Yes! Fabulous that you would like to
learn more about the ballet world. In order to not over load you with
ideas and suggestions, as there really is a huge supply of materials out
there that can take you in all sorts of fascinating directions. I’ve
compiled two videos each about the two choreographers that I find the
most interesting and influential in my life, George Balanchine and
Fantastic Clips of many Balanchine Ballets showing the diversity and range:
Oooh that’s a big question! So many roles have touched me. The lead ballerina in, Etudes, is very dear to me because it was my first Principal Part as a professional dancer. I’ve been very fortunate to be able to revisit the ballet every few years. I feel that Etudes represents my growth as a dancer and artist.
The entire Balanchine repertoire means a lot to me because of my training at the School of American Ballet. I spent four years in NYC admiring and learning Balanchine ballets, which became my foundation and core. Most recently, I trained with Merrill Ashley, for the premiere of Ballo Della Regina. Having the opportunity to learn from a living, Balanchine legend was a memory I’ll never forget. To be able to explore and dive into every step, every day for nearly five weeks was ballerina heaven. I learned so much from that experience that I consciously try to add to every role that I do moving forward.
As for full-length story ballets, Giselle is certainly a character I treasure. I felt, as many ballerinas must also, that I shared and understood many of the emotions of Giselle throughout the ballet. Falling in love, betrayal, heartbreak and finally forgiveness.
The great challenge in Giselle was transforming from the mad scene in first act to finding the complete inner peace and calm to do the penches, center stage, alone with a spotlight in the second act. I believe that this ballet helped me discover new depths of my artistry that I’d never explored before.
But I’ve never had more fun, than performing as Alice in Wheeldon’s, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Absolutely pure joy the entire way through! I love that production to pieces. It is magical! So much dancing! So many smiles to give to the audience!
As many ballerinas have said before me and will say after me… “It has taken me years to customize my shoes.” And it’s true! It has taken me years! Luckily, I am currently very happy with them.
My Shoes are Freeds. (Always and Forever)
I wear maker, V. I have worn this maker ever since I became a professional. Nearly thirteen years!! I love my maker V. I hear, he has become quite popular and now it’s extremely difficult to become a new customer of his! Go maker V! He is magic.
I currently wear size 5 and a heel pin, XX. (for a long time I wore 5 1/2 X… but my bunions grew.) :/
I use a leather insole. I loooove my leather insole. I have Freed cut the sole so it is only 10cm long. DO NOT DO THIS UNLESS YOU’VE BEEN IN POINTE SHOES FOR YEARS! This is extremely dangerous to do if you are young or new to pointe. By cutting the insole, it takes out all of the support in the shoe that protects the feet and ankles. It’s a little crazy. I admit it. I dance with very little actual shoe. You can only do this if you have trained your ankles to be strong. Very strong. *Don’t try at home.*
I have cut down the sides of my shoes so the arch of the foot is shown more. This was one of the first things I did when I started to customize my shoes so I don’t even remember how much it is that I cut down.
Lastly, I use an elastic draw string!
These shoes have given me some of my absolute BEST memories. I am so grateful for them. Truly love what I do.
the legend, Merrill Ashley, was everything and more a dancer can wish
for during a rehearsal period! She is AMAZING!
When I saw Merrill in the hallway of the Royal Danish Ballet for the first time, I ran up to her, gave her a big hug and I started crying. I was THAT excited! Absolutely, a complete, 100% fan girl moment. I knew ever since my boss, Nikolaj Hubbe, announced that she was coming to set Ballo Della Regina on us that she would be the highlight of the season!
I trained in NYC at the School of American Ballet which is the ballet school that feeds in to the New York City Ballet, aka Balanchine’s company. So of course, I’ve grown up knowing exactly who Merrill Ashley is. She is someone I’ve admired greatly for a long time. Living Balanchine royalty. I also read her book when I was a teenager, Dancing For Balanchine, (I recommend it if you have not read it, to take a look) and as I read it, I kept nodding my head in agreement to the words on the page. Her opinions and views on things struck home when I could recognize the same thoughts from within myself.
You could feel from day one in the studio with Merrill, that her goal for every dancer in the room, was bigger than just getting the ballet on and up to par. Merrill wanted to help you improve to be a better all around dancer. That is an exciting energy to feel from your coach. When you are already working hard, and then feel that energy coming from her, it just makes you want to work ten times harder. To soak up every second, every word of wisdom she has.
