Thursday, June 28, 2007

Are You Coming to My Town?

You can always view our calendar to see our latest classes as they are added. But in case you want to know if we're going to be near you, here is a geographical listing of our confirmed classes. (Classes are still being added for August) Some of these classes are open to outside students, but we do not know which ones. Please contact the studio to see if you can participate.

Illinois

Crystal Lake: Judith Svalander School of Ballet, August 28-31

Hanover Park: Faubourg School of Ballet July 8, 1PM

Indiana

Garrett: Patricia Krus School of Dance
July 5: Book signing 1-3, class 3-6
July 6: class 1-4

Gary: Dance Excel July 10, 6PM

Monticello: Dance Magic July 7, 10 AM

Muncie: Muncie Ballet Studio
Book signing 3PM
Class 4PM

Valaparaiso: Mirror Image Dance Academy July 10, 1PM


Michigan

Clinton Township: Mary Skiba School of Dance July 23, 5 PM (3 classes)

Dexter: Dexter’s Dancer’s Edge, July 25, 1 PM

Fowlerville: Maria’s School of Dance, July 24 and 26, 6:30 PM

Monroe: River Raisin Center for the Arts, July 27 2PM

Northville: Dance Center Stage July 22, 11 AM (2 classes)

Spring Arbor: Academy of Arts July 12, 4PM and July 13, 4 PM

Traverse City: Ballet Etc. July 12, 10 AM

New York


Rochester: Hochstein School of Music and Dance July 31 5PM

North Carolina

Greensboro: Artistic Motions School of Dance August 13 4 PM (2 classes)


Ohio

Brunswick: Mary Kay Manning School of Dance July 18-20

Wauseon: Stars Unlimited July 21, 5:30 (private instruction at 4PM)

Virginia

Leesburg: Loudoun School of Ballet, August 8, 10 AM

Salem: Post School of Ballet August 16, 4PM

West Virginia

Beckley: Jerry Rose School, August 17-19

Charleston: River City Youth Ballet, August 20-24

Wisconsin

Elkhorn: Toe to Toe Ballet Studio July 9, 10 AM


Merry Christmas!


We got a lot of compliments on the beautiful holiday cards we sent out last December. Since we've been on Myspace, we've had the opportunity to make a friend of the artist behind these cards. We have no commercial or personal interest in these products whatsoever, but a number of people asked about them, and we always like to support fellow artists. The Studio Miyabi Ballet Gift Shop has all kinds of original ballet paintings by Mutsumi "Mitzi" Sato-Wiuff, a dance teacher and artist. You can get them on cards, t-shirts and other merchandise. There is also the popular "Real Men Do Ballet" T-shirt.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

90,000 Miles of Roads

I recently read that Indiana has about 90,000 miles of roads. The factoid caught my attention because I am now in the process of printing out maps for our travel. Over the fourth of July weekend (July 4-8) we're going to cover more than 792 miles, mostly in Indiana. That only takes us up to 1PM on Sunday.



Still, we have nothing on the great ballerina Anna Pavlova. In the history of ballet, it is possible that no one toured more than her. During her career it is estimated that she toured about 500,000 miles. During one tour in 1925 of the U.S., she and her company played in 77 towns over 26 weeks, giving more than 238 performances.

That said, we are going to be traveling quite a bit. If you have any suggestions for music to load onto the MP3 player feel free to post them in the comments section.


Reminders

When I add these long articles the previous articles move down and risk being lost. So I just wanted to remind you about Valery's audio podcast.


This Week in Dance History

June 30 2006: Arthur Lewis, the Brooklyn-born producer who found his greatest success on the London stage, died. He put together the West End productions of the Cy Feuer and Ernie Martin hits Guys and Dolls and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. and was associate producer of the team's Broadway hit Silk Stockings. He was also instrumental in bringing The Boyfriend, as well as the show's star, a young Julie Andrews, to the attention of his associates. During the 1960's, Lewis made a career out of producing New York hits on the London stage. Among his credits during this time were Little Me, Funny Girl, Golden Boy, A Thousand Clowns, Barefoot in the Park, The Solid Gold Cadillac, The Odd Couple and The Owl and the Pussycat.

July 1, 1941:American choreographer and dancer Twyla Tharp was born. Tharp has created more than one hundred twenty five dances, choreographed for five Hollywood movies, directed and choreographed two Broadway shows, written two books and received one Tony Award, two Emmy Awards.

