Last night, I was lucky enough to see Giselle, performed by the exquisite Paris Opera Ballet. It was certainly a treat, to say the least. But no matter who's performing, I just love that ballet. It's got one of the best stories—boy loves girl; girl meets another boy; girl falls in love; boy dupes girl; girl dies; girl joins band of zombie women who murder first boy; girl saves the second lying and cheating boy. I mean, does it get more twisted?

 

But by the end of the Peasant Pas de Deux my mind began to wander. We're getting down to the wire before the Olympics, people, and I'm in competition mode. It's USA vs. them. American Ballet Theatre performed Giselle this spring (not to mention all the other American companies that include it in their rep); who takes home the gold?

 

+1, France: One point to the Paris Opera for their hunky Hilarion, played by Yann Saïz. Wowza. This is not to say that ABT or NYCB are lacking good looking dancers in their rosters, but as my coworker put it, if Giselle had just chosen the better looking guy, the rest could have been avoided. Shoulda, coulda, woulda.

 

+2, USA: Miming. I don't know what the heck anyone in the ballet was miming about last night. There was a lot of pointing and a lot of the "let's dance" move...and that's about it. The only mime I could understand was Hilarion's—and he didn't even do much, it was all in his eyes. But the nurse? Forget about it. Watching her big scene I could have sworn she acted out, "If you dance with boys, you will die." I got nothing about a vision or Giselle's weak heart. At one moment, she touched Giselle's stomach. Was she pregnant? A hernia? We'll never know. **

 

+1, France: Arabesque balances. Giselle, played by étoile Clairemarie Osta, performed the most astounding arabesques I've ever seen. (Her acting was pretty awesome, too; luckily none of it mime.) She looked as though she could perch up there for hours.

 

–1, France: Partnering. I've yet to see an American Albrecht almost drop Giselle. I'm looking at you, étoile Nicolas Le Riche.

 

–1, USA: Corps de ballet synchronization. France has us beat on this one. It may be that all the young women come from the same school and are thus more in sync, but their precise timing and uniformity of limbs was impeccable. Not one arabesque higher than the other, no arms out of place—they were truly a zombie army, the Willi version of the Rockettes.

 

+1, USA: Penché arabesques. I'm rooting for the showiness of a six o'clock penché—USA! USA! USA! Depending on which leg was in the air, the French Giselle and Myrtha reached about 6:13 or 5:48. They were beautiful nevertheless...but I want punctuality.

 

+1, USA: Diversity. This is a reach, because really, how diverse are these New York City-based ballet companies? If NYC is truly a melting pot of nationalities and cultures, you'd never know it from looking onstage. But I'll hand it to the USA in comparison to the French.

 

And finally:

–2, USA: Attendance. Sold out audiences for these Paris Opera Ballet shows. I understand it's the first time the company has been here in 16 years; but where are all these patrons for a weeknight New York City Ballet performance? ABT drew big crowds for their Giselle, but when compelling new work is being presented—for either NY company—where are the people? I often attend the ballet on weeknights, and on any other Thursday night, there are MANY empty seats. So I'm taking away USA's win for poor audience attendance and a lack of support for American artists. What makes the Paris Opera Ballet so special? Maybe the thought is we can always come back to see American companies, they're based here and they'll always be here. Well, I've got news: They can go away. Look at the many orchestras that have shut down as a result of poor audience attendance. It's not just that the government doesn't support the arts enough—it's us not being as supportive as we can.

 

Guess it's a draw. We can fix that.

 

 

 

**Mime is a HUGE part of Giselle. When Pacific Northwest Ballet used primary sources—that date back to 1841—to restage the Romantic ballet, it was not easy for the dancers. Click here to read about the reconstruction.

 

 

Photo of Paris Opera Ballet, Giselle, by Sébastien Mathé.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Conversation
Dance Teachers Trending
Photo courtesy of Hightower

The beloved "So You Think You Can Dance" alum and former Emmy-nominated "Dancing with the Stars" pro Chelsie Hightower discovered her passion for ballroom at a young age. She showed a natural ability for the Latin style, but she mastered the necessary versatility by studying jazz, ballet and other forms of dance. "Every style of dance builds on each other," she says, "and the more music you're exposed to, the more your rhythm and coordination is built."

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by Harlequin Floors
Burklyn Ballet, Courtesy Harlequin

Whether you're putting on a pair of pointe shoes, buckling your ballroom stilettos or lacing up your favorite high tops, the floor you're on can make or break your dancing. But with issues like sticking or slipping and a variety of frictions suitable to different dance steps and styles, it can be confusing to know which floor will work best for you.

