By Gail Thorell Schilling
Around Concord Magazine
By Gail Thorell Schilling
Around Concord Magazine
By Kathleen Mellen
The Daily Hampshire Gazette, Hampshire Life
December 11, 2014
[Amherst, Massachuets, USA] – Caleb Ballantine is still pretty young — 12 — but he already knows what he wants to do with his life: dance. He’s been dancing since he was just 2 or 3, he reports, when he was moved by music at a wedding. “I loved dance ever since,” the Amherst youngster says. Caleb comes by the passion honestly: His grandmother, Peggy Schwarz, is a professor emeritus of dance at the University of Massachusetts. But, dance isn’t his only means of communication: He’s an actor, a singer and a choreographer. And, oh, yes. He also does gymnastics.
Hampshire Life: Describe the work you are doing now.
Calab Ballantine: The dance techniques I am working on learning currently include hip-hop and ballet. I am in the Electric Boyz, a group of dancers at Pineapple Dance in Amherst that performs throughout the Valley and just had a show last month. I am also studying at Amherst Ballet, where I am focused on strength training, learning new moves and preparing for a spring performance.
H.L.: What were your early influences?
C.B.: I remember my first hip-hop class when I was about 4 years old. A few years later, I saw the musical “Billy Elliot” on Broadway with my grammy, Peggy Schwartz. I watched the dancer’s moves throughout the whole production and decided I wanted to be just like him. I started studying ballet and modern dance at that point in my life and have continued ever since.
HL: What do you think the audience sees when they watch you dance?
C.B. When I dance, the audience experiences a calm and exciting style at the same exact time.
H.L.: What is your creative process like when you are making up your own steps?
C.B.: I usually listen intently to music and my feet and my body start moving to the rhythm of the music, and I just dance. When I start to move, I feel like a bundle of energy inside that leads me to pop, move, bounce and fly throughout the stage, expressing my feelings and thoughts through my body.
H.L.: How do you know you’re on the right track?
C.B.: I know I am on the right track when the moves just come together and my body knows the whole dance or piece I am working on learning or creating.
H.L.: What do you do when you get stuck?
C.B.: I think about the move that comes ahead and try to reach for that movement and keep on going.
H.L.: What did you do recently that relates to your art?
C.B.: Most recently I performed in Pineapple Dance’s show at Amherst Regional High School. I was in two pieces: “If You Crump Stand Up” and “All I Do Is Win.”
H.L.: What are your dreams for your future?
C.B.: My dreams include going to dance school in New York City, performing on Broadway and at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. Whenever I go to Jacob’s Pillow the dancing is amazing and it feels like home. I am traveling to Israel in December and plan to visit the Susanne Dahlal Center for Dance in Tel Aviv. I think I was born to dance.
By Andrea Marks
Dance Teacher Magazine
December 25, 2014
[Monona, Wisconsin, USA] – Within the Wisconsin dance community, JoJean Retrum is known for her boys’ program. As director of the Monona Academy of Dance, she is particularly proud to have trained former American Ballet Theatre principal Ethan Stiefel when he was a child. And plenty of her other male students have gone on to professional careers, performing with companies from The Washington Ballet to the cross-dressing Trockaderos. “I’ve always had a lot of guys in my studio,” she says. “I don’t know what I do, but I have this knack for attracting boys.”
They could be drawn to the way she makes boys’ classes a challenge. Before barre, they hit the floor to burn their way through muscle-building push-ups and crunches. During regular barre exercises, Retrum drives home the difficulty of getting ballet right. She makes constant hands-on corrections, so no one gets away with slacking. “I get down on the floor and guide their tendus and dégagés and make them feel it,” she says.
Or, it could be the way she lets them soar during center combinations. One day, boys may try the Russian dance from The Nutcracker and the next, a routine from Newsies. “There isn’t a ballet company that does just ballet anymore,” she says, so incorporating jazz and musical theater skills into technique classes isn’t just a good time—it’s essential.
And she eases new dancers’ nerves. Whether a male begins as a toddler or a teen, she gives him the option to take beginner ballet in a boys-only class before introducing him to coed technique classes. Partnering starts as young as 11, but begins very simply: The boy puts his hands on the girl’s waist and practices tilting her side to side on two feet.
Retrum credits her late mother, who founded the studio in 1948, with teaching her to find every dancer’s potential. “She would help each individual child, and that’s something I try to do,” she says. “You don’t just let someone who’s struggling keep struggling. You give them extra help so they feel like they’re a part of it. Anyone can learn how to dance. You just have to work a lot harder with some of the kids.” DT
Pre-class routine: Retrum keeps it simple, warming herself up with pliés and relevés.