July 2 1937: The Rockettes from
New York's Radio City Music Hall represented the United States in a dance festival at the Paris Exposition. They were awarded the Grand Prix de la Republique.


And on this date in 1974, Mikhail Baryshnikov disappeared from a reception for Bolshoi and Kirov dancers in
Toronto, Canada and defected to the west. Below you can see a clip of Baryshnikov in Giselle, courtesy of Youtube.

July 3, 1959: Moves, a ballet without music choreographed by Jerome Robbins made its debut at the Festival of Two Worlds. You can read more about Jerome Robbins on the website Andros on Ballet.

July 4, 2001: A total of 13,588 people danced to the song "YMCA" for five minutes prior to the baseball game between the Spikes and the Salt Lake Stingers at Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium, Omaha, Nebraska, earning a place in the Guinness Book of World's Records. Two years later , the BBC Reports, organizers of Deal's Regatta attempted to break the record by a mass 23, 805 person "YMCA" dance, but the Guinness people rejected it for their next edition because they didn't provide any evidence that all those people "were in step with each other."

July 5, 1942: American dancer, choreographer, and director Eliot Feld was born. Feld has choreographed 133 ballets since 1967 including works for ABT, the Joffrey Ballet, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Pacific Northwest Balle New York City Ballet, The Royal Winnipeg Ballet and many more. An interview with Feld can be found on danceart.com.

July 6 1942: The students of the Perm Ballet School performed their first recital. It featured such future stars of the Russian ballet as Ninelle Kurgapkina, Irina Kolpakova, Yuri Grigorovitch, Nikolai Boyartchikov.

July 7 1891: Russian composer P. I. Tchaikovsky completes the first draft of The Nutcracker.

Quote of the Day

"Like Salad Shooters, mail-order catalogs and the flu, The Nutcracker has become a holiday fixture, the unappreciated fruitcake of the ballet world."- Sarah Kaufman, dance reviewer, Washington Post.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

New Class in Leesburg, VA

We're pleased to announce a new class at the Loudoun School of Ballet in Leesburg, Virginia. We will be there at 10 AM on August 8. Leesburg is a beautiful colonial town in Northern Virginia near Washington D.C. I (Laura Lee) lived there for a time when I was a radio announcer, and I'm looking forward to introducing the area to Valery Lantratov.

Incidentally, as we wait for Valery's arrival in the U.S.-- as if I didn't have real work to to-- I have been playing around updating Valery's myspace page and adding some content. There's a new slide show there. Let us know how you like it.


Who is that woman sitting in the back?


I'm Laura Lee, Valery Lantratov's U.S. representative. I set up the classes, make travel arrangements and so on. During class I'm that woman pushing buttons on the CD machine. I'm also the writer of this blog and the author of A Child's Introduction to Ballet. My writing career is generally off the topic of this blog unless it's about our ballet book. So I don't plan to include any of that kind of news here. If you do have an interest in reading about my books you can do so at speechwriting.com/lauralee. (Although the page hasn't been updated in a while) I also very occasionally post news in a mini-blog on my new Myspace page myspace.com/author_lauralee.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

What is The Russian National Ballet Foundation?

I say it several times a day, "I represent Valery Lantratov, the artistic director of the Russian National Ballet Foundation."

I don't often explain what that means. Sometimes I describe it as a touring company, but this is not entirely accurate. Valery is both the general director and artistic director of a Moscow-based cultural foundation.

The Russian National Ballet Foundation* (Rossiyski Nationalni Ballet Fond) was founded in 1993 in Moscow as a charitable organization with the purpose of promoting the traditional art of the Russian classical ballet and providing aesthetic education. Its creation was supported by such prominent Russian organizations as the Moscow Actors' Charitable Foundation under the guidance of Galina Ulanova and the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Musical Theater. (Sometimes called the Moscow Stanislavsky Ballet in the U.S., it's dance division is Second-largest, second-oldest of Moscow's ballet companies, and it is the company with which Valery Lantratov was a principal dancer for most of his career.)

In Russia, the foundation works with Moscow theaters to assist with the creation of productions. Right now they are working with the Natalia Sats Children's Theater in Moscow.

The foundation's touring company draws from Russia's finest theaters including the Bolshoi, Marinsky, Kremlin Ballet and the K.S. Stanislavski and V.L. I. Nemirovich-Danchenko (Moscow Stanislavski).

As it says in their Russian promotional materials, "its performances are distinguished by their adherence to the great Russian ballet tradition with its unparalleled technical beauty and artistry and the dramatic use of scenic shapes.

