The Nutcracker by Disney!

The Nutcracker by Disney!

December 10th, 2017 at the Plainfield South High School Auditorium, Plainfield Dance Academy will be performing their annual production of The Nutcracker!

Now that we’re a little less than a month away from the big day, we thought it’d be a fun idea to do a few special posts about this most beloved holiday ballet leading up to our performance! And since Saturday mornings are when we have our Pre-Ballet – Ballet 2 classes with the little ones, we thought that we’d talk about our favourite childhood memory of the music from the Nutcracker: Disney’s Fantasia!

In 1940, Walt Disney with his best team of animators, accompanied by Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra, created what would become one of Disney’s most beloved classics. Using classical music to narrate the stories, the animators created their own works of art not based on the original intent of the music but, the feeling and imagery it brought to mind for them. Through this concept, they changed the way people listened to the music from Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece.

What is The Nutcracker?

The story that appears in The Nutcracker ballet is based on a story written by E.T.A. Hoffmann in 1816 called “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King”. The story follows Marie, 7, her eight year old brother Fritz, as they spend the Christmas holiday with their grandfather, Drosselmeier. Marie sees a nutcracker on the mantel, which Drosselmeier says she can be the special caretaker of. After an argument with her brother for breaking the nutcracker, Marie sleeps and dreams of many different adventures with the nutcracker, armies of mice and other fanciful dreams.

Using this story, Tchaikovsky wrote his last and most famous ballet of a similar name: The Nutcracker, in 1891. Changing Marie’s name to Clara, as well as a few other minor details, the music as well as the ballet itself has become one of the most recognizable works of art in the world. Oddly enough, it’s widely known that Tchaikovsky wasn’t pleased with the end result of the music, thinking of it as one of the worst pieces he’d ever written. How wrong a person can be!

Fantasia!

When Disney gained the rights to use the music from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker in their film, they created stories completely different than that most commonly associated with this music.

The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies

In this visual recreation of the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies, we follow the clever fairies of the forest who bring color and life to the dull, colorless world. They dance and fly about spreading joy, whimsy, color and fun to the flowers, trees and waters.

Some fairies use their magic to make flowers bloom and spread a glistening dew upon the various plants in the forest, representing the Spring and Summer.

This imagery makes the changing of the weather seem more magical than you could’ve possibly thought! Click the image to watch the video!

The Chinese Dance

In this sequence, we are introduced to a small family of mushrooms, dancing in a circle, with the star of the number being the runt of the group. During this performance, the tiniest mushroom tries desperately to keep up with the bigger mushrooms without being left out. He struggles to keep up with the number but, ultimately takes center-stage in the finale spotlight!

It’s as whimsical and light-hearted and the music itself and one of the Fantasia crowd-favorites.

Dance of the Reed Flutes

The animators used the idea of dancing flowers and turned them into ballerinas. Following the music as it speeds up, increases in volume and intensity, and decreases its intensity, the flowers spin on point just as dancers in a pair of pointe shoes.

The majority of the flowers, the company of dancers, are a variety of orange, pink and blue. In the center is the solo white flower’ the prima ballerina. At the end of the number, the entire company of flowers and the white flower spin off of a waterfall to bring us to the next number.

The Arabian Dance

This scene slows things down a bit with an almost trans-causing dance by a fish that the Disney animators interestingly enough named “the Lola fish”. Take that however you will. It’s a very short piece that Disney didn’t really make too much of a story out of.

But, the animation is top notch for it’s time with the way they animated under water movement and it’s effect on the water itself. Many people said the same thing and saw this as a turning point for the Disney animation team. Oh boy, if they only knew what the future had in store for them.

The Russian Dance

Not only is this one of the most popular numbers in the Nutcracker suite, this animation sequence is one of the most beloved number in Fantasia. The Disney animators knocked it out of the park with bright colors and lively imagery that they put to this music. The thistle flowers represent the male dancers and the orchids represent the female dancers, even looking somewhat similar to what traditional Russian dancers wear!

