Tag Archives: Choreography

Sunday Dance Mashup

Two views-every film should have a dance interlude….or shut the blinds, turn up the music, and go for it!

The New York Ballet Institute Summer Intensive on Pinterest! Enrolling Now! Scholarships for Male Dancers!

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Sessions are July 1-31, 2015 and August 1-31, 2015. Check out the Pinterest photos of this fabulous International Vaganova Summer Intensive.


If you would like to receive an application packet for The New York Ballet Institute Summer Intensive 2015, training information, scholarship assistance or general inquiry, please fill out the form above or contact them at nybisummer@gmail.com


The New York Ballet Institute Summer Intensive 2015

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Do you want to have a professional ballet career? Are you a professional dancer who is seeking to work on his/her artistry, performance, and refinement of your classical technique? The New York Ballet Institute, est. 1989, is hosting a Summer Intensive for Pre-professional advanced and Professional ballet dancers this Summer. The intensive will be directed by former Kirov and Mikhailovsky dancer and choreographer, Ilya Gaft, and his wife Zoya, also a 22-year ballet career veteran. He is a former Kirov, ABT and NYCB teacher, coach and choreographer. Former students and dancers include, Anna Liceica, Marcelo Gomes, Gillian Murphy, Larry May, Christopher Newman, Oksana Konobeyeva, Andrei Jouravlev, Irina Dvorovenko and Maxim Beloserkovsky, etc…. Teachers of ballet are also welcome and encouraged to attend the intensive for learning the correct Vaganova or ‘Russian’ methodology and choreography. Coaching sessions are available, too. Please email nybisummer@gmail.com for more information. The Ilya Gaft Dance Theatre will also be auditioning dancers through the course of the Summer Intensive for the company for rehearsals beginning in the Fall.

Write to Art

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What would your dream ballet school consist of? Utopic?

Self expression, a dictionary, communication, ballet and any of the forms of art should not have a price tag associated with them; this keeps the poor down, and allows only the sublime communication of expression of emotions and feelings to the rich. When England is considering removing dance from community schools and centers, we should be thinking of it. It is akin to denying the Irish the right to learn their own language in school, it is the same as sending those exercising freedom of expression to Siberia, it is a critic burning all of the erotic notebooks of a great painter, it is denying cultural and spiritual freedom, which to an artist, or a person, it is worse than the loss of any particular religious freedom. It is taking away the art supplies of children in public schools, or musical instruments, denying some people the right to dance, or covering the beauty of a face. It is the loss of expression. It is criminal, because it is constraining and reducing the human need to express oneself effectively, experience joy, in whatever way we are gifted to do so or allowed to behold or hear. It reduces options and intellect, feeling and hope.

Irish Trinity knot in Co. Sligo, IRE (c.1980)


People should not be confined to trying to find the meaning of life via the computer; it’s not in there, anymore than it can always be found in public works. The country would be a better place if everyone were required to produce or reproduce one work of art per year. No rules, no rewards, but a plan to exhibit on certain days, plays, performances, screenings,  readings, exhibitions, concerts, and otherwise share these works instead of posting opinions on Facebook. Express something! Cook. Create. Do. Read. Dance. If everyone did that when they came home from work, Facebook might be a friendlier and more interesting site. I get almost nothing really original from Facebook, but I receive something and give something through art. Art is an exchange of value, not merely a means to only promote oneself, one’s studio, or groupthink, but an opportunity to actually stir someone’s emotions and speak to people on a non-verbal basis without regurgitating news, or risking people not appreciating what you have to say, or worse, rife with all the bias, negativity, exploitation of cruelty and sensationalism that ‘news’ has become. The artist does not, or should not, care about what people think, but should make them think, or entertain, or inspire. Sharing is optional, not mandatory.

