Sunday, November 29, 2015

Sylvie Guillem - A Life in Progress

Speechless.

On Saturday September 14th,  I was lucky enough to be able to see one of Sylvie Guillem's final performances ever!! I went with a few of my friends from Ellison Ballet. This show was her last performance in the U.S. I am a huge fan of her as a dancer and also as a human being. Sylvie is also a big supporter of Sea Shepherd, a non-profit that defends the oceans, and she is also vegan!!! Yay!! I have recently gone vegan but have been a vegetarian my whole life. She is an inspiring role model. Sylvie is now 50 years old and her career was about 35 years. I feel honored to have been able to watch her farewell.

Laurent Hilaire and Sylvie Guillem rehearsing at the Royal Ballet School in 1992. (Michael Ward/Getty Images)


 A quick pic before heading in.

My friend, Ashlyn, went to go see her perform on Thursday and I asked her how it was and she had a loss for words.  When I saw Sylvie perform her first piece, I felt the same.  The choreography of the first piece was so different and unique but it suited Sylvie very well and she performed it with perfection.  I could really feel her emotion of the piece too.  I mean it is so hard to explain any of these pieces because it was just so incredible.  You would really have to witness it live.

All dressed up and ready for the show

The next piece was a duo choreographed by William Forsythe with two male dancers, also contemporary.  It was quite interesting because it started out with no music; just the two men dancing with each other.  They connected their movements together nicely and it was almost like one did a movement and then the other would sort of react to it or continue it.  To me it seemed like that some parts were as if one was a shadow of the other.  Sylvie came on in this piece near the end for about 30 seconds or so.  Ashlyn said she didn't do this on Thursday night.

Brigel Gjoka and Riley Watts in Duo2015. Photo: Bill Cooper


Sylvie then did a duo (Here and After) with Emanuela Montanari (La Scala).  It was choreographed by Russel Maliphant. They danced so in sync and I really liked the choreography and music.  I couldn't see this from my seat, but if you sat a little higher you could see the lights on the floor.  The lights would go with the music or where Sylvie and moved across the stage.




During intermission we all met up and we were all in shock that we were actually seeing Sylvie perform live!!!


The final piece was titled "Bye" (choreo by Mats EK). It started out with this rectangle screen near upstage left. (If you are on watching from the audience it would be considered upstage/rear right)  It had a projection on it with Sylvie.  She would then dance with this projection. It was hard to tell if the projection was actually Sylvie in that moment or not because she was so in sync with it. In some points throughout the piece I thought that it was filming her and then projecting it onto the screen live.  Thats how in sync with it she was! Again, hard to explain but amazing to watch. If it comes out on DVD I would definitely buy it. 

After this piece was performed, Sylvie came out to bow and she got a standing ovation from the sold out theater!!! It probably lasted for about 10-15 minutes! People handed her flowers from the front row. I wish I was sitting there!


I then met my friends outside the theater and we headed to the stage door.  There was already a decent amount of people waiting.  Some of my friends were closer to the door, but Gillian, Claire and I stayed back a bit but were in the center facing the door where we thought she would exit. We had to wait for about 45 minutes, but it was definitely worth it!


There was a security guard there and they had this pretty organized. Sylvie stayed inside this area in the doorway. People were allowed through the doorway in groups and she took several group pictures.  If you wanted something signed you would just hand it to her and she would go through the pile signing everything. She already had a sharpie.  I had her sign my pointe shoe.





I am so grateful to have been able to see this idol perform and I am still in shock that I got to meet her.  Sylvie is a beautiful person and dancer.





Thanks for reading and keep dancing! 


Love,


Robbie




Sunday, November 8, 2015

What every dancer should know about flexibility training...


Just as we need to go to dance class regularly to progress, we also need instruction and time devoted to improving flexibility to keep moving forward.  You can try to learn all the dance moves under the sun, but until you have gained flexibility you will not be able to perform the movements with the full range of motion or do it with proper alignment.

Me working with Mira (Ballet Dancer, CA)
Mira 

The more you dance the stronger you get which may make you get tighter.  The body must be kept in balance with a comprehensive flexibility training program to avoid pain, injury and frustration.  Control and balance come from a specific kind of flexibility training that involves working on flexibility while standing up, only after you are completely warmed up and opened up to perform at maximum capacity.

