Yannick Boquin: ballet tips and a dance class philosophy

This article is going to be quite directed towards ballet dancers, so if you have no knowledge of ballet terminology or coordination, this may not be the post for you. But if you do, you’re in the right place! This is a special post, with a personal contribution from master teacher Yannick Boquin – he wrote the following section himself, and it contains some of the most important underpinnings of his teachings. Look at these as the skeleton, muscle, and joints behind the body of his work: teaching ballet technique to the best in the world. (And whether you know ballet or not, don’t miss the great photo of him as a kid near the end!)

Before sharing his written notes, though, I wanted those of you that don’t yet know Yannick to get an idea of the kind of combinations he gives and his teaching style. Below is an example of Yannick’s class (skip to 1:20 to get to the actual class). Think of it as a sampler of the kind of class Yannick gives every day.

Continue reading “Yannick Boquin: ballet tips and a dance class philosophy”

Another perspective on leaving the ballet world: Chloe Shelby

So, I just the left the world of dance. And you’ve heard my story. But there are lots of other stories out there, often untold to the dance world. Or worse, misunderstood. When we are involved in an endeavor that has required such dedication to reach our level, it can be hard to understand why someone would give all that up.

This is Chloe Shelby’s story. She came up through the school of Oregon Ballet Theatre when I was in the company. She was one of the top students in her class, technically skilled, and smart to boot. I remember watching her in class and onstage and thinking “Man, will I ever have that kind of control?”

However, once she joined the professional world, it turned out that Chloe’s talent wasn’t enough to keep her going. This is not to say that she didn’t have the skills! Even with pure talent, the ballet world is tough – and without an inner fire and devotion to the work, it can be incredibly draining. As she explains, the professional dance world was entirely different from the one where she had been formed as a dancer, and her drive to continue hit a dead end.

But her future is no less bright because of it. Leaving the dance world can lead to so many different opportunities, and Chloe was able to find that inner fire elsewhere.

Continue reading “Another perspective on leaving the ballet world: Chloe Shelby”

Julia Rowe on being promoted to soloist at San Francisco Ballet

I’m a little slow on the uptake here, since Julia was named soloist several months ago, but I wanted to dig into what it means to be promoted – especially at such a revered company as San Francisco Ballet.

Promotions are some of the most sought after things in our world. After years of toiling in the corps, a promotion can act as recognition for all the hard work one has done. Yet, because of the nature of ranked companies and of their relatively flat structure, most in the ballet world never receive a single one. Julia has been promoted twice.

So what does it even mean to be promoted in the ballet world? How might receiving a promotion affect one’s relationship to the work?

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Why I quit my job as a professional ballet dancer (part 2)

This is the continuation of a previous blog post. If you’d like to navigate your way there, click here.


Number 3: I wanted to learn how to build good habits, and I wanted to create.

Now, this may seem like a cop-out to say that I needed to quit ballet to learn how to build good habits. I know many ballet dancers who are intensely devoted to the work and focused on their craft. They do hours of extra exercise during the day, watch ballet videos during their downtime, come to class an hour early to stretch and prepare.

But I wasn’t ever like that. I was good at being efficient. I did the work that I needed to, and avoided doing anything extra on my personal time. I made sure to fulfill others’ expectations at work: I was professional, knew the choreography, and I stayed focused during class and rehearsal. And with that I not only got by, but I did relatively well. Yet there was a resistance in me to any work that went over and above my work in the studio.

Continue reading “Why I quit my job as a professional ballet dancer (part 2)”

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Why I quit my job as a professional ballet dancer

This might be the most personal blog post that I write to date, but it’s something that’s a long time coming (apologies for being away from the blog for so long!). I’ve been avoiding writing this post because it feels like a behemoth of a post, I’m a bit out of writing shape, and I don’t want to release something half-ass-edly. For those of you that know me, I didn’t want to simply tell you all that I had quit and force you to guess why (and receive all sorts of crazy comments); I wanted to share my decision along with the detailed reasoning behind it. This decision was not an easy one to make.

So… I’ve decided to quit being “a professional ballet dancer.”

For at least this year, I will not perform in any shows with Les Ballets de Monte Carlo or any other well-established professional company. Call it a gap year.

Why would I ever step away from the lifestyle that has given me beautiful moments, increased my status in society, and led me through my adult life to the place where I am now? This is a question that I too, have been asking myself. It turns out to be a rather hard question to answer.

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Ballet 101: A cheat sheet for answering the most common questions about ballet

As professional dancers, we have a pretty unusual job, and often people who are interested in starting a conversation with us end up asking us the same questions over and over again. And it’s understandable! Being a ballet dancer is a very different kind of career, so even the basics may seem foreign.

So I decided to create this little cheat sheet in order to give a primer on the world of ballet to those who don’t already know and are curious to find out.

Here are some quick, basic, relatively universal spark notes on the world of the ballet dancer.


Let’s get the easy ones out of the way, shall we? Continue reading “Ballet 101: A cheat sheet for answering the most common questions about ballet”

Cora Bos-Kroese on the genius of Jiri Kylian – and being a part of his legacy

Here you are, in part 2 of our conversation. In the first part, Cora shared what she looks for when running an audition for a Kylian ballet that she’s setting. If you missed part 1, check it out here.

In this second section, we talk about her relationship with Jiri Kylian, the way it shaped her knowledge of dance (and her life), and what makes his work continue to inspire and challenge her.


 

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Cora Bos-Kroese on the audition process for Kylian ballets and the skills necessary to be seen (and chosen)

Welcome back, everyone. Here we are with another interview, this time with Cora Bos-Kroese. Cora recently set Jiri Kylian’s Bella Figura on us at Les Ballets de Monte Carlo, and she was a blast to work with. Back in the day she was a fantastic dancer who worked intimately with Jiri Kylian. These days she splits her time between setting his ballets all over the world and running her own dance projects in The Netherlands.

I sat down with her to have a conversation about what she’s learned from working with Kylian (and Forsythe!), advice she has for dancers, and her own personal projects in the dance world. I’ve broken up our conversation into three parts, which will come out when ready. In this first section, we talk about the audition process, and the qualities she looks for when running an audition for a Kylian ballet (hint: it’s not perfect ballet technique).

Continue reading “Cora Bos-Kroese on the audition process for Kylian ballets and the skills necessary to be seen (and chosen)”

Flexibility to an extreme

I wanted to share this because I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw it. This may be the most flexible human being I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s amazing. Also cringeworthy. And I’m a bit worried about her bone structure when she grows up…

To relate this to ballet (which I better do as it’s on my blog), I’ll point out first that this is rhythmic gymnastics, not ballet. There are similarities, yes, but different goals to achieve in each.

Another thing to note is that the Russians are known for emphasizing flexibility and body proportions in ballet. Trainers are known for manually stretching their students’ feet and legs, and this seems to be an amplification of that same impulse. I can’t imagine how many hours this girl spends stretching (or being stretched) every day.

I’m not sure how I feel about this. It’s impressive, to be sure, but hard to believe that it’s healthy. Of course, I suppose the same holds true for ballet.