your feet from injury and infection.
  10. Put sunblock on your feet while wearing sandals during the day to avoid sunburn.

4.11.2007: Audition Notice

We can make the announcement official now. Radio City Music Hall of New York City will be holding auditions at Capital City Dance Center, 4:00pm, Monday, September 24th. (Regular CCDC classes will be rescheduled from that day.) They're looking for two Claras for their Rockette's Christmas Spectacular. It's coming to the Civic Center this December. Auditions begin at 4:00, but, come before that to sign up and get ready early. The Rockettes will be casting two girls, 4'10" or under who are strong en pointe to share the role. This is a paid contracted position. Dancers have to live within an hour's drive of the Civic Center. It'll look great on the resume', be an excellent experience and, hopefully, will be the first of many professional dancer paychecks! We'll have more word on any Rockette workshops to be held at CCDC for other dancers. Those have yet to be confirmed. But, if I were a short girl, I'd start training hard now, taking as many of those good CCDC ballet and pointe classes I could this spring and summer to get ready for September 24th! Start spreadin' the news!

4.11.2007: Costume Crusader

Had an interesting conversation with a mother and daughter looking to switch from another studio last week. The daughter told me she was looking for something more challenging. She was tired of "just waving her arms around" in class all the time. And, the mom was looking for a studio that didn't charge "an arm and a leg" for recital costumes. When I told her the prices we charged for costumes this year, she exclaimed "They're not over a hundred dollars each?!" Good time to point out that CCDC doesn't inflate the prices we get for costumes. We don't view it as an opportunity to make a profit for us. We charge pretty much our cost to our dancers and their families. (By comparison, most studios have a standard hundred percent mark-up rate.) And, we've slowly been building a wardrobe of professional level costumes and tutus over the years that we can rent to students allowing us to hold down total costs even more. We don't want to do away with costumed recitals altogether because we consider the annual Spring Ballet and Recital as another learning and performing opportunity for our aspiring dancers. Not as an opportunity to make more money. Talk to parents from other studios about their costume costs as a comparison.

4.11.2007: Dancin' With the B-List Celebrities

It's hard to time-shift DWTS successfully. I was channel-surfing idly one night, and the announcer said "Coming up! The contestant just booted off Dancing With The Stars!" And, before I could seize the remote, they flashed video of the former Miss USA on the screen. So, much for not knowing the results before I watched the replay this weekend! And, a friend of mine warned me that Leeza Gibbons scores seemed to be inflated (I agree BTW). That takes a little of the "live" edge off watching the show on delay. Takes all the fun out of guessing the scoring! The results show is going on as I write this, but, I'm waiting to teach another class. So, do me a favor, if you wanna talk about the show, let's talk about last week! Yes, I'm a weak behind! Sew sioux me!...and the more I see Heather Mills dance, the more impressed I am. If I lost a leg, I'd be holding a constant "pity party" starring me front and center. She doesn't care to waste time like that and is working hard to reinvent herself as a serious contender for the mirror-ball trophy. My hats off to her! I was prepared to dislike her for being the gold-digging tramp who's battling for Paul McCartney's Beatle billions in their bitter divorce proceedings. (Notice not one word about the ex-Beatle ever mentioned on the show! She's described as a "human rights activist", not "wife-of-former-rock-star-god".) But, now, I think she's proper role model for all the disabled out there. And, as one judge pointed out, we all have our handicaps, don't we?

4.4.2007: NewTube and Ol' Boob Tube

By the time I get this on the web, another contestant will have been eliminated from ABC's Dancing With The Stars. So, I'm about a weak behind, sioux me! I'm blaming a killer rehearsal and teaching schedule (and constant, constant Swan Lake music editing!). I know the dancers all think I'm "killing" them, but, it takes a lot of prep to do all the coaching and teaching properly. I just learned over the weekend that former super-model Paulina Porizkova, the blank Czech, was bounced for insufficient fun. (You know she was in trouble when her professional partner greeted her with "My *dad* has pictures of you on his wall!" Ouch!) I thought she did relatively well, but, someone had to go first. I'm thinking Billy Ray "the swamp bear" Cyrus, Clyde "the glide" Drexler and that former Miss USA are on the short list of short timers. And, the "rich" just keep getting "richer" with Apolo Anton Ono, Joey Fatone, Laila Ali and Ian on my list of serious contenders. In fact, that Laila Ali may become the first female star to land a body-blow to the male dominant trend and make a serious run for that glittering mirror-ball trophy. Still you should never count out a two-time defending champ (And, former ballet dancer Cheryl Burke) until she's taken out. But, oh, yes, an increasing favorite with a few of the younger CCDC females is that Ono. And, oh, no truth to the rumor that Apolo's going to give up Olympic speed skating to take up mixed pairs figure skating! (No Blades of Glory sequel here!)...And, the anticipation's building for season three of Fox Television's So You Think You Can Dance. That should be coming up shortly. I hear the Chicago auditions were a few weeks ago. I also hear rumors that a local dancer flew to the LA auditions, waited for three hours in line and was cut after twenty seconds on stage! But, don't expect to see any of that on TV. That kind of heartbreak usually ends up on the cutting room floor. Rejected even before you can be ejected. You have to love dancing a lot to put up with so much ego-crushing brutality. Let's hope the you-need-good-training message gets driven home because it's the only edge a dancer will ever have. And, that's what CCDC is all about...And, I finally made good on my threat and searched for Baryshnikov on YouTube.Com. And, I hit the gold mine! There were some video clips I'd never seen before. Including rare footage of a performance in the Soviet Union before his defection. There's archival footage of him in Aleksander Pushkin's class when he was a student on Theater Street. There's also a duet from ABT's full length Don Q I'd never seen before between him and the late Patrick Bissel, another of Nolan Dingman's former students. (Bissel actually dropped by the old Honolulu City Dance Center to take class from his old teacher while vacationing in Hawai'i. Mr. D asked him to demonstrate a male variation for the kids in the class. Even though he was admittedly out-of-shape, he responded with a space-eating grand menage that circled our small studio twice and knocked their sox off! I missed it because I was working at the time. But, everyone made sure the next day to tell me what I missed. Ouch!) It's also instructive to watch Baryshnikov's variation as Basilio and how it changed from his student performance behind the Iron Curtain. There's also an interview of him lamenting his "failures" during his tenure as ABT's artistic director...And, while you're at YouTube, be sure to search for Anaheim Ballet. They're taking advantage of the new exposure outlet on the internet to feature their dancers and upcoming season. I like their dancer profiles. It's a stronger company than you expect. You can also sign up for their weekly video podcasts...and, also do a YouTube search for Backstage at the Kirov. There are two clips that offer a rare glimpse for Westerners into the venerable hierarchy of one of the oldest and, still, best companies in the world...Okay, do you have any hot tips for me? Maluhia out!

3.29.2007: Whee! Got Mail!

Here's a follow-up suggestion from a Dread, But Misunderstood, Sorceress:
"...I thought I'd google Callie B to see what the hype is--she's got an impressive resume already judging by the list of links--didn't have time to look at many, but thought you might be interested..."

...and here's an e-note from the long-lost Prince Dimaray:
"...I was browsing online the other day, more specific Natalia Makarova's videos on youtube based on your recommendations from goccdc.com website. I found several very interesting videos of a young male dancer whose name is Daniil Simkin. Daniil was born in 1987 in Russia to a ballet family. The family left Russia for the west in 1990 and after several international engagements settled in Wiesbaden, Germany, where Daniil first stepped on stage (more info on his website in bio) Check some of his videos in his video section, the guy is amazing! There are several videos of him on youtube as well and being as young as he is, he already has so many fans and responses for his incredible technique and outstanding presence on stage.

Just thought you might be interested in checking out future Barishnikov. Some of the remarks on youtube from other viewers were "He even looks like the young barushnikov!! He will be a legend, bigger than barysh. or nureyev! ", or this one 'Maybe he is the Baryshnikov's son!!!'..."


...Keep those cards, letters and blank cheques comin', folks!

3.28.2007: Tutu the Pointe

Okay. Not often when a dancer with local roots makes the cover of a national magazine. But, that's the case with the latest issue of Pointe Magazine. You can see a .jpeg of 16-year old Callie Bachman on the cover at the website, but, when I last checked the rest of the info on the site hadn't been updated. (Thanks to the "misunderstood" Sorceress Rothbarta for bringing in a hard copy of the mag last night.) Apparently, Callie and two other SAB students will make their debut with NYCB in Peter Martins' Romeo and Juliet. Much as I hope the best for Ms Bachman, it's a risky move for Martins and City Ballet. The best case scenario is the technically proficient girls will be able to bring a freshness and genuine feel to the youthful Juliet. The worst case would be a lack of emotional depth and superficial character to a pivotal role. Will it prove to be an artistic risk worth taking? Or, just at best, a publicity stunt? Only time will tell. Merde, Callie! We're pulling for ya!

