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Class Act Tutu Blog

  • Fashion "Tulle’s" for the Fashion Forward

    By Mariangela Abeo

    Gone are the days of going shopping with your mom to the local department store for a prom dress, then hoping and praying that no other girls show up wearing the same thing.  Today’s teens are steeped in the rich fashion molasses that is served to them on everything, everywhere they turn.  From social media, to reality TV, they are on the new fads before even the hipsters have time to make them cool and before a teen celebrity can been seen in it on Instagram or on TMZ.

    The 80s look that so many in my generation loved and cherish, are back – everything from floral and lace, to vibrant colors, punk rock accents and yes, you guessed it – TULLE.  The fabric that every girl, and yes also boys – at some point in their life, secretly want an entire outfit made out of.

    Whether you shop at hip boutiques and consignment shops or mega trendy places like H&M or Forever 21 – pairing tulle tutus and skirts for every day looks, school dances and even Prom – is easy and simple.

    For Prom or Punk

    For example, a Prom show stopper will have flowing tulle, paired with tasteful corsets, lacy tops, tussled hair, and a pretty smokey eye.

    Romantic-Tutu-for-Fashion-with-Corset

    Model:

    The punk element is one of the reasons shops like Red Light or Trendy Wendy – which we are lucky enough to have in Seattle - are popular – you can find fabulous tops and funky tights to pair with one of Class Act’s 5-layer “Juicy” Bird of Paradise short tutus.  If you aren’t in the Seattle area, find a local vintage or consignment store and a trendy boutique to get necessary outfit pairings.  Big “diva” hair is a must, take your skirt colors to your local MAC counter to get your make-up done – and finish with some FIERCE heels or even grunge it out with some army boots from the Army surplus store!

    Tutu-Grunge-Funky-Punk

    Model:

    Who wore it better? (It won't happen!)

    The wonderful thing about tutus beside the fact that they are handmade, and that tulle personally makes me morph into a 5 year old that squeals with joy even at the sight of it – are that they are unique.  You will not feel like you are in People magazine’s “Who wore it better” because another girl is wearing the same dress.  If you pair it with your street wear, you will be SURE to turn heads, get compliments and be considered a trend setter with peers that may be waiting for someone to stand out before they add a little tulle into their daily wardrobe.

    It's good for the soul

    I asked a few “fashion forward” teens I know, to tell me 3 words that came to mind when they saw tulle in a store or in a magazine – and the theme was consistent: Playful, Fun, Delicate,  Feminine, Beauty, Classy, Diva.  All things all of us, at some point, want to portray with our outfits, right?  Even more reason for me to firmly believe that keeping a good amount of tulle in your closet, is good for the soul…

    Romantic-Tutu-Prom-Fashion

    Model:

    Special thanks to Kim and Adam Bamberg of LaVie Photography and Bamberg Fine Art Photography and Oliver Wevers for sharing his lovely home!

  • Madison Abeo - An Interview with a Rising Star

    Young dancers spend countless hours in the studio developing their skills and artistry. While you will often find their peers hanging out at the mall or movie theater, these hard working young men and women will deny themselves the typical pleasures of teenage life for the promise of a shining dance career.

    Madison Abeo, a level VIII student at Pacific Northwest Ballet School, is one such dancer who recently caught our eye. We were not only impressed with Madison's classic beauty and winning smile, but by her charisma, work ethic and dedication to both her family and her art. This young lady is the living, breathing definition of a "class act" - and we're thrilled to introduce her to all of you!

    Ladies and gentlemen, Miss Madison Abeo...

    Grace:  Madison Abeo

    Grace:

    Hello, Madison. Please share about yourself and how you got your start in ballet.

    I was 3 years old and my family and I were living in Zambia, Africa. We had traveled there while I was young to do work in the villages. My parents put me in a local ballet class because I was clumsy and always tripping over my feet. We lived there for 2 years and when we moved back to the states I took classes at a small ballet studio in Monroe, where the teacher was a Cornish graduate. She encouraged me to audition for Cornish and then I danced there for 4 years before moving to PNBS.

    When did you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that a career in dance was right for you?

    When I did my first Nutcracker performance at Cornish, and played the role of Clara – I knew I wanted to dance professionally. Its hard to explain how it made me feel, its something only a dancer understands. I dance because of the feeling I get when I dance, there really is no word to describe it.

