by Catherine L. Tully
What a delight! Christopher Hobson has really come up with lovely arrangements that work for ballet class here on “Sounds of Christmas“. I doubt it was an easy task to make these songs fit for barre and center, but the way he has done it–they sound totally natural.
I can see this being a great fit for classes at any level. Children may recognize familiar Nutcracker tunes such as Waltz of the Flowers or the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. They’ll certainly know favorites such as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Jingle Bells!
There is certainly plenty here for adults as well, with tracks such as Santa Baby and O Holy Night. Some are fun, some are beautiful–and all are extremely well crafted. Where a collection of Christmas music tends to make one worry about it being a campy bunch of poorly arranged tracks, instead Hobson has done the opposite and delivered a treasure trove of melodies for use in any ballet class.
Get yourself this Christmas gift–or give it to a teacher you know for the holiday. It’s terrific.
Disclosure: MBSM advertises on 4dancers
Modern Ballet Studio Melodies, Volume 4 by the talented Christopher Hobson is a standout for its variety in style and its inspiring energy. The album contains thirty-six tracks of music with no repeats for the seventeen barre pieces. Hobson plays something for everyone, from Debussy and Prokofiev to the themes from “South Park,” ET and Indiana Jones.
All the music on the disc is dynamic, and the adagio tracks, seven in all, are especially sensitive and lyrical. The two grande allegro tracks are on the slow side, but the rest of the allegro music has a wide enough range of length and tempi to make this CD work for many different class levels. The same is true of the music for barre: most exercises have multiple choices of music. The versatility offered here comes as no surprise; in addition to composing and arranging music for the studio and the stage, Hobson has been commissioned to compose music for the International Dance Teachers Association’s entire ballet syllabus.
Overall Christopher Hobson delivers a delicious mix of brightness, weight, attitude, and spice on Modern Ballet Studio Melodies 4. It’s suitable and inspiring for many levels from intermediate student to professional.
by Gigi Berardi
Stunning, breathtakingly beautiful, and unparalleled in programing and performance, PNB’s November program, Kylian + Pite, was one not to be missed. It is easily the most memorable (non-full-length ballet) program in the almost 20 years that I have been viewing and reviewing the company.
Huge kudos to Peter Boal, ballet masters all, and the generous supporters that made the PNB premieres possible – Forgotten Land (Kylian) and Emergence (Pite). Both ballets were utterly unforgettable, not to mention the gorgeous music of the PNB Orchestra.
In terms of performance, here are just a few highlights –
Foster and Mullin as the insect creatures emerging from the depths in Crystal Pite’s Emergence
- Orza, Porretta, Bold, Gaines, and Bartee, as well as every single principal female — in anything
- Samuelson breaking out and through in everything
- Actually, all the petite mort dancers, who lived and breathed the ballet’s roles
- In Sechs Tänze, the Imler, Merchant, Foster, Kitchens crew – mesmerizing
- Forgotten Land – every single dancer made that piece come alive – haunting with a capital “H,” the dancers were aided in their other-worldliness by the literal and exquisite East Anglia backdrop
- Week 2, virtually all the corps dancers (there were a few that needed a bit more confidence, if not rehearsal) in first-time roles – Bravo, Brava, Bravi, Brave!!!!!
This program, quite simply, will live in PNB’s history as one of its finest. Of course, there’s always 2014-2015.
Gigi Berardi holds a MA in dance from UCLA. Her academic background and performing experience allow her to combine her interests in the natural and social sciences with her passion for dance, as both critic and writer. Over 150 articles and reviews by Ms. Berardi have appeared in Dance Magazine, Dance International, the Los Angeles Times, the Anchorage Daily News, The Olympian, The Bellingham Herald, and scientific journals such as BioScience, Human Organization, and Ethics, Place, and Environment. Her total work numbers over 400 print and media pieces.
Her public radio features (for KSKA, Anchorage) have been recognized by the Society of Professional Journalists. She has served on the Board of Directors of the Dance Critics Association, and is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, as well as Book Review editor for The Journal of Dance Medicine & Science. A professor at Western Washington University, she received the university’s Diversity Achievement Award in 2004. Her fifth book, Finding Balance: Fitness and Training for a Lifetime in Dance, is in its second printing. Her current book project is titled A Cultivated Life.0
“Organic” is the word Bruno Collinet uses most to describe his movement philosophy in this 60-minute Contemporary Dance Warmup (by Tezoro LIVE Productions). That word has become so widely used in so many different contexts that it carries little descriptive power, but in this case one thing “organic” certainly means it that the movement feels good. Technique is not the emphasis here, rather, a sense of listening to the body while directing its energy. The movement is expansive and invigorating, challenging yet therapeutic. Bruno Collinet’s teaching manner is warm and welcoming, dynamic and energetic as he guides the viewer through five sections of elastic, visceral movement.
Each section is demonstrated in the studio by Collinet and two assistant dancers, and then shown with music in a class. The dancers on the video are arranged in different facings, making the movement sequences easy to learn.
Section I is floor work—a series of contractions, swings, rolls, and stretches “to put the body in a good mood,” as Collinet puts it. This is followed in the class by shoulder stretches, balance, and spotting work. In turning the head, Collinet emphasizes taking the eyes (“the look”) first, then following through with the head, something that often gets overlooked in many exercises for spotting or head isolation. I was happy to see it addressed here.
Section II focuses on the hips, backs of legs, and outsides of legs in a sequence of standing weight transfers, loose developpes, a fall, and a little more floor work. In section III, plies in first, second, and fourth position are deliciously tangled up with suspensions, cambres, and balances on two feet and one foot. Sections IV and V are a set of leg swings front and back in attitude. Section V emphasizes equilibrium with more suspensions and balances punctuating each repetition of the leg swing set.
This warmup is a comfortable and stimulating full-body workout. It was easy enough to follow and left me feeling powerful, coordinated, and in touch with my limbs and the ground. Taken at a slower pace or performed in reverse order, it could also make a good cool-down for looseness and relaxation after dancing.0
Michele Assaf is on faculty at Broadway Dance Center in New York City. She is also co-founder of Tezoro Productions Live, the producers of this instructional DVD. She has directed, produced and choreographed for opera, theater, and recording artists across the country.
This one-hour DVD contains a video index of turns and a segment of across the floor turning combinations. The index covers turns large and small, from chaines all the way to grand pirouettes and fouette turns, in classical and contemporary shapes. The enchainements range from the very simple—four chaines and a balance in retire—to quite complex—a variety of ball-change and pirouette combinations, with interesting rhythmic and dynamic variations in the turns and transitions. Each turn and combination is shown as a balance or shape-by shape breakdown, then a single turn, then at a faster tempo or with multiple turns. Groups of students show each level of difficulty, and it’s interesting and helpful to see the individual style and dynamic of each dancer, especially for the more advanced combinations. Assaf states that the key in learning to turn lies in each dancer feeling the sensation of centered turning in his or her own body.
Regrettably, Assaf uses a breakdown for linked pique turns that’s all too common, but ineffective. First, the rond de jambe from front to side to prepare for pique turns en dedans, and next, a tombe to the side for piques en dehors. The physics of movement make the extra action of rond de jambe counterproductive in linked turns, and to tombe over second results in a turned-in second leg. The more advanced dancers disprove the usefulness of the breakdowns. Especially for multiple rotations, they simply pique or tombe forward over fourth position.
As a grab-bag of material, this DVD has a lot to offer, but it provides comparatively little in terms of analysis or useful correction. Its value is in the quantity and clarity of the content presented.
Here’s a look at the video: