Tours en l'air organizes ballet-themed escorted holidays to see the best companies perform great ballets in beautiful places. You can join a trip from anywhere. A highly knowledgeable balletomane who has enjoyed 100s of performances in over 20 cities around the world,I speak English, French, and German, and am a Travel Industry Council of Ontario certified Travel Counsellor. I also teach ballet appreciation courses. Twitter: @thewordlady Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/katherine.barber.37
Tours en l'air Ballet Holidays are offered in partnership with CWT Victor Travel, 101 - 8800 Dufferin Street, Concord, ON L4K 0C5, 416-736-6010, TICO # 1892647

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Friday, December 10, 2010

Paris, ballet, and chocolate

What could possibly be better than ballet?
How about ballet and Belgian chocolate? (Or Belgian beer if you are more inclined that way).
And Paris in the springtime and tulips in Holland...
All this and more in our fabulous "Paris and the Low Countries in Tulip Time" trip, April 23 to May 4. See three of Europe's distinguished ballet companies performing the repertoire with which they are most identified:
Paris Opera Ballet, widely considered one of the world's top 5 ballet companies, performing the choreography of Rudolf Nureyev, who was their artistic director for several years, in his version of Romeo and Juliet.
The Royal Ballet of Flanders performing William Forsythe's Artifact. Since former Stuttgart and Frankfurt Ballet dancer Kathryn Bennetts took over as artistic director 6 years ago, Belgium's only classical ballet company has really made its mark, especially with its interpretations of her mentor Forsythe. Ms. Bennett has also personally granted us permission to watch company class.
Dutch National Ballet performing an evening of works by the Dutch master choreographer, Hans van Manen.
Please note that places are limited and there has been a lot of interest in this trip, so don't delay in signing up by contacting me for a registration form. DEADLINE is 20 December. Here is the itinerary:
CWT VICTOR TRAVEL
101 - 8800 Dufferin Street, Concord, ON L4K 0C5
TICO Ontario registration #1892647
presents
Tours en l'air
Ballet Holidays
escorted by
Canada's Word Lady, Katherine Barber
in support of The National Ballet of Canada

Paris and the Low Countries in Tulip Time
23 April – 4 May 2011

12 days, 11 nights, 4 ballet performances

A ballet-packed Easter week of neo-classical and contemporary masterpieces performed by Paris Opera Ballet, Royal Ballet of Flanders, and Dutch National Ballet

Sat. 23 April: PARIS
Arrive Paris; check in to 3-star Molière Hotel, near the Opéra Garnier.

Sun. 24 April: PARIS
Evening: Welcome 3-course dinner with wine at a traditional Parisian restaurant

Mon. 25 April: PARIS
Day at leisure. Evening: Paris Opera Ballet, Romeo and Juliet (Nureyev)

Tues. 26 April: PARIS
Afternoon: Private ballet-themed guided tour of the Paris Opera (Garnier). Evening: Paris Opera Ballet, House of Bernarda, A Kind of... (Ek)

Wed. 27 April: PARIS At leisure

Thurs. 28 April: PARIS - ANTWERP
Morning: check out of hotel. Daytime at leisure. Evening: Transfer to Gare du Nord for express train to Antwerp (2 hrs). Check in to 4-star Radisson Blu Astrid hotel.

Fri. 29 April: ANTWERP
At leisure: Visit Antwerp's beautiful Gothic cathedral, diamond district, magnificent guild houses on the market square, the house of Rubens, or the charming shops in the historic city centre. Or stay in and watch the Royal Wedding!

Sat. 30 April: ANTWERP - BRUSSELS
Daytime at leisure. Take the train (40 mins.) at your convenience to Brussels. Evening: Royal Ballet of Flanders, Artifact (Forsythe) in Brussels. Return by private coach directly from theatre to hotel.

Sun. 1 May: BRUGES
Day trip by private luxury coach to the beautiful medieval city of Bruges (UNESCO World Heritage site), with private guide.

Mon. 2 May: ANTWERP
Morning: Watch Royal Ballet of Flanders company class. Rest of day at leisure.

Tues. 3 May: KEUKENHOF - EINDHOVEN
Late morning: our private luxury coach transports you to the Keukenhof garden in Holland, a paradise of spring flowers in bloom, where you have a private guided tour. Late afternoon: private transfer to Eindhoven, Holland, for a three-course dinner before the evening performance of Dutch National Ballet: Grosse Fuge, Solo, Concertante, Adagio Hammerklavier (all van Manen). After the performance, the coach returns you to the hotel in Antwerp.

Wed. 4 May
Check out of hotel and depart Antwerp.

GROUP SIZE LIMITED! DON'T DELAY IN SIGNING UP

Total Package CA$3,699 per person based on double occupancy

Single supplement: CA$1400

All prices valid till 20 December 2010

REGISTRATION AND DEPOSIT DUE DATE: 20 DECEMBER 2010

LAND-ONLY PACKAGE allows you the flexibility of arranging travel from your most convenient departure point, on the dates and times you prefer. Victor Travel's experienced agents will be happy to assist you. Group airfare with private transfers from Paris Charles de Gaulle and to Brussels airport ($1099) is available for Toronto departure (minimum 10 passengers).

Package price includes:

5 nights twin share accommodation in the centrally located 3-star Molière Hotel in Paris and 6 nights in the 4-star Radisson Blu Astrid Hotel in Antwerp

(travellers wishing to share will be put in touch with one another)

Premium orchestra seats for 4 ballets

Royal Ballet of Flanders company class

Guided tour of the Paris Opera (Garnier)

Transfer from hotel to train station in Paris

Coach class train fare Paris to Antwerp

Day excursion by luxury coach to Bruges, with private guide, canal boat ride, and museum admission

Day excursion by luxury coach to Keukenhof and Eindhoven, with private guided tour of the Keukenhof Garden

Two 3-course dinners

Intermission refreshment in Eindhoven

Ballet enrichment program: ballet notes and informal pre-performance talks and post-performance reviews with tour leader

Tax-receiptable donation of CA$250 to The National Ballet of Canada

All taxes, service fees, and surcharges

Not included:

Airfare

Meals and transfers not specifically mentioned in this itinerary

Train fare from Antwerp to Brussels

Beverages with meals

Items of a personal nature, e.g. phone calls

Cancellation and hospital/medical insurance


Terms and Conditions:

Non-refundable deposit of CA$1300 per person is required at time of registration, no later than 20 December 2010, to secure your space for this package**.

Single supplement, optional airfare (price available on request) and optional cancellation and hospital/medical insurance are also payable at this time.

Final payment due 7 March 2010, and total package price is fully non-refundable.

All cancellations must be received in writing at Carlson Wagonlit Victor Travel to the attention of Lucy Nati (lucy@cwtvictortravel.ca).

RBC out-of-province health insurance and trip cancellation insurance are available through Victor Travel and STRONGLY RECOMMENDED. Price will vary according to birthdate. Premium must accompany the deposit and is non-refundable.


