Dancer's Diary November '16

So, what's been happening in the world of dance this month?  Well, there have been bits and pieces of news I could bring you.  But there's nothing earth-shattering to report that won't keep.

Instead, I'm mixing things up a little (it is nearly Christmas, after all)

This month, you get:-

  • A plea from my heart
  • Dance gifts inspiration
  • A brief bluffer's guide to seasonal favorite Nutcracker
  • A life-sized ballerina made out of cake (really)
  • Some muscial magic for you dance teachers
  • And finally, meet Lilli, the happiest girl in the world

A Christmastime plea from the heart

As you know, I sell my own DVDs and online classes here on DanceClass.com

I also feature a few gifts and bits and pieces of dancewear that you can purchase from Amazon, which is easy for everyone.  When you do purchase something I suggest, I make a few pennies on each sale. 

WELL, I'M NOT DOING THAT HERE

Let's face it, if your inbox is anything like mine at this time of year, it's stuffed to overflowing with offers and links and tugs on your wallet.

So there are no links here, and nothing has been placed on this list because I've been asked or incentivized to do so.  These are all just my suggestions so you can do your own research. I won't make a dime from any of this.

OK, but why?

I would urge you, wherever you live in the world, to buy from local, independent retailers if you possibly can. 

It's a tough climate for anyone who makes or sells anything for a living (it's been this way for a while now). 

But particularly, there is very little money sloshing around in the world of dance.  No dance teacher I know has ever become rich.  And I know of many independent shops selling dance kit, shoes and accessories who support the dance teachers and their classes, and often live within meagre profit margins.

So I'm leaving it up to you.  If you adore dance or know someone who does, please buy a dance-themed gift from a local retailer who will genuinely love to have your business. 

Thank you, from us all, for your cherished support.

Christmas gifts inspiration

OK, so, you either want to buy a gift for the dance lover in your life, or you need a few suggestions of your own to mention to Santa.

Idea 1: Dance themed bath and body treats

Why not put together a dance themed gift basket of indulgence treats?  There are all sorts of things that are named after dancers or have dance-related connections.

Try perfume such as Vaganova from Amrita Apothecary, Ballet by Yardley, Iris Prima by Penhaligon's, or if you want to blow the budget, Strange Invisible make a divine perfume called, simply, Prima Ballerina.

One of the most famous nail polishes in the world (widely known as The Queen's favorite) is Ballet Slippers by Essie (and it's brilliant - it literally suits everyone). 

And there are dozens of soaps shaped as tutus and ballet slippers.

Even as just a couple of stocking stuffers, the nail polish and soap are only going to cost you a few dollars, but are sweet and thoughtful gifts for the ballet lover.

From Amrita ApothecaryVaganova perfume
Ballet Slippers by EssieBallet slippers by Essie
From Scottish Fine SoapsBallet slippers soap

Idea 2: Create your own ballet charm bracelet

How about jewelry?  As these adorable charm bracelets show, it's possible to find them made up with the charms already in place, telling the story of a ballet.  Or you could just buy a plain bracelet and perhaps a single charm and then add to the collection at each birthday or Christmas for years to come.

Nutcracker charm bracelet by lottylou.comNutcracker charm bracelet
Ballerina charm bracelet by lottylou.comBallerina charm bracelet

Idea 3: Plants and flowers named after dancers

A lovely gift for someone who adores dance and who also loves nature and the outdoors, is a plant, chosen not just for its beauty, but also its name.
These below are just a few - there are others such as Ginger Rogers, Anna Pavlova, those that are named after dance steps such as pirouette and arabesque and things associated with dance, such a ballet shoes, tiaras and tutus.

Margot Fonteyn primula
Isadora peony
Foxtrot tulip
Darcy Bussell rose
Dancing Girl impatiens
Dancing dolls fuchsia

Posting these pictures makes me think of my lovely Mum, sadly no longer with us, but the person who first inspired me to dance.  She absolutely loved that fuchsias look like ballet dancers, and alwasy mentioned it whenever she passed any.  To this day I have an overwhelming desire to pop fuchsia buds to get them to stretch out their long spindly legs and unfurl their skirts.