Even people who are naturally very flexible need a certain kind of flexibility/core strength training to get control or can perform like floppy loose noodle without clean lines. Because they may feel like they are already flexible and don’t have to work for it, when can lead to compensating when performing without proper alignment.  Usually tighter people are good jumpers and naturally very flexible dancers tend to have to work at getting good height. The best way to do this is create a routine of different kinds of jumping drills.

"I've REALLY noticed how tight I am with all the extra dancing now that I am in the year round Professional Training Program at Ellison Ballet.  I know I am getting stronger and it definitely makes me feel tight. I try to do Stacey's recommended stretches as much as possible and regularly practice with her DVD "Proven Flexibility Solutions for Dancers" to keep conditioned." Robbie Downey


The good news is anyone can become more flexible if they do the right stretches in the correct order. Rather than holding the stretch while in pain and being stuck there, repeat the more difficult stretches until it starts to get easier each time.  In order to make noticeable progress deep breathing is required while relaxing as you exhale and sink into each stretch.

flexibility with robbie downey
With Robbie Downey

Always honor the body by warming up. Aches and pain is the body’s way of talking to you, in most cases a complete flexibility session is all that is needed to clear any issues.   After a session my clients are usually shocked that they can dance without pain and are actually capable of having the flexibility they have always dreamed of. 


The bar is always being raised higher and higher on dance, skating, gymnastics and with all sports to perform with the highest range of motion possible.  The best way to increase flexibility is for to work it in as part of your regular  training regimen  and it will pay off. 

Keeping myself flexi! 

Adult Ballerina En Pointe has a testimonial here on here blog. READ HERE

Here are many more testimonials and before and after images LOOK HERE

Stephen's progress 

A great place to start is at the beginning. No matter how advanced you think you are it is vital to have proper alignment and to do the stretches in order. I created a program especially for this called Proven Flexibility Solutions for Dancers.

DVD Review:

"Proven Flexibility Solutions for Dancers" is an excellent routine to help keep dancers properly stretched.  It addresses some common issues and needs dancers have in terms of stretching that often go unaddressed.  I have found that it is a brief video that doesn't take a ton of time out of my day, but still provides significant results.  As a dancer, I appreciate that I can get results with this video to help me stay on track in between longer sessions and stretch routines.  It is a valuable part of my regular training routine. 

Lauren Michael competitive dancer

Lauren on working one on one with Stacey...

"Training with Stacey has been an incredible experience. Her focused, individualized approach, and expertise has proven to be invaluable. I've made improvements beyond what I ever thought possible, and it's really been a game changer for me and my dancing." 



Thank you for reading and good luck! 

Love,

Stacey Nemour 



Stacey Nemour is a Internationally recognized highly respected martial artist and flexibility master. She is known as a voice for transformation through her extensive DVD line and as a regular blogger on the Huffington Post on topics about: Kung Fu, flexibility, injury prevention, raising consciousness, sports performance, healing, meditation, and well-being. Her work also has been featured in  other numerous publications including Inside Kung Fu, Masters of Kung Fu, Self Magazine, Dutch Yoga Magazine and most recently a spread in four issues of Kung Fu Magazine. Her flexibility systems are used by: Internationally by recognized MMA fighters, Celebrities, Gymnast, Ice Skaters, Professional Soccer, NBA players, Baseball players, Ballerinas and dancers for competitive preparation at the national and Olympic level.

 In addition to appearing on Fox Sports 11 News and guest starring in the popular TV show Power Rangers, Stacey has worked as a fight double on television shows and performed in select video games She also was hired by the inventor of the StretchGym to help design the flexibility training program and performs this in the DVD that comes with the apparatus.  Her latest video “Proven Flexibility Solutions for Dancers” with dancer in training Robbie Downey now available @ http://staceynemour.com/dvds.html#proven . For more information and her DVD line : www.staceynemour.com www.facebook.com/stacey.nemour ;Stacey is available for private flexibility coaching sessions in person or via Skype for people out of Southern California.


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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

World Ballet Day 2015 Creates Ballet Addicts Worldwide!

