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What Is A Costume Fitting Like at The Royal Danish Ballet!?

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By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Friday, September 13, 2019

Oooooh! Costume fittings are the best!! I think it is so much fun when you are called to one. It is the time where you get that first sneak peek of what you’ll be wearing on stage! It makes it all the more real and exciting!

We are so lucky at the Royal Danish Ballet, because we have absolutely the most talented costume department and the nicest, hands down. The men and women that work in the costume department are absolutely sweethearts. They care so much about the dancers and you can feel it when you are with them trying on their beautiful creations. I’m a huge, HUGE fan of the costume department.

When you get called for a costume fitting, your name will be written on the schedule. (My name is written in red, along with the time I am called on the schedule to the left.) The fittings are usually pretty quick (around 5-10 min.) but it does depend on if you are trying on a costume, that has already been made or one that is being created for the first time.

When you try on a costume, that has already been made, many times it was made on someone else. We keep costumes for years! Which is cool when you try on a costume, that has a name of a past ballerina that you admire! Legend- wear! The costume department comes prepared, as they’ve taken the time to figure out, who’s measurements are the closest to yours and pulled that costume for you to try on. Then, only slight alterations are needed.

Diamonds Costume Fitting. Seamstress: Bente Kirk

When you are called for a costume fitting for a brand new ballet, that has all new costumes, then it will take a bit longer. Anywhere from ten minutes to two hours. When a fitting takes a long time, it is usually because the designer is able to be at the fitting. Therefore more ideas are discussed and bounced back and forth. It’s actually pretty cool to witness their artistic thought process about their creations.

Karen Blixen costume fitting with Bente Kirk.

I recently was called to a fitting for the up and coming World Premiere of, Karen Blixen. Choreography by Gregory Dean. Scenography and costume design by Jon Morrell. Music by Claude Debussy. Composer and musical arrangement by Martin Yates. It is very exciting!

Karen Blixen Costume Fitting with Bente Kirk.

You go to the costume department at the time you are called and meet one of the seamstresses. They will help you get dressed and then they start pinning! Pinning everything. A waist that needs to go in, a hem that needs to be shortened, a sleeve that needs to be attached, a neckline lowered… the list of possibilities goes on and on.

I’m usually quite chatty at costume fittings. It’s a nice, ten minute break from rehearsal, where I get to share stories of my summer, or show lots of pictures of my cat. (Guilty)

Giselle Costume Fitting. Creation.
Giselle Costume Fitting. Seamstress: Bajsen Hertz.

Once they are done pinning, they help you slip out of the costume without piercing yourself and off you go, back in to rehearsal.

The costume department is a magical place where all the beauty is created. I love them. Best “coffee break” anyone could ask for.

xoxo
-Hol

Coppelia Costume Fitting.
Black Swan Costume Fitting

How To Create A Red Lip That Is Stage Kissable!?

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By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Monday, September 9, 2019

First things first. 🙂 When you see two dancers on stage kiss, they are actually kissing. I guarantee, that they aren’t thinking about the kiss though. A kiss is always set to the music and is thought of as part of the choreography. In the ballet Napoli, I was asked to kiss my partner while simultaneously slowly lifting up one of my legs. That moment in the ballet, quickly became a balancing exercise for me, to truly create that Hollywood moment that my director wanted. My thoughts were, “Don’t fall over, Holly!”.

Napoli First Act. Jonathan Chmelensky & I.

How do you create a red lip, that is kissable but wont come off all over your partner? There isn’t always a possibility to run off stage to fix your make up and for him to wipe his face during a show.

Powder! It’s all about that face finishing powder. When doing your makeup before a show, put on your lip liner and then use that Ruby Red, or Drama Queen, or whatever the name is of your red lipstick and put that on your lips. Then, take your finishing powder and dust it all over your lips. It’s going to feel weird. Really weird. Give it a moment to settle in. Then, put another layer of your red lipstick on. Again, add more powder. Do this three or four times.

Your lips will not feel like your own anymore. It can feel quite dry. Once you start dancing though, I promise you wont be thinking about your lips.

Photo: Peter Anderson

To take it one step further, after you put on your lipstick and powder layers, take your concealer and apply it around your lips to stop any color bleeding. Make those red lips really pop!