3.28.2007: More Makarova

There's a lot of "hurry up and wait" in my day job as an undercover ninja statehouse radio reporter. And so it was during one of daily doldrums that I did another YouTube.Com search for Natalia Makarova video clips. And, it proved just as instructive as the last time. This time I found some clips of Natasha in class, explaining what she was thinking about, even correcting herself as she narrated the tape. There's not a lot of new fundamental technique that's a surprise to me...but, there's always a new nuance of correction or analysis that may resonate more deeply. Makarova has probably forgotten more about ballet than I'll ever know, but, watching the videoclips today reminded me of a different emphasis that many students might find valuable...And, this is also a way to critique your own technique. Get a video camera and tape yourself doing some combinations. Watch yourself and be prepared to be embarassed! Most dancers hate to watch themselves. What's on tape usually has very little to do with the picture in our minds we hope we're making. But, if you can get past the "eww...is that me?" stage, you can start making some valuable technical and artistic gains. Try to be objective...or watch the video with your teacher or a dancer you respect. Listen to their comments. Watch and learn, grasshopper! And, if you're a masochist for punishment, slow down the tape and watch even closer. Once again, if you can get past the discomfort, there's an opportunity to gain some valuable fundamental insights. Your teacher or choreographer or coach can correct you until they're blue in the face...but, watching the unvarnished video truth can often drive the point home much, much more effectively. Brutally, but, effectively...And, in other Makarova clips I had time to watch, Natasha explained the difference in the French soubrette curve of the neck...how and why she changed the port de bras during Odette's exit...and the differences of the romantic arabesque of Giselle. Even how she changed Giselle's walk from the first to second act, from earthy peasant to disembodied spirit drifting across the moors. When you have some time, do your own search and research for your own upcoming roles at YouTube.Com. I'm planning on Baryshnikov next!

3.27.2007: New Hope For Old Tendon-cies

Courtesy Newswise — Latest on treating tendon pain.

For some people, resting the affected tendon may be all they need to ease the problem, but others with chronic pain struggle to find relief. The good news is physicians now have a large array of techniques—from new approaches to physical therapy and rehabilitation to new, less-invasive treatments that stimulate your body to heal the problematic tendon—that can help you keep you dancing without pain.

“We’re altering the landscape in dealing with a lot of these tendon issues,” said Robert Dimeff, M.D., “These are still difficult problems to deal with, but the options are so much better now than they were 10 years ago.”

What’s causing the pain?

Most people attribute tendon pain to tendinitis (inflammation of a tendon), but more often the pain results from tendinosis, a breakdown of connective tissue resulting in a series of tiny tears in and around the tendon. Experts refer to the two conditions collectively as “tendinopathies,” which occur most commonly in the elbow (tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow), the ankle (Achilles tendon), in the shoulder (rotator cuff) and the knee.

While tennis, golf and other activities that involve repetitive use and overuse of a tendon are the usual culprits, other daily activities also can trigger pain. Generally, the older you are the more susceptible.

First treatment approaches

If your tendon pain lasts more than a few weeks, see a doctor to rule out another, potentially more serious cause of the pain, such as a stress fracture. If your pain is sports-related, the doctor may have you check the size and weight of your racquet, golf clubs or other equipment and work with a pro on the mechanics of your swing.

The initial treatment for a tendinopathy usually entails warming up the muscle/tendon before exercise, resting it, applying ice and wrapping it shortly afterward, and taking pain relievers. You also may do gentle stretching exercises to prevent stiffness.

Dr. Dimeff also recommends physical therapy and rehabilitation to stretch and strengthen tendons and muscles. The therapy includes eccentric (pronounced “ee-sentric”) exercises that elongate the muscle and tendon while strengthening them. The exercises require the guidance of a physical therapist.

On the treatment vanguard

Researchers have learned that with cortisone injections often prescribed for tendinopathies, the tissue damage caused by the injection may be more therapeutic than the cortisone itself. The trauma to the tendon tissue prompts the body to deliver blood and nutrients to the site as part of its healing response.

This idea of creating a healing trauma is behind newer treatments such as noninvasive shockwave therapy and autologous blood injections. In shockwave therapy, the doctor uses high-energy ultrasound waves to hammer problem areas and stimulate healing. The treatment, although somewhat painful and therefore not for everyone, is relatively safe, carries few adverse effects and can be effective for many tendinopathies.

Newer to the treatment armamentarium are autologous blood injections, in which the doctor injects your own platelet-rich blood into the region of the injured tendon to deliver nutrients that help heal it. A study in the November 2006 issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine. found that the blood injections relieved pain in patients with medial epicondylitis (“golfer’s elbow”). Side effects include soreness and a minimal risk of infection.

Another newer tendinopathy treatment option under study is the topical nitroglycerin patch. Normally indicated to treat chest pain (angina), the patch is not widely used off-label to treat tendinopathies, but Dr. Dimeff has found it effective in his patients. Nitroglycerin dilates blood vessels and increases blood flow to the tendons. It also increases levels of nitric oxide, which may stimulate healing.

Dr. Dimeff typically prescribes the patch for three months. The patch is easy to use, is relatively inexpensive and carries few side effects (headache and dizziness are the most common). However, nitroglycerin can lower blood pressure, and patients on blood-pressure medications should talk to their physician or cardiologist before using it.

While these newer therapies offer promise in treating tendinopathies, they can require several weeks of treatment, and they don’t eliminate the need for physical therapy and rehabilitation, Dr. Dimeff said.

“The important thing is to stick with the program and don’t jump from doctor to doctor. Go to somebody who’s listening to you and willing to try some of these other new things,” he said. “And, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of the rehab exercises. With all of these newer treatments, you still have to be doing the rehab exercises.”

What You Can Do

  • Use moist heat to warm up your problem tendon before exercising. Afterward, apply ice and wrap the tendon with a compression strap or sleeve.
  • Use simple analgesics such as ibuprofen, naproxen or acetaminophen before activity and as needed.
  • If your tendon pain is sports-related, make sure your tennis racquet, golf clubs or other equipment is sized correctly for you, and have a pro analyze your swing to make sure it’s not causing your pain.Talk to your doctor about physical therapy, and work with your physical therapist to learn eccentric exercises that elongate and strengthen muscles and tendons.
  • Ask your physician if newer tendinopathy treatments such as shockwave therapy, autologous blood injections or nitroglycerin patches are right for you.

3.26.2007: Dot-Dot-Dot's 'Da Thing!

Kudos in order for Princess Saraurorah. She went to an audition for Kansas City Ballet's Summer Intensive over Spring Break. (Mainly because it was in her neighborhood.) The kids were told that Scholarships would be rarely given because of a money crunch. But, after she auditioned, our Sleeping Cutie not only got a letter of acceptance, she got a seperate letter inviting her to apply for one of those "rare" scholarships based on the "merit" of her audition! So, good for Sleepy Beauty!...Speaking of multiple nicknames, Katya of the Klan Wootang now boasts a few more after (she claims) she fell asleep in the sun over Spring Break. You can now call her My Li'l Langostino or My Petit Lobster Thermador-able!. She may blush, but, you won't be able to tell...Big mystery in media. Where the heck did MTV's Dance Life disappear to? Hasn't been on the last few weeks. Did the show fail to deliver an audience forcing the cable channel to pull the plug on the J Lo produced production? Enquiring minds wanna know...Also, word now that the gig for a small, young girl en pointe coming this fall will be a professional, paid contract! It'll look good on some young ballerina's resume'...Back to media matters: the grand finale' of NBC's Grease: You're The One That I Want broadcast live this weekend. I went 0-4-2 in my brackets. Laura Osnos and Max Crumm will be the leads in the new Broadway production starting this summer. Kudos to the grace, good sportsmanship and poise of the runners-up: Ashley Summers and Austin. I'm wondering if the American public decided to go with the perceived under-dogs in this competition. Not to take anything away from Slacker Backers, but, Crumm's got a lot to prove to be a convincing Danny Zuko in a role that John Travolta put an indelible stamp on on Broadway and in the movie version...And, also caught up on the premiere of Dancing With The Stars. Early line indicates Apolo, Joey and Ian with strong starts. And, I have to repeat, more power to amputee Heather Mills. She's not just a sideshow and the judges let her know she'll be held to the same mediocre standards as the other contestants. To her credit, she said she wanted it that way. Hopefully, it'll inspire more differently-abled people to consider pursuing the performing arts...And, final media mention, the search for the next Pussycat Doll cut some more eye candy this week. Wave a paw in a fine feline farewell to New Jersey 'Snowflake' Jaime. She was always struggling with confidence issues. And, the stage and audition process are really no place to work those out. Maluhia out!

3.24.2007: Plantar-ing Seeds of Hope

Courtesy Newswise — For some people, the first step in the morning sends pain shooting, as if they were stepping on a sharp rock.

According to the March issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter, the most likely cause of heel pain is plantar fasciitis. This inflammation of the plantar fascia, the fibrous tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot, may limit one’s regular range of motion.

The pain is usually worst in the morning and can be excruciating. Typically, as the foot limbers up, the pain lessens. Plantar fasciitis can affect people of all ages. Contributing factors can include wearing high heels or shoes with poor arch support; lifting heavy objects or making sudden increases in weight-bearing activities. Excess body weight also can be a factor.

Giving the plantar fascia a chance to heal will take patience and persistence. With self-care treatments, the condition usually clears up within 24 months. Consider these self-care tips to help reduce pain:

Daily stretches: Stretching increases the flexibility of the plantar fascia, Achilles tendon and calf muscles. Stretches before getting out of bed can reduce pain.

Cooling the heel: Soaking only the heel in cold water may help. Applying a cloth-covered ice or gel pack for 15 minutes, especially after an activity, may reduce pain. A bag of unpopped popcorn, cooled in the freezer and used as an ice pack, also can be effective.

Wearing appropriate shoes: Low- to medium-heel shoes (no more than 1- to 2-inch heels) with good support and shock absorption are best. A variety of shoe inserts such as heel cups, specialized over-the-counter insoles and arch supports can be beneficial, too.

Pain relievers: Nonprescription pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and naproxen (Aleve, others) can ease pain and inflammation.

When self-care options aren’t enough, a physician can recommend other options such as orthotics, night splints, physical therapy, cortisone injections and other treatments.


3.24.2007: Ya' Gotta Have Art!

Courtesy Newswise — A research team led by Research Director Dr. Will Garrett-Petts is now ready to share preliminary descriptive results from a five-community Arts and Quality of Life Survey.