Footwear: Capezio Pedini
Weight training: “Sometimes I make students hold weights (or soup cans) so they realize they need to have strength in their backs to hold their arms up.”
To motivate young males: Retrum suggests Center Stage, starring her former student Ethan Stiefel.
Favorite inspirational read: Mao’s Last Dancer, by Li Cunxin. “What inspired me were the trials and tribulations he went through to achieve his dreams. I had him guest for my Nutcracker twice.”
Outside the studio: Retrum likes to unwind with a round of golf.
Copyright © 2014 DanceMedia, LLC
Mom, dad and 3 sons involved in Nutcracker production
December 18, 2014
[Saskatchewan, Canada] – For one Regina family The Nutcracker — the ballet production that is a holiday classic — has become a family affair. Julio, Shaylene, Victor, Lorenzo and Orlando Salazar have roles to play on stage and behind-the-scenes.
“We have a lot of fun and we can talk about it after,” Victor Salazar, 16, told CBC News. “It’s just a lot of family time together.”
His parents, Julio and Shaylene, have been involved in the show for several years. Then Victor earned a role in the ballet’s ensemble and — this year — his younger brothers also landed parts.
“It’s very special that we are able to do that,” Julio Salazar, the boys’ father, said. “I think as parents we would like to have that connection with our kids in some manner during our relationships. So hopefully this is something that we can some day look back on and say those are some of the most special moments.”
While the Salazar boys and their father have on-stage roles, Shaylene Salazar is part of the production’s behind-the-scenes team.
“Having fun, that’s really the main thing of this production,” Lorenzo Salazar, 13, said. “I just love it. I can’t really describe it.”
This season’s Nutcracker ballet was presented at the Conexus Arts Centre in Regina.
Copyright © CBC 2014
City Ballet – Season 2 Episode 8
November 3, 2014
After a serious injury and hiatus, Chase Finlay talks about his determination and perseverance to return to the NYCB. Chase reveals how his family’s strong support and his impressive inroads helped him rise up and become the youngest principal dancer in the company.
By Kayla Dalrymple
The Gisborne Herald
December 15, 2014
[Gisborne, New Zealand] – Austin Rice could not believe his eyes when he opened a letter last week to find he had gained a place in the country’s most prestigious ballet programme — only the third from Gisborne to do so this century.
At 12 years old, Austin had been dancing for only three years this October, when he was selected for the New Zealand School of Dance Junior Associate Programme.
Only 60 dancers are a part of the programme at any one time across junior to senior levels. The number granted entry into the programme from annual nationwide auditions varies, depending on the amount of senior dancers graduating. There are rarely more than 10 spots available each year.
Gisborne dancers Alana Sargent and Lana Phillips went on to attend the NZ School of Dance after graduating from the associate programme. Sargent now dances for the Sydney Dance Company and Phillips for Footnote New Zealand Dance.
Austin says he understands how special the programme is. “It is quite a privilege. This was some people’s third year auditioning and this was only my first. It really is an honour.”
Austin has been dancing ballet for three years with Nadine Proctor at the Nadine Antoinette School of Dance. He was named dancer of the year at the studio’s end-of-year recital yesterday. However, his dancing background has its origins at Dancefit Studios with choreographer Tessa Beattie.
“I love hiphop and ballet. I originally started ballet because I was told it would help improve my hiphop dancing and I really did not expect to love it so much. Nadine and Tessa have both helped me a lot and are both really good role models,” says Austin.
His favourite form of ballet is classical dance, although he admits he needs to work on his flexibility. “I love ballet. It is a way to express yourself and it makes you feel free.”
Austin’s peer group have all been “fine” with his interest in ballet. “All of my friends have been really supportive. There is maybe one or two people at school who do not like it and think ballet is just for girls — but it does not bother me.”
Austin’s mother Heidi Rice says some negativity was to be expected.“It is his dream, not theirs. We are just really excited for him to be a part of the programme.”
Mrs Rice says the artistic gene runs in the family.“Trevor, my husband and Austin’s dad, sings and I have a background in theatre. We have a Nana and a cousin who were national champions for tap and highland dancing.”
Ballet and hiphop classes finished last week for the summer break, which has left Austin’s dance-packed schedule suddenly empty.
But he will not have long to wait until he is busy again. As part of the associate programme, he will be expected to attend classes with the Royal New Zealand Ballet master classes in Auckland and the NZ School of Dance Winter Dance School next year — as well as classes specifically reserved for the associate programme.
