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General Interest

  • By Popular Demand, Ailey Spirit Return to BAM Stage

     

    BAM2010_interior_pageThe Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is ready to thrill audiences during its Encore Season at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, June 10-20th. The twelve-performance showcase features two of the company's most beloved works: "Ailey Spirit" and "By Popular Demand".  For a special treat, check out this terrific interview with Ailey dancer, Yannick Lebrun!

  • Farewell to a Legend

     

    The late dancer and choreographer, Merce Cunningham

    The

    Everyone in the dance world knows the name Merce Cunningham. This legendary dancer/choreographer's works have been presented by companies around the world, including American Ballet Theatre, Boston Ballet, New York City Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, and more.

    On February 12th 2010, the Merce Cunningham Dance Company launched a two-year "Legacy Tour" in Columbus OH. The farewell celebration will reach over 40 cities world-wide, with a final performance set for New Year's Eve 2011 in Manhattan. The tour "offers audiences a final chance to see Merce's choreography performed by the company he personally trained." - Quote courtesy Merce.org

    Last week, the company performed a re-staged production of Cunningham's final work,  Nearly 90² in Montreal. You can read all about it here.

  • Thoughts of Summer on Our Mind

    Now that summer intensive auditions are over, thousands of dance hopefuls are eagerly awaiting acceptance letters from their schools of choice. Whether you've been through the process numerous times or are just starting out, summer intensives are highlight and rite of passage in a dancer's training.

    Natalee wearing "Enchant" (Vala Dancewear Style #22108)

    Natalee

    With that in mind, I decided to take a moment and ask our very own Vala tester, Natalee Maxwell about her summer dance experiences...

    Natalee writes:

    My experiences with summer dance intensives have been really beneficial to my growth in dance. I have gathered priceless knowledge from my summer travels to Texas, California, and Washington. Since the training was so rigorous and effective, I was able to develop so much in a condensed period of time. I seemed to think that 6 weeks might seem too long to stay interested in a dance intensive, but I have learned that the time just flies by when you are learning and excelling so much.

    Getting to know and be known by many impressive teachers from around the country is a total delight as well. With each teacher, I had a fresh take on their preferred techniques and styles. By having an open mind towards the teacher’s likes allowed me to become a better-rounded dancer, able to modify myself more easily. I also enjoyed being able to take part in classes with international dancers as well as Americans. I was able to see the caliber of dancers that were out there, and break free of my so-called “small town” of Albuquerque. It was important for me to venture out and see what bigger companies and programs had to offer.

    As the audition season begins, I look forward to my summer training, as there will always be something new and exciting for me to discover in the art of dance.

    We would like to hear of your summer experiences as well!  Send us an email. And who knows? We may be contacting you to share your summer intensive experiences as well!

  • Love, Passion and Dedication: Olivier Wevers & Lucien Postlewaite

    Just like Valentine's Day, the dance world is all about love, passion and dedication. From the gorgeous costumes to the sumptuous sets, to the swelling orchestral music to the supreme dedication to one's craft, everything is cloaked and bejeweled in love.

    In our first Valentine's Day segment, we chatted with the talented Seth Orza and Sarah Ricard Orza of Pacific Northwest Ballet. Next up in our special Valentine's Day feature, we'll chat with PNB principal dancer (and Whim W'him Artistic Director), Olivier Wevers about his marriage to fellow PNB principal, Lucien Postlewaite.

    Olivier and Lucien met while working at PNB. The couple later tied the knot in Santa Cruz, CA on November 2nd, 2008.

    Lucien Postlewaite & Olivier Wevers  Wedding Day, November 2, 2008

    Lucien

    Like other dance marriages, this handsome couple doesn't have to deal with the stress of trying to balance a career with spending quality time with their spouse. "Our schedule is pretty similar, which helps with spending time together," says Olivier.

    Additionally, Wevers cherishes the many emotional benefits a relationship with a fellow dancer brings. "We understand and support each other, and know when the other needs a little support or criticism. It {the dance world} is a very mental world...it plays with your insecurities and your mind. Having a spouse that deals with similar issues really helps. Also, we push each other as artists. We have both the same set of values, and help each other identify what our priorities are!"

    Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Olivier Wevers as the evil Carabosse, and principal dancer Carla Körbes as the Lilac Fairy in Ronald Hynd’s The Sleeping Beauty.  Photo © Angela Sterling.

    Pacific

    This Valentine's Day, Olivier will be up to his eyebrows in "Work, work, work!" However, the pair does have a quiet, relaxing getaway planned. "On Sunday, I will be performing a Duke in the Sleeping Beauty with PNB at 1pm, and then driving like a mad man to get to Bellevue. FRAGMENTS is being performed at 3pm at the Meydenbauer center. {This is for Whim W'him, Olivier's new company.} Then after that, I am meeting with a videographer to get the DVD ready from the 3Seasons to send to presenters, Directors, etc. So quite a busy day, but finishing with packing for beach, sun and margaritas! (We're) leaving for Mexico for a week without a computer or cell phone!"

    Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancers Lucien Postlewaite and Kaori Nakamura as Prince Florimund and Princess Aurora in Ronald Hynd’s The Sleeping Beauty.  Photo © Angela Sterling.

    Pacific

    Now that sounds like my kind of holiday!

    You can catch Olivier and Lucien performing at McCaw Hall this week in Pacific Northwest Ballet's, The Sleeping Beauty . More information about upcoming encore performances for Whim W'him can be found by visiting WhimW'Him's website.

  • Sightings: Paper Mill Playhouse Presents "On the Town "

    What do you get when you combine…

    • the genius of Jerome Robbins with the musical talents of Leonard Bernstein,

    • Betty Comden and Adolph Green's comedic book and lyrics,

    • with a generous splash of fresh choreography from Patti Colombo and the superb staging of director Bill Berry?

    A zesty musical revival like none other!

    Set in Manhattan during 1944, On the Town is a delightful tale of three sailors who are granted a full day’s leave. The sailors meet and fall in love with three very lovely ladies, who help them embrace and enjoy the next 24 hours to the fullest.

    The Paper Mill Playhouse of Millburn, New Jersey received lauded praise for their three week run of this stellar production in December. In fact, The New York Times proclaimed it as being “….better than any musical now playing on Broadway...” Everything from the dances to staging, to set and costume design have all been completely re-styled and transformed, providing audiences with a fresh, lively, colorful respite from the dreary winter blues.

    And speaking of costumes, Class Act Tutu received the honor of constructing On the Town’s gorgeous tutus which can be seen in this YouTube video, at approximately 7 minutes, 45 seconds into the clip.

    If you didn’t get a chance to see this outstanding production in New Jersey, do not despair. Seattle’s own 5th Avenue Theater will showcase the touring production of On the Town, April 11th—May 2nd, 2010. Stay tuned for more details!

    Photo courtesy of Paper Mill Playhouse

    Photo

  • Sightings: The 2010 Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade

    See three of our "Circus" Tutus created for the Scripps Miramar Saddlebreds in the 2010 Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade.

    "Circus" Tutu - Scripps Miramar Saddlebreds

    "Circus"

    The Parade airs on ABC, Hallmark Channel, HGTV, KTLA, NBC, RFD-TV, Travel Channel and Univison on January 1.  The annual New Years procession begins at 8am Pacific Time.

    Three tutus were created by Class Act Tutu and designed and embellished by Christine Joly of CJDL Designs.  You will also see an amazing Vintage Clown Costume designed by Ms. Joly.

    Vintage Clown by CJDL Design

    Vintage

    The Scripps Miramar Salddlebreds are #73 in the parade lineup.  Enjoy!

