Le Spectre De La Rose Ballet – Still Famous Over A Hundred Years Later

le spectre de la rose ballet
le spectre de la rose ballet
Photo of Nijinsky and Karsavina in the first performance of “Spectre de la rose”, 1911

Le Spectre De La Rose is a ballet in one act (choreographic tableau) about a young girl who dreams of dancing with the spirit of a souvenir rose from her first ball.

Jean-Louise Vaudoyer based the ballet story on a verse by Theophile Gautier.

The Le Spectre De La Rose Ballet was originally choreographed by Michel Fokine to music by Carl Marie von Weber’s piano piece Aufforderung Zum Tanz. (Invitation to the Dance), which was orchestrated by Hector Berlioz.

The original sets and costumes were designed by Leon Bakst.

Le Spectre De La Rose Ballet was first presented on the 19th of April 1911 at the Theatre de Monte Carlo by Ballets Russes.

Vaslav Nijinsky danced the part of the rose, which became his most famous role, and Tamara Karsavina danced the part of the young girl.

The ballet was a huge success, and it especially became famous for the spectacular leap that Nijinsky made through a window at the end of the ballet. At the time critics praised this seemingly superhuman feat.

Unfortunately today we have no way of knowing just how high Nijinsky did in fact jump. It is possible that it was no higher than many dancers who have followed him in the role over the years, but the effect that he created through the quality of his elevation was immense and unforgettable.

When choreographer Mikhail Fokine was working on the storyline for Le Spectre De La Rose, there was little to suggest that the ten-minute ballet was destined for fame. Nijinsky’s sister, who was also a great choreographer in her own right, felt disappointed when watching rehearsals at the mundane looking enchainements without any innovation. However as the rehearsals progressed, it became increasingly apparent that Nijinsky’s instinctive and total understanding of the role would illuminate the ballet in an extraordinary way.

The first Le Spectre de la Rose was not acclaimed exclusively for Nijinsky’s performance, but also the interaction of the dancer with his ballerina, the serene and beautiful Tamara Karsavina, who ignited the richly romantic aura of the ballet. Karsavina created a gentle balance to Nijinsky’s bounding, swirling spirit, and both of them shone.

Le Spectre de la Rose has been revived regularly by many ballet companies in all parts of the world and remains a challenge in which dancers of each new generation continue to set their sights upon.

Le Spectre De La Rose Ballet Story

The story unfolds in a young girl’s bedroom, painted in white with its windows open to the summer night. The girl has just returned from her first ball holding a rose to her lips and breathing in its scent.

Dreamily, she removes her cloak and sinks into a chair and falls asleep to dream of the ball.

Suddenly a spirit, half-youth, half-rose, floats into the room through the open window. Like a petal, blown in by the wind, he barely touches the floor as he dances. As he dances he bends over the sleeping girl and draws her into the dance.

But the dream cannot last and he leads her back to her chair, brushes her lightly with his lips, and is gone.

Her eyes open, and she stoops to retrieve the rose whose scent recalls her dream.

Tribute to Nijinsky: Petrouchka / Le Spectre de la Rose / L’ Apres-midi d’un Faune [VHS]

This is one of the only resources that I could find today, and believe it or not only on VHS. Really strange.

This composition in the style of the romantic ballet illustrates exactly Fokine’s contention that the technique of the classical ballet should be used only where it is appropriate.

Le Spectre de la Rose is a classic pas de deux with the dancing used in leaps and bounds to evoke an ethereal being, the spirit of the rose, rather than to display an extraordinary technique.

The arm positions used in this ballet are far from the ‘correct’ port de bras arms used in ballet as they are meant to be alive and speak and sing, and not just execute positions. So even though the legs are purely classical the dance style suggests the product of a young girl’s romantic imagination.

Here is a video of the ballet for you to enjoy.

Petrushka Synopsis And A Brief History

petrushka synopsis

If you are looking for the Ballet Petrushka Synopsis, you can scroll down a little, but first a little history.

Petrushka is considered a Burlesque ballet and it is done in one act and four tableaux. It was first performed by Ballets Russes at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris on the 13th of June 1911.

The choreography was done by Fokine and the music was composed by Stravinsky.  The scenery and costumes were designed by  Alexandre Benois.petrushka synopsis

Of all the masterworks that were created by the Diaghilev Ballet, Petrushka is generally considered the greatest because it is the supreme example of the perfect collaboration.

Butterweek Fair was recreated from the childhood memories of Alexandre Benois and stimulated by Stravinsky’s short piece, Petrushka’s Cry, which had first roused Diaghilev’s interest in the ballet theme.

This ballet is a great example of a plot within a plot. It is filled with national and traditional dances of the people at the fair. The music that Stravinsky composed was music within music. The second part of the music describes the principal characters, both their outer appearances and their inner feelings.

Petrushka also shows quite vividly the motivating principle of Fokine’s revolution. He sought to make ballet a powerful art in its own right, not just spectacular entertainment. To do this within Petrushka he used images and symbols like poetry.

Petrushka portrayed the downtrodden, the Ballerina was a symbol of empty womanhood and the Moor personified all smug, self-satisfied people.

So all in all Petrushka was a perfect fusion of music, design, and dancing to communicate a message with meaning.

This process is clearly shown through Petrushka himself. Benois created his outer form in the costume and grotesque make-up of the puppet. Then the torment of his inner personality is revealed in Stravinsky’s music. His relations and conflict with the outside world are portrayed in the choreography. His turned in position depicts his introvert nature while the Moor’s turned out second positions depict him being an extrovert.

The corps de ballet creates the seething life of the fair and nothing in the dancing is virtuoso. Everything is expressive and the principles of romanticism are translated into this character ballet.

