Rehearsals for the Tumbling Nutcracker are really starting to come together and many fantastic moments are happening.
Please enjoy a small preview of what is sure to be a fantastic show in a couple more weeks, by checking out these pictures from practices a few weeks ago.
Clara and her Nutcracker Prince’s Pas de Deux:
The big, opening Party Scene:
The Bon Bons:
The Battle Scene:
The Second Act, specialty dances:
This is going to be such a spectacular show! It will be so wonderful to see the hard work of all the tumblers, dancers, choreographers and teachers when the curtain opens and this show takes the stage on December 20th!
While the younger girls were in the back room at So Cal Dance working on their turning techniques, the older students were in the front room warming up and stretching out.
Back stretches. (Donuts)
Rockin’ and Rollin’
They worked on their splits.
Soon enough, everybody was up and starting to tumble. They began with various cartwheels.
And very quickly, most moved on to their aerials.
For some, whose aerials aren’t quite there yet, their focus was to add that extra lift to their one armed cartwheels
Some students with pretty solid aerials were working on their form (straightening up their legs or better pointing their toes) while others were putting theirs into combinations with heel stretches or turns and other tumbling tricks. Honestly, with all the pictures grouped together like this now, it’s kind of tough to figure out who was doing exactly what.
Other than aerials, there were still a lot of skills to work on, like hand stands and hand stands to back bends to standing up (front limbers)
Another back walkover
More back handsprings
Towards the end of the class, things got very complicated. All around the room students were working on their most advanced tumbling tricks and I was taking pictures madly, working the shutter in over drive trying to capture as much of it as I could.
Here’s an “almost” aerial, where a hand went down.
Here’s a back handspring from another student while that same girl from the previous picture threw her aerial again, only this time she kept her arms up and nailed it.
Another back handspring, a round off (that was going to go into a back handspring) and a one armed cartwheel.
A couple more back handsprings.
A great shot of an aerial, almost exactly in the middle.
A heel stretch into an aerial, where she held onto her leg the whole time.
Her aerial again, without the leg hold, a back tuck and another back handspring
Ms. Kelly given a spot on an aerial
Back walkover into a back handspring
Back handspring, aerial and back tuck, with spotters.
Whew, that was a lot, but the fun wasn’t over yet. All the students were sent to get a drink, grab their dance shoes and come back in ready to work with Ms. Lynnrae on their turns!
For the second half of the workshop with the older students, Ms. Lynnrae gathered the students and began with a quick introduction.
Next she called on of the students she knew well, up to the front and discussed toe point. She spoke about pointing the whole foot, starting from the ankle and making sure the whole foot is stretched to a point.
She’d brought along a spring loaded toe stretching machine which she demonstrated using for all the students, talking aging about how the most beautiful pointed feet begin up at the ankle.
Next everyone moved towards the mirror. She asked one of her students who she’d brought along to demonstrate to stand at the mirror in a pique turn position. She explained the necessity of a level head, a long neck, a nice flat back, and level lifted leg position.
She also talked about hitting a nice HIGH releve position.
The whole class lined the mirror and one of the walls to practice. Ms. Lynnrae moved around the room and made corrections.
They changed to a different position, with a bent bottom leg, and worked on that for awhile.
Then she talked about flat backs and core muscles. She had a few of her demonstrators illustrate her points. One even put on a cane to completely drive the point home.
Once again, everybody gave it a try.
Finally, she talked about the importance of having a level head, literally. Lynnrae did a headstand to demonstrate her point, which is that just as you can’t do a headstand a stay balances with your head cocked at a funny angle, you can’t turn well like that either.
She balanced books on some of the kids heads to help them find their level.
Then, finally, it was time to get up and spin.
They began with pique turns, and divided up into three large turns to practice them.
After all the groups had a few opportunities to practice, they moved on to a combination made out of several different kids of turns. First the students marked the pattern along with the instructor, then each group had a couple of goes at it.
Then came some work on fouettes and alsicones.
For the final combination, she added an illusion on to the end of an extremely complex series.
Eventually, everyone had taken their final turns, and the time was running out. Everyone gathered for a quick group photo and then it was time to pack up until next time.