The joy and uptempo beat of the song makes it very easy to watch and enjoy. For a brief moment, you almost forget that these are dancing flowers because of the animators ability to humanize them through their appearance and mannerisms!

The Waltz of the Flowers

Do you remember the Spring and Summer fairies from the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies? Well, in this final Nutcracker piece, we are introduced to the fairies of the Autumn and Winter. The music helps tell the tale of the fairies who change the colors of the leaves and bring the frost and snowflakes to the world. These are the fairies who freeze water and skate upon it leaving behind trails of their magic.

The way the music captures the power and might of the winter at the end, moves seamlessly with the work of the animators. It’s images like these that helped so many little girls decide to become little ballerinas themselves and then find out that they get to dance to this exact same music!

The Disney animators responsible for the classic that is Fantasia are considered pioneers in the way animation is perceived and in the way we perceive music. The music from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite is timeless and brings many different memories to each person that listens to it.

Tell us, what does this music do for you?

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Dance Movies to Watch on a Rainy Day!

Dance Movies to Watch on a Rainy Day!

Fall or Autumn, however you choose to refer to it, is the #2 favourite season according to numerous online polls. Why? Could it be the leaves changing color? Maybe it’s the fashion such as boots, jackets and scarves! It might even be the popular craze of making EVERYTHING pumpkin spice flavored. For most people, it’s simply the change in weather. And with good reason, too! This change in weather usually includes gloomier, cloudier days or rainy days. Sometimes, when it’s raining outside, all you want to do is grab a warm blanket and watch a movie. When we see this kind of weather coming, we’ve got a particular selection of movies that are reserved for days like this. These are what are commonly referred to Rainy Day Movies. But, wait, this is a blog all about ballet and dance! So, what do you think the theme of today’s movie list is going to be? Dance, of course! This list will be in order of most recently released to the old classics.

So, grab your favorite fuzzy blanket, pour yourself your favorite warm tea, dim the lights and enjoy these amazing movies for a perfect rainy day!

A Ballerina’s Tale

What dancer doesn’t love Misty Copeland?

This documentary, made in 2015, introduced the world to the ballerina who would soon take the world by storm. With her fame already rising by the time the film came out, Misty Copeland is now a household name for those privy to the world of ballet. For those unaware of her story, this documentary takes you along on her journey through triumphs and obstacles such as race and injury.

If you’re stuck inside while the rain comes down and you’re looking for a bit of inspiration, watching anything that has to do with Misty Copeland will put an extra pep in your step. This film, in particular though, will give you hope for your wildest dreams and motivation to see them through.

Watch the trailer here! –> A Ballerina’s Tale

Back Swan

This suspenseful film from 2010 was the one to take Academy Award season by storm. This film is rated R, so viewer discretion is advised.

The film follows Nina who wishes to portray the roles of Odette and Odile in Tchaikovsky’s timeless ballet, Swan Lake. Unable to portray the darker of the two, Odile, Nina struggles to find her footing in the company. With another dancer beginning to seem like strong competition, Nina spirals out of control and begins to lose grip with reality.

That’s as much as can be said without giving away the ending. But, if you’re age-appropriate, this is definitely an intriguing and fascinating story to watch unfold.

Watch the trailer here! –> Black Swan

 

Hairspray

2007’s summer hit, Hairspray, took the box office by storm and made the idea of the movie musical cool again! The story follow Tracy Turnblad who lives in Baltimore and rushes home everyday after school with her best friend, Penny Pingleton, to watch the Corny Collins Show, a popular local dance show. The teens on the show are the most popular kids in town and have the after school job that everyone dreams of having, dancing on television!

Tracy dreams of dancing on the show someday but is body shamed by the mean girls at the audition. Determined to make everyone feel beautiful and to bring to segregation in Baltimore to an end, she rallies with her friends to fight for justice. Doesn’t sound like much of a dance flick, huh? Well, you’d be surprised! Known as one of the most dance-heavy shows on Broadway, this film adaptation is no different!