No matter what your needs are, Harlequin Floors has your back, or rather, your feet. With 11 different marley vinyl floors available in a range of colors, Harlequin has options for every setting and dance style. We rounded up six of their most popular and versatile floors:

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Photo courtesy of Koelliker

Sick of doing the same old stuff in technique class? Needing some across-the-floor combo inspiration? We caught up with three teachers from different areas of the country to bring you some of their favorite material for their day-to-day classes.

You're welcome!

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by Insure Fitness
AdobeStock, Courtesy Insure Fitness Group

As a teacher at a studio, you've more than likely developed long-lasting relationships with some of your students and parents. The idea that you could be sued by one of them might seem impossible to imagine, but Insure Fitness Group's Gianna Michalsen warns against relaxing into that mindset. "People say, 'Why do I need insurance? I've been working with these people for 10 years—we're friends,'" she says. "But no one ever takes into account how bad an injury can be. Despite how good your relationship is, people will sue you because of the toll an injury takes on their life."

You'll benefit most from an insurance policy that caters to the specifics of teaching dance at one or several studios. Here's what to look for:

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer Health
Thinkstock

Q: I have a very flexible spine and torso. My teachers tell me to use this flexibility during cambrés and port de bras, but when I do, I feel pain—mostly in my lower back. What should I change so I don't end up with back problems?

Keep reading... Show less
Studio Success with Just for Kix
Bill Johnson, Courtesy Just for Kix

Running a dance studio is a feat in itself. But adding a competition team into the mix brings a whole new set of challenges. Not only are you focusing on giving your dancers the best training possible, but you're navigating the fast-paced competition and convention circuit. Winning is one goal, but you also want to create an environment that's fun, educational and inspiring for young artists. We asked Cindy Clough, executive director of Just For Kix and a studio owner with over 40 years of experience, for her advice on building a healthy dance team culture:

Keep reading... Show less
Studio Owners
Getty Images

If you're a studio owner, the thought of raising your rates most likely makes you cringe. Despite ever-increasing overhead expenses you can't avoid—rent, salaries, insurance—you're probably wary of alienating your customers, losing students or inviting confrontation if you increase the price of your tuition or registration and recital fees. DT spoke with three veteran studio owners who suggest it's time to get past that. Here's how to give your business the revenue boost it needs and the value justification it (and you) deserve.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by World Class Vacations
David Galindo Photography

New York City is a dream destination for many dancers. However aspiring Broadway stars don't have to wait until they're pros to experience all the city has to offer. With Dance the World Broadway, students can get a taste of the Big Apple—plus hone their dance skills and make lasting memories.

Here's why Dance the World Broadway is the best way for students to experience NYC:

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teachers Trending
Margie Gillis (left); photo by Kyle Froman

Margie Gillis dances the human experience. Undulating naked in a field of billowing grass in Lessons from Nature 4, or whirling in a sweep of lilac fabric in her signature work Slipstream, her movement is free of flashy technique and tricks, but driven and defined by emotion. "There's a central philosophy in my work about what the experience of being human is," says Gillis, whose movement style is an alchemy of Isadora Duncan's uninhibited self-expression and Paul Taylor's musicality, blended with elements of dance theater into something utterly unique and immediately accessible. "I want an authenticity," she says. "I want to touch my audiences profoundly and deeply."

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Getty Images

Teaching arabesque can be a challenge for educators and students alike. Differences in body types, flexibility and strength can leave dancers feeling dejected about the possibility of improving this essential position.

To help each of us in our quest for establishing beautiful arabesques in our students without bringing them to tears, we caught up with University of Utah ballet teacher Jennie Creer-King. After her professional career dancing with Ballet West and Oregon Ballet Theater and her years of teaching at the studio and college levels, she's become a bit of an arabesque expert.

Here she shares five important tips for increasing the height of your students' arabesques.

Keep reading... Show less
Just for fun
Via Instagram

Happy Father's Day to all of the dance dads in the world! Whether you're professional dancers, dance teachers, dance directors or simply just dance supporters, you are a key ingredient to what makes the dance world such a happy, thriving place, and we love you!

To celebrate, here are our four favorite Instagram dance dads. Prepare to say "Awwwwwwwweeeeeee!!!!!!"

You're welcome!

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Photo by Jennifer Kleinman, courtesy of Danell Hathaway

It's high school dance concert season, which means a lot of you K–12 teachers are likely feeling a bit overwhelmed. The long nights of editing music, rounding up costumes and printing programs are upon you, and we salute you. You do great work, and if you just hang on a little while longer, you'll be able to bathe in the applause that comes after the final Saturday night curtain.

To give you a bit of inspiration for your upcoming performances, we talked with Olympus High School dance teacher Danell Hathaway, who just wrapped her school's latest dance company concert. The Salt Lake City–based K–12 teacher shares her six pieces of advice for knocking your show out of the park.

Keep reading... Show less

mailbox

Get DanceTeacher in your inbox