Petrushka Synopsis

Scene 1:

This scene takes place in Admiralty Square, St Petersburg in 1830, during the Butterweek Fair.

Hawkers, dancing girls, gypsies, and showmen of all kinds and their customers fill the square. One of the showmen is dressed as a magician and calls attention to his curtained booth with a drum roll.

petrushka synopsisHe shows the crowds three of his puppets, a pretty doll-like Ballerina, a sad-faced insignificant Petrushka and the foolish, but splendid Moor.

With a touch of his wand he seems to bring them to life and they dance and chase each other around the square.

Scene 2:

Petrushka is in his cell inside the booth. He bemoans his fate and his hopeless love for the Ballerina. He complains about his subservience to his master the showman and his suffering inside his puppet’s body. When the Ballerina visits him, his agitation frightens her away.

Scene 3:

In the Moor’s cell, the Moor plays idly with a coconut. He is stupid and coarse and thinks only of his material needs. The ballerina visits him and exerts her charms to arouse his interest. She succeeds but in the midst of their duet, Petrushka forces his way into the cell. The Moor attacks him, stamps on him and kicks him out.

Scene 4:

At the fair the crowd becomes aware of tumult behind the curtains of the showman’s booth. Petrushka runs out, pursued by the Moor and the Ballerina. Cut down by the Moor’s scimitar, Petrushka dies in the snow.

The crowd is horrified by the tragedy and angrily summon the Showman, but he picks up the body and reveals it as only a puppet of cloth and sawdust.

The crowd drifts away and the Showman turns for home, dragging the puppet behind him. Suddenly he hears a cry. Above the booth appears the ghost of Petrushka, defying him for the last time.  The Showman is terrified and he runs from the scene as the figure of Petrushka falls inanimate once more over the edge of the booth.

That’s it for a short and sweet Petrushka Synopsis.

Here is a full copy of Petrushka for you to enjoy.

For the Firebird Synopsis, click here.

How To Dance With Pointe Shoes – Tips For The Class Room

How to dance on pointe shoes

how to dance with pointe shoesHere is a post dedicated to the subject on how to dance with pointe shoes, as it is not as easy as ballerina’s make it look.

It is the dream of every little girl who does ballet to dance in pointe shoes.  In fact, all my pupils at some stage of their training ask me when they can buy their first pair of pointe shoes. Ballet is the only dance form that uses pointe shoes, although I have seen other dance forms lately attempting to adopt dancing on their toes for various shows or competitions.

Of course, the reality of dancing with pointe shoes is quite a different story and not a glamorous one at that.  There are blisters, ingrown toenails and varying degrees of pain to deal with. Learning to dance ‘en pointe’ is a long training process that takes years.

Pupils have to work slowly to develop the required strength in their feet and ankles before they start to do the complicated steps that they see the stars doing. There are no short cuts here, otherwise, you could be putting yourself in danger of getting permanent injuries.

Here is some practical advice for teachers and pupils who are learning the art of pointe work.

How To Dance With Pointe Shoes

How To Strengthen the Feet

If you want to know how to dance with pointe shoes, you must know that you won’t be able to do this properly until you have strong feet.

When doing your normal ballet class, make sure all your movements are with your feet using the floor.  There should be a feeling of pushing the floor away from you whenever you do a tendu. Your feet and the floor need to become good friends, and your feet need to use the floor with pressure in order to get strong enough over the years to master pointe work.

Here are a few more great ways to strengthen the feet:

  • While sitting curl foot into a c-shape to strengthen arch and hold for a while.
  • Walk while rising and lowing through the demi point, preferably working with no shoes.
  • Write the alphabet in cursive with your feet, one foot at a time.
  • While sitting push toes into the floor with pressure to arch feet (like pushing a towel underneath foot).  Hold for 10 seconds.
  • Scrunch up a towel with the feet.
  • Keep the heel on the floor in one spot and push the towel side to side with the toes.
  • Sit flat on knees to stretch the front of the foot.
  • Put the front of the foot against the wall with the foot flat and slowly stretch the knee and try to keep the top of the foot on the wall.
  • A good exercise to start with is standing parallel facing the bar.  Place foot on the calf and step up to 1st before lowering through the feet.  You can also do plies and rises then straighten legs turned in or out.
  • Do multiple rises and releves every week, on two feet and one foot.

Notes For Teachers

What Exercises Should I Start My Pupils  With En Pointe

When you dance in your pointe shoes for the first time, walk, run, and skip in the shoes first to get used to them.  They will feel totally different from the normal ballet slipper, and your foot will have to work a lot harder to make the shoes point and look good.

All pointe work should be done with the support of a barre or a partner, to begin with.  Gradually the student places less weight on the bar and more on his or her toes.

Many repetitions of rises and releves on two feet and then moving from two feet to one foot are required here. This is how to dance with pointe shoes in the beginning until your feet get stronger.

Be very careful of the overarched foot – the sole of the shoe must first be softened.  Make sure the knuckles of the toes don’t bend when standing on pointe.  The overarched foot will need more strengthening than the average foot in general.

Rolling feet in or out places strain on the ankles and knees, so insist on the student/dancer getting this right.

Here are some exercises for teachers to try with their pupils:

  • Stand parallel 1st on point and go from one foot to the other through demi point.  One foot goes down as the other goes up.  Both feet are ¾ point at the same time.
  • Facing bar, do battements tendus to each position and releve in each position.
  • Releve 5th and then retire devant 3 x, then retire passé to repeat on the other side.
  • Releve 5th and release back foot to do petit pas de bouree piques.
  • To teach courus do small foot changes on point.  Little courus on the spot with slightly relaxed knees.  Then go along bar facing it leading with the back foot.
  • Do walks up on toes.
  • Echappe to 2nd, not too wide and hold for 3 counts before closing to strengthen the feet.
  • Echappe to 4th and hold.  Make sure they stretch through the backs of knees.
  • Once they are stronger  you can bring them into the centre for echappes.