Put more plainly, The Russian National Ballet Foundation is a Moscow, Russia-based charity (the equivalent of a non-profit organization) whose primary purpose is to introduce people throughout the world to the best of Russian culture through classical ballet performances and educational projects like our upcoming U.S. teaching tour.

I should note that although Lantratov's organization is a Russian charitable organization, Double V Promotions, which promotes Mr. Lantratov's projects here in America is not a non-profit. We've often produced our ballet projects without a profit, but it was not intentional! Although we are not organized as a non-profit, we are motivated by the same spirit. Our mission is to bring the finest arts and entertainment from throughout the world to American audiences and students while increasing opportunities for performers from other nations. (After our summer tour, we will inaugurate a feature introducing you to some Russian dancers affiliated with Lantratov's foundation)

We're often asked why Valery Lantratov is giving classes if it is not to promote a local performance. Now you know.

Teaching is one of the ways the organization accomplishes its greater mission. It also serves as the foundation for future performance tours. We are meeting great people across the country, and hopefully getting them more excited about dance in general and Russian classical ballet in particular.

Another question we sometimes get is "why are you coming to my small town?" It is sometimes asked with a hint of suspicion that anyone who would come to such a place as the speaker's town must not be very good.** So let me just say that we have had some of our best experiences on the road in towns that fall a little further off the path. Being able to bring a master teacher to a studio in a town that would never be on the ABT's tour route is something we do to further the foundation's mission and something we do because it is a pleasure for us to meet anyone with a passion for dance. That can be found off scenic rural back roads, amidst the farms or in overlooked corners of urban environments.

In Russia, Valery usually works with professionals or students hoping to gain entrance to top theaters like the Bolshoi Ballet. Of course he likes being able to work at this level, but he also loves working with anyone who is putting in the effort and trying to learn and grow. The only students he does not enjoy are those who do not make an effort. Come to class prepared to work.

"Everyone has talent," he has said. "Everyone."

I will add that talent in itself is very nice, but it is hard work that turns raw talent into something beautiful.

New Class




We're pleased to announce a new confirmed class, July 8 at 1PM at the Faubourg School of Ballet in Hanover Park, IL.

I responded well to their mission statement: "Faubourg School of Ballet, Ltd. is devoted to developing each student's abilities and potential to the fullest. We believe that no matter what the body type or inherent ability, each dancer through hard work, dedication, God's grace, and the individual attention of caring and well trained teachers, can bring greatness within themselves. The sense of achievement and satisfaction that come from this self-improvement brings greater self-respect and responsibility. It gives young people at their most unsure times, the confidence and self-esteem they so desperately need so that they may face the uncertain world of today."


*The Russian National Ballet Foundation should not be confused with a company directed by Sergei Radchenko which tours the U.S. as the Russian National Ballet. In Russian there are two words for "Russian," so the names, although different in Russian, are very similar in English. Because of this, when Valery Lantratov's company tours internationally it sometimes uses other names like the Russian Classical Ballet.

**
It reminds me of the song Al Gore by Monkeybowl. The singer can't believe a former presidential candidate lives on his street. The VEEP's cameo at the end is in line with our feeling when people say, "I can't believe you're here."

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

This Week in Dance History

June 22, 1912-Birthday of choreographer and dancer Katherine Dunham (left). With backgrounds in both anthropology and dance, she became a pioneer in the fields of modern dance and dance history. Her research in African-American dance, particularly the Caribbean culture, led her to form the Katherine Dunham Dance Company, the only permanent, self-subsidized, African-American dance troupe at that time. As the Website for the PBS documentary "Free to Dance" explains: "What Dunham gave modern dance was a coherent lexicon of African and Caribbean styles of movement -- a flexible torso and spine, articulated pelvis and isolation of the limbs, a polyrhythmic strategy of moving -- which she integrated with techniques of ballet and modern dance." (The link above will take you to the full article)

And on this date in 1987-legendary screen performer Fred Astaire passed away. Of Astaire, Mikhail Baryshnikov once said, "No dancer can watch Fred Astaire and not know that we all should have been in another business."










June 23, 1810: Marie Taglioni (right), the Italian ballerina who popularized dancing on point was born. She became famous in the 1830s when her father, Filippo Taglioni created the ballet La Sylphide for her. To create the illusion that she was a weightless fairy she danced on the tips of her toes. There is an interesting article in Dance Insider about some controversy over the final resting place of the great dancer. There is also an interesting article on the English language edition of the Russian publication Ballet Magazine about Taglioni's influence in Russia.