For more information: toursenlair@cwtvictortravel.ca

416.631.3125 (cell: 416.693.4496)


GET MORE BALLET OUT OF LIFE WITH TOURS EN L'AIR

Visit www.victortravel.ca and click on Tours en l'air Ballet Holidays

for more fabulous escorted vacations for ballet lovers

**The deposit is fully refundable in the event of cancellation of the trip by the travel agent

Friday, December 3, 2010

Dancing and happiness

“There are shortcuts to happiness, and dancing is one of them.” -Vicki Baum

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Balanchine quote

“The mirror is not you. The mirror is you looking at yourself.”
George Balanchine

Ballet trip to Paris and Belgium

I'm very excited about the trip I'm planning to Paris and Belgium over Eastertime. Below is the itinerary (price will be finalized shortly). Please email me (toursenlair@gmail.com) if you are interested in this or other great ballet holidays:

Sat. 23 April: PARIS

Arrive Paris; check in to 3-star hotel near the Opéra Garnier.

Sun. 24 April: PARIS

Evening: Welcome 3-course dinner with wine at a traditional Parisian restaurant

Mon. 25 April: PARIS

Day at leisure. Evening: Paris Opera Ballet, Romeo and Juliet (Nureyev)

Tues. 26 April: PARIS

Afternoon: Private guided tour of the Paris Opera (Garnier). Evening: Paris Opera Ballet, House of Bernarda, A Kind of... (Ek)

Wed. 27 April: PARIS

At leisure

Thurs. 28 April: PARIS - ANTWERP

Morning: check out of hotel. Daytime at leisure. Evening: Transfer to Gare du Nord for express train to Antwerp (2 hrs). Check in to 4-star Radisson Blu Astrid hotel.

Fri. 29 April: ANTWERP

At leisure: Visit Antwerp's beautiful Gothic cathedral, diamond district, magnificent guild houses on the market square, the house of Rubens, or the charming shops in the historic city centre. Or stay in and watch the Royal Wedding!

Sat. 30 April: ANTWERP - BRUSSELS

Daytime at leisure. Take the train (40 mins.) at your convenience to Brussels. Evening: Royal Ballet of Flanders, Artifact (Forsythe) in Brussels. Return by private coach directly from theatre to hotel.

Sun. 1 May: BRUGES

Day trip by private luxury coach to the beautiful medieval city of Bruges (UNESCO World Heritage site), with private guide.

Mon. 2 May: ANTWERP

Morning: Watch Royal Ballet of Flanders company class. Rest of day at leisure.

Tues. 3 May: KEUKENHOF - EINDHOVEN

Late morning: our private luxury coach transports you to the Keukenhof garden in Holland, a paradise of spring flowers in bloom, where you have a private guided tour. Late afternoon: private transfer to Eindhoven, Holland, for a three-course dinner before the evening performance of Dutch National Ballet: Grosse Fuge, Solo, Concertante, Adagio Hammerklavier (all van Manen). After the performance, the coach returns you to the hotel in Antwerp.

Wed. 4 May

Check out of hotel and depart Antwerp.

Ballet Appreciation courses

The courses I taught in the fall were so popular that the students asked for more! So I will be offering two different courses starting in January, both at the Walter Carsen Centre for The National Ballet of Canada, 470 Queens Quay West just past Spadina. Courses are subject to a minimum enrollment of 10 people. To register, please send me an email (toursenlair@gmail.com) specifying which course you're interested in. Once I am sure of having sufficient enrollment, I will ask you to send me a cheque.

1) Introduction to the remaining 5 programs in the National Ballet of Canada season.
Wednesday nights, 6-8 pm, four weeks Jan 26 to Feb 16.
$129 incl. HST
Course description:

Enrich your experience of ballet in general and the five remaining programs in The National Ballet of Canada's season in particular with insights into the choreography, the design, and the music. Video clips will be used, along with demonstrations of certain steps and postures to help you identify distinctive choreographic styles. Depending on the repertoire, we may look at the ballet's performance history, learn about the choreographer's life and works and the historical context in which the ballet was created, examine the story on which the ballet is based, and compare different versions of the same ballet. Deepen your appreciation of the technical aspects of dance by learning to recognize a different ballet step by name each week and understanding its physical challenges.

2) Introduction to the International Repertoire
Tuesday nights, 6-8 pm, six weeks Jan 18 to Feb 22.
(some people have already expressed an interest in a daytime version of this, so I am also looking into room availability for Monday afternoons; please let me know if that would suit you).
Six weeks: $199 incl. HST
Since many people are travelling in the winter months, I am going to experiment with a more flexible pricing system for this course. So you have the option of signing up for the full six weeks for $199, or choosing a "3-class card" for $129, which would allow you to attend any 3 of the 6 classes on a drop-in basis. Priority enrollment will be given to those opting for the full course.
Course description:
Learn about ballets that are part of the major international ballet repertoire, the choreographers and composers who created them, and their performance history. We will continue to learn the names for specific ballet steps in each class, and talk about the distinctive balletic styles of different countries and companies.

Petipa: Raymonda
Bournonville: Napoli
MacMillan: Manon
Neumeier: Lady of the Camellias
van Manen: 5 Tangos, Adagio Hammerklavier
Petit: Carmen

Nutcracker Live from the Bolshoi

Nutcracker Live from the Bolshoi will be broadcast in Cineplex theatres across Canada on December 19th. Please check cineplex.com for showtimes and theatre locations.

Black Swan movie

This opens this Friday in theatres across Canada. In Toronto, it is playing at the
Cineplex Odeon Varsity,
55 Bloor St W
Check http://www.cineplex.com/Movies/MovieDetails/Black-Swan.aspx for showtimes.
I am planning to go and see it Tuesday, December 14 at 620 pm; if any of you feel like joining me, please let me know!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

What John Cranko character are you?

Is the inner you really Onegin? Or Juliet? Or a streetwalker from Taming of the Shrew? To find out what character in a ballet by John Cranko you would be, try this fun quiz.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

A great quote

“I think Balanchine and Robbins talk to God and when I call, he's out to lunch.” -Bob Fosse

The National Ballet of Canada rehearses Cinderella

An article about the hard work dancers put in!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Channelling my inner femme fatale

Today in my ballet class our very talented pianist Jill played the Habanera from Bizet's Carmen ("L'amour est un enfant boheme, qui n'a jamais connu de loi/Love is a Bohemian child that has never recognized any law") for one of our centre combinations. Our teacher pointed out that this is a very sexy piece of music and that just maybe we should think about trying to convey that! So I attempted valiantly to channel my inner femme fatale into it. Unfortunately, there isn't much of a femme fatale IN there! But that is one of the fun things about ballet class: you get to be someone you're not. Compared to my ordinary everyday life, I was pretty femme fatalish. Or maybe just slightly ridiculous. But what the heck, it was fun. One more reason for you to take up ballet if you haven't done so yet!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Canadian dancer Evan McKie

A very interesting article about Canadian dancer Evan McKie, a principal with Stuttgart Ballet.

