Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Friday, December 25, 2009

Ballet Image of the Day

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Today in Dance History: December 20

On this date in 1585: A spectacle was presented for King Phillip II of Spain. As Maurice Esses recounted in Dance and Instrumental Diferencias... "...all the associations representing the manual trades presented dances near the gates of the palace so the ladies of the court might see them. On each side of the palace a stage was constructed on which musicians played for the dancers each day... using small drums, recorders and other lowly instruments, they played together well and maintained the beat very effectively for the dancers... In short, each trade association presented something new. They danced so much that they broke down a 25-foot wall located on the bank of the river next to the palace and many people fell into the water."

On this date in 1911: Swan Lake makes its U.S. debut at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York.

On this date in 1949: John Cranko's ballet Beauty and the Beast premiered.

And on this date in 1981: Michael Bennett's Dreamgirls opens on this date on Broadway. The musical will run more than 1500 performances.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Thursday, December 17, 2009

This Day in Dance History: December 17

December 17, 1892- The Nutcracker ballet had its premiere at the Marinski Theater in St. Petersburg, Russia. Tchaikovsky was initially not pleased with the score. "And now it is finished, Casse-Noisette is all ugliness," he wrote.

However as time went on Tchaikovsky changed his mind about The Nutcracker, which had premiered on the same day as the opera Iolanthe. "Strange that when I was composing the ballet I kept thinking that it wasn't very goof but that I would show them [the Imperial Theaters] what I can do when I began the opera. And now it seems that the ballet is good and the opera not so good."

Dance Science

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Contracts Due!

It is December and the sounds Tchaikovsky waft from dance schools across the nation as they prepare their full scale productions and winter recitals. Meanwhile, at Double V Promotions, we're making our final preparations for a two month tour that begins the first week of January.

We understand that for many of our dance school friends this is the busiest time of the year. Getting a contract back for a master class that will be held three or four weeks down the line gets pushed further and further down the to do list after "repair Mouse King heads" and "send out order forms for DVDs" and "make my Christmas travel plans."

We understand how busy you are, but because we have only a very short time before we have to get on the road, and we need to know that our class schedule is completely firm before we book hotels and plan our route, we are asking that you take a moment and put that stamp on that envelope. It will get a pesky item off your to do list, and assure that Valery Lantratov will be coming to your studio.

If we sent you a contract more than two weeks ago, and we have not received it by the end of this week, we will release your dates to ensure we have enough time to fill them elsewhere before we leave. Happy Nutcrackers, and thank you for inviting us to your studio.

This Day in Dance History: December 16

December 16, 1937- A now famous dance step, "The Lambeth Walk" was introduced during the first performance of Noel Gay's "Me and My Girl" in London.

On this same date in 1977- the disco film Saturday Night Fever was released. John Travolta, who was also shooting the Welcome Back Kotter tv series during the filming, ran two miles a day and danced for three hours daily to get in shape for this film. The iconic opening sequence of Travolta’s feet strutting along the streets of Brooklyn was actually performed by the actor’s stand-in, Jeff Zinn.

On this date in 1987-Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, a program designed to help fight the threat of the AIDS virus, was launched.

And on this date in 1993- The Red Shoes, a Broadway musical based on the 1948 film of the same name, opened at the Gershwin Theatre to unanimously unfavorable reviews. It closed after only five performances.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Ballet Image of the Day

This Day in Dance History: December 15

Dec 15, 1879- Rudolf Laban, inventor of the labanotation system of dance notation, was born.

Also on this date in 1944- Ballet International performed Mad Tristan choreographed by Leonide Massine against a set painted by the surrealist artist Salvador Dali. Time magazine wrote of the performance: "When Salvador Dali's ballet, Mad Tristan, opened in Manhattan in 1944, it provided one critic with 'a 25-minute yawn.' Most other balletgoers yawned, too, if not so long-windedly, and Mad Tristan flopped."