The largest ever undertaken anywhere on the impact of arts-related activities on quality of life, the survey, conducted by TRU honorary doctor and UNBC professor emeritus Dr. Alex Michalos, is part of a set of projects funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council through its Community-University Research grants program aimed at creating an index to measure quality of life in small cities.

"Over the next two years, we will have about 20 projects going," explained Garrett-Petts, who oversees the research program, providing intellectual direction for all the research projects and bringing them together into a coherent whole.

"The range of projects could be described as sinking different shafts into the same mine," said Garrett-Petts, who explained that researchers will be using various disciplinary methods to better understand culture of small cities and how social, cultural, environmental development can best be measured.

Michalos' mine-shaft involved a survey last fall of 2000 randomly selected households in five BC communities. Householders in Comox Valley, Prince George, Nanaimo, Kamloops and Port Moody, were sent surveys specific to each community, of which 1027 responded. Breakdowns for each community will be available around mid-April, when the group will also undertake a province-wide survey.

"In the survey, we refer to arts in a very broad sense to include such things as music, dance, theatre, painting, sculpture, pottery, literature, including novels, short stories, and poetry, photography, quilting, gardening, flower arranging, textile and fabric art," said Michalos.

Survey respondents, of whom two-thirds were women of about 53 years of age, a third of whom had a university degree, "are not likely to be representative of each community," he explained, adding, "It is fair to say that those who responded to the survey had some interest in the arts."

Sixty-seven arts related activities were identified in the survey and respondents were asked to indicate average numbers of hours or times per year that they participated in each, and then rate their average levels of satisfaction with each activity on a seven-point scale running from very dissatisfied to very satisfied.

The weekly activity with the greatest number of participants (917=90%) was listening to music, followed by reading novels (705=69%) and watching movies on video/dvd (422=41%). On average, respondents listened to music about 13 hours per week, and had an average level of satisfaction of 5.9 out of 7.0. Reading novels averaged 8.5 hours per week with a 6.2 average level of satisfaction.

Among activities engaged in a relatively few times per year, the greatest number of participants (657=64%) listed going to movies, followed by going to concerts (612=60%) and attending community festivals (557=54%). Average times per year engaged in movie-going was 5.9, with an average satisfaction level of 5.4. Average times per year going to concerts was 4, with an average satisfaction level of 6.1.

Interestingly, 917 music listeners scored the second highest average number of hours per week (13), likely because people often listen to music while participating in other activities or performing other tasks.

When asked where people first learned about their most important arts-related activity, 51% said in school and 30% said listening to a parent. Apparently one way to kill arts-related activities would be to drop them from our school curricula. On average, people were about 13 years old when they first learned about their most important arts-related activity.

There were 45 statements about beliefs and feelings about art, and these will be used to construct indexes as our analyses proceed, e.g., Index of Arts as Health Enhancers, as Community Builders and so on. However, here are some examples of specific items.

Ninety percent of respondents agreed that "my artistic activities have a positive effect upon my life," eighty-nine percent agreed that "my artistic activities contribute to my emotional wellbeing," ninety percent agreed that "attractive buildings/architecture are important for a community," and eighty percent agreed (55.7%) or strongly agreed (24.1%) that "artistic activity strengthens a community."

As usual for practically any surveyed population in the world, highest average levels of satisfaction were reported for one's living partner, 6.2 out of 7.0, and average scores for satisfaction with life as a whole were 5.7, for happiness 5.9 and for satisfaction with the overall quality of life, 5.8.

Lowest average levels of satisfaction were reported for government officials; 3.4 for provincial officials, 3.5 for federal and 3.8 for local officials.

"Governments at all levels tend to be public punching bags in satisfaction surveys," said Michalos.

3.23.2007: Prowling the Web Lynx

Got this tip from Kathleen Hurley of Hurley and Dancers who'll be returning this summer as CCDC Summer Intensive Guest Faculty:

"Just thought you might find this interesting... It's a San Francisco fundraiser. Great idea!

Kathleen"

She included this hyperlink to VoiceofDance.Com.

...But, also on that website, intriguing video from Boston Ballet.


Other links of interest:
"It was very strange seeing these petite ballerinas enjoy trying to rip each other to pieces."
Read the rest at Scotsman.Com.

An interesting insight into a disappearing breed: the ballet accom-pianist:
"I wish I could play like you," says one. "I wish I could dance like you," replies Janelle humbly.
The unabridged edition from the Toronto Star.

Meet a dancer from a local university:

"...It will entertain you, but it's art. It has deep meaning. It has numerous layers of feeling, emotion, meaning - you name it, he said..."

Meet the man behind the myth at the DailyIowan.Com


Here's a story about someone attempting to bridge the gap between student and professional:

"...Christine Blanck, a senior who has spent the past four years dancing and studying ballet at the U, is devoting a significant portion of her final semester to researching, planning, scheduling, preparing for and traveling to auditions for numerous professional dance companies. ..."

Check into her struggles at the Daily Utah Chronicle.


Proving once again the only culture in parts of the midwest aren't only found at the bottom of a yogurt container:

"...If God has forsaken Chicago, he's never even visited Davenport, Iowa..."

Iowa has a professional ballet company? Find out more at the River Cities Reader.


3.22.2007: Audition Action

Discrete Secret Department---Here's some incentive for you smaller, young girls to get or keep up with some good training en pointe this spring and summer. Details still being finalized, but, a late September audition being worked out for a chance to perform with a national group coming into the Civic Center this December. Two girls will be double-cast in the role. You must be 4'10" or under and strong en pointe. For everyone over 4'10", we're also trying to arrange for dance workshops at CCDC while the group is in town. More details coming after they've been finalized.

3.21.2007: Ballet on Break

There's been unprecedented attendance at optional CCDC "Stay In Shape" Spring Break Classes this week so far. But, what can you do if your parents have "kidnapped" you and spirited you away to somewhere sultry and tropical with white sand beaches filled with lounging, tanned young natives? (Oh, the horror!o) Well, you should relax and unwind and spend some serious bonding time with your captors...I mean, family! (Remember, "sunscreen is our friend!") But, what happens in the unlikely event you get the itch to dance in between all the surf, sun and shopping? Here are a couple of suggestions to keep from suffering when you finally haul your tanned, rested, but, out of shape bod back to the barre: First, consider taking classes in whatever city you end up in. I used to travel a lot on business and always tried to find a dance studio in my spare time. I used to just flop open the Yellow Pages, but, Google Local has made that easier nowadays. Just be aware that some good studios still may not be listed. (I've taken classes in NYC, Phoenix, San Jose, Milwaukee, Grand Rapids, Orlando, Tokyo, Houston, even, Naha City in Okinawa. But, missed in Memphis, Tampa, Portland and Albany. Ended up doing barre in my hotel room or the work-out room.) Taking from different teachers, exposes you to an entirely new set of strengths and weaknesses, an entirely different take on combinations and corrections, to different students and studio culture. You may hear an old correction put in a new way and that can be very instructive. But, if you can't find a dance class to your liking, consider a different discipline. Yoga, NIA, Pilates, Body Conditioning, Gyrotonics, Alexander Technique, even, an aerobics class can help you stay in shape for dance by cross-training. And, lastly, you can try working out on your own. I highly recommend floor barre, but, doing a few plie's, tendus, degage's, rond de jambes, frappe's, develloppe's and grand battements will help more than you think. Practice a few balances and do your crunches and stretches everyday. It'll be time to head back to the barre before you know it!

3.20.2007: New Mecca For Injured Dancers

Courtesy NewswiseCedars-Sinai Medical Center and the University of Southern California (USC) School of Theatre Dance Program this week announced the opening of the Cedars-Sinai/USC Dance Medicine Center, a unique collaborative effort to educate dancers about how to avoid dance- and other movement-related injuries.

Based at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, the Center offers a multidisciplinary team of experts in dance and movement, sports medicine, orthopaedics, surgery and physical therapy. In addition to providing informational workshops and training about how to prevent injuries, team members from the Center will also be available by appointment to assess, treat and rehabilitate injuries when they do occur, particularly foot, ankle, knee and hip injuries.

This unusual collaboration began when Glenn Pfeffer, M.D., director of the Cedars-Sinai Foot and Ankle Center, met Margo Apostolos, Ph.D., associate professor and director of Dance at the USC School of Theatre. Apostolos and Pfeffer now co-lead the Center.

Pfeffer is a board certified orthopaedic surgeon whose interest in dance began when he took ballroom dance lessons as a youth. He even competed in ballroom dancing, until a foot injury sent him to the sidelines. Dr. Pfeffer’s main clinical and research interests are in the area of foot and ankle injuries. He is past president of the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society and the American Association of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. He has also written many articles for peer-reviewed scientific publications and has edited six books on the foot and ankle.

Apostolos, who has training as both a scientist and a dancer, has developed a highly respected dance program at USC. She previously taught dance at several other universities, including Stanford University and California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo. Also a skilled roboticist, Apostolos has done work and research in robot choreography at Stanford University and at Caltech/Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. At JPL, she held the prestigious NASA/ASEE Faculty Fellowship in the field of Space Telerobotics.

“Most dancers intellectually understand the importance of doing stretching and warm-up exercises to prevent injuries so that they can continue practicing the art they love for many years to come. Unfortunately, many of them haven’t received the best training about how to prevent injuries, or perhaps they’ve practiced those techniques incorrectly or inconsistently. Injuries can also occur when newcomers to dance are unfamiliar with the limits of their own bodies or those of their dance partners; or when experienced and professional dancers feel pressure to ignore minor problems until they become chronic or disabling. All of these situations create opportunities for team members from our collaborative Dance Medicine Center to step in and offer consultations, training or corrective education to help keep dancers healthy and on their feet,” said Apostolos.