Ballet trip to San Francisco

Carlson Wagonlit Victor Travel
101 - 8800 Dufferin Street, Concord, ON L4K 0C5
TICO Ontario registration #1892647
presents
Tours en l'air
Ballet Holidays
escorted by Canada's Word Lady, Katherine Barber in support of The National Ballet of Canada and Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet

San Francisco
23-28 February 2011
6 days, 5 nights
3 ballet performances
1 orchestra performance

Critically acclaimed San Francisco Ballet in a variety of passionate, classically beautiful, and vibrant works by Balanchine, MacMillan, Forsythe, and others, and a rare opportunity to hear the world-famous Vienna Philharmonic

Wednesday 23 February
Arrive San Francisco; check in to Inn at the Opera Hotel, a charming 3 ½-star boutique hotel 3 minutes walk from the Opera House

Thursday 24 February
Day at leisure to explore beautiful San Francisco on one of its famous cable cars, visit Golden Gate Park and the Golden Gate Bridge, take a ferry across to artsy Sausalito, or enjoy whatever this wonderful city has to offer.
Evening: 3-course welcome dinner before: San Francisco Ballet**: Classical Symphony (Possokhov), Nanna's Lied (Tomasson), Artifact Suite (Forsythe) with pre-performance “Meet the Artist” interview

Friday 25 February
Evening: San Francisco Ballet**: Theme & Variations (Balanchine), Winter Dreams (MacMillan), 7 for Eight (Tomasson).
** For a sneak peek at the ballets: http://www.sfballet.org/interact/watch

Saturday 26 February
Morning: A luxury private coach transports you along California's spectacular coastal Highway 1 and through hills clothed with majestic redwoods to Mountain View in the heart of Silicon Valley.
Afternoon: Smuin Ballet: Brahms-Haydn Variations, Bluegrass/Slyde (both Smuin), Oh, Inverted World (Trey McIntyre)
Late afternoon: Our private coach transports you to Berkeley for an evening performance of the Vienna Philharmonic, Schumann: Symphony No. 2 · Brahms: Symphony No. 2, and then returns you to the hotel.

Sunday 27 February
Day at leisure.
Evening: Farewell 3-course dinner

Monday 28 February
Check out of hotel and depart San Francisco.

Total Package CA$1599 per person based on double occupancy
Single supplement: CA$450
All prices valid till 29 November 2010

REGISTRATION AND DEPOSIT DUE DATE: 29 NOVEMBER 2010

LAND-ONLY PACKAGE allows you the flexibility of arranging travel from your most convenient departure point, on the dates and times you prefer. CWT Victor Travel's experienced agents will be happy to assist you.

Package price includes:
Premium orchestra seats for 3 ballet performances
1 Pre-performance talk by a San Francisco Ballet artist
Balcony seating for Vienna Philharmonic performance
5 nights accommodation at the Inn at the Opera Hotel, rooms with one queen bed
Hotel porterage
Daily continental breakfast
3-course welcome dinner
3-course farewell dinner
Private coach day excursion to Mountain View, Berkeley, and return to San Francisco
Tax-receiptable donation of CA$100 to The National Ballet of Canada or Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet
Enrichment program: ballet notes, informal post-performance reviews with tour leader
All taxes, service fees, and surcharges

Not included:
Airfare
Items of a personal nature, e.g. telephone calls
Meals and transfers not specifically mentioned in this itinerary
Beverages with meals
Cancellation and hospital/medical insurance

Terms and Conditions:
Non-refundable deposit of CA$750 per person is required at time of registration, no later than 29 November 2010, to secure your space for this package.** Single supplement, and optional cancellation and hospital/medical insurance also payable at this time.
Final payment due January 12, 2011, and total package price is fully non-refundable.
All cancellations must be received in writing at CWT Victor Travel to the attention of Lucy Nati (lucy@cwtvictortravel.ca).
RBC out-of-province health insurance and trip cancellation insurance are available through CWT Victor Travel and STRONGLY RECOMMENDED. Price will vary according to birthdate. Premium must accompany the deposit and is non-refundable.

For a printer-friendly version of this brochure or more information on this or other fabulous escorted vacations for ballet lovers: toursenlair@cwtvictortravel.ca or 416.631.3125 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              416.631.3125      end_of_the_skype_highlighting

GET MORE BALLET OUT OF LIFE WITH TOURS EN L'AIR

**The deposit is fully refundable in the event of cancellation of the trip by the travel agent.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Robert Tewsley book

If you are interested in buying a book on ROBERT TEWSLEY (www.roberttewsley.com) at a 25% reduction (retail price around 30 Euros, 160 pages, A4, bilingual English-German, including 25 pages of text in either language plus many colour+b/w photos from all over the world)? At the moment this is only a survey to get an idea... For further questions please message Julia Buhrle on Facebook or leave a comment on this blog.

Canadian choreographer Peter Quanz creates piece for Cuban National Ballet

http://www.thestar.com/entertainment/theatre/article/881975--canadian-choreographer-honours-legendary-cuban-ballerina-at-havana-festival

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Who knew "wombat" was a colour?

Only in Australia... read this interesting blog about dyeing in The Australian Ballet's wardrobe department.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Paris, Amsterdam, great ballet, cute Canadian dancer

I am looking at a spring ballet trip to Paris, but it would have to be over Easter long weekend and I am not sure if that suits people or not, so please let me know.
As you know, I strive to make Tours en l'air trips suit your wishes as much as possible!
It also seemed a shame to be near Holland in tulip season and not to take advantage of it so what I am looking at now is something like this:

April 22 - May 1
6 days Paris, 3 days Amsterdam

Arrive Paris Good Friday, 22nd April, stay till the morning of Thurs 28th

1 Performance of Nureyev's version of Romeo and Juliet (there is another performance of it the same week for the keeners)
1 Performance of Mats Ek's House of Bernarda and A Sort of...
all performances in Paris by Paris Opera Ballet

Mats Ek is a very contemporary choreographer who is a big star on the international ballet scene. Some people LOVE him but he's not everyone's cup of tea so if you'd rather that be made an optional performance, please let me know
Here's a clip of House of Bernarda:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ahcKtpp9nA

Thurs 28th take train (3 hrs) to Amsterdam, to see Dutch National Ballet in a fabulous all Hans van Manen program (teaser here):
http://www.youtube.com/user/HetNationaleBallet#p/search/2/bmQJQ4huh3M
Stay in Amsterdam till Sunday May 1st, with a side trip to the amazing Keukenhof garden 40 minutes away to see the spring flowers in bloom

If we're lucky we could see DNB's recently promoted Canadian (from Regina!) Principal Dancer, Matthew Golding, who as you will see in these videos is a beeYOOtiful turner (not to mention cute as a button) whose somewhat meteoric career path is no surprise:
http://www.youtube.com/user/HetNationaleBallet#p/u/3/ZU_Yc4TZ99Y
http://www.youtube.com/user/HetNationaleBallet#p/search/9/Ra1GA7EZ35M

I think this could be a great trip, but it all depends on whether enough people are available at that time of year so please do get in touch if you're tempted. Remember, you can join a Tours en l'air trip from anywhere, just meet us in Paris.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Stars of the 21st Century

If you're like me, your reaction to seeing a good ballet performance is a toddler-like "Do that AGAIN! I wanna see that AGAIN!"
So, to feed the inner toddler of those of you who were at the Stars of the 21st Century gala in Toronto last night, and as a treat suitable for a leisurely Sunday afternoon for those of you who couldn't make it, I have compiled a YouTube version with many of the pieces and dancers we saw. Enjoy!