    Many locals are familiar with your father's "artistic" side. Can you share a little bit about your family with our readers?

    My dad is local rapper RA Scion, who was in a group called Common Market. My mom manages his music and the business side of things. He has had music videos on MTV and done 5 or 6 CD’s. I am in a few of the videos. We have had an exciting life. I have been to huge concerts and danced on stage with him at Bumbershoot, Sasquatch Festival, and toured to several cities him on the road when I was younger. I have seen the fun side of music festivals, the VIP and green rooms, the backstage life is something that is the same in music as it is in dance.

    How has their influence affected you? Are they supportive of your career or did they caution you against it?

    I don’t feel like they have influenced me in the way of dance. Neither of them are dancers, but they did influence me with how I perform and work. Both are very hard workers. My dad taught me the value of not only hard work but how important the quality of a good performance and show is. How to be a humble and a grateful performer and how to work to do your best for the sake of the audience.

    You've had the opportunity to meet and work with many local artists - both in music and dance. Can you share a little about that? What were some of your most favorite projects?

    I have worked with a few bands and danced in their music videos. My favorite music video was for a local group called Alabaster. It was a fun atmosphere and they gave me a lot of artistic freedom. I was also asked to work with STG/Paramount for their annual DOORS fundraising event, where I was honored to have Olivier Wevers choreograph a piece for me to perform, and PNB was nice enough to loan me a costume. I was the only classically trained ballet dancer highlighted that night, and I got to meet some amazing people that donate to the arts.

    What programs are you looking at for summer?

    I auditioned for 4 schools, ABT New York, San Fran Ballet, Boston Ballet and Houston Ballet and I was grateful to get into all 4! I have recently made the decision to attend San Fran Ballet summer intensive, after discussing it with my parents, my teachers I decided it was best for my future.

    Even with partial scholarships, summer intensives can be quite expensive! Unlike many students, I've heard you're actually working to help off-set some of the costs associated with your intensive. Tell us a little more about that.

    Yes they are very expensive! I am always shocked at how parents can afford to send their kids every year to these programs that are $4-7,000 and then you have airfare, spending money, etc. My family has never been able to afford such things. I am grateful to my grandparents that have helped with the costs in the past. Now that I am old enough to help work to earn the money, I have been babysitting and saving every penny! I also have created a Facebook fan page, at the suggestion of my Aunt, and people who had no children for me to babysit, that wanted to donate and invest in my future. It means so much to me that so many people not only believe in me, but that they are helping me reach my dream.

    Working, going to school and taking dance class...that's quite a load! Please share what a typical "day in the life" is like for you.

    A typical day for me is – waking up around 6:45am to get ready for school. Packing a lunch and all of my school and dance gear. School until 1:30pm, and I attend the Center School, which is at the Seattle Center, so I just walk to PNB from there. I take about an hour to change, tape my feet and stretch. Then class, which is always on pointe at this level (Level VIII) is from Mon-Sat from 3:00 until 5:30. I stretch briefly after class, get home around 6pm, eat a quick dinner. Then if it’s a Friday, I babysit from 7 until Midnight or spend the rest of my night doing homework. Saturdays are usually the longest dance day, my level dances from 11:30am until 4pm and I arrive early at 9am to take the Pilates class that is provided to help with my core strength.

    strength

    Strength:

    Many young dancers have strong mentors in their lives who encourage and inspire them. Who are your mentors and how important has their influence been to your success?

    Some of the people I consider to be mentors are Olivier Wevers (Former PNB Principle dancer and director of Whim W’him dance Co.), Andrew Bartee, Sarah Pasch (PNB dancers), Rena Robinson-Steiner (Former PNB Teacher and dancer with Dance Theater of Harlem), and Colleen Dishy (former RAD and Cornish college teacher). In one way or another, all of these people have spent one on one time with me, giving me advice, encouragement and have been amazing examples for how to be the best dancer I can be.

    You've also done some modeling for Vala Dancewear. Can you share how that partnership came about?

    My mom likes to take photos for fun and some of the pictures caught the eye of an amazing dance mom (You! Lol) who gifted me a leotard and my mother took photos of me in it. Rebecca, the owner loved the photos and was so nice - gave me even more leos for my mom to take photos of me in! I love the leos because they are a great twist of classic styles, they are comfortable and SO much more reasonable than some of the other brands. The most recent photoshoot we did was with professionals, La Vie Photography / Bamberg Fine Arts Photography – in which I wore Vala leos AND Class Act tutus. It was kind of a fashion ballet photo shoot, with some partnering photos that included my class dance partner Levi Teachout. We spent all day taking photos in different tutus and outfits, and we have already seen a couple of the shots and they are so beautiful! I am so excited to see how the rest turned out!