And on this date in 1986-Serge Lifar passed away at age 81. "Universally dubbed one of ballet's greatest egocentrics (even by his admirers)," wrote Anna Kisselgoff, "he has also been recognized (even by his detractors) as the major figure in the renewal of 20th-century French ballet. Yet, perhaps in the long run he will and should be remembered for the ideas and actions that were forerunners of many of the premises we now take for granted in dance." (You can read the entire obituary by following the link above.)

Monday, December 14, 2009

This Day in Dance History: December 14

December 14, 1844: English ballerina Clara Vestris Webster's dress caught fire during a performance of The Revolt of the Harem at the Drury Lane Theater. She died three days later.

And on this date in 1954: Danish ballet dancer Ib Anderson was born. The former New York City Ballet dancer and choreographer with the Royal Danish Ballet is now artistic director of Ballet Arizona in Phoenix.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

This Day in Dance History: December 13

December 13 1826-Carolina Rosati, ballerina with the Paris Opera, was born. "Mile Carolina Rosati is a dancer of the very first order," wrote Sir Bernard Burke in 1847, "her style is intellectual and varied her grace and agility of motion are most striking She enacted to the life the charming creation of Fouque so closely indeed did she copy the original that the very words of the romance itself describe exactly her appearance on her first coming on her performance and the wonderful effect it produced."

Dec 13 1998-Charles Laskey, performer with the New York City Ballet and the Metropolitan Ballet passed away.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Today in Dance History: December 12

Dec 12, 1882- The Bijou Theatre in Boston, Massachusetts, became the first theatre to be lighted by electricity.

On this date in 1995- Tap dance instructor Mary Bruce passed away at age 95. Her students included Josephine Premice, Ruby Dee, Martina Arroyo and Marlon Brando.

And on this date in 2000- Costumes and other memrobilia belonging to Dame Margot Fonteyn, one of Britain's best loved dancers, brought in ₤640,000, six times more than expected, at Christie’s auction house.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Today in Dance History: December 11

Dec 11, 1901-Choreographer Lev Ivanov passed away. Ivanov was best remembered for his work on two of the world’s most popular ballets, The Nutcracker and Swan Lake. The Nutcracker became Ivanov’s project when Marius Petipa fell ill. An early version of Swan Lake created by choreographer Julius Reisinger was a failure. After Tchaikovsky’s death in 1893, Ivanov staged a one act version in honor of the composer. The success of Ivanov's choreography for Act II led the company to stage a complete new production in 1895, under Petipa's artistic direction, in which Ivanov created the choreography for Acts II and IV and Petipa for Acts I and III. It is now the most popular ballet in the world, providing the most iconic images of classical ballet.

And on this date in 1916- "The Mambo King" PĂ©rez Prado was born. One of the most influential pop orchestra leaders of the early 1950s, was the first to market his compositions under the name "mambo," and his "Mambo No. 5" took Latin America and the U.S. by storm.

And on this date in 1923-George Balanchine, still known by his Georgian name, Balanchivadze, as the ballet master of the Maly Opera Theater, staged the dances for the company’s production of Le Coq d’Or, which debuted today.

And on this date in 1929-Sir Kenneth MacMillan was born in Scotland. He was artistic director of the Royal Ballet from 1970 until 1977, but continued to choreograph works for them until his death backstage at the Royal Opera House in 1992.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

This Day in Dance History: December 10

Dec 10, 1958- Ekaterina Maximova made her first solo appearance in the Peasant pas de deux in the first act of Giselle. The English ballet critic A.V. Coton called her “a happy and lovely girl, who moves like a wondrous bird… she has the most appealing smile I have ever seen in a dancer in performance.”

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

This Day in Dance History: December 9

Dec 9, 1963-The Joffrey Ballet returned from a tour of Russia consisting of thirteen sold out performances. Russian critics were generally more favorable to the company than they had been to a visit by George Balanchine’s New York City Ballet the previous year. The Soviets felt that Balanchine’s abstract style, which stressed motion over story telling, diluted the classical legacy. Tass, the official Soviet news agency wrote that the tour was “the greatest success of all the American companies that have danced in Leningrad.”

And on this date in 1990- Boris Kochno passed away at age 86. Kochno’s artistic direction in major companies and scenarios for Serge Diaghilev, George Balanchine and Roland Petit. One of his most enduring contributions to ballet was the Balanchine ballet "Prodigal Son" on which he collaborated.