Once your pupils are more experienced try:

  • Rises through ¼, ½, ¾, and up in 1st, 2nd and 5th.  Show resistance in heels when going down.
  • Demi Plies and rises.
  • Tendu’s and Echappes.
  • Echappes and Detournes.
  • Releves two feet to one foot.
  • Pas de bourees Piques and Courus.
  • Courus on the spot with coupe over.
  • Up in 5th and move one leg at a time back, front, back and rest on point changing weight.
  • Walk along bar and back by bringing feet over, over, over and then under, under, under. (emboites)

Centre:

  • Releves devant and derriere with Echappes.
  • Walks with developes coming down through the feet.

Try to always work beyond your syllabus requirements. The process is slow and tedious, but this is how to dance with pointe shoes as you gradually get stronger and the idea is to make dancing on pointe look effortless.

How Do You Know If You Are Ready To Dance In Pointe Shoes?

Never start a beginner on pointe.  Even an adult should have a minimum of two years of dancing experience first.

The normal age varies between 11 and 14 years, although later is better.  Rather start later than earlier when learning how to dance with pointe shoes as the bodies must be mature and strong and growth in the foot must be settled. Never start pointe work before puberty.

The pupil should have even turnout, and be able to control the turnout from the hip.  She or he should have a good understanding of transfer of weight, and should be able to do releves and rises strongly on demi pointe.  The pupil should be able to rise and releve with ease on one foot.  Posture and balance must also be secure.

Other Pointe Shoe Problems

For the overarched foot, get them to sew a thick piece of elastic over the shoe for support until the feet have strengthened and the pupil has learned to support the feet.  Don’t allow them to go too far over as this will weaken the foot.

If one foot is bigger than the other, buy shoes for the bigger foot or buy 2 pairs.

A broken shoe means that muscles are weak and the student is not pulling up off the foot or she is sitting into the foot, thus putting undue pressure on the shoe and her feet.

Before starting point treat the feet with meths or camphrey or canyon herbal cream.  This helps to reduce the incidence of blisters.

If shoe twists off the heel then it is too big.

If the shoe is too small, the toes will be squashed. How to dance with pointe shoes

The heel should stay in the shoe on demi point and foot mustn’t slip in the shoe.

To fit a pointe shoe, stand in 2nd  and demi plie.  Relax foot and spread toes, as this stretches foot to its longest point.

Toes should be slightly touching the block with no pressure on the sides or top.  The shoe must be tight-fitting, but not the foot shouldn’t be squashed.  Be careful the shoe is not too pointy on the toe area.  Make sure that ribbons are tied correctly to support the ankles.

The other important aspect of how to dance with pointe shoes is choosing the right pair of pointe shoes for you.  The choice nowadays is vast, and there is a shoe type to suit every foot.  Go Here To Find Out More About Types of Shoes.

Scheherazade Ballet Story And History

Scheherazade ballet story

The Scheherazade Ballet is another one of those old Russian Ballets that has stood the test of time. In this article, I will be looking at both the Scheherazade ballet story and history, as I love to see how these old ballets originated and were put together.

A Bit Of Ballet History

The original Scheherazade ballet premiered on the 4th of June 1910 at the Opera Garnier in Paris and was danced by Ballet Russes. Michel Fokine did the Choreography and libretto. Leon Bakst did a lot of the design work and the ballet was famous for its traditional and dazzling costumes, opulent scenery, and erotic choreography.

Nijinsky who danced the golden slave was painted gold and eroticism was highly present in the orgiastic scenes played out in the background.

Controversially, Scheherazade was one of the first stage and ballet instances of people simulating sexual activity. Nijinsky was short and androgynous but his dancing was powerful and theatrical. Scheherazade flipped the conventions of classical ballet through the redirection of audiences’ focus from the grace and beauty of female bodies to male prowess and sensuality.

As opposed to the classical ballets of the time, the choreography of Scheherazade included more sensuous movements including body waves and closer contact. The Golden Slave also incorporated more rippling and slower, sultry movement as opposed to the large, jump, and turn heavy male solos audiences were used to seeing in classical ballets.

Fokine’s choreography was based on the study of Persian miniatures and he managed to realize the feeling and thought of each of the characters expertly.

This ballet needs artists of the quality of its original performers to interpret the subtleties of Fokine’s style and achieve a proper suspension of disbelief. For this reason, it is a work by which to remember the Russian Ballet rather than to revive today.

No revival has managed to achieve more than a bogus Orientalism, which seems crude and feeble and very far from the power of the original.

Scheherazade Ballet Story

In the video above you can see the entire Scheherazade ballet done by the Russians.

This ballet is based on the first tale in the book of The Thousand And One Nights. Although creating a tremendous impression through the performance of its principal artists with Ida Rubinstein as the first Zobeida, Cecchetti as the first Chief Eunuch and Nijinsky as the first golden slave, the honors go chiefly to the decor that was done by Bakst.

His skillful mix of violent glowing color with the cunning use of perspective created exactly the atmosphere of sensuality and passion with the theme required. Bakst’s designs were so successful that they influenced Parisian fashions at once and continued to influence interior decoration for many years thereafter.

The Scheherazade storyline runs as follows:

Shahryar who is the king of India and China is seated in his harem with his favorite wife Zobeida on his left-hand side and his brother Shah Zeman on his right.Scheherazade ballet story

Shahryar is angry because his brother has hinted that is wives are unfaithful. To test the harem, Shahryar departs on a hunting expedition.