The Rices will also journey to Sydney for the new year for Austin to attend a boys’ ballet course.“He is 13 on December 28 and then we leave for Sydney. He is really excited about it, as there are not many male dancers in Gisborne.
“We are so proud of him. It really is amazing what he has achieved in such a short time,” says Mrs Rice.
The associate programme generally extends until participants graduate from high school and provides advantageous preparation for full-time dance training — as well as experience with the New Zealand School of Dance.
Austin will start high school here in Gisborne next year. He “definitely” plans to attend the school of dance in Wellington in the future.
© Copyright 2014 The Gisborne Herald
By Linda Lamm English
December 12, 2014
[Hampton Roads, Virginia, USA] – Fierce mice battling gingerbread soldiers? A kingdom ruled by a Sugar Plum Fairy? Dancing dolls? Yes, it’s “The Nutcracker,” the famous ballet set to classical music and performed around the world.
This holiday season, two local classmates will be performing as lead dancers in Ballet Virginia International’s production of the beloved Christmas production. Presented at the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts in Virginia Beach, it will feature Jayla Coco as Clara Stahlbaum and Noah Sych as her brother, Fritz. Both are fifth-graders at E.W. Chittum Elementary School in Western Branch.
Musicians as well as dancers, Jayla plays the violin and Noah plays the viola. They are both on the principal’s list, which is “better than the honor roll.”
According to Lisa McCarty, children’s director for the ballet company, “Dancers learn time management.” They have to. Sessions at the studio average four days a week. Sandwiched in between are school, homework “and, hopefully, a little time to be a kid,” Jayla’s mother, Lydia Coco, said.
She is glad that her daughter loves ballet, but said even if Jayla chooses not to become a professional dancer, ballet is helpful because it instills discipline.
Noah’s parents, Joe and Lisa Sych, make the frequent trips from their Western Branch home to BVI dance studio in Norfolk because their son enjoys it so much.
“He has such a passion for it,” Lisa said.
“And the arts are important,” Joe added.
The children’s fervor for dance may be inherited. Jayla’s two older sisters have also danced the part of Clara. Her mother was once a principal dancer for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Now she teaches ballet and modern dance to BVI students, including her own three “bunhead” daughters. Even Jayla’s father, Joe Coco, will be dancing in the opening scene of the ballet’s Christmas Eve party.
Noah said he has wanted to dance in “The Nutcracker” since his now-college-age sister performed in it as a child with the Moscow Ballet in Virginia Beach. Born into a family of athletes, Noah considers dancing to be athletic. He inherited his grandfather’s musicality, which has helped with both the viola and dance, although he claims to be “not very good at modern.”
In years past, he and Jayla have had lesser “Nutcracker” parts. The ballet company’s artistic directors, Janina Bove and Susan Lownsbury Long, explained that the pair was chosen for more important roles this year because of their dedication to dance and their excellent acting abilities.
Though the talent may be inherent, it requires devotion to be successful. Why do it, when other kids enjoy more free time and less hard work? “It’s the satisfaction of performing for other people, making them happy,” Noah said. “It’s fun,” Jayla said. “I’m always dancing, even at home. It makes me happy.”
[The] two look forward to being in costume, which will make them feel more like their characters. They also are anticipating dancing to the live music of Symphonicity, Virginia Beach’s symphony orchestra, rather than the tapes they use in rehearsal.
There will be a little nervousness before each performance begins, but once they get started, it will go away. Afterward, Jayla said she will feel good “unless I mess up.” Noah said he will just think, “I made it through!”
Copyright 2014 The Virginian-Pilot
By Tanya Rivero
The Wall Street Journal
December 12, 2014
[New York City, New York, USA] – “George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker” has been one of New York’s beloved annual Christmas traditions since 1954 when the New York City Ballet first produced the work.
There are 32 roles for boys in two casts of the ballet company’s production. Yet ever since that inaugural production of the classic, girls have had to fill many of those roles, their hair fastened tightly beneath their caps.
In more recent years, the dearth of boys for male roles has eased.
This season, all the roles intended for boys are being danced by boys, and auditions have gotten more competitive as interest has grown. And the ballet company’s affiliated school, the School of American Ballet, which offers free tuition to boys, has seen a jump in enrollment in recent years.
“A wonderful problem,” says Dena Abergel, City Ballet’s children’s ballet master, who casts and rehearses the Nutcracker children. “It’s definitely more competitive, which can be especially good for boys.”
Here’s a look at the changing face of the iconic production.
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