Free to say on my blog what my ideal school for ballet would be like, I can just imagine it: Mine would exist in the near future, but encompass the ideals of the past. Real ‘classical ballet’ would be taught. If today’s modern attitudes (think Terry Gilliam’s ‘Brazil’), were weighed, parent involvement would be discouraged-all parents. It would be free, of course, or only cost what one could afford to pay, and the word of the parents would be taken. There would be no long forms, embarrassment, or questions for the family or the child. Parents would be permitted to view the classes from high definition television screens by a feed in a comfortable public waiting room off-site, and my child would be welcome to have an adjustment period to see if the program suited her, and vice versa. No contact with parents would be allowed by teachers, staff, or others involved and there would be no opportunity for nepotism. No politics whatsoever. This would result in detachment. Parents would be encouraged to come to performances, and to allow their children an education free of stress and pressure. Students could go home any time they want to, for any period of time, no questions asked. Of course there would be some boundaries, and students would have to really want to be there. There would be total honesty and transparency in all things, however, with members of the collective, or public, ZERO profit motive, full benefits for all employees, full health services and dental, separate administrative offices and no principal or favoritism. Therefore, it would not be a business, an ego exalting enterprise, a proving ground, but rather a sort of collective, of the students and teachers with the purpose of improving minds and bodies altogether. There would be civility and proper ballet etiquette. It would be a place to become cultured, and exposed to not only the rudiments of ballet, taught absolutely correctly, but also the other arts, music, and academics, and employing a Platonic code, where ideas  are heard and discussed politely. There would be optional extra classes in history, humanities, science and math, and any other subject a student had a desire to learn more about. Someone would be willing to listen. Innovation would be the only rule to practice. Learning would be the key, knowledge the door. Language would be taught. A salon. Each student would have many varied performance opportunities. The purpose of the education would be for the express purpose of performance on the stage. Performance is not a life for everyone, but it is a necessary field, and therefore should be an option for anyone to pursue, not for merely a select few, and money should not be a factor or art and people will suffer.

Sir James Augustus Henry Murray (in the Scriptorium at Banbury Road) (7 February 1837 – 26 July 1915) was a Scottish lexicographer and philologist. He was the primary editor of the Oxford English Dictionary from 1879 until his death.

In short, everyone would be happy and productive. There would be an emphasis on learning to love learning, and healthy competition would be encouraged. Everyone would get a chance to create, perform, and be involved in productions, theatre, music and choreography. There would be an in-house system of evaluation, levels, and only those who truly desired to leave would go. There would be something for everyone, including various companies, production experience, career guidance, and placement assistance at graduation. I think this could be guaranteed to dedicated and mature dancers who were prepared to pursue a career in ballet, and to those with this sort of education, a place could be found for them anywhere in the arts or higher education. Perhaps if such a school existed, other schools would see its benefits and follow its model. In communities where drugs and crime are a problem, this would be an ideal environment to provide a haven from the day-to-day misery of disadvantaged youth, but no one would be any different within its doors. Something to do, someplace to be creative, to learn free of obstacles, free from violence and peer pressure. Good food, great friends, good people.


This should not be denied to any children in the ballet world, but should be given to them, first. It sounds like any school, and it should be all schools, but I am thinking about ballet, performance specifically, and the creative spirit. If you treat children like they are worth something, they will be. If they cannot afford to pay for this opportunity, then the world is a place needing much improvement, for how we treat children mirrors ourselves and our future as a world, not just a country, a state, or a city. Tough luck, rejection and even poverty can be born if we believe we made the right decision and if we believe in ourselves. Children need to be the priority in investment. If we have a generation of vidiots, scared, and have instilled a sense of hopelessness in young adults, it is our own fault for putting war, oil, personal gain, desires and greed ahead of education and children. Too many children went through the cracks. We have failed them all and should work to improve their outlook. Some may never know anything better in life than this, but ballet is positively a cure for some people, and for many of humanity’s ills. It entertains, raises the spirit of man, and lofts or elevates thinking, makes dreams palpable. Unfettered, like an experiment, it is another path, and one possible choice, for a certain type of person, a type necessary to the continuation of art.

This methodology offers an injury-free, safe, inclusive environment for the teaching of art, not brain-washing, but freedom to think, to be. It is also a path to instill faith in oneself, confidence, and the self-belief to follow a path of one’s own design and choosing, based solely on one’s own initiative, respect and the free exchange of ideas conducive to the creation of all great art. Life should be lived for joy; where sadness, failure, and dissatisfaction are taught, little great art can flourish.

If a school could exist like this, it would begin to be built now, planned and designed, and it would house about 200 students. It might take a few years to facilitate, due to the course of existing funding channels, but it could be built, and it could follow all of these very simple precepts, eventually, and it would be successful in turning out correctly trained dancers, all vastly educated and accomplished. Each one would be unique in their development, and loved. Every year, each graduating class would spread this logic and the value would resonate, like a Picasso when you stand in front of it as so many of the thousands of silent viewers before you have done. It is like walking in the backyard of the childhood home of your favorite painter, on any given day, seeing the light as he saw it, shadows cast, the area and his possible perspective. There is a magic bullet for human-to-human understanding and communication and it is really evident in the proper study and process of all of the forms of art. Don’t believe a word of hype; it is very difficult to squash the human spirit.