As soon as he is gone the wives adorn themselves with jewels and bribe the Chief Eunuch to open two of three blue doors at the back of the room where the male slaves live.

The Chief Eunuch is about to depart when Zobeida demands that the third door too shall be opened. Deaf to his warning and entreaties she insists and bribes him.

There is a flash of gold and a Negro leaps from the open door to Zobeida’s side. Together they fall upon the devan.

Immediately young men, musicians, and servants bring in food, wine, and music.

They dance lead by the Golden Slave, joined by Zobeida.

In the midst of this party, Shahryar returns. The slaves and women seek blindly to escape only to be cut down by the Shahryar’s soldiers.

The Chief Eunuch is strangled and Shahryar himself destroys the gold-clad Negro.

Our Scheherazade ballet story ends with Zobeida. Proudly, she confronts the Shah, then preferring death to public dishonor, she snatches a dagger and takes her own life.

Ballet Tips For Beginners

ballet tips for beginners

If you are looking at starting ballet classes, especially as an adult, you will probably be looking for ballet tips for beginners, so these are some of my tips on how to start training for ballet, especially if you start when you are older than the normal age of five.

If you are an adult wanting to get good at ballet you will need to be spending at least three hours a week in class, especially if you are an adult beginner, as your body has set, and the movements will be a little more difficult to master than a child whose body is still soft and pliable.

You will also need a lot of work in the beginning so that your body can learn the muscle memory required for ballet so be patient with yourself during the first year or two while your body learns what it should be doing.

Learning your basic arm and leg positions is a good idea to do before you attend your first official ballet lesson.

Ballet Tips For Beginners

ballet tips beginners

These ballet tips are designed for the older beginner who would like to take his or her dancing to the next level, and not just somebody who is doing ballet for fun and exercise purposes.

Ballet Tip Number One:

Don’t Be Obsessed With Your Body Shape

The body shape is really important in ballet and some people are born with that perfect ballerina body. But for the majority of us, we have to make the best out of what we are given. Learning ballet will give you grace and improve your posture, so already you will have a major advantage over the majority of the population.

Work hard in class and concentrate on what muscles should be activated at what times, and in this way, you will always improve on what you have.

Supplement your ballet training with some yoga and Pilates as this will strengthen and tone all the right muscles.

Ballet Tip Number Two:

Learn To Take Correction

Your teacher is there to give you help and correct your technique. Sometimes it may feel as if she is picking on you, but this is not the case, and you will most likely find that she is only trying to help you to be the best dancer that you can be.

If you get corrected, try to absorb and work on the correction as the smaller details are what is going to make you the better dancer in the end.

Ballet Tip Number Three:

Do It Often

Ballet is not something you are going to improve in if you choose to take one lesson a week. The more you do it the better you will get. One lesson a week students generally are in the class to get some exercise and not to actually improve their dancing skills in a hurry.

Ballet Tip Number Four:

Listen To Your Body

Ballet is a physically demanding art that requires your body to do all sorts of things that are not normal.

Don’t try to get there in a day. Work consistently to strengthen your muscles and don’t force your joints to do things that they are not ready for.

Some of the most common mistakes beginners (and even more experienced dancers) make that can cause damage to their bodies are:

  • forcing their feet to turn out instead of using the hips to turn out the legs and feet.
  • trying to do dangerous leaps and jumps without learning to land properly first.
  • going into pointe shoes before the muscles are sufficiently trained.
  • doing backbends without supporting them with your core muscles.
  • forcing or bouncing stretches. Consistent gentle stretching will get you there in the long run.
  • only do what your body feels comfortable doing, so if you have bad knees, don’t do full plies, or if you have back problems don’t kick your leg too high behind you.

ballet tips for beginners

Ballet Tip Number 5:

Stretch Often

Try to do some stretching every day, as having a flexible body will leave you less prone to injury, and your dancing will also look better if your body can move freely.

For some great stretching routines I highly recommend this stretching article and the course recommended at the end of it.

Ballet Tip Number 6:

Practice, Practice And Then Practice Some More

During class time, take advantage of the time you have in the studio and with a teacher.

Put in your best effort all the time and don’t be tempted to do anything half-way because you are getting tired. If you channel your energy into the right places, you will get the results you are wanting.

More Ballet Tips For you:

Here is a great video to give you more tips on the actual ballet steps that you are learning and doing.

If you have any more ballet tips for beginners, please feel free to add them to the comments section below.

Are You Dancesafe?

dancesafe

dancesafe

As a dancer, you need to respect your body by being dancesafe and practicing safe dance practice at all times.

Believe it or not, dancing is great for your body and dancers tend to live long lives in superb health. They seem to maintain their strength, suppleness and good posture well into old age.

Let’s look at Margot Fonteyn for instance who danced professionally well into her sixties or Frederic Franklin who performed with the American Ballet Theater when he was ninety.

But dancers, just like all elite athletes need to look after their bodies in order to perform at their best and avoid injury.

How To Remain Dancesafe

Luckily most qualified teachers and professional companies know more now than ever before about safely training the dancer’s body so that it performs at its best.

Knowing about your own joints and muscles and being able to heed their warnings is the crucial first line of defense against overuse injuries along with making sure you have the proper footwear and are dancing on sensible floors.

Even though this is all common sense, it is easy to let things slide, especially when there are many demands on your time.

It is tempting to confuse hard work, discipline and occasional discomfort entailed in ballet with unhealthy patterns of thought and behavior.

You won’t be able to dance if you discipline yourself into illness or injury.

Being dancesafe includes:

  • working on decent sprung floors or floors that have ‘give’ in them to protect the dancer’s bones and knees.
  • training the correct muscles in the correct alignment to avoid long term injuries.
  • avoiding risky behavior that shortens a dancer’s career. This includes doing steps and tricks before a dancer is physically ready for them.
  • getting enough rest in between dance classes and rehearsals and maintaining a consistent schedule.
  • last but not least practicing good nutrition.