I always finish my make up routine with a face setting spray. Doesn’t hurt to give everything, one last chance to set before the sweat starts to pour, threatening to ruin everything.

xoxo
-Hol

How Many Pairs Of Pointe Shoes Do You Go Through In A Week?

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By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Monday, September 2, 2019

I would say on average, I go through two pairs of pointe shoes a week. Some weeks my schedule isn’t very heavy, so I might only use one pair. Other weeks are extremely busy and then I may even need three or four pairs of shoes! I will round up and say that for one season with the Royal Danish Ballet, I go through 100 pairs of pointe shoes!

I prefer to dance in softer shoes. New shoes are a bit of a nightmare for me. I like the toe to be hard but everything else worn in. Which is why I try to make my shoes last as long as possible.

Sometimes, you just get a bad pair of shoes. So sad. I can’t tell if something is wrong with the shoes until after, I have spent 2 hours sewing and prepping the shoes. I need to try them in class, in turns to know. The center point needs to be good. There is no time for a weird shoe that takes you out of your turns! If the shoe isn’t good… it doesn’t get worn and another pair of shoes needs to be sewn.

Photo: Sofie Mathiassen

Fortunately, this doesn’t happen too often. I have customized my shoes more and more over the years which has definitely helped. Little shout out to all the wonderful people working at Freed making all the pointe shoes! We literally couldn’t dance without you!

When the weather is HOT, for example like last week, I can kill a pair of shoes in a day. Heat definitely creates a quick death to pointe shoes. They become too mushy to dance in.

Sometimes, you get a miracle pair of shoes! That is the best! I’ve never been able to quite figure out what makes a miracle pair so good, but every once in a while, there will be a pair of shoes that doesn’t die with a perfect balance point. When I danced as Henriette in Raymonda in 2017, I used the same pair of shoes for all of my 12 performances. I love when that happens!

Alice In Wonderland last year, was the opposite to Raymonda. I went through a pair of shoes for every performance. Alice dances on stage for nearly three hours in the warm stage lights, so the shoes simply, had no chance for a long life.

Photo: Politiken

Even after I consider a pair of shoes dead, I will keep them in my dressing room for several months. The shoes become hard again which is great because then I can get a second life out of them! I can use them for rehearsals during the day or if they are really good, even a show!

So many pointe shoes! I love them though. Speaking of which, I need to go and sew.
xoxo
-Hol

Have You Ever Forgotten Your Steps Onstage!?

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By turnedoutpointeofview on Friday, August 30, 2019

Yup. Yes, I have. Luckily, this doesn’t occur often, but we are human, like everyone else. For me, I fell victim to exhaustion, and my brain lost focus, for less than a second, but still leaving me in a state of panic. I forgot my steps while I was performing in Christopher Wheeldon’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Side note- This ballet is absolutely fantastic!). The company did 21 shows in 3 weeks! No small feat. It’s a huge, magical production.

‘Alice i Eventyrland’ ballet på det Kongelige Teater. Portræt af Holly Dorger, 27 år, der danser Alice i balletten.

I was very fortunate to have been cast as the role of Alice and as the role of the Queen of Hearts. It was amazing to play such different characters. It also came along with a big responsibility.

The character of Alice is on stage for almost the entire ballet. She is only off stage for one quick costume change. She has many steps. SO MANY steps! The Queen of Hearts is often on stage at the same time as Alice. It was crucial to remember who I was playing everyday. I constantly switched back and forth. Everyday before the show, I would go through the scenes that the characters shared as the character, I was on that day.

Usually, if you dance as Alice then the next day you have off. For me, due to scheduling, I did four shows as Alice or the Queen, twice in a row! The first time I had four in a row, I alternated each show between the characters. The second time I did four in a row, they were the final four shows of the run. I played Alice for three of them and then switched to Queen for the very last show. In that last show, while I was dancing the Queen’s variation, is where I had my blank out.