Watch a movie clip here! –> Hairspray Movie Clip

Billy Elliot

After years on the Broadway stage, the inspirational story of Billy Elliot was brought to the big screen in 2007. Raised by a tough-as-nails father who’s facing a strike as a miner in 1984’s England, Billy is enrolled in boxing lessons (which he has no interest in) just like his brothers and his father before him. One day, Billy accidentally wanders his way into a neighboring studio where a ballet class is in session. Unexpectedly, he finds a love for the art and hopes to make it his life’s work. Surrounded by naysayers, especially his own father, Billy must rise above all those who would oppose his dreams.

Gritty and heart-wrenching at times, this is one film that will have you rooting for the underdog and inspire you to dream big.

Watch the trailer here! –> Billy Elliot

 

 

Dirty Dancing

“Nobody puts baby in a corner.”

Who hasn’t seen this movie or said that line before?

Dirty Dancing came out in 1987 to critical acclaim as a smash hit. Today, it’s still revered as a classic dance flick. The story follows Baby, the daughter in a wealthy family who makes their summer trip to a prestigious country club. Appearing as a pretty sheltered young lady, Baby meets Johnny who works at the club and teaches dancing lessons to the women there. After some time, Baby finds her way into the staff hangout where, you guessed it, they’re “dirty” dancing, a.k.a. basically any dance that would shock the old fogies.

Johnny begins to give private lessons to Baby and the sparks start to fly between them.

Watch the trailer here! –> Dirty Dancing trailer

West Side Story

An absolute classic for any dancer, 1961’s West Side Story, which stars Natalie Wood at the height of her career, is the story of Maria and Tony, two star-crossed lovers from the two rivaling sides of town. The Jets hate the Sharks and the Sharks hate the Jets. Tony and Maria accidentally meet and fall in love despite their communities. Considered the 60’s remake of Romeo & Juliet, West Side Story is filled with amazing dances and timeless songs such as  Tonight, Tonight and I Feel Pretty. With themes like social and racial prejudices, and street violence, this film has remained a favorite passed on through generations.

So which team are you on? Are you a Jet or a Shark?

Watch the trailer here! –> West Side Story trailer

 

 

 

Singin’ In The Rain

You see the irony in this choice, right?

If you’ve never seen the classic 1952 movie musical Singin’ in the Rain, then congratulations on finally coming out from under that rock you’ve been living in.

This movie stars Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, and Donald O’Connor who sing and dance their way into your hearts. Set during the introduction of “talking pictures”, a.k.a. movies with sound, a movie studio struggles and begins teaching their top stars how to act for this new development in cinematic technology. This movie is jam-packed with songs that everybody knows such as Good Mornin’, Make ‘Em Laugh, and of course Singin’ in the Rain!

Considered one of the greatest, possibly the greatest, movie musicals of all time, this movie is still one of the best selling films even on the digital market! For dancers in particular who are looking to be amazed, watch out for the song and dance called Moses Supposes. This, too, is considered one of the greatest tap numbers ever performed. And, amazingly, it was all shot in one take!

Watch the trailer here! –> Singin’ in the Rain trailer

Here Are Some Honorable Mentions (All Old Classics)

Baby Take a Bow from 1934’s Stand Up and Cheer starring Shirley Temple –> WATCH HERE!

I Like Myself from 1955’s It’s Always Fair Weather starring Gene Kelly –> WATCH HERE!

At the Codfish Ball from Captain January starring Shirley Temple –> WATCH HERE!

You’re All The World To Me from Royal Wedding starring Fred Astaire –> WATCH HERE!

You’re Gonna Dance With ME from Living It Up starring Jerry Lewis –> WATCH HERE!

The Dance of the Dead!

The Dance of the Dead!

It’s October! And you know what that means!

HALLOWEEN!!!!!!

And with all of the excitement surrounding this holiday, it’s a wonderful time to showcase your talents as a dancer by creating routines to some truly haunting music! Here’s our list of our favourite spooky tunes! We’re going to cover everything from classical compositions to horror movies to creepy songs that everyone knows and loves!

Classical... 

  1. Toccata and Fugue by Johann Sebastian Bach
  2. Funeral March by Chopin
  3. Night on Bald Mountain by Modest Mussorgsky

Horror Films...