  • Interview: Pacific Northwest Ballet Soloist, Lindsi Dec - Part Two

    In Part One of our interview, Pacific Northwest Ballet soloist Lindsi Dec spoke candidly about her recent marriage and how she began her dance training. Now in Part Two, Lindsi shares what a typical day is like for her, as well as the challenges of being a tall dancer…

    Class Act:  Lindsi, the long lines you and your taller peers are able to create are just exquisite!  Would you mind telling us what it’s like to be a tall dancer, and how this fact has enhanced or challenged your career?
    Lindsi:   Hmm. That’s a good question. Well, as a taller dancer I’d have to say it’s actually a bit harder to control my extremities than a dancer of average height. It’s a tough process for us (tall dancers) – in my experience anyway – to make it all come together with beautiful lines. My core wasn’t strong enough, I was very weak—I still am in fact, so I have to do a lot of cross training. But it makes us unique and helps us stand out a bit, which is great.

    Class Act:  I never looked at it that way before. I often assumed--probably like most people--that being taller was more of an advantage in the dance world than not.  Thank you for being so open about that.  Ok, here’s a question I know our readers are dying to have you answer! What does a typical day look like for you?

    Lindsi:   A typical day for me is full of dancing! I wake up at 8am and get ready for the day, including making a lunch full of snacks that will last me until 7pm.  I like to eat a lot during our breaks to allow my body to refuel for the next rehearsal.
    I leave the house by 9:15 am and am in the studio by 9:50 am.  It is at this time, I tape my toes and warm-up.  We have class from 10:15- 11:45am.  Class is very important because it prepares and warms up the body for the rest of the rehearsal day.  It is also a great opportunity to improve one’s technique.  We have 20 minutes after class to rest up, snack, and see what pointe shoes are going to work for various rehearsals.  Our normal rehearsal schedule is from 12:05 –3pm with 5 minute breaks each hour.

    Lindsi Dec, Soloist, Pacific Northwest Ballet wearing Vala Dancewear's "Bombshell" Leotard

    Lindsi

    We have lunch off from 3-4 pm.  I normally try to work out at that time because cross training for the body is extremely important.  I do strengthening exercises and weights.  On some days, depending on my rehearsal load, I will also do cardio.  From 4:05-7pm, we have our last three hours of the day.
    Each day is different though, we may have 6 hours of rehearsal or one hour.  It depends on the rep we are doing and how much we are dancing.  Then, it’s back home to a nice dinner and relaxing before I go to bed at 10pm. Yes, I know, it’s very early, but my body needs at least ten hours of sleep or else I am not a happy camper the next day!

    ….Check back soon to read the third installment where Lindsi discusses her partnership with Vala Dancewear, her hobbies, and favorite roles!

    by Denise Opper, Media Relations:  Class Act Tutu & Vala Dancewear

  • Interview: Pacific Northwest Ballet Soloist, Lindsi Dec - Part One

    Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB) soloist, Lindsi Dec is not only a gifted dancer but is also one of the lovely Vala Dancewear models!  With her graceful lines, powerful stage presence and classic beauty, Lindsi captivates and dazzles her audience, while her passion, determination, and strong work ethic make her an inspiration to today’s young dancers.
    Lindsi recently took some time out of her busy schedule to chat with Class Act Tutu’s Denise Opper both at home in Seattle and in between performances at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. Her answers will be chronicled in a series of posts here on the Class Act Tutu blog, and will feature some personal “behind the scenes” photos Lindsi graciously agreed to share with our readers.

    Pacific Northwest Ballet soloist Lindsi Dec (center) and company members dance the Waltz of the Flowers in PNB's Stowell/Sendak Nutcracker.  Photo ©  Angela Sterling.

    Pacific

    About Lindsi Dec

    Class Act: Hello, Lindsi. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to chat with me today.
    Lindsi:  Oh, it’s my pleasure!
    Class Act: Let’s begin by having you share a little about yourself.
    Lindsi: Well, let’s see. I’m 27 years old and I recently married Karel Cruz, a principal PNB dancer. (Her infectious smile was evident through the phone.)
    Class Act: Wow, congratulations! So does being married to a fellow dancer make life easier in a sense?
    Lindsi: Oh, yes definitely! He understands what my crazy life is like completely. It’s wonderful; I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    In The Beginning

    Class Act: That’s terrific. So now, let’s discuss your dance background for a moment. What age did you begin your training, what schools did you attend, and was ballet something you always felt drawn to?
    Lindsi: Well, my mom enrolled me in dance classes when I was 3 years old—ballet, tap and jazz—I actually hated ballet at first. I was more into tap/jazz at that point.
    Class Act: Oh my goodness, really? I never would’ve guessed. So what made you change your mind?

