Model Kendall Jenner attempting to stand en pointe
Kendall Jenner has always been my favorite member of the Kardashian-Jenner clan. I watch Keeping Up with the Kardashians more often than I'd like to admit, and I have to say I believe that Kendall is a sweet person and a talented model. However, when this photo popped up on my Instagram feed today, I couldn't stop cringing at it. She most likely has no ballet training, so she doesn't realize the error of her ways, but as a ballet dancer my attention is drawn away from her gorgeous face and drawn towards her feet. She is attempting to stand en pointe (which could have caused her SERIOUS injury because she is untrained) and her feet are not nearly pushed over on the box enough. It pains me to look at this because not only am I saddened by how ballet is being represented in the media, but I know how much it hurts when you fall off the box like that so I can't even imagine how much her feet must be killing her, especially because she isn't used to standing like that. This photo is the perfect example of how ballet pops up in mainstream media. People can say all they want about how ballet is "lame" and "outdated", but it's time to accept reality... if you are not already a ballet dancer, you probably want to be one, even if you don't know it. Don't believe me? Let's take a look at how ballet has influenced fashion over the years...
Romantic style tutus have seen in ballet since the early nineteenth century. The most iconic use of these costumes is in the ballet Giselle. The majority of the costumes hanging in my closet are these kinds of ballet costumes. When I was a kid, I would show people pictures of my dance costumes and they thought they were over the top. A few years ago, I started noticing ballet like tutus popping up in stores like Forever 21. While it still takes a daring person to wear a tutu skirt like the one pictured below, these common ballerina inspired skirts show that the fashion industry is stealing ideas from centuries old ballet costumes.
A leotard has become part of my daily wardrobe. I can't tell you how non-dance classes I go to in a leotard and tights because as a dance major, I have a technique class every day and I've gotten to the point where I'm way too lazy to change outfits in between classes. Leotards are a necessary evil for ballet dancers. It can be painful to look at every little kink in your body in the mirror; it really is IMPOSSIBLE to hide any imperfection when all you're wearing is a leotard and tights. On the flip side, leotards help both you and your instructor see where you're making mistakes in your technique. It's much easier to see if my hips are properly rotated when they're not being covered by shorts, leggings, etc. Ballet dancers have created a facade that leotards are our favorite things to wear so much in fact that fashion has decided to steal our look and sell leotards like the ones pictured below.
While buns have been a hairstyle both in ballet and the non-dance world for quite some time now, there's no denying there is a certain look to a ballet bun. In second grade, my dad would drive me to dance after school and at that age neither I knew how to do a bun nor did my dad (he still doesn't, but I've since learned). My mom would put my hair up in a tight, neat bun before I went to school so it would be ready for when I went to ballet class. Wearing my hair in a ballet bun to school was always embarrassing for me. It was a hairstyle most girls in my class never wore so I always felt like I stuck out. Times have changed since I was 7 years old. Not only have I stopped caring about where I wear a bun, but ballet buns have become something everyone wants to wear. This trend started with the sock bun look becoming mainstream when stores like Claire's started selling hair donuts. Now you'll see ballet buns outside the dance studio- everywhere from the workplace to the red carpet.
This is one of the trends that continues to baffle me. After a show during my childhood years of performing, the first thing my cast mates and I did was wipe off our red lipstick because we were embarrassed to go out in public with red lips. Wearing red lips looked great on stage, but you'd get the strangest stares if you went out to dinner with them afterwards. In high school, wearing red lips to a school dance or even on a dress down day with the right outfit was a common occurrence. Red lipstick has come into style in the past few years. Red lips are all over the red carpet, too.
Everything down to our shoes have been copied by the fashion industry. Both ballet slippers and pointe shoes have been imitated on the runway and in affordable stores. Bloch, a brand of dance wear, even has its own collection of ballet flats. Take a look at the similarities between dance shoes and every day shoes.