    Beauty:  Madison Abeo

    Beauty:


    Okay...loaded question time! Who are your favorite dancers?

    My favorite dancers are: Carla Korbes (PNB Principle dancer) – She is the perfect dancer. Not only does she have amazing feet, lines and expression – she is one of the nicest and most down to earth ballerina’s at the ballet. She is kind, humble and smiles at you when you say hi. When I watch her dance, she takes my breath away. Lucien Postelwaite (Ballet Monte Carlo) was the main reason I wanted to dance with PNB. He is a star. The perfect blend of grace and strength. As a younger dancer and before he left PNB, I often said I wanted to someday dance a piece with him! Andrew Bartee (PNB dancer) can do things with his body that I have never seen other people do. He is a true artist and isn’t afraid to be himself.

    Is there anything from your past (dance or otherwise) that if you could - you'd change?

    My parents have taught me that all of the challenges we face help make you who are now, so I don’t think I would change anything!

    Developing as a dancer and artist takes dedicated, consistent effort and tons of "sweat". How do you stay so motivated?

    Family, friends and my passion for dance is what keeps me going.

    Do you have friends outside of dance? If so, do they support you in your efforts?

    Yes I have friends outside of dance. My true friends understand my passion for dance, they often ask me about my progress and shows and they know how much it means to me to have them at performances, so they come to as many as they can.

    What is your "dream" role?

    My dream role is of Odette/Odile in Swan Lake. I have always been mesmerized by the beautiful upper body movement of that role. The back and arms are amazing in that part. Also it is a huge test as a dancer to be able to play the pure and dark side of a character, really pushes you to the limits! I hope I get the chance to someday dance that role.

    A dancer's career is often very short. What can you see yourself doing after the final curtain goes down?

    I want to stay in the dance world, I would love to teach classes. I love kids and I think I would do well as a teacher.

    What final piece of advice would you give to other young dancers out there?

    Don’t make yourself try to fit into the “box” that some people and teachers think you need to be in order to be a good dancer. Its unrealistic. Instead, be the best dancer you can be by working on your strength and being healthy. Most of all, respect your teachers, they may not dance anymore, but they all were amazing when they did. They have learned tools that will only make things easier if you just listen. Lastly, dance is hard – on your body and on your spirit. Make sure you love it and that the love shows when you dance, or else its not worth all the pain and effort.

    To see the rest of the photos from the shoot Madison did with La Vie Photography – and to visit Madison’s dance support page, please visit https://www.facebook.com/MadisonRaynAbeo .  You can see Madison dance next in an excerpt from Balanchine’s Serenade – performed by the Level 8 dancers as part of the PNB School’s, End of Year performance on June 15th , 7pm at McCaw Hall.  Tickets can be purchased by visiting http://www.pnb.org.

  • In a Relationship!

    Huffington Post has an in-depth interview with Pacific Northwest Ballet's Artistic Director, Peter Boal and Principal Dancers, James Moore & Kaori Nakamura about Jean-Christophe Maillot's version of Roméo et Juliette.

    Pacific Northwest Ballet Principal Dancers James Moore & Kaori Nakamua in Jean-Christophe Maillot's Roméo et Juliette.       Photos: Angela Sterling

    Pacific

  • Valentine’s Day with Seth Orza & Sarah Ricard Orza

    Seth Orza, Soloist and Sarah Ricard Orza, Corps de Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet.  Shown here in "Petit Mort".

    Seth

    Ah, Valentine’s Day! It’s the time of year when we shower our true love with tokens of affection, whether they be in the form of a box of chocolates, a gushy card, or a dozen roses (or all of the above!).

    In the dance world, Valentine’s Day can be especially wonderful as couples not only live, but oftentimes work, together. We decided to get an inside look at the blessings of Valentine’s Day through the eyes of the dancers themselves. First up is Seth Orza and Sarah Ricard Orza of Pacific Northwest Ballet!