  1. theme from Dead Silence
  2. opening theme from Psycho
  3. theme from The Shining
  4. theme from Nightmare on Elm Street
  5. theme from The Exorcist
  6. This is Halloween from The Nightmare Before Christmas

Songs Everyone Knows...

  1. Thriller by Michael Jackson
  2. I Put A Spell On You by Jay Hawkins

 

A quick search on YouTube will give you all the help you’ll need!

Happy Choreographing!!

Costumes So On Pointe, It’s Scary!

Costumes So On Pointe, It’s Scary!

Quick History Lesson

As many already know, Halloween was originally a pagan holiday called All Hallow’s Eve; a night in which the spirits of the dead could walk amongst the living. People of the time would dress as ghouls themselves to trick the spirits into leaving them alone and out of harm’s way. The tradition of trick-or-treating began as a peace offering from the living to the dead. Leaving out treats for the spirits and offering treats to those dressed as spirits would show a sign of peace among the two worlds, the world of the living and the world of the dead.

Now for the fun!

To this day, we keep up the tradition of dressing up, although the motivation behind the tradition has changed over the years.

As dancers, we have an ability that most others don’t. We have the ability to move swiftly, gracefully, almost gliding past others with our movements. Some might say that a ballet dancer sometimes looks like they’re floating on air rather than dancing. So, why not take this opportunity to relive the past and really celebrate Halloween, or All Hallow’s Eve, the way it was intended. Here are some costume ideas that are so on pointe, it’s scary!

The Lady in White

If you’re a fan of ghost hunting shows like Ghost Adventures, Paranormal State, etc., then you’ve heard countless stories about places being haunted by a lady in white. And no, it’s not the same lady. There ladies in white haunting buildings and sites all over the world. Usually they’re quiet, polite and mostly seen roaming the halls or appearing in doorways or balconies. While many ghosts are known to be scary or spooky, the lady in white is mostly intriguing and mysterious.

With some tulle or other sheer white/off-white fabrics, nude pointe shoes and and some sort of prop (recommended: a candlestick, candelabra or a lantern), you can float around and catch the eye of everyone around you. For some extra effects, use a pale foundation for a “lifeless” face and gray powder for dull, dead eyes. If you’re going to a Halloween party, it’s an even better opportunity to surprise your friends by disappearing around the corners!

The Bride of the Dead

This is another excellent choice if you want to go for something more creepy and mysterious than full-on scary. The bride of the dead, or the black bride is yet another figure in the paranormal that has been seen in many different haunted locations. Sometimes evil, sometimes broken-hearted, the bride of the dead is another character who floats amongst the living and disappears into thin air. Anyone can rock this costume but, especially dancers because of their grace.

Using a long black dress, maybe spray paint an old prom dress you don’t care so much about, black gloves and a black veil to cover your face. If you want to go the extra mile, you can dust some black powder and use any other black makeup to hide your face further. Talk about a dark spirit!

The Grim Reaper

What’s scarier than death itself? Talk about the ultimate creeping, looming figure.

The grim reaper instills fear in everyone it passes, especially on Halloween. This costume is perfect to creep out your friends, fellow party-goers and passerby. The key is to move as smoothly as possible and remain absolutely silent. The one thing the grim reaper is known for is silence, mystery and intimidation. Never answer anyone’s questions and always hover. And when people ask you who’s hiding in that costume (because they definitely will) you will give them no answer. BOOM! Instant fear!

Find a large/over-sized black or gray hooded cloak at a costume shoppe, or creating one on your own, that’s basically your entire costume! For extra spook factor, dust it with a light application of baby powder to give it an aged look. I mean, think about it, have you ever seen an old haunted mansion that isn’t covered in dust? I think not. The final step is to cover your face with dark makeup or find a dark mask to wear. Get a lantern or candelabra or (FAKE) reaper to carry and spook your friends.

And Now, The SCARY One…

The Undead Ballerina!

