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Ballet Talk for Dancers
Kathleen Sinclair

RDA Pacific Festival 2009 in Provo Utah

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Kathleen Sinclair

I welcome all RDAP dancers, directors and parents to start a discussion on the upcoming RDAP Festival 2009 in Provo Utah, May 6-9th.

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Kathleen Sinclair

RDAP member companies,


Your adjudication tour is underway. Share your impressions and experiences with others here.

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Does anyone know the logistics for festival? I looked on the festival website which lists adjudicator and faculty details, as well as the tentative schedule - but didn't see information on where the performances/classes will be held.


Doing a quick search online, I've figured that the performances will be held at the Covey Center in Provo. And on the schedule, it says "arrive at Marriott" but it would be great if there were specifics (I guess I could wait until the information is passed on to the companies - maybe they already have and our directors just haven't given the info to us - but I'd like to have this information ahead of time to plan out things). Are the classes going to be at the Covey? Will there be internet access at the hotel?

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Your Artistic Director already has that information. I would ask her for the information you are needing!

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Kathleen Sinclair



As a Pacific director, I can tell you that we have not yet been informed on where classes are to be held. I do know that all the class venues are to be within walking distance of the hotel and theater. All of the activities are taking place in downtown Provo.


There is internet access at the Marriott Provo.

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Temps de cuisse

We are waiting for Festival programming TODAY!

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Kathleen Sinclair

Here is the faculty listed to date for the RDA/P Festival 2009 in Provo, Utah



Alaine Haubert - Pointe/Variations - Technique class

Mikhail Troupakov - Technique class - Men's class

Adam Sklute, Artistic Director Ballet West - Honors class - Men's class - Technique class

Pamela Robinson, Ballet Mistress Ballet West - Pointe/Variations

Nicholas Ade, Pacific Northwest Ballet School - Technique class - Men's class

Maria Vegh, Maria Vegh Ballet Centre - Pedagogy- Junior dancers will be used in sessions

Angela Banchero-Kelleher, Utah Valley University Faculty - Modern Dance

Kim Strunk and Titos Sompa - African Dance

Mark Borchelt, Interlochen/Utah Valley University Faculty - Technique class


Junior Classes


Shayla Bott, Utah Valley University Faculty

Heather Gray,Utah Regional Ballet

Mark Borchelt, Interlochen/Utah Valley University Faculty

Maria Vegh, Maria Vegh Ballet Centre

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Thanks, Ms. Sinclair!


We got word of the adjudication results on Saturday - one of the benefits of being towards the end of the adjudication tour is not having to wait as long for the programming :dry:

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Blogging from RDA/P!


We arrived yesterday (Tuesday) evening, which was probably earlier than most companies. The hotel (Marriott) is nice - there was a mix-up with the room assignments but our rep got on the phone and straightened it all out. Some rooms have 2 double beds plus a sofa bed which is nice for rooms of 4. Not to mention the fridge and microwave - you don't usually see that!


Our company is performing in the emerging concert (Thursday morning) so we had stage rehearsal this afternoon. The walk from the hotel to the Covey Center is not too bad - maybe 10 minutes. The center is very nice - even though our "dressing room" is a sectioned off area in what appears to be a basement (but it's not - it's right off backstage), it is still a nice set up. There are big screen tvs located backstage and in some of the dressing rooms which is great because you can see what's happening onstage. (Really nice for festival, when you are getting ready, since you are not familiar with the other companies' music).


The stage dimensions are larger than ours back home (and larger than we had thought - our director misread) - so that was a nice surprise. I should point out that the backstage area is concrete so cross-overs behind the stage is kind of tricky. They did tape down a carpet walkway to make it less slippery. We thought it would be an issue so our choreographer made a couple of adjustments to minimize the number of cross-overs. Another company had a ton of cross-overs - seemed like there was a slew of dancers running back there - but they didn't seem to mind.


Forgot to mention - we used one of the upstairs studio to warm up. It is a concrete floor with some kind of flooring cover that looks a bit like wood (but not) - not slippery but the grainy-ness feeling of the floor bothered some of the other girls dancing on pointe.