Flames of Paris pas de deux with Daniil Simkin:


Les Bourgeois with Daniil Simkin (choreography by Ben Van Cauwenberg):


Caravaggio (choreography by Mauro Bigonzetti) with the Berlin State Ballet

Le Grand pas de deux (choreography by Christian Spuck, here with the dancers who created the piece, Robert Tewsley and Julia Kraemer)

Coppelia pas de deux with Zdenek Konvalina and Bridgett Zehr

Diamonds pas de deux excerpt, here with Houston Ballet

Arepo (choreography by Maurice Bejart) with Alessio Carbone of the Paris Opera Ballet

Don Quixote pas de deux with Denis and Anastasia Matvienko (pdd starts at about the 2 minute mark)

Radio and Juliet (choreography by Edward Clug) with Denis and Anastasia Matvienko


Katherine Barber
Tours en l'air
Ballet Holidays

GET MORE BALLET OUT OF LIFE

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Dream of the Red Chamber

Last night I attended a performance of the Beijing Friendship Dance Company in what was billed as a "fusion of Chinese folk dance and classical ballet". I don't know anything about Chinese folk dance, so I can't say how unlike it this was, but it didn't strike me as being very balletic, apart from the occasional fouette turn, tour a la seconde, or grand jete tossed in sometimes incongruously. The women were not on pointe. The story is of a young man who loves one woman but is tricked into marrying another. It is also supposed to show his rebellion against the strictures of feudal society, but this was definitely not clear from the ballet. There was not much character development through the choreography. Bizarrely, the synopsis in Chinese and fractured English ("Witnessing the Wang Xifeng punishing a servant girl for the engaged herself secretly, Baoyu is vexed and worried") was read out over the music at the beginning of each scene.
The costumes were colourful and beautiful and the high point for me was a lovely fan dance for the corps.
As for the music, by Su Cong, it was a strange mishmash of western classical, Chinese, what sounded like country and western at some points, and pop. There was no transition from one chunk to the next. Su Cong has apparently composed for a lot of movies, and this was evident in the score. The steady electronic bass thumping was most irritating. This was exacerbated by the fact that the music was a recording and played too loud. Su Cong seems to have never met an instrument he didn't like, and he put them all into this ballet. At one point near the end I found myself wishing the music would stop.... and then it did! Just at the dramatic high point of the ballet, when the hero discovers he's been tricked and launches into an anguished solo. Kudos to Zhang Jin for carrying on with full intensity, with no music to back him up. Then the stage went black, backstage voices were heard followed by the sound of a CD being fastforwarded; the lights came back on and Zhang Jin had to start again towards the end of his solo.
Another bizarre thing happened during the curtain calls. After all the dancers had taken their bows, the choreographer and company director, Zhao Ming, came on... and proceeded to do a long grand allegro variation. A man of about 50, he seemed determined to prove he could still do grands jetes en tournant, any number of pirouettes, and many other tricks. The crowd went wild. What a limelight hogger! The valiant Zhang Jin looked on straightfaced but I am sure he was thinking, "Hey, how come he's getting all the applause? I'm the one who kept this ballet afloat when the music died!!!"

Friday, October 8, 2010

Get in touch with your inner ballerina

I was chatting last night with a fellow National Ballet of Canada volunteer who told me that she had been inspired by the fact that I, though not in the first flush of youth, take ballet classes, to sign up herself for beginner classes last year. She is absolutely thrilled with it. She finds it improves her balance and muscle tone and feeds her aesthetic sense in a way other exercise classes don't. It's great for flexibility too. All these things become more important the older you get. So my advice to everyone is: IT'S NEVER TOO LATE TO LEARN BALLET!!! Try it. You'll love it. Don't worry if you don't have the perfect body. You don't have to wear a revealing black leotard and pink tights. Yoga wear or sweats are fine. You won't be in a class where other people knock off quintuple pirouettes (or even any pirouettes to start with!) to make you feel inadequate. You will all be beginners together. In Toronto, try Metro Movement or Canada's National Ballet School.

Monday, October 4, 2010

A morning at the National Ballet of Canada

My U of Toronto School of Continuing Studies students and I had a great time visiting the Walter Carsen Centre for The National Ballet of Canada this morning. After a brief visit to the set model room where we saw set models for Don Quixote, The Merry Widow, and Nutcracker, we had a quick look at the wigs and then visited the wardrobe department. I have the highest admiration for the creative people in wardrobe who transform the designers' sketches into beautiful costumes that work with the dancers. Repairs on Don Quixote costumes are underway, replacing dead elastic on tutu bottoms and generally refurbishing. We saw a Snow Queen tutu up close, laden with the brocade and trim that is so characteristic of Santo Loquasto's designs. Then it was off to see the centre section of the dancers' daily class, taught by Rex Harrington (what a treat). After having Lorna Geddes, amazingly a 50-year veteran of the company (so youthful looking she must have started dancing before she was born!) explain the inner workings of pointe shoes, it was back to the studio to see ballet mistress Mandy-Jayne Richardson imparting the secrets of Balanchine style to the corps in Serenade. "Let the poetry of the music inhabit your whole body and heart and soul," she told them.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Love this tutu!


Madeleine Eastoe wearing Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude costume. Photography Jo Duck. Make-up Nicola Snell for Napoleon Perdis

This picture is from The Australian Ballet's new "My Favourite Tutu" calendar (available through their website). I love the funky tutus in William Forsythe's Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude, which is a dazzling display of ballet virtuosity (with that Forsythe twist) performed to Schubert's Great C Major Symphony played at breakneck speed. If a ballet company near you ever performs it, GO SEE IT!!
For more info on the tutu calendar, visit the Australian Ballet's excellent blog, Behind Ballet.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Wednesday section of ballet appreciation course

Due to popular demand, I am adding another section of my 6-week "Introduction to the National Ballet of Canada's season" course at the Walter Carsen Centre for The National Ballet of Canada 470 Queens Quay West, Toronto, Wednesday evenings 6 -- 745, from October 6 to November 10.
Enrich your experience of ballet in general and the seven programs in the National Ballet of Canada's season in particular with insights into the choreography, the design, and the music. Where appropriate and available, video clips will be used, along with demonstrations of certain steps and postures to help you identify distinctive choreographic styles. Depending on the repertoire, we may look at the ballet's performance history, learn about the choreographer's life and works and the historical context in which the ballet was created, examine the story on which the ballet is based, study ballet mime, and compare different versions of the same ballet. Deepen your appreciation of the technical aspects of dance by learning to recognize a different ballet step by name each week and understanding its physical challenges.
Course fee is $199. To register, please email me at toursenlair@gmail.com.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Ballet appreciation course

I will be teaching a 6-week "Introduction to the National Ballet of Canada's season" course at the Walter Carsen Centre for The National Ballet of Canada 470 Queens Quay West, Toronto, Tuesday evenings 6 -- 745, from October 19 to November 23.
Enrich your experience of ballet in general and the seven programs in the National Ballet of Canada's season in particular with insights into the choreography, the design, and the music. Where appropriate and available, video clips will be used, along with demonstrations of certain steps and postures to help you identify distinctive choreographic styles. Depending on the repertoire, we may look at the ballet's performance history, learn about the choreographer's life and works and the historical context in which the ballet was created, examine the story on which the ballet is based, study ballet mime, and compare different versions of the same ballet. Deepen your appreciation of the technical aspects of dance by learning to recognize a different ballet step by name each week and understanding its physical challenges.
Course fee is $199. To register, please email me at toursenlair@gmail.com.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Ballet trips in 2011

Here are the trips we're looking at for the first half of 2011. If you're interested in any of them, please get in touch at toursenlair@gmail.com Remember, you can join the group from anywhere.