“Many dance students and professionals sustain injuries caused by high impact, repetitive stress,” explained Pfeffer. “Often, those types of injuries are preventable; but when they do occur, they require specific types of care. What makes the Cedars-Sinai/USC Dance Medicine Center unique is that we’ve assembled this amazing team of experts who can speak dancers’ language from experience. For example, we have two physical therapists who both have had formal training in dance. Together, we bring significant knowledge about the anatomical and psychological issues that many dancers face - and the nuances of how they practice their art – which allows us to be especially effective at helping to prevent and treat dance-related injuries,” he added.

Apostolos and Pfeffer said that the professionals involved in the Center will share their knowledge about dance and movement injury prevention with the community by visiting dance classes, attending and making presentations at conferences, and meeting with renowned dance and athletic movement experts across the country.

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3.19.2007: Grease the Skids!

Media Mentions: Well, it's down to the final four in the Broadway version of March Madness. Big bracket buster for me when Derek failed to advance in NBC's Grease: You're The One That I Want. But, the bitter-end was sweetened a bit by the choreographer-judge telling Derek that she looks forward to working with him on future projects "many, many times". The final four that survived are Austin, Max, Ashley S and Laura. I'm still pulling for "Ballerina" Sandy, Ashley S. Even though the video-clip of her performing as a child shows some deficient technique...and that could be the reason for her ballet career-ending injury. I think Austin will survive to take on the role of Danny Zuko. I just have trouble picturing Max as the lead, even an "unconventional" against type-cast. But, all three judges had no such problem. Max and Laura swept the judges' choice awards this weekend. But, of course, the wild-card in all these competitions remains the American voting public. And, whatever the result, I can't complain since I didn't even attempt to vote once this season.

...Also, caught up on the competition to become the next Pussycat Doll. Nine girls, now, eight, are competing in dancing and singing televised auditions to join the "sassy, but, classy" girl group. The first to go was a talented young lady...who couldn't control her go-go dancer background and moves. Even when warned by the co-choreographer of PD not to "go there". It's hard to handicap this competition. It takes a few episodes to get a feel for the candidates and the competition. It's always instructive, though, to listen to the judge's comments: L'il Kim, in one case, the head of Geffen Records and PD lead singer Nicole Scherzinger in another. Comparing my impressions with the judges' feedback confirm my suspicions: I know nothing about singing! (My own voice teacher told me to "stick to dancing"! I stopped paying her shortly after that.  Find a teacher who believes in you...and, can show you how to get better!)(And, watch for that Nicole Scherzinger to pull a Beyonce' eventually, ditch the Dollz and go solo.)

...And, tonight, features the return of Dancing With The Stars IV. Already a big flap over Paul McCartney's ex, Heather Mills. She had a leg amputated after a traffic crash. And, the promos are already asking "will the leg stay on"? Well, despite her "gold digger" reputation, I say more power to her and everyone in similar situations around the world. If you want to dance, then, "DANCE, I say DANCE!"

3.14.2007: Life Lessons

So, here's that story I promised you several posts earlier: I'd been training in ballet at the University for a couple semesters. I wasn't that good, but, I kept flailing away at it and, generally, making a little progress. (Ballet teacher say "Journey of a thousand miles begins with but a single pas!") But, this dancer I admired in class suggested I show up at her home studio's beginning pas de deux classes that weekend. They needed men...and I fit the minimum requirements! Well, I thought, why not? So, that Friday, I showed up at the Honolulu City Dance Center with bells on, as they say. (See the connection with CCDC? They made me take the bells off, by the way:o)

That first partnering class was more than a little intimidating. Instead of dancing with mostly lumpy college students who didn't have much dance experience, I was in a roomful of sleek looking young girls who all seemed to have been dancing since the cradle. The guys were a mixed bag, ranging from former professionals from the defunct Honolulu City Ballet to some who looked barely better than I was at the time. Fortunately, Mr. Dingman took it slow. (And, I start teaching pas de deux the same slow, but, steady way he did that day.) Putting the girls on balance, taking them off balance, then, putting them back on their leg again. Then, promenades, penche's and, eventually, supported pirouettes. But, the thing that got me the most were the supported grand jete's. Trying the jumps with the smaller and lighter girls wasn't that bad. But, the rotation finally brought me face to face with the tallest and biggest girl in the room. I'm ashamed to say I was intimidated and started backing away. In my defense, remember this was the first time I'd ever been in a partnering class! I couldn't see myself even attempting to lift a girl who stood a head taller than I was...But, standing behind me in the boys line was a former member of HCB. Small little Luis G was shorter and smaller than I was, but, he had the heart of a lion! He literally growled his disgust when I started backing down. Before I could say anything, he shoved me aside and took his position behind the nearly-six foot ballerina. And, he attacked that tombe', pas de bourre', glissade, grand jete' and actually THREW the girl into the air, caught her softly and gently to finish the jump. Then, he stalked over to where I was cowering in the corner and glared at me. "Don't you ever, EVER let any girl intimidate you in partnering! That's lesson number one!" And, Luis Gonzales, wherever you are today, it's a lesson I've never forgotten and thought about often when I was dancing professionally. And it's a lesson I try to pass on to all the men and boys I teach partnering to these days.


...And, this is for all the girls who are learning how to be partnered. Early in my career as a student, I was learning how to do a "fish" lift and I was practicing with one of my less lumpy fellow students at the University. That's when one of the dancers warming up for the highest level class walked over to us and asked me to try the lift with her. The difference was amazing! It was like switching from driving a Yugo or early Datsun to driving a Mercedes Benz or Ferrari! From manual to power steering! It was hard to describe, except it felt like Evelyn K was doing all the lifting by herself. It seemed like I was just there to hold her down, keep her from floating away. (She eventually went on to a professional career with the Santa Barbara Ballet) So, this is what I tell the girls in my partnering classes: You may be the smallest, lightest dancer in the studio...and still be the hardest to lift. And, the reverse is true as well. One of the guys I knew in Chicago described one of the girls we trained with rather rudely, but, accurately: "Lifting her is like trying to lift a half-empty waterbed! You hoist up one side...and all the water runs down to the other! You lift up the other side...and everything sags in the middle!" How you hold yourself makes a world of difference, girls! The harder you work, the easier it is for the guy to make you look good! Think about it. Do you want guys to complain about you being a "half-empty waterbed"? Or do you want them fighting over partnering you because you hold so well it's like "driving a Mercedes, a Porsche"!

3.12.2007: Overheard in CCDC Classes

"How do you get a lot better at ballet? Aim to get a little bit better each day, each class, each exercise. You get a lot better over time by getting a little better each class."

"Why is it called grand battement jete'? Because it has an explosive GRAND BATTEMENT in it! It's not called degage' jete' for a reason!

"You have to get out of your comfort zone! Practice dancing slower than you want. Practice faster than you like. Higher extensions! Quicker, bigger, slower, faster! Most students lose up to twenty percent of their technique in center or on stage. Do more to hang on to more!"

"Don't dance with your 'ballet face' on! Don't be a 'mean dancer'! Look up or look out!"

"We concentrate so much on technique in class so you don't have to concentrate on it in center! Technique becomes a vehicle to a goal. What is the goal? Effectively communicating an emotion, an idea, a concept to the audience. Don't let the vehicle become your final goal."

3.7.2007: American, Idle

Coupla stories overheard in class this weekend that I'll have to put in writing eventually about partnering, pas de deux and life in general: what happened during that audition for that prestigious west coast company, guesting with a pick-up modern-jazz company in San Francisco, lifting Mara V overhead in the local ballet troupe...and the important lesson learned early in a partnering career from little Luis G. Most cast the storyteller as the star as is his apocraphyl prerogative, but, the most relevant one does not. Equal opportunity dance discussion...But, back to that latest Dance Life and YouTube.Com-mentary. Had a (very) few minutes to kill at work while waiting for my next appointment today, (scant few, Boss!) so I surfed on over to the YouTube.Com website and searched for Makarova as in prima ballerina assoluta Natalia Makarova. There were quite a few video clips, but, I think I found one of the ones that Rothbarta tried to send me. It showed Natasha talking about ABT'S Manon and coaching and partnering tips with a corps of male dancers. Very, VERY valuable insights! And, the performance was first-rate as well. I was almost late to my appointment (it was the right time, WRONG day! Thanks, Boss! Shoulda just kept surfing!) Can't wait until I have another break and can check out the rest of the Makarova library of video-clips...and search for others! ...Just as valuable was watching Nolan making the most of his big Hip-Hop-portunity on MTV's DL...The dancer finally got his big break! One of the dancers on a J Lo performance had to drop out. The choreographers remembered Nolan and called him in. Watching him get that phone call was SWEET! He was smiling from ear-to-ear! They flew him out to the Big Apple for rehearsal and the show. But, listening in on his conversation with Ms Lopez during a rehearsal break was as instructive and inspiring as downloading that Makarova clip on company time. She asked him about trying to make a living as a dancer in LA. He said it was one constant struggle after another, paycheck to paycheck for the four years he'd been there. Remember, Nolan had just been evicted from his apartment. His dad wasn't being supportive. Now, J Lo can relate. She was a dancer before she became a recording star (Remember the Fly Girls on the Wayans Brothers In Living Colour? Right! It was before my time, too!o) J Lo said the "hardest" and "most under-appreciated" of the performing arts is the dance. But, the ones who succeed are the ones who must perform. If you have the passion, you will discover the opportunity. It's the "dancer dream". Go big or go home! The ones who succeed are the ones who don't give up!