Let’s look at nutrition in the quest to being dancesafe, as this is something that many dancers don’t think is that important.

Being Nutritionally Dancesafe

Nutrition is obviously a fundamental part of being dancesafe, and often this is where dancers fall short as they are trying so hard to remain slender they tend to under-eat.dancesafe

Whatever body shape or type that you have, your dancing will improve if you are strong and lean. You also have to learn not to stint on nutrition, as real, vibrant long-term health relies on what you put into your body.

Food is more than just fuel, it is the construction material with which your body builds and repairs itself.

High-level athletic performance requires first-rate nutrition as you need the energy. You may feel that you are surviving quite well on a diet of junk food, but it will catch up with you. You will also feel so much better when you eat wisely.

Strive to get a good balance of fresh, non-processed foods that are free of additives, and organic where possible.

Rather than count calories, make your calories count. For instance, an orange and a soda both provide sugar for energy, but the orange is full of vitamin C while the soda is virtually nutrient-free.

Also, make sure that as a dancer you are eating enough. Insufficient calorie intake reduces muscle strength, endurance, speed, and coordination. You increase your risk of injury and prolong recovery after an injury.

Low blood sugar impairs your concentration, decision-making and mood. You will feel more angry, anxious, irritable and even depressed. Ultimately your health and your performance will suffer.

How To Eat Well

dancesafeThere is no miracle one food that has everything in it that we need, but it’s the sensible balance that makes the body run like a well-oiled machine.

We also require water, fiber, and our vitamins and minerals. Don’t rely on your supplements to get all your micronutrients because our bodies absorb nutrients much more efficiently and fully from real whole foods.

Fresh fruit and vegetables are the best sources for many crucial micronutrients, and they are low in calories and high in fiber. As a dancer make sure you are getting enough carbohydrates and lean protein into your diet. This includes whole grains and cereals, brown rice, meat, poultry, dairy, legumes, and nuts.

Diet don’ts include:

  • fad diets
  • eating extremes of any kind
  • refined and processed foods
  • food grown with pesticides, antibiotics or hormones
  • junk food
  • excessive caffeine
  • sodas – both regular and diet

The Secret Nutrient: Water

Hydration is also part of keeping our bodies well-nourished. All the body’s systems require enough water to function properly.

Because dancers and other athletes lose water through perspiration, it’s especially important to stay hydrated. No one can tell you exactly how much water your body needs because it varies from day to day, but every dancer should have access to water at all times.

If your urine is dark yellow rather than clear of light yellow, this could indicate dehydration, so make a water bottle part of your regular dance kit.

Smoking

dancesafe

There are a million reasons why you shouldn’t be smoking and the top ones are cancer, emphysema, and heart disease. As a dancer, you need to have lung capacity which will be reduced if you are a smoker.

Other reasons not to smoke include smelly hair, unhealthy skin, weak finger, and toenails. So if you want to dance to your full potential, its simple, don’t smoke.

Well, there you have it in a nutshell. I believe everything in moderation, and if you stick to the 80/20 percent rule you should be ok. So if you need the occasional treat make sure that it is less than 20 percent of the time, and 80 percent of the time you should be eating healthily.

Le Carnaval – What Happened To This Ballet?

le carnaval

Le Carnaval was a pantomime ballet which was one act long written and danced in the early 1900’s.

Lebretto and choreography was by Fokine

Music was written by Schumann and orchestration was done by Rimsky-Korsakov.

Scenery and Costumes were done by Leon Bakst.

Le Carnaval ballet was first performed after three spontaneous rehearsals as a charity performance in the Pavlov Hall in St Petersburg on the 20th of February 1910 by the Ballets Russes, then again in Western Europe at the Theater des Westens in Berlin on the 20th of May 1910.

le carnavalOn 14 September 1933, the ballet was revived again in London by the Ballet Russe de Monte-Carlo (staged by Woizikovsky) for Alexandra Danilova (appearing as Columbine).

In 1937, it was staged by the Vic-Wells Ballet with Margot Fonteyn dancing the role of “Columbine

This ballet has no real plot or storyline, it is merely a series of light, humorous, and joyous incidents combined with some moments of poignancy and an undercurrent of satire.

Le Carnaval The Ballet

Characters:

le carnavalColumbine

Chiarina

Estrella

Papillon

Harleqin

Pierrot

Eusebius

Pantalon

Florestan

Waltzers and Philistines

The Ballet Story:

The scene takes place in the ant-chamber of a ballroom and its only furniture is two small striped settees.

Columbine, Harlquin, Pantalon, the wistful Peirrot, and other characters from Commedia Dell’arte, intrigue, frolic and suffer with the characters of Schumann’s youthful imagination in a succession of dances and situations linked by the antics of Harlequin.

Le Carnaval had no great success with the Parisian public who saw it a month after Berlin in 1910.

Le Carnaval became beloved elsewhere and is recognized as one of Fokine’s more important works.

It is another exercise in his romantic revival, another restoration of the male dancer through the roles of Harlequin, Pierrot and Pantalon, first danced respectively by Nijinsky, Bolm and Cecchetti (with Karsavina as Columbine). Le Carnaval is  another ballet of contrasting moods evoked through dances which extend the range and forms of the pas de deux, pas de trois and pas seul which it uses.

The elusive combination of gaiety, sadness and precise timing required for the total effect is extremely difficult to achieve and the main reason why satisfactory performances of this ballet have very rarely been seen since the end of the Diaghilev Ballet.

Why Don’t We See This Ballet Much Anymore?