San Francisco February 23 – 28, 2011: 4 performances
San Francisco Ballet: Classical Symphony (Possokhov), Nanna's Lied (Tomasson),
Artifact Suite (Forsythe)
Theme and Variations (Balanchine), Winter Dreams (MacMillan), another work TBA
Smuin Ballet: Brahms/Haydn, Bluegrass/Slyde (both Smuin), new McIntyre
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra: Schumann: Symphony No. 2 · Brahms: Symphony No. 2

Toronto March 3 – 6, 2011: 3 performances
Maryinsky (Kirov) Ballet: Swan Lake
Billy Elliot: The Musical
The National Ballet of Canada, American Ballet Theatre,
Royal Danish Ballet, Royal Ballet:
The Ninth International Competition for The Erik Bruhn Prize
(possible extension to March 9 for The National Ballet of Canada: Don Quixote)

Stuttgart and Paris May 3 – 13, 2011: 4 performances
Stuttgart Ballet:
Wed. May 4: Bolero (Bejart), Initials RBME (Cranko),
Frank Bridge Variations (van Manen)
Sun. May 8: The Lady of the Camellias (Neumeier)
Bolshoi Ballet:
Tues. May 10: Flames of Paris (Ratmansky)
Wed. May 11: Don Quixote

New York May 20 – 23, 2011: 2 performances
American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet: programs TBA

London May 24 – 29, 2011: 3 performances
Royal Ballet: Ballo della Regina (Balanchine), new McGregor, DGV (Wheeldon)
Manon
Scènes de Ballet (Ashton), Voluntaries (Tetley), Still Life at the Penguin Cafe (Bintley)

Washington, DC June 8 – 12, 2011: 2 performances
Royal Danish Ballet: Napoli
A Folk Tale
(both Bournonville, new staging by Nikolaj Hübbe)

Hamburg July 1 –11, 2011
7 performances
Hamburg Ballet: Midsummer Night's Dream (Neumeier)
Mahler's 10th Symphony (Neumeier)
Illusions – Like Swan Lake (Neumeier)
Polish Triptych (Neumeier), Dances at a Gathering, The Concert (both Robbins)
Seven Haiku of the Moon, Seasons – The Colours of Time (both Neumeier)
Nijinsky Gala (year-end gala)
Guest company TBA

Saratoga Springs, NY July 15 – 17, 2011
3 performances
New York City Ballet: program TBA

GET MORE BALLET OUT OF LIFE WITH TOURS EN L'AIR

Cool posters from the Hamburg Ballet


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Celebration of dance at the White House

This was a fabulous hour of dancing, with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Ashley Bouder and Daniel Ulbricht of New York City Ballet doing a very bouncy, if space-restricted, Balanchine Tarantella, Paul Taylor Dance Company, one of the Billy Elliots, Washington Ballet doing one of Twyla Tharp's Nine Sinatra Songs, all hosted by the equally charismatic Michelle Obama and Damian Woetzel. And you can see it all on YouTube!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Black Swan movie at Toronto International Film Festival

From wrestling to classical ballet, director Darren Aronofsky has crafted another exquisite cinematic exploration of identity and performance. Black Swan is psychologically thrilling cinema at its finest. As the artistic director of a world-class ballet company (a stand-in for the New York City Ballet), Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel), starts the new season by firing his vitriolic, aging prima ballerina (Winona Ryder). Lecherous and manipulative, Thomas decides to stage a new and cutting edge production of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, a ballet that requires one dancer to portray the two sides of the Swan Queen: the innocent and naïve White Swan and the sensual and seductive Black Swan.
Nina (Natalie Portman) is a timid but dedicated dancer in the company. Like most ballerinas, dancing is her life and her overbearing mother (Barbara Hershey), a former ballerina, ensures that her life is comprised of nothing but ballet. In a state of continual childhood innocence, Nina dances by day and sleeps by night under the watchful eye of her suffocating mother. A technically flawless dancer, Nina is perfect for the role of the White Swan. But she lacks the passionate abandon that is needed for the other half of the role. When a new dancer, Lily (Mila Kunis), joins the company, she has all the sensual energy that Nina lacks. Intimidated by this power, Nina becomes obsessed with her rival and the two form an uneasy relationship where Lily tries to help Nina reveal her repressed dark side through drugs, sex and wild debauchery.
But as the role begins to consume her, strange things happen to Nina. Her body changes, as does her mind, and the line between the production and reality begins to blur in a terrifying transformation.
With stunning visuals and masterful performances, Black Swan combines a rare mix of beauty and grotesquerie to shape a remarkable narrative. Potent and dazzling, Aronofsky’s latest feature is a testament to his visionary talent.
Monday September 13
9:30:00 PM
ROY THOMSON HALL

Tuesday September 14
11:00:00 AM
VISA SCREENING ROOM (ELGIN)

Saturday September 18
9:00:00 PM
RYERSON
Tickets are $22.25, ($19.25 for students and seniors) for the Elgin and Ryerson screenings, $43.25 ($21.50 for students and seniors) for the gala screening at Roy Thomson Hall.
Purchase anytime between September 3 and the day of screening at the Festival Box Office, by phone 416-968-FILM or online at tiff.net
1.Pick up at Festival Box Office or Venue Box Office
*If film is off sale:
Additional tickets may become available at 7am day of screening – go to Festival/Venue Box Office
Sometimes there are unused seats because not all ticketholders show up. These are made available to the Rush Line at the Venue Box Office (10 minutes before the screening)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Ballet appreciation course

Due to popular demand, I am adding a second session of my six-week ballet appreciation course, Introduction to the National Ballet of Canada season, on Tuesday evenings, 6 - 7:45, to accommodate those of you who can't attend on Monday mornings. The course will go from October 19 to November 23, at the National Ballet of Canada offices at the Walter Carsen Centre, 470 Queens Quay West, just west of Spadina, on both the Spadina and Exhibition streetcar routes. I have been having a lot of fun researching this course and I have many juicy tidbits to impart!

Here is the course outline:

Enrich your experience of ballet in general and the seven programs in the National Ballet of Canada's season in particular with insights into the choreography, the design, and the music. Where appropriate and available, video clips will be used, along with demonstrations of certain steps and postures to help you identify distinctive choreographic styles. Depending on the repertoire, we may look at the ballet's performance history, learn about the choreographer's life and works and the historical context in which the ballet was created, examine the story on which the ballet is based, study ballet mime, and compare different versions of the same ballet.  Deepen your appreciation of the technical aspects of dance by learning to recognize a different ballet step by name each week and understanding its physical challenges.

Tours en l'air helps you not only to get more ballet out of life, but also to get more out of ballet.