Grand Rapids Ballet Presents The Prodigal Son from Grand Rapids Ballet on Vimeo.

And on this date in 1997-Tamara Geva, the Russian-born dancer and actress passed away at age 91. Born Tamara Gevergeyev in St. Petersburg in 1906, she studied ballet at the Marinski Ballet School. There she met George Balanchine and the couple married in 1923. They left Russia the following year and were separated soon after. Geva found a new career in Broadway musicals and authored an autobiography Split Seconds in 1972.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Kultura Feature on The Bolshoi's Bright Stream

Featuring Vladislav Lantratov and Ekaterina Krisanova

Vladislav Lantratov: Soloist of the Bolshoi Ballet on the Russian cultural program "Who's There?"

Vladislav Lantratov, soloist of the Bolshoi Ballet, (and son of Valery Lantratov) is interviewed on the Russian program Kto Tam? (Who's There?) to promote the performance "The Bright Stream." The interview is in Russian, but it also shows some nice performance clips.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Funky Futuristic Ballet Image of the Day

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Ballet Too the Electric Boogaloo

If you are one of our dance school friends-- if we have visited your school or will be coming this winter or summer--check the list of schools on our blog to be sure we have your URL listed. If your school is on Twitter, follow @lantratov so we can follow you back and hear your latest news.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ballet Image of the Day

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Ballet Image of the Day

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sleeping Beauty in Cyprus

Valery Lantratov's Russian National Ballet Foundation (billed in Cyprus as Russian State Ballet) will perform Sleeping Beauty at the Rialto Theater Heroes’ Square, Limasso on Saturday, December 19. Here is the description of the program.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Friday, November 20, 2009

Ballet Image of the Day

Weird Ballet Image of the Day

Summer's Coming

We have updated our calendar. We have posted our master class schedule through June. Our winter schedule is almost completely full. There are only one or two more slots available. We're actively working on summer, which is filling up quickly. We have the most flexibility in July and August. If you are interested in a longer intensive in the summer, please contact us right away to book your slot.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Vaudeville is the Default Condition of the Mind

Old newspapers, magazines and ephemeral books have always held an interest for me. That is why the site The Hope Chest is on my RSS feed list. The compiler of The Hope Chest finds oddities from old news and posts them with comments. Today its author proposed the following observation: "Vaudeville is the default condition of the mind." Not only did I enjoy that line enough to want to share it, it reminded me of an essay I wrote about a year ago when I came across some video clips of Al “Rubber Legs” Norman, which I have yet to post or publish, so here it goes:

Rubber Legs

On the web page of Henrik Eriksson, a square-jawed Swede who blogs about his career as a swing music D.J. I discovered Al “Rubber Legs” Norman.

In a series of embedded clips from You Tube, Al performed his greatest hits from 1930s movies. The double jointed dancer whipped his legs around so they created waves which he expertly surfed. Not quite Broadway or tap style, his dance was part comic, part acrobatic and would bring a smile to the lips of even the most downtrodden Depression-era audience. He reminded me of Ray Bolger, but without the Wizard of Oz Scarecrow costume.

Seventy years after he performed his quirky dance, he is a star of the Internet. The “Happy Feet” clip has popped up on dozens of blogs. It’s been seen by 44,639 people. I wanted to know more about him.

I looked him up in all the normal places, The Internet Movie Database, The Internet Broadway Database, I even went so far as to get up from my computer and look in some real books. All I was able to come up with was that Norman had been an “eccentric” dancer on the vaudeville circuit before his Internet stardom.

“Novelty dancers,” wrote Ian Driver, author of A Century of Dance, “were perhaps the performers who were totally rooted in the culture of their day. Novelty dancers or ‘eccentric’ dancers were, in effect, dancing comedians.”

Such performers were often the glue that held the mosaic of a vaudeville performance together. A vaudeville show had no cohesive theme. On one bill you might find a juggler, a comedian, a singer, a toe dancer, a ventriloquist and an acrobat. Odd acts that defied categorization found an outlet in vaudeville.