Also born on this date, in 1927, was Bob Fosse (left in rehearsal with dancers), the choreographer and director who, in 1973, recieved an Academy Award for directing "Cabaret", a Tony for directing "Pippin", and an Emmy for directing the tv special "Liza with a Z". Fosse is the only director to win all three major industry prizes in a single year.







June 24, 1879- Agrippina Vaganova (right) was born. The Russian ballerina is best known for her teaching. She combined the best of the old Imperial School of ballet with a more athletic style. She was such a legendary choreographic teacher that in America all Russian style ballet is often referred to as being from the “Vaganova School.”









June 25, 1910- Igor Stravinsky's first ballet, The Firebird, is danced by the Diaghilev company in Paris. Below you can see a clip of Diana Vishneva and Andrei Yakolev of the Marinski (Kirov) Ballet dancing a pas de deux from The Firebird.



And on this date in 1997, A velvet gown was sold at Christie's auction to an unnamed bidder for $225,500, the highest bid Christie's had ever received on an article of clothing. It had been worn by Princess Diana at a 1985 White House dinner during which she danced with John Travolta. (Seen below)


June 26 1973- Preeminent choreographer with Sadler's Wells and the Stuttgart Ballet, John Cranko died following a heart attack during his return flight to Germany following an American tour.

June 27 1756-Marie Sallé, the first woman to choreograph ballet for her own performances died at age 45. You can read more about her in this column from Andros on Ballet.

June 28 1902- Richard Rodgers the famous Broadway composer was born. As half of the Rodgers and Hart and Rodgers and Hammerstein teams, he is the man behind such musicals as Oklahoma, The Sound of Music, The King and I, State Fair, Annie Get Your Gun and Carousel.

June 29, 1954- A star is born as Carol Haney's understudy in the Broadway musical, The Pajama Game, goes on in place of the ailing actress and is discovered by theater critic George Freedly. Writes Freedly in his review: "The night I saw the show, Miss Haney was sick and her understudy Shirley MacLaine took over. It was one of the most accomplished and completely professional performances I have had the pleasure of enjoying."


Resource of the Day

For information on Australian ballet and dancers we recommend the Web page Australia Dancing put together by Ausdance, Australia's professional dance organization. It has biographies, resources and valuable oral histories.


We Already Have a Russian

So I'm going to grumble a little bit here about one of my petty annoyances when booking classes for Valery Lantratov.

From time to time I speak to a studio owner who says rather dismissively, "We already have a Russian, thank you."

Now, not to disparage any Russian teachers in the U.S., but when scheduling instruction the dance credentials seem as though they might be more important than the geographic credentials.
I'm imagining calling a studio and saying, "I have a principal dancer with the Boston Ballet or Houston Ballet or ABT who is available to teach a master class," and having them reply, "We already have an American, thank you."

Such are the petty problems of a ballet manager. Let's get on to the fun stuff:


Here are our latest confirmed classes.

August 13: Artistic Motion School of Dance at the Greensboro Day School, Greensboro, NC. We'll be doing two classes. Time to be confirmed.

August 17-19: Beckley Dance Theater (pictured above). We will be teaching three days of classes geared to three levels.


As always, check our calendar for our entire schedule.

News from the World of Ballet

The latest ballet headline concerns a 14-year old prodigy from England whose composition is making its debut in Moscow. Alex Prior' s Mowgli based on Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book has been getting a lot of international attention. It premieres at Moscow's New Opera Theater. The work will also be performed at the Kremlin and the Bolshoi theatre, before touring internationally. You can read more about it on the BBC's web page by clicking on the link above.


Monday, June 18, 2007

We're in a New State

Valery Lantratov's Latest News

Only 12 more days until Valery Lantratov arrives in the U.S. and we're hard at work on finalizing his summer schedule. We had planned to post all the dates here, but you can always view Valery's entire schedule on our Myspace calendar. That will give you the most up to date information.

We have a few new classes to announce. We'll be traveling to Wisconsin for the first time with this project. We'll be at the Toe to Toe Dance Studio in Elkhorn at 10AM on Monday, July 9. Elkhorn, I read, was recently ranked #14 of the "100 Best Small Towns in America" based on surveyed communities' quality of life. So we're looking forward to it.

