Spring Break!

Hello Spartan dancers! This is just a reminder that there is no class next Friday, 10 March 2017, due to the MSU Spring Break. We’ll resume class at 1:00 PM in IM East on Friday, 17 March 2017.

I wish you all a relaxing and safe spring break – see you on the other side!

~Kitty 🙂

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Hello, 2017!

Happy New Year, Spartan dancers! I hope that you all had an enjoyable and relaxing winter break, and are ready to point those toes in ballet this semester.

Two changes to the spring schedule:

  • Ballet Basics starts back up TODAY! The class will be offered on Fridays in IM East, but we now have a new time. A number of students let me know that they had classes until 12:40 PM, so I was able to push back our class’ start time to 1:00 PM. I hope that this new time helps to better accommodate everyone’s class schedules.
  • Unfortunately, my schedule shifted this semester and I will be unable to offer the Intermediate Ballet class this spring. My apologies for this disappointment – I’m hoping that I will be able to add it back to the schedule next fall.

I look forward to seeing everyone at the IM East studio today at 1:00 PM for Ballet Basics! If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to shoot me an email. In the meantime, stay warm, stay hydrated, and enjoy the first week of classes! 🙂

~Kitty

Technique Spotlight: Chassé

Chassé means “to chase” in French. The chassé is a typical traveling movement in which the lead foot is chased by the supporting foot. Chassé can be performed going forward, on a diagonal, or à la seconde (to the side). In this video, chassés from first to second position moving side-to-side are demonstrated, along with a chassé forward from 3rd to 4th position.

Chassés are a very simple and fun step to do, which is why they are typical taught in the first year of ballet classes (in the RAD syllabus, the French term “chassé” is replaced with the English term “gallops”). Chassés are used to quickly cross the stage, as well as performed as an intermediate step between other choreographic elements, including turns, jumps and arabesques. Chassés are always performed in the quick allegro rhythm.

We have been performing chassés in both Ballet Basics and the Intermediate class this semester, and balancing it with tendu par terre en croix (extensions of the leg keeping our pointed toes on the floor), sauté changement (upward jumps with changing feet) in 3rd positions in Basics, arabesques, and some quick footwork sur le cou de pieds (with one foot pointed at the ankle) in the Intermediate class. This versatile step is a great way to work the legs and travel the floor – and it’s just plain fun, too!

Though chasses always reminding me of something… 😉

Coconuts.jpg

 

Ballet, Weight(s), and Strength

So new research has come out showing the importance of continued (but not strenuous) strength training. Maintaining muscle is important for everyone as a way to stay healthy and fight excess weight gain, but it appears to be especially important for women, who generally live longer than men but are more prone to conditions that weaken the body, such as osteoporosis. NPR recently reported on how weight training can help women live stronger and better for longer. Strength conditioning is a common element of many different sports and fitness routines, and ballet is no exception!

Though ballet dancers may not hit the gym to work with barbells every day, the exercises that we practice in class help to maintain muscle condition and improve strength. In many ways, we use our own bodies as weights, especially to help strengthen hips, legs and feet. After all, that “toe lift” noted in the NPR article? It’s a rélévé! An important building block for turns and traveling steps, as well as a great way to condition and tone muscles from the toes on up.

Other commons balletic elements can help to improve strength: port de bras, especially in adage combinations and practiced slowly at the barre, builds muscles in the arms, shoulders, and upper body. Proper comportment (the carriage of the body) improves core muscles, especially abdominal muscles. Tendu and fondu condition the legs, and all those pliés? Great for hips, thighs, and the lower abdominals.

Many dancers (from beginners to the pros) will do additional strength training to help build and sustain muscle through the body, including workouts with light free weights, Pilates (which is great for both strength, coordination and flexibility) and additional forms of exercise, like swimming or jogging. The MSU Group Exercise and Recreational Fitness programs offer many different classes that complement ballet very well, so for those wishing to move a bit more, I highly recommend checking out the class options on campus. I find that working with small free weights at home for about 15-20 minutes each day helps improve my personal fitness and makes it easier to transition to more challenging exercises at the barre or en centre (especially when performing adage). That may seem like a short amount of time, but it builds up to better fitness in the long run. As Joan Crockford of the American Council on Exercise notes in the NPR article, “for general muscular fitness, one to two sets of 12-15 reps with a weight that feels challenging at the end is a good rule of thumb.”

An important thing to remember when conditioning (or really doing any exercise) is not to overdo it. This is one of the reasons we spend a lot of class at the barre: it allows the dancer to fully warm the muscles up while being supported. The barre is also an important tool to use while building strength incrementally through the application of proper technique. Slow and steady wins this race: practiced conditioning, done on a regular schedule and at a comfortable pace, will lead to a stronger body (and lessen the possibility of injury).