The 2nd Annual World Ballet Day has come and gone!  I wish it lasted longer than just a day! Like many other dancers and fans I COULD NOT GET ENOUGH! This is the second year that they have done a live streaming of 5-6 major companies across the world.  World Ballet Day was born out of Royal Ballet Live, a nine-hour live stream on YouTube and The Guardian website in March of 2012. The event achieved 200,000 views of the live stream and repeat broadcast and over 2.5 million views on YouTube to date. 

Here is a video of inside class at the Royal Ballet from 2012 Royal Ballet Live.  



The companies live streamed for 2015 were, The Australian Ballet, The Bolshoi Ballet, The Royal Ballet, National Ballet of Canada, and San Francisco Ballet.  This year they also featured smaller segments of other top ballet companies such as ABT, Houston Ballet, Boston ballet, and many others. That's 23 hours of ballet, ballet, BALLET! More than half a million people watched last year's live stream. If you loved the behind the scenes, rehearsals, live classes and interviews be sure to mark your calendar for next year!

If you missed the live streams a link to watch archives is at end of blog.


For me, World Ballet Day started at around 10 pm on September 30.  I watched some of the Australian Ballet's company class before I went to sleep.  I also started live tweeting (@BalletBabble) and posting on my public snap chat. (@theballetbabble).  This kept me up until around midnight, it was so good I just couldn't stop watching!  I wish I could have stayed up to watch the Bolshoi rehearse but I had classes the next day.

When I woke up in the morning I turned on the lifestream to watch The Royal Ballet rehearse. SO GOOD!!!!  I absolutely love The Royal Ballet and it is so amazing to be able to watch them rehearse in the studios.  I continued to get ready for a day of classes as I watched the live stream.   Once I arrived to the studios I updated on snapchat and twitter.  I continued these updates throughout the day.


snapchatting

During our lunch break some of us watched the live stream. It was a segment of Boston Ballet rehearsing the Nutcracker.  We didn't have too long of a break so we couldn't watch The National Ballet of Canada. =(

National Ballet of Canada Artists in rehearsal. Photo by Karolina Kuras.

After classes I headed back to the dorms and turned on the live stream on my computer. The wifi was being difficult so I had to use my hotspot.   My roommate and I were able to watch San Francisco Ballet rehearse Giselle! We saw Yuan Yuan Tan and Tiit rehearse the second act. I also spotted Sasha de Sola in the Corps de Ballet. They then ran a second cast with Mathilde Froustey as Giselle. I love how World Ballet Day gives people everywhere a chance to see what it takes to be a dancer and to be in a professional company. I hope it inspires people to take ballet, stay in ballet or go to the ballet!



On the side of the live stream (on youtube) there was a live chat box where you could send comments. Whoever was watching the lifestream could see those comments.  I commented something and then Joy Womack responded to it! Also some people who follow my Youtube page also said hello! It was so cool to talk with Joy and others! I had so much fun!

I wish World Ballet Day would last so much longer.  Good thing we can watch the recorded version of it on Youtube.  I believe there is still footage from last year as well.



Here is where you can watch the recording of the Live Stream!!!!

http://worldballetday.com/2015-archive/

Thanks for reading and be sure to watch next year!

xoxo,

Robbie

More about World Ballet Day 2015 HERE  (Dance Informa Magazine)

You can get my merde shirt at www.balletfreak.com





Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Royal Ballet - Romeo and Juliet with Steven McCrae and Sarah Lamb

With friends in NYC to see The Royal Ballet's Romeo and Juliet .
Scroll down for link to show times to see Royal Ballet in theaters. 

This past Sunday I went to go see The Royal Ballet's performance of Romeo and Juliet in the cinema. It was a recorded version of the performance.  Romeo was played by Steven McRae and Juliet was played by Sarah Lamb.

WOW! It was so amazing!! I absolutely loved it.  Romeo and Juliet is definitely one of my favorite ballets, along with Don Q.  It is a dream of mine to dance Juliet one day.  

The connection that Steven and Sarah had was beautiful.  They both portrayed the characters so well, it felt like I was actually there in the story with them.  One of my favorite moments in the ballet is when Romeo and Juliet connect eyes for the first time.  The music is just perfect for the moment. Here is a clip of Steven McRae and Miyako Yoshida in this moment. It happens around 50 seconds.