    Class Act: “How did you two meet?”
    Seth: “We met in New York at the School of American Ballet’s when we were both 13.”
    Sarah: “We met at the summer course. Then we got together and started dating seriously when we were both at the School of American Ballet for their year round program when we were 17. And we’ve been pretty much together ever since then. We’ve been together now for 12 years and married for 2 ½ years.”

    Seth Orza and Sarah Ricard Orza shown here at SAB Summer Course, 1995 (Age 14). Seth & Sarah met at age 13.
    Seth Orza and Sarah Ricard Orza shown here at SAB Summer Course, 1995 (Age 14). Seth & Sarah met at age 13.

    Class Act: “Congratulations, that’s wonderful! So what’s the best thing about being married to a fellow dancer?”
    Sarah: “Well, I think that the dance world is just so small and intimate; sometimes it’s hard to explain or even relate to people who aren’t in the world on a daily basis—what’s going on, or what the daily ups and downs are like. So, if I’m having a bad day, Seth already knows why and that’s good.”
    Seth: “We try to help each other out along the way through the pressures of ballet, performing, and all that.”
    Sarah: “Oh, and travelling. If we tour, it’s great. It’s really nice to have your loved one with you when you’re going to all those places.”

    Class Act: “How do you two plan to make this Valentine’s Day special?”
    Seth: “Well…” he says with a sly tone, “it’s kind of a surprise.”
    Class Act:(Laughing) “Oops! I don’t want to ruin anything!”
    Seth: “We try to do something special every Valentines day, but it’s hard after twelve years to do something different every time.”
    Sarah: “There was one year when I had the genius idea of getting chocolate covered strawberries from Godiva. So I got a dozen chocolate strawberries only to find that in the fridge at home, Seth had also gotten a dozen Godiva strawberries!” she laughs.
    Seth: “We had a lot of chocolate strawberries!” he chuckles.
    Class Act:“Great minds think alike! So, do you have any last words of advice for fellow dancers out there?”
    Seth: “It’s nice being in a relationship with a co-worker—or a dancer—and it does work out.”
    Sarah: “It’s definitely a balance, though. I mean, we’re together at work all the time and then at home all the time. So sometimes there’s days when one of us has to step back and take some space—be it at work or at home. You just find that balance with spending all of your time together.”

    Seth Orza and Sarah Ricard Orza on their Wedding Day

    Seth

    Class Act: “Do you ever have a day when you really don’t want to be with the other person but you still have to work with them?”
    Seth/Sarah: “Oh no, never!” they laugh in unison.
    Seth: “Of course, but I think that happens in any relationship.”
    Sarah: “We have partnered together a lot, and that has challenges…”
    Seth: “Yeah, working together professionally…I mean, if she’s just around it’s one thing, but if we’re working together, it’s kind of hard sometimes.”
    Class Act:“Well thank you both so very much! I really appreciate you taking the time to do this and I hope you have a wonderful Valentine’s Day!”
    Sarah: “Thank you! You have a happy Valentines Day, too!”

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

    This post first appeared for Valentine's Day, 2010.

  • Behind the Scenes: YAGP Competition with Carolyn Lovett

    Saucer Tutus at YAGP Finals

    Class

    Whether you've participated in the competition aspect of dance or not, chances are you've at least heard of the Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP). The YAGP is the world's largest scholarship competition open to students 9-19 years of age.

    We know how daunting the thought of competing can be, so we decided to provide you with some tips by going behind the scenes with Ms. Carolyn Lovett, teacher, choreographer and artistic director of the Lovett Dance Center in Tustin, California.  Carolyn's students have participated in YAGP since 2004 and routinely receive some of the highest marks at the competition...

    When did you and your school first get started with YAGP and why?

    I've been involved with YAGP since 2004. For the longest time I was afraid to do Grand Prix. I always knew it was out there but it seemed to be at such a high level that I dared not enter. As a Ballet teacher who has been working for studios that compete in the regular/jazz competition scene I have been very successful but I found it to be a bit of a dead end at least for Ballet students. If I was going to grow creatively and if my students were going to have more opportunities I needed to make a change. Finally I decided to take the plunge and what a plunge it’s been. I started by entering just a few soloists and groups to learn what Grand Prix expected and desired of the dancers. It has taken some time, but I feel that we fit in very nicely now and we are receiving the opportunities that come along with it.

    What sort of awards or honors have your children and students received at these events?

    Oh my….we started receiving awards our 3rd year in.

