WATCH: Yannick Boquin on adding dynamics and musicality to your classes

Yannick’s back! He’s been on the blog countless times, so I’ll dispense with the long intro. Basically, he and our small team at the Staatsballett Berlin have made another video. And this time we’ve bumped up the quality.

This is a video that’s mainly directed towards teachers constructing a class, but in it are plenty of tips for dancers looking to spice up their combinations as well.

Just one thing, dancers: DO try this at home and make sure to ask your teacher before making changes, because your teacher may not appreciate you changing their combinations just because you feel like “adding dynamic” to the class they prepared.

 

 

Big shout-out to:

– Elisa Carrillo Cabrera for dancing

– Yannick Boquin for creating the choreography, organizing the project

– Vladislav Marinov for his countless hours of editing and re-editing

 

WATCH: Yannick Boquin on connecting barre with center, and using the arms to your advantage

We’ve shared Yannick Boquin’s insights about dancing and teaching a few times on this blog, but it always feels like something’s missing when we talk about ballet in pure text form. So Yannick and thought maybe we’d put together a video where you can actually see what he’s talking about!

One of the things we wanted to share was how the exercises at barre can and should relate to center. Why do we work the way we do at barre, if center seems completely different? This is to help explain.

In this particular video we’ll focus on Yannick’s thoughts on coordinating the arms with the rest of the body to make sure we’re that our whole body is moving in harmony. The port de bras may sometimes look different at barre than it does in the center, yet the principles remain the same. But enough of my commentary – I’ll let Yannick do the real talking…

Many thanks to Vladislav Marinov, another dancer at the Staatsballett Berlin for filming and editing the video, and to Aurora Dickie, for being a great example of what Yannick teaches. And of course a big shout out to Yannick, for developing the exercises and organizing a very large part of this project!

If you have other ideas for videos you’d like to see, let me know in the comments, and don’t forget to subscribe 🙂

 

 

Moving forward

Do you remember the scenes in Wall-E with the humans? The ones who are stuck in their hovering chairs: lazy, weak, and uninterested in anything that requires effort to attain? I see now why the animators made them.

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The way we look at those scenes must be similar to the way prehistoric humans would look at us today. How could humans ever get that way?

In this modern age, we no longer really depend on our bodies. And our connection to our bodies has loosened to an incredible degree. We’re not at the Wall-E human level, but we’re not so far away. Look at the way we get around. We get up from sitting on a chair or a couch, we walk a few steps to our car, and proceed to sit immediately after getting into work. Often, our entire day revolves around sitting.

This is a worrying trend. Not only is this neglecting the body, but it does damage to it as well. Physiologically, we require movement to be healthy. We can find many scientific studies that confirm this, but we can also just look to common sense. Most of us know we don’t give enough attention to our bodies.

And to a certain extent, we aren’t to be blamed. Look at the world we live in, look at the comforts we have all around us. How many prehistoric humans had couches? Stoves? Washing machines? Chairs? … Hoverboards?

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All of these things allow us efficiency, but they mean we need our body less. And if we’re using the free time gained to spend a few more minutes (or hours) on Facebook, our bodies are losing out. In modern life, we aren’t forced to pay attention to our bodies, and without a strong will and/or the right environment, keeping in shape is extremely difficult.

I was lucky. I had the chance to make moving my profession. I moved every day and got paid to do so. This caused some other problems in my body, because ballet isn’t exactly natural. But there is one piece of knowledge that even when I’m not dancing every day I bring with me: you don’t forget your body. I understand that being able to move is a blessing. It’s something that we don’t necessarily realize until it’s severely diminished or gone.

And unfortunately, when we are stagnant, our bodies’ ability slowly decreases, almost invisibly. So by the time we realize we can’t touch our toes anymore or that our back is causing us chronic pain, many years have gone by and we have to make an extreme, prolonged effort to come back. Once we’re in some kind of shape, it’s easy to maintain – but it’s incredibly difficult to work ourselves back into shape.

So I want to remind you: Your body is incredibly important. It is intricately connected to your mind – so if you’re neglecting your body, you’re also neglecting your mind. Don’t ignore your body.

If you don’t already have one, find an activity you enjoy and do it regularly. Your mind will thank you for it, and you will benefit in the long run.


This PSA is brought to you by health. I don’t want to proselytize for any one kind of training, as different possibilities for movement abound – all I want to do is remind you, dear reader, that your body is an important part of you. Give it some love!

Here are a few links to different kinds of movement, each of which is designed to keep your body healthy in a well-rounded way:

There are many different types of yoga

Essentrics, a workout based on ballet movement, built around lengthening and flexibility, recently introduced to me by a dear friend

And Tai Chi

These are all interesting ways to cross-train with ballet, by the way. For you ballet dancers that read up until here thinking “I already do something physical. Check!” let me remind you that we can always learn more from other approaches to movement. Each different approach contains its own kind of wisdom. It’s up to us to learn what that is.

Maybe everybody who reads this already has a fitness routine, and you all already know how important your body is. How happy that would make me. What do you do to keep in shape or cross-train? Anything I left out that you particularly like? Share in the comments below.

And then get away from the screen and go enjoy having a body!

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)”