Bottom line: train often, train comfortably, and keep those muscles strong for as long as possible! 🙂

Autumn happy dance!

Autumn is my favourite time of the year – there’s something so uplifting about the chill in the air and the changing colours, especially in the many beautiful trees on campus. Just had to share this post from the American Ballet Theatre:

“What better way to celebrate the first day of fall than with Principal Dancer Marcelo Gomes alongside former Principal Dancer Julie Kent in Antony Tudor’s “The Leaves Are Fading.”

leaves-are-fading

Just beautiful! See you in Basics at 12:30 PM. 🙂

~ Kitty

Beautiful Tuesday!

Autumn decided to arrive over the weekend, and I for one am grateful for the cooler weather and soft breezes of September! When I was working out my lessons last night, a friend of mine shared this image with me – what a perfect way to describe why we dance!

move-with-love

Intermediate Ballet begins tomorrow at 5:30 PM in IM Circle. Enjoy this lovely Tuesday – see you in class tomorrow! 🙂

Welcome back, Spartans!

I hope that everyone had a great summer, and are ready to hit the books – and the studio floor!

I’m very pleased to announce that we will have two sessions of ballet available this semester as part of the MSU Group Exercise Program:

Ballet Basics will resume its regular Friday lunch hour spot at IM East. Class begins at 12:30 PM and closes at 1:15 PM. Participants will learn the fundamental forms of ballet including an introduction to the core positions for the feet and arms, the basic movements of the body core, basic jumps, turns and cross-stage movements. The class is designed for participants who have no former dance training or experience. The focus is to dance for fitness and health: to use the fundamentals of ballet to improve posture, muscle tone, balance, coordination, flexibility, and body awareness. Participants will work both on the floor and at the barre, and receive an introduction to choreography. Classes will be tailored to the abilities, goals and desires of the students.

Back by popular demand, Intermediate Ballet will be offered every Wednesday evening from 5:30 PM to 6:30 PM at IM Circle! This level will focus on more intensive techniques, patterns and longer pieces of choreography.  This class will also include a more intensive workout, with a greater emphasis on multi-technique combinations.  Some experience is preferred but not required and as always, classes will be tailored to the abilities, goals, and desires of the students.  No tutus are required, but leather-footed ballet slippers are highly recommended.

Ballet Basics will begin on Friday, 9 September 2016, and Intermediate Ballet will have its first class the week after, on Wednesday, 14 September 2016. As always, the Group Ex participant rates apply. Please check out their website, or stop by the membership office at IM East or IM Circle to purchase a class pass/membership.

Everyone is invited to attend – whether you’re an old pro trying to stay limber, or a first-time dancer just learning to point your toes. Not sure about ballet? I also welcome new participants to do a class observation for free. Please just let the door monitor know that you would like to watch the class (but are not planning to dance).

And just in time for a new school year – Bottom’s Up in Okemos is having a back-to-school sale! For those who would like to purchase slippers, I highly suggest dropping in at Bottom’s Up to be measured and fitted for your shoes. Proper fit is extremely important, even for canvas slippers – too small, and your toes will be pinched; too big, and they’re like to flop around as you move. And if you need help sewing your bands, please just let me know!

BottomsUp

I look forward to seeing everyone back in the studio this fall! Spartans WILL… DANCE!

All the best,

Kitty

 

Schedule Update: No Ballet in August

Hello everyone,

We’ve had very few students in Ballet Basics this July, so there will be no classes this August. Both Ballet Basics and Intermediate Ballet will resume in September with the start of fall semester. I will post the schedule(s) once they have been finalized.

In the meantime, enjoy the summer, keep stretching those hammies and arches, and I’ll see you back at the barre in the fall! 🙂

~Kitty

Free Movement Workshops in Lansing!

 

Hello Spartan dancers! For those of you who are in the Lansing area this summer and looking to explore different studios and dance opportunities, I invite you to check out the free Wednesday workshops for adults at the Happendance Exchange next month!

Address: 1607 East Kalamazoo in Lansing (48912)

Phone Number: 517-333-3528

Sessions: Each session is hosted on a Wednesday evening from 6:00pm – 7:00pm.

  • 3 August: Adult Dance
  • 10 August: Pilates
  • 17 August: Creative Self-Care
  • 24 August: Creative Self-Care for Limited Movers
  • 31 August: Embodied Learning Strategies for Teachers

Cost: completely free!

You can learn more about these sessions and other workshops at www.happendance.org, or check them out on Facebook. Enjoy!