Course fee is $199. To register, please email me at toursenlair@gmail.com

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Dance event at the White House

The White House Dance Series: A Tribute to Judith Jamison will be streamed live on whitehouse.gov from the White House's East Room on Sept. 7 at 5 p.m. Dancers from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Billy from Billy Elliot the Musical, The Washington Ballet, Super Cr3w, and New York City Ballet.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan in Toronto

The Toronto International Film Festival has just announced that Darren Aronofsky's new ballet-themed movie will be screened at the festival this September. Dates and times for screenings will be announced August 24th.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Customers rave about Tours en l'air ballet holidays

“I certainly had a fabulous time, and it was a dream trip for a ballet lover.” Georgina McLennan
“10 out of 10” – Cecil Fennell
“I returned to work on Monday... Any time I felt stressed I visualized all the great ballet we saw and completely relaxed.” – Ginny Campbell

Sunday, July 25, 2010

BRB dancers get naked for a good cause

A very innovative ad campaign for testicular cancer awareness, featuring stunning images of Birmingham Royal Ballet dancers Matthew Lawrence, Alexander Campbell, Iain Mackay, and Gaylene Cummerfield.

Dancing Across Borders

On a trip to Angkor Wat in Cambodia in January 2000, filmmaker Anne Bass came across a sixteen-year-old boy who moved her immensely with his amazing natural charm and grace as a dancer. A longtime devotee of dance, Bass felt compelled to give this young boy the opportunity to leave his home and follow a dream that he could not yet have fully imagined. From the serene countryside of Southeast Asia to the halls of New York’s School of American Ballet to the stage of the Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle, DANCING ACROSS BORDERS peeks behind the scenes into the world of dance and chronicles the intimate and triumphant story of a boy who was discovered, and who only much later discovered all that he had in himself.
See the trailer here.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Ballet trip to San Francisco

I have some updates on the February San Francisco trip that I am planning. In view of some other performances that will be on in the Bay Area, I am thinking of making the trip a little longer than originally planned, arriving on Wednesday February 23rd instead of Friday the 25th, still departing on Monday the 28th.
Hot news! The Vienna Philharmonic will be on tour at UC Berkeley that weekend. This is their program:

Program A (Feb 25): Schubert: Symphony No. 2 · Wagner: Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde · Bartók: The Miraculous Mandarin
Program B (Feb 26): Schumann: Symphony No. 2 · Brahms: Symphony No. 2
Program C (Feb 27): Mahler: Symphony No. 6

In addition, the Smuin Ballet will be performing in Mountain View California (about 45 minutes from downtown San Francisco, in the heart of Silicon Valley), a mixed program of two works by Michael Smuin and a new piece by Trey McIntyre, February 23-27.
To summarize, the revised trip would potentially be:

February 23-28, 2011
San Francisco Ballet: Classical Symphony (Possokhov), Nanna's Lied (Tomasson), Artifact Suite (Forsythe)

Theme and Variations (Balanchine), Winter Dreams (MacMillan), another work TBA

Smuin Ballet: Brahms/Haydn, Bluegrass/Slyde (both Smuin), new McIntyre
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra: TBD

Please email toursenlair@gmail.com if you are interested in this trip. If you would like to have a Vienna Philharmonic performance included in the package, please let me know which program you would like (whichever day you pick, you will still be able to see the two different San Francisco Ballet programs, as they alternate days).

Beginner Adult Ballet at Metro Movement

Metro Movement Dance Studio in Toronto is offering Beginner Ballet on Sundays @ 1:30 starting on September 12th. No registration required. If you are interested e-mail metromovement@yahoo.ca Please write "beginner ballet" in the subject field. I have loved my classes at Metro from the moment I started there last fall. I cannot say enough about how fun and supportive the atmosphere is. Also, their drop-in policy offers the flexibility that people with work and family commitments need and their prices are unbeatable!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Easy for HIM to say!

I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to dance better than myself. -Mikhail Baryshnikov

The perils of Petipa

In this fascinating article, Ismene Brown explores the difficulties of recreating original Petipa choreography from the notations of the time. What is "authenticity"? How can two people looking at the same notation arrive at two quite different interpretations? What are the difficulties of transcribing dance into notation? What are the merits of "foot to foot" (what a delightful term!) transmission from coach to dancer vs. following notation? What influence does the coach and the individual dancer have on the original choreography? Why does ballet not have an "ur-text" to follow for its 19th-century masterpieces that would compare with the scores of musical works? How do politics, nationalism, and a desire for royalties affect the ballets we see on stage? All very intriguing.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

No cats in entrechats

An entrechat (here's Inaki Urlezaga doing a bunch of them) seems, to anyone who knows French, to mean "between the cats". This is intriguing, because I've never seen my cats jump straight upward and beat their little paws in the air (but then I've never seen them point their toes at their knees in a pas de chat either). In fact, "entrechat" is a French corruption of the Italian phrase capriola intrecciata meaning literally "a complicated caper". Intrecciata comes from the word treccia (a tress or braid), and this is a clearer image of what the legs do in an entrechat.

Are you a ballet lover who, like me, loves words as well as wordless art forms? Head on over to my other blog, Wordlady for some fascinating tidbits about language.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The official Tours en l'air pointe shoe cookie


Looks good, tastes great... and doesn't cause blisters! (and I had fun designing and making them)

For instructions on how to make them yourself, click here

If you love ballet, please check out my season of outstanding ballet trips by clicking here.

GET MORE BALLET OUT OF LIFE WITH TOURS EN L'AIR

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Ballet Holidays in 2011

London January 8 – 16, 2011: 3 performances
Royal Ballet: Tales of Beatrix Potter, Les Patineurs (both Ashton)
Giselle
English National Ballet: Romeo and Juliet (Nureyev choreography)

San Francisco February 25 – 28, 2011: 2 performances
San Francisco Ballet: Classical Symphony (Possokhov), Nanna's Lied (Tomasson),
Artifact Suite (Forsythe)
Theme and Variations (Balanchine), Winter Dreams (MacMillan), another work TBA

Toronto March 3 – 6, 2011: 3 performances
Maryinsky (Kirov) Ballet: Swan Lake
Billy Elliot: The Musical
The National Ballet of Canada, American Ballet Theatre,
Royal Danish Ballet, Royal Ballet:
The Ninth International Competition for The Erik Bruhn Prize

Paris April 28 – May 6, 2011: 3 performances
Paris Opera Ballet: House of Bernarda, A Sort of... (Ek)
Romeo and Juliet (Nureyev)
Bolshoi Ballet: Flames of Paris (Ratmansky)

Hamburg and Copenhagen May 9 – 18, 2011: 4 performances
Hamburg Ballet: Illusions – Like Swan Lake
A Streetcar Named Desire
A Midsummer Night's Dream
(all Neumeier)
Royal Danish Ballet: Études (Lander), Konservatoriet (Bournonville), new Kobborg

New York May 20 – 23, 2011: 2 performances
American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet: programs TBA

London May 24 – 29, 2011: 3 performances
Royal Ballet: Ballo della Regina (Balanchine), new McGregor, DGV (Wheeldon)
Manon
Scènes de Ballet (Ashton), Voluntaries (Tetley), Still Life at the Penguin Cafe (Bintley)
Exhibition: Invitation to the Ballet: Ninette de Valois and the story of The Royal Ballet

Washington, DC June 8 – 12, 2011: 2 performances
Royal Danish Ballet: Napoli
A Folk Tale
(both Bournonville, new staging by Nikolaj Hübbe)

Hamburg July 1 –11, 2011
7 performances
Hamburg Ballet: Midsummer Night's Dream (Neumeier)
Mahler's 10th Symphony (Neumeier)
Illusions – Like Swan Lake (Neumeier)
Polish Triptych (Neumeier), Dances at a Gathering, The Concert (both Robbins)
Seven Haiku of the Moon, Seasons – The Colours of Time (both Neumeier)
Nijinsky Gala (year-end gala)
Guest company TBA


If you love ballet, please check out my current season of outstanding ballet trips by clicking here.