It was minor. If you didn’t know her correct steps you wouldn’t have seen it. Luckily, I was dancing by myself, so a ripple effect wasn’t created for any of the other dancers. I knew right away that something was off. I did a step that didn’t feel quite right or normal. Thank goodness dancers have such good muscle memory. A tool that we use everyday. Before my brain knew something was off my body did. My body kept dancing through. Once my brain caught up, I remember feeling a moment of panic, and then a realization of, “Well, I’m still going.” The song that Dori sings from, Finding Nemo, would be a great theme song for anyone who suffers from a black out. “Just keep swimming… Just keep dancing…”.

When I got back into the wings, I was fully aware that I definitely needed to catch up on some sleep. My brain was tired from constantly switching and trying to stay on top of such a big, and complicated ballet for two characters ( I was also rehearsing up to 6 hours for our upcoming production of Cinderella as Cinderella and the step sister. Again switching between two characters.). To say my head was fully loaded would have been an understatement. As busy as I was, I loved every second of it!
xoxo
-Hol

Do We Get Help Changing Costumes During A Show?

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By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Monday, August 26, 2019

Photo: Kasper Nybo

In fact, we do! And thank goodness! We have the most lovely colleagues that specifically help us with our costumes during a show and full costume rehearsals. We call them, Dressers. There are two dressers for every floor of dressing rooms. Approximately 12 dressers are in the house on a performance night.

Help backstage. Water and a pat down. Photo: Kasper Nybo

If you are the lead female and male dancer of the evening, you have your very own dresser. They help you with any costume changes, or anything that you could possible need throughout the night. It’s like having a guardian angel, helping you bring your best to the stage. They even bring you a glass of water in the wings. Which is totally going above and beyond their job but very much appreciated.

A dresser arrives to the theater around 6:30pm/7pm. They check the casting for the night and then put everyone’s costume in to their personal dressing room, including hair pieces and accessories. Then, they sit in the hallway waiting patiently for us to come out of our rooms to help us get dressed. All strings must be tucked away and all accessories on before we head down to the stage.

Swan Lake Hair Pieces

The dressers stay for the entire performance. Sometimes they are needed during the show for quick costume changes. For example, during Alice In Wonderland many people were playing several different characters in one show which required quick changes. In this scenario, the dressers are back stage with us. Otherwise, they sit by our dressing rooms waiting for us to come up from the stage and to help us get out of our costumes.

Swan Lake Costumes Ready for the Evenings Show

It is a complete luxury to have such lovely colleagues helping us getting dressed and undressed. They deserve a huge round of applause for all that they do for us behind the scenes.

xoxo
-Hol

What Does A “Normal” Work Day Look Like For A Dancer? Performance & Non-Performance Days.

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By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Friday, August 23, 2019

Checking out the days schedule.
Thank you for the Question Lina!

A normal day for a dancer would begin by getting to the theater between 9:00 am – 9:50am. Some dancers like to start their day with Pilates, so they arrive in time to get a workout in before ballet class. Others may have a physio appointment and get to the theater around 9:15am or so. Or like me, possible go for a run around Kongens Have before ballet class, arriving at the theater at 9:40am. Of course there is also a group of dancers that sleep until they have to get up and be in class at 10am.

Basically, our day technically doesn’t start until 10am for ballet class but most are up and moving before 10am. We work a six day work week too. (Monday through Saturday)

A Non- Performance Day looks like this.

Ballet Training Class: 10am- 11:30am

Ten Minute Break (grab a snack time)

First Rehearsal Period: 11:40am- 1:30pm

Lunch Break: 1:30pm-2:15pm

Second Rehearsal Period: 2:15pm-4pm

Napoli Second Act Rehearsal with dancers Ryan Tomash & Holly Dorger. Instructor, Sorella Englund.

The theater can call dancers for what we call an, Evening Call. An evening call is for one or two hours and you get paid extra for these rehearsals.

Extra Evening Call: 4:15pm-6:15pm

It is not uncommon to find dancers stretching in the gym, or boys doing a weight training session, or a dancer fitting in some extra cardio at the end of the their day. Either at 4pm or 6:15pm. There is also always someone with their feet in an ice bucket getting rid of the inflammation from the days work.

Torture and yet Divine.