We're also now confirmed for two classes at the Academy of Arts in Spring Arbor, MI from 4-5:30 PM on July 12 and 13. (Valery mentions this studio in part 1 of our podcast)



Ballet in the News



"Splendor and Spectacle: Images of Dance from Court Ballet to Broadway,” a new exhibition at the Brigham Young University Museum of Art, illustrates the evolution of ballet from the 18th-century courts of Europe, through the great 19th-century Romantic Ballet, to the arrival of the art form in America in the 1860s. The exhibition, which will be on view from Friday, July 6, 2007 through Tuesday, January 1, 2008, features 65 prints and 33 objets d’art from the private collection of BYU faculty members Madison and Debra Sowell. You can read a review of this exhibition in Art Daily: The First Art Newspaper.

The Associated Press reports that this month, Alexei Ratmansky, artistic director of Moscow's Bolshoi Theater, won an award for his 2003 revival of Dmitri Shostakovich's ballet "The Bright Stream," which had closed abruptly in 1935 after a bad review by Josef Stalin. Read an article about the in the Miami Herald.






Quote of the Day

“So vot can happen? He’s a man, she’s a duck!”-an anonymous quote about the ballet Swan Lake, Washington Post, May 15, 1988.




Thursday, June 14, 2007

We Have No Friends!

So we created a Myspace Page.

Now we're a little sad because we have no friends. Won't you be our friend?

Venturing onto Myspace is quite a step for Valery Lantratov who, in fact, doesn't own a computer. I'm leading him kicking and screaming (or is that jeteing and spinning) into the 21st Century.

I did do a little exploring and found one friend out there on Myspace so far. Before I (Laura Lee) started booking ballet classes, I used to book performances by Will Hoppey, a great singer/songwriter based in New York. It's great to hear his music streaming on his Myspace page. His music has wonderful melodies and thought provoking lyrics. So I'm pleased to put my little plug in for him. His music can be purchased on Emusic and at Willhoppey.com and I'm sure many other places.

I've also been enjoying some of the videos I found on Myspace, for example this clip of Gene Kelly dancing with Fred Astaire. I also came across the famous Cheek to Cheek number with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in the movie Top Hat. Fred Astaire is an American dancer from outside the field of ballet that Valery and I both admire.

We're still getting to know the lay of the land over at Myspace. Since we started our blog here, and we're the loyal types, we're not going to move it over there or repeat it over there. Who has that kind of time? But what we really like so far at Myspace is the calendar feature. We're updating it with classes and events as they are confirmed. We also want to hear from Valery's students. We're hoping Myspace might help us keep in touch.

Speaking of confirmed classes, I just spoke with Patricia Krus at the Patricia Krus School of Dance in Garrett, Indiana (near Fort Wayne). We're going to be doing a book signing there followed by our class on July 5. Patricia is offering a special combined rate on class and book. The class is open to students from other studios and I believe she may be offering a special class for the littlest students. Click on the link above to visit Patricia's web page and get contact information for the studio if you'd like to be part of it.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

This Week in Dance History

Before we cover the events from this week in dance history, I want to remind you about Valery Lantratov's podcast, if you haven't had a chance to listen yet.

June 15- is the feast day of St. Vitus, patron saint of dance. Vitus is also the patron saint of young people and dogs. (If you are a dancing dog this is doubly your day.)

July 16, 1961- "My nationality is dance. My home is the stage," said Rudolf Nureyev, when he requested asylum in France while in Paris with the Kirov ballet. (Image to the left is Valery Lantratov, Rudolf Nureyev and Timour Faiziev taken during Nureyev's "Farewell" tour in 1991)

Incidentally, a new biography of Nureyev by Julie Kavanagh is slated to be published in the UK in September and in the U.S. in October. The link is to the UK version of Amazon.com which has an advance cover image and description posted.

June 17 1986-“Mummenschantz: The New Show” featuring the German performance art mime troupe premiered at the Helen Hayes Theater in New York. It would go on to run for 152 performances.




June 18 1918- The Zigfeld Follies of 1918 opened on Broadway at the New Amsterdam Theater. The follies were elaborate reviews inspired by the Folies Bergères of Paris conceived and mounted by Florenz Ziegfeld.



June 19, 1941-Natalia Bessmertnova was born in Moscow. For three decades she was the prima ballerina of the Bolshoi Ballet. Robert Joffrey said of her: "Natalia Bessmertnova brings her special sensitivity to her dancing and we have all been enriched for it. Her romantic, lyrical Giselle and her spitfire Kitri in Don Quixote have illuminated the roles and shown us her true range as an artist. She and the Yuri Grigorovich choreography have been a perfect match, delighting audiences around the world."