For the second hour of the workshop, the younger dancers moved into the back room at the studio to work with the guest teacher, Ms. Lynnrae, on their turns.
She began by running them through a warm up to get them out of a tumbling mindset, and into a dance mode. They stretched themselves out again, and focused on their posture which would be important when they began to turn in a few minutes.
They stretched their legs while seated on the floor some more also.
They even worked on strengthening their cores.
Then, it was time for them to turn.
Ms. Lynnrae helped them perfect their starting position. She explained how you can not expect to turn well, if you start off with bad form. They must begin by standing tall, with a tight core, firm arms and strong legs.
She worked with them on perfecting their pique turning positions. She discussed how there are a lot of other options of course, for but regardless of the position one is spinning in, the dancer still needs to have strong legs, firm arms, a tight core and, of course, beautiful, tall posture.
She balanced rolls of tape on their legs and books on their heads to demonstrate her point.
With all of this in mind, then, they practiced their pique turns some more.
They worked on some other spinning positions too.
They also worked on their fouettes and alsicones.
Ms. Lynnrae put tape on one of her demonstrators to illustrate the natural “square” of the body. She explained that it is important to keep the body “square” while spinning. Too often dancers get off their balance (their square goes off kilter) and the turns don’t work.
With all the new information fresh in everyone’s brains, she had them all do some turns moving towards the front of the room. She encouraged them to carefully spot themselves in the mirror while they danced, focusing on their posture and keeping their bodies square.
Towards the end, she played a little game with one of the youngest students. She asked her to mimic like a mirror. She wanted to ensure that even the littlest ones understood they while they dance they can look to their demonstrators and try to copy what they see.
Everyone took a few more passes across the floor.
Sadly, time soon ran out. Everyone thanked Ms. Lynnrae for the amazing lesson and then they posed for a group picture together.
July’s first weekend workshop was held at So Cal Dance. It started out in the usual way, with the younger girls coming in first. They began with their normal stretching exercises and warm ups.
Half splits and more back stretches
Knee Scales, flipped over to back bends and then repeated on the other side
Some jumps were mixed in. Tucks, Pikes and of course, straddles
More back bends. Need to practice standing up from them, as well as kicking over.
Then it was time to start tumbling, with some cartwheels
Travelling back bends…. walking down the mat
One armed cartwheels
And the ever popular aerials!
Then handstands into into forward rolls
Straddle presses to handstands
Finally it was time for everyone’s final trick. Ms. Kelly calls this their “Thing of their choice.” 🙂 Most kids pick to do either the thing they are so close to finally perfecting or the one that have only just mastered.
Like this back walkover
Or this one armed front walkover.
What a great hour it had been. But time was up already and these girls needed to head next door into the other room to work on their turns…..
The second half the June workshop focused on incorporating Acro movements into Contemporary style dance. The guest teacher, Ms. Michelle asked everyone to get started with some improvisation. She reminded everyone to keep moving, and no matter what, try not to be shy and just commit to whatever it is they were doing.
After a few minutes of improv, she pulled everyone back to attention while she started to teach a short routine.
Once everyone had learned the entire routine, everyone divided up in small groups to perform the number for everyone else. Ms. Michelle asked the dancers to improve as a group, working together for the first several bars before the choreography began.
Ms. Michelle offered some tips and then everyone did the piece again in 2 large groups.
She pulled out a small group of the dancers who she felt were not only doing the choreography well, but also really going for the improv. section and showing a great deal of intensity and expression.
All in all, there were SO many great things happening during this master class. Such great dancing, creative improvisation, unique choreography and such great insensity of emotions.
It was a wonderful class. Every single student seemed to learn so much and displayed such fine work.
The June workshop started out much like all the others, with everyone stretching and warming up.