Opening ceremonies - Utah Regional Ballet (the pro company) performed a contemporary piece. I don't have the program in front of me so I don't have the title. I believe the choreographer is Alan Hineline, music by Jerome Begin. As usual, the technique was flawless. Also, their synchronization (and asynchronization - for canons) is always spot-on. These qualities apply to their 2nd company (who is hosting) as well,


Just a couple of notes: Loud pointe shoes! I don't know if it's the floor or if it was just that particular dancer (combined with soft music), but it was a bit jarring. Also, I didn't like that the sleeve lengths on the costumes were different - some had spaghetti-straps, one had cap sleeves, another had juliet (3/4 sleeves with a bell-shape end...). It made me wonder why the dancers had different sleeves (whether it signified something). I figured it didn't.


Lastly, dinner - serving dancers can be difficult (they're so picky!). I thought dinner was good, except... there was no meat served. There was a soup (macaroni pasta w/ a few different kinds of beans) which provided some protein, but I think a lot of dancers would have preferred some kind of meat.


All in all, a good start to hopefully a great festival.

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I love that Heather Gray is teaching the Junior classes! I remember watching her DANCE at my first RDA. Gorgeous dancer, both her and her sister!


Merde to all the companies this week! Have fun and be safe!

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Mrs. Stahlbaum

Here's a local newspaper article on the festival: RDA Pacific

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Thursday (May 7)


Honors class in the morning, taught by Mr. Skulte (director of Ballet West). I didn't watch the class, but per dancers who took class - there were a lot of students in the class. Maybe 53? The level of the students were varied (I believe 2 students from each company were chosen, plus all or most of the guy dancers). Our group will take class from Mr. Skulte on Saturday, so more on his class later.


Emerging Choreographer performance - our company performed in this so we didn't get to see the other pieces, except bits and pieces on the backstage tvs.


Pointe class (Pamela Robinson, ballet mistress from Ballet West) - it feels counter intuitive to have pointe class before having technique class but for most of us, we already had warm-up (for the performance) and/or took the honors class. The class was a lot of fun. Ms. Robinson didn't give many individual corrections - more general corrections to the class.


Technique class (Mikhail Troupakov, who had taught character class at the 2008 festival) - different style of ballet from what our group is used to, but I enjoyed this class as well. I think there were some mixed reactions (from our group) about his class - for example, to some, it seemed like he was trying to force turnout. However, if you listened to WHAT he was saying, it made sense - namely to turn out the back leg/foot and not worry about the front leg/foot. Most of us try turning out so much on the front leg and neglect the back. But I guess it was the fact that he kept correcting this made some people feel like he wanted people to force their turnout.


There were 3 (specific) corrections that I found interesting, as I hadn't heard them before:


- During grand rond jetes (or whatever the step is called, during rond de jambe a terre), he wanted the leg to go from attitude front and straighten before moving it to ecarte. His reasoning was that in classical ballet, you never move a bent leg (it always has to be straight).


- Coming down from pirouettes, you should roll down to the heel on the standing leg and then put down the foot that was in passe. This way will ensure that you always have a solid finish.


- Opening from a pirouette into a fouette - leg doesn't go to devant facing en face, it should go to efface.


We were short on time so we only did a couple of allegro steps (which is my favorite). The last step (petite allegro) was challenging and fun, but since we didn't get to spend a lot of time on it, it was a bit overwhelming for some of the other dancers.


The only somewhat negative thing I would have to say about his class is that he is one of those teachers who claim that their method is the correct method and whatever else you have been taught is wrong. For me, I know that's not true and that you just absorb everything that teachers tell you (and do whatever your current director/choreographer wants you to do) but I think it can be confusing for younger dancers.


Ballroom - I don't have the teacher's name in front of me - the dancers enjoyed learning the cha-cha. The class was split, with some learning the guy's part and others learning the girl's (there were only a handful of boys in class) and they would rotate partners after every few minutes. I thought this was a great idea so that everyone would get a chance to dance with everyone else. He also had them introduce themselves to their partner (nothing complicated - just their name and where they were from) - our company is part of a group comprised of 3 companies and we'll be taking class with them for the entire festival, so it is a good thing to kind of get to know each other. This class was a big hit.