What’s the perfect costume for a ballerina? A ballerina of course! But, this is Halloween, a time for the dead to walk among the living. So, an undead or zombie ballerina is obviously a perfect fit!

Find some of your old costumes that you don’t use anymore and are allowed to mess up for this costume. Add some dirt, tear it up a little, splash it with fake blood and you’re off to scare the pants off of those trick-or-treaters!  If you can stand wearing costume contact lenses like the ones in this picture, then more power to ya! This is a costume that’s guaranteed to shock friends, disgust family and give party-goers the heeby-geebies!

Well, those are our costume recommendations for you! Do you have any that you’d like to share with us? Leave us a comment! Which one of ours is your favourite? If you’re unsure what to be this year, we hope this helped!

Have A Laugh!

Have A Laugh!

Ballet is a serious business. It can take a lifetime to perfect a technique, to strengthen your abilities to emote or to connect your story with your audience. As serious as a dancer is about their craft, there’s also a funny side to the art of ballet. With all of the time spent focusing, rehearsing and exercising, it’s not too hard to imagine that dancers need a good laugh now and then. It’s never been said (or said with any truth, that is), that ballerinas don’t have an awesome sense of humor. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. And when comedy meets ballet, all rules go out the window.

Today being Friday, we’ve decided that it’s probably time to share a good laugh with our readers. First off, here’s a terrible joke told to us by one of the studio’s instructors:

“How many dance teachers does it take to change a light bulb?

Five!… Six!… Seven!… Eight!”

It’s terrible but, you laughed and you know it.

So, about that good laugh that we just promised you… We’ve, once again, scoured the internet to find one website and videos from YouTube that are guaranteed to make you laugh. First, the websites.

That last joke we told you was also found on the page that we’re about to recommend now! These jokes come from none other than The Rockettes themselves! Who doesn’t want to be a member of that prestigious kick line?! And, of course, they would come up with hilarious/groan-worthy cracks like these! Now, for the videos that you were promised. We won’t spoil them for you if you haven’t seen them already but, we are going to provide you with a tiny little description and review of them. So, here we go!

1.) This first one is called Funniest Ballet Performance EverAnd boy is it ever! What makes this piece even better is that these dancers are clearly trained ballerinas! Not only do we get to see this hilarious parody of the awkward dancer character, but we’re also subtly exposed to some actual ballet. With the combination of the two worlds in one performance, this performance is laugh out loud amazing!

2.) Making the switch from somewhat genuine ballet to not at all, this video entitled Funny Ballerina: A Funny Ballet Dancingis clearly made purely for a bit of comic relief. With a few props and a few clever maneuvers, this routine is sure to bring a smile to your face.

3.) THIS. LITTLE. GIRL. IS. EVERYTHING. The video is Johanna Channeling Aretha Franklinis beyond hilarious as we watch little Johanna take the stage in a way that no one saw coming. No more description is necessary. We’ll just leave you to witness the magic for yourself.

 

Passion ~ Dedication ~ Artistry

Why Do We Dance?

Why Do We Dance?

It can be difficult to explain why we have the passions that we have. It’s true that we can pick up hobbies out of choice but, sometimes, we can’t help what we love. We can’t help having a true passion for something. Dancers are among the most passionate and artistic people in the world. Verbally, this post is going to be quite short. We’re going to let the passion of this young artist do the speaking for us. But as you watch, think about how much love she’s sharing in each movement. Imagine being so passionate about something that you are completely unable to fight expressing it. Dance isn’t just a fun little thing to do when a good song comes on. Dance is a story of many different emotions. The dancer is the author. If this video doesn’t motivate you to keep dancing, we don’t know what will.

Ballerina From Palestine Could Not Resist The Melody of a Street Musician in Italy.

Passion ~ Dedication ~ Artistry

Icons: Margot Fonteyn

Icons: Margot Fonteyn

Ballet super star and crowd princess, Margot Fonteyn, was actually born with the name Margaret Evelyn Hookham on May 18th, 1919. At the age of 14, she was enrolled in the Royal Ballet School in the UK where she changed her name to Margot Fonteyn and was groomed to be the next prima ballerina. After displaying natural grace and talents, Fonteyn joined the Royal Ballet’s 1949 American tour where she portrayed Princess Aurora in Sleeping Beauty in NYC. Crowds were stunned by her performance and she was soon considered the most successful ballerina in the world.