Al Norman’s viral video status makes perfect sense. You Tube is the new vaudeville. We often think of YouTube, with its 10 minute slices of entertainment, as being a product of a short-attention-span culture and the downfall of literacy, but it may simply be a return to the diversity that we enjoyed in days gone by.

In the early days of television Ed Sullivan would present a group of performers so diverse that no modern programmer would dare copy. The Beatles would leave the stage to make way for a juggler and a scene from a Broadway show.

Over the years, eclectic family programming gave way to market driven programming geared towards specific demographic niches. Programs with a highly identifiable audience could serve as a vehicle to advertise certain products. Randomness no longer reigned on the airwaves. Yet our interest and our curiosity has remained as wide as it ever was.

Our personal blogs reveal individuals who do not fit as nicely into demographic niches as marketers would have us believe. A television programmer would never pitch black and white movies for an audience of 20-somethings, but there is many a blog that displays videos by Pink next to clips of Fred Astaire and bluegrass picking along side Stephen Colbert.

In just a few days, embedded YouTube clips have introduced me to beatbox flute, cut paper animations and Al Norman. Welcome back vaudeville. We missed you.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Ballet Image of the Day

Friday, November 13, 2009

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ballet Image of the Day

Friday, November 6, 2009

Ballet Image of the Day

Moscow's Desire to Dig is Cracking the Surface

Russia Today reports that the front yard of the famous Russian Bolshoi Theater in central Moscow has suddenly collapsed into a two meter deep pit, after underground construction started nearby.

A Musical Heart

-Health Magazine, 1904

Dancing Weatherman

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Public Domain Russian Ballet Images

Google Books has been slowly digitizing the dusty tomes in university libraries. Books in the public domain are available to download in their entirety. Here are some public domain images from a 1913 book called The Russian Ballet by Dame Ellen Terry. (The embedding clipped a few of these images. Click on them to take you to the original if you'd like to crop them differently.)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Pet Milk Can Effect

So here's something fun. Anyone remember the old Pet Milk cans? They had a picture of a Pet Milk can on them, which had a picture of a Pet Milk can on it and so on and so on.

So here is our version. We've added a widget to the blog which displays our Twitter feeds and are now using an ap to automatically post our blog posts to our Twitter. This may create some kind of loop that eventually envelops the entire universe. We're not sure yet.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Benefits of Ballet

I recently uncovered an article from the 1997 issue of Creative Living. "Wellsprings of Health" by Paul J. Rosch, M.D. notes that attending cultural events may help you live longer.

People who frequent concerts, theater and art exhibits are healthier and live longer, according to a recent study by Swedish researchers... the researchers surveyed 13,000 people, ages 16 to 74, about their health, living conditions, income, education and lifestyles. Eight and nine years later, they found that those who generally attended some sort of cultural event fewer than 40 times per year were almost 60 percent more likely to have died, compared to those participating in such activities twice as often or more... Going to the movies, attending a sporting event or singing in a choir provided similar rewards.

(This is an advertisement for the Bolshoi's performances at the University of North Carolina this past summer. Valery Lantratov's son Vladislav Lantratov was part of this tour)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Winter Schedule Now On Line

We have updated our calendar (you can access it via a link on the right) to show the classes for our upcoming winter tour. Our schedule is filling up quickly. The studios that are listed on this schedule are all those to which we have sent contracts, if you are listed, but we have not yet received your contract, you may still be removed from the itinerary. We look forward to working with many studios, both new and old, this winter.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Walpurgis Nacht Female Variation

Some students will be familiar with this variation, which Valery Lantratov taught in his variation classes this summer.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

August Collage

Thank you to everyone who made our tour such a success. We look forward to seeing you again in winter and next summer.

From Collages

Michael Jackson's Tribute to Fred Astaire

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

July 2009: The Tour in Pictures

We are close to wrapping up another successful U.S. tour, and we're grateful to have had the opportunity to meet so many wonderful students in so many new and familiar places. As we roll into our final cities, we are looking to the future and beginning to plan our itineraries for both winter and summer 2010.