Carmen and Maya, Oh My! Oh My! (43 minutes)

Starring Plisetskaya, Carmen Suite, is Cuban choreographer Alberto Alonso’s ballet in one-act set to music by Plisetskaya’s, husband and composer, Rodion Schedrin (Russian). First choreographed in 1967, this enduring version is available on YouTube (below) and features Alexander Godunov, as well.

Bizet’s melodies are modernized with percussion, faster rhythms, and new color, heightening the effect of the instrumentality and choreography, which in turn violently accents the music’s rhythms and sharpens the senses, underlining the theme.  There is an almost artwork-like approach to parts of the choreography-my favorite is the bull. The stark scenery, almost hell-like coloring and pit appearance of the walls, use of red and lighting, devil innuendo, slithering movements which contrast with the doll-like movements of Maya’s legs, Godonov’s solo is particularly moving in the bright yellow shirt, mocking his tender feelings, and making him appear the clown in love. The costumes, and lighting, creation of  sharp contrasts in the choreography, movement between dark and light,  black lines, and even the shadow-like manifestations of fates, bulls, and the watchful eye of the police in silhouette, which draws the viewer in on many possible different levels, sequence of the movement of film, impossible on stage alone, make this a most interesting use of cinematography and art in film and ballet. In a surrealist way, Maya is content to sit back, predatory almost, watching, while these other themes are played out, though all the while remaining the object of desire which results in the story being told in a sort of “round”, as the scenery suggests, and as in comedy, timing is given very practical and followable use here. Like a clock or time, in a sometimes whirlwind way the hand plays out, and the camera circles in much the same way, all in a dance. Many different things are going on at once, creating a higher sense of drama and a sense of urgency. Initially banned by the Soviet hierarchy as “disrespectful” to Bizet, the opera, and the ballet, it has since become Shchedrin’s best-known work and is more frequently attempted by companies, perhaps one of the only ballets which works better on film. Of particular interest is the fact that the artful components, and Plisetskaya’s natural understanding of how to play the role, not focusing as much on the dance, or acrobatics of it, but rather on the subtlety of the “less is more”, fine acting, upper body and expression, leaving a mystique to Carmen’s possibilities unlike any other, but also supporting the version of one of the readily available and best examples from the period of modern choreography with clear story-telling. Several other “stars” have attempted it on stage, but I like this version best. Another favorite, for other reasons, is Alicia Alonso’s version  http://youtu.be/SEOmKbvHT_U  which is a bit more Spanishy, perhaps, and simpler, but she is just a wonderful and physically expressive dancer. Some people prefer her version of it.

Uliana Lopatkina’s version http://youtu.be/5Zie4d4MbGo is a successful “copy” of it (in some senses), but the choreography is reworked to highlight Lopatkina’s assets, rather than focusing on the story and the original choreography, though able to be performed by her technically, it just does not resonate with me at all. Perhaps a case where Maya’s more sprightly and lightning quick abilities while moving, due to her small size, give her sufficient time to wait, pause and act. Despite Lopatkina’s obvious talents and abilities, this is perhaps not the best piece for her due to height. However, disappointingly, the full version of it is not available online, just a scene from the habanera. I am sure she is good-it would be so much better if it were, probably. Maria Alexandrova’s more recent version http://youtu.be/h8VUfO-3G4o is also pretty good, but I do not see the control or maturity in her movements in it that Maya possesses and what the heck, it’s wonderful, but not the same (to me). That version is also available for comparison below.



William Forsythe’s In the Middle Somewhat Elevated: Excerpts….

NYC Dance Stuff

With Marta Romagna, Roberto Bolle & Zenaida Yanowsky….

Solo by Sylvie Guillem

Main Male Variation: Frankfurt Ballet

Click here to see Sylvie Guillem & Laurent Hiliare performing “in the middle somewhat elevated”….

Choreography:William Forsythe
Music: Thom Willems (1987)
Staging:Glen Tuggle
Scenic, Costume, & Original Lighting Design:William Forsythe
Duration: 28 minutes
Premiere: May 30, 1987; Paris Opera Ballet

William Forsythe is an American choreographer who has spent his career primarily in Germany, where he directed Ballet Frankfurt and now the Forsythe Company. His athletic choreography is a union of classical ballet and modern dance—a bold regeneration of the academic dance vocabulary.

Commissioned by Rudolf Nureyev in 1987 for the Paris Opera Ballet, where it was danced by soloists Isabelle Guérin, Sylvie Guillem, Laurent Hilaire, and Manuel Legris. Forsythe’s In the middle, somewhat elevated was recognized immediately as a contemporary masterpiece…

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Write an Opera Trailer 2012 – YouTube

Write an Opera Trailer 2012 – YouTube.