Le Carnaval seems to have been the most delicate, most exquisite ballet Michel Fokine ever created, as well as the most difficult to pinpoint.

As was the case with many of his works, the roles depended to a large degree upon the talents of the original performers, and if one looks at just the steps (except for the one Harlequin solo) they are almost simplistic. It was the infusion of lightness, gaiety, coyness, and self-absorption, combined with an underlying sadness, all of which must be contributed by the dancers themselves. That resulted in what most critics of the time regarded as a most effective adaptation of Schumann’s music and characters.

Recent attempts to reconstruct the work in England, Sweden, and the United States have had varying degrees of success. This is because the roles must be created from within each individual performer, not from externally imposed steps or gestures. They require someone like Fokine himself to elicit this from the dancers, which is unfortunately an almost impossible task for our more modern choreographers.

Teaching Dance Online – It’s Not Easy But Doable!

teaching dance online

As dance teachers worldwide are facing the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us are looking at ways of teaching dance online. This is something that may come naturally to some of the younger teachers, but most of us are in a whole new world, and it is posing somewhat of a challenge.

It is each teachers decision on what or how they are going to handle this crisis. Some are forging on ahead with online classes for their pupils, or even online classes for the worldwide public, and others like us are trying to keep our pupils motivated and practicing by sending them homework each week.

No matter what you decide to do, the important thing is to stay connected to your students and keep them enthusiastic about their dancing. Thanks to the world wide web this is entirely possible, no matter what platform you choose to do this from.

Platforms For Teaching Dance Online

teaching dance onlineOver the last week I have been looking into various platforms to enable teaching dance online and these are some of the best ones that I have come across.

ZOOM

Zoom seems to be the most popular method with most of the teachers at the moment. I think this is because it offers the best options when it comes to live streaming your dance classes.

Personally I find it cumbersome, and it is maybe due to the fact that I don’t own a laptop. The office where my desktop is standing has no space to even swing a cat, and on my IPad you have to stay in a small contained area so that your students can see you at all times.

Zoom works well if you want to teach a stretch class or Pilates as you don’t have to move around too much.

It also only works well if all your students have a good WiFi connection otherwise things are slowed down considerably.

With the free version you can host meetings or classes of no longer than 40 minutes.

Check out the Zoom Basics for Teaching Ballet Online article from The Ballet Source to get all the technical teaching dance online pieces in place first. Then, you can begin to schedule and prepare for teaching your classes live or prerecording using some of the best practices shared.

BAND

This is the one that we are using at present. What I love about Band is that you can organize your classes into different bands and invite all the students into the particular band that is their class. It then works almost like FaceBook as you can post video’s of what you want your students to work on, and they can post video’s back on the group so that they can be corrected, or if they are shy straight back to you via WhatsApp.

BAND is also super easy to use.

teaching dancing online

There is a live streaming feature, but one of our teachers tried it and wasn’t very successful with it. Zoom may be the better option in this regard.

I find this app is great as you can control who you invite to the group, and you have full control of what gets posted. Unlike WhatsApp, if people come into the group at a later date, they will be able to view everything posted on the group so far. This I feel will make an excellent resource for students to refer back to even once we go back to normal lessons.

BAND is an Android and iOS app where you can not only Group chat, but you have timelines to post to, albums to create, the ability to share photos from a particular event or get together, calendars to mark important days or meet ups, share files with whole group and have polls when you want to decide something and have your opinion heard.

It is an app which is great for every type of group. Whether you are a study group where you want to share notes, a music band who wants to decide on the songs you will be playing for the next concert, a football group who wants to decide on the next day of match or just a group of old friends who for some reason don’t want to use WhatsApp or Facebook and would like to have more privacy.

You can also access BAND from your computer. So even if you don’t have data plan from your operator, you can open band.us in office and see the latest happenings right from your desktop.

The app is simple to use and as soon as you have the app you can start a BAND, which is just a matter of giving a name to the group and you are done. After that you can use SMS, email or a link to invite other people to join the group. By default, the group made is Secret. You can choose if you want to approve members who put in requests to join. This is a great way to keep the bad apples at bay

Cons are there is limited storage space on the free version, and video’s over three minutes get taken down after 30 days. Also, BAND is not available on Windows phone platforms or on Windows.

Band is free to use but you can upgrade if you need more space.

Other applications that are similar to BAND that you may want to take a look at include Marco Polo – Stay In Touch, GroupMe, WeChat, and LINE.

WhatsApp

teaching dance onlineWhatsapp is still probably the most famous way right now to have group communications.

This platform is also a popular platform amongst dance teachers for getting video’s across for your students. The teacher simply creates groups for her dancers and sends them information. As the admin you can set if you want the admin only to post or allow the group to comment.

Here are some ideas of how WhatsApp can be used for teaching purposes:

  • You can create lessons in the form of text, video and audio messages and send one lesson per day to your students.
  • You can send your students assignments to complete.
  • You can also send personalized feedback as well as daily tips.

The reason I chose not to use WhatsApp is that it is too easy to share the content, and I didn’t want to see myself on video being distributed all over the entire net. I also think that people are getting tired of being on groups that continually interrupt them with notifications (which can also be managed).

WhatsApp groups lack features for more meaningful tasks. While it is easy to do meaningless banter there, but if you are a professional or even a semi-professional group then you will feel it difficult to actually synchronize with your group on any task. That is where BAND above can fix those holes.

FaceBook

Facebook is another popular option and you can also create private pages and content for your pupils. With this method it is also best to take video’s and download them into the relevant FaceBook page.

You can also do live classes via live stream on FaceBook which would probably work much the same way as ZOOM.

Teachable

Teachable is another great option for teaching dance online in the form of courses which you develop and sell. I think that this platform is designed more for teachers who want to develop courses to sell online.

