Dancers: Behind the Scenes with The Royal Ballet

Dancers: Behind the Scenes at The Royal Ballet by Andrej UspenskiThe 1st April 2013 saw the release of Dancers: Behind the Scenes with The Royal Ballet by Andrej Uspenski (himself a First Soloist with The Royal Ballet). Andrej’s exquisite photographic book contains images of some of the world’s most gifted dancers, drawing us into the beautiful world of ballet and showing us an “insider’s” perspective of the workings of The Royal Ballet at the same time.Andrej Uspenski's Photos of The Royal BalletThis exclusive view means we get to see behind the scenes at one of the world’s most prestigious companies, from rehearsals to opening night, through some truly breathtaking photographs.

According to Andrej, “I am in a unique position. Although I am first and foremost a dancer, working, living and spending time with other dancers, I also experience this world from behind the camera. Through this I have the opportunity to capture some of the unusually seen and unexpected images from a dancer’s day.”

About Andrej Uspenski

Andrej Uspenski trained at the Vaganova Academy in St. Petersburg, Russia. He has been a dancer at The Royal Ballet for ten years. A passionate photographer throughout his life, his photographic work has been used in international publications and in Royal Opera House programmes.

Dancers: Behind the Scenes with The Royal Ballet is available to buy from Dance Direct!

Reviews

“Uspenski’s volume shows the company in moments of unguarded intimacy that only a fellow dancer could capture.” – Daily Telegraph

“A treat… Dancers is about exceptional ballet photography and for that alone it is rare, valuable and worth collecting.” – Ballet News

“Fascinating… the pictures have a rare intimacy…an intriguing glimpse of what it’s really like to be a ballerina.” – The Lady

“This stunning collection of pictures, highly stylised and charmingly informal, is a must for any ballet fan.” – Daily Mail

The Uses Of Swiss Balls

Pineapple Fitness BallSwiss balls, known by a number of different names, are large, heavy-duty inflatable balls used for aiding core strength in dance technique. The balls offer a fun, safe and highly effective way to exercise, and are relatively inexpensive compared to other exercise equipment. Stocked by Dance Direct, for example, the Pineapple ball is burst resistant, and works to keep the entire body in shape, targeting all the major muscle groups and supporting dance work.

The Swiss ball was used as early as the 1960s, originally used by physical therapists and chiropractors in Switzerland to assist with rehabilitation and became known as the Swiss Ball. Through seminars and classes the Swiss Ball was introduced to the USA in the early 1980s and became known as extremely versatile and valuable in terms of dance. In the late 1980s coaches, athletic trainers and personal trainers also realised the effectiveness of the Swiss Ball in developing balance and core strength, and since then the fitness balls have been reported as the most effective method for core conditioning.

Using a Swiss ball will improve the strength of the abs and the lower back, as well as improving balance, proprioception and flexibility. Alignment is improved by the use of additional muscles to maintain stability and balance, abs are worked simultaneously with the back muscles through abdominal crunches on the fitness ball (which have been scientifically proven to work the abs more than the regular crunch), muscle strength, tone and endurance are improved in all of the major muscle groups, core stability is built up through the use of the major and deep muscles which helps stabilise and support the body’s movements, and stretching exercises using the ball as a tool are all fantastic uses of the Swiss ball to aid dance training and beyond to maintain the dancers’ body.

Sleek Technique

Sleek Technique

Sleek Technique, an online, ballet based, fitness programme, has been designed by two professional dancers as accessible dance-fitness programme for everyone. The live classes can be downloaded “on the go” and include authentic barre techniques and ballet bootcamps, as well as downloadable sculpting workouts delivered direct to computers, tablets and mobiles.

The technique prides itself on fitting in with busy lifestyles in order to create and maintain beautifully shaped bodies whenever and wherever you are. Sleek is an entirely portable fitness methodology, perfected for non-dancers by Birmingham Royal Ballet’s professional ballerina and fitness coach Victoria Marr and West End dancer Flik Swan. It combines elements of classical ballet technique and conditioning exercises used by the professionals to sculpt their lean, dancer bodies. The Body Beautiful workouts are delivered live online or are available to download to start transforming shapes, and with a maximum of 5 people in each live class, the founders are able to monitor technique to make sure participants get the most out of every session.