Bluff your way through Nutcracker

Planning a festive trip to the ballet?  Find it hard to follow the story?

Fear not, the traditional Christmas ballet Nutcracker is super-easy to follow, even without the program notes. 

But if you really need to brush up on your fairy-tale knowledge, here is a very brief overview of the story.  (I'm missing loads of bits out, so I don't give too much away.  This is just so you get the gist of it...)

At a glittering party on Christmas Eve, one of the guests – a local toymaker – gives a gift to each of the children, including the two children of the house, Clara and her brother Fritz.

Clara is given a Nutcracker and adores it, but the clumsy boys at the party break the beautiful gift.  The toymaker mends it a little, and the Nutcracker is carefully left under the tree on its own little bed.  But once the party ends, Clara is again drawn to her gift, and falls asleep under the giant Christmas tree, holding her treasured Nutcracker.

At the stroke of midnight, Clara awakes to a different world.  The toys come alive, her Nutcracker does too, and an army of mean mice descend.  A battle is fought, victory to the toys!  The mice army retreats and Clara is left with her Nutcracker, transformed in a dashing prince.

They sail away on a sleigh to an enchanted land where everything is sweets and candy, all of which come alive and dance in turn, each with their own distinctive style. 

In the grand finale, all the sweets come together to bid her and the prince farewell.  The prince reassures her that the party is not ending, that she will always be able to see it.

See awakes on Christmas morning, the Nutcracker still in her arms.  Was it a dream, or is the Nutcracker magical..?

Best bluffer's tip:
Refer to the ballet as 'Nutcracker' rather than 'The Nutcracker'.  It's just what most dancers call it.

Photo of the month

If all that talk of candy has got you in the mood for something sweet, how about this?

Cake International

That is a life-sized ballerina made out of cake.  CAKE.

Created by baker Emma Morris the dancer (and her swan) were featured at the recent Cake International competition.

The masterpiece is 5'4" tall, needed a special van to transport her in, and part of her leg broke off during the journey and had to be reattached using fondant icing.

Who ever said the life of a dancer is easy? 

Top tip for teachers

For your December classes, the last of the year, when you might have a ‘just for fun’ lesson that doesn’t fit the rest of your usual curriculum, or you just want to sign off with a big smile, why not simply change the music?

If you teach Hip Hop try something classical on your pupils. 
Teaching Ballet?  Try something ultra-modern or just anything with a totally unexpected tempo.

These are just a few clips I’ve grabbed from YouTube.  I've deliberately picked a variety of rhythms and moods from staccato to calm and fluid, from traditional to current.
Whether ballet, modern, hip hop or partner dance, mix it up... Go on, I dare you.

Commodores -
Nightshift

Andy Burrows -
Light the Night

Ray Lynch -
Celestial Soda Pop

Mason Daring -
From the Earth to The Moon

Ludovico Einaudi -
La Nascita Della Cose Segrete

Christine and The Queens -
Tilted

Percy Grainger -
Mock Morris

Erasure -
Home

Sarah McMachlan -
Song for a Winter's Night

Video of the month

I received this from happy customer Daniela, who bought our Hip Hop for beginners class for her 11 year old goddaugher's birthday present.

"I feel I really have to share this video with you! Featuring my godchild Lilli, far away in Oman, when she realised she got the dance classes for her birthday"

Adorable.  The gift of dance always goes down a treat.
Ooh, and happy birthday Lilli, from all of us here at DanceClass.com x

And finally...

I'm a total kid about Christmas - I just adore it.

So it just remains for me to wish you all a magical festive time. 

I hope Santa brings you everything you hope for.

And have fun looking forward to the dancing adventures we'll all have next year.

Coming up...

My next diary entry will at the end of December - just in time for the New Year and the start of your 2017 classes.

Top tips in my 'How not to mess up your first dance class' series will be back with a BANG - dealing with lots of information and issues for both pupils and teachers.

And I'll keep my ear out for the dance world gossip and news as usual.

Until then, happy dancing and happy Christmas

Dancer's diary › November 2016