There is a free limited version and then the next cheapest option is $29 per month.

This is a very professional platform for getting your classes across to the public with space for pictures, video’s and modules and then anyone can purchase the course with Teachable taking a percentage of the profits, depending on the upgraded level you are on.

Teachable is one of the leading platforms in the online course creation world. You can use the platform to build video, audio, and text-based courses that help you to monetize what you know and build on-demand products that earn you money.

Other similar platforms to this include:

  • hinkific
  • Learnworlds
  • Kajabi
  • LearnDash
  • Podia
  • Ruzuku
  • Academy of Mine

Tips For Teaching Dance Online With Either Video Or Live Streaming

teaching dance onlineCreate a Calm and Tidy Background

Remember to check what is in the background of the space you will be using to video. If you are just talking and not planning to do any demonstrating you could sit in your (neat) bedroom where it is quiet and you won’t be interrupted. Make sure your viewers can’t see your washing or untidy closet space in the background.

For the sake of keeping everything uncluttered and the focus on you, keep the background as clear as possible and close the door to any pets who may decide that they also need a ballet class today.

If you are demonstrating, make sure to move the furniture out of the way before you start. You could even try making a backdrop using a sheet or blanket to keep your viewers focused on what you are doing.

If you are videoing yourself, set your laptop or recording device up at a good height and step far enough away so that you can be seen from head to toe.

Try to demonstate a new step with your back to the camera as this makes it easier for pupils to copy you without having to think about what foot they are supposed to be using.

Lighting

Good lighting is often underestimated. Of course, most of us do not have professional lighting equipment at home to be able to establish the most picturesque of lighting situations, but many of us do have some degree of access to the natural light coming through our windows.

Try to put the back of the camera against a window so that natural light is on you with as few shadows as possible. This will make you look happier, brighter and more attractive to your students watching.

If using a light, set the light source right behind your camera and shine it towards the space you want to video.

Sound and Audio Settings

It is best of course to play your music through your device to a set of speakers. Test the volume and see if you can talk above the volume if need be and your pupils will hear you.

You could also capture your voice through a built in microphone on your computer or wireless headphones which will enable you to capture your voice with the best sound quality. Obviously most teachers will prefer using the built in microphone on their devices so that they don’t have headphones on while they are teaching.

If you are live streaming it is a good idea to mute your students while they listen to you teach. Because there is usually a slight delay in the connection, various voices trying to talk at once can be distracting and frustrating, especially for the younger classes. The older students can turn the audio on and off as need be, but otherwise you will need to mute and unmute them.

Please share any other tips you may have on teaching dance online below, as we are all scrambling for as much information we can get on this topic at the moment.

Ballet Barre Exercises

ballet barre exercises

Ballet Bar Exercises or as ballet students call it ballet barre exercises are an essential part of Ballet Training.  In fact there even those who look towards a Ballet Bar Workout to get fit, strong and supple.

Please note that this post may contain affiliate links.

Ballet Barre Exercises

ballet bar exercises
Fingers should rest on top of the bar. Do not grip as in the picture above.

All ballet classes normally start with ballet barre exercises.  This is a very important part of ballet training, as it trains the muscles of the body to apply the correct technique when dancing in the center.

At the barre you have a support so that you can concentrate more on getting the exercises right without worrying about falling over.  This said, one should never hang onto the bar.  Fingers of the hands should rest on it lightly, just as one would do if one had a partner.

Most ballet classes will start the bar with a plie exercise.

This is a simple bending action of the knees, making sure that they are placed well over the toes.  Beginners will start with demi plies in first, which is a bend with the heels still on the floor, while more advanced students will do full plies in first position, where they go further down with the heels lifting slightly off the floor. to aid the bend.

Plies can also be done in 2nd, 4th and 5th position, and you can read more about bar work here.

The next series of ballet bar exercises include tendus, battements glisses, batements jetes, ronds de jambe, battements fondus, petit battements and frappes.

These ballet barre exercises are all designed to work the muscle memory, improved technique, improve balance, learn how to use the legs and feet correctly while maintaining a good posture, and last but not least to develop precision and speed in the footwork.

Adage ballet bar exercises normally follow, which include slow movements with one leg in the air.  This builds up strength and flexibility in the dancer.  Adage also works the turnout within the hip socket.

The bar exercises normally end with grand battement, which is a throwing action of the leg with a controlled coming down.  Bar could also end with a series of releve exercises, which strengthen the feet and ankles and prepare the dancer for pointe shoes.

What If I Can’t Get To A Ballet Class?

These resources below give you some great ballet barre exercises and are structured in a way that anybody can follow, regardless if you are a dancer or not.

They can be purchased online and assist you in getting a great ballet bar workout.  Here are a few.  If you want to find out more about a certain product, simply click on the picture next to the description.

Cardio Barre

This Cardio Barre DVD is a bonus, as it contains four different bar workouts for the price of one.

Intro – 20 minutes

Beginner – 37 minutes

Intermediate – 40 minutes

Advanced – 52 minutes

Each workout progresses to a more difficult level by increasing the tempo of the music, the length of the workout, the amount of repititions in each exercise, and the difficulty of the exercise.

” I LOVE this DVD. I asked for it as a Christmas present and I’m still enjoying the beginner level workout. I use it 1-2xs a week as a full body strength workout. I rotate using it with cardio/treadmill workouts and other strength dvds. I always feel wonderfully energized and stretched afterwards.
I’m a former dancer and really enjoy the barre training and the low-impact cardio. I did not purchase a barre, but instead I use a high-backed kitchen chair.”

The Booty Barre

The booty barre by Tracey Mallett is a great way to work out and is getting very popular.