...Commentary on other Must C Dance TV: Grease: You're the One That I Want! Still putting my money on Ashley S for Sandy. That's the one they call "Ballerina Sandy". She used to train as a classical dancer before an injury forced a career change. I'm always pulling for the trained dancers! (Like J Lo, Madonna, Mya...even Ashley Simpson who actually used to train at SAB according to media reports.) But, things starting to look a little dicey for Derek. He's got the look and the experience, but, his voice cracked in two seperate performances. Producer/Judge David Ian came down on him HARD. Derek's voice isn't the only thing starting to crack under pressure. But, don't count him out, he can still pull it off. The next performance, he just needs to "go big...or go home"!

2.28.2007: Stories My Teacher Told Me

Here's a story, memory, recollection that Nolan Dingman told our class on occasion. (And, this occasional series is how the ballet tradition is handed down. From my teacher to me, from me to you, from you to your students, and, so on and so forth. Our names may eventually be forgotten, but, a little of our lore will long outlive us.) (And, before I became a Dingmaniac myself, I used to joke about the fanatical devotion his students had for him, "There is no God, but, Balanchine and Mister Dingman is his prophet.") Mister D as he was known---an homage to the original Mister B, Georgi Balanchivadze---was a master storyteller. Most of them cast himself in the best possible light, but, that was his apocryphal prerogative.

Mister D told us often about the time he was one of the beneficiaries of the Ford Foundation grants in the sixties. That was several years when teachers from around the country were flown into New York City to attend seminars conducted by Mister B himself. Nolan (We never called him that except for Brock, a wild man-child adult ballet student) claimed after the first year, Balanchine requested Dingman's presence by name. And, he told us on one occasion when he was asking questions of Mister B they ended up in the hotel kitchen, with Balanchine himself holding onto a sink to demonstrate the technique he wanted Mister Dingman to teach his students.

But, this is the story I originally meant to tell: One year a delegation of Soviet ballet teachers came to visit the school where Mister Dingman was teaching. And, they were excited to recognize a similar instructional technique to what was relatively unknown in the west at that time, the Soviet Syllabus, the teaching technique as laid out by Aggrippina Vaganova. In fact, they were so excited, they offered to show him rare film footage of ballet classes shot behind the, then, Iron Curtain. This was unprecedented at the height of the Cold War, before glasnost, before perestroika and long before the fall of the Berlin Wall.

At the delegation's hotel room, they projected the 8mm film against a blank wall. The narration was in Russian, but, as Mister Dingman used to tell us it was exciting to get a glimpse of how the world-famous Soviet system trained the next generation of dancers. (Just as an aside, the Soviet system auditioned thousands of applicants every year and admitted a handful of young good-looking dancers with perfect proportions, flexible bodies and feet and innate musicality. The state provided everything for the next few years...and the ones who couldn't learn to dance at the highest level weeded themselves out. Eventually, one or two were admitted to the most prestigious Soviet Dance companies. The most successful schools in the west follow this sort of model as best they can: SAB, SFB, Washington's Kirov School, Paris Opera, National Ballet School of Canada, etc. Oh, and how could I forgot to mention Capital City Dance Center!;o)

But, Mister Dingman was puzzled by one thing he saw on that film that day. Over and over again, whenever a student was having trouble with a move, falling out of a pirouette, say, or losing a balance, the teacher took them aside, whispered something in their ear. The student would walk to the back of the studio, wait for a bit, and, then, more often then not, execute the move perfectly...or at least a lot better. Mister D was excited! That must be the core of the vaunted Soviet System! What correction was the teacher whispering to the students? If only he could understand Russian!

Finally, (he told us) he could stand it no longer and excitedly asked his hosts, "What is the teacher saying? What correction is he giving that improves the student so much in such a short time? Please tell me!" The members of the Soviet delegation were taken aback. Then, they laughed. They spoke in Russian to each other for long moments, while Mister Dingman waited on pins and needles for them to share what he imagined to be the core of Russian training. Finally, one tovarisch told him in halting English, "Is nothing. Just...before you can do, you must see. Before you can...you must imagine." He brushed it off as unimportant. But, fish do not see water because they are immersed in it and Mister D was not a Russian fish. He never forgot that very important lesson he learned that day and he passed it on to us.

Do YOU see the water? From now on, if you make a mistake, imagine yourself performing the technique perfectly. The more intense your visualization, the better chance your body will understand. Train your mind as well as your body. Is there a performance you have coming up? Once you learn the choreography (and, even, before), play the music and visualize yourself doing it perfectly, with feeling, with nuance, with fire! Train your mind to train your body. Intense imagination and creative visualization can supplement your physical training! Sposiba, Nolan Dingman. You believed in me so much, I began to believe in myself, Sposiba!

2.27.2007: Kudos In Order

A big pat on the back to Margaruite of Armaund who was notified recently of her acceptance to the Pacific Northwest Ballet Summer Intensive. She's the first CCDC student to get into the prestigious PNB program. Hopefully, not the last. Also a reminder to all CCDC Pre-Professional students to drop off a note in the office with your (real) name, age, hometown, academic school and grade and what summer programs you've been accepted to so far this year. We want to send out an official CCDC press release to media outlets soon. And, to date, I think we've gotten just one note! C'Mon! Let CCDC do your bragging for you! Don't hide your ballet under a bushel!

2.25.2007: Summer Faculty Hint

Capital City Dance Center offers a redacted recent article about the man soon to be announced as the Principal Guest Ballet Instructor for the 2007 Summer Intensive. It is with enormous pride and satisfaction (and sly humor) we offer this hint: (Proper attribution and hyper-link to follow official announcement of summer faculty line-up.)

At the start of every semester, echoes of Beethoven's Funeral March haunt _____ Hall.

________ pounds the piano keys in ______ with a sly grin, playing the bleak melody to set the mood of the ballet class that is about to follow. Or, the semester that is to follow.

"I love that tune," he says, laughing.

On a daily basis, ____ bellows to his dancers at 11 a.m. sharp to get the barres out.

To the dancers, that means they scurry to find a place on the barre and strip down to a leotard, tights and ballet slippers, ___'s class-attire requirement.

"No garbage!" he frequently roars.

Garbage, meaning t-shirts, sweatshirts, legwarmers, ballet skirts and any other "junk" that might hinder ___ from poking at a jiggling thigh or jabbing at a mushy stomach. As ___ clicks his heels together to give the first combination, anyone in the hallways outside the ballet studio could easily hear him hollering instructions.

"He's nuts," said ___ with a smile.

After 25 years, the 6-foot-3 former _____ Dancer knows his size and loud voice can set new students into a panic.

"I was very, very intimidated," said _____, a fourth-year dance major. "But that was normal for new students."

When _____, a senior dance major, took his first class with _____, he would have guessed _____ was 30 years old based on how much energy he had.

_____ who describes himself to be at an age where he has started shrinking, recalls a time years back when a couple of his male students would break out in hives when they attended his class.

"I think it is the funniest thing," he said, laughing. "I think I'm funny."

Since he started his teaching career, _____ said he has found himself to be a bit more "dictatorial," but that doesn't mean he leaves the fun out of class. Because ballet is so emotionally and physically draining, _____ said he tries to put a sense of humor into his class so students enjoy it.

Playing the funeral march before certain classes is one way, although the tune serves to intensify the class atmosphere of class just as it functions to lighten it.

"It lets them know," he politely says, "we are going to have a hard class today."

_____'s students, though, are thankful for his sense of humor and enthusiasm, even the "funny" times when _____ lets his "dictatorial" tendencies unleash. _____ said once you get accustomed to his unique sense of humor, it really helps you get through class; meaning, once you get used to being yelled at "18 million times" for something, she said, with a smile.

It's routine for _____ to stroll around the 85-degree studio and screams that his students "aren't sweating."

"You could be literally dripping puddles on the floor, and he'll tell you that you aren't sweating," she said. "It's never enough for _____. But that's his way of telling someone they need to work harder."

And in the hour-and-a-half _____ has his students in custody, forcing people to work harder is part of his mission to work toward perfection.

_____ chose ___'s dance program over joining a company because of ______ and the training he offers. At a professional company, _____ said, they don't break down the steps and teach you to use muscles correctly. _____, however, is particular about this and constantly emphasizes, "approximate dancing" is not enough.

He often stresses the importance of being exact by comparing a dancer to a surgeon, saying that it isn't good enough if surgeons can "almost" make a good incision on a patient. It isn't good enough if dancers can "almost" do a clean pirouette, he says. "He's probably one of the most meticulous people I have ever met," _____ said. "If you have a bad habit, _____ will let you know." In order to get to the root of a step and tackle habits, _____ said he teaches the same class for two weeks, which is different from most professional ballet companies. By repeating combinations for days at time, _____ can identify problem areas and take care of them.

"I really try to nail it then and there," _____ said. "I catch 'em on it."

By the end of the two weeks, _____ said he sees massive improvements. In order to get this type of progress, ______ has to be hard on his dancers, but they know the reason.

"He's there to make people into professionals," _____ said.

Plenty of evidence supports this. Over the years, _____'s dancers have joined companies such as the Koresh Dance Company in Philadelphia, Louisville Ballet, Nashville Ballet, Chicago Ballet, Georgia Ballet, Charleston Ballet Theatre, and the Maryland Ballet Theatre.

Not only that, but dancers also have gone on to dance with Disney World, Las Vegas, cruise lines, Myrtle Beach and plenty of other modern and contemporary companies.

"If you are technically strong and disciplined, you will get a job," _____ said.

Photos of former dancers decorate his office, including a photo of his 2001 graduating dance majors. He can point to each dancer in the photo and easily name what each did after graduation. Almost all went to professional dance careers. Less than a month ago, some dancers whom he pointed to in the picture were back to take class with him, preparing to return to their professional companies.