This next one is by far my favorite rip off of all time. While they're definitely not seen in mainstream fashion, these pointe shoe inspired heels are fashion's last ditch effort to try and copy ballet. The photo speaks for itself.
High heels designed by Christian Louboutin
Photo from Pinterest.com
Let's make one thing clear: I am not offended by fashion imitating ballet in any way. What I am offended by is the girl that will tell me ballet is stupid, boring, lame, etc. and says this while wearing red lips, a donut bun, and a ridiculously poofy skirt. If fashion wants to imitate my art form, it has every right to. But it DOESN'T have the right to mock it or misrepresent it. Kendall Jenner is a beautiful model and she probably didn't even know how poorly she was representing ballet when she did that photo shoot. Long story short, someone should have consulted an actual ballet dancer beforehand. All I ask is that non-dancers respect ballet for the beautiful art form it is, and praise it with these fashion inspirations, not mock it or misrepresent it.
Photos of Kendall Jenner originally published in Vogue
and why all ballet dancers should experience it at some point in their dance career
Me as Clara for Bridgewater State University's production
The Nutcracker is by far the most popular ballet in the mainstream world today. If you ask the general population what ballet(s) they have seen on stage, they're most likely going to tell you Nutcracker...and that's about it. While I find it unfortunate that other beautiful productions are often overlooked and I am an advocate for exposing both dancers and non-dancers to less popular shows, Nutcracker will always be my guilty pleasure. Anyone who is a Nutcracker-aholic like myself knows the feeling of excitement when auditions roll around and how much anticipation there is for opening night. Just like athletes on sports teams have seasons, dancers have seasons of their own...the next one coming up being Nutcracker season! Nutcracker has been a part of my life since I was 6 years old and I have been in twelve productions and one production of excerpts from the full show since. I have danced many roles in the show and there are still many more I would love to dance. Nutcracker has given me some of my best dance memories and ballet dancers really benefit from being in productions like this. Here's why I think The Nutcracker is so important to the dance world, and why all dancers should experience is at least once!
Nutcracker is a bridge between the dance world and the rest of the world
Nutcracker is a holiday tradition. There wouldn't be a million and one decorative nutcrackers for sale during Christmas season if it wasn't. Ballet companies typically don't have a problem selling tickets to Nutcracker because so many people see it as tradition. It's great that a ballet can weave its way into the regular world because ballet is an important art form and people are being exposed to it through Nutcracker. The more people that fall in love with ballet, the longer the art form can live on, so it's crucial that non-dancers love ballet as much as we do!
Nutcracker is dance theatre
Ballet is a form of dance theatre, meaning that there is acting and stagecraft involved in the production, not just choreography. Many interpretations of nutcracker are out there, so it's fun to see different variations of the same classic story brought to life on stage. Dance theatre is a way to learn how to tell a story through dance, and Nutcracker is a great place to start. There are so many different characters in Nutcracker and you learn how to bring each one to life. Speaking of which...
You can work your way up
Nutcracker is great because the casting demands a wide age range (I was first in it when I was 6) and there are corps, intermediate, and principal roles for both genders. There's few things more exciting than finding out you've gotten a more advanced role after working you way up through the ranks over the years. The first time I got the be an angel was so exciting, and the first time I danced Nutcracker en pointe was even better. It's a way to feel accomplished and show how much you've improved over the years. It's also a lot of fun to get to dance many different roles throughout your dance career.
Nutcracker is literally the most magical thing to ever exist (well besides Harry Potter, true love, Santa, and witchcraft). It's incredible to see a little toy nutcracker come to life and then turn into a handsome prince on stage. And we can't forget how stunning it is to see Clara and the Snow Queen dance through a blizzard. There are few things that make Christmas seem more magical than this show, and it's so exciting to get to be a part of it. Not only do you put a smile on the audience members' faces, but you really feel like you're a part of the magic when you're bringing the story to life.