    We have had several top 12 Pre-Competitive placements. My daughter has won twice and placed top 12 in New York City. We have several top 12 placements in the Junior Division including top 3 placements and the “YAGP Award” this year. We have many Ensemble placements including Pas de Duex’s and personally I have received the “Outstanding Teacher” award once, “Outstanding Choreographer” 3 times and this year we received the “Outstanding Studio” award. We have also been fortunate to perform with YAGP in the Spoleto Festival in Italy with an ensemble piece I choreographed on my children and another student. My students have also been awarded scholarships through YAGP. Ultimately that is what Grand Prix is about, exposing students to professionals from around the world that can offer them a road to eventual success.

    My students have received scholarships to ABT, Bolshoi, Kirov, The Rock and Australian Ballet.

    What sort of planning does an endeavor like this entail? (I'd imagine it's quite a bit!)

    What it takes is time! Time for us to figure out what solos work best on each student, time to choreograph contemporary pieces for each student, time to improve technique, time to work on the chosen solos, and time competing those solos before we get to Grand Prix. I really get started as soon as the first YAGP Regional is over. We always learn from the judge’s critics so we start on those immediately to improve the solos for New York Finals and or the next year. Grand Prix is inspiring so we all start thinking about what to next before we are even done with the current year.

    How do you go about selecting your choreography and costumes? Why did you choose Class Act Tutu? (Hee hee...I had to throw that in there.)

    Lovett Dance Center

    Lovett


    When it comes to choreography, I am at the mercy of my own feelings. If I am going through rough times then my work tends to be a bit moodier and dark, but when I’m feeling more positive my work is lighter and more beautiful. I’m in a positive mood this year. As for costumes, we put what we can together without a costume designer to keep costs down but I do have someone make those costumes I just can’t find through a catalog. We do have to special order our tutus well ahead of time because they take so long to make. I ordered saucer tutus from Class Act Tutu this year because they were the only company out there that makes them! I had a special piece that required the saucer and Class Act makes a BEAUTIFUL one! Very nice quality and a fun selection of colors that fit my piece perfectly. By the way, that particular piece placed 1st at YAGP regional and will be competing in the New York Finals!

    Woohoo! That's awesome! So how do the parents feel about their student's experiences with YAGP?

    I think the YAGP brings out many feelings. It can be very exciting and rewarding, but can also be disappointing for those with high expectations but lack the preparation or physical attributes required for such an endeavor. When competing in Grand Prix, it is important to remember the level of talent is exceptionally high, and in New York it's mind blowing! Grand Prix is truly International is scope so my students have been able to meet kids from all over the world. Performing along-side kids from Brazil, China, Japan, Australia and numerous others countries is enriching to say the least. Even those students who do not compete as soloists find the experience exciting and enriching. The Gala alone is worth going for and the camaraderie it brings between the parents and students can last a lifetime.

    How has your involvement with YAGP (or competitions in general) enhanced your student's training?

    It has upped the game you might say. Grand Prix has pushed me to become a better teacher, therefore my students technical level has steadily increased over time. It is also encouraging me to choreograph work that I might not otherwise create. This gives my students a greater depth of movement to master.

    Lovett Dance Center

    Lovett

    What advice would you give to a school or student looking to compete in their first YAGP competition?

    Be prepared! Mentally and physically prepare and be willing to learn along the way.

    Thank you so much, Carolyn and congratulations to all of your terrific dancers!

    *STOP THE PRESSES!* We've just received the following announcement from Carolyn:

    "Things went great in New York! My son and daughter, Devyn and Tiana, both made it to final rounds. Tiana placed in the top 12 junior women. Both received scholarships to Princess Grace Academy in Monaco and Devyn also received a scholarship to Washington Ballet. My boys trio "Insight" (Devyn Lovett, Sam Zaldivar and Patrick Frenette) placed 2nd in ensembles and also got to perform in the Gala! This is a piece I choreographed for Dmitri Kulev Classical Ballet Academy. So...it was a good week!" We'd have to agree! Congratulations to you ALL!! :)

    _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    *All photos appear courtesy of Carolyn Lovett/Lovett Dance Center*



  • Pacific Northwest Ballet's All Premiere Offers Something for Everyone

    (l-r) Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Kaori Nakamura and corps de ballet dancers Sarah Pasch and Leah O’Connor in Andrew Bartee’s arms that work, presented as part of ALL PREMIERE, November 2 – 11, 2012. Photo © Angela Sterling.

