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RDA Pacific festival recap


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I attended RDA/P in Long Beach, CA from last Wednesday to Saturday, so here's a recap:


Opening ceremonies on Thursday morning - introduction of faculty, directors, festival volunteers, plus a performance by Melissa Sandvig (a Long Beach Ballet Theatre alumni) and another piece with live drummers and 5 or 6 dancers performing different types of dance (not positive on what types of dance they were, but my guess would be Bharatanatyam, jazz, tap, tai chi, wu shu and contemporary ballet).


Thursday night performance - my favorite piece was by Utah Regional Ballet but I don't remember the name of it off the top of my head. It was their main piece (not emerging) and I think it closed the show? I think they have excellent synchronization and execution. A few dancers commented that most of the companies seemed young this year (compared to other years), by which they mean most of the veteran dancers graduated and it was a new/younger group of dancers for many of the companies. I felt the performances weren't as polished as we've seen in the past (for this reason), but still enjoyable to watch.


I guess the stage was slippery - about 5 girls slipped or fell.


Friday night performance - I think in one piece, the girls on stage were talking (and not as in, it was part of the choreography). I could be mistaken but for one part when the girls gathered in a circle, facing each other, it sounded like they were whispering... I reminded the other dancers in my group not to talk on stage. If you accidentally hit someone, you can apologize later (after the performance!). I think they took care of the floor as only 1 girl slipped. The piece that closed (Rich Man's Frug?) was enjoyable to watch.


Saturday night performance - our company performed two pieces on this night so we did not get to see the performance from the audience. We did get to see Santa Cruz Ballet's piece (the director/choreographer received a choreographic award for this piece) and also an emerging piece by Long Beach Ballet (set to music by Kelly Clarkson). Though this piece was interesting and (from the audience response) a crowd-pleaser, I felt that the piece seemed more fitting for a dance competition than what is usually performed at festival... (but that's just my opinion).


Classes - I took a pointe/variations class from Gelsey Kirkland. We did a few exercises at barre and then some in the center, before moving on to the variation (the 1st fairy from Sleeping Beauty). We got about 3/4s of the way through the variation before class was over. If I remember correctly, most of the classes were only 80 minutes long, not 90 mins that most of us were used to.


My only complaint was that I wasn't sure a variation with a bit of difficulty (the hops on pointe) would be appropriate for a class with mixed ability. There were 3 companies in the class and though I think most of the dancers were classified as "company" (as opposed to apprentice or junior) - some of the dancers were visibly struggling with the steps and choreography.


I also took a ballet technique class from Ms. Kirkland. In both classes, I felt she gave a lot of good feedback about how to use the arms/head and upper body (which I felt most of her focus was on). Many of my fellow dancers loved her class.


Our company was also scheduled to take ballet technique from Laura Alonso (which we had to miss because of rehearsal) and Nader Hamed. I have taken class from Mr. Hamed in the past (a couple of master classes here and there) but not recently, so it was a great opportunity. I really enjoyed the class and felt the combinations pushed/challenged all of us. I particularly liked his petite allegro step (one of my strong suits!).


None of the ballet technique teachers (that I took class with) gave many personal corrections, just general corrections to the class, but given the large size of most of the classes, this was to be expected.


Other classes (I did not take, so this is based on comments from other dancers) - modern taught by Aaron Cash. I heard many great things about this class, as well as the African class (I don't remember the teacher's name but he was ballet-trained so he could relate and address the problem most of the students were having letting go of the ballet posture, and freeing up the torso). Joe Istre taught jazz (as he did last year) and he remains to be a popular teacher.


I also had the opportunity to see a class taught by Johnny Zhong (who choreographed Long Beach Ballet's pieces this year and last year) - he did give more individual corrections and suggested some interesting imagery to help the dancers with some movements. He came off a bit brusque in his corrections (from the dancers' comments afterwards) but I think it may be more of a cultural/language thing.