The Booty Barre DVD is a fun, unique, high energy class.
It fuses legendary fitness techniques from Pilates, Dance, Calisthenics and yoga.
You will streamline, firm, tighten and tone your entire body without adding any bulk. creating balance, posture, body awareness, flexibility and cardiovascular endurance.
The result is a body that looks and moves 10 years younger!
What’s the secret behind The Booty Barre?
  • Fat Burning Interval Training
  • Deep Toning Isometric Conditioning
  • Elongating Techniques inherent in Pilates and Dance. These are mixed together to create a NEW workout that will change how you exercise forever!
    Say goodbye to cellulite and belly fat with The Booty Barre
  • For this workout you will need a chair or a ballet barre and a set of 3-5 pound dumbbells

Review

Awarded Top 8 Workout DVD! –Best Health Magazine

Fluidity Fitness Exercise Barre

Beginner Workout – Fluidity founder Michelle Austin guides you through Fluidity’s beginner movements with foolproof instruction that guarantees you proper form and maximum results.

  • Intermediate Workout – Take your workout to the next level with intermediate positions and resistance bands to intensify your upper-body workout.
  • Advanced Workout – The ultimate whole-body challenge! Evolve your workout to a whole new level of intensity with advanced movements and the Fluidity Ball, designed to increase the challenge while adding a little fun.
  • Fluidity Ball, Pump and Resistance Bands – The Fluidity Ball is designed to make even our most advanced Fluidity positions more challenging and fun. Therapeutic movements with the Resistance Bands develop functional strength in the complicated shoulder joint where weights just won’t cut it.
  • FluidityFit Guide to Healthy Eating – Boost your energy, strengthen your immunity and accelerate your workout results with our nutritional guidelines to living a healthy and delicious whole foods way of life.

Need Your Own Ballet Bar?

Ballet Barre Portable Double Freestanding Ballet Bar 4’ Height Adjustable 29″ Base Anti Slip Aluminum Light Weight Sturdy Rust and Smell Free Fitness bar with Dance Stretch Band Carry Bag for Home

  • You can order this non slip bar online by simply clicking the link above.
  • Light weight premium aluminum and rust free.
  • Stretch band included as well as a carry bag.
  • Adjustable height and 4 feet long.
  • Easy to assembly and totally portable.
  • Exercise guide included with illustrated stretching exercises.

Please comment below if you have any other ideas on ballet barre exercises and how they will help you or if you have any questions.

I Just Love These Ballet Teacher Gifts

ballet teacher gifts

As a ballet teacher myself, I have decided to write a blog about the kinds or types of ballet teacher gifts that most ballet teachers will love.  I know it is sometimes very difficult to choose a ballet teacher gift, especially when you don’t know much about her likes and dislikes outside of the studio, but remember that all ballet teachers have something in common – they love ballet.

Here are some ideas to help you to make the decision easier when choosing a gift for your ballet teacher. This post does contain affiliate links.

Gifts Ballet Teachers Will Love

Here are some of my favorite finds when it comes to ballet teacher gifts.

If you need to find out more about the products shown on this page, just click on the pictures or links.

The above novelty dance teacher gifts are all under the $15 bracket and make wonderful gifts for your dance teacher to show her how much you appreciate her.

This Dancers Time Wall Clock, which will make a great addition to any dance studio.

Besplore Dance Quartz Wall Clock,Silent Non-Ticking,12 Inch,Silver Frame


  • MEASURES – 12″x 2″x 12″ (L x W x H).
  • GOOD VIEW – Easy to see from a distance and read the time which makes it great for the dance studio.
  • MATERIAL– Highly accurate quartz movement, Metal Frame and Acrylic Front Cover.
  • MODERN DESIGN – Simple and elegant and looks great on the wall of your home,classroom,patio,dining room,kitchen or office.

MAOFAED Dance Teacher Gift Cheer Coach Gift Dance Team Gift Dance Teacher Appreciation Gift (Dance Teacher)

  • Dance Teacher Appreciation Gift says  “Behind every dancer who believes in themselves is a teacher who believe in them first.”
  • Stainless Steel and it is lead free and nickel free, hypo allergenic, it doesn’t rust, change colour or tarnish.
  • Velvet bag- Only the most elegant velvet jewelry pouches are used to package and ship our bangle. 
  • Your teacher will remember you everytime she takes out her keys.

Keep calm and point your toes: Dance Teacher Notebook/Dance teacher quote Dance teacher gift appreciation journal Lined Composition Notebook 134 Pages … teacher appreciation gift notebook Series)

This dance teacher quote notebook is a great gift for your dance teacher.

The journal measures 8″ x 10″ with 134 lined pages.

It has a soft cover with matte lamination for durability.

Funny Dancing T-Shirt Great Gift For Dance Teachers, Coach T-Shirt

  • Solid colors: 100% Cotton; Heather Grey: 90% Cotton, 10% Polyester; All Other Heathers: 50% Cotton, 50% Polyester.
  • Imported.
  • Machine wash cold with like colors, dry low heat.
  • Funny Dancing T-Shirt, Get this hilarious “OMG Point Your Toes” dance quote tee shirt, Perfect gift for dance teachers or fans, Whether it’s ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, tap, tumbling, lyrical or classic dance.
  • Lightweight, Classic fit, Double-needle sleeve and bottom hem

Kikkerland Ballerina Jewelry Stand

  • Stylish ballerina jewelry holder.
  • Great for displaying necklaces, earrings and bracelets.
  • Dish at base holds rings and other small items.
  • Made of steel.
  • Measures 7 by 6.5 by 4-Inch.

If you want your ballet teacher gifts to remember you by for years to come, what better way than to buy a gift that she can use everyday, and each time she sees it she will think of you in some way.