    (l-r)

    Pacific Northwest Ballet continues its milestone 40th anniversary season with the current quadruple rep, “All Premiere”. This power-packed display showcases the choreographic genius of PNB dancers Andrew Bartee, Margaret Mullin and Kiyon Gaines, as well as a world premiere by “Seattle native makes good”, Mark Morris.

    Andrew Bartee’s “arms that work” opened the show and featured a massive wavy fence constructed of long vertical elastic bands. These bands allowed the dancers to move through, behind, and sometimes artfully twisted and tangled within the structure itself. Local composer, Barret Anspach created the musical narration behind this piece. (Does that name ring a bell? It should! His sister, Jessika is one of PNB’s lovely corps members. ;) ) Anspach’s music suited Bartee’s modern mix of bouncy, halting and sometimes jerky choreography perfectly. The tone behind Bartee’s piece felt a bit reminiscent of the endless internal struggle between what we want versus what we can’t have. While I can’t say for sure that’s what Bartee was going for (I refuse to read anything about a new piece ahead of time so I don’t watch with pre-conceived ideas), but that’s the direction my thoughts traveled.

    Margaret Mullin’s “Lost in Light” followed Bartee’s piece, which exuded far more joy and loveliness. The piece featured four couples sweeping gracefully across the stage filled with minimal light streaming down as if from heaven itself. While Mullin’s neoclassical style distinctly showcased each of these couple’s stunning technical attributes to a “T”, the real standout this time was corps member, Brittany Reid. For the first time ever, I was able to catch a glimpse of this young woman’s passionate, lyrical quality and was left in near jaw-dropping awe. Seriously, folks - she was amazing and she’s definitely secured her place as one of this year’s dancers to watch.

    Mark Morris’ “Kammermusik No. 3” had no clear “story” or human element behind it, but instead focused largely on witty, angular movements sewn together with a silver thread of fun. The set featured gorgeous magenta backdrop made even more striking with a black curtain that was lowered – then raised – during the various interludes. At one point the music was silent and all you could hear was the sound of the dancer’s feet whisking across the stage. The piece ends on a particularly playful note with one male dancer tossing another off stage. Whoosh!

    The final piece of the night (and the one that literally brought everyone to their feet in standing ovation), was Kiyon Gaines’ “Sum Stravinsky”. Let me begin by saying, “Ho…leeee….COWWWW!” With one fell swoop (and maybe a few pirouettes), Gaines masterfully secured his place in the choreographic annals of fame!

    Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Carrie Imler in Kiyon Gaines’s Sum Stravinsky, presented as part of ALL PREMIERE, November 2 – 11, 2012. Photo © Angela Sterling.

    Pacific

    Gaines’ artistic eye was masterfully brought to life through the use of gorgeous partnering and impressive costumes. The supremely talented partnerships featuring Carrie Imler and Jonathan Poretta, and Maria Chapman and Karel Cruz brought a mile-wide grin to everyone’s faces. These dancers literally stole the show and left me (and I believe I speak for everyone else at McCaw Hall that night) with a desire for more. Typical ballet costumes (read: tutus and pointe shoes) in shades of powder blue and teal sparkled with new life, thanks to the talented Pauline Smith. (Chapman’s one shoulder tank style bodice was nothing short of gorgeous!) In short, Sum Stravinsky made my heart sing. It was completely, and unequivocally, awesome.

    From modern to classical, Pacific Northwest Ballet’s All Premiere offers something for every Seattle dance fan. Pacific Northwest Ballet’s “All Premiere” runs through November 10th. Tickets available at PNB.org.

  • Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Cinderella Captivates Audiences Again

    Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Kaori Nakamura as Cinderella in Kent Stowell’s Cinderella, which kicks off PNB’s 40th Anniversary season September 21 – 30, 2012.  Photo © Lindsay Thomas.

    Pacific

    Pacific Northwest Ballet kicked off its big 40th anniversary season with Kent Stowell’s Cinderella. This beloved crowd pleaser was performed two years ago, but is just as fresh, exciting and enjoyable ever. Saturday evening’s performance was a beautiful reminder of just how wonderful a classic fairytale story can be.

    The evening’s performance featured Kaori Nakamura as the young and severely mistreated Cinderella. While Nakamura’s dancing was technically flawless and every bit as charming as you’d expect, what really stood out for me was her ability to “tell a story”. Her dancing drew me deep into her character’s world and (no joke) left me with tears in my eyes more than once, such as when she received her gifts (shimmering “glass” slippers, anyone?) from her Fairy Godmother and finally said “I do” to her handsome prince. Bravo!