Under her eye, we explored every step in Ballo Della Regina. We spent six weeks, for five days a week with extended rehearsals everyday, to work on Ballo. This process came at our busiest time of the year which is of course, The Nutcracker season. So yes, some days were long. Some days we were more tired than others. Some days we wouldn’t even leave the theater until after the evening’s performance. We’d go straight from Ballo rehearsals to getting ready for the Sugar Plum Fairy or Cavalier. We were working very intensely but it was without a doubt, the best rehearsal process I’ve ever had. (Powerade did become a must have) 😉
I defiantly didn’t want to disappoint Merrill or let her down in any way but she made the atmosphere so nice and supportive that I was able to forget that I was dancing in front of one of the ballerina’s I admire and idolize the most in the world. The fear and intimidation vanished. There was room for jokes and stories! Oh the stories! To hear about Balanchine and that epic period of time she danced in was 100% ballet heaven. Everyday, I looked so much forward to going to work. I was completely inspired by her.
There is truly nothing more rewarding than to feel that you are improving as a dancer with your coach. My time with Merrill was a gift. I know in 5-10-20 years, I’ll still be talking about how lucky I was to get to work with Merrill Ashley!
There are a few differences but truly not as many as you might think. In Denmark, about once every few months, the public is invited in to the Royal Theater to watch the ballet company take morning class on the stage for free, while they can enjoy a croissant and some coffee.
The teacher varies but more often then not, for a Brunch and Ballet class we have our boss, Nikolaj Hubbe. He is quite charismatic and he always keeps the audience completely entertained with his jokes and Dan-glish way of speaking. For everyday class, we don’t actually have Nikolaj that often. Maybe twice a month… maybe. Some months less, some months more. Former Principal Dancer with RDB, Jean-Lucien Massot, former dancer and character dancer with RDB, Mogens Boesen, and former Principal dancer with NYCB, Adam Luders are our more typical teachers for everyday class. The past year or so, management has been bringing in more guest teachers from all around the world which is also super fun. Teachers such as, Taina Morales, Johnny Eliasen and Eva Draw.
For our everyday classes we never take it on stage. We always start the day in one of our studios backstage. The teacher also isn’t miked up but Nik, or whoever is teaching doesn’t change their steps, or behavior just because there is an audience for Brunch and Ballet. Who they are without an audience is the same as who they are when there is one.
The last fifteen minutes of a Brunch and Ballet, there is always a little demonstration of what we are currently working on, in hopes that we inspire a few audience members to come and see our next show.
A typical class is a full one hour and a half with no demonstration. Usually class ends with people trying out all sorts of steps they are working on, fouette turns, or boys jumping around.
The outfits that we come in, the weird stretches you see us do, the leg warmers, the rolling out, the hair down, the messy buns, the side talking, the laughing, the jokes, the focus…. that is everyday. What you see is, what you get with RDB. 😉
performing. Without a doubt, my most favorite thing to do. I love
stepping out in to the lights and sharing an evening with an audience.
Magic happens. I swear, there is magic in the air at a theater. It is
just waiting for you to ignite it.
moment when performing is when you are so “in” to the show that you can
just play. The mind no longer has to focus on everything it has been
instructed to do from the previous weeks. Everything clicks. All
emotions become pure and your own physical boundaries get pushed! It’s
just you up there without your coaches helping hand. Time to own the
stage. It’s exhilarating.
before a performance your head is filled with a lot of input from your
coaches. Corrections, portrayal, emotions, counts, stage left, stage
right, downstage, upstage… It can become numbing when you have so many
things to remember in the same second.
But, this part
of the process cannot be skipped. You need to know all of these things
in order to present your best self and in order to reach the best
overall production. Some days are frustrating. Some days are tiring. But
in the end you are always very grateful for having a team working with
you and helping you along the way. You couldn’t do it without them.
finally get to the performing step of the process, the mind starts to
calm. That’s when you can start to lose yourself in the moment. It is
the most amazing moment when performing. It may not happen on your first
performance. Usually, you need at least one run under your belt. But
then, an extra boost of confidence comes. Your body is automatically
doing the steps, you know all your cues like the back of your hand and
the opportunity to play has arrived. Play with holding a balance here,
stretch the musicality there, add an extra turn where you can, when you
can, steal another glance at your partner… There is nothing more joyous
then getting to the level of playing on stage. It brings you on a high
that you don’t ever want to come down from.