Then it was time to stretch out their backs and stomachs with some donuts. Flipping back over in another back stretch. Touching their toes… or the floor… whatever ladies, just try and keep your knees straight! A half split with a back arch A back bend with one leg extended. More leg extensions And more back bends There were some jumps. Before everyone stretched tall on releve. Then, splits. And of course, splits with arched backs. Grabbing that back leg or foot is always an extra nice touch. Center splits. From there it was time to start tumbling. A few forward rolls got everybody started and then it was time for cartwheels. And then one armed carthweels. It wasn’t long of course before people started throwing their aerials. Ms. Kelly was sure to include everyone, even those who weren’t able to do aerials yet. She head them working their one armed cartwheels and then started spotting them with a lift, as she would for an aerial, so that they could begin to feel how one would go. Those who had their aerials really solid, were asked to work on them in combinations with heel stretches before and after. Once a dancer has her aerial, Ms. Kelly works with them to clean it up. She has them concentrate on keeping their legs straight and pointing their toes of course, but also on hitting a good split position in the air and keeping their arms straight and by their hips rather than just flailing around haphazardly. Until the final stunt looks more like this: It’s interesting to watch the workshop as each student is at a different level with each trick so Ms. Kelly and her team adapt their teaching and spotting accordingly to help everyone progress. Here she is working with some who are still trying to learn their aerials. Nobody is every left to just settle on what they can already do. Everyone is always encouraged to keep trying new things. Like putting tricks together with dance moves. Not only was there a lot of work on “regular (sideways) aerials, but there was a lot of work on front walkovers which lead into front aerials. Here’s another example of an aerial in combination with a dance move. There was a whole series of handstands. And then everyone worked handstands into different tricks as well. There straddle press handstands are always fun. More walkovers. It’s interesting to look at the pictures afterward because I can almost never tell which direction the walkovers were going (front or back.) Your guess is as good as mine, because I’m sure everyone was working them both ways. The walkovers were mixed in with some back beds, which the girls practice standing up from as well as kicking over out of. And of course, some of the girls were working on their back handsprings. And their back tucks. As the time wore down, everyone took their last few turn on the mat doing their “thing of their choice” as Ms. Kelly calls it. This is a time to work on your latest, newest, most favorite trick a few more times, before the class is over. It was another fun first hour or so of tumbling. Quickly, it was time to gather for a group photo before everybody moved on to work on their contemporary style dancing.
For the second portion of their workshop, the younger ladies moved into the back room of the studio to spend and hour with the special guest teacher, Ms. Marianne. They would be working on incorporating their acrobatic tricks into their jazz style dancing. Naturally, Marianne began her time with them with some more warm ups and stretches.
It’s always nice to see so much attention being paid to stretching. Not only does having nicely stretched out muscles help prevent the dancers from injuring themselves, but it makes for some beautiful dancing and tumbling movements. Next it was time to start some across the floor work. Battements were first.
After the battements to the front, Marianne wanted them to do them to the side and add a heel grab which eventually could be spun. Before anybody could spin it was important for them to figure out how to hit the proper heel stretch position. The practiced both in the middle of the floor and by the ballet barre.
Then the started moving the little pattern across the floor. Some girls just hit the heel stretch, and others worked to get it turning.
In the following trip across the room, the added an illusion after the heel grab/turn.
There was lots and lots of work on those illusions before they tried them back in the pattern again.
Then the did another whole sequence. A couple of turns, the high kick, an illusion.
The moved on to work on pique turns some.
They also worked on some split jumps.
The time went quickly, but the girls seemed to learn a lot in their time together. At the end, everyone gave Marianne a big hug to thank her for teaching them.
The second workshop this month was Acro and Jazz. The younger students were up first, again, and they spent their first hour with Ms. Kelly doing their stretches and warm ups and then tumbling.
Stretching themselves out tall, long and lean.
Stretching their straddles.
Back bends with leg extensions.
Back bends, reaching for their ankles to get the fullest stretch.
Touching the floor (folding themselves in half.)
Half splits with back arches.
Pulling those back legs up to touch their heads.
More leg extensions to the back.
Back bend kick overs.
Left and Right splits.
With their bodies stretched out and warm, it was time to get moving.
First up, like always, were forward rolls.
One armed cartwheels were next.
Next up, were their aerials.
Those who’ve “had” their aerials confidently for awhile, worked on putting them together with other movements, like this, where she starts in a heel stretch.
There were other combinations as well. Like this chest roll into a donut pose.
And then there was still a lot more work on those aerials.