And on this date in 2003- A fire broke out in the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Musical Theater in downtown Moscow just before the start of a performance of the ballet Giselle. About 1,000 people were evacuated from the theater. No one was hurt.



June 20, 1956-Vasily Tikhomirov (above), ballet dancer and influential teacher of the Bolshoi Ballet, passed away. Tikhomirov was known for creating roles in a vigorous, athletic style that he later taught to students at the Bolshoi school. With his wife, Yekaterina Geltzer, he helped preserve classical ballets after the Revolution of 1917.

June 21, 1850- Dancer and ballet master Enrico Cecchetti was born in the dressing room of a theatre in Rome. As a dancer he was known for his amazing leaps, and multiple pirouettes. He created and performed the virtuoso role of the Blue Bird and the mime role of Carabosse in the premiere of Petipa's The Sleeping Beauty in 1890. As a ballet master at the Imperial Ballet Theater, he guided such luminaries as Anna Pavlova. The Cecchetti method of ballet training prescribes a strict exercise routine using the five positions and seven basic movements of classical ballet. His technique was the basis of Britain's Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing. The Cecchetti method has some differences from what is known in the U.S. as the Vaganova or Russian method.


Resource of the Day

If you live in a major city, or plan to visit one this summer, the online edition of Time Out can help you plan for dance viewing. Some cities, such as London and New York, include longer dance interviews and features. The current issue of the New York edition has an interview with Alessandra Ferri. The London edition has an interview with Sylvie Guillem and Akram Khan among its many features. The Chicago edition has a dance blog that mostly covers local events, but also has some content such as book recommendations that cover dance in general.

New Classes

We have one new class to announce. We'll be in Wauseon, Ohio at the Stars Unlimited Studio on Saturday, July 21 from 5:30-7. (We'll be arriving earlier for some private instruction). More classes to be announced in the next few days.

Dance Quote of the Day

“In pursuit of contemporary ideals, our stage lost sight of what may seem a paradox but is a truth—that the ends of choreographic beauty are not always best served by perfect physical harmony. Some of Taglioni’s most exquisite poses had their origin in the fact that her arms were disproportionately long.”-Tamara Karsavina, Russian ballerina. (The video below is of Karsavina)



Saturday, June 9, 2007

No Current Affiliation

News from Valery Lantratov

If you haven't done so already, be sure to listen to Valery Lantratov's first podcast. It's an opportunity to hear about his teaching philosophy and methods without any language barrier, thanks to wonderful interpreter Yulia Coe. We plan to post more podcasts in the future and we welcome your suggestions on themes and topics. Post them in the comments section.

Before I continue with news about upcoming classes, I wanted to briefly tell you one thing Valery Lantratov will NOT be doing this winter. Occasionally we come across stories in newspapers or advertisements on the Internet that say Valery Lantratov will be dancing the role of Drosselmeier in an upcoming Nutcracker production by the company "Moscow Ballet." (I came across one such article just today.) These are the result, we can only assume, of outdated promotional materials that continue to circulate. While Valery did work with this company for a few years in the early 2000s (how do you refer to this decade?), he has no current affiliation, sponosorship or common interest of or with SMI, Inc's "Moscow Ballet." It's been about four years since he has worked with this organization, and he's not slated to dance in any of their upcoming performances.

We do hope to have good news for you on the performance front in the not too distant future, but unfortunately, Valery and his company are not scheduled to perform in the U.S. in 2007. His foundation is very busy working on a production with the Natalia Sats Theater in Moscow this fall and winter.

Upcoming Classes

We can finally confirm that we will be returning to the Patricia Krus School of Dance in Garrett, Indiana for an extended workshop July 5-6. The link above will take you to a section of the school's web page with pictures from our previous visit. You can also read our account of the visit here. We will be holding a book signing of A Child's Introduction to Ballet at 1PM with a three hour class beginning at 3PM. We will conclude with a second three hours from 1-4 PM on July 6.

Another newly added class is the Hochstein School of Music and Dance in Rochester, NY at 5PM on July 31.

Two classes which I believe we previously announced, but had not announced the time are Dexter's School of Dance in Dexter, MI (near Ann Arbor). We'll be conducting a three hour workshop from 1-4 PM on July 25.

On July 27 we'll be at the River Raisin Center for the Arts in Monroe, Michigan. (The link is to the story of our previous trip to this school).