    And speaking of the prince, Jonathan Poretta did an outstanding job as His Royal Highness. While Poretta famously brings the more "humorous" character roles to life, I’ve got to say - he knows when to turn on the charm and can embody the role of "Handsome Prince" like no other! Poretta - like Nakamura - is a masterful storyteller, able to convey a variety of emotions (and quite possibly leap tall buildings) in a single bound.

    Pacific Northwest Ballet corps de ballet dancer Jessika Anspach and guest artist Marisa Albee as Cinderella’s stepsisters in Kent Stowell’s Cinderella, which kicks off PNB’s 40th Anniversary season September 21 – 30, 2012.  Photo © Lindsay Thomas.

    Pacific

    Jessika Anspach and Marisa Albee lit up the stage as the mean, selfish and awkward Stepsisters. Albee, a former PNB soloist turned faculty member, was one of the original Stepsisters when the production premiered in 1994, which made watching her performance a deliciously rare treat! Albee and Anspach pulled out all the stops and left the audience in stitches with their zany antics. Everything from clumsy dancing to bold attempts at grabbing the Prince’s attention was met with plenty of giggles and applause.

    The Jester (who doubles as the Prince's right hand man) was performed by Kyle Davis, who – up until that moment – really hadn’t been on my radar much. (Ahem) However all that changed the moment Davis entered the scene. He immediately captured – and held – my interest. Everything Davis did felt natural, not forced or like he was “trying too hard” to get a laugh. He simply WAS the Jester. Quite honestly, I thought he must have taken a few lessons in Characterization 101 from Mr. Poretta himself, because his performance felt distinctly “Jonathan-ish”. His performance drew so many laughs, so many gasps of delight, it was incredible. (High five!)

    And what PNB production would be complete without a charming cast of young dancers? Darling Memory Children, enchanted Bugs, stern Pumpkins, impish Sprites and lovely Fairy Attendants danced, twirled and jumped their way across the big stage, leaving their own indelible mark of sweetness on this already luscious season opener.

    Andrew Bartee was another young man who stood out with his portrayal of the Dancing Master. No joke – Bartee is the man to watch! He was spirited, enchanting and so freaking funny my stomach hurt from laughing so much. He was great! I can’t wait to see more of him throughout the season.

    If you haven't purchased your tickets to this lavish production - umm, what are you waiting for? Consider this your official Royal Invitation to the Ball!

    Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Cinderella runs through September 30th. Get your tickets by calling 206-441- 2424 or by visiting PNB.org.

    Denise Opper - Media for Class Act Tutu

  • Quick Tips: Threading Your Needles

    Threading a Needle

    As we approach the Nutcracker Season, those of us that have ANYTHING to do with costumes, think about any way we can save time.  Whether you are hand stitching, embellishing, or tacking a tutu, you need to thread a needle.  Here are some ideas to make that task both faster and easier.

    Thread Multiple Needles

    Approach  your hand stitching "assembly line" manner by grouping threading your needles.  This way you do not have to stop to re-thread.

    Put White Behind the Needle

    White behind the needle make the eye much more visible.  Keep a small piece of white paper or index card handy to place behind the eye of the needle.

    Cut Your Thread with Sharp Scissors at an Angle

    A clean cut thread cut at an angle is easier to get through the eye of a needle.

    Stiffen the Thread

    Use bees wax to stiffen your thread.  It will be so much easier to control.

    Use a Tweezer

    Those long, bent handle tweezers that are used for serger threading can work great to hold the thread while threading any needle.

    We would LOVE to hear from you if you have any tips to share.  Just contact us!

    Finally, here are some past posts you may enjoy:

    Tacking Your Tutu - Parts 1 through 4

    At Class Act Tutu we specialize in getting you professional quality tutus in many colors and styles.

    We love providing made-to-order tutus that you can embellish.  Check out our "How to Order Your Tutus" page for some step by step instructions on getting just the ballet costumes that you want.

    Don't forget to take advantage of our Nutcracker Ballet Early Order and Volume Discounts.

  • Tutus for a Princess

    At Class Act Tutu, we have had a run of requests for tutus inspired by Disney characters.  From "Belle" (Beauty and the Beast) to The "Queen of Hearts" (Alice in Wonderland), we have come up with some simple and cost saving solutions for the perfect tutu for your Princess!  Here are just some of our ideas...