A Performance Day looks like this:

Ballet Training: 10am-11:25am

Five Minute Break

First Rehearsal Period: 11:30am- 12:30pm

Lunch Break: 12:30pm-1:05pm

Second Rehearsal Period: 1:05pm-3:00pm

Stretching with fellow Principal dancer, Jonathan Chmelensky

Can be called for an Evening Call from 3:15pm-5:15pm

Start Preparation for a Show: (Makeup, Hair & Warmup ) Approximately 6pm
Some dancers start earlier and some start later. Depends on their personal routine or role in the evenings performance. I would say on average the dancers arrive between 6pm- 6:30pm to prepare for a 8pm show.

Right Before a La Sylphide Performance

Show: 8pm-11pm

(Possibly ice an injury, ice-bucket, stretch, or put your feet up after a show.)

Evening Stretch

Late night snack.

Bed.

The girls also have to sew all their pointe shoes at some point during the work week (between 1-4 pairs depending on the dancer). You can always find a dancer sewing throughout the day somewhere in the theater. We sew during a slow rehearsal or even in our own lunch break. Sunday is also a big sewing day. (our only day off)

The dancers have access to two Physical Therapists that we can sign up for throughout the day for 30 minute slots. One masseuse is also available for 30 minute massages throughout the day too. 🙂 (YES!!)

A doctor comes once a week (Wednesdays) so injured dancers can be looked at or scanned. There is even a sauna for us to use at our own disposal.

Dancers are always doing something, pretty much. 🙂 We live busy, hardworking, but magical lives.

xoxo
-Hol

Do We Have To Pay For All Our Stage Makeup?

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By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Monday, August 19, 2019

Thank You for the Question Gitte!

Well…. a little yes and a little no. The Royal Danish Ballet is sponsored by MAC make-up. We receive a 20% discount if we buy their products. Some years we are even given a little goodie bag filled with foundation, eye-shadows, eyeliner and lipsticks! Although, we can’t depend on it. We can be lucky and receive a goodie bag one year but not necessarily the next.

I am a big fan of BareMineral makeup so I end up buying almost all of my stage makeup (and everyday makeup) with them. My primer, my foundation, my lotion, my under eye concealer, my lip liner and my eye pencils. Bareminerals feels healthier on my skin and it isn’t as thick as MAC foundation which I prefer. If the foundation is too heavy then you’ll sweat like crazy under those stage lights!

BareMinerals

I am happy to use the free eye-shadows from MAC that came in a goodie bag a few years back. I’m not that fussy over what type of eye shadow I use, just the color. They work great! Luckily, eye shadows last a long time. The only color that I sometimes need to re-stock is the white.

MAC

I am also happy to use the free lipsticks from MAC. Over the years I have collected quite a variety of colors.

About once or twice a year the theater will give all the girls a specific free lipstick so everyone has the same color for a certain production.

Examples of this would be:
Spar Dame we were given a purple lipstick specifically for the third act.
Alice In Wonderland the black cards were given a black lipstick.
The Golden Cockerel we were given a plum lipstick.

We once received a free pair of false eye lashes in one of the MAC goodie bags, but other than that, we buy our own false eye lashes as well. I go through about 7 or 8 pairs of those a year! If I go back to the states in the summer I’ll just buy a bunch at once. I can almost always stumble across a buy two get one free kind of deal. 🙂

Napoli Team: Jonathan Chmelensky, Sorella Englund, Ryan Tomash (as Golfo) & Holly Dorger. (Me)

The only big exception is if you are playing a character such as Golfo from Napoli, or any of the animals from the Alice In Wonderland race scene. In order to become those characters it requires a makeup artist. The theater pays for all of that makeup. This also includes the white body makeup we use when dancing Swan lake.

Photo: Costin Radu

Overall we mostly pay for the makeup ourselves. Some take advantage of the MAC discount more than others. We are always happy to receive little gifts from time to time. 🙂
xoxo
-Hol

What is an Easy Ballerina Meal For Someone Who Doesn’t Cook?

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By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Monday, August 12, 2019


Amen! So feel ya here. I am not a good cook. It never interested me all that much to take the time and effort in to creating a meal. When I’m busy, I view food as simply… fuel. No time to master chef! That said, I LOVE being spoiled and having someone cook for me.