After some time, Fonteyn met unfavorable Panama political figure Roberto “Tito” Arias and the two were married in Paris in 1955. While “Tito” was planning an invasion of Panama City, Fonteyn was made a Dame of the Order of the British Empire in 1956. After a failed invasion and a few more years of decreased work, Fonteyn considered retirement from the art of ballet at the age of 43. Fate had other plans. Fonteyn met her ultimate ballet counterpart Rudolf Nureyev. The two would go on to perform numerous classic ballets together that would become iconic pieces loved by generations. Her final performance was in 1986, at the age of 66, as the queen in Sleeping Beauty; the same ballet that began her road to stardom. Fonteyn passed away of cancer on February 21st, 1991. She is still remembered today as the little princess who stole the hearts of many in New York and would become one half of one of the greatest ballet duos of all time.

You Know You’re A Dancer If…

You Know You’re A Dancer If…

It’s no surprise that dancers, no matter the genre, live in a special world separate from the rest of us! They have their own style, lingo and memories that the rest of us can’t really begin to understand. It’s kind of like going away to summer camp and then trying to retell stories to your friends from home. Everything seems to be have a “you had to be there” vibe. So, it’s only natural that some of the best moments are shared among other dancers.

If you’re a fan of YouTube, and who isn’t, then there are more than a few awesome videos with dancers being their key audience. Buzzfeed absolutely killed it with their video 13 Weird Things Former Dancers Do and Refinery29 shows us some cringe-worthy moves with Lucie Fink Trains Like A Professional Ballerina. There is, however, a different kind of video meant specifically for dancers that are more relatable than any other more professionally polished video out there. Yes, we’re talking about the S**t People Say trend from 2012.

This trend took YouTube by storm in early 2012, giving audiences a peek into the lives and inside jokes of different lifestyles, ethnicities and interests of people around the world. All videos were done in humor and good faith and the most popular seemed to be those focusing on those involved in various sports. So, of course, OUR favorites are all of the s**t people say videos made by dancers. Here’s one that we just can’t stop laughing at! S**t Dancers NEVER Say!

We hope you laugh as hard as we did!

Passion ~ Dedication ~ Artistry

Plainfield Dance Academy is on Pinterest!

Plainfield Dance Academy is on Pinterest!

In this social media driven world, you’re nobody until you’re being followed on all of the top social media sites! So, it makes sense that Plainfield Dance Academy is wrapped up in the fantastic world that is Pinterest!

Why Follow Us On Pinterest?

We add new pins to our 14 amazing boards ranging in topics all having to do with ballet and dance and, of course, Plainfield Dance!

What Kind Of Boards Do We Have?

We’ve got all kinds of boards covering topics such as Health & Nutrition, Life Beyond The Curtain, how to Shop Like A Dancer, and SO many more!

We add new pins to our boards daily and follow back as many of our followers as we possibly can because we want to see what interests you, too! Check out any of the links within this post and we’ll see you on the boards soon!

Passion ~ Dedication ~ Artistry

3 Amazing News Websites for Dancers!

3 Amazing News Websites for Dancers!

Finally something for the dancers!

Every news website either seems to be aimed towards audiences focusing on either pop culture or politics. But, we’ve done our research and found our top 3 picks for all the news in dance!

1.) Dancing Times (UK)

dancing-times.co.uk

2.) Dance Spirit

dancespirit.com

3.) Pointe Magazine

pointemagazine.com

These sites have countless articles varying in topics from technique to diet to life behind the curtain. If you love reading about the world you’re so immersed in, you should check these three regularly. AND US! In addition to world dance news, we also upload regular posts about the goings-on here at Plainfield Dance Academy! So, make sure that you’re keeping up with all of our posts at plainfielddanceacademy.com/plainfield-dance-academy-blog

Passion ~ Dedication ~ Artistry