As I was writing this, the ballet that kept creeping in to my mind was, Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland by Christopher Wheeldon. This ballet was a huge challenge to take on. The role of Alice has many specific instructions and steps. Have to look at the clock on count 2, of the fifth 8…. etc. And Alice is always moving. Always! It took a long time to learn all of it and then to remember all of it, and then again to become comfortable with all of it. But I’ve never felt more rewarded by a role then Alice. Especially the second time the Royal Danish Ballet put up Alice, I found that I was really able to start to play on stage. I still crave that feeling after performances. I had some of my best performances to date. Out doing my own expectations of myself, which I’d never experienced before. I can be a pretty tough cookie on myself. 😉 And I was having so much fun! Every night after I played Alice, I couldn’t sleep. I was still so much in Alice’s world… replaying the night’s highlights over and over again in my head. Those shows felt like magic. Igniting that magic that exists in a theater so one can play, live on stage, is the best moment of performing.
Spar Dame, is
the current ballet that The Royal Danish Ballet is performing! The
choreographer is no other then the one and only, Liam Scarlett. The
simplistic, yet chic sets and amazing costume designs are by Jon
Morrell. Together they have created quite a show!
Spar Dame, or
Queen of Spades in English, tackles a dark story about an interest that
becomes obsession, that turns in to madness. It is based on Russian
Alexander Pushkin’s short story about a officer named Hermann, who meets
an elderly countess, aka. Queen of Spades, who holds the
secret, three winning cards at gambling. Hermann seduces her young
chambermaid, Liza, in order to get closer to the countess in hopes of
discovering her secret cards. Every time he thinks he has taken a strong
step forward in his scheme, it ends up being that the countess was
really one step in front of him all along. Eventually, he loses his mind
over the cards in a epic solo that closes the ballet.
That last scene, Hermann’s mad scene, is my favorite thing about Spar Dame. The set closes in on him with three huge walls blocking his exit. To me, representing his own mind closing in on himself. You see him dark eyed, frustrated and crossing the line in to insanity as the solo builds and builds and builds.
It must be an absolutely exhilarating scene to dance and play. The reason why it is my favorite thing about Spar Dame is because it is the first mad scene, as far as I am aware of, that uses the male character going mad instead of the more typical, female character.
The most famous mad scene will forever be Giselle’s. Rightfully so. It’s heartbreaking. The completely innocent girl experiencing a dramatic, heartbreak of devastation. Many amazing ballerina’s have performed this scene. Many more in the future will as well.
In Spar Dame, it is the mans turn to be completely vulnerable, to show an “ugly” emotion with the challenge of still being honest on stage. The closing scene in Spar Dame is choreographically phenomenal. Hermann dances for at least five minutes with big jumps, runs, and turns until he eventually jumps to his knees on the floor. Physically exhausted. Emotionally drained.
This scene stays with you. You believe that he has really lost it. Goosebumps. His obsession with the story and the countess destroys him in the end. Haunting.
both our current men, Alexander Bozinoff and Tobias Prætorius playing
Hermann. It is an absolute privilege to watch them perform. They knock
it out of the park every time! You can catch Spar Dame through November
23rd. Not to be missed!
Here is a photo series taking you through, step by step, on how to tie your pointe shoe ribbons. It’s a little tricky at first, but in no time you will be tying your shoes in a matter of seconds. I hope this is easy to follow! Let me know if you have any questions by commenting below!
putting on your pointe shoe while sitting on the floor. Bend your knee
and slightly flex your foot so it lifts off the ground. Make sure each
ribbon is free on either side of your shoe.
Take only the ribbon that is on the inside of you foot and leave the other ribbon alone to begin with.
Drape the ribbon across your ankle and bring it around the back of your ankle.
Keep going around the ankle…
Continue around the backside of the ankle again. (So the first ribbon goes around your ankle 1.5 times)
Your right hand will keep holding on to the ribbon that you’ve been working with. Now, with you left hand, pick up the other ribbon.
Drape this ribbon across your ankle, the opposite way, creating an X on the front of your ankle.
Continue with the ribbon all the way around the back of you ankle, and across the front. When the two ribbons are parallel with each other then you are done.
Still with a
bent leg, let your leg fall into the “butterfly” position so you have
easy access to the inside of your foot. You are ready to tie your first
Tie a knot.