These classes were at the Utah Valley University which has really nice facilities. It was about a 15 minute shuttle ride from the hotel/theater. The floors are a little harder than what we are used to, but that's to be expected.


Dinner was lasagna, rolls and salad. And there was strawberry cake. We had to scarf down our food to get to rehearsal (never a good idea, in my opinion), but from what I could taste, the lasagna was great.


Performance - there were 6 pieces (each about 15 minutes long) and two intermissions. Maybe the intermissions were necessary for logistical/technical purposes but I don't think we needed two of them. Most of the audience stayed seated during the intermissions.


I'm not going to critique any of the pieces but I did have some comments about them in general. 1 piece was barefoot (I think), 2 on pointe and 3 on flat (except for the 2 lead girls who were on pointe). I don't like "ugly" choreography - it doesn't matter if the dancer is at the level of a prima ballerina or just an intermediate student - some choreography just does not look good. Like attitude to the side, in a skirt. For a somewhat classical piece. Also, if the choreographer is going to put in a specific head movement or body roll (as silly as I thought it looked), all dancers need to do the choreography. Otherwise it just looks really bad.


Costumes - the costumes shouldn't distract from the dancing. For one piece, I thought the choice of costumes/headpiece reminded me of a lyrical piece in a dance competition (not to mention that the headpiece was distracting to the dancers as they would flick their head slightly to get it out of their face). Also, there is one style of leotard that I don't think flatters any body type. It's just the way the fabric is put together (in addition to the fabric chosen) which is just not a good combination. It's popular, though, but I wish choreographers would pick something different.


Anyway, those are my opinions for the first full day. Will report back later...

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Thanks, GretchenStar, for giving us a peek at the proceedings. I am enjoying your detailed commentary!

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Thanks for your kind comment, Latte and laptop!




(Our company performed in the evening performance so we had a relatively easy day).


Improv/choreography: I don't have the teacher's name in front of me, but dancers (in our group, at least) really enjoyed the class. I've taken improv and choreography classes before so it was more of a refresher for me, but nonetheless informative. I liked how she explained improv and movement. Most of the class was spent with her calling out words (such as "above", "melt") and the dancers striking a pose corresponding to the word. She wanted us to step outside the box and not go for the most literal or the most abstract definition of the word, but the most interesting.


Then we paired off into groups of two and spent maybe 5-10 minutes choreographing something related to a specific word, such as "help", "rotate", "u-turn", which we then showed to the whole class.


One of the things that I find most distracting about these types of classes is that because it is so unfamiliar to us as ballet students that it's a bit uncomfortable - that people start laughing and giggling. Yes, you may look silly trying to "un-melt", but just think that EVERYONE is looking silly, so it doesn't matter. I guess that is something you learn with age and experience?


Ballet technique: Adam Skulte, director of Ballet West. This class was on the theater stage. We started about 10 minutes late (tech rehearsal ran over) and ended about 5 minutes over.


My only problem with this class was that it was difficult to see him demonstrate steps at the barre - the barres were set up parallel to the front of the stage (3 rows) and he stood at the front of the center barre. I happened to be at the end of the center barre and dancers in my row were clinging onto the barre (one girl had her hands on the barre, and her chin resting on her hands!) while he showed the step so I couldn't see. I tried moving to the side (closer to one of the other barres) while he showed the step, but there were other dancers there. That's one of the problems of having barres set up that way.


And he also would lower his voice towards the end of his corrections (which again, was difficult to hear). But I think I got most of what he was saying. One of his "things" was that when you do tendu derierre at the barre, the head turns towards the front leg (which may be the standing leg, therefore - towards the barre). I took class from a teacher before who wanted this too (I think it's also part of the ABT's new curriculum?). Anyway, it made me wonder, though - if the head turns towards the front leg, what situations does this apply to? Mr. Skulte said "always", but if you are in 2nd arabesque (at the barre), do you still turn your head towards the barre?


