Ballet For Beginners

Interested in starting up ballet? From my term following the ballet culture, I have learned that there is no such thing as being too young or too old for this beautiful art form. Continue reading

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Did you know?

Ballet dancers undoubtedly walk with grace even when they are out of the studio. Every step, every movement seems impossibly graceful, yet natural for them.

The Black Swan brought attention to this art form in 2010 when Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis blew us all away with (in my opinion) a fantastic film highlighting the ups and downs of the competitive ballet world. It also brought attention to the fact that many actresses were also once dancers – their graceful movements taught in the dance studio translating to the graceful movements in front of the camera. These two actresses were able to fill their roles so well because they too had ballet backgrounds.

Continue reading to see other actresses who also have ballet backgrounds – did you know? Does it surprise you?

Continue reading

Life of a Ballet Dancer (Rough Draft)

Tell Megan Duling that her major is a waste of time and money.

Do it. I dare you.

She will come back with a well-crafted, well-rehearsed response that she has had to give the past three years now.

The University of Oregon senior sat down with me to talk about her life as a dancer – literally, her life. She dances seven days a week, from classes to rehearsal to teaching – and never regrets her decision on pursuing this dream.

 


Gerlinger Filming

I spent a bit of this past Friday in Gerlinger Annex for the first time to film Megan Duling dance.

The 21-year-old University of Oregon senior spends a lot of her time here, so it made the most sense to film her in her environment, especially since this is where dance classes normally take place. She was prepared, wearing dance gear and establishing one of the studio rooms for us. It was large, bright and had a great white backdrop as well as a wall with a mirror.

UO senior Megan Duling dances in Gerlinger Annex - a place that she spends almost 7 days a week dancing in.

UO senior Megan Duling dances in Gerlinger Annex – a place that she spends almost 7 days a week dancing in.

B-Roll was and will be hard for this video. I got some great shots of her dancing, but it’s only with those two backgrounds. Though her moves were beautiful, I’m sure viewers will grow bored of just watching her continue to dance.

So she invited me to come film a rehearsal this morning. Great, right? I would be able to get some shots of her interacting with her peers. Unfortunately, she called me this morning to tell me she was sick and would not be going to the rehearsal after all.

I’m hoping to get more shots of her dancing throughout the week in different environments. Her instructor invited me to come film during a class on Thursday, which I am excited to place into my video.

Behind the Scenes at Ballet Fantastique

For never having taken a dance lesson in my life, I sure have became pretty educated in the subject.

Over the past couple of weeks I have gotten the opportunity to shadow Ballet Fantastique as the contemporary ballet company prepared for their production Zorro, which they performed this past week at the Hult Center in downtown Eugene. Before the opening night of Zorro, I had the chance to sit down with co-directors Donna and Hannah Bontrager. The mother-daughter duo told me their story and the hopes for the future of Ballet Fantastique. Watch below to hear what they had to say!

Behind-The-Scenes at Ballet Fantastique

My journey of ballet discovery began at a moderately-sized studio tucked behind the Downtown Athletic Club. I knew this was exactly where I needed to be, not because co-director Hannah Bontrager told me the address, but because a Zorro poster adorned every window pane.

I walked in cautiously; I mean, this was my first time ever walking into a professional ballet studio. I was directed upstairs to meet Hannah in person.

Below is a synopsis of my short trip to the studio, in photos and captions:

The opening night of Zorro is in t-minus seven days, so I wasn't too surprised to find Hannah busy on the phone working with the printer company to finalize the programs for the show. She then immediately sent emails to follow up with the conversation.

The opening night of Zorro is in t-minus seven days, so I wasn’t too surprised to find Hannah busy on the phone working with the printer company to finalize the programs for the show. She then immediately sent emails to follow up with the conversation.

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I coincidentally visited the studio on co-director Donna Bontrager’s birthday. They take some time out of practice to celebrate with some cake. This was a great opportunity to see how family-oriented ballet companies can be.

A costume check and fitting gets thrown in the mix for Fabio Simoes, who will play Zorro. He said that his shoes take at least two minutes to lace - but that's only with help.

A costume check and fitting gets thrown in the mix for Fabio Simoes, who will play Zorro. He said that his shoes take at least two minutes to lace – but that’s only with help.

Finally, practice begins. This winds up being a "cleaning" practice - meaning they only concentrated on perfecting one scene under the watchful eye of Donna.

Finally, practice begins. This winds up being a “cleaning” practice – meaning they only concentrated on perfecting one scene under the watchful eye of Donna.

As practice went on, I could begin to feel the tension in the studio and a sense that I should probably leave soon. That was confirmed when Donna politely asked me to, which I was fine with – I had gotten a good amount of photos and audio for my first day visiting. The tension was merely from trying to perfect the scene they were working on – a scene that will be performed for hundreds in just one week.

Overall I had a fun experience at the studio. It was definitely new for me, and I spent the majority of it trying to get a feel for it and what exactly I wanted/needed to shoot. I’m excited to come back again now that I have a solid idea of what I’m getting myself into. Thank you to Ballet Fantastique for giving me an exclusive look into the inner workings of your company!