Facilities - most of the classes took place at the dance studios at CSULB, which are nice and large. The honors class and audition class both took place on stage at the Carpenter Center, which I heard was cold (though for one of them, they turned off the ac so it was not a problem as originally anticipated). The performances were at the Carpenter, which has a nice, big stage. The house didn't seem particularly big (seats just over 1,000) but the seats are raked a lot (not sure if I am using this term correctly but I heard a director say this) so you really have to project far when you are performing. As a member of the audience, I liked the seats at the slope they were because the people in front of me didn't block my view of the stage.


The dressing rooms were amazing - our company got one to ourselves (which is quite unusual at festival) and it was big enough to fit 14 girls with lots of room to spare. The only thing was that it was on the 3rd floor (we took the elevator on a couple of ocassions but took the stairs the other times). There was also a green room right off the stage with a restroom and water cooler (plus room to stretch).


There was a lot of room backstage, plus backstage on stage left, which is nice because most of the companies like being ready and backstage one or two pieces before their own (which can cause traffic problems when it's a small area).


What else... our company (along with one other company) stayed at the Long Beach Marriott, which is near the Long Beach Airport and has basically nothing (aside from the airport and businesses) nearby. It was a nice hotel, though, with an indoor and outdoor pool, plus a jacuzzi/sauna/fitness room. Other companies (except maybe one other one?) stayed at the Seaport Marina Hotel, which I heard will be torn down/remodeled soon. There were a lot of retail stores near this hotel (including supermarkets and food places like Jamba Juice, etc) so I'm sure many of the dancers were pleased with this.


Breakfast was provided at the Seaport Marina (we did not partake, since we were at the other hotel) and lunch was provided at CSULB. Dinner took place at the Seaport Marina. Not sure if it was for monetary reasons or if maybe the facilities did not have catering, but the food was served by festival volunteers (read: parents) and even the director of Long Beach Ballet himself! (I cannot imagine most directors doing this :angry: ).


Not sure how transportation was, as our parents had cars and drove our dancers.


One last comment - the opening party on Wednesday night, which was a luau at Bolsa Chica State Beach. It was windy and a bit chilly. Not exactly the best situation for a bonfire/bbq (as most of the dancers just wanted to eat and leave) but that's how it goes - you can't control the weather!

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I also attended RDAP this year and thought it was a lot of fun. I have never been to RDA before and it was an amazing experience. It was cool to get to see so many dancers the age as me perform and dance. All the classes were very good and I felt that I got a lot out of them, especially Nader Hamed and Laura Alonso. :D They both gave many personal corrections and most people liked their classes. Laura Alonso was very strict and straight forward, but i feel that you need that in order to get better. I think that I improved a lot just from the two classes I took from her alone. Although she called us miserable rodents :thumbsup: , everyone thought it was funny and she made sure you knew what she was talking about when she gave you a correction and wouldnt leave you alone until you corrected it. :D I personally like this about her, she seemed to want to be there and really wanted to help everyone improve. As for Zhong Zhen, he teaches at my studio year round as of two years ago. Before this he lived in China where he went to a ballet bording school, where they just took ballet classes all day long. His teachers were very strict and he even had classes where they would just do turns the whole time without a break. I think he is strict and straight forward because the teachers he grew up taking from were strict and straight forward and that is just what he is use to. I personally like him bc of this and it makes you work harder. :sweating: I feel you get more out of a class with them than the teachers who are just sweet about everything. As long as you work hard and don't goof off they will like you. :thumbsup:

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I didn't go this year, because at my studio I'm one level below the minimum level to go, but a lot of my friends in the next level up went and had a great time!


Anyway, I'm writing because I go to Santa Cruz Ballet's academy, and the choreographer is my teacher...I'm so proud of our company this year! So I was excited to see that you mentioned us :thumbsup:

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I just had a class with those two today!


Ahhh this is cool :grinning:

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  • 7 months later...

I am just now reading this thread. My DD attended RDA Pacific for the first time this last year. Thanks for that detailed review, GretchenStar, however there was one omission. Yuri Zhukov also won the choreographic award for a contemporary piece that City Ballet performed on Thursday called With Time We Go. Next month City Ballet is performing the same piece at the Bolshoi in Moscow -- my DD will have the experience of performing on a raked stage! LOL

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