When you dance your entire life, you don't always get to dance in the same way as the year before because the rest of your life is changing. You grow to miss recitals, dance camps, and seeing your dance friends every night once you grow up and go to college. Even though I dance every day at school, it's nice to be able to come home on the weekends and rehearse for Nutcracker every Sunday. My world is constantly changing and I am constantly getting new and different opportunities to dance, but I can still count on there being a Nutcracker to audition for every year. Although I promised my mother I would stop doing Nutcrackers when I finally make it in to waltz of the flowers (my family is very supportive and will sit through anything, but I've gotten multiple, mostly as jokes, requests to not ask them to see another nutcracker), I have a feeling I will be doing Nutcrackers until I die.
The music is iconic
Unless you live under a rock, you have heard at least one of these four Nutcracker songs: the children's march, dance of the sugar plum fairy, the waltz of the flowers, or the marzipan music. The music is iconic and a lot of fun to listen to. The music itself tells a story on its own, and its so much fun to get to bring that beautiful music to life through dance. Once you've danced to it, you will find yourself playing it in your car and humming it around the house at all times of year. It becomes ingrained in your soul- and this is not a bad thing!
The bonds you make can't be broken
The friendships you make doing a show like this are strong ones. The first show I ever danced with Casey (reference my PHOTO GALLERY above if you're curious as to who she is) was Nutcracker and we've been friends ever since. It's fun going through Nutcracker season with your friends every year. I remember we'd get excited and nervous for auditions, anxiously await casting, call each other when we got our parts and talk endlessly about what costumes we hoped we'd get to wear, rehearse our dances together, countdown the days till the show, fool around backstage, and finally, put on a show we'd never forget. It's also cool when you're in a production that has open auditions, because not only does this open the doors to new talent, but to new friendships. From this you get to work with dancers that come from different backgrounds than you and you can start new and exciting friendships with them.
Nutcracker dreams coming true are the best kinds of dreams that can come true
Although I have had my fair share of Nutcracker dreams not coming true, I will say it was a happy day when my ballet teacher at BSU told me we were doing excerpts from The Nutcracker and I was going to be Clara. Clara was the biggest dream I had as a child and into my teen years, and I'd always wanted to experience that moment when she receives her toy nutcracker for the first time. Some of my lesser but still exciting Nutcracker dreams that have come true over the years were being cast as an angel (and later a lead angel), a mouse (in my friend group as a child, you were "cool" if you got to be a mouse because the mice always did these cool jumps and tricks), a girl in the party scene, portraying Clara's younger brother, Fritz (in some productions the male child characters are portrayed by girls because many dance schools don't have male students, so I swear this isn't as weird as it may sound) and getting to blow a trumpet in my friend's face, and dancing a duet with Casey as the military dolls.
It makes the hard hours of technique classes worth it
Let's face it: everyone dreads going to ballet class now and then. Doing the same barre combinations and floor routines after a while can get a little frustrating, especially when you feel like everything you're working for is in the distant future. Nutcracker is a way to ensure that every year you will have something to strive for and all of that hard work will pay off on stage. It is also a good way to motivate students to push themselves in class. I remember working my hardest during summer ballet classes because I wanted to prepare myself for Nutcracker auditions. There was also a role I was striving for and even if I didn't get it, I had pushed myself to become a better dancer on my quest to obtain it. I think that participating in all of the ballets I did as a child made me a better dancer because they gave me something to work for. As a kid, it's hard to see the end goal, but when you work your way up into more advanced roles and choreography in a show you are learning how hard work pays off. Nutcracker is also a great way to motivate young dancers because they usually work closely with more experienced dancers, so they get a first look at what they can be if they work hard and don't give up.