Many studios open up their master classes to outside students, however, we do not know which ones. If you are interested in attending a class near you, we suggest you call the studio and see if you can participate. The studios are all listed in the yellow pages. All of the people I've talked to at the studios with which we're working are very friendly.

In the next few days I'll post our entire July schedule as we have it.

Ballet Resource of the Day

The American Ballet Theater provides a wonderful resource for students learning ballet terminology. Their Ballet Dictionary not only explains the terms but also has Quicktime videos of dancers demonstrating them.


News from the World of Dance

Four of the world's great ballerinas have recently announced their retirements. They are celebrated in a wonderful article in the New York Times by Alastair Macaulay.

Darcey Bussell



The British ballerina Darcey Bussell gave her final performance at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden after a 20 year career. The New York Times describes her as a "dancer capable of effects on a colossal scale and yet amazingly innocent in manner." On the BBC's web page, you can see a slide show and video clips of Bussell.

Patricia Barker




The powerfully lyrical Patricia Barker of the Pacific Northwest Ballet steps down after a 26 year career. The Seattle Times reflects on her career with a photo retrospective.


Kyra Nichols



Kyra Nichols, admired as one of the most classical ballerinas of the New York City Ballet, has announced she will be retiring on June 22 after 30 years. Said Joan Acocella of The New Yorker Magazine, "In her late twenties, after a decade on the stage, she unleashed a sort of depth charge... She became a complete artist." (The link above is to the full article)

Alessandra Ferri





One day after Nichols announced her retirement, Alessandra Ferri announced her departure from American Ballet Theater. You can see Ferri in action in this video clip from the ballet Romeo and Juliet.



The New York Times prepared a slide show feature honoring each of these dancers.


Quote of the Day

“To tend, unfailingly, unflinchingly, towards a goal, is the secret of success.”–Anna Pavlova, Russian Ballerina.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

The First Valery Lantratov Podcast!

Valery Lantratov is the General Director and Artistic Director of the Russian National Ballet Foundation. He is returning to the U.S. this summer to teach at schools in several states including a number of week-long intensives.

I interviewed him by telephone in Moscow about what students can expect in his classes, what his own training in ballet under the Soviet system was like, and why young people should care about this old art form.

The interview segments are in MP3 format. The interview was conducted with interpreter Yulia Coe. You will hear me asking the question, Yulia repeating it in Russian, Valery Lantratov's answer, and then the English translation.

Even if you don't speak Russian, I hope that you will enjoy hearing his actual responses and voice. You may listen by clicking on the links below or right click and save as to download the file to your computer or ipod.

1. Valery discusses his memories of America including some of his favorite studios, and talks about what he is looking forward to this time around, and what students can expect from his classes. (Time: 6:42)

2. I ask Valery if he learns from his students. (Time: :34)

3. Valery talks about training in Russia under the Soviet system. (Time: 5:07)

4. Valery talks about his most memorable teacher and how he learned the hard way to pay attention in class. (Time: 5:28)

5. Valery talks about the timelessness of ballet and why it is relevant to young people today. (Time: 7:26)

If you've enjoyed this interview and want to be sure to keep up to date with Valery Lantratov's news and information and trivia from the dance world please be sure to sign up (on the right) to receive e-mail notification when this site is updated. We also would love to hear from Valery's students. The blog includes an option to post comments. We'd love to hear from you.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Recognition for A Child's Introduction to Ballet




















We've just learned that A Child's Introduction to Ballet was selected by the American Book Seller's Association for their "Summer 2007 Children's Book Sense Picks."

This is how they describe it: "After an introduction to ballet history and basic positions, the stories of several ballets, from Giselle to Peter and the Wolf, are presented with accompanying music on CD. A lovely gift for young dancers or Angelina Ballerina fans who are a little older and want to know more."


One of my recent discoveries on YouTube is a collection of clips illustrating various ballet terms in action. You can see dancers performing tours a la second, cabrioles, pas de chat, assemble en tournant, etc.


This Week in Dance History


(I'm not sure how we got started with a Wednesday-Wednesday week, but here we go)

June 6 1968- Following a performance of Romeo and Juliet by Maurice Bejart's Ballet du XXieme Siecle of Brussles at the Coliseum in Lisbon, Mr. Bejart asked for a moment of silence in memory of Robert Kennedy "victim of violence and fascism." After the moment was observed, Bejart launched into a speech that began "Down with all dictatorships." The next day the Portuguese police expelled him from the country.

June 7 1928- Charles Strouse was born. Strouse was a composer, lyricist and arranger on Broadway musicals such as Dance A Little Closer, Bye Bye Birdie and Annie.

