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.
For a taste of what our trips are like, follow on facebook.
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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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 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 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.


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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)
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)
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.


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

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 ( 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
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 »
Cumberland 4 - Alliance Cinemas
159 Cumberland Street, Toronto, ON, Canada
1:00 4:00 7:00 10:00