Here is a very simple, quick, and delicious recipe that I happen to eat a lot. It looks a lot like a poke bowl. The bowl consists of a cauliflower salad with pomegranates, avocado and salmon.

To make this dish (for one) you will need.

1 Cauliflower, 1 Pomegranate, 1 Avocado, 1 Package of Smoked Salmon, Olive Oil, Salt and Pepper.

The cauliflower salad recipe I learned from the mother of these two cute, future ballerinas, when they treated me to dinner at their lovely house. Thank you Marie Andersson!!

Let’s start!

Step. 1

Wash and cut your cauliflower into smaller chunks.

Step. 2

Place the cauliflower into a food chopper to cut it in to even smaller pieces. (Of course, you can chop it up yourself with a knife. A food chopper is great if you are like me and when you are hungry, you no longer have the patience to wait for your food.)

Step. 3

Place all the chopped cauliflower in to a large bowl.

Step. 4

Grab your pomegranate and cut it in half. (Fingers crossed it is a juicy, ruby red)

Step. 5

Beat your pomegranate with a spoon so all the seeds fall in to the large bowl with the chopped cauliflower.

Yumm!! Look at those red seeds! Go ahead and mix it all up.

Step. 6

Grab an avocado and peel it. Cut it in to slices and add the entire thing to your bowl.

Step. 7

Drizzle olive oil over the entire salad. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Step. 8

Open the salmon package and add as much as you’d like to your delicious, healthy bowl.

Step. 9

ENJOY!

What Do You Do 1 Hour Before A Show?

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By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Friday August 9th, 2019.

I usually get to the the theater around 6:15pm before an 8 o’clock show. The first hour is for changing into ballet warm-ups, turning on some country music, getting my hair organized and lastly, putting on my stage make-up.

Calming Tunes. Photo: Morning Projects

Once my makeup is done and my hair is all good, I’ll grab my dance bag and go upstairs to the studio to warm up, around 7:15pm. Still with my country radio playing in my ears. 😉 I love listening to country music before a show. Country singers tend to sing about the simple things in life that makes one happy. A cold beer. A date night with your love. Blue skies… Reminds me of non- stressful things which I appreciate at this hour. 😉 I’ll do a small barre including stretches for about 15 min. Then I’ll tape my feet and head down to stage. (Still in my warmups)

Photo: Sofie Mathiassen

I ALWAYS test my pointe shoes on the stage before a show. The dance floor on the stage feels different then in the studio. I want to be 100% certain that I feel good and confident in my pointe shoes. Pointe shoes can’t give you your technique but a good pair of shoes can definitely give you an extra boost of confidence to help you perform at your best. Getting the right pair of shoes just sets it all off on the right foot.

Usually, the theater has audience members on a tour of the theater about this time. I almost always get to wave and say hello to a few people. I think it is nice taking a break for a quick hello. Brings you out of your own head.

Photo: Susanne Grinder

After that, I go back upstairs to my dressing room, use the bathroom for that final nervous pee, put on my costume, add any extra jewels, earrings, head piece and look over my notes to give me those final thoughts especially, before playing a character. Then I head down to the stage to start the show with a water bottle in hand.

Photo: Tejs ‘Olm

Let the magic begin…
xoxo
-Hol

How Do Ballet Dancers Remember All Those Steps?

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You’ve just spent two and a half or three hours in your seat watching a beautiful ballet. Have you ever had the thought, “How do they remember all those steps!?”

Photo: Kasper Nybo

Ballet dancers have two major tricks up their sleeves.

1. MUSIC. The music does absolute wonders for dancers. Once the music becomes familiar, the steps are 100 times easier to remember. Even if you haven’t performed a role for several years, if you hear the music, usually the steps just start coming back to you.

Photo: Kasper Nybo

2. MUSCLE MEMORY. Ballet dancers have a tool that they’ve been training from the very first day that they took a ballet class. Our muscle memory is highly tuned. When we are preparing for a premiere, we practice the steps for 4-6 weeks. Our muscles get familiar with the sequences, until they are so familiar that we don’t even have to think about the steps anymore. Eventually, after hours of practice, the steps just come and we get the luxury to finally let go and perform.

xoxo
Hol