Sunday, April 27, 2008

Resource of the Day: VoxDance.Com and News from the World of Dance

Before I get to the Resource of the Day, I wanted to remind you to listen to the interview with Valery Lantratov, which you can find in the next post. He took questions submitted by dance students across the country. Did he answer yours? Also, Valery Lantratov is now on Facebook. We haven't quite gotten the hang of Facebook yet, and Valery is once again without friends. So if you're a Facebooker, won't you be our friend?

Tired of sifting through videos of the "Don't Taze Me Bro" guy and the Korean baby singing "Hey Jude" to find quality ballet clips on You Tube? VoxDance has done the work for you. The site is a combination storefront and You Tube showcase, but its dance theme means dance fans are much more likely to find something they want to see. VoxDance also tries to put the clips into context by providing some background information, such as a dancer's biography, along with the video.

The clip below of Farukh Ruzimatov is something I found through Voxdance.

There is a Valery Lantratov connection to this particular clip. Lantratov portrayed Czar Nicholas II in the 2004 production of the new ballet Rasputin, with Ruzimatov in the title role.

For our Russian readers: Here are links to two Russian language articles on that production. The first is an interview with Valery Lantratov on the controversy surrounding the production. The second is a review from the journal Ballet.

Unfortunately my Russian is limited, but according to Babel Fish, here's what it says: "Valerie lantratov, in my view, very interestingly treats the party of Nikolai OF THIS II artist characteristically deep meaningful beginning. Lantratov - very expressive artist, the thinking dancer and therefore in it is obtained not simply dancing party, but entire role, role deeply comprehended."

(Apparently Babel Fish's Russian is limited too)

Finally, some Rasputin related:

News from the World of Dance

A new production of the Soviet classic Spartacus premiered Tuesday at the Mikhailovsky Theater in St. Petersburg, Russia with Denis Matvieyko in the title role and Irina Perren as Valeria. The St. Petersburg Times notes it "is not just another opening of another show but an important event for cultural life in St. Petersburg. After all, the director of the ballet, Georgy Kovtun, says that it should be “suicide” to stage Spartacus in St. Petersburg because every new version is compared to the legendary original staging at the Mariinsky Theater by choreographer Leonid Yakobson in 1956."

The article notes that among director Kovtun's best-known works is the ballet Rasputin, which he created for dancer Farukh Ruzimatov at the St. Petersburg Ballet and Opera Conservatoire. You can read the entire article by following the link above, or visit the Mikhailovsky Theater's web page.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Valery Lantratov Answers Your Questions

Here they are! You submitted your ballet questions to Valery Lantratov and he has answered. I interviewed the director of the Russian National Ballet Foundation by telelphone from Moscow where he has been creating a new ballet based on the story of the goddess Aphrodite for a festival in Cyprus.

Each segment is in MP3 format and can be streamed or downloaded. You will hear my question, the voice of the translator, Yulia Coe, Valery Lantratov's answer, and then the English translation of his answer.

Here's what you wanted to know:

In the first clip, Valery responds to a question sent by Veronica of the New Cumberland School of Ballet in New Cumberland, PA.

How did Valery get started in ballet in the first place?

The second question, submitted by Carissa a parent of a student at the Lake School of Dance in St. Albans, WV.

What is the earliest age a child should start taking ballet?

In the third segment, Valery discusses the teaching styles of Vladimir Vasiliev and Ekaterina Maximova when Brianna of Creative Arts Unlimited in Fort Myers, Florida asks:

Who was Valery's first teacher and who was his most famous teacher?

Marissa from Queen City Ballet School in Helena, MT wants to know:

What was the most difficult move for him to exectue?

Sarah of Hilde's Gymnastics and Dance Academy of Crown Point, IN was the winner of our contest and will receive a copy of A Child's Introduction to Ballet signed by Valery Lantratov and author Laura Lee. Sarah has recently had to take a break from dancing because of a foot injury. She asked:

Have you ever had an injury that kept you from dancing, and what did you do when you couldn't dance?

Autumn, a student at the Dance Center in Port Jervis, NY posed a question about ballets that require a dancer to portray dark emotions.

How do you stand out in a ballet that doesn't require you to smile?

Evelyn from Creative Arts Unlimited in Fort Myers, Florida asked:

Have you ever been in a competition?

Shannon, a parent of a student at the Anaheim Ballet School asked:

Do you prefer to dance to live or recorded music?

Another "ballet mom" Jenny of Vancouver Washington posed the final question:

What, besides encouragement, should a parent do to help a child succeed in ballet?

And in the last segment, Valery gives his concluding thoughts and discusses the value of being a well-rounded person, not just a ballet dancer.

Thank you to everyone who submitted a question for this interview. If you enjoyed it, you can find more interviews with Valery Lantratov by clicking on "podcast" in the links below or on the link in the right navigational menu.

News from the World of Dance

News from the World of Ballet

The Independent of London published a review of a performance by Ballet Black a "small but determined" company which hopes to create more role models for non-white ballet dancers. The British company, made up of black and Asian dancers, has a grass roots mission to reach young people through school programs and outreach.

"Our ultimate goal," they write on their web page, "is to see a fundamental change in the number of black and Asian dancers in mainstream ballet companies, making Ballet Black wonderfully unnecessary."

You can read the full review here.

In other news: On April 20, The Oregon Ballet Foundation set a new world's record for the world's largest ballet class. The Oregon Ballet Foundation beat South African Ballet Theatre's record of 551 by 27 participants.

Quote of the Day

"Each art is an image of the world. Each composer depits it through sounds, artists through paints, writers use words, and a choreographer uses the expressive means of the human body."-Igor Moiseyev

Friday, April 11, 2008

Step It Up

One of the common laments we hear from dance teachers in our travels is that many young students are not interested in classical ballet. Ballet is a long, slow process and they want to jump ahead and perform and compete. They are interested in music videos, they say, not Swan Lake.

"Ballet is the foundation," is Valery's constant mantra. Jazz dance is great. Modern is exciting. There's nothing wrong with tap or hip hop, but a good foundation of classical ballet makes any style of dance easier.

That message was repeated today by the dance mentor on Bravo TVs new reality dance competition Step It Up and Dance. On his blog for the series, Jerry Mitchell wrapped up last nights episode:

"There was a huge difference between the winning group and the elimination group in this week's Challenge. I think the winning group collectively had more technique. Cody, Mochi, Nick, Tovah and Oscar have all studied ballet and taken classes in technique. You could tell by their line and their ability to pick up Cati's audition steps and partner work. They had studied, on the whole, more than the elimination group... My experience, my eye tells me when a dancer walks into a room if they have taken a ballet class, or if they have ever taken a partner class. My eye told me the winning group had!"

I'm betting on a dancer with at least some kind of a ballet background to take the big prize.

While I'm here, I wanted to remind you that you have until Tuesday to submit questions for an interview with Valery Lantratov from Moscow. Remember the question he chooses as his favorite wins an autographed copy of A Child's Introduction to Ballet. Look for the link on the right for details.