June 8, 1912-The ballet Daphnis and Chloe made its debut performed by the Ballets Russes with choreography by Mikhail Fokine and music by Ravel but this first ballet version of the mythological tale was a flop. In 1951 Frederick Ashton revised Daphnis for the Sadler's Wells Ballet with Margot Fonteyn.

June 9, 1923- Broadway producer Lore Noto was born. Noto was most notably the producer of the musical The Fantasticks which ran off-Broadway from 1960 - 2002 (17,162 performances) at the Sullivan Street Playhouse. Noto played Hucklebee (boy's father) in the show for 17 years (6,348 performances).

June 10, 1932- George Balanchine's Serenade was performed at the estate of Felix Warburg near White Plains, New York. It was the first ballet that Balanchine choreographed in the United StatesAlso on June 10, 1948- The Broadway musical Look Ma I’m Dancin’ closed after 188 performances. The production, choreographed and conceived by Jerome Robbins and George Abbott, was a comic story of a ballet company. The story goes like this: Beer heiress funds a ballet company so she can dance, but she’s so dreadful they demote her to dancing the thorn in Spectre of the Rose.


June 11 1996-Ulysses Dove, principal dancer with the Alvin Ailey company passed away. Dove was noted for his commanding presence, bright clarity of movement, and truthful dramatic intensity.

June 12, 1906-At Ellen Terry's Jubilee Matinée, Drury Lane, London, England, 22 members of the Terry family (including Sir John Gielgud
's mother, Kate) appeared in the masked dance from Much Ado About Nothing. The Guinness Book of World's Records notes this as most members of a single family to appear together on stage.


And on this date in 1908-Marina Timofeyevna Semyonova, (above) ballerina and renowned dance instructor, was born. Semyonova's great contribution to the development of Russian classical ballet was in the scope and epic nature of her style in movement and the quiet grandeur and strength of the classical repertory.



June 13 1940- Erick Hawkins (above) made his debut as a solo dancer at Bennington College Theater. H went on to be a soloist and the first male dancer in Martha Graham's company. He remained with Graham until 1950 and greatly influenced her work.

June 14, 1879-Sylvia , a three act ballet, premiered at the Palais Garnier choreographed by Louis Merante to music by Louis Delibes. It did not cause a sensation, but a 1952 revival by Sir Frederick Ashton popularized the ballet. Here you can see a clip of Darcey Bussel and Roberto Bolle dancing a pas de deux from Sylvia.




Sunday, June 3, 2007

Shoo Ba Do Ba Doo Bah- Dance!

Next time someone says that the American public has no interest in dance you can tell them this-- the most popular show on television last Wednesday night was Fox television's "So You Think You Can Dance." It averaged 9.2 million viewers.

I read this headline on the dance page of Arts Journal, a site that compiles the most interesting arts headlines from various newspapers. I highly recommend it. As with this blog, you can sign up to receive it by e-mail so you never miss your dance news fix again.

Arts Journal also made me aware of a story on NPR, which you can listen to on line, about how a marine colonel brought ballet to Pittsfield, Maine. I found the story interesting for two reasons. First, Andrei Bossov, the Russian teacher featured in the story, is one of Valery Lantratov's many acquaintances in the small world of Russian ballet. Another dancer, with whom we both have worked, also taught at the featured school. I remember her fondly as a great teacher and wonderful with children.

Second, it illustrates something we've discovered as we tour and teach classes. You find pockets of quality ballet all over the world, wherever there is one person with enough passion for dance to make something happen. We've had some of our greatest experiences far off the beaten path.

Which brings us todays topic-- dance news. We will continue to keep you updated about Valery Lantratov's career and adventures, of course, but we want to make this blog much more than that. As much as we'd like to think that you're fascinated by our every move, we suspect it might be more valuable and interesting if we widen the focus and try to incorporate as much educational information and news from the greater dance world as we can. Thus we've changed the name of our newsletter from Valery Lantratov's Travels to Valery Lantratov's Ballet Blog. (I'm Laura Lee, author of the book A Child's Introduction to Ballet and Valery's U.S. representative and all around helper.)

As you may have seen in the last post, I've started a new feature "this date in dance history." Let us know if you have any suggestions for recurring features.

On Wednesday, I will be interviewing Valery Lantratov. The results will appear as a series of podcasts (technology permitting). There's still time to get your questions in. Send them to lauralee@doublevpromotions.com.