Anyway, great class. I wish we had time to do more combinations, particularly allegro steps.


The rest of the day was taken up by tech rehearsal (only 30 mins) and then prepping for the performance. Unlike previous festivals, where tech rehearsals are in the morning, these rehearsals were spaced out. I think it was something like technique class on stage for pieces 1,2,3 - then tech rehearsals for each piece. Then technique class for 4,5,6 - then tech rehearsals for each of those pieces. I didn't like the schedule initially, because then it meant we had less time in between tech and the performance, but it actually worked out well because the technique class warmed us up for our tech.


We got boxed dinners (a 1/2 turkey sandwich, fruit cup and a macaroon cookie - I didn't eat the sandwich yet, but the cookie was good :rolleyes: ). I think the rest of the dancers (non-performers) had Mexican food (enchiladas).


One note that I forgot to mention (about Thursday's performance) - if dancers are wearing leather ballet shoes on stage, they should be broken in enough that the shoes don't squeak. It's as distracting as loud pointe shoes. Although, I should note that the marley was sticky - it didn't bother me for class (in canvas technique shoes) but the stickiness did affect my turns (even chaine turns on pointe) during our performance. I guess it's better, though, for a stickier floor than a slippery one!


Just one more day of festival - and then it will all just be a memory! Seems to have gone by really fast!

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Last update for Festival 2009:


Saturday -


Took class from Nicholas Ade. Great class, but I realized towards the end of class that he talks a lot... not that that is bad, but it did shorten class a little.


His corrections (mostly general, a few individual): relax fingers, don't start a step early (that would count as a false start in the Olympics), 5th should be closed - no big toe showing on the other side. For his fingers/hands comment - he said that babies ages 1-3 months have perfect ballet hands. I personally think (from what he was demonstrating) that the fingers were a little too curved/bent for my preference.


This class was at the hotel, in one of the conference rooms (with a temporary raised wood floor covered with marley).


I observed character class (Mr. Wacko, pronounced "wasko") - great class. Normally, I don't think too much of character class, but the teacher was energetic and funny. The kids in class (a reduced number as this was the last class of festival for this group) seemed to be enjoying themselves, even when the steps were a little challenging. This was some of the girls' favorite class for all of festival.


The facilities for this festival were great. Some people thought the stage floor was hard but really - most stages are harder than studio floors and it didn't bother me.


We also had a "happy muscles" seminar - basically we did some stretching (for lack of a better word) with a tennis ball. There were a lot of people in the class - I think it was at least 2 groups combined (each with about 3 companies) so there was a lot of giggling and chatting. The instructor did try to keep the class quiet but was unsuccessful. There were also some moms from another company that spent the whole class talking. Not even just an occasional whisper but full on talking for the full class. arg!


The performance was pretty good. My favorite piece of the whole festival was Portland Youth Ballet's (I don't have the piece title in front of me, but it was a tango piece - not just great choreography and good technique, but also was cute and playful). And I am happy to say that only 1 piece had fouettes (well, I didn't see Friday night's performances) - in past festvials, it seemed like at least 4-5 pieces had fouettes. I just see that as a ploy to make a piece more exciting. (I'm usually the dancer in our group that has to do fouettes on stage and I can honestly say that I find them boring to watch... :angry: )


One note - if a choreographer or director wants dancers' hair down, they need to make sure that the hair doesn't interfere with the choreography. I saw one girl brush her hair away from her face during the piece. It was distracting.


The gala banquest went well - at first, there was a little confusion whether we needed to have the invitation that was in the packet or if our badges were sufficient. Then they had to get the seating chart out to direct dancers to the appropriate tables (the tables were numbered but not labeled w/ company names). Salad was already on the table, there was some orange drink (orangeade?) that was yummy, and the entree came quickly after salad was done. Normally, we have to wait FOREVER for the entree, but not this time - as soon as someone finished their salad, the server would pick up the plate, and then bring the entree in less than 3 minutes. Dessert was cheesecake (my fav!).


All in all, festival went pretty smoothly and I think everyone had a good time.

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