In the winter our route will take us primarily south through KY, TN, MS, FL, GA, SC, NC, VA with a few more northern cities as well. Unfortunately, we will not be able to get to all of our favorite studios and cities. If you are in one of the states on our list, and are interested in having Valery Lantratov come to your studio, please contact us.

For summer, we are starting now with schools that would like intensives of three days to one week. As of now, our direction is completely open, but as schools commit to dates, it will determine (an limit) our direction for summer. If you are interested in classes for summer or winter please contact

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

June So Far

From Collages

Friday, June 12, 2009

Premier Pas

There is a tradition that our tours begin with terrible weather, the better to test our mettle. Last winter, we started in a blizzard in Northvile, Michigan. Interestingly our tour will end in late August in Northville as well.

Yesterday, we headed from Michigan to Ohio past some favorite cities we will unfortunately not be visiting this year. As we gazed out through the water fall of rain, Valery Lantratov asked me about Monroe, Lincoln Park and Maumee.

In spite of our travel challenges, it was a great pleasure to begin in one of our favorite studios, Upstage Downtown Dance in Celina, Ohio. This is our third visit to the studio, the last time was in February, and our itinerary has usually brought us in through Indiana rather than from the North. We had the opportunity to get a nice view of the lakes surrounding this jewel of Western Ohio.

In class, Valery unveiled his new music and new combinations. It was a great beginning, and today we're off to Sidney, Ohio for two classes in a new studio for us , Sharon's school of Dance.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Follow Our Travels on Twitter

It is hard to believe that we start another U.S. tour in a little more than a week. We always enjoy keeping you informed of our travels. In the past, we wrote extensive blog articles about all of our cities and studios. Unfortunately, this does get to be time consuming and hard to maintain. During the last tour we simply had no time for those kinds of updates. So we're trying something new and have started a Twitter account. We will provide brief updates of our journey on Twitter and Facebook and only the occasional blog posting about where we've been. We hope you will "follow" us and "friend" us.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

On the Road Again

Yes, it is almost that time again. Valery Lantratov arrives from Moscow on June 9th and another tour begins. We will be focusing our attentions primarily on the Midwest this time around. We will be visiting a couple of new states: Missouri and Iowa. Be sure to watch this space as we report on our travels.

We have updated the calendar, so you can see where we will be going by following the link to the right.

We still have one or two gaps that we are trying to fill. The first is June 10th. We have availability in Detroit, MI/Toledo, Ohio metro areas, if you would like to kick off our tour please contact us.

We have availability in the Richmond, VA or Virginia Beach area on June 23.

We are still hoping to fill July 5 in Scranton/Wilkes Barre/Allentown/Binghamton, NY and July 9 in the Buffalo, NY area.

Our biggest gap is the week of August 10-14. If you have a studio located anywhere between St. Louis, MO and Traverse City, MI there is a good chance we can fit you in. Indiana want us?

Contact us at to book any of these dates. If we talked about having a class at your studio, but you did not return a contract to us, please note that we did not hold these dates for you. Please double check our calendar if you have any doubts as to whether or not we are coming. Also note that many of the class times are still to be announced.

In the next week we will be contacting all our scheduled studios to confirm times and directions. Please be patient, the process will take a while, we have more than 80 studios to get to. If you have any special requests for your classes please try to get them to me before Friday. I will be speaking to Valery Lantratov in Moscow on Friday evening, and would like to tell him anything he will need to know to prepare.

If your class was recently added, we would like to request that you get the contract and deposits back to us as soon as possible. We would like to have all of those logistics wrapped up by the end of the week so that we can focus on our routing and travel plans.

In the meantime, please enjoy this video of a boy's class at the Bolshoi Academy.

I am also sharing this pdf version of Dance Now, which I recently discovered on line. The magazine features a long interview with Alexei Ratmansky on leaving his position as Bolshoi Ballet artistic director. I pass it along because it is interesting and because of the brief mention of Vladislav Lantratov, Valery's son, who Ratmansky calls "promising."