Sleek Technique combines the dancers’ knowledge on which exercises really give a toned and slender body, and the girls are always ready to help transform and aid progress. Sleek uses multi functional dance based exercises which condition and tone muscles whilst improving co-ordination, posture and stamina. These are combined with isolated isometric exercises which work to sculpt individual muscle groups. Sleek Technique is low impact and easy on joints, but high intensity to strengthen muscular structure. Stretching out each muscle group as it is worked then ensures longer, leaner, dancer like muscles are created with no bulk, to show off beautiful lines with curves in the right places.

The 2013 Genée International Ballet Competition

The 2013 Genée International Ballet Competition

The judging panel and choreographer for the Final of the 2013 Genée International Ballet Competition has been announced by the Royal Academy of Dance in the run up to its flagship competition, fondly known as the Genée. The Genée is one of the largest annual ballet competitions in the world and is widely recognised in the dance industry, with past winners going on to dance with some of the best companies.

Retired Principal ballet dancer and recently appointed RAD President Darcey Bussell CBE, Royal Ballet Director Kevin O’Hare and Scottish Ballet Artistic Director Christopher Hampson will be judging the Final at this year’s Genée, to be held in Glasgow from 20-29 September in association with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and Scottish Ballet. Hampson has been an active supporter of the Genée since 2003 when he took on the role of the Commissioned Choreographer.

The panel will select medallists from the entrants, the rising stars of ballet, who will perform variations choreographed by Royal Ballet Choreographic Apprentice Robert Binet, and also those from either 19th or 20th century classical repertoire. The entrants will have the chance to interpret new choreography from Binet, with both dancers and choreographer learning from each other. Binet’s work will be performed by both male and female competitors and will be premiered at the Final, which will take place at the Theatre Royal Glasgow on 29 September 2013. Public performances by semi-finalists will take place on 26th and 27th September at the New Athenaeum Theatre, Glasgow.

The Genée attracts high levels of talent from young dancers all over the world who have passed their RAD Advanced 2 exam. The Genée gives the judges, audience and entrants alike the chance to see the new generation of ballet talent tackle fantastic and renowned choreography on an international stage in a showcase of international dance talent.

How Should Dance Teachers Measure Up?

Measuring For Dance Costumes

Your dance shows are being prepared and the costumes have been shortlisted, but there’s still a lot to do… including taking the measurements for all your students. To help you out, here are a few tips to help you ensure all your students’ costumes fit like a glove!

General Tips

Make sure your students are wearing a leotard or other tight-fitting garment (with empty pockets!) when you are taking their measurements.

Have your students stand with their feet apart slightly and their arms straight out to their sides.

Be sure not to pull the tape too tightly and remember that younger students will continue growing throughout the year. You can ensure there is sufficient room for growth by inserting two fingers between the body and the tape measure itself.

Chest

First, measure the chest. The measurement here should be taken around the back to the chest around the fullest part. Ensure your student is not holding their breath as this will make the measurement larger than it should be. Ask your student to take a deep breath in and out – recording the measurement once they have exhaled, which should help!

Waist

Next, the waist. You should be aiming to measure the “natural waist” of the student. To find this easily, ask your student bend to one side and measure from the spot their body naturally folds at. Try to make sure your student is not sucking in his or her tummy… as with measuring the chest, the breathing trick works here too!

Hips

Now it’s time to measure the hips. Take a measurement around the widest part of the hips.

Girth

The girth is probably the most important measurement to think about for all costumes built around a leotard base. If your students are not wearing a leotard when you are measuring them, ensure their trousers are pulled all the way up! Measure over the shoulder, between the legs and back around to the centre of the shoulder where the strap of the leotard will sit.

Inseam

Last but not least, take the inseam measurement. Ensure your students are standing straight and looking directly ahead. Have them hold the measure between their legs at the innermost upper-thigh and then measure down to just below the ankle.

That’s just about it! For further guidance you can refer to our size chart and please bear in mind we always recommend going up one size if a particular student is between sizes. Of course if you have any questions you can always give us a call on 0845 330 1 330!