For students training under someone with such a strong drive to produce good dancers has boosted not only on their technique, but also their motivation.

When she started, _____ had a feeling _____ would turn whomever was in class into the best ballerina they could be, as long as they are willing to put the effort in.

"He gave me the motivation to work," she said. "I have improved so much since I came here-my technique, my performing, everything."

Perfecting ballerinas, however, is not the extent of _____'s knowledge. Although a master of ballet, he quietly confessed he enjoys teaching modern dance quite a bit…perhaps even more than ballet. Although his curriculum is limited to ballet and pointe right now, _____ will start teaching modern next semester. And that doesn't even begin to point out his versatility.

Hundreds of books clutter the walls of _____'s _____ Hall office, and the wide variety of subjects supports his expertise not only in different forms of dance, but also music and Benesh notation. _____'s two music degrees and background as a school music teacher explain the shelves lined with thick binders stuffed with full-length piano scores, not to mention the ease at which he sits at the piano and plays classics like the Funeral March.

With such a vast knowledge of music and dance, it is no surprise he is a specialist in the Benesh Notation Movement System and a member of the Benesh Institute in London. By looking at different symbols that indicate placement of the leg, arm or head, _____is able to reconstruct ballets from notated scores.

Although _____'s students appreciate of the time and effort he puts forth, his work does not go unrecognized in the public eye. ___ awarded him the Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching award in 1987-88. More recently, the _____ Dance and Music Alliance honored _____ with the 2003 Lifetime Achievement for Service to the Field award. Perhaps some of the greatest recognition, though, is from people nearby who take notice of his dancers' talent. While sitting in his office, a woman cutting through _____ Hall to get to the football game peeks in with an inquiry.

"When are your ballerinas going to perform at halftime?" she said. "I'd much rather see them."

She continues with her proposition, saying she would much rather watch "real" dancers perform the halftime show than watch the dance team. _____ chats with her for a moment, appearing by the casual conversation to know her, but he does not.

It's hard to tell if he seriously considers putting his dancers on a football field in satin pointe shoes and red and black tutus, but it is clear he appreciates the praise the woman his given him and his dancers.

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2.21.2007: Brave New World of Dance

I wrote earlier about how the Net and YouTube.Com were changing access to dance and dance info in the 21st century and here are two recent examples: One of our young students asked for help presenting a dance-oriented report in her Spanish class. VolleyballChica wanted to know if we knew any flamenco steps she could perform or teach the class. Unfortunately, that's a big blank spot in our faculty repertory (She shoulda asked us about the six-step Latin or American Hustle or the Philadelphia Busstop! We could probably even recall some disco line-dancing from our young and bad clubbing daze. And, we still do a world class "robot", too!) So, we told her to go to YouTube.Com and search for "flamenco". And, I just talked to her and she said she was able to find what she needed there. (Also told her to check with the new Central Library. I'm sure the information specialists there could find something for her, too.)

The other example is from someone preparing for Swan Lake. She asked about how to mentally prepare for her role in the production. I told her to find some DVD's and watch how other artists had performed her part. And, I told her about YouTube.Com. She said she was glad I reminded her about the website. Said another dancer friend of hers had told her about video there of Natasha Makarova in rehearsal coaching one of her ballets. How valuable would that videotape be? Listening in as a world-class ballerina shared her insights into the role? She later e-mailed me a link (that I have yet to be able to open!) to a performance that she liked and would study. I also gave her some tips on the motivation. The villainous necromancer, Rothbart, for example, doesn't think he's evil, doesn't imagine himself to be a villain. Everything he does, he does for love, he just feels misunderstood. Absolute power, corrupts absolutely, but, the intentions are always the best. Does that give you some insight into your next role? Find that part of you that is that person.

That brings us in a rond de jambe way to Mikhail Baryshnikov's film Dancers. I've always thought of it as less than a plot-driven movie...and more a backstage documentary of how he prepares for the lead. If you watch this film, ignore the feather-weight plot and listen intently as he explains the motivations of his Prince Albrecht. Find the humanity in all your roles. Don't just be the easy stereotype or caricature. What you can bring to the role is your own unique world experience...or lack of it. World-famous aging thespian Sarah Bernhardt shocked theater-goers early last century when she declared in one play, "I'm sixteen!"...and they believed her! Find that part of you that is your role...even if it's a memory of a dream you once had. Which is what a sixteen year old girl was to the aged actress. And, what a girl who has been magicked into being a swan during the day and princess at night could be to you.


...And kudos to EmiLind for her first acceptance to a summer program! She's been green lighted to the Milwaukee Ballet summer session. And, did I mention Katya of the Clan Wootang's acceptance at Washington Ballet?

2.16.2007: Stress Prevention

Courtesy Newswise — Calcium and vitamin D supplementation, even over a short time period, can significantly reduce stress fractures (overuse injuries to the bone) in female military recruits, according to a study at the 53rd annual Orthopaedic Research Society meeting at the San Diego Convention Center.

The randomized, double-blind study, funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, looked at 5,201 female U.S. Navy recruits during eight weeks of basic training from 2002 to 2006 at Great Lakes Naval Station near Chicago, Ill.

The women, ages 17 to 35, were divided into two groups with one group receiving daily pill supplements of 2,000 Mg of calcium and 800 IU of vitamin D, and the other group receiving placebo pills. Calcium supports bone formation and repair, while vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium.

During the study, 170 recruits in the placebo group experienced stress fractures, about 25 percent more than in the group taking the calcium/vitamin D supplements. A history of regular exercising decreased the risk of stress fractures, while cigarette smoking increased the risk.

“What really surprised us is that calcium/vitamin D supplements made a significant difference in such a short period of time. Frankly, we were not sure we would see any statistically significant results in only eight weeks,” said principal investigator Joan Lappe, Ph.D., R.N..

The study shows that taking calcium/vitamin D supplements can greatly reduce stress fractures in female military recruits, many of whom are suddenly and dramatically increasing their levels of physical, weight-bearing activity.

Lappe noted that the study may also have implications for nonmilitary athletic populations, such as high school track and field athletes, in whom stress fractures are also problematic.

“It appears that supplementation with calcium and vitamin D provides a health-promoting, easy and inexpensive intervention that does not interfere with training goals,” she said.

2.14.2007: Must C Dance TV!

Finally got a chance to catch up on some Dance TV, now that 'da Bears have lost the Superbowl Shuffle of American-style football. Watched Kenny in MTV's Dance Life. He got flown to New York for a Gap commercial callback, but, the job eventually went to Blake who wasn't even called back. But, because Kenny was in the Big Apple, he got to audition for a SNL gig. This is the guy who's dating a Pussycat Doll. What a charmed life he seems to be leading! But, into every life some rain must fall, just like with Jersey and Celestine, the life of a dancer doesn't leave much wiggle room for a relationship. All three have to squeeze their dating lives, BFs and GFs around their auditions and rehearsals. That reminds me about a story years ago...(Editor's note: Okay, I cut this story out because when I read it back, it actually had nothing to do with dance.)

Caught up on the opening live episode of Grease: You're The One That I Want. Watch out for that Ashley S! Got the look and the pipes. I also like Derek (?) to be one of the last ones left standing in that reality competition. If you missed any episode of G:YTOTIW, they're available for viewing on the web. (As well as Heroes! Save the Goober, save the world!)

...Also, more kudos to Katya, Margaruite and GitUrFaShawn for recent acceptances to the Joffrey Ballet Summer Program. And, CCDC is preparing an official press release detailing the success of our students. Please leave a note in the office with your real name, age, hometown and programs accepted to this year.

2.14.2007: Overheard In CCDC Ballet V/VI

"Be the eye of the storm! When the music is pushing you and it seems like you just can't keep up, calm down, breathe and keep the count...when all around you are losing theirs. Like the calm spot in the center of a hurricane, be the eye of the storm."

"Dance like Kings and Queens! Even if you're cast as just a 'pleasant peasant' (and there are no small roles!), TRAIN like Princes and Princesses!"

"How do you get better? How do you get the lead role? How do you kill that audition? HOW??? Your teachers are pointing out the way every day! Take all your classes! Do all your corrections! Do you think about them before class? Do you write them down after class?"

"If you can't do a combination in class, do you work on it before your next class? Do you think about it at all?" "Don't just 'do' the corrections as an afterthought! Don't think about the move and just 'add on' the correction. DO the correction to DO THE MOVE!"

"Don't wait for THE correction! You know the one that'll make everything better? The one that'll make everything click and all your turns and jumps and beats will be better? We've ALREADY given you that correction. It's the one we just gave you. It's the one we always give you. The question is: Will you work on it?"

"You can lead a horse to water, but, you can't make him pas de cheval!"

2.7.2007: Dreamz of Summer...

The national Summer program notification process already well underway! At the beginning of each year, right after Nutty season, comes Summer Intensive audition season. That's still continuing, but, congrats to all the CCDC students already being notified of success. Here's a partial list (E-mail me if there's more I'm forgetting!):
  • Dozing Beauty Princess SarAurora accepted to the Kirov Academy in DC without even auditioning! Offered the position by the registrar after reporting a conflict in audition times. She remembered our Sleepy Beauty from last summer!
  • Margaruite of Armaund also accepted to the Kirov summer session! (She actually auditioned!)
  • The Zara accepted to Oklahoma University...with a competing scholarship offer for University of Missouri Kansas City's dance program!
  • Katya of the Clan Wootang accepted to American Ballet Theater and Tulsa Ballet's highest summer level with a partial scholarship! Also, she tells me that Suzanne Farrell remembered her when she auditioned for her program again! (Suuure, Ekaterina Ballerina!o)
  • And, imagine the frustration of a couple car-loads of CCDC dancers who drove for two hours one way last month...only to discover the Milwaukee Ballet audition was cancelled! That's been rescheduled for later this month and I'm sure everyone will do well. Merde!