    Disney Princesses

    Tutus

    Use Colors

    Start with a basic bodice and add color blocking.  For our Queen of Hearts, we used a Black Sweetheart style Tutu Bodice with Red Center Front Panels and Red Cording.

    Queen of Hearts Tutu
    Queen of Hearts Tutu

    Add Some Options

    Add Arm Puffs and "Petals" (like our "Queen of Hearts" tutu above) or Sleeves (Yellow for our "Snow White" tutu below).

    We added a Lace-up Front and a Bow to our Scoop Neck Tutu Bodice , some lace trimming and an Apron to finish off that "Snow White" look.

    Snow White Tutu

    Snow

    Play with Color Layers in your Tutu Skirt

    All of these designs feature our Romantic Style Tutu Skirt.  You can get a "petticoat" look by using several layers of color (yellow for Snow White, blue for "Alice") on top of 2 layers of white.

    It's amazing what you can do a lot with a few options and some color, don't you agree?

    If you would like some design assistance for this or any of our other tutus, please do not hesitate to CONTACT US.

  • PNB's 'Coppelia' is Perfect for Kids and Kids at Heart

    Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Lesley Rausch as Swanilda with company dancers in PNB’s production of Coppélia, choreographed by Alexandra Danilova and George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust (after Marius Petipa). Photo © Angela Sterling

    Pacific

    Saturday evening’s performance of Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Coppelia reminded me just how much fun a story ballet can be.

    Lesley Rausch and Jerome Tisserand did an outstanding (stellar, phenomenal, glowing, superb) job in the roles of Swanilda and Franz. They went from a teasing, head-game playing pair of young lovers to a mature, “ready to tie the knot” couple in all of about 2 hours.

    Their comedic timing was impeccable, whether they were flirtatiously bantering back ‘n forth or trying to get away from the bumbling “mad scientist”, Dr. Coppelius, they brought the whole scene to life. I especially enjoyed the fact that their partnership didn’t feel forced, but rather effortless and natural, making this fairy tale all the more pleasant to watch.

    And speaking of Dr. Coppelius, I found William Yin Lee’s interpretation to be smooth, playful and satisfying. I loved the way he dragged Franz around by the ear while simultaneously giving him a few swift kicks to the behind, and how he tried (in vain) to put a lid on the mischievous antics of Swanilda-dressed-as-Coppelia.

    Act III’s Waltz of the Golden Hours featured Leta Biasucci, the petite powerhouse who never ceases to amaze with her delicate phrasing and innate ability to charm your socks off. Carrie Imler gave a beautiful performance as the glittering “Dawn”; Laura Gilbreath danced as “Prayer”, a role which suits her strong lyrical qualities perfectly, while Maria Chapman drew a hearty round of applause as the “Spinner”.

    Surrounding these enchanting soloists were 24 equally enchanting “baby ballerinas” dressed in lovely pink and gold tutus. As these young dancers entered the stage amongst a chorus of delighted “Ooo’s and ahh’s”, their smiles radiated what can only be described as immeasurable joy. I wouldn’t be surprised if their performance sparked the desire to dance in nearly every young audience member’s heart there.

    Pacific Northwest Ballet soloist Jerome Tisserand as Franz, and principal dancer Lesley Rausch as Swanilda in PNB’s production of Coppélia, choreographed by Alexandra Danilova and George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust (after Marius Petipa).  Photo © ANGELA STERLING

    Pacific

    Discord and War featured the whirling, arrow-wielding talents of Lindsi Dec and Kiyon Gaines, a most impressive duo if I’ve ever seen one. Their strong characters and powerful bodies gorgeously yield themselves to whatever role they’re playing, whether it’s a dashing prince or gentle princess or even a Gladiator-esque warrior.

    Charming sets featuring Swanilda’s adorable “teapot-shaped” house and a series of towering milk-white columns adorned with swirls of pink flowers rival the most beloved storybook illustrations. And those costumes…! Oh my! Each one was more impressive than the next, a seemingly endless stream of sparkling flowers, shiny tiaras and wispy tulle.

    With its tummy tickling humor, beautiful sets, spectacular costumes, and of course - all those gorgeous dancers - make Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Coppelia the perfect treat!

    Visit PNB.org today for tickets.

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