GET MORE BALLET OUT OF LIFE WITH TOURS EN L'AIR


Onegin Mirror pas de deux

Jiri Jelinek and Xiao Nan Yu of The National Ballet of Canada

An electrifying experience at the ballet


A group of 8 of us from Toronto have just come back from a fabulous weekend seeing New York City Ballet at Saratoga Springs, New York. I'm sure Balanchine's Divertimento No. 15 has often been described as electrifying, with the brilliance of the unendingly inventive choreography and the speed and attack of NYCB's dancers. In this case, though, it was literally electrifying, as lightning apparently hit the light board halfway through the piece. The Saratoga Performing Arts Center is an outdoor theatre, and we had been hearing the wind pick up since the beginning of the ballet. Then an enormous bang was followed by half the stage lights going out (the famous Blue Ballet Backdrop so common in Balanchine ballets suddenly lost its colour). It was a corps section and amazingly, the dancers didn't miss a beat (and neither did the orchestra) and just kept on dancing. Three cheers to the stage management, too, who must have been working miracles backstage to get the blue lighting back in a very short time. Kudos to Ashley Bouder with her amazingly high hovering grand jetes.
It wasn't the last bizarre incident of the night, as in the middle of the next ballet on the program, Walpurgisnacht Ballet, a wayward rodent (chipmunk? gopher? squirrel?) scuttled up the downstage right "leg" (those big black drapes that hide the wings), causing the audience to burst out laughing. The dancers must have been perplexed, but again you couldn't have told. I love Walpurgisnacht Ballet, with its beautiful costumes in shades of pink against a muted magenta backdrop, its classic Balanchine arrangement of the corps in beautiful poses, brilliant diagonal variation for the principal ballerina, and the constant buildup of excitement till all the dancers are whirling around like wild women with their long hair flailing around them.
Other highlights of our weekend:
Christopher Wheeldon's mesmerizing, hauntingly beautiful After the Rain, exquisitely danced by Wendy Whelan and Craig Hall.
Here are San Francisco Ballet's Yuan Yuan Tan and Damian Smith performing it at the Fire Island Festival:



An "All-Robbins" program featuring the exuberant NY Export: Opus Jazz, the gorgeous In the Night (the upside-down lift was perfectly executed: one second Jonathan Stafford reached out his arm to Maria Kowroski and the next she was completely straight up-and-down upside down), and the ever hilarious The Concert with the delightful Sterling Hyltin.
Here's San Francisco Ballet performing the famous "Mistake Waltz", which always cracks me up and makes me think that's what I look like in my ballet classes (except not that good).
Saratoga is a lovely town, the surroundings for the theatre in the park are gorgeous, and the magnificent Hall of Springs next door, with its classic spa architecture, is a fabulous venue for a wonderful pre-performance buffet dinner.

For info on our upcoming 2013 Saratoga trip, please click here. Booking deadline is March 8! Either join us on the coach from Toronto, or meet up with us in Saratoga.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

What is wrong with this picture?

Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal, not to be confused with Les Canadiens de Montreal:
The average yearly salary of a dancer with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal is $30,000 - while the average salary of an NHL hockey player is $1,906,793.
Sources: La Presse, the Sports Network

Don Q pas de deux on SYTYCD

American Ballet Theatre Soloists Yuriko Kajiya and Jared Matthews are scheduled to perform on Fox TV’s “So You Think You Can Dance” on Thursday, July 22.

In a special guest appearance, Kajiya and Matthews will perform the Grand Pas de Deux from Act III of Don Quixote. The program will be broadcast live from CBS Television Studios in Hollywood, California, at 9:00 PM (EST) / 8:00 PM (CST).

For more information about “So You Think You Can Dance,” please visit http://www.fox.com/dance.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Ballet appreciation course

I will be teaching a six-week ballet appreciation course this fall at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies, Monday mornings September 13th-October 25th (no class on Thanksgiving). Here is the course outline:

Enrich your experience of ballet in general and the six programs in the National Ballet of Canada's season in particular with insights into the choreography, the design, and the music. Where appropriate and available, video clips will be used, along with demonstrations of certain steps and postures to help you identify distinctive choreographic styles. Depending on the repertoire, we may look at the ballet's performance history, learn about the choreographer's life and works and the historical context in which the ballet was created, examine the story on which the ballet is based, study ballet mime, and compare different versions of the same ballet. Deepen your appreciation of the technical aspects of dance by learning to recognize a different ballet step by name each week and understanding its physical challenges. Included will be a tour of the National Ballet's studios with the opportunity to watch a rehearsal, learn how tutus and pointe shoes are made, and see how sets and costumes go from the initial design to the finished product.

To register.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

New York City Ballet in October

Hot off the press! NYCB has just sent me advance info on their fall season (a new venture for them this year).
Please let me know (toursenlair@gmail.com) if you would be interested in a trip to NY for (Canadian)Thanksgiving / Columbus Day weekend. The program would be:

Saturday Oct 9, 2 pm (optional)
Barber Violin Concerto (Martins)
Why am I not where you are (Millepied)
Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet (Balanchine)
(for those of you who may be scared by Schoenberg, this is definitely more Brahms than Schoenberg and has some exhilarating dancing though rather twee costumes, especially for the men who have to wear pink-beribboned hats, poor dears!)

Saturday, Oct 9, 8 pm
FOUNDING CHOREOGRAPHERS
Chaconne (Balanchine)
Concerto Barocco (Balanchine)
Tarantella (Balanchine)
Glass Pieces (Robbins)

Sunday Oct 10, 3 pm
Glass Pieces (Robbins)
Tarantella (Balanchine)
New Millepied
Stars and Stripes (Balanchine)

For those of you who haven't seen Glass Pieces or Tarantella, I can assure you that not only is seeing them twice in two days no hardship, you will actually be WANTING to see them a second time!

In addition, I would arrange a "meet the dancer" as this was very popular on our Victoria Day trip (we met Principal Dancer Jared Angle, a very charming young man).

I have checked the other major dance venues in NY for that weekend and unfortunately nothing else is on, though of course there are plenty of musicals to go to! American Ballet Theatre, which traditionally has had a fall NY season, will not be doing so this year.

The package would include hotel, the ballet performances, some extras. We always try to arrange a group airfare from Toronto if we have enough people, so if you are tempted by a ballet weekend in Manhattan could you please let me know whether you would want to fly down on Friday morning so as to have more time in NY, or Friday evening so that you could leave after work. We would plan to come back early evening on Thanksgiving Monday.