...hmmm! It seems I'm forgetting someone...let me know, plz!

...AND! Just after I finished writing this comes word that GitUrFaShawn was just notified of acceptance to the prestigious School of American Ballet summer session in New York City! With this acceptance, GitUrFaShawn becomes the first CCDC student ever accepted to SAB. (Two SAB students did take class at CCDC one summer, but, they weren't trained at CCDC. Another former student was accepted there, but, she got most of her training elsewhere.) For those of you who don't know, SAB is the feeder school of the world-famous New York City Ballet and graduates are dancing in just about every major dance company in the country and world. It was founded by legendary choreographer George Balanchine who, when approached by arts patron Lincoln Kirstein about beginning a major ballet company in America, famously said, "First, a school." My old ballet mistress told me that whenever she saw "SAB" on a resume' for a company position, it went into a seperate pile and that applicant was just about guaranteed an audition and serious consideration. This acceptance is on nearly on par with Julia S' scholarship/bursary to Canada's National Ballet School. Kudos to GYFS!

2.2.2007: Pointes of Interest

A tidbit from the Prix de Lausanne Ballet Competition:

"...Each year I think this is the most wonderful one we've had, and the next year it's even better. It's just amazing how these kids develop and train and give their best. It's just a wonder every time..."

Catch the rest at the SwissInfo Website.


If at first you don't succeed, don't accede, you can still "suck seed"...:

"...With the clarity of 20-20 hindsight, Amanda Wells can say that one of the "biggest blessings" of her life was being cut from a Boston Ballet audition...."

Follow along her footsteps in the Orange County Register.


Dancing safely, dancing healthily:

"...During adolescence your body goes through many changes: Your head size doubles, your trunk size triples, your arm size quadruples, your leg size quintuples," Hartog said. "Young dancers are going through these really big changes physiologically as well as hormonally, and they're psychologically maturing. It's a dramatic time in a child's life."..."

Check out the whole article at the Washington Post.


1.31.2007: Un Poquito de Todo

It was like old-home week at CCDC the past few days. The former student we nicknamed The Ashey Wren back in class on Saturday. Said she just finally graduated from the U. ("I'm an adult now!" she proudly proclaimed) And, she seemed surprised at the level of technique of the upper division and praised the students in class. Wren says even though she hadn't had class since September, she could've walked in and taken ballet back at the University and still would've been "the best". Couldn't do that here. Hope we see more of Wren now that she's back in town...and the former professional dancer we call O-Ron volunteered to help us out now that we've begun the Spring Session Pas de Deux classes again. Now that we have some girls and guys with experience, we've upped the ante. It's not just "Intro to Partnering 101" anymore. It's "Intermediate/Advanced Partnering+Repertory 201". O-Ron and I danced together in the old Des Moines Ballet/Ballet Iowa years ago. He went on to Tulsa Ballet. I was never heard from again...By the way, any local guys interested in learning how to "pick up" girls should let me know. If you have experience, we can always use more men on Wednesday nights. If you don't have much experience, I'm considering Beginning Partnering on Thursday nights or Saturday mornings. Leave us a message on the "Contact" page...Media mentions: Lotta dance on the tube nowadays. I watched the first two episodes of Dance Life again on MTV and I have to admit I'm getting sucked in. Watching six dancers trying to make it or break it out in the City of Lost Angels is increasingly compelling. Watching Nolan getting around LA on a bicycle is amazing. I've been to the city and NOTHING is near anywhere else. The bus was bad enough, I'm not sure a bike is very feasible. Not only does he have transportation issues, but, he's struggling to put a substance abuse problem in his past. He works at a clothing store to pay the rent. Nolan's a good dancer and he gets close to landing a gig after an audition for the Mary J.Blige concert tour. But, he doesn't get it. Meanwhile, an eviction notice is posted on his door. No wonder he clashes with Blake, a dancer who's already danced with a who's who of pop music notables, competed on SYTYCD and is releasing his own DVD...The second episode featured Blake giving Kenny a hard time when he had to back out of performing at his DVD release party. The reason? Kenny had to start rehearsing for a paying gig...with J Lo! That's an excellent excuse to me, but, Blake gave him a hard time...Hmmm. Reminds me of the time...(Yes, this ballet blog is all about me! Unless YOU contribute!)...I landed my first Nutcracker and had to back out of the Modern piece at the University. The lesson for aspiring dancers is "honor your commitments". But, if you do get a paying job, tell your other commitment right away. (In fact, it might be good before you accept a gig to let the choreographer know that another paying job will force you to drop out.  That's usually unspoken, but, it might be good to get it on the record.) Dancing jobs are few and far between when you first start out. I know money shouldn't matter, but, having been there (living at a flophouse in the small town of Crystal Lake, Illinois, northwest of Chicago, waiting for the Hubbard Street Dance Company audition, a stranger in a strange and cold land, running out of time and money!), I know it does...Other Dance TV: I'm also doing the poor man's TIVcrO on You're The One That I Want and catching an occasional episode of Dirty Dancing. Hopefully, the more dance in the media will get more derriere in 'da door! Maluhia out!

1.23.2007: Pointes of Interest

Starring in Swan Lake anytime soon? Read this:
"...Listening to Tchaikovsky's music when you dance Swan Lake, you follow the sadness and the happiness - it's all there. ..."

Catch all four acts from The Independent.


An SAB auditioner talks about what she's looking for:
"...They need to have a classical ballet body and foot. .... They have to be flexible but strong enough at the same time. Proportion is important. So is the length of the leg, shape of the leg, length of neck, size of head ...

"I want someone who's also musical, who has that spark and genuinely loves it. Not a robot. They have to have an ear as well." ..."

Read the entire article from the Clarion Ledger.


Potential contestants lining up for the next DWTS:
"...Joey Fatone, of former boy band 'N Sync, told a Florida radio station Friday that he's ready to compete on the reality show, which pairs celebrities with professional dancers. Last month, Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, said she's hoping to be a contestant..."

Catch the rest from The Courier.

1.19.2007: Performance PR

The Grammy award-winning Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra will perform at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 31, in Drake University’s Performing Arts Hall in the Harmon Fine Arts Center.

The highly acclaimed composer-arranger Maria Schneider blurs the line between big band jazz and classical music, and her 17-piece orchestra propels through powerful and complex compositions rich in creativity. Their most recent release, Concert in the Garden, won a 2005 Grammy Award and was chosen as the Jazz Album of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Awards and the Downbeat Critics Poll. Schneider’s third album, Allégresse, was listed on the Top Ten Recordings of 2000 by both Time and Billboard magazines.

Schneider’s career in jazz launched in 1985, when she moved from her native Windom, Minn., to New York City and began studying composition with Bob Brookmeyer as well as assisting the renowned Gil Evans on such projects as the Gil Evans/Sting tour of 1987. Since 1993, she has performed with the orchestra and as guest conductor of her music in venues across the globe, from Greenwich Village to Brazil, Macau, Italy, Portugal, France, Sweden, Denmark, Slovenia, Canada, Australia and Iceland.

Tickets for the Drake concert are available starting Tuesday, Jan. 16.

The concert is made possible by a gift from the late Edwin Earle Ferguson, an accomplished musician and attorney who worked his way through Drake and Drake Law School during the Great Depression by playing piano at radio stations and Younkers Tea Room.

1.18.2007: Dance Life...So Far

Tried to tape the premiere of that new MTV reality series Monday night about six dancers trying to make it and break it in the city of Lost Angels. But, the old-school VHS didn't cooperate and we didn't get it. But, the good (or bad) thing about MTV is that if you surf back in once in a while, you'll probably catch a repeat a few thousand times or so.

So, I saw the first episode rerun last night and I wish they would do what one of the dancers said to another, "Just shut up and dance!" I don't know how big a fan you are of reality TV, but the more I heard from Blake (formerly of SYTYCD I) the less I liked. He's still a strong, strong dancer (one shot shows him pulling off 4-or-5 pirouettes and stopping to do a developpe' still balancing on demi pointe!) But, is it just me? Or is he a catty diva fatale bar none? Hey, Blake! Shut up and dance!

As for the rest of the show, it's great seeing the dancing and scenes of a cattle-call audition. The trials and tribuations of dancers working a "real job" and auditioning for their big break made me recall waiting and bussing tables and tending bar during the day at a sushi bar in the shadow of Chicago's Merchandise Mart and training at Ruth Page or Maria Tallchief's studios at night. Seeing the same old faces at the same auditions, I can relate to that. But, some of these dancers I couldn't relate to...and I probably wouldn't hang out with outside of a dance class, show or audition. We'll see if that changes. (Lounging around a pool all day and dating a Pussycat Doll at night like one of the dancers, a little hard for me to relate to as well---Tho' my wife is prettier than any of the PD's!)

So, a mixed bag so far for DL. But, it should be required viewing for any local dancers thinking of heading to LA after they graduate. (And, you know who you are!) Monday nights on MTV. More info at MTV.Com.

1.17.2007: Overheard in CCDC Ballet V/VI

"Your weight is naturally evenly balanced between your legs in grand plie' second position. Make sure you can say the same thing in fourth, and, even, fifth position, even though it's NOT natural! That's the path to becoming 'super' natural!"

"Your weight should be balanced between two legs in first position. But, don't rest on your heels! It's like you're in a releve', but your legs are so long and turned out, your heels kiss the floor...but, barely and gently!"

"But, your preparation for pirouette is NOT a classical fourth position. Put as much weight as you can on your front leg with your pelvis underneath you to prepare to turn. "

"Your legs should degage' like a switchblade! So fast and strong and long...it cuts through the air! Feet pointed like blades!"