    The Inspiration

    Lindsi: When I was about 13, my mom took me to the Kennedy Center to see Miami City Ballet perform Rubies and—that was it!  I told my mom I wanted to perform the same role (tall girl).

    Pacific Northwest Ballet soloist Lindsi Dec in George Balanchine’s Rubies.  Choreography © The George Balanchine Trust.  Photo © Angela Sterling.

    Pacific

    When I was 14, I started focusing on ballet but my private school refused to credit my ballet classes toward the athletic graduation requirement.  So, I had to quit dance for awhile because of that and had to play soccer and attend a self-defense class to complete the requirements over two semesters.  Then later, when I returned to ballet, I felt I had to work harder than all the other girls because I was so far behind, but it was worth it.  I then trained at the Washington School of Ballet, which is where I really began to improve.  I attended 3 summer courses at Houston Ballet on scholarship, then after high school I attended PNB’s summer program.  From there, I was in their PD (Professional Division) for 2 years, and then joined the company as an apprentice in 2001.

    ….Be sure to check back soon to read the next installment where Lindsi shares a typical “Day in the Life,” as well as the challenges of being a tall dancer!

  • Sightings: Juicy Couture

    What lovely ballerina is wearing these pointe shoes with a Class Act Tutu?

    ?

    ?

    It's a 10 foot tall clown in the Juicy Couture holiday display, "The Juicy'ist Show on Earth!"

    Juicy'est Show on Earth!

    Juicy'ist

    Juicy'ist Show on Earth!

    Juicy'ist

    Last year we created some fun tutu skirts for the grand opening of Juicy Couture's 5th Avenue store.  We were thrilled when they called on us again to provide tutus for the holiday display in all of the US Juicy Couture stores!  If you want a "Juicy" tutu of your own,  you can find them at Class Act Tutu in our "Fashion Tutu" section.

  • What EXACTLY is a Sugarplum?

    Sugarplum

    The Nutcracker’s Sugar Plum Fairy is a well-beloved character. With her beauty and benevolent rule over the fanciful Land of Sweets, her character inspires childhood dreams of spun sugar set among gossamer clouds.
    As a young child, I simply envisioned a sugarplum as being a lush, purple plum generously coated in sparkling white sugar.

     "The children were nestled all snug in their beds, While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads."

    "The

    But what exactly is a sugarplum? Well, that depends who you ask.

    • Sugarplums, as defined by Food Reference.com “…were originally sugar coated coriander, a treat that offered a sweet start and then a spicy burst of flavor.  Later the recipe included small bits of fruit and became the confection we know today.”
    • FoodTimeLine.org’s description agrees, “Sugarplums belong to the comfit family, a confection traditionally composed of tiny sugar-coated seeds.”
    • The dictionary defines a sugarplum as “A small round piece of sugary candy.”
    • The Historical Cookery Page by Sharon Cohen suggests that the holiday confection may have simply been a plum preserved in sugar, “a relatively new idea in 16th Century England.” While other books and websites suggest that a sugarplum doesn’t have to be a plum at all, but rather can be any preserved fruit such as apricots or raisins, coated in chocolate.
    • Last but not least, there is an actual sugar plum which is “one of the few plums with a non-bitter skin.”

    Whichever definition you choose to embrace, this simple fact remains: the sugarplum—whether coated in sugar or drenched in chocolate –or perhaps not even a plum at all – is a term that soundly resonates with all the whimsy, warmth, and delight of the holiday season.   To learn more about this classic confection, please visit the embedded links included in this article.

    By Denise Opper

    Media Relations: Vala Dancewear/Class Act Tutu

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