Fred, Ginger, Coco, Igor, and some scantily clad male dancers

I've come across quite a few interesting items in the last few days:

1) Fred and Ginger meet Abba with amazing results. Enjoy! (They don't just THINK they can dance... they really can!!)


2) Matthias Heymann, an "etoile" at the Paris Opera Ballet at the very young age of 22, struts his stuff for French TV (it takes a while to load and you have to get past the presenter's intro)


3) The Australian Ballet has a new production of a ballet based on Der Rosenkavalier (but with new music) choreographed by Graeme Murphy, who did most of the choreography for Mao's Last Dancer (still playing in Toronto, by the way)
(This also takes a while to load, and in view of the number of scantily clad ballerinos, audience discretion is advised ;-) )

4) Coco & Igor movie
now playing in Toronto, a movie that gives insight into the momentous Ballets Russes visit to Paris and the life of the 20th century's most significant ballet composer (even though some of us don't like his music oops did I say that??). Anyone interested in a group outing, let me know!

At the Theatre des Champs-Elysées, Igor Stravinsky premieres his The Rite Of Spring. Coco Chanel attends the premiere and is mesmerized. But the revolutionary work is too modern, too radical: the enraged audience boos and jeers. A near riot ensues . Stravinsky is inconsolable. Seven years later, now rich, respected and successful, Coco Chanel meets Stravinsky again - a penniless refugee living in exile in Paris after the Russian Revolution. The attraction between them is immediate and electric. Coco offers Stravinsky the use of her villa in Garches so that he will be able to work, and he moves in straight away, with his children and consumptive wife. And so a passionate, intense love affair between two creative giants begins.more »
Showtimes
Cumberland 4 - Alliance Cinemas
159 Cumberland Street, Toronto, ON, Canada
1:00 4:00 7:00 10:00

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Reality TV hits ballet

A recent article in the Chicago Sun-Times about a new reality TV show featuring the Joffrey Ballet:

Chicago's internationally renowned Joffrey Ballet will be the focus of an unscripted TV series, tentatively titled ''First Position.''

The Joffrey's executive director, Christopher Clinton Conway, explained ''this all came up while we were out in Los Angeles with 'Cinderella,' '' for the recent West Coast performances of the ballet created by Sir Frederic Ashton.

Chicago's Joffrey Ballet dancers will soon be spotlighted in a reality TV show, "First Position."

An initial contact by a Joffrey board member led to the Joffrey joining forces with L.A.-based W/O Productions, which developed the idea for the show. According to Conway, the series will zero in on the Joffrey's trainee program, reportedly the largest such operation run by an American ballet troupe.

''It will be similar in feel to something like 'Project Runway,' and focus on our trainees, who are between 17 and 22 years of age,'' Conway said. ''They are not quite yet in the company, but have been dancing pretty much their whole lives.''

There will be weekly challenges, and ''part of the package will be to offer a contract [with the Joffrey] to the winner at the end.''

• Conway expects the competitors to provide great reality TV viewing, as ''our trainees have come to us from many different paths. ... There are great stories. One almost gave up dancing all together, and was going to go back and study psychology at Harvard. Another was going to head to the Stuttgart Ballet.

''The nice thing about our trainee program is that the dancers choose many different career paths. Some head to Broadway. Others do join ballet companies, and others go off to college and completely different kinds of lives.''

• The popularity of other TV dance competitions, such as ''So You Think You Can Dance'' and ''Dancing With the Stars'' have helped boost the ''First Position'' concept -- reportedly being shopped to cable outlets including MTV and Oxygen.

• As for Conway, he's excited about the Joffrey being given a showcase similar to its big-screen bow in Robert Altman's ''The Company.'' The 2003 Chicago-made movie, based on the Joffrey, starred Neve Campbell, Malcolm McDowell and a young James Franco.

Conway and the Joffrey's artistic director Ashley Wheater are confident the project won't be compared to some other reality fare out there, like ''Jersey Shore.''

''No,'' Conway laughed. ''There definitely will be no hot tubs up here in the [Joffrey] Tower!''

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

N.Y. Export: Opus Jazz

A group of New York City Ballet dancers are performing in N.Y. Export: Opus Jazz, a scripted adaptation of Jerome Robbins' 1958 "ballet in sneakers", shot on location in New York City. It's airing on PBS Great Performances on March 24, 2010. Check out the trailer.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A trip to Tuscany with Tours en l'air

National Ballet of Canada Principal Dancers Guillaume Côté & Zdenek Konvalina are co-choreographing a new ballet, Impermanence, for the prestigious Maggio Musicale Fiorentino festival in Florence. Both will be performing in the piece, which is set to music composed by Guillaume, and has designs by Zdenek. The world premiere is on May 18th, and you can be part of it and support two of our most popular dancers. Tours en l'air is teaming up with A Perfect Tour, which has over ten years of experience organizing tours in Tuscany, to offer a week (May 15 – 22) in a Tuscan villa, with escorted visits to Lucca, Siena, San Gimignano, the Chianti countryside, and Cinque Terre on Italy's riviera on the Ligurian coast. Highlights include tours of Tuscan estates producing olive oil and wines, along with a traditional Tuscan cooking class. A performance of Mozart's Abduction from the Seraglio is also a possibility. Numbers are limited, so if this trip appeals to you, please let us know now and we will get back to you as soon as the package price and brochure are finalized.

Robert Tewsley website

Visit www.roberttewsley.com for news, performance dates, pictures and videos.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Ivan Vasiliev

Another Tours en l'air hot tip!
A group of us just went to Washington to see the Bolshoi and were privileged to see their amazing young talent (just turned 21), Ivan Vasiliev, in the title role of Spartacus. You have never seen anyone jump like this! There are several clips of him on YouTube. Just type "Ivan Vasiliev" into the search and they will come up, including some from Spartacus. But make sure you check out the Golden Idol from Bayadere as well (plus Don Quixote and all the others!).
Enjoy!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Dress rehearsal at Pacific Northwest Ballet

An entertaining tale from a Facebook post by PNB corps de ballet dancer Jessika Anspach, about their recent dress rehearsal for Sleeping Beauty:

And the rehearsal was pretty rough. Not only did we struggle with orchestra tempos, but there were costume malfunctions, and special effect flubs. Well that's what dress rehearsals are for - ironing out the creases, which we most certainly did. And just as we were about to be dismissed can you guess what happened? The McCaw Hall fire alarm went off... and this was NOT a drill.

So we all, clad in our costumes of tutus, pantaloons and gold heels - the men's attire, wigs and stage makeup, marched outside to wait on the sidewalk of Mercer Street in the cold, wet weather. Olivier Wevers, dressed as Carabosse the evil fairy, began to wave at the cars that slowly drove past us. It was quite a sight to see! We looked like a freak show - or at least that was the message conveyed by the baffled and slightly horrified expressions of those people who witnessed this spectacle.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Ballet in London in April

Tours en l'air Ballet Holidays is organizing an April trip to London for ballet lovers. Includes great seats to see the Royal Ballet in Ashton's Cinderella and La Fille mal Gardee and an all-MacMillan
program, Birmingham Royal Ballet Sleeping Beauty, and Mark Morris Dance Group, plus other ballet treats! Signup deadline is February 10th! For info, contact toursenlair@cwtvictortravel.ca