Try not to tie a knot that is too tight. But the knot does need to be
tight enough that it doesn’t unravel. I tie my knots directly between my
ankle bone and my Achilles tendon.
Tie a second knot.
Now, grab both ends of your ribbons and lay them on top of each other to create only one ribbon.
Fold the ribbon in on itself.
Tuck the ribbon under all the layers of ribbon on your ankle.
Before I go onstage, I always take a small piece of tape and wrap it
around my tucked in ribbons. This way, I’m sure that my ribbons will not
A piece of tape, about this size.
Fold the tape over the ribbons.
Voila! Now you have a shoe that is performance ready!! Just have to put on the other shoe.
Yes! I will highlight three schools that I believe are very interesting and worth checking out, that are outside of Denmark.
The School of American Ballet. aka SAB.
I might be a bit biased because this is the school that I attended for
four years, year round. I credit SAB for giving me my tool box to become
a professional. They are a huge part of my foundation and I truly don’t
know if I would be where I am today without them.
SAB is located
in the heart of New York City. Lincoln Center. 66th & Broadway.
They train only in the Balanchine style. ALL the dancers that join New
York City Ballet must be trained by SAB. So, if you dream of dancing for
NYCB one day, then you must attend SAB.
I believe in
this school 100%. Their strengths are definitely giving their students a
wonderful technique. They teach how to move quickly, how to interrupt
the music, and how to move big. You’ll learn a lot and be a much
improved dancer by attending SAB.
I am very
grateful to this school and would recommend everyone to audition for
their summer program! It was always so much fun! NYC is not to be
The Royal Ballet School.
am very impressed by the Royal Ballet School in London, England. They
train in the English style of ballet. The system of training is based on
the legacy of Ninette de Valois. It is located right in Covent Garden.
this school stand out, at least in my eyes, is that they have put a huge
focus in to a “Healthy Dancer Program.” They have a team of 20,
dedicated to the children attending the school. It includes,
Each child is screened and profiled to create a conditioning program that will specifically help them succeed.
team also collects information alongside the English Institute of
Sport, which gives the school wonderful insights about nutritional
The school even has counselors as part of a school-wide
mental health provision, led by a clinical psychologist Mental Health
and Safeguarding Lead. This is so important. The mental side of ballet
is the hardest.
Other ballet schools may have elements of what the Royal Ballet School is offering but they are defiantly leading the way.
Canada’s National Ballet School. aka. NBS
reason why I mention this school is because many of the dancers
currently in the Royal Danish Ballet have been trained by NBS. Dancers
that I truly admire. For example, Ji Min Hong and Alexander Bozinoff.
They all speak very highly of the school. This school is located in
The school is modeled after the Royal Ballet School in London and includes living facilities, and exchange programs for their students. This school is definitely also worth looking more in to.
Pirouettes, pique turns, lame ducks, fouette turns, chaines, soutenu’s… I sure do love to turn! There is something about that feeling of being so on balance that you can make the world spin around you, while you stay put!
In my dreams I can turn 6, 7, 8 times around.
Reality always hits! I’ve NEVER done 6, 7, or 8 turns in real life. The dream lives on…
My average is 3 turns. I can consistently do 3 turns to my right. To the left, not nearly as consistent. More, every once in awhile.
I can do 4 turns! But I’ve only ever done 4 turns in the studio. Whereas I have done 3 turns on stage multiple times. When I’m in the studio and go around 4 times I always have a little moment of, Did anyone just see that!? It’s exciting. 🙂
When you turn
on stage and go for more then just two, you are taking a risk. It’s
liberating. You can’t save a turn if you go for an additional rotation
without being on balance. You will fall out of it. Consequently,
possibly making a bit of a mess of your variation…
On stage there is a lot more pressure then just in class. I tend to thrive on the stress! I love the idea of pushing beyond your own limits in front of an audience. I’m a true believer of now or never! I always take the risk and go for 3 turns on stage.
I wouldn’t take this risk though if I didn’t believe in my turns. The faith comes from all the hard work done in class. I’ve analyzed how much force I need, (less is more in my case) and I use my personal corrections to keep my turns turning. Corrections such as, higher passe, don’t over open my left arm (when turning to the right), and to feel my arms being lifted up from underneath them.
How many turns can you do!? What corrections help your turns!?
Keep in mind
that a single turn that is placed, turned out and controlled can be just
as beautiful as multiple turns. It isn’t about the number, but the