"One of the only reasons you plie' is so you can come back with more stretched legs, presenting more turn-out at the top of the inner thighs."

"Don't do the easy thing in your promenade en de dans. Turning in first is the natural thing to do, but, it's the wrong thing to do in this case. Dancers have to make unnatural movements, beautiful, natural and elegant."

"Make it 'achingly beautiful'! NOT just 'aching'! Take my breath away because it's so good! NOT because it's so bad!"

"Dancers go up and GROW UP. Ordinary people go up and fall-down. What did you just do?"

"Learn from your mistakes and make the corrections right away. Then it's not a mistake. Repeat your mistakes and they'll just become bad habits! Repeat with corrections and, eventually, you'll just be doing correct technique!"

"You mustn't do the same technique you learned when you were younger. You can't do the same plie', same tendu, the same developpe' a la seconde. You're better now, more turned out, stronger and longer. Show me a difference between what you used to do in Ballet II and here in Ballet V/VI!"

1.11.2007: I Want My Dance TV!

Just got this in the e-mailbag from the xCOEd:
"...Have you seen "dirty dancing" on WE? it's more of a ballroom competition where they have a guy (i think in all cases) pick 3 girls from a lineup and then they teach them this dance, 1 goes immediately, then the 2 compete in front of an audience and the guy picks the partner he wants to compete in the final competition against all the other couples. it's interesting b/c some of the guys/girls have experience, some don't. and its the guy who picks the girls..."
I've been meaning to alert readers and dancers to this show. Caught a couple episodes over the break. It's another hybrid of reality TV competition meets cattle call audition. And, it's on the "Women's Entertainment" channel for a reason. The producers obviously cast tall, good-looking professional male dancers to attract the female demographic. I like the show because I like any show that features dancing and dancers. (Usually. Sometimes I kid because I care!) But, my only peeve is all my second-guessing on who's going to be chosen has been wrong! Some of the women have had some dance training and that's my preference. Some of the contestants have charisma and flair and charm and a performance quality that's also very attractive. But, the professional dancers usually end-up picking partners that I wouldn't have chosen. I can only imagine what's going on when the cameras are off!

The debut of Grease...You're The One That I Want was this weekend. It also follows the AI model, but, the winners in this case will be cast as the leads in the revival of the perennial petrol production. It's entertaining, but, I almost always end up yelling at the screen, "TAKE SOME DANCE CLASSES!" Especially at the guys. The first cut came with the singing and the "look". The second cut came with a little dancing. The judges would ask some of the auditioners "Can you dance?" And, the answer always was some variation of "Yes, of course!" But, the real question should have been: "Have you trained in dance?" not what they heard, which was: "Have you ever made a fool of yourself on the dance floor of a club or school dance?" Because it became clear so few of the guys especially knew their left foot from their right. So, for you aspiring broadway stars: TAKE SOME DANCE CLASSES!

But, here's what we can learn from GYTOTIW: the judges made their first evaluations based on "the look". Did the auditioners "look" like Sandra Dee or whatever the name of the John Travolta role is? The judges had one guy come back with hair greased and in a 50's look...not the 90's slacker look he came in with. Another contestant raised some eyebrows after he came back looking like Dmitriy Komm meets James Dean. (Think "Rebel Without A Clue"!) For everyone who's going to be auditioning soon...whether for a ballet summer intensive or jazz dance workshop...LOOK the part! Hair in bun, no wispies or bangs, neat leotard for the clean, classical look. A little more trendy and street for hip-hop, modern or jazz intensives. Stand like a dancer! Suck in that lower stomach! Lengthen out that lower back! Long neck! Shoulders back! No gum! Look the part to get the part!

1.9.2007: CCoDys...and More

Before we can officially kick off 2007, we have to wrap up 2006 by handing out the annual GoCCDC.Com "CCoDy Awards". (What's CCoDy stand for? Why "Capital City Order of Dance achievement of the Year", of course!) So, roll out the red carpet, cue Joan Rivers and (drumroll) can we have the envelope, please! (Just to make it fair, no CCDC productions are entered in the competition. Please, no wagering!)

The CCoDy for best dance on television goes to two Must See TV shows for dancers this year: Dancing With the Stars, Season Three and So You Think You Can Dance, Season Two. Benji Schwimmer won SYTYCD by dancing with boyish good looks and charm and Emmitt Smith and Mario Lopez showed how macho men dancing can be in DWTS, but the real winners were the audiences. Hopefully, reality TV is introducing more Americans to even the concept of watching dance. Perhaps we're training the dance audiences of the future. One can hope... (The trend is continuing in 2007. The debut of Grease! You're The One That I Want! was this weekend on network television. More on that in a later post. And, the MTV reality show on dancers trying to make it in LA starts later this month.)

The CCoDy for most intriguing dance development of the year goes to YouTube.Com. It's not just a time-waster at school or work, though it can be. Being able to access video segments of dancers and companies from around the world is a notion that could be revolutionary. Dance on-line and on-demand is the future of the performing art. Now, how do we make it pay off for choreographers and dancers?

The CCoDy for best dance news of 2006 is actually going to occur in 2007. The announcement of Hancher Auditorium's sponsorship of the Joffrey Ballet's free concert tour across the state this summer is a bright spot in what is usually a seasonal doldrum of dance.

And, a CCoDy of appreciation to the outgoing director of the Department of Cultural Affairs. Anita Walker believes she won't be reappointed by the new Governor as director. Walker did good work during her tenure. Here's hoping the new director will more actively promote the performing arts and training in the state.

A lifetime achievement CCoDy goes to the late Bill Riley. The man known as "Mister State Fair" influenced generations of young performers to try their best, compete a little harder and dream a little bigger. More than a few CCDC students were personally saddened at the news of his passing. A tip of the top hat to the quintessential Iowan.

But, the biggest and brightest CCoDy goes to the return of the local "prodigal son", Jason Hartley of the Washington Ballet for producing and performing in the Dancing For My Mother benefit concert this past summer. The seeds of cooperation between competing local interests could produce lasting benefits by healing long-standing rifts and rivalries in a fractured dance community. And, watching Jason perform Nocturne Monologue, Lacrymosa and Blue Until June was manna for the soul. Hopefully, he'll be able to arrange his schedule for an encore this year.

Did I miss anything? I didn't see everything that came through the area this year. My biggest regret is missing Savion Glover and Hubbard Street. Anything else you think deserves mention? What tripped your dance trigger last year?

1.4.2007: Back to the Barre

Overheard in CCDC Winter Break classes:
"The old saying is: if you want to do something in the coming year, make sure you do it in the beginning of the year. Nice to see so many of you starting 2007 by coming to dance class!"

"Somewhere, today, right now, your future competition is training to get better. What are you going to do about it?"

"Your brain may remember, but, your body forgets. Your body will do as little as it can get away with. You have to make sure you work harder than you think just to get back to where you used to be before break."

"There's a reason you came back to this specific dance class today. Are you making it happen?"

"You needed to rest. You needed the break. You're not a machine. But, right now, it's time to get back to work."

"To get to the land of full artistic expression, you need the map of strong technique. You can't put up a building if you neglect to lay the foundation."

"The only thing that surpasses the pain of coming back to ballet...is the pain of not coming back to ballet."

1.3.2007: Dance, Dance Resolution

I never started out to become a professional dancer.

When I was younger, I wanted to become an astronaut, a submarine explorer, an inventor, an author, a professional basketball player. When my father dared to question my future NBA plans as short as I was, I hotly replied I was planning on being able to jump "twice my height". Dad was never really supportive of my becoming a professional "baller", but, I showed him by ending up becoming a professional "ballet-er". (He got what he deserved. Like one male dancer I know would often proudly proclaim, "I am the pink sheep of the family".)

I started my dance career by taking an Intro to Ballet Class at the University. I wish I could say I instantly fell in love with dance...but, instead, I was instantly fond of the outstanding female to male ratio in Beginning Ballet! (Seven to one!) But, the discipline and endless pursuit of perfection gradually won me over as well. When the semester was over, I fully intended to continue.

Only problem, the school wasn't offering the next level due to lack of interest. If I wanted to continue, I'd have to jump up to Second Year Ballet with only a semester of dance under my dance belt. My not-so-promising dance career was going to be nipped in the bud before it began! I didn't think I could bridge that gap. I was beginning to investigate alternatives. Even considering a (gasp!) Modern Dance Class.

But, fortunately, fate intervened. One of the dance majors was taking every single ballet class offered prior to a move to New York. And, when I told her about my predicament, she waved her hand dismissively. She said, "You can take Ballet II. Not a problem! I've seen you in class, you'll keep up!"

So, I signed up. And, it wasn't as easy as she predicted. I actually had to work hard at it, but, I did keep up. And, I kept it up. As long as I was having fun, I kept at it. And, then, I started setting little goals: getting into the Spring Dance Concert, getting into the ballet piece, getting a part in the Nutcracker, getting paid to perform. Little by little, my goals kept getting higher and higher. But, I kept having fun, so, I kept going for it. Finally, my only goal remaining was leaving the islands and competing with mainland dancers for a full-time, professional contract with a ballet company. And, it wasn't easy, but, I worked hard at it. Success comes when everyone eventually gets tired of saying "no" to you. Eventually, if you keep knocking on enough doors, one will open. You just have to be ready when that happens.

So, let that be your New Year's Resolution this year. Have fun! Work hard at pursuing your passion! Be ready! Set some goals! Take all your classes! Listen more to your teachers! Dream big dreams, take risks and dare to do more than you think you can! Don't wait! Make 2007 "the year"! Hau'oli makahiki ho'u!

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