Last but not least (and this might sound petty)... people will think you're cool if you say you're in The Nutcracker
I'm not one to advise others to do things just because it sounds cool but honestly, it is the cherry on top to get to tell people you're in such an iconic show. The majority of people will know what you're talking about, even if they don't know what you mean when you tell them you're a dancing candy cane. They will probably think you're like a "real ballerina" or "serious dancer" or something and respect you for it. You may even have the opportunity to exaggerate how big of a deal being in Nutcracker actually is...and there's no harm in that ;)
Nutcracker is something that has been a part of my life for a very long time and I'm very grateful that it still is. I've been having dreams about dancing different roles the past few nights and I'm so excited for Nutcracker season to start. Many of my best ballet memories have come from dancing in Nutcracker. During my Christmas break, Casey and I went on vacation to Disney World and one of the stores was playing the children's march so we broke into the choreography we remembered from years ago. The nutcracker doll I have from when I was Clara is currently sitting in my living room. My friends and I from all over the place talk about the productions we're auditioning for all the time. I have a Nutcracker CD in my car, and the book of photos from a New York City ballet production I have that I got as a present from my very first Nutcracker lives next to my bed at home. Every time I question why I love ballet and why I'm still dancing (because yes, we all have those nights), I look through that book and find myself an answer. The magic of Nutcracker is what first made me fall in love with ballet, as it did to many ballet dancers, so I encourage you all to experience it at least once. No matter what role you're cast in or how big the production is, you may fall in love with the show like I did and add a new holiday tradition to your Christmas to do list. I don't know how many times I can say that Nutcracker is awesome, it is the most awesome thing ever, and you should be awesome and give it a chance.
Did I mention I love The Nutcracker?
If anyone in the Lawrence, Massachusetts area (or within driving distance) is interested in dancing in a production of The Nutcracker, I am auditioning for Northeast Dance Center's production next week! I did this production for the first time last year and absolutely loved the experience. You can go to NDC's website for more information.
The Sugar Plum Fairy and the Angels in Northeast Dance Center's The Nutcracker 2015
Photo Credits Natural Expressions Photography
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News & Events
9/18 Follow my new Instagram just for my dance things!
12/23 I was one of NDEO's Guest Bloggers this year! Read "Teaching is a Vocation. Not a Fallback" on their Behind the Curtain Blog!
9/27 I will be presenting my research at the National Dance Education Organization National Conference next week! See my research project by clicking the button below!
4/15 While working on PMA's production of The Addams Family, I got to combine my two favorite styles of dance (ballet and musical theatre) for "The Moon and Me"! Watch my talented students dance by clicking the button below!
2/20 I am choreographing PMA Theatre Guild's Production of The Addams Family! Come see these amazing high school students perform at Presentation of Mary Academy in Methuen, MA April 13 & 14! Tickets available at the door.
2/20 I am stage managing BSU's Dance Kaleidoscope this year! Show dates are March 29-31 at Bridgewater State University in Bridgewater, MA. Come see this student choreography showcase!
11/5 I will once again be dancing in a BSUDC concert! Tickets to WinterDance are now available!
8/24 NDEO's National Honor Society for Dance Arts has published one of my articles in their newsletter! Read an updated version of "Audition Advice" here:
5/16 Interested in learning about movement concepts? Visit Becca's new Educational Dance website!
5/8 BSU Dance Company's Dance Kaleidoscope 2017 is now on Youtube! You can watch my performances by visiting the VIDEOS page!
4/23 I recently performed for the residents of Allerton House in Hingham, MA! You can watch part of my performance here!
Amesbury Children's Theatre presents...James and the Giant Peach Jr, featuring choreography by me! Click for tickets!
2/8 My piece "Barefoot" is now available to watch online! Click to watch!
2/5 Happy to say I have been cast in BSU Dance Company's Spring concert Dance Kaleidoscope! I will be dancing in 3 faculty choreographed pieces, including excerpts from The Sleeping Beauty in which I will be dancing the role of Lilac Fairy! Show dates are March 31-April 1 at Bridgewater State University.
Click the button for more info!
1/15 Ballet with Becca is now on Facebook! Click to visit the page, and be sure to like it while you're there!
1/14 I am happy to say I will be attending artEmotion's summer intensive in June! I will be dancing in the one week artEmotion Adult Program. If anyone would like to join or audition for any other artEmotion program, visit their website!