There were also hand stands.
And handstands which “fall” into a back bend and then are stood up straight.
Still more aerials.
This next set is interesting and kind of fun. So, this one student was struggling with her aerial, even with a spot. She had her arms up near her head instead of down by her bottom and despite her flexibility she wasn’t getting her legs into the proper straddled position while in the air.
Ms. Lynne wanted her to see and feel what the correct position was like in the air, so she held her upside down in the air, like this….
And then she got herself into the right position. There! That is where the legs should be when she’s doing her aerials. Perfect.
There were also lots of walkovers. Mostly back walkovers, but a few front ones as well.
Once the students get to a place where they can consistently complete the trick, the teacher’s get “picky” and start really pushing the girls for the very best straight legs and split positions and those (ever popular) beautifully pointed toes.
Some of the littlest ones still use the “cheese” mat to do their walkovers (or back bend kickovers)but soon enough they’ll be transitioning these skills to the floor.
Here’s another student putting a heel stretch before her aerial.
As the time was winding down, the students had the opportunity to practice their “thing of their choice.” This results in everyone working on their favorite of all the tricks they have either newly mastered or are very close to hitting.
Like this chest roll.
And another one,again combination with a donut pose afterward.
And those back walkovers.
And even a couple of back handsprings.
It was great class. So many great tricks and lots of fun.
Before moving over to the back room for jazz, everyone gathered with Ms. Kelly and Ms. Marianne for a couple of group photos.
Once the older students finished the first our of the workshop working with Ms. Kelly on their acro tricks, they changed gears. Ms. Marianne was going to work with them all on incorporating some of their acro skills into their jazz dancing.
But of course, she needed to run them all through her own warm up….
They didn’t just jog in place. They did jumping jacks, the did lunges, they even did….
Remind me never to try to workout with Ms. Marianne!
Actually, no, if you want to get fit, you should definitely work out with her.
Anyway, they stretched some more.
There were even a few over splits for the extra flexible ladies.
Then they did a whole bunch of crunches.
After all these crunches, they stretched back out their tummies and backs for a moment.
And then it was time to start dance moves across the floor.
First up, battements to the front and to the sides.
After a couple of passes, they added an ankle grab and a spin in that position for those who were able.
And alright, so by all those pictures you may never believe that any of the girls spun in their ankle grab position, but they did. It’s just whenever dancers start to spin, getting good pictures can become sort of tricky.
Then they started a more complex pattern. I can’t remember how it went exactly, but included a turn, into a backwards kick up towards their head into a heel grab followed by an illusion.
Then they did it on their opposite side, heading the other direction.
For the next combination, Marianne had them to a toward roll out of a penche position (with their back legs extended behind them while they lean forward.) It went kind of like this, only I’m not sure these pictures quite do it justice.
But of course, if it was just the leg extension, and the role, that wouldn’t be much of a combination. So after the roll, the dancers were supposed to a series of three leaps.
The very best “rollers” didn’t use their arms at all.
Oh. And did I mention there was a pique turn that started them out, before the forward roll movement?
Really it was all very impressive.
And everyone was working very very hard.
Also, when it comes to those forward rolls, the same problem with the awkward photos occurs. It’s tough to capture the girls doing the movement but not have it come off looking awkward.
Next Marianne had them doing knee drop leaps.
She helped the girls figure out what position they were aiming for in the air.
So then for the next pass there were several different spins which the did into their knee drops.
So turns… turns… turns…
All those turns led them to the jump.
Of course, once everyone had their first go, they turned it around and went back across the floor, doing the moves on the other leg.
Finally, the did another series of across the floor movements. This time there were several more types of spins which led them into an illusion.
Okay, and there must have been a few leaps in there as well. It was actually pretty complicated.
This next series of pictures of one girl spinning turned out well. She looks so lovely in every picture and that is hard to do.
Here are some of those illusions finally.
It really was an amazing workshop. Honestly, the combinations that Marianne was throwing out at them to work on were very difficult and intense. I had a hard time keeping up with my camera. The dance and acrobatic tricks that she got out of them, even in this workshop setting where they really were just learning, there was some amazing dancing going on.