Sunday, May 17, 2009

How to Get Laura Lee's Next Book for Free

You may have noticed that this blog has not been updated as frequently lately as in the past. Here is why I (Laura Lee) have sold a new book called Broke is Beautiful to Running Press. The publisher is so enthusiastic about it that they are rushing it out. It is already listed in their spring catalog. (This is major rushing by publishing standards)

Order a book from my website by the end of the month and you will not only get a personally autographed copy of that book, but also an absolutely free autographed copy of Broke is Beautiful the moment they come off the presses. You will be one of the first people in the world to see it! (Note: There are only three copies left of A Child's Introduction to Ballet)

I am hard at work lining up last minute classes and trying to get the book as complete as possible before we get on the road on June 9.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Independence Day Special

Would you like to have Valery Lantratov, artistic director of the Russian National Ballet Foundation, host a master class at your studio for 1/3 of the regular price? We have three days to fill over the July 4 holiday. We are able to offer these dates, and these dates only, at a discounted rate.

If you have a studio in or near one of these cities: Harrisburg, Lancaster, Scranton, Wilkes Barre, Alentown, Philadelphia, PA; Trenton, NJ of Binghamton, NY please contact and mention this offer.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Weird Dance Story of the Day

Courtesy the Boing Boing Blog is a dance story appropriate enough for April Fool's Day. Apparently Mike Long, a Canadian performance artist from Hamilton, Ontario "freaky danced" in public places and taped himself doing so for 366 days straight.

What do you think?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Kinetic Sculptures of Reuben Margolin

Dancers are not the only artists inspired by movement. Make: Television recently featured Reuben Margolin who is inspired by waves, caterpillars and other natural movements to create kinetic sculptures out of recycled materials.

Impressed? You can read more about the artist on his web page.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Do You Love Me Now That I Can Dance?

This enjoyable video was created as an ad for a cell phone company that is not paying me for the plug. I guess their viral marketing campaign is working. Hope you enjoy it.


We have three new openings due to cancellations on our schedule. So we have a few more geographic areas and dates with openings.

If you have or know of a studio that might like to host a master class with Valery Lantratov in one of these areas, please contact us at and we'll see if we can make it happen.

The new dates are:

June 10-11: Metro Detroit/Downriver, Michigan

June 13: Columbus or Southern Ohio

July 3-5: Pennsylvania

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Summer Sun!

Valery Lantratov's summer educational tour schedule is shaping up nicely. We have almost 70 classes planned from New York to Iowa. While our last tour took us south, this one will focus on the midwest. We'll be visiting many studios and many cities for the first time. You can keep up with our schedule via the calendar on the right.

We still have a few dates were are trying to fill. If you have or know of a studio that might like to host a master class with Valery Lantratov in one of these areas, please contact us at and we'll see if we can make it happen.

We have the following openings:

June 22-23: Roanoke/Lynchburg, VA area

June 26-28: Washington D.C./Baltimore, MD areas

July 9-12: Buffalo, NY/Erie, PA/Pittsburg, PA/Cleveland, OH areas

August 13-14: Chicago, IL area

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Russian National Ballet Foundation's Don Quixote

Before he traveled to the United States this winter to teach a series of master classes, Valery Lantratov took his Russian National Ballet Foundation to Cyprus where they performed Don Quixote. We are pleased to be able to share some images of that production with you.

Ballet Rehearsal at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy

Friday, March 13, 2009

Do We Need a Minister of Culture?

A call for President-elect Barack Obama to give the arts and humanities a Cabinet-level post -- perhaps even create a secretary of culture -- is gaining momentum. By yesterday, 76,000 people had signed an online petition, started by two New York musicians who were inspired by producer Quincy Jones. In a radio interview in November, Jones said the country needed a minister of culture, like France, Germany or Finland has. And he said he would "beg" Obama to establish the post. You can read more about the petition in the Washington Post.

What do you think? Should the U.S. have a secretary of culture? Post your opinions in the comments section.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Thank You


Thank you to everyone who helped make our winter tour a success. Valery Lantratov is on his way back to Moscow and appreciated the opportunity to work with so many of you this season.
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Pas de Chat


Williamston, MI; February 27, 2009
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Monday, February 9, 2009

On the Road

We have been on the road since Mid-January teaching students across the country. Our travel schedule has made it challenging to give you a daily update, but we will be recounting more of our adventures and posting photos including some beautiful pictures from the Russian National Ballet Foundation's tour of Cyprus and Lebanon with Don Quixote, a tour with Valery Lantratov completed just prior to his current educational tour.

So far we spent a pleasant but cold week in Michigan and Ohio, traveled on to West Virginia and Virginia, which were also unusually cold, and on to the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida where we are now preparing for two classes at The Dance Studio in St. Augustine, Florida, which we are told is right on the beach.

Until we manage to find some free moments to talk about these topics in depth, we would like to share an article on one of our classes at the Detweiler School of Ballet in Bellefontaine, OH.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Where Ideas May Lead You

Class discussions often spark ideas. The magic is not in the ideas, but in where those ideas take you. (That's the "creation" in the word "creativity.")

Our friends at Dance Excel in Gary, Indiana, have used their classroom sparks to create a beautifully illustrated children's book and full scale dance production, The Spirit of the Baobab Tree.

To get an idea of how beautifully illustrated Dionne Champion and Sherice Grant's book is, look at Daryl Champion's art work in this excerpt from the Xlibris web site.

As Dionne and Sherice talked with their students, they found that many of them had no concept of how African-American and African history related to their modern day lives. They came up with a way to teach this concept, not through memorizing dry facts, but as people have for generations-- through story telling and dance.

The result was The Spirit of the Baobab Tree, which began life as a stage production with characters based on a mixture of personalities of their own students. Now a story book, it tells the tale of a nine-year-old boy named Jelani who spends his time drawing magical places and beings in a sketchbook to escape from the realities of his life as a foster child. One day from out of the pages of his sketchbook a magical storyteller comes to life taking the boy on a journey of discovery with tales of his African and American ancestors.

The book is available through Xlibris or through

If you're in the Gary area, you can see the Spirit of the Baobab Tree February 26-27 at the West Side High School Theater. Contact Dance Excel for more information on the production.

Monday, January 5, 2009

It's Almost that Time

Valery Lantratov will soon be here in the United States to teach master classes from the East Coast to the Mississippi, from Florida to Wisconsin. We are looking forward to meeting each and every one of you. We hope that as we travel you will stay in touch with us using this blog and our Myspace and Facebook pages. (Links to the right)

If we have not been to your studio before, you should have received an e-mail with our travel directions attached. We begin our tour next week, once we are on the road, communication becomes more of a challenge, so we would like to encourage you to take a moment now to send any information about your class that may be useful to Mr. Lantratov in his preparations even if it seems that your class is some time in the future.

We will be bringing a limited number of copies of our book A Child's Introduction to Ballet to sell and sign. Here is its description:

Eye-catching illustrations, engaging text and delightful musical selections on the accompanying 70-minute CD lead children ages 8 to 12 (and parents, too!) on an exciting and educational tour through the magical world of ballet. Illustrated in exquisite and colourful detail with over 100 original drawings and photographs, this package is a fun and exciting journey for children. Learn about the world's greatest ballets, dancers, choreographers and composers. Find out about the history of ballet, ballet steps and positions and read the wonderful stories of amazing ballets - as the stories unfold you can listen to pieces of music from some of them. Why do ballet dancers stand like ducks? How high can the greatest ballet dancers leap? What famous ballet company was originally made up of orphans? Learn all this and more in Child's Introduction to Ballet.

If you would like to have us sign copies of our book for students at your studio, we would encourage you to place an advance order now and have books shipped to you, especially if your dates are in February. This will guarantee that books will be available. We are traveling with a very limited number, and will not be able to restock on the road.

You can order individual copies on line. If you would like three or more, please contact us at the office, and we can ship them out to you at no shipping cost. You do not need to be on our itinerary to take advantage of the free shipping offer, however, your order must be placed no later than January 10. If you do not have our office number, e-mail me at

We'd also like to remind you of our new Dancer's Quote Book, lovingly compiled over several years. We will not have any copies of this book with us, so if you'd like copies for us to sign, please order through using the link to the right.