Kenneth MacMillan's Romeo and Juliet was first performed in 1965 at the Covet Garden.  The first dancers to perform the lead roles were Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn.  I really fell in love with MacMillan's choreography.  It flows so nicely and has a great connection to the music.  It is really stunning to watch.  

Prokofiev's music is just brilliant. I do not think I could ever get tired of listening to his pieces.  One of my favorites is the Dance of The Knights from Romeo and Juliet.  I have been listening to this music over and over for the past few days along with watching many videos of Romeo and Juliet. Also, me and my friends have been watching a lot of Royal Ballet in general! 

For me artistry is what really makes watching a ballet so enjoyable.  Sure, if they can do multiple pirouettes, or have crazy extensions, or even have great technique that's something to see for sure but if you don't feel something while watching them perform, especially something like Romeo and Juliet, then it is not the same.  You could see the passion in Sarah's eyes.  There is one moment in the second act of the ballet when Juliet goes to sit on her bed and think.  She is sitting on her bed just staring at the audience.  Sarah portrays the blankness but you can also just feel her thinking about what to do next with her life. I really loved that moment.

Photo Credit and copyright Dave Morgan / Royal Ballet 


I could watch them perform this ballet over and over again! I guess you could say I am officially obsessed with Romeo and Juliet! Ahhh! =D

Here is a video to watch some of the rehearsals of the ballet with Sarah Lamb, Ryoichi Hirano, Alexander Campbell. It is interesting to hear about the process of getting into character.







Here is an article on Sarah from the UK Sunday Express

http://www.express.co.uk/life-style/life/604269/Principal-ballerina-Sarah-Lamb-Romeo-And-Juliet-Royal-Opera-House

Photo Credit and copyright Dave Morgan / Royal Ballet

McRae showing all his talent with Violinist, Vasko Vassilev. Great bio in description as well.  


Royal Ballet's Steven McRae and Federico Bonelli with their babies =) Photo from Andre Uspenski’s (@dancersdiary) Instagram
Photo by Andre Uspenski 


Thanks for reading!

XOXO

Robbie



Read more about R&J from Royal Opera House! Click Here





Thursday, October 22, 2015

Guest Blogger- Timmorie Freeman


My First Month at Ballet West 

            Hi Everyone! My name is Timmorie Freeman and I am 17 years old. I have been dancing since I was about 5, but seriously since I was 10. I trained at the San Diego School of Ballet, until I moved to Chicago, where I trained with Madame Peff Modelski, for the 4 years I lived there, at the Faubourg School of Ballet and the Ruth Page School of Dance at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts. For the next year, I will be training at the Ballet West Academy in the Professional Training Division!  I got this wonderful opportunity from attending the Youth America Grand Prix Finals this past year. Last week, I had officially finished my first month of training at Ballet West and I LOVE IT!!!

            I am lucky enough to be living in a house, which is about a mile and a half away from the BEAUTIFUL studios. There are 5 girls, including me, and we get along very well. We each have our own rooms and have 2 bathrooms to share. The girls who live downstairs have their own fridge, as do the girls upstairs, and we share the kitchen. Thankfully, we all knew each other from the Ballet West Summer Intensive, so there wasn't very much awkwardness. The girls and I are constantly laughing and joking, especially after long days of classes and rehearsals.

My Bed

            When the program started, we hit the ground running. We went straight into our full schedule with rehearsals and a few auditions. The schedule was quite an adjustment, after having a post-summer intensive break and not having many options for classes before I left for Utah. My daily schedule is as follows:

Monday

1:00-2:30- Technique

2:30-3:30- Stretch Class

4:00-5:30- Technique

Tuesday

1:00-2:30- Technique

2:30-3:30- Pas De Deux

4:00-5:45- Technique

6:45-8:00- Rehearsal

Wednesday

1:00-2:30- Technique

2:30-3:30- Variations

4:00-5:45- Technique

Thursday

1:00-2:30- Technique

2:30-3:30- Pointe

4:00-5:30- Technique

Friday

11:45-1:00- Rehearsal

1:00-2:30- Technique

2:30-3:30- Modern

4:00-5:30- Technique en Pointe

6:00-7:00- Rehearsal

7:00-9:00- Gala Rehearsal

Saturday

9:00-9:45- Movement Mentor Class

12:00-1:30- Technique

1:45-3:15- Contemporary

3:30-5:30- Nutcracker Rehearsals

Studio 2


            Throughout the week, we are taught by a few different teachers. We have Mr. Peter Merz, the Director the Academy, Ms. Jan Fugit, the Principal of the Academy, Ms. Heather Fryxell, Mr. Jeff Rodgers, Ms. Cati Snarr and Ms. Natalie Desch. All of these teachers have different backgrounds, while having strong ties to Ballet West. They each provide a different perspective and different corrections that you may not have heard before. With the way the building is designed, the school is well integrated with the company. Although they have their own floor, company members will often come to the Academy floor and watch classes or use open studios. You also never know who will walk by the studio windows to watch for a minute, Mr. Sklute included. Our teachers lovingly call this "Being under Sklute-iny".

            We are required to wear a uniform, which includes the kinds of tights, leotards and skirts that we wear. Our leotards are the Nadine style by Eleve, with the Ballet West Academy logo. The color of the leotard depends on your level and division. For example, the Elementary Division wears Periwinkle, the Intermediate Division wears Navy Blue, the Advanced Division wears Black and the Professional Training Division wears Gray. To distinguish levels within each division, we wear hip alignment belts that are different colors. The A's wear White belts, the B's wear Lilac belts, the C's wear Black belts, and if there's a D level, they wear Navy Blue belts.




Professional Training Division Uniform Front
Back

                                                                     
Advanced Division Uniform Front
Back


            I have found that having 2 technique classes a day, each day, is really taking a toll on my body. To combat the wear-and-tear of these classes, I make an ice bath for my feet in the morning and evening, followed by a contrast soak with warm water and Epsom salt. I also roll out before and after class with stretches to keep my ankles happy. If that doesn't work, I can always go to the PT room where they help us figure out what is going on and what we can do.

            Being in this program and spending so much time with the people in my class, I have already made some really great friends! We've had sleepovers, gone to dinners, gone to the mall, seen movies and made amazing memories. The program gives us the best of both worlds, the serious ballet training and a bit of a normal social life. One of my friends, Lucy, is even taking another one of my friends, Sabrina, to homecoming.




My Friends an Me


            In the Nutcracker, I will be a Page and a Vendor. The Vendor is in the First Act with the Party Scene and Pages are in the Second Act during the Opening and Finale. I am also in the A Cast which means that I get to tour to Ogden, about an hour away from Salt Lake City, to perform. Other performing opportunities include the Gala, Academy Invitational, Beauty and the Beast and the spring performance. The Gala is for the Company's opening night of Iconic Classics including Fancy Free, Symphony in C and Overgrown Path. The students with take part in a Grand DeFile to open the show! The Academy Invitational with be a show where students are able to perform variations. It is open to the public and tickets are free.

                                                        
The Girls in My Class and Me at the Nutcracker Audition


One thing that has been easier than I had expected, was/is learning how to live "on my own" and take care of myself. The first weekend, I did have to replace a shower head and I felt like such an adult. Things like grocery shopping aren't that bad because you get to pick out things that you like and know what you have for meals for the week. Laundry also isn't bad; unless you let it pile up or forget to wash your uniform and have to wash it in the morning, then wear it slightly damp to class. Sometimes, if I come home late from classes, it's hard to make dinner because I'm so tired and just want the food to appear. One thing that I think is helping is having some food that is already cooked. For example, if I'm making chicken stir-fry, I cook the chicken all at once and then use it throughout the week. It's a lot easier than having to cook chicken every night.

Hannah Fixing the Swiffer
The Shower Head that I Fixed

            One thing that I am very excited for is seeing my family and puppies during the coming week of my fall break. As I'm writing this, I'm actually in the airport in Phoenix. I have found that to get out of Salt Lake City, most of the flights go through Phoenix. I have about a three hour layover and will get to Chicago at about 5:30 am, but it's worth it to have an extra day with my family. I think that it will also be nice to give my body a bit of a break from my regular schedule.

            Lastly, I want to give an ENORMOUS thank you to Robbie and Gina for having me as a Guest Blogger. I have never done something like this before and it was a lot of fun! It's nice to be able to share my thoughts, new experiences and pictures with you guys. I hope that you have enjoyed and I hope to be able to do this again at some point(e)! –Timmorie